You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to The Labor Day Weekend Edition of You Are What You Read.  This week’s housekeeping is as follows:  Thanks to Karyn A for this week’s taffy and to Diane H for the chunk of cheese.  Diane, Steph is off the next two weeks doing some sort of wacky, not at all life altering thing like getting married. I cannot guarantee that this cheese will still be alive when she gets back, but I’ll do my best. The word/wish from The SoNo Loft is ‘You are Fearless”.  The deck is still being worked on and they have to hang it vertically now.  Here’s hoping the railing comes back soon. People, go out and be fearless please.  The Loft commands it! 

Here we are at the end of Summer 2015.  This summer was unusual in that Memorial Day was on the earliest possible day and Labor Day is occurring on the last possible day giving us a full 15 weeks of summer.  The next time this will happen is 2020, and I am looking forward more to the promise of a full 15 than the candidacy of Kanye.  Although there are possibilities in that; I mean if Kim can make the cover of Vogue?  The sky is the limit for those two. Anyway, this weekend will find me and the Traveling Companion hopefully on my favorite beach in town, soaking up the last rays of summer like a snake on a rock.  It’s a small secluded beach that is just that.  It’s a beach.  There are no concession stands, no playgrounds, no volleyball nets, just surf and sand and rock. What makes this appealing is the utter lack of screaming children, the smell of old grease in the air and college students with dubious taste in music. Because the parking lot is small, occasionally you will get turned away.  It’s a chance I am always willing to take because it’s that kind of peaceful.  Of course there will be a few more weekends to pack the cooler with contraband and Solos and a lovely lunch, but there’s something about the finality of Labor Day that will make that final pack up on Monday afternoon feel bittersweet.  Thank goodness college football is starting back up.  That makes things a little better. Let’s go Bucks! We wish you a lovely long weekend and remember we won’t be here on Monday so neither should you.  We’ll see everybody on Tuesday.

This week we have a widower, New York, Paris, and an Island.  Long Island if you please.

The Playlist? Of course!

Let us begin!

Pat T is revisiting something from earlier this summer; Our Souls at Night, by Ken Haruf. “A widow living in a small town in Colorado makes a very unusual proposition to a neighboring widower. When Lou takes Addie up on her offer they soon settle into a comfortable friendship, enjoying each other's company during the day, as well as during the evening! However, their new arrangement is threatened by the interference of Lou and Addie's adult children who see the arrangement as improper. What happens to their friendship left me stunned and disappointed! This story reinforces something that we intrinsically know but fail to recognize all too often; the human spirit is fully alive only when we feel connected to one another!”

The Always Fabulous Babs B just finished House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure.  “This is a great historical novel that sees New York's Gilded Age with an architect's eye. Familiar figures like the legendary Mrs. Astor and Stanford White help set the scene, and the author embarks on a splendid page-turner as a respectable family discovers its criminal side in old New York.  Since Belfoure is an architect, his knowledge of the craft enriches his portrait of the main character, John Cross. Readers of the Paris Architect will love this book!”

Barbara M is asking questions this week. “What is the cost of courage? For the Boulloche family the cost was a father and a mother and a son. The Cost of Courage by Charles Kaiser is a tribute to a family who was part of the French resistance during WWII. In 1940 the Boulloche family was living in the fashionable 7th arrondissement when the Nazis occupied Paris. Three of their children; Christiane, André and Jacqueline became active in the resistance movement. They never talked about their war experiences with their children until the author, Charles Kaiser, investigated and asked them to tell their story. This is an amazing story of conviction, patriotism and courage. It reads like an exciting thriller. Pair this with The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, a fictional story of the resistance.”

The Ever Delightful Pat S has a new obsession in The Affair, Season 1.  “The Affair explores the painful and wide-reaching emotional effects of an affair between two married people. Noah, fulltime teacher and fledgling author, is apparently happily married to Helen, mother of his four children. Living in New York City, they are spending the summer in Montauk with Helen’s wealthy family. It is here in Montauk that Noah finds himself in a chance meeting with Alison, a waitress at a local diner. Still awash in grief from the death of her only child, and trapped in a marriage that probably died the day her son did, Alison is desperately seeking a way out; from her grief, her marriage, from Montauk. And this is only the first episode! The story is told from the viewpoint of both Noah and Alison, which is an interesting device that reels the viewer in. Initially, I didn’t expect much but I will admit to binge-watching the entire first season in a weekend. The acting by Dominic West, Maura Tierney and Ruth Wilson stands on its’ own and just this morning I found myself trolling to find out when Season 2 begins. Definitely take a look.”

Here is DJ Jazzy Patty McC who I can happily report is not in The State Which Shall Not Be Named this week.  What’s good Pats and where are you?  “Today we are hitting the highway for our final road trip of the summer to attend a wedding. Our friend, whom we’ve known since high school, is having a BIG traditional Indian wedding smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania. We couldn’t be happier to celebrate these two wonderful people and their love for one another. Saris, kurtas and fabulous Indian jewelry will be worn over the course of the next three days. Feels like an auspicious time to be wed as this weekend will also mark the wedding of our dear Stephanie. So the next time you see Stephanie, stop and congratulate her on her new nuptial bliss. Happy Wedding Weekend!”

DL I DO, YOU DO, WE ALL DO!

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Full Sturgeon Moon Edition of You Are What You Read. Apparently, this is an excellent time to score some Sturgeon.  Who knew? This week’s housekeeping involves a mystery.  I am not sure who dropped off the North Carolina Taffy on Monday night because you left no name with Sue S.  But I thank you for it, and if it was your husband who I horrified with my Beach Self on Ocean Isle please pass along my most heartfelt apology. Honestly, I will never learn.  It is NEVER safe to go out thinking no one will ever see you in your natural state.   Oh, they’ll find you, trust me on this. They will find you with your naked face, dirty salt crusted hair, a baseball hat, and a bathing suit cover-up.  They’ll find you and they will physically recoil.  Trust.  The SoNo Loft has no message for us this week. I think that they are waiting for the work on the roof to be done already and the railing to go back up.  Here’s hoping that happens soon.


