Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bratty and Brilliant...

Yes, bratty and brilliant does describe 11 year old Flavia de Luce,amateur chemist,aspiring poisoner and all around oddball. In a series of books Allan Bradley has explored Flavia and the mysteries surrounding her:the crumbling mansion in which she and her father and sisters live,her mother's unexplained death and why her sisters hate her.  Actual mysteries happen also, people getting bumped off with alarming regularity, which Flavia solves despite the adults trying to get her out of the way. Flavia is the narrator so we see how her mind works, trying to understand the world around her.
All of this drama takes place in the fifties,in the small British town of Bishop's Lacey and Flavia's decrepit home, Buckshaw. 
Written with wit and perception, the latest in the series, Speaking From Among the Bones is due to be published in January. ML

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Journey

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is an unusual story by Rachel Joyce that has been getting a lot of interest lately and so I decided to give it a try.  It's not my typical read but I have to say I enjoyed the story which I can only describe as charming.  Harold, recently retired from the job he's had for many years, receives a letter from a past coworker and on his way to the mailbox decides he's going to walk 500 miles to deliver it in person.  With just the shoes on his feet (and not even his cell phone) he takes off, leaving his wife totally astounded!  There's much more to this story than I'm telling but that's basically the gist of it.  Join Harold on his unlikely pilgrimage.  SG

Monday, November 26, 2012

Read, Repeat

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is another World Book Night (WBN) selection for book givers.  I’m trying to work my way through the entire 30 title list from WBN as they all look like great titles.  I’ve actually read quite a few on the list and after I got half way through Still Alice I realized I had in fact read it already, probably when it was first published in 2007.  It’s the 2008 winner of the Bronte Prize and was a New York Times bestseller so you know it’s going to be a good read and I fully enjoyed it the second time around.  It’s the story of Alice, a fifty-something Harvard psychology professor, who develops early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  As the disease progresses you see how it affects her life and touches her friends and family.  What could be a sad and depressing book is actually very compelling and moving.  This would make an excellent book discussion selection and it certainly gives you a lot to think about. SG

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful Thinking

Anne Lamott, a San Francisco based “people’s” author has written her eighth book, just in time for the holidays. Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers is a tiny thought-provoking read. While her discourse tends to be somewhat autobiographical, it includes beliefs with widespread appeal. Lamott has successfully addressed alcoholism, Christianity, depression, and single-motherhood in her previous books. Her insight is contemporary, enlightened and humorous. This book is a great little tool for some quiet reflection. DB

Friday, November 16, 2012

They're Coming to Take You Away . . .

Truthfully, I don't get to read as often as I would like -- and when I do, it usually takes me weeks to get through a book.  I read Jennifer McMahon's Don't Breathe a Word in 2 days because I honestly could not put it down.  Fifteen years ago, Lisa was a dreamy twelve year-old who went missing in the woods behind her house after claiming that she was going to live with the fairies.  Now she's back, and it's up to her brother and his girlfriend to figure out what exactly happened to her -- even if that means delving into some deep, dark family secrets.  HM

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My "To Read" List Keeps on Growing

Detroit City is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis by Mark Binelli is on my must read list.  Just released November 13th the book shows Detroit hitting rock bottom with crime, poverty and ruin and catches a glimpse of Detroits future as a greener, economically diverse (and better functioning) city.  Detroit City Is the Place to Be is one of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best Books of 2012.

Next on my list is Justin Cronin's The Twelve.  If you haven't read the first book in this series - do so!  The Passage is an apocalyptic novel of man's own manufacture and the story of a young girl, Amy, who is destined to save the world.  The Passage was named one of the ten best novels of the year (2010) by Time, Library Journal, The Washington Post, NPR and more.

I'm seeing a trend in my 'to read' list.  It looks like I lean towards the best books of the year.  I do have a few other titles on my list including the Oxford Public Library Book Club selection (December 5th meeting at 1:00 pm if you are interested!):  In The Sea There Are Crocodiles Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari by Fabio Geda - the story of a young ten-year-old boy from a small village in Afghanistan.  When the Taliban takes over his mother moves him to Pakistan but has to leave him.  He makes his way on his own through Iran, Turkey and Greece before he finally gets politcal asylum in Italy at the age of 15.

