The Giver of Stars by Jo Jo Moyes

September 10th, 2020 by admin

Reviewed by Doris Eith

Set in the Depression era, Alice is married to Bennet Van Cleve and lives in a small town in Kentucky. She was unhappy in England with her husband and overbearing father-in-law. Alice seeks a better life and eagerly signs on as the WPA Backpack Librarian along with four other women who travel the mountain bringing books to others. Each woman get to know the backwoods families on the route who depend on the traveling librarians. Each woman has issues as they put in grueling 15 hour days to help other people.

Margery is the organizer who has a unique personality as do the other ladies as they adjust to the way of life. Relationships and everyday life is about hardship, friendship, justice, passion and loyalty. The story is funny and heartbreaking. Based on a true event, I couldn’t put it down and await the movie.

Visit Ms. Moyes virtually at


The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

July 9th, 2020 by cwood

AMAZING, fast-moving thriller starting with alcoholic, beautiful stewardess, Cassie, engaging in a one-night stand in Dubai with fellow American financier, Alexander Sokolov, who is murdered by Russian spy, Elena, who slices his throat but spares Cassie, as he is out from alcohol by his side.  Cassie wakes up, attempts cleanup and leaves not knowing if she did the awful deed, but sure it is not in her to murder.

Intrigue continues unabated, bringing in her sister, husband and their children, more one night stands and binges and winds up in Rome where Elena is tracking her to finish her off at her superiors’ insistence. Windup: Spy kills Elena in her room same way she executed Alex, then proceeds to attack Cassie, who is saved by bartender lover found in Rome.

Cassie is urged by savior to call hotel security, but attacker spy says call FBI to save you and me from Russian spy execution in future, so Cassie does and last few pages reveals happy ending when the two meet in separate protection lives and Cassie confides how happy she is in her new sober life with Alex’s baby, she named Masha.

Read in one day.  Great author.
by Joan Badie

For the Love of Writing: The Journey from Process to Product

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

May 12th, 2020 by cwood

Many thanks to Doris Eith for reviewing Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes!

Nineteen Minutes is a fictional story similar to the Columbine tragedy.  The writing is compelling and asks us to think about dysfunctional families, bullying and school dynamics.  It questions preconceived ideas about everyday life and how we treat those who don’t fit in.  Do not judge others when there is also a story behind the headlines.

The novel is set in small town Sterling, New Hampshire where nothing ever happens until complacency is shattered by violence that took nineteen minutes. Events unravel in alternating narratives of everyday life and show the social pressure of conformity. After the mass shooting, many characters are explored further with the trial bringing out empathy for the troubled teen as the story unfolds.  Why did Peter kill ten and injure many others in a mass shooting?

The story is well written with snapshots of characters that stay with the reader long after the trial ends.

Everything is miscellanous: the power of the new digital disorder by David Weinberger

August 25th, 2014 by cheryl r

This title is a fascinating look at the world and how humans attempt to organize it. According to Weinberger , “In the past, everything has its one place – the physical world demanded it – but now everything has its places: multiple categories, multiple shelves. Suddenly, everything is miscellaneous.” The author describes the ways in which “digital disorder” is changing how many of us live – impacting work, play, education, and social interactions. “The digital world…allows us to transcend the most fundamental rule of ordering the real world: Instead of everything having its place, it’s better if things can get assigned multiple places simultaneously.” The book begins with a visit to a Staple’s mock store where products are carefully organized to provide optimized sales in the real stores. The book ends with a visit to a local store located in the same place since the 1920s that is the epitome of disorganization. In between are a wide-ranging selection of topics and types of organization: Dewey Decimal Classification, Linnaeus’s classification of nature, BBC, iTunes playlists, the Bettmann Archive of photographs, Google Earth, and tags, among many others. I thought this book was very readable. Even the notes were intriguing and led me from one idea to another – much the way the book describes the third order of order. I would recommend this popular science book to anyone who is interested in the power and usefulness of miscellany.

Curl-up Books for a cold winter’s night

January 14th, 2014 by cwood

We thought that 2013 was a winter for the records, but it turned out to be merely a dress rehearsal for 2014.  It’s only mid-January, but already we have been colder longer and in more places than we could have imagined.  Even in our new home in the Deep South we have felt Old Man Winter’s frosty breath and have learned that cold is cold wherever it is, and we have donned our warm apparel to ward off the  unexpected chill.  We know that our friends in other parts of the country are truly suffering the effects of the “big freeze” and our hearts go out to those whose heating bills are so high that their food budgets are in jeopardy.  It’s a tough decision to have to choose between being warm and hungry or shivering and sated. 

