Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Library Loot 11-04-2009

I have been spending way too much time at the library recently - the problem is that I have actually been combing back over all my Friday Finds and Waiting on Wednesdays and reserving them!

Library Loot is hosted by Eva at A Striped Armchair and Marg at Reading Adventures.

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

From award-winning writer David Mitchell comes a sinewy, meditative novel of boyhood on the cusp of adulthood and the old on the cusp of new.

Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissingeresque realpolitik enacted in boys' games on a frozen lake; of "nightcreeping" through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigre who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason's search to replace his dead grandfather's irreplaceable watch before his parents discover he has smashed it; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher's recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons.

Pointed, funny, profound, left-field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell's subtlest and most effective achievement to date. (book jacket)

The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

Practical-minded Realtor Melanie Middleton hates to admit - even to herself - that she can see ghosts. But she's going to have to accept it, because an old man she met just days ago has died, leaving Melanie his historic Tradd Street home, complete with a housekeeper, a dog, and a family of ghosts anxious to tell her something.

Enter Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries. He has reason to believe that some diamonds that went missing from the Confederate treasury a century ago are hidden in Melanie's home. So he decides to charm the new tenant, only to discover that suddenly he is the smitten one.

But it turns out that Jack's search has caught the attention of a possibly malevolent ghostly presence. Now Jack and Melanie need to unravel a mystery of passion, heartbreak, and even murder. And they must hurry. . . for an eveil force - either dead or alive - lies in wait. (Back Cover)

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro

One of the most celebrated writers of our time gives us his first cycle of short fiction: five brilliantly etched, interconnected stories in which music is a vivid and essential character.

A once-popular singer, desperate to make a comeback, turning from the one certainty in his life. . .A man whose unerring taste in music is the only thing his closest friends value in him. . .A struggling singer-songwriter unwittingly involved in the failing marriage of a couple he's only just met. . .A gifted, underappreciated jazz musician who lets himself believe that plastic surgery will help his career. . .A young cellist whose tutor promises to "unwrap" his talent. . .

Passion or necessity - or the often uneasy combination of the two - determines the place of music in each of these lives. And, in one way or another, music delivers each of them to a moment of reckoning: sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes just eluding their grasp.

An exploration of love, need, and the ineluctable force of the past, Nocturnes reveals these individuals to us with extraordinary precision and subtlety, and with arresting psychological and emotional detail that has marked all of Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed works of fiction. (book jacket)

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a prodigiously gifted musician. She's about to find out she's also a cloverhand - one who can see faeries.

Unexpectedly, Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass - a soulless faerie assassin - and his interest in her might be something darker than summer romance. A sinister faerie named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. They both carry the same assignment from the Faerie Queen, one that forces Dee right into the midst of Faerie. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend.

Deirdre had been wishing her summer weren't so dull, but taking on a centuries-old Faerie Queen isn't exactly what she had in mind. (book cover)

A Great and Terrible Beauty (audio) by Libba Bray (read by Jo Wyatt)

Gemma Doyle isn't like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, who dance with grace, and who will lie back and think of England when it's required of them.

No, sixteen-year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to the Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds her reception a chilly one. She's not completely alone, though. . .she's been followed by a mysterious young man, sent to warn her to close her mind against the visions.

For it's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy, timeless group called the Order. It's there that her destiny waits. . .if only Gemma can believe in it.

A Great and Terrible Beauty is a curl-up-under-the-covers kind of book. . .a vast canvas of rustling skirts and dancing shadows and things that go bump in the night. It's a vividly drawn portrait of the Victorian age, a time of strict morality and barely repressed sensuality, when girls were groomed for lives as rich men's wives. . .and the story of a girl who saw another way. (back cover)

Woman in Red (audio) by Eileen Goudge (read by Susan Ericksen)

Alice Kessler spent nine years in prison for the attempted murder of the drunk driver who killed her son. Now she's returned home to Gray's Island to reconnect with the son she left behind. Her boy, Jeremy, now a sullen teenager, is wrongly accused of rape, and mother and son are thrown together in a desperate attempt to prove his innocence.

Alice is aided by Colin McGinty, a recovering alcoholic and 9/11 widower, also recently returned to the island in the aftermath of his grandfather's death. Colin's grandfather, a famous artist, is best known for his haunting portrait Woman in Red, which happens to be of Alice's grandmother. IN a tale that weaves the past with the present, we come to know the story behind the portrait, of the forbidden wartime romance between William McGinty and Eleanor Styles, and the deadly secret that bound them more tightly than even their love for each other. A secret that, more than half a century later, is about to be unburied, as Alice and Colin are drawn into a fragile romance of their own and the ghost of an enemy from long ago surfaces in the form of his grandson, the very man responsible for sending Alice to prison. (back cover)

Library Loot is hosted by Eva at A Striped Armchair.


bermudaonion said...

Great loot! I'm really interested in reading a Karen White book.

RealLifeReading said...

Ooh Nocturnes! I've been wanting to get my hands on that. Happy reading.

avisannschild said...

I also want to read the Karen White book!

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I really enjoyed A Great and Terrible Beauty. That will be fun to listen to :)

Anonymous said...

We read Black Swan Green for one of my book clubs. I liked it, but didn't love it. You've got a bunch of interesting books there, some that I hadn't heard of before. Enjoy your reading.

Anonymous said...

Great selections. Nocturnes is lovely, and I have Black Swan Green on the shelf waiting for me. Enjoy!

Marg said...

Lots of good loot here!

I have seen the Karen White book mentioned a few times around blogland in the last few days.

I really enjoyed A Great and Terrible Beauty when I read it a while ago. I recently finished the trilogy and was sad to see it end.

I borrowed my first Maggie Stiefvater in the last couple of weeks ago. Without checking I think it was Lament.

Enjoy your loot!


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