You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read!

To start this week, we give a shout out to Amy C, True Library Friend and our Beloved Board President, who brought us caramels from the spot where she Summers in Montana!  They were EPIC and worth every calorie.  Thanks AmyI have come to the sad realization that I can fight the March of Autumn only so long before even I have to surrender.  The Autumnal Equinox arrives on Monday at 10:29; so officially this is the last weekend for the Summer of 2014. A more beautiful summer I don’t think I have ever seen.  I don’t know about you all but I marvel at how swiftly fall is taking over.  The golden quality of sunlight, the way it’s  getting darker earlier, that bite in the morning air, even the green of the leaves is starting to have that muted characteristic of impending change.  At the Farmer’s Market this week there were still beautiful tomatoes and corn to be had, but there were also plenty of fall squashes, pumpkins, mums, newly dug potatoes, lovely crisp apples and pears. This morning on the train platform I was in the minority with my sleeveless dress and bare leg.  All around me were tweeds and boots and sweaters.  They looked much more comfortable than I felt. So I officially yield to fall and I wish it a long glorious reign because just the thought of winter returning is killing me.  This week we have knife throwing, Queens, (but not Knife Throwing Queens. Sorry), Wonder Woman, some Grand Duchesses, London, The Street and a Boston Girl. You want a soundtrack with all that?  Done!  In fact we are giving you two!

Let us begin!

Miss Elisabeth of the CL is still talking about what she did while Away.  “While I was on vacation, I read 6 adult books, mostly light beach reads and detective thrillers. By far the best one was a brand new book by Chelsea Cain, One Kick. The beginning of a new mystery series, this was a nail-biting suspense novel with the type of heroine you can’t help but root for. When she was six, Kick Lannigan was kidnapped from her front yard.  When she was 11, Kick was accidently rescued by the FBI. Now she’s 21, and she’s spent the past ten years making sure she knows how to keep herself safe: martial arts, sharp shooting, knife throwing skills, and lock-picking are among her many talents. Her quiet, safe life is forever altered when she is drawn into the investigation of two recent child abductions with eerie similarities to her own. I literally could not put this book down. I read it on the plane, and was so engrossed in the story I didn’t notice we were landing until I felt the plane bump the ground! If you like suspenseful mysteries, One Kick is a great pick. “

Barbara M loves herself a Seriously Sad Story.  Here is her latest pick.  “When I started reading We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas I thought it would be an updated version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a family saga of the Irish-American experience. In a way, it is an immigrant American family saga but it is so much more. It’s about unfulfilled dreams and how the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease can devastate a family. The book is the beautifully written story of Eileen, a child of Irish immigrants, who has aspirations of escaping her life in Woodside, Queens. When she marries Ed Leary, a promising scientist, she believes that her life will go as she planned. It doesn’t. A sad story exquisitely told.”

Mallory has been talking non-stop about her love for this book.  Seriously.  She won’t stop. Please someone else read this so she can have a Book Friend.  Thank you.  For those of you who want a head start, check out Darien Reads.  “The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore is part biography, part feminist history, part comic legacy, and my new go-to recommendation, so get used to hearing me blab about it.  William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator, was a man obsessed with truth and justice, surrounded by women who were crusaders during the suffragist and birth control movements of the early 1900’s.  He gets a degree in law, gets a degree in psychology, invents the lie detector, and basically fails at everything he attempts.  Marston marries his high school sweetheart and then takes on a secret live-in wife as well (the feminist Queen Margaret Sanger’s niece).  He has children with each woman and they all live together as one glorious oddball family in a little town called Darien, CT for a short period of time.  Marston imbues Wonder Woman with characteristics from the women he encounters and uses her as a radical agent for social change.  Wonder Woman was powerful, political, and her only weakness was being shackled by man; Marston’s Wonder Woman is my new personal hero. He states, ‘Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.’ You’ll find The Secret History of Wonder Woman when it comes out in October, so place your holds now!”

The Fabulous Babs B just finished a book we are pretty wild for, The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport.  Here’s what she thinks.  “This is the history of the four daughters of the tsar of Russia, Nicholas II.  They were the Princess Diana of their day and were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged life style.  The girls lived in virtual isolation, their only freedom being when they traveled, usually on the Royal Yacht.  I found it sad that they were constantly surrounded by armed guards.  I also learned that Alexandra, the girl's mother, suffered with numerous health issues throughout her life which severely restricted her lifestyle.  I was drawn to the great love and devotion the Romanovs felt for each other, despite living through the harshest of circumstances. “

Pat S has just finished Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe. “Back in the early 80's, Nina, a young dropout from rural England, decides to try her luck at being a nanny in London. She joins the bohemian household of single mom Mary Kay Wilmers (editor and owner of London Review of Books) and her sons Will and Sam Frears.   She finds herself in a rather rarefied literary world where one of the neighbors is the esteemed playwright Alan Bennett who drops in frequently for dinner, and the ex-husband is Stephen Frears the movie director. Nina does not recognize the names, nor is she impressed when told who they are. She is the anti-Mary Poppins (she neither cooks nor cleans), and fits in perfectly with this colorful, raffish crew. Over a period of the next several years, Nina recounts to her sister Victoria her daily routines and exchanges first as a nanny, and then as a returning university student in this enchanting, laugh out loud collection of letters.  After reading these delightful letters, it made me wonder what will become of the epistolary format now that no-one seems to write letters any longer.”

Here’s Steph and what she’s reading. “This weekend on my commute, I read Business Adventures by John Brooks. This is our selection for September’s Business Book Group, and came to most people’s attention after Bill Gates told an interviewer it was his favorite business book. To be honest, even though I usually like business books, I didn’t have high hopes for this one, because it seemed to be a bunch of random stories from twentieth-century Wall Street. I was so wrong! This book has been a delight. Brooks was a writer for The New Yorker, and each of these stories reads like the sort of article you cut out and pass along to a friend. Whether he’s explaining how a corner works (and what happened the last time someone tried to pull one off), or walking the reader through the growth of Xerox, his writing is funny and clear, and has something to offer both the business novice and the Wall Street expert. I’m really looking forward to discussing it on September 23.”

