You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read!

This week I would like to address a breach of civility that I call Yucking the Yum.  Many people have asked me by what I mean by this.  Well it’s just this:  When you say “Yuck” to something that someone finds Yummy , or makes them happy, you are calling them out on their taste.  It’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves.  Let’s say someone says, “I can’t wait for dinner tonight!  It’s going to be a lovely piece of roasted salmon on a bed of arugula. “ This Someone will inevitably shudder with horror, do an eye roll and make that person feel like a circus freak for the joyful anticipation of that meal.  I have seen this lately in discussions with books, films, just about anything under the sun that could make a person happy.  You know what?  If something is not your cup of tea, please just nod politely and either change the subject or formulate this week’s grocery list in your head.   Thanks.  Phew.  I feel so much better now.  Many of you may have missed this news story.  There was a wolverine named Kasper who was on his way to Alaska from Norwegian zoo.  There needed to be a plane change at Newark National airport where he would go through Customs.   He was in a metal cage that proved no match for his sharp little teeth and he had managed to chew a hole in the cage to try to escape!  Now this just goes to prove my point about Wolverines in general.  Only a Wolverine would think that Newark Airport was a place to escape to.  Really?  You are given a choice between Newark and a 170 acre unspoiled Alaskan landscape and you choose Newark?  Point proved.  This week we have tenderness and compassion, Vichy France, North Korea, Korean Americans, and a Bake Off. 

Of course we have The Playlist!  Of course!

Sweet Ann is here this week after reading The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey by Rachel Joyce. What did you think Ann? “This is almost a companion book to Ms. joyce's earlier novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.  In that novel, Harold Fry was walking across England to visit his friend Queenie who is dying in a hospice.  In this new novel Queenie is writing to Harold as he walks across England.  It is difficult for her to write and one of the sisters at the hospice helps her along with the story she is writing to Harold.  Queenie wants Harold to know her real reason for leaving her job, where he also worked, and why she never contacted him again until she was very sick.  This is a wonderful story filled with tenderness that at times will make your heart ache but it will also have your heart soar with the love and compassion of these characters.  While it sounds like a sad book and it is in some ways, it is also a wonderful reflection on friendship and love.” 

Barbara M is back in France and I know that makes me feel like all is right with the world.  “I recently watched Claude Chabrol’s documentary film The Eye of Vichy made in 1993. It is a compilation of propaganda newsreels and films made by the Nazis and their French collaborators during the occupation of France in World War II. The aim of these films was to convince the people of France that working with the Germans would benefit France as a nation and that their real enemies were the Jews, the Allied Forces and the Communists.  Field Marshall Petain's energetic speeches are filmed followed by children bringing him gifts and flowers in an attempt to endear him to the people. There are clips of young men happily leaving France to work in German factories. Propaganda is powerful and we’ll never know how many people embraced Petain’s vision. After the war most people claimed to be on the side of The Resistance but we’ll never know. This is a fascinating film about the power of the media. “

The Delightful Pat S is here and she’s back to her old ways too.  Perhaps this sun and warmth is working its’ magic?  “After a few recent forays into fiction, I have fallen back to an old favorite in this riveting memoir Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim. Set in the fall of 2011, Kim, a Korean-American writer infiltrates the only privately funded university in Pyongyang. Using her cover as a teacher to the sons of the North Korean elite in order to gather information about living under this totalitarian regime, Kim renders a portrayal which is almost visceral in its' intensity. There are the repressive day to day procedures-complete news blackouts, censoring of all communications, being constantly monitored 24/7. The students have no idea that the 'intranet' they are allowed to surf is only downloaded, pre-approved files, and not the World Wide Web. There is no contact with the world outside of campus unless it has been pre-approved. One such outing included a 98 mile ride on a government road-during which they saw not a single other car-coming or going. As for the students-Kim finds them age appropriately  naive and charming-yet tragically stunted in their thinking. Their speech is constantly marked with references to the Great One, and the superiority of North Korea in all things-technology, farming, sports. Kim feels herself choking from the claustrophobia of this lifestyle after only a short while. But she can leave. This book will stay with you long after the last page.”

Steph?   Yup she’s already anticipating even better days ahead.  I’ll let her explain. “Something about this weather had me in the mood for a beach read, so I tried China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. This sequel to last year’s Crazy Rich Asians is exactly what you want in a fluffy, smart vacation book. If you read the first book, you’ll be delighted to hear that this one follows Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young after their wedding, as she discovers who her father is and gets to see another side of Asia. But if you didn’t read the first book, you will love this just the same. Lots of family scheming, social feuds, elaborate clothing and jewelry, houses and hotels and clubs you couldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams, and strata of Asian society you didn’t even know existed. Because these characters aren’t just rich—they’re China-rich. I definitely don’t have what it takes to succeed in Hong Kong or Singapore high society, so it was delightful to experience a version of it vicariously!”

I have to tell you all about an amazing debut novel that I spent last week savoring like the best meal you’ve ever eaten.  Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal introduces us to Eva Thorvald who ends up becoming one of the all-time most influential chefs of her generation.  Each chapter tells about a dish and the character attached to it that made Eva the famous amongst the food intelligentsia.  I like to think of it as what Art of Fielding did for baseball, this book will do for the food traditions of the Midwest such as lutefisk and Bake-Offs.  It comes out at the end of July and it has already earned a spot on my Top Ten List for 2015.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named which is rich with Wolverines.  That’s all I am going to say about that.  What’s good Pats? “Holy Cow by David Duchovny has been amusing me nightly. Sure I’ve read the reviews that pan this book as a hot mess and maybe it is but it has been making me laugh out loud on a regular basis and that’s never a bad thing. It’s a coming of age story of Elsie Bovary, a cow living the life on a milking farm in upstate New York. Elsie leaves her paddock one night with a friend with the intention of visiting the bulls. She wanders off and ends up viewing snippets of a television program at the Farmer’s house about industrial meat farming. This sets her on a journey to the holy land for cows, India. I’m still reading it and have been enjoying this delightfully bizarre tale.”


You Are What You Read!

It’s just all too much sometimes isn’t it?  The unrelenting bleak, the cold chill, a steel grey sky without a whisper of blue?  It’s beginning to feel like winter is never going to loosen its grip that the rain and cold will never end.  Will a warm sunny day remain a phantom limb for us?  Something dimly remembered from a previous lifetime?  Well, this week’s message fromThe SoNo Loft is “Hang in there Baby.”  I say we all need to heed this one.  Sure it feels like the rain and cold are never going to end, that a warm sunny day is an itch never to be satisfied, but look around People!  The pansies are out at Nielson’s and the Gardener's Center, and in my neck of the woods I have spotted daffodils and they are blooming.  Granted, these daffodils were planted near a dryer vent so they had a lot of help. But maybe, just maybe, there is a nugget of truth about April showers and all that.  Stay strong!  I have heard from The Weather People who supposedly know these things that Sunday we will finally see a temperature that begins with the number 6.  This is normal for this time of year and as it should be.  I say that if this turns out to be a lie, everyone should just turn on the TV on Sunday afternoon and watch The Masters. We can look at green grass and blooming azaleas and remind ourselves that our turn is coming.  This week we have the Dump, the Shroud of Turin and some crack.  Of course we have The Playlist!  It’s a little soggy but it won’t melt.

Let us begin!

