This YA fiction title is a twisted tale of a small child who murdered a baby. Allegedly. When the reader meets this child, she’s now a teen, stuck in a group home. Her mom visits, just like clockwork, every other Sunday at the exact same time after church. Life is fairly predictable; the chaos and violence of the group home is expected. And then an unexpected surprise causes Mary to finally search for her voice and fight for a different future.
A little dark, Allegedly is a fast-paced read. The reader slowly learns what happened the night Alyssa died: through Mary’s memories, interview transcripts, and newspaper clippings. Both teens and adults are sure to be enthralled by this suspenseful murder mystery.
This title is available in print and electronic formats.
- Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds,
- Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh
“I will live to leave this place. I will walk out a free man. If there is a hell, I will see these murderers burn in it.” Such are the thoughts of Lale, the titular character.
Lale leaves his family behind, with the hopes that by proactively volunteering to work for the German government as requested, that the rest of his family would be left alone. Unfortunately, the reader knows that is not how history unfolded in the 1940s.
The bulk of the story takes place during Lale’s time in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps. His care-taking, risk-taking, potentially deadly choices rushes the reader through the story. The reader sees through Lale’s account the heartbreaking sights that are burned into his memory. And yet, a romance begins.
A fictional tale based on the true life of Lale Sokolov, this story was originally written as a screenplay. The author, Heather Morris, wonderfully handles the incongruences between the atrocities committed and the love that bloomed between Lale and Gita.
- We were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter,
- Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Rahi, an only child, reveals to his parents the truth of his sexual orientation and is met with silence and is subsequently cut off from his family. After an unexpected phone call, Pival is informed by her husband that Rahi is dead, a sudden death. She never quite believes him, but has no evidence to the contrary.
Pival’s appeal draws in the reader from the very beginning. She is at once independent and helpless; isolated in a place crowded with her husband’s relatives. The story arc follows the widow’s travels, from India to America, as she enlists the help of a tour guide company to travel the country that took her son.
While not narrated directly by the individuals themselves, each chapter is viewed from the perspective of a specific person. The text is well written and the characters are likable, but realistic. The story has a colorful cast of secondary characters, some of whom are charming, even as they are trying too hard. “[B]ut when you are being in Rome, as it were, you pay Roman fees” warned the tour company owner about the custom of tipping in America.
This title is also available as an eaudiobook on hoopla here: https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/12126524
Inspired by a letter to Professor P.V. Glob author of the book "The Bog People" from a group of school girls. "Meet Me at the Museum" is the story of the correspondence of one of the girls, written to Professor Glob many years later and the reply from the current museum curator. The story, written in letter form is the "meeting" and growing friendship between English farm wife, Tina and the Danish museum curator, Anders. Both Tina and Anders are fascinated by the Tollund Man, the subject of the book, "The Bog People" by professor Glob. Both are dealing with grief and loss and find that they have more in common than expected. By sharing their thoughts and feelings, joys and heartbreak they become close friends although they have never met. This meditative and inspiring book looks at choices people make and hope renewed through friendship.
- Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schafer,
- The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
The “Marsh Girl,” as she is commonly known, is the subject of rumor and gossip in the small town of Barkley Cove in North Carolina. Other times they call her marsh trash. Abandoned since age 10, Kya’s ingenuity helps her survive. However, the rumors and gossip become even worse as she occasionally dreams of what it would be like to join "polite" society. Will she ever escape her isolation?
Set in the 1950s and 60s, this first novel by Delia Owens will draw the reader in from the very beginning. It is an intriguing mix of romance and murder mystery, although a little "fluffy," but otherwise enjoyable.
- Clock Dance by Anne Tyler,
- Whiskey When We’re Dry by John Larison
Not too much in the way of romance for this book stamped with a romance label. I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos is a contemporary fiction novel that is part mystery with a hint of romance.
The alternating narrators, Clare and Edith, are revealing their stories piece by piece, each from their own lifetime. Edith is based mostly in the 1950s, while Clare, who mentions texting and Facebooking, is clearly present day.
As with many fiction selections, oftentimes the reader knows exactly where the story leads, hence why the term “foreshadow” exists. However, in I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, there are a few surprises in store that the reader won’t see until right in the moment that it happens.
