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The Girl Who Played Go
Shan Sa, Adriana Hunter
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
Malcolm Gladwell
Someone: A Novel
Alice McDermott

Crooked Heart

Crooked Heart: A Novel - Lissa Evans

Hard to believe I could find a novel about the London Blitz and WWII both heartwarming and at times ironically humorous. But I did and much of this is due to the author and her wonderful characterizations. I quickly fell in love with ten year old Noel, a precocious boy of unknown origins who was being raised by his suffragette and eccentric godmother, Mattie.

Eventually he will be one of the children evacuated and taken in by a woman named Vee, who sees this as an opportunity to make some money.
What is wonderful about this novel is how they characters change and grow throughout the novel, some for the better some for the worst. Yes, there are bombs falling, deaths and accidents, thievery and lost people but for the most part, Noel and Vee, their exploits, and their growth, propel this novel.

Wonderful story about two people who find each other in an unusual time and in unusual circumstances.

ARC from publisher.

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Above the waterfall

Above the Waterfall: A Novel - Ron Rash

A rather simple plot compared to many of Rash's other books but filled with memorable characters nevertheless. Becky, her story is written in a kind of surreal style. She has had a tragic past, but is now the ranger at the National Forest and is the friend of an old landowner. C. J. came back to town to take a job and now finds that the job has disappeared, leaving him without support for his wife and sons. Barry, a young police officer who quits after a nasty meth bust. Can no longer bear to look at the damage and the worst that people can do to each other. And a sheriff, good friends with Becky, due to retire in a matter of days.

Rash's real genius, however, is in painting a picture of the landscape that is both beautiful and poignant. Every little detail, nothing too small escapes his notice. The love of land that he imparts to many of his characters. Simply wonderful.

Alternately he wrote one of the most in your face view of a meth addict, how they live, how little they care about anything but the drug. Such a stark contrast to the beautiful setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So many great quotes I could copy but this small line just touched me.
"As the storm moves on, rain trickles off the leaves like an afterthought." Simple but lovely.

ARC from publisher

Bulll Mountain

Bull Mountain - Brian Panowich

Clayton Burroughs is the only member of his family not involved in its crime network. He,instead became the Sheriff. His family had ruled Bull Mountain in Northern Georgia for generations first with moonshine, than marijuana and lastly meth. They are a hard people, not adverse to killing those who try to get in their way.

We learn something about each generation though most of the story takes place in the current one, with one brother dead and two facing off against each other. A surprise is thrown into the mix with the arrival of a federal agent, Agent Holly, and he will be the match6 that sets off the fire. He though has his own secrets, his own story.

This is a tightly structured book, suspenseful, intriguing and violent. A novel about fathers and sons, about money and expectations, retribution and revenge. If you have read Deliverance, you know not to wander around in the mountains, although this is set in a different
place it reinforces that viewpoint.

<spoiler> I think this is the first book I have read that almost every character has either shot someone, been shot or been seriously maimed.

The New Neighbor

The New Neighbor: A Novel - Leah Stewart

Margaret is 91, lives in a house in Tennessee on a mountaintop. The house across from the pond from hers has remained empty since the woman that had lived there had died. Empty., until Jennifer and her four year old son moved in, an occurrence that both intrigues and upsets Margaret. She had come to prize her solitude, but she can't help but be curious. Jennifer has come, seeking a new life for her and her son.

The structure of this book is rather simple, each chapter narrated by Margaret or Jennifer and a little later on by Zoe. While the structure is simple the unraveling of the plot is brilliant. Slowly the reader comes to realize that both these women have secrets in their pasts. The novel is a quiet one, told in linear fashion but with many flashbacks to let the reader know what happened in their pasts. Margaret tells hers or most of hers in conversations with Jennifer because she wants to leave a written record of her life, having been a nurse in WWII, and had seen many terrible things. Margaret's curiosity soon turns into an obsession. She will not stop until she learns all of Jennifer's secrets. There is no overt air of suspense to this novel just a feeling of dread, or at least that is how I felt.

Not sure if I really liked any of these characters, but I understood them. Beaten down in different ways by life they has each put up a shell that was hard to break through. I do love that the author avoided a cliched ending, instead wrote on that I felt was more realistic to the storyline and the characters past actions. A good book that takes a fair amount of patience, especially at the beginning.