This week I sent an alert on Facebook to my brother and sister-in-law in New Jersey about those bears that were cavorting in a pool.  My brother and his family dwell in the Jersey and seem to have a never-ending parade of wildlife traipsing through their yard.  It feels as though Peter is constantly driving around the state with creatures ripe for relocation in the Have-A-Heart Trap in the back of his car.   For those that missed the Beach Blanket Bears here is the link.  My cousin Suzanne S who lives in Ohio chimed in with the thought that the Mama Bear may have been just Baby Bear Sitting some of those cubs with the way she was tossing them around.  I had to break it to Suzanne that seeing as this is the last week in August, and if you are a mother this is what your heart desires.  You want to throw your progeny out of stuff.  It may be a pool, it may be your house, but those kids are on your last nerve and it’s time for them to go already.  In fact, you want to toss them the gusto that an Australian saves for a Dwarf in a bar.  So Happy Back to School, Work, whatever it is that means the end of summer to you. The signs are all there People!  The mums and grasses are out next door and across the street and when I left Pilates on Monday night at 8, I was walking home in what can only be described as dusk.  It made me want to sit on the sidewalk and weep.  It’s simply a matter of time before we are all stuck behind that fume spouting, stopping every 3 feet school bus, with that annoying kid who is waving at you and making faces while we curse our 9-5 existence. So enjoy these last dregs of summer.

The Playlist? Yes! Yes!  Of course we’ve got that for you times two!

This week we have some defiance, Africa, a priest, and some aliens.

Let us begin!


We kick this week off with Virginia the Tall Cool Texan.  Here’s what she’s been up to.  “Irresistibly charming, poignantly funny, and heartbreakingly sad is how I would describe Anna McPartlin’s beautiful book, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes. I started crying two pages into this book, and by page three I was laughing through my tears. Rabbit Hayes is dying, and the novel starts with her being checked into hospice.  The young mother has only a few days to say her goodbyes, and tell her family and friends how much she loves them. Most of all she must make sure her young daughter feels safe and loved. I know, it sounds horribly bleak, but it isn’t. Her family and friends rally around Rabbit in the most beautiful ways; with defiant laughs, loyalty and inspiring strength. The story is told with a multi-perspective viewpoint so the reader can understand how Rabbit’s illness impacts each major character with flashbacks that contain a whirlwind of memories. The book is bittersweet, nostalgic and brave.  It is about a close-knit, boisterous, wonderful family wanting to make the most of every single moment they have left with their loved one, and not just with tears but with laughter.  And trust me, you will laugh.  You will cry, but you will also laugh. If you loved Me Before You and The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, then this book is for you.”


Abby is enjoying some African thoughts this week. “Alexandra Fuller captured my imagination with her memoirs recounting her time growing up in Africa.  As a child of British ex-pats who chose to live in an Africa stricken by civil wars, her writing is rich with wonderful storytelling. Fuller’s eccentric parents made life a big adventure for Alex and her siblings. The first two memoirs are Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. The Fuller’s feared living a mundane life at anything less than full-throttle. There is both great joy in how they choose to live, but also tremendous loss and pain.  Is it any wonder that as an adult, Alexandra realizes the chaos in which she grew up in is very much a part of who she is? Leaving Before the Rains Come deals with this issue. Married to an American with a passion for Africa, Alexandra begins a new life in America. As her marriage falters, she begins to look more closely at the chaos that ruled her childhood. Fuller is one of the best memoir writers working today and I appreciate her willingness to go deep inside all the corners of her life.”

Sweet Ann has just finished A History of Loneliness by John Boyne. “ This is a book I found while shelving here at the Darien Library.   This is the story of Ordran Yates, a man of faith who becomes a priest in the 1970's in Ireland.  The book travels back and forth in Ordran's life, from childhood, to the seminary, Rome, and as a chaplain of a boy's school in Ireland.  He entered the priesthood because his mother felt he had a calling.    You follow Father Yates from the beginning of his priesthood where priests are revered to the scandals that hit the church in the early 2000's where the whole church was rocked by the transgressions of certain priests and the higher church authorities who so wrongly protected them.  Father Ordran Yates is a believable character from the beginning. He loves his family, especially his sister Hannah and his two nephews, his church and his school.  He does question his faith at times and you are right there with him.  This is a very well written book and I recommend it highly. “

Steph is here and she is EXCITED!  “Hooray for Cixin Liu! His novel The Three-Body Problem won the Hugo Award for Best Novel this week, given annually to the best work of science fiction or fantasy for the previous year. It just happens that this week I read the sequel to that work this week, The Dark Forest. And it was just as good as his first book, except on an even grander scale. Three-Body focused on the effects of the discovery of an advanced alien civilization on China (both modern China and during the Cultural Revolution). Broadening the story, the sequel focuses on how learning that this civilization exists and is coming to destroy humanity affects the entire global community, starting now and heading by leaps and bounds 400 years into the future. Liu’s imagination has turned the classic alien-contact story into something new and enchanting. These are a real pleasure to read, even for those who don’t usually read hard sci-fi.  There’s a reason these were instant classics when first published in China.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC!  What's good Pats? "Like those bears playing in the backyard pool, I’m still celebrating summer. Sure we’ve been doing those necessary back to school tasks like buying school supplies, purchasing new shoes and getting haircuts. I’ve filled out numerous forms (I must say the online computerized school forms make me VERY happy) and the kids have attended the back to school events and even a high school football game. We’ve got one more road trip scheduled before resuming the routine of daily lunches and the chilly morning trek to the bus stop. There’s still a little time left for us to swing on the play set and take a dip with a floatie. I encourage you to take full advantage of it. I know we will."


DL THE LAST SWIM 2015


DL Back To School 2013 

New eBooks from OverDrive

Here are the new books available from OverDrive.

X by Sue Grafton

The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

Most Likely to Succeed:  Preparing Our Kids for the New Innovation Era by Tony Wagner

Comfort Food Makeovers by America's Test Kitchen

Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb
 

Nice New Book Goodness

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Happy to be Home Edition of You Are What You Read. Here is this week’s housekeeping. First up; thanks to Steph for filling in for me last week.  She did a fabulous job in spite of the fact there were no cheese offerings from you all.  We are pleased to report that the winner of Guinea Pig Pride and Prejudice goes to Sooo-Z of Westport, CT who wrote us this:

I would love a copy of this book (if I'm not too late) as I am a guinea pig lover and pig mother to 4. It will go in my collection of other fabulous guinea pig literature and will be a welcome distraction from Edith Wharton's House of Mirth which I am laboring over right now.

I’ve been thinking (dangerous I know) and I have no doubt that Mrs. Wharton would not want to see Lily Bart portrayed by a guinea pig. I am pretty sure that putting a corset on a guinea pig would prove problematic. Anyway, we are so happy that this tome is going to a worthy bookshelf!  Congratulations to Sooo-Z! The SoNo Loft is indeed having roof repairs done and has had to use some creative thinking about how to best hang their message of good cheer.  Currently they are putting the sign on the corner of the building which makes it hard to see.  But this week’s message is You Are Worthy. So use that as you will and let’s hope that the railing comes back soon. There was no taffy or fudge, so we don’t need to discuss that.

