Books I am reading

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Summer's End (Lowcountry Summer Book 3) by Mary Alice Monroe

     The Summer's End is the 3rd book in the Lowcountry tiology. The series tells the story of 3 half sisters drawn back to the grandmother's summer home on Sullivan's Island, SC. Mamaw and her housekeeper companion, Lucille, are hoping to cement the young women's friendship as well as lure them back to the Lowcountry. 
While each book can stand alone, it is much more rewarding to read them in order and fully understand the back story as you move to the next book.
In book 3, The women are struggling with the death of Lucille, Mamaw's impending move to an assisted living home, and, the sale of her beloved home, Sea Breeze. Dora is moving to her own home in order to enroll her son in a special school for children with autism. Carson is coming to term with her pregnancy and how to proceed with her life as a single mother, and Harper is struggling with wanting to be a writer and falling under the thumb of her mother to return to New York and her mother's publishing firm as an editor.
This is a romance novel, a call for environmental responsibility, a shout out to a more relaxed time and place, and a coming of age novel. Ms. Monroe has created full-body characters, a setting that is beautiful and challenging, and a story that is entertaining as well as intelligent. More than just a good summer read, this series leads you through the lives and loves of 5 interesting women. I highly recommend with 5 stars.

The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck

     Sophia Peabody is a young woman, artist, and plagued by frequest headaches and illness. Through her window, on a cold Massachusettes morning, she sees Nathaniel Hawthorne walking through the snow, and shamelessly falls in love. This is a love story of epic proportions, of creativity and what fuels the muse within, of decisions about duty,,,,, family and self-expression. After much time while Nathaniel tries to make his way as an author, he finally agrees to marry Sophia, even though he is barely able to support himself, let alone a family.
Sophia struggles to continue her art which she feels driven to create, and to manage to home and family that she and Nathaniel are creating together. She is often struggling with who she is and who she wants to be. Almost any working woman today can identify with the decisions most women still face in choosing between career and family. Their love is not perfect, and they often hurt each other as they travel the rough course of their lives. But they have an enduring love that transcends their problems.
This is an historic novels of two American artists, of the beginnings of our country, and of a deep love that rises above all the problems of their world. While it is not a romance novel in the traditional sense, it is aq story of great romance. 
I knew nothing about Nathaniel Hawthorne's personal life. This novel enriches his writings. If you like historical fiction, romance and family sagas, you will love this novel. I give it 5 stars.

Losing Faith bt Adam Mitzner

     Aaron Littman is a powerful defense attorney in the most powerful law firm in New York City. Poised to take over control of his firm when his mentor retires, Aaron is shocked when the most reviled man in America calls for a meeting, and asks Aaron to represent him in a money laundering case involving the Russian Mafia. Nicolai  Garkov is also a terrorist, suspects of a Red Square bombing that killed 26 people, including 3 American students.
Aaron is shaken to his core when Nicolai tells him he must convince the judge, Faith Nichols, to aquit him or he will reveal an affair Aaron and Faith had while he was trying a case in her court. Faith, on the short list for the next Supreme Court justice, has received word that a conviction will assure her nomination.
And thus begins the twists and turns that kept me page turning far into the night. Questions of fairness, justice an ethics swirl around this no-win conundrum for Aaron and Faith. There is little portrayed violence, but the threat is ever present. Make sure you have time to finish this one once you start. I give it 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Apparent Wind by Dallas Murphy

     Apparent Wind is an outlandish romp through southern Florida. Dennis "Doom" Lewis is a con man easily talked into doing crazy projects (i.e. writing a novel promoted as being by Eleanor Roosevelt, and spending 5 years in prison when his cohorts took off and left him holding the bag.) His father has died and he has inherited a sailboat and piece of land in Florida that is sinking into the sea. When he arrives in Florida, it quickly becomes clear that others have their eyes on his land and are working hard to con him out of it.
The characters are beyond believable and offer overflowing silliness. Doom falls in love with a beautiful woman who teaches scuba diving, and, whose grandmother is is a Seminole native. An addicted history professor who had been involved in the fake novel shows up. Two women named Anne are filming a documentory and become interested in Doom's fight for his land. They all conspire together to out con the cons trying to take Doom's land. Unbelievable craziness ensues.
If you want clever, silly fun, this book is for you. A perfect beach book!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

