August 2nd

Soul Surfer – AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid

Teen surfer Bethany Hamilton loses her arm in a shark attack and courageously overcomes all odds to become a champion again, through her sheer determination and unwavering faith.  rated PG


Rio – Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway

A comedy-adventure that centers on Blu, a flightless macaw who acts more human than bird. When Blu, the last of his kind, discovers there’s another, and that she’s a she, he embarks on an adventure to magical Rio. There he meets Jewel and a menagerie of vivid characters who help Blu fulfill his dream and learn to fly. rated G

August 9th

Paul – Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman

Two sci-fi geeks take a pilgrimage to America’s UFO heartland. There they meet a smart-aleck alien, Paul, who takes them on an insane road trip. As they struggle to return Paul home, the little green man might just take the outcasts from misfits to intergalactic heroes. rated R


Jumping the Broom – Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine

On a weekend wedding in Martha’s Vineyard, two African-American families from divergent socioeconomic backgrounds clash during their first meeting before the big event. rated PG-13



August 16th

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil – Glenn Glose, Martin Short

Red is training with a mysterious covert group called the Sisters of the Hood. But she is forced to cut her training short when she gets an urgent call from Nicky Flippers, the head of the super secret Happily Ever After Agency. A wicked witch has abducted two innocent children, Hansel and Gretel, and Nicky needs the whole Hoodwinked gang, Red, Granny, the ever-clueless Wolf, and his over-caffeinated little partner, Twitchy, for the search and rescue mission. rated PG

Jane Eyre (2011) – Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender

When orphaned governess Jane Eyre arrives at imposing Thornfield Hall, she’s intrigued by her brooding, wealthy employer, Rochester. His dark moods and the strange occurrences in the house lead her to discover a terrible secret that he had hoped to hide from her forever. rated PG-13


August 23rd

Win, Win – Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan

Mike Flaherty is a lovable yet long-suffering lawyer and high school wrestling coach. When he comes across a teenage runaway who also happens to be a champion wrestler, Mike’s luck turns around in spectacular fashion. But his win-win situation soon becomes more complicated than he ever imagined when the boy’s family affairs come into play. rated R

August 30th

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family – Tyler Perry, Loretta Devine

Madea, everyone’s favorite wise-cracking, take-no-prisoners grandma, jumps into action when her niece, Shirley, receives distressing news about her health. All Shirley wants is to gather her three adult children around her and share the news as a family. It’s up to Madea, with the help of the equally rambunctious Aunt Bam, to gather the clan together and make things right the only way she knows how: with a lot of tough love, laughter, and the revelation of a long-buried family secret.


After a six year wait, George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons was finally released earlier this month.  Knowing the pace at which Mr. Martin tends to write, we’re in for a long wait until the sixth installment in this epic fantasy series is published.  While you’re waiting, here are some other series you might be interested in:

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time is the first series that is always suggested to me when I’m looking for A Song of Ice and Fire read-alikes.  Starting with the first book, called The Eye of the World, the story involves magic, an epic quest, battles, and adventure.

Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy, starting with Assassin’s Apprentice, is a medieval political saga much like A Song of Ice and Fire, and it even includes an illegitimate son character a la Jon Snow.

Gregory Keyes’ new series, Kingdom of Thorn and Bone, starts with The Briar King.  Like A Song of Ice and Fire, it also has multiple character viewpoints and struggles for the throne.

And if you’re up for something a little less gritty but still tells an epic fantasy tale with fantastic world building, J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series is always enjoyable no matter how many times you’ve read it.  If you’ve never read them before, start with The Fellowship of the Ring, then The Two Towers (my personal favorite), and finally The Return of the King.  It’s next on my re-read list!

I just finished reading a five book series that totals over 5,000 pages, so I decided it was time to take on something a little lighter.  There are a few books from my childhood that even as an adult I find myself going back to often.  The Giver by Lois Lowry is still a book that I mark among my favorites.  If you’ve never read it, it’s a story about a boy named Jonas who lives in a futuristic society where everything is under strict control in order to promote “Sameness”.  Your jobs and spouses are chosen for you, people don’t really have emotions, and they no one can even see colors.  Even though it’s a great book to read as a kid, I love it more reading it as an adult because I can see the deeper meaning behind the story.  I also recently re-read a book that I haven’t touched since I was too young to remember, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.  In this sci-fi/fantasy novel, Meg’s scientist father goes missing, and as she enlists a cast of unique characters in order to find him, she discovers that his work will take her to places she never imagined.

