library bulletin

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches
By Deborah Harkness

Pub. Date: February 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group
Format: Hardcover, 579pp

Average Rating 4 Stars

A Discovery of Witches, the first in the All Souls Trilogy, is a magical adventure, a cross between Harry Potter, Twilight and Practical Magic.
In the beginning there were myths and legends brought about by a smidgen of truth and in that truth we find Historian Diana Bishop at Oxford doing research for an upcoming lecture where she comes across a strange medieval manuscript that's locked not by a physical key but by a magical one, one that will require her to open the door to a painful past that she has stubbornly refused to acknowledge. In the shadows watching is the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont a renowned professor of genetics. Diana and Matthew soon discover that their fierce attraction to each other is not only strange but forbidden as well and they will have challenges to face the least of which is their supposed predisposed mistrust of each other's species. He is a vampire and she is a witch.
Deborah Harkness brings us an amazing story filled with fact and fiction, legend and myth and gives us a fantastical twist to the age old question of where do we come from. She brings her story to us using a plot that is both fantastic and easily believed by adopting historical references and facts and mixing them with occultist beliefs and horror stories. She will mesmerize you with her dialogue so much so that the almost 600 pages will fly by in the blink of a witch’s eye. She takes us to magical and real places with effortless and picturesque descriptive narrative as we live vicariously the lives of her characters through our eyes by her words. She also gives us characters none of which we've ever experienced before by making them unbelievable and real at the same time and by giving them the substance they need to make them unforgettable. The characters will each tell you their own story interspersed into the novel so that they all become an important part of the whole. Our hero Matthew and heroine Diana are two of the most unlikely lovers ever to grace the pages of a book and they will quickly become part of your must read again and again tales. Her romance is innocent and reminiscent of times long ago while also being sensual (however, there is nothing at all offensive) as to appeal to anyone. But this is much more than just a romance it's an epic tale that will alter your ideas of good vs. evil, it's a mystery of historic proportion and is filled with the fantasy we love.

I thought this book was so much fun and perfect for this time of year. The story begins on September 21st and ends on Halloween Night. (At least until Book 2)!

I loved the time they spend in Upstate New York. Her aunts are delightful and this part of the story reminded me so much of Practical Magic. I could envision that awesome old house with all its personality and ghosts. I loved how the house knew they would be having guests before anyone else and the secrets that it held and saved for just the right time. I also loved how these “natural enemies” turned to Scrabble and old movies to pass the time and to ultimately “get along”.

Diana is spellbound and reluctant and Matthew is fiercely protective and valiant. Together they try to unravel the secrets wrapped up in the manuscript and fight to be together.
I loved it and I can’t wait for “Shadow of Night”. It comes out this summer.

I give it 4 stars.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Last Werewolf

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Hard Cover: 304 pages
Published: 2011
Amazon Customer Reviews: 4 stars****

“A brilliantly original thriller, a love story, a witty treatise on male (and female) urges, even an existential musing on what it is to be human. Get one for yourself and one for the Twilight fan in your life.”—James Medd, The Word (UK)

“Space should be cleared for this violent, sexy thriller . . . The answer to Twilight that adults have been waiting for.”—Courtney Jones, Booklist

“Yes, there are vampires here . . . But don’t give this book to Twilight groupies; the frank tone, dark wit, and elegant, sophisticated language will likely do them in. . . . smart, original, and completely absorbing. Highly recommended.”—­Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (Starred review)

“The best books are blurb defying; they're far too potent for a flimsy net of adjectives ever to capture them. I could say that The Last Werewolf is smart, thrilling, funny, moving, beautifully written, and a joy to read, and this would all be true. But it would also be a woeful understatement of what Glen Duncan has accomplished with his extraordinary novel. The only useful thing I can offer you is a simple admonishment. Stop reading my words, and start reading his. Trust me: you’ll be happy you did.”—Scott Smith, author of The Ruins

“A magnificent novel. A brutal, indignant, lunatic howl. A sexy, blood-spattered page-turner, beautifully crafted and full of genuine suspense, that tears the thorax out of the horror genre to create something that stands rapturous and majestic and entirely on its own.”—Nick Cave

These were some of the reviews from Amazon. Personally, I am not sure if I can recommend this book or not. I loved it! But it is harsh and horrible and beautiful and brilliant. It’s written as a journal and seems so personal that you almost feel like you are not supposed to read it. But you can’t seem to stop. It is so heartbreaking that you can’t help but cheer for this ruthless killer. He wants to die. He is so tired and disgusted with himself but there are certain groups who want him alive and he doesn’t know why. It is very interesting to watch him “run for my life so I can die in peace”. Not like anything I have ever read before.
It is written by an English writer and his use of words is so different and appealing. I was mesmerized with this book. The writing is beautiful and heartfelt and this tragic character is amazingly loveable. There is also aching love story mixed within that is unexpected.

There is some rough language and definite crudeness but the story is deep and thoughtful.
I gave it 3 stars as a recommendation with the forewarning of some rough stuff but on a personal note I loved it and give it 4.5 stars. It has that “Dr. Zhivago” type of heartache and suffering and beauty. Not for everyone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Help

Hardcover: 464 pages
Published: 2009
4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon (2,551 customer reviews)
Our Book Club Rated it: 5 stars *****

I think there was a lot of anticipation for me to read this book because everyone was buzzing about it and the movie was coming out at the end of August. I couldn’t stop thinking about the women and the era in this book. After reading and talking to Dallys about the Audio version, I definitely want to listen to it to hear the different characters and accents. These were the things I loved most about the book.

1. The Mothers-I thought Hilly’s mother was hilarious and obviously not nearly as prejudiced as Hilly herself and I loved how Skeeter’s mother evolved and became someone ashamed of herself for being cruel in the past and came to Skeeter’s defense. I think she was secretly really envious of Skeeter’s independence and courage. 2. Character Development – I felt like I knew all of them.3. I loved how I felt like I was right there with them. I think that says a lot about the Author. Bringing the reader into the equation is so tricky sometimes and doesn’t always work. She did a brilliant job.A quote from Bethany at another book club, about Kathryn's writing, "...her writing is like life, because you never know the whole story at once. You get tid bits at a time."This book was almost hard to read at times. It made me feel guilty for not understanding more what the black people of that era went through. Especially the women. I am not sure that I am tough enough to have survived that. What a brilliant first novel for an author that was turned down 40 times before someone agreed to publish her book. I can't wait to read more from her. I am thinking that there are a lot of publishing companies out there who are kicking themselves for not taking this book.

Love yall,

P.S. I loved the movie also. When little Mae Mobley said at he end “I is good, I is kind, I is important” my heart broke just a little.

Such a powerful little book. I give it 5 stars.