Friday, March 7, 2014
Scribner|February 18, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-4516-9356-0
Mesmerizing and illuminating, Alice Hoffman's THE MUSEUM OF EXTRAORDINARY THINGS is the story of an electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decade of the twentieth century.
Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impressario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father's "museum", alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.
The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father's Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a milor's apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes enbroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman's disappearance and ignities the heart of Coralie.
With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. THE MUSEUM OF EXTRAORDINARY THINGS is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding.
THE MUSEUM OF EXTRAORDINARY THINGS is a partial historical account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the Dreamland Fire that took place in New York in 1911. The author wrote within a historical context while using imaginary lives and fates.
The story is told alternately betwen Coralie Sardie and Eddie Cohen who eventually meet in the story.
Coralie lives an extremely sheltered life with her very strange and bizarre father. Her only saving grace is, Maureen, her caretaker/mother. Coralie's father owns and runs a literal freak show on Coney Island and is constantly struggling to keep his head above water. Along with a weird cast of characters in the museum, he also has Coralie performing in a tank as a mermaid.
Eddie Cohen is a Russian immigrant who is Jewish and is struggling as an apprentice tailor under the tutledge of his father.
I felt so sorry for Coralie who is constantly subjected to her father's abusive ways and he lords his power over her. She was born with webbed hands making him all the more intent on Coralie performing daily as the mermaid. He'd been training and grooming her for this role her whole life. I was so grateful for, Maureen, who at least showed some love toward Coralie. Without her, Coralie would have been completely alone in the world.
Eddie eventually gave up the tailoring business and became a photographer. He finds his father to be a weak man and a coward and completely distances himself from him. However, Eddie also has garnered a reputation as someone who can find missing people with relative ease which is how he eventually meets up with Coralie.
The prose in this novel is simply beautiful and I can see this becoming one of the biggest bestsellers of 2014.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Simon & Schuster|August 6, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4516-2138-9
An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery. BRAIN ON FIRE is the powerful account of one woman's struggle to recapture her idenity.
When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she'd gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life; at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?
In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family's inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn't happen. "A fascinating look at the disease that...could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life" (People). BRAIN ON FIRE is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.
Susannah's story is almost unbelievable, but it is real. It just shows how complex our brains really are and how quickly something unexpected can happen. During her month into hell, I wasn't sure she was going to make it out the other end. If it hadn't been for the dedication and devotion of one specific doctor she most likely would have lost her mind forever and never regained her self.
The story was riveting to say the least and kept me glued to my seat. The medical jargon was explained in layman's terms so it was easy to understand exactly what was going on with Susannah each step of the way.
I would highly recommend this book to friends and relatives.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
Kensington | November 26, 2013 | Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7582-8116-6
In this richly emotional novel, Kristina McMorris evokes the depth of a mother's bond with her child, and the power of personal histories to echo through generations...
Two years have done little to ease veterinarian Audra Hughes's grief over her husband's untimely death. Eager for a fresh start, Audra plans to leave Portland for a new job in Philadelphia. Her seven-year-old son, Jack, seems apprehensive about flying - but it's just the beginning of an anxiety that grows to consume him.
As Jack's fears continue to surface in recurring and violent nightmares, Audra hardly recognizes the introverted boy he has become. Desperate, she traces snippets of information unearthed in Jack's dreams, leading her to Sean Malloy, a struggling US Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan. Together they unravel a mystery dating back to World War II, and uncover old family secrets that still have the strength to wound - and perhaps, at last, to heal.
Intricate and beautifully written, THE PIECES WE KEEP illuminates those moments when life asks us to reach beyond what we know and embrace what was once unthinkable. Deftly weaving together past and present, herein lies a story that is at once poignant and thought-provoking, and as unpredictable as the human heart.
THE PIECES WE KEEP was a beautifully written story about a young boy whose night terrors unearth a relationship between two people during World War II. How does Jack know the names of these people? Did he live in a past life or is there something more that we don't know?
I absolutely couldn't put this book down. The chapters are written alternately between present time with Jack and Audra and the story of Vivan and her beaus during World War II. A lot of the information contained in the story pertaining to World War II actually happened at noted by the author at the end of her book.
