The Dante Chamber – Mathew Pearl

Dante ChamberDawn in London’s public gardens. The January wind is fierce. A hunchback slowly plods along. Then there is a loud crack and he falls to the ground. A crowd begins to gather, and then notices that the man was not a hunchback. Instead, a stone, a very large stone, circles his neck and the pressure caused it to snap. On the stone is an inscription in Latin. Five years ago Boston was the scene of several Dante inspired murders, and when another murder seems to be linked to Dante’s “Purgatory”, Scotland Yard begins to wonder about a possible connection. The poet Christina Rossetti also wonders about a connection. Her brother, the strange, obsessed, artist and writer, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, has disappeared. Is he is connected to the murders? Is his life is in danger? She needs help deciphering the literary clues she has found and enlists her friends, Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. As he did in The Dante Club, Matthew Pearl, mixes real people into his fiction. And he does it so well. The four writers’ personalities are complex, interesting. The plot takes many unexpected turns and sucks the reader down into the London of the mid-nineteenth century. The suspense builds, and the book could not be put down.

eGalley Review                                              Publication date 6.5.18

Posted in adult, historical fiction, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged

Us Against You – Fredrik Backman, translated by Neil Smith

Us Against YouIt is summer in Beartown. The citizens are trying to come to grips with the impossible events of the previous winter, and they are doing pretty good. Until they learn that the hockey club is bankrupt and will be disbanded. Many of their players are now playing for Hed. Hed is not just a rival town. Hed is the enemy, Hed is hated beyond reason. And now they will be the only hockey club in the area. For a town that has only hockey to love, this is devastating. It seems, though, that there will be a happy ending. A local politician has found money to keep the club afloat for now and has found a coach. A female coach! But there will be hockey, so all is well. Or is it? The book is told in the first person, someone trying to explain to you just what their town was and is and perhaps will be. And it is deeply moving. Fredrik Backman is Swedish, writing about a tiny town in Sweden, writing about hockey. I know nothing about hockey, have never been to Sweden. Yet this book moved me. I cared deeply about the characters, as if they were my friends, my children. When I finished the book, I was emotionally drained. This is the second book about Beartown, and to truly understand this one, the books should be read in sequence.

eGalley review                             Publication date 6.5.18

Posted in adult, fiction, realistic fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Death of Mrs. Westaway – Ruth Ware

Death of Mrs. WestawayHal is overwhelmed by her life. No, it’s the lack of a life. Hal was eighteen when her mother died a couple of years ago. Her only way to earn a living was to take over her mother’s tarot reading booth at Brighton Pier. But it’s not much of a living, and she now owes money to a loan shark. Then a miraculous letter appears from a solicitor in Penzance. He informs her that her grandmother has died and she is a beneficiary of her estate. Hal knows it must be a mistake. Her grandparents had been dead for twenty years. She knows she must write back and tell them that. But she desperately needs money, and if she can keep up the pretense, a few hundred pounds would give her breathing room. So she books a ticket to Penzance. Ruth Ware just keeps getting better, and this book has it all. A plot with many twists and turns, family secrets and family quarrels, a creepy old mansion with a creepy old caretaker, and tarot readings. I loved every page and read far into the night. Needless to say, I highly recommend this book.

eGalley review                                                           Publication date 5.29.18

Posted in adult, mystery, suspense, Uncategorized | Tagged

Whisper of the Tide – Sarah Tolcser

Whisper of the TideThe sequel to Song of the Current opens with Caro, now captain of her own ship, and Markos, rightful ruler of Akhaia, in a committed relationship.  They continue to strategize how Markos can gain control of his country.  The only option appears to be a marriage alliance in exchange for an army.  Caro sacrifices her happiness by ending things with Markos freeing him to marry for political gain.  To make matters worse, Markos sends Caro to fetch his future bride.  The plot starts twisting from there and Caro is thrust into desperate adventures with her survival dependent upon an old adversary.  The sequel is every bit as fabulous as the first, perhaps better.  Caro is such an engaging heroine and her adventures are a thrill.  I look forward to reading everything this author publishes.  Highly recommend.

