Hip, Hot & Happening – October Book Club Pick

October is upon us and to celebrate we selected our October Book Club Pick to beMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Childrenby Ransom Riggs.

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Join us at one of our sessions to discuss this spook-tacular book.

Wednesday, October 17 from 2-4 pm or Thursday, October 18 from 7-9pm

Stephen King’s 11/22/63

If you were ever a reader of Stephen King novels, you’ll probably remember his earlier works as being quite different from writings that came later in his career. I loved his early novels, but stopped reading him a while back—sometime after It I think. He just got weird. There was no more of the psychological thriller stuff that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up, no more of the “who IS this guy” kind of characters. Things started coming out of sinks and clowns were doing despicable things and it just got too weird and creepy and bloody. So I stopped reading his books.

Then in 2009, Under the Dome was published and I started hearing talk that this book was more like his earlier works, more like The Stand and The Shining. People who, like me, had given up on King were reading him again and liking what they were reading. I didn’t read it…I wasn’t convinced enough to plow through 1,074 pages just to discover it was more weird stuff.

Fast forward two years to 2011 and along came King’s latest novel, 11/22/63.  Like Under the Dome this book was getting very positive reviews. As soon as I saw the book and read the premise behind the story, I wanted to read it. But at 842 pages I put it on my to-read list and looked longingly at it from time to time, thinking “When will I ever find time to read THIS?” Fast forward another year to spring of 2012, when my neighborhood book club chose 11/22/63 to be our September selection. I had found my opening! Thank you book club! It was a great read and I was through it in no time-I didn’t want to put it down. 
The story centers around time travel which is a difficult concept to wrap my head around. This time travel is even stranger to comprehend because when the protagonist, Jake Epping, steps through a time portal into 1958, he always steps into the same place and it’s always exactly the same time. And no matter how long he stays in the past, when he returns to the present, only 2 minutes have gone by. Lastly, each time Jake returns to 1958, the past has reset itself!
Of course the reason for his trip back in time is the real story. Jake is going back to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on 11/22/63. It’s also a wonderful tale showing how life can change in a split second….how one short moment in time, one small change, can alter a whole lifetime.

Jake returns to 1958 in Derry, Maine and begins his life there as George Amberson. Before beginning the long involved journey that will eventually lead him to Dallas, George decides to prevent the murder of an entire family he had learned about from one of his GED students in 2010. He only manages to accomplish part of his task and begins to discover that the obdurate past is going to resist change in very dramatic ways. George must make a hasty retreat “back to the future”. When he once again steps through the portal into 1958, he begins to notice very slight differences—and the reader begins to wonder what affect George’s changes to history will have.

Because time resets itself when he returns to 2010, George can go back and this time successfully complete the job he set out to do in Derry. He is now able to begin his preparation for stopping the event on 11/22/63 that he knows will change the world. His planning involves following the activities and life of Lee Harvey Oswald, his family, and his acquaintances. Paramount to his plan is making sure that Oswald acted alone that day. So a lot of actual history is revisited in this novel.

George insinuates himself into life in a small suburb of Dallas. He begins to really become a part of the community and the time and therein lies a mess of really big problems. 

Without spoiling things and revealing how the story ends, I will say that King’s vision of time travel does take into account the fact that changing something in one reality will certainly bring change to another reality. The changes may or may not be for the better.

So readers, if you were a Stephen King fan go back and give him another chance. If you’ve never read his work, this is a good one to start with. King actually started this book back in the 70’s so you’ll be treated to a thriller very similar in style to those early works—the ones that made the hair on our neck stand up. And I promise….it doesn’t feel like 842 pages!! 


Hip, Hot & Happening – Book Club

This month’s book club pick will be Amor Towles’Rules of Civility.  We are so excited about sharing this book with all of you.  It is a favorite of everyone in the Bookshop.

September book clubs will meet Wednesday, September 19 from 2:00-4:00pm and Thursday, September 20 from 7:00-9:00pm.

You can find Judy’s book review of Rules of Civility on a this blog post from earlier this year.  You can also listen to Sam’s radio interview with Amor Towles on iTunes.

We know you all are going to enjoy this book and we look forward to a great discussion.

This Week in the Bookshop – The First Edition Club

Did you know that we have a number of first and limited edition club books?  Once a month the members of the First Editions Book Club receive a signed first edition of a new work of fiction by an emerging author who shows exceptional talent and promise.  June’s signed first edition is Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins.

Sam recently interviewed Jess Walter for his weekly radio broadcast, The Avid Reader.  You can listen to the podcast of his interview on iTunes.

Here is what Sam has to say about the book:

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, is literally one of those few books that you can’t put down.  It is April of 1962.  The catastrophic set of “Cleopatra” sets the opening of this novel.  A dying American actress, an extra in the film, arrives in a town so small that it exists primarily as a rumor.  Dee Moray, one of the book’s numerous protagonists, a beautiful blond, enters Porto Vergona and immediately smites young Pasquale Tursi, the  proprietor of the adequately named “Hotel Adequate View”.  A shared moment between the two creates the link that unites them and the book itself, together for a lifetime.  Reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”, the book’s magical narrative leads us deeper and deeper into the realization that the moments of our life, combine, or stand alone, to shape our very existence, our personalities and our fates.
Suffice it to say that this book enthralled me, and will you.  Listen to my interview with Jess Walter and hear him explain the nuances of his work and the muse that led him to write this, which, along with A Visit From the Goon Squad are my picks as the two best books of the year.

Tinkers by Paul Harding– an interview

In 2010, the Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Tinkers, a 185-page novel that’s written almost like poetry. The heart of this story is the tragedy of an abrupt and unexplained estrangement between a father and his son. It’s an incident cautiously explored but usually avoided by the two men: father Howard, a tinker (or, as Paul Harding puts it, the humblest kind of traveling salesman) and son George, who finds pleasure putting together old clocks. Tinkers doesn’t stray, for the most part, from the consciousnesses of its characters, so that we follow wandering trains of thought rather than any particular plot line. But Harding creates a driving sense of narrative tension in his descriptions of Howard. At one moment, Howard is full of kindness and warmth, and in the next, he seems impossibly distant from his young family. His epileptic seizures make for some of the most vivid and intense scenes I read all year, but they’re a source of terror for himself and those around him.

Paul Harding was interviewed by Sam on the Avid Reader in November. His thoughtful answers made us love Tinkers even more! Check out the interview at this link.

Like our podcast? Write us a review on iTunes! just search for the Avid Reader.