Friday, March 21, 2014

What We're Reading... It starts with "Death"

 “Death of Santini” by Pat Conroy (813.54 Conroy)
Death of Santini
by Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy delves into his dysfunctional family life once again. His father, Don Conroy, was a Marine pilot used to command; on the home front, fists were his weapons and family members the battlefield. As the oldest, Pat took on the role of protecting his mother and siblings from his father’s anger. The parents divorced after a traumatic 33 years and his father became a different person, devoted to his grandchildren.  
 I really enjoyed Conroy’s fictional forays based on his family (“Great Santini”, “Beach Music” and “Prince of Tides”); the movie version of “Great Santini” with Robert Duvall in the title role is unforgettable.  He obviously loves words, but I thought the memoir lacked focus and Don Conroy’s about-face seemed  made for a television movie than reality.

Death on Demand
by Paul Thomas
"Death on demand” by Paul Thomas (M THOMAS)

Scene of crime is New Zealand: a man with a wandering eye decides life would be easier without his successful wife-and then she dies.   Maori detective Tito Ihaka thinks it’s murder, but his superiors don’t agree.  He’s sent to a backwater for his opinions, but the cold case and other possibly connected deaths bring him back to Auckland after five years.  Ihaka is sharp and relentless; he consorts with bad guys and pretty suspects, but he gets results. It’s great fun to read.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Firsts for February 7 - Charlie Chaplin and the Beatles

Firsts for February 7

100 years ago, Charlie Chaplin’s  children’s soap box derby and shot Chaplin as the Tramp getting in the way of the racing cars and mugging for the camera. His jacket was tight, his pants were big and too short, his moustache was small; he carried a cane and wore a derby. He improvised-and made film history.  
character the Little Tramp debuted on the silver screen in “Kid Auto races at Venice”. It was Chaplin’s second film. The film crew went to an actual

50 years ago, the Beatles arrived in New York (the first stop on their first American tour) for a live performance a few days later on the Ed Sullivan Show.  On February 9, Ed Sullivan introduced them to his studio viewers and his television audience, mentioning that Elvis Presley had sent a congratulatory telegram. Seventy- three million Americans watched them sing “All my loving’”, Til there was you”, “She loves you”, “I saw her standing there” and “I want to hold your hand”. It made television history and marked the beginning of the so-called British invasion.  

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Excited for Downton Abbey?

With Season 4 of Downton Abbey just beginning, we wanted to share a few other titles that you Downton fans might enjoy...
 “Below stairs” by Margaret Powell (641.5092 POWELL)

Margaret Powell is the lady who started it all.  The memoir of her life in service was the basis for the television series “Upstairs, Downstairs” and a generation later, “Downton Abbey”. The explanation of the rigors of spring cleaning or the painstaking elements of making potato chips from scratch make one very glad for modern conveniences. 

“Upstairs & downstairs: the illustrated guide to the real world of Downton Abbey” by Sarah Warwick  (941.0823 Warwick)

Period illustrations and photos, posters and magazine ads provide a visual backdrop to the life and times of the English country house in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  The rich and famous and their relations to the household help are included: Winston Churchill was devoted to his nanny and kept  her picture next to his bed until he died; suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst’s belief and struggle for women’s rights did not extend to her own household’s servants.

 “Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook” by Emily Baines (641.5 Baines)

As an unofficial guide, this details the kind of the food that was prepared, served and eaten at Downton Abbey, not necessarily the specific dishes we saw on the series. That aside, the recipes (and the staff to prepare them) are those on which dreams are made.  I’d be willing to tackle the creamed carrots or the steak au poivre; I thought the dark chocolate bread pudding with salted caramel sauce sounded heavenly… 

Monday, December 09, 2013

What We're Reading ... Someone by Alice McDermott


Someone by Alice McDermott
A new Alice McDermott novel is always something to savor. In “Someone (FICTION MCDERMOTT), McDermott frames the whole of Marie Commeford’s life in a series of remembered stories.  We meet Marie as a 7 year old  sitting on a stoop in Brooklyn. She grows up, falls for a neighbor boy but ends up heartbroken. She marries a good man and has a family; her parents die, her husband dies and she loses her sight.  It’s an ordinary life but it becomes luminous in McDermott’s writing; no other writer captures the Irish-American experience as well.     

