Thursday, October 31, 2013

The coming of Bill

The coming of Bill by P. G. Wodehouse 208 pgs.

This is almost a serious story by Wodehouse, something I did not expect. Kirk is a confirmed bachelor living a wonderful bachelor life and sort of being an artist. He meets and falls for Ruth, a headstrong looker who is the daughter of a Wall Street lion. They elope and she gets cut out of her family. Kirk needs to support his family (little Bill comes along quickly) and ends up in a gold rush scheme with a friend which takes him to the jungle for a year. When he returns, he finds his father-in-law has died and Ruth was in the will so they are rich. But Ruth has really changed in his year away and little Bill is now being ruled by Aunt Lora and her crazy idea about germs. Kirk sticks around for awhile but realizes this isn't the life for him. His friend Steve make a move to nab little Bill and the family fortune fades under new management. In the end, he and Ruth find their way back to each other. Sure, there is a crazy aunt involved but not a lot of laughs. Still a lot of Wodehouse classic observations and explanations.

check our catalog

The Elixir of Immortality / Gabi Gleichmann, 757 pp.

Ari Spinoza, reaching the end of his life, obeys a sudden urge to record 1,000 years of family memories as transmitted to him through a great-uncle years ago.  The Spinozas appear Zelig-like throughout watershed moments in history, influencing the course of civilization from the sidelines.  One is at the Portuguese court at at the founding of that empire, another befriends Robespierre and plans the French Revolution, yet another provides the mathematical foundation for Einstein's work, and still one more hangs out with Hitler in Austria between the wars.  The famous one, philosopher and lens grinder, is there too, plus a bunch of others that I've already forgotten.  And that's the point.  700+ pages is long, but not enough to scan 1,000 years of history in a way that could make a reader care about any one of the individuals presented.  I like the sweep of history as much as the next person, but readers need to connect with characters along the way in order to feel the power of time's passage.


Book JacketSisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld, 448 pgs.

From Booklist:  Twin sisters Kate Tucker and Violet Schramm are at the heart of Sittenfeld’s  latest novel, which opens with a modest earthquake striking St. Louis. In the aftermath, Violet goes on television predicting that a much larger quake will hit the area, much to her sister’s horror. Kate has spent her life trying to shove aside the psychic abilities she and her sister share, choosing the safe confines of marriage and motherhood over nurturing her gifts the way Violet has. Violet’s prediction becomes national news, thrusting her into the spotlight and causing a mild panic in St. Louis. Kate finds herself under intense scrutiny as well, from acquaintances and even friends, including her husband’s colleague Courtney, a scientist who finds Violet’s prediction absurd. Sittenfeld alternates between the present and the past, revealing the Schramm sisters’ fraught childhood and complex relationship. A late-in-the-game twist makes the final pages fly, but the real strength of this moving story is Sittenfeld’s nuanced examination of the strength of familial bonds, whether they are between sisters or spouses.

Rot and Ruin

Book JacketRot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, 458 pgs.

2013 Gateway Readers Award Winner
From Booklist:   It’s been 14 years since First Night, when the dead came back to life. Six billion people have died (and reanimated) since then, and America has collapsed into isolated communities living within the great “Rot and Ruin.” Benny is 15, which means it’s time to get a job or face cut rations, but his general laziness leaves him with only one employment option: join his stuffy, sword-swinging, Japanese half-brother, Tom, as an apprentice bounty hunter. This means heading beyond the gates to slice and dice “zoms,” but Benny quickly begins to see the undead in a new light—as well as realizing that Tom is much more than he ever let on. The plot is driven by an evil bounty-hunter rival and the cruel games he plays.

Skinny Dip

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen  355 pp.

