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

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

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

ABOVE ALL THINGS by Tanis Rideout

Above All Things is the story of George Mallory’s third and final attempt to conquer Mount Everest. I am no mountain climber but those who climb and “conquer” mountains have always fascinated me as does the process these mountaineers undergo to make a successful climb. Years ago I read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, and then Simon Mawer’s The Fall and I was hooked. To me, Everest has always been the “Big One.” Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, its peak rising more than 29,000 feet. Back in the early 20th century it was a mountain that had defeated and/or killed all who attempted to scale her. Mallory and his team had made two attempts and failed. Unfortunately, today more than 3,500 people have successfully climbed the 29,029 ft. mountain and more than a tenth of that number scaled the peak just over the past year. On one day alone in 2012, 234 climbers reached the peak, (a bit crowded)….leaving their “junk” all over the mountain….

January 6, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Facing History, India-Pakistan, Literary, Reading Guide, World Lit

MURDER AS A FINE ART by David Morrell

MURDER AS A FINE ART by David Morrell is one of the best mystery books I’ve read this year. It is historically based, taking place in the nineteenth century. As some of you may know, Morrell is best-known for his book, First Blood, upon which the the Rambo movies are based. Murder as a Fine Art is very different from his first writings. It is literary fiction and page-turning at its best.

December 3, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Facing History, Literary, Mystery/Suspense

11/22/63: A NOVEL by Stephen King

Dedicated Stephen King fans are in for an epic treat—an odyssey, a Fool’s journey, an adventure with romance. A genre-bending historical novel with moral implications, this story combines echoes of Homer, H.G. Wells, Don Quixote, Quantum Leap (the old TV show), Jack Finney’s TIME AND AGAIN, and even a spoonful of meta-King himself, the czar of popular fiction.

November 8, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Alternate History, Facing History, Speculative (Beyond Reality), Texas, y Award Winning Author