You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Happy Fourth of July weekend!  Since we will be barbecuing, beveraging, and rockets bursting in air watching like the rest of you, You Are What You Read is a day early but hopefully not a dollar short. The Weather Gods have told us that we will have a rough start to the long weekend courtesy of an uninvited guest named Arthur but word has it that by Friday evening all will be clear.  Of course, it may take longer than that for my hair to settle down and get back to normal, but then again, that may not happen until September. The Traveling Companion and I have made a vow to get in some much needed beach time this weekend and we hope that you too have made a similar commitment to find a patch of sand with  water views, some sunscreen, a good hat, a smuggled-in beverage or two to enjoy with your picnic in your Solo cups (ssshhh! Discretion is required!) and don’t forget that book you’ve been dying to dive into.  This week we have some orphans, a marathon, Paris, Grand Central, London and Brooklyn.  The Playlist?  Of course! Pffff!  As if we would let you all have a long weekend without a soundtrack!

Let us begin!

Pat T has just finished The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. “I read this novel because I was intrigued by a patron's recollection of the orphan trains that passed through her Texas town as a young girl.  The lives of teenage girl and an elderly lady intersect when Molly, a troubled teen needs to perform community service for a petty theft.  Vivian Daly, a wealthy 90-year-old woman needs help with the cleaning out of her attic. As Molly and Vivian work together, Molly comes to realize that Vivian's past is similar to her own. Vivian, born Niamah in Ireland, moved to New York City with her family and was orphaned when they died in a fire. She was taken by Children's Aid and placed on an orphan train headed out west. Instead of finding a loving home, she was mistreated and overworked. Their stories alternate between present day and the early 1920's and they are connected by their shared feelings of abandonment, adversity and resilience.”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan has put down the books and picked up the remote.  What’s doin’ Virginia?  “This has been my movie marathon week and I have two recommendations. The first is Jack Ryan, Shadow Recruit. I have to say I am now a big fan of Chris Pine, the star of the movie.  This was a great addition to the Jack Ryan film series and if you like action/adventure and intrigue then pick this one up. The second movie was the The Book Thief and it is just a beautiful, gorgeous, touching film. It was wonderful and my only regret was it took me so long to see it. “

Sweet Ann is having some fun without us reading I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum.   She proclaims it a light novel that makes a fun summer read.  Tell us more Ann!  “Richard Haddon, is an American artist living in Paris with his French wife, Anne-Laure, and their young daughter.  When Richard has an affair with an American woman she is willing to give him a second chance until she discovers that the affair was more involved than she was led to believe.  This novel will keep you engaged and cheering for Richard and Anne-Laure.  As an aside, there are beautiful descriptions of Paris and Brittany.  At one point Richard wants to take his estranged wife to one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris, Le Train Bleu.  I looked it up and oh yes, it is so beautiful.

The Forever Fabulous Babs B is reading about a place near and dear to her.  Here she is with Terminal City by Linda Fairstein.  “I always look forward to a new book by Linda Fairstein and again she comes through with flying colors!  This time she focuses her story on one of New York's most iconic structures-Grand Central Station.  There is an elusive killer on the loose in Grand Central and the only lead the police can find is a carefully drawn symbol into the victim's bodies which bears a striking resemblance to train tracks.  The reader is taken into Grand Central's expansive underground tunnels, where groups of homeless people live.  I found this part of the story fascinating.  This is a fast paced read and if you enjoy reading about iconic New York City buildings this one is for you!”

Jeanne is worried. And I am worried that she is only doing one thing. So much fretting going on here.  Anyway, here is Jeanne’s latest download via OverDrive.  “Last week I was worried about the plight of chimpanzees; this week it was whales and dolphins. Jojo Moyes tells a great story and Silver Bay is no exception. This one has love, deception, transatlantic travel, high finance, quite a bit of drinking and marine life, to boot. A large London real estate development firm is determined to build a high-end vacation spot in the lovely Australian coastal village of Silver Bay, complete with extreme water sports. The story gets interesting when Mike Dormer, the front man for the developers, discovers that he cares about the future of the eccentric people of the town and one lovely whale chasing skipper named Liza. There are surprise twists and tugs on your heart.”

I am wild for Elizabeth Gaffney’s novel When the World Was Young.  Meet Wallace “Wally” Baker, who is growing up in Brooklyn Heights during World War II and is easily one of the most refreshing voices I have encountered in a long time.  Wally has no interest in the things that her mother and grandmother wish would interest her such as needlepoint and dresses.  She is fascinated by the world of ants and Wonder Woman comics.  When her mother dies under suspicious circumstances on VJ Day her world is understandably turned upside down.  As Wally grows older her commitment to solving the mystery of her mother’s life and death become an obsession.  Will she ever be able to discover the truth?  This is a wonderful story about the importance of family in all the guises it comes in and it comes out in August. 

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is back up in the State Which Shall Not Be Named and here is her take on the 4th.  Take it Patty!  “This week as we celebrate the independence of our country that was founded on the tenets of religious freedom and separation of church and state, I want to encourage all of you to have a civil discourse on politics.  That’s right; I’m encouraging you to blow up that old-fangled notion that politics and religion should never be discussed in public.   This Fourth of July while you enjoy a parade, a barbeque or some fireworks take a little time to talk politics. I know that my family will be doing just that this Friday.  And here is a soundtrack to move that along.”

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Well hello there and a Happy First Full Week of Summer!  It was shocking to feel the heat and humidity yesterday when I went to lunch.  And it’s hard to wrap the brain around the idea that this time next week we will be knee deep in Star Spangled Banners, Barbecue, and Beer for the 4th. It feels like just yesterday the only thing we were knee deep in was the four letter S word.  But here we are at the beginning of High Summer and I am sure that you all are already thinking about your great escape to wherever it is you Summer.  The Message from the SoNo Loft is Really Give It The Gas.  If you are on the road heading out, I would gently recommend that you may want to have a crack radar detector before heeding their advice.  Those Staties don’t play.  This week we have some new neighbors, a chimpanzee, small gestures and some duchesses.  Of course we have The Playlist!  How can we not have The Playlist?

Let us begin!

Sue tried something new this week and here is her take on Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber.  “This week I deviated from my normal chick-lit reading and got lost in the realm of YA Fiction with Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber. This is about a 16-year-old Goth misfit named Raven Madison. When the old abandoned mansion in town comes alive with new residents everyone believes that the new neighbors are actually secret bloodthirsty vampires. One day, she encounters one of the new inhabitants of the mansion, the attractive yet mysterious Alexander Sterling. The two slowly fall in love, but still the question remains; are the Sterlings really vampires and if they are this could make the town that is nicknamed ‘Dullsville’ anything but dull.  I enjoyed this book and was made even happier when I learned that it was the first in a Series.”

Jeanne gives us an insight this week into how she chooses her audio books and it’s about what I would expect. I’ll let her explain.  Have at it Jeanne!  ”Sometimes with audiobooks I like the title and don’t really look at the cover, and soon I am engrossed in the story and the narration, but suddenly I think, ‘Wait. WHAT is this about?! ‘But by then I like the writing and the voice of the main character and I keep listening and before I know it I am done. This is the case with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, a story of siblings, science experiments, data and there is a chimpanzee on the book cover. The story is deeply disturbing, heart wrenching and plenty thought-provoking. The wonderful Orlagh Cassidy reads with all the right voice, tempo and inflection. I count her as a favorite narrator. “

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is looking back this week and she has been doing some serious reflection. “I like to think I was kind as a child. Not making fun of others and saying hello to all. But if subject to peer pressure, did I always do the right thing and stand up for the underdog?  Probably not. This has been on my mind a lot since I started reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. August Pullman is a young man who was born with an extreme facial deformity who and after years of being taught at home is entering school for the first time as a fifth grader. The book tells the tale of his first year of school and the impact on his family and friends. The book has its faults but it is a beautiful, heartfelt story that made me laugh, cry, and reminded me how the smallest gestures can be the most courageous. This is a wonderful read for people of all ages and if  you haven’t read it you should.”

