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Friday, December 26, 2014

Afternoon Book Discussions

Join us once a month, on a Wednesday afternoon from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, to discuss a fiction or non-fiction book selection. Coffee, tea and cookies are served. Books are available at the Circulation Desk four weeks before the discussion date. Our schedule is:

January 21st                
The Beautiful Mystery, written by Louise Penny
When a peaceful monastery in Quebec is shattered by the murder of their renowned choir director, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Saurete du Quebec are challenged to find the killer in a cloistered community that has taken a vow of silence.

February 18th
Gone Girl, written by Gillian Flynn
When a woman goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, her diary reveals hidden turmoil in her marriage, while her husband, desperate to clear himself of suspicion, realizes that something more disturbing than murder may have occurred.

March 18th
Shoemaker’s Wife, written by Adriana Trigiani
Follows star-crossed lovers, Enza, a practical beauty and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who, after their first meeting in the Italian Alps, find their destinies inexplicably entwined as they build their lives in America.

April 15th
Transatlantic, written by Colum McCann
A tale spanning one hundred fifty years and two continents reimagines the peace efforts of democracy champion Frederick Douglass, Senator George Mitchell, and World War I airmen John Alcock and Teddy Brown through the experiences of four generations of women.

May 20th
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, written by Gilbert King
Chronicles a little-known court case in which Thurgood Marshall successfully saved a black citrus worker from the electric chair after the worker was accused of raping a white woman with three other black men.

June 17th
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, written by Cheryl Strayed
Traces the personal crisis the author endured after the death of her mother and a painful divorce, which prompted her ambition to undertake a dangerous 1,100-mile solo hike that both drove her to rock bottom and helped her to heal.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman's Prison

            This memoir, written by Piper Kerman, a Smith College graduate and advertising executive, details her imprisonment in a minimum-security federal prison for a little over a year. As part of a post-graduate fling, Piper travelled with a female friend who was a drug trafficker and eventually helped her by transporting drug money. Years later the friend identified Piper, as well as others, as an accomplice; Piper was arrested by the FBI for drug trafficking.  Legal matters caused the imprisonment to be postponed for another few years. Finally, Piper had to leave her boyfriend,  family, friends and job to turn herself in.
            From here, the narrative follows two themes. One is that the female prisoners that Piper lives with are often victims of poverty, little education and challenging family relationships; because prison life does not retrain them for self-sufficiency the prisoners often return to their lives of crime. The second theme is that of Piper’s maturation during her prison stay; she becomes acutely aware of the value of family members and friends who unconditionally support her during this time.  
            Although the reader might wonder at the validity of Piper’s observations, being that she is an upper-middle class white woman in the midst of poverty-stricken women of color, at the end of the book Piper does offer suggestions on how she and the readers of her book might help these prisoners improve their lots in life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merry Christmas Mayhem: Yuletide Mysteries

            Just in time for Christmas! Find out whodunit in one or all these holiday mysteries.

            The Nightingale before Christmas: a Meg Langslow Mystery is written by Donna Andrews. In this book, Meg’s mother signs up to participate in a Christmas-themed decorator’s show house, with Meg helping out. The designers’ egos clash, then one of them turns up murdered. Will Meg’s mother be held responsible?
            Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery is written by Stephanie Barron. Detective Jane solves a murder mystery set over the twelve days of a Regency-Era Christmas party.

            Cold Snap is written by Allison Brennan. On her trip home for the holidays, FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid and her boyfriend are snowed in at a Denver hotel, with a dead body. And Lucy’s family in San Diego face further dangers.

            Mrs. Jeffries and the Merry Gentlemen is written by Emily Brightwell. Once again, Mrs. Jeffries keeps house and solves a mystery for Inspector Witherspoon. Here, she investigates the murder of a London stockbroker.

            The Diva Wraps it Up is written by Krista Davis. Yuletide mishaps evolve into murder; domestic diva Sophie Winston investigates.

            Spirit of Steamboat is written by Craig Johnson. Sheriff Walt Longmire, the main character of the popular A&E show, is interrupted in his reading of The Christmas Carol by a young woman looking for the previous town sheriff.

            Silent Night: a Spenser Holiday Novel is written by Robert B. Parker with Helen Brown. During the holiday season, Spenser is approached by Slide, a homeless boy. He belongs to an organization called Street Business, a worthwhile community group dedicated to helping the homeless. They are being threatened by criminals.

            The Christmas Wassail is written by Kate Sedley. Christmas in 1483 has Roger the Chapman ready to enjoy the festivities with his family until two of the town’s most prominent citizens are murdered.

