Friday, March 11, 2016

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

The Marvels
by Brian Selznick

Brian Selznick's masterful illustrations and writing are combined in this beautiful tome which captures your attention immediately with the elaboratly decorated cover and gilded pages. The first part of the story (approximately half of the 665 pages) is told with Selznick's signature style of illustrations, black and white, telling the story of a lone survivor - Billy Marvel - of a shipwreck in 1766. As the story progresses the reader follows the Marvel family through five generations of actors and theater life.

Abruptly the Marvel story ends (as do the pictures) and a new story (in text form) begins in 1990 as Joseph runs away from school to locate his eclectic and estranged Uncle Albert. Joseph finds himself in a home unluck he has never been. 

How are the two stories connected? Who are the Marvels? What connection do they have to Uncle Albert and Joseph? All of the questions will be answered in this marvelous story loosely based on The Dennis Severs House located in Spitalfields, London.

Brian Selznick created a wonderful book trailer for this book. It can be seen on The Marvels website.

I highly recommend reading any and all of Mr. Selznick's other books, such as the following.
  • The Houdini Box (1991)
  • The Boy of a Thousand Faces (2000)
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007) - Caldecott Winner
  • Wonderstruck (2011)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Harlan Coben Doesn't Fool Around

Back in 2012, I had the most wonderful experience of meeting two authors I had only recently discovered: Harlan Coben and Lisa Scottoline. My mother and I attended the Texas Library Association's LiFTA Luncheon in order to hear them speak about their books. Scottoline spoke about Come Home, which had only been released a week earlier and Harlan Coben enticed readers with bits of his book Stay Close. Since then I have become a huge fan of both of these fantastic authors and when I see information about a new book coming out, I have to jump on it immediately.

I was granted early access to Harlan Coben's next bestseller, which will be released March 22, 2016, title through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Fool Me Once
by Harlan Coben

Like his previous books, Mr. Coben leads you down a pathway and then allows you to plummet off the cliff not realizing you were lead astray. The book revolves around Maya Stern, a retired helicopter pilot, surrounded by scandal and also the murders of her sister (while she was in Iraq) and her husband (soon after her return). When Maya discovers a video of her "dead" husband on the nanny cam given to her by her best friend following her husband's funeral suspicions begin to arise. Could Joe be alive? Who killed her sister? Why is death following Maya and who will be next?

This stand alone novel by this best selling author will have you on edge until the very end. I highly recommend this book. Once you find Coben, you will want to read everything he writes.

**To comply with guidelines set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, Dutton (part of Penguin Group) has provided a complimentary electronic copy of Fool Me Once for review purposes. My review is in no way influenced by the author or publishing company and is solely my opinion.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Great Listens by Mary Kubica

I have recently developed a new addiction. It is an addiction my son has had for years...listening to audiobooks. Don't get me wrong, I have listened to audiobooks in the past, just not to this extent.

I remember when the Harry Potter books were released in audiobook format our family purchased them as quickly as possible. It was back in the day when we took at least one family road trip a year. These trips included my husband, my son, and my parents. All being voracious readers, listening to books as we traveled seemed like a great idea. I never got a great deal out of these listening sessions. As a back seat rider the soothing ride quickly put me to sleep.

I find it so funny to think back on those days driving across the country listening to Jim Dale with his amazing collection of voices spin the tale of Harry and his friends, because my son, Timothy (four at the time) would make comments like, "Always Harry Potter" and "I hate Harry Potter". He wanted to watch his train videos, which he would do because we had a conversion van at the time. Now, at age twenty, he is beyond excited for our upcoming trip to Florida when we will be visiting Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. His feelings and opinions of Harry Potter have greatly changed, just as mine have of audiobooks.

I have discovered I can listen to a book while doing other activities and thoroughly enjoy the story. The best part is being able to increase the amount of literature I cover! I can read one book and listen to another without any problem, just not at the exact same. [Wouldn't that be awesome if you could listen to one book while reading another?!?]

So, to get to the point of this entry...Mary Kubica's The Good Girl and Pretty Baby. I recently discovered Hoopla, an amazing digital service provided by my local library. The service provides library users with 24/7 access to eBooks, movies, television shows, music, and audiobooks. While searching through the audiobooks, I discovered The Good Girl. It sounded like it would be an interesting book, so I checked it out.

The Good Girl
by Mary Kubica
The Good Girl (2014) is the debut novel of Mary Kubica, and what a way to start! The story centers around the abduction of Mia Dennett. Since I listened to this book, I am assuming each chapter was titled Before or After (preceeded by the name of the character from whose viewpoint the chapter was being told), at least this is how the narrator began. Eve, Mia's mother, Collin, Mia's abductor, and Gabe, the detective investigating Mia's abduction tell the main portion of the story. I loved the character development and really cared about each of the people telling their story. It really was a wonderful book to listen to, especially with the various readers performing the narration as the characters. It was a much more realistic, almost as if you were physically there participating in the action.

The book has been compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I can see where some would make the connection because of the narrative and the twists in the storyline.

Pretty Baby
by Mary Kubica

As soon as I finished listening to The Good Girl, I went back to Hoopla to see if Kubica had written anything since this debut. I was thrilled to find Pretty Baby (2015). I immediatly checked it out and downloaded the book. I listened to book as much as I could between work and sleep. The narration for this book was performed by a woman (Cassandra Campbell) and a man (Tom Taylorson) which again provided the sense that you were in the presence of the characters as they told their story. I wanted to know about the characters telling this story, Heidi, Willow, and Chris, and it was much more believeable because of the different narrators. Like her debut, this book provided a wonderful twist and lived up to the hashtag #PsychologicalThriller. 

I'm very excited to say I have recieved an ARC of Ms. Kubica's newest book, Don't You Cry, which will be released in June 2016. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but I will be posting my comments about the book as soon as I have finished it.