Archive for April, 2012

Recently both of us have had the pleasure of finding a book that we just couldn’t put down, one that we carried everywhere in order to eek out a few extra minutes of reading between meetings or while waiting to pick up kids, one that kept us up late into the night.  Yes, we may have lost a few hours of sleep because the suspense was killing us, but burning the midnight oil and finishing it one fell swoop made it worth having to guzzle an extra cup of coffee to manage the next day.

This post is dedicated to the thrill of reading, to the suspense filled books we’ve just finished, and to an oldie but goodie in this page turning genre.

AND REMEMBER, TODAY, April 23, 2012, IS THE LAST DAY TO VOTE FOR THE BOOK JAM AT THE INDE BLOGGER AWARDS. Click here to cast your ballot. Thank you!

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton (24 April, 2012) – We both thoroughly enjoyed her first novel Sister (2011).  Now for our individual reviews.

From Lisa Christie ~ I LOVED this one. I cried.  OK, I at least teared up and was sad for a while. Yes, I did.  And, even though I have an annoying habit of being able to guess the ending of television shows, movies and mystery novels, I still sighed at the end.  Why? Well, it is hard not to put yourself in the place of each of the characters in this novel; a novel about the aftermath of a school fire where a teenager is trapped and a mother goes in to save her.  The give and take of who will survive and who caused the commotion is well executed. The questions of what would you do for love resonate long after you finish.  I highly recommend this second book by the author of Sister – another great and well written and moving book for those of you in the mood for a modern “thriller”.

From Lisa Cadow: I, too, enjoyed Afterwards. The subject matter – about the days following a devastating school fire that leaves a mother and her teenage daughter in critical care – is certainly not “easy”  but the author pulls the reader in with her Lovely Bones style of writing (with an injured, out-of-body narrator telling the story). Meet Grace, the mother, who’s able to watch events unfold despite being in a coma. Though I wouldn’t normally be drawn to something so seemingly macabre, I loved Lupton’s first book, Sister, (about a woman who goes to London to search for her missing sister) and was eager for another one of her literary wild rides. She didn’t disappoint with this one as a result of the unusual and original way she’s constructed the story, the interesting psychology of the characters, and the everyday nature of the drama. The hardcover release date in the United States is tomorrow, April 24th, 2012. I suggest readers plan to sleep in on the morning of the 25th.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (2008, 2009, 2010) – Even on re-reading in preparation for seeing The Hunger Games on the BIG screen, I found these are well-paced books for teens and beyond and I still ignored other things in order to finish.  Katniss Everdeen is a heroine you love to love and the premise is fascinating. ~Lisa Christie

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (1938). This was the first book that kept me up practically all night reading. I simply couldn’t get enough of “Manderley,” Maxim de Winter’s estate in the British countryside, where he brings his new, young wife after a whirlwind courtship on the French Riviera. Once there, she is plagued by the ghost of the seemingly perfect “Rebecca” – Maxim’s late wife – whose presence still fills the halls, gardens, wardrobes, and picture galleries. This psychological thriller has the reader questioning her own reality and sanity as she flips through the pages watching the new Mrs. de Winter deal with the venomous housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, and planning a ball for Maxim de Winter’s friends. This great book will keep readers of all ages on the edge of their seats and up throughout the night.


You’re Invited:

And one last item.  For those of you in the Norwich, Vermont area, please join us for our first Pages in the Pub on April 30th.  Pages in the Pub brings the Book Jam “live” to a local inn, so that other book lovers may talk about books with some “experts” — local booksellers and local librarians — over a glass of wine, beer or seltzer.  (It would be an ideal way for your book club to get ideas for your next few months’ worth of selections, in addition to books for your own reading stack.)  Proceeds from the event benefit the local public library.  To attend the April 30th at the Norwich Inn, event call the Norwich Bookstore – 802-649-1114 to reserve your spot with a $5 contribution.  All proceeds for this first event will be donated to the Norwich Public Library.


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 Some quick housekeeping before getting down to the business of books and our reviews of The Bells by Richard Harvell and Perfume: The Story of a Murder by Patrick Suskind:

1) You may have already noticed that there’s a new icon showing at the top of the sidebar to the right.  It’s for the Indie Book Bloggers Awards – please consider clicking on it or this phrase –  Indie Book Bloggers Award – and casting your vote for The Book Jam!

