Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Elizabeth Wein’s last book, Code Name Verity, was one of my favorite reads of 2012 (you can read my review here). I’ve been eagerly looking forward to her follow-up book, Rose Under Fire, ever since. It doesn't disappoint.
Rose Justice grew up on her father’s Pennsylvania airfield and learned to fly as a young girl. When World War II broke out, Rose’s British uncle pulled some strings to get Rose admitted to the British Air Transport Auxiliary, where she and other women pilots fly non-combat missions, freeing up the male pilots for wartime flying.
After the liberation of Paris in 1944, she’s flying in France when she goes astray and gets taken by the Germans. Rose Under Fire tells the story of her ordeal in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Over 30,000 women were imprisoned at Ravensbrück. They included Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, lesbians, and political prisoners (like Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian who hid Anne Frank).
Notoriously, around 80 of the Polish prisoners were subjected to cruel, often crippling medical experiments. Known as Kroliki (Polish for “rabbits”), those who survived the experiments were protected and cared for by the other women inmates. When, in the waning days of the war, the Germans began exterminating the prisoners of Ravensbrück, inmates hid the Kroliki, secretly moving them from barracks to barracks in an effort to keep them alive.
In Ravensbrück, Rose suffers from overcrowding, cold, hunger, and the constant fear of violent death. She also finds a desperate, determined community of women there, and takes part in the terrifying efforts to protect the Kroliki.
Rose Under Fire is an absorbing and suspenseful tale of resilience and sacrifice during the one of the darkest episodes of the War. I love the historical setting and exciting plot, and it’s my opinion that no one writes about the complicated friendships of women better than Elizabeth Wein.
You don’t have to read Code Name Verity before Rose Under Fire, but these books are so good - why not read both?
Monday, December 9, 2013
Greta Wells is a 30-something photographer whose life has come to a shuddering halt. It is Halloween night, 1985. Greta's twin brother Felix has just died of AIDS and his beloved partner Alan is now sick. To make matters worse, Nathan, her lover of ten years, has walked out on her. Only Greta's eccentric Aunt Ruth is the one stabilizing force in her life.
After falling into a debilitating depression, Greta undergoes electroshock therapy. Her doctor cautions she might experience certain feelings of detachment, but Greta is not prepared for what happens next. Over the course of twenty shock treatments, Greta travels back and forth in time.
It is Armistice Day, 1918, and Greta Michelson's husband Nathan has just returned home from the war. New York is in the grips of the Spanish Influenza and despite his shell-shocked condition, Nathan dives into his medical practice treating victims of the outbreak. Greta's brother Felix haunts the city's men's haberdasheries seeking furtive intimacy. Her eccentric Aunt Ruth is the one stabilizing force in her life.
A few weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Greta Michelson is severely injured in a car accident, in which her Aunt Ruth, the one stabilizing force in her life, is killed. Her brother Felix, about to marry a senator's daughter, has been having an affair with Alan, the family attorney. And Greta's husband Nathan spends far too many evenings away from home.
Three Gretas. Three lives. And one fascinating journey into the heart of grief, love and what it takes to mend a woman's broken soul. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is a hard book to describe but an easy one to dive into and enjoy. I did.
And you can reserve it here.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Newport Library now subscribes to the online edition of Value Line, one of the most respected names in investment research. Since 1931, The Value Line Investment Survey has followed hundreds of stocks in its portfolio, charting their performance and investment potential.
Patrons of Newport Library now have access to the complete investment survey. Our subscription also includes overview and commentaries sections which discuss portfolio additions, highlight stock picks and contain articles on the macroeconomic outlook as well as trends within specific industries.
Stock screens can be used to pick stocks based on a variety of variables including p/e, dividend growth expectations, industry growth projections, among others. Patrons can enter the stock name or ticker symbol under “Quotes.” Clicking on “View Full Research Report” brings up a pdf of the Value Line report for that stock. You can also view the complete report survey, or survey chapters, by clicking on “Investment Survey” and scrolling down to any chapter. This includes the small and midcap survey.
If you are new to investing, click on ‘Investment Education” and work through Value Line’s four-part tutorial. The Minot Public Library in North Dakota offers a great You Tube video which covers many features of the Value Line online subscription. You can access that tutorial here.
Value Line is available both in the library or from your home computer with your Newport Library card number. Navigate to the Newport Library homepage and click on “Databases.”
