Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Heading for Home: My Journey from Little League to Hollywood! by Kent Stock with Ken Fuson

Need a quick, good story to read?  Look no further than Heading for Home: My Journey from Little League to Hollywood! This was just a good story.  Stock speaks of his growing up, his parents and grandparents growing up and how it all shaped their lives.  You can appreciate the hard work of Kent, his parents and others in the story. 
I grew up in a small community like Norway where the school was everything.  The town was a ghost town on Friday nights during football and basketball seasons and in later years when my school was an up and coming baseball powerhouse, the towns caught baseball fever and held on!  In 1997 when the girl’s basketball team played in the first round of the State tourney, the volunteer ambulance crew had to draw names out of hat as to who would stay back in town of there was an emergency.  this isn't something you find in larger communities.  Like Norway when the high school was moved to the other town after consolidation of three small districts, the whole town felt it and still does today.  
Take a night or two to read this uplifting book about Iowa Nice.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Butterfly Palace by Colleen Coble

In 1904 Lilly Dobson is in mourning for her mother and abandoned by the man she loves.  Moving to Texas she is hired for a position as a maid in a grand mansion and works for a spoiled young woman. Shocked to find her former boyfriend in this town she learns he is hiding his identity. There is a murderer in this town killing young women.  Who else is going to be killed?  How can she stay safe and know who is hiding unlawful deeds in this elegant society?  There are strange noises in the mansion and secret tunnels are found. Her master's exotic butterfly collection distresses her and causes an eeriness in this home. A web of secrecy, conspiracy, and some religious undertones make this novel interesting and in anticipation of the solving of different plots in the story.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

This is a great historical fiction novel spanning several generations of a Korean family.  It begins in the 1930s with Sunja, the beloved daughter of a poor family whose unplanned pregnancy threatens their honor.  A minister who stays at their boardinghouse offers to marry Sunja and take her with him to his new life in Japan.  In Japan, the family faces harsh discrimination and poverty.

Sunja's children, Noa and Mozasu, both end up working in the pachinko business, which is very popular in Japan, but also has a seedy reputation.  (Perhaps like casinos here?)  They take very different paths in life, and end up in very different places.  The story ends in the 1980s with Solomon, Sunja's grandson, who is navigating what it means to be a second generation Korean in Japan.

I found this book to be very readable, so don't let its nearly 500 pages keep you away.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

     There are lots of good cook books and recipe books at our library. One of my favorites is Magnolia Table. While Chip and Joanna Gaines first became well known for fixing up houses, they have now branched out into several other avenues; having books published being one.
     I have actually made several of the recipes in this book over the past year and have even repeated a couple that we really liked. We loved the After-School Banana Bread (which are more like banana bars) and the Baked Bruschetta with tomato, basil, and cheese (nice when you have a lot of tomatoes and basil!)
     Two other things I like about this particular book are Joanna's personal comments before a recipe and the tips she offers after the recipes. The pictures of her family working on the home place throughout the book are so charming, and help give the whole publication a country and family feel. Loved it!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Chances Are... by Richard Russo

Lincoln, Teddy, and Mickey are friends who met when they all worked cooking at a sorority during college in the late 1960s.  Fast forward to 2015, and they are middle aged men, meeting for the weekend at Lincoln's vacation home on Martha's Vineyard.

While there, of course the memory of their mutual college friend Jacy surfaces.  Jacy disappeared in 1971, after the 4 friends had spend Memorial Day weekend at that house, and her memory has haunted them ever since.  Lincoln goes digging at the local newspaper, and bits of information begin to surface.

