Wednesday, July 31, 2013

June Books

SPIRIT/Brigid Kemmerer/A-
The third book in the Elemental series featuring the Merrick brothers, each of whom controls a different  natural element. This book is a slight departure, for the main character is not one of the brothers but Hunter Garrity, who came to town hunting the Merricks and instead has formed an uneasy alliance with them. Hunter is a lethally-trained, emotionally screwed up teen boy who is grieving his father's death and doesn't know which way is up in his world any longer. When he meets Kate, Hunter thinks maybe something finally makes sense--but Kate has her own agenda. Brigid Kemmerer writes brilliant teen boys and Hunter is no exception. As a mom, I was torn between wanting to hug him and shake him. The story is a dark one and Kemmerer doesn't hold back.

My favorite horror/supernatural writer is Sarah Rayne and I think I've finally figured out why: because as dark and twisted as her stories get and as evil as some of her characters can be, it's always being balanced with goodness. In Rayne's world, the good wins (usually with a healthy dose of saracasm and humor along the way.) THE SILENCE is her newest book, the third one to feature antiques dealer Nell West. When she takes her daughter to a house once visited by Nell's late husband, various hauntings ensue. THE CHANGELING is old-school Rayne, with lovely Fael Miller helping a cloaked and masked figure to write an opera before being kidnapped for a bizarre sacrifice along the Irish coast. I will always come back to Sarah Rayne for her humor and generous sense of goodness in the midst of evil (not to mention her numerous charming Irish heroes.)

WALKING ON WATER/Madeleine L'Engle/B-
A meditation on being a Christian writer by the author best known for A WRINKLE IN TIME. L'Engle approaches the topic with care and has some lovely thoughts about the intersection of art and spirit . . . but in the end, I think I learn more about her from her fiction.

THE DEMON'S LEXICON/Sarah Rees Brennan/B+
Nick has spent his life on the run from magicians, protective of his older brother and despised by his mother. When his brother is marked for death by a demon, the only way to save him is to find and kill a magician. The task is complicated by a brother and sister duo who are new to the world of magic and demons but in desperate need of help. Nick doesn't care about anything except protecting his brother, but he's starting to suspect his brother hasn't told him the truth about their past. With the trademark wit of Sarah Rees Brennan, a good start to her earlier series.

How the writer and her family spent a year eating only what they grew or could obtain within a 100 mile radius. I liked it better than I expected to (I'm not fond of discovering yet another reason to feel guilty in my life), but it was both informative and entertaining. Also funny--the final chapter on teaching turkeys how to mate is laugh out loud. There are also recipes :)

KING HEREAFTER/Dorothy Dunnett/A+
Ever wonder about the historical Macbeth? I'll simply say this: if Dunnett's novel is not what actually happened a thousand years ago in the north of Scotland, than it is what should have happened. Thorfinn (Macbeth is his baptismal name) is an heir to the Orkney Isles, but also a grandson to King Malcolm of Alba. Fate means him to forge the beginnings of a true Scotland, but Thorfinn knows that such a fate also means his death. His marriage to Groa is a political move that, like lightning, forges a true marriage of love and partnership. The worst part of reading this book was knowing that it will not end well. Nevertheless, I devoured every word and re-read many sections. I've long loved Dunnett's six-volume Lymond chronicles . . . this stand-alone is every bit as brilliant.

INFERNO/Dan Brown/B-
Robert Langdon awakes in an Italian hospital with no memory of how he got there or why he's even in Italy. And then things really get bad. As expected from Brown, lots of gorgeous descriptions of Italy and museums, lots of puzzles, lots of chases and violence, and in this case a beautiful woman who is not everything she seems. I would have graded it higher but for the resolution, which left me feeling lectured at.

17-year-old Jenna Fox has awakened from a coma with no memory of her previous life. As she tries to adjust to the confined world her protective parents have forced her into, Jenna's memories begin to surface. There are secrets being kept from her, and her grandmother can hardly stand to even look at her. What lines did her geneticist father cross to keep her alive, and what price has to be paid now? A near future story with potential that didn't quite pan out for me.

THE AYTON SWANS/Alison Greaves/B-
Inspector McClennan is tasked with discovering who killed a female student on the grounds of the university, and who amongst her friends may still be at risk. The first in a new series, I wanted to love this and there were strong points--McClennan himself, the various students and their individual lives--but the story was swamped by pages of a sociology professor's work that McClennan reads partly to understand the student and her friends and partly because he's interested in the professor. Could have been edited and streamlined for a stronger story.

DEAD AND BURIED/Kim Harrington/B+
Jade is happy to be in a new home and a new high school. But her dream house is the site of a previous student's tragic death and soon Jade (and, more worryingly, her little brother) are being haunted. The ghost demands that Jade solve the mystery of her death, which means suspecting her new friends as well as the good looking boy who was the dead girl's boyfriend. A strong contemporary YA that my daughter read out of doors in the sun to cut down on the creepy factor :)

THE UNSEEN/Alexandra Sokoloff/A-
Psychology professor Laurel McDonald has just started at Duke and needs a research project. She discovers that previously buried files about Duke's parapsychology lab fifty years before have just become available. The lab was closed in the aftermath of an ESP project that ended badly, with the investigation of a haunted house that left its participants either dead or schizophrenic. Laurel and a fellow professor decide to team up and recreate the experiment, but things go wrong from the beginning. A truly creepy, terrifying story with secrets from the past informing the present.

No comments:

Post a Comment