Blog Posts by Lucy S

Posted by Lucy S on 06/04/18
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The economy is fragile and the employees within the Human Resources Department of Ellery Consumer Research are feeling the effects. Someone has been fired and some may not be performing up to their ability but the department manager’s loyalty to her staff is never in question. This Could Hurt is less about the work these individuals are tasked with doing and more about human interaction and personalities.
 
When a traumatic event occurs, everyone in the department must decide what they are willing to do – follow in the footsteps of their mentor or step aside. To what lengths will they go?
 

Anyone who has worked in a large corporate environment or even any work environment may recognize elements of these characters’ behavior. Some instances might make you smile such as when you read about a secret office hideaway equipped with a few spare necessities on an empty floor or when you can cheer someone making a stand against stereotyped bias.

 
Author Jillian Medoff has captured a snapshot of a workplace filled with good dialogue, acts of friendship and compassion along with some flawed moves and decisions.
 

The audiobook version has a full cast that enhances each character’s narrative.

 
 
Fiction
Posted by Lucy S on 05/12/18
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This delightful little book is an ode to bookstores and to an old-fashioned method of communication. Michael and Hilary, a husband and wife team, opened an independent bookstore in 2013. On the shop’s opening day, the couple set out a manual, non-electric, carriage-return style typewriter loaded with a sheaf of paper. Soon, the clacking sound of the keys striking the platen could be heard.

Notes From a Public Typewriter is a collection of the comments left behind by customers. Some were gibberish, but among the remarks are maxims, whimsies, playful notes, somber expositions, edgy witticisms, sharp observations, random thoughts, anonymous musings and heartfelt reflections.

This book will appeal to those who learned how to type on a manual typewriter (and know what the term “return” means) and to those looking for a feel-good quick, light read.
Posted by Lucy S on 04/19/18
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Impressed by author/poet Rudy Francisco when I recently saw him perform on a television talk show, I immediately sought out a print edition of his work. At only 95 pages long, Helium exhibits a lot of impact in a spare amount of words. It is an observation of life, of what he sees around him and of what he has personally experienced. Some topics are painful, some are humorous, some I can relate to, and some I gained insight into a different perspective. Helium is a showcase of words and language.

I recommend this title for those who like poetry and may be looking for a new voice or for someone who might like to try reading poetry again with a smaller work in honor of National Poetry Month. 
Posted by Lucy S on 03/08/18
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Rebirth is a novel of reconciliation and forgiveness. The book is not a memoir but is inspired by author Kamal Ravikant’s own experiences.
 
Amit is a young man who feels adrift after his estranged father dies. After fulfilling his father’s last wish to take his ashes to India, Amit takes some time away from work.

Troubled, Amit decides to walk the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. This has been a trail for pilgrims since medieval times. One definition of pilgrim is one who journeys in foreign lands, a wayfarer. The route stretches over 500 miles and comes together at the tomb of St. James. Amit walks alone and with others he meets on the trail; almost all of them are trying to heal or to get away from life as it is.
 
I found this book inspiring as the people on the trail are actively seeking to come to grips with grief, to better understand themselves, to forgive, to find answers and to learn. At only 230 pages long, it is a quick read and, I think, can appeal to any reader. No need to be religious to gain insight from the book.
 

Those who read Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel may also enjoy Rebirth.

 
Posted by Lucy S on 02/21/18
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Yejide is a woman planning to travel back home to attend her father-in-law’s funeral. The story quickly jumps back to the time when Yejide and Akin are a newly married couple desperate to have children. Yejide is crushed when Akin’s family foists a new wife into their lives—in this story, this is permitted in Nigerian culture. Yejide herself grew up with four step-mothers but does not want to continue this tradition. Unsettling twists and turns reveal themselves when the chapters shift points of view for each main character. No one is quite as they seem and each are complicit in ways I did not expect.

Debut novelist Ayobami Adebayo has written a book about a family that covers multiple issues and a wide range of emotions: happiness, grief, hope, anguish, deception, naivety, loss, loneliness, mourning, compassion and new beginnings. Read Stay with Me if you would like a glimpse into another culture’s customs and discover that love and family are universal desires.
 
Stay with Me was shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and has a very satisfying, deserving conclusion.
Posted by Lucy S on 01/22/18
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The day after a woman has been mugged outside of her apartment building, Laurent is on his way to work when he finds an expensive handbag lying on top of a trash bin, minus its wallet. When he tries to turn it in at the police station, it is too busy for him to wait so he decides to take it home.

Determined to reunite the purse to its rightful owner Laurent sifts through the contents and finds a red notebook that only divulges her first name, Laure. Once Laurent realizes that he has crossed a line of privacy and propriety after he discovers where she lives, he retreats. Nevertheless, this is not the end of the story.

At only 189 pages, author Antoine Laurain's The Red Notebook is an enjoyable, charming, quick read; an account about how a brief moment of time can shift ordinary lives, leaving a door open to the future when these two main characters’ lives converge.

