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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.