Shiver

Shiver

Shiver

By Maggie Stiefvater

Scholastic Press

ISBN: 978-0-545-12326-6

4.5 stars

Grace is a normal high school girl. Her parents, while loving, are lax in the parenting department and and she’s learned to raise herself. She’s a good student, has friends, and a thing for the wolves in the backyard — specifically the one with yellow eyes. As a child, she was attacked by a pack of wolves and she’s convinced the yellow-eyed one saved her. Now, she spends many nights in the backyard trying to befriend him. When a student from her class is attacked, the town sets out to destroy the wolves and Grace is determined to stop them fearing her wolf will be hurt or even killed.

After trying to stop the culling, she returns home to find a naked boy on her back porch bleeding. Oddly, he has the same yellow eyes as her wolf. Grace takes him to the hospital, and when he reveals his miraculous healing ability, she takes him home. Sam, her wolf, has been in love with her since the day he saved her and knowing this will be his last year to become human, wants to spend every waking moment with her. Grace, knowing she has finally found her wolf, refuses to let him go even when it might mean death.

Werewolves are now it for me. I don’t know why I haven’t been reading more all along. Or maybe I’ve just been reading the wrong werewolf books.

Either way, while the werewolves were fascinating, the relationship is was what really hooked me. Yes, the boy is a wolf, but somehow when Grace and Sam are together, you believe these two individuals belong together and the rest of the cold, cruel world fades away. You don’t want to see them part and when the inevitable happens, it’s heartbreaking and somehow very real.

I had to remind myself that I was reading a young adult book in a few places. The romance is pretty tempered, they are high school kids, but intimate in many ways I didn’t expect. After I finished the book, I felt I would have liked to know more about the wolves, how they came about, and a little bit more about why they changed. The ending felt a tad out of place for me but that’s really my only criticism here and it didn’t hit me until after I had finished. I was so into the book that at the time it seemed plausible. I plan to check out more of Stiefvater’s books. I really like her style and way with characters.

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Drood

 

Drood

Drood

Drood

By Dan Simmons

Little, Brown and Company

ISBN: 978-0-316-00702-3

Did Not Finish

I was looking forward to reading Drood. I thought The Terror was fabulous and when I got my hands on this one I was so excited.

Unfortunately, I did not finish this book. I wanted to. I tried to. It just didn’t happen. It went back to the library without completion of the final page.

Normally, I love a long book and this one, at 771 pages, checked that box for me. I have to admit that I really like Simmons’ writing style. It flows easily and he creates some magnificent characters. In this book, I couldn’t get into it. There is one small thing that annoyed me and I think this is what stopped me on this one — the characters go off on tangents. They will be talking about one thing and then remember something else, talk about it for a few pages, pull an anyway, and move you back to the story. I think there is a place for this. We all need important background information, but something here threw me off. Maybe I’ll try it again next year and see how I feel then.

For anyone interested, here is the information from the cover:

Drood is the name and nightmare that obsesses Charles Dickens for the last five years of his life.

One June 9, 1865, Dickens and his mistress are secretly returning to London, when their express train hurtles over a gap in a trestle. All of the first-class carriages except the one carrying Dickens are smashed to bits in the valley below. When Dickens descends into that valley to comfort the dead and dying, his life will be changed forever. And at the core of that ensuing five-year nightmare is…Drood.

Drood…the name that Dickens whispers to his friend Wilkie Collins. A laudanum addict and lesser novelist, Collins flouts Victorian sensibilities by living with one mistress while having a child with another, but he may be the only man on Earth with whom Dickens can share the secret of …Drood.

Increasingly obsessed with crypts, cemeteries, and the precise length of time it would take for a corpse to dissolve in a lime pit, Dickens ceases writing for four years and wanders the worst slums and catacombs of London at night while staging public reading during the day, gruesome readings that leave this audience horrified. Finally he begins writing what would have been the world’s first great mystery masterpiece, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, only to be interrupted forever by…Drood.

