Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff

I love stories that span time. I feel that the characters within these stories lend themselves to becoming more a part of the story being told. This one sounds good to me as does its sequel, The Kommadant's Girl.

The Things We Cherished is a suspenseful story of love and betrayal set during the Holocaust.

An ambitious novel that spans decades and continents, The Things We Cherished tells the story of Charlotte Gold and Jack Harrington, two fiercely independent attor­neys who find themselves slowly falling for one another while working to defend the brother of a Holocaust hero against allegations of World War II–era war crimes.

The defendant, wealthy financier Roger Dykmans, mysteri­ously refuses to help in his own defense, revealing only that proof of his innocence lies within an intricate timepiece last seen in Nazi Germany. As the narrative moves from Philadelphia to Germany, Poland, and Italy, we are given glimpses of the lives that the anniversary clock has touched over the past century, and learn about the love affair that turned a brother into a traitor.

Rich in historical detail, Jenoff’s astonishing new work is a testament to true love under the worst of circumstances.
About the Author
PAM JENOFF is the author of The Kommandant’s Girl, The Diplomat’s Wife, Almost Home, and Hidden Things. She attended George Washington Univer­sity, Cambridge University in England, where she received a master’s in history, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. A former Special Assis­tant to the Secretary of the Army and State Department officer, she lives in Philadelphia, where she works as an attorney.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Wish List

It's time to start narrowing down the list of the books for 2012! Instead, I keep adding to it!

Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.

The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.

Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

This book sounds like it'll be funny and entertaining. The description made me think of the main character from American Beauty (with Kevin Spacey).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Times on Tuesday

What's on the NY Times best seller list today for combined print and e-book fiction?

1 THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett. (Penguin Group.) A young white woman and two black maids in 1960s Mississippi. (It's been on the list for 31 weeks!)

2 NEW YORK TO DALLAS, by J. D. Robb. (Berkley.) An escaped child molester pursues Lt. Eve Dallas; by Nora Roberts, writing pseudonymously.

3 THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE, by Darcie Chan. (Darcie Chan.) Only one man knows an abused widow, which revealed will change many lives in her small Vermont town.

4 KILL ME IF YOU CAN, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp. (Little, Brown.) When a young man finds a bag of diamonds, he gets the attention of the Ghost, a major assassin, and a rival assassin who wants the Ghost gone forever.

5 THE NIGHT CIRCUS, by Erin Morgenstern. (Knopf Doubleday.) Two young rivals at a magical circus become collaborators as they fall in love.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

It's only been released for about 2 weeks, but so far has a 4.28 rating on Goodreads.

6 THE BLACK ICE, by Michael Connelly. (Little, Brown.) The Los Angeles detective Harry Bosch investigates the scandalous death of a narcotics officer.

7 THE ABBEY, by Chris Culver. (Chris Culver.) Against orders, a former homicide detective begins an investigation into his niece's murder.

8 BLIND FAITH, by CJ Lyons. (Legacy.) A woman finds no closure after a man is executed for the murder of her husband and son.

9 1105 YAKIMA STREET, by Debbie Macomber. (Mira.) Bruce Peyton’s pregnant wife has left him, and he’s not the only one in town with problems; Book 11 in the Cedar Cove series.

10 A THOUSAND TOMORROWS, by Karen Kingsbury. (Center Street.) Two troubled young rodeo performers are unable to avoid falling in love, no matter what consequences their actions might bring.

Besides The Help, of course, has anyone read any of the other top best sellers this week?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Movie Mondays


Book, 2003 by Michael Lewis

Moneyball is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can't buy: the secret of success in baseball. The logical places to look would be the front offices of major league teams and the dugouts, perhaps even in the minds of the players themselves. Lewis mines all these possibilities - his intimate and original portraits of big league ballplayers are alone worth the price of admission - but the real jackpot is a cache of numbers - numbers! - collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software engineers, statisticians, Wall Street analysts, lawyers, and physics professors. "What these geek numbers show - no, prove - is that the traditional yardsticks of success for players and teams are fatally flawed. Even the box score misleads us by ignoring the crucial importance of the humble base on balls. This information has been around for years, and nobody inside Major League Baseball paid it any mind. And then came Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics." Billy paid attention to those numbers - with the second-lowest payroll in baseball at his disposal he had to - and this book records his astonishing experiment in finding and fielding a team that nobody else wanted. Moneyball is a roller coaster ride: before the 2002 season opens, Oakland must relinquish its three most prominent (and expensive) players, is written off by just about everyone, and comes roaring back to challenge the American League record for consecutive wins.