A few days ago I realized that, shockingly enough, I never got around to reading Katherine Paterson’s Newbery winning novel Bridge to Terabithia when I was a kid.  It’s about a boy and girl in the fifth grade who are sort of outsiders, but they form a close friendship through their creation of a mythical land called Terabithia.  It was a really quick read, but it’s powerful and packs an emotional punch in the end.  Fans of the Narnia series will enjoy the made-up land of Terabithia, while fans of more realistic fiction will enjoy the friendship between Jesse and Leslie and seeing how much Jesse grows as a person because of Leslie.  There’s a good chance that I’ll be revisiting this one in the future.

Do you have any books from your childhood that you revisit often?  Or any children’s classics that you regret never reading?

It may be 100 billion degrees outside at the moment, but Chrismas is just six months away! If you’re a crafter and plan to make gifts for friends and family this year (and those are the best gifts by far), then you know you need to get started now – if you haven’t already. Here are some new craft books to inspire you.

Fa La La La Felt: 45 Handmade Holiday Decorations by Amanda Carestio

The Feisty Stitcher: Sewing Projects with Attitude by Susan Wasinger

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts by Martha Stewart

30-Minute Necklaces: 60 Quick and Creative Projects for Jewelers by Marthe LeVan

Making Handmade Books: 100 Plus Bindings, Structures and Forms by Alisa Golden



Christina Haag, childhood friend and later longtime girlfriend of John F. Kennedy, Jr. has written a moving and beautiful memoir of her years with him, Come to the Edge, which chronicles their lives from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

After meeting him as a young girl as one member of a large circle of friends in New York City, Christina Haag becomes a close friend and confidant of John throughout their high school and later college days.  After high school they both attend Brown University and learn that they share a love of theater both at Brown and later in New York City, where they return after graduation.  After starring together in an off-Broadway play, he confesses his love for her and they embark on a five year romance.  Her memoir tells of the human and personal side of their relationship that was far removed from the prying eye of the public.

She tells of their group dinners while roommates in college, trips to Cumberland Island in Georgia, their near death experience kayaking in Jamaica and of their normal, everyday life in New York.  Her recollection of a man who lived his life on the edge is poignant and reflective.  This is both a completely satisfying and heartbreaking memoir that tells the tale of  love, loss and what could have been.

Summer is here at last which means it’s the perfect time to grill. Looking for some inspiration for something a little more interesting than burgers and bratz? Check out some of the new grilling books at the Davenport Library!

Latin Grilling by Lourdes Castro – From the steamy jungles of the Yucatán to the verdant valleys along the Andes, Latin Grilling goes beyond typical barbecue fare and familiar Mexican and Tex-Mex standards to present more than 90 recipes that showcase the diversity of Latin American cooking. Acclaimed cooking teacher Lourdes Castro takes you on a culinary tour of the Americas with ten fiestas featuring authentic Latin flavors tailored for home cooking and backyard grilling.

The Japanese Grill by Tadashi Ono – Packed with fast-and-easy recipes, versatile marinades, and step-by-step techniques, The Japanese Grill will have you grilling amazing steaks, pork chops, salmon, tomatoes, and whole chicken, as well as traditional favorites like yakitori, yaki onigiri, and whole salt-packed fish.

Deen Bros Get Fired Up by Jamie Deen – Over 125 recipes for the beginner to the expert, The Deen Brothers offer something for everyone. There’s lots of basics to get you started, with plenty of fresh new twists to keep things interesting, all served up with lots of Southern flavor.

The bestselling author of Sarah’s Key, Tatina de Rosnay, has written another winner.  A Secret Kept literally keeps the reader in suspense, wondering if the secret will ever be totally revealed.

Antoine takes his sister Melanie on a 40th birthday trip to  Noirmoutier Island, a lovely place where they had spent several enjoyable summers as children.   But something about the island also brings back troubling memories for Melanie.  On the return trip home, just as Melanie is about to reveal her fears to Antoine, she loses control of the car.  The book opens with Antoine waiting anxiously in a hospital waiting room, wondering if Melanie will even survive.

Antoine finds himself confronting not only his past, but his present family relationships as well.  Unhappy since his divorce just a year ago, he has difficulty communicating with his children and he has always felt distanced from his father.  He senses the secret revolves around his mother, and he wonders about her sudden death so many years ago.

I really enjoyed this book.  The tension is kept sufficiently tight, and the character development, realistic.  Plus, if you’re a francophile, you’ll appreciate some of the many French references! Incidentally, the author was recently named one of the top ten fiction writers in Europe.

