30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Lucifer, Vol. 2 by Mike Carey, read by Courtney, on 04/27/2014

Book Two of the Lucifer series begins with Lucifer creating an entire universe outside of our own, complete with his own Adam and Eve. Universe building is cool and all, but there are parties in our universe that seek control over the new one. Mazikeen raises an army, which actually comes in handy. The Angel Michael’s daughter has a score to settle. Another angel takes out a contract on Lucifer.
A lot happens in this volume, but various story lines from the first book are starting to come together.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Dystopia, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Transmetropolitan, Vol. 2: Lust for Life by Warren Ellis, read by Courtney, on 04/26/2014

Volume two kicks off with Spider’s partner, Channon, moping over her boyfriend’s decision to download his consciousness into a sentient gaseous cloud. And it just gets weirder from there. Spider has some catching up to do after his self-imposed exile. He takes an extended tour of reservations, where ancient cultures are preserved (for better or worse). Volume two ends with Spider on the run from a variety of parties who want to see him come to harm (including a talking police dog with a serious bone to settle) and who somehow believe that he would actually care that they’re holding the cryogenically-frozen head of his ex-wife for ransom. They clearly don’t know Spider Jerusalem very well at all.
Darkly funny and full of surprises, volume two of Transmetropolitan doesn’t disappoint.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Legend by Marie Lu, read by Kira, on 04/27/2014

Legend_Marie_Lu_Book_coverIn post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, two highly intelligent teenagers alegendTess n Dayre working for opposing sides.  Rebel, Day was to have been killed when he supposedly failed his trials, but lives on the streets with, helping his family survive, as well as thumbing his nose at the Republic, by wreaking havoc.  He is the Republic’s Most Wanted Criminal, Not because his crimes are heinous, but because they make the Republic look bad.

On the other side is child prodigy June, assigned the task of hunting down Day, because he supposedly killed June’s brother Metias.

This is a fast-paced action book, with a romance that is at turns cute and then annoying.

I disliked the number of torture/terrorizing scenes and thus will NOT read the 2 sequels..

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Sekret by Lindsay Smith, read by Courtney, on 04/25/2014

Yulia’s parents used to be nomenklatura, members of the Soviet elite. Now, Yulia lives with her mother and brother, her father’s whereabouts unknown. They’ve been on the run, eluding the KGB, for several years. Then, on a day much like any other, Yulia uses her ability to read minds in order to get desperately needed supplies on the black market. Yulia senses something wrong and, before she can do anything about it, she is taken into custody by KGB operatives. It turns out that they had been specifically tracking Yulia for some time and not because of her parent’s former transgressions, but rather due to her psychic abilities. Yulia is forced to join a top-secret group of operatives with powers similar to hers. There, Yulia learns to block her own thoughts from being read and how to hone her own skills for the purposes of espionage. Yulia knows they have her mother and brother and she has been promised time with them as a reward for her cooperation. As if that weren’t incentive enough, the man in charge of their group, Rostov, is known as a “scrubber” and is able to “scrub” the thoughts right out of someone’s brain, only to be replaced with thoughts of his choosing. Yulia and her comrades manage to expose a traitor with connections to the CIA, only to discover that the traitor has had memories erased by another scrubber. This other scrubber appears to have even more power than Rostov. He’s also looking for Yulia. If this scrubber, who works for the enemy, is more powerful than the USSR’s scrubber, then Yulia’s not safe anywhere.
I found Secret to be both unique and fascinating. I’ve read quite a few books involving mind reading and other psychic powers, but this is by far the most realistic use of such powers that I’ve come across. The Soviet backdrop (a real dystopia!) is detailed and well-researched. Much of the plot centers around real events from the Cold War era (the space race, Cuban Missile Crisis). Further, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the KGB was doing research on physic abilities during this era(mainly in response to the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program), which makes this a fantastic merging of the paranormal and the historical. A cliff-hanger ending sets this up for a sequel.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Teen Books

Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergast, read by Courtney, on 04/20/2014

