THE SISTERS BROTHERS
by Patrick deWitt
This curious book IS a Western, although it certainly doesn’t come from the Louis L’Amour mold! There are cowboys and horses and shoot-outs. There’s whiskey and women in “the trade.” There’s the formal, almost stilted patterns of speech those of us who saw True Grit will find familiar. And there’s a rambling tale of avarice and adventure.
The Sisters brothers, Charlie and Eli, are stone killers. When they first started working for The Commodore they were given jobs collecting past due sums. As it became increasingly clear that they, especially Charlie, would do anything for money, they were assigned the work of, well, murdering The Commodore’s enemies. For this particular job they travel to San Francisco looking for one Herman Warm, thought to be out there, somewhere, working the gold fields.
I will say that I found it compelling and kept turning pages. Compelling, funny, shocking, historical…it was all of those things. Worth a look if you enjoy Westerns…and aren’t too determined that they sound like something Zane Grey might have written.
Mary Ann's Pick:
THE COLD DISH by Craig Johnson. This is the first book by award winning Western mystery writer Johnson. The setting is Absaroka County, Wyoming. One can view the majestic Bighorn Mountains. People tend to know each other and get together to enjoy Rainer beer at the local bars. Two years earlier a Cheyenne girl with fetal alcohol syndrome was sexually tortured by four members of the local high school football team. The boys were lightly punished which did not sit well with the residents of the Cheyenne Reservation. Cody Pritchard, the least remorseful of the four, is found shot to death. Sheriff Walt Longmire has trouble thinking of anyone who didn’t have a motive. The sheriff tries to find the killer while also trying to find answers in his own troubled personal life. His wife Martha died three years ago and his grown daughter Cady, whom he loves deeply, never seems to call. Fortunately he has his long time friend Henry Standing Bear to help him find his way in life. The problem is his friend is a relative of the molested girl and very capable of being the shooter. Sheriff Longmire is methodical in his crime solving. There is a mix of humor and melancholy to his thought processes. The reader becomes familiar with the local residents and the members of the tiny Absaroka County sheriff’s office. Johnson has written seven Walt Longmire mysteries so far.
SISTERHOOD EVERLASTING by ANN BRASHARES
This is yet another sequel to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
I have to admit I only read the first two of these books and did enjoy them. Although this book follows the sisterhood it can certainly stand on it’s own without reading the previous books. I would suggest that you at least read the first book so that you have a better background on the characters.
The girls in the sisterhood are now going to be turning thirty. They have lost contact with Tibby for over two years after she moved to Australia with her boyfriend. Then out of the blue she sends them all plane tickets to meet in Greece for a reunion. Upon their arrival in Santorini, Tibby is nowhere to be found and they finally contact the police. The police arrive to tell them that Tibby’s body is found by a fisherman in the sea, she had drowned. Everything that the sisterhood had been is gone. They all return to the states and grieve in their own way and without each other. But Tibby still has plans and left them all letters to be opened on certain dates. This is a beautifully written book about grief and what ultimately happens to the remaining sisterhood.
Brook’s pick:Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff. Fireworks Over Toccoa is a sweet love story, not to be missed by those who enjoy a good romance novel. The story begins with the discovery of a long-lost gift given to Lily Davis Woodward. Lily, who is now 84, begins to tell the story of four days in 1945 that changed her life forever. We find ourselves dropped into an amazing story of Lily’s youth one summer while waiting for her husband Paul, whom she’s only been married to for two weeks before he left, to return from WWII. While preparing for Paul’s return she meets Jake Russo, an Italian Pyrotechnician just back from the war, who is visiting the small town of Toccoa, Georgia to produce a beautiful fireworks show for the 4th of July celebration. Jake and Lily are instantly drawn to one another. But Paul is returning in a few days and Lily must decide between living the life she knows everyone expects of her and following her heart
Kristine's Pick: Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko. This book was on the docket for Redbery Book's Chapter and Verse reading club. I admit that I approached it with something akin to dread. A kid's book. Set in 1935. On Alcatraz Island. I am happy to report that I was ALL WRONG. I was sucked into the story from page one...and found it fascinating...and delightful...and VERY readable! I would recommend this book to anyone! I especially loved how resourceful the kids were. Fun!
