The three Andreas sisters, Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean), and Cordelia (Cordy) grew up like no other sisters you have ever met in The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.   Their father, a college professor who speaks to them the majority of the time by rattling off Shakespearean quotes, instilled a love of books in his three daughters.

Raised in the college town of Barnwell, Ohio, the sister’s lives took dramatically different directions after leaving their childhood home.  Their lives are as different as their personalities and although they are sisters, they realize that they truly love each other, but actually don’t like each other that much.  The three reunite back in Barnwell for a variety of reasons, most importantly, their mother’s battle with cancer.

In addition to their mother’s illness, each of the Andreas sisters has their own personal struggle to deal with whether it be running away from their past lives or struggling with their future and its choices.  The engaging characters and witty dialogue make The Weird Sisters a treat to read.  You will find yourself immersed in the lives of the sisters as a member of the Andreas family and you will find yourself caught up in their triumphs and in their failures.

Although Philosophy often intimidates me, I have to be honest, and say that I never have taken the Philosophers too seriously. This most likely stems from my Introduction to Philosophy course in college where my professor spoke constantly of driving his Porsche, ended every sentence with “and I have written a paper about that so see me after class if you would like a copy…” and did not appreciate my brilliant final essay that featured a conversation between myself and a Philosopher-like character who frequently declared “and I have written a paper about that so see me after class if you would like a copy.” (He apparently did take Philosophers, and himself, very seriously…)

So I was very excited when I discovered Great Philosophers who Failed at Love by local author, Andrew Shaffer–now whenever a Philosopher evilly asks me about Dualism just to see me squirm, I can just casually lean against a door frame and reply “Nevermind that, so how is your love life?” Because, judging by the love lives of the Philosophers included in Shaffer’s book, they won’t be able to resist changing the subject to their scandalous romantic escapades. Just how saucy are these philosophers? Here are a few examples:

♥ French Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau apparently enjoyed flashing.

♥ Ann Rand dedicated her masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged, to both her husband and her lover…but then had her lover’s name removed when she found out he was cheating on her (with a woman other than his wife).

♥ French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre liked to call himself a “literary Don Juan” and, at the age of 74, remarked to one of his lady friends that he was currently dating nine women (not counting his long-time lover, Sylvie Le Bon and her girlfriend, of course)!

Wowza!

Although all the tawdry details kept me turning the pages, it is Shaffer’s snarky comments that truly make this quick read absolutely delightful. And the text is printed in navy blue which was super neat and lovely to read.

I highly recommend Great Philosophers who Failed at Love as well Shaffer’s multiple other personalities found here: www.orderofstandrew.com
and here: www.evilreads.com
and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-shaffer
and here: http://twitter.com/andrewtshaffer
and a few other places as well.

Years ago, some Davenport Public  librarians saved one of the last of the library’s typewriters from the auction pile. It has been in steady use ever since – for forms, envelopes and for those who  apparently just like to type!

Library formats  and databases have come and gone;  but the little-typewriter-that-could remains in the corner of the Main library’s first floor.

A New York Times article, “Click, Clack, Ding! Sigh…” describes a movement of typewriter enthusiasts who “appreciate tangibility, the object-ness of things.” Advantages include the timelessness of the machine, “unlike laptops and smartphones, which become obsolete the moment they hit the market.” In contrast to these delicate devices,” old  typewriters are built like battleships ” and are easy to repair.

They also serve to focus a writer on writing; there’s only one thing you can do on a typewriter. You can’t have several windows open – multitasking on Facebook, email and Twitter.

So, bring the kids and grandkids by the Main library to see an actual, working typewriter. They’ll be amazed.

I’m really looking forward to listening to Moby’s latest effort, Destroyed.   In fact, I like the guy more every time I read something about him.

It’s hard to encapsulate what he does,  since as a multi-instrumentalist with electronic roots, he’s switched styles so many times over the years.

Obligatory Moby facts:

– He’s the great-grandson of Herman Melville, hence the chosen stage name.

– The deluxe version of the new album comes with a book of his photographs

– Until recently, he discretely waited tables at a small restaurant just because he liked to

– Didn’t use to lock his doors until he discovered a youth under the influence wandered into his living room.  He gave the young man a sweatshirt and ten dollars for breakfast.

Check out Destroyed and our other new releases at Davenport Public Library.  Fresh albums are starting to pick back up again with the warm weather.

 

Here are some new books that should tie-in well with Mother’s Day.  After reading the reviews, I know I’m looking forward to reading both of these titles.

In Daughters-in-Law, author Joanna Trollope explores how Rachel’s life has changed since her three sons have grown up and married.  Once accustomed to being the center of her family, she now finds her position as matriarch slipping away.  She also realizes that other women — the daughters-in-law — are now the main focus in her children’s lives and it’s a bit disconcerting.  Will she be able to find a way to still preserve the relationships she’s held dear for so long?

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin received a starred review in Library Journal, which declared that it “should be one of this year’s most deserving bestsellers.”  Basically, the story concerns a family’s search for their mother, who has gone missing in a crowded Seoul subway station.  In probable fashion, the children argue over how best to find her, while her husband returns to their country home in hopes she’ll return there.  Meanwhile, each recalls their own memories of her and wonder if they have lived up to her expectations.  The book concludes with Mom’s own version of the story, and the reader learns what really happened that day.  Sound intriguing?  Check it out and have a Happy Mother’s Day!

