You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Your Ann update of the week does seem hopeful.  She seems to think The Sandy Nightmare may just about be close to completion.  She reports that the Appalachian aspect of their home (i.e.

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!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Just in case you were disappointed because February was only 28 days, here is another February day.  In April.  Also we have an Ann update of sorts.  She wants all to know the egg tree has been dismantled but is confident it will reappear next year.  She also feels that the end of her Sandy Nightmare might just be on the horizon.  However I feel we need

You Are What You Read!

I know that last week I promised more exciting Caroline news. I lied.  You all are going to have to wait another week.  But trust me. It will be worth the wait.  Also there is no egg tree this week.  We are too cold. In related news, please won’t you join me in visualizing a soup pot in PA with a certain someone inside it? I think you know who.  This week we have Chicks with Bricks (oh yes. They are BACK! And we may never let them leave!), a prostitute, an invalid, a flat out imposter! some perfection, the Bronx, and a few punches being thrown.

Let us begin!

Abby is reading this one on her own.  I swear.  I had nothing to do with this. “They say ‘write what you know’ so it makes perfect sense that Anne Perry is now a world famous writer of murder mysteries. This can only mean that like so many of my co-workers, I too am reading Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham. The book will be released May 1. I'm only about 20% in but am having a tricky time coming up with a one word description. The best I can do: whacked (but in a good way). Thus far, this true story of Perry as a teen living in New Zealand and participating in a brutal murder is creepy, surreal, and disturbing.  High praise indeed. One thing I know is I don't ever want to see the words ‘brick’ and ‘sock’ together in the same sentence. I can't wait to steal a few minutes here and there to keep reading while I'm supposed to be doing other things. By the end, I suspect I will be obsessed with Anne Perry and read everything I can find about the case.”

Miss Kiera of the CL is enjoying some YA lit! “This week I totally love Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. I should have known I’d fall in love with this book since I adored her first novel, Between Shades of Grey (not to be confused with another title of dubious origin that employs both the words “shades” and “grey.”) Out of the Easy is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950. Josie is a young girl who is caught between two worlds. Her mother is a prostitute who is selfish, destructive, and abusive. Josie longs to get out of New Orleans, attend college, and remake herself into an educated, respectable person. She doesn’t want to fall into the traps of the environment she has grown up in and yet she finds herself being pulled into the seedy underbelly of the Big Easy. Like David Copperfield, Josie must discover if she is to be the heroine of her own life or whether that station will be held by anyone else. Sepetys populates Josie’s world with fully-formed supporting characters and weaves such rich details into the setting that you can almost taste and smell fresh beignets and chicory-spiced coffee. “

Miss Elisabeth of the CL is sneaking in an adult book! “I just finished The House Girl, a debut novel by Tara Conklin. I enjoyed it, although I could put it down, so it wasn't as enthralling as I thought it would be. It tells the story of two very different women living very different lives. In the present day, ambitious lawyer Lina Sparrow is assigned to work on a slavery reparations case at her prestigious law firm. Her job is to find the descendent of a slave with a compelling story to capture the hearts and minds of the potential jury. Meanwhile, in 1852, Josephine is a talented artist and house slave to Lulu Bell, an invalid and aspiring artist. Their stories intertwine in interesting ways, but I found the parts that took place in 1852 much more interesting than the parts which took place in the present.”

Barbara M.  I cannot continue on believing that this is ok.  “I have finally finished Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and it was worth investing my time in each of its 922 pages. I have, however, not moved from the continent of Asia for I have started How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid. It is a parody of a self-help book and because it is written in the 2nd person it puts you, the reader, in the center of the story. Hamid’s writing is clever and wry and the story line holds your interest.”  There is not a baguette, Eiffel Tower or Nazi in sight.  I say, “Bring Back Barbara!  We don’t want this imposter!”

