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Sunday, July 19, 2015

What The Vandergraffs Are Reading This Summer: A Companion to "The December People"

This is a guest post by Sharon Bayliss. 

The members of the Vandergraff family from The December People Series aren't that different from you and me...well except for the dark magic thing. In any case, like all cool people, they have invested in some new books to enjoy over the summer. Strange, not one of them is reading a book about wizards...


Here is what each character is reading now:



DAVID

David Vandergraff has been a fan of Stephen King ever since he read The Shining when he was twelve. He has been regularly reading new Stephen King novels ever since and was happy to pick up the latest release from the horror legend.


Description from Barnes & Noble:

“Wake up, genius.” So begins King’s instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

Not since Misery has King played with the notion of a reader whose obsession with a writer gets dangerous. Finders Keepers is spectacular, heart-pounding suspense, but it is also King writing about how literature shapes a life—for good, for bad, forever.


AMANDA

Perhaps she was drawn to the title...although she was also swayed by the fact that this is a Pulitzer Prize winner. Other than the occasional mystery, Amanda prefers literary fiction--anything that looks really nice sitting on her bedside table.

Description from Barnes & Noble:

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.



PATRICK

Okay, you guessed it. This is from Patrick's required summer reading list. And there's nothing wrong with that. He's a good student. He did have the option to select between several classics and chose Crime and Punishment, so you can take what you will from that.

Description from Barnes & Noble:
Few authors have been as personally familiar with desperation as Fyodor Dostoevsky, and none have been so adept at describing it. Crime and Punishment—the novel that heralded the author’s period of masterworks—tells the story of the poor and talented student Raskolnikov, a character of unparalleled psychological depth and complexity. Raskolnikov reasons that men like himself, by virtue of their intellectual superiority, can and must transcend societal law. To test his theory, he devises the perfect crime—the murder of a spiteful pawnbroker living in St. Petersburg.

In one of the most gripping crime stories of all time, Raskolnikov soon realizes the folly of his abstractions. Haunted by vivid hallucinations and the torments of his conscience, he seeks relief from his terror and moral isolation—first from Sonia, the pious streetwalker who urges him to confess, then in a tense game of cat and mouse with Porfiry, the brilliant magistrate assigned to the murder investigation. A tour de force of suspense, Crime and Punishmentdelineates the theories and motivations that underlie a bankrupt morality.


XAVIER

Although frequently pestered by his family for doing nothing but playing video games, Xavier does read for pleasure on a regular basis. He likes to do anything that gives him a good excuse to avoid human interaction, and reading fits the bill. Hugh Howey is one of his favorite authors and it's not surprising that he might be drawn to this particular story...

Description from Barnes & Noble:

In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platform that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate.

In the same year, the CBS network re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event.

At almost the same moment in humanity's broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened.

This is the sequel to the New York Times bestselling WOOL series.




EMMY

To be honest, Emmy isn't proud of the fact that she likes mainstream YA fiction. She'd rather like books that were a little more unexpected, but what can you do? Around friends, she pretends to be far too mature and interesting for young adult. However, her latest book purchase was Saint Anything by the immensely popular YA author, Sarah Dessen. Perhaps she was drawn to the description for some reason...

Description from Barnes & Noble:

Sydney has always felt invisible. She's grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen’s deepest and most psychologically probing novel yet, telling an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.



EVANGELINE

Evangeline is the most prolific reader in the family, by a long shot. She usually reads 3-4 books a week, and to her parents' annoyance, she only reads paperbacks and won't accept a Kindle. This means that they have to take her to the used bookstore or library at least once a week, or technically, they make Patrick do it. In any case, they don't understand why she can't just download books like a normal person.

Her family is also mystified by her taste in books, which appears to span just about every genre. You can't analyze Evangeline by examining any single reading choice, and trying to analyze the books as a group might cause a severe headache.

Here are some of the books she's read recently.

The Stand by Stephen King - She got that from her father's collection.

War Brides by Helen Bryan - That one came from Amanda.

The Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawking - She picked that one up from the library after she learned about Stephen Hawking's existence from the popular movie. And yes, she read every word.

Cat Crimes II: Masters of Mystery Present More Tales of the Cat by Martin H. Greenberg and Ed Gorman, Beverly Hills Dead by Stuart Woods, A Rogue of My Own by Johanna Lindsey, and Fatal Revenant by Stephen R. Donaldson - All bargain bin selections from the local used book store.








Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.


















Read Amber's review of Destruction.


Also, check out the Q &A with Sharon