Anne Z.'s blog

What we are Reading this Week!

Find these awesome titles in the links bellow:

- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid --> print - audio

- The Light After the War by Anita Abriel --> print - audio

- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes --> print - audio

- Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren --> print - audio

- The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner --> print - audio

- The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher --> print - audio

- Victories Greater than Death by Charlie Jane ANders --> print - audio

This Week's Review at Inklings

 

 

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Review by Emily Ring

When your debut novel gets a cover blurb from none other than Stephen King, it’s safe to say that you have arrived.  Such is the case with Carole Johnstone, whose debut thriller Mirrorland attracted a tremendous amount of attention before its release, including that of the King of thrills and chills himself.  Remarkably, Mirrorland lives up to its hype.  With its devilish twists and turns and psychological trickery, it’s not a book you’ll put down easily, nor one that you’ll forget.

Cat and her twin sister El are mirror twins, perfectly identical. During their troubled childhood, they are inseparable, escaping from the horrors of the real world into their secret hideaway, Mirrorland.  Sometimes as clowns, sometimes pirates, always in one disguise or another, they build up an imaginary world where they are always together, protected from their irrational mother and their unpredictable grandfather.  But when a handsome boy named Ross moves in next door, a rift begins to form between them, one that grows through the tragedy that abruptly ends their childhood.  As they attempt to build new lives, far from the home they’ve always known, their differences grow until an unforgiveable betrayal finally separates them once and for all.

More than a decade later, Cat is unexpectedly pulled back into El’s orbit when word comes from Ross (now married to El) that El has disappeared in what appears to be a boating accident.  Cat abandons her crumbling life in LA and returns to the Scottish home of her childhood, now owned by Ross and El.  The house is full of memories, virtually unchanged by the intervening years and occupants.  And Mirrorland still stands, empty except for the echoes of the twins’ childhood.  As Cat is drawn further into her own past, and her feelings for Ross, inconsistencies appear in the accounts of El’s disappearance. To untangle the mystery and uncover the lies, Cat will have to confront the horror that ended her childhood, and the secrets locked away in her family’s home.  She survived the monsters that bayed outside the walls of Mirrorland once, but can she do it again?

Now, a personal confession: since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve struggled to sit down and read a book.  I listen to countless audiobooks, usually while doing something else, but the low-level anxiety that’s always present at the back of mind makes it nearly impossible for me to focus on the words on the page, to lose myself in fiction the way I always could before.  Mirrorland was the first book in the better part of a year that grabbed me enough that I carried it with me, read it during meals, took it to bed at night.  Its pacing is exceptional; a steady thrum of “just one more page” played in my head whenever it was time for me to set the book down to return to the world.  Mirrorland is scary in the way that Hitchcock movies are scary, with a deep, slithering, existential dread that confounds all sense of reason.  If you enjoy a story that opens like a puzzle box and takes every page to piece back together, then you’ll love Mirrorland as much as I did.

This Week's Review at Inklings

The Lost Spells by Robert MacFarlane

Review by Rachel Fowler

April is Poetry month and in lieu of that it seemed the perfect time to read poetry, which is not my usual genreThe Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane seemed a good place to start with its small size and beautifully illustrated poems. I very much enjoyed Macfarlane’s previous poetry book, The Lost Words, which is about the importance of hanging on to the words that describe nature. His newest book expands on this idea by celebrating different plants and animals in nature with cute short poems and gorgeous illustrations. 

The book starts with an introduction that speaks of the necessity of seeing nature’s beauty and the joy and importance of sharing that beauty with others. The author then highlights several different plants and animals found in nature, like red foxes, daisies and oak trees. For all the flora and fauna listed, a short but clever and often rhyming poem is presented. These poems serve to educate and delight the reader with half-factual information and half-witty perceived personalities of each creature or plant. Jackie Morris is the illustrator and provides the most stunning watercolor illustrations for each poem. Her work brings out the depth and magic of each critter, plant, and tree so each entry is truly enchanting. 

I enjoyed this book immensely. I fell in love with the entertaining poems and stunning artwork right away. I especially liked the poems about animals because they were so fun to read. While I feel every entry is breathtakingly beautiful, my absolute favorite poem is called Heartwood andis about trees. I think this book is perfect for anyone looking to dip their toes in poetry or is already a longtime lover of the genre. This book is definitely now in my top recommendations for poetry. 

What we are Reading this Week!

This Week's Review at Inklings

The Last Tiara by M.J. Rose

Review by Anne Zastrow; contribution from Lisa Martin. 

The Last Tiara by M.J. Rose is inspired by real missing Russian Crown Jewels. M.J. Rose explains in an article to The Adventurine how she stumbled upon an NPR article about the disappearance of the missing Russian Crown Jewels that to date, have not been found. Captivated by it and how such amazing items could simply disappear she decides her new novel will tell the story of the lost tiara. 

