Great Winter Reads from the November LibraryReads List

LibraryReads is a nation-wide list is comprised of books read, reviewed, and voted on by librarians.  The November list is filled with some reads that are perfect for all-day reading sessions on cold, long weekends.  Here are some of my favorites from this month’s picks:

Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia MilletMermaids in Paradise
“This delightful book starts out as almost chick-lit, turns into a fantasy adventure, then leads into an underdog heist. The tone reminds me of Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, with just enough absurdity in a tropical location to keep you on your toes. Protagonist Deb’s husband, Chip, is a total babe (in a nerdy way) and her BFF, Gina, is the best kind of snarky. A highly entertaining read!” – Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie BarronJane and the Twelve Days of Christmas
“Jane, her sister Cassandra, and her mother are spending Christmas with her brother’s family at Steventon Parsonage. They’re invited to visit the Vyne, where the weather and then a murder (or two) keep them houseguests. Jane’s personality and all of those around her shine throughout this story. I’m now planning to start back at the beginning of the series.” – Kim Storbeck, Timberland Regional Library, Tumwater, WA

Us by David NichollsUS
“Every once in a while you stumble upon a book that makes you wish you could meet the characters in real life. This is the case with Us, the poignant story of a middle-of-the-road British family spiraling out of control, and one man’s attempt to win back their love. Quirky, delightful and unpredictable, the novel delves into what makes a marriage, and what tears it apart.” – Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX

In the Company of Sherlock Holmes In the Company of Sherlock Holmesedited by Leslie S. Klinger and
Laurie R. King
“A unique, engaging collection of short stories written in honor of Sherlock Holmes. It’s wonderful reading all of the different styles with twists on the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tales, such as a Facebook-type narrative and a story written from the point of view of a horse. Sherlock aficionados will appreciate the whispers of the great detective on every page.” – Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

You can find the whole November list at the LibraryReads website!

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The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Impossible Knife of MemoryFirst Impressions
I pay attention each year to teen books that have award “buzz”: books that others in the library and publishing world are talking about as exceptionally good and/or unique. This novel by the author of the teen classic Speak has been getting some very good reviews, so I gave it a listen.

Drive-By Summary
Hayley and her decorated, war-hero, war-damaged father have spent the last five years driving a semi around the country, avoiding the memories and demons chasing them. Trying to find a “normal” life, they settle into Andy’s childhood home and Hayley enrolls in high school. But the demons follow close on their heels: memories, delusions and alcohol-induced rages that threaten to destroy not only their normalcy, but their lives.

Sound Bite
Readers, Julia Whelan and Luke Daniels, make Hayley’s world come alive and Whelan, particularly, gives Hayley an air of authenticity.  You can listen to a brief audio preview here: https://www.brillianceaudio.com/product?i=10026

My Favorite Character
I really enjoyed Hayley’s love interest Finn, who is fascinated by her, but struggling with his own family issues.

Words to Live By
People who have to announce that they are trustworthy deserve to be lied to.

Recommended For
Adults and teens who like real-life fiction and character-driven tales of family conflict, struggle and perseverance.

Final Say
This book is a great choice for readers who are looking to delve into the dark reality of PTSD and its effects on children and relationships will find a moving, sometimes harrowing, occasionally wryly funny story of trying to keep a life fractured by war from falling completely apart.

You can pick up The Impossible Knife of Memory at your local Bellingham Public Library location!

– Jennifer

Not Just for Teens! Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves

RipperFirst Impressions
I am obsessed with tales of Jack the Ripper because no one really knows who he was. [Editor’s note: It looks like they might have?!]  This book, the first in a series, offers an alternate history of Jack’s reign of terror.

