Rowayton Library
Beginning of Fall 2012                Reviews by Rowayton Library's Reader Advisor, Ruth Freeman

Any minute now, the leaves will start to change color...


'The Seasonal Baker' by local Norwalk SoNo Bakery owner John Barricelli was eagerly awaited and did not disappoint his fans. Many recipes are designed specifically for making with children; he is something of an expert after cooking for years with his three kids. There are both sweet and savory recipes and luscious photos. As was the case with his first book the directions are really clear, which makes tackling a new technique less heart stopping.



A desolate, virtually abandoned new development outside Dublin is the setting for 'Broken Harbor' by Tana French. This incredibly talented author has used these environs to spooky effect; the strong sense of place is palpable and creepy. Detective Scorcher Kennedy contends with a new partner, unstable family members and a politically charged department as he struggles to solve a family's brutal murder. This is a tough book to put down and gets high marks for originality.


Perusing the 2012 edition of 'Christmas with Southern Living' may seem premature, but why wait until December to try a fantastic recipe like Rosemary-Gruyere rolls? We didn't! Gorgeous photographs and a lot of inspiring ideas make this book a winner.


'Ransom River' by Meg Gardiner gets our vote for the page turner of the month. The thriller starts with a courtroom siege at a trial in which Rory Mackenzie is a juror. She has returned to Ransom River after years away and quickly discovers that that her extended family's past life still has the power to impact current events. The reappearance of an old love adds spice to the plot as Rory is tested physically and emotionally more than seems fair.


'A Foreign Country', by Charles Cumming is a classic spy thriller in style, brought up to date by clever ties to current events. Thomas Kell retired in disgrace from the British Secret Service and is brought back when the newly chosen head of MI6 disappears. Links between apparently disparate events might provide the keys to finding Amelia Wheldon, but there are many layers to the story and intriguing characters that keep the plot in motion. Cumming has written a number of well received espionage novels and this one is a worthy addition.


'Mortality' by Christopher Hitchens is a series of essays he wrote over an eighteen month period after receiving a diagnosis of esophageal cancer. They are in his trademark acerbic style, covering his treatment, his overall experiences in "tumorville" and his continuing battle to convince some of his well wishers that praying for him is still not the answer. You may not always agree with Hitchens but he is a brilliant writer with unique insights into difficult subjects.


'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' by Rachel Joyce is very engaging. Harold is recently retired, living quietly (way too quietly) with his wife Maureen when a letter from a dying friend jolts him out of his ennui. Over the course of a long journey on foot from the south to the north of the U.K. he has plenty of time to think about his past relationships, and meet people along the way who help him see things differently. For fans of 'Major Pettigrew's Last Stand' and those who appreciate stories about ordinary people on extraordinary journeys.


We have an early copy of 'Sweet Tooth'by Ian McEwan, courtesy of a friend in the UK. Ian McEwan is always a pleasure to read and this is no exception.


'The Caller', by Karin Fossum is Norwegian noir at its spare and evocative best. Inspector Sejer grapples with increasingly vicious pranks that spread fear and confusion in the village. The psychological terror is chilling as the malicious acts escalate. This is a relatively short book that packs a wallop.


'Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel' by Maria Semple is a touching and hilarious portrait of the anxiety producing, high powered Seattle lifestyle of a somewhat eccentric family of three (and their dog Ice Cream). Bernadette is the mother of fifteen year old Bee and the wife of Elgie, who works at Microsoft. The author perfectly skewers the pretensions of the private school parents and Seattle technocrats that have essentially driven Bernadette around the bend. The book is loaded with facts about everything from TED conferences to Antarctica, woven cleverly into the story of Bernadette's increasingly desperate attempts to get a grip on where her life is going. This is a great read, well written and populated by characters you care about deeply. Read it and find out where she went!


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