Posted by Erin on 08.08.2011 at 5:20 pm
3 Comments » | Tagged Book Reviews, From our Friends
Posted by Dana on 07.12.2010 at 11:45 am
When the first thing a narrator tells you is that she lies you know you’re in for some odd twists and turns. So begins THE LACE READER by Brunonia Barry; the story of the prophetic Towner Whitney who returns to her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts when the great aunt who helped raised her disappears.
Towner, a self described liar and crazy woman had vowed never to return to Salem after witnessing the suicide of her twin sister as a teen. Following the tragedy she spent time in a mental institution complete with electro-shock therapy that has left her memory of the incident and her teenage years spotty at best.
Back in Salem, Towner stumbles through the returning memories of her past and into some present day craziness between her Great Aunt Eva’s disappearance and the disappearance of a young pregnant girl Towner meets on her first day back in town. Both situations seem somehow tied to the creepy uncle, Cal Boynton who helped raised Towner’s twin.
Are you confused yet? The Whitney family relationships are maybe a bit unnecessarily complex, or are they? Remember, our narrator is both crazy and a liar.
Now… on to the witches. I said Salem, Massachusetts…you knew they were coming, didn’t you? There are witches in the book, though not in a goofy Bewitched kind of way. There is a clear religion vs. spirituality theme running throughout the book along with some psychic stuff (i.e. the lace reading) and host of characters who either embrace or deny these philosophies for various reasons.
Perception vs. reality also plays a huge part in the book. The very act of reading lace has everything to do with how you look at it and who is on the other side. Each character in the book is written with purpose and with quirks that I think would make for some good book club discussion. Take the missing Aunt Eva for example, she is a strong defiant woman who embraces her gift of lace reading, holds the family and the town together in many ways and speaks in clichés. Then there’s Rafferty, the possible love interest for Towner, who is a local police officer, a former alcoholic and a single dad. And May, Towner’s mother, is a gun-toting recluse who has revived the art of lace making while rescuing battered women.
The book is complex, and though you may realize a plot twist is coming, you’re not really sure what it’s going to be, which to me is masterful. I mean, don’t you hate when you’re reading (or sitting in a movie) and you’re like “Oh – okay, I know what’s happening here… that guy is already dead…” (or whatever).
I think the beauty of a book like THE LACE READER is that you could read it on the beach for the story alone, OR you could really dive in and discuss and debate the characters and themes. For me, the beauty is also that I’ve found an author that I’d be happy to read again. And the good news is her next book THE MAP OF TRUE PLACES just came out!
– Dana Barrett, Editor
Posted by Dana on 04.07.2010 at 11:11 am
Veuve Clicquot champagne is a recognizable symbol of status and luxury with its unmistakable bright yellow label, but the widow (the word veuve is French for widow) for whom it is named has become a shadowy figure in history about whom very little is known.
Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin was widowed at 27 years old in the early 1800s in the Champagne region in France. After her husband’s death Barbe-Nicole took what was a small family wine business and turned it into one of the world’s most well known and successful champagne houses.
If the art of wine making or the intricacies of business or even French history are among your interests, this story of one of the earliest successful businesswomen is not to be missed. In THE WIDOW CLICQUOT, Tilar J. Mazzeo thoroughly examines the period, the business and the wine making and certainly as much of Barbe-Nicole’s personal life as she was able to recover. Read more…
Posted by admin on 08.11.2009 at 1:06 pm
He was an ultra-successful door-to-door salesman for Aga stoves. He was an Oxford dropout. He was a chef in a famous French kitchen. He was a spy during WWII. He was a researcher with George Gallup. He was a farmer and an expert on Amish life. He was an advertising legend. He was David Ogilvy.
In his new biography, The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising, author Ken Roman details the life and times of one of the most interesting, eccentric, and brilliant minds of the 20th century.
Roman, a former colleague of Ogilvy’s and one-time CEO of the firm Ogilvy & Mather, gives readers an inside look at David Ogilvy, advertising genius and creator of some of the most well known advertising campaigns in history. The Rolls Royce tagline Ogilvy wrote in 1958 is still considered by many advertising experts to be the greatest tagline of all time: “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise comes from the electric clock.” Roman details this and many more of Ogilvy’s advertising exploits, but these stories are only a prelude to the heart of this book, which is all business. Read more…
Posted by admin on 06.26.2009 at 6:47 am
As an avid reader and frequent list maker, I adore books about books (mmmm, Book Lust). If you are looking for a reference for yourself or a gift for a well read friend, I suggest Between the Covers, The Book Babes’ Guide to a Woman’s Reading Pleasures.
Between the Covers, The Book Babes’ Guide to a Woman’s Reading Pleasures, will satisfy your reading urges in a most pleasing manner, providing well researched and well written recommendations for your every mood and need. Whether you want to “Make Peace with Mom,” “Save the Planet,” or “Get Involved” you’ll find a book that feels as if it had been hand picked for you. Halfway through the book, and over half a deck of post its later, I stopped marking each must read and decided to always keep this book nearby.
– Jozi Hall, BWB Aquisitions & Guest Reviewer
Posted by admin on 05.13.2009 at 8:11 am
Before a recent trip to Savannah, Georgia, I was asked the same question each time I mentioned the city: “Have you read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?” I wondered why so many people found this book to be synonymous with Savannah and decided I’d better check it out.
The author, John Berendt, explains how he came to Savannah on a whim in the 1980s and became fascinated with the city and people he met. He recounts the decade-long murder trial of wealthy antique dealer Jim Williams, weaving the lives of his circle of friends and enemies into the storyline. It’s easy to forget that the book is based on actual events as the eccentric characters blend with a suspenseful murder mystery and make it read like fiction.