 This novel weaves the story of Carla, an 11 year old girl in Honduras, with Alice, a 40 something woman in Houston, Tx. Carla works collecting recyclables in the dump upon which she lives with her grandmother and younger brother. Their mother fled to Texas years ago, promising to save money and send for them. While she occasionally sends money to help out, the promised trip to Texas never arrives. When Carla's grandmother dies and Carla realizes that her 6 year old brother is huffing chemicals, she decides they need to take their chances on running to America.
At the same time we are learning that Alice and her husband have had to return a child they were in the process of adopting. She is heart-broken. You realize that these two lives are moving toward an intersection, and you cheer Carla to be able to keep going in her arduous journey along the illegal route to the USA.
After last summer's overwhelming in-flux of children pouring across the southern border, this is a timely, harrowing story. This is an important novel for it's social commentary, and it is an exciting read. I give it 4 stars. I am not a big fan of jumping back and forth between characters in telling a story.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

 Banishment to Canada feels awful to Flavia de Luc, as if she is being punished for discovering the fate of her mother, and, being the youngest in the family. At Miss Bodycote's Female Academy, Flavia discovers that her mother was a renowned former student. The first night at the school, Flavia discovers a mumified corpse when it falls from the chimney. This begins a quest to find out why she has been sent here, how the body came to be in the chimney, and what type of training her mother actually received at the scvhool.
Flavia is a 12 year old chemistry prodogy and inveterate snoop. Miss Bodycote offers rumors of ghosts, disappearing students and a teacher who is a convicted murderer. All this is making Miss Bodycote's a much more interesting place than Flavia first assumed.
I had feared the series had ended with the previous entry, The Dead in their Vaulted Arches. I am so grateful the series continues. While each book can stand alone, the force of Flavia is best experienced by starting at the beginning and reading the entire series. I give this 5 stars!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Work by Wes Moore

The Work by Wes Moore

I am not a big fan of reading non-fiction as leisure reading. But I chose to read and review this book because the premise of finding meaning in life through service is near and dear to my heart.
Wes Moore is an intelligent, gifted person and an inspiring writer. The Job traces his rise from a turbulent childhood in the Bronx and Baltimore, through his service in Afghanistan, his work in the White House and as a banker on Wall Street. In each setting, he gathered the wisdom and foolishness of each setting as he kept asking what he needed to be happy and content in life.
Mr Moore interweaves stories of heroes and everyday people he has met and from whom he has learned during his journey. Mr Moore's strength and openness shines through and I felt uplifted by the many stories woven through the book. This is a feel-good inspiration to find a meaningful life. I highly recommend, and, hope that Wes Moore keeps writing and inspiring others.

The Job

The Job

The Job is the fourth book in a series about FBI agent Kate O'Hare, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldburg. I have not had a chance to read the first three books in the series, but was able to fully understand and enjoy this novel.
Special Agent Kate O'Hare is teamed up with a charming con-man, Nicholas Fox, to find and then bring down a drug king-pin who is reclusive and impossible to find. O'Hare and Fox enroll some interesting folks to help them design and carry out a complicated sting that puts all their lives in jeopardy.
This is a heart-pounding story that covers 3 countries on two continents. It is infused with whit and humor, but never stops rushing ahead until the conclusion. I intend to back-track and start the series at the beginning.

In Vertigo of Silence

In Vertigo of Silence
This debut novel by Miriam Polli is a multi-generational exploration of the effects of secrets and fear on 3 generations of women. This saga addresses important issues of alcoholism, abuse, adultery, mental illness and death. It follows a young woman, her mother, aunts and grandmother. It shows the effects of long-held secrets and makes you examine your own values and beliefs.
For a debut novel, this is a well-written crafted work, worthy of a much more experienced writer. If you enjoy character exploration, you will love In Vertigo of Silence.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.