Jeanne and Abby's MUOMS Selections

Jeanne and Abby's Picks
Jeanne and Abby's Picks

Jeanne's Picks

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon is a very funny novel about a woman in a midlife crisis who agrees to anonymously participate in a survey about marital happiness. Between her obsessive connections to Facebook, Google searches and the survey, this married mother of two gets caught between reality and fantasy, and discovers things both enlightening and world-rocking. 
 
*Optioned by Working Title in a major film deal.


Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shispstead
. Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Wedding plans are being finalized as his daughter prepares to marry the father of her unborn child. Shipstead cleverly weaves a tale of who’s who, boozy parties, disappointing houseguests and ultimately, what really matters.


The Red House by Mark Haddon. The Red House is a domestic drama set in England where every character is coming to terms with something or experiencing a revelation. Eight people who hardly know each other, though some are related, are stuck together for a week in the countryside. There are infatuations, quarrels, jealousies, undercurrents and alliances.

Translated from the Swedish

Drowned by Therese Bohman is set in the idyllic countryside during a short-lived Swedish summer, gets under your skin from the first page, creating an atmosphere of foreboding in which even the aroma of coffee becomes ominous. The story seems simple, but the reader will hold their breath wondering who did it and why.

So Pretty It Hurts by Kate White. Bailey Weggins, the thirty-something, true crime journalist featured in Kate White’s murder mysteries investigates and writes for Buzz, a leading celebrity magazine. She is invited to a weekend party in a music mogul’s mansion in upstate New York. The guest list has plenty of celebrities and plenty of problems. The relaxing weekend getaway turns out to be more like an Agatha Christie whodunit. In So Pretty It Hurts, Bailey once again finds herself a moving target—running closer to the truth and farther from safety.

Incendiary by Chris Cleave. In an emotionally raw voice alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor, a woman mourns the loss of her husband and son at the hands of one of history’s most notorious criminals. Her working-class life is blown apart when the stadium where her boy was is blown up by terrorists. Incendiary is this mother’s appeal in a letter to Osama bin Laden, as their executioner, to understand her very desperate sadness of a broken heart.


The Time In Between by Maria Duenas. The Town Sira Quiroga is a young Spanish dressmaker engaged to a solid suitor when a suave salesman comes into her life and turns it from ordinary to extraordinary, but uncertain. Spain is in a civil war and the new regime is cultivating alliances with Nazi Germany. The Time in Between will appeal to fans of romance novels as well as mystery and historical fiction.


Blind Sight by  Meg Howrey. Blind Sight introduces the seventeen-year-old narrator, Luke Prescott, who has been brought up in a bohemian matriarchy by his divorced New Age mother, a religious grandmother, and two precocious half-sisters. Having spent his lifetime agreeably between the poles of Eastern mysticism and New England Puritanism, Luke is fascinated by the new fields of brain science and believes in having evidence for his beliefs. He is writing his college applications when his father—a famous television star whom he never knew—calls and invites him to Los Angeles for the summer.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.  “It’s not you, it’s me — you’re great.” “I’m so sorry, but this just isn’t working out.” “I think we should see other people.” Whether it was the boy who dumped you in the sandbox for that kid with the bright red fire truck or the girl who abruptly stopped answering your notes during algebra, no one makes it through life without exposure to that miserable condition known as the breakup. And now we have Daniel Handler (who also writes as Lemony Snicket) giving us the lowdown on the rise and fall of one break in particular in Why We Broke Up.


Grilling for Life by Bobby Flay. Grilling is the most basic method of cooking there is. It dates back to the time of cavemen — food plus fire equals good. Healthy and never bland, Grilling for Life is my favorite grilling cookbook all year round; especially Smoky and Fiery Skirt Steak with Avocado-Oregano Relish and Grilled Chicken Breasts with Fontina and Prosciutto with Sage-Orange Vinaigrette.

