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What we’re reading now… October 16, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book Review, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine

They May Not Mean To, But They Do: A Novel…The challenges, frustrations and fears associated with aging parents and how to care for them (even when they are not interested in being cared for) are issues that many have dealt with or will struggle with at some point in their lifetimes. We are introduced to 86 year old Joy Bergman, sole caregiver of Aaron, her husband struggling with significant health issues, soon to lead to his demise.  We observe Joy as a lonely widow, struggling to keep her independence while yearning for constant company of her beloved children Molly and Daniel.  Molly and Daniel have their own struggles, believing Joy can not manage on her own, and are pressing for change ( in her best interests, of course!).  The struggles for all characters are portrayed well, without feeling that the author has taken any sides.   We see all the characters at their best and worst.  Joy is is a kind yet fiesty woman, and at times, made me laugh out loud.  I found this to be a poignant novel which I would recommend. Mary

Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein

Mindfulness: Six Guided Practices for…I’ve been reading a smart and insightful book called Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein.  The book is about the Buddhist practice of mindfulness – essentially becoming aware of the ways our minds work, the good and the bad, and looking at these things in a non-judgmental way.  There are chapters about how to handle difficult feelings, as well as how to treat one’s own thoughts, which I found super interesting.  Unlike traditions like Freudian psychoanalysis, in which one really tries to get at the meaning of one’s thoughts, this book suggests that we treat our thoughts as insubstantial and fleeting, like clouds in the sky.  Andrew

 

Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in…Spence, a librarian that balances snark and sincerity, chronicles her long history of book relationships.  She encapsulates her enduring loves and salacious affairs through love letters but also includes the occasional Dear John letter.  Filled with wit and passion this may be a fun and quick read but reader beware Dear Fahrenheit will be sure to lengthen anyone’s to-read list. Trent

 

 

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man by Ray BradburyThere is something about October that leads my thoughts to Ray Bradbury. It may be his use of the month in titles or my childhood love of The Halloween Tree. Either way, to me October is Bradbury month. I decided to revisit the first work of Bradbury’s I have ever read, The Illustrated Man.  I always recommend this book as an introduction to Bradbury’s work or for someone who may not be drawn to short story collections. The thing that makes a short story collection strong is variety in narrative but united in their creative voice. The Illustrated Man has both in spades. From a pre-Star Trek hologram room to a look at the Mars-based afterlife for authors, the work contained in this collection never allows the reader to be complaisant in their expectations on what the next tale will bring.  A great collection of works for a fall evening when you want to be entertained and challenged. Greg

 

Hold Still by Lynn Steger Strong

THold Still: A Novel by Lynn Steger Stronghis novel alternates viewpoints between Maya Taylor, a tenured professor living in New York City, and Ellie, her 20-year-old drug addicted daughter, who Maya sends to Florida to care for a friend’s child and get “a fresh start.” But just as things are looking up for Ellie, she makes a fatal mistake. Years later, as Maya and Ellie are still struggling to cope with their guilt and grief, Maya must own up to the parts of herself she sees in Ellie. Just as the chapters alternate in perspective, they also alternate between before and after the accident, building suspense. Selected by the Huffington Post as one of the “32 Books to Add to Your Shelf in 2016,” Hold Still balances an expertly woven plot with complicated, relatable characters. Lyndsey

 

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Since all of the men are off to war, the Vicar eliminates the church choir in The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan. When Miss Prim, a music professor, arrives in Chilbury, she insists the choir can be resurrected as a ladies’ choir. The choir lifts the spirit of participants and congregations/audiences. The story is told through diary entries by 13-year-old Kitty, her older sister Venetia, widowed Mrs. Tilling and midwife Edwina Paltry. Lots of things happen in Chilbury including bombings, baby-swapping, love affairs and undercover operations. An entertaining story. Emma

 

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir…In The Best We Could Do debut author Thi Bui explores what it means to be both a parent and a child. With the birth of her first child she realizes that there is more to her parents than she fully comprehends. And so, she sets out to understand their lives in Vietnam and their escape after the fall of South Vietnam. As she explores her family’s past she is able to better understand her own childhood and recognize and appreciate her parents’ sacrifices and unspoken gestures of love. In addition to the poetic storytelling, this graphic memoir is also beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched. Megan

 

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel by Tom PerrottaMrs. Fletcher is a humorous depiction of a divorcee who has found herself attempting to overcome empty nest syndrome. Each of the characters is searching for a way to fill a void, and though few of them are terribly likeable, you can’t bring yourself to look away. Beth

 