Laura is back from her vacation with Hades by Cynthia Fox. “This is an ultimate page turner.  This Aussie's debut novel is a gripping and chilling read. Readers know who the killer is, but not who will be the next victim.  The hunt to find the killer is narrated by Detective Frank Bennett, who is partnered with the lovely and mysterious Eden Archer.  She, and her brother Eric, are the adopted daughter and son of Hades, who is the patriarch/owner of a strange underworld located at the city dump.  All three have a secretive back story that is riveting, page by page.  I read this during a vacation and didn't want to put it down.”  

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan has just finished The Fifth Gospel, Ian Caldwell. What are you thinking VA? ”Ten years in the making, The Fifth Gospel, by Ian Caldwell is first and foremost an intellectual literary suspense novel that explores theology, scriptural interpretations and the political machinations that happen inside the Vatican walls.  At the root of the plot, is a newly discovered Gospel text that has the potential to prove the Shroud of Turin, the controversial religious icon, is indeed a true relic holding the image of Jesus after he was crucified.  A week before an exhibit is to open announcing the discovery, the lead curator is found murdered and two brothers are drawn into the investigation. One as the lead suspect, and the other is fighting to discover the truth before his brother is stripped of being a Priest.  This book is a fascinating read about the history of religion, but ultimately the book is about humanity, relationships, and how one priest struggles with maintaining the delicate balance of family and faith.”

Steph Is a mess.  I’ll let her explain. “I’ve been wrecked by a book again—Delicious Foods by James Hannaham. It’s a compulsively readable and intense novel. Darlene is a young widow and mother whose depression after her husband’s death leads her to crack addiction. When a nice woman in a minibus downtown offers her a good job if she gets in, sure, she can call her son when she gets there, and hey, want to smoke with us on the way? It seems too good to be true, and it is. Immediately, Darlene finds that she’s contracted to perform hard labor on a farm and is being billed for the old mattress and terrible food they provide. The farm is so distant that no one is even sure which state it’s in and workers are kept pliant with alcohol and crack. (Think this is too crazy to be true? Here’s just one story about such an occurrence and it has happened multiple times.) The story unfolds with alternating chapters from Eddie, Darlene’s son, as he looks for her, and then finds and stays with her on the farm, and Scotty, who is the voice of the crack cocaine she can’t quit. Both voices are, as you’d imagine, heartbreaking.” and the story is brutal. But Hannaham’s writing is fantastic and unflinching even as the story gets darker and darker. If you’re mentally prepared for it, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is in da house with the doings from The State Which Shall Not Be Named.  What’s good Pats? “Falling asleep to the sound of the rain is one of my favorite things. I have always loved the smell and sound of the rain. Now it turns out there’s a name for that wonderful smell, petrichor. We’ve had plenty of it this week.  Ok, it’s rained ALL week and while this is a verdant, fecund time for emerging plants and flowers waking from winter, it’s been a bit of a drag for my kiddos during their Spring Break Staycation. Ever resourceful and without direction the kids have built a tent city in their room, rode bikes in the rain and spent hours Minecrafting together. There is now an entire wall covered in freshly drawn anime characters.Me? I have been itching to get out, plant something and dig my hands into the dirt but maybe it just isn’t time, yet. There are times when we need to wait, watch the rain, reflect and, like the plants, absorb things. So for now I’m just going to hang in there, watch my kids create things and smell the rain. I can always garden next week.


You Are What You Read!

Happy Easter, Passover, Vernal Equinox, Grilled Cheese Month!  Whatever it is that you celebrate we wish you a happy one.  This weekend will bring us the Full Pink Moon named for the blooming pink wild phlox.  Yup. That’s not happening. Although, I will say on my runs in the evening, I have noticed that the Snow Drops and the Glory of the Snow are FINALLY blooming.  So that’s encouraging.  This full moon is also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon which makes sense or the Egg Moon, again there is a sort of sense to that too, but then there is the Fish Moon.  I have no idea why fish would be involved. Are they spawning?  Were they wintering in the deep, deep depths and now they are back closer to the surface and therefore catchable?  If anyone out there has the 411 on the springtime ways of those that swim among us, just let me know and I’ll reveal all next week. Our image this week is of Sweet Ann’s Egg Tree.  Because, really?  How could we not bring you The Egg Tree?  This has become Tradition.  Thanks Ann!  This week we have France, Miami, the Cunard Line, a pilgrimage, a hobby and some California.  The Playlist?  That’s becoming Tradition too.  Can’t mess with Tradition!

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann has just finished The Nightingale by Hannah Kristen, which is rapidly becoming a staff favorite.  Let’s see if she likes it as much as others have.  “This is the first book that I have read by Ms. Kristen and I believe this novel is her first in the historical novel genre.  It is the story of WWII France and two sisters whose lives will be uprooted and changed by the war.  Vianne is married with a young daughter. Isabelle, her younger sister, is a woman who takes risks and won't let people or situations keep her down.  At first I was concerned when I started this novel that it would be similar to many WWII novels I have read before where a main character reflects back on his or her war experience, but this was a different slant on a story and it was quite good.   The story follows the sister’s lives as they choose very different paths.  Vianne will do anything to keep herself and their daughter safe until her husband returns after being imprisoned in a Nazi prison.  She will also have to contend with having German Captain Beck live in her house.  He is an interesting character and at times I found his actions to be caring, something usually not associated with a Nazi officer.  Isabelle, on the other hand, will not stand by and let the Germans take over.  Her decisions will put her life and the lives of those closest to her in danger. This is a well written fast paced novel.”

Always Fabulous Babs B is thrilled to have a new Joy Fielding to tuck into with Someone Is Watching.  “I was so excited to see a new Joy Fielding book and was not disappointed. The story centers on Bailey Carpenter who is a special investigator for a Miami law firm.  On one of her assignments spying on a deadbeat dad in the middle of the night, she is viciously attacked and nearly killed.  Once she is released from the hospital she becomes a veritable prisoner in her own home, unable to venture past her front door without panicking.  To fill her time, she uses binoculars to casually observe from her window the neighboring buildings and other people's lives.  Anyone else see Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window going on here?  Bailey fixates on the handsome guy across the street and then suddenly realizes he is watching her too.  Suddenly she starts thinking the terrifying possibility that he may be the man who shattered her life.  The police become involved and do a check on this man and he is totally clean.  Bailey feels like she is losing her sanity as nobody believes anything she says.  Suffice it to say, there is a real twist at the end which I never saw coming!  Good to have you back, Joy!”

Barbara M has tackled Erik Larson’s latest book Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.  Larson describes the tragic event of May 1915 which needn’t have happened.  As he has done with his other books Larson creates an atmosphere by telling the story from different viewpoints; the Cunard Company, the captain of the U-boat, the passengers and crew of the Lusitania, President Wilson, and the British government. His research is meticulous and it is the details which make the story come alive.  For example, one of the passengers, Charles Lauriat Jr., a book dealer from Boston, boarded the Lusitania with two priceless items; a set of drawings by William Makepeace Thackeray and a copy of A Christmas Carol with annotations made by Charles Dickens. Although we know how the story ends Larson’s writing makes this a compelling and exciting read.”

