San Diego ~ 5943 Balboa Avenue, Suite #100, San Diego, CA 92111 ~ 858-268-4747
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San Diego ~ 5943 Balboa Avenue, Suite #100, San Diego, CA 92111 ~ 858-268-4747
Redondo Beach Satellite ~ 2810 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach, CA 90278 - 310-542-6000
Check out what we (MG staff and friends) have recently read and enjoyed, and other recommended reads.
HOT OFF THE PRESS!
Check out the older not-so-hot-off-the-press reviews from each staff member.
From our May 2016 Newsletter:
A young girl running through the woods falls into a pit. At the bottom of the pit is a giant metal hand. The hand, buried for millennia, defies any explanation involving humans. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin and a team of scientists and military staff work together, under the direction of a mysterious unnamed supervisor, to seek out and assemble other body parts, and try to glean what the significance of the dismantled Titan means, and who left it to be discovered. Neuvel deals with a vast array of issues – personal and political consequences, questions of morality and manipulation – as well as fascinating scientific speculation, in a brilliantly crafted debut. – Maryelizabeth
I am satisfied with the events of Night Shift like Mr. Snuggly is satisfied by a full cupboard of cat food. Witch Fiji Cavanaugh, one of my favorite residents of Midnight, finds herself at the crux of the most recent crisis, with some major life decisions to face to try to avert disaster. But first, she must deal with the unexpected and unwelcome presence of her sister. I am very fond of the community that’s sprung up at the crossroads of Witch Light Road and Davy Highway, complete with all their secrets (and connections to the Charlaineverse), and hope that Charlaine will find other stories to share, if not more novels. – Maryelizabeth
There’s an adage that creativity can spring from early hardships or trauma. This certainly holds true for Imogen and Marin, two sisters who have both been accepted into an elite performing arts school. The retreat is not just an opportunity to develop their respective crafts but also a chance to escape their extremely abusive mother; however, there is more to their new school than they realize. Heavily inspired by classic fairy tales, this book is dark yet hopeful, featuring characters with realistic aspirations and pains. Roses and Rot explores how far some will go to succeed and put the past behind them. Kat Howard has crafted a well-written and solid debut novel, already building anticipation for her next work. – Jared
Maestra is the first in a trilogy featuring 24-year-old Judith Rashleigh, a character so bold and fearless you won’t know whether to slap or admire her. She was educated at Oxford as an art historian after being brought up in a lower class home with an abusive mother. Her ambitions and resourcefulness have taken her to some pretty risky places, while she simultaneously tries to make it in London’s Art World and make enough money to live on. When her plans unravel, she finds herself inside the world of the über-wealthy as the companion to a young businessman and begins to use her unique skills to maintain her lifestyle there. Maestra takes many unexpected turns and twists, and took me by surprise time and again. It is like nothing I have read before … and I look with anticipation to the sequel.
I am not the only Maestra fan. Prior to publication, it was optioned for a movie and sold in 43 countries. – Terry
Set in the 1912 glittering world of London society, this Edwardian tale begins with a very private gathering at Hermione Kingsley’s Chester Square mansion to celebrate the 39th birthday of Winston Churchill, the up-and-coming First Lord of the Admiralty. When it culminates with a knife protruding from the chest of one of the guests, Lady Clementine Montford and her pragmatic housekeeper Mrs. Jackson become entangled in the clandestine murder investigation. Chief Inspector Hillary, one of Scotland Yard’s finest, is immediately on the case; however, Clementine cannot refrain from getting involved. She offers Mrs. Jackson’s help at Chester Square in planning Hermione Kingsley’s colossal annual charity event with the express intent of instigating her own investigation. The rest of the story is a delightful combination of the everyday life of privileged classes and their servants, an astute study of England’s pre-war preparations, and all of the makings of a great murder mystery. Arlen, the author of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, has hit the mark once again for the historical mystery lover. Read both! – Bunny
From our April 2016 Newsletter:
Kali Ling is the first female captain of Rage tournament history. Every week, she and her team fight to the digital death on TV in the Virtual Gaming League’s competition. The Rage tournament is designed to bring top gladiator/gamers together to compete in bloody combat, face virtual death, and most important, to entertain their many fans. Kali and her teammates have died many times. Their weapons and armor are digital, their deaths are virtual, but the pain from fighting and dying is very real. Kali is excited to be at the top of her game until her lover and teammate overdoses. The subsequent cover-up concerning the circumstances surrounding his death makes Kali see the truth. She is determined to expose the League’s craving for ratings at any cost and show the world the high cost gladiators pay for fame and fortune. You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy Arena. There’s lots of action from the get-go with a bit of romance tossed into the arena for those of us who like that sort of thing (me!). For fans of The Hunger Games’ dystopian society or Ender’s Game virtual combat. – Linda
“This isn’t a place for lies or pretending everything is all right. We know everything is not all right. If it were, you wouldn’t be here.”
