The Heretic’s Daughter

heretics-daughter

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $4.99
Paperback $12.75
Hardback $26.99
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780316024488
9780316024495 — Paperback
9780316037532 — Hardcover
9781448732999 — Prebind
9780230704435 — Hardcover
9780316144698
9780330456302 — Paperback

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 3P

This book is really well written, though slow at times.

This won’t appeal to everyone, and as a relatively well known title has probably been read by a lot of people.

Readers Annotation

Be drawn into the witch trials and struggle of living.

Summary

This is the story of Sarah and her family. Sarah is sent to live with her aunt and uncle while her family lives through the spread of small pox in Andover. She quickly becomes enamored with her aunt and cousin and wishes to stay with them. When her father comes to pick her up she doesn’t want to leave.

In comparison to her aunt’s home, Sarah thinks that her mother and father are very cold. The town is wary of her family and especially of her mother, whom some say can work magic. The other girls in town pick on Sarah. After her cousin unsuccessfully tries to burn down their barn, the family starts to hear rumors about the witch trials. Sarah’s mother Martha shares with her knowledge of her father and has her help bury the book on what he has done in a field.

Martha is arrested for being a witch. Before she is taken she tells Sarah to tell her siblings to confess to being a witch. The two older brothers are arrested next, and while they don’t confess to begin with, after the slower brother is tortured, they do. Then Sarah and her younger brother are arrested. They both confess and finger people who have already been arrested. They are thrown in jail.

The jail is appalling. The women and men are packed in, with barely any food, the jailor’s wife keeps trying to buy the clothes off their backs and buckets to use for waste. The children are afraid, but Sarah is able to talk to her mother in the condemned cell. Her brother gets sick and may need to lose his arm, but he gets better. Her mother is hung, and eventually the family is released.

Evaluation

I though that this was a good book. It wasn’t the most earth shattering experience I’ve ever had, but it drew me in and intrigued me. It was an interesting view on the witch trials in Salem. It gave the perspective of one who lived through the tragedy and survived. I think that most of the characters were well rounded. There were times where it wasn’t clear what motivated some of the characters, or why they did what they did, but those details might not have been important.

The setting was perfect. Kathleen Kent really brought life to the life that Sarah’s family lived and the disconcerting feel of the trials and jail. The setting, and the mood it provoked were the star of this book.

I think this is a great Historical novel that anyone interested in the time period or the witch trials would like. It has a lot of detail and feel for the time period.

It wasn’t my favorite book to read, but it was intriguing enough to keep me coming back. I thought that the beginning was a little slow, and that it was a little hard to get into. But really, it was just that I don’t find the witch trials and human suffering enjoyable to read about.

Genre

Historical Fiction

Readalikes

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent

Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Significance

This book shows a different side of the Salem Witch Trials. The main character is an outsider who gets drawn into the conflict, giving a first hand account of the experience. This character arc, and stark look at the lives of those accused, are what make this title unique.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Should Martha have confessed to being a witch?

Discuss the reasons the witch trials happened.

How do you think this affected Sarah’s life?

Author’s website

Kathleen Kent’s website

Awards

David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction

School Library Journal’s Adult Books for High School Students: 2008

Reviews

NY Times

Kirkus

Publisher’s Weekly

Why I Chose It

This was a required read, but it had an intriguing Salem Witch Trials tie in plot.

Other Information

Catering to Nobody

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $49.00
Paperback $7.19
Hardback $12.97
Kindle $3.99
Associated ISBNs 9780553584707
9780449220467 — Paperback
9781574902044 — Hardcover
9780312042776 — Hardcover
9781575110202

Rating (VOYA)

3Q, 3P

As a cozy mystery, this one wasn’t bad but it wasn’t super well written. I had some issues with the plot and characters.

I think this one is a little dark for most cozy readers, and not dark enough for mainstream thriller/mystery readers.

Readers Annotation

 

Summary

After her son’s teacher commits suicide, Goldy must cater the wake. However her ex father-in-law, Fritz, is poisoned and her catering business is shut down. Goldy decides to investigate the poisoning and the teacher’s suicide in order to get her business running again. She works with Shultz, the policeman she starts dating, to solve the crime while trying to reach out to her son Arch who was close to the teacher.

Goldy looks through the teacher’s house under the pretense of looking at it to buy. She breaks into the teacher’s locker at the gym and looks at the teacher’s medical file at Fritz’s office.