Drive-by Summary
Arabella Sharpe, orphaned and at the mercy of her grandmother, is finding life within the stifling cage of social propriety boring and unfulfilling. Her grandmother has decided to “toughen” Arabella’s character by sending her to Whitechapel to volunteer at a woman’s hospital. Life there is rough and dark, but Arabella has resolved to stay and help no matter what the cost. She is soon a first-hand witness to the dilemma of the poor and unwanted when things take an even worse turn.  Aided by her “visions”, Arabella gets deeply involved with a secret society bent on catching a monster. She quickly becomes instrumental in solving the gruesome clues left by a deadly serial killer as she follows “him” through London’s East End.  This book is definitely a page-turner with a twist on a story that has been told and retold.  You will not be disappointed with this series.

My Favorite Character
I love Arabella’s character and the strength it takes for her not to turn and run away.  She does not settle into a life of comfort and makes her own decisions to be an active member of a society that sees her as a mere object.

Words to Live By
At the beginning of each chapter, there are quotes from Jane Eyre which remind us of how women were regarded during the Victorian era:

“I was weary of an existence all passive.”

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow minded… to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to play on the piano and embroidering bags.”

Recommended For
This is a young adult book, however, the story kept my adult-self intrigued to the last page and have now moved on to the next book in the series.  Also, this series is the author’s debut novel.  She has a PhD in Nineteenth Century British Literature which gives this series the realistic edge that conveys the social conformities and how, during that time, things had to change.

Final Say
It is not often that I come across a well-written and pragmatic mediation on the purpose of life in a novel.  This series will teach and leave the reader with a sense of curiosity about the indignations of how people regard one another according to the social norms of the time.

You can check out Ripper today!

-Keyla

Interesting New Titles from October’s LibraryReads List

The October LibraryReads list is here!   This nation-wide list is comprised of books read, reviewed, and voted on by librarians.  And there are some intriguing books coming out in October.  Here are the highlights:

A Sudden Light by Garth SteinA Sudden Light

“Garth Stein has given us a masterpiece. This beautiful story takes readers on a thrilling exploration of a family estate brimming with generations of riveting Riddell family ghosts and secrets. This is a true exploratory novel, taking readers through secret passageways, hidden rooms, and darkened corridors that engage all of the senses.” – Whitney Gayle, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT

 

As you wishAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

“Even if you don’t have a crush on Cary Elwes, you’ll enjoy this vivid behind-the-scenes account of the making of The Princess Bride. His stories, especially those involving Andre the Giant, will leave you in stitches. Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, and others also recount their experiences. An amusing account of a group of performers who came together to make a heartfelt film that is loved by many.” – Emily Weiss, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH

 

Malice by Keigo HigashinoMalice

“Detective Kaga is investigating the murder of best-selling author Kunihiko Hidaka. Hidaka’s wife and best friend both have rock-solid alibis, but Kaga discovers that the friendship might not have been what it seemed. A classic cat-and-mouse game with twists that keep the pages turning.” – Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, LA

 

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How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

How Should a Person Be First Impressions
How Should a Person Be? is categorized as a work of fiction, but reading it felt very much like sneaking a peek into the author’s diary. The main character’s name is Sheila, which is also the author’s name, and several of the characters’ friends in the book really do exist in our world. Writers are told to “write what you know”, and works of fiction are often inspired by factual events. This book begs the question: At what point does reality become story? Is there a percentage of made-up stuff that a book must contain to be called “fiction”?

Drive-by Summary
Young, creative, and newly divorced – Sheila is a playwright on a deadline, and struggling with a severe case of writer’s block that is symbolic of how stuck she’s feeling in general. In the process of attempting to complete the play she’s already been paid to write, she embarks on a “life experiment” in which she closely observes and records her closest friends and relationships.

My Favorite Character
I hate to admit to being as narcissistic or irresponsible as Sheila reveals herself to be, but if I’m truly honest I’ll have to confess I’m guilty of many of her thoughts and actions at different points in my life. The likeability of the character occurs because the author lets it all hang out – the ugly and the beautiful, the mundane and the magical, the superficial and the reverent.

Words to Live By
Puer aeternus = the eternal child

“But while others actually build a life in which things gain in meaning and significance, this is not true of the puer. Such a person inevitably looks back on life as it nears its end with a feeling of emptiness and sadness, aware of what they have built: nothing. In their quest for a life without failure, suffering, or doubt, that is what they achieve: a life empty of all those things that make a human life meaningful.”

