The Library Book by Susan Orlean

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The fire pulled back from the southeast section of the building and curled up in the northeast stacks, where it glowered angrily, feeding itself book after book, a monster snacking on chips.

Susan Orlean did a fantastic job writing this book.  When this epic fire happened, not many around the states had even heard about the ordeal because also around that same time – Chernobyl happened.

 

“On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire broke out at the  the Los Angeles Public Library.  As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?” – via Goodreads

“The Library Book chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.” – via Goodreads

Susan’s witty writing leads you on a journey of  more than just books—but about a tragic fire that impacted more lives than you could imagine!  She adds science and insight to the aftermath of the fire as well as the fire itself from doing extensive research for this book.  I highly recommend this book to all!!

……..because here is the home of our oldest and best friends—-Books.

The 1986 Los Angeles Public Library Fire from ARchive LAPL on Vimeo.

More information about the LAPL fire: https://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/lapl/april-29-marks-30th-anniversary-1986-fire

 

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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was our pick for March at our Book Club!  I really enjoyed this book!  It is based on a true story of The Alice Network, a real-life group of female spies in France during World War I.

The Alice Network tells the story of Charlie St. Claire in present day and then bounces into the story of another woman Eve Gardiner’s past.  Charlie is pregnant and is on her way with her mother to ‘take care of her little problem” when she decides now is the time she is going to break free.  She is hoping to find her cousin Rose who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war and now is perfect opportunity.  Charlie heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

In Eve’s story, she is itching to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.  Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

I usually have trouble when a story flips between two people’s stories, but I had no trouble with this one!  I’m glad this author decided this story needed to be brought to light again.  It’s fascinating to discover it’s based on a real woman, Louise de Bettignies or Alice Dubois and her story heroism and courage.  I highly recommend this book!!!!

Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead by Christine Wicker

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Lily Dale is a real town in New York, although it is far from your average community.  When Lily Dale was founded about 120 years ago, even Susan B. Anthony was a guest.

In the town of Lily Dale, lives several Spiritualist and Mediums.  On day reporter and author Christine Wicker discovers this strange town and is determined to understand it’s ‘secret forces’ – human or otherwise.  In the book, she follows three visitors: a newly bereaved widow; a mother whose son killed himself; and a beautiful, happily married wife whose first visit to Lily Dale brings an ominous warning.

Christine is a skeptic.  Are the people of this town really able to see into the other-side or are they just out to make a buck?  Investigating a movement that attracted millions of Americans in the 1800s and now barely survives, Christine moves beyond the mediums’ front parlors and into the lives that tourists never see. She follows the mediums to a place where what we know and how we know it is the greatest mystery of all.

This was an interesting book and look into this odd society that actually exists today.  If you look at Lily Dale on Google Maps, each house is even labeled with what Medium is currently living there.  The author herself finds answers that she didn’t even know she was looking for.

I find it fascinating to read about the walks of life that go to Lily Dale to find peace, hope or the chance to talk to a loved one who has passed to the other-side.  Now, a few years ago I read a book called “Beware the Night” by Ralph Sarchie…..if you read that, you might think twice about trying to contact the other side!  Either way, this was an interesting book that unveils the truth behind some of these Mediums who sometimes do trick you or use lighting to fool you….others….well, I’ll let you be the judge of that!

Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Jell-o Girls was and interesting story about the evolution of the most iconic branding campaigns in America.  I liked the story, some parts I thought could have been left aside, but I suppose they did have their place in the history of this family.

In 1899, Allie Rowbottom’s great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. The sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations that followed enjoyed immense privilege – but they were also haunted by suicides, cancer, alcoholism, and mysterious ailments.

Several years later Allie’s mother is diagnosed with the same cancer, a disease that had also claimed her own mother’s life. Determined to combat what she had come to consider the “Jell-O curse” and her looming mortality, Mary began obsessively researching her family’s past, determined to understand the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of Jell-O and the traditional American values the company championed. Before she died in 2015, Mary began to send Allie boxes of her research and notes, in the hope that her daughter might write what she could not. JELL-O GIRLS is the liberation of that story.

