Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Let me start by saying that this is not my usual type of book. I'm not too into thrillers or mysteries, mostly because they tend to freak me out. (That is not to say that I don't like those procedurals on tv, such as CSI, SVU, etc.) Anyway, this book was a book club selection that I went in to half-heartedly.

Sister is the story of two sisters who are extremely close. They are five years apart, but shared a childhood trauma that kept them closer than expected. The two share the minutiae of their lives, including their eating habits, friends, and even things they've purchased recently.

Beatrice (Bee) is the quintessential older sister, always trying to protect her younger, artsy, flighty sister Tess. Tess is in their hometown London, while Bee works in a high-powered, but somewhat safe, corporate job in New York City. Despite their distance, they remain close. So when Tess goes missing, Bee hops a flight to London immediately, surprised that she didn't notice it herself.

That's where the story begins. Bee is determined to find out what happened her sister, going up against the police frequently, who seem to think that Tess is another flighty art student who up and disappeared. Bee continues to contradict their ideas about her beloved sister. Conducting her own investigation, Bee learns things about her sister that contradict what she thought she knew, and begins to question if she really knew her as well as she thought.

This book was awesome. As stated, this isn't my usual read, but it delivered. The book has a huge twist to it near the end that changes how you see everything. (I will not spoil it for you.) I read this book a few months ago for one of my book clubs, and the second club I run was reading it recently as well, so I gave it a second reading. It was even better the second time, since I knew the twist and was able to watch for the hints that had previously gone unnoticed.

If you are remotely interested in mysteries, thrillers, or books that trick you (in a good way), give this one a read.

~Cailey W.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

These Books Came Out Ten Years Ago! Read them yet? Pt. 2

Continuing our OMG! Ten Years Ago! list, here are some teen and children's selections released ten years ago. Have you read them? If not, there's still time! Lucky for you, our library has them all!

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Somehow I have trouble believing this is only ten years old! Seems like so long ago that this book series took over and vampires were popular again. If you haven't read it, I don't blame you, but maybe you can take a peek and what captivated so many.
The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
An awesomely creepy dystopian novel before The Hunger Games made dystopia popular, The Uglies is about a world in which, at sixteen, all people are operated on in order to conform to an ideal style of beauty. This one is worth the read for teens and adults alike.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Before John Green was "John Green, whoa" he wrote a little book called Looking for Alaska that was smart, funny, and relevant to the teen audience. It tells the story of a boy who becomes engrossed in the world of a girl called Alaska. His life is never the same. You just have to read it.
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
Apparently because Patterson wasn't popular enough with an adult audience, he introduced the world to his teen-friendly side with this book series all about normal teens who just so happen to fly. It is an action packed, somewhat fantastical series that has gained popularity over the years. Even if you don't like Patterson, you may enjoy this one!

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
The start of the series that became super popular! Percy Jackson is the son of a god, and is just now coming to realize what that means. He goes on an awe-inspiring quest to keep the gods from destroying the earth. This series is five books deep, with a spin-off series as well.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
The second-to-last book in the series. Can you believe this is ten years old?
Runny Babbit: a billy sook by Shel Silverstein
This was the final (posthumous) book by the amazing Shel Silverstein. A funny book that flops letters in order to create characters like Runny Babbit, Toe Jurtle, and Polly Dorkupine. A must-read for lovers of Silverstein's work.

Picture Books
If you Give a Pig a Party by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
From the author of If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, Numeroff teaches us that pigs throw pretty cool parties, but they'll need balloons, a new dress,
and all of their friends.
Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss
The second creepy-crawly creature's story (first being Diary of a Worm) does not disappoint. Spider has a very interesting life, being best friends with a fly, learning how to spin webs, and more.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

These Books Came Out Ten Years Ago! Read them yet? Pt. 1

So the interwebs is currently crawling with all of these "2005 was ten years ago!" type posts. I decided to look up which books came out ten years ago to add to the whole trend. You're welcome. So, if you haven't read them yet, there's still time. We won't judge (much).

Marley & Me by John Grogan
Okay, so it's a book about a man and his dog. It tells of the highs and lows of how this dog grows with the family. It is a must-read if you are an animal lover.
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt
This is one of those nonfiction books that is appealing to virtually everyone, and has gone through several reboots. It is the examination of all sorts of interesting topics by an economist. May not sound good, but it is a fascinating read and one that you should give a try to.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This best-selling memoir tells of the unconventional childhood and adolescence of Walls, and how she got through it all. It is at times funny, but frequently a sad tale. Very well-written and a memorable story.

Adult Fiction
The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
Jessie Sullivan is called home to help deal with the sudden problems her mother is causing, taking her outside of her comfort zone and away from her husband. While on the island with her mother, she begins to enjoy her freedom, and her life begins to change, for the better.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The children who attend Hailsham school are special students, but they do not know why or how. Years later, Kathy looks back on her childhood and what she's experienced. Beautifully written and not easily forgotten.

Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich
Ms. Evanovich is currently up to number twenty-one in this ever-popular Stephanie Plum mystery series. If you haven't caught up, now's the time. It doesn't look like there will be a new one this year.
Size 12 is not Fat by Meg Cabot
The first book in the Heather Wells mystery series, this book about an aging popstar-turned-RA-turned-detective is funny, original, yet still a satisfying mystery.

Keep an eye out for Thursday's continuation of this topic, with teens' and children's books!

~Cailey W.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

Happy New Year everyone! Wow, how time flies. I can’t believe that it’s already 2015! Sadly I didn’t get to read all of the books I was looking forward to last year. With that in mind, here are some of the releases from 2014 that slipped past me.

To be fair, I had been avoiding picking this up because a little birdie told me that Santa would be dropping it off for Christmas. Well that little birdie did not lie, and this is next on my “to read” shelf. Jude and Noah are twins who are incredibly close, but during their teen years their relationship begins to break down. Each twin only has half of the story, but they will need to complete it in order to rebuild their relationship.

I loved Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook so I was looking forward to reading his latest book. Bartholomew had spent his whole life living with his mother, and after her death he is struggles to cope. Following the advice of his grief counselor he reaches out to Richard Gere, believing there to be a connection between the two of them.

I stumbled across this book while searching for book covers illustrated by Jon Klassen and I was instantly intrigued. Ned loses his twin brother to a rafting accident and the people in his village are convinced that the wrong twin survived. As he grows older, his weak body and cautious attitude only further their belief, but he may be the only one who can protect his community and it’s magic from the Bandit King.

Miles suffers from Schizophrenia and while suffering from his first schizophrenic episode, his younger brother Teddy disappears. Miles becomes obsessed with locating his little brother. And while he may believe that he is getting better, he is only getting worse.

Marilyn and James Lee both had high hopes for their daughter Lydia. Marilyn dreamed that she would be a doctor and James hoped that she would be the life of the party. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake they must confront secrets that have been tearing them apart.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Finding Yourself in a Foreign Land

As Marilyn talked about earlier, this year saw the release of the absolutely wonderful comic series, Ms. Marvel. Starring a 16-year-old Pakistani-American teen, Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel has been incredibly important to many comic readers. Kamala is seen as a step in the right direction when it comes to making the comics industry a more diverse and inclusive space. A huge part of Ms. Marvel’s success can be attributed to series author, G. Willow Wilson, who has created a vibrant character with a distinct personality in just ten issues. Kamala Khan, it’s worth noting, was co-created by Wilson and comics editor Sana Amanat. (Amanat, probably the only female, South Asian comics editor, gave a great TED Talk about the importance of superheroes in encouraging us to be more accepting). So I was elated to discover Wilson has also written two books - one of which is the best book I read last year.

The Butterfly Mosque (2010) is actually Wilson’s memoir of her time living in Cairo and her eventual conversion to Islam. Other memoirs I’ve read often involve Americans travelling to Middle Eastern countries and, upon seeing poverty and injustice, do what they can to make change. That’s not inherently bad, but it was refreshing to see Wilson respond to a foreign culture by actually wanting to fit in. In fact, what I appreciated most about Wilson’s story was the effort she put in to assimilate into Egyptian society.

Incidentally, the idea of “the tourist” becoming “the traveler” through assimilation was the philosophy of famed American expatriate and author, Paul Bowles who spent the majority of his life living in North Africa. As he once put it, “one belongs to the whole world, not just one part of it.” But that’s neither here nor there.

The Butterfly Mosque chronicles Wilson’s struggles, successes, and the challenges she faces each and every day. The book is surprisingly romantic (the Egyptian man she meets during her first week in the country would soon become her husband) and unexpectedly humorous (Egyptian bureaucracy!).

In The Butterfly Mosque, Wilson paints an engaging picture of a young woman coming to terms with choices she makes that will forever impact her future. They’re not easy decisions, but Wilson writes with such a gentle, yet assured voice you can’t help be drawn into her story. I look forward to following Wilson’s continued work with Marvel Comics and I think I’ll enjoy Ms. Marvel even more having learned a little bit about her creator.

If you like The Butterfly Mosque, you might also like Firoozeh DumasFunny in Farsi.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Librarians' Line-Up: Best books we read in 2014

As we begin 2015, we're reflecting on our favorites from 2014. We are an eclectic readership, so hopefully there's something for everybody here!

