At the time that Mary Ellin Barrett’s parents met, her father Irving Berlin was the world’s most popular, famous, and financially successful songwriter. He had started as a penniless Russian Jewish immigrant, an uneducated child who had scrounged for a living by singing to the drunken wastrels of New York’s sleazy bowery. A dozen years after the death of his first wife (who passed away just months after their marriage), Berlin met the much younger Ellin Mackay, daughter of Clarence Mackay, a fabulously wealthy businessman. Ellin was Catholic, well educated, socially promin
Eleanor & Park are two high school misfits living in 1986, Omaha, Nebraska. Park is half-Asian, his mom is Korean and his dad American, and looks just different enough to stand out in his white bread community. Eleanor has long, frizzy red hair, is full-figured and lives in one of the saddest situations you can possibly imagine. She has recently come home to her 4 siblings, mother and no-good stepfather after having been away for over a year.
This book was far outside my normal reading, and that novelty may be a large contributing factor towards how much I enjoyed it. Gideon Smith & the Mechanical Girl is a Steampunk novel, set, of course, in Victorian England – specifically 1890. The author, David Barnett, presents an alternate history that includes Pulp-Adventurers, Bram Stoker, Elizabeth Bathory, Frog-man M
Newly graduated Jane Forrester, is eager to begin her career as a case worker for the Department of Welfare. It is the 1960’s and times are changing in North Carolina and Jane is eager to make a difference. Jane is assigned to an area in rural Grace County and her clientele are poor laborers who live and work on the local tobacco farms. It becomes obvious that Jane is too tender-hearted for this job and she quickly becomes emotionally involved with one of her clients, Ivy Hart. Fifteen-year-old Ivy cares for her declining grandmother, her mentally ill older sister and her infant nephew.
Nora Eldridge dwells upon what she perceives as her unhappy, spinster life while she grieves the death of her beloved mother and teaches third grade at Appleton Elementary School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The author of “Manson: The life and times of Charles Manson” brings us a life story, rather than the history of the Manson murders.
Charles Manson was born in 1934 to a teenaged mother. He often said that his mother was a prostitute, but here was no evidence of that. She did get pregnant at 15 and when the father didn’t want any part of the baby, she somehow talked William Manson into marrying her before Charlie was born. Kathleen Manson was a party girl who liked a good time and drinking and dancing, which her Nazarene mother strongly objected to.
Comic books, especially superhero comics, are not a part of my daily life, but I couldn’t resist the lure of the infographics in this book. Once I started looking at the charts, I had to read every page, despite not recognizing many of the characters—especially the villains.
If you like musing over a book's not-so-clear-cut ending for days afterward, you may love The Other Typist, too. The entire story is presented from Rose’s first-person perspective. Rose works as a typist at a New York City police precinct during Prohibition, transcribing criminals’ confessions. Alone for most of her life, she eventually begins a surprising and close friendship with the appealing and attractive new hire, Odalie.
Theodosia Browning owns the charming Indigo Tea Shop, located in the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina. Local business owners fear that a real estate developer is attempting to buy their properties for redevelopment. Then the developer is found slumped over a cup of Theodosia’s tea—dead. The police suspect that Theo and her staff of caused his demise, despite a lack of evidence, so Theo must track down the killer to clear her name and regain the excellent reputation of her shop.
I have found a new favorite mystery writer/series (unless the author tanks it in book 2 of the series...highly unlikely)! Kate Burkholder is the Police Chief in the small town of Painters Mill, Ohio, where she grew up in an Amish family. Some pretty dramatic and traumatizing events (detailed in the book) cause her to leave the Amish culture and join English society.
For the first time since her husband’s death, Natalie Waters is returning to her family’s cabin in the secluded north woods of Wisconsin. She expects to be surrounded by her memories and solitude, but what she finds is something altogether different. After her dog is attacked by a wolf, Natalie finds herself in the middle of the heated conflict between local advocates of the Timber Wolf population and local hunters. Her once peaceful retreat is now threatened by violence. Natalie turns to some old friends for support and ends up on another little adventure.
If you are tired of dystopian tales read no further.
Still here? Good, I have a book that you may enjoy. Jennifer Government was released in 2004 though I think the content seems more relevant today than it did prior to the 2008 financial meltdown and its subsequent fallout.
