BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent

Twenty-eight-year-old Australian author Hannah Kent spent time in Iceland while in high school, chosen because she wanted to see snow for the first time. She fell in love with this island country south of the Arctic Circle, and returned several times to do extensive research on Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be beheaded in Iceland, in 1829. Kent imagined the interior psychological states of various characters, especially the enigmatically alluring Agnes, and has successfully penned a suspenseful fiction tale that transcends the outcome. It reveals a complex love triangle and double murder, and a provocative examination of the religious and social mores of the time. Knowing the fate of Agnes prior to reading the novel won’t change the reader’s absorption of the novel. The strong themes hinge on the backstory and viewpoints that are woven in and reveal characters that go through a change of perception as the circumstances of the crime

April 10, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Debut Novel, Facing History, Iceland, Mystery/Suspense

FALLING TO EARTH by Kate Southwood

FALLING TO EARTH is the kind of novel that makes me want to grab the very next person I see and urgently say, ”You MUST read this.” I read this rabidly with increasing awe and respect that Kate Southwood had the chops to create a debut novel with this degree of psychological insight, restrained power, and heartbreaking beauty.

The story centers on a tragedy of unimaginable proportions – a tornado hits the small Illinois town of March in 1925, causing devastation and grievous loss in the homes of every single resident of the town.

Except one.

March 5, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Facing History, Family Matters, Literary, US Midwest

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK by Ben Fountain

Billy Lynn – the eponymous hero of this book – is a genuine American hero. He and his fellow Bravo Squad members decimated an insurgency – caught on film by an embedded Fox News crew — and became overnight sensations in a nation starved for good news about Iraq. They are brought home for a media-intensive “Victory Tour” – in cities that happen to lie in an electoral swing state — to reinvigorate support for the war. We meet them at the end of that tour, on a rainy Thanksgiving, hosted by America’s Team, The Dallas Cowboys.

February 27, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Drift-of-Life, Humorous, National Book Award Finalist, National Book Critic Circle (NBCC), Texas, Unique Narrative, United States, y Award Winning Author

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

THIRTY GIRLS by Susan Minot

THIRTY GIRLS by Susan Minot is a powerful novel that is based on a true story. It takes place in Kenya, Uganda and Sudan and is the story of the abduction of over one hundred girls from a convent school in Uganda. A nun by the name of Giulia travels to the site of the abductors, who call themselves the LRA, and negotiates for the release of all but thirty of the girls. Thus, the title of the book.

February 11, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Facing History, World Lit

THE GHOST OF MARY CELESTE by Valerie Martin

FACT: “The Mary Celeste,” (or “Marie Céleste” as it is fictionally referred to by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and others after him), was a British-built American-owned merchant brigantine famous for having been discovered on 5 December 1872 in the Atlantic Ocean, between the Azores and Portugal, unmanned and apparently abandoned, (the one lifeboat was missing, along with its 7 member crew, the captain, his wife and small daughter). The ship was in seaworthy condition and still under sail heading toward the Strait of Gibraltar. She had been at sea for a month and its cargo and provisions were intact. The crew’s belongings including valuables were still in place. There was no sign of foul play. None of those on board was ever seen or heard from again and their disappearance is often cited as the greatest maritime mystery of all time. There was nothing written in the ship’s log to account for the vanishing. ” (Wikipedia entry)

January 30, 2014 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Mystery/Suspense, NE & New York, y Award Winning Author