02. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy

The Unlikely Pilgrmage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, read by Tracy, on 10/02/2012

Harold Fry has retired from working at a brewery and lives in the same house with his wife for 45 years. One day he gets a letter from a former co-worker Queenie. She has terminal cancer and is saying goodbye. Harold decides to write a letter to Queenie but on the way to the postbox he makes a decision that shocks his wife and himself. He decides to deliver the letter himself and walk all the way to her hospice. With no supplies or cell phone he starts walking from southern England to Berwick on the border of Scotland and England. Over 500 miles alone. Fortunately he does have his credit card and it is springtime. This story is very sad at times because Harold has a lot of time to think about all the things he regrets in his life. His one hope is to get to Queenie before she dies and sends her cards along the way. His wife Maureen is confused, angry but eventually she respects his pilgrimage. It’s a life changing pilgrimage for both of them.

16. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Poetry, Tammy · Tags:

The Death of King Arthur: A New Verse Translation by Simon Armitage, read by Tammy, on 09/15/2012

A new translation of the alliterative poem written in Middle English around 1400 AD originally known as The Alliterative Morte Arthure. Simon Armitage who recently received acclaim for his translation of the classic alliterative poem, Sir Gawain and The Green Knight turns his talent to this classic. He follows King Arthur’s bloody conquests across Europe until his bloody fall, with many of his loyal knights, through a poignantly described burial scene. The language is still lyrical and moving in spite of being a translation.

14. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, read by Courtney, on 09/14/2012

I loved “Shadow of the Wind” and I liked “The Angel’s Game”, so I was pretty excited to find a new book set in the same world. Unfortunately, “Prisoner of Heaven” falls flat in comparison to its predecessors.
Daniel is now grown up and has a child. Sempere & Sons Bookstore is gearing up for the holiday season and Fermin is fixing to get married. A man from Fermin’s past appears prompting him to finally share his secrets with Daniel. The narrative then shifts to the worst days of the Spanish Civil War. Fermin is in prison with a writer named David Martin who is teetering on the brink of madness. He is kept alive by a malevolent guard named Maurico Valls who aims to be the country’s preeminent writer and intellectual. He forces Martin to “rework” his material to make it palatable to the masses. Martin, in his madness and misery, tells Fermin of his true love, Isabella, Daniel’s mother. Fermin manages to escape from prison in the hopes of fulfilling Martin’s request of making sure Isabella and her family are taken care of.
All of the characters are interconnected, but the story lacks the punch of Zafon’s previous work. This slim volume lacks the vivid detail of the first two books in the series and, as a result, feels rushed and unfocused. Oddly enough, it moves fairly slow too. It’s not a bad book, it just doesn’t compare to the books it follows and as such is a bit of a disappointment. Fortunately, the series is written in such a way as to allow the reader to read the book in any order they choose. Perhaps if this book didn’t have to live under the shadow of the first two, it would seem much more accomplished.

06. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy, Travel

Miles To Go by Richard Paul Evans, read by Tracy, on 07/05/2012

This second book in The Walk series wasn’t as good as the first. The first part of the book the main character Alan is in Spokane Washington staying with a friend after he had an accident on his journey to Key West Florida. It’s winter time so traveling by foot would be a problem. During his recovery he meets more people and his father visits. When he does start again he makes it to South Dakota. I realize these books are meant to be inspirational but I really like the way the author describes his travels and he also gives us some history of the towns he travels through. I don’t know when the next book will be published but I probably will read it.

29. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy, Travel

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans, read by Tracy, on 06/28/2012

When you see someone walking along the road with a backpack do you ever wonder where they came from and where they are going. Alan Christoffersen could be that man who just left everything behind and started walking. At first he had everything you could want. A successful career and a happy marriage. But somethings can be too good to be true. This is the first book in a series where Alan sets out from Seattle to Key West Florida with only a backpack full of camping gear and a credit card. He helps people along the way and they in return help him cope with his losses.

30. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy

The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella, read by Tracy, on 05/30/2012

This book is about love, love of coffee. In the year 1896 Mr. Pinker knew that the time was right to expand his coffee business in Victorian London. When he overhears Robert Wallis in a local cafe complain about that “the coffee tastes rusty” he offers him a job developing a guide that would describe various coffees that he blends and sells. Robert is an unemployed poet who doesn’t know anything about money but knows how to describe the taste and smell of coffee. As the story develops we learn a lot about where coffee is grown and how the market works. Robert is very self centered but over time he grows up and falls in love with Emily the bosses daughter. He is sent to Africa to learn how to grow coffee. You can’t help but like him even though he only has two things on his mind. Women and coffee.

20. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, read by Tracy, on 05/20/2012

“at some time between 1945 and 1980, Joe’s grandfather and grandmother built a bee-machine which is either a rocket ship, a mobile sculpture or a brain-melting lie detector”. Unfortunately Joe made the mistake of activating the device setting lose thousands of mechanical bees. Joe Spork, the main character, repairs antique clocks so when the device was brought to him he had no idea it was so powerful. He does have a lot of friends who help him, most were friends of his gangster father “Tommy Gun” Spork. This book has a lot of Charles Dickenish characters with names like Mr. Titwhistle, Mr. Cummerbund and Billy Friend. It has an evil mass murder The Opium Khan. There are several female geniuses, one is a scientist who builds robots and  another an undercover secret agent.  This book goes back and forth in time a lot and I had a hard time putting it down.

30. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Teen Books

There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff, read by Courtney, on 04/29/2012

OK folks. There’s some good news and some bad news. The good news is: God exists. The bad news? God is an arrogant, insolent, lustful, forgetful teenaged boy named Bob. Bob’s mother won our corner of the universe in a poker game and pawned it off on her underage son. Bob had some fun creating our world, but grew bored rather quickly and let things get tremendously out of control. The only thing really holding it all together is Bob’s personal assistant, Mr. B. Mr. B is sick of dealing with Bob and has already requested a transfer, though he has yet to tell Bob. The only thing Bob cares about at present anyway is a young zoologist assistant named Lucy. And Mr. B expects that to pass in the typical melodramatic disaster that tends to create dramatic weather patterns around the globe, usually leading to widespread suffering and destruction. No one is happy when Bob falls in love. Not even Bob.
This book made me laugh and think, which is my favorite combination of reactions to a book. The tone and universe remind me a bit of some of my other favorite comedically-inclined authors (Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore…). If you’ve ever wondered why your prayers seem to fall on deaf ears, well, here’s a possible answer. But never fear, there’s a silver lining…

24. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy

Heft by Liz Moore, read by Tracy, on 04/24/2012

It’s hard to be totally honest with your children because you always want to protect them. If only Charlene had been honest with her son Kel about her illness she might have had a better life. Her former college professor and friend Arthur also had no idea she was so ill. Arthur wasn’t honest with her about his weight problem either. When Charlene tries to get together with Arthur after two decades they both hesitate and it turns out to be too late. Her son Kel is confused but in the end he does the right thing.

 

20. April 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Tracy

The Cat Nappers by P. G. Wodehouse, read by Tracy, on 04/20/2012

Bertie Wooster would probably be better off if he just stayed home at his apartment with his valet Jeeves. Every time he goes out he either meets a lady he proposed to or a friend he owes money to. In this book Bertie finds spots on his chest so he goes to a doctor who recommends he spends some time in the country away from the unwholesome life of London.  One of his many aunt’s finds him a cottage by the sea to spend the weekend. A quiet weekend is not  in store for Bertie.

06. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy

Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel, read by Tracy, on 04/06/2012

I’m a Dave Barry fan and have missed his humorous columns in the newspapers. But I have to say that this book is a big disappointment. It says it is a hilarious novel of comic mayhem. I thought it was just plain stupid. The two main characters Phillip and Jeffrey hate each other and end up in some really dumb situations. It seems to me the authors just dreamed up one stupid situation after another for them and thought it was funny. I guess I just didn’t get it.  So I only read half of the book hoping it would get better and it didn’t.

25. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, read by Tracy, on 03/25/2012

The Art of FieldingHenry Skrimshander lives and breathes baseball. His favorite book is “The Art of Fielding” written by Aparicio Rodriguez a St. Louis Cardinal legend. When he enters Westish college it’s the only book he takes with him.  Henry is a short stop with a lot of potential. He also has a lot of growing up to do. If you are a baseball fan like me this book will make you laugh and cringe. It’s an honest look at college sports and relationships. Henry’s story is bittersweet.

28. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Claudia, Fiction, Literary Fiction

Cemetery Bird by Bridget Bufford, read by Claudia, on 02/18/2012

Cemetery BirdI recently had the good fortune of being introduced to Bridget Bufford’s latest book, Cemetery Bird.  Bufford was recently a guest at our library and because of that program, I had the privilege of meeting this fine author and listening to her talk about her experience writing this truly meaningful read.

At its heart, it is an exploration of one woman’s search for family and identity. It is the story of a young (half) Native American woman, Jay, who after an debilitating injury moves from Arizona to Missouri in order to help care for her autistic nephew,  Brandon, while his mother works and takes college classes.  This arrangement provides the opportunity for the development of  two surprising relationships, which have a profound impact on Jay…. the one is obviously with her nephew and other is with one of her nephew’s classmates, who suffers from a  severe brain injury. Bridget Bufford excels at giving the reader a realistic glimpse into the life of family members of people with autism and acquired brain injury at the same time writing in way about families all readers can appreciate it.   This book is beautifully written and incredibly descriptive…and I even would go so far as to say, poetic.  I would highly recommend to anyone who loves literary fiction.  It also had the great honor of being nominated for the 2012 Pushcart award.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction

Habibi by Craig Thompson, read by Courtney, on 01/15/2012

Whoa. This was epic. On the surface, it’s a story about a young girl, Dodola, sold into slavery who manages to escape with a little boy, Zam, into the desert. She lives with and raises Zam for nearly 9 years, trading her body for food when the Bedouin caravans come by. They find a relative peace in the desert until Dodola is kidnapped by the Sultan’s men and brought to the palace as a consort. In his abandoned anguish, Zam sets off to find his beloved Dodola. His story becomes dark as well. By the time they meet again, they have both been through some of the worst times imaginable. From this sadness arises a new sense of hope and love.
So, the story is harrowing and intriguing, but it is also interspersed with stories from both the Quran and the Old Testament (often pointing out the differences in the details). It draws connections between the characters in the book and the spiritual personages to whom they feel connected. Themes of language, water and numbers are also prevalent throughout. This graphic novel is a rich tapestry that could give a college level class discussion fodder for weeks.