 

Abby's Picks

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson. This week I am recommending two very different memoirs by two very different chefs. First is Yes,Chef by Marcus Samuelsson (June 26th release date.)  I always appreciate a memoir where the author is willing to take an honest look at their life choices, and I believe Samuelsson does just that.  Born in Ethiopia, Marcus (may I call you Marcus?) was orphaned at 18 months of age and along with his older sister,  adopted into a loving family in Sweden.  When Marcus learned the career he dreamed of as a professional soccer player was not to be, he joined the food service track in high school and found his real gift.  Stints in top kitchens around Europe proved a great training ground, but it was at Aquavit in NYC he found his stride and entered the world of culinary star. It's safe to say you don't reach those heights without a great deal of ambition and a few wrecked kitchens along the way.  It was relatively recent that Marcus developed a deep interest in his Ethiopian roots and he has incorporated that culture into his kitchen. He is now chef/owner of Red Rooster in Harlem, where I would love to dine. 

Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey. The second chef book is Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey.  Following her training at the French Culinary Institute Shockey followed the common path of arranging stages at various restaurants (basically unpaid internships consisting of crazy hours but with a huge opportunity to learn) each with their own focus. An interesting journey of culture and learning what you think and hope makes you really happy may not in fact bring you joy.

Trail Of The Spellmans
by Lisa Lutz. For a fun ride to greet the beach season, go with Lisa Lutz's Trail Of The Spellmans.  This one is the 5th entry in the entertaining Spellman Files series (also known as Document 5).  The Spellmans are a dysfunctional family of private detectives.  There's no such thing as normal when you have a family devoted to the gathering of leverage and unwillingness to accept concepts such as "privacy" and "personal space."

You Are What You Read!!!

This week we have more Zombies,a staff favorite,  a child star, clandestine intrigues, no heir and no spare can equal no head, Jackie O!, Paris (of course) and a ballerina.

Let us begin!

The Citizen Asha is up to her usual shenanigans. “I just finished reading Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry, the sequel to Rot & Ruin. It picks up where Rot & Ruin left off. I must say that I am a fan of this series.  Benny and his brother have formed a better relationship and Tom is teaching them to be warrior smart for their return to the Ruin to face the zombies.  However, there is something more sinister waiting for them there. I am waiting for the third installment Flesh & Bone to be released this September.” 

Marianne has revisited a Staff Favorite for her pick this week:  “My Library Book Group has just read and discussed Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. The story follows three friends, Katey, Eve and Tinker throughout the year of 1938. Tinker lives in the world of the wealthy while Katey and Eve are two career girls trying to scrape by in the Big City. This is, in part, a tale of how spontaneous choices can shape our entire lives. Comments from group members ranged from ‘wonderful picture of Manhattan in the late '30s,’ ‘author's phrasing and language were musical,’ to ‘I enjoyed it even more on the second reading.’"

Ann is working on What They Do in the Dark by Amanda Coe.  “I was intrigued by the premise of this story about two girls from different social classes in Manchester, England in the 70's and the infatuation one of them has with Lallie a child star of the time.  Gemma who has money and an interesting life is targeted by poor Pauline who has never experienced kindness in her short life.  These two girls will avoid each other and then come together to commit a terrible crime.  I would not recommend this book, the writing became confusing and after a while you did not really care about the characters or why they did the things they did.”

 As usual Pat S. has not one but two titles going on! Here is her take on The Rogues’ Gallery:  The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum by Michael Gross and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.  “ Rogue's Gallery  is a fascinating history of the Metropolitan Museum from its' inception to the world famous icon it is today. And don't think that this is boring because Gross has uncovered all kinds of clandestine intrigues through the years which keep the reader completely engaged-and more than a little surprised! He blows the dust off the myth of the stuffy academics with lofty art historical aims and introduces us to board members with too much money and way too little taste, ego's gone wild-you'll never look at the Sackler Galleries in the same way, and a whole lot more. This is a really fun and informative read. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel  re-creates a fictionalized Cromwell as he navigates the dicey road to ending Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn after she fails to provide him with the male heir he so desperately desires. Most of the novel takes place in Cromwell's head-an interesting device as we are introduced to the various characters and legal and moral issues he encounters wholly through his eyes. First and foremost, Mantel is a writer who has a love affair with the English language-and that is patently evident on each page.  The period details are such to make the book worth the read alone. However, we all know how it ends and it does get a bit slow going midway. Not sure if I'll make the finish line . . .”

Pat T. is “enjoying the latest Jackie book entitled Jackie After O: One Remarkable Year When Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Defied Expectations & Rediscovered Her Dreams by Tina Cassidy. The author writes about the year 1975 when Jackie was at a crossroads in her life-Aristotle Onassis died and her two children were becoming more independent. Jackie  was a good writer and an avid reader and she looked to the Publishing industry to begin another chapter in her ever evolving life. She went to work at Viking Publishing as an assistant editor and she proved to be a dedicated and creative worker. The author captures Jackie as vulnerable, yet confident as she stepped out as a professional woman!”

Abby says, “I always find it interesting to see how professional kitchens are organized. In the chef memoir Four Kitchens;  My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv and Paris, French Culinary Institute grad Lauren Shockey shares her experiences in 4 highly regarded professional kitchens.  Following graduation, Lauren arranged to complete 3 month stages (unpaid internships) in New York City, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris. In NY, she experienced working with molecular gastronomy using chemicals to create art on the plate; Hanoi was a more down to earth experience about flavor and freshness; Tel Aviv a melting pot of spices, and Paris, the height of 2 star culinary fussiness.  At the end of the journey Lauren shares her discovery that the profession kitchen lifestyle is incredibly grueling and creates too much distance from seeing people actually enjoy the food.  This was a nice journey of discovery. I plan to make the lamb meatballs with cucumber-yogurt sauce (pg. 34) this weekend.  

I am working on The Master’s Muse by Varley O’Connor. Tanaquil Le Clercq was the muse of George Balanchine and his also his 5th wife (!!??).  She was one of his principal dancers and while in Copenhagen in 1956 she contracted Polio.  This fictionalized account of their love affair and her illness is fascinating.  I cannot wait to find out how this fiery woman re-invents herself. 

Amanda and Sally's MUOMS Picks

Amanda and Sally's MUOMS
Amanda and Sally's MUOMS

Amanda's Picks

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.  All is not well in 1920's Alaska as a couple lives in near isolation together as they struggle to carve a life out of the forbidden landscape. Then one afternoon they share a playful moment and build a snowchild out of the fresh snow. In the morning, the snowchild is gone with only steps leading away from where the snowchild was. Is the child real or not real? Has their longing created a child out of snow, mittens, and a scarf?

The Tiffany Aching Adventures by Terry Prachett. One of my favorite humorists, Prachett delivers in this series a strong heroine who is practical, forthright, and independent who is trying to learn how to take care of the people in her homeland of the Chalk. She is their witch. However, growing up is hard for a witch and while trying to growing up, Tiffany makes her own share of mistakes and as the books come to the dark climax in I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany must face the consequences that came from fixing a prior mistake.

The Color of Earth by Tong-hwa Kim. These three graphic novels are about the author's mother's childhood in Korea prior to World War 2. The fresh honesty and prospective about growing up ring true and solid even a world away in another century. These books are beautifully illustrated and you find yourself turning the pages very quickly as you grow up alongside the heroine.

 

Sally's Picks

My Year With Eleanor : A Memoir  by  Noelle Hancock. This narrative nonfiction book introduces the character Noelle Hancock who has just lost her job. Noelle realizes that she has no idea what she wants out of life and also realizes that she is afraid of change. She bravely makes the decision to follow the words of Eleanor Roosevelt : "Do one thing every day that scares you". By using this quote as her mantra Noelle learns who she is and what she can become.

She Walks In Beauty : A Woman's Journey Through Poems  by Caroline Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy uses the world of poems to pay tribute to the complex and fascinating subject of womanhood. Her book covers a multitude of milestones including love, marriage, motherhood and grief. Such topics have an introductory page written by her which is then followed by a series of poems that support her thoughts.

Burn Down The Ground : A Memoir  by Kambri Crews. This memoir tells the story of young Kambri Crews, the daughter of deaf parents, and her childhood in rural Texas. Her mother, a kind woman who was fully involved in the deaf community, was a strong contrast to her father: an angry and violent man. This book explores the range of Kambri's feelings toward her father- love and adoration followed by fear and finally acceptance.

Blue Asylum : A Novel  by Kathy Hepinstall. This novel takes place during the Civil War, a time period where a woman's voice is rarely heard. The wife of a Southern plantation owner is arrested by her husband and tried in a court of law. It is determined that she is insane and she is sent to an asylum where she meets and falls in love with a Confederate soldier.

 I Wish I Were Engulfed In Flames  : My Insane Life Raising Two Boys With Autism by Jeni Decker. Jeni Decker's memoir details her life with two autistic sons, a husband who avoids household chores, an Australian Shepard and an albino frog. This sometimes shocking story tells of her determination to raise two healthy kids and hold onto her sanity at the same time. This book is funny and inspiring as we read of Jeni's wish to be the "new normal”

Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey : The Lost Legacy Of Highclere Castle by Fiona Carnarvon. This true story is a study in contrasts. First there is the difference between the rich who live an an Edwardian home called Highclere Castle and their servants who keep life there running smoothly. Secondly there is the relative ease of life in the castle and the difficulty of life at war. The main character, Lady Almina chooses to bridge that gap by tending to the wounded soldiers in her home.

 

 

Upcoming Films for May!

Here's a list of films that we will be getting this May! Feel free to call us at 203-669-5239 or email us at circ@darienlibrary.org to place a hold on any of the titles.

John and Claire's MUOM Picks

John and Claire's MUOMS Picks
John and Claire's MUOMS Picks

John's Picks:

 The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

One of the most riveting novels I've ever read.  This book sets you down behind the iron curtain of North Korea and immerses you in the insanity and naked brutality of the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il's regime.  Following a plot that is so bizarre that it can only be set in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, this story will make you look at the Hermit Kingdom in a whole new light.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

This translated fantasy novel is a hefty tome, but it is well worth the read.  It follows the story of two soul-mates whose paths have yet to reconnect.  In a world that is not quite right, mixed with mysterious undertones and dark forces, these two confront the demons of their past.  But will they ever reunite?

Claire's Picks:

Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found by Sophie Blackall

Illustrator Sophie Blackall gives her visual interpretations of the Craigslist personals. Inspired by her own "missed connection," Ms. Blackhall created a blog and subsequently this book to share these treasured encounters. From amusing entries such as "Furry Arms in Morning Lecture," to more poignant selections like, "The Whale at Coney Island," you will find yourself pouring over this charming collection.

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa by Michael Finkel

Read this unbelievable memoir before they finish making the film! New York Times Magazine journalist, Michael Finkel was fired from the newspaper as a result of his manipulation of facts in a cover story on child slavery in Africa. On the eve of the New York Times' announcement of his departure, Finkel receives a phone call from a reporter in Oregon asking about the murders. Christian Longo, a man accused of murdering his wife and three children, fled to Mexico and started impersonating Michael Finkel of the New York Times. As a result the former journalist reaches out to Longo and the two men embark on an unexpected friendship.

 

Janet and Elisabeth's MUOMS Picks

Janet and Elisabeth's Pile!
Janet and Elisabeth's Pile!

Janet's Picks: 

The Lifeboat -- by Charlotte Rogan

A debut novel, set two years after the Titanic disappeared in the Atlantic. Narrator Grace Winter has survived the disastrous sinking of another ocean liner and a long ordeal on a lifeboat, which drifted away from all hope of rescue and was lost at sea for several weeks. Aboard the leaky, small vessel are men, women, and children – some are working for the good of all, but others resort to hoarding the small food and water supplies and sabotaging efforts at survival. Grace, a newlywed who watched her husband give up his own chance at life to save her, must decide whose side she is on when it becomes clear that not all will survive.

"Being Elmo" (Doctumentary)

Even if “Sesame Street” isn’t a fixture on your DVR, the Muppet character Elmo is familiar to everyone – he’s the fuzzy red guy brought to life by puppeteer Kevin Clash. Looking behind the energetic Muppet to make a documentary about Clash seems unlikely, but “Being Elmo” succeeds because it’s an incredibly inspiring story. Kevin Clash grew up commandeering his mother’s sewing machine to create his own characters and entertaining daycare groups of children, all in preparation for the day when he would knock on Jim Henson’s studio door and see his dreams come true. A dedicated artist in his own right, Clash’s story will leave you in tears one moment and truly inspired the next. It’s a heartwarming film for children of all ages.

