Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Woman in Cabin 10

So many mystery stories, so little time.

Or, perhaps, too much time, and few well-written mystery stories.

Except for this one:  'The Woman in Cabin 10', written by the incomparable Ruth Ware. Her previous novel, 'In a Dark, Dark Wood' had such an incredible premise, and it left me feeling so claustrophobic, much like her new one.  Ware is a good writer, indeed. 

Imagine that you're at sea in a beautifully outfitted luxury cruise ship.  And imagine that you have an assignment for a travel magazine; to interview the owner of said ship and talk up the accommodations and staff.  The fabulous life on calm seas, with jovial guests, the best food, and sparkling, calm seas.

But then you've had a bit too much to drink, and while you're alone in your luxurious cabin, you hear the sound of a body being thrown overboard.  When you try to investigate, you find that everyone is accounted for.  The ship sails on as if nothing's happened.  However, what doesn't help the situation is the fact that you've been involved in a most unfortunate incident before you left for your assignment, an incident that left you feeling paranoid and scared.  

Laura Blacklock (better known as 'Lo') is given the chance of a lifetime and the opportunity to gain a promotion at the travel magazine for which she works, but when she knows, just knows that a body has been thrown in the ocean, no one believes her, and she feels as if her whole life is being questioned.
But she knows what she heard, and she's desperate to prove it.  

Ware's previous novel, 'In a Dark, Dark Wood' kept me guessing until the very end, and her new one is no different.  Just when I thought I knew what was really going on, she pulled me in another direction.  And the end wasn't what I imagined.  

The only bone I have to pick with this new one is with the protagonist.  As with most recent mysteries I've read, if it contains a female protagonist (case in point:  'The Girl on the Train'), she is usually addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Why?  Are those particular weaknesses supposed to provoke sympathy from the reader?  And is the reader supposed to think that because the protagonist is an addict, they are to naturally question the character's discoveries?  The answer is 'Yes'...but it's becoming a bit overplayed.

As I usually don't find such weaknesses employed with most male mystery characters, I'd like to read about a woman who knows her own mind, and can contribute more to the plot than the reason why she has to take anti-depressants or consume mass quantities of alcoholic drinks.  Sure, she can be questioned, but I want her to believe her discovery with every fiber of her beingwithout the impediment of drugs or alcohol.

Author Ruth Ware
Yes, I want a Superwoman.  Even a Wonder Woman.  But one that is down-to-earth.  

I want a character who will inspire me, who will make me cheer for them.

I certainly hope that the talented Ms. Ware's next female protagonist will rise above.  Like I said earlier, Ms. Ware is such a good writer.

Book Hog can't wait to read her next one.

'The Woman in Cabin 10', by Ruth Ware, and published by Scout Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is available at your local library and favorite bookstore.  Book Hog would like to thank Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to review and highly recommend this book!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Disappearance at Devil's Rock

Not long ago, I reviewed 'A Head Full of Ghosts', written by Paul Tremblay, and I really wasn't impressed.  Sorry, but the supernatural aspect of the story really didn't hit me. Stephen King loved it, though.  Gotta give him some credit for promoting a fellow horror writer.

But now, with Tremblay's new one, 'Disappearance at Devil's Rock', I grew very involved in the story, to the point that I had tears running down my face.  Any story about the loss of a child really really punches me in the gut.  

There are supernatural occurrences in this novel, too, but a bit more subtle.  One, however, was chilling, and the sense of fear permeating through the story made me turn the pages, but slowly because I dreaded learning the fate of Tommy, the missing boy.

Tremblay's characters are well-formed and you actually care about them. Elizabeth, the desperate mother, was someone to whom I could relate, and Kate, her pre-teen daughter, had a lot of angst brewing under the surface.  

Author Paul Tremblay
But it was Tommy who had a diary, Tommy who loved to draw, Tommy the lover of the video game, Minecraft, who grabbed me and didn't let me up for air.  Tommy who disappeared in the woods of the local state park, and his friends, Josh and Luis, who aren't telling the entire truth about what happened that night.  

When you learn the truth, you'll be stunned.  And perhaps you'll cry, as I did.  

But you'll pay extra attention to the shadow in the corner, and the pages on the floor.

