You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read!!!

This week, while a short one, has been full of challenges for us.   Frankly, we are tired. With this in mind we have some howling,  a political prisoner,  an unhappy Numbers Woman, some OCD, walking, more walking,  walking and lugging,  a search for truth, some dishonor, a rabbit in a pot and  a whole lot of whining,

You will also notice please that not ONE PERSON is accusing me of making them do things this week. Thank you. 

Let us begin!

Erin is reading Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman. “It has been touted as the British Bossypants and I can absolutely see why. While books tend to make me cry at the drop of a hat, it's much more difficult to get me to laugh out loud. But this morning I was howling on the subway as Caitlin describes the tragedy of her first period and her unwillingness to accept the inevitable: she will become a woman. Here's a choice line, ‘I want my entire reproductive system taken out and replaced with spare lungs, for when I start smoking. I want that option. This is pointless.’”

Ann is as usual looking for the bright spot in a bad situation.  This is just how she is.  She can’t help it.” I am reading A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama. I have always been a fan of Ms. Tsukiyama's work from The Samurai's Garden to Dreaming Water.  I was happy to see her new book and happy that I read it.  A Hundred Flowers takes place in 1957 when Chairman Mao declared a more open society for all of the Chinese people including teachers, artists, etc.  This turns out to NOT be the case and begins a family's nightmare.  Shing, a strong teacher with many political ideas promises his wife he will not get involved in this new political movement.  Much to his wife's surprise and shock he is arrested and becomes a political prisoner.  His young son, Tao, looks for his father and is injured doing so, his wife Kai Ying is devastated, but it is Shing's father, a renowned professor, who will face the biggest challenge of his life.  This is a story of great love, compassion and forgiveness.”

Alison our Numbers Woman is unhappy.  Believe me when I tell you this is to be avoided at all costs. This is especially true on the 15th and the 30th of the month.   ” I am almost done reading James Patterson's Zoo and I am NOT liking it. It does not ring of Patterson at all (of course it was co-written, although I can't believe he did anything). From page 4 you knew what the problem was and what would happen. All you have to wait for is the solution. Why do I keep reading you ask?  I have too many pages invested to stop now.”

Gretchen is exploring her dark side. “I am on a dark and scary reading kick it seems.   I am taking home the Neil Cross's Luther; The Calling galley, because I LOVE that show and want to see how the writer handles this medium.  And while I just devoured Into the  Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, I found I  couldn't read it at night it was just too scary. It was a domestic abuse, OCD horror story.   And then for something completely different, I discovered Magda Gerber's Caring for Infants with Respect parenting book.  I have skipped the infant and jumping right into the toddler years. “   Happily her dark side does not seem to be colliding with her maternal side.  This is good news indeed!

Tiny Tina the Basement Dweller is on the move!  Go Tina!  “I just finished reading Wild and loved it.  Trekking the Pacific Crest Trail seems like a breeze after this week.  I just started reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  Why am I reading all these books about walking?” 

Pat T.  is also walking! “ I am meandering along with Harold from the book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce! Harold is a complacent retired gentleman set in his ways, but all this changes one day when he receives a letter from a long lost friend. Queenie is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye to Harold. Harold decides to do something extraordinary! He sets out to walk 660 miles to visit Queenie. On this journey Harold reflects on his life, his relationship with his wife Maureen and son David and is surprised by the kindness of strangers who give him shelter and help care for his blistered feet and aching body.  One of our library friends who hails from England, Alan Haughton, recommended this charming book to me!”

Stephanie is walking also but she is lugging a tome.  “This week I immersed myself in Far From the Tree:  Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon. It is a door-stopper of a book, but every page was worth lugging it around on my commute. Solomon examines the idea of horizontal identities, which children develop independently in relation to their parents, such as autism, deafness, being a musical prodigy, or severe disability (as opposed to vertical identities, which are inherited from parents, such as skin color or ethnicity). He spent ten years interviewing hundreds of families, and their stories are the backbone of this fascinating examination not only of communities the average person knows little about, but also of the relationships between parents and children. At its heart the book is interested in questions all of us wonder about: how do you become who you are? How should we treat people who are different than we are? How much do parents have to do with who their children become? The book spends a lot of time in dark places, including the treatment of minors in prison as well as with the children who are the products of a rape, but Solomon is a writer of great skill and compassion and is able to be respectful, rather than exploitative, of these situations. As with his National Book Award-winning The Noonday Demon, Solomon is able to insert his personal experiences in a way that enhances the book, rather than distracting. It is a stellar book that I just can't stop thinking about. I think it's one of the finest works of non-fiction of 2012.”

Abby is unwilling to let her time Down East go. “I love Maine, and love mysteries.  So, it makes sense Paul Doiron’s series featuring Mike Bowditch appeals to me.  Bad Little Falls is the third in the series and is an enjoyable read.  Having once again managed to upset the decision-makers in his search for truth, young Maine game warden Mike Bowditch has been sent into exile on the Canadian border.  The Down East locals who enjoy illegal activities do not take kindly to his presence and set about making him feel unwelcome.  On the eve of a blizzard their antics make the discovery of a murder and some poorly thought- through personal entanglements even more complex.  At several points I found myself saying out loud “Don’t do it, Mike!”  A good cast of returning characters and the State Of Maine itself make for entertaining reads.  And yes, do read in sequence.  (I know I always say that. And I always mean it.) The first two are The Poacher's Son, and Trespasser.”

Jeannie is reading The Absolutist by John Boyne. “The story is about Tristan Sadler, a twenty year-old Londoner who has survived three gruesome years in the Great War. He lied about his age in order to enlist. It is now 1919 and he is taking the train to Norwich to deliver a packet of letters to the sister of someone he trained with and fought alongside. This "someone" who Tristan cared a great deal for was Will Bancroft, who had laid down his guns and declared himself a conscientious objector, bringing dishonor to the Bancroft family and confusion to Tristan. The letters are not the only reason for the visit. Tristan harbors a dark secret; one that he is desperate to unburden himself of if he can muster the courage. I was skeptical at first as the story starts slowly, but I was intrigued by the title! This is a war where men are being blown up and dying, but the explosion in the book comes when Boyne develops an unexpected twist in the story that knocked the wind out of me. The imagery on the battlefield and language between the characters evoke a picture of the sad, tragic fact of man's inhumanity to man that goes way beyond the war itself.”

