First of all, a big thanks to Pamela M for the taffy from of all places, Alaska. Who knew one could Summer in Alaska? Well, Pamela M did. Thanks Pam! I just need to say that I am holding fast to summer. While I had to forsake the sandal this week because the Dayton 10 just got too cold, I am still working the white pants. The Ever Fabulous Babs B is looking pointedly in the other direction pretending that fashion faux pas is not happening on her watch. On Tuesday morning, I was mourning the fact that summer was indeed creeping away from me, that it was only 8:00 in the morning and everything I tried my hand at was epically failing, and that the week seemed to stretch way too long ahead. It was a pity party for one and it wasn’t pretty. And then I looked out the train window for this week’s message from The SoNo Loft. And there it was, “You are what you read!” It made me laugh out loud and then I am afraid I whooped. My apologies to the man who was sitting next to me; if you are out there Sir, I swear I am mentally stable most of the time so there was no need to try to shrink into the window and away from me. And just like that the day turned around and things did not seem so daunting. So, a huge thank you to Think Around Corners and Greg C, the mad geniuses behind the message each week. You all will never know how much I delight when the train is pulling into the South Norwalk Station because of you! In their honor, go out of your way this weekend to gladden someone’s path and remember to thank those that gladden yours in ways big and small. This week we have some Maine, devastation, cottage cheese containers, the G8, Australia, Burma, a bookstore, and some grieving elephants. And, of course, from The State Which Shall Not Be Named we have The Playlist.
Let us begin!
Abby has turned to a favorite series this week with The Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron. “A while ago I wrote about a mystery series by Paul Doiron featuring Maine State Game Warden Mike Bowditch. I’m happy to report that Doiron’s latest, The Bone Orchard, is a highly enjoyable read which highlights his obvious love of the outdoors. I never like to reveal too much about a mystery, but I will say in book 4 of the series Mike must step outside his zone of comfort to come to the aid of his friend and mentor. I find Doiron’s writing has an effective and unique rhythm. He has a beautiful way of setting a scene and getting to the heart of his characters.”
Sweet Ann has just finished The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. “Tsukuru was part of a close group of high school friends who did everything together. After graduation, Tsukuru is the only one who chose to go to university away from where he and his friends live. By the end of his sophomore year, his friends refuse to see him or answer his calls. This devastates him and he is never the same again. It is as if all his joy in life is gone. Sixteen years later, he meets a woman he would like to date. On their first date she asks questions about his high school experience and for the first time he reveals his lost friendships. As they continue to date, she says he must resolve his past before they can move forward. She then convinces him to return to his hometown to discover the reason for his exclusion. The story follows Tsukuru as he searches for life's meaning and redemption. It is a wonderful read about image, friendship, loss and reconciliation. “
Thomas S aka My Son is here with something he’s been reading in between his school assignments. Please don’t call Social Services on me. I swear I did the best I could. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth is easily the best book I have read this summer, and probably one of the best YA novels I have ever read in my life. It deals with all of the wondrous teenage anxieties that come from living in a small town filled with evangelicalism, bigotry, and thinking that your ‘sinful behavior’ contributed to the deaths of your parents. The coping mechanisms the main character uses are fantastic: making a doll house filled with random cottage cheese containers and moss, and renting creepy David Bowie vampire flicks on VHS. Upon the conclusion of book two, I found myself crying in the corner while Brand New's Play Crack the Sky played on my stereo. It was a truly magical experience. “
Virginia, everyone’s favorite Tall Cool Texan, is back and she has been busy! What up VA We missed you! “The past couple of weeks I lost many an hour to two of my favorite authors. I have some good news for fans of Lianne Moriarty and some bad news for fans of Lee Child. Let’s start with the bad. I love the Jack Reacher series. I read the entire series last summer start to finish and was not disappointed. I have waited a whole year to get my Jack Reacher fix and when I started reading Personal I found it very unsatisfying. Reacher finds himself pulled back into the military to help stop an attack on the G8 Summit after a sniper tries to assassinate the French president. The expertise of the marksman has led government and military intelligence to narrow the suspect pool down to a handful of individuals; one of which is a man who spent the last 15 years in jail thanks to Reacher. The government has asked for Jack’s help in tracking the suspect down but are they using him as bait? All of the elements were there, but something was missing. Jack Reacher’s personality and idiosyncrasies were gone and the impossible escapades were toned down. The best way I can describe it is to say it is Jack Reacher lite. On the flip side, Liane Moriarty delivered big with Big Little Lies. I love how Moriarty writes; her engaging tone makes you want to turn the page. In her latest book, she continues her winning way of writing from multiple women’s perspectives slowly revealing how their lives intersect. Unlike The Husband’s Secret, her latest book is darkly humorous, but don’t worry. The story contains all of the twists and turns we anticipate from Moriarty. The book starts with a tragic death during a parent’s night at a local elementary school in an affluent seaside community in Australia. Moriarty then builds the story backwards, showing how three women, each at a crossroads in their life, played a role in the evening’s tragic ending. I found it funny and thrilling with surprising depth. It’s an absolutely wonderful read.”