One anecdote for the long, dark winter evenings is to put on fuzzy pajamas, wrap up in a warm blanket and curl up with a good book.  Your local library is ready to help make that happen.  All you need do is decide what would best serve your purpose.  Keep in mind that the “beach books” that kept you entertained last summer may not be what you want when the thermometer registers single digits.  Just as you tend to choose heartier foods in cooler weather, perhaps you should be looking for more substantial reading material.  I have found that winter is the time to return to the classics.  A few of my own personal favorites are suggested below. 

Shortly after our move to Alabama, I found my way to the local library and before long had joined two book discussion groups, one meeting in the afternoon and one evening “heavy hitters” group.  The first choice for the latter was Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, her only novel as it turned out because she was killed before writing a second one.  I had seen the film version more than once and was certain I had read the book.  I was familiar with the plot and the major characters so I must have read it.  Since I had disposed of most of my library before leaving New Jersey. I knew I did not own a copy and therefore purchased one in case I wanted to mark passages. 

As soon as I started reading Mitchell’s magnum opus, I knew that I had not read this book before.  I became caught up immediately and realized why this book is as widely read as it is.  The film version is remarkably true to the text, but it is not exactly the same experience.  Just as seeing photos of your best friend is not the same as seeing that friend, reading the author’s words is a more intimate encounter.  I began to understand the “real” Scarlett and found myself more sympathetic to her than to the self-absorbed young lady I had seen on the screen.  I empathized with Melanie and respected her integrity more than I had with the vapid character in the movie. 

 Not too long after the book discussion, the film was shown on one of those channels with the dozens of commercials.  When my husband alerted me that it was on, I told him that I wasn’t interested because it’s too long and with commercials would be on nearly all night. However, I decided to tune in for a minute and got hooked.  Not only did I watch it all until after midnight but then watched the beginning that I had missed.  It was after 2 am when I finally turned off the TV and rolled over to go to sleep.  Needless to say, I was tired all the next day. 

 My suggestion for your winter reading is to read or reread Gone With the Wind, and if you make it through that, take a spin through The Great Gatsby.  You’ll find yourself immersed in the history of another era but more importantly, you’ll realize what makes these works classics.  They deal with human nature so realistically that even if the characters are not people you recognize as friends you would like to know, they portray people with characteristics that are universal.  The classics stand the test of time because although situations may change, people change very little.  Shakespeare knew that, Dickens knew it, and so did all the others whose works endure. 

 BTW, a book I heartily recommend for a wondrous read is another by a woman writer who also stopped at one.  This remarkable story is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, who devoted a good part of her life to promoting the career of a fellow Southern author, Truman Capote.  In this novel resides one of the most unforgettable characters in literature, lawyer Atticus Finch, a man of absolute integrity and impeccable moral stature.  The narrator is Finch’s daughter, a young lady known as “Scout.”  I promise you that if you spend some time with this family, you’ll come away with a sense that there is some hope for our species. 

 Stay warm, and stay focused.  There’s lots of excellent reading material out there.  It’s sitting on a shelf waiting to be selected.  Make a date, and don’t be afraid to venture into new territory or to revisit the old favorites.  If you find that you don’t like your date, put it aside and try another.  That “wallflower” you overlooked may prove to be the “love of your life.”    

Many thanks to Ann Dow, long time West Deptford Free Public Library friend and patron, for warming up our West Deptford Reader Reviews blog. Happy New Year!

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

May 27th, 2013 by cwood

Friday afternoon, I hoped to write a review about Kevin Powers’ book, The Yellow Birds.  Luckily, or unluckily, the West Deptford Free Public Library’s copy of the book was checked out, leading me to recall hearing the author was speaking in the tri-state area.  Let’s not discuss my guilt for not getting over to the Free Library of Philadelphia for Kevin Powers’ May 16, 2013 Author Event.  It is really neither here nor there as a podcast of the event is available online. The Free Library of Philadelphia has done a wonderful service archiving recent Author Events.

The Yellow Birds

I became immersed in the author’s story a few months ago while reading the book and again on Friday, May 24, 2013, as I listened to the veteran’s podcast.  Reading The Yellow Birds offered me a glimpse into a cathartic journey resolving personal conflict without naming the steps.  I was particularly impacted by the passage chronicling an active soldier’s reaction to a medic’s demise on the battlefield.

Listening to Kevin’s voice urged me toward continued faith in peaceful resolution.


I thank the author for protecting us.   


