June Staff Pick: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

After a month off from staff picks, we’re back in June with one from Meghan!


Lost LakeLOST LAKE by Sarah Addison Allen

Kate has been lingering in a fog throughout the year since her husband died, and it is only when her manipulative mother-in-law threatens to hijack her life that Kate begins to snap to. When her wardrobe-challenged eight-year-old daughter, Devin, discovers an old letter from Kate’s great-aunt Eby, the pair go on the lam to Lost Lake, Eby’s dilapidated resort camp tucked deep in the south Georgia swamplands. Long widowed, with dwindling funds and a diminishing guest roster, Eby may be forced to sell her fading haven to an unscrupulous developer, until Kate’s arrival gives her a new lease on life.

When talking about why she liked this book, Meghan said,

I love Sarah Addison Allen’s books because of their atmosphere, magical realism, and pleasurable endings.

If this sounds like a story you’d enjoy reading too, be sure to click the title above to request a copy. It is also available as an audiobook. Book description from Booklist, copyright 2010.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


All the Light We Cannot SeeAnthony Doerr
‘s latest book, All The Light We Cannot See, tells the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France during World War II. The novel was ten years in the writing and highly anticipated. If you haven’t placed a hold for it and would like to, take a look at it in our catalog and request it here.

In the meantime, here are five similar books to tide you over until you can get your hands on it:


STONES FROM THE RIVER by Ursula Hegi

Follows Trudi Montag, a dwarf who serves as her town’s librarian, unofficial historian, and recorder of the secret stories of her people, in a novel that charts the course of German history in the first half of the twentieth century. This book is also stylistically complex and describes the challenges that the characters surmount to survive the Second World War.


JACOB’S OATH by Martin Fletcher

As World War II winds to a close, Europe’s roads are clogged with twenty million exhausted refugees walking home. Among them are Jacob and Sarah, lonely Holocaust survivors who meet in Heidelberg. But Jacob is consumed with hatred and cannot rest until he has killed his brother’s murderer, a concentration camp guard nicknamed “The Rat.” Now he must choose between revenge and love, between avenging the past and building a future. This book is also atmospheric and depicts the brutality of the War, with characters experiencing its emotional and psychological effects.


THE ENGLISH PATIENT by Michael Ondaatje

With unsettling beauty and intelligence, Michael Ondaatje’s Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of World War II. The nurse Hana obsessively tends to her last surviving patient. Caravaggio, the thief, tries to reimagine who he is, now that his hands are hopelessly maimed. The Indian sapper Kip searches for hidden bombs in a landscape where nothing is safe but himself. And at the center of his labyrinth lies the English patient, nameless and hideously burned, a man who is both a riddle and a provocation to his companions-and whose memories of suffering, rescue, and betrayal illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning. This moving, stylistically complex novel is similar in that it reflects on the brutality of World War II and its lingering effects.


SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay

Sarah, a ten-year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard-their secret hiding place-and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released. Sixty Years Later: Sarah’s story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to questions about her own future. This book is moving and lyrical, and gives a perspective of family relationships in the desperate times of World War II.


THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE by Julie Orringer

Paris, 1937. Andras Lévi, a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he promised to deliver. But when he falls into a complicated relationship with the letter’s recipient, he becomes privy to a secret that will alter the course of his-and his family’s-history. From the small Hungarian town of Konyár to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the despair of Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in labor camps, The Invisible Bridge tells the story of a family shattered and remade in history’s darkest hour.

Click the titles to visit our online catalog and place a request for any of these books. Descriptions and cover images are from the library online catalog, descriptors of how these books are similar to All The Light We Cannot See are from Novelist.

April Staff Pick: Assassination Vacation

For our April Staff Pick, which comes a little later in the month, let’s look at a recommendation from Emily (who, for full disclosure, is me…since referring to myself in the third person just felt weird).


Assassination VacationAssassination Vacation,
 by Sarah Vowell
, is an exploration of the places in America with connections to the first three US Presidential assassinations. Vowell explains how these places and the collective memories of significant people and events related to the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley have been shaped and in some cases manipulated by the historical tourism industry. Assassination Vacation reads as part pop history, part travelogue and part (irreverently) witty essay.

I really liked this book and enjoyed reading it because of the characters. Even though it is a nonfiction book, there were definitely characters. I found the section on President Garfield to be particularly interesting, and he an especially interesting character. Also, Sarah Vowell herself, and her friends and family were all really great, vivid characters.

