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Kristi & Abby the Tabby read together in 2014
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A month of summer [electronic resource]
*** stars. A Month of Summer by Lisa Wingate. For Rebecca Macklin, an ordinary summer brings about an extraordinary change of heart when she discovers that her aging father has been wandering the Dallas streets alone, and his wife, Hanna Beth, has landed in a nursing home. Now Rebecca must put aside old resentments and return to her childhood home. In this moving story of separation and forgiveness, two women will unravel the betrayals of the past and discover the true meaning of family. **** I had to obtain this book thru Inter-Library Loan. Hennepin County does not have a copy of the book or audiobook. Ms. Wingate is a "Christian" author. I did not realize this when I requested the book because of a review concerning the reconciliation of a family. Her religious aspects are not heavy-handed. She does a nice job of character development. You want a resolution of years of secrets and misunderstandings. She does what I believe is an excellent job of portraying the point of view of a stroke survivor. Recommend unless you do not want a Christian perspective.
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Cover Art: The Darlings /
The Darlings
Alger, Cristina
* 1/2 stars. Now that he's married to Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to New York society and all of its luxuries: a Park Avenue apartment, weekends in the Hamptons, hand tailored suits. When Paul loses his job, Carter offers him the chance to head the legal team at his hedge fund. Thrilled with his good fortune in the midst of the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression, Paul accepts the position. But Paul's luck is about to shift: a tragic event catapults the Darling family into the media spotlight, a regulatory investigation, and a red-hot scandal with enormous implications for everyone involved. Suddenly, Paul must decide where his loyalties lie. Will he save himself while betraying his wife and in-laws or protect the family business at all costs? **** Sorry, this is a poorly disguised Bernie Madoff saga. I did not empathize with any of the characters. In fact, I hoped they would all learn their lessons. Cannot recommend.
Adult Fiction ALGER
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Cover Art: Summer rental [sound recording] /
Summer rental [sound recording]
Andrews, Mary Kay, 1954-
** stars. Ellis, Julia, and Dorie, Best friends since Catholic grade school, now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she's made over the past decade of her life. Julia has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she feels deeply insecure about her looks, her brains, her life. And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina's Outer Banks is just what they each of them needs. Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he's hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he's ever cared about. Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity. Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs? **** This is not a bad book, but it was a little too much of a "chick lit" book for me. Now that I am an elderly curmudgeon I have ceased to held entranced by the suspense of "will boy and girl finally get together??". The answer is always yes. Sometimes the process to yes is very engaging - sometimes not...
Adult Fiction ANDREWS
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Cover Art: Black skies [sound recording] /
Black skies [sound recording]
Arnaldur Indriðason, 1961-
**** STARS. A man is making a crude leather mask with slits for eyes and mouth, and an iron spike fixed in the middle of the forehead. It is a 'death mask', once used by Icelandic farmers to slaughter calves. He has revenge in mind. Meanwhile, with Detective Erlendur absent, his colleague Sigurdur Oli is in the spotlight. A school reunion has left Sigurdur Oli dissatisfied with life in the police force. Iceland is enjoying an economic boom and young tycoons are busy partying with the international jet set. In contrast, Sigurdur Oli's relationship is on the rocks and soon even his position in the CID is compromised: when he agrees to visit a couple of blackmailers as a favour to a friend he walks in just as a woman is beaten unconscious. When she dies, Sigurdur Oli has a murder investigation on his hands. The evidence leads to debt collectors, extortionists, swinging parties. But when a chance link connects these inquiries to the activities of a group of young bankers, Sigurdur Oli finds himself investigating the very elite he had envied. Moving from the villas of Reykjavik's banking elite to a sordid basement flat, "Black Skies" is a superb story of greed, pride and murder **** This is the 8th book in this Reykjavik, Iceland police procedural series. Arnaldur Indriðason writes a GREAT mystery. His characters are well drawn and lead you to want to read the next book as much to find out what is happening with the protagonists as with the storyline itself. He cleverly links all the pieces of this story so that nothing is extraneous as you reach the conclusion. With a caveat that the books have reveal a very dark side of human behavior, I am a huge fan of this author and series. HIGHLY RECOMMEND series. As always I suggest beginning with the first book in the series, "Jar City".
Adult Fiction
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Cover Art: The apartment : a novel /
The apartment : a novel
Baxter, Greg
1/2 stars. One snowy December morning in an old European city, an American man leaves his shabby hotel to meet a local woman who has agreed to help him search for an apartment to rent. THE APARTMENT follows the couple across a blurry, illogical, and frozen city into a past the man is hoping to forget, and leaves them at the doorstep of an uncertain future—their cityscape punctuated by the man’s lingering memories of time spent in Iraq and the life he abandoned in the United States. Contained within the details of this day is a complex meditation on America’s relationship with the rest of the world, an unflinching glimpse at the permanence of guilt and despair, and an exploration into our desire to cure violence with violence. **** This book has been well reviewed, but I simply could not identify with either character. I did not find the insights or meditations described above. There are no aha moments of self understanding. There is no narrative arc. There is no ending. I can't even remember if they found an apartment... This is a stream of consciousness book a la "Ulysses". I sometimes think that positive reviewers of such books praise them because they don't want to admit they did not understand them. As a phi beta kappa, summa cum lauda college graduate and former college teacher, I think I am smart enough to understand most modern literature, but I did not find the nuances ascribed to this little book.
Adult Fiction BAXTER
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Cover Art: The aviator's wife [sound recording] /
The aviator's wife [sound recording]
Benjamin, Melanie
**** stars. For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong. Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements (she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States) Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness. ****** Most books involving Charles Lindbergh focus upon the aviator and not his wife. I was aware before reading the book that he was a flawed man who did not see the evil in Nazi leaders and their intentions. This book reveals, through the eyes of his wife, an even more damaged man whose ego is so strong that he interferes with the police actions to find his kidnapped child and so weak that he cannot love. I found the historical context of Lindbergh's accomplishments and his worship as a hero in his time juxtaposed with the anti-hero as gullible Nazi supporter and horrible husband and father to be more believable than the biographies that have focused more upon only his more public life. This is a novel, not non-fiction, but it rings with the feeling of truth. Highly recommend as a unique perspective!!
Adult Fiction BENJAMI
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Cover Art: Portrait of an unknown woman /
Portrait of an unknown woman
Bennett, Vanora, 1962-
**** stars This very well written book is set during the reign of King Henry VIII and told from the point of view of a ward of Thomas More named Meg. This is the time when Lutherans and other Protestant adherents could be tortured or burned at the stake for their beliefs. Meanwhile King Henry VIII wants to remove the rule of the Pope in England so that he can have his legal marriage annulled and marry Anne Boleyn. Into this mix arrives Hans Holbein. The narrative focuses on two paintings, a portrait of the More family and one of two French Ambassadors. Eventually Thomas More becomes Lord Chancellor for Henry. We also encounter a possible explanation for the disappearance of the two princes locked in the Tower of London by King Richard III. Meg becomes the strongest voice for tolerance and finds it particularly difficult when Thomas More must act against the protestants as the King's Chancellor. The art history is fascinating as the author interprets hidden symbols and artifacts in the paintings of Holbein. I had to look up the two paintings to see the images directly. I think the author did a great job of telling a very readable story of the complexity of the religion, art, and politics of the era. I think Thomas More is "forgiven" a little too easily for this own cruel acts, but other than that, I found this to be a terrific book. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Adult Fiction BENNETT
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Cover Art: The ghost at the table : a novel /
The ghost at the table : a novel
Berne, Suzanne.
1/2 * Strikingly different since childhood and leading very dissimilar lives now, sisters Frances and Cynthia have nevertheless managed to remain "devoted" AS long as they stay on opposite coasts. But with the reappearance of their elderly, long-estranged father they find themselves reunited for a cold, snowy Thanksgiving week a reunion that awakens sleeping tensions and old sorrows. Frances envisions a happy family holiday with her husband and daughters in her lovely old New England farmhouse. Cynthia, a writer of historical fiction, doesn't understand how Frances can ignore the past their father's presence revives, a past that includes suspicions about their mother's death twenty-five years earlier. Adding to her uneasiness is her research for a book on Mark Twain's daughters, whose lives she thinks eerily mirror her own and Frances's. As Thanksgiving day arrives, with a houseful of guests looking forward to dinner, the sisters continue to struggle with different versions of their shared past. The Ghost at the Table reveals what happens when one person tries to rewrite another's history and explores the mystery of why families try to stay together even when it may be in their best interests to stay apart. **** I did not bond with these sisters. I was left with unresolved issues and seeming total misperceptions of reality, not only on the part of the sisters, but also by Frances's husband. Who made a pass at whom? How did their mother die? Is the daughter self-injuring? Does anyone care about the children? I guess my opinion is that they should have skipped the dinner and I should have skipped the book.
Adult Fiction BERNE
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Cover Art: Chestnut Street [sound recording] /
Chestnut Street [sound recording]
Binchy, Maeve.
Adult Fiction BINCHY
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Cover Art: Elegy for April [sound recording] : [a novel] /
Elegy for April [sound recording] : [a novel]
Black, Benjamin, 1945-
Adult Fiction BLACK
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Cover Art: The light in the ruins [sound recording] /
The light in the ruins [sound recording]
Bohjalian, Chris, 1960-
Adult Fiction BOHJALI
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Cover Art: Palisades Park /
Palisades Park
Brennert, Alan.
Adult Fiction BRENNER
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Cover Art: Letters from Skye : a novel /
Letters from Skye : a novel
Brockmole, Jessica
*** 1/2 stars A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart. March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive. June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago. Well written, lovely book about secrets of love and loss kept for years and the value of love whether it involves only words on paper or years of togetherness.
Adult Fiction BROCKMO
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Cover Art: Wayfaring stranger [sound recording] : a novel /
Wayfaring stranger [sound recording] : a novel
Burke, James Lee, 1936-
**** stars. In 1934, sixteen-year-old Weldon Avery Holland happens upon infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow after one of their notorious armed robberies. A confrontation with the outlaws ends with Weldon firing a gun and being unsure whether it hit its mark. Ten years later, Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland barely survives the Battle of the Bulge, in the process saving the lives of his sergeant, Hershel Pine, and a young Spanish prisoner of war, Rosita Lowenstein,a woman who holds the same romantic power over him as the strawberry blonde Bonnie Parker, and is equally mysterious. The three return to Texas where Weldon and Hershel get in on the ground floor of the new oil business. In just a few years Weldon will spar with the jackals of the industry, rub shoulders with dangerous men, and win and lose fortunes twice over. But it is the prospect of losing his one true love that will spur his most reckless, courageous act yet, one that takes its inspiration from that encounter long ago with the outlaws of his youth. A tender love story and pulse-pounding thriller that crosses continents and decades of American history, Wayfaring Stranger is a sprawling historical epic full of courage and loyalty and optimism and good-heartedness that reads like an ode to the American Dream. **** I have been in love with the novels and characters ( especially Dave Robicheaux ) of James Lee Burke for 27 years. His novels hold a special kind of love and loyalty between men and women and men and their friends. Mr. Burke's characters will change from hard-boiled detectives into believers in the mysticism of history's ability to create awe in such forms as the sounds of a Civil War Army. I am amazed at the ability of this author to show love and honor that are deep and endless and turn around and create a character like Dave's friend Cletus who is an out-of-control, hard-drinking, wisea** who still always has his back. I have never been disappointed by his mysteries or novels. I believe he has grown in integrity and writing over the years as an author and a man. How can you not love a man who says: “It has been my experience that most human stories are circular rather than linear. Regardless of the path we choose, we somehow end up where we commenced - in part, I suspect, because the child who lives in us goes along for the ride.” “writing is like being in love. You never get better at it or learn more about it. The day you think you do is the day you lose it. Robert Frost called his work a lover's quarrel with the world. It's ongoing. It has neither a beginning nor an end. You don't have to worry about learning things. The fire of one's art burns all the impurities from the vessel that contains it.”
