This week has felt like nothing so much as one step forward and two steps back. It began with so much promise too! I enjoyed my first run down to the water since December on Monday evening. There was a gently setting sun, a new pair of kicks, a softening of the ground, a whisper of warmth in the briny air and the promise of better days. This all circled the drain the very next day when the temperatures plummeted and on Wednesday snow bedeviled my morning walk to the train. My poor sister-in-law shared a picture of her garden on St. Patrick’s Day encased in at least 6 inches of ice and snow. She was wondering how she was going to get her peas planted. The answer is, sorry Cathy, you’re not. There are no fresh peas on the Tundra. Add to this misery, my third cold of the season (seriously? I am practically bullet proof! I never get sick, truly) and I am finding it hard to find any hope or promise of better things to come at this point. But then I noticed something as I was walking to work. I noticed a bona fide, true miracle. The witch hazel bush that lives on the corner of Thorndal Circle and the Post Road in the Nielsen’s parking lot was, wait for it, BLOOMING! There was a living thing. OUTSIDE. WITH FLOWERS ON IT! So if you, like me, are at the point where you feel in your heart there is no hope to be found, and your soul is weary and grey like the snow left on the side of the road, get yourself over to Nielsen’s and check out the Witch Hazel. It just may make you feel better or it just may make you finally book that one-way flight to points South. Your choice. This week we have an accident, civil rights, a library, Walter Reed, France, NYC, a frozen pond, and a dicey trip on a luxury liner. We may be cold but there will always be The Playlist.
Let us begin!
Sweet Ann is here this week. And I for one want to know when we are going to see an Egg Tree. Ann? Ann? Anyway, here is what she thinks of The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. “This is an engrossing, well written novel about a young man named Matthew who is a schizophrenic. Matthew narrates the story as a young man reflecting on his childhood and the death of his older brother Simon. When Matthew was nine years old there was an accident and his twelve-year-old brother, Simon, who had Down syndrome died. Matthew has blamed himself for years for Simon's death. Matthew shares his reflections, his relationship with his parents and his mental anguish. The author changed the typeface of the book at times to reflect Matthew's mental state which really helped to convey his emotions. I found this book to be fast paced and engrossing. I highly recommend it.”
Barbara M is out of her comfort zone with this week’s read. ”I’ve just finished reading March: Book Two the second non-fiction graphic novel by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. It is the story of incredibly courageous people enduring horrible consequences while fighting for their basic rights, the rights most of us take for granted. This is the history of the Civil Rights movement in this country as I’ve never heard it told before, written by a man who was an integral part of it. Congressman John Lewis was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was one of the six people who spoke at the 1963 March on Washington. He is the only one still alive. The book is powerful and moving and should be required reading for any High School student studying American History. “
Pat T, as usual, can be found listening. “I took a patron's suggestion to read this short, imaginative tale by the author who also wrote Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. I listened to the audio of The Strange Library, by Haruki Murakami. I must say I found the young boy to be very endearing when he would say, ‘My mother taught me.... to return books on time; if you knock on a door you have to wait there until someone answers it and when you want to know something look it up in the library.’ His mother's instructions get him into trouble when he is directed to Room 107 in search of books about how taxes were collected during the Ottoman Empire. There he encounters a very strange man who imprisons him in the basement of the library. Things then proceed to get dark and curiouser and curiouser, similar to Alice in Wonderland when she went down the rabbit hole.”
Diane just finished Blue Stars written by Emily Gray Tedrowe. “This novel recounts the lives of Ellen, a Midwestern college professor whose guardian has enlisted in the Marines, and Lacey, a Bronx native married to a career Army man always struggling to make ends meet. The novel brings these two women and their families together at Walter Reed Medical Center. The daily stress, frustration and bureaucracy involved with the care and decisions being made for their injured family members are mixed with the long term realities. Adding to this stress, are the deplorable conditions many families face during temporary housing while on the Walter Reed Campus .I really enjoyed this very emotional story.”
Babs B can’t stop talking about how much she loves The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. “It is 1939 France and the quiet village of Carriveau is on the brink of changing forever. The once peaceful and bucolic town has turned into a horrific show of airplanes, war tanks, bombs and Nazis. Vianne Mauriac, the young wife of a recently drafted soldier, is obligated to house a Nazi. Her rebellious sister Isabelle, chooses the dangerous path of joining the French Resistance. This was a great historical fiction novel and I thought the author did a wonderful job explaining this complex story and taking the time to make the reader understand the complex characters and their journey throughout the book. I even gave up one of my favorite TV shows because I loved this book so much!”
The Always Delightful Pat S never wastes her time on silliness so let’s see what she thinks of The Whites by Richard Price. “As you know, Crime and Detective/Mystery are not really genres I read often but I made an exception in this case because the buzz has been so hot. Situated in New York City, we are introduced to Billy Graves, who holds a position as a detective in the graveyard shift which is essentially a placeholder until he reaches retirement. But once he was part of a young and aggressive group of crime fighters known as the Wild Geese who all graduated from the Police Academy together. As we are introduced to the other four ‘Geese” we see that time and experience have beaten them down. Each has had a traumatic encounter with some heinous thug which has left them deeply disillusioned, made all the more so by the fact that these thugs were never brought to justice. Until now as one by one, the various perpetrators are being found dead throughout the city and it falls to Billy to investigate. The mystery is not the most compelling feature here, it is the writing. Rarely has the grittiness of New York’s boroughs been so keenly described. Price does a brilliant job of painting the barren emotional landscape after twenty years on the job for these policemen. Overwhelmingly, the reader is left with a sense of hopelessness because good doesn’t always trump evil. Not for the faint of heart!”
Sue is reading a fiction and a non-fiction book this week and she is enjoying them both. “My fiction choice is The Winter People by Rebekah L. Purdy. Salome Montgomery truly fears winter, unlike those of us who are just sick and tired of it. She’s not a fan of the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all she is afraid of the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn't forgotten their warning to ’stay away.’ I am really enjoying reading this book and I highly recommend it to those who also share a love of all things otherworldly! My non-fiction choice is Dead Wake; The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. On May 1, 1915, a richly appointed luxury ocean liner sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious and rightly so with the knowledge that Germany had changed the rules of war to include attacking passenger ships. Erik Larson's writing makes me feel like I am on the decks of the ship where you can feel the intensity and uncertainty of war around you. Dead Wake is a page turner and a must read!”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named with our final thoughts of the week and of course, The Playlist. What’s good Pats? “I know we’ve all had it with winter. We said goodbye to Phil last week. We are more than ready for spring. But there’s been a new development. I’ve been told by my conspiracy loving friend that there’s a final email circulating from the rodents. Phil’s still down under, soaking up the last of the summer rays, chilling in the surf, practicing the putt and consuming beverages topped with umbrellas. He’s angered his band of rogue rodents who’ve been left behind due to new airline restrictions. They’ve said they’re planning an early April Fool’s Day joke. Phil is flying back Friday and they’ve decided that his arrival should include some flurries, maybe more than a few, a last winter blast that will sting. Apparently rodents hold a grudge and have a long memory. Wishing us all springtime weather soon.”
DL ENOUGH ALREADY BRING SPRING!! 2015
It is like the Aurora Borealis and our Amanda collided! Today she presented fantasy to the Meet Us On Main Street group including a popular YA title about the polar region including the northern lights! Well timed Amanda! She continued the atmospheric theme with stories about mythological heros from Olympus, theives who steal lightning, lost heroes that fly dragons, Polish folktales, and others. As well, Amanda recently returned from a vacation in Iceland (the northern lights may be year round up there). To entice us, she showed us the two workhorse travel books she used for her trip and highly recommends Iceland as a wonderful get-away-from-it-all destination. Husband and she loved the wild and windswept countryside, air temperatures averaging a balmy 33 degrees (ice storms included)! On the more serious side, as we know Amanda helps us in many things technical and researchy, her pile of books included how to fix your IPhone, archive your momentos, research geneology, and basic techniques on OS X and iOS. Beyond the technical titles, the MUOMS group talked about favorites they have recently read -- the trapped Chilean miners true story sounds absorbing. The list begins below:
Here are the new titles available from OverDrive.
A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
I Hate Myselfie A Collection of Essays by Shane Dawson
It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario
Spring Chicken Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) by Bill Gifford
The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M. J. Rose
Here are the new titles available from 3M.
Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!
This week's list is all about what your neighbors are enjoying. Here are the top 5 downloads for the month so far. And remember you don't have to wait! Immediate gratification can be yours!
Not sure what this means? Click here!
