The David A. Howe Library staff
invites you to try one of their favorite books.
Each one is marked with this sticker on the spine or shelved in our
special display by the main desk.
Click any book jacket below to link to the catalog with more reviews and
to find these titles, get additional reviews, and even read excerpts from
these great books. If a book isn't on the shelf, you can place a hold and
we'll contact you when it's ready for you to pick up.
Amanda Smith picked these books:
Camera, Two Kids, and a Camel
by Annie Griffiths
It takes a
lot to be a world traveling professional photographer…you have to be
sociable (knowing the culture you’re in is a must), you have to be clever
(if the culture you are in doesn’t allow a woman photographer to be
present at certain events what do you do?) and you have to be a master
multi-tasker (globetrotting for a living can be difficult enough on your
own, but add in trying to have a personal life…well that’s when things get
interesting). Who in their right mind would do this? Well Annie Griffiths
would! As a National Geographic photographer, Annie travels the world
giving the rest of us insight into the lives of others through black and
white, sepia, and color pictures. Who says picture books aren’t for
adults? Dive in and learn what life is like behind the lens of a camera.
by Lt. Col. Mark Weber
This heart-wrenching yet
inspirational story is a father’s legacy to his children. Diagnosed with
cancer in 2010, and knowing that he was not likely to survive, Mark Weber
chose to leave behind something of himself for his children: his life
story. The author pulls from all parts of his life to give his sons advice
and help them learn how to deal with difficulties in life when he can’t be
there to guide them. A heartfelt memoir that is full of life lessons and
leaves one asking: what kind of legacy will I leave?
by Moira Young
Saba has grown up struggling to
survive the desert wasteland she calls home and her dysfunctional family.
But life truly begins when her twin brother is kidnapped. She begins a
search that leads her to lands unknown and an adventure that is bigger
than the search for her brother. This dystopian novel is full of action
and plot twists but what really draws you in is the character development
of the leading lady Saba. She starts off as a self-centered,
tough-as-nails, don’t-need-help kind of girl and ends up…well, you’ll have
to read it to see how she changes.
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Ursula Gray picked these books.
by Chris Pavone
Chosen as the best new novel by the
Mystery Writers Assoc. in 2012, I found this novel full of twists, turns
and surprising events. Beginning with page one until the end, the reader
is kept in the dark and guessing as to what would happen next.
Moore, the main character, and her husband move to Luxembourg so he can
take a lucrative position. While she leaves her 'double life' in America,
she begins to find everyone around her has a 'double life' also, including
her husband. While trying to get to the bottom of everything, she begins
discovering secret offices, shell corporations, a hidden farm house, fake
bank accounts and hidden weapons. As Kate begins to uncover the mysteries
around her, she finds her life and that of her family in danger. This
novel concludes with the uncovering of a major con that has taken years to
create. If you are a fan of spy thriller novels, you should enjoy this
by Herman Koch
This novel begins with two couples
meeting in Amsterdam for a fashionable dinner. Each couple had a fifteen
year old son and the evening begins quite amicably although each couple
has some terrible things that need to be addressed. As the evening
progresses, around dessert time, the conversation turns to the horrific
act each boy has had a part in. The friendships of these couples are
tested and events reach a very climactic point as each parent tries to
protect their son from the consequences that face him. A well written dark
and satirical novel that leaves the reader unsettled and asking themselves
what they'd have done in a similar situation. A different type of book
than I usually read, I found this very interesting.
by Charles Frazier
In Charles Frazier's third novel, we meet Luce
who had become the caretaker of a rustic lodge in NC, and who is uncertain
of her future there. To add to her problems, her sister is murdered and
she has become the guardian of her twin niece and nephew. These children
are mute and out of control due to their mother's untimely death at the
hands of their step father. Although Luce values a solitary life and
enjoys her freedom, she does her best to make a home for her new family.
While she is teaching them about nature and new values, her life is also
beginning to change as well. When news reaches them about the release from
prison of the murderer, this novel takes on a new feel. It becomes a
suspense thriller. As usual, Charles Frazier's description of the area,
characters and events matches his previous novels and will keep you
involved until the end. A good summer read.
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Liz Buchholz picked these books:
by Mark Giminez (e-book edition)
Ben Brice is a
decorated Vietnam veteran who lives alone in the New Mexico wilderness
while drinking himself to death as he battles his memories of war. The one
light in his life is his granddaughter, Gracie, who lives miles away in
Texas with his estranged son, John, an internet genius-turned-billionaire.
While at her soccer game, John loses track of Gracie as he is also
conducting business on his cell phone. She has been abducted. And so
begins a furious race against time to save Gracie from unknown kidnappers.
Dark family secrets emerge as John and Ben must work together to find her.
Even though the clues indicate a pedophile, Ben’s experience tells him
otherwise. There are many twists and turns and the reader discovers that
behind the kidnapping is an extraordinary government plot. This will hold
by Chris Bohjalian (e-book edition)
many of us are aware of the Armenian genocide that took place during the
First World War? I certainly wasn’t and I don’t remember it ever being
taught in any of my History classes. The granddaughter of an Armenian and
a Bostonian is doing genealogical research and discovers that her
grandmother took a guilty secret to her grave. Flash back to 1915 when
young Elizabeth has journeyed to the Syrian city of Aleppo with her father
and an American relief group to deliver food and supplies to the survivors
of the Armenian massacre. The Turks are using Aleppo as a depot for the
straggling remnants of Armenian women who have been force-marched through
the desert. While there she meets Armen, an engineer who has come in
search of his wife. There is a love story intertwined with the atrocities
of war. This is gruesome and unforgettable at the same time.
by Kathy Hepinstall (e-book edition)
Civil War era it was not uncommon for wealthy men to have their wives
committed to insane asylums if they were not compliant with their
husband’s wishes or ways of thinking. Iris falls in love with Robert
Dunleavy, a plantation owner, and marries him despite her father’s
misgivings. Upon arrival at Dunleavy’s home, she soon discovers that she
cannot tolerate the way that the slaves are treated and becomes more and
more abolitionist in her thinking. After embarrassing Robert, Iris is
committed to Sanibel Asylum so that she can be reformed into a proper,
submissive wife. Dr. Cowell is the therapist trying to change Iris’s
thoughts, but despairs of ever doing so. He is the consummate medical
professional but also develops feelings for her. His son, Wendell, is
troubled by memories of a past patient and feels drawn to help Iris. She
also meets a Confederate soldier who is haunted by his nightmares of war.
He may be beyond help, but Iris feels that she can save him. You will be
drawn into the story.
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Ann Giddings picked these books:
Teachers Make: In praise of the Greatest Job In the World
If you're an educator or someone with a love of teachers or
teaching, you'll find this book inspirational. Taylor Mali offers his
wonderful tips and stories from his experience as a teacher. As a former
middle-school teacher and teacher’s advocate, he shares the joy of
teaching and why our society needs good teachers and educators more than
ever. It's a book that will be treasured and shared by every teacher in
America - and everyone who's ever loved or learned from one.
from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search For Identity
by Andrew Soloman
How do we raise children who are profoundly different
than we are? How do parents deal with raising a child who isn't what they
expected him or her to be? What if the child is autistic? Deaf? Has Down
Syndrome? Or has dwarfism? And how much does nurture have to do with the
people our children become? Or is it more due to nature, or genetics that
are unchangeable? If you are a parent, or aspire to be one, or work with
children, I recommend this book to you. Each of these stories reveals the
unconditional love of parents for their children and the desire for all
humans to be valued as individuals.
Battle with God: A President’s Struggle With Faith and What it Meant for
by Stephen Mansfield
This is another biography
that I enjoyed. It includes many first-hand accounts, letters, and
speeches, showing Lincoln as a man who wrestled with his faith rather than
blindly accepting the
religious mores of his time. The author gets
into the details of Lincoln’s spiritual journey. Lincoln was a skeptic
during his youth, but shows his growing faith as he matures. He ends with
President Lincoln, the leader who deeply pondered God’s purpose for the
Civil War, and then communicated his conclusions in his second Inaugural
Address. If you’ve seen the newest movie on Lincoln, you will surely find
this a wonderful book.
the Remarkable Life of Julia Child
by Bob Spitz
you seen the movie Julia and Julia? Julia Child had a fascinating
life even before she became a familiar face on TV. At the outbreak of
World War II, she volunteered for government service and was shipped
overseas as a member of the OSS, America’s spy agency that later became
the CIA. She worked in its Registry and was responsible for the location
and movements of every U.S. spy operating in the Southeast Asia Theater.
She was a big person (over 6'3") with a big personality that couldn't be
contained in the expected role of "the little woman." I found it very
moving when she finally found true love, although she was still adrift
about what her life purpose would be. A lunch in France changed
everything. It was a powerful moment when she hit on her true calling at
the age of forty. So, if you want to read and learn about Julia Child,
pull up a chair and Bon Appetit!
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Jackie Angel picked these books.
by Karen Moning
This one is definitely a guilty pleasure.
Set in Ireland, a young girl is out for revenge of the death of her
sister. But she finds herself the world of dark powers, supernatural
beings & unexpected events. You’ll have to stretch your imagination for
this urban fantasy but you’ll be glad you did. Plus Ms. Moning leaves you
waiting for more with her cliffhanger ending and her next installments of
Faefever and Dreamfever.
Gotta Have Balls
by Lily Brett
Set in NYC, this is the
story of Ruth and her aging father Edek, and how Ruth discovers who her
father really is for the first time in her life. Written in a dry witty
tone, Ruth journeys through a new season of her life. While trying to be
her father’s caretaker she discovers he’s still got a lot of living left
to do. So she must learn to let go a bit for him to find his own
happiness. Although the journey has its road bumps and potholes, both Ruth
and Edek make it thru and end up surprising themselves as much as each
other. This book is more about the adventures of relationships than
by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Poignant, heartfelt, and
honest are just a few words to describe this can’t-put-down book. Although
the story has much sadness, there is also much redemption as the heroine’s
heart and soul die and then become reborn again. The characters are so
well written you are certain to hold them dear to your heart until the
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Melody Fanton picked these books:
Nights of the Shadow Catcher
by Timothy Egan
first page, I was immediately drawn to Edward Curtis… charismatic,
handsome, self-made photographer and outdoorsman. You’ll recognize the
poignant, haunting photographs he took of the continent’s original
inhabitants. He knew their history was soon to be extinct if no one could
He has been described as “Indiana Jones with a camera”
and spent three decades documenting the stories and rituals of more than
eighty Native American tribes.
I was moved by the accounts of the
Indians and their way of life; I was amazed at the motivation and stamina
of this pioneer; I was intrigued by the accounts of Roosevelt and Morgan;
and I was humbled by the dignity and suffering of the Native Americans.
True to his promise, Edward Curtis made the Indians live forever.
by Simon Beckett
Our bodies continue to hoard
our life’s secrets even when consumed by fire. I love forensic
anthropology, and this mystery set on a remote Scottish island in the
Outer Hebrides is one of the better ones I’ve read. As with any good
suspense story, the plot twists and turns and many characters are suspect
throughout, although the motive remains unknown till the end. As with any
good story, the end will catch you by surprise.
Thousand Mornings: Poems
by Mary Oliver
little book by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver contains 36 poems
in a mere 77 pages. They praise and chronicle the wonder of our daily
experience while inviting us to ponder the awe of dawn, the wisdom of
animals, and the redemption of observation. There were many “aha!” moments
when reading these…one to own for your personal library.
by Wilbur Smith
As one of the very best
contemporary writers in my opinion, Wilbur Smith sets this novel smackdab
in the 21st century with a tale of wealth, intrigue, danger, and politics.
The plot revolves around piracy and kidnapping at sea off the Somalian
coast. With a $20 billion ransom demand, and a political climate that
prevents intervention, a mother and a security agent are left to their own
devices to recover the 19 year old victim. This is storytelling at its
by Georgia Pellegrini
In Roman mythology, the
goddess of the hunt was Diana, ruling the forest and the moon. The hunt
was “an extension of our being both humans and animals—our first work and
craft, one of our original instincts.” The author left Wall Street to
connect with her love of cooking and the world of local, organic, and
sustainable food. Her adventures include hunting for squirrel to elk and
wild boar. Included are recipes for wild game and, surprisingly, for life
and nature. This is an inspiring and very humorous account of our very
basic connections to the natural world.
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Eileen Tecza picked these books:
A rivalry between two
mercurial magicians travels to the next generation.
A circus, Le
Cirque des Reves, appears in various locations without advance notice. It
is open only at night with amazing experiences seen only in this
particular venue. Competing to be the best, young magicians Marco and
Celia’s relationship develops into a romance, unknown at the beginning
that they are destined to culminate the rivalry between Celia’s father and
Twin sons born to an Indian
nun who dies in childbirth and a British doctor who disappears are raised
by doctors in a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Bound by their
fascination with medicine and their connection as twins, the boys grow up
in Ethiopia on the edge of revolution.
This novel explores the
political climate of Ethiopia, a man’s dedication to the practice of
medicine, and the power of family.
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Allison Midgley picked these books:
Housekeeper and the Professor
by Yoko Ogawa
A math genius
loses his memory. He can't remember anything after 1975. He can absorb new
information and new experiences for 80 minutes at a stretch, then it is
erased, and he has to start over. A housekeeper is hired to help. She
brings her son, a baseball-crazy 10-year-old boy the Professor grows to
adore. Together, they develop a rich, loving relationship that tells a
story of poverty and hope in two Japanese families. Ogawa’s rich imagery
and spare language bring the story to poignant life.
by Karen Russell
I recommend this book because of its
wonderful descriptions, surreal storyline, and engaging characters, the
Bigtree family of the Florida Everglades. Twelve year old Ava Bigtree, the
main character, goes on a quest in an effort to bring her family back
together and revive their failing amusement park after her mother dies. I
thoroughly enjoyed its comic moments and the fairy tale-style narrative,
and the story drew me forward, even when - or perhaps because - unexpected
tragic events occur.
Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
I hadn’t read this classic
before and was prompted to read it by news about the 50th anniversary of
its publication. The story of racial injustice is stunning for its time.
The characters are well-developed whether they’re admirable like Atticus
Finch, despicable like Mayella Ewell, or curious like tomboy Scout Finch.
