Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Upcoming Popular Fiction Book Discussions

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
(This title will be discussed at the Bridgewater Library on Tuesday, June 22nd. There will be a slide presentation showing the locations discussed in the book as well so you can see where the characters went for clues.)

Want fast-paced edge-of-your-seat action, with recognizable locations and history lessons thrown in? Then join Robert Langdon, the renowned symbologist as he embarks on another quest to solve a mystery hidden in plain sight in The Lost Symbol. Journey with Langdon around Washington D.C. as he discovers clues to locating the secret portal leading to the lost treasure of the Freemasons.

This is breakneck race against time that will feel far fewer than its 500 pages. Yes, the villain is over-the-top and local and Freemason lore is twisted just a little bit to fit the plot, but that’s what we like. There is enough reality here to make the story seem true, and that helps suspend our disbelief and allows us to enjoy the ride that much more.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
(This title will be discussed at the Borders Store of Bridgewater on Tuesday, July 20th at 7pm)

Want a story that makes you think? I finished this book a few days ago and I’m still contemplating what the author wanted me to take away. There are so many ways to interpret her meaning that you’ll be thinking about it for days after closing the covers. Questions of the value of fate, luck and truth-telling during a time of war are all questioned in the story.

This story focuses on the lives of three women during 1940 and 1941. Frankie Bard is a radio reporter covering the blitz in London, and later, the conditions she witnesses while journeying through Europe by rail. Emma Trask, the doctor’s new bride, has recently settled with her husband in the small shore town of Franklin, Massachusetts. After a tragedy he leaves to help aid the wounded in London. The postmistress of Franklin, Iris James, is the third central character of this tale. She is a middle aged single woman who believes in rules and order. The lives of all three of these women become woven together by one letter.

This is a story about characters and the choices they make, and how those choices affect themselves and the lives of others. It is a well-crafted tale; the reader really gets the foreboding feeling of World War II, and the upcoming American involvement, waiting just off-shore.

Characters to Love, Like (Sort of…), and Not Quite Like…

The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens

Mary Gooch’s husband leaves her on the eve of their Silver Wedding Anniversary. But rather than this event being an ending, it is the day that her life finally starts.

Mary has never gone anywhere: never been on a plane, never left her native Canada, and never had an adventure. When her beloved husband suddenly leaves her, she decides to be brave and leave her hometown and track him down. She does have some challenges facing her before she starts her journey. Mary is morbidly obese. She has no wardrobe and no energy. Yet she meets helpful strangers along the way that guide her, advise her and connect with her in ways that she never thought imaginable.

You can identify with Mary’s hunger. You don’t pity her, you understand her, and you cheer as she starts living her life, perhaps for the first time. This is a story of a woman learning to love and accept herself just the way she is.

Horns by Joe Hill

Need a little horrific fiction to leave you with a pleasantly uneasy feeling? This one may be for you. What would it be like to wake up one morning with horns growing out of your head? Horns that make everyone who saw them suddenly tell you their darkest desires? And forget touching people. Once you touch someone all their inner thoughts become your own. That’s exactly what happens to Ig Parrish. Everyone in town thinks he brutally murdered his long time girlfriend, now he’s out to find the killer and exact revenge.

Just like his father (his famous dad is horror king Stephen King) Joe Hill is a master at horror pacing. The current timeline of the story flies by as Ig learns more and more (and much he doesn’t want to know) from the people he’s known all his life, and the parts that leisurely tell the story of Ig’s childhood and teen years seem to mosey along. There are dark parts, and sweet parts. His writing keep you feeling unbalanced, exactly what you want in a horror book.

Ig is the anti-hero out for justice that you root for even though deep down you know that liking him isn’t quite right…

Solar by Ian McEwan

I finished this book a week ago and I can’t quite describe why I enjoyed it. If I was to describe the womanizing, lying, cheating, egocentric man the book revolves around you wouldn’t want to read it. But he’s an engaging character. You know what makes him tick and why he does what he does, and in a strange way you’re okay with the horrible things he does. In his worldview his decisions make sense. He’s a well-developed character that you grow to like despite himself…

McEwan’s writing is wonderful as usual. He’s descriptive without being too wordy. It’s worth the read just for the descriptions of an ill prepared man attempting to snowmobile across the Nordic tundra. Trust me; you’ll have tears of laughter and pain at his ordeal.

I guess I should mention the plot. It’s semi-twisty and I don’t want to give anything away… In a nutshell, a former Nobel Laureate, who hasn’t had a novel idea in decades and has been milking his award for the past umpteen years, is given a position with a center tackling the global warming issue. At a suggestion mentioned by our scientist in passing gads of money is spent developing wind turbines to dot all over London to harvest wind energy. He instead, through odd circumstances, pursues solar power.