Raphaelle and her family have just moved to a new home, which means a new school as well. This time around, Raphaelle decides she isn’t going to be the trouble maker she was at all of her previous schools. This time around, she is going to be Ella and she is going to be as normal as can be. She’s avoiding the Catholic schools this time around though her perfect and popular younger sister is content to stick with the parochial trend. Her father is now teaching at a University, which keeps him busy. Her mother, who had to give up her job for the move, struggles to find a part-time job to keep her mind occupied. As it turns out, Raphaelle/Ella doesn’t find things much easier in a public school setting, but she does enjoy her art classes. It is during these classes that she meets a boy, Samir and starts falling for him. Samir falls for her as well, but matters are complicated by Samir’s family being strict Muslims, who are none too fond of the idea of their son dating a Catholic (or lapsed-Catholic) girl. Raphaelle gets fed up with the limitations of the labels people are given and creates an extremely provocative work of art for the school art show. This particular piece of art is shocking enough to have a part of it taken down. Raphaelle gets suspended and her teacher may be fired. Things are so bad, Raphaelle has to get lawyer. And then they get worse.
While the main focus point of this story is the censorship issue, it’s bolstered by a host of other issues. Raphaelle’s mother and sister each have their own serious issues, all of which go almost completely ignored by their father. Her relationship, already complicated by religious issues, is strained over and over again by a variety of circumstances and invokes themes of faith, prejudice, and intersectionality. Other characters, like artsy jock David, the art teacher’s disabled daughter, and others complicate and round out an already interesting story. It’s a novel in verse, so it moves extremely fast. Most readers will finish this one in an afternoon. The sequel, Capricious, is out now.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Book, Memoirs

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney, read by Courtney, on 04/19/2014

Art and madness. Do the two always have to go hand in hand? Is there a reason so many artists/writers/creative types struggle with mental illness? If they had been alive today, in the age of modern medicine and therapy, would they still have been able to create their masterpieces? Ellen Forney finds herself having to deal with this very issue as she, a long-time comic artist, is diagnosed as bi-polar. Forney doesn’t just tell her story; she does her research as well. Forney tells readers about the illness itself, the medications, side effects and so-called “mad” geniuses. Early on in her treatment, she worries about the medication taking away or diminishing her creativity. By the end, she has found a middle ground. Things aren’t perfect and never will be, but readers can tell that Ellen is going to wind up OK.
Marbles is a fantastic graphic memoir. Forney, who is an Eisner-Award winning cartoonist (and the artist for Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) does an excellent job of demystifying this potentially devastating mood disorder by putting forth her story in a clear and concise narrative. It is abundantly clear that much of her progress is due to a talented doctor/therapist and a large support network of friends. Even so, it still took years to find balance and which serves as a good reminder to readers that these issues will not go away overnight or on their own. At times humorous, but always honest, this memoir is an excellent example of what the comic medium is capable of.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Teen Books

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, read by Courtney, on 04/18/2014

Poor Amy Gumm. She lives with her mom in a dusty old trailer park somewhere in rural Kansas. Her mom, when not too depressed to leave the house, is always out drinking. At school, things aren’t much better. Amy’s pregnant arch-enemy, Madison, likes to start fights and blame “Salvation Amy” for them. On the day that Amy is sent home from school for fighting with Madison, a storm is brewing. The storm turns into a tornado and whisks Amy, her trailer and her mother’s pet rat, Star, off to another world – Oz, to be specific. The first thing Amy notices when she crash-lands is that Oz looks nothing like it’s supposed to. As Amy begins to meet the inhabitants of Oz, she quickly finds out that her more famous Kansas predecessor, Dorothy, is the ruler of Oz. Her loyal companions are still loyal, but corrupted by greed and power. Dorothy has become something of a dictator dressed in gingham. The use of magic has been forbidden by all save Dorothy and her counterparts. The rest of Oz is suffering dearly. Amy is quickly apprehended by and then saved from Dorothy by a Wicked witch, Mombi, who represents the resistance. Amy has no choice but to join the resistance and they have only one main goal: to kill Dorothy.
This is a fun take on the Wizard of Oz story. Amy makes a good foil to Dorothy’s false cheeriness. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Dorothy portrayed as a bad guy (the Fables comic series by Bill Willingham comes to mind), but she and her Oz counterparts are genuinely evil. I’m still a bit unclear as to how she made such a complete 180 from her original goody-two-shoes persona. Ostensibly, it’s the possession of magic that’s made her turn so evil, but for all I know, there might be more exposition coming in the subsequent novels. Either way, Dorothy and her entire gang make for some really creepy baddies. There’s plenty of action from beginning to end, but the pacing lags through the second half of the book. Some murky potentially-romantic entanglements drag the plot down further. It’s not nearly as much fun (nor as rooted in the original story) as Gregory Maguire’s work, but it will certainly still find a readership among readers who enjoy both a spunky female protagonist and retellings of classic stories.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Teen Books · Tags:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, read by Courtney, on 04/13/2014

