Monday, May 26, 2014

Dancing in the Dark: "The Girls at the Kingfisher Club" by Genevieve Valentine

It's midnight. All over 1920s New York the speakeasies are hopping and girls are letting themselves go wild with this new liberation of shorter hemlines and shorter hair. The wildest of the girls are the 12 beautiful Hamilton sisters. No one knows their real names or identities. They just call them "Princess" when they want a dance. They don't know they're sisters or that they have been kept virtual prisoners by their wealthy, tyrannical father who wanted a son and hid the girls away in the upper floors of the house, one at a time and occasionally in twos, as there are two pairs of twins in this long line of sisters.
Governesses have come and gone. No one has seen their mother in ages. Jo, the oldest sister, had the rare treat of going to the movies and came back with the idea to teach the girls, the older ones, anyway, how to dance like she saw in the film. This releases all the pent-up energy the girls have been holding back and they begin sneaking out at night and exploring the night life. Before long 12 girls wait for the magical words "Cabs leave at midnight" and they arrive at their true home, the Kingfisher Club.
This is a book that captures all the vibrancy of a night on the town. the author, Genevieve Valentine, takes the old fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and turns it into a new classic. She brings the 20's to life and captures all the desperate urgency of these girls to live and love at top speed during those magical midnight hours. Jo, in particular, is a marvel. Called the General by her sisters, she can keep a cool head and organize their escapes night after night, year after year. There are tense moments, heartbreak and bravado. If you're looking for something different to while away a summer afternoon with then grab a copy of the The Girls at the Kingfisher Club and keep your dancing shoes handy because you just might feel like climbing on the nearest table top and dancing the night away with Jo and the girls!
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Burning Down the House: "All the Things You Are" by Declan Hughes

 Danny Brogan was eleven when he and his three friends burned down the house of a kid, Jackie Bradberry, who had been bullying him. It seemed like the perfect Halloween prank, setting some fires on the lawn of their home, to scare him and his older brothers.  Somehow, things went horribly wrong... or did they? The whole family,  the brothers, parents and two little kids who watched from the window as the fires got out of hand and then consumed them all. The four friends swore never to tell.
Years later, Claire Brogan, Danny's wife and the mother of their two daughters, comes home from a trip to Chicago. She was revisiting the city where she tried to make it as an actress. And seeing the former love of her life. But nothing happened between them, did it? Now, she's ready to go back to her life as a housewife and Mom in the huge old house in Madison, Wisconsin, that had been in Danny's family for generations. But something's odd. There's a chain on the gate. And stranger, still, no Danny, no girls... and no furniture! While searching the property for clues as to what might have happened, as no one is answering her phone calls, she stumbles over the eviscerated body of the beloved family dog. What happened to Claire's husband and children? How do the past and the lies affect the future of this family? Well, you'll just have to see for yourself! Declan Hughes All the Things You Are is a great mystery that will grab your attention and not let go till you find out just what the heck is going on!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Music of the Night: "Strange Sweet Song" by Adi Rule

I fell completely in love with Adi Rule's enchanting Strange Sweet Song. The author, a singer herself,  takes the reader into the world of the prestigious  Dunhammond Conservatory, a music school where only the children of the music world's elite and the very talented are accepted and Sing da Navelli is both. She is the daughter of one of the greatest and most beloved Divas, the late Barbara da Navelli and her father is one of the world's most respected conductors. How could she go wrong with genetics like that?
Sing has a lot to live up to and although she sings beautifully, she never feels she is good enough, not good enough for her father, who is kind, but critical or the legend her mother has left behind. She has never wanted to play the Diva, herself, and she tries to play down her parentage at the school, and make friends, something she was never very good at.
The school, which is set in the middle of a wild forest, has its own ghost story, or rather murder mysteries. People have been found with their throats ripped out. Some swear they have seen a great cat, the Felix as it is called, and that if it sees a deep sadness in the eye of its victim... it will shed a tear and grant a wish for that person, allowing them their freedom as well. This story is the basis for Sing's favorite opera, one she was beguiled by as a child, and the last role her mother ever played was as the lead in this opera. The opera Angelique written by the founder of Dunhammond.
There is also a boy at the school who seems to like her. Or is it just her connections he's attracted to? And what about the mysterious, brooding Apprentice Daysmoor who is forever glaring at her and ultra critical. What's his problem?
Strange Sweet Song is darkly dreamy and romantic and Apprentice Daysmoor, not to give anything away, is someone you will think about and maybe, if you are anything like the Recommender... become a little obsessed with. And even though I am mostly averse to sequels these days (almost every title I see, now, is part of a multi book series!)... I am kind of hoping for one for this beautiful story! Highly recommended!

Strange Sweet Song-Book Trailer from Adi Rule on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"The Summer Experiment" by Cathie Pelletier
The Summer Experiment by Cathie Pelletier is a lovely story that captures the feeling of what it's like to be young and growing up in a wild, rural place with a loving family (including an annoying big brother), a great best friend, and your first crush.
The author, herself, grew up in the story's setting of Allagash, Maine, not far from the Canadian border.
It's a summer of strange lights in the sky, something Roberta's family has seen, and everyone else in town, but not her. Could they be UFOs? Or something the Military is working on at the local base? Back in 1976, the area was famous for an alien abduction where 4 men were abducted from a canoe trip and ended up back at their campsite and missing time. Hypnosis confirmed their memories of alien beings on a space ship and one wrote a book called the Allagash Abductions.
Roberta hasn't seen anything, herself, but she has a plan that just might help her and her best friend Marilee win the Maine State Science Fair award and thwart Henry Horton Harris Helmsby, the boy who has beaten her twice before. Maybe she and Marilee can camp out and attract the UFO to them and make it the best science project ever! Will Roberta and Marilee contact the aliens and become world famous? Read The Summer Experiment and find out. A perfect summer read for kids of all ages.