Assassination Vacation is also available in Large Print, as a Book on CD, and as an OverDrive eBook in Kindle Book or Adobe EPUB eBook formats. Vowell has written several other books on American history and culture, including The Partly Cloudy PatriotTake the Cannoli: Stories from the New World, and Unfamiliar Fishes.

Spotlight on New Historical Fiction

If you enjoy history, but like a good story to go along with it, you may have already discovered the genre of historical fiction. If not, consider this your introduction.

Your librarian can help you to find a great historical novel set in any era using tools such as NoveList. Or follow the link to our library database page and under the heading for literature, click on ‘NoveList’ (or ‘Remote Access’ from home) to access this useful resource for readers.

Take  a look at these works of historical fiction, recently added to the shelves at Sewickley Public Library. You can follow the linked titles to find them in the library catalog, where you may request a copy for pickup.

 


THE PAGAN LORD: A NOVEL by Bernard Cornwell

The seventh and latest in the ‘Saxon Tales Saga,’ also referred to as ‘The Warrior Chronicles’ and ‘Saxon Stories,’ this book is by “the move prolific and successful historical novelist in the world today,” according to a Wall Street Journal review. The Pagan Lord continues Cornwell’s epic telling of the making of England in the middle ages and the struggle to unite Britain, centering on the stories of Alfred the Great and his descendents. If you are an Anglophile or love Viking stories (or both!), this book and series will have appeal.

The full list of books in the ‘Saxon Stories’ can be found on Bernard Cornwell’s website. If this series and setting sounds intriguing and you’d like to begin at the beginning, the first in this series is The Last Kingdom: A Novel.


THE GHOST OF THE MARY CELESTE by Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin’s latest work of historical fiction explores the unanswered questions surrounding the Mary Celeste, an American merchant vessel found adrift off the Spanish coast in 1872, cargo intact but the entire crew vanished with no signs of foul play.

Martin has written other acclaimed works of historical fiction. Mary Reilly, a retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the point of view of a young female servant, won both the Nebula Award and the World Fantasy Award. And Property, which tells the story of a plantation master’s wife and her slave on a sugar plantation near New Orleans in 1828, won the Orange Prize (now called the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) and was named one of the 10 best historical novels by The Observer in 2012.


THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS by Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon’s debut novel, set in Jazz Age New York, The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress is an fictionalized account of the real disappearance in 1930 of Justice Joseph Crater. The investigation is undertaken by newly promoted police officer Jude Simon, who proceeds by questioning three women in Crater’s life: his wife, his mistress, and his maid (who also happens to be Simon’s wife). The mystery winds its way through speakeasies and involves the most notorious gangsters of the day.

 

Of course, these are only three recently written historical fiction novels, set in three eras, and in three different geographic settings. There is sure to be a great work of historical fiction set in whatever time period or in whatever place interests you.

Fascinating New Nonfiction for Spring


We Will SurviveWE WILL SURVIVE: TRUE STORIES OF ENCOURAGEMENT, INSPIRATION, AND THE POWER OF SONG, by Gloria Gaynor and Sue Carswell

Remarkable stories reveal that “I Will Survive” has reached people from all walks of life and touched their lives in thousands of unique ways. From individuals triumphing over illness to those suffering from the painful loss of a loved one to others piecing their lives together after bearing witness to national tragedy, “I Will Survive” has become an emotional anthem for them and for millions of Gloria Gaynor’s adoring fans around the world. In We Will Survive, Gloria shares forty of these inspirational, true stories about survivors of all kinds – individuals who have found comfort, hope, and courage through the power of this one song.


FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO SEE: DISPATCHES FROM THE WORLD OF THE BLIND, by Rosemary Mahoney

In the tradition of Oliver Sacks’s The Island of the Colorblind , Rosemary Mahoney tells the story of Braille Without Borders, the first school for the blind in Tibet, and of Sabriye Tenberken, the remarkable blind woman who founded the school. Fascinated and impressed by what she learned from the blind children of Tibet, Mahoney was moved to investigate further the cultural history of blindness. As part of her research, she spent three months teaching at Tenberken’s international training center for blind adults in Kerala, India, an experience that reveals both the shocking oppression endured by the world’s blind, as well as their great resilience, integrity, ingenuity, and strength.