At least Jeannie is back to normal and doing two things at once! “I am reading the The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France by John Baxter. I thought it might be cathartic after reading The Dinner. And it is! I can still look forward to an evening of dining with family and friends. Of course it's the food that matters! Mr. Baxter makes his way from the perfect Apéritif to the perfect Entrée to the perfect Digestif and the many courses in between to create the perfect feast to be enjoyed with family and friends. Baxter, an expat, seeks out the best ingredients and pairs them with engaging commentary on this most wonderful of foodie regions as he travels through Paris and its suburbs. I love the little pen and ink drawings that complement many pages.  My Beloved World is a memoir by Sonia Sotomayor. I am reading it more out of interest in the background of the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice than for its page-turning quality. She tells her story in plain language of growing up in the Bronxdale projects in poverty, with an alcoholic father and an angry mother, who both worked to provide her with tuition for what they considered the best education at Catholic schools. Sotomayor grows into a smart, discerning woman and graduates from Princeton and Yale to become a corporate lawyer and a Supreme Court judge. Although she had a difficult life she talks fondly about family, especially her Abuelita with whom she spent a lot of time. She describes many life experiences that may have been influential in her success, like how at an early age she regularly accompanied her grandmother to buy whole chickens and watched them being butchered so they'd get the right one or how she became good at poker. This is an interesting read.”

Stephanie tells us her take on a book that has been divisive to say the least. “Opinion is divided in the library about The Dinner by Herman Koch, so I had to read it. I liked it! So far it seems like the people who haven’t liked it or who have been unable to finish it found the characters too unlikable, which is fair, but I loved how horrible those characters were. They were horrible and unredeemable almost to the point of parody, like in an A. M. Homes novel. I love that. The book is very well-paced and escalates at just the right speed. It’s also an absurdly fast read for being almost 300 pages. A perfect book for the plane, unless you’re stuck behind a seat-reclining jerk, because it will probably nudge you to finally give that jerk what’s coming to him. (There are some great passages about what it feels like to imagine you’re punching somebody in the face.) Or a great summer read if you’re the type who sits under an umbrella instead of out in the sun.”

You Are What You Read!

While this week started dark and stormy it would appear that we may finally be sliding into Spring.  And, not a moment too soon in my humble opinion.  In Spring Related News Sweet Ann is still under Workman Siege.  She is still without electricity and running water in parts of her home.  But this does not stop her from spreading her sunshine.  Yes, that is Ann’s Egg Tree gracing YAWYR this week.  Nothing can keep this woman down.  She is unsinkable!  Also, I promise that this will be the last tidbit involving Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century but Pauline not only decorated with dolls (remember almost as creepy as clowns) but she painted a mural in her home depicting her falling from grace while Anne Perry ascends into the heavens riding a white horse.  You know you want to read this one.  This week we have a new addiction, danger and grave robbing,  Zombie romance, some poignancy, a whole lotta wrong, craziness,  Russia,   TEAM ZELDA!,  a blessed event, and letters to Snorkles!

Let us begin!

John is sticking to his principles!  “I really want to see the movie Life of Pi, but I refuse to until I read the book, so that is what I'm up to.  I just started it but I'm already hooked.”

Miss Krishna has me a little worried.  Ok, actually a lot worried. Read on and discover why.  “I am currently obsessed with The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I read City of Bones in anticipation of the movie adaptation coming out this August. I find that I am drawn to books where there is always danger surrounding the romance of our two main characters, who in this case turn out to be siblings,  a little Flowers in the Attic ew but still highly entertaining.  Lincoln’s Grave Robbers is the other book that I’ve been toting around everywhere. It is just as fast paced as James L. Swanson’s Chasing Lincoln’s Killer and just as fascinating. Steve Sheinkin’s writing instantly draws you in and it’s so mind blowing to read about counterfeiters in the 1800s and the Secret Service’s beginnings. There is such an influx of writing surrounding President Lincoln but I find the kids narrative nonfiction to be the most fascinating as well as the easiest to throw in your tote.”  I may be mistaken but romance between siblings could possibly be the most wrong thing there is.  Discuss.

