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Monday, June 30, 2014

Wayward Pines: The Last Town by Blake Crouch

The Last Town, an ebook ARC from Thomas & Mercer, is the last in the Wayward Pines trilogy.

Since this is the final book in the trilogy, it is difficult to review it without spoilers; in fact, it was hard to review the first two books without spoilers.

Picking up in the midst of the chaos from the last complication in book 2, the plot moves quickly from one disaster to the next after the electrified fence is shut down.  

Ethan Burke unraveled the mystery portion in the previous books; now the town faces disaster and is fighting for survival.  

Discovering an unexpected bit of information, the town has to decide what is necessary to have a future in this threatening future world. The conclusion leaves an opening for possible additions to the plot.  Another book in the works, perhaps?

The series is being made into a television series which I will be sure to watch.  Mat Dillon is cast as Ethan Burke, and M. Night Shyamalan is the executive producer.  




The Wayward Pines books are weird and deliberately unsettling.  They aren't good literature, but they are addictive.   I don't know what the television series will be like--the cast does not match my images from reading the books--but I definitely want to see it.

Read in April;  blog post scheduled for June 30.

Action/Suspense/Dystopian.  July 21, 2014.  Print length:  308 pages.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dimmingwood by C. Greenwood

The Dimmingwood series is a YA fantasy series.  I enjoyed the ones I read, but each book is short (more of a novella than a novel), and then you must get the next one to continue the story.  The first in the series is a free download, and the rest aren't too expensive, but it would have nice if some of them had just been combined into longer books.

Magic of Thieves

It is dangerous to be a magicker, especially after the Praetor has ordered a cleansing to rid himself of this segment of the population.

Ilan's parents were killed in the cleansing, but the four-year-old managed to escape.  She ends up being raised among thieves and outlaws in Dimmingwood.

Ilan is a combination of strengths and weaknesses, and as an adolescent is often churlish and rude, but then she has been raised by bandits and she is an adolescent.

When Terrac, a young boy about her age, is captured, they develop a friendship in which Ilan is dominant and often brusque and ungracious.  Terrac had planned to be a priest before being taken in by the outlaw band and tries to keep a gentler attitude toward life than Ilan (which isn't difficult, as Ilan is pretty hard to take at times).

Then the bandit clan is betrayed and things begin to fall apart.

I read the next two in the series, and they were just as short.  I doubt I will continue, even though I would kind of like to know how the rest of the series goes.

YA/Fantasy.  2012.  Print length:  190 pages.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Miscellaneous

I've just finished a fascinating book by Benedict Carey.  The title is How We Learn; my blog review will be scheduled closer to the release date, but I want to share a Give Away of the book on Goodreads where 50 copies are available.

I have highlighted something on nearly every page and read the book with all the eagerness that any good novel evokes.  If I don't win a copy, I've already added it to my wish list and will order my own.  Nonfiction books deserve a place on the shelf, and I have hard copies of all my brain books, even if I read them first on my Kindle.

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Like many others, I'm concerned about genetically modified/engineered foods and found Robyn O'Brien's short Ted Talk packed with information.
  • Are we really allergic to food or to what's been done to it?
  • 1997-2002 - doubling of the peanut allergy
Most of us have never been told that peanuts are treated with cancer-causing pesticides.
Nor have we been told that they are rotated in fields that contain genetically engineered cotton, a controversial crop used in our food supply that is treated with a weed killer linked to cancer and infertility.
We tend to only hear about the peanut allergy when it comes to peanuts in the news, but a deeper look into how we grow peanuts today unearths a lot of questions.
Since when did so many kids suddenly have a peanut allergy?  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich hasn’t always been a loaded weapon on a lunchroom table.
From 1997-2002, the incidence of peanut allergy doubled.  In the last fifteen years, there has been a 50% increase in the number of children with food allergies. About 1 in 20 U.S. children have food allergies — a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s, according to a recent CDC survey.
But that’s not where it stops.  (you can read more on Robyn O'Brien's blog)



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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Brains and Neuroscience

I love "brain books" and neuroscience and neuroplasticity and have read quite a few books on the subject that are as fascinating as novels.  One of my favorite blog reads is The Guardian's Science:  Neuroscience.  