This week I have been fascinated by a mystery that has taken to the web.  A small town photographer in Virginia found four sets of photographic negatives in a thrift store. Intrigued she took them home and scanned them and was stunned by what she saw.  They show young women in the surf just slightly turned away from the camera.  The Finder, Meagan Abell is now on the hunt to find the identity of the young women in the pictures and the photographer that took them.  She estimates may have been taken in the 40’s or 50’s and she thinks that she has pinpointed the location to being the Del Ray Peninsula in California. Here is the link to the story. If you can help Meagan out, tweet using #FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives and let us know too!  Even though I won’t read a mystery, I do love a Mystery.

This week we have some Hungarians, St. Thomas, blackouts, and Scout.

No mystery at all that there is The Playlist. Of course there’s a Playlist!

Let us begin!

Barbara M has just finished The Color of Smoke: An Epic Novel of the Roma by Menyhert Lakatos. “Written in the 1970s and just recently translated into English this is a gritty coming of age story of a Hungarian Roma loosely based on the author’s life between World War I and World War II. In the 1930s and 40s the Roma were segregated and persecuted as they have been for centuries. This book gives an insightful perspective on another way of life whose customs and mores are unfamiliar to most of us. While at times the book is repetitive and perhaps a bit too long, all in all it is fascinating and well worth the read.”

The Always Fabulous Babs B has delved into The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. “From the author of The Dovekeepers comes this forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas.  It centers on the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro; the Father of Impressionism. While growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800's, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris.  Rachel's mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the inquisition, is a tough cookie who refuses to live by the rules.  Rachel ends up in an arranged marriage to a widower 20 years her senior.  When her husband dies, Rachel falls in love with his much younger nephew Frederick, who arrives from France to settle his Uncle's estate.  So begins a defiant, passionate love affair that starts a scandal that affects all of Rachel's family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.  Once forgotten to history, the marriage of Rachel and Frederick is a story that is unforgettable. I could not stop thinking of it long after the book ended.”

The Amazing Amanda is really enjoying Mary Jo Putney’s books and this week it’s The Rake. “I enjoy romance novels where there is real conflict and drama going on in the characters’ lives. In the previous book in this series, Reggie was the villain. In his own work, you discover that he is full of self-hatred, desperation, and grief over a wasted life. He’s no youthful boy; he’s nearly 40-years-old and he has spent most of his time in drunken blackouts. He has given up on himself when he learns of his stolen inheritance which is his childhood home. Then he discovers his estate’s superb manager is a woman. Of course, things sizzle between them. Looking back, I can see some Beauty & the Beast allusions here with an anti-hero who is truly struggling to overcome his problem. He fails repeatedly but works so hard at saving his own life. Yes, this book has romance, but it was Reggie’s story that kept me reading.”

Pat T in her car listening.  As ever. “I have just finished listening to one of the most talked about books of the summer, Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee and to my surprise I have to say I really enjoyed it! Reese Witherspoon narrates the book and being a southern gal she creates a very credible performance, placing the reader right in Maycomb, Alabama with the cast of iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird. The book centers on Scout, who comes home from New York to visit her dad, Atticus and her boyfriend, Hank at her childhood home. Her visit is anything but peaceful, when she discovers some secrets that make her question her beliefs about Atticus and the Maycomb community. Calmly and lovingly, Atticus and her uncle help her reconcile the past with the present and help her understand that, as an adult, she has to discover her own moral footing.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with The Playlist and some final musings.  What’s good Pats?  “We’ve returned from Up North and I’m half-heartedly trying to get a routine in place to ready the kids for back to school. Fun fact: The state of Michigan has a law that schools may NOT begin until AFTER Labor Day. I’ve been told it was enacted to support Michigan Tourism. At first I thought that it was a silly law, but now I am a huge supporter. We still have two weddings to attend before summer’s end and frankly I’m not ready to say goodbye to bare feet, shorts and white jeans. Already my freckles that have banded together creating a pseudo-tan are fading, leaving me with what looks like sun damage. It’s almost time for a chemical facial peel. Almost. I’m not saying goodbye to summer yet and neither should you. So make sure you get outside and suck the marrow out of these final weeks of summer. You know you need a playlist for that. No worries, I’ve got you covered.”

DL SUMMER SLIDE 2015

You Are What You Read!

Yes, this is a real book.
Yes, this is a real book.

Hey y'all, Stephanie here, filling in for Jen as she cavorts on the beach. And I have two treats for you--yes, you! We did get some taffy this week--thanks, Abby!--but that's not the treat.

The most exciting thing to come into the Library this week was the book you see pictured here. We get many books sent early from publishers--it's a real perk of the job. But this is the first time I opened a book package and then looked around to see if I was on Candid Camera. So, treat number one: First person to claim this book, either by email or by commenting on the website, may have it. Please let me know what you plan to do with it.

Second, just in case you don't have enough books to read, let me tell you about a new service we are about to debut here at the Library. It's called Bookfix. All you do is fill out this super fun survey, and then every 6 or 12 weeks--your choice--we pick a book out for you based on your preferences and put it on hold for you. Couldn't be easier! We have not officially debuted this service yet, and wanted to give loyal readers of our You Are What You Read emails a chance to kick the tires and get their books hand-picked first. The first ten people to fill out the survey at this link will be the lucky ones! Give it a try and tell us what you think.

Okay, here we go!

The title of Laura's selection is a little on the nose, but it fits with our theme of summer books. "I am not a big history buff, but sometimes I enjoy catching up on interesting stories about our country, especially the expansion of the western frontier.  I recently picked up Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, The Most Powerful Indians by S. C. Gwynne out of curiosity. The book is an amazing account of the Comanche, legendary Native Americans of the Southern Plains, and their fierce determination to hold on to their lands. Before our own Revolution, the Comanche had fought and won against the invading Spanish who had conquered most of South and Central America, and they also successfully held back the French who tried to push west from Louisiana. They were formidable warriors, the likes veteran American generals had never seen before. Central to the book is Quanah, one of the most respected chiefs of the Comanche nation. Most intriguing was his mother Cynthia Ann Parker, the “White Squaw” who had been abducted when she was nine years old from her pioneer family’s Texas homestead. Over the years numerous attempts to rescue her were launched, but she refused their attempts, happily choosing to stay with her Comanche family and its culture. Her story, and the rise and fall of the most respected Indian Chief in history, her son, makes for a very moving epic saga worth reading. It's our country's history, we should know about this."

