Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Grange House by Sarah Blake

"There are two kinds of stories to tell.  One of love and one of ghosts."  

Grange House by Sarah Blake is both.  Maisie Thomas is on the verge of womanhood in 1896 when her family returns to Maine and Grange House for the summer.  It is there that the ghosts of the past begin to emerge:  first, with Nell Grange, the last owner of Grange House, and the secrets that she shares with Maisie; then, with a tragic death that affects Maisie's entire family.
     Maisie soon finds herself torn between two suitors, as well as caught in the tangled lies of the past and her own wordless longings for the future.  For "what was longed for and did not come to pass, that is the stuff of haunting..."

     Grange House is a beautifully written novel.  I just wish there had been a few more actual ghosts in it; I guess the search for the perfect ghost story continues!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

     I spotted this book on the new arrivals display at the library and checked it out on a whim.  Talk about a serendipitous find! I have always been fascinated by Roanoke Island and what happened to its first lost colony.  Over 400 years ago, the 114 colonists on Roanoke mysteriously disappeared.  In Gwenda Bond's Blackwood it's happened again:  overnight, 114 people currently living on Roanoke disappear without a trace.  There are only two people on the island who might be able to figure out why, and they're both just seventeen.  Phillips Rawlings is the sheriff's delinquent son who happens to be able to hear the voices of the dead.  And then there's Miranda Blackwood, daughter of the town drunk, who is bound to the island in some mysterious way that not even she understands, and whose family carries a curse that dates back to the original colonists.  A curse that might be the key to the disappearances, past and present.
     Miranda's father is murdered, and both Phillips and Miranda are suspected in his death.  But they know that someone else on the island is responsible, the same someone who is trying to bring back the original colonists of Roanoke Island.  Somehow they must find a way to stop him before his dark alchemy affects them all.
     This was a fun read.  Bond's theory of what happened to the first colonists is original and well-researched, with just the right touch of the supernatural and unearthly.  And her two main characters are both engaging and memorable.  I liked this book a lot and look forward to reading her next one.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Celebrating Poe's 204th Birthday!

Edgar Allan Poe

A Dream Within a Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow--
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if Hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand--
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep - while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, Berthe Morisot

     Today is Berthe Morisot's birthday.  She was born on January 14, 1841.  One of the few women who consistently exhibited with the Impressionists, Morisot "lived her paintings and painted her life."  She is one of my favorite artists; and Reading is one of my favorite paintings.

The Green Parasol (L'Ombrelle Verte) or Reading (La Lecture), 1873

      "For paradise in the world to come is uncertain, but there is indeed a heaven on earth, a heaven which we inhabit when we read a good book." 
                --Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop

     To see more of Morisot's amazing pastels, watercolors, and oils, visit 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Confessions of a Bookworm

     It's always a good day when a box of books arrives in the mail.  Today I got a lovely box of books from Powells.  It was only a small box this time, mostly because I haven't read the last books I bought from Powells.  At least, not yet.  Buying books is my addiction.  Just call me a bookaholic.  
     It all started in elementary school with book orders.  Remember those? We didn't just have Scholastic book orders when I was in school; we had Arrow and Troll, too.  Three thin booklets for me to take home and pore over, circling every book I wanted, then negotiating with my parents over how many I could actually buy.
     And when they finally came?  Nothing beat the excitement of book-order day!  My teacher would stack small piles of books all over her desk and then call us up one by one to collect them.  I remember hugging my new books all the way home, eager and impatient to start reading them. 
     I still have some of those book-order books.  And today, I have new books to add to them.  Any day that includes a new book (or two) for your bookshelves is a good day.  
Happy Reading!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton

     The first murder looks like a Jack the Ripper copycat killing.  So do the second and third murders.  But as the police continue their investigations, they start to realize that the motive might not be 'ripping' but revenge.  Nothing in this novel is what it seems.  Even the main character, a young detective constable named Lacey Flint, has some dark secrets.  The lead D.I., Mark Joesbury, finds himself attracted to Lacey, but he doesn't trust her.  In fact, he suspects she might have something to do with the murders...
     I read this book in two days.  There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end.  It's only in the last few pages that the truth finally comes to light.  I love a good plot twist, and this book has plenty!  The interplay between the characters, the secrets and hidden truths, and the mounting tension as the murderer moves inexorably closer, make this a gripping novel that is hard to put down.  This is a must-read!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Bookish Resolution

"There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag--and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement.  Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty.  Don't read a book out of its right time for you."                                                     --Doris Lessing

   This year, I'm making a resolution I know I can keep:  to only read books in 2013 that I want to read.  Because reading should be a joy, not a chore!

Happy New Year!