Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Recommendations for November

The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames
Ames is the author of my favorite TV show—Bored to Death, so I wanted to read one of his books. This is a graphic novel depicting the drunken life of the fictional Jonathan A. He is a confused young man, wanting love, dealing with tragedy, looking for reasons to hope. He tells his story without apology. The graphics worked well with the writing. It was a worthwhile and memorable read.
Website for Jonathan Ames.

The Hilliker Curse by James Ellroy
I’ve read Ellroy’s fiction and find it boring. I’ve also read his memoir My Dark Places and absolutely loved it. Ellroy does not shy away from telling you the awful truths about himself. He comes off as a right wing, religious, sex crazed, crazy man. Yet it spite of that his writing style is out of this world! It is fast and exciting; it draws you in and won’t let you go. His are the best memoirs I’ve ever read so why is his fiction so dry? Ellroy is a very interesting man, like him and his fiction, or not.
Website for James Ellroy.

New Tricks by David Rosenfelt
This is my first Rosenfelt book. It was a cute, light-hearted doggy mystery. I prefer my mysteries a little more serious and a little tougher but this was okay as doggy mysteries go.
Website for David Rosenfelt.

Hold Me Tight & Tango Me Home by Maria Finn
When Maria Finn learns that her husband is having an affair she throws him out and finds herself left with heartache and doubts. She happens upon a group of tango dancers and decides that learning a new dance is just what she needs to help her reconnect with people socially. This chance event leads her to a new intellectual pursuit, a new confidence and a new source of joy in her life. This memoir was well-written, entertaining and enthusiastically portrayed the joys of tango.
Website for Maria Finn.

Nemesis by Philip Roth
During the 1940’s a neighborhood in Newark, NJ is hit particularly hard by the polio epidemic. Bucky Cantor, the playground director, finds himself in the center of the tragedy. This is a very interesting look at the effect of assuming responsibility for others in the face of overpowering odds. Roth is a thoughtful writer who forces you to look at the hard questions and decide for yourself if you agree with his characters actions.

London Boulevard by Ken Bruen
Mitchell is released from a three year stint in prison. He gets a job as handyman to an aging movie star who lives in a crumbling mansion with her butler. His old friends get him involved in many a shady deal and the butler conveniently helps him get out of these messes. Little does he realize the trap he has gotten into. This is Ken Bruen's version of Sunset Boulevard the great 1950 film but with a twist.
Website for Ken Bruen.

Good Morning, Midnight by Reginald Hill
Dalziel and Pascoe are a couple of my favorite British policemen. They have such different personalities and different styles of policing. Here they're head-to-head on a case that Dalziel insists was a suicide but Pascoe can only see the oddities in this "supposed" suicide. Colorful characters abound and lots of humor--especially when Dalziel rants about the "funny buggers" (MI-5).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All the Colors of Darkness by Peter Robinson
This is in the Alan Banks series of police procedurals. Banks and Cabbot are brought in to investigate an apparent murder/suicide. Their investigation leads them into dangerous territory--MI-6. The story keeps you guessing and I never fail to enjoy the company of Banks and Cabbot.

A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield
Stella Hardesty is a formerly abused wife who dispatched her husband and now helps other abused wives eliminate their problems. Stella is a tough, middle aged woman with a sense of humor who gets in over her head when she follows an abusive husband who has kidnapped his wife’s son. This takes place in the Ozarks in southern Missouri where she winds up battling the Kansas City mafia. This is the first in the series and it looks like it will be a good one.

American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson
Craig Ferguson always struck me as being a really nice guy with a great sense of humor. After reading his book he still seems like a nice guy and he still has a great sense of humor. This was an entertaining, moving and fun memoir. I'm glad I read it!

A Night of Long Knives by Rebecca Cantrell
Journalist Hannah Vogel returns to Germany in this 2nd in the series. Her son Anton is kidnapped while she is sent to marry Ernst Röhm. Instead Röhm is killed in the night of long knives so Hannah sets out to find Anton and leave Germany for safety. This series takes place in the early days of Nazi Germany and although this book didn’t have the intensity of her 1st, A Trace of Smoke, it was still exciting.

