Hunting Eve by Iris Johansen
(St. Martin’s Press, 2013, 385 pages)
In this trilogy thriller, forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is still the prey of a vicious killer. She was taken for a reason. Chosen for her skills as a forensic sculptor. Abducted by the deranged father of a serial killer and forced to reconstruct his dead son’s skull from bone fragments. Now Eve Duncan has escaped her captor—and she’s running for her life. Alone. Unarmed. In the mountains of Colorado, Eve must use all of her strength, courage, and wits to survive this madman’s obsession. But Jim Doane is not the only player in the game. While Joe Quinn, Jane MacGuire, and Kendra Michaels search for Eve in the abandoned mining town that could be her ultimate refuge—or her grave—a stranger with ties to her long-ago past is closing in, circling like a wolf, and Hunting Eve.
I’m a big Iris Johansen fan and I couldn’t wait to get started on this trilogy. This is the second book in the series and I was not disappointed. This one was just as good as the first book in the series called Taking Eve. Full of suspense it made for on-the-edge-of-your-seat reading. I could not put it down. I follow all of Johansen’s Eve Duncan books and have enjoyed them all. This was good reading – it moved along quickly with lots of action. I’m getting ready to read the last of the trilogy, Silencing Eve and I can’t wait to delve into it. I’m really looking forward to finding out how it’s going to end. If you like thrillers, you may want to check the Eve Duncan books out. I feel you won’t be disappointed.
The Adults by Alison Espach
(Scribner, 2011, 307 pages)
Initially set in the early 90s we are introduced to teenager Emily Vidal at the scene for her father’s 50th birthday party. When she later stumbles across her father embracing their next door neighbor she’s not sure how to react… especially since it has only just recently been revealed that her parents will be getting a divorce. In the midst of all this Emily witnesses one of her neighbors committing suicide and this (understandably) impacts her significantly.
The Adults follows Emily’s path to “adulthood” while making it clear that there is never really a time when we truly become adults and completely leave childlike tendencies behind. The novel goes from Emily’s first year in high school to a few years beyond college. Emily has struggled to find herself while also being supportive of her parents and pining for a relationship that began way too early in life.
I enjoyed this book, which also happened to be Espach’s debut novel. I appreciated that the author received her MFA from Washington University here in St. Louis. It wasn’t a dense book, but it wasn’t something I found myself racing through. There were parts where I laughed out loud and there were parts I could definitely relate to. We’re in the mind of a young woman as she grapples with the world around her and tries to find her place in it as an “adult.” Something that isn’t always that easy.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
(Quirk Books, 2011, 352 pages)
While I would recommend the book, I didn’t realize it was going to be a series and so the book doesn’t really end, it has a huge “To Be Continued.” The other thing I didn’t like about the book is what makes the book unique, the pictures. I felt that the author tried too hard to incorporate very random strange old pictures into the storyline. I didn’t feel like they added to the novel at all and the pictures sometimes took you out of the story in an awkward way.
“A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.” – Amazon.com
You can also check out Kelly’s review.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
(Katherine Tegen Books, 2012, 487 pages)
I didn’t love this book. The writing was annoying at times and seemed much more juvenile than other young adult books that have become popular, most specifically The Hunger Games. It was hard not to compare these two novels because of their similar themes and the strong female heroine. Divergent fell short. Its story was not one that pulled you in like The Hunger Games did.
You can also check out reviews of this book from Julia and Sadie!
Deep Comedy: Trinity, Tragedy, and Hope in Western Literature by Peter J. Leithart
(Canon Press, 2006, 159 pages)
Deep Comedy is an exercise in philosophy, historical theory, and literary criticism – all guided by theological intuitions. Leithart makes the claim that with the advent of Christendom came a remarkably hopeful or comic understanding of the trajectory of human history. He sees this perspective on history as being deeply informed by and connected to Trinitarian theology. This connection is made through an admittedly nuanced and, at times, difficult to grasp argument about the nature of the Trinity and the view of history that Leithart believes flows from the doctrine. The significance of this kind of “deep comedy” is illustrated through contrasting the essentially tragic take on human history expressed by the ancient historian Hesiod and ancient dramatist like Homer and Virgil with the deeply comic vision of Shakespeare’s plays. Leithart traces this ancient sense of tragedy through postmodern thinkers like Derrida and tries to show that Trinitarian orthodoxy offers an alternative and more hopeful account of history.
