Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Historian: Another Great Read

.       #3.      The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova  

For lovers of historical fiction this is a gem and if you enjoy a touch of the supernatural with vampire lore then you’ll devour this author’s first novel.  With settings in remote castles, chilling crypts, glorious Istanbul and enough history to thrill a scholar the believable and intriguing characters span time to tell the story of Vlad the Impaler and a young woman’s search for the truth after she finds a mysterious document among her Father’s papers. Beguiling, suspenseful and fun. A lamp burner and very original!

This is another gem you may have missed when it was first published - it received great reviews - but if you didn't read it - don't skip it!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sandra Dallas: Many Great Books To Read

I am continuing my list of books to read in 2011- some you may have missed through the years. Here are some great reads by author Sandra Dallas. I discovered her by chance in a bookstore when I was intrigued by the title of her  book - Buster Midnight's Cafe. I bought the book, fell in love with the characters and her writing style  and have been a fan ever since that time. 

4.  Buster Midnight’s Café  by  Sandra Dallas  Some of the most compelling and loveable characters in fiction are in this book. Small town Montana boasted a movie star hopeful (May Anna) and a heavyweight contender (Buster) but their two best friends Effa Commander and Whippy Bird (you’ll love her) stay back home in Butte as their pals find fame, fortune and ultimately tragedy. A beautifully written story that evokes  war time rural America and all the glamour of studio era 1940’s Hollywood.  A book I have gifted repeatedly… If you love this you’ll also enjoy The Persian Pickle Club (a quilting circle in 1930’s Kansas that provides life support and group therapy for it’s vastly different women - think Steel Magnolias at a quilting bee), The Diary of Mattie Spenser about a young Iowa wife on the Overland Trail (by covered wagon) on her way to Colorado. Getting used to a husband, a new land, and then a prairie home are all shared through her writings. And what a tale she tells… My other Dallas favorite is Whiter Than Snow, which takes place in a small Colorado mining town in the 1920’s and centers on the terrible wait to discover who has survived an avalanche that buried a school. Each of the families is detailed with their story woven through the continuing thread of fear and hope. It is a day when the haves and have nots of the town become equals and when the barriers of wealth and poverty have no distinction. A powerful narrative.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ten to read in 2011: Old Gold - the first 4 recommendations

Here are some of my favorites that you might have missed through the years. You should be able to find most of them at your library or though a local bookstore. They are not in any particular order and range from classics to romance to historical fiction - something for everyone!

10. Paint the Wind  Cathy Cash Spellman’s western historical romance is a sweeping tribute to the boldness of the frontier and the men and women who carved out their destinies following the Civil War. You’ll take a “Fancy” to this one with its tale stretching from Louisiana to a Colorado mining town  to New York City and a cast of characters including a madam, miners, and the two men who love the same woman.

9. Confederacy of Dunces  by John Kennedy Toole.  The title for this singular (and posthumously awarded 1981 Pulitzer Prize winner)  tome comes from the Jonathan Swift quotation, "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." The book takes place in New Orleans (home of the author) and tells the story of Ignatius J. Reilly a thirtyish slob who although well educated believes that lady fortune (ah, goddess Fortuna where are you?) doesn’t shine upon him and his job hunting (through no fault of his own of course!). Unforgettable, with characters so colorful you will find it IMPOSSIBLE to believe the film has yet to be made. Hollywood please hurry --- but PLEASE don’t ruin this masterpiece!

8.     Tender by Mark Childress.  Growing up dirt poor in Mississippi and then becoming the most famous rock and rock legend in history – kind of sounds like Elvis Presley. That will be your guess too when you read this well written and fascinating novel about “Leroy’s” early years, including the twin he lost at birth, his adoring and overly attentive mother, a voice unlike any other and the quest for fame.  An emotional ride through the fictionalized life of the boy from Tupelo who called Memphis home.

7.       In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden. When a middle-aged career woman enters a cloistered Benedictine convent her entire life becomes centered on quiet, thoughtful contemplation, prayer and life within a community of other women. Huge lifestyle change! Rumer Godden does a beautiful job of weaving the fabric of religious life along with the emotional upheaval, spiritual quest (and questions) community (including the stories of the other nuns) as she tells the story of Phillipa Talbot and her new life as a cloistered nun in an English convent. (You may remember the 1970’s movie with Diana Rigg).