Set in Southwestern France in June 1944 during the German occupation, Lacombe Lucien is a tense work digging into the pathos of the era. The French citizens go about their lives quietly trying not to bring any attention to themselves. No one seems to know where his or her neighbor’s and, sometimes, even family loyalties lie. Lacombe Lucien is the 1974 screenplay collaboration between renown French movie producer Louis Malle and Patrick Modiano, recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. Translated into English by Sabine Destree, the screenplay is beautifully written and easily read.
I am familiar with The New Yorker, and I am familiar with E.B. White and James Thurber and a few of the other writers who were the publication’s founding voices. But I am not familiar with how the two created and influenced each other. Or at least I wasn’t until I read Cast of Characters by Thomas Vinciguerra. Originally intended as a biography of Wolcott Gibbs, the book developed into a retelling of the formative years of The New Yorker, highlighting its founders, their lives, and their iconic work. I could tell that the main focus was to be Gibbs, as the book began and ended with anecdotes about him, and his son Tony was Vinciguerra’s primary source. But I believe the book struck a good balance between Gibbs and his counterparts.
Books by Ms. Raybourn are so marvelously complex that the temptation for a reviewer is to write a long review in order to do justice to the story. This is especially difficult if the reviewer is already prone to overlong reviews. Mea culpa.
In London of 1887, eccentricity meets rigid society rules and they have a great adventure. We’re fortunate to be allowed to accompany them! This is the second adventure of Veronica Speedwell, an emancipated woman if ever there was one – prone to dashing off to exotic places in pursuit of her trade – she’s a certified lepidopterist. For this story, however, she is back in London, sharing a cottage with a fellow scientist, Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, whom she calls Stoker. There is an attraction between them, but allowing It to grow would only complicate things, so it stays very low key.
Jade Chang’s novel, Wangs vs. the World is highly entertaining. It is a portrait of a family complete with all of their similarities and their differences. She shows them as they come together and also when they fall apart. The novel is a very quick read. Chang’s prose is energetic and flows flawlessly. She peppers in thoughts about immigration and politics but it is not heavy-handed and fits within the confines of the novel well. The thoughts propel the story to its conclusion.
Charles Wang has lost everything. He once had everything–fancy cars, a lucrative business, many factories, enough money to be comfortable and then some. He has three children, Grace, Andrew and Saina. He’s married to his second wife, Barbra. His first wife was killed in an accident six months after his youngest daughter, Grace, was born.
It’s been more than ten years since I was in high school, but I do have a younger brother who’s still there…and I really am thankful that he doesn’t have the attitude of any of the characters in this book. Honestly, not a single character in The Most Dangerous Place on Earth was likable. I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended, but that’s how I felt.
The novel tells the somewhat disjointed story of a group of kids who have grown up and gone to school together since their elementary years. In eighth grade, something tragically avoidable (and very maddening to read about) happened to one of their classmates, and though you’d think it would affect all of the kids’ lives pretty deeply, it doesn’t.
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About the book
When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian–the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.
After life throws a curve ball at Nina’s professional career, she finds herself carving out a new path. On an impulse, Nina purchases an old van and transforms it into a mobile bookshop. Nina sets out with a new career in a small Scottish town, making connections with people through book recommendations and exploring new romantic relationships in Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner.
Nina was a character I could easily identify with; I’ve held jobs at two different bookstores, a library, and now I freelance edit for independent authors. Stocking a small van with books that I’m passionate about and sharing them with eager readers seems like it would be rather enjoyable.
I wanted to like Confessions of a Wedding Musician Mom. Really, I did. I love classical music and it has been a major part of my long life. I knew I was in trouble, however, on page 15 as the female protagonist opened her ‘yellow Schemer edition of Chopin’s preludes’. Every piano or other music student would immediately recognize a Schirmer’s Library edition, with the black scroll work on its yellow cover.
Against my better judgement, I persisted in continuing to read. I actually made it to page 63 of 189, before abandoning the project. What an abysmal mess! Eegads.
Eden Moore is on track to become the valedictorian of her high school class, despite the fact that she’s grown up in a trailer park with her often out-of-work father and stepmother. Since her birth mother left her when she was just a child, Eden’s only ever had one goal: to leave her small town and life there behind.
Her classmate Ash Gupta has never quite understood how Eden, with her sharp and sarcastic nature, could possibly become valedictorian. But when the two of them are thrown together to complete a class assignment, they begin to get to know each other for the first time, and Ash recognizes her intelligence and depth.