Adriane lives in a future world that is completely controlled by the government where everything is monitored, pre-determined, and uniformity rules. She gains the unwanted attention of the authorities due to her free-thinking Valedictorian speech and is sent to an unusual prison of sorts. Her treasonous tendencies must be stripped away so they teleport her back in time to a boarding school in 1959 to spend her 4-year sentence under a new name. Mary Ellen, Adriane's new identity, is so terrified that "Big Brother" is watching her every move that she barely speaks to anyone, doesn't try to stand out and doesn't try to make friends. She does find a kindred soul in another exile and does the unthinkable - falls in love and begins to think for herself. I found it very interesting that this future limited any free thought, ambition, and individuality and she is exiled to the late 50's/early 60's where women saw college as a means of finding their future husband but it was also the beginning of free speech and radical thought. The writing is choppy which fits Adriane/Mary Ellen and her intense fear of being singled out and extinguished. For those who favor HANDMAID'S TALE or VOX, this book will ignite a fire in you.
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has just been suspended with nothing to do when out of the blue he is summoned to a broken down farmhouse along with a psychiatrist friend and a young builder and told that they have been named liquidators of a will for a woman none of them have ever met. Even though the three of them can find no connection to the woman who called herself the Baroness, they can't resist the mystery. Winter in Quebec is anything but helpful so when a blizzard keeps all of them together, the neighbors give their help as well. Gamache works to solve the mystery of the Baroness maid, solve a murder and clear his name at headquarters by locating a lot of drugs that have gone missing. The characters in this little town are delightful - even the cranky ones and keep you interested in not only the mystery at hand but also Gamache and his careful plodding way. Armand Gamache is Canada's version of Christie's Inspector Poirot but with much more snark and style.
The Adults by Caroline Hulse
Christmas holiday with your boyfriend, his ex, and her new boyfriend and their seven-year-old sounds like fun right? Only if your idea of fun is a root canal. In the beginning, everything is honky-dory with everyone trying to play nice and make it a fun-filled vacation for Scarlet. Scarlet is happy to have her parents back together even though she could do without the other two adults. Soon though everyone is at each other's throats and even Scarlet's imaginary giant rabbit, Posey wants to run for the hills. And then there is the archery incident. This is the story of some very childish adults and one precocious child trying to make sense of the world and their place in it. It will make you think twice about deciding who to go on holiday with.
Limetown by Cote Smith
This is a great pick if you love conspiracy theories, the Bermuda Triangle or are a fan of Stranger Things. Lia is a budding journalist who just wants a straight answer about what happened to the uncle she barely remembers and her parents won't talk about. Why did her uncle Emile and scores of others simply vanish one day from a strange nearby facility? Why won't her parents tell her anything?
We alternate between present day and Lia's search for truth and what happened years before when Lia's dad and his brother were young and Emile's story after. I haven't heard the podcast but the storyline here is promising, the tension ramps up and my curiosity is peaked.
There is no simple bookshelf to place this unusual book onto. It combines magic, horror, fantasy and certain themes found in Russian literature. Sasha meets a dark strange man who helps her and in return is awarded gold coins which she vomits after completing the task before her. As she meets more and more of these challenges she is told to pack and travel to the remote Institute of Special Technologies. Fear for her family and a morbid curiosity about the school will drive her to this strange campus with its very unusual set of courses. As she progresses in her studies, Sasha gains insight and certain powers but these new impulses cannot be controlled easily and can lead to disastrous results. This is what happens if Harry Potter took a bad acid trip in a darker version of Hogwarts. Russian authors, the Dyachenkos have created a story that is unique and an interesting telling of something powerful and mystic.
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
Everything Maurice Swift writes is a masterpiece. He is the master of so many different styles as well as being good looking and in right at home in all the best literary circles. How does he do it? Where does his genius come from? Let's just say that he borrows things. As you read of his exploits your jaw will drop further and further until you are begging, like those he has trampled, for the proverbial other shoe to drop and justice. He is despicable yet successful, charming but cunning like a snake and above all else, he is ambitious. John Boyne takes us into the world of high stakes publishing, the literary underbelly and introduces us to an author so odious and lethal you are left breathless. Like leaning a ladder to the sky - it has to fall down sometime.
Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg
There are certain authors who have the innate ability to make us feel deeply for characters we have just met, to laugh while we are crying and finish the book with a heartfelt happy sigh and sniffle - Elizabeth Berg is one of those wonderful authors. The people of Mason Missouri fall in love, quietly grieve for lost loved ones, deal with tragedy and celebrate the joy of life - they are good neighbors and true friends. Some of them really never got going with their life, some are starting over and some are just looking for more time.
This is a book to savor with a cozy blanket, steaming mug of coffee and cake. A must read if you devoured THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV as you will welcome some of the characters back like old friends but it also works as a standalone.
Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama
Kazumasa Yuuki is a reporter who is caught in the political power struggles of his newspaper. He finds himself the Desk Chief in charge of getting the scoop on one of the deadliest plane crashes in the world. Yuuki makes some unpopular decisions and his actions affect not only himself and his career but also that of the newsroom. Years later he returns near the site of the crash to conquer one of his biggest fears, that of climbing the mountain peak he and his friend were supposed to climb the day of the crash. This is listed as a thriller, which it is not, but more an introspective look at a man who is unsure of himself as a father, husband, newspaperman and team leader. It is about facing your fears and doing what you feel is right.
Heirs of the Founders by H.W. Brands
H.W. Brands always seems to bring to light lesser known people or events. We all know about the founding fathers of this country but give little time and energy to the next generation of statesmen who had to keep the fledgling country going and balance the many different visions of democracy. John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster were all very intelligent, well-respected and very verbal politicians. All had White House aspirations but lost the office to others and all of them maintained very visible Washington profiles. The three men came from different parts of the country which held to different beliefs. Post-revolutionary Washington was just as volatile, loud and fraught with political strife as today and these three men were at the forefront of one of the greatest and disturbing question - how to handle those who wanted slavery to continue with those that didn't. This debate would last through several presidencies, numerous proposals and for Calhoun, Clay and Webster, a lifetime of debate. This book is well researched and in character with his other books, filled with interesting side stories to give you the necessary background. Instead of just spouting facts and figures, Brands makes history come alive.
Those Who Knew by Idra Novey
Politics, an unsolved crime and a group of people who might know the truth but have little power are what makes up this timely story.
It gets a bit jumbled when you are going from the current day back a decade or more and then reading bits of a play throughout. The story is very similar to what we are seeing in the "Me Too" movement so even though it takes place on a small island with a shaky government instead of Washington or Hollywood, the similarities are clear. A group of not powerful Davids take on a Goliath powerful Senator.
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