Miss Elisabeth and Zombies. Who knew? “I just finished Warm Bodies, which was excellent in every way. The book, which was released as an (equally excellent) movie this February, is funny, wry, and a total departure for zombie literature. Telling the story of the zombie uprising through the voice of a zombie R, who just wants to connect, the book looks at what makes us human, what makes us alive, and whether or not it is possible to come back from being undead. There's a great romance (yes, romance in a zombie book!) and the writing is top-notch. This book was tons of fun. “

Pat T. has chosen a book for its cover.  “The cover of  The Obituary Writer enticed me to read the latest novel by Ann Hood. The novel is about two women from different generations who are struggling with their roles in society. We meet Vivien in 1919, working as an obituary writer helping people deal with their grief, as she attempts to come to terms with the disappearance of her lover in the San Francisco earthquake of 1908. Claire is a wife and mother in 1961, who tries to fit into this role while struggling desperately with her unhappy marriage. These two women are connected by the pain of loss, grief and regret and eventually one helps the other  reclaim her future. This story was realistic and poignant, dealing with the roles of women in our society.”

Barbara M. Shantaram. Discuss.  If you are not filled with concern at this point I can’t help you. 

Ann.  Still. “I am still reading The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates.  It is a fascinating book filled with craziness that has kept me quite intrigued.  I am almost finished and can't wait to see how this book will conclude under the wonderful writing of Ms. Oates.”

Lois is revisiting an old friend in a new format for her. “I’m listening to the audiobook of City of Thieves.  I have read the book and loved it, and now I am listening to prepare for One Book, One Community.  This is a great book, great story, and great choice!”

Stephanie, as usual is being too nice.  I literally shoved this book into her hands and demanded that she read it.  This is one I am passionate about and I say to all you writers picking on the bones of Zelda’s life CUT IT OUT!  We are TEAM ZELDA and we will not put up with your sacrilege and lies anymore!  There is no better bio on her out there and to fictionalize her life is a travesty.  Ok.  I’ll let Steph talk now.  “This week I was thoughtfully handed Zelda, by Nancy Milford, and so far I am LOVING it. Poor Zelda. What a life! I haven’t gotten to the sad stuff yet but I know it’s coming. I will revel in her crazy adolescence and stringing-along of ole F. Scott for just a bit longer.”

And now a message from Caroline about an upcoming event that we are all VERY excited about.  “If anyone has seen me around the library recently, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that I’m reading…pregnancy books.  So here are a few recommendations, please let me know if you have others!  Of course I immediately tracked down the classic What to Expect When You’re Expecting – go-to pregnancy advice since first published in 1984.  And yes, there’s an app for that .  If you have a little advance notice,  What to Expect Before You’re Expecting was also very helpful, especially in regard to nutrition and other things you can do to get prepared.  Of course being the Bravo watcher that I am, I had to check out Rosie Pope’s Mommy IQ: The Complete Guide to Pregnancy. Great, straightforward and entertaining advice, just like her show!  I don’t think I’ll be ‘pregnant in heels’ anytime soon though."  This is not the only reveal however. Tune in next week for some more exciting news from Caroline.

Those who know me know I always have what is known in Jen Speak as a “Blow Dry Book”.  This is because while the daily blow out is something that has to happen, it is not something I particularly enjoy.  In fact I find it to be a colossal bore.  BUT I am just that sort of vain that this daily activity is a non-negotiable. The Blow Dry Book needs specific criteria to qualify.  The text needs to be able to be read in short snippets but compelling enough to not dread the book and the blow out.  Often the blow dry book is a collection of letters.  And so it is this time.  P.G. Wodehouse:  A Life in Letters edited by Sophie Ratcliff is a fascinating glimpse into the private and professional life of this marvelous British author who was famous for his Wooster and Jeeves series.   The letters I am enjoying the most are the ones between him and his step-daughter whom  he loved like his own.  His pet name for her?  Snorkles!  How cute is that?  One thing I find fascinating was that he did a lot of his writing in the 1920s on Long Island. He says in one letter that he did not find Scott Fitzgerald to be all that drunk.  I just adore a gossipy letter.

You Are What You Read!

We have much to discuss this week.  I am officially over this PA Rodent thing as a predictor of an early spring.  This is no sane human’s idea of Spring.  If the PA Rodent was in an actual paid position I would vote to fire him.   Actually a prosecutor from the Ohio county of Butler has filed an indictment against him and is requesting the death penalty if found guilty.   Honestly I think PA will end up being like Ireland and refuse to extradite him. Also, in a follow up from last week I just wanted to add this one thought.  In Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century this fun fact came up.  What job did Pauline have out of prison?  Librarianship.  Yup.  I am just putting this out there.   She also lives in the country with lots of cats and she decorates with dolls which are almost as creepy as clowns.  Ok enough of my obsessions.   This week we have stereotypes, piqued interest, dragons and fierce females, a wedding day curse, dead presidents bafflement, WWII, a banned book  and more murder.