The vivid scenes - languid summer days, tension-filled courtrooms,
mysterious night-time neighborhoods – spark the reader’s imagination. This
is indeed a classic worth reading – again and again.
by Mark Childress
I was inspired to read this
novel after hearing Childress talk about his reaction to Harper Lee’s To
Kill a Mockingbird. It’s an enjoyable and engaging read. The main
character flashes back to 1965 and a young boy’s view of civil rights
conflicts and desegregation. Just before his Alabama town sees
confrontations between police and African-American citizens, the boy’s
aunt kills her hubby and ducks the law by moving to Hollywood. As Peejoe,
now a successful screenwriter remembers the summer of 1965, he tries to
untangle the rather improbable, highly-entertaining travels of his Aunt
Lucille, and learns the complexity of both family struggles and larger
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Amanda Smith picked these books:
By Sharon Shinn
Set in the mythical land of
Gillengaria, Mystic and Rider is a fantastic tale that
has it all. With the land on the brink of war, six companions set out to
gather information for the king in the hopes of staving off the
inevitable. This rag-tag group struggles at first to come together as a
team, finding that the very issues that divide them are some of the
reasons the country is going to war. As danger draws near, will the group
be able to set aside differences and form a cohesive unit? Will war lay
waste to the land of Gillengaria? Read and find out. Filled with twists
and turns, magic, sword-fighting, and marvelous character development, you
won’t be able to put it down and will be looking for the second book in no
General: Riding the Surge at a Combat Hospital in Iraq
Though I have read other memoirs and autobiographies of men
and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is the first I
have read about a trauma chief. Though perhaps seen as a “behind the
scenes” man, Dr. Hnida, along with all the other staff members of the
Combat Support Hospital in Iraq, worked no less diligently at his job,
than those on the front, to help save the never-ending flow of wounded
into the camp. Though equipment was sometimes scarce or malfunctioning,
work space was cramped, and temperatures soared I was gripped by the
camaraderie of the group. Their willingness to look out for one another’s
needs and continual jokes to relieve tension is a testament to hope. They
chose hope instead of giving in to despair and tragedy that surely stared
them in the face many a night.
Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life the Follows
An intriguing and sobering read about the changes that occur in
the life of the author after serving in the US military as an Explosive
Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technician in Afghanistan. The author chooses not
to adhere to the typical chronological flow of information for his memoir
and instead takes the reader back and forth from past to the present and
vice versa. This technique serves to depict the contrast between the
struggles of war and the everyday life challenges of Americans back home.
It more clearly shows the struggle that can occur for some veterans to
reintegrate into a culture relatively unaccustomed to the horrors of war.
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Niki Gordon picked these books:
by Jo Nesbo
Police investigator, Harry Hole,
suspects a link between a letter he received and the disappearances of up
to a dozen women. These women all went missing on the day of the first
snowfall. Then there is also the question of why there’s always a
mysterious appearance of a snowman nearby. Is there a connection? This
novel is full of twists and turns as the killer breaks his own rules to
keep Harry guessing. This is the first mystery novel I’ve read in a long
time and it didn’t disappoint. It’s full of suspense and is sure to keep
you on the edge of your seat.
by Suzanne Collins
I kept having Patrons come
up to me and tell me how great they thought The Hunger Games was. I
finally broke down and read it and was so glad that I did. I couldn’t put
it down. I don’t normally recommend young adult novels, but this one is
different and worth the read.
This book takes place in the future of
what was once North America, but is now divided up into districts. The
districts were defeated in a civil war by “the Capital.” As a reminder,
each district must give up a boy and a girl each year t compete in “The
Hunger Games.” In order to save her younger sister from a fight to the
death, Katniss Everdeen puts her life on the line and volunteers to
participate. I highly recommend this book.
by Anne Rice
In this book, Anne Rice has
returned to writing about familiar supernatural creatures, this time
werewolves. It has been many years since I’ve read an Anne Rice novel;
however, I really enjoyed this book. Reuben, a young reporter from San
Francisco, is in Mendocino County to do a story on an older woman’s
magnificent family home. That night, after a violent episode, the woman is
dead and Reuben is in the hospital after being attacked and bitten by a
beast he couldn’t identify. It is soon after that he experiences the
ecstasy and horror of what he calls “the wolf gift.” I liked this book
because the werewolf was reinvented to have a superhero-like quality. He
feels drawn to fight against evil by attacking people in the midst of
committing criminal acts.
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Jackie Angel picked these books.
by Jennifer Chiaverini
This is a delightful
read. Just as enlightening as it is heartwarming. Although the setting
begins, ends, and sporadically jumps back to modern day at Elm Creek Manor
Quilt Camp, most of the story takes place in the mid 1800’s. Sylvia finds
her great grandmother’s journal in the attic and as Sylvia reads it, the
story unfolds. She also finds several quilts that have mysterious origins.
As usually per Chiaverini, the endearing characters seem real and
relatable. You’ll feel like you are hearing your great grandmother tell
you the tale of her ancestors herself.
by Jennifer Chiaverini
Another great tale of
the Elm Creek Quilters, only this time the story takes place in Maui! The
story begins rather bleak for Bonnie with her quilt shop closed and her
divorce right around the corner. But then her friend Claire invites her to
Maui for the winter. (We should all have such a friend!) There she has all
kinds of ups & downs all the while learning to quilt Hawaiian style. In
addition to the drama, Chiaverini includes Hawaiian history, quilting
trivia, and beautiful descriptions of the islands. A nice, light
“vacation” read. And it’s travel size too!
New Year’s Quilt
by Jennifer Chiaverini
tale from Chiaverini. In this one Sylvia has just married Andrew and they
set off for their honeymoon in NYC & then travel on to Andrew’s daughter,
Amy’s, house. Sylvia parallels the dynamics of Amy’s struggle to accept
her father’s marriage to her own struggles with her sister many years ago.
Much of Sylvia’s past is revealed in this story. Chiaverini also includes
many different New Year’s traditions from other countries and some fun
history/trivia about NYC.
for the Gold
by Thorn Bacon
This adventurous read is based
on the actual events of the infamous horseback ride of Louis Remme in
February of 1855 from Sacramento, CA to Portland, OR. Adding to the
adventure is a bit of drama between Remme & the various people he meets
along his ride. Although the story is not super faced-paced, it will still
hold your attention & beg for you to read one more page. Plus it is mixed
with interesting tidbits of history and delightful descriptions of the
by Patricia Briggs
This is the fourth in the urban
fantasy Alpha And Omega series. And if you’re like me, as soon as you
finish this one you will want to read the rest asap. Briggs skillfully
incorporates many dynamics into this story...the classic who-done-it of a
mystery, the excitement of an adventure, and the warm-fuzzy of a love
story. Plus it has the allure of fantasy elements (werewolves, vampires &
elves) but the setting of modern day which makes it all too easy for the
reader to get completely absorbed in the storyline. A definite 5 star
Hands Came Away Red
by Lisa McKay
Although this claims the
genre of “Christian fiction” it is not overtly Christian. It definitely
has Christian beliefs presented but in a very subtle way as part of the
storyline. That being said, the main focus is on seven teenagers who get
thrown into a religious war then, barely escaping with their lives, into
the jungles of Indonesia. McKay skillfully shows how young people are able
to find goodness in their own hearts at the very moment the ugliness of
the world is opened up to them. Even though this book has sadness to it, I
would still recommend it. It is not only a good read that you won’t want
to put down, but it is a good reminder of how much one person can make a
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Liz Buchholz picked these books.
by Keith Thomson
Drummond Clark was once a spy of
legendary proportions. Now Alzheimer’s disease has taken its toll and he’s
just a confused old man who has wandered off.
When his son, Charlie, a
losing gambler, brings him home, there is a huge explosion and the pair
barely escape with their lives. After Drummond hot-wires a car and bullets
start flying, Charlie discovers that his father is not the boring
appliance salesman that he had always known.
The CIA wants to eliminate
the problem of top secrets coming out with Mr. Clark’s advancing disease.
Father and son flee cross-country to evade assassins and during his lucid
moments, Clark Sr. effortlessly kills multiple assailants, shocking
Charlie into realizing that he hadn’t really known who his father was at
all. The two develop a close relationship as they try to escape with their
This left me very ready to read Twice a Spy.
Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See
China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total
seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret
code for communication. Lily and Snow Flower are paired by a matchmaker to
be friends even though they have never met, and thus begins their use of
nu shu (women’s secret writing) by painting letters on a fan that was sent
back and forth
We learn about the painful process of foot binding,
women’s inferior status in their homes and many of the proverbs and
superstitions that shaped their daily lives, as the girls age from 7 to
80. Interesting to learn about a culture that is so different from our
by Steve Berry
Originally in the Catherine
Palace in Russia, the Amber Room was a true wonder with wall panels made
of amber and pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. During World War II,
Nazi soldiers made off with the panels and their disappearance remains one
of the great mysteries of the war.
Karol Borya is a Russian who was
once held in a German POW camp and has just become a United States
citizen. When he dies under suspicious circumstances, his daughter, Rachel
is left with clues about the location of the Amber Room. Unfortunately,
there are other powerful men who are also in pursuit of the treasure and
will stop at nothing to gain it. Rachel and her ex-husband, Paul travel to
Europe where they find themselves on a collision course with ruthless
killers. You will be anxious to see how this plays out.
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Ursula Gray picked these books:
by Stephen King
“On 11/22/63 three shots rang out in Dallas,
President Kennedy died and the world changed forever.”
GED students to write an essay about what incident changed their lives,
Jake Epping, an English teacher, read a heart rending account of how one
student's life was changed by the murder of his family by his abusive
father. Soon after, Jake is shown a portal to the past. Traveling back to
1958, Jake is determined to reverse the actions of this abusive father. In
doing this, Jake finds he can change history and returns to 1963 to try
and save President Kennedy from assassination.
This is typical
Stephen King writing with much historical background, and many twists and
turns. A totally “fun” book to read.
by William Landay
What does a parent do when
his 14 year old son is accused of murdering a fellow student? This is
exactly what has happened in Defending Jacob. Jacob is accused of
murder and his Assistant DA father is placed in the position of defending
him. Jacob's guilt or innocence is unknown throughout most of this novel.
Evidence tampering and dark family secrets surface to keep the reader
guessing as to the outcome. With its startling ending, I found
Defending Jacob an excellent book with great character studies and
by Richard North Patterson
North Patterson is one of my favorite authors, I eagerly await each new
publication of his. Fall From Grace was no disappointment.
The death of Adam Blaine's prominent author father from a fall from a
cliff brings Adam home to Martha's Vineyard after being estranged from him
for over ten years. Upon his arrival he learns his mother, brother and
uncle have been disinherited. The shock and disbelief in this cause Adam
to begin delving into his family's past to uncover the truth. Did his
father really commit suicide or was he murdered?
many unknown family truths, the shocking truth is revealed. This is a
great edge of the chair read.
Art of Fielding
by Chad Harback
When Henry Skimshander
becomes a standout baseball pitcher at a small mid western college, life
is good. However, one disastrous off course pitch changes the lives of
five people closest to Henry. Although not a huge fan of baseball, this
book was well written, (even the baseball game excerpts) and depicted a
great understanding of coming of age, family, ambition, friendship and
love. A great summer read from a new and upcoming author.Try it, you won't
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Ann Giddings picked these books:
by Steve Lopez
Main Floor Nonfiction B AY24L
Steve Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times discovers a mysterious
violinist on skid row, Nathaniel Ayers. Thirty years earlier, Ayers had
been a classical bassist at Julliard until overcome by a mental breakdown.
This is a wonderful story of a deeply troubled person who is also a
musical genius, and the bond he forms with Lopez, who tries to get him off
the streets, reconnects him with his family and actually takes him to
Disney Concert Hall where he meets a former Julliard classmate. Very
Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India
New Nonfiction B G151L
I am a fan of Gandhi and this book
shows how his mission and philosophy of nonviolent resistance were shaped
during two decades as a lawyer in South Africa. In India he was revered as
a Mahatma, or “Great Soul” and this follows his heroic efforts for social
transformation all the way to his own assassination.
“For men like me,
you have to measure them not by the rare moments of greatness in their
lives, but by the amount of dust they collect on their feet in the course
of life’s journey.” (1947)
Life of Meaning: Reflections on Faith, Doubt, and Repairing the World
by Bob Abernathy and William Bole
Main Floor Nonfiction 204 ABE
doesn’t want to have a meaningful life? And how do we accomplish that? 59
extraordinary contributors search for meaning in their own personal lives,
their experience of God and for some, the struggle to reconcile faith and
doubt. They include Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, and retired South
African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu, who speaks
about his sense of being in God’s presence, which he likened to sitting
near a warm stove on a cold morning.
In this book you will find lives
well lived and a fascinating journey. Very inspiring.
Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
New Nonfiction 153 DUH
This is a great book about the
power of habit and what we can do to change our habits in business, life
and society. The author says that “you have the freedom and
responsibility” to remake your habits. He relates stories of how “the most
addicted alcoholics can become sober, the most dysfunctional companies can
transform themselves, and a high school dropout can become a successful
It’s an impressive book.
Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
by Alexandra Fuller
New Nonfiction B F959FU
This is a memoir of East Africa after the
collapse of British rule there. Alexandra’s mother spent most of her life
living in Africa and was a woman with a zest for life and adventure. If
you are interested in Africa, I would recommend this book. There is a lot
of wonderful writing about Kenya, Zambia and Rhodesia during the 50's and
60’s, and this family had a very interesting life.
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Allison Midgley picked
Sunny Side: Short Stories & Poems For Proper Grownups
by A. A.
Stories for adults by the familiar author of Winnie the Pooh.
This very British book of short stories is filled with wry humor. The
everyday characters do puzzling things: from the young man who writes
himself into being the mate he wants to be for the woman he loves to the
group of friends “on holiday” who make a memorable occasion by lending a
friend money that they know he’ll lose while gambling, Milne’s characters
are both puzzling and puzzled. A good book if you want something you can
read in short spurts.
by Alan Bennett
What do you do when the
queen of England steps into the bookmobile and asks about your reading
choices? When Norman, who works in the castle kitchen, answers the
question, it leads him into an extraordinary relationship with a 20th
century monarch (a fictitious Queen Elizabeth II). What starts off with
discussions of books leads to realizations for both people. The queen
discovers the pleasures of reading and the complexities of “the common
man.” Norman comes to see that the queen is indeed an uncommon reader:
royal, unusual, and wonderfully curious and caring about life and the
lives of her countrymen. This thoughtful and witty novella is an enjoyable
and quick weekend read.