DANUBIA: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF HABSBURG EUROPE, by Simon Winder

For centuries much of Europe was in the hands of the very peculiar Habsburg family. An unstable mixture of wizards, obsessives, melancholics, bores, musicians and warriors, they saw off-through luck, guile and sheer mulishness-any number of rivals, until finally packing up in 1918. From their principal lairs along the Danube they ruled most of Central Europe and Germany and interfered everywhere-indeed the history of Europe hardly makes sense without them. Danubia, Simon Winder’s hilarious new book, plunges the reader into a maelstrom of alchemy, skeletons, jewels, bear-moats, unfortunate marriages and a guinea-pig village. Full of music, piracy, religion and fighting, it is the history of a strange dynasty, and the people they ruled, who spoke many different languages, lived in a vast range of landscapes, believed in rival gods and often showed a marked ingratitude towards their oddball ruler in Vienna.


TRAIN: RIDING THE RAILS THAT CREATED THE MODERN WORLD – FROM THE TRANS-SIBERIAN TO THE SOUTHWEST CHIEF, by Tom Zoellner

Tom Zoellner loves trains with a ferocious passion and chronicles the innovation and sociological impact of the railway technology that changed the world, and could very well change it again. From the frigid trans-Siberian railroad to the antiquated Indian Railways to the futuristic MagLev trains, Zoellner offers a stirring story of man’s relationship with trains. Zoellner examines both the mechanics of the rails and their engines and how they helped societies evolve. Zoellner also considers America’s culture of ambivalence to mass transit, using the perpetually stalled line between Los Angeles and San Francisco as a case study in bureaucracy and public indifference. Train presents both an entertaining history of railway travel around the world while offering a serious and impassioned case for the future of train travel


THE MONKEY’S VOYAGE: HOW IMPROBABLE JOURNEYS SHAPED THE HISTORY OF LIFE, by Alan de Quieroz

In The Monkey’s Voyage, biologist Alan de Queiroz describes the radical new view of how fragmented distributions came into being: frogs and mammals rode on rafts and icebergs, tiny spiders drifted on storm winds, and plant seeds were carried in the plumage of sea-going birds to create the map of life we see today. In other words, these organisms were not simply constrained by continental fate; they were the makers of their own geographic destiny. And as de Queiroz shows, the effects of oceanic dispersal have been crucial in generating the diversity of life on Earth, from monkeys and guinea pigs in South America to beech trees and kiwi birds in New Zealand. By toppling the idea that the slow process of continental drift is the main force behind the odd distributions of organisms, this theory highlights the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the history of life.


My Life in MiddlemarchMY LIFE IN MIDDLEMARCH, by Rebecca Mead

Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot’s Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not. In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot’s masterpiece-the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure-and brings them into our world.


ME, MYSELF, AND WHY: SEARCHING FOR THE SCIENCE OF SELF, by Jennifer Ouellette

As diverse as people appear to be, all of our genes and brains are nearly identical. In Me, Myself, and Why, Jennifer Ouellette dives into the minuscule ranges of variation to understand just what sets us apart. She draws on cutting-edge research in genetics, neuroscience, and psychology-enlivened as always with her signature sense of humor-to explore the mysteries of human identity and behavior. Readers follow her own surprising journey of self-discovery as she has her genome sequenced, her brain mapped, her personality typed, and even samples a popular hallucinogen. Bringing together everything from Mendel’s famous pea plant experiments and mutations in the X-Men to our taste for cilantro and our relationships with virtual avatars, Ouellette takes us on an endlessly thrilling and illuminating trip into the science of ourselves.

To find any of the above titles in the online library catalog, click the titles. From there, you may also place a hold for pickup.

Notable New Fiction for Late Winter

While we wait for the snow to stop falling, the temperatures to rise and the sun to come out, what better way is there to beat the late winter blues than losing yourself in a great new book? Here are ten that have recently arrived on the shelves at Sewickley Public Library, of all sorts and genres:

 

No Place for a DameNO PLACE FOR A DAME by Connie Brockway – Booklist *Starred Review*

Avery Quinn is counting on the fact that a gentleman always honors his debts, and Giles Dalton, the Marquess of Strand, is definitely in Avery’s debt. If it wasn’t for Avery’s flair for drama, Giles would find himself married to the vain, venal, and very annoying Sophie North. Now all Giles has to do to settle his debt is to help Avery present her findings on the comet she discovered to the Royal Astronomical Society. There is just one small problem: the misogynistic idiots at the Royal Astronomical Society refuse to accept any scientific work from a woman. Of course, if Avery were to disguise herself as a young man and Giles were to then present Avery to the society as his new protege, there wouldn’t be any problems. At least that is Avery’s plan. Expertly threaded with danger and desire, imbued with simmering sensuality, and richly seasoned with wicked wit, No Place for a Dame in which Giles claims his place as hero after appearing in Brockway’s Promise Me Heaven (2013) and All Through the Night (2013), both available in new editions is top-drawer historical romance from an author who never disappoints.–Charles, John Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

