Blog Posts by Sltader

Posted by Sltader on 11/13/17
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Karolina's Twins by Ronald Balson is a different sort of Holocaust novel. The contemporary/historical legal thriller is third in a series dealing with the cases of private investigator Liam Taggart and lawyer Catherine Lockhart. The story centers on locating twins who have been missing since WWII.

Lena Woodward, a holocaust survivor, asks Catherine and Liam to help her find twin girls that her best friend, Karolina, lost during the war. Part of the novel is Lena telling her story of what happened to her during the war. It flashes back in time to Poland in the late 1930s and early 1940s when Lena was a young Jewish girl who came from an influential and wealthy family. This is a completely captivating tale about survival and sacrifice. The other part of the story takes place in the present and centers on Lena's adult son, Arthur, who claims his mother suffers from a senile obsession with the past, and that the investigative couple are trying to fleece her out of her money. Balson is a Chicago trial attorney, and he skillfully leads readers through the tangled legalities of Arthur’s petition and Catherine’s daring response to it.

I have read quite a few novels on WWII, yet I still found myself completely caught up in Lena's story. Lena’s account of survival and immense bravery was inspired by the real-life experiences of Fay Scharf Waldman, a Holocaust survivor. Fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, Martha Hall Kelly’s The Lilac Girls, and Peter Golden's Wherever There is Light, will delight.
Posted by Sltader on 10/09/17
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Something Like Happy by Eva Woods is one of those books that will stay with you. This heartwarming novel gives you a look into the meaning of true friendship.  It delves into how others see life and death, and how someone can deal with the struggles presented to them in their own different way.
 
Annie Hebden does not think there is anyone more miserable than she is. Everything in her life changed, crashing around her suddenly. At thirty-five, she had hoped to have a nice house, a husband, and several kids. Instead, she is in a dead-end job, spending her time at the hospital because her sixty-year-old mother is suffering from dementia. Then, charismatic Polly Leonard, who seems to know everyone in the hospital, barges into her life.  Polly has a brain tumor and three months to live. Therefore, she challenges Annie to participate in the "Hundred Happy Days" project with her. Together, they will find one hundred things to be happy about. "You're just meant to do one thing every day that makes you happy. Could be little things. Could be big."

This interesting story was all about what determines happiness. Parts of it were funny, parts sad and of course, you knew how it would end so definitely a bit teary. I had heard about the “100 Days of Happiness Challenge” that the book is based on, so it made me really think about what little things I can do in my life that may ultimately change my attitude.

Something Like Happy is more than a book about second chances- it is about making the most of your first and only chance at life. Every day you are alive is another chance at being happy. I think this book will appeal to readers of Liane Moriarty and Taylor Jenkins Reid.
 
Posted by Sltader on 08/28/17
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Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours teaches us about one of America's real-life scandals. Georgia Tann was the director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, who kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. In the year 1939, Rill Foss is a twelve-year-old river gypsy who lives on a Mississippi River shanty boat with her parents and four younger siblings. When an emergency takes their parents to the hospital, strangers take the children from their world and place them into an orphanage.

Throughout this story, a tale is told about the wealthy, politically savvy Stafford family. It is through the work of Avery Stafford, the daughter of a senator and granddaughter of a woman suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s that the story is woven together with Rill’s story. The chapters alternate between Rill's telling and Avery’s resolve to find out what it was that drove her grandmother to be so secretive. As Avery discovers the truth, the story of the Flosses is uncovered.

The author takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and tells a story of most compelling power. That someone like Georgia Tann and her Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society could actually exist is shocking. Countless lives of children were affected, stealing their pasts and changing their futures.

Before We Were Yours is a gripping story about two families, and the secrets that surround them.  Beautifully told, this novel will stay with you long after the last page.
Posted by Sltader on 07/18/17
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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid features alternating timelines as an aging starlet, Evelyn Hugo, participates in a journalism interview about her life story. Lucky for us, her answers take on a life of their own, allowing readers to be sucked back in time to an era of glamour, strategy, and secrecy. Jenkins Reid’s writes a fascinating story that is easy to forget that it is fiction. It feels like an actual memoir. Evelyn's character shares perspectives on equality issues, relationships, the spectrum of sexuality, the cost and consequences of success, and taking ownership of (and responsibility for) one's life. It is also, about how times have changed, and although opportunities of significance are becoming more and more accessible to women these days, sometimes we are the ones who continue to stand in our own way.