This article about the inimitable 84-year-old Clint Eastwood's latest accomplishment has some fascinating information about individuals whose creative talents continue to produce great work into the last decades of their lives.  

A few excerpts from the article:

  • Twenty years ago the phenomenon of long-living conductors was studied in a book by Steven Rochlitz, The Longevity Guide – Why Do Music Conductors Live into Their 90s? Rochlitz argued that because these musicians were allowed to keep working and to enjoy status late into their ninth decade or longer, they reciprocated by staying on form. Pablo Casals, for instance, lived to the age of 96, while Arturo Toscanini made it to 89 when the average life expectancy for a man was 50. The trend for leading conductors to live longer has also been put down to the upper body exercise involved, increasing circulation to the brain, and to the result of an artistic concentration on harmony.
  • Recent research also underlined flaws in previous attempts to show that older brains were less effective. The truth may be, scientists now suggest, that the elderly are simply handling more information in their neural archives.
  • Louise Bourgeois, the French experimental sculptor who died in 2010 at 98, certainly felt age helped. She made her greatest work after the age of 80 and once declared: "I am a long-distance runner. It takes me years and years and years to produce what I do." At 84 Bourgeois was asked if she could have made her work earlier in her career: "Absolutely not," she replied. "I was not sophisticated enough."                                                                                                                      
  • Crime novelist PD James, 93, has attempted to semi-retire herself and her detective Adam Dalgleish, but Fay Weldon, author of 34 novels so far at the age of 82, is still firing out imaginative and well-crafted salvos to her waiting readers.
One of my favorite brain books is The Brain that Changes Itself  by Norman Doidge.  It led me to many other books on the brain.  If you'd like to check out more of my "brain books" -- click here.  Some fiction shows up, but mostly the nonfiction books.

Mental illness can also be considered in the category of brain books, and Gin Jenny's review of Falling into the Fire recently caught my interest.  I've added it to my list.




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

4 More for Once Upon a Time Fantasy Challenge

A Natural History of Dragons:
A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

A lovely cover for one of NPR's Best Books of 2013--I'm not sure why I delayed reading it.    Another perfect read for Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge, the book is the memoir of a Victorian lady (in an alternate historical setting) flouting convention in order to pursue her unladylike scientific interest in dragons.

As Lady Trent says in the preface, "...this series will contain frozen mountains, foetid swamps, hostile foreigners, hostile fellow countrymen, the occasional hostile family member, bad decisions, misadventures in orienteering, diseases of an unromantic sort, and a plenitude of mud." 

I just ordered a couple of books for my oldest granddaughter, but surely she must have this one as well?  After reading the description of the deckled pages, the chestnut brown ink, and Todd Lockwood's lovely illustrations in sepia, it seems that it will have to be the hardback version for the lovely Miss Mila.  My kindle edition allowed no such sensuous tactile or visual effects.

Fantasy/Memoir/YA.  2013.  Print length:  335 pages.




The Last Falcon and Dragon Fire by Collen Ruttan

"This kickoff to a traditional fantasy series starring feisty and independent teen heroine Erynn is both well paced and engaging. The book starts in medias res, with Erynn hiding in a cave after the dragon Krystalix attacked a group of men from her kingdom returning from a horse-buying expedition, and the raid on the recently purchased animals leaves her father dead. But Erynn got a clear look at the person who struck the fatal blow, a "fair-haired man with the limp and the jagged scars," and vows to avenge the murder. When she discovers the true identity of the fair-haired man, Erynn uncovers a conspiracy that may complicate her quest. Ruttan blends the medieval and supernatural effortlessly, ably setting up a sequel to this fun fantasy novel."
-- Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

I know, I'm getting lazy, but I've got several reviews to get into this post, and the above review describes the situation so neatly.  

