Thursday, May 7, 2015

Island Bliss?

What could be more wonderful that traveling to Mallorca for a family vacation? The Post family from NYC has invited family friends to share in their island retreat. But is everything idyllic?

For Jim and Franny Post, this is a celebration of 35 years together but the couple are at odds over an recent event that has thrown their relationship off course. Franny, the planner of the bunch, is concerned with putting together meals and day trips to avoid the unspoken elephant in the room. Jim is questioning his choices and wondering where life will go from here.

The recent grad Sylvia is relieved to be out of the city and is looking forward to escaping to college. Bobby, the son who has relocated to Florida, brings his unpopular girlfriend to add fuel to the already simmering emotions.

On the surface, everything is fine. What lies beneath is the true tale.

Pick up The Vacationers for a contemplative read.

Review by Cara

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lusitania; Trimuph, Tragedy and the End of the Edwardian Age by  Greg King and Penny Wilson

Greg King and Penny Wilson put human faces on the tragedy of the Lusitania sinking.  He artly laces historical facts along with personality sketches of some of the people on the fateful journey. The authors were able to give a voice to people like actress Rita Jolivet, Alfred Vanderbilt, Dorothy Conner, Albert and Gladys Bilicke all high society personages. Also imparted were descriptions of the accomodations of First, Second and Third class passengers, what they paid for those accomodations and how those prices would compare with today's prices. Parts were difficult to read...the suffering was palatable along with the description of the chaos that occurred as travelers tried valiantly to save their 18 minutes. With the 100 anniversary of the sinking approaching on May 7, 2015 it is worth a look at a time gone by but with a lasting imprint on the soul of the USA, Germany, England and  many pulled into the tragedy of   WWI. Illustrations included.

Reviewed by Karen H

Monday, April 6, 2015

Front CoverBook Review:  Restoration by Rose Tremain

Restoration is a dazzling romp through 17th-century England. The main character Robert Merivel not only embodies the contradictions of his era, but ours as well. He is trapped between the longing for wealth and power and the realization that the pursuit of these trappings can leave one's life rather empty.
This is a heartfelt alternately joyful and devastating read about the growth of the main character Robert Merivel.   This book was initially published in 1989 and with this reprinting continues to fascinate new audiences.  Readers will experience a seesaw of emotions sometimes rooting for Merivel and then wanting to scold him!  The ending is realistic and satisfying.  There is also a sequel to look forward to!

For ever eager Historical fiction aficionados!    

Review by Karen 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Winner of the 2015 Newbery Award

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Teen Fiction

A book for middle grade readers (age 9 - 13) , written in verse, about basketball players?  Not much about that description would put this book on most adult’s “to read” list.  I picked it up after learning that it was the 2015 Newbery Award winner. It took about five minutes to realize why this book was chosen as the most distinguished of the year. It is a exceptional novel for young teens and adult readers.

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering."  

This is not your fusty old classic written in iambic pentameter.  Twelve-year-old Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan have the moves and the attitude to be big stars on the basketball court. Raised by their father, a former Olympian and pro turned stay-at-home dad, and their mother, an assistant principal, the boys have a stable and loving family watching their backs. They are inseparable until Jordan starts to show increasing interest in the lovely female friend Josh calls “Miss Sweet Tea.” Worried about his dad’s health, confused and frustrated with his brother, Josh starts to butt heads with those around him and ultimately lashes out and has to deal with the consequences.

The verse styles range all over from musical to blank verse to concrete poems and more. The poetry is an important part of the feel of the novel and the marvel is that it never seems forced or false and it lends Josh’s voice a real sense of authenticity and personality. The pitch and pace of the novel is just right, effectively transmitting the strong emotions of the characters and building the story. Told over the space of several months in their 7th grade year, this novel deals with issues that all people can relate to - growing up, family loyalty, independence, self respect, pride, anger, fear, regret. Forgiveness.

This book is recommended for all ages.  While it is a great choice for reluctant readers, don’t stop there.  Read it yourself and share it with any young teen in your life.

Review by Amy

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Modern Scholar: How to Think: The Liberal Arts and Their Enduring Value
Book on CD Review:  How To Think:  The Liberal Arts and Their Enduring Value:  Michael D. C Drout
In How to Think: The Liberal Arts and Their Enduring Value, Professor Michael D. C. Drout give an impassioned defense and celebration of the value of the liberal arts.  Charting the evolution of the liberal arts from their roots in the educational system of Ancient Rome through the Middle Ages and to the present day, Drout shows how the liberal arts have consistently been” the tools to rule” essential to the education of the leaders of society.  Offering a reasoned defense of their continuing value, Drout also provides suggestions for improving the state of the liberal arts in contemporary society.     
This is an excellent program.  Professor Drout has a gift for making all the parts and parcels of knowledge accumulated over a time period come together in a cogent and interesting way.  His love of the liberal arts, literature, grammar and other disciplines shines through in all his recorded books offerings but none in such a way as this offering!  Please pick this up! It will engage your mind and lead you on a great journey.

Reviewed by Karen   

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Interested in Alternate History Books?

My Real Children by Jo Walton

Patricia has three children. Or does she have four?  Is she a housewife who’s rarely left Britain or a travel writer who loves all things Italian? 

Spending her last days in the dementia ward of a nursing home, ninety year old Patricia is used to forgetting things.  She forgets small things, such as the day of the week or where she left her glasses, and she forgets very big things as when she forgets her grandson’s recent death.  However, something is different.  She is certain that she remembers two distinct lives with very different paths all based on one fateful decision. Yes or No?  Now or Never?   

Based on the idea that a decision can literally change the whole world, this novel of alternative history will appeal to readers of domestic literature who don’t mind a little fantasy/science fiction thread woven in. 

For fans of Life After Life (Atkinson) and  The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Review by Amy

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Kind Worth Killing

It’s become quite the fashion to label each new suspense novel “the next Gone Girl.”  In this case, I think fans of that novel will really enjoy The Kind Worth Killing.  It is a dark, psychological thriller which also features plot twists and rather unlikeable characters. 

An homage to Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train, Swanson’s book opens in an airport bar where Ted Severson meets the beautiful Lily Kitner while waiting on their delayed plane. Telling him that they are just playing a game, Lily encourages Ted to tell her a secret. Ted, more than a little drunk and stinging from the recent discovery that his attractive young wife Miranda is having an affair, confides that he would really like to kill his wife.  Said out of frustration and pain rather than a declaration of intent, Ted’s a bit taken aback when Lily encourages him to go ahead and do it. Telling Ted that she believes that some people are simply toxic and that eliminating them does the world a service, she offers to help right the wrong done to him by joining him in figuring out a way to get away with killing Miranda. Moving forward and backward in time, the novel twists and turns, hides then reveals. 

Are some people really worth killing?  Don’t start it before bed or you’ll be up all night trying to find out.

Review by Amy