“Give me a room whose every nook is dedicated to a book.”
by Kent Haruf (Random House)
Kent has delivered another masterpiece of the eastern plains of Colorado. Kent returns to the fictional town of Holt. Dad Lewis is dying of cancer. He is well-known in the town. Kent develops his characters so deeply and fully that one is saddened by completely this novel. A much more somber book from Plainsong but the reader comes to love and honor Kent’s display of fine literature.
The Mirrored World
by Debra Dean (Harper Perennial)
Debra has written another period piece set in Russia during the 1700s. Xenia, a lower class nobility, is the center of this story. An exhuberant young woman, she falls in love with Andrei, an imperial choir member. Tragedy strikes and Xenia becomes morose and then becomes, what some people would call, a saint. This is, also, the story of the narrator, Dasha, Xenia’s cousin and her life in the shadows of Xenia. Descriptions of the imperial life of Catherine and the lives of the poorest citizens make for a vivid read.
The End of Your Life Book Club
by Will Schwalbe (Random House)
Will and his dying mother have almost two years to read books together. The book club formed during Mary Ann’s chemotherapy sessions and continued up until the day she died. Mary Ann was an amazing woman but Will’s compassion and love shines right along with her personality. The list of books and comments from each of them were very enlightening. I special ordered one of the titles immediately upon reading the segment in this book. Touching, insipiring and lovely.
by Charlie Mac (Filter Press)
What if Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid did not die in Bolivia? This debut novel by a local author ponders this question. From Bolivia to Colorado and New York and Oregon, this adventure-packed story brings these two western figures back to life. Butch and Sundance have married and become upstanding citizens in America but are in possession of a journal which could incriminate various well-known and rich families. This is a story of the pursuit of this journal by these families.
Shadow on the Mountain
by Margi Preus (Amulet)
Margi has written an amazing fictional adventure story based on the life of Erling St0rrusten. Norway was occupied by the Germans during World War II. Many Norwegians practiced passive resistance. This is a story of a young boy, Epsen who starts a newspaper running operation and becomes a spy. The tension, the relationships of friends and family make for an exciting read.
A Good American
by Alex George (Amy Einhorn Books)
I picked this book up and emerged three days later! This is a story of one family through two generations. An old-fashioned epic of immigrants landing in New Orleans in 1904 and settling into a life in Beatrice, Missouri. This is a story told by Jette and Frederick’s grandson, James. There are people to love, to hate, to questions but throughout the story, one can feel the love of America and of family. Alex George, a naturalized citizen captures the wonder of the immigrant experience.
by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Harper Collins)
This is a retelling of the Peter Pan story told in the voice of Tinker Bell. Tink attaches herself to Tiger Lily as she grows, matures, falls in love with Peter and the consequences of that love. The novel is full of adventure but, also, lots of depth regarding relationships. I particularly loved the author’s depiction of mermaids! A great read for late-middle school into adulthood.
by Tracy Chevalier (Penguin Putnam)
Set in the 1800s in SW England, Tracy captures the time perfectly. Mary and Elizabeth, women of different social status, become friends. Mary, a poor lower class citizen of Lime Regis, has a gift for finding fossils. Elizabeth, a transplant from London’s higher society quickly becomes addicted to fossil hunting. These two women’s lives are portrayed in alternating chapters. Themes of gender and social discrimination are well told as is the questions of extinction, evolution and religion. Well-written historical fiction.
Liesl & Po
by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins)
Liesl is locked in her stepmother’s attic after her dad mysteriously dies and has Po and Bundle, two ghosts for friends. Will, an apprentice for an alchemist stops under Liesl’s windown nightly on his delivery rounds. A mishap of mixed-up boxes creates an adventure as Will, Liesl, Po and Bundle attempt to spread the dad’s ashes out where he requested. Magic, evasion and chases fill the story as one becomes endeared with the characters. A wonderful portrayal of the “Other Side”.
by Catherine Chung (Penguin Putnam)
This is a moving story of two sisters and two countries. Janie and Hannah, Korean born but raised in America have grown apart. Their dad has an inoperable stomach cancer. The family had left Korea due to political upheavals and threats to the dad’s life. The only hope is a journey back to Korea where the dad will undergo alternative treatments. As the treatments fail, the family realizes he is going to die. The tension between the two sisters, the two families, the two countries all make for a tense, well-written novel. The atmosphere of the “forgotten” country of Korea is lush.
