Favorite Quotes

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. "


— Charles W. Eliot

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Browsing all posts tagged 'fiction'

Crossing a line

Kinder than Solitude

Title: Kinder than Solitude
By: Yiyun Li

This is a complex, thought-provoking novel concerned with understanding four young people as they mature. At age 15, Ruyu, an orphan child from a provincial town, is handed off by her religious great aunts to distant relatives in Beijing, where she will attend high school. She is to share a ... [Read more]


fiction
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Key mysteries

The Luminaries

Title: The Luminaries
By: Eleanor Catton

The gold rush in New Zealand! After a disturbing and eerie experience on the ship he arrived on, Walter Moody stumbles upon a disparate group of men in the back room of a hotel—men with competing and compelling stories to tell. If you love densely interwoven, multi-charactered historical fiction, please ... [Read more]


fiction
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Peripheral supernatural

Tam Lin

Title: Tam Lin
By: Pamela Dean

If you were the Queen of Faery and had to pay a septennial teinde or tribute to Hell, where would you hunt for your victims? A small liberal arts college in Minnesota seems as likely a place as any to capture promising human youths: take your pick of any of ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
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Present past, present future

The Orenda

Title: The Orenda
By: Joseph Boyden

When Europeans first arrived in the Great Lakes area, they were not the dominant powers of the region. That honor belonged to tribal confederacies such as the Wendat (whom the French called Huron) and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). The French chose to forge alliances and trading partnerships with the Wendat, which ... [Read more]


fiction
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Left behind

Torn Away

Title: Torn Away
By: Jennifer Brown

Life can change in an instant. Growing up in Elizabeth, Missouri, Jersey Cameron is used to frequent tornado warnings. When a tornado rips through her hometown, destroying her house and killing her mother and sister, Jersey is left with nothing. Before long, her stepfather sends her to live with her ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
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Poor in Trinidad, Poor in America

'Til the Well Runs Dry

Title: 'Til the Well Runs Dry
By: Lauren Francis-Sharma

Marcia Garcia is a talented but poor seamstress living in a small town in Trinidad. She falls for policeman Farouk Karam, and thus begins a fascinating yet troubling family saga told in the voices of Marcia, Farouk, and their second daughter, Jacqueline. I was reminded of T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla ... [Read more]


fiction
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Like stepping stones in a river

On Canaan's Side

Title: On Canaan's Side
By: Sebastian Barry

This tender story is told through the reminiscences of Lilly, now in her eighties, who was forced to flee her native Ireland in her early twenties. Her family was caught up on the wrong side of the Irish independence struggle. The lasting and tragic impact on her did not destroy ... [Read more]


fiction, audiobook
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Soul-deep

The Good Lord Bird

Title: The Good Lord Bird
By: James McBride

It’s both a comedy of errors and a serious piece of American history, this description of the desperate, violent struggles of the men fighting to abolish slavery or defend it. The story is told through the eyes of a fictional character nicknamed Onion, a young runaway slave disguised as a ... [Read more]


fiction
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Gifts, Voices, Powers

Annals of the Western Shore

Title: Annals of the Western Shore
By: Ursula K. Le Guin

While there are three books in the Annals of the Western Shore, and certain characters make more than one appearance, this is not a conventional trilogy. Rather, each book focuses on a different society within the larger geographic region of the “Western Shore.” Ursula K. Le Guin's father was the ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
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Compelling

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Title: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
By: Karen Joy Fowler

I love the explanation the narrator and main character Rosemary Cooke gives for starting her story in the middle. It’s one of the reasons I kept on reading; I knew from the outset that something interesting was being held back for later. What that was, I cannot reveal. You must ... [Read more]


fiction
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Wit and wordplay

Adverbs

Title: Adverbs
By: Daniel Handler

Handler is the alter ego of children’s author Lemony Snicket. He calls Adverbs a novel, but it reads like a collection of short stories. The book is full of wit and wordplay about how love is experienced. This is reflected in the chapter titles: Soundly; Briefly; Naturally, etc. There are ... [Read more]


fiction
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It's not easy

The Weight of Water

Title: The Weight of Water
By: Sarah Crossan

It's not easy moving to a new country, learning a new language, changing schools, making new friends, getting a new name because the teacher can't pronounce your given name. It's especially not easy when you are 12 going on 13 and your father has disappeared, maybe to the country you ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction, kids fiction
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Criminally clever

Babayaga

Title: Babayaga
By: Toby Barlow

Nice but clueless young American ad-man Will meets extremely exotic Eastern European emigre Zoya in Paris, 1959, and the fun begins. You can’t pin this novel down to a single genre; it’s part detective novel, part witch fantasy, part historical fiction, and entirely entertaining. These witches are criminally clever with ... [Read more]


fiction
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One another's superstitions

