Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bookstore Score

Two Christmases ago, some friends of mine gave me a gift certificate to the local used bookstore. It's taken me this long to use it, but Sunday after church and a yummy lunch at Bob Evans (go soup and salad combo! lol), a friend and I ducked in to see what kind of goodies we could find.

First off, let me just say that if traditional bookstores smell good - ink and paper and glue and binding - used bookstores smell twice as good. It's the smell of history. :)

The prices were AMAZING and I came away with a nice little haul.

(l-r, top to bottom: Keesha's House by Helen Frost, Lost In A Good Book by Jasper Fforde, Songs of Stage and Screen by Michael Crawford, Passion by Jose Carreras, and Chant by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo De Silos)

Reactions so far:

Keesha's House is AMAZING. Like, book-of-the-year, gush-about-it-to-everyone-I-know amazing. I knew I had a winner when I picked it up in the bookstore, flipped it open randomly to the middle, and was immediately sucked in. Bought it, brought it home, ran a hot bath with bubbles, and read it cover-to-cover that night.

The format is unusual - it's a novel in various forms of verse, each poem from a different character's perspective. There is Keesha, for whom the book is named, and six "main characters" - Harris, Katie, Stephy, Dontay, Carmen, and Jason -who are all inextricably linked together. Multiple "secondary characters" (who have relationships with one or more of the main characters) make appearances, albeit sometimes brief (Katie's English teacher, for instance, who interjects 13 lines about halfway through the book, tellingly titled "Not Much I Can Do").

The poetry is gripping, easy to read, and approachable - one of my favorite reviews says that it "sets poetry free into the real world, where it also belongs."

It's gritty - never disturbing, but truly realistic in an unflinching way. I cried out when I read page 85, desperately hoping I had misread or misunderstood what I saw printed there, and when I realized that it was true I cried, thus adding Keesha's House to the small list of books I've cried over.

In short, it's amazing. Read it - you can get a copy for $1.50 and a couple bucks shipping on Amazon, and you won't regret it.

Lost In A Good Book

Fun, fun fun! Part Alice In Wonderland, part Roald Dahl, part the very best of Diana Wyne Jones and Lloyd Alexander, part space comedy, yet entirely grown up, it's a delightful read. Apparently this is the second book in a series, but I didn't have any trouble finding my way after the first chapter or so. About halfway through the novel right now, so I'll have to complete this review later, but it's made my bathtime reading sessions a pleasure. :)

And now on to some music...

Songs of Stage And Screen is a little tiny bit of a letdown. It's not out of print, and I suspect one of Crawford's earlier works, and kind of lacks the rickness and artistic interpretation of his more recent recordings. A little predictable? Maybe even the teensiest bit... boring? *cringe* I need to listen to it again to be sure.

Passion - Okay, so I bought this because I thought this was actually Jose Cura, you know, who sang in Sarah Brightman's "Time To Say Goodbye" album? And, it clearly is not. In fact, if I'd been thinking a little more clearly, I would have realized that the reason I recognize his name is because Carreras is, in fact, one of the three tenors! Happy mistake, and a stunning album. It will be satisfying my operatic cravings for awhile.

Chant. I've been thinking about Gregorian chants lately, not sure why, so when I say this at the bookstore for $2 I figured it was as cheap a way as any to indulge my curiousity. This, out of all the CD's I bought that day, was the one I listened to last and the one that hasn't left my CD player yet. Restful, not at all creepy, and soaring harmonies and melodies. I find myself humming or vocalizing along. I would love to find a good translation of the words from Latin so that I could dwell on the worship aspect of the music. (And, btw, I'm thinking a second recording would make an excellent addition to the one I already have. :))

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