Marine biologist, Chaz Perrone, is inept at his profession and murdering his wife, Joey. The only thing he's good at is womanizing and since he threw his wife off a cruise ship even that is going wrong. Chaz is so inept at his profession he not only gets the direction of the current wrong, he also forgets Joey is an expert swimmer. She makes her way to a floating bale of marijuana and then floats to an island inhabited by an ex-cop. Together they plot to make Chaz's life miserable before they turn him over to the police for attempted murder. Add in a plot to hide everglades pollution, a large and very hairy bodyguard with a well hidden heart of gold, the crooked head of an agribusiness, more failed murder attempts, and a Florida detective who can't wait to move back to back to Minnesota and you have classic Hiaasen hijinks all the way. There is even a couple of brief appearances by Hiaasen's recurring character "The Captain" aka "Skink." It's not his best but not his worst either--just a fun light and entertaining story.

The Unwanteds

Book Jacket

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, 416 pgs.

A 2013 Mark Twain nominee, The Unwanteds has been described by Kirkus reviews as “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.”  When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill. Each year, all the thirteen-year-olds are labeled as Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds get more schooling and train to join the Quillitary. Necessaries keep the farms running. Unwanteds are set for elimination. 

It’s hard for Alex to leave behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted, but he makes peace with his fate—until he discovers that instead of a “death farm,” what awaits him is a magical place called Artimé. There, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are encouraged to cultivate their creative abilities and use them magically. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation. 

Central to the story is the unique occurrence that twins have been divided between Wanted and Unwanted.  As Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artimé that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate magical battle.

Monday, October 28, 2013

On the Noodle Road

On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta by Jen
Lin-Liu  388 pp.

Lin-Liu was living in China and running a cooking school when she decided to research the origin of noodles (no Marco Polo didn't bring them back to Italy from China). To do this she spent several months traveling the Silk Road from China through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, to Italy. On the way she ate her way through the noodle cuisines of many cultures, for the better and the worse. She was welcomed into peoples' homes to learn to fix a variety of noodle dishes. She did not find the origin of noodles but she did discover how closely related many dishes in the different cultures were to one another. Parts of the trip were made alone and part with her husband. I could have lived without the parts about her angst about her marriage and her ambivalence about her role as a wife in exchange for more about the different cultures she encountered. I listened to the audiobook version but now need to check out the book to see the recipes. 

Heads in Beds: a Reckless Memoir of Hotel, Hustles and So-Called Hospitality / Jacob Tomsky 247 pp.

This was a very hot title last year, and deservedly.  Jacob Tomsky graduates from college and takes a hotel valet position temporarily to get by.  Many years and lots of bizarre experiences later, he writes this memoir of his life in the luxury hotel industry.  There's loads of profanity, a fair amount of drug and alcohol abuse, and one hilarious anecdote after another. As far as power goes, this is a fabulous study.  Sure, the wealthy customer can degrade the bellman by insulting him and refusing to tip.  But what will that bellman do with his pillow/alarm clock/toothbrush once he's out of the room?  Now that's a power play. 
Tomsky is best when he makes the case for protecting the rights of hotel workers, and does a terrific job of portraying the frequent indignities of service work.  He's even-handed, too, showing us managers and customers in a flattering light when warranted.  I wish he had shown more interest in examining the foolishness of having able-bodied adults spend their lives carrying bags for people who don't need them to and then begging for tips like children.  A very fast, almost manic, read, and highly entertaining. 

Trail Fever

Trail Fever: Spin doctors, rented strangers, thumb wrestlers, toe suckers, Grizzley bears and other creatures by Michael Lewis 299 pgs.

Continuing on my quest to read everything Michael Lewis has written, this book covers the 1996 presidential campaign. Lewis had never covered a campaign before and was a bit flumoxed by the way things work...or don't work depending on how you look at it. Lewis uses his usual humor and doesn't hide his disbelief at some of the odd comings and goings. He travels with each of the candidates for awhile at least and is most taken by Morry Taylor, a business man who could probably actually straighten some things out. Of course he never had a chance. The favorite thing I learned from this book was about Alan Keyes' campaign that was not well funded. He and the campign staff would checkout of the hotel ahead of some other candidate and tell the hotel that the other candidate would be paying their bills. Brilliant! This book is a hoot and very fun for any political junkie.

 check our catalog

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Boomsday by Christopher Buckley 320 pgs.

