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Deb Messling
I'm a librarian in a small public library. When I speak about library issues, I speak for myself, not my employer.
Recent Activity
Aw, Backman, I love you, but this “novella” (really a longish short story) is pretty thin soup. It’s about the stereotypical Rich Guy who has neglected his family in pursuit of his business, and now regrets his choices after he gets cancer. The deal he makes is with death, or... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
I’m really sorry to have to pan a book that so many people love. It’s been on my to-read list for decades. I was in the mood for a big, soapy pleasure read, and this book was surely big and soapy, but hardly a pleasure. Now, I should have been... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
Being a big Joni Mitchell fan, I was eager to read this new biography (or "portrait," as it is deemed), and it was an interesting read, but ultimately still short of the definitive study we are looking for. Yaffe organizes the book roughly according to albums, and his analysis of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
The Fireman is set in a post-apocalyptic America where a mysterious spore causes people to grow a rash called “dragon scale” – so called because victims end up spontaneously combusting. The hero of the book is a nurse, Harper Willows, who after being infected with dragon scale escapes from her... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
I have not read Susan Hill’s mysteries, but her ghost stories are fun. Atmospheric, eerie, creepy, very Algernon Blackwood-ish. This slim novel tells the story of orphan James Monmouth, who has spent his adult life traveling and has become obsessed with another global traveler, Conrad Vane. He decides to write... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
Claire Messud is a master of characterization. No, you don’t necessarily want to be friends with her characters, but you can’t stop reading about them. This book portrays beautifully the breakdown of friendship that so often happens when girl besties hit puberty. Julia is sad and mystified when her best... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
I haven’t read Doctorow in a long time, but always enjoyed him. Like many of his books, it is a fictional takeoff on real-life events and people, in this case the reclusive Collyer brothers who turned their Manhattan brownstone into a squalid hoarders’ nest. The book is narrated by blind... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
Eleanor Flood is a Seattle cartoonist who created a beloved animated television show. Her husband Joe is doctor for sports team, and she suspects he is having an affair. She is "writing a memoir" but never opens her mail so doesn't know her agent left the business and her contract... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
My classic book club read this book as an example of the SF genre, but it is really more accurately described as historical fantasy. It uses the conceit of time travel to examine the world of American slavery, as Dana from 1976 travels to early 1800s Maryland to save life... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
This is the much heralded memoir of a Yale Law School graduate who came from Kentucky "hillbilly" stock but was mostly raised in rust-belt Ohio. His mother was a drug addict who ran through a succession of men; His "mamaw" was more nurturing but hotheaded and sometimes violent. Vance talks... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
I was crazy about Tremblay's last one, A Head Full of Ghosts. His new book is not as wickedly entertaining, but as it got going it was a page-turner. The subject is somber: the disappearance of a young boy. Tommy Sanderson goes missing in Borderland Park after hanging out with... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
Anne Tyler falters badly in this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, in which Kate, a socially awkward woman is pressured by her scientist father to marry his immigrant lab assistant for the sake of the green card. Despite feeling deeply hurt by her father's callousness toward her, she... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
Godwin tries her hand at a ghost story here, although the metaphorical ghosts of family overshadow the actual supernatural presence. After the death of his mother, 11-year-old Marcus has gone to live in a ramshackle beach house with his great aunt Charlotte, an eccentric, alcoholic artist. He arrives there in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
I never thought I would write a review that would include the sentence “The fetus sounded somewhat pretentious.” This slim novel is an astute character study of despicable people. Trudy, nine months pregnant, is cheating on her poet husband John with his brother, Claude. The pair decide it would be... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
I adored Simonson’s first book, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. When I started this one, set in Rye, England just before the Great War, I was very disappointed, because it seemed too leisurely paced (euphemism for “when the hell is something going to happen?” ) Well, eventually, lots of stuff happened,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
First off, let me say I’ve always been a huge fan of English folk-rock, so this book about a group of English folkies at a haunted house held a charm for me from the get –go: which character is the fake Richard Thompson, which one is Nick Drake, which one... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
The unnamed narrator of this stream-of-consciousness novel must raise thousands of dollars in a short time to pay his children’s private school tuition and put money down on a new apartment. His excruciatingly WASP-y wife is away with their kids for the summer, visiting her mother whom the narrator dislikes.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
Writers Clare and Jeff Martin move from the city to the Hudson Valley hoping that a change of scenery will rejuvenate Jeff’s one-hit-wonder writing career. They land a gig working as a caretaker at the crumbling mansion of Jeff’s old college professor. Uh oh. Caretakers of crumbling mansions usually have... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
I mostly loved this subdued, naturalistic coming of age story, set on a small farm in a hardscrabble town in Pennsylvania that is on the verge of being flooded by a dam project. The narrator and main character is Mimi, a plucky and intelligent kid whose no-nonsense mother Miriam wants... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
This book made a lot of 10-best lists for 2016 – not just best mysteries but best novels. It reintroduces the story line of corruption in the Sûreté du Québec, as Armand Gamache is named the new head of the Sûreté Academy. Gamache believes that that the bad old guard... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
Sammie is an unemployed reporter who once covered Jacky Seever, a serial killer on death row. She got a lot of material for her stories by sleeping with police officer Paul Hoskins, who is still somewhat hung up on her. After copycat killings start, she is invited to write for... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
This was a book club selection that I certainly didn’t expect to like, about astronaut, botanist and engineer Mark Watney, whose crew accidentally leaves him behind on Mars. As NASA frantically tries to arrange a rescue, Mark survives by planting potatoes and doing all kinds of creative things with his... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
The basis for Helen Mirren vehicle Woman in Gold, this book recounts the story of Gustav Klimt’s renowned portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, stolen by the Nazis who obscured Adele’s Jewish identity. Decades later, Adele’s niece Maria filed a lawsuit to get that and other paintings returned to the family. It... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
Harold Fry’s highly unlikely pilgrimage is a 500-kilometer walk to visit Queenie, an old work mate who wrote him a letter telling him she was in hospice. He sets out impulsively, in bad shoes and with no other equipment, convinced that his walking will keep Queenie alive. His quest is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)
I picked up this book through the emails I get from BookBub, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a perfectly crafted little novel, set in England, which tells the story of how a random accident changes the life of a little boy. Byron’s mother, an ex-actress in a troubled... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Book-Book (Read It)