Monday, January 30, 2017

Large Print Fiction

Here are some large print fiction books just sitting on our shelves waiting for you to come and check them out. These particular selections will definitely keep your interest and satisfy your need for suspense, mystery, and espionage; even some heart strings might get tugged.

At the Edge of Summer, by Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye, returns with this super fantastic story of a friendship between Luc and a 15-year old Scottish girl named Clare who is grieving over her parent’s fate. The setting starts off in the French countryside. She inspires Luc as he has never felt before. Then all of a sudden she was gone. Luc, so devastated by her departure starts writing her letters. Years later they meet but under very different circumstances, during war.

I Am No One, by Patrick Flanery, once again takes his readers on a scary and mysterious journey. A middle-aged college professor, having taught at Oxford for 10 years returns to his home in the U.S. Soon after his return mysterious boxes begin showing up. The boxes contain his whole digital life for the past 10 years--Internet data, phone records, and photos. Obviously he is under surveillance, but why? Come check out this book to find out the answer.

Do you like stories about missing persons, private investigators and love affairs? Then come on down to the library and check out the book entitled, When All The Girls Are Gone, by Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author. When Charlotte tries to contact her step sister Jocelyn, to tell her the terrible news that one of her closest friends was found dead, Jocelyn is no where to be found. She’s gone off before, but never like this. Charlotte hires a detective, Max and then all hell breaks loose. Want to know more, then come down and check out this well written who-did-it.

Another New York Times bestselling author, Bernard Cornwell, has written The Flame Bearer. Do you enjoy books about Kings, Queens, Vikings, warriors, knights in shining armor, and conquering lands? If so, then this novel about England's greatest warrior, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, who has the chance to take back the home his traitorous uncle stole from him so many years ago and which his conniving cousin still occupies, may strike your fancy and fill your mind with images of horses, men and soldiers fighting and scheming to get back what was once theirs.

A well known author, Danielle Steel, has another great book out called, The Award.  This story takes place in 1940 when the German army is occupying France. Gaelle finds herself in the most terrible situations where her closest friend and her family are sent to a detention camp awaiting deportation. She ends up on a perilous journey, joining the French Resistance. This is a fast moving story, full of horrors and mystery. It will take you back to a time most would much rather try and forget.

--Nicki Malave, Network Coordinator

Monday, January 23, 2017

Young Adult Fiction

Turn left as you walk into the library to find some of the most thought-provoking stories of the year.  They feature moral dilemmas, the unfairness of life, and characters who take control of their own destiny.  These Young Adult selections are page-turners and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner features Dill Early, descended from a long line of Pentecostal preachers who believe that their faith in the Lord will keep them safe from the poisonous serpents they handle during church services.  Dill's not so sure.  He tries his best to be a good son, but his fanatically religious parents expect him to take care of them without a thought to his own future.  Luckily, Dill has two good friends in Travis and Lydia.  Travis navigates the unpredictable actions of a drunkard father by retreating into the world of fantasy books.  Lydia has great parents who are genuine role models for the group, allowing her to achieve more in the academic and extra-curricular realm than the boys.  The three friends reveal their last year of high school to readers through conversation and glimpses into their home lives.  Told by each of the friends in their own chapters, Zentner's first teen novel is a well-written study of life's unfairness, the differences in the families we grow up in, and the hopefulness of youth.

Wink, Poppy, Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke introduces Midnight, a loner living with his dad while trying to avoid the bullies at school, except for Poppy.  Poppy is the most popular (and feared) girl in school who tries to manipulate the boys by seducing them and the girls by making fun of them.  The only person she can't control is Lief Bell because he sees right through her false charms.  When family circumstances take Midnight and his dad to live on a farm across from the Bell home, he begins to spend more time with Wink, Leif's red-haired, freckled, unconventional sister who believes in heroes, villains, and the power of a good story.  Tucholke tells this story in three separate voices through the differing perspectives of Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. It’s difficult to tell who’s telling the truth and who’s telling their own twisted version of events with each retelling.  The truth doesn’t come out until a heart-stopping incident that takes place in a haunted house.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.  K. Johnston takes place the summer before senior year.  Hermoine is the captain of her cheerleading team, and this is her last summer at cheerleading camp.  She wants it to be perfect, and it is.....until the Friday night party when she's drugged and raped.  As her friends grapple with academics, college applications, relationships, and their own emerging sexuality, Hermoine has the additional responsibility of seeing a psychiatrist to try to remember the sexual attack.  Her life is now full of decisions.  What if she's pregnant?  What if she remembers?  Should she prosecute the attacker and relive the whole incident?  There's a lot to think about for high school readers.