Stories have been written about those who journey into magical worlds- about magical doors whisking young boys and girls away to far off lands for adventures. But what happens to those who find themselves back in the ordinary world after visiting their Wonderland? Miss West’s school is a place precisely for those boys and girls who long to journey back to their magical worlds. Now that Nancy has returned from the Underworld, she’s lost the only thing that makes sense for her, and her arrival at Miss West’s school gets complicated when strange things begin to happen. This book is both beautiful and gruesome, and its exploration of what makes us different is pure magic. A dark, lovely story about finding hope and finding home. – Kelly
A far cry from Faye’s usual honorable hero, copper star Timothy Wilde, Jane Steele commits her first murder at age five. She lives with her elusive mother in a tiny cottage and both suffer indignity at the hands of Jane’s harsh and spiteful aunt and her perverse son, Edwin, on a lavish estate in the English countryside. Fighting off Edwin’s sexual advances, Jane pushes him to his death and convinces family and investigators that it was an accident. After Edwin’s death and her mother’s suicide, Jane is sent to Lowan Bridge School, a grim school for girls run by Mr. Munt, another evil predator, who eventually meets his demise at the hands of young Jane. Fleeing the school to London, Jane survives, but puts a few more notches on her murder belt. Her mother had always hinted that Highgate House, her aunt’s estate, was rightfully Jane’s and when she reads that the old lady has died, she takes a position as governess to the ward of Charles Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, who now owns the estate. With one more murder in her future – along with love, deceit, greed and some goodness – the story continues in a brilliant and absorbing manner, inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre. – Bunny
Elena Martinez is a tough young woman living in present-day Los Angeles. She’s been a foster kid for years, is about to turn 18, and is facing limited options for her future, until she is selected to be among an elite group of teens sent into the future via Project Chronos by the mysterious Aether Corporation. One of Elena’s qualifications for the project is her eidetic memory, which has served as more of a hindrance than a help to date. Along with four other teens with special contributions of their own, Elena is sent on a 24-hour trip to the future (with a counting clock for chapter headers) to acquire specific information for Aether, with the strict admonition not to look into their own timelines. But when things go awry, will she become a girl without a future again, literally? – Maryelizabeth
Elston, Oregon, in the 1920’s has become a hateful and frightening place for Hanalee Denney. The war, the influenza epidemic, prohibition, and an emerging Ku Klux Klan have bred intolerance and hatred that are foreign to 16-year-old Hanalee, the daughter of a white woman and African American man. She remembers idyllic times with her father, who was killed by 17-year-old drunken driver Joe Adder, a man recently released from prison. Joe is hiding in the woods of Northwestern Oregon since the town folks want him dead after rumors of Joe’s homosexuality, yet another intolerable situation in these times. When Hanalee finds Joe’s hiding place, he reveals that her father was not killed by accident; he suspects Hanalee’s new stepfather was the killer. Hanalee knows there is some truth to his tale because her father’s spirit roams the highway as a “haint” or a troubled ghost, unable rest in peace. The story of these two young outcasts and their attempts to uncover the truth is a triumphant, insightful and gripping history lesson of the time, as well as another accomplished ghost story from Cat. – Bunny
