Posted in Staff Picks, Uncategorized

June Staff Picks!

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Every librarian here at CPL has great suggestions for your reading pleasure.  We all read different genres and have different tastes, so you’ll have a rich and varied list to choose from every month.

Below are our Staff Picks for June!

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Amani is a girl from the sands in the guise of a boy.  Why?  She wants to be free; free from being someone else’s property, free to do as she pleases, free to shoot in the competitions, free to speak her own thoughts, free of Dustwalk. After meeting Jin, a handsome foreigner, and taming an immortal being, she becomes caught up in his secrets, his revolution, his war.  The Sultan’s forces are using people and the Gallan forces are toying with everyone, no questions asked and people are starving and dying.  Action packed, great characters and a 2017-2018 MSBA nominee. –-Amy

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A stunning, gothic mystery of twins, ghosts, and the hauntings of a badly damaged family. Counterbalancing the spooky side is a wholesome dose of antiquarian bookshops, doting fathers, delightful new friends, and a wonderful cast of leading ladies. Highly recommended on audio.  —Cayla

How to Talk to Anyone : 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes
Don’t judge the book by its title! While it may sound like a dry bullet point list of talking points for executives, this book is for everyone, and the advice can be applied to personal and professional interactions. How To Talk To Anyone is about relationships – your colleagues, your spouse, a first date, a stranger at a party, your dentist’s office receptionist – and the techniques introduced here can be applied in different measures to all. The book features a numbered list format, with each “little trick” featuring an example of how the technique can be used. Sometimes these stories sound a bit contrived, but they are effective in making a bullet point into a vivid and memorable illustration. There were some outdated references to technology – “a phone recording machine”, as well as some outdated terminology and slang in general, but surely anyone can take something helpful away from the 92 points in this book. My personal favorite – how to receive a compliment with grace whether you agree with it or not, “That’s very kind of you to say!” I am going to test that one out right now. Did you like my review? “That’s very kind of you to say!” Now doesn’t that make you feel special right back? —Olga

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
A 2013 non-fiction book about the rowing team from Seattle who won the 1936 Olympics. The book concentrates on the hardships of one particular team member. I really enjoyed the very descriptive narrative of this nonfiction tale, at times his descriptive style reminded me of some of the passages in David McCullough’s books. –Mary

A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume
A young artist named Frankie who finds herself unable to cope with life holes up at her late grandmother’s bungalow.  The language is beautiful and spare, very introspective.  It’s a character-centered story, following Frankie as she examines her present depression and anxiety.  Lovely lyrical, insightful writing about painful subjects. Marie

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve & Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
I recently read two new novels by popular authors with ties to Maine:  Anita Shreve’s The Stars Are Fire and Elizabeth Strout’s Anything Is Possible.  I don’t recall having read anything by Shreve, but this novel shows me why she is so beloved: she is a fine storyteller.  On the other hand, I’ve read all of Strout’s novels, and I always come away touched and dazzled—touched by the way she captures emotions and human connections and dazzled by the precision and originality of her prose.  (Just a heads-up: Although Anything Is Possible is not really a sequel to My Name Is Lucy Barton, there are multiple connections to the earlier book, so you might want to read  Lucy Barton first—also a beautiful book.) –Diane

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Marie’s Reading: “All Our Wrong Todays” by Elan Mastai

274050062016 wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Tom knows.  He’s from the way the future is supposed to be: a techno-utopia free of want and war, where all material needs are provided for and the only industry left is entertainment.  However, his life kind of stinks.  His mother is dead and his father is a jerk, and Tom himself is a hopeless schmuck.  It’s down to his really, really stupid decision to go back to the past that history changed, the technology never materialized, and the world is what we’re used to.

And wouldn’t you know: Tom’s life in the wrong 2016 is awesome.  Much better than what he left behind.  Swiftly his dilemma becomes whether his wonderful family and life are worth the countless billions who were erased and the society that never was.

Like the best science fiction, All Our Wrong Todays has plenty of social commentary and ethical questions. But it’s such a refreshing change from dystopian fiction.  Particularly since, in this book, the reality that we know is the dystopia.  We have to kill plants and animals for food.  There’s pollution everywhere and we just keep making more.  Every technology we invent seems to do more harm than good, despite our best efforts.  Tom is shocked when he sees the conditions of our 2016.  Even though his world had problems, they were not on so grand a scale.

Tom is a great narrator, a totally directionless screw-up who seems incapable of changing.  Endlessly self-involved and self-deprecating, Tom’s emotional and personal arc over the course of the story is a rewarding one.  He finds himself cast in the role of hero by the end of the story, commenting on the fact that he suddenly  has a purpose and a duty.  Besides, he’s pretty funny, so that helps the narrative along.

I also really appreciated the optimistic ending.  The future (and the present) is what we make it.  It can be whatever we choose.  We should make sure we choose well.

All Our Wrong Todays is funny and smart, action-packed and cinematic.  It’s also a slightly mind-bending romp through alternate realities and the fabric of time and space.

The Martian by Andy Weir would be a great readalike for this, as would Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.  If you like the humor and cinematic writing style, you could try The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn.  You could also try The Man In the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell, about a selfish time-traveler who has to solve his own murder.

