What We’re Reading Now… March 1, 2017Posted 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
2016 Favorites – Top 12 Edition December 16, 2016Posted by Dori in Book Awards, Book List, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Holiday Books, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2016, Uncategorized.
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2016 was a book lover’s dream – I was like a kid in a candy store. Between reading and listening, I managed to finish a lot of literary fiction, and a few science fiction and suspense titles, but I have some catching up to do into 2017. Here are the books that I relished in 2016, in no particular order:
LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Erdrich is a writer that I never miss and this book sums up what I love so much about her writing: devotion to characters, insightful commentary on American culture, family love and exploration of the mystical.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Deserved winner of the National Book Award, this book is a wildly creative and harrowing look at slavery and its legacy. A must read.
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Hawley, a screenwriter, deftly takes us through a horrific plane crash, exploring the survivor’s guilt and the investigation into the cause.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
This small book packs a punch – mother/daughter relationships, poverty, marriage – are all addressed powerfully and in Lucy’s voice – lovely and sad.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
There’s no doubt that this is a weird book – it’s about a young woman whose choice to become a vegetarian impacts her whole family in tragic ways – but it’s also both mesmerizing and beautiful.
Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
Chee’s historical epic about a 19th century American who becomes a famous Parisian courtesan and opera singer envelops and transports you.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
This is my first Patchett novel and I may have to read her earlier books based on this one – who doesn’t love a book about a dysfunctional family that sucks you in and doesn’t let go?
Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra
Zambra is a Chilean author and his books often deal with memory and choice within the framework of Chile’s recent authoritarian history. This one’s in the form of a multiple choice test
The Golden Age by Joan London
Maybe my favorite of all, London’s look at how people deal with displacement in their lives takes place during the polio epidemic in Australia after World War II. It’s surprisingly sweet and tender and you’ll fall in love with the characters.
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
History, relationships, life, love, rockets! – all in Chabon’s signature style.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
I haven’t quite finished Smith’s latest about two young brown girls growing up in London and the different paths they take based on family, race, class and culture, but I’m entranced so far.
A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
I always like to dip into some great science fiction and I really enjoyed these first two in a series that take us to fantastic parallel worlds. No. 3 is up next year!
BONUS CHRISTMAS BOOK:
The Fields Where They Lay by Timonthy Hallinan
I chose this book for my Holiday read and I think I’ve found a new mystery series! It’s funny and clever and the mystery unfolded perfectly.
If` I could keep going, I’d throw these in as well: Debuts The Mothers by Brit Bennett and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Yid by Paul Goldberg, To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey, A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl, A Great Reckoning by master of mystery Louise Penney, The Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood and The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.
Sara’s Top Ten of 2016 December 14, 2016Posted 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.
The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley–suspenseful thriller filled with family secrets.
Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer–riveting tale of a missing girl.
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple–a funny and poignant look into life, marriage and getting older.
Faithful Place by Tana French–book 3 in the wonderful Dublin Murder Squad series.
Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell–a story of friends and neighbors and their many faces.
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny–book 12 in the captivating Chief Inspector Gamache series.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout–a story of mothers and daughters and the bond they share for better or worse.
What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan–a tale of how your whole life can change in a single moment.
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty–a summer barbecue with repercussions that last forever.
Megan’s Top Ten (Sixteen) Teen Reads of 2016 December 13, 2016Posted by Megan in Book List, Book Review, Young Adult.
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Every year I agonize over which books will earn a place on my end of the year favorites list. This year I decided to quit fretting and just make multiple lists! First up, my favorite YA reads of 2016. In alphabetical order:
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds. This ripped from the headlines story of police brutality and race relations is an intense must-read.
2. All In and Bad Blood (The Naturals #3 and 4) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. The Naturals series is Criminal Minds with teens. It’s smart, suspenseful, and dark.
3. Calamity (The Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson. The final showdown between the Epics and the Reckoners is all about redemption. A perfect series finale.
4. Carry on by Rainbow Rowell. Readers were introduced to Simon Snow and Baz in Fangirl. Carry On is the novel version of the fan fiction that Cath writes. Very meta.
5. The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathon Stroud. Full of twists and turns and shocking bombshells, this spooky series keeps getting better and better.
6. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling. It’s always a treat to be able to get new Harry Potter material!
7. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. This is another timely read about a transgender teen looking to make a fresh start in a new town.
8. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray. The sequel to The Diviners is another spooky journey into the supernatural world of 1920’s New York City.
9. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand. Fans of The Princess Bride will love this hilarious, somewhat true(ish) account of Lady Jane Grey. A romantic, historical fiction tale with a touch of the paranormal. This is the first of a planned “famous Janes” series.
10. The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater. Why did the Raven Cycle have to come to an end??
11. The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter. One year in the lives of three teens living in a small Tennessee town. This one is a heart breaker.
12. Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King. It’s always a good year when you get a new A.S. King book.
13. This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab. For fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, this is a tale of two teens living in a broken world of violence and monsters. So much to love in this dark urban fantasy.
14. To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown. This might be my surprise favorite book of the year. Let me tell you: this is a novel in verse about cannibals. Please and thank you!
15. The Tournament at Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years #1) by John Flanagan. I will never tire of Halt and Crowley! This new series takes readers back to when Halt was the apprentice.
16. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. Black Swan meets Orange is the New Black. This one is weird and I loved it.
The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler March 8, 2016Posted by stacey in Book Review.
Tags: Book Review, Guest Contributor
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THE GOD’S EYE VIEW
by Barry Eisler
Edward Snowden damaged the National Security Administration. Now, years later, current NSA Director General Ted Anders was not going to let that happen again. To do so, after all, would prevent him from keeping America safe; the good of the many v. the good of the few thing, right?
Evelyn Gallagher was a dedicated NSA analyst and computer genius. She had developed software that could track nearly all security camera systems in the world and, even more remarkably, identify people using biometric data. When she identified a senior NSA staffer meeting with a journalist known for his work exposing government excesses, it raised a red flag. But when one of those men was dead and the second kidnapped by jihadists and left for dead within hours after reporting her findings to General Anders, Evie started piecing things together, not only about this incident, but others that preceded it. She is immediately torn between her suspicions and the need for her job, not only because of its importance, but because she is the sole provider for her little boy.
The God’s Eye View is incredibly entertaining, a thriller that travels the world and encounters some of the most dangerous, distasteful people in its darkest corners. Nothing about author Barry Eisler’s writing or storytelling will keep readers wanting. The book is well balanced between a compelling plot, character development, sex, love, and violence.
Unique to many books in the genre, Mr. Eisler does a great job with character development. Our hero, Evelyn Gallagher and her son; the power hungry and increasingly delusional General Anders; the NSA muscle, Thomas Delgado and Marvin Manus; even General Ander’s assistant, General Mike Remar. None are treated as secondary in their role in the book, and they’re developed enough that I had felt a connection with each of them, although some more pleasant than others!
But the book is more than just a thriller. It is a statement about the degradation of privacy and liberty in America and the world and about the dangers that have resulted and will continue to. About the paranoia that often comes with power. And about how complacently most Americans have allowed it to happen, even want it to happen, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their day to day lives.
“I implement what the people want, even if they don’t have the integrity and self-awareness to admit they want it. And I have no patience for anyone who enjoys meat but moans about slaughterhouses, who wears cheap clothes but deplores sweatshops, who weeps about climate change from behind the wheel of an SUV or from the window seat of an airplane.”
Of course, General Ander’s quote above is in defense of the drastic measures he takes to protect America and to keep America’s secrets. But that argument isn’t foreign to many Americans or our politicians. Ironically, as The God’s Eye View points out, the threat to America sometimes needs protected from comes from the people making that very argument. And when finally confronted, General Remar’s response: “He sighed. ‘Let’s not be naive. We’re not subverting democracy; democracy was subverted a long time ago…It’s NSA management or corporate management. And believe me, you don’t want the corporations running the show all by themselves. We’re not exactly Thomas Jefferson, okay, that ship has sailed, but we’re not complete slaves of mammon, either.'”
While the story told in The God’s Eye View is fiction, there are references to current events, news stories, conspiracy theories, and the methods used to control the media over the last decade and a half. Mr. Eisler goes one step further, provided readers with a list of sources at the end of the book that include news articles, scholarly works, and other links.
Whether you read The God’s Eye View for the great story, dynamic characters, thrills, or the deeper statement it makes, I’m confident you’ll enjoy it. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to remove mobile phone batteries, cover web cameras when not in use, and debate whether it’s better to send files unencrypted hoping they won’t be noticed versus encrypting but drawing attention to them!
