Sunday, October 23, 2016

The bookshop on the corner

The bookshop on the corner / Jenny Colgan 347 pgs.

Nina's library is closing because library service is changing...the large branch downtown is going high tech and there isn't the need for the smaller branches.  Although not a risk taker by nature, Nina decides to forge a new path rather than fight to keep a job that she won't like at the library.  Nina's strength is matching a book and reader.  She decides to open a bookshop and can only afford a van that she can drive around, parking to allow customers to shop.  She finds the perfect van in Scotland and makes the trip to the small town of the seller to complete the purchase.  It is only after she has bought that it becomes clearer that the city won't let her park the van anywhere and getting the equivalent of a business license is difficult.  Back in the Scottish town, everyone is excited about the idea of the mobile bookshop.  The last book store closed years ago as had their library.  You see where this is going...Nina takes the plunge and leaves the city to relocated to this new foreign place where the air is fresh and the people friendly.  She begins matching people with books and trying to find a match for herself as well.  This is a love story to librarians...talking about the importance of reading and how to find a good book.  Also included is a more traditional love story, an awakening of a character who realizes what life is about.  Some parts are bit predictable and silly but for someone who loves a little readers advisory, it is great.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

236 Pounds of Class Vice President

236 Pounds of class vice president / Jason Mulgrew 225 pgs.

Patrick reviewed this book here.  I would add that it was funny and enjoyable and relateable.  I'm guessing there are very few of us who escaped insecurity and doubt as teenagers. It is just part of the package.  Jason Mulgrew seems to have had a very normal time as a teen.  He puts a humorous spin on the silly things he did, silly things he thought, and the silly things he wore...but that class vice president campaign sounds genius.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

The girl with the lower back tattoo

The girl with the lower back tattoo / Amy Schumer 323 pgs.

Amy Schumer is big now but she seems perfectly aware it may not last and she is ok with that...why?  because she doesn't base her self worth on something fleeting like fame.  She seems to have a real idea of her strengths, her weaknesses, and she is mighty ok with all of them.  She may overshare a bit and clearly has no problem discussing her sex life, her family, her body, and how little she gives a shit about what other people say.  She has made mistakes (the tattoo in the title, for starts) and acknowledges that she will make many more.  Another thing is that ok.  If you have seen her television show or her stand-up performances and liked them, you will probably like this book.  Not every story here is funny but there are more "deep thoughts" and personal moments than I expected.  Although there is a bit of filler material (sorry, you can't just reproduce your journals from years ago and pretend like you wrote a book), much of what you read seems to be real experiences and reactions...warts and all.

Still life

Still Life / Louise Penny 312 pgs.

Chief inspector Armand Gamache is called in on a murder case in Three Pines.  Jane Neal, a nice "little old lady" is found dead in the woods in what seems like a hunting accident.  She is a popular woman in the village so there is little doubt about the fact that this is an accident.  Inspector Gamache and his team spends time in the village and as you expect, find there is more than meets the eye to the town, its inhabitants, the victim, and this case.

A very enjoyable mystery.  I understand why this series is so popular.  I will certainly read on.

Love Songs from a Shallow Grave

Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill 326 pp.

Three unusual murders of young women have Lao national coroner, Dr. Siri Paiboun, busy. All three were single and murdered with a fencing epee. The three also had a "Z" carved into their bodies (yes, like Zorro). There doesn't seem to be a connection between the three and this is the first time Dr. Siri has encountered deaths of this kind. Dr. Siri and Officer Phosey manage to solve the murders and a suspect is arrested to stand trial but have they arrested the right murderer? Dr. Siri is captured while on a diplomatic mission to Cambodia/Kampuchea and comes face to face with the horrors of the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields. Side stories about Nurse Dtui and Officer Phosey's marriage as well as Mr. Geung's new hairstyle and his upset at the hiring of another hospital staffer with Down's Syndrome.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, 377 pages

Percy Jackson has always had a knack for getting in trouble, and when he's 13, he finally figures out why: he's a demigod, son of a mortal woman and a Greek god. This book kicks off the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and is full of tidbits of Greek mythology, goofy humor (one description of malfunctioning flying shoes sent my son into a 20-minute fit of laughter), and PLENTY of action. A fun series, and we'll keep reading it!

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman, 274 pages

Though she grew up in California, Blair Braverman had an innate desire for colder climates, specifically the Arctic. In Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, Braverman recounts her experiences as an exchange student to Lillehammer, Norway; her education in sled-dog care and mushing at a folk school in the far north of Norway; her summers working at a dog-sledding tourist trap on a glacier in Alaska; and finally, her extended visits to a small town in northern Norway, where she creates a home away from home among the shepherds, fishermen, and shop owners. The book is, in turn, funny, unsettling, peaceful, and fiery, and at each turn shows how deeply the Arctic Circle is rooted in Braverman's soul. It's a wonderful book, and well worth reading.

The Summer Before the War

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson  479 pp.

While this story begins before the start of World War I, it encompasses a large part of the war also, so I am rather perplexed by the title. In 1914, young, well educated, and essentially penniless Beatrice Nash arrives in the East Sussex town of Rye to become an outrageous oddity, a woman Latin teacher at the local school. Such a thing has not been experienced in this small town with an overactive gossip machine. Beatrice just wants to teach her students and spend her free time writing. Soon the gossips have much more interesting fodder in the Belgian refugees that are brought in after Germany invades their country.  Beatrice develops an interest in the son of her sponsor, a young man who is an aspiring surgeon, currently enamored of his mentor's daughter. What begins as a light story of small town residents and class differences and prejudice turns darker with the advent of the war. Not a family, rich or poor, is left unscathed by the conflict. This novel is a well written and highly detailed tale of an important part of England's history.

Something Fresh

Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse  256 pp.

This is the first of the "Blandings Castle" stories that take place in and around the home of the dotty Lord Emsworth. Freddie Threepwood, the son of Lord E. is engaged to the daughter of an American millionaire. The millionaire collects valuable ancient Egyptian scarabs. Lord Emsworth absent mindedly slips the most valuable one into his pocket and upon finding it later believes he was gifted with it and displays it in his home. A hack writer of mystery novels is hired to pose as the millionaire's valet and given the task of stealing back the scarab during a visit to the castle. The usual Wodehouse style bumbling occurs and one can see hints of the silliness so common in the soon to be written Jeeves and Wooster tales.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to party with an infant, by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Cleverly written and sharply observant of the mores of upper-income San Franciscans (the only kind that can even begin to afford to live there), Hemmings novel centers on single mom, Mele, and her toddler daughter, Ellie.  When Mele announced to the father of the baby that she was pregnant, he in turn revealed that he was engaged.  Her decision to have the baby despite his desertion could only have been made remotely possible with the off-camera financial help of her parents.  She seems, throughout the book, to be without other visible means of support yet somehow lives in one of the world’s most expensive places.  After some false starts, through the “San Francisco Mommy Club” Mele finds a congenial “play group” of other moms, and one dad, who meet at a local park.  My enjoyment of the book was seriously limited by my lack of sympathy for the various “First World Problems” that concern all of them.  223 pp.