 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen…Helena has a loving husband and two beautiful daughters.  She has a few quirky habits such as taking two week camping trips alone, bear hunting and maintaining an impressive collection of guns and knives.  She also has a secret-she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena never knew about the abduction and loved her father, but eventually learned the truth and saw how brutal he could be when he tortured a man who appeared at their cabin.  Twenty years later, her father has escaped from prison, killed two guards and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows that because of her rigorous wilderness training as a child, only she stands a chance at finding him before he finds her. Sara

 

Less: a Novel by Andrew Sean Greer

Less: A Novel by Andrew Sean GreerArthur Less is anxious: he’s about to turn 50, his boyfriend has just left him to marry another, and his book deal has gone sour. How to deal? Less cobbles together numerous invitations and creates an around-the-world trip that ferries him to a literary conference, an author competition, a retreat, and a teaching assignment. Along the way, Arthur considers his past, his great romance with a famous poet, his mid-list literary career, and (vainly) the ravages of middle age, yet his optimism, kind heartedness and quirkiness win the day. Written with playful and witty prose, Less is a charming journey.  Dori

 

 

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What We’re Reading Now… September 12, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Biographies, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Non-Fiction, poetry, Science Fiction, Thrillers.
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Here’s a look at some of the books the Adult Services department is reading now:

A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes

 

A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes

Hapless Jackson begins his foray into crime by investing every penny he has in a sure-fire scheme to turn legitimate ten-dollar bills into counterfeit one-hundred dollar bills. It is only after Jackson loses all his money, and some of his bosses, that he turns to his streetwise brother Goldie for help. Goldie, who dresses as a Sister of Mercy and collects alms for ‘charity,’ works the seedier side of Harlem in aid of not only Jackson but Goldie’s own pocketbook. Written and set in 1950s Harlem this is a grippy and taut classic crime caper.  Trent

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John Ashbery: Collected Poems

I’ve been re-reading John Ashbery’s Collected Poems, 1956-1987, published by the Library of America.  Ashbery passed away last week, and there have been some wonderful tributes written about him online.  His poems are so wonderful, mysterious, and enigmatic – they feel like adventures of the mind, where you don’t know where you’ll end up, but the process can be exhilarating.  For readers who enjoy experimentation with language, Ashbery is one of the greatest.  Andrew

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 Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz is a mystery within a mystery. Susan Ryeland is the editor of popular, but difficult, author Alan Conway’s books. When he suddenly dies of a suspicious suicide after turning in his most recent manuscript, Susan begins some detective work of her own, beginning with investigating the contents of the manuscript. Will it reveal Conway’s killer? Dori

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In the Great Green Room by Amy Gary

In the Great Green Room is a fascinating window into the life of Margaret Wise Brown, the children’s author who famously penned Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and over 100 others. The book begins in Margaret’s childhood: a whirlwind of boarding schools in Switzerland and Massachusetts, shoulder-rubbing with members of elite United States families, and family vacations in island homes off the coast of New York–all the while, Margaret’s mind was constantly turning out whimsy. Later in her adult life, she had a playfulness that drew a stream of friends, associates, editors, and lovers to her house. She spent her first royalty check on a cartful of flowers; she lead a group called the Bird Brain Society where any member could declare a day Christmas and the other members would come over and celebrate it; the line between play and life was never entirely clear to her. Just when, at 42, she was engaged to be married and began settling into a more stable life, she died suddenly. This biography is a wonderful read for those interested in bold, brilliant women who made a mark on the world in unconventional ways. Lyndsey

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Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass  is a new YA retelling of Snow White. Mina, the daughter of a magician, has a heart of glass. When she and her father move to Whitespring Castle Mina devises a plan to win the king’s favor so that she can be the queen and finally know love. When she finally succeeds at her plan, she becomes a stepmother to the princess Lynet. Lynet is the spitting image of her dead mother, who by all accounts was beautiful and delicate. Lynet is headstrong and fierce and hates living the the shadow of a mother she never knew. When King Nicholas declares his intention make Lynet the Queen of the South instead of Mina, he creates a rivalry between the two women. Is Mina capable of destroying the one person who loves her? Can Lynet save the only mother she has even known? Megan

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I recently revisited this personal favorite of mine after watching the TV adaptation produced this past summer. Gaiman is a master story teller that produces accessible, yet still challenging, novels. To enter the world of American Gods is to enter a place where every deity ever worshiped on American soil is given a corporeal presence. Recently released from prison Shadow Moon is greeted with devastating news that sets him on a fantastical journey which reveals the gods living among us. These deities who live on attention and worship are far from their heyday and are showing the signs of the neglect. It doesn’t help that their worshipers have shifted their attention to new gods created through our culture’s adoration of technology, media, and the world economy. A book that seamless combines the world and troubles of the everyday with the fantastical. I would recommend this to readers who are new to Gaiman and get a full picture of his style and world building. Greg

