Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Heading for Home: My Journey from Little League to Hollywood! by Kent Stock with Ken Fuson

Need a quick, good story to read?  Look no further than Heading for Home: My Journey from Little League to Hollywood! This was just a good story.  Stock speaks of his growing up, his parents and grandparents growing up and how it all shaped their lives.  You can appreciate the hard work of Kent, his parents and others in the story. 
I grew up in a small community like Norway where the school was everything.  The town was a ghost town on Friday nights during football and basketball seasons and in later years when my school was an up and coming baseball powerhouse, the towns caught baseball fever and held on!  In 1997 when the girl’s basketball team played in the first round of the State tourney, the volunteer ambulance crew had to draw names out of hat as to who would stay back in town of there was an emergency.  this isn't something you find in larger communities.  Like Norway when the high school was moved to the other town after consolidation of three small districts, the whole town felt it and still does today.  
Take a night or two to read this uplifting book about Iowa Nice.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Butterfly Palace by Colleen Coble

In 1904 Lilly Dobson is in mourning for her mother and abandoned by the man she loves.  Moving to Texas she is hired for a position as a maid in a grand mansion and works for a spoiled young woman. Shocked to find her former boyfriend in this town she learns he is hiding his identity. There is a murderer in this town killing young women.  Who else is going to be killed?  How can she stay safe and know who is hiding unlawful deeds in this elegant society?  There are strange noises in the mansion and secret tunnels are found. Her master's exotic butterfly collection distresses her and causes an eeriness in this home. A web of secrecy, conspiracy, and some religious undertones make this novel interesting and in anticipation of the solving of different plots in the story.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

This is a great historical fiction novel spanning several generations of a Korean family.  It begins in the 1930s with Sunja, the beloved daughter of a poor family whose unplanned pregnancy threatens their honor.  A minister who stays at their boardinghouse offers to marry Sunja and take her with him to his new life in Japan.  In Japan, the family faces harsh discrimination and poverty.

Sunja's children, Noa and Mozasu, both end up working in the pachinko business, which is very popular in Japan, but also has a seedy reputation.  (Perhaps like casinos here?)  They take very different paths in life, and end up in very different places.  The story ends in the 1980s with Solomon, Sunja's grandson, who is navigating what it means to be a second generation Korean in Japan.

I found this book to be very readable, so don't let its nearly 500 pages keep you away.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

     There are lots of good cook books and recipe books at our library. One of my favorites is Magnolia Table. While Chip and Joanna Gaines first became well known for fixing up houses, they have now branched out into several other avenues; having books published being one.
     I have actually made several of the recipes in this book over the past year and have even repeated a couple that we really liked. We loved the After-School Banana Bread (which are more like banana bars) and the Baked Bruschetta with tomato, basil, and cheese (nice when you have a lot of tomatoes and basil!)
     Two other things I like about this particular book are Joanna's personal comments before a recipe and the tips she offers after the recipes. The pictures of her family working on the home place throughout the book are so charming, and help give the whole publication a country and family feel. Loved it!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Chances Are... by Richard Russo

Lincoln, Teddy, and Mickey are friends who met when they all worked cooking at a sorority during college in the late 1960s.  Fast forward to 2015, and they are middle aged men, meeting for the weekend at Lincoln's vacation home on Martha's Vineyard.

While there, of course the memory of their mutual college friend Jacy surfaces.  Jacy disappeared in 1971, after the 4 friends had spend Memorial Day weekend at that house, and her memory has haunted them ever since.  Lincoln goes digging at the local newspaper, and bits of information begin to surface.

I love Russo's writing style, and the characters he creates.  Eventually, we do find out what happened to Jacy.  If you liked Empire Falls, check out Chances Are...!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise By Dan Gemeinhart

Sometimes, life can be heartbreaking and tragic but how you deal with it can make all the difference.  After Coyote loses her mom and two sisters in a car accident, her and her father, Rodeo, travel across country in a refurbished school bus.  After 5 years on the road Coyote learns that the beloved park in her town is being demolished.  The very same park that holds the memory box Coyote buried with her mom and sisters.  Desperate to save the park, Coyote hatches a plan to trick her dad into driving 3,600 miles back home without him realizing!  Along the way they attract colorful characters with stories of their own.  Coyote discovers the journey home brings her closer to her past.  This is a heartfelt book with a genuine voice.  Appeals to 3-6th grade audience.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Willie Nelson The Complete Liberty Recordings

In our library's CD selection, under the category of country music, rests a true gem. It is a 2-CD set featuring the Liberty Records recordings of Willie Nelson. There are 45 tracks recorded between 1962 and 1964. This means that these do not belong to the pony-tail-wearing, bong-smoking, country outlaw that most people think of when they think of Willie Nelson today. These belong to the clean-shaven, close-cropped, suit-wearing Willie that was trying to carve out his niche in the Nashville music scene.
What you will find in these 45 songs is Nelson's classic behind-the-beat or off-center singing style at the forefront. For some it is off-putting, but for many it is magic. Many songs in this collection have a jazz or blues groove to them and Nelson's singing style helps them jump out of the speakers. There are many classic country songs as well, leaning to the coutrypolitan sounds that were coming out of studios in the 1960s. These songs also contain a very strong country shuffle rhythm that was predominant in Nashville at that time.
These two CDs show the writing powerhouse that was Willie Nelson. Songs like "Crazy", 'Hello Walls" and "Night Life" may have been bigger hits for other artists, but they would not have existed at all if it weren't for Nelson. 
I would like to issue one warning - no matter how good of a mood you are in when you listen to these tracks, they are a bit of a downer. They are that strong. You will almost feel as blue, and as lost, as the characters in Nelson's songs. To me, that is a good thing, further illustrating the power and ability of Willie Nelson during a time when stardom wasn't coming all that easy for him.