Belle

The Badlands by Richard Montanari

Title: The Badlands
Author: Richard Montanari
Genre: Police Procedural, Suspense, Thriller
# of pages: 416
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: borrowed
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: A

Description of the book: In the 4th book about Detectives Balzano and Burnes we learn about a cold case of a young runaway that explodes into a nail biting investigation of a man obsessed with killing girls in a Magician-like fashion, who is also obsessed with puzzles.
Review:
I am very new to crime genre but I find that Montanari really takes time in researching his subject matter and also making sure he has lots of detail in his work. If you enjoy thoroughly fleshed out stories with a gruesome twist and nail biting suspense- this is the series for you. I hope Montanari writes more. :)
Belle

Meet Me in St. Louis by Sally Benson

Title: Meet Me in St. Louis
Author: Sally Benson
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of pages: 290
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: borrowed
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: B

Description of the book: I didn't realize this was a book until I stumbled onto it searching on Librarything. In turn of the century, the smith family is introduced in mini stories- or episodes in which we get to know the girls.
Review:
This is great fun for anyone who may have enjoyed the movie, or anyone who enjoys good, innocent  young adult books (Think Little Women perhaps). It was quite a quick read. :)
Belle

The Thirteenth Tale

Title: The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
Genre: Mystery
# of pages: 406
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: bought
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: A+

Description of the book: Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent decades penning a series of alternative lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer also troubled by her past, Vida uncovers the life she meant to bury for good. The tale is filled with gothic strangeness.
Review: If you've enjoyed any of the gothic classics such as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Rebecca just to name a few, this is definitely the book for you. Setterfield creates an intricate and fascinating world with its own magical feeling much like Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland. You will forget you are reading a book, but rather visiting a strange and fantastical universe. Setterfield completes her main character's personality with a love of books- a perfect addition to the story. I believe the Thirteenth Tale truly deserves its place among the classics. A definite keeper!

Belle

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson

Title: Murder on Astor Place
Author: Victoria Thompson
Genre: Cozy, Historical Fiction
# of pages: 288
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: borrowed
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: A+

Description of the book: With the Victorian backdrop of New York City, this cozy introduces us to Sarah Brandt, a midwife who is estranged from her wealthy family. When Alicia VanDamm is found strangled to death in the boardinghouse of a client of Sarah's, she must put aside her midwife duties to help Detective Sargeant Frank Malloy solve the mystery behind her death.
Review:
This is probably one of the best written cozy's I have ever read. The author was very historically accurate in a lot of the aspects of the story, and everything was very well written. Sarah was very intelligent  and both characters were very interesting. If you enjoyed Titanic or Gangs of New York, the historical background created in this story is for you!  I wonder if we will see some romance in the subsequent novels?
Belle

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

Title: Glimmerlgass
Author: Jenna Black
Genre: YA, Romance, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
# of pages: 304
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: bought
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: A

Description of the book: From the outset of the novel, we are introduced to Dana, whom we assume to be a normal teenager who has normal growing pains. She and her mom move constantly to the point where she can't make friends. Another thing is that her mom is a real drunk, making it impossible to form normal relationships if she gets to stay anywhere long enough to do it. After an embarassing scene at her school choir concert Dana's decided she's had enough. She sneaks around contacts her father which her Mom has told her since she was a little girl that he was a bad idea to get involved with.
Review:
There were a lot of fun Characters in this novel and the world and politics that Black describes are my favorite part of the book. The story was a bit predictable but I think the author has a lot of promising characters and story line to work with so I will be continuing with the series.
Belle

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Title: Remarkable Creatures
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of pages: 299
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: bought
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: A

Description of the book: From the moment Mary Anning is struck by lightning as a baby, she is different. As a poor and uneducated youngster, Mary Anning starts hunting for fossils when she meets upperclass spinster Elizabeth Philpot who takes her under her wing.
Review: This book's narrative flowed very well and was easy and interesting to read. The language wasn't overly complicated either. It was interesting the way the narration changes between Mary and Elizabeth by chapter. The religious tension in the story about evolution was thoroughly discussed and I enjoyed that. I thought Chevalier was going to discuss the affects of Anning's lightning strike. Great read!
Belle

