Parker’s Picks: November/December 2009
- 18 Comment
I love to read. I’ve never had to worry about what to read or what finding great books. Why? Because I happen to have the best librarian in the world as my mother (@marianslibrary). Long before blogs and other online communities my mother has put together monthly (sometimes seasonal) reading lists. She has always shared them with friends, family, co-workers and sometimes strangers (seriously). The woman LOVES anything to do with books. Who else would take the time to put together a list and review (like the one below) regardless of whether anyone reads it?
Here’s the thing, I’m trying to convince her to start a blog or a stream dedicated to her books, reviews and her monthly picks. She recently started #whatareyoureadingweek on Twitter and is looking to grow a community on Good Reads. I’ve also encouraged her to add the hashtag #parkerspicks when she talks about her selections.
PLEASE do me a favor. Take a look at her picks and reviews. If you like what you see, encourage her to start a blog or offer a suggestion on how she can best share this information with a larger audience. I receive emails like this every month and feel they are an untapped treasure for book lovers. If you agree, respond in the comments or tweet her.
<Sorry Mom, I had to do it.>
The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK…… (69)
Loved this book! It’s the story of Lillian, who owns the restaurant, Lillian’s Restaurant. She offers a monthly cooking class to 8 people. Each chapter is devoted to each character and a new recipe is taught to the class. The development of each character is so well done! The food that is taught to the class is deliciously described! This would make a wonderful book for a book club! Then members of the group could make some of the food! I do have a plan when it’s my turn to choose!
Going Bovine, by Libba Bray AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK…… (11)
This copy was autographed by Libba Bray at the, Young Author’s Conference, I recently attended in Naperville! She is such a vibrant energetic person! Cameron is pitch perfect as a Holden Caufield type guy suddenly confronted with his possible death and the even stranger possibility that maybe the world doesn’t stink as much as he thought. Or maybe it does. Or maybe not. If that doesn’t sell you, you should just know there is a talking garden gnome. Libba Bray uses Don Quixote as the main recurring theme for Cameron’s quest to discover the difference between being alive and living.
Day After Night, by Anita Diamant AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK…… (46)
It’s unbelievable that after surviving the Holocaust, people were imprisoned in an internment camp in Haifa by the British military because they were “illegal” immigrants. Thanks to Anita Diamant’s novel, I now know about this, as well as the incredible rescue that occurred. The story centers around four women in the camp. Diamant writes eloquently about the unique perspective of people emerging from war and adapting to life again. If you enjoyed, The Red Tent, by Diamant, you will want to pick this up!
The Magician’s, by Lev Grossman AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK…… (133)
Quentin has always been different, excelling in school, rotten at socialization, returning often to the beloved fantasy books of his youth a la Narnia or a Wrinkle in Time. Quite unexpectedly, Quentin is told that he is not just different, he is special. He is a magician and is being offered entry into an exclusive college for the magically inclined called Brakebills in upstate New York. Here he will learn the art of spellcasting…and so much more. There is magic, death, humor, drugs, romance, monsters, peer pressure, self-exploration and some very strange imagery all told in the most gloriously rich language.
Mathilda Savitch, by Victor Lodato AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK…… (22)
Mathilda Savitch would appeal to the young adult audience. Mathilda’s 16-year-old sister dies tragically. Her parents, especially her mother, are having a difficult time coming to grips with the death. Mathilda is trying in her own way to help her parents move on. Mathilda is a well developed character with her own growing pains which teens can relate to. It is a very fast paced book. I read it in two days! I was anxious to find out what caused her sister’s death and the mystery surrounding it. This was my first, Goodreads’ First Read!
Ruined: A Ghost Story, by Paula Morris AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK…… (84)
The south, graveyards, good writing, a well spun multi-generational yarn, a curse, ghosts, and tarot card readers, how could I not love this book? This book had wonderful historical context, mystery and romance. I liked the post Katrina New Orleans setting. I was able to read about the rich history that the city has. I really enjoyed the storyline and the well developed characters as they discovered the mystery of Lisette and the “curse” that haunted a group of friends from long ago.
Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK…… (108)
If you loved Niffenegger’s recent bestseller, The Time Traveler’s Wife, you will want to read this book! Now this is a ghost story – spooky and creepy and shivers up your spine without being in your face jump out of the closet ghost scary. I devoured this book and will have to go back and re-read it. Edie/Elspeth- the twins are deliciously creepy and bizarre, the cemetery figures into the story in such a natural way, the stories of people buried there add a great trivia element to the book, and the secondary characters are all really wonderful – I love how you get to dive a little into each of their lives and their psyches, so that they are as 3-dimensional as the main characters. I forgot what a good job Audrey Niffenegger does of pulling you in and making the strange seem plausible and even ordinary – time travel, ghosts, whatever! Such a weird and beautiful story, and she tells it so well, weaving it all together into an interesting and heartbreaking ending (I don’t think that saying that gives anything away – you kind of go into this book knowing that someone’s heart is going to be broken).
Nation, by Terry Pratchett AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK…… (122)
In a fantasy world that looks like what our own might have been in the 1800s, an enormous tsunami hits the Pacific, wiping out the entire population of islands and stranding shocked, isolated survivors in a new landscape. Two survivors meet, one a “ghost” girl, a distant relative of the Queen of England, who has been aboard ship returning to her father, a member of the British Royal Academy and is studying the cultures of the South, the other is thirteen year-old, no longer a boy, not yet a man, who survived because he had been at sea returning home. Serious, thoughtful, imaginative, and surprisingly witty by turns… How to create a new world, when the old ones have been destroyed.
Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Hall,#1), by Maggie Stiefvater AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK… (192)
This book exceeded my expectations and I was drawn in to Sam and Grace’s story. Shiver is paranormal romance at its best. The story draws you in and will not let you go. You are engaged in the characters. You care about what happens and you’re left breathless and have to keep turning the pages. This is a book that when I stopped reading, I had to come out of a reading fog because I would be so drawn into the story it took me a minute to remember where I was. This is one I’m already passing on to friends and talking up because I want to share it with everyone. Sam and Grace are both strong characters who are also flawed. They have numerous obstacles to overcome and life isn’t sunshine and roses for either of them. The chapters are told in alternating viewpoints, so you really get inside both Sam and Grace and learn who they really are. I thought this would be confusing, but after I read a few chapters I got used to it and it was easy to follow who was telling the story. If any book is going to dethrone Twilight’s reign and have adult appeal as well as teens, I think Shiver could do it. A beautifully told story that is a must-read for paranormal fans-add this one to the top of your reading pile! Anxiously awaiting the next in the series!
Prophecy of the Sisters (Book #1), by Michelle Zink AMAZON RATES THIS BOOK…… (36)
Are you sensing a theme for these selections?! Here is another twin/fantasy series. I met Michelle Zink originally via Twitter and eventually spoke with her at the Young Adult Conference in Naperville last month. This book was featured in Booklist Magazine as one of the Top 10 Best Fiction by a new author! I totally enjoyed this book! I thought the characters were well developed. The storyline kept me wanting to read more. I’m a gothic reader at heart and this contained many elements of it. Lia has lost her mother and now her father. Her twin sister Alice acts aloof and detached and her younger brother is disabled in a wheelchair and is a quiet boy. Lia has James, the son of one of her father’s friends as her faithful companion and friend. Events start to go askew when Lia discovers a strange marking on her wrist one morning. A marking she realizes that she does not share with Alice. Lia eventually discovers she shares this marking with others. She uncovers a small book hidden away, describing a prophecy – one that involves both her and Alice – but the problem is – they have different ideas on how they want the prophecy to end. Alice and Lia become enemies and Lia must find a way to fulfill her segment of the prophecy without injuring either Alice or herself.