OCTOBER STAFF PICKS 2014

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So many good books…..

Dawn’s Picks
Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer is a book that made me cry. It is a heart-wrenching debut novel following the lives of two characters and their decisions over a five day period. It alternates between two, very different people, but they have connecting stories about life, love, sacrifice and death. It is an unforgettable story that I think would be great for book group discussions. If you love Kristen Hannah or Jodi Picoult, read this!

Two books that creeped me out a little were One Kick by Chelsea Cain and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. One Kick is the first book that I’ve read by Chelsea Cain but I may go back and read more. She is freaky…. And One Kick is the beginning of another series for her. I thought that The Good Girl may be similar to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn but it was totally different. I was NOT disappointed by this dark mystery and will be reading Mary Kubica’s next book for sure.

Ann Hood has done it again with another satisfying and engaging read. The Italian Wife begins at the turn of the 20th century in Italy with the arranged marriage of a young girl. It then spans 100 years as different family members tell their story. I do love her books!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr has got to be my favorite book of 2014 thus far. What a beautiful, haunting novel. This is set in Europe during World War II but I found it more about the characters than the war. When you find yourself rereading passages because they bring tears to your eyes, you know it’s good. What an amazing writer.
A few other titles that I enjoyed:
The Map Thief by Michael Blanding
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

Marie’s Post

The Bone Orchard is the latest installment in Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch series. This fast-paced crime novel centers on the Maine Game Warden Service and is a quick and entertaining read. I really liked the sense of pace and the characters.

Loosely based on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria by Lily King takes the reader to 1930s New Guinea. I liked this book because the writing totally transported me into a different world.
Rebecca Makkai’s The Hundred-Year House is a history of a house that is told from the present and works its way back. Each era builds the past and adds another layer to the mysteries pervading the book.

If you are looking for real-life scandal and crime with a bit of map history thrown in, then The Map Thief by Michael Blanding is for you! This is a fascinating narrative nonfiction work that tells the story of E. Forbes Smiley III, a rare-map dealer and past summer resident of Sebec, Maine.

Currently, I am enjoying A Hundred Pieces by Lucy Dillon. I am finding this novel to be a strong detail-oriented chronicle of the rebuilding of the main character’s life after a divorce. Flashbacks to the past are relevant and elegantly tied into the present narrative flow by objects that the narrator is weeding through.

Sheila’s Picks
For some modern history, Sheila recommends The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. Although it is published for the teen reader, even older readers will get a glimpse into the pain and struggles that Americans who wanted to serve their country but were challenged due to their race. During World War II on the Navy base Port Chicago, Negro seamen were only allowed to load the explosives. Only white seamen became officers or received any training. There is an accident where a bomb explodes, sinking two ships and killing hundreds. The Navy sends the Port Chicago guys back into the fray. Those who are afraid to load bombs again are placed in a group of 50 and accused of mutiny. Sheinkin explains the various nuances of the trial, how the NAACP became involved and how, to this day, those individuals are still considered criminal, although the Navy conceded that the segregation of the men during that time was discriminatory.

Readers who enjoyed Rachel Simon’s Riding the bus with my sister (2002) will want to read the new young adult title Girls like us by Gail Giles. Biddy and Quincy have just graduated from high school and have become roommates. They each have their struggles because they are “Speddies”, in the special ed class and as they learn to understand each other and Miss Lizzie, the older woman requiring their help a new family is knitted together. Narrated through Biddy & Quincy’s voices, stark truths about stereotypical perceptions are challenged. Giles presents tension, unflinching realism through clear character voices that are sometimes humorous, sometimes painful. The characters will challenge your stereotypes and stay with you long after the slim book is finished.

Sam’s Picks
My nonfiction pick this time is just in time for Halloween! I really enjoyed Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. Caitlin witnessed a terrible accident at the young age of 8 and has suffered with the fear of death ever since. As a young adult she decides to look death in the eyes so to speak and finds work in a crematory. I found the book fascinating and witty, it answers all the questions you had no idea you even wanted to know about the death industry.

