Kathleen M.

The Girl in the Red Coat

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Kate Hamer
The Girl in the Red Coat

This is the engrossing story of 8-year-old Carmel who disappears into the fog while at a storytelling festival with her single mother, Beth. Carmel is a bit of a mystery to Beth – a distracted wanderer who just acts downright strange sometimes – but this time Carmel has been abducted by a group of “spiritual healers” posing as her grandparents. They convince Carmel that her mother has died and they are now her appointed guardians. The story unfolds in alternating chapters between Carmel and Beth’s different perspectives, which I particularly enjoy. I was worried at first that perhaps Carmel would be physically or sexually abused by her captors. Not so – so if that is something you cannot bear to read (as I can’t) there is none of it here. The “spiritual healers” appear to be more interested in lining their own pockets using Carmel’s particular gift, and occasionally trying to save their own souls. I loved this book. It was original, thought-provoking and definitely worth reading.

Check our catalog for this book.

Kathleen M., Administration   

Under the Dome

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Stephen King

Although daunting in size (it numbers over 1,000 pages), Stephen King’s Under the Dome did not disappoint, but did disturb me at times.  When the small town of Chester’s Mill, Maine, is surrounded by an invisible force field, the people inside are challenged to stay alive as conditions rapidly deteriorate (only one week elapses during the course of the entire book), and the folks in charge make a grab for power.  The evil comes alive in the persona of Big Jim Rennie, an obscenely sanctimonious local politician and drug lord who loves the idea of total and complete power under the dome.  I will say the myriad of characters were not as appealing or well developed as in some of King’s other works (this book did bring back a few fond memories of The Stand), but no one – and I mean no one – writes total and complete mayhem like Stephen King.  He also manages to sneak in commentary on our capacity for good and evil – something you can find in many King books.  Worth reading.  Check our catalog.

Kathleen M., Administration

The Book Thief (DVD)

Friday, June 6, 2014

I usually try to stay away from films made from books that I love…too much disappointment.  Either the story changes significantly (My Sister’s Keeper) or the cast is just a mismatch (think Russell Crowe in Les Mis).  However, I was most pleasantly surprised by The Book Thief.  The film is about a young girl living with a German family during the Nazi era. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father (played by the incomparable Goeffrey Rush), the girl begins "borrowing" books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee (played exquisitely by Ben Schnetzer) being sheltered by her foster parents in their basement.  But the star, the absolute star of the movie is Sophie Nelisse - Liesel Meminger herself. Whoever cast this young French Canadian saved this movie from obscurity.  If you read The Book Thief, give the movie a try – and if you haven’t, and just want to see a sad but beautiful and understated movie - that’s okay too. Check our Catalog

Kathleen M., Administration

Defending Jacob

Monday, July 9, 2012
William Landay

If you knew your child would potentially be a danger to others, would you turn him in?  Even if it meant he would spend the rest of his life in prison?  That's the question respected ADA Andy Barber and his wife face when their 14-year-old son is accused of murder in their small Massachusetts town.  I especially enjoyed the author's clever ploy of having what looked like typewritten grand jury testimony woven throughout the narrative.  It was also interesting to note the effect the murder charge had on this small, tightly knit family.  As Andy Barber noted at one point, they were already ruined financially regardless of the jury's verdict, and I've never much thought about that; although I am certain it is true.  The accusation itself is enough to irrevocably change your life.  This book truly is a legal thriller, and I must confess that it was good enough to fake me out.  As the reviewer from Publisher's Weekly stated, "...it  surely proves the ancient Greek tragedians were right:  the worst punishment is not death but living with what you - knowingly or unknowingly - have done."   Definitely worth reading.  Check our catalog.

Kathleen M., Administration

 

The Fault in our Stars

Monday, June 25, 2012
John Green

Normally, I would not be interested in a  book about two teen-aged cancer patients who fall into a very sad and ill-fated love.  Who needs that, right?  However, with its clever and raw dialogue, I actually enjoyed this book very much.  I am not particularly emotional (I can't remember the last book that made me cry), but found myself openly weeping during some of the descriptions in this book.  It felt real.  It felt like it could actually happen to people I know.  Not only is this book about dying, it is also about being alive and being in love.  Definitely worth reading.

