YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ!!!

This week the Desketeers are remaining pretty true to form.  No big surprises this week.  I think we are still a tad waterlogged.

The offerings are as follows:  red, not pickled herrings, polygamy, a dabbling in a nasty business, an abandoned book, times gone by, and some healing.

Let us begin!

Abby wants to remind us all that “It's no secret I'm a fan of Scandinavian crime fiction and have really enjoyed Norwegian author Jo Nesbo's Detective Harry Hole series.  Headhunters is a standalone novel.  Roger Brown is the top corporate headhunter in Norway.  What he lacks in height he more than makes up for with ego, a sweet car, and exceptionally good hair.  Height is actually an obsession with him as it factors in strongly when considering job candidates and just about everything else. Roger has a lovely (tall) wife, and appears to have everything...except money to finance their lifestyle.  A smart fellow, he comes up with a risky way to keep him and his wife in the style they have become accustomed. There are lots of twists and turns in the story, which become a bit much.  In the end I felt Nesbo was somewhat self-congratulatory about what a clever writer he is to have come up with this plot.    It has some very nice Holy Cow moments along the way, but overall, a bit too many tricks and red herrings.”

 



Citizen Asha reports, “I am reading Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage. The book is about the Mormon family (Joe, Vicki, Valerie and Alina Darger) who inspired the HBO series Big Love. As a fan of the television show it was fascinating to read about the actual people, sadly it’s not as risqué and drama filled as the show. They live a fairly normal life; PTAs, minivans and blackberries which offers a different view of Mormonism. I just started reading Johannes Cabal: The Detective by Jonathan L. Howard. I am a major fan of Johannes Cabal. He is witty, cranky, arrogant, amoral and he also dabbles in necromancy but don’t hold it against it him. Cabal just wants to practice his experiments in peace and yet, he always finds himself in trouble. Apparently necromancy is not considered a proper way to make a living. Who knew?”

 


Barbara M. weighs in with the following: “I have done something I do not do easily. I just stopped reading The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. What started as a somewhat interesting book turned into a very strange disjointed one two thirds through and so I abandoned it. I have just begun Still Alice by Lisa Genova about a woman experiencing early onset Alzheimer’s disease and it promises to be a more satisfying read. “

 

 

 

Pat T. has just  “finished listening to the audio book Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, and I would highly recommend this audio book because the narrator had the perfect voice for the book's main character, Katey Kontent. It is a good story that realistically depicts the era, styles, and the well-to-do and working singles of the late 1930s and early '40s just as the nation is coming out of the grips of the Depression into a robust manufacturing economy before World War II.”

 

 


I am in love with The Healing which is due out in February.  When the mistress of the plantation has a breakdown after her 12 year old daughter dies she takes in a new born slave baby and renames her Grenada.  Master Satterfield has not only his wife’s increasingly fragile mental state and opium addiction to worry about. Something is causing his field hands to die off in large numbers.  He buys Polly Shine who is a healer to help determine what can be done to halt the epidemic.  In Grenada, Polly recognizes a fellow healer and proceeds to apprentice her.  

Have a great weekend!


 

All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken. Thomas Wolfe

Yes Tom.  October does bring out the nesting instinct in us all.  And what better to bring into the house as the nights get longer than some wood for a fire and some books to read?


This month we are looking forward to new works by 4 old favorites. 


The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff brings us the story of 35 year old  English portrait painter Ella Graham.  Ella’s gift is that she can see right away what makes a person unique and can then translate it onto canvas.  When her sister Chloe asks her to paint a portrait of her American fiancé Nate, Ella feels some hesitation at doing so.  Ella feels Nate and sister may not the right fit for each other.   As the portrait comes to life will Ella discover her hunch is correct or will some trick of light prove her wrong?  We loved Wolff’s first book A Vintage Affair and we are really looking forward to this one.


When She Woke is the newest offering from one of our favorite authors,  Hilary Jordan.  In this Dystopian retelling of The Scarlett Letter, Hannah Payne finds herself accused of murder.  The victim?  Her unborn child.  Her punishment?  She is now a Red .  Literally.  Hannah is red so that everyone will know her crime.   


