Top 10 of 2014

In no particular order…

 

crane wife     The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

 

breath of frost     A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

 

oneplusone     One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

 

lokis wolves    Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

 

orphan train     Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

 

monogram murders     The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah (Hercule Poirot returns!!)

 

where'd you go    Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple  (BOCD)

Ok, this one is kind of a cheat <sheepish grin> as I had it on my list last year.  However, this year I listened to it on CD and the reader, Kathleen Wilhoite,  was INCREDIBLE. She made the book even better!

I read a lot of picture books, and I had to include a few:

Sparky     Sparky by Jenny Ofill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Hogula     Hogula written and illustrated by Jean Gralley

Battle Bunny     Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, pictures by Matthew Myers

 

Happy reading in 2015!    :] Julie

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Top Ten + four + one =Stacey’s List of 2014

It’s so hard to pick just a few friends for special attention from such a crowded list of good stuff, but I did my best! Part of what helped me narrow my focus was to avoid authors I know I’ve mentioned before, adding in a few nonfiction, setting aside my extra four for just teen titles, and my plus one is poetry. And of course, just like years before, I give you my list in the very best Librarian-style order… they are Alphabetical by Author!

Ten -Fiction/Nonfiction for Adult Readers

The Enchanted: A Novel The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Dark souls wander through the dungeon waiting for death to help them make their escape; Arden will break your heart.

Book Cover Image. Title: 10% Happier:  How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story, Author: Dan Harris10% Happier by Dan Harris
Newsman Harris shares his personal journey from stressed-out ambition to blissed-out satisfaction; that’s right, meditation is the key.

Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic QuestSavage Harvest by Carl Hoffman
I may have learned way too much about cannibalism for my liking, but this was a fascinating look at how Western society often wrongly dismisses customs and traditions we don’t understand; Michael Rockefeller paid the ultimate price for making that cultural mistake.

Book Cover Image. Title: We are Called to Rise, Author: Laura McBrideWe Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
I love Bashkim and could have read a whole book about just him, but was still able to find room in my heart for all the other characters in this story.

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
I listened to this one and the Australian accent was delightful! Oh, and the story was equally engaging!

23) The Crane WifeThe Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
The author delved into the tough topics of love and forgiveness, along with a touch of humor and beautiful book-art imagery.

Delicious! Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
I might be a picky eater but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to read about food! This book has the added features of referring to Homefront recipes from World War II, James Beard as minor character, and -super features- Cleveland’s West Side Market and Akron key to the story!

The Paris WinterThe Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson
In the early 1900s, Maud wants to be both a respectable lady *and* an artist in Paris? A nearly impossible task, but she does try -and it almost kills her, literally.

Review: Casebook by Mona SimpsonCasebook by Mona Simpson
As Miles tells the story of his parents’ divorce, it’s easy to get swept up in drama. I love how the author is able to make those small moments of life into something special, but never sinks into the overly sentimental.

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open HeartMr. Owita’s Garden by Carol Wall
I might not be a gardener so some of the finer points of the plant selections were lost on me but I did understand (and appreciated) the deep, abiding friendship that developed between Carol and Mr. Owita.

Four -Teen Titles
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Each one is better than the last!
We Were Liars by E Lockhart
So many really smart surprises!
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
A fantastic conclusion to an outstanding series!
Homeland by Cory Doctorow
Ack! (Scary stuff to think about -but worth it!)

One -Poetry
Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson
Gorgeous.

Happy reading!

— Stacey

Steve’s Top Ten in 2014

This year I continue my trend of mostly non-fiction picks, all but one in fact. There are some interesting real life characters I’ve read about this year, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

The Big Bam: the Life and Times of Babe Ruth by Leigh Montville

This is the life story of Babe Ruth, from his time in a Baltimore orphanage through his Yankee years and his decline. This is a well-balanced book on this complex individual. A fair amount of time is given to the games, so non-baseball diehards may want to skim portions, but Babe the man is given ample attention.

A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic by Caseen Gaines

Gaines takes a wonderful look at the making of this classic and its lasting legacy. Originally A Christmas Story was not a big hit at the theaters, but thanks to VHS rentals, and Ted Turner playing it non-stop after acquiring it from MGM’s film library, A Christmas Story is now a holiday staple. The book is full of many interesting stories. Did you know that the actress playing Miss Shields, Ralphie’s teacher, was actually seven months pregnant and wore a body suit to make her look frumpy instead of pregnant? And that the bulk of the film was actually filmed in St. Catharines and Toronto, Canada, and many of the Canadian school kids were used as extras, and paid just $1 for their work? Many more stories await you in this gem of a book.

