The weight of blood : a novel

From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Laura McHugh
Title: The weight of blood : a novel
I have frequently heard the saying “Blood is thicker than water” and the novel “The weight of blood” by Laura McHugh encapsulates this saying in the actions of two brothers. “You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family … Now, it ain’t my place to tell you what to think of your own family, but you’ve got to look past what you’ve always been taught and listen to what you know in your bones to be true,” and this is what Lucy does. Lucy’s father, Carl, and Crete Dane grew up in the Ozarks in a small town named Henbane. Carl grows up under the watchful eye of Crete, his older brother and is the one who grows straight and true while Crete, somehow, becomes avaricious and accepting of coloring outside the lines. Lucy, in searching for details of her missing mother, unearths many family secrets, one of which is her uncle’s involvement in human trafficking. A gripping, haunting story told from varied viewpoints, mainly the mother’s and daughter’s but always woven throughout is the value of family. Lucy, in unraveling her family’s past and present, must choose between “the weight of blood” (aka family loyalty) and her own strong moral compass.

Death, taxes, and a French manicure : [a Tara Holloway novel]

From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Diane Kelly
Title: Death, taxes, and a French manicure : [a Tara Holloway novel]
Were you aware that the Internal Revenue Service has agents who are licensed to carry guns? I wasn’t cognizant of this fact until I started to read the Tara Holloway novels penned by Diane Kelly. The series begins with Death, taxes, and a French manicure and continues with Death, taxes, and a skinny no-whip latte; Death, taxes, and extra-hold hairspray; Death, taxes, and a sequined clutch (novella); Death, taxes, and peach sangria; Death, taxes, and hot-pink leg warmers; Death, taxes, and green tea ice cream; Death, taxes, and mistletoe mayhem (novella) and coming soon is Death, taxes, and silver spurs. Tara Holloway is a Texas girl, born and bred, and the Annie Oakley of the IRS. Her marksmanship skills soon put her on the hot seat with the equivalent of the IA (Internal Affairs) Department. In the latest adventure, Tara is called to account for her use of weaponry. She did not use deadly force but instead, or so the review alleged, shot to avenge the abuse that her fellow operatives underwent on this last mission. Her fellow female operative was fed a date-rape drug and was on the verge of being sexually abused, while her male counterpart was being beaten by two thugs. Tara Holloway is a strong female character and I look forward to her further adventures.

Dying to know : a Gumshoe Ghost mystery

From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: T.J. O’Connor
Title: Dying to know : a Gumshoe Ghost mystery
Do you ever wonder if you will come back if something is left unresolved in your life on Earth? Well, in Dying to Know : a Gumshoe Ghost Mystery by TJ O’Connor, the protagonist, a detective, is murdered. His motto is a play on “Physician, heal thyself” and is actually “Detective, solve thyself.” Detective Oliver Tucker, who hates his name but loves his wife and dog, is on the trail of the person who snuffed him but must first learn to master the rules of being a ghost. He cannot travel the same way anymore but must mentally focus on where he wants to be and transport himself mentally. His energy is collected from electrical sources such as light bulbs and cell phones. Too much energy use and he is incapacitated. His longtime detective partner does not believe in ghosts and so ignores, for the most part, Tuck’s communications and warnings. Tuck’s wife is more accepting of Tuck as a ghost, and so, she aides her ghostly husband in the search for the truth. I enjoyed this title immensely and cannot wait for the sequel(s).

Beneath the abbey wall

From Eileen Effrat
Author:  A.D. Scott
Title:  Beneath the abbey wall 
This is the third in Scott?s mystery series set in the Scottish Highlands during the 1950′s when rock ?n roll and television invaded homes.  Featuring the newspaper staff of the Highland Gazette, this latest sequel surrounds the murder of the newspaper’s business editor, Mrs. Smart.  This is unsettling enough for the staff, but things take a turn for the worst when the Deputy Editor is accused of the murder.  The staff unites to prove the police wrong and begin to uncover secrets deeply rooted in Smart’s past.  If you enjoy mysteries with a unique setting  and earlier time, this Tartan Noir series may be for you. A Small Death in the Glen is the first in the series.

Why we took the car

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Wolfgang  Herrndorf
Title:  Why we took the car 
Destined to become a YA classic, this story features a 14 year-old boy, Mike Klingenberg, who could be Holden Caulfield?s German cousin. The book was translated from the German by Tim Mohr, and nothing was lost in the translation. Mike has a serious crush on pretty and popular Tatiana, and he’s awaiting an invitation to her birthday party that summer. Mike is just another disaffected Berlin youth, until he meets the mysterious Andre Tschichatschow (Tschick), a Russian immigrant, who comes to class drunk and disheveled.  When Tschick steals a car, Mike joins him without hesitation, to escape his unraveling family life. Mike considers himself boring, but Tshick disagrees, “You just have to do something to make yourself stand out.” Adults will like this book as much as teens. I still think about the characters, long after finishing the book. Enjoy the ride!

W.A.R. : Women art revolution [videorecording DVD]

From Ellen Druda
Title: W.A.R. : Women art revolution [videorecording DVD]
In the 1960’s and 1970’s the feminist movement and the art world collided and merged, spinning off new ideas and techniques. We meet some of the pioneers – Judy Chicago, Marina Abramovic, Hannah Wilke, Cindy Sherman, Marcia Tucker, B. Ruby Rich, The Guerrilla Girls, and more – and hear their stories of discrimination, frustration, and ridicule in the white man’s elitist art world. The strange new experience of performance art, unashamed sexuality, romanticism, sadness, humor, and rage were their weapons of expression as they fought to be included in museum and gallery showings. Filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson uses archival footage along with contemporary interviews and a fantastic amount of the art itself to make this an inspirational documentary.

Topsy: the Startling Story of the Crooked-tail Elephant, P.T. Barnum and the American Wizard

From Margaret Mezzacapo

Topsy: the Startling Story of the Crooked-tail Elephant, P.T. Barnum and the American Wizard by Michael Daly

The title’s not kidding – the story is startling. I’m not sure which is worse, the fact that the story actually is true, or the fact that such massive cruelty to animals, dogs included, was sanctioned and swept under the rug. Reading this may change your viewpoint on a number of issues. It’s a well-researched, engrossing read.