Monday, June 09, 2014

People's Choice 2014...Travel!

Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups allows Burbank adults to share what they're reading with their peers in the community. If you are signed up, you can see some of the book reviews at the log-in site for the book club; but we thought we would also feature some of them here, on the blog. This year's theme is NOVEL DESTINATIONS, so we're starting out appropriately with travel...including back in time to postwar London, down the Mississippi, and, of course, we'll always have Paris!

Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth
Reviewed by Rebecca F. a memoir that transports readers back to postwar London in the 1950s, where the writer began her career as a young midwife serving the community alongside Anglican nuns. Worth captures a vibrant, disappearing world, and respectfully depicts the lives and struggles of this working-class community. Through her work, she faces her own preconceptions and prejudices. The book was made into a PBS series. Both the TV series and book tackle important issues in a direct, yet gentle, way.

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
Reviewed by Apryl R. a true trip into the ecosytems and cultures of the Amazon, featuring very complex chain reactions of scientific research and discovery, and the inevitable moral dilemmas. Touching human drives gone awry. A mystery and adventure that should make you want to book a flight somewhere exotic.

The Corsican Caper, by Peter Mayle
Reviewed by Angelica R. set in Loumerain, France and a bit in Corsica. This is a delightful and easy read. The book possesses humor and vivid descriptions of delectable meals you can almost taste. I recommend this book and all his other novels for their humor and "French twists."

Reviewed by Bonnie Y.
Paris! Impressionist painters ignored by the Salon! C'est vrai! In I Always Loved You, by Robin Oliveira, American painter, Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) meets Edgar Degas (1834-1917) in the early Impressionism period when they and their fellow artists were ridiculed by critics. A fascinating account of their friendship and art influence on each other's works. This book is especially timely now that a special Degas/Cassatt exhibit of their work has opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., May 11-October 5, 2014.

The River Queen, by Mary Morris
Reviewed by Fay P. the true story of Morris’s journey downstream on the Mississippi River in a small, dilapidated houseboat. Her goal was to begin in the North Mississippi River area in Wisconsin and reach the South Mississippi River in the New Orleans area. However, her goal fell short because of a hurricane.

The author describes her adventures on The River Queen: the strong storms; houseboat repairs; mayflies, mosquitoes, putrid water; the casinos and trailer parks; the large waitress with the tiny mini-skirt; an elegant old home, now museum, on St. Feriole Island; Victorian homes in Davenport, Iowa; steamboats; jazz; old cemeteries; grave of Bix Beiderbecke (jazz musician, 1903-1931); and so much more.

Mary Morris had the assistance of Jerry, the experienced Mississippi River pilot; and, Tom, the mechanic, to keep the old boat running. Tom’s terrier, Samantha Jean, was a terror, at first, to Mary and of no assistance!

The Mississippi River is one of the world’s major rivers at 2,320 miles in length. It flows through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. And, it is full of curves swinging far east and west. There are hundreds of nameless islands, secluded backwaters, and tributaries that branch along the way.

The northern area of the Mississippi River is wide with an unpredictable bottom to navigate downstream. There is a system of 27 locks and dams, which were built to keep the water level consistent in depth in order to avoid grounding boats on sand bars.

The southern area of the Mississippi River, on the other hand, is narrow and deep, with levees to prevent flooding. Sometimes. however, the water rises higher than the levees, as can be the situation with hurricanes and heavy rain storms.

Mary Morris is the author of more than a dozen fiction and non-fiction books. Her style is compelling and draws you into her world and its cast of characters. Her website is  For more about the Mississippi River, check out,, and

Watch the blog for more reading "shares" from the adult summer reading club! And be sure to check out all the activities and programs the library is featuring for YOU this summer!

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