Blog Category: Book Sketches

Posted by BHanley on Wed, Dec 13
Depression is a difficult subject to discuss in any form: in public, with friends or family, or privately with a therapist. Finding words to describe the feelings and emotions one is experiencing can be like threading a needle. Sabrina Benaim’s debut collection of poetry titled Depression & Other Magic Tricks explores themes of mental health, love, and family with surprising verve and honesty. Benaim writes with an approachable wit and unguarded empathy. Though the collection...
Posted by JGranatino on Mon, Dec 11
“No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And never, ever fall in love.” Susanna Owens knows her family legacy well and is determined her children – Frances, Bridget and Vincent – will never fall victim to the family curse. During a summer visit to their Aunt Isabelle, the siblings uncover the family secret and begin to try to find a way to escape the curse. But can anyone really escape the pains of falling in love? A...
Posted by JGranatino on Thu, Dec 07
While Shadow awaits his release from prison, he is told his wife has been killed in a car accident along with his best friend. With no home to speak of or job to return to, he takes an offer from the mysterious Mr. Wednesday to be an errand boy, chauffer and bodyguard. Every culture has its gods, brought to America as immigrants arrived in droves. A storm is coming, and Shadow finds soon himself on the run for his life and for his soul. Gods from every culture are gathering, the ancients...
Posted by JGranatino on Tue, Nov 14
Geometric mandala designs, microcosmic symbols representing the order of the universe, have been used as ritual and religious symbols in Hindu and Buddhist art; they can also be seen in Christian art works such as the rose window of Chartres Cathedral, and in the complex geometric motifs found in Islamic art.  Carl Jung noticed these circular designs appearing in the dream state, reflective of a particular condition of inner wholeness and re-integration.  Creating mandalas can be a way of...
Posted by JGranatino on Mon, Nov 06
This little guidebook by Sakyong Mipham, son of Tibetan Buddhist Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, points out that although we are living in an age of technological sophistication and relentless connectivity, paradoxically, many of us seem more challenged in being able to sustain a simple conversation. He explores the art of being present and available to one another as an important “practice of nowness,” grounded in careful listening, generosity, appreciation, and graciousness. Adopting this practice...
Posted by JGranatino on Fri, Nov 03
Congressional intern Aviva Grossman, naïve and starry-eyed, entered into an affair with the married congressman she worked for. Publicly disgraced, pregnant and without prospects, she moves to a remote town in Maine, changes her name and reinvents herself as an event planner. Years later, she is encouraged to run for public office and inevitably, her past catches up with her. A timely novel with humor and warmth, touching on issues women may face in a gender-biased world.
Posted by JGranatino on Fri, Nov 03
As most librarians know, weeding is an essential part of keeping the library collection relevant and fresh. Annie Spence, a librarian in the Midwest, has written both love letters and breakup notes to many of the titles she has come across in her career as she moved through the stacks, deciding which to spare and which to delete. Her sense of humor and love for the written word comes through on every page, and she's included suggested reading lists for further discovery. Chances are this will...
Posted by JGranatino on Sat, Oct 28
Unlike many studies that have focused exclusively upon witchcraft-possession cases in Salem and Essex County, MA, Gasser’s well-documented and researched book examines these occurrences as a “transatlantic” phenomenon, happening in England as well as in colonial New England. Gasser is particularly interested in “patriarchal imperatives” used to control both men and women of that time. The book is filled with interesting case studies of lesser-known witchcraft proceedings. She speaks of the...
Posted by JGranatino on Sat, Oct 28
This little book explores the impact of witches: in movies, television, and books, in fashion, and in popular culture. It examines the symbolic significance of objects and practices associated with witches, from riding broomsticks to reading tarot cards and tea leaves. However, moving beyond both scary and silly depictions of witches, the authors explain that their particular brand of “witchcraft” is about dismantling “the cultural conditioning that trains women to be weak and small,” and most...
Posted by JGranatino on Sat, Oct 28
On a lovely summer eve in Amsterdam, two couples meet for dinner at a fashionable restaurant. As the evening progresses, the reader discovers the reason why – as Serge, the older brother, says – they need to talk about their children. A horrific act, more than just a teenage prank, has been committed and both couples are at odds how to rectify the situation. Koch carefully portrays his characters through a series of flashbacks which foreshadow the conclusion of the evening’s events. A...

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