Things To Do Before You Crash and Burn
by James Proimos
Juvenile Main Floor YA P
In this brief and humorous young adult novel,
sixteen year old Hercules Martino’s father (popular as a self-help author
and speaker – not so popular with Hercules) has just passed away. Hercules
is sent to spend the last two weeks of the summer in Baltimore at his
uncle’s house. When he arrives, his uncle gives him a list of twelve tasks
to accomplish. They range from “choose a mission” to “clean out the
garage” to “go on seven job interviews.” Some tasks are daunting, but
Hercules forges ahead (on one of his seven job interviews, he applies at a
coffee shop - under the name Juan Valdez). By the time the tasks are
complete and he’s on his way home, Hercules has learned startling
information about his family and valuable lessons about himself and
by Elizabeth Moon
Here’s a fun read that’s a bit
off my beaten path: a space story with a strong female lead, Kylara Vatta,
daughter of a wealthy interstellar merchant family, expelled military
school cadet, and captain of an aging space cargo vessel. This book
certainly isn’t heavy on the “science” part of sci-fi, and it doesn’t have
shocking plot twists, but the humorous notes and Ky’s adventures kept me
turning the pages. As she pilots her ship through space, facing
interplanetary colonial wars, mercenaries, and her own crew’s bias against
her youth, Ky is almost a caricature of honor, bravery, and integrity who,
the reader knows, will succeed in the end.
Blind Contessa’s New Machine
by Carey Wallace
and odd bit of a first novel, The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is 21st
century magical realism. Its lush and elegant descriptions are the heart
of the simple story line: a young Italian woman of the late 19th century
named Carolina goes blind. She finds that she can conjure sight in her
dreams. Her parents and fiancé will not admit her condition, but her
friend Turri, a scientist and inventor, faces her loss of sight with her.
His understanding, creativity, and a “writing machine” lead to a
passionate affair that changes their lives. Surprisingly but fittingly,
the novel is based on the true story behind the invention of the
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Melody Fanton picked
by Ann Rice
First in her Songs of the Seraphim
Series, Angel Time is an “about-face” from Ms. Rice’s vampire novels. It
is narrated by an unlikely “hero,” Toby O’Dare, a hired assassin. Toby is
confronted by the angel Malchiah as he is on his way to execute another
killing. Malchiah offers him a path to redemption that will take him back
to 13th century England and the role of protector of a persecuted Jewish
Ms. Rice has extensively researched the subject of angels
and her depiction is mesmerizing. The story weaves back and forth in time,
connected by the notion of redemption for even the most sinful among us.
This is a great mystical thriller contained in a very readable 268 pages.
by Jonathan Evison
Reminiscent of the great
American epics of Edna Ferber or Larry McMurtry, West of Here spans 100
years in the lives of a family in the fictional town of Port Bonita on
Washington State’s coastline.
This novel makes a strong case for
the connectedness/consequences of people’s lives and actions over time.
Moving between 1890 and 2006, Evision shows the effects of nature, man,
and place on one another and the environment. Beautifully written.
Singing of the Dead
by Dana Stabanow
This is the first
book I’ve read by the author but the title is actually the 11th
installment in the Kate Shugak Series. If you’re a fan of Sue Grafton,
Kate will remind you of Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone.
PI Kate is hired
as a bodyguard for Alaska State Senatorial candidate Anne Gordaoff. As
staffers and supporters start turning up murdered, Kate’s investigation
leads to an unlikely connection to an 85 year old prostitute and a century
of the Wind
by Carlos Riuz Zafon
recently into English, this book has sold in more than 20 countries. It is
a book about a book. It begins when a young boy is allowed to choose a
rare book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He becomes the caretaker of
it and over time becomes fascinated with the book and its obscure author.
He soon realizes that there are those who are seeking to destroy all
copies and will go to any length to do so. Part thriller, part romance,
part fantasy, this has it all.
As in books by another
favorite author, Craig Johnson, the contemporary western setting in this
story could be considered one of the characters as well as the backdrop.
A disabled (from previous novel Tularosa) Sante Fe policeman, Kevin
Kerney, has found work as a park ranger in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness
Park. Murders of both man and beast happen in the park that lead Kerney’s
investigation to personal and professional conflicts.
This is an
entertaining read that Hillerman (and Johnson) fans will enjoy.
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Try one of these books that Eileen Tecza picked!
by Lisa See
The author, Lisa See, takes the
reader on a journey of a well-to-do Chinese family that is torn apart
because of financial mismanagement and political change in the 1930s. The
day-to-day details of life in Shanghai are fascinating and centers on two
sisters, Pearl and May, whose father must sell them as wives to two
California brothers. The process of leaving China and relocating in Los
Angeles tests the sisters’ strength and family bonds. See spotlights the
struggles of being Chinese-American and also develops her characters as
strong women as they adapt to life in America.
by Lisa See
Continuing the story of Pearl and
May from Shanghai Girls, the daughter, Joy, travels to
China to join the Chinese Revolution and find her birth father. Joy joins
a rural commune as her mother, Pearl, returns to China to search for her.
Again, the day-to-day details of life in the intolerant Chinese Communist
culture are rich and the character development totally envelops the reader
in the story of this family.
by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett, known for her
complex characters and situations, explores ethical issues as she writes
of a pharmaceutical researcher sent to the Amazon to search for a field
team. The researcher, Marina Singh, faces physical hardships in South
America and emotional remembrances of her Indian father who she
periodically visited as a child. She is reunited with a former medical
teacher and lives with the natives of the Amazon jungle who hold the
secret that the pharmaceutical company seeks. This is an adventure story
as well as a psychological drama with mystical shades.
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Lois Bulger picked these books:
by Brian Selznick
I have been waiting for Mr. Selznick to
write another book in the same trailblazing form as his debut novel,
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which won the Caldecott
Award. This he has accomplished by sailing again into unchartered
territory combining his gift as both artist and author. The two main
characters Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. When Ben
discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing
headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests
to find what they are missing. These two independent stories are unique in
that they are set fifty years apart; Ben’s told in words and Rose’s in
pictures. As the separate stories unfold they start to intertwine, until
they blend into a unified revelation. There are over 460 pages of original
artwork, don’t miss this one!
by James Dashner
I like to read trilogies
after the author has completed all of them so that I can read all the
books in order and not have to wait to see what happens! Thus I waited to
recommend the three published books which include The Maze Runner,
The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure.
What would it be like to wake up in an elevator descending down for almost
half an hour? You have no memory of your name, home, parents, or how you
got there. Upon arrival at the bottom the door opens to a large expanse
enclosed by stone walls. You are greeted by kids who have no idea how they
got there either or why. One boy is delivered every 30 days. Thomas and
the Gladers, as they are known, create a self-sufficient society with only
one hope of escaping - solve the puzzle of the Maze. Daily the doors to
the Maze open and daily the “runners” try to solve the mystery and report
back to the others. One basic rule, never get caught in the Maze after
dark when the big stone doors close shut. If you liked The Hunger
Games trilogy you’ll like this series as well
by Stephen King
The master wordsmith has done it
again. What would life be in your tranquil town when everyone wakes up one
morning only to eventually discover an invisible “force field” has
surrounded the town? Birds and airplanes crash into the “dome,” food
supplies dwindle, the air is impure with smoke and odors, parents and
children are separated by the divide, the temperature is rising inside,
energy supplies are dwindling, people are desperate and who is going to
save the day? Some people are depending on the local town council to keep
order but selectman Big Jim Rennie has his own ideas of who should be in
charge and what should be done. This is another page-turner for long
to the top
Brian Hildreth picked these books:
Freedom: The Middle East Uprisings and the Remaking of the Modern World
by Bruce Feiler
New York Times Bestselling Author Bruce
Feiler delivers an up close and personal account of the recent social
uprising in Egypt. This book is an abstract of the many internal and
external forces surrounding the protests in Cairo, which ultimately lead
to total political transformation. Anyone looking for a complete and
thorough analysis of this historic revolution might be disappointed, but
Feiler does an amazing job of conducting one-on-one interviews with key
leaders directly involved in the movement. It is compelling to see how
much people are willing to sacrifice for the basic human right of freedom.
With each interview, Feiler delivers a clear understanding of the desire
for democracy in Middle Eastern nations, and the distance people will
travel to obtain it. This book will definitely encourage readers to seek
additional sources on topic.
Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness and the Men Who Could Be Me
by Bruce Feiler 362.19699 FEI
This second book by Bruce Feiler is
definitely his best piece of work. After being diagnosed with a rare
cancerous leg tumor, Feiler undergoes a year of painful treatment to
eradicate his life-threatening disease. The reason why this book is so
good is because Feiler is able to remove his shield as a best-selling
author, and deliver a raw, personal and emotional story of human triumph.
Feiler discusses the complexities of his disease, and the need to continue
balancing a career, marriage and parenting. Throughout the story, Feiler
describes his deep love for family and friends, especially his wife and
two daughters. His ability to prioritize the “important stuff” in life is
eye-opening, and the message he sends to readers is relevant, “Parenting
is just plain difficult, but parenting with a life-threatening disease is
borderline impossible.” This true story will make any parent appreciate
their blessings, and each day they are given with their child.
Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Human Achievement
by David Brooks 305.513 BRO
This book written by New York Times
Bestselling Author David Brooks gives us the insight and ability to look
beyond our cultures and selves to understand the real reason why we make
certain decisions. Through an abundance of psychological and social
research, Brooks helps readers understand the paths we have chosen, as
well the paths of others. Brooks discusses the lives of two fictional
characters from their birth to their death, and makes us think about where
they have come from, why they have come together, and the challenges they
must face together. Ultimately, his story makes us believe that the life
we create for ourselves is done so subconsciously through the experiences
we have endured. Brooks has a great ability to create a story and
characters that encourage compassion and sympathy. Regardless if you agree
with Brooks’ theory or ideas, it is a read that will stimulate much
interest and further inquiry.
My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey
by Tim Tebow with Nathan
BCS College Football Champion and starting
quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow explains in detail the life
and moments of growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, while pursuing the
dream of becoming the ultimate athlete. Tebow talks about the many choices
he faced growing up within a devout Christian family and being
homeschooled by his loving mother. He makes it clear that although the
life of a super star athlete may seem glamorous, it also comes at a price.
Tebow faced many challenges as a child because of adoring coaches and
jealous teammates. Tebow also discusses the unsettling inequalities of
college sports, and how the establishment takes advantage of players while
making millions on their talents. In summary, Tim Tebow demonstrates that
faith, moral character and focused determination are what enable this
iconic professional athlete. Tebow is a prime example of a rare athlete
seeking mental, spiritual and physical perfection.
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Niki Gordon picked these books.
I’m not sure that
most fantasy lovers would find a fantasy book with a Victorian base
appealing. However, that shouldn’t stop anyone from reading Jo Walton’s
Tooth and Claw. This book has an interesting twist on what would
normally be classified as a Victorian-themed novel. All the characters in
the book are dragons living in a Victorian-like society. The book follows
five siblings and their struggles to cope with life in the wake of their
father’s death. It has a wonderful mix of characters, storylines, and
humor. Although this wasn’t the typical fantasy book, I thought it was a
fun book to read and I really enjoyed it.
Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. Little Sisters of Eluria
by Peter David and Robin Furth
I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower
books and was excited to see the books come back to life with a series of
comics. The Little Sisters of Eluria is a novella Stephen King
wrote that he said came to him in an image while working on the Dark
Tower books. In this adaptation, Roland, the Gunslinger, is on a
quest to find the Man in Black with the hope that he will lead him to The
Dark Tower. However, his journey is temporarily halted when he is nearly
killed by a band of mutants. The Little Sisters of Eluria come to his
rescue…or so it seems. Robin Furth and Peter David have done a fabulous
job of making this adaptation a horror story that will live up to the
expectations of any Stephen King fan. The illustrations themselves are
both wonderful and horrifying at the same time. I found it exciting to see
Roland take form visually on the page and highly recommend any Dark Tower
fans to read the comics.
has been described as an adult version of Harry Potter. There’s a lot of
magic, a school for magic, and the book seems Harry Potter-like in the
beginning, but as the story unfolds, it ends up feeling very different.
This novel isn’t so black and white as to have the heroic figures or epic
battles against good and evil that most fantasy books have. The characters
are quite ordinary, making the same mistakes and mishaps that you or I
would make. It just turns out that they can do fantastic things with
magic. The novel follows Quentin Coldwater, a college student who would
like nothing more than to escape the boredom of everyday life. That wish
comes true when he’s unexpectedly lead down a Brooklyn ally only to find
himself at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. It is here that
Quentin starts a journey beyond his wildest imagination. This was a great
book. It was slow moving at first, but as the story unfolded, it soon
became engaging, imaginative, and exciting.
by Deepak Chopra
Buddha portrays the life of Indian Prince,
Siddhartha, and his epic journey to becoming the enlightened one, the
Buddha. Although Deepak Chopra is known for his non-fiction self-help
books, here he tells us a beautiful and inspiring fictional story. It
begins with a sheltered Prince whose first glimpse of the suffering in the
outside world leads him to abandon his inheritance, wife, and child to
follow a spiritual path. He becomes a wandering monk putting his mind and
body to every spiritual test imaginable. It is only when he accepts his
failure to conquer the mind-body does he transcend to the path of
enlightenment. Chopra does a wonderful job of portraying Siddhartha’s
internal conflict in a way that the reader can relate to. The Buddha is
seen as someone no more special then you or I and that enlightenment is
within everyone’s grasp. This book will inspire readers to include
compassion, peace, and serenity in their own lives. There is also a
helpful Q and A section on Buddhism in the back of the book.