            Shadows on a Maine Christmas: an Antique Print Mystery is written by Lea Wait. At a Christmas gathering with family and friends, secrets about a crime from the past are unwittingly revealed, placing the partygoers in danger.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Some Romance for Christmas

 Get in the holiday spirit when you read some of these new romance books.
 Christmas Bliss, written by Mary Kay Andrews, presents an anxiety-inducing time for antique shop owner Weezie as both her wedding date and her friend BeBe’s delivery date draw near and scandal threatens to erupt.
 A Virgin River Christmas, written by Robyn Carr, tells the story of Marcie, a widow of an Iraq War Marine, who seeks out Ian, the man who originally rescued her husband and returned him to medical care, allowing him three more years to live. She finds Ian to be an emotionally scarred man who she is able to rescue.
 A Wreath of Snow: a Victorian Christmas Novella, is written by Liz Curtis Higgs. In the late 19th century, on a train ride in Scotland, we find Meg Campbell, a schoolteacher, running away from her estranged family’s Christmas celebration. She runs into Gordon Shaw, an equally troubled young man. Can their futures intertwine?
Winter Street: a Novel, is written by Elin Hilderbrand. It is about Kelley Quinn, owner of the Nantucket Winter Street Inn, who plans a holiday celebration with his four children and his second wife Mitzi at the inn. Mayhem erupts when the children bring their romantic problems along with them and his wife is caught in a compromising position with another man.
Our First Christmas is a compilation of four Christmas love stories: Under the Mistletoe by Lisa Jackson, A Ranger for Christmas by Mary Burton, A Southern Christmas by Mary Carter, and Christmas in Montana by Cathy Lamb.
'Twas the Night After Christmas is written by Sabrina Jeffries. The Earl of Devonmont Pierce Waverly and a vicar's widow Camilla Stuart, who also is his estranged mother's paid companion tangle after Camilla lures him home for Christmas by pretending his mother is on her deathbed. What starts as Camilla's good-hearted attempt at reconciliation ends with romance between her and the Earl.
Angels at the Table: a Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy Christmas Story, is written by Debbie Macomber. This is a fantasy in which four angels accidentally cause a chef and a food critic to meet a year before they were destined to meet and marry. The relationship flops, but eventually the angels are able to get things right and get them together again.












Thursday, November 20, 2014


           Written by Canadian author Emma Donoghue, this is a thriller with a twist: it is narrated by Jack, a five-year-old boy. He has lived his entire life with Ma, his mother, in an eleven by eleven foot room in a shed kept locked by Ma’s captor. We see reality through Jack’s eyes through the games he and Ma play together, the chores they perform and the meals they prepare. A fantasy world is viewed on a television set with poor reception. At night, Jack goes to sleep in a cupboard before Old Nick, Ma’s captor, comes to visit.
            We learn that Ma was a college student kidnapped by Old Nick seven years ago. Jack is his child too. Ma has carefully raised Jack, schooling him to read, write, count and add, and providing what physical activities she can in the limited space. But she fears his social and emotional life will be stunted if they continue to be captives. She hatches a plan for them to escape, one that will put Jack at risk. But miraculously he succeeds and he and Ma are both freed.

            The second half of the book describes their adjustment, both physical and psychological, to the outside world. In their former life, there were no boundaries in Jack’s relationship with Ma; he felt as though she was a part of him. In the outside world, he met members of his mother’s family and lived with them while Ma was hospitalized for a psychological breakdown. With his mother’s return to him, Jack expresses his desire to return to Room, to see that it still exists and to say goodbye to it, somewhat in the style of Goodnight Moon, his favorite book. They go there, and then return to their new lives, giving the reader the sense that they will survive and succeed.


Monday, November 10, 2014

What if? : Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

         Here are the answers to all of those science questions you might have, with accurate information that even the novice scientist can understand. Randall Munroe, the author, is a former NASA roboticist and the creator of the webcomic xkcd whose purpose is to provide what this book’s subtitle claims, along with stick figure illustrations.                                                                              
            The author’s approach is to present actual questions from the public, one per chapter, and then provide answers honestly and humorously.
            If you want to know what would happen if you made a periodic table out of cube-shaped bricks, each made of the corresponding element, you might be sorry you asked because the results, if possible, would be fatal.
           Could we wipe out the common cold if each person on earth stayed away from one another for a few weeks? Yes, if everyone had a healthy immune system; however the rhinovirus would find harbor in those people with compromised immune systems and again would infect the healthy after the experiment’s end.

            Some other questions are:
 -- How long could a person live if his/her DNA suddenly vanished?
 -- When will the bandwidth of the Internet surpass that of FedEx?
 -- How quickly could we drain the oceans on Earth and how would the Earth change as we drained the water?
 -- Could we build a LEGO bridge capable of carrying traffic from London to New York?

            For the answers to these questions and more, be sure to read this book!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Decorate Your Space

            Approach home design differently and achieve a unique look. These two books will help you out.