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The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis is about the research that two men did 40 years ago about the way we make decisions. This is a very biographical, anecdotal depiction of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. If you go into this book wanting to know about the men who created the field of behavioral economics, you’ll enjoy this one. Beth

 

 

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Nutshell by Ian McEwan

A tale told by a baby-to-be or not-to-be? This story unfolds by a talking fetus who bears witness to an affair between his mother, Trudy, and his uncle, Claude. The adulterous pair are scheming to kill the baby’s father, John. Will the narrator be able to prevent such a crime, and possibly pursue revenge?Many twists and turns as to what will become of our villains, victims and beloved narrator.  McEwan has stuffed this tale with Shakespearean throwbacks and extensive dialogue filled with weighty vocabulary – have your dictionary handy! Mary

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My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

This is the first book in the Tracy Crosswhite series, a story of a woman who has spent the last 20 years questioning the circumstances around the death of her sister, Sarah and the murder trial that followed. When  Sarah’s body is finally found, her sister Tracy, now a homicide detective is determined to find out what happened all those years ago, and why people she loved and trusted lied to her.  An exciting, well-written thriller with twists and turns that surprise, but don’t push the bounds of belief.  I’m a little late to the Crosswhite series with the author soon to publish Book #5, but I’m looking forward to getting to know Tracy better as I keep reading! Sara

 

Cover image for On her majesty's frightfully secret service

 

On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen

Lady Georgiana (Georgie) Rannoch wants to marry her Catholic fiancée Darcy but first needs permission from Queen Mary and parliament. By marrying Darcy she would give up her place in line as 35th in line to the British throne. The Queen asks a favor of Georgie first. There is a party that the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson will be attending. The queen wants Georgie to go to the party and make sure the Prince and Mrs. Simpson don’t marry. Two guests are murdered at the house party and Georgie gets involved in solving the mysteries almost becoming a victim herself. Emma

New in the Reading Room! September 8, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Beach Reads, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized.
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Take a look at these new book reviews in our Reading Room.  Click on the link to take you there.

 

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Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth

 

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Agatha Christie: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

 

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 On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen

 

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Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

 

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The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping by Aharon Appelfeld

 

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The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes

 

Who Rules Game of Thrones? July 14, 2017

Posted by Dori in Book Discussion, Fantasy.
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got-bannerMany of us here at the library are shall I say….slightly, just a little bit – ah, who am I kidding, REALLY into George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. Some of us have read the books, some just have watched the show, but cries of  “Can you believe that Red Wedding?” or “Wow, that Cersei is ice cold!” have been heard around the water cooler.

I don’t know if the popularity is due to the medieval setting, the dragons or the crazy complicated plots, but I do know that the complex characters are one facet that we all love to dissect. So we’ve decided to share our favorites and include a poll so you can join the fun!

Chanel: My favorite characters from the Game of Thrones series are both Daenerys Targaryen and Arya Stark. Both of these ladies are strong female characters who have overcome obstacles placed upon them at a very young age due to their sex and family tragedy. I admire the fact that they are both survivors who fight hard to survive and will not let anything or anyone hinder them from their goals. They are, in my opinion the Wonder Women of Westeros!

TrentArya Stark: I respect Arya as she drives her own narrative.  She is not controlled or manipulated by others, but instead chooses a path and lets no obstacle prevent her from moving indomitably forward towards her goal.  Arya exudes those hard-to-define-but-you-know-them-when-you-see-them qualities –  moxie, pluck, and chutzpah.

Laura: My favorite character is Jon Snow. Jon is the bastard son of Eddard Stark and was raised at the castle Winterfell, the ancestral seat of House Stark and he is unaware of the identity of his mother. Jon is described as having the “Stark look”, long face, grey eyes and a lean build. Lady Catelyn Stark, Eddard’s wife, views Jon with an icy scorn as he is a constant reminder of her husband’s infidelity but Jon develops a warm and loving relationship with his half-siblings especially the tom-boy Arya (who resembles Jon and like him feels she does not fit in.)

Jon adopts the direwolf Ghost and takes him north to join the Night’s Watch while the rest of the Stark family heads south to face all kinds of turmoil. Jon is loyal, perceptive, strong and brave. I hope he makes it to the end!

