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BookTalk for Adults September 28, 2018

Posted by Mary in Beach Reads, Biographies, Book Awards, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Debut Author, Fiction, First Novel, Genre Book Discussion, Library Program, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Non-Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers, Uncategorized.
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In case you missed the BookTalk for Adults program today at the library, here is what we talked about….

The Best Books of 2018 So Far. While there are many excellent books that have been penned thus far in 2018, I managed to widdle the list down to ten. The list spans different genres including fiction, literary fiction, mystery, suspense/thriller and memoir. Here is the list of books we discussed –

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
There, There by Tommy Orange
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson
The Woman in the Window by A.J.Finn
When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
Educated A Memoir by Tara Westover

Our next BookTalk for Adults will be Friday, October 26th at 10AM. Being so close to Halloween we will discuss (you guessed it) Spooky books. Come join us!


Here’s What We’re Reading in July… July 16, 2018

Posted by SaraC in Beach Reads, Biographies, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Debut Author, Fiction, First Novel, Genre Book Discussion, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Uncategorized.
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Hide By Matthew Griffin

Cover image for Dealing with the failing health of a partner/spouse is an incredibly difficult and personal experience for anyone, one that can be only compounded by having to keep the true nature of your relationship secret to the world. This is the reality for Wendell and Frank who met right after WWII, fell in love, and made a private life for themselves over the next 60 odd years. This life is threatened when Wendell finds Frank collapsed in the yard. What follows is a novel that goes back and forth from the start of their relationship to the difficulties of the modern day as Frank recovers and Wendell fights to keep it all together. Taxidermy imagery is used throughout which may disturb some readers but it is used as a literary device for identity, superficiality, and the creation of the appearance of artificial life. Greg


Two Steps Forward by Graeme C. Simsion

Cover image for This is the story of Zoe Witt who travels to France after the apparent suicide of her husband to visit an old friend. Once there she decides to hike the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile spiritual walk route that winds through France and Spain. Martin Eden, a recently divorced British engineer, is hiking the Camino de Santiago testing out his one-wheeled cart design. The two cross paths multiple times along the way and become more than friends. This is a heartwarming tale of grief, forgiveness, healing, and determination. Emma


How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture Then and Now by James Kugel

Cover image for I’ve been reading a great book about the Bible.  Kugel is an academic, but the book is written for the layperson, and so far it’s been a tour de force.  His approach is to look at stories and passages from the Bible from the perspective of both its ancient interpreters and from modern Biblical scholarship.  This means as a reader sometimes experiencing an intense cognitive dissonance, because the two perspectives seem so deeply divergent (i.e. the thesis that the Bible is divinely inspired, versus the thesis that it was written by four people, the documentary hypothesis).  Kugel himself is an Orthodox Jew, so I’m curious to learn more about how he balances his knowledge of modern scholarship with his faith.  Kugel is an excellent teacher and communicator, and the book is an amazing synthesis of theology, archaeology, history, sociology, psychology, and religious studies.  Andrew


Queenpin – Megan Abbott

Cover image for The unnamed narrator, a young woman with limited prospects, takes a job keeping books at a small nightclub.  Soon after she begins practicing some shady accounting, she comes under the scrutiny and then wing of the infamous and ruthless Gloria Denton.  Casinos, racetracks, heists – all the big money in the city runs through Gloria before it makes it’s way to the big bosses out of town.  Gloria will be her access to all the action and the lavish lifestyle to go with it if only she can keep from falling for the wrong guy.  Megan Abbott takes the bones of the same old, time-tested gangster story and gives it new life.  By the end symbols of traditional masculinity are kicked apart and lay shattered and bloody on the floor. Trent