Kathleen M., Administration

 

11/22/63

Thursday, May 10, 2012
Stephen King

When I heard that Stephen King wrote a book about a time traveler who tries to prevent the Kennedy assasination, I simply couldn't resist.  And I wasn't disappointed.  The book centers around high school English teacher Jake Epping and his discovery of a time portal to the year 1958 in a friend's diner in Maine.  He honors his friend's dying wish that he attempt to prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting Kennedy on 11/22/63.  Jake's travels take him first to Derry, Maine (yep, it's the same fictional setting of King's unbelievably creepy 1986 book It.  I still have nightmares about that one!)  He then heads to Texas where he creates quite a nice little life for himself -much happier, really than his life in 2010 -  until the inevitable climax at the Book Depository and an outcome that changes American history.  One potential downside to this book:  it is LONG.  Over 800 pages.  Stick it out...Stephen King is still a master storyteller and it painted quite an intricate picture of American life in the late 1950's and early '60's, both the positive and the negative.  And did I mention there is unbelievably cool time travel?  Check our catalog.

Kathleen M., Administration

The Art of Fielding

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Chad Harbach

It's true that I love sports stories, but I got more than I bargained for in The Art of Fielding.  It's a baseball book that is actually about friendship and finally figuring out who you are and where you fit in.  And how to start over.  And over.  This is the author's first novel, and I would say he hit a homerun (pun intended) and produced a truly warmhearted and engaging book.  "Henry Skrimshander" the shortstop and flawed hero of the book, may prove to be one of my favorite characters of all time.  I really enjoyed this book.  Check our catalog.

Kathleen M., Administration

    

The Essential Bruce Springsteen (CD)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
More than a few years ago, a movie called Honeymoon in Vegas came out that featured Elvis Presley cover songs throughout.  I bought that soundtrack for one reason:  I wanted to own the version of Viva Las Vegas performed by Bruce Springsteen.  Sadly, that song was not contained on the Honeymoon soundtrack and I was unable to find it.  Until I checked out The Essential Bruce Springsteen - and there it was!  What a kicker!
 
Plus lots of old (and I mean old) favorites: Rosalita, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Hungry Heart - too many to name.  But better than that are the songs contained on the bonus disc.  These are songs you just can find anywhere else - except of course the "B" sides of the old 45's (if you don't know what that means, you're too young to be reading this!).
 

Kathleen M., Administration

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The Cider House Rules

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
John Irving

I have a "love/hate" relationship with John Irving.  I've read several of his books.  I love some (The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany) and I hate some (The Hotel New Hampshire, A Widow for a Year).  Cider House Rules falls into the "love" category.

This is the story of an OB doctor who runs an orphanage and performs abortions on the side ("I deliver babies and I deliver mothers") and the orphan he loves more than all the others, Homer Wells.

If you've never seen the movie version of The Cider House Rules, it's worth checking out.  Michael Caine won the academy award for best supporting actor for his portrayal of William Larch, saint, ether addict and abortionist, as well as an an academy award for John Irving's screenplay.   Toby McQuire does an admirable job of portraying one of my favorite fictional characters, the somewhat sad, but always useful, Homer Wells.

Kathleen M., Administration

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Society

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Aside from absolutely hating the title of this book (waaaay too long), it's quite a lovely story.  Almost too lovely.  I enjoyed reading this book, written entirely as a series of letters, but I was never in a hurry to finish it.  The characters were interesting, but not especially compelling, as they told of life on the British island of Guernsey once occupied by the Nazis.  I would pick it up and continue reading, but never felt compelled to see how it ends.  I did eventually finish it (just this week) and would call it worth reading, most especially a very touching scene concerning the death of one of the characters in a Nazi concentration camp.  I read those particular pages more than once and cried each time.

Kathleen M., Administration

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