Staff Review of New Releases
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (publication date: September 5)
Goodreads Summary:The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.
Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.
(5 out of 5 stars) I received an ARC of this book when I met E. Lockhart at the ALA Annual Conference this year. I was super excited to get my hands on it because I loved her previous book "We Were Liars" and it had been 2 years since I'd read anything by her. I started reading right away and was sucked right in. When the book starts you are thrown into the heat of the book at chapter 24. You have no idea who the characters are or what happened, you just know that she is on the run. The book then begins to tell the story backwards, ticking down the chapters until you reach chapter 1, in order to find out what madness happened to get the main character where she is when the story starts. I thoroughly enjoyed the uniqueness of this book, it was a form of storytelling that I had never explored before. It has love, disguises, and murder, a perfect combination to make you want to keep reading. So if you're looking for an exciting read with less than 300 pages - this is the book for you!
The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones (publication date: September 5)
In an unspecified future, the United States' borders have receded behind a salt line--a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe, if limited, lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what's left of nature. Those among the latest expedition include a popstar and his girlfriend, Edie; the tech giant Wes; and Marta; a seemingly simple housewife.
Once out of zone, the group find themselves at the mercy of deadly ticks--and at the center of a murderous plot. They become captives in Ruby City, a community made up of outer-zone survivors determined to protect their hardscrabble existence. As alliances and friendships shift amongst the hostages, Edie, Wes, and Marta must decide how far they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line.
(3 out of 5 stars) This book started out very strong and immediately captured my attention. I think the momentum of the story slowed when the major plot twist happened and for me, it never picked back up. I found the narration jumping between different characters to be jarring at times - maybe if each chapter had the narrator's name at the beginning that would have helped. Great world building and I won't be able to forget those ticks for a very long time.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (publication date: September 12)
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother - who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
(3 out of 5 stars) Celeste Ng has a special talent for making me feel connected to her characters & emotionally invested in her stories. I appreciated that we were able to see the story unfold from the different perspectives, but the stereotypes coming to life became a bit much for me after a while. It felt predictable rather than fresh and was also lacking the beautiful prose which can make up for so much. I liked it, and I will still look forward to her books for a light quick read.
The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co #5) by Jonathan Stroud (publication date: September 12)
After the dramatic events of The Creeping Shadow, the Lockwood team (plus Quill Kipps) deserve some well-earned rest. So naturally they break into the Fittes Mausoleum, on a perilous mission to discover the truth about London's top ghost-hunting agency, and its sinister leader. What they discover will change everything.
But there's little time to ponder. A near-miss at a haunted fairground is only the start - as the Fittes agency closes in on the team, an epic struggle commences. With the help of some unexpected, and rather ghostly, allies, Lockwood & Co must battle their greatest enemy yet, as they move ever closer to the moment when the earth-shattering secret of 'the problem' will finally be revealed.
Jonathan Stroud once again delivers a rousing adventure full of danger, laughs, twists, and frights. The revelations will send readers back to Book 1 to start the series all over again.
(3 out of 5 stars) All of the elements that make the other Lockwood & Co. books such fun, engrossing reads are also present in The Empty Grave - humor, creepiness, teamwork, and romance. I would say this has been one of the most satisfying conclusions to a series I have read if it were not for one detail (won't say as that would be a spoiler!). Besides that, Jonathan Stroud did a very good job wrapping things up. I feel Stroud purposefully left some things open for reader interpretation or as an opening for a possible spin-off series. Either way, I have enjoyed my time with Lockwood, George, Lucy, and the Skull and I add them to my list of literary friends I will miss. I recommend this series to approximately ages 14+ who enjoy witty, adventurous, ghostly reads.
Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore (publication date: September 19)
Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.”
What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible.
(3 out of 5 stars) Kudos to Kristin Cashore for creativity and for doing something that I've never seen done before. The format of this book, having a main storyline that branches into many different variations at one point during the book, I found intriguing but ultimately frustrating. I really wanted some cohesive ending, or at the very least a hint of it, that would tie all the knowledge gained in the different storylines together. I found the book to be well-written, but I fear that many will be discouraged by the slow pace and confused by the different storylines.
An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry (publication date: September 19)
In the course of his tenure with the Thames River Police, Commander Monk has yet to see a more gruesome crime scene: a Hungarian warehouse owner lies in the middle of his blood-sodden office, pierced through the chest with a bayonet and eerily surrounded by seventeen candles, their wicks dipped in blood. Suspecting the murder may be rooted in ethnic prejudice, Monk turns to London's Hungarian community in search of clues but finds his inquiries stymied by its wary citizens and a language he doesn't speak. Only with the help of a local pharmacist acting as translator can Monk hope to penetrate this tightly knit enclave, even as more of its members fall victim to identical brutal murders. But whoever the killer, or killers, may be--a secret society practicing ritual sacrifice, a madman on a spree, a British native targeting foreigners--they are well hidden among the city's ever-growing populace.
With the able assistance of his wife--former battlefield nurse Hester, who herself is dealing with a traumatized war veteran who may be tangled up in the murders--Monk must combat distrust, hostility, and threats from the very people he seeks to protect. But as the body count grows, stirring ever greater fear and anger among the Hungarian emigres, resistance to the police also increases. Racing time and the rising tide of terror all around him, Monk must be even more relentless than the mysterious killer, or the echoes of malice and murder will resound through London's streets like a clarion of doom.
(5 out of 5 stars) Anne Perry continues her series of London River Police Commander William Monk with everything one would expect from her – attention to period detail, a riveting plot and characters that continue to evolve throughout the series.
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (publication date: September 24)
On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens the gas taps in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove—to the subway bosses who have recently fired him, to his badgering, pregnant wife—“that the hours of his life belong to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Savior, an aging nun, appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child.
We begin deep inside Catholic Brooklyn, in the early part of the twentieth century. Decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man’s brief existence. Yet his suicide, although never spoken of, reverberates through many lives and over the decades—testing the limits and the demands of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations.
(5 out of 5 stars) On one level, The Ninth Hour is a story about a young widow, Annie, and her daughter. We meet Annie at the lowest point of her life which also happens to be when she meets Sister St. Savior, a spirited nun who will take Annie and her infant daughter under her wing. Annie works in the laundry at the nunnery and Sally grows up knowing the sisters as her family. On a broader level, this is a story full of strong women fighting to live the lives they felt born to live.
While there may be many stories about the Irish arriving in Brooklyn to start a new life, this feels fresh both in the story and the storytelling. The perspectives shift letting us get to know and understand what drives both Annie and Sally in their search for meaning and joy in their lives. The line between the secular and the holy is crossed over and back again many times as we see that life is not black and white but shades of grey. As the story progresses many links between the characters are revealed that only we are privy to.
I found the writing to be beautiful. I loved how the concept of time belonging to ourselves was described as being the greatest luxury. I also appreciated how the nuns were portrayed as holy yet susceptible to human foibles of jealousy and fear without that affecting their relationship with God. They cared for the sick and the needy but the different sisters are described as: having a small, tight knot of fury at the center of her chest, having a mad heart – mad for mercy perhaps, but mad nonetheless, etc. Beautiful descriptions of women on fire for their cause.
This was my first book by Alice McDermott and won’t be my last! Loved it!