The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard – Book Review

The Atomic City Girls

In the 1940’s everyone wanted to end World War II.  This includes eighteen-year-old June Walker, a girl from a small town in Tennessee who leaves her town to live and work at Oak Ridge.  June has no idea what she’s working on, but the pay is good, (even though she does find the work boring), living away from home is exciting and there is something going on all the time.

This novel is not just about June, it’s also about scientist Sam Cantor and construction worker Joe, a man working to send money home to his wife and children.  Beard ties these disparate characters together, not only telling the story of June, but also the moral conflicts of Sam and the other scientists, and the heartbreaking tales of the black construction workers, without whom Oak Ridge would not have existed.

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The is a fictionalized story of a real town working toward an end to the war.  Beard also includes many photos of the small city the government built in Tennessee.  I highly recommend this novel.  It not only allows us to peek into a part of history that’s been veiled for too long, but she tells the stories in an engaging way.  Well done, Beard!

Janet Beard

Janet Beard

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Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman – Book Review

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

This novel recreates World War II Hawaii, with all it’s tension and fear after Pearl Harbor.  Violet is a young widow with a missing husband and young daughter to care for.  She tries to hold onto her compassion and understanding while dealing with her own loss.  When one of her friend’s husband is rounded up, accused of being a Japanese spy Violet goes on the defensive and tries to prove his innocence.

Violet has her hands full with wondering what has become of her husband, taking care of her young daughter who is dealing with issues no one understands, and maintaining her friendships with her Japanese friends.  There is a lot going on here, and the story moves very quickly.  I really enjoyed how the tensions and fear of war-time were portrayed.  The relationships between the characters were well written and believable.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Ackerman!

Sara Ackerman

Sara Ackerman

The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George – Book Review

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This is another Lynley novel, and it is one of the best in this series.  First, I must start off saying that I love Elizabeth George.  Her novels have great plots and characters.  One of my absolute favorite characters is Barbara Havers, and as usual, the story is intricate, interesting, and full of the characters that anyone who reads this series knows and loves.  Of course, one the best aspects of this series, is that even if you haven’t read any of the other  novels, each book has the ability to stand on its own.

Once again Barbara is sent to solve the unsolvable, all the while treading in with her dirty trainers where angels fear to go.  Due to her previous behavior, Barbara has to watch her words and deeds, and is forced to stick to police procedure, since her job is on the line (again).  Can she succeed?  Since I have no intention of giving anything away, read the book and find out!  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, (once again), George!

The Widows of Malabar Hill – A Mystery of 1920’s Bombay by Sujata Massey – Book Review

The Widows of Malabar Hill

I absolutely loved this novel.  Perveen Mistry is the daughter of a prominent wealthy Indian family living in Bombay.  Perveen is also one of the first women lawyers in India and is trying to practice her craft while dealing with her past, her family and the pervading attitudes against women in Indian society.

When Mistry Law seeks to execute the will of a wealthy man, Perveen is the one who has to deal with his widows since they are in total seclusion (purdah).  There are many mysteries here, from Perveens’ past to the murder of the dead man’s agent.  The characters are wonderfully drawn, the history which is included within the novel is interesting, and the mysteries are very compelling.  I finished the novel hoping that this was not the end of Perveen Mistry’s story.  I would like to have more 1920’s Bombay mysteries.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Massey!

Sujata Massey

Sujata Massey

The Stranger in the Woods – The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit – by Michael Finkel – Book Review

The Stranger in the Woods

This is a non-fiction account of Christopher Knight, a man who spent 27 years alone in the woods of Maine.  During this time, he only spoke to another person once, other than that, he never spoke aloud at all.  This non-fiction book reads like a novel, so it was pretty fast reading.  If you ever feel the need to leave civilization and hide out on your own, this is something for you.  The reasons Knight left society are varied, and it makes an interesting read.  This book talks about various problems people who don’t “fit in” face, and there is plenty of information regarding other hermits and the reasons they decided to leave civilization.

This is one book that will make you think.  From the reasons Knight left civilization to the way he managed to survive over 27 years, there is plenty of food for thought.  The reactions of the locals to Knight’s activities are also thought provoking, along with the various forms that becoming a hermit have taken are also interesting.  This is one subject I will be thinking about for some time to come.  I highly recommend this book.  Well done, Finkel!

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Michael Finkel

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – Book Review

Beauty Queens

This is a young adult novel that I recommend to every woman (and girl) out there.  If you can, listen to the audio book since Libba Bray reads it and does the most awesome voices ever.  Okay, so now that I’ve gushed over this novel, what is it about?  A plane filled with teenage beauty queens on their way to a competition crashes on a seemingly deserted island.  The pilot and crew have died, along with some of the contestants, and those who are left have to survive on the island.

This is one of the funniest novels I’ve read in a while, with quirky characters, hilarious adds, and crazy goings-on.  It is also one of the most empowering novels out there for girls and women.  I really don’t want to give much away, but have to say that is exciting, interesting, funny and sad.  I highly recommend it, and again, if you can get the audio book read it that way.  Well done Bray!

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Libba Bray

 

The Wife by Alafair Burke – Book Review

The Wife Alafair Burke

Angela Powell seems to have the perfect life, she is married to a well-known author who cares not only for her but her son also.  Her husband’s quest for the limelight makes her nervous, but that appears to be the only problem.  After suffering in poverty for years, Angela should be enjoying the “good life”, but instead is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

This novel is full of both the usual relationship suspicions, lying and cover-ups, but you don’t really realize what the full story is until the end. Since I don’t want to give anything away, I won’t, I’ll just tell you that I really enjoyed the complexity of the story, and the fact that you just know that you are missing pieces of the whole.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Burke!