Some good books made their way to my house this week.
Alphabet Woof! by Sherrie Ann Madia
(From the author for review)
Alphabet Woof! is the story of Moxy the dog who eats magic soup and his wish comes true: He can talk! This gift leads Moxy and his family to some exciting adventures, but in the end, he realizes his greatest gift is not his ability to talk but rather, his ability to talk with the people he loves, who love him back. The story is fun and whimsical, but carries an important underlying message of family values and of understanding what really matters.
What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey
(From the publisher for review)
Journalist and spiritual seeker Philip Yancey has always struggled with the most basic questions of the Christian faith. The question he tackles in What Good is God? concerns the practical value of belief in God. His search for the answer to this question took him to some amazing settings around the world: Mumbai, India when the firing started during the terrorist attacks; at the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; on the Virginia Tech campus soon after the massacre; an AA convention; and even to a conference for women in prostitution. At each of the 10 places he visited, his preparation for the visit and exactly what he said to the people he met each provided evidence that faith really does work when what we believe is severely tested. What Good is God? tells the story of Philip’s journey–the background, the preparation, the presentations themselves. Here is a story of grace for armchair travelers, spiritual seekers, and those in desperate need of assurance that their faith really matters.
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
(Who can leave a bookstore empty-handed?)
In his biggest, boldest novel yet, Russo subjects a full cross-section of a crumbling Maine mill town to piercing, compassionate scrutiny, capturing misfits, malefactors and misguided honest citizens alike in the steady beam of his prose. Wealthy, controlling matriarch Francine Whiting lives in an incongruous Spanish-style mansion across the river from smalltown Empire Falls, dominated by a long-vacant textile mill and shirt factory, once the center of her husband’s family’s thriving manufacturing dominion. In his early 40s, passive good guy Miles Roby, the son of Francine’s husband’s long-dead mistress, seems helpless to escape his virtual enslavement as longtime proprietor of the Whiting-owned Empire Grill, the town’s most popular eatery, which Francine has promised to leave him when she dies. Miles’s wife, Janine, is divorcing him and has taken up with an aging health club entrepreneur. In her senior year in high school, their creative but lonely daughter, Tick, is preoccupied by her parents’ foibles and harassed by the bullying son of the town’s sleazy cop who, like everyone else, is a puppet of the domineering Francine. To further complicate things, Miles’s brother, David, is suspected of dealing marijuana, and their rascally, alcoholic father is a constant annoyance. Miles and David’s secret plan to open a competing restaurant runs afoul of Francine just as tragedy erupts at the high school. Even the minor members of Russo’s large cast are fully fleshed, and forays into the past lend the narrative an extra depth and resonance. When it comes to evoking the cherished hopes and dreams of ordinary people, Russo is unsurpassed.
Devil’s Trill by Gerald Elias
(Also from the bookstore.)
Daniel Jacobus is a blind, reclusive, crotchety violin teacher living in self-imposed exile in rural New England. He spends his time chain-smoking, listening to old LPs, and occasionally taking on new students, whom he berates in the hope that they will flee. Jacobus is drawn back into the world he left behind when he decides to attend The Grimsley Competition at Carnegie Hall. The young winner of this competition is granted the honor of playing the Piccolino Stradivarius, a uniquely dazzling three-quarter-size violin that has brought misfortune to all who possessed it over the centuries. But the violin is stolen before the winner of the competition has a chance to play it, and Jacobus is the primary suspect. With the help of his friend and former musical partner, Nathaniel Williams, his new student,Yumi Shinagawa, and several quirky sidekicks, Jacobus sets out to prove his innocence and find the stolen Piccolino Strad. Will he be successful? The quest takes him through the halls of wealth and culture, across continents to Japan, and leads him to a…murder. Devil’s Trill gives the reader a peek into the world of classical music, with its backstabbing teachers and performers, venal patrons, and shady violin dealers.
Mailbox Monday is taking a blog tour. This month’s host is Kathy at Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Head over there to see what goodies others got in their boxes and to share your own loot.
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