Moneyball has a 4.22 rating on Goodreads. Michael Lewis is also the author of The Blind Side.

Movie, 2011 directed by Bennet Miller

Features: Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill

Tagline: What are you really worth?

Watch the trailer:

I can't wait to see this movie! It was just released this weekend...has anyone seen it yet?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Banned Books Week!

Do you know what books were challenged most in the last year? Here are the top 10:

1) And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
2) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
3) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
4) Crank by Ellen Hopkins
5) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
6) Lush by Natasha Friend
7) What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
8) Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
9) Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
10) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

What does it mean to challenge a book anyway? "A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group." Read more at the ALA.

Want to participate in the virtual read-out? Go here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Challenge 2011

Summer has ended...the heat is finally over! So glad fall is here! It's time for a new seasonal reading challenge. I don't know if it can top the summer challenge (favorite follow-ups), but it's going to be good!

I think fall is a great season for scary books, with Halloween approaching and all. This fall, we'll read from the scariest genre of all, true crime.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that The Devil in the White City is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.

Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison.

The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.

Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson's skillful writing.

Why should you participate in the challenge? If the intriguing synopsis isn't enough, then here's why (from Larson's website):

The Devil in the White City remained on the Times hardcover and paperback lists for a combined total of over three years. It won an Edgar Award for nonfiction crime writing and was a finalist for a National Book Award. The option to make a movie of the book was acquired in November 2010 by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Can't wait to read this one! Who's joining in?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last Day of Summer!

How did you do with the Summer Challenge? Did you finish Dreams of Joy and Left Neglected? Can't wait to discuss these two books next month! Looks like we'll meet October 28th. Details to follow...

The new Fall Challenge starts tomorrow! Can't wait to reveal it!

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

Growing up I read all of the Louisa May Alcott books; I loved every one of them. This book was a choice from the June 2011 Indie list. I am putting it on my "to read soon" list.

As uplifting and essential as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel will speak to anyone who’s ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her.
With her older sister, Emma, planning a wedding and her younger sister, Sophie, preparing to launch a career on the London stage, Lulu can’t help but feel like the failure of the Atwater family. Lulu loves her sisters dearly and wants nothing but the best for them, but she finds herself stuck in a rut, working dead-end jobs with no romantic prospects in sight. When her mother asks her to find a cache of old family recipes in the attic of her childhood home, Lulu stumbles across a collection of letters written by her great-great-grandmother Josephine March. In her letters, Jo writes in detail about every aspect of her life: her older sister, Meg’s, new home and family; her younger sister Amy’s many admirers; Beth’s illness and the family’s shared grief over losing her too soon; and the butterflies she feels when she meets a handsome young German. As Lulu delves deeper into the lives and secrets of the March sisters, she finds solace and guidance, but can the words of her great-great-grandmother help Lulu find a place for herself in a world so different from the one Jo knew?

Some things, of course, remain unchanged: the stories and jokes that form a family’s history, the laughter over tea in the afternoon, the desire to do the right thing in spite of obstacles. And above all, of course, the fierce, undying, and often infuriating bond of sisterhood that links the Atwater women every bit as firmly as it did the March sisters all those years ago. Both a loving tribute to Little Women and a wonderful contemporary family story, The Little Women Letters is a heartwarming, funny, and wise novel for today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to find good books...

Only 2 months left until we pick books for next year! Where do you find your to-read books?

One of my favorite places is Indie Bound. They release an Indie Next List every month. Have a look at the list for September. They also release lists for reading groups. Check out the Reading Group List from the summer.

Another website I like is Reading Group Guides. They released their Hot for Book Clubs List for fall. Go see what's on it!

I also like the Book Club Girl blog. Take a look at the sidebars to see what book clubs are talking about and what her very own book club has read.