When Ava Lavender was born, there were those who thought her to be an angel. Doctors were baffled; there’s simply no explanation for a girl to be born with wings. Ava’s mother, however, is used to strangeness in her life. To keep Ava and her twin brother, Henry, out of the public eye, Viviane, their mother, sequesters them in their house on Pinnacle Lane. As Ava begins to grow into a woman, she begins to stray from the house, seeking the company of other teenagers and possible explanations for her strangeness.
Ava’s story doesn’t really begin with her at all. It begins several generations earlier, in a small French town where Ava’s great-grandfather makes a decision to move his family to New York. This family includes Ava’s grandmother, Emilienne and her three siblings. All of the children are strange in their own way and each, save Emilienne, dies after falling in love with the wrong people. Emilienne decides to bury her heart and marries a baker. They move across the country to Seattle and into the house on Pinnacle Hill. It is here that Ava’s mother, Viviane, is born. It is only a matter of time before love plays its cruel tricks on her as well.
This book is absolutely gorgeous. Magic realism is rare in YA lit and this is magic realism at its finest (for any age group). To even attempt to create a synopsis of the story is to leave out so much of the myriad elements that make this book so wonderful. The language is evocative. The characters are memorable. The story is haunting. Love and its aftermath are central themes in Ava Lavender’s story, but there’s so much more to it than that. This is a novel that demands to be reread. As painful as it is at times, I will still unhesitatingly welcome the strange and beautiful world that Ava inhabits.
(nb: if this doesn’t wind up on either the Printz and/or Morris Award/Honor lists, I will cry. Or just lose my faith in ALA awards committees altogether.)

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Street by Warren Ellis, read by Courtney, on 04/13/2014

Journalist Spider Jerusalem has been off the grid for years. He’s got everything he needs to avoid humanity. Everything except for a completed contract, the remainder of which is now being called in by Jerusalem’s editor. Spider reluctantly moves back to the city, a futuristic hellscape of depravity and corruption. In other words, Spider’s back in his element.
I’ve read this volume before, but it was so long ago that I decided to reread it now that the library has the whole series. Transmetropolitan is hilarious, filthy, sacrilegious and all-around entertaining. Spider is a bit of a Hunter S. Thompson for the future, drugs, smokes and all. A great choice for cynics everywhere.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman, read by Courtney, on 04/08/2014

