Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Sunday Salon... "Snow Bound with Books"

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...

The fire is roaring in the woodstove as I write this morning... the big Nor'easter dropped a bit of snow, but not quite the 10 - 18 inches that was predicted. Of course it's still snowing... All this snow did bring to mind of few good books... all involving SNOW! So today's Sunday Salon will feature 2 books with snow in their title!

Snow Angels by James Thompson... The first thriller in a new series featuring Inspector Kari Vaara: the haunted, hardened detective who must delve into Finland's dark and violent underbelly. Kaamos: Just before Christmas, the bleakest time of the year in Lapland. The unrelenting darkness and extreme cold above the Arctic Circle drive everyone just a little insane . . . perhaps enough to kill.

A beautiful Somali immigrant is found dead in a snowfield, her body gruesomely mutilated, a racial slur carved into her chest. Heading the murder investigation is Inspector Kari Vaara, the lead detective of the small-town police force. The vicious killing may have been a hate crime, a sex crime-or one and the same. Vaara knows he must keep this potentially explosive case out of the national headlines or else it will send shock waves across Finland, an insular nation afraid to face its own xenophobia. The demands of the investigation begin to take their toll on Vaara and his marriage. His young American wife, Kate, newly pregnant with their first child, is struggling to adapt to both the unforgiving Arctic climate and the Finnish culture of silence and isolation. Meanwhile Vaara himself, haunted by his rough childhood and failed first marriage, discovers that the past keeps biting at his heels: He suspects that the rich man for whom his ex-wife left him years ago may be the killer... Endless night can drive anyone to murder.

Author James Thompson is American born, but has lived the last 10 years in Finland, and is considered a Finnish writer. Though he has been writing for years, Snow Angels will be his first published book in the U.S. Prior to Snow Angels he was having a hard time finding a publisher because they felt his writing was "too brutal and subject matter too controversial for publication." But the quality of his writing is evident in Snow Angels, a crime novel set in a place he knows so well, Finland. His writing has the ability to evoke the feelings of the dark, long days & nights of Kaamos, and the desperation it can cause. His characters are well developed and the writing is good. There are a few passages that involve some "honest" descriptions of the crime scene, but it's not gratuitous. I was immediately drawn into the story! If you like crime noir and would like to read a wonderful new & upcoming writer, Snow Angels will be published the beginning of January in the United States! AND it's going to be Kindle Ready! It's gotten a lot of great buzz, and the deal has been signed for book 2 already! Thank you to Lydia of G.P.Putnam's Sons for sending me an advanced copy of this book! I enjoyed investigating with Kari Vaara!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See... This absorbing novel takes place in 19th century China when girls had their feet bound, then spent the rest of their lives in seclusion with only a single window from which to see. Illiterate and isolated, they were not expected to think, be creative, or have emotions. But in one remote county, women developed their own secret code, nu shu – "women's writing" – the only gender-based written language to have been found in the world. Some girls were paired as "old-sames" in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their windows to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.

This is one of my favorite books of all time! It is the story of 2 Chinese girls whose friendship and love for each other helps them survive the turmoil of living in China during the 19th century. The characters are rich and full. The setting is fascinating. The history of the times is so well woven into the story. And I learned so much about the culture and traditions that these 2 little girls grew up with! Lisa Sees' writing is beautiful, the story is mesmerizing & heartbreaking. If you've ever had a girlfriend, a BFF, you will look deep within yourself and your friendships as a result of reading this book. If you haven't read this yet, if you have a girl friend that you still have to buy a gift for, pick this book up! This book is also Kindle Ready!

I hope if you're snowbound today like me, that your fire is burning brightly, you have the comfort of family, friends and a good book! If snow hasn't come your way, I wish for you a wonderful relaxing sunday as well! Tell me what you're reading! And if you've read either of these books, please share what you thought!

Enjoy the day! Suzanne

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