I love Russo's writing style, and the characters he creates.  Eventually, we do find out what happened to Jacy.  If you liked Empire Falls, check out Chances Are...!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise By Dan Gemeinhart

Sometimes, life can be heartbreaking and tragic but how you deal with it can make all the difference.  After Coyote loses her mom and two sisters in a car accident, her and her father, Rodeo, travel across country in a refurbished school bus.  After 5 years on the road Coyote learns that the beloved park in her town is being demolished.  The very same park that holds the memory box Coyote buried with her mom and sisters.  Desperate to save the park, Coyote hatches a plan to trick her dad into driving 3,600 miles back home without him realizing!  Along the way they attract colorful characters with stories of their own.  Coyote discovers the journey home brings her closer to her past.  This is a heartfelt book with a genuine voice.  Appeals to 3-6th grade audience.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Willie Nelson The Complete Liberty Recordings

In our library's CD selection, under the category of country music, rests a true gem. It is a 2-CD set featuring the Liberty Records recordings of Willie Nelson. There are 45 tracks recorded between 1962 and 1964. This means that these do not belong to the pony-tail-wearing, bong-smoking, country outlaw that most people think of when they think of Willie Nelson today. These belong to the clean-shaven, close-cropped, suit-wearing Willie that was trying to carve out his niche in the Nashville music scene.
What you will find in these 45 songs is Nelson's classic behind-the-beat or off-center singing style at the forefront. For some it is off-putting, but for many it is magic. Many songs in this collection have a jazz or blues groove to them and Nelson's singing style helps them jump out of the speakers. There are many classic country songs as well, leaning to the coutrypolitan sounds that were coming out of studios in the 1960s. These songs also contain a very strong country shuffle rhythm that was predominant in Nashville at that time.
These two CDs show the writing powerhouse that was Willie Nelson. Songs like "Crazy", 'Hello Walls" and "Night Life" may have been bigger hits for other artists, but they would not have existed at all if it weren't for Nelson. 
I would like to issue one warning - no matter how good of a mood you are in when you listen to these tracks, they are a bit of a downer. They are that strong. You will almost feel as blue, and as lost, as the characters in Nelson's songs. To me, that is a good thing, further illustrating the power and ability of Willie Nelson during a time when stardom wasn't coming all that easy for him.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Meet Martha Storm, a volunteer librarian who learns to say "no" and stand up for herself.  The novel was slow at first; it has stories within the main story.  However, it picks up as Martha's search for truth about her beloved grandmother Zelda and the fairy tale book she has published and dedicated to her.  Along the way, Martha finds her identity, new friendships and a better understanding of herself and her family.  It is gratifying to see her transformation.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

That Good Night by Sunita Puri

Puri's memoir chronicles her decision to become a doctor, then specialize in the relatively new field of palliative care medicine.  Puri highlights the tension between general medicine's impulse to preserve life at all costs, and palliative care's focus on the quality of whatever length of life remains.

The book recounts many conversations that she has had with doctors, patients and family members.  Her (and her mentor's) skills at navigating these conversations is, for the most part, masterful.  The questions they ask, such as "What does a good day look like for you?", or "What does your loved one "getting well" look like to you?" are thought provoking. The answers are very different depending on the person.

This book gives a good over view of the field of palliative care medicine, as well as being an interesting personal story of family and career.  It made me start to consider what my answers might be, if a traumatic situation should arise.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy

A doctor recalls his first year as an intern focusing on his inexperience and interactions with patients and his superiors. With humor this memoir recalls his journey from ineptitude and humbling situations to competence.  The medical aspects of serious health conditions he is involved in are interesting and his relationship with Barney, a man living at the hospital waiting for a new heart is uplifting. Experiencing his own heath crisis and side effects of the medicines he must take, he pushes through and keeps training. I liked this book and appreciated this doctor's journey.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Bad Guys Series By Aaron Blabey

You may think wolves, sharks, piranhas, and snakes seem like "bad guys", but they are out to change their image!  For their first mission, Mr. Wolf hatches a plan to free 200 dogs from a Maximum Security Dog Pound.  Will it be that easy to become good guys?  This is the first book of an 11 book series, suitable for beginning chapter book readers.  It is full of wacky illustrations and silly humor.  Check out The Bad Guys series and see if they can salvage their reputations by tickling your funny bone : ). 