Adult Fiction BURKE
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Cover Art: Necessary lies /
Necessary lies
Chamberlain, Diane, 1950-
*** 1/2 stars After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm. As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give. When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed. She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband. But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm — secrets much darker than she would have guessed. Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong. Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy. Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong? The United States Eugenics program involving often "involuntary" sterilization, especially of the poor and people of color decreased after WWII because of its similarities to the Nazi eugenics horrors. It did not end completely in this country, however, until the 1960's or early 1970's. In 2001, the Virginia General Assembly acknowledged that the sterilization law was based on faulty science and expressed its "profound regret over the Commonwealth's role in the eugenics movement in this country and over the damage done in its name. You will discover the origin of the title and meet two wonderfully developed characters in Jane and Ivy. Well written. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Adult Fiction CHAMBER
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Cover Art: The Rose variations /
The Rose variations
Chamberlain, Marisha.
*** STARS. In 1975, twenty-five-year-old Rose MacGregor moves to St. Paul, Minnesota, with nothing but a few books, her cello, and a temporary professorship at a Midwestern college. The only woman in the music department, the other professors refer to her derisively as “the Girl Composer,” but she believes that a brilliant career writing music lies ahead. Passionately focused on her art, she also longs to find love, but her fierce independence always seems to get in the way of romantic relationships. Struggling with loneliness and ambition, she gets tangled up with a gay colleague, a self-made stonemason, a lesbian cellist, and the troubles of her wayward younger sister. **** This is the first novel of a poet / playwright who lives in Hastings. I was curious about a new local author and the Minnesota setting. I wandered in and out of enjoyment of the book, perhaps because of the "wandering" of Rose from crisis to crisis in others' lives and settings. I think the book tries to do a little too much and would have been more enjoyable without a dozen different story lines. Still I ended up with more positive feelings than negative and look forward to this author's next outing. I believe she is excellent at character development and recommend the book.
Adult Fiction CHAMBER
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Cover Art: Await your reply : a novel /
Await your reply : a novel
Chaon, Dan.
*** stars WOW what a convoluted novel - you cannot let your attention stray for a moment.... The lives of three strangers interconnect in unforeseen ways–and with unexpected consequences. Longing to get on with his life, Miles Cheshire nevertheless can’t stop searching for his troubled twin brother, Hayden, who has been missing for ten years. Hayden has covered his tracks skillfully, moving stealthily from place to place, managing along the way to hold down various jobs and seem, to the people he meets, entirely normal. But some version of the truth is always concealed. A few days after graduating from high school, Lucy Lattimore sneaks away from the small town of Pompey, Ohio, with her charismatic former history teacher. They arrive in Nebraska, in the middle of nowhere, at a long-deserted motel next to a dried-up reservoir, to figure out the next move on their path to a new life. But soon Lucy begins to feel quietly uneasy. My whole life is a lie, thinks Ryan Schuyler, who has recently learned some shocking news. In response, he walks off the Northwestern University campus, hops on a bus, and breaks loose from his existence, which suddenly seems abstract and tenuous. Presumed dead, Ryan decides to remake himself–through unconventional and precarious means. Just when you think you know the identity of a character... you may be wrong. This is a brutally stark novel of identity theft - alienation - physical and mental torture. Very well written, but NOT a happy read. Recommend with a strong caveat!!
Adult Fiction CHAON
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Cover Art: Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker [sound recording] : [a novel] /
Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker [sound recording] : [a novel]
Chiaverini, Jennifer.
** 1/2 stars. In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents an account of the friendship that grew between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, thus becoming a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife. In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son to illness, and then her husband to assassination. Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, "Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House". Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives. ***** I wanted to like this book more than I did. While supposed to be an historical NOVEL, it reads more as an history of events we have heard told many times. I would have liked to have more insight into Elizabeth Keckly and her life outside her interactions with Mrs. Lincoln even if there is scant historical documentation of how she rose from slave to modiste. This is supposed to be fiction - Ms. Chiaverini, bring the struggles of this woman to life!! Ms Keckly is obviously an extraordinary and intelligent woman, but how exactly did she gain the education she needed to speak as she did in the novel ( if she did indeed speak so articulately ) and to write her autobiography in an era when a slave could be killed or at least severely punished for simply learning how to read. Too much historical Lincoln and not enough fictional dressmaker. If you are writing a novel about a character, make her come to life!! Mild recommendation if you are interested in the Lincoln White House.
Adult Fiction CHIAVER
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Cover Art: The Devil and Miss Prym : a novel of temptation /
The Devil and Miss Prym : a novel of temptation
Coelho, Paulo
1/2 star. A struggle between good and evil unfolds in this fable. When a stranger arrives in an isolated mountain village, he brings with him a devilish offer: If anybody in the town is murdered within a week, every surviving resident will receive a fortune in gold. His evil instigation throws the townspeople into a moral dilemma. This is a moral parable with many references to Biblical temptations. I prefer my "morality plays" to be much more subtle - where there is not a "devil" figure laying out a temptation. I would rather see real people coping with more subtle moral dilemmas. This felt more like a sermon than a novel. Not my cup of tea. Cannot recommend!!
Adult Fiction COELHO
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Cover Art: Whistling past the graveyard [sound recording] : [a nove]l /
Whistling past the graveyard [sound recording] : [a nove]l
Crandall, Susan.
*** 1/2 stars The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect. When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that Mamie will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride, with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville. As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart. Great characters. Great lesson on the definition of love. Recommend!
Adult Fiction CRANDAL
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Cover Art: Prayers for sale [sound recording] : a novel /
Prayers for sale [sound recording] : a novel
Dallas, Sandra
Adult Fiction DALLAS
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Cover Art: The privileges : a novel /
The privileges : a novel
Dee, Jonathan.
0 starS Smart, socially gifted, and chronically impatient, Adam and Cynthia Morey are so perfect for each other that united they become a kind of fortress against the world. In their hurry to start a new life, they marry young and have two children before Cynthia reaches the age of twenty-five. Adam is a rising star in the world of private equity and becomes his boss's protégé. With a beautiful home in the upper-class precincts of Manhattan, gorgeous children, and plenty of money, they are, by any reasonable standard, successful. But the Moreys' standards are not the same as other people's. The future in which they have always believed for themselves and their children—a life of almost boundless privilege, in which any desire can be acted upon and any ambition made real—is still out there, but it is not arriving fast enough to suit them. Amoral parents, amoral children. I did not care what happened to any of the characters, nor did I like any of them. I cannot understand the author's purpose in this book. CANNOT RECOMMEND!!
Adult Fiction DEE
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Cover Art: All the light we cannot see : a novel /
All the light we cannot see : a novel
Doerr, Anthony, 1973-
****** stars!! From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks. When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall. In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes obsessed with broadcasts from an unknown source. The light in the title is, among other things, a topic that Werner hears discussed on a late-1930s radio broadcast about the brain’s power to create light in darkness. Turning the dial, they hear a mysterious Frenchman talking about science. “What do we call visible light?” the Frenchman asks. “We call it color. But . . . really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.” Werner becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung lands of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure. ****** I loved this book!!!!! I have to preface my review with the fact that I have stayed in St. Malo and fell in love with the old walled city and the Brittany coast. In addition I am a WWII history ( both non-fiction and fiction ) buff, so we had perfect synchronicity. The main characters are beautifully developed and you care immediately about their fates. The novel is exquisitely written!!! The interwoven stories are well constructed and lead to a superlative resolution. .... and then of course there is the diamond, the "Sea of Flames". Is it a curse or simply a stone capable of reflecting facets of light. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!!!
Adult Fiction
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Cover Art: Nicholson : a biography /
Nicholson : a biography
Eliot, Marc
1/2 star . For five decades, Jack Nicholson has been part of film history. With twelve Oscar nominations to his credit and legendary roles in films like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Terms of Endearment, The Shining, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nicholson creates original, memorable characters like no other actor of his generation. And his personal life has been no less of an adventure—Nicholson has always been at the center of the Hollywood elite and has courted some of the most famous and beautiful women in the world. From Nicholson’s working class childhood in New Jersey, where family secrets threatened to tear his family apart, to raucous nights on the town with Warren Beatty and tumultuous relationships with starlets like Michelle Phillips, Anjelica Huston, and Lara Flynn Boyle, to movie sets working with such legendary directors and costars as Dennis Hopper, Stanley Kubrick, Meryl Streep, and Roman Polanski, Eliot paints a picture of of Nicholson’s fifty-year career in film, as well as an intimate portrait of his personal life. ***** WOW!! What a terrible book!! He slept with this woman and then he did this movie and then he slept with this woman... ad nauseum. For me Jack Nicholson has acted in some of my favorite films like "Five Easy Pieces" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". I admired his acting in some of these roles, but I never necessarily liked the people he played and I was always left with the feeling that I would not like Jack Nicholson if I met him. I had hoped that this biography might offer some ameliorating features of his personality that would show him in a better light. WRONG!! He is presented as a narcissistic misogynist. Poorly written!! A waste of my time! I am glad I have never met Jack Nicholson.
Adult Nonfiction Book PN2287.N5 E45 2013
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Cover Art: The forgotten waltz [sound recording] : [a novel] /
The forgotten waltz [sound recording] : [a novel]
Enright, Anne, 1962-
Adult Fiction ENRIGHT
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Cover Art: Ava Gardner : the secret conversations /
Ava Gardner : the secret conversations
Evans, Peter, 1933 December 10-
1/2 * “I EITHER WRITE THE BOOK OR SELL THE JEWELS,” Ava Gardner told her coauthor, Peter Evans. Ava Gardner was one of Hollywood’s great stars during the 1940s and 1950s, an Oscar-nominated lead­ing lady who co-starred with Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, and Humphrey Bogart, among others. Her films included Show Boat, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Barefoot Contessa, and On the Beach. But her life off the screen was every bit as fabulous as her film roles. Born poor in rural North Carolina, Gardner was given a Hollywood tryout thanks to a stunning photo of her displayed in a shop window. Not long after arriving in Hollywood, she caught the eye of Mickey Rooney, then America’s #1 box-office draw. Rooney was a womanizer so notorious that even his mother warned Gardner about him. They married, but the marriage lasted only a year (“my shortest husband and my biggest mistake”). Ava then married band leader and clarinetist Artie Shaw, who would eventually marry eight times, but that marriage, too, lasted only about a year. She carried on a passionate affair with Howard Hughes but didn’t love him, she said. Her third marriage was a tempestuous one to Frank Sinatra (“We were fighting all the time. Fighting and boozing. It was madness. . . . But he was good in the feathers”). Faithfully recording Ava’s reminiscences in this book, Peter Evans describes their late-night conver­sations when Ava, having had something to drink and unable to sleep, was at her most candid. So candid, in fact, that when she read her own words, she backed out and halted the book. Only now, years after her death, could this memoir be published. ***** I am not doing well with biographies this year. This is a poorly organized, often repetitious summary of Ava's drunken ramblings. The book could have been a 10th as long and would have contained all the information Ava revealed. In addition to the fact that she eventually backed out of of the book and stopped talking with Evans, the book was not published until after Evans' own death. Someone did a bad job of organizing his notes and saw that there was not enough material for a book without the many repetitions of the same information. I ended up liking Ava for the very candidness and bad language that led her to abandon the book, but if you want to read a biography about Ava Gardner, pick another book.