The Ghost Bride

Title: The Ghost Bride
By: Yangsze Choo

Intelligent, adventurous Li Lan, the only daughter of a scholarly but poor father, receives an unusual proposal of marriage from a wealthy Chinese Malaysian family in Malacca. Her father at first resists the notion of a “ghost marriage” between his daughter and the deceased son of the Lim family, but ... [Read more]


fiction
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Walking on eggshells

The Hired Man

Title: The Hired Man
By: Aminatta Forna

"Everything you need to know about Gost is here in the cemetery." Unexplained tensions build very slowly and skillfully in this book set in the fictional town of Gost, Croatia, nearly two decades after the Yugoslav civil war of the early 1990s. Laura, an English woman oblivious to the undercurrents ... [Read more]


fiction
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Collateral damage

The Memory of Love (audiobook)

Title: The Memory of Love (audiobook)
By: Aminatta Forna

This is a gripping novel concerned with the residual damage to society and individuals following the 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone. Three love stories are interwoven throughout the book, and these narratives become the device through which we learn much else about what has happened. Aminatta Forna’s characters are ... [Read more]


fiction, audiobook
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Disharmony

Letters from camp

Title: Letters from camp
By: Kate Klise

When three sets of brothers and sisters set foot at Camp Happy Harmony in Missouri, little do they realize that there’s more going on there than meets the eye. The camp is run by six siblings who, at one point, were a famous singing group— The Harmony Family Singers. At ... [Read more]


fiction, kids fiction
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Magic and loss, loneliness and escape

The ocean at the end of the lane (audiobook)

Title: The ocean at the end of the lane (audiobook)
By: Neil Gaiman

On impulse, I downloaded the new Neil Gaiman book from OneClick Digital onto my iPhone (ah, technology, you great multifaceted beast!). I was delighted to learn that the author was also the narrator, and this audiobook would not proffer any misrepresentations of tone or misinterpretations of characters. If anyone could ... [Read more]


fiction, science fiction, audiobook
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
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I foresee great things...

Hild

Title: Hild
By: Nicola Griffith

Hild is the story of the 7th century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who became St. Hilda of Whitby. Very little is known about her early life, so Griffith had plenty of room to improvise. The result is a rich, compelling novel about a young, privileged woman coming of age in a time ... [Read more]


fiction
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Golden

The Alchemist's Daughter

Title: The Alchemist's Daughter
By: Katharine McMahon

In this novel set in 18th century England, Emilie Selden, the protagonist and narrator, is the daughter of a student of Sir Isaac Newton. Her father has decided to raise her in his own image, as he has no other children. He is descended from a long line of seekers, ... [Read more]


fiction
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A friend to wish for

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

Title: Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief
By: Wendelin Van Draanen

What would you do if you were stuck in your grandmother’s apartment for the day? People watch, of course. This is exactly what Sammy Keyes is doing when she spots a man taking money out of someone’s room at the Heavenly Hotel. Sammy knows she should call the police, but ... [Read more]


fiction, kids 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
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Love, loss, and memory

The history of love

Title: The history of love
By: Nicole Krauss

This is a beautiful story about love, loss, and memory. The first narrator (and central character), Leo Gursky, is an old Jewish man in New York who is recalling his youth in Poland and his life as a writer. Leo is wonderful: funny, cantankerous and imaginative. He is one of ... [Read more]


fiction
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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
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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
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Slippers

The Financial Lives of the Poets

Title: The Financial Lives of the Poets
By: Jess Walter

As this novel set in the financial morass of 2009 opens, Matt Prior's journalism career is in a shambles. His online venture of giving financial advice in poetry form has failed, he's discovered that his wife has been engaging in a Facebook flirtation with her high school ex, and his ... [Read more]


fiction
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Selves, reflected

The Golem and the Jinni: a novel

Title: The Golem and the Jinni: a novel
By: Helene Wecker

Bored with vampires and werewolves? Dive into this entertaining book about two mythical creatures who may never have been paired in a work of fiction before. A golem created in Poland and a jinni from Syria intersect in New York City (where else). The golem, whose master died on the ... [Read more]


fiction
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A canny gift

Shadowfell

Title: Shadowfell
By: Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier’s fantasy fiction employs what is for me an irresistible blend of adventure, romance, and fairy magic. Her Shadowfell series is set in the invented medieval kingdom of Alban, which physically and culturally strongly resembles Scotland. Alban is ruled by a tyrant whose forces are systematically rounding up or ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
0 Comments

Not his story

Scarlet

Title: Scarlet
By: A. C. Gaughen

It’s the story of Robin Hood, but it’s not his story. Instead the protagonist is Will Scarlet, but in a way we’ve never seen him before. This time around, he’s a she, and she’s every bit the thief of legend that we’ve heard about. Gaughen does a wonderful job writing ... [Read more]


fiction, kids fiction
1 Comment

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

Real Magic

The Snow Child

Title: The Snow Child
By: Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child is the first novel by Alaskan Eowyn Ivey. Set in Alaska in the 1920s, it is a retelling of a Russian folktale. In the traditional tale, a childless couple makes a little girl out of snow, and she comes to life. In Ivey’s novel, hardworking homesteaders Mabel ... [Read more]


fiction
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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 real person in a magical world

