Fiction Addiction

Do librarians know books? Yes! Check out the latest fiction reviews from an Indiana librarian!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan mysteries

I have been caught up reading all of the books by Laura Lippman that are part of her Tess Monaghan mysteries. Tess is a very complex character who has been unlucky in love and in her work life. What keeps Tess from being a cardboard character is her outrageous wit. Along with a lot of colorful secondary characters you will be caught up just as I was.

The titles in order are:
1. Baltimore Blues
2. Charm City
3. Butcher's Hill
4. In Big Trouble
5. The Sugar House
6. In a Strange City
7. The Last Place
8. No Good Deeds
9. Another Thing to Fall
10. Girl in the Green Raincoat

Tess and her family and friends have been just the thing to read by the fire on a chilly fall evening.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

"Putting Makeup On Dead People" by Jen violi

I have started to read selections from our Young Adult section. This is a section that I previously overlooked by thinking it wasn't very adult in content. Many of our adult patrons consistently choose "YA" titles and I decided to give it a try. I was wrong in my assessment of the section because there's a lot to interest the adult reader as well as the yound adult reader.
'Putting Makeup on Dead People" by Jen Violi is one of those stories that catches your attention as soon as you read the title.
Donna Parisi is a high school Senior, still missing her father who passed away from cancer four years ago. When a class mate unexpectedly dies, Donna finds herself at the same funeral home where her father's funeral was held. While at the funeral home she realizes that helping others deal with death might be something that she would be good at. She decides to explore the possibility of becoming a mortician.
Naturally her Mother is not in favor of Donna's decision and it causes serious friction between them. Also it's hard for her friends to understand as well. But Donna perseveres and ends up attending Mortuary School and having an internship at the above mentioned funeral home.
The book dealt with themes of death and grief and beginning a new life after the loss of a loved one. This is exactly what happens to Donna and to her mother too.
The book does deal with mortuary science practices. Rather than being morbid it de-mystifies what goes on at a funeral home and gives insights into why people choose mortuary science. I have a different perspective and appreciation for the people who work in this field, after having read it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This classic book celebrated it's 50th anniversary last year! It has never been out of print since being published in 1960.
I remember my first reading experiencd with this book the summer between 5th and 6th grades. I sat on our front porch devouring the story of Scout, Jem, Dill and their unlikely "defender" Boo Radley.
I have read this book numerous times since that summer and each time I'ver read it, I've gotten something new from it.
As a child , I was entertained by Scout, Jem and Dill and didn't really pick up on the more serious themes of racism, class, courage, compassion and gender roles. I just thought it was a great story.
Our book discussion group is reading this for next month's meeting. As I started reading it-again- I wondered if I would enjoy it as much. I shouldn't have worried.
Scout's innocent narrative was as wonderful as I remembered. I loved her comment that their father, Atticus Finch, was a "satisfactory parent" -he played with them, read to them and treated them with "courteous detachment."
I found the other "stories" in the book such as "making Boo Radley come out" were still as affecting. Scout and Jem did indeed "make Boo Radley come out" but not in the manner they expected.
My only regret is that Harper Lee never wrote another book. Maybe she felt that after writing such a perfect book that she didn't feel the need to write further. After all, how do you follow up a story such as Scout and Jem's? In any event, this is still one of those books I will return to when I need to revisit the scene of Scout's childhood-and mine.

Friday, June 03, 2011

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

The setting is 1907 wisconsin. Our main characters are Ralph Truitt and Catherine Land.

Catherine answers a personal ad placed by Ralph for a "reliable" wife. Ralph is not looking for a romantic relationship. His desire is to have a wife to keep him company during the long Wisconsin winters.

The main thrust of the novel is the fact that Catherine is not who she says she is and neither is Ralph. During the course of the story you find out all of their secrets and the plot takes many twists and turns before it concludes.