John,aka the Warlock of Minecraft has some company on this week’s commute, but it seems to be a bit unsettling. “This week, I'm listening to the rabbit-in-a-pot-boiler, Gone Girl.  It's hard to talk about this book without letting any spoilers slip.  Leaving out any details, it starts as a classic wife-gone-missing-so-obviously-the-husband-killed-her story, then goes off on a much creepier, more alarming and suspenseful jag.  Gillian Flynn has an amazing understanding of the nature and dynamics of relationships and applies it in this novel to create a heady psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages (or in my case, listening) well into the wee hours of the morning. “

I am reading George How Colt’s book Brothers:  George Howe Colt on His Brothers And Brothers in History.  For those of you who read and loved The Big House as I did already know that he was not a big fan of his time during his childhood that he lived here.  Well frankly, he is a big grown man and he needs to get over it and move on.   The whining is driving me crazy.  So this being said, I am, nevertheless, really enjoying the historical brother parts.  His research is fascinating.  Just follow my advice, when he starts in moaning, move on to the History bits.  You’ll be glad you did. This one comes out in November.



You Are What You Read!!!

This week we have some quiet and some secrets, Paris (whew!  I was getting worried!), and Canada, a depressed town, an amnesiac and a cast of thousands.

Let us begin!

Barbara M., who is no one’s idea of a shrinking violet, is here this week with a Non-Fiction pick and a Fiction pick! “I’m rereading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain in preparation for the discussion Ann and I are leading on September 18th. It’s a validation of introversion and an explanation of how introverts function in schools, the workplace and in relationships. It’s an interesting book whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert or an ambivert. I’m also listening to The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale. I love books that have parallel stories and this one goes back and forth between Daniel Kennedy, who with his partner Nancy survives a plane crash in the Galápagos Islands, and Daniel’s great-grandfather Andrew in the midst of World War I. The story alludes to many secrets which I’m sure will be unraveled before the end. I can’t wait to see how Gustav Mahler fits into the story.”

Jeanne, who it must be noted just finished getting her MLS (way to go Jeanne!) now has time again to read for pleasure! “It sometimes happens that when a person sets out to use another person for their own pleasure or gain, it is difficult to tell who is using who. This seems the case in The Bay of Foxes by Sheila Kohler. The setting is 1978 Paris. A very wealthy and glamorous, but aging author, known only as “M.” takes note of the extraordinarily beautiful youth sitting across from her in a cafe. Dawit, a once privileged Ethiopian, is a refugee of the tragic Ethiopian-Somali war and has been watching and studying her  too. He has read her books. M. is a popular, well-known celebrity and accustomed to getting what she wants. She invites him to her table and makes a proposition to be her personal secretary. He is not in a position to refuse as he is destitute and hungry. He soon discovers that M. wants much more than just secretarial services from him. Is it too much? Kohler tells of the tragic past, turbulent present and uncertain future of both characters with sensual imagery.  I listened to the audiobook Canada by Richard Ford with Holter Graham as the narrator. I had never read a novel by Ford and at first I thought it seemed anticlimactic as the very start of the story promises bank robbers and multiple murders. Where can you go from there? Where's the suspense? Where's the mystery? But, as it turns out, Ford is a good storyteller. Dell Parsons and his twin sister, Berner, are only fifteen when these events occur and their parents and family friends are involved. Dell and Berner are now sixty-five years old and the story is told from Dell's point of view - what he thought, how he survived, why he is now a Canadian citizen when he was born in Great Falls, Montana. It's difficult to actually like or root for Ford's characters, but it is an interesting study of the difficulties of managing a family in 1960 when the Southern father has just left the Air Force, the mother is Jewish  and the kids are just plain confused and ungrounded.”

Abby is doing some advance reading! “Elsewhere by Richard Russo is a wonderful memoir by one of the most talented authors writing today. Over the years, Russo has used fiction to re-visit his youth and has on occasion, been criticized for returning to that well one too many times.  Elsewhere explains why.  Russo's dad left the family early on, leaving his mom to raise him in the depressed town of Gloversville, NY. If you have read just about anything by him, you know depressed towns are a main character in his books. While surrounded by extended family, he was given the burden of caring for his emotionally fragile mother Jean.  Keeping a tight grip on young Richard, Jean even follows him across country when he leaves for college. By examining his relationship with his mother, Russo begins to process both the past and the present, including his intense and painful feelings towards Gloversville. This very moving and insightful book is out in October. “

Stephanie visited an old friend this week.  “I read A Sunless Sea by Anne Perry this week. I just can't resist her name on the cover of a book! This is the latest in her series featuring William Monk, amnesiac river policeman of the mid-nineteenth century, and his daring wife Hester. In the first chapter, on his regular patrol, Monk finds a woman brutally murdered, and before long, he finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy stretching back to the Opium Wars. Their friend Rathbone agrees to defend the woman falsely accused of the murder, so the book is split in equal parts between Monk's investigating and Rathbone's courtroom drama, both sides digging into the dirty secrets of Britain's richest families. It wasn't quite as enthralling as I usually find her books, but still very good and a solid entry in the Perry oeuvre.”

I am loving Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe.  Wolfe is going to do to Miami what he did to New York in ’87 so look out!  It has the usual Wolfe cast of thousands, including a Cuban Cop, a black police chief, the Yalie newspaperman, the Anglo sex therapist and his Latina nurse/lover,  and the billionaire sex addict just to name a few.  This being Wolfe you know that their worlds will all eventually collide and you can’t help but sit back and enjoy the show.  This one comes out in October.


You Are What You Read!!!

This week we have multiple generations, a book club of two, a disclaimer, some Berlin, some London, a loser, another week with a geezer, and eight chicks who click.  Pictures that is!

Let us begin!

John is reading one of my favorites  of the year. “I just started The Undertow by Jo Baker and I was pulled into it right away.  It's a novel that follows the lives of one British family from the death of a father and husband during World War I through present day.  I'm always fascinated by stories that span multiple generations because they show us how forgotten events percolate down through time and shape our lives.  Baker crafts her prose carefully as she moves between different perspectives--a novel like this is a challenge because of the span of time it covers, but she is able to maintain a narrative that is easy to follow from the moment it captures your attention on the shores of Gallipoli.”