Everyone knows Social Security is in trouble. Baby Boomers are aging quickly and the system is not able to pay out for all of them. Cassandra Devine has a great idea to fix this sytem...voluntary "transistioning" that includes tax breaks and subsidies. Yes, if the old people would just die, the system can continue. It is ALL voluntary, let me assure you. Cassandra is a wonderful character but is one of many in this book. Typical of Buckley's writing, the satire comes fast and furious. There is an ambitious senator who may be on his way to the White House, an evangelcal pro-lifer who may have killed his own mother and the mentor/boss who loves Cass like a daugher. Which is good because her own father has abandoned her and will play his part speaking out against her. Funny stuff!

 check our catalog

Breaking the surface

Breaking the surface by Greg Louganis 290 pgs.

Greg Louganis won 5 Olympic diving medals and probably would have had two more had it not been for the US boycott of the 1980 Olympics. He is one of the greats of the sport, a phenominal athlete with perfect form and record breaking scores. Through it all, however, he suffered from depression, great doubts and had many a hard time. It is sometimes hard to believe someone so accomplished could not enjoy his success. He also had a series of bad relationships that left him poorer and shaken by broken trust. Louganis has made great strides in later years and gotten the psychological help he needed and is in a good relationship. This isn't covered in the book (which was published in 1995) but I looked him up and found out things are going well for him.

check our catalog

44 Horrible Dates

44 Horrible Dates by Eddie Campbell 247 pgs.

Sure, there are some horrible dates here. The one where the date picks him up and doesn't get off his cell phone is my personal favorite. He did get off the phone in the movie theater at least. Eddie Campbell is not alone with some horrible dates and he doesn't claim to be. I also liked where he makes clear from the beginning that there is no happy ending. In the end he is still single and still looking for his next (possibly horrible) date.

check our catalog

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Falling into the Fire: a Psychiatrist's Encounters with the Mind in Crisis / Christine Montross 239 pp.

Montross is a young-ish practicing psychiatrist and very fine writer.  She presents case studies of various patients and delves into the ethical, financial, legal and emotional aspects of treating these patients.  In the most memorable portion, she describes in detail a young woman who visits the same emergency room on a very regular basis, always because she has swallowed dangerously sharp metal objects.  She cannot be cured of this behavior, seemingly, but her repeated treatments to remove the objects and stabilize her mentally are fantastically expensive and consume vast amounts of staff time and supervision.  Montross is not afraid to express her own vulnerabilities in the face of this and other challenging situations.  Fluid and fascinating.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Delilah Dirk the the Turkish Lieutenant

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff; graphic novel, young adult, adventure; 176 pages

Selim is a rather unsuccessful lieutenant in the Turkish army, whose greatest skill lies in making tea.  Then he meets Delilah Dirk, professional adventuress and all around troublemaker.  Delilah drags him kicking and screaming into her latest scheme, involving pirates, airships, and lots of sword fights. 

I don't use the word "swashbuckling" very often, but it seems really appropriate here.  Delilah and Selim are a great team (Delilah's give 'em hell attitude and Selim's straight-man personality are a great fit!), and the exotic locales (Constantinople, Greece, Turkey, and more) only add to the adventure.  There are some steampunk elements in the book (most notably Delilah's flying ship), but the story doesn't get overwhelmed with gadgets and tech the way that some things in that genre do.  Overall, this was a fast, fun read, and I can't wait to see more adventures from this pair. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Girl You Left Behind / Jojo Moyes 369 pp.

Wouldn't it be great to have a name like this author's?  "Hi, this is Jojo Moyes calling, and I was wondering if you would..."  Who could turn you down?

