“Parachute”

Australian author and illustrator, Danny Parker and Matt Ottley, have created a well-crafted picture book that will inspire toddlers to believe in themselves.

Adults often forget how intimidating the big, adult world is.  Seen from the perspective of  toddlers everything in their lives is so oversized.  Little Toby in “Parachute” has found a way to deal with the big world he confronts.  Toby wears a parachute.

Illustrator Ottley shows us what it is like for Toby to get out of bed in the morning.  As he contemplates climbing down the ladder of his bunk bed, Toby has the security blanket of his parachute strapped to his back.  9780802854698_p0_v1_s118x184.jpgToby always wears his parachute.  It makes him feel safe at the playground, at the zoo, and as he climbs a ladder to rescue his cat in a tree house.

Through words and pictures, this creative team delivers a message that will resonate with all young readers.  The illustrations focus on Toby and how he views the big world he faces and gains confidence.

 

“The Danish Girl”

0025192324598_p0_v3_s118x184.jpg Based on the lives of Danish artists Gerda and Einar Wegener, “The Danish Girl” is a moving, if not entirely accurate, account of the first sex change operation.

Eddie Redmayne gives a moving portrayal of Einar Wegener, who begins to doubt his male sexuality.  Eventually, he creates an alternate persona Lilly and ultimately can only live as Lilly.  His understanding, loving wife, Alicia Vikander, mourns the loss of Einar but comes to support her husband’s need to be a woman.

Directed by Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech,” critics felt the movie played fast and loose with the facts and failed in its portrayal of this story.  In spite of this criticism, critics applauded the performances of Redmayne and Vikander.  Redmayne’s transformation from Einar to Lilly definitely makes this an important movie.

The Man on the Washing Machine

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A debut novel by Susan Cox, this title is set in San Francisco in a small neighborhood where the protagonist, Theophania Bogart, has fled from England to start a new life after a family crisis. She runs a small shop named Aromas, selling high end bath and beauty aids, and is trying to live a quiet life when she witnesses a murder of a neighbor who has fallen out of his apartment window to his death. Shortly after, Nicole, Theo’s partner in the shop goes missing, Theo stumbles upon an intruder in her apartment and her life becomes complicated by a new tenant in her building. Cox won the First Crime Novel Award from the Mystery Writers of America for this book, and she pens a quick moving and engrossing story  with quirky characters that you won’t want to put down until the end is reached.

The Passion of Dolssa

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry is a historical novel that, even though it is Young Adult, reaindex.jpgds much like an adult book. The story is set in the 11th century in Europe during the period of the religious Inquisitions. It follows three characters, Dolssa a young woman accused of heresy  for her preaching about her relationship with her”beloved” (God), Botille, a young woman and town match-maker who runs a tavern with her two sisters, and Lucien De Saint Honore, a friar who is determined to stop Dolssa’s preaching.

Author Julie Berry brings to life a horrific period in history when millions of people were persecuted and condemned to death for not conforming to the Church’s beliefs and dogma. “The Passion of Dolssa” offers a slice of life in southern France and Spain after the Albigensian Crusade, along with wonderful portraits of women who strive to survive during that period. It’s not about big heroics. These women, Botille, her sisters, her neighbors, are ordinary people whom readers will come to care for as they follow them through the pages of this novel.

This book can be heavy at times but do not let that deter you! I am not yet finished with the book but I am enthralled with the story. The subject wasn’t originally something that I thought I would find interesting but each character has a wonderful voice. Also, each chapter is short, only a few pages, so it keeps your attention span moving. I think that this book will wind up being one of the best books of the year!

“The Widow”

Product Details by Fiona Barton.

“The Widow” takes place in England beginning when Glen Taylor is killed by a bus. His widow, Jean, is now being hounded by the press for an exclusive tell-all story about her (now dead) husband.  Glen was the prime suspect in the disappearance of 2 year-old Bella. We are not certain if Jean feels sympathy or disgust for her husband. We don’t know if he is guilty of the crime. Along with Jean, a detective on the case and a journalist interviewing Jean tell the story from their points of view.  Touted as a “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on the Train” read-a-like, “The Widow” was not as compelling as those titles nor as grisly.  “The Widow” has the reader guessing until the end as to who is truly guilty of the crime against the missing Bella.  I found it somewhat difficult to feel sympathy for Jean and finish the book at all. An okay read.