Review: Bury Your Dead

Bury Your Dead Louise Penny ReviewTitle: Bury Your Dead, Inspector Gamache Book 6
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
Genre: Fiction | Mystery

Synopsis: It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society–where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly four hundred years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

Meanwhile, Gamache is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. “It doesn’t make sense,” Olivier’s partner writes every day. “He didn’t do it, you know.”

As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive a terrible event from his own past before he can begin to bury his dead.

My Thoughts: Oh Three Pines how I love to come back and visit you… After the shocking events in the previous book The Brutal Telling, I came back hoping for closure and somehow Penny knew that’s exactly what I needed in BURY YOUR DEAD but I did not expect her to deliver another tragedy.

I love that the settings change throughout the series and this time Inspector Gamache seeks comfort in Quebec’s capitol city, Quebec City at the Literary and Historical Society.  Penny weaves a lot of Quebec City’s rich, historical past into this book which is not my jam but her writing style still captures the cozy little mystery that I crave.

Penny is an expert at interweaving multiple plots without feeling confusing and jumbled and this is one of the many, many reasons why I come back for more.  This series just keeps getting better!



Review: The Rule of One

The Rule of One Ashley & Leslie Saunders ReviewTitle: The Rule of One (Book One in the Rule of One Series)
Author: Ashley & Leslie Saunders
Publisher: Skyscape (Amazon Publishing)
Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Science Fiction | Dystopian | Young Adult
Free copy provided by publisher.

Synopsis: In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.

She has an identical twin sister, Mira.

For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.

Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying I took a big chance reading THE RULE OF ONE because dystopian / science fiction is not my preferred genre but this one felt believable.  Looking at China’s previous one child policy and the decades long niggling in my mind of a near-future United States ala-1984 by George Orwell, my imagination ran wild as I visualized some version of this scenario playing out.  I’m kind of fascinated (in a tech sort of way) by a society purely operated on an electronic chip identification system, fingerprints and facial recognition coupled with a society that bends towards ‘Big Brother’.

THE RULE OF ONE opens up in a near-future United States governed by a totalitarian class system where propaganda is force-fed, cities are overcrowded and food is scarce.  Guards and tele-screens are always on the look-out for treasonous behavior and citizens shield themselves with simple sunglasses and umbrellas to evade invasiveness.

Once revered as the Governor’s people, the Goodwin’s have fallen from his grace when he learns they have been harboring twins for eighteen years.  Darren Goodwin is labeled a traitor while his daughter’s, Ava and Mira are fugitives of the state on the lam with one mission: to survive.  With the clothes on their backs, armed with the survival box from their dad clutched in their hands and the mantra he ingrained in their heads, “resist much, obey little”, they set off from Texas heading north to the Canadian border.

The Saunders’ twins lend a genuine voice to the alternating narratives of Ava and Mira while capturing the nuances between the two characters – I could always distinguish between the two despite them acting as one.

There was plenty of action and adventure but the Saunders’ did not wrap up with a cliffhanger ending but I’m all in for their follow-up, THE RULE OF MANY set to release May 2019.

Review: Us Against You

Us Against You Fredrik Backman ReviewTitle: Us Against You
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Atria
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Literary | Sports

Synopsis: A small community tucked deep in the forest, Beartown is home to tough, hardworking people who don’t expect life to be easy or fair. No matter how difficult times get, they’ve always been able to take pride in their local ice hockey team. So it’s a cruel blow when they hear that Beartown ice hockey might soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in the neighboring town of Hed, take in that fact. As the tension mounts between the two adversaries, a newcomer arrives who gives Beartown hockey a surprising new coach and a chance at a comeback.

Soon a team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; always dutiful and eager-to-please Bobo; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the town’s enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big game approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt intensifies. By the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after everything, the game they love can ever return to something as simple and innocent as a field of ice, two nets, and two teams. Us against you.

My Thoughts: In my review of Backman’s BEARTOWN I described the book as POWERFUL and when the sequel US AGAINST YOU came out I questioned whether it could stand up to its predecessor.  I can unequivocally say Backman pulled it off.  This book is all about STRENGTH.  It picks up where Beartown left off with the town reeling in the traumatic aftermath that left a sharp divide in the community.  We are plunked into an even darker Beartown injected with a political agenda, death and the emotional force of friendships, marriage, discrimination, rivalry and violence.  I was so, so happy to see my favorite characters return: Kira, Maya, Benji and Amat – it’s like visiting old friends.

I really hope there is a third book in this series that can break my heart and mend it all over again.  You do not have to love hockey or even like it to read these books – that’s what makes Backman masterful in his writing.  I strongly recommend you read Beartown first so you can become familiar with the setting and cast of characters – some you will love and others you will hate.

Review: The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden Karina Yan Glaser Review

Title: The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden
Author: Karina Yan Glaser
Publisher: HMH Kids
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Children’s | Middle Grade
Free copy provided by publisher

Synopsis: Return to Harlem’s “wildly entertaining” family in this funny, heartwarming sequel. When catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbors, the Vanderbeeker children set out to build the best, most magical healing garden in Harlem—in spite of a locked fence, thistles and trash, and the conflicting plans of a wealthy real estate developer.

My Thoughts: My favorite charming and heartfelt family from Harlem (and their adorable pets!) return in the sequel to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street in this year’s middle-grade-must-read THE VANDERBEEKERS AND THE HIDDEN GARDEN.  Every bit as delightful the children come together to surprise an ailing neighbor with a garden as only The Vanderbeekers know how – with creativity and big hearts.

Yan Glaser blends the nostalgia of classics like Little House on the Prairie and Ramona & Beezus with modern day references to urban redevelopment and gentrification which completely resonates with me and my family of five living in the heart of a city undergoing this very thing!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how perfectly the illustrations add to the book’s charm.  Written for middle grade readers but easily loved by mature readers also.  This is the quintessential read-aloud series!

Review: About That Kiss

About That Kiss Jill Shalvis ReviewTitle: About That Kiss
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Contemporary Romance

Synopsis: When sexy Joe Malone never calls after their explosive kiss, Kylie shoves him out of her mind. Until she needs a favor, and it’s a doozy. Something precious to her has been stolen and there’s only one person with unique finder-and-fixer skills that can help—Joe. It means swallowing her pride and somehow trying to avoid the temptation to throttle him—or seduce him.
No, Joe didn’t call after the kiss. He’s the fun time guy, not the forever guy. And Kylie, after all she’s been through, deserves a good man who will stay. But everything about Kylie makes it damned hard to focus, and though his brain knows what he has to do, his heart isn’t getting the memo.
As Kylie and Joe go on the scavenger hunt of their lives, they discover surprising things about each other. Now, the best way for them to get over “that kiss” might just be to replace it with a hundred more.

My Thoughts: The seventh installment in Jill Shalvis’ beloved Heartbreaker Bay Series, ABOUT THAT KISS brings Joe and Kylie, a fiery couple who share a kiss that neither can admit sends a surge of electricity thru them. I pick up Jill’s books because she always serves up a sexy couple with a slow burn undeniable chemistry that turns into a hot and steamy romance. This one is my least favorite in the series so far because the mystery portion just didn’t do anything for me. But I’m all in for this series!

You do not have to read these books in order and each one acts as a stand alone but Jill weaves all the wonderful characters throughout the series so why miss out?!