April Staff Picks–Special Edition!

New Staff Picks

This year’s National Library Week was April 6th-13th, and Camden Public Library launched its Campaign for the Future–it’s a fundraising effort to ensure that our library will be here, offering the same wonderful services, for another century and beyond.  Learn more here!

In honor of National Library Week, here are some of our staff favorites about reading and libraries!

Marie: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  A lot of the action in this lush, atmospheric novel about Vlad the Impaler happens in libraries, and books and academia play a huge role in the mystery.  I love to re-read this one, it’s just as absorbing with every read!

Mary: I have two books to recommend!

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. A charming story about Monsieur Perdu who has created a floating bookstore on a barge in Paris. He calls himself a literary apothecary  because after listening to a person for a bit, he can pick out the exact book to heal that person’s broken spirit. Unfortunately he cannot heal his own broken heart until he finally opens the letter left for him by his one true love, spurring him to pull up anchor and sail for the south of France.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.  Clay Jannon has lost his job as a web developer and lands a job working nights at a bookstore based on the fact that he can climb a ladder. During his nightly duties, various people come in repeatedly to return obscure books and pick up more volumes as they attempt to solve some sort of puzzle. Clay’s curiosity leads him to explore the secrets of the store, what kind of code or secret they are trying to solve and who is the mysterious Mr. Penumbra. Clay soon finds himself breaking into secret societies and enlisting his computer friends to help him solve the puzzle.A very interesting read.

Sandra: Well, I am into a 4th book continuing the The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness  – titled Time’s Convert.  It goes back into the history of de Claremont family,  and at the same time extends further into the present lives of Matthew and Diana de Clairmont. Needless to say, the author has a marvelous way of storytelling that has drawn me in!!!   I love borrowing from the libraries because even though the checkout limits can be frustrating,….I have to finish the books….rather than having them sit on my Kindle list waiting for me!!

 

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Marie’s Celebrating: Halfway to Halloween!

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Horror Month is only half a year away!  Time to get started on the creepy reads so that I can share them with you come October!

A great place to start is with this year’s Stoker Award nominees.  The Bram Stoker Award is given by the Horror Writers Association, and celebrates excellence across eleven different categories of horror writing.

You can find the list of nominees here:  http://www.thebramstokerawards.com/front-page/announcing-the-2018-bram-stoker-awards-final-ballot/

Heredity (Hereditary.  I was so terrified I typed it wrongwhich I have been too scared by the trailer to see, is up for Superior Achievement in a ScreenplayTwo picks from this past Halloween, Unbury Carol and The Cabin at the End of the World are both nominated, as is Zoje Stage’s Baby Teeth, which I loved but was so the wrong thing to read as a new mom.

I’m looking forward to picking up The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste and The Moore House by Tony Tremblay.

If you’re going to be in Grand Rapids, Michigan this May, you can attend StokerCon and see the awards in person.  Josh Malerman and Jonathan Maberry will be there!  http://stokercon2019.org/

 

–Marie

March Staff Picks

New Staff Picks

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Korede always cleans up her younger sister Ayoola’s messes.  It’s her job as the older sibling to protect her sister.  Ayoola has a habit of murdering her boyfriends, and Korede is always there to cover for her.  When Ayoola sets her sights on the man Korede is in love with, however, Korede isn’t sure she can protect her sister any longer.  This is a darkly funny and slightly disturbing tale of sibling rivalry.  The prose is spare but the characters shine.
–Marie

Marie’s Reading More Than She Appears to Be!

I haven’t shared a book with you in over a month!  A shame, because I’ve been reading some good ones:

18611861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart
I’ve been telling everyone about this engaging and timely examination of the cultural moment in the United States just before the Civil War.  What was the political situation like?  How did people really feel about the pressing issues of the day?  I found a lot of parallels between 1861 and today, which is both comforting and frightening.  A really great read!

 

LookerLooker by Laura Sims
Our narrator lives next door to a famous actress.  Our narrator has just been through a messy divorce and is sort of obsessed with the actress.  Our narrator is bonkers. Taut and disturbing, but not without some dark humor!  For fans of The Woman Upstairs, The Woman in the Window, and A Kind of Intimacy.

 

 

 

kitchenKitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food by Ann Hood
I really like what I think of as “cozy food writing.”  The kind where the author talks about their families and the people they cook for, the food they grew up with, and the dishes that strike an emotional cord for them.  Hood delivers all of this in Kitchen Yarns, alongside wonderful descriptions of food and cooking.

 

 

Not bad for a month’s work.  My apologies for not keeping up with blogging about them!

