Category Archives: Book Reviews

More Books

More of the books that I have been reading this summer.   These two are good ones.

Toyne, S. (2011). Sanctus. New York, NY: William Morrow/Harper Collins.

ISBN 978-0-06-203830-2   $25.99

Release date 9/6/11

A monk climbs up the mountainside of the Citadel of Ruin, site of the beginnings of the Christian church.  Inside the holy mountain is a holy secret, a Sacrament, that the monks protect at all costs.

Kathryn Mann has an ancient prophecy, which predicts the fall of the monk, the rise of the monk to unlock the Sacrament, and bring forth a new age.

So when the monk falls from the top of the mountain there are a great many people interested in why other than the Inspector Davud Arkadian.

Their interests and exactly what it means when the abbot says “all costs” weaves a grand mystery.   If you like mystery, this is a wonderful book to read.



Geda, F. (2010) In The Sea There Are Crocodiles. New York, NY. Doubleday.

ISBN 978-0-385-53473-4 U.S. price $21.95

Tentative on sale date 8/9/11


Enaiat was born and lived in Afghanistan until his mother smuggled him out sometime around his tenth birthday and left him in Pakistan.  From that day on he was responsible for his own life.  How he survived, the jobs that he took as a Shia Muslim immigrant to be able to survive and how he manage to make it all the way to Italy and convince them to give him asylum as a political refugee is the story.

Enaiat’s father was forced to drive a truck for the Sunni bringing back merchandise but when bandits killed him the Sunni said that his family had to pay for the truck and merchandise.  When they couldn’t pay in money the price became the life of a child, Enaiat.

The book is a novel because Enaiat tells it just as he remembers, his story.  The language is simple, childlike, but the story is multifaceted, political, heart-rending, and resilient.  Enaiat is someone you will remember and think about long after you finish reading his story.   This was a quick book to read and could be easily used for secondary classrooms if teachers are interested.


What to read this summer

When I had a job I usually spent at least a couple of hours a day reading.  Some of it was professional reading, but some of it was reading the latest books and keeping up with new authors.  If someone asked for a good book, I could always come up with at least two or more.  Now that I take care of cows, goats, and everything on the ranch is a work in progress it seems that there is less time to read.  However, reading is like breathing to me, so I still find some time no matter how busy to read.  These are a few of the books that I have been reading.

Hart, J. (2011). Iron House.  New York, NY:Thomas Dunne Publisher.

ISBN 978-0312380342   $25.99

Michael and Julian are orphan brothers left to fend for own lives at Iron House.  Michael is the strong one and Julian is the one picked on, beaten, and tormented.  Michael always takes care of Julian and he takes care of it when Julian kills one of the tormentors.  This requires Michael to leave, but Julian is adopted.  Many years later Michael has grown up as the enforcer for a powerful mob boss and Julian as the pampered son of a powerful Senator

When the mob boss dies not only Michael is in danger, but everyone he loves, his pregnant girlfriend, and his long forgotten family, his brother, is also in danger.   There are many different aspects of the story that Michael must dig through in order to discover the truth of why there are dead bodies in the Senator’s lake, why it seems that Julian has lost touch with reality, and why Iron House seems to be involved in all of it.

Hart has written an excellent action book.  This was the first book I have ever read by Hart, but I will certainly look for others by him.  I read an advance copy from the publisher and I do have one suggestion for John Hart, take it from someone who was there, in 1965 it was a Pontiac GTO not a Ford, so I hope that they will correct that before the book is released.

Marr, M. (2011).  Graveminder.  New York, NY: William Morrow.

ISBN 978-0061826870  $22.99

Years ago this town signed a contract with Mr. D to protect all of the inhabitants from disease until the age of eighty.   Mr. D controls the world of the dead under the funeral home.  Bryon Montgomery as the Undertaker is responsible for protecting the Graveminder, Rebecca Barrow.   Both Bryon and Rebecca came into their jobs through family.  Rebecca however was not born into the family, but was the stepdaughter of the son of the previous Graveminder, Maylene Barrow.    Her lack of blood inheritance to the job of Graveminder causes some difficulties with Maylene’s daughter and granddaughters.

If the dead are not taken care of with food and drink by the Graveminder after they die, then they will return and cause problems for the town.  The undertaker and the Graveminder must then contain the dead and conduct them to the world of Mr. D.  In an effort to give Bryon and Rebecca as much normal life as possible they were not told about the contract until the death of the previous undertaker and Graveminder.  This left them unprepared for the dead that have now returned and are killing people in town.

Melissa Marr is the author of the Wicked Lovely series and I was not as drawn into this world as I was the world of Wicked Lovely, but still, she is a good storyteller.  After so many vampire and magic books it is a different kind of magic story, original.

Cumming, C. (2011). Trinity Six.  New York, NY:St. Martin’s Press.

ISBN 978-0312675295   $24.99

Sam Gaddis is an academic who needs money for his daughter’s private school.  He believes that working on a book with a friend will take care of his money woes until that friend dies.  However, Gaddis becomes involved in looking at the notes, working on the book and finding a sixth spy for the Cambridge Five.  The Cambridge Five were young, collegiate men who were recruited to spy for Russia and successfully passed classified information from the British government for years.  Then Gaddis realizes that the people he is talking to, the people involved with the sixth spy story are being killed and his own life may also be in danger.

