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Wednesday, October 21
"Books in The Deadwood Mystery Series by Ann Charles are a lot of fun. Violet Parker is relatively new to Deadwood and she is trying desperately to prove she can sell real estate in order to support herself and her two children. Meanwhile one of her co-workers is trying to get her fired, girls who look like her daughter are going missing, and some of her clients seem suspicious.  Although she would tell you that she doesn’t believe in ghosts, Violet finds herself mixed up in some pretty spooky stuff. Will Violet Parker survive her encounters with Deadwood’s residents both living and dead, or will she join the town’s Dearly Departed?"

Wednesday, October 14
"This book is slightly similar to The Hobbit, if it was a romantic comedy with a lot of family drama. Read this book for a good laugh with lots of fighting and fantasy. The main character's family is definitely not your normal bunch. Add in some family betrayals along with some almost deaths and you have a good story for drama lovers. The main female character has big shoulders, is very strong, and a blacksmith. She is not someone you want to mess with. Everyone’s gotta have a crazy uncle as well. Crazy Uncle Archibald is not safe to be around but amuses me very much. A caution to all do not throw rocks at dangerous creatures. Read the book and you will understand. There is also horrible singing with lots of alcohol and that amuses me too. Be aware there is a mature romantic literary scene, skip pages if you would like."

Wednesday, October 7
"This is the story of a marriage and family, with alternating chapters told from the point of view of Celeste, Roy and Andre. I’m glad I listened to about half and read half; listening gave me more of a feel for the Southern characters, who are from Georgia and Louisiana. Celeste and Roy have only been married a year and a half when, while visiting Roy’s parents in Enoe, LA, he is arrested and incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. The book examines the devastating effects Roy’s incarceration has on his marriage and family members. There is much food for thought throughout the book—what would I do in any of the character’s shoes? Would any of their choices, decisions, dilemmas, etc. even be mine, with my white privilege? The book is not all heavy-handed in this regard; perhaps I’m more aware because of the Black Lives Matter movement."

Wednesday, September 30
"The Look-Alike is a terrific psychological thriller with a little romance thrown in. The Look-Alike takes you on a ride of 'who did it' full of danger and suspense. 

As a college student, Sienna accidentally stumbled upon a dead body on campus. It’s only when she realizes that she and the dead girl were wearing the same jacket that she begins to wonder if she had been the actual intended target. When she mentions this to her parents she is sent to live in London with her grandmother. 

Ten years later, Sienna decides to come back home and stay. What ends up happening is Sienna seems to be the target of someone, reopening her fears that she was actually the intended victim. Was it really her that the person was after? Or is she becoming her mother and developing a mental illness she has kept hidden through the years? She begins her own investigation into the truth. Scared and confused, she turns to those who knew her then as well as some she has recently met. But are they protectors or killers? How does she know? Or is she just being paranoid…like her mother!

Erica Spindler keeps you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what will happen next. She truly did not disappoint. I loved the ending--wasn't sure how she was going to tie it all together, but she did so magnificently."

Wednesday, September 23
"This book is considered Fantasy and Young Adult Fiction. It is 'commoners versus the elite'. What makes them different is their blood -- red blood and silver blood. The silver-blooded elite have superhuman abilities. The red-blooded serve the elite knowing they will never be strong enough to defeat those with superior blood. Mare throws everything everyone ever knew to the wind. She is a red blood who somehow has silver blood abilities. Obviously this should be impossible and the silver bloods see Mare as a threat. The elite hide that she is a red blood and silence her as best they can. If the red bloods ever found out that the silver bloods were not the only ones capable of these superhuman abilities there might just be a rebellion."

Wednesday, September 16
"This book is one that I heard about while participating in a webinar. It has the alternate title Lullaby.  It was one of the 10 best books of the year, as reported by the NY Times. I really couldn't put it down. The Perfect Nanny is a compulsive, riveting, bravely observed exploration of power, class, race, domesticity, motherhood, and madness. The nanny, Louise, slides into this couple's lives, taking care of their two children. She takes over their lives and creates jealousy and  resentment, which shatters their perfect family."

Wednesday, September 9
"This is a fictional story of the real life Pack Horse Library Project librarians who served eastern Kentucky and Appalachia during the Great Depression. I had just finished The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes about the same topic but this book is a lot grittier, showcasing the abject poverty of the people living in the hollers. The topic of racism is also laid bare and I had never heard of “blue” people—a real condition called methemoglobinemia. The author, a Kentuckian, knows whereof she speaks, and extensively researched this book which in many cases, was a tough read. However, the harsh beauty of the land and the resiliency of its people shines through, not to mention how great the librarians are (ok, I’m  a little biased!). Bringing knowledge to and connecting with people is just as important today as it was then, whether inside a building, via mule or horseback, or in our present “remote” state, via internet!"

Wednesday, September 2
"The Girl on the Train is perfect for those who love psychological thrillers and suspense. This novel is told through a perfect balance of multi-perspective chapters that take place both in the past and present. You will think that you know who the good and bad characters are until new information comes to light and all of a sudden you find yourself taking on a new perspective. Unlike some other books that wait for character development to begin before the suspense begins, this novel drops you right into the suspense from the very beginning. It is a quick read, simply for the fact that you won't be able to put the book down!"

