Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Place and a Condition

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan in August of 1974."

So begins this book and the explanation for this intriguing conundrum comes promptly thereafter, when we learn of the narrator's ancient genetic mutation, in conjunction with a brief smattering of the contradictions in the speaker's life that led up to, and immediately followed, this astounding discovery. Fascinating, right - and that's just on the first pages of this novel.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Burning and Building Bridges

Letters from the Fire by Alma Alexandra Hromic and R. A. Deckert

During the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, also known as "Operation Allied Force," two people "meet" on an internet newsgroup – one is a woman in Yugoslavia, watching the bombing of her homeland by NATO forces. The other is a man in the USA – watching the news from afar. As they argue the different sides of what they see and what they believe is right, they discover a connection that is stronger than their disagreements, and surpasses the physical distance between them.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Finding a Fictional Role Model

How to Be a Heroine: or What I've Learned from Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis

Calling all women who read fiction: tell me, can you point to one female character from any book or story you've ever read and say, "Yes, that's me" or even "Yes, that's who I want to be like"? If you can't, or if you once had one but now, you realize she's not exactly right, you should read this book. This is what Samantha Ellis sets out to investigate after her best friend challenges her when she says Cathy Earnshaw is her ultimate heroine, and suggests Jane Eyre in her stead. This revolutionary idea was the beginning of Ellis' search to find out which of these literary females she was not only most akin to, but also which one she really wanted to be like.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Last of Will and his Testament

Will by Christopher Rush

Biographies can often be terribly boring, academic tomes that find interest only to those fascinated by the subjects. Autobiographies can be terribly indulgent works that leave out anything negative about the person. In general, it is far more fun to read fiction. What makes this book different is that it is a fictional autobiography. What this means is Rush decided to get into the head and voice of the most famous writer of all time, William Shakespeare, and write a biographical piece with the narrator being none other than the Bard himself!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

To the 4th generation

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell

In the late 1800s, Lenz Alter was a chemist who succeeded in discovering the compound to make fertilizer, winning him a Nobel Prize. After that discovery, the thing that started out to feed the world, morphed into the deadly chemical weapons of two world wars - chlorine gas and Zyclon. The shadow of this tormented the Alter family, filling its tree with three generations of suicides. In 1999, the fourth generation of Alters, Lady, Vee and Delph are three sisters and his last descendants. For the sins of their fathers, they have decided to kill themselves. Before they do, they want the world to know why. This is their story, as well as their collective suicide note. The question is how three sisters are able to write just one suicide note.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Capturing Memories for Eternity

I Stopped Time by Jane Davis

When Lottie Pye died at the age of 108 she left her whole collection of thousands of photographs to her son James, who she hadn't seen in almost 80 years. When James happens upon Jenny Jones, a University student studying photography, he decides to let her go through them and catalog them, never realizing that this could finally be a way to get to know both his mother, and himself.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Illusions and Elusions

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

It is 1905 and the woman they call the Amazing Arden is a magician whose fame is on the rise. After her last show, they find a dead man and identify him as her husband; of course, she is the first suspect for this murder. Officer Virgil Holt was in the audience that night, finding himself both fascinated and fearful when she cut a man in half. When he hears about the murder, his superior takes things in hand, and sends him home. On his way, he runs into Arden, who is obviously on the run. Taking her into custody, Holt decides to hear what she has to say in her defense, before handing her over to the certain fate of the gallows. Is she guilty, or innocent? Will this be Holt's finest hour, or will she escape and make him a fool?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Completing Charlotte Brontë's manuscript

Emma Brown by Clare Boylan

NOTE: When Charlotte Brontë, author of the classic novel "Jane Eyre," died in 1855, she left behind 20 pages of a manuscript of a new novel, along with some other scraps of pieces she had been working on. Almost 150 years later in 2003, Irish author Clare Boylan took it upon herself to complete what Charlotte had begun. Despite this 21st century written book, it is truly a classic novel, and a credit to the Charlotte Brontë name and legacy.