Beth’s Top 10 Reads of 2018

 

Thanks for taking a look at my top reads of 2018. I’ve included titles that moved me in some way.  Below you will find memoirs, fiction, children’s books, and pop-up books.  These books range considerably.  Some of the titles display magnificent examples of paper engineering, while others humanize very real social justice issues.   Thanks to my profession and personal responsibilities I have the opportunity to explore a wide array of books.  I hope you find something from this list that sparks you.

 

hate u giveeducatedeleanor oliphant

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Audio Books Galore

If you are looking for ways to fit more books into your life, audio books is a great way to do it.  You can listen anywhere.  Many prefer to listen while driving or exercising.  I prefer to listen while knitting or doing housework.  Others have shared with me that they listen while working on a puzzle.  I would like to invite you to join us at the library to listen to The Essential Agatha Christie Stories on Monday mornings in May at 11AM.  It’s a small gathering in our Community room, seated around a puzzle, fresh cup of coffee in hand & tasty cookie, while a central speaker broadcasts some good mysteries as if it were long ago. Sounds pretty relaxing, eh?  Not available to join us, keep in mind, Spring is in the air. Maybe you are finding yourself outdoors more often, possibly gardening or walking. Why not catch up on your reading while enjoying the outdoors with an audio book.  Below are some recommended titles.  Give it a try!

 

AUDIO BOOKS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by [Duhigg, Charles]

The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by [Winfrey, Oprah]

AUDIO BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD

BEST NARRATED AUDIO BOOKS

THE LATEST AND GREATEST AUDIO PICKS

(GET YOURSELF ON THE HOLD LIST ASAP)

 

 

Kate’s Top Ten of 2017

Schoolwork has been taking up most of my time this year but as soon as finals are over I plan to catch up on some reading. Here are the one’s I plan on starting the year with:

life The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

turtles all the way down Turtles All the Way Down  by John Green

index Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

beartowb Beartown by Fredrik Backman

one of us is lying One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

since we fell Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

camino island Camino Island by John Grisham

heartbreak hotel Heartbreak Hotel by Jonathan Kellerman

swimming lessons Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

breakdown The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

 

 

-Kate

Latest Additions

Spring is in full bloom here in Cleveland and it is just lovely. With the exception of raising my baby and working full-time, I’ve called off all of my other responsibilities to ensure that I have enough time to take my little one on walks, play outside, and help her discover the beauty of nature.  There are still so many things in this world that are brand new to her, and it’s so inspiring to watch her discover these things.

Watching my child learn and grow helps remind me that we are always learning and growing, even as adults. One great way to expand your mind is to read, so here are some titles we have recently reviewed for the Reading Room.  Check them out and maybe you’ll pick up some new knowledge or inspiration.

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Happy reading!

Beth

 

It’s Ladies Day! -in Women’s Fiction

We recently spent some time thinking about the lives of women and focusing on their relationships with family, friends, and loves -or- we talked about Women’s Fiction! Either way you think about it?It’s true! I think it was a pretty successful discussion with positive responses all around, why not see what you think of what we read?

Maureen: The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister is an absorbing historical debut that takes readers into the world of traveling magic shows in America around 1900. The main character, known as the Amazing Arden, has just been apprehended after a dead man is discovered beneath the stage of her show. The story unfolds backwards as Arden tells her life story to the deputy that catches her and explains how she came to be one of the only female illusionists of her time. Her life is full of heartbreak, love, suspense, and the thrill of performing. Will it turn out that Arden is the perpetrator of the murder? Just who is the mysterious man found dead beneath the stage? A compelling historical novel with a very strong female character that perseveres in the face of many obstacles and learns what she is really made of in the process.

Megan: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters is the story of Olivia Mead, a headstrong teen living in Oregon in 1900. While Olivia is drawn to the suffragist movement and dreams of going to college, her father wants his daughter to be a docile wife and mother. He attempts to silence her by hiring a stage illusionist to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. The experiment has unexpected results. While Olivia is no longer able to speak her mind, she is able to see people’s true natures. The horrifying visions lead her back to the mysterious mesmerist and boost her resolve to fight for women’s rights. A captivating historical fiction with a hint of romance and a touch of the supernatural.

Beth: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison is a beautifully written story about a resilient female character who overcomes her past and finds the courage to take on her future. The story delves into some of the most sensitive, often disturbing, issues we face as a culture, including racism, pedophilia, and rape, all of which play some role in the main character’s life, shaping her into a strong female icon.

