Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes

One of the more delightful surprises in fiction in recent years, this Keyes book was a beach read that turned out to be a little more than that. I’ve read quite a few of Keyes books before but this one is probably my favorite of hers…it’s fresh and engaging and simply delightful. Told from the POV of three London ladies: 1. Gemma, who has a neurotic mother and is still mourning the loss of her stolen-out-from-under-her-by-her-best-friend boyfriend…2. Lily, who is the best friend who stole Gemma’s boyfriend…and 3. Jojo, a literary agent who ends up representing both Gemma and Lily. I loved the way Keyes weaved all three stories together…yet giving each of the 3 enough space for us to get to know them all. Even though each change of character is marked with the ladies’ name before the chapter, towards the end, we knew each of the three enough to know whose part we were reading. A great way to tell a fun, entertaining story!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

A chance encounter with a book by Charles Lamb, leads to a inquiring letter written to an author, who just happens to be looking for her next project, and her curiosity leads her to the island of Guernsey in the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have written a book that is full of characters that we want to get to know - right away- and the format that the authors use - personal letters between characters - gives us the opportunity to be eager (and inquisitive) for the next missive.
Their letters give us the chance to examine the relationship between the characters, as it grows from being formal strangers, and moves to becoming beloved friends. They contain a lot of the minutia of life, and give the reader a bit of the background of the main writer - Juliet and what her life has been like during the war. All of the characters are experiencing the recovery of Great Britain from the war, but those on Guernsey have a special reason to be grateful after the sorrowful years of occupation.
The Literary society came about because of a special pig dinner. Special because it was being hidden from the Nazis. And as the islanders bonded over dinner and being in trouble, the society grew to be more than just a group of people talking about books. And one person, Elizabeth, seems to be the catalyst that brings them all together. When Juliet learns about their stories, she wants more than ever to bring their tale to light in a book because she is falling in love with the island too.
Filled with war stories, book references, British slang, and good humor, the authors have a definitely created a great story to tell. If you don't like the style of the book - personal letters - you might have trouble with it. But I think it is splendid! A very good read.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Border Songs by Jim Lynch

I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book which is being released in June. And, wow! I loved this book! Jim Lynch's descriptions of landscape and nature are pure poetry! If you have read Cormac McCarthy's books, the scenes describing the nature of the landscape and the wildlife reminded me of his books.

Set at the border of Washington State and Canada, this book is poetry blended with quirky characters right out of the movie "Fargo." The main character is a bird-watching, bird-calling, dyslexic giant of a man named Brandon who is pushed into the Border Patrol by his cow-farmer father who needs Brandon to make money. And, oh, yeah! Brandon paints birds and portraits of the people he captures crossing the border! Intrigued? Hopefully, because this book is a jewel of a read! Brandon is a natural-born farmer forced into a career he excels at but is not passionate about.

Other characters in this book include Brandon's father who has across-the-border arguments with his Canadian pot-smoking retired professor who lives behind the farm (and, oh, yeah, the professor spends his time recreating inventions such as Edison's light bulb); Sophie, the masseuse who "heals" people from both sides of the border and is chronicling everyones' lives; Madeline, the pot-smoking professor's daughter; and the list goes on and on.

What is so amazing about this book is how it seamlessly blends the quirky, hilarious moments with the touching, thoughtful, and sorrowful moments. If this intrigues you - definitely get on the waiting list for this book! It is a wonderful read!