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September 16, 2004

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Reader's Forum at Newsletter Update

Posted to subscriber list on MAY 16, 2004.

Hello, readers!

Seventeen new reviews were posted to Click on the book covers to read the reviews; click on reviewers name to learn more about the reviewer.

MY SISTER'S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult
Reviewed by Jenny Dressel

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since early childhood. Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and role that she has never questioned -- until now. With realistic characters and choices this is an excellent pick for any book group -- bound to generate endless discussion as Picoult explores this subject from many points of view. I normally review Picoult's novels myself but thought it would be good to get a fresh look on this writer -- I seem to rave about everything she writes -- so much for unbiased, Jenny also raves.

THE HALF BROTHER by Lars Christensen
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Mary opens her review describing this book as one of the "biggest, most ambitiously conceived and richly imagined novels you may every read... and it may become one of the most 'important' books of this generation." It's a haunting story of four generations of a strange Norwegian family. When Mary submitted the review, she said it was like trying to summarize WAR AND PEACE in 1000 words...

EVENTIDE by Kent Haruf
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

A warm, heart-stirring continuation of Haruf's previous novel, PLAINSONG. It picks up three years later and once again centers around the McPheron brothers and the hard-scrabble residents of a small town in the Colorado high plains. This novel will likely be the favorite for many this year.

THE NARROWS by Michael Connelly
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

Private Investigator Harry Bosch is about to confront The Poet, the most terrifying serial killer he's ever known. This is the same Poet as was introduced in the stand-alone novel in 1996 with heroine Rachel Walling. As Cindy points out in her review, though it is a good novel on its own, it will be especially cherished by the long term Connelly fan. Not mentioned in the review: if you buy this novel now from, you will also receive a free DVD movie on the Los Angeles that inspired this and other novels in the series.

Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Mary has a nice habit of giving me a short personal review when she submits her more formal review. For instance, with this one she exclaims, "This is one of my favorites! I loved it! I don't usually like humorous novels, since they are sometimes so silly, but this one is delightful. I was feeling only so-so about it till page 150, when suddenly something happened that showed me that the author was setting me up for the first part of the book. Then things really fly." That certainly made me want read the rest of the review (and book), as I assume it will for you.

Reviewed by Poornima Apte

One of the most-talked about works of fiction to emerge from China in recent years, this novel about an urban youth "displaced" to a small village in rural China during the Cultural Revolution is a fictionalized portrait of the author's own experience as a young man. Han Shaogong was one of millions of students relocated from cities and towns to live and work alongside peasant farmers in an effort to create a classless society. Translated into English for the first time, Han's novel is an exciting experiment in form--structured as a dictionary of the Maqiao dialect --through which he seeks to understand and translate the local life and customs of his strange new home.

Reviewed by Josh Aterovis

Jasper Fforde has done it again in this absolutely brilliant feat of literary showmanship. Join Thursday Next as she encounters some of the greatest characters in literature and battles deadly villains who literally leap off the page. When it comes to sheer wit, literary fantasy, and effervescent originality, nobody can touch this series.

ILIUM by Dan Simmons
Reviewed by Greg West

Genre jumping Dan Simmons -- most well known for his Hugo Award winning novel HYPERION -- returns with another epic Science Fiction masterpiece. Reading Greg's review, I decided that I am going to pick up this book. Though I am wondering if I shouldn't first watch Brad Pitt in TROY. You know, just to refresh my memory...

Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Jerry McGuinty is a simple, self-made builder. Simon Struthers is a disaffected businessman who proves the old adage about money and happiness. Together they face the new Ottawa of the seventies: brash, bright, and ready for the taking.
With their different careers and successes, these two strangers seek to carve out their own happiness-Jerry with his new wife, Simon with his endless affairs and intrigues. But love can be suffocated by the drive to succeed, and individuals crushed by greed and progress. Only when both men realize what they have to lose will their lives finally intersect. A fresh new Canadian voice - check out the chapter excerpt.

Reviewed by Kam Aures

This is a novel about following dreams and overcoming obstacles, about finding your voice and becoming the hero of your own life. This is a novel in which you can't help but root for struggling singer Patty Taylor, a gutsy girl with a wry sense of humor.

GHOST RIDERS by Sharyrn McCrumb
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

Sharyn McCrumb's latest "ballad novel" tells the true story of two different people in Civil War in Appalachia. Zeb Vance, who later become Governor, and Belinda Blalock, who dressed like a boy to follow her husband into battle. Meanwhile, present day Civil War enactments are raising angry Confederate ghosts.

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

This international literary sensation has been a runaway bestseller in Spain. It is about a boy's quest through the secrets and shadows of postwar Barcelona for a mysterious author who books has proved as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget.

MISSING JUSTICE by Alafair Burke
Reviewed by Kam Aures

After a month long vacation and a new promotion from the Drug and Vice Division to the Major Crimes Unit, District Attorney Samantha Kincaid is back on duty. Almost as soon as she returns she gets a call that Clarissa Easterbrook, an administrative law judge, is missing.

Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

In sixteenth-century London, playwright and spy Christopher Marlowe embarks on his final intelligence assignment, hoping to find the culprits behind a high-stakes smuggling scheme. In present-day New York, grad student turned private eye Kate Morgan is called in on an urgent matter. One of her firm's top clients, a London-based financier, has chanced upon a mysterious manuscript that had been buried for centuries -- one that someone, somewhere is desperate to steal.

THE ZERO GAME by Brad Meltzer
Reviewed by Chuck Barksdale

Meltzer specializes in breakneck plots, unforgettable characters and razor-sharp dialogue. Two senior congressional staffers, Mathew Mercer and Harris Sandler, friends from college, somewhat bored with the routine of their jobs, decide to join in the Zero Game. In the Zero Game, people bet on the outcome of adding minor riders to congressional bills. When Matthew sees a bet proposal come through on a bill he knows he can change he makes a significant bet. Little does he understand what a deadly game he has entered.

THE DWELLING by Susie Moloney
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

If you read Cindy's review of GHOST RIDERS, you'll learn that she has a thing for ghost stories -- and although that book's ghost story didn't pan out to be what she wanted, THE DWELLING definitely did. If you are fan of old-fashioned ghost stories, especially one with a new twist, then you may want to consider this one.

AVENGER by Frederick Forsyth
Reviewed by Judi Clark

I recently discovered that I can reserve books online at our downtown library, which is closer to my home than any bookstore. I discovered this while doing a search for ALOFT and somehow ended up also reserving AVENGER. My logic -- it's been a long time since I read any of Forsyth's books, so why not update the author page. (A project that I'd like to take on for the whole site.) On the other hand I didn't know how committed to this plan I'd be, so I didn't want to write to the publisher. So I borrowed the book. I read it before its due date, but had to renew it to write the review. Would I do it again? Certainly. But this time I'm choosing a book I don't have to review. Well that's my back story on how I came to read and review AVENGER; now I guess you'll have to read my review to learn about the book.


Trivia Question: Which of the above writers is the daughter of author James Lee Burke?


I think the summer months are a great time to get into the epic length novels and certainly there are a few to choose from in this update. On the other hand, when the sun is really bright and the air is hot, hot, hot -- a light mystery or thriller or even a romance goes a long way. (I do find it hard to be a serious reader when I'm frying my brains on the beach.) Or how about reading a ghost story during a camping trip? Whether it is to choose a book to enjoy while lying in the backyard hammock or one to settle in to read on a long plane ride to paradise -- whatever your summer brings, I hope you keep visiting for good reading tips.

Judi Clark

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