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Showing posts from 2014

The Roosevelt Women by Betty Boyd Caroli

The Roosevelt Women is a book that I've been working on for a while, and then I set it aside to read Winter Street, and then I came back to finish it.  It's a long book with long chapters, but it was interesting to me because it focuses on the women of this historic clan while most attention falls on the most famous Roosevelt men who went on to become presidents: Theodore and Franklin.

The book includes a family tree mapping out the relations of the Roosevelt family as well as chapters that focus on selected women.  The story begins with the improbably, soap opera-like origins of the union of the parents of Theodore Roosevelt in a chapter that details the life, influence and place in the family of his mother, Martha.  You really have to read it to get it and understand it.  It's a love story that even today would raise eyebrows.  The author points to Martha's marriage into the family and the enormous energy and indomitable life force that she brought to the clan and pa…

Death Comes To Pemberley: Part 3

This is the third and final installment of my reviews of the mini-series Death Comes To Pemberley.  You can click here and here to catch up on episodes one and two respectively or you can take a scroll down the blog to read them.  Episode three concludes this mini-series adaptation of the P.D. James novel of the same title.

In episode three:

The murder trial begins and concludes with an unfavorable and tragic outcome for Wickham.  Georgiana is pressured to rebuff her one true love in favor of the "better match" (yeah, right) with her cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, who pretty much has everyone snowed regarding his true nature.  Elizabeth resolves to do right by Louisa Bidwell and her bastard baby upon learning of the child's true paternity.  And little by little Elizabeth also discovers that the colonel is involved in the Bidwell/Wickham mess up to his neck, but though Elizabeth tries to warn her husband of this, Darcy allows family loyalties to blind him to the truth of t…

Death Comes To Pemberly: Part 2

If you missed the first installment of this review, please click here to catch up or you can scroll down through the blog to catch it.

In episode 2:

The magistrate continues and concludes his investigation of the woods so he can accrue more evidence to snow Wickham for Denny's murder (this is strictly my own interpretation, okay?  I really don't like the magistrate).  The inquest for the murder of Captain Denny which will determine if George Wickham will stand trial for these charges begins and concludes with an unfavorable outcome for the scoundrel Wickham, whose extracurricular activities are also revealed at the conclusion of the episode.

The love triangle is also seemingly resolved and not in a favorable way for Alveston and Georgiana.  And I don't like it.  I can't help but think this particular love story is meant to parallel Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy's from Pride and Prejudice.  And I still hold out hope for a reunion between Georgiana and Alveston on…

Death Comes To Pemberley: Part 1

It's been years since I've reviewed a DVD on this blog, but I had a lot to say about Death Comes To Pemberley (the mini-series, not the book) and no one to say it to.  So I decided to review it on the blog.  Death Comes To Pemberley is the BBC/PBS Masterpiece three-part mini-series adaptation of the P.D. James novel of the same title (which I have not read).  James's Pemberley is basically a mystery genre sequel to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  I've decided to write about each of the three episodes in the mini-series, and to avoid a rather long blog post, I've split the review into three parts, one for each episode.

Ya'll know I love a good Jane Austen adaptation.  Of them all my favorite is Pride & Prejudice (2005), the one with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen cast as Lizzie Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy respectively.  It holds a special place in my heart.  I can't even describe the feeling I get when I re-shelve the library's copy of …

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

I'm a sucker for a Hallmark Christmas movie.  Okay, really, I'm a sucker for any Christmas/romantic comedy type TV movie (ion TV channel also has their own Christmas movies and Lifetime TV channel does as well... don't ask me how I know this; I just do).  However, I don't normally read Christmas themed novels.  Winter Street might be the first one for me.  But it's an Elin Hilderbrand novel, and we all know I love her books.  This is the sixth novel by Hilderbrand that I've read and the fifth that will be reviewed here on the blog.  Previously I've read and reviewed The Matchmaker, Silver Girl, Beautiful Day, The Island, and The Castaways.  You can click the links to read those reviews.  I've enjoyed them all, and I do recommend you try them out.  I've also read Summerland, but I didn't review it.  For some reason, I just didn't like that one so much.  But I have a lot to say about Winter Street.

At its core, like some of Hilderbrand's …

Announcing a new series!

In the new year I'll be starting a new annual series that will present the library staff's favorites from the previous year.  Each Friday in January a new installment of the series will post, and you'll get to see not only my favorite reads from 2014, but you'll also get a taste of what Miss Sheila and some other staff members here at the library were reading and loving over the past year.