–Marie

 

 

February Staff Picks

Wear-1

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
A fictional account of Mary Anning and her discoveries of fossilized skeletons along the English Coast.  The science-focused part of the story once again shows how a woman was discounted for her discoveries of new species, while men took the credit for her work.  The other plot deals with Anning’s friendship with Elizabeth Philpot.  As far as the development of their friendship, the author takes the reader through the gamut of emotions as the two women work their way around differences in class, age and education. Great book. (It was interesting that a few weeks later I read The Essex Serpent, where Mary Anning gets mentioned by the main character who strives to find something new.)
–Mary

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
It is a wonderful read, and this book has already been made into a movie series. We are watching Season One now, with Season two to be out in April on Amazon or other streams, a Sundance production.

It is a historical/romance/drama/fiction all rolled into one. It’s 400+ pages but an excellent exciting read about 21st century witches, daemons and vampires trying to find their origins in order to survive.
–Sandra

The Girls by Emma Cline
This novel is a thinly veiled retelling of the Manson family and murders.  Evie, who was a teenager the summer she fell in with a group of girls at a ranch in California, reflects on her time there as a middle-aged woman.  What’s so affecting about this novel is how spot-on Cline is with the experience of being a girl–the expectations and grievances, the assaults and pressures, the attempts to find oneself.  It’s got a compelling style and a strong sense of character in Evie.
–Marie

Marie’s Reading: “All Systems Red” by Martha Wells

all systems redAll Systems Red tells the story of a semi-organic security bot protecting a group of humans who are exploring a planet.  The SecUnit, who calls itself a “Murderbot” (due to its own unfortunate backstory) has hacked its own system so that it can act independently and not suffer punishments.  Most of its independent action consists of watching hours and hours of soap operas on its entertainment feed and trying to avoid interactions with humans.  But when a mysterious force threatens the humans, Murderbot reluctantly goes to help save the day.

I loved the first-person voice of the Murderbot.  It is snarky and funny, but also touching in its discomfort and other-ness.  Over and over again the Murderbot insists it does not care, wants to be left alone, etc., and yet its actions speak to how much it values the humans it sees as its duty.  The fact that Murderbot changes over the course of the story and makes a big decision for itself at the end speaks to its true character.

Wells uses the Murderbot to discuss identity, consciousness, and the definition of humanity, all wrapped up in a neat sci-fi adventure story with a complex and interesting central character.  Her world-building is subtle and puts you right in the middle of the action, without a lot of exposition.

This novella is the first in The Murderbot Diaries series, and I’m really looking forward to the next one!

–Marie

Marie’s Reading: “Between, Georgia” by Joshilyn Jackson

between georgiaNonny is used to being in the middle.  Her birth mother was a Crabtree (low-class, prone to violence, owners of Dobermans and scary Alabama relatives), but she was adopted by the Fretts (solid middle-class, reined-in, icy types, prone to their own kind of violence).  The tiny town of Between is barely big enough for these two sparring clans.

When Nonny’s aunt is attacked by one of the Crabtree dogs, a whole new cycle of feuding is set off.  This time it could be deadly.  Nonny, herself in the middle of a divorce, finds herself back in Between (and in between) once again.

Whenever I’m in the mood for a novel with a solid story, a great sense of place, and robust characters, I go for Jackson’s work.  She writes relationships extremely well, particularly between women in a family–she has real insight into the dynamics of sisters, mothers and daughters, and grandmothers and their grandkids.

The Frett sisters, who raised Nonny, really are forces–stolid, judgmental but loyal Bernese, anxious and fretful Genny, and kind and artistic Stacia, the one who raised Nonny.  Stacia is deaf and blind, as well, adding another layer to her relationship to her family and her art.  Ona Crabtree, Nonny’s blood grandmother, comes across as damaged and brittle and not very nice, but she’s still got a basic humanity.  As becomes clear over the course of the story, these women have more in common than they like to believe.

The Southern setting is great as well.  It feels as though these characters, though recognizable small-town types, couldn’t live anywhere else.  And of course the town is a character all on its own, just as Southern as its people.  There’s a sort of earthy fierceness beneath a veneer of gentility that’s just so distinct to the South, along with a strong sense of family.  This story would be very different if set among we stoic, independent, chilly New Englanders, for instance.

This really is a novel to read for the characters and the setting.  The plots do all wrap up nicely and there are some revelations and tragedy, but I found the enjoyable storyline second to everything else.

If you’re after the same sort of read I was–one with great characters, a good story, and a strong setting, all told in laidback, very natural prose–give this one a look!

–Marie