Parker’s Picks – September/October 2010

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

You might wonder was Honest Abe a major vampire hunter???!!!  That is the premise of Seth Grahame-Smith’s newest book.  Grahame-Smith spins a yarn Abe Lincoln would have loved to have told himself since he was an excellent storyteller. Grahame-Smith shares with the reader The Introduction that he “obtained” Lincoln’s “secret journal” to help tell this story.  Abraham Lincoln discovers at a young age his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, didn’t die from “Milk Sickness” but from a vampire. Upon learning this cataclysmic information he vows to avenge his mother’s death and decides to rage a war on vampires. He gathers information and trains himself to fight and destroy them. Over the course of time he eventually meets Henry Sturges who helps Lincoln to fully understand the significance of vampires in America and the role they will play later in Lincoln’s life, his presidency, and America’s Civil War. It’s revealed to Lincoln the importance of these following famous historical figures: Stephen Douglas, Edgar Allan Poe, Jefferson Davis, William Seward, plus others, and their part they play in regards to vampires.  I truly relished reading this book! Grahame-Smith has written an outstanding and superb tale. He winds his story between fact and fiction.  I liked that he followed the life story of Lincoln but throughout his existence, there are vampires found at varying times in his life. Of course much is fabricated (as I look over my shoulder for the nearest vampire) but he hooks the reader into possibly believing it to be the truth and not just a myth!  Read, discover, and take pleasure in this irresistible story. 

Bad Girls Don’t Die by Kate Alender

Bad Girls Don't Die

I found, Bad Girls Don’t Die, to contain exactly the right ingredients for a superb spooky paranormal story!  Alexis Warren’s hobby is photography and at the onset of the story she discovers and photographs a strange glow outside their home. The Warren family resides in a house with not only a great deal of fascinating history but also a possible resident specter who relishes inhabiting bodies and controlling them for its own purpose! Alexis is a teen whose thirteen-year-old sister, Haley, is beginning to act strangely and has a weird attachment to her doll collection. Early on you’ll discover Alexis feels as though she doesn’t fit in anywhere or with anyone at school – all that begins to change when Carter Blume turns his attention towards her. While this relationship blossoms the bond with her sister worsens – almost to the point Alexis fears not only she will be harmed but others as well. Alexis’ new friend Megan Wiley also senses danger when she is in contact with Haley as she also has a story that will unfold. Bad Girls Don’t Die weaves an interesting story intertwining all of these characters together to a climatic heart stopping ending!

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)

This was one of my favorite Young Adult books I read this summer from my summer reading list! The place is Gatlin County, South Carolina. Beautiful Creatures features the elements of romance, Southern gothic, and the supernatural to make it a guaranteed page-turner!  Ethan is a normal teenage boy who dreams of a mystifying girl.  He then meets Lena Duchannes who comes to town to live with her eccentric recluse uncle.  Lena is special – she’s a Caster – aka – a witch!  Ethan and Lean are drawn together mysteriously.  As they strive to discover their connection, Lena is dreading her upcoming 16th birthday.  Her life will change dramatically and she thinks for the worse. There were so many references to the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.  I loved how the authors worked in these allusions!  The authors have created such a beautiful and well developed story line.  The characters they have crafted from their imaginations are astounding! One attention-grabbing and appealing character for me was none other than, Marian, the librarian!  She is a very special librarian in Beautiful Creatures! You’ll uncover her special talent once you read the story!  I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in the series, Beautiful Darkness which will be available on October 12th!  There WILL be a book three and four available in the future!