Red Rising written by Pierce Brown was the adult version of Divergent meets The Hunger Games. I stayed up late two nights in a row because I just could not get enough of this fast paced story. If you like sci-fi or dystopian reads then this one is for you!

As the niece of Plum series author Janet Evanovich , Stephanie has some big shoes to fill! Her second book titled The sweet spot was an absolute delight. If a nice romantic book is what you are after then you should give this one a try.

Chelsea Cain is one of my favorite authors. When asked for a good thriller she is always my first suggestion. While I was kind of bummed out about her newest arrival not being one of her Gretchen Lowell books, this new one called One Kick almost made me say “Gretchen who?” A high octane read about child abduction had me hooked before I even made it to the first chapter. This is a must read!

M. D. Waters is new to the literary scene and with her first book-Archetype she is making a very big impression. This novel takes place in a time where medical miracles are only for the elite, and there are underground groups that are trying to change it. It mixes romance and suspense in such a way you don’t know who you want to route for. And for those who decide to check this one out it ends in a real cliff hanger…..but breathe easy we have the sequel here already!

Chip’s Picks

Missing Microbes by Martin J Blaser
Zealot by Reza Aslan
On Paper by Nicholas Basbanes

More Staff Picks!!

Sam’s Staff Picks

The Three by Sarah Lotz
The Strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
The storied life of AJ Fikery by Gabrielle Zevin

Delicious! By Ruth Reichl
I am a big foodie, and this book was great for the mental taste buds! Ruth Reichl paints such a picture of the sights and smells of and tastes of New York city. Even better is the stash of letters the main character finds in a secret room between James Beard and a 12 year old girl during the time of WWII. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Dawn’s Picks

Landline by Rowell Rainbow
This is my second Rainbow Rowell novel, the first being Eleanor and Park a young adult novel. Landline was so different as it was her first adult book. At first I wasn’t too sure where the story was going, but in the end I can say that I did enjoy it. It has a bit of a ‘oh come on now’ vibe to it but if you have an open mind and just enjoy the story, it makes you think about the choices you make in life. At first I didn’t like the main character but as she struggles with the working mom/career saga I felt she redeemed herself in the ‘perfect’ end to this story.

Life Drawing by Robin Black
This debut novel is a well written story about how infidelity affects marriage. How does a marriage change over time and how do you live with the choices you make? I loved the writing and look forward to more from this author.

I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy
If you love mysteries with a twist, try this one! Three blond wives and a ‘perfect’ murder. This was a great beach read, another debut novel and another author I’ll read again.

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Wow. Wow. Wow. This title was featured on the Today show as one of the best books for the summer. It is long… 700 pages, but well worth it. It is an absorbing, exciting, heart stopping tale and very scary to think that something like that could happen today. (I’m not saying what….) I really don’t read many ‘spy’, action books so it was a pleasant surprise to enjoy this as much as I did.

Chip adds to the list The Gunslayer by Stephen King.

Sheila’s Picks

Sheila enhanced her 2 day vacation by reading an adult book for a change. “The Tao of Martha: My year of Living, or why I’m never getting all that glitter off of the dog” by Jen Lancaster had her laughing out loud and reading passages to her husband (whether he wanted her to or not). Sheila connected with the author’s passion for projects and the role her husband plays in all the drama. Her personal photos add a special kind of flare. Readers who enjoy humor in the daily mundane will enjoy this read.

“The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender” by Leslye Walton is identified as a young adult novel, but it’s many layers provide more of an adult perspective. Walton’s writing pulls readers into this brutal yet whimsical story of three generations of mothers & daughters who love and endure pain. Although the narrator is Ava, a 16 year old born with wings, who is finding her place in life, readers are pulled into the far reaching past and a compilation of the peculiarities and deep scars that each member of Ava’s intergenerational family endures. Their sorrows and the unconventional ways that they cope with neglect and loneliness are interwoven into the present and future of Ava, who is born with wings, and her brother who has some type of autism disorder. Ava’s ability to break out of the walls that her family has built around their lives provides her both freedom and places her in physical danger.

