Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Author Isabel Suppe @ the Luck Library/Museum!

Join us on Thursday, October 24 to listen to author Isabel Suppe discuss her new book and the true event that inspired it.
Isabel survived an 1100-foot fall off Ala Izquierda in a dramatic climbing accident. Severely injured, stalked by hypothermia, hallucinations, and despair, she nonetheless clung to life and spent two interminable days and nights in the Bolivian Andes dragging herself over the ice to seek help.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Harry Potter and the Philosopher/Sorcerers Stone By J. K. Rowling


When I was little, I was introduced to Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, or the Philosophers Stone. Ever since I was eight, I've loved Harry, Hermione and Ron. Every time I moved schools, I would worry about making new friends, but then I would realize that I already had some. They've stuck by my side since the beginning. 

Any ways. The Harry Potter series, to me, are about finding light in even the darkest of times, finding friends when you thought you had none, and conquering the largest fear there is. Fear. 

I remember getting so sucked into these books, that I would feel like I was experiencing the Quiddich Matches, The Detentions, conquering the Troll, learning about Harry speaking Parsletongue. The list goes on and on. 

Anyways, on with the description!

Harry was an orphan since he was one, and had gone to live with his Muggle Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. He lived under the stairs in a closet, with no idea who he was. He was convinced that his parents had died in a terrible car crash, and that was how he had received his famous lightning bolt scar. 

Nearing his eleventh birthday, July 31st, he kept reviving letters, but his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon knew what these letters where and would burn every one of them. Then it came to the point where they had to move from place to place, until finally they were in the middle of a lake. Then his fist year at the Hogwarts  adventure started. 

When sorting comes, the first years are nerve wracked. Draco Malfoy, whose family is very stuck up, thinks that he can bring himself some school fame by befriending the 'Famous Harry Potter'. Harry, being very smart, declines, and two enemies are formed.

J K Rowling started a new generation, and a whole world. She activated many imaginations, including mine, and for all of those things, I am so grateful to the wonderful author. 

'We are the Potter generation" ~Daniel Radcliffe 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fiction: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

This book cracked me up, which was possibly not the author's intention. As a resident of rural Wisconsin reading a book set in that same state in the early 1900s,  I found the author's use of a snowy frozen winter to illustrate madness and despair to be highly, well, entertaining.
I was so intrigued by this Virginia native author's descriptions of WI winter craziness that I read the epilogue (which I normally do not) and discovered that Mr. Goolrick had been greatly influenced by Wisconsin death trip by Michael Lesy, a peculiar little piece of WI literature composed of of photographs and clippings of local insanity from late 19th century newpapers in the Black River Falls area.
A Reliable Wife was alright as a story, but for me the descriptions of insanity and madness in rural Wisconsin were it's greatest retaining value. I was glad NOT to be reading this book in the winter,  which might have made me cry instead of laugh.
For a more detailed description, below is the summary from MORE:

1907: Abandoning her worldly life, traveling to a remote Wisconsin town in the dead of winter, trusting her future to a man she had never met--such was Catherine Land's new beginning. But there was an ending in sight as well, an ending that would redeem the treachery ahead, justify the sacrifice, and allow her to start over yet again. That was her plan. For Ralph Tritt, the wealthy business man who had advertised for "a reliable wife," this was also to be a new beginning. Years of solitude, denial, and remorse would be erased, and Catherine Land, whoever she might be, would be the vessel of his desires, the keeper of his secrets, the means to recover what was lost. That was his plan.--Publisher description.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fiction: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

 Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese stayed with me for days after completion, as I savored not only the detail of a childhood spent in a rural Ethiopian village hospital but also savored Verghese's skill in revealing, through the life of Marion Stone, how all the actions of our life resonate throughout our life.  That resonance in itself is a fascinating topic for me, and Cutting for Stone addresses it with great depth as he richly details the character's lives over the course of several decades.

For more detail, consider the summary below from the MORE online library catalog:   Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born to an Indian nun and a British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mothers death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics...that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him--nearly destroying him--Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Adult Non-Fiction "Between Man & Beast" by Monte Reel

Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure That Took the Victorian World by StormBetween Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure That Took the Victorian World by Storm by Monte Reel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Between Man and Beast" is a great little book about a little known explorer named Paul Du Chaillu who, in 1856, more or less stumbled his way through Gabon, Africa into the dense interior where few whites had ever been. It was on this journey that he spied his first gorilla. A beast that the natives feared greatly and one that changed the course of his life.
The story follows Du Chaillu to Victorian England where the great debate of evolution was just getting heated up. In steps Du Chaillu and his stuffed gorillas which look disturbingly human. The debate roils, his story is called into question and despite friends such as Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Burton, Du Chaillu's integrity is called into question. Bloodied but unbowed, Du Chaillu returns to Africa less a stumbler more a explorer only to reclaim his place among the scientific community.
Woven into this story is the moral/ethical stain of Victorian attitudes toward Africa and Africans. Monte Reel, the author, does a great job of placing the story in its historical context. Never shying away from the prejudices of the era. Du Chaillu, according to his writings, was one of the rare explorers not there to exploit African but to learn from them. Yet even the noblest intentions can be deadly as on his second trip to the interior he brought with him small pox, which spread like, well, small pox. He was barred from entering certain villages as word proceeded him that there was a white man bringing death.
More time could have been spent on gorillas, the beast at the heart of the story, but I guess I can read Dian Fossey if I need to know more.

View all my reviews

Sunday, July 28, 2013

YA Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

   “… I was so tired and scared that my mind was delirious, and the more I lay there thinking about it the more I was convinced that Furnace was Hades, Gehenna, the pit where sinners are sent to rot away for all of eternity. It made perfect sense – the warden and his devil eyes, the Blacksuits with their superhuman strength, the Weezers that looked like tortured ghosts of Nazi storm troopers…”
            Alexander Gorden Smith’s Lockdown had officially been honored a place on my bedstand around a year or two ago and I remember thinking (before I read the book) that Lockdown would either live up to the awesome cover, that built a sense of fear before the book was even opened, or it would crash and burn trying to create something frightening that was obviously not.  But the greater forces prevailed and the book turned out to be what my father would call a ‘page turner’.  The main character Alex is an anti-hero who grew up living a life of petty crime which eventually grew in into burglary then ironically Alex was sent off to Furnace for a crime he didn’t commit.  This is around the time in the book when Alex encounters his foes and friends.  These boys are forced to brave the horrors of Furnace with a single united hope of freedom which they all share and strive for.  This combination of clear characters, interesting plot and a great mixture of horror, action and hope build a compelling story that I couldn’t put down. 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Adult Non-Fiction Opium Nation by Fariba Nawa

Do you want to know what is going on in Afghanistan? So does everyone. Even folks who live in Afghanistan want to know what the hell is going on. Fariba Nawa was born in Afghanistan and moved to the US when the Soviets tried to take over the country in 1979. She is now a journalist who has traveled back to new country and the remains of her memory of that country. "Opium Nation" is the rare non fiction book that is both a general history of a region and a specific history of a woman returning to land that she does not recognize and one who's men do not recognize her as nothing more than property that has not been claimed, and therefore unholy.
The general history follows the military and political but entwined with both, and life in Afghanistan, is the cultivation, production and distribution of opium. The consequences of this are to be imagined but one consequence sets it apart and that is the child bride that is given over to pay off debts due to the military and political influences on the cultivation, production and distribution of  opium.
The personal history is the real hook. Fariba has such a unique take on her homeland, having spent half of her life in the US. She doesn't condemn the way that her Afghan sisters live their lives, they have no choice, for a woman to wear pants in Kabul is ask for real trouble. Yet to wear a head scarf in the US is to elicit suspicion.
Anyone interested in a cursory history of Afghanistan or an engaging biography of going home would be well served to read "Opium Nation" by Fariba Nawa. Khaled Hosseini named it one of his must read books on Afghanistan. And who am I to argue?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jane By April Lindner

Jane is a beautiful story, and a sort of 'Fanfiction' to Jane Eyre. Except for in Jane instead of Mr.Rochester, it is Nico Rathburn, a rock star from Connecticut. The story lines are almost the same, but, for a twelve year old, Jane is easier to understand.

Jane may sound like it is a "girl" book. You are completely incorrect if you are assuming it. Yes, it is a little sappy, but it is filled to the brim with interesting plot twists, and, as an aspiring author myself, I was instantly sucked in. April Lindner tells an amazing rendition to a classical story, bringing the story up to the modern age, and bringing it with heartbreak, love, and laughter. Not to mention a cute little girl! 

I recommend Jane to anyone who loves everything from romance, to adventure. I immensely enjoyed it, though I do not recommend it to littler children, there is one inappropriate scene, and there is some foul language...  

That's all for now!
Rhiannon Zwieg

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order:
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Borderliners by Peter Hoeg
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Nine Stories by jd salinger
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Middlemarch by George Eliot
A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is beautiful, both as art and as story.   The combined use of pencil drawings and text to weave one story from two separate lives captivated me.  There are not many books that I read in one sitting, and this was one.  It felt as though I blinked and it was over.  Although this is billed as juvenile literature (ages 9-12),  I recommend it to adults.  Brian Selznick has his own amazing style and it is like nothing else currently out there.