A crippled hospital, an orphaned young girl, and two heroic doctors provide the axis for a powerful story set in the war weary Russian province of Chechnya during a decade of tension that begins in 1994. "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" allows the profound despair saturating the intersecting lives of inhabitants in a small Chechen village to come alive one character, one page at a time. Author Anthony Marra also weaves a spellbinding, historical narrative to accompany his story of loss, betrayal, love, and hope.
I have been a Neil Gaiman fan since reading my first Sandman graphic novel many years ago, his book American Gods is the only reason I ever went to House on the Rock and he writes Dr. Who episodes – so enough said, I’m an fan boy. His latest work certainly doesn’t hurt his legacy. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a short book, if you get sucked in like I did you can knock it out in a night.
I loved this book. Joyland is about characters, more than anything. Granted, there are a couple ghosts, but they are incidental characters. Since it is published by Hard Case Crime, there is a murder too, but it happened before the timeframe of the book and is peripheral until near the very end, where action takes over and we find out “whodunit”.
I love looking at cookbooks. Though many of the recipes have the same basic background, each cook or chef can give them a little twist to make them new again. Sometimes cookbooks are also art. There are even awards for artistic merit in cookbooks. Two recent additions to the Appleton Public Library cookbook collection fall into the "art + cookbook" niche.
The Little Miss Bronte series, part of the BabyLit book series published by Gibbs Smith, are an elegant way to introduce the youngest child to the world of classical literature. Jane Eyre is a counting primer, and counts drawings, trees, pearls, and books, with quotes interspersed, such as "this book I had again and again perused with delight".
Wuthering Heights is a weather primer, so for breezy, the quote is "the weather was sweet and warm" and for stormy we read, "the storm came rattling over the Heights in full fury."
I love Paul. I love the black-and-white, curvy casual style in which his stories are illustrated. I would learn to read French if I were to learn that the Paul stories would no longer be translated into English. I've read Rabaliati's other semi-autobiographical stories, and have enjoyed following Paul's life in Canada from his summer job as a camp counselor to moving into his first place with his fiance in the city to his becoming a father. Rabagliati adds a new dimension to Paul's story by focusing on his in-laws, with emphasis on his wife's father, Roland.
Moss Hart was an enormously successful playwright (“You Can’t Take It With You,” “The Man Who Came to Dinner”), screenwriter (“A Star is Born”), and stage director (“My Fair Lady,” “Camelot”), but this classic memoir deals not with those masterworks, but with his beginnings. It tells the tale of his impoverished New York childhood and the steps leading to his first success, a collaboration with the legendary George S. Kaufmann. This is one of the great memoirs of the era and a must read for anyone interested in theater.
I had long heard of Mary Roach's titles but never tried one. Gulp fell into my lap when a coworker heard about it and placed it on hold for me, figuring I would like it. I can see why Mary Roach's writing is so popular: she mixes great, science-y information with a fantastic sense of humor that is typically presented in tongue-in-cheek or dry asides as well as side-splitting footnotes.
Tess Delaney makes a living recovering precious artifacts and returning them to their rightful owners. Little does she know that when she reunites an heirloom necklace, stolen by the Nazis, to Annalise Winther, she has set in motion events that will turn her world on its end. Tess’s story unravels on an apple orchard located in the lush and beautiful backdrop of the Sonoma Valley. It won’t take long for the simple country lifestyle to begin winning over this workaholic, but will a loving family and a promising romance be enough to convince Tess to stay…?
Family. Few words evoke more emotion. In "The Burgess Boys", Elizabeth Strout introduces a trio of siblings who wear the scars of unpleasant childhood memories. Jim, Susan, and Bobby manage to keep the evidence of old wounds well hidden from each other by living relatively separate lives. There exists an obvious pecking order enhanced by sarcasm and tainted with a profound sadness permeating all areas of their lives. Change is put into motion when a nephew's unwise decision brings them together to solv
I picked this book off the shelf without knowing the back story on it. I thought it odd that is was in the fiction section, as it seemed to be a book that might be connected with Antiques Roadshow. I opened it up to a page with a wine glass that had a Women & Infants logo. Wondering what the story was behind that I started reading and found myself pulled into a story about family lies, abandonment, reunion, understanding and forgiveness. This, along with some great wine reviews. All on a single page! (Tasting Notes, by Jeff Turrentine).
