Book Reviews

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Frankenstein cover

As we are now in October, it seemed a good time to revisit a classic of the horror genre, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Those of you into whose minds flash Boris Karloff as the monster, in James Whale’s Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein, are in for a shock. In the first movie, the monster speaks not a single word, but simply growls and howls; in the second film, the monster learns a few words, which he grunts out. Who can forget the memorable “Friend … Goood!”?

Well, if that’s the monster you’re expecting, you won’t find him here.

Karloff and Whale both felt that the monster was to be played like an innocent, a child who doesn’t understand the world into which he has come. In other words, the monster is something like a baby – a big, scary, grunting baby, but a baby nonetheless – and so, it does not have language, but must learn it, a word or two at a time.

Crossing Oceans Gina Holmes

Going home means different things to different people. For some, it is an expectation of warm, exciting conversations and laughter with families and loved ones. For others, returning home conjures up painful memories of broken relationships and unexpected loss.

In Crossing Oceans by novelist Gina Holmes, the protagonist, Jenny (short for Genevieve Lucas) returns to her quaint hometown in North Carolina with her five-year-old daughter, Isabella. She is about to face her stern and detached father, Jacob Lucas; her ailing grandmother, Peggy; and the man she both loves and hates, Isabella’s father, David Preston.

After Jenny left home, David married the love of his life, Lindsey. David and Lindsey dream of a blissful future together. Jenny dreads telling David about their daughter. What will David react to the news after years of Jenny’s disappearance? Unknown to anyone, Jenny harbors a secret bigger than having an illegitimate child—a terminal disease that is spreading through her body. She is told that she has only months to live.

Denying herself any chance of a new love, Jenny meets an old friend, Craig, who rents her father’s home. Craig has deep affection for Jenny, but her impassiveness to him is transparent.

"Tom Dreams" illus. by True Williams, from the 1876 1st. ed.

Although I have never caught a real murderer or found a real stash of gold, in many ways, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer reminds me of my own childhood. (I’ve been a pirate, and I’ve come back from the dead...)

Being the eldest of four, I was often the mastermind trying to see the adventure through to the end when I myself was secretly tired of it. And, being a sister, I feel jealousy deeply and I am a master instigator. Put like this, I wouldn’t like to claim these traits as an adult, but deep inside I know they are still there.

One thing that strikes me about this chapter of Tom’s life is the way that the world around him mirrors the world within him. The mood at the pirate camp had gone between high and low quite rapidly, with only the secret to balance it out in the end. Relations between Tom and Becky switch from hot to cold without a moment’s notice.

Then there is the see-saw between Tom and Aunt Polly: with Tom not thinking of the consequences of his mischief until they are too late and then being truly penitent, and Aunt Polly switching between stern and loving in the same breath.

Family Vegetarian Cooking book cover

Whether you’re adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, making an oath to eat healthier, or are just looking for some delicious new recipes to try, Family Vegetarian Cooking from Good Housekeeping is exactly the cookbook you’ve been looking for.

To begin with, don’t let the word “vegetarian” turn you off from this great new addition to the Library’s culinary collection. Of the 225 recipes offered in this book, there are literally dozens of dishes, like the Spinach and Potato Gratin or Blueberry Pancakes with Warm Blueberry Sauce, that even non-vegetarians will devour.

Almost all of the recipes use every-day, inexpensive ingredients that can be found easily in any grocery store (with the exception of a few items – like Gruyere cheese), and each dish includes the total time to complete, serving size, and most importantly, nutrition information.

While Family Vegetarian Cooking is not a beginning cookbook, most of it can still be used by someone with even minimal cooking experience because of the easy-to-follow instructions. And although this is not a microwave cookbook, occasional recipes, including the Creamy Parmesan Twice-Baked Potatoes, explain how they can be completely prepared in the microwave.

Tom Sawyer – a catch?

I’ve known a Tom Sawyer or two in my time. I’m willing to bet a marble and a pinch bug you have, too. Although Mark Twain doesn’t explicitly describe him, I can tell you that Tom’s sparkling eyes are framed by the kind of thick, long lashes that completely distract you from his sometimes questionable shenanigans.