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy incorporates science fiction into teen adventure.  Yuri Strelnikov, a doctor of physics at age 17, is flown to Los Angeles at a moment's notice to work with American scientists scrambling to prevent a huge asteroid from reaching Earth.  He's on loan from Russia where his work on antimatter has put him in line for a Nobel Prize.  In light of his own bright future, Yuri has good reason to save the world.  However, in America, he finds himself under close supervision of U.S. government officials.  There's tension between Yuri and NASA's Director of Near Earth Objects Program about the safest way to deflect the asteroid. Yuri is young, but he knows physics better than almost anyone and doesn’t like being marginalized because of his age.  By chance, he meets Dovie, the janitor's daughter, who helps him sneak away from his hotel and experience a bit of American life.  She introduces Yuri to her brother, Lennon, who is wheelchair-bound and has an edgy sense of humor.  The suspense continues on from one predicament to the next, until the story ends on the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit.  The uncrushable attitudes of Yuri, Dovie, and Lennon leave readers with hope for the future and, perhaps, future stories about these characters.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow begins as 17-year-old Charlie wakes up in a treatment facility wrapped in bandages - so traumatized, she can’t speak to anyone.  Readers soon find out that when she was young, Charlie’s father experienced depression and drowned himself; her mother beat her; her best friend overdosed and was moved to a recovery facility across the country; and she’s been living on the streets of Minneapolis with addicts and criminals.  Unable to cope with emotions she doesn’t know how to express, Charlie cuts her arms, and legs.  After a rocky start, Charlie follows a friend to Arizona, finds work at a cafĂ©, and returns to her love of art, drawing portraits of people as she observes them.  Just when her life is becoming stable, she falls in love with a junkie musician who inevitably drags her back down into emotional chaos. Charlie finally gets assistance from a co-worker recovering from drug addiction and from an artist who recognizes her talent.  This story has several recovery stories going at the same time – drugs, alcohol, self-harm – whose victims take each day as it comes and count each one a victory. 

--Lynette Suckow, Reference Department.

Monday, January 16, 2017


January is a perfect time to make resolutions that not only refresh your spirit but also your surroundings. Whether you’re interested in refining your culinary skills or getting the most out of your smart devices, this list of new adult nonfiction books will help inspire you to make small enhancements to your everyday life. Gain the confidence you need to tackle simple DIY projects around the home or office with one of these helpful new titles available at Peter White Public Library.

Home Automation for Dummies (2015) by Dwight Spivey
You can buy just about any home appliance today and control it from your smartphone or tablet. Most of these smart devices are easy to set up and use but some may be tricky to navigate, especially if you’re new to the idea of home automation. Home Automation for Dummies is a great reference book for those just beginning to explore the possible applications of this new phenomenon. With this book you’ll learn how to control your home security devices while out of the house, adjust your thermostat remotely, and even how to automate your lawn care duties all from one platform.
New Adult Nonfiction 643.6 SP

Home Decor Cheat Sheets (2016) by Jessica Probus
If you need a crash course in Design 101, this is the book for you. Home Decor Cheat Sheets provides over 300 tips and tricks to help make your living spaces more livable. Learn the rules of interior design with this easy to follow guidebook. Vital concepts in design are made assessable with the aid of simple illustrations and brief descriptions. Seriously, this book explains all of the need-to-know stuff for stylish living. Looking to add a new piece of furniture to a room? This book will help you identify different styles of furniture and then help you pair them! Not sure how best to arrange art work or picture frames on a wall? Don’t worry, Home Decor Cheat Sheets has that covered too.
New Adult Nonfiction 645 PR

The Useful Book (2016) by David & Sharon Bowers
Divided into two sections, Home Ec and Shop, The Useful Book will help you become a master of all trades. This encyclopedia of DIY has over 200 easy to learn life skills, from how to brew a cup of tea to how to plaster a wall! It’s like a survival guide for real life. The pages are filled with step-by-step instructions, practical advice for DIY projects, and solutions to common problems.
New Adult Nonfiction 640 BO

Taste & Technique (2016) by Naomi Pomeroy
Taste and Technique is more than just a cookbook which lists ingredients and instructions; it’s a culinary manual that focuses on technique so that you can prepare dazzling meals that feed the body and spirit, again and again. This is a cookbook for the home cook who is looking to dramatically enhance their kitchen prowess. Each recipe and technique is plainly explained and feels as though you are receiving private in-home instruction from a world-class chef.  Taste and Technique will inspire your confidence and have you creating 5-star meals from the very first recipe.
New Adult Nonfiction 641.5 PO