2) We’ve created a new page on our blog to feature all of the incredible authors visiting the Norwich Bookstore and their interviews with us. It’s called 3 Questions (do you see the new title bar up above the image of the book nestled in to the tree, right next to “Standouts”?). That page will house all information related to author visits from here on out. Check it frequently to see updates OR, alternatively, “like” us on our Book Jam Facebook Page to get real time news of author responses and the times and dates of their visits.

And now, without further ado, it’s time to move on to what we’re all here for: the books.

Like wine and cheese or Bogie and Bacall, a perfect pairing – of the literary sort – has come to our bespectacled attention.  This “Two Peas in a Pod” themed post focuses on a set of  riveting titles that revolve around the power of the senses. So take a deep breath, perk up your ears, and get ready to dive back in time.

The Bells by Richard Harvell (2010). Lisa Christie found this book back closer to when it was released and reviewed it in a 2011 Book Jam podcast. But the other Lisa just finished it and requested that we give it double air time as she was so besotted with its story. Meet Moses, a boy born in the Swiss Alps in the 1700’s to a deaf mother whose ultimate pleasure is ringing the bells in her village’s small bellfry – their powerful vibrations reverberating through her body is her only sensory pleasure. This special little boy is blessed with an exquisite voice and exceptional ears. These talents forge for him a complex life – in a monastery, as an outcast, on the run in some of the most beautiful places in Europe – and for the reader a most intersting plot. Some might say that the story and its telling are “overwrought”  but we found its pacing to be “on pitch,” enouraging readers to turn the next page. The setting of the Alps and Vienna is lovely (and very well researched), and the story of forbidden love captivating, but it is also fascinating in the understanding it gives readers about music, opera, the church, and the sad traditon of “castratos” in a world that has (thankfully) long since passed. ~Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow

Perfume: The Story of a Murder by Patrick Suskind (1986). “Perfume” was an international bestseller nearly twenty-five years ago when it was first published but it still retains its fresh aroma and power to intrigue. Set in 18th century France, this historical fiction thriller starts out in Paris with the birth of “Grenouille” to a poor mother working in a decrepit dish stall. It is Grenouille’s perfect sense of smell – his gift is to the nose what perfect pitch is to the ear – that sets him apart but, alas, it is also this boy’s biggest curse. We follow him through his shaky first years as an orphan to his discovery of “the perfect scent” (and the abominable crime that follows), and then through his life as a master perfumer. Whether it is the setting of Paris and its Provinces, the concocting of masterful perfumes, intrigue, history, or psychological drama that you seek, you will find them all in this satisfying novel. ~Lisa Cadow

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “Three Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam in the week leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.

We are thrilled to welcome professor, writer, and Norwich resident Chris Trimble  to The Book Jam. He will be discussing his latest book, Reverse Innovationwith co-author Vijay Govindarajan at a reception being held at the Norwich Bookstore

on Thursday, April 12th from 7 to 8 pm. This is an exciting work that focuses on the increasing number of innovations emerging from the developing world and how it will be these leading edge ideas that lead the way in the next phase of globalization. During the gathering the authors will hold a brief discussion of their findings, take questions from the audience, and then enjoy wine and appetizers with attendees as they celebrate the publication of their latest release from Harvard Business School Press.  Unlike most Norwich Bookstore events, this reception does not require a reservation.

1. What three books have shaped you into the author you are today, and why?

Michael Lewis, The Big ShortPaul Krugman, Peddling Prosperity; and James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science. I could have picked several other books by any of these three authors.  All have a gift that I aspire to: the ability to tackle complex subjects in business, economics, science, and technology in a way that is a joy to read, both because the ideas are presented elegantly and because the ideas are delivered through compelling narrative.

2What author, living or dead, would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Natalie Angier (Pulitzer Prize Winning science writer for the New York Times). Outstanding science writer whose quirky observations and gift with language would almost certainly mean a darned entertaining cup of coffee.

3. What books are currently on your bedside table?

I just finished Walter Isaacson’s autobiography of Steve Jobs. It’s a fabulous piece of work that is sure to be widely read and talked about in business circles. The only unintended consequence may be that a large number of readers may all-too-quickly conclude that what worked for Apple will work for them.

Point of disclosure, Professor Trimble is married to Lisa Christie of The Book Jam.

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