Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR List

 

toptentuesday-banner-transparent-01After a hiatus, Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) is back!

And this week, we’re asked what books are we looking forward to reading this spring.

  1. The_Magiciain's_Land The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
  2. A Gathering of Shadow by V.E. Schwab
  3. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
  4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  5. The Run of His Life: The People vs. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin
  6. The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
  7. Star Trek: Face of the Unknown by Christopher L. Bennett
  8. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

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An Interview With J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark

 

ronaldyorkWhile cleaning out his childhood home, Nashville’s  J. Ronald M. York discovered a box of letters and news clippings that uncovered a long-held family secret.  For several months in the fall of 1955, Ron’s father was held in the Dade County Jail awaiting trial on charges of sexual abuse of a minor.  During that time, Ron’s father and mother wrote daily letters to each other.

After the death of his father, Ron discovered the saved letters and clippings held in a box.  Ron had uncovered a secret that his family had held for close to sixty years.  His new book, Kept in the Dark, publishes those letters and follows Ron’s journey toward finding out what happened to his family when he was just three years old.

Ron has graciously agreed to talk to me about his book.

Question: How did you begin to pull the story together of what happened to your family?

J. Ronald M. York: Once I came to terms with what the letters revealed, I wanted to know more. The newspaper articles helped explain the charges, while the letters gave me insight to what my parents were going through. Still, there were blanks and even a couple things they had code words for that needed to be explained. I checked with the few remaining people connected although no one would know the whole story. However, those bits and pieces of information gave me leads to follow in my research. Google and Ancestry dot com became my closest friends. Continue reading

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Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittay Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)A Study in Charlotte?

I see what you did there.

Clever title aside, this Sherlock Holmes homage is an interesting and entertaining story that features the great-great-great-great grandchildren of the original Holmes and Watson. Being a young adult novel and requiring the requisite romantic angst, this time around it’s Holmes’ descendent Charlotte and Watson’s descent, Jamie.

Brought together at a private school in Connecticut, the duo soon finds themselves at the center of a series of murders that take a page from some of Holmes and Watston’s most stories chaos. As the prime suspects in each of the cases, Holmes and Watson must join forces to try and figure out what’s going on and who the real culprit it.

As a way to introduce a new generation to the Holmes universe, A Study in Charlotte works extremely well. Both Holmes and Watson have some of the traits of their famous literary descendants and the connections between the two families and their shared history are just some of the interesting aspects of the story. The fact that a Holmes has moved from using cocaine to crystal meth is an interesting development in the story and the fact that Watson has a temper that sometimes get the better of him is another.

Brittany Cavallaro knows her Holmes-lore and sprinkles it judiciously. As the first novel in a trilogy, I’m intrigued enough by some of the larger plot threads and the characters to want to pick up another volume and continue to read more about the modern Holmes and Watson.

The book also makes me eager to dust off my original copies of the Holmes story and visit them again as well.

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Review: The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

The River at NightLooking for a different kind of vacation, Wini, Pia, Rachel, and Sandra book a whitewater rafting trip in an isolated region of Maine. Each of the women is seeking to escape an aspect of her life, whether it’s Wini coming to terms with the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her brother or Sandra never quite getting over how quickly Pia jumped into bed with one of her ex-boyfriends. Maybe a long weekend away from the modern world will help things.

Or everything could go horribly, horribly wrong.

What starts out as an adventure vacation soon becomes a fight for survival among the four friends.

Taking a page from Deliverance, Erica Ferencik’s The River at Night delivers a taut, page-turning tale of survival among the four friends (and their tour guide). Stuck out in the middle of no-where the group must overcome nature and each other to find their way home. And it won’t be easy because there are a number of obstacles along the path standing between them and civilization.

If I’m being a bit vague with this review, it’s for a reason. There are some nice surprises and turns of the story that you’re better off discovering for yourself. And like the bend of a river, it’s more fun to be surprised about what’s ahead than have every moment of the trip mapped out. The novel spends a good quarter of its length establishing the characters and the details of their lives before beginning to put them through an emotional and physical ringer.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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TV Round-Up: 24 Legacy Noon to 4 p.m.

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The debut of 24: Legacy brings up a (semi)philosophical question.  Is the real-time format or Jack Bauer the star of the show?

Four episodes into the “worst day” of Eric Carter’s life and the answer still isn’t clear.  

It’s easy to forgive certain things Jack Bauer did or to accept them as simply part of the power of Baur because we’ve spent ten days together.  Seeing Carter act with a similar reckless abandon to what Jack used in order to get the job done and damn the consequences doesn’t necessarily feel earned yet.  In the first four hours, Carter has used a large concrete pipe as a shield to take on terrorists, got himself arrested in order to steal $2 million in cash from a police squad and, as hour four ends, is breaking out of CTU in order to try and get a list of potential terrorist cells back. Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney

Double Down (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #11)Whether it’s believing he’s the subject of a reality TV show like The Truman Show or joining the school band to get invited to a big Halloween bash, Greg Hefley’s trials and tribulations never end. That’s good news to this reader, who despite being too old to be in the targeted demographic for the Wimpy Kid novels continues to enjoy them.

Listening to the audio version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down, I chuckled and laughed out loud multiple times as Greg continues to grow up. Whether’s it’s conspiring to win a jar full of candy in his school’s annual balloon launch or using the Internet to convince his parents that he’s actually learning to play the French Horn, Greg’s antics never failed to amuse. And despite not having the benefit of the cartoon illustration in the printed version, I found the novel and its narration creating some hilarious moments in my head as I traveled to and from work.

I also discovered that I’ve missed a couple of releases in the series and any now eager to go back and catch up on what I’ve missed.

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TV Round-Up: The Magicians Season One

The-Magicians-TV-show-on-Syfy-season-one-canceled-or-renewed.jpg

For some reason, I missed season one of The Magicians when it aired on SyFy.

OK, I didn’t really miss it so much as tune into the first two episodes, set a season-pass and then had it stack up on the DVR.  And then I promptly deleted all the episodes halfway through the season because there are only so many hours in the day.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago when the show showed up on Netflix and I decided to give it another try.

Boy, I’m glad I did.

Based on a trilogy of novels by Lev Grossman, The Magicians follows a group of friends who are studying to become magicians at Brakebill’s School for Magic.   The series is described as “Harry Potter for adults,” but I think that’s doing a great disservice to both series.  The Magicians owes more a debt to the C.S. Lewis Narnia series than it does to Harry Potter, if only because our main character, Quinten Coldwater grew up reading a series of Narnia-like books and has always dreamed of visiting the magical land described there.

Like a lot of shows today, the show has an arc and a seasonal big-bad.  In this case, it’s a threat called the Beast.  A six-fingered magician, the Beast shows up in episode one and is a looming threat over the entire season, bringing our team together to try and stop them in order to prevent their own deaths.

The series unfolds at Brakebill’s with Quinten and his friends studying magic and trying to up their game to take on the Beast.  Meanwhile, Quinten’s life-long friend Julia fails the entrance exam to Brakebill’s and is sent back to the real world.  Unfortunately, the memory wipe used on her doesn’t work and she spends much of season one trying to reconnect with magic and get back into the world that Quinten is exploring.

Continue reading

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