|Karen Ford, a former teacher, has happily been a staff member at McLean and Eakin for over 14 years. She and her husband Jeff have raised four children, and are now enjoying being "Mimi and Abu" to their two little granddaughters. A voracious knitter and reader, she can't imagine working anywhere else.|
Because Amelia Smiled, by David Ezra Stein, is a charming story that perfectly illustrates the chain effect of goodness, when one person starts the ball rolling. When Amelia smiles at a neighbor while jumping rope, the neighbor smiles and decides to send a package of cookies to her grandson Lionel in Mexico. This sets in motion a chain of events from person to person in various countries around the world and finally ending up back in New York. This is a seemingly simple story, beautifully illustrated with a very big message. Perfect for ages 3 and up; there is much to talk about.
and Pinecone, by Salina Yoon, is a wonderful story of friendship. When
Penguin discovers a pinecone, he is very curious- too crunchy to be
food, too prickly to be an egg, he isn't sure what it is, but he
realizes immediately that Pinecone is cold. So Penguin gets busy....and
knits him a scarf. They play and play until Penguin figures out he
must take Pinecone home to the forest. He builds Pinecone a bed to
sleep on in the forest and heads home; when he returns much later, he
is very surprised to find that Pinecone has grown into something much
bigger. This is a deceptively simple story about love and friendship and
learning to overcome odds to be with the one you love. Again, perfect
for children ages 3 and up.
Tana French's books are not your typical murder mysteries; rather they are police procedurals combined with psychological thriller. Broken Harbor, her 4th in the Dublin Murder Series, follows Mike "Scorcher" Kennedy, a top murder detective just getting back on his feet. He's asked to investigate the murder of a seemingly perfect family in Brianstown, formerly known as Broken Harbor, which happens to be the place where his family used to vacation every summer. Not surprisingly, this dredges up past secrets and emotions he had been trying to keep buried. Kennedy's indisputably mad, baby sister Dina shows up at all the worst times with troubles of her own. As the case begins to unfold we learn that things are not really as they seem- the case, which looked like an easy solve is turning into something altogether more complicated. French does so much more than give us a police drama....her books are full of characters with frayed edges and damaged childhoods. She keeps you hooked, from start to finish, making this a perfect end of summer read! Definitely one of her best!
This is without out a doubt, one of the more memorable memoirs I have read in a long time. Strayed's life had come apart- at the young age of 22 she watched her mother die, her family fall apart, and her marriage unravel. And those were the surface wounds. At some point she came upon the idea of hiking the PCT, and clung to it, like a life Wild by Cheryl Strayedraft of an idea. And so, after her divorce became final she did just that. Woefully unprepared, and yet convinced that she had to do this to change her life around and return to the person she had once been, she set out with a dogged determination. There are bears, moose , record snowfalls, intense heat, ants, battered feet, and yet she continues on and little by little her soul is replenished and she is able to come to terms with her losses. It is by turn funny and moving, and always engaging. I recommend it highly!
I am a huge fan of Joshilyn Jackson and this does not disappoint! Big (Liza's mama and Mosey's gramma), Liza and Mosey are connected in more ways than meet the eye. When Big decides to cut down long the standing willow in the backyard, she unearths more than just roots. A buried silver treasure box of Liza's contains secrets that no one imagined, sending us on a whirlwind of a journey. Quirky characters abound in Jackson's books, oozing with sass and Southern charm. Her characters are flawed but full of heart. Once again she creates a multi-layered story to be savored...love, family, and friendships come under the scrutiny of Jackson's eye, and ultimately all three prevail.
The outbreak of cholera in London, 1854 was one of its deadliest. This book chronicles the work of Dr. John Snow who painstakingly "mapped" the outbreak of cholera and connected it to one water source. Snow was ahead of his time and the local media people were resistant to this line of thinking. However, the modern day medical society consider him responsible for changing the way we think about disease and how it is spread. The book is compelling and reads like a novel - very Devil in the White City-ish.
Jackson is back with another quirky, charming novel set in the South. Protagonist Nonny is caught between 2 feuding families; she is the adopted daughter of Stacia, one of the 3 lovable, sassy sisters. Stacia is deaf and Nonny has become a strong hearing impaired translator. Through a series of bad to worse incidents, the cycle of Mother-Daughter pairings is continually explored, the characters are vivid and colorful, and the story is fun. A very enjoyable read!
This is the heart wrenching memoir of a young woman, raised in a “Good Family” in a small community in New Hampshire. In 1964, at the age of 16, as things begin to disintegrate within her own family, Meredith makes a poor choice, ending up pregnant. What happens next is mind boggling- her family and community, inexcusably, shun her. She is forced to live with her father and his cold wife, retreating to the upstairs when there are people round. Ironically, just when Meredith needs her mother’s love the most, it is snatched away from her. How she ends up, pulling things together to make a life for herself make an incredible, stunning, yet ultimately healing story
This book is a ride from start to finish- dark, twisted and utterly compelling! I couldn't stop reading it and now I can't stop thinking about it. I love the spunky misfit that is Lisbeth Salander; she is never boring! The topic is real and uncomfortable - news journalists uncovering a sex trafficking ring in Sweden; Salander is drawn in to the hunt in an explosive scenario where the hunter becomes the hunted. Now, all I can ask is: when is the final book in the trilogy coming out???!!!
Civil war rages on the fictional island of Bougainville in the early 1990's; 13-year old Matilda and her mother fight for survival, along with the other remaining islanders, when the only local white man, Mr. Watts, volunteers to teach the children. He reads to them from his only book, Dickens' Great Expectations. The children, particularly Matilda, are soon swept away from their immediate troubles and taken into the imaginary world of Pip. Conflict builds as Matilda's mother becomes more and more distrustful of Mr. Watts and the story of Pip; she feels like she is battling Mr. Watts for Matilda's soul. Outrageous acts occur when the soldiers return and try to track down this man called "Pip." Jones writes with faultless prose -- it is a beautifully written, if horrific story, and ultimately Matilda discovers that whatever happens in your life, your "voice" is your own and special and no one can take that from you. Shortlisted for the Man Booker award in 2007, this book is deserving of all of its accolades. Highly recommended!
This is a wonderfully told story about a little known part of the devastation of WWII. Jan and Antonina are the caretakers of the Warsaw Zoo; when WWII reaches Poland they are able to use the zoo cages, the animals, and the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto and the concentration camps. Ackerman has deftly interspersed what could be a horrific war story with tidbits of life and stories of the funny antics of the animals that inhabit their lives. The book is as powerful as it is poignant, heartbreaking, and yet full of the resilience and goodness of the human spirit. I loved it!
You are transported through sight, sound and smells into Sirine's kitchen, where she is the chef at a small Lebanese restaurant in the middle of an Arab-American community in L.A. Abu-Jaber's language is beautiful and sensual. Sirine is 29, unmarried, living with her Iraqi uncle and is more passionate about her cooking than any boyfriend she's had - until she meets Han. Hanif is an exiled Iraqi professor and forces Sirine to examine her broken past. Crescent is part romance and part cultural discovery. It is a lovely read for all ages.
The author transports us back to the 17th century, to a time of intrigue, deception, and masquerade, laced of course with her characteristic flair for mysticism. Juliette has fled from her demon lover and her past of rope dancing to an isolated abbey, with her 5 year old daughter, Fleur. The tale unfolds from there and it is mesmerizing. Highly recommended!
I fell in love with this book when it came out in 2004(?)- it is a psychological thriller at the top of its game. Full of twists and turns it follows 2 U.S. Marshalls who have come to Shutter Island to investigate the escape of a violent psychotic criminal, only to be trapped on the island in the worst hurricane they've had in 30 years. The marshalls stumble upon a government conspiracy in mind control- this is Lehane at his best- the characters are well thought out, the setting is creepy and the pace is perfect. I look forward to the movie!
This is poignant coming of age story that deals with all types of relationships; abusive father, passive mother, revered older brother. When Jason shows up at his older brother Christian's door, in another state, he has a freshly landscaped face and a very big dark secret. Many questions become obvious...will the brothers regain the relationship they once had? will their mother join them? more importantly will their father find them? This is a beautifully told young adult story that will appeal to adults as well.
