This week we have some questionable neighbors, poverty, taxidermy, terminal illness, super hero talents, and of course there is some Paris.   But it ain't pretty.

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann is working her way through The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg.  “This is a fast page turner concerning the murder of a little girl and the inhabitants of the small Swedish town where her drowned body is discovered.  The novel is set in the present day but does go back to the 1900's which will impact the present day residents.  This novel has many twists and turns which kept me interested and intrigued.  All I can ask is, do we really know our neighbors?”

Citizen Asha is revisiting some of her favorites and she reports “I started rereading books that I think should be considered 'Classics', right now I’m finishing up Darkest Child by Delores Phillips. It’s absolutely wonderful, brilliant and fantastic. The story revolves around Tangy Mae and her epically dysfunctional family, who live in the rural south in the late 1950s. All Tangy wants to do is go to school however, there are things hindering her; the color of her skin, her mother, having to take care of her siblings. The novel is filled with angst, poverty, abuse. It’s not a light read but it is absolutely amazing.”  

Pat S. is reading  Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.  She says that “This is for all David Sedaris followers: There is a new girl in town and she is taking no prisoners! This book is flat-out hysterical-page after page. It is a loosely woven series of vignettes about growing up poor in a small Texas town with taxidermy playing a lead role. Lawson relates truly cringe-worthy events with irresistible quirky humor. A perfect summer read.”

Pat T. weighs in on a timely topic. ” If you read The Last Lecture by Randi Pausch you will most likely want to read his wife's new book Dream New Dreams : Reimagining My Life After Loss  by Jai Pausch.  She writes about her loss after her husband's illness and subsequent death, as well as her perspective as the caregiver and she gives voice to the challenges of anyone who has served in this role. Hopefully her advocacy will foster the medical community to initiate programs to support the caregiver of terminally ill patients.”

Birthday Girl Abby is not terribly happy this week. Let us hope she has some good presents and lots of cake.  “I haven't read a British crime novel in a while and based on strong reviews picked up Gone by Mo Hayder.  In doing so, I broke one of my cardinal rules and read a book from a mystery series out of sequence. Serves me right!  While Gone got off to a intriguing start, Hayder has done something I have found in a few recent mysteries and  that is to provide the lead character/detective with skills boarding on superhero/supernatural level talent.  When I read a mystery, I like to believe the reader has at least a sliver of a chance of not necessarily solving the case, but at least making sense of the puzzle.  In Gone, the lead detective makes connections so obscure and so unlikely it takes you out of the moment and makes you think 'really?' Similarly,  I'm a big fan of Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo, but in his latest The Phantom, he has given detective Harry Hole deductive and physical powers so great he has started to feel like a strange comic book character.  I'll keep reading Nesbo, but hope he returns to a hero who presents as a bit more human.”

I am reading Pure by Andrew Miller.  In 1785 Jean-Baptiste Baratte  arrives in Paris with the order from the King to clean out the overflowing cemetery of Les Innocents. This is a  site so vile and unhygienic it is literally poisoning the air, water and food of all who live near it. This winner of the 2011 Costa Award for fiction is such an atmospheric read you feel you should be reading it with a kerchief tied around your nose and mouth.  Who knew that there really was such a thing as  “death breath?”



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