Summer is finally here and with a nice long weekend to look forward to here is what the Desketeers have been enjoying. Or not. You never know with them. This week’s installment features warring family members, beauty walking like the night, dry alcoholics, segregation, ex-pats, and beauty products for weasels.
Let us begin!
Could it be the impending holiday that has Marianne pondering the State of the Family with her latest: “You may know one, you may have one or you may be one. And what is that? A daughter-in-law! If any of the preceding applies to you, you must read Daughters-in-Law by Joanna Trollope. As a mother of four sons and now, four daughters-in-law this book made me look much more carefully at my own family relationships.” Marianne found this charming article on BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13973331 . Read, discuss amongst yourselves and then read the book. We guarantee that you won’t just see fireworks in the sky.
Elizabeth, as usual, has many things going on at once. “So this week I'm reading quite the combination of books. I'm reading the Paris Wife which I absolutely adore. This is the first book I've read since The Help that totally takes me to another world. I don't ever want it to end. I also read She Walks in Beauty, which is a book of poems selected by Caroline Kennedy. It's basically her journey through life as told through this collection of poems. They're broken up into sections according to phases of life, e.g. falling in love, breaking up, marriage, loss and grieving, etc. I'm enjoying Caroline's own anecdotes between sections but I'm a little underwhelmed by the poems themselves. I'll just say it's not wowing me. Lastly, I'm listening to Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods on audio. He returns to the U.S. after living in England for 20 years and decides that the best way to reintroduce himself to our fine country is to hike the entire Appalachian Trial with his heinously out of shape, ex-drug addict/alcoholic childhood friend. It is equal parts terrifying and hilarious. I'm enjoying the book but I can say with certainty that it has frightened me out of any future hiking or camping expeditions. The entire first chapter is a list of traumatizing ways one can die in the wilderness. Need I say more?”
Ann also has much going on: “The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew. It is the story of a family living in South Carolina with their black maid, Mary, during the 1950's. The story is told by the thirteen year old daughter Jubie. The father of the family is abusive towards Jubie and it is Mary who gives her comfort. The father also has cheated against the wife so she decides to take her children and Mary to Florida to visit her brother. Due to racial discord in the south at this time, tragedy strikes Mary which has a profound effect on Jubie. It is a good read but predictable in parts. A Place of Yes 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life by Bethenny Frankel. It is an interesting read if you are a Bethenny fan. She tells her life story and how she used her experiences to turn her business adventures into successes and her personal life into all she wanted. Many of her suggestions are not new but she presents them in an amusing way. I did think her advice would be good for young people starting out in their first jobs, for example to stand out at work and not just stay with "the pack". I also enjoyed Bossypants by Tina Fey as an audio book. This audio book was fun to listen to because Tina Fey reads it. She tells about her childhood, beginnings of her career and her present day life. It was fun and made my time on 95 go quickly, not really, but it was a lot more fun with Tina.”
Abby says that listening to The Paris Wife on audio “has me very excited. It was hearing my wonderful co-worker speak of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast that moved me to read the book, and it sets up the Paris Wife beautifully. WhereA Moveable Feast is Hemingway's take on his time in Paris alongside his wife Hadley, The Paris Wife, while fiction, is an account of his first wife Hadley Richardson. Beginning in her childhood, we learn how she met the aspiring writer. We've not yet been to Paris. This audio has really sucked me into Chicago of the time, rich with details, inner lives, and fountains of Prohibition Era liquor. I usually only get the sensation of thumping in my chest during suspenseful movies (at the end of Silence of the Lambs, my heart was pounding so hard I was convinced the people in the theater near me could hear it and would tell me to quiet down), but the debut novel by SJ Watson had my blood pumping! Set in England, it tells the story of Christine, a married woman who suffers from an unusual form of amnesia. She can hold onto memories during her waking hours, but each day she awakes remembering nothing of the days before. Pursuing treatment, she begins to unlock the mystery of the trauma that cost her so much and explore the woman she was.