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Jackie Angel Picked these books:
by C.J. Box
Box continues his pattern of
gritty & compelling storytelling with the 4th installment of the Joe
Pickett series, Trophy Hunt. The story begins with the discovery of a
mutilated moose, which quickly leads to mutilated cows, then humans. A
ridiculed task force, corrupt sheriff & paranormal expert later, Pickett
finally gets to the bottom of it all. It’s your classic who-done-it novel
set in the wilds of Wyoming with a hero everybody will love.
by C.J. Box
The 3rd Joe Pickett novel, Winterkill, is written in
the familiar Box style of classic mystery writing. In this story Joe must
solve the crime of illegal elk hunting & the murder of the National
Forrest District Supervisor who is found pinned to a tree with arrows. Box
also weaves in the drama of the biological mother of Joe’s foster daughter
coming back to town to claim her. Not an easy task for most but Pickett
pulls it off with an understated cowboy style you can’t help but love.
This is Barr’s 14th
thriller to feature National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon. She is a
refreshing hero who uses her perception & instinct to solve the mystery
instead of brute force. The setting is Michigan’s Isle Royale National
Park. Anna is there with a group of researchers to study moose & wolves.
However when the study is interrupted by murder, it takes on a whole new
meaning. If you enjoy the background of nature your sure to enjoy this one
as it is full of beautiful descriptive details of nature at its wildest.
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Allison Midgley picked these books:
Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime
STACKS 025.82 HAR
In 1995, Gilbert Bland, Jr. was
caught stealing maps from the Peabody Library in Baltimore – cutting them
out of books with a razor blade. When journalist Miles Harvey read about
the incident, it sparked his curiosity about the person who would commit
what turned out to be a methodical, serial crime spree involving at least
3 countries, 5 aliases, 200 maps and the FBI. I really enjoyed this
entertaining and informative look at the history and culture of rare
books, libraries, maps.
by Abraham Verghese
How do brothers,
conjoined and separated, orphaned and adopted at birth, become enemies –
and then overcome betrayal to heal their relationship? With a focus on the
world of medicine, from India and Ethiopia to New York and Boston, this
first novel is rich in detail and description of places, people, and
events. Some of the events are strange and surreal; some are strange and
all too real. Thomas Stone, the boys’ father, looks grief-stricken out of
his room as he mourns the death of the boys’ mother: “The oaks and maples
outside the window of his room are wild men with their heads on fire.”
This wonderful book, with its complex layers of symbolism and metaphor,
tackles some very difficult topics, and it succeeds because it never
floats off into the abstract but always stays concrete and down to earth.
It also shows both the worst and the best of what people can be.
The Emperor Was Divine
by Julie Otsuka
Americans were moved to internment camps during World War II, their lives
were disrupted and were never the same again. Each chapter of this
beautifully written short novel is told from a different family member’s
point of view. Mother, sisters, brother, father tell different parts of
the story, and their characters come alive. I felt the isolation,
disorientation, and ultimately the resignation of these ordinary people
who were so affected by circumstances beyond their control.
library doesn’t own this book, but it’s well worth placing a hold for a
copy from another library or checking out Otsuka’s new book The Buddha in
of the Day
by Mary Doria Russell
Mary Doria Russell
writes informative and entertaining historical novels. In this 2008 book,
Agnes Shanklin, an aging teacher from Ohio, takes the trip of a lifetime
to Egypt in 1921. Her adventure goes beyond the usual when she finds
herself in the midst of the Cairo Peace Conference. She meets Winston
Churchill, T.E. Lawrence, and Gertrude Bell as they discuss the
post-colonial divisions that created the Middle Eastern countries that we
know today. She also becomes romantically involved with a courtly German
gentleman, only to find out he’s not as innocent as he seems. Intrigue,
historical detail, a good writing style, and a strong female character
make this an engaging weekend read.
by David Levithan
In this short
book, a man narrates the story of his love relationship alphabetically.
Each page has a word that’s defined or that defines the interaction
between the man and his girlfriend. Most of the words are quite ordinary;
the book made me think about the significance of context and how
thoroughly we personalize words. I wasn’t always sure exactly what was
going on in the plot because it goes back and forth in time, but I liked
the creativity of the book’s structure. Some of the passages were comical,
and some of the language and phrases were elegant, poignant and beautiful.
This is a great read for people interested in writing.
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Ursula Gray picked these books:
by Tana French
Dublin is the setting for this
novel that begins in 1985. Nineteen year old Frank Machney and his
girlfriend Rose make plans to run away to London, get married, find jobs
and escape the poverty they now live in. On the night they were to leave,
Rose never shows up. Heartbroken and assuming he's gotten a brush off,
Frank never returns home.
Twenty-four years later, Rose's suitcase
is found in an abandoned house and Frank must return home again. He finds
himself in all the unhappy relationships he left behind and begins
searching for the truth about what really happened to Rose.
a well written book with well developed plots and characters. A great
by John Grisham
“For every innocent man sent
to prison, there is a guilty one going free." This is the case of Dante
Drumm who is set to be executed within the next four days for murdering
and raping a high school cheerleader.
The real murderer, suffering
from an inoperable brain tumor, decided to come forward and set the record
straight. Because he himself is a convicted felon, he has a hard time
convincing the authorities he is actually the guilty party. Will he
This is a good book that really describes how the legal
system actually works and how oftentimes it can fail. If you enjoy legal
thrillers as I do, you should really enjoy this latest from John Grisham.
by Laura Hillenbrand
This is the true story of Louis
Zamperini (born in Olean, NY) who became a track star at the University of
Southern California. His coach claimed the only runner who could beat him
was Seabiscuit. After training for the 1940 Olympics, he was on his way to
Tokyo only to find the games had been canceled. He did go to Japan,
however, as an Air Force Lieutenant. After his plane went down in the
Pacific Ocean, he was captured by the Japanese while floating on a raft
and was savagely abused for many years as a prisoner of war.
Unbroken describes Mr. Zamperini's life in the prison
camp and how he survived by his inexhaustible courage and fortitude.
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Ann Giddings picked these books:
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who
becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town
during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When
Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house,
where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine finds solace in her music.
Wonderfully attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human
condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South,
McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the
rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated -- and, through Mick Kelly,
gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.
The Art of Racing In the Rain
by Garth Stein
Ever wondered what your dog is thinking? Enzo is a lab terrier mix who
rides shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on
the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoë, and
risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing
circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of
opposable thumbs, watches Denny's old racing videos, coins koanlike
aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when
his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. Enzo is a
reliable companion and a likable narrator.
It is a meditation on
humility and hope in the face of despair.
by Barbara Kingsolver
Harrison William Shepherd is the product
of a divorced American father and a Mexican mother. After getting kicked
out of his American military academy, Harrison spends his formative years
in Mexico in the 1930s in the household of Diego Rivera; his wife, Frida
Kahlo; and their houseguest, Leon Trotsky, who is hiding from Soviet
assassins. After Trotsky is assassinated, Harrison returns to the U.S.,
settling down in Asheville, N.C., where he becomes an author of historical
potboilers and is later investigated as a possible subversive. Narrated in
the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings it reaches its
emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before
the House Un-American Activities Committee (on the panel is a young Dick
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
fabulous romp through an imagination by turns ecstatic, cunning,
despairing and resilient, this novel is an impressive achievement "a story
that will make you believe in God," as one character says. Pi Patel spends
a beguiling boyhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper.
Growing up beside the wild beasts, Pi gathers an encyclopedic knowledge of
the animal world. His curious mind also makes the leap from his native
Hinduism to Christianity and Islam, all three of which he practices with
joyous abandon. In his 16th year, Pi sets sail with his family and some of
their menagerie to start a new life in Canada. Halfway to Midway Island,
the ship sinks into the Pacific, leaving Pi stranded on a life raft with a
hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named
Richard Parker. After the beast dispatches the others, Pi is left to
survive for 227 days with his large feline companion on the 26-foot-long
raft, using all his knowledge, wits and faith to keep himself alive. The
sharp observations of the young narrator keep the tale brisk and engaging.
Martel's potentially unbelievable plot line soon demolishes the reader's
defenses, cleverly set up by events of young Pi's life that almost
naturally lead to his biggest ordeal.
The Cloister Walk
by Kathleen Norris
In the tradition of Thomas Merton, Kathleen
Norris gives us an intimate look at how religious life fills a gap in the
soul. Her poetic sensibilities internalize the monastery as a symbol of
spirituality, with its sanctity and humor, questioning and uncertainty,
rhythm and vigor. Beyond moral precepts and Bible stories, Cloister Walk
is a very personal account of religion lived fully. It depicts a depth and
beauty of spirituality in monastic life that has survived the vicissitudes
of Roman Catholic politics and pomp.
What emerges, finally, is an
affecting portrait, one of the most vibrant since Merton's of the
misunderstood, often invisible world of monastics, as seen by a restless,
to the top
Jen Stickles picked these books:
from the Woods
by Brigitte Aubert
Elise is left blind, mute and
quadriplegic after a bomb explosion that leaves her husband dead. This
dark mystery (which also has moments of humor) is told from Elise’s point
of view, meaning we don’t know what the characters look like, only what
they smell and sound like. Elise must use what senses she has and her
intelligence to solve the horrific murders of local boys. This book is not
currently in our library but we own the sequel Death from the Snow.
by Sarah Waters
This admittedly steamy novel by first time author
Sarah Waters tells the story of two women, Nan and Kitty, in Victorian
England. Kitty is a cross-dressing singer and Nan is her dresser and
secret lover. Sarah Waters description is fantastic and she shines a
different light on the traditional historical fiction novel.
Tipping the Velvet is filled with passion, betrayal, scandal,
violence, redemption and love. It’s not for everyone, but I recommend you
by Darcey Steinke
This short novel is about three individuals; a new
mother who feels ignored by her husband, a gay Episcopal priest dealing
with the death of his boyfriend and a monk who left the monastery after
fifteen years because he felt abandoned by God. Steinke has a very fluid
of way of writing and her words stay with you after you read the final
page and put the book back on the shelf.
by Haven Kimmel
Haven Kimmel takes you on a confusing but
fantastically written ride in her novel Iodine. Trace
Pennington is running away from a memory and in order to help her escape
she creates a new persona, Ianthe Covington an intelligent college student
who is in love with her professor. The problem is Trace/Ianthe is an
unreliable narrator so you don’t know what, if anything, she tells us is
true. Kimmel pulls you down with Trace into the depths of her breakdown
and leaves you questioning everything right along with her. This novel is
disturbing and complex but well worth the effort.
by Wesley Stace
Set in England in the early 1800’s, this is the story
of Rose, a baby who is discovered in the trash. Lord Loveall decides to
raise her as his own heir and dress her in the finest frocks. As Rose
becomes a young woman she is confused by the mustache she is growing and
her interest in the fairer sex. The secret that Lord Loveall has been
keeping from his daughter is that she is in fact his son. Now Rose must
choose between continuing her life as a woman, becoming the man she was
born or something in between.
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Lois Bulger picked these books:
by Neil Gaiman
Although this novel opens
with the murder of a family, it quickly moves into the friendly
storytelling of the sole survivor of the attack, an 18 month-old baby. He
toddles into a nearby graveyard and is quickly adopted by a host of the
graveyard’s ghostly residents. Silas, one of the guardians, ensures that
“Bod” receives food, books, and anything else he might need from the human
world. He grows from baby to teen in a series of adventures both in and
out of the graveyard with the continual threat of the man Jack, who killed
his family. Be sure to read this engaging novel by the New York Times
bestselling author of Coraline.
City of Ember
by Jeanne DuPrau
There is no moon or
stars in the city of Ember because the only light during the “day” comes
from flood lamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city.
Beyond the city are the pitch black Unknown Regions which no one has ever
explored because the understanding of fire and electricity has been lost.
For 250 years the inhabitants have lived pleasantly with their vast
storerooms filled with everything. But now the lights flicker and go out
more and more and the shelves are getting empty more and more. What will
happen when the generator fails? Can Doon and Lina find a way out? Read
the book and get hooked!
by Catherine Fisher
fantasy by award-winning Welsh poet and author quickly grabs readers with
a convincingly imagined Greco-Egyptian setting and characters. The heroine
Mirany begins the story as a timid teen serving the High Priestess, the
masked Speaker who discerns the wishes of a god through a mysterious
island oracle. Human sacrifice, tomb robbers, an offended Rain Goddess,
and no shortage of mystic burial rites and dusty tombs keep you on the
edge and hungry for the sequel (which the library has!).
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Melody Fanton picked these books:
This is a book
about a love affair between a woman, a man, and the land. The author
abandoned her career as a journalist in New York City to start a
cooperative farm in upstate New York when she fell in love with a farmer
she had interviewed.
humor and candidness, the author writes of their resolve to “live outside
the river of consumption” on a 500 acre farm on Lake Champlain that they
first rented and then bought. They eventually produced a cooperative on
the CSA model, in which members pay a yearly fee and are provided with all
the fresh, organic vegetables and meat they need. Most in the community
expected them to fail.
Chronicled season by season, Kimball writes of their struggles, triumphs,
and love affair with the earth and the community. You will be able to
relate to some of the characters in the community, and the opening
paragraphs will make your mouth water.
This is a beautifully written book that will make you
laugh, marvel, and ponder how we grow and distribute our food.
only 172 pages, White Spirit is a satire of colonialism’s absurdities and
consequences written by an award winning French author and beautifully
translated by Betsy Wing.
Victor, a poor and naïve young Frenchman lands a job onboard The Will of
God (irony intended), a dilapidated vessel sailing for Africa. On board
with him is Lola, a mulatto prostitute, and Alexis, a monkey who doesn’t
know he’s not human. Their destination is a vast African banana plantation
where Victor works at running a store.
When Victor finds that a mysterious white powder is
capable of bleaching black skin white, it sets off a series of events with
Constant has written a spare but powerful little novel that encompasses
concerns still among us today…environmental havoc, adulterated religion,
racism, survival and longing.
Travers is asked to appraise a family estate, she isn’t surprised to find
it contains many Native American artifacts. The family are, afterall,
descendants of an Indian agent who worked on the North Dakota Ojibwe
reservation. However, she is surprised to find a rare ceremonial drum, and
when she hears it beat without anyone touching it, she takes it and begins
a quest for its origins.
