Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review : 'The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen," a Paranormal Mystery by Katherine Howe.

In The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe we are taken into the strange and unique world of Wes Auckerman.  Having just arrived in New York to begin his summer term he finds himself on a film shoot for a séance at the home of a psychic in the East village.

As he views the setting through his viewfinder, he sees a beautiful young woman that intrigues him. Continuing his shoot his is disappointed when he cannot find her.  He is smitten and cannot forget her beauty and finds himself returning to the home of the psychic to find her.

When he finds her she too seems very attracted to him. Her name is Annie Van Sinderen, but she is mysterious as well as beautiful. She often seems to disappear just when he is getting settled and there is a great deal of mystery surrounding her. Yet even as his concern grows she reappears and often seems to have no memory of occurrences. She wonders why he has not shown up when in fact he has been waiting on her.

As the mystery deepens Wes begins to wonder if she is even real, yet his heart assures him she is. But is it possible that he is only imagining her beauty and nature. Others have seen her so she must be real. Can he find the mystery of her being, in order to find a way to smooth their path? His emotions are in turmoil and he is afraid for her. Annie is convinced that she has lost a ring, and Wes must help her before it is too late. Will this missing ring solve the mystery?

Howe has given us a paranormal mystery and love story of emotive and serendipitous proportions. Her characters are just the right mix of mystery and heart. You find Wes to be a romantic and he falls hard for Anne.  Anne is a mix of beauty, mystery and kindness that draws you in an unexpected way.  You are haunted by the beauty and beguiling mix of this story, and Howe takes you into a New York of both old and new.  Be prepared to fall in love with romance and mystery all over again, as you find yourself immersed in a strange yet fascinating tale.

If you love romantic, paranormal mysteries you will need this work for your library. It is a wonderful work of mysterious secrets twisted with romance and bits of darkness. Howe has given us a beautiful tale of love and threaded it through the beauty of New York.

This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group with interesting topics to discuss throughout.

Rating 4\5

Friday, October 9, 2015

Women Crime Writers, Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s, edited by Sarah Weinman

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: ' Women Crime Writers, Eight Suspense Novels of  the 1940s & 50s', edited by Sarah Weinman.

Books on crime often dominate the market.  The Library of America has released a collectable set of works by women crime writers from the 1940s & 50s. Edited by Sarah Weinman, these eight suspense novels showcase the talent of the women authors what wrote them.

These stories in the first book from the 1940s authors include, The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis, In A Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes, Laura by Vera Caspary, and The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. This set of works will keep you enthralled with the psychological suspense that causes chills. There is much of the type of work that Hitchcock portrayed in his movies and you are both intrigued and repulsed at the occurrences.

Each work captures horror and suspense from that of a young career girl, to a campus thriller, moving on to a serial killer and then following up by a young wife in wartime that must take extreme measures when her family is threatened.  Each work is packed with differing stories yet the theme of terror bleeds through and holds you enthralled. The physiological ploys involved seem very familiar to the crimes of today.

The second book entails the work of the woman crime authors of the 1950s and does not disappoint with works such as Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong, The Blunderer by Patricia Highsmith, Beast in View by Margaret Miller and Fools’ Gold by Dolores Hitchen.  As with the 1940s volume, these works contain stories of terror and physiological harm, from the story of a child entrusted to the car of a psychotic babysitter, to the parallel lives of two men driven to murder, followed by a study of madness and followed up with a tale of robbery and redemption.

What you find is that the early women writers were quite imaginative and brilliant at creating that tenseness and terror that a good crime novel needs. The only differences from today’s works are the slang and words of the time, which actually makes the reading just a bit more fun, for it is more of what you see and hear in movies of the early years. It takes you back to that time and place.

If you are looking for a great holiday gift for the crime book aficionado in your family this would be a great find.  Recently released by the Library of America it comes in a two book set that would be great for their library. Each writer has their own take and individuality on addressing and bringing forth terror and fear and you will find the entire set to be fascinating. Sarah Weinman has done a great job of editing and bringing forth this great work of historical significance in the writing world.

Rating 5/5

Monday, October 5, 2015

The 3RD Woman by Jonathan Freedland

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The 3RD Woman,' A Political Thriller by Jonathan Freedland.

Jonathan Freedland’s The 3RD Woman takes us into a future where the United States and China have struck a bargain. In return for forgiving the trillions in debt owed to them, the United States has allowed them to establish a military presence on U.S. soil. Due to many economic downturns America has left herself vulnerable, and the evidence of China’s dominance is everywhere.

Madison Webb is a journalist that is obsessed with exposing the lies and corruption that are corroding the American dream and society. When her sister is brutally murdered the police insist it is an isolated incident. Madison believes the cops may be hiding something. As she digs for answers she finds that her sister’s savage death is only one of many, and could be a part of a very dangerous conspiracy.

Even with her own life on the line, Madison refuses to let go of the story. She is on the run and understands that she is exposing more than the most powerful are willing to allow. Can she find the answers before her life and home are destroyed for good?

His depth of realism has you worrying and puts you in the fighting spirit of reviving our great nation, and also takes us into the darkness and secrets of power hungry and powerful nations, willing to do what it takes to hide their secrets.

Freedland takes us on a chilling ride that creates many of the challenges and dangers that we often worry about. He takes a harrowing possibility and makes it fact, then drags in the dangers of collusion and hidden agendas. All the while he develops a story line that has potential and then fills it with characters that you really care about.

If you enjoy political intrigue and suspense, you will find this a perfect fit for your library. The brilliance of the story actually raises the hair on the back of your neck, so be prepared for the reality of such a possibility.

This would be a great work for a book club or reading group. A political thriller with teeth.

Rating 4\5

Benjamin Franklin, Huge Pain in my ... by Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Benjamin Franklin, Huge Pain in my ...' by Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel. 

Franklin Isaac Saturday is having a terrible time. His father has been located cross country, and his mom is remarried. Middle school is not what he expected, and he can’t seem to figure out the rules. In Benjamin Franklin, Huge Pain in my … by Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel, we are introduce to a comedic and historical work of interesting proportions.

Ike (as he is known) has a crush on his lab partner, but she doesn’t even see him. He has an opportunity to pick up extra credits by writing a letter to a Famous Historical Person. He picks Benjamin Franklin because of the name they share. He steals an old stamp from his stepfather’s collection just to add some authenticity. Then to make Claire (his lab partner) laugh, he mails it.

It is when Ben Franklin writes back that his life turns around and he begins a strange long distant friendship. How is it possible to communicate with such a heroic figure from the past; Ike isn’t sure but it has brought him closer to his crush.

To top it all off, Ben Franklin seems to have some of the same type of problems, so Ike finds himself continuing to write. Unaware of the ramifications of changing the past, he shares information that could change the entire course of history. Can he repair the possible damage he has begun?

This is a zany, funny look at time travel of sorts, as it relates to communication. You will find yourself entranced in the antics of Ike as he seeks advice from his historical mentor, and even tries to mail himself so he can actually meet him. The characterizations of both Ike and Claire keep the fun going with their silliness, but at the same time you are introduced to bits of real history that is fascinating.

If you have a young adult who loves to read and you can’t find just the right work, you will find this to be both fun and interesting for them. While written for the younger crowd it is also a tickling funny read for those who love books and especially the young at heart. You will be intrigued by the ideas and snatches of history included.

This would be a great book for a school book club or reading group. The fun is only part of its charm.

Rating 4\5