Originally published on TheThirtyYearItch.com 2/2/16
So You Want to Read Science Fiction But Don’t Know Where to Start-A Sci-Fi Reading Guide. November 18, 2015Posted by Megan in Book List, Book Review, Science Fiction.
Tags: Book List, Favorite books, Science Fiction
So you read The Martian by Andy Weir (or maybe just saw the movie) and thought that was pretty cool, I should read more science fiction. Or maybe you have never once thought that you should read more science fiction. Who cares about all that outer space and robot nonsense? It wasn’t long ago that I fell into the latter camp, but then I realized I really liked time travel and that eventually lead me down a science fiction rabbit hole and I discovered that there really is something for everyone in this genre.
Lastest Additions November 16, 2015Posted by Megan in Book List, Book Review.
Tags: audiobooks, Book Review, Cleveland, Coming Soon, Latest Additions
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Oh, what a difference a year makes! Last year at this time we where digging out of a late fall blizzard and bracing ourselves for more snow and record cold. It was weather that demanded we hunker down and read. A year later it’s nothing but clear skies and temperatures in the 60’s. It’s perfect weather for an outdoor project or a walk on the beach. I managed to squeeze both of those into my day yesterday; an audiobook and my dog my constant companions. My amazing and handy brother built me a bench from our grandmother’s old bed frame. Look at all that sun! Note the T-shirt! Later, Kevin (the dog) and I explored a new stretch of beach down at Edgewater and discovered this unusual structure. All the while, I was riveted by Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith. This third book in the Cormoran Strike series is definitely my favorite. One of my awesome colleagues already entered this title into the Reading Room.
Whether you are looking to hunker down and read or trying to soak up every last bit of warmth and sunshine, the Reading Room will help you find the perfect book. Check out some of these Latest Additions or explore the extensive back list of titles.
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson.
Ana of California by Andi Teran.
This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison.
And finally, here is a sneak peek at a book coming in 2016:
Fall Into Reading September 9, 2015Posted by Dori in Book List, Book Review, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books, Non-Fiction.
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Like it or not, Summer is over. Well, not officially, but it feels like beaches, picnics and vacations and are behind us and Fall is in the air. And with Fall comes coziness, blankets, a chair and books aplenty. I’ve asked my colleagues to list some books they are looking forward to this Fall. Feel free to comment and share your own. The Last Midwife, Sandra Dallas
I enjoy historical fiction and this one takes place in the 1880’s in a small Colorado town. Sandra Dallas is a wonderful story teller.
Come Rain or Come Shine, Jan Karon
The 11th entry in the “Mitford Years” series continues the story of Dooley Kavanagh, Father Tim’s adopted son, as he graduates from veterinary school and gets married.The Witches: Salem, 1692, Stacy Schiff
This is a recounting of the Salem hysteria in modern times by Pulitzer Prize winning author Stacy Schiff.Eve, William P. Young, William
The author’s previous novel The Shack is an unusual tale of the Trinity. Now Eve is an exploration of the Biblical creation story.
Make Your Own Rules Cookbook, Tara Stiles
This is the follow-up companion to yoga guru Stiles’s November 2014 release, Make Your Own Rules Diet. Everything about Stiles—her yoga instruction, philosophy, recommendations, and recipes—are simple and emphasize always doing what works for you.Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith
I’m itching to get my hands on the third book in Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)’s murder mystery series starring private detective Cormoran Strike. Strike and his assistant Robin are wonderful characters I loved immediately—it will be good to have them back.
Girl Waits With Gun, Amy Stewart
This a novel about a woman who spoke up and took action when that was frowned upon in her era. I like strong female characters and look forward to meeting Amy Stewart’s character Constance.City on Fire, Garth Hallberg
This is a debut novel with something for everyone…a citywide blackout, rich New York heirs, punk rockers, and a reporter all twisted up in a Central Park shooting . Should be interesting!
The Lake House, Kate Morton
The queen of the dual-period historical fiction storylines, Kate Morton, is releasing The Lake House this October. In this novel, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police and retreats to her beloved grandfather’s cottage in Cornwall. There she finds herself at a loose end, until one day she stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace. Set in 1933 and then 70 years later, like Morton’s other best-selling novels, it sure to be a lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies.The Wake of Vultures, Lila Bowen
Also out this October is the planned first of a series set in a paranormal-filled Wild West that finds blind Nettie killing a man and gaining her eyesight to the weirdness in the world around her. With her newly opened eyes (and money stolen from the dead man), Nettie leaves behind her horrible life and embarks on a journey that leads her to her people and her own strange roots.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, Jenny Lawson
I love a good female memoir and if there’s some humor, I’m all about it. This memoir sounds funny and down to earth.Felines of New York, Jim Tews
I’m a big fan of Humans of New York, and this satirical spinoff is equally entertaining, though not nearly as serious. I love a good story, but I’m also interested in a good laugh, and this is sure to bring the joy.
