Friday, August 2, 2013

The Salt God's Daughter by Ilie Ruby, August Book Club

Amazing!  The Salt God's Daughter by Ilie Ruby will be a great read any time of the year, but especially in the summer.  I knew going into this read that themes included relationships between mothers and daughters, which I usually enjoy.  Who among us doesn't have a mother or daughter that they would like to understand better?   The legend of the Silkies holds a personal attachment for me. 

What is truly unique is how Ruby was able to take growing up, relationships, legends and feminist issues then produce such an entertaining and readable book.  I can't wait to discuss this book with members of my book club tonight.  We are a group who can and will get to the meat of the story, relate this book to others we have read, and bring personal feeling and experiences into the mix.  Since we recently started giving our books a star rating I will wait to post until after we meet.

Is it me or have there been some great books out there to read this summer?  More, unfortunately, than I will get through before school picks up next week and my reading slows down a bit.  But really, do try to read The Salt God's Daughter as soon as you can.  Ruby's debut book, The Language of Trees: A Novel, has great reviews and ratings.  I can't believe I missed it, but it is in my Kindle today. 

Star Rating: averaged 4.0

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Red Planet by Willian John Locke

William The John Locke, an Englishman, was born in 1863 and died in 1930 but his work has had an American following for many years.  The Cambridge educated Locke trained as a teacher but preferred writing.   I first came across Locke when I read The Three Wise Men (reviewed here previously) and continue to enjoy his work.  Although his style and subject matter may appear very "old school" they have entertained audiences in print and film for many years.  Although not a mystery in the sense that we use that term today, The Red Planet is, in fact a mystery.

The Red Planet was the #3 book in the U.S. in 1917.  The themes are typical of the times, war, bravery vs. cowardliness, responsibility, and respectability which are themes for every generation.  I believe everyone deserves to treat themselves to a couple of older British works and the $0.00 price tag on Kindle makes it easy to explore something different and timeless this summer. 

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Everyone who knows me will tell you that I have no sense of humor--but I love satire.  Many years ago I stumbled across Jasper Fforde by reading The Eyre Affair, the first volume in his Thursday Next series.  I am proud to announce that his new young adult series appears to be equal in satire, writing, wit and engagement as that first Fforde book I read.  The YA readers in your life will love the satire as well. 

As an adult I found it entertaining and have pre-ordered volume 2 on my Kindle.  The main thing that makes this YA literature is the central character, sixteen year old Jennifer Strange.  Strange is a foundling who is conscripted to a local magic establishment with an absentee owner.  However when many seers predict the death of the last dragon in the Kingdom twists and turns push Jennifer into the role of the last dragon slayer. 

Fforde is funny in a satirical way and I think you or your teen with see many real-life situations and a few politicians in the pages of The Last Dragonslayer.  Isn't that what satire is all about?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Angelopolis: A Novel

I had already begun reading Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni when I wrote about Angelology and already knew I was going to love it.  It just kept getting better and better.  I would really encourage readers to read these two books in order.  There is so much background in the first book that you will want to remember for the second book.

The story of Evangeline continues with some very surprising twists in Angelopolis.  The story line delves into Noah, his sons, the flood and the fact that he saved seeds as well as animals from extinction.  A lot of the action moves into Russia, present and past.  Faberge eggs, Rasputin, and tsars Nikolai and Alexandra from Russian history are all important parts of the story. 

The mystery has deepened, rather than being solved, although we end this volume with a lot more information at our disposal.  My engagement in the book has continued to grow.  My burning question now is "When does book three come out?".  Just as Dan Brown's books have gained a cult-like following I believe you will begin seeing Trussoni's books on reading lists everywhere.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Gone Girl: A Novel

Gone Girl:  A Novel by Gillian Flynn was the pick for July's Book Club discussion last night.  We always have a great discussion and a lot to say, the group is just great that way.  Gone Girl was enjoyed by everyone and we each gave it between 4 and 5 stars.  Rating a book was something new we did last night, thanks to Cat, and I hope we continue to do a rating. 

Several of us are die-hard mystery fans so we were surprised than none of us figured out the ending ahead of time.  That is a challenge that most books could not meet with our group.  A lot of the discussion focused on what makes a person a killer and can they be a born killer? 

The basic story line could come from the daily newspapers on many levels.  Amy and Nick lose their jobs and move back to his hometown to care for ailing parents.  When Amy turns up missing on their fifth anniversary Nick is, of course, a suspect.  His in-laws fly in and are very supportive in the beginning, as is his sister.  The police are fair but must but investigate Nick, who has a very vague alibi.  The media rains down on Carthage, MO and will not relent.

The person who chose Gone Girl for our 2013 list described the book as "creepy" and last night we all agreed.  What happens next would ruin the book for you, it will suffice to say I challenge you to figure it out before the end.  This is a great summer read.

Gillian Flynn has written two other books, Sharp Objects:  A Novel (2007) and Dark Places:  A Novel (2010).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Angelogy: A Novel

Although Danielle Trussoni's name did not jump out and grab me the title of her book did.  Angelogy: A Novel was downloaded onto my Kindle in moments.  Angels have attracted me, fascinated me and entertained me for as long as I can remember. 

To keep me reading and download the second book in the series required more and Trussoni did not let me down.  The main character, Evangeline, is likeable and real.  Her life growing up in a convent is a sharp contrast to the challenges she faces in adulthood.  There are some positive reviews out there comparing Angelogy with Dan Brown's recent Inferno: A Novel.  I understand the comparison.  Trussoni draws from mythology and the Bible to develop her story.  It is steeped in history at every level and the storyline is supported by action.  The classic struggle between good and evil is present as well although we understand that good and evil have a great deal in common.

The second book in the series, Angelopolis:  A Novel is out as well.  Gratefully it was downloaded and I was reading within minutes of completing Angelogy.  I needed more, I needed to keep turning those pages. 

Recently I wrote that if you only read one book this summer you should read Inferno:  A Novel.  Let me correct that.  You can't only read one book this summer.  You must read both Inferno and Angelogy.  I will leave the reading order up to you.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Technologist

While I'm not sure how I stumbled upon Matthew Pearl it was a lucky day.  After reading several books by Pearl I have never been disappointed.  The Technologist is no exception.

Pearl has a knack for pulling together historic facts, a mystery and a unique story line that always engages and entertains.  The Technologist is set in Boston shortly after the Civil War.  On the most simple level it is about the founding of MIT, the first technology school in America and a bold experiment for the time. 

The mystery involves science based attacks on the city that puts the city in a panic and the survival of the school, professors and students at risk.  Many of the inventions border on the "steampunk" genre that I love but are actually founded on cutting edge technology of the era.

Key characters in the book were actually associated with MIT or are a melding of several actual people.  They are brave, flawed and human.  After reading The Dante Club several years ago I thought Pearl could never top that feat.  I stand corrected, he just keeps putting out great reads.  So, don't read The Dante Club or The Technologist by Matthew Pearl.  Read them both!  You will be a fan.