Current Picks: Book Reviews

Denise

Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde (2006)
By the author of Pay it Forward, this story takes place over the course of 25 years. Three characters take turns telling their side of the story:
  • Pearl, who, at the age of thirteen, has a son, Leonard;
  • Leonard, whose mother disappears when he is 5 years old;
  • Mitch, their 25-year-old neighbor, who takes on the responsibility of caring for Leonard after his mother disappears.
  • It explores the meaning of family, the power of love, and the difficulty some people have in expressing it. The characters just draw you in from start to finish.
    Mary

    Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

    Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez (2007)
    An engaging, fast read about a hairstylist’s volunteer work in Afghanistan. On her first mission to Afghanistan, “Miss Debbie” is inundated with requests from other Americans to cut their hair! She realizes she has a skill to teach Afghan women which provides them with money, and a sense of self worth. An uplifting read that offers a true glimpse of life in Kabul.

    Listen to an NPR interview with the author.
    Tags:
    Jennifer

    Dark Assassin by Anne Perry

    Dark Assassin by Anne Perry (2006)
    In Anne Perry’s fifteenth book featuring William Monk, the detective witnesses a couple engaged in a heated debate before they fall in the River Thames to their death. Was it murder? Suicide? Monk, with help from his wife Hester, is determined to find out, which leads to the discovery of a larger issue that could destroy all of London.
    IPPL Staff

    A Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale

    A Fine Dark LineA Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale (2003)
    In East Texas in the late fifties, 13-year-old Stanley Mitchel’s father owns a drive-in at the edge of town. Stanley finds the remains of a burnt out mansion and a cache of hidden love letters in the wooded area behind the theater. When he also finds out that two young girls died mysteriously the night of the fire twenty years before, Stanley investigates.
    Mary

    The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

    The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton (2007)
    Fiona Sweeney, a 36-year-old Brooklyn librarian, jumps at the opportunity to travel to Kenya to manage a bookmobile service to the nomadic bush people. Traveling by camel, Fi brings the written word to Mididima, her favorite stop. Hamilton captures the traditional nomadic life beautifully. The clash between Fi’s well-intended help and this traditional culture raises interesting questions.

    Visit the author's website to find out the story behind the book, read an excerpt and reviews, or view photographs.
    Denise

    Amazing Gracie by Dan Dye

    Amazing GracieAmazing Gracie by Dan DyeThis is a great book for any dog lover! It’s the touching and humorous story of Gracie, a lovable, deaf, albino Great Dane who is rescued by the author. Her finicky eating habits were the impetus behind the creation of the successful business, Three Dog Bakery. Dye is an entertaining storyteller, who reminds us how animals can touch our lives in amazing ways. This book had me laughing and crying!
    IPPL Staff

    Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

    Bridge of SighsBridge of Sighs by Richard Russo (2007)
    Louis Lynch lives in the same small upstate New York town he has always lived in. He loves the town, his wife, his business, and the memory of his father, a big, simple bear of a man, dead many years from the cancer that haunts the polluted town. A possible visit to to see childhood friend and famous artist Bobby Marconi brings out all of Louis’s long held insecurities. A dense story of character.

    Listen to Russo's October 1 interview on NPR or read an excerpt of his latest work.
    Mary

    The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby

    The Faith ClubThe Faith Club by Ranya Idliby (2006)
    Three women: a Muslim, Jew, and Episcopalian, begin an interfaith dialogue. Their intention is to write a children’s book showing the interconnection of these Abrahamic traditions. In the process, each woman embarks on a journey of understanding and questioning her own spirituality as well as prejudices.

    Visit the authors' website for a reading group guide, information about the authors, interfaith links, and more.
    IPPL Staff

    Making Money by Terry Pratchett

    Making MoneyMaking Money by Terry Pratchett (2007)
    As one of the Discworld series, the book follows the continuing adventures of Moist von Lipwig, “reformed” con man, as he takes over Ankh-Morpork’s banking industry. With his usual flair for sadistic characters and dry humor, Pratchett has produced another book that makes you laugh out loud!

    Also check out the author's website for a Discworld travel guide, characters and themes by title, and miniseries information.
    Denise

    I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson

    I'm a Stranger Here MyselfI’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson (1999)
    This book is a collection of columns that Bryson wrote for a British newspaper upon his return to the US, after living in England for 20 years. In his very humorous way, he makes comparisons between the two countries and many funny observations about various aspects of American life. It provided many laugh-out-loud moments.
    IPPL Staff

    Zugzwang by Ronan Bennett

    ZugzwangZugzwang by Ronan Bennett (2007)
    In German, zugzwang is a term used in chess to describe a position in which a player is reduced to a state of utter helplessness. The action is set in pre-Revolutionary Russia: St. Petersburg, 1914. Dr. Otto Spethmann is a psychiatrist who is drawn into a murderous intrigue and an intriguing romance. It’s a deadly game, but good read.
    IPPL Staff

    Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

    Her Royal SpynessHer Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (2007)
    In 1930, Lady Georgine is 34th in line for the English throne. Even though she is penniless, royalty just do not get jobs. Georgine starts a specialized maid service, opening and dusting the London townhouses of the landed gentry before they come up to town. However, Georgine’s only employee is herself. As a maid, invisible to people of the upper classes, Georgine finds herself in awkward positions, overhearing conversations and actually stumbling onto a dead body in this fun mystery.