Dori: There are so many juicy characters but I have to say that Tyrion Lannister fascinates me. He’s whip smart, both emotionally and intellectually, and because he’s always been persecuted within his family and in the outside world because of his dwarfism, he feels at home with the lower classes, the outcasts and the underdogs. He usually finds his way to what is ‘right’, even if the journey is a little twisted. And he’s still around – they haven’t managed to kill him off!

Megan: The world of Game of Thrones is full of characters we love and even more who we love to hate. It’s easy to love Jon Snow and Daenarys Targaryen. It’s also easy to despise Cersei Lannister and Joffrey Bannister. Some of my favorite characters are the ones who manage to stay good and true, despite the constant turmoil. Yes, Jon Snow is good and true and swoonworthy, but what about Samwell Tarly? I love how kind, loyal, and insightful he is. That description is also fitting for Brienne of Tarth. For me one of the best things about this series is the abundance of powerful women. I always find myself rooting for Arya and Sansa and Daenarys. How’s that for picking a favorite character? I had to take the easy way out and name them all!

Matt presents a haiku:
Onion smuggler
With finger bones close in pouch
Ser Davos Seaworth

Latest Editions! July 5, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Summer Reading.
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Here are the newest additions to The Reading Room. Use the links to see reviews and  book descriptions.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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In Farleigh Field: A Novel by Rhys Bowen

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

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New Boy: A Novel by Tracy Chevalier

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News of the World by Paulette Jiles

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Rebel Queen: A Novel

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The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

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The Finishing School: A Novel by Joanna Goodman

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The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

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The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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What We’re Reading Now… March 1, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review.
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Here are a few books we are enjoying now, and we hope you will enjoy them too!

Don’t Think of an Elephant! 10th Anniversary Edition: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff is more than just a how-to guide for progressives. Lakoff, one of the founders of the field of cognitive science uses cognitive science and linguistics, to explain how conservatives and progressives frame their values and stances on issues. This is a fascinating look at how our brains work and offers valuable insight on how to effectively communicate with people whose beliefs are different from yours. Megan

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fantasy story about a man drawn to return to the place he grew up to remember a wild and mysterious turn of events when he was just seven years old.  Equal parts magical and terrifying, the memory centers on his neighbor, the intriguing Lettie Hempstock.  Speaking of magical, I listened to this on audiobook and it’s read by Neil Gaiman himself and that voice–I could listen to him forever! Lauren

If you are a Seinfeld fan, please do yourself a favor and read the book Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.  This is a FANTASTIC trip down memory lane, and gives backgrounds  on the origin of characters and storylines.  I was surprised to learn that each year all the writers  were let go in hopes that they would consistently get fresh ideas by bringing new ones in (although one writer who had been with the show from the beginning avoided this fate).  Don’t feel too badly for them, Seinfeld writers were in great demand and could use the show as a springboard.  Casual fans will likely find the book tedious, but for those of us who scheduled our Thursday nights around the show, this is a treasure. Steve

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson takes us through the intertwined lives of two college peers, who hide their crazy well.  The story unfolds with past and present narration to help the audience keep up in this fast paced suspense novel. The intricate plot will keep the reader guessing beyond the last page. Beth

I sped through Australian author Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project because it was a hilarious read. The story is introduced by the main character and narrator Don Tillman, a genetics professor in search of love. To find the woman he should spend the rest of his life with, Don creates a questionnaire. The list of questions tries to eliminate someone by asking whether or not they are a smoker, a drinker, their meal preferences, punctual, etc. Don is thrown off guard when he is introduced to Rosie Jarman, a woman who is everything that Don would not find suitable for a life partner. Rosie seeks Don out for assistance in finding her biological father. Through their interactions, Rosie opens Don’s life into a whole new world and a strong friendship forms. This was an exciting, funny, and dramatic story. I listened to the audiobook, which I encourage, read by Australian actor Don O’Grady. Gina

An unforgettable and moving read, Among the Living by Jonathan Rabb is a novel set in post-Second World War Savannah, Georgia where Yitzhak Goldah, a Holocaust survivor, is welcomed into the home of his American relatives, Pearl and Abe Jesler. There, among the city’s thriving Jewish community, Yitzhak becomes “Ike,” and he must find a way to “return to the living” while adapting to a different kind of racism of the American South. When he falls for a local widow, Ike unexpectedly discovers tensions between the traditional and Reform Jews in Savannah. And when a woman from Ike’s past appears, he must choose between a promise once made and the hope for happiness. Carol

In The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti, Samuel Hawley has settled down with his 12-year-old daughter Loo in a small New England fishing village where her mother grew up. Told in alternating chapters, we learn about Samuel’s criminal past and how he’s received 12 bullet wounds, and about Loo, what she learns about her mother and father, and how she grows up amidst her parents’ pasts.  Dori

