02 August 2011


Here in the library we are gearing up for the fall term. We have been creating READ posters for our faculty. This one is mine!

Up A Road Slowly

Up A Road Slowly by Irene Hunt was one of my favorite Newbery books. And I know why! This coming of age story of a girl who grew up right before I did. It was a world I was familiar with and made my memories of these times just flow back!wbery panel!

The novel takes place in the 60s (I am guessing) perhaps and begins with Julie's mother dying when she was seven years old. Julie is the narrator and finds herself and older brother Christopher shipped off to spinster school teacher Aunt Cordelia's house. Their father just cannot take care of them. Initially horrified, Julie comes to love the life in the country where her Aunt lives. The story follow her growth and development from elementary school in a one room class to graduation from high school and heading to college. While I didn't go to a one room school house - I knew that they existed when I was growing up.

The story is also filled with wonderfully outlandish characters such as her alcoholic Uncle Haskell, the bad boyfriend, the good boyfriend, and a wide variety of girls who can be very nice or filled with pride and envy. Julie navigates her life with these people, learning lessons along the way - happy and sad lessons. In the end, Julie learns that her Aunt usually knows what is best for her and knows that it is through her guidance she is an adult.

Another story line, which is at the heart of the mystery, focuses on Madeline L'Engel's book A Wrinkle in Time and the idea of time travel. Marcus, who becomes a friend to Miranda, has theories on time and space. If one were unfamiliar with L'Engel's book, perhaps this story line might also have some gaps. Of course the simple answer to this problem is to read L'Engel's classic book and start over.

Allison's Book Bag has a great review of the book as well - with some comparisons to Anne Of Green Gables. In some ways, it also reminded me of Little Women. Still I wonder if this book would still have appeal with young girls who might find it too simple.

TITLE: Up a Road Slowly
AUTHOR: Irene Hunt
PAGES: 197
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I loved this little book.

05 April 2011

The Midwife's Confession

Diane Chamberlain has written a spot-on novel about women and their friendships, how relationships between mothers and daughters evolve, and how even the most difficult things can be gotten through with the help of both.

Tara and Emerson had been friends through college, marriage, and childbirth. They both had daughter's who were born within days of one another and were now best friends as well. The two women were also very close friends with Noelle, someone they met in college. Noelle was the local midwife and her surprising suicide (and the more surprising note they find with her belongings) bring about changes and challenges neither Tara or Emerson could imagine. This novel is part mystery, part female bonding and both are well-charted by the author.

You can visit the author's website for information about this book and other bestselling works. Thanks to publisher Harlequin (Mira Books) and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. I enjoyed the characters and felt they were people I knew. Their heartaches and growth were so true and carefully mapped. And unlike some books, the novel ended just where it needed to end!

TITLE: The Midwife's Confession
AUTHOR: Diane Chamberlain
PAGES: I read the Kindle version
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I enjoyed this novel with the twists and turns of long time friendships and secrets revealed. Good character development.

31 March 2011

Lilly's Wedding Quilt

Lilly’s Wedding Quilt (A Patch of Heaven Novel) by Kelly Long, is the second novel in this series. Even so, it is not necessary to read the first novel before reading this one. However, you may like this one so much that you want to pick up the first! Lilly Lapp is the local Amish school teacher who is taking care of her Mother as well. Lilly wonders if she will ever wed, especially since she has the man she has always chosen to care for, Jacob Wyse, has been in love with another woman. Lilly is surprised when this other woman marries another man. Due to an accident with her buggy, Lilly and Jacob attend the wedding together. Chance has thrown the two together and circumstances cause Lilly to say she spent the previous evening with Jacob. To protect her reputation, Jacob announces their engagement. But will they fall in love?

As you read the book to find the answer, you will find many Amish customs, foods, and beliefs described.

One facet of the book which I really loved was the author’s treatment of mental illness and how it would be treated in an Amish community. Lilly’s mother was depressed and her treatment plan is as gentle and supporting as one would hope all plans are.

I really enjoyed the book and how the plot was developed. If you like learning about different cultures and romance, the author provides the reader with this and more.

