Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

October Daye, Toby for short, lives an uncomfortable life between two worlds, the mundane everyday life in San Francisco, and the unseen magic world of the Fae. Toby is a half-blood that belongs to both worlds, and her last run-in with the fairy world cost her fourteen years and her human family. 

Living on the fringes of human society, doing her best to avoid the Fae, she hopes that someday her daughter will forgive her for the abandonment that Toby can’t explain.

It’s the murder of the ruler of the fairy kingdom, Countess Evening, that drags Toby back into the world of Faerie to find the Countess’s killer or die trying. Toby’s return to the world she abandoned is painful and dangerous, and she must use talents she can barely control, and rely on allies she can’t fully trust.

Rosemary and Rue is a wonderful piece of urban fantasy, where the world of faeries, pixies, and shape shifters, intersects with the modern world of metal and technology. Not only is it an intricate and well-realized fantasy world, it’s a good solid mystery as well.

Toby is a believable and interesting character and the reviewer recommends this as a great read. Anyone who reads this book will highly anticipate the next in the series.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On Shifting Sand by Allison Pittman

Nola Merrill has never felt settled in her small Oklahoma town and after the death of her mother; she is left to be raised by her detached and often cruel father. The escape she thought she found in her marriage to the new local pastor has now turned into the anchor that holds her there.

Even with two beautiful children and a happy loving marriage, she can’t seem to shake the feeling of discontentment. As the drought and dust storms of the 30’s drift endlessly into their town, so does a former friend of her husband, a man she is inexplicably drawn to.

Their encounters increase and escalade into the ultimate betrayal of her marriage. The following months are a battle with guilt and shame as Nola tries to hold together the image of wife and mother she wants so desperately to be.

While On Shifting Sands was a very well written book, it was not always a comfortable read. Allison Pittman brings to life the grime and desperate thirst of the dirty thirties, and uses the same grittiness to describe the struggles within Nola.

It is often difficult to like the main character, especially when she seems to gather strength only to fall again so easily. The author captures the frustration of most struggles, when what seems easy and straightforward just isn’t. The beauty of the novel is found in the reality of forgiveness and grace, which Nola must learn to accept for herself.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

Sookie Simmons Poole has pretty much just trudged along cheerfully in life under the shadow of her overbearing mother, Lenore. Lenore has become a bit of an eccentric and has managed to get herself in difficult situations more than once, so in an effort to keep an eye on things Sookie has her mother’s mail delivered to her house.

One day a mysterious letter arrives, it looks very official and Sookie reads it fearing another law suit. Sookie’s world turns into turmoil as she discovers that she was adopted as a child, and she questions everything she ever knew about her family.

Sookie’s search for answers causes the story to dovetail setting us on a path to learn about a proud Polish family from Wisconsin. The Jurdabralinskis’ gas station was nearly closed when all the area men joined up during WWII, but the family’s four girls bravely carried on.

The eldest daughter Fritzi was already a great mechanic, having been a professional stunt plane pilot in the 1930s, and when gasoline becomes too hard to obtain due to wartime shortages, Fritzi joins the WASPS.

The WASPs, was a female branch of the U.S. Air Force that ferried planes from the factories to the men’s units. Eventually all four sisters join the WASPS. Included in the story is the historical information that these brave women were not acknowledged until the WASPs official records of the force, which were classified, became unsealed 35 years later.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

Blind is a young adult novel that takes the reader into the world of Emma Silver, a 14 year old girl, who is permanently blinded by a freak accident. Her once safe and secure world is shattered and becomes a dark, scary place, despite the fact that she is surrounded by loving family and friends.

And to add to Emma’s anxiety, just as she is about to enter Gr. 10, one of her classmates is found dead, in an apparent suicide. Emma tries to work through her fears and untangle what happened to her classmate and why, in order to discover what makes life worth living.

Rachel DeWoskin does an excellent job of utterly absorbing the reader into the life and experience of Emma Silver, describing life lived with four heightened senses instead of five.