July 4, 2016 by Reader's Connection
You know how some stories are said to have “twists?” Well, Becky Masterman’s 2013 novel Rage Against the Dying begins in a twist. I can’t go into details, but the reader doesn’t know who’s what when the story kicks in.
Brigid Quinn is a retired FBI agent who used to track sexually predatory serial killers. An old case opens up, and of course she is drawn back into the darkness.
This may sound familiar, but author Masterman has created some wonderful characters–starting with Brigid–and is so good at creating suspense that she can visit an old crime, of which the readers already know the outcome, and still keep us jumping.
I found Rage Against the Dying at the Topiary Library. By which I mean I drove down Pennsylvania Street, crossed Washington Street and made a quick left turn onto Virginia Avenue (if you reach Maryland Street you’ve gone too far) and there was Eric Nordgulen’s sculpture Topiary, on a southern reach of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, filled with books for the borrowing.
Topiary is one of the nine artworks/book-collections in the Public Collection. They’re situated at different locations in town, and part of my Bicentennial Reader’s Challenge for 2016 was to visit at least three of them in the course of the year, and read a book from each of the three. To be honest, I hope to visit more than three, but we had a rainy spring; and Topiary is only the second Public Collection library at which I’ve touched down.
According to artist Nordgulen, Topiary is
a series of linear vine forms that suggest growth and development, a kind of topiary composition that wraps around an existing planted garden space on the trail. Thus, these sculpture forms emerge from the garden space and suggest that reading is another form of growth.
I deposited a couple of books, and took a couple. The first was from the tall, free-standing trellis; but I’m not sure I’m going to read that one.
Rage Against the Dying was waiting for me in the smaller middle pod.
What awaits me at the next Public Collection library that I visit?
Follow Reader’s Connection on Twitter.
June 30, 2016 by Reader's Connection
Click here (or on the picture above) if you’re an author who wants to have a place that day in the Simon Main Reading Room at Central Library.
Registration ends July 31. Seating space for authors is limited, and registration does not guarantee participation.
For more information about the Indiana Authors Awards that will be presented that evening, click the IAA icon.
June 27, 2016 by Reader's Connection
Have a happy 4th of July! Note that the holiday has shifted some of the discussion dates, early in the month.
Also: Hope you’re having a happy birthday, Indiana! The strange Hoosier shapes below mark those discussions as part of our Adult Summer Reading Program; and all of those sessions will be led by guests from the Indiana Writers Center.
From 10:00 to 11:30, attendees will read aloud (if they wish to), sample refreshments (if they wish to), and discuss. A poem will be read.
A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall–and long–narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise’s father, taking with him the museum’s greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle’s house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise’s and Werner’s paths cross. — Booklist
The Franklin Road Branch will host a discussion of Daniel Silva’s The English Spy on Monday, July 11th at 6:30 p.m. A representative of the Jewish Community Center will lead the discussion and preview Silva’s July appearance at the JCC.
Silva’s series hero, Gabriel Allon, works in the best (if somewhat preposterous) tradition of the gentleman spy who coolly juggles avocations and assassinations. Allon is an art restorer par excellence and a master spy who works for Israel’s secret intelligence service. This time out, the art restoration (which generally is the most fascinating and original part of Silva’s novels) is glossed over in favor of the search for the killer of a British royal. No sooner have Gabriel and his wife, Chiara (pregnant with twins), discovered a long-lost Caravaggio in sore need of repair, but he’s called away to try to determine who masterminded the murder of the former wife of the future king of England aboard her pleasure yacht in the Caribbean. The victim is obviously derived from Princess Diana, but the way that Silva shows us the steps involved in the princess’ assassination is truly thrilling . . .Silva delivers another involving spy novel as cat-and-mouse game. — Booklist