It has been a while since I revealed what the current Blow Dry Book is.  For those new to this space a Blow-Dry Book is a book I literally read while I blow-dry my hair.  It’s a chore and a bore (the blow-dry, not the book) and so I need something to entertain me while it happens. And I want to state for the record I am not alone in this quirk. Virginia is also a fan of the BDB.  My current Blow- Dry Book is The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport.  We all know that this story is not going to end well, but it fascinates just the same.  The four sisters were beautiful, well educated, and wealthy beyond measure.  And yet what is strikes me the most, aside from their tragic fate, is how their lives were filled with crazy contradictions.  They lived in a cosseted world where very few outsiders were allowed in and yet because of their brother’s hemophilia and their mother’s frequent turns as an invalid they were often required to be the face of the Russian monarchy.  Sure, their homes were palaces and yet the private rooms they lived in are described as homey and decorated in comfy sort of English style filled with chintz and flowers. Yes, there were servants and luxury aplenty and yet they all learned how to make their beds.  You can’t help but wonder what would have become of them is they had been allowed to live past their ages of 22, 21, 19 and 17. 

DJ Patty McC was back in Da House this week and it was wonderful to see her in the flesh and not just communicate with her via the interwebs.  Here is her take on our message this week.  Have at it Patty!  “Summer is finally here and we are all soaking up that glorious Vitamin D! What's more summertime than rolling down the windows in your car, cranking up the tunes and taking a summer road trip? I could tell you stories from my childhood of road trips gone wrong that would be highly entertaining. They involved travel in a stripped down van with no insulation so that when the sun hit the metal it heated all the way through. Did I mention that there were no windows or seats and that the driver was a chain smoker? Ah, sweet summertime road trips. This week I packed up my daughter and hit the highway for a little housekeeping here in The Nutmeg State. Librarians around the country are gathered in Las Vegas for the ALA conference.  I'm hitting the highway tomorrow to head back home to my boys in the mitten shaped state. I'm still grooving to last week’s tunes but I think our town librarians need a little bit of What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas. Now go forth and put the pedal to the metal.”

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Hello! I am back!  First I want to send a big thanks to Steph for stepping up last week.   So thanks Steph.  As you can see, the message from the SoNo loft is in the form of a question, ‘What is Your Weird?’  It’s a worthy question for this last day of Spring.  We all have our ‘things’.  Some of mine are as follows and not in any real order:  The Edies of Grey Gardens, Little People, any episode of Hoarders, Clowns, Dolls with Teeth, Victorian Taxidermy Tableaux and of course when Wild Animals decide that they have had enough of  us humans and our nonsense  and they kill and eat us (see the films Grizzly Man and  Black Fish).  Sally of the Reference has an obsession with Extreme Weather.  Caroline?  If it’s on Bravo, she’s all over it.  Cathy?  Our girl Hugette is a favorite.  Abby?  She is all about Scientology.  Amanda?  That girl loves herself some Graveyard.  And of course you know all about our Anne Perry fixation which has so many elements of weirdness, that it’s hard to focus on the whole Chicks with Bricks main story.  So c’mon!  What is your weird obsession?  What will you never have your fill of?  What makes you take a step back; cock your head and say, “I need to learn more about that because that is MESSED UP!”  This week we have an unfortunate accident, a whodunit, some grief, murder, mental unbalance, some serious planning, football and of course we have the playlist and some added value.  Interested?

Let us begin!

Barbara M is working on Family Life by Akhil Sharma.  “While this is classified as fiction it is in  fact the story of his family’s immigration from India to the United States and  his older brother’s unfortunate accident. Akhil’s older brother was a brilliant boy who after only a short time in the United States passed the exam to be admitted to the Bronx High School of Science, a highly competitive New York City High School. His aspiration was to become a surgeon. The accident left him in a vegetative state and the family, far from their home in India, coped or didn’t cope in different ways.  The story is told from the younger brother’s  point of view and it is poignant, heart-breaking and very real. “

Abby has just finished watching the British whodunit Broadchurch starring  David Tennant. “ Set in a picturesque coastal English town, it is the story of the aftermath  when 11- year- old Danny Latimer is killed. The investigation is hampered by the secrets of Danny's family, and the community's collective desire to find someone to blame for the youngsters tragic death. I enjoy Tennant's work and Olivia Colman as  Ellie Miller, an officer who grew up in town and is  a friend of  the Latimer Family is a terrific actress.  Overall, with so many twists and turns there were some gaps in the storytelling and investigation, but the performances and scenery make it a worthwhile watch. In a move that may or may not work, the series is being re-done as a version in the US, with Tennant again starring but as an American detective. “

Sweet Ann who does not seem to have any weirdness tells us about The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings.  “This novel is about grief and how one woman faces it and goes on with her life.  It is not your typical sad book but one that will make you chuckle as you meet the other people who are coping with the loss as well.  Sarah St. John lives with her father in Colorado.  She is a single Mom to twenty-two year old Cully who died in an avalanche.   Everyone in her world is having a difficult time with Cully's death.  While it is a book about grief  it is also a book about relationships and the people who can make you smile.   Ms. Hemmings previous novel, The Descendants, is written in a similar way with a serious subject and lighthearted moments. “

The Fabulous Babs B is in full summer read mode with Field of Prey by John Sanford.  “This is another top-notch thriller from John Sanford.  The character of Lucas Davenport from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension returns to investigate the disappearance and murder of 15 young girls.  Davenport teams up with Catrin Mattson, a detective with the county sheriff's office.  When the killer decides Mattson is going to be his next victim, the case escalates quickly.  Halfway into the story, Sanford throws in a big twist that I never saw coming.  I think this is the best of Sanford's Davenport novels in a long time and I am not alone!  To quote Stephen King this is ‘The Perfect Summer Read.’”

And then we come to Pat S who has just read Regeneration by Pat Barker.  She tells me that she is not in “summer reading mode” but honestly I don’t think that she and I ever are.  Maybe we need to add that to the “weird list?”  “This is the first book of a WWI trilogy by Pat Barker. Set in the psychiatric convalescent hospital of Craiglockhart, Regeneration is a fictionalized account of the poet Siegfried Sassoon's time in this facility when he had been labeled 'mentally unbalanced' for declaring the war a 'senseless slaughter'. Told through the eyes of both the patients and the physicians, Barker explores the ethical and moral ambiguities of war. It is heartrending to read the recounting of battles and frontline conditions which left healthy young men physically and psychically shattered-not necessarily at the hands of the enemy, but by virtue of the incompetence and arrogance of their own commanding officers. While not an easy read, this is certainly a provocative one.”