The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright

Cover image for In the evangelical church, there is a myth about missionaries: those who do “God’s work” can do no harm. After living in Costa Rica as a missionary for five years, Jamie Wright pulls back the curtain on missionary life, writing about her experiences and observations. She points the finger at the careless and nonsensical ways of “helping” that sending organizations permitted to happen, veiled by the vague language of “loving on people,” “just showing up,” and “hearing from God.” Her stories about mutually exploitative practices, wasted resources, and underequipped ministers were helpful in understanding the gravity of the harm Christian missionaries can do, if not prepared to serve in careful, sensible, and sustainable ways. Even though the content of the book is serious, Jamie’s voice is fun and entertaining, but also scathing – maybe a little like watching a Trevor Noah routine. While I appreciated the foundation that the beginning chapters laid about Jamie’s early years, the final two sections were ultimately the worthwhile ones. Lyndsey


The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Cover image for I loved Ruth Ware’s In a Dark Dark Wood, a gripping psychological thriller that left me hanging every step of the way.  Then I read The Woman in Cabin 10 and was mostly just confused by too many characters.  The Lying Game is the best book from Ruth Ware so far.  Four  girls spent a year together at Salten, a second-rate boarding school  in the English countryside until they are forced to leave to avoid a scandal.  Truth be told, no one is sorry to see them go, as their favorite activity was The Lying Game, a game with complicated rules and scoring systems that involved lying to faculty and boarders alike. The number one rule however was, “Never lie to each other”.  Fifteen years after the girls go their separate ways, three of them receive a text from the fourth saying only, “I need you.”  As if time hasn’t passed, the girls run back to Salten and into a situation that is dark, dangerous and brings to light the fact that someone broke Rule #1.   Fabulous descriptions of the eerie  and dark marshlands  in the waterlogged area near the English Channel perfectly set the tone for the story which is an addicting page turner.  Sara


There There by Tommy Orange

Cover image for Tommy Orange’s debut novel There There is a window into the lives of urban Native Americans of Oakland, California. We hear from twelve different characters, young and old, embedded in their heritage and barely aware, as they wind their way through stories steeped in tragedy and despair, hope and family, culminating on the night of an Oakland powwow. Read the prologue if you do nothing else – it’s devastating. Dori


Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Cover image for A debut psychological thriller and the perfect beach read. Erin, a documentary film maker and her investment banker husband Mark are honeymooning in Bora Bora. This tropical paradise turns into a nightmare when a scuba diving excursion uncovers something sinister in the water. Do Erin and Mark report their finding? Each decision they make after their discovery has dangerous consequences for the young couple. This taut and unsettling  novel is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Paula Hawkins. Megan


The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara

Cover image for This past month has consisted of doing extra research in order to teach film history to kids/teens in a filmmaking summer camp. As I continue to make an effort to include more diverse voices in my reading choices, I’m now reading The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara through Overdrive. It is a relatively short read, which is what I wanted. In quick chapters Che describes the adventures and misadventures that he and a friend from medical school have while travelling through South America. Next I’ll have to watch the movie adaptation with Gael Garcia Bernal. Byron


Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman

Cover image for This is my first read by the popular author Fredrick Backman, and oddly enough, I did NOT read Beartown.  However, the review of the book caught my interest, and I much enjoyed it.  The reader does not have to read Beartown to understand this book.  The beginning does a very good job of concisely wrapping up Beartown, and swiftly picking up where it has left off.  Beartown is populated with a diverse group inhabitants. Some old , some young, some cranky, some hardworking, some who hardly work, and some dreamers.  Something bad has happened in Beartown, and now its residents are divided.  Much talk about the beloved local hockey team and its future is where this book begins. Changes ensue for the hockey team and the town.  However, this book isn’t just about hockey. This book is about life. It has sadness, tension, fierce competition, politics, kindness (sometimes in the most unlikely of places), love & compassion. You don’t have to love hockey to love this book, you just need to love life. Mary


Top of the List 2017 December 15, 2017

Posted by Dori in Audio, Book Awards, Book List, Book Review, Debut Author, eAudio, Fantasy, Fiction, First Novel, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2017.
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I must admit that I did not read as many books as is my norm this year. I will not offer up a bunch of excuses (except 2017 was a whopper of a year, wasn’t it?), but will share the best of those I did read, with many gems in the bunch:

lincolnLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
I listened to this remarkable Booker Prizewinning book in audiobook form – with its cast of notable actors casting a spell that had me hooked. It was so unique:  moving, funny, weird, and insightful. I think it’s one of those audiobooks that I need to now read in book form. Don’t miss this one.


