Posted in book review

3 Fast and Fun Summer Reads

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a smart, suspenseful mystery featuring the stereotypical high school cast: The Brain, The Beauty, The Dealer, The Athlete and The Outcast. But, as we all know, stereotypes rarely hold true. And boy are they busted here. Each chapter reveals another secret from another point of view, moving seamlessly between characters as the plot unfolds. Is it murder or an accident? You won’t know until the final pages… Clever writing and a good cast of characters combined with a suspicious death and lots of secrets make this the perfect summer read.

 

Secrets in the Snow by Michaela MacColl is a cozy historical mystery for Jane Austen fans, featuring Jane Austen as the main character. Based in part on real people in Ms. Austen’s life, the characters are well-drawn and, of course, the conversation is witty. It’s a fun read that includes a brooding yet handsome man, a little bit of love, and a murder to solve. Best of all, it’s set in the middle of winter–the perfect choice for a hot summer day.

 

I could not put down The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. What a fascinating story told from the point of view of a teenager with short-term amnesia. Yes, I know what you’re thinking — it’s gotta be a pretty short story. It’s surprisingly not. Instead it’s a complicated mystery/coming-of-age novel with a wonderful cast of characters. No dead bodies but plenty of surprising twists as Flora tries to unravel secrets from her past while simultaneously dealing with love, friendship, family and, of course, no memories. Plus, a road trip! Highly recommended!

 

 

 

Posted in book review

What the Book Club is Reading Now: Historical Fiction

November is Historical Fiction month this year. Here are some of the titles students have picked to read:

lightAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

If you haven’t read Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the lives of a blind French girl and a young German soldier in World War II, stop what you’re doing and go read it now. A beautifully written story that captures both the realities and emotions of the time, this is one historical novel you don’t want to miss.

gravesThese Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

New York in the 1890s — what a perfect setting for a historical mystery: the gilded age for the rich side-by-side with appalling living conditions for the poor, the beginning of new freedoms for women and the middle class smack up against the restrictions of a structured society. In the middle of all this lives the rich and privileged 17-year old Jo Montfort whose life is upended when her father kills himself. Jo always has conformed to societal norms while secretly wishing for a career as a journalist just like the famous Nelly Bly. Slowly rebelling, she starts to question the story of her father’s death. As she sets out to uncover the truth, she learns some shocking truths about the real world, meets some interesting characters–including the dashing but very ineligible reporter Eddie Gallagher–and becomes involved in some very scary situations. In the end, Jo has to decide if she’s willing to risk her reputation and even her life in order to vindicate her father’s reputation.

baldwingrayA School for Unusual Girls : A Stranje House Novel by Kathleen Baldwin

A fun mashup of historical fiction, magic and steampunk reviewed previously here.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Set in Siberia, the award-winning story of 15-year old Lina’s harsh life in prison camp is reviewed here.

Other Titles include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See; The People of the Book by Geraldine March; Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury and, hopefully, more to come…

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Posted in book review

Spring Reads – Action & Suspense to Give Your Brain a Break

Here are some fun books that you definitely should add to your spring reading list. Unless you don’t like great stories, likeable characters, fun plot twists, and lots of action. In that case, you probably should skip these.

springbooks

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Elizabeth Grey might be female, rather delicate looking, and just a tad insecure but she’s also one of the best witch hunters out there. If you’re smart, you might not want to turn your back on her. On the other hand, if you have her loyalty you can be sure that she has your back. The question, in this plot-twisting magical thriller, is who should Elizabeth give her loyalty to? The good guys–who might be the bad guys? Or the bad guys–who might be the good guys?

I don’t want to give too much away here but I can say The Witch Hunter delivers. With a fast-moving story line, believable characters, chase scenes, lots of magic, a little bit of romance and some credible suspense, how can you go wrong? Plus, even though it’s a series (The King Slayer is coming in June), the ending is satisfying with the promise of more to come–no dreadful cliffhanger leaving you swinging in the wind. And, can I just say thank you for a normal name for the main character?