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Easy Gluten-Free Cookbook by Lindsay Garza

Along with the basics about the gluten-free diet, and other helpful tips throughout, this book includes a variety of gluten-free recipes that use readily available ingredients and are simple to make. Many of the recipes are for traditional classics like chili, lasagna, potato salad, and chocolate cake. They are each labeled as “5-Ingredient”, “One-Pan” “One-Pot”, “Sheet-Pan”, or “30-Minute” (many with more than one label), and there is a handy index of the recipes by these categories at the end of the book. If the recipes are also vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and/or nut-free, this is noted too. Although I don’t typically eat only gluten-free foods, I really enjoyed browsing through this cookbook, and will likely add several of the recipes to my collection.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

     This story of a Vietnam War veteran is a lot about his life before and after serving as a soldier. Having their Dad leave them at an impressionable age, Joseph and his brother are deeply affected by his desertion. They each cope in their own way, going in different directions. Joseph is close to his brother, but is deceived by him more than once throughout the book.
     It is odd to him that he is so successful at things he tried after serving his country. Mostly he was just trying to cope with serious thoughts of desperation, and in so doing.....amassed a lot of money, which he used to help other people in desperate situations.
     It isn't until the end that you realize what a truly great sacrifice Joseph has made his whole life. I really enjoyed this story and think this author is fun to read because he often uses male protagonists.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

11 year old Donal lives with his grandma on the Double W ranch in Montana.  When she has to have an operation, she sends Donal across the country to stay with his great-aunt and uncle, whom he doesn't know, in Wisconsin for the summer.  Riding the dog bus (Greyhound to you and me!), Donal meets all sorts of interesting people, who he tries to get to sign his autograph book.
Once there, Donal does his best to fit in, but it's tough and he makes mistakes.  One of my favorites is his description of a certain Montana festival to his aunt's bridge group.  His aunt finally has had enough, and decides to send Donal back to Montana before the end of the summer.  But who does Donal discover at the bus station?  His uncle, Herman the German, who has decided to go along for the ride.  We learn more about Herman along the way, and the characters that they meet during the ride are memorable.  They do indeed, take the last bus to Wisdom, and their story comes to a satisfying conclusion.

This is the first book Iv'e read by Ivan Doig, and it won't be the last!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Instant Family DVD with Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne

     Pete and Ellie are searching for more in their lives after having established careers and achieving a certain amount of success.  Should they start a family? So begins this funny and loving movie.
     Their adventure into foster care is fraught with problems and entanglements. Just when it seems things are going okay, a new disaster sets in. This movie is inspired by a true story and I really liked it. I think the whole family would enjoy it—however, it is rated PG13.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her apartment at Cherry Tree nursing home.  While waiting for the paramedics, her thoughts go to her best friend Elsie and the buried secrets that may surface.  Relying on her fragile memories, Flo is determined to find out if the new resident is who he claims to be…  Having been a psychiatrist, Joanna Cannon explores dementia and the bonds of friendship.  The story is filled with humor, mysteries and tenderness.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

I've enjoyed every one of Lisa See's books that I've read, and this one is no exception.  "The Island of Sea Women" tells the story of the women divers on the Korean island of Jeju.  It follows the lives of Young-sook and Mi-ja, best friends who come from very different backgrounds.  It begins in the 1930s, under Japanese occupation, and follows them through WWII and the Korean war, into modern times.  Their friendship is tested and strained through events that no one could have foreseen, and only much later in their lives is the entire story understood.

I also learned about the matri-focal culture of the haenyeo, the women divers, which I had never heard of.  While they still needed sons to perform ancestor worship, and in modern times would never be head of the Fishing Association (a man would), the Jeju divers were strong women who did hard labor diving in the sea while the men took care of the children.  Women were used to making their own decisions, making money, and being in charge.

