Books! Books! Books!

New Non-Fiction for the Book Club Collection

Paula Walters - Friday, February 17, 2012

New Non-Fiction for the Book Club Collection


Gypsy Boy, is a memoir by Mikey Walsh.  He was born into a Romany Gypsy family.  He lived in a secluded community.  Gypsies are wary of outsiders and if you choose to leave you can never come back. Mikey did not attend school, and knew very few people who were not gypsies.  Living in a caravan  was an unusual upbringing.  Mikey finally had to make the painful decision to stay or escape.  This is a fascinating and heartbreaking memoir.


Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller is a sequel to Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight.  This is a biography of Fuller’s family, but mainly the story of her mother, Nicola.  It is a funny, terrifying and exotic tale.  A story of love, war, loyalty and forgiveness.  If you liked her first biography I am sure you will enjoy the sequel.


J. R. Ackerley was not a dog lover until he met the love of his life, his German shepherd.  My Dog Tulip is the story of Ackerley’s sixteen year friendship with this dog.  Tulip was skittish, possessive and wild.  I can relate.  My entire life I wanted a German shepherd.  When I was young we always had smaller dogs.  In the early 80’s I bought a shepherd for my two sons.  A week after we brought her home my boys went on a two week hiking trip leaving me and Odin home alone.  By the time they returned she was my dog!!  Not so much wild or possessive but she was skittish and I was her favorite.  She liked my sons, but certain friends of theirs she was very skittish around.  When repair men came she would actually cling to the walls.  I wish I was lucky enough to have had her for sixteen years.  She died from cancer when she was five.  I am looking forward to reading about Tulip.


Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin focuses on how to give our animals the best and the happiest life, on their terms and not ours.  She identifies the core emotional needs of animals whether it is domestic dogs and cats, farm animals or zoo animals. As an animal scientist she has researched this topic for thirty years.   This is a must read for animal lovers. 


Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is already a very popular book club selection.  An Army Air Forces bomber crashes into the Pacific Ocean during World War II.  Louis Zamperini is a survivor finding a raft that he manages to climb aboard.  Drifting on the endless ocean he faces leaping sharks, thirst and starvation.  This is the story of survival, resilience and redemption.

February 2012

Paula Walters - Wednesday, February 01, 2012

I have trouble believing that it is the year 2012, and also a little trouble realizing January has zoomed by, and it is now the first of February.  I hope all of you had time to relax in January, and read some good books.  I always seem to be able to take time to read, especially in the winter, when I do not have to take time to work in my yard. 


This January I read Distant Hours by Kate Morton, Sarah Jio’s two novels, that I mentioned in my last blog,  a biography about Louisa May Alcott by Susan Cheever, and the very popular Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.


Distant Hours takes place in England.  Edie Burchill’s mother receives a long lost letter that upsets her.  She is not close to her daughter, and does not share why she is so upset.  During World Two when young children were evacuated from London, to live with families in the country, Edie’s mother lived with the Blythe family, three sisters and their father, in their castle.  Now 50 years later Edie visits the Milderhurst Castle to find out why her mother is upset.  She eventually discovers a lot of secrets about the entire Blythe family.  If you have read The Forgotten Garden  by Kate Morton and enjoyed it you will certainly also enjoy this book.


I am so sorry that Sarah Jio had to cancel her visit to Wenatchee due to illness.  I was looking forward to her program having read both of her books.  I hope she is well and will be able to fit us in to her very busy touring schedule in the near future.  I will let you know.

I was excited to receive as a Christmas gift, Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography by Susan Cheever.  Little Women is one of my favorite books, but I have to admit I really did not know very much about Alcott's life.  Her father was an eccentric reformer, who financially was not successful, and the family lived in poverty.  Ralph Waldo Emerson was a personal friend who often helped the family financially.  Alcott's dream was to be a published writer, but was told early in her career that she should stick to teaching, as she would never make it as a writer.  She became an Army nurse during the Civil War.  During this time she became sick, which affected her health for the rest of her life.  Eventually she became an editor for a children's magazine, and wrote short stories.  A publisher then wanted her to write a  novel for girls. Alcott had no desire to do this.  Finally out of necessity to help her family financially, she wrote the first part of LIttle Women, and it was immediately a huge success.  She then wrote the second half.  Girls would write to her begging her to end the story with Jo's and Laurie's marraige, but she  refused this request, wanting girls to know that a career was more important then marriage to some women.  One comment that Cheever made was interesting.  She said that Little Women was about the family that Alcott wished her family would have been.

