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May 2017 Staff Picks

May Staff Picks
Check out our recommended reads for this month!

If you see something you are interested in, click here to reserve it for pick-up.

Eileen

            
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny:
March’s book group reacquainted me with Chief Inspector Gamache. Louise Penny’s series could be described as mysteries, but that would not do credit to her focus on developing complicated, realistic, sympathetic (or not) characters. This installment is set on Easter weekend in the village of Three Pines, Quebec. Some friends decide to hold a séance, and one ends up dead. Add in some complexities on the job, and Armand Gamache faces a web of motivations, jealousy, and tangled relationships.

North of Boston by Robert Frost: 
I’ve found myself going back to Robert Frost’s poems a lot recently. The quintessential New England poet’s turns of phrase and home truths resonate,
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…”
“Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor…” “Every child should have the memory of at least one long-after-bedtime walk…”

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty:
Watched HBO’s Big Little Lies? The latest from that author, this book follows life-long friends Clementine and Erika and their husbands, who accept a last minute invitation to a Sunday afternoon barbecue in Sydney, Australia from neighbors Tiffany and Vid. Two months later, all anyone can ask is “What if we hadn’t gone?”

Katherine

Jacket Jacket (2) Jacket (1)

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier: 
This is a graphic novel memoir, a companion to Smile (which was hugely popular), but definitely stands alone. Despite a target audience of girls 10-13, this is a quality book that is enjoyable by anyone.

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan:
This is a great fantasy/adventure book, a fast read, and suitable for virtually all ages. It’s just a lot of fun, and there’s a long series that follows it.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith:
A hard-boiled detective story from the author of Harry Potter, (Robert Galbraith is actually J. K. Rowling). Very well written and entertaining, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as Harry Potter, but it’s a very different book.

Sarah

    

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot:
This true story was mind-blowing and should be on your radar, especially because the movie is out on HBO and has been receiving a lot of publicity. Henrietta lived in poverty farming tobacco on her beloved ancestral land and died very young leaving behind 4 little children. Henrietta lived a tumultuous life which ended after a brutal fight with cervical cancer before treatments were fully developed. Doctors took advantage of her terminal condition and harvested and kept her cancer cells without permission, all while she suffered through what were then experimental treatments. Her cancer cells were her key to immortality as doctors grew 50 million metric tons of them for sale and study. Thanks to her cells the polio vaccine was discovered, the effects of the atom bomb were studied, and advances in cancer research, in-vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping were made. This journalistic narrative traces Henrietta’s history, the history of her family, and the legacy of her cells.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders:
*We do not own this book but can obtain it via inter-library loan if you are interested in reading it. It is also available as an eBook and audiobook on NH Overdrive.
The structure of this book completely threw me at first but once I started reading it the way I would a play it evened out. The author successfully melds historical fiction, historical accounts, excerpts from media and other nonfiction sources, with subtle satire and keen insight to create an emotionally moving portrait of the profound grief that comes with child loss. In this case it is President Lincoln’s loss of his son Willy to typhoid. The author uses Buddhist and Christian thought, subtly, to examine the human reckoning with loss, impermanence, the afterlife, and the implications of our choices. The characters that are stuck in Bardo (a Tibetan term to describe a place where souls rest before moving on) in the graveyard are reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s graveyard characters in The Graveyard Book. They come to care for Willie as he deals with his transition while also ruminating on their former lives. This book hits you with gut punches but the gallows humor and satire break up the heaviness. The characters were extremely memorable. Most importantly, the ending delivered that elusive closure we seek when dealing with loss.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova:
I loved this book for the sense of place it imparted, I felt that I could see, smell, and taste everything the Kostova was describing. Elizabeth Kostova is a master of the historical fiction genre and has a new release out, The Shadow Land (which we have and is receiving excellent reviews)! The Historian follows two narrators, one of a woman (who is never named) in search of her the history of her parents, and the other of her Father’s search for his beloved professor. The story weaves together the history of Dracula, supernatural intrigue successfully paired with history, and delectable descriptions of the voyages through Eastern Europe amid the political turmoil that has been commonplace for much of that area throughout history. The tone is moody and atmospheric and the writing is reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The atmosphere was so rich, immersive, and vivid that despite it being lengthy it was compelling enough to keep going. For fans of Dracula, Historical Thrillers, and Gothic Literature.

