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    Book Club in a Bag


    by Jasna Tosic - 0 Comment(s)

    "If you produce one book, you will have done something wonderful in your life."

    Jacqueline Kennedy

    Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994) has been an icon for over fifty years. Many of us are familiar with images of the young, perfectly coiffed First Lady wearing stylish outfits, pearls and matching pillbox hats. We have seen her in evening gowns and long gloves; in candid shots playing with her children; and waving from the Presidential motorcade the day that her husband, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated and America’s Camelot era ended. We know that she was the mother of Caroline Kennedy and the late John F. Kennedy, Jr., and that she became known as “Jackie O.” after marrying wealthy Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.

    We know a lot about the first part of her life, but who was she when her identity was no longer tied to the men she married?

    She outlived her first husband by thirty years, and her second husband by twenty years. In 1975, widowed and wealthy, with her two children then in their teens, the 46-year old Jackie needed an identity of her own. Journalist Jimmy Breslin gave her this advice: “You should work as an editor. What do you think you’re going to do, attend openings for the rest of your life?”

    Despite her lack of experience, Jackie applied for a job as an editor with Viking Publishing and was hired. She later moved to Doubleday Publishing, and worked her way up to being their Senior Editor. She was enthusiastic about her clients, and their books. She even promoted a book about Marilyn Monroe, mistress of John F. Kennedy, and one about opera singer Maria Callas, a former lover of Aristotle Onassis. Books became her passion, and in the nineteen years she worked in the field, she edited almost one hundred titles.

    The Calgary Public Library has ordered a newly released title about this period in Jackie’s life:

    Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence

    Other titles which may interest you:

    What Jackie Taught Us: Lessons from the Remarkable Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Tina Santi Flaherty

    The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

    Farewell, Jackie: a Portrait of Her Final Days by Ed Klein

    Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: a Life by Donald Spoto


    Notable Novels of 2010

    by Patti Nouri - 0 Comment(s)

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

    Stieg Larsson

    The exhilarating conclusion to bestseller Larsson's Millennium trilogy (after The Girl Who Played With Fire ) finds Lisbeth Salander, the brilliant computer hacker who was shot in the head in the final pages of Fire, alive, though still the prime suspect in three murders in Stockholm. While she convalesces under armed guard, journalist Mikael Blomkvist works to unravel the decades-old coverup surrounding the man who shot Salander: her father, Alexander Zalachenko, a Soviet intelligence defector and longtime secret asset to Säpo, Sweden's security police. Estranged throughout Fire, Blomkvist and Salander communicate primarily online, but their lack of physical interaction in no way diminishes the intensity of their unconventional relationship. Though Larsson (1954–2004) tends toward narrative excess, his was an undeniably powerful voice in crime fiction that will be sorely missed. From Publishers Weekly


    Jonathan Franzen

    "The awful thing about life is this:" says Octave to the Marquis in Renoir's Rules of the Game. "Everyone has his reasons." That could be a motto for novelists as well, few more so than Jonathan Franzen, who seems less concerned with creating merely likeable characters than ones who are fully alive, in all their self-justifying complexity. Freedom is his fourth novel, and, yes, his first in nine years since The Corrections. Happy to say, it's very much a match for that great book, a wrenching, funny, and forgiving portrait of a Midwestern family (from St. Paul this time, rather than the fictional St. Jude). Patty and Walter Berglund find each other early: a pretty jock, focused on the court and a little lost off it, and a stolid budding lawyer, besotted with her and almost burdened by his integrity. They make a family and a life together, and, over time, slowly lose track of each other. Their stories align at times with Big Issues--among them mountaintop removal, war profiteering, and rock'n'roll--and in some ways can't be separated from them, but what you remember most are the characters, whom you grow to love the way families often love each other: not for their charm or goodness, but because they have their reasons, and you know them. From Amazon

    Beatrice & Virgil

    Yann Martel

    Nearly 10 years in the making, Yann ­Martel’s follow-up to the Man Booker Prize–­winning Life of Pi divided critics, earning some of the most scathing reviews of the year. But the critical drubbing didn’t turn off Canadian readers, who made Beatrice & Virgil one of the best-selling novels of the year. It also proved that, in today’s risk-averse publishing­ climate, a book with ­commercial aspirations – Martel is rumoured to have scored a $3-million advance – can still take risks and challenge readers. Beatrice & ­Virgil is, among other things, a metafictional satire of the publishing industry, a parable about human cruelty and suffering, a meditation on the limits of representation, and a self-reflexive work of fiction that alludes to Beckett, Dante, and Orwell’s Animal Farm. Whether or not it lives up to expectations is for readers to decide, but it deserves to be read, debated, and grappled with. From Quill & Quire

    Wolf Hall

    Hilary Mantel

    Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction & winner of 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction

    Henry VIII's challenge to the church's power with his desire to divorce his queen and marry Anne Boleyn set off a tidal wave of religious, political and societal turmoil that reverberated throughout 16th-century Europe. Mantel boldly attempts to capture the sweeping internecine machinations of the times from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, the lowborn man who became one of Henry's closest advisers. Cromwell's actual beginnings are historically ambiguous, and Mantel admirably fills in the blanks, portraying Cromwell as an oft-beaten son who fled his father's home, fought for the French, studied law and was fluent in French, Latin and Italian. Mixing fiction with fact, Mantel captures the atmosphere of the times and brings to life the important players: Henry VIII; his wife, Katherine of Aragon; the bewitching Boleyn sisters; and the difficult Thomas More, who opposes the king. Unfortunately, Mantel also includes a distracting abundance of dizzying detail and Henry's all too voluminous political defeats and triumphs, which overshadows the more winning story of Cromwell and his influence on the events that led to the creation of the Church of England. From Publishers weekly