Graceling

Title: Graceling
By: Kristin Cashore

Throughout the seven kingdoms, there are some people who are born with a special skill, called a Grace, who are known by their different colored eyes. Anyone with a Grace is both sought-after and feared. Katsa is notorious throughout the Middluns for her Grace, which is killing. Since Katsa was ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
0 Comments

You can('t?) go home again

Redliners

Title: Redliners
By: David Drake

Reading the first few pages of Redliners, I thought, "Blech. War times in space." Not my favorite; but, stubborn as I am, I persevered. After the initial bout of guns, battlements, encroaching baddie aliens and godlike war heroes, we enter a completely different story, one about redemption and humanity. To ... [Read more]


fiction, science fiction
0 Comments

Burnt into Memory

Voice of the Fire

Title: Voice of the Fire
By: Alan Moore

Alan Moore is best known for his graphic novels that have been butchered by Hollywood (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, etc.). He is less known for being a practicing occultist and for his single “conventional” novel, Voice of the Fire. To be clear, I'm using “conventional” with regard to the medium ... [Read more]


fiction, science fiction
1 Comment

The land

All the Land to Hold Us

Title: All the Land to Hold Us
By: Rick Bass

It's all about the land. This odd, compelling, but challenging book is worth the effort. Using his own background in geology, Bass makes vibrant the desert lands of West Texas--a region of intense heat and endless sand. I found myself keeping a bottle of water within hand's reach while reading ... [Read more]


fiction
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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

Neither farce nor tragedy

A Star Called Henry

Title: A Star Called Henry
By: Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle's A Star Called Henry is the story of the Irish War for Independence and Civil War, told through the cocky first-person narrative of a rebellious former Dublin street urchin. Henry's father was a one-legged brothel bouncer and underworld enforcer who specialized in caving in skulls with his wooden ... [Read more]


fiction
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

Family is all

The Lost Crown

Title: The Lost Crown
By: Sarah Miller

The Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia Romanov are the daughters of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia. The girl’s lives are immersed in privilege until the onset of World War I, when the war effort quickly turns to revolution across Russia. The Bolshevik party has risen quickly, ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
0 Comments

I want to meet these characters!

Life After Life

Title: Life After Life
By: Jill McCorkle

Where in the world is Pine Haven Estates? I want to meet these characters. There’s Stanley, the retired attorney feigning dementia to avoid an overly attentive son making up for lost time. Toby Tyler, the retired English teacher who rejected four other homes before finding Pine Haven by throwing darts ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

She's got a secret

Breathless

Title: Breathless
By: Jessica Warman

Katie Kitrell is a swimming prodigy with a secret. Katie’s parents send her to Woodsdale Academy so that she can escape the trouble her brother Will’s growing mental illness has caused her family. But instead of being honest with her new friends, she tells them her brother is dead. For ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
0 Comments

Apocalyptic thriller

Ship Breaker

Title: Ship Breaker
By: Paolo Bacigalupi

When whole cities lie beneath the waves and there isn’t a drop of petroleum left on the planet, will the pace of life finally slow and congeal into a more natural order, where family and loyalty are key and sailboats drift lazily across the sea? No way. Bacigalupi’s raw, violent, ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
0 Comments

Drink Me

The Apothecary

Title: The Apothecary
By: Maile Meloy

Move over Harry, Ron, and Hermione; meet Benjamin, Janie, and Pip. But there are no wands here and no parallel otherworlds; just cold, battle-scarred, postwar London... as well as an ancient tome, shadow government, and a secret alchemical tradition in which the exquisite transformation of matter is not only possible ... [Read more]


fiction, kids fiction
0 Comments

Second chances

Second Chance Summer

Title: Second Chance Summer
By: Morgan Matson

This is a story about how one event can change your life, and how everyone deserves to have a second chance. Returning to Lake Phoenix is not how Taylor Edwards wanted to spend her summer. She’s wanted to forget how she hurt her best friend and first crush there five ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
2 Comments

A unique voice

The Woman Who Walked on Water

Title: The Woman Who Walked on Water
By: Lily Tuck

At the center of Lily Tuck 's captivating novel is Adele, an affluent housewife from suburban Connecticut. Following a “chance” meeting in Chartres Cathedral while on a family vacation, Adele forms a deep attachment to an Indian man who becomes her guru. From that initial encounter, Adele’s life is changed. ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

True values

Lavinia

Title: Lavinia
By: Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin's Lavinia is a retelling of Virgil's epic poem, the Aeneid. The story is told from the point of view of Lavinia, the native Latin princess whom the Trojan Aeneas marries, but who does not speak a word in the Aeneid. What's interesting about the book is ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Legend #1

The White Giraffe

Title: The White Giraffe
By: Lauren St. John

The White Giraffe is Lauren St. John’s first children’s book, and the first of a series of four novels now known as “The Legend of the Animal Healer.” The idea for this book came to St. John, who now lives in London, as she recalled growing up on a game ... [Read more]


fiction, kids fiction
0 Comments

I didn't see that coming!