The Devil by Ken Bruen
I wonder what's going on in Ken Bruen's life. This book had very few words per page--an extremely quick read. Plus he seems to be trying his hand at the supernatural craze popular today. In this novel, Jack Taylor meets up with the Devil himself. I hope he goes back to mere mortal foes and doesn't bring in the vampires in the next book.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
I listened to this and don't recommend the audio--I didn't like the reader. But the story is good although it is definitely a tragedy. A man is found dead; his wife is missing and the town bad boy is blamed. He goes to prison for 23 years insisting he is innocent. When he is released the truth finally comes out. This is a story of a family, of a small town and of the consequences of keeping dark secrets.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Recommendations from Julie

Havana Lunar by Robert Arellano
The cover of this book describes it as "a Cuban noir novel." That is a fitting description. It is a crime novel but even more interesting is the picture of Cuba following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The writing is stylistic and beautiful. This was a quick and enjoyable read.

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith
The No. 1 Ladies Detective series never ceases to be enjoyable--especially on audiobook! Lisette Lecat is a wonderful reader! This book failed to have any kind of mystery to solve; it was just the daily goings on of Mme Ramotswe, Mme Makutsi and Mr. J.L.B. Matakoni. Nevertheless, the characters are so endearing and they've become such good friends that even without much plot it's still fun to read! Alexander McCall Smith's website.

A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn
Malla Nunn's first book is a true winner. Detective Emmanuel Cooper is sent to a small town to investigate the murder of a beloved Afrikaner police officer. He finds that not everything is as it seems; that the lines between the blacks, whites and the English are blurred to say the least, and the police and the Security branch don't seem to be working for the same side. This is a complex and intelligent mystery.

Modesty Blaise by Peter O’Donnell
This one is just for fun. Written in 1965, Modesty Blaise began as a comics character but several novels were written about her too. Modesty is drop dead gorgeous, smart, tough and able to survive any evil adventure that comes her way. Think female James Bond. This is a really fun read!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recommendations from Julie

Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
Isabel is on the loose investigating her new neighbor and getting arrested numerous times; Ray runs over her best friend; Dad and Mom are taking many disappearances . . . what's going on? The Spellmans are a fun family to keep up with. The audiobook is also very good.

The Serialist by David Gordon
This book started out very funny--something I would recommend to anyone, but it turned into a dark, grisly crime novel only for the less squeamish reader. David Gordon does have a way with words though. Every once in awhile I'd come to a paragraph I would have to reread several times it was so good. I loved the talk of writing, writers and readers.

Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn
I loved this book. Malla Nunn is a great writer. All of the pre-apartheid stuff is fascinating--I had forgotten what South Africa was like at that time. The detective, Emmanual Cooper, is an interesting and complicated character. The people you meet in the book are all very different; different social strata, cops vs. crooks, different racial or ethnic group. I'm going to go back and read her first book now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Recommendations from Suzanne

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
This is very British and very charming! Major Pettigrew seems like a stodgy relic of the British colonial empire when you are first introduced to him, but perhaps he’s not as bound to tradition as he seems. He even surprises himself.

Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa
by R.A. Scotti
I recommend this nonfiction book to everyone who likes to read. When the Mona Lisa, the Louvre Museum’s most famous painting, disappears, the Paris police run around in circles, looking very much like Inspector Clouseau. They bring in Picasso and the poet Apollinaire for questioning. This is a romp, plus I learned a lot about da Vinci’s art and about the period in the which the crime took place. When the painting eventually turns up, the identity of the person who took the painting is a total surprise. This is a book about art that manages to be informative and funny at the same time.

Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan
A man buys a shovel . . . and then the plot takes off and never loses its grip on you. This is one of the most original thrillers I’ve read. I literally did not know what was going to happen until the last page!

The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell
What does the brutal massacre of 19 mostly elderly inhabitants of a small hamlet in Sweden have to do with Chinese laborers who built the U.S. transcontinental railroads in the 1800’s? What do these two plots have to do with greedy Chinese capitalists, political corruption, the legacy of European colonialism in Africa and the withering away of youthful idealism? Mankell masterfully weaves all of these elements together into a web of intrigue that manages to be both credible and suspenseful. Mankell has created a fascinating and highly original mashup of a thriller combined with historical fiction. These two plots, the investigation of the murders and the historical story, are layered with Mankell’s probing examination of contemporary Swedish society and its values.
Hemming Mankell's website.

Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen
We read Bich’s memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner for one of our potlucks. Short Girls is her first novel, and it’s a winner. It’s the story of two sisters finding their way in life and dealing with their Vietnamese immigrant family. The book is touching, realistically told and positive in outcome.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Recommendations from Julie

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
This is one of the very best mystery series I've ever read! I'm so sorry that Larsson died so there are no more books to read. In this one, all of the creeps who have conspired to make Salander's life a living hell get their due. It is very satisfying.