Erdrich weaves the story back and forth in time and place, telling the
multigenerational stories of the lives touched by the artifact. The drum
has a mysterious reviving quality and is instrumental (pun intended) in
redeeming the lives of the characters.
The critics felt this novel was not her best work,
but I found its story of redemption elegantly written and extremely
Promise: How one Woman Made Good on Her Extraordinary Pact to Send a
Classroom of First-Graders to College
by Oral Lee Brown
B B814B [FOYER]
Haunted by an encounter with a little girl begging
for food in her East Oakland neighborhood, Ms. Brown sets out to find the
girl. She begins her search at the local elementary school and encounters
a classroom of 23 first graders. Although the little girl was not among
them, the author was so compelled by the experience that she made a
promise to those 23 students. Oral Lee Brown promised that if they
finished high school, she would pay for their college education.
On a $45,000 salary, Brown pledged to save $10,000
every year, a pledge that strained her marriage and required her to work
12 years later
she made good on her promise and sent 19 of the 23 students to college.
Many of the students were from unstable and disadvantaged families. This
is a truly inspirational story of caring, selflessness, and empowerment.
(The author established the Oral Lee Brown Foundation
which sends 20 teenagers from East Oakland to college every four years.)
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Brian Hildreth picked these books:
Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession With Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our
Communities and Our Health
written by Annie Leonard
This 2010 piece of non-fiction is
an interesting read about the habits and decisions of developed countries.
Annie Leonard goes into detail about the many types of goods and materials
people in developed countries overly consume and the devastating impact
this consumption has on third world nations. It is a well-researched and
well-written piece of literature that may enable all people to think twice
about how their daily behaviors impact the global society. Leonard also
uses this book as a platform to shed light on the environmental impact of
Every Nation Know: John F. Kennedy in His Own Words
written by Robert Dallek
This brief account of the 35th
president attempts to explain the often controversial decisions made by
Kennedy and his administration. Referencing several memorable and
well-known speeches, Dallek helps readers understand how often our nation
seems to survive on chaos, but yet continues to flourish despite
international differences. Regardless of political affiliation, all
Americans can learn from this writing despite having been written from a
partisan perspective. Some readers may not agree with Dallek’s opinions,
but the book definitely provides a worthy behind the scenes look at one of
our nation’s most popular presidents.
Perfection Point: Sport Science Predicts the Fastest Man, the Highest
Jump, and the Limits of Athletics
written by John Brenkus
A New York Times Bestseller, John Brenkus discusses
the tipping point of human physiological perfection, and the challenges
athletes face. This is a great read for anyone who seeks to understand why
athletes perform and excel at certain levels. Whether you are an armchair
quarterback or a marathon runner, this book goes into detail as to why
your favorite athlete continues to break records, while future athletes
will eventually hit the ceiling. Brenkus presents a great overall picture
of the sports world and infuses decades of research and statistics to
paint it. You will be amazed at the lengths athletes will go to improve
their personal bests.
Where There Is Life There Is Faith
written by Leo Tolstoy
A quaint piece of work by Tolstoy examines the faith
of Christian followers and the spiritual beliefs of one of history’s most
well-known authors. Tolstoy delivers a story of personal and spiritual
awakening that takes a lifelong journey to acquire. He references his own
life and the hardships of addiction and deceit to provide some
understanding of what it means to believe in something greater than
yourself. This book is very short in content and does not deliver a full
examination of Tolstoy’s philosophical findings, but does provide a great
overview for those wanting to learn a little bit more about Tolstoy.
Food: Fresh Flavor Fast: 250 Easy, Delicious Recipes For Any Time of Day
from the publishers of Martha Stewart Living
If you can’t cook, then
this book is your best friend. It is an easy, step by step guide to
cooking great tasting meals for your family. The recipes incorporate
healthy, living ingredients that you can feel comfortable eating. Most
meals in this book can be prepared and completed in 30 minutes or less.
Some recipes may seem a bit funky or too far off for children, but you may
be surprised. One of the finest entries includes the ingredients: rice,
avocado, soy sauce, lemon juice and cooked shrimp. If it sounds
complicated, it’s not. Any person who can cook scrambled eggs or make
pancakes can definitely make these tasty and affordable meals for family
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Liz Buchholz picked these books:
by Andrew Gross
Ty Hauck is shattered by the news. A close friend
from his past, along with her
Husband and daughter, has been brutally
murdered in her home by vicious intruders, but there is something not
quite right about the circumstances. The husband was a chief equities
trader at a top investment bank and he had lost millions for his company
in the financial meltdown.
A mega-trader at another financial
institution commits “suicide” after causing the failure of his firm. Is it
coincidence or is there some sort of global financial terrorism involved.
Ty Hauck and Naomi Blum, an agent with the U.S. Department of
Treasury, work together to unravel a scheme that spans the globe and could
shake the security of our country and the world.
This thriller has
great twists and will keep you wanting to read just one more chapter.
by James Patterson & Richard Dilallo
Warning!: This is not a book about Alex Cross. It is a book “written” by
Alex Cross, in which he passes along the story of his great-uncle Abraham
and his struggles for survival in the era of the Ku Klux Klan.
Corbett, a lawyer fighting against racism in Washington, D.C. is called
upon by President Theodore Roosevelt to return to his hometown of Eudora,
Mississippi and investigate rumors of lynchings. He can’t say no to the
president, even though it could cost him his marriage.
When Ben arrives
in Eudora, he finds that he is unwelcome by his father and soon many of
his former friends become enemies.
Some of the language is offensive,
but you just can’t put it down.
by Robert Dugoni
Who would have thought that the
world of toy manufacturing could be so cut-throat.
David Sloane is
about to win a medical malpractice suit against a respected pediatrician
for the death of a child when he is approached by an unkempt young man who
says that he is the one responsible for killing the little boy and it all
has to do with the toy that he invented.
Kendall Toys has been going
downhill for the last few years, but now has the plans for “Metamorphis” a
toy that every child is going to want and could reverse their fortunes.
Are they willing to commit murder to keep their plans out of the hands of
other manufacturers who want to buy them out or is someone much higher up
trying to get rid of anyone who has knowledge of this new toy.
finds himself, and those close to him, in the sights of a hired assassin.
Great courtroom drama with lots of twists and turns.
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Niki Gordon picked these books:
by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
Watchmen was first put out in 12
issues for DC Comics in 1986-7. It follows a group of superheroes (or
villains to some) called the Crimebusters and the plot to kill and
discredit them. As more former Crimebusters start turning up dead, the
remaining members wind up coming together to solve the puzzle of whose
behind it. In the meantime, the God-like Dr. Manhattan must contend with
his responsibility to the human race.
The current graphic novel is
an oversized version with lots of extras including a revamped presentation
by illustrator Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins, a glimpse into the
early visuals of the characters, and Alan Moore’s own tale of how it all
began. Moore is one the best in the graphic story medium and he doesn’t
disappoint. Watchmen truly is the best graphic novel I’ve read because
it’s just that-a novel. The story and characterization is sophisticated,
complex, and engaging. You don’t have to be a comic book geek to
appreciate this book. One of the best parts of the book is the “Tale of
the Black Freighter,” a pirate comic that acts as a story within the story
that ties into the main plot of the novel. I’ve read Watchmen a couple of
times now and it’s definitely one of those books I’ll continue to read
over and over again!
by Jack Kerouac
I first read On the Road in
college and immediately fell in love with it. First published in 1957,
it’s a cross-country bohemian tale of restlessness and desire for freedom
that any young person could appreciate. Kerouac sat down at his typewriter
and wrote this adventurous epic on one continuous scroll in 3 weeks. The
book is narrated by Kerouac’s alter-ego, Sal Paradise. To him, it’s not so
much why we live, but how we live. Sal gets much of his inspiration from
Dean Moriarty, a character based on his real life friend Neal Cassidy.
Dean is an eccentric, fast talking womanizing con man who adds a lot of
depth to the book. We follow Sal as he hit’s the road by hopping trains,
hitchhiking, and even riding in stolen cars in an attempt to fulfill his
desire to live free of ambitions, materialism, and ideology.
the best aspects of the book is that it is part autobiographical. Kerouac
bases the characters on people he’s met while traveling and on real life
friends and lovers. As Sal travels across America we get to see sleepy
towns, jungle-like cities, an bug infested tropics through their eyes.
Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny
by Simon R. Green
urban fantasy is the 10th in a series that takes place in an alternative
city in London. The Nightside is no ordinary city. It’s a dark, seedy
place full of the oddest most dangerous characters you could imagine and
it’s always 3 a.m.. In it we follow P.I. John Taylor through this urban
nightmare as he escorts an Elven Lord with the help of a transvestite
superhero. As Taylor predicts, it’s not long before “everything hit’s the
fan” and he ends up taking on even more dangerous jobs that take him on an
action packed roller-coaster ride.
This book is an easy read; it’s
short, to the point, and full of never ending action. It’s packed with
every kind of bizarre fantasy character imaginable from werewolves to
flying carpet riders. Simon Green proves he’s a great story teller with a
wild imagination. Fortunately, it’s not pivotal that newcomers read the
previous titles. This is a book you can jump right into and enjoy.
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Jackie Angel-Stebbins picked these books:
Minutes in Heaven
by Don Piper
LP 231.7 PIP
the true story of Don Piper’s experience of dying, going to Heaven then
returning to life on Earth. This is a griping story of spiritual,
emotional & physical suffering and the victory Piper finds over it. I
highly recommend this for anyone who needs encouragement, a boost in their
faith or is just curious about life after death.
by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
The 1st of 13
books in this amazing & popular series, this extremely entertaining &
Biblically accurate storyline tells about the end times when the
Antichrist takes human form & Jesus returns for His 1000 year reign.
Left Behind encompasses the very beginning of this time
when non-Christians are the only ones left on Earth. Once you start
reading you won’t want to put it down!
by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
Book 1 of 4 in
The Jesus Chronicles series. Authors LaHaye & Jenkins rewrite the Gospel
of Matthew in novel form. This story does not lack in drama & emotion as
it tells the tale of young Levi who grows into a bitter skeptic then finds
himself a changed man (with a changed name) when he meets Jesus. This is
an excellent read. Not only is it entertaining but also informative &
by Bernard Cornwell
The 1st in a series
of historical fiction. The storyline follows the life of Uhtred from a
young boy into manhood telling along the way about the brutal Norseman &
their attempt to conquer England. There is definitely more history than
drama in this novel. Although the characters are well developed it gives
the feel of a good documentary presenting both sides evenly.
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Ursula Gray picked these books
by Anita Shreve
In a prestigious New England boarding school,
the headmaster finds himself with a scandalous videotape of several
students including a fourteen year old girl, which changes the lives of
all those involved forever. This novel documents the lives of those
involved and builds up to a shocking ending. It is well written and
although the subject matter may be disturbing to some, it is a very
riveting story until the end. Anita Shreve has again shown her literary
talents and is one of my favorite authors.
by Carl Hiaasen
When Chaz Perrone's wife discovers
his unethical and illegal doctoring of water supplies in the Everglades,
she is pushed overboard from a cruise ship in the dead of night by her
husband. Instead of perishing, she is rescued by a former cop and decides
to haunt and taunt her husband until he ruins himself. The fun now begins.
This hilarious story is light and just a fun book to read.
Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
by Nujood Ali
This is the true story of Nujood, who at age ten, became the first
child bride in Yemen to win a divorce. At this early age she was taken
from her family and given in marriage to a man three times her age. After
much suffering, she escaped and began her courageous battle to be free
again. This is a heartbreaking story which has a happy ending and has
given other young girls in Yemen a chance to be children again.
by John Grisham
Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle but never made it
because of his drinking, drug abuse and women. In 1982 a cocktail waitress
near his home was savagely murdered, and on the flimsiest evidence, Ron
and his friend were charged, tried and sent to prison. In 1992, both were
exonerated by new DNA evidence. This true story details the work that went
into proving these men were truly innocent and shows how our legal system
can be flawed. John Grisham again at his best.
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Giddings picked these books:
Little Bee is a 16-year old refugee from Nigeria who is always looking for
a suicidal option for “when the men come”. There is nowhere to hide in her
country. Poverty, abuse and death are common where she comes from.
compelling story, she changes the lives of a group of English citizens: a
4-year old boy who thinks he’s Batman, his widowed, 9-fingered mother,
Sarah, and his anguished father. With building suspense, we discover the
horrible thing that happened on the beach in Nigeria. This beautifully
written and heartbreaking book shows the abyss between first and third
world countries, the plight of refugees and insight into UK detention
From Islam to America: a Personal Journey Through the Clash of
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
In this memoir, Ayaan Hirsi Ali relates her journey
from the Islamic tribal culture, beliefs and traditions. After an awful
childhood lived according to a strict interpretation of Muslim laws, she
escaped to Europe rather than marry a man she’d never met. She speaks out
against genital mutilation, honor killings and the current treatment of
impoverished, abused Muslim women.
I admired this woman’s personal
story of survival and self-transformation. Her writing makes me realize
just how lucky I am to be an American woman.
Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew—Three Women Search for
Club arose out of the rubble of 9-11, as three young mothers living in New
York City agreed to meet together to discuss their different faiths and
how they might learn to live together in peace. Over the next two years,
the women came to appreciate and accept each other as individuals who
share a common humanity and a common quest for peace.
I highly recommend this book.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with their conclusions, you’ll be
enriched by their journey of faith.
of Angels: A Journey to Faith and Love
by Stephanie Saldana
In 2004 Stephanie Saldana went to
Damascus to study Islam on a Fulbright Scholarship, focusing specifically
on the Muslim prophet Jesus of the Koran, intending to foster a greater
American understanding of Islam in the post-9/11 world. As a student of
divinity she was eager to learn how Christians practiced their faith in a
Muslim country. She found Christianity and Islam have many common themes.
She spends time in a Christian
monastery and also spends many weeks with a female sheika, a religious
scholar and an authority on Islamic law that had founded a prestigious
women’s madrassas-religious school in Damascus more than 20 years ago.
very fond of this memoir…a lot of insights into Islam and a beautifully
written story of self discovery and personal transformation.