Jeanne is immersed in the fictional future, rather than summer. "I am listening to The Circle by Dave Eggers; narrated with brilliant versatility by Dion Graham. Mae Holland thinks she has landed a dream job at the fabulously successful and powerful internet company The Circle. She suspects that her good friend Annie pulled some strings, but Mae doesn’t care. She starts out in Customer Experience (CE) and is soon inundated with responding to constant!!! inquiries and comments from customers, her boss, Annie, her boss’ boss and pretty much the wide world. Mae is paid well, has all kinds of benefits and social opportunities and she seems over the moon happy. Meanwhile, Eggers takes opportunities to point out to the reader that while Mae is working in the midst of cutting-edge innovation and connectivity, she is also part of a company that continually scans individuals’ online account preferences for monetization opps, constantly asks for (junior-highish) 'likes,' and has a helicopter-style way of treating its employees and the world. She is even required to have bi-weekly physical exams; one in which she unwittingly drinks a sensor that can monitor her sweat level! It’s fascinating stuff."

As you know, if you want a beach read, Susie is your gal. "I am reading Ever After by Jude Deveraux--am about halfway through it and find it to be a very good light easy beach read, with a few unexpected plot twists thrown in the middle that I did not see coming."

Abby's choice is on vacation, too! "Once again, Paul Doiran has come through for me with the latest in his Mike Bowditch series, The Precipice. Set in Maine, Bowditch is a Maine State Game warden, a position similar to a state police officer but with bears and moose. In this book, Mike may actually be having some luck in the romance department when he is called in to help locate to missing young sisters who have been hiking the Appalachian Trail. During the search, Mike meets members of the search and rescue force, civilians with a wide range of backgrounds toting various types of emotional baggage around as they assist in the effort. Mike is trying to approach his work and life with a new found maturity that seems to serve him well. The mystery of the hikers leads to increasingly complicated webs and again dives in to the lesser-seen parts of Maine culture you don't see on tourist brochures. I continue to enjoys Doiron's writing and traveling with Mike Bowditch as he matures into a better man and warden."

Ann, can you share just one more summer pick with us? "I read The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor. This is a quick summer read that will have you turning the pages to see what is going to happen next. Hannah and Lovell have been married for years, and to Hannah their life has become predictable and a bit boring. Lovell, on the other hand, is content, although he gets annoyed that Hannah does not run the household as he would like it done. They have a son and a teenage daughter, who is quite lippy and swears like a sailor (oh wait, that was a judgement on my part!). One night, Hannah and Lovell have a very heated argument that the daughter witnesses. Lovell feels guilty about it, and in the morning before he leaves for work, he fixes Hannah's favorite flavored coffee as a peace offering.  Hannah is upset about the fight in the morning, but feels she and Lovell will work it out and everything will be fine. But as the day progresses, there is no sign of Hannah. At first, Lovell feels she is still angry and has gone to see a girlfriend of hers. This is not the case, and as the story progresses the reader alone will be privy to what happens to Hannah. This is a book that reminds us all how life can change in an instant."

As for myself, I'm somehow already thinking of winter, reading an excellent book coming out in February. I know nobody is looking forward to the February weather, but you should be looking forward to The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee, a book that will satisfy fans of The Crimson Petal and the White and other sweeping historical novels. A grand book about a fascinating woman, a legend of the Paris Opera, who manages to survive the American frontier, serving the French Empress, and the terrors of the Paris Commune, but finds all her secrets unravelling just as she prepares to take her rightful place in opera history. Exquisite historical fiction. I've been savoring every page.

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and Welcome to the Phone It In Edition of You Are What You Read.   Because that’s basically what I am doing.   Phoning it in.   This week there are no housekeeping chores to do.  No Taffy.  No Fudge.  The SoNo Loft is still a construction site so there is no message of good cheer for week 4.   It’s August and we are all just about done in.  A rather brilliant patron told me this week that she considers August to be the Sunday night of all the months which to my mind is exactly right. While it’s still summer, you can see that it’s winding down and a Monday morning is knocking on the door.  Things are quieting down around town as they do when we all scurry to wherever it is we Summer.   Let’s be honest with ourselves and face it.  We all have a serious case of Short Timer Syndrome. 

I have spent my week making a pile.  I add to the pile.  I take away from the pile.  I keep picking things up from the pile. Turn it over in my hands.  Consider it.  And then I either put it back on the pile or reject it for something else.  The pile grows and shrinks. The pile often becomes dangerously large threatening to topple over or it becomes ridiculously lean.  Will the pile fit in the bag?  Will I need to bust out another bag? If I am to perfectly honest with myself the pile is an obsession.  For a lot of women this describes the packing for vacation process.  Clothing items are purchased, lovingly folded, and packed in tissue.  Entire outfits composed complete with appropriate shoes and accessories and infused with dreams of fun and frolic, are put together with meticulous thought and care.  But this is not your normal vacation pack. This is me deciding what books are coming to the shore with me.  I have an almost pathological fear of being without decent reading material.  I think that most readers feel this way and there is in fact a word for it.  Abibliophobia is the fear of being without a book.  This week’s image is what I think is going to be the final stack.  There is a nice mix of fiction and non-fiction, some silly and a heavy emphasis on Edith Wharton for my yearly literary project.  I am sure that the pile will continue to be edited up until the time of departure. And as if the pile weren’t enough, the Kindle is fully loaded, just in case.

The Traveling Companion and I leave early, early on Sunday and we are winding our way down to the sea for a much needed break for us both.  So next week Steph will be writing this piece. Make sure you say hi to her and bring her a lovely wedge of cheese, artisanal if at all possible.   She’s not into the Taffy and Fudge thing so much.  I’ll see you all in 2 weeks.

This week we have some Girl Power, sand, hounds, photography, cattle, a family saga, and the Grey Lady.

Every vacation should have a playlist!  Why not make it two!   

Let us begin!

Mallory is letting her Nerd Light shine this week, “Okay, so its official, Hoopla’s new comic collection is pretty fantastic. I ended up checking out all ten issues of Lumberjanes last night and did not fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning. An adventure tale at its core, Lumberjanes follows five female friends as they evade their camp counselor to solve puzzles and battle mythical creatures. I didn’t realize there was a Powerpuff Girls shaped size hole in my heart, but with their ‘friendship to the max!’ exclamations and their diminutive size yet powerful constitutions, the Lumberjane gals are filling that very real void. Each issue of the Lumberjanes is silly and light with exceptionally well-drawn (pun intended) characters, perfect if you miss your Saturday Morning Cartoons ritual.”