Pat T has finished the sequel to the Art of Hearing Heartbeats. “The Well-Tempered Heart by Jan Philip Sendker follows Julia's story 10 years later. She is a successful attorney at a crossroads in her life. One day, while preparing for a presentation, she hears the haunting voice of a wailing woman. Julia decides to return to her father's homeland of Burma to understand what she is hearing. With the help of her half-brother U Ba, they discover that it is the voice of a dead woman, Nu Nu, and together they learn the sad tale of Nu Nu's life. In the search for answers, this becomes a journey of self-discovery for Julia, a stronger bond between brother and sister and of course a romance.”
Hello Steph! What’s doin’? “This weekend I read The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin. What a sweet and funny book! Fikry is a bookstore owner on a small island whose life has been going steadily downhill since his wife’s death, but the shocking discovery of a toddler abandoned in his bookstore changes his life quite a bit! A small mystery and a lovely romance round this out into a nice beach read for those who want to sneak in one more this year or alternatively if you’re already looking forward to fall, it would also be a pleasant fireplace read. This is perfect for fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.”
Erin, Steph, and I were invited to a Very Fancy Author Dinner for Jodi Picoult this week. As you all know I never, ever say no to talking books and I most surely never, ever say no to dinner; most especially a Fancy Dinner. But frankly, I dreaded the whole idea of singing for my Fancy Author Dinner which was reading Jodi’s new book which is coming out October. The last book of hers that I had read and enjoyed was My Sister’s Keeper which came out in 2005. That’s all I am going to say about that. But, from the moment I picked Leaving Time, I remembered why I liked her back in the day. Jenna is a thirteen-year-old girl whose mother Alice is a scientist who specializes in elephants; specifically elephants and how they grieve. Alice has been missing for the majority of Jenna’s life and Jenna refuses to believe that she could be dead. So she enlists the help of Serenity Jones, a formerly famous TV Psychic and Virgil Stanhope, an alcoholic private detective. The story is told in alternating voices but it is the voice of Alice and her field notes on the grieving rituals of elephants that make this so compelling. This one is due out in October.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC has something to say from The State Up North. Will she be North enough to see this? There has to be something worthy about living up there. “This was a weird week in my world. I’m blaming the last full perigee moon of the year. Please don’t tell Neil deGrasse Tyson I said that. I know, I know correlation is not causation and if he found out it might make him cranky and nobody likes a cranky astrophysicist. I’m stuck in a few transitions. Back to school, summers’ nearing end, the beginning of one thing and the end of another. I am not ready to say goodbye to summer and we don’t officially have to do that until September 22nd. So, I still have my shorts, white jeans and one pair of flip-flops on hand. But I can resist the seasonal change for only so long before I’ll be forced to throw my hands up in surrender and shrug on a sweater or coat of some sort. So if you’re stuck in a transition of your own, it’s perfectly ok to sit there for a while. Look up at the sky, contemplate, reflect and move on when you are ready. Like the planets and stars above we operate on our own specific timetable of movement and change. And let’s face it, saying goodbye is something that is very, very hard to do.”