BookClique

Here we will post our musings on a wide variety of titles. You can comment on our posts and find the titles in our catalog.

Last Night at the Viper Room by Gavin Edwards

imagesThough his film career was cut tragically short by his drug-related death in 1993 at age 23, actor River Phoenix made a lasting impression on critics, audiences and fans with his movie roles and social consciousness.  Gavin Edwards explores both Phoenix’s life, family dynamic and the culture of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s in this perceptive work, Last Night at the Viper Room, detailing how the star’s unconventional and socially isolating upbringing failed entirely to prepare him for the world of stardom into which he was catapulted in his teens.  The author combines his knowledge of the cultural milieu of the times with awareness of his subject’s weaknesses and sympathy for the tragedy of his untimely death in this captivating book.

Alison M.


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The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

imagesThe Winner’s Curse is a phenomenon that may occur after purchasing an item at auction, when the buyer regrets the high price they paid. Kestrel, the daughter of a Valorian general, buys a Herrani slave on a whim. Perhaps it is the defiance in his eyes or the stubbornness of his stance that attracts her, familiar feelings for the young woman. Kestrel is almost of age, and soon must make a choice: get married, or join the military. Kestrel wants to do neither; rather, she longs to make her own choices, to make her own way in the world. Kestrel knows that she has made a mistake the moment she buys the slave, named Arin. The Valorians have conquered the Herreni, and taken over their city. Arin should just be one more slave among many, yet Arin is not. Arin is dangerous to Kestrel, for he is intelligent, resourceful, and he listens to her in a way that few others do. By getting to know Arin, Kestrel begins to question the choices of her people, as well as the choices offered to her in life. In a city soon to be ravaged anew by violence, Kestrel is forced to make some dangerous choices. Her choices may be dangerous to both the Valorians as well as the Herrani, but they may prove to be devastating to both Kestrel and Arin. This enthralling tale of star-crossed lovers is the first book of a proposed fantasy trilogy. I found this book to be very refreshingly told, because more of the story is told by what is not said than what is said between the characters. The verbal fencing that takes place between the characters reflects their intelligence, and demonstrates the game of wits being played, both between Kestrel and Arin, but also between Kestrel and just about everyone else. Kestrel is a strong female character in a world where woman only show their strength through battle. Kestrel wants more, and as she navigates the difficult path laid out before her, we sense that maybe she has a chance to get exactly
what she wants.

Annette G.


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Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor

imagesThe publication of Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal including a hand-written facsimile, follows the young writer while she agonizes about her writing vocation at the University of Iowa in 1946-47. Some 40 pages in length, these meditations have a lot to say about the creative impulse and the role of will, talent, and grace in determining vocation in anyone’s spiritual life. Several drew wry chuckles when read aloud in a discussion group.  For discerning readers.

Amy P.


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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

imagesThis is a first for me: I don’t know how to review this book. I don’t even know how to begin without spoiling this haunting, suspenseful story. But I’ll begin this way: We Were Liars is the story of three teen-aged cousins—Johnny, Mirren, Cadence—and their good friend, Gat. Together, they are the Liars, and they spend their summers together on a private island owned by Cadence’s grandfather. Johnny, Mirren, and Cadence are Sinclairs, part of a rich, distinguished family that lives by the ideals and mottos of their patriarch. The story opens during Cadence’s fifteenth summer on Beechwood Island, the summer she falls deeply love with Gat. During the summer, Cady suffers a head injury, and is whisked away. But what exactly happened? Cady can only remember bits and pieces of the summer, and her family seems reluctant to fill in the gaps. And Cady herself is changed. She has debilitating migraines, and starts giving away her belongings. She dyes her blond hair—a symbol of pride among the tow-headed Sinclairs—black. When she returns to the island two years later, she is resolved to finally discover what happened. As her memories begin to return, the truth of her fifteenth summer begins to be revealed. This is beautiful book. The language is spare, almost poetic. The characters are complex, and I dearly loved the Liars. I never saw the ending coming…I never even came close. And it was perfect; stunningly, achingly, heartbreakingly perfect. This book will stay with me for a long time to come.

Annette G.


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The Lovebird by Natalie Brown

images As a lover of animals and the outdoors I really enjoyed The Lovebird by Natalie Brown. Its heroine, Margie Fitzgerald is an animal rights “nut” that has deep rooted sympathy for any helpless creature. Her intense sensitivity drives her to join H.E.A.R.T. Humans Encouraging Animal Rights Today at the behest of her deeply wounded Latin Professor with whom she has become involved. Through this group she becomes the organizer of a dangerous and illegal plan that gets her on the FBI’s most wanted list for domestic terrorism.  Fleeing the charges she cuts off all ties to her former life and hides in the middle of nowhere on a Crow Indian reservation. It is there while learning the Native American lifestyle and belief system that she really comes into her own, finding her place in the world. I recommend this book for anyone who likes stories about animals and the outdoors, Native Americans and heartwarming love stories.

Rachel P.


