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Happy Thanksgiving

With all the turbulence in the world right now, I thought a simple Happy Thanksgiving would be the best. From our families to yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

HappyThanksgiving

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

NestNest by Esther Ehrlich is another one of my “Cape Cod” books. It’s a sad book, uplifting but sad overall. Naomi (aka Chirp because she loves to bird watch) is eleven years old and her mother, Hannah, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Hannah has not taken the news well and has gone into a deep depression, so deep that Chirp’s psychiatrist father has her committed. Taking place in 1972 when electroshock therapy was a common treatment for depression, Hannah undergoes this therapy. Chirp’s older sister, Rachel, is repelled by the thought of what her father is forcing on her mother and uses every opportunity to act out against him. Unfortunately, Chirp is caught in the crossfire.

Chirp’s next door neighbor, Joey, is an odd duck. It is implied that he gets beaten up at home. The two form an unlikely friendship, both going through hard times, somewhat lost in the world.

Each has a secret place to go when they need to be alone, shoot off some steam, contemplate their lives. Chirp’s is a spot under a tree where she can take out her binocs and bird watch. Joey’s is a glass house where he can throw stones and break glass.

The complications in their lives come to the point where they can no longer cope. They decide to run away…to Boston and the swan boats in Boston Commons, because Chirp has happy memories of going  there with her dancer mother. As you might expect, though, an eleven year old’s memories may not jive with current reality.

Nest is Ehrlich’s first novel. She paints a realistic picture of a home torn apart by illness. Children are helpless and sometimes don’t understand the actions taken by adults. The stigma of having a parent in the ‘nuthouse’ (Ehrlich’s word, not mine) can wreak untold havoc on a child…thus their need to keep it a secret. The quiet friendship between Chirp and Joey, two kids realizing the other is going through tough times, is heartwarming. The Cape Cod backdrop plays a minor role in the story. Nest is a story worth reading and Esther Ehrlich is an author worth watching.

PulpFictionThe New York Times is sponsoring a Pulp Fiction Contest, as outlined in the article below:

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/12/back-for-more-return-of-the-pulp-fiction-contest/?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3As%2C%7B%222%22%3A%22RI%3A17%22%7D&_r=0

Here is my very lame entry:

Ed Goldberg

The Man in the Moon’s cynical smirk was obliterated by the dark clouds lying low in the sky, making the night as black and thick as the sludge in the Gowanus. I was peering out of my grit streaked third floor window waxing philosophical on life, love and where to go for dinner. The yellow cone of light from the street lamp cast its halo on a man shuffling down the opposite side of the street. His features were concealed but from the hesitating gait and the peering into windows, I knew he brought trouble. The shrill ring of the phone jolted me from my reverie. Her sensuous voice, all velvety smooth despite an underlying hysteria, summoned me uptown immediately. I gulped the last finger of bourbon, pocketed my trusty .38 and grabbed my rumpled fedora. Little did I know how long and dark this night was going to be.

 

 

 

TheBridgeThis is the revised edition of The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by Gay Talese, honoring the 50th anniversary of the opening of the bridge on November 21, 1964. The original book was published in 1964. As Mr. Talese says in his introduction, the book is more a testament to the men who built the bridge than it is a history of the bridge.

In the beginning, Talese talks about the 800 buildings destroyed and 7,000 people displaced in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn to make way for the on/off ramps to the bridge. I immediately thought of the portrait of Robert Moses painted by author Robert Caro in his book The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. In it, the reader gets the impression that Robert Moses cared about no one and nothing other than his projects. The fact that people would be uprooted and their lives totally disrupted, sometimes for the worse, cared little to him. I got this same exact feeling while reading The Bridge. But this is ancillary to the story.

The power of The Bridge are the stories of the men who built it. Generations of families worked construction on high rise towers, bridges, etc., showing no fear of heights, no fear of accidents that could main or kill a man. The pride that these men showed in their work seems unparalleled. Talese talked about a group of Canadian Indians who drove 400 miles home every Friday from Brooklyn after tossing back untold numbers of beers, and who then drove 400 miles back every Sunday to work on the bridge.

He talks about families who have seen accidents cripple or kill family members and their sons or brothers reporting back to work the next day, despite their loss. He talks about men who go from boom town to boom town in order to work on the next bridge or high rise. Quite incredible.

The photos of the bridge under construction add to the awe I have of those men who can work 70 stories up, whether over dry land or water. It’s a fearlessness that I never had.

Talese ends the book with a note that the next big projects are the renovation of the upper deck of the Verrrazano which will begin shortly and the new Tappan Zee Bridge, the construction of which began in 2014. He includes an artist’s rendering of the bridge. Although no one who worked on the Verrazano will be working on the Tappen Zee, you can rest assured that sons or grandsons of those Verrazano workers will be involved with the new Tappen Zee Bridge.

The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was an interesting and eye-opening book and well worth the short time it will take you to read it.

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs

Temperance (Tempe) Brennan is a forensic anthropologist (as is the author herself) BonesNeverLieand is called in when bones are found and need to be analyzed. This time, when she is called, the MO of the murder is similar to murders which have occurred years before in Montreal. The murderer, Angelic Pomerleau, preys upon teenage girls. She was never caught and has been a thorn in Tempe’s side…the one that got away (every cop has one). Why has Pomerleau moved her crimes from Canada to Charlotte, NC? That’s one of many perplexing issues.

