My favorite author is Isabelle Allende. The first book I read of hers was House of Spirits the story was so well developed that I started reading all her books. She is one of the few authors who can sucessfully write magical realism, romance, politics, memoirs and most recently a murder mystery entitled Ripper.
The book grabed me from the first page:
"'Mom is still alive, but she’s going to be murdered at midnight on Good Friday,' Amanda Martín told the Deputy Chief, who didn’t even think to question the girl since she’d already proved she knew more than he and all his colleagues in Homicide put together. The woman in question was being held at an unknown location somewhere in the 7,000 square miles of the San Francisco Bay Area; if they were to find her alive, they had only a few hours and the Deputy Chief had no idea where or how to begin.”
Super-smart high-school senior Amanda Martín is obsessed with an Internet role-playing game, Ripper (as in Jack), and oversees a group comprising of brilliant misfit teens from around the world as well as her grandfather. Amanda and her cyber-brigade investigate a series of ritualistic murders no one else believes are connected.
Ripper is not a typical murder mystery. The individuals who are trying to solve the case include — but are not limited to - a parapeligic from New Zealand, a recluse, a psychic and a orphan.
I enjoyed the book on two levels:
I loved the characteres and was intrigued how the romances, friendships and family issues would unwind. I specifically was enthralled by the relationship between Amanada and her grandfather: a pharmacist and her best friend.
I felt like a detective, studying the clues to ascertain who was the serial murderer and how the murders were all connected.
I think this book reinforces the fact that Isabelle Allende can succesfully write in any genre. As with all her books, in-depth character develpment is a consistent compenent -- I feel that I have become friends with the characters and I am sadden to say goodbye.
In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg — a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter for The New York Times — gives us a fascinating and entertaining exploration of what current psychology and neuroscience has to tell us about why habits exist, how they work, and how they can be changed. The illustrative examples he employs are utterly engrossing. You will not be able to resist the urge to discuss them with others. What emerges in this book is a brilliant take on what makes us humans tick. Understanding how habits work is central to understanding ourselves and to transforming ourselves and the worlds we inhabit. In addition, although it is not a self-help book, it has more to offer to someone looking to improve themselves than any self-help book I've ever encountered. Want a good shot at achieving your New Year's resolutions? Read and discuss this book. -John
This is truly one of the most amazing books published within the last few years. There has been quite a bit of press surrounding this book, and it is all worth it. The format is a series of questions answered by an autistic teenager, Naoki Higashida. David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, and his wife translated this text from Japanese and did beautiful job. It is an amazing insight into the mind of a young man with Autism, who is aware of his disease, and the struggle he causes for those around him. But, what is most jarring about this book is the pain he feels living with autism, and the struggle daily life presents. I highly recommend this book, it is fantastic, and changes the way one views Autism. -Camilla
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 24th, 2013
Julian Barnes has done it again. He has written another poetic series of essays about the process and toll of grief and loss on the individual. The book is set up as a series of seemingly unrelated essays, which in the final section come together for a meeting of truly poetic prose. Barnes examines the process of grief on a series of characters, and ultimately the grief felt in his own life. While the book feels almost esoteric or hard to grasp at times, that is entirely the point, as loss is a very personal process that one can only understand through experience. I highly recommend this book, and look forward to rereading this amazing work soon. -Camilla
McCann’s latest novel proves without a shadow of a doubt that he is easily one of the finest writers of his generation. Wielding a narrative that will leave you breathless, he leapfrogs through time and continents, between Ireland, Newfoundland, & America. The transatlantic journeys of historical figures Frederick Douglas & American Senator George Mitchell crisscross those of three generations descended from a young Irish maid making her way across the Atlantic to start a new life. Amazingly and beautifully written, take your time reading what will certainly be considered one of the best books of 2013! -AHD
Published: Little Brown and Company - September 10th, 2013
An absolutely stunning literary debut in the tradition of Atwood’s Alias Grace, this story follows the last days of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be executed for murder in Iceland. Kent brings to life the harsh landscape of the early 19th century countryside and the heated love affair that might have eventually led her to murder. A must read for anyone looking for a fresh take on historical fiction. -Acacia
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - January 10th, 2012
While her friends are obsessed with shoes and boys, Hazel is trying desperately to find her way back to normal after a long battler with cancer. Life changes suddenly in the form of Augustus Waters - a handsome boy in her support group who challenges everything Hazel knows about life, death, and love. -Acacia
Published: Random House Trade - January 15th, 2013
As one of the many species on planet earth and Southern California, Karen Thompson Walker’s debut novel, Age of Miracles, got me thinking about how fragile and resilient humans can be. I didn’t realize before reading this book that it was set in very familiar surroundings, San Diego. The descriptive narration of her life and the effects on the natural environment, as the rotation of the planet starts to slow is haunting, but not too far-fetched, which makes it even more intriguing. I found this book a captivating read, very well written. -Phoebe
Fans of Elizabeth George’s mysteries will find much to love in This Body of Death. George’s new novel finds Inspector Lynley back at the Met, working with his team and a new, temporary department head. George keeps the reader guessing how the two storylines intertwined throughout the book are related. In the end, she delivers not only a satisfying mystery but answers to some of the questions her fans have had about her characters. -Jolene
Teardrop by Lauren Kate is the story of Eureka Boudreaux, a girl so driven by grief after her mother’s untimely demise by a mysterious rouge wave, that she becomes suicidal. As she tries to recover, she notices that she is being followed by a very attractive boy with shocking aqua eyes, eyes that give her an odd sense of déjà vu. And, if all this isn’t enough, Eureka’s best friend and confidant Brooks has been acting strangely. In this heart-tugging novel, readers understand the depth of loss, and just how far someone will go to understand the person they lost, even when, after being so close to them in life, they become strangers in death. -Isha, 13 years old
The book Clueless Magee Gets Famous, by Jeff Mack, is the third book in the Clueless Magee series. The series is about a boy named PJ Magee who thinks he is a really good detective, but actually stinks, and his sidekick named Dante who is actually a good detective. This particular book is about PJ losing his prized autographed hat that is autographed by Junior McFiddle, a famous country singer. I enjoyed the book because it was funny and a lot like another series I like, Diary of a Wimpy Kid.- Avi, 10 years old
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - February 25th, 2014
The book Grandmaster, by David Klass, is about a boy who is on the high school chess team, and doesn’t know his father is a retired chess champion. The boy is a freshman in a high school where it’s cool to be on the chess team. He is invited on a tournament, even though he isn’t very good at chess, and he doesn’t know why until he is told it doesn’t matter how good he is as long as his father comes with him and plays really well. The boy doesn’t figure out why his father quit chess until a man tells him that chess made his father crazy, and he once almost killed a person he was playing with. I found that this book was a good page turner that kids who don’t and do like chess would all like.- Avi, 10 years old
Published: HarperCollins Publishers - September 17th, 2013
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman is an interesting book about a time traveling stegosaurus named Dr. Steg and a father trying to get milk to his children. I couldn’t put it down and read it in an hour and half. I liked that Dr. Steg and the father traveled to different periods of time and saw mythical creatures. There were also lots of interesting drawings throughout the book. -Avi Raj-Silverman, age 10
After spending decades trying to write a book about Moses, 97-year-old Herman Wouk has delivered an epistolary tale about, of course, writing a book about Moses. Oh yeah, and making a movie about him too. Although the novel’s central character is Margolit Solovei, a brilliant young filmmaker who can’t quite escape her Jewish Day School childhood, the heart of the story is in the person who must approve the script of the Moses movie; a fictional Herman Wouk. Hilarity ensues, as does a serious analysis of today’s Jewish community and the filmmaking industry as can only be offered by a man who has been at the center of both for nearly a century. -Leslye Lyons
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - February 11th, 2014
Bite-Sized Magic by Kathryn Littlewood is another great edition to the Bliss series, a series about a family of kitchen magicians. In this exciting third book, Rose goes head to head with the villainous International Society of the Rolling Pin, bringers of cavities and obesity. With her parents and great-great-grandfather locked up, it is up to Rose and her brothers, Ty and Sage, to stop the plot to brainwash the entire population of the world. This is going to be quite the sticky situation. This book is great for all ages and boys and girls alike. Between gorgeous Ty, adorable Leigh, hilarious Sage, and sweet, hard-working Rose, there is a character in Bite-Sized Magic for every reader to sink their teeth into.- Isha, 13 years old
Published: Washington Square Press - April 16th, 2013
Mr. Kanon has written another outstanding thriller, in an unusual setting, and with perhaps his most intriguing plotline yet. It is 1946, Istanbul, with the end of the hot war, and the full bloom of the cold war just settling over one of the world's most fought over and sought after cities--by the great powers of Russia, England, the U.S., and (no longer) Germany. Our protagonist is a local sales agent for an American tobacco company, and a sometimes minor messenger boy for the US Counselor. Suddenly he is no longer a minor messenger boy, but the man at the heart of a major intrigue: A double murder, and a plot to smuggle one of post war Europe's most famous fascists out of Istanbul.
