Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

Thomas Huston is a well-liked college professor, and recently published a bestselling book.  Then, his wife Claire and their 3 children are found murdered in their home, and Thomas is nowhere to be found.  Ryan DeMarco is assigned to the case.  He knows Thomas, considers him a friend, and is determined to locate Thomas and find some answers.  He find out that the novel Huston was currently researching/writing involved a woman named Annabel, so Ryan sets out to find her, hoping she can lead him to Thomas.
Alternating between Ryan's and Thomas' point of view, the facts come to light.  This is a smartly written thriller, and if you're a literary geek, it contains references to Poe and Nabokov that you'll appreciate.  If not, it's still a page turner!

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco

     Patricia Polacco is a well-known children's author. I am often very moved after reading one of her stories. This story was no exception. Because I have a consistent interest in art, I particularly wanted to read this one.
     As it turns out, it is a sort of biography of the author. She tells about a period in her life when her family was back in California. She was back in school. She had improved in her ability to read, but did not test well. With the help of two amazing teachers (and one nasty, mean teacher), she was able to overcome her shortcomings and develop her love for drawing and painting. In fact, at the Spring Art Show where her painting of Mr. Donavan's father was displayed, she realized it was the "defining moment" in her young life. Now, her talent is unmistakable.
     This story really made me want to be one the encouragers of the world. It is a good thing when you can come away from a story and feel enlightened.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Random events and choices alter the course of a lifetime in this book.  Barnett tells 3 versions of a story:
  Version 1: Eva runs over a nail with her bike, Jim helps her fix it, they fall for each other and they get married.  
  Version 2: Eva misses the nail, has a big, grand wedding with her boyfriend David, and doesn't meet Jim until much later in life.  
  Version 3: Eva runs over the nail, meets Jim, falls for him, but leaves him and marries David when she finds out she's pregnant with his child.

Within each Version, Jim and Eva's paths cross and recross,  careers rise and fall, and marriages, children, and aging play a part in each of their lives.  The stories are told along parallel timelines, all spanning around 50 years.  There were a few events (Eva's brother's birthday party, for instance) that took place in all 3 versions, and it was interesting to read about it in three different circumstances.

I did enjoy reading this book, seeing how life unfolded in each version.  I did find it a bit confusing to keep straight at first though, and actually wrote myself a little note about what had happened in each version.  You might also find this helpful!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Celebrate The Season 2016 by Better Homes and Gardens
Looking for something new to celebrate your holidays? Better Homes and Gardens puts out this publication yearly, and it is a great addition to our seasonal decorating books. I like to use my traditional decorations, but I always like a little something new. This issue has a small section for fall in the front and the rest is Christmas home decorating and a few delightful recipes. The ideas I loved out of this one were the use of live poinsettias in different, various vases and containers (beautiful!) and the one inch round slabs of trunk used under plates as placemats. These are things I can easily incorporate into my Christmas palate. I also like the wax paper leaf lanterns and the penguin ornament which would be fun projects to do with kids. The soups and breads were interesting as well. Overall, a fun book to enjoy and get you excited about the season!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

In this semi-autobiographic collection of essays, Oliver shares her love of nature and literature.  She describes her communion with nature beginning in her childhood and never feels alone as Walt Whitman is her "friend."  Reading Whitman's Song of Myself reaffirms her conviction as a poet and a sense of belonging that we are all part of a greater whole.  She also pays tributes to Woolf, Emerson, Poe, Wordsworth and Frost and shares her observations of owls and turtles .  If you love nature and poetry, you will find this uplifting.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Medicine in Translation by Danielle Ofri

Dr. Ofri has a strenuous job at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, the oldest public hospital in the United States. Working with language barriers, torture survivors, legal and illegal immigrants, the young and the old, she has many stories and experiences to share. She seeks to understand her patients and build  relationships with them as well as treat their conditions. Spending a year's sabbatical in Costa Rica with her family renews her energy helping her to focus on learning the Spanish language, music, and family. This interesting book relates many struggles of this doctor and her patients.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

This book is perfect for kids, families and adults for a fast read during the Christmas season!  The Herdman tribe have joined Sunday school (for the desserts and donuts!) and are now part of the annual telling of the Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. 
The Herdman children are not the most well behaved children.  Like any good story things go bad and fast!
        I grew up participating in a Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve, with the shepherds wearing the same robes year after year and the angles wearing little white wings.  While reading, I smiles spread across my face, as I remembered all the “fun” we had during those practices leading up to the big performance.  And then receiving our brown sack of peanuts in shells, apples and candy cane!

        The Union Street Players produced a play based on the book in 2013.