People of the Book

 

People of the Book

People of the Book

People of the Book

By Geraldine Brooks

Viking

ISBN: 978-0-14-311500-7

4 stars

Dr. Hanna Heath, an Australian book conservator, arrives in Sarajevo days after the war ends to help preserve a long lost tome of the Jewish faith, the Haggadah. The book, which was believed lost, has turned up at the Sarajevo museum and needs to be restored. She is altogether surprised to have been called, honored at the request, and scared she will not be able to accomplish what she has been dispatched to do.

With security tight, she sets about her task only to create more mystery and intrigue than she ever has with her work. Several odd artifacts are found in the book including a butterfly wing, a long silver hair, blood, and indentations from long missing clips; each a mystery in their own right. In putting together a paper on her findings, she begins her research only to be baffled by more questions than answers. Seeking advice from her revered teacher and friend, she does not find the answers but only more questions. She does her best to fill in the blanks and in the process becomes one of the people of the book.

Told in between Hanna’s story are the tales of the people who helped to create, protect, and unknowingly, become part of the book and its history. Brooks introduces us to all the people who have touched the book in some way and the places it has traveled through history. She tells us the tales of the inscriptions, the brilliant illustrations, and the mystery surrounding the missing claps. She brings to life the history of not only the people but the book itself and its impact on the individuals it has touched and enlightened.

When Hanna is forced to doubt herself over the authenticity of the Haggadah before it goes on display at the Sarajevo museum, she takes on a new project and follows her work to the Australian outback. The work, which involves preserving native works that are part of her country’s history, allows her to hide from the world at large. Now part of the book’s history, Hanna is once again pulled into its realm, and in a final act to preserve it, becomes involved in a ploy to save it one final time.

The ending, which seems more fitting to a mystery caper than this book, is distracting and completely unbelievable after one has become acquainted with the characters involved. While Hanna’s story is certainly the glue that binds everything together, it is also the least interesting however; it provides a backdrop for the other stories and a time frame to place the other stories into.

Brooks weaves a wide-ranging tale that encompasses all the individuals that had a hand in creating and saving the book. Her story travels across time and religions and comes to life with her elegant descriptions. The book takes center stage of this intriguing tale and one can feel the soft parchment, smell the dust, and hear the creaking of the bindings barely holding the contents together. In the end, it becomes the most fascinating element of the story.

Persuader

 

Persuader

Persuader

Persuader

By Lee Child

A Dell Book

ISBN: 9780440241003

4 stars

Jack Reacher is a man of many talents, chiefly among them seems to be rescuing others in dire circumstances. His former career as a military police officer seems to be a constant fall back — as much as he does try to distance himself from it.

Persuader opens with a shoot out on a college campus and Reacher just happens to be there to save student Richard Beck from being kidnapped. With the dramatic rescue accomplished, he worms his way into the family’s house and finds a job as a body guard.

As it turns out, Reacher isn’t really there to protect anyone but himself. He’s been sent in off the books by Susan Duffy, an agent from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), to rescue another DEA agent who went silent. He’s also there for another more personal reason — he plans to settle an old score with a man named Quinn who is supposed to be dead.

As with all Lee Child books I have read, this one starts out at a brisk pace and keeps going. There are a lot of characters and numerous twists but he some how manages to keep it easy to follow. The suspense is high and readers stand to learn a lot about guns and other ways to kill. While it might not be an interesting point for every reader, imagining Reacher inspecting each gun he is either given or stolen is an intriguing insight into the character and his background.

There is one thing to note with Lee Child novels — you need to suspend all belief to get the most out of it. Reacher is a drifter who was downsized out of the army and spends his days hitching rides across the U.S. He carries no bags and has no family, the way he likes it. Yet, he somehow always manages to be in the right place at the right time and some government agency is always salivating to hire him for an off the books job after a peek at his service record.

This doesn’t make the books bad. It’s the exact opposite. You keep reading because you want to find out how he’s going to get out of a hostage situation, fight his way out of a locked room, and get the girl; which in almost every single book I’ve read this year (and there were seven of them) he has.

Enjoy this book for what it is — a fast paced thriller that will keep you engaged to the very end.