The year is 1960 and 13-year-old Sophie is being forced to live with her Aunt and Grandmother in rural Louisiana for the summer. Sophie, who usually lives in New Orleans with her single mother, is not happy even though it means she won’t have to worry about her mother’s criticism all summer long. Sophie’s aunt lives on what is left of the Fairchild family’s once-grand sugar cane plantation. There’s not much to do on the plantation, so Sophie spends her time outdoors exploring. On one of her excursions, she encounters a strange creature that grants her wish for adventure, family and friends. Sophie subsequently finds herself transported back in time to 1860. The plantation in 1860 is vastly different from the dusty, sleepy farm that Sophie had previously explored. This is the plantation’s hay-day; all the structures are new and solid, the atmosphere thrums with life. The Fairchilds have nearly 200 slaves working their crops and, when Sophie makes her first appearance, she is mistaken for a light-skinned slave. Realizing that attempting to tell her slave-owning ancestors that she’s traveled from the future would probably not make her transition any easier, Sophie begins to assume the identity of a slave.
Sophie’s journey is particularly fascinating because she originates from a pre-Civil-Rights-Movement South. Racism is still a part of everyday life even if slavery is a thing of the past. Sophie not only has to learn to fit in where she is uncomfortable, she experiences the bigotry first-hand. Sophie quickly discovers that the past is far more complicated than she had ever dreamed.
This book could have been a rip-off of other “modern-girl-travels-to-her-ancestors-past” books like Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic or Octavia Butler’s Kindred, but it most certainly is not. For one, Sophie is white, which takes her even farther out of her comfort zone. For another, Sherman weaves in themes from African mythology to paint a sophisticated portrait of a subjugated people. Linguistically, Sherman’s approach feels very authentic and she never shies away from the discomfiting details that flesh out daily life on the plantation. Sherman does, however, keep things appropriate for a younger audience by writing around some of the more violent aspects of antebellum life. It is still a sophisticated novel and will require a measure of dedication from readers, particularly younger ones. This book won’t have broad appeal, but it’s definitely worth a read.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost, read by Courtney, on 04/05/2014

Will West has been flying under the proverbial radar at his parent’s insistence for as long as he can remember. He keeps his grades mediocre and makes sure to hold back at his cross-country meets. His life is under control until one day, when he realizes he’s being followed by men in unmarked black vehicles. His instincts tell him that things aren’t right and he needs to get out of town. When an elite prep school called the Center for Integrated Learning contacts him with an offer of admittance due to an extraordinarily high standardized test score, Will figures he might as well go. What he discovers is that the remote Wisconsin boarding school is home to the country’s best and brightest. Will no longer needs to hold back; he can tap into his true potential. He finds quickly that he possesses even more impressive abilities than he ever thought possible. He quickly establishes friendships with his hall-mates and makes himself the enemy of the school bullies. As Will begins to explore both the school and his own abilities, he realizes that there is nothing random about the school finding him and that the connections he is discovering date all the way back to the middle ages.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book. I mean, I had just read another book involving a mysterious and elite boarding school, so it’s entirely possible I was just getting bored and/or confused with plotlines. I had a lot of problems with the basic premise. How can a kid who is so clearly a genius never question his parents’ instructions to not stand out? It seems to me that, since most parents typically push their children to do their best, it would be somewhat suspicious for the parents of an incredibly smart and talented kid to tell their child to hide all of it. Wouldn’t a genius, especially a teenaged one, have a few questions for Mom and Pop? I also really wished that I had some idea of what the titular prophecy actually referred to. I’ve been informed that much more will be made clear in the second book, but considering that Frost had 500+ pages to set everything up, one might think it’s not too much to ask to have at least a little more information. Instead, it winds up feeling like 500 pages of exposition, which is a bit tiring on many levels. On the upside, the pacing was quick and a few of the characters were entertaining.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Teen Books