I must confess that I was not a huge fan of Anita Diamant’s book The Red Tent.  I have found that you either love this book, or you are in my camp:  Camp Pack-Up-Your-Tent-And-Go.  But when I heard her speak at a Library Preview at Simon and Schuster about her new book Boston Girl I was intrigued enough to give it a shot and I am glad I did.  Addie Baum is asked by her granddaughter the following question: “How did you get to be the woman you are today?”  Thus begins the story of 85-year-old Addie and her family living in the multi-cultural North End of Boston at the turn of the last century.   I must confess. I love this book and the voice of Addie Baum so much I almost missed my stop this week.  I think Book Groups would find plenty of meat to pick off the bones of this book and it comes out in December. 

It would seem that The State Which Shall Not Be Named is a place to avoid at all costs and not for the usual reasons.  Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC to explain why. “An uninvited guest arrived at our house last week. The cold, flu and virus season has officially moved in and I am feeling inhospitable. Our friends across the hall (he’s a surgeon and she’s an ER pediatric nurse) have assured me that we are not alone in the land of illness and quarantine. So this week, I’m going to keep things brief and to the point. Get a flu shot. Do it now. My autumnal equinox wish for you is that you have no uninvited guests. They’re hard to get rid of, they don’t want to leave and they don't clean up after themselves.”


DL Fall into Change 2013







You Are What You Read!

First of all, a big thanks to Pamela M for the taffy from of all places, Alaska. Who knew one could Summer in Alaska?  Well, Pamela M did.  Thanks Pam!  I just need to say that I am holding fast to summer.  While I had to forsake the sandal this week because the Dayton 10 just got too cold, I am still working the white pants.  The Ever Fabulous Babs B is looking pointedly in the other direction pretending that fashion faux pas is not happening on her watch.   On Tuesday morning, I was mourning the fact that summer was indeed creeping away from me, that it was only 8:00 in the morning and everything I tried my hand at was epically failing, and that the week seemed to stretch way too long ahead.  It was a pity party for one and it wasn’t pretty.  And then I looked out the train window for this week’s message from The SoNo Loft.  And there it was, “You are what you read!”  It made me laugh out loud and then I am afraid I whooped.  My apologies to the man who was sitting next to me; if you are out there Sir, I swear I am mentally stable most of the time so there was no need to try to shrink into the window and away from me.  And just like that the day turned around and things did not seem so daunting.  So, a huge thank you to Think Around Corners and Greg C, the mad geniuses behind the message each week.  You all will never know how much I delight when the train is pulling into  the South Norwalk Station because of you! In their honor, go out of your way this weekend to gladden someone’s path and remember to thank those that gladden yours in ways big and small.  This week we have some Maine, devastation, cottage cheese containers, the G8, Australia, Burma, a bookstore, and some grieving elephants.   And, of course, from The State Which Shall Not Be Named we have The Playlist.

Let us begin!

Abby has turned to a favorite series this week with The Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron.  “A while ago I wrote about a mystery series by Paul Doiron featuring Maine State Game Warden Mike Bowditch.  I’m happy to report that Doiron’s latest, The Bone Orchard, is a highly enjoyable read which highlights his obvious love of the outdoors. I never like to reveal too much about a mystery, but I will say in book 4 of the series Mike must step outside his zone of comfort to come to the aid of his friend and mentor. I find Doiron’s writing has an effective and unique rhythm. He has a beautiful way of setting a scene and getting to the heart of his characters.”

Sweet Ann has just finished The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami.  “Tsukuru was part of a close group of high school friends who did everything together.  After graduation, Tsukuru is the only one who chose to go to university away from where he and his friends live.  By the end of his sophomore year, his friends refuse to see him or answer his calls. This devastates him and he is never the same again.  It is as if all his joy in life is gone.  Sixteen years later, he meets a woman he would like to date.  On their first date she asks questions about his high school experience and for the first time he reveals his lost friendships.  As they continue to date, she says he must resolve his past before they can move forward. She then convinces him to return to his hometown to discover the reason for his exclusion. The story follows Tsukuru as he searches for life's meaning and redemption.  It is a wonderful read about image, friendship, loss and reconciliation.  “

Thomas S aka My Son is here with something he’s been reading in between his school assignments.  Please don’t call Social Services on me. I swear I did the best I could. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth is easily the best book I have read this summer, and probably one of the best YA novels I have ever read in my life. It deals with all of the wondrous teenage anxieties that come from living in a small town filled with evangelicalism, bigotry, and thinking that your ‘sinful behavior’ contributed to the deaths of your parents. The coping mechanisms the main character uses are fantastic: making a doll house filled with random cottage cheese containers and moss, and renting creepy David Bowie vampire flicks on VHS. Upon the conclusion of book two, I found myself crying in the corner while Brand New's Play Crack the Sky played on my stereo. It was a truly magical experience. “

Virginia, everyone’s favorite Tall Cool Texan, is back and she has been busy!  What up VA We missed you! “The past couple of weeks I lost many an hour to two of my favorite authors. I have some good news for fans of Lianne Moriarty and some bad news for fans of Lee Child.  Let’s start with the bad.  I love the Jack Reacher series.  I read the entire series last summer start to finish and was not disappointed.  I have waited a whole year to get my Jack Reacher fix and when I started reading Personal I found it very unsatisfying.   Reacher finds himself pulled back into the military to help stop an attack on the G8 Summit after a sniper tries to assassinate the French president.  The expertise of the marksman has led government and military intelligence to narrow the suspect pool down to a handful of individuals; one of which is a man who spent the last 15 years in jail thanks to Reacher.  The government has asked for Jack’s help in tracking the suspect down but are they using him as bait?  All of the elements were there, but something was missing.  Jack Reacher’s personality and idiosyncrasies were gone and the impossible escapades were toned down.  The best way I can describe it is to say it is Jack Reacher lite.  On the flip side, Liane Moriarty delivered big with Big Little Lies.  I love how Moriarty writes; her engaging tone makes you want to turn the page.  In her latest book, she continues her winning way  of writing from multiple women’s perspectives slowly revealing how their lives intersect.  Unlike The Husband’s Secret, her latest book is darkly humorous, but don’t worry. The story contains all of the twists and turns we anticipate from Moriarty.  The book starts with a tragic death during a parent’s night at a local elementary school in an affluent seaside community in Australia.  Moriarty then builds the story backwards, showing how three women, each at a crossroads in their life, played a role in the evening’s tragic ending.  I found it funny and thrilling with surprising depth.  It’s an absolutely wonderful read.” 

