Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

boywhocouldseedemons-21Don’t judge this book by its title.  I have been doing this myself lately not reading a review of a book that’s cover looks strange to me or that has a peculiar title.  This book, with this title,  would certainly fall into this category and shouldn’t be missed if you like fast-paced psychological thrillers with a couple good twists thrown in for good measure!

The Boy Who Could See Demons takes place in Belfast, Ireland and its narrative is very effectively told through the alternating voices of three main characters. Alex, who is ten years old, likes onions on toast and has a best friend that is a 9000-year-old demon called Ruen.   Anya,  a child psychiatrist who has moved back to Belfast to  treat some of Northern Ireland’s children that suffer from severe mental heath issues  and Michael, a social worker whose main concern is making sure Alex and his suicidal mother remain as a family unit if at all possible.  Anya has been brought in to assess Alex and determine what Alex’s needs are and whether he has early onset schizophrenia.  Anya quickly becomes professionally and personally involved with Alex even as she struggles  with her guilt at her inability to help treat her own daughter’s schizophrenia. 

I loved this book and I spent much of the book trying to figure out whether Alex’s demons were real and what was the cause of his visions.  The author, Jess-Cooke, makes you care about Alex and I wanted to know what was happening to Alex and whether he could survive his bleak situation.  This was one of those books that I find hard to categorize.  One could be tempted to say it is a suspense/thriller but it is also  about a mother’s emotional anguish over the loss of her child and the intense  exploration of  the  schizophrenic world.

Falmouth Memorial Library does not currently own this book, however, there are five libraries within the Minerva system that do have this book and we can request it for you.

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The Widow Waltz by Sally Koslow

the widow waltzAs we move to the end of August, I am squeezing in those last few summer reads–strictly for entertainment.  The Widow Waltz certainly fits that bill.  Georgia Waltz is recently widowed.  When you meet her husband Ben in the first chapter, he seems almost too good to be a real character.  He is charming and gracious to everyone, able to solve each crisis and able to provide a pretty charmed life for his wife and two daughters.  What could he possibly do wrong?

Georgia and her daughters have come to assume a comfortable and struggle-free lifestyle, so they are completely shocked to discover that Ben has left them mortgaged to the max and almost penniless.  What follows is their pick themselves up by the bootstraps tale.  Georgia and her daughters all need to figure out who they are and who they want to become, without Ben to smooth their path.  Their challenges are universal; the twist is that they have gone through life seemingly without any character building moments.

While maybe not my favorite of beach reads this summer, the characters did grow on me as they transformed themselves in a made for tv movie sort of way.  Despite the loss that starts the book, it isn’t a sad story and is worth checking out for that last trip to the beach this season!

The Falmouth Memorial Library does not yet own a copy of The Widow Waltz, but it  can be requested through the Minerva System.

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The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

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“For my wife Cecelia Fitzpatrick.  To be opened only in the event of my death.”

What would you do if you found this letter addressed to you in a box of tax papers?  What if you found it while your husband was still alive?  Would you open it?  Australian author Liane Moriarty’s latest novel explores this question as she shares the lives of three women–Cecelia, Rachel and Tess–the secrets they discover and the way these secrets weave their lives together.  One big secret is definitely inside the letter and spoiler alert:  she opens it.  The other secrets are revealed as the book progresses. Some I could see coming and others surprised me.

The Husband’s Secret is a good summer read that at first seems light and interesting, but has a very discussable depth (think book group) to its moral.  The storyline isn’t original, but the way Moriarty surprises the reader with the connections between characters, and the way she plays the ‘what if’ and ‘if only she knew this’ game at the end of the book is clever.  Don’t miss the epilogue!

If you have ever been in the right place at the right time, or even if you have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, this book is for you.

The Falmouth Memorial Library owns a copy of The Husband’s Secret.

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The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

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Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a great ride…meet Rose, police stenographer in New York, 1923.  She confidentially records the confessions of criminals.  What happens when she meets Odalie, a new stenographer, and is lured into Odalie’s faster moving evening circles?  Should she enjoy some side benefits of their friendship-evenings out, free meals, a nicer place to live?  These are all temptations for self-made Rose, and become easier and easier to accept.  There is a price, of course, as Rose starts to note mistakes Odalie is making at work, and has to decide what to do.  After all, these are confessions, and futures are at stake.