My main complaint is the sequence of caught! escaped! caught! escaped!  caught!  well, you get the idea.  Oh, and I didn't like the name Krystalix...it grated on me each time I saw it.  Weird.  

Overall, it is a decent series and entertaining, but not in my top tier of favorite YA fantasy.

Hmmm, although I have to admit the covers are excellent and may be among my favorites for their graphic simplicity and visual atmosphere.

YA/Fantasy.  2012 and 2013.  Print length:  Falcon - 292 pages; Dragon - 341 pages.




I'm just going to mention another one that I've finished and really liked:  Animas:  The Legacy of the Claw by C.R. Grey.  This one is another NetGalley book, and I will have to hold the review until closer to the publication date, but you can pre-order it.  

It is for a younger audience, but was a great read, and I can't wait for the next in the series.  Perfect for grandson Max, who will be entering the third grade in the fall.  It would make a great book for my daughter to read aloud to both Max and Mila.  Although the target audience is for grades 3-7, I thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Middle School.  Oct. 28, 2014.  Print length:  304 pages.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Competition by Marcia Clark

The Competition        

Los Angeles prosecutor Rachel Knight makes her third appearance in The Competition.  I have not read the previous novels in this series, but this one is very good and works well without having read the previous novels.

Two masked gunmen enter a school gym during a pep ralley and, armed to the teeth, begin shooting everyone in sight.  The chaotic attack ends in the library where it appears the shooters shot each other.

Rachel Knight and LAPD detective Bailey Keller are devastated by the carnage.  It is difficult enough to acknowledge the loss of life and the grieving parents as the two interview survivors and attempt to piece together all of the available evidence, but when it appears that the two young men believed to be the suicidal shooters are victims themselves, things get even worse.  The real perpetrators are still at large.  And they aren't finished.

The relationship between Knight and Keller works well;  they understand each other and enjoy each other's company.  I liked that the two women are at the forefront and that other strong and capable women are included.


Read in April.  Post scheduled for June 23

NetGalley/Mulholland Books

Police Procedural.  July 8, 2014.  Print length:  416 pages.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Someone Else's Skin by Sarah Hilary

Someone Else's Skin is a new series featuring DI Marnie Rome.  After the brutal murder of her parents, Marnie Rome uses work as a means of moving on, but still suffers guilt and grief that is physical as well as emotional.

The prologue occurs five years in the past with the discovery of her murdered parents.  Then the novel moves to the present and the current case to which Marnie and her partner DS Noah Jake are assigned.  In following up on that case, the two arrive at a women's shelter where they find a man severely wounded lying on the floor.

Was it attempted murder or self-defense by a woman who has been terribly abused?  Given what they learn about the woman's past, would it even matter?  How, with all of the precautions taken to keep women in the shelter hidden and safe, did the man find her, and how did he manage to get in?

This is a story about domestic abuse in a number of different ways and about homes in which subservience and violence are accepted, even encouraged.  It also deals with the effect past abuse can have on the victims, and the various ways the abused address their experiences and their abusers.  Many different threads are pulled together....

Well-written with complex characters, the novel pulls you in and shakes you up.  The secrets kept by individuals and by families can be deadly.  There are some explorations of abuse that may challenge your original thoughts.

NetGalley/Penguin Books

Crime/Psychological.  June 24, 2014.  Print length:  418 pages.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Princes Gate by Mark Ellis

Princes Gate is a new series set in London during the "phoney war," that period between Sept., 1939 and May, 1940.  Poland had been attacked, and the Germans were in the process of occupying the country.  Britain and France declared war on Germany, but no significant offensive took place.   On May 10, Germany occupied Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and that was the end of the 
phoney war.

After Poland's demise, blackout measure were put in effect (and it would be 6 years before lights were again allowed after dark), evacuations planned, shelters prepared, and rationing begun, though not yet as strict as it would be.