Pat T has finished the sequel to the Art of Hearing Heartbeats.  “The Well-Tempered Heart by Jan Philip Sendker follows Julia's story 10 years later.  She is a successful attorney at a crossroads in her life. One day, while preparing for a presentation, she hears the haunting voice of a wailing woman. Julia decides to return to her father's homeland of Burma to understand what she is hearing. With the help of her half-brother U Ba, they discover that it is the voice of a dead woman, Nu Nu, and together they learn the sad tale of Nu Nu's life.  In the search for answers, this becomes a journey of self-discovery for Julia, a stronger bond between brother and sister and of course a romance.”

Hello Steph!  What’s doin’?  “This weekend I read The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin. What a sweet and funny book! Fikry is a bookstore owner on a small island whose life has been going steadily downhill since his wife’s death, but the shocking discovery of a toddler abandoned in his bookstore changes his life quite a bit! A small mystery and a lovely romance round this out into a nice beach read for those who want to sneak in one more this year or alternatively if you’re already looking forward to fall, it would also be a pleasant fireplace read. This is perfect for fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.”

 Erin, Steph,  and I were invited to a Very Fancy Author Dinner for Jodi Picoult this week.  As you all know I never, ever say no to talking books and I most surely never, ever say no to dinner; most especially a Fancy Dinner.  But frankly, I dreaded the whole idea of singing for my Fancy Author Dinner which was reading Jodi’s new book which is coming out October. The last book of hers that I had read and enjoyed was My Sister’s Keeper which came out in 2005.  That’s all I am going to say about that.  But, from the moment I picked Leaving Time, I remembered why I liked her back in the day.  Jenna is a thirteen-year-old girl whose mother Alice is a scientist who specializes in elephants; specifically elephants and how they grieve.  Alice has been missing for the majority of Jenna’s life and Jenna refuses to believe that she could be dead.  So she enlists the help of Serenity Jones, a formerly famous TV Psychic and Virgil Stanhope, an alcoholic private detective. The story is told in alternating voices but it is the voice of Alice and her field notes on the grieving rituals of elephants that make this so compelling.  This one is due out in October.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC has something to say from The State Up North. Will she be North enough to see this?  There has to be something worthy about living up there.   “This was a weird week in my world. I’m blaming the last full perigee moon of the year. Please don’t tell Neil deGrasse Tyson I said that. I know, I know correlation is not causation and if he found out it might make him cranky and nobody likes a cranky astrophysicist. I’m stuck in a few transitions. Back to school, summers’ nearing end, the beginning of one thing and the end of another. I am not ready to say goodbye to summer and we don’t officially have to do that until September 22nd. So, I still have my shorts, white jeans and one pair of flip-flops on hand. But I can resist the seasonal change for only so long before I’ll be forced to throw my hands up in surrender and shrug on a sweater or coat of some sort. So if you’re stuck in a transition of your own, it’s perfectly ok to sit there for a while. Look up at the sky, contemplate, reflect and move on when you are ready. Like the planets and stars above we operate on our own specific timetable of movement and change. And let’s face it, saying goodbye is something that is very, very hard to do.”




You Are What You Read!

First of all, a thank you to the Ever Gracious Priscilla S who gifted us with a box of taffy from her beloved Island.  Thanks Priscilla!  We are happy you’re home and that’s not just the sugar talking.  As always, the SoNo Loft has given me something to make me pause and think hard on during my commute. For those new to this space, the SoNo Loft is a piece of charm and whimsy that gladdens my rather charm-free, whimsy-less commute every week.  It is a banner hung from a deck in SoNo with a new message every week.  This message is only visible from a train bound for New York and only on the left side of the train with you facing the front of the train.  This week’s banner declares “Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.”  Which, when you think about it, is just about the most perfect  message for the start of fall, back to school, back to life,  time of year.  These are things that are very easy to forget when you are rushing around from place to place trying to keep your head above water and several balls in the air. Just remember the following; that sometimes the best answer to a problem is the simplest one, that patience can be hard to practice but will always be rewarded in its own quiet way, and the compassion we show towards each other can make a hard world seem a little easier.  And don’t forget!  You are not alone in finding getting back into the swing of things daunting.  We are all circling the same drain.  So Simplicity, Patience, Compassion!  Onward People and thanks SoNo Loft!  We love you guys even if you never answer our tweets. This week we have some Q and A, secrets, sisters, Indochina, a fever and a key.  Playlist?  Of course!  We can’t have you all running around without a soundtrack! That would be cruel.

Let us begin!

Miss Lisa of the CL is back with this offering:  “I want to recommend The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. Written by a thirteen-year-old Japanese boy with autism, the book is a series of questions with answers such as ‘Why do you ask the same questions over and over?’  and ‘Why do you like being in the water?’ Higashida has a huge heart and on every page asks for compassion and understanding for people with autism, while revealing the world he lives in with detail, clarity, and charm.  If you want to learn more about autism, this is a gem.  Hearing the voice and thoughts of someone with autism, instead of what others have to say about it, is extremely valuable. “

Barbara M stuck with Thrity Umrigar’s latest The Story Hour.  “This novel is about love, friendship and secrets. After attempting suicide, Lakshimi, an immigrant from India, becomes the patient of Maggie, an American psychologist. What begins as a professional relationship turns into an uneasy friendship where the two share stories and secrets. There are unexpected twists to the story as it unfolds and one’s original alliances and sympathies are challenged. At first I was put off by Lakshmi’s broken English, and while I got used to it and understood why it was important, I still found it jarring. Although I found the story a bit implausible, I could not stop reading it.”