Recommended For
If you’re carrying a load of hidden shame, have voyeuristic tendencies, and enjoy subjecting yourself to the philosophizing of the self-absorbed, you’ll definitely enjoy this book. If you’re curious about the lives of young women and men populating the artsy underbelly of the city, you’ll probably like this book. If you feel that young people today are too self-focused, you might be annoyed by the characters in this book – but I’d bet you’ll still be interested in this peek into their lives. Be forewarned – Sheila lives the life of a sexually active adult and some related scenes are graphically depicted.

Final Say
I’ve always had a difficult time keeping a diary because of the embarrassing, and sometimes plain old boring, honesty that’s required. I don’t like to admit that I feel the way that I do sometimes, or that I’ve behaved the way that I have. I admire Sheila Heti’s bravery in writing this book and sending it out into the world.

You can get How Should a Person Be? at the Bellingham Public Library.

– Jenni

Summer Reading Reviews, Week 4

Here are some more reviews from our Summer Reading for Adults participants. Enjoy!

After I’m Gone by Laura LippmanAfter I'm Gone
4 Stars

This is a great mystery that kept me guessing until the end. The detective character was great and I’d love to see him in more books.

 

 

How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane by Johanna SteinHow Not to Calm a Child on a Plan
4 Stars

Laugh out loud and read out loud funny. These hilarious autobiographical essays chronical parental misadventures from a not so hallmark card perspective. A quick, quirky and effervescent summer read.

 

Rustic Wedding Chic by Morgann HillRustic Wedding Chic
1 Star

These crafts scream “I have lots of time but very little crafting talent.” Projects that might be cute for kids but seem elementary for adults, most cross the line from quaint to tacky.

 

 

Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon MullSecrets of the Dragon Sanctuary
4 Stars

Yes, this is a book for middle schoolers but I love this series! There was a wonderful twist in this book; it caught me completely by surprise! The main characters are growing and learning, they’re great kids!

New Reads from August’s LibraryReads List

The August LibraryReads list is here!   This nation-wide list is comprised of books read, reviewed, and voted on by librarians.  And there are some intriguing books coming out in August.  Here are the highlights:

One Kick by Chelsea CainOne Kick
“Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at twenty-one, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller.” ~ Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ

 

Lock In by John Scalzi0765375869
“There’s been a good run of fantasy and science fiction books this year. Joining the list of great fantastical reads is John Scalzi’s Lock In. Scalzi is best known for his military SF (especially the Old Man’s War series), so his latest is a change of pace. A blending of SF and police procedural that hits every note just right.” ~ Jane Jorgenson, Madison Public Library, Madison, WI

 

The Miniaturist by Jessie BurtonThe Miniaturist
“A dollhouse whose figures and furnishings foretell life events, mysterious notes, family secrets and the powerful guild and church of 1686 Amsterdam. All these elements combine for an engaging story of a young bride’s struggle to be the ‘architect of her own fortune.” ~ Elizabeth Angelastro, Manlius Library, Manlius, NY

 

 

The Story Hour by Thrity UmrigarThe Story Hour
“Another beautifully written novel by Thrity Umrigar. A relationship develops between Maggie, a psychologist, and Lakshmi, a troubled Indian woman. As their stories develop, it is hard to figure out which woman does more to impact the other’s life. Highly recommended.” ~ Ellen Firer, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY

 

 

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

First ImpressionsRed Rising
I had heard a lot of buzz about Red Rising online and in Entertainment Weekly, but when it came to the library for me I hesitated to read another dystopian novel. I waited until it was almost due and then devoured it in one day.

Drive-By Summary
Darrow is a 16 year miner who lives under the surface of Mars. He and his family live in clans, digging night and day for an element to help make Mars habitable for humans.  They are the lowest group, the Reds, in a class system that is ruled by the “Golds”. The Golds rule with brutality and secrecy and when Darrow rebels against them after a tragic sequence of events, he pays the ultimate price and the story really begins.