Posted by admin on 03.02.2009 at 8:04 am
Natural talent: We hear the phrase spoken often about composers like Mozart, computer programmers like Bill Joy, software geniuses like Bill Gates, and musical groups like the Beatles. We cannot all expect to be as successful as the Beatles or Mozart because we were not born with their natural talent. Or at least so go the musings from the peanut gallery of the less-than-successful.
In his latest book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of The Tipping Point and Blink, shatters many popular notions about success and proves again why he is one of the most interesting, intelligent, and talented writers of our time. Gladwell’s book helps readers understand what an outlier is-a value, observation, event, etc. that is numerically distant from the rest of the data -and why outliers matter.
In Outliers we get what business books should really be like; part psychology book, part business book, part history book, part sociology book, and part anthropology book. You don’t have to worry about going cross-eyed from reading too many business buzz words or meaningless platitudes. Outliers is chock full of amazing, interesting, and educational lessons about opportunity, success, and failure. Read more…
Posted by Chip on 02.11.2009 at 7:58 am
One book, I currently see from time to time, is entitled Blink. Blink examines the value of a quick decision. One of the studies Blink discusses involves showing a group of people short clips of teachers giving a lecture (with no audio). Another group is shown still photos of the same teachers from the clips. Both groups are asked to rank the teaching ability of the teachers based on either the photo or the silent 30 second clip.
The results showed the ratings each teacher received based on photos and clips were remarkably similar to the ratings the same professors received from their full time students after a semester of teaching. From what I have read so far, Blink supports the notion that a quick decision is often an educated decision. Although I feel this study simply illustrates our species loyalty to superficial conclusions.
Some people have a natural fear of snakes and others have a natural fear of spiders. These fears make sense considering the problems our
species has experienced over the centuries do to both species. Perhaps these fears are based on the same instinctual knowledge that
allows us to make smart quick decisions.
The human brain is the product of years of learning things the only way us humans truly learn anything…the hard way.
I discovered my fear of electricity by touching an electric fence. Twenty minutes later I discovered that it is impossible to touch a electric fence
twice. My curiosity made me want to “make sure it was an electric fence” but my brain would not allow my hand to make contact.
Just as I learned not to touch the fence again perhaps the human race has learned from collective experience and perhaps there is something to that gut feeling that helps us make life’s quick decisions. Although I have only read the fist 50 pages of Blink, I feel I am able to review the book with confidence using the “blink of an eye” decision making the book examines.
1 Comment » | Tagged Book Reviews, Flabbergasted, Blink, chip boyes, Malcom Gladwell
Posted by Dana on 12.18.2008 at 12:01 pm
You’re either thinking to yourself…”Wow, she’s the last female on earth to read this book,” or “Are grown-ups really reading this stuff?” or maybe “Why didn’t she just go and see the movie?” All legitimate questions I assure you. Here are my answers (or maybe excuses). I got this one right off my teenage daughter’s bookshelf, (where I will also be going to get the rest of the series – now that I’m hooked). I’m a procrastinator by nature, so I think that’s why I waited until now to read it. Having heard about the book from not only my daughter, but two of my girlfriends, one in her 30s and the other over 50, I knew I had to see what the buzz was about. So there, that answers the “are grown-ups reading this?” question. I’m also kind of a stickler for reading the book before I see the movie, which I have not seen yet. So that answers that question.
Now you want to know if you should read it, right? You should. If for no other reason than to know what kids today are up to–not that they’re hanging out with vampires, but you know what I mean. The book is long, at almost 500 pages, but like Harry Potter it’s a fast read. I’m not saying this is the most literary book you’ll ever read but it is fun. Stephenie Meyer’s take on the vampires is a new slant with some good and some not so good. Her writing is very visual so you can really picture the characters and the locations. She also has a very good grasp on Bella the teenage girl that is the main character. The book is written in the first person and for the most part Bella is believable. She experiences the kind of devastating fully committed love in that special way teenagers do.
There is also a great baseball scene in the book that reminded me of the Quidditch matches in Harry Potter and that I am very much looking forward to seeing in the movie.
If you’re worried about it being gory or too much for your teenager or pre-teen, I wouldn’t worry about it. There’s very little violence in the book and surprisingly very little blood.
There’s some good set up in the story for book two, New Moon – so if you like this one, which I think you will, you’ll most likely have to read on.
5 Comments » | Tagged Book Reviews, harry potter, Stephenie Meyer, Twilight, Vampires
Posted by King on 12.15.2008 at 10:36 am
Inherit the Land, by Gene Stowe (non-fiction)
Last month marked a historic time in our nation as we elected our first black president. It was amazing to see the emotion on children’s faces truly filled with hope, that anyone could become president someday.
As we celebrate this important moment in our history, it is important to remember the victories that occurred along this long road to breaking down racial barriers.
Gene Stowe’s Inherit the land tells of the south in the early 1900’s, when it was common place for white mobs to ignore the laws of the land and routinely beat and torture blacks. Yes, slavery was over, but white America was far from accepting blacks as their equals.
Stowe’s book tells of the Ross Sisters, white women who dared to be different, showing everyone love and compassion, regardless of skin color. They took a black family in with them and lived with them like one family. When the last Ross sister passed away in 1920, they left their entire estate to the black family that had been living with them. This decision outraged the local community, and several of the Ross’ cousins came forth to file lawsuit against the will.
Amazingly enough, the will was upheld, showing that even in these dark times, there was hope for a brighter future.
Inherit the land is a great read, a good tribute to the heroes that have been fighting civil right battles in America years ago that helped pave the way to our historic election this year.
1 Comment » | Tagged Book Reviews, gene stowe, inherit the land
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