A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley by Neil Thompson

Thompson details the very interesting but very odd life of Ripley. He started out poor, painfully shy, and very self-conscious of his large teeth and stutter. A caring teacher took note of his artistic talents and allowed him to draw his reports, rather than write and speak about them, saving him the embarrassment of his stutter. As Ripley grew older, he honed his skills and began his career as a newspaper cartoonist, later stumbling onto his wildly popular “Believe It or Not!” fame after first showcasing odd sports feats.   As his life progressed, Ripley became rich, famous, odd and erratic. A thorough and enjoyable read!

Dead Giveaway: The Rescue, Hamburgers, White Folks, and Instant Celebrity . . . What You Saw on TV Doesn’t Begin to Tell the Story . . . by Charles Ramsey

This book tells the story of Ramsey’s experiences helping to free the abducted girls and his life before and after the momentous event. It is a quick and oftentimes hilarious read, and you will actually learn many surprising things about Ramsey. Did you know that his father likely was connected to the mob, that Ramsey grew up privileged, that at one time Ramsey was a drug dealer, and that he is a Tea Party Republican? And, contrary to popular belief, he does not have free burgers from McDonalds for life.

Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander (audio version) by Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the popular Duck Dynasty clan, tells his life story, warts and all, and you might be surprised to learn that he was not a real nice guy, walking out on his family for a life or partying before finding God. The stories about starting the duck call business are pretty funny and are the true strength of the book. There is some preaching and Bible quoting, but it’s not until the later chapters that it becomes more prominent. Narrator Al Robertson, the eldest son of the family, lends an authentic voice to this audio version.

Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb by Herschel Cobb

This is the story of Herschel and his grandfather and their relationship that blossomed during Ty’s retirement and after the death of Ty’s two adult sons, who he never fully reconciled with. Young Herschel and his siblings were the brunt of horrible abuses by their bullying father and alcoholic mother, and grandfather Ty was the welcome comfort in their lives. Herschel offers another side to the often vilified Ty Cobb, as we witness Cobb showering affection on the grandchildren and him helping struggling ex-ballplayers who didn’t have the great fortunes that he amassed.

Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin

Bushkin, Carson’s longtime lawyer and confidant until a falling out split the two, tells of his time with the late night heavyweight. There are some real eye openers here, and although you will get plenty of dirt, it didn’t feel like a malicious tell-all, more of a stroll down memory lane, with the exception of various lawsuits.

Misery by Stephen King

This is a King classic, a terrifying psychological horror novel with one of the worst villains ever created. Author Paul Sheldon is in a car accident in Colorado and found by retired nurse Annie Wilkes, who happens to be his “number one fan.” She keeps Paul hostage in her home and makes him write a new novel featuring her favorite character, a character from his best-selling Misery series that he had previously killed off. Annie has a long history of violence and mental instability, and her treatment of Paul is terrifying. The book includes some incredibly gory descriptions, not for the faint of heart.

One Summer by Bill Bryson

Bryson recounts the summer of 1927 in America. There were a slew of events going on during that time, highlighted by Charles Lindbergh’s historic nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic. Lindbergh is the thread that holds the summer’s events together, but along the way Bryson recounts a variety of other topics, including Babe Ruth’s historic 60 homerun season, the Mississippi flood, the rise of journalistic sensationalism, Prohibition and gangsters. The book is lengthy, clocking in at over 500 pages, but Bryson’s wit makes it an easy and oftentimes humorous read.

President Me: the America That’s in My Head by Adam Corolla

Carolla explains all that is wrong with America and what he would do to fix it. He does take on political topics, like big government, but leaves plenty of time for pet peeves as well. It is a very funny read, but not for those easily offended. Carolla lays into those that he sees as inept and incompetent, and does not go easy on the cursing and vulgar language to express what he would do to change things.

– Steve

Lauren’s Top Ten for 2014

Here’s my top ten of 2014! I was surprised to find that most of them actually were published this year—this makes me feel unbelievably hip and with it, which is a strange and new sensation for me.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Detective Cormoran Strike is back in the second installment in this series. I love the main characters of Strike and Robin and am excited that seven books have been planned. I always like to imagine who would play the characters if a book became a movie. Strike is tough because I have such a clear picture in my head and it’s hard to find a match, but I think Robbie Coltrane comes closest. For Robin, I pick Felicity Jones.

The Secret Place by Tana French
Tana French is hands-down on of my favorite authors. I probably recommend her to friends more than any other author. Her latest doesn’t disappoint in the least.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I was so excited for Amy Poehler’s first book to come out in November. I think she’s absolutely hilarious and also appreciate her as a voice for women. Amy and Tina Fey will be hosting the Golden Globes together again this year and I. can’t. wait!