Citizen Asha seems, well, almost sedate this week. “I am reading the Love Child by Sheila Kohler. It’s about a woman (named Bill) coping with the loss of her husband as well as a few family secrets. This all takes place while she’s living during the apartheid era in South Africa. It’s a stretch for my usual sketchy novels but I think it will be a great read.” We hope she isn’t coming down with something.
Pat Tone the Leader of Team Tone says "on the recommendation of a patron, I started reading Come to the Edge: a Memoir by Christina Haag. The memoir captures the friendship and five year romance between the author and John F. Kennedy JR. It is lovingly written and the author gives us a rare glimpse into the personal life of John F. Kennedy JR. as a teenager to his early years as an adult. "
Elisabeth of Team Tone Fame is reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. "It's a great non-fiction read about the American ambassador in Germany and his daughter during Hitler's rise to power in 1933. You can tell that a lot of detailed research went into the creation of this book, but it reads like a story!"
I read The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai this week. Lucy Hull is a children’s librarian who perhaps cares a bit too much about her young patrons. When she realizes that 10 year old Ian is about to be packed off to an evangelical “re-education” center because his parents feel he is on the fast track to becoming a friend of Dorothy the two hit the road. This is a quick, light, fun read peppered with all sorts of kid lit references, shady Russians, and a lovely little hair care product called Ferret-Glo.
We wish you a lovely long weekend filled with book goodness and an utter lack of Ferret-Glo!
While we agree with you Henry, we also would argue that New Books are two of the words we also most like to hear!
Here are a few things to consider for your beach tote this month and while you are at it clear your calendar! Two of these authors will be coming to pay us a visit!
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is a wonderful read. When Katey and her roommate Eve first meet Tinker Grey it is 1938 New Year’s Eve in Greenwich Village. Tinker is suave, debonair and worldly. In short, everything Katey and Eve are not but desperately long to be. Katey and Eve should be careful about what they wish for. This is a great read that is as classic as a little black dress, a gin martini and a camel’s hair coat. Won’t you please join us on August 17th when Amor Towles comes to speak?
Madame Bovary’s Daughter by Linda Urbach answers the literary question of, “Gee whatever did happen to Berthe Bovary?” We know that her mother’s story ends very badly but what became of her daughter? Urbach weaves a delicious story around that premise while incorporating some of the most famous names of French culture such as Worth and Millet. This promises to be a fun and frothy summer read.
Oriental Wife by Evelyn Toynton introduces us to Rolf and Louisa, refugees from Hitler’s Germany who meet, fall in love and move to New York. But a freak accident shatters this ideal and eventually colors the world of their daughter. Can Old World views ever merge with a life in America?
Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard is her story in her words. Just in case you don’t know her story, she was kidnapped when she was 11 and for 18 years was forced to live a nightmare at the hands of a monster. Happily this ends with her winning back her freedom not just for herself but for her two children.
In this first novel Everything Beautiful Came After by Simon Van Booy, we meet Rebecca, the artist who has come to Athens to find herself. We also meet George, who has come to Athens to learn the languages of the ancients after spending his childhood and young adult years in boarding schools and Ivy covered walls. And we meet Henry who is an archaeologist who is not just uncovering the secrets of Athens’ past but also his own. On July 19th the author will be paying us a visit, and we hope you will join us for that.
Well Happy Summer (finally!)!!! Here is the latest installment with the usual shenanigans, hi-jinks and tom foolery!
Let us begin!