This is a novel which reads like a memoir. The
narrator, John Ames, is 76, a preacher who has lived almost all his life
in Gilead, Iowa. He is writing a letter to his almost seven-year-old son,
the blessing of his second marriage. The reason for the letter is Ames's
failing health. He wants to leave an account of himself for this son who
will never really know him.
As an old man in Gilead, Iowa in 1956, Ames writes of
his grandfather, a controversial figure in the Kansas abolitionist
movement, and of his own father's lifelong pacifism.
These are the things that Ames
tells his son about: his ancestors, the nature of love and friendship, and
the part that faith and prayer have played in his life. The writing is a
meditation on how even the simplest life can be touched by grace and
In short, a beautiful book by an outstanding writer.
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Eileen Tecza, Auditorium Director, picked these books:
The Double Comfort Safari Club
Alexander McCall Smith
The eleventh book in The
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels continues with the charming
story of Precious Ramotswe, her detective agency, friends and family, her
intuition and intelligence, and her observations on human behavior. Her
detective cases evolve at their own pace, letting the reader savor each
clue and forcing us to slow our own pace of life – even if for only a
Set in Botswana, Smith gives us a taste of life in rural southern Africa.
I suggest starting from McCall’s first book in the series, The No.
1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and building the relationships with
the characters as they build their relationships with each other.
Note: The HBO series, The
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, is a delightful adaptation of
several of the books in the series.
The title character, CeeCee, is a twelve year old
girl whisked from a nightmare childhood into a southern world of strong
women, southern hospitality and rules, and segregation / integration in
the early 1960’s. This charming and engrossing novel runs the gamut of
emotions for the reader as Hoffman tells, in her first novel, the story of
a young girl who has been granted a second chance under the guidance and
affection of strong role models as she approaches adolescence.
Prodigal Summer weaves three sets of
characters together in a story set in southern Appalachia. A wildlife
biologist, a city girl turned farmer’s wife, and elderly feuding neighbors
begin their stories individually and find their connections to one another
as the season progresses.
A plus in this complex novel is the characters’
interaction in the life cycles of the coyote and chestnut tree.
Kingsolver always tells an intriguing and engrossing story - this is one
of my favorites.
The Zookeeper’s Wife
This is a non-fiction account of
Antonina and Jan Zabinski, zookeepers of the Warsaw Zoo, when the Nazi
forces invaded Poland and devastated Warsaw. Trading their care-giving
skills of animals for saving the lives of people, they smuggled and
nurtured over three hundred Jews to safety, hiding them in the zoo and
their home. While Jan actively participated in the Polish Resistance,
Antonina kept her household, including their young son, as a place of
Zookeeper’s Wife is also a historical account with details of the
Warsaw Ghetto and the Nazi mentality.
Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
This charming tale explores the
relationship of Jane, a lonely nine year old girl, and her imaginary
friend, Michael. Her mother, a busy Broadway producer, neglects Jane but
each Sunday takes her for ice cream and then to Tiffany’s to admire the
jewelry. In the imaginary friend world, a friend must leave his assigned
child when she reaches her ninth birthday and Michael must leave Jane.
her thirties, Jane is leading a lonely and unhappy life although she has
had great success producing a play, “Thank Heaven”, recounting her
childhood with Michael. Michael, on leave from his last assigned child,
and Jane meet and reconnect, realizing how much each meant to the other.
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Lois Bulger, the Children's Librarian, picked these books:
Suzanne Collins has written a trilogy of books which
include Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay (release date August
24, 2010). These books are written for the young adult audience but don’t
let that ever stop you from reading these page-turners. You can’t put
these dystopian novels down! Each year one boy and one girl between the
ages of 12 and 18 are sent from each of the twelve districts of the nation
of Panem, once known as North America, to fight to the death in the annual
Hunger Games shown live on TV. One can’t help but get caught up in the
suspense of Katniss and her fight for survival. It is guaranteed that on
August 24th I will be buying multiple copies of Mockingjay, the conclusion
of this excellent trilogy, for our library shelves in the Youth section.
Cell or Duma Key or Lisey’s Story
by Stephen King
I swore I would never read a
Stephen King novel, I don’t like horror movies, horror books, or things
that go bump in the night. So it was with trepidation that I read my 1st
Stephen King novel and in bed before falling asleep, no less. What a
pleasant surprise to find that Mr. King is a “wordsmith” extraordinaire
who loves playing with your mind and teasing your patience. Read the book
jackets and try reading at least one Stephen King novel in your life you
will be delightfully surprised.
Power of Now: a Guide to Spiritual Enlightment
by Eckhart Tolle
I usually read non-fiction books
with metaphysical and spiritual content so this book is especially
appealing to me on my life’s journey. You don’t read any of Tolle’s books
cover to cover and say “that was nice”. You read a sentence or a
paragraph, then you cogitate on it, digest it, and apply it to your self
and live it. The goal of this book is to take you on a spiritual journey
to find your true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal
growth and spirituality. Only for those who want to know “what’s it all
I got hooked on Barbara Kingsolver books when I read
the Poisonwood Bible. Missionary Nathan Price, his wife and four daughters
go to the Belgian Congo in 1959 totally unprepared for their new life. In
addition to poisonous snakes, dangerous animals and the hostility of the
villagers, there are also rebels in the jungle and the threat of war. What
more do you need for great summer reading? Because I enjoyed her writing
so much I went back to her 1st novel The Bean Trees (1988) and read
everything she had written. I look forward to reading Lacuna her latest.
Invention of Hugo Cabret: a Novel in Words and Pictures
by Brian Selznick
This fiction work is in the Youth
Section of the library and well worth your effort to visit the shelves of
your youth. Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a
busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and
anonymity. His secret and undercover life are put in jeopardy when he
connects with a girl and a bitter old man who run a toy booth in the
station. This book begs to be read by you and another person of your
choice, taking turns reading and viewing the illustrations which are
interspersed with the text. The illustrations actually serve as the
unwritten text as the story flows along, so you really have to examine
every page. I have never seen or read a book with a text/illustration
concept such as this (this is not a graphic novel) and upon conclusion
felt this book was bound for an award. In fact it did indeed win the
Caldecott Medal in 2008. Have some fun this summer, lighten up and read
this book alone or with a friend!
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Allison Midgley picked these books:
Sad True Love Story
by Gary Shteyngart
Publisher’s Weekly calls this a “profane and dizzying
satire, a dystopic vision of the future.” This novel is more than a love
story between aging and anachronistic Lenny Abramov - who still reads
BOOKS - and beautiful, 24-year old Korean American Eunice Park - who
epitomizes a computerized, consumer, data-driven world; it is a darkly
hilarious comedy and a commentary on where we are going as a society - one
in which reading a posted government sign means you both consent to the
rules and deny the sign’s existence.
While the language and some details make this a book
that isn’t for everyone, it is a fascinating and disturbing look at
America’s political, economic, corporate and cultural future, and it shows
the power of an individual’s creativity and human love.
Mapping of Love and Death
by Jacqueline Winspear
In this latest mystery in the series featuring Maisie
Dobbs, a post-World War I British private investigator, an older American
couple hires Maisie to find the woman with whom their son - a veteran who
died in the war - exchanged letters. I was entertained by the mystery, the
settings, and Maisie’s character. This novel is as engaging as the first
in the series, still my favorite, and left me looking forward to
Winspear’s next novel.
was recommended to me several years ago by someone who doesn’t like
reading fiction very much – an exceptional recommendation! Its quiet tone
reinforces the narrator’s early morning musings which he writes by the
light of his fireplace so that he doesn’t wake up his wife. Nicholson
Baker clearly knows the brittle cold of winter and the refuge of a warm
house; the plot and meaning of this short novel emerge through the
author’s poetic descriptions and memorable language.
by P.G. Wodehouse
Any time I’m looking for an entertaining distraction,
I pick up one of P.G. Wodehouse’s warm, funny classic novels. Set in
1920’s Britain, they sparkle with upper class luxury, ludicrous hi-jinks,
and literary witticisms. Many of the novels star the easily befuddled
Bertie Wooster and his sardonic butler Jeeves. Bertie gets a hare-brained
idea and Jeeves gets him out of the ensuing scrape time after time. There
was a British comedy television program starring Hugh Laurie (of “House”)
as Bertie and Stephen Fry as Jeeves several years ago, and the books quite
live up to every episode.
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|Liz Buchholz picked
by Sara Gruen
Jacob Jankowski hates every minute of his life in a nursing home, but, oh,
what memories he has.
At 21, due to a terrible set of circumstances, Jacob finds himself
penniless and hopping the Great Benzini Brothers Circus train instead of
sitting for his final exams in veterinary medicine at Cornell University.
He doesn’t know if he will survive his first night on the train, let alone
life with the circus.
We learn what life was like in a traveling big top show during the Great
Depression. Gruen uses real circus jargon to make us feel more a part of
the story as we get to know Camel, Uncle Al, August, Marlena and, of
course, Rosie. She also includes photos from Barnum & Bailey and other
circuses of the time, which I found fascinating.
I probably never would have picked this book, but it was highly
recommended so I gave it a try and was hooked after a couple pages. Now it
is one of my all-time favorites.
by Gordon Campbell
Doug McKenzie has just graduated from law school and gone to work for
famed trial lawyer, Daniel Morgan in this suspenseful legal drama.
When the son of a wealthy rancher is murdered in his home, Morgan and
McKenzie are hired by the victim’s father to defend his daughter-in-law,
Rita Eddington. The only witness, or possible other suspect, is Rita’s
mentally disturbed 12-year-old daughter, who is in a catatonic state.
Many family secrets will need to come out.
The courtroom scenes alone make it worth the read.
by Lisa Gardner
Jason Jones arrives home from work early one morning to find his four-year
old daughter asleep in her bed and his wife missing. When the police are
brought in, Detective D. D. Warren finds Jason uncooperative and secretive
and things seem “too normal” in the Jones household. However, Aidan
Brewster, a convicted sex offender, is a neighbor who seems to be on edge.
Both men become prime suspects and part of the media feeding frenzy that
follows. There is a bit of profanity, but overall I found it enjoyable.
Murder of King Tut: the Plot to Kill the Child King
by James Patterson and Martin Dugard
Since I have always been fascinated by ancient Egypt, this book caught my
attention. After reading a few pages, I was hooked and found it to move
The story shifts back and forth between Howard Carter’s many setbacks in
his mission to uncover the pharaoh’s hidden tomb, and the boy king’s life
in 1347 BC. Both were of great interest, but all of the palace intrigue
that transpired during many of the pharaohs’ reigns kept me turning the
Although I know that Patterson and Dugard did vast amounts of research
before writing this book, I still feel that much of it is conjecture – but
you will be entertained.
Ashes: a Memoir
by Frank McCourt
STACKS B M137M
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at
all.” This is how Frank McCourt’s memoir of growing up in the slums of
Limerick, Ireland begins. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed her
children since his father rarely works, and when he does he drinks up any
wages. However, through all this and the terrible living conditions,
McCourt tells his tale with love and humor.
After finishing this, I couldn’t wait to read ‘Tis, which continues
I give this one a high recommendation.
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picked these books:
Cold the River
by Michael Koryta
This is a perfect read for a dark, chilly October night. Part thriller,
part horror story and reminiscent of Stephen King and Peter Straub, Koryta
spins a tale of power-lust that reaches from beyond the grave.
The main character, Eric Shaw, has lost his career as a Hollywood
cinematographer and has eked out a living by making “video life portraits”
of recently deceased persons. Commissioned to document the early years of
a wealthy, terminally ill Chicago businessman, Shaw’s research uncovers
generations of greed and a resident evil. Visions and hallucinations haunt
Shaw that seem to be associated with the town’s peculiar mineral waters.
by Mary Roach
Non-Fiction 571.0919 ROA
This book is chock full of spaceflight answers to questions you didn’t
even know you had! Highly researched, but told with a clear sense of
humor, this stranger-than-fiction account will have you chuckling with
interest and amusement.
“Just how smelly does a spacecraft get after a two week mission?” “What
happens to you when you can’t walk for a year?” Did you know there’s a
shuttle training toilet?
Hilarious, educational, and entertaining.
by Michelle Hoover
The author has based this story of the intertwined lives of two early 20th
century farm women on her own great-grandmother’s 15 page journal.
Enidina Current and Mary Marrow live on neighboring Iowa farms. Although
having little in common, the women depend on one another for survival and
companionship. The depiction of the lives and times of these women clearly
portrays the hardships, sacrifices, and resilience of the human spirit. A
great reminder of where we came from and of what gets us through tough
by Ann Fortier
American Julie Jacobs travels to Siena, Italy in search of her heritage
(and possible inheritance). It turns out she is descended from 14th
century Guilietta Tomei, whose love of Romeo transcends their feuding
families and inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
In her quest for the truth, Julie must use relics of the past and ancient
texts to guide her. The plot uses history, mystery, and romance to create
a fast-paced, modern thriller. A real page-turner.
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picked these books:
SERIOUS READING (best if read
with a cup of coffee)
Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story
by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Probably one of the best stories ever told through the
words of a man that changed the history of our nation and the world.
Stride toward Freedom is the first hand account of the Montgomery bus
boycott, which brought the Civil Rights Movement to the center of national
spotlight. Dr. Martin Luther King explains in specific detail the
relationships that were formed and the century-long alliances that were
broken to change the way African-Americans were treated in the Deep South.
If anyone wants to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, they should seek
this resource. There is a reason we as a nation recognize the sacrifices
of Dr. Martin Luther King. This book helps us to understand the man he was
and the people he helped us to become. It should be required reading for
all Americans. (4.4.1968)
Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben.
This April release about global warming is an absolute
read for anyone that cares about our natural resources, and how they are
used. Although the beginning of the book focuses on our absolute
carelessness with Mother Nature since the Industrial Revolution, McKibben
offers up some very sound advice that will help amend our wrong doings.
Regardless if you believe global warming is real, this book will give
practical tips for all people to live a simpler and “greener” life. If you
don’t have a vegetable garden, you should start one. If you do have a
vegetable garden, make it bigger. Oh yeah, no fertilizers or chemicals.
