Monthly Archives: February 2014

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

This is a first for me: I don’t know how to review this book. I don’t even know how to begin without spoiling this haunting, suspenseful story. But I’ll begin this way: “We Were Liars” is the story of three teen-aged cousins—Johnny, Mirren, Cadence—and their good friend, Gat. Together, they are the Liars, and they spend their summers together on a private island owned by Cadence’s grandfather. Johnny, Mirren, and Cadence are Sinclairs, part of a rich, distinguished family that lives by the ideals and mottos of their patriarch. The story opens during Cadence’s fifteenth summer on Beechwood Island, the summer she falls deeply love with Gat. During the summer, Cady suffers a head injury, and is whisked away. But what exactly happened? Cady can only remember bits and pieces of the summer, and her family seems reluctant to fill in the gaps. And Cady herself is changed. She has debilitating migraines, and starts giving away her belongings. She dyes her blond hair—a symbol of pride among the tow-headed Sinclairs—black. When she returns to the island two years later, she is resolved to finally discover what happened. As her memories begin to return, the truth of her fifteenth summer begins to be revealed.

This is beautiful book. The language is spare, almost poetic. The characters are complex, and I dearly loved the Liars. I never saw the ending coming…I never even came close. And it was perfect; stunningly, achingly, heartbreakingly perfect. This book will stay with me for a long time to come. This book does not come out until May 13th, 2014, but when you see it in your library and in your bookstores, you will remember this review, and you will pick it up. I am absolutely sure that you will love Cady Sinclair and the Liars as much as I did.

I received my advanced copy from Edelweiss at abovethetree.com.
We Were Liars, forthcoming May 13, 12014

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The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon

Most of us have lost loved ones, and we have grieved the loss. Some people carry the weight of their grief far longer than they should, and a very few let their grief consume them. Sara Harrison Shea is such a person. When her eight-year-old daughter, Gertie, is found dead at the bottom of a well, Sara is overwhelmed by her grief. But for Sara, Gertie’s death may not mean an end; for Sara may know of a way they can still be together. Yet, what is the cost of Sara’s knowledge, and how far will other people go to get it?

“The Winter People” is a ghost story set in West Hall, Vermont, a quiet little town whose quaint appearance hides dark secrets, all of them centered on a local landmark called the Devil’s Hand. Sara Harrison Shea, from the past, is the keeper of the secrets, and she passes them on in her diary to those in present day. Ruthie and Katherine both learn Sara’s secrets, and together they learn a bitter truth: knowledge of dark secrets demands payment, and the payment may change more than just you own life.

Jennifer McMahon is a master storyteller and she deftly drew me into her story. The story is compelling, and I literally couldn’t stop reading it. Creepy, and thought provoking, this is a book that maybe you don’t want to read in the dark.

The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon
Publisher: Doubleday
Published: Feb. 11, 2014
ISBN: 9780385538497

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Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

If you’re a Gold, you rule. If you’re a Pink, you love. If you’re a Yellow, you heal. If you’re Red, you labor. Darrow is a Red, living underneath the surface of Mars with the rest of his people, toiling to mine helium-3 from the depths so that one day, Mars might become habitable. Under the surface of Mars, Life is brutal, and death comes early. Yet, the Reds toil on, because without their vital work, Mars remains a lifeless place, uninhabitable for future generations. Darrow, a Helldiver who operates one of the giant drilling machines, is content with his life. He excels at his job, he loves his clan, and he adores his wife. Then, one day, his wife is killed, ordered hanged by command of a Gold. It is then that Darrow learns a terrible truth: Mars is already habitable, home to a thousand cities. The Reds are little more than slaves. To save his people from eternal servitude, Darrow must become a Gold and find a way to bring their rule to an end.

Red Rising is going to be compared to the Hunger Games. I haven’t read the Hunger Games, so I can’t say if the comparison is fair. For me, this book was closer in tone and style to “Blood Song,” by Anthony Ryan, a book I highly recommend.  Red Rising is a commentary on society, sure, with its class structure determined by color. But it’s more than social commentary; it’s also a battle book, where strategy, loyalties, strength, and skills all play a role. Add in an excellent writing style, fast-paced action, and a wealth of strong characters, and you have a heck of a book.

First of a trilogy, the second and third books cannot come out too soon. I am eager to read how Darrow, a Red in disguise, continues to rise among the unsuspecting Golds. Will he be able to remain a Red at heart, or will he have to become something more?

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Brilliance, by Marcus Sakey

Brilliance, by Marcus Sakey

Brilliance, by Marcus Sakey

Nick Cooper is a special government agent who tracks down terrorists, and when the story opens, he is hot on the trail of a very talented computer hacker. Sounds like it could be the opening of almost any thriller available today, right? Wrong. The computer hacker is a Brilliant…a person gifted with extraordinary talents well beyond those of normal humans. What is a Brilliant? Think the powers of an Idiot Savant–the ability to compute the value of Pi out to 1000 decimal places without effort–but without any of the other mental handicaps. And for some reason (maybe the emergence of Big Hair and rock bands), Brilliants begin to be born in the 1980’s; their arrival means a great change in the world. How do you deal with a man who can make $300 billion in the stock market as easily as the rest of us add two plus two? How can you fight against people who can out-think, out-plan, and out-maneuver you without even trying? Can society as we know it survive? The answer to this is complex and thought provoking. Is this a literary social commentary? No, this story is the X-Men, without the spandex, crossed with a Tom Clancy political thriller.

Nick Cooper is a Brilliant himself; he can tell, from minute physical “tells,” what a person is going to do next; run, dodge, kick or punch. The longer he watches someone, he can also get a good sense who they are; liar, thief, assassin, murderer. He is very good at what he does. Yet, for all his talent, he is soon to find out that he is simply a pawn on a chessboard; who the players are is the real question. When a terrorist strikes and the New York Stock Exchange is destroyed, hundreds are killed. In an attempt to finally catch the man responsible, Nick will go deep undercover. It is then, he meets Shannon–the girl who can walk through walls–and through Shannon, Nick begins to understand how deep the rabbit hole goes.

This story is a page-tuner–fast paced, with compelling characters. The first of a trilogy, I look forward to the next book.

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