Wednesday, August 26
"This book was so popular a few years ago that I thought I’d try listening to it, knowing nothing of the plot. At first I thought, “this is my kind of book—an Irish-Catholic family story (two, actually, after divorce) with some dysfunction thrown in.” Unfortunately, I really had a hard time keeping track of everyone; each chapter jumped to a new character and/or setting and I thought the narrator was rushing through the whole book, which also seemed to end abruptly. I may have liked this more if I had read it, as the individual character’s stories were interesting. It was a bit of puzzle, however, piecing them together."

Wednesday, August 19
"This is historical fiction (audiobook narrated by Winona Cole), in which an orphaned Lakota girl was taken in by two Union soldiers after the Civil War. John Cole and Thomas McNulty eke out a living in west Tennessee on Elijah Lige’s farm, along with a black woman, Rosalee, and her brother, Tennyson Bouguereau. Anti-Indian and Black racial tensions run high and both Winona and Tennyson suffer brutal attacks. I read most of the book and listened to the very end, although Winona’s “voice” didn’t match what I perceived it to be. Barry’s language is simple and regional, yet the sparse and lyrical prose manages to convey the love and respect shared by the unlikely household."

Wednesday, August 12
"This was such a dark, disturbing, yet riveting read I don’t know where to begin! The first person narrative tells the story of 15-year-old Vanessa’s love affair with her 42-year-old teacher, Jacob Strane, at a private boarding school in Maine. Apparently the novel was 18 years in the making (long before the #MeToo movement) and the author begins with a disclaimer that it is NOT autobiographical. This is such an engrossing, in-depth psychological study and so uncomfortable to read, like barreling towards a train wreck yet unable to look away, (or stop reading, in this case!). So many factors are intimately explored that I found myself questioning everything! Especially during these incredibly divisive times we’re living in, this book was a reminder that everything is not always as it seems; we are so quick to judge and label without even trying to understand complex issues. Highly recommended."

Thursday, August 6
"This is gripping and harrowing historical fiction, told from the point of view of Christine, who lives in a small German village during WWII. Based largely from stories of the author’s own family, many of the events described really happened. Obviously, this was a tough read, describing the fear, hunger and brutality so many experienced at the hands of the Nazis, including the horrors of  Dachau.This novel explores the cost of war on its civilian population; many German citizens did not support Hitler or his policies which devastated his own country and its people in many ways."

Wednesday, July 29
"Marguerite’s parents are both brilliant scientists who have invented the firebird, a device that can transport its wearer to a parallel dimension and their consciousness into their other self’s body. When Marguerite’s father is killed, she and one of her father’s assistants, Theo, suspect the other assistant, Paul. Paul has conveniently taken a firebird and used it. Theo and Marguerite travel to other dimensions to track down Paul and bring him to justice. However, what they find is less clean-cut and much more sinister. Their travels bring them to a world in which Marguerite is in Czarist Russia and a world where they navigate a futuristic London. In the second and third books, Marguerite, Theo, and Paul travel between dimensions in order to carry out tasks that are vital to avert the imminent peril they are in. Not much more can be said without spoiling the many twists and turns in this series!

Overall, I really enjoyed this series. It was fast-paced, full of action, with a touch of sci-fi/fantasy and a bit of romance! I love the concept of parallel dimensions, and while the author didn’t go too in depth with scientific explanations, I was able to suspend my disbelief amid the adventures. I’d recommend this to fans of the Dark Stars duology by Danielle Rollins, or the Last Reality trilogy by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller."

Wednesday, July 22
"This is book 6 in Janet Evonovich's Fox and O'Hare Series thrillers. Nick O'Hare is a crook but has been recruited by the FBI instead of being locked up to help them solve crimes. He is monitored by Agent Kate who originally caught him. There is sizzling chemistry between the two of them.

It is a fun story with funny characters and it takes place in the mountains of Hawaii and New Zealand. A fun read!"

Wednesday, July 15
"This was the first book I’ve read by this author and what a treat! Murder! Ghosts! Bogs!  Graveyards! Dark, atmospheric and suspenseful, this is a whodunit that will keep you guessing till the end. All starts out well with a wedding on a remote island off Ireland but …as each chapter, told from a different guest’s perspective, reveals, all is NOT well! Everyone has a secret past and the stories become more entwined in a very believable way until the end. Great plot and setting."

Wednesday, July 8
"The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey is set in a world that resembles Germany between the World Wars, but with a few exceptions. Companies have begun genetically engineering robotic creatures called chimeras or “maras” to serve as pets, workers, and soldiers. While the photography is shoddy and phones are rare, there are plasma guns and other advanced technology. The main character, Largo, is a drug addicted bike courier with a girlfriend Remi who is a stage actress. There are kidnappings, conspiracies, spies, and danger, all in a steampunk/noir style setting. While I liked the characters, the setting was hard for me to negotiate in my mind. I pictured a shady, damp, dirty city. But how can there be robots and other advanced tech without a widespread communication system? If you can suspend your disbelief, it is an enjoyable read. 

