We have much to discuss this week. I am officially over this PA Rodent thing as a predictor of an early spring. This is no sane human’s idea of Spring. If the PA Rodent was in an actual paid position I would vote to fire him. Actually a prosecutor from the Ohio county of Butler has filed an indictment against him and is requesting the death penalty if found guilty. Honestly I think PA will end up being like Ireland and refuse to extradite him. Also, in a follow up from last week I just wanted to add this one thought. In Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century this fun fact came up. What job did Pauline have out of prison? Librarianship. Yup. I am just putting this out there. She also lives in the country with lots of cats and she decorates with dolls which are almost as creepy as clowns. Ok enough of my obsessions. This week we have stereotypes, piqued interest, dragons and fierce females, a wedding day curse, dead presidents bafflement, WWII, a banned book and more murder.
Let us begin!
The Amazing Amanda is looking for Kindred Spirits. “I just finished Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant and it is one of the most hysterical, smart, and well-thought comics out there. She combined a love of history plus comics to create her award-winning works. While the art is simple, Beaton pokes fun at historical figures, Canadian stereotypes, and most of all herself. Reading through the published volume was a joy. I may also be a bit biased since I suggested via Twitter to Beaton to include a comic on Anne of Green Gables. You’ll have to check out the book to see what story Beaton spun using Anne Shirley.”
John is reading and loving Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. “Just looking at the subject headings on this book may pique your interest: ‘clocks and watches’, ‘children of gangsters’, ‘fathers and sons’, ‘older women’, ‘end of the world’, ‘London’, and ‘spy stories’. This is one of those books that sucks you in and makes you think, ‘how did he come up with this?!’’
Miss Kiera of the CL is enjoying two things this week. “This week I'm splitting my time between two very different books: Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Storm of Swords is Book 3 in the Game of Thrones series. Season 3 of the popular HBO series is about to begin and I wanted to read it before watching. There are dragons, battling kings, walking dead, smoke monsters, scheming courtiers, and fierce female leads. Since it's about 1,000 pages long I opted to read it as an eBook from Overdrive. Speaking of fierce females, I'm also loving Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and has been named one of the top five Most Powerful Women in the World. She talks about why men are traditionally more ambitious and therefore more likely to rise to leadership positions in their chosen field. And what women can and should do about it. It's a controversial, fascinating book that already has tons of buzz; both positive and critical. I can't wait to finish it and discuss it with the women (and men) in my life. “
Yes. Sweet Ann still has a house crawling with workmen. She wants all to know that she would be happy to report that running water and electricity in some rooms are up and running. Sadly she cannot. So Ann weighs in with the following: The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates. “I am a third of the way in this very long book and I love it. The story takes place in 1904 in Princeton, New Jersey, as well as Princeton University, and tells the tale of a curse that will impact one of the main characters on her wedding day with repercussions for others. Not only do you get the story of the ‘curse’ but you also get a history of the town and university. This novel has characters from real life like Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland and Upton Sinclair to name a few. It is a wild story that is very well written with depth of character and setting.” We do not feel Ann is cursed. However, none of us really wants to stand too close. Especially near large trees. During Hurricanes.
Jeanne is cranky this week. I am not the only one who needs some warmth and sunshine. “I had heard that Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard was very good, but I didn't read it. Then when my book group also chose Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by the same, I thought I'd try it. I am not particularly a Kennedy groupie, but I like to learn the ‘real’ story of historical events. Mostly what I learned and did not need to know were about Kennedy's vices such as conducting meetings in a pool while naked or that he used the military phonetic alphabet to swear in front of Jackie. I don't like O'Reilly's politics and I do not like his sophomoric writing style in this book. If he continues with the assassinated president genre I will have to hear about it from someone else.” Well Jeanne, all we have left is Garfield and McKinley and I don’t think that even O’Reilly can scrape that shoe’s bottom.
Barbara M. Shantaram. Still.
Stephanie however is reading a book about WW II and Nazis. So I basically give up. “My mom, a fellow crime fiction addict, passed Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr along for my train ride. Between how fantastic this book was and my completed Denise Mina binge, I am getting quite spoiled. The life of the ordinary German during WWII was a horrifying and bland one as an example; it is that inherent tension makes Every Man Dies Alone an incredible book. To pair that perspective with the cranky Sherlockian character Bernie Gunther makes for an amazing book. One of the minor themes of the book is that the actions of the Nazis were so abominable that they could not be believed even by those who saw them, and I think contemporarily, that has translated to them being unable to be comprehended in full. It is so horrific that the brain seems to water it down. To meet Heydrich in a history book is to be horrified by a cold-eyed portrait and a list of statistics. But to meet him in a crime fiction novel is to be horrified by a flesh-and-chuckles human, and that is true horror. I finished this book and sat in silence for quite some time, upset by the Holocaust in a way that I haven’t been since probably the first time I learned about it as a kid. To sneak that punch in under a crime novel’s cover is quite something.”
Patty McC. Programming Priestess, joins us this week for the first time. She has asked me to be kind. How can I be anything but? Patty had a fight this week with some black ice and the black ice won. So I know she is on Team End This Endless Winter. “This week I could not resist the graphic novel, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Not only is it a memoir about her childhood growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution but it is also a beautifully illustrated graphic novel. Over the past week there has been much discussion around age appropriateness for this graphic novel in the news and the use of the word banned in the public schools in Chicago makes this a must read for me. Marjane describes her family as very modern and avant-garde. She simply states she was born with religion and then goes on to tell us when she was young she wanted to be a prophet; one that would be justice, love and the wrath of God all in one. Told through the eyes and voice of a ten year old girl growing up in a time of great turmoil in Iran makes this graphic novel and memoir both deeply personal and political. It’s a frank, boldly illustrated work that is highly engaging. I can’t wait to finish it, share it with my own daughter and dig into a great civics discussion.” Feel better soon Patty!
I have left New Zealand behind and moved on to Italy. However it would appear I have not left behind grisly crimes and lots and lots of bloodshed. In Chris Bohjalian’s latest The Light in the Ruins there is a serial killer afoot in 1955 Florence and they are targeting one specific family. The Rosatis were a privileged Tuscan family previous to World War II living a life of serenity in their villa. Now they have fallen on hard times but do the remaining family members really deserve to be hunted down, murdered and have their hearts cut out? As always with Bohjalian you know that you are going to have an amazing story unfold. This one comes out in July.