- The Violets of March by Sarah Jio,
- As You Wish by Jude Deveraux,
- Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis,
- Island Girls by Nancy Thayer
If you like camping, vintage camping trailers, restoration or all things vintage this beautiful book is one you will want to pick up. This book is just short of 200 pages of photographs and stories of vintage camper enthusiasts and their experiences with finding, restoring and camping in vintage trailers. Learn about a whole community of people from diverse backgrounds who form groups across the country. These groups host rallys and attend events together forming families of friends who share memories. For some this is a creative outlet, others it is a way to bond as a family or re-visit happy childhood memories and for many it has become a business and a way of life. The stories are short and interesting, the pictures are wonderful. This is a nice book to pick up and enjoy as you are relaxing.
- Tin Can Homestead: The Art of Airstream Living by Natasha Lawyer and Brett Bashaw,
- Glamping with MaryJane: Glamour and Camping by MaryJane Butters
The third book in the Sullivan's Crossing series introduces Dakota Jones who after spending years in the military is deciding what he will do with the rest of his life. He comes to Sullivan's Crossing to reconnect with his brother and sister who have found a home and happiness in the small town in the Colorado mountains. After arriving in town he is pursued by two beautiful women but is only interested the one woman he meets who isn't chasing after him. The Jones family has an uncoventional family history and learning to accept the past and move on is a part of their story. If you like romance and family drama with likeable characters and set in wonderful small towns you won't be dissapointed.
- Fools Gold Series by Susan Mallery,
- Creed's Cowboys Series by Linda Lael Miller,
- Cedar Ridge Novels by Jill Shalvis
This clever little book has 150 (most) commonly mispronounced words and descriptions of misuse. Although this book may not include every word you have questioned it does include a wide variety. Part of the fun in reading the book is that it will give several ways to correctly pronounce the word plus tell how it is normally mispronounced. The authors have also included history of the word's use. Some words you may have always hesitated to use and questioned how to pronounce and use it, while others never you might not realize "everyone" is pronouncing it incorrectly. The only downfall to the book was that it is limited to 150 words and some I always question where not included. This was a quick, fun read and an good resource.
- Savoir faire : 1000+ foreign words & phrases you should know to sound smart by Laura Lee ,
- The Horologico a day's jaunt through the lost words of the English language / Mark Forsyth ,
- You've got ketchup on your muumuu : an A-to-Z guide to English words from around the world / Eugene Ehrlich
Sometimes considered a taboo topic, race discussions are often swept under the rug. But not with this book. The author, Ijeoma Oluo, does not shy away from sensitive topics, with chapter titles such as "What is racism?," "How can I talk about affirmative action?" and "I just got called racist, what do I do now?"
Oluo provides excellent talking points and examples in each of her chapters often drawing on her own experiences and biases. The story of the basketball men visiting her group’s picnic shows she does not exclude or excuse herself for bias and insists we should all be so introspective.
This is an excellent read for any individual who wants explore the topic of race or to have open discussions with other willing community members.
- We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nahisi Coates,
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Life coach Jen Sincero uses inspiring life stories and funny advice to help readers find their inner greatness. Sincero wants readers to “understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love, and how to start living the kind of life you used to be jealous of”. Whether you are looking for relationship, career or money advice, this book offers advice on a vast array of topics.
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson,
- Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis,
- You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Bestselling author Nora Roberts takes on a plot that is all too realistic in our current lives-a mass shooting incident. Shelter in Place begins with a typical Friday night in the 90s with teenagers and families at a shopping mall. Simone and her friends are at the movies when a man steps into the theater and begins shooting. Meanwhile, Reed is a waiter at a restaurant in the mall, and while on break he witnesses another man enters the mall in a well-planned attack. Not everyone survives that night and the survivors have to learn to live with the events that happened. Years later, the survivors and rescuers are targeted by an unknown assailant. Can Simone and Reed stay alive while trying to catch the murder?
As an avid reader of the Romance genre, this book might be my favorite Nora Roberts book in her vast catalog of stories. Roberts does not hold back and her story is horrifyingly realistic. It is a spectacular physiological thriller that readers will not want to put down.
Shelter in Place is available at VCPL in Regular Print, Large Print, Audiobook, eBook and eAudiobook.