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid
Carol Jordan and Tony Hill are one of the mystery world's most interesting couples. In this one, Tony has been wounded by mad psychiatric patient and spends most of the book on his back in hospital. Nevertheless, with his computer he is able to uncover some truths leading to motives and means for the two crimes under investigation. If you haven't read the Tony Hill mysteries before you might want to start with an earlier title but if you already know the series, this one is a good one.

Hit and Run by Lawrence Block
This is #4 in Block's Keller series but it's the first Keller that I've read. In this one, Keller, a professional hit man, is set up for a murder he didn't commit. He escapes, travels around the country and finally settles in New Orleans where he starts a new life, with a new name. Oddly enough, you find yourself rooting for the hit man.

Waylaid by Ed Lin
This is the story of a 12 year old Chinese immigrant boy who lives with his parents at the rather sleazy hotel his parents own on the Jersey shore. This kid does well in school in spite of working practically full-time at the hotel. His life consists of school, hotel, skin magazines and other sexual paraphernalia left by customers in their room. He doesn't have a particularly close relationship to his family, and except for the one girl at school he hopes to nail, his only friends are long term hotel customers. There isn't much of a plot except that he wants to have sex before the year is out but it is a fascinating look into the lives of the working immigrant family.

The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag (audiobook)
by Alan Bradley
Flavia is in the middle of everything again. When Rupert Porson, a puppeteer, is murdered, Flavia figures out who did it long before the police who haven't seemed to discover anything in their investigations. Thank goodness Flavia's around to solve these cases! The best thing about listening to these books is the reader: Jane Entwistle does a tremendous job making the listening experience a pure pleasure.

Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett
When a prostitute is found with a man who has been gutted and the tattoo on his back peeled off detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep must get to the bottom of the mystery. Solving a crime is very complex in Thailand where police, armies, everyone is corrupt. Though I didn't like this book as much as the first in the series, Bangkok 8, this did have a passage that I had to read aloud to friends it was just so funny!

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville
This is Neville's first novel and it is tremendous! It is original and compelling. The characters are well-drawn and the ideas of responsibility and retribution are looked at from a totally different point of view. I'm eager to see if Neville can top this one!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Recommendations from Julie

Blue Genes by Christopher Lukas
Blue = sad in this title. The author lost many members of his family to suicide. Bipolar disorder and depression ran rampant in his family. After losing his brother to suicide he wanted to both open the discussion and recognition of suicide and depression and to hopefully come to terms with the many losses he has suffered. A very sad book.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce is a precocious 11-yr. old who finds a dead body in the cucumber patch and proceeds to figure out who did it. I listened to this book and found it very entertaining.

Cut Short by Leigh Russell
D.I. Geraldine Steel has risen rapidly through the ranks and is transferred to a quiet village. Here she finds herself working for a tough-as-nails woman D.C.I. (think Jane Tennyson) on a serial killer case. This book is a good, solid police procedural.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Stork has written a wonderful story about a young man with asperger's syndrome trying to find his way in the real world. There are so many things to learn about and to try to understand like why people hurt each other, why they use each other, why they are dishonest. The difficulties Marcelo faces are difficult lessons for anyone, not just someone with asperger's so its very easy to relate to him and his trials and tribulations. I listened to this book and the reader really made it come alive. Highly recommended.

Shatter by Michael Robotham
Psychologist Joe O’Loughlin watches a woman jump to her death. It appears to be suicide but on further investigation it turns out to be murder. Joe is determined to find out what happened so works with the police and on his own to find the killer. This is an exciting British thriller.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Recommendations from Julie

Deception by Denise Mina
A forensic psychologist at a prison for the criminally insane is accused of murdering one of her patients and his wife. The story is told by her husband who is at home, searching for proof of her innocence. This is an absorbing read with a surprise ending.

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
I listened to this one and it was really fun! Although it's definitely easy-to-read, chick-lit it is very amusing. The characters are quirky in an interesting way and the plot is enough to keep you going.

Still Waters by Nigel McCrery
I love flawed detectives and DCI Mark Lapslie is definitely flawed--he has a neurological condition called Synaesthesia which causes him to "taste" sounds. His condition has caused him to lose his wife and child and has put him on leave from work. He's called back though to investigate a series of murders where the victims have had their fingers cut off. This is a fascinating and exciting mystery. Did you know that lies taste like nutmeg? Interesting, huh!