This book was a great read.  Cummings has just the right amount of dialogue, action, romance, description, and plot twists.  Gaddis is a bumbler, yet so earnest that you can’t help but cheer him on in his quest.   Even the people who are assigned to keep him from investigating the sixth spy can’t help but like him and help him with his search.  While some might say that it isn’t as involved as leCarre or Ludlum, that is exactly why I liked it so much, I could read it without taking notes to remember each character and where they fit into the story. It was just a good book for reading over a long weekend, thanks to the publisher for sharing an advance reading copy with me.

Radiant Shadows

As a child with red hair and a Scotch-Irish surname how could I not believe in fairies?  My fairy world was people by tiny pretty things, mostly female, with shiny wings and they lived in a forest sleeping under toadstools.  My fairy world came straight from Disney.

Disney fairy tales have been cleaned up as the older oral fairy tales were intended for adult audiences and they can be quite scary.  Still children love them and as a kindergarten teacher I started my students out with nursery rhymes.  Georgie Porgie pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry, or Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty dumpty had a great fall.  Someone who scares girls and someone who falls off a wall and can’t be put together again might be a little frightening too.  We read fairy tales like The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood with scary wolves.  We even did a play with the Big Bad Wolf.  The kids loved the nursery rhymes and stories. When I changed grade levels to junior high I had my students work with their own favorite fairy tales and rewrite the endings or put two different fairy tales together, like Hansel and Gretel meet the Three Little Pigs.  I continued to use all these lessons when I started teaching at the university, so I have lesson plans for fairy tales from kindergarten to the university, reading lessons and writing lessons for fairy tales.

My family reads fantasy literature so when I found Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely I was excited to find a new book about faeries.  Marr uses the old spelling of faery.  Wicked Lovely is about the Summer King, Keenan, Aislinn, who becomes the Summer Queen, Donia, a winter girl, and Seth.  Aislinn has been taught by her Grandmother, who raised her, not to attract the attention of faeries and not to let faeries know that she can see them.  Seth, Aislinn’s human boyfriend, lives in a railway yard so the faeries can’t come in because of the iron.  Keenan is determined to make Aislinn the Summer Queen and Donia, a winter girl because she tried to become the Summer Queen and failed is just as determined to keep her from Keenan.  There are other minor characters in this one that Marr writes about in her next books expanding the faery world of Wicked Lovely.

Marr’s faery world is nothing like mine.  Her faeries live in the cities dancing in the parks and visiting places like nightclubs, and tattoo shops, but it is fun and current!  The second book Ink Exchange explains more about Leslie, Aislinn’s best friend, Rabbit the tattoo artist, and Irial, King if the Dark Court.  Fragile Eternity is the third book and it extends the story of Aislinn, as Queen of the Summer Court, who should be in love with Keenan but still loves human Seth.  Keenan finds that he truly loves Donia, the winter girl who defeated his mother Beira to become Winter Queen.  So we have two sets of star-crossed lovers.  Seth unable to imagine growing older as Aislinn never ages finds a way to become a faery, but always in the land of Faerie there are consequences.

I follow Melissa Marr on Twitter, so when I realized that there was a possibility of reading an advance reader copy of Radiant Shadows, book four of the series; I immediately followed the instructions.  How excited I was the day the book arrived in the mail!  Not my first advanced reading copy, but the first that I was familiar with the previous book and have the release date marked on my calendar.   So as soon as possible that day I sat right down and started reading.

I think Radiant Shadows is my favorite.  It is the story of Devlin, keeper of order in Faerie and Ani, halfling daughter of Gabriel, Hound keeper of order of the Dark Court.  As a young child Ani, Tish and Rabbit were hidden safely as their mother was killed in the mortal world.  They were taken in and protected by the previous Dark Court King, Irial.  Ani is now beginning to change, but she needs both the emotions of the Dark Court and skin touch like the Hounds for nourishment, so she is a danger both to mortals and faerie.

Devlin follows the wishes of his High Court Queen Sorcha.  He is her assassin, except when the Queen asked him to kill Ani when she was a young child he spared her life.  Now Sorcha is concerned only with Seth, her mortal son, and is becoming as unbalanced as her twin Bananach.  Bananach wants Ani to kill Seth and Niall, present King of the Dark Court.  All Devlin wants to do is protect Ani from everyone.  Devlin wonders if Sorcha could see a thread of the future in which Ani was a part of all this discord.

Marr has enlarged and enveloped us in her faerie world again.  These are familiar characters if you have read her previous Wicked Lovely books, however it is not necessary to have read the previous books to enjoy this one.  I was lost in the book from the first page.  There is the familiar bad boy, but this time there is a bad girl too, both of course with the complex desire to protect family or friends from the coming dangers so the characters are likeable.  The characters are complex and personable with human needs, wants, and problems.

The book will be released April 20 and I am anxious to see if others enjoy this book as much as I did.  The chat rooms have a little about the characters, but nothing about the plot that I have found.  Marr introduces a new character Rae, a spectral girl that Devlin hides in Faerie, and she does play a part, but you don’t realize how important her part is until the book is almost finished.  Ani is another strong female character perfectly capable of taking care of herself and does fight along side Devlin.  Why they are fighting and with whom, you will just have to wait to read the book, I won’t be spoiling the story.

I love Marr’s world of faerie.  Usually a series writer spends part of the book catching the reader up, but Marr doesn’t need to do that because these books follow stories of different individuals in the world of faerie.  Each book tells us more about Marr’s imaginary world of faerie.