I think the motto of this novel is: If you have secrets do not move anywhere near an elderly, single woman.

A window opens

A Window Opens: A Novel - Elisabeth Egan

Alice Pearse is a likable character, a character many of us can identify with. She is a mother to three young children, married and works three days a week at a magazine, reviewing books. That is until her husband finds out he did not make partner and wants to open his own law office, which means Alice must find a full time job until his own office is up and running.

She is offered what she thinks is a dream job, a new type of book store that offers first editions, e-books and other things in awesome setting. Until things change and her dream job morphs into something different.

This is a novel about books vs. e-books, her friend's independent bookstore versus a whole new reading experience. There are humorous bits, usually coming from the mouths of babes, (we all know kids say the darndest things),. A novel that asks the question, Is it ever possible to really have it all? To find out what Alice decides you need to read the novel. A lighter read, but one that deals with some important issues, issues relating to what is called the sandwich generation among others.

ARC from publisher.

What comes next

What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir - Abigail Thomas

3.5 I am a very picky memoir reader. Don't get me wrong, I love those that turn out to be interesting, not pity memoirs as I call them. This book is done well and I loved reading this author's thoughts and conversations about everything and anything. The title What Come Next, came from her wondering what her life will be like after the death of her husband.

This book celebrates her thirty-five year platonic friendship with Chuck. I loved her relationships and writings about her dogs, past and present. Her love for them definitely shines, as does those relating to her family. Not all the news in these writings are good news, but I feel that the author let us be privy to her innermost thoughts and feelings. I could have happily kept reading, long after the book ended. Her writing is beautiful, thoughtful and honest, amusing at times too as in this passage,

"Then I remember an insight I had when I woke up this morning. The words "yo" and "like" (when beginning a sentence) are not parts of speech at all! They are punctuation. "It's like starting a sentence with a comma," I tell Chuck, "isn't' that brilliant?"

"With a little refinement," he answers, "it might achieve the level of a thought."


Good memoir, with many good thoughts, I quite liked this one.


The bones of you

The Bones of You - Debbie Howells

3.5 This suspenseful and psychological thriller can be representative of many things. Dysfunctional families, keeping problems in the home, alcoholism, narcissism, how two damaged people can come together to create a nightmare of a life. The disastrous effects of a emotionally empty childhood, showing us how little we actually know about what goes on behind closed doors even if we consider them good friends. The many masks people can wear and how easily we can be deceived by charm.


Yes, all these things are in this book but it is done very well. The author uses a loving family, a normal family of you will, to offer as a sharp contrast to the one that is dysfunctional. Took a while for me to figure out who was telling the truth. A good solid and well thought out thriller.

ARC from NetGalley.

Green Hell

Green Hell - Ken Bruen

3.5 Jack Taylor is a wreck of a man, a heavy drinker, blunt to the extent of rudeness, with very few he can call friend, addicted to violence but if there is a miscarriage of justice to right he is the one you want on your side. He reads like there is no tomorrow and has his own moral compass.

The novel is written to reflect the personality of Jack, blunt and to the point. There are no wasted words here and the humor is the sarcastic type or dark irony.

A very different type of main character, yet something in this series speaks to me. Maybe it shows that there is some good in even the flawed and that there is someone there to right a wrong. In this one he meets his match in a young woman he comes in contact with, a young woman who changes her personalities like a chameleon. There is one part of this one I had a hard time with and if you are a animal lover you will too.

A different type of series, one more bold and in your face but I love it. Many quotes from authors in this one which made it even more interesting.

ARC from NetGalley.


Embers - Sándor Márai, Carol Brown Janeway

Beautiful words that form sentences that makes one stop and think. A exquisitely written story, very descriptive, one can picture the scenes down to the minutest of detail.

Friendship, the most expressive definition of a friendship between two men from different backgrounds that I have ever read. Betrayal, love, pride and at the last a definition of aging that is searing.


I cannot say enough about the experience of reading this book except to say it is one that I will long remember and that I must seek out more of this amazing author's work.


One quote from the book had me thinking about it on and off all day,
"It is not true that fate slips silently into our lives. It steps in through the door that we have opened, and we invite it to enter"

Pirate Hunters

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship - Robert Kurson, Ray Porter

I feel in love with Kurson's Shadow Divers, so when  this came up I just has to grab it. These divers are amazing men, the amount of time and money this takes is astronomical and this plays havoc on lives and relationships.

