Mary Ann’s April Recommendation

Painted GirlsThe Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The characters in this novel are based on a real family of sisters who worked in the Paris ballet world in the late 1880’s, the Belle Époque. One was the model for Edgar Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.

When you think of Degas’s ballet painting, do you think of lovely, delicate dancing girls?  Look closer – many are exhausted, gritty, and rather unattractive.  Buchanan weaves her story around these girls. 

Other Degas portraits and newspaper accounts of murders and art exhibits are woven into the story.

The reading experience is enriched by a website that shows the paintings referred to in the text.  http://www.cathymariebuchanan.com/art

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Sue’s April Recommendation

Burgess BoysThe Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

“The Burgess Boys by Pulitzer prize-winning Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteredge) is a complex, but fast moving story about two brothers and a sister with an early tragedy that shapes their lives and their relationships with one another.  They are drawn together some 40 years later when the sister’s 17 year old son throws a pig’s head into a mosque of recently arrived Somali refugees to a very white Maine community.  Strout is a good storyteller and this would be a great book discussion title.  The siblings are not always likeable, but they feel very real.  Strout uses some interesting secondary characters to enhance their dysfunctional relationship, their weaknesses, their intelligence and ultimately, their goodness.”

Lisa’s March Recommendation

Calling Me HomeCalling Me Home by Lisa Kibler

“I highly recommend “Calling Me Home” by Julie Kibler.  It is similar to “The Help” in subject, although it does deal with a biracial relationship. I loved it”

You can find the publisher’s summary as well as more reviews on this title from the library catalog. 

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg

                                                   The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue by Barbara Samuel

                                       Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund

Victoria’s March Recommendation

Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweetHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

From Kirkus Reviews- “Sentimental, heartfelt novel portrays two children separated during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. In 1940s Seattle, ethnicities do not mix. Whites, blacks, Chinese and Japanese live in separate neighborhoods, and their children attend different schools. When Henry Lee’s staunchly nationalistic father pins an “I am Chinese” button to his 12-year-old son’s shirt and enrolls him in an all-white prep school, Henry finds himself friendless and at the mercy of schoolyard bullies. His salvation arrives in the form of Keiko, a Japanese girl with whom Henry forms an instant and forbidden bond….A timely debut that not only reminds readers of a shameful episode in American history, but cautions us to examine the present and take heed we don’t repeat those injustices.”  Click here for the full review.

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

Dorothy’s March Recommendation

Mornings on HorsebackMornings on Horseback by David McCullough

“Extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man.  From Kirkus Review: “those familiar with the story of the puny, sickly boy (Teddy Roosevelt) who made himself over by will power alone have the most to look forward to. That is not, for one thing, what McCullough found in the thousands of Roosevelt family letters. But he does not merely offer another, more complex and fine-tuned interpretation; he has embedded it in the true-life equivalent of a Russian novel of relations and generations, of mood and moment (whence those “”mornings on horseback”” at Oyster Bay) and               shaded characterization.”

3 Similar Reads (Non-Fiction)

An Hour Before Daylight by Jimmy Carter

Truman by David McCullough

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

Rome and RhetoricRome and Rhetoric by Garry Wills

I read this to get ready to see Julius Caesar at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Wills explains how Shakespeare uses classic rhetorical devices in the dialogue of Brutus, Caesar, Cassius  and Antony. He adds information about Shakespeare’s sources and the actors in Shakespeare’s company.  I found this a fine preparation for seeing the play.

3 Similar Reads (Non-Fiction)

      Roman Culture; weapons and the man by Garry Wills

                                                Essential Shakespeare Handbook by Leslie Dunton-Downer

                                                                Reinventing Shakespeare by Gary Taylor

Sara’s March Recommendation

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo LanaganThe Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

“If you’ve read any if Margo Lanagan’s other works, especially Tender Morsels, you understand her love of creating new and strange fantasy worlds that subvert old fairytales and are grafted on top of our own reality. The Brides of Rollrock Island delivers that strange and beautiful (an often unsettling) experience again. While this book is considered YA I would definitely recommend this book for adult readers as well.

3 Similar Reads (YA Fiction)

                                               Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

                                           Witch and Wizard by James Patterson

                                               Talking to Dragons by Patricia Wrede