Steph, for those unaware, recently became engaged.  This of course is influencing her reading as you will see.  I know we all wish her and the fiancé all the best.  “This week I read A Practical Wedding, by Meg Keene. I have been looking at a lot of wedding books and magazines lately, and most of them seem custom-designed to make a lady anxious so she will buy things she doesn’t need. This book is the complete opposite, and sorely needed in the field of wedding planning. The book includes not just great basic information on the practical side planning a wedding (down to giving you a sample of a spreadsheet to keep track of the details!), it also includes advice on the emotions and everything else that goes with it. And there’s no agenda. If you want the big church wedding, or the small barn wedding, or to elope, or whatever else, Keene’s got your back. It’s like having a really cool aunt who just happens to be a wedding planner. Her blog is also fabulous! It’s also, unlike most wedding books, not bride-centric, because it emphasizes creating a wedding that works for the whole couple—I am making my partner read it as well. Of everything I’ve looked at, this is the only book on weddings I whole-heartedly recommend. I will be buying it for engagement presents in the future.”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is in summer mode but she’s not happy but her unhappiness has a good resolution.  I’ll let her explain.  Virginia the floor is yours!  “I continued my summer reading this week with Emily Giffin’s new novel The One and  Only.  The book takes place in a small town outside of Dallas, TX and shockingly (I say snidely) the story line revolves around football.  Seriously people, there is more to Texas than football, although, with this book you would never realize it.  Here is my quick synopsis:  Someone dies…football.  Breakup, career change…football. Dating someone new, while having feelings for someone forbidden…football. Domestic abuse…football. Happily ever after…winning the national championship in football.  Oh yeah and  in between all of that was more football.  As you can tell, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the book. The best I can say is it made me nostalgic for real Tex-Mex food, Neiman Marcus and the Ritz Carleton bar. I guess I can thank Giffin for inspiring me to make my plane reservations for a trip home to Dallas.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is weighing in on the Weird with some eye and ear candy this week.  Patty?  What’s doin’?  “ There are artistic geniuses all around us and rarely do they do things that are considered normal. What is “normal” for one person may not be “normal” for another whether you’re an artistic genius, working parent or stay-at-home mom. What gets you up and motivated in the morning is probably different for your partner, children, parents or friends. My daughter told her teacher that our family motto is, ‘Let Your Freak Flag Fly.’  This week I have a couple of videos to share that are freaky genius. The first is from the band OK Go. They’ve created another musical masterpiece complete with mind-blowing video for their new song, ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’. It was filmed all in one shot (it took 50 takes) and is chock-full of optical illusions and great art. 

The second video is Stay With Me’ by Sam Smith and if you don’t know who he is yet you will soon. The mind-blowing thing about this song is that the Gospel Choir is HIM! A recent NPR interview with Sam on All Things Considered uncovered this little known fact:

So, this week I invite you to be more accepting of yourself, others and try living in a state of non-judgment. Embrace your own quirks and share them unselfconsciously with others, they may just surprise you. Now, I have to ask, DL DUZ THIS MUZIK MAEK ME LOOK WEIRD? 2014”

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Hi, faithful YAWYRers! While Jen is off playing in North Carolina, I (Stephanie) am filling in. We wouldn’t want to leave you with no new book recommendations just as it’s finally starting to feel like summer! And this week is full of great summer reads, including romance, Concord, Hemingway (will he ever go away?), and a DL staff favorite who is taking us to Mallorca. Yes, all of us. Pack your bags, we’re leaving soon!

Amanda read The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James, who is also one of my favorite romance novelists. "This is perhaps the best romance novel I've read. From the first sentence to the last, the story is engaging. Lots of stories give some multi-page introduction before getting into the meat of the plot, but this one dives straight in. There's even a totally unexpected but thrilling twist to the story—one that I never saw coming! It's wonderful that Daisy has such a level head on her shoulders. At the beginning, she's 17 and full of starry-eyed romance. The moment she stops seeing James as her almost-brother and starts seeing him as a man is believable and just like real life. Later on, she grows into a very competent, independent woman who has turned a failing estate into a very profitable one. She's a great heroine."

Virginia survived to tell us about her reading, and I am sure glad she did. “Consumption (ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a horrid summer cold) hit my household this past weekend, and the only thing that made it bearable was a bottle of Nyquil, the new season of Orange is the New Black and the historical novel Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood.  I loved, loved, loved this book. My only complaint is that it was way too short, and I wanted more. Written in four parts and based on real love letters and telegrams, the book gives a glimpse of the life each of Hemingway’s four wives had with him and how they all came to this brilliant but tortured man. It is a captivating read and a perfect summer read. Also, I just started listening to The Vacationers by Emma Straub and I am already caught up in the dysfunction and strife of the family and friends vacationing together in Spain.”

But wait! You thought that was the last you’d hear about Emma Straub today? (Remember her first book, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures?) Think again. Jeanne is listening to it, too. “I’m recommending the audio version of Emma Straub's newest book, The Vacationers. It's kind of a beach read; in fact, it is set on the beaches of Mallorca (or Majorca) so the print version might be easier, but the day-to-day infidelities, backbiting and general dysfunction of the Post family and their friends is much more satisfying out loud. In the book, the NYC and Miami couples and singles converge on a borrowed house for two weeks, and Kristen Sieh has just the right voice and tone to let us enjoy other peoples' discomfort.”

As for me—I have been reaching way back into the past and re-reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau for a book group. And I’ve found it holds up remarkably well! How can any of us disagree with this sentiment? “Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them.”

And to send us into the weekend with a smile, especially because it looks like the sun will be making an appearance…The Playlist, which this week is SO FRESH IT’S HOT! Inspire us, DJ Jazzy Patty McC: “Being influenced by what we choose to consume, what we surround and immerse ourselves in is not a bad thing; subconsciously, we take things in, absorb them and then make them our own. Sometimes in our lives we need a little new, a little FRESH! My family has a tradition of creating a theme for our summer. This summer we’ve dubbed it “The Summer of Discovery & Exploration.” No doubt it grew out of our theme from last year “The Year of No Fear” and our move from Connecticut to Michigan. So I invite you this summer to create your own FRESH family theme, or borrow ours. Read something outside your normal genre. Plant something in the ground. Grab a cookbook and try a new recipe. Listen to some new music, a new band. Whatever you choose to do, make it FRESH and make sure you get outside to discover and explore. You just might be surprised at how much it fills you with joy. The surprise could even come from the realization and awareness that it was right there all along in your own backyard, and that’s NEVER a bad thing. Now go forth, discover and explore. Oh, I almost forgot, a BIG ‘Happy Father’s Day’ to all you Daddios!”

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

The message this week from the SoNo Loft is Adventure Awaits!  And indeed it does!  Next week I am going on vacation to what is referred to, without irony it should be noted, by the Traveling Companion as The Homeland.  The rest of us call it North Carolina, specifically Southern Pines and Pinehurst.  The real adventure here is that I will be attending my first major golf tournament.  Those who know me realize that this may not be the best fit.  But I am going in, I am excited and I will report back.  Sweet Ann is also having an adventure next week and will be exploring areas of New York City with one of her sons that she has never been to before.  She is excited.  Erin and Mallory are going to the Ninety9 Bottle Craft Beer Fest tomorrow in SoNo as their adventure. And they are excited too. So I encourage you all to get out there.    The weather promises to be glorious so no excuses will be accepted.  Have an adventure this weekend! Try something new. Get excited about it and then report back and let us know what you did.  This week we have a Painter, a biologist, a rotary phone, Australia, Norway, a pile, some drinking, Liverpool, Ozarks, pain meds, Nazis, and golf.  Because it would appear all roads lead to golf.  Playlist?  You betcha!  Would it be a weekend without one?

Let us begin!

John has been busy. Very, very busy.  Here is what he has been working on.  “First, there was The Painter, Peter Heller’s second novel.  Hellers first book, The Dog Stars, was one of my favorites from 2012 so you can imagine I was anxious to read his second.  The storyline was not at all what I expected and I found myself, once again, engrossed in his storytelling. Hellers prose is clean and clear and his descriptions of nature will leave you feeling like you’re standing in a mountain stream, underneath a clear, starry sky. If a novel about vigilante painters piques your interest, you will enjoy this one.  I then moved on, and quickly through, the first two books in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation and Authority (the third book comes out in September). This is serious science fiction for connoisseurs of the genre.  The series begins are we are dropped into the mysterious ‘Area X’ as a biologist representing an all-female, multi-disciplinary research team. But things start going wrong terribly wrong immediately, just as they did for the dozens and dozens of teams that came before them. This is an eerie and deeply psychological series that will give you goose bumps and keep you turning the pages.”

