Sunday, 28 June 2015

Tea and books on a rainy weekend...

It’s been raining almost non-stop since yesterday around noon, which is not so much fun if you are trying to get out and do things, but it has been excellent weather for reading and for meeting a friend for a hot beverage and some good conversation about books and kitties.  

Yesterday afternoon I went to Nougat Bakery to meet with a friend I used to work at the library with.  We each had a Chai Latte in a big ceramic cup, a “two-hander”, and she had a delicious chocolate-glazed butter tart - YUM!  We had great conversation about our kitties and about books, and I think she’s been convinced to read The Tale of Despereaux this summer - she knew what “chiaroscuro” meant right away!  

Speaking of Despereaux, now that the summer break has begun, I have a  two stacks of Juvenile and Young Adult titles to read in search of a couple of books that would make good readalouds for my Grade 4 classes at each school.  Despereaux was great, but it was too long - it took us the whole year to finish, so I’m hoping to find a couple of others that are shorter but still interesting and fun to read.  One of the titles, which I’ve read before but not for many years, is The Bad Beginning, the first in the “Series of Unfortunate Events” books by Lemony Snicket.  Another is the first in the “Hank Zipper” series by Henry Winkler (remember him?  He played “The Fonz” in “Happy Days” - who knew he was also a writer?!)  I also like to start the new school year off with a couple of book talks for the older grades, classes I don’t get to interact much with throughout the rest of the year.  One book I have to read is Shattered Glass by Gail Giles, which is described as “suspenseful and disturbing” - sounds like the type of book I really enjoy!  I also have another book in the “Seven” series to read, and an Eric Walters YA title, Visions.  So I expect to be busy reading these titles and more over the summer, while still reading adult selections.

As I sip my chai tea, I want to tell you about a book I read last week.  The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango opens with bestselling writer Henry Hayden’s discovery that his mistress is pregnant.  Betty, his editor, springs this news on him during a clandestine meeting at the cliffs, a regular meeting place for the couple.  She wants to know when he will tell his wife, Martha, and how she will react.  He wants to know how he ended up in this situation in the first place.  She thinks it’s great news, he thinks his life is over.  In an effort to find a solution, he commits a grave mistake.  Now the police are after him, and his facade begins to crumble.  Who is really behind the mask that is talented, likable, admirable Henry Hayden? Circumstances threaten to reveal his double life and expose his past to the world, as Henry races against time to cover his tracks and keep his secrets, doing whatever it takes to remove any obstacles that get in his way.  While reading this novel, I was reminded of those great noir films of the 1940’s and ‘50’s, like “Double Indemnity” and “Out of the Past”, where all is not what it seems, and you are reminded that you can only run from your past for so long before it finally catches up with you.  This debut novel by German television writer Arango is dark and, at times, macabre, but there are moments of brilliance that show his is a writer of great talent.  As we witness the deterioration of Henry’s environment, we see, too, the deterioration of his soul, and by the end, we, like Henry, are not sure what is true and what are lies.  While I felt that the writing was a bit uneven and parts of the story were beyond belief, I can see that this would have appeal for readers who enjoy books in the noir genre.  A couple of reviews I read online about this book compare it to The Dinner and The Silent Wife.  I would agree with  The Dinner, but The Silent Wife?  Not so much. I didn’t love it, but it was compelling, and the author clearly has talent, so I would say he is definitely a writer to watch.

The book we are discussing next week for my book club is J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, and I’ve just barely started it.  It’s nearly 500 pages, so I better hope for many more rainy days this week in order to finish in time!

Have a great day, and Happy Reading!
Bye for now…
Julie

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