exit - CopyExit West by Mohsin Hamed
Two young people who fall in love in an unnamed country when a civil war erupts escape through metaphysical ‘doorways’. Finding themselves as refugees, they have to come to terms with their pasts and futures. Brutal and ravishing.


anythingAnything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
A short story that follows the lives of people briefly encountered in her previous book My Name is Lucy Barton that is just beautifully written and offers glimpses of the wonder of humanity. These are the kinds of books I’m drawn to – seemingly simple but powerful.


mountainThe Mountain: Stories by Paul Yoon
Another seemingly simple book. In restrained but exquisite prose, Yoon’s short stories are about people across the world who’ve been molded by tragedy and loss but still put one foot in front of the other and carry on.


manhattanManhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Egan delves into straight up historical fiction, creating characters that resonate and enveloping readers in the fascinating world of New York City during the Depression. Not my favorite Egan, but a great example of ambitious historical fiction.


allgrownAll Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
This book made me laugh and that was important this year!  Her main character is a single 39-year-old woman who’s living life defying, while worrying about, the expectations of others and society at-large. She might exasperate you, but she sure is someone a lot of us can relate to.


leaversThe Leavers by Lisa Ko
This debut about a young Chinese-American boy who’s adopted into a white family after his immigrant mother disappears is a moving look at what happens to those who leave and those who are left behind. Plus it’s an eye-opening look at the effects of U.S. immigration policy.


saintsSaints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
Raise your hand if you love a quality dysfunctional family book!  If so, this is one you have to get a hold of asap. Irish immigrants to Boston, family deception that resonates through the next generations – it’s got it all.


longwayclosedThe Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit and by Becky Chambers
My co-worker recommended these to me and I thank her for it! These are the first two in Chamber’s Wayfarers series and they are adventurous, funny and meaningful outer space dramas. Even better as audiobooks!

index (1)On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
This is a short but incredibly important book to read right now! A historian of the Holocaust, Snyder takes lessons from the past to guide us for the future.


And a bonus:

fifthThe Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison:
I must admit that I haven’t finished this one – I began listening recently and I’m hooked. It’s the first book in a trilogy – The Broken Earth series – and is set in a post-apocalyptic society. The world building is incredible and the characters, fascinating. I’ll be spending much of my winter with this series.


Happy Holidays and best to you and yours!

~ Dori






Sara’s Top 10 of 2017 December 11, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Debut Author, Fantasy, Fiction, Genre Book Discussion, Mystery, Thrillers, Uncategorized.
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I’m a little behind on my reading so these aren’t all new books.  It was hard to choose but was a lot of fun remembering how much I enjoyed each of these as I went through them.  Hope you find something you’ll enjoy too!

Cover image for The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

This thriller  kept me on the edge of my seat.  The unusual main character, the outdoor setting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the drama of wondering who will catch the Marsh King made this a great, compelling read.



Cover image for Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Gamache, and all the eccentric characters of Three Pines do not disappoint in this creepy, dark mystery that has many more layers than at first it seems.




Cover image for The Dry by Jane Harper

A stunning debut novel, with tension and bridled energy at every turn. Looks like small Australian towns come with big secrets.




Cover image for The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I guess this book is considered fantasy, but it seemed real to me as I was reading it! An extraordinary tale of superstition, tradition, family and magic that takes place in the long-lasting winter of the Russian wilderness.  I can hardly wait to read the next book, The Girl in the Tower, just recently released.



Cover image for Home by Harlan Coben

Book #11 in the Myron Bolitar series, released almost six years after its predecessor, brings back the characters we love- Myron, Win, Esperanza and Big Cindy. A decade older and a little wiser (debatable), they take on the task of finding Win’s cousin who has been missing for 10 years.  A satisfying but dark mystery about friends, family and coming home.



