Boardwalk Empire and Northside by Nelson Johnson

December 29th, 2011 by cwood

A Reader’s Review by Ann Dow

I am reading Boardwalk Empire, and the  book is a far cry from the HBO series.  It is a fascinating study of how Atlantic City came about.  Of course, this is of interest to me because I grew up there, but it should interest anyone who wants to know more about how places got to be what they are, especially resorts because most of them started out as tracts of sand until someone with foresight developed them and made them into what they are.  This would apply to Long Island, Florida, Newport, Bar Harbor and nearly any seaside enclave you might name.  Even the fact that some of those developers were shady characters is part of the common equation, and that’s what makes this book worth reading.  It’s not a soap opera like the TV show, but it does hold my attention and may indeed hold yours.

I also finished and enjoyed The Northside by the same author, Nelson Johnson (no relation to the legendary Nucky Johnson of Atlantic City fame) aka Nucky Thompson in the HBO series.  This one is about the African-American residents of the section of Atlantic City known as the Northside.  These people, many descendants of slaves, were the ones who comprised the main workforce of the industry that put AC on the tourist map.  They worked tirelessly for little reward and were treated little better than their ancestors, but they built their own society in their allotted part of town.  Many of them became professional people, and their children became doctors, lawyers, school teachers, and in several cases, celebrities.

The common denominator of these two books is that with the right raw materials, something good can be made from very little.  It takes determination and effort, but eventually the raw clay becomes a solid object that rises out of its surroundings and in time becomes the model for future sculptors to emulate.  In the case of Boardwalk Empire, this clay can deteriorate over time and unnurtured, can return to dust.  This happens when too much emphasis is placed on the place and not enough on the people who inhabit it.  Atlantic City is a classic example of such decline.  The Northside, which produced solid citizens, is still there even though many of those citizens have moved to other places which were not available to their forebears.  They continue to thrive and to make a difference and to influence their children to strive to do likewise.

The Gray-Nosed Kitten by Miriam E. Mason

November 21st, 2011 by cwood

A book review by Patty

This is a book written long ago, but an overlooked timely classic about an unwanted kitten who brings a lonely boy and a town together to form friendships.  It proves that even a gray-nosed kitten can do great things.  A must read for all ages!

It is interesting to note the book was illustrated by Marie C. Nichols and published in 1950 by Houghton Mifflin Company.  Patty is a yet  undiscovered illustrator who works part-time at the West Deptford Free Public Library circulation desk.   In browsing the book’s hand drawn illustrations,  I suspect this was a childhood favorite that had a strong influence on Patty’s artistic development.

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

October 31st, 2011 by cwood

A Halloween book review by Joan Badie

In a Salem setting, the main character, Lizzie Tucker, is amusingly described and possesses beyond normal traits.  She inherits a historic saltbox that brings her to Massachusetts and takes a job as pastry chef for Dazzle’s Bakery.  She finds she has unusual talent for making cupcakes and one special customer orders two dozen a day that sets the stage for the first of Seven Deadly Sins, Gluttony.

As in the Stephanie Plum series, two intriguingly different men appear in Lizzie’s life to enhance the adventure of finding the first of seven stones that represent the seven Deadly Sins. Lizzie is told she is one of only two humans with the supernatural power to find the mystic stones.  This truly is great Halloween reading, and the story has you begging for more.

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

October 28th, 2011 by cwood

In celebration of National Reading Group Month, many thanks to all the West Deptford Free Public Library readers who shared their thoughts on summer reads online and in person this year.

The following is the last summer reader review posting from 2011 WDFPL summer readers:

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
A Novel Destinations book review

I think this one was inspiring in ways.  Sometimes one doesn’t realize how much their insecurities and inabilities hold us back from opportunities; and in this love.  Hanna’s illiteracy disabled her not only from love, but her freedom as well.

PLEASE pick me!  I aspire to be more adventurous!” was the reviewer’s closing line.

The final reviewer did not win the backpack this year, however I suspect the Novel Destinations backpack winner will make good use of the backpack as well.

Congratulations to our Novel Destinations booklovers backpack winners.


Happy Birthday by Danielle Steel

October 28th, 2011 by cwood

A Novel Destinations book review by Miriam

Great “beach reading,” all fluff and no real substance.

Dream When Your’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg

October 24th, 2011 by cwood

A Novel Destinations book review by Natalie

This was a great read about three sisters during World War II who wrote letters to their boyfriends throughout the war.  They learn things about how strong love is and how strong families HAD to be because of the war.  This was very empowering and allowed me to step in their shoes and acknowledge not only what soldiers sacrificed, but also understand those battling their own wars on the home front.

The Cardinal’s Blades by Pierre Pevel

October 21st, 2011 by cwood

A Novel Destinations book review by Eileen

The Cardinal’s Blades is set in the time of the Three Musketeers in an alternate 17th century France, an elite swashbuckling guards corps is reactivated for a new mission to foil a sinister plot to destablize the ruling order that will require overcoming shadows from the past and disentagling the shifting alliances of friend and foe.

Cold Hit by Stephen J. Cannell

October 14th, 2011 by cwood

A Novel Destinations book review by Miriam

Shane Scully is a detective with a rogue spirit.  Unfortunately, he is married to his boss in the Los Angeles Police Department.  These detective/thriller novels  have well-developed characters and superb plots.  It makes for better reading and continuity if you read them in order, since the plots include Scully’s growing son.  Each novel can stand alone, but if you enjoy the interplay among the characters, it makes sense to read all of them.

Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts

October 13th, 2011 by cwood

A Novel Destinations book review by Pat

This book is the first  on the Gallaghers of Ardmore and about the first of them to marry.  It is the first step to breaking a spell so two lovers can reunite.  Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts is the second love story and more of the beautiful folklore of Ireland.


Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

October 12th, 2011 by cwood

A Novel Destinations book review by Ellen

Beatrice and Virgil is another masterpiece!  I loved it.

It was a quirky story that evoked empathy and understanding without being extremely dark.