Monday, June 2, 2014

Books in for Review

Another very interesting batch of books have just arrived for review.  Check them out below and then stop by our site in a few weeks to read the reviews.

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport They were the Princess Dianas of their day—perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle. Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution, the nightmare that would sweep their world away, and them along with it. The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I and the Russian Revolution. Helen Rappaport aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionados.  

My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope by Ellie Laks Founder Ellie Laks started The Gentle Barn after adopting a sick goat from a run-down petting zoo in 1999. Some two hundred animals later (including chickens, horses, pigs, cows, rabbits, emus, and more), The Gentle Barn has become an extraordinary nonprofit that brings together a volunteer staff of community members and at-risk teens to rehabilitate abandoned and/or abused animals. As Ellie teaches the volunteers to care for the animals, they learn a new language of healing that works wonders on the humans as well. My Gentle Barn weaves together the story of how the Barn came to be what it is today with Ellie's own journey. Filled with heartwarming animal stories and inspiring recoveries, My Gentle Barn is a feel-good account that will delight animal lovers and memoir readers alike.  

The God Squad: Mission Him-Possible, The Distorted Mirror by Darlene Laney Meet the God Squad, six ordinary girls; living ordinary lives until they get the call! In this anything but ordinary story you’ll meet Mia, Sadie, Jade, Angel, Chris and Eve the six girls that make up the God Squad. Ranging in age from 12 – 15 the girls attend Carver Preparatory. In this episode, the girls’ mission is to befriend a fellow student overly concerned with being accepted by the popular group and willing to do just about anything to belong but when things take an unexpected turn she finds herself in over her head and makes a frantic late night call for help. Will the God Squad get to her in time to avoid a catastrophe?

My Pack: Burney the Hollywood Puppy by Walter F. Todd A shih tzu pup makes a grisly discovery in Hollywood. Meet Burney, a shih tzu puppy who was born in Minnesota and sold to a Beverly Hills pet store. He misses his pack-mates but quickly forms a new bond with Stacey, the aspiring actor who purchases him from the pet store. With his new pack-mate, Burney experiences the joy and adventure of living in Hollywood. A loving and friendly puppy, he meets actors, policemen, robbers, and even has a part in a movie! His great joy is romping on the beach, running in big circles, and meeting other dogs and people. In the first three months of his life, Burney wards off a robber with deadly intent; is frightened by a monkey during an audition; breaks two toes when a woman with spiked heels steps on him; and is sprayed by a skunk. During a romp in Griffith Park, Burney makes a gruesome discovery and inadvertently helps the local police department solve a murder investigation, leading him to become an honorary member of the K-9 Platoon. This little pup has lived an exciting life-and it's only just begun!  

Santa Clause: The Book of Secrets by Russell Ince

Face Value: A Rachel Gold Mystery by Michael Kahn As St. Louis attorney Rachel Gold knows firsthand, the grueling hours and demands of Big Law take their toll on young lawyers. Some turn to drugs, some quit the profession, and occasionally one quits altogether. According to the medical examiner, Sari Bashir quit for good on leaving work one Thursday night. That's when she fell to her death from the eighth floor of the downtown garage adjacent to her firm where she parked her car. The police ruled her death a suicide. Stanley Plotkin, however, rules it a homicide. Stanley is a genius. He also has Asperger’s Syndrome which makes employing him tricky. So Sari’s firm employed Stanley in the mail room. Among his obsessions is the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), a massive compilation that correlates hundreds of facial muscle actions with specific emotions and mental states. For someone like Stanley, who can’t read people’s emotions from their facial expressions, FACS is like a hearing aid for the hearing impaired. And his mastery of FACS is so complete he’s sure that Sari did not kill herself. Rachel had been close with Sari, who worked for her during law school. She also knows Stanley because their mothers are friends. When he calls Sari’s death murder as Rachel drives him home from Sari's memorial service, she listens. And when Sari's grieving father pleads with Rachel to review the police file on his daughter's suicide, she reluctantly, though with consummate skill and deploying unlikely colleagues, starts an investigation that will lead into the heart of a dark criminal enterprise rife with collateral damage. Like Sari...

Hell with the Lid Blow Off by Donis Casey In the summer of 1916, a big twister cuts a swath of destruction around Boynton, Oklahoma. Alafair Tucker’s family and neighbors are not spared the ruin and grief spread by the storm. But no one is going to mourn for dead Jubal Beldon, who’d made it his business to know the ugly secrets of everyone in town. It never mattered if Jubal’s insinuations were true or not since in a small town like Boynton, rumor could be as ruinous as fact. Then Mr. Lee, the undertaker, does his grim duty for the storm victims and discovers that even in death, troublemaker Jubal isn’t going to leave his neighbors in peace. Jubal was already dead when the tornado carried his body to the middle of a fallow field. Had he died in an accident or had he been murdered by someone whose secret he had threatened to expose? Dozens of people would have been happy to do the deed, some of them members of Jubal’s own family like his angry, disinherited brothers. As Sheriff Scott Tucker and his deputy Trenton Calder look into Jubal’s demise, it begins to look like the prime suspect may be someone very dear to the widow Beckie MacKenzie, the beloved music teacher and mentor of Alafair’s daughter Ruth. Ruth fears that the secrets exposed by the investigation are going to cause more damage to Beckie’s life than the tornado. Alafair, coping with injuries to her own, still has time for suspicions about how Jubal Beldon came to die. What if the truth of it hits very close to home?

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