Pat T, as always, can be found listening. Here is what she liked this week. “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey by Rachel Joyce is the companion book to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye. I just finished listening to the audio book and I think it enhances this charming story. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye takes us on a journey with Harold as he sets off to walk 500 miles across England to visit his friend, Queenie, who is at the end of her life. Now, we have the pleasure of hearing about Queenie's recollections of her friendship and love for Harold. Both books reveal delightful characters reflecting on their lives and move forward with dignity and courage as they reach out, in friendship, to one another one last time. As I began reading Queenie's story I couldn't help but think of one of our former co-workers, who hailed from Britain, because he originally recommended, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye, to ‘all us wonderful librarians’! I hope life is good for him and his children, across the pond!”

The Ever Delightful Pat S got her hands on It’s What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario which was a book she was highly anticipating.  Here’s what she thought. “Recommended by a colleague, this memoir is a fascinating exploration of the life and times of an award-winning photojournalist. Addario grew up in Westport, Ct and discovered photography as a hobby in her early teens. After college, wanting to travel and see the world, she wound up in South America and it was there she began to photograph people and realized that photography was a way to tell a story. ‘It was the marriage of travel and foreign cultures and curiosity and photography. It was photojournalism.’ From that moment on, Addario worked ceaselessly  to become the best. Paying her dues in South America, she returned to New York where picture by picture, she began to climb the professional ladder which ultimately brought her to the New York Times. It was on a trip to Afghanistan to photograph an essay on women's issues in 2000 that provided the tipping point for Addario. After September11, 2001, she was one of the few photographers who already had a working knowledge of the Taliban. Ultimately, it is Addario and her colleagues who put a human face to war, genocide, and countless other crimes against humanity in the international arena. After being robbed, kidnapped, beaten up, and molested in the course of her work, Addario's only response to the question Why? is 'It's what I do.’ Not yet forty, Addario has won a Pulitzer Prize and been awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. I can't wait to see what she does with the second forty years.”

Miss Claire of the Children’s Library has just read   Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. “Gabi, A Girl in Pieces was the winner of the Winner of the William C. Morris award, given to a debut YA author, and it’s not impossible to see why this novel has captured so many readers of teen literature. Told through Gabi’s diary, I was immediately drawn to the character’s honest portrayal of the struggles of being a Mexican-American teen living in California, especially when your father is an addict and your best friend just found out she’s pregnant. Gabi’s story is both humorous and poignant, and witnessing her transformation into a poet and writer is worth every page! “

DJ Jazzy Patty McC!  From That State Up North!  What's good Pats? "This Easter and Passover feels particularly auspicious. Before sunrise on April 4th we can witness a total eclipse of the Full Pink Moon that will last approximately 5 minutes. Times and locations for best viewing can be found here.  We’re making preparations for our creative session of egg coloring. I am cooking up a tiny ham, loads of vegetables and a Raspberry-Ricotta Cake for our Sunday celebration here with the folks. Big thanks to Jen for the cake recipe share! May your holiday involve eggs, a shared meal with family and friends, some chocolate and don’t forget the music.


You Are What You Read!

The words fromThe SoNo Loft this week are “Just Build It.” As always The Loft is ON IT.  I have noticed that there seems to be a movement afoot.  People seem to be just building their own damn Spring.  For me, there is the refusal to wear a hat.  I won’t do it.  You can’t make me.  Gloves came next and then this morning came the realization I am down to one knee high.  This can only mean one thing.  It’s time to start thinking about the return of the Bare Leg.  To be honest, The Amazing Amanda started that trend 4 days ago and she gave me the courage to begin to even think about it.  And we are not alone in this!  There was this article in the New York Times on Wednesday all about it.  And you know when the Times reports on it, it’s a real thing.  So begin building your very own Spring!  Daffodils are 2 bunches for $5 at the Whole Foods.  Even I can afford this.  Buy them in bulk and strewn them all over your home.  Banish the grey, the sad and the cold.   Just Build It already!  This week we have a new romance, twins, spies, life lessons,  Civil Rights, and New Jersey.  Did DJ Patty McC build The Playlist?  You know she did!

Let us begin!

The Amazing Amanda asks us the following question:  “Are you tired of dainty debutantes and aggressive men with no personality? Then Mary Jo Putney's The Lost Lords series is going to keep you busy for the next few weeks. The books follow the romances of the first class of well-born, but badly behaved young lords of an early 18th century academy. These are not ordinary gentleman since they range from one duke being half-Indian, another is a master spy, others have fought in the Napoleonic wars, while Lord Grey languished in solitary confinement for 10 years. Each man is evenly matched with an equally intelligent woman. These ladies are accomplished and struggling against the restrictive social order of their times. What I appreciate about these stories is the characters are well-rounded, flawed, and working towards goals that matter to them. Be warned though: these books are violent and feature passionate lovers. They're fun to read through and keep you guessing as to who the villain is in every tale. “

Miz Mallory the Programming Diva is getting creative as is her wont.  “Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun tells the story of Jude and her twin brother Noah. Told in alternating voices, Noah’s chapters take place when the twins are 13-years-old and Jude’s take place when they’re 16, this was just what I needed after some heavy nonfiction. What seems to matter most to the twins is what happened in those in-between years, the ones not on the pages. When Noah tells his story, the twins are inseparable, often sitting as close as they can just to feel as if they are one being. When Jude tells her story, the twins are cold and distant. As the story goes on, you begin to learn what happened between 13 and 16, what caused the twins to turn their solid, joyful relationship into a sad, almost non-existent one. You’ll fall for Noah and Jude equally and be screaming at the pages for them to just talk to one another. For lovers of LBGTQ fiction, literary YA, and sibling fiction (which is a genre I just made up), two enthusiastic thumbs up.”

Abby has a new series she wants to share. “I pursued a Soviet Studies in college. No, it hasn’t really helped me much but I did enjoy the writing and lively discussions. Then I discovered the series The Americans. Talk about a series being right in your wheelhouse! The series features 80’s pop culture, excellent spy tradecraft, and a tremendous amount of emotional manipulation. It stars Keri Russell as Soviet sleeper agent Elizabeth born Nadezhda, who was paired with Phillip nee Mikhail played by Matthew Rhys, and placed inside the United States as sleeper agents for the KGB. The KGB trained them to blend in, have a family and live life. And they do just that; until they are activated. Once their missions start rolling in, the borscht really hits the fan! Add to this a marriage that started out as an assignment but has clearly always been more than that to Phillip who is indeed in love with Elizabeth. Will the love be reciprocated because she too loves Phillip, or because it’s her job? The writers do some very interesting things with Elizabeth and Phillip as they juggle their home life with their responsibilities to the motherland. They have an arsenal of techniques to recruit others to their cause and are not above seduction, threats, and executions. Watching them exploit the vulnerabilities of their targets is extremely uncomfortable, yet you pull for them on some level while loathing their actions and trying to will their prey to somehow resist and fight back. Be prepared for a rollercoaster ride filled with the excess of the 80’s, cold war brutality, and the use of sexuality to serve a cause. “

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan can be found on a treadmill listening to Monday's Lie by Jamie Mason.  “At some point in our lives, we all hear our mother’s voice in the back of our minds with the lessons they taught us about how to handle ourselves. For me, it was how to conduct myself as a strong, smart Southern woman. To quote my mother ‘always be the one wearing the pink suit in the boardroom full of men. Show them you are a woman and you aren’t going to be forgotten.’ It's those little life lessons that make each of us unique, but for the main character, Dee Aldrich, in the book Monday’s Lie by Jamie Mason, her upbringing is a little bit different.  You see, her mother was a top-level spy for the government and she made hyperawareness, sleuthing, and other spy traits as part of her upbringing.  For Dee, her mother’s long absences and alternative lifestyle were too much, and so as an adult she chose the polar opposite, instead settling down with the most normal man she could find and living a nice, if uneventful life. But you can’t escape the lessons learned in childhood, and soon Dee becomes aware things are not right, and she will fully need to rely on what her mother taught her if she wants to survive. I recommend this as a fun Spring Break thriller or if you are like me, and need something to take your mind off of your time on the treadmill, it is the perfect audiobook and can be found on Hoopla.