Ann

    

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer: 
This is book 3 of The Last Survivors series. Miranda and Alex meet when her dad returns to her house. They both experience a lot of life-changing events. Heart-wrenching, riveting, and absorbing.

The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer: 
We do not own this book but can obtain it via inter-library loan if you are interested in reading it. The final book in the Last Survivors series is told from Jon’s point of view. He has become very content in his position but everyone else has not and this causes conflict and changes.

Written in Red by Anne Bishop: 
We do not own this book but can obtain it via inter-library loan if you are interested in reading it. It is also available as an eBook on NH Overdrive.
A unique story about shape shifters that are in charge of a world where humans are food. A fast-paced action filled story. Can’t wait to read the next one.

Elizabeth

    

Snow White by Matt Phelan:
This is a wonderful version of the classic tale of Snow White. If you thought there was no new and original way to retell this story then Matt Phelan will definitely prove you wrong. This image-based retelling takes you back to Depression-era New York and with a new twist that will keep you interested with every page.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien:
The Hobbit is a beautiful classic that you absolutely need to read if you haven’t, (and maybe even re-read if you’ve already had the pleasure). You will accompany the original Hobbit on his long and twisty journey out of the Shire while meeting different people and creatures along the way. An incredible story!

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson:
A well-written short story that will really get you thinking about the traditions we practice and the way we live our lives. This is for anyone interested in a short dystopian story with a twisted surprise ending.

Continue reading “May 2017 Staff Picks”

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Books that your neighbors recommend – Coffee and Convo Meet-up 4/17

Were you unable to make it to the library for the Coffee and Conversation Meet-up last Friday? We are meeting again on Tuesday 4/25 at 10:30 to talk more. 
Curious to know what your neighbors have been reading or watching and recommending? 
Check out a few recommendations below! There are tons more if you click the link below.
Running themes at this book chat were small town romance and life (Susan Mallery), beach reads featuring women’s issues (Elin Hilderbrand), Young Adult Romance (Sarah Dessen, John Green), and classics such as Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan is a new historical fiction book with rave reviews and multiple votes for it being both delightful and heartbreaking. The story is set in a small town during the onset of WWII. It is written from the varying perspectives of the resident’s of the town and is an epistolary (written in letters) book. Lots of drama, small town gossip, emotion, and memorable characters!
For fans of: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith.
Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth is a new Young Adult (YA)* novel that is both thrilling, complex, and features multiple perspectives. It starts out on a violent planet where each person is given a unique ability that will ultimately influence the future. 
For fans of: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Lois Lowry, Paolo Bacigalupi, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Marie Lu.
*(If you haven’t tried YA yet, don’t let the label fool you! YA books deal with the same issues as general adult fiction but typically features protagonists in their teens through twenties who are just as likeable and intriguing as the ones you meet in the adult fiction section. If you want to try some YA but don’t know where to start just ask any of us at the library since we read it often!)
belmont · Book Blogs · book recommendations · book reviews · Library Blogs · Library Books · Library Reads · new hampshire · New Hampshire Books · readers' advisory · staff picks · what to read

April 2017 Staff Picks

April 2017 Staff Picks
Check out our recommended reads for this month! 

If you see something you are interested in, click here to reserve it for pick-up.

Eileen

     

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart: For those who love A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Mysterious Benedict Society offers a similar delicious mix of seriousness, clever wordplay, and idiosyncratic characters. Five children take a special test and form an alliance with the mysterious but kindly Mr. Benedict against a treacherous and powerful villain. 

