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.

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

rageagainstBrigid Quinn is 59 and happily enjoying her first marriage to a wonderful man named Carlo. They read together. They collect rocks. They have pugs. Life is good, and Brigid knows it; before marrying Carlo, Brigid led a completely different life. She was an FBI agent who specialized in catching violent criminals. Brigid loved her job, but over the years, the senseless violence perpetrated on innocent victims made her angry. She killed an unarmed criminal, tarnishing her stellar career. So she retired. Lo and behold, she found Carlo, found love, and is determined to be the perfect little wife. However, her old life seems determined to ruin her new one; a man has come forward, admitting to killing a string of women, including Jessica, a rookie agent Brigid once helped train. Now, Brigid is pulled into the investigation, and soon, the violence of the past threatens her in the present. Brigid must not only figure out what truly happened to the young FBI agent; she may have to save another, all while trying to save her marriage.

I very much enjoyed Rage Against the Dying. Brigid is a true career woman: she gave her all to her job and didn’t really give much of herself to living real life. She can’t cook, can’t do small talk, and is so practiced at keeping secrets that she doesn’t know how to share even tiny pieces of herself. She reminded me a bit of Helen Mirren’s character in the movie Red, who pretends domestic bliss but takes spy jobs on the sly. Even though she’s retired, Brigid is still good at her job. Criminals, beware!

Annette G.


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Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

halfbrokehorsesLily Casey, oldest of three children, was a tough young girl. Born in 1903 in West Texas, Lily had to be tough to help her family live daily life. By eleven, she was in charge of hiring help for her father, who raised carriage horses. At fifteen, she rode 500 miles alone on horseback to take a teaching job in Arizona. She learns to ride like a cowboy, to play poker like a card shark, and she isn’t afraid to draw her pistol when necessary. The American West has been romanticized by our movies, TV shows, and books. In Half Broke Horses, we see what life was really like, and honestly, I think that Lily Casey puts all those TV and movie cowboys—men or women—to shame. She is a strong woman, and she leaves an impression wherever she goes. Lily is the grandmother of the author, Jeannette Walls, of The Glass Castle fame. Jeannette wrote this book based upon family stories of Lily’s life, and in doing so, she gives us a wonderful glimpse of the true “Old West.” Her prose captures Lily’s voice, which Jeannette says she still clearly remembers. Lily Casey accepted life as it came to her and dealt her hand as best she could. I will remember her no-nonsense, direct attitude toward life for a long time to come.

Annette G.


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Invisible City by Julia Dahl

invisiblecityInvisible City is Julia Dahl’s debut novel. Dahl is a writer/reporter for CBS news based in New York City. Invisible City‘s protagonist is Rebekah Roberts, a young journalist trying to break into the business as a newspaper stringer. When a Hasidic woman is found brutally murdered, Rebakah’s backstory (born to and abandoned by her mother, a Hasidic Jew, and left to be raised by her Christian father), aligns in surprising ways with her ‘break-out’ news story. Dahl’s pacing is excellent and her in-depth knowledge of the media world adds verisimilitude to this tale. Rebekah Roberts is a compelling character…could a series be forthcoming? I hope so.

Amy P.

 


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Get Off Your Ass and Run! by Ruth Field