Steph is taking recommendations!  Here’s what she recently picked up. “I took Barbara’s advice and read March: Book Two. This is the second volume in a planned trilogy written by John Lewis, the Congressman from Georgia who is the only remaining member of the Big Six of the Civil Rights Movement. In the first volume, the scene was set for the movement and Lewis’s involvement; in this volume, the action escalates quickly, as Lewis and his colleagues launch the 1961 Freedom Riders campaign at great risk to their lives. Lewis (and his co-writer, Andrew Aydin and illustrator, Nate Powell) are honest and clear about the violence and hatred they encountered, the difficulties and the successes of peaceful civil disobedience, and the disagreements inside the movement. The simplicity of their storytelling, which is set against an ongoing subplot about President Obama’s first inauguration, is powerful beyond measure. I read it twice and it gave me chills each time. This is not just one of the best graphic novels of the year, but one of the best history books, period. “

I was gifted an Advance Reader’s Copy of In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.   In her first adult novel in 15 years she looks at a 3 month period in 1951-1952.  I was during this time a series of passenger planes crashed in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Blume draws on her own memories of that time to bring us the stories of those who witnessed this horror on the ground but those who perished in the crashes.  Her voice is still as magnetic as it was whenever you first happened to read her. This one comes out in early June.

DJ JaZZY Patty Mc!  What’s good this week? “Winter is finally giving way to spring and everyone here couldn’t be happier. Sure, we’re wading through big muddy puddles but we can see green living things emerging from the swampland. The snowbirds are flocking back to their northern nests and I’m not talking about the geese. The geese beat my neighbor’s return and they make their presence known in many, many ways. I’ve been mucking my way through construction sites looking at houses. It was a coincidence that The Loft proclaimed, “Just Build It”. I’ve got lots of building plans this spring that include raised garden boxes and some really cool vertical ones. I’ve got the tools to do it. So whatever your particular proclivity is for building or creating. It’s spring. Now’s the time! I thought a little Muddy Waters would be appropriate right about now. “


You Are What You Read!

This week has felt like nothing so much as one step forward and two steps back.  It began with so much promise too!  I enjoyed my first run down to the water since December on Monday evening.  There was a gently setting sun, a new pair of kicks, a softening of the ground, a whisper of warmth in the briny air and the promise of better days.  This all circled the drain the very next day when the temperatures plummeted and on Wednesday snow bedeviled my morning walk to the train. My poor sister-in-law shared a picture of her garden on St. Patrick’s Day encased in at least 6 inches of ice and snow. She was wondering how she was going to get her peas planted.  The answer is, sorry Cathy, you’re not. There are no fresh peas on the Tundra.  Add to this misery, my third cold of the season (seriously? I am practically bullet proof! I never get sick, truly) and I am finding it hard to find any hope or promise of better things to come at this point. But then I noticed something as I was walking to work. I noticed a bona fide, true miracle. The witch hazel bush that lives on the corner of Thorndal Circle and the Post Road in the Nielsen’s parking lot was, wait for it, BLOOMING! There was a living thing. OUTSIDE. WITH FLOWERS ON IT!  So if you, like me, are at the point where you feel in your heart there is no hope to be found, and your soul is weary and grey like the snow left on the side of the road,  get yourself over to Nielsen’s and check out the Witch Hazel.  It just may make you feel better or it just may make you finally book that one-way flight to points South. Your choice. This week we have an accident, civil rights, a library, Walter Reed, France, NYC, a frozen pond, and a dicey trip on a luxury liner. We may be cold but there will always be The Playlist.

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann is here this week.  And I for one want to know when we are going to see an Egg TreeAnnAnn?  Anyway, here is what she thinks of The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer.  “This is an engrossing, well written novel about a young man named Matthew who is a schizophrenic.  Matthew narrates the story as a young man reflecting on his childhood and the death of his older brother Simon.  When Matthew was nine years old there was an accident and his twelve-year-old brother, Simon, who had Down syndrome died. Matthew has blamed himself for years for Simon's death.  Matthew shares his reflections, his relationship with his parents and his mental anguish.  The author changed the typeface of the book at times to reflect Matthew's mental state which really helped to convey his emotions. I found this book to be fast paced and engrossing.  I highly recommend it.”

Barbara M is out of her comfort zone with this week’s read. ”I’ve just finished reading March: Book Two the second non-fiction graphic novel by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell.  It is the story of incredibly courageous people enduring horrible consequences while fighting for their basic rights, the rights most of us take for granted. This is the history of the Civil Rights movement in this country as I’ve never heard it told before, written by a man who was an integral part of it. Congressman John Lewis was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was one of the six people who spoke at the 1963 March on Washington. He is the only one still alive. The book is powerful and moving and should be required reading for any High School student studying American History. “

Pat T, as usual, can be found listening. “I took a patron's suggestion to read this short, imaginative tale by the author who also wrote Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage.  I listened to the audio of The Strange Library, by Haruki Murakami. I must say I found the young boy to be  very endearing when he would say, ‘My mother taught me.... to return books on time; if you knock on a door you have to wait there until someone answers it and when you want to know something look it up in the library.’ His mother's instructions get him into trouble when he is directed to Room 107 in search of books about how taxes were collected during the Ottoman Empire. There he encounters a very strange man who imprisons him in the basement of the library. Things then proceed to get dark and curiouser and curiouser, similar to Alice in Wonderland when she went down the rabbit hole.”

Diane just finished Blue Stars written by Emily Gray Tedrowe. “This novel recounts the lives of Ellen, a Midwestern college professor whose guardian has enlisted in the Marines, and Lacey, a Bronx native married to a career Army man always struggling to make ends meet. The novel brings these two women and their families together at Walter Reed Medical Center. The daily stress, frustration and bureaucracy involved with the care and decisions being made for their injured family members are mixed with the long term realities. Adding to this stress, are the deplorable conditions many families face during temporary housing while on the Walter Reed Campus .I really enjoyed this very emotional story.”

Babs B can’t stop talking about how much she loves The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. “It is 1939 France and the quiet village of Carriveau is on the brink of changing forever.  The once peaceful and bucolic town has turned into a horrific show of airplanes, war tanks, bombs and Nazis. Vianne Mauriac, the young wife of a recently drafted soldier, is obligated to house a Nazi.  Her rebellious sister Isabelle, chooses the dangerous path of joining the French Resistance. This was a great historical fiction novel and I thought the author did a wonderful job explaining this complex story and taking the time to make the reader understand the complex characters and their journey throughout the book.  I even gave up one of my favorite TV shows because I loved this book so much!”

