Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

The House Next Door book cover Colquitt and Walter Kennedy are horrified when construction starts on the wooded vacant lot next door to their suburban Atlanta home. They worry that their routine of dinner parties and drinks on the patio will be disturbed, and that the ultra-modern home going up will ruin the character of their sleepy, traditional Southern neighborhood. However, when they meet the charming young couple who are moving in and their charismatic architect, they warm to the idea and even the new house.

Then a series of disturbing tragedies begin to visit the couple in the house next door until they move away, their relationship broken. The house goes up for sale, and troubled Anita and her husband move in. Anita begins to report bizarre incidents when she is home alone, but surely they are merely the product of her fragile emotional state? Colquitt and Walter watch again as their neighbor’s lives are ruined, and it begins to seem to them that something in the house is changing its inhabitants, bringing out the worst in them. Then a third couple moves in and terrible things happen to them, too. Rational Colquitt struggles to explain what is happening next door as madness and murder plague her once-peaceful neighborhood. What lengths will she and Walter go to to protect themselves and their home? Is there even a way to stop what’s happening?

This is the perfect haunted house story, and nothing like anything else you’ll read this Halloween.

Monday, October 15, 2018

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I Am Legend book coverI Am Legend is the story of Robert Neville, a man living among the vampires that took over the world. In this apocalyptic classic, Neville is the only man to endure the virus that has transformed everyone, including his own family, into night-dwelling, blood-sucking vampires. He has foraged for and stockpiled food and other necessities for survival, has rigged his home to withstand the army of vampires trying to get in after him, and has even had to burn his wife and daughter after they succumbed to the virus. When he sees human-looking Ruth, he forces her to come home with him, mostly out of loneliness, but also out of fear. Is she one of them, a vampire mutated to withstand the sunlight and water? Or is she someone that Neville can befriend?

This was a wonderful character-driven story that was creepy and enthralling. I hated to put the book down, but loved to pick it back up. It is a quick read that is sure to put you in the mood for Fall and Halloween! Highly recommended for the season.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Her Royal Spyness By Rhys Bowen

Her Royal Spyness book coverIn 1932, when Her Royal Spyness begins, Lady Georgiana is living in Scotland. Thirty-fourth in line to the throne, she is the younger half-sister of the current duke of Rannoch. Unfortunately, title and wealth do not go hand in hand. In fact, she and her immediate family are quite poor, due largely to their late father’s debts and the great crash of '29. However, she decides to head to London and start fresh, but finding work is nearly impossible. Many people are struggling during this time, and being a member of the royal family comes with its own challenges, especially when looking for a job. She is fortunate that her family has a home in London where she can stay. One day, a Frenchman comes to her door stating that Lady Georgiana’s late father lost her family’s estate in a card game to him. Her brother comes down to London, and while the two see their solicitors, the only news they get is bad. Later, Georgiana comes home and finds the Frenchman dead. Suspicion immediately falls on her and her brother. Georgiana must investigate and discover the real killer before she or her brother are accused of his murder.

Her Royal Spyness is an enjoyable series launch with wonderful characters and appearances by real historical figures, like Queen Mary. Great for fans of historical fiction and cozy mysteries.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Letters to a Young Poet book cover “Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet now revered for his beautiful and moving works, was relatively unknown in his own time. Despite that, a young military cadet and budding poet named Kappus stumbled upon one of his books and was so taken with it that he sent Rilke a fan letter praising him and asking for advice. Happily, Rilke wrote back, kicking off years of correspondence on a huge breadth of topics, from the futility of literary criticism to the nature of solitude. They include passionate calls to write, somber ruminations on depression, and comforting advice about love and marriage. After Rilke's death, Kappus published a collection of his letters under the title Letters to a Young Poet.

I'm not often a fan of old classics or poetry, but this was an absolutely breathtaking work. It is endlessly quotable, and some of Rilke's observations are truly heart-rending. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Dan Stevens, and was unable to multitask while listening, because I kept pausing to contemplate Rilke's words. It's a very short work, but definitely worth reading if you have any interest in poetry, philosophy, writing, or Rilke.

Monday, September 24, 2018

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

From Twinkle With Love book coverAspiring filmmaker Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. When fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, it's a dream come true for Twinkle. Then a mysterious "N" starts to email her, and Twinkle is sure it's her longtime crush, Neil Roy (a.k.a. Sahil's twin brother). The only problem is, that in the course of movie making, she's falling for Sahil.

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, With Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you. A must-read for fans of When Dimple Met Rishi.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Kindred book coverWritten in 1979 by Octavia Butler, winner of multiple Hugo awards, Kindred tells the story of Dana, a young black woman living in 1976 California. One day she is inexplicably transported back in time to antebellum Maryland, where she saves a young white boy named Rufus from drowning before being whisked back to her own living room, still dripping wet. She makes this journey to the past several times over the course of the summer, each time seemingly to rescue Rufus at various points throughout his life. The duration of her visits to the past is unpredictable, ranging from minutes to months and while she is there, she is forced to live as a slave. As she unravels her connection to Rufus and his family, she also experiences the consequences, both mental and physical, of slavery.

Readers who usually avoid science fiction should not be put off by this book. Time travel is simply used as a device to view slavery from a 20th century perspective and this novel will appeal to anyone interested in historical fiction, especially relating to race.

Kindred is also available as a graphic novel adaptation.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

The Perfect Mother book coverThe Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy is on the surface a story about the abduction of an infant. However, in depth, it is the story of motherhood, its burdens and its rewards.

A thriller with multiple storylines and twists, The Perfect Mother focuses on a “Mommy Group” called the May Mothers. When one of the mothers’ children is taken, the secrets and insecurities of all of the group members are slowly revealed. Told from multiple perspectives, the book switches narrators each chapter, which some people might find initially confusing, but this reader found to allow a more in-depth storytelling. The characters are diverse and unique but brought together through the shared experience of new motherhood, each struggling with and processing events in very different but very realistic ways. This is not a formulaic thriller, where the reader can guess the outcome of the story. This is a unique story with an I-did-not-see-that-coming conclusion that should be read!