'Disappearance at Devil's Rock' is available at your local library and favorite bookstore.  ISBN 978-0-06-236326-8

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Monster Calls

Having finished 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child', I was in the mood to read another book for independent readers (btw, I thought the HP book was....okay. I'm not big on reading plays; I much rather see them performed).

So, when I received the notice that a library book came in for me, I wasn't surprised to learn that it was a story for independent readers.  What was even more coincidental was that I had just watched the trailer of the film adaptation.

In October, I will head to the theater to watch 'A Monster Calls', especially now that I've read the story.  Hearing Liam Neeson's voice as the monster is a nice little nudge, too.

Author Patrick Ness has written a story (and the screenplay) based on an idea from the late children's writer Siobhan Dowd (her premature death from cancer kept her from writing the book). Funny, dark, and very, very moving, the story brought me to tears several times, and made me consider my own mortality.

Conor has been expecting the monster from his nightmare, the one he's had every night since his mother started chemo.  The nightmare with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

But this monster is different, and not the one from his nightmare.  It is ancient and wild. And it wants something that is difficult for Conor to give:  The truth.

This is a story of a young boy dealing with his mother's terminal illness, and the school bullies, and his dreaded grandmother.  It is also the story of a young boy who needs his father, but gets just a small part of a parent who lives far away.

His grandmother turned out to be a total surprise.  Her devotion to her daughter was truly heartfelt and made me cry (very familiar ground for me). But it was Conor who earned my sympathy; a young boy full of anger and sadness.  A very scared child.  

Unlike Conor's teachers, the monster does not coddle him.  It encourages Conor to release his anger so he can get to the truth he is reluctant to reveal.
Author Patrick Ness

The illustrations by Jim Kay are perfect; black and white, and phenomenal.  They lend a dark air to the story, up until the very end.

Patrick Ness, author of the 'Chaos Walking' series (and other fantastic novels), has done an incredible job with Dowd's last idea.  

He has certainly done it justice.

'A Monster Calls', by Patrick Ness, and published by Candlewick Press, is available at your local library and favorite bookstore. Book Hog suggests you purchase a big box of tissues, too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Man Called Ove

Even though I took some time off from reviewing, it doesn't mean I took time off from reading.  My 'Hold' list at the library just got longer and longer, thanks to those of you who sent me recommendations via social media and Goodreads.  Some of those books came in at once, so I did a great juggling act.

One of those books was mentioned everywhere, and after much anticipation, I finally got to read it. It was worth it, and I couldn't put it down.

'A Man Called Ove', by Fredrik Backman, was a delight from the first page to the last. Backman's deceptively simple story is packed with humor and sadness, and his great character, Ove, is the most curmudgeonly man I've ever met.  He might be a stereotypical 'grumpy old man', but he's surprisingly tender when you learn his backstory.  Ove lives simply, has staunch principles, certain routines, and a short fuse. He feels that the world is full of idiots, especially those who buy the wrong car.

A stray cat and new neighbors burst into his well-ordered life, bringing with them mayhem and hilarity.  They all have lessons to teach one another, and some of those lessons are heartbreaking.  One by one, other people enter Ove's world, giving his life more meaning.  Sometimes, experiences are forced upon him, and although he fights them, Ove finds a way to fix most anything.
Author Fredrik Backman

But the two people he has known the longest are the ones he soon sees in a different light: Rune, Ove's former friend, is the catalyst who helps bring the greatest 'disorder' to Ove's life. And Sonja, Ove's wife, provides the greatest inspiration.  

It's a good thing when one can find the perfect 'vacation book'. I think it's time I looked into his other stories.  

But if his other novels are as good as 'A Man Called Ove', I just might extend my time off.

'A Man Called Ove', written by Fredrik Backman, and published by Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster), is available at your local library and favorite bookstore.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Behind Closed Doors

Have you ever read a story that takes you by the hand and leads you into a horrible anxiety attack?  Or one that makes you panic every time you see a lock on a door?

I just did.  And it wasn't pleasant.  It was bad enough to drive me out of the house so I could take a walk and breathe fresh, clean air.

I'm not kidding.

'Behind Closed Doors', the first novel from B. A. Paris, took the air out of my lungs.

I could go on and on about her talent for creating memorable characters, and using short, tight paragraphs that make you jump. But I won't.

