Book Review Club

It seems I have taken yet another hiatus from this blog, given that it has been three months since I last posted. And my previous post (as this one is also destined to be) was a Book Review Club post. It seems the Book Review Club–and my need to keep you informed of my reading discoveries–is the only thing keeping this blog on track… So without further ado, I give you this month’s selection:

The Outsmarting of Criminals
by Steven Rigolosi


A brief summary, from Amazon:
After being mugged in New York City, Miss Felicity Prim decides to leave the big city and purchase a home in the country, where she will be safe from the dangerous criminals who call New York home. A devoted reader of crime fiction, Miss Prim believes that her reading experiences have given her the skills required to become an amateur sleuth in her new home of Greenfield, Connecticut. She gets her chance to prove her mettle when she finds a corpse in her basement. As Miss Prim searches for the victim’s identity and killer, she finds her father’s old journals, which create a crisis in her family. Meanwhile, Miss Prim’s young friend, Dolly, has become involved in a dangerous situation and needs Miss Prim’s help. Can Miss Prim, with her insights into human behavior and her steadfast refusal to rely on forensics and databases (which she considers the crutches of lazy investigators), save the day and bring everything to a happy resolution? Of course she can.

I am quite fond of the cozy mystery.  On condition that I like the amateur (or not so amateur) sleuth doing the detecting.  This one, I liked.  Quite a lot.  Miss Felicity Prim is retiring and has big plans to become one of those amateur sleuths she so admires with no more significant training (beyond some beginner self-defense) than a lifetime spent reading crime fiction!

(This reminds me of myself.  Once upon a time, I imagined that I could write a Regency historical romance novel after having avidly read hundreds of novels of the genre.  Very little research was involved.  But I did it!)  As such, I applaud Miss Prim!

She recognizes every element of the genre in her own personal mystery, even going so far as to pigeon-hole the people she meets into recurring characters in her burgeoning cozy mystery world.  For example, she identifies her wacky neighbor Loraine as the perfect zany sidekick after only moments of chatting.  This outlook provides a very humorous satire, while ensuring that the author includes all the elements cozy mystery fans expect.  The mystery itself was also quite clever and unexpected–solving it was quite a coup for Miss Prim!

I enjoyed getting to know all the characters in Miss Prim’s new hometown, and I expect she will shortly be ready to hang out her shingle as a sleuth for hire.  Definitely recommended.

For more book reviews and recommendations, click through on the typewriter!

Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy
Posted in book review club on 09/03/2014 01:39 am | 8 Comments

Book Review Club ~ A Snicker of Magic

Back again to share a truly stellar book that I just want to brag on (even though I have no connection to this book or the author)  It’s  A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.  I don’t read a lot of middle grade books, and my kids are mostly getting too old for them, but I did love Three Times Lucky… Not to mention its sequel…  And I heard so much glowing praise for this book that I just had to see for myself whether it was well deserved.

Well, it was.  Now let me try to convince you…

Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy

51gNghE+NvLFrom Amazon:

Introducing an extraordinary new voice—a magical debut that will make your skin tingle, your eyes glisten . . .and your heart sing.

Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.

It received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and School Library Journal, and, what the heck, from me too!

 

It’s charming and whimsical, with all the trademarks of a great story.  A magical town?  Check!  A quirky, never-say-die, lovable main character? Check!  A trusty sweetheart of a sidekick? Check!  A twisted, mysterious history? Check!  A desperate, important task? Check!  Crazy ice cream flavors?  Check, double check!  (You get the idea.)

And there are so many words–so many wonderful words–scattered everywhere throughout this book!  Because Felicity Juniper Pickle is a word collector.  And not only that, she can actually *see* words hovering, swimming, swooshing around people.  Words they’re thinking, words they’re feeling, words that describe them.  And she collects her favorites in a little blue book.  Talk about a lovable quirk!

Felicity’s perspective is just, quite simply, wonderful.  It’s factofabulous, to use a word from the book.

“The letters were made of melted sunshine.  They dripped down the window glass, warm and tingly against our faces.  Believe is a powerful word to see and to say.  But that morning, I felt it.  And feeling it was the best of all.  I knew something wonderful was about to happen to me.  I didn’t know what, or why, or how.  But I believed.”

“The base of the sky was turning orange and pale pink.  I figure that was the sun’s way of yawning and stretching before it puts its hands on the hills and pushes on up into the sky.”

So much goodness!  You need to experience it for yourself.  Read it, read it, read it!

 

 

Posted in book review club, Uncategorized on 05/07/2014 12:10 am | 5 Comments

Book Review Club ~ The Diviners

The facts are these… (I’ve been watching Pushing Daisies on Netflix).

It is once again the first Wednesday of the month, and thus time for Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.

Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy

I’ve actually done quite a bit of reading, much of it from authors I’ve already featured here on the blog (mostly as a part of the Book Review Club).

  • I read the latest Flavia de Luce mystery and gave it five stars on Goodreads.  This one might be my favorite in the series so far!
  • I read the latest Vish Puri mystery and gave it five stars as well.  Love these India-set mysteries!
  • I also read City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn. I gave it four stars just because I thought the heroine went a little too hard on the hero.  She was kinda mean…
  • Finally, I read all 500+ pages of the Rita-nominated The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley.  It was excellent, but I gave it four stars because I wanted more of the framework story.

All in all, I’ve read some really excellent books lately! However, I’ve not quite finished reading the one I’m reviewing here, namely THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray.

The-Diviners-Libba-Bray-Paperback-880x1340From Amazon:

“Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”

 
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.”
 
This summary doesn’t really touch on the scope of this novel.  Evie may be the main character, and one of the Diviners: individuals with special powers to do things like step into dreams, learn a person’s secrets merely by touching something that belongs to them, become “invisible” to people at will, etc, but this story is told from many viewpoints, and there are plenty of side stories feeding into the central one–the murders.
 
What do I like about this novel so far?
 
  1.  The writing is, at turns, wonderfully lyrical and conversationally spot on.
  2. It feels important, intense, urgent, as if every page is speeding you towards a conclusion you’re quite desperate–but a little afraid–to read.
  3. There are plenty of fascinating characters.  Until this morning I would have said that only one of them left me feeling a little ‘meh,’ but suddenly, he has a secret past, and for now, I forgive him.  Evie is quite the spunky heroine–I fear she might soon get her comeuppance…
  4. 1920′s Manhattan is a character all its own.
  5. The knowledge that this is a series.  It makes me think that these Diviners, who do not yet know about each others’ abilities, will come together gradually, sort of
  6. 16060716like a set of young Avengers whose powers deal in the supernatural.  The next book in the series, Lair of Dreams comes out in August this year!
  7. Those covers!!
 
So…1920s…Manhattan…murder…supernatural…occult…bright young things…coming of age…glamour…mystery…
 
If you have a penchant for any or all of these things, this book might be for you.
 
I leave you with a little sample from the beginning:
 
“Outside, the wind lingers for a moment at those lighted windows; then, with a gusty burst of energy, it takes its leave and scuttles down the sidewalks.  It twines itself briefly around the cloche hats of two fashionable young ladies gossiping about the tragic death of Rudolph Valentino as they walk a poodle along the East River.  It moves on, down neon-drenched canyons, over the elevated train as it rattles about Second Avenue, shaking the windows of the poor souls trying to sleep before morning comes…”
 
(Don’t forget to click on the typewriter for the rest of this month’s reviews!)
Posted in book review club, books on 04/02/2014 12:55 am | 6 Comments