Mr. Mawer is a learned and wise gentleman who spends most of his time in research and writing. His novel "Trapeze" is reflective of this. While he is an intellect and scholar, his book is infinitely readable and moves at a fast pace. I enjoyed it very much."Trapeze" is a love story and a crow's eyed view of the behind the scenes during WWII in France. It is a tribute to the many women who served and died in the Resistance. I believe it's a tribute to all women who brave the front and hidden alleyways of war even today, and may never get the recognition they deserve. It always strikes me hard that the heroines (and heros) of war are so often young people in their latter teens and early 20's.There is violence, there is a daring in events, requirements of bravery; and. not so much a "coming of age" as a story of learning the hardships and harsh realities of life in this novel. There certainly is a story of "bucking up" under terrifying situations for the young woman protagonist, 19 year old, Marian Sutro.We learn the ever true story that war creates heroes and survivors, or those who are destroyed and wounded. A wise man once said that "courage is simply fear bolstered by prayer." In "Trapeze" we find this sort of courage. Marian Sutro, just a simple young woman of no apparent genius, learned to draw from a courage she didn't realize she had, and that meant everything in a world gone crazy with violence and desperation. The love story between Marian and research physicist Clement Pelletier is poignant and, at the same time, filled with tension. It is through this relationship we feel the impact of the war and the human tragedies and risks played out. Their chemistry leaps off the pages, and I don't mean physics!All in all, I loved "Trapeze." It's not an ordinary historical fiction. It's a novel with contemporary relevance; one with a universal message and a tribute to not only the women of the French resistance, but of all women who fight behind the scenes for their country, for freedom.
This is one of those novels you could write a book about just to get across how wonderful it is. It's a book every book club should be dying to read and discuss! The story of a little girl who learns to view her world from the safety of a high tree, to dream of escaping the fears she has and the poverty she experiences both emotional and physical, will grip your heart from the first seconds you touch this book. But what also hooked me was the elequence and heart-stopping prose of Julie Cantrell. She is a storyteller personified."Into the Free" is so beautifully written and so rich in symbolism that it will not let you pull away. Even when you put the book down to go about daily business, the memory of what you've read and look forward to reading will haunt you. This is an extraordinary book with a human story that digs at the essence of what it means to be alive in spirit, and to love with your whole heart.We primarily see the world through the eyes of Millie, a pre-teen then late teen, as she comes of age learning to understand the realities of the world and the adults within it; as well as her place within that world. Millie is a wise child, but one who is alone in the world. She embodies the spirit of any child who is held captive in a home surrounded by poverty and abuse. She's powerless to hinder her father's abuse of her dependent and addictive mother, and that mother's complacency, but her spirit finds a way to be free by way of her interactions with other people and her world view. Millie is a so fully developed and so sound in psychology that it's difficult to remember that she's a "make believe" character and not a living person whose biography one is reading. She's a jewel of a character whom I'll never forget."Into the Free" causes us to ask questions about what freedom actually is. Can we choose freedom in our situations, over enslavement? There are many choices this book looks at through Millie's eyes and which may cause the reader to assess her own world and spiritual views. I was particularly struck by Ms Cantrell's use of the gypsies as a way of showing what security and false security might be for Millie. The lure of the beautiful and strange may not always be best, and Millie has to decide if it's the right course to her own freedom.Julie Cantrell is an author of blinding beauty and wisdom. Her spiritual insights and easy way of leading the reader into a deeper knowledge of them is graceful and blend well within her story. As Millie learns the difference between harsh, rote and human "religion," and finding godly love and caring, so does the reader. Millie comes to understand what "good" people really are versus what society claims and where "class" sets them. Her Choctaw blood and rodeo background make her an outcast in the town's society, but that doesn't mean she's "bad."Ms Cantrell's book is a treasure of symbolism that I wish I had a group of friends to unravel with me! As I said, this is one for the book groups. A gorgeous book, and one I highly recommend to everyone. You have to get this book and/or put it on your must read list. It's a book you won't forget.
Difficult to read because it was saturated with too many names and too many details of the lifeboat people's minute issues, this one was a very slow read for me. I had to take notes and mark pages until I was driven to distraction. Once I realized what I was doing, and found I was reluctant to pick the book up to try to get through it, I knew it wasn't one I could recommend to my readers. Sad to say, because I really wanted to know how this one ended. I; however, ended up skimming to find out, eventually. I have to give this book barely a 3 star rating. Not a strong recommendation to you at all unless you're into too many details that don't seem to matter in the larger picture. While I can understand when a book needs to set the scene for us, and to give some insight into characters so we get to know and understand their psychological make ups and spirits, "The Lifeboat" was just too drawn out and specific to be a good read. Charlotte Rogan missed the mark in that her characters weren't interesting enough to keep a reader moving along. I found myself thinking, "But, I already know that about Mrs.Grant. She's bossy and over-bearing. I don't have to hear it ten times over!" She had me at "hello," but she lost me at about the 4th chapter. Am I being redundant? See what I mean?The premise of the story is a good one, and had there been more of the meat of the story up front, I would have loved this book. It would have worked, I think, if the book had had more of a flip-side; that is, if the ending had been more prevalent at the beginning of the book. Too bad her editor didn't suggest that...What's going on with editing these days, anyway???