Table Manners (2016) by Jeremiah Tower
In Table Manners, Jeremiah Tower has created a witty and unstuffy book on a rather stuffy subject; how to behave at the dining table and why it matters. Tower’s book is a sensible back-to-basics guide that is chock-full of practical advice for any dining experience, whether you are the host or a guest. Bone up on how to set a table, serve a meal, or simply gain confidence in navigating dinner conversations. Because Tower also addresses topics such as using social media and technology at the table, Table Manners is a wonderful book on etiquette for a modern world.
New Adult Nonfiction 395.54 TO

--Dominic M. Davis, Administrative Assistant

Monday, January 9, 2017

Books for Self-Improvement

The New Year is a time when many people try to better themselves, and I am no exception. I also am a sucker for self-help books, even though many are heavy on rhetoric and light on practical advice. The following books have all helped me—although some are not necessarily found in the self-help section. Whether you resolve to become healthier, work harder, or develop your interpersonal skills, the Peter White Public Library has something for you!

Year of No Sugar (2014) by Eve Schaub
If you, like me, have just gotten off a Christmas cookie binge, here is a timely memoir about a family who decided to give up added sugar for an entire year. This book describes sugar’s effect on the body, explains its ubiquity in the food we eat, and makes a compelling case to monitor our consumption of it—while remaining primarily a personal story about a family. Schaub is naturally funny, and the fact that she is a blogger rather than a scientist means that the book never descends into esoteric jargon. She does not sugar-coat her year spent baking her own bread and turning down free cookies, but she at least makes her sacrifices seem worthwhile. The memoir also contains recipes she makes throughout her year (both sugar-free and sugar-laden ones, in case you finish it and want to indulge anyway).

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016) by Angela Duckworth
Whether you endeavor to work harder or instill this virtue in your children, you might want to listen to Angela Duckworth. She was recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her research studying grit, a trait she defines as a blend of passion and motivation. Duckworth sought to dispel the myth that genius is inborn, and she instead observed people who mastered skills over long periods of time, even if they started with very little talent. She studied subjects’ behavioral habits as well as environmental factors that facilitated their success. This book is a discussion of her findings, dissecting what it means to “work hard” and detailing exactly which kinds of work foster improvement the most. Duckworth combines research with anecdotes about everyone from West Point cadets to successful comedians.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (2015) by Elizabeth Gilbert
I was initially skeptical about reading a book about creative arts with the word “magic” in the title. And sure enough, there’s a lot of discussion of ethereal muses in this book. But Gilbert is also a workhorse, and she will teach you new ways to conceptualize your creative endeavors—namely, to just sit down and work on them. Gilbert believes we’re all meant to be creative, and her book guides readers through all the fears that come with creating—including fear of not being able to follow up a huge success, which Gilbert experienced after writing Eat Pray Love. Big Magic alternates between advice and personal stories, and while it gets a bit spiritual at times, it is grounded in the wisdom that has made Gilbert a bestseller many times over.

Between the World and Me (2015) by Ta-Nehisi Coates
If you seek to understand others amidst our current national discord, read this book. It has won several awards, including the National Book Award. The book takes the form of a letter that Coates wrote to his fifteen-year-old son following the verdict of the Michael Brown shooting. At only 176 pages, it is a poignant portrayal of Coates’s experience as a black man in America. Coates defines and condemns racism with unprecedented precision, going far beyond the platitudes that permeate current discourse. Between the World and Me is the walk in another person’s shoes that we’ve needed. And to top it all off, it’s full of downright beautiful writing; in fact, it’s my favorite book I read last year.

Tiny Beautiful Things (2012) by Cheryl Strayed
This book is for anyone who wants to, simply put, become a better person. It is a collection of articles from an advice column titled “Dear Sugar,” which Cheryl Strayed of Wild fame initially wrote for The Rumpus. She advises on everything from high school drama to the crippling grief following the loss of loved ones, often relating others’ problems to her own chaotic and tragic life experiences. Letter writers sometimes confess horrible secrets, but Strayed never becomes judgmental, nor does she restrict herself to advice-column conventions. Her replies are sometimes ten pages long, and her ability to segue from lengthy anecdotes into pointed messages is admirable. Ultimately, even when she gives tough love, she never forgets that on the other end of each letter is a real person. Reading the book can help you realize how much worse it could be, as well as how to persevere even if it does get worse.

--Ben Kinney, Youth Services Assistant

Monday, January 2, 2017

Books set in Michigan

The past two years have seen the publication of a variety of excellent books set in Michigan. Here are five of my new favorites.