Carol: In The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos, Taisy has been estranged from her father Wilson, ever since he left their family to start a new one when she was a high school senior. Sixteen years later, she can’t seem to say ‘no’ when the unabashedly conceited Wilson asks her to write her memoir. The by-product of Wilson’s second marriage is his spoiled and beloved teenage daughter, the precocious Willow. Willow adores their father, but is less than thrilled when Taisy moves into the pool house to begin her research. Worse still is that Willow, who’s been homeschooled all her life, has been enrolled in public school. Desperate for some help with navigating through unchartered waters, Willow might just find that she’s glad Taisy is there after all. This novel about sisterhood, family, love and second chances is a quick read with a happy ending that would make for great beach reading.

Emma: In The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee, Portia has a magical way with food. Just like her grandmother, she knows exactly what to cook/bake to help people. Portia and her two sisters inherited a dilapidated brownstone in Manhattan. Her sisters quickly sold their apartments to wealthy widow Gabriel Kane who renovates the apartments and lives there with his two teenage daughters. Newly divorced Portia decides to leave Texas and move into her portion of the brownstone, the garden apartment. Gabriel’s daughters initially latch on to Portia because she’s a good cook, but eventually Portia becomes close with the girls and their father. Her goal is to open a Texas style restaurant like her grandmother’s “Glass Kitchen” in Manhattan. A mixture of families, romance, family secrets, and tasty recipes.

Steve: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a splendid book about author Juliet Ashton and her group of unexpected pen pals from Guernsey, who share their stories of life under Nazi occupation during World War II. Juliet ultimately meets her new circle of friends in person and her life undergoes major changes. Although this is a fictional account told in the form of letters, you would swear that these are real people.

Ann: The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain is the latest in a long string of the author’s books featuring strong women struggling with relationships and with life. Riley MacPherson returns home to New Bern, North Carolina after her father dies. As she sorts through the house and talks to people who knew her dad, she finds she not only didn’t know him as well as she thought, but unearths layer upon layer of family secrets and questions. There is a startling revelation about her sister. Riley finds her life spiraling almost out of control as she realizes that the family members she thought she knew had hidden so much from her. The story and the characters pull you in and keep you reading late into the night.

Dori: Ani FaNelli is a woman that seems to have it all – she’s clawed her way to a successful career in New York City and is about to marry a handsome, wealthy man. She’s also shallow, mean and deeply unhappy. She’s crafted a persona to hide a traumatic adolescence that involved a news making violent event at her prestigious high school. When she agrees to be interviewed for a documentary about the event, her past unravels and flashbacks reveal the painful truth, but what will Ani do with it? Entrancing the reader from the first page, Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll is a twisty, dark, surprising debut novel.

Lauren: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen features two women facing the ups and downs of family, relationships, and the wounds of the past. Generations ago, Willa’s family was the height of Southern society in their small North Carolina town before being struck by financial ruin. During their heyday they built the Blue Ridge Madam, the town’s grandest mansion, which was subsequently sold and fell into disrepair. Paxton Osgood, Willa’s former classmate and still the quintessential “little Miss Perfect” is the President of the local women’s club and her family has purchased the Madam and Paxton is overseeing it’s restoration in time for the gala of the year. When a body is uncovered during renovations a decades-old mystery is brought to light and the two women are drawn together in delving into their pasts to uncover the truth.

Stacey: Lawyer for the Dog by Lee Robinson had a little romance, a super sweet dog named Sherman, and a powerful main character Sally Barnard. Sally is caring for her mother, who has advanced Alzheimer’s, while managing her own law practice and dealing with a little bit of relationship baggage from the past, which seems unavoidable as Sally’s in her fifties. This would be a good choice for a little light reading on the porch in summertime.

Next time we’re going to be sharing -mysteries! This is one genre I’m pretty sure no one here has any reluctance to read a mystery book and as a bonus feature -they’re really easy to define: a crime has been committed and someone tries to figure out who dunnit! -wa-lah!

Enjoy!

— Stacey

These Ladies Carried the Day (or Discussion)!

Ladies! This one is all about you! This group discussion was all about women’s fiction and what a selection of titles we had. The common element to these stories should be found through: a female protagonist, a story focused primarily on relationships between the main character and those around her, plus learning from difficulties that must be overcome. There can be elements of suspense or mystery but will always have a more romantic tone. Are you ready to see what everyone has to say about their choices?

Carol: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton begins in 1961 in the English Countryside, as the Nicolson family gathers to celebrate the birthday of 2-year-old Gerry. 16-year-old Laurel is hiding, daydreaming in the family tree house. From this perch Laurel witnesses her mother Dorothy kill a strange man who has approached the house. When the police investigate, Laurel supports her mother’s claim that it was done in self-defense and by day’s end she’s convinced herself that it was exactly that. The book picks up again in 2011 and Dorothy is in hospice. Laurel, now a famous actress, faced with the loss of her mother, begins to wonder about the crime she witnessed years ago and begins to do some detective to resolve this secret. The Secret Keeper flashes back and forth between 2011 and Dorothy’s past in WWII London, when as a young woman, she befriended Jimmy and Vivien, two people whose stories help reveal the motive behind Dorothy’s actions. This novel is rich and atmospheric, and is a perfect blend of historical fiction, mystery and women’s fiction, and it leaves its biggest secret for the book’s satisfying ending.