The Secret Place, the 5th book in the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French was a fascinating story of the lives of two cliques of teenage girls at an Irish boarding school. A boy was murdered on the grounds of the girls’ school one year ago, and the murder was never solved. But now a card with the words, “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM” has appeared on the anonymous “Secret Place” bulletin board where girls share their thoughts, fears and secrets. And it is up to Dublin Murder Squad detective Stephen Moran to sort out who knows what, and whodunit. Sara

Age is Just a Number -of Good (Teen) Books! February 7, 2017

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Book List, Genre Book Discussion, Young Adult.
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I have some sad news -It was decided to stop our monthly staff genre book discussions and I have to confess, I miss them already… At least you’ll have one last list of new (to you?) teen books to read and enjoy! Are you ready to see what everyone had to say about their selection this month? Me too!

Megan: The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter, is the 2017 William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens. It tells the story of three teens living in a small Tennessee town in the heart of the Bible Belt. Dill is the grandson and son of preachers and their legacy is not a happy one. Grandpa Dill was a snake charmer who became unhinged after the death of his daughter and Dill’s father, also a Dill, is in prison. His mother wants him to leave school and help support the family, but his best friend Lydia wants him to go to college. Lydia is internet famous for her fashion blog and she is eager to leave her small town middle class life and strike out on her own in New York City. The third member of this odd little group is Travis, the gentle giant. He chooses to escape the abuse he suffers at the hand of his father by retreating into a fantasy world. This book is full of the big questions teens ask, friendship, tragedy, and hope. This is a fantastic coming of age story for fans of John Green and A.S. King

Gina: We Are Still Tornadoes is written in epistolary format, by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen. Discover the thoughts of these childhood friends, Cath and Scott after their high school graduation in the letters they write to each other the following year as pen pals. Cath moves out of state to attend college while Scott remains home to assist his father in the family store and starts a band with friends. They correspond throughout the year sharing their experiences, learning, and growing. Their letters bring them close together to realize that they are more than just friends. The addition of the 80’s music references made this book enjoyable.

Steve: The first book of the Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan, is an awesome fantasy story that centers on an orphan named Will. On the Choosing Day none of the task masters choose him as an apprentice, that is until a Ranger ultimately requests him. Will is dutifully learning the ways of the Rangers, under the mentorship of the mysterious Halt, when his training is interrupted by news that the evil Morgarath is making maneuvers in an attempt to gain control of the kingdom. And then the real action begins.

Carol: In Jackaby by William Ritter, Abigail Rook comes to America in 1892 looking for adventure, and she is hired as an assistant to R.F. Jackaby, a mysterious detective who can see the paranormal. On Abigail’s first day, they are called to the scene of a murder. Jackaby is convinced that the killer is other-worldly and the game is afoot. This first in a series was published in 2014 and is a smart, funny and clever read—like a Sherlock novel, with a supernatural twist.

Sara: I read the young adult novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. It is the first in a trilogy about a 16 year old girl who wakes up in the hospital with no memory of the accident that put her there or how two friends and her boyfriend died in it. Her family moves to a new state, hoping Mara’s memory will come back gradually. Instead she begins hallucinating that she can see her dead friends and has premonitions of things before they happen. She also falls in love with a mysterious boy, Noah, who she feels like she has know for a lifetime. Were they destined to meet by forces beyond her control? And how did her friends die in the accident while she was unharmed? This book is a psychological (and perhaps paranormal) thriller, fast-paced and definitely worth reading.

Lauren: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows is a delightfully ridiculous retelling of the story of Lady Jane Grey and King Edward VI. Their fantasy world centers on the clash between Verities, “normal people”…I guess, and Ethians, who have both a human and animal form and are widely seen as the scourge of the earth. An absolutely hilarious story of magic, adventure, and a little romance.

Dori: In Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina, it’s the summer of 1977, and New York City is haunted by periodic blackouts, arson attacks and most menacingly by serial killer Son of Sam. Nora Lopez is about to graduate from high school and is thinking about her future while dealing with the stress of living with her single mother, a Cuban immigrant, and her younger brother Hector, a drug dealer who abuses his mother. To escape, Nora gets a job at a local deli and starts a relationship with Pablo, a handsome boy who works there too. As the city’s tension swirls around her, Nora must realize some hard truths while finding herself.

Beth: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is set in a dystopia Oz. When Amy finds herself displaced in Oz after a tornado, she learns that Oz is real, but it is not the Oz she had read about growing up. She’s tasked with saving Oz by taking down the all too powerful ruler, Dorothy.

