Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Could this week have been more glorious?  This is why we live here People!  Our Sweet Ann update?  It would appear she is just about done!  Also please check out our really cool new service that is available to Darien residents!  Zinio is a service that will deliver magazines to the device of your choosing.  We are wild for it and I think you will be too. This week we have The Lord of Death, more Chicks with Bricks (Yes. Again. Get on it or get over it!), falling hard, bribery, combat, Swan Lake and fluttering hearts.

Let us begin! 

Miss Elisabeth of the CL took advantage of this glorious weather stretch to get some reading done! “After reading nothing all week last week, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and Central Park, and finished three books this weekend! I was in the mood for something dark and dense, and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers perfectly fit the bill! Ismae's mother used poison to try and expel her from the womb. The poison permanently scarred her body but left her alive and otherwise intact, causing the midwife to declare that she must have been sired by Death himself. Many years later, betrothed to a pig man and beaten near daily by her father, Ismae learns that the midwife wasn't speaking lightly - she is the daughter of St. Mortain, the Lord of Death, and has been chosen to serve her father's will by the convent of St. Mortain. At the convent, Ismae learns the deadly art of the assassin and prepares to do her true father's bidding, but as she is sent out on her first assignments, she realizes that nothing the convent has taught her can prepare her for the intrigue and villainy of the royal court of Brittany in the 1500's. Ismae will need to use all her father's gifts to save her country, her Duchess, and her heart. "

Barbara M. is joining our legion of obsessives! “I am totally absorbed and fascinated by the book everyone else on staff has already read, Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham. This true story of how two teenage girls murder one of their mothers is made even more remarkable by the fact that one of the girls is the world renowned author, Anne Perry. Absolutely amazing!”   

Stephanie is sort of a mess this week.  In the best possible way. “I don’t always love quiet books, but Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi is so beautifully written that I fell for it, hard. When people talk about writing as a craft, they’re talking about writing like Selasi’s. I finished this book on the train and then worked on some writing of my own; this ended up mirroring an experience I usually have during the Olympics while watching ice skating, because they make it look simple to skate backwards in a circle and then launch their body into a triple whateverthehell, and then I stand up to go get more tea and skate myself down the hall in my socks, humming, and then trip on the floor and bruise a knee. She makes it look easy because the prose is basically perfect, so there’s no comparison, until you crash back to reality in your own journal. This is a beautiful family saga of sorts that brings not just her characters, but also contemporary Africa and the United States, to pulsing, vibrant life.”

Sweet Ann is reading The Edge of the Earth by Christina Schwarz.  “This novel is quite the page turner.  The story begins in Milwaukee in 1898 and introduces us to Trudy who is engaged to be married.  She wants more to life than just becoming a housewife and living in the city of her birth.  She meets her fiance's cousin, Oskar, who is a free spirit and offers Trudy the adventure she is yearning for.  She marries Oskar and they are off to his job as a worker at a remote lighthouse in California.  There they meet the Crawley family including the wife's strange brother.  The adventures soon begin centered on the mysterious woman on the island who the children refer to as a mermaid.  This book will keep you guessing about what is actually happening on the island.  This novel also makes you think about the choices one makes and the consequences that follow.  This is a quick enthralling read.”

Patty fills us in! “Let me start by saying that nowadays I rarely read fiction. Much of my time is spent perusing the stacks of non-fiction, looking for something to add to my own knowledge and propensity to noodle thoughts or ideas.  I was reminded this week about a book that is as much a book about parenting as it is about managing staff or teaching.  My choice this week was mentioned at a recent YWCA Parent Awareness talk about positive parenting and was acknowledged by the presenting speaker, Dr. Julia Trebing, as a major influence on her as a psychologist.  It was a book that was a major influence on me as well. Alfie Kohn’s book, Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s Praise and Other Bribes is a must read.    As a parent and through years of experience working with young children, I’ve always had a problem with the notion of extrinsic motivation.  The idea of dangling an incentive in front of a child, or anyone for that matter, never sat well with me.  Highly regarded books on education and best practices will point out that in order to encourage lifelong learners, students need to be intrinsically motivated.  Mr. Kohn points out through extensive research and psychology just how extrinsic rewards undermine intrinsic motivation. “      

Jeanne as usual is doing two things at once.  It is nice to be able to count on some stability in this uncertain world! “ In the car I am listening to The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. I think audio (especially with Holter Graham narrating!) is a good way to experience this emotional book about looking out for your fellow soldiers in war.  The combat scenes, the guilt, the sense of returning to civilian life as a misfit are made more poignant in the listening. Using his own experiences in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, Powers writes a "fictional" account of the ugliness of war through language that is at once horrible, beautiful and riveting. Very powerful. Everywhere else I am reading The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield. I love this book! I love the way it is so deeply human in plain-spoken words; with knowable characters. There is sad and funny; warm and tragic as most close-knit families can be. The setting is rural Arkansas and it is the coming-of-age story of Swan Lake (really), a precocious 11-year old who lights up the pages with her undaunted fearlessness and unquenchable curiosity through Wingfield's clever, well-paced narrative. I am looking forward to following Swan through the pages on her mission.”

The Amazing Amanda has a confession to make.  “Confession (this is not a surprise): I love Japanese graphic novels (manga) and anime (Japanese animation). The art style and the cultural differences paint the illustrated landscape of Japan as a magical place that makes your heart flutter. In the Ouran High School Host Club, you have six different beautiful boys who woo their classmates with the princess treatment. The girls respond with avid devotion to their male ‘type’ of perfect boy. Enter Haruhi, a female scholarship student that is just looking for a place to study. When she accidentally enters the Host Club’s paradise, she accidentally breaks an extremely expensive vase. The boys put her to work to pay off her debt. However, the Club’s president has made a mistake in assuming Haruhi is a boy thanks to her looks. So she is drafted into serving as one of the male hosts. When the president discovers her “secret”, enter a mad-cap romantic comedy as the Club works to obscure Haruhi’s gender. There are lots of laugh-out-loud worthy plots and schemes for the Host Club to gets themselves into. Haruhi is a heroine who stands on her own two feet and stays true to herself despite being surrounded by the extremely affluent.  The graphic novels are heartwarming, funny, and each character is revealed – to themselves and to the reader – to be capable of much kindness. I discovered the anime before the novels and watched it in one long marathon. This is one of my favorite light-hearted ways to while away an afternoon or a lunch!

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