Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Happy New Year!  We are pleased to announce that we have kicked the Hellidays to the curb and we are full speed ahead for a glorious new year and getting back to what passes for normal.  As is the case, sometimes the recovery time for things getting back to normal lags. The SoNo Loft has no new words for us.  Sweet Ann wishes she had words but she is too busy coughing to speak.  I know that you join me in wishing her a speedy recovery. We have no playlist for the New Year.  But I am pleased to announce that The TC made it back safe and sound from The Homeland, and the decorations are coming down. So yes.  Back to what passes for normal. This week we have some mystery, romance, miracles, Paris, Detroit, coincidence, Rilke and sheep.  Yes.  Sheep.


Let us begin!


Abby is reading what she normally reads. “Being a fan of the Olen Steinhauer Tourist Spy trilogy, I was excited to learn he had a new one coming out March 18th titled The Cairo Affair. In this suspenseful stand-alone tale, we are taken to Hungary where a mid-level American diplomat and his wife are sharing a tense lunch.  The actions that follow take us deep into complex geopolitical plots and international espionage. The way in which Steinhauer has organized his story into chapters devoted to specific characters is an effective tool in allowing the story to unfold in a way that the reader can follow the twists and turns. If you enjoy good spy tradecraft and international intrigue, The Cairo Affair is a solid choice. Steinhauer is being hailed as the next John le Carré and while he is good, he does not yet have the elegance of the master.”


Amanda is prepping for a big project by reading through our romance novels! And if you know Amanda, you know she loves a romance, especially one with strong women.  So this is also normal. “This week I am reading Sarah Maclean's A Rogue by Any Other Name. London's most notorious gaming hell (yes, Hell) is run by four business partners; each an aristocrat that is outside London's society. One of the partners, Bourne, is desperate to reclaim the inheritance he gambled away 9 years earlier. When he learns that his inheritance is Penelope's dowry, he kidnaps and compromises her so she'll have to marry him. Penelope transforms from a meek woman to one with the power to bring the gaming hell and Bourne to his knees. This novel does not sizzle as much as the second one in the series, but it's a delight to see the hero of the next book, Cross, moving about in the background. Each book in the series is charming in its own way and it’s fun to see powerful men meet their match in these surprising women.“


Sweet Ann is reading something uplifting and well, sweet.  Much like her, so this passes for normal. “The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield was a book that was suggested to me months ago by a coworker and I finally got to it.  It tells the story of the Lake Family who have returned to their home town to begin anew after Samuel, a pastor, has difficulty finding a new church.  Samuel, his wife, Willadee, and their three children move in with Willadee's parents. It is a wonderful beginning for the family but soon enough tragedy strikes.  The language of the book is beautiful and I think the author is saying that good can come from evil if we believe in miracles.   The topics are heavy but the love of this family will make your heart soar. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

The Fabulous Babs B.  is reading The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure which is about Paris.  So yeah, that’s normal.  “It's 1942 Paris and architect Lucien Bernard needs money so he accepts a commission from a wealthy industrialist to design a hiding place for his Jewish friend.  He is also designing a large factory where the Germans will manufacture weapons for the war effort for which there is no compensation.  Right under the Nazi’s noses, Lucien builds ingenious hiding spaces.  Belfoure is an architect by profession and this is his first novel.  So while it is not the best written, it is filled with accurate architectural and historical details.  This is a great World War II thriller with an unlikely twist at the end!”

DJ Patty McC. Is delving into her beloved non-fiction. So that’s normal! “Well, the New Year is finally here and with it comes new opportunities for contemplation. Whilst traveling during my holiday break I read The Red Notebook by Paul Auster. It's a teeny tiny little chapbook that packs a punch. In four short chapters, Paul Auster explores the paradox of coincidence that has occurred in his own life. While it’s a great quick read it makes you contemplate the nature of coincidence long after you put the book down. My next read also picked up on the theme of the paradox of coincidence. I dug into Geoff Dyer’s Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It and in the evening for bedtime, I read to my son was Adam Gidwitz’ In a Glass Grimmly. Both books mentioned the poet Rilke and then Dyer went on to mention how Rilke was his favorite writer more than once. In the chapter, ‘The Rain Inside’ Dyer travels to Detroit (where I happened to be reading the book!) to cover a music festival and write a novel. In the end he has some watershed moments there. Now home, I’m going to roll with the paradox of coincidences and do a little transcendental reading. Up next in my queue is Rainer Maria Rilke and Lou Andreas-Salomé: The Correspondence.  

As I have said before, Steph and I have been prepping for the first Meet Us on Main Street of the year (this Wednesday).  This Very Special Meet Us on Main Street has a secret theme and promises to be very exciting.  So I force fed myself All the Birds Singing by Evie Wyld.  Jake Whyte is a sheep farmer living on an unnamed British Island with only her flock of sheep and her collie for companionship.  Every couple of nights, grave misfortune befalls one of the sheep.  Jake definitely has a Past.  Is it catching up with her?  I wanted to love this one.  Wyld’s writing is very good but the ending did nothing for me.  Also, if you know anything about me, that I spent a week reading about dogs and sheep is anything but normal.  By throwing in this abnormality I think we can safely say we are on our way back to what passes for normal!

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