The Delightful Mallory joined our ranks as a full timer this week and we could not be more pleased.  Here is what she has enjoyed recently. “Rainbow Rowell does this thing.  She creates these characters, these deeply flawed, difficult characters, and makes you fall desperately in love with them.  Rainbow's newest protagonist, Georgie, can be found in the July debut Landline.  Georgie is career-driven to a fault, used to getting what she wants, a barely-there mother and wife and she  is about to receive the opportunity of a lifetime.  In saying yes to this new opportunity, she loses both her husband and two young daughters. And just what is her method of coping?  Wearing awful velour track suits and utilizing a magical, time-traveling rotary phone!  As Georgie rapidly spirals downward, she also begins to understand what truly matters and what it takes to fix it.  Landline is as quick as it is touching, the perfect summer read.”

Miss Elizabeth of the CL has a new obsession.  I’ll let her explain. “This week I discovered a new obsession streaming on Netflix (and soon to be available at the library!) Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Set in the roaring 20's in bustling Australia, the television series follows the entirely glamorous, fabulously wealthy, Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher as she solves crimes around Australia, flies planes, drives fast in wicked-looking cars, wears gorgeous clothing, and has innumerable flirtations with dangerous men. In short, the series is perfect and I cannot recommend it enough. So imagine my joy when I discovered my new favorite TV show is based on a series of detective novels! I raced through the first Phryne Fisher Mystery in just a few days. Cocaine Blues follows Phryne's return to the continent where she was born into poverty many years before, on a mission to determine if the wealthy daughter of an acquaintance is being poisoned by her philandering husband. Drama, intrigue, and delectable descriptions of clothing and luncheons follow. “

Sweet Ann has just finished Days in the History of Silence by Norwegian author Merethe Lindstrom. “I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is in my top favorite reads of this year.   The novel takes place in Norway and centers on the long marriage of Eva, a former teacher and Simon, a retired doctor.  It is a very thoughtful and wonderful reflection of a marriage and the secrets that a couple share between themselves.  Simon has stopped talking and spends his days in silence and while  Eva misses his voice she accepts that silence is the way he deals with his past.  Their grown daughter thinks she would be happier if Simon was put in a home.  This novel is described as unnerving and it is as Eva, the narrator of this novel, reflects on her marriage and the secrets their shared past.  I can't recommend this novel enough and it will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

Abby was abroad last week.  Here is one of the titles she is excited about. “BEA provided me with the opportunity to meet authors whose work I have long respected. I was charmed by David Mitchell and enjoyed hearing him speak because of the content of his talk, anticipation over his new novel The Bone Clocks, and on a more superficial note, his wonderful accent. I’ve read a few of his previous books and find him to be a thoughtful writer capable of creating complex worlds. His latest, The Bone Clocks, is at the Top ‘O the To Be Read pile.”

Steph has found some peace in between the covers of the following.” During this past crazy week my respite was Fourth of July Creek, a debut novel by Smith Henderson. I knew I had to check it out after hearing great things about it at BEA, and then getting an email from John with the subject line ‘OMG’ that contained only the link to this book. The story centers around Pete Snow, a social worker in rural Montana who is only slightly less troubled than the families he helps out. His wife and daughter are leaving him, he drinks like a fish, and lives on his own in a cabin. But that’s nothing compared to the dysfunction he sees on a regular basis, especially after he returns a kid to his backwoods survivalist father in a cabin where he is defacing US coinage in preparation for the end of the world. (Believe me, that sentence doesn’t come close to explaining the insanity of Jeremiah Pearl.) As Snow’s life and the lives he manages get increasingly chaotic, his daughter goes missing, her story popping up in between chapters and growing increasingly dire. Sounds cheery, right? Well, it’s a grim book, but a great one. Henderson’s writing is rough and oh-so American, reminding me of Cormac McCarthy by way of Bonnie Jo Campbell, and the story is addictive to the point of making me wish for a train delay. OMG is right!”

Introducing Julia our RA High School Intern!  Take it away Julia!  I went to my very first BEA last Thursday and met some very cool publishers and authors. I brought home plenty of books that are going on the list to read in the upcoming weeks, including We Are Called to Rise, about a child’s fate told through an immigrant boy, two women, and a young veteran. I’m excited to read these new books, but before I do I had to go back and read a book from years ago that I just never got around to, Gone Girl. I know everyone is probably over it by now, but I’m halfway through and enjoying it immensely. Also, in the past week I’ve gotten a recommendation from Stephanie, the head of Readers’ Services, about the book Red or Dead by David Peace. It’s about The Liverpool Football Club, who, with the help of their beloved coach, make it up the ranks and win the title. I haven’t heard such glowing reviews from a book in a long time, so it’s going on the ever-growing list of novels I’ll make time to read.”

Virginina the Tall Cool Texan is still on the treadmill. Still listening.  Go Virginia! “I love a great mystery/thriller, especially as an audiobook, because it makes my workouts go so much faster, and  The Weight of Blood  by Laura McHugh did not disappoint.  In fact, it was so outstanding, I am actually sad I already finished it, and wished I would have paced myself a bit more.   A young girl living in the Ozark Mountains is haunted by the gruesome death of a friend and goes searching for answers only to find they lead back to the mystery of her missing mother.  If you liked Gone Girl, this dark novel is for you.  Also, I just finished All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner.  The main character, Allison Weiss, is a woman who supposedly has it all; the perfect home, a great husband, a precocious daughter and a wonderful, fulfilling job.  Unfortunately, she also has a serious addiction to painkillers.  When it spirals out of control her perfect life crumbles around her.  While I am not sure I loved this book, I did enjoy it and parts of it have stuck with me.  It is worth reading and I think it is going to be a very popular book this summer.”   

Pat S
is not happy this week.  She found Flash Boys by Michael Lewis to be less than satisfying.  Here’s her reasoning.  ”Now, we all know that I am a longtime fan of all things Michael Lewis, so imagine my delight when I finally got my hands on Flash Boys. The first third of the book introduced the topic of high frequency traders in the finance industry and their ability to game the system by virtue of a technical glitch of ‘micro-seconds’, or ‘frontrunning’ thus affecting the transparency of the market. Lewis focuses on the technological developments in the operation of financial markets which have occurred at such a fast pace that the regulatory board (SEC) has not been able to keep up with them. In his usual style, Lewis gives us a narrative that includes heroes, villains-and the moral high ground. Unfortunately, where in books such as The Big Short, Liars’ Poker and Boomerang  Lewis has been able to successfully de-mystify the complex world of the financial industry for the layperson, he misses the boat this time around. I stuck with the book for my book group, but am sorry to say that at the end, I am still not sure of what frontrunning is.  On a happier note, neither were the other members of the book group!”

Babs B is doing things a little differently.  “This isn’t my typical summer beach read but it is a beautiful novel that shows how courage and hope can be two of the most powerful motivators of all time. The Auschwitz Escape by Joel Rosenberg  delves into one of the darkest moments of history.  His main character, Jacob Weisz, is faced with the horrific reality of being Jewish in Germany during WWII.  Fighting as part of the Resistance, Weisz is captured as he courageously works to free a train full of Jewish prisoners.  Taken directly to Auschwitz, Weisz’ only goal is to escape and let the world know of the atrocities being committed at the death camps. Rosenberg was inspired to write this book after his visit to Auschwitz in 2011.  You will be inspired at the lengths he goes to survive and I highly recommend this read!”

