Suddenly, July has ended and we’re partway into August, so I’m combining this issue and am hoping to quickly finish it with short comments about what I’ve been reading,
The library book club picnic in the park was delightful! There is a lovely park directly across the street from the library, and the weather was perfect–in the 70’s with sunshine and a soft breeze. There were eight of us in attendance, and it was interesting to hear what book each person talked about. They were to bring a favorite book, and the titles ran the gamut from young adult to mystery, travel , and theology! It’s an interesting group with diverse reading tastes.
My favorite book so far this summer will be released this month. This is your ‘heads up’ to look for it!! Small Blessings is by Martha Woodruff who writes for NPR. It is a charming story set in a college town. When the newest employee in the college bookshop comes to town, a romance and mystery ensue, when one of the professors is told that he is the father of a son he never knew he had!
Doll-baby is a novel by Laura Lane McNeal which is set in New Orleans during the unrest of the 1960s. It is a coming of age story seen through the eyes of a young girl. The characters are well developed, and there is a twist at the end–a worthwhile read. It might be of interest to young adults.
The Arsonist is the latest book by Sue Miller who has always been one of my favorite authors. Miller’s writing is wonderful–very descriptive, and it is an engaging account of the summer people and their interactions with the year round inhabitants of a New Hampshire village as they search for the arsonist who has been setting fire to numerous properties owned by summer people. I was a bit unsatisfied with the ending, but it would certainly provoke an engaging discussion.
Sorry to say, but I did not finish this one. I’ve read many good reviews, but I just couldn’t seen to get into it. It is a debut novel set in Philadelphia about a young girl who is an aspiring jazz singer. Give it a try, if you wish–just was not my “cup of tea”.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is a complex, suspenseful and engaging story of a Chinese American family’s grief upon the disappearance and death of the teenage daughter. It is the story of the parents, brother, and those in their community who are affected and changed by the girl’s death. It is also about race and what it means to live in two different worlds at the same time. The parents had not realized that the daughter inside their family was an ‘outsider’ in the world she inhabited. It is well written and engaging.
One Hundred Names by Cecilia Ahern was given such a rave review by one of my book club friends, I had to read it! She said that she and family members had stayed up late to finish it. Told from the perspective of a recently fired journalist, Kitty Logan, it is the riveting account of Kitty’s search to find the answer to her mentor’s last directives before the mentor, Constance, died. As Constance was upon her deathbed, Kitty asked Constance “what is the one story you’ve always wanted to write?” Before Constance answers the questions, she dies, and Kitty is left only with a list of one hundred names which Kitty starts pursuing name by name in a quest to unlock the mystery of their meaning.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger is my other ‘not to be missed’ book for this issue. I’ve read most of Krueger’s work, but this is a stand alone and a departure from the Cork O’Connor series. In language almost poetic, and with lyrical descriptive prose, Krueger sets this mystery in 1961, and relates it to the reader in the voice of 13 year old Frank Drum, son of Methodist minister Nathan Drum. The book opens with the death of a young boy and becomes more intense when Frank’s older sister, Ariel disappears. It’s a coming of age story, a mystery, and about ethics, the perils of gossip, and human foibles. Krueger won the Edgar Award for Ordinary Grace, and after reading it, I completely agree with the committee’s choice.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a debut novel by a Swedish blogger and author. It has received wide acclaim and sold over 500,000 copies in Sweden. The novel, set in Sweden, is about a curmudgeonly man named Ove (pronounced with a long ‘O’vee) who lives alone following the death of his wife. He is making plans to end his own life when ‘life happens’, and he is unwillingly brought into the of activities of his neighborhood and its inhabitants. It seemed rather slow at first but the action did pick up about halfway through, and it does have a satisfying conclusion.
I had eagerly anticipated The Hundred Year House by Rebcca Makkai. It is an interesting story line about an artist’s colony in an old estate house. I did not find it as absorbing as I had hoped. The story went back in forth in time. Many authors use that technique, but I find it difficult to follow. I loved Makkai’s previous book, The Borrower, and I will probably reread it, but not this one.