Hosted by Jen Dayton
This week we have nothing but joyful proclamations. Ann has left Appalachia in the dust and reports that she is now the proud owner of a home with running water and electricity. I think we can safely declare the arrival of spring. Also, don’t forget that our current favorite book Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century aka Chicks with Bricks will be released this week! Keep watching this space for a cool new service we will be offering you. I know you all are going to love it. See? Nothing but good this week! This week we have a shock, a skilled fighter, A Library Legend Speaks! smart yet light,3 Danish, some gypsies, sweetness, a crisis, a Charlotte sighting, and some Chicago!
Let us begin!
John is moving on to the next book on the stack. I finished Old School and really enjoyed it. It would be a great way for anyone to be introduced to great (and not so great) writing. If you've ever wanted to meet Robert Frost, or see what Ayn Rand is like in person (apparently she had nice legs), then this is your ticket. As for my next book, I just started Jojo Moyes' Me before You. An abrupt and shocking first chapter has left me wondering where it goes next.
The Amazing Amanda continues her love affair with fantasy fiction. “I have a weak spot for strong female characters. This week was no exception when I listened to Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Katsa is a lady killer in the service of her uncle the king. He gives her orders of who to maim or kill and she does his bidding. However, she feels disgusted by the self-serving greedy kings who harm ordinary people. So she starts a Council that carries out separate missions to help people. While doing Council work, she runs into a highly skilled fighter. He recognizes her and to her own astonishment, she decides to let him live. This one moment of hesitation on Katsa’s part completely changes her life. As the story continues, Katsa grows from a cold, no-nonsense character into to a compassionate woman. She defies two treacherous kings and uncovers a 35 year old deception that has harmed thousands. The man she spared becomes her true companion. The full-cast audio production was a bit jarring as each spoken part was read by a different voice actor. When I read a book, I usually ‘hear’ the voices inside my head which are really just variations of my own thought ‘voice’ if that makes any sense! So to listen to a book with multiple voices was a strange experience. After a while, I settled into the story which I loved. This is possibly the best book I’ve read in a while – even beating out Seraphina for recent female-driven fantasy novels. The world building is realistic, detailed, and the struggles of Katsa and the people she encounters feel real. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants action, adventure, and a dash of romance.”
Library Legend Blanche joins us for the first time this week! Welcome Blanche! She is reading The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh. “This novel is set in South Africa in the 18th century and it deals with the inhuman conditions of diamond mining, the exploitation of a land and its people. There is also an emotional love story that will capture you from the moment the character leaves her home in England to live in Africa.”
Stephanie asks a question for the Ages! “Everybody wants a smart, light book for summer (or, as people usually ask at the desk: “Do you have anything that’s easy to read but won’t make me feel like I’m losing brain cells?”), and I have already found one for 2013: The Smart One by Jennifer Close. I loved her first book, Girls in White Dresses, and I think this one is even better. So funny and compassionate, and a brilliant look at that new strange not-a-teen-not-quite-a-grownup experience so many people are having (from both the perspective of the twenty-somethings and that of the mom whose kids are all moving back home). Close has a great eye for subtle details, especially in dialogue. My only complaint is that I can’t figure out what the heck is going on with that lady’s dress on the cover?” I think I can answer that one. It looks like a Von Furstenberg wrap dress to me. Any other thoughts on this one?
Abby is back but what she is reading is really not a surprise if you know her. “I splurged on Danish during my vacation. Yes, I read all 3 of Sara Blaedel's Danish crime novels. Dubbed the Queen of Danish mysteries, her lead character Detective Louise Rick works major crimes in Copenhagen. Her cases all happen to intersect with her best pal Camilla Lind, the city's top crime reporter. The three books in order are: Call me Princess, Only One Life, and Farewell to Freedom. I enjoyed the books which definitely had the Scandinavian touch I enjoy. It will be interesting to see how the Rick character develops, and if the constant intersecting of Rick's detective work and Camilla's intrepid reporting continues to be an effective narrative.”
Barbara M. is not reading Paris or World War II. But this week I am cool with it because she is exploring another one of her obsessions: Gypsies! “I just started Gypsy Boy on the Run: My Escape from a Life Among the Romany Gypsies by Mikey Walsh. I enjoyed and learned so much from his first book, Gypsy Boy that I expect to like this one too.”
Sweet Ann is reading something, well, for lack of a better word, sweet; As Sweet as Honey by Indira Ganesan. “Yes I know the word "sweet" is in the title of this book and yes it is a sweet story of a family living on the fictional island of Pi in the Indian Ocean. The novel is told by ten year old Mina who is the niece of the main character, Meterling. Meterling is twenty eight when the story begins and soon it will be her wedding day. She is marrying Archer, a British national, who works his family's gin business on the island. She loves him very much and as they share their first dance together as husband and wife, Archer drops dead. Meterling is devastated, as is her family who will be shocked to learn she is pregnant because they thought she was waiting to be with Archer on their wedding night. Meterling's family suppports her totally and she thinks she will live the rest of her life with them on Pi. She then meets Simon, Archer's cousin, who can offer her a new life. This is a lovely story about love, family and moving on with one's life. “
Pat T. has just started reading The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout. “This is a novel about a family whose lives have been affected by a tragedy from their childhood, their adult relationships with each other and how they individually handle the latest family crisis that brings them together again in their hometown of Shirley Falls, Maine. As with Olive Kitteridge Elizabeth Strout, draws you into her characters who are not easily likable, but redeemable.”
Jeanne, as usual, 2 things at once. Discuss: “There are so many good memoirs about so many different kinds of people. I was reading With or Without You: a Memoir by Domenica Ruta and I really wanted to like her story of self-made success about growing up Italian American with a drug-addled single mother on welfare in Danvers, MA. But, as I tell my dog when she picks up something she shouldn't, "That's yucky, Charlotte. Leave it!" So I did and I moved on to another memoir, After Visiting Friends: a Son's Story by Michael Hainey. In a way, both authors have experienced the loss of a parent, one to drugs, but still living; and one to death when the son was young. Hainey believes there is a mystery to be solved about the sudden death of his dad, a rising star at the Chicago Sun-Times. He wants to dig into the past without upsetting his mother and family members by uncovering secrets. The difference is in the writing. Hainey's writing, for me, is just more readable, more compelling and definitely more page-turning.”