The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
My favorite book I read in 2014 was Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore. This book, which is a mash-up on The Merchant of Venice, The Tragedy of Othello, "The Cask of Amontillado." It is also a sort-of sequel to Moore's earlier book, Fool. It's rare that a book be so smart and funny. It was well-written, filled with literary references, and hilarious. Even if you aren't familiar with the Shakespeare plays (and Poe story) it is loosely based on, this book is awesome.
~Cailey W.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie 
This is the best Sci-Fi novel that I’ve read in years (at least that wasn’t written by Charles Stross). Lots of really interesting stuff about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and different cultures, and multiple overlapping storylines. And lots of stuff blows up, which is essential in good science fiction.
~John F.

My favorite book this year was G. Willow Wilson’s 2010 memoir, The Butterfly Mosque. Wilson tells her story of moving from the USA to Cairo and converting to Islam. It’s an incredibly thoughtful book and, as it turns out, I had a lot of feelings about it, so this blurb turned into a full blown review, coming soon. 
~Meredith T.
The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
Earlier this year I put The Shadow Hero on my Summer TBR list, and I loved it. While it may not have been the most thought-provoking book I read this year, I kept returning to it in between reading other books. It tells the story of Hank, a powerless shop boy who is pushed into super heroism by his well-intended but overbearing mother. He trains in martial arts and eventually becomes The Green Turtle, the first Asian American superhero.

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews
My favorite book of 2014 was "Burn for Me" by Ilona Andrews.  This is the beginning of a new series by my favorite authors - Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife writing team. It is a very entertaining and engaging paranormal romance featuring magic users... and a slow-burn romance. A great, quick, fun read.
~Mary P.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
I think I'll have to go with Station Eleven as my favorite--so much so that it compelled me to write a post about it. But I also have to say that I'm reading Harry Potter again, and I'll tell you it's just as good the third time around!
~Amanda D.

Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up by Grace Helbig
Anyone who is an avid YouTube viewer like me has likely heard of the hilarious vlogger Grace Helbig.  Much to my delight, Grace published a book this year called Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up.  Full of personal anecdotes detailing Grace’s many misadventures, this book is a sidesplitting must-read for millennials.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Contemporary gothic fiction is one of my favorite genres and The Thirteenth Tale is a great example of it.  When Margaret receives a letter from the famous author Vida Winter requesting Margaret to listen to and record the details of her mysterious childhood, she reluctantly accepts. The book jumps between the time in which Margaret is listening to the story while simultaneously dealing with her own personal tragedies, and the true story of Vida Winters past. Both taking place in old estates, the book is full of mystery, ghosts, and family secrets. There is a lot of backstory in the first part of the novel so the plot builds slowly, but I am happy that I stuck with it because it turned out to be a beautiful and heartbreaking story about the love between siblings, childhood trauma, and being forced to grow up too fast.

This book taught me not to judge books by their genre! Although this is a science fiction (stress on science) novel, it was the perfect combination of humor, science, survival, and character building all set at a speedy pace. I was surprised at how hilarious the main character could be and I thought the story was incredibly interesting and fun.
~Kristin M.

And what about you? What was your favorite book in 2014??

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Reading Goals 2015: The Year of Quality!

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! As we prepare for the new year, we're discussing our reading goals for 2015. This may be more than 10 (or less, depending on how you look at it). Enjoy!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

Reading Goals 2015: The Year of Quality!

I read a whole lot of books in 2014, but I started feeling a little guilty when I realized I hadn’t read a lot of literary books. Now I’m a book snob, but I’m not the type to only read the most literary of books with difficult language and complex themes. Those books are hard to read! But it’s important to challenge oneself, so I will be reading books that have pushed the limits, tried new things, and are notable.
Here is a listing of what I’m thinking:

Read Award Winners (such as):
Americanah by Chimamand Ngozi Adichie (National Book Critics Circle Award, 2013)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (Orange Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award, 2001)
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (PEN/Faulkner Award, 1995)
Redeployment by Phil Klay (National Book Award, 2014)
Modern Classics (such as):
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

But what’s a year without some fun! Reading is a way for me to escape the drudgery, so I’ll always pick up a book that’s just for fun. Here are some new releases I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on next year:
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. I will proudly tote this book along with me because Ishiguro’s past books Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go are modern masterpieces. He has a nostalgic and weighty way of writing. I’m looking forward to reading his newest release about a couple on the search for a son they haven’t seen in years.
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen. Although I’ve only read one other of Allen’s books, I’m excited for this continuation of the Waverley family’s tales. Allen writes magical realism books that give you just a hint of magic within our reality and they’re usually the kind of books you want to hug and snuggle up with while drinking apple cider. They’re a delight.
The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell. The sequel to Shadow on the Crown, this series is about the 11th century Queen Emma who came from Normandy to marry a Saxon king. I enjoyed the time period and Emma as a main character and I’m curious to see what happens to her in the next couple of books! (See my review of the first book here.)

And of course:
Re-Read the Harry Potter series. Then watch all the movies!!!

Do you have any reading goals for 2015?

~Kristin M.