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Solara Brooks (you see what I’m saying?) is heading just about as far away as one can get–to the outer galaxy, in fact. Unfortunately, she has a little problem–no money. And another little problem–a criminal record. But she does have a job waiting if she can just get transport in exchange for work. Well, as you can imagine, she does get transport. The only problem is her new boss, Doran Spaulding, has never liked her and is planning on making her life miserable. The trip takes an interesting turn, however, when Doran threatens to drop her off in the middle of the journey with no resources. Suddenly, a miserable but necessary space flight turns into a dangerous road trip through the galaxies and Solara finds herself part of a starship crew that may or may not also be on the run. Lots of plot twists combined with space pirates and other dangers make this a fun SciFi read and, hopefully, the start of a new series.

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

Lady Truthful Newington (fortunately known to her friends as “Newt”) is about to celebrate her 18th birthday and be introduced to London society. Naturally, she’s excited, especially because she finally will see the amazing and magical Newington Emerald, a family treasure that she will inherit when she turns 25. Her birthday dinner goes a bit awry, however, when the Emerald gets stolen and her father becomes ill. Not one to sit around and wait, Newt decides that she needs to take matters into her own hands to get the Emerald back. Needless to say, events do not go quite as she plans and she gets herself into a series of magical mishaps that just seem to get worse by the day. Fortunately, there are several cute guys involved, not to mention subterfuge and sorcery. This is a magical romp of a story that is perfect for spring reading. Enjoy it with tea and crumpets on the side.

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Georgiana likes science and she’s curious, two personality quirks that just are not acceptable in London society in Regency England. After she accidentally burns down the stables, Georgiana is banished to Stranje House where girls go to be disciplined into acceptable behavior. After only an hour in the house, Georgiana realizes she needs to escape. But her curiosity soon gets the best of her. Is Stranje House what it’s supposed to be? If so, then why are there secret passages and, apparently, secret meetings going on? And what about her fellow inmates/students who seem to have even more unusual “personality quirks” than Georgiana has? You’ll  have to read it to find out, but you’ll definitely enjoy this fast-paced genre-bending historical fiction/suspense/paranormal/gothic novel.



All of these books feature strong female leads supported by a well-developed cast of characters, both male and female. Combine that with fast-moving plots and quirky characters and you have some fun reading–perfect for students who want to take a break from tests and research papers in the spring.

Submitted by Ms. Bing

Find all of these books and more in the BEHS Library!

Posted in book review

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

books-3Sometimes you just gotta do something different. That’s not exactly what Zoe was thinking when she first met Digby or when she next met Digby, or even when she tried to hide from Digby but, apparently, that’s what life was thinking. Or maybe life was just in the mood for a big practical joke–with Zoe right in the middle of it. Or maybe it wasn’t life at all–maybe it was all Digby.

Zoe’s life has been in a bit of upheaval. Her parents recently divorced, she and her mom moved, and she’s in a new school for junior year. So, when she uncharacteristically cuts school one day, you can’t really blame her. Unfortunately, that landed her in detention where she met Philip Digby, the somewhat quirky, a little bit odd, somewhat cute, a little bit of a big pain classmate, who seems destined to drag her into trouble. Before she knows it, Zoe is investigating a missing persons cold case along with a slew of other unusual happenings around town. There are explosives involved, more cutting class, some lying that she’s really sorry about, and what appears to be a very strange goings on at the neighbor’s house. There’s a lot of mystery, a lot of funny situations (if by funny, you mean embarrassing), and more suspense than you would think.

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly is a nice mash-up of Ferris Bueller meets the Scooby-Doo gang (without the dog and the ghosts). A good, fun mystery with characters you will love.

Genre: Mystery

Submitted by: Ms. Bing

5 stars!

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Find Trouble is a Friend of Mine in the BEHS Library

 

Posted in book review

The Invisible by Mats Wahl

Mats Wahl’s The Invisible, published in 2007, tells the story of Hilmer Eriksson, 141273_ma boy who has gone missing. Exceptional soccer player, exceptional student, exceptional son and boyfriend—Hilmer wouldn’t have any enemies, would he? Through the eyes of Detective Harald Fors, we retrace the events leading up to Hilmer’s disappearance in a race against time to save him.

The imagery and storytelling are phenomenal. Wahl has a way of painting pictures with words, describing simple scenes in extraordinary ways. The vignettes are common but haunting, with a chill factor that stems from the existence of the objects themselves. I was quite impressed with the depth of the book, having previously watched the American remake of the Swedish film adaptation. However, The Invisible is a slightly lacking on the action expected of a crime novel or a mystery.

Bottom Line: I give the book a three out of five.

Find The Invisible in the BEHS Library

Submitted by: Caroline C.