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.

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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

Book Review Club ~ The Rosie Project

Back again for Barrie Summy’s monthly Book Review Club. This, of course, means that it’s the first Wednesday of the month, and it also happens to be Ash Wednesday today, so today begins Lent and plenty of good reading, should you take the advice of my fellow reviewers…

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This month, I’m reviewing The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, which, it turns out, is a #1 International Bestseller. I had no idea that this was the case. The book was recommended by a fellow blogger, Anne Bogel, and as it sounded quirky and unique, and had a $1.99 price tag, I couldn’t pass it up.  I was not disappointed!! (As of the date of this post, it is still a bargain on Kindle at $1.99, so jump on this!)
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I couldn’t resist including all these other covers–they remind me of Jenny Crusie covers, which I love–but the most recognizable cover, at least in the U.S., is the red one, with the heart. Perfect.

So, let’s get started. From Amazon:

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MEET DON TILLMAN, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, th


Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.
e late arrivers.

Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut will resonate with anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of great challenges. The Rosie Project is a rare find: a book that restores our optimism in the power of human connection.

So, this, my friends, is a mainstream romance. It’s also a romance by a man–an Australian–so I think this is a definite first for me. It is sweet and intelligent and HILARIOUS! I do not know if I have ever laughed out loud so much while reading a book. If you are familiar with the character of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, then you have a bit of an idea of the sort of character that Don Tillman is.

He’s the sort that adheres to a rigid menu every single week.  The sort that times absolutely everything, so that if he is drawn into a thirty minute conversation with someone, he must decide whether to run somewhere instead of walk, skip his workout, or go to sleep later than he’d intended, which is likely to have an impact on the following day.  He doesn’t like physical contact, doesn’t believe he can fall in love, and doesn’t have a lot of patience for the emotional situations that both stimulate and plague the rest of society.  In short, he has Asperger’s syndrome, but based on an early scene in the book, where he lectures on the condition, is not aware of it.

The criteria of his Wife Project are hilarious, but the Father Project is much more interesting–fascinating really. And then there’s the Rosie Project, which is sweet and sad and just perfect.  You really must read it for yourself!

For more great reviews, click on the typewriter above!

Posted in book review club on 03/05/2014 05:25 am | 10 Comments

Book Review Club ~ The Rithmatist

Holy Moly! It’s been two months since I last posted! Well, lots has been going on…here is the Cliffs Notes version:

1) There was Christmas (obviously)

2) We recently purchased a vacation rental with another couple and have been working on doing some renovation/modernization/decorating. It is almost finished!  (What a relief!) So, if you’re looking for a lovely rental in the Asheville, NC area that sleeps 14-16, give me a shout!

3) I’VE BEEN WRITING! Hardcore–seriously. I’m spending more hours a week than I ever have, and I’m making good progress I think. It won’t be too long before this current book is done!

The-Ghosts-of-Tupelo-Landing

4) I entered Austensibly Ordinary in the RWA Rita contest this year, and because they were only accepting a certain number of entries, and because they give priority to anyone who judges, I decided to judge. So, I received five books to read by March 7th, and I am on 4/5. Because I’m not allowed to reveal which books I’m judging, I find myself without a book to review this month.  (Because these books are consuming ALL of my reading time.)

Once I’m finished with the judging, I’m looking forward to reading this book, which came out yesterday.  (I LOVED Three Times Lucky) –>

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My twelve-year-old has been reading voraciously, so I asked him if he’d like to review a book he received for his recent birthday, The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, and he agreed. So, this month, you’re hearing from him. And I will admit, this book has piqued my interest. I may just read it next…

10137823From Amazon:

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings—merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense—the first of a series. With his trademark skills in world-building, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013 A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2013

From Alex:

The Rithmatist was a great book because it had mystery, fantasy, and action all wrapped up into one book. There are other great books, but if you want a “keep me up all night reading so I can find out what will happen next” book, then this is the one. The Rithmatist is a book about a kid who really wants to be a rithmatist, a person who can draw lines that become animated. To be a rithmatist you need to be really good at drawing circles, know all of the defenses, be good at drawing chalkings (pictures that come to life to aide you, and know the lines. Plus you have to be able to do all of it in chalk, and this boy can. This boy wants to be a rithmatist because they are looked upon in awe, and have special powers. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a series, so once you’re finished with the first one, you’ll be able to read the next. This book is a great book over all, and I would read it again if my mom allowed rereads.

-Alex Goodnight

For the record, I do allow re-reads. I just frown on excessive re-reads.  There are simply too many wonderful books out there to justify them.

Posted in austensibly ordinary, book review club, life on 02/05/2014 05:00 am | 6 Comments