Books for January 2010

A Country Called Home by Kim Barnes
Idaho writer Kim Barnes tells the story of Thomas Deracotte, a medical student who marries Helen over the objections of her stuffy parents. They move to a farm in Fife, Idaho where Deracotte plans to open his medical practice, but he gets so enamored with the land and building a house and barn that he puts it off. For a long, long time. Meanwhile, Helen misses her family and running water. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to Elise. Enter the hired hand, Manny, who, after a family tragedy, helps raise Elise and take care of Deracotte who has become dependent on drugs. Dark drama doesn’t begin to sum it up.

It’s A Dog’s World –The Savvy Guide to Four-legged Living by Wendy Diamond
Thank you Random House for the advance reader copy of Diamond’s latest book. Wendy Diamond is without a doubt the best friend a dog can have – she’s worked tirelessly for animal welfare and written a great guide to all things “dog.” A worthwhile read and an excellent gift for a new doggie parent.

Prairie Reunion by Barbara J. Scot
I was all snuggled up, ready to read a book that was on the ‘recommended memoir reading’ list I had recently dug up from a creative writing workshop I took at Boise State University. Although the workshop was years ago, I figured the book list was still a river of gold waiting to be dredged. Wrong. Scot has a good story, but just doesn’t have the skill to tell it. Choppy sentences, nonsense poetry and can we nail a point once in awhile-- is that too much to ask?

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
Elizabeth Philpot is forced to move from expensive London to the less than fashionable coastal town of Lyme Regis after her brother marries, and the couple wants the family home all to themselves. Along with her two sisters they settle into their cozy cottage. Elizabeth befriends a young local girl, Mary Anning who shares her interest in fossils. In fact Mary is somewhat of an expert and finds several new species along the coast line. Like the sea, their friendship ebbs and flows over the years, but eventually both find their place in the town, and history. A very interesting look at Victorian England and early fossil hunters, plus a decent read. Chevalier also wrote the Girl with a Pearl Earring, which in my opinion is a much better book.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Sisterly rivalry, love, sex, power, and historical fiction --all the makings of a great, easy read. Gregory tells the story of Anne Boleyn, her sister Mary and their brother George who are all brought to the king's court at a young age – mainly as pawns in their uncle's plans to advance the family fortune. Mary, the narrator and “the other Boleyn girl,” wins King Henry VIII's favor when she is barely 14. Their affair lasts several years, and she gives Henry a daughter and a son. But her sister, Anne, soon displaces Mary as his lover and begins her scheme to rid him of his wife, Katherine of Aragon. Of course we all know what happens to Anne.

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