I thought this was one of See's most interesting book, and highly recommend it!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen

A story of mistaken identity and secrets abound in this story set in 1819 England. After a carriage accident while moving with a wealthy couple, Hannah, a ladies companion, is recovering.  House staff and others believe she is Lady Mayfield, her employer. She continues with the guise and takes over Lady Mayfields's position. Hannah is believed to be dead instead of Lady Mayfield.  This book contains mystery, history, and romance. and some danger. Hannah keeps meaning to reveal herself but for a multitude of reasons (or excuses) the deception continues. I really enjoyed this Regency novel with it's plot twists and historical details.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sacred Duty: A Soldier's Tour at Arlington National Cemetery by Tom Cotton

This book describes Tom Cotton’s time with the 3rd U.S Infantry regiment, nicknamed the “Old Guard.”  Now a United States Senator, Cotton’s mission at Arlington National Cemetery included exacting military funerals, being prepared for ceremonial duties such as reviews by President Donald Trump and state guests, and, for a select few, the honor of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As Cotton explains, the Old Guard’s standard, their requirement, is perfection.  Pick up this book and better understand how our military honors the dead at Arlington.  Bottom line:  Don’t miss it.

Monday, May 20, 2019

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

I enjoyed this novel about the life of Theodore Roosevelt’s eldest child Alice. Bold and brash, Alice Roosevelt lived life on her own terms no matter what the cost. Known as “America’s Princess” when her father was president, Alice went on to marry a prominent congressman and was a savvy political activist throughout her whole life, which spanned the majority of the 20th century.

I thought the author did a good job of weaving the various historical figures and world events throughout the story too. I was completely absorbed by the era depicted in the book, and often paused to research many of the characters and events. I would recommend this novel to any historical fiction fan.

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

True confession of a reader of non-fiction - I decided to read The Beantown Girls as a source to find other works on the subject of this book. I am discovering that many works of historical fiction are well documented and researched, and, open doors into non-fiction.  I was not disappointed in this book as author Jane Healey put together an entertaining work on this chapter of our country's World War II history.
So what is The Beantown Girls about? It is about the exploits of Red Cross Clubmobile Girls and how they served our nation during the war. Probably more familiar to some by the less-than-respectful name of "Donut Dollies" these women drove large buses and service vans to bring coffee, donuts, candy and a piece of "back home" to our troops serving overseas.
Main character Fiona, and her friends Viviana and Dottie (all from Boston, thus the title) join up to become Clubmobile Girls. Fiona hopes that opening this chapter of her life will help her find out what happened to her fiance who was shot down on a bombing mission over Europe. She talks her two friends into joining her.
The book follows these women through training and eventually into Europe in 1944 and 45. Healey uses experiences of actual Clubmobile Girls to flesh out the experiences of our main characters. What happens to them actually happened to women working for the Red Cross in Europe during the war. This is a very much unknown part of our history. Unless you had a Clubmobile Girl in the family you may have never heard of them.
Healey writes with great humor and emotion in The Beantown Girls, and I think you find it very engaging. Written from the Fiona's viewpoint, the story has many characters the weave in and out of the action and keeps you turning pages until the end.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I loved this book! Do you believe in fate? Do things happen coincidentally, or is it providence? There are two main characters in this book; Molly and Vivian (me?). Young Molly and ancient Vivian become friends through a set of providential(?) circumstances.
     Molly is a teenager it today’s foster system and Vivian is one of the children sent to the Midwest from New York on an “orphan train”. Although they are years apart in age, they share similar experiences in the form of: loss of loved ones, living in numerous homes (ranging from horrible to very good), trying to fit in, expected to be always grateful, treated with suspicion, etc.
     My husband and I recently took a trip to Ireland, the lovely “green emerald island”. Vivian started out as Niamh (pronounced Neev) in Kinvara of County Galway in Ireland. How fun and interesting it was to read about places I had recently visited (coincidence?).
     The lives of these two women pulled me in and I so enjoyed reading about their lives. At the end of the book the author tells how she researched before writing and used actual details of kids who rode the “orphan trains”. Now I am anxious to read more of this author as I see she has written four other books.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

What I like about Gretchen Rubin's books is her approach.  She doesn't think there is one RIGHT way to do something.  Instead, she researches and reports on many different methods for a given topic, urges the reader to use what works for them, and discard the rest.

