For anyone who's been in a relationship (ever) and who has had music in some way be a part of that, this is a fantastic read to wrap your head around...moreFor anyone who's been in a relationship (ever) and who has had music in some way be a part of that, this is a fantastic read to wrap your head around how the two fit together. Funny and smart without a lot of pretensions, it won't hurt your head to read, but you'll end up thinking. The movie with John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Jack Black, Catherine Zeta-Jones, etc. is also great.(less)
What I love most about this book is that it harkens back to the quirky, witty, brutally honest self-reflection, and sweet triumph of Nick Hornby's ear...moreWhat I love most about this book is that it harkens back to the quirky, witty, brutally honest self-reflection, and sweet triumph of Nick Hornby's early works, like the great High Fidelity.
Duncan, a music buff in England obsessed with the work of American song-writer Tucker Crowe, discovers Tucker's latest work, an album of stripped-down recordings called Juliet, Naked. Unfortunately, his girlfriend, Annie, doesn't love it so much. This brings into sharp relief that Duncan and Annie may or may not love each other as much as they thought they did.
In a lovely plot twist, it is Annie, not Duncan, who gets in touch with Tucker. Tucker has been hiding away in America, ignoring his cult-rock-star fandom, in order to take care of his equally gifted young son. In typical Nick Hornby-style, Tucker is exceedingly aware of his faults as a human, a husband, a father, and a musician, but still has a spark of greatness about him. Annie is just discovering what it means to have her own life and her own opinions, and as all great love stories go, these two people begin to find out it isn't too late for them - in life or in love or in music - after all.
There's something voyeuristic about reading the way Nick Hornby writes about middle-aged (or approaching middle-aged) male emotions. It's so brutally honest about hopes and fears, regrets and failures, triumphs and hopes. Though there are sad moments, overall the story is one of inspiration in many forms.(less)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Doesn't that make you want to take a big bite out of the book itself? What is this society? What's...moreThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Doesn't that make you want to take a big bite out of the book itself? What is this society? What's Potato Peel Pie? Who is in it, how did it get started - so many questions come to mind when you read such a deliciously convoluted title.
The book is an epistolary novel, which means it is told entirely in the form of letters. I love this form of novel; it feels so much more intimate. You're not just getting this tale, you're reading the thoughts and feelings behind the actions. People feel so much freer and more able to put down on paper (in the form of letters) what they can't, or won't, verbally describe. If all the letters don't actually describe the scenario, then they serve to tantalize you with glimpses of the plot and tease you into reading more.
The letters are all to, from, or about Ms. Juliet Ashton, the central character in this novel. She is a writer by trade, so her letters are wonderfully descriptive, yet always leave you wanting to read more. She receives a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey. He had purchased a book written by Charles Lamb, which had been previously owned by Ms. Ashton. He writes to say he enjoyed this first taste of Charles Lamb and wonders if she would be able to help him in procuring more works of similar literary quality and merit.
Ms. Ashton beings writing with Mr. Dawsey Adams (the man who wrote her), and is thus introduced to the society he is apart of - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The current year being 1946, people are still recovering and rebuilding their lives from the devastation of World War II. This society was begun during the German occupation of the Channel Islands, of which Guernsey is a part. Soon Juliet is corresponding with many of the members of this society, slowly uncovering the stories of German wartime occupation - the love, loss, friendship, and courage that occurred on this isolated island during the war - and getting a first-hand look at what that means in her own life.
No part of this book disappoints. I wanted to rush through it to see how and what happens, but I wanted it to never end. Also, it's a very sweet and sad story about how the book came to be. Mary Ann Shaffer was writing this novel when she unexpectedly passed away. Her niece, Annie Barrows, a famous children's author (she wrote the Ivy & Bean books), finished the novel for her. It became a success, because how could it not, but is so bittersweet due to the loss of its original author.
Fans of The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, and/or Letters from an Age of Reason by Nora Hague will love this book as well. This is the perfect summer read.(less)
I read the first 100 pages of this novel holding my breath and barely blinking. Here is what I discovered: 1) I should never begin a new book at work...moreI read the first 100 pages of this novel holding my breath and barely blinking. Here is what I discovered: 1) I should never begin a new book at work because then I will read it even when I'm not supposed to and not get any work done, and 2) Christian Moerk is a new voice to be reckoned with. Boy, oh boy, did I get the creeps! Spine tingling, goosebumps, morbid fascination with whatever twisted secret will be revealed next - the whole nine yards.
In a sleepy little village in Ireland, a postman discovers the bodies of three dead women. Two were discovered right away - a bloody fight to the death that resulted in them both leaving this world. The third woman was discovered later, hidden behind a wall. Death and murder, by their very nature is a pretty creepy business, but there's already a twist. All three women were related: the two young girls are the nieces of the older woman, and it looks like the older woman held them captive, slowly starving and poisoning them to death. Even later it is discovered that another person was also held captive in the house, but apparently managed to escape. No one knows why this gruesome episode took place.
No one, that is, until a different postman discovers a package in the post office, sent by one of the dead girls! He steals the package and opens it to find a diary, kept while the girl was held prisoner in her aunt's house. As he reads her diary, she begins to tell him a tale of sisterly love and devotion, an aunt's unstable mind, and a traveling bard named Jim who ensnares women far and wide.
His life already out of control (fired from his job, evicted from his apartment), the postman sets off on a quest to the village the girls are from, to find out what led them all to their pitiful end. The diary haunts him, her story haunts him - so honest, so lacking in self-pity or remorse. And what of the third person held in that house? Who was it and where are they now?
Almost a Sidney Sheldon-like psychological creepiness, you won't be jumping at bumps in the night, but you'll definitely feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. The plot development is absolutely wonderful, the prose is crisp and clear, and the characters are ones that will stay with you long after the book has ended. Everything about this book was a sinister pleasure.(less)