Staff picks for March 2014!

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Marie’s picks!! 

The Invention Of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is my favorite book of 2014 thus far.  Inspired by a true story, this historical novel follows the lives of a slave and her mistress, who also happens to become an abolitionist and suffragist, through the 1800s.  Bright writing and even pacing make this a great read.

I hesitate to put The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon on this list based on title alone after another bitterly cold and windy spring day in late March.  However, I did enjoy the story in this chilling mystery-horror crossover.  Linking the present to the early 1900s with a diary that chronicles a way to keep the dead alive, this story follows a teenager’s haunting search for her mother in present-day rural Vermont.

Taking place in turn-of-the-century Manhattan, The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker tells the stories of a Jewish golem and an Arabian jinni separately exploring their new home in New York.  Eventually, the stories merge together leading to a suspense-filled ending. I enjoyed following this inventive story that reads like historical fiction with a hint of fantasy.

Robin Oliveira’s I Always Loved You is another work of historical fiction that I enjoyed. Taking place in Belle Epoque Paris, the story follows Mary Cassatt’s life, focusing on her relationship with fellow artist Edgar Degas.  Cassatt’s interactions with the other artists of the time period hum in the background and add to the creative atmosphere of this novel.   

 

Chip’s Picks:

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon Chip describes as the best book he’s read since Harry Potter! 

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

Dawn’s Picks:

How does  tragedy and time affect a person’s memories?  This was the premise in The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene that I loved.  When I got to the half way mark in the book, I stopped and said WOW.  So far it is my best book of 2014! Can’t wait to see what others think of this book. 

Loved, loved, loved the beautifully written novel Benediction by Kent Haruf.  Not much happens in this book but it is about life’s everyday rewards and struggles.  It takes the ordinary and makes it special and memorable.   Another book that I just thought was so beautifully written is Alice McDermott’s Someone.  These two books have been passed to many people!

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh is a well written and suspenseful novel that deals with the mystery of two women, one who was murdered and one who disappeared.  This is McHugh’s first novel and I will be sure to be on the lookout for her next one!

Wiley Cash hooked me with A Land More Kind than Home so I couldn’t wait to pick up his latest This Dark Road to Mercy.  Great story and an emotional ride. He is an author that is now on my ‘must read’ list. 

A few other titles that I’ve read: 

The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls

Orange is the new Black by Piper Kerman (I had to read this after being obsessed with the NETFLIX series!)

Golden State by Michelle Richmond

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna

 

Let us know what you’ve been reading!! 

 

 

January STAFF READS

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I have to admit, I’ve been a little lazy with posting our staff picks on our blog and I truly apologize for that!! Sometimes time just seems to move so quickly… especially over the holidays! Hope everyone had a very happy holiday season. Here are quite a few books that we’ve read… check them out!!! Happy reading! ~ dawn

Marie’s January Staff Picks

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie (Alan Bradley)
This is an older title and is first in a mystery series revolving around an eccentric eleven year old girl named Flavia De Luce. The newest Flavia mystery just came out.

Etiquette & Espionage (Gail Carriger)
This young adult title was enthusiastically recommended by a library patron. I found it to be a fun, fast moving steampunk adventure of manners.

The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)
I listened to the audio edition and enjoyed the Australian accent in this offbeat love story.

Want Not (Jonathan Miles)
In this darkly humorous book, a pleasing jumble of eccentric characters connect in surprising ways.

The Circle (Dave Eggers)
A young woman demonstrates where technology and social networking can take society in this horrifyingly true-to-life fictional account.

The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt)
This beautifully written book is worth the time commitment!

Mercy Snow (Tiffany Baker)
Magical realism creeps into this haunting story set in a mill town in New Hampshire. The ending could have been more complete, but, all in all, the story pulled me along.