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard’s passionate romance, fragile Vivien Leigh, and complicated and creative Margaret Mitchell come to life in this captivating novel set during the filming of Gone with the Wind. Alcott (The Dressmaker; The Daring Ladies of Lowell) knows how to write historical fiction, and she has an almost embarrassingly extensive wealth of subject matter here: the glamour, the backbiting, the gossip fed by columnists such as Louella Parsons, and daily crises on the set owing to controlling producer David O. Selznick. Alcott doesn’t neglect the uglier side of this period: Gable is recruited by the film’s African American cast members to protest the segregated bathrooms on the set (which he did by threatening to quit if it wasn’t changed); anti-Semitism is rampant, and the protagonist, Julie Crawford from Fort Crawford, IN, endures blatant sexism in her quest to become a screenwriter. Her romance with handsome Jewish assistant producer Andy Weinstein, who is concerned about his relatives’ safety in Europe, brings impending World War II into the picture. — Library Journal
Before there was the family, there was just the business. From the minds of New York Times bestselling authors Carl Weber and Eric Pete comes the game-changing prequel to their blockbuster Family Business saga. Travel back to a small Southern town where, before there was Duncan Motors, there were the Duncan brothers: Louis, aka Sweet Lou, a lover of ladies and life . . . and a man you did not want to cross; Lawrence, aka Larry, a screw-up as attracted to trouble as it was to him; and Lavernius, better known as LC, the soft-spoken college boy who simply wanted to sell cars. But the Duncan brothers weren’t alone at the crossroads. There was also the mysterious and seductive Chippy, a woman who saw a way out of her circumstances and dared to take it. Witness what changed the course of their lives when ambitions intersected with opportunity that came calling one day in the form of a man named Alejandro Zuniga. Welcome to the familiar, but as you’ve never seen it before. — Publisher’s note
Also at 6:30 on Monday, July 11, the Poetry & Lyric Discussion Group at the Beech Grove Branch will be looking at the poem “Paddle Your Own Canoe” by Sarah T. Bolton, and the lyric “Starman” by David Bowie
The Adult Summer Reading Program, focused on Indiana in honor of our state’s 200th birthday, will continue with a discussion of Douglas A. Wissing’s IN Writing: Uncovering the Unexpected Hoosier State at the Indiana Medical History Museum (3045 W. Vermont Street) on Tuesday, July 12th at 6:00 p.m.
Douglas Wissing has been writing about Indiana for years, and in this book he has gathered essays that look at our state from a host of different angles.
Where in Indiana can you get a bowl of authentic (if illegal) turtle soup? When and where was John Dillinger buried? Where was Comedian Red Skelton born? And long-time Director of the Selective Service (the draft) Lewis B. Hershey? How long has Shapiro’s deli been downtown? Wissing answers most of these questions—he’s a bit secretive about the turtle soup—in winning, sometimes affectionate, sometimes heated essays.
IN Writing is also available as an eBook.
In 1962, Pasquale Tursi, inheritor-proprietor of the Hotel Adequate View in Porto Vergogna, Italy, a tiny coastal village visited only by tourists who overshoot the similarly named neighbor they intended to go to, is shocked when beautiful, sickly American starlet Dee Moray arrives, on purpose. The reason for her presence, the botched cover-up of a minor disaster that occurred, in all places, on the set of the epically doomed Cleopatra, becomes but the first of the novel’s many disasters. The story moves to present-day Hollywood, home to a shark producer and his young assistant who’s hungry for the magic of cinema’s golden era but too smart to quit the reality-show revenue. To say Walter succeeds in stitching past to present, continent to continent, undercuts the book entirely; he rather reimagines history in a package so appealing we’d be idiots not to buy it. At one point, from their perch on a tiny paddleboat, a drunken Richard Burton turns to Pasquale to note, This is one strange goddamn movie. Walter tragicomically exposes the recesses between the desires and intentions of his protagonists and how close the two might be if it weren’t for the rest of the world. A novel shot in sparkly Technicolor. — Booklist
Englischer Amber Wright manages a complex of Amish shops set in the heart of Middlebury, IN. Her idyllic existence is shattered when Ethan Gray, the proprietor of a coffee shop, dies suddenly of an apparent heart attack. His body is found by Hannah, a young Amish woman from a neighboring store. Although the police rule Ethan’s death is the result of natural causes, the ensuing vandalism perpetrated upon members of the tight-knit community casts doubts on that assumption. A bloody message, taken from the Bible’s Book of Daniel, is found near Tate Bowman’s fields. Amber and Hannah turn into amateur sleuths as they attempt to identify the culprit. As the vandalism escalates, so does Tate and Amber’s mutual attraction. Will they figure out who is behind the trouble before more people are killed? VERDICT Fans of romance and cozy mysteries will fall in love with the characters in this series opener . . . Readers will look forward to visiting the Amish Village Shops and their quirky inhabitants in the next installment. — Library Journal
Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean have been close friends since girlhood, growing up in the 1960s in the southern Indiana town of Plainview. Their personalities and cool good looks earned them the name the Supremes when they’d meet regularly to eat at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, with Big Earl keeping a watchful eye on them. Now in middle age, the Supremes meet regularly with their husbands for dinner at Earl’s, now managed by his son. The aging Supremes and Earl’s are institutions in a black community that has seen much progress since the 1950s, when the restaurant became the first black-owned business in a racially divided town. But the town as well as the women have also seen much trouble. Odette makes time in her busy life for the regular visitations of her dead mother, Clarice copes with the humiliation of an unfaithful husband, and Barbara Jean struggles to hide her drinking to assuage the death of her child. Moore intersperses episodes from the past with their current lives, showing their enduring friendship through good times and bad. — Booklist
Set on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota in 1988, Erdrich’s 14th novel focuses on 13-year-old Joseph. After his mother is brutally raped yet refuses to speak about the experience, Joe must not only cope with her slow physical and mental recovery but also confront his own feelings of anger and helplessness. Questions of jurisdiction and treaty law complicate matters. Doubting that justice will be served, Joe enlists his friends to help investigate the crime. VERDICT Erdrich skillfully makes Joe’s coming-of-age both universal and specific. Like many a teenage boy, he sneaks beer with his buddies, watches Star Trek: The Next Generation, and obsesses about sex. But the story is also ripe with detail about reservation life, and with her rich cast of characters, from Joe’s alcoholic and sometimes violent uncle Whitey and his former-stripper girlfriend Sonja, to the ex-marine priest Father Travis and the gleefully lewd Grandma Thunder, Erdrich provides flavor, humor, and depth. Joe’s relationship with his father, Bazil, a judge, has echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird, as Bazil explains to his son why he continues to seek justice despite roadblocks to prosecuting non-Indians. — Libnrary Journal
The Round House is also available as an audiobook on CD.
Food For Thought tells the story of Indiana’s food renaissance through the voices of more than 80 people who are creating this fresh and dynamic scene. Each of these substantive, first person stories is enhanced by original color photography, creating a vivid composite view of this extraordinary moment in Indiana history. — Indiana Historical Society
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Branch on Sunday, July 24th at 1:00 p.m.
This month’s theme: Non-human intelligences: Maybe they’re aliens. Maybe they’re faeries. But, as smart as they are, they just don’t think like us.
James Willis’s Haunted Indiana: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Hoosier State, will be discussed at the Metazoa Brewing Company (140 S. College Avenue) on Mon, Jul 25th at 6:00 p.m.
Highlighting some lesser known history from around the state, Haunted Indiana pays special attention to paranormal activity associated with that history. The bite-size stories include Indianapolis’s House of Blue Lights, The Smell of Death at Hannah House, Ghosts in the Old Bordello, Riverdale’s Haunted Pool, and The Ghostly Carriage Ride at Hawkeye. Although the stories are brief, Willis includes an extensive bibliography so readers can dive deeper into those of particular interest. Willis has written, “I can honestly tell you that Indiana has some of the most disturbing and twisted ghost stories in existence.”
Haunted Indiana is also available as an eBook.
