Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller

2016, Random House

On August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden was having a typical morning.  She got out her handkerchiefs to iron, and went out the the barn to find some fishing leads for her pole.  But when she got back, chaos reigned...

Her father and step-mother had been brutally murdered, their faces hacked to pieces.

She was only gone 10-15 minutes.  How could this have happened?  Right away the police were called and the investigation into one of the most famous murders began to proceed.  But what makes this murder and subsequent trial one of the most (in)famous trials in American history is the big whodunit?

At the time, it was HIGHLY irregular for a woman, especially a woman of society and wealth, to be put on trial for something as heinous as murder by an axe, but all evidence pointed to poor Lizzie.  She was under house arrest, then taken to jail for months until the trial began in Fall River, Massachusetts.  Who did it?  Was it truly Lizzie or someone else?  Will the real murdered be captured for the town could rest easy or not?

I absolutely LOVE narrative non-fiction, and Sarah Miller doesn't disappoint with her book.  Not only does the reader feel like they're reading a novel, but she also leaves an air of mystery throughout, nudging the reader to the end to see if anything happened, new evidence was found, and who was ultimately responsible for the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Borden.  Miller provides the reader with historical excerpts from newspapers and trial transcripts as well as eyewitness testimony from not only the day the murder happened, but all the interaction that happened between Lizzie Borden and themselves.  Miller takes one of America's most intriguing events and creates a big picture that at the same time dispels rumors most people think from then until today.  This is an excellent collection to any collection.  Recommended JH/HS.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Shackled by Tom Leveen

2015, Simon Pulse
Pelly and Tara were best friends until Tara disappeared.  What was just another ordinary day turned into a nightmare, in which Pelly went home and Tara never did.  This left a deep emotional scar on Pelly, where she was afraid to leave the house, suffered from severe panic attacks and went through rigorous therapy.  Now, as a teen, Pelly is taking it one step at a time, making her entrance into a world she tried so hard to avoid.  To try to maintain a "normal" life, she gets a job at a local coffee shop where she and David work the counters.  However hard David tries to engage Pelly, she won't respond.  It's not part of her safe world she's willing to let go of right now.

And then THEY comes into the coffee shop.  He looks like he has his daughter with him, treating her to a coffee, but Pelly is shocked, not only with what she sees, but what she hears.  Tara had a small mole on her neck, and this girl has the same mark.  Pelly isn't sure if her eyes and mind are playing tricks on her until she hears to the girl whisper, "help me" as she leaves, in tow behind the non-descript man who ushers her into his car and speed away.  Pelly KNOWS it's her friend Tara and all of the hard work she's done to get back out in the world disappears as swiftly as the car her friend got into.

Although David didn't see what she did, he is willing to help her because he believes her.  This is something Pelly isn't used to because no one, not even the police, believes her story.  All she has is the description of the car and the license plate number, but that's all she and David need to track down the man and find out if he is the abductor who took Tara years ago.

And when they finally arrive at their destination, they are confronted with a brutal truth....something much bigger and more unexpected than they could have imagined...

Leveen writes a dark novel about an equally dark part of society - those that prey on the young and weak without anyone believing they are psychopaths in disguise.
Ripped from today's headlines, this story mirrors the horrific incident surrounding Ariel Castro and his home in Cleveland and Leveen does an excellent job in creating a fictional novel with equally realistic characters and plot development that allow the reader to question whether Pelly hasn't quite healed emotionally orshe really did see what she thought she did.  The author creates two main characters who are very much opposite but together, their opposites make sense. The reader will begin to slowly peel the layers apart until the ending where they find the heart of the matter may not be what they expected.  Recommended for upper JH/HS

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Booklist: Real Life Reads for Young Adults

Instead of the traditional booklist, I'm sharing a pictorial list...they appeal more to the senses and you got to hand it to book covers - these ROCK!