Thursday, July 23, 2015

'Scorpion Rules' by Erin Bow

The next Hunger Games may have arrived.

Erin’s Bow’s Scorpion Rules is riveting. In a post-apocalyptic world ruled by an artificial intelligence called Talis, the ancient practice of offering up children as hostages against war has been revived. The heads of the latest nations of the earth must provide their offspring as hostages to be raised in Prefectures. These “Children of Peace” are destined to rule their countries, should they survive to age 18. Any time before then, if their leaders — their parents — declare war, the children's’ lives are forfeit.

Greta is the Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, a superpower located where Canada once was. At 16, she has been an excellent student and an obedient Child of Peace for 11 years. When a war in the former U.S results in a new nation threatening her country’s water supply, Greta witnesses a new hostage arrive: Elian. He, too, is a teenager, but he was not raised in a Prefecture and has a hard time adjusting to his new status. Both Greta and Elian know their countries are at the brink of war and that they will die if things come to that.

Events on the Prefecture, located in rural Saskatchewan, do not proceed as Greta presumes they will. Elian’s country captures the Prefecture, which is strictly forbidden by Talis’ rules of war. In the midst of this threat, Greta struggles to maintain her dignity and keep her friends alive, and discovers truths about her world that will change everything for her.

Erin Bow’s book is engaging and intriguing in a way only the best YA can be. Although I didn’t quite understand why the essential nations had given up on negotiations, Bow’s world is believable and well-wrought. I found myself thinking about the Prefecture when I was away from the book and surprised by some of the turns the narrative took. This book is clearly the beginning of a story that is so filmable I can’t wait to see on it screen, nor can I wait to see where Erin Bow takes it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

'Circling the Sun' by Paula McLain

Circling the SunCircling the Sun by Paula McLain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paula McLain has done it again, channeled an amazing women from the early 20th century to create a lovely and affecting historical novel. Beryl Markham grew up motherless and wild in colonial Africa, was the first woman to train racehorses there, and then became the first woman to fly solo east-to-west across the Atlantic. The novel, beautifully written and thoughtfully observed, follows Beryl from girlhood through learning to fly and is framed by her record-setting flight. To me it felt like it ended a little abruptly; Markham had a long life afterward, marrying again and not dying until the age of 83. I suppose had become fond of Beryl and would have followed her story to the end. Even so, I believe admirers of McLain’s popular work The Paris Wife will also enjoy this book, as will readers of Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, as Blixen appears as a character in Circling the Sun.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Latest Books

I have been remiss in posting what I think of some of the books I've reading! Here are some thoughts from the last six months:

We Were Liars

Loved it. Did not guess the ending. YA.

Station Eleven

A FAVORITE book of 2014!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Can't believe it took me so long to get around to reading this book. So worth it.

Gun Street Girl (Sean Duffy, #4)

My man! So, so good. I donated it to my library so I could share it Adrian McKinty with more people!

American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus

A favorite so far for 2015! Going to try to get my book group to read it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mini mini-review: 'All The Light We Cannot See'

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautiful. Wonderful. Poignant. Worthy of all the accolades it has received.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mini review: 'The Hawley Book of the Dead'

The Hawley Book of the Dead: A NovelThe Hawley Book of the Dead: A Novel by Chrysler Szarlan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fine magical mystery steeped in Irish myth. I really enjoyed the back story of the Dyer women -- that was the real mystery here. My quibbles: I figured out a couple of plot points long before the heroine did, and the characters and relationships are rather two-dimensional. That doesn't mean I wasn't drawn in to the story and eager to see where it went. Very cool for me, as well, that it is set not far from the part of New England where I live.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

'The Secret Place' by Tana French

The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #5)The Secret Place by Tana French
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Tana French. Her intimate portraits of crime in Dublin, primarily of those who solve it but also of those who commit it, are finely wrought, engrossing, and compelling. In The Secret Place, she focuses on teen-aged girls in Catholic boarding school and a cop hoping to angle himself onto the homicide squad with his performance on an unsolved murder on the school grounds.

Having once been a teen-aged girl myself, I found the behavior of the girls a little unbelievable. They stick together in the face of authority and try to manipulate the situation to get at each other. Really? Kids act like that even when the stakes are so high as to include murder and they are being interrogated by the police? Perhaps I reveal myself as naive. Or perhaps the girls' behavior is dictated by their culture and it is too different from my experience--private Irish boarding school vs. suburban NJ public school.

Aside from that misgiving, I did love The Secret Place. In addition to it being a fine psychological study of the characters, it was an excellent mystery that kept me guessing. It also had elements of magical realism that I found really intriguing. I wish I could give it 4 1/2 stars.