It is during the phoney war that Princes Gate takes place. Frank Merlin is a detective who is saddled with too many cases and too few resources since many on the force have already enlisted.  Two new cases occur:  the hit-and-run death of an emigre scientist and a young woman who had worked in the American Embassy.  These cases take priority for several reasons, but the case involving the American Embassy is especially troublesome--because Ambassador Joseph Kennedy is one of the biggest proponents for appeasement with Hitler and has aspirations of defeating Roosevelt in the next election.

Kennedy is not in the country at the time, but his opinions (and one of his minions) make investigating the murder of the young woman particularly sensitive, and numerous road-blocks are put in place.  Well-written and well-researched, the novel plays large on the positions of both Kennedy and British proponents of appeasement.   The atmosphere of the time feels realistic and palpable.

I look forward to more from this author, and more about DI Frank Merlin!


NetGalley/Matador

Crime/Historic Fiction.  June 1, 2014.  Print length:  329 pages.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

During a gap in my NetGalley reads, I was looking for an interim book and happened on Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot:  Being the correspondence of two Young Ladies of Quality regarding various Magical Scandals in London and the Country.  I liked the cover, and the blurb mentioned The Royal College of Wizards, so I ordered it.

And did it ever surpass my expectations!  Set in Regency England, the book is a comedy of manners, a paranormal fantasy, an epistolary novel, and an absolute delight.  I loved it, and I suspect Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer would have loved it, too.

Cece and Kate are two cousins who, having gotten into trouble before, are not allowed to have their London seasons together (Aunts Elizabeth and Charlotte are afraid it would be disastrous for all concerned).  Therefore, Kate and her younger sister are whisked off to London for their Season, and Cece must wait until the following year for hers.

Cece and Kate are reduced to keeping in touch by frequent letters, neither of them happy about their separation.  As it turns out, however, Cece's country life becomes more interesting, and Kate in London is about to be entangled in magic.  

Magic is an accepted part of life (a family acquaintance has just been inducted into The Royal College of Wizards), but the girls have little experience of it as Aunt Elizabeth is adamantly opposed to anything magical.  Nevertheless, when Kate inadvertently enters a door into an enchanted garden where a beautiful woman believes Kate is someone else in disguise, magic and sorcery gain access to her life.

In the meantime, life in the country gets more interesting when the beautiful young Dorothea arrives and is immediately surrounded by besotted suitors who cannot resist her.  Dorothea, a shy young woman, seems almost as bewildered as Cece over the enchanting effect she has over men.  Cece befriends Dorothea and has great sympathy for her when Dorothea's stepmother arrives and insists on taking Dorothea to London.  Cece is also put out by a young man who has been spying on them.

The letters fly back and forth--asking questions and giving advice, describing balls, dresses, and people, and more importantly, trying to solve some mysterious puzzles.  Eventually, connections between the small country community of Rushton and the events in London are made, and the intrepid young women take on forces that are threatening and dangerous.

What fun!  I loved both Cece and Kate and their friendship, high spirits, and satirical comments (oh, the many ways to tie cravats).  I loved finding allusions like "messing about in boats" and "ill-met by moonlight,"  references to Walpole, Lady Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron, and the title of the book The Theory and Practice of Charms: Being an Inquiry int the Making of Bags, Boxes, and the Like by Cuntry Witches and Their Ilk.  I loved the odious Mysterious Marquis, the magic, and both Cece and Kate.

The opening letters are a bit slow, but serve to give an impression, an atmosphere, of the time period; the pace quickly picks up, however, as our undaunted heroines exert their efforts with aplomb and determination.