If you read my earlier post about J.D. Robb you know I'm working my way through the 30 plus books in her In Death series (I'm up to number 13).  On my Overdrive downloadable book list is 101 Things to do With Pudding!  SG

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A World Book Night Selection

World Book Night U.S. (WBN) is a celebration of books and reading held on April 23, when volunteers across America give a total of half a million books to those who don’t regularly read.   WBN provides the free books and registered book givers receive 20 free paperback copies of one World Book Night title, to share with potential new readers.  If you would like more information visit

The book selections for 2013 World Book Night have been announced.  One selection is Playing for Pizza by John Grisham:  Rick Dockery is the third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In the AFC Championship game, to the surprise and dismay of virtually everyone, Rick actually gets into the game. With a seventeen-point lead and minutes to go, Rick provides what is arguably the worst single performance in the history of the NFL. Overnight, he becomes a national laughingstock—and is immediately cut by the Browns and shunned by all other teams. But all Rick knows is football, and he insists that his agent find a team that needs him. Against enormous odds, Rick finally gets a job—as the starting quarterback for the Mighty Panthers . . . of Parma, Italy. The Parma Panthers desperately want a former NFL player—any former NFL player—at their helm. And now they’ve got Rick, who knows nothing about Parma (not even where it is) and doesn’t speak a word of Italian. To say that Italy—the land of fine wines, extremely small cars, and football americano—holds a few surprises for Rick Dockery would be something of an understatement.  A fun novel about overcoming adversity and about doing something you love. (copyright 2012 World Book Night) SG

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sugar Nation

Sugar Nation: the hidden truth behind America's deadliest habit and the simple way to beat it by Jeff O'Connell is a shortcut to a better life. Jeff is a journalist that has specialized in health and fitness as a writer and editor. He knew nothing about type 2 diabetes until he found out that his estranged father had lost a leg to the disease. At his physical a week later he discovered that diabetes was possibly also in his future. He began a mission to hold off diabetes as long as possible by doing research, conducting interviews, and using his own body as a guinea pig to better understand blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. This was a great read and anyone following Jeff's suggestions is likely to become healthier as a result.      SAL

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Driving the Divas

Jayne Amelia Larson is an ivy-league educated actress/director who ran out of money and job opportunities. She decided to chauffeur to make ends meet. One of her most demanding yet intriguing assignments was driving a Saudi family around Los Angeles for seven weeks one summer. She describes the experience as enlightening, exhausting and unbelievable. Jayne’s stint as the only female chauffeur to some of the richest people in the world catapults her into an elite world of entitlement and privilege, but only as a spectator. DRIVING THE SAUDIS: A CHAUFFEUR'S TALE OF THE WORLD'S RICHEST PRINCESSES (PLUS THEIR SERVANTS, NANNIES, AND ONE ROYAL HAIRDRESSER) is a revealing read. DB

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Smitten with cooking

Deb Perelman loves to cook. She isn’t a chef or a restaurant owner—she’s never even waitressed. Cooking in her tiny Manhattan kitchen was, at least at first, for special occasions—and, too often, an unnecessarily daunting venture. Deb found herself overwhelmed by the number of recipes available to her. Have you ever searched for the perfect birthday cake on Google? You’ll get more than three million results. Where do you start? What if you pick a recipe that’s downright bad?
So Deb founded her award-winning blog, Smitten Kitchen, on the premise that cooking should be a pleasure, and that the results of your labor can—and should—be delicious . . .  every time. Deb is a firm believer that there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes. She has dedicated herself to creating and finding the best of the best and adapting the recipes for the everyday cook.
And now, with the same warmth, candor, and can-do spirit her blog is known for, Deb presents her first cookbook: more than 100 recipes—almost entirely new, plus a few favorites from the site—all gorgeously illustrated with hundreds of her beautiful color photographs.Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics

I'm dead anyway...

 Arthur Cathcart considered himself a lucky man. A self-proclaimed nerd and a meticulous market researcher, he somehow won the affections of the lovely Florencia, owner of an insurance-brokerage firm, and their marriage was solid and happy, built on mutual respect, admiration, and love. Then his world implodes. He survives the carnage but decides to let the world assume he's dead, the better to stay safe while he tries to discover what happened and who's responsible. Chris Knopf, in Dead Anyway crafts a high-energy, very savvy thriller. Connecticut-based Cathcart has no time for police procedure and instead acts on his instincts, using his research skills to help him find the way and even becoming a badass when necessary. The novel generates enormous tension, and the mild-mannered number-cruncher is definitely an appealing hero. It's unclear if the novel is intended to be a stand-alone, or if it will launch a new series, but we'd very much like to see more of the engaging Cathcart.-- Booklist