Barbara M. is reading a book I am totally passionate about.  “Taking Jen’s advice I started reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. As his mother undergoes treatment for pancreatic cancer Schwalbe discusses books with her. They’ve always exchanged and discussed books but this time they form a book club of two allowing them to talk about the difficult issues facing them. Schwalbe’s mother is an incredible person and their relationship is enviable. So far the only down side to this book is that it is adding to my absurdly long list of books I would like to read. “

And here is another vote from Stephanie! “Here is another RA vote for The End Of Your Life Book Club, after Jen forced me to read it!  This is the story of a woman and her son's impromptu book club, which developed as he sat with her during an early chemo treatment for pancreatic cancer. Mary Anne Schwalbe is a true inspiration and this book is a must-read for all book lovers (after it comes out in October). I am now starting on Crossing To Safety as a result of this book, since it's one of the first they discussed together. The one downside to this book is that it's dangerous to one's to-be-read list.”

Disclaimer: I just want to interject here that they are making me out to be more bossy and bullying than I really am.  I prefer the terms passionate and insistent.  Thank you.  Oh and this wonderful, wonderful book will be coming out in October.  And yes, I INSIST that you read it.

Pat S. is doing a little obsessive research this week by reading A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous.  “Following up on City of Women, this is a remarkable first person account of the fall of Berlin as told in an eight week diary written by a thirty year old single woman. It is a fascinatingly clear-eyed view of both the victors and the vanquished. By the end of the war Berlin had become a city populated by women and old men-completely vulnerable. The author describes the noise and fear and dislocation of bombs and bullets, mass rape by a never-ending parade of Russian soldiers. She writes of repeated daily humiliations by the victors. Yet above all these horrors, the author writes of the privation of food, water and electricity which defined their world and actually motivated them through each day as they sought food and water and wood-as they fought to survive. It is this blind drive to survive and to re-establish some manner of order that comes across to the reader as being primordial. This is an engrossing portrait of the human spirit.”

Pat T. is taking some friendly advice and no, it was not from me! ” Based on co-workers recommendations, I have just begun reading What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill and so far I must say I like it! Ali Sparrow has just taken on the job of nanny for the wealthy London Skinner Family. Her job description is to care for the four children-18 year old Jake, 15 year old Izzy and five year old twins, as well as to organize the Skinner's domestic life. The Skinner's privileged lifestyle is a whole new experience for Ali and she is a keen observer of the family dynamics, which will change dramatically over the course of her employment with the family.  “

Abby’s perseverance pays off!  ‘I've read all the novels by Jonathan Tropper and like most authors; some efforts produce a better outcome than others.  His latest, One Last Thing Before I Go, had me concerned for a solid 1/3 of the book that this was not going to be a read I enjoyed, but sure enough he pulled though. The main character is Drew Silver, always referred to by the Cher-like moniker "Silver." Having been the member of a one hit wonder band in the 80's and following his divorce, Silver is leading an empty life at a dreary efficiency motel occupied by other divorced men struggling to find their way. When Silver learns he may die at at any moment, he declines potentially lifesaving surgery.  A series of mini-strokes destroy his filter and he begins to express whatever thoughts pop into his head. At the same time, his daughter whom he has failed throughout her life seeks him out.  Silver is a bit of a loser, but Tropper's does a great job writing the unfiltered and frequently beautiful thoughts that pour from his unfiltered mouth. Redemption, humor, and some lovely prose made this a book worth finishing.”

Jeannie is still in Geezerville! “I am reading yet another book with a retired gentleman at its center. And Harold Fry is nothing if not gentlemanly, maybe too much so. But he is an Englishman and Englishmen are often too proper and correct for their own and others' good. In the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, Harold is walking and walking and walking toward a woman that he once worked with who now has cancer. But what about his wife at home? This is a brilliant, funny, tragic, warm tale of a journey where postcards are more precious than love letters. I want to start from the first page again!”

I am in the middle of Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto.  In eight different vignettes Whitney looks at the lives of eight different female photographers throughout the twentieth century.  While this is a work of fiction the questions that are raised are very real.  They deal with politics, motherhood, relationships and the idea of joyful work.  Can women ever truly merge all that with art?  And how is it that we are still looking at these issues one hundred years later?  I loved her first novel How to Make an American Quilt and I am equally in love with this one. It comes out in November.


You Are What You Read!!!

We have some Europe and some wilderness, some Wales, some Pakistan, two troubled teens, some geezers, a young man, paranoia and mistrust and the rolling hills of Ireland!

Let us begin!

Gretchen, one of those who were amongst the vacationing this week weighs in with two very different reads;  Jack 1939 and Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. “I read and loved Jack 1939 by Francine Matthews.  It is a fictional account of young JFK in Europe during WWII spying for FDR. The author is a former CIA agent who did a lot of research!  Wild by Cheryl Strayed is a book I almost couldn't read because it hit so close to home, but her journey to find peace through loss in the wilderness struck a chord with me while reading it under a canopy of trees in the woods myself. She went into the hike a lost soul in Southern California, grossly unprepared, but came out strong and more centered at the Washington border. A gutsy woman and a great read. . I can't imagine Strayed didn't go into the long trek with a book in mind, but it was a terrific read nevertheless.”

Also amongst the vacationing was Abby who weighs in with this: “With one of the most intriguing/creepy covers I've seen on a book, it's been my goal to read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs since it was released.  I am very happy it got to the top of my pile.  Jacob is a 16 year boy very close to his grandfather, Abe.  Their special bond is not shared by Jacob's family who knew Abe to be more aloof and yes, maybe a little crazy. I am currently at the point where Jacob is heading to a remote island off the coast of Wales to learn more about his grandfather's past and help heal his own wounds.  Were Abe's ramblings those of an old man who has lived through too much, or the result of an extraordinary existence? This book is punctuated by fascinating (ie: creepy) vintage photography and visuals.  It is listed as YA, but don't let that stop you.  Ok, I'm going back to read now.”

Barbara M. (not a vacationeer)  is reading The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West by Imran Ahmad. It's the memoir of a Pakistani boy who at the age of one immigrated with his family to England. So far the book is entertaining and somewhat droll but not living up to the rave reviews and hype it’s received. I’m only about a quarter of the way through the book though, so, I’m hoping it gets better as it continues.  What I’m finding the most interesting are his insights into the similarities of the three major religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam."

