Friday, August 18, 2017

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

How it begins:
"In the sun-warmed quiet of her uncle's library, Lady Helen Wrexhall spread the skirt of her muslin morning gown and sank into the deep curtsy required for Royal presentation:  back held straight, head slightly bowed, left knee bent so low, it nearly touched the floor. And, of course, face set into a serene Court smile."
But 18-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is not your typical debutante. She has hidden gifts and intuitive powers that other young ladies don't have.  Gifts she inherited from her mother...who died in disgrace ten years ago. 
"...reading expressions was her one true accomplishment. When she concentrated properly on a face, her accuracy was startling and a little disturbing. It certainly made her aunt and uncle uneasy, and they had forbidden her to voice her observations about anyone...Girls were meant to paint screens and play pianoforte, not see through the masks of polite society."
Then there's Lord Carlston, who knew her mother and who seems to know more about Helen than he should. And Helen doesn't know if she can trust him.  Her brother certainly doesn't.
"Lord Carlston was handsome, Helen conceded...and the brown of his eyes was so dark that it merged with the black pupil, making their expression impenetrable. It was very disconcerting and gave him a flat look of soullessness .... Helen dipped into her curtsy but did not lower her eyes as modesty decreed, instead, studying Lord Carlston as he bowed. He was studying her just as closely, his gaze far too penetrating for politeness."
Lord Carlston shows Helen abilities she never knew she possessed. And he tells her why she has them. That it has to do with demons and darkness and saving the world.  That Helen is a Reclaimer. It's an inheritance Helen isn't sure she wants. And the story continues from there--an entertaining and fun (although rather long) supernatural adventure set in the Regency era. (And this story is followed by two more books; The Dark Days Club is book one of a trilogy!)

 Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bookish Suspense...

Julie is only 13 years old when she is abducted from her bedroom in the middle of the night in Amy Gentry's Good As Gone.  Eight long years later, she comes home. Anna, her mother, can't believe it. Having Julie back is the happy ending she never let herself hope for, or even imagine. Finally, their family is whole again.  But then Anna catches Julie in a lie. And a former detective investigating the case questions Julie's story and her identity.  Bones of a young girl are found that fit the timeline of when Julie first disappeared.  And Anna begins to wonder if the young woman claiming to be Julie is her daughter after all.

Sounds like the plot of a typical psychological suspense novel, with all the obligatory twists and turns, doesn't it?  But wow, is Good As Gone so much more than that. I started reading it after dinner one night and I could not put it down. The unique way Amy Gentry chose to tell this story is so compelling and intriguing it completely sucked me in...and it made me want to go back and read it all over again from the start when I was done. And I was not expecting that from this book! I love it when a book exceeds your expectations. And this one definitely exceeded mine. I wish I could be more specific as to why, but I don't want to risk giving anything away. It's too good to spoil. So I'll just say...
BBC series: Thirteen

Happy Reading!

But if you like the sound of this one, then you might also like these:

Baby Doll

Saturday, August 12, 2017

August's Bookish Art...

Walter Launt Palmer -- Afternoon in the Hammock, 1882
"A book is a dream that you hold in your hand."
--Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Lying Game

"It's not a game," she said. "It's the game. It's the Lying Game."

It began seventeen years ago at Salten House, a boarding school in Southern England.
It began with four teen-age friends:  Kate, Thea, Fatima, and Isa.
There were four basic rules:  Tell a lie, Stick to your story, Never get caught, and Never lie to each other.
It didn't end well.

With a career and a new baby, Isa Wilde hasn't thought about the Game or those days at Salten House in years. Then she gets a text from Kate saying:  I need you. And she has to go back. They all do. And while Isa is glad to see her old friends, it's not exactly a happy reunion for any of them. Because the past they thought they'd buried, and all their old secrets and lies, are starting to come to light.
They are here: Luc, Ambrose, and not just them, but ourselves, the ghosts of our past, the slim laughing girls we used to be before that summer ended with a cataclysmic crash, leaving us all scarred in our own ways, trying to move on, lying not for fun, but to survive.
This is not exactly a fast-paced page turner, but I didn't mind the unhurried way this mystery unfolds. It takes its time, but I never felt that it dragged. I was too caught up in the story of these four girls. Isa's narrative flows effortlessly between her memories of her year at Salten House with Fatima, Thea and Kate, and what's happening now with Kate and what's been uncovered. And since I'm a sucker for boarding school novels, I have to admit I liked all those bits set in the past with this quartet of imperfect girls and their unbroken bond of friendship. The rest of the plot kept me guessing as to who was behind what and where the truth actually lay. And I did not see that ending coming! Not having read either of Ware's other novels, I don't know how this one compares, I just know that I liked it. What made it even more fun was reading it with Melody. Make sure you go to her blog and check out her awesome review of this book.