This is a wonderful book! Based on a true story, told in flashbacks, you relive Marina's life as a docent at the Hermitage during the siege of Leningrad. Her job is to dismantle the artworks, the Madonnas, and ready them for safekeeping. As the war creeps in, Marina, her family and the staff move into the basement to survive, while her dear friend Dmitri is off at war. To keep her sanity, Marina creates a memory palace where she can retreat; she walks the rooms, now vacant of the madonnas, as though they were still present. Fast forward to the present, Marina's granddaughter is getting married; Marina is losing her hold on present day and living more and more in the past. It is beautifully written and so touching, without being maudlin.
OK, I have wanted to read this book since it came out but never managed to do so. With all the Oprah hype I finally took the time and I love it! A Million Little Pieces is everything Oprah said it is -- painful yet inspirational -- worthy of all the acclaim given it. It is an incredible account of one young man's struggle for survival in a life filled with addiction. Along with he physical abuse he has subjected his body to, his family and friends have been subjected to great amounts of emotional pain. This is his story of his struggle and successes and it is compelling!
If you need the perfect gift for the cook in your life, look no further. La Cucina is a brand new Italian cookbook straight from the villages of Italy. In an effort to preserve old traditional recipes, the Italian Academy of Cuisine’s members spread out to towns and villages all over Italy to gather authentic recipes. While doing so, they collected stories, anecdotes as well as many recipes that had never been documented. There are no shortcuts here, just the beauty of classic homey Italian cooking. Recipes are grouped by regions and it is interesting to see how ingredients and techniques vary from region to region. This is truly a special piece of history.
When Suzan Colon lost her dream job in 2008, she was forced to economize; to help with the challenges of new choices and “homecooking,” her mother suggested she check the basement for her grandmother’s recipes. This became so much more. Cherries in Winter is filled with family stories, vignettes and of course recipes. It is a heartwarming look at how to survive life by looking not only forward, but back into the past. It’s funny and poignant and the perfect read for anyone heading into a hectic holiday season.
This is a wonderful read! Gods in Alabama tells the story of why mistakes made, covered up, by one at an early age may not be what they seem! This is full of funny and endearing characters with plenty of backbone. It reassures us that no matter where you may hail from, we are all ultimately the same. I loved it!
Martha Stewart has done it again- this cupcake book is a step above the ordinary. Filled with delectable user-friendly treats, the book is organized into sections to make navigation easier-celebrations, birthdays, holidays and every day. Stewart has also included step by step directions for all sorts of lovely icings and decorations for topping your creations. There are yummy recipes from traditional devil's food cupcakes to mint filled brownie cupcakes, cookie monogram cupcakes, all the way to marshmallow turkey cupcakes! If you love cupcakes the way I do, you'll not want to miss this one!
This is a fabulous story- a true example of the human spirit! The author, a trauma nurse by trade with a passion for mountain climbing, fails at his attempt to summit K2. He ends up stranded in a small unmapped village in Baltistan. There he finds a group of people who have nothing but give him everything. He decides he needs to do something to help them and promises to come back and build them a school. Many obstacles and setbacks slow his progress but he succeeds, and has since built 55 schools in the area. This truly goes to show you what one man with passion can do, in the face of many odds. Very inspirational and a great read!
This is lovely, sad and haunting. When Rose takes a bite of her lovely lemon birthday cake, baked for her by her mother on her 9th birthday, she discovers she has been blessed or cursed with a special gift- she is able to taste the baker's feelings. What is a 9 year old to do when she tastes her mother's despair in a bite of cake? or the school cook's resentment in the lasagna? Life changes for Rose in those moments...the story is one that draws you in easily- it is strange and yet somehow a typical theme- family doing their best to isolate and get away from each other, while simultaneously craving that very closeness and connection. Bender's writing is lovely, and poignant, and her touch of magical realism is the best.
