Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What we’re reading now: Good mother, bad mother?

In Laura Lippman’s latest mystery, mother issues and threatening notes predominate. Melisandre Dawes had left Baltimore and her children ten years before, after a sensational trial in which she was cleared in the murder of her youngest daughter by reason of insanity.  She returns to Baltimore to re-establish contact with her remaining teenage daughters and to film the reunion with a documentary. Her personal trainer is poisoned and she receives anonymous notes alluding to her past; she turns to her old friend Tyner Gray for help.   Tyner recruits P.I.  Tess Monaghan to investigate on Melisandre’s behalf.  Tess is struggling to juggle work and family (partner Crow and toddler daughter Carla Scout) but she reluctantly agrees to take on the case.  Tess, too, receives anonymous notes which escalate in intensity. Are the notes connected? Tess must unravel all the lies and misinformation before she unmasks the true culprit in the case. 

I have read many of Laura Lippman’s stand-alone mysteries but none of the Tess Monaghan series.  I’m definitely going to read more of Tess-this was the best mystery I’ve read so far this year.     

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What We're Reading Now: Women of Ireland

“Maeve’s Times” by Maeve Binchy  (824.914 Binchy)

Before she became known for her fiction, Maeve Binchy was a teacher who wrote her family long letters about her travels during her school vacations. Her father sent a few of her letters in to the Irish Times; this led to a job on the paper. She wrote features not just on travel but on what she observed in life and the people around her.  Her gentle humor and discerning profiles of her fellow countrymen, the English and others around the globe come through to delight the reader in this collection extending from 1964 to 2011.  

What We're Reading Now: Women of Ireland

“Everybody matters: my life giving voice” by Mary Robinson (941.7082 ROBINSON) 

Mary Robinson tells us her life so far: the daughter of two doctors and sister to four brothers, she grew up in the west of Ireland in the 1940’s to become an activist lawyer, an Irish senator and the first female president of Ireland in 1990.  She fought hard for women’s right to contraception and divorce in Ireland, and supported gays and other minorities in their struggle for equal representation in her country.  She then changed focus to work internationally as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with a special interest in Africa.   Currently, she heads the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, working from Ireland to alleviate the negative effects of climate change on the poor worldwide.    

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

What We're Reading Now: Mother Love

“Glitter and glue: a memoir” by Kelly Corrigan (994.4092 Corrigan)

Twenty–some years ago, Kelly Corrigan graduated from college and yearned for adventure. She and a friend headed to Australia, but the money ran out. Faced with going home or working, she found a job as a nanny for a grieving widower with two young children bewildered by their mum’s death. She found herself remembering her mother’s words (many of which she had rejected out-of-hand growing up) and applying them to her new situation. She had never understood before, but now she did-her mother was indeed “the glue” in her family.
Mothers’ words often go unheeded.  Corrigan was lucky-she was able to appreciate her mother while she was still alive. Once she became a mother herself, the respect and love for her mother’s efforts only grew.    

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What We're Reading Now: Bones of Paris

Bones of Paris by Laurie King (M KING)

I’m a sucker for books set in the Twenties-and this one is in Paris, to boot.  Philippa Crosby disappears; her roommate and her family have no idea where she is.  Former FBI agent (and Pip’s former lover) P I Harris Stuyvesant discovers more than one person has vanished. Is it a serial killer? What’s the motive? Ernest Hemingway, Lee Miller and Man Rey all play a role as Stuyvesant tracks the killer to a ghostly finish.   Jazz Age frenzy, expatriate Americans and tormented artists add to the excellent period detail.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What We're Reading Now: Apples of Uncommon Character

Apples of uncommon character by Rowan Jacobsen (634.11 Jacobsen)

Author Rowan Jacobsen describes himself as an apple stalker, not an expert.  He consulted the experts and created this beautiful book about apples. Years ago, Macintosh, Red Delicious and Granny Smiths were the only options at the grocery store, but the rise of farmer’s markets, consumers opting for taste rather than shelf-life, and the trend toward healthy food in general has opened up a whole new world. In “Apples of uncommon character”, learn about more than hundred varieties of apple. Color photographs and a detailed description of each variety draw the reader into the apple experience-their history, what they look like, where they are grown, what they taste like, how they feel in your mouth, how to cook with them.  Recipes are included.

Recipes: he recommends nuts rather than oats for apple crisp and mixing apple varieties (at least three) for more flavor. Brussel sprouts with apples and bacon looked appealing to me, but I haven’t tried it yet.   No recipes for apple soup or apple cake, but  if you want to make that “perfect pie”, you can find the recipe here.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What We're Reading Now: Lincoln: An Intimate Portrait

Lincoln: An Intimate Portrait  (973.7092 Lincoln)

What does Abraham Lincoln signify to the world?  The boy born in poverty with only one year of formal education grew up to govern a country torn by civil war. He saved the Union, but a bullet stopped him from healing his countrymen.  This year, 2015, marks the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination at the hands of rabid Southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. “Lincoln: an intimate portrait”  includes a timeline, political and family anecdotes, original photos (some never before seen), maps and facsimiles of his speeches  in an large format volume suitable for anyone wanting to learn more about this great man. Testimonials by Sandra Day O’Connor, Andrew Young, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and others indicate why his words and actions continue to inspire us all.   

Now is the perfect time for this-or any other book about Lincoln- as we commemorate his birthday on February 12.   

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

What We're Reading Now: Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

There are many situations in life where we are torn between laughing and crying.  Roz Chast captures this perfectly in her graphic memoir of dealing with her aging parents, George and Elizabeth.  Her parents had met in fifth grade-they’d rarely been apart except for World War II. Death and their future was not a topic for discussion; assisted living was for other people, not them.  Weren’t they always going to be together and then peacefully die in their sleep? Life is seldom like that. Chast was there to chronicle it all-a sobering story but at times very funny.  
The graphic format has come of age. This was one of the nominees for the 2014 National Book Award for nonfiction.