In the meantime, you can check out what I've read in 2014 and what I thought about it (because you know I have strong opinions about some of these books!) by clicking the links in the Blog Archive on the right side of the screen.  And if you also read some of these books after hearing about them here on the blog, I want to hear about that too!  You can tell me what you thought about them in the comments for this post.

What did you read in 2014?  What were your favorites from the past year?  Share those in the comments too!  We want to hear from you!

--posted by Ms. Angie

The Faker's Guide to the Classics: Everything You Need To Know About the Books You Should Have Read (But Didn't) by Michelle Witte

I haven't been reading many (okay, any) books lately, but I read this one back in September.  The Faker's Guide by Michelle Witte is an alphabetical (by title) collection of summaries of all the classics that you "should have read but didn't."  From Jane Austen to Charles Dickens to Mark Twain and Edith Wharton to Dostoyevsky and Dumas, this collection of cheater's guides covers British literature, American literature, as well some titles from Spanish and Russian literature.

Each summary is fairly short and told in a tone and with language and commentary meant to keep the reader's interest.  However, the snarkiness that is prevalent in each summary grows old after several pages and instead comes across as try hard.  In many instances the snark confuses a reader not familiar with the plots and characters of these classic novels.  The author also has a penchant for nicknaming characters, and this is another element that causes confusion especially for rea…

All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey With Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith

All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey With Jane is Amy Elizabeth Smith's first book.  Smith is a tenured university professor in California who teaches literature; she specializes in Jane Austen novels (and is an Austen enthusiast), and she teaches a course in Austen novels.  The premise of this book was to travel to six different Central and South American countries to meet with both formal and informal reading groups to discuss various Jane Austen novels.  The groups read Austen in Spanish translation, and Smith wanted to find out if these readers connected with and reacted to Austen's novels in the same way that her students back home did.  Smith also wanted to find out if Spanish language readers thought Austen's themes were universal enough to translate across time and cultures.

Ya'll know I'm a sucker for an English period drama.  I've seen all of Austen's novels in film adaptation form (but sadly have never any of her novels).  So when this b…

You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

You Know When The Men Are Gone is the debut short story collection by Siobhan Fallon.  Fallon writes from experience as she is the wife of a military serviceman, and the family was once stationed at Fort Hood where these stories are set.  This collection was also among the five finalists for the One Book One Community 2015 title selection; local readers were voting on their choice for the selection throughout the month of August, and the winner will be announced in October, while the reading (of the selection) will take place in February.  I don't normally read the OBOC selection (sorry not sorry); in the past there have been a couple titles that I had already read (years) prior to their selection as the campaign book.

This is a collection of loosely interconnected short stories populated by the soldiers and their spouses stationed at Fort Hood.  Each story focuses on the lives and perspectives of different characters, such as the deployed soldiers in country, the returned soldier…

Nine Years Under: Coming of Age In An Inner-City Funeral Home by Sheri Booker

Lately I've been on a run of non-fiction--this is unusual for me because (and I know I say this every time I review a non-fiction book) non-fiction and I generally don't get along.  Every once in a while though, I find a non-fiction book that sticks and I read it AND I finish it.  Nine Years Under: Coming of Age In An Inner-City Funeral Home is Sheri Booker's first book... well, actually it isn't because during the course of the book she talks a little about how she's published a collection of poetry.  But this is her first prose book.  I saw this title come up in the New Titles list in the online catalog, and since I'd recently come across a review for another memoir set in a funeral home and added it to my reading list, I thought I'd request Nine Years Under and read it.

This is a quick and easy read and Booker's writing style is easily accessible.  There are a few quibbles--for example, there are a few passages in which the chronology and/or those …

I Work At A Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories From the Stacks by Gina Sheridan

I Work At A Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories From the Stacks is the first book from Gina Sheridan who maintains a tumblr by the same title.  Sheridan is a librarian in Missouri who started writing down stories of the memorable encounters she had with the patrons of her library.  She then started sharing these stories on her tumblr which is where librarians and library workers from all over the country and the world found her and starting submitting their own crazy stories to her site.  This book is a collection of those stories.

Sheridan's stories consist mostly of snippets of memorable conversations with various colorful library patrons.  These stories range from the bizarre to the frustrating to the heartwarming as the book closes with a chapter of stories of patrons who shared their gratitude and appreciation of the local library and its hard working staff.

