Monthly Archives: June 2013

City of Hope

city   First thing first,  this book is part of a series….I did not know this, and it is book number 2.  I found out there was a book that came before this one.  Maybe I should have done some research, but I did not.  I try not to read any previous reviews about the books I am going to review…not even the reviews written in the beginning of the book.  I want to have an unbiased view of the book.  Now if I had read one of the reviews, I would have learned that this is a series written by Kate Kerrigan.  The first one is called Ellis Island, and it begins Ellie Hogan’s story.

The first book starts in the 1920’s and chronicles Ellie and John’s romance that begins in Ireland.  Ellie emigrates, alone, for a few years to New York and lives in the city during the Jazz Age. She struggles with her options: staying in America or returning to Ireland.  I did not read this book, but I believe I was caught up on the main details.  I would like to go back and read it.

The second book (the one I read) is called City of Hope.  It is now the 1930’s, and we find Ellie and John married and living in Ireland.  The stock market has crashed in America, and things are not so bright as they once were.  Fortunately, Ellie has a strong and practical business mind.  She is able to have the intelligence and demeanor to run several shops in town while helping John manage their farm.  Money is not an issue; however, there is a sadness for them both.  They are unable to have children.  This is what pushes Ellie deeper into her business ventures and the care of those around her.  And then suddenly, John dies.  Ellie is beside herself with grief and she packs a trunk and rushes off on the first boat to New York leaving her businesses in the hands of an employee.

Upon arrival, she discovers just how badly things are in America….especially for immigrants.  She throws herself into a new endeavor of helping the homeless and abandoned in Yonkers.  She is trying to hide from her grief, from her loss, from her homeland…..is she able to fulfill the emptiness within by rescuing others?  This is what Ellie struggles with throughout.  Will she stay in America or will she return to Ireland?

What I loved about this book were the characters.  Sheila – the gold digger with a heart, Maureen- the mother who never gives up hope that her husband will return, Bridie-the cantankerous grandmother who knows best, Anna – the Italian cook who feeds them all, Matt -the strong, silent type and Ellie- the glue that holds them all together.  I am looking forward to the third book since I was not expecting the ending, and am not sure if I am happy with it.  Perhaps, the third book will provide the closure I am looking for…it is called Land of Dreams, and has not yet been released.  I will be looking for it.

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A well-constructed story of suspense

after her  I finished this novel by Joyce Maynard called After Her rather quickly and passed it on to my friend Jill to read.  She devoured it in a few days, and she gave it back to me.  I am going to write this review before all my thoughts are out of my head, and so I can pass this book on to my other friend, Tracy.  It is that kind of book that you want all the people you know to read this book.  The book will not be release until August, but please put this on your list of MUST READS.

This is the story of two sisters: Rachel & Patty. It is the late 1970’s  in northern California, and life is about to get interesting in Marin County.  Their father is a handsome and kind, yet absent father.  He is occupied by two things: 1. his job as detective 2. his girls on the side.  They live with their mother who is the definition of the no-supervision parent.  She may be physically present in the house, but her mind is elsewhere.  She spends lots of time locked in her room reading, and the girls are left to fend for themselves.  They like it this way.  They explore the mountain that is behind their house, the make up stories about all the people they encounter, and they figure out a way to buy groceries and take care of the house and themselves.  Their relationship is one that I have always longed to have….I have always wanted a sister who knew me so well, and vice versa.  Someone I could always count on and trust with all my thoughts and dreams. Someone I could be myself around and she be her own person…and we could be nothing alike and yet everything alike.  Though I never had a blood sister, I have found a friend who has become more like a sister to me than anything.  I treasure that and hold it close to me.  It is a rare thing.

So as I said, things were about to get interesting on that mountain.  A serial killer has come to play….women begin to show up murdered on the mountain behind Rachel & Patty’s house, and their father is in charge of the case.  He is nicknamed “the Sunset Strangler”, and all are warned off the mountain…and one would be downright stupid to go alone.    Well, since we know the girls’ father is rather busy,  and their mother is occupied.  The sisters become intrigued with the case and think they can solve it.  They eavesdrop on their father’s conversations and try to piece things together, but things get a little too real with their investigation and they are faced with real danger. Will their father be there to help them?  What about their mother?  Friends…a neighbor?  It was truly a page-turner until the end, and once again I thought I knew who the killer was….and once again I was proven wrong.  When will I learn?  I loved reading about growing up in the 70’s since this was when I was a child and remember so much from that decade. I treasure my memories of being outside all summer exploring everything with my brother and friends.  We did not have helicopter parents back then and were able to create our own experiences without everything being scheduled and rushed. This book reminded me of that wonderful period of my life.  I loved the relationship between the sisters in this book, I loved the suspense, and I loved the surprises of this novel.  Must read more by Joyce Maynard.

