Books! Books! Books!

A Reminder!!

Paula Walters - Monday, January 23, 2012

NCRL’s  first author program will be next Sunday.  Seattle author Sarah Jio will be reading from her second book, The Bungalow.  Her first novel The Violets of March was published April 2011.  Her second novel The Bungalow was published the following December.  She has been busy!!  I hope she talks a bit about her writing process. I read both of her novels last weekend.  The Violets of March was my favorite. It takes place on Bainbridge Island.  I was born and raised in Seattle and enjoy novels that take place in and around Seattle. Both novels are romance/mysteries with the first being a little more mysterious!! The Bungalow takes place during World War II.  Two young women from Seattle who have just graduated from the nursing program decide to become army nurses.  They are stationed in Bora-Bora.  Both books were fun quick reads.  A nice way to spend a snowy weekend!!  Sarah will be at the Wenatchee Public Library on Sunday January 29th 1:30 – 3:30.  Hope many of you can join us to welcome this author to Wenatchee. 

My Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011

Paula Walters - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011

 

 

I have already wrote about some of my favorite books.  State of Wonder, The Crying Tree and Strangers at the Feast are certainly on my list of favorites. The other seven are:

Wench, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, The Radley’s,  Every Last One, My Name is Mary Sutter, The Memory Palace, and The Magician’s Assistant.

 

Wench is the first novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.  It takes place before the Civil War and is the story of four women. Each summer these women are brought to a resort in Ohio the Tawana House.  These women are the black enslaved mistresses of  Southern plantation owners. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars.  They have become friends over the years and enjoy visiting  with each other during this summer vacation.  This summer there is a new woman which they befriend and she begins talking about freedom and running away. This puts a whole new twist on the women’s summer vacation.

 

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is an enjoyable book about the retired Major Pettigrew.  He lives in the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside.  I love books that take place in England.  He lives a quiet life but then becomes friends with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper.  They both love literature and they are both lonely as their spouses have died.  They have a nice relationship which is possibly growing into something more but then of course in this small village the rumors start flying. Like Wench this is also the authors first novel.

 

The Radley’s by Matt Haig was a pleasant surprise. This takes place in England.  Peter works at a medical clinic Helen is a homemaker.  They have two teenagers, Rowen and Clara,  your average British family.  Well not quite, they have a secret, Peter and Helen are vampires.  They have resisted their temptations for years so that their children can have normal lives.  But then the unthinkable happens and their lives change.  This was actually a delightful book .

 

Every Last One by Anna Quinlan is an amazing novel.  The reader learns early in the novel that something tragic is going to happen to the Latham family.  Mary Beth and Glen have three teenage children, their daughter Ruby and twin sons.  Alex and Max are not identical twins.  Alex is popular and good at sports, Max is a geek.  Throughout the story I am wondering what the tragic event will be.  About the first two thirds of the story the author is acquainting the reader with all of the characters. We learn a lot about their personalities and their life as a family.  Then finally the tragic event happens and oh my goodness!!  Although I had been trying to guess what is was I was not prepared.  I actually had to close the book to get away from it for a bit.  I cannot remember the last time I had such a reaction to a book.  It is beautifully written and well worth your time to read.

 

My Name is Mary Sutter takes place during the Civil War.  This is Robin Oliveira’s first novel.  Mary Sutter is a young midwife who lives in Albany.  She wants to study to become a doctor.  Because she is a women she had been refused by the medical college and by the town surgeon.  She runs away to Washington so that she can help the wounded soldiers.  She works with a doctor in extremely unsanitary conditions.  This novel also takes the reader right onto the battle field.  I like books about the Civil War.  This is a whole different take on the war.  A very good read!!

 

The Memory Palace is a memoir by Mira Bartok.  Mira’s mother, Norma Herr was a piano prodigy.  She was also schizophrenic.  Mira and her sister eventually had to change their names and cut off contact with their mother for their own safety.  Unlike her older sister, Mira keeps in touch with her mother through mail.  At the age of forty Mira receives words from the homeless shelter where her mother has been staying that she is dying.  She and her sister go to the hospital to be with their mother.  Although this is a sad story it is beautifully written.  

 

Like Bel Canto and State of Wonder The Magician’s Assistant was hard to put down.  It is full of interesting characters.  Sabine, the magician’s assistant, has been in love with Parsifal since her early twenties, when she became his assistant.  The first line of the novel tells us that“Parsifal is Dead”.  There are many surprises in this story.  Parsifal told Sabine that he had no family but after his death she learns that he has a mother and two sisters in Nebraska.  Most of the story takes place in Nebraska and Sabine learns some amazing things about Parsifal’s life.

State of Wonder

Paula Walters - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett was one of the favorite books that I read in 2011.

Marina Sinh works for the Vogel Pharmaceutical Company in Eden Prairie Minnesota.  She is sent to the jungles of Brazil to check the progress Dr. Annik Swenson’s research project. Dr. Swenson is researching the post-menopausal  fertility of the women of the Lakashi tribe.  These women are bearing children well into their 70’s and even older.  Dr. Swenson has been in the Amazon for many years without reporting on her progress.  Marina also has a personal reason to accept the assignment.  Her lab partner, Anders Eckman, was sent on the same assignment months earlier and never returned.  The Company received a brief message from Dr. Swenson stating he had died of a fever. Marina wants to find out more details for herself and his grieving widow.

This novel takes the reader into the Amazon jungle.  Marina arrives at her final destination on a pontoon boat.  She is minus her luggage which the airlines lost and never found.  She finds herself in an area of snake infested rivers, malarial swamps and cannibals.

As always in Ann Patchett’s novels there are many interesting characters, from the bohemian couple who seem to protect Dr. Swenson from outsiders to Dr. Swenson herself. This is also a novel with many surprises, an amazing journey for the reader.


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