Welcome to the April 2014 of WRT’s What’s Coming Up. Someday soon I hope to be caught up. But for now…
Details the plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln in Baltimor while he was en route to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration in February 1861. Profiles Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and widow Kate Warne, America’s first female private investigator. Some violence. 2013.
The New York Times called The Hour of Peril “swift and detailed” but neglects to tell us how many stars it’s worth! Overall though, it’s clear that the reviewer enjoys this non-fiction account of Lincoln and Pinkerton’s story. The Barnes & Noble site features several reviews, but the overview, provided by bestselling suspense writer, Harlan Coben, calls the book “…history that reads like a race-against-the-clock thriller.” Overall B&N readers and reviewers have given The Hour of Peril 4 out of 5 stars and note that the book has received several honors in 2013 and 2014 for notable non-fiction and tru-crime. Overall the Goodreads readers have given the book 3.67 out of 5 stars. They love it just like everyone, were surprised by the swift way the book reads, and only a few found the details daunting.
In 1955 London newlywed Grace Munroe learns that her husband cheated on her and that she has inherited a fortune from an unknown Parisian woman. Grace travels to France to investigate her relationship to her deceased benefactor, Eva d’Orsey, and asserts her newfound independence. 2013.
The Goodreads readers REALLY love The Perfume Collector and show that devotion with 3.95 out of 5 stars. They’ve read it in audio and print and they feel like it transcends both media. They call it a great story of love and loss and an interesting picture of 1920’s Europe. They do say, however, that it was horribly edited—lots of grammatical and word use errors in the print book which make me curious about the NLS narrator’s handling of these problems…it will be interesting to see what our readers think. Publishers Weekly used words such as “contrived banter,” “mildly clichéd,” and calls the main character’s love interest choice predicable. PW neglects to give any kind of star rating which begs the question, “How will we know what to think about what you think if you don’t use stars?” I’m going out on a limb though to say that PW wasn’t all that wild about The Perfume Collector. The Historical Novel Society found the story “enticing” and says that it’s a “refreshing read that combines a bit of mystery, love, nostalgia and self discovery.” HNS says the history and locations are well described and worth the read.
Locke Lamora, who as an orphan was sold to crooks, grows up to be a con artist impresario and leads a band of fellow thieves. When a coup throws their country of Camorr into chaos, Lock must become a hero. Violence and strong language. 2006.
I’ve since learned that The Lies of Locke Lamora is from the Gentleman Bastard series, but as it’s the first book in the series, adding it to the What’s Coming Up list isn’t a bad idea. BestFantasyBooks.com reviewed Lies almost three years ago as it’s a few years old. Their review is quite detailed and worth the full read if you are thinking of recommending this book to a sci-fi reader. They praise the author’s resourcefulness in solving plot conflict, the rich and well written characters, and the “startlingly impressive” finale. It is noted that this is the author’s debut novel. Goodreaders have given it 4.27 out of 5 stars and repeatedly draw it’s similarities to Ocean’s Eleven. One Goodreader artfully pastes images that suggest it’s as if Ocean’s Eleven and the Godfather had a love child. Another Goodreader posits that Ocean’s Eleven would have been perfect if it had taken place in a fantasy version of the Renaissance…oh wait…we have it now and it’s called The Lies of Locke Lamora. Either way, I’m adding it to my list mainly because I’ve gotten caught up in the fervor of a bunch of four-year-old reviews!
In a distant future, Native American girl Lozen hunts genetically modified monsters for the tyrants who are holding her mother, sister Ana, and little brother Victor hostage. With each kill Lozen’s unique powers grow. Violence and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2013.
The first review I’ve selected is by a blog called Rich in Color; a blog “dedicated to reading, reviewing, talking about, and otherwise promoting young adult fiction starring people of color or written by people of color.” Lozen is an Apache hunter in a post apocalyptic world in which technology has failed, monsters are loose, and we’re living in a new “steam” age. The overall recommendation from Rich in Color says get the book now and read it fast because it’s a “fun, quick read, and…a distinctive addition to the dystopian genre.” Sounds like, if you enjoyed the Hunger Games series, you’ll like Killer of Enemies. Good Reads readers give it 3.7 out of 5 stars and say that they are happy to see a protagonist of color, a book where the “Indians aren’t poor,” and has excellent action. Hilariously enough though, one reviewer was happy that the “heroine didn’t shame her name sack…” and is “…tall (above 6”).” Six whole inches tall. Wow. Now I’m even more interested in this book than I was already! In August 2013 Kirkus Reviews called Killer of Enemies a “good bet for fans of superhero fiction and graphic novels and readers in search of superpowered female warriors. Done.