Paris brought terror right to my front door.

If you loved 'The Girl on the Train', or 'Gone Girl', this new one will really hit you.  For a first novel, Paris has written a riveting story that stunned me.  I had to put it down a few times, although it really only took me a day to read it.  

The narrator, Grace, is married to Jack Angel, a movie-star-handsome, wealthy attorney who champions the cause for abused women.  Grace, his perfect, elegant wife, has a down syndrome sister who she loves very much; in fact, Millie, will be living with Jack and Grace in a short while. But Grace learns that the man she's fallen in love with isn't who he seems.  Grace and Jack are never apart, and their friends are getting a bit miffed when Grace cancels lunch plans all the time.  Soon, Jack lets her in on a secret that could be her life's ruin.

But I'm not saying any more.

This is a story to experience.  One that will keep you turning the pages...but one that will make you set it down just so you can find some sort of mental stability.

It's brilliant, it's scary, and it's horrifying, and Grace is an incredible character. And so is Millie, who is more aware of things than Grace realizes.

It has stayed with me.  And I think it will be with me for quite a while.

B. A. Paris has found a new fan.

'Behind Closed Doors', by B. A. Paris, will be published on August 9, 2016 by St. Martin's Press. Movie rights have been sold.  Put it on your hold list at your local library, or pre-order it from your favorite book store.  You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Night Shift: Midnight Texas #3

I'm sure that most avid readers have to step away from stories that are so deep we have to run to our faithful dictionaries (I still have one in paperback; I'll never give it up, even though Google is much more convenient).  When a story gets a bit too deep for me (and somewhat confusing), I take a break and gravitate toward books that are entertaining, yet still pose a challenge (something any well-written story should do).  I crave stories that don't make my brain ache.

Yeah.  An aching brain.

In other words, I look for something fun to read.  Something that either makes me cry with happiness, makes my blood run cold, or makes me run screaming into the night (it's great if I experience all three).  If you're a serious reader, and one who dips into various genres, you know what I mean.  

One of my current favorite series is an interesting one written by Charlaine Harris, she of 'Sookie Stackhouse' fame (the t.v. show, 'True Blood' is based on that series). Her new books are about the very small town of Midnight, Texas, where strange, spooky things happen. Most of the citizens living in Midnight have supernatural ties, and as each book progresses, you learn just what those people can do.  They are powerful, and in the third book, 'Night Shift', they all join together to stop a huge threat to the town.  

Author Charlaine Harris
Harris has written many mystery series peopled by wonderful, well-written characters, and now she has added more to her stable. As with her 'Sookie' series, I grew so fond of the 'Midnight' citizens, especially the witch, Fiji.  The others are remarkable in their own right, but there's just something about the earthy Fiji that made me smile.

All of these books are great Summer reads, but the only thing that saddens me is that 'Night Shift' is supposed to be the last one in the series.  The most recent news states that NBC has ordered a pilot, so perhaps 'Midnight, Texas' will have a longer life in book form. 

I hope I'm right.

The 'Midnight, Texas' series ('Midnight Crossroad', 'Day Shift', and 'Night Shift'), written by Charlaine Harris, is published by Ace, an imprint of Penguin Random House.  You can find all of them at your local library or favorite bookstore.  ISBN 978-0-425-26322-8

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Lily and the Octopus

Back in July 2013, I posted a review of 'The Rosie Project', a book I absolutely adored. 

It's been a while since I've come across a story like that.  A story that doesn't ask a lot of my poor, frazzled brain; except to smile, nod my head, and laugh a little bit.  It became a book worth recommending, and I couldn't stop talking about it.

Now, much to my delight, I've found another such story. But this one tugged at my heart quite often.  There was a point, however, when I had to step away from it.  I knew what was coming, and I had to disengage myself for a short time. It brought back memories of my beloved Molly and the ones who came before her.

But 'Lily and the Octopus', written by Steven Rowley, is a novel that will also take you totally by surprise.  It's funny, it's thoughtful and sensitive, it's engaging.  Most of all, it's precious. Yes, precious.  Many reviewers consider it a cross between The Art of Racing in the Rain and The Life of Pi; both stories asked for a lot of emotional investment, and they were richer for it. 'Lily...' asks much the same.