March Violets
(First of 3 mysteries found in Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr)
This novel takes place in 1936 Berlin. Bernard Gunther is a tough talking private detective hired to investigate an arson/murder/theft by a wealthy industrialist. Because of the times, all investigations somehow lead to interactions with the rising Nazi party. Kerr is a great noir writer so this was lots of fun.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
Siddhartha is a parable--an Indian (think India) parable. Not what you expect from a German writer. However, Hesse' parents were missionaries in India so he spent a lot of time there during his childhood. It is the story of a man's search for meaning in his life. I listened to this book. Having read it in high school I knew what I was in for but I still found it hard to become engrossed.

The Soul Collector by Paul Johnston
People are dying all over London: mystery writers, gang members and SAS men. Are the murders related? Were that all committed by the sister of the White Devil? There is a lot of action in this book but the characters were all caricatures, the heroes were revoltingly macho. I’m sorry I read the whole way through because it was a really stupid book.

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Jason Blake is an 11-year old boy who is autistic. Every day is a struggle for him—trying to fit in to the world of “neurotypicals.” Communication is particularly hard for him except online where he writes and posts stories he has written. Author Baskin’s depiction of Jason and his struggles is presented so well that the reader feels what Jason feels. Jason is presented sensitively but not sentimentally. By the time you finish this book you will feel a much greater understanding of the difficulties faced by autistic children. I listened to this audio-book and the reader was particularly good. I highly recommend this title. (Found in the Juvenile Fiction Section.)

No Sleep Till Wonderland by Paul Tremblay
Mark Genevich, the narcoleptic detective is back for a second mystery. Genevich goes through life in a dream state, never quite sure what’s real and what’s not, nor who’s a friend and who’s an enemy. In this book he is hired for two separate cases which turn out to be connected. Genevich is a sympathetic and interesting character and the messes he finds himself in are always entertaining.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Recommendations from Julie

Yellow Medicine by Anthony Neil Smith
Billy Lafitte is fired from the New Orleans police force for involvement in some shady dealings after Katrina. He is still conducting shady deals but in the icy winter of rural Minnesota where he is a deputy sheriff. When a beautiful young woman asks him to find her boyfriend, Billy finds himself facing not just small-time criminals but terrorists. This is a fast-paced, exciting noir thriller.

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven
by Susan Jane Gilman
Two naive young women, fresh out of college, decide to backpack around the world. They start out in Hong Kong, moving on to China. This is in 1986 when China was rarely traveled by westerners. They soon find themselves in over their heads and as they travel, everything becomes more complicated, confusing and scary. This was a fascinating read--I couldn't put it down!

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
This is a very unusual fantasy, mystery novel. It takes place in an unknown world where it's always raining and people are frequently asleep. The mysteries are things like "the man who stole November 12." It was a fantasy award winner and has been nominated for a Hammett award but, although it is engrossing, you will most appreciate it if you like fantasy dreamworlds.

The Salon by Nick Bertozzi
This graphic novel deals with Gertrude and Leo Stein and the many artists who inhabited their salon. Someone is killing--decapitating--artists in Paris. The Steins and friends believe it is the evil mistress of Gauguin. They have learned of a particular brand of blue absinthe that allows you to go inside a painting. This evil mistress has trapped Gauguin in a painting and the artists need to rescue him so he can stop the murders. I wanted an afterword with some explanation of the artists’ salon, what was based on reality, what was made up. Without this, it seemed rather pointless to me.

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
This true-life novel about author Jeannette Walls' grandmother is a fun and lively read. Lily Casey is a tough, no-nonsense woman who lived during the first half of the 20th century. Breaking horses as a young girl well-prepared her for life: learning how to fall and how to get back up on the horse and ride again. I listened to this book, read by the author, and was completely entranced.

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell
Berlin. 1931. The Nazi party is in its early stages. A woman reporter finds her transvestite brothers’ picture on the wall in the Hall of the Unnamed Dead. She investigates. Tremendously atmospheric setting, well-drawn characters, and lots of lurking in the shadows make this a compelling read. I couldn’t put it down!

The Book Shopper by Murray Browne
Author Murray Browne is a librarian, book lover and book shopper. Although I think it is somewhat arrogant of him to think that he's the expert on what every good used bookstore should have, nevertheless, it is fun to read and see if you agree.

