Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fairy Tales Revisited

Even though this is a young adult book, it is a must read for adults!  In The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer you are reunited with all of the fairy tales that you knew as a child, from Snow White and the Evil Queen to the Little Mermaid and Red Riding Hood.  This is the tale of twins Alex and Connor Bailey who find themselves in the land of stories.  As they come face to face with well known fairy tale characters you learn about what happened to these characters AFTER their ‘stories’ end.  Do they all really live happily ever after?  There are lots of moral lessons sprinkled throughout the book, as there is in any good fairy tale, but the best part for me was being reunited with the stories I grew up with.  The tale of the twins predicaments keep you on the edge of your seat and while you think you know what’s going to happen next there are plenty of surprises.  I listened to this as an audiobook because it is read by the author and I love Chris Colfer’s voice (Kurt from Glee, in case you didn’t know).  SG

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Little Sci-Fi with Your Fantasy

I'll be honest, Among Others by Jo Walton is kind of a weird book.  Told as journal entries written by 15 year-old Mori, we learn through the narrative that she is coping with life after the death of her twin.  Forced to start over amongst strangers, Mori consoles herself by voraciously reading Sci-Fi novels and trying to envision an unexpected life for herself.  Oh yeah, and her mother is a witch who she must ultimately face in order to save the world.  Part coming-of-age story, part fantasy, Among Others is a little outside the box, but definitely worth a read.  HM

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An All-Time Favorite

If you’re looking for a great book, pick up one of the best-Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. This wonderful classic intertwines adventure, childhood, love and loss in an unforgettable tale of a boy and his two amazing dogs. The story is set in the Ozarks Mountains of northeastern Oklahoma during the Great Depression. Billy Colman is determined to get a hunting dog and with sacrifice and hard work he manages to save up and order two redbone pups. He begins to pursue his goal of hunting coons to help his family. During the story Billy learns about courage, determination, integrity and the character that shaped this nation. This book is a must-read for anyone over age ten! Enjoy, but be forewarned—there may be some tears! DB

Can You See Me Now?

Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray is a hoot!  As Clover, a fifty-something mom, feels her beauty fade and her career falter she finds she is becoming invisible – literally an invisible woman.  What could very well be a silly story is actually a quick and quirky read.   Jeanne Ray, New York Times bestselling author of Julie and Romeo, is able to pull it off and actually make you become vested in what happens to Clover, her family, and all the other invisible women Clover befriends.  Light and fun! SG

Monday, August 27, 2012

Letting go

Lucy Bloom, the main character in Jill Smolinski's novel Objects of My Affection, is broke, been dumped by her boyfriend, and has sold her house to pay for her son's rehab. This turn of events explains why she has taken a job to work for a difficult and eccentric artist, Marva, who needs help clearing a houseful of objects. As the two women forge an uneasy friendship she discovers a secret Marva is keeping as well as a new look at herself. There are things in life we keep, and some we need to let go. Knowing the difference is difficult. Lovely and upbeat, this is a book in the finest "chick lit" tradition. ML

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An unlikely pairing.

Enid Shomer's exquisite debut,The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, is an intellectual adventure through mid-nineteenth-century Egypt as experienced by two dissimilar people sitting on the cusp of greatness, though neither one knows that. Prim, earnest Florence Nightingale yearns to do good works, but her gender and disapproving family constrain her exuberant curiosity. Gustave Flaubert, a devoted cynic, loses himself in debauchery while seeking literary inspiration. Both traveled up the Nile in 1850, although they probably never met in real life. From this grain of historical plausibility emerges a captivating story about close friendship and all the pleasures and complications of understanding another human being. As their parties follow a similar route, from the temples at Abu Simbel to Philae and other sites, they develop a tender bond, and they even take a daring overland trek together (with chaperones, of course). Their encounters with ancient monuments and the unfamiliar culture enhance their psychological journeys. Flo's awkward relationship with her unadventurous maid, as significant as hers with Gustave, authentically shows the limitations of her privileged Victorian background. The superb characterizations, poignant observations on the Egyptian religion, and depictions of the land's ethereal beauty all perfectly interwoven are rendered in memorable language that excites and enriches the mind (2010 Booklist)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lost & Found

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens:  Annie O’Sullivan, a Vancouver realtor, is abducted and kept in a remote cabin for over a year. The story is told by Annie to her psychiatrist, following her escape. Interwoven in the story of her captivity are details of Annie’s life pre and post kidnapping. Parts of this novel are brutal, as expected, and can at times be sad and disturbing. It is very readable and the story is cleverly told. I thoroughly enjoyed the psychological suspense aspect of this book and would recommend it if you are not faint of heart. SG

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Magic Marrakesh!