But seriously, this author of the lovely Me before You has written another charming book, this one set alternately in northern France during WWI and contemporary London.  Sophie becomes the object of obsession of the Kommandant in power in her small French village during the war.  The Kommandant wants Sophie, Sophie wants to be reunited with her husband at the front.  Each has power over the other. In the end, who will win?

Liv is in possession of a mysterious painting of a beautiful young French woman.  As her ownership of the piece comes into question, Liv is forced to learn more about this woman.  What became of her after she was painted during that long-ago war?  Some of the plot twists strain belief here, but the characters are absolutely true, and they make good company. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Boy on the Porch

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech, 151p.

This is a new novel by Newberry Award-winning author, Sharon Creech.

John and Marta live a quiet life in a farmhouse on the outskirts of a small town, until they come home one day to find  a young boy asleep on their porch.  John and Marta take the boy in, but he never speaks to them.  Instead, the boy communicates with them through art and by creating music with objects around the farm.  As their fondness of the boy grows, so does their concern that someday he will no longer be a part of their lives.  One thing is certain - even if his time with them is short, he changes their lives forever.

The Boy on the Porch is a delightful story.  I expected only a quick lunchtime read and tried rushing through pages, but as the end drew near my pace slowed.  I realized the magnitude of the impact one boy made on two people, and was touched by how they shared their experience with others.



Shine by Lauren Myracle, 359p.

Sixteen-year-old Cat has spent the past three years avoiding everyone in her mountain town of Black Creek, NC, but when her childhood friend, Patrick, becomes the victim of an apparent hate crime she must rebuild burnt bridges to carry out her own investigation.  As Cat pieces together the events leading to Patrick's violent attack, she learns secrets from the people she avoided all these years and is reminded of secrets from her own past.

Shine, a 2013-14 Missouri Gateway Award Nominee, is ideal for readers who are ready to explore more complex issues such as sexual abuse and tolerance in a small town community. 

Frame Work

Frame Work by Anne G. Faigen  253 pp.

An English professor and her grandmother travel to Prague for a conference where the professor is to present a paper. While sightseeing they purchase a small watercolor painting and discover a drawing hidden behind the painting. Upon investigation it appears to be done by Mary Cassatt and is possibly valuable. Then people begin dying and the women find themselves caught in the intrigue of artwork stolen by the Nazis during World War II and a network that is still trafficking in the contraband. As a mystery, this story was predictable. However, historical material about stolen treasures and about Hannah Senesh (Szenes) was well researched and presented in the context of the story.

Going Bovine

Going Bovine by Libba Bray  400 pp.

I started reading this when it first came out a few years ago but had to return it before I finished. I just got back to it and really enjoyed it. Sixteen year old Cameron Smith is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease a.k.a. bovine spongiform encephalopathy a.k.a. "Mad Cow" disease and is going to die, which sucks. He is given hope by Dulcie, a strange sort of punk angel who may or may not be a hallucination. She tells him there is a cure if he's willing to go find it. Cameron begins a trek of epic proportions with a dwarf named Gonzo, a yard gnome possessed by the Norse god Balder, fire giants, a jazz horn player, a rock band that disappeared in a black hole, a missing scientist, snow globes, and an MTV-like spring break party in Florida. I'm not going to give away the bittersweet ending.

The Burgess Boys

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout 320 pgs.

After loving the author's previous book, I was excited to listen to the audio of this book.  However, this one just didn't do it for me.  Talk about the dysfunctional families, the secrets, the horrible relationships among the family members but this book had nothing 'interesting'.  The Burgess Boys are Jim and Bob.  They sort of seem to hate each other and all of them have their own "issues."  The relationship between Jim and Bob is obviously the center of the book.  They still act like young kids to each other, name calling and pushing each other around seems common.  Their sister Susan is a sad-sack with a son who is kind of an outcast.  She still lives in the family home-town in Maine unlike her brothers who moved to New York City when they could.  The action that moves the story along is when Susan's son Zack gets into some  trouble and the brothers "come home" to help out.  There is some learning and growing by the end of the book but still nothing as great as Olive Kitteridge.

check our catalog

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Heart of Darkness of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
110 pages

This is my 3rd time reading this book.  I like it, and perhaps keep coming back to it, because it's one of the few books I've come across that tells a captivating and well written story that doesn't go on-and-on-and-on, which I appreciate because often times my attention wanes on long works.

