Thursday, June 7, 2018

"The Last Equation of Isaac Severy" by Nova Jacobs

Title: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy
Author: Nova Jacobs
Published: March 6, 2018
Genre: Mystery

For the fans of the earlier reviewed Mr. Penubra's 24-Hour Bookstore, comes the Book of the Month Club's March pick The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues, a clever debut novel from author Nova Jacobs.

I made this novel my choice for BOM mostly because I was drawn to the idea of a math-driven mystery. My husband is the math brain. I, sadly, am not. The choice came as a way to maybe relate to what he finds so fascinating about numbers and equations. What I discovered is that I had plenty in common with the novel's heroine, Hazel Severy, who also doesn't possess my husband's or her own family's gift for mathematics.

Hazel, who owns a slowly-failing bookstore in Seattle, is called home for the funeral of her adoptive grandfather Isaac Severy, a world-renowned mathematician who died of apparent suicide. She soon receives a posthumous letter addressed to her by Isaac explaining that she alone is responsible for recovering his last equation despite not possessing the same mathematical ability as the rest of her extended family. Hazel quickly discovers the global impact that Isaac's equation could have as she searches for clues hidden by her grandfather in a copy of her favorite book. She also discovers that she is not the only Severy who is after the equation. Theoretical physicist Philip, Isaac's oldest son, is also on the hunt. However, a mysterious corporation, who may know more about Isaac's death, is hunting Philip. As soon as it seems like the equation is out of her grasp, Hazel is forced to enlist the help of a mysterious long-lost cousin, whose intentions may not be as pure as her own.

My initial impression of The Last Equation of Isaac Severy was that it was going to center around the amazing equation that Isaac Severy spent his life testing and perfecting. Instead, the story largely became about how this family of geniuses unravels as a result of their present and past traumas. The chapters alternate narratives told from the perspective of various members of the Severy clan. Each intertwined story provides more clues and insight into their complex lives, fragile egos, and tortured pasts. This reader enjoyed the alternating storylines, as it allowed Ms. Jacobs to slowly reveal characteristics and motives of each family member. Without giving anything away, I was extremely pleased with the resolution, as it was not anything like I had guessed.

As fantastical as Severy's equation is, I would recommend this book to mystery and math lovers! It was charming and entertaining and the plot twists and intrigue made the journey a fun one!


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"The Cantaloupe Thief" by Deb Richardson-Moore

Title: The Cantaloupe Thief: A Branigan Powers Mystery
Author: Deb Richardson-Moore
Published: June 27, 2016
Genre: Christian Fiction, Mystery

Hello one and all! Thanks for taking a break from enjoying the warm July weather to check out my review of The Cantaloupe Thief, a debut mystery novel from author Deb Richardson-Moore. This book came my way courtesy of Kregel Publications. Please click the link and check out their website!

Ten years after the brutal stabbing of the wealthy Mrs. Alberta Resnick, matriarch of one of Grambling, GA's most influential families, reporter Branigan Powers takes on the investigation that has stumped local police since its occurrence.

Branigan turns to her friend Liam Delaney for help. Liam is the unconventional pastor at Grambling's local homeless mission. He and Branigan both know that the homeless and transient community may possess some untapped information.

But as Branigan starts to dig, secrets get uncovered, and the people she reaches out to end up dead. A killer is out to cover his tracks, putting Branigan and her allies in grave danger. But little does the killer know that someone else is watching him....

I love a good mystery. I'm definitely a gold-level member of the Agatha Christie Fan Club (if there is such a thing)! Needless to say, I set some pretty high standards for The Cantaloupe Thief, and for the most part, they were met.

I liked the character of Branigan Powers. She's smart and plucky enough to do her job and do it well, but she has just enough personal drama and fall backs to keep her from becoming a super hero. She could be a real woman who you could run into on the street, and I like that.

Speaking of Branigan's personal drama, the novel has several arcs that delve a little deeper into her life. When these arcs were introduced at the beginning of the novel, I thought that they were getting in the way of the mystery at hand. Without giving too much away, however, I found that they tie into Branigan's investigation in a delightfully intriguing way.

The novel is told from the perspective of several of the characters both in the present time and a decade ago at the time of Mrs. Resnick's murder. It was a clever way to slowly reveal all of the clues to the reader. Whether or not you can piece the clues together is a whole different story. I thought for sure that I had correctly guessed the murderer only to be completely blindsided by the right answer. Between you and me, I love when that happens! This book kept me guessing!

The main theme of the novel was how sometimes homeless people feel overlooked or invisible. So I want to take the time, my dear readers, to remind you all to be kind to one another, especially those who have fallen on hard time. Don't be so quick to judge others by their circumstances, but instead remember the example of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.

"Love you neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27

Kaylee says:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"Out of the Easy" by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Out of the Easy
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published: February 12, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Anyone who asks me for great YA or Historical Fiction reads, I will drop the name Ruta Sepetys immediately! I reviewed her novel Between Shades of Gray last summer! It's still one of my favorites (The movie adaptation called Ashes in the Snow is currently being filmed)!  Ok. Fangirl moment over. Her second novel, Out of the Easy, didn't disappoint.

For Josie Moraine, life in The Big Easy during the 1950s isn't exactly...easy. Known by the locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, she wants more out of life than what the French Quarter can offer. She works tirelessly in her best friend's bookshop and cleans for Willie, the infamous brothel madame, all while thwarting her neglectful, thieving mother and her mother's new beau who brings trouble with him wherever he goes.

As she get older, Josie dreams of attending a prestigious university on the East Coast. However, she can't seem to shake the whispers and the stares that follow her everywhere. When a mysterious murder occurs in the Quarter, Josie finds herself wrapped up in an investigation that will challenge her to rise above her station or succumb to the expectations that the Quarter residents have already laid out for her.

Josie Moraine is a great female protagonist. She's strong, sassy, and resilient. She knows how to make the best out of a bad situation, and I think young ladies will love rooting for her. The rest of the characters are as seedy as they are sympathetic. It seems like everyone in the French Quarter is up to something, but Sepetys will make readers love them anyway.

I'm not an expert on 1950s New Orleans, but the notes of racial tension, classism, and the presence of mobsters fits the time period. I also know that the author conducts extensive research before she writes, so I'm going to leave the rest to Ruta and trust that it's all accurate.

I really enjoyed this book, however, it's not one that I would consider using in my classroom library. The details surrounding the brothel and the prostitutes are something that I consider inappropriate to read within a school building. But older kids and adults, if you're looking for your next historical fiction read, then this is one that you should get your hands on!

Kaylee says: