February 18, 2015
[Lesley] The subtitle for this book is: being a mostly accurate account of New England’s oldest continuously lived-in house. It’s another quirky, interesting book/memoir. If I was making a mini-collection of these, this one would go with Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight and Dogtown. This is the kind of book that I love discovering in the library stacks and why I would never want to be without the eclectic selection at the library (vs. the mainstream/most popular selection at chain bookstores).
Sarah Messer’s family buys the Red House of the title – the first owners not of the original family line. In her quasi-memoir we get the history of the house and some of the people who lived there – in typical fashion, pieced together from stories, rumors, letters, wallpaper, how the house was built/added to, etc. – and the history of two families, one of which Messer is growing up in.
The “characters” are what you would expect of old New Englanders and I loved getting to know each of them. Some of the stories are haunting (like the one about the mother and child and a fire), and some are funny. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.
January 20, 2015
I really enjoyed this book. I liked that each chapter was dated, and was told in the voice of one of the three women, Rachel, Anna, or Megan. The plot was interesting, set in the UK, and I finished the book quickly (I couldn’t put it down). There have been comparisons with Gone Girl, which I really liked, but I thought this book was even better. Kept me guessing until the very end. It was thrilling and suspenseful. I will never ride a train again without thinking of Rachel.
November 20, 2014
There have been a number of terrific books in the last few years, including The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, Euphoria by Lily King and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett that offer vivid and compelling stories of women who were in many ways ahead of their time. Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan is a wonderful addition to that list. It is based on the real life love story of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They have a complicated and fascinating marriage and at the heart of the story is Fanny’s struggle to maintain her own identity, creativity and sanity while caring for her talented and chronically ill husband and constantly moving, from Europe to California to Samoa, in search of a healthy climate to keep him alive. Stevenson was an author I knew in name only and this book made me want to learn more about both of these fascinating people.
July 21, 2014
[Lesley] I checked this out from the library because I couldn’t believe that journalist Pete Hamill had written a fantasy novel*. I’m really glad I did. His writing is straightforward but doesn’t dismiss the lyrical and mystical elements in the story. Both Ireland and NYC are described intimately and the history that Cormac lives through in New York City is astonishingly related. This was a great read – one of those fantasies that doesn’t read like fantasy.
*Shameless plug: I was perusing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section to prepare for an “intro” to that part of the collection, recommending some great books you might not be familiar with, that is happening on Monday, July 28 at 11 a.m. You can sign up on our events calendar or just drop in!
June 24, 2014
[Lesley] What a perfect summer book! This is the story of a therapist who is about to publish her first book titled “You Should Have Known” all about how women could see the clues to the problems in their marriages or relationships early on if they would just pay attention. Her own life is neatly stable: Married to a pediatric oncologist, raising one smart, sensitive, musically-inclined 12-year old son, involved with her son’s private school (of which she is an alum). She lives in the apartment where she grew up and has everything under control.
With that set up, you can guess some of what starts to unravel in the story. We discover what is happening along with the main character and I was totally wrapped up in what was happening. Grace’s reactions and emotions are easy to identify with and we really care what happens to her and her son Henry. I also found her theories about relationships interesting and loved the portrayal of snobby nouveau riche New Yorkers. Grace learns a lot about family – her own parents & stepmother, her in-laws – and the whole book left me with a real respect for the strength we carry within us.
The story moves along fast – I often couldn’t stop at the end of a chapter and stayed up way too late reading!
June 18, 2014
FaceOff is a collection of short stories by a bunch of huge names in the thriller book world clashing head to head in battles with some of their best characters. Some were new to me authors, others it has been a while, and then there were my favorite authors (John Sandford, Dennis Lehane….etc). What I found the most interesting was the background story about how the two authors met and came up with the short stories. This is an excellent way to get introduced to new authors and their leading characters. Among my favorites were “Red Eye” – pairing D. Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie vs. M. Connelly’s Harry Bosh – and of course J. Sandford’s Lucas Davenport vs. J. Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme in “Rhymes with Prey”. This is a great read!
June 17, 2014
I expected to read a historical fiction novel about WWII, but this book was so much more. The self confidence of Marie-Laure, a blind young girl growing up in Paris with her father, learning to orientate herself through a model of her neighborhood and passionate about the treasures of the Museum of Natural history, contrasts with the doubts Werner is having when he finds himself working for the Wehrmacht because of his innate talent at repairing radios. Both those youngsters ‘s lives will eventually intersect in St Malo, when they find themselves facing death. Marie-Laure and Werner show how despite all odds, influences or circumstance, humans can be good and think of the others first.
A very profound and philosophical read.
April 26, 2014
[Lesley] Burn is the 3rd book in the Pure trilogy and it was equally as good as books 1 & 2. When I came to the end I couldn’t believe it… I would definitely read another book about this world and these characters. It is hard for trilogies to maintain such a high level of quality all the way through but I was never disappointed with these. Somehow Baggott has put a new spin on post-apocalyptic fiction and creates a story that delves deeply into what makes us human.
April 26, 2014
[Lesley] *Note: I listened to this on audio, downloaded from the library’s Hoopla subscription.
This is the first book I have read by Ruth Ozeki – wow! Both (or all 3) of the stories that are followed in this ambitious novel are fascinating, rich with history and emotion, and look at the human sides of major world and cultural happenings from pre-WWII years to the present. The two narrators are connected across space and time by a journal and some other “artifacts” that lead the present-day narrator to become drawn into the life of a teenage Japanese girl. There were so many layers to each character and each part of each story that I will be thinking about ideas from this book for a long time to come. I find that I really enjoy reading novels by Japanese authors — there is a different perspective and way of looking at the world that I find intriguing and quietly persuasive.
April 15, 2014
Very good historical fiction based on the lives of early abolitionists and feminists Sarah and Angelina Grimke (women I only vaguely knew about) and the imagined life of an enslaved woman “given” to Sarah on her 11th birthday. Really well written, memorable book.