My pick for you all this week is one that is somewhat selfishly motivated.  It’s the first ever pick for the Golf Channel’s newly formed book group and it’s called Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History:  Heroes, Underdogs, Courses and Championships by Bill Fields.  As I stated in the intro I am going down to Pinehurst and I will be attending my first ever US Open.  I am not a sportif person.  I don’t really follow anything but Ohio State Football because in my family that is a non-negotiable.  My brother Peter is the golf fan.  He loves the game and he would take great delight in pointing his finger at me and stating with great confidence that someday I was going to need to know about golf.   Of course, I told him with utter confidence I would never need this knowledge.  I apologize to my brother and so now here I am, going off to the US Open with Bill Fields.  There is a truth in the genius of really beautiful writing and it is this:  even when you don’t care about the subject one whit, the writing alone carries you along and draws you in until without realizing it you do, indeed, care.  Take for example this first paragraph from his essay entitled King of the Hill:

        Sam Snead’s swing used to resemble a Faulkner first sentence. It was long, laced with the perfect pause, and                           blessed with a powerful ending.  Now that he is eighty-four years old it is only slightly less so. He is driving off a tee                   beside me, on a piece of Florida land that was a swamp way back when and he still purrs.

See?  Genius!  So think of me next Sunday while I attend my first ever Open and Bill reports on his 30th.  And pick up his book in the meantime.  An entire channel devoted to the game can’t be wrong. And I know I’m not.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is in da house to let us know about what’s going on in The State Which Shall Not Be Named. It would appear that she is all about the Adventure. Take it away Patty! “It’s been a rainy week in the Midwest but who am I to complain when the weekends are resplendent with ALL that is summertime? The sun and temperatures here have granted the worker bees a bounty of weekend blessings. The grass is thickly growing underfoot and my organic container garden is sprouting on the balcony. If you have not kicked off your shoes and let loose your tresses, you really need to do that. Do it now, I’ll wait… Life here in the D is bursting with hope, promise and lots and lots of green. I’ve coined it the new Brooklyn. Skinny jeans, flannel and ironic facial hair can be found everywhere, thankfully mostly on the men folk. We are the testing site for self-driving cars, the 10.4 acre living roof of the Ford Rouge Center and home to Hantz Farms, the world’s largest urban farm.  Life is an adventure for sure and humans are natural storytellers and creators. So, this week I invite you to get outside, start your own adventure and just for fun change your narrative. Let me know how that goes. Don’t forget to enjoy it with a frosty glass of lemonade. “

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Well the weekend we thought would never come is here!  The official kick off to Summer 2014 begins with the arrival of this missive.  Happy Summer!  We made it!   Break out those white pants/shoes and rejoice!  Although I must say that I have broken that rule with a new pair of white jeans that I am wild about.  The Fabulous Babs B has been kind and not chided me for it but I know that this is the one fashion rule she will never break.   Sure the beginning of the weekend won’t be the best in terms of weather but it’s still better than what we have had to wade through to get to this point.  All week I have had people tell me they were stocking up on library material for the great migration to wherever they Summer.   I have heard about trips to the Adirondacks, Maine, Nantucket, The Cape, and Block.  Places that we could only have imagined in our little frozen brains just weeks ago.   And so I wish you a lovely three days filled with sun, sand, something festive to sip, a comfy chair and a great read.  Please be aware that there will not be an issue of YAWYR next week.  We will all be at Book Expo finding out what is coming up for the year in Books.  We’ll be back in business though on the 6th.   As an aside, if you are in the State Which Should Not Be Named at a certain golfing event on Sunday and you see the Traveling Companion wish him a Happy Birthday.   He’d like that. This week we have some strange people, a need for sleep, the American Dream, a cold case, Daphne the Deb, a pilot and some Frank Campbell.

The Playlist?  But, of course!

Let us begin!

Alan, our leader is finished but just with his latest read.   No worries.  He’s still around. “I’ve just finished Ingenious: A True Story of Invention Automotive Daring And the Race to Revive America by Jason Fagone. He followed 4 of the 100+ teams that entered the 2007 X Prize Foundation contest to build a safe, mass-producible car that could travel 100 miles on the equivalent of a gallon of gas for a prize of $10 million dollars. There are engineers, tinkerers, some amazingly interesting and accomplished (and strange) people who compete, and the author does a great job of telling the story of a resurgence of innovation and invention.”

Kim (you know…the one with the shiny boat shoes) is reading Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder by Arianna Huffington.  “The book, about the dangers of personal burnout, gives statistics that universities and colleges have collected as well as examples of real events.  It is a very informative and one of the main ideas it tells the reader is that more sleep leads to a better life!”

Sweet Ann has just finished Family Life by Akhil Sharma. “This is a beautifully written story about a family coming here to experience the American dream.  The Mishra family, parents and two sons, immigrate to Long Island (Queens specifically) from India.  Ajay and his older brother Birju find many things in the U.S. fascinating from elevators to escalators.  Birju, a good student, takes the entrance exam for the Bronx High School of Science and with his whole family's support he passes.  But the family’s happiness is short lived after Birju is injured in an accident.  This accident will take its toll on the family and each member has to deal with it in their own way.  Ajay narrates the story in a very realistic manner expressing fear, love and even jealousy as his parents focus their attention on their injured son. I highly recommend this book.”

Abby is sticking with a favorite. “Tana French’s latest in the Dublin Murder Squad series, The Secret Place, grabbed me from the first paragraph. As in her earlier works, she takes what has been a peripheral character and turns them into the main protagonist.  In Secret Place, it’s Detective Stephen Moran. Working in cold cases, Moran has his eye on the homicide division.  One cold case, which involves the murder of a young man at a posh boarding school,  now has a very current lead, and allows him the opportunity to try the prestigious murder squad on for size. While I’m still in the early part of the book, I cannot wait to read more. French is one of the few writers whose work you can see evolving and I am a major fan.”

Pat S has just finished Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford.  “Attempting to keep Downton Abbey withdrawal at bay, I picked up Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Set in Edwardian England, Cavendon Hall is home to Charles Ingham, the illustrious Earl of Mowbray and his family living side by side with the Swanns, the family of loyal retainers who have served the aristocratic family faithfully for generations. The story opens during the years leading up to WWI as one of the Earls’ daughters’, Daphne, is about to be presented at court. But on the eve of this debut, Daphne is assaulted, and the world as it was known, has been turned upside down. So begins the sweeping family saga, told through the eyes of the Earl’s six children, as well as the current generation of the Swann family, Bradford does a great job of presenting the historical landscape. This is a great, fun read filled with all the passion, intrigue, secrets and general mayhem one could hope for in a summer read.”

Sue S is having a blast with The Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick.  “Normally I would devour a chick-lit book like The Cure for the Common Breakup in two evenings.  However, I have been enjoying this book so much that I have had to force myself to read only a few chapters an evening because I do not want to see it end!  The plot centers on Summer Benson, who we learn is a flight attendant and dating none other than a pilot who is supposed to be the most fabulous catch.   Very early in the book Summer’s life is turned upside down by two significant events.   Summer takes herself to heal in the town of Black Dog Bay.  It is her time here that you will want to savor and revel in her interactions with the town’s characters.  The way that Beth Kendrick writes you can easily imagine the people of the town and you find yourself happily transported into Summer’s world.  A little bit of craziness, healing, heartache, laughter and people harboring long held grudges are what make The Cure for The Common Break Up a book that I hope you too will love.”