In this book they are looking for a pirate's ship, the Golden Fleece of John Bannister. Bannister is the only pirate that actually beat the Royal Navy. There is so much more to, this book, a history of piracy, the leasing pirates of the time and how they fought and the treasures they stole. Some of the descriptions of what they did to captains and crews of the ships that fought back were quite graphic but relatively short. An incredible time for piracy. One thing I found most interesting is that there was a true democracy on these pirate ships, way before democracy was even a thought elsewhere.


There was quite a bit of bouncing back and forth, but it was all interesting to me, so it was okay and did not take away from my enjoyment of the book. Interesting reading about this because I never had to great an interest in pirates, these men and Munson seem to make everything and anything interesting.


ARC from librarything.

The Night Sister

The Night Sister: A Novel - Jennifer McMahon

3.5 Sometimes things are not as they appear, and in McMahon's books this is usually the case.
Two sisters, one sister and an uncle go missing. Years later three friends find a big secret, a secret that end their friendship.


Takes place in an old hotel, one built with a tower. Starts off rather innocent and slow, than before you know it you are absorbed in the story and the characters.


Strange, creepy, unbelievable all the things usually associated with this author's novels. The things that go bump in the night can sometimes be real. Another amazing read, good escapism.


ARC from publisher.

Under a dark summer sky.

Under a Dark Summer Sky - Vanessa Lafaye

Much of the history in this book is actually true, the vets not being given their bonus pay, the racial injustice blacks faced after serving in the armed forces and then returning home to their families. The vets sent to the Florida Keys to build roads and the abysmal conditions they lived in. The hurricane that hit Islamorada in the Keys, though in this book it is called Heron Bay.

But what makes the story

our the people on the island, this is the part that is created and the author did a wonderful job. One gets the full force of racial segregation, relationships that are not what they should be and even a little voodoo thrown on for a little magical realism.

When the storm hits it is horrific and powerful, as are the descriptions. The desperation, the fear, which brings out the worst and the best in people. Intense and violent, the few whom are left after the storm must work to bring their community back together.

Wonderful, solid storytelling, using historical events as a background for a little known period of history. As always the author's note is
appreciated. One interesting fact is that when the actual hurricane hit the Keys, Hemingway was living in Key West and was one of the first people who came to help.

ARC from NetGalley.

We never asked for wings

We Never Asked for Wings: A Novel - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Sometimes a story just grabs you, either for the plot or for the characters. In this one it was some of both, I loved the characters, their flaws, their hope and dreams, their struggles, but I also loved the plot. Young love, trying to become a mother for Letty, after a very long time when she let her parents raise her two children, Alex fifteen and Letty six. Loved Letty, her exuberance, her determination and her fun personality. Some of her antics had me laughing.


I loved this author previous novels but I feel that this novel is more tightly structured, that she has definitely matured as a writer. She writes with a light touch on some serious issues. The struggle for immigrants, especially undocumented ones to learn the language and to survive speaking very English. The constant fear of deportation. The bullying and struggles young people who are at all different or have physical challenges have in schools in so called less than ideal areas.


Loved all the bird talk, Alex, his grandfather and the feathers. The tie that will forever bind the pair. A very good story that flows well. Curious to see what this author tackles next.

ARC from publisher.


Truth and other loes

The Truth and Other Lies: A Novel - Sascha Arango

3.5 Seems lately I have read a number of books where I thoroughly disliked the main character but found the book fascinating nonetheless.
Henry is a made up person, he is someone who reinvents himself whenever necessary. A trauma suffered when he was young sent him on to the path of self preservation at any cost. But who is he really?


A good dark read of missing people, finding out what is true or not and trying to figure out what is real or not. Some good writing, some likable and some unlikable characters, a psychological twist novel without alot of graphic violence, all on all a good read.

ARC from publisher.

Where they found her

Where They Found Her - Kimberly McCreight

3.5 Loved the different formats, e-mails, journal entries, newspaper articles and comments, used in telling this story. A small town, a newborn baby found dead, and an investigation ensues. Secrets are revealed and some of them go back years, and some of the leaders of this town are exposed. Nothing is as it seems.

A fast paced and intriguing story with some interesting characters, some that will do, anything to keep the truth from coming out.

ARC from Publisher.