Kristine's Top Reads for 2009 - Wow, I did a lot of reading in 2009...and read a lot of books I liked. Some that I REALLY liked, in the order that I'm remembering them (vs. the order in which I read them or liked them) are: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson, Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow, The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein, The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin, (Mary Ann's recommendation!) Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris (my guilty pleasure) and The Long Fall by Walter Mosley, first in another series by a master of the "hard-boiled" genre.
Mary Ann's Pick: Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow. This book is a fictional narrative about two real-life brothers, Homer and Langley Collyer. They were the sons of a New York gynecologist and an opera singer. Homer is our storyteller. Homer gradually goes blind at an early age and relies on his brother Langley, for his care. Langley is himself physically damaged from a mustard gas attack during WWI. Following their parents death during a flu epidemic, the brothers become recluses in the family’s palatial Fifth Avenue townhouse. Homer spends his days in the world of music and sounds. Langley sinks into a “mad scientist” world where he collects all manner of objects discarded by others. As the years pass, every room in their house is filled from floor to ceiling leaving narrow paths to navigate. The real Collyer brothers died in 1947. Homer starved to death because Langley had been crushed to death by a suitcase and bale of newspapers, just 10 feet away.
Mary Ann’s Top Ten Reads for 2009
In no particular order, they are Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin, Outliers: the Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, Wild Thing by Mike Harrison, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, K.I.S.S. Guide to Yoga by Shakta Kaur Khalsa, Hot House Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick, and Flushed: How the Plumber Saved Civilization by W. Hodding Carter.
Diane's Pick: Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West. Montana Indian Legend is that the Crow Indians were camped along the Yellowstone River. The Warriors returning from a long hunting trip found the camp decimated by smallpox. Their wives, mothers and children were all dead. The Warriors were so overcome with grief they blinded their ponies and rode them off a sixty-foot cliff sure they would join their loved ones in another life. As Coach Sam Pickett tells this story to rally his 6 man basketball team, he points out they probably went over the cliff shouting. The courage and faith it would take for such an end. They believed!
Coach Sam moved to a small Montana town after a horrible loss to try to rebuild his life. In Willow Creek he was the high school English teacher and also given the job of basketball coach. The team has not won a game in over five years. Due to the size of Willow Creek it takes all the boys in the high school plus the Norwegian exchange student to create a team. This is Stanley Gordon West at his best. I fell in love with every character in this book. If you want a book to lift your spirits and warm your heart this is it!
Kristine’s October pick:
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson.(translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland.) This follow-up to The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo is, in my opinion, even better than the original. Central character Lisbeth Salander is part-heroine, part-villain and completely fascinating. We were introduced to her world-class computer hacking skills…and violent tendencies…in the first book. We learn more about that, and the dark secrets that shadow her past, in this novel. Although she has broken off all contact with Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist who hired her and learned to value her skills, he works to prove her innocence when she is accused of murder. He knows she’s capable of it. He just doesn’t believe that she’s guilty this time. Don’t start this when you have to get up early the next morning! It’s an exciting read that’ll keep you turning pages until you reach the amazing conclusion.
A third novel in this series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is due out in June of 2010. (hope I can wait that long.) Sadly, it will be the last of them, as Larsson died of a heart attack shortly after delivering these outstanding manuscripts to his publisher!
Mary Ann’s October pick:
Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein. Archaeologist Page Brookstone has spent 12 years unearthing bones on an ancient battleground in Israel. She believes that bones speak, yet none have given her the message she seeks. She is intrigued by a young Arab couple, who want her to excavate under their house because their
house is haunted by the ghosts of two lovers. Page takes on this excavation and soon a coffin is discovered with two entwined skeletons, plus an intact scroll. The text of the scroll challenges the centuries old story of the prophet Jeremiah. Page risks her life and reputation to bring the words of the scroll of Anitiya to the world. An interesting, well written story.
Diane’s October pick:
ASTRID& VERONICA by Linda Olsson. This first novel is a very moving book about an unusual friendship between two women with different backgrounds and ages. Veronica is a young writer that rents a house in a small village in Sweden. She arrives in the middle of winter and plans to write a book about a recent tragedy in her life. Astrid who is often described as “the neighborhood witch” lives next door. Astrid does take notice of the young girl next door and when she does not see Veronica on her routine morning walk for several days she goes over to her house finding her sick. Astrid cares for Veronica during this short illness and a friendship transpires. Astrid begins to join Veronica on her walks sharing information about the land and then into her painful past. Veronica finds that the book she came to write is suddenly not what she thought but writes an entirely different story. This is a very beautiful story about the power of friendship.