Book Lovers

Tree of Codes
Jonathan Safran Foer

Best-selling author Foer takes an old book, The Street of Crocodiles, literally cuts out words to create a whole new story.  Even the title, Tree of Codes, is derived from the original book's title by deleting letters.  It's remarkable and almost seems impossible to pull off.  The main draw isn't the story about a father, but the actual experience of reading the book.  Because each page is die cut, you have to be gentle while turning the pages.  To really comprehend and appreciate this book, it is something you should read more than once.  This is very easy to do in a short amount of time.

Aug 17, 2011
State of Wonder
Ann Patchett

When Marina learns of the death of Anders Eckman, her lab partner and good friend, she is devastated. Her time for grief is cut short, however, when both Anders’ wife and her employer ask her to travel to South America to retrieve information about Anders’ death and his work, and to find an elusive researcher who may hold the truth about both. Marina ventures deep into the Amazon Rain Forest to confront her past and change her future. With her usual flair for creating rich and appealing characters while slowly revealing their complex histories, Patchett offers another gem to her readers. Highly recommended.

Aug 12, 2011
Ten Thousand Saints
Eleanor Henderson

Jude and Teddy are best friends growing up in Vermont.  On New Year's Eve of 1987, which happens to also be Jude's 16th birthday, they party a bit too hard and Teddy dies from a cocaine overdose.  Jude starts to spiral and is sent to live with his father in New York City, where he gives up his life of drugs when he discovers the straight edge hardcore scene.  Along with his sorta step-sister Eliza and Teddy's older brother Johnny, they move around the country trying to figure out their identities.  In Eleanor Henderson's Ten Thousand Saints, we see the growth these teens go through mirrors the growing pains New York City experienced in the 1980s amongst the AIDS crisis and gentrification.

Aug 10, 2011
Children and Fire
Ursula Hegi

Children and Fire takes place in 1934 Germany when Hitler is starting his rise to power.  Thekla Jansen teaches fourth grade boys in Burgdorf (also the setting for the author's other books).  Confused herself about what is happening in her world, she tries to keep her class focused on learning rather than get caught up with all that is going on in the outside world.  All of the action happens in one day with alternating chapters that focus on Thekla's family history.  A fast read that gets you involved with the youngsters as well as the adults.

Aug 2, 2011
The Forge of God
The Forge of God
Greg Bear

This novel offers an interesting solution to the Fermi Paradox. Two alien civilizations have space crafts found burried in two different deserts on Earth.  One spaceship is manned by robots who say they are here to help the people of Earth and the other is manned by a dying alien life form who claims the first group are planet-eaters who are out to destroy our world and he was sent to come warn us.  The people of Earth have to decide which group they believe and Bear does a fantastic job of describing this scary end of the world scenario.

Jul 26, 2011
Jennifer Donnelly

Andi Alper is a teen attending school in modern day Brooklyn.  Her brother died a couple years ago and she feels responsible.  Andi's mother has been despondent since the death of her son and sits around painting all day.  When Andi falls behind on her senior thesis, her geneticist father makes her come with him to Paris, where he has research to do.  While in Paris, Andi is able to work on her thesis about the French musician Malherbeau.  A family friend of her father's allows them to stay in his French residence while it is being converted into a museum.  Andi stumbles upon the diary of Alex, a teenage nanny of the Dauphin, Louis XVII, from the French Revolution.  Through this diary, and with the help of her medication, Andi is transported back to the time of the Terror and great detail.  For fans of contemporary and historical young adult books, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly is not to be missed.  

Jul 13, 2011
Dead Reckoning
Charlaine Harris

When Merlotte’s is nearly burned to the ground, Sookie finds herself once more in the middle of the complicated dealings of the undead and nonhuman in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Vengeful shifters, meddlesome witches, powerful fairy artifacts and a vampire coup keep readers on their toes in the eleventh installment of Harris’ wildly popular Southern Vampire series. Fans of the HBO series True Blood who have not yet dug into this series should start with the series opener, Dead Until Dark.

Jul 12, 2011
The Genesis Code
The Genesis Code
John Case

This compelling biomedical suspense novel starts with a confession being made in a remote Italian village that the priest immediately goes to Vatican to report what he has heard.  In America, Joe Lassiter is investigating the bizarre murders of his sister and nephew in a house fire.  The arsonist is caught and badly burned, but manages to escape to the hospital.  Lassiter's investigation brings him to an unusal Italian fertility clinic that had performed treatments on his sister before her son was born.  Fans of Dan Brown will enjoy the fast pace and stratling plot twists.

Jul 7, 2011
Dreams of Joy
Lisa See

Reeling from her father’s death and disillusioned by her family’s secrets, Joy flees to China in search of her real father and a Communist utopia. While Pearl knows that by returning to her homeland she may never again be able to leave the country she once risked her life to escape, she will risk everything to bring her daughter home. By switching narration between the two women, this sequel to Shanghai Girls examines both the wonders of the “Great Leap Forward” and the horrors of its execution in both the city and countryside of Red China.

Jul 5, 2011
Karen Russel

The Bigtree clan are proprietors of Swamplandia!, an alligator “amusement” park deep in the Florida Everglades.  After the park’s star and mother, Hilola, dies an early death, the family must find a way to fill the gap both emotionally and financially. The dad, Chief Bigtree, goes off to the mainland on mysterious money-making trip. The eldest, Kiwi, never an alligator wrestler, also goes mainland for a job at Swamplandia’s main waterpark competition, World of Darkness. Ossie, the eldest daughter, is visited by ghosts and goes on a dangerous trip when she is proposed to by one. Which leaves Ava, the youngest, to try and hold things together. This is an adventure story with some genuinely funny parts (especially with Kiwi’s comrades at the World) as well as creepy elements. Even with a blurb from Stephen King, it is evident that the author has some literary ambitions, using vivid descriptions and deep research to not only bring the story of the family to life but also the story of the swamp. Recommended for readers who like their fiction a little more character-based than action-oriented.

Jul 2, 2011

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