Monday, November 12, 2018

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White

The Glass Ocean

Title: The Glass Ocean
By: Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig & Karen White
Published: 2018
Call #: FIC Williams

Three of the best-selling historical fiction writers come together to tell the story of three women whose future is tied to the famous ship sunk during World War I--the Lusitania.   Each author is the voice of one of the three main characters, although it is not easy to tell who is writing for who.  This made the story feel a little disjointed; if that bothers you, keep reading, the story has a twist you don't see coming. 

The story opens in 2013 with best-selling author Sarah looking for her next big book--fast.  She takes care of her mother, who has Alzheimer's and money is running out.  One day she remembers a box that her mother never wanted her to open--thinking she'll find inspiration in the box, Sarah opens it and finds artifacts left by her great-great-grandfather, who was on the ship when it went down.  Using those artifacts as the jumping off point, Sarah sets out to do as much research as she can about her ancestor and the ship.

The story then flashes back to 1915 and Caroline is on the boat with her less than attentive husband.  Caroline runs into an old friend who she carries a torch for and his attention complicates her life.  To make matters worse, she sees her husband and her "friend" together and doesn't know why. 

The last character, Tess, is a 2nd class passenger on this ship and returning home to Devon.  She and her sister Ginny are master forgers, with Tess being the forger and Ginny the seller.  They are on the boat to forge an important piece of music for a buyer.  Tess wants out of this life, but Ginny pulls her in one last time. 

If you're looking for a story chock full of period detail, romance, passion, duplicity and espionage, you've found the right book.  Happy reading.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay


Title: The Cabin at the End of the World
By: Paul Tremblay
Published: 2018
Call #: Fic Tremblay

What would you do if you were told that in order to save the world from the Apocalypse, you had to sacrifice a loved one? That is the moral dilemma presented in this novel.

Andrew and Erik are on vacation with their daughter in a secluded cabin, hoping to unplug from the world. Then four strangers appear at the cabin carrying unconventional weapons and demanding to be let in. Once they crash their way in, they tell the couple that they alone can save the world from the Apocalypse and all they have to do is be a willing sacrifice that the other kills. While the strangers promise they will not hurt the family, sacrifices still must be made and time is running out for the couple to make their decision.

Marketed as horror, this novel feels far more psychological as the couple and the reader fight to figure out if the strangers are just crazy or if the Apocalypse really is upon them. There is graphic violence but this isn’t necessarily one of those books with will keep you up at night. The author does a good job of making the reader question whether the signs are real or purely coincidental. Although the ending is a bit unsatisfactory, the moral dilemma of the book will have you talking about it long after you finish reading.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen

Big Mushy Happy Lump (Sarah's Scribbles, #2)

Title: Big Mushy Happy Lump
By: Sarah Andersen
Published: 2017
Call #: GN Andersen

This collection of comics won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Graphic Novel and Comic and will speak to anyone who has ever struggled with life.

This book includes comics as well as illustrated personal essays from the cartoonist/illustrator. It shows off the highs and lows of life, especially for someone who struggles with self-esteem or prefers to view the world from under a pile of blankets. It reflects on money, school, relationships, and even that special time of month for women. It doesn’t just make light of the bad but also highlights the joy of a trip to the bookstore or seeing a puppy in a sweater. What makes this comic collection so great is how accurate it represents these moments in life in a way that makes you chuckle because you’ve been there and done that. Anyone who has been socially awkward or had self-esteem issues will connect with this book.

Mary-Megan K. 
Popular Materials Asst. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

The Little Shop of Found Things (The Little Shop of Found Things #1)

 Xanthe has always has a special gift--antique items "sing" to her and she's able to sense something of their past and the stories they hold.  Xanthe and her mother, Fiona, move to rural England to take over an antique shop.  While shopping for inventory, she discovers a silver chatelaine (key ring) that calls to her.  After bringing the chatelaine home, Xanthe sets about restoring the chatelaine and is transported back to the 17th century.  Startled, she thinks of her mother and is instantly sent home--only to find herself face to face with the resident ghost.   The ghost reveals to Xanthe the origins of the chatelaine, an injustice done that's tied to the chatelaine and tasks her with saving an innocent girl's life.  Xanthe resists at first, fearing being permanently separated from her mother, but the ghost threatens Flora's life and Xanthe reluctantly agrees to go back to 1605.