            Flea Market Fabulous: Designing Gorgeous Rooms with Vintage Treasures, is written by Lara Spencer who is a Good Morning America co-anchor, executive producer of the HGTV program Flea Market Flip and previous author of the best-selling I Brake for Yard Sales. Spencer relies heavily on flea market finds and then remakes them with the help of her design team and with professionals who reupholster and refinish the furniture. Full-color photos record the transition from before to after for each of her nine projects. Each assignment begins with inspiration boards, plans, and shopping lists and ends with a sense of accomplishment.

            Elements of Style: Designing a Home and a Life is written by Erin Gates, the author of the blog Elements of Style since 2007. The chapters of the book are divided into the various sections of the home: from entry, living room, kitchen . . . to the closet and outdoor spaces. Gorgeous color photos highlight the decors of her assorted homes over the years, as well as those of her clients. Gates also discusses personal issues such as whether or not to have children, her experiences with anorexia, and more. Reading her book is like having a conversation with a friend. A design resource guide is included.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: a Novel

            Life as a genius isn’t easy all of the time. Geniuses have problems too. Just look at Bee, a fifteen-year-old student at a private school in Seattle. When she aces her report card yet again, Bee reminds her parents that they promised her a family vacation in Antarctica. They agree, begin planning the trip, and then the hilarity starts.

            Bee’s parents also aren’t average. Her father, Elgin Branch, is a star at Microsoft; her mother Bernadette is a once famous Los Angeles architect who suffered a major professional defeat, left the industry, and is now a virtual recluse. After agreeing to the trip, Bernadette realizes that she can’t be among the other tourists for the three-week timespan. She begins to plan ways to opt out of it, sending Bee and Elgin by themselves. Meanwhile, other incidents occur, escalating into major crises. The removal of vines from the Branch’s property results in a mudslide into their neighbor’s yard; this neighbor happens to be the mother of one of Bee’s classmates. Then another class mother who also is employed by Microsoft receives a transfer, becoming Elgin’s administrative assistant. Elgin decides that Bernadette is undergoing a psychotic episode and needs an intervention and a sojourn at the local mental health facility. Bernadette escapes from the intervention and seems to have fallen off of the face of the earth. Bee and Elgin set off in search of her.

            Author Maria Semple, a novelist and television writer for such shows as Arrested Development and Mad about You, presents a satirical, uproarious story told completely through correspondence – personal and business letters, emails, and documents. No group – Seattle residents, Microsoft employees, helicopter parents, and more --  escapes her sarcastic wit. But it’s all in good fun.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

                Share some of the stories presented by these authors; they or their loved ones were diagnosed with breast cancer.
            Promise Me: how a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer, is written by Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, one of the most powerful health charities in the world. Susan is Nancy’s sister and a casualty of breast cancer. Before her death, she made Nancy promise to bring the disease out into the open and help fund a cure. This is the story of how Nancy does this and more. Also featured are the stories of other sufferers, those famous as well as those ordinary.  

            Eating Pomegranates: a Memoir of Mothers, Daughters, and the BRCA Gene, is written by Sarah Gabriel. A journalist by trade, Gabriel’s focus is on her genetic legacy – a mutation on the BRCA1 gene that caused the death of her mother from breast cancer when Sarah was still a teen – and later strikes her with the same disease. She bravely showcases the physical and emotional toll taken by the disease on her and on her family. 

             Most of Me: Surviving my Medical Meltdown, is written by Robyn Michele Levy, who experienced a double whammy – diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer, for which she underwent a double mastectomy. She was able to cope with these two serious diseases through the support of her friends and family and by finding humor in her circumstances and joy in her life.

            Everybody’s Got Something is written by Robin Roberts, well-known newswoman and anchor of Good Morning, America. Five years after achieving remission from breast cancer, Roberts was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare condition that affects blood and bone marrow, and is potentially fatal. Fortunately, Roberts was able to accept a bone marrow transplant from her sister. Her survival also is sustained by the support of her family and friends and by her deep faith and inner strength.

            The Dog Lived (and so Will I): a Memoir, is written by Teresa J. Rhyne. She has a lot of new things in her life, a boyfriend, a beagle, house, and more. But then they discover a lump on her dog Seamus and he is diagnosed with an aggressive, one-year-to-live cancer. She fights his cancer through surgery and chemotherapy. Then Teresa herself is diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, and faces her own struggle. Humor and faith help win the battle for both.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Crafty Ideas

           Crafts are for everybody! Whether you’re an adult or child, female or male, there are many ways that you can express your creativity. Are you looking for ideas? Here are some books to help.
            Just Us Girls: 48 Creative Art & Craft Projects for Mothers & Daughters to Do Together, written by Cindy Ann Ganaden, presents instructions for more than forty earth-centered activities arranged by season, to be enjoyed by all ages. Templates, designs and full-color photos abound.

            Boy Craft: Loads of Things to Make for and with Boys (and Girls), written by Sara Duchars and Sarah Marks, is designed for boys and tomboys. Many of the projects are made from old junk (recyclables). There’s paper craft, stitchery, crafts made from wood, model-making, projects made from yarn, and more. Detailed instructions are accompanied by drawings and color photos to help the crafter.