The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

April 4th, 2013 by cwood

Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka depicts the communal cultural experience of a group of young brides brought to San Francisco shores more than a century ago.  The book possesses a poetic tone as the author uses a third person plural narrative to convey the cultural roots of the Japanese women. The women depicted by the author at first appear very different from today’s wives, yet much of the book mirrors “everywoman” experiences drawing readers closer to the pleasure, plight and burden of U.S. marriage migration.


As a young married, I peered out the bedroom window.  She donned her straw hat and began to mow the lawn. Back and forth at a fever pace she mowed.  I watched and vowed never to mow and to date I haven’t.

Unfortunately, this was the only WDFPL National Women’s History book review submitted during March 2013.  Oh well, maybe next year. 



End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

December 13th, 2012 by cheryl r

This book an uplifting true story about a two-person book club. Will Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Anne, have most of their club meetings in Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center while waiting for her cancer treatment. Mary Anne Schwalbe was an active woman: loving wife and mother, member of the Women’s Commission/International Rescue Committe, former Director of Admissions for Harvard/Radcliffe, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, friend and mentor to many people around the world. She shares her love of the printed word with all three of her children, but she creates a special bond with the author during the hundreds of hours they spend in hospitals. “Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.” The reader will meet many interesting people and an eclectic collection of titles, including some childhood favorites. Although the outcome of this story is apparent from the start the story is not depressing. There is a lot of living packed into this book. I wish I had known this admirable woman and her family. The only negative is that I now have dozens of titles to add to my ‘to-read’ list, and unlike Mary Anne, I’m a slow reader. A complete list of all of the titles mentioned throughout the book is included at the end.

Just my type: A book about fonts by Simon Garfield

November 18th, 2012 by cheryl r

Letters words – fonts are everywhere you look in the modern world. Unless you live in isolation you probably see dozens of fonts each day. This title is an interesting look at fonts/typefaces – not just their history but also the way they affect the reader. “Typefaces are now 560 years old, but we barely knew their names until about twenty years ago, when the pull-down font menus on our first computers made us all the gods of type. Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Garfield unravels our age-old obesession with the way our words look.” The author is passionate about the topic of type and describes many of the fonts with human characteristics. This title includes numerous illustrations of typefaces and ads. It even mentions ” The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, which is used as a display phrase for fonts, and the very popular YouTube video that it inspired. Although I was familiar with two terms applied to type – serif and sans serif- I never spent much time thinking about typefaces before readin this book. Now I’m much more aware of the look of the printed word. I had an immediate negative impression of the font used for the 2012 London Olympics, and I regularly check to see if the book I’m reading includes information about the typeface. Just My Type is an entertaining and enlightening read that should appeal to a wide audience.

The Hedgehog, a movie in DVD

August 7th, 2012 by cwood

By Ann Dow

The French have an expression that says chacun a son gout, which is translated “everyone to his or her taste.”  That is why we have varied car  models, unlimited  paint colors and many ice cream flavors.  Not only do we not always like the same things as others, but often we don’t even like what we ourselves used to like.  Books and movies as well as authors and film stars have fans who follow their favorites and often make the difference between a rare gem and a remainder.  Highly touted films make their way into the Multiplex only to disappear at the end of the first week.  The most beloved authors sometimes find their work among the literary discards on the shelves at the local dollar store.

I recently watched a film that I highly recommend to anyone who speaks French or just likes to hear it spoken and doesn’t mind reading subtitles; who loves Mozart and Russian literature; who appreciates irony; and who has the patience to watch a story slowly unfold with little action but a great deal of nuance.  The ideal viewer will be so familiar with Tolstoy that he/she will recognize that naming  a cat Leo is  a mark of tribute to that remarkable author .

The interesting feature is that the three disparate protagonists in this story are a 15-year-old reclusive girl extremely bright for her age, a 57-year-old apartment concierge with little formal education but unlimited curiosity for self-learning, and a middle-aged, educated Japanese man who moves into the upscale apartment in Paris and recognizes the potential of his oddly matched neighbors.  He becomes the catalyst to change the lives of the other two.  He is like a careful gardener who brings to flower the rare seeds that had been ignored because no one recognized their value.

To the truly thoughtful moviegoer who enjoys the rare fare at the art movie house, I highly recommend this film for your pleasurable viewing.  To others, you may want to try it, but if it moves too slowly for your taste, you need not be concerned.  I don’t like caviar even though I know it’s a rare delicacy.  I have no idea what a truffle tastes like and am unlikely to find out; if that makes me a peasant, so be it.  I like what I like, and I think that Frenchman got it right:  we do have to be true to ourselves  and spend our time on what makes us happy.  In case you do decide to have a look, our library has a DVD copy. By the way, I suggest that before you watch the film, you read the book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog —also available at the WDFPL.   Let me know what you think.