Book Lovers

Danielle Trussoni

While V.A. Verlaine is researching the relationship between a convent in upstate New York and philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller, he runs into some trouble. Unbeknownst to Verlaine, his employer, Percival Grigori, is a Nephilim (the offspring of a human and an angel) that is searching for an artifact linked to an order of fallen angels. Abigail Rockefeller knew of this artifact. In investigating the artifact, Verlaine and Sister Evangeline of the convent are pulled into a long-existing war between humans and angels. What begins as a very slow read turns into an action-packed story.

Jun 10, 2011
The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands (poems)
Nick Flynn

This book of poems isn’t traditional by any means (there aren’t sonnets or poems of any specific form nor do any of the poems use a rhyme scheme) but the topics they touch on (love, loss, war, Abu Graib) are as contemporary as anything written about in fiction material today. The poet, author of Another Bull*** Night in Suck City, uses a variety of means to compose his poems including collage/cut-ups and blocking out text from other source material (which isn’t always effective as the source material in the Abu Graib section- the ennervating complete testimonies are included in the back of the book). Memories seem to evolve on the page and get old at the same time (which could be a commentary on our techno-fast culture). Each poem is fresh and shifting, though, and I come up with new interpretations the closer I read each. Recommended for people who enjoy current topics and contemporary poetry.

Jun 10, 2011
The Sweet Relief of Missing Children
Sarah Braunstein

Leonora was raised to be nice and to help others. She was also raised to be wary of strangers. In spite of this, Leonora disappears one day on her way home from school. Years before, a boy decides to run away from home to escape his mother and stepfather. In an intricate web of characters, Braunstein weaves a connection between these two children, entangling a series of individuals whose lives are shaped by the pain of others.  A relatively quick read that will keep you riveted from the first page to the last.

Jun 2, 2011
The Condition
Jennifer Haigh

The premise of The Condition is familiar: a fractured New England family comes to terms with how they feel for each other, and what it means to be kin. The story begins in Cape Cod during a family vacation, the year before Gwen McKotch is diagnosed with a genetic condition that impedes her physical maturity. From there the story skips forward two decades to examine the effects of this summer on the entire family, from the parents down to the youngest brother. Haigh moves between narrators, each firm in his or her view of the family dynamic and shedding light on the disparity between how we see ourselves and how we are viewed by those closest to us.

May 25, 2011
Calculating God by Robert J Sawyer
Calculating God
Robert J. Sawyer

Hollus, an alien that resembles a spider appears at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto in search of a paleontologist.  She meets Tom Jericho and they compare notes to determine that both of their planets have experienced five mass extinction events at the same time along with one other alien civilization that Hollus has already met.  They work together to try to figure out if these events say something about the existance of god.  Sawyer's aliens are very interesting and this is a very good example of well done character-driven science fiction. 

May 22, 2011
A Prayer for the Dying
Stewart O'Nan

Jacob Hansen is undertaker, constable, and deacon for the small town of Friendship, Wisconsin.  When a deadly disease strikes the town at the same time a major fire is threatening to destroy everything in its path, Jacob has to be all three of his occupations at once.  The most compelling is how Jacob not only deals with his convictions but how he needs to hold onto his own sanity as those he loves are threatened by these dual tragedies.  A short but powerful read.

May 9, 2011
The Sleeper Awakes
H.G. Wells

Graham falls into a sleeplike trance in the 1890s and awakens some 200 years later to find himself Master of the Earth.  As Master, he needs to find out who is behind him and those people who are willing to betray him.  An interesting look at a future world where some things have not changed at all:  power and greed.  Some of the most appealing aspects of the book are Wells' descriptions of future technologies, especially the dogfight between aeroplanes (the book was written before the Wright Brothers' flight.)

May 3, 2011
A Visit From the Goon Squad
Jennifer Egan

Check out this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction!  Instead of following a group of characters from points A to B-Egan's novel investigates a web of stories and relationships, giving the reader a variety of lenses through which to understand the main characters: Sasha and Benny.  Egan uses a variety of styles to create her many characters-making this at times seem more like a collection of short stories with many characters in common than an entire novel, but it is pulled together neatly as characters learn and grow toward the end.  A great read for people who enjoyed Jonathan Franzen's Freedom.  

May 1, 2011
Big Girl Small
Rachel DeWoskin

Judy Lohden is a teenage girl of small stature and great talent living in Ann Arbor, MI. While Judy’s height is a fact of life, what makes her life different from others is her incredible talent. In addition to being a great writer, she is also a wonderful singer and a star pupil at a performing arts high school. Always independent and witty, Judy’s confidence is shaken to the core when both falls in love for the first time and becomes the target of a cruel prank. Written in the smart, funny and sometimes melodramatic voice of its subject, Big Girl Small is a great read for anyone who has ever felt a little bit different.

May 1, 2011
Hold Tight
Harlan Coben

After their son's best friend kills himself, Mike and Tia Baye are concerned about his increasing withdrawal and struggle to determine theiris really a problem or if it is normal teenage angst.  Meanwhile a series of seemingly unrelated murders have been happening in the area.  Coben artfully details several seemingly different story lines at the same time and finds a smooth way to combine them at the end.  although you know who the murderer is for most of the book, Coben keeps the suspense coming.

Apr 30, 2011

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