- Cold cold heart by Tami Hoag,
- Some kind of hero by Suzanne Brockmann,
- Killjoy by Julie Garwood,
- Blue smoke and murder by Elizabeth Lowell,
- Murder List by Julie Garwood
Creator of a very popular lifestyle blog and business, Rachel Hollis, releases her first non-fiction book that is part memoir, part motivator and a complete joy to read. Hollis designed each chapter to tackle a lie that every woman tells themselves. Each lie that Hollis told herself left her feeling undeserving, astounded and exhausted. Readers will enjoy Hollis’ writing style which makes you feel like your best friend is sitting next to you giving advice. Her goal is to remove the blindfold of the lies and help you lift yourself up to overcome. Once finished, you will be recommending this book to every woman you know.
Available at VCPL in Regular Print, eBook and eAudiobook. The author reads the eAudiobook and I HIGHLY recommend it.
Rachel Hollis also has two cookbooks available for check out in print at VCPL:
Upscale Downhome: Family Recipes, All Gussied Up
Real Life Dinners: Fun, Fresh, Fast Dinners from the Creator of The Chic Site
- Small victories: spotting improbable moments of grace by Anne Lamott,
- I regret nothing by Jen Lancaster,
- Let's pretend this never happened by Jenny Lawson,
- Furiously happy: a funny book about horrible things by Jenny Lawson,
- The tao of Martha: my year of LIVING; or, why I'm never, ever getting all that glitter off of the dog by Jen Lancaster
Sometimes you come across a book written so poetically that you get wrapped up in the language not matter what the story is. Sometimes the story is what compels you to keep reading. This book, “Mink River” by Brian Doyle is a combination of both. It is like reading very descriptive poetry combined with both amazing storytelling and everyday minutia. Author describes the details of everyday life where emotion and nature are combined in this fascinating story of life in a small town. You read about love, tragedy, adventure, and hope as seen through the eyes of various members of the town.
This book would be a good choice for book clubs.
- Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout,
- Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee,
- Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf,
- Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo
Stella Lane is a brilliant and successful Econometricist.She had even developed an algorithim to successfully help predict customer purchases.Although Stella is successful professionally she is not successful in her person life. Stella has Asperger's and finds relationships difficult and mostly unappealing. Her parents would like for her to marry and have children and have even suggested she try online dating.She decides that she will hire a professional male escort to help her learn how to have a relationship.Stella chooses Vietnamese-Swedish Michael Phan,who is as handsome as a K-drama star and even has the martial arts moves to match.Because of multiple family problems Michael has secretly been working as a male escort to help his family out of financial difficulty. The two are instantly attracted to each other and begin a "relationship".After several weeks of meeting Stella makes a proposition that Michael can't turn down. In this cute, sexy (warning: the book is very explicit although I found it easy to skip parts and still enjoy the story)and entertaining book two unlikely people find attraction,acceptanc,and love.You may find yourself cheering for them to work out their problems and find their happy ending . This book is a light,entertaining introduction to the subject of women with Asperger's.This is the first book by the author, looking forward to many more.
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion,
- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory,
- Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
"On the day I turn seventeen, there is a meeting to decide whether I should have the baby." Essie is not included in the meeting where her three options are discussed: a PR-nightmare abortion, an "adoption," or a ratings inducing wedding. She is the youngest child of the ultra-conservative Hicks family; originally famous for the father's televised church services, now a long-running family-oriented show called Six for Hicks.
While the matriarch of the family is usually the one calling the shots, Essie has been learning to play the game. As Essie gets closer to her goal, she finds she has even more questions: Who can she trust? Why hasn't she heard from her older sister? What is she willing to lose to gain her freedom? As the reader climbs further into the story, she will have her own questions: Why is Essie pregnant? What is it about this infamous journalist named Liberty Bell?
Covering a topic that may not sit well with some, this novel by Meghan MacLean Weir is hard to put down. This contemporary fiction selection is part drama, part suspense, and part unconventional romance, with quite a bit of subtly witty barbs thrown between characters. Often the reader can predict the direction of the story, but occasionally there are surprises.
- Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld,
- Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cook,
- Pretty Ugly by Kirker Butler
This book is a fascinating look at the inability of the Justice Department to prosecute individuals and corporations for white-collar crimes. The first section focuses on Enron and the subsequent fallout, followed by a lot of detail regarding cases, or lack thereof, against Arthur Andersen, KPMG and others.
Some of this book is a little dense with lawyer jargon and lists of law firms. However, those readers who wanted justice after the financial crisis and housing market crash will find themselves intrigued and probably outraged.
- Black Edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar ,
- No One Would Listen by Harry Markopolos
The Girl Who Smiled Beads is a well-written non-fiction selection that reads like a heartbreaking and, though the author may not like this description, inspiring novel. Alternating between her time as a refugee and her life after moving to America, the author, Clemantine Wamariya expertly compares and contrasts the two time periods. At one point Wamariya writes, "It was all so arbitrary: You should be killed, you should stand in line for food for seven hours, you should be fabulously educated and heaped with praise." How can there be such extremes in one individual’s life?
- Night by Elie Wiesel,
- A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah,
- The Last Girl by Nadia Murad,
- We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled by Wendy Pearlman
Author Rhodes-Courter is back discussing foster care – this time from the perspective of the foster parent instead of as the child in care. This follow up spans her college years to present day.
Unfortunately, she finds that the foster care system hasn’t changed all that much since she was in care. Kids are still bounced around frequently and some are returned to dangerous situations. While kids are in her care though, she does her best to fight for them. She searches for services, advocates for better care, and loves on the kids as best she can. Some of the children she fosters have favorable endings to their stories, but not all. One is particularly gut-wrenching.
All the while, she is still working on how her past is merging with her present. Stories of Rhodes-Courters’ visits with her biological family are both disappointing and heartening.
The reader will both adore and judge the foster families throughout the book: first the reader will feel respect for those helping the children caught in the system; then judgement because they are obviously stifling the teenagers; then excitement: adoption! Then more heartbreak.
Not all of the stories end in heartbreak, but this also isn’t a fairytale. Many children age out of the system each year, and before that, they are bounced around between many strangers’ houses. The author interviewed the children in care as well as the families who were caring for them, and often kept in touch after the child was no longer with the initial family. In some cases, it appeared as if the author was more concerned about the child’s welfare than either the foster family or the case workers.
To The End of June is an in-depth look at foster care, mainly focused on New York, as the author follows a handful of families over the course of a few years. Interspersed in the family narratives are discussions and thoughts from those who are, or were, employed within the foster care system, as well as the author’s own judgements and ideas about what is wrong and what could be done to help fix the care system.
- Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison,
- Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Before they were household names, many of the now-famous actors mentioned throughout Homey Don’t Play That!: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution were trying to get a foot in the door by way of stand-up comedy. The Wayans family, Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, and Eddie Murphy are just a handful of the names to be recognized in this book.
The reader is taken on a journey from Keenen Wayans’ early life, through his years producing In Living Color. To better explain the impact of In Living Color, the author includes many stories from early careers of African Americans in film and television, as well as the historical context of nationwide events and Fox’s foray into broadcast television.
Compiled from many interviews into a cohesive and easily-readable narrative, the author creates an intriguing read for anyone interested in African American history, television history, or those who simply enjoyed watching In Living Color.
This contemporary novel is the story of two sisters, Lucia, the younger sister, and Miranda, eight years older. After their mother's death and Lucia’s newly discovered mental illness, they are at odds for what they think is the best course of action to keep Lucia safe and “healthy” as Miranda always says. Lucia is a wanderer and traveler, and Miranda, the worrier, tries to fix everything.
The sisters’ lives take different paths, evermore widening the gap that’s come between them. Will they be able to come to an understanding? Or will their choices keep pushing each other apart?
Told in alternating narrators, the author writes the characters with such depth that the reader feels a certain empathy for all of them, even through their faults.
Told from sixteen-year-old Starr’s point of view, this heart-wrenching story describes her life – how she feels bounced between two different worlds and how she never feels fully herself. Then her worlds slowly begin to collide when her childhood best friend, Khalil, is fatally shot by a police officer and he becomes a national headline. Full of emotions and a wide cast of characters, this story is well told.
The audiobook version of this contemporary fiction work is wonderfully read and highly recommended. It enhances the dialogue and gives life to the characters in a way words on a page cannot. Be prepared with tissues.