 

 

 

In The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides asks the question, in this age of unromantic love brought about by pre-nups, sexual freedom and divorce can  a traditional love story or marriage plot survive?  Meet Madeline, the English Major, her boyfriend Leonard, the boy science genius, and Mitchell their friend with a strong interest in Christian mysticism who is convinced the Madeline is his romantic destiny.  It is the early 1980s and they have just graduate from Brown University ready to embark on their lives.  Over the next year they learn things and have experiences that will color their lives forever.  


 

Boomerang;  Travels in the New Thrid World  by Michael Lewis takes a hard look at the United State's financial crisis and its ripple effect on markets world wide.  We look forward to hearing his take on a rapidly changing reality.


 

 

Here’s to crisp cool days and falling leaves!

 

YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ!!!

This week we offer you the following:  hilarity at the expense of a country, talking dogs and lusty werewolfs, shattered dreams, an errant scholar, and a Sardinian grandmother.

Let us begin!


Citizen Asha reports: “I just finished The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo by Lars Arffssen. It’s his irreverent and absurdist parody of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. I loved it, I think everyone should read this book—he has fun poking at Swedish society. I laughed so hard, I think I may have to reread it. “

 

 

 

Abby is reading One Dog Night by David Rosenfelt and The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan.  “Sometimes a light read is just what you need, and I have needed that around 9 times now with the Andy Carpenter series.  Set in the non-glam city of Paterson, New Jersey, Andy is a defense attorney who can afford to be choosy with the cases he accepts.  Andy's top assistant is Tara, a Golden Retriever he rescued and to whom he is deeply devoted.  Along with Tara, Andy's colorful group of associates provides fun banter as they investigate cases and pursue romance. In this book, Andy's accepts a seemingly hopeless case when he learns the defendant was Tara's original owner. Owing the man a debt for bringing Tara into his life, the defense teams kicks into high gear.

“Last week I said that despite the title, The Family Fang was not a werewolf book.  The Last Werewolf, as the title states, most definitely is. Jake Marlowe is the last of his kind, a real werewolf and all that goes with it.  He's lusty, physical and feels some conflict over what he must do to survive.  Being the last also means he is a target for the greatest werewolf slayer of them all.  While Jake is ready to say goodbye and pack it in without a fight, Jake's hunter will not be denied the fight he has dreamed of and believes he deserves.  This book is not to be confused with the recent werewolf teen fad.  This, is a werewolf book.”

 

 

Marianne is weighing in with The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuko.  “Let me start by saying how much I love Julie Otsuko's writing style.  She conveys in spare and haunting prose the plight of Japanese mail-order brides who were brought to this country in the 1920's expecting to enjoy a prosperous and full life.  Once here, their dreams were shattered as they became field hands, house servants and low level laborers.  In addition, they faced racial prejudice and ultimately the internment camps during WWII.  To really appreciate the poetic aspect of this book, I think it should be read in small increments of a few pages at a time. If read, straight through, the author's use of repetition can become a little monotonous and the impact of the tragic lives these women led may become lost.”

 

Jeanne is reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.   “I am about 200 pages in.  I want to put it in a headlock and give it a big noogie.  Hope I can sustain this bonhomie through another 300 pages. It's really the first book that I have read in a while that keeps me from my studies!”

 

 

 

Barbara M is reading a From the Land of the Moon by the Italian author, Milena Agus.  “An unnamed granddaughter tells the story of her Sardinian grandmother who, because she was thought to be crazy, didn’t marry until she was 30, had one child (the narrator’s father), and dreamed of true love. Although it is a translation the language is beautiful and poetic.”

 

 

Have a great weekend!

 

YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ!!!

This week we have the usual fabulous offerings, moments of head scratching, and shenanigans.  We are pleased to present to you the following:  some drama, the City of Lights because it would seem we ALWAYS have Paris in these reviews (would someone please just go ahead and send us all to Paris.  We’d be eternally grateful), children,  some toiling, a sensational scandal and a friend that no one should have.

Let’s get started!


Citizen Asha has just finished “ Mice by Gordon Reece. Shelley and her mother compare themselves to mice: small, meek, easily targets. Both women deal with conflict from their friends and her father. They move to the English countryside to escape the drama, however, one night the drama comes to find them. The women find themselves tested and pushed to their breaking point. This causes Shelley to question whether or not they are “mice” and if they are not, what are they?”