In the meantime she struggles to pay the bills by cleaning other people’s homes. Arch is acting out despite Goldy’s attempts to reach out to him and her roommate Patty Sue is acting strange. She meets up with her friend and fellow ex-wife Marla.

Arch discovers a bloody knife in a car Goldy borrows from Fritz. Goldy’s ex mother-in-law over self medicates and dies. Goldy figures out it was Fritz who killed the teacher, his wife, and was manipulating a now pregnant Patty Sue into having sex with him. Fritz tries to take Goldy  out but Arch and Pomeroy (another teacher) take Fritz out. It turns out that Pomeroy was the one poisoning Fritz because he hold Fritz responsible for his wife’s death.

Evaluation

This wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t earth moving. I had a lot of issues with Goldy’s relationship with Shultz and its believability. I also had some issues with Arch, but he’s a teenage boy so that might just be why. The plot was a little unbelievable, in that there’s no way she would have had tacit police acceptance of her investigating, and the whole idea of her “investigation” was pretty crazy. Goldy and Arch were the only characters that were really three dimensional. All the other characters were pretty glossed over. I don’t think I really believed the setting or action. It was a small town, but I’ve read better depictions of small towns (Agatha Raisin).

I think this might not entirely work for its intended audience. Its a little dark for a cozy mystery, and the casual mentions of spousal abuse are really off-putting. Its not as fun as most other cozy mysteries.

Genre

Cozy mystery, Gentle Read

Readalikes

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

A Taste for Murder by Claudia Bishop

Significance

One of the first cozy mysteries.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What do you think about Goldy’s relationship with Shultz?

How believable is it that Goldy was able to conduct her own investigation?

Was this an acurate depiction of small town life?

Author’s website

Diane Mott Davidson’s Facebook page

Awards

 

Reviews

PW

Kirkus

Why I Chose It

Another required read. However, I’ve secretly been wanting to see if these were any good because I appreciate a good punny title.

Other Information

Prey

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $84.00
Paperback $5.99, $10.47
Hardback $20.00
Kindle $6.99
Associated ISBNs 9780066214122
9780061015724 — Paperback
9780060536985 — Paperback
9780061703089 — Paperback
9780307209429 — Paperback
9780062227201 — Paperback
9780606309295 — Glued Binding
9780060540791
9780061750236
9780756931261 — Glued Binding
9780007229734 — Paperback
9781439568262 — Prebind

Rating (VOYA)

3Q, 3P

Its not the greatest quality of thriller, and it comes off pretty dated in some ways. The pace is a little inconsistent, but its still pretty enjoyable.

Popularity-wise, it is a little dated. It is a silly premise, but the subversion of some tropes helps. It could appeal to the mainstream audience.

Readers Annotation

Something is wrong with Julia. Jack must find a way to stop it.

Summary

Jack Forman is currently a stay at home dad after he lost his programming job. His wife Julia works for Xymos, a company that is working with cutting edge technology. Jack suspects that there’s something wrong with Julia, and that she may be having an affair. Julia shows him Xymos’ nanobot project. His sister comes for a visit and he’s called in to consult on a project at Xymos. Julia is involved in a car accident and refuses to have an MRI.

When he gets to Xymos, Ricky the project manager is cagy about the details of the nanobot project. There are swarms of nanobots in the desert that seem to be evolving. Jack watches the nanobot swarms kill a rabbit and takes samples. He comes to the conclusion that they must stop the swarms immediately or they will never be able to be stopped. He takes a team into the desert to get supplies and two die. That night he takes out two other programmers to take out the swarms in their hideout. They blow up the swarm base, but when they get back something strange is going on.

Julia shows up and acts strange. Julia and Ricky argue that the production cannot be shut down and the company should not be notified. A programmer is found dead. Jack and Mae formulate a plan when they find evidence that Ricky and Julia are having an affair and are infected with the nanobots. They put a compound in the sprinkler system and turn off the safety precautions on the production unit and destroy the nanobots. Julia and Ricky die.

Evaluation

This was an okay book. It wasn’t particularly well written, and supposedly smart characters were pretty stupid at times to help with the plot. But it was an intriguing premise of technology gone wrong and the climax was suitably thrilling.

The plot was not bad. Technology gettin out of control is always a compelling plot. It was slow in the beginning, and took way too much time establishing Jack’s life before the incident. The characters were okay. Jack was the most fleshed out, but he could be pretty stupide for plot convience. Mae was probably the best character, though Ricky and Julia weren’t bad either. But all the characters could be stupid when the plot needed them to be.

