Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Find in catalogRebel Queen is a historical novel narrating the fight of Queen Lakshmi, Jhansi’s ruler in North India.  It’s the beginning of the British Raj.  All types of depredations are taking place as the British attempt to take land and wealth from the small, independent Indian states.

The heroine, a warrior like her namesake Sita, faces a life as temple harlot or training for the Durga Dal, Queen Lakshmi’s personal guard.  That includes ability to ride, shoot bow and arrow and a gun as well as entertain the Queen.  Fortunately, Sita’s father has a love of Shakespeare, and he has taught his bright daughter to read and speak English.

The issues of unwanted girl children, still a problem among lower classes in India because of dowries, complicates Sita’s life when her mother dies giving birth to a second girl.

Because Michelle Moran [Nefertitit and Cleopatra’s Daughter] writes so well, this book is a treasure.  I returned a book about Amazon women because the writing was so haphazard and spotty.  Moran’s prose embellishes rather than detracting from the storyline.

The issue of the homosexual Raja, Lakshmi’s husband, is dismissed at his death when he tells Queen Lakshmi, “I should have been you.”  Queen Lakshmi dismisses their marital troubles, “Next time.”  There’s a lot to be said about belief in reincarnation in that reply.

Love, love, love this novel.  Hope you will, too.

A Map of Tulsa by Benjamin Lytal

A Map of TulsaThis is a coming of age story about an Oklahoma middle class kid who falls in love with an oil heiress who lives the wild life and aspires to art and music. After a summer affair ends, he carries the thought of her (like a totem that has some private meaning in his life) into his superficially successful NYC literary life. The story frays for me as Lytal sorts through the main character’s relation to the girl’s father, her corporate aunt, and her long time boyfriend/soulmate, and all the local kids who stayed behind in Tulsa. The dialog strives to be realistic and thus fails to hold together. Why do I want to hear what sloppy thinkers have to say?

Reviewed by Teresa

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefIf I was told I could read only one other book for the rest of my life, I would choose The Book Thief – and I would hardly be upset. The language is masterful: poignantly beautiful, elegantly simple, and searingly powerful. The premise for the book is unique and tragic and achingly human. Ironic, considering the novel is narrated by Death. The Book Thief chronicles the life of a young girl growing up in Nazi, Germany, from the perspective of Death. This book is one of those everyone of every age, should be sure to read in their lifetime. More than once, if possible. While reading, you will find yourself slowing and even stopping, wanting to savor the perfection of the words, or digest the magnitude of emotion and implication captured in a single, misleadingly simple sentence.

Reviewed by Maddy

The History of Love: a novel by Nicole Krauss

She said “I’m reading a book, about a book, called the History of Love.”  He asks “What’s it called?”  “The History of Love” she repeats.  “No, what’s the name of the book you’re reading?” he asks.  “The History of Love” 

Confused?  That’s part of what will happen if you read this book.  But you also might marvel at all the types of love found within daughterly love, unrequited love, young love, jealous love, confused love, love motivated by fear or lust. You might come to feel we’re all made of every different type of love.

Intriguing authors and books fill the pages of this story. I find myself using Google to sort out which walk with us in life and which live only between the pages.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Jennifer

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

This Pulitzer Prize winning author’s new novel relates a love triangle in the 1980s between an English major and two young men in love with her. All the characters are complicated, each one being egocentric and other-centric in turn while they negotiate life entering adulthood. Manic depression hounds one of them. The parents are a mix of set-in-their-ways, maddening, and supportive in turn, also. An especially interesting part to me was the spiritual search of at least one character and emphasis on religious acts and/or spiritual realities. I thought the book too long by at least 50 pages but still enjoyed the read and recommend it for what it is.

Reviewed by Laura R.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

Three characters, three separate stories all tied up in hope and despair and love. Lynnie, mute and locked up in an asylum. Martha, a 70 year old retired school teacher, caring for a newborn child for the first time in her life. Buddy, black and deaf, intelligent and uneducated, is running for his life, trying to get back to Lynnie. Well written by an author able to convey each of their stories with compassion and insight, giving us a glimpse of their thought and hopes and dreams.

Reviewed by Kate

Love for No Reason by Marci Shimoff

The subtitle of this book is “7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love.”  While we are often loving for good reason (e.g., they are treating me well, or I’d like to give something to them, and perhaps they will benefit from love), the focus here is on love for no reason at all.  The object is to experience who we are at the highest level, i.e., we are love and are meant to experience love always and function best being love.  Her 7 Steps are based on the commonly known 7 chakras of the body.  The organization of the book is a different chapter dedicated to exercises meant to involve each different chakra to further the unconditional love.  This is a text that I could not just read and be done with.  In fact, I decided that to do the book justice, I need to purchase it and work through the many thoughtful exercises in a time frame that promotes growth, not simply a rushed timeframe for the library return date.  I would recommend this book, but I have not yet finished it.

Reviewed by Laura

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giula Melucci

This is a heartwarming memoir of a successful book publicist in search of a man with the marrying type of love….She hilariously recounts the highlights and ‘lowlights’ of her relations with a string of suitors and her heroic (?) efforts to win them.  Coming from a large, loving Italian family with plenty of love for food, she intersperses her stories with recipes she made for her partners.  She never disparages or analyzes herself, but simply describes her actions with tongue in cheek, and I found myself wanting to call out to her…”No, don’t keep doing that!” and the like.  It’s so much easier to see patterns in other people!!  I enjoyed this book from the beginning to the very last morsel.

Reviewed by Laura