Caroline who whilst a vactioneer was more of a staycationeer says she enjoyed What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill last week. “It’s an addictive page turner that revolves around a wealthy British family and their nanny, Ali, who is taking a year off from university.  She soon becomes immersed in  the lives of the children (7-year-old twins and two troubled teenagers), and when financial scandal breaks she finds herself right in the middle of it.  If you loved The Darlings by Cristina Alger, here's a similar but slightly beachier read for the summer!”

Jeanne has noticed a trend!  “Has anyone else noticed how many geezer love stories there have been in the past couple of years? Everyone turn up their hearing aids! There was divorcé Liam Pennywell in Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler, widower Major Ernest Pettigrew in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson, Percy Darling in The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass, and now widower Edward Schuyler in An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer. I just finished this last one. There are others and I loved them all! Each novel tells of a retired widower or divorcé who finds himself in an unfamiliar station in life. Sometimes his family treats him differently; sometimes his friends try to play matchmaker, and in most cases he is navigating a new set of social mores. Edward misses his wife deeply, but the story turns to amusing and a little chaotic when his stepchildren take out a personal ad for him. He is available man!”

Stephanie is  turning to an old friend . “This week I have been rereading Martin Amis. I love him!, Lionel Asbo: State of England is coming out in a few weeks, which I thought was fantastic!

Pat S. has just finished City of Women by David R. Gillham.  “Taking place in Berlin toward the end of the war, Gillham creates an atmosphere tense with the paranoia and mistrust that characterized even the most quotidian exchanges between neighbors. The heroine Sigrid is an ordinary German housewife living with her mother-in-law while her husband defends the Fatherland at the front. The story follows Sigrid as she meets and befriends a young woman working for the underground; as she pines over memories of her Jewish lover; as she becomes lovers with a wounded German SS officer- as she slowly begins to actively make choices. This is a riveting story about the ordinary and the extraordinary,-and re-defining ones' own moral compass in a world that no longer operates according to established rules.This is an excellent read. ”

Pat T. is wishing she had some sand between her toes! “I am enjoying Tana French's latest detective mystery book Broken Harbor and I would like to be sitting on a beach so I could read it straight through to the end. Seasoned Detective Kennedy and rookie Detective Curran are assigned a murder investigation in Brainstown - one of the many new development communities that have cropped up all over the rolling hills of Ireland. Detective Kennedy has a personal stake in this case since this community, once called Broken Harbor,  was a town that has mixed family memories for him. While dealing with the pressures of this case he is also caught up with his sister Dina's breakdown. When I finish Broken Harbor I am going into the stacks to look for Tana French's other books In the Woods, Faithful Place and The Likeness.”

You Are What You Read!!!

While we are few this week due to lots and lots of vacationing staff (it is August after all!) what we do offer this week is rather interesting in its variety. This week we have some alt history, a social outcast, France (it is back!), London and Cambodia.

Let us begin!

Stephanie was happily prepared for the commuting strife earlier this week . “This week the best thing I read was definitely The Impeachment  Of Abraham Lincoln, by Stephen L. Carter. I was stuck on a train for a few hours on Monday but I barely noticed it thanks to this absorbing work of alternative history. Carter begins from a seductively simple question—what if President Lincoln had survived his assassination attempt in 1865? The answer: the various factions who detested him would have put him on trial for multiple offenses, including the charge that he attempted to permanently take over the government with the help of the military. Told from the perspectives of the people defending the President in front of the Senate, with the bulk of the book devoted to Abigail, a young black woman who dreams of being a lawyer, it’s perfect for people who still miss watching The West Wing. It’s equal parts historical fiction and legal thriller with a dash of old-fashioned procedural (and even a little spy action), and a total page-turner. “  Let this week’s commuting woes be a valuable lesson!  NEVER be without a book!

The Amazing Amanda is reading The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller.  “Meet Haven. She’s seventeen and lives with her controlling religious grandmother in a small town in Tennessee. She’s a social outcast because she has visions of her past lives. After being publically declared as being possessed by the Devil, Haven decides to run away to New York City. There she hopes to meet Ethan, her soul-mate from her past life visions. However, meeting Ethan in this new life as Iain does not necessarily mean happy ever after for this southern girl.  Miller’s book is a page turner that breathes life into the mannerism and culture of small town America. Haven is just eccentric enough to keep her likable. However, the current YA trend of possessive and controlling teenage boys is overwrought no matter how destined the lovers are for each other.

Jeanne has just finished the Age of Desire by Jennie Fields. “I thought it started a bit slow, much like Wharton's own Custom of the Country which I read a few years ago and which she was writing during the time frame of the Age of Desire. But the tempo picks up in both and merits page turning as Ms. Fields leads us from France to the United States and back several times in a whirlwind of society guests, salons and assignations. A number of very private letters between Edith Wharton and Morton Fullerton became available for public viewing and from these; Ms. Fields enraptures us in a tale of wanton sexual awakening, jealousies and (misguided) loyalties. I was torn between good for them! And how dare they! You'll never read House of Mirth quite the same way!”

Ann is in an Olympic state of mind with Gold by Chris Cleave. “This is quite an appropriate book for this final week of the London Summer Olympics of 2012.  Chris Cleave has his main characters competing for the open spot on the British women's speed cycling team.  Zoe and Kate have been friends and fierce competitors for many years.  Kate is married to Jack an Olympian speed cyclist and the mother of Sophie.  Sophie is quite ill and Kate has made enormous sacrifices to be by her daughter's side. Zoe, although with her own problems to deal with, can focus more on her training.  These women will become even more involved with each other as the Olympic Games approach. I loved Little Bee by Chris Cleave which is a remarkable book if you haven't read it.   Gold is not up to the level of Little Bee, but I must say I liked it better than I thought I would. It's an enjoyable summer read.”

I am really enjoying In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner.  Seven year old Raami is a princess who lives behind tall walls that shelter her and her extended family.  Her world is safe and secure until a fateful day when the Khmer Rouge literally knock on the garden gate and order the family to leave immediately.  Thus begins a period of horrific suffering and loss.  This being said it is Ratner’s amazing voice that makes this novel sing and soar despite the subject matter.  The author actually lived this reality and was 5 when the genocide began.

You Are What You Read!!!

