In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city's rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah's extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna's investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love.
"The Rook" is basically the story of two MyfanwyThomases. The first one we never officially meet: she exists in the letters (a suitcase full) that she writes to the second Myfanwy-- the one who wakes up with two black eyes and her memory scrubbed. The idea of having Myfawny write letters to herself is a clever device that neatly side-steppes the common predictability of a story centered around an amnesiac. Myfawny has the information she needs at hand-- If only she can read the letters fast enough
There's no questioning Hemon's skill. He's a very careful writer, and he famously chooses words that most writers wouldn't. (This is usually attributed to the fact that English isn't his native language.) He's a keen observer, and his work is filled with telling detail: the objects in a room and the way they're arranged, for instance. - There are stories within stories within stories, often involving characters we barely know, or don't know at all, except through the eyes of the characters telling the stories within stories within stories. – Million dollar grant winner compared as the new Nabokov. (NYT Notable book 2008, NYMAg. #1 boook of 2008, etc…)
For me, though, Alif the Unseen was slightly boring, hard to get through, and dragged ever-so-slightly. I thoroughly enjoyed the second half the book, but I wasn't as impressed as everyone else. While Alif the Unseen remains to be a difficult book for me to categorize, for it is full of so much within its pages, I can most definitely guarantee one thing - you haven't seen anything like it before.
- The second half of the novel, when Auntie finds out about Cameron's "un-Christian" sexual urges and sends her away to "God's Promise" (a school whose primary purpose is to de-Gay-ify teens) is when the story really begins to soar, totally getting under my skin. Ms. Danforth's (surprisingly objective) depiction of this deprogramming school is just gut-wrenching (without being too over-the-top or reducing itself to cliche). - I appreciated how honestly teenage sex and experimentation were portrayed, in a way that didn't feel tacky or sensationalized. And I appreciated the restraint with which this enormously touchy subject was handled. I found myself getting very angry as I read the book--it's hard not to when you see a child being told unequivocally that he's going to hell for what he feels--but the story is remarkably even-handed.
Each chapter is devoted to one or two of Hattie's children, and after they get that one chapter, they're mostly abandoned for the remainder of the novel. Each character has to be introduced and developed within the space of one long chapter, never to be heard from again (mostly) once their time in the spotlight has passed.In 1923, Hattie moves to Philadelphia as part of the Great Migration, when many Southern black people moved north hoping to escape abuse and poverty. The absence of Jim Crow laws allows her greater dignity and freedom from fear, but financial success eludes her. Her husband is a hard-drinking, gambling, womanizing scoundrel, but she can't resist him in the bedroom. So baby after baby after baby arrives. Hattie is so busy just trying to keep them fed and clothed and out of trouble that she doesn't think to give them the warmth and affection they crave. Each chapter shows how that life of poverty and apparent hopelessness infects each child with a certain poverty of spirit.
On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pull every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.
The Feel Good Zombie Movie of the year.- Romeo and Juliet
Iris Dupont, a budding journalist whose only confidant is the chain-smoking specter of Edward R. Murrow, feels sure she can break into the ranks of The Devil’s Advocate, the Party’s underground newspaper, and there uncover the source of its blackmail schemes and vilifying rumors. Some involve the school’s new science teacher, who also seems to be investigating the Party. Others point to an albino student who left school abruptly ten years before, never to return. And everything connects to a rare book called Marvelous Species. But the truth comes with its own dangers, and Iris is torn between her allegiances, her reporter's instinct, and her own troubled past.
One day in 2009, twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. A wristband marked her as a “flight risk,” and her medical records—chronicling a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory at all—showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. What was happening to her mind? In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her inexplicable descent into madness and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. A team of doctors would spend a month—and more than a million dollars—trying desperately to pin down a medical explanation for what had gone wrong. Meanwhile, as the days passed and her family, boyfriend, and friends helplessly stood watch by her bed, she began to move inexorably through psychosis into catatonia and, ultimately, toward death. Yet even as this period nearly tore her family apart, it offered an extraordinary testament to their faith in Susannah and their refusal to let her go. Then, at the last minute, celebrated neurologist SouhelNajjar joined her team and, with the help of a lucky, ingenious test, saved her life. He recognized the symptoms of a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain, a disease now thought to be tied to both schizophrenia and autism, and perhaps the root of “demonic possessions” throughout history. (Amazon)
Senior book talk scottie feb.