Jeanne is reading Myla Goldberg's The False Friend. She says, “ I had read Wickett's Remedy and Bee Season (with everyone else) and both were great. Now The False Friend tells a story of a young woman, a very successful professional, who suddenly remembers SOME of the details of a gruesome act that occurred when she was a teenager, 20 years ago. She was part of a group of highly competitive girls who were devastated when one of their group is abducted, or so they thought. Now her memory has been jogged by the sight of a red Volkswagen Beetle and she wants to go back to the scene of the crime in her hometown and tell all. “
Abby has had a change of perspective with her pick for the week which is “Bossypants by Tina Fey the Book on CD. “As I drive and listen to this audio book, I generally have a big smile on my face. When I see someone driving around looking like this, I usually assume they are crazy. Now when I see a smiling driver alone in their car, I think maybe, just maybe, they are not crazy, but actually listening to Bossypants. She is also working on The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler. She reports that ”This Swedish Crime novel by a husband and wife team is a big hit in Europe and has made it to some summer reads lists. It has all the elements fans of the genre look for: a gifted and contemplative detective, a serial killer, solid forensics, and lots of sandwiches. So far, so good.”
The lovely Priscilla, just back from some time on her beloved island is reading Wave by Susan Casey. “And what a ride it is. The planet's waters are changing and who knows this better than surfers. A climate change warning as our oceans produce more rogue waves. Where are they, why are they happening and where might they be targeting? Much of this story is told through the experiences of surfers. Something to ponder as you sit at the beach.”
Barbara M says that she “somehow missed A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson when it was first published but started it yesterday and am, as usual, loving his writing.”
Citizen Asha is back in the land of Flavia with the audio book of The Weed That String's the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley. She says “ It's the sequel to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie which I absolutely adored. I just started it so I haven't gotten into any sketchy details as yet, but I'm sure the sketchiness is around the corner. “
Pat has changed formats and says “I started reading 22 Britannia Road a few weeks ago and then put it down when a copy of the audio book came available. I am happy I waited for this audio book since the reader does a superb job. As you listen to this story you truly feel the depth of emotions of the characters, Janusz and Silvana. This young couple were separated during WW II for six years and when they were re-united they had to overcome the horrific effects of the war, as well as the secrets each character possessed to become a family again.”
I finished Everything Beautiful Began After this week. This beautifully written novel tells the story of 3 people who come together in Athens one summer . The author Simon Van Booy will be here at the library on July 19th at 7:00 and the book comes out on July 5th.
Have a great weekend!
In this week’s installment we see the usual suspects up to some unusual reading choices. We have fungus, a former Secretary of State, a rather sketchy way to make a living, a lack of amazement and a book that is absolutely destined to be a classic! There is even a Christopher Walken sighting!
Let us begin!
Abby reports,” It's a Battle of The Mushrooms, and I don't mean portabella versus oyster. The contemporary thriller Spiralby Paul McEuen takes place at Cornell University where the World's Leading Mycologist is working on a personal mission dating back to WWII. Pair a mysterious and deadly stranger with super-secret extra deadly spores, and there you go. It is so far, very Michael Crichton-esque. I've just met the hero so no opinion formed yet as to his abilities/likability.
Elizabeth says “This week I did Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. It was an audio book and it was ENDLESSLY ENTERTAINING. I'm not actually done with it yet and I hope it never ends because it makes driving such a joy. He does hilarious impressions of his childhood friends and actors he met growing up: among them: Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, and Tom Cruise! Even Christopher Walken is thrown in for good measure. It's brilliantly written, insightful, and funny. Also, for kicks, I read The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde. It's an oldie but goodie. So incredibly witty and intelligent- a very quick read too. I'm currently reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, and though it's very smart and somewhat entertaining, it's causing me to have an existential crisis so I don't think I'm going to finish it.”