It is apparent throughout the book that M.J. Rose researched well the Romanov Jewels, the Russian Revolution, and especially the impact it had on the Russian people. Although she never goes into gruesome details, the poverty and difficulties the people experienced at the time are carefully and respectfully mentioned. 

The book is told from two different perspectives, that of mother and daughter. The alternating chapters reveal Sofiya's life in Russia from 1915 through 1922, and Isobelle's in 1948 Manhattan, US.

First we have Isabelle, a young architect in post World War II Manhattan. While renovating her mother's home she finds a hidden box, and inside the box, the remnants of what once was a beautiful tiara. She knows very little of her mother's past during the fall of the Ramanovs in Russia or about the man her mother loved, her father. Curiosity and longing to feel closer to her now gone mother propels her forward into finding out more details about the tiara, and consequently, her mother and father. With the help of a young jeweler, who is conflicted by his loyalty to the Midas Society, an international organization whose mission is to return stolen items to their rightful owners, they start investigating.

The second perspective is that of her mother Sofiya. In 1925, young Sofiya was close friends with the daughter of the Tsar of Russia and together they tended to the wounded soldiers in the makeshift hospital within the grounds of the Alexander Palace in St. Petersburg. While there, Sofiya meets a wounded soldier and finds love. But it is not easy, it is not simple, and their journey is long, painful, and full of twists and turns. 

The Last Tiara is indeed about a lost tiara. But it is also about love. It is historical fiction mixed with romance and mystery. The historical aspects are well researched, the mystery keeps you wanting to know more, and the romances are tender and passionate. The perfect weekend read!

Lisa Martin here at Inklings also loved the book. Here is what she had to say: "I finished this book and loved it. The mystery and intrigue kept me wanting to read just one more chapter. It is a great story for those who love historical fiction."

Our Favorite Reads in March!

Find Our Favorites Here:

Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X Kandi print - audio

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley print - audio

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni print - audio

Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly print - audio

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flag print - audio

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers print - audio

The Last Tiara by MJ Rose print - audio

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O'Donnell print - audio

This Week's Review at Inklings

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Review by Lisa Martin

There is just something about history that draws me in, and this novel was no different.  I have read many books about World War II, but I especially loved this one as it focused on three women codebreakers at Bletchley Park.

The Rose Code deals with two time periods, the first starting 1940 and the second taking place in 1947.  I thought the back and forth might be difficult to follow, but it made the story better.

In 1940 three women met while working at Bletchley Park in England.  Under normal circumstances you would not find them even in the same place and yet the bond they formed was unbreakable, or so one would think.  Osla Kendall, a debutant, mixes with the English elite and is dating Prince Philip of Greece (yes, the future husband of Queen Elizabeth), Mabel (Mab) Churt is from a working-class family and is striving to make a better life for her mother and young sister, Lucy.  Bethan (Beth) Finch is a spinster and under the thumb of her overbearing mother who loves to belittle her.  Beth feels as though she is dumb and worthless.

Sworn to secrecy by the Official Secrets Act of 1939, these women are each doing jobs that are part of the entire network that decodes enemy messages.  These messages can change the course of the war, save thousands of lives, and determine if our side has misled the enemy from the inside.

The story is told from the viewpoint of all three women, and I found myself rooting for all of them.  I was crazy to find out what turned them against each other and left Beth in a sanitarium.  

In 1947 with the frenzy of the royal wedding between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip approaching Osla and Mab meet again.  They have received a coded message from Beth begging for help.  They must decide to put aside their anger and suspicions and decode a message with the purpose of determining who paid a spy in their midst who passed on military secrets to the Germans and now the Russians.

The conclusion is exciting and fast paced with a frantic chase through the crowd that lines up to witness the Royal Wedding procession.

Kate Quinn is a master storyteller, and this book is a must read.  I recommend to readers who enjoy historical novels set in London during the war and are interested in the codebreaking that helped end the war.  This novel in based on facts and one last bit of information, Osla Benning was a real person.  She was fluent in German and she did work at Bletchley Park.

 

What we are Reading this Week!

Get the Books with the links bellow or instore (Libro.fm -audio book- prices vary): 

- The Well of Ascension: Book Two of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson: Mass Market, $9.99 or Libro.fm

- Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi: Hardcover $27.99 or Libro.fm

- The Naming: Book One of Pellinor (Pellinor Series #1) by Alison Croggon: Paperback $12.99 or Libro.fm

- The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict: Hardcover $26.99

- Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep by Tish Harrison Warren: Hardcover $22 or Libro.fm

- The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II by Madeline Martin: Hardcover $28.99 or Libro.fm Releases 04.06.2021

- The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn: Hardcover $27.00 or Libro.fm

This Week's Review at Inklings

 

A quintet of kids' books for a season of faith

Review by Amy Halvorson Miller

Reading with children is always an excellent way for us to bond and impart a love of reading. Faith-themed books help introduce growing minds and hearts to the belief and practice of a family’s faith, make a loving space to ask questions, and promote an appreciation for those who believe differently.