The Fabulous Babs B is watching and reading this week.  What did she think of Lucky Us by Amy Bloom and the film classic Indochine? “In Lucky Us we have the story of two half-sisters, (one legitimate, the other illegitimate) of a professor in a small Ohio town, in the late 1930's.  The younger daughter, Eva, was dumped by her Mother into the home of the Father and older sister, Iris.   When the two sisters take off to Hollywood where Iris plans to become a movie star, this book becomes a study of contrasts about how the sisters behave at different stages and situations in life.  It was a fun and quick read!  I also watched Indochine where the beautiful Catherine Deneuve stars as Eliane Devries, the icy owner of a prosperous rubber plantation in French Indochina.  When her adopted Indochinese daughter innocently falls in love with Elaine's secret lover, the scandalous triangle threatens to destroy their entire family.   Set against the violence of the bloody Communist uprising, this is a wrenching tale of love and war with absolutely breathtaking scenery.  Thank you to my son for making me watch this with him!”

The Ever Delightful Pat S is reading What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins which is easily one of my favorites of the year.  What did she think?  “This is a fascinating story about a woman named Laura Bridgman who had scarlet fever at the age of two. She was left without four of her five senses: sight, hearing, taste, and smell. Her only remaining sense was touch. Taken to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston she learned language via hand signing and was able to communicate. By the mid-nineteenth century she was the second most famous woman in the world-second only to Queen Victoria. What is Visible is the fictionalized story of her inner life; her perceptions of the people and circumstances she encounters. While her story highlights her fierce intelligence, it also underlines her palpable sense being alone, and ultimately loneliness. This is a story which haunts long after the last page has turned. “

I can be found driving some days, which you know makes me most unhappy, but there are times it can’t be helped. It is especially heinous now that summer is over and the roads are not really roads but parking lots where one inches toward your destination. To make this a bit less painful, I have been listening to the audio book of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.  Nine-year-old Oskar Schell lost his father on 9/11 and has been feeling his absence keenly.  When he discovers a key among his possessions he takes it as a sign that his father wants him to find the lock that it belongs to.   Running parallel with Oskar’s story is the story of his grandparents who hail from Dresden.  The narration of the story is nothing short of wonderful.  So while I am late to the party on this book, I am very happy to say I did eventually make it and would recommend this story to anyone not only looking to be entertained, but also looking for a marvelous literary tour-de-force.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named with The Playlist and these closing thoughts.  What’s doing Pats? “There are times when the Loft’s message and my own experience are in perfect sync. This week I went to my first PTA parent coffee for class sign-ups and to hear the elementary principal say a few words, setting the tone for the school year. For his theme, he focused on parents as primary teachers and models for their children. Despite a microphone, I could not hear the principal over the chattering parents. I was appalled and frankly embarrassed by my fellow parents’ behavior. I crossed the room so I could better hear him. He seemed unfazed by their chatter and joked about how it was challenging to compete with parents who hadn’t seen each other all summer. He ended with a video by Kid President on the 20 Things We Should Say More Often.  Let’s take on this challenge and put into practice the 20 Things and don’t forget the bonus… Let’s dance!”


You Are What You Read!

Happy Labor Day weekend! Even though this is the last weekend to rock the white pants I say forget that.  We fought winter too hard to yield to autumn just yet and this has been the most beautiful summer I can remember.  Please don’t misunderstand. I love fall as much as the next girl.  What’s not to love about College football (Let’s go Bucks! Beat Navy!), cider and donuts, back-to-school shopping, crisp clear mornings and pretty foliage?  I get the appeal.  But I am not ready to go gentle into the good night of fall. I am going to string this out as long as I can.  I will continue to revel in gorgeous tomatoes, basil and burratta on the dinner table (please save me a ball Fairfield Cheese Company!), the bare leg, an occasional ice cream treat, trips to the beach, a glass of rosé, and yes, the white pant.  So no judging when you see me in white pants in the upcoming weeks.  Please remember that we are closed on Monday but you will see us back at it on Tuesday morning at 9 when we open the doors again.  This week we have yet another TV series, infidelity, dogs, detectives, and some burnt toast.  Playlist?  Times 2 Baby!

Let us begin!

Abby has another series to offer us. “A few years ago, I started watching a show on AMC called The Killing. Based on a popular Danish TV series, this US version is set in Seattle against a background of gray days and rain filled sky. The lead characters are detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder. Linden has a troubled personal history and a dangerous tendency to immerse herself in her homicide cases to the exclusion of all else, including her young son.  Holder is a former undercover cop with his own set of troubles. After 2 seasons, The Killing was cancelled but fan outrage brought it back for another try. Season 3 left us with such an intense and breathtaking ending, it was tough to turn off the television once it was over. Netflix brought The Killing back for a final season on August 1st .This series is not for the squeamish and if too much intensity before bedtime keeps you up, watch during daytime hours.” 

Sweet Ann finished Life Drawing by Robin Black.  “Augusta, who is known as Gus, and Owen have decided to marry and put her infidelity behind them. They feel their best chance to move forward is to isolate themselves from the outside world by retreating to a cottage in rural Pennsylvania where Owen can write and Gus can paint. While Owen has forgiven Gus he has asked her not to have any contact with her former lover or his daughter, who was one of Gus' art students.  They are doing well until Alison, also an artist, rents a nearby cabin.  This novel opens with the death of Owen and as a reader you will follow the lies and betrayals to figure out whom or what caused his death.  Life Drawing is an enjoyable read.”

Pat T is in the middle of reading Travels with Casey: My Journey Through our Dog-Crazy Country by Benoit Denizet–Lewis.  “In case you are wondering about the title of this book, it bears no relation to Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. As the author says this is the real deal, he traveled 13,000 miles across the United States in an RV with his nine year old Labrador mix. Together they had a full range of dog related experiences from a stop in Westport to help a couple search for their lost dog, and New York City’s Tompkins's Park where one of the regulars said, ‘Hey, man. If you can survive a day in a dog park in New York City, you can survive anywhere!’ With that sentiment, they continue their travels to D.C. and western Virginia stopping at a winery with a sign that set the tone of the place: Slow Please-Dogs, Kids and Winemakers at Play! I will continue reading about this man-dog adventure because it is fun for anyone, like me, who is a dog-lover!”