I have never made a secret of my love of a good tale of WASP dysfunction.  I love reading about my tribe complete with all of our peculiarities and foibles. Throw in some McLean or Silver Hill, a poet or two, a waning fortune, two Sherries at 5 max and a big Frank Campbell send-off and I am in heaven.  The May 5th edition of the New Yorker ran a piece called Pilgrim Mothers: The Ladies of the Four O’Clock Club by Sarah Payne Stuart which I found charming and it reminded me a lot of an outfit that I belong to; the $5.00 annual membership fee, the strict adherence to rules that were set forth in 1879, and some fierce dragons not to be trifled with but adored just the same.   Imagine my delight when I came across the fact that I could get even more of the same when Perfectly Miserable: God, Guilt and Real Estate in a Small Town comes out next month!  Stuart ran like the wind from her hometown of Concord, MA when she was 18 with the intention of never coming back, but when she begins a family of her own, she throws herself back into the thick of it.  Stuart not only looks hard at her own  domestic life, but the lives of some of Concord’s most famous women including the wives of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the forever suffering Abby May Alcott  better known as Marmee of The Little Women.  You can get your own fix if that is what thrills you when it comes out on June 12th.

DJ Jazzy Patty had a happy/sad week. I’ll let her explain: “One of the great paradoxes of life is change. Rarely do people like it, few seek it and yet it’s happening as you read these words. On a micro-cellular level we are constantly dividing, dying and regenerating. Every single day that we take a breath and our hearts beat, we engage in the cycle of aging. Babies are born, prefrontal cortex development happens, and then in the wink of an eye, wrinkles and grey hair. This week my family welcomed a baby and said goodbye to a great man in the space of two days. Last week I said we can’t know what’s going to happen day-to-day, but here’s something I do know. I know that we change all the time and that what we do in between birth and our last breaths is the good stuff. It’s the meat or portabella mushroom in your sandwich. It’s the important stuff. How we choose to live it and what happens will be different for us all. I’d like to believe that we all consciously choose kindness, express gratitude and share whatever our particular gift is with others. I am fortunate be in a family of storytellers. So this week we will share our stories about beloved John and we will hug each other, we will cry and we will all clamor to hold sweet baby Jayden. With the stories we share, time will feel like it’s stopped even though in that very moment we will be changing. “

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Readers of YAWYR who have come late-ish to our party often ask me, “What is the SoNo Loft? How can a Loft have a message?  Is this some kind of cult? Just what are you constantly referring to week after week?  Do these pants make me look fat?” Well New Friends (no, not you Susan from Fairfield Cheese Company), the SoNo Loft is probably the only charming piece of my rather charmless commute these days.  Whoever is living/working in the space attached to this deck takes great care every week to paint a banner and hang it from the railing of their deck.  What makes this especially cool is that it is a message that is only visible from one side of the train, only going into New York and you can’t see it from the street.  This is a message crafted just for us and it is without exception happy, upbeat, and thought provoking.  It is a nice way to begin the work week and it can sometimes totally set the tone for what is to follow.  I have been trying to get a picture via the cell phone for a while now and this week I succeeded!  The Traveling Companion (thank you Bill F – now you know his real name) tried to smooth some of the rough edges and prettied it up for me so this week I present to you The SoNo Loft and its rather lovely message of ‘Keep Calm and Think On.’ And yes, I think those pants would be better served on someone else. This week we have a 12-year-old child , secret societies, Nazis, inspiration, a group home, another 12-year-old child, alien invasion, and Wall Street and yes, another 12-year-old.  Playlist?  Got that too!

Let us begin!

John has finished The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.  “This is a brilliantly-crafted tour de force about the story of John Brown and his capture of the armory at Harpers Ferry.  Told as a retrospective oral narrative from the point of view of a twelve year-old slave, freed by Brown, it reads like a Mark Twain novel.  At times funny, sad, horrifying, and astonishingly tender, the importance of this book cannot be understated.  It is truly a masterpiece.  I needed to follow that with something a little different, so I opted for The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway.  If you are an Anglophile who likes intelligent, witty prose about time-travelling secret societies, then this book is for you.  I will say no more about it other than that it is wildly entertaining and written well enough to make you not feel like you’re slumming it.”

Barbara M is reading 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany by Steven Pressman. Bet you anything there were 12-year-old involved.  “In his attempt to rid Germany of Jews, Hitler encouraged them to leave before World War II started. Unfortunately, this was not always possible as few countries would take them in and even those who were granted visas often lacked the money to leave.  The author’s wife’s grandparents, Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, prominent members of the Jewish community in Philadelphia, decided to do something about the plight of Jewish children living in Austria under the Nazi regime.  Government regulations about bringing unaccompanied children into this country were strict and not easily circumvented but with the help of a few people, and with their determination, the Krauses succeeded in saving the lives of 50 children who otherwise might have perished. This is a heart-warming story of a courageous couple who found a way to do something they knew was righteous.”

Blanche!  A Librarian so legendary she needs only one name.  Like Cher.  Or Madonna.  They aren’t librarians, but you understand what I am saying. This is her yearly rare appearance and here is her take on Everybody's Got Something by Robin Roberts with Veronica Chambers.  “This is a touching and inspiring story about Robin’s fight against myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS as it is known. You can’t help but cheer her on from page one and I didn’t want to put the book down when I started to read it.

The Delightful Mallory is here with a surprise this week. “I hate movies.  I get bored easily, can't commit, and just generally don't find them engaging as a medium.  The last movie I saw in theaters was Les Misérables and that was only because my love for musicals and Hugh Jackman trumped my hatred for film.  I say all of this to let you know that if I'm recommending a movie, it's gotta be pretty darn good.  Short Term 12 follows Grace, a young 20-something, who works at a foster home for disadvantaged youth.  The movie opens with Grace and her peers giving advice to a new coworker.  It goes a little something like, ‘Lose the tie.  Don't be their friend.  They'll try and push you, just say no for a while.’  This is followed by a story of Mason, another group-home worker, who was so frightened on his first day on the job he actually pooped himself.  Even with the given advice, it's clear that Grace does nothing more than absolutely adore and advocate for each of the children in her care.  The film is equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting, as silly as it is raw, and above all, masterfully told in both cinematography and script.  I will recommend this movie to every human I meet until the end of time.”

The Fabulous Babs B is here with You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz.   “Grace Reinhart Sachs has it all.  She loves her husband who is a pediatric oncologist, is a successful marriage counselor and she is about to have her first book published. But when her husband goes missing, everything falls apart.   Not only has he cleaned out their joint checking account but he is a prime suspect for a murder!  Little by little, Grace realizes that the warning signs were there about her marriage unraveling and she chose to ignore them instead of practicing what she preaches. Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her herself  and their 12-year-old child if she wants to survive.  I found it interesting how easily she and her son adapted to their new life.  Not one of my favorite books but I had to finish it!”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is like a Tall Cool Texan Gerbil on a Wheel.  Literally.  I will let her explain.  “I love the recent hint of Spring and Summer in the air, and it has reminded me it’s time to get back to the gym.  Thank God for the library’s Hoopla service, because my time on the treadmill is so much more bearable when I am listening to a good audiobook.  The 5th Wave by Hugh Dancy is certainly making my gym time fly.  This may be one of my favorite dystopian novels since the Hunger Games.  A brutal alien invasion has nearly eradicated the human race by sending waves of darkness, tsunamis, disease, and deception to Earth.  The few humans unlucky enough to survive are racing to save the world before the next and final wave hits. Read it now before the next installment of the book, The Infinite Sea, comes out in September.  I also just started Flash Boys by Michael Lewis and so far I am thoroughly enjoying this look at the dark side of Wall Street. At times it's hard to believe this is non-fiction, because Lewis does such an amazing job of building the characters and explaining the complex financial markets.  So far, I can see why Flash Boys is on the top of everyone's must reads for this summer. “