Leithart covers a lot of ground in this short book, but I think he manages the task remarkably well. It is interesting to note that though the book is scholarly in tone and format, he claims that it is actually “more an impressionistic essay than an academic treatise” (xv). This upfront acknowledgement helps to mitigate what might otherwise be overgeneralizations about the differences between Greek and Roman theories of history and literature on the one hand and European Christian views on the other. His case is effectively that the peculiar doctrine of the Trinity has had a deep and observable effect on the cultures that have assimilated its story and logic, and I think he argues it brilliantly.
One of my favorite aspects of Leithart’s work is his consistent ability to draw imaginative and fruitful connections between disciplines, and that is precisely what he does in this book. His observations about the differences between the nature of Greek and European tragedies are far from unique or new. However, his explicit connection of these differences to Trinitarian logic is remarkably creative and contains serious explanatory power. I’ve read a lot from Leithart, but this may be my new favorite among his books. The literary analysis of Shakespeare’s King Lear and Twelfth Night in the final chapter is particularly worthwhile, and it should be valuable to Shakespeare fans even if they do not buy the broader argument of the book.
A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York by Anjelica Huston
(Scribner, 2013, 272 pages)
I wouldn’t say that I’m a huge Anjelica Huston fan but I was curious to read this memoir about her life. I didn’t realize it wouldn’t actually cover her life to the present (a second memoir is being published this fall) so that was a little disappointing. That being said, Huston lived in a very unique world. Her father was director John Huston who was responsible for such films as “The Maltese Falcon,” “The African Queen,” and “The Misfits.”
Raised primarily in Ireland it was interesting to get an inside look at what life was like as the child of a famous director. We also get a look at how she initially resisted acting after working under her father and decided to enter the world of modeling. Hearing her list some of the photographers she was photographed by made me request a number of books to check out their work. She also introduces the reader to her love life which started early and revolved primarily around older men… The book ends with Huston in her early 20s in California about to enter the Hollywood life.
There’s no question Anjelica Huston’s life was an interesting one, I just don’t think it came across well in the book. Perhaps when someone does a biography on her later it will be able to better capture her experiences. I didn’t feel really invested in her life or attached at all to any of the people she mentioned. The audiobook was narrated by the author which I thought would be a great way to “read” the book but I don’t think Huston did that justice, either. It really irked me when words were mispronounced (unless there are other ways of saying “turquoise” and “daquiri” that I’m not aware of).
If you’re a big Huston fan you would still appreciate this book. I might still pick up the memoir coming out in the fall because that will better highlight the parts of her life that I think most people will remember and want to hear about.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
(Philomel Books, 2013, 40 pages)
Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me — now a #1 New York Times bestseller!
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.
What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best? Kids will be imagining their own humorous conversations with crayons and coloring a blue streak after sharing laughs with Drew Daywalt and New York Times bestseller Oliver Jeffers.
One of our reference librarians, Julia, ordered this book for our collection here in the library. Wow! Did she make a good choice for our juvenile book collection. A co-worker of mine told me she had ordered it for her grandsons because she liked it so much. So I was curious to see what she liked so much about it. It took me about thirty minutes to read it. And every one of those thirty minutes was worth it! This book is LAUGH OUT LOUD funny! Duncan’s crayons have complaints which they convey in a series of letters. What makes it so funny is that it’s so true. I can imagine each color crayon really having these complaints. Red and blue ARE overworked, pink probably IS ignored by a boy, and beige is right, when was the last time you saw a kid excited about coloring wheat? The author, Drew Daywalt, hits this one WAY out of the park with some of the most clever, touching and hilarious text I’ve ever seen in a children’s book. This is an awesome book!
It’s about a boy named Duncan who has an unexpected discovery one day at school. His crayons have all written him letters of complaint! Grey crayon is tired of coloring in all those large animals–elephants hippos, whales; Black crayon is tired of only being used to outline other colors; Blue crayon is just plain tired; Green crayon is happy enough but he’d like to intervene on behalf of his friends, Orange and Yellow, who are currently not speaking to each other as each claims to be the true color of the sun; and Pink and Beige feel frankly ignored.