You can probably find a box of Jell-o in every single house in America.  The story adds in the history of the product and how we’ve come to enjoy it now.  It is safe to eat – no worries – but after you read this story, you won’t be able to blame them for thinking that Jell-o was their down fall.

 

A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America’s Secret Desert by Karen Piper

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

This is the story about the author’s life – having grew up at China Lake – a missile range that was located in Mojave Desert.  I liked the story at first, but then I feel like she went off the path to unrelated stories that had nothing to do with her life when she lived on the base.  I think the title and how the story starts out was great, but then she lost me.  The story of when she did live at China Like, that was a very interesting story, so I would still recommend it to other readers!

Both of Karen’s parents worked at different jobs while living at China Lake and eventually her and her sister worked there as well.  Her dad designed the Sidewinder, which was ultimately used catastrophically in Vietnam. When her mom got tired of being a stay-at-home mom, she went to work on the Tomahawk. Once, when a missile nose needed to be taken offsite for final testing, her mother loaded it into the trunk of the family car, and set off down a Los Angeles freeway. Traffic was heavy, and so she stopped off at the mall, leaving the missile in the parking lot.

The author lived through several major events in history including JFK’s assignation, whom he actually visited the base shortly before the tragic event that took his life. Along with fears of a Lemurian takeover and Charles Manson.  The little story of JFK’s visit to the base was interesting in itself – they took him to the area where they test missiles and one particular one they were working on which included a camera on the end of the missile.  The base sent the missile toward the president and he saw his own face on the camera – the missile would, as they hoped turn at a particular moment – which it did, but it was also a ‘test’ of this new equipment and could of easily failed.

 

 

The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The first book I read by Peternelle van Arsdale was “The Beast is an Animal” and this newest book was just as good!

This is a very unique story, something completely original!  Milla has never been allowed to travel into the village.  She has no other friends besides her brother.  Until one day a girl named Iris comes to stay with her neighbors.  Iris is about the same age as Milla and she is excited to finally have a friend.

Iris comes from the village, but with a secret.  The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random and the villagers live in terror of who it will come for next.  Milla and her family have been pouring salt over any openings for as long as Milla can remember, all to ward of this so called demon, so is the secret that Iris finally tells Milla….the truth?

Soon things begin to happen to Milla, things that aren’t normal.  Then, the demon comes to the farm and takes Iris.  Milla leaves home to rescue Iris and decides that she is going to find a way to break this horrible curse forever.  Although, very quickly Milla learns that her family has been harboring a terrible secret of their own, one that is directly linked to the curse……Milla is changing, Iris is changing and what Milla soon discovers, changes her entire life forever.

This was a fantastic story, one that was so original, I loved it right from the start!  I read this book quite fast as I couldn’t be patient to find out what was going to happen next to Milla.  I look forward to reading more stories from Peternelle van Arsdale, this I am quite for sure of!!

Published January 22nd 2019 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

 

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I have enjoyed every book I’ve read by Jennifer McMahon so far and was excited to get the chance to read her newest book “The Invited”!  It too did not disappoint! The other books I have read by her are “The Night Sister” and “The Winter People” – click on the titles to find my reviews for them!

This is a chilling ghost story with a unique twist!  Helen and Nate wanting a change, decide to leave the comforts of their lives behind.  They find land in the woods of Vermont where they are determined to build a dream home from scratch.  They do have to live in a rundown trailer that sits on the land until they get their new house built.

Helen is a former history teacher and wanted to find a place that had a story, in which they did.  She soon becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who used to lived and unfortunately died tragically on the land they bought to build their new home.

While looking into the dark past of Hattie, Helen begins to collect odds and end pieces of materials for their home.  She finds old wooden beams, mantles and bricks – all just happened to be linked to Hattie and her descendants.  Three generations of women who all have died in suspicious circumstances.

In most stories we read, a family moves into an already haunted house.  In this unique story, a haunted house is being built piece by haunted piece.  Nate and Helen start to experience unusual things. Helen soon realizes that she has opened up a doorway to their new home for something else entirely.

This was a fast read for me as the story stayed suspenseful almost through the entire thing.  It kept you wondering what was going to happen next to the characters.  I highly recommend you check out this author and her books, they are all well worth the read!

Expected publication: April 30th 2019