 

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Fast Read

legend  I know I am a sucker for dystopia…I can’t help it…it may be all those scary movies that my parents made me watch as a child.  Who knows.  This is the first book in the Legend Series by Marie Lu and is called Legend.  It is no longer the United States of America, but The Republic of America.  And things are not at all the same.  This book is told in two voices:  Day who is a 15 year-old renegade who is kind of a Robin Hood-type character.  He commits crimes against the corrupt government in order to get food, money, supplies, and medicine to his family and friends who do not have access to these things easily.  Day was sent out on his own after he failed the Trials.  The Trials is a test all 10 year-old have to take, and the score determines their future.  Will they continue on with schooling and work for the government?  Will they become a necessary, but poor worker?  Or will they fail and be “donated” to the government to work in a labor camp?  Day has failed, but he has escaped the labor camps and is wanted by the government for his crimes against them.

June is also 15 years old, but she leads a completely different life.  She is the only known person to score a perfect on her trials and is considered a prodigy.  She believes in her government, and trusts what they do. That is until her older brother Metias is murdered, and June becomes mixed-up with Day.  They begin to unravel the truth about the government and the horrible plagues that seem to effect only the poor.  This leads them on a fast-paced race where they find themselves fighting against street kids, government soldiers, and each other.  Who do they trust?  Can they trust each other?

My 12 year-old (who has just started the book) likes that the two voices of the characters are written in two different colors and styles of font….a visual change to the reader.  The characters are strong  and well-written.  There is a romance between the two that works very well and the descriptions of this unpleasant future are clearly constructed without being too overwhelming.  I have already ordered book two Prodigy, and I will have to wait until the fall for the conclusion Champion.  I will be waiting for several new releases this fall….between Rick Riordan and Veronica Roth…..I will have a ton to read come October.

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And now for something a bit different

curious  This is a novel by Stephen P. Kiernan called The Curiosity.  The story is intriguing to say the least…it is about a scientific exploration to the Arctic  headed by the beautiful Kate Philo (smart, beautiful, and driven….hmmmm…more on that later.)  The team is there to discover life forms that have been frozen to death.  They have developed the technology to bring small creatures back to life for a small amount of time, and they are now in the market for something larger.  However, they do not expect to discover a human man, but that is just what happens.  They find the body of Jeremiah Rice who fell into the ice and was frozen to death over 100 years ago.

The scientists return the body intact to their lab where they are able to bring the man back to life.  What follows is the ethical debate about this man as a scientific study or as a fellow human being.  Should the scientists treat Jeremiah as a lab rat in order to advance science or should he be released and permitted to live his life without all the experiments and tabloid exposure.  Kate Philo (remember her) begins to fall in love with Jeremiah and a relationship ensues while the evil Carthage (owner of the institute that is conducting these experiments) wants to exploit Jeremiah for his own personal glory.   The story line was fascinating, but the characters of Kate Philo and Erastus Carthage were so stereotypical….a beautiful and smart woman who lives a lonely life falls for the intriguing and handsome Jeremiah Rice while the big, bad Carthage only seeks to promote his Lazarus Project.  I would have liked a little more depth to the characters, but the story line was something different and made me do some research on my own about reanimation.  So there is my silver lining……

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Disturbingly suspenseful

guilty  The Guilty One is Lisa Ballantyne’s first novel, and from the start I was hooked.  It was not like much of what I read, and I had it sitting on my shelf for some time before I convinced myself to pick it up.  It is dark and disturbing, and yet once I started I was able to read without hesitation.  In fact, I took it everywhere hoping to get a chapter in here and there…I took it to the ball fields, to work to read during lunch, in the car….you get the point.

The subject matter is quite disturbing which is why I was so leery to read it.  The first chapter opens with the murder of an 8 year-old boy who was found beaten to death in a park.   The only suspect is 11 year-old Sebastian.  Sebastian is a wonderfully written character…though quite creepy.  He is a child who is highly intelligent with some bizarre social behaviors.  He is an only child that lives with his weak, scared mother and rich over-powering father.  He is arrested and taken into custody…enter Daniel Hunter.  His attorney.  Daniel is a character I liked immediately….he was so well-written I could picture him clearly with his dark eyes and dark hair….his serious and lonely expression which seemed to define him.  Daniel became a lawyer because of his unsettled and troubled past.  A past he has escaped from but has haunted him always.  The novel delves between the current case of Sebastian and Daniel’s past and what draws Daniel to defend and support Sebastian.  Daniel believes that Sebastian is too young to be tried for murder and becomes his closest alley while everyone around them have already convicted Sebastian as “The Angel Killer”.

Daniel discovers that the woman who helped pull him out of the darkest places, the woman who loved him and taught him self-respect, the woman who he grew to call Mam, and the woman he left in anger years earlier….has died.  Minnie’s death has opened wounds and memories and leads Daniel to discover not only the truth about his past, but the truth of what happened in the park between Ben Stokes and Sebastian Croll on August 8, 2009.

Fast-paced with well-developed characters…..I loved Minnie, Daniel and even the odd Sebastian.

 

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