Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Welcome to the inaugural post of Joanne’s Mystery Picks.  Our crime and mystery afficiando will provide monthly clues to great reads!

burn_cover_optimA Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh

Stevie Flint, former journalist, and now employed selling products on Shop TV, fights her way through a London in the grips of a plague that is felling residents faster than she can count. Her boyfriend, Dr. Simon Sharkey, appears to be one of the unlucky until Stevie realizes that things just aren’t adding up.  In pursuing the truth about Simon’s death, Stevie puts her life in danger again and again.  Join her for a ride through a London that is barely recognizable.

 steve burrows booksA Siege of Bitterns by  Steve Burrows

Morse is an opera aficionado (primarily Wagner); Dalgleish is a poet; and Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune is a birder.  In this first of a new series (Birder Murders), Jejeune, newly posted to Saltmarsh in Norfolk, investigates the murder of Cameron Brae, an ecological activist.  He is found hanged in the marsh area near his home.  Jejeune thinks that a feud over bird watching lists has led to Brae’s death.  The very clever solution to this murder has me a fan of Burrows, without question.

 A Pitying of Doves by Steve Burrows

When Jejuene is called to a bird sanctuary to investigate the murders of two seemingly unrelated people found murdered in a bird cage, it’s all about the birds to him.  His DCS sees it differently and insists that Jejeune follow her lead.  With both their jobs in jeopardy, Jejuene hopes that his decision to follow his own path is not a flight of fancy.  Some great wordplay here again with collective nouns!

ross pennie booksTainted/Tampered/ Up in Smoke by Ross Pennie

How about a summer mystery binge read?  Then start turning the pages of Ross Pennie’s novels featuring Dr. Zol Szabo, an epidemic investigator working for the Public Health Dept. in Ontario.  In Tainted, Zol investigates an epidemic of deaths due to a new form of mad cow disease.  In Tampered, Zol’s own Grandfather is at risk when the senior’s home that he is a resident of becomes an incubator for a deathly food poisoning.  In Up in Smoke, Zol is called in to investigate the deaths of high school students in Ontario’s tobacco country.  They have all died from liver failure and he suspects contaminated cigarettes that they are buying at cut-rate prices from a near-by Indian Reserve.  Zol doesn’t just rely on his expertise as a scientist to work out the answers to these epidemics.  He has a good back-up team consisting of his young son, Max, infection specialist Hamish Wakefield, and Natasha, his lab technician.  Pennie gives us a nice change from the regular “police procedurals” with his character of Dr. Zol Szabo and borrows from his personal background as an infectious disease specialist.

A Plethora of Summer Reading Game Book Reviews!

Everybody’s talking about the books they are reading!  We’ve had a stack of book reviews lately, and here they are to help guide your summer reading.

TheMagiciansThe Magicians by Lev Grossman

“Borrowing a bit from Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, Grossman has crafted a world of magic that is edgier, darker and more chaotic than most writers of fantasy.  His characters are real in the flaws and highly intriguing. An adult magical adventure that will draw readers to the next two books.  Yes, you can start now. The trilogy is complete.”  ~Patron review from Joan T., July 2015

Category: Fantasy

touchingtheearthTouching the Earth by Roberta Bondar

“Dr. Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space, gives the reader an insight into the unique perspective and wonder she experienced from the opportunity to view her home planet from space.  Her deep love of nature and the extremes beauty and diversity of Earth are celebrated in this account of her flight and how it shaped her. She was surely a deserving candidate to represent Canada in the space program.”  ~Patron review from Joan T., July 2015

Category: Bios & Memoirs

Essays in Love by Alain de Botton

“A wonderfully relatable,  witty & engaging blend of personal memoir, love story & philosophical musings about the nature of love. One reviewer very aptly described Alain de Botton as “a young British Woody Allen with the benefit of a classical education” – that sums it up quite nicely!”  ~Staff Review by Luise M-J, July 2015

Category: Short Stories

The Man in the Shed by Lloyd Jones

“What a sad litany of stories, where every husband is a cuckold and no marriage can be comprehended as consisting of loving, caring friendship, or communication of any meaningful kind!”  ~Patron review, July 2015

Category: Short Stories

And Then There Were Nuns by Jane Christmas

nuns

“Jane Christmas lives in a few monasteries over a period of a few months as she tries to decide if she should become a nun or get married to her boyfriend who’d just proposed to her. In typical Jane Christmas fashion, the book is honest, down to earth, and a quick read.”  ~Patron review, July 2015

Category: Adventure

 

 

