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of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Sue's Book of the Month is State of Wonder
by Ann Patchett. In this expansive page-turner, Marina Singh,
a big pharmaceutical researcher, is sent by her boss/lover
to the deepest, darkest corner of the Amazon to investigate
the death of her colleague, Anders Eckman, who had been dispatched
to check on the progress of the incommunicado Dr. Annick Swenson,
a rogue scientist on the cusp of developing a fertility drug
that could rock the medical profession (and reap enormous
profits). After arriving in Manaus, Marina travels into her
own heart of darkness, finding Dr. Swenson's camp among the
Lakashi, a gentle but enigmatic tribe whose women go on bearing
children until the end of their lives. As Marina settles in,
she goes native, losing everything she had held on to so dearly
in her prescribed Midwestern life, shedding clothing, technology,
old loves, and modern medicine in order to find herself. Patchett's
fluid prose is superb and makes this book an out-there adventure,
a trip to the crossroads of science, ethics, and commerce
that readers will hate to see end.
Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in
Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
Michelle's Book of the Month is In the Garden
of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's
Berlin by Erik Larson. The rise of the Third Reich as observed
by William Dodd, America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany,
and his free-spirited daughter is the chilling topic of Larson's
impressive new book. The story unfolds for the reader, as
well as for the ambassador and his family, as a slow recognition
of the approaching threat. Through Dodd's diary; his daughter's
scintillating account of her many affairs. Reading first-person
testimony from victims. Increasing uneasiness creeps in as
it becomes clear that the unthinkable is actually happening.
With his gift for narration, Larson has once again created
a work of history that reads as compellingly as a great work
by Herman Melville
Keith's Book of the Month is Moby Dick by
Herman Melville. I've decided to read a few classics and the
first journey into that vein is Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
I know I should of read this along time ago, but somehow it
missed the list, maybe it was all that sci-fi I dove into
during my formative reading years. This is a book of whales
and whaling, abundant with facts, legends, and memorabilia
that Melville had accumulated from personal experience and
scores of connections. There is the larger than life Captain
Ahab lost his leg to Moby Dick, a monstrous white whale. There
is vengeance and the proverbial eye for an eye against the
whale. Ahab leads the crew of the Pequod on a pursuit that
features constant adventure and horrendous mishaps. Moby-Dick
is a vivid documentary of life aboard a nineteenth-century
whaler. But as the quest for the whale becomes increasingly
perilous, the tale works on allegorical levels, likening the
whale to human greed, moral consequence, good, evil, and life
from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Michelle's book of the month is A Visit from
the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Her spellbinding, interlocking
narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former
punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate,
troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha
never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate
detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters
whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales
as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.
A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay
of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and
transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most
passing conjunction of our fates. This book is sly, startling,
The Hunger Games. Time-line, the not so distant
future. Place, the United States of America. The country has
collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war. Out
of the ashes has risen the new government of Panem, a country
divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two
young representatives from each district are selected by lottery
to participate in The Hunger Games. When 16-year-old Katniss's
young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female
representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She
and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker
who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread
dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives
who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters
are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances
and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot
is tense, dramatic, and engrossing.
Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost: A Novel by Lan Samantha Chang
Mama Carol's book of the month is All Is Forgotten,
Nothing Is Lost: A Novel by Lan Samantha Chang. This book
is absolutely well written, engaging me with so many questions
I could barely put it down. An exploration of youthful love
and ambition and how life rarely turns out the way we envisioned.
The story is told in three major sections that eclipse through
the years. We first meet Roman, Lucy, and Bernard in the poetry-writing
class led by the famous, terrifying, charismatic and mysterious
poet and professor poet Miranda Sturgis at the renowned writing
school in Bonneville. After graduation, we follow Roman as
he begins his own teaching career, marries Lucy, and struggles
to complete a long-worked-on volume of poetry. When Bernard
becomes homeless for a while, he spends several months with
Roman and Lucy, so the friends are together again after many
years, and their relationships are renewed and undergo changes.
Then, in the third section of the book, we drop back in on
the group ten years later for a final look. This book definitely
worth reading, if only for Changs gorgeous and elegant prose
Wonderland by Lorna Jane Cook
Sue's book of the month was written by a friend
of ours, Lorna Jane Cook, and is titled Outside Wonderland.
This book deals with three adults who are living their lives
20 years after their parents died. The eldest, Alice, is an
actress who doesn't really care for commitment. The son, Griffin,
is a gay man who is in a mundane relationship of 11 years.
And the youngest, Dinah, is a woman who is constantly trying
to find herself, but knows that she doesn't like to be alone.
At the end of each chapter the book changes it's point of
view so that we are seeing it from the eyes of the mom, up
in heaven. Very light religious touch, and not overdone.
for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Sue's book of the month is Cutting for Stone
by Abraham Verghese. His writing and his empathy for our frail
human condition resonates throughout Verghese's novel. By
tracing the development of a narrator unlike any other in
our literature-from his nearly mythic beginnings in Ethiopia
to his immigrant life in contemporary America. Verghese demonstrates
that the supreme skill of a physician lies not in his hands
but in his heart. A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel
- an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors
and patients, exile and home.
by Chris Cleave
Sarah's book of the month is Incendiary by
Chris Cleave. An East End of London woman decides to write
a letter to Osama bin Laden after a team of his suicide bombers
wreck her life by indiscriminately blowing up the crowd at
a football match, killing both her husband and her four-and-a-quarter
year-old son, along with over a thousand other football fans.
The letter is written, mainly in the authentic language of
an East End gal, but with snippets of people from other worlds.
The grammar and punctuation is appalling, but it is totally
in context. She relates, to Osama, all of the events and all
of her feelings from immediately before the atrocity to many
Reply by Dan Chaon
Miss Carol's book of the month is Await Your
Reply by Dan Chaon. The reader is introduced to three main
characters--Miles Cheshire, Lucy Lattimore, and Ryan Schuyler.
Three seemingly unrelated characters and stories unravel slowly
at first, but quickly pick up speed. The concept of identity--who
we are and how the world perceives us and the notion that
people can reinvent themselves presents itself here in an
undefined amalgam of page-turner-thriller. We do it everyday
in small measure in our lives, choosing what information we
share with others, exaggerating or downplaying past experiences
when we tell anecdotes from our lives, or simply by emphasizing
different aspects of our personalities in different social
settings. We are constantly shaping the way people perceive
us. This book is gripping storytelling with a point.
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