Sixth-grader Xander Miyamoto is focused on escaping his boring classroom and spending his spring break playing video games with his best friend, Peyton, as well as limited family time with his single-parent father and his Obachãn. Xander’s dad gave him a comic book about the famous hero, Musashi Miyamoto, but Xander doesn’t have much attention for it – or his teacher’s lecture about climate change, or the art he has been creating without conscious direction, or the mysterious figure observing him through the rain. All of these matters come into sharp focus when he and Peyton are suddenly drawn into a fantastic adventure with high-stakes personal consequences. Margaret’s updated story of Japan’s mythical warrior and the monstrous Oni is a great addition to the middle-grade fantasy genre. – Maryelizabeth
Family angst. Financial woes. Interconnected lives. The New York Literary scene. Coming of Age. Surprises, turns, and twists. This is The Nest, an engaging debut about one family told from multiple points of view, centered on the four siblings in the Plumb family. The oldest is Leo, who is the catalyst for the current financial woes of his family. Leo’s appetite for excess, driven by an unhappy marriage, results in tragedy for an unsuspecting woman. When the inheritance their father left (nicknamed “The Nest”) is used to bail Leo out of the resultant mess, his siblings struggle with the prospect of losing the funds they have planned on inheriting -- and in some cases, already spent -- for years.
The question of whether Leo will reimburse his siblings leads the narrative, but it is the journey and ultimate growth of each family member that makes this an endearing story to treasure. The buzz is already in the air and this is a book and author to watch. – Terry
From Our March Newsletter:
This debut novel of time travel, Tesla, and teenage turmoil was completely engaging, from the fascinating voice of claustrophobic, socially isolated, brilliant protagonist Hope Walton to the depictions both positive (no pollution!) and negative (hygiene, anti-Semitism, sexism) of the 12th Cantury. Admittedly I am predisposed to any book that includes Eleanor of Aquitaine as a character. I was delighted to experience Hope’s discovery of her family secret and quest to save her mother. And, hey, Diana Gabaldon (Outlander) also liked Into the Dim, and she knows whereof she blurbs! – Maryelizabeth
The Madwoman Upstairs is both a reference to the insane first wife of Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, and to Samantha Whipple, who is the last remaining descendant of the Brontë sisters. It is not a coincidence that Samantha finds herself living in the Tower of Extinction (originally built to house quarantine victims of the plague in 1361) at Oxford University. She is studying English literature with a (also not coincidentally) good-looking, older English professor who is strictly off limits to her officially, intellectually, and due to their age discrepancy. Like her foresisters before her, she is young, inexperienced, and totally out of her league here. She was home schooled by her father and is attending Old College at his request, though he died seven years prior (not coincidentally) in a fire which claimed all of his literary pursuits. This exciting literary debut is in part a study of literature, specifically the Brontë sisters’ works, and in part the mystery of their legacy. Samantha cannot escape her past history with their work, the world’s interest in her inheritance of previously undiscovered family treasures, and the current puzzle of artifacts mysteriously appearing in her room … which may or may not answer some of her questions. For mystery and Brontë fans alike, this is a delightful romp and an (very clever) author to watch. – Terry
Hamilton’s debut novel, Past Crimes, was one of my favorites last year, and the second in the Van Shaw series, Hard Cold Winter, has impressed me even more. Van, former Army ranger and ex-thief, is summoned by a friend of his late grandfather to check on the whereabouts of his niece, Elana. The search leads Van to a cabin in the Olympic Mountains where he stumbles upon a brutal double murder scene. The investigation takes Van into the world of vicious Russian gangsters as well as a corrupt billionaire. Brief scenes of Van’s criminal past with Elana are deftly interspersed with the suspenseful murder investigation. It all culminates into an explosive ending, confirming this is another powerful installment in an addictive and compelling series. - Sarah
The Carson dynasty is cursed, or so some say. The family certainly does have its share of crazies, scoundrels, legends and the entitled.