Ishiguro's latest work is a masterpiece of understatement. Told through the voice of the placid Kathy H., who is preparing to begin the next phase of her life, the story is revealed in a series of reflections of her past. Growing up in an idyllic country setting in a seemingly privileged English boarding school, Kathy and her close friends Ruth and Tommy learn poetry and art and are made to feel special. But as details are revealed subtly, beautifully and ever so slowly, truth begins to dawn on the reader that things are not as they seem. Like the children in the story, there is much the readers are "told but not told." The book is haunting and leads to some very interesting thoughts on the topic of science without ethics. I couldn't put it down!
Set in a charming Welsh village, life is really not as it seems for 12 year old Gwenni. With her irrepressible style and curiosity she unwittingly unravels the family's dark hidden secrets, and at the same time finds answers to the town's mysteries. You will fall in love with Gwenni and her "old family stomach". The characters are wonderfully quirky and richly drawn. When situations arise and mysteries take place, Gwenni is determined to solve them....but is the cost of finding the truth worth the effect it will have on her small community? This is a lovely, completely enchanting tale. I loved it.
This book is heart wenching on many levels- first there are Frank and Ellie, who are recovering from the loss of a child; then there is the case of the American company Frank works for in India, wreaking havoc on the lives of native Indians in its typically naive American way; and lastly the Indian house servants Frank and Ellie have inherited, along with their young son...you see where this is going? Umrigar takes the reader on this bumpy journey of love and loss, where the end in sight is inevitable. Good reading!
This book is so much fun. It's smart, literary fiction, modeled after the writing style of a college syllabus, with chapters named Othello, Moby-Dick and Paradise Lost, among others. Following the sudden death of her mother, Blue and her eccentric college professor father travel from community to community, depending on where he is teaching at the moment. Much time is spent traveling by car, discussing books, books, and more books. This doesn't lead to much of a social life, to say the least. When Blue and her dad set up a home in Stockton, NC, for her senior year, things take a turn. The story quickly become a kind of murder mystery, and you won't want to put it down. I savored every moment!
Four Spirits was truly a compelling read- you are drawn into a particularly painful part of our history through her choice of interestingly drawn characters. The story parallels events of the time and is told through various voices that lend credence and humanity to the story, which is in turn haunting and intriguing. Four Spirits has no “Hollywood” ending, but the ending is appropriate and feels right. In spite of its painful subject matter, it is inspiring and hopeful, and on top of that written beautifully. Definitely worth tackling!
This is Frank's story, the brilliant undercover cop leading the investigations of French's first two thrillers. Discovery of a past girlfriend's suitcase takes him back to his family and into the thick of his old Irish neighborhood, otherwise known as Faithful Place. The dialect is thick and lovely; the story is a good one, interweaving his present life, divorced with a little girl, into his past, strong, if broken, Irish family. The story grabs you immediately...called back home to help solve a missing person mystery, Frank discovers much more. Frank is one tough cop, but hidden under the hardened exterior is a soft spot. Going home is never easy, and this return is full of tangled lies and black secrets from the past. Third in the series, this one rounds it out satisfyingly. I can't wait for more from French!
Walters takes an edgy look at the desperate situation many an average Joe finds themselves in during this rocky roller coaster of financial times we are in right now. Out of work and faced with the prospect of losing his house and marriage, Matt makes some reckless choices while at a 7/11 one evening that take him spiraling down into the world of drugs and all of its various sides. Walters takes shots at everyone and everything in this dazzling satire, making it akin to a Catch 22 for the 21st century.
This is a phenomenal read -- it’s bizarre but oh, so compelling! Taking place immediately following 9/11, we meet our unlikely hero: ex-cop, Brian Remy. Remy is suffering from eye damage and memory gaps due to the explosion, and the novel is written from his point of view, thus following a style that stops and starts. He ends up involved in a shadowy covert operation in which he has no idea of how he became involved. This style of writing takes a bit of getting used to but you are soon totally engrossed; it is darkly comic and sticks with you long after you have finished. Highly recommended!
Here's a fresh, at times funny, but always honest new novel for you. You'll watch the very likable, wise beyond his years, "Claybird Catts" grow up - and sometimes a very bumpy ride - poignant yet very charming - I really liked it.