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a WatchmanGo Set a Watchman” introduces a more mature, wordly Scout whose worldview is shattered when she discovers that her father is a racist. I was wary going into this book as I love the Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird. Right form the beginning of Watchman, though, I was immediately drawn into Lee’s beautiful prose. Less has perfectly characterized the deep south at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Watchman is a much more uncomfortable read compared to Mockingbird, mainly because racism is not only found in the faces of the villains. Though it is easy to discount Watchman as a first draft Mockingbird, it stands alone as a separate but equally important story.”  ~Patron review, July 2015

” ‘I need a watchman to go forth and proclaim to them all that 26 years is too long to play a joke on anybody.’ The Scout we know from Mockingbird returns as Jean Louise with the same free spirit, tenacity, and passion. She returns to Maycomb and finds that her father in not the hero she remembers and even Calpurnia sees the Finch’s differently. Jean Louise is one of the few who sees black people and white people as equally worthy of civil rights, and Lee tells this poetic but heartbreaking story that is just as important as Mockingbird.”  ~Summer Staff review by Graeme M., July 2015

Category: Historical Fiction

The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak

garneaublock_cover

“Todd is a local writer and Edmontonian. This story took place in the Garneau area with a few select characters. I enjoyed his sense of writing but I did not feel the story line to captivating.  I did enjoy relating to location, building, etc.”  ~Patron review, July 2015

Category: Sense of Place

 

 

 

YA Picks

Get your heart racing this summer with these first-rate psychological thrillers – great for teens and also for adults who liked The Girl on the Train.

We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Privileged Cadence spends her summers on Beechwood, her family’s private island off the coast of Massachusetts, with the other liars of the title: her cousins, Mirren and Johnny, and handsome Gat, the nephew of her aunt’s boyfriend. In her 15th summer, Cadence suffered a traumatic brain injury under mysterious circumstances which left her with crippling headaches and memory gaps. The story unfolds two summers later when Cadence returns to Beechwood to recover with the liars and the rest of her dysfunctional family as she struggles to piece together what happened that fateful summer.

Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Nick and Dara are sisters. Once inseparable, they were torn apart by an accident that left beautiful Dara horribly scarred. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks she’s just trying to get attention. But another girl is also missing, and Nick becomes convinced that the disappearances are connected. Can she find the girls before it’s too late?

Weekend Picks

Beautiful weather for all things on two wheels, including the final stages of The Tour de France, and these moving Weekend Picks.

Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist

One man had no limits. This is the epic story of the rise and fall of Marco Pantani, sporting hero. Less than five years after winning the Tour De France ‘clean,’ he was found dead in mysterious circumstances. This is the tragic tale of how a young cyclist became trapped in the organized crime of professional sport gone bad.

“You can’t win the Tour de France on mineral water”. Ah, what would sport be without controversy?

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The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner

After a car accident leaves his parents dead, a man suffering from amnesia is taken by his grandfather on a bicycle trip from Germany to Bulgaria in hopes of regaining his memories.

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Honorable Mention for Bicycles and Film: Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon: Wow. Where did you get such a nice bike?
Pedro: Well, yesterday I was walking home, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up to me on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, ‘Take what you want.

Napoleon: Good choice. The clothes probably wouldn’t have fit.

Weekend Picks

Anna’s Science Fiction Picks

Welcome to a monthly review of Science Fiction and Fantasy book, and the occasional horror thrown in. Every month, will feature a couple of titles, new or old from the Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy collection.

The Just City by Jo Walton

index.aspxCreated as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future – all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past. The student Simmea, born an Egyptian farmer’s daughter sometime between 500 and 1000 A.D, is a brilliant child, eager for knowledge, ready to strive to be her best self. The teacher Maia was once Ethel, a young Victorian lady of much learning and few prospects, who prayed to Pallas Athene in an unguarded moment during a trip to Rome – and, in an instant, found herself in the Just City with grey-eyed Athene standing unmistakably before her. Meanwhile, Apollo – stunned by the realization that there are things mortals understand better than he does – has arranged to live a human life, and has come to the City as one of the children. He knows his true identity, and conceals it from his peers. For this lifetime, he is prone to all the troubles of being human. Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives – the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself – to ask all the troublesome questions you would expect.

The Border by Robert McCammon

index.aspxThe Border is the saga of an Earth devastated by a war between two marauding alien civilizations. But it is not just the living ships of the monstrous Gorgons or the motion-blurred shock troops of the armored Cyphers that endanger the holdouts in the human bastion of Panther Ridge. The world itself has turned against the handful of survivors, as one by one they succumb to despair and suicide or, even worse, are transformed by otherworldly pollution into hideous Gray Men, cannibalistic mutants driven by insatiable hunger. Into these desperate circumstances comes an amnesiac teenaged boy who names himself Ethan–a boy who must overcome mistrust and suspicion to master unknowable powers that may prove to be the last hope for humanity’s salvation. Those same powers make Ethan a threat to the warring aliens, long used to fearing only each other, and thrust him and his comrades into ever more perilous circumstances.