When Xanthe arrives back in 1605, she meets architect Samuel Abbleby, who has a connection both to the innocent victim and to the home that Xanthe now owns in the future.  He is the one person who can help her succeed with her quest, but he's also the one person she's reluctant to leave.  The book ends rather abruptly and without good closure on the relationship between Samuel and Xanthe.  The ending seems to indicate a sequel, which is good, because I have to know how Xanthe's story ends!

Jill B.
Popular Materials Manager

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Pieces of Her

Title: Pieces of Her
Author: Karin Slaughter
Published: 2018

A shooting at a mall food-court turns into a life-changing event for Andrea Oliver when her mother, Laura, responds to the attacker in a wholly unexpected manner.  Andrea can't believe what she has witnessed and suddenly wonders if she knows her mother at all.  Andrea, a very inept 30-year old woman, is immediately thrust into a situation where she must adapt quickly and handle things by herself in order to stay alive.  One of my favorite things about this book was Andrea's transformation.  This character transforms from someone, who at 30 is still not able to kind of manage her own life at an almost unbelievable level; into a very strong, independent character by the end of the book.  Karin Slaughter is one of my favorite authors.  I definitely recommend this stand-alone novel for fans.  Looking for other Karin Slaughter novels? Try her Will Trent series, highly recommended!

Nicole H.
Popular Materials Asst.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Published: 2018
Call #: Fic Ware

Downtrodden tarot card reader, Harriet "Hal" Westaway, is at a turning point when it comes to the lengths to which she'll go to survive.  She realizes a shady loan shark she's been dodging will do anything to make her life miserable including leaving threatening letters behind in her home and hiring a thug to threaten her with bodily harm at her place of business.  She isn't safe anywhere with Mr. Smith on the hunt for a loan repayment, a loan that she's paid back four times over but Mr. Smith keeps raising the interest, making it impossible for Hal to escape it.  

With no one to turn to, Hal is trying to decide just how much she can live without when she notices a strange hand-written letter in her stack of bills.  She finds a funeral/wake invitation sent out to the heirs of  Mrs. Westaway, which is weird, because Hal's grandparents died long ago.  Hal realizes the letter must have been sent in error.  She decides her survival depends on pulling off a Robin Hood moment with this rich family and books a train ticket to the Trepassen estate to see what Mrs. Westaway's will has in store for her.  When she arrives, she realizes the truth behind the letter is much more complicated than she could ever have bargained for.  

Hal's investigative instincts gradually give the reader more truth in this house of lies.  Why does the attic bedroom have bars on the window?  Why does such a wealthy woman only have to select immediate family at the funeral.  What happened to drive them all apart?  The Death of Mrs. Westaway keeps the reader intrigued to the end. 

Erin I. 
Popular Materials Librarian

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Secret of the Irish Castle by Santa Montefiore

The Secret of the Irish Castle (Deverill Chronicles #3)
Title: The Secret of the Irish Castle
Author: Santa Montefiore
Published: 2018
Call #: FIC/MON

Clocking in at an impressive 470 pages, the latest book in the Deverill Chronicles does not disappoint.  Once again, Montefiore transports readers to the Emerald Isle and instantly immerses them in the epic Deverill saga.  This latest chapter begins in 1939 and takes the reader up through the 1950's.  The main cast of characters is once again present: Kitty Deverill,  Bridie Doyle, Jack O'Leary and Martha Wallace all have, for varying reasons, come home to Ballinakelly--as have their secrets.  The plot is very similar to many historical fiction novels set in Ireland: the rich vs the poor, the Protestants vs the Catholics, all mixed in with a little bit of the supernatural.  What really draws the reader in is the deft way in which Montefiore weaves strong character development with a great plot.  Unlike the previous two novels, Girl in the Castle and Daughters of Ireland, it took a bit longer than usual to really get into the story.  Once I did, however,  the 470 pages flew by.  I was reading the book every chance I got: at the breakfast table, during my lunch break, during commercial breaks...basically any excuse I could make to read just one more chapter. 

I should note that while the book can be read as a stand-alone novel, I would highly recommend you read the books in order.  Montefiore assumes the reader as read the previous novels and does not spend much time catching the reader up on what they might have missed.  If, like me, you haven't read the books since they were first published--don't worry, the story comes back to you pretty quickly. While it's not 100% clear that this truly is the last of the Deverill Chronicles, Montefiore did bring the plot lines full circle and I could easily see this as the final chapter in their story.   That being said, Montefiore has developed the characters so well, an argument could easily be made for her to write the stories of future  Deverill generations.

