Monday, July 31, 2017

New fiction

It’s time to dive right into a few adult fiction books. I know it’s summer and being outdoors is probably high priority, but why not check out one of these great novels in case you want to sit down under a big oak tree to cool off or cool off at the lakeshore?

A Separation by Katie Kitamura is a very suspenseful story of infidelity and intimacy. I know same old same old you say? This is about a woman who is about to end her marriage and then her husband goes missing and she went to find him. She found she understands less than she thought she did about the man she used to love. Her secrets are revealed as the author propels you into a world of a woman on the edge.

Do you like thrillers? Then this is the book for you: The Agent Runner by Simon Conway is a thrilling thriller. Conway takes his readers behind the headlines in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and unveils a nightmare of violence, double agents, drugs, sadistic torture and so much more. This is a very vivid and true to life story that will possibly make you forget to take a breath.

Elan Mastai is an award-winning screenwriter and All Our Wrong Todays is his first novel. It's about time travel and alternate timelines, written with a gallon of humor, a couple quarts of wisdom, and a cup or two of insightfulness and optimism. This story is about the various versions of ourselves that are shed and grown into over time and about friendship, family, unexpected journeys, and of course, love in its many forms.

Paul Auster, the first recipient of the NYC Literary Honors in the category of fiction, has written several bestselling books like Sunset Park, Invisible, and The New York Trilogy.  His latest, 4321, is the first novel he’s written in seven years. The story starts out in Newark, New Jersey in March of 1947 and is about a boy, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson. The story presents four simultaneous and independent fictional paths for this boy's life to follow. This novel will keep you guessing right up to the end.

Lastly, there’s Feversong by Karen Marie Moning, the epic conclusion to her pulse-pounding Fever series. This story, like the others in the series, features MacKayla Lane. If you have read her other books in this series, then you must read this one. MacKayla has unleashed “The Sinsar Dubb”, a sentient book of evil that has possessed her body and will stop at nothing to satisfy its insatiable quest for power. This is a must read.

--Nicki Malave, Network Coordinator

Monday, July 24, 2017

New novels

It’s late July and that means we are (finally!) into full summer vacation mode!  Whether you are a beach bum, backwoods braveheart or a glamping enthusiast, your experience will be complete when you pack a new novel.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
Liv and Nora take their families on a holiday cruise and everyone is thrilled. The ship's comforts are enjoyed by all. The children love the buffet and the independence the ship offers. But when they go on an onshore excursion, the families find themselves far from the ship’s safety.

No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts
JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart.  As he reenters his hometown, he's shocked to find that the people he once knew have changed, just as he has. JJ's return, the wealth he’s accumulated and his plan to build the dream home stirs up not only his family, but the entire town.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
After Rachel Childs suffers an on-air breakdown, she lives as a shut-in. However, she now enjoys her ideal life with an ideal husband--until a chance encounter causes that life to dissolve. She finds herself within a conspiracy and must find the will to conquer her deepest fears.

American War by Omar El Akkad
Sarat Chestnut is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she grows up shaped by surroundings.  The decisions she soon have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of both strangers and family.

Marlena by Julie Buntin
Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat's new town in rural Michigan is lonely, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat, naïve and desperate for connection, is quickly lured into Marlena's circle. As the two girls turn the untamed landscape of the desolate small town into their playground, Cat catalogues a litany of firsts while Marlena's habits grow more sinister. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water. Now decades later, Cat finds herself still tangled in the past.

The Girl Before by JP Delaney
After a traumatic break-in, Emma needs a new place to live. Finally she finds a safe, affordable option that is also an architectural masterpiece.  But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant--and it does. After her own personal tragedy, Jane also needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she, too, is drawn to the space--and to its creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home's previous tenant.  As Jane tries to uncover the truth she finds herself on the same path, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan 
Nora and Theresa Flynn are young women they leave Ireland for America. Nora is the responsible sister; she's shy and serious and Theresa is gregarious--thrilled by their new life in Boston.  When Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they have yet to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of her big Catholic family with four grown children.  Theresa is now a cloistered nun and estranged from her sister.  After decades of silence, Nora and Theresa are forced to confront choices they made fifty years before.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz 
When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. Alan’s traditional formula has been hugely successful--so successful that she must continue to put up with his increasingly questionable behavior if she wants to keep her job.  Conway’s latest tale includes the standard dead bodies and intriguing suspects, but as Susan reads, she’s convinced there’s a real story hidden in the manuscript. 

--Heather Steltenpohl, Development Director

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Not so light reads for summer

I’ve never understood why summer was considered the best time for light reading. It’s a time when many people are working less and therefore better suited to take on those tough, long books they’ve always wanted to read. (Plus, taking a giant book to the beach makes you look really cool.) Here are a few of my favorite anti-beach reads, all of them challenging, fun, and available at PWPL.

Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives, 2007
The book, in the form of diary entries and interviews, reconstructs the lives of a young man and a group of avant garde poets with whom he gets involved in Mexico. Bolaño delights in giving fragments of a story—sometimes via untranslated poems, sometimes via journal entries that stop abruptly—and having readers figure out the big picture for themselves. The book is impressive in the sheer number of characters and settings it manages to include. Despite its title, this is not a standard detective novel: it concerns a mystery that seems as deep as life itself, and after you finish the book you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, 1985
If you’ve read much Cormac McCarthy, you probably know the setup—a 19th-century young man goes on a quest through the southern US and quickly finds himself in circumstances he isn’t prepared for. As with many other McCarthy books, both the landscapes and people in Blood Meridian are relentless. This one of the first books I checked out from PWPL, and it is perhaps most challenging in its sentences, which stretch many of the rules of the English language. (There is one sentence in this book that will have you floored; you’ll know it when you get to it.) McCarthy can deftly pack pages’ worth of detail into a single paragraph, and although this means the reader has to do some unpacking, it is as much fun as work.

