It was December, 1941. It had been six months since the Germans had kept Leningrad under siege, trapping the Russians, cutting off all land connections so as to starve the residents of the city. Seventeen year old Lev Beniov had been arrested for looting. Russian soldier Kolya Vlasov had been thrown into Lev’s jail cell into the dreaded “The Crosses” for desertion. It was a certainty that the two men would be executed in the morning, without trial, since there was no food to give them to keep them alive while in prison. But in the morning, something unexpected happened. The guards came for Lev and Kolya, escorting them to the colonel’s office. He made them a very unusual offer, one that seemed impossible, but one they couldn’t refuse if their lives were to be spared. He wanted the two men to steal a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake. They had five days to accomplish this task, at which time he would set them free and give them back their ration cards.
Lev and Kolya embark on an odyssey to find the impossible dozen eggs, a quest that propels them from the lawless streets of Leningrad to the devastated countryside behind German lines. As they encounter murderous city dwellers, guerilla partisans, and finally the German army itself, an unlikely bond forms between them. With every encounter, it seems as though they have met the end of their road, only to find help from people equally as desperate as they were. The author, David Benioff, gives the story a personal touch in making it appear as though Lev Benioff was his grandfather, and that the story was told to him while visiting his retired grandparents in Florida. Excellent character development set against the backdrop of the infamous siege of Leningrad make for a great read.
Over the course of one day, a young woman sits in a cafe trying to read Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. Anna thinks and remembers, and as she does, her life and the lives of everyone around her quietly unfold.
Set in Finland, in the months after 9/11, this is a thoughtful and surprising novel. When it was first published in 2005, it was shortlisted for the Finlandia Prize, the most prestigious literary award in Finland. This is Elina Hirvonen's first novel.
I think you will become involved with these people and how they survive.
The best selling book The Help has been on wait lists for patrons for months and is worth the wait. I just finished with a book discussion for our Novel Experience book group and we had a lively and interesting discussion on the many social issues this book tackles.
In her debut novel, Stockett adresses the turbulent times of the early 1960s in Mississippi through the eyes of the domestic help. The story is told through three narrators, Skeeter, Abileen and Minny. Skeeter, is a a young brave white woman who is fighting her own stereotypes and figuring out what line to cross. She works in secret with Abileen and Minny to write about the plight of the black maids. Together they write stories about mistreatment, abuse and heartbreaks of working in white families' homes, all just before the Civil Rights revolution. As they put it, they are entrusted to care for white people's children but they are not trusted with white people's silver.
This book address so many issues such as Civil Rights, color barriers, women's issues, friendships, families and more. It is a book you will never forget and is well worth the waiting list.
Life is hard enough for 10 year old Pia Kolvenbach when her Grandmother goes up in flames. Was it a mysterious case of spontaneous combustion? Or was it that her Grandmother used too much hairspray and got too close to the Advent candles? Pia knows the truth but her classmates treat her like a pariah. Shortly after the strange death of Pia's Grandmother, girls start disappearing from the town.
On top of all that is happening in the town Pia's parents are fighting and her Mother wants to return to England. Pia has been to England and her cousins hate her and she doesn't want to leave her friends. However, her Mother is now convinced that she should leave their German town because all of the missing girls are around Pia's age. If Pia and her friend Stefan can figure out this mystery maybe she can stay.
This isn't a children's mystery. Its the story of adults with secrets as viewed from the perspective of a child. Something is very wrong in Pia's house and in her town. She hears pieces of information some of which she doesn't understand. The adults seem to know so much including who has taken the girls. And yet, others in the town prevent people from persecuting the man they think did it. If they know who did it why don't the adults arrest the man?
Helen Grant has captured perfectly the voice of a ten year old who is learning more and more about life. She likes spending time with her Grandmother's friend who tells her fairy stories and stories of local legends. Sometimes these stories make more sense than what is happening in real life. This is a great story of a year in the life of a 10 year old girl trying to make sense of the world around her.
Daniel Kennedy has invited his longtime girlfriend, Nancy, on a surprise trip to the Galapagos Islands where he will propose to her. When their seaplane crashes into the sea miles from the islands, Daniel panics and pushes past Nancy to get out. They both survive but Nancy questions his love for her. Surely if you loved someone you would not abandon them during such a time.
While Daniel and Nancy try and put their world back together, Daniel and his father Phillip begin to learn more about their Great/Grandfather who seems to have gone missing during World War One. Letters suggest he may have abandoned his post and started another life in France. Daniel wonders if courage and cowardice are genetic.
A third story interwoven between the two above, is how one of Daniel's colleagues at the University where he teaches, pretends to be a very close friend of his but tries to sabotage Daniel's career. Wetherby claims to be envious of Daniel, but after every transgression he goes to confession and is absolved.