This week we have some Nazis, a stalker, zombies courtesy of The Citizen, love and loss, a geneticist and a vampire, mental illness, and a giant.  And notice please, week 2 of no Paris.  Must be the heat.

As for the Harold Fry controversy of last week, more readers are weighing in on the love side of the equation.  In fact Kelly the Fabulous Hairdresser, who some of you may remember from years past, weighs in with this:  “I cannot read more than a chapter at a time because I cannot bear to have it end.  I love love love this book!”  Sorry Marianne.  You are just going to have to try it again!

Let us begin!

Barbara M. is back with one of her obsessions. “I'm reading HHhH by Laurent Binet a historic fiction book which won Binet the Goncourt Prize for a debut novel in 2010. The subject is World War II, more specifically the assassination of the Nazi Reinhard Heydrich, known as ‘The Butcher of Prague.’ The quirky thing about this book is that the narrator interrupts the story from time to time to tell you about his own life and which facts are true and which are imagined by him. I'm not finding these interruptions at all bothersome. Rather, I think it adds to the tension of the story. “

Pat T. is waist deep in summer fun!  “I am reading The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty and I am finding it to be a good beach read. It's a love story with a bit of intrigue.  The young couple, Ellen and Patrick, is being stalked by Patrick's ex-girlfriend Saskia. You gain insight into a stalker's mind set, as well as the lengths they will go to pursue their victim.”  

Citizen Asha provides no surprises this week. “I just finished ParaNorman by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Norman Babcock is not like the other children, in fact, he is reminded daily by his classmates, older sister, father, everyone really about how different he is. Norman can see and speak to ghosts, this does not help with his popularity but there are perks, as he is able to speak to his late grandmother. One day he is approached by his great uncle Prenderghast who informs him that he needs to use his ability to keep the Blithe Hollow Witch asleep. Seems simple, until he realizes that something has gone awry and the earth has started to shift beneath him. Enter…zombies! My favorite! I enjoyed following Norman and his cohorts battling the undead while trying to save the town from the Witch’s curse. This book was wonderful and I look forward to watching the movie in August.”

Ann has just finished a book that we are evangelists for, Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.  “This is a beautifully written book about love and loss.  June loves her Uncle Finn who is dying of AIDS in the 1980's when people did not know much about the disease or were open to different lifestyles.  Her mother, Finn's sister, refuses to let her family be around her brother's lover who she blames for giving her brother AIDS.  Uncle Finn and June have a terrific relationship and June is devastated when he dies.  She then meets his partner, Toby, and they form a special relationship to fill Finn's void in their lives.  This book also explores sibling rivalry and family dynamics.  Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a wonderful read. “

Children’s Librarians Elisabeth and Kiera are stepping out of the world of Kid Lit this week with their mutual obsession, the sequel to the thrilling adult fantasy A Discovery of Witches.  Elisabeth says, “Deborah Harkness’ Shadow of Night is amazing! Leaving behind the modern-day setting of the first novel,  Diana (a historian and witch) travels back in time to 1590 with her  husband Matthew (a geneticist and vampire) to find someone to teach Diana how to control her magic. While immersed in the life of a 16th courtier in Queen Elizabeth’s court, they dabble in espionage, politics, and science; risk their lives in England, France, and Prague; and find friendship and enemies among the most noted scholars of the time: William Shakespear, Christopher Marlow, and Sir Walter Raleigh. The author is a history professor at USC and a Fulbright Scholar, and the historical details are so meticulously researched you feel as if you were living in the Elizabethan Age. A perfect read for anyone who loves history, fantasy, romance, danger, and adventure!”

Stephanie is heading over to Asha’s side of the street.  It is dark there.  Very, very dark. “At Asha’s recommendation I read The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips. Phew, it’s a fantastic book, but a dark and sad one. This is the story of a dysfunctional family living in rural Georgia just after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, where racial tensions are rising. Tangy Mae Quinn is fighting to keep her sanity intact and her sisters safe in the face of her mother’s mental illness, and to imagine a future outside her small town. It’s so well-written that I can’t believe it’s a debut, but be prepared for the intensity of the story. I’m going to start a Janet Evanovich book next to give my brain a little rest!”.

I am really enjoying Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach.  The Hochmeyers of Westport seem to have it all.  There is the beautiful tennis whiz daughter who goes to Yale, a tall handsome son who is Princeton bound, country club memberships and a lovely home across a pond from a famous rock star and his equally famous ballet dancer wife.  But when the parent are mysteriously murdered after the revelation the father’s shady business dealings, things go awry.  Told from perspective of the son, this book is full of intrigue, revenge, family relationships, and more than a little temptation.

You Are What You Read!!!

This week we have pool-side sci-fi, secret friends, some advice, more advice and heartache,global warming, Vietnam, a decoy, prison, clinical depression and a pilgrimage. But!  Surprise!  There is no Paris.

Let us begin!

John aka The Warlock of Minecraft is working on the following:  “I'm shamelessly reading Amped by Daniel H. Wilson.  From the twisted mind that brought us Robopocalypse,  comes this summer’s sci-fi pool-side read.  Taking place in the not-so-distant future, Amped describes a world where medical brain implants are used to treat conditions like Down syndrome, Fetal alcohol syndrome, brain damage, epilepsy, and even ADD.  The implants dramatically improve the brain function and increase the intelligence of the patients they are surgically "installed" in and quickly become an elective surgery for people of average intelligence.  When the Supreme Court rules that altered humans or "Amps" may not be offered equal protection under the constitution, they are persecuted and herded into ghettos where they become organized and plot to secure their future and ready themselves for a coming war."

Pat T. is finding it hard to move forward after finishing one of my favorites of the summer.  This is a feeling I can empathize with!  “I have just finished reading a highly recommended book Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Fourteen year old June Elbus is a favored niece of her Uncle Finn, a famous painter dying of aids in the mid 80's. After her Uncle's death, June develops a secretive friendship with Toby, Finn's partner of 10 years, while dealing with the fragile bonds of sisterhood as she and her sister Greta act out their sibling rivalry. This coming of age story will spoil you for your next read!”