Louise Beeston misses her seven-year-old son, who is required to board at Saviour College School to perform with the school’s choir. Meanwhile, her neighbor keeps her awake playing loud pop and rock music and –more recently—choral singing. Strong language. 2013.
The UK Independent’s reviewer likes the The Orphan Choir and is familiar with the author’s previous work. Apparently this is Sophie Hannah’s first attempt at ghost, or supernatural fiction; she normally writes psychological suspense. Of the book, the reviewer says “…innovative score and an eerie twist.” The Goodreads readers have only given Orphan 2.71 out of 5 stars though. They use words like “infuriated,” “disappointed,” “extraordinarily bad novel,” and say that the main character is “unlikeable.” Ouch. I guess that most of the book is exposition and that the supernatural ghosty stuff doesn’t even take place until the last 50 pages or so. As a person who recently spent six months reading nothing but haunted house fiction, this book would have gotten a toss across my living room in no time flat. Just kidding, throwing a book, even a bad book, is rude. The rest of the reviews are mostly independent review blogs and they seem split. Half of them “really enjoyed” it and the other half basically say, “meh.” So, take that to the RA desk and do what you will.
Plagued by malevolent spirits, London turns to ghost-hunting agencies staffed with you sensitive to paranormal activities. Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins, and Lucy Carlyle join together to become Lockwood and Co. –but after bungling a job, their only chance at redemption is clearing a dangerous haunted house. For grades 6-9, 2013.
The Screaming Staircase is book one in the Lockwood & Co. series. The blog Fantasy Book Critic loves the book and calls it “interesting, captivating, and just all out amazing.” He notes that even though it’s a YA novel it will work for adult readers…but due to the graphic descriptions of the ghosts, avoid readers who are too young. In late 2013 the New York Times reviewed this book and another called The Clockwork Scarab. The reviewer enjoyed both but particularly liked The Screaming Staircase for its lightheartedness, thrills, and themes of friendship and friends at the right time. I’d like to find a review by a young reader again as in an early book featured on What’s Coming Up…but we’ll have to settle for Goodreads and assume that at least a few of the reviewers were actually YA readers. Turns out they really like The Screaming Staircase and give it 4.23 out of 5 stars…wowser. “Reccomendation of the month…this book is awesome…brilliantly written,” and even “BEST. CHARACTERS. EVER!” An underlying theme in the reviews is that most readers thought it was going to be something else, either boring or another re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes with paranormal overtones and ended up really really…really enjoying this book. Get thee to BARD or the library ASAP and read this book!
Welcome to the WRT (Who’s Reading This) What’s Coming Up portion of this blog. Each month, after I finish cataloging the month’s PICS download from NLS I will highlight a few titles that are coming up. These will be fairly random is selection. I will try to avoid the popular authors and series as they get plenty of attention in our collection. My goal is to try to show off a few titles that caught my eye but may not get many direct requests from readers. It’s also meant to bring your attention to some titles that may help that one picky reader this month.
With no further ado, here’s March 2014:
Washington Post reporter dissects the March 2011 murder of a young saleswoman by her coworker in an upscale yoga-apparel boutique in Bethesda, Maryland–a killing overheard but ignored by employees in the Apple Store next door. Violence and some strong language. 2013.
Washington Post review praises the book for its detail regarding the crime, those involved, the investigation, and the families affected. However, they also bemoan the same attention to detail when the author relates seemingly obscure facts about the victim’s mother and the medical examiner. Good Reads provides access to user-driven reviews. Some reviews are more professional level while others are more gut-reaction. What’s nice about Good Reads is that you can get a quick idea of how actual readers like or dislike a book. With nearly 4 out of 5 stars overall the readers enjoy the book. It’s full of detail and really tells the story about the crime. It would seem that anyone who enjoys true crime stories in the style of Ann Rule will like this book. Finally, take a look at the review at crimelibrary.com. It would be nice if this site gave a quick thumbs-up, thumbs-down rating, but at least the review is brief and to the point; they liked it and found it engaging and not dry at all.