This title is also available in print and ebook.
- Dear Martin by Nic Stone,
- The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
From the Publisher:
“They told you you need to be thin and beautiful. They told you to wear longer skirts, avoid going out late at night and move in groups - never accept drinks from a stranger, and wear shoes you can run in more easily than heels. They told you to wear just enough make-up to look presentable but not enough to be a slut; to dress to flatter your apple, pear, hourglass figure, but not to be too tarty. They warned you that if you try to be strong, or take control, you'll be shrill, bossy, a ballbreaker. Of course it's fine for the boys, but you should know your place. They told you 'that's not for girls' - 'take it as a compliment' - 'don't rock the boat' - 'that'll go straight to your hips'. They told you 'beauty is on the inside', but you knew they didn't really mean it. Well I'm here to tell you something different.”
This book is a survival guide for young women in today’s society. Girl Up addresses a wide variety of social issues such as sexism, feminism, social media and body image. Laura Bates explores these topics in a way that educates these women about the science behind the female body and explores how public image twists how women feel about their own self. This book is transparent, easy to read and the perfect way to learn how to stand up for yourself in a crucial phase of your life. VCPL has this title available for checkout as a print book.
- We're going to need more wine by Gabrielle Union,
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,
- The beauty myth By Naomi Wolf,
- How to be a woman by Caitlin Moran,
- Not that kind of girl by Lena Dunham
Host of the popular HGTV show Fixer Upper, Chip Gaines, shares with readers his path to success as well as his stumbles. Chip lays out his adventures in being a landlord, owning a landscaping business and how it led him and Joanna to their real estate and home goods empire known as Magnolia. Fans of the show will enjoy learning more of Chip’s back story and seeing more of their personal lives as the couple makes Waco THE place to live in Texas. VCPL has both print and eBook copies for check out.
- It takes two by Jonathan Scott,
- Better than new by Nicole Curtis,
- The pioneer woman by Ree Drummond
Aiden Shaughnessy runs a busy and successful construction company. Since the death of his mother, he has strived to make his father proud while helping to raise his five siblings. Now his father is worried that Aiden is missing out on living his own life. Along comes interior designer Zoe Dalton who is hired on to help finish his custom built homes. Readers will enjoy finding out how Zoe’s heart and Aiden’s strength lead them to a happy ending. This title and the rest of The Shaughnessy Brothers’ series are available as an eBook on Hoopla Digital. Ask at the Reference Desk for assistance downloading this delightful romance novel.
- Someone to love by Jude Deveraux,
- What we find by Robyn Carr,
- Into the fire by Suzanne Brockmann,
- Any dream will do by Debbie Macomber,
- The troublemaker next door by Marie Harte
Elsa’s best friend and superhero is her seventy-seven year old grandmother. The two are inseparable as Elsa thrives on her grandmother’s stories from the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas. When Elsa’s grandmother dies, she leaves behind a quest for the seven year old to give letters to people in her left she has wronged. Following her grandmother’s last request, Elsa’s adventure is full of beasts, monsters and the strange adults in her life.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is a story about a little girl learning about the right to be different in a world where everyone is struggling to act normal. Backman’s storytelling remains as entertaining as his debut novel, A Man Called Ove. This title is perfect for readers and book clubs looking for a book that delves into life and death from both an older and younger perspective. VCPL has this novel available in book, ebook, audiobook and eaudiobook formats.
- The secret life of bees by Sue Monk Kidd,
- Be Frank with me by Julia Claiborne Johnson,
- The magic strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom,
- Big fish by Daniel Wallace,
- A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This non-fiction account of a young life spent in and out of homes in foster care is both heart-wrenching and inspiring. Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s memoir details the angst of missing her biological mother, the wrath, love, or indifference of various foster parents, and the internal struggles she faces in regards to her brother’s well-being.
Her story, where one can “see” the internal dialogue of a young child forced into the foster system, provides a voice in a realm where frequently those voices are ignored. Rhodes-Courter makes a way for herself where others often cannot.
The audiobook version, read by the author, is highly recommended.
It takes a little bit to get used to the author’s style of writing, but the subject matter is fascinating. The author, Rothstein, proposes that it was de jure, not de facto, segregation that separated Americans. What follows are details of historical federal, state, and local government actions woven with specific stories of individuals who were directly affected by such matters. For example, the author discusses temporary housing for the war (WWII) effort, zoning laws, and expressway construction, and how those directives altered lives.
A great read for those interested in social justice issues.
When Maddy is found after an apparent suicide at the bottom of the library where she loved to volunteer, her husband and daughter are left to pick up the pieces. How come they didn’t see the signs? Will reading Maddy’s diary provide insight? Both family members blame themselves, wondering how they missed so much about the woman they thought they knew.
This contemporary fiction selection provides just a bit of fantasy as the three main characters, Maddy, her husband, Brady, and daughter, Eve, all rotate as narrators, with Maddy trying to influence her family from the other side.
Before the Declaration of Independence, there was a post office system in what would become the United States of America. This in depth look at the Post Office describes the rise and fall of mail delivery systems, such as stagecoach and railroad, and provides historical lessons on the influence of the postal system on roads and transportation, literacy, the magazine industry, and more.
An excellent read for anyone interested in American history or those who enjoy trivia.
- Neither snow nor rain: a history of the United States Postal Service by Devin Leonard
This book is comprised of a collection of essays by those who serve or love our National Parks. It is an easy book to enjoy because each essay is no more than five pages, and the reader can peruse different chapters without missing a specific plot point. The essays provide a different perspective on the National Parks and the value they have to different people. These stories highlight National Parks that one may not typically think about.
The essay entitled, "I still see her," is a particularly moving piece found in Chapter 3's People to Remember.
- 50 States, 5000 Ideas,
- A Thinking Person's Guide to America's National Parks
Accidentally on Purpose is Book 3 in Jill Shalvis’ latest series Heartbreaker Bay. The series invites readers to get to know the tenants and employees of an active apartment complex in San Francisco. Elle Wheaten is the manager of the building and she enjoys bossing everyone around. Everyone listens exceptArcher Hunt, a security consultant who rents space for his business in the building. Their mutual friends have all witnessed the tension between the two but have no idea that they have a history. Archer claims to want nothing to do with Elle but when Elle starts to date other men, Archer begins to sabatoge her dates. Readers will enjoy the pair’s witty banter as well as the lengths they go to in order to avoid committing to one another.
Readers who enjoy romances with close circle of friends will love this series. This book can be read as a stand alone but VCPL does own the entire series.
- French twist by Roxanne St. Claire,
- Just the way you are by Christina Dodd,
- Lone Calder star by Janet Dailey,
- Alma mater by Rita Mae Brown,
- The aftermath by R.J. Prescott
It’s a true crime novel with a twist. The author, James Renner, has inserted himself near the center of this missing persons mystery. Maura Murray disappeared in 2004 after wrecking her car in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire. Renner, an investigative journalist, can’t get this story off of his mind, and thus, obsessively tracks down every lead he can find. With the help of good connections, some online forums and “arm chair sleuths,” he’s able to piece together Murray’s past and form his own conclusions. Strangely, Murray’s family doesn’t appear to want to assist Renner with his investigation.
Intermixed with the Maura Murray story are bits and pieces about Renner’s family and current life, as well as snippets of his past that may or may not have led to him becoming an investigative journalist.
With short chapters and an interesting storyline, this book is a very quick read.
“Hot pockets!” If you sang that jingle in your head when you saw Jim Gaffigan’s name as the author of this book, then you should read this book.
Gaffigan covers many types of food in this book, from fruits & veggies (no one REALLY likes those) to fast food to fancy food to Hot Pockets, (obviously), all with a great sense of humor and a little self-degradation.
The best part of reading this book is when you find you agree with what Gaffigan describes. You may think to yourself, “Yes! Wendy’s IS the best fast food chain!” or “Exactly! Who waits two minutes for anything out of the microwave to cool?”
Food: A Love Story can be finished in a day or two, and you will probably find yourself reading sections of it aloud to whomever is near.
This book can also be found in print.
Sweetness swears, “But it’s not my fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault.” But is it? What happens in childhood does not always stay in childhood, as Toni Morrison demonstrates in this novel.