Jackie Hart, transplanted to small town Florida from Boston, decides she needs to be more than just a wife and mother to three children. She creates a radio persona who has a late-night show, and soon the whole town is talking about the mysterious Miss Dreamsville.
In Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, a book seller takes his son Daniel to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where he finds among its labyrinthine stacks a book by Julian Carax called The Shadow of the Wind. It's the best book he's ever read and he wants to learn more about the author and read more of his books, but he discovers that not much is known about the author and that copies of his books are notoriously difficult to find. Daniel isn't satisfied with this and endeavors to learn more.
This sweet, sweet book is aimed directly at people like me who like pretty much anything with fur, feathers, or four feet. Written by National Geographic magazine writer Jennifer Holland, it was suggested to me after a co-worker --who also has a menagerie of cats (and birds) at home-- happened upon it one day while perusing the New Books display shelves.
I love being outside; hearing, smelling, and feeling nature. As a kid, I spent many afternoons just sitting up in “my tree.” I would read or write little stories about the things I saw in the clouds. I would actually get excited when it rained in the spring so I could go searching for worms that had been flushed from their homes.
This recipe book is separated into “Savory” and “Sweet” sections, as well as an “And More” section that incorporates popcorn into meals (I have never done anything from that last section). The very beginning of the book talks a little about popping corn, including how to make your own microwave popcorn in paper lunch bags if you don’t own a popper or don’t like to make it on the stovetop.
Wow! This book (and audio book) are absolutely phenomenal. I will start by saying, as a rule, I never enjoy books written in verse. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this one - especially listening to the audio. Five different voice actors perform the role of two dozen passengers and crew, and even the Iceberg.
After pediatrician Andi Gordon was left stranded at the altar, she knew she needed to make a fresh start for herself. She is now the owner of one of the famed Three Sisters historic houses on Blackberry Island. Here she plans on opening her own practice and start her new life. Her house is the only one of the three houses that has been neglected, the other two have been fully restored by their devoted owners. One neighbor is Boston King, an artist who shares her house with her husband Zeke.
The transformative power of literary fiction is debated, challenged, and celebrated in "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi. A former professor of literature in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nafisi uses prolific authors the likes of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov to connect with students coming of age during a very tumultuous time in Iran's history. The Memoir illuminates the delicate fabric that is Iran by weaving a story set against the backdrop of a revolution and subsequent war with neighboring Iraq.
In this novel Dan Simmons portrays psychic vampires in a horror genre, which he uses to illuminate real evil in this world. I read this book in 1989 when it was first published and it has stayed with me.
Donald Spoto’s account of the Redgraves has the feel of a readable “intellectual” soap opera, for the talented Redgraves were well known for their work in the theatre and film world but their private lives were anything but conventional. There are many instances of infidelity, divorce, dysfunctional parenting, and the insecurities that resulted from these issues.
I'm finding it difficult to begin a review of this book--this story packed into this little volume is large in scope and dense in detail. The story told is of a group of smart folks coming together as friends and being friends when one member finds evidence of life in Alpha Centauri. Another member, a Jesuit priest named Emilio Sandoz then makes a proposal to the Society of Jesus that this group travel to this other star system, find the planet these other beings live on, and go meet them.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of biographies have been written about Winston Churchill, but none are as insightful, or as gracefully written, as this brilliant work by William Manchester. The book is in two parts: Visions of Glory, which covers the first 58 years of Churchill’s life; and Alone, detailing the 1930s, when Churchill was out of government.
It is the 1950s and seventeen year old Kit Corrigan has not had an easy life. She is part of a set of triplets that were raised by their poor, Irish, immigrant father in Providence, RI. The triplets (aka The Corrigan Three) lost their mother during their birth. Kit has always had big dreams of being a performer on Broadway and after the break up of her rocky relationship with boyfriend Billy, Kit heads out to New York City with stars in her eyes. Meanwhile, Billy and Kit's brother, Jamie, enlist in the Army together and are preparing to ship off to Korea.