The Silence of the WaveTHE SILENCE OF THE WAVE by Gianrico Carofiglio – Publisher’s Weekly Review

A desperate search for human connection is at the heart of this moving novel from Carofiglio (The Past Is a Foreign Country). Roberto Marias, who infiltrated major drug cartels during his time as an undercover Italian cop, is on leave after coming close to blowing his own head off. His calendar has only two fixed points, his twice-a-week therapy appointments. Roberto, who drifts through life in a haze with minimal interactions with others, sometimes finds that “remembering and thinking are not beneficial activities” for him. A chance encounter with Emma, an attractive woman he recognizes from a TV commercial, may offer a chance of relief from his malaise. Some chapters related from the perspective of someone named Giacomo, who’s entranced by a classmate named Ginevra, add suspense, as the relationship of this subplot to the main one doesn’t become clear until the end. The author subtly and simply conveys the backstory to Roberto’s suicidal ideation. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

S.S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire. A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown. The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey. The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him. The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears. S., conceived by filmmaker J. J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst, is the chronicle of two readers finding each other in the margins of a book and enmeshing themselves in a deadly struggle between forces they don’t understand, and it is also Abrams and Dorst’s love letter to the written word.

 

A Dangerous DeceitA DANGEROUS DECEIT by Marjorie Eccles – Booklist Review

The sleepy village of Folbury is upset by not one but two recent deaths. Respected local Osbert Rees-Talbot, a distinguished veteran of the Boer War, drowns in his bath, and the body of an unidentified man is found buried on the edge of the estate of wealthy landowner Lord Scroope. The former seems to be a tragic accident, while the latter is clearly murder, but with no clues or suspects and nothing to identify the victim except a South African coin in his pocket. Then a third death occurs, that of local businessman Arthur Aston, who’s found suffocated in a sandpit. Three unique cases with nothing to connect them, or is there? Ambitious local copper Joe Gilmour is determined to find out. His investigation leads him back in time to South Africa’s Boer War. Good period ambiance, a rich cast of characters, and numerous plot twists make this mixture of period drama and police procedural a gripping and satisfying read.–Melton, Emily Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

The Invisible CodeTHE INVISIBLE CODE by Christopher Fowler – Publisher’s Weekly Review

London’s perpetually-in-jeopardy Peculiar Crimes Unit gets a reprieve in Fowler’s excellent 10th mystery featuring senior detectives Arthur Bryant and John May (after 2012’s The Memory of Blood). Oskar Kasavian, the Home Office security supervisor who oversees the PCU, hires Bryant and May unofficially to deal with a personal problem. His much-younger wife, Sabira, has begun acting strangely, and with Kasavian due to take the helm of a major European antiterror initiative, it’s vital that any scandal be avoided. When Sabira insists that devils are out to get her, the two sleuths take her fears seriously. They look into a possible tie to the death of Amy O’Connor, who dropped dead in a church from unknown causes shortly after two children identified her as a witch and plotted to kill her. In the light of the challenges that Fowler has given his heroes in prior books, it’s particularly impressive that he manages to surpass himself once again. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

If Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May series is new to you, check out Full Dark House, the first in the series.

 

The Case of the Love CommandosTHE CASE OF THE LOVE COMMANDOS: FROM THE FILES OF VISH PURI, INDIA’S MOST PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR by Tarquin Hall – Booklist *Starred Review*

Vish Puri of Delhi, head of Most Private Investigators, Ltd., is regarded by many (and himself) as the best private eye in India. Puri’s closed cases for the month of June include delivering an enormous ransom and recovering a pampered pug from its kidnappers, as well as helping a celebrity chef with a hacked computer. The chef responds by treating Puri to a spirit-transforming plate of papri chaat and tamarind chutney. Puri’s love of food and Hall’s descriptions of the dishes he enjoys is one of the delights of this series. From pampered pugs to hacked computers, Puri is plunged into a much more serious investigation at the behest of one of his operatives, a member of a real group called the Love Commandos, dedicated to helping mixed-caste couples. The Love Commandos have engineered the rescue of a young woman of the high-caste Thakur family from an arranged marriage. The young woman wants to marry an untouchable Dalit boy. The young man goes missing. Puri and his operatives infiltrate the Dalit boy’s home in a tiny Indian village, so traditional that schoolchildren automatically arrange themselves according to caste. As in any Puri novel, a great deal of humor about Puri’s family life is mixed with skillful plotting and realistic descriptions of contemporary India’s overflowing street life. Hall, a British journalist who has lived in South Asia for more than a decade, is also the author of the memoir Salaam Brick Lane.–Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist

If Tarquin Hall’s Vish Puri series is new to you, check out The Case of the Missing Servant, the first of the detective’s cases.