Adult Nonfiction Book PN2287.G37 E84 2013
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Cover Art: Sharp objects [sound recording] : a novel /
Sharp objects [sound recording] : a novel
Flynn, Gillian, 1971-
** stars Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the Chicago daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims — a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the solution. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming. This book is well written, but too dark and full of psychological pain for me. I saw the end coming, but kept hoping what I believed was not true. Ms. Flynn sees and writes about psychic pain very well, but I cannot recommend.
Adult Fiction FLYNN
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Cover Art: Bad intentions /
Bad intentions
Fossum, Karin, 1954-
*** stars Early one September three friends spend the weekend at a remote cabin by Dead Water Lake. With only a pale moon to light their way, they row across the water in the middle of the night. But only two of them return, and they make a pact not to call for help until the following morning. Inspector Sejer leads the investigation when the body is discovered. He is troubled by the apparent suicide and has an overwhelming sense that the surviving pair has something to hide. Weeks pass without further clues, and then in a nearby lake the body of a teenage boy floats to the surface. **** I really enjoy Ms. Fossum's mysteries set in Norway. She writes well and creates interesting characters and good mysteries. This is the 9th book in the Inspector Sejer series and is more of a psychological study of guilt than a who done it. I have one small objection to the book which involves animal cruelty. I thought it was not unexpected, but I think it is unnecessary. With that small caveat, I recommend the book. If you would like to follow this Norwegian series, the first book is "In the Darkness" which was finally translated into English in 2012. The first book that I read was "Don't Look Back" which was translated in 2002. One of the middle books is being published in the US this year, so reading this series in order is not the easiest task. Found a good list of the books and order of writing + year of translation in Wikipedia under the author's name.
Adult Fiction FOSSUM
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Cover Art: The hurricane sisters [sound recording] : a novel /
The hurricane sisters [sound recording] : a novel
Frank, Dorothea Benton
Adult Fiction FRANK
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Cover Art: The last original wife [sound recording] : a novel /
The last original wife [sound recording] : a novel
Frank, Dorothea Benton
*** stars Leslie Anne Greene Carter is the last original wife among her husband's group of cronies. They've all traded in their first wives-the middle-aged women they long ago promised to love and cherish 'til death did them part-for riper peaches: younger . . . blonder . . . more enhanced models. Leslie is proud of her status and the longevity of her marriage. Sure the spark isn't quite as bright. And it wouldn't be too much to ask if her husband paid just an itty bit more attention to her desires. But there's something to be said for a comfortable and deeply familiar relationship. Or at least she thinks until the day, out walking with her husband and his friends, she slips into a manhole. Nobody realizes that she's gone. That one misstep opens Leslie's eyes to the sham her perfect life has become. No longer will she be invisible. No longer will she accept being taken for granted. With the healing powers of South Carolina's lush white beaches, beautiful sunsets, and endearing and funny residents, Leslie is going to transform herself and reclaim the strong, vibrant, sexy woman she was meant to be. The Last Original Wife is classic Dorothea Benton Frank: a tale of friendship and love. Ms. Frank creates great characters - very nice read. Even at 60 it is not too late to reclaim your life and make your own choices. Recommend.
Adult Fiction FRANK
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Cover Art: Faithful Place [sound recording] : a novel /
Faithful Place [sound recording] : a novel
French, Tana.
Adult Fiction FRENCH
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Cover Art: City of women : [a novel] /
City of women : [a novel]
Gillham, David R.
Adult Fiction GILLHAM
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Cover Art: Three Junes [compact disc] /
Three Junes [compact disc]
Glass, Julia, 1956-
**** stars In June of 1989 Paul McLeod, a newspaper publisher and recent widower, travels to Greece, where he falls for a young American artist and reflects on the complicated truth about his marriage. Six years later, again in June, Paul's death draws his three grown sons and their families back to their ancestral home. Fenno, the eldest, a wry, introspective gay man, narrates the events of this unforeseen reunion. Far from his straitlaced expatriate life as a bookseller in Greenwich Village, Fenno is stunned by a series of revelations that threaten his carefully crafted defenses. Four years farther on, in yet another June, a chance meeting on the Long Island shore brings Fenno together with Fern Olitsky, the artist who once captivated his father. Now pregnant, Fern must weigh her guilt about the past against her wishes for the future and decide what family means to her. **** Great character development. Engaging stories. This book leaves you wishing that there could be another book with three more Junes. Highly recomend.
Adult Fiction GLASS
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Cover Art: Vertigo 42 [sound recording] : a Richard Jury mystery /
Vertigo 42 [sound recording] : a Richard Jury mystery
Grimes, Martha.
Adult Fiction GRIMES
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Cover Art: Ford County [sound recording] : [stories] /
Ford County [sound recording] : [stories]
Grisham, John
*** stars. In his first collection of short stories John Grisham takes us back to Ford County, Mississippi, the setting of his first novel, "A Time to Kill". The Stories: Wheelchair-bound Inez Graney and her two older sons, Leon and Butch, take a bizarre road trip through the Mississippi Delta to visit the youngest Graney brother, Raymond, who's been locked away on death row for eleven years. It could well be their last visit. - Mack Stafford, a hard-drinking and low-grossing run-of-the-mill divorce lawyer gets a miracle phone call with a completely unexpected offer to settle some old, forgotten cases for more money than he has ever seen. Mack is suddenly bored with the law, fed up with his wife and his life, and makes drastic plans to finally escape. - Quiet, dull Sidney, a data collector for an insurance company, perfects his blackjack skills in hopes of bringing down the casino empire of Clanton's most ambitious hustler, Bobby Carl Leach, who, among other crimes, has stolen Sidney's wife. Three good ol' boys from rural Ford County begin a journey to the big city of Memphis to give blood to a grievously injured friend. However, they are unable to drive past a beer store as the trip takes longer and longer. The journey comes to an abrupt end when they make a fateful stop at a Memphis strip club. - The Quiet Haven Retirement Home is the final stop for the elderly of Clanton. It's a sad, languid place with little controversy, until Gilbert arrives. Posing as a lowly paid bedpan boy, he is in reality a brilliant stalker with an uncanny ability to sniff out the assets of those "seniors" he professes to love. - One of the hazards of litigating against people in a small town is that one day, long after the trial, you will probably come face-to-face with someone you've beaten in a lawsuit. Lawyer Stanley Wade bumps into an old adversary, a man with a long memory, and the encounter becomes a violent ordeal. - Clanton is rocked with the rumor that the gay son of a prominent family has finally come home, to die. Of AIDS. Fear permeates the town as gossip runs unabated. But in Lowtown, the colored section of Clanton, the young man finds a soul mate in his final days. **** John Grisham is certainly a great story teller. As a rule I do not like short story collections because I like character-driven books and want a nice long involvement with a great protagonist's life. Given that bias, an author has to grab me quickly with each new story. Grisham certainly creates believable characters and easily involves you in their actions. He is good at throwing in surprises - just when you think a story is only a drama or a comedy, Grisham shows you that he is in charge and your assumptions and expectations may be very wrong. I still prefer a novel to a collection of short stories, but recommend this book as an excellent demonstration of Grisham's skills.
Adult Fiction GRISHAM
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Cover Art: Sycamore row /
Sycamore row
Grisham, John
Adult Fiction GRISHAM
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Cover Art: Delicate edible birds and other stories [sound recording] /
Delicate edible birds and other stories [sound recording]
Groff, Lauren.
NO STARS. “Lucky Chow Fun” – the fate of the servers at the new Chinese restaurant in the fictional town of Templeton say a lot about the inhabitants of the town. “L DeBard and Aliette” – this haunting story takes place during the 1918 influenza epidemic and concerns the love story of two champion swimmers, L. DeBard and Aliette. “Majorette” – in this story, a little girl suffers a rather horrible childhood and comes of age, making something different of herself. “Blythe” – The title character sucks Harriet into a decades-long co-dependent relationship where Blythe takes and Harriet gives, to the detriment of her other relationships. "The Wife of the Dictator” – the wives of the ambassadors to a foreign country watch with little sympathy as the fate of the unlikely wife of the dictator plays out. “Watershed” – a wedding changes a not-so-very-young woman’s life, for the better and then for the worse. “Sir Fleeting” – one woman recounts her life-long flirtation with a man named Ancel de Chair. “Fugue” – the owners and guests of a small and rather deserted inn are not quite what they seem. “Delicate Edible Birds” – this titular story tells the tale of Bernice “Bern”, a war correspondent, and her fellow, male, correspondent evacuees from the German invasion of Paris. ***** I absolutely hated this book. These stories make Joyce Carole Oates seem like a cheerful author. I found the stories so bleak that I cannot believe I stuck with the book to the end. I guess I kept hoping for one story with positive characters and a redeeming outcome. It never happened. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ANYONE.
Adult Fiction GROFF
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Cover Art: Fly away : [a novel] /
Fly away : [a novel]
Hannah, Kristin.
Adult Fiction HANNAH
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Cover Art: Tinkers [sound recording] /
Tinkers [sound recording]
Harding, Paul, 1967-
**** stars. An old man lies dying. This book unfurls the history and final thoughts of a dying grandfather surrounded by his family in his New England home A methodical repairer of clocks, he is now finally released from the usual constraints of time and memory to rejoin his father, an epileptic, itinerant peddler, whom he had lost 7 decades before. Tinkers is about the legacy of consciousness and the porousness of identity from one generation the next. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, it is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature. The descriptions of the father's epilepsy and the 'cold halo of chemical electricity that encircled him immediately before he was struck by a full seizure' are stunning, and the household's sadness permeates the narrative as George returns to more melancholy scenes. The real star is Harding's language, which dazzles whether he's describing the workings of clocks, sensory images of nature, the many engaging side characters who populate the book, or even a short passage on how to build a bird nest. **** This first novel won the Pulitzer prize in 2010. George Washington Crosby lies dying and wandering from present to past in the company of his family. This is, of course, not a happy book, but the writing is impeccable. You move with George through hallucinations and real memories. What I found myself wondering about was whether his knowledge of his father was drug - or illness - induced or archetypal. Do we carry the memories of our forebears in our brain cells or in our genes? This is a book that causes you at its end to want to begin again and relearn its lessons with the new-found knowledge of your first reading. Another book that had this same effect upon me was Louise Erdrich's "Love Medicine". Highly recommend
Adult Fiction HARDING
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Cover Art: Shakespeare's landlord /
Shakespeare's landlord
Harris, Charlaine
2 ** While on a late-night job in tiny Shakespeare, Ark., Lily Bard, 31, sees a furtive figure placing large plastic garbage bags in the local park and, untying one, discovers the body of her former landlord. In a quick but anonymous phone call (she is determined to avoid any questioning), she reports the murder to the police chief. Ms. Harris soon reveals the horrific facts in Lily's background that explain why she is a solitary, confrontational young woman who is obsessed with self-defense, and why she chooses, despite a first-rate education, to eke out a living as a cleaning woman. Lily subtly and insightfully queries her customers, some of whom were tenants of the murdered landlord. As Lily investigates, she develops a wary but cordial relationship with the police chief and forms a warmer tie with her karate instructor. But at the same time, someone has discovered the unspeakable facts about Lily's past and has begun stalking her. **** I refer to mysteries like this one as my "brain candy". I know they are not "literature", but they are usually fun and create a mystery that is intriguing enough to keep me reading until the end. Given that description, if you simply want quick, entertaining read, I recommend.
Adult Fiction HARRIS
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Cover Art: Children and fire [sound recording] : [a novel] /
Children and fire [sound recording] : [a novel]
Hegi, Ursula.