Elisabeth's Picks: 

The Wind Through the Keyhole -- By Stephen King

The Dark Tower Series is Stephen King’s opus. He wrote the first book when he was 23 years old. The seventh and final book in the series was published in 2004. Unlike many of his other full-length novels, the Dark Tower Series is not a horror story, but instead the tale of an epic quest. Roland is a gunslinger, a type of knight in a parallel world to our own. He is the last gunslinger left alive in his world. Roland’s world is “moving on” which is King’s Way of saying it is dying. In his journey to find out what’s destroying his world, Roland will journey into our world and back again to find out what is poisoning the dark tower, the center that holds all worlds together. This book takes place between the fourth and fifth book, but it is a stand-alone story. With the tiny bit of background information I just gave you, you can read and enjoy this new book and get a small glimpse into a different side of Stephen King.

Drift -- By Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow is the liberal host of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, and she’s now the author of one of the best reviewed non-fiction books of the season. Drift is about how far this country has drifted from Thomas Jefferson’s original goal of a country without a standing army. She examines the wars and policy changes which led to the United States becoming a nation that is involved in perpetual and extremely costly wars, and looks at ways we can get the American military back on course. Lest you think this book is just liberal propaganda, none other than Fox News CEO Roger Ailes blurbed it, saying “Rachel Maddow makes valid arguments that our country has been drifting towards questionable wars, draining our resources. Drift is a book worth reading.”

College Resources

Need help navigating the college admissions process? Let us be your guide!

We've put together a list of our favorite resources. We have books on rankings, insider secrets from the pros, choosing the best majors and even interview tips and early admissions help.

Make sure to stop by our display on the second floor and also check out these online resources before booking that next college tour!

U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2012

College Board

Student Aid

New York Times Topics: Colleges and Universities

Princeton Review: The College Essay

10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay

Finding the Right School

Department of Education College Prep Checklist

New Books This Week!

Here's a peek at our recently added books...

NPR Bestsellers: Fiction

NPR bestsellers for the week of April 19, 2012.

Sally and Sally's MUOMS Picks

It's the Sally show!
It's the Sally show!

Sally's (the one to the left) Picks

Making Piece -- by Beth Howard.  Beth's story of a year in her life revolves around two things: grieving the death of her husband and making apple pies. While the emotional side of the story was often gut-wrenchingly painful as well as occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, it was the pie-making interludes that captured my imagination. Her descriptions were so vivid and the instructions so approachable, it was all I could do not to put the book down and start baking then and there. Good news for reader/bakers-- she includes several recipes at the end of the book. If you try any of them, let us know how they turn out!

The Presidents Club : Inside The World's Most Exclusive Fraternity -- by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. This is a rich collection of stories about members of an uber-elite club: former presidents of the United States. Staying away from the obvious, the authors bring to light anecdotes about the relationships that developed after their terms were over. While there are any number of positive, uplifting stories within the book, it is the underhanded dealings that will keep the pages turning. Don't let its size deter you, the chapters can be read independent of each other. Dip in and read a bit here and there, you just might get hooked!

Sally's (the one on the right) Picks

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death and hope in a Mumbai undercity -- by Katherine Boo, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport.  As India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope that they will have a better life. With intelligence, humor and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another this book is an amazing read.  The New York Times Book Review calls this book "Extraordinary"-I couldn't agree more.

Icy Sparks -- by Gwyn Hyman Rubio. This is the story of Icy, a ten year old girl growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky during the 1950's.  Icy is unable to control the croaks, groans and spasms that afflict her- as an adult she will learn that she has Tourette's Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder.  Icy is tormented by her classmates and removed from school and sent to an asylum.  When Icy returns home she begins a friendship with eccentric Miss Emily who knows first-hand how it feels to be an outcast.  Both sad and funny, Icy Sparks is a New York Times Notable Book.

 

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