Thursday, February 26, 2015

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

9 year old Madeleine Altimari loves to sing, but at school and in church Clare Kelly is taking all the spotlight.  Singing makes Madeleine happy, especially after her mom died.  This is an entertaining novel with several subplots:  Madeleine is chasing her dream to sing on stage and coping with a depressed dysfunctional father, a bully at school and the mean principal. Meanwhile her divorced teacher Sarina Greene may have a second chance with a former crush.  There is also the father and son relationship with the Cat's Pajamas jazz club owner Lorca and his son Alex.  Will the lives of these troubled souls breakthrough within a 24 hour time frame on Christmas Eve in Philadelphia?  This is an off-beat, original read.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons

     This is the story of four women who decided to do a beach vacation while their husbands and boyfriends continued their residency. After the first year they began to make a tradition of it. Each year they would choose a new house. The only two requirements were that it be on a beach and that it be isolated. For many years they carry on this ritual and are able to rekindle and strengthen their friendships. All is well until one of the four tragically dies in a car accident. They drift apart and no longer go on their vacation.
    After a number of years a new marriage brings "Baby". In the opinion of the remaining friends, Baby has a long way to go to fill the shoes of the lost friend. So develops a beach vacation that brings out several discoveries, both pleasant and unpleasant. The women find the testing of their friendship changes them in many ways they never expected. The story is true to how life delivers us both good and bad things. Every person is touched by others and how we relate to each other can make all the difference.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

   Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, detectives who handle minority sensitive cases, are asked to investigate the death of Christopher Drayton, who fell to his death from the Bluffs. 
   He was soon to marry gold-digger Melanie, who stood to inherit everything.  Was he more valuable to her dead than alive?  Or, Drayton may have been the assumed identity of a Bosnian war criminal, which is why Khattak and Getty are on the case.  Did his past come back to haunt him?  Or, did a man simply fall to his death?
   I learned quite a bit about the Bosnian war of the 1990s, and parts of this book graphically described atrocities committed during the war.    If you don’t mind war details, this debut novel is an OK murder mystery.  The author leaves a few story threads untied (that I wished were neatly tied up), obviously in preparation for future books.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Pella Vertical Files by Various

With this review I want to draw attention to a little-known resource in the Pella Public Library.  The library’s vertical files are located between the genre fiction section and the aviary.  After many years, we are sorting through and cataloging the material that’s contained within these files.  The “Pella” drawer contains maps of Pella including an 1864 map, historical brochures from a variety of different clubs and organizations, and general information about the history of Pella.  There’s also a file on the Opera House, the Klokkenspel, and information on various Pella landmarks, such as the fountain in Central Park and the stone dogs on Main Street in front of old City Hall.  An incredible wealth of information is now available at your fingertips, and the best part is, the files are available to check out!  Please see library staff for more details on using this amazing resource!