Friday, May 28, 2010
bookfinds @ Kittling: Books
I think this is the first year in a long time that the resident Gila woodpeckers haven't tried to drill their own home into the side of ours. It's either because Denis hung large shiny wind spinners in their areas of choice, or because Mr. and Mrs. Greg Peck (as I've named the pair) don't want the citrus smorgasbord to disappear. I can sit in the family room to watch television, read, or needlepoint and look out the window to watch the adults fill their beaks with juicy pieces of orange to take to the nest to feed their young. I wonder how much longer it's going to be before we see the youngsters feeding themselves?
Anyway, I looked through one edition of Paperback Swap's Daily Wish List email and found all sorts of books to add to my own wish list. If you'd like more detailed information about any of the titles, click on the book cover. Let's take a look at the books that were added to my wish list this week:
The Cape Ann by Faith Sullivan
"The Cape Ann is the name on the plans of the house that Lark Ann Ehrhart and her mother plan to build some day. It is the place to which six-year-old Lark escapes in daydreams when her parents begin to argue, the home that her mother dreams of far from the rooms in the train depot where they live and Lark's father works. Ultimately it symbolizes escape from Harvester, Minn., and independence from the husband and father whose gambling repeatedly sabotages their dream. Lark narrates the adult events of Harvester's Catholic culture without always understanding them. Her point of view adds depth to the story, though occasionally it is more adult than a six year old's would be. Characters are fully colored; historical references firmly set the story in the Depression and beyond."
American Road: The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Dawn of the Motor Age by Pete Davies
"In 1919, a military convoy of 81 vehicles set out to travel the Lincoln Highway--a line drawn on the map--from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. Essentially a PR ploy to dramatize the need for good roads, the "First Transcontinental Motor Train" delivered. Trucks foundered in mud, crashed through wooden bridges, and got beaten to pieces on byways barely better than trails. Modern motorists will be surprised to learn just how bad things were back then, but the story behind the undertaking is equally interesting. Automobile and tire manufacturers, who stood to gain if newly car-crazy citizens had smooth roads to travel, managed to drive the government their way; the grueling journey captured the American imagination and spurred road building to a fervor."
Brought to Book by Anthea Fraser
"When successful biographer Rona Parish is asked to write the life-story of a bestselling author, recently deceased, she is intrigued - to say the least. After all, Theo Harvey led a very colorful life, and died in mysterious circumstances. But Rona's husband Max is wary and, it soon becomes apparent, with good reason...As Rona begins to delve into Theo Harvey's life and death, and to interview his friends and family - some more willing than others - she realizes that she has taken on a poisoned chalice."
Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile
"Married, with four children, Phoebe was a frustrated 1950s housewife who began experiencing a depression that felt like she was inside a tomb. Her introduction to bird-watching by another shy, brainy housewife, seeing a warbler through binoculars, was a revelation; it was as if she'd seen a blinding white light. With the help of a local birding club, Phoebe began her life list of birds and gradually began traveling farther afield in search of new sightings. Diagnosed in her late 40s with incurable cancer and less than a year to live, she threw herself into birding, traveling worldwide, ignoring injury and danger to work on her life list for another 18 years, until killed in a bus accident in Madagascar at the age of 68. Gentile's ambivalence, celebrating Snetsinger's having lived so fully and with so much spirit but noting that she had lost the capacity to take into account her family, her health and her safety, adds a reflectiveness that Phoebe herself may have avoided in life."
Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
"Kalish's memoir of her Iowa childhood, set against the backdrop of the Depression, captures a vanished way of traditional living and a specific moment in American history in a story both illuminating and memorable. Kalish lived with her siblings, mother and grandparents-seven in all-both in a town home and, in warmer weather, out on a farm. The lifestyle was frugal in the extreme: "The only things my grandparents spent money on were tea, coffee, sugar, salt, white flour, cloth and kerosene." But in spite of the austere conditions, Kalish's memories are mostly happy ones: keeping the farm and home going, caring for animals, cooking elaborate multi-course meals and washing the large family's laundry once a week, by hand. Here, too, are stories of gossiping in the kitchen, digging a hole to China with the "Big Kids" and making head cheese at butchering time. Kalish skillfully rises above bitterness and sentiment, giving her memoir a clear-eyed narrative voice that puts to fine use a lifetime of careful observation: "Observing the abundance of life around us was just so naturally a part of our days on the farm that it became a habit." Simple, detailed and honest, this is a refreshing and informative read for anyone interested in the struggles of average Americans in the thick of the Great Depression."
Murder at the Universe by Daniel Edward Craig
"New York's Universe Hotel attracts celebrities, social climbers, tourists and controversy, and provides the ambitious Trevor Lambert, director of rooms, a reason to exist. Lambert's dedication to hotel owner Willard Godfrey and his Universal Promise: to provide an escape from the outside world leaves him devastated when he discovers Godfrey's body in the hotel garage the morning after the staff holiday party, apparently the victim of an inebriated hit-and-run driver. Making things astronomically worse, radical anti-booze crusader Brenda Rathberger is at the hotel for a Victims of Impaired Drivers conference, and sleazy TV journalist Honica Winters of Borderline News airs a critical segment about Godfrey's suspicious death. Lambert's wry turn as an accidental house detective puts Craig's erudite whodunit solidly on the map."
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
"Tracy Waterhouse leads a quiet, ordered life as a retired police detective-a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross, a habitual offender, dragging a young child through town. Both appear miserable and better off without each other-or so decides Tracy, in a snap decision that surprises herself as much as Kelly. Suddenly burdened with a small child, Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge.
Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, the beloved detective of novels such as Case Histories, is embarking on a different sort of rescue-that of an abused dog. Dog in tow, Jackson is about to learn, along with Tracy, that no good deed goes unpunished."
After a bit of paring down, that's my wish list for this week. I think I'm most excited about Started Early, Took My Dog and American Road.
What about you? Have you read any of these books? Would you recommend them? Did you put any of these same titles on your own wish lists? Do tell!