This week we have a tasty morsel, some fear, some bad weirdness, hope in the heart, some hockey, a crash landing, a dead rabbit and the legend of Zelda.
Let us begin!
Abby is, well, for lack of a better word, excited. “A new book on Scientology? BRING IT. I am now about 1/3 of the way into Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief and enjoying every morsel. The author Lawrence Wright has produced some new information that digs deep into L. Ron Hubbard's past and the roots of Scientology. Perhaps the only thing more fun that reading this book will be the responses and lawsuits cooked up by Scientology. I can't wait to get to the Tom Cruise stuff. But like all books on this subject no matter how well researched and written, I suspect I'll be left wondering how the group has managed to assemble such passionate followers based upon (in my opinion) the delusions and pronouncements of a mediocre sci-fi writer. The Church of Abbytology, anyone?”
Pat T. is branching out!” New Year, new genre!! I just finished reading my first graphic novel, Stitches, by David Small and I surprised myself by liking this memoir a lot! This is the author's story of growing up with a troubled mother and father, who as a doctor, treated David with radiation as an infant that eventually caused cancer as a teenager. This graphic novel has more pictures than words, but these pictures accurately convey the character's emotions of fear, anger and resilience. “
Double Secret Agent Erin has a new gig writing reviews for Library Journal so she will no longer be shooting us book reviews as her time is being taken up with Serious Reading. HOWEVER do not despair! She will be supplying us with what she has been viewing. In this week’s offering, Erin takes a bullet for us. Thanks Erin! “This week I watched Your Sister’s Sister, and I am horrified to see that it received an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes because it was such a far-fetched, insanely bad movie. There is Emily Blunt, who is secretly in love with her dead ex-boyfriend’s brother. There is Iris, a lesbian who sleeps with the guy her sister is in love with, unbeknownst to her. There is a possible pregnancy. There are tears. It was all very bad and weird. What I thought was going to be a low budget sleeper indie set in a beautiful location was just a script that could have been written by Dawson’s Creek’s own Dawson Leery.”
Ann seems happier this week. This is a good thing. She has just finished The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam. “This novel follows the life of Percival Chen, a Chinese immigrant, living in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He is running a popular English academy and has learned to work the system to get the things he needs. That is until his son makes the mistake of angering the South Vietnamese government and is arrested. Percival will do anything to get his son back. This book has many twists and turns and people will not be what they seem. It will make you cheer and cry and create hope in your heart. It's a tough story but it is quite well written.”
Stephanie is enraptured! “The first I heard of The Antagonist by Lynn Coady was the Briefly Noted section in last week’s New Yorker. It sounded like it was about a hockey player, and I will read pretty much any fiction that circles around athletes, so I gave it a shot. This is a pretty great book, though it’s only tangentially athletic. Think Andre Dubus III by way of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but in Canada. The same blends of macho/thoughtful, sardonic/compassionate, memory/false memory, but the geography was more confusing. I have no idea whether Coady has adequately captured the inner voice of a college male or adult male, as so many of the Canadian reviews of this book make a point of noting, but that seems beside the point to me. It’s vivid and funny and raw, and I loved immersing myself in it.”
Miss Elisabeth has found a new favorite. “I just finished Code Name Verity, the much-buzzed about YA historical fiction book. Librarians are abuzz at its Printz potential. This is the tale of two best friends in the British Service during WWII - Maddie is an excellent pilot in the ATA (the civilian airforce) and Queenie, aka Eva aka Julie, is a Special Operative. Told from one character's point of view for the first half and anotherfor the second half, the book begins after a crash landing. Only one of the friends has a chance of making it out alive. The story is gripping, and my mind was blown by some of the later twists and reveals. With an unreliable narrator, intense tales of heroism and courage, a detailed historical afterword by the author, and frank depictions of enhanced interrogations and the atrocities of war, this is the most adult YA book I've read in a long time. In fact, as the characters are all adults, I'm surprised it wasn't published as adult fiction. Nevertheless, I can wholeheartedly recommend it as the first book I have read in a few weeks that I couldn't put down.”
Where’s Jeanne? She’s in her car! “I am listening to Whiteout by Ken Follett. The thriller is set in Scotland and I am enjoying listening to Josephine Bailey's clear, lilting voice. The story begins with a lab technician stealing a canister from the top-secret research laboratory where scientists work at finding cures to deadly viruses. Now he's dead and so is the poor rabbit he stole, wanting to cure it. Who was this guy? Were there others involved? Will there be an international crisis? Follett writes greed, deception and unlikely liaisons in such a way that the reader is gripped before they know how creepy some of it is. I never knew I had a penchant for this type of sensationalism!”
I have just started a very promising work of historic fiction; Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. Zelda is one of my obsessions and has been ever since I read Zelda by Nancy Milford. So for me to really begin to love it just by reading the prologue is really quite something. Zelda was the wife and muse of F. Scott Fitzgerald and some say the face of the Jazz Age. It will be interesting to see how Fowler handles one of the most fascinating and legendary women of the 20th century.