Kate Warne is an independent woman in Chicago in the mid-1850's without a husband or anywhere to go until she finds herself applying for a job as Pinkerton's first female agent. As the first of her kind you can imagine the obstacles in her way but she gets around them and soon has most of the other agents and her boss admiring her abilities and pluck. This is a very dangerous world and it gets even more dangerous when she travels into the war torn South to spy for the Union army and prevent an assassination attempt on President Lincoln's life. This is a historical novel with heart and soul as well as all the violence and mayhem of a pulse racing thriller. Based on a true story we see that Kate Warne's exciting life was not a bed of roses and in the end she is left with a few close friends and no family outside of Pinkerton's but she did live her life the way she wanted.
Say Nothing by Brad Parks
Scott Sampson is a federal judge, happily married with six year old twins and living the good life until one day when the bottom drops out with the discovery that someone other than family has picked up the twins from school and he receives the first message. If Scott does not throw cases as the kidnapper wants them bad things will happen to the kids. He risks losing his reputation as he tries to influence the cases in front of him and try to discover who is behind the kidnapping. Terror builds quickly and keeps you moving rapidly through the book imagining the anguish of this family living each day not knowing if you will get a body part in the mail or a request that you can't pull off that will mean your child's execution. Scott soon begins to not trust anyone even his wife Alison and his staff. This is every parent's nightmare and you will keep a close eye on your own kids even after you close the book cover.
As is the case with Kate Alcott's books you learn a little bit of history, get a taste of the times woven with a coming of age story that is ageless. This is doubly true of "The Hollywood Daughter". Jess is the only child of an up and coming studio publicist and a former movie theater ticket taker. As her dad rises up in the ranks Jess and her mom transform from ordinary to a Beverly Hills posh existence.
Jess becomes infatuated with one of her dad's up and coming clients, Ingrid Bergman and as her idolization grows so does Ms. Bergman's rise in popularity until the unthinkable happens. This is the Golden Age of Hollywood as it enters into the terrors of Senator McCarthy's witch hunt which destroyed lives, careers, families and almost destroyed Jess. This is the perfect coming of age story of a girl who tried to be a voice of reason when all around her there were cries of hate and prejudice.
Beautifully crafted story about loss, family and friendship between two middle school boys. Nathan and Robert become friends after a bullying incident and are inseparable ever since. Nathan loses his father early and then Robert loses his brother and the two must navigate growing up with unbearable grief. Nathan begins to grieve by taking chances while Robert tries to keep up and let grief make sense. While Nathan finds new ways to test death and get the attention of the unattainable girl, Robert must try to keep up and bring his family back together. This is the perfect coming of age story and one that is destined to be placed on the shelf with " To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Stand by Me".
February 15th, 2017
Gilded Cage by Vic James
A well thought out fantasy world that reads like "Downton Abbey" meets "The Magicians". We find ourselves in a world that is very much like Victorian England with one huge exception - the gentry with "skill" or magic are exempt from doing their slave time but the middle and lower class must donate 10 years of their lives to slave labor. One family thinks to do their time together as a family but that plan goes awry when the boy in the family is sent to the worst work camp while the rest of the family goes to a country manor to work for the Jardines. Luke finds himself in a hellhole while Mom, Dad and the two girls are in a kinder environment but one with hidden dangers. Luke meets a young woman who introduces him to a group of people who are working the underground trying to help others survive Millmoor which puts him at risk but gives his life meaning. There is an air of a Regency romance working with the magic and political intrigue of fantasy worlds such as "The Tearling books". This debut keeps readers engaged at a fast pace and is the perfect blend of politics, mystery and magic that will leave readers waiting eagerly for book two.
Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach
Twins are joined much closer than other siblings so when one twin is presumed dead the other may ask questions. Ava left home to run away to Paris and in doing so, left her twin Zoe to deal with their mom's dementia and the family vineyard in New York. After hearing of her twin's death, Ava returns to the family compound only to receive cryptic messages from her dead sister leading her on a wild goose chase to find her. Ava has left behind the pain of New York but now must confront it and find out if Zoe is really alive and if so, why put on this elaborate show. We follow the clues a - z until the conclusion where you really find out how much you know about your other half. Good brisk pace and although we don't always get a clear picture of the family dynamic, there is still a good mystery going on.
Lincoln is in the midst of the Civil War and his youngest son has just died. Lost in his grief he comes to the graveyard to be with his son. As he opens the crypt and holds his son he is not alone for the inhabitants that are caught in the Bardo (the halfway place) are watching. The book is told in commentary from the key ghosts and their interactions with Willie, Lincoln's newly dead son. This is grief in its rawest form. We see a despondent Lincoln who can't let go and Willie, who can't move on because he knows he must wait for his father. Some of the neighboring spirits are hopeful, some are rude and some try to persuade Willie to move on. This is a story told in a very unusual and inventive form and reminded me of a Shakespeare tragedy.
The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey
Life on the small island of St. Brigid is brutal and raw as the landscape but for a small number of families that have clung to its rocky cliffs, the island and its power is timeless and secret. Stories say that there is magic on the island and women have come to a secret well to ask Saint Brigid to give them a child. One day an American appears and moves into the dilapidated cottage that has been in her family and slowly works her way into the island community. Brigid has her own secrets and reasons for coming to the island. Not all warm up to Brigid and some, like Emer, do not trust her reasons for being on the island sensing that there is more to the story. The island and its people believe in the old ways, have been given special gifts from the fairies and know that someday the fairies will collect. Beautifully written - you can almost feel the spray from the sea and the cold wind or smell the peat.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
It takes talent to translate old myths into amusing yet hard hitting stories and that is just what Neil Gaiman does. He takes the gods, trolls and giants of Scandinavian lore and gives them human characteristics with superhuman skills. I was watching "Vikings" at the same time I read this and it adds a new perspective. Legends and myths were told to protect, guide or strike fear in communities. If children were told that Loki would come and play tricks on them if they didn't mind the adults, then you had hopes of well behaved children. I love the author's sense of humor in translating these stories.
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