Stephanie is picking up where she left off last week. “A banner week for mysteries! First, I read the remaining David Mark book, Sorrow Bound, to make good on my promise last week. It was as good as the first two, so I definitely recommend the Detective Sergeant McAvoy series to all the UK mystery fans out there, especially those who love Denise Mina and/or Luther. Louise Penny also has a new book this week: The Long Way Home. I didn’t love it quite as much as the last one, but it’s still very good, and even a bit of a tear-jerker. We should have known that Chief Inspector Gamache could retire and still have detective work to do. I do feel a bit sad for him that he can’t retire quietly, but I’m happy for us that she’s still writing the series. Either book would be a lovely page-turning companion for Labor Day weekend reading!

I took Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good:  A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family by Kathleen Flinn to the beach last weekend.  It is billed as a “family history with recipes” and indeed it is just that.  The youngest of five, Flinn tells us the story of her family and more to the point her family’s time at the table and traditions.  Be assured this is not a sickeningly saccharine memoir.  There is just enough family drama and secrets to keep you interested.  The only chapter that I skipped was the chapter where her oldest sister embraces the clown lifestyle. That’s all I am going to say about that. The recipes aren’t anything earth shattering or special but when Flinn puts them into the context of her family’s story they become as important to the narrative as the family pictures that begin each chapter.  I also highly recommend The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Flinn.

Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC with her take on the long weekend. “The long, slower summer days are rapidly coming to an end and fall will be here soon. Mornings already carry a chill that wasn’t in the air last week. Next week, my children will start another school year and I will post pictures of them going on their way. My current project is to can every last summer fruit and vegetable. I’m putting summer in a jar to be kept on a shelf. I know there will be a day when we are waist deep in snow banks and it will be then that I’ll open a cabinet and reach inside for a jar of summertime. Proust had his madeleines and while I am no Marcel Proust but I will have my own jars of summer preserves, and my own Remembrance of Things Past. This week I invite you to create something for that time when you need a little reminder of summer.  

Back to School 

What's the Color of Art

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You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Our thanks this week to Diane H who bought our love with some stellar chocolate chip cookies!  AND she did it even though she wasn’t even Summering.  Thanks again Diane!   This is our last weekend of Darien: The Left Behind.  So for those of you who are here with us, enjoy the last of no long lines at Palmer’s, a quieter Sugar Bowl, an I-95 that does not resemble a mall parking lot at Christmas, premium parking available at the Stations and  even a seat on the train.  As for the rest of you Summering, a gentle reminder that our love can be easily bought with a smallish white box tied with white and red string.  This week marks the arrival of a new member of our library family.  Erica and her husband welcomed a son on Wednesday and we are so happy for them.  Congratulations Erica!   This week we have some perfume, cantankerous aunts, Japan, Scotland, an Archduke, and a hunch.  And of course we have The Playlist!  Of course!

Let us begin!

The Fabulous Babs B has just finished reading The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin.  “‘Her perfume entered before she did.  That was always a mistake.  Leave a slight trail like a memory behind you, but never let your perfume arrive before you.’  So begins this beautifully written historical fiction novel focusing on the history of the perfume industry and its role in World War II.  It is also the story of love, betrayal, survival and friendship.  I loved this quick and fascinating read.”

Miss Elisabeth of the CL is back and here is what she was doing while she was Summering.  “This weekend I read the first two books in Deanna Rayborn’s Lady Julia Grey mystery series, and they were exactly what I needed for my vacation; intrigue, romantic entanglements, and nefarious poisoners abound! In Silent in the Grave, the first book, we meet Victorian Lady Julia Grey, who is saddened but not surprised when her husband of 5 years, who has always had a weak heart, dies suddenly at a dinner party. She is surprised, however, when private detective Nicholas Brisbane comes to call and insists that her husband was murdered. It seems Lord Grey received threatening letters before his death and hired Brisbane to find out who was trying to do him in. Reluctant at first, Julia becomes a believer when she finds one of the mysterious notes while cleaning out her husband’s room, and teams up with Brisbane to solve the murder. The murder mystery twists and turns beautifully and the details of life in the Victorian era make one long for silk gowns trimmed in velvet. The second book, Silent in the Sanctuary, finds Julia home after 6 months abroad in Italy, just in time to spend Christmas with her 10 siblings, their spouses and children, cantankerous great-aunts, Nicholas Brisbane, and a cold-blooded murderer. The whole series is a lot of fun!”

Barbara M is playing catch-up.  “There have been many books and authors that I’ve missed when they were popular. I’m trying to catch up and I’m glad because I might have never read Gail Tsukiyama’s novels. So far I’ve read Women of the Silk, The Language of Threads and The Samurai’s Garden and I’ve loved all of them. Tsukiyama is an American author of Chinese and Japanese heritage and her novels incorporate the troubled history of these two cultures. The Samurai’s Garden is a beautiful story, set in the 1930s, of a young Chinese man sent to his family’s country house in rural Japan to recuperate from tuberculosis. The relationship he forms with the housekeeper Matsu is profound and evolves into a deep bond between the two. Tsukiyama’s writing is beautiful and the characters develop into real people so much so that I hated finishing the book.”

Amanda has just started Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  “I picked up this book after watching the first episode of the new Starz TV show. The episode was alright: nothing to write home about. However, I've been in search of a new audiobook, so I decided to give the Outlander novels a try. I was blown away! Claire was a WWII nurse who after the end of the war is visiting Scotland with her husband. She eventually gets thrown back in time to the 1750s and struggles to survive in her new surroundings as an English outsider i.e. an Outlander. I'm only on chapter two, but what has captured me is the sweet, romantic, fun, and authentic bond she has with her husband. The TV episode portrayed Frank as being very stiff-upper-lip and reserved. He's nothing like the guy jumping on the bed and running down the lane to go geek out over local historical customs like Frank is in the book. So my suggestion is to skip the TV show and go straight to the source material where you'll be delighted by the rich relationships and details that make the heroine come to life. “

Pat S has just finished The Assassination of the Archduke by Greg King and Sue Woolmans.  “In full disclosure, my knowledge about WWI has always been a bit murky at best.  But as this is the centennial of the war, I thought I might at least find out how it started and The Assassination of the Archduke seemed to be as good a place to start as any. Yes, the Archduke was assassinated and mayhem flowed from there, but who and why?  King and Woolmans have done an excellent job creating a very moving and sympathetic portrait of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his Bohemian wife, Sophie Chotek. Based upon recently opened primary documents, the everyday, often tragic life of this couple is recounted-from their star-crossed courtship to their brutal murder. The myriad of quotidian details presents a wonderful snapshot of upper-class Edwardian life, in addition to recounting the tale of a devoted love story set against a background of political. It’s a fascinating read!”

