Vicky Berdecio

Job Title: 

At the Edge of the Orchard

Summary: 
Once again Tracy Chevalier, New York Times bestselling author of "Girl with a Pearl Earring", has come up with a winner. In this new novel she explores the period of history covering the American frontier. Beginning in 1838 she describes the life of a family living in the swamps of northwest Ohio struggling to survive as they plant an apple orchard. The story then fast-forwards to 1853 as the youngest son of the family strikes out on his own to explore the wilds of California. There he eventually begins working for a naturalist who sells plants from the new world to be shipped back to the gardeners of England. This novel is a beautifully written tale which keeps the reader riveted with its excellent characterizations, dialogue, and descriptions of the landscape. One is naturally transported back to that time and place in a way that can be called almost magical.

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Vanessa and Her Sister

Summary: 
This historical novel covers a seven year period beginning in 1905 in London, at the start of the famous Bloomsbury group. Written in the first person as a series of journal entries, this book covers the relationship between the writer Virginia Woolf and her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell. Woven throughout the story are letters, postcards and telegrams which embellish and bring to life the many other writers and artists who met to discuss literature, art and politics. It is a well-written novel and a totally engaging read.

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Miller's Valley

Summary: 
Anna Quindlen's latest novel is a wonderful story about the way we define family and home. Set in a small town in Pennsylvania on the verge of great change, the story is told through the eyes of a young girl named Mimi, or Mary Margaret to her mother, or Meems to her older brother Tommy...The characters include a nurse, a farmer and all-around fix-it-man, a war veteran, a construction worker and real estate developer. This book is a moving tale which is a pleasure to read, featuring Quindlen at her best.

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Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

Summary: 
Award-winning marine conservationist and ecologist Carl Safina has written a new book. In it he brings together extensive scientific research and field observations expressed in an accessible story-telling voice. He focuses on three main species: free-living elephants in Africa, the wolves re-introduced to Yellowstone Park, and killer whales (a.k.a orcas) of the Pacific Northwest. Safina's words offer us an insider's view into the lives and minds of many creatures, shedding a brilliant light on their capacity for perception, thought and emotion. His work compels us to re-evaluate how we interact with them, as well as redefining our place as humans within the circle of life.

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Cats on the Job

Summary: 
The full title of this book says it all...: Cats on the job: 50 Fabulous Felines who purr, mouse and even sing for their supper. Each of the fifty working cats featured in this fun book includes a full-page color portrait and a job description that would make any kitty proud. From bookstore cat, to library cat, to hospice cat ...their resumes are quite stellar. If you are looking for a collection of entertaining tails...ooops! tales, then this is a book for you!

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Gratitude

Summary: 
In the final publication by the prolific writer Dr Oliver Sacks, a series of four short essays entitled "Gratitude", he reflects on his life and work with touching candor. In these essays he openly addresses the end of life in a highly moving manner. To sum up this collection in his own words, he writes:"Above all, I am a sentient being, a thinking animal on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure." With such a point of view, nothing more needs to be said, does it?

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Making Rounds with Oscar

Summary: 
What if you were able to predict the exact time a patient in a nursing home was going to die? Suppose that individual were a domestic cat? This book tells the story of an ordinary cat in a nursing home in Rhode Island with an extraordinary gift. Told through the eyes of an initially very skeptical doctor, David Dosa interviews and describes the experiences of numerous family members who had a visit from Oscar, the nursing home cat, just as their loved one was getting ready to pass away. With uncanny accuracy, Oscar has been able to be at the patient's side and provide loving comfort through this inevitable and final rite of passage. Written in very simple language, this easy read is at once a very touching and remarkable non-fiction tale.

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The Muralist

Summary: 
If you enjoyed reading "The Art Forger". you will most likely appreciate B.A. Shapiro's new novel called "The Muralist". The story moves through time between NYC in the 1940's and the present day. Alizee Benoit is an artist in the dawning era of American Abstract Expressionism. She is also of European Jewish ancestry and desperately trying to get visas for her relatives who are seeking asylum in the United States. The main character in the present day is Alizee's great-niece Danielle, who is trying to piece together the mysterious circumstances surrounding Alizee's sudden disappearance in the '40's. This historical novel is a gripping thriller,seamlessly weaving together the subjects of 20th century art and politics and a very well-written and moving tale as well.

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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Summary: 
Once again, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat Pray Love", has delivered a winner. This time she addresses the topic of creativity, which she calls big magic. She is referring to the mysterious, magical process of inspiration which is the essence of the creative process. With down-to-earth humor, Gilbert shares her wisdom and experience for anyone who is interested in leading a full, rich, and creative existence. She encourages us to uncover the "strange jewels" which each of us has within.

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The Marriage of Opposites

Summary: 
This historical novel by the acclaimed author Alice Hoffman is set on the island of St. Thomas in what was then the Danish West Indies. The tale begins with a young Jewish girl named Rachel who grows into a strong, unconventional woman who marries a much younger Jewish man from France. They go on to have numerous children, the youngest of whom becomes the prolific French Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro. A beautifully written story with vivid descriptions of the island, complex characters, and intricate relationships: this book is an enjoyable read for those interested in history, religious controversies, and art.

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