The Storyteller

Title: The Storyteller
By: Jodi Picoult

I just finished listening to The Storyteller, and there were times when I had to pull my car over to the side of the road because I was so emotionally involved with the story. Picoult tells a tale of three generations of a Jewish family, intertwining the horror of the ... [Read more]


fiction, audiobook
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

False Promise?

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
By: Emily M. Danforth

When Cameron Post’s parents die in a car accident, she’s relieved that they’ll never find out that she had been kissing her best friend Irene. Now her grandmother and Aunt Ruth have come to live with Cameron in her small ranching town of Miles City, Montana. Aunt Ruth is a ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
1 Comment

It left me thinking long afterwards…

Liar & Spy

Title: Liar & Spy
By: Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead understands that the best spy stories leave you guessing right up to the end. This middle-grade story introduces the 12-year-old protagonist, Georges, a wonderfully quirky, underdog loner who is going through a big upheaval in his life. His father's lost his job, forcing the family to relocate to ... [Read more]


fiction, kids fiction
0 Comments

Wildly original

Wildwood

Title: Wildwood
By: Colin Meloy

What would you do if your baby brother was abducted by a murder of crows and carried into the Impassable Wilderness, a swath of forest so thick that any who venture into it are neither seen nor heard from again? Why, you’d go after him, of course! But not before ... [Read more]


fiction, kids fiction
0 Comments

Seeing blindly

Tangerine

Title: Tangerine
By: Edward Bloor

This is one of my all-time favorite young adult novels. It has many levels that will interest the more mature reader, and has a wonderful storyline with characters that will totally draw you in. Twelve-year-old Paul is legally blind, but is a mean soccer goalie in Tangerine, Florida. His family ... [Read more]


fiction, teen fiction
0 Comments

Anti Social Behavior Order

Lionel Asbo: state of England

Title: Lionel Asbo: state of England
By: Martin Amis

Step inside the wacky, Rabelaisian world of Lionel “Li” Asbo (Anti Social Behavior Order) and his 5 brothers-- John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Stuart--sperm donors scattered far and wide. Li, a frequent guest of Her Majesty's home for society's scoundrels, skates through life pilfering, scamming, and murdering the English language. ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Not for the faint of heart

American Psycho

Title: American Psycho
By: Brett Easton Ellis

When a book incites controversy, as was the case with American Psycho when it was originally published in the early 90’s, my instinct is to read it. I am not a squeamish reader, and I decided that I could handle a novel that has been denounced as not only completely ... [Read more]


fiction
1 Comment

Story Without Words

Ice

Title: Ice
By: Arthur Geisert

A children's book of immense beauty. The illustrations were so detailed and of such high caliber, I found myself reading it more than once. Enjoyable for both children and adults. A visual pleasure. [Read more]


fiction, picture books
0 Comments

Grand Sun

Heat of the Sun

Title: Heat of the Sun
By: David Rain

Grand Opera searching for a Puccini to give it voice is the fast and absorbing read, Heat of the Sun, by David Rain. Madame Butterfly has long ago died for honor in the house on Higashi Hill, Nagasaki, having been discarded by her Lieutenant Pinkerton. Her son has been taken ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Who is the last runaway?

The Last Runaway

Title: The Last Runaway
By: Tracy Chevalier

Beginning in England, this is the story of Honor Bright, a young Quaker woman who travels to Ohio with her sister after a broken engagement. The sea voyage is terrible and Honor knows she can never face the sea again. However, upon landing in America, she is faced with many ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Beloved

Habibi

Title: Habibi
By: Craig Thompson

Habibi is an Arabic word which means Beloved. This graphic novel is, quite simply, a masterpiece. Each page is gorgeously illustrated. It spans from ancient to modern times, weaving stories from the Qur'an and the Bible. It is at once heartbreaking and uplifting, beautiful and wretched. I highly recommend this. ... [Read more]


fiction, graphic novel
0 Comments

2013 Newbery Medal Winner

The One and Only Ivan

Title: The One and Only Ivan
By: Katherine Applegate

I read this book because it is the Newbery Medal winner this year and I was not disappointed! Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a mall/video arcade. This is Ivan’s story of his life and relationships with the other animals and humans at the mall. Sounds hokey, but it ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

America and the War in Iraq

Billy Lynn's long halftime walk

Title: Billy Lynn's long halftime walk
By: Ben Fountain

This excellent new debut novel by Ben Fountain, set in an unspecified year, but somewhere around 2005, is truly a thought provoking experience, touching on so many subjects having to do with modern life in America in general, and the War in Iraq in particular, but essentially it is the ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Icy hot