The Always Delightful Pat S never wastes her time on silliness so let’s see what she thinks of  The Whites by Richard Price. “As you know, Crime and Detective/Mystery are not really genres I read often but I made an exception in this case because the buzz has been so hot. Situated in New York City, we are introduced to Billy Graves, who holds a position as a detective in the graveyard shift which is essentially a placeholder until he reaches retirement. But once he was part of a young and aggressive group of crime fighters known as the Wild Geese who all graduated from the Police Academy together. As we are introduced to the other four ‘Geese” we see that time and experience have beaten them down. Each has had a traumatic encounter with some heinous thug which has left them deeply disillusioned, made all the more so by the fact that these thugs were never brought to justice. Until now as one by one, the various perpetrators are being found dead throughout the city and it falls to Billy to investigate. The mystery is not the most compelling feature here, it is the writing. Rarely has the grittiness of New York’s boroughs been so keenly described. Price does a brilliant job of painting the barren emotional landscape after twenty years on the job for these policemen. Overwhelmingly, the reader is left with a sense of hopelessness because good doesn’t always trump evil. Not for the faint of heart!”

Sue is reading a fiction and a non-fiction book this week and she is enjoying them both. “My fiction choice is The Winter People by Rebekah L. Purdy. Salome Montgomery truly fears winter, unlike those of us who are just sick and tired of it. She’s not a fan of the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all she is afraid of the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn't forgotten their warning to ’stay away.’ I am really enjoying reading this book and I highly recommend it to those who also share a love of all things otherworldly!  My non-fiction choice is Dead Wake; The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.  On May 1, 1915, a richly appointed luxury ocean liner sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious and rightly so with the knowledge that Germany had changed the rules of war to include attacking passenger ships. Erik Larson's writing makes me feel like I am on the decks of the ship where you can feel the intensity and uncertainty of war around you.  Dead Wake is a page turner and a must read!”  

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named with our final thoughts of the week and of course, The Playlist.  What’s good Pats? “I know we’ve all had it with winter. We said goodbye to Phil last week. We are more than ready for spring. But there’s been a new development. I’ve been told by my conspiracy loving friend that there’s a final email circulating from the rodents. Phil’s still down under, soaking up the last of the summer rays, chilling in the surf, practicing the putt and consuming beverages topped with umbrellas. He’s angered his band of rogue rodents who’ve been left behind due to new airline restrictions. They’ve said they’re planning an early April Fool’s Day joke. Phil is flying back Friday and they’ve decided that his arrival should include some flurries, maybe more than a few, a last winter blast that will sting. Apparently rodents hold a grudge and have a long memory. Wishing us all springtime weather soon.”



You Are What You Read!

Did you hear that?  Did you hear that collective sigh of relief when the mercury in the thermometer edged up past 32 degrees, when the snow started melting and when the stuff coming down from the sky was just water?  I think that we have turned a corner here, People.  Sure, it’s still less than charming out there but our standards are so low at this point that just that little bit of improvement does wonders.  I swear it’s like all my Train Friends have had Prozac slipped into their hot beverage of choice, so buoyant is the atmosphere on the platforms.   The words from The SoNo Loft are Kickstart Your Life.  Timely, given that when the weather makes that turn for the better, you feel like things are possible again.   One more week of Winter, People!  Hold tight!  We can do it. The Fitbit Challenge update:  As many of you who visit are aware we were soundly thrashed by our friends up the road.  We salute you Fairfield Public!  We salute you and what have to be the bloody stumps that you all now call your legs.   This week we have some fuss, some Grace, naughtiness, charisma and a hot mess.  Of course, we have The Playlist.

Let us begin!

Asha.  Sometimes she’s here and sometimes she’s not.  Here’s what she gathered up from the last time she was here. “I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Girl on the Train and I can see why people would be enthralled by it; the voyeuristic aspect, the unreliability of our narrator, and the utter failure that is her life. Still, I was disappointed, mostly because rather early on I was aware of who did the act and why. This is not to say that it wasn't a good book, I just wished it was a bit more insidious and not so lacking in its sketchiness. I'm not sure what that says about me as a person.”

Diane is new to YAWYR and Darien Library.  She can be spotted on the Welcome Desk. Welcome Diane! “Saving Grace by Jane Green is a book I would like to recommend. Meet  Grace and Ted Chapman a well-respected couple living outside New York City. Ted is an author and Grace is an active volunteer in their community. Life becomes chaotic when Ted's longtime assistant leaves her job and Ted can't handle his career without her. He becomes nasty, threatening and difficult to live with.  When a young woman appears in the couple's life, Ted's life finds balance again while Grace suddenly finds hers falling apart. The book had a slow start but suspense and mystery became part of the story. In the end I couldn't put the book down.”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is here with an old favorite that she somehow missed. “Delicious and a little bit naughty, but laced with a sharp edge of regret and sorrow is how I would describe Charles Dubow’s book, Indiscretion. Harry and Madeleine Winslow are the quintessential East coast couple. You know the type: gorgeous, successful, with the brownstone in NYC, and the cottage in the Hamptons. Harry and Maddy have been married for twenty years with a beautiful child, and are still madly in love with each other. Together they radiate that special charisma that draws people in and makes them feel at home. Like a moth to a flame, that very magnetism draws in a young woman who will ultimately shatter the idyllic world of the Winslow’s in tragic ways. One of the things I most enjoyed about the book is the narrator, Maddy’s childhood friend, Walter, whose reflection provides insight, and innate Waspish tone provides moments of humor. This was a book that made me long for a beach, a sunset and, of course, an umbrella drink. Luckily Dubow’s second book, Girl in the Moonlight, is being released soon. “

Steph!  What’cha doing?  “Everyone seems to be on the hunt for lighter reads now that the snow is finally melting. As a result, I am gearing up to recommend The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (recognize those names? perhaps you know their amazing snarky fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself?) when it comes out in a few weeks. The Royal We is their retelling of the courtship of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and both women are notoriously obsessed with that coupling, so you know this’ll be good. In this story, Prince William becomes Prince Nicholas, and Kate becomes Bex, an American who literally runs into him on her first day studying abroad at Oxford. Despite everything, they fall madly in love, but when their love goes from secret fling to something more serious, the drama increases about as much as you’d expect. Hysterically funny and such a delight to read, but not too frothy, there’s enough seriousness to the plot that gives it more depth than a tabloid rehash. I predict that this will be one of the big beach reads of 2015. Anyone who had opinions on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress (or Pippa’s dress, for that matter!) will love this one.”

On the one day a week that I drive to work I can be found in my tiny little car listening to the totally charming I’ll Drink to That:  A Life in Style with a Twist by Betty Halbreich and read by Jane Curtin.  Babs B pressed it into my hands promising me that I would soon be in love with Betty. And as usual, Babs is right.  Eighty-six-year-old Betty has spent nearly 40 years at the Shopping Mecca that is Bergdorf Goodman.  She has seen a lot; the good, the bad, and the severely unfortunate and she’s not afraid to tell you to take that hot mess off, put down that over-priced handbag and remind you that to look good is to feel good. Jane Curtin is doing an amazing job of bringing Betty and her story to life.  I can’t recommend this highly enough.

DJ Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named.  “This has been a week of endings but also an opportunity for beginnings. This week we offer our condolences over the death of our friend, and library lover Lisa Bonchek Adams.  She asked me a few years ago to remind everyone that she was not ‘lost’ and that she never ‘gave up a battle’. Cancer doesn’t work like that and the language that our society uses to discuss it bothered Lisa. She will be missed by the thousands of lives she touched through her kindness and grace. I think she would have liked this week’s playlist. In honor of Lisa’s daily mantra, let’s all go out, find a bit of beauty in the world and share it.”


