Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Circe by Madeline Miller, 393 pages

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

American Creation by Joseph Ellis, 283 pages

An ironic examination of the founding years of the United States of America. Historian Ellis guides readers thru the decisive issues of the nation's founding, and illuminates the emerging philosophies, shifting alliances, and personal and political foibles of now iconic leaders. He explains how the idea of a strong federal government, championed by Washington, was eventually embraced by the American people, the majority of whom had to be won over. He details the emergence of the two-party system--then a political novelty--which today stands as the founders' most enduring legacy. But Ellis is equally incisive about their failures, making clear how their inability to abolish slavery and to reach a just settlement with the Native Americans has played an equally important role in shaping our national character. Ellis strips the mythic veneer of the revolutionary generation to reveal men possessed of both brilliance and blindness. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel, 369 pages

A legendary ghost ship. An incredible treasure. A death-defying adventure.

Forty years ago, the airship Hyperion vanished with untold riches in its hold. Now, accompanied by heiress Kate de Vries and a mysterious gypsy, Matt Cruse is determined to recover the ship and its treasures. But 20,000 feet above the Earth's surface, pursued by those who have hunted the Hyperion since its disappearance, and surrounded by deadly high-altitude life forms, Matt and his companions soon find themselves fighting not only for the Hyperion—but for their very lives.

Desperate Households by Jan Eliot, 128 pages

Capturing the riotous and exhausting life of working mom Val Stone and her extended blended family . . . Jan Eliot has created a classic family story for our times." --"New York Newsday"
* Jan Eliot manages to find the humor in working parent hassles, the terrible twos, middle-school angst, love, and the life of the single mom in this all-color collection. The all-too-real humor of "Stone Soup" is very wise and very funny.
Distributed to more than 150 newspapers in six countries with over eight million loyal fans, "Stone Soup" is a funny, irreverent, sympathetic comic strip that mirrors today's complicated family life . . . while cheering us on.
* Jan Eliot's "Stone Soup" follows the riotous and exhausting life of working mom Val, her daughters Holly and Alix, and her often too-close-for-comfort extended blended family . . . conveniently living right next door.

This Might Not Be Pretty by Jan Eliot, 190 pages

This Might Not Be Pretty is the seventh collection of the comic strip Stone Soup. Stone Soup is a syndicated comic strip by cartoonist Jan Eliot. It appears daily in 200 newspapers in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. This Might Not Be Pretty features Jan Eliot's cartoons in full color. Stone Soup chronicles the constant chaos and misadventures of working moms Val and Joan, who also happen to be sisters. With their extended and blended families, they try their best to navigate modern life... and bring comic relief to the daily disasters we all experience. Val and Joan's two households, separated by only a fence, are a constant source of comfort— and irritation— to each other. The Stone family includes a middle-school diva and her tomboy little sister; a bouncing-off-the-wall three year old and a teenage boy cousin, their patient but bewildered stepdad; and an opinionated grandmother. And of course, there's a dog. Readers will see themselves or someone they know in this book.

Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison, 423 pages

Kat Stanford is just days away from starting her dream antique business with her newly widowed mother Iris when she gets a huge shock. Iris has recklessly purchased a dilapidated carriage house at Honeychurch Hall, an isolated country estate located several hundred miles from London.

Yet it seems that Iris isn't the only one with surprises at Honeychurch Hall. Behind the crumbling facade, the inhabitants of the stately mansion are a lively group of eccentrics to be sure--both upstairs and downstairs --and they all have more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet.

When the nanny goes missing, and Vera, the loyal housekeeper ends up dead in the grotto, suspicions abound. Throw in a feisty, octogenarian countess, a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles, and a treasure trove of antiques, and there is more than one motive for murder.

As Iris's past comes back to haunt her, Kat realizes she hardly knows her mother at all. A when the bodies start piling up, it is up to Kat to unravel the tangled truth behind the murders at Honeychurch Hall.

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, 451 pages

This is America, a town of a few thousand, in a region of wheat and corn and dairies and little groves. So Sinclair Lewis, recipient of the Nobel Prize and rejecter of the Pulitzer, prefaces his novel Main Street. Lewis is brutal in his depictions of the self-satisfied inhabitants of small-town America, a place which proves to be merely an assemblage of pretty surfaces, strung together and ultimately empty.