When William Ashe steps between Shandi Pierce’s three-year-old son and an armed robber, Shandi believes destiny has brought her and William together. It has, but not for the reasons Shandi believes. Some strong language. 2013.
USA Today gives immediate gratification in their review article: 3 out of 4 stars! It begins by trying to jump right into the story–the way the actual book begins—in media res. A young woman, a chaotic situation, lots of “mahem,” and possibly a little bit of magical realism. The Good Reads readers give the book almost 3 out of 4 but it’s important to note that when a reader doesn’t like this book, they really don’t like this book. There is a date rape scene (apparently drunken-roofied, non consensual sex) near the beginning of the book and the haters feel like the author is sympathetic to the rapist and downplays the act. Finally, DearAuthor.com featured this book as a “recommended read” in November 2013. The reviewer won’t give up much besides the basics of the story, southern set, but not stereotypically southern, characters with issues…but not your typical love story. All she will say is that it’s a worthwhile book and that there is a payoff at the end…do not skip ahead!
A year after the events in City of Dark Magic (DB 75832), Sarah Weston returns to Europe. She must convince a doctor to give thirteen-year-old blind musical prodigy Pollina Rutherford an experimental alchemical treatment for her rare autoimmune disorder. Strong language, explicit descriptions of sex, and some violence. 2013.
I selected this book because of the interesting author name and the reference to “experimental alchemical treatment.” Turns out, Magnus Flyte is a conglomeration of two authors and City of Lost Dreams is book two in a series. No worries! Tor.com’s reviewer found the book weak but an enjoyable read nonetheless. The story is fantasy that does not take place in space or in the future. It’s not a steampunk alterative reality fantasy either. It is however “absolutely swimming with badass female leads.” And, while this is a follow up, be sure your reader has read DB75832 first; she doesn’t recommend Lost Dreams as a stand-alone. Good Reads readers give it almost 4 out of 5 stars (I’m noticing a pattern). One reader review calls it a “great smart-girl-slightly-smutty-beach-read.” The Kirkus review calls the book an “amusing romantic mystery” and then goes on to describe it much like the Tor.com review but adds at the end that it is “sensual, witty, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.” So, there you go.
Rose Weiss rebels against her ultraorthodox Jewish parents in 1960s Brooklyn and runs away from home. Forty years later, Rose–who is now an award-winning photographer–is stunned when her niece Rivka appears, seeking refuge from her traditional family. Some descriptions of sex. 2013.
The Jewish Book council not only calls this novel “riveting” but includes a set of discussion questions at the end of the review! One of the most interesting things pointed out in this review is that, while the novel is noteworthy, it will also be educational for people unfamiliar with the “laws of strict Orthodox life,” which should be comforting for our Jewish readers and interesting for our readers looking to expand their world-view. The Goodreads readers? Nearly 4 out of 5 stars! That almost never happens. RTbookreviews.com (Romance Times) gave The Sisters Weiss 4 out of 4 stars. Their reviewer praises the novel’s “clear prose” and says that “women of different faiths can connect with [the story] as they struggle to find their personal heaven.”
Judith and her best friend disappear for two years without a trace. One day Judith returns, scarred and with her tongue cut out. The townsfolk want to know what happened, but she is afraid to share the truth. Some violence. For senior high and older readers. 2013.
The “by kids, for kids” reviewer at theguardian.com calls this book a “dark and chilling tale of abuse and secrets, of love and loss, of silence and courage.” Overall, this young reader was very impressed by the story in this book. Unfortunately, beyond reading her full review of the book, there is not a “star rating” to share here. Sounds like one of those great unrequited love-drama-feelings kind of books that teens and young adult readers will eat up. Good Reads ruins a perfect track record by giving All the Truth 4.01 out of 5 stars! The Good Reads reviewers called it stunning, compelling, unlike any other, intoxicating…they basically love it. The New York Times review is worth the read. While the annotation alludes to the historical fiction nature of the story, the rest almost sounds too modern. The NYT review gives a much more detailed picture of this story, the conflict, and the characters. Once again, no star rating, but it’s clear that the reviewer recommends this read.