Maira's Books

In January of 2005 I started this blog as a record of books I’ve read as I was afraid I would forget what I have read. I have often referred back to my own blog to remember a book's contents or see what I have read by an author. I have enjoyed passing my books on to friends or recommending books to read. I know I have missed recording some, but in general I try to keep up with what I have read or listened to.

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Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States

I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Torpedo Juice by Tim Dorsey (2005)

(Found I had written up this description on paper for this book that I read last summer.) This would have been the perfect book to listen to while on a Florida vacation, especially one to the Keys. Though listless characters doing drugs is not my favorite scenario, I found myself breaking into a smile quite often. Serge heads down to the Florida Keys to get married, though he doesn't have a wife picked out yet. He hooks up with his old buddy Coleman (sounds like these two characters have been in previous books), a pretty worthless druggie, but he makes an entertaining side-kick for Serge. Serge finds mousy Molly working in the library and asks her to marry him on their first date. I couldn't understand how an intelligent woman like Molly could go for such a con artist as Serge, but maybe she was desperate. I can't complain about stereotyping librarians, as the other librarian is a beauty. Though Serge is a con-man, I have to admit he grew on me, The riffs on buying towels with his new wife and then their session with a marriage counselor I found hilarious.

I really loved the references to specific keys, the small Key deer, mangroves, Key West, etc. I should have had a map in from of me while listening to this. I remember my one vacation in the Keys back in 1984 - and there really was a lot of back and forth on Route 1 - the string that holds the pearls of keys together. I seem to recall mile markers, as you never knew which key came when, so for directions, people gave you mile markers.

The book is full of colorful characters, and since this is a thriller/mystery, there are drug pins, cops, mysterious sharpshooters, and murderers. The book is so lighthearted that you don't notice how many murders have occurred until the end.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax (2007)

Once more I am faced with the knowledge of how little I know. This time it is about how little I know about Spain, the Spanish Civil War, Spain in World War II, and Franco. So I learned a little about all of this from this novel about a cellist inspired by the real life Spanish cellist Pablo Casals, as I found out from our library catalog. I had to find out about Casals too, and see that a few things are parallel with the book's main character, but much is not. Feliu Delargo is a child prodigy musician, who falls in love with the cello when he first hears it in a concert. (Though I am fairly unmusical, the cello is my favorite string instrument and I actually took lessons on it for about a year in high school, so I can understand his enchantment with the instrument.) His father had died and his mother sacrifices a lot to give him the opportunity to study cello in Barcelona. He lands in the court, playing for the young queen. (Seems some other books I have read addressed young English princesses married off to young Spanish kings.) He meets pianist Justo Al-Cerra (pronounced very strangely by the reader of the book), who convinces Delargo to tour with him in a trio with a violinist. This is the start of a long, complex relationship - both musical and personal. On a voyage back from America, during the great crash of 1929, they meet Aviva, an Italian violinist, that they both fall in love with , each in his own way. They travel as a trio, attempting to avoid the political upheavals in Spain and throughout Europe. Their lives are affected by numerous real historical incidents, and they meet historical persons like the royals, Franco and Hitler. I got a good sense of what it is like to be a musician constantly on the road, and enough glimpses into the historical time, to want to look things up in books and atlases when I was done. Very good, all in all.