Once Upon a River – Diane Setterfield

once upon a riverThere was a tradition at the Swan, an ancient inn on the banks of the Thames. It was a tradition of storytelling. Joe Bliss was very good at storytelling. His wife ran the inn. Joe told the stories. And it was a hundred years ago on solstice night, when dreams and stories merge with true tales, that this story began. The door burst open and admitted a tall man, face dripping blood, mouth torn open, clothes soaking wet. And in his arms was a tiny little girl, dead, drowned. They sent for Rita, a nurse, to sew up the man.  When she was done she went to where they had put the child. No breathing, no pulse, full dilation of the pupils. The child was surely dead, but she looked too perfect. Rita held her hand, said it should not be so. And the child opened her eyes. Mysteries abound. Who is this child, why does she not speak, did she really die and come back? I really don’t know how to classify this book. Is it mystery, folk tale, supernatural story, romance, all of the above? I do know that it is full of atmosphere, taking the reader into another time when anything could be true. It is a rather quiet book, full of interesting people with interesting stories, slowly unfolding. I enjoyed it very much.

eGalley review                                                              Publication date 1.8.19

Posted in adult, fiction, folklore, gentle reader, mystery, Uncategorized

The Au Pair – Emma Rous

the aupairSeraphine is in her father’s study at the estate on the Norfolk coast. Still shocked by her father’s accidental death, she’s struggling to clear the mass of papers and photographs, unhappy with the fact that there are no early pictures of her or her twin, Danny. But of course there would be none. Her father would have been overwhelmed with grief. You see, her mother threw herself from the cliffs a few hours after the birth of the twins. But then she finds a photograph of her mother sitting on the patio with a tiny baby. Her father is there. Her older brother is there. They all look quite happy, and on the back is a date, the day the twins were born. Too many questions flood Seraphine’s mind . . . which twin is it and why only one, why commit suicide when she looks so happy. Just what happened on that day. But there was an au pair, Laura. She should have been there that day. She must know what really happened. If only Seraphine can find her. This is another “can’t put it down book”. The chapters alternate between Serahine’s voice and Laura’s voice. There are unexpected twists and turns, and just as I thought I had it all figured out, nope, wrong again. It has everything:  a Gothic setting, a heroine in danger, secrets, lies. I loved it.

eGalley review                                                       Publication date 1.8.19

Posted in adult, mystery

Rewrite: Loops in the Timescape – Gregory Benford

rewriteCharlie’s life hasn’t been the greatest. He is a rather ordinary history professor, going through a divorce. But when he gets hit by a truck, he wakes up in his bed instead of a hospital. Things get weird when he realizes that this is his bed in the room that was his as a teenager, and this is his body when he was sixteen years old, but this is his mind, still in his 40s. And things get interesting when Charlie decides this second life is going to be really good. The premise is great. Who wouldn’t want to take the accumulated knowledge of a lifetime and do some stuff over. And the first part of the book does just that. But then Charlie dies again and comes back again, and begins to notice other people like him who loop through time. I really like Gregory Benford’s books, but this one didn’t grab me.  There were too many well-known people entering the picture that made the book seem a bit campy. If you want a really good time travel book, read the original Timescape.

eGalley review                                                                  Publication date 1.15.19

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

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful – Arwen Elys Dayton

Stronger, FasterWhat happens when we manipulate our DNA?  Could the science be used to better humanity or be the root of new evils?  Fusing organs to save a life? Manipulating genes for vanity? Or to create a super human intended for slave work?  Brilliantly told in six stories that span hundreds of years, we read the what-ifs of genetic manipulation.  The author touches on political strife among countries regarding the different points of view, but mostly on the humans touched by this manipulation and the entire human race.  Each character is carefully crafted and so well-written that they are so relatable.  While the concepts are high level, the sexual content is acceptable for middle school and up. Fast-paced and highly engaging.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review                                                            Publication date 12.4.18

Posted in dystopian, highly recommend, science fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Love à la Mode – Stephanie Kate Strohm

Love a la ModeFrom the publisher, “Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir. . . . Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn’t all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad’s restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent’s school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie’s growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

This is a delightful read that is perfect for middle school and up.   I appreciate that the romance was kept G rated because the focus is on relationships – friends and family.  It is about overcoming self-doubt, being the best you can be, perseverance and also about FOOD!  Anyone who watches cooking competitions or enjoys eating should like this fun diversion.    There is nothing earth shattering or life altering in this book, it’s simply a feel-good read filled with characters who read like friends. The story ends after the first semester in Paris but hints at more to come.  I hope so.  Highly Recommend

eGalley review                                                  Publication date 11.27.18

 

Posted in fiction, gentle reader, highly recommend, realistic fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Terran Tomorrow – Nancy Kress

Terran TomorrowThe spaceship Return carried only nine people, although it could have carried many, many more. The mission from Earth to World had not been a success, and so some of the Earthlings were going home, accompanied by five Worlders. They had no idea just what they would find on their arrival. After all, even though only a short time had elapsed on World, the transit through space would mean that twenty-eight years will have passed on Earth. The Earth to which they returned was profoundly changed. The spore cloud had killed most of the humans. Only a few million scattered survivors were left and they were waging war on one another. The new arrivals were soon joining the effort to end the deadly plague. I have always enjoyed Nancy Kress, but I was a bit disappointed in this book. The plot was pretty obvious and the characters were mostly one dimensional. This is the third book in the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy, but it can be read as a standalone.

eGalley review                                                      Publication date 11.13.18

Posted in adult, dystopian, science fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale – Jane Yolen

How to Fracture a Fairy TaleOh, how I love Jane Yolen’s fairy tales! I promised myself that I would make them last. Read only one a day. Yeah, right. That didn’t last very long. I gobbled them down like a greedy little pig. There were princes and princesses, dragons and frogs, and there was an unhappy bridge. There were myths, legends and fairy tales. My favorite was Sleeping Ugly. Or maybe Happy Dens or A Day in the Old Wolves’ Home. But Cinder Elephant was really good, too. Let’s face it, I loved them all. Some made me happy, some made me want to cry, some were disturbing. All of them left me wanting more. The very best part, though, were the Notes and Poems, wherein she discussed just how and why she fractured each story and included a poem relevant to the story. If I counted correctly, there are 29 stories in all. A little more than half are new to this book. I recommend this book for anyone who loves an unexpected twist to an old tale.

eGalley review                                                               Publication date 11.5.18

Posted in folklore, Uncategorized