Wednesday, August 29, 2012

summer reading list

not as many as usual this quarter, what with the visits of the grandkids and now some real income producing work!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - a peculiar little book, it almost seems to be written around a collection of vintage photos which are included in the book.  Jacob's grandfather was sent away by his family at 12, narrowly escaping the fate of the rest of his family at the hands of the Nazis, and grew up in a home for orphaned children on a tiny island in Wales until he was old enough to go fight in the war.  Now, he is an old man and Jacob grew up listening to his stories of Miss Peregrine's home and the other children who all seemed to have magical abilities.  Eventually Jacob comes to disbelieve these fantastic stories. Shortly before his 16th birthday, Jacob finds his dying grandfather with his guts torn out, his dying words to Jacob making little sense until Jacob's birthday when he receives a gift which sends him on a quest to find the place where his grandfather lived.  On that remote island Jacob discovers the truth behind his grandfather's stories and his own peculiarity.

London Is The Best City In America by Laura Dave – a light hearted little story about a sister and brother trying to figure out how to move forward in their lives. Emma, three years earlier, on her way to her wedding with her intended wakes up early in the motel and walks away without a word. She settles in a small fishing village where she convinces herself she is working on a documentary until she has to go home for her older brother's wedding to the woman he has been with for 7 years. On their way to his bachelor party, he confesses that he is torn, that there is another woman.

Illusion by Frank Peretti – the famous magic act of Dane and Mandy comes to a tragic end when Mandy dies in a car wreck leaving Dane bereft of his partner in magic and in life. But when one Mandy dies, another much younger Mandy appears at the fairground where she met Dane 40 years ago. She is confused and frightened wearing a hospital gown when only minutes before she had been having lunch and waiting for her friends to join her before they went to see the illusionist at the fair. Nothing is familiar, she can't find her father who was showing llamas at the fair, and she is eventually escorted to the hospital where she is held for mental screening. There she learns that it is 40 years later than she thinks it is and she realizes if she doesn't leave her memories behind and try to live in the present, she will be locked up forever. One day in the mental ward, the world goes fuzzy and she walks out unseen. Mandy, now going by her middle name Eloise, is found and given shelter by a couple who takes in lost souls and help her begin a new life. She tries to earn a living doing card tricks and discovers she can move and control objects in a manner far beyond the simple magic that she knows. Meanwhile, Dane is trying to learn to live without Mandy and he retires from the world to the house he and Mandy had just purchased on the outskirts of the town where Mandy grew up. When their paths cross, they are jolted to the bone but 60 year old Dane knows his wife is dead and Eloise can't understand why she is so drawn to a man 40 years her elder. Reluctantly, Dane agrees to mentor her and they begin a journey of rediscovery, eventually learning the truth behind Mandy's new powers and her 'death'.

Gideon's Corpse by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – Gideon Crew is sent to talk down a co-worker, a top nuclear scientist, who has gone crazy and is holding a family hostage in NYC. The guy is shot by snipers and they discover that he is hot with radiation and they piece together a terrorist plot to explode a nuclear bomb from the evidence left behind. Gideon and his FBI partner have 10 days to discover the who else, the when, and the where exactly in order to stop them in time. The search takes them to New Mexico where they hit nothing but dead ends or so it seems until an attempt is made on their lives.

The Blue Hour by T. Jefferson Parker – a gruesome tale about a serial killer who drains his female victims of blood and apparently keeps the bodies. A retired older detective who is undergoing chemo and radiation therapy for lung cancer is called in by the chief to help the young typical prickly defensive modern female detective with the case. The female character is always referred to by her first name, the male characters are always referred to by their last names. Pretty good detective story though.