Do you watch HGTV? Do you love color and pattern? Take a vicarious trip to Marrakesh, Morocco with the book Marrakesh By Design,Decorating with All the Colors, Patterns, and Magic of Morocco.  Written by Maryam Montague who has a hotel in Marrakesh and a blog about living there, ( the book explores Moroccan style, decorating and where to find the sources for Moroccan style. There are many beautiful photographs of interiors and exteriors of houses and gardens in Morocco and explorations of Moroccan culture in tea, (mint tea, served sweetened in a glass.) pattern and color. Lovely! ML

Livin' in the D!

Say Nice Things about Detroit by Scott Lasser is a story about coming home. When David Halpert returns to the metro area to help care for his aging mother he is confronted with the death of a former girlfriend, Natalie and her half-brother, Dirk. In paying his respects to the family of the deceased he is re-introduced to Natalie’s younger sister and the twists and turns of life begin. For those who know the Motor City, many of the places mentioned will resurrect nostalgic memories. Hope is interwoven with the desperate plight of the city and its inhabitants. As the characters heal and grow they offer the reader much hope for the future. DB

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sewing, From Start to Finish

Having just inherited my first sewing machine, I'm antsy to get stitching -- the only problem is that I haven't a clue what I'm doing.  The Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mitnick breaks down the basics in a fun, informative way.  From choosing the right fabric to demystifying the fitting process, Mitnick provides concise instructions and guidance, as well as some classic silhouettes from her Colette Patterns, her own line of sewing patterns.  I can't wait to get started!  HM

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dry and Dangerous

The Dry Grass of August,written by Anna Jean Mayhew takes place in August, 1954 in North Carolina. On a scorching hot day our narrator, thirteen-year old Jubie watts leaves for a vacation in Florida with her family. Dad is staying home but her mother is driving with her three siblings, and Mary the family maid. Because Mary is black, they have problems finding a place she can stay. She also can't use the same restrooms or even eat carryout food from the same bag!
Jubie love Mary who gives her the affection neither her distracted mother or her abusive dad can give her. After a tragedy happens we see the strength and character of Jubie. All their lives are changed. Beautifully written about race relations as well as family relationships,this is a great book. ML

Monday, August 6, 2012

Real Life Heroes

A Bolt From the Blue by Jennifer Woodlief is the true tale of a mountain climbing disaster and the daring rescue by the Jenny Lake Rangers of the Grand Teton National Park. At 13,000 feet, just a few hundred feet shy of summiting the Grand Teton, a group of 13 climbers had just decided to turn back when they were struck by lightning. What makes the story amazing is the massive rescue needed to help these people who were struck and scattered - some caught on ropes, some falling up to a hundred feet - before nightfall of the same day! Woodlief tells the story of the climb and the rescue and covers the history of the Jenny Lake Rangers and the Grand Teton National Park. You also learn a bit about lightning strikes and the study of storms. All in all a satisfying read. SG

Friday, August 3, 2012

To Your Good Health!

The End of Illness, by David B. Agus, MD, is all about getting healthy and living a long and vigorous life.  How we look at our bodies, how we listen to our bodies, and how we honor our bodies is what this book is about.  After much research and years working as an oncologist Dr. Agus presents us with a way of life that is simple and healthy.  This isn’t a diet book, nor is it a 14 day quick cure, but more a realization that we’re all different, that we all have to be our own personal health advocate, and that we shouldn’t believe everything we read.  Some of the background research included in the book makes for a great case but can be a bit dry.  The end of each section there are “Health Rules” which are simple and when taken together add up to (hopefully) the end of illness.  SG.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Michigan Mood

Author Bryan Gruley has written a fine mystery series that takes place in the small Michigan town of Starvation Lake. All three mysteries feature Gus Carpenter, editor of the paper and local boy who has returned home in disgrace. We are introduced to Gus in Starvation Lake, where he investigates the murder of his former coach. In the second book, The Hanging Tree, "Gruley captures the hardscrabble life of a recession-rocked small town and the deep interrelationships of the inhabitants while delivering complex, intriguing characters caught up in trouble." (Copyright 2010 Booklist )In the third novel, The Skeleton Box, Gus unearths very old secrets connected to the disappearance of a nun years before. The theme of secrets, old and new, and small town life appears throughout the series. Also interesting is the exploration of newspapers and journalism. The author is an award-winning Chicago bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. A good read and compelling writing! ML