Cover image for Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Eleanor Flood’s life is a complete mess, but she has decided today will be different.  And she has no idea how right she is!  A hilarious story with a main character you can’t help but love and an ending that makes it all worthwhile.



Cover image for The Golden Hour by T. Greenwood

I somehow thought T. Greenwood was a new author, but now I am wondering why I haven’t read her other eight books?!  A beautifully written story of a young mother struggling with her marriage, her career, and her future–all because of the lies of her past.



Cover image for The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

A debut novel that thankfully is the beginning of the Gemma Woodstock series, The Dark Lake tells of teenage jealousy, hurt and secrets that will resurface until they are brought to light and put to rest.




Cover image for The Trespasser by Tana French

It seems that every Tana French book is better than the last, and this is no exception. The book solves a murder, but more importantly digs into the deeply-rooted culture of the Dublin Murder Squad, with it’s egos, grudges, deceptions as well as  its loyalty and commitment to protect and serve.



Cover image for Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Spending a year as the captive of a psychopath will definitely change your life. This story looks into the mind of Annie O’Sullivan as she discusses the past with her therapist and struggles to put the pieces of her life back together. A creepy, psychological mystery that’s quick to read.


Mystery of the Day December 21, 2016

Posted by Ann in Debut Author, First Novel, Mystery.
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Time of Death by Lucy Kerr is a debut mystery with a hospital setting. For fans of Jayne Anne Krentz and Julia Keller.                    ~Ann

Fall/Winter Book Goodness October 12, 2016

Posted by Dori in Book List, Debut Author, Fantasy, Fiction, First Novel, Literary Fiction, Non-Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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Recently, we were lucky enough to have a visit from Amanda Fensch, a representative of Penguin Random House books, who visited the library to buzz about hot new titles. Amanda was an impressive presenter and offered very tempting descriptions of so many books!  As a result, I’ve added a boatload of books to my Fall and Winter reading list.

Here’s a few titles that really struck my fancy:

downloadI’m usually not a reader of nonfiction…so little time, so many books, etc…. but Amanda’s description of Spaceman by Mike Massimino sounded both funny and informative. Massimono, an astronaut who’s appeared on The Big Bang Theory AND repaired the Hubble Telescope, describes his road to becoming both a space traveler and a pop culture hero.


rogueAnother non-fiction title is Rogue Heroes by Ben MacIntyre. This untold story is a look at one of WWII’s most important secret military units. MacIntyre was given access to a lot of previously unknown materials, so this should be an eye-opening book. MacIntyre has written some other fascinating histories too, including Operation Mincemeat and A Spy Among Friends .

swingNow, onto fiction, starting with Swing Time by Zadie Smith. It’s been a long time since Smith’s written a novel (her others include White Teeth, On Beauty and NW) and I’m excited to see what insightful fiction she’s come up with this time. This novel is about two friends who dream of becoming dancers though only one is talented enough, the paths they take and how their friendship evolves.

bearI love an adult fairytale – they’re creepy but oh so creative. The Bear and the Nightingale, a debut novel by Katherine Arden sounds like it’s right up my alley. Russian forests, evil step-mothers, monsters, folk wisdom and a heroic young woman. Yes! Did you love Uprooted by Naomi Novik? I’m hoping this one will be similar.


allOne more that Amanda discussed – I believe she said it was a ‘must read’ (and that’s all I have to hear), is All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. It involves time travel – a man in the future travels to the past and must decide whether to stay or return – but don’t let that turn you off, it’s really about love and family and is filled with humor and heart. Check, check, and check – I like all those things!

That’s just a few of the titles Amanda talked about. For more information, feel free to stop in or call. You can also place items on hold through our catalog.  Happiest of all, Amanda will be back in the Spring to talk more books so look for that in the calendar and join us!

Happy Reading!

~ Dori




Be First August 12, 2015

Posted by Ann in Debut Author, Fiction, New Books.
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Be first to read some of these debut novels coming in August!

