Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Trophy Child

Fiction by Paula Daly.

The Trophy Child

This story begins with a teenage girl called Verity who seems to be in some trouble, but we learn rather quickly that it is her younger sister, ten-year-old Bronte, who is the Trophy Child mentioned in the title. Bronte is exceptional, according to her mother, and she must needs realize her potential in life, whatever the personal cost to her family or herself.

This was a really good thriller that did not go where I expected it to.

I also read recently by this author: Just what kind of mother are you?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Promise Bride

Fiction by Gina Welborn and Becca Whitham.

The Promise Bride

This book was (co)written by a fellow military wife who was stationed with me recently, although she's moved elsewhere now.

It's a straight historical romance, and a good one. I'm interested to see where the next book will take the series.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

One of Us Is Lying

Fiction by Karen McManus.

One of Us Is Lying (B&N Exclusive Edition)

At the beginning of this story, five high school students enter detention together. There is a jock, a brain, a beauty queen....

Wait, haven't I seen this movie?

But the story quickly veers off-script. This is not a Molly Ringwald move; it's a murder mystery!

Very exciting read!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sleeping Beauties

Fiction by Stephen King and Owen King.

Sleeping Beauties

"What do women want?" This supposedly impossible question is attributed to Sigmund Freud in the text of this story, and Freud was indeed quoted by his biographer to have said he did not know the answer to the query (Was will das Weib? in the original German). It seems that this question has been asked by men throughout history, however, as evidenced by Chaucer's Canterbury Tales actually recording it in the fourteenth century. 

In this book, an answer is posited. "What do women want? They want a nap."

While this answer is a bit simplistic, I can't argue that there is some truth in it. I recently wrote a post in my blog about my own quest for a nap, actually.

This story could be read as a cautionary tale of the "be careful what you wish for" variety. In it, every woman in the world is suddenly unable to wake up when she falls asleep; instead she is encased in a cocoon-like sleeping bag cannot be roused. Obviously, this does not go well. What happens to the world when all the women are out of commission? (Nothing good, I'll wager.)

It's an interestingly feminist story in way, especially for one written by men, although it could be said that it's another argument for the unanswerable nature of the above question. As in, "You give women what they want, and suddenly they don't want it any more!"

But it could also be giving the same answer that Chaucer's Wife of Bath gave so many years ago: women want exactly what men want, which is to be in control of their own lives.

All this intellectual rigmarole aside, this was a really interesting and thought-provoking story. It was worth the 700-page read.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Fiction by Paula Daly

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

What if you were supposed to be watching a friend's child and you forgot? And then something happened to the child....

In this story, Lisa's daughter Sally was supposed to bring her best friend home to spend the night after school, but then Sally got sick and stayed home from school that day. Lisa was busy at work and forgot to call and cancel the sleepover, and neither she nor Sally even remembered that the sleepover had been planned until the child did not show up for school the next day. Then Sally called her friend, and the friend's mom said, "Isn't she with you?" Then Lisa receives a panicked call from Sally and realizes she forgot about her kid's best friend.

This premise scared me, because I never feel like I'm on top of things. It seems there is always something I'm forgetting, niggling at the back of my mind. Maybe every mom feels like this.

This was an exciting thriller with an ending I did not expect.

I also read by this author: The Mistake I Made

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Note

Fiction by Angela Hunt

The Note

A huge plane crash in Tampa Bay leaves no survivors, but there is a note...

This was a pretty good book, but I've read others by Angela Hunt that are better.

I also read by this author: Let Darkness Come

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Don't You Cry

Fiction by Mary Kubica.

Don't You Cry

Quinn's roommate Esther goes missing one Sunday morning, and she finds out that the girl she called Saint Esther might not be so saintly after all.

This was a good thriller with a surprising twist at the end.

I also read recently by this author: Every Last Lie

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Beneath The Night Tree

Fiction by Nicole Baart

Beneath the Night Tree

This was a pretty good book, except that it turned out to be number THREE in a series and I haven't read numbers one and two. GRRRR.

PEOPLE. Can you not LABEL these things?!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Fall of Giants

Fiction by Ken Follett.

Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy #1)

I should probably stop singing the praises of Ken Follett... but I'm not going to.

This book, set at the beginning of the twentieth century, is the beginning of a new trilogy (!!) of which all three are already published (!!!!) and are available on read by a lovely British voice actor who really brings the characters to life. (!!!!!!)

I just cannot recommend this enough.

I also read recently by this author: A Column of Fire.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Secret Daughter

Subtitled: "A Mixed Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away"
Nonfiction by June Cross

Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away

I have mixed feelings about memoirs; they can be interesting but often are not. People's assessments of their own lives are usually skewed, however they try to be honest.

This is pretty good for a non-celebrity memoir, in that it can (mostly) keep your attention on this author's life even though you don't know anything about her beforehand, but it does get slow at times.

June's main focus, understandably, is on race, and how her white mother sent her away to be raised in the black community, ostensibly for her own good. But instead of letting June's black mother (Aunt Peggy) adopt her and permanently make her a part of their family, June's biological mother keeps her hand in by having June "visit" her "real" home once a year or so. This leaves June conflicted and confused; with her biological mother hovering in the background she can't give her loyalty to Aunt Peggy, who is her real mother in the sense of making her go to school, eat regular meals, take her bath, do her homework, wear her coat when it is cold, and the myriad other things that real mothers do all year long. Meanwhile, her biological mother gets to do fun holiday things with her sometimes, and (to be fair) sends money for her support. It's a very "Disneyland Dad" situation, and I really felt for Aunt Peggy who loved June and tried to be the best mother she could.

So June felt that her trouble was that she was neither black nor white, but kept permanently in limbo between the two, never being allowed to join one culture or the other. I think this is only partially a racial problem in her case, however. The main thing was that her white mother gave her up without ever giving her up, selfishly keeping her straddling two families so that she could not truly be a part of either one.

Still, June was eventually able to come into her own identity, which is what the story is about. All in all, it's a good but not great memoir.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Mistake I Made

Fiction by Paula Daly

The Mistake I Made

Just from the title, one can tell that this story is about a woman who does something she shouldn't have, and faces some tough consequences for it. So I knew that this book was in danger of causing Oh-No-I-Can't-Look-Syndrome, which can be difficult to read because of the way you cringe while watching your main character careen obliviously towards certain disaster.

But, interestingly enough, this character was trapped so very neatly into to making the aforementioned mistake that I actually felt she couldn't have done anything else. So that made the story much more readable and interesting... plus I was pretty sure she wasn't quite as doomed as she seemed.

It's a good book!