I’d recommend this book to fans of Red Rising by Pierce Brown and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, which was made into the film Blade Runner."

Wednesday, July 1
"This book is considered Young Adult Fiction and Fantasy. I am going to review rather than recommend this book. The story was decent but it was predictable on the topic corruption of power and how greed for power can lead to losing yourself. There are multiple gods in this book which for me is not something I believe in so it was less relatable as a reader. Those who do believe in multiple gods may find that the story is better for them. The book was also predictable in the storyline where the main male love interest manipulates the female main character to get what he wants. He supposedly truly falls in love with her but it is not enough to save him or her from the power he craves to have the world the way he wants. The ending was sad and dark but not surprising. The author really hinted at what the ending would be for a good portion of the book with the inner dialogue of the main female character. It seems like the book is trying to say in its fiction world that power without the relationship or construct of the multiple gods destroys humans. As someone who reads books more than once I would probably not read this again."

Wednesday, June 24
"I'm sorry to say that this is not an audiobook that I would not recommend. The story starts out as a fast paced chilly thriller. The main character Erin, narrates the story in which she is slow and drones on and on. You have to really suspend belief to get through it, I finished it but was highly disappointed as the events were so implausible and too coincidental. This is a big fat no--skip this!"

Wednesday, June 17
"I really wanted to like this book -- which is sort of sci-fi, is about a pandemic, and has very good reviews. Unfortunately, I found the timeline and plot kind of confusing but maybe that’s because I’m a linear thinker. The book starts just before the pandemic hits and alternates with events which occur 20 years after. Some of the plot elements are reminiscent of The Walking Dead, which I am a fan of, but honestly, I just didn’t care too much about the characters or the intersecting plot lines…perhaps I’ve been in quarantine too long!"

Wednesday, June 10
"Funny, You Don't Look Autistic is an #OwnVoices memoir that shows us the life of Michael McCreary, through his eyes. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at a young age, Michael struggled to understand himself and others. Discovering that he loved to perform in front of an audience, he worked to become a talented stand up comic. This memoir is touching, relatable, and funny all at once. I really enjoyed listening to Michael describe awkward interactions when he was in school and how he stood up to bullies in defense of himself and others. Appealing to both teens and adults, I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys memoirs, autobiographies, or anyone looking for a good chuckle."

Wednesday, June 3
"Thomas has recently died. When an angel came to take him to the afterlife, it was discovered that he was to spend another 90 days on Earth because he was lacking a sufficient “exit narrative”. During these 90 days on Earth he is not to do anything that will form any bonds or incur regrets. Everything is going relatively well until he meets Rachel, a Brooklyn librarian. This is their bittersweet love story. 

I’d consider this to be surrealist fiction, as it bridges reality and imagination. I enjoyed the storyline as well as Amy Bonnaffons’s writing style. If you like this book, check out her collection of short stories, The Wrong Heaven. I’d recommend this to fans of Haruki Murakami and Julia Elliott."

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
"The cover does not do the story justice. This book is absolutely hysterical with ridiculous situations that will leave you laughing out loud. A feel good read that covers the wild meetings between an Italian family and Southern family. Both sides have a great love for God even if the denominations are a little different. A clean book that will encourage anyone struggling with hope."

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
"This book is a twisty "whodunit" thriller. A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway, but when the ice storm hits, no one is getting away. This book caught my attention with its twist and turns--who I thought was the killer, turned out not to be. A great read!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
"Touched by the Sun (2019) is a memoir written by Carly Simon recalling her friendship with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The women became acquainted on Martha's Vineyard where they both had homes. This book provides some surprising insights into the personal lives of both famous women. For instance, the prolonged anguish of Mrs. Onassis' witnessing the assassination of her first husband, President John F. Kennedy. The despair Carly Simon felt for her failed marriage to James Taylor. All of these events, and more, both women shared with each other and provided a bond between them. Because Ms. Simon knew Mrs. Onassis in the last years of her life, there are details of her illness and death which are related as well. However, there are many happy times shared in this memoir, which reads more like gossip about the "rich and famous" ; i.e. any two girlfriends going to parties, movies and lunch together too. If the reader has any interest in either one of these women, you will not be disappointed. Ms. Simon is a fine writer. I recommend this book."

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
"Machines Like Me is written by Ian McEwan, known for Atonement, Nutshell, The Children Act, and many others. Taking place in a technologically advanced alternate 1982 London, Charlie purchases a state of the art artificial human, named Adam. Charlie's partner, Miranda, and him design Adam's personality traits and thereby have a unique bond with him. Over time, they become close with Adam, and a love triangle emerges. Machines Like Me investigates what it means to be human, both in the face of convincing artificial intelligence, and how it applies to interpersonal relationships. 

While Machines Like Me contains aspects that are commonly occurring in science fiction, it reads like literary fiction because it is more character-focused. I'd recommend this to fans of Ian McEwan's other works, as well as fans of Ted Chiang, Jeff VanderMeer, and Louise Erdrich."