Evelyn is a highly complex woman.  She is bold, undaunted, fierce, unapologetic and surprisingly tender and vulnerable as well. She was so well crafted that I felt like I was getting the inside scoop on a Hollywood icon’s life even though she is a fictional character. The story is glamorous, scandalous and filled with juicy gossip, yet it was also touching. It really reads like the epic saga of one woman’s life and I enjoyed every mesmerizing page of this book. I recommend The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo as the perfect vacation or beach read!
Posted by Sltader on 06/07/17
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Jenni L. Walsh’s book, Becoming Bonnie, is a fast-paced, exciting, and touching story of Bonnie before Clyde, showing the reader who she was as a girl and explaining how she transformed into the infamous gun-slinging, bank-robbing woman we all know. The story takes us back to the mid-to-late 1920s to a dusty town on the outskirts of Dallas where people worked hard but did not always have much, prohibition was in full force and the worst, longest and deepest economic depression was just about to hit.  A fun look at the Roaring Twenties complete with speakeasies, market crashes, and dance marathons. This story is filled with unusual characters from Bonnie's wild friend Blanche, to Roy (a man who goes through his own surprising transformation), to even Big Bertha, the car that totes them from one adventure to the next.

Even though I knew the story of Bonnie & Clyde, I loved hearing it told in the fantastic new voice that Jenni Walsh brings to the table. A charismatic, fun and engaging debut. I am already desperate for the sequel, which unfortunately does not come out until 2018!
Posted by Sltader on 03/27/17
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It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany packs a lot of emotional impact into a relatively short read. The story centers around two best friends, Tyler and Amber, who have helped each other through rough times in their lives. You meet them as teenagers dealing with issues like body images, eating disorders, anxiety, broken families and strained relationships, and unrequited love. The story is told from both perspectives so you see the characters grow up and their friendship expand over the years, as they get older. Then one horrible night in their twenties, something happens that changes not only their relationship but also their lives forever.

For me, this book read as a very real story. The blurry details, the guilt, and the emotions -- the reader feels all these things from both characters. Unfortunately, this story happens all over the world and is often never reported nor discussed. The topic of consent is one every parent must discuss with both their daughters and their sons. This novel vividly highlights the strength it takes to move beyond an assault. The pages Hatvany wrote capture the emotional toll that rape takes on an individual, their family, and sometimes their assailant.

Hatvany describes what it is like to be on both sides of the date rate spectrum, and her story drives home why it is so important to have conversations with both our sons and daughters. Every high school and college student should read this book to see how one very serious act could ruin the lives of both involved.
Posted by Sltader on 01/27/17
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Graham Moore's page-turning legal thriller, The Last Days of Night, takes us back to the Golden Age of New York City.
 
In the late 19th century, as Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse began wiring America for electricity, the titans locked horns over which electrical standard would prevail—Westinghouse’s AC (alternating current) or Edison’s DC (direct current)—in a struggle that came to be known as the “War of the Currents.”

Moore tells the story from the point of view of Paul Cravath, the young attorney charged with defending Westinghouse against a potentially devastating one billion dollar patent lawsuit brought by Edison. The key to winning, Cravath decides, is to get Nikola Tesla—the quirky and elusive inventor —to invent a better lightbulb. This plan is met with many obstacles.

A devastating lab fire! An inexplicable disappearance! A beautiful diva with a mysterious past! An attempted murder! An electrocuted dog! This story has it all! The novel’s action takes place against a backdrop rich with period detail.

As Cravath embarks on his long-shot representation of Westinghouse, he begins to rub noses with the elite of New York society, including Edison’s investor J.P. Morgan and popular singer Agnes Huntington (who later becomes Cravath’s love interest). Everyone has his or her own agenda and no one can be trusted.  Cravath needs to figure out what motivates each player and how to be the best at a game he does not fully understand.

This is historical fiction at its best. The Last Days of Night - with its glowing, burnished book cover- informs, entertains, teaches and leaves a reader with much to consider. Eddie Redmayne has signed on to star as Paul Cravath in the 2018 release of the film adaption of the book. Last Days of Night shines brightly indeed.
Posted by Sltader on 12/20/16
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" If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." - Dr. Martin Luther King

Jodi Picoult’s bold new book, Small Great Things, is my favorite book of 2016. We have a white author bringing to us a story depicting what racism looks like and trying to tell those of us who are not black, what it feels like. But anyone who has read  Jodi Picoult's books knows that she doesn't shy away from difficult to discuss topics.

