Betty Anne Pinelli

Always an avid reader and lover of libraries, Betty Anne received her Masters in Library Media in 1998. She worked first as Media Specialist at St. Jude the Apostle School in Atlanta, then became Library Director at Marist School, where she served from 2001 to her retirement in 2017.  Having moved to Amelia Island full-time following her retirement, Betty Anne enjoys reading fiction, walking, cooking, traveling, and solving puzzles (particularly the daily New York Times crossword and the monthly cryptic puzzle from Harper’s Magazine).

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“It’s A Mystery”

The pandemic proved the perfect time to delve into a mystery series. In each, the exploration of local culture and the deepening relationships between the main characters are as important as the individual crimes. If you enjoy mysteries and feasts, you should consider: Guido Brunetti series by Donna Léon, set in Venice; Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny, set in Quebec; Bruno, Chief of Police, series by Martin Walker, set in France. Food for thought in more ways than one!

“The Latecomer” is the story of the IVF-conceived Oppenheimer triplets – high-school seniors when we meet them – and their family. It’s fair to say the triplets despise one another, and they’re willing to act on that hatred again and again. What made this book a delight for me was the sharpness of the social critique, the unforeseen (but totally believable!) plot twists, the sly satirical humor, and a resolution that was more than we could have ever expected.

Though set in a New Jersey beach town, “The Shore” is not a “beach read,” but rather an examination of a family in crisis. Margot and her teen daughters are facing the unthinkable, a brain cancer that is steadily stealing everything from Brian, their husband and father. Chapters told from their alternating points of view allow us to see the devastating effects of the disease while also demonstrating we do not mourn in the same way.

This book will forever be on my short list of favorites. When Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced by the Stalinist government to house arrest in Moscow’s elegant Metropol Hotel, he does not allow that confinement to limit him; rather, over the next decades, he creates an entire world with a delightful cast of characters, both hotel workers and guests, to lighten his days. I found this charming tale to be an uplifting antidote to our own troubled times and one that has stood up to multiple reads.

Set in the near future, this thought-provoking novel is narrated by Klara, an Artificial Friend, a humanoid machine created to be a companion/servant to a human teen. With themes of the unintended consequences of technological advances, the effects of obsolescence on humans and machines, and the fundamental question of what it means to be “human,” this haunting story and Klara have remained with me well after reading.

“Harlem Shuffle” is a heist novel, with the well-meaning but imperfect Ray Carney being led by his association with dubious friends to take part in a robbery. This simple premise leads to so much more: a colorful cast of characters rarely without a witty comeback, a touching examination of the conflict between loving one’s family and striving for success, and a brilliantly drawn picture of life in Harlem in the 1960s. This book crackles with suspense and humor.

In “Bullet Train”, what you see is what you get: five hired assassins board a high-speed train in Tokyo and commence to act on their conflicting agendas. No deep themes or philosophical wrangling here; rather, “Bullet Train” is a high-speed and darkly comic adventure meant to be enjoyed as a diversion. If it seems cinematic in nature, it will come as no surprise that it is “Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture” starring Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock.