Thursday, April 3, 2014

CALEB'S CROSSING, by Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks' webpage

In, the publisher. Includes a conversation with the author.

The New York Times published a review:  Geraldine Brooks’s Pilgrims and Indians

In the Washington Post Book World

In LitLovers

American Indians in chlidren's literature

Bookrags:  This includes a plot summary

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
In I'm loving books

"Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love."

The author's web page, in English: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

From Penguin Group, including an interview to the author.

In The Guardian | The Observer

In LitLovers - discussion questions also.

The NY Times article In the Cemetery of Forgotten Books

Other books by Ruiz Zafon

The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway

Here is a version of the famous Adagio of Tomaso Albinoni mentioned on the first pages of the book:

In LitLovers - see also discussion questions. Questions are provided by the publisher, Penguin Group.

In Quill and Quire

Swans commentary, In The Cellist Of Sarajevo Is Fiction A License To Lie? 

It will be Toronto Library One Book.

The Book Boutique

The NY Times reported widely about the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s, here is an article titled The Music Helps Sarajevo Stay Sane During War

The Princeton Book Review says:
"This is a fictionalized account of true events that occurred during the siege of Sarajevo. After witnessing the death of 22 people, killed by mortar shells while waiting on line for bread, a cellist, risks his life to play Albinoin’s Adagio for the next 22 days to honor them. Galloway presents a vivid in-depth picture of living in war torn city. He does this by following the daily routine of several people and examining their thoughts over the course of the three weeks the cellist played. Through Kenan and Dagnan we witness the difficulty and danger of obtaining water or crossing a street to go to work; their fear of death from opposition snipers is palpable and not easily forgotten. Their thoughts as they rationalize the process, hope for a better future and long for the past are haunting. My favorite character by far is Arrow. She is complex and ruthless, harden by war but very human. As an expert sniper her job is to protect the cellist and when she takes center stage, the tension and suspense builds. Although the style of the book is literary, at times it reads more like a documentary so it may not be a book for everyone. 

Book Club Talking Points:
 This book brings to light the atrocities the human race is capable of, provoking thought on the senselessness of war and the capacity of man to kill another human being. Arrow’s character will spark the most debate. Her thoughts as she seeks to avenge her fellow townspeople are as conflicted as her actions. For me the hardest concept to grasp was the fact that the story is based on true events. The cellist, although not developed to a great extent in the book, was without a doubt integral to the story, especially if you try to define the mindset necessary to do what he did. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

BEAUTIFUL RUINS, a novel, by Jess Walter

Jess Walter webpage with brief comment, biography, etc.

In the New York Times on July 6, 2012

The Spokesman Review Inspiration Began ..... on a Italy Trip

Not yet released movie - see Variety article and this Hollywood article.

In NPR All Things Considered

In LitLovers - includes discussion questions

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Room, by Emma Donoghue

Room, by Emma Donaghue - Book Trailer

Enter ROOM

Author's website - includes other books.

Read about it in LitLovers.

In The New York Times: A captive's view of life, and he is 5.

In The New York Times: Separation Anxiety

The Guardian - review

The New Yorker:  Emma Donoghue chats about "The Room"

NPR:  In Donoghue's Room, a Child's World of his Own 

In The Economist - Questions & Answers

Thursday, November 7, 2013

BOOKS for 2014

Reads for 2014  (Quotes from

January 2014 - Beautiful Ruins 
Jess Walter, 2012   352 pp.
The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.  And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

February 2014 - The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway, 2008   256 pp.
The story of three people trying to survive in a city rife with the extreme fear of desperate times, and of the sorrowing cellist who plays undaunted in their midst. One day a shell lands in a bread line and kills twenty-two people as the cellist watches from a window in his flat. He vows to sit in the hollow where the mortar fell and play Albinoni’s Adagio once a day for each of the twenty-two victims. The Adagio had been re-created from a fragment after the only extant score was firebombed in the Dresden Music Library, but the fact that it had been rebuilt by a different composer into something new and worthwhile gives the cellist hope.
March 2014 - The Shadow of the Wind
Carlos Ruiz Zafron, Lucia Graves (trans.), 2001  496 pp.
Barcelona, 1945—A great world city lies shrouded in secrets after the war, and a boy mourning the loss of his mother finds solace in his love for an extraordinary book called The Shadow of the Wind, by an author named Julian Carax. When the boy searches for Carax's other books, it begins to dawn on him, to his horror, that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book the man has ever written.

April 2014 - Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Katherine Boo, 2012,   288 pp. 
Based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human.  Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believes inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”  Pulitzer Prize

May 2014 - Caleb's Crossing
Geraldine Brooks, 2011  320 pp.
Once again, Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans.

June 2014 - The Echo Maker
Richard Powers, 2006  464 pp.  Winner, 2006 National Book Award
On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, 27-year-old Mark Schluter flips his truck in a near-fatal accident. His older sister Karin, his only near kin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when he emerges from a protracted coma, Mark believes that this woman—who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister—is really an identical impostor. Shattered by her brother’s refusal to recognize her, Karin contacts the cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber, famous for his case histories describing the infinitely bizarre worlds of brain disorder.

July 2014 -  Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
Rita Leganski,   2013  400 pp.
Bonaventure's remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mère Letice, plagued by grief and a long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creole housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed.

August - The Cat's Table 
Michael Ondaatje, 2011   288 pp.
In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table”—as far from the Captain’s Table as can be—with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin.

As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: one man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature. 

September 2014 - City of Women 
David R. Gillham, 2012, 400 pp.
Who do you trust, who do you love, and who can be saved?  It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women. Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew.

October 2014 - The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
Isabel Wilkerson, 2010   640pp
Winner, 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award, Winner, 2010 Pulitzer Prize
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America.

November 2014 - And the Mountains Echoed
Khaled Hosseini, 2013   416 pp.
A novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

December 2014 - Claude & Camille
Stephanie Cowell, 2010   352 pp.
In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris.

But once there he is confronted with obstacles……. there were bright spots as well…….. even more illuminating was his lifelong love, Camille Doncieux, a beautiful, upper-class Parisian girl who threw away her privileged life to be by the side of the defiant painter and embrace the lively Bohemian life of their time.