Let us begin!

The Amazing Amanda is looking for Kindred Spirits. “I just finished Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant and it is one of the most hysterical, smart, and well-thought comics out there. She combined a love of history plus comics to create her award-winning works. While the art is simple, Beaton pokes fun at historical figures, Canadian stereotypes, and most of all herself. Reading through the published volume was a joy. I may also be a bit biased since I suggested via Twitter to Beaton to include a comic on Anne of Green Gables. You’ll have to check out the book to see what story Beaton spun using Anne Shirley.”

John is reading and loving Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway.  “Just looking at the subject headings on this book may pique your interest: ‘clocks and watches’, ‘children of gangsters’, ‘fathers and sons’, ‘older women’, ‘end of the world’, ‘London’, and ‘spy stories’. This is one of those books that sucks you in and makes you think, ‘how did he come up with this?!’’

Miss Kiera of the CL is enjoying two things this week.  “This week I'm splitting my time between two very different books: Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Storm of Swords is Book 3 in the Game of Thrones series. Season 3 of the popular HBO series is about to begin and I wanted to read it before watching. There are dragons, battling kings, walking dead,  smoke monsters, scheming courtiers, and fierce female leads. Since it's about 1,000 pages long I opted to read it as an eBook from Overdrive. Speaking of fierce females, I'm also loving Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and has been named one of the top five Most Powerful Women in the World. She talks about why men are traditionally more ambitious and therefore more likely to rise to leadership positions in their chosen field. And what women can and should do about it. It's a controversial, fascinating book that already has tons of buzz; both positive and critical. I can't wait to finish it and discuss it with the women (and men) in my life. “

Yes.  Sweet Ann still has a house crawling with workmen.  She wants all to know that she would be happy to report that running water and electricity in some rooms are up and running.  Sadly she cannot.  So Ann weighs in with the following:  The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates. “I am a third of the way in this very long book and I love it.  The story takes place in 1904 in Princeton, New Jersey, as well as Princeton University, and tells the tale of a curse that will impact one of the main characters on her wedding day with repercussions for others.  Not only do you get the story of the ‘curse’ but you also get a history of the town and university.  This novel has characters from real life like Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland and Upton Sinclair to name a few.  It is a wild story that is very well written with depth of character and setting.”  We do not feel Ann is cursed.  However, none of us really wants to stand too close.  Especially near large trees.  During Hurricanes. 

Jeanne is cranky this week.  I am not the only one who needs some warmth and sunshine. “I had heard that Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard was very good, but I didn't read it. Then when my book group also chose Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by the same, I thought I'd try it. I am not particularly a Kennedy groupie, but I like to learn the ‘real’ story of historical events. Mostly what I learned and did not need to know were about Kennedy's vices such as conducting meetings in a pool while naked or that he used the military phonetic alphabet to swear in front of Jackie. I don't like O'Reilly's politics and I do not like his sophomoric writing style in this book. If he continues with the assassinated president genre I will have to hear about it from someone else.”   Well Jeanne, all we have left is Garfield and McKinley and I don’t think that even O’Reilly can scrape that shoe’s  bottom.

Barbara M.  Shantaram.  Still.  

Stephanie however is reading a book about WW II and Nazis.  So I basically give up.  “My mom, a fellow crime fiction addict, passed Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr along for my train ride. Between how fantastic this book was and my completed Denise Mina binge, I am getting quite spoiled. The life of the ordinary German during WWII was a horrifying and bland one as an example; it is that inherent tension makes Every Man Dies Alone an incredible book. To pair that perspective with the cranky Sherlockian character Bernie Gunther makes for an amazing book. One of the minor themes of the book is that the actions of the Nazis were so abominable that they could not be believed even by those who saw them, and I think contemporarily, that has translated to them being unable to be comprehended in full. It is so horrific that the brain seems to water it down. To meet Heydrich in a history book is to be horrified by a cold-eyed portrait and a list of statistics. But to meet him in a crime fiction novel is to be horrified by a flesh-and-chuckles human, and that is true horror. I finished this book and sat in silence for quite some time, upset by the Holocaust in a way that I haven’t been since probably the first time I learned about it as a kid. To sneak that punch in under a crime novel’s cover is quite something.”