Night School by C.J. Daugherty, read by Courtney, on 04/03/2014

 After getting arrested for the third time in one year, Allie has been sent to a remote boarding school for their summer session. She expects it to be something like a prison for troubled kids, so she’s extremely surprised to find out that the vast majority of the students both wealthy and academically talented. Allie knows she doesn’t fit in, but she makes the best of it. While she makes several friends quickly, she also makes some enemies by engaging in flirtation with a handsome student named Sylvain (super-wealthy and French) and by getting attention from badboy Carter West (mysterious, moody and on scholarship). Over time, Allie genuinely begins to enjoy being at Cimmeria Academy. She’s working harder on schoolwork than ever before and is starting to feel like being sent to Cimmeria was actually a good thing. There are just a few things that she can’t quite figure out. First, there’s the issue of the noises Allie hears on the roof every night. Second, how in the world did she manage to get into such an elite school? It’s clearly not a place where kids are typically sent for disciplinary problems. The students of Cimmeria tend to go on to Ivy League schools and many of the students are legacies, meaning their parents and grandparents attended Cimmeria as well. Allie doesn’t fit into any of those categories and isn’t sure why or how she wound up at such a fancy boarding school. Oh, and why had she never even heard of the school until being sent there?
When the school dance is disrupted by both a fire and a murder, Allie decides it’s time to start getting some answers.
It’s easy to go into this book expecting a paranormal story, but there are minimal, if any, paranormal elements in the story. Readers will be wondering what is going on up until the very end and even then, there will be questions. This is the first in a series, which means that that much of the plot is meant to be unresolved. Unfortunately, a good deal of time is spent on the love-triangle-angle, which has become such a cliche in YA literature at this point that I can barely tolerate it when I come into contact with it. Even worse, there’s a scene of near-rape that Allie is able to simply ignore. She is uncomfortable in her aggressor’s presence, but inexplicably fails to do anything else about it (she doesn’t tell anyone in authority; doesn’t seek help, medical or psychological; barely mentions it unless the perpetrator is in the same scene…). It just really bothered me that this type of violence was completely glossed over. Still, it was an interesting enough book, but probably not one I’ll be recommending anytime soon.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Teen Books

Feedback by Robison Wells, read by Jane, on 04/18/2014

Benson Fisher escaped from Maxfield Academy’s deadly rules and brutal gangs.

Or so he thought.

But now Benson is trapped in a different kind of prison: a town filled with hauntingly familiar faces. People from Maxfield he saw die. Friends he was afraid he had killed.

They are all pawns in the school’s twisted experiment, held captive and controlled by an unseen force. As he searches for answers, Benson discovers that Maxfield Academy’s plans are more sinister than anything he imagined—and they may be impossible to stop.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Teen Books

Variant by Robison Wells, read by Jane, on 04/11/2014

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Thriller/Suspense

Lying with Strangers by James Grippando, read by Jane, on 04/04/2014

Peyton Shields had always wanted to be a doctor, and now, thanks to her relentless drive, stellar academic credentials, and a mountain of debt to Harvard Medical School, she’s a first-year resident at a major Boston children’s hospital. The hours are impossibly long, but it’s the life she wants, complete with a husband who’s an up-and-coming young lawyer.

But a late-night drive home in a heavy snowstorm changes everything. A car coming straight at her forces her off the road and into a frozen pond. Peyton knows she’d be dead if a stranger hadn’t pulled her from the wreckage before vanishing into the darkness.

In an instant her wonderful life has turned dark. No one believes her claims that the “accident” was deliberate—not even her husband. Without explanation, he has become distant and bitter, calling her paranoid and accusing her of having an affair with a former lover.

Yet the terror has only begun, for a series of strange, increasingly dangerous events begin to plague Peyton, moving her closer to a faceless and very deadly enemy who seems to know her every move.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Melody, Romance

Nobody's Angel by Karen Robards, read by Melody, on 04/28/2014

In Carolina Colony, the community admired Susannah Redmon, plain eldest daughter of the preacher. Her herbal healing skills made her an angel of mercy, her determination held together the family’s farm, and her strong will always got her what she wanted–even the buying of a man.  But no suitor had ever courted her…

Ian Connelly, Marquis of Derne, had been betrayed, branded a criminal, and beaten.  Still defiant, he had been indentured and transported to the Colonies, where a bossy, primly proper woman had bought him!  But he alone saw the strength of her character, the gold in her tawny hair, and, in her eyes, the fire of her long-hidden desire…

Now Susannah “owned” this magnificently handsome rogue, but it was his passion that could free her imprisoned, lonely heart.  From the frontier South to society London or even to hell itself, with her body she would worship him and with her soul she would love him, for she was…Nobody’s Angel.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Forever With You by Laurelin Paige, read by Jessica, on 04/28/2014