Happy Reading!

Similar read:         
The Lake of Dead Languages
by Carol Goodman
P.S.  Melody had a few questions for me after we finished reading this book; here they are along with my answers:

Q. How do you feel about our four characters--Kate, Isa, Thea and Fatima?
A.  I liked all four of the girls, though I didn't agree with the choices and decisions they made. I had the most sympathy for Kate, even when I found her close-mouthed and frustrating; Fatima and Isa were the most likeable and the two I'd probably get along with the best; and beautiful, prickly Thea was the biggest mystery. I found myself really wanting to know more about her.

Q.  Since this is your first Ruth Ware book, how do you find it and do you like the story?
A. This book is good, although not nearly as suspenseful as I thought it would be. Still, I really like the way Ware writes and I can't wait to try her other books.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A little bookish serendipity....

Inspired by an episode of Friends, Amal, an Australian-Palestinian-Muslim teen-age girl, makes the hard decision to start wearing her hijab full-time. She views the headscarf as a visible badge of her faith. But she's also worried about how everyone else is going to react. Her parents are naturally concerned, but very supportive; the principal of her high school is much less so. At least she can count on her closest friends. But what will Adam think of her new look? Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah is an honest and humorous account of one Muslim girl's journey through life as she navigates school, friendship, love, family and faith.
"All this time I've been walking around thinking I've become pious because I've made the difficult decision to wear the hijab. I've been assuming that now that I'm wearing it full-time, I've earned all my brownie points. But what's the good of being true to your religion on the outside, if you don't change what's on the inside, where it really counts? ... I've been kidding myself. Putting on the hijab isn't the end of the journey. It's just the beginning of it."
Amal is a charming character. She has all the normal teen worries, along with a few extra hijab-inspired ones. And this book gives you a view of Islam from the inside out. It's insightful and entertaining and I liked it a lot. Best of all, I got my copy for a quarter from my library's discarded books sale. Don't you just love  bookish bargains? So, here's to serendipitous library finds that lead to such interesting and enjoyable reads.  I bought another discarded library book the same day I got this one; I hope it's just as good. The cover and title certainly sound like fun:

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A bit of randomness

So, I didn't feel like reviewing The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari, not because it wasn't good...because it was...but because I didn't feel like trying to sum up such a complicated suspense novel in two paragraphs. So I'll just say that I ended up liking it a lot, and plan on reading more of his books. And I highly recommend checking him out.

But that left me without a post for today.

So, I decided to throw together a few random bits that will hopefully make you smile like they did me.  Enjoy!

I feel like this sometimes!
Don't you?

Besides, who wouldn't trade a bunch of boring adult responsibilities for a beach like that!

I also like this "adulting" quote:

This one made me laugh.
Because haven't we all been there?

Or felt this way, too:

Hmm.  Seems I have a theme going here.

But just to keep this post as random as its title suggests, I'll end with something completely different, something even more random. It's a magnet I have on my refrigerator. And I really love it:

Isn't that great?

I'll get back to reviewing books in my next post.  Until then...
Happy Reading!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Another magical read from the K shelf...

Title:  The Mark of the Tala
Author:  Jeffe Kennedy
Genre:  Fantasy

First line:  My version of the story goes all the way back to the once upon a time with the three princesses, each more beautiful than the last. That's me, there, in the middle.

Summary:  Born the middle sister, Princess Andromeda is neither her father's favorite, nor the most beautiful. For the most part, she is invisible. And she likes it that way. But then one day, while out riding, she meets Rayfe, leader of the shape-shifting Tala, who claims she is destined to be his queen. He believes she is the key to saving his homeland of Annfwn. It seems her mother, who died when she was five, was one of the Tala, too. Not that Andi knows anything about them, or their magic. To make matters worse, her father, High King Uorsin, has declared the Tala his enemy and is determined to prevent Andi from fulfilling her destiny. In reality, he wants the fabled Annfwn for himself. Which leaves Princess Andromeda caught in the middle once more.

My thoughts:  This is a fun read. It's not too long or overly complicated. And the three sisters are an interesting study in contrasts, although this is mostly Andi's story. I ended up liking Rayfe a lot, with his dark intensity and ability to shift into the shape of a wolf or raven. He and Andromeda make a great pair. And the Tala magic is cool, though I wish there were more of it in the book. There are a couple of fairly graphic sex scenes, so be warned if that's not your thing. All in all, I'm glad I found this fantasy on the K shelf; and even though I probably won't be reading the next two books that follow it (which are about Amelia and Ursula, Andi's sisters), I enjoyed reading this one.

Happy Reading!

Similar reads:
     Uprooted by Naomi Novik
     The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
     On the Edge by Ilona Andrews