Synopsis: An antisocial New Jersey librarian with an unusual power moves to Florida to be near her brother and sister-in-law. Shortly after her move, she is struck by lightning, and volunteers to be part of a university study of strike victims. It is through this study that she forms friendships and carries out a secret, steamy (no pun intended…ha ha) affair with a reclusive strike victim. Finally, she learns the meaning of sacrifice when she must make an important decision about her lover’s identity and privacy.
I read this book last year for an assignment that prompted us to examine how librarians were portrayed in the media/pop culture. I expected it to be full of cheesy stereotypes, but I was in for a surprise. This book was wildly entertaining and contains some beautiful imagery of the state of Florida.
If you’re looking for more substantial beach/travel reading than, say, Danielle Steele novels, I highly recommend this book (and her other novels, a couple of which will be featured on this blog in the coming months). I guarantee you’ll be captivated by Hoffman’s ability to take interesting details and combine them to create a meaty stew of a story that you don’t want to end. Is “meaty stew” a bad analogy for summer reading? Probably. But I really can’t think of any other way to describe the satisfaction I got from reading this book.
This collection of short stories by Alice Munro features women dealing with difficult matters of the heart as they face sickness, death, loneliness, infidelity, broken hearts, and renewed love. The stories are set in Munro’s native Ontario, Canada. I’ll be up front with you: this book will leave you with an insatiable hunger for some lighthearted entertainment. It’s probably best to read it story by story with small breaks in between. The plots are all too real. Munro seemed to focus on the most private aspects, good or bad but mostly bad, of her characters’ psyches as they react to life’s valleys.
My two favorite stories were “Comfort” and “Queenie.” “Comfort” is about a woman, Nina, whose husband took his own life after battling MS. Her husband, a high school teacher, had fought to keep Creationism out of the school curriculum. After his death, Nina tries to keep his principles alive, but it comes at a significant personal cost. I liked “Queenie” because the characters were around my age. Queenie is an 18 year old who marries a grumpy old man for whom she was a caretaker before his first wife passed away. Her once-close stepsister follows her to Toronto to keep an eye on her and try to understand why Queenie made such a terrible decision.
Despite its heavy-handedness, what makes this book great is how well Munro plays out her characters’ thoughts and emotions. She is extremely detailed in this aspect. You can probably relate to (at least one of) the characters because what they are going through is real, and no thought or emotion is hidden. Their reactions are irrational and surprising at times, and the stories can be a bit anticlimactic, but they are not beyond the scope of reality, and that is something I can appreciate.
The first book in the series.
If the term “vampire novels” makes you cringe a little, I understand. It may conjure images of Bella, Edward, Jacob and crazed fangirls. The Twilight novels aren’t for everybody.
May I suggest the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris? “But…they’re about vampires,” you argue. I know, and I am asking you to ignore the trendiness and give them a chance if you have an inkling of interest.
This series documents the life of Sookie Stackhouse, a 26-year-old human cocktail waitress living in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie has a special talent that alienates her from the rest of her community, but things change when she meets one of her neighbors: a handsome vampire named Bill Compton. Romance, action, horror, and mystery ensue when she starts moonlighting (no pun intended) for Bill’s vampire friends.
Why you might like them: Sookie is a strong, self-confident heroine who doesn’t rely on her vampire friends to save her. She can take a punch, kick, or stake like a champ. She has Southern charm, but never hesitates to speak her mind. As for the vampires: they don’t sparkle. They live amongst humans who know what they are (even if they don’t accept them).
Books in the series, in order:
- Dead Until Dark
- Living Dead in Dallas
- Club Dead
- Dead to the World
- Dead as a Doornail
- Definitely Dead
- All Together Dead
- From Dead to Worse
- Dead and Gone
- Dead in the Family
If you like these books, you might also like the TV show, True Blood. Season 3 starts June 13 on HBO. Please note that the TV show is based pretty loosely on the novels.