Top Ten of 2015…And It Ain’t Over Yet

inbitterchill sunshine luckiest  girlunderwater fishbowl fatesfuries everythingeverything divers darkdarklittleblack

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As we creep ever closer to the holidays and time begins to feel like it is passing at warp speed, I hope you are able to take the time to remember all we have in this life to be thankful for. Maybe it’s family, good friends, a roof over your head, a special pet, enough food in your tummy. If you are truly fortunate, maybe it’s all of those things! Take the time to remember everyone and everything this special time of year and have a wonderful holiday full of peace and love! And maybe, just maybe, sneak in a little reading time between eating and Black Friday shopping? Here’s some ideas…

christmasbells

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini

goldfamecitrus

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

inbitterchill

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

stnicholas

Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue by Victoria Thompson

neclies

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Have a wonderful holiday season!

—Maureen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a roll!

All of a sudden I find myself in a beautiful place…I’ve read 3 really awesome books in a row. Really good books. That doesn’t happen to me very often and I hope I’m not going to jinx myself by talking about it! I feel like with books, it is sometimes feast or famine. Does that ever happen to you? Let’s hope I can keep the winning streak going a little longer…

The other part of this discussion involves the big decision: do you put down something that you find isn’t interesting to you or do you force yourself to finish it? I used to fall into the “force” camp but the older I get, the more I realize I am letting too many good ones slip by while wasting precious time agonizing over the books I could care less about. In the words of (o wise one) Elsa from the movie Frozen, it’s time to let it go. Let them go, those “not for you” books. And I have. Whew! What a relief! Look…more time for the great reads!

Here’s hoping you are on a roll with your reading as well in this new year. There are lots of great titles to discover and if you need any suggestions, you can always ask the friendly Reference staff at RRPL or better yet, check out The Reading Room, our homegrown database of librarian-reviewed titles!

—Maureen

Oh, Flavia…you go by too quickly!

If you haven’t yet discovered the joy of Alan Bradley’s charming Flavia de Luce mysteries, you are missing out on a real treat. He just released book 7 (of a planned 10 book series) January 6, titled As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.

chimney

I should be over the moon, then…right? The problem…I’ve finished it already!! Ugh! Another long year (or, gasp! more) to wait for the next installment. I fear I’m not going to make it that long. I need to learn to read these much, much slower. Or Alan Bradley needs to write faster!

Flavia, for those who have not yet met her, is a whip-smart, sassy young girl living in a small village in 1950s England on Buckshaw, her family’s large estate, which is currently in the care of her aloof, emotionally distant father. Flavia shares the house with two older teenage sisters (who she often wishes would come to harm in sinister ways), the cook Mrs. Mullet, and Dogger, the groundskeeper/jack of all trades who often covertly aids Flavia in her mischief. Inevitably, a dead body turns up in every book and Flavia, with her unmatched self-taught chemistry skills and intense curiosity, somehow gets herself involved as each case unfolds.

Colorful, eye-catching, original cover art, a marvelous cast of characters, quirky English village life, a plucky young sleuth…Flavia has it all. Look up the first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, to begin your adventure. You won’t regret it!

—Maureen

 

A worldwide book club – are you ready for that?

So, I’m online, just minding my own business…when I run across this headline:

“Mark Zuckerberg’s 2015 Resolution: Start a Book Club

Whoa.

Only this is no ordinary book club, my friends. This is serious. He vows to read a book every two weeks and has a Facebook page devoted to the club that invites discussion. Now, I am no math major, but a book every two weeks…52 weeks in a year…that’s like 2 a month…times 12 months…24 books. And isn’t he kind of busy with other things? I already have to fight to find the time to read 1 book in a month! Call me impressed!!

I really hope he makes it. What a powerful example to the younger generations about the importance of reading. If you are interested, the first book is called The End of Power by Moisés Naím. The library has just ordered 2 copies so we hope to have them available very soon!

And if you are into book clubs in general, be sure to check out RRPL’s ongoing book clubs:

  • Adult Rocky River Readers Book Discussion – next meeting is Thursday, January 15. Book: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  • Men’s Book Discussion – next meeting is Tuesday, January 20. Book: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Get “Reel” Film and Book Discussion – Wednesday, February 25. Book: Jane Eyre

—Maureen

 

Maur-een in 2014 (see what I did there?): Books I Liked This Year!

I had a bit more time to read this year I think but I find that perhaps I am getting a wee bit choosy about my books as the years go on? It seems harder and harder to make it on to my list of “I really liked you” but there were at least a few I can say were definite contenders…

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

A great “tween” read for anyone, regardless of age. Tells the story of Rose Howard, a fifth grader with Asperger’s Syndrome who gets by in life with the help of her sincere love of homonyms (Rain, Reign), her uncle Weldon who understands her, and her rescued dog, Rain. Reminiscent of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. A story of courage and overcoming obstacles.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Who knew a group of moms could be so interesting and full of secrets? A real page-turner that grabs you and holds on. Being a mom, I could relate to a lot of the small details which made the book all that more believable. Madeline, Celeste and Jane are characters that jump off the page. A fast read!