You Are What You Read!

Welcome to the Full Worm Moon edition of You Are What You Read!  I consider this to be the ultimate irony and here’s why.  The moon is thusly named because of the softening ground and the reappearance of earthworms.  As we all now know, this is not the case and may never be the case ever again.  We live on the Tundra and that is that.  It is also known as the Sap moon because allegedly this is the time when the tree sap begins to flow.  People, there is no sap on the Tundra.  So let that notion go.   I am sure that by now, you, like me are done and undone.  I just can’t do another week like this one.  Phil.  Please.  We are begging you.  Undo the evil that you have wrought.  The words of the SoNo Loft are “You are forgiven”. I have to believe that these words are in no way directed at Phil.  In addition, kindly remember it is Spring Ahead weekend. This will go a long way to sweetening our moods I am sure.  Check those batteries in the smoke detector!  By the time you all get this, The Fitbit Challenge will be in its death throes and so will its participants.  We tip our caps to our Friends at Fairfield; they are not only worthy opponents but just damn fine people!  We are honored to be your colleagues in LibraryLand!  Be sure you check the service desks next week to find out the outcome. It’s been a close one. This week we have some Poland, Germany, Macy’s, a whole lotta likker, and a labyrinth of lies! 

The Playlist?  Of course!

Let us begin!

Laura is here with something that she recently enjoyed. “Ida is a beautiful film about a young woman who was raised by nuns within the safe walls of a Catholic convent located in the countryside of Poland.  Her family placed her in the convent soon after World War II when she was a child and it is the only life she has known.  The story begins as Ida, now in her twenties, visits her one remaining relative before she takes her vows. When she meets her, Ida is told that she is Jewish.  They then strike out to find her childhood home that was stolen away from her family by the Nazis. The black and white cinematography lends beautifully to the story, and complements the harrowing artistic undertone of the film.  This is a worthy film to watch for the history alone.

Babs B has just started The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen.  How goes it Babs? “This is a psychological thriller set in WWII Germany that centers on two British pilots who have been shot down in enemy territory.  They know they will be executed if captured, so with an enemy patrol in pursuit they manage to jump aboard a train reserved for Senior SS officers wounded on the Eastern Front.  In a state of panic, they throw two dead patients off the train and take their places, hoping they can escape.  But that is not to be as they end up in the Alphabet House, a mental hospital located far behind enemy lines where German doctors' experiment on their patients with shock treatments and experimental drugs.  The pilots' only hope of survival is to fake insanity until the war ends but they find out they are not the only patients using this ploy.  I just started this book last night and hated to put it down!”

Barbara M loves the demented world of David Sedaris. “In December NPR rebroadcast their yearly piece of David Sedaris reading his essay The Santaland Diaries about his experience working as an elf named Crumpet for Macy’s Department Store. It is in the Audio book Holidays on Ice and is laugh-out-loud hilarious. In one incident, he recounts how one day  ‘a woman was standing at one of the cash registers paying for her pictures while her son lies beneath her, kicking and heaving, having a tantrum. The woman said, Riley, if you don't start behaving yourself, Santa's not going to bring you any of those toys you asked for. The child said, he is too going to bring me toys, Liar. He already told me. The woman grabbed my arm, and said you there, Elf, tell Riley here that if he doesn't start behaving immediately, then Santa's going to change his mind and bring him coal for Christmas. I said that Santa changed his policy and no longer traffics in coal. Instead, if you're bad, he comes to your house and steals things. I told Riley that if he didn't behave himself, Santa was going to take away his TV and all his electrical appliances and leave him in the dark. The woman got a worried look on her face and said, all right, that's enough. I said, he's going to take your car and your furniture and all of your towels and blankets and leave you with nothing. The mother said, no, that's enough really.’ Although I had read this essay and many others hearing Sedaris read them with his deadpan delivery adds a whole other dimension. For these cold, cold days I’ve decided that funny is the way to go while driving and am now listening to When You Are Engulfed in Flames. I just worry about laughing too much to concentrate on driving. “

Sweet Ann is back to doing two things at once which I find oddly reassuring.   “The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a fun thriller.  And in the beginning, you can relate to the main character Rachel's obsession of watching people from her daily train commute.  However, you quickly realize that Rachel has a drinking problem and is completely obsessed with her ex-husband and his new wife and their baby.  There are quite a number of conflicts between Tom, Rachel's ex-husband, and Anna his new wife as Rachel cannot let go of her new lonely existence.  There are lies and deceptions throughout this novel as well as a missing woman who lives on the same street as Tom and Anna.   This is a novel that you should read with suspended belief and just jump aboard the commuter train and see where it will take you.  I am also listening to There was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me by Brooke Shields.  This audio book is read by Brooke Shields as she tells about being raised by her mother, Teri, an alcoholic. Her mother tried her best but often her drinking would get in the way of her parenting, whether it was setting bedtimes or routines, or orchestrating Brooke's career.  It was an interesting story especially because I remember The Blue Lagoon, the Calvin Klein ads and I did in fact see Brooke on Broadway when she performed in Cabaret.  I think Brooke recognized that her mother had flaws and has spent a lifetime coming to terms with her upbringing.  This was an enjoyable audio book.”

The Ever Delightful Pat S is here with something I have been dying to get my hands on.  “Black Diamonds is a must read for all the Downton fans who have just finished season five. Catherine Bailey is back with the tale of a crumbling aristocratic dynasty during the twentieth century, the Earls of Fitzwilliam. With a fortune based in the Sheffield coal industry, the sixth Earl of Fitzwilliam left the second largest inheritance to his heir upon his death in 1902, somewhere in the neighborhood of three billion dollars in today’s money. He also left what remains the largest private home in England, with 365 rooms, one for every day of the year. Yet all of this was about to change.  The new century would see the collapse of the Yorkshire coal industry, (which is meticulously detailed here) after the most horrific human rights abuses. Oddly enough, the Fitzwilliams were among the best of the land owners, always implementing the newest safety measures in the mines and making genuine strides in quality of life issues in the lives of the miners.   But for all the 'nobility' inferred in the Fitzwilliam title of Earl, the lives of the family were a labyrinth of lies, falsehoods and complicated cover-ups! Illegitimacy, alcoholism, chronic philandering, gambling-it's all here, in vivid detail! This will get even the most stalwart fan through the post season letdown!

Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC as always with some final thoughts about life. What’s good Pats? “I’ve had a Phil update from my weather paranoid friend. The latest email from the band of rogue rodents states that even they are tired of the weather they’ve inflicted on us so they’re migrating to warmer climes while they let the rest of us suffer this unending winter. Since the airlines are no longer letting them board (they’ve got a beef about that too) they’ve taken to hopping free rides on birds
Phil was the last of the rodents to be allowed to board a plane so he hopped down under to enjoy the last days of summer. He’s warming his fur and is moving on from his Valentine breakup with Eula. He said he’s impersonating one of his friends who has been helping him heal his wounded heart. He’s taking selfies with folks all over Australia under the guise of being a quokka. Apparently he’s been listening to a LOT of Chet Baker, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto and I just can’t hate on anyone, rodent or otherwise who has this music in their wheelhouse. So if we’re going to be stuck indoors let’s listen to some great jazz and hope that Phil remembers to set his clock forward.

DL Rodent Wrath 2015

You Are What You Read!