Confession:  I am majorly geeking out over George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.  I just finished the first book in the series, called A Game of Thrones, and even though it is very long and very intense, all I want to do is start reading the next book!  I’m really not sure how to briefly summarize a nearly 900 page book in a way that will make sense, but here goes nothing.

In the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, seasons can last for decades, and a long period of summer is about to end and lead into winter.  Lord Eddard Stark has just been paid a visit by the King of the Seven Kingdoms with a request:  he would like Eddard to come to King’s Landing and take a new position as the Hand of the King (sort of a second-in-command).  Though reluctant, Eddard accepts so that he can go to King’s Landing and investigate the death of the previous Hand, his good friend Jon Arryn.   The story involves a lot of mystery and intrigue, as well as romance, violence, adventure, action, direwolves, and swordplay.

The story is told in alternating viewpoints, so the reader gets to hear not just Eddard’s viewpoint, but also those of his illegitimate son Jon Snow, the queen’s sharp-tongued dwarf brother Tyrion, Eddard’s wife Catelyn, their willful daughter Arya, and more.  My favorite character, however, has to be Daenerys Targaryen.  She and her brother are the rightful heirs to the throne, but they have been in hiding ever since the current King usurped the throne from their father.  Daenerys (or Dany) starts off as a meek young girl succumbing to her brother’s every temper-fueled demand, but grows stronger and more confident as the book progresses.  I love seeing her transformation and am eager to find out what happens to her next.

My little summary is really just the tip of the iceberg.  There’s a lot going on in this book, and it’s all done with fantastic world building and engaging character development.  I’m pretty eager to pick up the next book, called A Clash of Kings.  Plus, HBO just made the book into a series, but I haven’t been able to watch it because I unfortunately don’t get that channel.   Have YOU watched the show, and if so, how is it?  Does it live up to the book?

I really wanted to read this book, but I kept putting it back on the shelf.  At nearly 1000 pages (985 to be exact) I knew I could read three books in the same time it would take me to finish just this one.  I shouldn’t have waited.  Turns out, it really was a pretty quick read — but that’s because I hardly ever put it down!

Fall of Giants isn’t Ken Follett’s first historical fiction book, nor will it be his last.  Readers will no doubt remember his Pillars of the Earth, which was an Oprah Book Club choice, plus its sequel, World Without End. And of course, this title is just the first in a planned Century trilogy.   But let’s get to the book.  It covers five families — Welsh, Russian, German, American and English.  Some are wealthy aristocrats, like the Fitzhuberts, and others, like Billy Williams and his sister Ethel, are on the opposite end of the socio-economic scale.  Rounding out this mix are the orphaned Peshkov brothers in Russia, an American lawyer working in the White House, and, oh yes, a German spy.  So you see, there’s a little something for everyone –political intrigue, scintillating sex and romance, and some action-packed battle scenes.  Plus the multiple story lines (arranged chronologically) keeps you turning those pages.

What’s most intriguing is how the lives of all these diverse characters somehow logically interconnect.  Though I’m certainly no expert on the World War I era (the book spans the years 1911 to 1924) I was familiar enough to recognize that Follett had meticulously researched this tome, and his inclusion of real historical figures, such as Winston Churchill, seems to enhance it’s believability.  Believe me, even if you think you don’t, you really do have time to read this book.

No, it’s not a neat hybrid of Hoarders and Extreme Couponing, but merely an impression after viewing a piece of an episode of the latter.

Widely-renowned and nationally-syndicated consumer savings columnist Jill Cataldo broke apart a recent episode of the TLC hit with Zapruder-like detail to reveal what fundamentally is theft, your perception depending on the plumb of your ethical barometer.

Far be it for me to not want a great deal or occasionally sneak one past the goalie.  There’s also the “everyone else is doing it” defense, or the “system allowed it, so it’s fair game.”   I’m very familiar.  A practitioner, in fact.  And honestly, why does a grocery’s UPC system treat all code families from certain product manufacturers as interchangeable?  I don’t know, and none of us can expect a checker to parse through 4 carts of items for validity.  On an off-note, who would pull a stunt like this in public without wanting to go take a long hot shower for want of feeling like such a sleaze?

But, it stands to reason that when you game the system for $1800 worth of merchandise for $100, there’s no down-on-her-luck-plucky determinism origin story that can explain away why the suburban mom needed sixty bottles of yellow mustard to sit on a heavy duty rack in the garage.  You aren’t going to make that much potato salad.  There’s some kind of pathology here.

It’s easy to do because of the remoteness of the nameless, faceless victim.  Guess who it’s not?  It’s not the manufacturer, or even the store.  Its the saps that have to help eat that loss.   The rest of us with a semblance of decorum.

In other news, the show also features “extreme” Nathan Engles, who rather than counting and hoarding groceries, puts together care packages for military families.  Very cool.

Earthquake in the Heartland hits the closest to home. This History Channel show focuses on the New Madrid fault in Missouri that threatens the midwest and southeast. In 1811 and 12, an earthquake actually caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards. There were multiple tremors that probably reached 8 on the Richter scale.

Earthquake Storms is a Discovery Channel program that addresses the tendency toward multiple earthquakes occurring in a short period of time, in particular the effect this would have on a large city.

Nature Unleashed: Earthquake /Avalanche The first movie in this set  turns out to be  timely. An American engineer goes to Russia to inspect a nuclear power plant. While he’s there, a huge earthquake occurs that cripples the plant and threatens a meltdown. The engineer and  his ex-wife who works at the facility race to save their daughter who is caught in a subway. As part of the disaster movie genre, it’s not bad.