So what does forgiveness mean? Daniel apologizes to Nancy for his actions, but she is having a difficult time accepting them. An interesting novel of courage and cowardice and what phenomenally challenging times can do to a person.
One of the things I admire about this author is that he gets his writing inspiration from music. The late Duncan Browne's 2nd power-rock album recorded in 1971 is the inspiration that Bledsoe claims compelled him to write this next Memphis Vampire series installment.
In the first book, Count Z, while haunting Europe, was staked in the heart by a human arch-enemy and boxed-up for over 60 years until 1974 when a coroner in the USA removed the stake during an autopsy and brought the evil Count back to unlife. The Count proceeded in finding a nest of younger vampires and took pity on them while educating them to the many vampire myths that were perpetrated. The biggest myth being that sunlight destroys a vampire.
In this next addition, the Count has found his groove in muscle cars of the '70's and purchases one right from under an ex-sheriff whose character is based on Buford Pusser from Walking Tall fame; complete with the swinging lumber. The Count also is intrigued by a mysterious, roadhouse-singing-vamp who claims she can get her daily equivalent of blood by captivating her audience while performing. It is a rush that is unheard of in vampire circles and just might change the unlivelihood of vampires worldwide.
Bledsoe again captures the times of the '70's; the clothes, the cars, the politics, the racial tensions, the mores, and most importantly, the verbiage. There is a good mystery buried in the midst of this nostalgic journey down vampire lane.
Lady Georgiana is 34th in line to the throne of England. It is 1932 and she is broke--not a penny to her name. When Queen Mary calls her to the palace and asks her to be the royal representative in the marriage of the Princess of Romania and the Prince of Bulgaria, she has no power to refuse. Of course, the royal family will pay for the travel arrangements for she and the maid. The maid? Lady Georgiana has no money for a maid. What can she do?
This is the latest mystery in the delightful romp of Her Royal Spyness series. Royal Blood is the latest book, but you do not have to read them in order to follow along the crazy adventures of Lady Georgiana who is a sharp young woman always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Follow the antics of her best friend Belinda who is part of the IT crowd of bright young things in England; her Mother who is on husband four or five, and her enigmatic love, Darcy who always shows up when most needed.
This is a fun light read that really tries to capture the times, although no one would mistake it for historical fiction. Bowen tries to keep the real people true to their characters including the royal family and that of course adds to the fun.
For more with the royal family checkout Royal Flush. The King, Queen and their children, including David, who is very interested in an American divorcee named Wallis make an appearance.
If you liked Kitchen Confidential or No Reservations , or if you are a a foodie this book is a book for you. Bourdain gives an inside look at the food world in general, including celeberity chefs, bloggers, critics and himself. I enjoyed his take on his own celeberity and the phenomona of the "Celeberity Chef" which causes him some soul searching. There is hilarious chapter ripping food critic"Alan Richman", and a surreal encounter with the Food Channels' Sandra Lee, who he thinks is evil incarnate. All in all a funny and entertaining book for his fans' and food junkies.
In the old West, the Comanche ruled. Settlers, soldiers and sheriffs fought them for territorial rights for over 4o years. They were the most adept horsemen and fierce fighters. They often took as captives, young white women and children; marrying them and raising them as part of their tribe.
Cynthia Ann Parker was a classic example of a white woman who spent most of her life with the Comanche until the day that she was "rescued" against her will, by some Texas Rangers. Her half-breed son, Quanah Parker, went on to be the last of the great tribal chiefs. A life defined by never having lost a battle.
Gwynne has a firm handle on his research and this work speaks volumns supporting the long history of governmental abuse of the American Indian and their struggle to conform to a society whose morals are alien to their own.
Not as profound as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, but very insightful.
Ruth Rendell is best known for her Chief Inspector Wexford series. However, this gem is less of a mystery and more of a suspenseful character study. Portobello refers to the famous North London road that fills with shoppers and markets on the weekend. Off of Portobello Road are rich residences and poor residences.
We meet Lance, a petty thief, who has just been released from prison and is estranged from his longtime love who has left him. He is forced to live with his religious Uncle when the rest of his family won't take him in. Lance thinks that if he could just make some money, his girlfriend will take him back.
Eugene is the owner of an art gallery and is engaged to Ella. However, Eugene has some interesting addiction problems that he feels he must hide from Ella, a doctor. While attending patients at the hospital, Ella meets Joel. Joel who is estranged from his family lives in darkness. He keeps his sunglasses on day and night and keeps lights off in his flat. Ella would really like to help Joel. This attention is new to Joel and he attaches himself to her in some frightening ways.
All of the characters will influence each other either directly or indirectly. Finding out what is really happening in their lives and what will happen to them when others discover their secrets is the journey of this book.