Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Well, it’s been another rough week.  We began the week with the Rodent predicting 6 more weeks of cold, harsh winter.  And as if to drive that point home, we had Wednesday where the stuff from the sky took all the forms it could.  There was water, ice and snow.  Just a filthy time.  But even with all of that I had a moment of hope on the train platform this morning.  I was standing in my usual spot waiting for the train that is never on time and I noticed something rather amazing.  The sun was warm.  Yes, the air was cold, but the sun had warmth.  It was a nice reminder that this is just a transient phase and we won’t be freezing, miserable and wedded to our ice scrapers forever.   In related news, we are just 4 weeks away from changing the clocks. So, as the Traveling Companion (who, by the way, is in Warmer Climes this weekend and if he truly cared for me would have insisted on my company) says whenever he is confronted with my lack of sports acumen, “I am ever hopeful.”  Let’s all borrow that one shall we? This week we have some Washington State, bad dialogue, diabolically cruel mothering, Paris, a First!, a return, some leftist leanings, and hope. 

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann has one of her messages for us.  Read on!  “Under One Roof: Lessons I Learned from a Tough Old Woman in a Little Old House by Barry Martin is based on the author's experience with a tough old woman named Edith Wilson.  Barry was the head of a construction site in Ballard, Washington where they were building a very large mall.  Anyone whose house or property was in the way of the project sold it to the construction company:  all except eighty-five year old Edith Wilson.  She was not going to sell even as the amount of the money offered to her grew and grew.  Barry then begins a very unique friendship with Edith. She comes to rely on Barry’s help first getting places and then for general care.  The reader learns a great deal about Edith and there is quite a revelation at the end of their story.  This is a feel good book about being there for other people.  The message is clear; when you help others you generally really ‘help’ yourself.”  Thank you Ann.

Barbara M. was in a rut. Here is how she solved that little problem. “After several tries I’ve finally found a book I want to read. I adore Isabel Allende’s writing from her magical realistic novels to her non-fiction to her Young Adult novels and would read anything she wrote; until now. I tried to read her new book Ripper and was very, very disappointed. I wondered if she had really written it.  It was that bad. The characters are stereotypical and the dialogue sounded like a bad movie script. She was trying a new genre, mystery, and it didn’t work. I hope she returns to her own voice in her next book. Although I loved The Blindness of the Heart I couldn’t read Julia Franck’s latest book Back to Back. Thomas and Ella are siblings growing up in post war East Berlin with a diabolically cruel mother. It has been described as a ‘dark fairy tale’ but I found it too grim. In Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim, octogenarian Rose Manon recalls her life as a news correspondent in Paris and Berlin just prior to World War II. While I enjoyed the historical setting and the interesting plot I thought the characters were unrealistic.  The book I am now reading and thoroughly enjoying is A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith. This historical fiction novel is based on the pilgrimages made to American soldiers’ graves in France by mothers whose children had died there during World War I. Cora Blake had never traveled very far from her small town in Maine but when a letter from the United States government arrives in 1931, 13 years after her son’s death, inviting her to join other Gold Star Mothers she decides to go. This is a well written story about a little known part of American history.”

Which brings us to our first ever Reader Review!  Marian M. is one of our patrons who it would appear, is in total agreement with Barbara. “I’m on the final pages of Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende.  It's the second book I read by this author, the first being Paula.  I learn something new every time; her books are not very easy to read as there are few paragraphs and not much dialogue, but there are beautiful descriptions.  I'm sure I'll pick up another one of her books soon. “

Steph used her Snow Day wisely!  “I was delighted when my name finally came up on hold for Sycamore Row by John Grisham, because I knew it would mean a solid page-turner. Imagine my delight when Sycamore Row was even better than expected! I spent most of my snow day rewarding myself for getting work done by devouring another few chapters of the book and finished before the day was done. Not only is it a return to the Jake Brigance and the town of Clanton, last seen in A Time to Kill, but it’s a return to the sort of fast-paced, twisty legal thriller that made me a Grisham fan to begin with. If you are an old-school Grisham fan, ignore his last few and turn your attention to this one.”

As if the weather weren’t enough this week, I had jury duty.  For some reason, I get called every three years and yet I have known people who have dodged the Civic Duty Bullet all their lives.  How does that even work?  Anyway, there is a beauty to jury duty. And it’s this: there is a lot of sit and wait, which in my world translates into sit and read.  My companion for this was Ellen Feldman’s new book The Unwitting which comes out in May.  Nell has long believed that life is politics and has remained true and steadfast to her leftist political leanings.  Not an easy thing to do in 1950s America, but she and her magazine editor husband have seemingly succeeded.  When he is murdered in Central Park on the morning of November 22, 1963 certain facts come to light that don’t add up.    I am enjoying this newest from Feldman but not nearly as much as I adored Next to Love.  That being said, I can say that it was a wonderful companion in a not so wonderful situation just the same.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC. is gifting us with a playlist and some viewing pleasure for the increasing shorter nights.   Hit it Patty!  “I’m not saying correlation is causation. I’m a card-carrying, hard science, facts kinda gal.  With that said, it seems as though every time I leave town on a trip and then return we have a major snow storm that shuts down the schools and town. I’m going to add this to my growing list of coincidences. (It’s turning into a notebook.) This week I think we could all use a little hope. My hope came in the form of a little pillow gift and a U2 video by Oliver Jeffers and Mac Premo.   My DVD recommendation is The Shawshank Redemption. The scene in the film where character Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) rejoins his inmates for lunch after doing a long stint in solitary speaks to the hope we all have and the music we hear inside.  This week’s playlist is titled, DL New Year of Possibilities 2014.”

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