As always, the writing is exceptionally good, and those who have been to Istanbul will recognize each scene and street. For those who have not been there, this is a wonderful way to meet Istanbul. This book is highly recommended. -Wes Anson
I loved this book! A classic spy novel written in real time today, involving a journalist whose father was a 40-year employee of the State Department, and as a result, the journalist grew up in awe of the Cold War capitals of Europe, from Budapest to Prague to Vienna. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, he is plunged into a treasure hunt for old spy novels that, as is revealed, hold the key to old CIA secrets. This may sound hackneyed and mundane, but the author spins you along in a state of suspended disbelief at a breathtaking pace. Truly, this is a great modern day spy novel. For anyone who ever admired early John le Carré or Len Deighton novels, this is for you! -Wes Anson
Let me say that Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Roads is one of the most fascinating books that I have ever read. Falling Kingdoms has so many perspectives; there is Jonas, who is enraged at any injustice such as his brother’s murder and or Princess Cleo, who lives in royalty and likes peace. In this book, there is rich and food living Auranos, poor Palesia, and mean and bloody Lumeros. The plot of this book is that Lumeros and Palesia are jealous of Auranos, so they engage in war and overtake Auranos. I think the author was trying to tell people who read this book that jealousy can lead to bad things. I bet that if you read this book, you will not want to put it down. I think overall this book was really good and I give it 4 ¾ stars out of 5! -Matthew, age 11
We waited several years for this latest from Richard Ford – and the wait wasn’t worth it. This is perhaps the slowest moving book that I have ever read. Canada takes roughly 200 pages to get to Canada, and once the young protagonist gets there, nothing much happens. While the setting in northern Montana, and the time period of the ‘50s and ‘60s is well captured, the pacing and plotting is grindingly slow. For those who enjoy a nice slow summer read this is ideal, it could take you well into autumn to finish this one. -Wes Anson
This is a brilliantly crafted thriller/study of human nature that takes place in North Korea. Not only are the plot and the scenes set extremely well, but the characters and the dialogue are enormously and immediately believable. What is most impressive is that all this takes place in the heart of North Korea—perhaps the most opaque nation on earth. While the author is new to me, he is clearly a journeyman in his research and structuring of the story. The protagonist—the orphan master’s son—has many roles in the novel and in the end, takes with him the only thing that is unobtainable in North Korea: Freedom. And he does so in the most creative way possible. The word pictures of the cities, the streets, the prisons, the all-encompassing worker state that is North Korea, are beautifully drawn and, we must believe, terribly accurate. Impossible to put down, this book is a must read. -Wes Anson
Cinder by Marissa Meyer is an exceptional read. It takes Cinderella to a whole new level, a level that hasn't been explored until now. I personally enjoyed this book. It's mix of excitement and "romance" is a great bundle of fun. The classic tale itself is indeed a nice story, but I feel that if both were to be compared, Meyer's would "win". Cinder had me hooked and guessing what might happen next. I like the fact that she kept her head held high when life tried to bring her down. Not realizing what lay ahead of her, she practically walked in the direction of the unknown. Ending with Cinder discovering who she really is and her great responsibility to somehow save Earth left me yearning to read the rest of The Lunar Chronicles. –Elizabeth, Age 14