Erin is sticking with her recent obsession and some may say stalking tendency over a certain author.  "I just finished Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, a collection of advice columns she published under the pseudonym Sugar on The Rumpus, an online literary journal. If you enjoyed Strayed’s voice in Wild and decided you would be best friends with her after finishing that memoir, you’ll enjoy this collection of question and answer letters. Strayed is not your typical advice columnist. Her responses become her own life narrative and reading this after enjoying Wild is recommended because you’ll already have a good background on her past."

Ann is reading Gone by Cathi Hanauer.  “This was a good book with an interesting premise.  Eve and Eric are married with two children, a teen daughter and a younger son.  Eric is an artist who is experiencing a mental block and has been unable to produce his sculptures.  This is adding a financial burden to his wife, Eve, who has written a diet/advice book and has taken on private clients to coach to a healthy life style.  One night, Eric drives the babysitter home and does not come back.  Eve assumes he is off having an affair with the sitter.  Eric ends up going to visit his mom and learns some truths about her life and his upbringing.  Eric does try to call Eve to tell her what is actually happening but she refuses to take his calls. He does text his daughter to let her know he loves his family.  It is an interesting story, but as a wife I would have answered the phone when he called.  It would have saved a lot of heartache.”

Barbara M. is back from vacation!  Welcome back Barbara!  Here is what she is working on.  "I'm reading an advance copy of Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver and although it is clear that she has a message and an agenda (to make the world aware of global warming) her writing is absolutely lyrical, her descriptions vivid, and her characters so real that you care about them and want to know how it ends."

Marianne has a rather nifty suggestion this week.  “This is the second year that my book group at the Library has spent the three months of summer reading books and then watching the movies that were made from them.  Recently we did "The Quiet American" by Graham Greene.  This is the story of turbulent 1950's Vietnam when the French were engaged in fighting the Communists. The author also details the undercover actions the United States was taking in those days. Both the book and movie were controversial when they were released because of the anti-American stance that many thought the author took.  The main character and narrator of the story is Fowler, a middle-aged English journalist, who is covering the war in Vietnam, and is involved with a young Vietnamese beauty Phuong. Everything gets complicated when Pyle, a naïve American enters the picture and sets out to take Phuong and to pursue naive American political interests.  One member of our group said she's always looking for something meaty and this book was certainly that.  Read it or watch the movie.  You won't be disappointed.”

The Delightful Tech Goddess Amanda is letting her ears do the reading as she works on The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal.  Nalia is a shy princess, more content with reading and exploring her father’s castle than making grand appearances. In every way she has been raised up to be a fine leader of her country one day as the sole heir. However, that all changes when her parents reveal that she is actually a decoy for the real princess. The real Nalia with a cursed prophecy on her head and was hidden away till after her 16th birthday. Now, the false princess is Sinda and she is sent to her only relative and her princess education is useless to her now. However, magic is afoot and the plot thickens as Sinda returns to the capitol. The voice actress for this audiobook speaks with a reserved and proper voice for Nalia/Sinda and easily brings other characters to life as she manipulates her voice.

Jeanne is reading onward! “The saga developed in the Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game continues under the masterful literary pen of Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Just as gripping as the first and less surreal than the second, The Prisoner of Heaven is engrossing with the suspense, intrigue and danger that envelop these characters in the murky underworld of Barcelona. The prison scenes are especially chilling. The book is as much a page-turner as Shadow of the Wind with many of the same characters you rooted for and the ones you wished unspeakable curses on.”

Stephanie is in the middle of The Noonday  Demon: An Atlas of  Depression by Andrew Solomon.  “Because I am excited about his new book coming out this fall, and am taking it as an excuse to finally read this one, which has been recommended to me several times. So far I am just floored by how fantastic it is. The book, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2001 and was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize that year, is a personal and an academic journey into the world of clinical depression, in its many guises and on its many levels. Solomon examines not only what it is like to feel depressed and how depression is experienced by family and friends, but also the history, treatment, science, and politics of depression--and does it with a breathtaking amount of grace and intelligence. The material of the book is, well, depressing, and often fairly dense, but Solomon is a true craftsman, making the book almost joyful to read. Whether or not your life or the life of a loved one has been touched by depression, this is a book well worth reading, simply to marvel at the task Solomon has set out for himself, and how well he has achieved it.

I started The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce because of all the controversy surrounding it down in RA.  Marianne hates it like a Brussels sprout.  Others are cheerleading it like crazy so I just have to see for myself!  So far I am rather charmed by Harold and his pilgrimage of 500 miles across England to the bed side of a dying friend.  Marianne just may be wrong (this is a rare thing) as this was long listed for the Booker this week. 


You Are What You Read!!!

This week we have Law & Order, competition, a dark secret, a test  which you hope you don’t pass, the English countryside, St. Petersburg, France , South Africa (we are all over the map this week! ) and a play date!

Let us begin!

Erin is excited! “This week I’m reading Night Watch by Linda Fairstein. How great is it to read a thriller about a tough Manhattan prosecutor who flees bad guys on motorcycles while wearing heels? Fairstein is the former head of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office so she knows what she’s talking about. Turn off those Law & Order re-runs and read this instead. AND! She’ll be here July 23rd at 7!”

Caroline is currently racing through Gold by Chris Cleave. "For those of you who liked Little Bee and Incendiary, you’ll find the same great writing with a very different story – about two female Olympic cyclists. These women, now in their 30’s, met when they were teenagers and have been training and competing ever since. They are always #1 or #2, and so are balancing friendship, family and incredible close competition. Perfectly timed to get you excited for the summer Olympics, and you won’t be able to put this one down."

Miss Keira is reading Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennpacker . "Stella and Angel, two young girls staying with Stella’s Great-Aunt Louise in Cape Cod for the summer, have a dark secret buried deep in the garden. The girls are like oil and water- they just can’t seem to see eye-to-eye and they spend most of their days avoiding one another. But as the pressure builds, the tiny lies get larger, and the two girls find themselves being drawn closer together in order to keep their shared secret. This is a surprising story, with a dark humor rarely seen in children’s literature. It’s also oddly charming. You’ll root for these characters and want to take them home with you. This is a great summer read for ages 9 and up."

