Reading Room Blog

09/18/2015 - 5:47pm
Most-Wanted Westerns

I’ve never really liked horses. The way they side-step with those ginormous, clippy-cloppy hooves, bare those big, big teeth, and roll those huge eyes until the whites show all the way around?  Very scary!  Yes, they are beautiful, and yes, their shiny coats are like stroking silk. But still. Horses. <shudder>

My fear of horses probably is the reason that I never really wanted to read Westerns. But I quite often looked at Westerns.  So many great covers!  So many sub-genres!  I read Doc, by Mary Doria Russell.  And then Epitaph, the sequel. I wanted more, more, more!

I still don’t really like horses, but I have discovered that I really like Westerns! Check out some favorites in my Most-Wanted list.

09/15/2015 - 2:55am
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

In Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son, Jun Do works for the government of “the most glorious nation on earth” as a professional kidnapper. This isn’t a science fiction dystopia, but rather it is a raw, searing novel concerning one man’s life under a regime that crushes its citizens, body and soul.

Jun Do doesn’t know his real name. Like his fellow orphans, his was chosen from a list of North Korean war heroes. There is decency to Jun Do, even as he surmounts a horrific childhood only to realize that he (and everyone else) exists primarily for their usefulness to the state. But Jun Do has ambitions.

09/22/2015 - 11:50am
The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

A dream to get out of the drudgery of domestic service led Tess to take a leap of faith and board the H.M.S. Titanic. She knew she had more to offer the world than cleaning her mistress’ dirty linen, so when the beautiful dress designer Lady Duff Gordon agrees to take her on as a personal assistant,Tess is eager to become part of another, more glamorous life. In Kate Alcott’s The Dressmaker, Tess’ voyage veers from Cinderella story to disaster. Its aftermath will test her loyalties and love for two very different men.

09/02/2015 - 2:46am
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
One auspicious day, long-time widow Addie Moore presents her neighbor, Louis Waters, with an unexpected proposition. She asks him outright if he’d consider spending his nights at her house…in her bed. She assures him she’s not expecting an intimate relationship but was hoping they might share their lives, and, more importantly, keep each other company through what had become an endless string of lonely nights.

09/01/2015 - 10:46am
Longbourn by Jo Baker

What would Jane Austen’s delicate world look like from the point of view of the young woman who launders the family’s linen? Life at Longbourn can be as raw as Sarah the housemaid’s hands as she lugs buckets of water across an icy courtyard. It’s not that the Bennet family isn’t well-liked by their servants. It’s simply that there’s a world of difference between what goes on above and below stairs, as Jo Baker deftly shows in her award-winning novel.

08/27/2015 - 4:17pm
The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer

In Georgette Heyer’s The Unfinished Clue, it becomes evident that whilst some marriages end happily, others end in murder. Sir Arthur Billington-Smith was dead, and he probably deserved it. He had been chuffing and harrumphing at his male guests, leering--and perhaps a bit more--at the female ones, all the while being quite revolting to his wife.

Aren’t English country house parties entertaining? Well, they are when penned by a master craftsman such as Georgette Heyer. Her thoroughly modern (for the early twentieth century) heroine Dinah, sister to the beleaguered soon-to-be widow, has a clever wit and no intention whatsoever of being set down by her blowhard brother-in-law.

08/18/2015 - 2:37am
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife is an intense and richly rewarding reading experience that is also an intimate family story. Like her beloved grandfather before her, Natalia has beaten the odds in the war-torn Balkans to become a doctor. With a heart for others and her best friend at her side, she is trying to deliver and administer vaccines to orphans when she receives word that her grandfather has died.

It did not surprise her entirely. His advancing cancer had been their secret, allowing him to go about his usual routine as best he could. But now, on the other end of a bad phone connection, her grandmother is frantic. Why was her husband in a tiny village no one has heard of? What happened to his very personal belongings which were not returned with his body? Furthermore, she bitterly accuses Natalie (correctly) of having conspired to hide his illness.

08/13/2015 - 9:45am
Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Christine has amnesia. Every day she wakes up not knowing where she is or who’s sleeping next to her. As the day unfolds, she learns that she was involved in a horrific car accident. And, although she has no recollection of him, the man in her bed turns out to be her husband Ben, who has patiently stuck with her throughout her lengthy ordeal. Thus begins Before I Go to Sleep, the debut novel by S. J. Watson.

08/11/2015 - 2:32am
Beekeeping for Beginners: A Short Story by Laurie R. King

Sherlock Holmes is looking for a swarm of wild bees and perhaps something more personally sinister at the start of Beekeeping for Beginners. What, or rather whom, he finds instead is a young person, dressed in good if tattered clothes, whose wits and keen observation are a surprising match for his own.


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