Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Daybreak by Shelley Shepard Gray

Working in a retirement home Viola becomes friends with an elderly resident who loves to read letters from his son, Edward. A missionary in Nicaragua, Edward doesn't visit often and Viola feels he shouldn't live so far away; this is not the Amish way of taking care of family. When Edward does return she realizes that her criticisms are unfounded. Turmoil in her heart over her feelings for this man mix with trials at home with her grandparent's secrets and her father's secrets too.  Viola's grandmother has always been highly critical of her children which has caused many hurt feelings and climax when her secret is found out. How will this family deal with the secrets and how will Edward's future in the missionary field affect Viola? I enjoyed the likable characters in this novel and how they find solutions to their problems.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is best known for her bestselling series The Lunar Chronicles. I have never read that series. Meyer has also published Renegades; this I HAVE read and I was thoroughly entertained. Be warned however - Renegades is just the first in a continuing series, of which, volume two will be out this November.
This first volume deals with the rise of the Renegades and the society they have helped develop. The world had been swept up in the Age of Anarchy, where crime and all things evil run rampant. The Renegades are a collection of people with special powers that have banded together to overcome the Anarchists and bring society back to its feet. The Anarchists have been defeated, but they have not been wiped-out. In the shadows lurk many Anarchists waiting for a chance to get even with the Renegades.
Nova is an Anarchist whose family was murdered during the Age of Anarchy. She was raised by an uncle who was an Anarchist leader and eventually defeated by the Renegades. She has sworn to take her revenge on them. The best way to do this is to go undercover and join the Renegades, hoping to learn enough so she and her fellow Anarchists can bring an end to them. Much of the book deals with Nova's life among both side of this conflict - her identity as an Anarchist is Nightmare while she is known to the Renegades as Insomnia.
I think Meyer does a nice job of developing and working with the main characters. You learn their past and get inside their heads to see how they function in present day. Renegades has plenty of action, mystery, and a couple of plot/character twists that will have you impatiently waiting for part two to come out this fall.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow

Gertie is a strong, self-reliant wife and mother living comfortably in Kentucky at the start of World War II.  When her husband moves the family to Detroit seeking higher wages, Gertie is thrust into an unfamiliar and difficult new reality. How she copes and holds her family together is a beautiful, though heart-breaking, story.  This is one of my favorite books of all time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky

Judith Schalansky has turned her lifelong interest in maps, atlases, and geography into a quick-read book about fifty of the remotest (and often most useless) islands on Earth.  Dancing just this side of tongue-in-cheek, the author describes islands whose descendants can trace directly back to the HMS Bounty mutineers, islands whose only purpose is for radio communications, islands so impossible to land on that they were discovered but not occupied until the late 20th century, and islands with deep and complex mysteries that have yet to be solved.  Don’t let the text fool you however, as all of it is impeccably researched. The story is accompanied by beautiful, full-color maps of each island, and statistical data about each island such as the land area and population.  For the armchair traveler in all of us, this one goes quickly but is an excellent read.  Recommendation: A great non-fiction read.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

The Ensemble centers around four friends forming the Van Ness Quartet.  The leader is first violinist Jana, Brit is the second violinist, Daniel plays the cello and Henry is the violinist prodigy.  Each chapter alternates from the individual perspectives of the members of the string quartet.  Through the years as each member grows and changes from success and disappointment, their friendship remains bonded by their love of music and commitment to the quartet.  It is a good summer read!

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman

    My book pick this time reads like someone's personal nature journal. It is filled with hand drawings and handwritten notes about everything in the natural world. From moon phases to the layers of the earth, plants and animals, trees and mushrooms, leaves and insects, to mountains and rivers and sea sides. Just a lovely book of all things earth.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

DiCamillo crafts a heart-warming tale of Flora, a skeptical young girl who rescues a hapless squirrel after he is accidentally sucked up by a runaway vacuum cleaner, aptly named Ulysses 2000X.  Flora resuscitates the squirrel only to discover he has acquired special powers! Intrigued, she names him Ulysses and takes him home with her, carefully sneaking by her mother who is busy working on her latest romance novel.  During the night, Ulysses sneaks downstairs for a snack (because squirrels are ALWAYS hungry) and discovers a typewriter on the kitchen table.  Slowly he taps on the letters and discovers he has yet another special power!  To find out more, check out this fast-paced Newberry Medal winner, full of quirky characters you won’t soon forget.  You won’t be disappointed!