This book tackles clutter and organizing.  It's a quick read, composed mainly of tips (suggestions?) rather than a narrative.  Some I found compelling, some I didn't. But that's exactly her point.  There isn't really any new groundbreaking information, just a nice summary of what's out there.  In a nutshell, I would summarize her overall approach as "Keep something only if you use it, need it, or love it", with many suggestions for accomplishing that.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Spearhead by Adam Makos

This is an amazing book! You don't even have to be a fan of non-fiction or history to enjoy this read. With Spearhead, Adam Makos has created a character-centric piece of action that follows the Third Armored Division as it rolls across Europe in the closing months of World War II.
More specifically, Spearhead follows the daily life of tank gunner Clarence Smoyer as he and his tank crew face the Germans in the final days of the war. Smoyer's tale takes place as the Third Armored Division tries to keeps the Germans from breaking out of France; gets caught up in the Battle of the Bulge; and, makes a dash to try and cross the Rhine River before the Germans can set up a strong enough defense.
At this time, late 1944 and into 1945, even though the United States was on the offensive, our tank troops found themselves out-gunned and out-armored by the Germans. Smoyer's crew is a testament to that as some of its members are wounded or killed throughout the book. Many of Smoyer's fellow tankers also faced the same casualties. The book can be very graphic at times as combat has never been very gentle.
Makos' writing is lively, detailed and very well researched. There are many twists and turns for Smoyer and his fellow soldiers and Makos captures them with page-turning excitement. The climax of the book takes place on the streets of Cologne, Germany, with many amazing tales being interwoven by the author.
Makos' after-the-war follow-up is just as good as he documents Smoyer's return to Cologne in 2017 to retrace his steps and to heal some very old wounds that had been haunting him in recent years. Spearhead is a very strong piece of writing that pays fitting tribute to the sacrifices that have been made for our freedom.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

On the anniversary of his wife Miriam’s death, Arthur Pepper was sorting through her possessions and found a gold charm bracelet in one of her boots.  On the elephant charm was an engraved phone number.  Intrigued, Arthur called the number and begins to learn about Miriam’s life before they met.  The bracelet also contains charms of a tiger, a book, a paint palette, a heart… Each of them reveals a significant point in Miriam’s life which in turn leads Arthur to travel aboard.  The journey gives Arthur a new perspective and possibilities.  It is a good read.  I look forward to reading Patrick’s new book, The Library of Lost and Found.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Lost Stone (The Kingdom of Wrenly Series) by Jordan Quinn

In the Lost Stone, we meet Prince Lucas, a lonely 8 year-old boy who longs to make friends and go on adventures. Clara, the daughter of the queen's seamstress, knows the kingdom well and becomes fast friends with Lucas!  When Queen Tasha's emerald goes missing, the king offers a handsome reward.  Lucas and Clara team up to explore all the lands of Wrenly.  They encounter fairies on the island of Primlox, trolls on the island of Burth, dragons on the island of Crestwood, wizards on the island of Hobsgrove, and finally... Mermaid's Cove!  Do Lucas and Clara outsmart the tricky trolls?  Are they able to nurse a baby dragon back to health?  Do they ever find the lost emerald?  Check out this fun series that is perfect for emerging chapter book readers or can be read aloud to a younger audience.  The chapters are short and most every page is illustrated. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Small Steps by Peg Kehret

     Small Steps is an autobiography written by author Peg Kehret.  In Small Steps, Kehret shares her 9 month journey with polio.  The story starts in choir as Peg notices her thigh muscle start to jump and twitch.  She then falls as she begins to walk home for lunch.  Like any other teenager, she doesn’t want to share with her mother that she isn’t feeling well as she would miss out on the homecoming festivities that would be taking place that afternoon.  Her mother catches on and she is sent to bed.  This leads to being diagnosed with three types of polio and a 9 month journey of recovery at Sheltering Arms Hospital in Minneapolis, MN.