 

Sea of HooksSEA OF HOOKS by Lindsay Hill – Booklist Review

Christopher Westall was an awkward child with parents who never understood him and never took the time to try. Marked by odd hobbies and strange mannerisms, he rarely made friends, and though he did find some sympathetic allies to assist along the way, all too often his childhood was plagued by tragedies that shaped him in unpredictable ways. Now a young man, he is traveling to Bhutan in the wake of his mother’s suicide, seeking some kind of solace or new beginning. A fresh take on the coming-of-age theme, this maze of a story is told as a collection of irregularly interspersed thoughts, flashbacks, and current narratives, most no more than a paragraph long. The abrupt changes in time and place plus the briefness of each installment might make it hard for readers to feel invested in the story or its characters, but the method mirrors Christopher’s confused state of mind and perfectly sets the pace for a few surprising discoveries. Discerning readers in search of a uniquely woven yarn will especially appreciate first novelist Hill’s unusual style.–Ophoff, Cortney Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

Perfect A NovelPERFECT: A NOVEL by Rachel Joyce – Publisher’s Weekly Review

An 11-year-old boy makes an error that brings tragedy to several lives, including his own, in Joyce’s intriguing and suspenseful novel. One summer day in a small English village in 1972, Byron Hemmings’s mother, Diana, is driving him and his younger sister to school when their Jaguar hits a little girl on a red bicycle. Diana drives on, unaware, with only Byron having seen the accident. Byron doesn’t know whether or not the girl was killed, however, and concocts a plan called “Operation Perfect” to shield his mother from what happened. Previously, she has always presented the picture of domestic perfection in trying to please her martinet banker husband, Seymour, and overcome her lower-class origins. After Byron decides to tell her the truth about the accident, she feverishly attempts to make amends by befriending the injured girl’s mother, but her “perfect” facade begins to splinter. Joyce sometimes strains credibility in describing Diana’s psychological deterioration, but the novel’s fast pacing keeps things tense. Meanwhile, in alternate chapters, Jim, a psychologically fragile man in his 50s, endures a menial cafe job. Joyce, showing the same talent for adroit plot development seen in the bestselling The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, brings both narrative strands together in a shocking, redemptive (albeit weepily sentimental) denouement. The novel is already a bestseller in England. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

The Republic of ThievesTHE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES by Scott Lynch – Booklist *Starred Review*

Announced as early as 2008, the long, long, long-awaited sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006) and Red Seas Under Red Skies (2007) finally arrives. The story picks up almost immediately after the end of Red Seas. Locke Lamora, professional thief and con artist, has been poisoned (He was being unknit from the inside; his veins and sinews were coming apart). He has only a handful of days left, but rescue from certain death comes from a most unexpected source: the Bondsmagi, the powerful sorcerers who haven’t exactly been Locke’s best friends until now. After ridding his body of the poison, they, of all things, offer him a job. They want him to help rig a local election, which doesn’t sound all that tricky, except that someone else is working the other side of the street, and she’s at least as clever and ruthless as Locke: Sabetha Belacoros, Locke’s long-lost love. This rousing adventure expands on themes introduced in the first two books and tells the full history of Locke and Sabetha, whose relationship was tantalizingly sketchy in the first installment. The Bondsmagi, too, are shown here in more detail than ever before, and Lynch has some serious surprises in store for fans of the first two books. It might have taken Lynch a lot longer to publish the book than fans wanted, but it was definitely worth the wait. A landmark publishing event in the science fiction world.–Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

The Prodigal A Ragamuffin StoryTHE PRODIGAL: A RAGAMUFFIN STORY by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett – Booklist Review

The Prodigal is the much anticipated novel by the late best-selling spiritual writer Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel, 2000) and theologian and author Garrett. Manning’s signature honesty, wit, and compassion are evident in this redemptive tale, a modern take on the prodigal son. Jack Chisolm knows what it’s like to live the good life. He’s one of America’s best-known pastors and has a beautiful family, wealth, and the conviction that God is on his side. After a fall from grace, however, Jack finds himself with nothing, dragged back to Texas by the father he hasn’t spoken to in a decade. As Jack gets back on his feet, he rediscovers what it means to live a life of faith. He also comes to recognize the power of a father’s love and the importance of community. Manning and Garrett do a wonderful job bringing to life the downfalls of a superficial form of contemporary Christianity, while dramatizing struggles readers can easily relate to. This story of love found and grace extended will bring hope to everyone who reads it.–Richard, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

Click the title links to find these books in the catalog and request for pickup at Sewickley Public Library. All reviews from sources as noted.