When I finished, I discovered that the process of writing was a game the two authors engaged in.  The Letter Game was suggested by Ellen Kushner, another talented writer. A few excerpts from the Afterword:

"The game has no rules, except that the players must never reveal their idea of the plot to one another.  It helps to imply in the first letter why the two characters must write to each other and not meet in person." (Caroline)

"As the opener of the letter exchange, I was responsible for choosing a setting, as well as for defining my own character.  I decided on England just after the Napoleonic Wars, in an alternate universe in which magic really worked...." (Pat)

The authors never discussed the plot with each other; only through the letters of the cousins was information about plot shared.  As a result an organic kind of story took form with each author using the letters as key.

This novel was great fun to read, and I can only imagine the fun of writing it.  Perfect for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge.

(Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, which I also thoroughly enjoyed, is a form of The Letter Game using emails.)

Paranormal Fantasy/Comedy of Manners/Historical Fiction/YA.  Kindle ed. 2012. 
 Print length:  336 pages.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Shadows on Our Skin by Jennifer Johnston

Shadows on Our Skin


Book Description:  
 Recognized as a small masterpiece when first published in 1977, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. A poignant novel about a boy in Derry jolted into early adulthood by harsh circumstances.
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Not everyone remembers the horror of The Troubles in Northern Ireland--the murders, the bombings, the checkpoints, the constant guerrilla warfare.  A terrible time, a time of great violence; mothers didn't want their children on the street for fear of gunfire.

This novel was written in the midst of the troubles and examines the life of one family and the effects the Troubles had on them.  Joe Logan is the protagonist, a young boy stuck in a city under siege, whose home life is also full of anger and resentment. 

Joe finds a friend in Kathleen, a young school teacher who provides him with some respite from the harsh realities of life in conflict-ridden Derry.  But when Joe's brother Brendan returns and joins the Provos (Provisional Irish Republican Army), the problems at home escalate.  Then Brendan begins dating Kathleen, and Joe feels jealous and left out.

An intense and moving account of a time period that tore a country and families apart.

Recommended.

NetGalley/Open Road Media

Literary Fiction.  1977; 2014.  Print length:  177 page.















Monday, June 16, 2014

The Conjurer by Cordelia Frances Biddle

The Conjuror   

Set in 1842 Philadelphia, the novel features Martha Beale, twenty-six, unmarried.  She has been dominated by her wealthy father her entire life, and when Lemuel Beale suddenly disappears, she finds that Owen Simms, her father's secretary, takes over that role.  She is treated as a child and denied any sense of autonomy.

Although Martha occasionally tries to assert herself, she is only rarely successful.  When mayoral assistant Thomas Kelman is assigned to the case, she senses a support she is not getting elsewhere, and the two develop a low key attraction for each other.

The search for Lemuel Beale takes a bit of a sideline when Kelman finds himself assigned the gruesome murder of a child prostitute.  

In the meantime, upper class society is fascinated by an Italian conjurer.  At a seance held for some of the Philadelphia elite, the conjurer goes into a trance and mentions details about the murder of the first child.

What I liked:  Rich detail about the period and social customs; I wasn't certain who "Mr. Roby" (the murderer was).

What I didn't like:  Martha's passivity; the distasteful episodes concerning the child prostitutes; the almost incidental episodes with the conjurer--since he really did seem to be channeling certain events, his role was pitifully small;  Martha doesn't really make any attempt to solve the mystery, that role is Kelman's.

Actually, the parts that drove me almost to distraction were the conversations between Martha and Owen Simms.  Each time the two had any contact, I would realize I was gritting my teeth.  Patronizing doesn't even cover his behavior.

The Conjurer was originally published in 2007, and was the first in the series featuring Martha Beale.  Two more followed.  I wouldn't mind reading the next one to see if Martha's character develops.

read in June

NetGalley/Open Road Media

Historic Mystery.  2007; 2014.  Print length:  319 pages.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Benches? :)

Books about Town celebrates London's literary heritage with benches that look like open books scattered along various trails in London.  What a great project for art, literacy, and public enjoyment!