Steph is trying something new this week.  “I have a new mystery writer this week: David Mark. At least he’s new to me. After reading great reviews of the newest book in the Detective Sergeant McAvoy series, Sorrow Bound, I wanted to start at the beginning with his books. So I read The Dark Winter and Original Skin, the first two books in the series. They were fantastic! This series would be perfect for fans of Denise Mina or Louise Penny.  McAvoy is a gruff giant of a detective who is familiar to the British procedural reader: driven by his hunches and devoted to solving murders in the face of great corruption. As with Mina and Penny, the stories are less than straightforward.  They circle around several plots involving multiple characters, and McAvoy’s home life is always crucial to the cases at hand. The stories are a little rough, so they’re definitely not for cozy mystery fans, but anyone who can handle Luther will feel right at home. I will report back next week about the new one!”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC has been having a rough week in The State Which Shall Not Be Named.  Not even the news of my boy Braxton Miller’s need to take this year off cheered her up.  What’s doing Pats?  “I’ve been completely bummed out by many things happening in the world. It would seem there is lots of unhappiness everywhere I turn.  I’ve been holding my breath waiting for some kind of good news. Wunder-Jen delivered that to me this week with a picture of a sweet new baby boy that joined our library family. Thanks, Jen! We’re going to take action and reboot our vacation vibe with a little lakeside camping. My son will check camping and fishing off his summer ‘To Do’ list and I will spend time with my brother and his lovely wife while indulging and corrupting my four-year-old nephew. So if you too are feeling like life is a little bit crazy and out of control remember it’s always good to gather your loved ones and give them a big hug. DL Bounce Back 2014

New eBooks from 3M

Selected by Jen
Selected by Jen

Here are the new titles available from 3M.

New eBooks from OverDrive

Selected by Jen
Selected by Jen

Here are the new titles available from OverDrive.

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

First things first this week!   We must give a shout out and thank you to Nina and Dave M who obeyed us this week and found space in the suitcase for some stellar taffy.  Thanks Nina and Dave!  It was delish.  Remember People!  We are here at home, tending to things while you Summer.  The weather has been so delightfully cool it’s safe to put fudge in the suitcase too.  The message from the SoNo Loft this week is an interesting one. " We Are All Shamans." Merriam Webster defines a Shaman as “someone who is believed in some cultures to be able to use magic to cure people who are sick, to control future events, etc.” We all have the power to bring a little magic into each other’s lives.  Sometimes it’s in the form of Taffy and Fudge.  Sometimes it’s finding the absolutely right book that is needed at exactly that moment.  Think about how much those small things can mean and then make sure that you do a Shaman like deed this week.   This weekend Erin will be at Weed Beach from 10-2 spreading a whole lot of Summer Magic in the form of Darien Library Koozies (sanctioned beverages only please), a nice selection of summer reads and of course some friendly games of cornhole. Stop by, say hi and remember no wagering!  This week we have some sailing, a murder, a stack, some dementia, a 14-year-old, spy craft, Australia, and of course we have The Playlist!

Let us begin!

Erin has been using our very cool streaming tool Hoopla.  “This weekend I watched an excellent documentary that I borrowed through Hoopla. The film Maidentrip follows Laura Dekker, the Dutch teenager who became the youngest woman to sail around the world solo. It is part adventure story, part coming-of-age documentary and is mostly comprised of Laura’s own footage. I was completely enthralled with Laura’s insights into travel, patriotism, independence, and family. Because the film follows her two-year journey, you actually see her grow up on screen. I highly recommended it.”

Sweet Ann has just finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  “This novel takes place in the beautiful community of Pirriwee, Australia.  It is at the public school where we meet the main characters of this novel when three women enroll their children in kindergarten.  Madeline has a daughter with her second husband entering the school, as well as an older daughter.  Celeste is married with twin boys and is keeping a dark secret from her friends. Jane is a single mom with a son who is new to the town.   This novel opens with a murder and then takes the reader back to months before the incident.  While the novel does have humor,  Ms. Moriarty tackles some serious subjects as well in her story. There is bullying, infidelity, and domestic abuse. This is a real page turner .”

Abby is tackling The Stack that we all have.   Here is what she thought of Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.  “Over vacation I vowed to read a book that’s been on the To Be Read Stack for a long time.  I can be fussy about how an author puts together a story and this complex and layered mystery converges beautifully. At the center of the story is Jackson Brodie, a former police officer turned private investigator. Brodie feels badly for billing clients for lost causes but understands a case may sometimes be about more than a result. Sometimes a desperate person just wants to know someone is working on their behalf.  The story begins with a missing child from an eccentric family 35 years ago and the impact that event had on the family.  Case Histories is a poignant mix of hope and sadness. I plan to read more of her work. “

Laura is in the middle of reading Jo Walton’s My Real Children. “I am reading a novel that has been classified as a science fiction novel, but I am not convinced that it is sci-fi.  Jo Walton's My Real Children begins in 2015, in a hospital where the elderly protagonist Patty is suffering from memory loss.  Then 100 plus pages into the book, the story revolves around two story lines of Patty's character during World War II. One is  a loving, youthful and promising courtship turned depressing marriage.  The other life is free of the traditional bounds of the era raising three children with her lesbian lover, and openly living between sunny Italy and England.  The time frame and the use of switching the protagonist’s story lines is very similar to Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, which I truly loved reading.   My Real Children is easy to read, so I am not going to give up on it.”

