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Friday, August 11, 2017

When Marriage Leads to Mayhem

            In fiction, as in life, marriage is not always a bed of roses. Here are some new novels that prove this point.

            In the Shadow of Lakecrest, written by Elizabeth Blackwell, is set in 1928 where heroine Kate Moore seeks to hide her past life of poverty and violence and start anew. She meets the handsome and wealthy Matthew Lemont while working as a governess on a transatlantic cruise. After marrying him, she discovers that her new life isn’t perfect: Matthew suffers bouts of PTSD from combat in World War I, and Kate is kept isolated at Lakecrest, the family estate, with his controlling mother-in-law and aloof sister-in-law who have their own dark secrets.

            The Good Widow: A Novel is written by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. Here, Jacqueline Morales, an elementary school teacher who has been married to James for eight years is stunned to learn he has been killed in a car accident in Maui when he was supposed to be on a business trip in Kansas. And, he was with another woman named Dylan. Devastated, Jacqueline stumbles through a deep depression until Nick, Dylan’s fiancĂ©, shows up at her house. Together they travel to Hawaii to investigate.

            The Widow of Wall Street: A Novel, written by Randy Susan Meyers, tells the story of Phoebe, married to childhood sweetheart Jake. They both share in the luxurious lifestyle resulting from the financial empire that Jake has built. Then the trusting Phoebe discovers that Jake’s success is based upon a Ponzi scheme. What to do? Leave her husband, as her children want her to do, or stay by his side?

            Behind Closed Doors is written by B.A. Paris, and is about Jack and Grace, the perfect couple; he is a successful lawyer and she is a full-time homemaker preparing gourmet meals and hosting glamorous dinner parties. But she never leaves the house unless she is accompanied by Jack. And why are some of the windows barred? Can Grace set herself free?

            Mr. Rochester, written by Sarah Shoemaker, presents the story of Jane Eyre from Mr. Rochester’s viewpoint. We learn of his upbringing as the younger son of a wealthy man; he is not to inherit the Thornfield estate but instead sent to Jamaica to learn the family business after his education is completed. There, after a whirlwind courtship and marriage to Antoinetta, who is becoming increasingly mentally unstable, he is called home to Thornfield where the Jane Eyre story begins.

            A bibliography with these and other suspense novels is available at the library.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summer Cuisine

            During the hot days of summer, we all look for easy, quick ways to prepare our meals. Perhaps some of these books can help you.

            Endless Summer Cookbook, is written by Katie Lee, a cookbook and food magazine author and television personality. Influenced by her summer cooking experiences in the Hamptons, Lee presents one hundred recipes based on the season’s produce and other fresh ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes, drinks, and desserts. Beautiful color photos accompany the text.

            Master of the Grill: Foolproof Recipes, Top-Rated Gadgets, Gear and Ingredients Plus Clever Test Kitchen Tips and Fascinating Food Science is a publication from America’s Test Kitchen. The book includes step-by-step instructions for all of the grilling techniques you need to know, accompanied by many photos, as well as almost 700 recipes featuring beef, chicken, pork, poultry, vegetables, and more. Consumer advice on the purchase of grills and grilling tools also are provided.

            Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling is written by Meathead Goldwyn, the author of online barbecuing site and also writes articles for a variety of magazines and newspapers. Learn about the concepts, methods, equipment, and accessories required for the best barbecuing and grilling, as well as 118 recipes to prepare meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, pizzas, marinades, and sauces.

Picture1Picture1            The Art of Making Gelato: 50 Flavors to Make at Home is written by Morgan Morano, a professional chef and gelato expert. She presents 50 recipes for gelato and sorbetto. Gelato differs from ice cream in that it is churned more slowly and at a warmer temperature than ice cream, giving it a denser texture. Sorbets are dairy-free and egg-free, made from whole fruit and a simple syrup. Flavors range from the traditional chocolate and strawberry to the unusual—Torta della Mimosa, Biscoff, avocado, and more.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Design Your Outdoor Space

            Design and decorate the outdoor area of your home. You’re sure to benefit from your efforts year-round, but especially during the summer. Here are some books to help you get started.

            Building Outdoor Kitchens for Every Budget is written by Steve Cory, a builder, remodeler, and author. Whether you do it yourself or hire a pro, you will learn to plan and execute your project. See how to select the best materials for a tight budget, and install such items as counters and appliances. Options such as pizza ovens, fire pits and fireplaces, pergolas, mosquito abatement, and more also are included. In-depth instructions and more than 300 photos are provided.