If you were in the library this week you may have been aware of a sort of restlessness. A weird sort of amped up energy, perhaps?  Did you notice lots of staff running up and down stairs, walking willingly (and still necessarily, shame on you Nissan) in the road  in the arctic freezing cold to and fro from Station to Library and back again?  You were most correct in thinking something was going down. My friend Merry M from Fairfield Public Library thought it would be fun to throw down the gauntlet and challenge us to a Fitbit Work Week Challenge.  What the what, you say?  Fitbits are personal tracking devices that measure steps. Fairfield had done an in-house challenge that I was involved with and we had such a good time with it, we thought it would be fun to have our libraries face off.  But first this week, we had an in-house challenge with 4 teams of staff members facing off against each other.  The top seven steppers from these teams will be the ones to go up against our Fairfield Friends.  The loser of the challenge has to post a sign on their Front Desk declaring that they are the losers and are either ‘ashamed’ (our wording for Fairfield) or ‘sad pandas’ (Fairfield wording for us).  Hey, in the end?  Know who’s going to win? Our pants.  That’s who’s going to win. This winter has been rough, rough,rough.  This week we have some Brits, a boy, and a new girl with a rose.

And what’s a workout without a playlist? Not much fun I can tell you that!

Let us begin!

Pat T. is going to tell us what she thinks about our most coveted title. “Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is currently one of our most popular library books and I just finished listening to this thriller on audio and I have to say my commute was much more enjoyable because of this book. The three narrators and their British accents add more intrigue to the story.  The story is told by three characters, Rachel, Megan and Anna. Rachel's life has unraveled because of her divorce, alcoholism and unemployment and as she rides the train each day from home to Euston she makes up stories about the lives of the people she sees through the passing train window. She is envious of a young couple, whom she has named Jess & Jason and despises her ex-husband Tom's new wife Anna. One day she sees Jess, (real name Megan) from the train window with someone other than her husband Jason, (real name Scott). Shortly after this encounter she finds out that Megan has disappeared and begins to involve herself in the disappearance to the annoyance of her ex-husband Tom, Megan's husband, Scott and the police. Because of her blackouts she cannot always remember what she actually witnessed, or is that because others are telling her she is unreliable? The story is a roller coaster of emotions - deceptions, lies and betrayals and makes you question do you ever actually know someone!”

Abby occupied herself with Oscar this week. “Over the weekend I finally had time to watch the movie Boyhood. Written and directed by Richard Linklater, Boyhood follows Mason as a little boy up until the time he leaves for college. The movie was filmed over 12 years with the cast reuniting every few years to film the next chapter. The film opens with young Mason and his older sister Sam living with their divorced mom played by Patricia Arquette, who won the Oscar for the role. With her ex-husband out of the picture, she moves her family so she can attend college to make a better life for them. At the next phase, we get reacquainted with the family a few years down the road as mom is attending school and the children are adjusting to their new life with their dad back in their lives, determined to be a good father. As the film continues, Linklater show us aging characters in new stages of life without introduction or fanfare. I found the transitions to the different stages of life to be astounding. Too often, we let important moments slip by where we don’t pay attention and when we turn around, things have altered in some slight but significant way. Life is made up of major events and small moments and Boyhood quietly portrays both, beautifully and seamlessly.” 

Introducing Reed!  Hello Reed!  Reed is our new Money person and we could not be happier to have her here with us.  I for one am delighted to have a fellow Deadhead on staff.  It can be a little lonely.  Here is what Reed has recently enjoyed.  Or not. Welcome Reed! “I recently finished The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly, having inherited it from my visiting mother.  I must say, I read it out of sheer desperation, but was completely drawn into the story even if it was somewhat predictable. I enjoyed her ability to create very vivid and identifiable characters.  I am already waiting on Mom to pass on The Winter Rose, which is next in the series!”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is here with the end of the road for a journey she has thoroughly enjoyed.  “Apparently, its true…all good things do have to come to an end.  And so I start my review of the final book in Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy. In the last installment of the series, The Magician’s Land, we find Quentin kicked out of his beloved Fillery and back at Brakebills, secret elite magical school, where he is working as a teacher’s assistant and trying to lead a quiet life.  But no matter how hard he tries for normalcy, Quentin inevitably ends up in a conspiracy that leads to a great magical discovery that can help save an endangered Fillery. This is an epic ending to a wonderful series.  Grossman does a masterful job of introducing new characters while interweaving favorites from previous novels and tying all of the loose ends up. Even if you are not a fan of fantasy, I think readers will enjoy the series for its intricate plot, darkly humorous tone, rich characters and vivid imagery.” 

DJ Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named.  Where it is still cold, still miserable and sadly still February.  What’s good Pats?   “The temperature is still in the single digits every morning here. I recently read an article about how our health would be better if we lowered the temperature inside our houses to 60 degrees. So while the other parents wait in the running car with their kids, I’m taking this recent research to the extreme by standing in single digit temps waiting for the bus with my son. I’ll let you know how our health fares. In honor of all those folks getting up and moving I think I’ll share a little workout playlist I created for our Miss Amy in the Children’s Library. So get up, brave the cold and cheer on all those walking librarians.”


You Are What You Read!

Happy End of Week!  I don’t think I am wishing my life away when I say that every week down is another week I am farther away from the evil being wrought by the PA Rodent (I am looking at you Phil.  Still not a fan.) and that much closer to a cooler full of contraband, a dishy beach read and toes in the sand. We had Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year to help while away the week and ease the pain.  Notice please, that both of these have some serious carbs attached to them.  You have King Cake (burning question: who got the baby this year?), although some people believe more in the Doughnut, Pancake or Paczki for Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year is all about the noodles and the dumplings. I know that for myself I have been carbo loading like a champ.  In fact, if I had to write a bio on myself, I would have to put under interests: reading really good books, eating pasta, celebrating beautifully crusty baguettes loaded with cheese or butter and sleeping through the winter.  I may want to reconsider this approach to life as beach season approaches.  Watch this space for an event that we have coming up that will be announced next Friday.  Suffice to say that a gauntlet has been thrown and we accept.  And there is a certain library up the line that is going to be very, very sorry that they poked this hornet’s nest. This week we have some young women and some young men. And don’t you worry!  We have not given up The Playlist for Lent.  I think the only thing we have put on a 40 day hold is the bare leg! Phil! This is your doing!

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann has just finished Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar.  “This engaging novel is told in diary entries and letters from the different characters commenting on their small social group as well as what is happening in the world at the time.  The main story is told in the voice of Vanessa Stephen, whose sister will become the famous author, Virginia Woolf.  It is an intriguing story about jealousy between sisters and their relationship with their brothers as well as the group of artists they spend much of their time with. As the reader, you are exposed to their advanced ideas for the time as well as examples of their well-known works. The format took me a minute to get into but then I really enjoyed it a great deal. “

Steph is here with some what sounds like some pretty heavy lifting.  I know we can count on her to tell us if it’s worth it. “I can’t stop thinking about A Little Life, by Hanya Yanigihara, which comes out next month. I really enjoyed her debut novel, the ambitious and surprising The People in the Trees, but with this even more ambitious book, she’s done something truly incredible. The best shorthand I have for this book is that it’s a cross between The Goldfinch and The Interestings, but much darker. Four young men meet at a small college, become best friends, and move to New York full of hope, to pursue careers and exciting lives. The book follows them over the next few decades as their relationships grow, wither, change, and bloom, but keeps coming back to Jude, whose past was unthinkably miserable and haunts him throughout. As the book progresses, Jude’s life is opened up to the reader and some characters, going to darker places than most fiction will go. Incredibly, though, the darkness of the book is not the point—the compassion and love that follows it is. Yanagihara has made two choices that make this book addictive—first, many of the most momentous scenes of the books take place off the page, and second, the point of view changes abruptly, often in the middle of dramatic scenes. The effect, when combined with her incredible gift for building real characters on the page, is that I lost hours of my life to this book without realizing it. I was devastated by the ending. Not a light read, but probably one of the best books you’ll read this year. “

