Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu with its unique title reveals the struggle and importance of preserving the ancient transcripts of an old and threatened culture. The scheming and actions taken to hide the valuable documents makes for a good non-fiction read of intriguing content.
If you grew up as I did, watching Saturday matinees like King Solomon’s Mines, The Lost World, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, then you will love David Grann’s Lost City of Z. In it he tells the story of one of the last great Victorian explorers, Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett. Sponsored by Britain’s Royal Geographical Society, Fawcett set out to locate an ancient civilization in the remote reaches of the Amazon. For more than 20 years he explored, fighting piranhas, electric eels, jaguars, vampire bats and anacondas as he searched the Amazon– an area around the size of the United States — in the hopes of discovering the ruins of a city with highly advanced art and culture. He called it the City of Z. Grann writes this factual account with skill and passion- you will get swept up in the adventure, and invested in the outcome.
Soon to be released as a movie- I cannot wait to see how it has translated onto the big screen. Saturday matinees are back!
Hello, My Name is Doris (DVD, 2016)
It’s always great fun watching Sally Field act her heart out as she does in this entertaining little film. The story focuses on an older, single woman who finds herself alone after her mother dies and subsequently struggles to find a new path for herself and claim her own personality. While the plot doesn’t hold together in places and too often lapses into wince-worthy stereotypes regarding women-of-a-certain age, Sally manages to find gold in every scene. The photography is bright and clear, co-stars are all well cast and believable (watch for Kumail Nanjiani as the quietly hilarious office colleague), and Sally’s costumes are fascinating assemblages (except for the 4-inch designer heels). Max Greenfield as the unsuspecting love interest strikes an impossibly believable note as a Manhattan nice guy. An enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half, watching an old friend do her inimitable thing.
A sweeping, riveting novel that takes on multiple issues from infertility, to adoption, to undocumented immigrants, to economic entitlement and entrenched racism. Sekaran’s writing style varies with each character’s voice but ultimately weaves a gripping tale of heart wrenching choices in contemporary America. Set in California, the novel focuses on new mother Soli who is in the country without proper documentation, wanna-be mother Kavya whose parents immigrated to the U.S from India, and one small child who is desperately loved.
A book of friendships, motherhood, and hope similar in style to Jodi Picoult and the best of Nora Roberts. The story focuses on single mother Alice who faces a sudden health crisis that she must come to terms with personally while racing to ensure a positive future for her teenage daughter who struggles with emotional issues. The quickly paced plot is sensitive to adolescent and mental health issues and takes a realistic look at the impacts of cancer treatment but can feel overly contrived in spots. A great vacation/beach read.
A lovely, quiet film that focuses on a lonely baker in contemporary Japan who is struggling with personal issues. Unexpected help comes from a quirky elder and a shy adolescent. Sweet bean refers to the special filling of the pastries made in the small bake shop. The photography and acting are particularly well done. In addition, a unique and disturbing aspect of recent Japanese history is slowly revealed and explored. Based on the Japanese novel An. Starring Kirin Kiki and Masatoshi Nagase. Directed by Naomi Kawase. Shown at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.
The Girl on the Train
I really enjoyed this book. Well, maybe not enjoyed. But I found it fascinating. The main character was very flawed, and in such human ways, that my heart broke for her, over and over again. The other characters were not quite so well fleshed out but they are very much peripheral and often serve as background to the titular character’s unfolding drama.
I have not seen the movie yet and am not sure I want to, but if you are looking for a confronting book full of despair and anger, look no further.
This book was fantastic! A thrilling survival story with a hearty dose of humor. The main character Mark was such a sarcastic hero and I LOVED IT. The voice and the premise hooked me in right away and kept me thoroughly engaged the whole time. My only real issues were that some of the minor characters didn’t really stand out as much as they could have, and some of the science heavy bits were a little hard to follow and felt info-dumpy at times. But the human aspect–the heart of the story–was totally on the money.