December 5, 2013
Here's the latest issue of the BookBrowse Highlights newsletter to keep you up to date with some of the new books and authors featured at BookBrowse.
In addition to the usual features you'll find our Top Book Club Recommendations for 2014. You can also try your hand at our Big Holiday Wordplay which has just opened.
Thanks for reading!
|The Perfect Gift For Book Lovers
A BookBrowse Membership is the ideal gift for your book loving friends and family.
Your recipient will get a one-year subscription to BookBrowse giving him or her full access to everything we have to offer including our information-packed online magazine (26 issues/year); insightful reviews,"beyond the book" backstories, hefty excerpts and "if you like this, try these" recommendations for thousands of books, along with author interviews and book club chats.
They'll stay ahead of the crowd with previews of notable books before they publish, and will be able to browse for books by time period, setting and a wide range of themes, to find the books that are just right for them. In addition, they can keep track of books they've read and want to read in their personal reading list.
In addition, they can request free books to read and review (U.S. members only, members who choose to take part receive about 4 books each year).
Below is part of BookBrowse's review of
Red Sky in Morning
by Paul Lynch
Hardcover (Nov 2013), 288 pages.
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
To crack open the cover of Paul Lynch's debut novel,
Red Sky in Morning, and read the first paragraph is to hear the beginning notes of an old melody, resonant and echoing from an ancient landscape. The language seems to come from a time before the written word. It is sonorous, mystical and mythical, and with its forceful cadence, its vivid, startling imagery and word order, the reader is pulled immediately inside the dream:
Night sky was black and then there was blood, morning crack of light on the edge of the earth. The crimson spill sent the bright stars to fade, hills stepping out of shadow and clouds finding flesh. First rain of day and music it made of the land.
In his tome Orality and Literacy, Walter Ong says, "Written texts all have to be related somehow, directly or indirectly, to the world of sound, the natural habitat of language, to yield their meanings." This is, indeed, the world that Lynch inhabits in his work. It is the world, too, of Cormac McCarthy, and the comparison, particularly to McCarthy's earlier works, is inevitable
Red Sky Morning takes place in the peninsula of Inishowen, in County Donegal, Ireland. It is 1832, and Coll Coyle, "tight with rage," seeks out his landlord, Hamilton, who has capriciously evicted Coll's family from their home. In the ensuing confrontation, "something roiled in him like the white fever of river until his anger was foaming," and he kills Hamilton. "I canny pretend to myself nothing so I can't. I did it and so it is done," Coll tells himself. To save his life, he must flee, setting in motion the classic story of the hunter and the hunted.
Lynch does not spare the reader in the depiction of Hamilton's murder, or in his many other descriptions of violence, and yet his writing never crosses into the gratutitous. He describes a world that is violent by nature, and he describes it unflinchingly. As Alan Cheuse says in his NPR review, "Here, as is often the case in the work of our own Cormac McCarthy, the beauty and force of the language works congruently with the violence in the story."
The hunter in this case is John Faller, a hulking creature more archetype than human with, "his black boots shining and his cold eyes in their fixed position of smiling." Faller is a sociopath who kills for the pleasure of killing. He has a preternatural tracking ability, his presence, "like something colossal that moved outside the confines of measured time, a primeval heaving." The reader understands immediately that his shadow will be at Coll's back no matter where Coll flees, and that the journey of both men will lead toward a final and fateful meeting.
The book is loosely based on an historical event, the mystery of Duffy's Cut, that occurred during the building of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad [see Beyond the Book
]. After a perilous and squalid journey in the steerage of a ship, this is where Coll finds himself, in Pennsylvania, commandeered by Phillip Duffy to perform the backbreaking task of leveling a cut for the railroad out of the unyielding stone of a hillside. Coll and the rest of the immigrants are forced to live like beasts on a subsistance diet, their water foul and contaminated. In this place, Coll becomes anonymous, known only by his place of origin, Inishowen. Through Coll, Lynch exposes the plight of the Irish immigrant in nineteenth century America: exploited, vilified, and violently persecuted. He also exposes the poverty and exploitation the Irish faced in their homeland that forced them to seek a better life in America. As with Lynch's literary predecessors such as Walter Macken, the reader understands that the outcome of the tale is inevitably and tragically tilted toward the exploiter.
