Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale

garagesaleWhat do our possessions ultimately mean to us?  Do they define us?  What can be determined by examining the things that we love?  What part do they play in our memories?

“You can know all about a person from the things they collect, the books on their shelves, the chairs in their parlor. … Let me into your house; I could write your life story.”

Faith Bass Darling wakes up one morning and gets a couple of neighborhood boys to carry all of her antiques, including countless genuine Tiffany lamps, out onto her lawn to be sold “for whatever you can afford to pay”.  Why?  Because God told her that this must be done today, her last day, and she and God have not spoken in a long time.  As people gather around to behold this spectacle, including her long-lost daughter, the deputy sheriff, and a priest, the history of the items up for sale, and the way that they have intertwined with the life of Mrs. Darling and her ancestors, is heart-wrenchingly examined.

As Faith struggles with the loss of her memories, and the regaining of others, and watches as her possessions and her life disappears, these are the questions that she contemplates.

“Without our memories, who are we? … I’d rather not have some of my memories, and God knows its been a small bit of grace not to remember them for long stretches of time.  But good or bad, they’re mine, they’re who I am.  And when the last one goes, what will I be? … No, I’ve wasted a lot of years wishing I were dead.  But that I won’t have.  I won’t be dead before I die.”

Title: Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale
Author: Lynda Rutledge
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 304
Publication: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, April 2012

The Bookseller

ImageHugo Marston is the head of security at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.  When he sees his friend Max, a bouquiniste, kidnapped at gunpoint, and the police are seemingly unwilling to investigate, Hugo has to take matters into his own hands.  With the help of a beautiful reporter, an old buddy in the CIA, and eventually a wary police officer, Hugo will get embroiled in a mystery that spans the Holocaust, drug running and corruption.  As more and more bouquinistes turn up dead, he rubs elbows with wealthy and important citizens, thugs, and becomes a target of violence himself as he searches for the truth of what happened to his friend and why.

I had a lot of fun reading this book.  I got to learn a lot about bouquinistes (booksellers of old and rare books setup in carts along the Seine), about collaborators and resisters during the Holocaust, and to read about Paris in winter (seems like it’s always been spring or summer there in everything else I’ve ever read!).  Now I really want to go to Paris to browse both sides of the Seine, preferably while eating some delectable pastry! Although I’m sure it would still be better to go in spring or summer!

The story moved along quickly, some of the characters could have been more well-developed (and therefore more sympathetic, liked, or at least hated) and I did figure out the ending before the end, but it was still a joy to get there!  I do look forward to reading the next book in this series to see if there is growth in the character development and a little more surprise in the ending.

Title: The Bookseller: The First Hugo Marston Novel
Author: Mark Pryor
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 300
Publication: Seventh Street Books, October 2012

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2013 TBR list!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week the challenge is to list the books that are on our “to-be-read” list for this spring.  My TBR list is always long, but I will try to pick out a good sampling of what I’m excited about.

  1. Inferno by Dan Brown – I’m sure everyone will be reading this, but I must admit to being a fan of Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code, so I am sure this will be one that I burn through in a weekend.
  2. Requiem by Lauren Conrad – The last book in a trilogy that I’ve been reading, one of those that I started when the first book was released and now, after two years, I will finally get to read the end of the story!  I hear mixed reviews, but I can’t NOT read it.
  3. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare – Another last book in a trilogy.  Another two years spent waiting for the end of the story…  Finally!  This is why I keep saying I’m not starting anymore trilogies until the last book is released!
  4. A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans –  This is the fourth book in The Walk series, and while I did not love the third one, I need to follow through and finish the story.  Seeing a pattern here?  I’m not doing this to myself anymore!
  5. Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz – I adore Odd Thomas!  This series is not one that I mind waiting for, each book has an actual non-cliffhanger ending even though you know the journey will continue.  With the quirky characters, these are must-reads for me!
  6. With or Without You by Domenica Ruta – My next book from my Indiespensables subscription!  It should be here in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait!
  7. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – I have seen a lot of pre-release press on this book and I enjoyed Started Early, Took My Dog so am looking forward to just plain old fiction, not part of a series, something different to contemplate.
  8. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell – I hear such great things about this collection of short stories that I can’t ignore it any longer!  I’m hoping that they will be good short reads for those instances where I don’t have the time to get absorbed in something longer.
  9. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger – I have the ARC of this sitting on my shelf and I am looking forward to a chance to read it – small towns, suspense, coming of age, all story elements I tend to enjoy.
  10. The Wonderful World of Oz by Frank L. Baum – I recently treated myself to the new collector’s edition box set of all of the Oz books.  Since these are on my series-to-read list I am going to start reading them aloud to the kids next week!  It’s been too many years (we are not going to talk about how many!) since I’ve read the first book in the series, and I am looking forward to sharing it with the family.

Just One Day

My resolution to not start a series until all of the books have been released went right out the window!  When I started this book I had no idea that there was going to be a second book, released in October, called Just One Year.  I didn’t realize it until I was half way through the book and happened to glance at the back cover – “Coming Soon!”  Seriously?!  Now I have to wait another 8 months for this story to end??  I HATE it when that happens!
just one dayAllyson is on a trip through Europe before starting college in the fall, boring, reliable, safe Allyson, when she meets Willem, a Dutchman performing Shakespeare, and agrees to spend a day with him in Paris.  Willem dubs her Lulu, and for that one day she allows herself to be, to feel, to experience, to love.

“Because that day with Willem, I may have pretended to be someone named Lulu, but I had never been more honest in my life.  Maybe that’s the thing with liberation. It comes at a price.”

When Allyson wakes up the next day and is unable to find Willem, she has to find herself.  Her one day in Paris changes her life and sends her on a year of self-discovery.