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is in da house from The State Which Shall Not Be Named with The Playlist and some really interesting gossip that I think you all will be intrigued by.  What’s good Pats? “My paranoid weather-tracking friend has given me some news. She said there’s another email circulating from the rogue band of rodents. Apparently it details Phil’s Valentine’s Day misadventures. She said Phil has been dating a sweet little groundhog named Eula and that this was their first Valentine’s Day together. Since Eula is a vegan, Phil made reservations at the swankiest vegan restaurant he could find. It wasn’t local. There was a bit of travel involved but he promised Eula that it would be worth it. When they arrived the Maitre‘d informed them that they did not have a reservation and furthermore he couldn’t possibly seat them as they were fully booked. Phil pleaded. He tried using money, his influence, and his good name but all to no avail. The Maitre’d would not budge. They were turned away hungry and disappointed and headed back towards home. Phil stopped at the local pizza joint on the way back and presented Eula with a heart-shaped vegan pizza. She dumped him the next day via text. Since then Phil has been holed up in his burrow, heartbroken, depressed and despondent all the while muttering that he’ll show everyone a winter they’ll not soon forget.”


You Are What You Read!

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day edition of You Are What You Read!  Every year we do a little display celebrating the darker side of the holiday with a little humor. We like to call it Forever Alone.  If you can’t get into the library to see it in all its glory, the list is here.  Enjoy!  It’s been another rough week of weather.  We all know who is to blame.   Phil, we still aren’t fans and we probably never will be. We have 35 days until spring.  This doesn’t seem like a long time but when it’s this rough it can feel forever.  This all being said the good news this week is that my walk to the train at night is now light, with sunset just finishing up on my home end.  Look,  if it all gets too awful get some primroses and put them in pretty little pots around the house, make sure when the sun is out,  you are too even if it’s just for a baby bit.  Get together with friends.   Don’t shut yourself up.  Of course, it would be helpful if these friends have a place in Florida.  February can seem like the longest month but we can do this People! 35 days!  Soldier on!  This week we have Africa, betrayal, Tennessee, a forgotten island and a beloved brother.

And if music is the “food of love” how could we not have The Playlist!

Let us begin!

Barbara M is reading Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller which is getting a lot of positive staff buzz.  Here is what she thinks. “This is a powerful heartfelt memoir about the breakdown of the author’s twenty year marriage interspersed with vivid recollections of her coming of age in Zambia in a family afflicted with alcoholism and mental illness.  The title refers to a South African saying which means ‘getting out while the going is good.’ Fuller’s way out was to marry an American and eventually move to the United States. Unfortunately, it did nothing to help her escape neither her chaotic childhood nor her own demons.   This is Alexandra Fuller’s third memoir and I think her best. Her exquisite writing, her insights into her family’s dynamics and the imagery of Africa make this a wonderful, funny, and fascinating read. “

Pat T is enjoying some escapist reading this week. “The War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen is a great book to take in your ski/beach bag this week if you are going away for the February break.  Selina and Lottie Busfield never met until the unexpected death of their husband, Simon.  Needless to say, their lives are turned upside down with the news of his death and the discovery of his betrayal.  Selina's lifestyle is in jeopardy as she deals with the emotional turmoil of her three children. Lottie is overwhelmed with the realization that her life has been a lie, she has no money and a teenaged daughter who is acting out. When the worst that can happen has already happened what do you do? Their stories are told in alternating chapters with an unexpected twist towards the end!”

The Always Delightful Pat S has finished one of my favorites so far this year, The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield.  “As a reader with a soft spot for memoirs, I was very anxious to settle down with The Undertaker’s Daughter. Mayfield begins with her family’s move to Jubilee, Tennessee in the early sixties when she was five and her father has the opportunity to open his own funeral home. The family lived above the shop, and Mayfield is beguiling as she writes of her younger self exploring the world of the dead because it gives her a chance to spend time with her adored and dashing father. We are introduced to her family as she first sees them, the father handsome and charming, the mother strict and humorless, the older sister a bully and the older brother a vague presence. The small town that is Jubilee comes with a cast of characters found in every small southern town; the eccentric Miss Agnes, the black housekeeper Belle, the formality laden bridge parties her mother hosts and a list of church related activities which would bore most of us to death.  The tale meanders as she grows up and begins to see her family more clearly. Her father tortured by his time fighting in WWII is also an alcoholic and serial philanderer, her mother is desperately trying to hold the family together through thick and thin, and sister Evelyn is battling serious mental illness. The town begins to feel smaller and smaller as Mayfield grows older, struggling against the stifling confines of racism which loomed large-even in this time of desegregation.  While the story is well written it can feel strangely bland.”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is back with her latest love.  “As I said in my last review, I loved The Magicians by Lev Grossman, the first installment of the trilogy about the adventures of Quentin Coldwater and his magician friends.  This week I am reviewing the second book in the trilogy, The Magician King, and it did not disappoint.  Just as in the first book, it is full of vibrant characters, grand adventures, and incredible imagery.  To get you quickly up-to-date:  Quentin and his friends have taken up the official roles of kings and queens of the magical land of Fillory, where everything seems to be perfect and they live the lives that they always imagined.  But Quentin, a discontented type, feels something is missing and volunteers to seek out a long forgotten island on the edges of Fillory. Julia, one of the queens of Fillory joins him.  Together they discover that nothing is as it seems in Fillory and there is a lot more to lose than they had bargained for.  A big part of why I loved this book is because it dived into Julia’s backstory.  Grossman is a master storyteller.  He knows how to paint a dark and turbulent fairyland. Again, this isn’t a children’s book, if anything, it is darker and grittier than the first but in a lot of ways I enjoyed it more."

I am still sort of reeling from A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson.   This is the latest installment in the story of the Todd family from Life After Life.  Atkinson takes the life of beloved little brother Teddy through World War II and into the end of the 20th century.  Just like Life this is a genius of a work.  You fall in love with Teddy and Ursula all over again and marvel at the lives you are being shown.   At times heartbreaking and others hilarious, a lot of us feel that this may even be a better book than Life After Life.  We are hopeful that this is not the last we are going to hear about the Todd family. This one comes out in May.

Here is DJ Jazzy Patty McC from the Frozen State that Shall Not Be Named with some final thoughts on this weekend’s festivities.  Take it away Pats! “ I’d like to offer my public service announcement for this Valentine’s Day edition of You Are What You Read. Please tip your server generously. Last year I talked about my time spent in the trenches of the service industry and how much we dreaded this ‘holiday’. Seriously, all the folks who don’t appreciate their partners on a regular basis take them out on this day, buy them flowers then impersonate a master sommelier and tip their servers poorly. Don’t let this be you. Cherish those you love on a regular basis and tell them how much you love them frequently, maybe hourly if you’re the passionate type. Show your love to your loved one, just don’t stiff the staff.”


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