**** STARS This is the fourth book in the Burgdorf cycle, all set in Burgdorf, Germany during the Nazi era. The first book , "Stones from the River" was written 15 years ago. "Children and Fire" tells the story of a single day that will forever transform the lives of the townspeople. At the core of this remarkable novel is the question of how one teacher, gifted and joyful, passionate and inventive, can become seduced by propaganda during the early months of Hitler's regime and encourage her ten-year-old students to join the Hitler-Jugend. Membership, she believes, will be a step toward better schools. How can a woman we admire choose a direction we we know to be so wrong? So much has changed for the teacher, Thekla Jansen, and the people of Burgdorf in the year since the parliament building burned. Thekla's lover, Emil Hesping, is sure the Nazis did it to frame the communists. But Thekla believes what she hears on the radio, that the communists set the fire, and she is willing to relinquish some of her freedoms to keep her teaching position. She has always taken her moral courage for granted, but when each silent agreement chips away at that courage, she knows she must reclaim it. Hegi funnels pivotal moments in history through the experiences of individual characters: Thekla's mother, who works as a housekeeper for a Jewish family; her employers, Michel and Ilse Abramowitz; Thekla's mentally ill father; Trudi Montag and her father, Leo Montag; Frulein Siderova, and the students who adore their young teacher. As Ursula Hegi shows us how one society, educated and cultural, can slip into a reality that is fabricated by propaganda and controlled by fear, how a surge of national unity can be manipulated into the dehumanization of a perceived enemy and the justification of torture and murder. ***** Ms. Hegi writes beautifully!! That is difficult to say when her Bergdorf Cycle deals with the inhumanity of the Nazis. She is able within the horror to create complex, believable, loving and lovable human beings who are attempting to cope the best they can with a world going mad. She does not beat the reader with atrocity after atrocity, but instead breaks your heart by the death of one little boy who simply wants to be accepted. As with all series, begin with the first - "Stones from the River" - which makes my 25 all time best books ever list!! I strongly recommend this series!!!
Adult Fiction HEGI
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Cover Art: Damsels in distress /
Damsels in distress
Hess, Joan.
** 1/2 STARS A Renaissance Fair is coming to the relatively quiet college town of Farberville Arkansas, which is not the sort of news that usually sets local bookseller Claire Malloy's heart racing. But with Caron, Claire's perpetually petulant teenage daughter, being pulled into volunteering (or face the horror of doing homework over the summer) and her fiancé, Police Lieutenant Peter Rosen, away, Claire finds herself drawn into the strange inner workings of the group putting on the fair. But just as Claire has decided that her time might be better spent fretting over the details of her upcoming nuptials, one of the volunteers helping with the Fair falls victim to arson, her body found burned in the wreckage of her rented home. Even stranger, none of the members of the local chapter of The Association for Renaissance Scholarship and Enlightenment (ARSE) - the group putting on Farberville's first RenFair - had ever met the woman in the flesh and can't provide any information about who she is and where she came from. However, someone is definitely dead and the fire looks very suspicious - but is it murder? When the fair opens, tensions expose the dark secrets and malevolent schemes that lurk beneath the superficial congeniality of the ARSE members. The lords are leaping, the ladies are lying, and the knights are fighting--while someone is committing murder most heinous. And with Claire's dreams of a blissful wedding hanging in the balance, she has no choice left but to fling herself into the battle and match wits with the killer. **** I consider books like this 16th edition in the Claire Malloy mystery series as "brain candy". They combine humor and mayhem, but are not quite "cosies". They are a fun choice every once in a while if you simply want a light read requiring little brain work. I usually prefer a little more of a literary challenge in my reading, but books like this one are often simply fun. Recommend if you like the style.
Adult Fiction HESS
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Cover Art: Skylight confessions [compact disc] : [a novel] /
Skylight confessions [compact disc] : [a novel]
Hoffman, Alice.
0 stars. This novel is a journey through three generations of one family. In one moment, two characters make a decision that changes the course of their lives and the lives of their offspring. Arlyn's father has just passed away. Arlyn is a red-headed, freckle-faced girl with the innocence of a child and a soul as old as the sea. After the funeral and wake, Arlyn promises herself she will belong to the next man that walks through her door. In walks practical John Moody, lost on the way to a party. He took a wrong turn. This wrong turn intertwines him to Arlyn in a way that makes no sense but can't be controlled. He later comes to his senses, but it's too late. The rest of the book is about the heartbreaking life Arlyn and John make with each other and with their children. It seems impossible that this couple chose each other. John doesn't take much interest in her or their son. Arlie reacts to his disinterest stoically, taking another lover and focusing on the son she loves so desperately. John recognizes his failure as a husband and father, but he can't seem to change his behavior. When a tragic death occurs in the family, a ghost haunts the ones who are left behind. A great deal of the book deals with Sam, their son, an unhappy boy that seems drawn to destruction and can't help but spiral down into addiction. When he is little, Arlyn tells him of the stories she learned from her seaman father of a winged people that lived near the sea. These stories plant themselves in Sam's mind and manifest themselves in dangerous ways, such as when he stands on the roof of his house, feeling the desire to jump and take flight. Ultimately, it falls to their grandson, Will, to solve the emotional puzzle of his family and of his own identity. ***** I hated the book and its characters. I could see no lessons learned or lives redeemed. I do not appreciate "magical / ghostly" themes. I don't understand the purpose of writing a book like this. It seems like a contest - I can write a more depressing, pointless book than you can. An addicted son is not helped, but simply supported financially. Infidelity if fine. I don't have one good thing to say about this book. Needless to say, I do not recommend it!!
Adult Fiction HOFFMAN
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Cover Art: The things we cherished /
The things we cherished
Jenoff, Pam.
Adult Fiction JENOFF
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Cover Art: The boy in the suitcase /
The boy in the suitcase
Kaaberbøl, Lene
Adult Fiction KAABERB
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Cover Art: Killer /
Kellerman, Jonathan
*** STARS. Killer is a L.A. noir portrayal of the darkest impulses of human nature carried to shocking extremes. The City of Angels has more than its share of psychopaths, and no one recognizes that more acutely than the brilliant psychologist and police consultant Dr. Alex Delaware. Despite that, Constance Sykes, a sophisticated, successful physician, hardly seems like someone Alex needs to fear. Then, at the behest of the court, he becomes embroiled in a bizarre child custody dispute initiated by Connie against her sister and begins to realize that there is much about the siblings he has failed to comprehend. And when the court battle between the Sykes sisters erupts into cold, calculating murder and a rapidly growing number of victims, Alex knows he’s been snared in a toxic web of pathology. Nothing would please Alex more than to be free of the ugly spectacle known as Sykes v. Sykes. But then the little girl at the center of the vicious dispute disappears and Alex knows he must work with longtime friend Detective Milo Sturgis, against a collection of washouts, gangbangers, and self-serving jurists in order to save an innocent life. **** I have been following the lives of Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis through 35 books and 29 years. How is it that they are still in their 30's and 40's and I am 65? My favorite mysteries are most frequently series where the character development is sometimes better than the individual mystery. This was not my favorite book of Kellerman's, but his books are "better than the average bear" always. I wait for the next edition impatiently. Highly recommend the series.
Adult Fiction KELLERM
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Cover Art: The invention of wings [sound recording] /
The invention of wings [sound recording]
Kidd, Sue Monk.
** stars Hetty "Handful” Grimke, a slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household and the brutality of slavery. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. On Sarah’s eleventh birthday, she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. The book follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Ms. Kidd goes beyond the record to create rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better. This novel looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through the struggles of women for liberation, empowerment, and expression. **** I liked that book most when told from the point of view of Handful and her mother. I admired Sarah's efforts to work for abolition in the North, but was disappointed in her lack of effect upon the slaves owned by her own family. Perhaps I was expecting more of her than it was possible for her to accomplish. I struggled with the storyline because Sarah "owned" Handful, but did not take her north with her where she could have been freed. Well-written novel based upon real events. Recommend
Adult Fiction
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Cover Art: The hidden child [sound recording] /
The hidden child [sound recording]
Lackberg, Camilla, 1974-
Adult Fiction LACKBER
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Cover Art: The preacher [sound recording] /
The preacher [sound recording]
Lackberg, Camilla, 1974-
Adult Fiction LACKBER
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Cover Art: The lowland [sound recording] /
The lowland [sound recording]
Lahiri, Jhumpa.
*** stars. Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan--charismatic and impulsive--finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother's political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America. When Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family's home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind, including those in the heart of his brother's wife. **** I am a fan of Ms. Lahiri and loved "The Interpreter of Maladies" for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. "Interpreter" is a set of stories, each one of which captured my heart. For some reason I could not bond as well with the characters in this novel. The brothers' parents are very traditional in their beliefs and do not understand either son or their daughter-in-law. Udayan and his bride have a violent history which haunts Guari throughout her life. Subhash is a good man, but he never asks for or demands the love and respect he and his daughter deserve. He is always a good boy / a good son. I liked his daughter best. She makes her choices without second guessing and tells her mother how unacceptable her behavior was. I wish her father could have done the same.
Adult Fiction LAHIRI
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Cover Art: The trip to Echo Spring : on writers and drinking /
The trip to Echo Spring : on writers and drinking
Laing, Olivia
Adult Nonfiction Book PS129 .L25 2014
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Cover Art: Is this tomorrow [sound recording] : a novel /
Is this tomorrow [sound recording] : a novel
Leavitt, Caroline.
Adult Fiction LEAVITT
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Cover Art: The given day [sound recording] : [a novel] /
The given day [sound recording] : [a novel]
Lehane, Dennis.
**** 1/2 STARS. Set primarily in Boston at the end of the First World War, Dennis Lehane's novel unflinchingly captures the political and social unrest of a nation caught at the crossroads between past and future. The book tells the story of two families—one black, one white—swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigrants and ward bosses, Brahmins and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power. Beat cop Danny Coughlin, the son of one of the city's most beloved and powerful police captains, joins a burgeoning union movement and the hunt for violent radicals. Luther Laurence, on the run after a deadly confrontation with a crime boss in Tulsa, Oklahoma works for the Coughlin family and tries desperately to find his way home to his pregnant wife. Woven into the story are some of the most influential figures of the era—Babe Ruth; Eugene O'Neill; leftist activist Jack Reed; NAACP founder W. E. B. DuBois; Mitchell Palmer, Woodrow Wilson's ruthless Red-chasing attorney general; cunning Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge; and an ambitious young Department of Justice lawyer named John Hoover. Coursing through some of the pivotal events of the time—including the Spanish Influenza pandemic—and culminating in the Boston Police Strike of 1919, The Given Day explores the crippling violence of the country as it struggles to redefine itself after WWI. As Danny, Luther, and those around them struggle to define themselves in increasingly turbulent times, they gradually find family in one another and, together, ride a rising storm of hardship, deprivation, and hope that will change all their lives. **** Excellent book! Terrific and believable interweaving of the lives of people from vastly different backgrounds. Great history lesson on the birth of labor actions and Boston history. Highly recommend!!
Adult Fiction LEHANE
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Cover Art: Why I read : the serious pleasure of books /
Why I read : the serious pleasure of books
Lesser, Wendy.
Adult Nonfiction Book Z1003 .L543 2014
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Cover Art: The cutting season : a novel /
The cutting season : a novel
Locke, Attica
*** STARS. Caren Gray is the general manager of Belle Vie, a sprawling antebellum plantation where the past and the present coexist uneasily. She is a person of color who was raised on the plantation where earlier generations of her family were slaves. The estate’s owners have turned the place into an eerie tourist attraction complete with full-dress reenactments and carefully restored slave quarters. Outside the gates, an ambitious corporation has been busy snapping up land from struggling families who have grown sugar cane for generations, replacing local employees with illegal laborers. Tensions mount when the body of a female migrant worker is found in a shallow grave on the edge of the property, her throat cut clean. The list of suspects is long, but when the cops zero in on a person of interest, Caren has a feeling they’re chasing the wrong leads. Putting herself at risk, she unearths startling new facts about an old mystery — the long-ago disappearance of a former slave —that has unsettling ties to the modern day crime. In pursuit of the truth about Belle Vie’s history—and her own—Caren discovers secrets about both cases that an increasingly desperate killer will do anything to keep hidden. **** I have never read a book by this author before, but this mystery will lead me to seek out other titles. Ms. Locke writes believable characters and an intriguing mystery. Recommend!
