As this long, long winter drags on, only the increased hours of daylight give promise of spring here in Wisconsin. Oh yes, and I did hear birds singing the other day! There have been lots of hours for reading…often a good book is a real source of comfort while getting through the cold!
Driftless by Wisconsin author, David Rhodes, was the February selection for the library book discussion. We had lively discussions in both the afternoon and evening sessions! Although we’re all Wisconsin residents, several did not know about the “Driftless” area which has a different topography from much of the rest of WI because the glacier missed this area. We all enjoyed the book and the discussion was great because we all discovered different meanings and allusions, such as why the area is called “drifltess”, and that many of the characters were driftless, as well. The cast of quirky characters along with their sad and sometimes humorous adventures seemed to speak to everyone. For me, it reminded me of many similar situations from my growing up years in rural Michigan.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan is the love story of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny van de Grift Osbourne. This is the second novel by Horan, who wrote Loving Frank about Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney. It took me awhile to get into this one, but I’d heard great things about it, and I did think it was very good. I didn’t know much about Stevenson’s biography until I read this. Their story was quite fascinating!
After watching the movie, Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks, I was very curious to know how much of the thrilling movie really happened. So I read A Captain’s Duty by Richard Phillips. It was an interesting book, and it seems that most of the movie was an accurate representation of what happened. There were some elements added to dramatize events, but the story line followed what really happened, and according to photos in the book, Hanks’ character looked much like Phillips. I highly recommend this as a great non fiction thriller.
Next: Another Laura Ingalls Wilder offshoot! Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen is a fictional account of a modern day young woman who is struggling to keep her immigrant Vietnamese family and their expectations of her in the background. Nguyen creates a literary mystery based upon the true fact that Laura Wilder’s daughter, Rose, actually visited and worked as a reporter in Saigon in 1965. As Lee Lien struggles to explore her family’s possible connections, she travels take her on adventures across the country–from Madison, WI and Chicago to San Francisco. I didn’t find this as entertaining as The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure, but it was pretty good. If you are a Wilder fan, you might enjoy it, too.
This was my second time reading Still Life by Louise Penny. I had read it some time ago, and of course, I couldn’t remember the ending. I went back to it because I have enjoyed some of her later mysteries immensely, and they all include a similar cast of characters. She has several books in the series now, and I wanted to start at the beginning and read through them as I have time. How The Light Gets In came out last fall and had rave reviews, including mine! I’m planning on it for the library group to discuss in late fall. Penny is a very intellectual writer and gives the reader much to think about while trying to figure out the solution to the mystery.
Cold Storage Alaska by John Straley made me laugh out loud. What a treat this was in this end of winter season! If you remember and liked the Northern Exposure television series, you will love this book. Even if you’ve never heard of Northern Exposure, this comedic story set in the fictional town of Cold Storage opens with Clive being released after a 7 year prison sentence for dealing coke. His younger brother is a ‘medic’ for the community who served in Mogadishu with the Army Rangers and is now caring for their ailing mother. There is an unusual dog, a bar, and a band who are just part of a cast of interesting characters making their way in small town Alaska.