Virginia, everyone’s favorite Tall Cool Texan is a little late to the party for Tell the Wolves I 'm Home but we’re happy she showed up just the same. What’s your take Virginia?  “You will have to excuse my rambling, but I am suffering from a book hangover.  You know the feeling, where you stay up all night, telling yourself, ‘just one more chapter,’ and then the next thing you know its daylight and you finished the book.  Then comes the regret because when you find a book that good, you want to portion it out and make it last as long as possible.  This is exactly what happened to me with the exceptional Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.  The book actually came out in 2012 and I am not sure how I missed it.  It’s set in 1987 and is a coming of age story for June Elbus, a shy fourteen-year-old girl who just lost her beloved uncle to AIDS. It is about the power of love, the impact of death, the effects of disease, and the strength of friendship and family.   It is a beautiful book and has just moved to the top of my summer favorites.”

Stephanie is avoiding Real World Duties our favorite way.  By escaping into a book.  No judging Steph. No judging, “I had such a great time reading Back Channel by Stephen L. Carter. I was supposed to be doing important things, and ignored all of them to finish the book, because once I got into it, I couldn’t stop myself. Carter, who is a master of gripping historical fiction, has imagined a world in which the Cuban Missile Crisis is only resolved through the daring work of Miss Margo Jensen. Margo, one of the only black women attending Cornell, thinks her life is complicated enough, and then she’s accidentally (or is it an accident?), through a professor, pulled into a web of spy craft that would make John Le Carre drool. She becomes the only person through whom Khrushchev will communicate.  The only way she can get his messages to Kennedy is to take advantage of Kennedy’s  reputation and appear to become one of his mistresses. As with any Cold War spy story, there are double crosses galore, and the suspense is killer.  I honestly had no idea whether Carter was going to actually resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis! Historical fiction, literary fiction, thriller, this book has got everything.

Thomas and I have been working through Miss Fisher’s Murder MysteriesMiss Krishna and Miss Elisabeth of the CL are rabid evangelists for this series and with good reason.  But make no mistake; this is a most adult series.  The Honorable Phryne Fisher is taking 1920’s Melbourne by storm and advertising her availability as a Lady Detective.  She solves murders, has men panting at her feet, and she enjoys every moment.  The cinematography is lush and the period details are wonderful. 

What’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC doing in the State Which Shall Not Be Named this weekend?  She’s here to tell us.  Hey Pats!  “We’ve returned from Up North and this Saturday we’ll be parked in lawn chairs enjoying the world’s largest one-day rolling car show down Woodward Avenue aka America’s first highway.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Woodward Dream Cruise. It’s a big ole slice of Americana. People are already camping out in lawn chairs lining the Avenue, swapping and sharing stories of cars they’ve owned or otherwise longed to own. Last year, I mistakenly found myself driving smack in the middle of it. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Everyone was happy, windows rolled down, tops off the convertibles all sharing a high that might have had something to do with the primitive emissions systems on the older cars or just a shared love of a wheeled machine. Imagine 40,000 classic cars and 1 million people here for the event. Now imagine how excited my 7-year-old son will be as it rolls down OUR street. I call everything a “rat rod” just ‘cause I like the phrase. I am corrected by my son who then gives me the actual make of the vehicle. He’s like the Rain Man of automobiles. Though I love this celebration and communion of folks with a shared love of tinkering, wheels and stories, I must admit that I don’t love the pollution it spews. So here’s another Detroit story about a greener, but equally cool cruise.   So wherever you are, jump in your own personal ‘rat rod,’ roll down the windows, crank up the tunes and enjoy this uniquely American pleasure. Certainly a cruise of this magnitude deserves a serious playlist and a hashtag. Yep, we’ve got that covered. Follow along with #WoodwardDreamCruise on Twitter and Instagram.
I’ll see you on the road. 




You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

We have lots of smallish things to discuss this week starting with the words from the SoNo Loft which are: “I must reveal my deepest thought:  I love you train.  I am ready to take this to the next level.”  I have no idea what is meant by this.  But rest assured I will be keeping my eyes open and when I know, so will you.  We are in the beginning days of Darien:  The Left Behind. This is a spot we find ourselves in every August when you all decamp to places where one Summers as a verb leaving us behind to tend the home fires.  Things are so quiet that there were only 4 police reports in the paper this week.   If you are reading this on a beach/lake/mountaintop we hope you are having fun and we would like to remind you that fudge and taffy are always appreciated and it is possible to buy our love with food.  Finally this weekend we have the second Super Full Moon of the summer.  Some of the things we have seen this week confirms that the Full Moon is indeed on its way and it will indeed be Super.  I will let you all use your imaginations on that and suffice it to say that your imaginations cannot begin to match our reality.  I think the only reason it is not making us run for the Hills and building a Bunker stocked with canned goods and alcohol is that the heat and humidity that usually accompany an August full moon just aren’t there. To say we are grateful is an understatement.  This week we have DC and New York, Nigeria and Hollywood,   disappointment, Chicago, Mississippi, youthful optimism, France and of course there will always be an England.  And of course we have The Playlist.

Let us begin!

Welcome back Barbara M!  Barbara was away for a while but now she’s back and we could not be more pleased.  You were missed!  “This week I will digress from my usual format. Uncharacteristically I have watched two incredible series. When I finished the second season of House of Cards I was distraught. It was so well scripted, and so well-acted, that I didn’t think I could watch another series. Kevin Spacey plays a Washington, D.C. hotshot with enough ambition and chutzpa to take on the world. He is married to Robin Wright, with the same demonic drives. Together they are determined to climb to the top. I was hooked by the first episode and was seriously suffering at the end of the second season with withdrawal until I decided to try Orange is the New Black. Orange is the New Black is both a very dark comedy and a drama. Piper Chapman, played by Taylor Schilling, is a rich, privileged New Yorker who gets involved in a drug smuggling ring, gets arrested and then sent to prison. Again the Netflix writers have done an incredible job at developing the characters. It is funny (in a perverse way), poignant and absolutely, engrossing.”

