Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Life's a Beach!

If you love to laugh about everyday things, pick up Calypso by David Sedaris. As he comes to terms with middle age, David has an even sharper tongue about what bothers him and everything else. He has purchased a beach home in North Carolina and invites his extended family down for vacations and holidays. He then proceeds to endure, enjoy and exasperate them by being himself. Sedaris is edgy and very funny. Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2018

A library is a small town.

Back when Andrew Carnegie was building public libraries in every city across America, the town of Riverton, NH, had its own mogul, whose name was Robers, which morphed into "Robbers" through probably equal parts humor and resentment. In Sue Halpern's latest, Summer Hours at the Robbers Library,the town barely hangs on, but the library is now its best-maintained building. Halpern brings together three oddball characters in this setting and follows them through their encounters with multiple points of view. There is librarian Kit, fresh from therapy following marriage to a controlling monster, Solstice (Sunny), a teenager whose parents live off the grid and hide a secret past, and Rusty, a fugitive from Wall Street. When Sunny is assigned community service at the library after being arrested for shoplifting, she soon connects with Kit and Rusty. Readers will be taken with this beautifully written novel with appealing characters
.Halpern subtly tests our assumptions about self, love, marriage, family, vocation, and ethics, both personal and communal. Along the way, she offers a realistic view of the struggles and triumphs of a small public library, while framing it as a safe place in which to search for answers and solace. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Witness to Murder

What would you do if you saw a murder through your window and were unable to leave your house to get help? This is exactly what happens to Anna Fox. She’s a child psychologist suffering from agoraphobia. A new family has moved in across the park from her New York home and when she is caught looking at them through her window the woman and her son come over to visit. When Anna looks over another time she sees a stabbing. She alerts authorities but the family claims innocence and make her look like mental case.The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn is a thrilling, informative book about the strangers next door. DB

Thursday, May 24, 2018

My mom, the best cook!

Here is a beautifully written memoir, The Best Cook In The World  by Rick Bragg, a man who can't cook very well-at least according to his mother. And that mother, Margaret Bragg, is the central figure in this culinary history from author Bragg, who is known for family stories.  This story begins with his great-grandfather Jimmy Jim teaching Bragg's grandmother Ava to cook when she was a newlywed. Other legendary family cooks make appearances, along with family legends of all kinds. For Bragg, food and stories go hand in hand, and Margaret is not only the chief cook, she is also the chief storyteller. These accounts are more than entertainment; they are a way for people to survive hard times. We should all be so lucky to sit at the elbow of a great cook as they work and pass along family knowledge.

Moving On

Joanna Cantor's novel, Alternative Remedies For Loss, follows 22-year-old New Yorker Olivia Harris as she contends with her close-knit family and decides to make a film to honor her mother, Eleanor, after she dies of cancer. Olivia uses her brother Alec's connections to get an entry-level job at a Manhattan production company. There, she meets and get involved with Michel Zahavi, a client 16 years her senior. While Olivia treats the relationship as a temporary situation to help her cope with her loss, Michel appears to be more attached. Meanwhile, Olivia and her brothers are aghast that their father brings his new girlfriend on a family trip to India a few months after Eleanor's death. After the trip, while sorting through Eleanor's things, Olivia discovers some curious notes signed by "F" that lead her on a journey back to India to find out the truth about who F is.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Ah, romance. Quite a few serious readers scorn the romance genre as poorly written. But in the novel Frenchman's Creek, Daphne Du Maurier gives us great writing as well as romance. Dona, a noblewoman of the 18th century is feeling confined and weary by the relentless social life she has in London. On a whim she escapes to her family's country house along with her two children. Here, in beautiful countryside she feels peace and contentment. She also meets a Frenchman, a pirate who has been terrorizing the countryside. Both feel an immediate connection. There is love, adventure and a killing...  Du Maurier explores the themes of escape and women's lives when they don't live up to social conventions. The ending is bittersweet, both characters being deeply changed by their encounter. The descriptions of the Cornwall coast are wonderfully evocative. ML

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mostly Healthy

Maybe just me, but if I am reading a cookbook and there are too many ingredients I either don't know or have to shop at a special store for, I won't cook the dish. Healthyish, the new cookbook by Lindsay Maitland Hunt, is not that book. Filled with simple and appealing foods, this book is tailored for cooks seeking a more balanced diet. In chapters for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and more, Hunt employs an impressive range of time-saving techniques that minimize prep and cleanup. Dishes such as cozy bean and egg skillet for two, kimchi-fried faro, and one-pan crispy chicken with herbed potatoes make smart use of staples such as precooked grains, canned beans, and rotisserie chicken. Recipes for "go-to" components such as compound butters and quick pickles make it easy to jazz up everyday meals like salads and toast. Whether you like to leave cooking till the last minute or enjoy whipping up a big batch of something to eat throughout the week, this book will serve you well!  ML