Sunday, July 29, 2012

"The Master is DARK" : 50 Shades Darker

SPOILERS! The Recommender is telling you that right off, so if you haven't read the first book, don't read this post until after you've finished the 2nd, E.L. James' 50 Shades Darker, because we are going to talk about some issues. Yes, Christian has issues. When we last left Anastasia Steele she was getting her head together after breaking up with her mega wealthy, god-like gorgeous, control-freak boyfriend. Yes, we thought! Ana is sensible. She knows there is more to life than lots of money, great clothes (and underwear!) and an Audi A3 (the submissive special).
But she is sad and missing being bossed around (and all that hot sex!) and when he starts e-mailing her, again, she relents and they go to Jose's art opening where there are giant photos of Ana on display. Why does Christian never see her as carefree and happy as in those photos? Maybe because no one was subjecting her to various sorts of punishments he realizes. "I can do vanilla" he pleads and Ana and her inner goddess and even her inner subconscious celebrate this news! But... is there a dark cloud on the horizon of this happiness? Maybe several. That nasty blonde corrupter Mrs. Robinson shows up to nag Ana about how broken up Christian was when Ana left him. And, maybe they can do lunch or something? Ana doesn't think so. Will she forever be lurking around despite Christian's claims that she's "all in the past"? Then... there's Ghost Girl appearing outside Ana's new job to ask her "What do you have...that I don't" before disappearing. Ana has so many distractions, including a sleazy new boss at the publishing house she works at that she forgets to mention GG to Christian, so when she does, he gets very angsty as GG is Leila one of his past submissives and one who wanted "more" but never got it. We learn she has a gun permit and a gun to go along with it. "Master is dark" she later confides to Ana. But he is also wounded and broken and afraid to be touched and seems to really care about Ana and so darn good looking and has good taste in buying women's clothes, or the buyer he hires does, anyway, so we end up hoping Christian and Ana get together and she's even seen his *SPOLIER* creepy submissive side which freaks Ana out MORE than the dark side. Not giving away all the details but the Recommender will be reading book 3  and maybe that title gives us a hint 50 Shades Freed. HMMMM. What can that mean?  I can't wait to find out!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beautiful Lies

At the beginning of Beautiful Lies twin sisters Rachel and Alice stand on a jogging trail debating the best way to spend the lovely fall evening. A family walks by with a small girl who is startled by the exact duplicates and cries. "We're freaks" says Alice.  "We aren't freaks, "Rachel replies as she adds eye make-up to her sister's eyes. What they are, are twins so rare and identical and close that one can experience what the other is feeling so when they were children and one choked the other gasped for breath.

Alice offers to go home, but Rachel resists. Their friends are waiting to go to the carnival. "Your friends" says Alice. "They don't like me, anymore." Alice is the troubled twin, the reckless girl, the girl who will never accept that their parents have died and they had to live with their Aunt and Uncle and mentally challenged cousin. Their Aunt who was also a twin. A twin of the mother they lost.
Back to the fair. Alice wants to ride the Ferris wheel. Rachel feels uneasy, but agrees. Once she is strapped in...Alice slips out of the seat and takes off "I'll catch up with you after," she calls,"I want a candy apple". And she's away and...gone!
Gone! And that is the opening of this intense and unusual new book by Jessica Warman.
What has happened to Alice and why does Rachel start to feel pain and then unexplainable bruises show up on her body? Why do her Aunt and Uncle stall in calling the police to look for Alice? Is it just another of her stunts? Doesn't she have a mysterious boyfriend, Robin, that none of them have ever met? And what about the drawings in Alice's sketchpad, the face of a girl she doesn't know but feels compelled to draw over and over. Who is she?
This is a story draped in mystery as you plunge into the lives of the twins and learn more of  the secrets and lies that might turn a game they played into one of life and death. Don't miss this addictive read (available this August) and don't forget to read  Ms. Warman's "Between" reviewed here previously.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Perfect Summer Book: The Cottage at Glass Beach