Marlow is a seaman who contracts with a trading company to pilot a steamboat up a river in the jungles of Africa during Europe's imperialistic foray.  He encounters Kurtz, whose years trading in the jungle, away from all the conventions and establishments of "civilization" have left him untethered from traditional moral pretenses. It's a must read for those who have yet to pick it up.  

Instructions for a heatwave

Instructions for a heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell 289 pgs.

Is there anything better than well written novel about a family with secrets?  I wonder.  This is a great one about the Riordan family, Gretta and Robert and three adult children.  The story starts with Robert walking in disappearing.  The family has no idea where he might be or why he left.  The adult children, Michael Francis, Monica and Aoife come together after three years of not sharing the same space.  There are historic hurts and a lot of strange interactions to figure out before they even get down to the business of finding their father.  Oh boy, there are some fabulous family secrets that come out!  As I was running out of pages, I began to worry that this story would not be wrapped up, that I would be left with a mystery that would drive me insane!  I shouldn't have worried.  O'Farrell did a wonderful job with everything and I loved this family, each and every crazy one of them.

check our catalog

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days: Companion to the PBS Series by Michael Palin  262 pp.

In 1988 actor Michael Palin undertook a journey to recreate Phileas Fogg's fictional travels in the Jules Verne novel. Filmed for the BBC, it was broadcast in 1989 and later shown on PBS in the U.S. This book is the day by day diary of Palin's travels with his film crew, collectively known as Passepartout. He began the trip, as Fogg did, starting at the Reform Club and continuing by train, ship, balloon, foot, dog sled, and other methods of transport (except for aircraft). Although not as entertaining as the series, this was a light and fun read.

The Valhalla Exchange

The Valhalla Exchange by Jack Higgins  224 pp.

In April 1945 the Third Reich is defeated and the Germans are waiting for the Allies to overrun Berlin. Martin Borman, Hitler's secretary and evil henchman is making plans for his escape following the burning and burial of the remains of Hitler and Eva Braun. Part of the plot involves using five high profile prisoners as bargaining chips to negotiate for his freedom. The prisoners are kept at Schloss Arlberg and prepare for the arrival of either the Nazis who will certainly kill them or the arrival of Allied troops who will free them. For a $1.99 Kindle sale book, this was a winner.

Midnight Riot

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch 310 pgs.

Peter Grant is just finishing his training as a police officer and is waiting for his permanent assignment.  He works a bizarre murder and interviews a ghost.  Yes, you read that right, he talks to a ghost.  This is handled masterfully in the book.  Peter doesn't really believe in ghost and doesn't really want to tell anyone that he talked to one. Peter soon learns about a lot of supernatural things because he gets drafted into the unit that deals with such things.  It is a unit consisting of his commander and him.  He starts as an apprentice wizard, studies magic and things really move along for him.

Based on the supernatural element, this isn't my kind of book.  However, I really enjoyed this one very much.  Peter is a compelling character, a little bit of a smart-ass and just rolls with the punches.  I will certainly read the next in the series.
check our catalog


Zealot: the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan 296 pgs.

I listened to the audio version of this book because it came faster than the print copy which has significant holds.  I've read other books by Aslan and enjoyed them so fully expected to enjoy this one too.  The audio version is read by the author which, I think, gives interesting emphasis to his important points.  I like the way he admits that little can be known but much can be inferred from the historical records of the time.