Patty McC. Programming Priestess,  joins us this week for the first time.  She has asked me to be kind.  How can I be anything but?  Patty had a fight this week with some black ice and the black ice won.  So I know she is on Team End This Endless Winter. “This week I could not resist the graphic novel, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  Not only is it a memoir about her childhood growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution but it is also a beautifully illustrated graphic novel.  Over the past week there has been much discussion around age appropriateness for this graphic novel in the news and the use of the word  banned in the public schools in Chicago makes this a must read for me.  Marjane describes her family as very modern and avant-garde.  She simply states she was born with religion and then goes on to tell us when she was young she wanted to be a prophet; one that would be justice, love and the wrath of God all in one.  Told through the eyes and voice of a ten year old girl growing up in a time of great turmoil in Iran makes this graphic novel and memoir both deeply personal and political.  It’s a frank, boldly illustrated work that is highly engaging.  I can’t wait to finish it, share it with my own daughter and dig into a great civics discussion.”  Feel better soon Patty!

I have left New Zealand behind and moved on to Italy.  However it would appear I have not left behind grisly crimes and lots and lots of bloodshed.  In Chris Bohjalian’s latest The Light in the Ruins there is a serial killer afoot in 1955 Florence and they are targeting one specific family.  The Rosatis were a privileged Tuscan family previous to World War II living a life of serenity in their villa.  Now they have fallen on hard times but do the remaining family members really deserve to be hunted down, murdered and have their hearts cut out?  As always with Bohjalian you know that you are going to have an amazing story unfold. This one comes out in July.

You Are What You Read!

Our optimism this week knows no bounds. Pansies and ranunculus are ready for sale next door, the snow is slowly receding, and I have even seen snow drops blooming in the mud.  Spring is on its way (5 more days!)  and not a moment too soon.  This week we have a fancy restaurant, unspeakable acts, lots of blood, a future screening (!), some very valid concern, understatement, a psychotic ghost and a rather unsavory obsession.

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann’s Hurricane Sandy nightmare is almost over.  She sent this one to me while high on paint fumes. “I'm sitting in my house inhaling paint fumes before I go off to Pilates and thought why not do YAWYR? I just finished  The Dinner by Herman Koch.  The Dinner follows the dinner of two couples, Paul and Claire, and Serge and Babette.  The men are brothers and don't get along that well.  Paul narrates this story including the meal from appetizer to dessert, which in itself makes this novel quite interesting.  The book takes place in a very fancy restaurant in Amsterdam where the couples have gathered to discuss what their sons, (cousins), have done.  The fifteen year old cousins have committed a horrendous crime and the parents are trying to figure out how to handle the situation.  The book is engaging because as a reader you think what you would do, what the "right" thing to do is and what these two couples decide to do.  Since one brother tells the story you just get his side, but his thought process is intriguing and frightening at the same time.”  See?  Ann is sweet even when impaired.  This is why we love her. 

Jeanne, while not impaired to our knowledge, is also reading The Dinner by Herman Koch.  “Reading this novel makes me wonder why an author will write about the worst in people and why so many of us are compelled to continue reading. Do I hope that there will be redemption? Or am I just a sucker for a book that might describe good food? Through four courses in an upscale Amsterdam restaurant, Paul and his politician brother, Serge, along with their wives Claire and Babette seem to just go through the motions of dining while their teenage boys are up to unspeakable acts. I generally like the blunt way of European writers, but this story is shaping up to be very hard-boiled. I haven't lost my appetite yet.”

The Amazing Amanda finished the Jessica series with Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. This book picks up a few months where Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side left off. There is a murder mystery afoot which has led to the imprisonment of Jessica’s new husband, Lucius. Jessica is unsure of who to trust as she dreams of betrayal and blood. Lots and lots of blood. This book also delves into the romance of Jessica’s best friend, Mindy. Overall, it was nice to finish these books, but I felt that this book was a weak companion to the delightful earlier novel. Lucius is hardly seen since he is locked away in the dungeon and Jessica is sidelined as well thanks to Mindy’s story. I also figured out who was the murderer early on. So while I enjoyed this read, I wish there had been more about the vast society of vampires. There’s a lot of potential to flesh out this universe if the author would get away from the main cast.

