Book Event

Saturday, December 7, 2013

An Oldie But Most Certainly A Goodie!

SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Every so often you come across a book that draws you in so completely that you don’t want to leave the characters or setting. Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and its two sequels entranced me; Jean Auel’s Earth’s children series beginning with the Clan of the Cave Bear likewise was enthralling.

And now Shadow of the Wind has taken its place as one of my favorite books. The New York Times review "Gabriel García Márquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges for a sprawling magic show” only begins to hint at all the intrigue, the wonderful language and the richness of the novel.

In 1950’s Barcelona, Daniel Sempere is 10 years old when he is taken by his bookseller father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a massive sanctuary where books are guarded from oblivion. Daniel is allowed to have one book to protect; he selects The Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax. He reads it, loves it, and soon learns it is both very valuable and very much in danger because someone is determinedly burning every copy of every book written by the obscure Carax.

The story will move back and forth from Julian Carax’ own history years before and that of Daniel. Many parallels weave their threads between the two stories, each as thrilling and fascinating as the other.

There are many totally original and unforgettable characters that will remain with you long after you have closed the book. And, if you have been to Barcelona or have planned to go there, the author enriches the book further at the end with a guided tour of all the places in the novel. 

Highly, highly recommended!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Aspies in Love

Asperger Syndrome sits high on the autism spectrum scale.  Characterized by low social skills and restricted interests, men with this diagnosis are not usually featured as fictional romantic heroes.  But something now has changed, as we see in two new novels; The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, and Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson.  Both of these books involve a mystery that must be solved by DNA analysis and conveniently both men happen to be genetic scientists.  But this is where the resemblance ends.
In The Rosie Project, Don Tillman is tired of wasting time on first dates that end in catastrophe.  While he knows that he wants to be married, he also wants to be assured a suitable mate, so he narrows his criteria to a 16 page survey that will guarantee perfection.  Rosie Jarman, a part-time bartender and doctoral candidate in psychology, is totally not a contender for Tillman’s wife project.  But she brings an interesting genetic puzzle for him to unravel-her father could be one of many men in her mother’s life and she wants to know which one he is.  Hilarity ensues and sparks fly!
More of a traditional romance, Someone Else’s Love Story begins with a shooting in a convenience store.  Shandi Pierce, a single mother, is trapped in the stockroom of a store with her young son, the store clerk and several customers.  The gunman botched a robbery and has decided to take hostages at gunpoint to negotiate with the police.  One of the customers, a very strong and handsome man, takes over and calms the situation, but is shot in the process.  Shandi feels responsible for him and tries to nurse him back to health.  She would like a romantic relationship but he can’t seem to get over the loss of his loved ones in a tragic car accident.  She also has a mystery that she wants him to unravel-who was the guy at the frat party who fathered her son?  Dubbed "Dr. Au-tastic" by his childhood (and only) friend, William Ashe has a hard time making sense of social interaction.  However, even he can see that Shandi wants more from him than his scientific opinions.  Will they find happiness together or will his past overwhelm their future?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Past Meets Present

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett

Retired antiquarian bookseller Peter Byerly has withdrawn from his life and has fled to England after the death of his beloved wife.  One day he wanders into a bookstore and discovers, in the pages of an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, a Victorian watercolor portrait of a woman who strongly resembles his dead wife.  Searching for the origins of this painting he stumbles upon a rare manuscript and soon finds himself in danger.  On the run, he tries to authenticate the work that may answer the age old question –did Shakespeare write the plays credited to him?

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

After her twin brother dies from AIDS and her lover leaves her for another woman, Greta Wells is depressed.   Undergoing electroshock therapy she finds the procedure has a shocking side effect. After each treatment she awakes in a different time period- 1918, 1941 and the present - and in each time period she lives a different life with different struggles, losses and joys.  As she becomes more involved in these alternate lives, she tries to make changes and starts to wonder - which life should she choose for her own?

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan

 In the Artic, Kate Philo makes an extraordinary find -a man who has been frozen since the early 1900s. Erastus Carthage who has had success in reanimating small sea creatures brings the man back to life despite being unable to keep his previous subjects alive for longer than twelve days. This amazing event causes a media frenzy and has wide ranging implications in the political, religious and scientific communities.  Meanwhile the frozen man wakes and learns about his new world, protected by Dr. Philo who sees him as a human being not a scientific specimen.  As the clock ticks downs, as protests increase, as relationships develop and as accusations of fraud begin to fly - what will happen to this man from the past?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Deeply suspenseful new fiction by accomplished writers. Try them!

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson 

Imagine being born, living part of your life, dying prematurely and then being reborn to live that life over again. In that new life you have premonitions that help you avoid pitfalls you encountered in your former life. But then some other catastrophe befalls you and you are once again reborn to relive your life over and over again.

Imagine this happening during World War II and knowing what devastation Hitler has inflicted on the world. What if you could stop him before his plans become a reality?

These two themes as well as others intertwine to create a totally original book that will leave the reader in awe of Kate Atkinson, the author of Started Early, Took My Dog, a Novel and Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Totally different than her prior books, she has been widely praised for this wonderful novel. Booklist Magazine writes: “ From her deeply human characters to her comical dialogue to her meticulous plotting, Atkinson is working at the very top of her game. An audacious, thought-provoking novel from one of our most talented writers.”

The Dinner by Herman Koch

What an interesting book this is! As the story is told by the narrator Paul Lohman, we begin to distrust him and wonder whether he is telling the truth.

