This week we have a horse-headed sprite, some questionable ambitions, Romanovs, a little quirkiness, some Paris (it’s back! I was getting worried.), and gratitude of a kind.

Let us begin!

The Amazing Amanda is reading The Iron King by Julie Kagawa as an eBook this week. “As a young girl, Meghan’s father disappeared without a trace. Her mother remarried and now Meghan has grown up as a farm girl – a fate that leaves her an outcast aside from her overprotective friend, Robbie. Meghan’s life is turned upside down when her baby brother is kidnapped. Determined to save her brother, she follows Robbie through a closet into the land of the fey and nothing will ever be the same as Robbie is Puck. Yes, the Puck of legends and a Midsummer Night’s Dream Puck.   Meghan is sometimes a bit too self-indulgent, but the creepy terrors of being kidnapped by goblins, nearly eaten by a horse-headed sprite, and more add an underscore of terror to the book. Then there is the promise of romance but is the romantic lead Puck or the prince? “

It sounds like Ann is slogging through Winter of the World by Ken Follett. “This is the second book in the trilogy that Ken Follett began with Fall of Giants.  It continues to follow five interrelated families, American, German, Russian, English and Welsh beginning with the rise of fascism in Europe, the Spanish Civil War, the ambitions of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, and World War II.  It is an interesting story and as a reader you do connect again with these characters and their particular stories but it is a commitment to read.  I would recommend this book to people interested in the time period.  I will read the third in the trilogy when it publishes to see what happens to these families.  I do feel Mr. Follett's book, The Pillars of the Earth was a much better example of historical fiction and I highly recommend that book.”  You really do have to admire Ann’s perseverance. 

Barbara M. is reading The Mirrored World by Debra Dean. “Set against the background of St. Petersburg in the 18th century, Dean tells the story of St. Xenia through the eyes of her cousin Dasha. The author meticulously sets the mood of Russia under the Romanovs with its excesses and strict rules. The characters are well developed from the beginning; Dasha’s thirst for learning and Xenia’s different way of seeing things are evident from the start. It is written in a simple yet lyrical style and I am really enjoying reading this book.”

Abby has a crush on Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  ”I haven't fallen hard for a lot of books this year, but this one got me hooked early on and is certainly one of my 2012 favorites. When 15- year- old Bee continues her tradition of academic and humanitarian success, she is rewarded with whatever her heart desires and what her heart desires a trip to Antarctica.  Bee’s parents are Elgin Branch, a revered Microsoft coding guru and Bernadette Fox,  an independent, anti-social, not meant for suburbia, outsourcing housewife who cannot handle being around Canadians, (a big challenge as they live in Seattle, Gateway to The Great White North).  The days leading up to Antarctica set off a series of events that reveal the source of Bernadette’s daily angst, pharmaceutical attachments, and hidden bona fide genius.  I found the book both hilarious and touching in its own way. I appreciate a unique voice where the book reminds me of no other I have read before and that description fits this wonderful, quirky read.”

Jeanne is also feeling some bliss of the book kind.  “I am reading Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris. Once again, Harris continues the beautifully rich story she began in Chocolat and continued with The Girl with No Shadow. Who can resist a protagonist who makes chocolates in Paris? In this novel, Vianne receives a letter with a request from beyond the grave and must travel with her daughters, Anouk and Rosette to discover how changed the town of Lansquenet has become. Her former adversary, Father Reynaud needs her help in quelling the unrest and closing the divide between the Catholics of this village and the growing Muslim community. As with Harris' many other novels (full disclosure: I am a huge fan), I expect this one to be full of characters and events with layers of intrigue and confection!"

I have to admit I am in a rut.  Ever since I finished Richard Russo’s amazing new memoir Elsewhere, nothing has been suitable.  Right now I am working my way through Fever Season: The Terrifying Epidemic and the People Who Saved a City by Jeanette Keith.  It is a pretty brutal portrayal of 1878 Memphis caught in the grip of Yellow Fever which has to be the nastiest disease I have read about since I read The Hot Zone with its depiction of Ebola.  The reasoning here is that, sure, I am having a hard time falling in love with another book, but at least I am not turning the color of a pumpkin (yes, you really turn yellow) and experiencing black vomit.  A girl has to find gratitude wherever she can after all!

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