This is one story I'll be recommending to friends and family.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Amy Einhorn Books|March 4, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-399-15798-1
MISTER OWITA'S GUIDE TO GARDENING is about a wonderful friendship between Carol Wall and Giles Owita. It's a book about illness and also how we need to learn to not make assumptions.
Carol Wall is a high school teacher living in the United States and is happily married with grown children. Giles Owita also lives in the United Sates, is happily married and has young children but is originally from Kenya.
Carol and her husband never much cared about how their garden looked, it just wasn't a priority in their lives. One day she was admiring a neighbours garden which was breathtaking when she began to have a change of heart. Why subject her community to their mess when everyone else had well maintained yards. Carol noticed a black man working in the neighbours yard and figured she'd ask him to come and speak with her about doing her garden. The woman who owned the home was a master gardener herself so Carol thought Giles must be good if she let him maintain her yard.
Carol assumed because Giles was a yard worker that he was automatically uneducated and probably not very bright. When Carol first met Giles she wasn't overly friendly and fought him on a lot of the ideas he had to improve her garden. Over time they became the best of friends even though Carol was occupied with worry over her cancer returning. She and Giles, although happily married to other people, enjoyed a completely platonic but intimate friendship. As their friendship blossomed and their complete trust in each other grew, they began to reveal private and tragic secrets to each other.
As Carol confided in Giles, Giles too confided in Carol further cementing their relationship. Carol said: "...my conversations with Giles Owita became my ideal postgraduate education, I even took notes..."
This memoir is a very personal account really of two people's lives. And, there is a lot more to Giles Owita than meets the eye. You'll be surprised at what you learn about this charming man from Kenya. We'd all be lucky to meet and befriend a Giles Owita.
I liked the line where Carol wrote: "Fate had sent a professor to my door, and my conversations with him were like a dream class..."
I enjoyed this book thoroughly and will be sharing it with friends and recommending it to other people.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
HarperCollins|January 13, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-44342-012-9
The extraordinary happens every day...
George Duncan is an American living and working in London. He is divorced, the owner of a small print shop, and lonelier than he realizes. One night he is woken by an extraordinary sound coming from his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by a giant arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George pulls out the arrow and frees the crane, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed. Before he knows it, he meets and falls in love with the enigmatic Kumiko, an artist who changes the lives of everyone around her, including Amanda, George's angry-and very funny daughter, her adorable French son and George himself.
Wise, romantic, sublime and laugh-out-loud funny, THE CRANE WIFE is hugely entertaining, but it also resonates on a deep, dreamlike, mythic level. Above all, it is a celebration of the disruptive and redemptive power of love.
Wow, what a great read! Very unique and very interesting. I would love to have a huge crane land in my back-yard. George Duncan is such a giving and feeling man who cares a great deal about people and their interests. His other wives divorced him because he was "too nice." Can you imagine that?
I don't really have anything to add as I think the synopsis above does an excellent job of descriibing exactly what this novel is about.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Little, Brown Books|November 12, 2013|Hard Cover|ISBN: 978-0-316-24676-7
Dear Mr. S. Harris,
Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It's jam, not blood, though I don't think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn't your wife's jam the police found on your shoe...
I know what it's like.
Mine wasn't a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him exactly three months ago.
Zoe has an unconventional pen pal - Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.
Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story - somebody who knows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.
Rising literary star Annabel Pitcher pens a captivating second novel, rich with her distinctive balance between humor and heart, Annabel explores the themes of first love, guilt, grief, introducing a character with a witty voice and true emotional resonance.
KETCHUP CLOUDS was a very interesting story. Zoe, after killing a young teenage boy, is suffering from such guilt and remorse that she just has to tell someone. She goes online and finds a website for ''death row inmates'' and chooses Stuart Harris who is slated to die from lethal injection for murdering his wife.
Using the ficticious name of Zoe, she begins writing a series of letters to Mr. Harris, slowly building up to the day she killed the boy in the hope it will assuage her guilt. Inbetween she is having a lot to contend with between her schoolwork, her father losing his job, her parents fighting and arguing all the time, and coping with her deaf sister whom she loves to death.
Zoe not only falls in the love with the boy she killed, Max but also his brother Aaron. She ends up killing Max but does she still end up with Aaron in the end?
And she goes on a campaign of writing to a Nun to try and get Mr. Harris's date for death of May 1st stopped. Is she successful in that endeavour?
A really well-written story, very interesting and well-done! Highly recommended