Ruth Jefferson is a nurse in a New Haven hospital. She’s good at her job, well-liked, a devoted mother. Turk Bauer and his wife Brit are new parents, anxious, tired and full of love for their baby son. They also happen to be White Supremacists and Ruth happens to be Black. Because of skin color, Ruth is deemed unworthy of taking care of their son and they demand she is removed from their case. Instead of standing with their employee, the hospital acquiesces to the demand and Ruth is removed from the case. However, when a simple procedure turns tragic, Ruth is the only nurse in the room. As the Bauer baby goes into distress, Ruth's split-second hesitation results in accusations of both neglect and conspiracy, and Ruth finds herself on trial for murder. When middle-class, white public defender Kennedy McQuarrie takes Ruth’s case, she insists that race never be mentioned in the courtroom as a strategy for success. Both women are forced to tackle a lifetime’s worth of history, prejudice, insults and privilege in order to trust each other in the hopes of victory in court and redemption in life. The author tells this complex story through the alternating views of Ruth, Turk and Kennedy.
 
This book is not only well written, but insightful and compelling. It was easy to follow the alternating points of view and the characters were so well-developed. As usual I can tell how much research went into this book. Jodi Picoult never ceases to amaze me with how she can both entertain and teach me with her books.
 
This book was written at a racially-charged time where discussion is sorely needed.  It should be on everyone’s 2017 book club list. Although Small Great Things is tough to read at times, I think it's an important read and I highly recommend it.
 
Posted by Sltader on 10/29/16
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A very easy and delicious cookbook for the busy individual!
 
This is a great slow cooker book. There are 3 'at-a-glance' icons that certainly help meal planning, especially for busy moms! 1. Ready in 4 hours’ meals 2. Five ingredient meals (not including water, salt, pepper and oils) - and lastly 3. Express prep - only take 10 minutes of prep time meals!

There are recipes from effortless appetizers and beverages, to swift sweets. Also, there are directions for no fuss salads and sides, along with a section of quick breads.

Gazing through this cookbook I can see our family grazing on some of their delicious recipes throughout the year – Pepperoni Pizza Soup, Cranberry Mustard Pork Loin, Spicy Hash Brown Supper, Eye-Opening Burritos, Cheesy Tater Tot Dinner, Elvis’ pudding cake, and even Chimichurri Monkey Bread.

Unfortunately, not every recipe has a pictures but most do so that is reassuring when looking at what you created. If you can overlook some typos and you are not a gourmet chef, this cookbook is perfect for meal planning. This ready reference would mostly be appreciated by the busy mom or dad for a quick, tasty meal. Bon Appétit!
 
Cookbooks
Posted by Sltader on 09/28/16
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From the Roaring 20s through the 1960s, there was no address more glamorous than New York’s “women only” Barbizon Hotel.  Nicknamed 'The Dollhouse' by the gentlemen of the time, the Barbizon was a combined charm school and dormitory that would shelter a parade of yet-to-be-discovered damsels—Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Candice Bergen, Sylvia Plath, Ali MacGraw, and many more.

Fiona Davis’s debut novel, The Dollhouse, alternates chapters between 1952 and present day.

New York City, 2016, Rose Lewis is a journalist who is working at a job she doesn't particularly care for. Her relationship status would be considered complicated at best and she's caring for her elderly father. She's living with her divorced boyfriend in a condo in the renovated Barbizon Hotel. It's here where she meets an elderly woman with a veil covering her face. From the doorman, she learns the woman was involved in a mysterious scandal back in the 1950s. The reporter in Rose is intrigued and can't let this go until she finds out every last detail about who the woman is and what happened to cause her to wear a veil.

New York City, 1952, Darby McLaughlin just stepped off the train from Ohio. Enrolled in Katherine Gibbs, Darby plans on making a career as a secretary. She's naive and has low self-esteem. After a run-in with some mean girls on her floor, Darby is ready to scurry back home when she meets Esme, a maid at the hotel. Esme helps Darby start to break out of her shell and explore new things. But Esme has a domineering influence over Darby that starts to take her down a dangerous path and ultimately leads to tragedy.

Davis illuminates past and present New York City, taking readers all over the city from Brooklyn to Harlem, eating at 50’s cafes, listening to jazz musician greats in nightclubs, and creating a mystery and love story all in one. I was intrigued by the twists and turns of the mystery, but I most enjoyed the history of the building and time period.
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
 
By contributing patron-generated content, patrons grant the Library an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use, copy, modify, display, archive, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works based upon that content.
 
By submitting patron-generated content, patrons warrant they are the sole authors or that they have obtained all necessary permission associated with copyrights and trademarks to submit such content.
 
Patrons are liable for the opinions expressed and the accuracy of the information contained in the content they submit.  The Library assumes no responsibility for such content.
 
The Library reserves the right not to post submitted content or to remove patron-generated content for any reason, including but not limited to:
 
  • content that is profane, obscene, or pornographic;
 
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  • content that contains threats, personal attacks, or harassment;
 
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