08. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Bettyville by George Hodgman, 279 pages, read by Madeline, on 03/25/2015

When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself—an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook—in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can’t bring himself to force her from the home both treasure—the place where his father’s voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.

As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty’s life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town—crumbling but still colorful—to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. Evocative of The End of Your Life Book Club and The Tender Bar, Hodgman’s New York Times bestselling debut is both an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal son’s return.

–from Goodreads.com.

08. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, 336 pages, read by Madeline, on 03/20/2015

A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to becool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

–from Goodreads.com.

08. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, 297 pages, read by Madeline, on 03/15/2015

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

–from Goodreads.com.

Us

08. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline

Us by David Nicholls, 400 pages, read by Madeline, on 03/10/2015

‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’

‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?’

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.

He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

What could possibly go wrong?

–from Goodreads.com.

08. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Invisible City by Julia Dahl, 304 pages, read by Madeline, on 03/01/2015

Just months after Rebekah Roberts was born, her mother, an Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, abandoned her Christian boyfriend and newborn baby to return to her religion. Neither Rebekah nor her father have heard from her since. Now a recent college graduate, Rebekah has moved to New York City to follow her dream of becoming a big-city reporter. But she’s also drawn to the idea of being closer to her mother, who might still be living in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn.

Then Rebekah is called to cover the story of a murdered Hasidic woman. Rebekah’s shocked to learn that, because of the NYPD’s habit of kowtowing to the powerful ultra-Orthodox community, not only will the woman be buried without an autopsy, her killer may get away with murder. Rebekah can’t let the story end there. But getting to the truth won’t be easy—even as she immerses herself in the cloistered world where her mother grew up, it’s clear that she’s not welcome, and everyone she meets has a secret to keep from an outsider.

In her riveting debut Invisible City, journalist Julia Dahl introduces a compelling new character in search of the truth about a murder and an understanding of her own heritage.

–from Goodreads.com.

03. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Good Catholics: The Battle Over Abortion in the Catholic Church by Patricia Miller, 344 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/22/2015

Good Catholics tells the story of the remarkable individuals who have engaged in a nearly fifty-year struggle to assert the moral legitimacy of a pro-choice position in the Catholic Church, as well as the concurrent efforts of the Catholic hierarchy to suppress abortion dissent and to translate Catholic doctrine on sexuality into law. Miller recounts a dramatic but largely untold history of protest and persecution, which demonstrates the profound and surprising influence that the conflict over abortion in the Catholic Church has had not only on the church but also on the very fabric of U.S. politics. Good Catholics addresses many of today’s hot-button questions about the separation of church and state, including what concessions society should make in public policy to matters of religious doctrine, such as the Catholic ban on contraception.

From Goodreads.com.

03. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

The Racketeer by John Grisham, 340 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/20/2015

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .

Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.

from Goodreads.com.

03. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Madeline, NonFiction, Travel

World's Best Cities: Celebrating 220 Great Destinations by National Geographic Society, Keith Bellows, 336 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/15/2015

Delving into the heart and soul of more than 225 cities around the globe, World’s Best Cities is a glossy, glorious tribute to cosmopolitan life. In photos and words, this irresistible volume showcases long-established great cities like Paris, Rome, New York, London, and Tokyo, as well as exciting up-and-comers, including Denver, Asheville, Oslo, and Abu Dhabi. As readable as it is beautiful, this expansive travel guide offers a playful, informative mix of inspirational personal narratives; photo galleries, and fun facts; plus sidebars on oddities; where to find the best food and shopping; novels that capture a particular city’s atmosphere; local secrets; and more. Many additional cities appear in illustrated lists, such as eco-friendly cities, foodie cities; and happiest cities. The twenty-first century is the Century of the City, and on-the-go visitors and armchair travelers alike will make World’s Best Cities a must-have volume to accompany all their urban adventures.

From Goodreads.com.

03. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, 384 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/10/2015

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

From Goodreads.com.

03. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid, 384 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/04/2015

Internationally best-selling crime writer Val McDermid is one of the most dependable professionals in the mystery and thriller business, whose acutely suspenseful, seamlessly plotted novels have riveted millions of readers worldwide. In her latest, The Skeleton Road, she delivers a gripping standalone novel about a cold case that links back to the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

In the center of historic Edinburgh, builders are preparing to convert a disused Victorian Gothic building into luxury flats. They are understandably surprised to find skeletal remains hidden in a high pinnacle that hasn’t been touched by maintenance for years. But who do the bones belong to, and how did they get there? Could the eccentric British pastime of free climbing the outside of buildings play a role? Enter cold case detective Karen Pirie, who gets to work trying to establish the corpse’s identity. And when it turns out the bones may be from as far away as former Yugoslavia, Karen will need to dig deeper than she ever imagined into the tragic history of the Balkans: to war crimes and their consequences, and ultimately to the notion of what justice is and who serves it.

The Skeleton Road is an edge-of-your-seat, unforgettable read from one of our finest crime writers.

From Goodreads.com.

06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, 343 pages, read by Madeline, on 01/10/2015

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

Description from Goodreads.com.

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

The Unspeakable and Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum, 256 pages, read by Madeline, on 12/20/2014

Nearly fifteen years after her debut collection, My Misspent Youth, captured the ambitions and anxieties of a generation, Meghan Daum returns to the personal essay with The Unspeakable, a masterful collection of ten new works. Her old encounters with overdrawn bank accounts and oversized ambitions in the big city have given way to a new set of challenges. The first essay, “Matricide,” opens without flinching:

People who weren’t there like to say that my mother died at home surrounded by loving family. This is technically true, though it was just my brother and me and he was looking at Facebook and I was reading a profile of Hillary Clinton in the December 2009 issue of Vogue.

Elsewhere, she carefully weighs the decision to have children—“I simply felt no calling to be a parent. As a role, as my role, it felt inauthentic and inorganic”—and finds a more fulfilling path as a court-appointed advocate for foster children. In other essays, she skewers the marriage-industrial complex and recounts a harrowing near-death experience following a sudden illness. Throughout, Daum pushes back against the false sentimentality and shrink-wrapped platitudes that surround so much of contemporary American experience and considers the unspeakable thoughts many of us harbor—that we might not love our parents enough, that “life’s pleasures” sometimes feel more like chores, that life’s ultimate lesson may be that we often learn nothing.

But Daum also operates in a comic register. With perfect precision, she reveals the absurdities of the New Age search for the “Best Possible Experience,” champions the merits of cream-of mushroom-soup casserole, and gleefully recounts a quintessential “only-in-L.A.” story of playing charades at a famous person’s home.

Combining the piercing insight of Joan Didion with humor reminiscent of Nora Ephron’s, Daum dissects our culture’s most dangerous illusions, blind spots, and sentimentalities while retaining her own joy and compassion. Through it all, she dramatizes the search for an authentic self in a world where achieving an identity is never simple and never complete.

Description from Goodreads.com

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline

Schooled by Gordon Korman, 224 pages, read by Madeline, on 12/15/2014

Homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television, tasted a pizza, or even heard of a wedgie. But when his grandmother lands in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a school counselor and attend the local middle school. While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school.

Description from Goodreads.com

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Cookbooks, Madeline, NonFiction

International Night: A Father and Daughter Cook Their Way Around the World by Mark Kurlansky, Talia Kurlansky, 384 pages, read by Madeline, on 12/10/2014

Once a week in the Kurlansky home, Mark spins a globe and wherever his daughter’s finger lands becomes the theme of that Friday night’s dinner. Their tradition of International Night has afforded Mark an opportunity to share with his daughter, Talia–and now the readers of International Night–the recipes, stories, and insights he’s collected over more than thirty years of traveling the world writing about food, culture, and history, and his charming pen-and-ink drawings, which appear throughout the book.

International Night is brimming with recipes for fifty-two special meals–appetizers, a main course, side dishes, and dessert for each–one for every week of the year. Some are old favorites from Mark’s repertoire, and others gleaned from research. Always, they are his own version, drawn from techniques he learned as a professional chef and from many years of talking to chefs, producers, and household cooks around the world. Despite these insights, every recipe is designed to be carried out–easily–by any amateur chef, and they are designed to be completed with the assistance of children.

