Hosted by Jen Dayton
We are all back from our various travels and we trust everyone had a lovely 4th. It looks like we are in for some steamy weather over the next few days. Why not grab some Book Goodness and head to your favorite cool spot and indulge? Isn’t that what summer is all about after all? This week we have a perfect concoction, mermaids, Somalia, Seattle and Somalia again, the death penalty, a serial killer, aristocratic decay, some mean girl behavior, obsession and a place at the table.
Let us begin!
Miss Elisabeth of the CL is so excited this week! “I just finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman’s first book for adults in 8 years. Oh my goodness was it worth the wait! The book is superb, and at 178 pages, it clocked in as one of the faster reads I’ve had this year (and I’m a children’s librarian!). The story in some ways embodies everything Gaiman has become known for – it’s a perfect concoction of myths, fantasy, reality, and the truths of childhood that we forget as adults. For those who’ve never read Gaiman before, it’s an excellent introduction to one of the very best storytellers of his generation. And don’t just take my word for it!”
Tired of vampires, werewolves, and zombies? How about trying merpeople? The Amazing Amanda's first thought when picking up Anne Greenwood Brown's Lies Beneath was, "Really? Another supernatural story?" She decided to take a chance on it anyways and is enjoying the audiobook very much! “Calder White is more than a breathtaking boy helping unload moving boxes. He's got a plan, along with his three mermaid sisters, to drown the man who just moved back to his parents' old place. Why? Because years ago, Jack Hancock's father was a fisherman on Lake Superior who nearly drowned. In exchange for his life, he promised to bring back his infant son to the mermaid that saved him. But, Jack Hancock's father broke his promise. Now the mermaids will do anything within their power to take Jack down even if it includes Calder seducing Jack's sixteen year old daughter. There's only one problem, Calder may be falling in love with her. What I'm really enjoying about this book is the grittiness that the voice actor brings to Calder's character. Calder is not like the heroes in other young adult romances. He's bitter, stressed out, and hungry. Lily is a mysterious character since we do not see inside her head at all. I haven't finished yet to find out if a romance is really blooming between them since Calder may not be the most reliable of narrators.”
Barbara M. No Paris, no Nazis, no kidding. Blame the heat. “I’m reading The House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett. The story is a retrospective look at Amanda’s captivity in Somalia. It is not an easy story to read. After traveling the world looking for stories to write about Amanda went to Somalia, knowing the danger. How she kept herself alive and hopeful is an inspiration.”
Jeanne however is doing two things at once. This is what she does. “I couldn't wait until September so I got an ARC of Jamie Ford's Songs of Willow Frost. Just like his Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, this book has heart and a great sense of the place and time he writes about. In Songs, the 12 year old main character is William Eng, an orphaned Chinese American boy who is convinced his mother is still living and working as an actress and yearns to find her. Set in Depression era Seattle in the 1930s, Ford paints a picture of the ordeals Chinese Americans have eking out a living and even in surviving in the Sacred Heart Orphanage. It appears Ford did plenty of research into the entertainment industry of the time and continually peaks the reader's interest with mention of famous minority show people, such as Anna May Wong the Jewel Box Theater and ‘talkies.’ I loved it from start to finish; I even enjoyed reading the Acknowledgements! I am now reading A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett. The story recounts Lindhout's longing to travel and leave her difficult life in Calgary. She begins young by dreaming of exotic places when she buys 25 cent copies of used National Geographic Magazines. She continues to dream and begins saving tip money by waitressing at high end cocktail lounges and soon is a seasoned traveler to countries in Asia and Africa - adding each new country visited (almost 50) like notches in her belt. She is independent and gutsy and determined and teaches herself how to become a photojournalist. The memoir will go on to share her harrowing ordeal as a captive in Somalia. I can't begin to imagine...”
