August 25, 2011 by Reader's Connection
Cases rarely come much colder than the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger from her family’s remote island retreat north of Stockholm, nor do fiction debuts hotter than this European bestseller by muckraking Swedish journalist Larsson. At once a strikingly original thriller and a vivisection of Sweden’s dirty not-so-little secrets (as suggested by its original title, Men Who Hate Women ), this first of a trilogy introduces a provocatively odd couple: disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, freshly sentenced to jail for libeling a shady businessman, and the multipierced and tattooed Lisbeth Salander, a feral but vulnerable superhacker. Hired by octogenarian industrialist Henrik Vanger, who wants to find out what happened to his beloved great-niece before he dies, the duo gradually uncover a festering morass of familial corruption–at the same time, Larsson skillfully bares some of the similar horrors that have left Salander such a marked woman. Larsson died in 2004, shortly after handing in the manuscripts for what will be his legacy. — Publishers Weekly
Once again–to the delight of her legion of fans, [Vreeland] imaginatively uses art history as the basis for a carefully constructed historical novel. Vreeland turns this time to French impressionist master Auguste Renoir’s famous painting Luncheon of the Boating Party , which depicts a group of people (in 1880) enjoying leisure time on the terrace of a riverside restaurant. The current conditions in the life of the painter himself launch the author on an amazingly engrossing reinvigoration of the lives of the individuals who modeled for Renoir for that work . . . and all are given a third dimension in Vreeland’s lovely prose, beyond the two dimensions in which they were painted. Renoir’s purpose was to create not only a masterpiece but also a work that would solve the dilemma of his continuing to “belong” to the impressionist school of which he had been a primary founder . . . he put his reputation on the line with Luncheon. — Booklist
Blood may be thicker than water, but can blood ties survive an intense, no-holds-barred writers’ rivalry between sisters in this edge-of-your-seat drama by bestselling author Rosalyn McMillan. Charity Evans and Lynzee Lavender haven’t always had the best relationship—for the most part thanks to them being writers. But while Lynzee is the wealthy, successful New York Times bestselling author of science fiction books, Charity is just squeaking by. Why is success passing her by? And why is her publisher all of a sudden reluctant to renew her contract? Now Charity suspects the worst: That her own sister has had her blacklisted! With her savings dwindling, Charity struggles to pay her bills, and the pressure is putting an incredible strain on her marriage . . . Black Expressions
Jamie Ford’s novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet will be discussed twice in September:
Irvington Library on Thursday, September 8th at 1:30 p.m;
Lawrence Library on Tuesday, September 20th at 10:15 a.m.
Fifth-grade scholarship students and best friends Henry and Keiko are the only Asians in their Seattle elementary school in 1942. Henry is Chinese, Keiko is Japanese, and Pearl Harbor has made all Asians–even those who are American born–targets for abuse. Because Henry’s nationalistic father has a deep-seated hatred for Japan, Henry keeps his friendship with and eventual love for Keiko a secret. When Keiko’s family is sent to an internment camp in Idaho, Henry vows to wait for her. Forty years later, Henry comes upon an old hotel where the belongings of dozens of displaced Japanese families have turned up in the basement, and his love for Keiko is reborn. In his first novel, award-winning short-story writer Ford expertly nails the sweet innocence of first love, the cruelty of racism, the blindness of patriotism, the astonishing unknowns between parents and their children, and the sadness and satisfaction at the end of a life well lived. The result is a vivid picture of a confusing and critical time in American history. — Library Journal
“More dramtatic than fiction…The Guns of August is a magnificent narrative–beautifully organized, elegantly phrased, skillfully paced and sustained….The product of painstaking and sophisticated research.” — Chicago Tribune. Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman has brought to life again the people and events that led up to World War I. With attention to fascinating detail, and an intense knowledge of her subject and its characters, Ms. Tuchman reveals, for the first time, just how the war started, why, and why it could have been stopped but wasn’t. A classic historical survey of a time and a people we all need to know more about, The Guns of August will not be forgotten. — Random House
Haven Kimmel’s She Got Up Off the Couch: and Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana will be discussed at the East 38th Street Library on Monday, September 12th at 6:00 p.m.
In this hilarious and heartbreaking appreciation of her mother, Kimmel takes up where she left off in A Girl Named Zippy with more stories about her family and friends and her hometown of Mooreland, IN, once again narrating from a child’s point of view. After 20 years of marriage, mother-of-three Delonda Jarvis takes a television ad as a sign from God that the time has come for her to take a College Level Entrance Placement test. Her many years of reading and native intelligence work to her advantage, and she aces the test, but going back to college isn’t so simple: Mrs. Jarvis doesn’t know how to drive and has a minimal wardrobe and very little money. What she lacks in financial resources, however, is more than made up by her fortitude, determination, and ingenuity. Zippy’s siblings, Dan and Melinda, make cameo appearances, as do her childhood friends Julie, Rose, and Maggie. Kimmel hints at rather than reveals the family tensions in these essays (with 31 black-and-white photographs throughout), which are destined to make readers fall in love with Zippy all over again.– Library Journal
The Franklin Road Library will host a discussion of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depressionby Amity Shlaes, on Monday, September 12th, at 6:30 p.m.