The Bear by Claire Cameron

Not for the squeamish, this book is one of those rare gems written in a very unique style that is perfectly suited to the story it is telling. After a bear attacks their campsite in rural Ontario’s Algonquin Park, five-year-old Anna must help her two-year-old brother survive in the wilderness alone. Told in Anna’s child voice, the story packs a lot of punch in very few pages. Needless to say, I won’t be camping in the Algonquin Park any time soon.

The Untold by Courtney Collins

A fictionalized account of Jessie Hickman, a real-life livestock wrangler in the mountains of Australia, this debut novel tells the remarkable story of Jessie from the perspective of the child she buried: her neglected childhood, her circus days, and finally her outlaw days following the murder of her abusive husband, Fitz. I really enjoyed this book. The story unfolds slowly but you really get to know Jessie and the descriptive language is beautiful.

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

Ok, let me begin by saying that it seems you will either really like Herman Koch’s books or you will really hate them. I haven’t found too many people in the middle on that one. I happen to like them, even though I hate all the characters while reading his books. I didn’t say it had to make sense! Koch just has a way with evil-ness and twisted storylines…it is his gift. His newest book revolves around a doctor who, shall we say, is a bit lacking in the ethics department. Dr. Marc Schlosser doesn’t much care for being a doctor, and doesn’t really want to help people. But he does, here and there, enjoy the perks of his profession, one of which is crossing paths with the rich and famous. In Summer House with Swimming Pool, Dr. Marc ends up befriending a movie star but both of their lives will change in ways even he couldn’t foresee. Sinister!

Thirty Girls by Susan Minot

Told in alternating chapters, this novel follows the lives of Esther, a Ugandan teenager kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army, and Jane, an American journalist, who has traveled to Africa to delve deeper into stories like Esther’s. Both of the characters have struggles and as Minot interweaves their stories, you discover more about who each character really is. Based on true life events of girls kidnapped in boarding schools and enslaved or married off, this book came out before the events that are now unfolding in Nigeria with Boko Haram and so is very timely.

Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

Another timely book…this one mainly covering the subject of death with dignity, Five Days Left tells the stories of two individuals, Scott and Mara, and how each is dealing with the limited time they have left with their loved ones, both for different reasons. Mara, once a powerful and successful attorney, was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease and is planning how to end her life to save her loved ones the embarrassment and stress of coping for her. Scott, a teacher with a first baby on the way, is coping with having only a limited time left with a foster child he has become very attached to. An interesting take on death with dignity, from a character living with having made up her mind.

Three Bargains by Tania Malik

Madan is growing up poor in India with a father that could take him or leave him (and would probably rather leave him). After his father makes a horrible mistake and costs his little sister her entire future, Madan makes a deal with his father’s employer, Avtaar Singh, the most powerful man in town, to bring her home and protect her. The bargain costs Madan his own future, as he becomes a mentee to Avtaar and learns the ropes of his many business dealings, but in the end, who will have the power? An involved story with a lot of descriptive detail of life in India.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

When 12-year-old Eva is dumped on her estranged and recently widowed father’s doorstep by her mother, she is thrown into a whole new world with a whole new dynamic. There she meets her older half-sister and film star want-to-be, Iris. Together, brainy and thoughtful Eva and daring and beautiful Iris decide to pursue Iris’ dream and run away to Hollywood. After a scandal drives them out of town, Eva and Iris end up crossing the country with a cast of characters (and family) in tow. An entertaining read about some crazy family relationships.

Caribou by Charles Wright

Tennessee native Charles Wright has written poetry for over 20 years and was named Poet Laureate of the United States this year. He often focuses on nature themes and the human condition in his works, trying to inform the reader and make them think and reflect about their position and effect in the world. While his latest collection, Caribou, is a slender volume, it still delivers quite the punch, addressing themes such as aging, death, saying goodbye, redemption, and regret. I am amazed by the feeling Wright can evoke in so few words; most of the poems take up less than one small page. A wonderful, lyrical short read that will leave you pondering life’s big mysteries for a long time to come.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

Book 6 in the Flavia de Luce mystery series was another speedy and enjoyable read as usual. This one was a bit more melancholy as Flavia’s life is becoming complicated by the fact that Buckshaw, her beloved home, may be in jeopardy of being sold. Flavia is growing up but still has the spunk and determination we have come to love her for. A great series! Book 7 due out January 6!!

The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

Together, my son and I finished all 5 books in this series this year: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian. It was a wonderful adventure following Percy, first as he discovered his demigod status, and later as he battles monsters and fellow evil demigods to save Olympus. A series worth visiting, with or without a 10-year-old son!

Happy Holidays!

—Maureen