Julia Rae is here with lots and lots of stuff. “I am the type who has multiple books in her beach bag (sorry for the sand, Shelvers). It's difficult for me to feel satisfied from just one story line. So if you're like me at all and want an easy, whimsical, summer book paired with a stormy, elegant novel then I must recommend The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson-- the perfect marriage of reading. Both plots are enjoyable, but the speed in which you can finish The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will encourage you to keep chipping at Life After Life. These books are my ideal summer reading.”

Pat T has never hidden her love of the hound and here she is with a new favorite. “We are in the dog days of August so I think it is fitting to read David Rosenfelt's newest book, Who Let the Dog Out.  Andy Carpenter is a criminal defense attorney who takes on cases in between stints with his real passion, a dog rescue organization he runs with his friend Willie. When they get a call that there has been a burglary at the shelter, Willie and Andy track down the location of their dog, Cheyenne, using a GPS tracking collar. When they show up at a house in New Jersey and find Cheyenne sitting in a room next to a brutally murdered man, they set out to investigate. Andy and his team put all the pieces of the puzzle together in this light detective mystery, filled with likable characters that have a sense of humor and with man's best friend, there's a lot to enjoy while reading this book!”

The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished Hold Still by Sally Mann.  “Sally Mann, the iconic photographer of Immediate Family (1992), provides a memoir here of both her life and her art. Evocatively written, Mann delves into the lives of her ancestors, and the South; the people and the land which come together in her photographic work. Do not for a moment hesitate because you aren’t all that interested in photography!  Her story includes a murder-suicide (which happened in our own backyard, New Canaan), rampant racism, a stalker (pre-social media), and wonderful stories of friends and neighbors including Cy Twombly and William (Bill) Eggleston. Equally engaging and penetrating, Hold Still is one of the best books I have read in 2015.”

Jeanne only doing one thing. Discuss.  “Katherine Applegate, the award-winning children's author of The One and Only Ivan, has touched our hearts again with a new YA novel, Home of the Brave. Her writing continues to show intelligence, precision and warmth. This novel in verse tells the story of Kek, a young Sudanese refugee who has been sent to Minnesota and struggles with grave losses of family, of childhood, and of reason. Applegate creates in Kek a survivor whose skill and love of the cattle he herded in his home country and surrounds him with challenges, but also hope. I read this in one sitting.”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan has just finished Tiny Little Thing, Beatriz Williams.  How you feeling on this one VA?  “It is easy to see how the Camelot Era serves as inspiration in Beatriz Williams newest book, Tiny Little Thing. Set in the late 60’s this is the story of how politics, secrets and family ambitions can get in the way of marriage. Christina ‘Tiny’ Hardcastle has been groomed to marry a man destined for greatness. Since childhood, her mother has prepared her for this course in life, and except for one brief euphoric moment Tiny has never altered her path.  Now, she and her husband, Frank, are on the cusp of becoming the golden couple in politics, but Tiny realizes this may not be the future she wants.  It took me a few chapters to warm up to this book, mainly because I found Tiny to be a little too meek for my taste. Eventually, she finds her voice, her backbone her wit, and that is when I started enjoying this novel.  If you are looking for a more substantive beach read than your typical chick lit book in these final days of summer then I would highly recommend Tiny Little Thing. Williams masterfully creates a family saga written with rich details of a bygone era and packs in one whopper of a surprising ending. I also didn’t realize this was the second book in a family saga about three sisters.  I will definitely be going back to read The Secret Life of Violet Grant.  “

Stephanie.  No Abibliophobia for this girl!  “This week I’ve been lugging around The Kingdom and the Power by Gay Talese. I have no idea why I keep reading these massive classics in the middle of the summer. I must be enjoying this one, though, because it keeps going in my bag every morning! This work, published in 1969, examining the men (and it was pretty much only men) who built and grew The New York Times, is like a cross between a formal history and a juicy memoir. Just when you think you can’t take one more sentence about paper mills in the late 1800s, Talese shares an anecdote so delightful you can’t help but be drawn  back in. I’ve been sharing his gossip with people all week, and either they’re very funny little stories, or people are just being polite in laughing at them. I do recommend it! Whether you’re a Times subscriber or not, it’s a fascinating lens on what power and access can do, and what journalism was like on the cusp of the Internet revolution that would change it so irretrievably.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named with our final musings and not one but TWO playlists this week (squeal!).  What’s good Pats?

Merriam Webster-- vacation, noun – a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel.

It’s time for our annual road trip Up North to Harbor Springs. On Saturday, I will return to the place where Ernest Hemingway spent the summers of his youth. I should note there will be no hunting or fishing on our trip but I may document various taxidermy I find along the way. We have only one rule in our family while on vacation: NO FORCED ENTERTAINMENT. While there we will enjoy a treat from Howse’s Fudge that is appropriately located under the town library. We will eat local ice cream and enjoy some outrageous cookies from Tom’s Mom. We will kayak and swim in the clear, blue water of Lake Michigan; attend a pig roast at my favorite local farm  and watch the Perseid Meteor Shower at the International Dark Sky Park.  As if all this wasn’t enough, my favorite independent bookstore up north, Between the Covers is having a book signing by Mark Alpert of The Six.   I’m as giddy as a four-year-old in a candy shop. Really, it’s almost too much to have all of my favorite things collide into one vacation. So, I decided, in addition to a new playlist I’m including last year’s Vacation On! because who couldn’t use 2x the vacation tunes?! Hoping yours is equally filled with whatever delights you.   

DL WHOLE LOTTA VACA NEEDED 2015

DL VACATION ON! 2014 

You Are What You Read!

Happy Friday People and welcome to You Are What You Read: The Animals Run Amok Edition.  We have no housekeeping for the second week in a row.  The SoNo Loft is still MIA and we have no Taffy or Fudge love offerings to thank you all for.   The Natural Order has been upset. This is very disturbing. 

