I absolutely love this book! I wish I could give it more than five stars, because it is perfection with a heart. Evison hits the mark with a story that is quirky, heartwrenching and hilariously funny. I decided to read it because I am a huge fan of road trips and road trip fiction. I was also curious about how the author would deal with traveling with a person who has disabilities–no small feat. It turns out that basically all of the characters in this novel have a disability of some sort or another, not the kind that get diagnosed but the hidden ones from wounds that never heal or from basic ineptitude at this thing called life. For who CAN be prepared? As protagonist Ben Benjamin instructs the reader, “Be ready not to be ready. Be ready to be brought to your knees and beaten to dust.” Despite the tragedies of life, Evison breathes humor and optimism into the strange situations that occur during the adult coming-of-age road trip that Ben and Trev take together. I guess the choice is simple: We can eat waffles every morning and spend our days watching the weather channel. Or we can defy the odds and go forth with joie de vivre anyway!
A deeply moving, beautifully-written picture of how the smallest crack in a relationship slowly, over decades, becomes a canyon too wide to bridge. (Publisher’s blurb)
I finished Lies You Wanted to Hear in two days. Once you start, it really is hard to put down. The story of the marriage between Lucy and Matt twists and turns down a never-ending road of pain. The chapters alternate between characters and while I was reading it I thought, boy, this book will be a great book club book because there is so much to discuss. There is no good guy in this but you can certainly see how it all happens. Reading their thoughts was enlightening and stopped me from judging them from day one. It is amazing what people will do when they are in pain in order to “do the right thing.”
Posted in Literary
Sometimes off kilter but always entertaining, this story is both sharply observant and oddly touching. Semple’s characters managed to make me laugh even as I squirmed uncomfortably. It’s tough to imagine a better setting for this novel than Seattle, a city as coolly quirky as Bernadette herself. But mostly, I loved the mother daughter relationship in this book.
Sabbie Dare is a shaman who journeys into her clients’ past to sort out what is haunting their present. When two boys disappear and one is found dead in the moors near Bristol, people start to worry that a serial killer who terrorized the area decades ago is back. When the police begin to suspect Sabbie’s client, Cliff, the shaman feels compelled to defend him. But why was Cliff so obsessed with the missing boy? And what terrible secrets will Sabbie find tucked away in Cliff’s mind that he is so determined to forget? A new addition to the amateur sleuth genre, Nina Milton creates in Sabbie Dare a captivating character, a compelling location, and a mystery that utilizes supernatural elements to great effect.
Although this is said to be in the horror genre, it really doesn’t belong there. True, there are haunted people in the story, but who isn’t haunted by something?
Help for the Haunted was the first book I’ve read by John Searles, and it won’t be the last. This novel is both a ghost story of sorts, and a coming of age story for Sylvie Mason who awakes to find her parents have been murdered. Her older sister is now in charge and that means Sylvie really has to fend for herself. As Sylvie hunts for the truth behind the murder, she faces more than just ghosts from the past. The secrets and danger she faces may well haunt readers for a long time.
This book still has me thinking. Dara Horn is a wonderful writer whose quirky characters might seem shallow at first glance, but they are so much more. She has the knack for intermingling the past and present in a way that will draw readers in immediately. Seeing into the world of these flawed, troubled people is what hooks readers. In this book software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented the ultimate app that records everything its users do. Video/audio, nothing is missed, from her daughter learning to tie her shoes to cooking a meal. Beyond anything that we consider voyeuristic today, but somehow we know as we read this, it’s coming. When she travels to Egypt on the invitation to help them organize the library archives, she is abducted. Her sister Judith who has always been jealous of Josie takes this opportunity to insinuate herself into Josie’s family’s life. The second part of this story takes place a century earlier when a Cambridge professor comes to Egypt to hunt for a medieval archive hidden in a synagogue called the Genizah. The adventure for all begins and intertwines the present with the past in a way that will make you want to read up on the Genizah and see how it was the beginning of recording daily lives. Dara Horn’s other novel The World to Come is one of my favorite books to recommend. Now I can add A Guide for the Perplexed to the list.
If you were wondering what went on behind the scenes of the estates in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, you have your answer in Longbourne. Continue reading
At the turn of the last century, men pretty much held all the cards and women—from all walks of life—did what it took to get by in the world. Dallas spins a fascinating story about the ladies of the tenderloin and their lives in Denver, circa 1880′s. Continue reading
From Amy Hall~
On October 12th, I talked about over thirty books that had something to offer book clubs. It was an exhausting hour and a half, but loads of fun hearing what people have been reading and letting them know about forthcoming and current library favorites. Here are some of the highlights:
The Paris Architect by Charle Belfoure
Lucien Bernard is a somewhat apolitical architect who is in need of money. So he starts making hiding spaces in Paris buildings to conceal members of the city’s Jewish population from the Nazis. At first Bernard is thrilled more with the challenge of creating these spaces than protecting Paris’s Jews, but when something goes wrong, everything changes. How far will this man go to protect others? What should he be willing to sacrifice–if anything? Belfoure poses big questions in the framework of great story. Continue reading
Chris Bohjalian as a master at storytelling. His last book, The Sandcastle Girls, is among my favorite historical novels, and I hope every book club picks it up. There is so much to discuss.
Now, his new one The Light in the Ruins is also a favorite. Set in Tuscany during and after WWII, Bohjalian tells the story of the Rosatis – an Italian family whose villa with its Etruscan burial site is taken over by the Nazis during the war. The family has its secrets, but one of those is deadly. Years after the war, the Rosatis are dying. Someone is hunting them down one by one. Police investigator Serafina Bettini, who is also haunted by war events, has to find the killer but it means digging into a horrific past.
Bohjalian sets the scene in every book with his excellent sense of place. It always makes a difference when immersed in the tale. The characters become real to you. Humor, heartbreak, loss and love – you will find them all in The Light in the Ruins. This will be a book club favorite and I won’t be surprised if it becomes a film.
Tattered Cover Book Store on Colfax Avenue will host Chris Bohjalian on Saturday, July 20th at 7:30pm. Don’t miss it because he gives a great presentation every time he comes. It will be a joy for me to introduce him.