Thursday, May 06, 2010

This Week in Books and Media

The Season of Second Chances: A NovelThe Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier - Joy has spent years building a career and a life in New York City but when a college Dean comes along offering a creative teaching job at Amherst College she realizes that her life has not turned out the way she expected and she decides to take the job.  Once there, she buys a crazy fixer-upper Victorian home and meets someone who shows her how to give and receive friendship and open herself up to the possibilities around her. After years of being ordinary finds her way into an extraordinary life. I really liked this book.

Fireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff - A grandmother tells the story of her life and loves in this sentimental tale.  I usually prefer a bit more edge to my stories but this will appeal to anyone who likes Nicholas Sparks and Paul Evans.

The Gin Closet by Leslie Jamison - Beautifully written story about a woman connecting with the alcoholic aunt she knew nothing about. I could appreciate the skill it took to write this but it wasn't a very cheery book.

Off Track by Clare Curzon - This mystery got very good reviews but I don't think I was in the right kind of mood for this book. There were lots of elements to this story and I just couldn't keep my mind on the action. Clare is a fine writer though so I encourage you to take a look at this and judge for yourself.

New York: The NovelNew York by Edward Rutherfurd - Following the events that shaped the destiny of the Master's clan allows Rutherfurd to tell the story of New York, from its time as a Dutch settlement to the beloved modern city of today.  From the very beginning pages until the last page of this saga is finished, we are drawn into the world of the Masters family as we follow them and the families they impact through the centuries. Freedoms are won and lost, fortunes are made and just as quickly vanish and wars are fought in this epic tale. The smooth retelling of history, well-developed characters and a fast pace make the novel a winner.

Down River by Karen Harper - Lisa's former fiance quit the rat race and run a retreat in Alaska. When her boss decides to hold their corporate retreat and his lodge, Lisa is less than thrilled.  When she gets there however, she finds she must rely on him to help her figure out who on the team is trying to kill her. This romantic suspense novel was fast paced and enjoyable but Lisa and Mitch spend so much time rehashing their past relationship and sniping at each other that it diminished the romance element of this story a bit more than I usually like.

Saving Ceecee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman - Twelve year old Cecelia Honeycutt has grown up watching her mother descend into madness while her father travels more and more to escape. When the situation explodes, her great-aunt Tootie rides to the rescue and takes her Savannah where she meets a remarkable assortment of women. This is very much a coming-of-age, girl power story that was a treat to read.

The Fifth Servant: A NovelThe Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia - When a Christian child is found dead inside the business of a Jewish merchant, the city of Prague becomes an even more deadly place for the Jewish people to live. Set during the sixteenth-century Inquisition, sexton Benyamin Ben-Akiva, his rabbinic mentor and a cast of unlikely allies must solve the murder before the anger and blood lust of the city destroy and innocent man and the Jewish Ghetto in which they live. This is a smart, historically detailed mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Total Oblivion, More or Less: A NovelTotal Oblivion, More or Less by Alan Deniro - Macy Palmer is trying to survive high school when her world starts to change. Electronic devices stop working, a mysterious plague starts killing neighbors and men on horseback attack the city. When her family decides to flee the city, things really start to get weird as it is discovered that America has been invaded by ancient Romans.   This was a really unique novel and I found it engrossing....and a bit bizarre. 


Grey Gardens (HBO)Grey Gardens - This was an extraordinary movie based on the documentary by the same name. Drew Barrymore was fantastic in this movie and I don't really understand why she wasn't considered for an Oscar for this roll.  Playing the part of "Little Edie" Beale, she and "Big Edie" (Jessica Lange) play out on the big screen the decline from aristocratic to living together in the rotting remains of Grey Gardens, these two never lose their charm and you ache for them when life doesn't give them what they want or need.

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Travelers Wife - I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I quite liked the novel by the same name but wondered how they would depict the erratic way that the main character moved through time, often against his will but they managed to convey the uncertainty and danger of his life is a really convincing way.  It was no Grey Gardens but it was a good solid love story.

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