Diamond Ruby by Joe Wallace

Diamond Ruby: A Novel

The story begins at Ebbets Fields with seven-year-old Ruby and her family attending a Yankee’s baseball game. To Ruby it was the most beautiful place she had ever laid eyes on. To Ruby’s surprise she is lucky enough to experience every young child’s dream – and even adults – she catches a ball that is hit off of the bat of Casey Stengel!  Ruby and her family soon face a magnitude of hardships. The Spanish Influenza engulfs New York leaving almost every family scarred by it.  By the time she’s thirteen she becomes responsible for her family. One would think it would be next to impossible – an undertaking too difficult for such a young girl as Ruby.  You’ll soon discover Ruby’s inner strength and what she’ll do to protect her family.  Ruby remembers her mother’s words of advice, “Do what you want to do and don’t care what anyone thinks about you.  Show the world that women matter as much as me…” (Diamond Ruby, Wallace)  I tend to tell too much about a novel due to my excitement for the work of fiction so I will skirt around the story to tell you some of the enticing highlights. Wallace has done a superb job bringing the time period, the places and the people to life in Diamond Ruby.  Brooklyn New York, Coney Island and Yankee Stadium are just a few of the backdrops for Ruby’s tale. The women’s suffragette movement, the Roaring Twenties, gangsters, Prohibition, the Klu Klux Klan, baseball, and the Spanish Influenza are interwoven into the story.  Then there are those well-known sports figures such as Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey who become part of Ruby’s life.  Ruby is a champion and a brave young woman.  Ruby’s talent if you haven’t guessed by now is in her long arms and those arms take her on a journey she never would have imagined.  She could throw a baseball as well as any man.  Her other talent is one of endurance.  Just when you think she’s beat she has something up her sleeve to help her rally. Just like in a baseball game when your team is down with two outs in the ninth inning!  You will love Ruby’s story of survival and the role she played in the game of baseball!

Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink

Guardian of the Gate (Prophecy of the Sisters Series #2)

My love of gothic genre first drew my attention to, Prophecy of the Sisters, Book 1, by Michelle Zink. Add fantasy to the mix, superb writing, fabulous description, and Michelle Zink created a bestselling Young Adult book creating a fan base savoring for more. I was very well pleased as the sequel unfolded! As with Prophecy of the Sisters, Guardian of the Gate, held my attention! I became quite engrossed with the continuing story! The book sprang to life so much so I could vividly picture many of encounters and conflicts! The year is 1891 and the setting is England complete with castles, manors, and legends.  Guardian of the Gate, Book 2, begins with sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe pursuing the missing pages to bring an end to the prophecy which has engulfed her family and others for many years.  Lia and Alice’s parents and brother are now dead, all due to circumstances surrounding the prophecy. This prophecy has turned Lia and her twin sister, Alice, against each other.  Alice has evil plans for the prophecy which puts the sisters at odds. Alice is also in pursuit of the missing pages. Alice is the Guardian and Lia is the Gate of the prophecy. In the past, the Gate has been the enemy but now it is the Guardian!  Will she find what she’s looking for to uncover all of her answers to finally bring an end to the prophecy? Will Lia be able to find the last two keys needed?  By the end of the book you will be on pins and needles to find out if Lia is powerful enough to win out in the end. Her sister Alice has the evil forces on her side to combat Lia.  There can only be one sister left standing. Which one will it be? I can’t wait to uncover the answers to these questions in the final book of the trilogy!!!

The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games; Catching Fire; & Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)

The Hunger Games Trilogy popularity and power has taken over readers of all ages – including me!  At our middle school, it has made a connection with the teen readers and their teachers.  Many discussions and conversations are ensuing between these two groups.  It’s wonderful and invigorating!  Once you begin reading this futuristic North American dystopia, it will seize and capture you!  There are 12 districts in what is known as the nation of Panem that are governed by The Capitol.  How do you keep your subjects from revolting?  Hold a yearly Hunger Games where two people are chosen from each district – a boy and a girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen.  This lottery drawing procedure is called “The Reaping. These “special” 24 chosen fight to the death on television.  There are similarities to our reality TV game shows.  It is mandatory for the people of Panem to watch. The 12 districts get to know the “contestants” prior to the beginning of the Hunger Games.  During this particular Reaping, Katniss Everdeen, who is 16-years-old, volunteers to take her sister’s place when Prim’s name is drawn.  The other lucky name chosen from Katniss’ district is Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son.  I cannot give away any more particulars about the trilogy lest I give something away! Trust me! This trilogy is about survival, an unsympathetic government, an underlying rebellion, revenge, and oh yes – romance.  It is fast-paced.  I’m truly glad I waited to read the first two books this summer because then I didn’t have to wait long to find out about the thrilling and compelling ending!