Mrs. BernetFebruary, 2013
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author ofMarch, the journey of a rare illuminatedmanuscript through centuries of exile andwarIn 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-bookexpert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysisand conservation of the famed SarajevoHaggadah, which has been rescued from Serbshelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless andbeautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewishvolumes ever to be illuminated with images.When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion forher work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in itsancient binding - an insect wing fragment, winestains, salt crystals, a white hair - she begins tounlock the books mysteries. The reader isushered into an exquisitely detailed andatmospheric past, tracing the books journey fromits salvation back to its creation.Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is atonce a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and
Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt.Grace Coddington’s extraordinarytalent and fierce dedication to herwork as creative director of Voguehave made her an internationalicon. Known through much of hercareer only to those behind thescenes, she might have remainedfashion’s best-kept secret were itnot for The September Issue, theacclaimed 2009 documentary thatturned publicity-averse Grace intoa sudden, reluctant celebrity
A richly inventive novel about acenturies-old vampire, a spellboundwitch, and the mysterious manuscriptthat draws them together.Deep in the stacks of Oxfords BodleianLibrary, young scholar Diana Bishopunwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemicalmanuscript in the course of her research.Descended from an old and distinguishedline of witches, Diana wants nothing to dowith sorcery; so after a furtive glance and afew notes, she banishes the book to thestacks. But her discovery sets a fantasticalunderworld stirring, and a horde ofdaemons, witches, and vampires soondescends upon the library. Diana hasstumbled upon a coveted treasure lost forcenturies-and she is the only creature whocan break its spell.
"The body you are wearing used to be mine."So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holdingwhen she awakes in a London park surroundedby bodies all wearing latex gloves. With norecollection of who she is, Myfanwy must followthe instructions her former self left behind todiscover her identity and track down the agentswho want to destroy her.She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization calledthe Chequy that battles the many supernaturalforces at work in Britain. She also discovers thatshe possesses a rare, potentially deadlysupernatural ability of her own.In her quest to uncover which member of theChequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwyencounters a person with four bodies, anaristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, asecret training facility where children aretransformed into deadly fighters, and aconspiracy more vast than she ever could haveimagined.Filled with characters both fascinating andfantastical, THE ROOK is a richly inventive,suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an
Anthony Spencer is an egotistical, self-made,businessman at the peak of his game until a cerebralhemorrhage leaves Tony comatose in a hospital ICU.He awakens to find himself in a surreal world, a livinglandscape that mirrors dimensions of his earthly life, fromthe beautiful to the corrupt. It is here that he has vividinteractions with others he assumes are projections of hisown subconscious, but whose directions he followsnonetheless with the possibility that they might lead toauthenticity and perhaps, redemption.The adventure draws Tony into deep relationalentanglements where he is able to see through the literaleyes and experiences of others, but is "blind" to theconsequences of hiding his personal agenda and losses.Will this unexpected coalescing of events cause Tony toexamine his life and realize he built a house of cards onthe poisoned grounds of a broken heart? Will he also havethe courage to make a critical choice that can undo amajor injustice he set in motion before falling into a coma
On March 2, 1908, nineteen-year-old LazarusAverbuch, an Eastern European Jewishimmigrant, was shot to death on the doorstepof the Chicago chief of police and cast as awould-be anarchist assassin.A century later, a young Eastern Europeanwriter in Chicago named Brik becomesobsessed with Lazaruss story. Brik enlists hisfriend Rora -- a war photographer fromSarajevo -- to join him in retracing Averbuchspath.Through a history of pogroms and poverty,and a prism of a present-day landscape ofcheap mafiosi and even cheaper prostitutes,the stories of Averbuch and Brik becomeinextricably intertwined, creating a trulyoriginal, provocative, and entertaining novelthat confirms Aleksandar Hemon as one ofthe most dynamic and essential literaryvoices of our time
“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes forone world to die, another to be born.”First, the unthinkable: a security breach at asecret U.S. government facility unleashesthe monstrous product of a chilling militaryexperiment. Then, the unspeakable: a nightof chaos and carnage gives way to sunriseon a nation, and ultimately a world, foreveraltered. All that remains for the stunnedsurvivors is the long fight ahead and afuture ruled by fear—of darkness, of death,of a fate far worse.As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primallandscape of predators and prey, twopeople flee in search of sanctuary. FBIagent Brad Wolgast is a good man hauntedby what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is arefugee from the doomed scientific projectthat has triggered apocalypse. He isdetermined to protect her from the horrorset loose by her captors. But for Amy,escaping the bloody fallout is only thebeginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards thetime and place where she must finish what