Erin is clueing us in on her process!  “This week, I watched A Late Quartet with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, and Catherine Keener. It focuses on the beginning of the performance season of an acclaimed string quartet, just as one of the members is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. It was one of the more gorgeously heartbreaking films I have seen in a long time. Christopher Walken's performance, in particular, is nothing short of spectacular. We'll definitely screen it in our Community Room this April.”

Barbara M. has informed me she is still in India reading Shantaram.  No Paris.  No Nazis.  Just. Plain. Wrong.  I can no longer hide my concern.   She also shared with me that she is the proud owner of not one but two saris.  I am starting to think we have an imposter on our hands.  Discuss.

Stephanie has a new love!  “This week was devoted to Denise Mina, who I’ve finally discovered with some help from a patron. I don’t know why it took me so long (especially given that she briefly wrote for the comic series Hellblazer, one of my favorites). Gods and Beasts is her latest novel and it is fantastic. Tana French mixed with John le Carre; a beautifully understated and thoughtful crime novel with characters so real that I kept forgetting it was fiction. I also read Still Midnight and The Slip of the Knife and liked them just as much. She is my new favorite crime fiction writer.”

Miss Elisabeth of The CL is trying to come to grips with a sequel that is not living up to its predecessor.  Still, you have to admire her tenacity.  “This week I am reading The Madness Underneath, by Maureen Johnson. It's the sequel to her The Name of the Star. Rory is a southern gal from Louisiana whose professor parents decide to teach in England during her senior year of high school, moving the whole family to the Emerald Isle and Rory to a boarding school in London. In the first book, Rory got mixed up with a very strange police force and a psychotic ghost imitating the Jack the Ripper murders. The Name of the Star was amazing - I literally read it until 3 in the morning and couldn't put it down. The Madness Underneath deals with the repercussions of events in the first book. It's good, but I'm not quite as gripped by it as I was by the previous story. Still, I feel affection for these characters, so I'm excited to see where the story takes me. “

Those who know us have a general inkling about our obsessions with topics far from savory.  One of these is murder.  We want to know it all.  Who what where and most definitely why.  If you need to know how to hide bodies just ask!  We can help!  And those who know us know that once one of us gets started obsessing, others will join in.  This has been decidedly the case with Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham.  Graham looks at what drove 15-year-old Juliet Hulme (Anne Perry’s real name) and her best friend, 16-year-old Pauline Parker to put a brick in a stocking and bludgeon Parker’s mother to death after Tea in 1954.  Not content with mere reading material I also viewed Heavenly Creatures this weekend. I know that my fellow obsessives Pat S. and Stephanie will be discussing this endlessly amongst ourselves and roping in others. Won’t you join in too?  The book comes out in May but you can get started by watching the movie which in the words of my son who I made watch it with me “is messed up.”  When your 20-year-old says this with awe and amazement in his voice, you can be assured this is a ringing endorsement.  And no, I am not worried about giving him ideas.

You Are What You Read!

I am detecting a decided uptick in mood this week.  There seems to be a lot of happiness and optimism and we begin Daylight Savings Time on Sunday.  I don’t think that this is a coincidence by the way.  Maybe the PA Rodent is taking pity on Poor Winter Weary Us and fulfilling his promise.  Let’s hope. This week we have some magic, a restless ghost, some isolation, Iran, India, a murder, the Tsar, Ireland, delight, and a Royal wave.

Let us begin!