THE DAUGHTERS by Adrienne Celt

Lulu can’t sing. Since the traumatic birth of her daughter, the internationally renowned soprano hasn’t dared utter a note. She’s afraid that her body is too fragile and that she may have lost her talent to a long-dreaded curse afflicting all of the mothers in her family.


A fresh, honest, and darkly funny debut collection about family, friends, and lovers, and the flaws that make us most human.


Roberta, a bibliophile works at The Old and New Bookshop in England. She discovers a letter inside her grandmother’s old suitcase that provides insight into her grandmother’s past and to the family’s history.


A family’s world is upended when the oldest daughter returns from a missionary trip to Mexico and discovers she’s pregnant with—she believes—the child of God.


Twelve-year-old Caroline doesn’t understand why her mother avoids the family lakeside home, which she herself loves.


News from the Reading World May 14, 2015

Posted by Dori in Book Discussion, Debut Author, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction.
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If you are both a literature and information junkie like me, there’s a new website on the block called Literary Hub. Culling through everything literature related on the web, it selects the best and brightest and offers it up for browsing or some in-depth exploration. It focuses on literary fiction and nonfiction, contains essays, interviews, news, book excerpts and even commissions original works. I know I’ll be getting lost in its pages.

parisspeculationThe Library Reads selections for June are out, so if you want to get a jump on the books Librarians are looking forward to, check it out. I have The Little Paris Bookshop and The Book of Speculation on my nightstand (maybe because both are about books, reading and there’s even a Librarian? Maybe…but no judgement please!)

The Indie Next List of books recommended by Independent Bookstores is another good place to find your next read. I’ve read The Luckiest Girl Alive, a twisty tale with a fierce protagonist who’s tragic past is slowly fire uncovered, and my colleagues are raving about Lisa Lutz’s new, and different for her, book How to Start a Fire.  The Given World, Girl at War and The Book of Aron, beautifully written novels about war and its devastating effects, may appeal to readers of All the Light We Cannot See and The Constellation of Vital Phenomena. I’d also like to read Irish author Anne Enright ‘s new book and I’ve heard great things about The Church of Marvels. Where to start?

Get thee reading – and if you need more suggestions, call us – we’re fellow book lovers who are here to help.

~ Dori

So new! So fresh! …Why they must be Debut Novels! April 30, 2014

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Book List, Debut Author, Genre Book Discussion.
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You may not know this but -librarians like to search for stuff! Sometimes we like to search for facts that could be useful in a school report, sometimes we search for information to help a consumer find the right option for their lifestyle, and sometimes we like to search out a completely new author to share with our fellow readers! Some of these books have been published within the last few months and some are a little older but they’re all books that were an author’s very first, published work. Maybe you’ll find a new author to love in this list:

Maureen: The Kept by James Scott. This first novel by an up-and-coming author tells the story of 12-year-old Caleb, who is the lone survivor of a horrible incident on the family farm that occurs while his mother Elspeth has been away serving as a midwife in upstate New York in 1897. The events that follow Elspeth’s return pave the way for a tale of sorrow, regret, and mostly, revenge. The bleak setting of winter in upstate New York is well depicted in the novel and the characters, although flawed and dysfunctional, prove the driving force of the story. This author will be one to watch!

Megan: The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence is the story of an unlikely friendship between an epileptic teen and a reclusive American expat and Vietnam veteran. When he was ten Alex made headlines after being struck by a meteorite. This event left him scarred and seizure prone and made him the perfect target for the village bullies. It was these bullies who actually led him to Mr. Peterson. It is the story of this friendship that Alex tells the police after he is stopped at customs with an urn of ashes and 113 grams of marijuana. Be sure to have a tissue handy while reading this thought-provoking and memorable debut!

