Monday, April 14, 2014

A Few More Quickie Reviews

Here are a few quickie reviews of some of my latest reads:

about book:  Scotland Yard's Murder Squad returns, in the stunning new historical thriller from the author of the acclaimed national bestseller The Yard.

The British Midlands.  It's called the "Black Country" for a reason.  Bad things happen there.

When members of a prominent family disappear from a coal-mining village - and a human eyeball is discovered in a bird's nest - the local constable sends for help from Scotland Yard's new Murder Squad.  Fresh off the grisly 1889 murders of The Yard, Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith respond, but they have no idea what they're about to get into.  The villagers have intense, intertwined histories.  Everybody bears a secret.  Superstitions abound.  And the village itself is slowly sinking into the mines beneath it.

Not even the arrival of forensics pioneer Dr. Bernard Kingsley seems to help.  In fact, the more the three of them investigate, the more they realize they may never be allowed to leave...

my thoughts:  The Black Country was a miss for me - ugh!  This book had too many gory details, several underdeveloped characters, and a disjointed storyline that was chock full of murders, epidemics, and natural disasters.  There was just too much going on (and in so many different directions) that you couldn't help but feel as if the author had tried to jam in every idea he had into one story - it was ridiculous!!  I would definitely not recommend this novel,unless you are a fan of the overkill novel.

about book:  Winner of 2013 e-Lit Awards winner in the Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction category. 2012 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the category of Juvenile Fiction.
Pablo Perez is a 12-year-old poor kid without much going for him. His classmates have dubbed him “Duct Tape” because his tattered discount-store sneakers are held together with…you guessed it, duct tape. He can’t escape the bullying.

Pablo’s luck, however, changes after he finds a $20 gold coin while swimming in a river near his home.Pablo later buys a $1 treasure map at the county fair. The map shows the route to the “lost treasure” of Jesse James. Pablo can’t help but wonder: Is there a link between the map and the gold coin? He is determined to find out, and he, his 9-year-old sister and 13-year-old cousin hire an ill-natured cave guide, and begin a treacherous underground adventure in search of treasure.

my thoughts:  What a fun filled adventure novel!  This book had such wonderful characters - they were complicated, authentic, and easy to cheer for.  Three kids on a mission to find treasure - how fun does that sound?  A Boy Called Duct Tape is a heartwarming read about friendship, bravery, self-acceptance, and the belief that dreams can come true.  I would most definitely recommend this book to fans of children's fiction!

about book:  In a stunning collection that announces the arrival of an incredible talent, Kristiana Kahakauwila travels the islands of Hawai'i, making the fabled place her own.  Exploring the deep tensions between local and tourist, tradition and expectation, facade and authentic self, This Is Paradise provides an unforgettable portrait of life as it's truly being lived on Maui, Oahu, Kaua'i, and the Big Island.

In the gut punch of "Wanle," a beautiful and tough young woman wants nothing more than to follow in her father's footsteps as a legendary cockfighter.  With striking versatility, the title story employs a chorus of voices - the women of Waikiki - to tell the tale of a young tourist drawn to the darker side of the city's nightlife.  "The Old Paniolo Way" limns the difficult nature of legacy and inheritance when a patriarch tries to settle the affairs of his ranch before his death.

Elegant, brutal, and profound, this magnificent debut captures the grit and glory of modern Hawai'i with breathtaking force and accuracy.  Kahakauwila's exquisitely written stories remind us of our powerful desire to belong, to put down roots, and to have a place to call home.

my thoughts:  Fantastic book of short stories set in Hawaii!  The writing was brilliant, the characters were complex and fully developed, and the issues of identity and family were deeply explored within these stories.  This book showcased the beauty and the ugly realities within Hawaii - the real and glaringly real.  There was a tinge of sadness to each story, which really helped to highlight the ups and many downs of living in a tourist destination.  I absolutely loved this book and would wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of short stories - you will LOVE it!!

about book:  Eliot Lamb has had countless nights like this before.  He's out with his mates, pint in hand, shots at the ready. They're at the King's Arms and will soon be making their familiar descent: pub, bar, club.  But this time it's different.  When the night ends and tomorrow begins, he'll graduate from Oxford and head reluctantly into adulthood.  As he stares into the foam of his first beer, he knows it won't be easy.  He'll have to confront his feelings for Ella, an Oxford classmate whose passion for literature matches his own, as well as Lucy, hist first love, whose ominous phone calls and text messages are threatening to unravel him.  And then there's the tragic secret he's been hiding all this time, which is about to find its way out and send his night into serious turmoil.

Ben Masters has written a thoroughly modern coming-of-age story full of style, heart, and humor.  Eliot Lamb - for all his mastery of literary theory, postmodern novels, and classic poetry - is about to be dragged into adult life, whether he likes it or not.

my thoughts:  What do you do after you graduate from college?  That is the premise of this dull story that goes absolutely nowhere.  UGH!  What a waste of my time!  There was no plot to really speak of and all of the literary references/quotes (it was an excessive amount) were used to show off just how smart the protagonist was - LAME!  I would characterize this book as typical lad lit fare.  Definitely not a book I would recommend!

about book:  Yael, Avishag, and Lea grow up together in a tiny, dusty Israeli village, attending high school made up of caravan classrooms, passing notes to each other to alleviate the universal boredom of teenage life.  When they are conscripted into the army, their lives change in unpredictable ways, influencing the women they become and the friendship that they struggle to sustain.  Yael trains marksmen and flirts with boys.  Avishag stands guard, watching refugees throw themselves at barbed-wire fences.  Lea, posted at a checkpoint, imagines the stories behind the familiar faces that pass by her day after day.  They gossip about boys and whisper of an ever more violent world just beyond view.  They drill, constantly, for a moment that may never come.  They live inside that single, intense second just before danger erupts.

In a relentlessly energetic and arresting voice marked by humor and fierce intelligence, Shani Boianjiu creates an unforgettably intense world, capturing that unique time in a young woman's life when a single moment can change everything.

my thoughts:  A thought-provoking read about growing up in Israel - from school to the military.  We find ourselves getting a peek into the lives of three best friends and the choices they make about life, love, and career.  The writing was terrific - it was dark, enlightening, and absolutely mesmerizing!  I would most definitely recommend this book to fans of fiction.

And there you have it, a few of my recent reads.  Some were hits, and some were misses.  In the end, I found some new writers to keep an eye out for.  Now I'm off to finish reading Jacqueline Winspear's, Elegy for Eddie.  Happy reading!!

1 comment:

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