This week we have Law & Order, competition, a dark secret, a test which you hope you don’t pass, the English countryside, St. Petersburg, France , South Africa (we are all over the map this week! ) and a play date!
Let us begin!
Erin is excited! “This week I’m reading Night Watch by Linda Fairstein. How great is it to read a thriller about a tough Manhattan prosecutor who flees bad guys on motorcycles while wearing heels? Fairstein is the former head of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office so she knows what she’s talking about. Turn off those Law & Order re-runs and read this instead. AND! She’ll be here July 23rd at 7!”
Caroline is currently racing through Gold by Chris Cleave. "For those of you who liked Little Bee and Incendiary, you’ll find the same great writing with a very different story – about two female Olympic cyclists. These women, now in their 30’s, met when they were teenagers and have been training and competing ever since. They are always #1 or #2, and so are balancing friendship, family and incredible close competition. Perfectly timed to get you excited for the summer Olympics, and you won’t be able to put this one down."
Miss Keira is reading Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennpacker . "Stella and Angel, two young girls staying with Stella’s Great-Aunt Louise in Cape Cod for the summer, have a dark secret buried deep in the garden. The girls are like oil and water- they just can’t seem to see eye-to-eye and they spend most of their days avoiding one another. But as the pressure builds, the tiny lies get larger, and the two girls find themselves being drawn closer together in order to keep their shared secret. This is a surprising story, with a dark humor rarely seen in children’s literature. It’s also oddly charming. You’ll root for these characters and want to take them home with you. This is a great summer read for ages 9 and up."
Miss Sam has just finished The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson. " It is a fabulous non-fiction read, a perfect length and so interesting that it is seriously difficult to put down. Mr. Robson is a journalist exploring the world of the psychopath. Because the psychopath is such a tricky, deceiving and extremely dangerous person, Mr. Ronson questions how psychiatrist can make an accurate diagnose of a true psychopath before a grisly crime is committed. He visits prisons and hospitals for the mentally ill. He interviews a death-squad leader who was imprisoned for mortgage fraud, not murder! Go figure. Who are these people? After Mr. Ronson discovers a relatively new check list psychiatrist use for diagnosis, he finds himself diagnosing all types of people and personalities. Relatively ordinary people are defined by their most insane attributes. Is this also madness?"
Jeannie is, of course, working on two titles at once."I finally finished Mark Haddon's, The Red House. Haddon, a master at dysfunctional relationships in families is clever and all too caustic in his portrayal of people trying to cohabitate for a week in the English countryside and manages to bring out the unexpected in each other. A middle-aged brother and sister have recently lost their last parent. Richard is a successful, though troubled doctor (remarried to a beautiful wife, unpredictable teenage stepdaughter); Angela is the dowdy sister with her family (unfaithful husband, two teenagers, one struggling with identity, and a younger son). The story is a bit choppy and there are places where you think you have skipped a page but, in the end it is entertaining and has some interesting, if unsettling twists. I also read The Mirrored World by Debra Dean. Remember Madonnas of Leningrad? Well Dean once again engages us with her evocative language as she follows the lives of two young women - Dasha who is practical and staunchly loyal; Xenia who is dreamy and slightly mad. The two are of lower nobility in eighteenth century St. Petersburg. Dean draws you into the strange, sometimes cruel demands and social conventions of the royal court of the Empress Catherine. Arranged marriages, superstitions and masquerades are all painted with romantic prose, set against the bleak Russian climate. There is not a lot of solid action with Dean, but she gives the reader much to think about as she often fleshes out the spirituality of her characters intentions and actions."
Ann is not exactly enthused with The Queen's Lover: A Novel by Francine du Plessix Gray. " This is the fictional account of the long lasting affair between Marie Antoinette and Swedish Count, Axel Von Fersen. It was an interesting story with intrigue, romance and disaster. The author used material and actually quoted from the journals of the Count which were quite informative and heartfelt about the French court, his love of Marie and the events of the French Revolution. Ms. du Plessix Gray also told the Count's Story through his sister's point of view. The author mixed actual material with fictionalized accounts and because of this the writing at times did not flow smoothly. This was an okay read if you want to learn a little bit more of the romance between these two historical figures."
Abby is playing cheerleader this week! “Sometimes you find an author you really pull for, and that is how I feel about Malla Nunn. I'm currently enjoying her third novel in the Emmanuel Cooper series, Blessed Are The Dead. I believe in reading mystery series' in sequence and that rule applies here. In A Beautiful Place To Die (2009), we met Detective Emmanuel Cooper of the Johannesburg, South Africa police department in the early 1950's, just as that country is implementing its heinous apartheid laws. In Blessed Are The Dead, Emmanuel, once again joined by Samuel Shabalala of the Native Branch Police Force, must solve the murder of a tribal chief's daughter. Nunn creates a fascinating and frustrating picture into South Africa's society and racial laws. Watching Emmanuel and Samuel navigate the system of apartheid, along with their own demons and the culture of Africa, makes for a thought provoking mystery.”
I am working on The Playdate by Louise Millar. Callie and Suzy are friends by necessity not necessarily choice. The only things they have in common are children of the same age and that they live on the same London street. New neighbor Debs seems more than a bit off. She hates loud noises and seems to be more than a little paranoid. Oh! And guess where she is employed? At the children’s school of course as an art teacher. You just know that when these worlds collide no good is going to come of it.