The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis: We see history as inevitable, but, in the moment, it’s much less clear what will happen. Read this book to appreciate how unique the United States is in world history – and how close it came to not being at all. By the Pulitzer Prize winning Joseph J. Ellis author of Founding Brothers. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: One of my old favorites, Pride and Prejudice is a classic for many reasons. From the flowing language to the relatable characters to the sly humor and understanding, Jane Austen is hard to beat. 

Katherine

If I Could Turn Back TimeHow to Be a Grown-upCastle Hangnail
If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison:  Chick lit with well developed, likable main character. While ultimately unsurprising, this book was sweet, uplifting, and an enjoyable read.The moral of the story: It’s not too late. Quote: “…but did I smile like a Disney princess when I woke in the morning and have a nice big stretch, smiling at the world for the chance to do another day?”

How to Be a Grown-up by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus: Funny, light novel about a middle-aged woman who has to go back to work… for young women half her age. This book was a lot of fun, a quick read, and very relatable despite characters whose lives were very different from mine.
       
Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon: Juvenile fantasy with witches and castles and magic! Funny, charming, and very enjoyable.

Sarah

  
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki: A beautiful and intriguing tale of a woman who finds a lunchbox washed up on the shore on an island off the coast of Canada. Inside of the lunchbox she finds a journal written by Nao, a Japanese teenager, letters from the Nao’s Uncle, who was a Kamikaze pilot in WWII, and writing recounting Nao’s relationship with her Great-Grandmother, a Zen Buddhist nun. The author deftly ties together the threads of all of their lives while reflecting on theories of time, the importance of love, living a fulfilling life, and finding meaning in death, all using themes of Buddhism, Quantum Theory, and Philosophy. The story alternates between the lives of Ruth, the woman on the island, and Nao, the Japanese girl.The story was so utterly compelling, and the characters lovable, that I got hooked and was swept up in their lives! Additionally, the entire story is also a subtle play on the thought-enigma of Schrodinger’s Cat and is filled with tidbits of intriguing science and Zen Koans. The story will stick with you for some time.

This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson: Selected because this is National Library Month! This book delves into the bizarre experiences of Cybrarianship (being a librarian in a virtual environment) and the least explored corners of Librarianship. It reads like a spy’s muckraking account of librarianship, but it is also funny, quirky, and insightful. I listened to this on NH OverDrive as part of my 2017 Reading Challenge, but BPL has a physical copy of the book. This book celebrates National Library Month with a jump into the deep end of the zany world of library culture, cybrarianship, and quirky information specialists with interesting careers! Somewhat shocking, sometimes frivolous, but nevertheless intriguing. 

March, Book One by John Lewis: This book (and series) is sweeping the awards in after its release in 2013. Written by Congressman John Lewis, this book documents his youth and formative experiences as he advocated for civil rights. It is in graphic novel format so it’s a quick read and easy to understand while still capturing the spirit, struggle, and important history of the Civil Rights Movement. Book one tells the personal story of John Lewis’ childhood through young adult years, his meeting of Martin Luther King Jr., and his work towards peace in the face of violence and adversity. Edcuational, courageous and inspiring!

Ann

  

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino:  An upbeat story about Chip and Joanna Gaines that focuses on the ups and downs of their life together as they buy and remodel homes in a poorer section of town to rent to college students. Through all of it they are funny and thankful just as they are on their TV show “Fixer Upper.”

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer: The story of a family trying to survive after an asteroid hits the moon and pushes it closer to Earth. Natural disasters happen all over the world changing life as they knew it. A story of loss, love, and determination. This is the first book in a series of four.

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer:  Book 2 of the “Life As We Knew It” series. The story of Alex and his sisters trying to survive in New York City without adults after the moon collision. Life becomes very difficult for a teenager that had his life planned. Food and safety are now his priority instead of grades and college. Will they survive?

Elizabeth

  

The Road by Cormac McCarthy: 
The Road is an absolutely excellent book on so many levels. It is terrifying, heart-wrenching, and completely beautiful at the same time. Because the book is written as a sort of love letter from the author McCarthy to his son, this book will strike a chord in your heart as you follow a man and his son traveling south in a post-apocalyptic setting. The delicate balance of emotionally harrowing moments and uplifting aspects make this book truly wonderful.
  