Mark and Talia invite you and your family into their kitchen, outfitted with overflowing packets of exotic spices and aromas of delicacies from Tanzania and Kazakhstan to Cuba and Norway. From there, recipes and toothsome morsels of cultural and historical information will fill your bellies and your minds, and transport you to countries all around the world.

Description from Goodreads.com

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline, 352 pages, read by Madeline, on 12/01/2014

The women of Rosato & Associates return, after the relaunch of the series that started with Accused. This second entry, Betrayed, stars Judy Carrier, who has had the starring role in only one previous Rosato book. When Betrayed opens, Judy Carrier finds herself at a crossroads in her life. Her best friend, Mary DiNunzio, has just become partner and is about to become a bride, leaving Judy vaguely out of sorts. She’s not jealous, but she’s not happy either and she’s wondering where her own career and love life are going. To make matters worse, she is rocked to her emotional foundations when she learns that her beloved Aunt Barb has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She races to her aunt’s side, and so does Judy’s mother, only to find that her aunt is dealing with the sudden death of a friend who had been helping her through chemo. The friend, Iris Juarez, was an undocumented worker at a local farm, but her death doesn’t look natural at all, to Judy. Judy begins to investigate, following a path that leads her into an underground world far more dangerous than she ever imagined. Judy has to dig to uncover what happened to Iris, and at the same time unearth the secrets in her own family.

description from Goodreads.com

Sixty-five of the world’s leading writers open up about the books and authors that have meant the most to them

Every Sunday, readers of The New York Times Book Review turn with anticipation to see which novelist, historian, short story writer, or artist will be the subject of the popular By the Book feature. These wide-ranging interviews are conducted by Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review, and here she brings together sixty-five of the most intriguing and fascinating exchanges, featuring personalities as varied as David Sedaris, Hilary Mantel, Michael Chabon, Khaled Hosseini, Anne Lamott, and James Patterson. The questions and answers admit us into the private worlds of these authors, as they reflect on their work habits, reading preferences, inspirations, pet peeves, and recommendations.

By the Book contains the full uncut interviews, offering a range of experiences and observations that deepens readers’ understanding of the literary sensibility and the writing process. It also features dozens of sidebars that reveal the commonalities and conflicts among the participants, underscoring those influences that are truly universal and those that remain matters of individual taste.

For the devoted reader, By the Book is a way to invite sixty-five of the most interesting guests into your world. It’s a book party not to be missed.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion and Film by Marc Spitz, 352 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/25/2014

New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee’s roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today.

Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney’s, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel—all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee.

In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee—the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the ’70s and Hip Hop in the ’80s—showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist.

Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, he charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume and Jonathan Richman to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late’80s and early ’90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com.

Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it has so many haters and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it go from here?

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, History, Madeline, NonFiction

Celia: A Slave by Melton A. McLaurin, 192 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/20/2014

Celia was an ordinary slave–until she struck back at her abusive master and became the defendant in a landmark trial that threatened to undermine the very foundations of the South’s “Peculiar Institution.”

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Humor, Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan, 157 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/15/2014

Straight from the library–the strange and bizarre, ready to be checked out!

From a patron’s missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan’s circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, “What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?” Whether she’s helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn’t have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan’s bizarre tales prove that she’s truly seen it all.

Stacked high with hundreds of strange-but-true stories, I Work at a Public Library celebrates librarians and the unforgettable patrons that roam the stacks every day.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline, Romance, Teen Books

The Swiss Affair by Emylia Hall, 384 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/10/2014

From the highly acclaimed author of The Book of Summers comes a tale of love, lies and innocence lost.

For Hadley Dunn, life has been predictable and uneventful. But that is before she spends her second year of college abroad in Lausanne, a glamorous Swiss city on the shores of Lake Geneva. Lausanne is imbued with the boundless sense of freedom Hadley has been seeking, and it is here she meets Kristina, a beautiful but mysterious Danish girl. The two bond quickly, but as the first snows of winter arrive, tragedy strikes.

Driven by guilt and haunted by suspicion, Hadley resolves to find the truth about what really happened that night, and so begins a search that will consume her, the city she loves, and the lives of two very different men. Set against the backdrop of a uniquely captivating city, The Swiss Affair is an evocative portrayal of a journey of discovery and a compelling exploration of how our connections with people and with places, make us who we are.