Paintings From The Cave
by Gary Paulsen (Random House)
Gary Paulsen is known for his books for midlle grade and young adult readers. His most famous book is Hatchet. Three novellas make up this latest book of Gary’s and is due out the 13th of September. The novellas each tell the story of a young person “trapped” in an impossible home situation. Whether dealing with physical abuse, drug abuse, sheer poverty, these children are strong and have hopes and dreams which seem unreachable, but through chance encounters with strangers each child develops a strong sense of hope. The message to be kind to all as one never knows the influence one has on another’s life is subtle yet in your face.
by Lisa Genova (Simon & Schuster)
Lisa’s newest book after Still Alice is as well-written and informative. A 30-year old woman has a severe accident leaving her with a neurological condition known as Left Neglect which leaves the woman without any knowledge of the left side of her body. This book was totally engrossing and eye-opening.
Next To Love
By Ellen Feldman (Random House)
This is a story of war, PTSD of the returning men and the affects on their families and themselves. Three women narrate this story in alternating chapters from the beginning of World War II up until the 1960s. Very moving and telling of “shell shock” as PTSD was called back then. Unflincing in the scars left by war.
The Big Burn
Teddy Roosevelt and The Fire that Saved America
by Timothy Egan (Mariner Books)
On August 10, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno that jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in an eye blink. It consumed three million woodland acres, wiped out several railroad junction towns and killed nearly 100 people, most of them temporary fire fighters and the U.S. Forest Rangers who had hired them.
Equally dramatic, though, is the larger story Egan tells of outsized president Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by every citizen. Egan weaves his account of the Big Burn with the creation of the United States Forest Service and paints a moving portrait of the people who lived it and offers a critical cautionary tale for our time.
The Bride’s House
by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin’s Press)
There really is a Bride’s House, located in Georgetown, Colorado. Dallas, the author, bought the derelict house and knew immediately she had to write a book about it. Set amid the boom and bust history of a Colorado mining town, is a story of love and loss. It follows the lives of three unforgettable women from the 1880′s into the twentieth century. Three generations of women reaches beyond the years straight to the heart. A must read for Dallas fans.
Turn of Mind
By Alice LaPlante (Random House)
This book will not be released until July of this year but I must write a review of the story. Dr. White, an orthopedic surgeon has Alzheimer’s disease. The novel is presented in a journal-form with no chapters and no logical sequence except that Dr. White’s disease progresses quickly. We meet the family and Dr. White at their home but soon after, Dr. White is put in a facility. The descriptions of the “vertigo” of her memory is haunting. One is exhausted yet mesmerized by the telling of her story. Not only does the reader feel the frustration of Dr. White, but one feels the angst and sadness of her two children. I cannot say enough about this book.
If I Stay
by Gayle Foreman (Penguin Putnam)
In the blink of an eye, life can change. We have all experienced this in our lives. This is a young adult novel about Mia, a talented cello player. Her dream is to get into the Julliard School of Music in New York City. All changes one snowy evening while driving home with her parents and brother on a windy road in Oregon. Mia lands in a hospital, the only survivor of the accident, in a coma. The story is told in Mia’s voice as she debates whether to stay or go. Adam, her boyfriend, her grandfather and her best friend, Kim keep vigil. This story is an excellent book on the subject of love and loss. The subject of this story is difficult but Ms. Foreman handles it with grace and realistic feelings. There is now a sequel to this novel, Where She Went and is told in Adam’s voice. Older teens and adults will enjoy this deep novel.