Did you hear that? Did you hear that collective sigh of relief when the mercury in the thermometer edged up past 32 degrees, when the snow started melting and when the stuff coming down from the sky was just water? I think that we have turned a corner here, People. Sure, it’s still less than charming out there but our standards are so low at this point that just that little bit of improvement does wonders. I swear it’s like all my Train Friends have had Prozac slipped into their hot beverage of choice, so buoyant is the atmosphere on the platforms. The words from The SoNo Loft are Kickstart Your Life. Timely, given that when the weather makes that turn for the better, you feel like things are possible again. One more week of Winter, People! Hold tight! We can do it. The Fitbit Challenge update: As many of you who visit are aware we were soundly thrashed by our friends up the road. We salute you Fairfield Public! We salute you and what have to be the bloody stumps that you all now call your legs. This week we have some fuss, some Grace, naughtiness, charisma and a hot mess. Of course, we have The Playlist.
Let us begin!
Asha. Sometimes she’s here and sometimes she’s not. Here’s what she gathered up from the last time she was here. “I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Girl on the Train and I can see why people would be enthralled by it; the voyeuristic aspect, the unreliability of our narrator, and the utter failure that is her life. Still, I was disappointed, mostly because rather early on I was aware of who did the act and why. This is not to say that it wasn't a good book, I just wished it was a bit more insidious and not so lacking in its sketchiness. I'm not sure what that says about me as a person.”
Diane is new to YAWYR and Darien Library. She can be spotted on the Welcome Desk. Welcome Diane! “Saving Grace by Jane Green is a book I would like to recommend. Meet Grace and Ted Chapman a well-respected couple living outside New York City. Ted is an author and Grace is an active volunteer in their community. Life becomes chaotic when Ted's longtime assistant leaves her job and Ted can't handle his career without her. He becomes nasty, threatening and difficult to live with. When a young woman appears in the couple's life, Ted's life finds balance again while Grace suddenly finds hers falling apart. The book had a slow start but suspense and mystery became part of the story. In the end I couldn't put the book down.”
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is here with an old favorite that she somehow missed. “Delicious and a little bit naughty, but laced with a sharp edge of regret and sorrow is how I would describe Charles Dubow’s book, Indiscretion. Harry and Madeleine Winslow are the quintessential East coast couple. You know the type: gorgeous, successful, with the brownstone in NYC, and the cottage in the Hamptons. Harry and Maddy have been married for twenty years with a beautiful child, and are still madly in love with each other. Together they radiate that special charisma that draws people in and makes them feel at home. Like a moth to a flame, that very magnetism draws in a young woman who will ultimately shatter the idyllic world of the Winslow’s in tragic ways. One of the things I most enjoyed about the book is the narrator, Maddy’s childhood friend, Walter, whose reflection provides insight, and innate Waspish tone provides moments of humor. This was a book that made me long for a beach, a sunset and, of course, an umbrella drink. Luckily Dubow’s second book, Girl in the Moonlight, is being released soon. “
Steph! What’cha doing? “Everyone seems to be on the hunt for lighter reads now that the snow is finally melting. As a result, I am gearing up to recommend The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (recognize those names? perhaps you know their amazing snarky fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself?) when it comes out in a few weeks. The Royal We is their retelling of the courtship of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and both women are notoriously obsessed with that coupling, so you know this’ll be good. In this story, Prince William becomes Prince Nicholas, and Kate becomes Bex, an American who literally runs into him on her first day studying abroad at Oxford. Despite everything, they fall madly in love, but when their love goes from secret fling to something more serious, the drama increases about as much as you’d expect. Hysterically funny and such a delight to read, but not too frothy, there’s enough seriousness to the plot that gives it more depth than a tabloid rehash. I predict that this will be one of the big beach reads of 2015. Anyone who had opinions on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress (or Pippa’s dress, for that matter!) will love this one.”
On the one day a week that I drive to work I can be found in my tiny little car listening to the totally charming I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style with a Twist by Betty Halbreich and read by Jane Curtin. Babs B pressed it into my hands promising me that I would soon be in love with Betty. And as usual, Babs is right. Eighty-six-year-old Betty has spent nearly 40 years at the Shopping Mecca that is Bergdorf Goodman. She has seen a lot; the good, the bad, and the severely unfortunate and she’s not afraid to tell you to take that hot mess off, put down that over-priced handbag and remind you that to look good is to feel good. Jane Curtin is doing an amazing job of bringing Betty and her story to life. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
DJ Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named. “This has been a week of endings but also an opportunity for beginnings. This week we offer our condolences over the death of our friend, and library lover Lisa Bonchek Adams. She asked me a few years ago to remind everyone that she was not ‘lost’ and that she never ‘gave up a battle’. Cancer doesn’t work like that and the language that our society uses to discuss it bothered Lisa. She will be missed by the thousands of lives she touched through her kindness and grace. I think she would have liked this week’s playlist. In honor of Lisa’s daily mantra, let’s all go out, find a bit of beauty in the world and share it.”