“Part of me knows one more day won’t do anything except postpone the heartbreak. But another part of me believes differently. We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.” 

Allyson is not the only character on a journey of self-discovery – her best friend tries on different personalities as casually as trying on shoes and abandons Allyson in the process.  Dee, her gay friend in college, is also trying to figure out who and how to be, who to show himself to, and what parts of himself to share.  Allyson’s mother is controlling and annoying, but as a mom myself I can appreciate her journey of figuring out who she is if her days are not absorbed with being Allyson’s mom.  How does a young adult break away and how does a parent learn to let go?

Just One Day was a joy to read (even if there is now an 8-month long cliffhanger!), although Allyson’s struggle to find herself does get a little annoying in the middle of the book where she seems to spend far too much time feeling sorry for herself and very little time trying to do something about it!  Having said that, I was racing to the end, found it to be a quick and enjoyable read filled with travel, friendship, and maybe even love…

   Title: Just One Day   
   Author: Gayle Forman   
   Genre: Young Adult Fiction
   Pages: 369
   Publication: Dutton Juvenile, January 2013

Because I <3 Kate DiCamillo!

I’ve mentioned my fondness for reading out loud to my kids.  We do occasionally read picture books; I find them fascinating, particularly the illustrations and the complexity that can be found in stories simply told.  But mostly we read chapter books out loud.  We have read everything from classics (Heidi, Little Women, The Secret Garden, Dickens, etc) to newer releases (Ungifted, Homesick, Liar & Spy, The Graveyard Book, etc).  I think we have all enjoyed everything that we have read together, there were no real losers, and we enjoy the time together regardless, but some of our favorites have been novels by Kate DiCamillo.  She weaves magical tales that are completely absorbing, include captivating illustrations, and are a pleasure to read aloud (Dickens – not so much!).  Since I believe we have completed all of her children’s novels, I thought I would share a summary of them and what I particularly loved about each.  Don’t dismiss these novels just because you don’t have kids – or because they’re too young or too old – these are great stories for any of us!
Image“The world is dark, and light is precious. Come closer, dear reader. You must trust me. I’m telling you a story.”  This is how The Tale of Despereaux begins and you are completely enchanted until the very end.  DiCamillo has written a modern-day fairy tale, the story of a mouse that is not like other mice, with his love of music, books, and the princess.  The story of a rat that lives in the darkness but is enchanted by light.  And the story of a slow-witted servant girl who simply wishes to be a princess.  Their stories all come together as the author directly tells you, the reader, this intertwining story in beautiful and thoughtful language.  While I loved all of her books, this was by far my favorite (a mouse that loves to read – how can you go wrong?).  The movie?  Don’t bother!

   Title: The Tale of Despereaux
   Author: Kate DiCamillo
   Genre: Children’s Fiction
   Pages: 272
   Publication: Candlewick, 2003

ImageEdward Tulane is a conceited china rabbit (yes – you read that right, but trust me – it works!) who is lost by his owner and goes on a journey of redemption, to learn of love and loss, from garbage piles to the bottom of the ocean to a hobo camp and beyond.  “Open your heart. Someone will come. Someone will come for you. But first you must open your heart…”

   

  Title: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
   Author: Kate DiCamillo
   Genre: Children’s Fiction
   Pages: 228
   Publication: Candlewick, 2006

ImageOpal moves with her father, the preacher, to Florida where she finds Winn-Dixie, a big, ugly, loveable dog who will be the friend she needs so desperately, while helping her to make friends in this new place.  She spends the summer learning the stories of Otis (the ex-con running the pet store), Franny (the local librarian), and Gloria (the blind woman who sees into Opal’s heart), while also using Winn-Dixie to get her father to tell her about her long-gone mother.  Opal will start to grow up, learn how to make friends, and begin to understand forgiveness, all with the help of a dog named after a grocery story.  “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.”  The movie based on this book is definitely worth watching AFTER you read the book (let’s face it – the book is ALWAYS better!).

   Title: Because of Winn Dixie
   Author: Kate DiCamillo
   Genre: Children’s Fiction
   Pages: 288
   Publication: Candlewick, 2000

ImageA fortune teller answers Peter’s question with an odd answer – an elephant will lead him there.  The question?  Peter is an orphan and wants to know if his little sister is still alive.  The same day, a magician will somehow conjure an elephant which will bring together the lives of Peter, a society matron, a beggar, the magician, a policeman, a sculptor, and a nun in a series of events that will eventually lead him to his answer, and will provide answers to others as well.  “That is surely the truth, at least for now. But perhaps you have not noticed: the truth is forever changing.”

   Title: The Magician’s Elephant
   Author: Kate DiCamillo
   Genre: Children’s Fiction
   Pages: 208
   Publication: Candlewick, 2009

ImageRob’s mother has died of cancer and he and his father move to Florida looking to find a new life.  Rob is terribly unhappy when he meets someone else new at school, Sistine, who is also struggling with the hope that her father is going to come and get her.  When Rob discovers a caged tiger in the woods, the events that follow will allow him to understand what it means to be free, to open up and forge a friendship with Sistine, learn to forgive his father, and deal with his grief.  “Rob had a way of not-thinking about things.  He imagined himself as a suitcase that was too full… He made all his feelings go inside the suitcase; he stuffed them in tight and then sat on the suitcase and he locked it shut. That was the way he not-thought about things.  Sometimes it was hard to keep the suitcase shut.  But now he had something to put on top of it.  The Tiger.  Rob imagined the tiger on top of his suitcase, blinking his golden eyes, sitting proud and strong, unaffected by all the non-thoughts inside straining to come out.”

   Title: The Tiger Rising
   Author: Kate DiCamillo
   Genre: Children’s Fiction
   Pages: 128
   Publication: Candlewick, 2001