In One Person by John Irving
(Simon & Schuster, 2012, 425 pages)
I will read anything John Irving writes – he’s one of my favorite authors. When I saw him getting coffee at ALA I almost lost it – yeah, it’s one of those kind of author crushes 🙂 Anyway, In One Person is Irving’s most recent novel and it focuses on the story of a man named Billy Dean. The majority of the book is Billy reflecting back on his life from the perspective of being a 70 year-old-man. Billy is bisexual and he came to the realization when he acknowledged that he was having crushes on “the wrong people.” These initial crushes were on his soon-to-be stepfather and the town librarian, Miss Frost. There was something about Miss Frost that always intrigued him – there were things about her that set her apart from other people. Not to mention the fact that the women in his family seem to have a certain disdain for her… His relationship with the librarian ultimately leads to his sexual awakening and we then see how he embraces and grows with his bisexual identity.
There’s no question that Irving is a gifted storyteller – he has a unique way of drawing the reader in and keeping them engaged. I certainly enjoyed this title; I think it would make a great book club selection.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
(Scribner, 2012, 352 pages)
Tom and Isabel Sherbourne are isolated years at a time with little contact to people other than each other. Tom is a lighthouse keeper on an island and takes his duty very seriously. But after his wife, Isabel, suffers two miscarriages and one stillbirth, he is willing to do anything to make her happy again. So when a row boat washes ashore with a dead man and a healthy baby, he agrees to keep the baby as their own and bury the body. When the supply boat comes every 3 months and their shore leave is every 3 years, who would know the difference? But as the years pass and they spend more time on shore, Tom becomes uneasy with their decision especially when more facts about the child present themselves. Now Tom must decide whether to rip another child from his wife’s life or keep living a lie.
I thought this was a really good read. The story was different and you really understand where each character is coming from while at the same time wonder why they can’t just do the right thing. There were times when I was confused what the right thing was and seemed to change my mind after each chapter. The story is a bit slow for the first 40 pages but really picks up once Isabel gets in the picture. Her character was my favorite because she was so complex and frustrating at times. Being as this is Stedman’s first novel, I’m excited to see what else she comes out with.
Backfire by Catherine Coulter
(Putnam, 2012, 416 pages)
Backfire is the latest book in Catherine Coulter’s FBI Thriller series. In Backfire, fictional FBI agents, Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock investigate the case of Judge Ramsey Hunt who is shot and seriously wounded in his own backyard. The agents are also working a case that involves a threat made against Savich. The shooting takes place in California. The threat against Savich takes place on the East Coast. The story line eventually weaves these two cases together to make Backfire a good suspense/thriller.
In Backfire, many of the characters that the reader has met in previous novels in Coulter’s FBI Thriller series return. Of course, there is the husband and wife team of Savich and Sherlock. There is their 5 year old son, Sean, who already has three girlfriends. One of the main characters in this novel, Ramsey Hunt, was also a main character in The Target, an earlier FBI Thriller by Coulter.
There are now sixteen books in Coulter’s FBI Thriller series. The first book is The Cove which was first released in 1996. If you are looking for a new suspense/thriller series to start, you might want to give Catherine Coulter a try.
52 Loaves: One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust
by William Alexander
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2010, 339 pages)
I needed to get my “food book” fix so 52 Loaves showed up just in time. The book revolves around Alexander’s quest to bake the perfect loaf of peasant bread. He’d had it once, years ago, in a New York City restaurant so he decided to dedicate the next year to baking a loaf of bread a week until he can recreate the heavenly bread of his dreams. He takes this mission seriously. RARELY does he veer from making the peasant loaf he’s after (much to his family’s dismay) – there may have been 2 or 3 weeks where he baked a different type of bread. Things get serious enough in this quest that Alexander grows his own wheat in his yard and tries to make his own wood-burning bread oven outdoors. He even makes it to France where he bakes bread in a monastery with monks.
There’s no question that Alexander has drive. Not only is the reader taken along on his mission but we’re provided with historical tidbits and information about what goes into baking bread that otherwise might not even have been thought about. The idea of baking bread has always intimidated me but it seems a little more accessible after reading this book. Perhaps one day soon my co-workers will benefit from my decision to read this book 😉
Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs
(Scribner, 2012, 288 pages)
Kathy Reichs is another author I ventured into thanks to our “SCC Library Reads” team. I was told there is a TV show based on Reichs’ Brennan series which is quite successful.
This story is set in Canada. Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist working for the Montreal police. Three infant bodies are found hidden in an apartment but the mother is missing. Brennan and Montreal police detective Ryan are in search of the missing mother. Without having read other earlier books in the series, I guessed that Brennan and Ryan are in an on-again/off-again relationship. I intend to read more books in the series to get to know the two main characters.
The discovery of another body, a drug dealer, lead Brennan and Ryan into a town called Yellowknife in the northwest of Canada. Yellowknife was the center of a gold rush and is now the home to diamond mines. Through the investigation Brennan and Ryan discover mysteries linked to old murders, illegal drug trades, environmental protests and family scandals. To complicate the situation, Brennan has to work with the local police sergeant Ollie Hasty whom Brennan had a fling with a long time ago. The plot is fairly complex. I had difficulties keeping names and events straight. Nevertheless, the story is intriguing and suspenseful. What I enjoyed most is the scenery of Yellowknife and the history of gold and diamond mining in Canada.
The Sisters 8 : Annie’s Adventure (Book 1) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
(Sandpiper, 2008, 144 pages)
The Sisters 8: Durinda’s Dangers (Book 2) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
(Sandpiper, 2008, 128 pages)
The Sisters 8: Georgia’s Greatness (Book 3) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
(Sandpiper, 2009, 160 pages)
I was visiting my niece the other day (9 years old) and she was reading book 6 in this series. I picked it up and said that this is exactly the kind of series I would have loved when I was a kid. My sister-in-law said “Go ahead and read them, she has the whole series!” So I read two in one day and the third the next. I was thoroughly entertained and I definitely plan to read all 9.
The series follows a set of octuplet sisters whose mother and father mysteriously disappear on New Year’s Eve and find a note that says they will find their parents after each of them discovers their power and are given a gift. Each month a sister discovers a power (like disappearing) and gets a gift (like a ring) and they learn a little piece of the mystery of their missing parents. By the time the last sister gets her power and gift it will be August and they will turn 8 years old. It’s a cute story full of interesting characters. Did I mention each sister has a cat? Bonus!
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
(Scholastic, 2000, 341 pages)
So I just finished listening to the audiobook of the second title in the Harry Potter series and, like the first, I loved it! Obviously I’ll be listening to the audiobooks until I complete the series – it has been great reliving the Harry Potter experience 🙂
Harry is going into his second year at Hogwarts, but he’s a little upset since he didn’t hear from Ron and Hermione all summer… Then a house-elf named Dobby enters his life, desperate for Harry to avoid going to Hogwarts that year and revealing that he’s responsible for keeping Harry from hearing from his friends. Despite a few “minor” setbacks, Harry makes it back to school and does all he can to avoid the unwanted attention he receives from the latest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart.
Things start to turn sour when students (and Filch’s cat, Mrs. Norris) are petrified by an unknown “monster.” The teachers and students are on high alert because this has happened only one other time, when the Chamber of Secrets was opened 50 years prior. No one is sure who the culprit is and suspects range from Draco to Hagrid to Harry… Can they stop who/whatever is doing this before things take a darker turn?