February Staff Pick: Help for the Haunted by John Searles

This month’s staff pick is from Ing: Help for the Haunted, by John Searles. Booklist reviewer Joanne Wilkinson calls Searles’ third novel “[s]uperlative storytelling” in a starred review.

Help for the Haunted by John SearlesIng described the story, without giving too much away…

Sylvie has always known that her parents had unique jobs, jobs that scared others and even scared her from time to time. Her parents were help to haunted souls, modern day exorcists, if you will. But was the danger in their family really of a supernatural nature? Or was something even more sinister going on?

When asked what appealed to her about the book, and why you should check it out, Ing said,

This is a fascinating story and has a very sympathetic narrator in Sylvie. If you enjoy supernatural stories, or even if you don’t, this book is written well and keeps you guessing all the way through.

Help for the Haunted has won a 2014 Alex Award, which is given each year by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association, to “ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.” Click the link above to see other 2014 Alex Award Winners.

In addition to the print copy of Help for the Haunted that can be found, and requested, through the library catalog, this title is also available as an OverDrive eBook.

 

56th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees

The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards will air this Sunday, January 26th, 2014. Take a look at the entire list of nominees in all categories on the GRAMMY Awards’ website. Click the links below to find the nominees for Record of the Year and Album of the Year in your library catalog, where you can place a request.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Random Access Memories‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers (from the album Random Access Memories)

 

 

 

 

Night Visions‘Radioactive’ by Imagine Dragons (from the album Night Visions)

 

 

Pure Heroine‘Royals’ by Lorde (from the album Pure Heroine)

 

 

Unorthodox Jukebox‘Locked Out of Heaven’ by Bruno Mars (from the album Unorthodox Jukebox)

 

 

Blurred Lines‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell (from the album Blurred Lines)

 

 

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

 

The Blessed UnrestThe Blessed Unrest by Sara Bareilles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Access MemoriesRandom Access Memories by Daft Punk

 

 

Good Kid, M.A.A.D. CityGood Kid, M.A.A.D. City by Kendrick Lamar

 

 

The HeistThe Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

 

 

RedRed by Taylor Swift

 

 

Check the catalog by searching Title or Author for more of the nominees. Or, ask your reference librarians at Sewickley Public Library for help finding the music you want to hear.

Books Soon to be Movies in 2014

“I’m glad I read the book first,” is a phrase I often hear people say after seeing a film based off a book. Books as inspiration for movies are more popular than ever, and 2014 is set to be a good one if you enjoy literary films.

BuzzFeed recently posted a list of “16 Books to Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year.” Here are a few that can be found at Sewickley Public Library. Click the titles to request them through the library catalog:

 

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard LABOR DAY by Joyce MaynardBooklist Review: Stranger danger is a concept unfamiliar to 13-year-old Henry, who befriends an injured man during one of his and his agoraphobic mother’s rare shopping excursions in town with disastrous results for all. To be fair, neither mother nor son have much worldly experience, thanks to Adele’s emotional fragility following her divorce. Yet their willingness to assist a strange man has less to do with their collective lack of judgment than it does with Frank’s infectious charm, a quality that will escalate over the coming days as the escaped convict and murderer holds the pair hostage in their own home. With remarkable ease, Adele falls in love with Frank. As she helps him plan a second escape to Canada, Henry fears losing the little stability he has ever known. Told from Henry’s point of view, Maynard’s inventive coming-of-age tale indelibly captures the anxiety and confusion inherent in adolescence, while the addition of a menacing element of suspense makes this emotionally fraught journey that much more harrowing.–Haggas, Carol Copyright 2009 Booklist

 

The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel and Bret WitterTHE MONUMENTS MEN: ALLIED HEROES, NAZI THIEVES, AND THE GREATEST TREASURE HUNT IN HISTORY by Robert M. Edsel and Bret WitterBooklist Review: This is a chronicle of an unusual and largely unknown aspect of World War II. The heroes here aren’t flamboyant generals or grizzled GIs in combat. In civilian life these men and women had been architects, museum directors, sculptors, and patrons of the arts. They were drawn from thirteen nations, although most were American or British citizens. Beginning in 1943, they were recruited into a special unit formed to protect and recover cultural treasure that had been looted by top Nazis, especially Hitler and Goring. As Allied armies liberated areas of northern Europe after D-Day, these monuments men moved into the front lines. Since they had little advance knowledge of the location of the looted art, their efforts often resembled treasure hunts. In addition to recovering stolen art, they worked tirelessly, often at personal risk, to protect and restore art damaged by the ravages of war. Edsel describes the exploits of these men and women in a fast-moving narrative that effectively captures the excitement and dangers of their mission.–Freeman, Jay Copyright 2009 Booklist

