Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kathy recommends "In the Bleak Midwinter"

In the Bleak Midwinter is the first book in Julia Spencer-Fleming’s atmospheric mystery series set in upstate New York featuring Clare Fergusson, a newly ordained Episcopalian priest who is also an ex-army helicopter pilot, and part-time sleuth. Shortly after her assignment to the town aptly named Millers Kill (the word kill coming from the Middle Dutch word of kille, meaning “riverbed” or “water channel”), a baby is left on the rectory’s doorstep and a murder takes place. With the help of married Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne, Clare works to uncover the identity of the baby’s parents as well as who would want to murder the mother of the abandoned child. The two work to solve the crime while fighting a growing attraction to one another that can only lead to disaster.

Recommended for adults.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Matt recommends "Let the Great World Spin"

In 1974, Philippe Petit became famous for stringing a cable between the tops of the two World Trade Center towers, a quarter mile above Manhattan's streets, and performing on it for about 45 minutes. Colum McCann's National Book Award-winning novel Let the Great World Spin is not exactly about this incredible moment in recent history (for that, check out Petit's memoir To Reach the Clouds, or the wonderful 2008 documentary Man on Wire, both available at CMPL); instead, it uses the tightrope walk as the novel's central event, the axis around which its many diverse characters rotate.

Rather than focusing on one or two central individuals, McCann skillfully inhabits the lives of multiple people, some for more time than others: mother and daughter prostitutes in the Bronx; a poor, devout Irish Catholic missionary who tends to them; a rich Manhattan judge and his wife who are mourning the loss of their son in Vietnam; an opera-loving law librarian (one of my favorites, though she makes only a brief appearance); and many more, each remarkably human. The characters are all wounded by something, or by many things, all struggling in their own way to make sense of the troubled world and to try to find their place in it. But what unites them, besides their shared city and the connections McCann spins between them, is a sense of hope. Their hope is represented, beautifully and simply, by the image of Petit improbably dancing in the air between the towers, an image that somehow reaches and touches each of them, even if indirectly.

This is a great and compassionate novel, full of wisdom, humanism and poetry. It's also a tribute to a great city, and readers who've had the fortune to spend much time there will immediately understand one of the characters when she says, "One of the beauties of New York is that you can be from anywhere and within moments of landing it's yours."

If you read Let the Great World Spin and would like to discuss it with other members of the community, please consider joining the South Branch's book talk on Saturday, August 14th at noon. No registration is required, and light refreshments will be provided.

Lisa recommends "The Sandwich Swap"

This book was written Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and local author, Kelly DiPucchio. It is based on an experience the Queen had growing up when she had a pita sandwich with hummus, while her best friend had peanut butter and jelly. The girls in the story are best friends do everything together at school. They secretly don’t like the looks of each others’ sandwiches they have every day at lunch. One day, they admit their feelings about the sandwiches and it creates a rift in their friendship. Soon the entire school joins in the controversy and takes sides with each girl. After a trip to the principal’s office, the girls make up and try each others’ sandwiches and are both pleasantly surprised they like them after all. Recommended for children in elementary school.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Phyllis recommends" The Book of Murdock"

For those who have been Loren Estleman readers but haven’t tried his westerns, this could be the time. Be forewarned that The Book of Murdock is not the first in the Page Murdock series. Estleman, a multi-Silver Spur Award winner spins a good yarn with flavorable language of the frontier west. Dastardly villains confront Murdock as he goes undercover as a preacher to solve a slew of Texas crimes. A hanging judge, a surprise meeting with a “shady” lady from Murdock’s past and more colorful characters await the reader as they ride the story’s trail. At the end of the saga, Estleman includes a list of other writings or viewings where the law clothed itself in pastoral duds. The book is corralled in adult fiction at all three CMPL locations.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lisa recommends "The Red Pyramid"

With the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan explored the world of Greek mythology. Now he is back with a new series featuring Carter and Sadie Kane as they take on Egyptian gods and goddesses. The Red Pyramid opens as Carter and Sadie’s dad unknowingly releases the Egyptian God Set, one of the most destructive of the gods. Through lots of dangerous adventure, Carter and Sadie manage to save the world, while learning about their connection to Egypt. This series promises to be a fantastic series!

Recommended for grades 5+

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jamie recommends "Dead in the Family"

The latest addition to the Sookie Stackhouse series of vampire novels has arrived and it is an enjoyable summer read. This novel finds Sookie healing from the Fairy War of the last book, but, as usual, she is pulled into werewolf and vampire intrigue, while trying to lead a normal life. Sookie has a lot of good moments with her brother Jason and old favorites like Alcide and Eric are front and center in this novel’s drama. If you’re looking for a fast, fun beach read this novel is a great choice. It also comes in time to energize fans of the TV series based on the books, True Blood, which makes its debut later this month. Recommended for adults.