Posted in Staff Picks

July Staff Picks

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The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
This book is so much fun!  A story within a story, with a mystery in each.  I was amazed at Horowitz’s ability to click the myriad interlocking pieces into place.  He unwinds his tale with wit and humor and numerous nods to classic whodunits, all the while giving the reader real mysteries to unravel.  (Now I’ve got to read Moriarity and House of Silk.)
–Diane

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
A group of teen detectives are all grown up, and are all very damaged.  They have to go back to the scene of their last big case to solve the mystery for good.  This is so clever, scary, and hilarious–it’s zany and perfect, somehow exactly like reading a cartoon!  It’s a mash-up of Scooby Doo and Lovecraft, and it’s just as ridiculous and entertaining as it sounds.
–Marie

Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres
Has some of the most beautiful chapters I have ever read. The book is about a village on the coast of Turkey in the dying days of the Ottoman empire; the village is idyllic, the Greek Christians and Turkish Muslims live in peace. The potter laments, after the Christians are all driven into exile, that the village is never again as happy or as lively. The epic carnage is heavily foreshadowed in the book; the players on the international stage are slaughtering each each other, and the troubles eventually reaches our sweet village on the coast. The book gives insight into the the history of the whole troubled region. Almost as good a book as de Berniere’s Corelli’s Mandolin.
–Ken

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
A good read about “big data”! The author has access to Google searches — not the answers, just the text of the searches. And the amount of data is so huge, he can draw pretty precise conclusions. He uses a lot of novel and clever methods to tease information out of the data for insights into everything from economics to ethics and to race, sex, gender, and more.
–Ken

 

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Posted in Booklists

TBR Challenge 2017 Update #7

I’m back from vacation!  It was incredibly restful and already feels as if it happened months ago.  I even managed to get most of the books I had on my list read!

From the TBR List:

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.  I really hadn’t read this!  Tom is a totally amoral semi-con-man who is sent to Italy to bring back Dickie Greenleaf, at his father’s request.  Eventually, Tom decides he wants to be Dickie, and will do anything he needs to do to meet this goal.  The slow build is great, and there’s an undercurrent of unease to up the suspense.  A nice reminder to not get into boats with weirdos!  Trust your instincts!

Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories by Lauren Groff.  I really enjoyed her novel The Monsters of Templeton, so I wanted to try her short stories.  Groff’s writing is lyrical and detailed.  Just about every story is about troubled love, in one way or another–between married couples, between lovers, between friends.  And each one has its own tone and style and feel.  I especially liked Lucky Chow Fun (set in Templeton, the setting for her first novel) and The Dictator’s Wife.

Meddling Kids by Edgar CanteroI skipped to the front end of the TBR list for this one.  Clever, scary, and hilarious–check back at Halloween for more!

The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill.  This mystery is going to get a post all to itself.  Stay tuned!

I think I’ve been thoughtlessly adding titles to my GoodReads to-read list for book club and such, because now I’ve got 755 books on the list.  I’ve completely lost track of how I’m doing, but that doesn’t matter!  I’m reading titles I’ve been meaning to get to, and that’s what counts.

–Marie

Posted in Booklists

Marie’s Vacation Reading List

My yearly vacation is coming up next week.  You know what that means!

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Just sub “books” for “tv.”  (eh, who am I kidding, however great the books, the fifth season of Deep Space Nine isn’t going to watch itself)

This year is a stay-cation, where I intend to read books, lounge around, and take full advantage of any beautiful weather that might come my way for trips to lakes and beaches.

Here are the books I’ll be toting along:

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandria by Helen Rappaport.  This is for my book club, and it’s an affecting read.  There’s such a melancholy cast to this examination of the Romanov sisters, because it’s impossible to forget how their lives ended.  But still, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the family.  I’m about half-way through it right now.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  This is a novel about a girl whose parents are drug dealers, and her deepest connection is to her older brother.  I’ve been meaning to read this for ages!

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero.  A novel all about a crack team of kid detectives who grow up and have lots of issues.  They have to go back and uncover exactly what happened the night they solved their last case.  It looks fun and spooky and meta, and I’m looking forward to it.

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach.  This is a novel about a boy named Ivan, who’s spent his whole life in long-term care in Belarus.  He falls in love with a new patient at the hospital.  It sounds like it should be strange and melancholy, and maybe hopeful, which is always a good mix.

See you when I get back!