Steph!  What’s doing this week?  “This week I have two totally different books to recommend. The first is Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I have wanted to read this book for months, so much so that I bought my own copy to take on vacation with me. Given all the great reviews and best-of lists, I was certain it would be great, and it exceeded even my high expectations. Adichie is a genius. The story alternates between two teenage sweethearts: we watch them fall in love and then lose each other as Ifemelu leaves Nigeria for America and becomes an academic, and Obinze tries his luck as an undocumented immigrant in London and then makes his fortune back in Nigeria. Both of them experience the pains and triumphs of adulthood apart, but never stop thinking of each other even as years of silence pass. The story slowly circles towards the first time they’ll both be in Nigeria in years, and by the end I wasn’t sure what would happen or even what I wanted to happen! Adichie’s writing is so funny but it it also cutting.  I read the first 100 pages in a blur, completely losing track of time. Though Adichie is Nigerian, I’d nominate this book for Great American Novel any day of the week. And then for something completely opposite, we have The Actress by Amy Sohn. Yes, that’s the one that’s based on the TomKat story. A minor actress is catapulted to fame through her marriage to a high-profile actor. But is the whole marriage just a cover for his gay relationships? Who can she trust in the depths of Hollywood? And who has she become? Great American Novel it is not but it’s the perfect page-turning smart beach read. This is a  book custom-made for the dog days of August.”

Alison F is our numbers person but occasionally she’ll grab something with letters in it. Sadly this was not her week for a happy result.  “I just finished reading The Three by Susan Lotz   and I was very disappointed.  Thrillers should build and keep building and keep your attention until you get the answers.  While I will say that the author was able to build his characters in the end the plot crashed and burned. So disappointed.”

The Fabulous Babs B is here with The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. What did you think Babs? “This is the story of a kidnapping gone wrong.  Mia, the black sheep daughter of a prominent Chicago judge is the target and the plot unfolds in four different perspectives:  Mia, Mia's mother Eve, Gabe, the detective assigned to the case and Colin, the kidnapper.  I must admit I was confused in the beginning reading the before and after segments of each character. My advice is to just be patient, it all comes together I'm happy to report and there is a big twist at the end.  Fans of Gone Girl will enjoy this one!”

The Ever Delightful Pat S had finished one of my favorites and here is her take on Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth. “A debut novel, Flying Shoes is nothing short of being an unpolished jewel. Set in a small, insular university town in Mississippi, the story revolves around the unsolved murder of the nine- year -old brother of the main character Mary Byrd Thornton. Thirty five years later, new information comes to light requiring Mary Byrd to find her way to Richmond to meet with her remaining family and the detectives re-opening this cold case-in the midst of a devastating winter ice storm-and we’re off to the races! In true Southern literary tradition, Howorth richly describes small town university life in the south with a cast of memorable characters reinforcing the unpredictability and sheer absurdity of living. It was hard to close the last page on Mary Byrd, Teever, Ernest and Foote-and I am missing them still. Cannot wait to see what this author does next!”

Pat T recently listened to the audio version of The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan. “I found her collection of fiction and non-fiction essays to be full of youthful energy, optimism, profound and yet lighthearted. Her essays are a testament to her talent, as well as being her legacy, since she tragically passed away shortly after her college graduation. I enjoyed reading this book because it gives voice to the ideas, hopes and dreams and concerns of the twenty-something generation.”

This week one of our patrons Shirley O has submitted a review for us.  She has just finished Robert Harris's An Officer and A Spy and here is what she thought of it.  Welcome Shirley!  “As always, Harris writes so well that you are immersed in the true story of Alfred Dreyfus.   The way he tells about this episode of French bigotry and how it was it is solved is so exciting that you will think you are in 1890’s France. I think everyone should read this book because a lot of people have never heard of the Dreyfus Affair and this is a wonderful way of learning about it.”

I am very excited about my newest Blow Dry Book. Those who are frequent visitors know that I read while I blow dry my hair.  Because it’s a boring chore and I come from a people who believe that any time you are bored it is your own fault and you are not being resourceful enough to entertain yourself. There are requirements to Blow Dry Books.  The chapters need to be short and engaging, and you need to be able to easily pick up where you left off.  Books of letters are the perfect Blow Dry Books.  In Darling Monster: The Letters of Lady Diana Cooper to Son John Julius Norwich, 1939-1952 by Lady Diana Cooper we have what is one of the most engaging Blow Dry Books I have come across in a long time.   This lovely collection spans some of the most tumultuous years in British history and Lady Diana and her husband Duff Cooper were right in the middle of it all.  In these letters we see a doting mother explaining a trip to the states to help sway American opinion away from Isolationism along with a plea to remember to say your prayers.  It’s simply charming. 

And here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC .  Still in the State Which Shall Not Be Named.  What’s good Pats?  "This summer has kept me busy. Very, very busy keeping secret surprises and catering things like my cousins’ 25th wedding anniversary, a top-secret cousin engagement (that also involved cooking) now throw in a visit from lovely CT friends and Maker Faire Detroit. This was all in the last two weeks! Frankly, I’m feeling slightly exhausted. This week marks my 21st wedding anniversary to my wonderful partner and our annual extended family trek Up North. If you know anything about Michigan, you know that folks go Up North during the summertime. Ernest Hemingway spent summers of his youth here and wrote a powerful short story, Up in Michigan. We will not be vacationing in Petoskey but will go further north around Little Traverse Bay to Harbor Springs; the place where Ernest arrived by train then traveled to Petoskey. Our own Up North is a sweet little town with artesian spring water fountains, a fantastic farmers market and a great independent bookstore, Between the Covers. My favorite find in town is the library over Howse’s Fudge shop. Up North 25 of us will share our lives for a week. We will bike in gangs, drink from those artesian fountains, shop locally, play Euchre, cook for the clan and most importantly tell and share stories. Memories will be made and my camera will be documenting non-stop much to the protest of my loving father-in-law. I’ve been blessed to belong to a family of makers, tinkers and educators. This is our vacation. Hope you enjoy yours. Don’t forget to send us a postcard. I’ve got the fudge covered."

DL Vacation On!  2014

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