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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Into the Woods, but Don't Take this Book to Grandma's House

In the Woods by Tana French

     This is an award-winning book and I've heard many people enjoyed this book and the author's following books; however, I didn't enjoy this book.
     Rob Ryan is a detective in the Dublin Murder Squad.  Only four people know his true name or past.  When he was twelve, he and his two best friends went into the woods.  He was the only to come out of the woods.  He was covered in someone else's blood.  No one ever figured out what happened.  Now Rob and his partner are assigned the murder case of a young girl whose body was found in those same woods.  Sounds interesting...but the rest left me dissappointed
     Rob eventually screws up royally, hurting who he cares about most.  He doesn't redeem himself; he can't really, it's too late, what's been done 'sbeen done.  After missing some obvious clues, they do solve the girl's murder but with an unsatisfactory conclusion.  No headway is made on the case from Rob's past.  Maybe he turns it around in future books, and maybe we get some clues about his friend's disappearances in the next books.  I didn't care enough about him to find out.

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Series #1)

Fell Short

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall: A Novel     As the name implies, this apocalyptic story jumps back and forth between times after, before, and during the end time.  The book is perhaps more a  novella; it is a very quick read though well-written.  I enjoyed the way the story was told and the end was intriguing.  That said, I didn't really care for the details or plot of the story much because I felt most of it revolved around sex to restart the human population.

Turn of the 19th Century True Crime

Skull in the Ashes  by Peter Kaufman

     I really enjoyed this book.  I feel it has four different parts.  The book captured my interest right away.  We read of the aftermath of the crime and the skull found in the ashes.  Here, we meet the people of the small Iowa town where the crime took place.   This was especially interesting to me since I am familiar with the area, but anyone interested in life at the turn of the 20th century would enjoy this book.
     The second part of the book covers the manhunt for the suspect.  This takes the reader all the way from small town Iowa to a mining town in the Yukon.  It was incredible the lengths taken to arrest the suspect.  In this part of the book, you also learn about private detectives and what their work was like in the 1890s.  
      Third comes the trial.  All the evidence against the suspect was circumstantial, which would make a conviction from this trial groundbreaking.  The interactions of  large personalities and adept arguing were enjoyable.  We also get a detailed look at the newspapers and journalism of this era.  
Skull in the Ashes: Murder, a Gold Rush Manhunt, and the Birth of Circumstantial Evidence in America     Lastly, we learn what prisons were like at the turn of the century.  Again, local knowledge peaked my interest, but I was also fascinating to learn about the penal system at that time.  I learned so much throughout this book while getting to enjoy "the chase".
      There were so many new or relatively new advances that help lead to the conclusion of this mystery, including photography and telephones.  Which the author discusses, but I most appreciated the way the author ended his book.  He came back to remembering the victims in this crime, helping us to remember this was not just a thrilling manhunt and trial, but a tragedy, too.
     I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history, true crime, or mystery, and those who want to get a slice of life from 1890s while being entertained.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Irish Archaeology

The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway Series #1)

I love this topic.  I've recently read two fiction books involving archaeology in Ireland.

The Crossing Places by Elly Giffith

I really like the main character is this book, Ruth Galloway.  She's a bit overweight with unruly hair and a realistic sense of herself.  I'm tired of reading books about pretty people and especially pretty people who don't think they're pretty.  So I was pleased she wasn't a beauty.  She is taken from her job at the university to determine whether a body found in the marshes near her home is ancient or possibly the remains of a girl who disappeared years ago.

Ruth is drawn into the mystery of the missing girl with Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson.  They make a good team.  The mystery allows us to learn about Ruth's past as a college student and professor.  I enjoyed the book.  The characters make some decision I wasn't happy with and the ending has a surprise that will take the series in a very different direction than I pictured.  Despite this, I would recommended it and those interested in Ireland or archaeology should enjoy the Ruth Galloway Series.

Haunted GroundHaunted Ground by Erin Hart
American Nora Gavin is taking a break from her professorship.  She is lecturing in Ireland on ways to preserve ancient evidence especially that found in the bogs.  When a head is found in a local bog, she joins the team led by Irish archaeologist Cormac Macguire to study the head.  A nearby resident, Hugh Osborne, comes to the scene wondering if the body found belongs to his wife who disappeared with their child two years ago.

As the head is studied, Osborne hires Macguire to perform an archaeological survey on his property so he can build on the land.  Macquire asked Gavin to help him.  Gavin wants to discover what happened to Osborne's wife.  She is haunted by the head who looked very similar to her sister who was murdered; and Gavin believes her sister's husband was the one who killed her.  She goes back in forth in her suspicions of Osborne in the disappearance of his wife and child.

I found it a bit hard to like the Osborne family and care about what happened to Hugh Osborne's wife, but the story was interesting.  It served as a good plot to get Macguire and Gavin together so that we can enjoy more archaeological forensic mysteries investigated by this duo.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Back At It

I'm coming back to my  blog.  I has stopped because I was using GoodReads and posting my comments and ratings on my GoodReads page.  However, now that Amazon has purchased GoodReads, I'm not going to participate.  So, I'm going to start posting reviews on my blog again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The End of the Story

No Other Story by Dr. Cuthbert Soup

This was a satisfying ending the the "Whole Nother Story" trilogy.  It contains the same wackiness wrapped in a witty, well-written world.  While this was probably my least favorite of the three books, it was really funny like the others and it contains great vocabulary and serves as a good model of writing well. 
No Other Story

I have only seen poor or luke-warm reviews for this book, but don't be misled.  If you liked the first book, you'll love the ending of the story.  If your kiddos like goofy yet very clever humor then this is a great trilogy to read.

Accidents Can Hurt and Hurt Can Heal

Because of Mr. Terupt by Ron Buyea

This was a good book about bullying and treating your classmates nicely, but not preachy at all.  The story is told in the voices of 7 kids in Mr. Terupt's class.  The kids are united because of an accident.

Because of Mr. TeruptI wouldn't let my elementary kids read this book because I think there is some rather mature material covered in the lives of the students.  One child's mother got pregnant when she was 16 and was kicked out of her family.  Another student's parents don't want her to play with this girl because her mom had her when she was 16 and unwed.  I don't want my kids trying to puzzle all of that out, but for other kids that may be their reality, so it wouldn't be new to them.  This would be an outstanding book for teens who cannot read well.  (I come across that question often at the bookstore.)

A second book is coming out in a few months, and I will probably read it.   haven't read Wonder by Palacio, yet, but hearing from others who've read both if you liked it, I think you will like this book, too.