And speaking of Natural Order and being disturbed, we do have some Wildlife Updates to discuss.  Yesterday, the New York Post reported that there were 2 sharks spotted off Oyster Bay Long Island.  The waters of several surrounding beaches were emptied of bathers while the two six footers cavorted and capered.  The All Clear was sounded about an hour and a half later.  You can read about that here.   And we know it wasn’t our girl Mary Lee.  She’s Summering off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia where the water is nice and warm.   The Daily News reports that yesterday an alligator of all things was spotted strolling down a street in the Inwood section of Manhattan.  He was described as ‘feisty’ because really?  How else would you want your gator?  Feisty seems about right.  You can read about that here and peruse the pictures.  Apparently duct tape can be used to close the jaws of a gator rather effectively.  So there’s some news you can use for this week.  In Domesticated Animal news, there was a story in this morning’s  Post was a story about a cat named George who after escaping from his owner’s arms basically shut down the subway system for about 40 minutes.  You can read about that here.  I am marveling that fellow riders let the owner live, frankly.  Think you’re safe here in the ‘burbs?  Well you’re not.  On the cover of this morning’s Connecticut Post, was a story about how certain animals are on the wane (bees, bats, bunnies) while others have climbing numbers (beavers, bears and bobcats).  And it’s everywhere People!  In Lake Mary, Florida a homeowner watched as a brown bear walked into his garage, helped himself to a 20 pound bag of dog food, ate it and then collapsed on the lawn in a food coma.  So, as you go about your weekend,  be ever vigilant People!  Wildlife is trying to take back what’s theirs! And help themselves to what’s ours!

This week we have some France, some Duke (sorry Traveling Companion), King  David, self-help, and the portrait of a marriage. 

Of course we have The Playlist.  We're not animals! 

Let us begin!

The Amazing Amanda is here with her review of Joanna Bourne’s Black Hawk.  I find the cover and description of this book to be so embarrassing. When I picked it up out of sheer ‘whatever new Regency-era romance they have’ desperation, I expected the worst. Then when I started reading, I kept pausing to text my BFF about how surprisingly great this book was. The story begins with the stabbing of a French female spy in London. She manages to make it to her ex-lover's house before she collapses. The story is then told in alternating flashbacks between the present and the past as they investigate who tried to kill her. However, this isn't your usual romance story.   You join the hero and heroine as children during the French Revolution, as they slip through walls to rescue conscripted kids. They're brave, smart, and deadly. It is espionage, murders, and a thrilling chase across Europe as the two lovers work against each other. They know they their relationship is treasonous, but it's so difficult to stop.  I read this on a cross-country flight with a few chapters left to savor. It's brilliant. The author's description of emotions and the changing nature of relationships gave me a pause. Don't let the genre or cover fool you into thinking this is your standard romance novel. It is so much more.”

Abby is here with a documentary this week. “I attended Indiana University in the Bob Knight years and acknowledge Bob was not known for creating a lot of good will among a large swath of society.  Another program that can bring about strong negative feelings in basketball fans is Duke University.  I’ve never had issues with Duke, perhaps in part because Duke’s Coach Mike Krzyzewski aka Coach K played for Bobby and was also an assistant coach at Indiana. But perhaps no one has ignited more hatred of Duke than player Christian Laettner. At 6’11, Laettner had amazing skills on the court but gave off a vibe that created a lot of conflict and outright hatred for him and his incredibly successful team. How much hatred? There is actually a documentary called I Hate Christian Laettner. That title is based on a song someone took the time to write.  Now that’s some hate. Produced by ESPN as part of their 30 For 30 series, the film offers a 5 point breakdown of why the talented Laettner is so widely disliked. Laettner participated in the film along with fans and haters alike. It’s a great documentary that highlights Laettner’s incredible impact on the game. You may not want to lunch with him, but if I was putting together the all-time best college team, I’d want him on it.”

Barbrara M loves herself some Geraldine Brooks.  Let’s see if that holds true. “Brooks has done it again. She's written a well-crafted interesting book. The Secret Chord is based on the story of David from the Bible and although I abhorred the descriptions of the horrific wars I loved the book. The story is narrated by Natan, the prophet, who tries to provide David with a balanced outlook on events. Her characters are well rounded and the dialog, while sometimes a bit syrupy, is believable. David is, after all, sometimes attributed with writing The Book of Psalms. The story moved with a rapid pace and kept me interested until the end. “

Pat T can be found, as usual, listening. “I have just finished listening to Ali Wentworth's newest book, Happily Ali After and Other Fairly True Tales, and all I can say is it is crazy funny!  She will have you laughing as you listen to her attempts to follow the self-help adages that permeate our everyday lives. She wrestles with the topics of her marriage to a ‘sex icon’, George Stephanopolous, embarrassing yet comical parenting issues with her two daughters, and confronting the aging process, as her 50's are fast approaching! This audio book is read by the author and is as equally entertaining as her last book, Ali in Wonderland: and Other Tall Tales!

The Always Delightful Pat S is almost done with what has to be my favorite book of the year so far, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.  “Picking up this novel, I thought I would be reading a fairly desultory exploration of marriage; albeit a well written one. Well, I had no idea.  Meet Lotto and Mathilde, two physically beautiful and brilliant youths who marry in the first thrall of passion. Beautiful, talented and the envy of all their friends, the world is their oyster. And so begins the arc of their story as we follow them for the next twenty four years of their marriage. Bound by sheer physical passion as well as a highly successful artistic collaboration, their marriage seems almost too perfect to be real . . .. I am three quarters of the way through and I can’t wait to get back to it tonight!  Practically throbbing with undercurrents of malevolence like that found in Gone Girl, this book is nothing like it seems. Jen promises that it delivers nothing short of ‘literary whiplash’.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named.  What’s good Pats? “Here we are deep in the middle of summer. I know this because it’s that time of year that my freckles spread and band together, giving my skin the illusion of a tan. I also know this because my youngest has already started the dreaded chant heard at least once by every single parent during the summer months. I can guarantee that we won’t be hearing that chant this weekend as we have a few great festivals here. Maker Faire Detroit is back and we’re headed to The Henry Ford on Saturday to partake in all that tinkering, hacking and creating. Last year we learned how to pick a few different kinds of standard locks as well as how to solder. THAT was a good time! Today, if there is talk of boredom I will put this playlist on in shuffle mode and tell him to just dance. Take some time to enjoy the summer festivals this weekend.”

You Are What You Read!

Happy Friday People and welcome to You Are What You Read: The Animals Run Amok Edition.  We have no housekeeping for the second week in a row.  The SoNo Loft is still MIA and we have no Taffy or Fudge love offerings to thank you all for.   The Natural Order has been upset. This is very disturbing. 