Erin is back from her hijinks on the high seas.  Here is a little something that she enjoyed whilst away.  “Over vacation, I watched a film called The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and DAVID BOWIE. It’s about two rival magicians in London at the turn of the 19th century. This movie is so full of twists, turns, foreshadowing and all around CRAZINESS that I literally found myself exclaiming with joy at certain unexpected parts. I LOVED this film. “

Miss Elizabeth is crazy happy about her choice this week and it’s nice to see. “I’m two for two with my adult books recently – after reading and LOVING The Rook, I started reading Wide Open, by Deborah Coates, not entirely certain it would live up to the former’s pure adrenaline rush. But this nail-biting crime thriller was excellent! When her big sister dies, Sgt. Hallie Michaels is sent home from Afghanistan on 10 days condolence leave. Arriving at the airport in her native South Dakota, Hallie is greeted by her sister’s restless ghost. Though everyone in her small ranching town thinks her sister committed suicide, Hallie knows that’s not the case. She has ten days to solve her sister’s murder and avenge her spirit. This gritty, Midwestern novel felt more realistic than supernatural. I loved it!”

The Amazing Amanda read Blankets by Craig Thompson.   “Thompson is known for his beautiful, imaginative graphic novels which are weighty in the hands and hard on your tear ducts. The book is a loose autobiography of Thompson’s childhood where he dives deep into religious feeling to overcome the isolation enforced on him by his peers and family. However, his faith starts to tremble as he grows up. He finds comfort in writing to a girl he met at a Bible camp. Thompson’s journey explores the faith we place in others and ourselves. How one grows and how nothing can stay the same. This is a beautiful work and is simpler in themes than his later epic Habibi.  Both works explore the ties between religion, sexuality, and growing up.

Lois  Mistress of Materials Management is joining us for the first time this week and has just finished A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri. Welcome Lois! “It is the story of a young girl growing up in post-revolutionary Iran in the 1980’s.  Saba Hafezi and her twin sister Mahtab are obsessed with all things American and look forward to leaving Iran someday to live in the Western world.  When her twin sister and mother disappear, Saba believes they have left her to live in America.  She creates stories in which she imagines the life Mahtab is leading in America.  Their small rural village embraces Saba and her father, providing an array of surrogate mothers and unique friends that each bring different perspectives into her life.  As the years go by, Saba is caught up in the rhythm of life in Iran, but she never abandons her hope of moving to America for the chance to pursue her dreams.  I enjoyed the storytelling aspects of this book and the introspective views from a young girl born into a culture which is both warm and embracing as well as brutal and oppressive.  The author’s bio closely resembles that of her main character, Saba, and that lends heartfelt warmth and credibility to the story.”

Barbara M.  I have no words.  No Paris.  No war.  No Nazis.  There must be some sort of epic sun spot that is affecting the universe. “Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts was published in 2003 and in spite of rave reviews from all who read it I’m finally getting around to tackling this daunting 933-page book. This autobiographical novel tells the story of a man, later known as Shantaram, who escapes from a maximum security prison in Australia and travels with a false passport to Bombay, India. In Bombay he is befriended by a tour guide, Prabaker, and a beautiful Swiss woman, Karla, who will both have a great impact on his life in India. The writing is poetic at times and beautifully descriptive. Although I’ve never been to India this book seems to capture the special qualities of the land and the people.”

The Fabulous Babs B! joins us this week with the  The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson.  “I have to be honest, this was not one of my favorite books.  Teenagers Poppy and Serena were the only suspects in the murder of their teacher.  Poppy is convicted and goes to prison for 20 years while Serena is living a picture-perfect life with a husband and two children.  When Poppy is released she makes it her mission to find Serena and confront her... it seems she did not kill the teacher nor did Serena.  The ending FINALLY brings everything together as the reader finds out who actually did the dirty deed! “

Pat S. has finished a book I adored,   Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith.  Here is her take on it.  “This is a fascinating book which details the annihilation of an entire generation of the ennobled class in Russia at the turn of the last century. Everyone is familiar with the tragic tale of the Romanov dynasty but did you know that the upper class was as much in favor of abolishing the monarchy as were the worker/peasant class? Were you aware that the anti-Semitism which has long colored Russia's history was held down under the Tsar, and went through the stratosphere under the Soviets? In addition to brilliant scholarship, Smith details the ultimate extinction of the ennobled class by following two families, the Golitsyns and the Sheremetevs beginning in 1917. It is a  riveting story that reads like a novel but defines the much larger cultural ramifications of the tragedy.”