This breezy narrative comes from the pen of a veteran journalist and economics reporter. Rather than telling a new story, she tells an old one (scarcely lacking for historians) in a fresh way . . . Thus the spotlight plays not only on Andrew Mellon, Wendell Wilkie and Rexford Tugwell but also on Father Divine and the Schechter brothers–kosher butcher wholesalers prosecuted by the federal National Recovery Administration for selling “sick chickens.” As befits a former writer for the Wall Street Journal , Shlaes is sensitive to the dangers of government intervention in the economy–but also to the danger of the government’s not intervening. In her telling, policymakers of the 1920s weren’t so incompetent as they’re often made out to be–everyone in the 1930s was floundering and all made errors–and WWII, not the New Deal, ended the Depression. This is plausible history, if not authoritative, novel or deeply analytical. It’s also a thoughtful, even-tempered corrective to too often unbalanced celebrations of FDR and his administration’s pathbreaking policies. — Publishers Weekly
Bennie is en route from New York, where he shares a cramped apartment with his stroke-disabled mother and her caretaker, to L.A., where he will attend his daughter Stella’s wedding. He gets stranded at O’Hare when his connecting flight–along with all others–is unaccountably canceled. In the long, empty hours amid a marooned crowd, Bennie’s demand for a refund quickly becomes a scathing yet oddly joyful reflection on his difficult life, and on the Polish novel he is translating. Bennie writes lightly of his “dark years” of drinking, of his failed marriages, about his mother’s descent into suicidal madness and about her marriage to Bennie’s father, a survivor of a Nazi labor camp. Bennie’s father recited Polish poetry for solace during Bennie’s childhood, inadvertently setting Bennie’s life course; Bennie’s command of language as he describes his fellow strandees and his riotous embrace of his own feelings will have readers rooting for him. By the time flights resume, Miles has masterfully taken Bennie from grim resignation to the dazzling exhilaration of the possible. — Publishers Weekly
Sonia is tired of raising two six-year-old twins and a thirty-something-year-old husband. Adrian couldn’t love her husband Daryll more if she tried, but he seems more interested in making money than babies. These two women are heartbroken and ready to call it quits when a common friend, Miss Irma, invites them to a prayer group. They discover marriage is more than a wedding – it’s a lifetime of compromise, patience, and forgiveness. But Adrian didn’t sign up for all that, and Sonia is busy eyeing another male prospect up ahead. Will help come in time to save their marriages? — Black Christian News
College Avenue Library‘s Sugarbook Club will have their monthly discussion on Tuesday, September 13th at 6:00 p.m. If you have questions, you can call the branch at 275-4320.
Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption, by Jennifer Thompson-Canniino and Ronald Cotton, will be discussed at the Pike Library on Monday, September 19th at 6:30 p.m.
In 1984 Thompson-Cannino was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment. In a lineup, she “picked” Ronald Cotton as the person responsible, but the real rapist, Bobby Poole, who resembled Cotton, was not in that line. Eleven years later Cotton was cleared by DNA evidence and Poole was convicted. Thompson-Cannino, who had been sure of her original identification, was overcome with grief, and this book is her mea culpa for her mistake. Divided into three parts–the author’s story, Cotton’s story, and the story of the meeting and eventual friendship between the two–this easy-to-read book is often touching as Thompson-Cannino challenges our ideas of memory and judgment, and as Cotton talks about his faith and forgiveness. Although it does not offer a lot that is new in the annals of crime and punishment, it does offer the reader a different perspective. — Library Journal
Simon Winchester’s The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom will be discussed at the Spades Park Library on Thursday, September 22nd at 6:00 p.m.
Joseph Needham (1900-95) was a Cambridge University don, left-wing enthusiast, and author of the multivolume, still-uncompleted Science and Civilization in China . . . Winchester’s biography reveals a man of unquenchable energy and curiosity, which kept Needham’s contemporaries constantly wondering what he would get up to next. The brilliant Needham precociously secured his academic future by his early twenties, but his specialty of biochemistry seemed only to compete with the myriad fascinations he adopted with adolescent glee and the innocence of a naïf. Steam engines, religion, folk dances, foreign languages, and female company jostled in Needham’s boisterous mind, much of which is revealed through the diaries Needham kept all his life. One day in 1937, he recorded the arrival at his office, and soon in his bed, of Lu Gwei-djen, a Chinese biochemist. From this romance (tolerated by Mrs. Needham) a monumental book was born, conceived in the course of fantastic adventures to collect Chinese texts that Needham undertook as a British diplomat in World War II China . . . The capacious life of an academic comes alive in Winchester’s skilled, insightful portrait. — Booklist
Diego Rivera’s mural in Mexico’s Palacio Nationale was only half complete the day young Harrison Shepherd stood transfixed before it, but he would be forever captive to the extraordinary power of the imagination. A solitary child, a devourer of books, left to his own devices by a mother chasing unattainable men and a father pencil pushing for the government back in the States, Harrison observes and he writes. When a quirk of fate lands him in the home of Communist sympathizers Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Rivera’s wife, Harrison becomes enmeshed in the turbulent history that will inform his life and work. Through the distinctive voices of Harrison and his insightful amanuensis, Violet Brown, Kingsolver paints a verbal panorama spanning three decades and two countries . . . As in The Poisonwood Bible, Kingsolver perfects the use of multiple points of view, even reprinting actual newspaper articles to blur the line between fact and fiction. This is her most ambitious, timely, and powerful novel yet. — Library Journal