Thanks to publisher Thomas Nelson for providing me with the Kindle version of the book to preview. No monetary payment was provided to write and publish a review, positive or not. Thanks to NetGalley for making it so easy to connect with authors and publishers.

TITLE: Lilly's Wedding Quilt
AUTHOR: Kelly Long
PAGES: I read the Kindle version
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I really liked this gentle novel and learned a bit more about the culture of the Amish people.

26 December 2010

The Dolphin People

A big thank you to Harper Perennial for the opportunity to read and review this novel. The work was originally published in Australia, where author Torsten Krol lives, in 2006; then in Great Britain in 2008. Krol has another novel, Callisto, published in 2007. Most interesting is the statement on the back cover of the book about the author: Torsten Krol is the author of Callisto. Nothing further is known about him. And, after extensive searching on the Web, it seems that this is true. He is reclusive and many believe the author is writing under a pseudonym.

At any rate, I really liked this delightfully interesting novel. The Dolphin People is narrated by Erich Linden who is a sixteen year old who travels with his mother and younger brother Zeppi to Venezuela. Erich's father has died fighting on the side of the Nazis in World War II. Erich's mother will now marry Klaus, her late husband's brother who has fled to Venezuela to avoid prosecution as a Nazi. And this is only the beginning!

After changing their last name, the new family takes a flight to the interior of Venezuela where they will live. Unfortunately the plane crashes and the four must figure out a way to live with the Amazonian tribe they encounter. The family learns the culture of the tribe via another white man, Gerhard, who has lived with the tribe for many years. To save their lives, the family members pretend to be dolphin people, almost gods who had been expected by the tribe. As time passes, the family must do more and more bizarre things to continue the ruse. I will not spoil the fun by telling you the results!

This novel was reviewed by Anis Shivani in the Huffington Post.

TITLE: The Dolphin People
AUTHOR: Torsten Krol
PAGES: 356
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I loved this fanciful novel, but really enjoyed the political rhetoric as well.

Displaced Persons

In May, 1945, Pavel Mandl, a Polish Jew recently liberated from a concentration camp, searches for surviving family in the Allied Zones of a crushed Germany. Alone, with no money and no prospects, he trades on the black market to survive. While searching for family members and waiting for a visa to America, he befriends a pair of refugees, Fela and a teenaged boy named Chaim, and soon the trio form a makeshift family. (From the back of the book)

When the war was over and Nazi concentration camps were liberated, survivors were taken to camps for displaced persons where their medical needs were addressed. But Europe, especially Eastern Europe, was in shambles. Survivors searched for family members and, more often than not, found that they alone had survived. The emotional devestation led to years of buried emotions and a feeling of not belonging. Displaced Persons, written by Ghita Schwarz, explores this emotional solitude over decades of survival. Ultimately, the emotions under the surface bubble up and expose feelings unknowingly guiding many decisions.

Pavel Mandl found himself in a British displaced persons camp after the war. He found his place in trading in the black market and joined with two other refugees, living in a small house he took over after the war. Fela, widowed by the war, and Chaim, a teenaged boy, who was willing to work with Pavel in trading in the black market, became each other's family. Ultimately Pavel married Fela and the couple struggled to gather what was needed to immigrate to the United States. They hoped the dream of freedom would erase the pain and struggles they had endured. While the two did make it to New York, they found that the past followed them and while they never discussed their experiences, certainly it was there, between them, between them and the world. Chaim went to Israel where he married Sima. Eventually Chaim and his wife also came to New York and the couples were reunited. Then the world changed.

After the fall of Communism, people wanted to hear about the past. They wanted survivors to speak out about their experiences. Many realized that by discussing their past, they would have to relive them in public. With this private struggle exposed, each survivor tried to find a way to move forward. To see the struggle over forty years and two continents really illuminates how difficult survival was after the war.

To hear the author discuss her novel, visit Book Passage.

TITLE: Displaced Persons
AUTHOR: Ghita Schwarz
PAGES: 340
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: This is a very thoughtful book. The novel might be especially interesting to students of history who want to follow the post WWII lives of survivors.