My Favorite Character
I really like Darrow because he goes through so many changes throughout the story, but there are many great characters in this book; a girl named Mustang, a brilliant Gold who saves his life, Eo, his young wife, and Sevro, a most unlikely friend and ally.

Words to Live By
“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Recommended For
Anyone who liked The Hunger Games, the Divergent series or Ender’s Game would enjoy this book.

Final Say
I am really excited about this book. It is the first in a trilogy and I am anxious to get back to Mars and find out what happens. This book will appeal to adults and teens a like. It is science fiction, but also a love story and a story of friendship, revenge, and justice. It is so much more than all the other dystopian books out there these days!

Grab a copy of Red Rising today!

— Lesley

The Stench of Honolulu by Jack Handey

First ImpressionsBook Cover
My love of adventure, Hawaii and wanting to listen to something humorous I decided to download this audio book from Washington Anytime Library.

Drive-by Summary
I was intrigued by the picture of a hula girl on the cover. She is the hula girl of pure stench. The thought of a hula girl with gas was a cheeky idea. For me, Hawaii is somewhere between heaven and earth; the air is permeated with exotic scents and delightful sounds.

Two men are given a gift of a “treasure map” to the Golden Monkey by a wizen travel agent which leads them to adventure, danger and possibly regret.  Satirical, witty, and outlandishly bizarre think of fairy tales as told by Hunter S. Thompson or Jimmy Buffett’s zany stories. Jack Handey is quite dandy with world play:

“Sticky dynamite, souvenir hula girl made of pure stench, pineapple wood, a cardboard canoe and polinkas.”

Jack Handey, a humorist for the New Yorker takes you on a psychotic inspired journey and will make you laugh out loud with his stories too bawdy to be told to children.

Sound Bite
Jack Handey also narrates his own audiobook and does a masterful job.  Check it out:

https://soundcloud.com/hachetteaudio/stench-of-honolulu-jack-handey

My Favorite Character
Jack as himself – although you really not sure who he actually is!

Words to Live By
The following quotes came from a chapter called “Theories”.   They are theories the narrator had developed while staying as a guest at Dr. Ponzari’s, a scientist:

“Humans are evolving into a higher form and a lower form and at the same time. Confused? Then guess which one you are.”

“Birds evolved from dinosaurs, but guess what dinosaurs evolved from? That’s right! Birds!”

“When you die you become pure energy, but it’s not what we call reusable energy.”

Recommended For
Anyone who would like to be entertained or disgusted because Jack Handey will do both in a matter of minutes!

Final Say
I expected something very different from this audiobook and am happy to say that it had me laughing maniacally.  I had to stop listening to it at work for fear someone may hear me and wonder if I had lost my mind.

You can grab The Stench of Honolulu, in multiple formats, at the Bellingham Public Library.

– Keyla

Summer Reading Reviews, Week 2

Here are some more great reviews from our Summer Reading for Adults program:

Gone Girl by Gillian WelchGone Girl
5 Stars
Whodunit that alternates between the louche husband of the diary left behind by the woman who disappeared on her anniversary. Well drawn characters offer a chilling read that will keep you turning pages.

 

 

My Real Children by Jo WaltonMy Real Children
5 Stars
In alternating chapters, Walton tells the Story of Patricia Cowan’s parallel lives. One decision will lead to two very different endings. Pack this book for the beach.

 

 

Ghost Bride by Yangsze ChooGhost Bride
3 Stars
A rather unusual tale read by the author. Ghost Bride encompasses traditional lore from China and Malaysia in which families ensure that the dead and departed have all their needs met even in the after life. The main character Li Lan accidentally sends herself to the underworld after she makes a special tea; leaving her body, her spirit travels to the world of the dead in order to solve the mysterious death of her “dead” bethrothed young master Linn.

Would you like to see your review here?  Review a book, using this form, and turn it in at any Bellingham Public Library location for a chance to get your review featured on Read More! and to earn a prize.