We Were Liars by e. Lockhart

we were liars

We Were Liars by e. Lockhart

In some families telling the truth is valued. In others it’s doing whatever it takes to move on and move ahead. The Sinclairs are a wealthy clan who ‘summer’ on their own private island where the cousins frolick all the day long. But something has gone terribly wrong and Cadence can’t put it all together. She remembers waking up on the beach, being in the hospital, taking pills and seeing a therapist, but the rest of it is a mess from day to day. She writes herself post-its to try to keep track. Meanwhile The Family seems to crumble before her eyes, and none of it makes a whole lot of sense in the big picture.

Cadence can’t figure out why her mom is always weepy, why her cousin won’t write her back, and how the boy she has loved her whole life is slipping away from her before they even get to know one another off the island.

This book is a mystery that reveals itself along the way. Fans of 13 Reasons Why and Jodi Picoult books will enjoy the journey. It worked for me.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

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Tuesdays With Morrie  by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie stayed on best seller lists for months, touching readers deeply with the author Mitch’s accounts of this Tuesday visits with his favorite college professor, 15 years after he graduated. His professor, Morrie Schwarta, has been diagnosed with ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, and knows he will die from it sooner or later. As Mitch visits Morrie every Tuesday, they talk about major life issues Mitch as listed. In between chapters recounting their discussions, Mitch fills in Morrie’s background from this childhood through his education and professional journey to becoming a respected professor and champion of social justice. Morrie’s insights, filled with wisdom from his life’s experience and honest perspective as he nears the end of his life, reflect universal truths common to many religions and cultures. Readers of all ages will be inspired by this book.

 

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

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All Fall Down  by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #1)

Ally Carter, author of the popular Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series, has written the first book in a new series: Embassy Row. Sixteen year old Grace has been sent to live with her grandfather, the American ambassador to the European county of Adria, while her Army father is deployed. Grace has not been to Adria for 3 years, when her mother died in front of her. While Grace has been told her mother died in a fire, Grace is sure she was shot by a man with a scar. Grace has resolved to stop reckless behavior from her younger years so her grandfather will be proud of her, but can’t seem to change her habits. Grace and other “embassy brats” whose parents represent different countries follow suspicious characters through ancient tunnels, sure they are on the track of a nefarious plot. What they find surprises them.

I have been a devoted fan of Ally Carter’s two series and am waiting for the next installment in this series.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

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The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

When Humpty Dumpty is found dead in many pieces among the dustbins at the bottom of a garden wall in a seedy part of town, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crimes Division investigates with his partner Sgt. Mary Mary.

They find Humpty was involved in shady and mysterious dealings, had an exwife and numerous girlfriends and had not been seen in public in the past year. The coroner finds several possible causes of death, but everyone in town seems to have liked Humpty, even the possible suspects. As they investigate Jack and Mary uncover more puzzles, including ties to previous cases that had been assumed solved. In this alternate universe of England where Nursery Rhyme characters live side by side with real people, everyone accepts this situation as perfectly ordinary.

Loaded with tons of humor and imagination, The Big Over Easy has laughs aplenty and constant surprises. This new series follows author Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, also based in an alternate England where real characters track literary crimes and are able to move from the real world into books. Just when the reader thinks the murderer will be revealed the plot takes another U-turn. Nothing is resolved until literally the last page.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

 

One Shot at Forever: a small town, an unlikely coach and a magical baseball season by Chris Ballard

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One Shot at Forever: a small town, an unlikely coach and a magical baseball season by Chris Ballard