It's about the little dance of love and forgiveness between a man and his beloved, aging dog, Lily.

I cannot say enough about it.  Honestly, I really can't say enough about it because I don't want to ruin it for you.  

When it comes out in June, please read it.  Recommend it to friends and family.  This wonderful story deserves to land in front of as many hearts-and-minds as possible.

Thank you, Steven Rowley, for hitting me in the gut with a story I won't soon forget.  

'Lily and the Octopus', by Steven Rowley, will be published in early June 2016 by Simon & Schuster.  Book Hog would like the thank the publisher for letting her read such a phenomenal story in advance of publication.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ink and Bone

I think I'm in love.

Not love in the romantic sense.  More like, I love this story.  I love this author (but not in a romantic sense, remember?).  I squeal with delight whenever I find that a beloved author has a new book coming out, and better yet, one that will be a great Summer read.

Spencer Quinn's 'Chet & Bernie' books. Anything by 'Little Stevie' King.  David Mitchell (his latest, 'Slade House', is the creepiest, weirdest story I've ever read).  Kate Morton. Charlaine Harris.  Neil Gaiman.  I could name more, but for now, I want to concentrate on Lisa Unger.

Yes, Lisa Unger.  Lisa Unger, the phenomenal author of stories that are a combination of horror and thriller.  Yes, there is a difference.  And Unger has a gift for bringing them together in a way that works very well.

Finley, the young psychic in her newest novel, 'Ink and Bone', finds that her gift is becoming too big for her to handle, so she runs to her grandmother, Eloise, a well-known psychic who assists the local detective, Jones Cooper, in investigations in The Hollows, New York.  Finley's lover and tattoo artist, Rainer, follows her there, and although she isn't pleased about it, she's quietly grateful that he did.  

Drawn into the case where a little girl went missing while she and her family were on vacation in The Hollows, Finley works with Cooper, and finds that the voices in her head are stronger than ever.  It is up to her to locate the little girl and find closure for the dead who are drawn to her.

But just when you think you know what's around the corner, or how the story will end, Unger throws us for a loop.  Things aren't always what they seem, and in this story, nothing could be truer.  
Author Lisa Unger

If you love a good thriller, especially one mixed with some good horror, read 'Ink and Blood'.

And the little twist near the end will take you by surprise.

'Ink and Bone', written by Lisa Unger, will be published in June 2016, by Touchstone, a division of Simon & Schuster.  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Every Heart a Doorway

I think that many of us have a secret fantasy world.

Some have a 'Fifty Shades of Gray'-type thing going on.  But most of my friends and family have Hogwarts, Narnia, Wonderland...  The list of fantasy worlds may be endless, but there are some who are creating new worlds right now.

The Syfy channel is currently ending the first season run of 'The Magicians', the first book in Lev Grossman's phenomenal trilogy.  It's dark, it's very adult, and it's rather amazing.  In my opinion, the series is like a cross between Harry Potter, Narnia, and Less Than Zero.

However, I like my fantasy worlds to be a bit lighter in tone.  I prefer a bit of humor, a bit of fantastical magic, a bit of humanity.  If I had the choice, I'd be in Hogwarts.  
But what happens when one leaves their chosen fantasy world?  That is addressed in Seanan McGuire's new novel, 'Every Heart a Doorway'.  I waited for it for what seemed like forever, and once I got it home, I finished it in two hours; no lie.  I loved it. even has a chart based on McGuire's types of fantasy worlds; 'Logical', 'Netherworld', 'Nonsense', etc.  

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions---slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe.  Or a suitcase with a stairway. Even down a rabbit hole.

But what happens after the children are sent back to the 'real world'?  The children attending 'Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children' know all too well.  Each of them are seeking a way back into their magical worlds...even Miss West.  

Something dark, however, is threatening the school.  After tragedy occurs, the newest student, Nancy, and her new-found friends must get to the heart of the matter.

I love the characters.  So finely-drawn, so memorable.  Some shine, some are so dark.  But it is Nancy, the girl who went to the Halls of the Dead, who I remember most.  The girl who can stand as still as a statue.  The girl who is given the chance to make sure she wants to stay in the Halls of the Dead forever.  McGuire has given us a character who is meant for another time and place, yet is a fish-out-of-water in our reality.  She's a girl on the brink of womanhood, and more courageous than she realizes.