Of the widest scope – from the air over Sicilyto the heat-and-color-saturated SacramentoValley; the Bay of Biscay to the sea offMaine; the steel mills of Gary, Indiana to thebeaches of Amagansett; London in the blitz;the invasion of Normandy; and a single shellgliding across an American lake in August;from the luminous houses of the wealthy tothe pounding of the boards beneath aBroadway chorus line – this is yet, first, andforemost a love story, but also a hymn toNew York of the period when one great ageelided into the other that we call our own.Rich in language and classical allusion, it istrue to the mottoes at its outset: the Dantean―Amor mi mosse, che me fa parlare,‖ ―Lovemoved me, and made me speak,‖ and to thelines of Lucretius that describe Catherine’sextraordinary representation of thepowers, beauties, and graces of womanhood– ―Nothing comes forth into the shores oflight, or is glad or lovely without you.‖
―A young hacker-for-hire who goes by the handle Alif becomesan enemy of the state (an unspecified Middle Eastern emirate)after his computer program, designed to suss out the identityof a user solely through keystroke patterns and languagetendencies, catches the eye of the iron-clad security presenceknown as the Hand.Alif has also come into possession of the fabled Alf Yeom, abook that supposedly compiles the entire knowledge of thejinn (which, surprise, are real, and, in the case of the saucyand dangerous Vikram the Vampire, a bit too real). Both Alifand the Hand see in this book the inspiration for a quantumleap in computing sophistication, but will it be a tool forrevolution or a means to obliterate dissent?Wilson has a lot on her mind with this ambitious and layerednovel, which swirls about ideas of theology, technology,activism, class conflict, and cultural inquiry without gettingbogged down in any of them. As timely and thoughtful as it isedgy and exciting, this dervish of a novel wraps moderntendrils around ancient roots, spanning the gulf between onesand zeros, haves and have-nots, and seen and unseen
When Cameron Posts parents die suddenly in a carcrash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief theyllnever know that, hours earlier, she had been kissinga girl.But that relief doesnt last, and Cam is soon forced tomove in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashionedgrandmother. She knows that from this point on, herlife will forever be different. Survival in MilesCity, Montana, means blending in and leaving wellenough alone (as her grandmother might say), andCam becomes an expert at both.Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfectboyfriend to match. She and Cam forge anunexpected and intense friendship--one that seemsto leave room for something more to emerge. But justas that starts to seem like a realpossibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drasticaction to "fix" her niece, bringing Cam face-to-facewith the cost of denying her true self--even if shesnot exactly sure who that is.The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning andunforgettable literary debut about discovering who
In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgiaand settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at abetter life. Instead, she marries a man who will bringher nothing but disappointment and watches helplesslyas her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a fewpennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth tonine more children whom she raises with grit andmettle and not an ounce of the tenderness theycrave. She vows to prepare them for the calamitousdifficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, tomeet a world that will not love them, a world that willnot be kind. Captured here in twelve luminous narrativethreads, their lives tell the story of a mother’smonumental courage and the journey of a nation.Beautiful and devastating, Ayana Mathis’s The TwelveTribes of Hattie is wondrous from first to last—glorious,harrowing, unexpectedly uplifting, and blazing with life.An emotionally transfixing page-turner, a searingportrait of striving in the face of insurmountableadversity, an indelible encounter with the resilience ofthe human spirit and the driving force of the Americandream, Mathis’s first novel heralds the arrival of a majornew voice in contemporary fiction.
R, a zombie with no identity and no pulse, experiences ateenage boys memories while consuming the young mansbrain which leads him to initiate a relationship with the victimshuman girlfriend Julie--a decision that transforms not only Rsexistence but that of his walking dead comrades.
“Do you know what it took for Socrates’enemies to make him stop pursuing thetruth?”“Hemlock.”Storied, fiercely competitive MarianaAcademy was founded with a serioushonor code; its reputation has beenunsullied for decades. Now a long-dormant secret society, Prisoms Party,threatens its placid halls with vigilantejustice, exposing students and teachersalike for even the most minor infraction.The Year of the Gadfly is an exhilaratingjourney of double-crosses, deeply buriedsecrets, and the lifelong reverberations oflosing someone you love.
Addy Hanlon has always been BethCassidys best friend and trustedlieutenant. Beth calls the shots andAddy carries them out, a long-established order of things that hasbrought them to the pinnacle of theirhigh-school careers. Now theyreseniors who rule the intenselycompetitive cheer squad, feared andfollowed by the other girls -- until theyoung new coach arrives.Cool and commanding, an emissaryfrom the adult world just beyond theirreach, Coach Colette French drawsAddy and the other cheerleaders intoher life. Only Beth, unsettled by thenew regime, remains outside Coachsgolden circle, waging a subtle butvicious campaign to regain herposition as "top girl" -- both with theteam and with Addy herself.
A gripping memoir and medicalsuspense story about a young NewYork Post reporter’s struggle with arare and terrifying disease, opening anew window into the fascinating worldof brain science.One day, Susannah Cahalan woke upin a strange hospital room, strappedto her bed, under guard, and unableto move or speak. Her medicalrecords—from a month-long hospitalstay of which she had no memory—showed psychosis, violence, anddangerous instability. Yet, only weeksearlier she had been a healthy,ambitious twenty-four year old, sixmonths into her first seriousrelationship and a sparkling career asa cub reporter. (GoodReads)