 

A Long Way Down by Nick HornbyA LONG WAY DOWN by Nick HornbyBooklist Review: In his trademark warm and witty prose, Hornby follows four depressed people from their aborted suicide attempts on New Years Eve through the surprising developments that occur over the following three months. Middle-aged Maureen has been caring for her profoundly disabled son for decades; Martin is a celebrity-turned-has-been after sleeping with a 15-year-old girl; teenage Jess, trash-talker extraordinaire, is still haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her older sister years before; and JJ is upset by the collapse of his band and his breakup with his longtime girlfriend. The four meet while scoping out a tower rooftop looking for the best exit point. Inhibited by the idea of having an audience, they agree instead to form a support group of sorts. But rather than indulging in sappy therapy-speak, they frequently direct lacerating, bitingly funny comments at each other–and the bracing mix of complete candor and endless complaining seems to work as a kind of tonic. Hornby funnels the perceptive music and cultural references he is known for through the character of JJ, but he also expands far beyond his usual territory, exploring the changes in perspective that can suddenly make a life seem worth living and adroitly shifting the tone from sad to happy and back again. The true revelation of this funny and moving novel is its realistic, all-too-human characters, who stumble frequently, moving along their redemptive path only by increments. –Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2005 Booklist

 

This Is Where I Leave You_PB.inddTHIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper Booklist Review: Judd Foxman is in his late thirties when he finds himself living in a damp, moldy basement apartment, without a job and separated from his wife, who is having an affair with his now ex-boss. To make matters worse, Judd finds out his wife is pregnant with his child and that his father has just died, leaving a dying wish to have all four of his children sit shivah for seven days. What transpires over the course of that week is a Foxman family reunion like no other; filled with fistfights, arguments, sex, and a parade of characters offering their sympathies and copious amounts of food. This is a story that could be told by your best guy friend: laugh-out-loud funny, intimate, honest, raunchy, and thoroughly enjoyable. Tropper is spot-on with his observations of family relationships as each member deals with new grief, old resentments, and life’s funny twists of fate. Tropper’s characters are real, flawed, and very likable, making for a great summer read.–Kubisz, Carolyn Copyright 2009 Booklist

 

Happy New Year! We hope you enjoy reading and watching along with us here at Do Something @ Sewickley Public Library!

NPR Book Concierge 2013

The folks over at NPR Books usually write a variety of end-of-year ‘Best Of’ lists to highlight the outstanding literary offerings of the past year. However due to the number of lists ballooning from 13 in 2008 to 20 in 2012, they decided to try a different format.

And so, NPR’s Book Concierge was born! It’s billed as ‘Our Guide to 2013’s Great Reads,’ and I encourage you to go check it out. The site allows you to choose what you’d like to read along the left-hand side (in categories such as ‘Eye Opening’ or ‘ It’s All Geek To Me’) and displays a collage of books recommended by NPR Staff that fit you chosen category or genre.

Of course, not all of the books will be available at Sewickley Public Library, but if one grabs your attention, it never hurts to give us a call or stop in to ask a librarian whether it can be requested from another library in Allegheny County.

Here are a few from the site you may not have heard a lot of buzz about that can be found at Sewickley Public Library, to get you started:

FICTION

Lexicon by Max BarryLEXICON by Max BarryBooklist Review *Starred Review* – Words have power to persuade, to coerce, even to kill. And so they have since the days when wordsmiths were called sorcerers. Streetwise teenager Emily knows nothing of this until she is recruited to join a clandestine international organization that seems bent on taking over the world through the power of language—the reason, perhaps, that its members call themselves poets. In the meantime, a young man, Wil, is kidnapped from an airport by two mysterious men determined to unlock a secret buried deep in his brain. Yes, Wil and Emily will be brought together in due course, but in the meantime, there is a great deal, some of it abstruse, about language in this fast-paced, cerebral thriller that borders on speculative fiction, but none of it slows the nonstop action that takes readers from Washington, D.C., to a small town in the Australian desert, a town whose 3,300 residents have all died mysteriously and violently. Could the cause have been the power of words at work? The poets sometimes seem a bit too omnipotent, and the book’s chronology is occasionally a bit confusing, but otherwise this is an absolutely first-rate, suspenseful thriller with convincing characters who invite readers’ empathy and keep them turning pages until the satisfying conclusion.–Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist

Night Film by Marisha PesslNIGHT FILM by Marisha PesslBooklist Review *Starred Review* – When the daughter of a notorious film director is found dead in New York, an apparent suicide, investigative reporter Scott McGrath throws himself back into a story that almost ended his career. But now McGrath has his Rosebud, and like Jedediah Leland in Citizen Kane, who hoped to make sense of media mogul Charles Foster Kane by understanding his last word, so the reporter sets out to determine how Ashley Cordova died and, in so doing, penetrate the heart of darkness that engulfs her reclusive father, Stanislas. Like Pessl’s first novel, the acclaimed Special Topics in Calamity Physics (2006), this one expands from a seemingly straightforward mystery into a multifaceted, densely byzantine exploration of much larger issues, in this case, the nature of truth and illusion as reflected by the elusive Cordova, whose transcend-the-genre horror films are cult favorites and about whom rumors of black magic and child abuse continue to swirl. His daughter, piano prodigy Ashley (her notes weren’t played; they were poured from a Grecian urn ), is almost as mysterious as her father, her life and death equally clouded in secrecy and colored with possibly supernatural shadings. Into this mazelike world of dead ends and false leads, McGrath ventures with his two, much younger helpers, Nora and Hopper, brilliantly portrayed Holmesian irregulars who may finally understand more about Ashley than their mentor, whose linear approach to fact finding might miss the point entirely. Pessl’s first novel, while undeniably impressive, possessed some of the overindulgence one might expect from a talented and precocious young writer. All evidence of that is gone here; the book is every bit as complex as Calamity Physics, but the writing is always under control, and the characters never fail to draw us further into the maelstrom of the story.–Ott, Bill Copyright 2010 Booklist

NONFICTION

Lawrence in Arabia by Scott AndersonLAWRENCE IN ARABIA: WAR, DECEIT, IMPERIAL FOLLY AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST by Scott AndersonBooklist Review *Starred Review* – To historians, the real T. E. Lawrence is as fascinating as the cinematic version in Lawrence of Arabia is to movie fans. The many reasons interlock and tighten author Anderson’s narrative, yielding a work that can absorb scholarly and popular interest like. Start with Lawrence’s WWI memoir, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922). A rare-book collectible, it inspired many of the scenes in David Lean’s film and is also subject to cross-referencing interpretations of Lawrence’s veracity. For lyrical though Lawrence could be about Arab leaders and desert landscapes, he could also be enigmatically opaque about the truth of his role in events. Accordingly, Anderson embeds Lawrence and Seven Pillars in the wider context of the Arab revolt against Turkey, and that context is the British, French, German, and American diplomacy and espionage intended to influence the postwar disposition of the territories of the Ottoman Empire. Lawrence was Britain’s agent in this game, and the other powers’ agents, although none enjoy his historical celebrity, assume prominence in Anderson’s presentation. Its thorough research clothed in smoothly written prose, Anderson’s history strikes a perfect balance between scope and detail about a remarkable and mysterious character.–Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist

To the End of June by Cris BeamTO THE END OF JUNE: THE INTIMATE LIFE OF AMERICAN FOSTER CARE by Cris BeamBooklist Review *Starred Review* – Whenever newspaper headlines scream about the abuse of foster children, the public is outraged, child protection agencies radically change their policies, and poor children go on living in a hodgepodge of foster care and suffering myriad unintended consequences, according to Beam, whose background includes a fractured childhood and experience as a foster mother. Here she offers a very intimate look at a system little known to most people. Beam spent five years talking to foster children, parents and foster parents, and social workers, mostly in New York. Her profiles include Bruce and Allyson, with three children of their own, taking in as many as five foster children, and Steve and Erin, fostering a child they want to adopt, whose mother signed away her rights on a napkin. Beam also writes about teens who’ve been bounced from home to home, some longing for adoption, others sabotaging their chances out of fear, many hoping for promised aging-out bonuses. Beam offers historical background and keen analysis of the social, political, racial, and economic factors that drive foster-care policies, noting the recent swing from massive removals to support for keeping families together. A very moving, powerful look at a system charged with caring for nearly half a million children across the U.S.–Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist

Sources:

Best Books of 2013: NPR(http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2013/)

Booklist Online: Book Reviews from the American Library Association (http://www.booklistonline.com/)