Reviewed by Naomi Benaron
|The Big Holiday Wordplay
To enter, decipher the 10 well-known or classic books and their authors from the clues below. E.g. the answer to 'T L O T R by J R R T' would be The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien:
There will be 5 winners. Four will be selected at random from the correct entries, one will be selected from all eligible entries - whether correct or not. So it is still worthwhile entering even if you cannot solve all the clues!
- B T T by K P
- G W T W by M M
- P: T S O A M by P S
- T C I T H by D S
- T H G by S C
- T I H Y L H by J D
- T J L C by A T
- T P T by N J
- T U P O H F by R J
- T W-U B C by H M
Winners in the USA will win their choice of 4 books from the currently available selection. Winners who are not BookBrowse members and live outside the USA will win a complimentary 1-year membership to BookBrowse.
Beyond the Book
At BookBrowse, we go 'beyond the book' to explore interesting aspects relating to each book we feature. Here is a recent "Beyond the Book" feature for A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks.
Sebastian Faulks's French Connection
It's no surprise that Sebastian Faulks might consider himself a Francophile. After all, a good number of his 14 books are set (or at least partially set) in France, including his three most famous novels, known as the "French trilogy": The Girl at the Lion d'Or
; and Charlotte Gray
, which in 2001, was made into a movie starring Cate Blanchette.
In 1961, when Faulks was eight, he first visited France with his family. He recalls in an interview, "...we stayed in Deauville, which was an old-fashioned resort in Normandy, in a boarding house... Very nice food, rather formal and there was something, I suppose, about France, even then, that did seem to me attractive or different in some way."
As a young man, in the year before he went off to university, Faulks returned to France and lived in Paris for three months and worked at a campsite in the Vendée region. However, it wasn't until he came back again in his mid-20s (this time with a car) that the country began to take hold of him. As he explains, "I think there was something about these places, you know, in northern France I'm talking about really, where these small towns and villages just excited me in a sense that the people who lived there had hidden lives, hidden passions, long, long, untold secrets. And they gave me a desire to write. They intrigued me, that part of my brain which deals with creative things would suddenly light up." In time he realized that he also loved the palpable sense of history found in France. "[I]t was like going back into the 1930s or even into the 1920s. It was like driving back into the past and I do think... it was that that really excited me about France."
In addition to the evocative landscape, Faulks acknowledges that French art (e.g. Impressionist painters), architecture, music (Ravel and Fauré), and literature - in particular, the works of Zola, Stendhal, Balzac, and Marcel Proust - have influenced his work. "[T]here's no doubt that the domestic detail of Proust was, as well the whole theme of Proust's novel, a catalyst for something in me." He began researching French history, and in 1984, after his first novel A Trick of the Light
had been published, he decided "to go the whole hog and actually set a book in France... And this book became The Girl at the Lion D'Or
. And in the course of writing it he says he "read quite a lot about French history of the 1930s."
More than anything else, however, Faulks points out that the most valuable thing France has offered him is a change in perspective; as he puts it, it "enabled me to become a writer by getting me out of my own culture". By Elena Spagnolie Above is BookBrowse's backstory to A Possible Life.
Read the review & backstory in full here
Top 2014 Book Club Recommendations
Please visit BookBrowse's blog for a dozen recommendations for your book club to read in 2014. All have already published in hardcover and ebook, and all will publish in paperback between January and April 2014.
In order to decide which are right for your book club, you can browse an excerpt of each and a range of review opinion. In addition, most have a handy printable reading guide.
Go to Top 2014 Book Club Recommendations
Before I Met You
by Lisa Jewell
Publication Date: Oct 2013
Enter the Giveaway
Buy at Amazon
From the Jacket
After her grandmother Arlette's death, Betty is finally ready to begin her life. She had forfeited university, parties, boyfriends, summer jobs-all the usual preoccupations of a woman her age-in order to care for Arlette in their dilapidated, albeit charming home on the English island of Guernsey. Her will included a beneficiary unknown to Betty and her family, a woman named Clara Pickle who presumably could be found at a London address. Now, having landed on a rather shabby street corner in '90s Soho, Betty is determined to find the mysterious Clara. She's ready for whatever life has to throw her way. Or so she thinks...