Miss Sam has just finished The Psychopath Test:  A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson. " It is a fabulous non-fiction read, a perfect length and so interesting that it is seriously difficult to put down. Mr. Robson is a journalist exploring the world of the psychopath. Because the psychopath is such a tricky, deceiving and extremely dangerous person, Mr. Ronson questions how psychiatrist can make an accurate diagnose of a true psychopath before a grisly crime is committed. He visits prisons and hospitals for the mentally ill. He interviews a death-squad leader who was imprisoned for mortgage fraud, not murder! Go figure. Who are these people? After Mr. Ronson discovers a relatively new check list psychiatrist use for diagnosis, he finds himself diagnosing all types of people and personalities. Relatively ordinary people are defined by their most insane attributes. Is this also madness?"

Jeannie is, of course, working on two titles at once."I finally finished Mark Haddon's, The Red House. Haddon, a master at dysfunctional relationships in families is clever and all too caustic in his portrayal of people trying to cohabitate for a week in the English countryside and manages to bring out the unexpected in each other. A middle-aged brother and sister have recently lost their last parent. Richard is a successful, though troubled doctor (remarried to a beautiful wife, unpredictable teenage stepdaughter); Angela is the dowdy sister with her family (unfaithful husband, two teenagers, one struggling with identity, and a younger son). The story is a bit choppy and there are places where you think you have skipped a page but, in the end it is entertaining and has some interesting, if unsettling twists. I also read The Mirrored World by Debra Dean. Remember Madonnas of Leningrad? Well Dean once again engages us with her evocative language as she follows the lives of two young women - Dasha who is practical and staunchly loyal; Xenia who is dreamy and slightly mad. The two are of lower nobility in eighteenth century St. Petersburg. Dean draws you into the strange, sometimes cruel demands and social conventions of the royal court of the Empress Catherine. Arranged marriages, superstitions and masquerades are all painted with romantic prose, set against the bleak Russian climate. There is not a lot of solid action with Dean, but she gives the reader much to think about as she often fleshes out the spirituality of her characters intentions and actions."

Ann is not exactly enthused with The Queen's Lover: A Novel by Francine du Plessix Gray. " This is the fictional account of the long lasting affair between Marie Antoinette and Swedish Count, Axel Von Fersen. It was an interesting story with intrigue, romance and disaster. The author used material and actually quoted from the journals of the Count which were quite informative and heartfelt about the French court, his love of Marie and the events of the French Revolution. Ms. du Plessix Gray also told the Count's Story through his sister's point of view. The author mixed actual material with fictionalized accounts and because of this the writing at times did not flow smoothly. This was an okay read if you want to learn a little bit more of the romance between these two historical figures."

Abby is playing cheerleader this week! “Sometimes you find an author you really pull for, and that is how I feel about Malla Nunn. I'm currently enjoying her third novel in the Emmanuel Cooper series, Blessed Are The Dead. I believe in reading mystery series' in sequence and that rule applies here. In A Beautiful Place To Die (2009), we met Detective Emmanuel Cooper of the Johannesburg, South Africa police department in the early 1950's, just as that country is implementing its heinous apartheid laws. In Blessed Are The Dead, Emmanuel, once again joined by Samuel Shabalala of the Native Branch Police Force, must solve the murder of a tribal chief's daughter. Nunn creates a fascinating and frustrating picture into South Africa's society and racial laws. Watching Emmanuel and Samuel navigate the system of apartheid, along with their own demons and the culture of Africa, makes for a thought provoking mystery.”

I am working on The Playdate by Louise Millar. Callie and Suzy are friends by necessity not necessarily choice. The only things they have in common are children of the same age and that they live on the same London street. New neighbor Debs seems more than a bit off. She hates loud noises and seems to be more than a little paranoid. Oh! And guess where she is employed? At the children’s school of course as an art teacher. You just know that when these worlds collide no good is going to come of it.


You Are What You Read!!!

This week we have opened up the door to others working in the library. After all, the Desketeers are all about the fun of sharing. Unless it is chocolate. They won’t share that. If you value life and limb don’t even ask.

This week we have some bodies, some naked bodies, some conservancy, a horseman, a midwife, some life crisis, a little Scientology, and a man who made his living robbing banks.

Let us begin!

Ann is working her way through Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. “This was a very well written book and quite an interesting read. Although I think we know the story of Ann Boleyn and Henry VIII, following the events from Thomas Cromwell's point of view made a familiar story a page turner.”

Erin, who is our Programming Diva has just finished, How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti. “In the throes of a divorce and crippling writers’ block, Heti attempts to answer the question posed in her book’s title. The book is part memoir, part play, and part novel with erotic scenes sprinkled throughout. I cannot tell a lie – this book was weird. If you’re a fan of Miranda July’s story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You then you will enjoy it. “

Abby has finished an advance copy of On a Farther Shore:  The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson by William Souder which is coming out in September. “The book is a biography of Rachel Carson, the acclaimed author of The Sea Around Us. Her follow-up book Silent Spring created a huge stir and established her as an important voice and catalyst of the emerging environmental movement. In college during the 1920's, Carson started out as an enthusiastic English major until a charismatic female science instructor helped her discover biology as a field of study. Despite never having seen the ocean until she went off to pursue a Master’s Degree, she became an aquatic biologist. And remember, a woman pursuing an advanced degree in science was a rare thing back then. It's still early, but so far it's a wonderful portrait of a woman well ahead of her time whose work continues to impact our world. “

Pat T. reminds us of the “occupational hazards” those of us who work here face. ” While shelving on Main Street this week I came upon three short stories by Richard Russo. Since I really liked two of his other novels Empire Falls and Bridge of Sighs, I thought I would try these short stories The Whore's Child and Horseman. I would definitely recommend them, especially since it is delightful to read a story in one sitting from cover to cover!”

Amanda, aka Tech Goddess, is reading The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth. “The author was a midwife in the Docklands in post-WWII London. She blends facts about the history of midwifery and medicine alongside her first hand observations of prenatal care amongst the Docklands tenants. Each chapter is either a slice of life about the nuns and midwives of the hospital or delves into the private homes of the nearby residents. Each character is drawn to breathing life whether they are the mother of seven children or the little boy who grew up to be a bodyguard of Princess Diana.”