            Stanley Decks: A Homeowner’s Guide is written by David Toht. Building a deck requires basic carpentry skills, the right tools, and investment of time in designing and planning your project. This book gives step-by-step instructions to building four types of decks: patio deck, first- story deck, raised deck, and multi-feature deck. Learn the basics such as installing footings and ledgers, framing, building stairs and rails, then continue with built-ins such as benches, planters, and more. Information also is given on deck maintenance and repair.

            Taunton’s All New Backyard Idea Book is written by Sandra S. Soria. She shows you how to plan your outdoor space for a variety of activities, from children’s play to reading and relaxing to dining and entertaining. Soria starts with the basic structures of patios, decks, and porches, and continues with pergolas, arbors, and sheds; adding such landscaping features as beds and borders. Advice on furniture, lighting, fabrics, and accessories also are provided. Includes more than 275 photos.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Afternoon Book Discussions: July through December 2017

Join us for our afternoon book discussions, held on the third Wednesday each month, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Here is what is scheduled for the second half of 2017.

            On July 19th, we will discuss The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood. This chilling look at the near future presents the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, once the United States. Now it is an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction. There will be an additional discussion of this book on Tuesday, July 18th at 7:00 p.m. Registration begins June 21st.

            On August 16th, we will discuss The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coehlo. This classic work is a fable about undauntingly following one’s dream, listening to one’s heart, and reading life’s omens, featuring dialogue between a boy and an unnamed being. Registration begins July 19th.

            On September 20th, we will discuss The Buried Giant, written by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is a novel that imagines a war-ravaged Britain where Axl and Beatrice, an elderly Briton couple set out on a journey to find the son they have not seen in years. They are joined in their travels by a Saxon warrior, his orphaned charge, and a knight. Registration begins August 16th.

            On October 18th, we will discuss Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, written by Margot Lee Shetterly. Here is an account of the previously unheralded but pivotal contributions of NASA’s African-American women mathematicians to America’s space program, even while they were segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws. Registration begins September 20th.

            On November 15th, we will discuss Girl on the Train, written by Paula Hawkins. The thriller portrays Rachel, a woman who tries to escape the pain of her own losses by obsessively watching a breakfasting couple every day while on her train ride. Then she witnesses a shocking event that inextricably entangles her in the lives of strangers. Registration begins October 18th.

            On December 20th, we will discuss Swans of Fifth Avenue: a Novel, written by Melanie Benjamin. This is a fictionalized version of the friendship between writer Truman Capote and New York City socialite Babe Paley, and its resulting emotional destruction. Registration begins November 15th.

            Please join us for one or all of these discussions.





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May is Older Americans Month

            Here are some new non-fiction books to keep you current with the latest medical and financial advances for seniors.

            The Age Fix: a Leading Plastic Surgeon Reveals how to Really Look Ten Years Younger is written by Anthony Youn. This board-certified plastic surgeon outlines skin-care and dietary strategies for enabling youthful wrinkle-free skin without surgery or invasive treatments.

            The Age of Longevity: Reimagining Tomorrow for Our New Long Lives is written by Rosalind C. Barnett, a senior scientist at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. She conjectures that since life spans are lengthening, adult vigor can be extended well into the nineties. How will this affect us as individuals and as a society? She offers recommendations on changing our institutions and attitudes for our longer life spans.

            Ageproof: Living Longer without Running out of Money or Breaking a Hip is written by Jean Chatzky, a financial expert and Michael F. Roizen, MD, an anesthesiologist and internist at the Cleveland Clinic. They explain the vital link between health and wealth, outlining science-driven ways for maximizing life quality, longevity, and retirement savings.

            Bio-Young: Get Younger at a Cellular and Hormonal Level is written by Roxy Dillon, a nutritionist and scientist. Here she offers a practical, natural approach to fighting the effects of aging by using exercise, skin care and nutrition to get cellular and hormonal functions back under control, resulting in both looking and feeling years younger.

            Disrupt Aging: a Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age is written by Jo Ann Jenkins, the CEO of AARP. She explains how people over fifty can all be active, financially unburdened, and happy as they get older, in a book that covers everything from caregiving and mindful living to building age-friendly communities and attaining financial freedom.

