Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Twenty-Seven: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

May Book Club Selection

I wasn't sure what to think about this book when we first selected it in book club.  I had seen other Cannonball Read participants reading and reviewing it  - Prisco & Rusty - so it couldn't be that bad.

I'm a big Jane Austin fan.  I've read most of her books.  I did a book report in high school comparing and contrasting the matchmaking in the 19th century within Emma with current day matchmaking companies. 

I have read the original Pride and Prejudice as well as seen the latest movie version.  I was pleasantly surprised that this book is exactly what the title claims - Jane Austin's book with zombies and ninja fighting Bennett sisters.  I found the illustrations to be a fun distraction and looked forward to the next one as I read the book. I would definitely recommend that you read the original book and/or watch a movie version before reading this book.  Having a basic knowledge of the plot allows the reader to enjoy the fun and humor that the zombie attacks and fighting brings to this classic.

Twenty-Six: Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner

***Full disclosure: This book was provided for free by Bantam via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers group ***

Danielle - at age 9 - survives a drunken killing rampage by her father. Her memories of that night are sketchy.  She moved in with her aunt, went to college and became a pediatric psych nurse helping other kids who have experienced trauma in their life.

Detective D.D. Warren's date is interrupted by a attempted murder of a whole family.  All indications is that the father went on a killing spree with the family, but he messed up his own suicide. She meets her partners Phil & Neil at the scene as well as Phil's shadow professor Alex Wilson.  They start to investigate how the killings occurred and the evidence at the scene.

Victoria is prisoner to her eight year old son Evan who suffers with mental trauma.  She must lock up all her knifes and sharp objects so that he doesn't attack her with them. She sleeps drugs into his drinks and food in order to get a few hours of sleep.  But even after all the abuse, she still loves him and sometimes sees the loving son that he is underneath all the negative energy.  Victoria's husband and daughter left because they couldn't handle Evan's condition and how Victoria always put him first.  She gets to see her daughter Chelsea once a week for a few hours.

Danielle works with a new patient in the ward - Lucy - who takes on a persona of a cat. Lucy manages to escape the many locked doors in the pysch ward.  Danielle finds her outside curled up sleeping.  Worried she is going to lose her job, Danielle swears that Lucy or any other child will not be able to escape the routine checks her and the staff make. The next night Lucy wakes up screaming.  In her attempt to calm Lucy down, Danielle ends up being attacked by her.  Danielle struggles to keep her composure as the work stress adds to the stress of the upcoming anniversary of her family being murdered.

D.D.'s investigation leads her to the pysch ward where Danielle works.  The son in the murdered family was a recent patient and a possible suspect. Danielle points the detectives to a psychic Andrew Lightfoot.  D.D. & Alex question Andrew regarding the dead family. 

The next day another family is murdered again allegedly by the father. This family lived across town in a rougher neighborhood.  The team struggles to determine if there is a connection between the two cases. After a little investigation, they determine that the youngest child of the second family was also a patient of the pysch ward where Danielle works.

While D.D. and her team are investigating the second family at the pysch ward, Lucy disappears again.  The staff finds her in another area of the hospital - hanging from the ceiling.  Suddenly D.D. is wondering if these murdered families are a coincident or related to Danielle's past. As they continue to investigate they realize that there are more connections between the two cases than they initially thought.

Lisa Gardner wrote this book where each chapter is told from a different character's point of view.  At first I wasn't sure I saw how she was going to relate these different characters together.  Definitely a good read and full of witty dialogue.

Twenty-Five: The Wives of Henry Oades - Johanna Moran

Henry and Margaret Oades and their family travel to New Zealand from London for an accounting job with the local government.  Henry is ready for the adventure, but Margaret is not sure.  When they arrive they find the conditions are worse than they thought.  She makes friends with another England transplant, Mim, who son is close to her son John's age.

One night the local tribal people, the Maori, kidnap Margaret and her children from their home.  They kill Mim and set Margaret & Henry's home on fire.  Henry returns home to find an empty home and a charred body which he can't identify.  Henry and Mim's husband search and search for them but are unable to locate Margaret and the children.  Henry gets into an accident and spends some time in the hospital. 

Henry returns to work but has a hard time focusing on office work.  He finally accepts that his family is dead and decides to leave on a ship bound for California.  On the ship he befriends another passenger who offers him a job on his uncle's farm.  Henry feels that outdoor type work will be a better fit and learns how to milk a cow.  Henry turns out to be a natural at the farm work and ends up taking over the farm when the uncle dies.
When a fire in town breaks out, Henry helps rescue a pregnant woman from it - Nancy.  Nancy looses her husband in the fire, but gains a child the same day. Henry continues to visit to her everyday after that baby is born. One day he offers her a home and place for her baby and she accepts. They marry.

Meanwhile Margaret and her children have been "adapting" to living with the Maori.  She has become a lucky charm for the expecting mothers.  One day they are just let go.  John leads them back to town where they find out that Henry has left.  They work on a ship in order to pay their way to California.  Once they arrive there they inquire about where Henry lives.  Nancy opens the door and is shocked to find out that Henry's first wife - Margaret and their children are alive.

Henry and each of his wives are arrested separately and charged with having a bigamist relationship. Each time their lawyer is able to find a loophole and get them off.  In the meantime Nancy and Margaret convince Henry they need to move to a different town more tolerable of their situation so that they can all live together in one house.

The book is narrated from the perspectives of Nancy and Margaret.  It is rumored that a California newspaper ran this story as a hoax

Twenty-Four: Nanny Returns - Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Nan and Ryan are back in NYC after living abroad for 12 years.  Nan is starting her consulting business while Ryan is off working with diplomats.  Nan is left to deal with a non-existent contractor and a house that is falling apart more and more each day.  Ryan is pressuring her to start a family, but Nan is just not sure she is ready to.

Then one day Grayer X, Nan's old charge who is now 16 years old, shows up at her door late one night. Nan feeling guilty about leaving Grayer how she did - helps his younger brother Stilton with a boarding school interview - posing as his mother.  Suddenly Nan is thrown back into the world of Mr & Mrs X - who are in the middle of a very public divorce.

Nan gets an offer to be a faulty development person at Grayer's private school.  She walks into a group of snobby kids ganging up on a good teacher while trying to impress the school board members. Nan navigates the politics at the school while trying to play mother and father to Grayer & Stilton. 

Nan reconnects with some high school friends as well and finds herself in the middle of Upper East side mother and their nannies.  Memories of her previous times with Mrs. X and Grayer keep flashing before her eyes. 

In between the charity balls and weekends in the Hamptons, Nan realizes that she might be ready to be a mom but to Grayer & Stilton - not her own kids.