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan:  
A beautiful new book in Riordan’s classic Greek series, this new story continues the journey. Each chapter is written in a different person’s point of view and captures the friendships and tribulations which will give you an interesting reading experience as it each character relates to the plot.This adventurous tale is filled with enough wit, action, and heart to make it a favorite for anyone and a push to read the rest of the series as soon as you can get your hands on them!
  
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum: 
A wonderful classic that you’ll be sure to enjoy even as an adult. Since it’s not that similar to the classic 1939 movie, with some cruel and disturbing twists, it’s sure to keep you interested and invested in the story with every turn of the page. This timeless tale is an absolute must read no matter who you are!

belmont · book recommendations · book reviews · library · readers' advisory · staff picks · what to read

March 2017 Staff Picks

March 2017 Staff Picks
Check out our recommended reads for this month! 

If you see something you are interested in, click here to reserve it for pick-up.

Eileen

     

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling: When Barry Fairweather dies, there’s a spot open on the Pagford Council. This news brings some ugly modern problems to light in the quaint English town. Rich and poor, teens and parents, husbands and wives – will anyone be left standing after this election? J.K. Rowling’s first book after Harry Potter. 


Design Mom by Gabrielle Blair: Colorful pictures of beautiful rooms – practical tips for living with kids. Gabrielle Blair of the eponymous blog mixes family and design in an attractive package.

Juliet by Anne Fortier: Publisher’s Weekly calls this “Da Vinci Code for the smart modern woman.” Julie has a key to a safe deposit box in Sienna, Italy, bequeathed by her beloved Aunt. That box holds a six centuries old secret – the true story of Julie’s ancestor Giulietta Tolomei – and her Romeo. The story leads Julie on a hunt for proof of the family secret – and into the arms of Alessandro, who may or may not have her best interests at heart. 

Katherine

The Widow's BroomDragon Slippers (Dragon Slippers, #1)
Crosstalk by Connie Willis: This was one of my favorite books that I read last year.  In fact, Eileen and Sarah liked it too, so you may see it here again at a later date. This is an adult fiction that blends quite a few genres. It’s set in the near-future when a young woman gets a “simple procedure” to increase empathy between herself and her romantic partner.  Of course, things go horribly wrong. While dealing with serious issues, it is written with a sense of humor and is an absolutely engrossing read.

The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg: This is a picture book, albeit with slightly more text than many picture books. A kindly widow finds herself in possession of a magical witch’s broom. The story is inventive and haunting – it reads like an old folktale, and is complemented by soft but detailed black and white illustrations..
       
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George: Juvenile fantasy, which is a genre I’ve never outgrown. It’s magical, fun, light, and full of adventure. The young maiden here does not sit around waiting for rescue!

Sarah

       
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: An emotionally moving and morally ambiguous tale of two itinerant farmhands, one who has the body of a giant and the intelligence of a small child and his self-appointed caretaker. A short read that will keep you on edge the entire time and will leave the cogs turning long after you finish the last page.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: The author, Art Spiegelman, documents the experiences of his father, Vladek Spiegelman, as he is pursued by the Nazis, placed in multiple concentration camps, and rebuilds his life after emancipation from the camps. A gripping, emotional, and raw made approachable by depicting the characters as mice and cats. Art Spiegelman depicts the generational repercussions that came with having a parent who survived the Holocaust. A classic among graphic novels.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: An eloquently wrought window into the life of a young girl, Francie, and her family living in the slums of Brooklyn during the turn of the century. As Francie grows and helps support her family, she strives towards upward mobility and a better place in life. You feel as though you are sitting with the family in their tiny kitchen, drinking their beloved and treasured coffee, during each of their triumphs and sorrows. A strong sense of place, time, and an inspirational and excellent depiction of the hardships of living in a lower socio-economic class.

Ann

   

Blood Dreams by Kay Hooper:  This is a detective novel with a supernatural crime-stopping unit in charge. An FBI unit and an outside organization started by its founder get inside the killer’s mind. Thrilling until the end.

A Bone To Pick by Charlaine Harris: A fast read with unexpected happenings throughout. “Roe” is a likeable character that makes you want to find out what happens next. This is book two in the Aurora Teagarden mystery series by the author who wrote the series that started True Blood off as a hit TV show!

A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton:  A passionate supernatural story with lots of twists and turns. I love the Vampire Hunter novels, but the Meredith Gentry novels take a look at another side of the supernatural. 

Elizabeth

    

  
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein: 
A wonderful collage of poems that can be appreciated by kids and adults alike. In this collection Shel Silverstein crafts a variety of poems with wit and humor that cover many subjects in a subtle and unique way. Overall, a great book to start, or continue, a love of reading and poetry.
  
The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White:  
An adorable and funny book that begins the story of how a little boy becomes a king, with a little help from a wizard. In this story you can join Art, who is fondly called “Wart,” on his six years of odd and wild adventures with Merlin to prepare him for his future as King Arthur.
  
Phineas Gage: a gruesome but true story about brain science by John Fleischman: 
A very interesting read about a man who survived getting a rod through his head. Tells the story of the initial accident, the aftermath of the accident and how it affected Phineas’ life and how it changed and developed our view on how brains function and the science behind them. 

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February Reading Challenge Community Meet-up

Our community-wide book challenge discussion is growing!

This month we had five people gather to discuss books and because all of the members have exceptional skills in crafting there was much discussed aside from books including: pop culture, the musical Into the Woods,  cooking,  Pinterest (specifically the ever-hilarious experience of seeing something gorgeous on Pinterest and then trying to make it and failing horrible a.k.a. Pinterest fails!), and, surprisingly, Bob Ross! Speaking of which, have you seen the recent spate of reruns of his show on Netflix? They are a complete trip back in time! Sarah speaking here, I remember my father painting along successfully while Bob Ross talked with his soothing voice about happy clouds and his pet squirrel, do you have any favorite Bob Ross memories?

The cold weather had us talking about all kinds of books but the top genres were cooking, historical fiction, political science and sociology, classics, and our brand new collection of graphic novels for adults. I will provide links to the ones we own so you can click them, log in to your account in our catalog with your 14 digit library card bar-code and the last 4 digits of your phone number, and place a reserve/hold on them if they entice you! If we don’t own them I will link them to GoodReads where you can read a summary and then, if interested, we can get them for you via inter-library loan, just email us at bpl@belmontnh.org.

Because it is positively FRIGID outside and there is more snow on the agenda let’s look at cooking. I know I love to get the kitchen warm and toasty and whip up treats when it snows. 52 Loaves by William Alexander was discussed a non-fiction account in which the author sets out to find the most perfect loaf of bread which leads him to the very source including growing and harvesting his own ingredients. Alexander takes us on his obsessive journey in the pursuit of what makes the most delicious and wholesome bread with many historical observations, and reflections on the meditative qualities of baking.

With the constant barrage of media these days, who doesn’t want to turn to the solace and companionship of a good book? Most of us enjoy the mini-vacations that fiction provides us but there are quite a few of us who also take to non-fiction to get a clearer understanding of world culture, American culture, politics, and the sociological aspects that have given way to many movements and divides currently happening within the United States. I personally cannot think of a better way to educate myself than reading non-fiction. Books have a calming, introspective, and reflective way to present current hot-button social issues, politics, while keeping us informed. Some of the books that have been popular at the library and were discussed at last week’s meet-up were Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (can’t keep this one on the shelf!), Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (you may know him from The Daily Show, he took over recently for Stephen Colbert), March Issues 1-3 by Congressman John Lewis which is a fascinating historical autobiography in graphic novel format, and The Other Wes Moore by Wesley Moore. Some non-political, but still uplifting and self-improving non-fiction reads were Books for Living by Will Schwalbe which takes a gentle look at why we read while discussing books that found him during different points in his life and what they did for him and who he connects them with. Also discussed was The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson and Feeling Good by David Burns.