Next week, Christian and Jewish families will observe some of their faiths’ highest holy days: Holy Week and Easter, and Passover, respectively. Here are a few new and classic books to share with little ones in baskets or at bedtime.

The Jewish observance of Passover, celebrating the release of the enslaved Israelites from Egypt, includes a Seder service and meal. In a new picture book, "Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail" by Lesléa Newman, we enter the home of an evening Seder and a little boy anticipating celebrating with a diverse family. The text alternately contrasts the lamplight of the home and the moonlight of the night outside, where a lonely kitten wanders and waits. After the meal, when the door is left open for Elijah, the boy welcomes a new friend. The richly painted art will have you lingering over the warm tradition of Passover. The author’s note concludes with the history of Passover from the Book of Exodus and some rituals of the Seder. This would make a beautiful gift for adults and cat lovers, too.

"Who Was Jesus?" by Ellen Morgan is a short biographical chapter book written for ages 8-12. You may already be familiar with the well-researched Who HQ history series with its bobblehead cover art. Here’s a fun way to learn more about where and when Jesus lived, who followed him, and what Christians believe about his life, death and resurrection. The book includes a helpful bibliography, timelines and illustrations to support the text.

A favorite for a preschool read-aloud or school-age independent reader is "The Story of Easter" by Jean Miller. This Little Golden Book now has updated illustrations with remarkable details. Events include Jesus’ last Passover meal with his disciples through the Ascension. The book finishes nicely with an explanation of how Christians observe Easter today and how eggs, as a symbol of new life, have become a central part of the celebration.

For the littlest page-turners, two board books make the list. "Great & Small Easter" by Pamela Kennedy is a new book with extra thick and glossy pages for durability. Each right-hand page has a sturdy flap to lift and reveal baby animals with a “splish splash” or “peekaboo” playing in springtime scenes, finishing with a short scripture and Easter cross. A classic for the season is "Richard Scarry's I Am a Bunny" by Ole Risom. Nicholas the bunny leads us on a seasonal tour of his world, starting with spring. These are some of the most charming nature illustrations you’ll find in a children’s book, which is certainly why this story has endured for almost 60 years.

Take a look at these and other children’s books for this season of faith. You will likely learn something new and find your own belief enriched!

"Welcoming Elijah" by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal, was published by Charlesbridge in January 2020. It retails for $16.99.

"Who Was Jesus?" by Ellen Morgan, illustrated by Stephen Marchesi, was published by Penguin Workshop in 2015. It retails for $5.99.

"The Story of Easter" by Jean Miller, illustrated by Jerry Smath, was published by Golden Books in 2018. It retails for $4.99.

"Great & Small Easter" by Pamela Kennedy, illustrated by Anna Abramskaya, was published by BH Kids on Feb. 2. It retails for $8.99.

"Richard Scarry's I Am a Bunny" by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry, was published by Golden Books in 1963. It retails for $7.99.

Winter Bestsellers

Time is certainly flying by for us here at Inklings. It feels like it was just a week or two ago that I was putting together our bestseller list for fall. It was exciting putting this one together because we have ourselves read quite a lot of the titles in it! 

We hope you find something in this list that works for you. Have fun reading! 

1 & 2- Cascade Killer and Cascade Vengeance by Rob Philips - $16.75 & $17.75, Latah Books

"The prologue hooked me. A father and son were bear hunting one spring day. The son got his bear, but they got a whole lot more than that.There is witty and realistic dialogue, familiar places that I can picture on almost every page, and even a little romance. I stayed up way too late to finish the story and trace the creepy villain along rivers and forest service roads after smelling a few red herrings. This is a good, solid story, told by a guy who knows bears, bad guys and biology." - Susan Richmond, Inklings owner, about Cascade Killer

Cascade Vengeance is the second book in the series and we are sure it is just as good!

3- The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy - $22.99, HarperOne

"This collection is not just for children, but for anyone at any stage of life. There are takeaways in its wisdom about life, friendship, self-worth and, of course, cake. It has the gentle lovability of Winnie-the-Pooh paired with the introspection and character dynamics of Calvin and Hobbes. This heartwarming book would be a real treasure for your bookshelf." - Emma Welch, Inklings Bookseller

4- Four Winds by Kristin Hannah - $28.99, St. Martin's Press

There are quite a few Inklings Booksellers in love with this book at the moment. 

"The Four Winds is a gut-wrenching journey through the Dust Bowl and the life of Elsa Wolcott.  It is beautiful and sad, filled with despair and hope.   One of Kristen Hannah's best novels to date." - Irene Pearcey

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