When Lynn Sweet drove into Macon, IL, a town of 1200, in 1965, to interview for a job teaching English at the local high school of 250, he told himself he didn’t have to live in Macon forever. He could always look for a new job and move if he wasn’t happy in Macon. Hired by a principal who valued a diverse staff and was eager to have a young male English teacher, Sweet’s unorthodox methods, such as seating students at large tables instead of individual desks and giving a wide range of choices for independent reading, drew negative parent and community attention while popular with students. Four years later, when the school needed a new baseball coach, parents and boys who wanted to play approached Sweet without realizing he had been good enough in college to play on semipro teams. Persuaded to take the job, Sweet approached coaching as he did teaching. He rejected the stereotypical coaching pattern of yelling and military style drills to making practice optional and giving the players positive guidance. To the surprise of other teams Macon’s Ironmen started winning, beating even larger schools and those with long traditions of winning. Sweet himself attracted attention, having grown his hair longer and a Fu Manchu mustache. Coaches and fans from conservative backgrounds were scandalized their teams were being beaten by a team of boys with peace signs on their hats coached by a “hippie.”

During the two years he researched this story, first for a Sports Illustrated story then this expanded book, author Chris Ballard chased down every lead, from interviewing Lynn Sweet and his family, all the surviving team members and their families, community members, players from opposing teams, reporters who covered the story and school and town records.   In fact, the notes at the end of the book, organized by chapter, add so much depth to the story that I kept referring back to each chapter while reading them. The notes add flavor, including details not in the narrative itself. Anyone who doesn’t usually read nonfiction for independent reading would be drawn in both by the engrossing story itself and Ballard’s gifted writing in telling it.

 

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

MR MERCEDES

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Setting aside his usual horror tropes for this title, King shows readers he’s not afraid the take on the detective novel.  It’s still scary, but this time in a crazy human way with no help needed from the supernatural.  In the early morning hours of a depressed Midwest city, the promise of one thousand jobs has hundreds of unemployed folks lined up at the civic center for a job fair.  Some of them have been there since the previous evening, hoping to be some of the lucky ones who may be able to pay next month’s rent.  Just before 5 A.M., a gray Mercedes sedan plowed into the crowd, backed up, ran over more innocents, then somehow escaped off into the early morning mist.  The escaped mass murderer is nicknamed Mr. Mercedes and still haunts the lead detective from the case, even though Bill Hodges retired months ago from the police force.  Like so many retired police officers he knows, Hodges now has little to live for and spends his days in front of the television, toying with his father’s old Smith & Wesson 38 service revolver.  “On a couple occasions he has slid it between his lips, just to see what it feels like to have a loaded gun lying on your tongue and pointing at your palate.”  His suicidal thoughts stop quickly when he receives a crank letter from someone identifying himself as the Mercedes Killer, and taunting Hodges about spying on him and his now-empty life.  While the letter claims that the killer has had his fill of violence, the former detective knows that’s not how serial killers work, and the book becomes a fast-paced, high stakes hunt as Hodges tries to find the shrewd killer before he strikes again.

If you are expecting another fabulous horror story like The Stand or It, you will not find it here.  That being said, I still think this is a super fun book and was hardly able to put it down.  King is a master of suspense, and this latest title proves that in a new way.  I highly recommend this to Stephen King and mystery/suspense fans.

running man          joyland

 

If I should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan

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If I should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan

 

Teenager Hilary proudly belongs to the Aryan Warriors, a neo-Nazi hate group dedicated to carrying out Hitler’s goal of killing Jews. After being thrown from her boyfriend Brad’s motorcycle, she is taken to the closest medical facility, ironically a Jewish hospital. While she’s in a coma, Hilary floats in a dreamlike state, seeing and hearing people around her but unable to communicate. Suddenly Hilary finds herself spinning backward , walking down an unfamiliar street as Chana, with a best friend she doesn’t know. Each of them has a yellow star on her coat. Stopped by soldiers on their way to school, they are forced at gunpoint to scrub stairs along with Jewish women, using their underwear. Finally released, Chana is on her way home and sees soldiers shoot her father when he is unable to work. Thus begins Hilary’s journey through an alternate life as Chana, a 13 year old Jewish girl in Poland under Nazi occupation. Hilary moves between her existence in a coma, hearing her mother pray over her in the hospital, and living with what’s left of her family under increasing Nazi oppression. This is a powerful narrative of a girl seeingwhere unchecked hate can lead.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson