Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Taker by Alma Katsu: An Intriguing Tale of Immortality

I first saw this book mentioned in a newsletter, where it was recommended for fans of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  Since that book wowed me last year, this little hook got my attention pretty quickly.  Thanks to Samantha at Simon and Schuster, I received a copy of The Taker by Alma Katsu a few weeks ago and eagerly dove into it.  

First of all, this is a book about immortal beings that aren't vampires.  The mix of magic, alchemy, and the unknown are intriguing and kept me  glued to the pages.  The story of Lanore McIlvrae was fascinating.  Lanore is brought into a small town hospital late one night, covered in blood.  She has said she murdered a man in the woods.  While in the emergency room, she begins to tell her tale to Dr. Luke Findley, a man struggling to comes to terms with the recent loss of his mother and the break up of his marriage.  

Lanore's story is a bit hard for Luke to believe; yet he is quickly pulled into her web.  She claims to have lived in this same small town 200 years before, and as the book progresses, shares her story with Luke as they are on the run from the authorities.  Lanore's story is about her life-long love for Jonathan St. Andrew, and how that love brings about cataclysmic changes to both of their lives.  Lanore's story is also intertwined with the mysterious tale of Adair, a young man who takes Lanore's life into his hands and weaves a world around her that she cannot escape.  

I don't want to give anything away in this book!  It is well written and a refreshing change from tales of vampires.  This is a tale of immortality that has a twist.  It's the first in a trilogy, and while there are many unanswered questions, the end of the book is done very well and does not leave you hanging.  It's a perfect read to get you into the mood for Halloween, dark nights, and cool weather.  Lanore's relationship with Jonathan certainly is a great beginning for book club discussions; this is a book you will want to talk about with your friends.  

This book will be available September 6th at your local bookstores.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman--Awesome, Amazing, Wonderful!

I love Alice Hoffman.  Her adult and teen novels have always been eagerly picked up and read by me; I still have a few of her older novels to read.  But this book is unlike anything Alice has written before, and it is sure to be a huge hit this fall when it comes out in October.  I will be one person who talks about it to everyone.

The Dovekeepers is a historical novel about Masada.  Don't know what Masada is?  Google it.  If you don't have time, well, I have known about Masada ever since Peter Strauss starred in a mini-series called Masada way back in the early 80's, when I was a young teen and seemingly adored not teen movie stars, but men like Peter Strauss.  Yes, I had a crush on him, so I eagerly watched the mini-series.

Masada was the final stronghold of the Jews against the Romans in 70 C.E.  It was thought to be impossible to attack this fortress, built on a mountain in the Judean desert.  And for three years, the Jews managed to survive, raising crops, raiding the desert towns for goods, and keeping their very strong faith through hunger, strife, and the terror of war.

Hoffman has written this book about Masada, and four women who lived there.  Each came from different places, each with a story to tell:  Yael, a young woman with bright red hair, daughter and sister of assassins, keeping a secret about her past; Revka, wife of a baker, arrives at Masada with her two mute grandsons, driven to silence by witnessing the horrific murder of their mother; Aziza, a fierce young woman who longs to be a warrior; and her mother, Shirah, a witch woman from Alexandria, who carries the burden of forbidden love, ancient magic, and the power to see the future.

Each woman tells her story, all the while meeting the others as each work in the dovecote, taking care of the doves who provide the fertilizer needed to grow crops and produce fruit from the trees.

If you've read about Masada, you know how it ends.  Having that knowledge in the back of my head did not stop me from eagerly devouring each page.  You cannot put this novel down; each woman is a powerful storyteller; each story is full of sorrow, love, and triumph.  You will need a hanky when you read this; especially the end.  It is written beautifully, yet does not spare the reader from the horror of living under the ruthless Roman world that did not have a place for Jews.

If you are looking for a historical novel unlike anything you've read in quite awhile, prepare yourself for The Dovekeepers.  It is just simply amazing.

Thanks to Wendy @ Simon & Schuster for sending me an ARC.  You made my August!

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Whole Lotta Books in the Mix!

I am swimming in so many good books, I am thinking it would be great to have the super power of staying awake as long as I want to, yet still have energy to work and run.  Right now I'm reading a lot of ARC's:  The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, Children of Paranoia by Trevor Shane, and so many on my Nook, courtesy of NetGalley.  I'm on vacation this next week, so my goal is to finish at least three books and write out those reviews.  I'm also reading a lovely young reader book that was recommended by my friend C-Joy:  The String in the Harp by Nancy Bond.  It's my mental break book and I am loving it so far.  

So many books where I've reached the middle in each one.  Time to buckle down, sit on the couch, and finish these books!  

And to those who have joined Bookalicious Babe--welcome!  I hope you enjoy reading my reviews and chat about books.  Join me on the journey to read 100 books this year.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book of Lies by Mary Horlock

Thanks to Netgalley I was able to read this e-galley and I must say this book has more twists and turns than you could think, all the way to the last few pages.

The novel takes place on Guernsey Island, which lies off the coast of England, and in World War 2 was occupied by the Germans.  The islanders who did not evacuate soon were overwhelmed by the German soldiers, and during the next years suffered starvation, imprisonment, punishment, and many other indignities as an occupied island.  This is just one part of the story.

Cat Rozier opens up the story by admitting to killing her friend Nic late one night during a fight on the cliffs.  Nic went over the edge and Cat is the only witness.  The town thinks Nic was drunk and fell to her death.  Only Cat knows the truth, and she tells the story leading up to Nic's death and it is intertwined with the story of Emile Rozier, Cat's father.  Emile is dead, but he dedicated his life to uncovering the real facts of the occupation of Guernsey Island in hopes of redeeming his brother Charlie's undeserving bad reputation from one act of stupidity during the Occupation.

Oh, it gets good!  Cat is drawn into a friendship with Nic, who soon has Cat drinking, staying out late, and behaving badly.  Nic is a nasty bit of work, and she has no trouble manipulating Cat into doing what she wants.  Cat's story of before Nic's death, and the days following it are fascinating, and it all culminates with some explosive and surprising secrets that come to light as Cat reads her father's papers and starts to put things together.  Secrets abound!

I enjoyed this novel--Cat is a kick.  She feels guilty about what happened to Nic, but also realizes that it really came as no surprise, since so much death and destruction had happened on the Island.  People have tried desperately to forget what happened during the Occupation, but it's 1985, and guilt, shame, and anger still linger in the residents.

This was certainly a book that twisted along a surprising path, leading to a cliff at the end.  If you want to read a story that isn't all sweetness and nice, but shows the after effects of war on a group of people, then pick this up.