Adult Fiction LOCKE
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Cover Art: Freud's mistress /
Freud's mistress
Mack, Karen.
1 1/2 * stars. Minna Bernays is an overeducated woman with limited options. Fired yet again for speaking her mind, she finds herself out on the street with few options. In 1895 Vienna, marriage and family are are regarded as the primary role for women. Minna wants more. Out of desperation, Minna turns to her older sister, Martha, for help. But Martha has her own problems — six young children, a host of physical ailments, a household run with military precision, and an absent, overworked, disinterested husband who happens to be Sigmund Freud. At this point he is a struggling professor, all but shunned by his peers and under attack for his theories, most of which center around sexual impulses, urges, and perversions. While Martha is shocked and repulsed by her husband’s "pornographic" work, Minna is fascinated. She is everything Martha is not —intellectually curious, an avid reader, and stunning. But while she and Freud embark on what is at first simply an intellectual courtship, something deeper is brewing beneath the surface, something Minna cannot escape. *** As a former teacher of psychology I had not heard about this aspect of Freud's life. The book is factually based and certainly provides an interesting look at Freud's view of women. This is not a bad book, but I did not really bond with anyone. I think I would have been happier reading a good biography of Freud that looked more at his private life. I have certainly read enough about his psychological theories and their development. I think I simply chose the wrong book to read. Cannot recommend.
Adult Fiction MACK
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Cover Art: The shadow girls [sound recording] /
The shadow girls [sound recording]
Mankell, Henning, 1948-
Adult Fiction MANKELL
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Cover Art: The Meryl Streep movie club /
The Meryl Streep movie club
March, Mia
*** stars. Two sisters and the cousin they grew up with after a tragedy are summoned home to their family matriarch's inn on the coast of Maine for a shocking announcement. Suddenly, Isabel, June, and Kat are sharing the attic bedroom and barely speaking. But when innkeeper Lolly asks them to join her and the guests in the parlor for weekly Movie Nights for Meryl Streep month they find themselves sharing secrets, talking long into the night . . . and questioning everything they thought they knew about life, love, and one another. Each woman sees her complicated life reflected through the magic of cinema: Isabel's husband is having an affair, and an old pact may keep her from what she wants most . . . June has promised her seven-year-old son that she will somehow find his father, whom he's never known . . . and Kat is ambivalent about accepting her lifelong best friend's marriage proposal. Through everything, Lolly has always been there for them, and now Isabel, June, Kat, and Meryl must be there for her. **** As you know if you have read some of my other reviews about "romance novels", I am not fond of them, to say the least. This book, however, is a bit more than will the boy marry the girl. Each woman has a different tragedy, loss, or betrayal to overcome. I became engaged with the book and liked it in the end. I picked up the book because of the title - I adore Meryl Streep and the movies "Out of Africa" and "Sophie's Choice" are some of my all time favorites. It was interesting to see the films chosen as vehicles for examining the issues of the women in the book. Mild recommendation.
Adult Fiction MARCH
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Cover Art: Bertie plays the blues : a 44 Scotland Street novel /
Bertie plays the blues : a 44 Scotland Street novel
McCall Smith, Alexander, 1948-
Adult Fiction MCCALL
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Cover Art: The forever girl /
The forever girl
McCall Smith, Alexander, 1948-
*** stars Amanda and her husband, David, feel fortunate to be raising their son and daughter in the close-knit community of ex-pats on Grand Cayman Island, an idyllic place for children to grow up. Their firstborn, Sally, has always listened to her heart, deciding at age four that she would rather be called Clover and then, a few years later, falling in love with her best friend, James. But the comforting embrace of island life can become claustrophobic for adults, especially when they are faced with difficult situations. At the same time that Clover falls in love with James, Amanda realizes that she has fallen out of love with David and that she is interested in someone else. While Amanda tries to navigate her new path, Clover finds, much to her dismay, that James seems to be growing away from her. And when they leave the island for boarding school — James to England and Clover to Scotland — she feels she may have lost him for good. As Clover moves on to university, seldom seeing James but always carrying him in her heart, she finds herself torn between a desire to go forward with her life and the old feelings that she just can’t shed. Through the lives of Clover and James, and Amanda and David, acclaimed storyteller Alexander McCall Smith tells a tale full of love and heartbreak, humor and melancholy, that beautifully demonstrates the myriad ways in which love shapes our lives. **** I am a huge fan of McCall Smith's series. I liked this stand-alone novel because of its excellent character development and understanding of love for both children and adults. Sweet story of forever love in a young girl. Recommend!
Adult Fiction MCCALL
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Cover Art: The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon [sound recording] /
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon [sound recording]
McCall Smith, Alexander, 1948-
Adult Fiction MCCALL
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Cover Art: Trains and lovers /
Trains and lovers
McCall Smith, Alexander, 1948-
*** 1/2 stars. The rocking motion of the train as it speeds along, the sound of its wheels on the rails . . . There’s something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation, which is just what happens to the four strangers who meet in Trains and Lovers. As they journey by rail from Edinburgh to London, the four travelers pass the time by sharing tales of trains that have changed their lives. A young, keen-eyed Scotsman recounts how he turned a friendship with a female coworker into a romance by spotting an anachronistic train in an eighteenth-century painting. An Australian woman shares how her parents fell in love and spent their life together running a railroad siding in the remote Australian Outback. A middle-aged American patron of the arts sees two young men saying goodbye in a train station and recalls his own youthful crush on another man. And a young Englishman describes how exiting his train at the wrong station allowed him to meet an intriguing woman whom he impulsively invited to dinner—and into his life.... I adore Alexander McCall Smith and regard him as one of the consummate story tellers of our day. I love Precious Romatswe and the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series!!! They are an especial delight to listen to on audiobooks for the great Botswana dialect. I am only slightly less fond of the Isabel Dalhousie and 44 Scotland Street series. Mr. McCall Smith is also an author of children's books, which is probably what helps to make him such a great story-teller, character developer and lover of the whimsical and and heart-breaking all at the same time. I loved the stories in this novel, but prefer his continuing character novels more because you always get another chance to join their lives. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!
Adult Fiction MCCALL
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Cover Art: Unusual uses for olive oil [sound recording] /
Unusual uses for olive oil [sound recording]
McCall Smith, Alexander, 1948-
Adult Fiction MCCALL
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Cover Art: Cross and burn [sound recording] /
Cross and burn [sound recording]
McDermid, Val.
**** stars. Guilt and grief have driven a wedge between long time crime-fighting partners psychologist Tony Hill and ex-DCI Carol Jordan. But just because they're not talking doesn't mean the killing stops. Someone is killing women who bear an unsettling resemblance to Carol Jordan. When the evidence begins to point in a disturbing direction, thinking the unthinkable seems the only possible answer. Cornered by events, Tony and Carol are forced to fight for themselves and each other as never before. ****** I have been enjoyed the Tony Hill / Carol Jordan series for almost 20 years. Ms. McDermid creates vivid characters and psychological motives and struggles in both her protagonists and her criminals. This was not my favorite in the series because the investigative team has been broken up and I missed the usual presence of some of the characters. Still recommend the book and the series.
Adult Fiction MCDERMI
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Cover Art: Both ways is the only way I want it [sound recording] : [stories] /
Both ways is the only way I want it [sound recording] : [stories]
Meloy, Maile
**** stars. Eleven stories demonstrate the emotional power and the clean, assured style that have earned Maile Meloy praise from critics and devotion from readers. Set mostly in the American West, the stories feature small-town lawyers, ranchers, doctors, parents, and children, and explore the moral quandaries of love, family, and friendship. A ranch hand falls for a recent law school graduate who appears unexpectedly in his remote Montana town. A young father opens his door to find his dead grandmother standing on the front step. Two women weigh love and betrayal during an early snow. Throughout the book, Meloy examines the tensions between having and wanting, as her characters try to keep hold of opposing forces in their lives: innocence and experience, risk and stability, fidelity and desire. ***** I am not normally a fan of short story collections because if I bond with a character, I want to know more and more about him or her. I don't want them to leave after a brief appearance. Ms. Meloy, however, creates such well developed characters and compelling situations that even though I want more, I enjoyed the stories very much. Highly recommend.
Adult Fiction MELOY
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Cover Art: The husband's secret /
The husband's secret
Moriarty, Liane
* 1/2 stars. Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. The letter contains his deepest, darkest secret, something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia, or each other, but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret. **** I found it easy to guess the husband's secret before his wife read the letter. It is difficult to find anyone in this book who can claim the moral high ground. Another husband is emotionally unfaithful. His wife who drags her son away from his home abruptly and jumps into bed with an old flame. The denouement seems artificial and largely unbelievable. Years and years of pain are resolved much to easily. Sorry... Cannot recommend.
Adult Fiction MORIART
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Cover Art: Police /
Nesbø, Jo, 1960-
*** stars The police urgently need Harry Hole . . . A killer is stalking Oslo's streets. Police officers are being slain at the scenes of crimes they once investigated but failed to solve. The murders are brutal, the media reaction hysterical. But this time, Harry can't help . . . For years, detective Harry Hole has been at the center of every major criminal investigation in Oslo. His dedication to his job and his brilliant insights have saved the lives of countless people. But now, with those he loves most facing terrible danger, Harry is not in a position to protect anyone, least of all himself. **** I really like Nesbo's Harry Hole series. They are sometimes a little more graphically violent than I usually like, but I have bonded with Harry and his continuing story. It took me a little while to get involved with this book because Harry is not part of the storyline at the beginning. The book opens with a great "red herring" that had me guessing for quite a while. Highly recommend the series with the caveat about the violence, but as I always say with any series start with the first book. Until now that was not possible because the first two books "The Bat" and "Cockroaches" were not published in the U.S. until 2012 and 2013 respectively. I started with the 2006 book "Redbreast". Now I can go back to the beginning.
Adult Fiction NESBO
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Cover Art: Evil eye [sound recording] : [four novellas of love gone wrong] /
Evil eye [sound recording] : [four novellas of love gone wrong]
Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938-
1/2 STAR. Joyce Carol Oates is fearless when exploring the most disturbing corners of human nature. In Evil Eye, she offers four chilling tales of love gone horribly wrong, showing the lengths people will go to find love, keep it, and sometimes end it. In "Evil Eye," we meet Mariana, the young 4th wife of a prominent intellectual. When her husband's brazen first wife visits one night, Mariana learns a terrible secret that threatens her marriage and sanity. In "So Near, Anytime, Always," shy teenager Lizbeth meets Desmond, a charming boy who offers this introverted girl the first sparks of young romance. Yet just as their relationship begins to blossom, Lizbeth realizes that beneath Desmond's perfect façade lies a dark soul that could wreak havoc on Lizbeth and her loved ones. In "The Execution," spoiled college student Bart Hansen has planned the perfect, brutal crime to get back at his parents for their years of condescension. Yet what he didn't plan for is a mother whose love is more resilent than he could have ever imagined, who threatens to derail his carefully laid-out plans. And in "The Flat-Bed," childhood trauma has prevented Cecelia from enjoying the pleasures of physical intimacy with a man, but when she finally meets the love of her life, Cecelia realizes that finding intimacy will mean coming face-to-face with the despicable man from her past who robbed her of her innocence years ago. **** I don't know why I persist in reading books by Ms. Oates. My only rationale is that she is a terrific writer who once in a while writes a novel that does not have the terrible darkness found in this book. One cannot help but believe that she is /was a horribly wounded individual because she writes so well about psychological torture and damaged souls. I sometime feel like the "gawker" who can't help but look at the car accident at the side of the road - sort of ashamed of myself for looking at so much pain, yet unable to not pursue the story to the end. I shall stay away from Ms. Oates for the time being and, as for this book is concerned, suggest you do the same. Cannot recommend!!