Taking place totally within the context of one dinner in a restaurant, Paul, his brother and their wives discuss their teenage sons. The boys have done something terribly wrong and as the book unfolds, we become privy to exactly what has happened. The reader is left to slowly understand and a sense of horror builds inexorably to the ending.

Fans of Stephen King and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (soon to be a major movie) will especially relish this absorbing story.  Plan to not be able to put this book down until you finish!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Suggestions

 Ever wonder what it would be like to be Justin Bieber, or any other child singing sensation?  Sure you’re rich, but you’re also only 11, you’re secluded from others your age, and you must follow your mom’s draconian rules.  This is the strange world of the “angel of pop” as portrayed in The Love Song of Johnny Valentine by Teddy Wayne. Johnny or “JV” as the press refers to him, is singing in 30 cities over 46 days to promote his new single “Guys vs Girls.”  When he’s not performing, he’s either being homeschooled or on lockdown in his hotel room where he incessantly plays his video games.  His mom is often out living the high life so his companion is his bodyguard who stresses how easy it would be for him to be kidnapped and abused.  His father is not in the picture, but unbeknownst to mom, Johnny knows how to contact him and plans to make their reunion the finale of the big show in Madison Square Garden.  Preternaturally wise in the ways of music and business, Johnny has a lot to learn about being a regular kid and his lessons are to begin now.

In The Expats, a thriller by Chris Pavone, a woman with a secret CIA past is persuaded by her husband to relocate to Switzerland so that he can pursue a lucrative investment banking opportunity.  She willingly moves her family abroad so that she can live as a regular mother and neighbor in the Swiss expat community and not have to be reminded of the things she did in The Agency.  But things aren’t going the way she planned-her husband is getting very tight-lipped and secretive and her new neighbors seem to know more about her marriage than she does. Filled with twists and turns, red herrings, and shocking revelations, this book must be read twice to get the full effect.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Two you won't want to miss!

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. Dorrie doesn’t know whose funeral it is and trusts that it must be important if she is being asked to do this.

Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle's guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.

Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship. They are friends. But Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son's irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her.

As we join these two women on their journey secrets are slowly revealed that will keep the reader guessing until the unexpected ending.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Desperate housewife Bernadette Fox is a woman on the verge. She’s in a vicious feud with a hysterical neighbor, her damp and neglected house is crumbling, she is disdained by the other mothers at her daughter’s school, and she hates the city where she lives. Only her cherished 15-year-old daughter, Bee, loves her unconditionally. Bernadette finally goes over the edge when she discovers that her husband, Elgie, a Microsoft hotshot, is trying to get her committed to a mental institution. She climbs out of the bathroom window and simply disappears. And yet this is a woman who in her younger days was hailed was a brilliant architect, the winner of a ‘genius’ award. So how did it all go wrong? The truth emerges as Bee’s search to find her missing mother takes her to one of the world’s remotest spots.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A New Way of Eating

If you train at a Cross Fit gym, you are usually encouraged to give Paleo a try. The Paleo way of eating can be a bit restrictive as it emphasizes whole, natural foods. Meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit and nuts are delicious by themselves, but it’s great to read some cookbooks that show how to combine these foods to add variety to your meals. Here a few of the books in the Library’s collection and we have many more…come check them out!

The Paleo Diet Cookbook is written by Dr. Loren Cordain, whose book, The Paleo Diet, began the whole movement. It includes 150 simple recipes for delicious and Paleo-friendly breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners, snacks, and beverages.

Sarah Fragoso’s new title, Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook: RealFood for Real Life, features recipes that she cooks for her entire family. Since it has to be yummy or the kids won’t touch the food, the reader is assured some great tasting meals.

Mark Sisson’s two cookbooks, The Primal Blueprint Cookbook and The Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals:Delicious Primal-Approved Meals You Can Make in Under 30 Minutes, are filled with well thought out primal recipes that can easily be adapted to pure paleo.

For something really different try Melissa Joulwen’s Well Fed. She shows how to make a basic recipe and then gives further tips on how to spice each dish up in several other ways. She goes beyond standard American cooking and incorporates international ingredients in her fare. She is also the author of the newest Paleo title, Living Paleo for Dummies.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bodies in the Backyard

These three compelling but different books all start with a body (or two) in the backyard.

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

 “Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved”- Thus begins this darkly comic novel set in Glasgow. Life with her drug addicted, neglectful parents has made bright but troubled Marnie older than her years and determined to keep her odd younger sister, Nellie, out of the system after she finds her parents dead.  Struggling to get by, they form a tentative bond with Lennie, the gay old man next door, who has problems of his own. Soon however the life they have built together starts to unravel as people come looking for their parents. Told from the perspective of three flawed but sympathetic characters this novel is both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

Three Graves Full by Jami Mason

Mild-mannered Jason Getty has a big problem; his gardeners have discovered two bodies in his front yard.   While anyone would be distressed by this, Jason is especially unnerved since elsewhere on his property is the grave of the man he killed.  With the police on the scene, Jason knows his secret won’t stay buried long and devises a desperate plan to hide his crime –one that leads to more trouble than he dreamed.  Throw in an angry, grieving woman, a twin with secret, suspicious detectives and a loyal police dog and you have this well written thriller.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Returning to the family farm for her mother’s 90th birthday, successful actress Laurel Nicolson’s memories of a summer when she saw a man lying dead in their yard after being stabbed by her normally loving and gentle mother are re-awakened.  Determined to find truth, Lauren begins to delve into her mother’s past and the secrets that she has been keeping.  With plenty of twists and turns, this intriguing novel follows both Lauren on her quest to find answers and her mother’s life in World War II London.