Captain Francesco Verdi, an Italian officer captured in North Africa by Allied forces, is sent to a POW camp in AuTrain in John Smolens’ latest novel, Wolf’s Mouth. The POWs are terrorized by Vogel, the senior POW and a ruthless Nazi. Once Vogel threatens Verdi’s life, Verdi escapes from the camp and hides out in Munising. Avoiding the police, Verdi and Chiara, a young Italian American woman Frank had met on earlier authorized trips into town, escape to Detroit where they marry and begin a new life as Frank and Claire Green. Some years later, an INS agent finds Green and informs him that Vogel is tracking down and killing former POWs who refused to conform to Nazi ideology at the camp. The agent wants to use Green to find Vogel so the American government can bring Vogel to justice for his war crimes. There is eventual justice but it happens on Verdi and Vogel’s terms. Turns out, about 1,000 German POWs lived at five camps in the U.P. Five thousand more survived the war in Lower Michigan. For more information, watch The Enemy in our Midst, John Pepin and Jackie Chandonnet’s 2010 film about WWII POW camps in the U.P.

Garden for the Blind by Kelly Fordon is a series of linked short stories set in and about Detroit and its suburbs between 1974 and 2012. In the first story, young, wealthy Alice witnesses an accident that kills her sister. Left mostly to herself, Alice becomes friends with her neighbor and troubled classmate Mike. Together they blame an unpopular classmate for something Mike has done. The stories follow Alice and Mike as they graduate and move through adulthood into middle age as they face or ignore the consequences of their youthful acts. Family members, friends, and other local people weave paths through the stories. These include a veteran who sleepwalks, a Buddhist monk, and a woman who has devoted her life to teaching children who are blind. It is she who builds the titular garden in the last, breathtaking story.

Detroit Hustle is an upbeat chronicle by journalist Amy Haimerl that recounts her and her husband Karl (and their dogs)’s move from their increasingly expensive place in Brooklyn to a large abandoned house in Detroit. Haimerl draws on her early life in Denver where she inherited a can-do spirit from her hard-working dad. This attitude fortifies the young couple who buy cheap but find that loving restoration (including plumbing, heat and electricity) costs so much more than they imagined. What’s most fascinating in this memoir is Haimerl’s discussion of the realities of living and working in Detroit with its stressed economy and politics.  She questions their role as middle class homeowners in terms of gentrification alongside the many residents who stuck it out in Detroit over the past decades. She points to the need for Detroit’s lending institutions to redefine investment requirements. Hard work and believing in Detroit must count in the process. She speaks about living in and accepting Detroit for what it is without trying to make it into what a newcomer left behind. Haimerl and Karl are stronger for the challenges they found in both their new home and their new neighborhood and community.

Reading a description (other than mine, of course) of Travis Mulhauser’s debut novel, Sweetgirl, might cause you pass it by. If you did, though, you’d miss a quirky, satisfying quick read. Sixteen-year-old Percy sets out to find her mother whom she assumes is strung out on meth, probably in Shelton Potter’s cabin. When she enters the cabin, she doesn’t find her mother. She does find a drugged and sleeping Shelden and his equally unresponsive girlfriend. Hearing a cry, Percy hurries upstairs and discovers a baby girl, alone, snow falling from an open window onto her crib. Impulsively, Percy grabs the sweet girl, planning to drive back to town and drop her off at the local hospital. She didn’t count on her truck getting stuck in the snow, the tragedy that befalls her friend Portis as he helps her race through the blizzard, first in his truck and then by foot, and the violence brought about by Shelden’s armed friends who want the baby back. Neglected children, drugs, addiction, sounds bleak? Yet the story is also about courage, family, survival, and fierce love. It even has its humor. I look forward to Mulhauser’s future books.

Feather Brained by Bob Tarte is summarized succinctly by its subtitle: My Bumbling Quest to Become a Birder and Find a Rare Bird on My Own. However, the subtitle can’t express the charm, humor, and encouragement readers find in its pages. Tarte is not a nature person. I don’t think he likes getting his shoes dirty. At least not until his first and unexpected sighting of a rose-breasted grosbeak. Totally caught in the bird’s spell, Tart, reluctantly, starts to develop a relationship with the outdoors in general, and to birding in particular. His book charts Tarte’s truly bumbling progress getting to know birds and sticking with it when the weather turns wet or wintry, especially when the chase for a particular bird takes him away from home. (He doesn’t like to drive far either.) Along the way, Tarte meets birders and those who care for orphaned or injured birds. Tarte and his wife Linda live in Lowell with ducks, turkeys, parrots and wild birds they rehabilitate. I watch the trees and rivers for birds much more than I did before reading Tarte’s joyful book.

The staff of Peter White Public Library wish you a happy New Year filled with all the joy, strength, and encouragement found in libraries full to the brim with books, music, films and adventure.

--Cathy Sullivan Seblonka, Collection Development/Reference Librarian