galley/ARC review                                          Publication date 6.5.18

Posted in adventure, fantasy, highly recommend, Uncategorized | Tagged

Bob – Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

BobLivy and her mom return to Australia to visit her grandmother. The last time she was there was five years ago, when she was just five.  She had met an odd creature near her grandmother’s well, took him back to the house and played with him during the visit.  Then tells him to wait for her. She goes back to the States and forgets all about Bob. Five years later, she returns to find Bob still in the closet waiting. Slowly her memory of him returns and they set out to learn what he is and where he is from and how to get him home.

What an odd but charming story!  Bob is so easy-going and a natural at being a child’s best friend.  Described as short and greenish, I envisioned something like ET.  Co-written by two master storytellers, the pacing is perfect.  Slow enough to get to know the characters while keeping attention high.  I had to keep reading to learn who/what Bob is. The illustrations are soft and perfect for the story’s tone. This short lyrical story is a delight.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review                                                         Publication date 5.1.18

Posted in fiction, gentle reader, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Smoke Thieves – Sally Green

smoke thievesThe despicable King of Brigant is stirring up trouble with the neighboring kingdoms and employs his son, Boris, do the bulk of his dirty work.  They torture and kill anyone who might interfere.  The King arranges the political marriage of his only daughter, Catherine, to the Prince of Pitoria, supposedly securing peace in the process. But diversions, betrayals, assassinations, and invasions abound and all because of demon smoke.  The fierce demons live in the northernmost section of Pitoria along the border of Brigant.  When a demon is killed, a smoke – perhaps their soul – escapes and is bottled. The smoke is inhaled to induce a euphoria of sorts.  It is illegal to hunt demons and trade in demon smoke but the story opens with young, swift Tash teaming with huge Gravell to lure demons to their death.

This ensemble novel of the five central characters is brilliantly written and immediately captivates the reader.  Each chapter is told from one of the five central character’s point of view:

Catherine – the most refined, resourceful, brave and intelligent of princesses.  Ambrose – Catherine’s most loyal guard, risking everything to keep her safe.  March – the Abask servant to the Prince of Calidor, who may or may not have been led astray in dealings with  Edyon.  Edyon – the newly discovered illegitimate  son of the Prince of Calidor.  Tash – the wise-cracking, boot-loving, young demon hunter who has fun with her dangerous occupation.

Tash is fun to read, especially her interactions with her big burly partner, Gravell.  All of the characters are either good or bad, none fit in the gray range – at least not yet.  Not nearly as the dark as the spectacular Half Bad Trilogy.  The first book in this series is a fast-paced, political fantasy, filled with entertaining characters and action galore and I am eager for the next in the series.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review                                      Publication date 5.1.18

Posted in adventure, fantasy, highly recommend | Tagged

The Fourth Sacrifice – Peter May

Fourth SacrificeDr. Margaret Campbell has had enough. She could have left China and gone home weeks ago. Instead, she decided to stay and co-operate with the Chinese authorities. Now she’s tired and bored and ready to leave China and to leave the man she loves. Her plane leaves tomorrow. But once again circumstances interfere and she is asked to stay and help with the investigation of a gruesome murder. This time it is a death by beheading and the victim is an American citizen. And if things weren’t complicated enough, both she and Chinese detective, Li Yan, are forced to work together, struggling with their conflicting emotions. This second book in the Chinese Thrillers was laced with Chinese history and archaeology. I enjoyed the look into both the ancient, with the terracotta warriors, and recent with the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. The descriptions of locations were wonderful, placing me in the midst of the action. This is the Peter May I have come to expect. It is not necessary to have read the first book. Although the events of The Firemaker carryover into this one, there is enough background information.

eGalley review                                                         Paperback Publication date 5.1.18

Posted in adult, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,