Stephanie and I, as usual, are in agreement about something.  This time around it is about the genius of   TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. “I approached this with trepidation. McCann is a great writer so one always does. Short sentences, short thoughts, then deep thoughts.  Interwoven stories through modern Irish history, from several perspectives, a chain. Imitable.  As you can see. But nothing I do can truly imitate McCann’s clean sentences and flawless metaphors; they guide you across the pages like so many neon lights on the runway, coming in for a landing on a clear and moonless night.”

Pat T. doesn’t mind the heat so she’s in the kitchen this week with The Lost Art of Mixing. “ If you have read The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, you might be interested in reading the author's newest book The Lost Art of Mixing. I am in the middle of this delightful read that centers on Lillian, a cook, who has taken her love of cooking and created an inviting restaurant that draws her customers, as well as her employees together through their love of food. There is a whole mix of characters, some struggling with their relationships and others seeking friendship, companionship and love!”

Jeanne is only doing one thing this week.  Discuss. " I am loving The Uncommon Reader on audio. It is read by its author, Alan Bennett whose well-paced bon mots are a delight. The fun begins when the Queen discovers a mobile library near Buckingham Palace. She further discovers; with the help of Norman, a kitchen knave, that she loves to read. She loves reading so much more than the business of politics and she even manages to read surreptitiously as she travels in her royal car and waves her royal wave. Too bad it's a short novella, but I will be sure to look for other similar audiobooks."

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!

I am back from my much needed Staycation.  No exotic locales for me, but I am proud to report that my closets are looking very tidy. I wish to send Many Thanks to Stephanie for doing such a great job last week.  This week we have some Russia, some Heaven, some time, and some painfully obvious.

Let us begin!

Elizabeth of KLS has just finished a staff favorite. “I signed up for World Book Night in April to hand out free books to random people, and the book I will be giving out is David Benioff's City of Thieves.  So I immediately ran out and got it and started reading.  It's about two young men in Russia during the Siege of Leningrad. Thrown together by circumstances, they must find a way to survive (e.g. escape execution) and do so by embarking on an adventure to procure a dozen eggs for a military colonel during a time of shortage and suffering. Cool to note: The author is also a screenwriter and is a co-creator and writer for the HBO hit series Game of Thrones."

Jeanne as usual is working on two things at once.  It is nice to know some things never change.  “As part of a bible study that I belong to, I am reading two books. Heaven Is For Real : A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo. The author, a pastor in a small church in Nebraska tells the true story of his pre-school son's grave brush with death from a burst appendix. Whether you are interested in heaven or not, this well-written story as told by a loving dad of what he learned from his son about love and trust is a "feel good read." I am also reading Proof Of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander. This is a personal telling of the author's glimpse of heaven while in a coma from a rare and mysterious bacterial meningitis-encephalitis. Alexander is an academic neurosurgeon with Harvard and Duke in his CV. For me, this book is less satisfying as a good read than the Burpo book, but still interesting in the author's search to explain his NDE or near death experience.”

Stephanie is looking to rethink! “This week I read a very helpful book about time management. It was even funny and engaging! I know that funny is not usually the word we associate with time management books, but it is true nonetheless. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, by Laura Vanderkam, posits that rather than plan our time day-by-day or even hour-by-hour, we should look at it in weeklong chunks.  There are 168 hours in one week. If you sleep 8 hours a night and work 40 hours a week, that leaves you with 72 hours each week to commute, exercise, cook, hang out with friends, and be a parent. I find that’s a much more optimistic way to think about the week! Vanderkam leads you through exercises that help you determine how you spend your time—and then what changes you can make to spend it more happily. Not all of them will work for everybody, but ultimately the real joy of this book is that its positive approach to time management made me inspired and excited to think about making changes in my life, rather than frazzled and harried.”

When not organizing, decluttering and Staycationing, I read The Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss.  Believe me when I tell you that I have taken this bullet so you won‘t have to.  This is the story of two best friends who came of age in 1960’s Pasadena.  Alex is beautiful, rich and wants to be an actress.  Rebecca is not so beautiful, brainy and wants to be a doctor.  Yeah.  This is not going to end well.  I felt like a person in a movie theater watching a horror film and I kept wanting to shout, “Look out!  Here comes the dude with the knife!”  Or, rather in the case of this book, “Look out!  Here comes the unwanted pregnancy/bad marriage that is going to kill your dreams!”

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