Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Lady Vanishes

EmptyMansions

What is it about a mystery that so captivates the imagination and spikes one’s interest?  Hidden histories, concealed conspiracies, and secrets spirited away spur the cogs of the human mind to rotate in double time in an effort to consider and grasp the possibilities that exist.

Empty Mansions: the Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. attempts to shed some light on the mysterious life of an American woman, Ms. Huguette Clark, whose unconventional way of life and veiled existence leaves one with an overwhelming curiosity and a wish to pierce the cloak of her life.

But this is not the typical mystery involving murder, a legendary bank heist, or the disappearance of some person.  It is, rather, the life led by Ms. Clark that would seem incomprehensible to many if not most.  You see, Ms. Clark was born the youngest daughter of one of the wealthiest American men of the Gilded Age, Mr. William Clark, but despite her incredible inherited wealth, Ms. Clark led a quiet and extremely reclusive life.

With estates in both California and Connecticut, lodgings in the Upper East Side of Manhattan that encompassed an entire floor, and an art collection that included paintings by Renoir and Monet and valued in the tens of millions of dollars, Ms. Clark most certainly could have provided herself with every creature comfort available, yet she did not.

Instead, she chose to spend her last years in an isolated hospital room, surrounded not by family or friends, but those persons in her paid service, and what a lucrative service it was, which begs the question: had she in fact chosen this fate?  Therein lies the mystery.

After her death in 2011 at the age of 104, distant relatives, many of whom had never spoken with Ms. Clark, came together to file a suit that contested a recent will that left Ms. Clark’s family out.  With missing jewelry, art being stolen and sold, and large sums questionably spent, many questions abound, and Mr. Dedman has made an admirable attempt to provide possible answers based on his extensive research and investigation.  This is a tale that is sure to hold the interest of the reader and intrigue with its many facets.

Formats Available:  Book, E-book

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill Branch

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

holdmenecro

We all have those lists of books waiting for the day when we might actually be able to read them.  How this title stayed on my list for so long seems like a mystery.  Humor, romance, adventure – this novel has it all.  While marketed toward an older teen audience, this can easily be enjoyed by an adult reader.

Samhain, nicknamed Sam, floats through life.  He is happy to work in a gross fast food restaurant, happy to drop out of college, happy to be nothing special.  Until the day that Sam learns he is very special.  Gifted with an ability hidden from him at birth by his mother, Sam must quickly learn the ways of Necromancy.

His goofy, big mouth nature seems to continually land him in deeper trouble till it looks like there’s no hope.  Thankfully, he isn’t in it alone.  Armed with good friends and a pack of werewolves, Sam must find a way to accept his true nature and defeat a really, really bad dude.

If you think this title isn’t for you, you’re likely wrong.  It does have elements of fantasy and magic but it mostly centers on accepting who you are, growing up, and finding confidence.  Sam is a loveably sarcastic main character, the dialogue is well written, and the plot is well developed (though at times predicable). Music lovers will appreciate the chapter titles (which are all song lyrics).  Readers will find themselves eagerly turning pages to find out Sam’s triumphs and failures.

This all around light and feel good novel by Lish McBride is highly recommend.

Formats Available: Book

Reviewed by Lindsay, Southwest Branch

Dave Barry is coming to LFPL

Bestselling author and humorist Dave Barry

Bestselling author and humorist Dave Barry

Main Library, Wednesday, March 19, 7 p.m.

Dubbed “the funniest man in America” by the New York Times, Dave Barry explores the twin mysteries of parenthood and families in You Can Date Boys When You’re FortyIn his new release, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author tackles everything from family trips to bat mitzvah parties to accompanying his daughter to a Justin Bieber concert.

Tickets are no longer available for this event but limited standby seating may be available the evening of the program.

The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend by Glenn Frankel

I enjoyed John Ford’s 1956 classic Western The Searchers when I saw it some fifteen years ago, so I thought reading this book about its production would be worthwhile.

 

 

What I didn’t expect was the detail in which Frankel first discusses Cynthia Ann Parker, the woman kidnapped by Comanche Indians upon whose ordeal the novel and ultimately the film The Searchers was based. Indeed, the first half of the 400-page book concerns Cynthia Ann’s abduction and the events that follow, as well as the life and cultural impact of her son, Quanah

 

 

This fascinating truth, obfuscated through the personal agendas of historians and politicians, perfectly sets up Frankel’s discussion of Alan LeMay’s novel and Ford’s subsequent film.

 

searchers

 

Billed as simply another John Wayne vehicle, the film is considered by many now as a complex examination of the myth of the American West.

 

 

I encourage anyone with an interest in film history, and history in general, to pick up The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend.

If you want to more about the history of Quanah Parker, you should check out Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne.

 

 

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

The title is a mouth full, but don’t let that deter you – in fact, the title is what grabbed my attention.  Upon actually glancing past the cover, I discovered how epically funny this book is.  I stress the word epically.  I laughed out loud so many times that multiple people had to ask me what was so funny – which bothered me immensely because each time I had to put it down to talk to them!

Our evil genius, Oliver Watson, is in seventh grade, and to the rest of his classmates he’s seen as a bumbling idiot, scaredy pants, and general freak to steer clear of.  It turns out Oliver has been playing them all – at home and at school – from the very beginning.  See, Oliver’s really a secret evil genius who never saw the benefit of letting people in on his genius, because no one worthy of it.  For all of his thirteen years he’s been amassing his strength and power; including an underground lair, body guards, more wealth than he can spend, and a professional grade science lab with a whole army of scientists and engineers at his disposal.  All the while, everyone around him sees him as a sloppy and simple minded seventh grader – even his own parents.

Oliver is fine with people not knowing – in fact, he prefers it that way.  He’s even put several barriers in place so that even if people come looking for him, they’ll never be able to prove it – should anyone ever suspect.  But now – now he’s got something to prove…to his Dad; a former class president who won’t stop reliving his political past “glories.”

Author, Josh Lieb, is a producer from the comedy news show, The Daily Show.  This is his debut novel.

-Lynette-