Suffer the Little Children by Donna Leon
Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti mysteries never disappoint. In this novel, the carabinieri break into a pediatrician's home and take his baby. Brunetto must solve the mystery of why the baby was taken and why taken by the carabinieri.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Patron Recommendations

Here are three wonderful reviews by J. Strauss, a prolific reader and member of our book discussion group here at the library. Check them out!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
This novel takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in the early years of the Civil Rights movement. The story is told by a 24-year old white woman named Skeeter and two black maids named Minnie and Aibileen. These women build a secret relationship in order to write a book that could endanger the lives of the maids and cause permanent damage to Skeeter’s reputation, social standing and future.

The characters are so richly developed that when I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about them constantly. I was lost in their world and their voices were permeating my thoughts. I read this book over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, a coincidence that turned out to be a gift. The holiday meant so much more to me as his work was mentioned frequently in the book and so very instrumental in changing the segregation and injustices endured by so many, during my lifetime.

Read this book! It’s so good and you will love it!

Half Broke Horses
by Jeannette Walls
Half Broke Horses is true-life fiction, written about the life of the author’s maternal grandmother, Lily Case Smith. Lily was born and raised in the early 20th century American Southwest. Her family was in ranching and, aside from a couple brief attempts at city living, Lily spent her days in the wide, open spaces of West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. She was a strong, gutsy and independent woman who did what was necessary to raise her family through the Depression years. Lily worked as a teacher and a rancher and was married to a good man and fellow rancher named Jim. Lily was extremely hard-working, tough and lived a colorful life.

Jeannette Walls is the author of The Glass Castle, a memoir about her unorthodox upbringing amidst her mother and father’s unconventional, neglectful and at times, unfit parenting styles. It is one of my all-time favorite books and I was very excited when Half Broke Horses came out so I could see what kind of environment Jeannette’s mother was raised in. The book gave me so much more insight into Jeannette’s mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, and why she was able to live and raise her family as she did. It also helps explain how Jeannette and two of her siblings were able to survive their upbringing, not only intact, but as successful and productive adults. They came from some strong stock!

I really liked this book and highly recommend it to anyone who has read The Glass Castle or is interested in the history of the Southwest.

Deaf Sentence by David Lodge
Deaf Sentence is a novel written about a British linguistics professor, Desmond Bates, who is in his mid-sixties and is going deaf. His hearing condition has forced him into early retirement. As a house husband, Desmond is feeling very isolated, both at home and in social settings. Additionally, he dealing with his aged father to whom he pays weekly visits and is watching slip away, both mentally and physically.

The book has a slow start as it details the mundane and depressing daily life of a man living with the challenges of severe hearing loss and aging in general. Things really start to really pick up when a young, meddlesome, female graduate student attempts to seduce Desmond into being her advisor. Throughout the story, there are some laugh-out-loud scenes, often involving Desmond’s blended family and his attempts at social interaction with his hearing impairment. A very personal encounter at the end of the story puts Desmond’s life in perspective, allowing him to appreciate what he has and really start living again.

I genuinely liked this book.

I am more informed and empathetic to the limitations, frustrations and feelings of isolation caused by hearing loss because of Desmond’s character. I would definitely recommend this book – especially to readers who have or know someone who has hearing loss.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Patron Reviews - NonFiction

This Republic of Suffering by DG Faust

Non-fiction on the modes of death in the Civil War of the US from all sources: weapons, disease, and exposure.

While twice as many died from disease than injury, almost any modest injury could lead to gangrene infection & quick death due to the lack of antibiotic medicines.

She ran out of things to say in about the third chapter. This might have made a good short story or essay.

reviewed by J. Williams

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

I've been interested in reading about the plight of the Middle Eastern women, especially the women of Afghanistan. Thanks to Suzanne Fisher, I got about 9 books to read. As you can imagine, many of the books were historical and many full of horrible atrocities. However, "Kabul Beauty School" was uplifting and even funny at times.

The author, Deborah Rodriguez of Holland, Michigan, told of her endeavor to start a beauty school in Kabul, which was anything but easy. She not only put herself in danger at times, she also made many cultural mistakes. Her determination and tenacity are truly admirable.

I think this is a must read for anyone interested in hearing about a truly selfless woman.

reviewed by D. Luci

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recommendation from Julie

Voluntary Madness: Lost and Found in the Mental Healthcare System by Norah Vincent
Vincent, who calls herself an immersive journalist, wanted to find out where one could get the best mental health care. With a history of depression herself and one hospitalization behind her, this endeavor was both personal and professional. She checked herself into three hospitals. The first was a large urban hospital, the second a semi-rural, small-town one, and the third was an experimental therapy, group-living system. She discusses the treatments, the meds, the patients, and the staff with great insight and clarity. A fascinating look at mental health care.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford
This is a bittersweet story of young love between a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl during the time of the Japanese internment. Though I found it incredulous that a love at age 12 could be so overpowering the author did make it believable. I enjoyed it.

