Reviewed by Jim
I had actually been waiting for this book to be translated into English for some time. It was written by a Italian writers collective Wu Ming (aka Luther Blisett). Altai is a loose sequel to their book Q published in 1999. Because it is a translation the tone of the writing can be jarring. What was probably written of an older prose style in the Italian was translated into modern English. The story itself opens with the main character Emmanuele De Zante agent for the Venetian secret service investigating a fire in the state run armory in 1569. However the reader doesn’t stay in Venice for long. A long kept secret forces De Zante to flee across the Mediterranean where he falls in with the very people he used to hunt.
The real strength of this book is the scenery. The authors write beautiful descriptions of 16th century Venice, Thessalonica, Istanbul. A person who loves armchair travel would enjoy the sense of place the authors impart the reader. Although I didn’t always find the main character believable (De Zante goes from being a loyal servant of Venice to one of its enemies a little too quickly to be believed) the secondary characters are very compelling. I think this is partly because the secondary characters are mostly carry overs from Q and are much better developed.
It was announced on Mr. Leonard’s website today that, “Elmore passed away this morning at 7:15 AM at home surrounded by his loving family. More to follow.”
The New York Times profiled Leonard who wrote 45 books including “Get Shorty” and his latest, “Raylan.”
Reviewed by Kim
As many readers know by now, this novel is actually written by J.K. Rowling. It features a very unique private investigator named Cormoran Strike. He lost his leg in Afghanastan and is barely scraping by. He’s down to one client, just broke up with his longtime girlfriend, and is living out of his office. Fortuitously John Bristow comes to him asking for help in solving the murder of his sister the famous model Lulu Landry who recently plummeted to her death from her high rise apartment. Police have written it off as a suicide, but John is convinced she was pushed. Luckily for Cormoran Ms Robin Ellacott also litterally falls into his life at the same time as she is seeking a temp job as a secretary. She becomes so much more and actually winds up invaluable in helping to solve the case. Let me first say although I am admittedly a Rowling fan I would have loved this book regardless. The characters are fantastic and while Cormoran isn’t your typical picture perfect hero, you can’t help loving him. The plot is full of so many twists and turns that it keeps you guessing until the end. I actually had no clue who the murderer was until the end of the book. Yes it clocks in at almost 500 pages, but it’s still a fast read. There are rumors that Rowling is planning on making this into a series and I fervently hope so. The ending was definitely left open so you can see her doing this. I highly recommend this to readers who like a good strong mystery.
Jessica Brockmole’s debut novel written in letters sparkles from the start. Don’t let the format put you off. If you are thinking of long-winded letters from the 18th Century, think again. These letters move the pace along in this historical novel often leaving the reader hanging and highlighting the desperation of the time period. Brockmole creates parallel narratives one starting in 1912 and the other during the second World War.
In the earlier time period we meet Elspeth Dunn, a young poet who is isolated on the island of Skye. A plucky, young, American college student writes a fan letter to Elspeth, her very first. The unlikely pair strike up a friendship despite the ocean that divides them. Both writers are witty and charming and it was easy to fall in love with both.
The second narrative follows Elspeth’s daughter Margaret who has been escorting children into the country to escape the bombings in World War II. When she visits her mother in Edinburgh, she finds one of her mother’s letters. A bomb hits Elspeth’s house and Elspeth disappears. Margaret is in love with a soldier and writes to him about her efforts to find Elspeth and to piece together her story and to find out the truth about her own father. Margaret calls upon what little family she can find and starts up a correspondence with her curmudgeonly, long lost uncle.
Letters from Skye grabbed me from the first and I didn’t want to put it down. Brockmole doesn’t bog the reader down with details, but still manages to bring her settings to life. The characters are brave and headstrong, but also endearing. This love story that spans to World Wars is a great read for some of our rainy summer days.
“Welcome to Mattagash, the last town in the middle of the northern Maine wilderness. The road dead-ends here, but Mattagash’s citizens are fiercely proud.
Yet this simple town connected by a single one-way bridge is anything but tranquil. While neighbors bicker publicly over trivialities such as offensive mailbox designs and gossip about suspicious newcomers, they privately struggle to navigate deeper issues—scandals, loss, failed ambitions, the scars of war…and a mysterious dead body in the woods.
With her trademark wit and keen eye for detail, Pelletier has assembled an unforgettable cast of endearing and eccentric characters, from scheming mailmen and peeping toms to lovesick waitresses and loggers whose underhandedness belies their ingenuity. The citizens of Mattagash will make you laugh and cheer for them as they stumble into one another’s lives and strive to define themselves in a changing world that threatens to leave them behind.
The One-Way Bridge is an extraordinary portrait of family, loneliness, and community—and the kinds of compromises we all make in the name of love.”
Jan said, “It’s hilarious. If you go to Maine, you’ll love it.”
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Visit the library’s pinterest page or click on the image below to take a look at the new fiction finding a home in our collection this month.