Donna: The Traitor’s Wife: A Novel: The Women Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America is the first novel by Allison Pateki. She was inspired to write this story after coming across a historical marker in the woods near her New York family home that showed the path Benedict Arnold used to escape from George Washington’s troops. Through our history books, everyone knows that Benedict Arnold was a traitor during the Revolutionary War but the why and the other major players in his traitorous plot are not usually as well known. Through Clara, a fictional maid, the author gives readers an inside look into the life of Peggy Shippen Arnold, Benedict Arnold’s much younger second wife and her role in Arnold’s plan to surrender West Point to the British. Although fictionalized, the author has been able to make this historical time period come to life. The Discussion Guide at the end of the book along with the author’s information on her research just makes this novel so much more interesting. Fans of Jennifer Chiaverini’s historical fiction should enjoy this title too.

Carol: The Rosie Project is a wonderful, memorable and funny debut novel by Graeme Simsion. Don Tillman, an assistant professor of genetics, is very dedicated to his daily routines and has problems socializing. At the age of thirty-nine, he decides it’s time to find a wife, and so he begins the “Wife Project.” In the interest of quickly eliminating the women who are unsuitable matches, Don puts together a (rather ridiculous) questionnaire. When Gene, one of Don’s only friends, sends barmaid Rosie Jarman to Don’s office, Don thinks she is there as a candidate, but as she’s not prompt, she smokes, and drinks too much, he doesn’t even bother to have her fill out his questionnaire. Don does think that Rosie is very beautiful though, and he decides to help her when he realizes that Rosie needs a geneticist’s assistance in order to find her biological father. As the two spend time together searching for Rosie’s dad, an unlikely bond is formed. Should Don dare consider Rosie a possible match? She’s certainly most unsuitable…right Don? The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel. Run out and find a copy to read immediately.

Dori: Shane Kuhn’s first novel, The Intern’s Handbook: a Thriller, is a manual written by John Lago, an employee of Human Resources, Inc., a firm of assassins. Their technique: they go undercover as interns to murder corporate criminals. From making the perfect cup of coffee, to disappearing in colorless clothing, John is able to get close to his targets as an insignificant intern. Recruited as a teenager, having survived the murder of his mother, the disappearance of his father, and a series of foster homes, John’s latest job is also his last; he’s decided to retire and of course, the job will not let him go easily. Kuhn, a writer for films and advertising, creates a fun comic thriller, with bloody fight scenes and weapons of every kind, plot twists and identity mix-ups.

Emma: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler is the story of five friends born and raised in Little Wing, Wisconsin. Henry and Beth are married raising their family on a farm close by. Ronny, a recovering alcoholic, is an injured rodeo star. Kip, who made his fortune trading commodities in Chicago, moves back home to restore the local mill to its former glory. Popular musician Lee is home after recording his first album, Shotgun Lovesongs. Even though their lives have taken different paths, the friends are there for each other and are drawn back to Little Wing. Each character in alternating chapters tells this story of friendship which survives the good times and the bad times.

Steve: The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, by Peter Swanson, finds George Foss, a late 30’s Bostonian living a dull life with his so-so job and on-and-off girlfriend, mixed up in a deadly web of lies. George is thrilled and shocked when a college-ex, Liana Dector, walks into his life after disappearing 20 years earlier. She asks if they can meet to discuss some trouble she is in, and although he knows better, he agrees. When George meets at the appointed location, he is greeted by a thug who punches him in the kidneys, drawing him into a world of deceit. The fast paced story alternates between the present and the past, and is truly one that will be hard for you to put down.

Lauren: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra, spans roughly a decade from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s and follows a small group of individuals struggling during the hardships and turmoil of the Chechen Wars. We come to know sisters, fathers, sons, and at the center of the novel, an eight-year-old girl, Havaa, all whose existence becomes a fight between trying to hold onto any shred of a “normal life” and literally trying to survive. Marra slowly reveals the story of each character all while masterfully weaving their lives together. The subject matter can be difficult to deal with; this book is not easy to read. Still, throughout it there were single sentences that took my breath away, and the last 100 pages or so make for incredible reading. One of the best books I’ve read in a while.

