Saturday, January 31, 2015

An Artistic Novel, and that's No Secret!

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

Before there was Elvis, there was Johnnie Ray – an American pop singer who made girls all over the world swoon, and teenaged Penelope Wallace was one of them. Before there was Charlotte Ferris, it seemed like Penelope was living in a dreary world of post-WWII England, still rife with shortages – especially cash. But when Charlotte meets Penelope waiting for a bus and practically kidnaps her for an afternoon tea at her Aunt Claire’s house, everything changes, not just for these two girls, but for just about everyone in both their families. As these two upper class but financially impoverished 18-year-olds become fast friends, the learn more about each other, their worlds and the people in them. What’s more, it seems like everyone has some sort of secret to keep.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

21 days on an Ocean Liner with an 11-year-old boy

The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje (author of "The English Patient"), has a distinctively unique style to his writing. His literary voice is poetic and fluid, yet also highly accessible. This comes through in all his writing, giving his work a deceptively simplistic feel, while remaining evocatively beautiful. However, he also likes to surprise his readers in the way he constructs his books, and each one is a bit different from his others. For instance, his previous two novels, Anil's Ghost and Divisadero, are almost conventionally structured. Other of his works, including this novel, are more like series of vignettes with lines of disjointed dialog or poetry, not all of which follow a direct timeline. While this may sound like it could be confusing, Ondaatje's artistry is in that the reader never feels like they aren't sure of when and where the action is taking place. This he does with the language alone, without any superfluous background information or details.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Everything old is new again!

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

It is a rare instance when non-fiction reads like fiction, and Helene Hanff’s book is exactly one of those exceptions. Long before the age of the Internet and on-line book sellers like Amazon, New York writer Hanff saw an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature for a second-hand book shop called Marks & Co, which was located on 84 Charing Cross Road, in London, England. As she was in need of some items that were out of print or unavailable in the USA, on October 5, 1949 she decided to write to them. This began a more than 20 year-long international relationship between Hanff and the store’s employees, and in particular, one Frank Doel.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

For the Back of Your Mind

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

How can we know if we're making the right the decisions? More importantly, is there any way we can know in how these decisions will affect our lives and the lives of others. This is the basic theme of this novel which begins in 1964 when Dr. David Henry's wife Nora is about to give birth to twins in the middle of a blizzard. When they can't get to the hospital, he stops at his clinic and calls in his nurse to assist him. The first child is a boy they call Paul, and he's perfect. The second child is a girl named Phoebe, but she has Down syndrome. When Dr. Henry sees this, he makes one of those life-altering decisions. Instead of telling his wife about Phoebe, he gives the child to his nurse Caroline, and tells to take the child to an institution. He then tells his wife that Phoebe died. However, after seeing the horrible place David sends her, Caroline immediately decides to leave town and raise Phoebe as her own. The rest of the novel follows these two separate stories.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"The Wednesday Sisters" Sequel Story

The Wednesday Daughters by Meg Waite Clayton

Ally, Hope's mother, has died. Not long before her death, she made several visits the Lake District in England, researching a biography of Beatrix Potter. Hope, together with Anna Page and Julie are going to Ally's cottage to pack up her things and say goodbye. Soon after they get there, they find a diary written in code. This novel is about the secrets Hope's mother tried to hide, and the things that connect these three girls to both each other and the place they're visiting for the first time.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A fine (gay) romance

The Apple Polisher by Heidi Belleau

Christian wants to be a preschool teacher, and he's enrolled in a prestigious MA program where he has to be a model citizen. But that isn't as easy as it seems when you're gay. With no money, he finds the only place he can afford. When one of his roommates is the gorgeous Max, it looks like he's going to have an even harder (pun intended) time of it. And then there's his Auntie Beverly, whose cancer isn't getting better and her porn video shop is on the verge of bankruptcy.