Last night I finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, another Christmas gift.  I cannot say enough about this book.  It is very popular with our book clubs.  It is the true story about a poor, black tobacco farmer named Henrietta Lacks.  She was diagnosed with cancer, and died in the early 1950's.  She was in her early thirties, and left behind young children. Henrietta's cells were taken and used by scientists, without her or her family's consent.  Her cells are known as HeLa and are still being used today.  The cells have been an important tool in the medical field.  This is an amazing book about science, but also a book about a family that has struggled a lifetime missing Henrietta, and then learns that her cells are being used by scientists, and not understanding that concept.  It is also the story about the relationship  the author developed with this family. For many years they did not trust her and wanted nothing to do with her.  This book will generate great discussions with book clubs. I would love comments from the clubs that have already read this book.

A Reminder!!

Paula Walters - Monday, January 23, 2012

NCRL’s  first author program will be next Sunday.  Seattle author Sarah Jio will be reading from her second book, The Bungalow.  Her first novel The Violets of March was published April 2011.  Her second novel The Bungalow was published the following December.  She has been busy!!  I hope she talks a bit about her writing process. I read both of her novels last weekend.  The Violets of March was my favorite. It takes place on Bainbridge Island.  I was born and raised in Seattle and enjoy novels that take place in and around Seattle. Both novels are romance/mysteries with the first being a little more mysterious!! The Bungalow takes place during World War II.  Two young women from Seattle who have just graduated from the nursing program decide to become army nurses.  They are stationed in Bora-Bora.  Both books were fun quick reads.  A nice way to spend a snowy weekend!!  Sarah will be at the Wenatchee Public Library on Sunday January 29th 1:30 – 3:30.  Hope many of you can join us to welcome this author to Wenatchee. 

My Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011

Paula Walters - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011



I have already wrote about some of my favorite books.  State of Wonder, The Crying Tree and Strangers at the Feast are certainly on my list of favorites. The other seven are:

Wench, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, The Radley’s,  Every Last One, My Name is Mary Sutter, The Memory Palace, and The Magician’s Assistant.


Wench is the first novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.  It takes place before the Civil War and is the story of four women. Each summer these women are brought to a resort in Ohio the Tawana House.  These women are the black enslaved mistresses of  Southern plantation owners. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars.  They have become friends over the years and enjoy visiting  with each other during this summer vacation.  This summer there is a new woman which they befriend and she begins talking about freedom and running away. This puts a whole new twist on the women’s summer vacation.


Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is an enjoyable book about the retired Major Pettigrew.  He lives in the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside.  I love books that take place in England.  He lives a quiet life but then becomes friends with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper.  They both love literature and they are both lonely as their spouses have died.  They have a nice relationship which is possibly growing into something more but then of course in this small village the rumors start flying. Like Wench this is also the authors first novel.


The Radley’s by Matt Haig was a pleasant surprise. This takes place in England.  Peter works at a medical clinic Helen is a homemaker.  They have two teenagers, Rowen and Clara,  your average British family.  Well not quite, they have a secret, Peter and Helen are vampires.  They have resisted their temptations for years so that their children can have normal lives.  But then the unthinkable happens and their lives change.  This was actually a delightful book .


Every Last One by Anna Quinlan is an amazing novel.  The reader learns early in the novel that something tragic is going to happen to the Latham family.  Mary Beth and Glen have three teenage children, their daughter Ruby and twin sons.  Alex and Max are not identical twins.  Alex is popular and good at sports, Max is a geek.  Throughout the story I am wondering what the tragic event will be.  About the first two thirds of the story the author is acquainting the reader with all of the characters. We learn a lot about their personalities and their life as a family.  Then finally the tragic event happens and oh my goodness!!  Although I had been trying to guess what is was I was not prepared.  I actually had to close the book to get away from it for a bit.  I cannot remember the last time I had such a reaction to a book.  It is beautifully written and well worth your time to read.


