Favorite Quotes

"A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight. "


— Robertson Davies

Reader's Link - April 2014 Staff Picks Archive


Delightful

Bandette: in Presto!

Title: Bandette: in Presto!
By: Paul Tobin

If Catwoman and Batman had a daughter together, and that daughter was French, it's very possible you would get Bandette. A master class thief, yet interested in bringing justice to the "bad" criminals in Paris, Bandette is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Why does she do what she does? No one can say, not even the Urchins, Bandette's merry band of followers who lend a hand in her escapades. From quick thieving jobs, to fighting organized crime, to rivalry with another master thief -- if I had only one word to describe this first collected volume of Bandette's full-color adventures, it would be...delightful.

View similarly tagged posts: teen fiction,graphic novel
Posted by berlinskit on April 26, 2014 at 10:17 a.m.
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Walking on eggshells

The Hired Man

Title: The Hired Man
By: Aminatta Forna

"Everything you need to know about Gost is here in the cemetery."

Unexplained tensions build very slowly and skillfully in this book set in the fictional town of Gost, Croatia, nearly two decades after the Yugoslav civil war of the early 1990s. Laura, an English woman oblivious to the undercurrents of resentment and disapproval in the community, has bought a house to fix up. Duro, the local hired man who offers his talent for repairs, takes advantage of the opportunity for steady work and the pleasure of building normal relationships with Laura and her family. They appreciate his skills, work ethic, and assistance with getting things done in a language and culture not their own. But his role in Gost is not as simple as it seems.

This book is so carefully crafted it would be a travesty to reveal more of the story. Its muted tone lends a sense of emotional distancing and of walking on eggshells.

"The way the English saw it, the past was always better. But in this country our love of the past is a great deal less, unless it is a very distant past indeed, the kind nobody alive can
remember, a past transformed into a song or a poem. We tolerate the present, but what we love is the future, which is about as far away from the past as it is possible to be."

View similarly tagged posts: fiction
Posted by April on April 24, 2014 at 10:57 a.m.
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Collateral damage

The Memory of Love (audiobook)

Title: The Memory of Love (audiobook)
By: Aminatta Forna

This is a gripping novel concerned with the residual damage to society and individuals following the 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone. Three love stories are interwoven throughout the book, and these narratives become the device through which we learn much else about what has happened. Aminatta Forna’s characters are developed with lovely care; they have all too human defects as well as beautiful traits. Interestingly, Forna writes from the point of view of the men, rather than the women in this novel. But the women are the key focus.

The author’s insight into the fundamental inability of foreign aid workers to grasp what is really going on within the society they are visiting adds further depth. The tone is ironic at times; compelling, sorrowful, and tragic. The characters struggle with issues of commitment, personal integrity, and post traumatic stress.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does a great job with the voices of African and British characters. He’s not as perfectly convincing with some of the European accents but the emotional tone is always authentic even when the accent isn’t. His voices are markedly different from one character to the next, demonstrating an astonishing range of timbre and intonation. His is a voice I will listen to again with pleasure.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction,audiobook
Posted by April on April 24, 2014 at 10:34 a.m.
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Pure ecstasy

Verdi

Title: Verdi
By: Renato Castellani

If you already know everything about Verdi and his operas, check out Berlin Concert* instead. If not, you'll certainly enjoy this 4 disc set dramatizing the life and musical evolution of probably the world's most beloved opera composer. I already knew I loved the great Rigoletto, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, but what I didn't realize was the beauty of his lesser known works. I found myself checking out the library's many holdings: Simon Boccanegra, Luisa Miller, Nabucco, Un Ballo en Mascara; ones I had heard of but didn't know anything about. The choruses and, in particular, the male arias, were glorious. I was thrilled for 2 weeks, immersed in il maestro.

Yes, the dramatization is a bit corny and the dialogue stilted, but it puts Verdi in his historical framework and traces the germination and fruition of the music. You meet his librettists, his family life, his conductors, his friends and benefactors, as well as the Italian populace who adored him, making Giuseppe wealthy and successful in his lifetime.

*Berlin Concert is a wonderful filming of a live Placido Domingo et al. concert in Berlin's cavernous Waldbühne stadium. Placido aside (as if you could put him aside), the real star is Ronaldo Villazón, a young Mexican tenor, now a French citizen. His voice is stupendous, his face wonderfully expressive, and he brings the house down. This is an hour of pure ecstasy for the opera aficcionado.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction,video
Posted by libwolf on April 17, 2014 at 10:44 a.m.
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Disharmony

Letters from camp

Title: Letters from camp
By: Kate Klise

When three sets of brothers and sisters set foot at Camp Happy Harmony in Missouri, little do they realize that there’s more going on there than meets the eye. The camp is run by six siblings who, at one point, were a famous singing group— The Harmony Family Singers. At first, Charlotte, Charlie, Mimi, Ivan, Barbie Q, and Brisket are too busy fighting to notice that the Harmony siblings also are fighting with each other. Soon, though, the kids begin to realize something is terribly wrong at Camp Happy Harmony. There are strange chores, potentially poisonous food, cringe-worthy songs, incredibly bad fashion choices, and the murder plot of the camp postmaster. Can the kids stop fighting long enough to find out what’s really happening?

Told through letters, postcards, pictures and transcripts, Letters from Camp is a story about how important—or not important—your family can turn out to be. Welcome to Camp Happy Harmony !

View similarly tagged posts: fiction,kids fiction
Posted by pughc on April 3, 2014 at 9:37 a.m.
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