Author Seanan McGuire

Yes, it's a dark tale, and your heart will break while reading about children who had found their true happiness, but had it wrenched away. Although it's only about 169 pages long, it's a well-written tale about discovery, tragedy, and yearning.  

An excellent fable for our time.

'Every Heart a Doorway', written by Seanan McGuire, and published by Tom Doherty Assoc. (Tor Books), is available at your local library and favorite bookstore.  ISBN 978-0-7653-8550-5

Saturday, April 9, 2016

'The Passenger'

A few years ago, while happily reading the first book in Lisa Lutz's wonderful 'Spellman' mystery series, I became hooked on the witty, sarcastic dialogue, and the great character interactions. "What a strange family," I thought.  "I want to be them".  I still wish I could meet the narrator, Isabell Spellman.  To this day, I can't say enough about the series; it's still a point-of-pride knowing that I introduced many friends and customers to the books.

And now I can't say enough about Lisa Lutz's new book, 'The Passenger'.

But this isn't 'The Spellmans'.  It's dead serious, dear reader; 'dead' being the key word.

It's so good that I read it in one sitting; on the sofa, not caring what time it was.  It pulled me in and wouldn't let me go. Sure...that statement may be a total cliché, but it's true in this case.

Each chapter is headed by each name used by the woman-on-the-run protagonist, Tanya Dubois.

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband's body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair, and flees town.  And it's not the first time.

On the road, she meets Blue, a woman who recognizes the haunted look in Tanya's eyes.  They form an uneasy, yet necessary, alliance.  But who is Blue? A kindred spirit?  Or someone with nefarious designs?

There are so many twists-and-turns in this story, and if you're paying attention, you'll enjoy the ride.  Lutz has a gift for creating characters you want to explore, but they are soon left behind, and for that, you feel very sad.

The story runs at an amazing pace, yet along the way, I found myself learning more about her backstory (and her clever ways of obtaining identifications); the hair colors and cuts were firmly set in my mind, giving me a solid picture of each of her aliases.

So much of the story is breathtaking, chancy, she'sonthevergeofgettingcaught. She works hard to find places in which to hide, and you long for her to obtain some freedom, if only for a little while.  It's heartbreaking when she has to leave everything behind as she makes yet another getaway.
Author Lisa Lutz

But when she decides to go back home to 'face the music', that's when the answers are revealed.  The pieces come together as you finally learn why she's on the run, and you meet the characters who were only hinted at in previous chapters.  It all comes down to secrets being exposed...and then the surprise ending.  

And that was totally worth it.

I'm happy that Lisa Lutz has given us the gift of another fine creation.

I can't say enough.

'The Passenger', written by Lisa Lutz (author of the incredible 'Spellman' series) is now available at your favorite bookstore and local library.  Book Hog would like to thank Simon & Schuster for the chance to read this pre-publication! 

Saturday, March 12, 2016


It's not often that I find a story that truly stays with me; a story full of tenderness and a feeling of frustration.

I find that story in my real life.  I am not a 'young one'.  I'm heading into my sixties, a time I wish to warn the young ones about.  A time that lends me frustration with my partner; my love.  He does things that really, really piss me off.

I've learned that it really doesn't matter what gender or persuasion that I cling to.  I'm heterosexual, and my husband makes me crazy.  Really, really crazy. When you're a 'caretaker', life takes a more than casual spin.

He makes me as crazy as the partner, Frank, in the fantastic new novel, 'Hide', written by Matthew Griffin.  I love this story because I can truly relate to it.  No matter the gender, no matter the orientation.  We are merely humans, first, aren't we?

I can relate to Wendell, Frank's partner.  And I find that love is love.

Wendell and Frank meet at the end of World War II, when Frank returns home to their North Carolina town. Soon he's loitering around Wendell's taxidermy shop, and the two come to understand their connection as love-a love that, in this time and place, can hold real danger. 