And speaking of Natural Order and being disturbed, we do have some Wildlife Updates to discuss.  Yesterday, the New York Post reported that there were 2 sharks spotted off Oyster Bay Long Island.  The waters of several surrounding beaches were emptied of bathers while the two six footers cavorted and capered.  The All Clear was sounded about an hour and a half later.  You can read about that here.   And we know it wasn’t our girl Mary Lee.  She’s Summering off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia where the water is nice and warm.   The Daily News reports that yesterday an alligator of all things was spotted strolling down a street in the Inwood section of Manhattan.  He was described as ‘feisty’ because really?  How else would you want your gator?  Feisty seems about right.  You can read about that here and peruse the pictures.  Apparently duct tape can be used to close the jaws of a gator rather effectively.  So there’s some news you can use for this week.  In Domesticated Animal news, there was a story in this morning’s  Post was a story about a cat named George who after escaping from his owner’s arms basically shut down the subway system for about 40 minutes.  You can read about that here.  I am marveling that fellow riders let the owner live, frankly.  Think you’re safe here in the ‘burbs?  Well you’re not.  On the cover of this morning’s Connecticut Post, was a story about how certain animals are on the wane (bees, bats, bunnies) while others have climbing numbers (beavers, bears and bobcats).  And it’s everywhere People!  In Lake Mary, Florida a homeowner watched as a brown bear walked into his garage, helped himself to a 20 pound bag of dog food, ate it and then collapsed on the lawn in a food coma.  So, as you go about your weekend,  be ever vigilant People!  Wildlife is trying to take back what’s theirs! And help themselves to what’s ours!

This week we have some France, some Duke (sorry Traveling Companion), King  David, self-help, and the portrait of a marriage. 

Of course we have The Playlist.  We're not animals! 

Let us begin!

The Amazing Amanda is here with her review of Joanna Bourne’s Black Hawk.  I find the cover and description of this book to be so embarrassing. When I picked it up out of sheer ‘whatever new Regency-era romance they have’ desperation, I expected the worst. Then when I started reading, I kept pausing to text my BFF about how surprisingly great this book was. The story begins with the stabbing of a French female spy in London. She manages to make it to her ex-lover's house before she collapses. The story is then told in alternating flashbacks between the present and the past as they investigate who tried to kill her. However, this isn't your usual romance story.   You join the hero and heroine as children during the French Revolution, as they slip through walls to rescue conscripted kids. They're brave, smart, and deadly. It is espionage, murders, and a thrilling chase across Europe as the two lovers work against each other. They know they their relationship is treasonous, but it's so difficult to stop.  I read this on a cross-country flight with a few chapters left to savor. It's brilliant. The author's description of emotions and the changing nature of relationships gave me a pause. Don't let the genre or cover fool you into thinking this is your standard romance novel. It is so much more.”

Abby is here with a documentary this week. “I attended Indiana University in the Bob Knight years and acknowledge Bob was not known for creating a lot of good will among a large swath of society.  Another program that can bring about strong negative feelings in basketball fans is Duke University.  I’ve never had issues with Duke, perhaps in part because Duke’s Coach Mike Krzyzewski aka Coach K played for Bobby and was also an assistant coach at Indiana. But perhaps no one has ignited more hatred of Duke than player Christian Laettner. At 6’11, Laettner had amazing skills on the court but gave off a vibe that created a lot of conflict and outright hatred for him and his incredibly successful team. How much hatred? There is actually a documentary called I Hate Christian Laettner. That title is based on a song someone took the time to write.  Now that’s some hate. Produced by ESPN as part of their 30 For 30 series, the film offers a 5 point breakdown of why the talented Laettner is so widely disliked. Laettner participated in the film along with fans and haters alike. It’s a great documentary that highlights Laettner’s incredible impact on the game. You may not want to lunch with him, but if I was putting together the all-time best college team, I’d want him on it.”

Barbrara M loves herself some Geraldine Brooks.  Let’s see if that holds true. “Brooks has done it again. She's written a well-crafted interesting book. The Secret Chord is based on the story of David from the Bible and although I abhorred the descriptions of the horrific wars I loved the book. The story is narrated by Natan, the prophet, who tries to provide David with a balanced outlook on events. Her characters are well rounded and the dialog, while sometimes a bit syrupy, is believable. David is, after all, sometimes attributed with writing The Book of Psalms. The story moved with a rapid pace and kept me interested until the end. “

Pat T can be found, as usual, listening. “I have just finished listening to Ali Wentworth's newest book, Happily Ali After and Other Fairly True Tales, and all I can say is it is crazy funny!  She will have you laughing as you listen to her attempts to follow the self-help adages that permeate our everyday lives. She wrestles with the topics of her marriage to a ‘sex icon’, George Stephanopolous, embarrassing yet comical parenting issues with her two daughters, and confronting the aging process, as her 50's are fast approaching! This audio book is read by the author and is as equally entertaining as her last book, Ali in Wonderland: and Other Tall Tales!

The Always Delightful Pat S is almost done with what has to be my favorite book of the year so far, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.  “Picking up this novel, I thought I would be reading a fairly desultory exploration of marriage; albeit a well written one. Well, I had no idea.  Meet Lotto and Mathilde, two physically beautiful and brilliant youths who marry in the first thrall of passion. Beautiful, talented and the envy of all their friends, the world is their oyster. And so begins the arc of their story as we follow them for the next twenty four years of their marriage. Bound by sheer physical passion as well as a highly successful artistic collaboration, their marriage seems almost too perfect to be real . . .. I am three quarters of the way through and I can’t wait to get back to it tonight!  Practically throbbing with undercurrents of malevolence like that found in Gone Girl, this book is nothing like it seems. Jen promises that it delivers nothing short of ‘literary whiplash’.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named.  What’s good Pats? “Here we are deep in the middle of summer. I know this because it’s that time of year that my freckles spread and band together, giving my skin the illusion of a tan. I also know this because my youngest has already started the dreaded chant heard at least once by every single parent during the summer months. I can guarantee that we won’t be hearing that chant this weekend as we have a few great festivals here. Maker Faire Detroit is back and we’re headed to The Henry Ford on Saturday to partake in all that tinkering, hacking and creating. Last year we learned how to pick a few different kinds of standard locks as well as how to solder. THAT was a good time! Today, if there is talk of boredom I will put this playlist on in shuffle mode and tell him to just dance. Take some time to enjoy the summer festivals this weekend.”

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to You Are What You Read.  This edition has no fancy name to it.  This week’s big news is that there are absolutely no housekeeping chores to be done.  There were no offerings of taffy or fudge.  The SoNo Loft has nothing to say because it literally disappeared over night rendering my commute even more charm-free than it normally is.    I am hopeful that this is just about roof repairs. Of course when I know more, so will you.  A world without The Loft is just too sad to think about.

