This week we have a teen spy, eminent defeat, prison, a whirlwind, some Carolina, lie changers, some unraveling, two halves making a whole, heartfelt confessions and a Red Rooster.

Let us begin!

Gretchen reports that she is reading Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and LOVING it.  “This story is told through a teen spy’s confession during a Nazi interrogation. Although it is a dark war story it is getting lots of buzz in Young Adult book circles.”

From Marianne we get City of Women by David Gillham.  “The place is Berlin and the year is 1943.  Signs of Germany's eminent defeat are beginning to appear, but the Reich is still in control, propaganda is rampant and the citizens, most of whom are women, live in fear of the government and the nightly bombing raids from the Allies.  This story follows the everyday lives of German women whose husbands are away at war.  We learn about their strengths and weaknesses and how they handled subjects like infidelity, infertility, injustice, and how they fought back. This is a great look from an insider's point of view and  I found it to be a compelling read.”

Stephanie is crying out for someone to please join her. “This week I took a chance on a book because it had a bright yellow cover: Mountains of the Moon by I. J. Kay. I am pretty sure that I liked it and I definitely loved a lot of the prose, but I would like to talk it out with somebody before deciding. In part this is because the narrator spends much of the book out of contact with reality, so it’s hard to think about it rationally. It’s the story of a young British girl who retreats into imagination to avoid the horrid realities that she faces at home, going back and forth between her as a child and the present day, where she is an adult who has just been released from prison, full of hallucinatory and indistinct memories and experiences. I keep wanting to say it reminds me of Room, but it’s possible that all UK child narrators sound the same to me, so that is perhaps an unfair comparison. I’d recommend it for a book group, both because it obviously leads a reader to want to have a chat, and also because I’m not entirely sure I know what happened in it, which is always a good place to start with discussion.”

Miss Kiera is doing some heavy lifting! “This week I’m reading The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. It is a fascinating whirlwind in which Gleick looks at how information and communication have evolved from the dawn of history up to right now. From African drumming to the development of Morse Code to the very first attempts at the creation of an English dictionary and onwards through the digital revolution, this is a hugely ambitious and highly entertaining book. If you enjoy pop-science/sociology/psychology books in the tradition of Freakonomics and Blink, you won’t mind that The Information is a good 500+ pages. I recommend borrowing it as an ebook!

KLS’s own Elizabeth has you covered on two fronts: “For anyone with Carolina on their mind (North Carolina, of course), I highly recommend Wiley Cash's new novel A Land More Kind than Home. Published in September 2012 and inspired by Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again. We have it in print and e book.

Hmm.  Isn’t this week 3 of no France, no Nazis for Barbara M?  Just seems wrong somehow.  “I’m reading A Possible Life: A Novel in Five Parts by Sebastian Faulks, a loosely woven novel about life changing choices, those taken and those not taken. The five stories take place in different places and in different times but the theme is the same : there is a time when a choice has to be made that will impact the future. As usual Faulks’ writing is beautiful and full of vivid imagery. “

The Delightful Ann is working on Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. “I enjoy Mr. McEwan’s writing because he always gives the reader something to ponder. His novels include stories of deception, newlyweds who struggle to find their rhythm (literally and figuratively), and what happens to a family on a normal Saturday that becomes far from normal. Sweet Tooth is the story of Serena Frome who upon graduation from Oxford goes to work for the M15, Britain's equivalent to our CIA.  Her journey there is interesting and involves one of her loves in this novel. She is assigned the case "Sweet Tooth" and becomes entrenched in the world of literature which she has always enjoyed.  She becomes involved with an author who will be her unraveling.  I found this book to be an acceptable read, not his best work in my opinion but still intriguing.”

Pat T. is ringing in the the New Year rather philosophically. “I have just started reading Falling Upward : A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr. The author has an interesting take on life as being divided into two segments- the first half is when you are discovering your identity (building the container) and the second half is when you are searching for meaning in your life (filling the container). The challenges, struggles and failures we face in the second half of life can be the impetus to find our way up again into a richer more fulfilling existence, thus the paradox title It is quite philosophical and something to ponder as we begin a new year! “

Jeanne is loving herself some memoirs! “I read Elsewhere by Richard Russo and I loved it! I loved the pace and the heartfelt confessions of the young boy trying to live with and care for a mother who was unstable and continuing as a man to the end of her life. It was beautiful to read Russo's remembrances of his small, mill town upbringing and connect it to his brilliant literature of the same, like Empire Falls. This is also a wonderful DVD with Paul Newman and Ed Harris. I am now reading Yes, Chef: A Memoir. It's about the life of Marcus Samuelsson. After his mother died in Ethiopia, he and his sister (both very young) were adopted by a loving family in Sweden. His story, also well-paced, is of his early love of food: the smells, tastes, textures and his culinary education beginning in his grandmother's kitchen. There is a great story between there and opening his acclaimed restaurant in Harlem, The Red Rooster. You don't have to be a foodie to enjoy the show, but there are lots of mouth-watering performances!”

 

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