The story opens and ends with the voice of Cynthia Carson who twenty-five years ago shot her husband in cold blood, absolutely positively. Throughout the story, I really wanted to dislike Cynthia, but she would occasionally surprise the reader. The concentric circle of characters begins with Wylie Wellborn, illegitimate son of Cynthia’s dead husband; her own sons, Robert and Sky; Adam Carson -- grandfather to all three;, Wylie’s sisters and his mother; and finally, Cynthia.
The Carson and Wellborn families both experience heartache and desperation.
None of the book’s characters is without fault, some more than others. How each individual deals with their own demons reveals the complexities of human nature.
The story is set against the backdrop of Mammoth Lakes ski resort, with its fantastic vistas and adrenaline pumping ski runs.
I was intrigued by the complicated families and their histories; the mysteries surrounding who is lurking around the Wellborn home and the theft of ski equipment, bicycles, etc. and who would ultimately survive. - Christine
I didn’t know what to expect when I started Lutz’s first standalone thriller. Everyone who knows my reading tastes knows that I am a big fan of Lisa’s, but this is new territory. Or is it? The Passenger combines Lutz’s signature humor and talent for pacing and dialog with a page turning adventure of a young woman we first get to know as Tanya Dubois. Very soon, we find out that she has at least one other identity, as she travels from her current life in Waterloo, Wisconsin, the recent widow of a bar owner (she says she didn’t do it!) to Austin, Texas, where she befriends a woman named Blue. They recognize in each other kindred spirits of women on the run … with many secrets to keep. The real mystery is what Nora Glass (Tanya Dubois’ real name) is running from, and why she has stayed away from her home town of Bilman, Washington, for the past 10 years. And that is just the beginning of this fast-paced adventure that I dare you to put down. Lutz has done it again. – Terry
The discovery of a body in the desolate icy terrain of Greenland launches an investigation that immediately finds striking connections to a series of solved murder cases in Denmark. Is this a copy cat or did Denmark police make a terrible mistake? The Girl in the Ice, the second Detective Chief Konrad Simonsen novel, features a gripping pace and a cast of refreshingly competent characters who are pushed to their limits as the investigation spirals out of control and becomes more and more personal. - Jared
The Watcher in the Wall is the fifth in Laukkanen’s highly-praised thriller series set in the Twin Cities, featuring Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere, agents of the joint BCA-FBI violent crime task force. In this latest, they’re after a creepy Internet stalker who preys on suicidal teens through several death chat forums. It’s a tricky task as there are free speech issues but this pervert goes a step further by filming it. It’s a race against time as they pinpoint the stalker’s next target and hope they’re not too late to save another teen’s life. To complicate matters, Windermere has her own personal struggles with the emotional case. Stevens and Mathers, Windermere’s young agent boyfriend, fear it’s only a matter of time before she goes off the deep end. This is once again, another adrenaline rush Laukkanen fans have come to anticipate. - Sarah
After two millennia of not being worshipped, many of the Greek gods and goddesses have faded from existence, but some still remain. In the city of New York, the current identity of Artemis is Selene DiSilva -- a private investigator who protects those women who seek her out.
Selene comes upon the body of a woman brutally murdered in a ritualistic manner in Central Park. Unfortunately, she will not be the last. Her name was Helen, and in her final moments had called out to the goddess but Selene had heard her not. Enter Helen’s colleague and former lover, Timothy Schultz, a Professor of ancient Greece and its mythology. Selene and Timothy are forced by happenstance to work together to solve the mystery of several murders and how they are connected to the theft of ancient artifacts from several prominent museums. A very dangerous someone has resurrected an ancient sacrificial rite. That someone is attempting to amass power, the end game being to restore themselves to their former glory. The rituals are affecting Selene as well, placing her in a very mortal dilemma. The list of suspects is not lacking – Apollo, Hades, Dionysus, Hermes…
I was caught up in the mystery and mythology from the start. The location was also a plus, exploring some of the nearly forgotten places of New York City reimagined as ancient world locales.
This is the first in the Olympus Bound series, but can also be read as a stand alone. - Christine