Stacey: In Kids of Appetite, David Almond has been able to address serious issues with such subtle grace. Vic is struggling to cope with the loss of his father to cancer while watching his mom begin a relationship with someone new. Oh, and also Vic has Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that paralyzes his facial muscles. Escaping the house with his father’s ashes, Vic stumbles upon a tight-knit group of outsiders (yep, a nod to the S.E. Hinton book!) each with their own troubles. When they find a message hidden in the urn, the clues lead the kids to discover memories of importance to Vic’s parents. Sweet but never sappy, with a message about kindness, compassion, and living with personal integrity, plus a quirky sense of humor; this book becomes something truly special.

Thank you for joining in and reading along with us for the last few years -I hope you’ve discovered an new favorite author (or two) and (like me) found a little love in your heart for a genre you previously felt “bleh!’ about! (I’m looking at *you* horror genre!)

enjoy!
Stacey

Sara’s Top Ten of 2016 December 14, 2016

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review.
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Psychological thrillers have been high on my list this past year with a few other genres mixed in, so enjoy!

Home by Harlan Coben –A thrilling return to the Myron Bolitar series.

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The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley–suspenseful thriller filled with family secrets.

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Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer–riveting tale of a missing girl.

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Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple–a funny and poignant look into life, marriage and getting older.

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Faithful Place by Tana French–book 3 in the wonderful Dublin Murder Squad series.

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Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell–a story of friends and neighbors and their many faces.

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A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny–book 12 in the captivating Chief Inspector Gamache series.

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My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout–a story of mothers and daughters and the bond they share for better or worse.

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What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan–a tale of how your whole life can change in a single moment.

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Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty–a summer barbecue with repercussions that last forever.

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Don’t be a Grinch… read a HOliday Story! December 5, 2016

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Book List, Genre Book Discussion, Holiday Books.
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Ho ho ho! We read Holiday Stories! That means the books below could have prominently featured any holiday happening from Halloween to Valentine’s Day -a pretty big window of possibilities, no? Ready to see what everyone selected? Here we go:

Megan: What Light by Jay Asher is sweet holiday story about Sierra, who’s family operates a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. Every year they pack up and head to California to set up their tree lot for the season. Sierra loves this time of year and the chance to see her California best friend even though it means leaving her Oregon life and friends behind. It’s Christmas business as usual on what could be the last year for the lot. That is, until Caleb shows up. Caleb has a bad boy reputation in the small town, but Sierra, despite insisting she isn’t interested in dating, begins to see past that and gest to know the real Caleb. Fans of holiday romances full of hot chocolate, candy canes, and true love won’t want to miss this one.

Dori: Burglar Junior Bender returns in Timothy Hallinan’s holiday offering, Fields Where They Lay. Junior has never been fond of Christmas and this year, things are not looking up. He’s been hired by a threatening member of the Russian mafia to investigate the high burglary rate at the failing, old, Edgerton Mall. Also, his girlfriend has mysteriously up and left him and he needs to figure out what to give his teenager daughter for Christmas. Funny and touching, with a satisfying ending perfect for delivering a dose of Christmas cheer.

Gina: Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter Stroll picks up a year after the first book in the series, Winter Street. The Quinn family and Winter Street Inn are all prepared for Nantucket’s traditional Christmas Stroll. This quick story transitions from each character, following each of their weekend experiences. Patriarch Kelley feels confused with his relationships to his first wife, Margaret Quinn, and second wife, Mitzi. Patrick is in jail and his wife Jennifer is trying to raise their three boys to be respectful and responsible despite the current situation. Kevin and girlfriend Isabelle have a beautiful baby girl named Genevieve. In addition to the Winter Stroll the family will be celebrating Genevieve’s baptism during the weekend. Ava has found the love of her life but an accident causes her to question the relationship, not to mention an ex-boyfriend popping into town. Bart, who was deployed to Afghanistan last year, is still MIA, but at the end of the weekend there may be hope. Each chapter kept me excited for the next and would recommend this for a winter read.

Lauren: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson—originally published in 1972—is a delightful book about the horrible Herdman children who take over and wreak havoc on the church’s annual Christmas story play…to hilarious and somewhat miraculous results.  You’ll find it in the children’s section, but it’s a gem that anyone can enjoy.

Beth: In Melissa Ciccocioppo, Peter Skullkid, Asia Erickson, and Eric G. Salisbury’s Contemporary Krampus, we are shown different artistic interpretations of Krampus.  As one of the many companions of Saint Nicholas, Krampus takes his responsibility of punishing the misbehaved children seriously and this book will scare the pants off of them.