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Nowhere Nice by Rick Gavin

imagesIn Rick Gavin’s latest Nowhere Nice crazy meth dealer Guy Boudrot has escaped from prison.  Guy was a major villain in Gavin’s previous work and of course he is out for revenge on every person he thinks had a hand in putting him in prison.  Repo workers Nick and Desmond know they are on Boudrot’s list and they run around trying to warn everyone else who was involved the last time while also trying to stay alive themselves.  Nick and Desmond are also interested in hunting down Boudrot because by the time the police catch up with him, too many people will be hurt or dead.  They can’t get very many people interested in helping them out until Boudrot kills one of his target’s coonhounds and then everyone wants to help-there are people in this world who might deserve to die but you just don’t kill someone’s dog.  The problem with everyone’s help though is that most of it is pretty incompetent.  This is another funny, violent romp through the Mississippi Delta from Gavin.  Love his books.

Stacy W.


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Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd

imagesCharles Todd is a mother-son writing team located in Delaware and North Carolina. They are the authors of the Inspector Rutledge Mysteries featuring the escapades of Rutledge, a British detective practicing in the 1920s. What makes these tales riveting is the presence of “Hamish”, the ghostly PTSD symptom from the Inspector’s ‘war’. In Hunting Shadows, the 16th in the series, Rutledge finds himself in the Fen country apparently searching for a German sniper/serial murderer. I found myself moving back and forward between the World War One milieu of this novel and today’s gun-violence incidents and the PTSD traumas of today’s veterans. While primarily designed to entertain, these novels provide timely insights into the effects of war. Another feature I enjoy is their keen sense of time and place. Reading Hunting Shadows made me very curious to learn more about the British Fen country. The author team also pens the Bess Crawford mysteries.

Amy P.


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Diners, Dives, and Dead Ends by Terri L. Austin

imagesI recently became aware of the new mystery publisher, Henery Press, from reading their title Lowcountry Boil, by Susan Boyer. Lowcountry Boil won an Agatha Award for best first novel, and I enjoyed the book immensely. I chose another Henery Press title, more by the cover than anything else, and found that I liked this book even more than Lowcountry Boil. The book? Diners, Dives, and Dead Ends, by Terri L. Austin, the first book in her Rose Strickland mystery series. Rose Strickland started out at a well-to-do college chosen by her parents. When she decided that maybe she wanted to do something else, her family stopped supporting her. Now, Rose works as a part-time waitress and attends a community college. She’s twenty-four years old, and is still figuring out what she wants to do with her life. However indecisive Rose is about her future, she is very sure about her friendships. When her friend Axton Graystone goes missing, Rose is determined to find him. With the help of her feisty 70 year-old boss, Ma, her anime-loving friend Roxy, and some of Axton’s IT friends, Rose sets off. During her investigation, Rose encounters a sexy bad guy named Sullivan, and she can’t figure out if he wants date her or kill her. As time ticks on, Rose races to find Axton before he meets his demise. I loved this book! Rose is loyal, smart, and fiercely determined to find Axton. The action is fast and the situations dire. The cast of quirky characters add spice to the mix. Rose’s strained relationship with her family adds some depth, and Sullivan adds the heat. And humor abounds. If you like Stephanie Plum, you’ll love Rose Strickland.

Annette G.


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The Bones of Paris by Laurie King

imagesCalifornia writer, Laurie King, is best known for two series, The Mary Russell novels (Mary being the wife of Sherlock Holmes) and the Kate Martinelli dectective series. It’s been 5 years since King’s last foray with former FBI agent, Harris Stuyvesant in Touchstone. In The Bones of Paris she crafts a macabre tale of jazz age France and a string of missing young women. Many of the lost generation appear in the novel along with artists such as Man Ray and book store owner, Sylvia Beach from Shakespeare and Company. It’s a well written detective procedural. Read the book, then explore King’s excellent website (click here) to see the author talk about it and follow its plot along interactive maps of Paris.

Amy P.


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The Big Burn by Timothy Egan

imagesAlthough it might seem like establishing our national parks and wilderness areas was probably a bipartisan no brainer, it was not.  In our modern world, there are people who are ambivalent about conservation but can you believe that long ago there were politicians and many wealthy people totally against conservation?  I was astonished when I read The Big Burn by Timothy Egan which is about Teddy Roosevelt, his friend Gifford Pinchot, and their big dreams and achievements of preserving hundreds of millions of acres and establishing the U.S. Forest Service.   They had to battle Congress every step of the way-Congress refused to provide funds for ranger stations or trails and sometimes even for rangers’ salaries!  Many rangers even had to provide their own tools and horses-some even would take up collections to help pay any new recruits.  It took a monstrous wildfire destroying millions of acres of beautiful forests, frontier towns, and costing many lives before some politicians came to their senses and decided to fund the service.   Still, Congress balked at paying rangers’ medical bills from the fire or any back pay to the families who were left behind.   One Congressman even stated publicly that if it weren’t for the conservation movement and more logging companies were allowed to get into those forests and clear cut, there wouldn’t have been any trees to fuel the big fire and so no lives would’ve been lost!  I came away from this book with a lot of admiration for those early rangers and embarrassed at our Congress for their failure to provide basic support to these good men.  Extremely interesting.

Stacy W.


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Tippecanoe County Public Library * 627 South Street * Lafayette, IN * 47901 * 765 429-0100