Tag Archives: secrets

Sting by Sandra Brown

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One of the perks of working in a library is getting recommendations from patrons on what they read and liked. Many of the novels that I have come to love the most were little gems that came from these suggestions, so when a number of library members with whom I normally share reading tastes said read “Sting” by Sandra Brown, I put it on my to-read list.  I’d read Sandra Brown years ago, when she was firmly in the romance or romantic suspense period of her career so I thought this would be more of the same and was delighted to find she’d carved out a great thriller, instead.

The novel begins with poised and polished Jordie Bennett in a seedy Southern bar, where she has attracted the attention of the bar patrons, especially two particular men.  Unknown to her, these men are hired assassins and she is their target.  Within a few pages, the hit has turned into a kidnapping as one of the killers, decides that rather than collecting a paltry sum for her death, he can shake her brother down for the 30 million in stolen mob money that he may have access to.  The story then twists into a neat little cat and mouse between Jordie and her kidnapper, Shaw Kinnard, a man with secrets of his own.  In this situation, Jordie must rely on her wits to survive.

“Sting” is like a roller coaster ride of a book, weaving happily in one direction before vering off somewhere completely different. I have read a number of thriller or romantic/thrillers but this one was full of surprises. Everything here works; the characters, the situation, the dialogue and the romantic elements complement each other well.

A number of writers who have honed their skills in the traditional romance market, like Catherine Coulter and Tess Gerritsen have moved on to write superb thrillers which I enjoy, now I will add Sandra Brown to that list. My only regret is that it took me forever to try her again. PS. I just checked out another of her books, “Friction”.

 

 

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Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

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book of tomorrowWhat would you do if you had a book that told you the future? Not everyone’s future, just yours, one day at a time in your own handwriting, from in a magical book that came from the local travelling library.  Sixteen year old Tamara Goodwin finds herself with such a book when she and her mother are sent to live with her aunt and uncle in rural Ireland following the suicide of her father and the loss of her old privileged life. When we first meet Tamara, she’s a self- absorbed teenager with a grudge against life and a worse attitude, but as her life unfolds in the book and as she makes choices to follow or change her future, her true character emerges. Her mother seems to be suffering from severe grief and cannot be roused from her bed, leaving Tamara on her own.

Secrets seem to rule Tamara’s life. Her Aunt Rosaleen and Uncle Arthur are keeping things from her and as she delves for answers, other questions appear.  More mysteries occur when she meets a nun, who knew her mother as a young woman and seems to know facts about Tamara’s past that a stranger couldn’t know.

The author Cecelia Ahern mixes a coming of age story, with a mystery, wrapped up with the sense of the magic that permeates all her novels.  The supernatural element is very subtle, acting as a guide to Tamara but not directing her actions. While this novel is aimed at the young adult audience, the authentic dialogue and sense of place make the story enjoyable for all readers.

Lori Kauzlarick is Public Services Assistant at the Brodie Resource Library.

 

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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The Shadow of the WindI came across an article, recently, about the best libraries in literature: a list that could not fail to include the Cemetery of Lost Books, a fascinating labyrinth of forgotten tomes created by Zafón. Certain rules exist for those fortunate enough to enter this library: any first time visitor is required to wander the endless maze of corridors and shelves until they find a book to adopt. Once selected, you are responsible for this book for life, keeping it safe and ensuring that its contents are never forgotten. As a final rule, you must never talk about the cemetery.

At the age of 10, and still mourning the death of his mother, Daniel Sempere is taken to the Cemetery by his bookseller father. Daniel’s choice is The Shadow of the Wind, the sole surviving copy of a little-known novel by Julián Carax. Transfixed by the story, Daniel is compelled to find out more about its enigmatic author. Apparently, Carax wrote several books, all venerated by those who read them, but as a writer, he is uncelebrated to the point of obscurity in the literary world. With each step that Daniel takes over the next decade to uncover the mystery surrounding this man and his stories, his own life becomes increasingly intertwined with that of Carax’s, at times mirroring his as if it were always his destiny to unravel the sad, secrets of Carax’s life.

In a novel as labyrinthine as the Cemetery itself, Zafón wends a path of intrigue and adventure through the city streets of Barcelona, leading us from one discovery to the next. Who is the disfigured man, Laín Coubert (the name given to the devil in one of Carax’s novels), who has been systematically burning all of Carax’s books, and seems to haunts Daniel at every turn. Daniel may be in possession of the very last of Carax’s novels and it must be protected at all cost.

Delving deeper and deeper into the perplexing warren of clues that will ultimately lead Daniel to the truth, a fascinating array of characters enter his life, providing him with connections of friendship and information, whilst continuing to intensify the parallel between Carax and Daniel’s lives. Fermín Romero de Torres is one such character. A homeless and destitute shadow of a man, he is taken in by Daniel and his father who provide him with work and the restoration of his former dignity. Imprisoned and tortured for his intelligence activities during the war, he is an ebullient and profuse personality. He becomes Daniel’s “side-kick”, but their probing into the muddied lives of people who are either dead or long forgotten, invites the unwelcome attention of the sadistic Inspector Fumero. Nemesis of Fermín, he was also the childhood friend of Carax.