–Marie

 

 

Posted in Book Challenge

TBR Challenge 2017 Update #6

Just a short one today, for the official “It’s Fourth of July Week in Camden and I’m Exhausted” edition.  I’ve managed to read three novels from my TBR list since last I updated.  And here they are:

Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice.  What an odd yet touching little book.  It’s about a family of opal miners in Australia.  The daughter of the family has two imaginary friends, and everyone is very indulgent about them.  One day the imaginary friends go missing, and the little girl becomes very ill.  Her brother decides that he’s going to find them for her, and is convinced that his sister will recover as soon as he does.  It’s the kind of story where you get the feeling that a lot is happening in the background.

The Gilly Salt Sisters by Tiffany Baker.  A solid story of a very small Massachusetts town and the different people who live there, with a focus on the Gilly sisters, whose family has always owned a salt marsh on the edge of town.  There’s just the merest hint of something magical, but mostly it’s a story about secrets and forgiveness.

Deception by Denise Mina. A compelling thriller!  The husband of a psychologist arrested for murder sets out to figure out what exactly happened.  It’s fast and has a great narrator, and I like the open-ended wrong-footed feeling the story inspires.

I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for next off the list.  Some classic spine-tinglers?  More tales of sad people in small towns?  Some weird-sounding stuff that I don’t know where I heard about it?

Or, is it possible I have not actually read Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley?  Goodreads says I haven’t.  Seems strange, but if it’s on the internet it must be true.  I’ll pick that one up next.

Happy Fourth, American readers!

–Marie

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Marie’s Reading: “My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues” by Pamela Paul

my life with bobReading books about reading books always makes me want to read more books.

Like Paul, I keep a journal of the books I’ve read.  I use it to record first impressions, jot down personal reactions, and sometimes the titles of similar books, or names of similar authors.  Often these entries are the foundation for my blog posts here at the Readers’ Corner.  I’ve kept such a journal since just after high school, when a friend gave me a little reading journal for my birthday.

So, in short, Pamela Paul and I have a bit in common.  The “Bob” of the title is Paul’s “Book of Books,” a notebook she’s kept for years where she writes down the titles of every book that she’s read.  She uses Bob as a starting point to discuss her childhood as a bookish kid, her college years, her travels, and then her work and relationships, all tracked with the books she was reading at the time.

My Life with Bob is a love letter to the reading life, an examination of the intimate relationship between book and reader.  It’s a bookish coming-of-age, with so many great quotes about the power of reading and stories (I keep a commonplace book as well as reading journals, and I wrote down several passages from this book).

Those who identify as “book people” will find a kindred spirit in Paul.  Or at least I did.  I had that extremely common reading experience where, at times, I was convinced that Paul was writing just for me, sharing my exact experiences, in essence if not particulars.  Her tone is confessional and friendly, a fellow reader sharing her insights and anecdotes and favorites with you.

If you enjoy Michael Dirda’s work, or just enjoy books about the reading life, definitely give this a look!

–Marie

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Marie’s Reading: “The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” by Hannah Tinti

twelve livesLoo and her dad have lived an unsettled life.  Always moving from place to place.  Loo’s dad, Hawley, has a mysterious past, represented by twelve different scars all over his body–all from bullets.  At last, when Loo is a teenager, she and her father settle in Loo’s late mother’s hometown in Massachusetts.  It’s not an easy adjustment, however–Loo has a lot to learn about navigating the world, and she also has to confront the not-so-warm welcome she and her father get in Olympus.

The story goes back and forth in time.  One part of the book focuses on Loo trying to get her footing in her new town, and her attempts to uncover her family’s secrets.  The novel also explores her father’s criminal past, one chapter for each bullet he took.  Tinti structures the novel very well.  The past sections are interspersed at precise moments in the story to either illuminate or to underscore what’s happening in the present.  And when the past finally catches up toward the novel’s climax, the storylines merge.

I really enjoyed Loo as a character.  She’s tough and maladjusted, as you’d expect.  Yet her relationship with her father is the absolute center of her universe, for good and bad.  The revelation of his past misdeeds seems to come as no surprise to her, and certainly doesn’t shock her.  Instead, there’s the sense that there’s a new depth and understanding between them.  As the story unfolds you realize that Loo and her dad are deeply flawed and not entirely sympathetic–but at least they’re deeply flawed together.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is a great mix of coming of age tale, crime story, and exploration of a father/daughter relationship.  Tinti’s style is very descriptive, and she puts together scenes for maximum effect–whether it’s thrilling, frightening, or, sometimes, sweet.  The sense of place is amazing, whether describing a shootout at a hotel or the woods of New England.  If you like gritty books where characters aren’t always good but have their own brand of morality, you might enjoy this one.  Fans of Donald Ray Pollock should take a look, too!

–Marie