Alayna Withers relationship with Hudson Pierce has tested both her and his ability to trust. They decide that the only way they can move forward together is with open doors and transparency. It won’t be easy for the scarred lovers, but they’re committed to each other more now than ever. Alayna, in particular, has grown through their trials, and has emerged more confident and faithful to the man she loves. But while the pair is focused on the future, their past shows up again to threaten their fragile bond. Promises that were made are broken, and Alayna learns that Hudson still has very potent secrets–secrets that will tear them both apart. As much as she feels for him, her ability to forgive and forget is tested beyond her limits. Even though she found the only man who could fix her, a forever with Hudson seems more and more.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Found In You by Laurelin Paige , read by Jessica, on 04/28/2014

Alayna Withers has only had one kind of relationship: the kind that makes her obsessive and stalker-crazy. Now that Hudson Pierce has let her into his heart, she’s determined to break down the remaining walls between them so they can build a foundation that’s based on more than just amazing sex. Except Hudson’s not the only one with secrets. 

With their pasts pulling them into a web of unfounded mistrust, Alayna turns to the one person who knows Hudson the best—Celia, the woman he almost married. Hoping for insight from someone who understands all sides of the story, Alayna forms a bond with Celia that goes too far—revealing things about Hudson that could end their love for good.

This is the first relationship where Alayna hasn’t spiraled out of control. And she might lose Hudson anyway.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tracy

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks, read by Tracy, on 04/24/2014

Bertie Wooster (a young man about town) and his butler Jeeves (the very model of the modern manservant)—return in their first new novel in nearly forty years: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks. 

P.G. Wodehouse documented the lives of the inimitable Jeeves and Wooster for nearly sixty years, from their first appearance in 1915 (“Extricating Young Gussie”) to his final completed novel (Aunts Arent Gentlemen) in 1974. These two were the finest creations of a novelist widely proclaimed to be the finest comic English writer by critics and fans alike. 

Now, forty years later, Bertie and Jeeves return in a hilarious affair of mix-ups and mishaps. With the approval of the Wodehouse estate, acclaimed novelist Sebastian Faulks brings these two back to life for their legion of fans. Bertie, nursing a bit of heartbreak over the recent engagement of one Georgina Meadowes to someone not named Wooster, agrees to “help” his old friend Peregrine “Woody” Beeching, whose own romance is foundering. That this means an outing to Dorset, away from an impending visit from Aunt Agatha, is merely an extra benefit. Almost immediately, things go awry and the simple plan quickly becomes complicated. Jeeves ends up impersonating one Lord Etringham, while Bertie pretends to be Jeeves’ manservant “Wilberforce,”—and this all happens under the same roof as the now affianced Ms. Meadowes. From there the plot becomes even more hilarious and convoluted, in a brilliantly conceived, seamlessly written comic work worthy of the master himself.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Tracy

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid, read by Tracy, on 04/17/2014

Internationally best-selling crime writer Val McDermid has riveted millions of readers worldwide with her acutely suspenseful, psychologically complex, seamlessly plotted thrillers. In Northanger Abbey, she delivers her own, witty, updated take on Austen’s classic novel about a young woman whose visit to the stately home of a well-to-do acquaintance stirs her most macabre imaginings, with an extra frisson of suspense that only McDermid could provide.

Cat Morland is ready to grow up. A homeschooled minister’s daughter in the quaint, sheltered Piddle Valley in Dorset, she loses herself in novels and is sure there is a glamorous adventure awaiting her beyond the valley’s narrow horizon. So imagine her delight when the Allens, neighbors and friends of her parents, invite her to attend the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh as their guest. With a sunny personality, tickets every night and a few key wardrobe additions courtesy of Susie Allen, Cat quickly begins to take Edinburgh by storm and is taken into the bosom of the Thorpe family, particularly by eldest daughter Bella. And then there’s the handsome Henry Tilney, an up-and-coming lawyer whose family home is the beautiful and forbidding Northanger Abbey. Cat is entranced by Henry and his charming sister Eleanor, but she can’t help wondering if everything about them is as perfect as it seems. Or has she just been reading too many novels? A delectable, note-perfect modern update of the Jane Austen classic, Northanger Abbey tells a timeless story of innocence amid cynicism, the exquisite angst of young love, and the value of friendship.