            Relax into Yoga for Seniors: a Six-Week Program for Strength, Balance, Flexibility, and Pain Relief is written by Kimberly Carson and is based on the Yoga for Seniors program at the Duke Integrative Medicine and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. This book teaches seniors the twelve principles of practice, step by step, in a six-week program.

            Younger: a Breakthrough Program to Reset Your Genes, Reverse Aging, and Turn Back the Clock 10 Years is written by Sara Gottfried, MD. She presents this seven-week program that aims to slow down and reverse the aging process through lifestyle changes, including environmental modifications, improved diet, and enhanced exercise.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Nora Webster: a Novel

            A story about the recently widowed Nora Webster, set in a small town in Ireland during the late 1960s and early ‘70s, shows us how Nora and her family adjust to life without Maurice, her husband and their father. The book is written by Colm Toibin (pronounced Cullum Toe-bean), who also wrote the novel Brooklyn.

            Nora lost the love of her life when Maurice passed away after a short illness. Wanting to hide away to mourn privately, and irritable because of the number of condolence calls paid to her, Nora tries to find the will to continue on. But her children and other relatives also miss Maurice and Nora is forced to cope with this too. Eventually, she is able to open up to renewing and expanding on her relationships with family and forms friendships within the community. Nora returns to work, becomes an active participant in political discussions, joins a music listening club, and begins singing lessons. Although Nora’s recovery is not quick nor painless, after three years we see that she has embraced her new skills and relishes her new freedoms, ending the novel on a positive note.

Friday, May 12, 2017

New Fiction Featuring Mothers

             Some recently published novels feature mothers as the main characters. Of course, these mothers aren’t picture-perfect and problem-free. See what makes them tick!

            Dear Thing, written by Julie Cohen, is about single mother Romily who decides to become a surrogate mother for her friends Ben and Claire. But as her pregnancy advances, Romily is overwhelmed by her emotions, endangering the couple’s marriage and her friendship with them.

            The Trophy Child is written by Paula Daly. Here, “tiger mother” Karen pushes her daughter to the academic limit yet is highly critical of her son and stepdaughter and henpecks her husband. Rebellion and damage to the family’s foundation ensue.

            Grace: a Novel, written by Natasha Deon, tells the dual stories of a mother, who is a runaway plantation slave, and the child she never knew, against the backdrop of mid-19th century historic events, including the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and beyond.

            I Liked My Life is written by Abby Fabiaschi. Maddy, a devoted wife and mother commits suicide, leaving her husband and teenage daughter behind and helpless with grief. From the beyond, Maddy begins to coordinate events in an attempt to ameliorate her family’s lives, even by selecting a new wife and mother for them.

            Rabbit Cake, written by Annie Hartnett, tells the story of 12-year-old Elvis Babbitt whose mother accidentally drowns during a sleepwalking incident. Elvis, her father, and sister are forced to cope with their loss and adapt to their new lives.

            The Mother’s Promise is written by Sally Hepworth. Here, a dying single mother reaches out to her oncology nurse and social worker for help protecting her troubled teenage daughter, forging a unit that bonds the four women together and challenges them to confront their sharpest fears and secrets.

            Before this Is Over is written by Amanda Hickie. When a deadly virus arrives on Hannah’s doorstep, she goes to great lengths to keep her family safe, but she quickly learns that she cannot keep the entire world at bay, with one threat after another looming outside her suburban doorstep.

            The Book that Matters Most, written by Ann Hood, is about Ava who has joined a reading group while attempting to cope with her failed marriage. She rediscovers a book from her past that had helped her with problems before. We also witness the problems of Ava’s daughter Maggie, who is descending into a destructive relationship with a man in Paris.

            Edgar and Lucy, written by Victor Lodato, tells the story of eight-year-old Edgar Fini, who had been cared for by his late grandmother during his mother Lucy’s dysfunctional episodes. As he grows older, and Lucy is inattentive to him, Edgar falls under the influence of an inappropriate adult.

            113 Minutes is written by James Patterson and Max DiLallo. It is about Molly Rourke, who takes the law into her own hands following the murder of her son.

            The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is written by Lisa See. It explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter, who has been adopted by an American couple, tracing the very different cultural factors that compel them to consume a rare native tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

            The Girl in the Garden, written by Melanie Wallace, is the story of a young woman with an infant son who is abandoned in a New England seaside motel. Offered shelter in the home of the manager’s friend, the woman is integrated into the lives of the locals and starts over amid revelations of loves and crimes from the past.