 

 

Barbara M can as usual be found dreaming of her beloved Paris. “I’m reading A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway. This edition supposedly presents the book as the author intended it to be as opposed to what his fourth wife Mary edited it into. It’s a wonderful portrait of Paris in the 1920s.”

 

 


Abby has just read a favorite amongst the Desketeers,The  Family Fang.   “This one may sounds like yet another vampire book, but it is not. The Fang Family is made up of Caleb, Camille, Annie, and Buster. Caleb and Camille are wholly committed (and committable?) performance artists who fully immerse themselves in their art.  Their children, referred to as Child A & B in art publications to give them a false sense of privacy, have no choice but to be full participants in their parents "events." While the parents may believe art is the tie that binds, it can also be a destructive force.  Creating beauty can be an ugly business. It is an interesting mix of humor, rejection, and conditional love.”



Pat reports in with the following: " I have just finished reading The Buddha in the Attic by Jukie Otsuka. It is a short book with powerful story about the young Japanese brides traveling to America to meet their new husbands; spending their days toiling in the fields enduring hard work and much humiliation; and ending up in the round up of the Japanese in the Internment camps. The author's writing style was different because she focused on subject matter more than character development, but I still enjoyed the message of the book.”

 

Marianne is doing some rethinking with her pick of Faith by Jennifer Haigh. "This is a story of a priest accused of sexual abusing a young boy.  The priest's sister narrates the tale that is filled with the complicated interactions of their Irish-Catholic family.  And while I couldn't put it down and read it cover to cover, I later questioned whether or not I, the reader, had been manipulated by the author who was exploiting a sensational scandal.  However, after talking with others who've read the book and didn't see it that way at all, I've reconsidered and decided to take a second look at this book."

 


I love  the hilarious Practical Jean by Trevor Cole.  After watching her mom waste away from a painful and ultimately fatal cancer Jean decides that no one she loves should have to suffer like that ever again.  And Jean?  She is just the woman to help you out with that.  So if Jean happens to be your “friend” I would be very very careful if I were you.  Honestly?  I was snickering on the train this morning.  Which makes me look as unhinged as Jean herself.  I am totally fine with that  if it means I get my own seat.   

 


Have a wonderful weekend.

 

YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ!!!

Even in the face of impending doom the Desketeers are all about the quality, fun and style.   This week we have, as usual, much to offer:  Big Events, Death Stars, mythical creatures, pharmaceuticals, food glorious food, hi-jinks on the high seas, and a reader’s odyssey.


Let us begin!


Pat  says, “I am enjoying Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch. When Nina's eldest sister died at the age of 46, Nina turned to books to assuage her sadness. On her 46th birthday, she decided to read a book a day for a year. She writes about the many books she reads on this year long odyssey, as well as her emotional connection to books.”

 

 

 

 

Barbara M has “just started Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber and I already know that I’ll like it. I love her writing voice and that she peppers her prose with wonderful descriptions of food. “


 

 

 Abby is reading The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta and Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman.  “The Rapture has been predicted by many.  They have always been wrong.  People have spent their life savings purchasing billboard space to alert people the end is near.  Now they have no savings.  In this new novel by Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers refers to the people left behind following The Big Event.  Since there was no official notice provided at the time, is it really the Rapture or just an inexplicable non-secular event which disappeared millions of people? Perrotta has a unique narrative voice I enjoy that draws attention to the complexities and absurdities of suburbia.   In Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman, Tom Violet lives in the shadow of his larger than life father, one of the world's best writers of fiction.  That creates tremendous pressure and "issues" when you consider Tom himself wants to be a writer.  Funny office antics as Tom self-destructively tries to tear down the things that keep him from declaring himself a writer, and takes a glance down the same road as his mediocre yet talented father.   This may cause unpleasant workplaces to be labeled Death Star.

Asha reports in with “Just finished reading The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. It's easily one of my favorites this year, it's filled with dry humor, homage to classical literature and poetry and of course it deals with one of my favorite subjects...Werewolves. Forget Stephenie Meyer's weak bastardized version of a werewolf. Duncan provides a werewolf that is not only hardcore but he's struggling with his humanity which makes him so likeable and human, it makes you fall in love with him, at least I did. I'm currently reading Busy Monsters by William Giraldi, haven't finished it yet but so far it's great--Charles Homar's fiancé leaves him to go find the kracken which would be normal if it wasn't a mythical creature. This of course, plunges him into depression but he is determined to win her back. Good luck Charles!” Indeed!