If you still feel like you need a vacation let’s look at some of the fiction that was discussed! The conversation tended to focus on fiction that had themes of thrills with:The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsRoom by Emma Donoghue who also has a new release The Wonder, historical fiction including The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (which recently won the National Book Award and is receiving tons of press. We have both audio and print and they are on our new shelf), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, The Valley of the Horses by Jean Auel, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (a heart-warming WWII love story), and last but not least contemporary fiction with romance including September by Rosamunde Pilcher, Faithful by Alice Hoffman (the queen of magical realism).

Because it is a New Year and resolutions sometimes include reading classics we also discussed Peyton Place by Grace Metalious, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and Swiss Family Robinson.

To close we looked to Spring. Many of us are planning gardens and dreaming of fresh fruits and vegetables so we also discussed companion planting (the beneficial garden design of planting fruits, veggies, and herbs next to plants that help support each other).

See you next month!

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February 2017 Staff Picks

February 2017 Staff Picks
Check out our recommended reads for this month! 

If you see something you are interested in, click here to reserve it for pick-up.

Eileen

      

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves: The zero tolerance approach to punctuation by Lynne Truss: Do you have a grammar pet peeve? As a former English major, I sure do. Lynne Truss covers them all with style. There’s a whole chapter on misplaced apostrophe. Far from trivial, proper punctuation makes life better and easier for us all.


El Deafo by CeCe Bell: A 2016 Newbery Honor book, El Deafo is written comic book style, which I don’t often read. But this memoir is so compelling! Cece’s experiences growing up deaf are at the same time foreign and familiar. I love how she turns what could be seen as a disadvantage into a superpower. 

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: I read Beautiful Ruins for a library book discussion last year and found myself hooked by its Old Hollywood setting and New Hollywood insight. The story starts with an extra in one of the most expensive – and ridiculous movies ever – Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra. Pair with the original movie or with last year’s George Clooney hit, Hail Caesar. 

Katherine

Charlotte's WebA Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1)The Mists of Avalon (Avalon, #1)

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White: Classic children’s tale of a spider who rescued a pig. E. B. White was my favorite author as a child, and this was my favorite book.  It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but this heartwarming, moving story for children will always hold a special spot in my memory. 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: Classic children’s fantasy, with witches, space travel, and a parent in need of rescuing. I never read this as a child, but it was still worthwhile to go back and read it as an adult.
       
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley: I read this when I was 19, just after I moved up to this area. I missed lunch and dinner because I read all 876 pages in one day – it was just that fascinating. Marion Zimmer Bradley recreates the King Arthur epic saga from a unique (and magical) perspective.

Sarah

            

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers: This is one of those books that has been hanging out on my “to-read” list for a long time and it just so happens that it met two items on the list of our Reading Challenge (have you heard? What are you waiting for? It’s fun!), so I grabbed it! This book is a classic for a reason. Carson McCullers writes in a way that reaches into your heart and finds every last bit of empathy for even the worst of the worst. McCullers is a master manipulator of emotion, and uses her perceptive writing skills to capture the heart of humanity in the 1940’s rural south and the intersection of the people in the small mill town. The center of this story is born out by several characters but chief among them is the deaf-mute John Singer, who unexpectedly becomes a repository of the local folks’ sorrows, stories, and troubles. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or to anyone who enjoys a good Southern Gothic. 