Everyone should use good old compost from your family’s leftovers. It’s a
of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda
by Gretchen Peters
Released in April 2010, this book tells the story of
investigative journalist Gretchen Peters and her efforts to fully
understand the situation in Afghanistan. As noted, this is a serious read.
Don’t expect to get a warm fuzzy feeling after hearing shocking statistics
and incomprehensible acts of crime. It is amazing to see the direct link
Peters is able to create between Afghanistan, terrorism and the rise in
drug use across Europe and the United States. Terrorism has not only
contributed to the loss of thousands of American soldiers and innocent
civilians, it is a relentless force that claims the lives of millions of
people through drug trafficking and drug consumption. This book is well
researched and very informative; just make certain to wash it down with
something more uplifting.
NOT SO SERIOUS READINGS
Fool by Richard Russo
Published back in the 1995, this was one of Russo’s
first books to receive national attention. Nobody’s Fool is a hysterical
story about the many unique characters in an upstate New York town. Like
Russo’s other books, he has a strong ability to relate to the common man
and the struggles faced by those who have little or nothing. Although
there are low points throughout the story, it is just part of the reality
that Russo is able to vividly display. Sully, who is the main character,
could be that Uncle that shows up at Christmas every 5 years looking for
handouts. Although portrayed as a man with little ambitions, Sully is very
interesting and keeps the story moving. If you like character development
this is a book to checkout.
by Kurt Vonnegut
It’s not Bradbury, but it definitely feels like science
fiction. This interesting tale told by one of the best authors of the 20th
century is probably one of my favorite reads in terms of non-highly
acclaimed work. Galapagos received less than good reviews when it first
came out in 1985. It was probably because the storyline and characters
weren’t all that interesting. When I first read the book, I agreed.
However, after listening to a radio interview with Vonnegut back in
college, I realized Vonnegut made no serious attempt at writing this book.
His only concern was writing a story that he wanted to tell. Vonnegut was
an optimist despite what people might think. Galapagos was Vonnegut’s way
of telling us to be careful. The majority always has to deal with the
decisions of the elite minority. If you want to read Vonnegut’s really
good stuff, checkout Slaughterhouse-Five or the short stories of Bagombo
Snuff Box. (4.11.2007)
by Clive Cussler
This 1975 release is Clive Cussler’s second Dirk Pitt
novel. For anyone that hasn’t read Clive Cussler, this is the one you want
to “start with”. I say “start with” because once you read it you will be
hooked on the rest. This book is for those who want action and adventure.
Dirk Pitt is James Bond and Indiana Jones rolled into one. There is plenty
of car chases and shooting involved, so please don’t check it out if you
want something that is relaxing. I am recommending this to any male that
is a reluctant reader and wants to find something to spark enthusiasm for
reading. I was not a big action adventure reader until I started with
Clive Cussler. I would recommend any title by Clive Cussler. Keep the
lights on when you read and prepare to keep guessing.
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|Louann Pawlak picked
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Based on a true story, the author follows the survival
of an ancient Jewish book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, through time. You must
concentrate as she uses a narrative technique of ‘back and forth’ from the
present to other important crisis-points of the past as the manuscript.
You will learn about history, the Jewish culture and the clashes that
ensued…with an ending worthy of the story. I did find that I wanted more
about ‘the book’ and less about Hanna Heath, the rare-book expert…but the
story-telling is spellbinding.
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
The setting is the small town of Burgdorf Germany
before/during/after WWII. The protagonist is Trudi Montag, the local
‘dwarf’ who becomes the town library. The book chronicles everyday German
life during the horrible Nazi times…very thought-provoking as odd
characters struggle through their fate. This is not a ‘light’ read but
well worth your intellectual challenge trying to understand ordinary
people in extraordinary times.
New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
Read this historical novel for the sheer enjoyment of a
multi-layered portrait of the growth of New York City thru the eyes of
vivid, interesting characters. The author puts our hodgepodge of
school-learned historical facts and events into an understandable
continuum covering a 350 year time span. The wonderful flow of the book
actually immerses the reader into history….excellent! PS I actually found
a factual inaccuracy regarding the flow of the Niagara River…fun to know
that it slipped by the editors.
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls
This is the story of the author’s maternal
grandmother…her always interesting challenges and sometimes unbelievable
life experiences and how she and her family coped with ‘life’. Starting in
1901, Lily faces life in the American Southwest, pre-WWI so we learn about
that area of our country, that period of time and how one individual could
be the personification of ‘one tough cookie’. Only flaw I found in the
book is an absence of emotional responses to some very difficult
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
This is a work of historical fiction based on a true
occurrence, the plague of 1666. The residents of a small isolated town in
England choose to quarantine themselves in hopes of stopping the spread of
this killer. Told through the eyes of Anna Frith, the author makes you see
and feel the humanity and inhumanity of people facing life and death. Plan
on a few all-nighters ….hard to put this one down!
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or Mango? By Lucy Ellmann
I enjoyed Man or Mango? because of how well Lucy Ellmann created a
group of characters who disgusted and yet fascinated me at the same time.
She compares human needs to insects’ routines, thus casting a nihilistic
shadow over humanity itself. At the same time her characters made me laugh
and despite their many faults I wanted to know how they all ended up
of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielweski
With his debut novel, Danielweski manages to weave aspects of fiction,
non-fiction, manuscript and poetry into a wonderfully original novel. I
love this book because as the plot becomes more complicated so does the
text itself thus drawing the reader into the world of the characters even
more. I was captivated by this from beginning to end not only because of
the characters and situations but because of the very aesthetics of the
A New History by Laurence Rees
STACKS 940.53 REE
The atrocities committed at Auschwitz have been exposed and documented in
many books before Rees’ and I’ve read many of them, however this book
really does present the reader with a ‘new history’ of Auschwitz. It shows
the camp's beginnings and explains how it became the death camp it is
infamous for being. By interviewing over 100 people, prisoners and
soldiers alike, Rees gives a painfully clear account of how 1.1 million
people came to be murdered and why people should always remember the how
and why of these atrocities.
Friend of the Earth by T.C. Boyle
T. C. Boyle tells a chilling story of a possible near future where humans
have almost completely destroyed the earth they live on. The main
character, Tyrone O'Shaughnessy Tierwater, tells of how he started as a
member of “Earth Forever!” an environment activist group and ended up
taking care of some of the last remaining animals on earth. Boyle tells a
compelling story of how idealism and conviction can still lead to
Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking by Aoibheann Sweeney
“My purpose is to tell of bodies changed into different bodies,” a line
that Miranda’s Father translates from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” describes
this novel very well. The narrator, Miranda, tells not only of how bodies
change but how people themselves change as she herself grows up. I liked
this book because nothing was clear about anyone until the end and even
then the reader is still left to fill in some blanks yet the descriptions
and prose were clear and well written.
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Library Clerk, picked these books.
Thundermug by Cornelius Medvei
This whimsical novella tells the story of Mr. Thundermug; a baboon who is
capable of speech. Medvei’s description is stunning and you will quickly
find yourself immersed fully in his world. I thoroughly enjoyed reading
about the consequences of Mr. Thundermug’s new ability. The question the
book asks its reader is whether Mr. Thundermug is human because he can
speak and therefore must be held to humanity’s standards or is he still
just a baboon?
Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee
by Sarah Silverman
FOYER B SI39
This slightly unorganized raunchy memoir by comedian Sarah Silverman is
not for everyone (if you’ve seen her show or stand up you’ll know why).
Silverman has the same sense of humor as an eleven year old boy (poop,
pee, anatomy etc) but with perhaps a few more four letter words thrown in.
In “The Bedwetter” she discusses how she first learned that offensive can
be funny (her father), her not so funny time on SNL, her bouts with
depression as a teen and of course her bedwetting habits. If you have a
few hours to kill and could use a good laugh then by all means curl up
with Silverman and prepare to be offended.
Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Dystopian novels are perhaps my favorite genre of fiction (not sure what
that says about me or my faith in humanity). In Atwood’s version of
dystopia man is faced with his own extinction by the infertility of women.
In order to save civilization the government instead destroys humanity by
forcing those few women who are still fertile into the beds of married men
with one goal in mind, an heir. Offred, our protagonist, is such a woman.
This bleak tale is dark and disturbing at times but there are glimpses of
by Vladimir Nabokov
There are so many words that can be used to describe this work; poetic,
tragic, dark, beautiful, degrading, pornographic, genius, disturbing,
classic etc. Humbert’s love for Lolita is an obsessive, destructive love,
but love nonetheless. I wouldn’t call this a love story though, granted it
is tragic enough to be one. I’m not sure how I would classify “Lolita”
except as poetry, for surely every sentence Nabokov put on the page is a
poem in itself.
Life as a Fake by Peter Carey
Sarah Wode-Douglas has been searching for an undiscovered genius poet,
unfortunately the one she finds doesn’t exist…..or does he? Carey’s novel
takes place in Kuala Lumpar and features a wealthy playboy poet, an editor
of a British poetry journal, Christopher Chubb a possibly insane man
hiding from his past and Bob McCorkle a man who exists in the mind of
Chubb. The thing that draws me back to Carey’s work again and again is his
way of describing each scene in vivid detail through sight, sound and
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Library Clerk, picked these books.
If You Need Me: A Memoir by Kate Braestrup
MAIN FLOOR B B73B
Kate Braestrup lost her husband eleven years ago and decided to take on
his life goal and become a Unitarian-Universalist Minister. This memoir
discusses her time as the chaplain for the Maine Game Warden where she
counseled families of missing persons.
Afghan by Frederick Forsyth
American and British intelligence are aware of a terrorist attack about to
be unleashed by al-Qaeda, unfortunately they don’t know when or where the
strike will take place. To find out the important details they go
Lucia by Adriana Trigiani
Lucia Sartori lives in 1950’s Manhattan and is caught between being a
career woman and following her Italian American tradition of becoming a
wife and mother.
Rules by Jodi Picoult
Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who is obsessed with
forensic analysis. He often shows up at crime scenes because of the police
scanner he keeps in his bedroom. Life changes when a horrible crime
happens and the police start to suspect Jacob.
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Midgley, Technology Coordinator, picked these books.
by Toni Jordan
Grace Vanderburg counts things. She sticks to her routines so that she
feels safe. She’s devoted to the genius Nichola Tesla. She is a witty and
intelligent 35-year old teacher, home on leave after a breakdown due to
obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the main character in this debut novel
by Australian Toni Jordan. With clear language and likeable characters,
the author uses vividness, poignancy and humor to show how much
determination, honesty and courage it takes to really change - which is
true for everyone, and especially true for people battling mental
Princess Bride by William Goldman
If you’ve seen the movie The Princess Bride, then you know this is a fun
story with action, adventure, romance and witty dialogue. A beautiful
princess, a devoted farm boy, an evil prince; Cliffs of Insanity, a
Fireswamp, the Zoo o f Death; courage, ingenuity, and true love. The book,
subtitled S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and high adventure,
the "good parts" version, abridged by William Goldman, is an even more
intricate and hilarious story within a story within a story. I recommend
the most recent edition, in which Goldman blurs the lines between fiction
and reality by updating his ongoing conflicts with the Morgenstern heirs,
his travels to Florin, and his relationship with Stephen King. The novel
is a brilliant satirical commentary on publishing, writing, and reading –
and a joy to read.
Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
In the last few years several novels have told inspiring “human interest”
stories set during World War II. Rather than focusing on the battles and
fighting, these books tell the stories of those who “kept the home fires
burning.” In this well-written novel, it is 1939. Lavender--La to her
friends--decides to flee London, not only to avoid German bombs but also
to escape the memories of her shattered marriage. She settles in a small
town and organizes an amateur orchestra from the village and the local RAF
base. As time passes, the orchestra reconnects her to other people and
boosts her own morale and the morale of the town. Told as a recounted
story, the novel has the wistful tone of things remembered.
Is Water by David Foster Wallace
When I saw this book on the shelf, I admit, I wanted to judge it by its
cover: small, white and spare, with only a bright orange koi fish in the
bottom right corner. Each page had only one sentence on it. I checked it
out and started to read. I knew the author as a novelist of many words and
complex sentences. Here, each sentence was conversational, powerful, and
direct. The book contains the text of David Foster Wallace’s commencement
speech given at Kenyon College in 2005. He speaks of trying to see the
other person’s point of view and circumstance with compassion. He says,
“It is unimaginably hard… to stay conscious and alive, day in and day
out.” The speech is heartbreaking because, unable to realize this
extremely difficult goal he set for himself, he committed suicide in 2008.
Ultimately, the book is profound and inspiring and human.
Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Buchanan
This novel is one for regional story lovers. Set in Niagara Falls at the
turn of the century and through the story of Bess Heath, a privileged
young woman whose world is turned upside-down when her father loses his
job and his fortunes change, it deals with the conflicts between the
natural and the mechanized world, the world of the practical versus the
world of the heart, and the differences of wealth and poverty. The
messages are a little heavy handed at times, but the details about
domestic life and the nature in the gorge make it worth reading.
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Library Clerk, picked these books.
A Prayer for
Owen Meany by John Irving
As I began reading this book in my English class, I found it very
difficult to become involved in it. However, after the preliminary
chapters it quickly became one of my favorite books. A Prayer for Owen
Meany tells the story of an oddly misshapen boy and his journey through a
very peculiar life. Owen believes that he is the instrument of God and
sees himself as a Christ figure. Through Owen’s grueling passage through a
short, yet full life the reader learns many lessons about the power of
faith, as well as their own powerlessness against it. I guarantee that you
will find Owen’s tiny body and broken voice as irritating, yet
simultaneously endearing as I did. The breadth and development of
characters is vast and vivid. Irving is a master of his craft and
definitely one of my favorite authors. I recommend this book for anyone
looking for a gripping novel that touches the very core of humanity, while
delving into the macabre and supernatural.
Come Undone by Wally Lamb
I read this novel several years ago as a free read and am now revisiting
it for my senior paper. This story has it all. It is vivid and disturbing,
yet uplifting and motivating. She’s Come Undone tells the tale of
Dolores, a girl whose life is measured by television. Her earliest memory
is of two men delivering her family’s first television set, and from that
moment on her life can be plotted along the changing times in TV. Dolores’
childhood is marred by a series of traumatic events that leave her fragile
and incapable of facing the outside world. The novel tracks her fall into
an isolated world of depression as well as her rise from the ashes into a
much better life than she could have ever hoped for. Lamb’s novel is an
inspiring testament to the strength of the human spirit. The reader leaves
the story with a sense of power and potential accomplishment. It is a must
read for all lovers of great literature.