Cutting nearly all ties with the rest of the world, they make a home for themselves on the outskirts of town, a string of beloved dogs for company. Wendell cooks, Frank cares for the yard, and together they enjoy the vicarious drama of courtroom TV.
But when Wendell finds Frank lying outside among their tomatoes at the age of eighty-three, he feels a new threat to their careful self-reliance. As Frank's physical strength and his memory deteriorate, the two of them must fully confront the sacrifices they've made for each other-and the impending loss of the life they've built.

I cried throughout this tender love story.  It is written so well, and the characters could almost be anyone I know (you know who you are...).  Except for the fact that they must hide their love.  It made me mad.

It pissed me off, actually.

Author Matthew Griffin
There is, however, one passage that totally surprised me, but I will not divulge it.  Let's just say that I didn't see it coming.  I cried like a baby, and for that, I'm a bit upset at the author. I loved the small character of Daisy. Let's not see that in your second brilliant novel, okay?

If you love love, no matter what.  If you don't care what the world thinks.  If love is love, in your world.

Read this.  Love should never have to hide.

It must be shown to the world.  Thank you, Mr. Griffin. Book Hog loves 'Hide'.

'Hide', written by Matthew Griffin, can be found in your local library and favorite bookstore.  Book Hog loves it, and so will you!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

'The Immortals'

Mythology has always interested me.  Be it in a comic/graphic novel universe, an ancient civilization, or even a children's book series.  Not all of it centers around religion.

But the book I just finished does center around religion, albeit an ancient one.

'The Immortals', a new book written by Jordanna Max Brodsky, takes ancient Greek mythology and turns it on it's ear.  It's the first in a series, and after experiencing great satisfaction in reading it, I'm anxious for more.

The city sleeps as Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson river. She enjoys her solitary existence; she doesn't have friends, and she doesn't speak to her family.  Most of of them are simply too dangerous.

During her walk, she finds the body of a young woman that has been gruesomely mutilated and wearing a laurel wreath. Selene's ancient rage arises, and so does the memory of a promise she made long ago---when her name was Artemis.

This book was recommended to me, and once I held it in my hands, I wasn't sure if I had the time to do my customary 'plopping down on the sofa' and devoting a couple of hours to the story. 

But I did.  And I was pleasantly surprised.  Brodsky is a good writer; she keeps up the frenetic pace, and really knows her Greek mythology.  The story is set in our time, and Greek gods and semi-gods are walking the earth, no longer important idols.  As the centuries pass and civilization forgets about them, their powers lessen, while their anger grows.

As most scholars (and fans) of Greek mythology know, Artemis was the Huntress, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the daughter of Zeus and Leto. But in this story, Selene-Artemis is given a chance to narrate her own life. She chose chastity, but fell in love with Orion.  She was the goddess of the natural environment, yet lived in the city where she spent the last of her days.

Author Jordanna Max Brodsky
At first, I didn't have much sympathy for her (Artemis was a rather aloof goddess), but when I learned that her current passion for helping women in distress was her life choice, I grew to respect her.  After a slow start, the story began to move, and with it, more characters were introduced.  Theo Schultz, a professor of mythology, comes into her orbit; Helen, the murdered woman was once his lover and a colleague.  As the story progresses, Theo and Selene set off to find Helen's murderer, and in doing so, discover that an ancient ceremony is taking place, one which offers up human sacrifices. 

Jordanna Brodsky 'knows her stuff', and it's a wonderful education for the reader.  

But, most of all, it's so damned interesting.


'The Immortals', first in the 'Olympus Bound' series by Jordanna Max Brodsky, is available at your local library and favorite bookstore. 
ISBN 9780316347181

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I should know better than to read stories about animals.

They reach in and tear out my heart, even if the story is fiction.

One that comes to mind is 'Pax', the story of a little fox and his boy, written by the wonderful children's author, Sara Pennypacker.

You see, the problem I have with animal stories is that the animal usually dies, and I cannot handle the grief.  I end up on the couch, crying my stupid eyes out, while my cats circle me and wonder when I'm going to feed them.  Every time I'm in a bookstore, or the library, and find an animal book, I always ask if the animal dies.  Most know better than to tell me.

'Pax' is a wonderful story about, as I said before, a little fox and his human boy.  The boy saved the fox when it was just a kit, and it lived with Peter and his father.  It had no taste for the wild, aside from various animals milling about the yard while Pax was in his cage.