A beautifully done book with a story everyone can relate to, even us adults! The concept of crayons quitting their day jobs is imaginative and a great way of storytelling to young and old. I loved the story and the illustrations. I would highly recommend this book for every family with or without children to add to their collection. It will truly put a smile on your face 🙂
Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home by Julie Carson, with the editors of Remodelista
(Artisan, 2013, 400 pages)
My design kick continues… The Remodelista book developed out of the website, Remodelista.com. This is one of the top sites for those interested in redesigning their homes and seeking out inspiration (if you haven’t already you should also check out Houzz.com!). The book is set up in chunks. It starts with “Twelve Houses We Love” that looks at the interiors of 12 different houses from California to England. You see how people have made their space their own and get ideas and inspiration from this section. We then move into some short chapters on kitchens and bathrooms since those tend to be the spaces people remodel most frequently and it’s helpful to get some insight. The book then jumps into “Design Ideas” – here things that can be done in a DIY fashion are highlighted to show you that it’s possible to change your home without doing a complete remodel and bringing in experts. The book ends with “The Remodelista 100,” a breakdown of 100 objects that the Remodelista editors love with the reasons why and where the objects can be obtained. A thorough list of “Resources We Swear By” is provided at the end and is broken down by resource type (paint, flooring, etc.)
This was a good book but the design aesthetic isn’t quite me so I don’t think I got as much out of it as someone else would. There’s an emphasis on mixing high and low materials (think Ikea mixed with $8000 couches) and clean lines with very little clutter. I personally prefer a homier feel, but I was still able to find inspiration with this book (and I’ll admit that the aesthetic highlighted is a very calming one) and I wrote down a TON of resources and websites that I want to check out (hopefully they’re not out of my price range). Check out the Remodelista site and see if the design aesthetic matches with yours, if so you’ll enjoy this book 🙂 FYI, actress Julianne Moore is a huge fan of the site and she wrote the forward to the book.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
(Katherine Tegen Books, 2012, 487 pages)
Divergent is the second book to be discussed in SCC’s Between the Covers book club I’d been eager to see what all the fuss was about. People have been talking about the Divergent series for a while since the Divergent film just came out in theaters (AND the book club is going to see it on Wednesday night!) and the trilogy was only just finished this past October with the release of the final book, Allegiant.
Set in a desolate future version of the United States Beatrice (Tris) is about to turn 16 and with this entry into adulthood she is going to choose the faction she will join. There are five factions you can be a part of: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. Each faction places emphasis on certain characteristics that they feel are most important in keeping the peace and maintaining a stable society. Beatrice was born into the Abnegation faction were the focus is on selflessness. She has always struggled with this quality and is scared and curious to see what faction will be recommended for her. At 16 each individual is given an assessment to see which of the 5 factions will be the best fit. Beatrice, however, breaks the mold when it is revealed that she is “Divergent,” meaning she doesn’t neatly fit into any one category.
The choice Beatrice makes isn’t an easy one and she has to undergo a rigorous training process to ensure that she will truly be accepted into the faction she selected. Beatrice also has to keep her “Divergent” status a secret. No one will explain why, it is just made very clear that being Divergent is somehow a dangerous thing to be. As Beatrice grows and changes to fit into her new faction the tension that has slowly been building between a few of the factions starts to come to a head. Beatrice is going to have to fight to save her family and herself, but what she’s up against is formidable.
This book took me a little bit to get into, but once I did I sped through it. The book has a similar premise and vibe to The Hunger Games which I enjoyed more, but I see the appeal of Roth’s series. I’m curious to see where things go but I’m also a little nervous since I heard a lot of people were surprised at the direction Roth went in the final book. I can’t wait to see how the book comes across as a film!
You can also check out Sadie’s review of the book 🙂
Help for the Haunted by John Searles
(William Morrow, 2013, 368 pages)
Sylvie’s life has drastically changed since her parents were murdered in an old church after being sent there by their oldest daughter Rose. Her parents used to help haunted people and lost souls find peace and were considered strange and outcasts in town. Now Sylvie is still an outcast but Rose is her legal guardian who seems to have no interest in Sylvie’s well-being. Sylvie slowly starts to learn details of her parents work and the last night they were alive as she searches for the truth behind all the mysteries surrounding her parents.
This was a creepy read throughout as Searles jumped between chapters of Sylvie’s life before and after her parents were murdered. Sylvie had never questioned her parents before as she always wanted to please them and be their good daughter. Now that they’re gone, Sylvie wants one last chance to do right by her parents. Sylvie is a very smart girl so it wasn’t surprising when she put everything together even though that never seemed like her goal in the book. I have to say, though the book did drag a little at times, the scene were Sylvie finds out everything is really well written and makes up for the slowness of the read.