hbellanca@northshire.com's blog

The Bells

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The Bells: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307590534
Availability: Special Order
Published: Broadway Books - June 28th, 2011

A surprisingly believable and compelling tale written from the unusual perspective of the bastard son of an 18th century, deaf bell ringer in the Swiss alps. The boy has a preternatural gift for hearing and a remarkable singing voice. The reality of life in those times and within the realm of the church was not always as beautiful as the sounds generated by it. This book manages to be a magical aural experience in which the boy struggles against unthinkable hardships to create beauty around him. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca


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Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307389923
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - May 15th, 2012

Hands down my most favorite book of the year. The function of the human mind is an endless source of fascination, in my book, and this book takes the reader to concepts contrary to common thinking through the ages. His research suggests that our decisions are barely influenced by the part of our thinking brain of which we are aware. He brings into question the whole notion of culpability. Not to suggest that people should "get away" with anti-social behavior but that we should reconsider the consequences we impose on those who "misbehave." A mind-blowing assessment of who's really in our drivers' seats. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca

The Lake Shore Limited

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The Lake Shore Limited (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307276704
Availability: Special Order
Published: Vintage - May 31st, 2011

A complicated central character loses her boyfriend on 911. The book deals with the ways she and others cope with the loss, expectations for those who have lost and the general challenges of relationships. Miller brings humor to these weighty subjects - a solid good read. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca

I Think I Love You

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I Think I Love You: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400076918
Availability: Special Order
Published: Anchor - September 6th, 2011

I recommend this book. Pearson evokes perfectly the passions of fan-dom, as well as the setting of a girls' life in blue collar, 70s England. She portrays well that supercharged energy that is generated among girls 11-14 when they fall passionately in love with a media star. It's a demographic generally considered not worth anyone's serious consideration - just a bunch of silly (worthless?) girly business. Except 1. it is big business and 2. why don't we take a look at these very intense feelings and try to understand them in the bigger picture, as we did w the boys' relationships in Lord of the Flies? Pearson contends w this question obliquely - as she said in her interview, she can't really put her finger on what elements contribute to this phenomenon or what it reflects. It would do the book an injustice to call it a "Beach read" which many will do because the protagonists are not male, but it would be fun to read on a beach! Or by the fire on a snowy day. And then discuss with others who have read it. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca

The Secret Scripture

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The Secret Scripture: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143115694
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - April 28th, 2009

This book kept me rapt till the bittersweet end. A 100-year old psychiatric hospital patient's life is gradually uncovered by her fascinated caregiver - reaching back to a time when acceptable women's behavior was closely proscribed. Taking the reader from the conflict years in Ireland to today, it is full of unexpected revelations, betrayals, allegiances and lost loves. A moving, stick-to-your ribs kind of story. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca

Then We Came to the End

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Then We Came to the End: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316016391
Availability: Backordered
Published: Back Bay Books - February 26th, 2008

If you enjoyed the movie Office Space (which you should see if you haven't!) you'll enjoy this story set in a Chicago ad agency as it is being forced to downsize itself out of existence. You can be a fly-on-the-wall to the gossipy intrigue among the staff of rather cynical "creatives" as they plot to avoid layoffs. The pressure is on for them then, to come up with the winning idea for a pro bono ad campaign about breast cancer that is funny and will cheer up the victims. The author manages to present multi-dimensional characters, that could be just caricatures, and infuses sad situations with a wry humor. Maybe not great lit, but perceptive writing about the challenges of being a human being in a modern corporate environment. Highly recommended! ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca


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