Dream a Little Dream – Kerstin Gier; translated by Anthea Bell

dream a llittle dreamLiv and her sister have spent their childhood travelling from country to country and they want to land in one spot, a home.  Their mother has taken a job in England and there is a little country cottage with their name on it.  Oh but no, it looks like they will be moving in with her mother’s new fiancé’s family.  He has two children, also in high school, who are none too pleased with the new arrangement.  Soon enough, Liv starts having strange dreams where she spies four boys in some sort of ritual.  Turns out they are the cute, popular boys in her new school.  When they sleep, they can enter into other’s dreams – glimpse other’s nightmares or joys.  When the boys discover that new girl Liv shares their ability, they enlist her in the bargain they made with a demon.

The glib dialogue and spunky female protagonist that sparkles in Gier’s Ruby Red trilogy shines here as well.  Liv is a no-nonsense, sharp on her feet, kung fu kind of girl and so easy to like.  There is a bit of a romance and plenty of secrets.  A foretelling of trouble ends the first book in this new series.

eGalley review        Publication date 4.14.15

Posted in fantasy, paranormal | Tagged

The Lost World of the Old Ones: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest – David Roberts

lost worldIn a dim recess, they saw a wonderful basket lying face down, perfectly preserved, and beautifully woven. David Roberts and his wife Sharon looked at it in awe, took photographs, and didn’t touch it.  They left it just as they found it, as it had been for hundreds of years.  This amazing thing occurs often in this book.  David Roberts doesn’t pick up a shard, an arrowhead, nothing.  He and a growing number of archaeologists feel that artifacts should remain where they are found.

I enjoyed this book immensely. David Roberts takes the reader with him on his journeys into the backcountry of the four corners area, describing the scenery, the heat, the rock art, and pueblo ruins all in wonderful detail.  He makes the grueling hikes, breathtaking climbs, and river rafting seem like something any reader would want to do.  The book is suitable for all ages, and is recommended for anyone interested in the Ancestral Puebloans (formerly known as Anasazi).

eGalley review     Publication date 4.13.15

Posted in adult, nonfiction | Tagged ,

The Last Bookaneer – Matthew Pearl

bookaneerStart with a South Seas island . . . Samoa.   Add a large estate in the interior owned by a Scottish gentleman and his family.  Throw in some colorful natives and some Germans lurking in the background looking to cause trouble.  For the finishing touch include three visitors to the island up to no good.  Thus, you have the plot for a classic 1940’s movie.  As I read this book I kept seeing the scenes in black and white.

Before the 20th century poor or non-existent copyright laws allowed books to be published without the author’s permission.  Publishers got rich and authors suffered while the people called bookaneers searched for manuscripts to steal.  A new international treaty will soon be signed to protect authors and thus end the careers of the bookaneers.  In one last quest, three men, Pen Davenport, his friend, Fergins,  and their arch rival, Belial,  race to Samoa in order to steal the novel which the dying Robert Louis Stevenson is struggling to write.

Matthew Pearl is always a pleasure to read, with his attention to historical detail, his well-crafted plots, and his amazing characters.  To say that I greatly enjoyed this book is an understatement.  It is highly recommended and is suitable for older teens.

eGalley review                  Publication date 04.28.15

Posted in adult, historical fiction | Tagged

Black Dove, White Raven – Elizabeth Wein

black dove white ravenTeo and Em are children of a female pilot and wing walker team, traveling the US after WWI as performers in air shows.  When Delia is killed, Rhoda raises Teo as her own.  So brother and sister, black and white, are unconventionally but lovingly raised by Rhoda.  It was Delia’s dream to raise her son in Ethiopia, the country of her late husband.  A place where she thought her son could be free from discrimination.  Intent on fulfilling Delia’s dream, Rhoda travels to Ethiopia and carves out a life working at a clinic and serving as pilot.  She sends for Teo and Em and that is when the story deepens to include the rising tensions between an Italy governed by Mussolini and fiercely independent Ethiopia.

The author conveys a deep understanding of Ethiopia, its history and culture.  While the story is embellished with enhancing detail of the landscape and natural beauty of Ethiopia, I needed photos to go with the mental imagery.  After reading the book, I found photos and read summaries of Ethiopian history.  I should have paused reading when the characters arrived in Ethiopia and did a bit of research then.  Despite the author’s brilliant explanation of events, I needed the background knowledge prior to reading.  I am not certain of the target audience.  While I appreciated the enlightenment regarding the historical elements, how many teens will gravitate toward this book?  The book is most definitely a worthwhile read and I hope it garners an audience.  It would make for a great adjunct reading to enhance any unit on WWI, WWII, or Ethiopia.  Well told historical fiction, as this book is, is one of the best ways to bring history alive and add meaning to past events.  I am left with another layer of knowledge regarding WWII and a newly found interest in Ethiopia.

eGalley review             Publication date 03.31.15

Posted in historical fiction | Tagged ,

A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction – Terry Pratchett, A. S. Byatt (Foreword by)

blink of the screenOh my.  This is a wonderful collection of Terry Pratchett’s short fiction starting with his first published work when he was only thirteen, through his time with Bucks Free press, and on to the Discworld.  The early works are very good, but rather conventional.  The off the wall humor starts in the mid-1970s and continues to get wilder and wilder.

I must admit that I have not read the whole book.  I eagerly dove in, happily greeting Merlin the wizard (oops, it’s Mervin, sorry) ,Cohen the Barbarian, the witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg.  When I came up for air, I realized that these are too good to consume all at once.  When I get a box of chocolates, I make them last, eating one only when I feel that I must have it to get through the day.  So I decided to ration my Pratchetts, reading one only when I feel that I must have it to get through the day.   Highly recommended for anyone who needs a good laugh.

eGalley review                            Publication date 3.17.15

Posted in fantasy, highly recommend

Clash of Eagles – Alan Smale

clash of eaglesThe 33rd Legion under the command of Gaius Publius Marcellinus started to lose men as soon as they marched away from the Mare Chesapica, yet they had not engaged the enemy in a real battle.  An arrow flying from the trees, a knife in the back, the going was hard and the savages cowardly. Two months of ocean separated them from Rome.  The rumors of gold had better be true. By the Roman reckoning, it is the year 2100, but by the calendar of the Christ-Risen it is 1218 A.D. This is a history where Rome didn’t fall but extends west into the New World and east confronting the Chinese Empire.

At first this seemed like a rather generic alternative history . . . let’s teach the natives how to live properly and let’s have lots of blood and gore.  But it gradually became more thoughtful and interesting.  I began to believe that both civilizations, Cahokian and Roman, failed to decline and instead became strong.  The details of the Cahokian civilization were well researched, and characters emerged as individuals. By the end I was thoroughly hooked and am looking forward to the second book.

eGalley review            Publication date 3.17.15

Posted in adult | Tagged ,

The Next Species: The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man – Michael Tennesen

next speciesIf all the species now considered threatened are actually lost this century, and if this rate of extinction continues, a study in the magazine Nature determined that we are on track to lose three-quarters of all species within the next century.  And we are dependent upon these species for our own survival.  This book takes us from Guatemala to Las Vegas, from the Amazon to the Colorado River, to oceans and mountains, all with the same dire prediction.   It seems that we may be heading for the next mass extinction, and man will either evolve into a new species or join that extinction.

The author examines what happened in former mass extinctions and what might happen this time, how we might or might not evolve.  I found the book to be quite interesting and quite disturbing.  Naively, I had always assumed we could come up with a solution to any problem and that man would always endure.  I may have been greatly mistaken.

 

eGalley review                          Publication date 3.17.15

Posted in adult, nonfiction | Tagged , ,