Zafón’s writing is beautiful and intelligent, full of wonderful imagery. The gothic novel is certainly alive and well here with the passionate, yet doomed love story combining with the horror and suspense meted out by destiny itself, and the malicious ignorance of those who claim to love or who seek revenge.

Rosemary

Kate Morton

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Morton is a compelling author, a little cumbersome at times, but she’ll keep you enthralled until the end. Described as gothic in style, each of her three novels unravels the facets of a mysterious event whilst delving into the lives and secrets of the characters involved.

The House at Riverton, Morton’s first novel, retells the life of Grace Bradley, a 98 year-old woman reliving her past. At the age of 14 she enters into service for the Hartford family, proving herself a steadfast and loyal maid. She and Hannah Hartford develop a relationship of sorts that is sustained over the years: a bond born of a secret. As the story unfolds, we learn of other secrets, the greatest of which is saved until the end. This secret uncovers the truth concerning the death of a young poet on the Riverton estate: details known only by Grace, Hannah and Hannah’s sister Emmeline. What guilt has Grace carried with her throughout her life? She makes the decision to reveal everything to her grandson through an audio memoir of her life.

Morton’s second novel, The Forgotten Garden, is a multi-generational story about Nell, now an elderly woman, who discovers that her parents are not really her parents, and that she was an abandoned child. The only remaining link to her past is a white suitcase containing some clothes and a book of fairy tales by author Eliza Makepeace. Nell embarks on a journey that leads her from Australia to England, but fails to discover the full details of her history. Cassandra, Nell’s granddaughter, picks up the search after Nell’s death and through her retelling of events along with Nell’s and Eliza’s, we gradually piece together the mysteries of Nell’s ancestry.

The Distant Hours is Morton’s third novel and is another book about secrets and the intertwining, mysterious lives of the characters. Meredith Burchill is a London evacuee during the Blitz, taken in by Juniper Blythe, the youngest of three eccentric spinster sisters living at Milderhurst Castle. They are the daughters of Raymond Blythe, author of The True History of the Mud Man, a children’s classic. Fifty years into the future, Meredith is married and has a daughter called Edie. A long-lost letter arrives for Meredith from Juniper, the contents of which are extremely distressful. Edie, a London book editor has co-incidentally been invited to write an introduction for a reprint of Raymond’s classic story. She makes her way to Milderhurst Castle to interview the sisters and becomes entangled in the slowly unfolding story and secrets of their past. What was it that upset her mother so much when she read Juniper’s letter, and what is the connection between them all?

Many readers find Morton’s novels wieldy, with too much detail, convoluted story-building, and bouncing between characters and time periods. For me, this makes for great reading. So, if you enjoy this style of writing, Morton has another novel due to come out in October, 2012 called, not surprisingly, The Secret Keeper.

Rosemary

Whiter Than Snow

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Guess what? There’s a new Sandra Dallas book and there are no holds on it. Her latest book “Whiter than snow” just came out at the end of March. The book opens on April 20, 1920 in the small mining town of Swandyke, Colorado. In seconds life is changed for the families of Swandyke when an avalanche hurtles down the Jubilee Mountain covering everything in its path, including 9 children on their way home from school. Not all of them will survive. As the residents gather together in a rescue operation, the tales of the families whose children are missing is told. Joe Cobb, the only Black man in Swandyke is one of the first people to dig. His love for his daughter Jane has brought him to Colorado, after fleeing from Alabama. Sisters Lucy and Dolly Patch have been estranged for years due to a betrayal. Now they are united in the quest to find their children. Civil War veteran Minder Evans searches for his grandson, whom he is raising.  Local prostitute Essie Snowball has deep secrets that rise to the surface. No one knew she had a child, until now. And the mine manager’s wife, Grace Foote opens her home and her heart to all who are suffering. It’s a novel about survival, family and forgiveness. And about learning to accept people regardless what colour their skin is. Enjoy.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

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The Sugar QueenThis is a new book, but I have to sneak it in here. It’s by the author of Garden Spells, which is another book I really enjoyed.  Twenty seven year old Josey Cirrini  lives at home with a very demanding mother and a maid who thinks Josey’s name is Oldsey. Her home is filled with family secrets, such as the stash of sweets she keeps hidden in her closet. It’s a place to seek refuge to eat and read. That’s not all that’s in her closet. Local waitress Della Lee Baker has decided to actually live in the closet. She’s on the run from a bad relationship. She keeps sending Josey out to buy her sandwiches from Chloe Finley and they form a bond. Chloe has an unusual gift – books keep appearing whenever she needs them.  Even if she pushes the book away, it will come back.  It’s a magical story about Josey breaking away from her mother’s control and starting to enjoy life and experiencing romance.  Josey, Chloe and Della Lee are bound together in a way they couldn’t imagine. And there’s a big surprise about Della Lee near the end, one I didn’t see  coming. Karen