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

I Heart You, You Haunt Me

 I Heart You, You Haunt Me, is a beautiful book in verse by Lisa Schroeder.   I was easily and quickly drawn into Ava’s story. Her boyfriend, Jackson, has met an untimely tragic death based on a dare which Ava feels she may have influenced the outcome. As the story develops Ava’s parents and friends attempt to comfort and support her as she grieves Jackson’s death. One day Ava looks in her bathroom mirror and experiences a sensation which she believes is the ghost of Jackson attempting to contact her.  More and more Jackson is there in spirit when Ava is alone. She eventually tries to discover why Jackson’s soul cannot rest and what she needs to accept and resolve within her in order to move on with life. It seems that Jackson’s spirit will not be at peace until Ava finally discovers the key to the solution. I could easily appreciate and the popularity of this story with young adults and I look forward to your response!

Radium Halos: A Novel About the Radium Dial Painters by Shelley Stout

Radium Halos

Many women worked as dial painters at the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Illinois. Radium Halos, by Shelley Stout revolves around Violet and Helen Meisner who were enticed by their friend Clara Jane to join her in Ottawa, Illinois to work at the Radium Dial Company where they would make excellent wages. It was the summer of 1923. Clara Jane already worked there and convinced them both to join her. The lure of good wages, to enable them to buy nice items for themselves hooked them. Knowing their father wouldn’t give his approval, the girls fabricated a story telling him they’d gotten jobs in a music shop in Ottawa. During that particular summer all three girls become entangled in a tragic mishap and a secret they all promise to take to their graves.   From the beginning Helen shares this story with the reader and the fate of her sister Violet. The book moves from past to the present day where it’s discovered Helen suffers from mental instability. Helen also enlightens the reader with some of the history surrounding the company. The women working at the Radium Dial Company would dip their brushes into the small jar containing the bluish-green luminous paint and “kiss the brush between their lips” to make the tip more pointed. It made the brush nice and sharp therefore easier to apply the paint onto the numbers on the clocks and watches which was called “tipping.” The clock dials glowed in the dark because of the radium paint.   The story progresses to modern day and Helen as an older woman is under the care of Violet’s daughter, Pearl. She has a son, Tony, and his girlfriend, Adrienne also play a significant part in the story. Eventually a letter is sent to her deceased sister, Violet, from the Argonne Laboratory. They are requesting her to go to be tested for radium exposure. Pearl is unaware of her mother or Helen ever working at the company.  Since Violet and Helen kept their job in Ottawa a secret, Helen is afraid to say she and her sister had ever been employed there. Helen is terrified their secret disaster will be discovered and she will have to pay the price alone.   I was drawn to this particular story on a personal note. I had two relatives who worked at the Ottawa Radium Dial Company. One was a great-aunt who developed cancer and died at a fairly young age. The family stories surrounding this always included the information on the “tipping” procedure. Another female relative also worked there. She eventually developed a mastoid tumor. She was one of the women contacted by Argonne Laboratory to follow up on with medical exams and her exposure to radiation levels.  Stout has skillfully and completely done her research on this subject.   Radium Halos is one historical fiction book you won’t want to miss!



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9 responses to “Parker’s Picks – September/October 2010

  1. Thanks for the mention! So many good books to read right now!

  2. Thanks as always for including me in Parker’s Picks. It’s always an honor!


  3. It’s good to be included among such a great list. Thank you so much!

  4. Darn, now my hold list is through the roof – at least I’ve already read 2 of the titles on the list.

    • Thanks for stopping by and reading my book blog!
      Glad you found more books to read but sorry to add to your holds list – it happens to me all the time! 🙂
      I loved reading your blog! Is the border collie yours? We have had a border collie for 13 years. Her name is Jewel and she is a gem of a family pet!
      Happy Reading!

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