runI am a runner.  Although I am not in love with running, I am extremely disciplined and have never, in over 15 years of running, NOT met my mileage goal for the week no matter how busy I am or who I annoy.  But I do need motivating things to think about while running so I read a lot of books and articles on running.  Most are too positive for me, but Get Off Your Ass and Run! by Ruth Field is right up my alley.  Field comes across like a drill sergeant and will obliterate any excuse you have to not run.  She says to get rid of all your diet books and don’t even think about what you’re eating, just start moving.  Field has a whole program and encourages walking at first (for as long as you need to) and then running but slowly — one of the biggest rookie mistakes is trying to go too fast too soon.  When you have run long enough that it has become second nature and you can’t imagine not running, then you can start thinking about what you eat.  Her theory is the fitter you become the more you will naturally gravitate towards healthier foods and cut out the crap. Anyone who can stick to a running regime automatically becomes more goal oriented in other aspects of their lives.  True, I’ve always hated vegetables but eat more now than ever before, and while I might not ever order a salad when I am out to dinner (big juicy steak or cheeseburger please!), I don’t have to because I run.  I am going to buy this book and memorize some passages I can call on when the going gets tough.  Add it to my repertoire of thinking about paralyzed people who can’t run, or 80-year-old marathoners, or those people who run 100 mile ultra marathons, and I want to complain about a measly 25 miles a week?  Please.  Field says (and I agree) to be thankful when your run is “good” but don’t expect it; do look forward to the aftermath when you will feel on top of the world.  She says running will reward you with great nights of sleep, more energy for your work, a better body, and less stress.  Again, I agree and I personally hope I can run until my dying day.

Stacy W.


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Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

halfakingIn Joe Abercrombie’s latest fantasy, Half a King, we meet Prince Yarvi, born with a crippled hand. When his father and brother are killed, Yarvi unexpectedly finds himself king. Yarvi never wanted to be king and feels he is woefully unprepared to take on the role. A king should be able to swing a sword and carry a shield, and he can do neither. How can a crippled king truly lead his people? Quickly, his fears are realized as betrayal takes the throne from him. Now Yarvi must fight for his life while withstanding brutal hardships. Yet, Yarvi endures, and through his trials, his true strengths begin to be revealed. Now on a quest to reclaim his throne, Yarvi may find that half-a-king is the strongest king of all. Joe Abercrombie has written a number of brilliant fantasy titles, but many of them are too grim and dark for me. With Yarvi’s coming-of-age tale, Joe gives us a compelling character and a marvelous fantasy world, but one where hope and possibilities are allowed to live and flourish. Highly recommended.

Annette G.


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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

queenofthetearlingPrincess Kelsea is the heir to the Tearling throne, but she is raised in isolation and taught by a couple who were loyal to her mother, Queen Elyssa. When she turns nineteen, the Queen’s Guard arrive to take her to the capital; it is time for Kelsea to take the throne. She is unprepared for the difficulties that await her; she is not familiar with the political maneuverings of the royal court, nor is she aware of how her uncle, the regent, has been ruling the kingdom. And most notably, she is not familiar with her enemy, the Red Queen of Mortmesne, who possesses control over a fearsome, dark magic. Kelsea learns that the blue stone necklace she wears around her neck is one of the Tearling sapphires, a jewel of great power. Kelsea must learn a great many things very quickly if she is to save her kingdom. With the support of the Queen’s Guard, led by the stoic, yet resourceful Lazarus, she at least stands a chance of surviving.

I have mixed feelings about The Queen of the Tearling. I liked it because Kelsea is a strong female character and is not looking for her lost love to save the day. Her relationship with Lazarus, the captain of her guard, is based upon the growing respect they have for each other and seems likely to turn into a real friendship. However, as a reader of fantasy, I thought the world building needed some work. This debut is the first of a trilogy, and I can hope for improvement in the second book. The movie rights for this book have already been sold, and Emma Watson is already rumored to be signed on for the role of Kelsea. For that reason alone, this book will be a best seller.

Annette G.


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Muzzled by Eileen Brady

muzzledVeterinarian Kate Turner said she’d fill in for Doc Anderson for a year because she thought working in the small town of Oak Falls, New York would be relaxing. Battle-scarred from a relationship gone wrong, Kate needs a change of pace to regroup and heal. But on one of her house calls, she discovers an elderly couple dead and their dogs running loose. The police decide that the deaths are a result of a murder-suicide, but Kate isn’t so sure. The Langthornes would never leave their beloved show dogs without proper care, no matter what other problems they faced. The issue bothers Kate, and she can’t help but snoop. Her questions stir up trouble, and Kate quickly learns that small towns and dog shows are much more complicated than she first thought.