Bride. Just Bride. It suits the woman who wears that name. She’s a regional manager at Sylvia, Inc., a cosmetics company that is quickly becoming hip. Bride is the inventor of one of the six new cosmetic lines for Sylvia, Inc., and the proud owner of a Jaguar, which she happens to mention repeatedly. She’s also a show stopper with her blue-black skin, all white clothing, and “wolverine eyes.” Others’ eyes are always drawn to her, and always have been, although the reasons are different now than when she was a child.
All grown up and in search of a small town called Whiskey, a freak accident on a winding country road provides Bride with time to think and reflect, once she moves past the self-pity and boredom. It is here that she learns her beauty is not the key to her confidence or success. A mysterious, young child named Rain helps with Bride’s healing process.
God Help the Child is a modern-day story, told mainly from Bride’s point of view, but the reader does get to enjoy insights from Sweetness, Rain, and Bride’s best friend, Brooklyn. These and other characters alternate being the narrator, providing brief glimpses into what they tell themselves to rationalize their own behavior. Book sections are separated by the name of the character acting as narrator, so it is important to take note of the section headings.
Perfect for the knitter who feels comfortable with basic stitches, but wants to explore more patterns that can be created. Stitches vary from beginner to expert, so there is something new for everyone in this book. Directions for each stitch are listed in both written and charted formats. Knit Stitch Dictionary does not include item patterns such as scarves or afghans, but by learning new types of stitches, a creative mind will design her own. The final few pages provide information on needle sizes, gauge, starting and ending a garment, and how to read a chart.
Looking for an easy new stitch to try first? This reviewer recommends the Garter Diagonals.
- Crochet stitch dictionary,
- The principles of knitting
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is the debut novel by Ransom Riggs that tells the story of a fifteen-year-old boy named Jacob who had grown up listening to his grandfather’s extraordinary stories of his bizarre life in an orphanage in Wales and how he came to live in America. Soon after the story begins, Jacob’s family is struck with tragedy as Jacob finds his grandfather mysteriously murdered after hysterically telling Jacob over the phone that the monsters from his stories were coming.
After his grandfather’s death, Jacob helps clean out his grandfather’s apartment and finds a letter from Miss Peregrine, the orphanage director, dated 1940. Jacob takes this letter to his new psychiatrist, Dr. Golan and they both convince Jacob’s dad to take Jacob to the small island in Wales to learn more about his grandfather’s past. They leave to spend three weeks in Wales on an island that is only accessible by ferry.
Jacob’s father tells him not to wonder around the island on his own and asks him to find someone to accompany him but no local children will go near that ruins of the house that his grandfather used to occupy. Jacob finds an old house that was destroyed by bombs in wars past and searches it for hidden secrets. In the crumbling house, he finds several very old pictures of peculiar children doing very extraordinary things, such as lifting large boulders. He finds this unbelievable until he sees a girl, one from the pictures, spying on him. She quickly runs away into a bog, where he can find no traces of her except for a few footprints.
Jacob leaves the ruins to find his father, but instead he runs into the girl again and learns that he is had stepped into a time loop and is now in the year 1940. The girl, Emma, introduces him to all the other children who tell Jacob that he must be special like them and his grandfather if he is able to go through the time loops. He also learns that the monsters his grandfather had always told him about are real, and he can see them too.
The monsters that Jacob can now see have been wreaking havoc while Jacob is spending time with Emma and other kids from the 1940s orphanage. Eventually, the monsters murder a man in Jacob’s time and Jacob decides he must face the monsters to save anyone else, including the orphans who he has become very fond of, from being killed. With the help of Emma, they team up to save Miss Peregrine and her home for peculiar children.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (film) will be released in theaters September 30, 2016.
Available in the following formats: print, audiobook, and e-book at the Vigo County Public Library.
Alzheimer’s at 38. It’s not what one would expect to happen, but Anna Forster is living that reality. But just because she’s been diagnosed, does not mean she has forgotten everything. Anna is determined to have, and end, things her way.
Eve, a newly single mother, shows up at Rosalind House, the assisted living facility, a few months after Anna. She intends to be the new cook, but she can’t help but become attached to Anna and the other residents. Told from alternating points of view, this story will capture the reader and perhaps provide a different perspective on person’s living with Alzheimer’s.
