THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH by Jacqueline Winspear

In August of 1914, twenty-three year old Michael Clifton had a vision. He stood with his surveyor’s equipment in California “on a hill burnished with gold in the summer sun,” and decided that this oil-rich land would be his. As he prepared to travel back east to rejoin his family, he heard that England and Germany were at war, and he impulsively decided to enlist. Even though Michael was American, his father, Edward, was born in England, and Michael believed that his skills as a cartographer would help the British. Sadly, he never returned home. Michael’s parents hire Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and private inquiry agent, to look into their son’s last days in Jacqueline Winspear’s THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH.

April 3, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Sleuths Series, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author


Darren Bennett likes to draw. This hobby makes him insecure 1) because he’s a sophomore in high school and he’s insecure about everything, and 2) because he knows that whatever he draws will result in a false label: “If you’re drawing the female figure, you’re a pervert. If you’re drawing the male figure, you’re gay. If you’re drawing superheroes and haven’t gotten around to drawing the masks or capes or whatever yet, you’re gay.” Nevertheless, it provides a fantastical escape from his increasing isolationism in an unremarkable Arizona suburb where he lives with his good-natured but neglectful father and complete hooligan of a brother, an arrangement that resulted when his “mom kind of went haywire.” When fellow outcast Eric Lederer compliments one of Darren’s drawings after class, a friendship forms that leads to “the biggest mistake of [his] life” and perhaps the worst false label of all. From a perfectly executed prologue to a thrilling sci-fi finish, DC Pierson’s debut novel will undoubtedly captivate readers and remind them of the limitless potential of the coming-of-age novel.

February 6, 2010 · Judi Clark · 2 Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Coming-of-Age, Debut Novel, Humorous, Literary, Scifi, US Southwest


Gail Godwin’s newest book, UNFINISHED DESIRES is an intriguing character study of the female students and nuns who inhabit an outwardly idyllic Catholic girls’ school in North Carolina, Mount St. Garbriel’s. The novel takes place primarily in the 1950’s where the students jockey for power, prestige and friendship. The nuns, too, have their own histories and secrets. The Mother Superior at the School, Suzanne Ravenal is writing a history of the school. This part of the book takes place in 2001 when Sister Ravenal is in a retirement home for nuns. The book goes back and forth from the every-day school intrigues of the 1950’s to 2001 when Mother Ravenal is writing her school’s history…

January 4, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, US South


Thomas Bernhard is a wonderful wordsmith. He weaves his story in riffs like jazz motifs or the most beautiful of tapestries. In a tapestry, there may be repeat stitches but the colors and gauge change, the dynamic conspires to grow and become something else just as it is being created. Like a weaver or jazz musician, Bernhard repeats the essence of his message in many ways, giving the reader a marvelous opportunity to see into the protagonist’s mind. He is a natural story teller.

December 21, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Austria, Classic, Facing History, Translated, Unique Narrative, World Lit

SOUTH OF BROAD by Pat Conroy

After a fourteen year hiatus, author Pat Conroy is back with a long awaited novel, SOUTH OF BROAD. His last novel BEACH MUSIC was quite good, as is this latest offering. However, to my mind, nothing beats Conroy’s PRINCE OF TIDES and THE GREAT SANTINI, although SOUTH OF BROAD comes close. There are similarities in all Conroy’s novels – his characters, their lives, dilemmas, and the author’s obvious love for the American South. The common thread which weaves its way throughout his work are autobiographical elements. According to a recent magazine interview, Conroy states that he writes from his own life experiences, which might explain why many of his characters have such emotionally traumatic childhoods. Conroy, the first of seven children, was born into a military family, and was the victim of his father’s violence and abuse from a young age. The military life – his father was a US Marine Corps pilot – also pushed the family from post to post, and Conroy claims to have moved 23 times before he was 18. When he was 15 he moved to Beaufort, SC, and began his love affair with the South. He is also a graduate of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, a school featured in many of his novels.

October 21, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Family Matters, Reading Guide, US South