Thursday, July 2, 2015

June Reads

Oh, the mood was dark. Deceit. Murder. Mutilation. Terrorism. Weird religion. Just a few of the cheerful themes in this month's reading list.


Amazon sezAs a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret.

MM sez: Hard to find a review that doesn't compare this book to Gone Girl. Ultimately, though, this book is about redemption and making amends, something Gone Girl never addresses. Luckiest Girl is a brilliantly written book that introduces you to a cringe-worthy character with whom you can identify, no small feat. Ani FaNelli’s story shows that it is possible to take charge of your own life, no matter what. I highly recommend it.


Amazon sezA anthology of neo-noir stories described as ". . .stories that will skulk across the footplate of literature for many years to come. Exigencies is the cloak thrown over the world, to show us that in darkness we can still find beauty, and will forever serve as a keepsake to great writing.”

MM sez: As with most anthologies, there's a certain unevenness to the stories. However, unlike most anthologies, I was NOT tempted to stop reading any of them. A friend of mine and I agreed that "Ceremony of the White Dog" was a hands-down winner. However, for your own peace of mind,I would not recommend reading "Wilderness" if you're flying out of a regional airport anytime soon.  And "Cat Calls" made me impatient for the release of Rebecca Jones-Howe's Vile Men anthology.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

Amazon sez: A hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in yourself. The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

MM sez: A novel with  a seventeen year old main character who has her hands chopped off by her father for refusing to marry a sixty year old cult leader is going to be intense, right? The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is Jonestown meets Orange is the New Black. Minnow Bly is a compelling and somewhat unreliable narrator of the bizarre events leading up to and following an incident in a cult compound. It is saved from being the train wreck that you can't avoid looking at by the redemption of Minnow that ultimately has nothing to do with religion and everything about Minnow's inner journey.

In the Skin of a Jihadist

Amazon sezA young French journalist’s riveting and unprecedented look at how today’s most ruthless terrorists use social media and technology to reach disaffected youth—witnessed through the undercover investigation that led to her deep involvement with a key member of ISIS.

MM sez: I read this book as research for a novel I'm working on that has a terrorist as a major character. Plus, I admit to being intrigued by why so many young European girls are fleeing to Syria as brides. The author is a French journalist writing undercover for obvious reasons after Charlie Hebdo. For a journalist, Anna Erelle (whoever she might be) is not a great writer, nonetheless, this book was somewhat of a page turner, particularly in light of recent events. Oh, yes, I did get some insights into the jihadi mindset. Anna Erelle deserves kudos for her courage, and as one other reviewer said, "Don't try this at home, kids.

The Virgin of Small Plains

Amazon sezSmall Plains, Kansas, January 23, 1987: In the midst of a deadly blizzard, eighteen-year-old Rex Shellenberger scours his father’s pasture, looking for helpless newborn calves. Then he makes a shocking discovery: the naked, frozen body of a teenage girl, her skin as white as the snow around her. Even dead, she is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. It is a moment that will forever change his life and the lives of everyone around him. The mysterious dead girl–the “Virgin of Small Plains”–inspires local reverence. In the two decades following her death, strange miracles visit those who faithfully tend to her grave; some even believe that her spirit can cure deadly illnesses. Slowly, word of the legend spreads.

MM sez: My editor recommended this book for the brilliance with which the author constructed Deep Point of View. I liked it well enough, and I'm always interested in books that deal with mythology, no matter its source. There are some startling revelations and some plot twists that dyed- in-the-wool mystery readers might have caught, but I didn't. A most enjoyable read.

Daughter of Deep Silence

Amazon sezIn the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

MM sezWhen Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth came out in 2009, I was immediately drawn in despite my disdain for most zombie books. (OK, OK. I'm not that disdainful, but Forest was pretty darn good.)  So, I had rather high expectations for this book, and it didn't meet them. I liked the premise, and the book started off with a bang. After that, it became fairly predictable, and I saw the end coming about half-way through. The writing was serviceable, but this pretty much falls in the category of a beach or airport read for me.