            Candy Aisle Crafts: Create Fun Projects with Supermarket Sweets, written by Jodi Levine, relies on candies, cookies and cereal for decorative projects to make on your own. They can be for special occasions, holidays, or anytime fun; the color photos show how tempting these crafts can be.
            Friendship Bracelets All Grown Up: Hemp, Floss, and other Boho Chic Designs to Make, written by Suzanne McNeill, shows how to make bracelets out of knotwork using a variety of materials. Clear instructional drawings aid the novice.

            A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space, written by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, the creators of the décor blog A Beautiful Mess. Travelling room-by-room around the house from living room to bedroom to playroom and more, a multitude of color photos, supply lists, and easygoing text make crafting for the home a breeze.
            Felt-o-Ween: 40 Scary-Cute Projects to Celebrate Halloween, written by Kathy Sheldon and Amanda Carestio, features felt, that favorite craft fabric. Make home decorations, clothing accessories, and more! Templates and color photos included.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Culinary Capers: a Collection of Cooking Mysteries

What do the authors of these mysteries have in common? Each writer cooks up a quandary and has the hero resolve it, and then throws in some recipes or bits of food info for good measure. Bon appetit!

            Hark! The Herald Angel Screamed! an Augusta Goodnight Mystery, written by Mignon Franklin Ballard, presents a murder that occurs during pre-Christmas activities. One of the protagonists is a guardian angel; she investigates. Is the murderer a ghost? This is a typical Southern cozy mystery with recipes.

            The Grave Gourmet, written by Alexander Campion, is set in Paris and features police detective Capucine and her food critic husband. The body of an automobile executive is found in a food cooler of a famous French restaurant.

            The Chocolate Book Bandit: a Chocoholic Mystery, written by JoAnna Carl, features chocolate shop owner Lee McKinney Woodyard in an investigation of the murder of a retiring library board member. Chocolate trivia is included.

            The Missing Dough, written by Chris Cavender, is about Eleanor Swift, the owner of the Slice of Delight pizzeria and her efforts to help her sister Maddy after she is implicated in her ex-husband’s death.

            Eggs in a Casket, written by Laura Childs, presents the owners of the Cackleberry Club, a breakfast café, who also are amateur sleuths. In this book, one in a series, they investigate the murder of the town’s prison warden.

            Steamed, written by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant, features Chloe Carter, food connoisseur and expert in failed romances who is known in local chatrooms as GourmetGirl. A blind date with another foodie is spoiled when he ends up stabbed to death.

            Holiday Grind, written by Cleo Coyle, is about amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager and head barista Clare Cosi. Clare discovers one of her customers, a charity Santa Claus, murdered. Information on coffee syrups and holiday recipes are an extra perk.

            A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange: a Mystery with Recipes, written by Isis Crawford, present sisters Bernie and Libby, owners of a catering and bakery business. They are asked to judge a televised Christmas cookie bakeoff. After a contestant is murdered, the remaining contestants do battle with one another. The sisters investigate. Try some of the Christmas cookie recipes given.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September is Happy Cat Month

            Celebrate! Scamper down to the library to pick up one, or all of these books. They’re the cat’s meow!
            Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter is written by Jeanne Adlon, a full-time cat sitter in New York City for over thirty-five years, and Susan Logan, editor of Cat Fancy Magazine. Read Adlon’s charming, funny stories; also, learn about various feline health and safety topics.
            Your Cat: the Owner’s Manual: Hundreds of Secrets, Surprises, and Solutions for Raising a Happy, Healthy Cat, is written by Marty Becker, a veterinarian who has appeared on several television shows. He presents tips on managing behavioral problems, maintaining health, and dealing with illness and old age issues.
            Natural Cat Care is written by Christopher Day, a holistic veterinarian. He highlights daily care (diet and exercise), nutrition, vaccinations, dental care, pest prevention and holistic care (acupuncture, massage, and homeopathy).
            Cats Behaving Badly: Why Cats Do the Naughty Things They Do, is written by Celia Haddon, a cat advice columnist in England. Learn how to manage your cat’s behavior not through punishment but through accommodation.
           The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do - and How to Get Them to Do What You Want, is written by Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a cat behaviorist. Her advice is to follow the C.A.T. Plan: Cease the unwanted cat behavior; Attract the cat to a desirable behavior or location; Transform the territory.
          Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, is written by John Bradshaw, an anthrozoologist who also has written Dog Sense. Here he explains the true nature of the cat, much different than that of the dog, but just as worthy of respect and understanding.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Think Like a Freak: the Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain

            A third book contributing to the Freakonomics concept by co-authors Steven Levitt, a University of Chicago economist and Stephen Dubner, a journalist from the New York Times. Freakonomics is defined as applying economic theory to diverse subjects not usually covered by "traditional" economists. More often, it seems to be influenced by “pop” psychology or sociology topics.

