Book Reviews

Happy Holidays from LitChat

We are taking our annual winter holiday break beginning...

Fields of Blood; Religion and the History of Violence

By Karen Armstrong
Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb

In her latest book, Fields of Blood, religious historian Karen Armstrong, addresses a common claim in the current dialogue on the value of religious faith: that religious conviction is often a source of violence. Cases in point, 9/11 carried out by Islamic extremists, and in Christian history the easy targets are the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Troubles in Ireland… read more here

LitChat GiveBooks 2014

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

Neverhome, by Laird Hunt

Reviewed by Billie Hinton

Neverhome is the story of a young farmer’s wife, Constance, who recreates herself as a male Union soldier and travels from Indiana to Ohio to “defend the Republic.” She gives her name as Ash Thompson from Darke County, gets her uniform, and marches with her new regiment south to war. Laird Hunt’s lyrical novel is written in the voice of Constance/Ash, and it is her gritty, distinctive voice that drives the story as she quickly earns the nickname Gallant Ash, Read more here.

The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell

Reviewed by Linda Lindsey Davis

It is 1924. Prim, plain Rose Baker lives in a boarding house in Brooklyn. She spends her days typing police interrogation reports in a Lower East side precinct. While her work days are filled with stories of shootings, stabbings and robberies, the most exciting thing in her personal life is whether the boarding house stew will be beef or chicken tonight. Rose’s regimented, predictable life begins to fall apart when Odalie Lazar is hired for the precinct typing pool. more…

Turning on a Dime, by Maggie Dana

Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

Time travel. The Civil War. Multi-cultural. Horses. Romance. There aren’t many books that fit such a wide variety of categories—but Turning on a Dime by Maggie Dana does just that.

Samantha DeVries’ father is Lucas DeVries, a third-generation American of Dutch descent and master horseman; her mother, Gretchen, is an African-American and a history buff who has traced her family’s lineage back to 1875.

Caroline Chandler is the daughter of a plantation owner in Mississippi who prefers her brother’s… Read more.

Necessary Lies, By Diane Chamberlain

Reviewed by Linda Lindsey Davis

Ivy and Mary was here.

These five words are carved into the closet door of an old Raleigh North Carolina home. No one knows the origin of the words but each of the previous owners has been cautioned by their predecessor not to remove the words or cover them up.

Diane Chamberlain’s latest mystery is set in the South of the 1960s, when the social realities of … Read more here.

The Black Hour, by Lori Rader-Day

Reviewed by Rich Magahiz

The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day is set up as a crime novel where the reader has no doubt as to who committed the crime in question or how. Still, the reader feels a lot of suspense as the main character, Amelia Emmet, tries to unravel various mysteries that her near-fatal shooting and the suicide of the shooter brings to the surface. Some of the mysteries are quite clear to her…

Citadel, By Kate Mosse

Reviewed by Robyn McIntyre

From the story of Sparta’s 300, the Maccabees, through to the lunch counter sit-ins of the Civil Rights movement, history has hundreds of thousands of stories of individuals who continued to fight their enemies, though outnumbered. Most of these stories are framed by what the people were fighting against—tyranny, religious persecution, manifest destiny, genocide. In Citadel, Kate Mosse writes about what the fight is for—love.

Chasing the Sun, By Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester will be guest host of #LitChat on June 11, 2014, from 4-5 p.m. E.D.T. Follow #LitChat in Twitter, or login to our direct channel at www.nurph.com/litchat.

Reviewed by Mary Vensel White

In Natalia Sylvester’s debut novel, Chasing the Sun, the curtain rises on a domestic drama involving Andres and Marabela, an upper-class Peruvian couple. Married for many years, they have grown apart and dispassionate. They sleep separately and spend most of their time in their own pursuits.

Book Review: Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

Reviewed by Kim Miner Litton

With some authors, you really have to wait for their next project. By then, you wonder if they’ll be able to recapture the magic of that first book, or if you’ll love them same way. In fact, you wonder if you really ever liked them in the first place or if you are just remembering them more fondly in retrospect. Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park exploded on the YA book scene in February of 2013; it was critically acclaimed and left many wondering what else we could expect from this new, exciting voice in realistic fiction.

Book Review: The Twin’s Daughter, Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Reviewed by Kim Miner Litton

Many teens will come to me looking for a historical fiction novel in the young adult section and, honestly, it’s a bit hard to find them. Of the ones that do exist, many authors have trouble translating the historical experience without alienating (or boring) young readers. The Twin’s Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logstead had all the pomp and beauty of a Victorian historical with the creeping uncertainty of a Gothic mystery. Read more here

Book Review: Lexicon, by Max Berry

Reviewed by Rich Magahiz

Thriller is the chosen genre of the 21st century. We are by now very familiar with its vocabulary of shadowy conspiracies, strangers with unknown motivations, mooks who find themselves on the short side of a firearm, traveling undetected through public transportation, the constant threat of assassination, the puppet master, jailbreaks. In his new novel, Lexicon, Max Barry has come up with a way to infuse it with something new by mixing in some speculative brain science. Read more here.

Book Review: Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms), by Brandon Mull

Reviewed by Christian Roulland Kueng
Sky Raiders is the first in a series called Five Kingdoms by best selling author, Brandon Mull. Mull is also the author responsible for the Fablehaven and Beyonders series, in addition to picture books Pingo and Pingo and the Playground Bully. What starts out as a fun Halloween with a visit to a weird haunted house, Cole Randolph and his friends, Dalton and Jenna, discover something more sinister happening in the basement… Read more here.

Book Review: The Explanation for Everything

Reviewed by Carolyn Burns Bass

In this intelligent and seductive novel of meaning and morality, Lauren Grodstein creates a story that challenges the deep-rooted dogmas we use to protect and provoke ourselves and others. Begin with Andy Waite, a widower of two young daughters stunned by the senseless death of his wife six years past. A brilliant biologist coming up on tenure at an obscure liberal arts college, he’s on the brink of discovery.

Read more here.

Book Review: The Transcriptionist, Amy Rowland

Reviewed by Mary Vensel White

The TranscriptionistAmy Rowland’s The Transcriptionist opens to a view of the Recording Room, within the offices of a fictional New York newspaper, the Record. It is a gray-colored, sparse room, long-forgotten by most employees and inhabited during work hours by Lena, the Record’s sole transcriptionist. She sits alone all day, headset attached, transcribing everything that’s been recorded for the paper. Like the room, most aren’t aware of her existence. Read more here.

Read More