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
I am big fan of HBO’s Girls and love Lena Dunham. Her writing is raw, honest, and funny—I was glued to the page.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
In high school Tsukuru is one of a group of five very close friends. One day, suddenly and without explanation, he is informed that they can no longer speak to him. Years go by until he is encouraged to revisit his past, track down his former friends, and find answers.

The Martian by Andy Weir
This isn’t the type of book I would naturally gravitate towards and I was so pleasantly surprised! The main character, Mark Watney, is an astronaut stranded alone on Mars. He’s incredibly intelligent and amazingly has a sense of humor that prevails as he fights to survive. I don’t have to wonder who’d play Mark in a movie, as it has already been announced that Ridley Scott will direct the film version in 2015 starring Matt Damon.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Spanning roughly a decade from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, this book follows a small group of individuals struggling during the hardships and turmoil of the Chechen Wars. There were single sentences that took my breath away, and the last 100 pages or so make for really incredible reading. One of the best books I’ve read in a while.

Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow, and Finding Your True Purpose by Gabrielle Bernstein
I enjoy Gabby Bernstein’s books and I think her latest is one of her best yet. I read this book straight through, but you could also flip to any page and read a single entry to take with you as you go about your day. We all need to find our inner hippie every once in a while.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Mystery in the form of creepy family secrets! Margaret is a young woman who spends her time working in her father’s antiquarian bookshop. One day she is contacted by a famous author she’s never met who wishes to finally tell her own story before she dies—and she wants Margaret to be her biographer.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I somehow missed out on reading this classic until now. My only regret is that twelve-year-old-me didn’t have her chance. What a wonderful story! This is sure to be a book I go back to and read again.

-Lauren

My Top Ten (Plus Four) Reads of 2014!

What a great year! What great reading!

2014

While 2014 has practically flown by for me, I did manage to get quite a bit of reading done along the way! As usual, it was hard to narrow down my favorites, but I also did manage to come up with a list of winners.  In no particular order, here are the books that moved me this year:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Paris Winter by Imogene Robertson

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

The Martian by Andy Weir

A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

My Real Children by Jo Walton

Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

California by Eden Lepucki

One Kick by Chelsea Cain

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

You can find our staff’s book reviews on the above titles (and about 8,000 other books) in our Reading Room at http://readingroom.rrpl.org

Check it out and maybe you will discover your new favorite book!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!

~Carol

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

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

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

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

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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

The Bear by Claire Cameron

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

The Untold by Courtney Collins

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

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

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

Thirty Girls by Susan Minot

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

Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

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

Three Bargains by Tania Malik

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

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

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

Caribou by Charles Wright

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

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

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

The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

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

Happy Holidays!

—Maureen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughing My Way Through 2014

Making a list of my favorite titles of 2014 really brings to light one thing about me;  I love to laugh.  I’m a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine, and throughout a very busy, sometimes overwhelming year, I’ve been desperate to get in all the laughs I can.  Most of these titles are comical, one serious, and one is  a little dark.

 The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project was a hilarious story about a hyper intelligent professor and his search for a significant other.

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

This book was very entertaining when read aloud.  I ended up buying it as a gift for my nieces and nephews, and for my friend’s first grade classroom.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler is my hero.  Not only do I think she is very funny, but she is also incredibly inspiring.  She’s the type of woman who doesn’t accept failure as a failure, but as an opportunity to learn and grow. I appreciate that Poehler was able to share her story while respecting the intimate privacy of her family.

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

My husband and I listened to this audiobook on our way home from a cross-country trip.  Not only was Jim Gaffigan full of his usual comedic wit, but it also offered insight into his daily life, living in a two bedroom apartment in New York City with his wife and their many children.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

This book was inspiring and motivating.  I found Sandberg’s advice on being willing to take risks, and not be afraid to ask for what you want or need in a professional environment.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I’d like to be Tina Fey when I grow up, or at least meet her.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry  by Gabrielle Zevin

This novel was a reminder that even the coldest hearts can be thawed with a little compassion.

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman

Klosterman visited the locations where rock stars died.  It was an entertaining read about pop culture, past loves, and his experience in life.

Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich

This was a hilarious collection of short stories, though not for the easily offended.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

I’m a big fan of the TV series Dexter, so after the show ended I had no choice but to find another route to get my Dexter fix. The Dexter book series is similar to the television show, though the plot lines blur and different characters die.

Beth