Penny’s Backlist Reading Challenge

Keep Calm

Keep Calm and Think What to Read Next: now you know that can be a difficult thing to keep calm about over here with the amount of book hoarding that goes on! So many lists for 2014 have already had me hurriedly adding to the TBR lists, but then I started looking at allllll those books sitting on my shelves, the Kobo, on the “For Later” shelf at the library, etc. and decided that I needed to create some kind of “Backlist Challenge” for myself.

I’ve compiled lists (that seemed to keep growing) broken down by “Category” from Library titles, Kobo titles, NetGalley titles and Home titles. Now the challenge for me is how to choose from each of those lists and how desperately not to stray tooooo much from them. The book covers only are showing below, they are not linked to anything, only to give a visual of what I put on my lists. I would ask for suggestions but then I’m so afraid I would quickly fall off track! Your comments are always welcomed however on what you think my selected titles.  Continue reading

Book Review: All This Talk of Love

all talkThank you to Net Galley for advancing a copy of All This Talk of Love. Unfortunately it arrived as an (unreadable) PDF and was a book I even scheduled in my Reading Schedule to read. It was the last book in the schedule! Alas, rather than fight through teeny tiny type of a PDF I waited for it to come to the library. I’m very glad I waited and read it, as it was certainly worth it.

All This Talk of Love is a lovely piece of fiction about families. It beautifully depicts each member as their individual selves and as part of their larger close-knit family. The Grasso family is headed by Antonio and Maddalena Grasso. They had left Italy as a very young married couple and immigrated to America over 50 years prior. They have three children, Prima (the Italian Princess), Tony, (their now deceased son) and Frankie (the son conceived years later and out of grief).

None of the children, or their children (Prima’s), have been back to the Old Country. As a surprise Prima has purchased tickets for the entire Grasso family to bring them back to Santa Cecilia one summer. It is this encompassing act that we read each of their individual stories and their place in the Grasso clan. This, and the shadow of grief that hovers over all from their son, brother and uncle that killed himself when he was just 15 years old.

Maddalena; the beautiful and stunning, still, vibrant matriarch of the Grasso clan. She has absolutely no intention of returning to Santa Cecilia ever. What is there is only the country of when she was young and beautiful. The place where her mother was still alive, her sister was not suffering from Alzheimer’s and where she loved another man. Going back would only destroy those memories. That is what they are, that is what they will remain. Maddalena however, is beginning to show disturbing signs of this horrible and hereditary disease that will soon steal her mind.

She’s never been back to Santa Cecilia, not even for a visit, not once in the fifty years since Antonio married her and brought her to America, and she’s not about to start now. Unlike him, she still has her people in that village. She remembers them how they were when she left them in 1946. Now most of them are bones in the ground behind the church…She has only one brother left, Claudio and one sister, Carolina, but she hasn’t spoken to them in twenty years. She won’t see them old and sick, not after working so hard, every day, to keep them young and beautiful and full of life in her mind. She won’t let that happen. ….Santa Cecilia was the one place on earth where she was young. What belongs to her and her alone is that village during those nineteen years, her memories of it, of who she might have been…Go back now, to see it all changed, and that, too, will be taken away.

Antonio: the patriarch of the Grasso’s. He brought Maddalena over and started a family restaurant with the name from back in the Old Country so that she would always have that place where they met and he fell in love. He aches, longs, yearns, dreams of returning to the Old Country. He wants to go back and live what he feels are his final moments of this long and love-filled life he’s lead. Antonio believes that if he were to go back there, the deep, deep regret and loss and grief over losing his son, Tony, will disappear there. For Tony never set foot in Italy and should Antonio go back he would finally be able to let go of his grief, and the secret he’s kept about Tony’s death and his reasons for taking his own life, from everyone.

Take me to Santa Cecilia, where I belong. I can count on one hand the years we have left together.

He is the only person alive who knew the secret of Tony’s heart. He keeps it closer than any he’s ever known. It’s like a heavy stone in his pocket, one he takes out day after day, turns over, rubs with his thumb, as if it’s beautiful and precious, when – he almost has to remind himself – it was the one bit of ugliness in Tony, and it proved powerful enough to kill him.

Prima: she is the Italian Princess, the spoiled rich girl that married the Irish man. She is approaching middle-age in despair and is not looking forward to living in an empty-nest when her four sons move on. She tries very hard to be the “cool mom” and boasts her job is to raise four sons and care for their large home and family. She wishes with everything to bring all of the Grasso clan together for this trip to Santa Cecilia so that they are all together, delaying the inevitable for just a little longer. She is the control-freak that needs to arrange for everything in order to hide her desperate loneliness.

Frankie: is the wandering intellectual of the family. He knows he lives in the shadow of Tony yet holds his mother in the highest esteem, adoration and love. Never one night goes without their 11:01 p.m. phone conversation following the viewing of their favourite soap opera. Frankie is pursuing his PhD and seems to flounder a bit here and there, in love, in his dissertation, in his place in the family. After finally ditching the dead-end love affair with his married advisor and finding a new advisor as well, Frankie meets another girl and returns home to find the focus he so needs to get himself on track.

And then, just as they have finally convinced Maddalena to make the trip to Italy, all done in hopes it helps to reverse the quickly advancing destruction of her mind, tradegy strikes the Grasso family again. This greatly delays their trip by a number of years, but the trip is finally made in the end. Unfortunately, it does not hold the magic or promise that was so hoped for before. Maddelena is all but lost in her mind now and no longer recognizes her family. It is these incredibly touching moments that the book ends.