I was a teenager myself when Ann Brashares released her first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book.  If you’ve never read them before, they’re a pretty fun set of novels geared towards teens.  The series centers around four girls who have been friends since bith.  When they’re in high school, they go out shopping one day and discover a pair of seemingly magical pants that fit all four of them, despite their very different body types.  The girls have to spend the summer apart, so they ship the pants to each other as a way to keep in touch.  The first four books find the girls falling in love, getting into college, struggling with their families, and most of all sticking together through thick and thin.  I devoured all four books and found myself pretty attached to Lena, Bridget, Carmen, and Tibby by the end of the fourth book, not really wanting to part with them just yet.

So imagine my delight when, ten years after that first book, I find out that Ann Brashares has written a fifth book about the girls titled Sisterhood Everlasting.  This time, they are in their late 20s and are experiencing life as adults.  Carmen is an actress living in New York City, Lena is teaching art classes at RISD, Tibby is in Australia with her longtime love Brian, and Bridget is constantly changing jobs and apartments in San Francisco.  Though Carmen works hard to keep everyone together, the girls don’t see much of each other anymore.  That is, until Tibby suddenly sends them all plane tickets for a trip to Greece, giving the girls a chance to finally come together once again.

Beyond that, I can’t say too much about the book because something shocking happens, and I don’t want to spoil interested readers.  All I will say is that this book has a really different tone from the other books (especially since it’s now geared more towards adults rather than teens), and if you’re a longtime fan of the series, it might not be a bad idea to read this with a box of tissues nearby.  It’s really a story about how even the closest of friends can drift apart, how much we change over the years, how little we really change, and how we deal with tragedy.  As someone who has read the previous books in the series, it was interesting to see where they all ended up and continue on with their journeys.  Lena and Bridget have always been my favorite characters, and their stories in this book are especially compelling.  If you’ve never read any of the other books, Brashares does a pretty good job at giving you the background information you need, but I’d still recommend giving the earlier books a try.  They were even made into a couple of movies, with the first book being made into the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and the second, third, and fourth books being combined into the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.  Overall, I’m glad I got to revisit these old friends one more time.

I’m going back to “Gramma” School.  Yup, this month we were blessed with a new grandson, so I’m looking forward to spending some time with the little guy and his big sister.  Being a grandmother really is one of the best things in life!

However, I’ve discovered (surprise, surprise) that a few things have changed over the last 30 years, so it seems that one must approach this “parenting-that- is-grand” phase with a life-long learning approach.  One aspect that is usually different – though not always – is that grandparents have more time.  For me, this rings especially true with reading.  As a former teacher, I knew the “read-it-again” rule about re-reading books that kids like, because they learn from the repitition.  With my own children, I probably managed 3 or 4 read-it-agains in one sitting.  But as a grandparent, I’ve read and re-read certain books 8 or 9 times — or at least so many times that I was certain we had both memorized it and that I was going to go insane if I read it again.  (I copped out and suggested that maybe Grandpa could read it again after bathtime.)

Oh — you want to know what that book was?  Well, it’s Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry by Samatha Berger.  It’s a delightful little picture book with lots of pink coloring, though I could never figure out if Martha was a seal or a weasel or what kind of animal she was, other than a cute one.  And why did my precious, perfectly behaved granddaughter want to read that particular book so many times?  I’ll never know.  I didn’t ask.  Oh, yeah, that’s just one of the other little rules I’ve learned in Gramma School.



This is the start of a new series. (Move over, Armchair Traveler).

I think I’m not that unusual in that I almost always have several books “in progress.” Depending on mood or location, I’ll pick up a mystery, non-fiction book, literary-to-not-so-very-literary novel.

This series will report on first and last impressions. Do you ever start a book and it’s great for the first chapter or two and then it just fizzles? It’ll get repetitive, the characters that seemed charming become unlikable, or it takes a turn into just plain boring. In this series, I’ll give you my first impression and then (after an undetermined and suspenseful wait), I’ll give you my final thumbs up or thumbs down.

Kicking it off,  is  To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal. My first impression is mixed. The writing style is so fluid and unforced, it’s compulsively readable. McNeal is the master of  finely wrought “small”  observations about life or relationships. The mood is one of quietness and serenity.

The book alternates between present-day Judith (married and a movie editor in L.A.) and young teen Judith who moves to Nebraska to be with her father. (I prefer these sections; both the 1970’s period and the character of Judith’s father – an English professor).

I’m less enthralled with the contemporary chapters – there is a feeling of cynicism and fading hope.

Stay tuned-