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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Review: Fair and Tender Ladies

Fair and Tender Ladies Book Title: Fair and Tender Ladies

Author: Lee Smith

Review: I picked up this book because NoveList said it was a "read-alike" for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which my sister and I had read aloud to each other during a long road trip from Michigan to New Jersey. We enjoyed it, and as we were planning another long trip - Michigan to Virginia, I was looking for something similar. We ended up NOT reading it on this trip, but I was caught up in it after reading the first few pages, and decided to read it myself. I'm mentioning this because this is not the type of book I would normally pick up. I am more a mystery, thriller, action lover. This was none of those, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

It is the story of Ivy Rowe, told completely through the letters she writes to friends and relatives. It begins when she is a child growing up in the Appalachian Mountain region of Virginia at the turn of the century and ends just before her death around the 1970s. Her letters narrate the story of her life - her loves, family, travels, disappointments, failings and triumphs - and times - how strip mining effected the land and the people, the coming of electricity, telephones and TV, young people leaving for a better life...

In the beginning, Ivy writes with a strong rural, down-home dialect, but through the story she grows into an articulate woman. It is so gradual and well-written, that you don't even notice it - until you do.

This was a beautiful story.

Reviewed by: Lynn D.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Book Review: Ask Again Later

Ask Again Later Book Title: Ask Again Later

Author: Liz Czukas

Review: Being a teenager in high school is a rough time, especially around prom season. There's the drama of finding a date or who's going to ask who and then which group do we go with? Then there's the struggle of finding the perfect dress, buying tickets, hair and nail appointments and everything else in between. Take all of that drama and add on the bonus of having your name being Heart and you have the story of Heart LaCoeur's prom drama.
Heart LaCoeur is a theatre loving teenage girl who has the rule of no dating since her mom left her and her brother behind when they were babies. Since she doesn't date she isn't planning on a date to prom, she instead is going with the "The No Drama Prom-a" group, a group of her theatre friends. But all that changes when at rehearsal stage crew techie Ryan asks her to prom AND THEN her brother sets her up with his newly dumped and sad friend Troy. Two dates and one prom. Who should she choose? Close friend Schroeder, her nickname for Chase, tells her to flip a coin, whoever wins is the prom date. As she flips the coin the rest of the story follows the head versus tails prom date and how each night would play out differently. The night with Troy and his jock drinking friends or with Ryan and his hidden secret. And for some reason Schroeder and the group keep coming up.
Czukas keeps the plot interesting by having the two different stories going on and flipping each chapter. Yet sometimes the events that happen in one chapter appear in the other but a different way or point of view. This flip flop chapters is also found in her other novel Flipped which is a great young adult read as well. This prom drama novel is a cute and funny story and an easy read for a young adult.

Reviewed by: Melissa S.

Find Ask Again Later in our catalog.

(Note: Adults who participated in Summer Reading and submitted an original review of one of the books they read were entered into a special prize drawing.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book Review: Other Voices, Other Rooms

Other Voices, Other Rooms Book Title: Other Voices, Other Rooms

Author: Truman Capote

Review: At age 24 Truman Capote had already began to achieve some fame. He had published an earlier works that led to his recognition as a new American voice and a Southern writer in the tradition of Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner. Benet Cerf from Random House provided an advance to produce a novel and the result was Other Voices, Other Rooms, a semi-autobiographical reflection on Capote’s Alabama childhood. Does this book still speak to us today 67 years after publication? Do people still struggle to form meaningful identity and find self-acceptance? A simple answer is yes.
The book opens on 13-year-old Joel Knox. Following the death of his mother, Joel is sent from New Orleans to live with his father who had abandoned him at birth. His father lives at Skully's Landing, a decaying mansion in very rural Alabama.
Here is Capote’s description of Joel’ sitting in the mansion’s kitchen: “The fire had waned to ashes, and, while the old broken clock ticked like an invalid heart, the sunspots on the floor spread and darkened; the shadows of the fig leaves trellising the walls swelled to an enormous quivering shape, like the crystal flesh of a jellyfish. Flies skittered along the table, rubbing their restless hair-feet, and zoomed and sang around Joel’s ears.”
By books end, Joel finds his destiny, and comes to accept his outsider status. He will always hear other voices and live in other rooms, to be both outside of society and to be liberated from its demands. He can say, "I am me" and be at peace with his own identity. How this happens is the core of a book still worth reading today.