Winter, Marissa Meyer
Winter is the fourth book in The Lunar Chronicles series. This series is an amazing mash-up of teen science fiction and fractured fairy tales. Readers new to the series will want to start with Cinder, where you will meet the title character who is an orphaned cyborg. She is a second-class citizen in New Beijing, but her talents as a mechanic catch the attentions of the young prince. Soon Cinder is swept into an intergalactic struggle. Each book in the series introduces a new character, but they all advance the same storyline. Tension has been slowly building and shocking secrets have been revealed and everything will come to a head in this final book. I can’t wait to see if everyone gets their happily ever after!Carry On, Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell introduced Simon Snow in her smash hit, Fangirl. In Fangirl, the character Cath writes fan fiction about her favorite fictional character, Simon Snow (which is totally a nod to Harry Potter, if you ask me). Now, fans of Fangirl get to experience the story Cath loved! I am so excited for this book because I loved Simon and Baz from the fan fiction stories in Fangirl. How incredibly meta is this? It’s the story that a fictional character used to write fictional fan fiction! That’s a lot to wrap my head around!After Alice, Gregory Maguire
From the mastermind behind the Wicked series comes a new twist on the classic tale, Alice in Wonderland. In this reimaging, Alice’s friend Ada journeys through Wonderland in search of the missing Alice. I obviously like retellings and I have been on a bit of a Wonderland kick recently, so this one is a must-read for me!
Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
I really loved Groff’s last book, Arcadia – her writing, her ideas, her storytelling – so this one about a marriage told from the perspective of the husband, Lotto (Fates) and his wife Mathilde (Furies) will, hopefully, fufill my need for more of Groff’s intelligence, insight and amazing writing. The Marvels, Brian Selznick:
Selznick’ s The Invention of Hugo Cabret was a beautiful, weird, boundary pushing book and I can’t wait to, once again, be mesmerized by his images and immersed in his mystifying stories. The Marvels weaves together together two seemingly separate stories, one told through images about a theatrical family and a shipwreck in the 18th century and the other told in words about a young man in 1990’s who has run away from boarding school in search of an address where his uncle lives. The Tsar of Love and Techno, Anthony Marra
Marra’s first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, was an emotional doozie of a novel about human endurance set in war-torn Chechnya. This is a collection of interconnected short stories set in the same part of the world and if it’s anything like the first, I’m all in.
Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay -Book Review! July 17, 2015Posted by stacey in Book Review, Thrillers.
Tags: Book Review, Thrillers
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After losing his job, reporter David Harwood is back home living with his parents and 9 year-old son in the small college town of Promise Falls, NY–a town that has seen better days. The daily paper has folded, there’s been women attacked on campus, strange animal mutilations, and the local amusement park isn’t reopening.
When David goes to visit his cousin Marla, he is shocked to see her with a baby she claims was given to her by an angel. Her own child died at birth, so where did this one come from?
Linwood Barclay is a master at making everyday actions seem sinister and threatening. And, since “Broken Promise” is the first of a planned trilogy, he leaves lots of loose ends.
-by Evelyn Janoch
Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn -Book Review! July 17, 2015Posted by stacey in Book Review, Mystery.
Tags: Book Review, Mysteries
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When private investigator Bernie Little and his partner Chet return home from their trip to Washington, D.C., they find a hole in the wall where Bernie’s safe used to be. And, Chet’s nose tells him his best friend Iggy, the dog next door, has been in the house. Then Mr. Parson, Iggy’s owner is in trouble for having a stolen Saguaro cactus planted in his front yard. To top things off, the ranger investigating the stolen cactus has a puppy that looks just like a Chet mini-me!
In Scents and Sensibility, the seventh adventure for Chet and Bernie, Chet’s point of view is spot on, and, despite his doggie ramblings, he is Bernie’s partner first and foremost. How could you not love Chet?
-by Evelyn Janoch