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Showing posts from May, 2015

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen (♦♦♦½)

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Maddie Hyde is married to Ellis, though her husband's best friend's presence in their marriage is so constant that it seems it has always been the three of them. Both Hank and Ellis have been turned down from war service for having medical issues.
In January of 1945, Ellis, Hank and Maddie travel to Scotland, ignoring the horror of the ongoing war, to pursue Ellis and his father's dream: to successfully film the elusive Loch Ness monster, basking in the fame and the glory of it all.
War will forever change Maddie making her more aware of the challenges surrounding the members of the small village at the water's edge, but will Hank and Ellis succumb under their pettiness and their twisted sense of reality?
At the Water's Edge doesn't have the humor and understated appeal of Water for Elephants, and it isn't the successful hodgepodge of Ape House but it does have its redeeming qualities.
Despite being a literary page-turner in which not much appears to be happeni…

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (♦♦♦)

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Originally published in German, Translation by Simon Pare
Jean Perdu, owner of the renowned Literary Apothecary on the margins of the Seine, sets sail aboard his cargo book barge searching for the remainder of the life the woman he loved twenty one years ago has left behind. Accompanying him is Max Jordan, France's most famous author under 30, who is suffering with writer's block and under his newfound fame. Soon other characters join the pilgrimage along France's waterways.
Paris and books, need I say more? Yes, indeed I do. I thought The Little Paris Bookshop would be reminiscent of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, which I loved; instead, I was somewhat disappointed. The Little Paris Bookshop is an uneven book. I liked the story of Mr. Perdu; how he dealt with his grief, and the trip he embarked on to find himself again. I also liked the language: rich and smooth like velvet, the descriptions of French towns and life in the southern coast, and food recipes.
I didn'…

The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer (♦♦♦♦)

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In The Inner Circle, Tot invited fellow archivist Beecher White to join the Culper Ring--a secret group first assembled by George Washington during the Revolutionary War to protect his secrets and win the war--after Beecher stumbled upon a presidential secret. In The Fifth Assassin, the sequel, apparently (I haven’t read it yet) Tot was shot in the head and Beecher assumed his position as the head of what remained of the Culper Ring. In The President’s Shadow, this third installment in the Culper Ring series, Beecher “sneaks” into the White House only to discover they were waiting for him all along.
The First Lady Shona Wallace unburies, while gardening, a severed arm that had been buried in the Rose Garden by a White House intruder. The president’s inner circle suspects it was done with inside help. In its closed fist, the severed arm is holding a penny with an inscription that ties it to Beecher’s personal history, or rather, that of his father’s service in the armed forces. Beecher …

The Jazz Palace by Mary Morris (♦♦♦♦)

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Tragedy seems to follow Benny Lehrman since he was a young boy. Now at fifteen, he faces tragedy again on Chicago’s wharf as the SS Eastman has sunk before his very eyes taking with it three siblings of the Chimbrova family who is bidding farewell to the boys who were riding the boat. In this way the destinies of Benny and Pearl intersect, though they won’t meet again until several years later with Benny as a freelancing Jazz musician and Pearl as one of the owners of Chimbrova’s saloon, which has been dubbed The Jazz Palace.
The reader goes on a ride, spanning fifteen years, which starts with a public tragedy on Chicago's shore, follows with the apogee of the Jazz movement, and finally the Great Depression and how it impacted the city and its people. The Jazz Palace is an ode to Chicago, to its blue collar heritage, to the glamour and decadence of the Jazz Age and Prohibition era, to the music that defined the early part of the 20th century which had its roots in New Orleans, and …