Sunday, December 11, 2011

In My Mailbox (21)

Suspension- May 31, 1883, 3:55 p.m. Twenty thousand men, women, and children, their
faces shining in the late afternoon sun, are strolling the Eighth
Wonder of the World. The Brooklyn Bridge is open just a week, its
promenade a magnet for the teeming masses of New York and Brooklyn. An
engineering marvel of transcending beauty, the bridge is simply
breathtaking.In precisely five minutes, it will fall.Seven
desperate men, former Confederate soldiers turned saboteurs, have
labored for years to destroy the bridge, which they saw as a symbol of
hated Yankee supremacy.Sergeant Detective Tom Braddock is one
step behind the conspirators. Working through a series of murderous
dead-ends, Braddock has dogged the seven men from the cables of the
bridge to the shadowy alleys of the Lower East Side and the back streets
of Richmond, Virginia. Slowly, he has slowly drawn closer to the
unthinkable truth, a truth that none can accept...

The Singer of All Songs- Calwyn has never been beyond the high ice-wall that guards the sisters
of Antaris from the world of Tremaris. She knows only the rounds of her
life as a novice ice priestess, tending her bees, singing her ice
chantments, and dreaming. But then Calwyn befriends Darrow, a
mysterious Outlander who appears inside the Wall and warns of an
approaching danger. To help Darrow, to see the world, and perhaps to
save it, Calwyn will leave the safety of the Wall for a journey with a
man she barely knows--and an adventure as beautiful and dangerous as the
music of chantment itself.

A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts- According to Chinese tradition, those who die hungry or unjustly come back to haunt the living. Some are appeased with food. But not all
ghosts are successfully mollified. In this chilling collection of
stories,Ying Chang Compestine takes readers on a journey through time
and across different parts of China. From the building of the GreatWall
in 200 BCE to themodern day of iPods, hungry ghosts continue to torment
those who wronged them.

Odds are Good- Beloved for his hilarious and unexpectedly moving novels, Bruce Coville
is also a master of the short story. These two collections, in one
volume for the first time, feature eighteen tales of unusual breadth and
emotional depth. This omnibus is a perfect introduction to Bruce
Coville's magic for the uninitiated.

Oddest of All- Fans of Bruce Coville’s wonderfully weird storytelling will be thrilled
to know that the expert of odd is back with a new collection of nine
curious and thought-provoking tales. From stories about a girl
who learns the horrifying secrets about what’s really at the
bottom of a murky, desolate pond, a strange chemical factory causing
mutations in frogs, and a Halloween mask that becomes a gruesome clue in
the disappearance of a child, the odd adventures in this new
collection are filled with terrifying and ghoulish details. In the
eerie, surreal tradition of Edgar Allan Poe, these reveries are sure
to linger in the minds of readers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

Set on a fictional island kingdom off the coast of Spain, orphaned Sophia and her sister and cousin are impoverished royalty trying to patch together an existence under the negligent care of a batty housekeeper and the insane royal king. Their tiny kingdom can't stay separate from the issues of the world though as WWII looms and Germans are even seen on their island. Part coming of age, part gothic adventure, Sophia is forced to grow up whether she feels ready or not.

Genre: coming of age; historical

Rating: 4/5

This book reminded me a lot of I Capture the Castle. There's an otherworldly quality to it with royals who are more poor cousins than royals based on their lack of funds and a castle mouldering around them. Sophia is a sweet girl, isolated and in awe of her cousin, but who has normal hopes and dreams. She and her family are forced by circumstances to make hard decisions about what to do when it comes to their kingdom and there's a lot of the old "abandoned youth left to fend for themselves" trope that you don't see much except for in older British novels. It's a very readable book though and you wish the best for Sophia and her family as they are displaced and starting on a new phase in their lives by the end of the book.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

In My Mailbox (20)

A Brief History of Montmaray- Sophie Fitzosborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island—until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed.

Heretic- Already a seasoned veteran of King Edward's army, young Thomas of Hookton possesses the fearlessness of a born leader and an uncanny prowess with the longbow. Now, at the head of a small but able band of soldiers, he has been dispatched to capture the castle of Astarac. But more than duty to his liege has brought him to Gascony, home of his forebears and the hated black knight who brutally slew Thomas's father. It is also the last place where the Holy Grail was reported seen. Here, also, a beautiful and innocent, if not pious, woman is to be burned as a heretic. Saving the lady, Genevieve, from her dread fate will brand Thomas an infidel, forcing them to flee together across a landscape of blood and fire. And what looms ahead is a battle to the death that could ultimately shape the future of Christendom.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

Cameryn is the daughter of the town coroner and is keen on following in her father's footsteps. Unfortunately on her second time out with her father the body they find is that of someone Cameryn knows. She's the latest victim of a serial killer who leaves Christopher medals on his victims. Cammie is determined to find the killer of her friend, but added to the case itself is the fact that her mother has entered back into her life through the connection to Justin, a deputy who Cammie may have developing feelings for. She has to use her scientific knowledge to try to solve the case before she becomes the next victim.

Genre: mystery

Rating: 4/5

A pretty smart forensic mystery for teenagers, Ferguson doesn't shy away from the nastiness of death, yet speaks of it in a clinical way that gets the point across. Cameryn is a feisty girl, but I do find it a bit hard to believe that she'd be allowed to help her father as much as she does. There's also the issue that he's smarter than everyone around her, which is also a bit unbelievable. Also slightly odd is her relationship with deputy Justin, who we find is 21, so not out of the realm of attraction for a 17 year old, but still the fact that he has an official job being so young is unbelievable and slightly jarring in the read.

I liked the book though, on the forensic level. It was the first mystery for teens that I'd read that had the Kathy Reiches feel to it. That's a hard thing to do with a YA protagonist, but Ferguson works it as best as she can.