            In this book, Levitt and Dubner encourage their readers to think outside the box; not to base decisions using their pre-conceived beliefs. To do this, be willing to say “I don’t know”. Ask the right questions, not the wrong ones. Work on small problems and not on global ones. Seek out the real root cause of a problem, not just the popular explanation. Quit working on a problem if the amount of energy you put into it exceeds its value. Decide whether offering incentives are a help or hindrance in resolving problems.

            Innumerable anecdotes support the authors’ concepts and add to the reader’s enjoyment.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

One Plus One: a Novel

          Here is a novel that combines the realistic with the romantic. The author is JoJo Moyes, a British writer who is successful in her home country and is gaining recognition in the United States.
         Our heroine is Jess, a single mother with two children, who works many hours as a co-partner for a house cleaning service and also as a barmaid. She has sent her estranged husband, who is unemployed and supposedly in the throes of depression, to live with his mother until his prospects improve. Jess is reluctant to ask him for child support since he cannot support himself. Jess’s stepson Nicky is the victim of bullies. Her daughter Tanzie is a math genius who is offered a scholarship to a prestigious private school but Jess has difficulty making up the final ten percent of fees needed. Despite her problems, Jess has an optimistic outlook on life, believing that something will turn up to solve their problems.

         Then we meet Ed. He is a techie geek who co-founded a software company with his friend; eventually selling it to “the suits” (businessmen) but still working for the company. Ed is a millionaire, although not as wealthy since his ex-wife got a lot of his money in the divorce settlement. Ed also is one of Jess’s house cleaning clients; they do not care for one another.  Things fall apart for Ed when he is charged with giving “insider information” to a romantic partner. An investigation ensues and Ed is asked not to return to work until the enquiry is completed.

         Jess is told that there is a math tournament in Scotland for which Tanzie is eligible, winning one of the prizes could pay towards her schooling. Jess, the children and the dog take off in a dilapidated old car, breaking down on the highway. Charged by the police for driving without insurance, who should come to the rescue but Ed, who in an attempt to avoid his personal problems and a desire to do something to boost his feelings of self-worth, offers to drive them all to Scotland in his car.

         The road trip that follows, and the events beyond it, are at turns hysterical and serious.  The characters in this book are fully fleshed out and encourage the reader to care about each one. Comedy and pathos combine, yet things work out in the end; making for an enjoyable reading experience.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Brooklyn: a Novel

           Both a coming-of-age novel and an immigrant’s tale, Brooklyn: a Novel, written by Colm Toibin, tells the story of Eilis, a young Irish woman who is intelligent yet inexperienced in the ways of the world. We meet Eilis first in Enniscorthy, Ireland, during the early 1950s, where she lives with her widowed mother and her outgoing elder sister Rose. Jobs are hard to find in Ireland; Eilis’ brothers have left the country to work in England. Rose contacts Father Flood, an Irish priest working in Brooklyn and arrangements are made for Eilis to get a job there. The author portrays Eilis as a submissive daughter and sister, afraid to leave her home for the unknown yet willing to do so because it is expected of her.

            As Eilis embarks on her journey across the ocean to her new life in Brooklyn, she rides a roller coaster of new experiences that include independence, adjustment to a new culture, and romance. She meets Tony who comes from a warm Italian family, much different from her own. She attends Brooklyn College, earns a certificate in bookkeeping and obtains the promise of a bookkeeping position from her current employer. Her life is going well; then, tragedy strikes. Eilis is notified that her sister Rose has died. At first bereft and then guilt-ridden when her brother sends a letter urging her to go to Ireland to look after their mother, Eilis and Tony confer and together decide that she will visit her mother for a short while and then return to Brooklyn to Tony and her new life. Tony insists that Eilis marry him in a civil ceremony before leaving for Ireland, to be followed by a church wedding when she returns.

            Once in Ireland, Eilis falls into a routine of caring for her mother, meeting up with friends and garnering the interest of a young man who she previously thought to be ill-mannered. Also, she is offered a job at the company where Rose worked. Never having told her mother that she was going with a young man in Brooklyn, Eilis is unable to tell her that she has married. It looks as though she could settle into life in Ireland again, although it would be a deceitful choice. But then a chance encounter with an old employer shocks Eilis into honesty, confessing to her mother about Tony and beginning her journey back home the next day.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Spruce Up Your Fall Wardrobe Now

With school beginning in September, and autumn weather arriving soon after, this is the ideal time to update your wardrobe. Here are some books to help.

            Lawrence Zarian’s Ten Commandments for a Perfect Wardrobe is written by Zarian, who is a fashion advisor to celebrities and a television personality in his own right. He takes the reader through his personal struggles in weight control and self-image, then details the before-and-after stories of celebrity makeovers, including photos.

