Underground Airlines

underground jacketUnderground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

The author of the dystopian trilogy The Last Policeman takes a different approach to contemporary fiction: alternate history. The Civil War never happened, slavery is still legal in several southern states, and free does not mean equal. Victor is a free black man on assignment in Indianapolis for the U.S. Marshals Service, on the trail of a runaway bonded person known as Jackdaw. Victor infiltrates a cell of the underground airline, a master of disguise. In flashbacks, we learn that Victor spent his childhood as a bonded person, so why is he tracking down runaways now? Is it just that he enjoys the privileges of his job and situation, from air-conditioning to a car to the music of Michael Jackson? And yet he befriends Martha Flowers, a young white woman with a biracial son. As Victor travels between free and slave states, the world is a fascinating one, as the economy doesn’t seem to be thriving and technology lags behind ours. Laptops, cell phones, and GPS exist, but most cars are older and foreign. This novel is not light reading, but the world-building and storytelling skills of Winters make this book very hard to put down.

Brenda


September 2016 Book Discussions

The Tuesday Morning Book Group will meet at 10 a.m. on September 20 to discuss Flight of Dreams by Ariel flight of dreams jacketLawhon. This is a novel about the last voyage of the Hindenberg in 1937. It will be interesting to compare and contrast with the non-fiction account of the Lusitania in Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, which we discussed in January.

The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7 p.m. on September 27 to discuss My Name is Lucy Barton, the newest novel by author Elizabeth Strout. Elizabeth Strout will be speaking at Ashton Place in Willowbrook at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 24, for our Big Author Event. Here’s my review of her stunning new lucy barton jacketbook. Readers may remember her for her book of connected short stories, Olive Kitteridge, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Crime Readers return to Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien to discuss A Death in Vienna, by Daniel Silva, the thriller writer whose new book, Black Widow is topping the bestseller lists. Optional dinner is at 6 p.m., and the discussion is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 15. The Crime Readers is co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.

Copies of the books are available at the Adult and Teen Services Reference Desk.

Brenda


Rebel of the Sands

rebel jacketRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Teen Amani lives with her aunt, uncle, and numerous cousins, helping to run the family store in Dustwalk. Amani sneaks out one night to win money in a sharpshooting contest. The next day she hides fellow sharpshooter Jin from the Sultan’s army. A train ride to the capital city ends abruptly, sending Amani, who is disguised as a boy, and handsome Jin on the run in the desert, which is full of danger and adventure. Amani reluctantly gets involved in a rebellion against the sultan, and meets people with various magical powers, half human and half djinni. Amani finds that she can’t tell a lie, and has to make choices about where her loyalty lies. This is a fun fantasy adventure that mixes elements of westerns with Arabian Nights.
Brenda


Before the Fall

before the fall jacketBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley

One summer night, a private jet takes off from Martha’s Vineyard, heading to New York City. It soon crashes into the ocean, leaving two of the passengers struggling to survive and the other nine on board presumed lost. The incredible feat of survival of struggling artist Scott Burroughs, invited on the flight at the last minute, and the person he saves make for thrilling reading. Scott has recently taken up swimming again and stopped drinking, but is completely unprepared for the huge amount of publicity he faces when they reach land. The book goes back and forth in time, giving the back stories of the eight passengers, a security guard, two pilots and a flight attendant on board, including a millionaire couple, their two children, and a man about to be indicted for money laundering. Conspiracy theories abound as the search begins for the plane and any other survivors. The survivors are likable characters, drawn together by their shared experience. The pacing and suspense never let up until a satisfying conclusion. Not the right book to take on a flight, but a quick read perfect for summer.

Brenda


Walking the Nile

nile jacketWalking the Nile by Levison Wood

Levison Wood, who was a major in a British parachute regiment, likes a challenge. So why not hike along the banks of the entire Nile River, over 4000 miles? So off he goes, with a guide, occasionally a police escort, and even pack camels in the desert, to find his path through swamps, lakes, villages, cities, and desert. He is very discouraged at times, especially after extremely high temperatures leads to tragedy. Sometimes he can’t remember why he’s making such a challenging journey, such as when dealing with bureaucratic red tape or civil unrest. But the extremely warm welcomes he finds in small villages, and numerous wildlife encounters, including rescuing a baby monkey whose habitat has been burned, enliven the book. Wood doesn’t mention until the acknowledgements at the end that a small film crew shared parts of the journey with him, a curious oversight. I earlier reviewed his second book, Walking the Himalayas, which was more enjoyable for the reader (and probably the explorer), although less suspenseful.

Brenda

 


The Tilted World

tilted world jacketThe Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly

After months of heavy rains, the residents of Hobnob Landing, Mississippi are increasingly uneasy as the river keeps rising in the spring of 1927. Federal revenuers Ham Johnson and Ted Ingersoll are sent to the town by Herbert Hoover to investigate two missing agents, and to search for moonshiners. Friends and WWI veterans, the unbribable pair come across a botched robbery at a country store which left a baby orphaned. An orphan himself, Ingersoll wants to find the baby boy a good home, and is referred to Dixie Clay Holliver, a young woman still mourning her own baby. She takes Willy gladly, but Ingersoll doesn’t know that she’s married to Jesse Holliver, distributor of Black Lightning, bootleg whiskey.

Ingersoll and Johnson pose as engineers, patrolling the sandbagged levee as the Mississippi River levels keeps rising. Charming, lying Jesse has his own plans, and might have been the last one to see the missing federal agents. The pacing and suspense keep increasing as some levees upstream fail. History, suspense, and a little romance bring a new look at the Great Flood of 1927. A surprisingly enjoyable read full of colorful characters.

Brenda


New and Forthcoming Books by Authors We’ve Discussed

New and Forthcoming Books from Authors We’ve Discussed

We’re not having book discussions in August. If you’re looking for some reading ideas, try one of these, or reserve a not-yet-published title.

Fictionchurchill jacket

Chevalier, Tracy. At the Edge of the Orchard. 3/16

Diffenbaugh, Vanessa. We Never Asked for Wings. 2015

Doig, Ivan. Last Bus to Wisdom. 2015

Erdrich, Louise. LaRose. 5/16

Hashimi, Nadia. A House Without Windows. 8/16

Hill, Lawrence. The Illegal. 1/16

Hood, Ann. The Book That Matters Most. 8/16

Ivey, Eowyn. To The Bright Edge of the World. 8/16

McLain, Paula. Circling the Sun. 2015

Semple, Maria. Today Will Be Different. 10/16

Shapiro, B.A. The Muralist. 2015

Smiley, Jane. Early Warning, Golden Age. 2015

Stewart, Amy. Lady Cop Makes Trouble. 9/16

Weisgarber, Ann. The Promise. 2014house jacket

Winters, Ben. Underground Airlines. 7/16

Non-Fiction

Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better. 3/16

Krist, Gary. Empire of Sin. 2014

Kurson, Robert. Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship. 2015

Lahiri, Jhumpa. In Other Words. 2/16

Millard, Candice. Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill. 9/16

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. 5/16

Streever, Bill. And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind. 7/16

Happy Reading! Fall book discussion titles will be announced soon.
Brenda


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 213 other followers