Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Sunday Salon... What's New Pussycat? or Books with Buzz!

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Grab a cup of joe, sit back and relax! It's the day of the week where we get together to chat about all the bookish things we've read, seen and done! This week was Read Like a Mother Week at Chick with Books, where we reviewed and highlighted books books that showcase women in the rolls of mothers, sisters or just simply friends, and,in the case of The Guardian by Margaret Mallory, lovers! Fiction (and nonfiction) that showcases women. Today I thought we'd finish up the week with some other great reading that isn't necessarily all about us girls...

Check out these great reads that I found in my travels this week... Of course those travels weren't to a bookstore this week. Alas my local bookstore has finally shut its doors. Yes, my local bookstore was a Borders. Now I'll be traveling a bit farther to get the feel of a real book in my hands when it comes to bookstores, but there is an independent bookstore I just love that I don't get to visit as often as I like and I look forward to driving off to visit it more often now. So, here are some great Books with Buzz...

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks... from the author's website: "Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha’s Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. The narrator of Caleb’s Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island’s glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative, secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia’s minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the island’s strongest pawaaw, against whose ritual magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. Bethia, also in Cambridge at the behest of her imperious elder brother, finds herself enmeshed in Caleb’s fate as he crosses between cultures."

What really caught my attention with Caleb's Crossing was the thought of being immersed in a story that would take me to a time and place virtually untouched by civilization, a landscape that was pure and in which we could enjoy the discovery of it's secrets as Bethia, our heroine, explores it's riches, which include a culture unfamiliar to her and how her friend Caleb finds his place in her world. Geraldine Brooks is a master at creating wonderful stories from pieces of history, and I can't wait to dive into this one!

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon... It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse
of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

This sounds like an amazing story. What further convinced me to put this in the TBR pile was part of a Publisher's Weekly review that said...
"Although their stories diverge and unfold independently of one another, memories of their short time together sustain them for more than 40 years..."
I love stories where we hear the story from two characters separate from each other. And my heart tugged at the notion that their "memories of their time together sustained them for 40 years." A love story, a story that shows that love isn't restricted to people with disabilities, and an adventure all wrapped up in one make this a must read for me!

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto... From Publisher's Weekly: Yoshimoto delves into an elusive romance between an artist and a
student, each of whom bears scars from unusual upbringings, in this clever, off-beat novel. The 30-year-old narrator earns a modest living as a mural painter in Tokyo, supported by her businessman father whom she sees only occasionally since the death of her mother; her parents never married, as her mother was a Mama-san of a nightclub, her father the devoted customer, and his family dead-set against the match, seeding a deep sense of shame and inadequacy in the girl. Presently, she has befriended a curious young man, Nakajima, who begins to sleep over at her place, though chastely. A student in an advanced program of genetics, he hints at terrible secrets in his childhood, which are gradually revealed after the two visit Nakajima's very strange friends in the countryside, and it's revealed that Nakajima had been kidnapped as a boy by a cult and brainwashed. Unsettling as Nakajima's story is, the narrator has grown to cherish him and must decide if their uncommon connection—not passionate, but comforting and near-maternal—will bring lasting happiness.

Banana Yoshimoto is a wildly popular Japanese author, who I discovered while reading for the Japanese Literature Challenge. Her books are often short, amazingly wonderful stories with quirky characters. As a fan of Japanese literature, it's a treat when an author is translated for us, and this should be welcomed by fans of the author as well as anyone who enjoys a good story. This has gotten a lot of great buzz since it publication at the beginning of this month! It's coming my way, so keep a look out for a review soon. BTW, A portion of the sale of this book will go to Japanese Disaster Relief.

Weekly Recap... We started this weeks theme of "Read Like a Mother" Monday with Two Kisses for Maddy by Matt Logelin, the heartfelt memoir of Matt Logelin, who lost his wife, Liz, 27 hours after the birth of their daughter Maddy, from a pulmonary embolism. Matt's story is one of learning how to be a single dad at the same time as becoming a widow. Originally he poured out his heart on a blog he created after Liz's death. Wednesday, I highlighted Ann Brasheres, a favorite author of mine who gave us the wonderful story of 4 young girls, their friendship, their coming-of-age story, and their shared pair of magical jeans. The story of course is The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which became 4 books, and now 10 years later those friends have grown up and we can revisit them in Ann's new book Sisterhood Everlasting! Thursday this week brought the sexier side of women, with a review AND GIVEAWAY of The Guardian by Margaret Mallory! Men in kilts, history, adventure and ROMANCE await ye in this wonderful book by Margaret Mallory! Don't miss your chance to win a copy! Follow the link above to enter! Friday's First Lines gave us a sneak peek at Wallflower by Holly-Jane Rahlens. The novel is set during the fall of the Berlin Wall. It's "Wallflower is four hours in the life of Molly Lenzfeld, sixteen-year-old New Yorker in Berlin." After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Molly decides to visit her mother's birth house in East Berlin, that's when she meets Mick & the Berlin no one really knows..." This is on my reading table right now. Holly-Jane Rahlens writing is fresh & the story is entertaining. I'll be righting my review for it soon...

That's how my reading week was, how was yours?? What great books have you discovered this week?! Share them so the rest of us can enjoy them too! I hope you found something to pique your reading curiosity here today! And I hope you enjoyed Read Like a Mother Week! Take care and Happy Reading... Suzanne


Laurel-Rain Snow said...

What an awesome week you've had! Thanks for sharing...


Unknown said...

I read one of Banana Yoshimoto's books many years ago - I hope you enjoy The Lake.

I have a list of the books I bought or started reading this week on my blog. None of them are mother-related, though my excuse is that we had Mother's Day back in April here in the UK.

Karen Essex said...

Hi Suzanne,

I just finished Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book. Fascinating story, but I found it frustrating that as soon as I got invested in a character, s/he disappeared from the narrative! Definitely taught me a lesson as a novelist! Hope all is well,

Tea said...

I really loved Caleb's Crossing. I really like your review. Both Bethia and Caleb were interesting in the way what they wanted for themselves didn't fit their society. Talk about frustration. I would like to take time to read People of the Book.

Confuzzled Shannon said...

I keep coming across Caleb's Crossing..I will have to take a look at it.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

OK, that picture at the very bottom of your post for the text hugging the girl is just about the coolest thing I've ever seen!

Melissa said...

So glad you got the Rachel Simon book! She's doing an event tomorrow night here and I'm hoping I will be able to make it. She's been one of my very favorite authors since her first book of short stories came out in 1990, and this one looks spectacular.

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