Warning: This book is not for the weak-hearted or queasy stomached! It is
a gut-wrenching tale of the plight of the poor, of abuse, and of the
horrors of the world. Clareece “Precious” Jones is morbidly obese,
illiterate, abused, and pregnant with her second child by her father. Her
situation is more than dire; it’s desperate. Kicked out of school, as well
as her home she seeks refuge in a shelter and at the each-one-teach-one
program. The story is written from Precious’ perspective which is
reflected in her poor writing skills and knowledge of English mechanics.
Though the novel is short, it delivers a sucker-punch straight to the gut.
Push leaves a permanent impression on the reader, and creates the
desire to help improve the situation of the under-privileged.
Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
Fannie Flagg creates a charming, heart-warming tale of friendship and
loyalty unlike any other cushioned in the frame of an unsatisfied
housewife’s life. This book is jam packed with adventure, love, heartbreak
and much, much more. With outlandish and loveable characters like Idgie
and Ninny Threadgoode, a wild ride of plot twists within the separate
stories, not to mention a delicious book of recipes at the end, Flagg has
created an irresistibly delicious novel that is not to be missed.
of One by Bryce Courtenay
The Power of One is a beautiful and moving tale of South Africa
both prior to and during the Second World War. It takes place in a time of
not only racial apartheid between Africans and Whites, but also between
Whites of German descent and Whites of English descent. Racial dissention
is at the very core of this novel. From a very young age the hero Peekay
is raised mostly by his African nanny, but is abruptly shipped off to a
boarding school where he is the only English White. Peekay is brutally
teased by the other boys, but is far smarter than any of them will ever
be. After his tenure at boarding school he is shipped away to live with
his grandfather. On the train he meets his destiny and vows that one day
he will be the welterweight champion of the world. Later in the book he
meets Doc who becomes both his mentor and best friend. Throughout the
course of the novel Peekay discovers that race has nothing to do with the
quality of a person. Quality has everything to do with heart and how you
reach out to others. Although this book is categorized as young adult
fiction it is much more. This novel is for anyone who has ever felt a
sense of destiny, a strong bond between themselves and another living
being, and most importantly the feeling that the world can never be right
until the people living in it are able to live in peace.
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Library Clerk, picked these books.
of Lies by John Hart
A year after his mother's death and father's strange disappearance, 'Work'
Pickens is still reeling, and his law practice shows the effects of this.
When his father's murdered body is discovered, 'Work' becomes a prime
suspect and he must put all his energy and ingenuity into clearing his
name while at the same time steering the authorities away from his sister,
who he thinks is the true murderer.
I highly recommend this debut novel since it is a page turner from page
one and encompasses mystery, family conflicts, romance and many surprising
twists and turns. I also recommend John Hart's later novels, Last Child
and Down River.
Broad by Pat Conroy
The year is 1969 and Leo King's older brother has just committed suicide
at the age of ten. As his family struggles to deal with this devastation,
Leo becomes an isolated child until his Senior Year of High School when he
becomes part of a small tightly knit group of friends who also have their
own demons to deal with. This book follows these six friends from the
1960's into the 1980's. During these years they find success and failures
while still remaining the closest of friends until one incident happens
that threatens to break them apart.
Set in Charlestown, SC, the reader is also exposed to the unsettling
racial conflicts of the South. Pat Conroy's novels have become some of my
favorites because of how he can deal with human issues by using such
feeling and compassion.
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who recently found himself on the wrong end
of a libel case, is hired by the eighty year old head of the Vanger family
to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his sister, Harriet Vanger,
nearly forty years ago. Mikael hires Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four,
'tattooed' computer hacker with a questionable background to assist him
and here is where the fun begins. Together they delve into forty years of
hidden secrets held by this wealthy family and in the process make
discoveries about their own lives.
This book, the first in a three book series, has climbed to the top of my
favorites list because it is so well written, has a great plot and
character development, and is simply an enjoyment to read from the
Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
The massacre at Columbine High School and its horrors will be remembered
for many years by all but especially by those who were actually present at
the time. Maureen Quirk, a school nurse at Columbine, finds herself
cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed when the shooting begins.
This is the story of how the catastrophe changed the lives of Maureen and
her husband Caelum. They moved east to CT in hopes of erasing the past and
finding peace only to discover five generations of secrets held by the
I really enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it because it shows how
skillfully the author deals with the characters and their struggles. It is
a story of how a person's quest for faith and meaning can turn into a long
by Kim Stockett
Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss in 1962 with
a degree in journalism. Wanting to do more with her life than to have a
ring on her finger, she gets a job at a local newspaper writing an advice
column. This leads her to the idea of writing a book about the black maids
and nannies in the community. She secretly begins by interviewing several
black domestics. As her project progresses, she is met by resistance while
uncovering many secrets of the black women during the Civil Right
I found this to be a deeply moving novel about hope and heartbreak. It was
very sad to see how times actually were during this period in our history
and how some of these attitudes toward blacks still exist today.
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Interloan Clerk, picked these books.
Faith by Mitch Albom
One of my favorite books is Have a Little Faith, a True Story by
Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie. The author is asked by
his rabbi, in his hometown in New Jersey, to deliver his eulogy. Over the
next year he visits his old rabbi and collects stories of his spiritual
journey which includes many memories of his own past when his parents
brought him to Sabbath services every week. The author also becomes
involved with a Detroit pastor, a reformed drug dealer and convict, who
preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a hole in its
The stories and wisdom of these two men, Christian and Jewish, African
American and white, impoverished and well to do is fascinating. This
beautifully written book shows two very different men whose faith is
important to them and we see the author start his own journey exploring
some of life’s great mysteries with honesty and self reflection.
by Malcolm Gladwell
I enjoyed this book for its bits of trivia, like why most pro hockey
players are born in January, how many hours of practice it takes to master
a skill and how a centuries-old culture of rice farming helps Asian kids
master math. The author challenges the concept of the “self made man” by
examining the lives of successful people, like Mozart and Bill Gates. He
discovers that advantages and hard work and “just plain luck” help some
people succeed while so many others never reach their potential. A very
thought provoking book.
Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Ron Hall is a wealthy
international art dealer who travels the world selling rare and expensive
works of art. When he reluctantly volunteers at a homeless shelter he
meets Denver. Denver lives a very different life than Ron. He grew up as a
sharecropper in Louisiana and has experienced violence and poverty.
Watching these two men transform their lives as they become friends is
fascinating and inspiring.
Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
I love history and this novel begins shortly after the end of World War II
in London and on the island of Guernsey. Juliet is writing a book and
moves to the island from London to research the people who survived the
Nazi occupation just a few years before. As she writes, she becomes more
and more intrigued with the stories of these country folk who survived
hard times and had extraordinary experiences. The characters are warm
hearted and their survival in desperate circumstances is amazing. The
writing is very “British” and, at times, hysterically funny.
Postmistress by Sarah Blake
This beautifully written book is also about World War II. It follows the
lives of three American women, a postmistress, a doctor’s wife and a
female journalist reporting from London during the war. Once again, the
history behind this novel and how the women’s lives are impacted is
compelling. Frankie Bard, the journalist, is in London during the
bombings, working with Edward R. Murrow during the Blitz. The description
of men and women and babies in bomb shelters is frightening. Frankie
returns to the States and travels to Cape Cod with an undelivered letter
for one of the women.
Once again, I was captivated by the horror of war and marveled at the
courage of the Londoners during the bombings. The author’s depiction of
the radio broadcasts with Edward R. Murrow and Frankie are realistic and
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Principal Clerk, picked these books.
Egyptian by Mark Waltari
When this novel was first published in 1949 it was condemned as obscene,
yet it outsold every other novel published that year and is widely
considered a classic. I am fascinated by all things Egyptian and this book
transports the reader to Egypt of the 14th century B.C.E. It is narrated
by Sinuhe, a man of humble background who becomes the personal physician
to Pharoah Akhnaton.
Hands down, this is my favorite book to date. The reflective first person
account is so beautifully written that the reader is easily transported to
the time and place. The themes woven throughout of power, vengeance, race,
war, death, love and redemption are universal.
to Ashes by Kathy Reichs
Forensic anthropologist Temperance “Tempe” Brennan is called in to examine
the skeletal remains of a young girl discovered in Acadia, Canada. Tempe
comes to suspect this skeleton may actually be that of her girlhood friend
who went missing 30 years ago in the same vicinity. When her romantic
interest and police investigator, Andrew Ryan, probes the unsolved deaths
of three girls and the disappearance of four others, the possibility of a
connection looms large.
This best-selling author has written a series of books based on Temperance
Brennan. They are the basis for the TV series “Bones”. What kept me
turning the pages was the great plot and character development.
Wife by Jonis Agee
This family saga set in Missouri’s “boot heel” weaves itself back and
forth from 1811 to the 1930s. Pinned in her bed by a felled tree in an
earthquake, young Annie is left by her family to drown as the river rises
around her bedroom. French fur trapper and river pirate Jacques Ducharme
comes to her rescue and together they create a life at Jacques Landing.
More than a century later a young bride will come to Jacques Landing and
find her life in parallel to the old diaries she finds of Annie, the first
Underlying themes of love and heartbreak, passion and deceit run
throughout the story as each river wife comes to discover that the truth
from the past haunts the present. Historical detail and tense and
dangerous plots held my interest all the way through.
I loved how the author wove this story back and forth from 1811 to 1930.
This is a novel that strikes the right balance between light and dark,
good and evil. If you’re a fan of historical fiction and a great cast of
characters, this is as good as it gets.
Alchemist’s Daughter by Katherine McMahon
This is the story of a young woman’s educational and social evolution
during the English Age of Reason. Raised by her father in an isolated
English country estate, Emilie Selden is trained in natural philosophy and
alchemy and in 1725 they collaborate in an experiment to bring dead matter
back to life. The experiment is interrupted when Emilie falls in love and
is banished to London. Besides being a great story, this novel depicts the
extremes of English culture and society. I really liked the heroine of the
story and the fact that in the end, she strove to live life on her own
Dish by Craig Johnson
This title is the first in a series of mysteries centering around Walt
Longmire, the veteran sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Set in modern
days, the novel has shades of the Old West in both character and plot.
When Cody, a young resident of the area, is found shot to death near the
Cheyenne Reservation, it appears at first to be an accident. But when
another young man is found dead with connections to Cody and the rape case
of a young Indian girl two years earlier, revenge would appear to be the
motive. The diverse cast of characters include Henry Standing Bear and
deputy Victoria “Vic” Moretti. You will not soon forget the blizzard
If this were to be made into a movie, they would surely cast Tom Selleck
as Sheriff Walt Longmire. I really enjoyed the setting and character
developments and the multilayered plot kept me guessing. The Western
landscape and Native American aspects were well represented. There was a
good dose of humor sprinkled throughout. I’ve read all but one in this
series and have thoroughly enjoyed each one.
by Linda Underhill
508.747 UND [Stacks]
Local author Linda Underhill has written a compact, poetic account of how
the ordinary in nature can reveal the extraordinary. On the first page she
quotes Virginia Woolf: “It is the job of the writer…to receive and to
record these moments of being, to find the pattern of meaning in daily
life.” These “moments of being” of which Ms. Underhill writes arise from
our own Allegany County landscapes. This is beautiful and inspiring prose
linking us to our very own natural world.
The Way of the Woods: Journeys Through American Forests is her
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|Liz Buchholz picked
Falls by Richard Russo
This Pulitzer Prize winning book about a small town in Maine reminded me
of a certain small town in western New York. It centers around a local
restaurant, managed by Miles Roby, which is frequented by a colorful cast
of characters, including Miles’ rather eccentric father, his soon-to-be
ex-wife and her health club-owner boyfriend.
Throughout the book we are given a back-story into the lives of these
people. It is both touching and funny.
by Ann Patchett
This book was recommended by one of our volunteers.
It takes place at the home of the vice president of a South American
country, where a lavish party is being held to honor a powerful Japanese
businessman. His favorite opera singer is brought in to entertain the many
ambassadors and their wives. However, a band of terrorists breaks in and
as their plan goes awry, they take the whole group hostage. From that
point on the story takes completely unexpected twists and turns.
I was pleasantly surprised, since it was a different type of book than I
normally would have chosen.
by Dan Brown
Start this on a day when you have nothing else planned because you won’t
want to put it down. Right from the beginning, when symbologist, Robert
Langdon is brought to Washington D.C. under false pretenses, only to find
out that his mentor, Peter Solomon has been kidnapped, the pace never lets
up. I was fascinated to learn the origins of so many symbols and codes in
our nation’s capitol.
What an unexpected ending!
Tide by Andrew Gross
Police detective Ty Hauck is brought in to investigate the bombing of a
commuter train at Grand Central Station. He discovers that Charles
Friedman, a hedge-fund manager, who was “killed” by the bomb is not the
man he appeared to be and that there is an odd connection to a hit-and-run
accident Hauck is also working on.
A real page-turner.
Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
I am choosing this book because it was my first “Harry Bosch” novel, and I
have read every single one since, because he is such an interesting
character. It’s best to read these in order since each one builds on
something from the past.
In this book, Detective Harry Bosch is being sued for shooting the wrong
man, who was believed to be a serial killer. When a new victim is found,
it looks like the real murderer is still on the loose.
Lots of good courtroom and investigative drama.
Harry Bosch Series
The Black Echo (1992)
The Black Ice (1993)
The Concrete Blonde (1994)
The Last Coyote (1995)
Trunk Music (1997)
Angels Flight (1999)
A Darkness More Than Night (2001) – Read Blood Work* (1998) for the back
City of Bones (2002)
Lost Light (2003)
The Narrows (2004) – Read The Poet* (1996) for the back story
The Closers (2005)
Echo Park (2006)
The Overlook (2007)
The Brass Verdict (2008)
Nine Dragons (2009)
*These are not Harry Bosch novels, but very important to the series.
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