A bookseller embarks on a quest for his own happy ending in George’s novel. Jean Perdu’s Literary Apothecary is unique among Paris bookshops, and not just because it’s a barge moored on the Seine. Perdu has the uncanny ability to prescribe the perfect book to cure any spiritual malady: heartbreak, loneliness, ennui. But for 21 years–ever since the woman he loved walked out of his life–Perdu has lived an ascetic, routine-filled existence, and he’s never opened the farewell letter she left for him. When he’s finally compelled to read it, the unexpected contents spur him to hoist his anchor and take the bookstore barge on a trip upriver to Avignon, in search of closure and forgiveness. Max Jordan, an eccentric young author paralyzed by writer’s block, hitches a ride as the boat is pulling out of port. Along the way the pair encounters a host of other quirky characters, who feed Perdu incredible cuisine, help unravel a long-unsolved literary mystery, and teach him to feel joy again . . . [Nina George’s] sumptuous descriptions of both food and literature will leave readers unsure whether to run to the nearest library or the nearest bistro. — Publishers Weekly
Gulley is well known for his popular Harmony series featuring Quaker pastor Sam Gardner and the happenings in tiny Harmony, Ind. Gulley, himself an Indiana Quaker pastor, has a new publisher and embarks on a new series with the lovable Gardner. He’s in his 14th year at the Harmony Friends Meeting and still clashing with Dale Hinshaw and Fern Hampton, but new battle lines are drawn when Sam, pinch-hitting at the local Unitarian church, inadvertently performs a same-sex wedding. With his wife looking for a job and the congregation up in arms, it seems like a good time to consider an “opportunity for ministry” at Hope Friends Meeting. Gulley’s many fans will enjoy renewing acquaintance with Sam, wince at his struggles, and grin at his triumphs, and eagerly turn pages as he makes his way through a maze of decisions and inner turmoil. More conservative readers may take issue with the same-sex marriage, although he may have lost those a couple books back. A worthy and anticipated follow-up to the Harmony series. — Publishers Weekly
Bookmamas (9 Johnson Avenue) will host a discussion of Indianapolis Jazz: The Masters, Legends and Legacy of Indiana Avenue by David Leander Williams on Saturday, July 30th at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Williams explores the rich and vibrant history of jazz in Indianapolis against the backdrop of Indiana Avenue. He traces the beginnings of African American cultural life on the Avenue from the pre-civil war era to its unfortunate demise in the 1970’s. In its heyday the Avenue was home to over fifty clubs offering blues, jazz and R&B entertainment; and these establishments were visited by artists like Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Hoagy Carmichael and Cannonball Adderley. There were over three hundred businesses that included barbershops, funeral homes, cafes, pawn shops and dry cleaners. Williams succinctly explains how factors such as integration, urban renewal, highway expansion and crime ultimately led to the decline of Indiana Avenue.
Indianapolis Jazz is also available as an eBook
If not otherwise attributed, book reviews were written by IndyPL staff.
Follow Reader’s Connection on Twitter.
June 23, 2016 by Reader's Connection
Happy 4th of July to everyone! My thanks go to Ikluft for his picture of the fireworks in San Jose, California (July 4, 2007) which he posted on Wikimedia Commons; and to the ten librarians around the country for reviewing these new books; and of course to the authors.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Once on the fast-track to academic stardom, Jason Dessen finds his quiet family life and career upended when a stranger kidnaps him. Suddenly Jason’s idle “what-ifs” become panicked “what-nows,” as the humble quantum physics professor from a small Chicago college gets to explore the roads not taken with a mind-bending invention that opens doors to other worlds. This fun science fiction thriller is also a thoughtful page-turner with heart that should appeal to fans of Harlan Coben. — Elizabeth Eastin, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton, NY
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
An intruder in the middle of the night leaves Lo Blacklock feeling vulnerable. Trying to shake off her fears, she hopes her big break of covering the maiden voyage of the luxury cruise ship, the Aurora, will help. The first night of the voyage changes everything. What did she really see in the water and who was the woman in the cabin next door? The claustrophobic feeling of being on a ship and the twists and turns of who, and what, to believe keep you on the edge of your seat. Count on this being one of the hot reads this summer! — Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH
The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
The Last One tells the story of twelve contestants who are sent to the wilderness in a Survivor-like reality show. But while they’re away, the world changes completely and what is real and what is not begins to blur. It’s post-apocalyptic literary fiction at it’s best. With a fast pace and a wry sense of humor, this is the kind of book that will appeal to readers of literary fiction and genre fiction alike. It points out the absurdity of reality television without feeling condescending. As the readers wake up to the realities of a new world, it becomes difficult to put down. — Leah White, Ela Area Public Library, Lake Zurich, IL
Among the Wicked: A Kate Burkholder Novel by Linda Castillo
