April 2011 Archives

Click for availability and more information Salt Marsh Diary: A Year on the Connecticut Coast, by Mark Seth Lender
Mark Seth Lender's observations in Salt Marsh Diary: A Year on the Connecticut Coast could be considered poetic. His descriptions of the varied flora and fauna in his local salt marsh are also metaphoric; there is underlying subtext that ties nature to man. Lender points out that many birds are decreasing in number as man destroys the habitats in which they live. He describes the adverse effect man is having on the environment:

"The once-rich wintering and breeding grounds have largely been filled in or poisoned by a toxic brew."

Yet, the book is filled with beautiful descriptions and insightful analysis. It points out the inter-dependence of plants, animals and human beings. Much like Thoreau and Beston, Lender brings us closer to nature and reminds us that we need to take action to save this ecosystem. The salt marsh not only serves as an important breeding ground for a variety of birds and animals, but also serves to control flooding. What better way than to describe the (almost) invisible world of the salt marsh? This book is a must read for everyone.

Hollywood: A Third Memoir

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Click for availability and more information Hollywood: A Third Memoir, by Larry McMurtry
I always knew that Larry McMurtry wrote western novels, but I didn't know he wrote screenplays for Hollywood! His book Hollywood: A Third Memoir- aptly titled - is the third and final installment of his memoir trilogy following Books: A Memoir and Literary Life: A Second Memoir. He was teaching world literature in a Texas college, when he was summoned to write a screenplay for one of his books. McMurtry never had any formal training, and books on screenwriting were just coming out. Yet, McMurtry kept getting called on to create treatments for his work. Eventually, The Last Picture Show, Hud and Brokeback Mountain were turned into successful movies. Even his Lonesome Dove series made it onto the television screen. One thing I learned was that a perfectly good script can be passed over if money can't be secured.

The most entertaining part of the book is his assessment of all the Hollywood types. As a novel writer, he was politely tolerated by the Producers and Directors. He met many big name actors such as Sybill Shepherd, Diane Keaton, George Clooney and others. The energy and the pace of life in Hollywood intoxicated him. By the end of the book - which spans many decades - he does not recognize his favorite town. Many of his friends have moved on or passed on. Change is inevitable.

This book is easy to read since the chapters are very short, a result of a stroke he had prior to writing this book. His sense of humor comes through as he is able to laugh at his own foibles. This book is entertaining and fun to read. It has a lot of insight into the business of Hollywood.

Click for availability and more information Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century, by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger
In light of Elizabeth Taylor's recent passing, there has been renewed interest in her life and career. Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century chronicles the celebrity marriage between these two larger-than-life movie stars that inspired media madness around the world. Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger were granted access by Elizabeth Taylor to private letters written by Richard Burton to her and this adds a human dimension, very warm and charming at times, to their story. Their professional and personal lives before they began their torrid romance while filming Cleopatra are covered. Once they became a couple, Taylor and Burton became modern gypsies as they traveled from one movie location to another with a band of family members, personal assistants, tutors and assorted others in tow. Furious Love is very well written and, quite surprisingly, a wonderfully interesting insight into the world of movie making. Taylor and Burton, perhaps Burton more so, were often lauded for their professional and endearingly wonderful acting techniques and the authors show why this praise is deserved. In the end, however, their personal demons of alcohol abuse and wildly dramatic swings in emotional behavior caused so much damage to their lives. This is a great read for anyone interested in these two powerhouse personalities as well as the era of movie making in the latter years of the twentieth century.

Click for availability and more information Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook, by Beverly Patt
Fourteen-year-old Louise keeps a scrapbook detailing the events in her life after her best friend, a Japanese-American girl, and her family are sent to a relocation camp during World War II.

The 100-year old Secret

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Click for availability and more information The 100-year old Secret, by Tracey Barrett
Xena and Xander Holmes think living in rainy old London will be boring until one afternoon they are handed a note written in disappearing ink that leads them to a hidden room where they discover they are related to the great detective Sherlock Holmes. Using Holmes's unsolved casebook, the two become detectives and attempt to find a missing painting. The first in a series of mysteries involving the detective duo.

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