This weekend promises to be hot and humid and that can only mean one thing.  Afternoon thunderstorms could be in the making.  There was this fascinating piece on NPR this morning about how deaths by lightning strikes are way, way up. The 411 on this is as follows; July is the most dangerous month for death by lightning, most of the victims are male and the body count is at 20 so far this summer.  So while most people are oddly freaked out by the recent shark attacks, you are more likely to be hit by a lightning strike (1 in 12,000)  than you are to have a run in with Mary Lee Shark (1 in 11.5 million). Back in the day, there were many more fatalities, usually 300-400 per year. Mostly because of using a corded phone (an aside for The Young out there, that was the only way phones used to come; actually wired to the wall.) and because tractors were uncovered, should you be a farming type.  These days, most of the fatalities happen while people are outside playing, not farming or talking on their Nana’s phone, and the majority of these are mostly at the beach or on boats whilst fishing.  The experts think that there is something about the roar of the waves dulling the sound of the approaching thunder.  As a dedicated beach-goer, I kind of find this hard to believe.  Anyone who has seen a storm roll in over the water and with an ounce of common sense knows when it’s time to head in.  Which brings us to a nice mantra to use and share with family and friends: When thunder roars, go indoors.  And when you do go indoors, make sure that you aren’t blowing dry your hair or holding on to anything that plugs in the wall, think back to that phone thing.  In fact, why not use it as an excuse for some lovely late afternoon lolling.  Let’s be safe People!

This week we have a brush with fame, a mysterious tome, a nosey neighbor, justice, and some dip-in, dip-out.   The only Paris we can offer is this week’s image.  Sorry.

This week is more of a Gift than the usual Playlist. 

Let us begin!

Miss Claire has just finished reading Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. “I swore that I wouldn't buy a book on vacation, but I just couldn't resist purchasing this one. Comedian Aziz Ansari, who is also the star of NBC's Parks & Rec, writes about love in the 21st Century. Warning: Although you will be in pain from laughing so hard, this book is not a memoir, or collection of essays like other examples comedy writing. Ansari takes his own experiences with dating in places like New York and LA, and couples them with research (actual research) about how dating has changed in this modern age. Ansari and his friend travel to Tokyo, Paris, Buenos Aires, and even Doha to compare dating in various cultures. What's an herbivore man? What's a chongo? These and other international mysteries will be solved in the book. By looking at dating and communication over the generations, the author ponders whether or not we are really better off. Ansari provides a fresh perspective on the challenges of meeting Mr./Ms. Right. He does his homework, while also adding his witty charm to the mix. Fun Fact: I was his RA at NYU in London, so loved this fun break from my summer list of kid lit.”

Sweet Ann is reading a little dark this week.  What’s doin’ Ann? “I read reviews of Disclaimer by Renee Knight and thought I would give it a try. Catherine Ravenscroft, a documentary film director, is happily married and has a young adult son with whom she has a slightly strained relationship. She and her husband have recently moved and she is adjusting well until one evening she finds a book on her night table which she does not remember purchasing or seeing before.  As she begins reading it she recognizes herself in the story, a devastating story she has shared with no one.  This novel is told in Catherine's voice and the author of the book who is out for revenge. This was a good thriller although I though it got a bit long.  I definitely enjoyed Gone Girl and the Girl on the Train more than this one, but it is a quick summer read.”

The Always Fabulous Babs B has finished a quiet staff favorite, The Stone Boy by Sophie Loubiere.  Here’s what she thought. “This is a suspenseful psychological thriller but also a story of a passionately loving grandmother who more nosey than Miss Marple!  Madame Preau is a retired headmistress when she returns to her own house outside Paris after several years spent in a convalescent home.  She is not taken seriously when she reports an abused boy in a neighboring home.  Beautifully written (and translated) with just enough suspense to keep the reader wondering; is there an abused child or is Madame Preau imagining him? “

Steph!  Not reading Go Set a Watchman!  “There’s been a lot of buzz about the return of Atticus Finch this week, and rightly so, but the book I read this week is about a real-life Atticus who deserves just as much attention. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson, is part-memoir, part-courtroom thriller. Stevenson is the founder of legal non-profit the Equal Justice Initiative, which works in Alabama on death row cases, as well as cases where people are given life sentences for crimes committed as minors. As you’d expect, many of the stories are heartbreaking, and put a human face on issues of crime and punishment, as well as illuminating how region and race play a large role in determining the fate of many prisoners. Despite the difficulty and sorrow behind many of the cases Stevenson discusses, there is also a strong sense of hope and redemption. He’s a remarkable lawyer and writer, and even more so, a remarkable man. This is reminiscent of the very best of John Grisham, but 100% true. Go on hold for this in addition to (or instead of) Go Set A Watchman.”

Laura  is here with a reading style just right for a summer afternoon . “Summer is a time for lazy.   What better way to enjoy a lazy, hazy summer afternoon in the hammock than with a book that we call the dip-in, dip-out.  This is the  sort of  book that you don't have to commit to, can open at a different page every time, and close without a book mark to save your page. These easy reads are more informational fun fact books like The Secret Museum by Molly Oldfield a unique illustrated listing of intriguing artifacts hidden away in some of the world's most venerable museums: such as Van Gogh's sketchbooks, Nabokov's butterfly genitalia cabinet, or the Diamond Sutra. Or perhaps Atoms Under the Floorboards, by Chris Woodford which explains scientific reasons for everyday phenomena such as squeaky floors, gurgling pipes, and why skyscrapers don’t sink into the ground or blow over.  Not necessarily cocktail talk but interesting all the same for the curious mind. “

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named.  Earlier this week she sent me a pic of one of her progeny standing on a Big M on location in Ann Arbor.  Patty!  Get your kid outta there!  Don’t you know what they say about Ann Arbor?!    Aside from that, what’s good Pats? “We’re back from the Nation’s Capital and I’m pleased to report that we had a great time. Five days was not enough time to see and do everything but we gave it a valiant effort. Now it’s back to the local summer routine of Farmers’ Markets and Art Fairs. My son and I headed out to the Ann Arbor Art Fair yesterday.Some of the other, lesser-known festivals around us include the Old Town Scrapfest  in Lansing where 20 teams had one hour to collect up to 500 pounds of scrap metal from the Friedland Industries’ scrap facility and then spent two weeks creating masterpieces that will culminate in the unveiling of their creations during the festival this weekend. There’s also a Pig Jig Pig Roast and Street Dance for those who enjoy a sidewalk sale with a little dancing in the streets and a side of pork. The artist, Nick Cave will have his first live-dancing event of his Soundsuits this weekend in Detroit.  It would seem as though there is something for everyone right now. And if that isn’t enough, the band Wilco, surprise dropped their new album, Star Wars yesterday. The album is available for free for a limited time so give it a listen now and don’t forget to get out and support your local art scene this weekend.”

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