Blood Safari by Deon Meyer
When Emma Le Roux goes looking for her long lost brother, danger follows her. When she lands in a coma her bodyguard sets out to find out what's going on and who's trying to kill her. This all takes place in South Africa involving the conservation movement.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Recommendations from Julie

The Adversary by Michael Walters
Minister of security Nergui is investigating the police department looking for corrupt cops and Doripalam, the chief of police is investigating the death of a woman. Both mysteries lead to Muunokhoi, a seemingly corrupt businessman. The story takes place in Mongolia and involves nomadic people living in gers plus a brief discussion of how the fall of the USSR made some criminals very wealthy. An interesting part of the world.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
This series, which began with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, continues to get better and more exciting. I love the character Lisbeth--she's about the most complicated character I've come across in a long time. Larsson is a great writer and I am mourning the fact that he died after this series. But I still can't wait to read the next, and final, book in the series. This is truly an outstanding series.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Reading Club Recommendations

by Mischa Berlinski

The story is set in northern Thailand in a mythical tribe who are beset by Christian missionaries. Berlinski flips our expectations by making the Christians into the demons and the agrarian, rural natives into relatively sane folk. An outstanding first novel, good craftsman.

~Jim W.

Altar of Eden
by James Rollins.

A genetic engineering thriller. Animals from the Baghdad zoo are taken in 2003 and turn up 5 years later in New Orleans --- with weird feathers on jaguars and leather-skinned parrots. A veterinarian and endangered species activist start noticing these weirdnesses...

The bad guys are well fleshed-out, and there's enough genetics and science to occupy 20-30% of the frontal cortex so, for example, you could still watch reality TV and not miss either... I recommend it.

~Jim W.

The Leisure Seeker
by Michael Zadoorian

How does a young man understand and write so convincingly of the spirit, soul and mind of a senior citizen!? Mr. Zadoorian should win a prize for this happy/emotional/scary novel. I thoroughly enjoyed "The Leisure Seeker" by Michael Zadoorian, and was in awe of the humor, insight, and sadness he was able to convey in the wonderful book.

The minute I finished the last page I wanted to go knock on the doors of my friends that read (not everyone does!) and insist they sit right down and engross themselves in the lives of these two elderly people. The book involves a cross country trip, taken by this dear couple, who for all we know, may be on their last big adventure. Take it home with you today!

~Lois G.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Recommendation from Julie

The White Tiger
by Aravind Adiga
I listened to this book. The reader read with a Hindi accent so it felt right as a story of India. It presented a picture of India from the poor person's point of view. It felt very third world. It was entertaining, enlightening, and thought-provoking. Winner of the Man Booker prize, 2008.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Reading Club Recommendations

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

A novel made up of letters. The characters are developed brilliantly: you know them, care for them, love them. The story takes place the year after the end of WW2 and the German occupation of this channel island. It is a love story: peoples love for one another and their book club. YES! I would recommend it, one of the best books I've read in a long time.

~Nancy M.

The Coil
by Gayle Lynds

I was trapped a couple of weeks ago at a friend's house for the weekend and picked up THE COIL, by Gayle Lynds... It was drech!

She didn't trust herself to advance plot or flesh out characters, unless somebody got killed.. As a result death and mayhem every other page...

Love the affectation with the twoYs in names...not!

~Jim W.

Thank you for your reviews. Keep them coming - every review is an entry for the weekly prize drawings. ~Michele

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter Reading Club recommendations

Goat Song by Brad Kessler

Mr. Kessler and his wife sought to escape the city, ending up in Vermont raising goats. Not only does he describe their daily life milking and herding, but he references pastoral images and language still used, e.g. scapegoat. I found other topics enlightening, e.g. Gandhi's goat which saved his health, bells of different tones on each goat which then identify who has wandered just by sound, a discussion of pasteurization which is not used in Europe or on the Kessler farm, and the step by step process for making goat milk cheese. The book also compares his spiritual life with that of the monks up the hill.

Review submitted by Kathy S.

~ Thanks for the great review Kathy! Your name has been entered for the weekly prize drawings. Michele