Pat T. is a tad disgruntled this week. “I have just finished reading Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian and am still waiting to be amazed by this book! You have a young married couple with all the stresses of work and family, add to this feelings of abandonment (on the part of the wife) and the reappearance of an old flame and it all wraps up way to neatly. “
Jeanne is working on many things at once. “I am reading The Language of Baklava and enjoying it. Being someone who loves recipes and from an Italian family that loves to cook, eat and share recipes, I found authentic feeling in Diana Abu-Jaber's memoir filled with clever stories that tell of her growing up half Arab-American in Syracuse, NY and Jordan and her struggle to fit in either place, both with her parents and neighbors. The recipes add to the emotional landscape in a romantic, yet practical way. I am also listening to Condoleezza Rice's Extraordinary, Ordinary People A Memoir of Family while driving. I appreciate her simple, honest style of relating her story of growing up in Alabama as a black, middle class, only child of educated, loving parents who strive to offer her the best in education and culture, but who did not have choices in the schools they sent her to and who could not take her to dinner in the local restaurants. One can see how Rice grew into a smart, driven politician.”
Asha has hit a worrying new low this week with her choice. She wants us all to know that “ I am currently reading Rotters by Daniel Kraus. I am enjoying it so far, the main character is fearful of his mother dying and when she does he is shipped off to live with his estranged father who happens to be a grave robber. His father offers to teach him the trade; at first he is hesitant which is silly! Grave robbing is honest work!”
Your new thing learned for the week? Grave robbing can be considered a trade.
When Nora R. (her real name, really) asked me if I had read the new Russell Banks yet I had to tell her it was not even in my pile. She insisted and as Nora is someone who I trust when it comes to Book Goodness I moved it to the top. Lost Memory of Skin is an amazing piece of work. Banks tells us the story of The Kid, a young man who is homeless and on probation for a sex crime. The Professor is just that. A professor of sociology at the local college who wants to use The Kid as a subject for his research into homelessness among convicted sex offenders. Banks has made these two incredibly flawed characters two people who you really end up caring about. Honestly? This is a slow motion train wreck. I know it will not end well. But I have to slowly savor each word and sentence. It will be out in October.
Have a lovely weekend!
Greetings All! Here’s hoping you all have not burst into flames!
In this week’s edition we have some things that are here and some things that have not yet arrived for you to add to your hold list. And as always we have a little something from The Citizen that makes us more than afraid for her and ourselves.
Let us begin!
In the not yet arrived category, Abby logs in with Cocktail Hour Under The Tree Of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller. “This is the enjoyable follow-up to Fuller's popular memoir Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight which follows her life growing up Africa. Her eccentric British family (to say the least) creates a jumbled home life as white Africans in a war torn continent. This sequel explores the most interesting character in the first book, Fuller's mom, Tub. It also successfully expands on the appeal of living rough while surrounded by pain and danger. Mental illness or "the wobblys" is also a key theme in the Fuller Family. "High strung" is the preferred expression thank you very much.” It is due out August. Call the Welcome Desk at 669-5239 and we will be happy to put it on hold for you.
Citizen Asha wants us to know that while “Most people are fascinated by Will & Kate, not I said the Citizen.I am fascinated by the horrid, sketchy, and downright depraved members of the royal families such as good ole' Vlad III who delighted in impaling his enemies, thus I am thoroughly enjoying Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds by Leslie Carroll. Thanks for that Asha. We were worried about you after your almost normal choice last week! Again, if you are interested, please call us at 669-5239 and we will be happy to accomodate you!
Pat says “I have just started reading 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson and know that I will enjoy it because it is a historical fiction novel about a young family dealing with love, loss and the horrors of World War II.”
Barbara M. is “enjoying The Arrogant Years: One Girl's Search for her Lost Youth from Cairo to Brooklynby Lucette Lagnado. It’s the continuing story of her Jewish family’s escape from Egypt. So far this book is focused on her mother. It promises to be just as good as The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit.”
I finished the wonderful Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh this week. The Victorians developed a whole symbolic language with flowers. This language is the only one that Victoria Jones trusts after a spending her first 18 years in the foster care system. Will she be able to use this language to build a future for herself and will it help her heal her scarred heart? I loved this read and I highly recommend it to all you Book Groups out there looking for a fun read. It will be released in August. Again, please call us at 669-5239 to reserve your copy.