The book is set in France and translated from French into English.
Fiction
Posted by Lucy S on 11/16/17
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This is a peculiar story about a woman who has been gifted a tantalizing sourdough starter by two brothers who ran a delicious but illegal restaurant out of their home kitchen. Starter is a living thing and this one makes sounds as it ferments and gurgles in an almost melodic tone with a hint of gleaming light emanating from the brew. Each time the bread bakes a distinctive face appears on its crust. In her day job, Lois is a software engineer who programs robotic machinery and is now compelled to bake.
 
Veering away from the breadline, the book also brings up issues of following your own path in life, being creative, exploring the relationships you make and finding satisfaction in the work that you do.
 

An enjoyable, wholesome, quick read that just might make you hungry. Fans of author Robin Sloan’s earlier novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store and Brian Doyles’ Chicago will enjoy reading Sourdough.

 
Fiction
Posted by Lucy S on 10/11/17
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Lorena Hickok (a.k.a. Hick) was a self-made woman. She became the first woman reporter for the Associated Press (AP) in New York shortly after women earned the right to vote. In 1932 Hick began a friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt when she reported on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s campaign for president. After the election, Hick accompanied Eleanor on many trips and was a frequent guest in the White House. Media-savvy, Hick encouraged her to become the first presidential First Lady to hold regular press conferences for an audience of women reporters and to write a newspaper column expressing her own views.
 
Hick soon found herself breaking the AP’s cardinal rule to stay out of the story. She got too close to the Roosevelts to remain objective. She left her AP job to work as an investigative reporter for FERA, the Federal Emergency Relief Act, at the height of the Great Depression. The deplorable conditions Hick saw across America affected her greatly. Again, unable to stay out of the story she enlisted the aid of Eleanor to try to bring assistance.
 
At times, author Susan Albert Wittig’s novel, Loving Eleanor, reads more like a recitation of facts but these two women lived in a rapidly changing world. Through the years, they kept in touch via letters. It is through these letters that a picture emerges that suggests they were more than friends. The extent of their relationship is still of some dispute. Whether it was an intimate relationship or an extremely loyal friendship almost seems too private to pry into.
 
The reporter and the reluctant First Lady’s friendship lasted for the rest of their lives. I most enjoyed reading about their many accomplishments, their enduring companionship, their compassion and tolerance. A woman of privilege who became a social activist and a small-town woman of humble origins who paved her own way.
 
Posted by Lucy S on 09/16/17
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Shtum – adjective – silent; non-communicative. Ben and Emma are the parents of a profoundly autistic boy, Jonah. The story shows a very human, hard-hitting and realistic side of a married relationship that may not have been that strong even in the beginning, deteriorate when faced with the daily unceasing challenges they face in caring for Jonah. There is denial, self-pity, self-medicating that goes on within the parents’ lives. In a misguided attempt to get better care for Jonah in a residential placement, the parents separate. Jonah and his father move in with the grandfather, Georg. The grandfather sees more than Ben gives him credit for and connects with Jonah more deeply. Seeing his father interact with Jonah, Ben learns that words aren’t the only way to communicate.

Shtum is a touching look inside one family contending with an issue with no easy answers. Jem Lester, the author, has personal experience with autism with his own child. This gives the novel a more believable viewpoint for those of us who have little knowledge of autism.
Fiction
Posted by Lucy S on 08/14/17
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Helen Watt is a professor at a prestigious London university.  A former student reaches out to Helen for her expertise after a trove of papers has been uncovered during his historic home’s renovation. As soon as Helen sees this repository in person, she realizes its potential value. She allows herself to hold one of the pages dated autumn 1657 in her trembling hands recognizing that it was written in the early days of the readmission of Jewish people to England. Once her university obtains the entire collection she begins the translation work paired with a brilliant but brash young American post-graduate student, Aaron Levy.
 
As Helen and Aaron work on the translations, they discover that the scribe is a woman. This is unheard of in the 17th century when education is limited and women’s lives are dictated by social status. They call her Aleph until they find out her real name. Unfolding in a dual time-line format, we come to see how the scribe comes to live in England after Rabbi HaCoen Mendes rescues her and her brother having been orphaned in Portugal, how her life plays out and how she struggles against society’s expectations of her. She encounters threats against the freedom she has, loss, poverty, the Great Plague, the Great London Fire. In the meantime, Helen and Aaron continue their race to decipher the papers while another team of researchers competes with them to see who will publish their findings first.
 
Author Rachel Kadish has succeeded in creating an engrossing story that is carefully constructed, complex with many layers both in the historical timeline and in the modern one. Elements of history amid personal plight. The right amount of information is revealed at a time to entice the reader to find out more. This is a richly worded and detailed novel. Do not be dissuaded by the length of its pages; I hardly noticed it.
 
One of my favorite quotes from the book and from which, I imagine, the title of the book is derived is on page 196 “. . . for my hands would never again turn the page of a book, nor be stained with the sweet, grave weight of Ink, a thing I had loved since first memory”.
 
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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;
 
  • content that is abusive, discriminatory or hateful on account of race, national origin, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation;
 
  • content that contains threats, personal attacks, or harassment;
 
  • content that contains solicitations or advertisements;
 
  • content that is invasive of another person’s privacy;
 
  • content that is unrelated to the discussion or venue in which it is posted;
 
  • content that is in violation of the Library’s Code of Conduct or any other Library policy