Sweet wild strawberries, gravlax and lingonberries, dry, bone chilling cold -- you can almost smell and feel Sweden in this moving story of two women's friendship. Astrid, living alone in a big house on an isolated street outside of town, is considered by many to be the town witch. Veronika is a young writer who has just moved from New Zealand after losing the love of her life in a tragic accident. Both have hidden secrets and as the women slowly get acquainted, secrets are revealed, layers of pain and solitude are stripped away, slowly, slowly as the ice melts, creating a very real feeling of a thaw. Beautifully written, hypnotic prose pulls you along in this wonderful novel of friendship.
The quote on the back of the book hits the nail on the head -- "tender, tough, and tearful" -- yes, all of that plus a great story about sisters, families, and life! Written in a very unique style, this will grab you from the beginning.
Jackson writes with a picture perfect Southern voice in all of her previous novels, and this one is no different. She take us back to a minor character from Gods in Alabama, Rose Mae Lolly, and tells her story. As Rose Mae Lolly, she grows up trying to survive, and she does so with her feisty exterior and zest for lovin'. After she marries Thom, she is trying to survive as well, and she does so by donning ballet flats and pretty skirts and becoming "Ro" Grandee. A chance meeting with a "gypsy" in the airport changes the course of her life, and ultimately saves it. Jackson takes a subject that is uncomfortable and gives a great story. Her characters, richly drawn as always, are quirky, charming and full of various flaws. Pick this one up and you won't want to put it down!
A dusty box discovered in the remains of a basement of an old North Carolina plantation house opens the door to the reader on an extraordinary life from the past. The treasures include an 1870’s diary of a young girl, letters, court documents, news clippings, marbles, dolls, etc.; all allowing us to meet the irrepressible Molly Petree, the protagonist from Lee Smith’s newest novel. Raised in the ruin of the post-Civil War era by relatives, Molly refuses to waste time on self pity. She means to live life to the fullest, so when a mysterious benefactor shows up to rescue her, she doesn’t look back, until she is an old woman and returns to the old family home on “Agate Hill.” Molly lives her life with the throttle on high, risking everything to remain true to herself. Spanning half a century, On Agate Hill is a novel of love, unexpected adventures and luck, both good and bad. This is a wonderful piece of historical fiction with flesh and blood characters and equal doses of comedy and tragedy. Lee Smith at her finest!
I loved this book! This is a solid, meaty read - full of intrigue and passion. You are pulled into Berlin at the end of WWII where things are not always as they seem, and the Black Market jumps to life. A fascinating read.
A simple premise, the 60-something English teacher retires to try his hand at farming, his wife leaves him and he decides to hit the road in the hopes of visiting each state and at the same time, restoring his soul....Harrison writes with warmth and attention to detail; you'll alternate chuckling with a feeling of reminiscence. Witty and engaging, you'll be left with Harrison's point that change can be beneficial at any time.
For all of you Michael Connolly fans, I say look out Harry Bosch, there's a new guy in town! Well, make that Norway . . . set in Norway, The Redbreast introduces us to Det. Harry Hole, a washed-up detective with the uncanny ability to solve the most unsolvable crimes. The story flips from past to present as it takes us back to WWII where the setup for a present day crime is unfolding. This is smartly written and fast paced, with twists and turns until the very last page!
This is such a great series and Larsson has not let us down with the final book in the trilogy. With Salander recovering from brain surgery (come on, you knew she had to survive, right!), Blomkvist moves to the forefront to get the mystery solved; he is not able to do it without her help and help she does, even from her lockdown room at the hospital. Slowly but surely the pieces begin to fall into place, but not without enough twists and turns to keep you up at night. I savored every bit even when I could not put it down- story telling at its best!
"Jeannette Walls' 'The Glass Castle' was not a one hit wonder, but rather one piece of a very complicated puzzle. After reading this book I felt as though I had completed a large corner of that puzzle of which is the life of Jeanette Walls. Lily Casey Smith (Walls' Grandmother) helps to break wild horses at age 6 with her father and teaches in a frontier school at age 15. Her independence at such a young age is amazing. She continues to be inspiring and larger than life throughout the story. This is a mesmerizing story and a "have to have" for all readers of 'The Glass Castle."