I agree with Kathleen, this book gives you a lot to think about.  I'm leaving my print copy request active because I think I'll need to read over many parts to clarify many things that went too fast for me.  I am still very impressed with Reza Aslan.

check our catalog

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'm a Stranger Here Myself

I'm a Stranger Here Myself: notes on returning to America after twenty years away by Bill Bryson 288 pp.

Bill Bryson spent most of his adult years in England before moving back to the U.S. with his wife and kids. This book is a collection of articles he wrote for Night and Day magazine in England about the differences between American and British Life. He points out absurdities, excesses, difficulties, and serious problems that he encounters with humor and great insight. Included are a hilarious parody of I.R.S. instructions, a solution for the mad cow disease problem in England, ruminations on hotline phone numbers for things like dental floss, American holiday oddities, and the abundant stupidity of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The audiobook version of the book kept me amused and frequently laughing out loud during an otherwise tedious drive to Cleveland.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bleeding Edge

Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon  477 pp.

I wanted to like this book. And if I had read it instead of listening to the audiobook, chances are I would have. It has stuff I like in a novel: a wise-cracking snarky protagonist/Jewish mother/fraud investigator, a murder mystery, billionaire tech moguls, embezzlement, terrorists, Russian gangsters, black ops, secret agents, and a "deep web" virtual reality program (think Second Life but sinister) all in the time period just before and after 9/11. The story was all but destroyed by the narration of actress Jeannie Berlin who sounds like Penny Marshall doing Laverne on a bad day. Mispronounced words, weird inflections, and disjunctive sentences that stop and start as if she paused at the end of the line instead of the punctuation mark made this an unpleasant listening experience. Why did I keep listening? I don't really know. I deserve a cheroot, which is not pronounced chair-root. I encourage people to read, not listen to, this book.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Murder on Ice

Murder on Ice by Alina Adams 299 pgs.

Rebecca "Bex" Levy is a research assistant for 24/7 Sports.  She does research on Ice Skating competitions and competitors and wrangles the on air "personalities" Francis and Diana Howarth...a long retired couples team that have been married for years but can barely tolerate each other.  The World Championships are going mostly as planned but when a seasoned Russian skater wins the gold over the favored American, there is a bit of a scandal.  The situation becomes much more interesting with Italian judge Silvana Potenza turns up dead in what might be a suicide but is more likely murder.  Bex has a domineering boss who assigns her to solve the mystery in time for prime time coverage a few days away.  Always willing to figure out answers, Bex starts her investigation and deals with the the crazy world of amateur international skating. A fun little mystery. 

check our catalog

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld 400 pg.

Violet and Daisy are identical twins with the "senses"..they seem to know things in advance, a bit of ESP that isn't always 100% accurate but still pretty good.  Violet embraces this ability while Daisy runs from it by changing her name, never talking about it and doing her best to ignore it.  But then Violet predicts and earthquake is coming.and even gives a date.  This creates some stress between the sisters.  Violet is getting airplay and Kate (nee Daisy) is on the defensive with her friends who are, naturally, earth scientists.  Jeremy is Kate's perfect husband and a professor at Washington University (yes, the book is set in St. Louis).  At the same time she is wishing Violet would stop talking about the earthquake, Kate is getting ready by stocking up on supplies and planning for how she will protect her children.  I don't want to give any spoilers but lets just say the earth does move but not quite as predicted.

As with Sittenfeld's other books (I've read all but one), I loved the writing, I loved the relationships between the characters and I loved the way the story sort of meanders but also provides surprises.  Violet is a wonderful character and I looked forward to reading everything she said.

check our catalog

Monday, October 7, 2013

Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth / Reza Aslan 296 p.

Aslan asks us to consider the historical human Jesus of Nazareth as distinct from Jesus the Christ,  to the extent that we can see him at all in the historical record.   And in fact, there is little historical information which is specific to Jesus.  Aslan's method is to take the few known facts about Jesus and lay them against the totality of known historical information about his time and place and draw reasoned conclusions that way.  There is a lot to think about here, but Aslan's primary point seems to be that Jesus can be understood in light of the many other apocalyptic messiah wannabes roaming 1st-century Palestine.  They were itinerant preachers who, for the most part, challenged Temple authorities, sought a return to a Judaism uncorrupted by the exploitative practices of the High Priests,  and got in trouble with the law, usually with fatal consequences.

