Thursday, March 31, 2016

In The Cafe of Lost Youth

I am not exactly proud to admit that when I realized I needed a book to review for the blog this week, I walked over to our New Fiction shelf and plucked up one of the shortest books I could find, without even glancing at the cover. I'm not proud of it, but I could not be happier with the consequence. The title and cover of Patrick Modiano's In the Cafe of Lost Youth would not have enticed me to read this book, and that superficial oversight would have been a big mistake.
Modiano's work is a quick read not because of how short the book actually is, but because of how it is written - seemingly as a stream of consciousness, flowing as easily as the thoughts and conversations we have with ourselves at any given moment. A story is told from three points of view. Modiano doesn't announce when the narrator changes, there is simply a shift in the narrative. The narrators do not introduce themselves, but by the end of the book you know who they are and feel how they feel simply from having caught a glimpse into their thoughts. The story appears to be about a girl, Louki, who catches everyone's attention simply by being a part of the mystery, as it is said. However, what the book was about, to me, was an idea only mentioned in passing. It seems to be about neutral zones, black matter, and the people you meet in both spaces who play a part in "the mystery" and can stick with you long after you've left their presence to rejoin the real world.
Modiano makes the reader really reflect on themselves and their experiences, without openly asking them to. The awareness of your own stream of consciousness stays with you awhile after reading through someone else's. If you aren't afraid of delving into the "neutral zones," I would definitely recommend giving this a read.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

All the Birds in the Sky

I have a confession to make. I first looked at this book because of its beautiful cover. And I like birds. A lot. But then I read the blurb by Michael Chabon on the front cover, and all the positive reviews, and I was hooked. This book is a bit strange, but oh so compelling. It's about the end of the world, the balance between magic and science, and two childhood friends, Patricia and Laurence, who grow up on either side of that balance. Patricia is a graduate of a secret magic academy (think Hogwarts) and works with a small group of other magicians to secretly fix problems that occur in the world. Laurence is an engineering genius working with a group of techies to try to avoid global catastrophe through technological means. It's very difficult to give a quick summary of this book, because it defies categorization, and I don't want to give away too much. If you like coming of age stories, fantasy or science fiction, or dystopian future stories, give this a try. Patrice and Laurence are smart and lovable and quirky and will steal your heart, despite the wild and crazy storyline, I promise.

submitted by Kelly Currie

Friday, March 18, 2016

No Shred of Evidence

      Although, this is Charles Todd's 18th book in the Scotland Yard's Inspector Ian Rutledge series, it's the first one I've read. It is a true mystery.

     Inspector Rutledge is called to Padstow after four young women are accused of trying to murder a local banker's son, who remains in a coma.  Rutledge is not the first one to be called to Padstow. Corporal Hamish MacLeod was in Padstow less than 24 hours when he was found dead in his room. There were no notes to be found, so Rutledge had to start the investigation from the beginning.

     When the banker's son, Harry Saunders, dies, the charges are changed to murder. The four young women are from very well-to-do families and they are none too happy to repeat the incident and be accused of murder over and over. Which they all claim they "did not do." Rutledge comes up with many endless clues and several more dead bodies. At the very end, Rutledge comes up with the clues and the murderer.

     I love a great mystery when you can't figure out the "who did it" till you are close to the end of the book. I will be reading more of Charles Todd's Inspector Ian Rutledge series.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Tomb

This was my first Stephanie Landsem book and I was not disappointed. When you stay up too late so you can read more, it is a good book. And no, I did not have to turn in a book report the next day.

Landsem's The Tomb, is about the biblical Mary, Martha and brother Lazarus. The story is fiction, but the scriptures are not altered, which I was relieved to find. The author uses creativity with these familiar characters that really did work.

Martha is the main character. Because she has known Jesus all her life, and because she has a secret, she struggles with coming to belief that he is the true messiah.  Tombs (cocoons we get tangled up in) is what the reader will consider and ponder after reading this story. We've all had them! ~ Patsy Scott

This is the March 2016 selection for the Delphi Public Library Faith Book Club.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

I have loved all of Gary Schmidt's previous works and was thrilled to see that he wrote a new teen novel. Orbiting Jupiter held up to my expectations and is a beautiful, well-written story of a 14 year old boy, Joseph, as told by 12 year old Jack.

Jack and his parents are a very happy, close family that live on a farm. One day they are asked to take in a troubled young man that has recently been released from a juvenile detention center after the attempted murder of his teacher.

Jack is told by everyone, except his parents, to stay away from Joseph, as they can't see beyond his past mistakes. Immediately upon entering the home, Jack and his parents treat Joseph as part of the family and never judge him for the heinous crime that he committed. Slowly, Joseph begins to open up to the family and they learn his incredible and sad story.

When Joseph was 13, he fell in love with a young girl and they ended up having a daughter named Jupiter. He is desperate to find and meet his infant daughter despite the girl's parents being insistent on Joseph never finding his her.

After spending time with Jack and his parents, Joseph begins to believe he can have a happy future. When he finally gains confidence in himself, he is confronted by his terrible history which leads to an emotional and intense ending.


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Cellar by Minette Walters

Young Muna has lived as a slave to the Songoli family (mother, father, and two sons) for six years, after being removed from a West African orphanage at age 8.  When the family immigrates to England, Muna accompanies them. With her nights filled with horrible abuse at the hands of Mr. Songoli, locked in an unlit basement, and her days filled with manual labor and beatings by the rod-wielding Yetunda (Mrs. Songoli), Muna has led a bleak life, devoid of affection and care. This all changes when the Songolis’ youngest son, overweight and spoiled, fails arrive home after school.  In order to explain Muna’s presence to the investigators, the family “adopts” her, claiming that she is their mentally disabled daughter who can neither, read, write nor speak English (an underestimation that will have surprising consequences for all concerned).  They dispose of her basement mattress, dress her in “Princess’s” cast-off clothing (Yetunda has always forced Muna use this endearment to address her…in the few times she is permitted to speak), and prop her up in a neatly furnished bedroom.  Having never been allowed to leave the house since the family’s immigration, and beaten if she is caught looking out, Muna at first views these white interlopers with a mixture of fear and superstitious awe (she believes the lead officer can see into her soul with her piercing blue eyes). Despite her misgivings, it soon becomes apparent that while suspicion for the boy’s disappearance looms over the family, Muna’s quality of life is significantly improved.  Upon this rise in station, Muna begins to engineer her own reversal of fortune.  Fast-paced, surprising, and short, Minette Walter’s newest novella is highly readable!

Jennifer Wilson