Every once in awhile, I put forms out at the library and ask people to share the titles of their ten most favorite books. I always find new authors and titles this way, and our patrons love looking at what everyone else likes to read. My list tends to change each time. Here’s the first 5 on my current list…
- Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey always makes my list. A spectacularly easy read about the mystery of Richard III and the young princes in the Tower. Did he kill them, or didn’t he?
- River of Darkness by Rennie Airth is one of the best English mysteries I’ve read in years. However, it is currently rivaled by Airth’s follow-up, The Blood Dimmed Tide.
- A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds is a must-read for anyone who has lost someone they love and wonders about the afterlife.
- All the Harry Potter books make my list. This is far and away the best fantasy series written since Lord of the Rings.
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is my pick for the must-read of 2005. Spooky and delicious.
Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles
“Woe is Ruby Lavender. She used to have a fun life, until her Yoo-Hoo drinking, pink muumuu-wearing, best friend of a grandmother up and left for Hawaii to spend the summer with her new (smelly) grandbaby. Now Ruby is stuck in boring old Halleluia, Mississippi, reading to her chickens, sweeping floors at the general store (torture), and being tormented by the curly-haired, tip-tapping Melba Jane who knows a terrible secret about Ruby. In letter after letter, 9 year old Ruby pours out her heart to her grandmother, but there is one thing Ruby cannot tell even her grandmother – the very same thing that makes Ruby take the long way home every single time and that makes her hate Melba Jane more than anyone.”
Ruby reminds me of a young Sweet Potato Queen (and if you haven’t read the Sweet Potato Queen books by Jill Connor Brown, read them now!). She is feisty, funny and just an all-around neat kid. Read this with your 2nd or 3rd grader. You’ll be glad you did!
Leavin’ Trunk Blues by Ace Atkins
In the music clubs on the South Side of Chicago, the blues, once as strong as the backs of the neighborhood’s working class, has lost its hope and its voice. Seventy miles away, locked in a lonely prison cell, waits Ruby Walker. More than forty years ago, she boarded the Illinois Central from Mississippi to what she believed was her Promised Land. She became one of the greatest blues singers the city has ever known, but she lost it all after being convicted of murdering producer Billy Lyons in September 1959. Decades later, a flickering hope emerges to Walker in the form of letters from a Tulane University blues historian named Nick Travers. She agrees to an interview only in exchange for him checking out what she calls the truth behind Lyons’s last hours.
This second Nick Travers novel by Ace Atkins is an adequate follow-up to Crossroad Blues, which was not as violent and a whole lot more interesting. Leavin’ Trunk Blues explores the darker side of the music business and the seamier side of Chicago, none of which appeals to me much. Crossroad Blues had some magic in it that Atkins just hasn’t recreated here. If you really, really love the blues, read this. If not, don’t waste your time.