 Zealot was fascinating and completely absorbing and I have only a few criticisms.  I found Aslan's frequent lapses into Marxist language rather silly, but this is harmless enough.  People have been calling Jesus a proto-Marxist since Karl was in diapers.  More troubling were Aslan's occasional statements, presented as factual, which are after all only logical surmises.  

Still, this was a great read, my favorite part being the juicy information about the conflict between Saul/Paul in the diaspora and James, Peter and John in Jerusalem.  Detailed and readable endnotes and a long bibliography.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Totals for September

Totals for September books/pages:

Patrick 3/1469
Karen 5/1556
Kathleen 4/1420
Christa 4/1238
Linda 6/1885
Marilyn 2/623
Kara 13/2741
Donald 1/128
Annie 2/864
TOTAL 40/11,924

Let me know if you see any errors.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Bitter Kingdom

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (Girl of Fire and Thorn book 3); young adult, fantasy; 448

Queen Elisa is facing threats on multiple fronts:  at home a civil war is brewing as rebel nobles dispute her claim to the throne; but to the north and east, the hostile Invierne nation threatens to invade her country, unless she gives herself up as a willing sacrifice.  To make matters worse, Hector, the captain of her royal guard--and her betrothed--has been kidnapped as a hostage to ensure her compliance with the Invierno demands. 

I loved this conclusion to the series every bit as much as the first two.  Recommended for fans of Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Lemonade War

The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies  175 pp.

Somehow I neglected to blog about this one the first time I read it. Now that I reread it in preparation for this month's 4th-6th grade book club I'll say a little about it. In the last week before school starts Evan is unhappy because his younger sister is skipping third grade and will be in his class when school starts. Jessie, while a whiz at school subjects like math, doesn't understand the feelings of others very well. She doesn't understand why her brother is so mad at her. When Jessie wants to set up a lemonade stand with Evan he refuses. Each makes their own and they have a bet who will make the most money in the last few days before school starts. They try different methods to increase the business at their stands including partnerships with friends, diversifying, and franchising--all terms which are explained in the story. In the end there is a happy ending but not without some sabotage and theft to stir up more problems. This is the first book in The Lemonade War series.

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer

The only bad thing about this book is the title.  At first I wondered if I really would some to care about the teenagers at the artsy camp called “Spirit-in-the-Woods,” a name as precious and pretentious as the kids who call themselves “The Interestings” are when we first meet them.  Most are privileged, a couple are poor and on scholarship, and all have some degree of artistic giftedness.   But over the intervening years as they age; have great success or tiny failures; and endure the joys and tragedies of adult life, the reader does find them very interesting.  The relationships between the childhood friends become complex and believable.  You will particularly like the homely Ethan Figman – everybody at camp does, and later when his animation series Figland is a success a la The Simpsons, the whole world agrees.  Others find their adult lives a diminished version of what they had envisioned.  They remain connected into late middle age, but loyalties are tested by one big secret.  Recommended.  468 pp.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson

Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, memoir, 282 pages.

Amhir Thompson has been making music since he was a child. He rode around the country, touring with his mother and father since he can remember, and played drums in their bands almost that long. He co-founded the Roots, with high-school classmate Tariq Trotter, when they both wanted to beat another classmate in their school's talent show. That classmate went on to found Boyz II Men. And Tariq (Black Thought) and Questlove have been together ever since, making music. Quest has produced and played with Jay-Z, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, John Paul Jones, and lots and lots of people whom I am not cool enough to know.Now, of course, he and the rest of the Roots are Jimmy Fallon's Late Night band. An interesting story, well told.-Patrick

Check our catalog.