In the small Amish locale of Painters Mill, police chief Kate Burkholder decides to take an undercover assignment in a community where the death of a young girl was reported. Her long time love, Agent John Tomasetti, is reluctant with her decision because of the lack of communication he will have with her. Burkholder begins to unfold the true horrors on the local farm and unearths the dangers the town officials suspected. She finds herself trapped in a life threatening cat and mouse game. This ongoing series is a true gem and a personal favorite. — KC Davis, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Fairfield, CT
The Unseen World by Liz Moore
The Unseen World is a compelling read with vibrant, finely constructed characters. Moore intertwines a complex coming of age story with the science of cryptology and the history of artificial intelligence, while simultaneously exploring the meaning of love, loss and belonging. The core of the novel explores the relationship between Ada and her scientist father David. When a tragedy upends their routine lives, Ada embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will eventually lead her to new truths. Elements of mystery and suspense keep you turning the pages in this multi-layered gem of a book. — Janie Hermann, Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
A typical afternoon barbecue among friends becomes something much bigger when one pivotal moment of inattention leads to repercussions for all in attendance. In trademark Moriarty style, the story flashes back and forth between the day of the barbecue and two months later, slowly revealing the events of the day and its consequences, creating a delicious momentum for the reader as the tension builds and the pieces fall into place. Moriarty has another sure-fire winner with this look at the complexities of friendship, marriage, and familial relationships. — Halle Eisenman, Beaufort County Library, Hilton Head, SC
All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
A dark, twisty, intricately-plotted psychological thriller about a teen girl, assaulted after a party, as she tries to regain her memories of the event after taking a controversial drug that erases traumatic memories. Walker’s many plot and character threads are carefully placed, and she weaves them all together into a satisfying, shattering conclusion. I’m betting we’ll be seeing this title in a LOT of beach bags over the summer. — Gregg Winsor, Johnson County Library, Roeland Park, KS
The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
When Beth and Matt, an aspiring politician, move from NYC to DC, Beth initially hates it. But things start to turn around for her when they befriend another “transplant” couple, Ashleigh and Jimmy. Beth’s loyalty is tested when she is forced to admit to herself that Matt is just not quite as attractive, magnetic or charismatic as his rival-friend, Jimmy…..who harbors similar political aspirations. The Hopefuls is on point in its descriptions of young marriage, career ambition, and complicated friendships. The characters are completely compelling. I was overdue for a great read and this was it! — Amy Lapointe, Amherst Town Library, Amherst, NH
Siracusa by Delia Ephron
Michael and Lizzie are vacationing with another couple and their daughter, named Snow. As the story unfolds, the reader is introduced to infidelities. Ephron does a tremendous job in exposing the frailties of relationships and it feels like being intimate with other people’s problems but without the guilt. Engaging and tough to put down. Great summer read! — Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, CA
Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen
Nine Women, One Dress sends the reader on a journey with many characters and the little black dress of the season. From the soon-retiring dress designer and the first-time runway model, to the retail salespeople and an actor, this book relates how the dress touches and, often profoundly, changes the lives of all. Even though there were many characters in this book, the author immersed the reader into their lives. Romance, humor, and irony spark the plot as the dress travels from one life to another. A charming read! — Kristin Fields, Farnhamville Public Library, Farnhamville, IA
Follow Reader’s Connection on Twitter.
June 20, 2016 by Reader's Connection
Christine Montross won the Indiana Authors Award as an emerging author in 2009, and her book Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab makes me glad that she won.
Montross writes about working with a cadaver in medical school–and I might be scaring you away right there. But she does a splendid job of chronicling the emotions and the growing knowledge of a group of students whose female cadaver has no navel and is thus nicknamed Eve. The absence of navel is eventually explained, though at the moment I can’t recall the explanation. Months have passed since I read the book. I’ve been trying to dream up a jazzy pitch, for fear that no one would want to read about cadavers.
Let’s make do with an overlong excerpt.
And voyage is the right word for this book. Chapter by chapter, we read about different sections of the body. The descriptions of Eve’s anatomy are detailed enough to keep us involved, not so detailed that we’re overcome. She and a fellow student are looking at Eve’s heart and discussing its valves.
|If you think it’s odd for body parts to be called “astonishing,” you should give Body of Work a try.|
I’ve also read and am recommending Montross’s second book Falling into the Fire: A Psychiatrist’s Encounters With the Mind in Crisis. I went neurotically back and forth between the two books, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go to med school with Montross, first, before accompanying her into her psychiatric practice.
Body of Work is also available as an eBook.
Follow Reader’s Connection on Twitter.