The Value Line subscription is a gift of the Newport Library Foundation.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Historical fiction, with the history easily digested into a good story, is one of my favorite genres. So when I grabbed Sara Donati’s “The Endless Forest” off the New Books shelf after work, all I knew about the book was the enticing cover. Much to my chagrin, when I got home, settled into my reading chair and opened it up, it was the sixth book in a series! Oh well, I read it anyway (it was a rewarding tale) then immediately tracked down the first book in the Bonner family saga, Into the Wilderness.
Reading all the books in the series found me engrossed in the ups and downs of the Bonners and their lives in upstate New York from 1790 to 1824. Wars, love, hate, sex, adventure, intrigue, pirates and fluid storytelling made me very happy I’d found Donati’s books. Then the series ended! And she hasn’t written other books.
But wait. She has, only they are published under her real name, Rosini Lippi. Sarah Donati is the pseudonym Lippi uses when writing historical fiction. Lippi is an academic linguist, editor, researcher and former university professor. All of which explains her delicious attention to linguistic and historical detail. She does dialects very well as evidenced by her Scots dialect in book 3 of her Bonner family series, Dawn on a Distant Shore. Finding this on her blog led me to her literary novel, Homestead, a saga of the villagers in the Austrian village of Rosenau. Told as interconnected stories of women living in the village over the course of decades, Lippi’s attention to detail and language found me lingering over the words and images they evoked. This, her first novel, was awarded the PEN/Hemingway award. Now I’m on to the rest of her backlist.
I highly recommend the “Wilderness Novels” for fans of Diana Gabaldon’s historical fiction.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
|From Oregon Digital|
|From Oregon Digital|
Monday, November 25, 2013
The nights are getting long and cold, which makes it the perfect time of year to snuggle up with a blanket, a hot drink, and an engrossing story. I have an excellent cozy winter recommendation for you.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, quiet bookish Margaret Lea is hired by Vida Winter, the most famous novelist in England, to write her biography. But Winter has lied to everyone who has ever interviewed her - journalists by the dozens have been sent away with dazzling stories of her youth, only to find them to be complete fabrications. Margaret is not convinced that she will be any different. In fact, Margaret is not sure what Vida Winter is actually up to.
The tale the elderly author recounts seems too extraordinary to be true: two beautiful but strange twins, their equally lovely and possibly mad mother, their definitely mad and horrible uncle, their bewildered servants. And is there a murderer in the house as well?
The Thirteenth Tale partakes joyously of the gothic novel tradition, and is in many ways an explicit homage to both Jane Eyre (which you know I love) and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Like those books, it features:
- a big house full of locked doors
- strange children
- windswept moors
- a governess who ought to watch her step
It’s also a book about stories - the importance and centrality of reading, books, and stories in people's lives. If you love stories too, then fix yourself a mug of something hot, and wrap yourself in the mysteries of The Thirteenth Tale.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
If there is a thing I truly despise, it is being addressed as ‘dearie.’ When I write my magnum opus, A Treatise Upon All Poison, and come to ‘Cyanide,’ I am going to put under ‘Uses’ the phrase ‘Particularly efficacious in the cure of those who call one ‘Dearie.’’
-Flavia de Luce, the Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series offers mystery, intrigue, and more chemical reactions than you can shake a Bunsen burner at. The youngest of three sisters, Flavia scorns the more traditional passions her sisters Ophelia and Daphne pursue (music and literature, respectively), instead throwing herself with characteristic abandon into the study of chemistry (particularly the manufacture of poisons) in her long-dead Uncle Tarquin’s Victorian laboratory. She has a knack for finding murder victims and (maybe because she appropriates evidence?) is often several steps ahead of the local constabulary in cracking cases.
It may seem odd at first to read an adult mystery novel by a retired Canadian gentleman who writes from the perspective an 11-year-old English girl sleuth, but you get over it pretty quickly. Flavia is some sort of rare and difficult genius, but she’s funny, brave, and endearingly naive. Each addition to the series is as well-written and minutely researched as the first, dealing with such varied subjects as postage stamps, puppetry, religious cults, movie stars, and saints. So go ahead, dearies, pick up the first book and reserve the others, because once you start you'll want to read them all! (And keep an eye out for the upcoming BBC series!)