Marianne is weighing in with a title that has been most popular this summer.  “My recent read is State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  I enjoyed reading this story of an emotionally damaged doctor who travels to the Amazon for a pharmaceutical company to check on the progress of a drug under development there. Her descriptions of the jungle and its native peoples were particularly vivid.  If you like plot driven and well written novels, definitely try this.”

 


In anticipation of Irene’s arrival I read The Sea Captain’s Wife by Beth Powning.  Powning brings us the story of Azuba young married woman living in Nova Scotia in the mid 1800’s.  When she marries sea captain Nathaniel Bradstock she hopes for a life of travel and adventure with him.  Unfortunately after the birth of their first child the Captain throws the anchor over board on her hopes.  He knows all too well that the sea is no place for women and children.  But when a scandal breaks involving Azuba the only way to save her reputation is to take her and their young daughter to sea.  This is a wonderful story about the last days of wooden ships and high adventure on the high seas.  I highly recommend it for a weekend when we won’t need to go to the beach, it would appear the beach is coming to us.  


Stay safe and stay dry!



 

Happily we bask in this warm September sun, Which illuminates all creatures… Henry David Thoreau

Thanks, Hank, and I can guarantee wonderful book goodness which will also prove illuminating as our days grow shorter.


Seriously, this September is one of the best ones I can remember for new releases.  Be sure to check out these stellar reads!


Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber.  In modern day Miami pastry chef Avis and real estate lawyer Brian are still mourning the disappearance of their daughter Felice who ran away when she was thirteen.  When she reappears in their lives 5 years later, they all must reexamine just what it means to be a family.  If you have loved Abu-Jaber’s previous works as we have, her latest will make you adore her all the more.


 

On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry.  89 year old Lily is looking back on her life upon the death of her grandson. This Booker nominated novel spans the time and place of the Great War and life in Ireland to Vietnam and America.  It sounds like it would be a natural for book groups.

 


 

 

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks is my pick of the year.  How do you define genius writing?  For me it is taking a main character that your logic tells you would not give an ounce of empathy or sympathy to and turning it on its ear.  The Kid is just such a character.  He lives under a causeway in Florida and sports an ankle bracelet.  And he is not allowed within 2,500 feet of where children may gather.  Despite the warning flags,   I promise you too will be rooting for The Kid.  

 


 

Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach is a baseball book that is not about baseball. When Henry Skrimshander arrives at Westish College to play short stop on the school’s baseball team he is on the top of his game and it would seem that he is destined to play for the Majors.  But when a throw goes awry his amazing gift seems to desert him.  Even the minor characters in this wonderful debut sing.  This is what everyone needs for the Fall.  A smart wonderful novel.

Happy End of Summer/Begining of Fall!

 

It’s a game we all play!

It’s called “Let’s Play Casting Director!”


And the Citizen and I were playing it yesterday with one of our favorite new books, The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson.  


The Family Fang
tells the story of, well, The Family Fang.  Mom and Dad Fang (Camille and Caleb) are performance artists who use their children Annie and Buster (aka Child A and Child B) as part of their “art” (Buster and Annie call it mischief).  When the “art” goes too far Annie and Buster are in high school and  they say no more moving  out and on with their lives as soon as they can.
Unfortunately Annie and Buster come up against some  pretty disastrous career and personal setbacks, and they are forced to move back home. Caleb and Camille see this as a wonderful opportunity to perform one last piece.    But then the Parents Fang disappear, the possible victims of a violent crime.  Or did they?


This book would be tremendous for book groups.


Oh and did I mention that it is devastatingly funny?  Because it is.

So anyway, back to the game.


Here is the casting that The Citizen and I agreed on after MUCH discussion:
    Caleb Fang –Alec Baldwin
    Camille Fang – Diane Keaton
    Annie Fang – Christina Ricci
    Buster Fang – Toby Maguire


 Won’t you please grab a copy and then visit us at The Welcome Desk with casting ideas of your own.
 

YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ!!!

This week’s installment has marketing, missing siblings, agoraphobics and tom foolery,  the Amish and courtship rituals.

Let us begin!