My Name is Mary Sutter takes place during the Civil War.  This is Robin Oliveira’s first novel.  Mary Sutter is a young midwife who lives in Albany.  She wants to study to become a doctor.  Because she is a women she had been refused by the medical college and by the town surgeon.  She runs away to Washington so that she can help the wounded soldiers.  She works with a doctor in extremely unsanitary conditions.  This novel also takes the reader right onto the battle field.  I like books about the Civil War.  This is a whole different take on the war.  A very good read!!


The Memory Palace is a memoir by Mira Bartok.  Mira’s mother, Norma Herr was a piano prodigy.  She was also schizophrenic.  Mira and her sister eventually had to change their names and cut off contact with their mother for their own safety.  Unlike her older sister, Mira keeps in touch with her mother through mail.  At the age of forty Mira receives words from the homeless shelter where her mother has been staying that she is dying.  She and her sister go to the hospital to be with their mother.  Although this is a sad story it is beautifully written.  


Like Bel Canto and State of Wonder The Magician’s Assistant was hard to put down.  It is full of interesting characters.  Sabine, the magician’s assistant, has been in love with Parsifal since her early twenties, when she became his assistant.  The first line of the novel tells us that“Parsifal is Dead”.  There are many surprises in this story.  Parsifal told Sabine that he had no family but after his death she learns that he has a mother and two sisters in Nebraska.  Most of the story takes place in Nebraska and Sabine learns some amazing things about Parsifal’s life.

State of Wonder

Paula Walters - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett was one of the favorite books that I read in 2011.

Marina Sinh works for the Vogel Pharmaceutical Company in Eden Prairie Minnesota.  She is sent to the jungles of Brazil to check the progress Dr. Annik Swenson’s research project. Dr. Swenson is researching the post-menopausal  fertility of the women of the Lakashi tribe.  These women are bearing children well into their 70’s and even older.  Dr. Swenson has been in the Amazon for many years without reporting on her progress.  Marina also has a personal reason to accept the assignment.  Her lab partner, Anders Eckman, was sent on the same assignment months earlier and never returned.  The Company received a brief message from Dr. Swenson stating he had died of a fever. Marina wants to find out more details for herself and his grieving widow.

This novel takes the reader into the Amazon jungle.  Marina arrives at her final destination on a pontoon boat.  She is minus her luggage which the airlines lost and never found.  She finds herself in an area of snake infested rivers, malarial swamps and cannibals.

As always in Ann Patchett’s novels there are many interesting characters, from the bohemian couple who seem to protect Dr. Swenson from outsiders to Dr. Swenson herself. This is also a novel with many surprises, an amazing journey for the reader.

Seattle Author

Paula Walters - Wednesday, December 21, 2011



I am pleased to announce that Sarah Jio will be coming to the WPL on Sunday January 29th, 1:30 to 3:30.  Sarah is a local author living in Seattle.  Her first novel. The Violets of  March was published last April and it was chosen as the Best Book of 2011 by Library Journal.  The novel takes place on Bainbridge Island. Emily Wilson has come to Bainbridge Island to spend a month with her great-aunt to heal after some problems in her life. Emily discovers a diary from the 1940’s which has some connections to her own life.  Her second novel, The Bungalow, will be published on December 27th.  The Bungalow is a saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting. Sarah will be reading from this novel.  A Book for All Seasons will be selling her books.  Hope to see all of you at our first author reading of the New Year. 

Recent Books I've Read

Paula Walters - Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Time in Between by  Maria Duenas is an enjoyable book.  It reminded me of reading books like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill a Mockingbird and Rebecca. Books that are some of my favorites and I would love to reread.  Books that I read for pure entertainment.  The  Time in Between is one of these books.