Congratulations to National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art for such a great project!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater is impressive in the many roles she plays.  She is, of course, a YA author whose novels include The Scorpio Races, The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, Lament, and most recently:  Sinner, which is described as a stand-alone companion book to the Shiver Trilogy.  

What might be lesser known is that Stiefvater is a wife and mother, a talented artist, and a musician, in addition to her role as author.  I love her music, and if you go to the link about her art, scroll down to "The Cat with a Pearl Earring."




So...Sinner.  Because I only read the first novel in The Shiver Trilogy, and that was several years ago, the stories of Cole St. Clair and Isabel Culpepper were not familiar to me. 

 Nevertheless, the novel does function as a stand-alone, and as I read I became involved with the rock star playboy with addiction problems and the aloof Isabel, who loves, but doesn't trust him.  Cole comes to California after some time in rehab with the intention of making a fresh start with Isabel.  Only problem--he has agreed to be part of a reality tv show in which the stars of the previous shows have all lost it.  Will he succumb to the temptations of alcohol and drugs and women?  Will Isabel be able to trust him enough to support him?

On finishing The Shiver Trilogy, Stiefvater said she would never return to Mercy Falls, but then, on a visit to L.A., she decided that a werewolf in that city would interesting.  Satisfied with the stories of the main characters in the first novels, she decided to turn to Cole and Isabel, and she said she had a blast doing it. 

My favorite remains The Raven Cycle, and the latest in that series is Blue Lily, Lily Blue, which is due out in October.  I'm eagerly awaiting this one.

Awards:  The Scorpio Races was named Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association and The Raven Boys was selected by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book of the Year.  

NetGalley/Scholastic


YA/Paranormal.  July 1, 2014.  Print length:  368 pages.











Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Feedly Problems

I've been wondering why Feedly wouldn't come up and give me my favorite blogs to read.  
So I finally decided to check out the problem.

To summarize, criminals are trying to extort money from Feedly to stop the attacks.
You can read about it here.


Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

I read Omens (a Cainsville novel) by Kelley Armstrong last year and liked the paranormal aspects and the characters.  Still waiting for the next book in the series which should be out soon, I looked for something else by Armstrong. 


I decided on The Summoning, the first in the Darkest Powers trilogy.  

Chloe seems an average girl.  She attends a special art school, has friends, and plans for herself.  Until one day when she sees a ghost and has a spectacular breakdown.  She is placed in a home for teens with mental problems where she is to remain for a month before she can return to her old life.  While there, however, the psychiatrist seems to think her symptoms may indicate schizophrenia.  She accepts her diagnosis, hoping to be released as soon as possible, and she takes her medications with hope that she will be able to go home soon.

The teens in the home have problems, too, of course; some problems are easy to identify, some not so much.  One of the other teens, a large, powerful, and unattractive boy brusquely suggests that maybe her problems are mental.  Maybe Chloe actually sees ghosts.

As it turns out, Derek is correct.  The teens in the home have various supernatural abilities, and society, unable to comprehend the reasons for their behaviors, believe the problems are mental.  Or...is there something else going on at Lyle House, and just how serious are the implications?

The author hooked me pretty quickly; I liked the supernatural elements and found the characters interesting.  It is fantastic, I mean, there is a necromancer, a sorcerer, an anti-social werewolf, and a cranky witch--you aren't going to be reading anything close to reality.  Fantasy, for sure, but great fun and a head-long read.

Until you get to the end and find a cliff hanger.  Another one!  So then what can you do but order the next in the series.  

The Awakening continues the story of Chloe, Derek, Simon, and Tori on the run from the bad guys.  More about the evil Edison group, and what?!  Genetic engineering, cabals, and power struggles!  Oh, my!  

I can't stop there, on to the final book.

The Reckoning.  Who to trust?  Deception and intrigue.  And a resolution.

These books were such fun.  I loved the characters, the solid pacing, the touch of romance.  I did feel the conclusion seemed to have left some elements unresolved, but these books provided me with hours of entertainment.

