Post-Summer Reading reviews

Summer Reading Programs in the library world are like Christmas for normal people. The excitement of all the planning, making the theme your library’s own, ordering the prizes, prepping the weekly trivia questions–fun, all fun. Running it is also a blast for us at the desk; summer is here and people have time to come to the library because they want to and not just because they have to print something out last minute, they playfully spar about who will answer the question correctly first at the desk quiz and spend some good time deciding what kind of chocolate will be their weekly reward.

But best of all we get to spend more time with our patrons chatting about what they’re reading and what they think we should be reading. An option in our SRP was for readers to write a mini-review to be posted in the library. We have found that people like to know what the librarian recommends they read, but they really like to know what their neighbors have been reading and recommending.

Below is just a sampling of some of the reviews our talented readers wrote. We asked the reviews to be anonymous, so thank you to our unnamed commentators!

The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Gravesgirls
An engaging and readable story centering on finding a missing girl–and unraveling all of the family drama that is her unknown baggage. The protagonist is Lizzie Snow, an ex-Boston homicide detective who has baggage of her own. As a Maine sheriff’s deputy, she is drawn into a complex situation compounded by unknown relationships among the less-than-forthright characters.

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

An engaging book with an impr3obable story line. The plot is based on a woman who believes her artificial insemination donor is a serial killer. In the beginning it is hard not to empathize with her. Even when the plot starts degenerating into implausibility, there is a need to complete the book to discover the resolution. I’d rate the book 5 stars for readability and 3 stars for plot.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondomagic

Ms. Kondo shares her philosophy on how to de-clutter and tidy your house once and for all. She has a big ego and claims her method never fails. She has some good suggestions, but some of her ideas seem a little crazy. Overall, she has inspired me to take control and make changes that I hope will last.

To place any of the books reviewed on hold, simply click on the title.



Book Review: Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

16058610I am an ardent fan of book groups-they are a wonderful way to discover new titles and discuss them with old and new friends over a glass of the adult beverage of one’s choice. In one of my groups we meet, read and discuss books and life 11 out of 12 months a year. Then comes December and we play. We pick a restaurant, purchase a paperback book and wrap it beautifully, then ask the server to give out the books to us at random (that way we don’t know who our book is from until we open). At our December 2015 meeting I received (from Diane) Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall.

This wonderful coming-of-age novel is set in Mississippi in the summer of 1963, the eve of the Civil Rights movement. Starla Claudelle is a feisty red-headed nine-year-old who lives in the small town of Cayuga Springs with her resentful grandmother, Mamie, determined to make Starla into a proper young lady. Being grounded over Independence Day  is too much for Starla who makes an impromptu decision to run away to Nashville to live with her mother who is trying to break into the music business. Starla’s father works on an oil rig so running off to him is not an option.

While walking  out of town, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride, with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville. As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 Southern segregation.

Crandall perfectly captures the voice and the innocence of a nine-year-old caught up in a time and place that is quickly losing its innocence. Whistling Past the Graveyard will resonate with readers who enjoyed The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Click on the link to place this book on hold: Whistling Past the Graveyard



Book Review The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

the-passenger-lisa-lutzI came to read this on the strong recommendation of one of our regular patrons, thank you Beverly!

Lutz takes a break from the Spellmans in this standalone thriller introducing us to Tanya Dubois, the enigmatic heroine who is the unhappy wife of the deceased Frank Dubois, who took a fatal, unassisted tumble down the basement stairs of their Waterloo, Wis. home.

Fearing the police will think she pushed Frank, Tanya decides to get out of Waterloo as fast as possible, and she holes up in a sleazy motel, the first of many she’ll stay in, to call the mysterious Mr. Oliver, who grudgingly agrees to supply her with a new identity and some starter cash. It is clear he’s done it before. Tanya briefly becomes Amelia Keen in Austin, Tex., where she meets the beguiling but dangerous bartender Blue. The reader quickly learns that Amelia and Blue each have unsavory pasts, and the agreement the women reach sends both of them off with new names.

While the pacing falters in places and the final reveal lack wallop-you may figure out the ending before Lutz is ready to reveal it- Lutz’s complex web of finely-honed characters will keep you turning the pages.

To place a hold, click on the link The Passenger.


Chestnut Street: Saying Goodbye to Maeve Binchy

ImageI finished Chestnut Street, that’s the best that can be said.  Maeve Binchy books are not difficult reading; they are delightful character driven stories with a dip into the Irish landscape and culture. I really wanted to like this book. And basically, I somewhat liked it. Binchy’s final book, published posthumously this year following her death in 2012, is a collection of short stories–some only four pages long–centered around the houses of the not too well to do inhabitants of Chestnut Street, Dublin. Each story gives a peek at a different resident of Chestnut Street: Bucket, the window cleaner who goes everywhere on his bicycle and will do anything for his son. Dolly and her perfectly beautiful cheerful mother who may not be as perfect as she seems. Nessa whose Aunt has emigrated to America and brings back her manners, culture and opinions each year and may not be the woman she portrays herself to be.

Chestnut Street gives us a glimpse into our neighbors’ homes and lives. But like with most short stories, a glimpse is all we get. Binchy may have written these as testers for a more cohesive, longer story. The NPR review says Chestnut Street, “Has everything that makes Binchy special, in small delicious bites.” And there’s the rub. Reading all thirty-six short stories in a few sittings is tantamount to eating a pound of fudge in one go, sweet and sickly.

To make up your own mind about Chestnut Street, click here to place a hold:

Chestnut Street

-Sarah BG

Fun Read for Foodies

18167006Ruth Reichl the former managing editor of the beloved, now defunct, Gourmet magazine has spread her literary talent to the fiction page with her first novel, Delicious!  The story of Billie Breslin, a 20something frump (think the before Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada) who has dropped out of college to try her hand at being an editorial assistant at the historic “Delicious!” magazine. Billie has a remarkable, almost magical, palate that allows her to taste when a chef uses curry leaves in a meatball recipe or even knowing what myrtle and hyssop taste like.

When the magazine is shut down, Billie is left to honor the Delicious Guarantee—the magazine’s promise to make recipes right for its readers. Left quite literally on her own in the grand mansion that housed the “book,” Billie discovers a secret room with a cache of letters from readers, including a correspondence during World War II between a girl named Lulu and renowned writer James Beard.

The story is thin, the characters accessible yet not fully developed and the prose easy and understandable. So while this may sound like a meh review, I really enjoyed Delicious! It falls in line with Maeve Binchy–a book that presents some problem you know will be resolved well, all in a beautiful setting. Trade Dublin for Greenwich Village.

To place a hold:


-Sarah BG