Style Bible: What to Wear to Work is written by Lauren Rothman, a fashion/style expert featured in various magazines and television shows. She helps both men and women discover the best work wardrobes for themselves according to their industry, city and gender. Shopping tips for both in-store and in-closet are presented.

Magical Fashionista: Dress for the Life You Want is written by Tess Whitehurst, an intuitive worker and energy counselor. She relies on the use of Western and Chinese astrology, Feng Shui, psychology and more to help the reader discover her true essence and express it through wardrobe and accessories.

Style and the Successful Girl: Transform Your Look, Transform Your Life is written by Gretta Monahan, a businesswoman who owns several boutiques and spas, and is Rachael Ray’s go-to fashion/style expert. Photos, stories, and sidebars assist the reader in dressing for success.

Wear this now: Your Style Solution for every Season and any Occasion is written by Michelle Madhok, an online shopping and style expert who is the founder and CEO of  Shefinds Media. Design advice and shopping tips abound in this book!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Elizabeth is Missing

     Fiction with a shot of mystery, this is author Emma Healey’s first book and it features an unlikely protagonist, Maud, who is an eighty-something British woman diagnosed with dementia. Still living on her own at home, with much supervision by her daughter Helen and a series of caretakers, Maud manages to get around and into things, relying on notes to herself and her increasingly faulty memory. 
   Currently, Maud is fixated on the idea that her friend Elizabeth is missing. She constantly tells Helen about this, she makes several visits to the police station to report on it, forgetting each time her previous visits, and she suspects that Elizabeth’s son Peter has in some way mistreated her and caused her disappearance. But this is not the first time someone has vanished from Maud’s life. Shortly after the end of World War II, her married sister Sukey disappeared and was never found, despite the family’s efforts.
   The reader follows the two different stories, one current-day and one in 1946, seeing how Maud’s memories and actions combine to solve these two mysteries. The relationship between Maud and Helen is sensitively drawn and all of the characters are three-dimensional. While there are no happy endings, the reader roots for Maude and her determination.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dog Days: Books about Canines

            Here are some recently published books about “man’s best friend”. Learn what makes them tick and how to ensure their health and safety.

How Dogs Love Us: a Neuroscientist and his Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain, written by Gregory Berns. He is a medical doctor who has used MRI imaging technology to research how the human brain works; in this book he describes his experiments using MRI to study the canine brain.
Medicine Dog: the Miraculous Cure that Healed My Best Friend and Saved My Life is written by Julia Szabo, a journalist who writes on pet topics. When her dog Sam suffered from severe osteoarthritis, Julia researched and found a medical technique called Vet-Stem that uses the dog’s own stem cells to regenerate the joints. Since Szabo was a lifelong sufferer of chronic inflammatory bowel disease, she decided to see if the same technique could help her own medical condition. She found a physician who cured her perirectal fistula with stem cells.

The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel: Best Destinations, Hotels, Events, and Advice to Please Your Pet – and You is written by Kelly E. Carter and published by National Geographic. Divided into chapters covering the different regions of the U.S. and Canada, each consists of listings that include descriptions of hotels, services and activities designed for dogs. Attractive color photos add to the reading experience.

Canine Cuisine
Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dog: the Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals is written by Lew Olson, a raiser of dogs and American Kennel Club judge. From covering canine nutritional needs, to feeding your dog through all stages of life, to remedial diets made simple, this book covers it all.
The book Dog-Gone Good Cuisine: More Healthy, Fast, and Easy Recipes for You and Your Pooch is written by Gayle Pruitt, who also has written The Dog-Gone Good Cookbook. The recipes are designed for both canines and humans and cover breakfasts through dinners as well as desserts and juices. Recipes are accompanied by color photos of rescue dogs.

Paleo Dog: Give Your Best Friend a Long Life, Healthy Weight, and Freedom from Illness by Nurturing His Inner Wolf is written by Jean Hofve, DVM. She explains what the healthy canine diet should be and presents some recipes exemplifying this. Other canine health topics are discussed too.




Friday, July 18, 2014

Destiny of the Republic: a Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President

     Today’s society doesn’t know much about James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States. He was in office for only a few months before dying as a result of an assassination attempt. But this well-written, factually dense book, written by Candice Miller, introduces us to a noble individual, one who is erudite yet a man of the people. Born into poverty, Garfield managed to obtain a college education and then went on to become a major general during the Civil War and later a member of the House of Representatives and a senator. Drafted as the Republican Party compromise nominee for president in 1880, Garfield won handily. Some of the goals of his administration were civil rights for African Americans, civil service and post office reform, and universal education.

     However, a successful term for Garfield was not to be. He was stalked by and eventually shot by Charles J. Guiteau, a psychologically unbalanced rejected Federal Office seeker who had delusions that Garfield was causing harm to the country and had to be removed. 