Adult Fiction OATES
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Cover Art: The cat's table [sound recording] : [a novel] /
The cat's table [sound recording] : [a novel]
Ondaatje, Michael, 1943-
***** stars. In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly ‘Cat's Table’ with an eccentric group of grown-ups and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys become involved in the worlds and stories of the adults around them, tumbling from one adventure and delicious discovery to another. And at night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner – his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever. As the narrative moves from the decks and holds of the ship and the boy’s adult years, it tells a spellbinding story about the difference between the magical openness of childhood and the burdens of earned understanding – about a life-long journey that began unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage, when all on board were ‘free of the realities of the earth’. With the ocean liner a brilliant microcosm for the floating dream of childhood, The Cat’s Table is a vivid, poignant and thrilling book, full of Ondaatje’s trademark set-pieces and breathtaking images: a story told with a child’s sense of wonder by a novelist at the very height of his powers. ****** I enjoyed this book tremendously. Mr. Ondaatje has a wonderful, almost magical voice. He is able to project himself into the mind of young Michael and the bravery of youthful innocence. I listened to this book read by the author which I highly recommend!!
Adult Fiction ONDAATJ
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Cover Art: The long way home [sound recording] /
The long way home [sound recording]
Penny, Louise.
Adult Fiction PENNY
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Cover Art: Death on Blackheath [sound recording] /
Death on Blackheath [sound recording]
Perry, Anne.
*** 1/2 STARS. As commander of the powerful Special Branch, Thomas Pitt has the job of keeping Britain safe from spies and traitors. So there’s no obvious reason why he is suddenly ordered to investigate two minor incidents: the blood, hair, and shards of glass discovered outside the home of naval weapons expert Dudley Kynaston, and the simultaneous disappearance of Mrs. Kynaston’s beautiful lady’s maid. Weeks later, when the mutilated body of an unidentified young woman is found near Kynaston’s home, Pitt realizes that this is no ordinary police investigation. Far from it. Is Kynaston, one of Britain’s most valuable scientists, leading a double life? Is Pitt saddled with a conspiracy so devilishly clever that it will ruin him? A baffled Pitt has never needed his friends more desperately, including his indomitable wife, Charlotte; his canny old colleague Victor Narraway; and his personal drawing-room spy, Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould. But even these allies may not be able to save Pitt, or Great Britain. **** This is the 29th book in the Pitt series and I have read them all. I am as much interested in the life changes of the characters as the mysteries themselves. I liked the Pitt series more when he was a policeman involved with murder inquiries than now when as the head of Special Branch, his intrigues often involve spies and government conspiracies. But I still love Anne Perry and her books. She writes good mysteries and creates protagonists that you care about.
Adult Fiction PERRY
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Cover Art: Perfect match [compact disc] /
Perfect match [compact disc]
Picoult, Jodi, 1966-
*** stars.In the course of her everyday work, career-driven assistant district attorney Nina Frost prosecutes child molesters and works determinedly to ensure that a legal system with too many loopholes puts these criminals behind bars. Far too often she sees the children as traumatized first by the abuse and second by the legal system which often regards them as "incompetent" witnesses or forces them to relive the trauma in court. When her own five-year-old son, Nathaniel, becomes a victim of sexual assault, Nina and her husband, Caleb are shattered. They feel an enraging sense of helplessness in the face of a justice system that Nina knows all too well. In a heartbeat, Nina's absolute truths and convictions are turned upside down, and she enacts a plan to exact her own justice for her son. But are the consequences too great? **** This novel is well written and certainly keeps the reader involved in the outcome. There are no easy moral answers to the quandary faced by this family or to their choices. I was not certain that I agreed with the novel's resolution, but this feeling of moral questioning may have been purposeful on the part of the author. Very little is black and white concerning the role of a parent in the protection of a child. Recommend with the caveat concerning the sensitive topic of childhood sexual abuse.
Adult Fiction PICOULT
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Cover Art: Still life with bread crumbs [sound recording] : a novel /
Still life with bread crumbs [sound recording] : a novel
Quindlen, Anna.
***** stars. At 60, Ms. Quindlen’s complicated heroine, Rebecca Winter, is strong of body and mind, much less so of confidence and bank account. In her 30's, Rebecca made her name with a series of photographs chronicling her domestic life, which were interpreted as landmarks of feminist art. The most famous image in the series, “Still Life With Bread Crumbs,” featured dirty wineglasses, stacked plates, the torn ends of two baguettes, and a dish towel singed at one corner by the gas stove. Reproduced on postcards, T-shirts and posters, it brought Rebecca unexpected fame. For years she had lived off the reprints and licensing, as well as its reputation. She hadn’t even really noticed how much money it brought in until it disappeared. Now all Rebecca has to show for that early success is her beautiful apartment, overlooking Central Park, bought with the proceeds. Her marriage to a caddish academic dissolved long ago. Her creativity also seems to have fled. In addition she is supporting her parents, one of whom is in a nursing home and does not even recognize Rebecca. In desperation she sublets the apartment at an exorbitant New York rate. This allows her to pay her bills and rent a dilapidated cottage in the countryside. She hopes that she can pull herself together, both financially and artistically. But Rebecca’s crisis is, ultimately, more existential than financial. Marriage and motherhood had fueled her work. The power of those early photographs came from rage, rage at her pompous husband, and rage at herself for being misled into the sort of conventional marriage that involved staying home and cooking complicated French meals for her husband's colleagues and then falling asleep on the couch, leaving behind a flotilla of dirty dishes. The Kitchen Counter series was seen as an iconic moment in women’s art. In fact at the time she took those photographs Rebecca was not making a statement; she was simply exhausted and angry. Now, for the first time, she needs to make her own way, both professionally and personally. The cottage is a ramshackle mess, and she's unprepared for rural life. She calls in a roofer to help with a raccoon in her attic, and not surprisingly he ends up patching up more than her flashing. She rambles in the woods, often in the company of a neglected runaway dog, who adopts her. She gradually begins seeing things differently. When she stumbles upon a series of mysterious tiny handmade crosses planted in the woods, surrounded by what appear to be a child's mementos, she knows she has hit on a subject that is important. Rebecca needs to produce art in order to live. That she does so comes as no surprise. ***** This is a wonderful book in many ways. I loved the simple beauty of the writing, the wonderfully developed character of Rebecca, the gently unfolding love story, and the intricacies of and joys and tragedies in the lives of the people Rebecca encounters in her new world. Yes, even I enjoyed the romance. This is my favorite book of the year so far!! I RECOMMEND IT HIGHLY!!!
Adult Fiction QUINDLE
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Cover Art: The rise & fall of great powers [sound recording] : a novel /
The rise & fall of great powers [sound recording] : a novel
Rachman, Tom
**** stars. Tooly Zylberberg, owner of a bookshop in the Welsh countryside, spends most of her life reading. Yet there’s one tale that never made sense: her own life. In childhood, she was spirited away from home, then raised around Asia, Europe and the United States. But who were the people who brought her up? And what ever happened to them? There was Humphrey, a curmudgeon from Russia; there was the charming but tempestuous Sarah, who hailed from Kenya; and there was Venn, the charismatic leader who transformed Tooly forever. Until, quite suddenly, he vanished. Years later, she has lost hope of ever knowing what took place. Then, the old mysteries stir again, sending her – and the reader – on a hunt through place and time, from Wales to Bangkok to New York to Italy, from the 1980’s to the Year 2000 to the present, from the end of the Cold War. Gradually, all secrets are revealed… ***** This book is confusing on purpose. Normally I would hate this in a novel. It is not that you cannot follow the story line, but I found myself wanting answers to all the questions that made up Tooly's life. Just when I was almost convinced that there was no hope, the author brings all the pieces together so amazingly that you want to start the book again once you know who all the important people in her life really were. Recommend!
Adult Fiction RACHMAN
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Cover Art: The other story [sound recording] /
The other story [sound recording]
Rosnay, Tatiana de, 1961-
1/2 STAR. The protagonist of this novel is 29-year-old Nicolas Kolt who sits around feeling sorry for himself at an expensive resort off the Tuscan coast. He's rich and famous, thanks to his globally best-selling first novel, The Envelope. But that was published four years ago and was based on the true history of his own father. Without real-life inspiration to lean on, Nicolas is having a hard time coming up with a new book. He is having no difficulty, however, spending the advance. Though he assures his anxious publisher that he's writing away, he’s mostly wasting time on social media, exchanging pornographic instant messages with a married woman in Germany, and keeping track of his popularity on the net. He muses about how much he misses his former love Delphine and how he should really call his mother, all the while checking his Facebook page to see if there are any new photos taken by an anonymous fan. His 22-year-old girlfriend, Malvina, is a whiny bore. The extensive flashbacks not much more interesting as they examine Nicolas’ childhood, his father’s mysterious death and his discovery of previously unknown Russian roots. The final event is predictable and trite. ****** I had high hopes for this book because of the author's previous book "Sarah's Key" which I liked very much. In this novel, however, I did not bond with the Nicolas at all. The book is almost as vacuous as the protagonist. Boring!! Boring!! Boring!! My recommendation: DON'T BOTHER!!!
Adult Fiction ROSNAY
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Cover Art: All that is [sound recording] : a novel /
All that is [sound recording] : a novel
Salter, James.
1/2* "All That Is" is written in the episodic style of a memoir. It recounts in a meandering fashion the story of Philip Bowman, who grows up in a modest fatherless household in New Jersey and goes into the Navy in World War II, where he sees action in the Pacific. He comes home and goes to Harvard, where he feels like an outsider. He finds a job in publishing, which becomes his career. He gets married, then divorced. He has affairs. In the end he meets another woman. Bowman, like most young men, thinks constantly about sex, and sees women almost solely in physical terms. The jokes and comments made by him and his friends are coarsely sexist. Perhaps we’re expected to forgive this, because sexism was then common. But this isn’t Faulkner, using the N-word while it was still current. This is Salter, in 2013, writing racist and sexist fantasies. About halfway through, Bowman (Beau-Man is prodigiously handsome, and good in bed) falls in love with Catherine and they have great sex. She finds him a beautiful house in the Hamptons. He won’t marry her, but he buys the house in both their names. She lives there with her teenage daughter, Anet, while Bowman comes out on weekends. Catherine betrays him, sues for sole possession of the house, and wins. Enraged, Bowman leaves the Hamptons. Several years later, when he’s around 50, he runs into Anet, who is around 20. I will not spoil the story by telling what happens with the young woman, but you can probably guess. ***** My suggested title for this book is " All That Shouldn't Have Been Written". William Faulkner, in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, declared that great writing demands the universal truths of “love and honor and pity and pride and compassion,” any writing without pity or compassion is “ephemeral and doomed.” All too often we no longer require compassion from the literature we admire. We praise as great books like this one that celebrates cruelty, disdain, and contempt. They establish emotional distance rather than intimacy. Compassion is not mere sentimentality; it may be the best of human emotions because it requires empathy not sympathy. Philip Bowman is a narcissistic, vindictive, cruel, misogynistic SOB. ( I know, why don't I say what I really think about him. ) There is nothing admirable in his life. I don't understand why Mr. Salter chose to devote so many pages to this despicable man. Eternal optimist that I still seem to be, I kept hoping there would be some redeeming event or self-realization for the character. Wrong again!! If the reader is meant to understand the narrative as irony, the author does not achieve this purpose. Run, do not walk away from this book!!