Steve: The Christmas Thief, by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, is a simple read for anyone looking for a fluffy Christmas work .  Packy Noonan, who has just been released from prison for scamming millions of dollars from people, is reuniting with his old bumbling buddies to reclaim the flask of diamonds that he hid in a giant spruce tree 12 years ago.  Things go awry as the tree is set to be used this year for the Rockefeller Center tree. Private detective Regen Reilly and her friends have stumbled into this mess. There are a few laughs but not much suspense here, although it’s perfectly suitable for a mindless Christmas read.    

Carol: In The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere, 21-year-old Lauren Gamble longs for a place to call home and people to call family—she’s even gone so far as posting a Craiglist ad for both. Social media is letting her down when she stumbles upon and is drawn to the nearby small town of Grandon. There she meets a special boy named Ben and begins to volunteer at Glory’s Place, a center for families in need. Could it be true? Might Lauren get the Christmas wish she dreams of?

Sara: I read A Christmas Grace by Anne Perry.  In this short mystery which is set in 1895, a wealthy young wife and mother, Emily Radley, travels from London to a small, dwindling town on the western coast of Ireland.  Her estranged Aunt Susannah is dying and has asked for family to come be with her.  Susannah married a Catholic man and moved to Ireland many years before, disgracing her English family.  Emily is fearful of this rugged, desolate part of Ireland by the sea and resentful that she must leave her home two weeks before Christmas. Once there, she realizes the town has many secrets, and the residents are consumed by guilt because of the death of young shipwrecked sailor seven years before.  Now the winter storms have caused another tragic wreck, and another young sailor is taken in by the town.  Can Emily solve the mystery of the prior sailor’s murder before history repeats itself?  And by doing so, can she save the town of Connemara and allow Aunt Susannah’s last Christmas to be a peaceful one?  This is a quick and engaging read, laced with interesting insight into 19th century relationships between the English and the Irish peoples.

Emma: Oliver the Cat who Saved Christmas by Sheila Norton is the story of pub cat Oliver who loses his home in a fire. Unfortunately owner George moves to London during reconstruction and cannot take Oliver along. Two families become his foster families. Oliver has a way to discover exactly what each human needs. In doing so, he saves Christmas and makes lots of people happy. This is a treat for all pet lovers.

Stacey: Just when I thought  there can’t possibly be any more ways to explain the man, the myth, the legend of Santa Claus, I stumbled upon The Christmas Chronicles by Tim Slovenia and found I was wrong!  There are clever explanations to cover all your burning questions, from how Klaus came to create toys for children to why the red suit to those flying reindeer -and they completely make sense. But what makes this book really special is the mix of myth, magic, religion, contemporary pop culture, and faith (in yourself and others.) A charming and thoughtful choice for the holiday season.

Next time? We’ll be reading Teen Fiction! (I realize this is pretty self-explanatory but heck, I’ve got a job to do here!) If you want to read along with us, you’ll want to find a novel aimed at the 18 and younger crowd. Get excited -there are some pretty awesome teen books out there!

Happy Holidays!
Stacey

What’s So Scary? Horror books- of course! November 8, 2016

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Book List, Genre Book Discussion, Horror.
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We did it! We talked about dark, scary things that go *bump* in the night and we survived! Don’t forget, horror books are written to frighten the reader and are distinguished by supernatural or occult elements, often featuring the power of the natural world gone awry. So, are you ready for a scary read?

Megan: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt and translated from the original Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier, is the story of a picturesque Hudson Valley town that lives under the curse of a 17th century witch. With her mouth and eyes sewn shut she wanders the streets and enters homes and buildings. The residents, all cursed to remain in Black Spring, have protected the town from the outside world, keeping their secret and themselves safe. When a group of frustrated teenagers rebel against the long-standing virtual quarantine, they set in motion a dangerous and deadly series of events. The juxtaposition of the tragic story of a 350 year old witch with the modern day is fascinating. This is a compelling and truly creep read sure to satisfy any horror lover.

Lauren: Dawn is the first book in Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Series. Planet Earth has been ravaged by atomic civil war and Lilith is one of the survivors. She has survived because she is in the care of an alien species, the Oankali. However, whether she has been rescued or captured remains debatable. When the Oankali wake Lilith from suspended animation aboard their spaceship she is tasked with learning their language and culture and preparing to assimilate the other humans as they are awakened, before they can make their return to Earth. But it is the mission of the Oankali to genetically merge with the civilizations they discover. Though they initially prevented the total extinction of the human race it becomes clear that Lilith’s children and the generations that come after them will be less than human.

