Sam’s Staff picks

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This winter Sam has gotten some serious reading done! But in all the books she’s read it’s the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre that has really caught her interest. Burned written by Karen Marie Moning is the long awaited book two of the Dani O’Mally series, a continuation to the Fever series that were in Mac’s point of view. The writing was fast paced and full of details that you have been dying for since Iced. The only complaint I have is having to wait for the next book!

The Golden Son is also book two of a series, this one a trilogy, was written by Pierce Brown. The book seamlessly brings you back into the saga of Darrow and his struggle to do the right thing for all.The characters are all so vivid that you either love or hate them on the spot. The book reads like you are in an action adventure movie, I even found myself holding my breath during the tense parts! If you are anything like me your left wondering why the clock says hours have passed when it feels like you have only been reading for minutes!

Not normally that into non-fiction, but this winter Sam discovered some great finds! Check out This is what you just put into your mouth? by Patrick Di Justo, The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield, and Working Stiff-Two years, 262 bodies, and the making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek M.D.

Marie’s Staff Picks

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Marie’s Staff Picks
I just finished reading It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario and I am still thinking about this memoir. Addario is a photographer documenting wars and its effects on the surrounding population. Her book explores what it is like to be a woman in a male dominated profession and how she had to learn to balance her career with her personal life. I found this memoir to be inspiring, informative and a great example of determination.
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion is an amusing audiobook that had me laughing, especially at the end. This book can be over-the-top, but if you have read the prequel, The Rosie Project you will have a better understanding and appreciation of the quirky main character to suspend disbelief.
This past month, I have been reading books on the Maine Readers’ Choice Long List. The Maine Readers’ Choice Award is an award given to a work of fiction. Mainers get to vote on the titles that a committee of Maine librarians, booksellers and other readers select. For more information, the website is http://mainereaderschoiceaward.org/ The following books are on this list.
The Sleepwalker’s Guide To Dancing by Mira Jacob is a gentle, humorous and haunting story about an American-Indian family. The characters are well developed and likeable in this original work.
My favorite of the list so far is Lila by Marilynne Robinson. Lila is an outsider who haltingly finds home in the town of Gilead. I loved this book and at the end wanted to meet Lila. The writing is so great that the reader is immersed in Lila’s world and begins to understand her way of thinking and acting.
Redeployment by Phil Klay is a collection of short stories about being on the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The writing is clear and powerful.
Nickolas Butler’s Shotgun Lovesongs has one of the most amusing and memorable scenes that I have read in a long time. Though sometimes the main characters were frustrating, this is a solid down-to-earth read about family and home.

Staff suggests……

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So many books…..so little time. There are SO many books in my ‘to read’ pile but below is a list of great titles that Marie and I have read in the past few months.

Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel
Euphoria by Lily King
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

We wish you all a very HAPPY AND MERRY HOLIDAY SEASON. Happy reading!
~dawn

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!! 

 

 

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