Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

The narrator of this book is a loner, an outsider, and always has been. He lives in the house he shared with his now-deceased father, with whom he had never had much connection. One spring day he sees a flyer in a window about a dog in a shelter and upon realizing the mangy, one-eyed mutt is an outsider as well, adopts it.

The rest of the story is his “dialogue” with the dog about his life and their adventures. Early on, he realizes the dog becomes very aggressive around other dogs and generally keeps him leashed. However, one day in early summer on what was usually a deserted stretch of beach, the dog goes after a small dog and the little boy with it. The narrator (never named) manages to separate them and they rush home with the child’s mother yelling after them. When a police officer comes to the door, he hides the dog and lies about it being there. He packs up a few necessities and the two of them set off in the car. They avoid the main roads and drive aimlessly around the countryside for the next few months, camping out in the car and staying away from populated areas.

Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a sweetly sad tale about two of society’s misfits and the bond they seem to form. It made me ache to read it, but I couldn’t put it down.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

This story is so much more than a taut thriller set in Nazi-occupied Paris – though it certainly is that as well. Lucien Bernard is a talented architect who loves his work. He has a wife and a mistress and is trying to make a living under the current regime. He is intelligent but not particularly introspective.  Then a wealthy businessman contacts him with a proposition: create the perfect hiding place for a Jewish friend of the businessman.

Lucien is not anti-Semitic, he doesn’t like the Nazis, but he’s not a fanatic. Money is tight and the commission would be a financial Godsend, but if he were caught or exposed, it would mean torture and death. This is too dangerous to consider. However, the creative side of his brain is truly challenged and temptation builds – especially as funds diminish - and he finally agrees to this onetime only commission.

Of course, it does not remain a onetime only and he continues to make brilliant, unique hiding places based on the architecture of each building. Until one fails fatally and he realizes he has become far more emotionally invested in the people and his work than just clever gamesmanship against the Gestapo. These are all high profile Jews the Gestapo has been seeking relentlessly. They know somehow, someone has been aiding them and the pressure to both capture the Jews and break up the conspiracy that’s protecting them is getting unbearable.

As danger is mounting and the stakes are getting higher Lucien is faced with making the ultimate choice: is he committed to this path he’s been traveling or will he, can he turn his back on it and disappear?

The setting of 1942 Paris makes the creation of Lucien’s crisis easily comprehensible, but The Paris Architect is also the perfect vehicle for examining one of life’s ultimate questions: when the essence of who I am is called out, how will I respond?



Monday, March 28, 2016

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 Ready Player One by Ernest Cline takes place mostly in a virtual reality simulation called the Oasis, while the outside world of 2045 is in a dystopic downward spiral. Five years before the book opens the co-creator of the Oasis, James Halliday, died and upon his death his Oasis avatar, Anorak, announces that he has hidden an Easter Egg inside the Oasis and whoever discovers it (after decoding riddles and completing challenges) will inherit his vast fortune. However, half a decade later and the score board remains unchanged, until Wade Owen Watts (a poor high school senior from Oklahoma, with a depressingly low level avatar) figures out where the first key is. Wade's avatar, Parzival, becomes an instant celebrity, and an instant target. A corrupt corporation is also after Halliday's Easter Egg, and with endless technology and resources Wade finds himself in both virtual world and real world peril. There's battles, sabotage, a love interest, an impressive virtual world, and pretty much all of the 80s, all in one page turning package.

I listened to the audio version of this book and it is one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to! Wil Wheaton narrates it fantastically. I listen to audiobooks while driving, and there were multiple times I drove around the block or just sat in my parked car to find out what happened next. I know audiobooks aren't for everyone, but if you're ever going to try one this would be a great first.



If you like this:
The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Friday, March 25, 2016

Nantucket by Nan Rossiter


Nantucket is a simple read; I am sure you have read something very similar before:

Island boy meets little rich girl who is on vacation

They fall in love

Of course her daddy does not like

Lots of sneaking around

They get caught!

Daddy is putting a stop to all this

But rich girl is not only carrying luggage when she leaves the island

Island boy never sees or hears from little rich girl again


Told ya!


Read-alike author: Elin Hilderbrand

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

Mia Wakefield was stolen as a baby, and raised by her kidnapper. You might think that her kidnapper was cold and ruthless, but that wasn’t the case at all. Mia had a good life with Lucy, and she was raised in a loving home. Lucy stole Mia in a moment of desperation, after trying to have children of her own, and then being rejected by adoption agencies. The story is told from multiple points of view; by Lucy, Mia, the babysistter, Mia’s birthparents, and others involved. Lucy’s motives don’t make the kidnapping right, but the reader starts to understand why she did what she did.

What Was Mine is an excellent book that helps people understand the motives behind someone's actions. I enjoyed this book, and I liked hearing the story from multiple points of view. Helen Klein Ross does a good job of making the reader understand the feelings of each character. I listened to the audiobook, which was done by a full cast. The cast made each character come alive, and made me want to keep listening.

If you like this book, you might like books by Jodi Picoult or Mary Kubica.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Host by Robin Cook

When I started reading Robin Cook’s novel Host, I thought that anyone going to the hospital soon for any major or minor procedure should not read it. Once I got a little further in I decided that, considering how ridiculous the novel is, perhaps it would be a good reading choice as it is unlikely your visit could go any worse than that of Carl’s, one of the characters in Host. He goes into South Carolina’s Mason-Dixon Medical Center for routine surgery and never wakes up. He ends up in a coma and is soon transferred from the Medical Center to the Shapiro Institute, a nearby location that specializes in caring for those in long term comas.

Carl’s botched procedure sets off a series of events that involve Lynn, Carl’s medical school student girlfriend, Lynn’s friend and fellow medical student Michael, Sandra Wykoff, the anesthesiologist for Carl’s procedure, and, best of all, some Russian thugs with memories of the Chechen Wars still dancing in their heads. While the plot of Host quickly becomes ridiculous, it is a very entertaining kind of ridiculous. I don’t know if I would enjoy a realistic medical thriller, but Cook’s novel really worked for. He keeps the plot twists coming, populates the book with likeable but not overly complex characters, and ups the weirdness just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Cookbook Club - Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood

Home cooking with Trisha Yearwood : stories & recipes to share with family & friends
In March the Cookbook Club read and cooked from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood by Trisha Yearwood. While last month's selection fell a bit flat this one was a hit. Many members said they were planning to buy the book for themselves and one even said it was her favorite so far.

We tried the following recipes:
Magic Lemon Meringue Pie
Country Quiche
 Crockpot Candy
Ty's Thai Salad
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Charleston Cheese Dip
                                  Cockpot Mac & Cheese
                                      Tennesse Jambalaya 
                                      Broccoli Cheese Casserole
Next Book:
Rachael Ray's Book of 10 by Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray
Copies can be picked up at the "Ask Here" desk.
Next Meeting: Sunday, April 10th at 1:00pm