There’s more than one kind of ghost story.

8 Mar

Memories prove just as haunting as ghosts in The Keep, an imaginative but creepy novel by Jennifer Egan.

In castles, the keep was the inner stronghold – the last place of refuge when defending a castle. It proves an apt metaphor as the novel’s characters try to keep the past and their mistakes from destroying them.

When Danny and Howard, two estranged cousins, meet in a crumbling old German castle, the past can no longer be kept out. It returns, bringing with it a reminder of the terrible wrong done by Danny to Howard when they were teens. All this is connected to a prisoner with a violent past and his writing teacher, who develop an oddly touching relationship. Each story is compelling and how they are related gradually becomes clear.

The almost gothic atmosphere with the castle looming in the background is wonderful, and I loved the way the author ties both stories together. Kathy B


Little Women and (their father) March – Two novels

17 Feb

The Pulitzer Prize winning novel March by Geraldine Brooks, paired with a re-reading of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, is a rewarding dual selection for book discussion groups. March is Mr. March, the father of sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, who leaves home to volunteer as a Union chaplain the Civil War. His experiences provide a dark picture of the war – evil and suffering that affect soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict.  Marriage to Mr. March, who is a “true believer” in abolitionism, is not a bed of roses for Marmee, his wife.  You may not accept Brooks’ March as the missing father in Little Women, but the author has woven solid historical research into an engrossing story. Louisa May Alcott finished her novel about the March family a few years after the Civil War, basing her characters on her childhood memories.  Re-reading Little Women as an adult lets you compare your favorite sisters or family members, then and now.  Plan on extra discussion time if your book club reads these novels in tandem! Beth

A Detective with a Heart

14 Feb

In 1940 London, Johnny Hawke is just scraping by as a Private Investigator. Discharged from the army after loosing an eye in rifle training, the former constable is hired to look for a couple’s missing daughter. As he starts to dig, Johnny discovers their daughter may have been living a double life connected to the dark side of the burgeoning film industry. Meanwhile, Peter, a lonely boy who’s run away from home, finds his way into Johnny’s life. The friendship between Peter and Johnny is charming, as the PI seems to see a reflection of himself in the young boy.

Filled with dashes of humor and bits of romance, Forests of the Night, by David Stuart Davies, evokes WW2 London with likeable characters that you truly care about. Kathy B

You want me to read a football novel???

30 Jan

Well….yes, and it’s called LOVE, FOOTBALL AND OTHER CONTACT SPORTS. According to the book jacket, “love and football are just the tip of the iceberg in this poignant and raucously funny series of interconnected stories.” Set in small-town Wisconsin, the stories follow a group of football players, their girls, their friends and their enemies through the four years of high school. Author Alden Carter, who always writes convincingly of Midwest teens, is one of my favorites. Don’t miss this one – and then go back and read GROWING SEASON and BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. Nancy

Submerse yourself in Victorian London

24 Jan

How can I describe The Meaning of Night: A Confession?
A force of nature, perhaps? It pulled me along like the tide…just one chapter, I’d think – an hour later I’d come up for air and shake the fog shrouded London scene from my head. Author Michael Cox has written a rich story of obsession and murder filled with twists and turns and a satisfying ending.

I could not stop reading – despite the fact the main character, Edward Glyver, admits to a cold-blooded murder on the first page. But Edward is a fascinating character and I found myself liking him, despite his many flaws. I wanted to know what compelled him to do what he did on that first page and I think you will, too. Kathy B

The Sopranos not your cuppa? Check out Monarch of the Glen (DVD series)

22 Jan

The BBC television series Monarch of the Glen was photographed in the Scottish Highlands, and the actors who make up the extended family at the Glenbogle estate include standouts Susan Hampshire and Alistair McKenzie. For the McKenzies, family conflict is present, but on a kinder gentler level than that in the Sopranos family. British actors Richard Briers and Julian Fellowes who play the laird Hector and neighbor Kilwillie are personal favorites. This comedy drama provides entertainment, escape and armchair travel, for those of us who won’t be visiting the real Ardverikie Estate in Scotland soon.


iPod essential artist

8 Jan

If you are adding musical artists to your new Nano, and you like folk, gospel, blues, or the jazz standards, check out one of the Library CDs recorded by the late Eva Cassidy. Although she is not easily pigeonholed in any one of these musical categories, her music is shelved in the Jazz section of CD collection. Listening to the CDs Imagine, Eva by Heart, or Songbird will provide a tapestry of her musical talents There is nothing standard in any Eva Cassidy styling of a song – from “Fever” to Fields of Gold” to “Wade in the Water”; her singular voice defies description. Beth

The Library also owns a biography of the late singer, Eva Cassidy: Songbird by Rob Burly – Call number: 782.4092 C273b.Eva C

For Jane Austen enthusiasts (or anyone who likes a fast, funny read)

29 Dec

You don’t have to be a teen to enjoy Polly Shulman’s YA novel Enthusiasm – a fun, romantic tale of a modern day teen looking for her own Mr. Darcy.
Julie’s best friend, Ashleigh, is an “enthusiast” who takes up one craze after another. Most of the time, Julie doesn’t mind going along with her friend’s latest obsession, but then Ashleigh reads Julie’s favorite book Pride and Prejudice. Before you can say “Jane Austen” she’s wearing antique dresses, learning to dance a quadrille and crashing an all-boys school’s dance to look for the perfect gentleman. Not only does Ashleigh take ownership of Julie’s favorite book, the boy she chooses as her perfect Mr. Darcy is the same boy Julie secretly adores. I really liked both Julie and Ashleigh. Their friendship is a delight, so despite all the problems and misunderstandings that ensue, there is a lightness and humor that make this a book you could read in one sitting ( I know I did!). Kathy B

Mavis has her baby!

29 Dec

I love the mix of murder, romance, and humor that author J. D. Robb has in her “in Death” futuristic mystery novels. The lastest, Born in Death, ends with Mavis having her baby but only after her best friend, Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department, investigates two brutal torture-murders and tries to locate a missing friend of Mavis who is also pregnant. Eve also has to find time to buy a baby present for Mavis, host a baby shower at her home and, with her husband Roarke at her side, attend birthing classes. Not only do Robb’s characterisations make these people come alive, but she deftly describes the murder scenes and autopsies without being too graphic. The writing makes all these elements work together wonderfully. Reneebornindeath

Dragons mixed with the Napoleonic Wars

28 Dec

The fantasy novel His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik is a wonderful mix of sailing ships, dragons and life in the 1800’s. After a hard-fought sea battle, Captain Laurence of HMS Reliant boards the French ship he defeated and discovers an unhatched dragon egg. Before they can make it to land, the dragon hatches and chooses the captain to be his handler. Laurence’s naval career comes to an end and he finds himself training as an aviator. His bond with Temeraire, an intelligent dragon unlike any other in the British service, only deepens. The military action and developing relationship between man and dragon pulled me into this alternative world and I quickly finished the book. I was pleased to be able to continue their story in the next two books in the series, Throne of Jade and Black Powder War. My fifteen-year-old nephew also loves the series. I hope you do to. Renee