Chris: The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout tells the story of three adult siblings: Jim and Bob Burgess, both attorneys practicing in New York, and their sister Susan who stayed back home in Maine. It begins with Susan contacting her brothers for help because her teenage son is being charged with a hate crime against the Somali people now residing in their neighborhood. This incident brings them all together, both physically and emotionally, in a way they haven’t been in years. And all of them grow and benefit. As always, Strout takes a lot of time in developing and showing her characters, and as a result, they give her her story. Another great story it is!

Steve: State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett, tells the story of Dr. Marina Singh, a Minnesota-based pharmaceutical researcher, who is sent to the Amazon by her boss, Mr. Fox, who also happens to be her married lover. Marina is sent to investigate the progress of her company’s research efforts, which are led by the domineering and elusive Dr. Annick Swenson. Marina is also looking for the truth on what has happened to her former research partner, Dr. Anders Eckman, who was previously sent to find Swenson, and has been reported dead. What Marina encounters is a bizarre environment in which the women of the native Lakashi tribe bear children well into their 70’s. This is an interesting story but is impeded by slow pacing at times.

Emma: The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is the story of Molly and Vivian. In 2011 Molly, who is rapidly aging out of foster care, must do several hours of community service for stealing a book from the local library and 91-year-old Vivian needs help cleaning out her attic. As Molly helps Vivian sort through boxes, Vivian reminisces about her young life as an immigrant from Ireland living in New York with her family until there’s a tenement fire and she is left alone. At age 10 in 1929, Vivian finds herself on an “Orphan Train” heading west to find a new family. Vivian is placed with three different families until she feels safe and loved. She reunites with and marries a fellow orphan train rider who is then killed in WWII. Vivian gives their baby away and eventually marries again. With the Internet Molly helps Vivian find the child she gave away and they meet as the story ends. A deeply moving story.

Dori: In Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray, Clover Hobart, a 54-year-old woman who’s feeling unattractive, bored and taken for granted, wakes one morning to find herself literally invisible. The crazier thing is that no one, not even her husband and son, notices! Spotting an ad for a meeting at the local Sheraton for “Invisible Women”, she attends and finds that she isn’t alone: the large group includes her children’s former teacher and a local news anchor. Eventually, they discover that their shared pill regimen is the culprit and that the pharmaceutical firm that produces them is more concerned with money than invisible women, which leads them to start a campaign against the company. Funny, with engaging characters and heartwarming relationships, Calling Invisible Women reminds us to pay a lot more attention to those around us!

Megan: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott chronicles the lives of the four young March sisters as they work to support each other while their father is away serving as a chaplain for the Union Army during the Civil War. Responsibility for the household falls to their beloved mother, Marmee and the girls all do their best to please her and ease her burden. Together they face everyday hardships and celebrate simple pleasures as they learn to become proper women. This delightful and charming classic may seem a bit outdated, but the careful reader will still find many lessons that are still relevant today. As a first time reader, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the March family.

Ann: In The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice, three sisters, Dara, Delia, and Rori gather on Martha’s Vineyard to pack up and prepare to sell the family summer home. Their mother has died, and they can no longer afford to keep the house and property. As they pack and reminisce they talk about their father, who set sail years ago for Ireland and was only heard from once. No one knows what happened to him. The more they talk, the sisters realize, that for closure they must try and find out what happened to their dad. And so they set off to Ireland searching for evidence of him. They find the town where he first landed and they make a startling discovery. A pleasant story of sisters and family entanglements, with some lovely settings on Martha’s Vineyard and in Ireland.

Stacey: Little Bitty Lies by Mary Kay Andrews felt reminiscent of an Olivia Goldsmith book, maybe The First Wives Club or Flavor of the Month, both of which I would suggest before selecting Little Bitty Lies. Mary Bliss McGowan’s husband took off in the middle of the night with no warning -and all their money! Now Mary Bliss has to figure out a way to survive financially, deal with a thoughtless teen-aged daughter, and decide if she should seriously consider a relationship with any of the men currently asking her out. The least likable pieces of this novel are the unkind spirits of Mary Bliss’s husband, mother-in-law, and daughter, with little personal growth in the end.

Next time we’ll be looking for books in our recently tweaked religious fiction category. These book should have any kind of religion as it’s motivating or central force to the story. Now start thinking out of the box my friends! Why not look for something that features Native American beliefs or Druidic customs? Wouldn’t that be interesting?! See you in a month!

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