Currently I am reading The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal. This is a fascinating look at a man who totally reinvented himself and got people to believe in him and his lies and deceit. One complaint though. You can tell the author Is Not From Here. He is constantly referencing the fact that our boy Clark never wore socks with his Topsiders. Enough said.
Have a great weekend!
This week’s installment shows us up to our same old tricks. Someone will scare you, someone is fascinated by one family’s totally demented dysfunction, and another is searching out the beautifully written. And the other thing you can always count on is that you will find something here that will make your weekend reading wonderful.
Let us begin!
Ann is reading Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, She want us to know that she is “thoroughly enjoying, especially reading an historical fiction account of a Native American in the 1600's. Generally not a time period I read much of unless it's of British kings and queens. It’s a terrific read.”
Barbara M. who has a fabulous new chaise and is not at all shy about letting all know about how vastly it has improved her reading time reports she is reading “One Hundred Names For Love by Diane Ackerman. In writing about the stroke which left her husband, also a writer, without words Ackerman combines scientific insight and poetic images. I love her writing.”
Pat is working her way through The Moment by Douglas Kennedy in it Pat says, “ A fifty year old travel writer, who is recently divorced, attempts to move on with his life by purchasing a home in rural Maine. While there he flashes back 25 years to the time he lived in Berlin, met and fell in love with a young woman from East Berlin. Kennedy is great at developing complex characters with a lot of emotional baggage. Good Read!”
I am reading The Memonry of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift and My Fanily's Legacy of Infidelities by Katherine Weber. The title really says it all but what it doesn’t say is how funny and beautifully written this story is. For those of you working on In the Garden of the Beasts, guess who makes an appearance in this book as a lover of the author’s father? That’s right! Martha Dodd. Because it would appear she was more of a round heeled woman than Erik Larson ever dreamed!
Citizen Asha is reading “Hold Me Closer, Necromancerby Lish McBride. It's a darkly funny, paranormal novel. Samhain Corvus LaCroiz (who wouldn't want that name?) leads a pretty normal, working at a fast food place when a prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a lovely man really, he just happens to be the head necromancer in Seattle as well as a raving homocidal lunatic. Little does Sam know that he's also a Necromancer, too bad Douglas is not a fan of competition. Let the dark, sketchy and quite gory fun begin! “
Yup. That’s our Asha.
We are taking a two week break because we will be at Book Expo America next week. For those who are not in the know, this is a huge event in which all the publishers come together for a week and give us books. It is truly the high point of our year.
Maybe by then the sun will be out?
Actually Al, we beg to differ on that. We are still waiting for Spring to happen here on the Tundra. May wasn’t much but we are forever hopeful that some fabulous beach weather is right around the corner.
Here is what we wish for your beach bag this month!
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones is a wonderful read. How can you ignore a book with this as an opening line, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.” These are the words of his secret daughter, Dana as she tells the story of her family, and that of her half sister Bunny. While their father does all that he can to insure that the two never meet, they do and let us just say that things do not end well. Jones’ writing is amazing and you will really come to love both girls.
Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister is one that we are looking forward to. Her collection of connected short stories, The School of Essential Ingredients, is a real Desketeer favorite. A cancer survivor throws a dinner party for 5 of her closest girlfriends. With a toast she dares them to confront the one thing that has terrified each of them and she will choose it for them. We love this premise and can’t wait to dive in.
Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen promises to be a delicious summer read. When the father of the family dies under mysterious circumstances, the Fleming family leaves Bonn for the Scottish Hebrides. Once there they each deal with their grief in different ways but it soon becomes apparent that Dad may have been up to some pretty shading dealings in the Diplomatic community and that their very lives could be in danger.
The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai looks like it will become one of our favorites. When a precocious 10 year old Ian ropes his favorite librarian Lucy into helping him escape the plans his over bearing mother has made for him, it turns out that an adventure is just what they both needed. And yes, the title is from the classic children’s book The Borrowers.
We wish you a joyous June!