Won’t you please welcome Stephanie to our mix? She is the new Queen of the Desketeers and this week she is giving us two very different reads that she has been enjoying. “Capital by John Lanchester is the story of several families who live on upwardly mobile Pepys Lane, just outside London, at the beginning of the economic crisis. All are different and removed from each other--a banker, an elderly woman, the immigrant family who runs the corner store, a rising soccer state—but all start getting ominous postcards in the mail that say WE WANT WHAT YOU HAVE. As all are also in the middle of various life crises, which we see from chapter to chapter as Lancaster interweaves different viewpoints, they can’t imagine why anybody would. Lancaster is just a fantastic. Though he juggles a lot of stories and a lot of points of view, I never felt as though any of the stories were neglected or weak. The mystery of the postcards is the thread that ties the book together and it’s drawn out well, but the real joy of the book is how absorbing and genuine it is. This would be a fantastic book for anyone who wants vacation reading that’s not too light, not too heavy. The  Psycopath  Test by Jon Ronson is something that I just tore through. I was reading it while walking, I was so obsessed. It has to be one of the finest and most thoughtful non-fiction books I’ve read in a while (and so much fun that I almost felt a little guilty). Told from several different angles, Ronson takes you along for a few related adventures in the mental health industry, including several side trips into Scientology, the history of diagnosing and treating psychopathy, and a strange philosophical hoax. You couldn’t have a better guide to any of it. I enjoyed it so much that I plan to start his first book, THEM, this evening, because I was so sad when this one was done.”

I loved Sutton by J.R. Moehringer. You may remember Moehringer from his past non-fiction endeavors such as The Tender Bar and Open. Well, this is his first work of fiction and he tackles the very real story of Willie Sutton the bank robber. Willie was granted parole on Christmas Eve 1969. He proceeded to spend Christmas Day with a newspaperman and a photographer. While they want to focus on one particular event in Willie’s life, Willie has other plans and proceeds to give them Willie Sutton Life Tour of New York. Moehringer has painted the perfect portrait of a 20th century folk hero who was a contradiction in terms. This book will a have you cheering, against your better judgment for a gentlemanly bank robber whose first rule was hurt no one. When I finished it this morning I was already missing Willie’s voice. This is coming in September and will be in the catalog on Monday.


You Are What You Read...

Salutations Everyone! This week we feature: old money, angels and demons, a few unhappy matrimonies, a brilliant, quirky and fiercely independent fourteen year old, life in the Tudor court, and mystical chess pieces...

Abby shares, “A few weeks ago my neighbors were very excited to share a book pick with me. The title they came up with was The Eight by Katherine Neville. Published in 1982, The Eight is like an epic version of The Da Vinci Code covering extraordinary times and places but is actually well written. The book is set against the background of the chess service belonging to King Charlemagne and a hunt for the mystical pieces that crosses over centuries. The book is so well researched; the parts that take place in the court of Catherine The Great cover some of the same fascinating information found in Robert Massie’s recent award winning biography Catherine the Great. The author is actually ahead of her time as the main current day character in 1972 is a female computer expert. It's over 500 pages so there's a lot yet to unfold. It took 30 years, but Neville recently released a sequel The Fire. My audio of The Passage by Justin Cronin continues this week; disc 8 of 29. I guess I need to drive more to finish this up!”

Ann just finished Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger. “This is a book that I was truly looking forward to and unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations. It is the story of Amina, from Bangladesh, who answers a dating site and moves to Rochester, NY to marry George. There is a conflict of religion which is never truly developed and the conflicts of Amina and George not truly knowing one another. Amina attends school and works many jobs to get her parents to the United States so they can live with Amina and George. This is something George initially does not want. It turns out that both Amina and George have secrets from their pasts that will impact their present lives. I feel this story could have been better if the author developed her characters and story line more.”

Barbara states, "I’ve just started reading Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel and so far it’s less cerebral and easier to read than Wolf Hall (which I loved) but just as well written. As a continuation it still takes place in the mind of Thomas Cromwell and begins when Henry VIII is tiring of Anne Boleyn and turning his attentions to Jane Seymour. Although we know how it will end Mantel makes the intrigues and politics of the court infinitely interesting.

I just finished The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff. Daphne has a difficult life, she’s half angel, half demon, her father being Lucifer and her mother is the infamous Lilith. Then, to make matters even more fun, her brother Obie has gone missing. Her mother has sent her to Earth to find him. Only problem with that is, demons are not allowed to stay on Earth for too long, so she finds someone to her help; the heartbroken, self-destructive Truman,who just happens to be half angel, half human. Together, they try to find her brother while keeping a watch out for Azrael, the angel sent out to destroy demons who try to hide out on Earth. It was wonderfully written, and evenly paced.

Jeanne says: “I just finished Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. This is a surprising, bittersweet novel about first loves and losses. June is a 14 year old girl living in Westchester County with her mom, dad and 16 year old sister in the eighties. The story follows her conflicted relationships with everyone, especially the very close one she shares with her Uncle Finn living in New York City and very ill with AIDS. June believes he is the only one who understands and appreciates her. Brunt's beautiful language is inspired as she relates the angst of adolescence and illness with warmth and wit. This is one of the best books I have read this year!”

Meg is currently reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, and she is thoroughly enjoying it. It is about Cheryl’s journey to find herself, while hiking alone along the Pacific Crest Trail across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Cheryl is a great storyteller and this book is extremely easy to follow. She cannot wait to see how it ends.

Pat S. is reading Glitter and Gold: The Real Life of the Real American Duchess by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan. This is a most interesting autobiography of the famed Vanderbilt heiress who was sold into a titled marriage at the age of nineteen to further her mother's aristocratic pretensions. Unfortunately, this was no fairytale. This misalliance produced nothing more than the required two children (the heir and the spare), and 20 odd years of emotional isolation for all parties involved. However, Vanderbilt Balsan writes movingly about trying to define herself and her own interests as she sets about making a life with some emotional fulfillment. After many years of success in supporting causes for underprivileged women and children, she found true love in late mid-life. It provides not only an interesting portrait of the lifestyle of late nineteenth century British aristocracy, but the more timeless tale of defining a life of personal authenticity.

Pat T. says: “I spent my vacation days reading The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan and I felt as sea sick as the passengers in lifeboat 14! The story is narrated by Grace who is on trial, along with two other women, for murder because of their actions while adrift in the ocean for 20 days after the ocean liner "Empress Alexander" exploded. Grace recalls the harrowing days in the overcrowded boat as the passengers deal with too little food and water and a power struggle of authority. The passengers in the lifeboat are at the mercy of the natural elements, as well as the manipulation of the shrewdest passengers who become the self-proclaimed leaders.”


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