Presence: bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges by Amy Cuddy: There are probably a million self-help books out there and a handful of really great ones, (this one is one of those). I first saw Amy Cuddy’s TedTalk in 2014/2015 during a job transition and her studies and personal experience on the use of body language to promote self-confidence (specifically during interviewing, public speaking, when you need to do something you are unsure of or are nervous about, or when you need to assert yourself) really fascinated me, so I tried them and…they worked! Amy Cuddy suffered from a head trauma that affected her IQ and knocked her off of her all-star academic track. With a lot of hard work and a tremendous amount of study about body language and behavior, she shares some really simple advice for bolstering your confidence and using it to help you succeed. I continue to use some of her techniques and they are surprisingly effective.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida: This book is unlike any other book I have ever read. It is non-fiction and is essentially a Q & A with a 13 year old Japanese boy, Naoki Higashida, diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Because Naoki is non-verbal he uses an alphabet grid to communicate, his answers have been translated by both David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas) and KA Yoshida. Naoki invites us into his world and describes what it is like living without the ability to communicate verbally and what living with Autism Spectrum Disorder feels like. Naoki takes on questions that the general public wonder about Autism but are too afraid to ask and he answers them patiently and with honesty and an open heart. This is truly one of the most insightful, awe-inspiring, and powerful books I have read in a long time and will help the average person to understand what living with Autism means and feels like. It is a short, simple read and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in opening their mind to a compassionate understanding of people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Ann

   

The Woman in Cabin 10:  Lo is a journalist that is hoping to take the next step on the career ladder by covering the first voyage of a new luxury cruise. But on-board things go terribly wrong – or is it all in her mind? Lots of mystery and suspense and even a bit of a love story!

Tomorrow Land by Mari Mancusi: Teen love is torn apart by the super-flu but reunited by chance 4 years later. Chase and Peyton grow up fast taking care of several children in this zombie-infested story. They end up on the run to the last safe outpost for humans – Walt Disney World.

Seduced By Moonlight by Laurell Hamilton:  A supernatural mystery with a multi-faceted love story. Lots of action that makes you want to keep reading!

Elizabeth

   

  
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: 
A great book with a peculiar point of view of life. Adorable characters that you are sure to love watching grow while they learn how to navigate the waters of high school.
  
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne:  
A classic novel that is always sure to surprise you, even if you read it back in middle school. With its dark and beautifully written symbolism it is an inside look at living with guilt and sin on the inside while everyone judges you on the outside.
  
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls: 
A charming and heartbreaking novel about a boy named Billy and his relationship with his coonhounds, Little Ann and Old Dan. This book is sure to capture your heart and your attention from the first word until the very last line.

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1st Coffee and Conversation meet-up with a ton of recommendations!

We had our first Coffee and Conversation meet-up today! The weather was very cold this morning so only 1 person and 2 staff members participated but we had donuts, coffee, and great conversation. We hope to see more people come out in the future.

Despite the low attendance we discussed a variety of authors, genres, and titles that the three of us are reading or have read and really enjoyed. Among the books discussed were the Embassy Row series by Ally Carter, a thrilling political-romance young adult (YA) series filled with intrigue. We just received the newest in the series!

Another YA novel that was discussed is the new release by Nicola Yoon, The Sun is also a Star, which is about a pair of teens that meet quite unexpectedly and fall in love, but one of them is holding back a devastating secret that will change both of their worlds in an instant. This book has been blogged about by librarians specializing in teen and young adult services and is receiving a lot of press.

Our conversation turned to the mystical with the beloved Harry Potter series, and Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy about witches, vampires, and werewolves in an action-packed time-traveling, historical fiction, romance mash-up (these have shown up on staff picks repeatedly over the years.) What I love about this series is that Deborah Harkness is actually a history professor and was able to impart some historical knowledge that you don’t find in most fantasy books.

Some other recommendations included the current staff pick The Bookshop on the Corner by Nancy Colgan which is piling up with reserves, books by Kate Morton who does wonders with mysteries that have a touch of magic and a tinge of the old Gothic style (think large estates haunted with memories, family secrets, and moody tones), Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and City of Women by David Wilhelm, both are must-read books for those of you who loved Kristen Hannah’s The Nightingale or if you enjoy books that feature high drama amidst World War II!

Also discussed was the 20th century classic, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (watch for this one on a future staff pick – I am plowing right through it and really love it!), and a rave review for all things Barbara Delinsky who writes contemporary romance centering on families and the lives of women.

We hope you will join us for the next meet-up on Friday February 3 at 11:00 am right here at the library!