Where will you be when Yellowstone National Park's super volcano erupts? It will. It's just a matter of when. Mike Mullin has written two very impressive YA fiction novels about the inevitable eruption in the United States's Mid-West that cripples and virtually destroys the country. His first book in the series, "Ashfall" and this one, "Ashen Winter" tells the story of a teenaged couple who learns to survive, along with others in a world completely rewritten by the volcano's devastation. It's a story of humanity's survival...of the end of Eden and the loss of innocence coupled with the struggle for sanity and hope, literally, amidst the ashes. As always, it's love that's found to be the highest order of all things.Mullin shows the evils of mankind in their most blatant...the "what ifs" at their worst. And, he shows the courage of women and men under duress, as well. Many times I found myself holding my breath, and then cheering for Darla, the stronger-than-the-men young woman, who is a genius at almost everything she puts her hand to including mechanics! Often, I clenched my teeth and shook my head in frustration at the stops and starts, the things and people that held back Alex, the teenager from whose eyes and ears we first experienced the disaster. The characters running amok in these books are worthy of zombie-land! The main characters, however, are salt-of-the-earth types who we can easily recognize among our friends and family. The struggle to survive is the driving force of their lives.This is a novel that's not easy to read in terms of it's plausibility. It's not easy to "hear." The Super Volcano eruption could happen. It might happen in our time..any day. What's for sure is that this is a set of books that would do well to be taught in public and private high schools throughout the United States! Forewarned is to be a little better prepared. Because if it ever happens...all bets are off and it's literally every single woman for herself.5 stars blazing for this fabulous book!!
This is a book about friendship, first love, real love and a summer that brought all those relationships into perspective. It's a " summer love" book with a twist. We see, from the perspective of the main character, Clem, her story of a troubled infatuation with her best friend's boyfriend; and, at the same time, we get to spy on her as she comes to know and develop a healing and loving relationship with a new boy throughout the summer. The success in this novel comes from the fact that it's not a sappy rendering of the sort it could have been given the somewhat well-travelled story of summer love. The reason for that lies in the very capable hands of Melissa Walker, who gives the book a resonance, and a solid bank of truth to anchor it. I found this little book well worth the read, and a great book to recommend to YAs for the summer.Without giving away all the particulars, I want to talk about the name of Clem's parent's sail boat, The Possibility, and how this really is the primary focus or key to Walker's story. It is this "possibility" of change; of being taken away from her town and the source of her heartbreak, the possibility of meeting someone new, the possibility of helping others and the possibility of growing in understanding of herself and others, that is the heart of this wonderful novel. This is a girl's coming of age novel, full of wisdom and full of winds of change. It's because of the experiences; the "possibilities" afforded her during the summer that Clem comes to understand what really matters in life and love.Melissa Walker is a fine writer who has a good deal to say to young adults experiencing complicated relationships. If my daughter were still a teen ager, I would absolutely purchase this book for her for summer reading. It's a treasure of wisdom in a story that's contemporary and hip. While I wouldn't recommend it for older YAs, particularly, I do think children 12-17 would really enjoy and benefit from the story. It's great to read a book that is meant for ordinary, normal teens, too!Ms Walker writes beautifully, however, this is not particularly a cross over novel. I couldn't recommend it for that. I'm giving the book a 3.5 rating with a strong nod for YA fiction
Excellent and interesting book with a paranormal twist. This is about the behind the scenes court of the last queen and wife of Henry VIII. Sandra Byrd is an accomplished author and the book is both engaging and well-documented. Interesting history about Queen Kateryn's publications and what became of the daughter from their marriage.
Natalie Dykstra has done much justice to the life and work of Clover Adams. This is a beautiful book about a fleeting and lavishly imagined life. As in any story of a young woman of promise who takes her own life, this one is shocking and harshly jarring. We seem to know her somehow. And in that "knowing" it's difficult to let her go so easily. No matter how many books are written about Clover Adams, I will always wish I knew what made her decide to drink that horrible vial of poison...why she chose to end her life as if trashed upon the wasteland of her artwork. I will never quite be able to forgive Henry Adams for his harshness and cruelties to her, for disallowing her to shine, and for dismissing her so quickly from his mouth and memoirs.This is a very readable and extensive work by Ms Dykstra. She's a capable and learned biographer who has treated the life and heart of Clover Adams with delicacy and honor. I loved this book and highly recommend it. Without regard to Henry Adams, although he does play a major part in Clover's life, obviously, I think it's a strong slice of American history from a woman's perspective. And I think it's a great tribute to the heart of women during an age of repression.