Adult Fiction SALTER
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Cover Art: China dolls [sound recording] /
China dolls [sound recording]
See, Lisa.
*** stars. In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco's exclusive "Oriental" nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her? **** I usually really like Lisa See's novels, but this book fell a little short with me. I thought the "great denoument" was telegraphed with a partial revelation. I have enjoyed her mysteries and her novels set in historical China much more. I did not bond as successfully with these characters.
Adult Fiction SEE
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Cover Art: A star for Mrs. Blake /
A star for Mrs. Blake
Smith, April, 1949-
** 1/2 stars In 1929 he United States Congress passed legislation to fund travel for mothers of the fallen soldiers of World War I to visit their sons’ graves in France. Over the next three years, 6,693 Gold Star Mothers made the trip. This novel imagines the experience of five of these women. They are strangers at the start, but their lives will become inextricably intertwined and altered in indelible ways. These very different Gold Star Mothers travel to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery to say final good-byes to their sons and come together along the way to face the unexpected: a death, a scandal, and a secret revealed. None of these pilgrims will be as affected as Cora Blake, who has lived almost her entire life in a small fishing village off the coast of Maine, caring for her late sister’s three daughters, hoping to fill the void left by the death of her son, Sammy, who was killed on a scouting mission during the final days of the war. Cora believes she is managing as well as can be expected in the midst of the Depression, but nothing has prepared her for what lies ahead on this unpredictable journey, including an extraordinary encounter with an expatriate American journalist, Griffin Reed, who was wounded in the trenches and hides behind a metal mask, one of hundreds of “tin noses” who became symbols of the war. **** I was unaware of this program for the mothers of soldiers lost in WWI before reading this book. I enjoy historically based novels. This book certainly had the potential to illuminate the horrors of trench warfare, the tremendous destruction of France, and the effects of loss on American mothers. It did this, but I think some of the power of the story was lost in side events such as a minor romance, a predatory officer and an unexpected death. It is sort of like adding a fictional romance to the story of the sinking of the Titanic because the traumatic loss of 1500 lives and the demonstrations of true love and sacrifice are not interesting enough to hold one's attention. I wish the author had kept her focus on the amazing true events concerning World War I. It is not a bad book, but I think Ms. Smith's work in television shows up in the sacrifice of heart and valuable historical knowledge for entertainment.
Adult Fiction SMITH
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Cover Art: The Patrick Melrose novels : Never mind, Bad news, Some hope, and Mother's milk
The Patrick Melrose novels : Never mind, Bad news, Some hope, and Mother's milk
St. Aubyn, Edward, 1960-
**** stars. For more than twenty years, acclaimed author Edward St. Aubyn has chronicled the life of Patrick Melrose, painting an extraordinary portrait of the vicious and self-loathing world of privilege. This single volume collects the first four novels — "Never Mind", "Bad News", "Some Hope", and "Mother’s Milk", a Man Booker finalist—to coincide with the publication of "At Last", the final installment of this unique novel cycle. By turns harrowing and ironic, these beautifully written novels dissect the English upper class as we follow Patrick Melrose’s story from child abuse to heroin addiction and recovery. "Never Mind", the first novel, unfolds over a day and an evening at the family’s chateaux in the south of France, where the sadistic and terrifying figure of David Melrose dominates the lives of his five-year-old son, Patrick, and his rich and unhappy American mother, Eleanor. From abuse to addiction, the second novel, "Bad News" opens as the twenty-two-year-old Patrick sets off to collect his father’s ashes from New York, where he will spend a drug-crazed twenty-four hours. Back in England, the third novel, "Some Hope", offers a sober and clean Patrick the possibility of recovery. The fourth novel, the Booker-shortlisted "Mother’s Milk", returns to the family chateau, where Patrick, now married and a father himself, struggles with child rearing, adultery, his mother’s desire for assisted suicide, and the loss of the family home to a New Age foundation. ****** SPOILER ALERT PERHAPS!! Reading all four of these novel in the space of about a week is exhausting and very saddening. The first book creates one of the best descriptions of an amoral, possibly sociopathic character that I have ever read. It captures the total narcissism and lack of empathy required for a adult ( especially a parent ) to torture and abuse a child. There is some "comic" relief in the brutal depiction of the phoniness of the upper crust, but not enough to allay the harrowing experience of seeing the abuse from Patrick's eyes. It is not surprising that in the second novel, "Bad News", Patrick is an addict. It is a painful look at self-destruction and self-hatred. In "Some Hope" we find Patrick "sober" ( one must use this definition loosely ) because sobriety to me connotes healing and insight which does not really capture Patrick's life. The euphemism "dry drunk" comes more to mind. In "Some Hope" Patrick has grown enough emotionally to tell his best friend ( and former dealer ) about his child abuse. His mother Eleanor is so damaged that she has placed her faith and Patrick's inheritance into the hands of a charlatan. "Mother's Milk" is almost as painful as "Never Mind" because Patrick's precocious child attempts to meet the needs of his damaged parent. The effects of abuse go on. Patrick's mother has been abandoned by her guru and wants her son to help her die. Patrick is never "parented". Given this bleak description, why did I keep reading these books and give them 4 stars? First of all, the writing and insight into false society, abuse, and psychological pain are impeccable. St. Aubyn knows that no one ever completely "recovers" from profound child abuse, nor do the children and spouses / lovers of the abused. There is no false note in any of the books. There is, however, tremendous pain. There is some terrific sarcasm and analysis of the banality of the "British Elite", but never enough to balance the pain. I recommend these books highly if you believe the content will not be overwhelming.
Adult Fiction ST. AUB
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Cover Art: The goldfinch [sound recording] /
The goldfinch [sound recording]
Tartt, Donna.
*** stars. A thirteen-year-old boy in New York City, Theodore "Theo" Decker, survives a terrorist bombing attack in an art museum that takes the life of his mother. His father wasn't there, having deserted the family some time prior to these events. Theo accepts a ring and an enigmatic message given to him by a man, elderly Welton "Welty" Blackwell, who dies in the rubble of the explosion. Theo is willing to unravel the puzzle, because (before the bomb went off) he had found himself fascinated by a red-headed girl, Pippa, also at the Museum that day and who was somehow related to the old man, and on her account, he will grant the dying man's last request. Believing that the old man, Welty, is pointing at a painting (The Goldfinch) on the wall, Theo takes that also in his panicked escape. The taking of these items - one handed over freely, a family heirloom, the other a literally "priceless" painting by Carel Fabritius - was done by Theo in a state of terror, concussion, and shock, with no ability to reason how these minor-seeming actions would influence the rest of his life. **** Ms. Tartt generates a book about once every 10 years. This is a very long book. In some cases for me a very long book is a source of joy because you will dwell in the world the author has created for many hours. Such was the case for me with "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry. When a book causes you to mourn the fact that you only have 800 pages left, you know you are reading a masterpiece. Ms. Tartt's book did not do this for me. She needed an editor to say perhaps we should eliminate a couple of the plot twists.... The premise is very intriguing and Ms. Tartt is an excellent writer, but there are a few too many complications. We have the dysfunctional family in New York that first takes Theo in, then the father who shows up and moves him to Las Vegas... and his new best friend who will ultimately save his life in Amsterdam... and the family of the old man.... and Pippa... and Theo's addiction... and his selling of forged antiquities... and the untimely deaths of people who have cared for Theo... and... What began as a marvelous read turned into a marathon somewhere in the middle. I am still going to recommend the book because much of it is quite marvelous and if anyone else would find him / herself saying - I only have 800 pages left I don't want to be responsible for depriving anyone of that possibility.
Adult Fiction TARTT
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Cover Art: Island girls [sound recording] : a novel /
Island girls [sound recording] : a novel
Thayer, Nancy, 1943-
* 1/2 stars. Charming ladies’ man Rory Randall dies with one last trick up his sleeve: His will includes a calculating clause mandating a summer-long reunion for his daughters if they hope to inherit his posh Nantucket house. Relations among the three sisters are sour thanks to long-festering jealousies, resentments, and misunderstandings. Arden, a successful television host in Boston, hasn’t been back to the island since her teenage years, when accusations of serious misbehavior led to her banishment. College professor Meg hopes to use her summer to finish a literary biography and avoid an amorous colleague. And secretive Jenny, an IT specialist, faces troubling questions about her identity while longing for her sisters’ acceptance. To their surprise, the three young women find their newfound sisterhood easier to trust than the men who show up to complicate their lives. And if that weren’t problematic enough, their mothers descend on the island. When yet another visitor drops by the house with shocking news, the past comes back with a vengeance. Having all the women from his life under his seaside roof—and overseeing the subsequent drama of that perfect storm, Rory Randall might just be enjoying a hearty laugh from above. **** Sorry, I don't know why I keep reading this style of book when I basically know that reconciliation and love with triumph in the end every time. I guess my eternal optimist hopes that the author will surprise me, but alas not the case in this novel. If you like sentimental beach fluff ( as an avid mystery reader I cannot throw stones at any preference ) Ms. Thayer is far above average, but simply not my cup of tea. Cannot recommend.
Adult Fiction THAYER
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Cover Art: A question of honor /
A question of honor
Todd, Charles
**** stars. Bess Crawford enjoyed a wondrous childhood in India, where her father, a colonel in the British Army, was stationed on the Northwest Frontier. But an unforgettable incident darkened that happy time. In 1908, Colonel Crawford's regiment discovered that it had a murderer in its ranks, an officer who killed five people in India and England yet was never brought to trial. In the eyes of many of these soldiers, men defined by honor and duty, the crime was a stain on the regiment's reputation and on the good name of Bess's father, the Colonel Sahib, who had trained the killer. A decade later, tending to the wounded on the battlefields of France during World War I, Bess learns from a dying Indian sergeant that the supposed murderer, Lieutenant Wade, is alive—and serving at the Front. Bess cannot believe the shocking news. According to reliable reports, Wade's body had been seen deep in the Khyber Pass, where he had died trying to reach Afghanistan. Soon, though, her mind is racing. How had he escaped from India? What had driven a good man to murder in cold blood? Wanting answers, she uses her leave to investigate. In the village where the first three killings took place, she discovers that the locals are certain that the British soldier was innocent. Yet the present owner of the house where the crime was committed believes otherwise, and is convinced that Bess's father helped Wade flee. To settle the matter once and for all, Bess sets out to find Wade and let the courts decide. But when she stumbles on the horrific truth, something that even the famous writer Rudyard Kipling had kept secret all his life, she is shaken to her very core. The facts will damn Wade even as they reveal a brutal reality, a reality that could have been her own fate **** I am a huge fan of Charles Todd and his two series with Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford. Both series involve World War I - Bess as a nurse and Ian as a Scotland Yard detective attempting to recover from shell shock. I have bonded with both these well developed characters. I pick up each successive novel in the series as much to find out how the protagonists are faring as to enjoy the very well written mysteries. This is #5 in the Bess Crawford series. As always I recommend starting with the first book to appreciate the pain, growth, and accomplishments in each character.
