Archive for the ‘Contemporary’ Category

BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter

After looking up various images of the 1963 movie Cleopatra, the film that critically bombed but was lit up by the scandal of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, I saw a coastline of Italy that looked exactly like the cover of this book. It is a most felicitous cover that captures the mood and time that this novel begins, in 1962. A parochial innkeeper, Pasquali Tursi, lives in a rocky coastline village called Porto Vergogna (Port of Shame), a place the size of a thumb between two mountains, and referred to as “the whore’s crack.”

March 16, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Contemporary, Facing History, italy, Literary, US Northwest, World Lit

BOY, SNOW, BIRD by Helen Oyemi

“Nobody ever warned me about mirrors so for many years I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy.” So begins the dazzingly imaginative and enigmatically-named new novel from Helen Oyeyemi.

But what happens when mirrors are not trustworthy? When Boy is really a girl? When a beautiful pale-skinned youngster actually shares the bloodline of the blackest of black individuals? When beauty is not truth and when truth is not beauty? When a mother or a grandmother is not a safe haven but something else entirely?

March 10, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is a “love story” for our current teen/young adult generation. Like any love story, it is kind of “cheesy” … but not one easy to put down. And it is smart. I liked it a whole lot better than Love Story because it is cynical/realistic and its setting is far more accessible than the Ivy league town of Cambridge, Massachusetts and a star cross relation between rich kid and poor kid.

March 9, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary

A CIRCLE OF WIVES by Alice LaPlante

John Taylor does not fit the stereotype of a polygamist. Although he is handsome, charming, and charismatic, he is not selfish and arrogant, nor does he seem obviously abnormal or deviant. On the contrary, Taylor is a doctor who uses his impressive skills to perform reconstructive surgery on children who have facial deformities. His partners are unhappy that Taylor insists on doing pro bono work, since the big money is in cosmetic procedures for the affluent. Still, Taylor is a complex individual who, for reasons of his own, married three women who live in Palo Alto, Los Gatos, and Los Angeles; he somehow managed to juggle his myriad professional and personal responsibilities. It is only after Taylor dies in his hotel room of an apparent heart attack that his trio of wives become fodder for the tabloids.

March 4, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Mystery/Suspense

GEMINI by Carol Cassella

GEMINI is an intensely absorbing novel which I found difficult to put down. It is a very human tale which delves deeply into subjects like love in its many shapes and forms, and time – too little time, not enough time, counting time, too late. The author, Carol Cassella, uses time to move her storyline back and forth in years, seamlessly weaving together the characters and the events which impact them.

March 3, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense

LONG MAN by Amy Greene

“You can’t stand against a flood, Annie Clyde.” Oh, yes she can. Or at least die trying. A descendant of the native Cherokees, Annie Clyde Dodson has deep-rooted connections to the land of Yuneetah, Tennessee. Long Man, the river that courses through, is tempestuous and moody but the farmers here have learned to corral its powers to make their living off the land. The Tennessee Valley Authority though, has other plans. A dam has been built upstream and in a matter of a few days, Yuneetah will be under water. Annie Clyde is one of the last holdouts. She just can’t up and leave the land which she wanted her daughter, Gracie, to know and love. And as much as her husband has plans to find factory work up north in Michigan, Annie can’t stomach the thought of a stark existence away from the natural surroundings she loves.

February 25, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Reading Guide, Theme driven, US South