As a library aide, I could certainly relate to many of the stories Sheridan shares in this book.  If you'…

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

The Matchmaker is the fifth book by Elin Hilderbrand that I've read and reviewed here on the blog.  I enjoy her books--they have a tendency to grab hold of the reader fairly quickly, and this one is no different.  If you click here, here, here, and here, you can read the previous Hilderbrand book reviews posted to this blog.  I could tell where this story was headed pretty much from the first complaints of "not feeling right" by one of the characters.  But when I tell characters to do something, they never listen to me, so this one kept putting off going to the doctor, which was really annoying.  Like there were several days when she couldn't get out of bed because that's how much pain she was in, and she still wouldn't go!  Then after three straight days in bed, her (grown) daughter says to her father, should we take mommy to the hospital?  And the father's all, oh, give it another day.  Dude.  This is why your wife stepped out on you--you're condesc…

Silence For The Dead by Simone St. James

Silence For The Dead is the third novel by Simone St. James.  It was released in April, and since my reading habits have been hit or miss and otherwise sporadic when it comes to reading books, I've only now gotten around to reading it.  This was the other book I was reading when I started Without Warning.  I've previously read and reviewed St. James's two previous novels, The Haunting of Maddy Clare and An Inquiry Into Love and Death, here on the blog.  AND St. James will release her next book, The Other Side of Midnight, next April.  This book was rather terrifying, not unlike her others; however, the supernatural aspect was much more subtle, but no less scary and insidious.

Set in 1919 in rural England, Kitty is a young woman on the run from a bad childhood, an abusive father, and only God knows what else.  Thus, she holds herself out as a properly trained, credentialed, and experienced nurse in order to land a position at Portis House, a very isolated, very mysterious s…

Without Warning by David Rosenfelt

I had already started reading another book when I started Without Warning by David Rosenfelt.  The other book isn't a library book, but Without Warning is, so I decided to read that one.  When I first started reading this book, I wasn't sure I'd stick with it.  Then after several chapters, the story sucked me in, and it was hard to put down.  I mostly wanted to see how the story ended and who the mastermind was behind the big crime and why the perpetrator was doing what he was doing.  I feel as if the whole motive behind the crimes was one of misplaced blame and rage.  It's clear the perpetrator is local, that he/she has spent years meticulously planning their revenge and that both protagonists know this person. Ultimately this person is hiding in plain sight under an alias.  And I kind of wondered why Jake didn't recognize the person sooner.

In the wake of a hurricane that has devastated a small, Maine town, the local newspaper publisher, Katie Sanford, and her m…

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

Delicious! is Ruth Reichl's debut fiction.  Although Reichl is a well known food writer who has published several non-fiction books, I hadn't heard of her before nor read any of her books.  I first read the excerpted first chapter of this book in a magazine.  I forget which one.  Good Housekeeping, maybe?  I enjoyed reading this book, and all aspects of food permeate throughout the novel--really food is almost another character.  One thing that bothered me was that we find out that Billie's given name is Wilhelmina, but we only know Genie as Genie.  What was Genie a nickname for?

Billie is used to living in the shadow of her older sister, Genie.  She looks up to her, she idolizes her, she adores her older sister, and Billie is more than happy for Genie to take up all the attention of everyone they meet everywhere.  Genie is smart, beautiful, popular, and perfect in every way.  As young girls, the two sisters started a bakery that quickly became famous for its delectable tr…

Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind The Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! On PBS by Rebecca Eaton

Most people who know me know that I love British TV, and I watch a lot of British period dramas and British dramas in general.  I've watched Downton Abbey since the beginning, and I must admit that season 3 was losing me.  Then season 4 pretty much sucked me right back in.  Rebecca Eaton has served as the producer of PBS's successful and long running Masterpiece series that airs British period, contemporary, and mystery dramas each year.  I thought maybe the memoir about her experiences in this position would be an interesting read.

I actually finished this book a while ago, and I'm only now getting around to posting the review.  I don't normally read non-fiction.  For example, after this book I tried reading The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel, and I got about 60 to 100 pages in before I skipped to the epilogue and then ditched the book because I lost interest.  I'll just watch the movie.

Eaton intentionally writes in a conversational tone; despite this convers…

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

This is the first book by Marisa de los Santos that I've read; I think it's her third book overall.  And I must say that I really liked it, and de los Santos may have made herself a new fan.  When I first started this book, I remembered that I tried reading it a few years ago, and for some reason it didn't take, so I ditched it.  This time around, it was hard to put down.  It's funny how that goes--a book doesn't grab your interest, but then a couple years later it does.  Anyway, on the surface this book is about reconnecting with old friends, but really, it's about two old friends finally realizing they are made for each other and FINALLY admitting their romantic feelings about each other.