Gina: Knowing of some of the many adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I thought it would be a horror. I did not expect for this novella to be as calm as it was. The book begins by following the lawyer Mr. Utterson investigation of an encounter between a young girl and a man known as Mr. Hyde. Through this investigation, Mr. Utterson becomes aware that Mr. Hyde is the beneficiary of a friend and client named Dr. Jekyll. After a confrontation, Mr. Hyde assures Mr. Utterson that everything is alright and in order. Time passes, and another incident happens- evidence points towards Mr. Hyde, but he is nowhere to be found. Instead, Dr. Jekyll appears with a note showing that he has ended any relations with Mr. Hyde. The narration changes to follow Dr. Hastie Lanyon, a collogue of Dr. Jekyll; upon being a witness to the strange transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde, he dies of shock. Before his death he writes to Mr. Utterson explaining what he witnessed. Mr. Utterson receives the letter and with concern from Dr. Jekyll’s butler, rushes to the doctor’s home to find the body of Dr. Hyde died from an apparent suicide. Mr. Utterson discovers a note written by Dr. Jekyll; explaining his experimentations and hypothesis of the duel personalities. Dr. Jekyll writes that what began as a simple experiment, easily controlled, became something he could not handle and feared for what more damage could happen and so he decided to end his life, to stop Mr. Hyde.

Sara: I read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. This book was a combination of mystery/thriller/horror. Camille Preaker is a Chicago journalist who has recently been hospitalized for self harm-carving various words onto her whole body. She has been suffering for years since the unexplained death of her younger sister Marian, her mother’s favorite child. She reluctantly goes to her tiny hometown to cover the murder of one young girl and the disappearance of another. Camille is reunited with her estranged, unloving mother and her half-sister Amma. As secrets of Camille’s past are revealed, she becomes close to her half sister and learns that her mother is capable of unspeakable things. This book is a page turner, but also deeply disturbing. The twist at the ending makes the journey worthwhile.

Carol: In Come Closer by Sara Gran, Amanda and her husband move into their new trendy loft and all is perfection—until Amanda begins to hear noises in the home and have strange dreams. Amanda’s life begins to spiral out of control. Is the loft haunted; is Amanda losing her mind; or is there something more sinister at work? Read this “scariest book of 2004” and find out!

Steve: Mrs. God by Peter Straub is a creepy, slow moving tale with a letdown of an ending. Professor Standish heads to England for a fellowship at the spooky Esswood House, owned by the aristocratic Seneschal family and home to their renowned library of literature. Odd characters and happenings abound, like servants that vanish or really don’t exist, doors that lock by themselves and whispering mystery voices. Is it Standish’s drinking, madness, or a dark secret of the Seneschals? Unfortunately the end is a train wreck which doesn’t really come to a conclusion, too bad as the first 75% was quite good.

Emma: The book In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters takes place during the height of the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. Sixteen-year old Mary Shelley Black is sent to San Diego to live with her aunt. Despite the ever present fear of the flu and war, Mary Shelley is eager to reunite with her childhood friend, Stephen. When she learns that Stephen’s brother has made a name for himself among the Spiritualists by claiming to photograph the spirits of the dead, she is determined to prove him a fraud. Her plans are derailed when she is visited by an unsettled spirit. A must-read for fans of historical fiction, the paranormal, and spooky ghost stories.

Dori: Dori: In Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s I Remember You: A Ghost Story, an Icelandic couple buy an abandoned vacation house in an isolated village in hopes of turning it into a vacation rental. They go there in the off season to work on the house and quickly encounter disturbing sights: moving crosses, mysterious footprints and odd smells. Meanwhile, psychologist Freyr, who’s 6-year-old son has gone missing, is asked to help with an investigation into an incident of crude defacement in a preschool. This snowballs into further inquiries into mysterious suicides which involve strangers that are obsessed with the disappearance of his son. This is an eerie, disturbing ghost story that builds to a surprising and tragic conclusion.

Stacey: Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things is the kind of story that will have you looking over your shoulder, avoiding dark hallways, and jumping at unexpected noises -for days and days …and then… many more days! A group of women, without any discernable connection, have been kidnapped and taken to a desolate bunkhouse in the middle of the remote, Australian Outback. With no way to know who’s responsible for their brutal imprisonment or why they’ve been selected, these women begin to form a social order to match their dark world. Just as disturbing as what readers learn about these conditions is the lack of explanation or information. This is a really smart, psychological horror story!

Next time? We’re going to lighten the mood with -Holiday Stories! This is another one that you can read pretty much anything you’d like as long as a Winter holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve) is prominently featured in the story.

Enjoy!
—Stacey