     I have read this book at least four time and I love it a little more each time!  Kehret writes in such away that you part of the story and want to be friends with Peg and the other girls in room 206.  Take a chance and read this book…you won’t be disappointed!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

How To Amaze Your Daughter by Raphaele Vidaling

This book is filled with crafts, recipes, and scientific like experiments. Sometimes I enjoy doing a craft or two and I really enjoyed this book. I can easily see me making the little paper dresses on the clothes line, the pebble people, and the shaving cream paint creations. Fairy houses also look fun to me. The food related ones would be appreciated by my little granddaughter.
     Now, my daughter was also looking through this book as it was sitting on the end table at my house. She was reading aloud to me from the section that had the experiments and magic tricks—I’m not sure about that rubber egg?!  She also kind of liked the mermaid costume. Anyway… fun to look at even if you don’t end up doing any! If you have boys, the library also has How To Amaze Your Son.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

The Victory Garden is a new release by bestselling author Rhys Bowen.  The setting is England during World War I, and the story revolves around 21-year-old Emily Bryce, who is determined to contribute to the war effort despite her parents’ disapproval.  Emily falls in love with an Australian pilot, leaves her family to sign on with the Women’s Land Army, and finds that she has what it takes to stand on her own two feet.  This is a good book for World War I fiction fans.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Sacred Spaces: The Awe-Inspiring Architecture of Churches and Cathedrals. Photos by Guillaume De Laubier. Text by Jaques Bosser

Travel guides are famous among what are known as “armchair” travelers: people who love to visit other places through the magic of books. Sacred Spaces isn’t a travel guide, but through unbelievably well-done photography and well-balanced text, travelers of all types can now get a glimpse inside some of the most beautiful, ancient and unique cathedrals and churches throughout the world.  Be astonished at the enormity and scope of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Absorb the Spanish flavor of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Sit with the spirits of thousands of students in King’s College Chapel at Cambridge. And recoil and marvel at sculptures made of human bone in the massive Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.  You have to see these spaces to believe them.   Bottom line:  A richly photographed book that’s impossible to put down.  A must-read.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow: Quick-fix recipes for hangry athletes By Shalane Flanagan

     Olympian and marathon runner Shalane Flanagan teams up with chef Elyse Kopecky for the second time to offer new recipes and variations of popular ones from their first book.  Although it is aimed at performance athletes, anyone could benefit from the healthy but tasty offerings.  A variety of wholesome meals as well as pre-race and post-workout offerings are shared for readers looking for food that will sustain.  Color pictures and notes from the authors alongside the recipes make this cookbook engaging for the reader.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

When I first started reading Hank Green's An Absolutely Remarkable Thing I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into. It seemed a little slow, and it was hard to tell what direction this book was going to go. As the pages turned, and the story evolved, the book ended up with a commentary on fame and social media, an alien (maybe) invasion, and a mystery combining the two, which leaves the reader with all questions unanswered and a cliffhanger putting them on hold until a book two arrives.
The book follows the exploits of main character April May and her friend Andy, along with a handful of additional protagonists. One New York City morning at 3 a.m. April and Andy come across a large robot-like figure standing on the street. While Andy films, April investigates the robot, which they end up naming Carl. After going home, Andy posts the video on YouTube and April wakes the up the next morning a social media star.
As the story progresses, April's rise to fame skyrockets, and you find that the New York Carl is not the only one, as they are found in major cities around the world, not moving, not making a sound. One thing the Carls do initiate is a series of dreams being had by people who have been exposed to them. These dreams offers clues, but to what?
Along with trying to decode the dreams, April becomes a spokesperson for the whole Carl movement and what it might mean. An anti-Carl movement arises and puts the dreams, and April in its crosshairs. A violent conclusion to the story offers up more questions than answers. Some of Remarkable Thing's original mysteries are solved, but you will have to wait for a book two to find just what really happened.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

One afternoon, a man’s shadow disappears.  It is an inexplicable occurrence, and generates world wide media coverage.  Then it begins to happen around the globe, and people discover that the loss of their shadow also means loss of their memories, be it sudden or gradual.  The scariest part of this phenomenon is that in certain cases, something that a person forgets may also disappear or change form.  Thus some people can talk to animals, some locations vanish from existence, the power grids no longer function — anything can happen, really. 