     After Garfield was shot, Dr. Bliss took ascendancy over other physicians in the care of the President. Unfortunately, even though the wound wasn’t as serious as originally thought, not all American physicians used sterile practices, including Dr. Bliss. Garfield eventually succumbed to blood poisoning and a fatal heart attack. Tragically, even although his vice-president and successor, Chester A. Arthur, managed to push through some of Garfield’s planned reforms, a promising presidency was cut short.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time

  Brigid Schulte, a journalist for the Washington Post and a wife and mother, has undertaken a comprehensive investigation of modern-day life and its dearth of leisure time. Primarily focusing on working parents, especially mothers, Schulte relies on a large quantity of studies and interviews with sociologists, neuroscientists and working parents to interpret how American society has arrived at this non-stop way of life. She also compares our work, nurturance and play habits with those from other cultures so that we can observe some of their more sensible ways to manage time.

  Schulte offers advice on how spouses can equally share responsibility for children and home through paid maternal and paternal child care leave, staggered work schedules, working from home, and more.

  Schulte finds that the American “ideal worker” myth and multitasking as a life ideal is keeping us from reaching our true potential. Only with meaningful “play” experiences can we expand our creative potential and make life worth living.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Enjoy Yourself When You Travel Locally

Even if you can’t afford the time or money to travel to different parts of the country or the world, there are lots of things to do when you go local. Here are some books to help you plan.

Day Trips from New York City: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler, written by Shandana A. Durrani, offers itineraries and recommendations for twenty-five trips in all directions from the city. Included are spooky Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, Gold Coast treasures of Long Island, Cape May and the wildwoods of New Jersey, coastal Greenwich and New Haven, Connecticut, and much more. Find out where to go, eat, shop, and stay (for overnighters).

Not the Met: Exploring the Smaller Museums of Manhattan, written by Janel Halpern and Harvey Appelbaum, explores the more than seventy-five museums located in all sections of Manhattan. Color photos of the museum buildings and some of their typical exhibits accompany the text detailing the collections and origins of each museum, along with location and transit directions, and hours and admission fees.

New York: a Mod Portrait of the City, written by Zdenek Mahler and illustrated by Vladimir Fuka, is a picture book for adults, originally published in 1964. Charming drawings and collages are accompanied by spirited, humorous text depicting the various sights and activities of Manhattan.

Food Lovers’ Guide to Long Island: the Best Restaurants, Markets and Local Culinary Offerings, is written by Peter M. Gianotti, a restaurant critic for Newsday. He presents descriptions and ratings of what he considers the best of Nassau and Suffolk counties’ restaurants including its foodie faves and landmarks, and specialty stores, markets and shops. Each chapter features a different town. Information on wineries and breweries also is given.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Help with Home Repair

How to Fix Absolutely Anything: a Homeowner’s Guide is edited by Nicole Smith.  Don’t want to spend your hard-earned money calling in expensive professionals to do basic home and other repairs? Learn to do them yourself: such jobs as installing a toilet, repairing a hole in the wall, mending a broken windshield, fixing a damaged zipper, and more.

Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update, and Show Your Home Some Love is written by Sherry and John Petersik. They are bloggers who have renovated two homes since 2007. In this book they present over 240 projects, tips and techniques for the reader’s use, no matter what their ability. Over 400 photos and other illustrations accompany the text.

How Your House Works: a Visual Guide to Understanding and Maintaining Your Home, Second Edition is written by Charles Wing. Complete illustrations assist the average homeowner in comprehending the typical home’s systems: including plumbing, wiring, heating, cooling, air quality, appliances, windows and doors and the foundation and frame.

The Complete Photo Guide to Coastal Maintenance: Adapt Your Home to the Coastal Environmental is written by Wayne Higson. Through the author’s experiences owning a home on the Atlantic Coast, he has been confronted by problems from salt-air and spray, humidity, wind-driven rain, nor’easters, tropical storms and hurricanes. He has found solutions, and products, that could reduce home maintenance and repair bills while protecting and maintaining the exterior and interior of the home, and offers these here to the reader.

Ultimate Guide: Home Repair and Improvement is a Creative Homeowner publication. Easy-to-understand text and an abundance of photos and illustrations assist the reader in completing over 300 projects dealing with masonry, plumbing, insulation, flooring, trimwork, siding, roofing, and windows.




Friday, May 23, 2014

May is Older Americans Month

Here are some current books to help make the best of your senior years.

Living Safely, Aging Well: a Guide to Preventing Injuries at Home is written by Dorothy A. Drago. As we age, we become more susceptible to accidents in the home and elsewhere. The author describes the hazards – falls, burns, poisoning, asphyxia and accidents (driving and others) and suggests ways to eliminate or minimize them.

Creating a Happy Retirement: a Workbook for Planning the Life You Want is written by Ronald W. Richardson. Not a book on how to manage retirement financially, the author instead presents exercises and forms to be completed to help the reader decide if he should retire, what activities and interests to pursue, and whether to relocate or stay put.