Cat, Will and Pen met a week into freshman year at college and forged a tight knit, intimate, living in each other's back pockets kind of friendship that lasted four years past college graduation.  Truth be told, their friendship was so intense that it fairly strangled …

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

It took me a while until I found another book to read.  I actually finished Lost Lake back in April and am only now getting around to the posting the review.  Then it took a while until I found another book.  Lately it seems like it's difficult to find a book that sticks.  I started one by Susanna Kearsley and got half way through it and then I abandoned it for the book I'm currently reading.  I knew this was not the first book by Sarah Addison Allen that I'd read, but apparently I didn't review any of them on the blog.  I just did a search and nothing came up and then I went back through the archive to read the titles for all the posts.  The Girl Who Chased The Moon and The Peach Keeper were the other two Allen novels I've read, and I do recommend them.  If they're here on the blog, I can't find them.  Allen's stories usually have a touch of fantastical magic about them, and this novel is no different.  And the mother-in-law's a real piece of work…

A Duty To The Dead by Charles Todd

Charles Todd is a pseudonym for an American mother/son writing team.  Todd writes two series, the Ian Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series.  Bess Crawford is a British, World War I nurse, who has an inexplicable knack for getting caught up in murder mysteries.  A Duty To The Dead is the first novel in the Bess Crawford series; it is also the first Charles Todd novel that I've read.  Someone donated a paperback copy to the library recently that I borrowed and read after some initial confusion over whether it was the first or second in the series (because we all know I like to read a series in order!).  A promise made to a dying soldier is what leads to the mayhem as it were (although, really there isn't mayhem related to the mystery until a bit at the end), and when the smoke clears a family is left in shambles with hardly anyone left to pick up the pieces.

Bess promises a dying soldier named Arthur Graham that she will personally relay a message to his family: "T…

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People is the newest release from Jennifer McMahon.  I think I've read one of her previous novels, but it wasn't reviewed here on the blog, and I don't remember which one it was.  This is one of those books of spooky strangeness in which you're not really sure what is happening in some parts of the book because the narrator isn't really sure what is happening.  I'll admit that things sure looked like they were going one way when instead they ended up a different way that was far worse.  Basically cold blooded vengeance visited upon a family by a person who helped raise the family's children pretty much spawned the events that happened in the present.  It was sad because the person took it out on the children--children who had no control over what the adults in the situation were doing.

Strange things happen in tiny West Hall, Vermont.  People die strange, gruesome deaths.  People vanish into thin air.  Livestock is murdered.  And the woods out by…

The Art of Keeping of Secrets by Patti Callahan Henry

I finished this book earlier this week.  It's the fourth book by Patti Callahan Henry that I've read.  If you click here, here, and here, you can read the three previous novels that were reviewed on the blog.  I've now exhausted the Henry books available in the local library system.  I may request some of her others from outside the county, but I have a pile of books at home to read (or not read as the case may be) before I do that.  The novel has similar themes to the later novel, Coming Up For Air: relationships, mistaking controlling tendencies for love, keeping secrets from those we love, etc.  There were some parts of this novel that were hard for me to read because I was worried that things would go to hell in a hand-basket before they got better, but they didn't, and I was glad for that.

Annabelle has spent the last two years mourning the death of her husband, Knox, a pilot whose plane went down in flames in the isolated wilderness of Colorado and was never rec…

Driftwood Summer by Patti Callahan Henry

So in the last review I had lots of opinions, mostly because I think that book really chapped my ass.  I also have opinions regarding this book, specifically about the two younger sisters who spend about half the book being insufferable, self-centered wenches.  (That's right.  I said it.)  Driftwood Summer is the third book by Patti Callahan Henry that I've read and reviewed on the blog.  You can read the other reviews here and here.  I've become a fan of her books.  This one has family drama--specifically prickly, resentful sisterly relationship drama.

Riley's mother takes a tumble down the staircase of the family home and breaks several bones in the process.  As a result Riley's sisters, Maisie and Adalee, must come home to assist with their mother's convalescence as well as the huge, week long bicentennial celebration of the cottage that houses the family owned bookstore.  There's much more riding on this celebration than the family's letting on to …