The Levine Book Club is starting the new semester with a most stimulating novel by Gillian Flynn titled Gone Girl. It’s been on the NYT bestseller list for 30 weeks and has risen back to the number 1 spot this week.
“Marriage can be a real killer.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong.” On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick comes home to find their home in disarray and his wife, Amy, missing. With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
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I went in June to visit my stepmother and we went to go see the movie “Letters to Juliet”. It stars Franco Nero and Vanessa Redgrave. It is a sweet little movie. There is also a tie-in book to the movie that I enjoyed. Shakespeare wrote the play “Romeo and Juliet” around 1597 and set the play in Verona, Italy. I was not aware that there may be a true story in Verona around the 1300’s. I always thought it was a legend like Pyramus and Thisbe. In Verona there is a tomb attributed to Juliet and a house for Juliet and a house for Romeo. What I find delightful is that everyday from all over the world people write Juliet hand-written letters asking for advice on their love life, a group of volunteers responds to every letter. It is just remarkable to me that people still read and perform this play and that it still moves people so much. The book is a bit disorganized, but I did enjoy it.
3 Out of 4 Stars
Reviewed by: Anne Egger, Library Services
Rick Bragg is one of my favorite authors. He is as redneck as it gets, he is originally from Possom Trot, Alabama (No I did not make that up), but Rick writes like an angel. I have read a lot of his work and it is just wonderful. In a lot of his books, he is trying to understand himself and his family. He is trying to make alcoholism make sense, but you see it doesn’t. In this particular book, he is trying to understand his father, he has recently become a stepfather to a 10 year old boy and he wants a better understanding of what that means and how to do it. Rick usually just makes mistakes, but he tries. On page 134, he talks about old men being lazy, he says “Old women call it loafering, and I’ve always loved that word. I guess it is just how we say the word loafing, but the way we say it makes you think of loafers, of wearing out shoe leather for no good purpose.” Rick’s writing is so good, he makes me cry. If you haven’t read any of his books, I would recommend any of them.
4 Out of 4 Stars
Reviewed by: Anne Egger, Library Services
The story is set in Hong Kong before and after World War II, from 1941-1953. Who is the main character? Is it Will or Trudy or Claire? I think really the main character is Hong Kong. The plot is a little hokey and stilted. The author talks about love and betrayal, almost like trying to set The Great Gatsby in Hong Kong. However, the author’s love and knowledge of Hong Kong is true. It is not a bad book, but I still feel something is missing.
3 out of 4 Stars
Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services
The Arrival is a powerful story and an amazing piece of art. This tale of a man who leaves his family and country behind for opportunity in another land is told entirely without words. Rather, artist Shaun Tan relies on amazingly well-drawn panels to draw the viewer into a world both familiar and strange. With each panel, we see the frustration that the nameless protagonist faces as he tries to make a new life in a place where he doesn’t speak the language. We also witness the kindness paid upon him by strangers willing to help him out (including the strange little dog-like animal that lives in his new home with him).
Basing his story on anecdotal stories of immigrants from many places and time periods, Tan helps the reader to see what it must be like to be an immigrant to a new land. The absence of any readable words in the book reinforces this. In fact, the words that do appear in the book are unintelligible to both the protagonist and the reader.
Although it may take more than one viewing to get the full impact of this book (it did for me), I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by: Doug Short, Library Services
Stitches is the visually haunting memoir of author David Small’s terrifying childhood. Small was operated on for what he was told by his parents was just a cyst, but he woke up missing both a vocal cord and his thyroid. Small later, and accidentally, discovers that what was actually removed was a cancerous tumor that developed as a result of the massive amount of x-rays his radiologist father exposed him to in a misguided (at best) attempt to cure his respiratory problems. Small’s parents had a troubled marriage which, combined with his health issues, created a lot of confusion and distress throughout his childhood, which comes across quite strongly in the graphic novel format. With the help of a therapist, Small eventually comes to terms with his childhood experiences and is able to move on – and write Stitches.
3 Out of 4 Stars
Reviewed by: Jennifer Arnold, Library Services
Power Up is a light-hearted graphic novel that tells the story of Hugh, an aspiring video game designer, copy shop clerk, husband, and father. Hugh purchases an experimental video game console from an estate sale and comes to find that the power ups in the game apply in real life. Extra-lives create extra Hughs to help get the chores done, shields save him in an armed robbery, and gold coins from the game make him and his family rich. The video game console acts as modern day genie, fulfilling Hugh’s wishes. Of course, the console can’t solve all his problems and manages to create some new ones too.
As an adult who grew up playing video games, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I don’t think you have to love video games to appreciate Power Up. The dialog is snappy and the artwork supports it perfectly. Often, Tennapel’s drawings on their own were enough to make me laugh. Physical comedy abounds in this title. Also, the characters are comically exaggerated, but not so much that you can’t relate to them. Recommended.
4 out of 4 Stars
Reviewed by: Steve Osler, Library Services
The sixth installment in the Flight series is just as entertaining as all its predecessors. Once again the reader is given an anthology filled with a diverse group of fluid and eye catching artistic styles and a variety of stories. Stories such as “Dead Bunny” the unexpectedly sweet love story focused on a zombie rabbit’s search for love, “Cooking Duel” the humorous story of couple competing against each other to find out who is the better cook and “Kidnapped” which is one of the stories in this volume which uses wordless storytelling.
Though many of the stories involve love and sentimentality in some way coupled with interesting and satisfying endings, there are some stories such as “The Excitingly Mundane Life of Kenneth Shuri” that focus more on comedy. “The Excitingly Mundane Life of Kenneth Shuri” is about a Ninja named Ken who is trying to find a job. He sees one of long time friends now working in an unfulfilling job at an electronic store, still wearing his ninja hood. Later, when he finally gets an interview he finds himself near the end of a long line of ninjas.
Despite the seriousness of its subject matter the author does a good job of injecting comedic moments. This volume is brimming with creativity and vividness in both its art and storytelling. Older teenagers and adult readers may find this volume especially enjoyable.
3 Out of 4 Stars
Reviewed by: Darlene White, Library Services