Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Reading...****ahhhhh!

I love summertime reading. No matter where you go, you can (almost) always find time to read a little bit! 

Not every Mystery has to be solved by a cat or a detective agency. Not every Romance is a bodice ripper. Not every Horror story has horrible monsters. These are a few that are just darn good reads!

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard is light summer reading at it's best.

When Jody Linder gets word that the man that killed her father twenty five years ago has been released from Prison she is understandably upset. Her mother disappeared the same night, and has never been seen again. Now her home, Rose, Kansas is going to get even smaller as the murderer returns to his family, bent on revenge and full of hate for the powerful Linder family that put him behind bars.
Tortured by the disappearance of her Mother, overwhelmed by the overbearing of her Grandparents, Aunt and Uncles, Jody unwillingly begins to sort through the history of those days with the eyes of an adult. Through the unravelling of the past, Jody also begins to build her future. The surprising climax of the story is well done and satisfying.

Also read in the last few weeks-

The Help by Kathry Stockett 
This has been made into a major motion picture but I really enjoyed the give and take of this story as written. Three women- two of them black and considered 'invisible' because they are The Help, one of them a disappointing debutante with a mystery of her own to solve, makes this a 'can't put it down' read. Civil rights aside, this is the story of courage in the face of fear, love through thick and thin and everything bad in between. The Help is just that- Women helping other women, families helping families and mostly helping yourself.

The Coral Thief  by Rebecca Stott
Languorous Paris directly after Napoleons fall. The essence of mysterious and dangerous Paris as seen through the eyes of a fresh faced young man. When a beautiful woman steals his precious objects as well as a controversial manuscript, he is determined to get them back. He plunges headlong into a seamy world he knows nothing of. Seeking to hold on to all he understands to be true- the very origins of Man through Divinity- he reluctantly is drawn by his other love- Science- to his own new truth.

Under the Dome by Steven King
The story is compelling and I see that Mr King is making the invariable comparison of life in our world and the ecology that we take for granted. He populates his Dome with horrible monsters that we all know- people who are our neighbors and friends put in dangerous and powerful situations. The Dome represents it all, power,love,redemption and greed. In true King fashion he uses Pop references to punctuate the story and the characters- it almost becomes like a game. " Oh that is from True Blood, that is from Giget, that is from the Dirty Dozen..." How many can you find? Not his best, but a good read just the same.

Swan Song by Robert McCammon
Post Apocalyptic story of the remaking of our world. Harsh, unrelenting and violent it is the story of how a group of people reshape their world after 'The Bombs Fall,' actually commentary about civilization throughout the ages- read it if you have a strong stomach and a thirst for gore. It does have some redeeming values to impart- the Circle of Jewels and the Prophet Swan. Don't compare it to The Stand, enjoy Robert McCammons' writing- which is brilliant- and you may finish it changed but unscathed.

Boys Life by Robert McCammon
Actually my favorite read. The 'boy' is from Smalltown USA, and his troubles should be small too- unfortunately they are not.  But magic, love and faith, defeat darkness, death and fear. I found if full of hope as well as bittersweet sadness for the transitions found in life. This is one I will read again.

Leonie- A Woman Ahead of her Time, memories of Leonie Von Zesch
I am fascinated by history, especially women's history and most especially San Francisco History. This story is actually the memories of Leonie Von Zesch-written down by her over 100 years ago, then forgotten in a trunk in an attic until her niece found them and had them published. It is full of pictures of the 1906 earthquake from Leonie's POV, as well as other photos of her taken through her life. It seems that she was the first woman dentist in San Francisco in 1906, as well as a dentist in Alaska and Arizona.  Leonie had a fascinating and worldly journey doing things that modern women would never think of doing today. A must read!

Georges and Jewels by Jane Smiley
Written for a younger audience, this is still a fun read for us grown up girls that still love horses. Jane Smiley tones down her usual adult vocabulary for simpler themes, but it is still sterling writing. Easy to finish in an hour by the pool, you and your pre teen or tween should love it equally. About a young girl whose father is a horse trader, he uses her to sell the horses- all named George or Jewel so she won't get attached-to families that want kids horses. When she runs into one George that won't confirm she wants to give up. The teachings of  a old horse trainer that uses gentler methods helps her to see that all things aren't just Georges or Jewels, but there are unexpected satisfactions to be found in treating each horse like the individual it really is.

This ought to spur you all into your local bookstore or onto your local website or even (GASP) the Library!
I hope your days are soft and warm, your hours long under the shade, and your words chewy and full of juice!