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, 2004
If you’ve seen the movie, you’re familiar with the concept: there are six different stories from the past, present, and future—encompassing everything from a 19th-century composer to a futuristic cyborg society. The stories, each with their own narrators and styles, change into each other abruptly, and part of the fun for the reader is figuring out how they’re all linked together. Mitchell shows an impressive ability to convincingly write in six different genres, and more importantly, this is not just a pretentious concept; the stories are all fun and engaging, and together they deliver a powerful message about humanity.

Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad, 2010
This is another book that spans genres, time periods, and perspectives. At its heart are a few people in the music industry, and the book involves the people they spend their time with as well as the people they become. Each chapter is told by a different character, and while the chapters all work as short stories, they also form a larger narrative. Despite having a complicated structure, this book is accessible and fun. Not to mention, one of the chapters is in PowerPoint Slides, and Egan makes it compelling!

Samanta Schweblin, Fever Dream, 2017
This novel, translated from Spanish, seems like the perfect beach read—it’s short, and its title suggests pulpy horror—but there is something deeper at work. A dying woman talks with a young boy, and although their conversation seems clear enough, the reader begins to think that they can’t possibly be talking about what it seems they’re talking about. The woman starts to tell a story, and it gets crazier from there. The fact that Schweblin can take simple sentences and images and create a discordant, gripping, and wholly new story out of them is remarkable.

--Ben Kinney, Youth Services

Monday, July 10, 2017


Look for a great selection of memoirs on the library shelves.  Some are written by celebrities, while others are the product of ordinary people who have taken extraordinary life journeys.  Check out the latest titles in the New Non-fiction section on the main floor.

Canada by Mike Myers (792.7028 MY).  A.k.a. Austin Powers, Wayne of Wayne’s World, and comedian for Saturday Night Live, Mike Myers spent his formative years in Canada.  This is Meyers’ tribute to that country of gracious, compassionate, fair-minded and industrious people who helped shape his view of the world - especially his view of the United States where he now resides.  Stories of the author’s outdoorsy childhood are very similar to those of us who grew up in the Upper Peninsula.  As you might expect from a famous comedian, this books is full of humor and some laugh-out-loud moments.

Jackie's Girl by Kathy McKeon (921 McKeon) is an intimate recollection of McKeon’s thirteen years as personal assistant to Jackie Kennedy after the death of President John F. Kennedy.  She tells about her interview for the job and getting to know the other staff, as well as the Kennedy children, John and Caroline.  McKeon also reflects back to her own childhood, which influenced how she viewed the famous Kennedys and adjusted to their prosperous way of life.  Many years later, after leaving her job to marry, McKeon kept in touch with Jackie, and was still regarded as a member of their family.  The book contains several pages of original photos from McKeon’s scrapbook

Vegan Betrayal: Love, Lies and Hunger in a Plant Only World by Mara J. Kahn (613.262 KA) begins as Kahn, a vegan of 25 years, prepares to bite into a bison burger. The results are surprising.  Kahn chronicles her own journey through veganism, as well as a wider history of vegetarians and vegans.   She delves into the finer points of food science and the nutrients that come from plants, meats, and dairy. Whatever kind of food you choose to consume and be identified with – be informed!

This Fight is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren (305.55 WA) is officially about politics, but Warren weaves in stories from her family history to illustrate how political policies affect all American families.  She writes about how her grandparents lived through the Great Depression, and about the measures taken by Franklin Roosevelt to create a Social Security safety net for the working class.  Warren travels through the politics of the twentieth century, bringing us forward to her years in Congress.  One of her concerns with the country’s current political situation is watching Roosevelt’s safety net crumble away each day, leaving the middle class without resources.  This book is a researcher’s dream with a section of notes and an index in the back.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (921 Noah) is a witty memoir about Noah’s childhood in South Africa.  The child of a black mother and white Swiss father, he was an outcast, as interracial relationships were illegal.  Just like the title, he was “born a crime.”  The first page of each chapter gives statistical or cultural information about South Africa, providing context to Noah’s stories about growing up in a country where 11 official languages were spoken, and each tribal culture clashed with the next.  Try to stifle a giggle while reading the story of the prom date and hold back your tears when Noah’s mom becomes the victim of domestic violence.

Neverthless by Alec Baldwin (921 Baldwin) begins with the author’s childhood as one of six children in a financially strapped household in Massapequa, New York.  His unremarkable - and a bit dysfunctional - upbringing taught him to observe life and create from within.  He grew up, went away to college, took an interest in politics, and ended up enrolling in acting classes.  Baldwin’s first break was landing a steady acting job on “The Doctors” a 1980’s era soap opera.  From there he moved to California and became one of Hollywood’s most recognized stars.  The book also covers Baldwin’s less-than-perfect public moments.  Don’t miss “The Actors Index” at the back of the book which reflects Baldwin’s ongoing romance with the profession of acting.

Traveling with Ghosts by Shannon Fowler (921 Fowler) is a love story about building a life with your chosen partner, only to have that person die unexpectedly of a jellyfish sting in a foreign country.  Even worse was Fowler’s battle with authorities who wanted to declare her husband’s death a drunk drowning because a beach full of lethal jellyfish wouldn’t be good for tourism.  What direction does one take in their life journey toward healing and wholeness?  Fowler honored her partner by continuing to travel the world until she was able to start a new chapter of her life.

--Lynette Suckow, Reference Department