The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry

Title: The Romanov Prophecy
Author: Steve Berry
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of pages: 400
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: borrowed
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: B+

Description of the book: A new era has dawned for Russia. The government is looking to restore the monarchy by finding the closest relative by blood to the Romanov Dynasty. Our hero, Miles Lord, is an American Lawyer sent over by his employer to ensure there are no problems with the current background of the most likely contender, Stefan Baklanov. What Lord ends up finding out and entangling himself in is much more than he bargained for.
Review:
A classically themed adventure for the adventurist and history buff in all of us. Rasputin's prophecies are used in the story extensively. I wonder if these prophecies were real or made up by the author? Hmm, this would be a fun research project.

Last read of 2010!

Belle

The Lost Cyclist by David Herlihy

Title: The Lost Cyclist
Author: David Herlihy
Genre: Biography
# of pages: 301
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: borrowed
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]:
C
Description of Book: In the 1880s bicycling was gaining attraction as a new sport and past time for Victorian gentlemen. These were referred to as wheelmen. During this time, we see the transition from the old bicycles (with the huge wheel in the front) to the modern bicycle with equal wheels. This story is of Frank Lenz, an up and coming competition bicyclist, who decides to go around the world on his bicycle.
Review: Let me first state that the title is misleading. There was a lot of back story about the history of the bicycle (which made sense and I enjoyed thoroughly). What was strange was the author going back and forth between The Story of Frank Lenz and following the Story of William Sachtleben and his friend go around the world previously. This did not make sense until you read the last 100 or so pages- in which Sachtleben is directly involved in helping solve the disappearance of Lenz. So, I think maybe the title should have been more carefully chosen so it doesn't confuse the audience. In the last chapter the author does make some conjectures which I felt were helpful in resolving the story.
Belle

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

Title: The Ice Queen
Author: Alice Hoffman
Genre: Magical Realism, Romance
# of pages: 211
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: bought
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: B

Description of the book: The story opens as a little girl wishes her mother dead on a snowy, ice night in New Jersey. Full of illusions to fairy tales, our heroine grows up to be a librarian who moves to Florida to be closer to her brother Ned after their Grandmother dies. Tragedy strikes again and she finds herself a lightning strike victim. She finally starts living when she seeks out Lazarus Jones, another fellow lightning strike victim.
Review:
I have only read one Alice Hoffman book Practical Magic. I do enjoy magical realism, and this book sated me. I had no idea it was going to feature lightning strike victims- I read about this in a Charlaine Harris series and I still find it fascinating- these tidbits about survivors was probably my favorite part of the book. Hoffman layered her characters guilt and sadness with fairy tales. Reading some Anderson or Grimm brothers will be a nice follow up to this. Overall,a nice way to spend an afternoon and with a cup of tea.
Belle

March by Geraldine Brooks

Title: March
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of pages: 304 pages
Start date:
End date:
Borrowed/bought: bought
My rating of the book, F- [worst] to A [best]: B+

Description of the book: This book follows the story of Mr. March of the famous March family of Little Women by L. M. Alcott. Mr. March enrolls to be a Chaplain in the Union Army. The story is told from his point of view with bits of epistolary style and then the last part of the book during his illness ( mentioned in Little Women) is told from the viewpoint of his wife.
Review: While definitely not a children's book in the same sense that Little Women was-
I think Alcott would have been pleased with this story were she still here. I felt like the story definitely did add a lot of depth to not only Mr. March but to Marmee as well. There were a lot of issues discussed in the novel that had never had occurred to me but definitely fit in with the characterization of the March family such as them being a safe house for the underground railroad. Brooks definitely did do her research with Alcott's background and Mr. March finally has his own voice.