Storm Runners by T. Jefferson Parker – another cop tale, sort of, by the same author as the previous book. Two high school friends go their separate ways when one becomes a cop and the other chooses a life of crime. The detective barely escapes with his life from a bomb blast set by his ex-friend and intended for him, but kills his wife and son instead. He quits and goes on a two year drunk until his best friend finally makes him pull himself together and assigns him to bodyguard a popular weather newscaster when she reports being stalked. Her stalker, though, is a happily married man who had been sent by his ruthless boss to spy on her and her scientific experiments with rain and told to steal or destroy her work. When he is caught, he is ordered to go visit his very distant cousin in prison, the very ex-friend who caused the deaths of the detective's family, and ask for a favor from the gang leader who is still very much in control of his gang on the outside. When El Jefe learns that his nemesis is the bodyguard and that he has fallen for the beautiful weather-caster, he's all in.

The Book Of Mortals: Mortal by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee – the second book in the trilogy (first book review here). Jonathon, the boy whose blood has the power to overcome the virus that stripped humanity of all it's emotions save fear, is approaching his 18th birthday and the day when he will take over as Sovereign of the world from his regent. During the nine years between the end of the first book and this one, he has been hidden away from his enemy (the brother of the woman who would be sovereign who gave her life so that Jonathon might ascend) living with the Nomads. He has also shared his blood (apparently there is only one blood type now) with all the wandering tribes who have joined together into one tribe of 1200 souls who call themselves the Mortals. But his enemy, Saric, who had been brought to a dark semblance of emotional life through Alchemy (science/medicine) has also been busy creating an army of 12,000 Dark Bloods, the first army to exist in 400 years. He resurrects his sister, who has been held in stasis, intending to rule through her and destroy Jonathon.

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy – another wonderful story with her usual cast of characters. A young man who dropped out of school and took a dead end clerical job teeters on the edge of alcoholism. He receives a call from a woman who is dying of cancer and when he meets with her she tells him that the baby, who will be born shortly and whose birth she will not survive, is his. He barely remembers her and their drunken weekend but he does, at the urging of his cousin from America who has arrived for a visit, step up and take responsibility for the child. The small neighborhood and the other characters in the book also step up to help Noel care for the child and to keep the social worker, who is determined to put the baby in 'care', at bay. All the different characters and their story lines all intersect with Frankie. I don't know if this is Maeve's last book before she died this year but I for one will miss her stories about the people in St. Jarlath's Crescent and surrounding areas.


  1. Interesting list! I read T. Jefferson Parker's first novel, "Laguna Heat," when it came out in the mid-'80s, and I liked it. For some reason, though, I've never read anything else by him.

  2. Quite a mixed bag this time Ellen. I read Minding Frankie last year and enjoyed it. Love Maeve Binchey's characters and her descriptions seem so fanciful but are very true of Ireland.

  3. You are such a great reader! With the grandkids around, how do you do it? I mean when do you find time?

  4. I haven't read Minding Frankie - I'm so excited! I don't know why I thought I'd already read all of her books.

    I'll be putting some of these on my wish list.

  5. I tried to read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, but I couldn't finish it. I was bummed because I had such high hopes for this one. It started out good, but wimped out. At least for me. This is quite an ambitious list you have! Good luck. :)

  6. I ahve picked up the first one, but not able to read it yet. Not a Peretti fan on the 3rd. The Blue hour looks scary! Maeve Binchy wrote something I LOVE, can't recall title, so she tempts me in this list.

    Your reading is very genre non-specific:).

  7. This is good. I haven't read any of these! Thank you.

  8. I just happened to randomly come across your blog and now I have gained an extensive new reading list - what a great evening's work. Thank you very much, I'm looking forward to getting stick in :)

  9. The only author I know is Maeve Binchy, all the others are not read here, as far as I know. It's quite peculiar that even countries with the same language do not mix their writers, except at the very top.

  10. I gave the Ransom Riggs book to my 14 year old son. It was weird and looked like the beginning of a series but he loved it. I also gave him 'The Night Circus' which is now his all time favorite book ever. I don't think that he is use to such rich description. He has been reading the young adult and teen fiction but is starting to branch out. I will pass your suggestions on. Thanks Ellen.


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