Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling by John Galbraith

Cormoran Strike is a struggling private investigator in London.  Down on his  luck in almost every aspect of his life, Strike is thrilled when he is hired by the brother of supermodel to prove her death wasn’t the suicide police believed it to be. It’s a good mystery with interesting characters, and is hopefully the start of a series.  Galbraith is a pseudonym of J.K. Rowling.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

1356 by Bernard Cornwell

Medieval history is never so exciting as when Bernard Cornwell tells it.  He turns what would be boring paragraph in a textbook into a full-length novel filled with intrigue, suspense, rogue monks and cardinals, and an anti-hero-for-hire named Thomas and his band of  fighters known as the Hellequin, or “Devil’s souls.”  If that wasn't enough for one book, the plot also revolves around the possession of an artifact known as la malice, St. Peter’s own sword used to defend Christ in the garden.  The battles have a surprising amount of historical accuracy (as explained by Cornwell in the end notes), but it’s Cornwell’s telling of the story that keeps you hooked.  It’s no coincidence that Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin recommended the book—it has some of the greatest battle scenes that I’ve ever read.  If you’re a fan of the Medieval genre, I encourage you to try 1356.  Don’t be fooled by the “historical fiction,” label.  It’s an action and suspense novel with the history thrown in for good measure.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

One Breath Away By Heather Gudenkauf

     The book jacket stated that this author is a New York Times Bestselling author and that she is from Iowa.  I have not read any of her other novels and read this one on the recommendation of a friend.
     The cover says, one school, one gunman, your child.  I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book after reading that, but I was pleasantly surprised.  This was a fairly easy read and the emphasis really isn't on the gunman but tells the story from different characters points of view.  The characters include a veteran teacher, a policewoman who has a daughter in the class the gunman is holding, a student, a mother who is hospitalized in another state and a grandfather.  I enjoyed the back and forth between characters and their thoughts and feelings.  The story is set in a fictional small Iowa town during a spring snowstorm.  I thought the setting was portrayed quite accurately.
    I enjoyed this book and hope to read other books by this author.

Monday, August 12, 2013

From the Kitchen of Half Truth by Maria Goodin

Meg May was raised on stories. The kind of stories you can’t really believe, such as how the runner beans her mother bought jumped up and ran away and she had to chase them around the kitchen, or that a spaghetti plant sprouted outside the window on Meg’s first birthday. But she can’t get her mother to tell her anything else. And since her father supposedly died in a tragic pastry-mixing accident, there is no one else who can tell her the truth about her childhood.
Now her mother is ill and Meg is determined to learn more about who she is. Time is running out. But Meg begins to wonder if she wants to spend her mother’s last days arguing. And as she finds the truth within reach, she also wonders if she really wants to know what it is. An enjoyable first novel from this author, this book takes us on an interesting journey with Meg. We witness her relationships with people who impact her life in different ways, first through her memories of childhood and now as a young adult. This story conveys this complicated mother-daughter relationship in a way we can all appreciate.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Or by a single individual.  The same applies to the lifestyle we call modern America — a whole host of people, but a handful of which are described in this book, are responsible for the everyday and extraordinary technological and practical advancements that we take for granted.  Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse can best be described as biography speed-dating.  Each “chapter” has two to three pages giving a broad overview of a particular inventor, his most important inventions, and how they were developed.  The book is also lavishly illustrated with historical documents and pictures, providing a window into the past.  I actually came away from this book feeling inspired; it gives you a sense that “if these normal people can come up with a great invention that changes the world, then so can I.”  You’ll pour over the pages and be astonished at every page turn.