We Sinners

Title: We Sinners
By: Hanna Pylväinen

This is a first novel with a precise and biting viewpoint. Or, rather, viewpoints; the perspective shifts repeatedly from one member to another of a large Finnish-American family riven by the religion meant to bind them. Pylvainen’s prose is spare, but there’s lava beneath the surface, always threatening. Will her ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Reading Grapes of Wrath in the 21st Century

The Grapes of Wrath

Title: The Grapes of Wrath
By: John Steinbeck

According to Steinbeck scholars, the Grapes of Wrath is the most thoroughly discussed novel in 20th century American literature. But a reading in the 21st century can enable us to have deeper discussions, such as the practice of bank foreclosures and their aftermath. Lured by the promises on handbills, the ... [Read more]


fiction, classics
0 Comments

The new kid is just like you, but it takes awhile to realize that.

Wonder

Title: Wonder
By: R.J. Palacio

Wonder is a remarkable first novel by R. J. Palacio. We have it in J Fiction, but I highly recommend it for readers of any age. Auggie - a child with severe facial deformities - is about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep after being homeschooled and protected all ... [Read more]


fiction, kids fiction
0 Comments

Bulls-eye

The Tiger's Wife

Title: The Tiger's Wife
By: Téa Obreht

It's an odd moment, when you realize that you might be in the presence of greatness. The shiver that goes down your spine is unmistakable. You don't know whether the writer or composer or choreographer has hit a once-in-a-lifetime bulls-eye, or whether this is just the first of many astonishments. ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

All about Justice, All about Politics

Another Time, Another Life: the Story of a Crime

Title: Another Time, Another Life: the Story of a Crime
By: Leif G.W. Persson

I read and recently listened to "Another Time, Another Life" by Leif G. W. Persson, and I was struck by its refreshing political humor and reality. Through solving a cold murder case, the book reveals a strong sense of justice on the part of the Swedish secret police, especially its ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
0 Comments

Baseball by Grisham

Calico Joe

Title: Calico Joe
By: John Grisham

Although John Grisham is best known for his legal thrillers, this small novel about a fictional baseball player brings out the best of his writing. Calico Joe has a breakout rookie season setting batting records right and left and gaining fans with each at bat. This is his story and ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

A Discovery of Great Supernatural Fiction

A Discovery of Witches

Title: A Discovery of Witches
By: Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches presents a world where witches, daemons, and vampires live among humans virtually unnoticed. Diana Bishop is a historian and descendant of Bridget Bishop, the first witch executed in the Salem Witch Trials. Diana discovers an enchanted manuscript which intersects the histories of the supernatural creatures, drawing ... [Read more]


fiction, fantasy
1 Comment

Think Local, Read Local!

Surf.com

Title: Surf.com
By: Fred Reiss

Funniest book I've read in a long time, and it takes place in Santa Cruz! You'll recognize many of the character types within our beach town: surfing locals, college students, Silicon Valley transplants, and the people who hang out around the Pacific Garden Mall. Enough zingers to make you laugh ... [Read more]


fiction
1 Comment

Shanghai and Back Again

Dreams of Joy

Title: Dreams of Joy
By: Lisa See

This sequel to Shanghai Girls is every bit as gripping as the original. It picks up right where Shanghai Girls ended in Los Angeles and the reader is quickly transported back to Shanghai along with sisters Pearl and May's daughter Joy who is on a search for her birth father ... [Read more]


fiction
1 Comment

Homecoming, Family, and Miracles

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

Title: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
By: Jenny Wingfield

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is a remarkable first novel. I was swept into the Moses family reunion and the fabric of their shared lives in 1950's Arkansas from the very first page. I wanted to know all the characters as they shared their everyday lives and their dreams, their ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Old Friends and Terrorists

The Weekend

Title: The Weekend
By: Bernhard Schlink

On the face, The Weekend is a novel about a reunion at an isolated German estate of old friends who haven't seen each other for years. They are brought together to greet Jorg who has been in prison for 24 years for unspecified acts of terror. Each guest has a ... [Read more]


fiction, audiobook
0 Comments

But Wait! There's More!

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1.

Title: Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1.
By: Harriet Elinor Smith, Editor.

