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.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

imagesWhen London school teacher Eliza Caine’s dad dies, she answers an ad for a governess position in Norfolk.  There is no reason left for her to stay in London and she doesn’t know if she could anymore anyway, at least financially.  Eliza is very impressed with the estate in Norfolk and the children seem great but where are the parents?  She is instructed that solicitor Alfred Raisin takes care of everything and she will collect her wages from him.  At first, Raisin gives vague answers to Eliza’s questions and there’s something in the house that seems to resent her presence.  After Eliza finds out there have been 6 governesses in the last year, she is determined to find answers and protect the children at all costs.  This House is Haunted by John Boyne is a nice, clean, ghost story set in 1800s England.

Stacy W.


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Blackstone and the Endgame by Sally Spencer

imagesI love ‘period piece’ mysteries, especially those set around WW1 or WW2.  Sally Spencer’s Inspector Sam Blackstone mysteries, numbering 9 to date, are set between Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 through World War 1.  In Blackstone and the Endgame, our Inspector is ‘set up’ to intercept German espionage.  A great deal of the action also takes place in Russia where the political history is intense and fascinating.  I do plan to ‘go back’ and read 1-8 and eagerly await other entries in this series.  Spencer is also the author of 27 stand alone mysteries along with the Inspector Ruiz series set in Spain, the Charlie Woodend and Monika Paniatowski mysteries, 3 historical sagas and 2 novels.   Prolific and fun light reading.

Amy P.


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Snapper by Brian Kimberling

imagesBrian Kimberling’s Snapper is so easy to identify with!  The main character, Nathan, is a Hoosier who has a love/hate relationship with Indiana and its rural areas and college towns.  After college, Nathan gets by doing wild bird research in the southern Indiana woods for various government agencies and professors.  He carries a torch for a girl named Lola who indulges him once in a while when she is between boyfriends (and sometimes when she has one) but only sees him as a friend.  Evansville and Bloomington figure heavily in this story and any Hoosier who has spent any of their college years in either city should read this book.  When Nathan suffers partial hearing loss due to misadventure he can no longer work in the field as he can no longer identify wild birds by their song.  Friends suggest pursuing a doctorate in ornithology but Nathan knows that afterwards that will mean sitting inside at a computer making sense of data others have gathered in the field and he doesn’t want to do that.  Instead he ends up in Vermont at a raptor rehabilitation center but secretly pines for his long isolated days in the Indiana woods.  Apart from all the familiar references (Lafayette is mentioned several times), this book had me frequently laughing out loud and saying “Right on!”.  Hilarious and a fast read.

Stacy W.


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The Southerner’s Handbook by David Dibenedetto

imagesThe editors of one of my favorite magazines (Garden & Gun) have come out with a book entitled The Southerner’s Handbook which is a really good read.  There are essays on manners, hunting, gardening, clothing, food, drink, etc. by different authors.  My personal favorite was “Sweet Tea: A Love Story” by Allison Glock.   I have the same memories as Glock of soda not being allowed in our house but sweet tea was fine-even though as the author says  it’s “akin to drinking icing”.  Read this for a more in depth understanding of southern novels and life.

Stacy W.


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Crossing the Borders of Time by Leslie Maitland

imagesIt’s 1942 and at a critical juncture in this biographical work, the author’s mother, an 18-year old German Jew from Frieberg, leaves Marseille by ship for Cuba.  Her French Catholic lover rows after her until she disappears.  It’s an image that’s easily trivialized; we have seen it in countless movies.  How the characters got to that position and what happens in their future lives forms the rich tapestry of this refugee biography. The author, Leslie Maitland, is a former award winning investigative reporter for the New York Times, and she turns those research and investigation skills towards her own family history, especially that of her mother.  Crossing the Borders of Time is both detailed and riveting.  You gain a real sense of not only the horror of those times, but the ambivalence that was also shown towards the Jewish community.  There is much insight into life in pre-war Germany and in occupied France.  The interlude in Cuba is also vividly drawn giving you a sense of all the influences that informed the adult Janine Maitland’s eventual life in New York.  Highly recommended.

Amy P.


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The Thicket by Joe Lansdale

imagesI have recommended Joe Lansdale many times before, especially his Hap and Leonard series (see Vanilla Ride) and once again he has written a laugh out loud, violent, and seemingly ludicrous book.  I do not know where he gets his ideas but I kept putting off reading The Thicket because it sounded so ridiculous but when you read it, it makes perfect sense.  In the early 1900s, Jack Parker, his grandpa, and his little sister Lula are on their way to live with a faraway aunt after Jack’s parents have died.  On the way, they encounter some evil criminals who kill grandpa and kidnap Lula.  Innocent he may be but Jack knows that Lula’s time is now going to be spent being gang raped and that he has to rescue her.  He starts out very naïve and doesn’t want to harm anyone but as the story moves along he realizes how unrealistic that is.   He first tries to enlist law enforcement’s help but gets nowhere so he teams up with a midget named Shorty, a gravedigger named Eustace, and a hog named Hog.  They set out on horses after the evil gang with Hog trotting along beside them.  You can see how crazy this sounds but somehow it works and is believable.  Lansdale hits it out of the park with this one.

Stacy W.