The setting was pretty good. Jack’s home life was pretty detailed and the desert and factory were just right to give the right feeling. The ending action was pretty thrilling. Once the characters were in danger of the nanobots the action was compelling.

I wasn’t really drawn into the emotion of the book, but I was distracted by the occasional stupidity. I think its a good mainstream thriller that would appeal to people that are a little afraid of technology. Its a good cautionary tale.

Flaws were pretty evident. The pacing was off for half the novel. The characters would be stupid if the plot needed them to not understand, and the technology was just a little dated.

Genre

Techno-thriller

Readalikes

The Deep by Nick Cutter

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

Significance

This book doesn’t really have much significance. Its a run of the mill “beware the hazards of technology” thriller.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

When do you think Julia became not-Julia?

How are the swarms different from the other nanobots?

Do you think the nanobots were actually stopped?

Author’s website

Michael Crichton

Awards

Booklist Editors’ Choice – Adult Fiction for Young Adults: 2002

Reviews

Kirkus

PW

Why I Chose It

I chose this book for the intriguing premise and because it is a Michael Crichton book.

Other Information

One for the Money

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $8.06
Paperback $8.99
Hardback $23.57
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780684196398
9780312990459 — Paperback
9780061009051 — Paperback
9789990833485 — Paperback
9780743216395 — Hardcover
9780312547004 — Paperback
9780312600730 — Paperback
9780312362089 — Paperback
9780743267717 — Hardcover
9780783811864 — Hardcover
9781410438812 — Hardcover
9781442075214 — Glued Binding
9780684867311
9781250057938 — Paperback
9781448792863 — Glued Binding
9780312364823 — Paperback
9780140252927 — Paperback
9780753158296

Rating (VOYA)

3Q, 4P

It’s not great quality writing even if it is mostly amusing, so it earned a 3Q.

Everyone and their mom has already read this, but it’s still super popular so it’s a 4P.

Readers Annotation

Stephanie Plum needs money, and needs to track down her man to get it.

Summary

Stephanie Plum is broke and in desperate need of a job. She has no money, no food and her car had been repossessed. Her parents think its time for her to get a man. She decides to become a bounty hunter to pay the bills.

Her main case is to find Joe Morelli, who killed a man. She tracks him down by fluke and her tells her to butt out. She gets lessons in bounty hunting from Ranger. Stephanie wanders to Trenton to find Morelli and ends up at a boxing club. She encounters Ramirez, who tries to rape her and is rescued by Morelli.

She steals Morelli’s car. She turns over a few easy catches for fast cash. Ramirez tracks her home and starts calling her and leaving her disturbing messages. She talks to Ramirez’s manager Alpha about him, but he won’t do anything about his boxer.

Lulu, a whore from Trenton by the boxing club, is left strung up outside Stephanie’s window. Morelli stays hidden with her for a few nights as protection. Morty Beyers, the bounty hunter whose cases Stephanie has been working, comes to her apartment to take back his cases and then steals the keys to Morelli’s truck. The truck blows up.

Stephanie goes to the butcher shop that Ziggy was supposed to hang at and follows the owner to the docks. Morelli joins her and they discover bodies. Stephanie locks Morelli in the truck with the bodies and turns him over to the police.

When she goes home, Alpha is waiting for her. He was the mastermind. He comes at her and she shoots him dead.

Evaluation

Honestly, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the greatest thing in the world. I thought, since it has such a large following, that it would be great, but it wasn’t. I tried twice to get into it. The first audiobook was horrible, the second was actually pretty good. I got invested enough that I couldn’t fall asleep when listening to it. The plot was pretty straight forward and mostly worked.  I know after one book that Stephanie and Morelli are the love interests of the series and that eventually they’ll get together and everything will pretty much work out on that front, without reading another book.

However, I found the idea of Stephanie Plum being a successful bounty hunter extremely unlikely. She had no awareness or street smarts, or common sense. She was easily offended, and completely idiotic at times. Its a miracle she didn’t die. Even saying that, she was a pretty well flushed out character. I liked her self-deprecating tone. She had a great voice, but definitely not the smarts. Morelli was pretty flushed out as well. In fact, the characters were all quite good.

Its obvious that the audience loves these books. They’re immensely popular, and always circulating. They’re just not perfect books.

Genre

Chick Lit, Mystery

Readalikes

A Deadly Habit by Andrea Sisco

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Significance

Lady bounty hunter makes this unique.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Did you believe Alpha?

