Book Reviews

 
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RENE DENFIELD: THE CHILD FINDER

Reviewed by Judy Cummings, Between the Covers bookstore

The Enchanted, also written by Denfeld, was original in theme and voice and I loved it! The Child Finder is a variation on a theme but original in its presentation. Grief-stricken parents turn to Naomi. She is a child finder. She is their last hope. Their daughter Madison has been missing for three years and there is little hope that she will be found–and found alive. Naomi is fierce and relentless, but has her own demons to confront. A page-turner, perfect for late summer reading.

 
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JESSICA SHATTUCK: THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE

Reviewed by Maggie Kane, Between the Covers bookstore

I read the store's advanced copy of this title last year (one of the many benefits of working at Between the Covers), and I'm positive that readers of historical fiction, and readers who don't shy away from conflicted characters, will want this book in their  "To Read" stack.  

The Women in the Castle explores the guilt and the delusion of German civilians in the aftermath of WWII. Shattuck's characters are actively resistant to passively complicit; for every person that spoke out against the Third Reich, hundreds remained silent, out of fear, indifference, or support of the regime. As seen at a lavish dinner party in the first chapter, Marianne von Lingenfels knows Adolf Hitler will bring devastation to Germany. Under his explosive and enticing rhetoric, he is a bully, with an increasingly powerful arsenal of weapons and deluded followers at his disposal. Marianne's personal loathing of the Fuhrer intensifies when her resister husband is executed for a failed assassination attempt. It becomes Marianne's mission to traverse her devastated  country to rescue fellow resistance widows. But the women she encounters, Benita and Ania, are not at all the Nazi-hating compatriots she expected. Among the three women, there are plenty of skeletons in the closet.  

After the war ends, and the monstrosities of the Holocaust are made known, the international community demanded answers from Germany. How could this sophisticated country so dutifully follow a madman? How could they not know what was happening to the Jewish people of Europe, or Hitler's outspoken opponents? If they did know (and how could they not?) shouldn't they be punished too? There are rarely easy answers in The Women in the Castle, and that grey area makes for a unique and discussion-worthy read.

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LEAH THOMAS: WHEN LIGHT LEFT US

Reviewed by Katie Boeckl, Between the Covers bookstore

What most of us know of stories of alien encounters are when people share what the aliens stole from their--months of their lives, their insides, their brains. It's the stuff of science fiction legend. But what if an alien visited and first, he gave things to you. Friendship, hope, comfort. How much worse would it be when he left? For the three Vasquez siblings, it seems that nothing can replace their father's absence. Their extraterrestrial friend, Luz, comes pretty darn close, but then he leaves. And now they have even greater holes in their lives. Everything feels different and there is no going back. Only onward. And only with each other.

 
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KAREN DIONNE, THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER

Reviewed by Karen Ford, Between the Covers bookstore

Brilliant storytelling, this is the story of Helena, raised in captivity with her mother, on the wild marsh land in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The story skillfully alternates between Helena's past and present, interweaving the complicated tale between father and daughter, hunter and prey. Each chapter begins with a selection from Hans Christian Anderson's The Marsh King, setting the scene for the coming tale.

 Helena, as an adult, is happily married to Stephen, with two young daughters. Her past remains her past—until the notorious child abductor, known as the Marsh King, escapes from a maximum security prison. Helena knows what she must do to protect the lives closest to her. The story is chilling and suspenseful, and guaranteed to keep you reading long into the wee hours of the night.

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Lindsay Eagar, Race to the Bottom of the Sea

Reviewed by Michelle Boyer, School Visit Committee Member

Race to the Bottom of the Sea is a page-turning mystery infused with science fiction, a hint of the past, an inventive spirit, and characters so well-developed we can see into their hearts and minds. Fall in love with eleven-year-old Fidelia Quail, a strong-minded inventor and young oceanographer who must find her way after her world is turned upside down by the tragic accidental death of her marine scientist parents. Fidelia is guilt-ridden by thoughts that she could have prevented the accident and by her lack of appreciation for her aunt’s efforts to give her a new life. To add to her troubles, Fidelia is kidnapped by pirates!  The side mystery in the book has enough predictability to let middle grade readers feel like proper sleuths.  But to learn the full details of how all of the characters fit together and what becomes of Fidelia, the author keeps her readers glued to the pages until the very end. Younger middle grade readers may need some help with attention to the time period flashbacks, but the 400+ page length won’t be an issue in this captivating story.