Nancy's Reviews

After working in several word-related fields: copy writing, editing, freelance voice talent and theatre--followed by a long career as a stay-at-home mom I started working at the bookstore almost nineteen years ago, and was fortunate enough to be the manager for eighteen years. From my first day at work I had a sense of being home among the books and fellow book-junkies and that feeling only grew with the ensuing years.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a terrific team of booksellers and customers, and I am especially indebted to my fantastic family who supported my choice of jobs despite work hours that were definitely not conducive to family and social activities. I'm just now learning what all the fuss about weekends is all about!

My thanks to all of you who supported the store, who mourned its closing, and who asked us to establish this forum so that we can continue our tradition of exchanging opinions and ideas about books.

Perfect Shot                                    

 Author:  Robin Yocum                    Fiction                        

Every small town has one: that local hero, almost always the guy who, in high school, made that touchdown, scored that goal, made that perfect shot. In Mingo Junction, Ohio, that hero is Duke Ducheski, the player who, twenty-three years ago, made the shot that won the state basketball trophy. Sometimes, these heroes go on into the wider world, making of themselves something that transcends their early identity, but that isn’t what happened to Duke. Saddled with a wife who loathes him but won’t let him go, tethered to Mingo Junction by a son who, hopelessly brain-damaged in utero, will never recognize him, Duke hangs on: to his son, his marriage, his mill job, his high school buddies, his dream of buying and running his own restaurant. It’s the dream that, some days, is the only thing that gets him up in the morning.

As in many small towns, Mingo Junction has a way for its residents to escape the unrelenting grayness of their lives, and in Mingo Junction, that way is gambling, a racket that owns pretty much every otherwise upstanding business. For Duke, the mob and its control is a huge deal: not only does he refuse to watch his profits go to paying off organized crime, but organized crime in Mingo Junction is his sleazy brother-in-law who is not amenable to letting Duke off the hook.

Yocum nails this one, perfectly capturing the desolation of poverty and dread in a town once bustling with hope.


Force of Nature                                                       

 Author:  Jane Harper                            Fiction       

In Australia, surviving a trip into the bush can by iffy, even when that trip is an organized and controlled team-building excursion for business people to strengthen their working relationship. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, family-owned Bailey Tennants is desperate: someone in the company is leaking secret documents, not to the press, but to the government agency investigating their financial irregularities. Hoping to flush out the culprit, the company dispatches two teams into the bush, five men, five women, entering the bush where serial killer Martin Kovac brutalized his victims. Silly to worry, right, when Kovac himself is dead? Absolutely. Except: no one knows where Kovac’s son is.

Harper, who showed such promise in her debut novel The Dry, has secured a place in the suspense genre with Force of Nature.



 Author:  John Hart                       Fiction                           

In Hush Arbor, Johnny Merrimon knows every tree, every movement, every breath. It isn’t memory, it is feeling. It is knowing. Forty thousand acres of land are his, but not n any way that gives him control over that part of the land that is the swamp, where trees shift their location, paths disappear and recreate themselves, where strange and ugly things happen to protect the secrets of the Hush. Johnny is the only human occupant of the Hush, although there are ruins of a great mansion, and the crumbled remains of a small settlement, the home, a hundred years ago, of the slaves freed by Johnny’s ancestor. People die in the swamp, or vanish, or go mad with the cold and the weight they feel there. In his dreams, Johnny sees the truth of the land, its history, the blood shed there; in his dreams, Johnny learns of the unforgivable things done in its name, the horror.

Hush is a departure for Hart from his traditional genre, but what a book! Stories involving the supernatural are difficult to write without devolving into silliness, but Hart creates such a real and creepy place in the Hush that it is impossible not to get caught up in it.


Bad Daughter                                      

 Author:  Joy Fielding                     Fiction                     

In the six years since she left Red Bluff, Robin has refused any contact with her family, which is, she sometimes thinks, the only thing (besides her fiancée, Blake, of course), that keeps her sane. She’s an adult now, with a BA in psychology, a fledgling practice, a real, grown-up life. So why, after having heard only the voice of her detestable sister on the answering machine, is she having a full-blown panic attack? And in the middle of a patient’s appointment, of all times? How could two words, “Call me,” threaten to unravel all she’s worked to build? Returning the call, however, is even worse: her father, in addition to his wife and daughter, have been shot. It doesn’t look good. Robin needs to go home. But how can she return to the place where her sister hates her, and where her father and her best friend betrayed her?

Fielding is almost unfailingly good at building suspense in this page turner! A terrific read!