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The Creation of Anne Bolelyn: a New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo

imagesThere has been no dearth of books about, and fascination with, Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII of England’s second wife. Of the 16th -century monarch’s six wives, Boleyn was the first of two to be executed. Whether her death was justified or based on conspiracy and false charges is a matter still widely debated today. Nonfiction biographies, historical novels and romances about Anne Boleyn have appeared for many years. She is even the subject of plays, movies, and at least one opera. Yet most of what we think we know about her comes from the accounts of other, often biased, observers and chroniclers. Almost nothing remains in her own words and as a historical figure, she has been maligned by writers contemporary and otherwise with different agendas–much like, for example, Richard III. Was she a viper or a saint, or somewhere in between? The Creation of Anne Bolelyn surveys many of the more popular novels, as well as films and television productions in which Boleyn appears, discussing in welcome detail more recent productions such as The Tudors, and how Anne is presented in each. On the less positive side, at times the author intrudes herself into the book to too great an extent as the book progresses, and occasionally talks down to her readers . With the vast number of people deeply interested in Anne Boleyn, it should occur to her that perhaps some of them have as wide a scope of knowledge and reading experience as hers, if not wider.  For example, she comments regarding the 2003 film Henry VIII (starring Ray Winstone) calling it “a pretty decent TV movie that no one remembers anymore” (p. 197—well, I remember it and have it in my DVD collection) and frequently presents her own opinions as facts. Aiming toward a wide audience excuses some of this, but more thoughtful wording choices could have helped her avoid such over-generalizations. But overall, this book approaches its subject in a new and fresh manner, focusing on angles that have not been covered in previous books. It is an intriguing addition to the many available materials.

Alison M.


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Five Days at Memorial-Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink

imagesImagine that Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane, has just ravaged the hospital in which you took shelter. Now the flood waters are rising, there isn’t any power, it’s extremely hot, and you feel as if you have been abandoned. Who decides who leads? Who lives? Who dies? Who suffers? Is anyone ever qualified to make those decisions? New York Times rated Five Days at Memorial-Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Pulitzer Prize winning author Sheri Fink as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013. This is the true and tragic story of what happened in New Orleans at Memorial Medical Center in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in August of 2005. It is obvious the years of research and interviews that Sheri Fink put into creating this book. She does a great job of trying to remain neutral and get multiple perspectives of the tragedy. This is a great read for a book group. There are plenty of ethical and moral dilemmas for
conversation. The take home message for me after reading this book is to follow the Boy Scout Motto, “Be prepared.” Create procedures and guidelines for “what if” situations and be prepared to alter those guidelines when unpredictable situations arise.

Marlene K.


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The Martian by Andy Weir

imagesMark Watney is a funny guy. A funny engineering botanist guy who just happens to work on Mars. Mark works with five other scientists on Mars. When a storm threatens, the team, at risk of being stranded on Mars without a return vehicle, makes the decision to abort the mission. They flee and blast off. And, unfortunately for funny guy Mark Watney, they leave him behind. The Martian by Andy Weir is about Mark Watney as he attempts to survive his ordeal on Mars. Mark’s role on the Mars team was to “fix stuff,” and boy does he get the chance to do a lot of fixing. In full MacGyver mode, he cuts and tapes and seals his way along, adding to his survival time. As he grows potatoes, listens to disco music, and watches old reruns of “Three’s Company,” we realize that the real reason Mark Watney continues to survive is that he is a funny guy: his ability to see the humor in all his various situations is the reason he is able to surmount them. The Martian contains all that is good in a story; we have a stalwart hero in Mark, a worthy villain in the living conditions on Mars, and the support of the cheering masses of the people of Earth. We have science, we have engineering, we have admirable use of duct tape, and we have lots and lots of humor. Mark Watney embodies all that is best in humanity, and in the attempt to save him, the humans of Earth shine as well. A brilliant story, brilliantly told.

Annette G.


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King and Maxwell by David Baldacci

imagesSean King and Michelle Maxwell are ex-Secret Service agents, now turned private eyes. The story begins with a chance meeting with a teenaged boy, running through the streets. The pair follow, as Michelle wants to make sure the boy isn’t in any trouble. Turns out, the boy, Tyler Wingo, has just learned that his father, an Army Special Forces officer, has been killed in Afghanistan. Something about the details of the Sam Wingo’s death seem off to King and Maxwell, and when Tyler gets an email from his dad, sent after he “died,” the young man asks the duo to investigate. What starts out to be a simple investigation turns into something much more when they draw the attention of some powerful government agencies that have deemed Sam Wingo to be a traitor. With the help of Edgar, their friendly computer whiz, and Dana, Sean King’s ex-wife, King and Maxwell embark on a mission to clear Sam Wingo’s name, uncover the true traitor, and keep everyone alive while doing so. This is my first David Baldacci book, and so this is my first exposure to King and Maxwell. I very much enjoyed the book, as I enjoyed the relationship between the two detectives as well as the fast-paced action of the story. Baldacci’s writing is confident, and he deftly weaves the various political plot threads together in a way they all make sense. I do think I’m going to have to read the previous book in the series, as I would love to read Edgar’s back story; he seemed a fascinating character.

Annette G.


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