All This Talk of Love is a wonderful, wonderful story about family and is filled with love, loss, longing, regret, grief and secrets. I’m really glad I kept it on my planned reading list/schedule. I’m glad I did not forget about reading it or returning it to the library before actually reading. It’s really a beautiful story, filled with many poignant and touching moments, all of which are meant to touch upon what it is to be a part of a family in all its glory, madness, sadness and frustration, despair and love, its great, unyielding love.

Humble commentary from a Literary Hoarder…

 Well, today’s Windsor Star reports that the (trailblazing) CEO of the Windsor Public Library will not be returning to work ever again for the WPL.

Many over the few years of which Holmes was in command, complained of his changes and the speed with which those changes occurred to our public library. Windsor is unfortunately not a city that embraces change well. But for this Literary Hoarder, those changes were incredible, necessary and so welcome!

In his short term, Barry Holmes revolutionized WPL’s services. He brought the public library system to the forefront and made it slick, cutting-edge, fashionable even! He implemented Bibliocommons, a powerful and amazing search engine and stylized social networking site for the library’s goods; emphasized the Overdrive system (audio and digital books); abolished overdue fines; and won the Windsor Public Library an innovation award. Along with the esthetically pleasing changes he brought to many of the (run-down, tired and old) branches around the city, he also spear-headed the push to move the main downtown branch in to a brand-new, state-of-the-art-facility, thereby bringing the public library to the forefront of our city’s cultural and entertainment diversification efforts.

Therefore, this Literary Hoarder is sighing with deep disappointment with the news reported today. The changes Holmes brought to our public library system were exciting, bold and fresh and I was so excited to see the possible relocation of the main branch to the riverfront in a spectacular and new environment. Now, with Holmes all but leaving only his dust behind, I fear that each of his tremendous efforts will be mothballed and that Windsor will revert back to its old, tired and ancient ways. I know many are trumpeting and cheering this loss, but for me, I only think of how rather unfortunate it all is for this city.

Now I know Mr. Holmes was not clean and tidy in all aspects of his public CEO role, anymore than former Chair Maghnieh was…but I sincerely hope Windsor does not turn back the clock on his innovative practices and push to bring the public library system into a modern era.

This Literary Hoarder will miss you Mr. Holmes.

CEO Barry Holmes departs Windsor’s library

CEO Barry Holmes departs Windsor’s library
Windsor Public Library CEO Barry Holmes is seen in this April 2012 file photo. (Dan Janisse / The Windsor Star)
Posted by:  Doug Schmidt

Barry Holmes is no longer the embattled CEO of Windsor Public Library.

But whether he “voluntarily resigned his employment,” as the board said today, or he was “constructively dismissed,” as Barry and his recently acquired lawyer claim, that is a question likely headed to the courts.

“Should Mr. Holmes decide to make a legal claim against the library board, such action will be vigorously defended by the library board,” recently appointed library board chairman Peter Frise said in a brief statement read to reporters following today’s board meeting.

It’s just the latest sad chapter in a scandal that erupted after it was revealed in April that then-board chairman Al Maghnieh — the since-disgraced but continuing Ward 10 city councillor — was going loose and fancy on a Holmes-approved library credit card.

No sooner were questions raised by city councillors about Barry’s position in Al’s self-confessed craziness than the CEO called in sick at the start of May — and he’s been calling in sick ever since.

Bottom line on the latest development? Frise  said the board has been advised by Barry’s lawyer that “Mr. Holmes will not be returning to employment with the Windsor Public Library.”

I just don’t think Windsor book lovers have read the last chapter on this taken-from-true-life story.

More to come.

Is it me, or is reading the new vogue?

For the Literary Hoarders, it’s no secret that reading is a serious passion. We’ve posted pictures of the books teetering in corners, on bookshelves, or in my house, neatly lined up, but starting to take over the living room wall unit. 🙂

I am a frequent visitor to my public library’s website. I just absolutely need to know..did they release any new ebooks? (Although, I find they are quite slow in this medium…it’s usually only about once a month that this portion of the site is updated with their new titles) and how about new books, audiobooks or DVDs?

Also, is it me, or is the library rocking the titles lately? Each time I check I am amazed at the new, latest, hottest titles are there waiting for me! My To Read List at the public library is tremendous! And it’s incredible to see how closely it matches my To Read List on Goodreads.

Well this morning I checked the ebooks (nope, nothing new, **sigh**) and then looked to see New Titles in Books in the Last 7 Days. Well holy moley, we hit the jackpot there! But….it also seems that others have been swift to check as well! Not only are ALL the latest and greatest showing, they have a growing number of patrons waiting in line to read them as well. Here is just a sampling of the larger numbers of people waiting in line… (now Windsor isn’t an enormous city, so seeing numbers like these posted beside a book is pretty impressive, well at least to me it was).

These titles all have either 10 going up to 18 people placing a hold on them.

The Leftovers

Remember too, that October is the Canadian Public Library Month and I’ll just give a shout out to our Windsor Public Library for keeping this Literary Hoarders needs fed with excellent titles!

It’s good to see that the use of the public library is a continuing and growing thing. It really is where all the cool kids hang out!

And if this were my public library, you wouldn’t be able to keep me away!

(Kansas City, MO)