Favorite Quotes

"For my totem, the alley cat. We share the situation of small predators who easily become prey. I have my equivalent of claws and teeth, and indeed my arched back and loud hiss are my best defenses. When I need to hide my size and weakness, I can look fiercer than I am, but when I cannot talk or threaten or argue my way out of trouble, then I am in a lot of trouble. We are scavengers in the alleys and streets of a society we do not control and scarcely influence. We survive and perish both by taking lovers. Freedom is a daily necessity like water, and we love most loyally and longest those who allow us at least occasionally to vanish and wander the curious night. To them we always return from the eight deaths before the last."


from Braided Lives by Marge Piercy

Reader's Link


Browsing all staff pick reviews written by 'April'

Lifting the burdens

What it is like to go to war (audiobook)

Title: What it is like to go to war (audiobook)
By: Karl Marlantes

A work of courage and intelligence that challenges us to consider issues most of us would rather avoid. Karl Marlantes has thought deeply about the psychological impacts and lifelong burdens of killing in war, based on his experiences in Viet Nam and subsequent self-examination. He bravely exposes his own feelings ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography
0 Comments

Restavek

Claire of the sea light

Title: Claire of the sea light
By: Edwidge Danticat

I love the way Danticat starts this book by moving backwards in time, recounting each of Claire Limyè Lanmè’s* birthdays from age 7 to age 3 while simultaneously introducing the reader to some principal characters and ways of life in the town of Ville Rose. The book opens with Claire’s ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Heartbreaking yet hopeful

On Sal Mal Lane

Title: On Sal Mal Lane
By: Ru Freeman

From 1983 to 2009, the people of Sri Lanka suffered a lengthy and vicious struggle between the Tamil Hindu minority and the Sinhalese Buddhist majority. On Sal Mal Lane is a heartbreaking yet hopeful chronicle of the families living on a quiet, multiethnic cul-de-sac in Colombo, the largest city on ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Artist or scallywag?

The mad potter: George E. Ohr, eccentric genius

Title: The mad potter: George E. Ohr, eccentric genius
By: Jan Greenberg

"For most of his adult life, folks called George Ohr a scallywag, a rascal, a braggart, a clown. He called himself a genius, an artist, an outsider, a mud dauber, the mad potter." Lively quotes from George Ohr and lots of color photos of his ceramic works make this book ... [Read more]


biography, kids nonfiction
0 Comments

Echt grit

In Times of Fading Light: the story of a family

Title: In Times of Fading Light: the story of a family
By: Eugen Ruge

An East-German family saga told in different characters’ voices and from different points in time. The telling revolves around the 90th birthday party of Wilhelm, the oldest family member. A committed Communist Party member since 1919, Wilhelm worked in Mexico City for a period before he and his wife Charlotte ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Distances

Equilateral: a novel

Title: Equilateral: a novel
By: Ken Kalfus

This quiet, geometrical tale is so realistic, one starts to wonder if it really happened, but everyone is so embarrassed it is never mentioned. Victorian explorers, intense scientists, exploited native workers, men of business, and dedicated but undervalued women all contribute to a gargantuan undertaking led by one scientist with ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Harsh and hopeful

The Dark Road

Title: The Dark Road
By: Ma Jian

The Dark Road lives up to its name -- it explores the dark side of the one-child policy in China. Ma Jian, who now lives in London, returned to his native China to research this subject. He describes the efforts of ordinary families to avoid detection and bear extra children ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Armchair underground

Rose

Title: Rose
By: Martin Cruz Smith

Enjoy a romantic, suspenseful tale of the underground. Visit a coal mine one mile deep under Victorian England from your own comfortable armchair. Read about free-living pit girls and hardy miners in the company town of Wigan. Be amazed by the clever methods of the American mining engineer assigned to ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

In the room with Louis

Oh Play That Thing

Title: Oh Play That Thing
By: Roddy Doyle

A beautiful performance by actor Christian Conn, who creates the gorgeous Irish voices, varied New York accents, and a believable rendition of Louis Armstrong. Conn gives every word its worth, adding meaningful richness to the often spare dialogue. Oh Play That Thing is the second title in The Last Roundup ... [Read more]


fiction, audiobook
0 Comments

Many voices

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Title: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
By: David Mitchell

This is a beautifully interpreted performance of a romantic, imaginative historical fiction by David Mitchell, an author with a deep interest in Japan. During the Edo period, when the entire country is closed to foreigners, only the small island outpost Dejima permits a few Dutch traders to live and trade ... [Read more]


fiction, audiobook
0 Comments

A story about how stories become stories

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

Title: The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
By: Philip Pullman

Phillip Pullman’s retelling of the life of Jesus attracted hate mail along with both positive and negative reviews. I found the premise of the book surprising, but came to realize how neatly it provided an analogy of possible differences between the historical man Jesus and the Christ memorialized and mythologized ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Tragicomic

Are You My Mother? a comic drama

Title: Are You My Mother? a comic drama
By: Alison Bechdel

Are You My Mother? What an amazing find! I picked up this graphic narrative because the title evokes the children’s book classic Are You My Mother? in which a baby bird wanders around questioning everyone it meets. Bechdel’s cover art -- a vanity, makeup, jewelry -- is our first cue ... [Read more]


biography, graphic novel
1 Comment

Slavery and survival

A Million Nightingales

Title: A Million Nightingales
By: Susan Straight

From within the unusually perceptive and original mind of Moinette, we live through her experience as a slave in Louisiana, which had only recently been purchased by the United States. Beautiful, evocative language; thoroughly researched way of life and social customs; a gripping story that poses strong questions. This is ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

An audible treat

Prodigal Summer: a novel

Title: Prodigal Summer: a novel
By: Barbara Kingsolver

If you enjoy Barbara Kingsolver’s writing, you are in for an audible treat. I read Prodigal Summer a few years ago, but it didn’t make a big impression on me until I happened to listen to the audiobook, read by the author herself. Barbara Kingsolver deftly contributes all the appropriate ... [Read more]


fiction, audiobook
1 Comment

A private telescope

Wilderness: a novel

Title: Wilderness: a novel
By: Lance Weller

Some might say this book was about the Civil War, but I think that would give the wrong impression. The Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia is only part of this account that spans 1864 to 1965 through several characters’ stories. The author skillfully traces a few human connections between ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Ends well?

The Fall of Alice K.

Title: The Fall of Alice K.
By: Jim Heynen

This is an American novel, but one with such a different point of view from most I am exposed to that it kept startling me. At first I wasn’t sure that I could get into the story, but something about Alice suddenly grabbed me, and I had to finish the ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Marvelous invention

My Invented Country

Title: My Invented Country
By: Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende’s moving memoir about the country she loved and left is read so perfectly by Cristine McMurdo-Wallis that I almost want to say: Don’t read this book; you must listen to it! The many voices of Allende’s writing -- irony, tenderness, humor and harshly honest journalistic modes -- are ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography, audiobook
0 Comments

Faraway Mountains

Dog Man

Title: Dog Man
By: Martha Sherrill

A patron highly recommended this book, which I found fascinating. The author describes the lifework of a Japanese man who has been part of the decades-long effort to bring back the Akita breed of dog in Japan. During the Second World War, many dogs were sacrificed for food and clothing. ... [Read more]


biography
0 Comments

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