Reviewed by: Ken R.

Find Other Voices, Other Rooms in our catalog.

(Note: Adults who participated in Summer Reading and submitted an original review of one of the books they read were entered into a special prize drawing.

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Book Review: Honolulu

A Bell for Adano Book Title: Honolulu

Author: Alan Brennert

Review: A young Korean girl is born and is named Regret because her parents regret that she is a girl and not a boy. She wants to go to school but that is not what girls in Korea can do at the turn of the 20th century. She decides to become a "picture bride" and immigrates to Honolulu. The book follows her and the other "picture brides" as they find their way in the rough United States Territory of Hawaii.
I really enjoyed the story of the "picture brides" and the early history of Honolulu. Honolulu is an enjoyable and informative read.

Reviewed by: Pamela D.

Find Honolulu in our catalog.

(Note: Adults who participated in Summer Reading and submitted an original review of one of the books they read were entered into a special prize drawing.

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer Reading Adult Book Review: A Bell for Adano

A Bell for Adano Book Title: A Bell for Adano

Author: John Hersey

Review: During World War II The Council on Books in Wartime created a list of books marked as imperative. According to Molly Guptill Manning in When Books Went to War, these books were “deemed extraordinary, that clarified why the country was at war, what values were at stake and under what terms the war should end”. Of these imperative books A Bell for Adano was the only fiction novel to be so honored.
The story follows the exploits of Major Victor Joppolo as he takes leadership of the Italian town of Adano, which had recently been captured by American Military forces. In his first interview with prominent town’s people Joppolo learns the citizens believe that replacing their town’s bell, which was taken for the purpose of making weapons, is of the utmost importance. The citizens believe the bell is part of the town’s identity and the heart of Adano. As told in the preface, Joppolo’s work represents the “best of possibilities” as he works to solve various town problems that arise, while working with his superiors, other branches of the military and dealing with interpersonal relationships. All the while Joppolo continued promoting democracy, eliminating fascist expectations of leaders, and trying to replace the town bell.
The novel is 269 pages, excluding the preface; it contains numerous chapters allowing for easier division of reading. For a book given such importance, the prose is a bit basic. For example when two characters speak with one another there is little change in the lines. The prose simply repeat character A said, character B said and continue without variance thought the conversation. That notwithstanding, A Bell for Adano has an interesting story that is on the quicker side of reading.

Reviewed by: Mo R.

Find A Bell for Adano in our catalog.

(Note: Adults who participated in Summer Reading and submitted an original review of one of the books they read were entered into a special prize drawing. The winner will be notified soon!)

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer Reading Adult Book Review: Bittersweet

Bittersweet Book Title: Bittersweet

Author: Colleen McCullough

Review: The story takes place in the 1920s in New South Wales. The book is about 2 sets of twins, the well educated and beautiful Latimer sisters. In a time where medicine and even education was only for men, the Latimer sisters break through the barriers and train to be nurses. All have different goals in life, but the training will be their stepping stone to their life ambitions. All four women have "their special dream" but soon find out life doesn't always go according to their plans.
This book is from the author of Thorn Birds. The plot has many twists and turns and you can't help but like and admire all four women who are unique in their personality's even if they look like each other. The Latimer sisters were way ahead of their time with what they accomplished in their careers and personal lives.
Sit back and enjoy this well written book.

Reviewed by: Carol S.

Find Bittersweet in our catalog.

(Note: Adults who participated in Summer Reading and submitted an original review of one of the books they read were entered into a special prize drawing. The winner will be notified soon!)

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer Reading Adult Book Review: This Time Together

This Time Together Book Title: This Time Together

Author: Carol Burnett

Review: This book is a great summer read, it can be read in one sitting. The chapters are short and tell a short story of pieces of her life and the people she has met along the way. Each chapter gives the reader insight of the woman behind the talented TV person. She gives the reader a glimpse of her humor and sorrow, her personal life and her public life. For anyone who either enjoyed watching the Carol Burnett show or have seen her in the handful of movies she did this book will be enjoyed. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Carol S.

Find This Time Together in our catalog.

(Note: Adults who participated in Summer Reading and submitted an original review of one of the books they read were entered into a special prize drawing. The winner will be notified soon!)

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