Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring is here!

Here in Michigan, the daffodils smile their sunshine-y smiles, leaf buds burst on trees, the birds serenade each morning but its been raining like crazy....sounds like Spring has sprung! To celebrate, this week's blog is dedicated to books that were or will be released this Spring.

Picking up a  book hot off the presses is a great way to celebrate something new!  Here are two such books that I've read recently.  Note: The Dinner was published a couple of years ago in the Netherlands, it just came out as an English translation in 2013, so it is new to the English-speaking world.

The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A "laid off schoolteacher". Murdering teenage boys. A mom who will spend time in jail to protect her son's secret. A political candidate and father of one of the said murdering teenagers. A weeping, scene-making wife of said political candidate. A dinner at a high-brow restaurant. The components of The Dinner. And what a dinner it was!

Okay, here is the disclaimer. Not everyone is going to like this book. It is not a happy book. Its not a funny book either. What it is is an excellent bookclub selection. (Plenty of moral dilemmas and nasty characters for book-clubbers to hash out.) Its also a quick read or listen, which I highly recommend.

So why read it? For the masterful writing.  Koch plays with the readers' emotions, teasing the reader along,  pulling back from lifting the lid on a morsel of information they crave. He peppers information throughout the course of the dinner. Speaking of the dinner, the fact that an entire story could be written about what takes place during the course of one dinner amazes me. Koch  pulls it off.

Why else should you read it? For the unreliable narrator. Really. If Koch had chosen any of the other members of the dinner party as narrator, it wouldn't have worked half as well.  (Not that any of them would be reliable narrators either.) The narrator, Paul Lohman, gains the reader's confidence in the beginning of the book. Former schoolteacher, father, middle class...nice guy, right? Well, I'll leave that for you to find out. After all, I did tell you he was an unreliable narrator.

One more thing I want to mention. This book is billed as the "European Gone Girl". Now, I haven't read Gone Girl, but many people have. The reviews I've read of those who have read both books say this book is not a Gone Girl. It seems the similarity lies in the fact that both contain a full menu of nasty characters.

Is this book one you will want to read? I don't know. But I can tell you that I had no problem finding motivation to devour it!

View all my reviews

The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte
The Climber Room: The sign in the Sweet Apple kitchen declared it a nut-free zone...
The Dungeon Master: Is there life after video games?
Deniers: The Ballad of Craig and Mandy...
The Republic of Empathy: First short story I ever read with multiple narrators...
The Wisdom of the Doulas: Doulas or doulos, does gender determine the spelling?
Snacks: Obese boys, gym class, Need I say more?
The Worm in Philly: A children's story about Marvelous Marvin Hagler?
Expressive: Folks say I have one of those faces.
Ode to Oldcorn: Oldcorn was a shot-putter from the hippie days.
The Appointment Occurs in the Past: Grilled steaks and a fateful meeting on a roof...
Peasley: The Man Who Killed the Idea of Tanks in England says...
Nate's Pain is Now: Nobody loves an author on the way down...
The Real-Ass Jumbo: The world would end. The brink beckoned. A bright guy might as well pick a date.

My Review
 My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars


Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow. Helen Keller

With the advent of Spring, I went scurrying to my bookshelves to look for "bird books" to read. These ones were warbling to me to read them soon. If you have read any of these, leave a comment to let me know if they left you singing.

TitleLast NameFirst NameGenreWhat is it About?
A Guide to the Birds of East AfricaDraysonNicholasFictionWidower, Mr. Malik, is secretly in love with birdwalk guide, Rose Mbikwa
Bird BrainsSavageCandaceNon-FictionCrows are not dumb!
Bird by BirdLamottAnneNon-FictionAnne on writing…
Birds Without WingsBerneiresLouisFictionA colorful village in the Ottoman Empire faces a new world.
Bridge of BirdsHughartBarryFictionFantasy quest set in ancient China
The Hummingbird's DaughterUrreaLuisFictionA young girl wakes from a dream with power to heal
The Snoring BirdHeinrichBerndNon-FictionHumorous memoir of the author's naturalist father
The Spectator BirdStegnerWallaceNon-FictionA look at his mother's journals send Joe Allston on a journey back in time.
Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade SpringsStegnerWallaceFictionEssays about the American West

Keeping with the theme, the list below is composed of newly-released or soon-to-be released books that are on my radar. Anything here that will spring to the top of your list?

TitleLast NameFirst NameGenrePagesPub Date
Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life UnarmedMeltonGlennonMemoir2883/2/2013
Birth of an OperaRoseMichaelNon-Fiction4413/18/2013
Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli and MeVolkPatriciaMemoir3044/2/2013
Mom and Me and MomAngelouMayaMemoir2244/2/2013
Bolivar: American LiberatorAranaMarieBiography6244/9/2013
Carrie and Me: Mother, Daughter LoveBurnettCarolMemoir2244/9/2013
The Little Way of Ruthie LemingDreherRodMemoir2884/9/2013
A California ChildhoodFrancoJamesMemoir1604/9/2013
Dirt WorkBylChristineMemoir2564/16/2013
Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia PlathWinderElizabethMemoir2724/16/2013
Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the YangtzeHarmsenPeterHistory3204/19/2013
A Constellation of Vital PhenomenaMarraAnthonyFiction4005/7/2013
Blood of GodsIgguldenConnFiction4645/23/2013
Silver StarWallsJeanetteFiction2886/1/2013

"Books my friends/family told me I had to read!" is next. The alphabet challenge and (I)ndia will be appearing soon...