Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Snowfly

Joseph Heywood is a Michigan author, with multiple titles to his name. The Snowfly tells a tale of suspense, international intrigue, and fly fishing. Not a common combination, and yet the result is a vivid tale with a legendary insect at its core. This snowfly is enormous and exceedingly rare, hatching only every seven to ten years and never on the same river twice. When it does magically appear, it causes trout to rise that are larger and rarer than those ever seen. So large, that they would have had to live forty years or more, and are only tempted to the surface by this rare fly. It becomes the quest of the most obsessed trout hunters, existing only in myth and lost manuscript.

The story introduces Bowie Rhodes, beginning at the age of eight, who himself is growing up in Northern Michigan. We watch Bowie grow up and leave home to pursue career as a writer, all the while trying to keep the obsession at arm's length. His reporting takes him around the world and into many dangerous situations -- Vietnam, the Soviet Union and Canada -- and evidence of the snowfly appears at unexpected turns.

Rich in descriptions and characters, The Snowfly takes a unique look into the human spirit.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mistress of the Art of Death

The second book by Ariana Franklin, Mistress of the Art of Death, will entice both fans of historical fiction and forensic mysteries. Set in medieval Cambridge, four young children have been murdered. When the Catholic majority of the townsfolk blame the Jewish minority, a riot causes death and thereafter protection of the Jews by King Henry II. Realizing that unless the Jews can return to their livelihoods, he will not get taxes from them, Henry sends to his cousin, the King of Sicily for help to catch the true killer.

The doctor chosen to come investigate will remind readers of a medieval medical examiner such as Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Being a female doctor in the forward thinking town of Salerno is rare enough, but in a superstitious country such as England, it is simply dangerous. Adelia must conceal her true identity as she examines the victims and retraces their last moments, for fear of being accused of witchcraft.

The cast of characters along the way is rich and varied, whether Arab, Jew or Christian, and Adelia is never quite certain whether those she encounters will be revealed as friend or foe. Twists and turns abound, and the nearer she comes to finding the killer, the more danger she finds herself in.


Friday, April 06, 2007

I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years by Bill Bryson

After 20 years of living in England, Bill Bryson and his family have returned to America to live in a small town in New Hampshire. He has been asked by a journalist friend in London to write a weekly column on America. The column was to be published in a supplement to a Sunday newspaper in London. Bill reluctantly agrees, well maybe Bill never agreed but his publisher friend would not take no for an answer.

In I'm a Stranger Here Myself are Bill's weekly columns written over a period of a few years. Not realizing how difficult it could be to write on a weekly basis (he says, "the thing about a wekly column is that it comes up weekly"), he chooses topics from the mundane (dental floss and garbage disposals) to the thought provoking (government and taxes) all with the wit and sarcasm associated with his writing. This is a hialrious look at everyday American life.


The Ladies' Man by Elinor Lipman

Adele Dobbin found out she was not getting married when her fiance, Harvey Nash, failed to show up at their engagement party; no note, no phone call. Since then Adele has spent her life with her two sisters, not dating, and working at the public TV station in town.

Now, thirty years later Harvey shows up at her door wanting to make amends. Or does he? Being the chronic womanizer he is, Harvey can't seem to keep his eyes or hands off the women he meets, including Adele's sister Kathleen. His arrival pushes the sisters to reexamine their lives and search for their own self-worth.

The Ladies' Man is a fascinating study of characters. Harvey Nash is an insincere, self-centered, womanizer who sees nothing wrong with his life of no direction and non-commitment and takes no responsibility for any of his actions past or present. But, you can't help liking him. Adele Dobbins, at first glance, is a spinster who has wasted her life because of her broken engagement but soon you discover that this is not true at all. If you like novels with unique characters and snappy dialogue, you will like this.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Cinderella (as if you didn't already know the story) by Barbara Ensor

Cinderella - the story of the girl, who lost her mom, was made into a servant by her new stepmother and stepsisters, but triumphs by marrying the prince. Here is a clever new take on this age-old tale: "a quick read for smart girls." Silhouette illustrations are whimsical and Cinderella's letters to her dead mother let you know what Cinderella was really thinking. "If you were still here I might not want to talk to you about this, because you would probably laugh and maybe tell all your friends." Hilarious and new, Cinderella (as if you didn't already know the story) by Barbara Ensor is a great choice for anyone who likes fairy tales with a twist.