Dark, deceptive, political intrigue and ghostly images...all this and more await the eager reader who loves a thriller and a mystery in "Darkroom." I lived through the Viet Nam War era, but don't recall having read a single suspense novel that has its focus around the Vietnam cross-culture that made its way to the US. This book is unique in many ways. It has a bit of everything to recommend it: love, mystery, conspiracy, family connections to ancient times and places, politics, terrorism and murder; not to mention the Viet Nam War and the vets that brought home not only images, but other baggage, and loved ones. A must read, this book is fast moving, intriguing and beautifully written to tantalize! Joshua Graham is a fantastic writer who knows when to dangle the carrot and when to pull it back. I loved the whole reading process! His characters are rich in detail, lovable, sad, frightening and strangely familiar. I was literally up all night reading "Darkroom" having such a good time in the process. I couldn't put it down... If you've ever been placed in the moral dilemma of wondering whether you should tell the truth and risk it all, you'll love this book. If you've ever wondered if there are conspiracies and cover ups in political arenas we aren't privy to, you'll love this book... I have to give it a solid...5 stars!!
Filled with wry humor, witticisms, and profound truths, "Endure" offers up a tale of enduring quality that showcases Carrie Jones at her very best. With an ease of narration and a writer's voice that speaks so gently through her characters, Ms Jones causes us to hang on her every word. I found myself wanting to write down almost every sentence, there was so much to remember forever in this book. It's the mark of the finest of writing when an author can give you a story with characters who are alive, endearing and profound; while at the same time she can do it sparingly, never wasting a precious word. This is the quality of Carrie Jones's writing. The most mundane of sentences works to counterbalance her other lines so that the work in whole is an artist's rendering like few I've experienced recently. This book should be read by connoisseurs of the written word in YA fiction for that reason only!I must confess to not having read Carrie's other books. I listened to "Need" on audio tape a few years ago, and don't remember much about it, frankly, after reading tons of books, and listening to a library of them later. But I don't think one needs to read the others to get a full sense of the background to understand "Endure." All the highlights and characters of the past are referenced, so the reader is brought up-to-date.All in all "Endure" is a stand alone novel.That's not to say I won't be interested in buying the other books for my collection and reading them, however.As to character, I may already have covered that, but I must say that I'm just in love with Astley. What a prince! I would be his subject any day! No wonder Zara doesn't mind... Zara is a wonderful role model for young adults. She's strong both physically and psychologically. She values family and friend relationships, and she knows how to communicate to work out her problems. Great things for kids to know!I particularly loved her take on overly protective parents in light of her being left without parents... very funny.I think my adult readers will love this little book. I did. As Carrie said "..love is always imperfect no matter how difficult the world is around us and whether it's coming to an end or not." In these days, when there's war and rumor of Apocalypse; when children are being warned of Dec. 2012, and nuclear destruction. When dytopian novels are all the rage and demons run rampant in their fiction. When we experience economic hardships, political up-risings throughout the world, and natural disasters. Carrie Jones gives us light and hope. Refreshing. For that reason, too, this is a wonderful book to read. I would highly recommend it as a gift for a young adult in your life. People are always asking me for recommendations- - here's one!5 perfectly sparkling stars!
I simply want you to know how extraordinary I have found the Professor Bradshaw books to be. It's always fun to me to find a series of books with a great mystery and a protagonist to enjoy coming back to every year, but it's even more fun when the book holds several dear characters. Especially in an adult book format.In addition to the obvious you've read above I found the underbelly of the book gripping; forensics--early investigation in that area of death and discovery; electronic means of criminal investigations; and even early telltale signs of psychology in criminology. Ms Pajer uses these elements with skill and with a delicacy that flavors her book just enough without overwhelming her story. "Fatal Induction" also carries with it the characters I fell in love with in "A Spark of Death:" Mrs. Prouty, the whole "Up-stairs-down-stairs, Downton Abbey staff" in and of herself; (she's bossy and necessary!)Justin, Bradshaw's adorable son; (he's only in trouble because of that Paul next door)Missouri, the lovely "non-niece" of the professor's whom he finds himself "not" thinking of sometimes while she "doesn't" think of him, either; :]and Detective James O'Brien, the Professor's friend--the other investigative man on the "team" who helps solve the mysterious happenings Bradshaw encounters.These are unforgettable and lovable characters, richly developed and singularly interesting. I can't wait to find chapters or paragraphs involving Missouri, for instance. Obviously, she's a favorite of mine. Why can't I have more of her, Bernadette!!???(I wail... So dramatic..)Generally, I'm not a "gagety" person when it comes to electronics and such. I do love my pink, girly hammer and screwdriver things for fix-it projects, and my tiny tools for needlework frames and fixing my unfixable eyeglasses. But, I've not been very involved in large pieces of electrical equipment and inventions, per se.However, Bernadette Pajer and Professor Bradshaw have dragged me in on them! The antique ones, I mean. I even visited the Edison Museum and enjoyed myself very much last year. I'm interested now in several antique inventions. The historical aspects of Pajer's books are an additional bonus I've enjoyed very much. My husband was particularly interested in this book's inclusion of the early police detection invention.This is a good book with lovable characters. It's an oddity amongst mystery novels because of its subjects and inventions. That makes it the sort of book and series that may develop a cult following. I'm on that bandwagon.I would urge you to try the books. Start with "A Spark of Death," then read "Fatal Induction." And give yourself a chapter before you decide... Ms Pajer's next book in the series is soon to be released:I'm rating this book in the series 5 stars.