In this week’s installment the Desketeers reveal really what they are all about. Have you been paying attention? See if you can match the reader with the book!
This week’s participants are: Abby, Asha, Pat T., Barbara M., Elizabeth and myself!
One of our Merry Band who is particularly fond of the City of Light is finally reading The Paris Wife after much cajoling. She reports, “The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. Is a thoroughly engrossing fictionalized version of Hadley and Ernest Hemingway’s life in Paris in the 1920s. Although I know the ending I don’t want it to end.”
Another one of us is enjoying a book that has gotten a lukewarm reception from some of the other Desketeers in the past. “ In The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown., the Andreas sisters, Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia were named for great Shakespearean women by their Father, a Professor of Shakespeare and each sister is in search of her own identity. I think this is a great beach read book - light, yet interesting!”
One of our resident mystery freaks is reading The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming. “In his debut novel, Cumming does a smooth job of exploring a new angle on the Trinity spy ring. A good opportunity to learn about the British spy scandal in a fictional and fast paced setting. The factual background is so interesting; it's hard to believe it is based on fact. Good tradecraft for espionage fans. Let's see how Cumming develops as a writer.”
Another one of us has just finished This Life is in your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres and a Family Undone by Melissa Coleman. “The author’s rather unusual upbringing amongst back- to-land utopia seekers in the 60’s and 70’s is told with style and grace that is a great feat when one is writing about naked hippies harvesting vegetables. “
One of our Young Ones is reading and listening. She reports, “I’m reading Matched which is a YA book about a dystopian society that exists sometime in the future after global warming destroyed the earth (not kidding). I'm listening toI Still Dream About You by Fannie Flag, which is nice to listen to because she has a great reading voice but the plot leaves something to be desired.
And finally if you can’t match the appropriate Desketeer with the book on this one I can’t help you. “I'm pushing through Punkzilla by Adam Rapp, it's a fascinating novel filled with interesting if not disturbing characters with funky names i.e. "Buck Tooth Jenny" ...you don't want to know what she does for a living..just saying! The novel is about 14 year old Jamie aka Punkzilla who while kicking a mean meth habit is writing letters to his older brother Peter, a gay playwright who's dying of cancer.”
Yup. Still frightened. Still afraid.
Have a great weekend!
Welcome to Friday! Here is what is in the book bag/on the nightstand/coffee table.
Asha is reading Heads You Lose by David Hayword and Lisa Lutz. Asha reports, “Lutz wrote the Spellman Files which I loved so I thought I should give her new book a chance. It's going well so far. Siblings Lacey and Paul find a headless body in their backyard, talk about awkward!”
Elizabeth read Bent Road by Lori Roy. “This book freaked me out in a major way and I loved every minute of it. You’ll be sleeping with the lights on but it’s worth it!”
Pat is enjoying The Paris Wife. “This is a fictional account of Hemingway's young life, married to his first wife, living a bohemian life in Paris and struggling with his writing career.”
I am reading The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley. This beautifully written memoir recounts a young family’s time in two very foreign countries: China and the Land of Cancer. Conley’s writing is stark and lean without being cold.
Barbara M. just finished The Girl in the Song: The True Stories Behind 50 Rock Classics by Michael Heatley and Frank Hopkinson. It tells of the inspiration behind songs such as "Sweet Caroline", "Peggy Sue" and 48 others.
Barbara M. reports that she is reading an advance of Jennet Conant’s new book on the OSS entitled A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS. She feels it’s not great but “alright”. It is due out on April 5th.
Pat is reading Empty Family: Stories by Colin Toibin. She describes it as “ a collection of short stories that are tied together by the character’s examination of loss and love in their relationships.”
Warren is reading InfinityBeach by Jack McDevitt. He is only 30 pages in though and so is withholding opinion just yet.
Abby is reading one of her favorites Jasper Fforde One of our Thursdays is Missing.
I am loving Bent Road by Lori Roy. It is a very gothic look at community in the Kansas Plains.