Ory and his wife Max hide out at a hotel in the hills of Virginia, until Max’s shadow disappears.  Max leaves when Ory is away hunting, and then Ory sets out to find Max.  Many people hear rumors of “The One Who Gathers” in New Orleans, and many groups are heading that way.  The final showdown between shadowed and shadowless factions happens there, and you finally find out if Ory finds Max.

Overall, I liked this book and the questions it poses about what makes a person who they are.  Parts of the book annoyed me, as I felt the author wasn’t consistent enough with her “magical” rules (ie, just because one particular person forgets a place, why does that make it disappear when plenty of other people remember it?)   She never explains.  If you can get past that type of thing, you may like this dystopian debut novel.

Who I am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher

A pregnant widow, Jessica, who lost her husband and daughter in a car crash is reeling in grief and is also harboring secrets about her dead husband's infidelities.  Her marriage was not what others believed it to be and she is isolating herself. When Ridley moves in next door to escape accusations in his work in a political campaign, a friendship develops. Both of them have been betrayed and need to overcome bitterness and find a way to forgive. Jessica's family Bible gives her insight into her great-grandfather's life which brings healing and the story of he and his wife's struggles are included in this novel. I enjoyed this book by one of my favorite authors of Christian fiction.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Spectacle by National Geographic

The subtitle for this book is "Rare and Astonishing Photographs".  I had a lovely evening thumbing through it.  I'm partial to the landscape photos, with curving mountain roads, wildflowers, caves, and the northern lights.  But the wildlife and people photos were great too, and several made me smile.  It was sometimes hard to guess what I was really seeing.

So ignore the "lovely" February weather, check this book out, and transport yourself around the world for a few hours!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

Set in WW II London, Emmeline Lake lamented “War was foul and appalling and unfair.”  She aspires to be a journalist but ends up as a junior typist at Woman’s Friends magazine going over incoming letters for the Problem Page for the stern Henrietta Bird.  Mrs. Bird rejects any letters with “unpleasantness”- questions about relationship are ignored.  Emmy wants to help the troubled readers and does the unthinkable.  As the German planes are making their nightly raids, tragedy strikes Emmy’s best friend Bunty and her fiancĂ© Bill, and their friendship is tested.  The novel is full of heart and gentle humor.  It is a good read.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund

     Young Emma has wanted a home and family for some time now. When the steam ship that she and her brother are on, sinks in Lake Huron, they are left with nothing, on the shores of Burnham's Landing. Having come to the United States to escape the potato famine, they had been traveling from place to place finding work where they could. 
     Now Emma is offered an opportunity that in her dire situation she feels she must consider. A local lighthouse keeper with a two year old son has lost his wife. He desperately needs someone to watch his spirited son while he has lighthouse duties. A night job that is quite isolated, he's been struggling being up night and day. It seems the solution, according to their friend, Holy Bill, is right in front of them. So they get married that very day.
     Emma enjoys keeping her new home and taking care of the little boy, even though it is exhausting. Her relationship with Patrick, the lighthouse keeper is complicated. He is a changed man, but has a troubled past that he is reluctant to share with her. Where does he go on certain days when he doesn't say where he is going? What past crimes has he committed? Will Emma stay in her new home?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Moo by Sharon Creech

Reena and her brother, Luke, have only known city life.  However, when their parents decide to move one day and they ask “Where to?”, and Reena says Maine (she is glad she didn’t say Antarctica), they pack up everything and move to a small town in Maine!  While trying to figure out this new town, her parents “volunteer” Reena and Luke to help an elderly woman, Mrs. Falala.  She wants them to work with Zora, a cow, to show at the local fair.  The kids soon realize farm animals are smarter than they seem!  This quick moving novel is written in poetry and prose.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart

I was captured by the story line. A man wakes up in a motel and find out it's eight months later. Where has he been? He has no recollection. So begins the story of a football player who wrestles with an anger problem. He has a wife and two children. He is fit, but his career is in jeopardy. This was enough to keep me interested. A story of transformation and failure, of re-evaluation and starting again. Will he change his behavior and turn his life around? Read and see.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

This book is the first in a three part series that you won't be able to put down! The first installment introduces us to Mr. Lemoncello, an eccentric man who has made his fortune in the gaming business.  Lemoncello finances a brand new spectacular library in his hometown and allows 12 students to earn a chance to  partake in a "lock-in" and explore this new magical place.  Kyle Keeley, a huge gamer, puzzle master and not a big fan of reading writes one of the winning essays and joins the others for an adventure of a lifetime.  There was one problem...the doors of the library remained locked when the lock-in was over.  The students discover there are codes and puzzles to solve if they want to escape the library.  Alliances are made and broken along the way, while Kyle and his partners try to match wits and solve the riddles.  This story has it all!  If your child likes gaming, solving puzzles and riddles, breaking codes and face paced adventures, this series is a winner.  It has an escape room feel with shades of Willy Wonka.  It would be a great story to read aloud with your child or stand alone.  It would also appeal to 3rd-7th grade readers.  Also in the series are Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics and Mr. Lemoncello's Great Library Race

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Fighters by C.J. Chivers

C.J. Chivers is a former soldier and a war correspondent with many hours on the front lines in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The experiences he had with the men and women on the ground and in the air are chronicled here in The Fighters. The book is filled with amazing first-hand accounts of fighting the insurgency from 2001 through 2013.
Chivers follows both soldiers and airmen through their varying experiences. Some come home physically uninjured. Several return scarred and missing limbs. Some pay the ultimate sacrifice and return home to grieving friends and family. Chivers follows the soldiers lives from enlistment through their final days on the line and beyond.
The Fighters can be joyous, frustrating, gory, depressing and uplifting from page to page; just how the lives of these soldiers were lived on the front lines and after their return home. The opinions expressed and the encounters detailed all come those who lived their days fighting and patrolling in a hostile environment.
Chivers has written a book that pulls no punches. It is a very gritty, very real look at modern combat and the modern military mission. At the same time it leaves you heartbroken for those who faced some terrible situations, and very proud of these same soldiers.
Whether you have friends or family serving overseas or not, The Fighters is the type of book every American should read. Dare I say it should even be required reading? Though it may not seem like it at home here in the United States, we are fighting wars across the globe and our soldiers are dying. Here is a chance to gain a better understanding of what our soldiers are going through by reading Chivers' work.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver

Set in Europe during the 1930s, The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver is the 4th book in the Amory Ames Mystery series. Husband-wife amateur sleuthing duo, Milo and Amory Ames, receive an urgent request from Milo’s childhood nanny to investigate the suspicious death of famous Paris perfumier Helios Belanger. Everyone in this story seems to have a motive, including each of Belanger’s three children and his pretty young wife, but was he murdered? This is the question that Milo and Amory must work quickly to answer without drawing too much attention to themselves. The Essence of Malice is an easy read with an entertaining plot that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a cozy mystery.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I thoroughly enjoyed "Becoming".  Michelle Obama tells her story, from her childhood on Chicago's southside to her college and working years, to her family's time in the White House.  I especially enjoyed her stories about Barack's proposal, the White House petting zoo, and riding with Queen Elizabeth in a car.  I appreciated learning more about the pitfalls and successes of the initiatives she undertook as First Lady.  Overall, the book is a portrait of a resilient, strong , intelligent, compassionate woman who cares deeply about her family as well as doing good for society.

Verdict:  Add your name to the hold list -- we have 3 copies so you won't have to wait forever!