Dear Mr. Clemens, So nice to hear from you! As always, I enjoyed reading your recollections of work as a cub pilot on the Mississippi, and the amusing stories of life on the never ending lecture circuit. I’m so sorry about your daughter Suzy passing away; she sounds like such ... [Read more]


fiction, non-fiction, history, biography, travel
0 Comments

Seville Quartet

The Ignorance of Blood

Title: The Ignorance of Blood
By: Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson’s The Ignorance of Blood not only ends Inspector Jefe Javier Falcón Seville quartet, but more importantly, completes the full recovery cycle of the protagonist’s troubled life. Javier Falcón’s troubled life is revealed in the first part of the quartet, The Blind Man of Seville (2003). While investigating the ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
0 Comments

Madensky Square - A year in the Life

Madensky Square

Title: Madensky Square
By: Eva Ibbotson

Eva Ibbottson was known to me only as an author of children's books. After her recent death I decided to try some of her books for adults. Madensky Square has the same charm as her fanciful books for young people. Madensky Square takes place in pre-World War I Vienna. The ... [Read more]


fiction
1 Comment

Finding Roseanna

Roseanna

Title: Roseanna
By: Maj Sjöwall

After purchasing the complete set of Martin Beck mysteries on audio for the library, I found my curiosity piqued by the lasting charm of the series by Maj Sjöwall and her husband Per Wahlöö. During the period of 1965 to 1975, the couple wrote one 30-chapter mystery every year. The ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
0 Comments

In the Name of Blue Demon

City of Fear

Title: City of Fear
By: David Hewson

Rome was under siege in the heat of tourist season and on the eve of the G8 summit. In the name of the Blue Demon to revive Etruscan civilization, a group of terrorists started a series of deadly attacks on the city’s officials and people, the presidential palace, the conference, ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
0 Comments

Mistress of the Art of Death

Mistress of the Art of Death..

Title: Mistress of the Art of Death..
By: Ariana Franklin

In twelfth century Cambridge, tensions are high between the local townsfolk and the Jewish population, suspected of murdering and disfiguring four children. King Henry II has requested aid of an expert in reading the dead from the Salerno School of Medicine in Italy. He is attempting to shelter the Jews, ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
0 Comments

Soul food

Soul Mountain

Title: Soul Mountain
By: Xingjian Gao

Whether or not the Nobel Committee was looking for an excuse to honor a Chinese writer, they did this one right. Soul Mountain has the intense clarity of mountain light, so sharp it hurts -- and exhilarates. It is also, unexpectedly perhaps, extremely funny, and at times raunchy. It exercises ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

When Two Brothers Love the Same Woman

Nemesis

Title: Nemesis
By: Jo Nesbo

Harry Hole is not an unfamiliar detective inspector to many Scandinavian mystery readers in Santa Cruz. The redbreast (2006) begins with Harry and his partner Ellen on surveillance detail. Oslo happens to be the scene of an international summit meeting. The devil's star (2005) finds Harry taking on a murder ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
1 Comment

The Tale of a Literary Rat

Firmin

Title: Firmin
By: Sam Savage

Firmin is the story of a rat--a literate, philosophical, and, yes, very melancholy rat. He is born, the runt of the litter, in the basement of a Boston bookstore, and from a very early age begins feeding his physical and intellectual hunger with the books that surround him. He lives ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Beguiled

Temples of Delight

Title: Temples of Delight
By: Barbara Trapido

Barbara Trapido is quicksilver. Her prose beguiles. Her plots twine. Her characters dart. Sadly, SCPL owns only three of her seven books, five of which are linked, although not linearly. Start with the Mozartean Temples of Delight, then read her first two books, Brother of the More Famous Jack and ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Short Stories You Must Read

Interpreter of Maladies

Title: Interpreter of Maladies
By: Jhumpa Lahiri

A well-written short story is a precious pearl and in this collection, you have a delicate string of pearls. Jhumpa Lahiri's collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 and the PEN/Hemingway Award. Lahiri writes about people who are balancing the cultures and values of India and the ... [Read more]


short stories, fiction
1 Comment

The End is Coming?

Good Omens

Title: Good Omens
By: Terry Pratchett

Discworld’s Terry Pratchett and Sandman’s Neil Gaiman teamed up to develop one of Gaiman’s short story ideas into an engaging funny novel about Armageddon. If you are familiar with either of these authors, you are not surprised. Yes, strictly speaking, the Divine Plan does seem to be developing as written ... [Read more]


fiction, fantasy
3 Comments

Such A Pretty Face

The Wife's Tale

Title: The Wife's Tale
By: Lori Lansens

On the eve of her Silver Anniversary, Mary Gooch is 43-years old and weighs in at 302 pounds. Except for a brief period in high school when she is slender, carefree, and infected with an intestinal parasite, Mary has been uncontrollably hungry, victim of a monster, The Obeast, a term ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Melting Pot of Gods and Goddesses

American Gods

Title: American Gods
By: Neil Gaiman

American Gods offers an answer to the question: What happens to the gods of different cultures when their followers emigrate to the United States? Do the gods follow them? Do they have influence here? How do Norse gods get along with Aztec gods? Gaiman describes the journey of Shadow, traveling ... [Read more]


fiction, fantasy
2 Comments

Moving to Brooklyn?