DJ Patty McC is taking the SoNo Loft message to heart and is Keeping Calm but Thinking about Stuff just the same.  Here is Patty’s report from The State Up North and of course The Playlist.  Take it away Patty!  ”This week has been an interesting one weather-wise out here in the Midwest. In the space of a few days, we’ve experienced 87-degree temperatures, flash floods and tornado watches. It makes one ponder things happening to our planet that 97 percent of scientists agree on. The things that some media sources and politicians tell us, ‘It ain’t so!  Not all the evidence is in.’ Greenhouse gases are increasing, causing significant climate changes around the world. This is a fact. There is no magical thinking involved in this claim just data and hard science.  This week my 12 year-old-daughter had her first middle school tornado drill. This is old hat to me as I grew up in the Midwest. As a kid, my older sister derived pleasure by having us practice very precise and terrifying tornado preparedness drills. Those drills left me a fearful, neurotic mess. My daughter was unfazed by the tornado drill, but my 7-year-old-son appeared to be completely freaked out. I asked him if he was worried that we would have a tornado here. He shrugged. I very calmly and clearly explained that it was rare and that I had never had one in my town while I lived in Michigan. Then I lied and told him that it wouldn’t happen here and gave him our family plan should one occur. He spent the remainder of the day with his blanket firmly clenched between his first two fingers and thumb. We all need those touchstones; something that comforts us when life is unsure or off-kilter. It may not be socially acceptable for adults to carry around a blanket, but we have them nonetheless.  We can’t know what’s going to happen day-to-day but we do know that we can affect change NOW one tiny step at a time. So this week I encourage you to have a difficult, honest conversation with your children or a friend about something that takes you out of your comfort zone without freaking out and don’t forget your blankie. A little music might help.  At least it does for me.”





You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!  Consider this a Public Service Warning that you now have 48 hours to get it together and honor your Mom.  Being a mom is not easy work.  The hours are long, the pay stinks, you grow half a shoe size with each child and if that weren’t grim enough, some of us do that dance all alone without any support from the other piece of the parenting puzzle.  Couple that with it’s the only job that only ends when you do.  And who knows? Maybe not even then.   It doesn’t matter how old your children get, they are still the cause of fret and worry.  In the words of the wise and wonderful Priscilla S (her real name), “You are only as happy as your most unhappy child.” I loved the New Yorker cover this week.    What mother on the planet hasn’t had that moment?  I know for myself as the mother of two active boys it was a frequent occurrence and I considered the day a triumph if I did not hear the word ‘incident’ come from a teacher’s mouth.  (An aside to you new Moms out there; no good ever comes from an educator using the word incident. Trust me on this one.)   My cousins and I lost our mothers when they were relatively young and not a day goes by that we don’t miss them.  So call your mom!  Shower her with flowers and prettily wrapped gifts, pour her a big glass of whatever makes her happy, make her put her feet up and do her bidding. If, you are like me and the cousins and that’s not possible, do something in her honor that would make her proud.  She would like that very much. Do we have The Playlist?  Of course we do!  It’s a Friday.  This week we have a young writer, some moms, Rhode Island, journalists, London, sisters, criminal activites and some anxiety.

Let us begin!

Abby is reading The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair due out on May 27th. “One thing that attracts me to a book is when it doesn't remind me of anything else I've read. Even if I don't absolutely love the book, I have tremendous respect for originality. This is where I find myself with The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker.  Already an award winner and bestseller in Europe, it is a dense and original work that is an absorbing mix of romance, mystery, and literary fiction. Bouncing between the present  and the mid-1970's, Dicker tells the story of Marcus Goldman, a young writer who becomes the toast of the town following the debut of his first novel, but then gets hit by a crushing bout of writer's block. Under pressure from a demanding public and an impatient publisher, Marcus reaches out to his college mentor Harry Quebert to help him break it. But when details about Harry's past emerge, Marcus is determined to stand by Harry and clear his name.  This book is an interesting mix of Harry's writing, small town life, fame, loyalty, and the very nature of love.

Pat T is celebrating Mother’s Day in a literary way.  “This Mother’s Day I would like to bring to your  attention  Anna Quindlen, since the subject of her many novels touch on motherhood and family. In her book, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, she looks back on the days when she ‘lived everyday devoted to the welfare of three exuberant, emotionally exhausting children and had no clue about how these three children would change everything’. In Still Life with Breadcrumbs, Rebecca Winters, is a daughter, wife and mother whose life has been upended but she faces the challenges with a renewed energy.  In Black and Blue, and Every Last One, the mothers deal with challenges and tragedies with honesty, strength and courage.  I wish all you Moms a relaxing, carefree day, reading a good book!”

Sue S had reached completion! “I finished On the Rocks by Erin Duffy. When Abby is dumped by her fiancé via Facebook, she uses the summer in Rhode Island to find herself.  It was a good story with its funny points but it ultimately left me wanting in terms a good well rounded ending.”

Laura has two things this week that have made her happy.   “I am on the edge of my seat reading A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett.  It gives a great insight into the dare-devil world of freelance journalism. I am only half way through and I can't wait to sit down to read more.   I have also been enjoying the TV series Call the Midwife. I binge watched what I had on TiVo.  I love the characters and the London East Side stories that tear at your heart.  I am curious to read the actual diaries of these nurses from the book by Jennifer Worth.”

Pat S has just finished Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters by Diane Jacobs.  “I chose this book because I am a huge fan of the epistolary format and this volume didn't disappoint. Using the letters and journals of Abigail Adams and her sisters Mary Cranach and Elizabeth Peabody, Jacobs weaves a riveting narrative of the life and times of women in revolutionary times. While the lives of Abigail and John Adams take center stage, the women discuss everything from the day to day quotidian tasks of housekeeping and childrearing to the larger issues of gender inequality and the fast changing political landscape of the era. While the sisters were unusual at the time for their level of education, it makes this portrayal of women’s' lives no less fascinating.”

Steph has an announcement.  Listen up, People! “Attention Denise Mina fans: she’s back, and she’s still in great form! The Red Road is the latest in the Alex Morrow series, and it’s just as tense and well-written as the rest. Morrow once again finds herself accidentally immersed in a messy case, as well as dealing with her half-brother’s criminal activities constantly ricocheting into her day job. And the center of it all is the sad Scottish foster care system, and one violent night that has had consequences all the way into the present day. Mina continues to set the bar high for all other crime fiction writers. I am already looking forward to her next book.”

Here is DJ Jazzy Patty’s take on the weekend festivities!  And of course The Playlist.  “What do rappers and boy bands have in common you ask? They love their mommas and they wrote a song about it. I could talk about cards and flowers and brunch, but I think I’ll leave that to others. This Sunday is Mother’s Day and in the past, it was a day I worked. In the restaurant biz it was a day to be dreaded; rookies on parade. This year that is not the case, and for that I am grateful. I am grateful to be able to spend the day with my family. Nowadays being a mother is very complex as is the execution of that role. That is one of life’s great paradoxes. Parenting books abound and some offer good solid, no nonsense advice while others can leave you confused, massively insecure and curled up on the floor in a ball of anxiety. I’m only in chapter two of Jennifer Senior’s, All Joy And No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood but it’s good. It’s not a book about parenting per se but about parents and specifically written for middle class moms and dads. The book’s underpinnings of research, philosophy, psychology, her insights and observations make it a compelling read in the age of anxious parenting. As parents, we are given the profound gift of raising another human being and our lives and relationships are forever changed by it. So this Mother’s Day take some time off from anxiety and be kind to yourself and in the words of Mark Wahlberg,’ Say hi to your mother for me’”

You Are What You Read!

Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

This week was quiet for me.  Perhaps we are all still listening instead of talking?  Sweet Ann was quiet this week because she was under the weather but she is now on the mend and is grateful for it.  Her words of wisdom is really just one word.   Ann says Gratitude.  So reflect on that if you will.  Even the SoNo Loft is quiet this week as there are no messages hanging from the deck (Sorry Susan of Fairfield Cheese Company!).  Even though the weather was truly dismal for everyone this week (didn’t seem to matter where in the country you were: too wet, too dry, just meh), there were two things that went down that I considered Glad Tidings.  I love that the most eligible bachelor in Hollywood picked Brains over Bimbo in the selection of his fiancé.   There was a great piece on this in, of all places, the New York Post.  You can read it here.  I also loved that a certain franchise owner’s nasty mouth/attitude/beliefs got him in a whole lot of trouble and we won’t have to hear it anymore.  Ugly is as Ugly does and sometimes it is just reassuring that the Universe is indeed on top of this stuff, that good things can happen and justice is served.  It’s also nice to be around to see it.  This week we have Great Britain and Germany, emotional casualties, dog, tribes, Preps, more dog, Galveston, a Chief Resident, and a parade of historic figures!  Playlist?  Got that!

Let us begin!

Laura is doing lots of reading for her book group.  “Life After Life is my favorite book group pick of 2014, so far.  I enjoyed it more than Goldfinch but not by much.  Both authors, Atkinson and Tartt, drew me into the hearts of their protagonists but Atkinson's Ursula felt like a very close friend telling me all her travails of WWII, in all her reincarnations.   Ursula was engaging, giving a close perspective of someone personally enduring WWII from both the British and German sides. “

Jeanne is still doing one thing.  I think there is something very wrong with this and I am beyond concerned. “I watched Jayne Mansfield's Car, written, directed by and starring Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon and others. The cover says "Torn Apart. Driven Together." And they are. In 1969, in a small southern town, war has left its emotional casualties but ultimately human need creates some overdue and unusual family ties.”

The Ever Delightful Kim: Owner of Shiny Boat Shoes is reading Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler.   “Chelsea Handler has no filter when it comes to talking about her trip to another continent with her friends.  One of the most ridiculous conversations is when Chelsea is deciding whether or not to fly her dog on a private plane to another country because she believes he must miss her.  In all, this book is a page turner!”

Barbara M agrees with me about her pick this week. We cannot endorse this one highly enough.  One thing Barbara forgot to say is how much she loves the cover.  I do too!  It's amazing. “Lily King’s new novel, Euphoria, is very loosely based on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. Nell Stone and her husband Fen are studying tribes in New Guinea when they are befriended by a fellow anthropologist, Andrew Bankson, who becomes intimately entangled in their lives. The writing is beautiful and the tension of both the situations that arise and the relationships between the characters is palpable. This is definitely a book worth reading.”

The Fabulous Babs B has just finished The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene.   “Arthur Winthrop, like his father before him, is the Headmaster of an elite school in Vermont.  But nothing is what it appears to be in this brilliant and beautifully written story of a life gone awry.  After reading the first half of this book I thought to myself wow and little did I know the second half was even better. Finishing it, I found myself re-reading the first few chapters as to make sure I didn't miss anything in this complex story.  Part mystery, part love story, this is a layered story of love, unbearable loss and grief.  This was a quick read and I highly recommend it!”

The Tall Cool Texan Virginia is listening to her brother. As my brother will tell you, it’s something I should have done long ago. “It is amazing how much your family can influence your reading habits.  My brother first introduced me to James Rollins’ Sigma novels several years ago, and I have been a fan ever since.  So I was super excited to learn Rollins was introducing a new action series, The Kill Switch which features Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his brave companion, Kane a military working dog.  The novel has lots of action, and enough conspiracy to keep you guessing.  It’s coming out in May.  I also just finished and highly recommend, The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon, a psychological suspense novel, but with the under-current of a good old-fashioned ghost story.  Fair warning however, if you live in the woods then don’t read this when you are alone, because it is seriously creepy.  West Hall, Vermont is a town that has always been plagued with mysterious ghostly sightings and legends but when people begin to disappear, the secrets of a hundred years must come out, even if it reveals things better left in the woods.”

Claire of the Children’s Library is not reading anything remotely childlike.  But it’s making her happy.  Let it slide people!  “Galveston is True Detective creator, Nick Pizzolatto's first novel. The main character, Roy Cady, exudes a bit of Rust and Marty for any fans of the acclaimed HBO series. The opening scenes had me on edge as Roy barely escapes a bloodbath, fleeing New Orleans with a young prostitute in tow. As they both try to start new lives in East Texas and finally Galveston, Roy can't seem to leave the past behind. This has everything I want in a noir novel: a bleak motel, gritty but lovable hero, and enough twists and turns to keep me awake on Metro North.  According to the press they are already turning this gem into a movie. Galveston was also a finalist for the 2010 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.”

Steph is on a tear. “I’ve been obsessed with thrillers this week. Probably my favorite of the bunch will not surprise regular readers of this email: Doing Harm, by Kelly Parsons. After hearing Babs and Virginia rave about it, and then after Stephen King called it ‘the best damn medical thriller I've read in 25 years,’ I couldn’t resist. I found the ending a bit too neat, I thought the tension level was just perfect. And though I normally loathe arrogant characters, arrogant chief resident Steve Mitchell was the perfect protagonist. This would be a great beach book, especially for readers who love medical true crime like one of my recent favorites, The Good Nurse.”

I have another book from 12 that I am excited about.  You remember that I told you about 12? They are a division of The Hachette Book Group and they only publish 12 books a year.  By limiting it in this way they are all about the quality of the product.  You are pretty much guaranteed an amazing read if 12 is putting it out.  What is Visible is a debut novel by Kimberly Elkins and it is indeed remarkable.  Laura Bridgman.  Does the name ring a bell?  She was the most famous woman in the world in the 19th century after Queen Victoria and yet we have forgotten about her.  Laura was the first deaf and blind person to learn language under the care of Samuel Gridley Howe at the Perkins Institute in Boston.  It was Laura, in fact who ended up teaching Anne Sullivan the Tactile American Sign Language method that Sullivan then used to teach Helen Keller.  This book has a parade of historic figures such as Charles Dickens, Julia Ward Howe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and John Brown to name a few.  It is due out in early June and we have also purchased it for our Book in a Bag program for book groups.  It also has a great cover!  

DJ Patty McC is ruminating on one of the news stories mentioned earlier.  And no, it’s not about George Clooney’s engagement.  It could have been.  But it’s not.  Here is her Playlist for the week. “This July 2nd marks the 50-year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is something to celebrate and folks should hold some epic 4th of July parties in honor of how far we’ve come. How far have we come? I’ll give you a hint or better yet, let’s play a word association game. I’ll list all the things that have been troubling me as of late and you guess the theme. Ready…Set…GO! Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling, Dani Alves, and Affirmative Action in Michigan, are you sensing a theme yet? It would seem the time is ripe for some delicate discussions of race. This week I invite you to lead that elephant out of the room and into the daylight. Better yet, let’s bring that elephant outside for all to see and have a real candid, honest discussion about race in our country. In the words of Rodney King, “Can we all get along?” because in the end underneath it all, we are all the same.”

New DVD Releases

Here is what you can find new to the shelves in the upcoming days.

Syndicate content