The book has elements of the gothic novel "Rebecca" included in the fact that Ralph's first wife is dead. There are elements of the novel "Moll Flanders" in the fact that Catherine is a woman with a shady past that lives by her wits.

The plot is fast paced and I kept turning pages to find out how things would be resolved for Ralph and Catherine. Even though there are some dark aspects to the novel I still enjoyed it and it was great entertainment for an evening of reading outside on my deck.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp

At age 22 Brianna Karp had a great job that she loved as an Executive Assistant. In 2009 she lost her job due to the recession and soon found herself homeless. Her only assets were her car, laptop and a travel trailer that she inherited from her father when he died.

This is an affecting story that gives a face to those who are homeless. But unlike many homeless people Brianna does not give up on the American Dream. Over the course of the book I couldn't help but be devastated for her when something unfortunate happened and cheer for her when her life improved.

This book helps erase many stereotypes we may have about homeless people. Not all are homeless by choice, mentally ill or drug addicts. The ways that Brianna finds to survive being homeless are no less than ingenious and at the end of the book I could only wish for the best for her.

What impressed me about her story is that she never whined. She just gave us the details of her life , no matter how gritty they were. It would have been very easy for her to give up on bettering her life, considering the things she went through. Even though she is young, she is wise beyond her years, and you won't be sorry that you read her story.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

I have always been an Elizabeth Berg fan and "The Last Time I Saw You" only adds to my list of books of hers that have been great reads. All of her books have quirky characters and the plot lines never fail to keep you wondering how the story will conclude.

If you everydaydreamed about what all the "poular people" from your high school were like decades later , then you will have much to enjoy in this story. It revolves around the classmates that attend their 40th high school reunion. Dorthy is newly divorced, Pete is still the class heartthrob and Candy is still the class beauty. Also attending are some of the more "ordinary" classmates like Mary Alice, the plain girl and Lester the math nerd that is now a vet.
During the course of the reunion you come to know each character and find out how their lives have turned out since graduation. Have some of them gotten past their high school reputations and are some of them still stuck in old habits and personalities? In the course of the story you will find out the answers to the above questions and some of those answers might surprise you. Save an evening to enjoy this sweet story and you might want to pull out your own old high school yearbook and wonder "Whatever happened to...."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

If you haven't any Irish Pubs to frequent this Saint Patrick's Day may I suggest you spend an evening with a really wonderful book ? There might not be any green beer involved but I guarantee you a good time.
Emily's life has spiraled out of control. Her rich and handsome husband, Sandy, has just been killed in an auto accident and his family wants her evited from the family owned apartment. She is overwhelmed by grief and she has problems at her work as well.
Sandy, Emily's husband, has his own problem. At the time of his accident he was on his way to tell Emily that he is tired of her and wants a divorce. If it isn't evident I'll let you know that Sandy isn't the husband that Emily thought she had. After Sandy's untimely demise, he has been given the task of trying to redeem himself by "the old Man". Is "is the old Man" God you ask? I'll let you decide that for yourself. If it is God, he has a sense of humor. As a result Sandy's soul is inhabiting the body of Einstein, a dog. His task is to help Emily get over her loss and to go on with her life.
The book is told in alternating chapters using Emily's perspective and that of Sandy/Einstein. I can tell you what happens next is sweet and uplifting. Even though Emily has problems you can tell that she is a good, loving person and didn't deserve the hits her life is taking. It's really amusing to read Sandy's/Einstein's chapters beginning with Sandy's disbelief that he's come back as a lowly dog. Did I say already that Sandy isn't the husband that Emily believed him to be? Or that he might not be a good man?
Over the course of the book, which is filled with new friends, job problems and the dispute with Sandy's remaining family , you come to care for Emily and root for her and wish her the best. At the end of the book you have to grudgingly admit that Sandy has changed and you almost feel sorry for him being a dog.
So if you want to know what happens to Emily or to find out if Sandy stays a dog forever take the time to treat yourself to this charming story about second chances in life.