Chris: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides tells the story of five teenage sisters who commit suicide. The first one to do so is Cecilia, and within the year the rest follow her; all four in one night, all told in one paragraph. Narrated by the boys in the neighborhood, who have been totally smitten by the beautiful and mysterious sisters for years, you’ll hear some actual facts and lots of imagined happenings. After Cecilia commits suicide, the family, who always was a little weird (especially the parents), becomes more so after the tragedy. And that’s a large part of the telling—about this family, the relationships between the sisters, and the almost non-existent relationships with everyone else.Not only is this book remarkably impressive as a debut novel, it’s been heralded as a masterpiece and a classic. Prior to reading Virgin Suicides, I enjoyed Eugenides’ third book, The Marriage Plot, but it pales by comparison.

Ann: The Martian by Andy Weir has gone from being a free online book available on the author’s website to a six figure publishing event from Crown Publishing. His novel tells the story of the third manned mission to Mars on the ship Ares 3. The main character, Mark Watney, tells the tale in log format after he is left behind on Mars and is presumed dead by the rest of the world. While he realizes he is probably not going to survive, he is a scientist, and he uses all of his knowledge and resourcefulness to stay alive. This is a fun and exciting first novel filled with a lot of science and humor. It is well researched by the author, who says he wanted the book to be as realistic as possible based on existing technology.

Stacey: Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun is quite the unusual book. The story begins some time after a large portion of the population has stopped sleeping, with no clear explanation of why, and all the social structures we count on are starting to crumble. But there are few people left who can still sleep. Can they save the rest of society or will they too become sleepless? It’s hard to know what to highlight from this book: the mystery and suspense, the science, the relationships, or maybe to alert readers there are some disturbing and violent moments, all found in this one debut novel. Definitely consider reading this -just maybe not right before bedtime.

Our next genre is one that we’ve added to our expanding list of possibilities and it’s… Classics! The hard part of this genre is (and will be) the definition of what makes a book A Classic. There doesn’t seem to be one, universally accepted set of criteria so I decided to cobble together my own parameters… So, if you’d like to read along with us with a classic of your own choosing? Please look for a book that you consider to have long-lasting value, a timelessness, or offer rare insight, and was published at least thirty years ago. Yes, this might be a little vague but you could approach it as opening up a wide range of reading options! Enjoy!

— Stacey

Top Ten Books of 2013 December 19, 2013

Posted by Chris in Book List, Debut Author, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books, Thoughtful Ramblings, Top Ten.
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Here are some of the books I loved in 2013 and why:

Local Souls by Allan Gurganus—for putting the hearts and minds of real human beings on the page. It was worth the ten years I waited for another by Gurganus. As of today, it’s on my Top Ten Books of a Lifetime.

Enon by Paul Harding—for so poignantly expressing what’s it’s like to lose a 13-year-old daughter in a fatal car accident and how a father goes about finding his way back. Beautifully written, almost to the point of distraction, especially when he seeks solace in nature. Tinkers is on hold for me at our library and I plan on picking it up tonight and staying up late.

Baldwin: Early Novels and Stories by James Baldwin—I first read one of the novels, Another Country, about 40 years ago and oddly, always remembered the main character’s name, Rufus, and the way Baldwin described the summer sun coming up in Manhattan. It was every bit as good rereading it this year.

The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese—My love of tennis and past reads of Verghese prompted me to pick up this book. I never saw tennis quite this way, but then who other than Verghese possibly could. And, too, he covers friendship, relationships, loneliness, and more in his inimitable style.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris—I’d rather listen to him talk then read his work; nonetheless he’s one of the best comedic writers around.

The Most of Nora Ephron by Norah Ephron—557 pages of wit, grace and brilliance!

Sister Mother Husband Dog by Delia Ephron—“We borrowed lines from each other the way other sisters borrow dresses.” Yeah, Delia’s that good. Share her memories of her sister, Nora, who died of lymphoma last year and other aspects of Delia’s life in this special book.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida—for making me wiser and a little sadder. Bless this wonderful child and may he continue finding joy every day of his life.

Francis & Bernard by Carlene Bauer—for her imaginative “supposings” about the lives of two great writers: Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell.

A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion—because no year would be complete without a re-read of at least one book by my all-time favorite author.

~ Chris