Tuesday, May 31, 2011

all that glitters...

Judith Miller's Costume Jewelry is another lavish and beautifully photographed reference about costume jewelry. Miller appears on the BBC's "Antiques Roadshow" and has authored more than 100 books on collecting. This volume first explores the subject by era, from ancient times to the 21st century and then by major designers such as Trifari and Adele Simpson. There are also chapters on galleries and future designers. A wonderful book to use as reference or just enjoy. ML

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


When Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the early '50s she didn't know that samples of her cells were taken and grown in a lab. These aggressive cells, known as HeLa, grew into an immortal cell line used in labs around the world. HeLa cells were well known in the science world, being used in medical and scientific research. These cells even flew on the space shuttle. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is the story of the HeLa cells but much more importantly this is the story of Henrietta Lacks and of her family, who knew nothing about these cells for more than 20 years. SG

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Teen-Adult Crossover Title

What if absolutely everything about your life was decided for you, from what you'll eat for lunch to when you'll draw your last breath? In Matched, the first book of Ally Condie's terrifying dystopian trilogy, nothing is left up to either chance or choice--and everyone accepts this way of life without question. Well, almost everyone. Matched centers around 17-year-old Cassia, who, at the beginning of the book, is enroute to her Matching Ceremony. Here, she will learn the identity of her future husband. To her happiness, she is matched with her best friend, Xander. Then she receives a second match to Ky, a boy who is considered to be an outcast and who is not even supposed to be in the matching pool. Not surprisingly, Cassia and Ky fall in love, and Cassia begins to question everything about her life she previously, and rather blindly, accepted without a second thought. She learns that her society's government may not the benign entity she always assumed it to be. She learns what happens to those who dare to be different. Comparable to Lowry's The Giver and Orwell's 1984, Matched is action-packed and filled with plot twists both disturbing and intriguing. Readers will be interested until the final page. Cassia's and Ky's adventures continue in Crossed, which will be released November 2011. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A funny lady!

Betty White has been in many tv series and movies. She has also written about her life and her latest book, If You Ask Me, (And of Course You Won't), mixes observations about aging, television, and acting. The focus is on the last fifteen years of her long and productive life. What a treat to read a memoir that is funny, uplifting and without rancor. ML

Mystery in Venice

Drawing Conclusions,the latest book by Donna Leon in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, is as always, a well-written mystery. Commissario Brunetti is an Italian policeman in Venice. His character is really the feature of the book, as well as the plot. Brunetti hates the corrupt nature of the Italian political system, loves his wife and also her cooking! The mysteries are usually solved in a very methodical and cerebral manner. Brunetti also has the help of a master hacker, his superior's secretary. There is a strong sense of place also in the novels, depicting Venice as lovely and not immune to the woes of illegal immigration, corruption and murder. ML

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The poverty industry

Broke, USA :From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. - How the Working Poor Became Big Business by Gary Rivlin isn't about the dollar stores and mini-marts that cater to people who need to get by on less. This is about pay-day lenders, check-cashing stores and subprime mortgages. The industry started with pawn shops loaning money for your ring or gold watch. The customer paid back the money plus a high interest rate to get the item back. Now there are people who offer to do income tax for free and then offer to give the customer an instant refund minus a large fee. This book is eye opening and stomach upsetting. Payday lenders have huge TV advertising budgets targeting the intended audience. Subprime mortgages worked as long as property values were rising. There would only be a problem if prices fell and they did. People were trapped in mortgages they couldn't afford with housing prices falling. As more families went into foreclosue, prices fell even more. We all know the rest. STE

Monday, May 9, 2011

creative ageing

Molly Peacock's book The Paper Garden:an Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72, is a biography but so much more. Written by poet Peacock, the author entwines scenes from her own life with that of her subject: Mary Granville Pendarves Delany, (1700-1788). Her life reads like a gothic novel, at seventeen she was married off to a drunken elderly aristocrat to improve her family's fortune. When widowed seven years later she waited until mid-life to marry a modest but loving Irish clergyman. When widowed once again at 72, she climbed out of her grief to start a fantastic art project, botanically correct flowers of cut paper (that she colored herself). This project occupied her for the rest of her life and now resides in a British museum. In between all this life drama she consorted with royalty and literary lights of the day as writing many letters that have been edited into a book. A well written exploration of creativity, ageing, and love, with compelling detail and insights. I loved it! ML

Southern Coming of Age

Velva Jean Learns to Drive is the story of a young Appalachian girl growing up in the 30's. It's a fascinating read about the mountain life of Appalachia, with richly portrayed characters that are so interesting you won't want to put this book down. Velva Jean's secret dream as a young girl is to sing at the Grand Ol' Opry but you'll see that Appalachia in the 30s and 40s is not an easy place to live and not all of life's choices are your own.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Just for Fun

Susan Wiggs is a New York Times bestselling author similar to Nora Roberts and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She has written “How I Planned Your Wedding: The All-True Story of a Mother and Daughter Surviving the Happiest Day of Their Lives” with her daughter Elizabeth Wiggs Maas. Hilarious and irreverent this book tells it all, from hair mishaps to deciding on the food to be served. As a bonus - cheat sheets are offered at the end of each chapter with practical, helpful advice. A must read, whether you are planning a wedding or not!