Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cleo: The Cat Who Mended a Family
by Helen Brown

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for animal stories, especially ones about cats.

"Grace can come in deceptively small packages. For Brown, it arrived in the form of a runt-of-the-litter kitten whom her two young sons, Sam and Rob, adored on sight. Promised as an upcoming present for Sam's tenth birthday, it was a gift the boy never received. While the kitten was being weaned from its mother, Sam was taken from his. Just weeks after his birthday, Sam was killed in an auto accident, and Brown's world changed forever. Yet when the kitten was delivered to her new home right on schedule, Brown's heart first broke with the unfairness of it all, then gradually began to mend as little Cleo did what all kittens do: mounted a charm offensive like no other. Over the next 23 years, as Brown's marriage ended and career blossomed, the spunky Cleo remained her constant source of comfort and inspiration. Heartfelt and open, Brown's buoyant tale of loss and recovery celebrates the resilient patience and restorative powers of animal compassion."

~ Carol Haggas, Copyright 2010 Booklist

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Lady Matador's Hotel by Cristina Garcia

"The Hotel Miraflor is the epicenter for explosive conflict in the capital of an unnamed Central American country ravaged by civil war and corruption. During the first week in November 2003, a presidential campaign reaches fever pitch, a military conference convenes at the hotel, and battles intimate and political, ritualized and spontaneous, erupt with seismic force. The hotels most prominent guest is a veritable goddess, Suki Palacios, a lithe and fearless matador from California of Mexican and Japanese descent, a woman who brandishes her beauty like a weapon. Another indomitable woman, attorney Gertrudis, uses the hotel as headquarters for her lucrative black-market adoption operation. Won Kim, a reluctant Korean factory owner, has sequestered his pregnant teenage mistress in the honeymoon suite. Aura, an ex-guerrilla working as a waitress at the hotel, plots revenge against a murderous, weight-lifting colonel. Garcia strides and twirls with a matadors daring, grace, and focus as she enters the psyches of diverse, intense, and unnerving characters; choreographs converging and dramatic story lines; and confronts the pervasiveness of the inexplicable. Streamlined, sexy, darkly witty, and succinctly tragic, Garcias fifth sharply imagined novel of caustic social critique concentrates the horrors of oppression and violence into a compulsively readable tale of coiled fury and penetrating insight.

~Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association