Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

We have a lot to be excited about this week.  Even with the rain on Thursday, the weather was lovely and just what summer should be. Sweet Ann wants me to report that I seem very happy sunshiny these days.  I am sure that will turn that around sometime next week so please don’t get used to it. We are beyond excited about the publication this week of The Telling Room:  A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Darien’s very own Michael Paterniti.  We hope you will join us on the 7th of August at 7:00 when Mike comes here for a discussion and book signing.   And if meeting Mike isn't  enough, yes, there will be fabulous cheese! Click here for more details!  This week we give to you a spy, some over simplifying, immigration, a saint, a teacher, a farm, gasping,  guffaws and some temporary insanity. 

Let us begin!

The Amazing Amanda wanted a spy adventure as she began to read Blowing My Cover: My Life as a Spy by Lindsay Moran. “Ever since she was a kid, Moran has wanted to be a spy. Influenced by the glitzy, dangerous life depicted in Hollywood films and her imaginative adventures she thought up for her grandfather, Moran knows that being a spy is going to be awesome. Soon after starting her career as a spy though, Moran learns that she’ll be asking others to put their lives on the line as they become traitors to their own countries. She struggles with her moral ethics and feels increasingly lonely as she digs deeper into her work.  I was not able to finish the book because the crippling isolation Moran conveys. I was hoping for a fun read, but I had to walk away as Moran’s life got ever worse. “

Barbara M. “Graphic novels are not my favorite form of book. That being said, Escape to Gold Mountain by David H. T. Wong is a very engaging highly informative one. The art work is average and the characters are sometimes overly simplistically depicted but the story of Chinese immigration to North America is one that deserves to be told and Wong does a good job of mixing historical documents with his own family’s history. “

Steph checks in this week with Hild, by Nicola Griffith, which comes out in November. “It’s a long, rich book set in seventh-century Britain, square in the middle of power struggles between the British, Angles, Picts, and  Franks, not to mention England’s slow conversion to Christianity. Hild, who would grow up to become Saint Hilda of Whitby, becomes the king’s seer at an early age and masters the art of politics to stay close to King Edwin through his tumultuous conquests and reign. As Edward becomes more powerful and his court begins to convert to Christianity, Hild too becomes more powerful and begins to question who she is and who she will be. Think Wolf Hall plus Game of Thrones, with a feminist twist. The writing is exquisite, with all the beautiful and gritty details of the early medieval period. Fans of historical fiction will gobble it up, but the setting lends just enough mysticism that fantasy readers will want to take a look, too. One of the best historical novels I’ve read in quite some time. “

Jeanne is back from Italy and is back doing 2 things at once!  “I have never read Frank McCourt’s award-winning books. But I love a good audiobook and a good autobiography, so when a patron recommended Teacher Man: A Memoir, I brought it to my car. McCourt didn’t begin his career as a Pulitzer Prize winning author; that came much later. In his twenties, he struggled to become a teacher in some of New York City’s toughest schools. Read by the author in his thick brogue, I am enjoying this funny, irreverent, even a little misguided account of his years as a teacher. I just finished The Mouse-Proof Kitchen  by Saira Shah, a beautifully done debut novel. Anna and Tobias are expecting their first child and after her birth, they plan to move from London to Provence. The plan is to renovate a very run-down farm (but in Provence!) where Anna will teach cooking classes and Tobias will have his barn/recording studio. The reader aches for them when their child, Freya, is born with severe life-threatening disabilities. See if you don’t cringe as these new parents cope with doctors, hospitals, family and friends, and each other with their black humor.”

Sweet Ann has just finished The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, and of course she is feeling things rather deeply as she is want to do. “I have loved all of Ms. Lahiri’s writings, The Interpreter of Maladies, a short story collection, The Namesake, a novel and Unaccustomed Earth, another wonderful collection of interlocking stories.  Once again Ms. Lahiri has written a beautiful, heart wrenching story of two brothers, Subhash, fifteen months older than Udayan.  They are extremely close as youngsters but as they enter their late teens their lives go in different directions.  Udayan will become politically active protesting the government.  Subhash will study hard and end up living in the United States.  The brother’s lives will intersect and have far reaching consequences that neither can predict.  The characters are so well written that as a reader you will feel them in your skin.  I was with my family reading this book when I audibly gasped at one point because I was so shocked at what had happened in the story. I got some surprised looks but I just had to keep reading. This is a multi-generational story that I can recommend highly.”  Look for this one in September. 

Patty McC. is on vacation in a state that I refuse to acknowledge being the Ohio girl that I am.  However she is having a great time for which I am glad.  “I am thoroughly enjoying, laughing and out-right guffawing at the latest David Sedaris book, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls. His comedic timing never fails and I can actually hear his native voice with the slight southern drawl through the text.  It always amazes me when the author clearly speaks to you and you hear the nuance, timing and jokes as they're meant to be heard.  This is one of the reasons why he is such a brilliant writer.  I can say Sedaris never fails to entertain and frankly, who couldn't use a laugh or much needed guffaw right now? Read it, enjoy it and find your happy place!  I have!”

I am halfway through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  I can honestly say that this will be added to the Jen List of Wonderful for 2013.  I can also honestly say that when finished it will wreck me for anything that comes after.  Get yourself on hold right now.  This is the sort of book that as you are reading you say to yourself, I really need to speak to that character and set them straight.  Because you forget that these are not real people,  they are not your friends,  and you could now be declared insane. Yes.  It is that kind of crazy good.  It comes out in October.

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