Highly recommended for fans of Kate Morton, Lauren Willig and more. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: Rebecca Skloot
Published: 2010
Call #: 616.02774/Skl

This is the story of Henrietta Lacks, her "immortal cells," medicine, science and family.  Henrietta was a poor farmer who developed cancer and sought treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  During her treatment, some of her cancer and normal cells were harvested and kept for research, without her consent. Henrietta died from the cancer, but her cells remained alive and still do to this day.  They have been instrumental in the making of the polio vaccine and other medical advances.  Initially, researchers shared the cells freely in order to continue their valuable research, but soon they began to profit financially from the cells.  At the same time, those Henrietta left behind had no idea that her cells had been harvested and that billions of dollars had been made from them--all while her own family could not afford medical care for themselves.  It is the family's story that is the most compelling.  Skloot spent a year researching the story and speaking with the family.  She explains the science behind Henrietta's remarkable cells very clearly.   The book was recently made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey and is available for checkout in our DVD collection. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Darkest Time of Night by Jeremy Finley

The Darkest Time of Night

Title: The Darkest Time of Night
By: Jeremy Finley
Published: 2018
Call #: Fic Finley

When a senator's grandson goes missing from the woods behind the family home, a full-on investigation begins with thoughts of a politically motivated kidnapping.  The senator's wife, Lynn Roseworth, fears that this has nothing to do with her husband's career and everything to do with the woods themselves.

As a child, Lynn grew up being told never to go into the woods and on the one time she disobeyed that order, she saw things she couldn't quite explain.  Decades later, when her grandson goes missing, the only clue they're given is the eerie message: "the lights took him."  Investigators seem to think that this refers to headlights, but Lynn recalls hearing that phrase in connection to alien abduction cases.  Fearing what others would say if Lynn suggested it was aliens, she begins her own investigation and uncovers a conspiracy far more serious than she ever could have imagined.

This novel is a seamless blend of modern day mystery, family drama, and science fiction.  While readers might scoff at the suggestion of alien abductions, this novel makes it work in a way that it could be entirely plausible.  There are just enough hints at the end that make it look as if a sequel is in the works, but there is enough closure in terms of plot/character development that the book could stay as a standalone work.  The thought of aliens should not deter readers from picking up this novel--the story reads more like a captivating mystery with just a hint of the X-Files thrown in for good measure.

Mary -Megan K.
Popular Materials Asst.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

Kiss of the Spindle (Steampunk Proper Romance #2)

Title: Kiss of the Spindle
By: Nancy Campbell Allen
Published: 2018
Call #: Fic Allen

A steampunk Sleeping Beauty might not sound like everyone's cup of tea, but out of the ordinary elements should not deter readers from picking up this enjoyable romance.  

Dr. Isla Cooper is an extraordinary woman who fights on the behalf of the misunderstood shapeshifter population, while at the same time dealing with a sleeping curse that's about to become perman  It's impossible for her to do her job if she's asleep, so she tracks down the witch who cursed her and blackmails her way onto Daniel Pickett's airship in order to get to Port Lucy, where the witch has been spotted.  What should be an easy trip goes horribly awry when it's uncovered that Daniel is transporting illegal shapeshifters and that one of the passengers is known shapeshifter hater Nigel Crowe.  With everyone's fate hanging in the balance, Daniel and Isla must work together to find a cure before Isla's curse becomes permanent.  Along the way, Isla learns that maybe her enemy is simply misunderstood.  

This novel is definitely one that readers should take a chance on.  If you're not familiar with steampunk or are unsure about the supernatural elements of the book, keep an open mind and enjoy the ride. 

Mary-Megan K.
Popular Materials Asst. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Little Big Love by Katy Regan

Little Big Love
Title: Little Big Love
Author: Katy Regan
Published: 2018
Call #: FIC Regan

Little Big Love is a story about family, secrets, love and forgiveness. More importantly, it's about how grief can either bring them together or tear them apart.  10 year old Zac has never met his dad, Liam, and all his family will tell him is that his dad "did a runner" before he was born. Zac's grandmother only speaks of Liam with anger, and his grandfather Mick won't speak of him at all.  One night, after a particularly horrid date, Zac's mum Juliet reveals that the only man she's ever loved was Liam.  Zac decides that he's going to find his dad and bring him back into the family fold. While Zac is planning his super-secret mission, he's being bullied by classmates for his weightc faces losing his best friend to illness, and fights his own family in order to get information about his dad.  Regan expertly weaves the story back and forth between the three narrators: Zac, Juliet, and Mick. Equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking, this novel is highly recommended.  Great for fans of About a Boy. 

Jill B.
Popular Materials Manager