Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

> Dave Eggers has written a riveting novel about one man’s experience during Hurricane Katrina that needed to be told. Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian by birth, traveled the world early in his life, but choose New Orleans as the city to settle in, marry and raise a family. He experienced the nearly annual hurricane predictions and resultant weather for years as he kept his construction company expanding and growing. Every time hurricane warnings sent multitudes fleeing, Zeitoun choose to stay and protect his business and others homes. Katrina was no exception.

The story that Dave Eggers relates is not just a sad, deluge story. It is the story of a total breakdown of society and the imprisonment of an innocent man. By writing this book, Zeitoun, hopefully a future disaster such as Katrina will be handled with more humanity.

A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh

>

Reginald Mason, the son of a wealthy coal merchant, has finally pushed his father too far with his extravagant spending and gambling debts. Lady Annabelle Ashton has scandalized her deeply indebted father with an attempted elopement with the coachman, ruining her chances for an advantageous marriage. These two neighbors have never been allowed to socialize or even meet, but now their fathers decide that they must get married. The insults start flying from their first meeting, but they recognize their mutual lack of choice in making this forced marriage work. This little froth of a novel is Balogh at her best.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

>

What do you get when you add a dash of time travel to an old-fashioned who-done-it mystery? To Say Nothing of the Dog is a wild romp through the Victorian era, World War II, and the future with a fascinating cast of characters and the mystery of the missing bishop’s bird stump. Ned Henry, prominent Oxford historian, has been traveling through time searching for historical pieces for the cathedral being reconstructed in the year 2057. After suffering from severe time-lag, he’s sent to the Victorian era to rest and recover away from the watchful eyes of Lady Shrapnell, the dominant force behind the cathedral. He doesn’t get much rest, but his adventures will keep you engrossed as he tries to preserves the space-time contiuum with the help of a dog, a cat, a violet covered box, and his beautiful fellow time-traveler Verity.

Strength in What Remains

>

It is difficult walking in the path of Deogratias, a Burundi Tutsi, as Tracy Kidder relates Deo’s life story in Strength in What Remains. Tracy Kidder has written a book not easily forgotten just as was his previous book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, about Dr. Paul Farmer the humanitarian doctor that has met the medical needs of the underserved all over the world, especially the poor in Haiti. Kidder’s latest book about the Tutsi/Hutu genocide sheds light into the history of this conflict and is Deo’s first hand account of the terror, however it is an uplifting story of forgiveness and hope.

Deo is in medical school in Burundi when the violence breaks out. He spends six months running for his life then is saved by his connection to a fellow student with a wealthy father. Deo makes his way to New York City. A major part of the book is his difficult time in NYC where he knows no one and can only communicate in French. He finds only the very lowest paying jobs and finds sleeping in Central Park preferable to the rat infested tenements. HIs mind is constantly battling the flashback demons of genocide, yet he finds the strength to apply his brilliant mind to study and fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor.

The help he receives from generous New Yorkers renews his faith in people and he resolves to overcome the past, forgive and help the very people that persecuted him.

The Alchemaster’s Apprentice

>Rarely have I enjoyed reading a book as much as I’ve enjoyed Walter Moers’s The Alchemaster’s Apprentice. I simply never wanted it to end. This zany fantasy novel has everything that I relish most in a story: loveable characters, adventure, peril, mystery, and a talking cat. Pardon me – a talking Crat. In Moers’s weird and wonderful land of Zamonia, Crats are clever creatures that look like ordinary cats but can speak any language. This is a skill that comes in handy for our hero Echo the Crat, who finds himself starving on the streets after the death of his owner. To stave off death – at least temporarily – Echo is forced to strike a bargain with Ghoolion the Alchemaster, a diabolical alchemist who also happens to be a master chef. Ghoolion promises to house Echo for one month, educate him in the ways of alchemy, and feed him on sumptuous gourmet dishes. In return, Echo must surrender his life at the next full moon so that the Alchemaster can use his fat in an alchemical potion. Despite the hefty price, the homeless Crat agrees to the bargain. But once he gains a new lease on life, Echo begins seeking a way out of the pact and must rely upon his sharp wits and good-naturedness – as well as his friendships with such creatures as Leathermice, Ugglies, and Cooked Ghosts – to defeat Ghoolion and his wicked plans.

The Alchemaster’s Apprentice is a great treat for anyone whose imagination and sense of humor has kept them young at heart.

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi

>

John Dodge makes his living by moving to a new place, saving a small business, then selling it and moving on. His family is concerned about his inability to settle down, but he can’t seem to stop the restlessness that begins after a few months in a new place. His latest move is to a small town in South Carolina that is full of characters. He is most intrigued by the pajama-wearing owner of Cocoon, a bedding and pajama shop, Julia Darrow. She is friendly but distant to everyone in town. Dodge can’t help but try to figure out the mystery, even if the process forces him to confront his restlessness. The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square is a funny, sexy, and heart-warming story that is best enjoyed while wearing your most comfy pajamas.

A Change in Altitude

>

Set in Kenya in the 1970′s, A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve, is the story of Margaret and Patrick–newlyweds who venture to Africa for Patrick’s work as a physician. An English couple invites them on a climb of Mt. Kenya, which ends in tragedy. The incident has a profound effect on the marriage of Margaret and Patrick. The story follows their relationship as Margaret becomes involved with the people of Kenya through her job as a photojournalist. She loves the beauty of the country and its people but is troubled by the poverty and violence she encounters. The story is compelling–illustrating complex human relationships along with fascinating glimpses into life in Africa. Shreve raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of success and the qualities of forgiveness, perception and determination.