On the Scottish TV series "The Book Group" (episode 3) the members have been reading a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and one character passionately describes what she likes about the story is the way things happened that wouldn't really happen. "Magical realism" the club members intone knowingly... which devastatingly skewers a certain type of book and bookclubber perfectly!
Of course, some of my favorite books slip dangerously into that category like Garden Spells and Practical Magic and probably all of Harry Potter and ...heck, maybe almost everything I read. So, with that in mind I just read a book that I fell absolutely in love with right from the start, The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri. Our heroine, Nora Cunningham, is a still young mother and wife of  the youngest Attorney General in Massachusetts history, and who has done everything right to help him in his career until she finds out he's been involved with another woman. Distraught and unsure of what to do next she receives an unexpected way out, a letter from an aunt, someone she hadn't seen since her childhood...her childhood on a dimly remembered craggy island called Burke's Island. The place where her mother disappeared and her father took her away, off to Boston, never again mentioning the island or what took place all those years before.
It's the perfect refuge for Nora and she accepts the invitation and sets off with her two daughters, seven year old Annie and twelve year old Ella, Ella who is hurt and angry, angry at everyone and everything having to do with her leaving her home and her father and her whole life behind.
Annie, on the other hand is sunny and optimistic and ready for an adventure. And ... adventure is what awaits them on the island. Ms. Barbieri knows the sea. She seems to know it so well and bring this isolated island to such vivid, windswept, salty, seaweedy life that you just want to pack your bags and follow Nora and the girls on their journey or at least join them vicariously via this delicious summer fiction getaway.
Nora's Aunt Maire welcomes them to the island and the cottage on Glass Beach where Nora, Annie and Ella will spend the summer and where several generations of Nora's family, including her parents, have lived. There is also a bigger family residence, Maire's home, Cliff House.
As Nora and the girls begin to unwind they explore and wonder about what secrets the island holds. Secrets that the seals that swim and live among the rocks of the island seem to share. And why do some of the locals seem hostile to Nora, and say she looks just like her mother. Her mother, who was so beautiful she captured the hearts of many men including her father, an off islander whose ship needed repair. They seem to share more than looks, too. Her mother was an award winning swimmer and Nora is as at home in the water as she is on land. Then, there's the mysterious man who washes up on Glass Beach during a terrible storm, who Nora runs out to save, and who seems to have no recollection of who he is. Annie thinks he's a character right out of Nora's old Irish legends and fairy tale book that she reads to the girls each night. Could he be? There's much more to this appealing story including love, mystery, and some unusual characters (plus it has a gorgeous cover!). This is good old magical realism at its best. That Book Group in Glasgow would surely approve!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Every Day

 A. wakes up in a different body Every Day which is also the title of David Levithan's conceptual new novel. He, let's call him he for this review... is always a teen. Sometimes he wakes up as a boy, sometimes a girl. He has to live that person's life for 24 hours without doing too much harm or interfering with the order of things. Sometimes he has siblings, sometimes he's alone. He has suffered from illnesses, experienced depression, drug taking and crushes that that person might have. He has to go to school, interact with parents and try to just get through the day. That is until the day he wakes up in the body of a not particularly nice boy named Justin. Justin has a girlfriend. There is something about her, Rhiannon, that gets to A. She is sweet and open and vulnerable and A. goes out of his way to be kind to her or to make it seem that Justin is being nice to her. Nicer than usual. MUCH nicer than usual. They cut school and spend the day at the beach and by the time A. has to leave... he knows that he has fallen for Rhiannon, beyond anything he's experienced before. But he won't be Justin anymore. How will he spend more time with her when he will be someone else tomorrow and someone else the day after and, well...every day?
And what about this one boy whose body he inhabited who seems to have memories of being "possessed"? What does he really know? This is a beautifully told story about love and trust and faith and belief in the power of love transcending all obstacles. This title will be released in August, so if you are looking for something that takes you outside the ordinary and makes you think about and care for the characters involved then be sure to buy, download or check Every Day out at your library!