Recap of our Block Book Club July meeting
Recap of the titles we shared [synopsis from Goodreads.com]:
1) That Is Not a Good Idea!, by Mo Willems (2013)
presented by N., 5! See, never too late to be part of a book club and present your books!
That Is Not a Good Idea! is a hilarious, interactive picture book from bestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems, the creator of books like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, the Knuffle Bunny series, the Elephant and Piggie series, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, and many other new classics.
Inspired by the evil villains and innocent damsels of silent movies, Willems tells the tale of a hungry fox who invites a plump goose to dinner. As with the beloved Pigeon books, kids will be calling out the signature refrain and begging for repeated readings. The funny details in the full-color illustrations by three-time Caldecott Honoree Mo Willems will bring nonstop laughter to story time
2) The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes #1) by Christopher Healy (2012)
presented by M., 10
Actually this is the 1st book in the series, but M. presented each book of the trilogy
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.
Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.
Christopher Healy’s Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a completely original take on the world of fairy tales, the truth about what happens after “happily ever after.” It’s a must-have for middle grade readers who enjoy their fantasy adventures mixed with the humor of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Witty black-and-white drawings by Todd Harris add to the fun.
3) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013. 2014 Pulitzer Prize)
presented by R.
It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
4) Natchez Burning (Penn Cage #4) by Greg Iles (April 2014)
presented by P.
5) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (May 2014)
also presented by P.
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.
6) Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce #5) by Alan Bradley (20113)
presented by S.
7) I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark (2007)
also presented by S.Kay Lansing grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, daughter of the landscaper to the wealthy and powerful Carrington family. One day, accompanying her father to work, six-year-old Kay overhears a quarrel between a man and a woman that ends with the man’s caustic response: “I heard that song before.” That same evening, young Peter Carrington drives the nineteen-year-old daughter of neighbors home from a formal dinner dance at the Carrington estate, but she is not in her room the next morning and is never seen or heard from again.Decades later, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Peter, not only for his neighbor’s disappearance but also for the subsequent drowning death of his own pregnant wife in their swimming pool. But when Kay Lansing, now a librarian in Englewood, asks Peter’s permission to hold a literary benefit cocktail party on his estate, she comes to see Peter as misunderstood…and when he begins to court her, she falls in love — and marries him. However, she soon makes a discovery that leads her to question her husband’s innocence. She believes that the key to the truth lies in the identities of the man and woman whose quarrel she witnessed as a child. What she does not realize is that uncovering what lies behind these memories may cost Kay her life
8) A Passage to India by E.M. Forster (1924)
presented by P.
When Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced ‘Anglo-Indian’ community. Determined to escape the parochial English enclave and explore the ‘real India’, they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim. But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects. A masterly portrait of a society in the grip of imperialism, A Passage to India compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world.
9) Malgudi Days by R.K. Narayan (2006)
presented by R.
Introducing this collection of stories, R. K. Narayan describes how in India ‘the writer has only to look out of the window to pick up a character and thereby a story’. Malgudi Days is the marvellous result. Here Narayan portrays an astrologer, a snake-charmer, a postman, a vendor of pies and chappatis – all kinds of people, drawn in full colour and endearing domestic detail. And under his magician’s touch the whole imaginary city of Malgudi springs to life, revealing the essence of India and of human experience
10) I, Claudius (Claudius #1) by Robert Graves (1934)
also presented by R.
From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54:
Considered an idiot because of his physical infirmities, Claudius survived the intrigues and poisonings of the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the Mad Caligula to become emperor in 41 A.D. Historical novel set in 1st-century-AD Rome by Robert Graves, published in 1934. The book is written as an autobiographical memoir by Roman emperor Claudius. Physically weak, afflicted with stammering, and inclined to drool, Claudius is an embarrassment to his family and is shunted to the background of imperial affairs. The benefits of his seeming ineffectuality are twofold: he becomes a scholar and historian, and he is spared the worst cruelties inflicted on the imperial family by its own members during the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula. Palace intrigues and murders surround him. Claudius’ informal narration serves to emphasize the banality of the imperial family’s endless greed and lust. The story concludes with Claudius ascending to the imperial throne. A sequel, Claudius, the God and His Wife Messalina (1935), covers Claudius’ years as Roman emperor.
11) 1913: The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies (2013)
presented by J.
“An absolute gem of a book.” –“The Observer
“Just before one of its darkest moments came the twentieth century’s most exciting year . . .
It was the year Henry Ford first put a conveyer belt in his car factory, and the year Louis Armstrong first picked up a trumpet. It was the year Charlie Chaplin signed his first movie contract, and Coco Chanel and Prada opened their first dress shops. It was the year Proust began his opus, Stravinsky wrote “The Rite of Spring,” and the first Armory Show in New York introduced the world to Picasso and the world of abstract art. It was the year the recreational drug now known as ecstasy was invented.
It was 1913, the year before the world plunged into the catastrophic darkness of World War I.
In a witty yet moving narrative that progresses month by month through the year, and is interspersed with numerous photos and documentary artifacts (such as Kafka’s love letters), Florian Illies ignores the conventions of the stodgy tome so common in “one year” histories. Forefronting cultural matters as much as politics, he delivers a charming and riveting tale of a world full of hope and unlimited possibility, peopled with amazing characters and radical politics, bristling with new art and new technology . . . even as ominous storm clouds began to gather
12) Death in Pont-Aven (Kommissar Dupin #1) by Jean-Luc Bannalec (April 2014)
presented by me
At the Central Hotel in Pont-Aven, Brittany, ninety-one-year-old manager Pierre-Louis Pennec is found murdered. Commissaire Georges Dupin and his team take on the investigation and narrow the list of suspects down to five people, including a rising political star, a longtime friend of the victim and a wealthy art historian. Further incidents – first a break-in, then another mysterious death – muddy the waters yet more. As Commissaire Dupin delves further and further into the lives of the victim and the suspects, he uncovers a web of secrecy and silence that belies the village’s idyllic image.
A summer hit in its original German, Death in Pont-Aven introduces readers to the enigmatic Commissaire Dupin, an idiosyncratic penguin lover and Parisian-born caffeine junkie whose unique methods of detection raise more than a few eyebrows. It is a book so atmospheric readers will immediately want to wander through the village’s narrow alleyways, breathe in the Atlantic air and savour Brittany’s seaside specialty dishes. Death in Pont-Aven is a spellbinding, subtle and smart crime novel, peppered with cryptic humor and surprising twists.
If you want to see my personal review, please come over here.