Sweet Ann offers her take on The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel by Elizabeth L. Silver. You will all please note that as usual it is a not so cheerful read. I really think Ann has a secret life. “This novel had a very interesting and intriguing premise to it. Noa P. Singleton is on death row awaiting her execution when the murder victim's mother comes to visit her and says she no longer believes in the death penalty. Marlene Dixon, mother of victim, is a high powered attorney who wants Noa to write her "story" so she can avoid the death penalty and have it commuted to life in prison. Noa is a very interesting person in that she is resigned to her punishment but this offer has her at least tell her side which she did not do during the trial. Noa begins her life story and the reader is drawn in to what makes a smart young woman kill someone. I thought this novel would be very good and I am reluctant to say it was just mediocre. It's an okay read if you have nothing else available.”
Caroline is looking for some distraction these days. And all who have seen her find this understandable. But please leave her alone. Thank you. “I just devoured The Shining Girls over the weekend. It's been recently compared to Gone Girl as a smart, engaging page-turner, but instead of a husband and wife plot, this one focuses on an actual serial killer. It also has a completely original approach to storytelling, which I will not give away as it becomes an integral aspect of the many twists and turns. We do learn quickly that the killer's MO is to first harmlessly approach his victim, then return to her days or years later to finish the job. We follow both him, and his only survivor, Kirby, as she works to untangle his disturbing web of murders in hopes of solving her own. Just a warning! This book does get pretty graphic, in case you're someone who tends to fast-forward those scenes on SVU.”
Babs B. is enjoying The Astor Orphan by Alexandra Aldrich. “Set amid aristocratic decay similar to Grey Gardens, this memoir is by a direct descendant of John Jacob Astor. This is a beautifully written family saga about the Astor clan and the author's 1980s crazy, dysfunctional childhood on the family's decaying Hudson Valley estate Rokeby. “
Welcome to first timer Sue S. You may know Sue from Friday Night Films or see her running around with a book cart performing her Mat Man duties. She is reading is reading Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster. Hit it Sue! “It tells the story of Lissy Ryder who is newly dumped by her husband who was also her H.S sweetheart. To add insult to injury she finds out that contrary to popular belief she was not loved by all in high school and that she was actually the girl that picked on everyone. When she goes to her 20 year High School reunion she finds out that she is universally hated and she sets out to try and make right the wrong. It’s actually a hilarious book and I love reading it.”
Pat S. just finished The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales. “During 2008-09, a group of well off teens living in the Los Angeles area embarked upon a string of robberies targeted at the homes of young celebrities including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Orlando Bloom. The thefts were atypical-personal items of the celebrities-clothing, accessories and jewelry. The teens then dressed in stolen gear, went out clubbing with same celebs they had ripped off. Eventually they got caught, which you may think concludes the story. But no. Arrests and resulting trials were ably covered by TMZ, Gawker and the like-in addition to social media. Midway through, I had had enough, but it was like watching a car accident-I couldn't turn away. This book is an interesting and frightening examination of the cult of celebrity obsession in America today-and what can happen when envy of fame is taken to the ultimate degree. Sales makes a strong case indicting the media and social media fueling this obsession. If so, is Sales not part of the problem she describes? As a reader seeking the motivation of the Bling Ring, aren't I as well?”
Pat T. has just started listening to the audio book Obsessed by Mika Brzezinski. “The great thing about listening to this book is the author narrates it herself. Often referred to as the 'food Nazi' on her talk show, Morning Joe, Mika is passionate about having a conversation about the obesity epidemic in America. In this book she discusses her own personal battle with food, the ultra processed foods in our diet and the addictive nature of these foods. In the end, it is all about making the right choices on how to eat and how to live and taking personal responsibility for yourself. I highly recommend reading or listening to this book, since the author has a good message for us to think about and talk about.
Sometimes you read a book and you just feel sorry for yourself. You feel sorry that you will never get a chance to meet the person who you have just invested some time with. That is exactly how I felt after I finished Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations by Peter Evans and Ava Gardner. You have to love a woman who says about her collaboration with Peter Evans “I either write the book or sell the jewels, and I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels.” And with that get ready for some juicy gossip from one of the great beauties of the 20th century. Sure, she talks about her marriages to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and of course, Frank Sinatra. But it’s when she dishes on the ones that she wasn’t married to (Howard Hughes, George C. Scott) that things really get interesting. Ava is definitely one of the people I would invite to that mythical dinner party where you can populate the table with your favorite dead people from history. I think that I want a round table with Dorothy Parker on one side and Ava on my other.