But when Peter's father enlists in the military, he makes Peter return Pax to the wild.  Although Peter ends up living with his grandfather, who lives 300 miles away, he strikes out on his own to find his beloved companion.

While Peter continues on his journey back home, Pax keeps a look-out for his boy, and finds adventures of his own.
Author Sara Pennypacker

This is such a gently-written story, so full of love and compassion.  Peter and Pax make a remarkable pair, although they are separated for most of the story.  But the 'not knowing' hit me hard; I wanted to read ahead, but the story deserved my fullest attention.  It is very compelling and full of suspense.  

Writing a children's story is hard work, and much care goes into it.  There are lessons to be taught, and lessons that are learned.

And, in this case, tears that are shed for a story that will be cherished for generations to come.

'Pax', written by Sara Pennypacker, is available at your local library and favorite bookstore.  ISBN 9780062377012.  Ms. Pennypacker is the award-winning author of the 'Flat Stanley'  and 'Clementine' series, along with many other stories for children.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

'The Little Paris Bookshop'

It's not often that stories can make me cry.  Tears of joy, tears of terror, tears of sadness. How about tears of familiarity? 

People have been recommending the book, 'The Little Paris Bookshop', for a while now, and once I put it on my 'hold' list at the library, I had to wait a good while for it.

Once I got the notice that it was waiting for me, I ran down that day and picked it up.  It was a story that I won't forget anytime soon.

It is at once a gentle, yet passionate, tale of a Parisian man who is drowning in memories of his lost love.  Before she took off, she left a letter, but her lover couldn't bring himself to read it.

But, twenty years later, he rediscovered it and read it, which led to the journey of a lifetime.

I realized from the very first paragraph that author Nina George is an extremely talented writer.  She pulled my heartstrings.  She made me cry.  She made me concentrate on lifelong regrets, and guided me toward a reconciliation of what I had done, and what I was too fearful to try.

This is a deep book, folks.  It's not a pretty romance.  It's not a 'bromance', either (two men accompany him, and they each have their own reasons for the journey)  It's a journey of enlightenment; a journey to find things lost and delight in things found.  Her characters touched me deeply.

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary.  From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. But the only person he cannot heal is himself.  He's still haunted by the heartbreak after his great love disappeared.  She left him with a letter that he has never opened.

Author Nina George

After finally reading the letter, he lifts anchor and travels to the south of France, hoping to discover the end of the story.  Joined by a young bestselling, but blocked, author, and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu goes on a journey to heal his soul.

I cannot recommend this novel enough.  It is warm, full of wisdom, and has a few surprises. And, yes, it is romantic.

What do you expect from a story set in a floating bookstore (with two cats!) on a river in France?

'The Little Paris Bookshop', by Nina George, is available at your local library or favorite bookstore.  ISBN 9780553418774 Published by Crown Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House.

Monday, January 4, 2016


There comes a time when all good things must come to an end.  And it's especially difficult if the 'good things' are book series.

As with so many, grief strikes when I read that last page.  I still want more Harry Potter books.  I crave to read more about the Magicians.

Last night, I finished Marissa Meyers' 'Winter', the last Young Adult book in her wonderful 'Lunar Chronicles' series.  But this time, I wasn't grief-stricken.  The whole ending was tied up with a neat little bow, and I felt satisfied with it.  I no longer have to bite my nails to the quick while waiting for the latest installment.    

But that doesn't mean I won't be anxious to read her future stories.  Meyers is a good writer; she's clever, creates full-bodied characters, and knows how to keep the tension alive.  Plus, I absolutely loved/hated Queen Levana.  What a realistic bitch!

If you've been keeping up with my reviews on this series, you know that I love fairy tales. They were a big part of my childhood.  And they still are.

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Levana thinks that Winter is a little weakling, but appearances deceive.  Before she knows it, Winter and her love, Jacin, are involved in an elaborate plan to lead a rebellion against the Queen.  Together with Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, and her other allies, they are determined to win a war that's been going on way too long.

Thanks, Marissa Meyer, for the wonderful series.  It was a great way to end the old year, and begin the new one.

'Winter', the last book in Marissa Meyers' 'Lunar Chronicles' series, is available at your local library and favorite bookstore.  The series is published by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan books.  
ISBN 978-0-312-64298-3