Book Event

Monday, December 7, 2009

No One's Indispensable

In The Unit, Ninni Holmqvist posits a country that mandates free lodging, food, and recreation for all men and women who are past child-bearing age and have still not procreated. However there is a catch. In order to be useful to their communities, all of these "dispensable" people are required to serve as guinea pigs for health experiments, and to have their tissues and organs harvested when needed, making the "ultimate sacrifice" as heart and lung donors. On her 50th birthday, writer Dorrit Weger enters the Second Reserve Bank and is shown her apartment. At the nightly welcoming party, she meets several like-minded people and begins to enjoy new friendships created through proximity and mutual interests. Since she is very physically fit and youthful, she is first assigned to a study measuring the effects of exercise on older women. But while she participates in this study, her friends start having health problems related to their assignments, and some of them disappear. Surprisingly, she falls in love with one of the men in her unit and the resulting complications threaten the whole equilibrium of this government program.
The Unit is a chilling peek at logic gone awry-Holmqvist creates a very believable future where the rights of individuals are suspended for the good of the public. Expect discussions to be heated.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Have to Admit...

Portia Nathan's job is to read high school applications for Princeton University throughout the school year, and help decide which applicants get the coveted slots and which applications get shredded and burned. As the admissions process continues, her life unwinds...she loses her unmarried lover to a woman willing to have his baby; her radical 60's mother views sheltering a pregnant teenager as a second chance to successfully mold a daughter; and the remnants of a college affair come back to haunt her. Portia is given the opportunity to right some wrongs from her past, but will she have the courage to do what needs to be done? In Admission, Korelitz, author of Sabbathday River, mines her experiences as a Princeton admissions officer to offer a novel of secrets and consequences. Also, the reader gets a peek into the competitive world of college admissions and may obtain some pointers on structuring a winning application.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Visit Venice in a wonderful new book!

Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato

The Glassblower of Murano takes place in both the present and the past in alternating chapters. Switching between modern-day and seventeenth-century Venice, Fiorato’s novel is an intriguing mix of history, mystery, art, music, poetry, romance, and politics.English artist Leonora Manin is hired as an apprentice glassblower in Murano, an island near the mainland of Venice. Her story interweaves with that of her ancestor, master glassmaker Corradino Manin, and the intrigue that surrounds him. Only by finding out what happened many years ago will Leonora find happiness.This book will appeal to romantics, to historical fiction aficionados and anyone who just loves a good story well told. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I like soup. Do you like soup?

The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry, is a story woven like Massachusetts Ipswich lace, it is intricate, complicated, and its imperfections and uneven texture make it extremely suspenseful and sometimes maddening. The story revolves around Towner Whitney, a 32 year member of an old, quirky New England family, who works as a script reader in California. She is summoned back to her hometown of Salem on the occasion of the disappearance of her favorite relative, Eva. The old woman runs a tearoom out of her house near the Salem Commons, and is expert at reading lace, a method of fortune-telling. When Towner returns, the police discover Eva's drowned body, and after the funeral she finds that she has inherited Eva's estate. While she decides how to cope with her new responsiblities, she starts spending time with local police detective Rafferty, who has been investigating Eva's drowning. Cal, black sheep of the Whitney family and former spousal abuser, has "found God" and has become an evangelist preacher, and leader of a congregation of misfits and ex-drug addicts. When one of Cal's congregants goes missing, Rafferty suspects that Cal and his followers were involved. While investigating both of the crimes, Rafferty delves into Towner's history of psychic events, hallucinations, and her stay in a mental hospital. The return of Towner Whitney to Salem begins the process of truth, healing, and peace, that Eva's death set in motion.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Before CSI There Was...

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective
by Kate Summerscale

In 1860, a three year old English boy disappears from his room in Road Hill House, where his nursemaid and younger sister sleep. He is later found with his throat cut in a privy and the case quickly becomes a media sensation. When local law enforcement fails to make progress, Scotland Yard sends the best of their eight detectives - Mr. Whicher- to investigate. This sparks a national fascination with detectives and inspires the detective fiction genre. Charles Dickens wrote his theories of the case to Wilkie Collins, who in turn based his Sgt. Cuff in The Moonstone upon Mr Whicher.

When the Scotland Yard Detective arrives at Road Hill he finds limited evidence, but a multitude of suspects and family secrets. When he accuses and arrests the boy's sixteen year old half sister of the crime, the tide of public opinion turns against him, refusing to believe a family member could commit such a crime. Mr Wilcher returns to London in disgrace, leaving the crime unsolved, until years later.

More then a true crime story, this is a fascinating peek into the lives and minds of middle class Victorian England as well as the society as a whole. The research is impressive and thoroughly documented with footnotes and references, but at the same time it is an enjoyable read.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

In a Colma

Mercer is a rookie cop, a straight arrow sort, who can quote "The Rule Book," chapter and verse. His beat is Colma, California, the cemetery capital of the San Francisco Bay area. One night, while patrolling Cypress Lawn, he stumbles into what looks like a drug related crime involving a teenager. Mercer finds the boy naked and bound with duct tape, stuffed in a burial chamber in an obscure part of the cemetery. As the police rush the barely breathing boy to a hospital, Lilly Hitchcock Coit (of Coit Tower fame) observes the police cars and ambulances with interest. Though she is dead, she has not eaten the root of oblivion, and can still haunt the living world. As she passes, Mercer senses something not quite right, but sees nothing disturbing. Lilly is excited to note another potential "crosser," and hopes that he will be stronger than the last one. Can Mercer become the hero he desperately wants to be?
Doug Dorst in Alive in Necropolis spins a tale of trouble in the intertwined worlds of ghosts and humans with Mercer caught in the middle of both. The earthside story of Jude, the troubled youth found in the graveyard, blends with that of a deadly gang of ghosts bent on sending the spirits of the cemetery to their real deaths. Dorst skillfully creates two believable worlds of the imagination, using many of the old colorful characters who thrived in the crazy town of San Francisco. Strange and different, this is a book for readers who won't mind if their police procedurals are turned upside down.