YA/Paranormal.  2008, 20010, 2011.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Books Read This Year 
is this week's theme from Top Ten Tuesday 

I exceeded the stated ten because I had trouble deciding.
I've reviewed all of these except for The Vault of Dreamers
and that review is written and scheduled 
for closer to the publication date.

If you are interested in my reviews, 
you can search the blog for the titles.
The following links are to Amazon.

Mystery & Suspense:







Historical Mysteries:





Alternate Histories:




Literary Fiction:



YA Fantasy:





YA:



Children/Middle School:


If you've read any of these,
what did you think?

Monday, June 09, 2014

The String Diaries by Stephen Jones

The String Diaries  

A creepy book that would be a good choice for Carl's R.I.P. challenge, The String Diaries begins with a scene that hooks the reader with suspense.   

Hannah drives frantically with her severely wounded husband bleeding out in the passenger seat as her daughter sleeps in the back.  The tension is palpable.  Where is Hannah going and what has initiated this terrified flight in search of safety?

The book is a combination of thriller and paranormal elements told through different timelines and generations. The atmosphere throughout is menacing and sinister.  Jones creates a mythology about a Hungarian people with long lives and certain powers, including shape-shifting;  they are not evil and they function within the laws of the land, maintaining low profiles.  

When one of them turns bad, however, the vampire comparison arises.  Jakab.  Boy, is he a wicked and egocentric fellow!  He doesn't have fangs, but he kills without compunction, brutally and maliciously, if things don't go his way.  He is a bit childlike in his thinking, or maybe, just all id, concerned only with his own desires and why he is entitled to them.  He's also OCD and pursues the woman he wants through the generations creating chaos and destruction with all of the woman's descendants.  

The best character is not Hannah, whose encounters with Jakab begin and the novel, but Nicole.  Nicole's character has some wit and humor (which are pretty much absent in the rest of the novel) and her relationship with Charles begins with some amusing episodes.

Perhaps the main problem with the novel is the length, largely generated by repetition of events.  A pattern of action is repeated.  And repeated.  In detail.  It loses immediacy.  The characters of Hannah, Nate, Leah, and Seb remain surface elements that lack definition;  they are like semi-anonymous chess pieces who are necessary for the action, but who remain essentially indistinct.  (Nicole and Charles do have more of a personal presence.)

Another observation-- when an author can manage suspense the way Jones does, graphic violence is unnecessary.  Some of Jakab's messy temper tantrums would have been more effective cut short, avoiding the blood and gore.

Despite the length, I read this quickly, the problem is that it felt dragged out.  


NetGalley/Mulholland Books

read in Jan.; blog post scheduled for June

Horror/Supernatural.  1st published in 2013; new release in July, 2014.  Print version:  432 pages.

The Railway Man

Yesterday, we went to the Robinson, our local art theater that I've written about before, to see The Railway Man with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.  

Description:  Colin Firth portrays World War II prisoner of war survivor Eric Lomax, who years later attempted to reconcile with the past that haunted him by tracking down one of his Japanese captors. In the film, Nicole Kidman portrays his second wife Patti and Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd portrays his best friend Finlay. Watch The Railway Man movie trailer for an overview of the movie's interpretation of the story, which was adapted from Lomax's book of the same name.




Based on Eric Lomax's memoir The Railway Man, the film is often difficult to watch, but absolutely moving.

I've added the book to my wishlist, but I'm still processing the film version right now.  

All of the actors did an excellent job, and this is just one of the remarkable stories about survival in these camps and the effects that follow throughout the lives of the survivors.

With Memorial Day and the anniversary of D Day just past, the film may have carried extra impact for me as far as being eternally grateful for those men in service of their country.




Images of POWs from Japanese camps.















In 2011, I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, the story of Loui Zamperini, the Olympic runner/Army Air Corps bombardier, who survived horrific conditions in Japanese POW camps.  (my review).

Unbroken will also be released as a movie, possibly in December.  


(duplicate post on my other blog)