Will Stephanie keep being a bounty hunter?

Discuss boxing culture.

Author’s website

Janet Evanovich

Awards

Dagger Awards: CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger

Dilys Award (1992-2014)

Reviews

Kirkus

PW

Why I Chose It

It’s such a popular series I knew I needed to try it.

Other Information

Danger in the Shadows

 

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $238.91
Paperback $9.09
Hardback $4.30
Kindle $8.50
Associated ISBNs 9781576735770
9781576739273 — Paperback
9781414310558 — Paperback
9780786263127 — Hardcover
9781594150333 — Paperback
9781414354781
9781448796670 — Prebind
9781590522479 — Paperback
9781414354743

Rating (VOYA)

2Q, 3P

Ok, this isn’t a really great plot. The idea is solid, but the way it was done wasn’t good. The characters were ok, but used God as a justification way too much.

Its a realtively harmless Christian Romance Thriller and might go over well with some people.

Readers Annotation

She’s hiding, but God and a good man can save her.

Summary

Sarah was abducted as a child along with her twin sister. They are daughters of an ambassador. Her sister died in the basement they were held in. The man who abducted her has been looking for her ever since and sends her father momentos, keeping her in fear and protective custody.

Now Sarah hides her identity and works in a high rise in Chicago. Late one night she takes the elevator in a storm and becomes trapped with the power goes out with former NFL player Adam Black. She has panic attack and has flashbacks in the dark enclosed space. Adam is concerned for her. After they’re freed, they have coffee together across the street. Sarah leaves, and Adam is intrigued by her.

Adam leaves notes and presents on her car, and when she keeps saying ‘no,’ sends his assistant to find her name and where she works, so the man follows her. Sarah presses a panic button and the FBI take him in for questioning. Adam gets dragged in, and learns the situation. He is undaunted, he needs to know Sarah. She invites him to dinner to explain and make a clean break.

The two connect, and Adam lets her have space while he makes friends with her brother in order to see her again. Two weeks later they reconnect. After a few dates, the two go to one of Adam’s nephew’s baseball games and a local student journalist takes a picture of the two. Then Sarah’s stalker sends her father a momento. Sarah and Adam are put in protective custody.

After a month apart, they meet up again at her safe house. Sarah decides enough is enough and decides to track down her stalker. Both her brother and Adam disapprove. They move Sarah back to her childhood home, and the stalker breaks in. They finally break the case open and arrest the man. He breaks out of custody and comes after Sarah. Sarah’s brother takes him out.

Sarah and Adam get married in the little epilogue.

Evaluation

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I like the idea of it. And I think it could have been a really great book, however the author made some really bad choices. She had Adam pretty much stalk Sarah even though she has a stalker she’s deadly afraid of, and there weren’t any negative feelings for Adam from Sarah because of this. She should have been terrified of him. Sarah said ‘no,’ to him very clearly at least three times, and he did not take that as an answer, even going so far as to forge a relationship with her brother in order to worm his way into her life (and her brother was ok with this! He’s an FBI agent, he should have been all “no”). Also, Sarah doesn’t want to have children because of what happened to her. Adam wants a family. He was willing to give up that dream in order to be with her when he thought that she couldn’t have children, but when he learns that she can, but won’t he thinks that he can convince her that she really does want to have children and plans to manipulate her to do what he wants. Their entire romance is unbelievable. Adam constantly uses God as an excuse for what he does “God how can I get her to see? God how can I get her to do this?”

All that being said, if you can ignore the general creepy/manipulative vibe of Adam, its not a bad story. Its pretty compelling, and you want Sarah to be able to move on with her life and heal. I really felt for Sarah, and I liked her brother as well.

The settings were pretty forgetable. They weren’t really important to the story other than the childhood estate and the basement where Sarah was held.

I think it might work for the audience. It really depends on how they interpret Adam’s character.

Genre

Christian Fiction, Christian romantic suspense

Readalikes

Private Justice by Terri Blackstock

Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White

Significance

Its a suspense book, but a Christian suspense book. It won a RITA.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What do you think about Adam’s actions concerning Sarah?

Did you find Sarah’s situation believeable?

Discuss how belief worked in the story.

Author’s website

Dee Henderson

Awards

RITA Award for Inspirational Romance

Reviews

Goodreads

Amazon (LJ)

Why I Chose It

I chose this because it is a Christian Fiction book. It also had an intriguing blurb on the back that drew my attention. It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Other Information