Starless by Jacqueline Carey – Book Review

Starless by Carey

I’m just going to admit it…I love fantasy.  Starless is a wonderful fantasy.  The world-building is fantastic, the character development is wonderful, and this novel is simply fantastic!  Yes, I am gushing, but this book is a great read.  The novel opens with Khai, born on the same day as Princess Zariya and fated to be the Shadow to her Sun.  Khai grows up in the Brotherhood and is trained to be Princess Zariya’s bodyguard/soulmate.  As the time for the two to meet gets closer, portents begin to show that a Prophecy may be coming true.  The dark god Miasmus seems to be stirring.

So begins an epic journey that Khai and Zariya embark upon in order to keep the world from ending.  Since I want you to read this novel I won’t be going into any detail, but I will say that there are a lot of things happening here.  There is the age-old problem of wealth vs. poverty; power vs. powerless; gender issues; misogyny; and secrets being kept.

I loved this novel, and highly recommend it.  Well done, Carey!

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Jacqueline Carey

 

 

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Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis – Book Review

Everything Must Go

This is another good read from the Young Adult side of the bookstore.  It’s an unconventional take on the coming of age novel.  Flora, the main character, decides to attend a Quaker-run alternative high school in order to win her tutor’s affection.  Little did she understand how fundamentally the experience would change her.

Flora goes from holding onto her old identity at all costs to actually learning about life and growing up at the same time.  In this process, Davis takes the opportunity to discuss gender identity, sex, family relationships and other topics that are profoundly important – and she does all of this through the person who is most affected by these issues.  I found this both interesting and difficult to read (since these topics tend to be just a little “messy”).  It’s a great way to discuss some of these topics with people you are close to.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Davis!

Jenny Fran Davis

Jenny Fran Davis

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed – Book Review

Gather the Daughters

This novel is extremely uncomfortable to read.  There is ignorance, abuse and misogynistic behavior abounding.  It is also an incredible look at what happens to a society when a few people are given complete control over the others.  After a catastrophic accident, a group of people withdrew to live on an island where they have used every means at their disposal to keep themselves separate from the rest of humanity.  The children are allowed unbelievable freedom every summer until they reach puberty when they are wed and bred.  The story revolves around various characters, all of whom are  compelling.

I really don’t want to go into detail, since I’d like you to read this book.  Again, it’s not an easy read, and will make you think for quite a while afterwards.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Melamed!

Jennie Melamed

Jennie Melamed

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell – Book Review

Then She Was Gone

Just a note before I start my review – as a mother I found this book hard to read, since it’s about a mother’s (and father’s) worst nightmare – a missing child.  So, that being said, let’s get right into the review.  Laurel Mack has always been a vigilant mother – she knew where her children were and who they were with at all times.  However, her 15-year-old daughter leaves the house to go to the library and not only never arrives there, she never comes home.  The police seem convinced that Ellie’s run away, and as far as Laurel is concerned they’ve dropped the ball.   Ten years later, Ellie’s still missing and Laurel’s life has stopped.  Her marriage did not survive the loss of Ellie, and not only that, she’s lost connection with her two remaining children.

This novel is a study in relationships under duress.  I loved how the story was told, and the realistic relationships that were strained to the breaking point by the loss of a child.  There are plenty of unexpected twists to keep you on your toes, and the various familial relationships come across as very realistic.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Jewell!

Lisa Jewell 3

Lisa Jewell

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton – Book Review

The Queens of Innis Lear

This is a fantasy based on Shakespeare’s play, King Lear, and I must say that it is one of the most outstanding fantasies that I’ve read.  The three daughters, Gaela, the eldest, Regan, the middle daughter, and youngest, Elia are as different as three people can be.  However, warrior queen Gaela and politically savvy Regan are united as one in their quest to become co-queens of Innis Lear, while Elia is focused on caring for her father, Lear, and studying the portents of the stars.

I don’t want to give too much away, however the use of magic in this novel is wonderful.  The way that Gratton has intertwined all of creation together is simply magical in itself.  I highly recommend this novel.  It is fantastic high fantasy, the world building is excellent, and the characters and varied and well-developed.  Do yourself a favor and read this novel.  Well done, Gratton!

Tessa Gratton

Tessa Gratton

 

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen – Book Review

The Tuscan Child

This novel is told by two different characters, during two different time periods.  Hugo Langley a British bomber has been shot down by the Germans during World War II and lands in Tuscany.  There he evades the Germans with the help of a local woman.  Thirty years later, Hugo’s daughter, Joanna, goes to the Tuscan countryside looking for answers after she’s found a letter hinting at a mystery while going through her father’s effects after his untimely death.

Joanna finds both the warm relationships that she’s been missing ever since her mother died, and a mystery that seems to get more dangerous each day.  No one in the village is willing to tell her anything about the war, but also the one person who hinted at forbidden knowledge ends up murdered.

I really enjoyed both the historical aspects of this novel, and Joanna’s attempts to solve the mystery of who her father really was.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Rhys!

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Rhys Bowen

Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde – Book Review

Go Ask Fannie

Eighty-one-year-old Murray Blaire invites his children to visit for the weekend, and this dysfunctional family begins to completely fall apart.  All the old hurts come to the fore, along with the untold truth of the tragic deaths of Murray’s wife and son.

This novel derives its title from the family “bible”, an old Fannie Farmer cookbook their mother, Lillian, used (and abused).  Whenever any of the children had a question for her, Lillian’s response was “let’s ask Fannie”.    This cookbook is the touchstone of the family due to the random notes Lillian wrote in it.

I highly recommend this novel, mainly because there is a lot packed into this book.  There is old age, fraught family relationships, and mysteries, including what went on before the fatal car crash that killed Lillian and their sibling.  There is also the story of Lillian and her struggle with being a mom to four children.  Well done, Hyde!

Elisabeth Hyde

Elisabeth Hyde