In order to solve this crime, Tempe must work with Slidell, a slob of a detective and must find and recruit her ex-lover, Ryan, who has purposely disappeared after his daughter’s untimely death from a drug overdose. Additionally, there’s the typical rivalry between local and state police for credit/blame depending on whether the case is solved or not.

I have never read a Kathy Reichs book before. I like forensics and used to read Patricia Cornwell until her books became too romantic, mushy and unbelievable and less mystery. So Bones Never Lie was a welcome entree back into the forensic world.

There’s a lot of action, a lot of thinking and a lot of suspense. Although I liked all the ‘good guys’, one of my favorite characters is Tempe’s mother, who suffers from dramatic bouts of depression but when she’s ‘up’, she’s a computer whiz who helps Tempe.

I will admit that I did figure out the mechanism to the book’s end, although not the specifics.

While this story line seems like a continuation of previous books, Reichs included enough back story throughout to appease the reader. As I’ve said in reviews about other series books when I’ve started mid-series, I’m not going back to the beginning of the series, but I surely will keep up as the series moves forward.

I really liked this and mystery fans in general and forensic fans specifically, will enjoy this.

Most of you know two things about me by now: (1) I do like young adult chick litAmyAndRoger (OK, romance!) and (2) I feel compelled to seek out independent bookstores wherever I am and buy something. The problem with working in a library and also reviewing books for library journals is that I have most of the books that I want at my fingertips.

So, when I found myself in Northshire Books in Saratoga Springs this past week it was tough finding a book I wanted to buy. (As an aside, Northshire Books is a great bookstore. Two levels, the upper level children’s and young adult. I could have browsed there for hours…actually I did, on two separate occasions.)

SecondChanceSummerMy purchase, however, finally ended up being Morgan Matson’s debut novel Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, her other books being Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone. Although I have a long history reading and loving Sarah Dessen’s books, Ms. Matson is certainly moving up the ladder and is challenging Ms. Dessen for the top YA Chick Lit spot.

In March, Amy was driving and involved in an accident. Her father was in the passenger seat and was killed. Rather than rallying around each other, her mother and twin brother, Charlie, seemed to withdraw into themselves, not talking at all about what happened. What was worse was that she was her father’s favorite. They shared so much and suddenly he was gone.

In an abrupt move, Amy’s mother, a college professor took a job across the country in Connecticut. She left in May after putting their California home on the market, leaving Amy alone in California to finish school and then drive their car to the East Coast. However, since Amy stopped driving after the accident, her mother recruited Roger, a friend’s son to drive with Amy as passenger. Amy, Charlie and Roger used to play together eons ago.SinceYouveBeenGone

Amy needs to get to Connecticut but Roger has an ulterior motive for taking the cross country trip. While Amy’s mother has plotted out a 4 day route, made motel reservations and everything, Amy and Roger decide it might be worth it to take a ‘road trip’. I’m sure you can guess the ending, but in this particular case, the journey (no pun intended) is delightful. Ms. Matson’s inclusion of Playlists, photos, receipts, drawings and more just add to the enjoyment. In an afterward, she mentions that she is a road trip fan and actually took the trip about which she is writing.

By the way, my favorite character is Bronwyn, who plays a small but pivotal role. She a combination of southern hospitality and wisdom.

I’d suggest that Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is a great beach read, but while it is 60+ degrees out (in November), I’m not sure if it’s beach weather. So, instead, settle down on the couch, get a drink of some sort, fluff up the pillow and meander through Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour.

The Vanishing Season is my entree into Jodi Lynn Anderson and VanishingSeasonI had no idea what to expect, other than it got great reviews. I thought it was more mystery, knowing that young girls were vanishing and being found weeks later, floating face down in a lake. But it was far from a mystery. It is a book about growing up, about relationships, about love.

Financial reversals force Maggie and her family move from their high-rise Chicago apartment to a ramshackle house in Gill Creek, Wisconsin that they inherited. Her next door neighbor is a beautiful girl her age, Pauline Boden and she and a boy their age, Liam Witte have been friends since they were young. While love is there, it’s not followed through because Pauline’s mother thinks Liam is beneath them, partly because his father is a little ‘odd’. Maggie, Pauline and Liam become an inseparable threesome.

Around the time of Maggie’s move, teenage girls start disappearing and winding up floating face down in the lake. After Liam and Pauline come home late for curfew one night and her mother, worried to death, has called the police, Pauline is banished to her aunt’s house in Milwaukee until the killer is found.

I’m pretty sure you can guess what happens…to some extent. Because the ending was a surprise to me…but then again, I’m not all that good about guessing endings.

I know the likeability (is that a word?) of characters shouldn’t influence whether or not you like a book, but it does with me and I really liked all the characters in the book, especially Pauline who is a free spirit. (I love free spirit maybe because I wish I was one.) I liked the way Anderson described the location, the characters, the entire setting. She added an element of suspense and also the supernatural, which added to the story, while not overpowering it.

The Vanishing Season is a good story. After having bagged the last three out of four books I’ve read, I was thrilled to read one that kept me going.

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