This is a delightful debut cozy mystery. Kate is no-nonsense and likeable as she deals with the lively residents of Oak Falls, both the humans and the animals. I enjoyed the veterinary aspects of the story. Muzzled is a compelling start to what I hope will be an ongoing series.

Annette G.


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Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

mindofwinterWhen I was reading Mind of Winter, I thought I had figured out what was happening every couple pages.  Author Laura Kasischke tells the story of mother Holly and daughter Tatiana stuck at home on Christmas day during an unexpected blizzard.  Holly and husband Eric had been planning a big holiday party, but of course everyone has had to cancel at the last minute because of the weather.  Eric had already left in the morning before the weather got bad to pick up his parents at the airport, and although he’s just a cell phone call away, he hates talking on a cell.  He says he longs for the days of landlines when a phone actually worked all the time, and your calls weren’t constantly breaking up or being dropped.  He has no interest in carrying around a tiny computer like a smart phone.  Holly doesn’t want to hear his complaints so she tries never to call him.  Daughter Tatiana was adopted from a Russian orphanage when she was a baby, and she is now a surly teenager.  Holly seems obsessed with her daughter and clearly wants to be best friends with her instead of being her mom.  At times, Holly is so annoying you’re actually rooting for Tatiana to be verbally nasty to her mom because she’s so irritating.  At other times, you do feel sorry for Holly, especially because she keeps remembering waking up that morning to the thought  that “something had followed them home from Russia.”  This entire book is just one day, and it’s hard to figure out whether Holly is crazy, hallucinating, or Tatiana is truly evil.  The ending will shock you.

Stacy W.


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Deep Winter by Samuel W. Gailey

deepwinterThe bad guy in Deep Winter is Deputy Mike Sokowski, but although some people in town think of him as a bully, no one realizes just how bad he is until one winter night.  Except for his best friend Carl, he hides from everyone his drug and excessive alcohol use, and certainly, most people are unaware that he is growing and selling marijuana.  The victim of a lot of Mike’s bullying is Danny Bedford, a man who is mentally challenged.  The only person in town who is actually nice to Danny is a waitress named Mindy who also happens to be Mike’s on and off girlfriend.  When Danny walks over to Mindy’s house on her birthday to give her a present and discovers her dead, he almost falls apart.  Mike and Carl are there too and say they just found her body, and they tell Danny to stand guard over it while they go and get help.  Of course, innocent Danny is blamed for Mindy’s murder, and that killing is actually just the beginning of one long violent night in this small town.  Couldn’t put it down.

Stacy W.


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Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer

doublewhammyDavis Way (her real name), from Pine Apple, Alabama (not “Pineapple,” for the uninformed) has bad luck with jobs. So when Mr. Sanders, CEO of the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi offers her a job, she is beyond thrilled. But when parts of her job involve wearing disguises, playing video poker, working as a hotel maid, and dealing with slightly sinister security guards (nicknames: No Hair and Teeth), Davis becomes wary of her role in the bigger scheme of things. Yes, they are giving her oodles of cash, but what about the warnings of impending doom from a mysterious, and possibly homeless, cab driver? What about her instructions to stay away, at all costs, from her boss’ wife, Mrs. Sanders? And what about the reappearance of her scheming and vile ex-husband, Eddie? Davis is unsettled, to be sure, but resolute to keep her job at all costs. She takes solace in her new obsession with her absent landlord, Bradley Cole. (He left pictures behind, and Davis may or may not have rooted through all his belongings to find more.) When dead bodies start to show up, Davis’ new career is launched into high gear. Now, in addition to figuring out who is doing all the scamming at the casino, she needs to figure out who is doing all the killing. Twist and turns, laugh-out-loud situations, and a cast of quirky characters make Double Whammy a winner. First in the Davis Way mystery series, the second book is titled Double Dip.

Annette G.


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