Brooklyn Follies

Title: Brooklyn Follies
By: Paul Auster

"I was looking for a quiet place to die." Why would anyone want to read a book that begins with that sentence I asked myself. Fortunately, I read the next few pages and was hooked. This is not a book about death and dying; this is a book about the ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Smiley's Honor-bound Labor

The Honourable Schoolboy

Title: The Honourable Schoolboy
By: John LeCarre

Recently, I have re-read John Le Carré’s The Honourable Schoolboy, and gained some deeper understanding of George Smiley, a unique British character who plays an essential and indispensible role whenever a crisis occurs, but is forever forgotten by bureaucratic machines for any career promotions or advancement, despite every single victory ... [Read more]


fiction
1 Comment

Well-Crafted Short Stories

Links - A Short Story Collection

Title: Links - A Short Story Collection
By: Kaylia Metcalfe

I am really impressed with how well-crafted these stories are. As a good short story should, these show the reader vivid snapshots of the lives of the characters. Like a gourmet tasting menu, Links provides bite-sized samples of complex flavors of people and life, which are emotionally resonant, and authentic. ... [Read more]


short stories, fiction
0 Comments

Looking Back, Youth

The Price of Love and Other Stories

Title: The Price of Love and Other Stories
By: Peter Robinson

Inspector Alan Banks is a familiar character to many of Peter Robinson’s readers. He is mostly known as an experienced, persistent but sometimes lone detective. We can see his career growing from Gallows View (1987) to All the Colors of Darkness (2009). However, what was he like before joining the ... [Read more]


short stories, fiction, mystery
1 Comment

Jeepers Creepers It's Everywhere

Creepers

Title: Creepers
By: Joanne Dahme

Ivy is everywhere. It seems to want to overtake the whole house. And no matter how much they try to pull it out and tear it off the walls it won't be eradicated. Courtney and her family move to their new home in remote Murmur, Massachusetts and the spookiness begins. ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery, teen fiction
0 Comments

Take a Break with the Bachelor Brothers

Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast

Title: Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast
By: Bill Richardson

Ever wanted to just get away to a place where everyone can relax and read? The Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast is the place for you. Set on an unnamed island somewhere off Vancouver Island, check out this B & B for your next retreat. Middle aged twin brothers, Virgil ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Munchkins, Winkies, and Winged Monkeys

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
By: L. Frank Baum

Be sure you get the edition with W.W. Denslow's illustrations throughout. This is not an e-book: you can point and click all you want, but nothing will happen, except in your imagination. It does not include a sound card; you will have to provide your own musical accompaniment. The intention ... [Read more]


fiction
1 Comment

Amish Thriller Debut

Sworn to Silence

Title: Sworn to Silence
By: Linda Castillo

As a 14-year old Amish girl, Kate Burkholder survived a brutal rape by a serial murderer dubbed The Slaughterhouse Killer. Some years later, Kate left Painters Mill, Ohio, parting with her family and the Amish way of life. Returning at thirty-years of age as the new Chief of Police, Kate ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
0 Comments

Big Bend mystery national park

Borderline

Title: Borderline
By: Nevada Barr

Borderline is Nevada Barr’s fifteenth novel about a talented woman Park Ranger named Anna Pigeon. This mystery is fast-paced, engrossing and exciting to read. The author, through her character, Anna, interweaves many insights regarding the meaning of life, aging, death and the hereafter. Ms. Pigeon is trying to cope with ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery, travel
0 Comments

In the Land of Snow and Ice

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name

Title: Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name
By: Vendela Vida

Clarissa Iverton is twenty-eight when her devoted father dies unexpectedly. Uncovering her birth certificate from her father's belongings, Clarissa learns that her biological father is registered as a Sami priest that her mother married in Lapland in a previous life. As Clarissa’s mother disappeared 14-years before, abandoning her and a ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Saluki hippies

...In the highlands since time immemorial

Title: ...In the highlands since time immemorial
By: Joanna Ostrow

The drawback to reading and loving Joanna Ostrow’s lovely, quirky first novel is the letdown when you discover that this is all you’ll get. No, Ostrow didn’t die young or suffer a public meltdown; following the considerable success of ...In the highlands she talked about working on a second book, ... [Read more]


fiction
5 Comments

Simulacrums and Secret Agents

Atmospheric Disturbances

Title: Atmospheric Disturbances
By: Rivka Galchen

When psychiatrist Leo Liebenstein’s beloved wife, Rema, is replaced by a double, Leo sets off on a journey to find the real Rema. His search takes him to Buenos Aires, then Patagonia, as Leo considers all physical and metaphysical possibilities for her disappearance. In desperation, Leo seeks the help of ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Icelandic Clashes

Arctic Chill

Title: Arctic Chill
By: Arnaldur Indridason

Arctic Chill opens with the stabbing death of Elias, a half-Thai and half-Icelandic boy of ten. Paralleled with Elias’ death is the murder case of a new wife by her unfaithful husband. Unlike his previous four mysteries, Arnaldur’s fifth book is haunted by a series of polemic clashes. Apart from ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
0 Comments

