Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sorry it's been so long between posts!

I have to remember to post in this blog more often.  I originally planned to post review bi-weekly, so I will try to get back on track.  I have been a bit overextended reading YA and children's books for the Massachusetts Youth Services Review page.  If you have children and/or teens, check out the blog here:  The reviews are written by public and school librarians in Massachusetts.

Right now I am reading 3 books, one is a Young Adult fantasy novel, the other two are advanced reader copies of historical fiction novels.  My brother tells me that this is not normal - to read more than one book at a time, but I cannot help it! There are just so many great books that I want to read!

As a Boston born girl, I especially enjoyed these two novels.  The first is set in the North End of Boston, where I was the Branch Librarian, and only librarian, for 4 years.  This was a great place to work.  At the time, the neighborhood was still filled with Italian families, but there was also an influx of young working couples who liked the location to downtown.  The branch library was right on the Freedom Trail, so we were able to meet lots of tourists as well. The library had an indoor garden and spring would bring the gardenia plant to bloom - filling the library with its perfume!  We had a guest library cat, who would climb a tree and pop through my open office window to enjoy the sun in the garden.  A unique part of the library is a scale model of the Ducal Palace in Venice.  I loved being able to visit the local butchers, bakeries and restaurants.  At lunch, I could also stroll down to the waterfront or shop in Faneuil Hall. If you are ever in the North End, be sure to stop by this lovely branch.  Be sure to read The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, too!

This Boston girl loved The Boston Girl! 85 year-old Addie Baum looks back on her life to explain to her granddaughter "How I got to be the woman I am today." The novel tells the story of the beginning of the 20th century through the life of one Jewish girl growing up in Boston's North End. Addie refuses to give in to conventions and expectations, so she attends high school for a while and becomes involved in the Salem Street Settlement House's Saturday Club. The other girls in her group become lifelong friends as they all take different paths to modern womanhood. Through Addie, we experience life in a tenement, the 1918 flu epidemic, WWI, the depression and WWII. Addie is a strong character who embraces all the new century had to offer women. The historical details come to life through Addie and her intelligence, humor and determination. Highly recommended!

The next Boston-based book is set in Charlestown.  Lisa Genova is the author of Still Alice, for which Julianne Moore just won an Oscar. The dvd of Still Alice will be available next week.  Lisa Genova has a real talent for portraying the effects of brain disease on families, without being morbid.  I highly recommend her books, if you havent tried one yet.

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Joe O'Brien is a Boston police officer who has lived all his life in Charlestown. He married his high school sweetheart, bought a triple decker and raised 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls now in their 20's. But his perfect life is about to come crashing down with a diagnosis of Huntington's Disease. We experience the story through two narrators - Joe and his 21 year-old youngest daughter, Katie. Joe's diagnosis effects all of his children as they each have a 50% chance of having the hereditary disease. As Joe is learning to deal with his incurable, progressive disease, his children must decide whether they want to take the blood test that will let them know their own fates. Katie struggles with the decision as she finds out the results of 2 of her siblings. Is it better to know or not know? The book does not answer all of our questions, but it gives us so much to think about regarding life, love and family. 

Well, that ends my Boston edition of this blog.  Enjoy the warm weather and stop back soon!