–Marie

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2016 Top Books!

One of our regulars just came in and asked if there’s any way to tell online which books get checked out the most at the library in a given year.  I realized that yes, there is, and it’s here on the blog, because I run the numbers and then post them here.

Except this year I forgot.  Whoops.

And then I forgot again.  For two weeks.

Thank you, Library Regular, for asking about our top circulated titles, and inadvertently reminding me that I’m the one who posts them.  Heh.

Below, please find at long last the (Belated) Most-Read Adult Fiction for 2016!

2016 Most-Read Fiction Titles

The Crossing by Michael Connelly
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Scandalous Behavior by Stuart Woods
by Sue Grafton
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
After You by JoJo Moyes
Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
Blood Salt Water by Denise Mina

 

 

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Marie’s Currently Reading…Blizzard Edition!

As most of you have probably  heard, there’s a blizzard on the way to Maine tonight.  CRIPPLING, you guys.  It’s going to be CRIPPLING: http://haggett.bangordailynews.com/2017/02/12/home/crippling-blizzard-on-the-way-for-coastal-and-interior-maine-2/

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I’ll do my level best not to go insane.  No promises.

Tomorrow is looking like a wash.  A whitewash.  We’ve called a closure already here at the library, because…seriously, CRIPPLING BLIZZARD, guys.   In between shoveling out our driveway from the snowdrifts and baking brownies and praying that the power stays on, I’ve got lots of great books on the go for tomorrow’s snowstorm!

Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air by Richard Holmes–a history of hot air ballooning!  There’s something incredibly inspiring about the early aeronauts and their quest to take to the air.  Balloonists were showmen, scientists, adventurers, and everything in between.

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart–fun, rollicking historical fiction with a fascinating lead and some cracking good dialogue.  It’s about a woman named Constance Kopp, who was one of the first deputy sheriffs in America.

The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stewart–this is a witty and very entertaining novel about a barber in a small French village.  When he starts losing clients due to baldness, he decides that he’ll become the village matchmaker instead.  It’s clever and cozy but not twee.

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon–I need at least one thriller on standby.  An alcoholic journalist tries to redeem her life and career by taking on an unsolved case.

Not a bad set of companions for the day.  Apart from Snow Shovel, of course, who I’ll be seeing a lot of.  I hope you’re all holed up somewhere snug and safe tomorrow!

–Marie

 

 

 

 

Posted in Booklists, Uncategorized

Marie’s Not Reading This: Holiday Edition!

…holiday in that the holidays are swiftly approaching and my cookie-laden brain can only handle Christmas specials, not that these are holiday books.

I’ve got a bookmark in quite a few titles right now, but nothing at the point where I can write about it.  So here’s what’s on my coffee table/in my bookbag:

Mischling by Affinity Konar (so tough to read but so so good)

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis (fans of Daniel Woodrell and Cormac McCarthy take note!)

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (it is time to finally read past the first few pages of this!)

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (haven’t started this yet, but I’m so excited for it–it’s been on a ton of best of 2016 lists)

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (thank you NPR Book Concierge for alerting me to the existence of this new biography!)

Not so long as other lists in this category!  Also, in looking over these titles, I realize I’ve made a rookie mistake in my reading choices.  Winter is not the time for sad/upsetting/bleak/generally heavy reads. No wonder I’m dragging my feet and reaching for Bill Bryson and Terry Pratchett.

I’m going to go home to eat candy and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I’ll grapple with this list another day.

–Marie

Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Marie’s Reading About Animals!

Birds and cats, to be precise.  My favorites!

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The Lion in the Living Room: How Housecats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker focuses on the unlikely association between cats and humans.   Housecats aren’t “domesticated” the way dogs and other animals are.  Cats make a deliberate decision to stick with humans, and humans keep these fuzzy little hypercarnivores as cherished pets.  This book discusses how, on an evolutionary and ecological level, how truly bizarre this is.  It’s also a wonderful capsule biological history of the cat.  It’s also extremely fun and extremely readable.

one-wild-bird

One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives by Bernd Heinrich is armchair bird-watching at its best.  Heinrich is a fantastic nature writer, and the narrative is enlivened by his sketches of birds.  He lives in a cabin in the Maine woods and interacts with his bird neighbors both as scientist and observer. One review I saw called Heinrich’s work “hands and knees” science, and that’s a great way to put it.  But it’s also enjoyable because these birds really are Heinrich’s neighbors, the same way I feel about the chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, and goldfinches who are regular visitors to my backyard feeder (I am particularly partial to the chickadees).

I’ll be honest with you and say that I’m still in the middle of both of these books.  But given how slowly I read even slim volumes of nonfiction like these, I thought it prudent to go ahead and share now.

–Marie

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Thus ends another Horror Month, fellow Halloweenies.  Today’s the big day!

But it’s not too late!  We’ve still got a display chock-full of scary reads, and a full cauldron of candy so that you can soar on the wings of sugar into your Halloween night.

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click this picture for a sugar-frosted fright
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I feel like this post needs something else.  Something Halloweeny, but not too scary.  Something frenetic, with crazy visuals.  I’ve got no other ideas but this.  Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!