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.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mini review: 'How We Learn'

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It HappensHow We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Interesting, approachable, and best of all, useful. Throwing some cherished ideas about studying, testing, and learning on their heads, this highly-readable book summarizes and puts into context important research on learning. As a long-ago psych major, I found Carey's work both in concert with what I learned and giving me a helpful update. I will recommend that my public library order a copy.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Mini review: 'Let's Get Lost'

Let's Get LostLet's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book, particularly the repartee among the Leila, the main character, and the friends she makes on her journey to see the Northern Lights.

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Friday, July 04, 2014

Mini review: 'Not My Father's Son' by Alan Cumming

Not My Father's Son: A MemoirNot My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is there anything this talented man cannot do? Engaging, effecting, excellent writing. You've done a good job, Alan!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014