Adult Fiction TODD
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Cover Art: Hunting shadows : an Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery /
Hunting shadows : an Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery
Todd, Charles
*** 1/2 stars. Ian Rutledge Mystery # 16. A dangerous case with ties leading back to the battlefields of World War I dredges up dark memories for Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge. A society wedding at Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire becomes a crime scene when a man is murdered. After a politician is shot as he begins a speech in a local square, the baffled local constabulary turns to Scotland Yard. Both men have been killed at long range with a rifle. Though the second crime has a witness, her description of the killer is so strange its unbelievable. Then a local farmer is wounded by a rifle shot. The victims are so different that there is no rhyme or reason to their deaths. Nothing logically seems to connect them except the killer. As the investigation widens, a clear suspect emerges. But for Rutledge, the facts still don’t add up, leaving him to question his own judgment. **** I really like this series. Mr. Todd has created a believable, complicated, admirable character in Rutledge. In addition he produces complicated mysteries that often leave the reader as perplexed as the protagonist until the final clue falls into place. I have read all the books in the series and, as always, I recommend that you start from the beginning with " A Test of Wills" so you can follow the development of the protagonist over time. Rutledge struggles continuously with "shell shock" and the brutality and horrible decisions of war. In this case it is World War I, but it could be any war, anywhere. Highly recommend the book and the series!!
Adult Fiction TODD
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Cover Art: The shoemaker's wife [sound recording] : [a novel] /
The shoemaker's wife [sound recording] : [a novel]
Trigiani, Adriana.
Adult Fiction TRIGIAN
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Cover Art: Red Hook Road [sound recording] : [a novel] /
Red Hook Road [sound recording] : [a novel]
Waldman, Ayelet.
*** stars. In the aftermath of a devastating wedding day, two families, the Tetherlys and the Copakens, find their lives unraveled by unthinkable loss. The bride and groom are killed within an hour of their marriage. Over the course of the next four summers in Red Hook, Maine, they struggle to bridge differences of class and background to honor the memory of the couple. Ms. Waldman explores the unique and personal ways in which each character responds to the tragedy, from the budding romance between the two surviving children, Ruthie and Matt, to the struggling marriage between Iris, a high strung professor in New York, and her husband Daniel, to the embittered mother who resents any attempts at reconciliation. ***** This novel looks at how five people attempt to respond to the loss of the two "golden children" of their families. According to Elizabeth Kubler Ross, there are 5 stages of grief: 1. Denial. 2. Anger 3. Bargaining. 4. Depression. 5. Acceptance. This novel finds all of these aspects in different people at different stages in the four years. I found myself wanting to know if or when acceptance would arrive for each survivor. Recommend
Adult Fiction WALDMAN
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Cover Art: Black diamond : [a mystery of the French countryside] /
Black diamond : [a mystery of the French countryside]
Walker, Martin, 1947 January 23-
*** 1/2 During the early pages of Black Diamond, readers unfamiliar with Martin Walker's French policeman, Bruno Courreges, would be forgiven for thinking that they had stumbled into a set of Peter Mayle charactrs. The genial police inspector loves to cook hearty dishes laced with the truffles he's found in the woods. There is the mad English woman whom he is dating. Walker's characters seem at first to be familiar types, and his evocation of rural France comforting. As the only policeman in St Denis, Courreges is responsible for everything from crowd control to charity collections. So investigating rumors about a truffle scam in the local market while trying to find out who has attacked a Vietnamese family's stall is more or less business as usual. This bucolic town lulls the reader into a sense of security. Because of this it all the more shocking when one of Courreges's friendds is found brutally murdered. In discovering why his friend has been killed in such a cruel way, Courreges has to piece together unsavoury facts from France's colonial past, and call on his contacts in the Secret Service. As he realises that there was more to his friend than he ever thought possible, so it dawns on the reader that Courreges is no bumbling plod but a keen investigator. **** I really enjoyed this mystery and am looking forward to reading more books in this series. I did not realize that this is #3 in the series, so I want to go back to the beginning. Very enjoyable, especially if you are a Francophile.
Adult Fiction WALKER
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Cover Art: Habits of the house [sound recording] : a novel /
Habits of the house [sound recording] : a novel
Weldon, Fay.
** stars As the Season of 1899 comes to an end, the world is poised on the brink of profound, irrevocable change. The Earl of Dilberne is facing serious financial concerns. The ripple effects spread to everyone in the household: Lord Robert, who has gambled unwisely on the stock market and seeks a place in the Cabinet; his unmarried children, Arthur, who keeps a courtesan, and Rosina, who keeps a parrot in her bedroom; Lord Robert’s wife Isobel, who orders the affairs of the household in Belgrave Square; and Grace, the lady’s maid who orders the life of her mistress. Lord Robert can see no financial relief to an already mortgaged estate, and, though the Season is over, his thoughts turn to securing a suitable wife (and dowry) for his son. The arrival on the London scene of Minnie, a beautiful Chicago heiress with a reputation to mend, seems the answer to all their prayers. **** Fay Weldon was a writer of "Upstairs, Downstairs". I loved this old series and had high hopes for this book when it was compared to "Downton Abbey". Unfortunately this book is neither of these stories. The writing style is nice, but the tale has been told too many times. I wanted to like it more.
Adult Fiction WELDON
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Cover Art: Falling home /
Falling home
White, Karen
1 1/2 stars. Cassie hasn't returned home in 15 years- not to see her sister, not to see her father, and not to see her childhood home. She keeps herself cocooned in New York, unable to face the event that made her want to leave Walton, Georgia in the first place. When Cassie gets the dreaded phone call- her father is dying and has requested her presence at his bedside. She decides to return home one last time.When she arrives back in Walton, not much has changed and she is reassured that her decision to leave was for the best. If it wasn't for the fact that she has grown to adore the nieces and nephew that she has never met, as well as the fact that her father has left her the house in its entirety, she would have been on the first plane back to New York. The longer that she stays, the more of her past becomes resolved, but will Cassie start to see things clearly for the first time in a long time, or will her past drive her away again? **** This is not a bad book. I liked the characters, but it is too much of a romance novel for me and too predictable very early in the tale. If you are a fan of the tearful reconciliation / boy meets girl, boy and girl fight, boy and girl.... then this is the book for you. For me, I cannot recommend the book.
Adult Fiction WHITE
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Cover Art: The time between /
The time between
White, Karen
*** stars Thirty-four-year-old Eleanor Murray is consumed with guilt for causing the accident that paralyzed her sister and for falling in love with her sister’s husband. But when her boss offers her a part-time job caring for his elderly aunt, Helena, Eleanor accepts, hoping this good deed will help atone for her mistakes. On the barrier island of Edisto, near Charleston, Eleanor slowly draws out the bitter and withdrawn Helena through their mutual love of music and of GiGi, her boss's daughter. Drawing the older woman out of her depression, Eleanor learns of her life in Hungary, with her sister, before and during World War II. She hears tales of passion and heartache, defiance and dangerous deception. And when the truth of Helena and her sister’s actions comes to light, Eleanor may finally allow herself to move past her own guilt. **** Very nice character development. Sometimes moves a little slowly in reaching the WWII history, some of which is telegraphed early on. The romance is predicable, but not a large part of the story line. Could have used some editing, but I mildly recommend the book.
Adult Fiction WHITE
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Cover Art: A hundred summers /
A hundred summers
Williams, Beatriz
* STAR. Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak. That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview. Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé. Their recent marriage has set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily's friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations. ********** I hate romances!! This one is a predictable as they all are!! The "great secrets" that are supposed to be so intriguing are easily deduced. A Harlequin Romance in disguise. I often like novels set in the 1920's thru 1940's, but felt tricked by such reviews as this one: “Novels as masterfully done as A Hundred Summers come along only about that often. Beatriz Williams delivers an intricately woven tale of friendship, betrayal, old families, and closely guarded secrets." Thankfully they only come around once every 100 summers as the reviewer states!! Recommendation: Unless you are a lover "do the boy and girl finally get together?" books, give this one a pass!!!
Adult Fiction WILLIAM
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Cover Art: The Ashford affair /
The Ashford affair
Willig, Lauren.
** 1/2 stars. As a lawyer in a large Manhattan firm, just shy of making partner, Clementine Evans has finally achieved almost everything she’s been working towards, but now she’s not sure it’s enough. Her long hours have led to a broken engagement and, suddenly single at thirty-four, she feels her messy life crumbling around her. But when the family gathers for her grandmother Addie’s ninety-ninth birthday, a relative lets slip hints about a long-buried family secret, leading Clemmie on a journey into the past that could change everything. . . .What follows is a story that spans generations and continents. From the inner circles of WWI-era British society to the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the red-dirt hills of Kenya, the never-told secrets of a woman and a family unfurl. This is not a bad book - I liked many of the characters, but for me there is still a very large unexplained gap in the life of one of the main characters and the boy meets girl, boy and girl are alienated, boy and girl resolve differences and fall madly in love story has been told ad nauseum. Why is it that so many authors believe that a man is always needed to make a woman's life meaningful? If you are more of a "romance" oriented person than I, you may find this book delightful. Mild recommendation.
Adult Fiction WILLIG
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Cover Art: The care and management of lies : a novel of the Great War /
The care and management of lies : a novel of the Great War
Winspear, Jacqueline, 1955-
**** stars. The New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series turns her prodigious talents to this World War I standalone novel. By July 1914, the ties between Kezia Marchant and Thea Brissenden, friends since girlhood, have become strained by Thea’s passionate embrace of women’s suffrage, and by the imminent marriage of Kezia to Thea’s brother, Tom, who runs the family farm. When Kezia and Tom wed just a month before war is declared between Britain and Germany, Thea’s gift to Kezia is a book on household management, a veiled criticism of the bride’s rural life to come. Yet when Tom enlists to fight for his country and Thea is drawn reluctantly onto the battlefield, the farm becomes Kezia’s responsibility. Each must find a way to endure the ensuing cataclysm and turmoil. As Tom marches to the front lines, and Kezia battles to keep her ordered life from unraveling, they hide their despair in letters and cards filled with stories woven to bring comfort. Even Tom’s fellow soldiers in the trenches enter and find solace in the dream world of Kezia’s mouth-watering, albeit imaginary meals. But will well-intended lies and self-deception be of use when they come face to face with the enemy? **********I have read and enjoyed Ms. Winspear's Maisie Dobbs detective series, so without the intrigue of the mystery and the loss of Maisie I was skeptical about a stand-alone novel. The first 2/3 of the book sets the stage for interwoven lives of Kezie, Tom, Thea, Edward ( the local estate owner and Tom's commanding officer )and Kezia's father who volunteers as a chaplain in France. The book is very well written and the character development is marvelous, but I was still withholding judgment until the end. I read the last 1/3 in one sitting as I could not wait to find out the resolution of the lives of 5 people whom I had come to care about deeply. Highly recommend
Adult Fiction WINSPEA
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Cover Art: The Interestings /
The Interestings
Wolitzer, Meg.
** stars. The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become an inseparable group. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In "The Interestings", Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge. The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. The friendships endure and some even prosper, but the relationships also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken. ****** Jules Jacobson, the primary protagonist, requires many years to begin to really question whether "the interestings" really have qualities that make them special, i.e. more important or valuable than non-members of the club. She finally asks herself what the "interestings" she has idolized since her teens have lost through their persistent efforts to opt in to the upper echelons of society. She finally wonders if all of them have inaccurately defined success by believing they would only fit in once they stood out or would only matter if they were extraordinary. It’s Jules’s husband, Dennis, a man unafraid to call himself ordinary, who brings her to this realization. “Specialness — everyone wants it,” he tells her in frustration, fed up with her perpetual comparisons to her childhood pals. His answer and mine is NO!! In fact, what they valued as teens as special had more to do with skills and talents than any psychological depth or warmth that was motivated by or concerned with the well-being of other people or the world. Jules adored the "interestings" simply because they invited her in and convinced her she was special too. I wanted to like this book, but unfortunately the protagonists were not very "interesting" and it took a very likable girl / woman far too long to discover what really makes a person special. Cannot recommend!!
Adult Fiction WOLITZE
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