The silent sister

From  Andrea  Kalinowski

Author:  Diane  Chamberlain

Title:  The silent sister

“I know that the lies in our family hurt all of us, especially Danny and myself. Growing up in a household where something is terribly wrong, you feel the weight of that mysterious something even though it’s unspoken. It eats at you. Confuses you. It leaves you wondering if your view of the world will ever make sense.” The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain was an unexpected surprise hit with me. It was recommended to me by my sister-in-law. She could not stop reading the book and neither could I.

A young woman returns to her father’s house to clean out his home and to settle his estate. She thinks her only relative is her brother, who is perceived, by her and others, as being mentally ill. In the cleaning process, secrets of her sister’s suicide are unearthed and shed new light on the family dynamics. Lisa was seventeen when she committed “suicide” and it was this “suicide” which changed the family’s dynamic from a cohesive functioning family unit to a dysfunctional mishmash. Danny harbors his own resentments about Lisa’s familial role and the transformation that is wrought by her “suicide.” The discovery of newspaper articles detailing the real story behind the “suicide” set Riley off in search of the real story. The full scope of the deception forces Riley and Danny into a new and uncertain familial future. Our choices today really do have a ripple effect even though we may not perceive them clearly at the moment of decision. The Silent Sister was an excellent, suspenseful read. I give it four stars.

Paris to the past : traveling through French history by train

From Eileen Effrat

Author:  Ina Caro

Title:   Paris to the past : traveling through French history by train

Paris is the gateway to France’s well preserved past. The Paris metro or the high –speed TGV can take time travelers to historic sites in just a few hours. Caro describes 25 outings  that span 700 years of French history. Arranged chronologically, she visits everywhere from the Place de la Concorde, the Pantheon, and Saint-Denis in Paris, to Versailles, Chartres, Rouen, and Blois in the region. Filled with historical tidbits, this is a very enjoyable, well researched read for Francophiles and armchair travelers.

Fear in the sunlight

From Eileen Effrat

Author:  Nicola  Upson

Title:  Fear in the sunlight

The year is 1936 and Josephine Tey, the famous Scot mystery writer and playwright,is celebrating her fortieth birthday at the exclusive resort village of Portmeirion in Wales. Tey is also scheduled to meet filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock while there to negotiate film rights for her book, A Shilling for Candles. This bucolic setting turns deadly when two women are brutally  murdered.  Although slow to start,once the murders begin the action heats up as some very nasty family secrets are exposed. If you are a Hitchcock fan, there is a lot of background and bio on the man and his wife. For a realistic period piece with some memorable characters, this could be a good choice.

Famous Last Words

From  Cassidy  Clarke

Title:  Famous Last Words

Author:  Katie Alender

In this mysterious thriller, a girl named Willa just moved to Hollywood with her mom and stepdad just to find that the luxurious life of living in California isn’t always that luxurious. Especially, when she finds out there is a killer walking the streets of her town, targeting young pretty teenage girls such as herself. As crazy could it get? Well, it gets worse. The killer attacks his victims by re enacting famous movie murder scenes. Can Willa get to the bottom of things before it’s too late? You’ll have to read to find out.

A Touch of Stardust

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author:  Kate Alcott

Title:  A Touch of Stardust 

“Life holds surprises and sometimes you hold on – and let go – in different ways.” The book, A Touch of Stardust, by Kate Alcott, was a surprise hit with me. The protagonist, Julie Crawford, is a Midwestern transplant, who wears, as we all sometimes do, blinders to world occurrence.

This novel really caught my attention with its fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of movie production. David O. Selznick and George Cukor could not reconcile their divergent styles into a cohesive whole, and so Victor Fleming became director of Gone With the Wind shortly after the production’s start. Selznick had a definite vision for this masterpiece and woe betide anyone who saw a different vision.

Julie Crawford is unable to find the position she desires and so settles for working in the Publicity Department of David O. Selznick Productions. Julie’s foray into Hollywood is being temporarily funded by her parents and has a definite sell-by date.

Julie’s world view rapidly changes through her association with Carole Lombard, Clark Gable, Andy Weinstein, and the looming threat of World War II. You can be sure a biography of Carole Lombard and/or Clark Gable will soon be on my reading table due in part to the portrait of these Hollywood legends painted in this novel.

An eye-opening peek at what it takes to bring a movie, successfully, to the big screen.

1989 [sound recording CD]

From  Jackie Cantwell

Author:  Taylor Swift

Title:  1989 [sound recording CD] 

This is Taylor Swift’s first pure pop album. And it is nearly pop perfection. Even if you’re not the expected demographic listener for this CD, like me, you may find yourself humming these songs. Not only do I have a deeper respect for Swift’s songwriting abilities, I admire her collaborators such as Jack Antonoff, who co-wrote “Out of the Woods” and “I Wish You Would”. Antonoff plays acoustic, electric and bass guitar as well as drums and keyboards on these tracks. The strongest track is probably the first that was released, and that is “Shake It Off”.  “Bad Blood” has evocative imagery and reminds me of Avril LaVigne. “Blank Space” and “All You Had to Do Was Stay” also remind me of Avril LaVigne songs which shouldn’t be a surprise, as they both collaborated with Max Martin, the Swedish producing marvel. The tone of the album seems to be nostalgia for lost love, but at the same time, it’s fun to listen to. Harry Styles is rumored to be the subject of “Style” and “Out Of the Woods”. “Welcome to New York” is another strong track which is about re-inventing oneself and taking on the challenge of a new city (or identity).  “This Love” was written entirely by Swift and it’s a beautiful, dreamy song. “I Know Places” seems to warn lovers that the paparazzi will try to find them but she can hide: “They are the hunters, we are the foxes and we run.”  “Clean”, co-written with Imogen Heap,likens the end of a relationship with going sober. Some songs repeat these phrases: wildest dreams, Oh my God, mad love, sink (or sinking) ships; while other songs repeat references to the words: ghosts, lips, cheeks, and insane. I love you, Taylor, but I hope you got a thesaurus for Christmas! Grade: A-.

Tom Crean : unsung hero of the Scott and Shackleton Antarctic expeditions

From  Eileen Effrat

Author:  Michael Smith

Title:   Tom Crean : unsung hero of the Scott and Shackleton Antarctic expeditions 

Making the most of limited resources, Smith documents the adventures of Tom Crean, a man who spent more time in the Antarctic than Scott or Shackleton. A modest man, he did not leave diaries, letters, photographs or books detailing his exploits as many others did. In fact, he never gave an interview and rarely spoke of his adventures to family and friends in County Kerry, Ireland. What emerges from this biography is an extremely private and unassuming man. His selfless courage, resilience, loyalty and limitless good humor kept despair in check from numerous life threatening situations. His adventures are incredible, and the man unflappable. This biography is one you won’t soon forget.