"In flowing rhyme and flowing illustrations, 'All the World' is a slice of the world in one day. Liz Garton Scanlon's words convey comparisons and simplicity. Marlee Frazee's illustrations never fail to convey warmth that wraps us up in a blanket. Each page transports the reader from the farmer's market to the apple tree or a picture window to a sunset on the shore. From a cold storm to soup in the kitchen, this is a story where we all want to be. This book will become a classic in my library."
This is a riveting account of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; initially, the hardships of the storm are first and foremost, and then in the days following, New Orleans is swept up in a sea of paranoia, chaos and inept management. Eggers follows the Zeitoun family as they try to regroup in the ensuing horrors of Katrina. When Zeitoun takes to his canoe to hand out supplies to fellow victims, he is arrested by the police in a possible case of racial-profiling. Eggers tells the story with his unique brand of clear prose and wry humor. The reader is sucked into the horrifying circumstances slowly and eloquently, ever the worse because it is true. A disturbing yet compelling look at human nature at its best and at its worst.
If you, like me, missed this novel when it was first released in April, 2010, you are in for a treat. This is the story of a newspaper in Rome; and yet, it is so much more than that. The story, told as a series of shorter stories, focuses on the lives of people whose lives revolve around the newspaper- the imperious editor, who has recently discovered her husband is having an affair; the freelancer who fakes a story so he can get just one more story published; the woman who is reading the newspaper from cover to cover, so slowly that she is still back in 1994; interspersed in these chapters is the story of how the newspaper was started, by whom and how the times are taking its toll on it. It is a fascinating study of life- Rachman’s characters are all slightly “imperfect”, thus the title, but the novel as a whole is not- the writing is brilliant and astute and you find yourself caring about each of the characters. Wonderfully quirky and poignant. Don’t miss it!
This is a sweeping, glorious novel taking place in Spain, Portugal and Morocco just before WWII. Although it is a bit of a slow start, you can really sink into this tale of Sira, a seamstress from Madrid, who blindly follows her heart and ends up down and out in Morocco. The story of how she picks herself up and with the help of a few quirky and special friends, finds her way out of the darkness, using the skills she has forgotten that she possesses is riveting. The venue, North Africa and Spain, provides a setting for WWII that I really knew very little about. There is passion, plenty of intrigue and a wonderful cast of characters to keep you engrossed and forget that this novel is 600 plus ages!
This, the latest offering by Jo Nesbo, is not for the reader in search of a warm gentle holiday read. Instead, Nesbo ratchets up the violence along with the stakes in the newest addition to the Harry Hole series. When the book opens we find Harry in Hong Kong, down and out, doing his best, through the use of opium and alcohol, to forget his self-induced guilt. He is reluctantly called back to Norway when his father becomes deathly ill, and just in time to help crack a new serial murder case. Things are never as they seem in Harry's cases and there twists and turns aplenty as Harry follows the clues to an isolated mountain cabin in the bleak Norwegian cold. Hole is truly suffering from inner demons in The Leopard, but his relationship with his father and sister present a vulnerable side not always obvious. You will find 600 pages fly by as you dig into this riveting pageturner ...a perfect way to pass a cold winter day!
This is a wonderfully understated slip of a book. It all takes place in the day in the life of Isabel, a twenty-something working with the damaged books in a library in the Pacific Northwest . As Isabel goes through her day, you learn about her past, growing up a a young girl in Alaska, her present, as a lover of all things vintage, her hidden feelings for the ex-armed forces veteran who works on her floor, and little by little, her hopes and dreams for the future. It's lyrical and haunting and beautifully written; Glaciers is a quiet little book that packs an emotional wallop. Lovely.
This is an engaging literary thriller. Dr. Jennifer White is a brilliant, retired orthopedic surgeon who has recently come under suspicion for the murder of her best friend. The evidence points increasingly to her...the problem? Dr. White suffers from dementia and even she doesn't know if she did it. You will be drawn into the story of White's family and life as a surgeon, and the inner workings of her slowly unraveling mind, all as the investigation of her friend's murder ratchets up. Could she really have murdered her close friend? Was their friendship really what it seemed? and why was her friend found murdered, with four of her fingers cleanly severed....This is the perfect intriguing read with twists and turns aplenty, guaranteed to get you through the end of this cold damp spring!