Sira Quiroga lives in Madrid with her single mother.  She knows nothing of her father.  Her mother is a seamstress and when she is fourteen years old she becomes her apprentice.  At age twenty her life is mapped out for her, including a future marriage to a young men she has known forever.

Then two events happen that change the course of her life.  Her mother takes her to meet her father and she also meets and falls in love with an attractive salesman.  It is the beginning of the Civil War in Madrid.  Sira and her handsome salesman move to Madrid.

This is the start of many problems for her.  While in Madrid eventually on her own she meets many interesting people and rebuilds her life. 

This book spans the Spanish Civil War to World War II.  If you want to lose yourself in a good book this is the book for you!!


The Well and the Mine is Gin Phillips first novel.  It takes place in 1931 during the depression. The Moore’s live in Carbon Hill Alabama.  Albert works in the mines.  He and his wife have two daughters and a son.  Tess the younger of the two girls loves to sit on the back porch near the family’s well.  The well is a comfort to her.  Then one night when she is nine years old she sees a woman drop a baby until the well.  At first no one believes Tess but then the baby is found.  This is the story of the two sisters trying to find out who the baby belonged to and why the baby was put in the well.  It is the story of the men working in the mines and their families that worry about them and it is a story of the depression.  A very good book.  Gin Phillips next novel Come In and Cover Me will be published in January. I am looking forward to reading it.


Are you a member of a bookclub?

Paula Walters - Thursday, November 17, 2011

If you are not a member of a club this Winter would be a wonderful time to start a book club or join an existing club.

If you and your friends would like to start a club and receive your books from NCRL

I will need the following:

a contact person

how many members in the club

the day of the month that you will be meeting

also please name your club


I need a list of the books you would like to read, you may call me or email me, my phone number and email address are on NCRL’s website on the book club page.

The list of book club books are also on this page.


Once I have the list I will schedule the books and the books will be sent to your library branch each month.


If you would like to join an existing club I do have many clubs that are accepting new members.


Please call or email if you have any questions.

A Good Reason to Join a Book Club

Paula Walters - Friday, October 21, 2011

There are many good reasons to join a book club.  It is an opportunity to get together with friends once a month. You might learn new, interesting thing about your friends as you are discussing the books and you might learn some new things about yourself.  You will find that you will enjoy the books more as you discuss them with friends. And being in a club will encourage you to read more. Also when you are a member of a book club you often read books that you normally would not choose for yourself.  Last summer my book club read Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. This novel has been on the book club shelves forever and has been extremely popular. I never had the desire to read this book.  Reading the back cover I read as far as “It is a perfect evening -until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage”.  I thought no, no, no, this is not the book for me.  I do not want to read about terrorists.  When one of the members of my club chose the book I thought, well this is okay, it is a popular book club selection so I should read it.  I have to say I am so glad that I read the book.  It was a story of two different groups of people, upper class people from all over the world, most of them did not speak the same language, and then there were the terrorists many of them young kids coming from very poor situations.  This was a novel about the bonds and friendship that grew with these upper class people and the terrorists.  As they lived together for many months they grew to like and care about each other.  Many hoped the situation might last forever. It was a great book to read and we had one of our best books discussions.  I do have to admit the only reason I read the book was because I am a member of a book club. 

The Paris Wife

Paula Walters - Friday, October 07, 2011

I just finished reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  This is the story of Hadley Richardson’s courtship and marriage to Ernest Hemingway.  Hadley was Hemingway’s first wife.  Since the marriage only lasted five years she is barely mentioned in his biographies, so Paula McLain felt compelled to write a novel about her time with him.  The novel takes place in Paris during the Jazz Age.  The Hemingway’s are part of the group known as the “Lost Generation” or the expatriates.  Some of the other people in the group included Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.  I have always been in awe of this group. This was a wild era and the young couple found themselves right in the middle of the craziness.  This is a different love story beautiful but also sad. I enjoyed the novel. I like reading historical fiction.  Now I want to reread some of  Hemingway’s novels, especially The Sun Also Rises.  He wrote this in the same time period and the characters in his novel are based on these friends.  I recommend this book especially if you are a Hemingway fan.

Follow NCRL_Automation on Twitter