About the book:
“In The Golden Egg, as the first leaves of autumn begin to fall, Vice Questore Patta asks Brunetti to look into a minor shop-keeping violation committed by the mayor’s future daughter-in-law. Brunetti has no interest in helping his boss amass political favors, but he has little choice but to comply. Then Brunetti’s wife, Paola, comes to him with a request of her own. The mentally handicapped man who worked at their dry cleaner has just died of a sleeping pill overdose, and Paola loathes the idea that he lived and died without anyone noticing him, or helping him.
Brunetti begins to investigate the death and is surprised when he finds nothing on the man: no birth certificate, no passport, no driver’s license, no credit cards. As far as the Italian government is concerned, he never existed. Stranger still, the dead man’s mother refuses to speak to the police, and assures Brunetti that her son’s identification papers were stolen in a burglary. As secrets unravel, Brunetti suspects that the Lembos, an aristocratic family, might be somehow connected to the death. But why would anyone want this sweet, simple-minded man dead?”
The patron said:
“It was a great book. She really captures the character and the place. She’s an enjoyable writer”
If you’ve already read The Golden Egg, try one of these:
- The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie
“When Detective Inspector James joins forces with Detective Inspector Melody Talbot to solve the murder of an esteemed barrister, their investigation leads them to realize that nothing is what it seems—with the crime they’re investigating and their own lives.With an abundance of twists and turns and intertwining subplots, The Sound of Broken Glass by New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie is an elaborate and engaging page-turner.”
- The Dead Season by Christobel Kent
“Every August, Florence shimmers in the summer heat. But this year the heatwave is fiercer than usual, and the city’s inhabitants have fled to the cool of the hills and beaches of the surrounding countryside. So it is no surprise that amidst the shrubbery of a normally busy roundabout, a corpse lies unnoticed, bloating in the humid air. Sandro Cellini will not be joining the crowds of holidaymakers this year. The former policeman turned private detective has a case: a man who seems to have vanished into thin air — leaving his pregnant young wife alone in the city. Meanwhile, bank teller Roxana Delfino is also stuck in the city for the season, with nothing to do but worry for her aging mother and puzzle over the disappearance of one her regular clients. As all Florence sweats it out, Cellini attempts as best he can to grapple with his case and the complications it throws up. And when the weather finally breaks, it brings with it a shocking revelation”
Clay Jannon is an out of work graphic designer in Silicon Valley. In attempt to concentrate on his job search and not get sidetracked on the internet, Clay prints out job postings and walks the streets of San Francisco. On one of his excursions, he ends up in front of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore where he sees a help wanted sign in the window. After a very brief interview, he’s offered the job. Clay works the overnight shift and he soon finds out that there are two parts to the bookstore. The front of the store is a regular used bookstore, while the back of the store is more of a lending library. Clay must climb up incredibly steep ladders to get books for customers who come in at all hours. Each of the books in the back of the store is in code and Clay is required to record the name and “state of mind” of the borrower.
In an effort to attract more customers to the store, Clay inadvertently runs into a young woman who works at Google. Clay and Cat join forces to see if they can figure out what is really going on at the bookstore. Together, they uncover a secret society and test the limits of the behemoth that is Google.
Sloan’s novel has cult classic written all over it. The cover glows in the dark. Need I say more? Clay is a likeable everyman/slacker and unlikely hero of one pretty quirky bookstore. Folks who read for character might enjoy the fact that Clay surrounds himself with interesting folks. His best friend owns a start up that supplies software to video game companies and his roommate Matt works at Industrial Light and Magic. In his spare time, Matt takes over the living room of their apartment with his miniature world “Mattropolis”. The celebration of technology and moveable type in the same book was a real treat. I found the tech/geek side of myself warring with the book nerd side of myself. Fans of Umberto Eco and Carlos Ruiz Zafon may relish this novel gem.
Set in the early years of the Hundred Years War, 1356 sees the resurrection of Cornwell’s irascible archer, Thomas of Hookton. Thomas is given a quest to find La Malice, the oddly-shaped sword believed to have been used by Saint Peter to lop off the ear of one of the men who arrested Jesus Christ. The French, English and Roman Catholic clergy all believe that it is a relic of awesome power whose possession will guarantee victory. Hookton, known as Le Batard, bluffs and fights his way through the burning and ravaged French countryside – sometimes the hunter, sometimes the hunted – and ends up playing a key role in the Battle of Poitiers. Along the way we find a compelling assortment of criminals, power-abusing churchmen and heroes with varying and shifting loyalties and agendas. The actual battle itself is classic Cornwell: descriptive and informative but never boring. One can almost smell the stink of sour wine on the breath of combatants as they charge and clash. No one, except perhaps Steven Pressfield, can weave a battle tale as deftly as Cornwell. 1356 is first rate historical fiction and a most satisfying read.
Reviewed by Alan
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