Can't wait to see what we'll read next year!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Group Picture-I am Nujood Age 10 and Divorced

Although we didn't all love the writing style and perspective, we did appreciate the unbelievable story and the little girl's ability to earn her freedom. The story definitely needed to be told.

Congratulations to Nujood and Shada for being Women of the Year (2008)!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Still Missing by Chevy Sttevens

This is my kind of book!

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.
Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

Still Missing
is that rare debut find--a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.

Another novel by this author is Never Knowing which also seems to be a gripping novel of suspense.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

When I was in college I read the entire series by John Jakes that chronicled the lives of one family. I saw this book at Costco and came home and downloaded it. I loved the John Jakes series; hoping I will also love this.

The opening chapters of the adventure, in the 1920s and 1930s, tells the same events from the perspectives of several different people, each adding or changing what had been told before, and thereby deepening the understanding of the events and the people involved. This style had been used effectively before by William Faulkner in The Sound and the Fury - who people call "the greatest author the US South produced" - and by the editors of the four New Testament Gospels, where each Gospel writer revisits what the others told, with changes, deepening the readers' interest and understanding.

The story hangs on the mystery of Harry Clifton's parentage: who was his father? This mystery, in turn, creates others. What difference does it make who Harry's father is? What happened to Harry's mother's husband? Why do people keep her husband's whereabouts secret? If the mystery of Harry's parentage is not resolved, will it destroy his life?

We read about the extraordinary sacrifices of Harry's mother. She is poor. She is determined that Harry will get schooling, even though she lacks money to pay for the schooling, and even though someone is repeatedly sabotaging her efforts. We read about the very rich Barrington family, the grandfather who is a paragon of goodness, his son Hugo who is clearly evil, and his grandchildren Giles and Emma, and the strong positive emotional feelings that the two have toward Harry. We read also of the people who help Harry, people who travel distances to see his accomplishments even after they retire. These men and women include the poor disheveled bum Old Jack Tarr, a recluse, an eccentric, who everyone knows is crazy, who Harry comes to love, who despite having virtually no money makes sure that Harry has what he needs. And there is the famed Captain Tarrant, winner of the prestigious Victorian Cross, the man who saved many of his comrade's lives during the First World War by killing close to a dozen enemy soldiers, the man whom his comrades respect, a man readers will admire. We see how the onset of the Second World War affects these people.

This, in short, is a splendid well-told tale of generally very likable people who provoke our emotions, people who we like and want to know about.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Man Booker Shortlist

Julian Barnes, Carol Birch, Patrick deWitt, Esi Edugyan, Stephen Kelman and A.D. Miller have been announced as the six shortlisted authors for the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

The six books, selected are:

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller

The winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced on Tuesday, October 18th.

It's sad to say, I haven't even heard of any of these!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

October Book Choices!

It's time to vote for the October book!

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese | Paperback, 667 pages

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

Abraham Verghese is a doctor and professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. Can you believe he's also an author...on the side? Cutting for Stone is his first novel. It has a 4.24 rating on Goodreads.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy | Paperback, 287 pages

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road was the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Literature. It was also chosen for Oprah's Book Club. In 2009, The Road was adapted into a movie starring Viggo Mortensen. It has a 3.94 rating on Goodreads.

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson | Paperback, 307 pages

Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer, and television personality, are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they've never lost touch with each other, or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik.

Dining together one night at Sevcik's apartment--the two Jewish widowers and the unmarried Gentile, Treslove--the men share a sweetly painful evening, reminiscing on a time before they had loved and lost, before they had prized anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. But as Treslove makes his way home, he is attacked and mugged outside a violin dealer's window. Treslove is convinced the crime was a misdirected act of anti-Semitism, and in its aftermath, his whole sense of self will ineluctably change.

The Finkler Question is a funny, furious, unflinching novel of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and the wisdom and humanity of maturity.

Jacobson won the 2010 Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question. Though, the book only has a 2.78 rating on Goodreads.

Susan is hosting the October meeting.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

My friends at work told me this book was exceptionally good. I'm getting on my Kindle--might put it up for next year's books to read for club!

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept. Show More

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart
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