Barbara M. says, “I’ve just finished Faith by Jennifer Haigh. It’s a tense drama about a priest accused of child molestation but even more it’s a story of complicated family dynamics. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down.  I’ve started reading Unthinking:  The Surprising Forces Behind What We Buy by Harry Beckwith - a marketing expert’s theories about what really motivates the choices behind how we make decisions about what we buy.”


 

Pat T. is “in the middle of reading "Sister by Rosamund Lupton and I look forward to continuing the story each evening as I crawl into bed. Bee returns home to London when her younger sister Tess is reported missing. When her body is discovered the police rule the death a suicide. However, Bee knows her sister well enough to know that she would never have killed herself and she sets out to prove this. There is a good deal of intrigue, as well as the bond of sisterly love.”

 

 

Citizen Asha as usual has something unusual.  “I am reading Bed by David Whitehouse. An unnamed narrator describes life with his family. His older brother Malcolm has decided to never leave his bed ever again which is great, except now he weighs more than half a ton. His parents cope with it in different ways; his mother enables Malcolm’s tomfoolery while their father escapes to the attic for long periods of time. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. “

 

 

 

Marianne is working her way through, "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: a Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Jantzen.  "In her early 40s, the author found herself back in her parents' home, enveloped in a life of German folk songs, strudel, borscht, traditional handicrafts and pious religious beliefs." Jantzen manages to bring humor and honesty to her mid-life altering crises. I'm finding this to be a perfect late summer read. And it really is true you can always go home again."

 

I am in love Jeffrey Eugenides’ new book which is coming out in October.  The Marriage Plot looks at the lives and loves of three Brown graduates in the early 1980’s and asks the question, can a traditional love story thrive in the late 20th century?  Or have the rituals become obsolete in the face of the practicalities of modern courtship.  As always, Eugenides’ characters sing off the page and straight into your heart and mind.  Get excited.  This one is worth it.

 

YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ!!!

This week’s installment has some rather fascinating features.  We have water, water everywhere, a new obsession, peculiarities, three essential ingredients, an affair, and still more Paris.


Barbara M wants all to know, “I’m listening to The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough a devastating account of the flood of 1889 that killed two thousand people. It is even more heart wrenching because it was avoidable. McCullough's writing, compelling and vivid, puts you, the reader, into the action. “ She also has a new obsession in watching  “Lark Rise to Candleford a BBC adaptation of Flora Thompson's autobiographical novel set in 19th century England about a young girl who moves to town from the countryside to become a postmistress’ apprentice. “

 


Citizen Asha as usual is weighing in with something not quite right:  “I just finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  When I first saw the title at BEA, I figured it would be a great read and I was right. Jacob’s grandfather has been telling him stories of a strange but fantastical orphanage in the Welsh countryside, when his grandfather dies he decides he needs to take a trip to see the orphanage. Only one problem, the orphanage was destroyed on September 3rd, 1940 during an air raid yet, he has a letter from Miss Peregrine dating 1985. Very peculiar.”

 

 

 

Candace is remaining true to type and continuing to ponder her fellow homo sapiens:  She is reading The Social Animal by David Brooks and reports that it “is so interesting!  I want to buy a copy.” 

 

 

Pat T. wants all to know that she has “just finished reading another great Douglas Kennedy book - Pursuit of Happiness. His books always have a good plot, great character development and engaging dialogue - three ingredients for a good read!”

 

 

 

 

Abby says “I’m currently having a fun time with The Affair, the new Jack Reacher novel coming out in September.  Armed only with his travel toothbrush and heavy duty English shoes, Jack heads south in this book. The Affair provides good background about Jack's origins and what led him to life out of the military and off the grid.  Reacher Creatures should be pleased.”

 

 

 

Elisabeth of Team Tone reports:  Right now I am reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. It is a fictional account about Ernest Hemingway's marriage to his first wife, Hadley Richardson, and their life together in Paris at the beginning of his writing career. This story has an intriguing mix of funny and heart-sinking moments, and it provides insight into the personal life of one of America's most revered authors from the perspective of the person that knows him best.

 

 

Have a great weekend!

Reads for your Rides

Reads for Your Rides

Now you can pick up a whole lot more than a cup of java or a paper at the station!


Look for our spinning rack filled with donated books!  Feel free to take one for you commute.  And when you’re done, feel free to keep it or pass it on to a fellow commuter.

 

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