    To the End of the Land

    David Grossman

    A major, internationally bestselling novel of extraordinary power about the costs of war from one of Israel's greatest writers. Set in Israel in recent times, this epic yet intimate novel places side by side the trials of war and the challenges of everyday life. Through a series of powerful, overlapping circles backward in time, it tells the story of Ora's relationship with her husband, from whom she is now separated, as well as the tragedy of their best friend Avram, a former soldier - and her son's biological father. When her son Ofer rejoins the army for a major offensive, Ora is devastated and decides to hike in the Galilee, leaving no forwarding information for the "notifiers" who might deliver the worst news a parent can hear. She phones Avram, whom she has not seen in 21 years, and convinces him to go with her. As they journey together, Ora unfurls the story of her family, and gives Avram the gift of his son - a telling that keeps the boy alive for both his mother and the reader. Never have we seen so vividly the surreality of daily life in Israel, the consequences of living in a society where the burden of war falls on each generation anew. David Grossman's rich imagining of a family in love and crisis makes for one of the great anti-war novels of our time.

    Best Graphic Novels 2010

    by Jasna Tosic - 0 Comment(s)

    X'ed Out [vol. 1] by Charles Burns

    From the creator of Black Hole comes the first volume of an epic masterpiece of graphic fiction in brilliant color.
    Doug is having a strange night. A weird buzzing noise on the other side of the wall has woken him up, and there, across the room, next to a huge hole torn out of the bricks, sits his beloved cat, Inky. Who died years ago. But who is nonetheless slinking out through the hole, beckoning Doug to follow.

    The Exile : an Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon

    A luscious full-colour graphic novel - written by #1 New York Times bestseller Diana Gabaldon - that offers a completely new look at the originalOutlanderstory. The Exile retells the original Outlander novel from Jamie Fraser's point of view, revealing events never seen in the original story and giving readers a whole new insight into the Jamie-Claire relationship. Jamie's surreptitious arrival in Scotland at the beginning of the tale, his feelings about Claire, and much more - up to the point where Claire faces trial for witchcraft and must choose whether to return to her own time.

    Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin

    Welcome to Burden Hill-a picturesque little town adorned with white picket fences and green, green grass, home to a unique team of paranormal investigators. Beneath this shiny exterior, Burden Hill harbors dark and sinister secrets, and it's up to a heroic gang of dogs-and one cat-to protect the town from the evil forces at work. These are the Beasts of Burden Hill-Pugs, Ace, Jack, Whitey, Red and the Orphan-whose early experiences with the paranormal (including a haunted doghouse, a witches' coven, and a pack of canine zombies) have led them to become members of the Wise Dog Society, official animal agents sworn to protect their town from evil.

    Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka

    A new era begins as Batwoman is unleashed on Gotham City! Marked by the blood-red bat emblem, Kate Kane is a soldier fighting her own private war - one that began years ago and haunts her every waking moment. In this first tale, Batwoman battles a madwoman known only as Alice, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, who sees her life as a fairy tale and everyone around her as expendable extras! Batwoman must stop Alice from unleashing a toxic death cloud over all of Gotham City - but Alice has more up her sleeve than just poison, and Batwoman's life will never ever be the same again.

    Batman: Life After Death by Tony S. Daniel

    Tony Daniel returns to the BATMAN series as the new writer and artist after his best-selling BATTLE FOR THE COWL miniseries! With Batman pounding the pavement in search of a new crime figure calling himself Black Mask and the completion of the new Arkham Asylum looming close, Gotham City has reached a boiling point! But when pandemonium breaks out at the inaugural ceremony of the new Arkham Asylum, the combined forces of Oracle, Huntress and Catwoman aren't enough help for Batman and The Caped Crusader takes on an unlikely ally - The Penguin! Chock full of fan-favorite characters and the debuts of new supporting cast members, this high-speed adventure is sure to hit the spot for Batman fans who like their comics bursting with mystery, action and fun.

    Off the Shelf

    by Jasna Tosic - 0 Comment(s)

    Human Traces

    Sebastian Faulks

    By Judith Umbach

    Perhaps hearing disembodied voices is a gift, not a psychopathology. Could the carrying of voiced instructions in our heads be the true mark of being human? Occasionally, it all goes wrong and we call it mental illness. Yet, the interior hearing of the voices of our loved ones, our leaders, and our past selves is so common as to be universal.

    In his novel, Human Traces, Sebastian Faulks explores our understanding of the human mind in the framework of early psychological research at the turn of the last century. At the story’s beginning, Jacques is a boy who would be considered abused in our times but who then was considered to be a farm labourer, the natural course of family life in rural France. His older brother, Olivier, has descended into madness, kept shackled in the barn for his and the family’s safety. A friendly local priest rescues Jacques from his fate of subjection and frustrated ambition, giving him an unorthodox education.

    Thomas is a bright, eccentric English boy - loved by his family, given wide-ranging freedom to explore his world, and educated according to upper-middle class standards. On holiday in France, the two boys meet and in the way of some friendships, they become immediately inseparable. For life.

    As professional medical men, and with Sophie, Thomas’s sister, then Jacques’ wife, they establish a therapeutic spa in central Europe to treat the exhausted, the psychosomatic, and the mentally ill. The three owners demonstrate a sensible approach to the economics of business, in order to achieve Jacques’ goal of first caring-for and then curing his brother. The men are determined to advance the knowledge of psychiatric factors in illness and wellness.

    Faulks occasionally strays from his fictional style to speak almost directly to the reader about the early research in this field; however, since the information is interesting in light of our more sophisticated current knowledge, this is easily forgiven. Human Traces is a fascinating, slow-moving novel, in which we share the false starts and tiny progressions towards a better understanding of ourselves.