> 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.
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.
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.
>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.