In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette De La Mare is starting her new life in a time of postwar change. Beautiful and charismatic, she is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But two years after her arrival in London, tragedy strikes and she flees back to her childhood home and remains there for the rest of her life.
As Betty navigates the ups and downs of city life and begins working as a nanny for a rock star tabloid magnet, her search for Clara leads her to a man-a stranger to Betty, but someone who meant the world to her grandmother. Will the secrets of Arlette's past help Betty find her own way to happiness in the present?
A rich detective story and a captivating look at London then and now, Before I Met You is an unforgettable novel about two very different women, separated by seventy years, but united by big hearts and even bigger dreams.
"Told in chapters that alternate between 1919-21 and 1995, Jewell unfolds each detail of Arlette's secret past with impeccable timing." - Publishers Weekly
"Family dynamics, the search for love and personal meaning, and the simple yet evocative daily motions of each woman keep the pages turning. Sure to be a popular title." - Booklist
"Beautiful, moving, and unputdownable." - Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You and Windfallen
"What a delightful novel! I was truly absorbed by Betty and Arlette. A wonderful perspective on the curiosity, confidences and deep affection that can exist between the generations. The story is ingeniously and seamlessly balanced within two different time frames, and the care Lisa Jewell devotes to the sense of place and the detailed fabric of each age gives her book a richness that both charms and moves." - Juliet Nicolson, author of Abdication and The Great Silence: Britain From the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age
"Jewell's many fans should eagerly embrace this story about two different women living in two different times whose lives converge in the most unexpected way... Family
"Lisa Jewell's latest escapist love story is heartbreakingly good." - Marie Claire (UK)
"GH favourite Lisa Jewell leaves the chick-lit tag firmly behind with Before I Met You, a poignant story about a young woman uncovering her grandmother's bohemian life in 1920s London - and finding her own place in the world in the process." - Good Housekeeping (UK))
"This is another emotional clever read from Jewell, beautifully written and populated with carefully constructed characters you'll be rooting for as you race through it... I couldn't put it down." - Sara Lawrence, Daily Mail (London)
5 people will each win a paperback copy of Before I Met You.
This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only, unless you are a BookBrowse member, in which case you are eligible to win wherever you might live.
Enter the giveaway
We have no new discussions opening until January on the assumption that people tend to be rather busy at this time of year; but we have 4 already open discussions - so please do join us to discuss any and all!
Our next new discussion will open on January 7
Happier at Home
Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life
by Gretchen Rubin
Summary & Reviews
1940s & '50s
See central column
for details of the
Big Holiday Wordplay
K High T A G
Knee High To A Grasshopper
Meaning: To be short, usually in the context of also being young.
Background: The first known recording of this expression was in the USA in 1814 as knee-high to a toad. Other forms include frog, bumblebee, splinter, mosquito, jackrabbit and, of course, grasshopper which can be found in The Democratic Review in 1851:
"You pretend to be my daddies; some of you who are not knee-high to a grasshopper!
Dec 03 2013:
William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called Intrepid and 90 Minutes at Entebbe, which he dashed off in a room at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, died on Nov. 26 in Toronto....(more)
Dec 03 2013:
The Supreme Court has declined to review the lawsuit by Amazon and Overstock challenging New York State's 2008 law requiring them to collect sales tax...(more)
Dec 02 2013:
The first ever Indies First event, proposed by Sherman Alexie just three months ago, has proved a great success. Last Saturday, Nov 30, more than 1000 authors handsold books at more than 400 indie bookstores, adding to the excitement generated by Small Business...(more)
Dec 02 2013:
Novelist Donal Ryan has won the 2013 Guardian first book award with an angry portrait of rural life in post-crash Ireland, The Spinning Heart. Steerforth will publish it in the USA in February...(more)
Read these news stories, and many others, in full.