There is one criminal who seems to be a repeat visitor to the precinct.  He is awful and he is smug.  Rose and the police are convinced he is guilty, but never manage to elicit a confession or find enough evidence to convict.  What would happen if Rose recorded a confession?  Would a judge believe the transcript or the suspect?

Kirkus reviews says The Other Typist is part Alfred Hitchcock and part Great Gatsby.  I would agree.  Hold out for the last third of the book.  It is all good, but that last section is page-turning-stay-up-way-too-late-fabulous. 

The Falmouth Memorial Library owns a copy of The Other Typist.

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Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

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Brilliant and mesmerizing, one of the best novels of 2013, five stars, a must read!  Loved Sisterland!

Sisterland is about twins Violet and Daisy.  Both have “senses”–and Violet turns hers into a cottage industry, finding lost children, predicting natural disasters, but mostly counseling people.  She predicts an upcoming earthquake in St. Louis, Missouri, and then navigates the media frenzy caused by her premonition.  Meanwhile, Daisy does not embrace her psychic abilities, and in fact, doesn’t want anyone to know she has any inkling about the future.  She is married, at home with two young children, and navigating the playground scene happily.  Despite wanting to keep her “senses” secret, and not wanting to be sucked into her sister’s circle of craziness, Daisy finds it hard to distance herself, and hard not to believe an earthquake is going to happen.  (She just can’t stop stocking up at Target.)

This is an engaging novel-a few pages in and you really want to get to know the characters.  Sittenfeld writes about being a mother, a sister, a wife, a daughter with great insight and accuracy.  I was intrigued by her exploration of the idea of premonitions-what is a “sixth sense” so to speak, and the role one’s intuition has in their decisions.  There is a wonderfully redeeming  scene toward the end of the book when Violet is hosting one of her sessions, which sounds more like group therapy and less like a séance or reading.  Here, Violet presents as a kind and encouraging listener and less like a nut, while Daisy makes a choice, on her own, with life changing consequences.   

Worth the read!

The Falmouth Memorial Library owns both a regular print copy and a large print copy of Sisterland.

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A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

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Young socialite Lily Dane returns to the family home in Seaview, Rhode Island for the summer of 1938, expecting a peaceful and idyllic season.  Her parents are there with her much younger sister.  Also there for the summer: her old best friend Budgie and Budgie’s new husband, architect Nick Greenwald (who also happens to be Lily’s ex-fiance.)  Despite their marriage and the temptation to steer clear, Lily can’t resist the allure of Budgie-but finds the rest of the Seaview community can, and watches as they repeatedly snub Budgie and Nick.  With the historical backdrops for the novel being the coming of World War II and an approaching and devastating hurricane, I  have to admit I was surprised that the true motivations for characters were different from what I predicted based on the time period. 

Williams alternates between the summer of ’38 and Lily and Budgie’s college years, filling in the story little by little, but still, I did not see  few plot twists coming.   Well done Ms. Williams!  Thank you for surprising me!

I like that A Hundred Summers  isn’t a story about a storm or a war, but the story of old friends and old loves, of loyalty and betrayal, and unexpected relationships. It is a smart, well written novel, and well worth the read.  (The Falmouth Memorial Library owns a copy.)

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Summer Reading

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Summer is a great time to catch up with family and friends over a cookout, a trip to the beach, a walk at Mackworth Island, a pool party…  it is also a great time to catch up on recreational reads.  What is the hot book this summer?  I recently posted a list of books I plan to read this summer on Facebook and enjoyed the book lists with which my friends responded.  I was delighted by a range that covered Transatlantic by Colum McCann to Us Magazine (and enjoyed discussing both on the beach during an extended family vacation.)  What I noticed, and what we are noticing at the Falmouth Memorial Library, is that there isn’t one “hot” book this summer.  While the predicted best sellers are still frequently checked out, our patrons are making some “sleepers” the books they talk about, and are finally getting to last summer’s great reads.  Our multiple copies of When We Were the Kennedys and Gone Girl are still regularly on the Hold Shelf.

Here is a short list of a variety of books getting great patron reviews:

The English Girl-Daniel Silva

Beautiful Day-Elin Hilderbrand

Joyland-Stephen King

The Bat-Jo Nesbo

Sisterland-Curtis Sittenfeld

The Engagements – J. Courteney Sullivan

VB6-Mark Bittman

The Boys in the Boat-Daniel James Brown

What are you reading at the beach?  What book do you curl up with by the camp fire?    What keeps you reading past midnight?

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