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Happy money

Happy Money by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton
 Happy Money (332.024 Dunn) authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, money itself doesn’t make you happy- but you can work on spending it in a different way, with happiness the by-product.  They have solid research to support their thesis.  
According to “
If you buy things, they quickly lose their luster-buy experience (a trip or an adventure).  Treating yourself to a latte or dessert everyday doesn’t lead to more satisfaction; having something less frequently allows you to savor the moment -and be happy.  You can’t buy time but you can use your time differently to feel happy-exercising, reading and spending time with friends can increase your happiness more than watching that new TV. (One of the biggest time stealers is long commutes. You’ll be happier with a smaller house and a shorter distance to work, a hard thing to achieve in the pricey Bay Area.)  If you pay for something upfront rather than afterwards, you have all the pleasure of anticipating it-and you’re happier as a result. If you give some of your money to others, (a charity or a gift for a friend) you’ll be more satisfied than if you spent it all on yourself. Happiness is just around the corner…

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What we are reading... October 2013

Call For the Dead by John Le Carre

The installation of the Berlin Wall segment at the Library made me think of John Le Carre’s Cold War thrillers.  I searched out Le Carre’s first book, Call for the Dead (FICTION LE CARRE), which introduced the character of George Smiley, all-too-human spymaster.  Smiley interviews civil servant Samuel Fennan as a possible security leak; Smiley decides there is no reason to continue the investigation and assures Fennan the matter is closed.  Fennan then kills himself, leaving a note that his career is ruined. Smiley doesn’t believe it. His search for answers leads to more deaths and betrayals before the grim conclusion.  

The Four Agreements
How can we grow as individuals?  In Four Agreements (299.792 Ruiz), Don Miguel Ruiz expands on the ancient wisdom of the Toltecs of Mexico. He outlines the steps one can take along their suggested path for personal growth: stay true to your word, don’t take anything personally, never assume and always do your best.

The Light in the Ruins
Chris Bohjalian’s Light in the Ruins (FICTION BOHJALIAN) demonstrates that privilege is no protection for the Rosati family in war-torn Italy. As World War II progresses, the German-Italian alliance becomes a German occupation; by war’s end, the family is broken and the villa is destroyed.  Years later, a murderer is targeting the remaining family members.  Florentine investigator  Serafina  Bettini believes the reason for the attacks must go back to the war.  As the case evolves, her war experiences- and her link to the villa-come to light. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beat those dog days of August at MVPL

Join us tonight for the Modern kitchen garden: Eat what you grow on Wednesday, August 14, 6-7 pm. in the Community Room. Presenter Patricia Larenas will delve into the basics of planning and planting your garden. There will be a raffle of edible plants to entice you further.  To read her blog, go to:

Consider lunchtime yoga with Jennifer Dinalo on Thursday, August 15 and August 22 12:30-1:30 pm in the Community Room.

Celebrate the end of adult summer reading with a Downton Abbey Tea in Pioneer Park, Saturday August 17, 2:30-4 pm.  A string quartet and dancers in period attire hoofing in the Edwardian style will provide a lovely backdrop for light refreshments.  If you’re feeling Downton-inspired, dress up accordingly.  There will be a prize for best hat. 

Combine the tea with a stop at the Friends of the Library Book Sale Saturday, August 17, 10 am-4pm or drop by on Sunday, August 18, 10 am-4pm to sweep up more good reads and media.  

If you have excess produce from your garden, visit the Crop swap, Saturday, August 24, 1-3 pm in the Community Room.  Share/trade with others whose gardens outstripped their ability to consume it. 

Tired after all these activities?   Try Jennifer Dinalo’s introduction to Chair yoga (for those favoring a very gentle approach) on Tuesday August 27, 12-1 pm in  the Community Room.