Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Few of the Girls by Maeve Binchy

In this collection of short stories published posthumously with a forward by her husband Gordon Snell, Binchy's fans will recognize her voice in each one of them and relate to the themes of love, friendship and the meaning in living day to day.  This is a good summer read, some of the stories are less than 10 pages, so I can pick it up and put it down anytime. I really enjoyed Picnic at St. Paul's, Afternoon Phone-In and Audrey which is told from the perspective of a very wise cat. You'll never guess what amazing favors your furry friends have in store for you!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

I’ll confess that I had my doubts about this one.  Harry Potter as a series is an epic story couched in a subplot about four kids just trying to make their way in school like everyone else.  And, in seven books, the story had been told, start to finish.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is, first and foremost, actually a play.  If you open the book, it is a script, complete with stage directions. Don’t expect another novel. The story focuses on Harry Potter and his son, and their relationship.  Beyond that, I can’t say much for fear of spoiling the plot for those who haven’t yet read it. But it is interesting to see how Harry Potter would “play out” so to speak, as a play.  Reading the stage directions involving items appearing, disappearing, moving by themselves, and the innumerable set changes would lead me to conclude that the play would be impossible to stage in real life, were it not playing right now in London’s West End.  While it may not add a huge amount of material to the original Potter canon, it is definitely worth a look, especially if you have children who may never have read a story in script format before.  It’s a different way of thinking and it compliments Harry Potter well.  A-

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

Just for fun I read this book written for young people. It is the story of three high school sisters. They have moved to a new city and a new school following the divorce of their parents. Not far into it, you find out that each girl starts to experience a special ability. April, the oldest, can sometimes, kind of, see the short term future. May, can disappear. June can read people’s minds. They showed some of these abilities as very young children, but for whatever reason, the phenomenon laid dormant until now. As they try to adjust to a new home life and school life, they struggle to harness their gifts. They realize they need to control and wisely use what they have. In the process, they first feel like freaks, but eventually embrace their uniqueness and sisterhood. The driving force of the story is a frightening vision that April has throughout about red flashing lights amidst the presence of people she knows and loves. An entertaining and fast moving book.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Matlida by Roald Dahl

                Matilda is not your typical child.  She was able to read at an early age but the only books in the Wormwood house is the phone book.  At age 4 she starts to walk to the public library where is she is greeted by an enormous amount of books!  The librarian shows her the children’s picture books but soon realizes that Matilda is beyond picture books and shows her Great Expectations!  Matilda then moves though all the great classic novels.  Although Matilda is a smart young girl, she has horrible parents and terrible brother.  During the story we learn that her father, a used car salesman, cheats out is customers by fixing the odometer and other sneaky fixes to make the cars look better than they are.  Because of this Matilda decides to teacher her parents a lesson!  Her parents finally allow Matilda to attend school, she starts at Crunchem Hall Elementary School.  The headmistress is Miss Trunchbull; who might be worse than her parents!   
                Although Matilda attends school, she is welcomed by a wonderful teacher, Miss Honey.  Miss Honey notices how intelligent Matilda is and starts to challenge her and forge kind and caring relationship Matilda has with an adult. 

                After you read this classic children’s book, check out the movie.  It is just as good as the book!  Danny DeVito plays Matilda’s father and also directs.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

First frost is coming to Bascom, North Carolina.  The Waverly sisters, Claire and Sydney are capable women but stressing about things going on in their lives. Claire is too busy with her candy business and Sydney wants a baby along with dealing with her adolescent daughter, Bay.  Bay cares for  a boy whose father has history with Sydney. The Waverly's are interesting characters who have special talents or peculiar gifts which cause them to be outsiders in their town. A stranger arrives in town causing disruption in their lives. A little magic flows through this book and a mischievous apple tree adds humor to the story. This book follows Garden Spells and picks up the story of this family.  This book has less magic and I enjoyed it more than the first one.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Extreme Prey by John Sandford

Yes, this is Book #26 in Sandford's "Prey" series, but if you've never read them and are curious, this is an especially fun one to read.  Lucas Davenport, no longer with the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is on the campaign staff for the MN governor, who is running for president.

While on the campaign trail in Iowa, the governor gets wind of a potential assassination plot against his rival in the campaign, and asks Lucas to investigate.  The case takes him to many Iowa towns, as well as to the State Fair.

This is classic Sandford, with the added benefit of being on our own home turf, which makes the book that much more fun to read.  He evens goes to Pella!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

Linda Conrads is a reclusive novelist still traumatized by the murder of her sister twelve years ago.  Linda saw the murderer leaving the scene, but he was never caught.  When she unexpectedly spots him on TV, she is certain no one will believe her.  So she sets a trap for him in the plot of her next novel.  The Trap is a good, twisty thriller.