Justice and Atonement and Capital Punishment

Change of Heart

Title: Change of Heart
By: Jodi Picoult

Change of Heart is a thought provoking and compelling novel about religion, murder, incest, organ donation, and the death penalty. As the characters in the book reevaluate their beliefs and feelings about these issues, the reader is compelled to do the same. Picoult skillfully weaves together a story of all ... [Read more]


fiction, audiobook
1 Comment

Sleuthing Fun in San Francisco

Revenge of the Spellmans

Title: Revenge of the Spellmans
By: Lisa Lutz

Everybody's favorite thirty-something, Guinness-drinking private investigator with a checkered past is back in this third installment of the Spellman mysteries. Isabel Spellman continues to entertain as only she can in this heavily footnoted, case file format mystery set in San Francisco. Isabel's court-ordered therapy, insomnia, and secret new digs, along ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
1 Comment

A Swede in Zambia

The Eye of the Leopard

Title: The Eye of the Leopard
By: Henning Mankell

Henning Mankell, the creator of Kurt Wallander mysteries, does not restrict himself just to the boundaries of Sweden, his native country. By working as director at Teatro Avenida in Maputo, Mozambique since 1985, he has truly made Africa his second home. The Eye of the Leopard has shown us a ... [Read more]


fiction
1 Comment

The Summer Everything Changed

Out Stealing Horses

Title: Out Stealing Horses
By: Per Petterson

The beautiful, spare prose of this short novel helps create an atmosphere and characters that will be remembered long after the last page has been turned. Set in Norway, the story moves back and forth in time--from the summer of 1948 to the present. The narrator, aging widower Trond Sander, ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Tale of Two Sisters

Shanghai Girls

Title: Shanghai Girls
By: Lisa See

Sometimes I think I am the only person who didn't enjoy Lisa See's earlier novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. For this reason I was reluctant to try Shanghai Girls, but I found myself with a copy in my hands and decided to give it a chance. I'm glad ... [Read more]


fiction
1 Comment

Midwifery on Trial

Midwives

Title: Midwives
By: Chris Bohjalian

Reading this book was my first taste of Chris Bohjalian and it leaves me hungry for more. The story is told by Connie, who is fourteen the fall of her mother's trial. Her mother, Sibyl Danforth, is charged with manslaughter for the death of a mother in a home birth ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

A Wild Romp Through the French Quarter!

A Confederacy of Dunces

Title: A Confederacy of Dunces
By: John Kennedy Toole

This book made laugh so hard that I literally cried. Ignatius J. Reilly is one of the most colorfully hilarious characters I have ever come across. This is the best tour through the French Quarter that I could ever possibly take, without actually going there, especially with a paradoxically intelligent ... [Read more]


fiction
3 Comments

Like Reading an Episode of "The Wire"

Lush Life

Title: Lush Life
By: Richard Price

Reading Lush Life is like reading an extended episode of HBO's series "The Wire." Not coincidentally, Price writes for the series and was recently nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for his writing on the show. The novel starts with the murder of a young screenwriter and bartender ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Cathedrals, Fog and Gothic Suspense

The Unburied

Title: The Unburied
By: Charles Palliser

If your brain is ready for a workout, you might want to try this intricately plotted atmospheric thriller set in Victorian England. It is a framed story--a mystery within a mystery wrapped in yet another mystery. And it has all of the elements you might expect in this genre: missing ... [Read more]


fiction, mystery
0 Comments

Six Degrees of Separation in London

London Bridges

Title: London Bridges
By: Jane Stevenson

An affectionate homage to the classic English detective story, London Bridges is set in 1990s London. Its plot centers on a treasure lost in the Blitz and newly discovered by an unscrupulous lawyer, who is tempted by greed into a series of crimes leading to murder. A diverse cast of ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Perfect Book for a Long Flight

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Title: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
By: Dai Sijie

This is a lovely funny book which can easily transport you from a cramped seat in economy to an elegantly constructed world in China. Set in the Chinese countryside during the Cultural Revolution, Sijie tells us the story of two city boys sent to be re-educated by poor peasants in ... [Read more]


fiction
0 Comments

Correspondence from the German Occupation

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Upon a strong recommendation and kind provision of the book, I started to embark on the reading of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. However I had a slow start. For some reason, I was deterred by its format consisting of letters or correspondence between the protagonist Juliet ... [Read more]


fiction, history
6 Comments

Short Stories in a Northern Setting

Island: The Complete Stories

Title: Island: The Complete Stories
By: Alistair MacLeod

Modern Library named Canadian author Alistair MacLeod one of the greatest writers in the English language since 1950. After spending some time with this collection of stories, it is clear why. These short stories, set for the most part in the stark but evocative landscape of Cape Breton Island, are ... [Read more]


short stories, fiction
3 Comments

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