Classic literature buffs are sure to enjoy this book. In Plotted: A Literary Atlas, author and San Francisco-based illustrator Andrew DeGraff has created 19 idiosyncratic and highly detailed maps based on the landscapes and locales in popular literature that offers readers a new way of looking at their favorite fictional worlds. Each chapter begins with a short essay by the book's editor Daniel Harmon with a somewhat philosophical look at some great classics.
Tracy Chevalier’s latest book At the Edge of the Orchard is set in the 1830’s and 1850’s in Ohio and California. One of the reasons that I like to read historical fiction is that I learn new things. And I learned new things about apple trees, redwoods, sequoias, and the real life people--Johnny Appleseed, William Lobb, and Billie Lapham from At the Edge of the Orchard.
Lily and the Octopus by debut author Steven Rowley is a book about a 12-year-old dachshund (Lily) who has a brain tumor (the octopus). Lily’s human, Ted, discovers Lily’s tumor but cannot face up to it so he calls it the octopus. Ted is a gay man who works as a freelance writer in Los Angeles and has ended his long-term relationship with Jeffery. Ted is a bit self-absorbed and sees a therapist to work through some emotional issues although the sessions are not helpful.
Heading to the beach this summer? The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews would make a perfect beach read. Set on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina, the author takes us on a wild ride of secrets, betrayal and deception. Written in her trademark blend of humor and warmth, and with characters and a setting you can't help but fall in love with, this book is a perfect summer escape.
I was drawn to the debut novelDodgers by Bill Beverly because of the great reviews and the possibility that there was a Wisconsin connection. There is not much of a Wisconsin connection, but I am happy that I read this novel. Main character East is a 15-year-old black teen living in Los Angeles who is a lookout for his uncle Fin’s drug house. When the house is raided, East is told to go with 3 other young men to kill a judge who was a key witness and who is hiding out in Wisconsin.
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith is inspired by a real-life 17th century female Dutch painter and alternates with the fictional story of a woman who was an art student in the 1950s. The character of Sara de Vos is based on the real Sarah van Baalbergen who was the first woman to be admitted to the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke in the Netherlands in 1631.
Popular Wisconsin author Jane Hamilton has written another book--The Excellent Lombards--a humorous story about family relations and growing up and featuring an endearing main character and a bittersweet ending. Set in the 1990s, main character Mary Frances Lombard (also known as Frankie or Francie) lives with her parents Jim and Nellie and her brother William in southeastern Wisconsin on their farmland.
If you are a fan of Jane Austen's works you might enjoy these authors' modern versions of some of her greatest classics. I finished Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld this weekend and I have to say I was impressed. The story was very well written and the author has some thoughtful commentary on modern society, which I think Miss Austen would have appreciated.
The second installment in her paperback Mystic Creek series, New Leaf by Catherine Anderson is another excellent read by one of my favorite authors. It is most definitely a romance novel, but the book also touches on some very real social issues trending in the world today; attitudes toward law enforcement officers, as well as how wealth and dishonesty can affect court decisions. I think the author addresses these issues in a very real and believable way.
If you like suspenseful stories with alternating chapters of "then" and "now", Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky should be your next read. The first few chapters get you hooked. There are two newlyweds, a shocking confession, and a murder scene in two different locations, New York and St. Lucia, and you will fight the urge to jump ahead because each chapter gives you just a little bit more of the story and leaves you hanging. Although the story is a bit grizzly at times it is an overall thrilling tale from beginning to end.