Thursday, April 30, 2015

InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves, 239 pages

"InterWorld" is the first book in a trilogy by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves.  It is a juvenile science fiction book.

I always enjoy books by Neil Gaiman and so thought this would be fun.  Joey Harker is a 15 year old boy who gets lost in a fog and ends up in another universe.  He finds out there are many iterations of Joseph Harkers on other universes and they are all valuable to the bad guys.

It was an enjoyable little book and while I'm not desperate to read the next book in the series, I'm sure I will check it out at some point.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz (YA novel) Truman Nominee 2015-2016 260 p.

This was a very moving book that should appeal to some reluctant readers.  Yanek is a happy 10- year-old Jewish boy living in Krakow when the Germans invade.  Life as he knew it comes to an end.  His parents are torn away from him.  He is sent to concentration camp after concentration camp after concentration camp.  He is beaten, starved, and worked nearly to death.  Death becomes a constant companion.  After 6 years of horror at the hands of the Nazis,  the allies invade and the prisoners are freed.  My favorite quote from the book comes when Yanek receives his prisoner tattoo: " B-3087.  That's what the Nazis carved into my skin.  B for Birkenau, 3087 for my prisoner number.  That was the mark they put on me, a mark I would have for as long as I lived.  B-3087.  That was how I was to them,  Not Yanek Gruener, son of Oskar and Mina.  Not Yanek Gruener of ....Karkow.  Not Yanek Gruener who loved books and science and American movies.  I was prisoner B-3087.  But I was alive." And Yanek did live.  He and his wife Ruth live in Brooklyn and travel the country to speak about the Holocaust and the importance of rememering,  For you see, this may be a novel, but Yanek is a real person.  He did survive the Holocaust and this book was written with his blessing.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Dinner by Herman Koch, 292 pages

"The Dinner" was written by Dutch novelist Herman Koch and translated into English by Sam Garrett.

The book is told from the perspective of Paul Lohman, who is meeting his brother, Serge, for dinner along with both their wives.  At first we only know that Paul is dreading the dinner, we don't know why but we later learn that there was an incident involving the sons of both couples and they are meeting to discuss how to handle the situation.

This book is a thriller with an unreliable narrator.  Look at the cover of the book, the scorched tablecloth does a nice job of portraying the feel of the book.  We will be discussing this at the Downtown Library's book club in April.  I can't wait for the discussion.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore, 336 pages

Christopher Moore writes howl out loud funny books. The "Serpent of Venice" features Pocket, who was the protagonist in "Fool." This book is a little bit of Shakespeare's "Othello" and "The Merchant of Venice," along with a dose of and Edgar Allan Poe's “The Cask of Amontillado.” There's some real history here too, but don't be too married to that.
If you enjoy humor, irony, are not easily offended and don't mind the f-bomb being dropped pretty frequently, then I'm pretty confident you will enjoy this tale. And if you are a fan of audiobooks, all the better, my friend. It is a HI-larious listen. One thing I particularly got a kick out of is that the "chorus" is a character in this book and the other characters get pretty ticked off with it by the end.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Night by Elie Wiesel, 115 pages

“Night” is an autobiographical account of a teenage Elie Wiesel growing up during Nazi Germany. It is a terrifying story, in which, he struggles to survive alongside his father in a Nazi death camp. His fight for survival and sanity is a singular story, and the reader can empathize with his struggles to give a voice to those who did not survive.
The story begins with Wiesel, not unlike many teenage boys, dreaming of a future he imagines will soon be his. Unfortunately, his parents and siblings are living in a false belief of security while the world around them is drowning in chaos. As he retells his story, we learn what happens to him and his family on this unthinkable journey, and how he has spent a lifetime trying to make sense of the Nazi’s atrocities.  He even questions the choices he had to make in order to survive.
This personal account is horrifying, unimaginable, and immensely sad. I read his story in one evening, and although I knew he had survived, there was so many of those he loved that did not.

“Night” is recommended by the Oprah Book Club as a must read. I recommend this book for anyone who loves to read the words of a truly remarkable author who bares his tortured soul with his readers.

Monday, April 6, 2015

I AM THE WEAPON by Allen Zadoff (YA novel) (Gateway Readers Nominee 2015-2016)

Wow!  This was a great thriller and I predict a crossover YA novel adults will enjoy as well.  Boy Nobody is a well-trained killer.  He receives his instructions, becomes the new kid in school, befriends another student, and within weeks, there is a tragic death in that student's life and their new best-friend had disappeared.  But this time things are different.  The target is New York's well-loved Mayor and Boy Nobody is sent to befriend his beautiful daughter.  This is a tough assignment.  "Sam" is not only beautiful, she is smart and Boy Nobody begins to have feelings, not just for Sam, but normal feelings. Like he is a normal teenage boy again.  Like maybe he wants to change his life.  But "The Program" has control over him...and they are watching.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming, 304 pages

"Not My Father's Son" is a memoir by actor Alan Cumming.  I listened to it, which was great because it was read by Alan Cumming.  What a voice.

The memoir alternates between "Then" which is Cumming's childhood and "Now" which was 2010, when he appeared on the BBC genealogy show "Who Do You Think You Are."  The show focused on the mystery of Cumming's maternal grandfather, Tom Darling, who was a decorated WWII veteran, who never returned to his family after the war.

At the same time the BBC show was in production, Alan was dealing with a more recent family secret regarding his abusive father.  This is a book of pain and more importantly recovery.  I highly recommend this book.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen, 304 pages

Sarah Addison Allen stories are set in North Carolina and are always whimsical and magical.  I am not typically a "gentle fiction" reader, but most of her stories fall into that category.

My only regret with this book is that I am waiting for Spring thaw as I'm listening to "First Frost."  It would have probably been a little more magical to listen in the Fall.

"First Frost" is a sequel to "Garden Spells."  It picks up 10 years after "Garden Spells" returning us to Bascom, North Carolina and the Waverley sisters Claire and Sydney.  Ahh, it's good to catch up with them again.