Sheila’s Picks

Sheila has two new young adult novels to recommend that adults will want to take a look at. For those who like sci-fi thrillers try MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza, Sixteen year old, MILA finds out that she is actually an android with human cellular function and her Mom is actually one of her creators. Face paced, sci-fi thriller that pulls you into the inner dilemmas that an android with humanity deals with while she grows. For those who enjoy Maine based fiction try Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian. Tom Bouchard, rising senior at Einnston, finds himself doing community service and becoming changed in the process when both the soccer team and the children at the community center become the focal point of a community racial protest. Padian does an amazing job of creating realistic characterizations of high students and the conflicts that arise when Somalian immigrants must learn the “American Way” in a small Maine community.

The one “adult” novel Sheila has read lately was The Rosie Project and her response to that little gem was: “ Loved, loved, loved it! As a huge fan of the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” and all things psychological, this was right up my alley! Enjoyed the perspective, humor and the reality of sorts.”

Dawn’s Picks

The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt)
A long book at 700+ pages but with all the hype about it, I just had to read it. Overall a very good story that I can see being translated for the big screen at some point. Would love to go and see the actually “Goldfinch” painting now!

The Circle (Dave Eggers)
Wow. Loved this book but also scary. This is one of those books that it’s hard to stop thinking of, as it deals with technology and social media. Get off Facebook and put down your smart phone and then read this…..

The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)
I have been passing this book out to everyone and one patron described it as a ‘light delight’. I agree. Just a wonderful, laugh out loud quick read.

Once We Were Brothers (Ronald H Balson)
Didn’t think it was the best written story, but the concept of the story was intriguing. Ben Solomon accuses one of the richest, most philanthropic men in Chicago of being the Nazi, Otto Pietak. It’s called a legal thriller but my favorite part was going back and forth in time to WWII with the main character, Ben.

Here are a few other titles that I enjoyed:
Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell)
Never Look Away (Linwood Barclay)
Too Close to Home (Linwood Barclay)
Between a Mother and her Child (Elizabeth Noble)
Where the Moon Isn’t (Nathan Filer)
Help for the Haunted (John Searls)

Marie’s STAFF PICKS

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Bootstrapper by Mardi Link is a memoir telling of a recently divorced woman’s fight to save her farm and support her three children. I found it funny at times and a satisfying read.

Starting with a “Hello Kitty” lunchbox found on the coast of British Columbiam, A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is a metaphysical exploration that spans continents and time. The lunchbox contains a diary written by a troubled young woman in Japan and propels the novel into many intriguing layers.

Solidly written suspense novel  Anonymous Sources by Mary Louise Kelly is more than meets the eye. A suicide investigation by journalist Alexander James turns out to be more than she thought. Twists abound!

Massacre Pond by Paul Doiron is the fourth in a series that takes place Downeast Maine and is based very loosely on Maine newspaper headlines. The main character, Mike Bowditch, seems to have a bit more common sense than in the previous three books.

I consider A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra to be one of the best books of 2013 that I have read. This heartbreaking and beautiful novel takes place in war torn Chechnya and is about what it means to survive and be alive.

Kingdom Of Strangers by Zoe Ferraris is a well written mystery set in Saudi Arabia.  This series always takes me to a totally different place, especially in regards to the way women are treated. This title is available on the Library’s Kindles.

Sheila’s Picks……

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Sheila’s nonfictions reading choices this month were all memoirs of sorts that expanded her understanding of complexities of human behavior.  All three books have stuck with her for various reasons.

 

In The Spark:  a mother’s story if nurturing genius Kristine Barnett, shares  the amazing and inspiring story of her son Jacob Barnett.  Kristine was a day care provider whose teaching philosophy spurred on the breakthrough for her son Jacob who had been diagnosed with severe autism.   Jacob eventually attended college at age 9 and became a doctoral research assistant at 14. 

 

My Dyslexia by Philip Schultz provides an adult perspective on learning at age 64 that he has dyslexia.  This would be a supportive read for adults who are coming to grips with the same issues.

 

Where the Peacocks sing: a  palace, a prince and the search for home, by Alison Singh Gee is an enjoyable read of her personal trek from being a Chinese American living in city life in Hong Kong to meeting and marrying an Indian prince whose’s family legacy demands a whole new set of skills.

 

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