Learning to be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging is written by Margaret Cruikshank. This new edition describes the social roles of the aged, and how experiences differ between elderly men and women and between the elderly in different socioeconomic groups. Current Information on the health care system also is given.

Reboot Your Brain: a Natural Approach to Fighting Memory Loss, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Brain Aging, and More is written by Gary Null. The author recommends a combination of diet, exercise, lifestyle modifications, and nutritional supplements to reestablish maximum mental health. The recommended diet is vegan and low-fat and also excludes refined sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.

A Guide to Elder Planning: Everything You Need to Know to Protect Your Loved Ones and Yourself is written by Steve Weisman. He is an eldercare attorney with his own nationally syndicated radio show on this topic. The book (second edition) reviews all of the financial, legal and personal issues faced by older people and their families. This includes power of attorney, estate planning, financial investments, alternative housing, long-term care, social security, and much more.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Future of the Mind: the Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

     Michio Kaku is a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, author of several books about physics for the general reader, and host of a variety of television specials on scientific topics. In this book he writes about the human mind; including its past and present - how it developed as we evolved from the apes, what consciousness is – and what we can expect from the mind in the future.

     Some of the possibilities include what we thought only was possible in science fiction: telepathy, telekinesis, creating memories, and increasing intelligence. Then there are those dealing with altered consciousness: entering other people’s dreams, curing mental illnesses, developing silicon (robotic) minds, the possible design(s) of alien minds, uploading our minds to computers, the mind's evolution to being pure energy, and more.

     Work is ongoing to map all areas of the human brain; the first step towards all of these developments. Kaku’s enthusiasm and optimism is contagious, yet he isn’t afraid to address controversial topics. The narrative is written so as to be accessible to the lay reader.

Friday, May 9, 2014

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Develop your body and your mind, and maybe have fun, when you participate in National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. The following books can guide you.

8 Weeks to SEALFIT: a Navy SEAL’s Guide to Unconventional Training for Physical and Mental Toughness is written by Mark Divine, a retired Navy SEAL commander and current owner of SEALFIT Training Center in California. Divine has developed a program that blends Ashtanga Yoga, Navy SEAL regimens, CrossFit training, endurance sports and some forms of martial arts. He also emphasizes teamwork, mental and physical preparation, and proper nutrition practices.

Chris Powell’s Choose More, Lose More for Life is written by Chris Powell, a celebrity trainer from the first two seasons of the television show Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition. Here he encourages the learner to go beyond the weight loss plateau by offering more than thirty new exercise routines (with photos), information on carb cycling, recipes, and more.

Body by Simone: the 8-Week Total Body Makeover Plan is written by Simone de la Rue, a former professional dancer and a personal trainer for many Hollywood celebrities. Her plan can be modified for all levels of ability; the exercises include those from Pilates, bar method, strength training, and cardio dance moves. Recommended is a beginning 7-day body cleanse developed by a holistic doctor; the recipes for its simple meals, juices and smoothies are included.

Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover is written by Mandy Ingber, a fitness and wellness advisor for Hollywood celebrities. The book includes a 28-day plan to improve the reader’s physical and psychological health; it is a companion to her popular DVD Yogalosophy. Included are a number of workouts based on yoga and other exercise techniques, and several recipes for healthy meals.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Planning Your Next Getaway

     It’s time to start planning your next vacation – either for real or in your imagination. Here are some titles to help you make your plans.
     Fodor’s 2014 Walt Disney World gives you the latest scoop on Disney World, Universal Orlando, Sea World and Discovery Cove, The Space Coast, International Drive, and more. Descriptions, recommendations, color photos and maps make this the go-to resource for Orlando.

     Ears of Steel: the Real Man’s Guide to Walt Disney World, written by Bart Scott, gives a humorous take on the sights, sounds and tastes that are especially appealing to the adult male Walt Disney World visitor. You’ll find lots of humor here but no color photos or maps.
     Birnbaum Guides 2014 Disneyland Resort offers first-hand recommendations for the California Walt Disney destination. Visit both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, choose the best accommodations and meals for your pocketbook, and find out what other tourist attractions are in the area.

     Around the World in 500 Festivals: the World’s Most Spectacular Celebration, written by Steve Davey, presents the highlights of festivals worldwide. Arranged by continent/country and subject, each festival listing includes a brief description and date of occurrence. Large color photos accompany the text.

     Don’t settle for visiting tourist traps while on vacation. Get some ideas from Where the Locals Go: More than 300 Places around the World to Eat, Play, Shop, Celebrate, and Relax. Join the National Geographic Travel Team as they present tips and insider information, along with attractive color photos.
     Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Adventures from the World’s Leading Travel Authority offers the reader ideas for adventure vacations from around the world. With such chapter headings as “Mountain Quests”, “Most Excellent Equine Escapades”, “Eye-Catching Atmospheric Extravaganzas” and more, any one of these trips will make for a memorable experience.