This title is available in print or ebook.
- The Story of Forgetting
Henry Hayden is a cold and calculating psychopath. He has always told lies mixed with bits of truth which he believes is the only way to lie. Henry is masquerading as a world famous author and living the lifestyle of one. He's never written a book in his life, but his wife, Martha, has written several. It is their agreed secret that he take credit as the author of her books. She only wants to write. Stir in to the mix a pregnant mistress who wants marriage, a person from Henry's past stalking him and haboring revenge, a sad mistake of murder, and Henry's life and lies begin to unravel. Can he keep spinning lies and half truths or will it all come crumbling down?
" It's not easy to keep a secret. A lifetime keeping silent is agony. Looked at that way, a murder's punishment begins on the day of his crime."
" His punishment had already begun, each day when he awoke, the memory would wake with him and be renewed. To keep a secret, you should never lose concentration; tell nobody and never forget. That was how Martha had begun the first chapter of , Aggravating Circumstances. She must have meant him, who else could she have meant?"
" Martha had written in pencil on the last page…hang on a little while longer. Can you guess how it ends? Kisses, Martha"
This is an excellent first novel by the German screenwriter, Arango. The author takes a look at truth and lies as they relate to our identities, the truth as it relates to the past and our memory of it, fame, and mortality. The book is fast-paced, suspenseful, dark, and witty. It is one psychologically, wicked tale to add to your reading list.
- The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith,
- The Hook by Donald Westlake,
- The Chimney Sweeper's Boy by Barbara Vine
The speaker was Zak Ebrahim. The 1200 audience members jumped to their feet with tears and applause as the poised young man concluded his powerful nine minute talk. It was a TED conference in Vancouver, British Colombia. Also speaking that particular day in September 2013 were Bill and Melinda Gates, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Jehane Noujaim and the musician Sting but it was Zak’s talk that resonated with the listeners. They were transported back to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center where six individuals were killed and over a thousand injured.
One of the masterminds of this heinous act was El-Sayed Nosair, who was serving time in the Attica Correctional Facility, a supermax New York State prison, for crimes related to the assassination of the leader of the Jewish Defense League. Considered a prime instigator of terrorists’ acts in the United States, El-Sayed was specifically mentioned in one of Osama bin Laden’s infamous video messages where bin Laden urged the world to "Remember El-Sayed Nosair."
El-Sayed Nosair was Zak Ebrahim’s father. Zak’s memoir, The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice, was inspired by his heart-rending TED talk. Imagine moving more than twenty times during your childhood, not only being bullied because you are the new kid in school but because of the atrocious crimes committed by your father. This true account recalls in great detail being awoken at age seven, advised to put all his worldly possessions into a sheet by his panicked mother and the flight from their apartment in New Jersey to which he would never return. The trials and tribulations endured by Zak and his family are detailed in his remarkable journey to escape the legacy of his father’s choices.
At barely under one hundred pages, this is a "small book about big ideas", designed to be read in one sitting. Zak’s choice to reject his childhood indoctrination of bigoted ideology espoused by his father and to instead embrace a life of tolerance and empathy provides an ultimately hopeful story.
"I’ve spent my life trying to understand what drew my father to terrorism, and struggled with the knowledge that I have his blood in my veins. By telling my story, my intention is to do something hopeful and instructive: to offer a portrait of a young man who was raised in the fires of fanaticism and embraced nonviolence instead.”
Zak Ebrahim’s The Terrorist’s Son won the American Library Association’s Alex Award in 2015 for being one of the 10 best adult books of the year that also appeal to young-adult readers. A portion of the earnings the author received to write the book have been donated to Tuesday’s Children, a nonprofit organization helping communities affected by terrorism around the world.
- Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam after Iraq by Michael Scheuer,
- American Hysteria: the untold story of mass political extremism in the United States by Andrew Burt,
- The Better Angels of Our Nature: why violence has declined by Steven Pinker,
- I am Malala: how one girl stood up for education and changed the world by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and -- lately -- concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.
On June 10, 1940, even the French Government officials fled in anticipation of the Nazi takeover of Paris, but Sumner Jackson stayed. He had a duty as doctor and “resident physician in charge,” and he intended to help all he could. Avenue of Spies, an historical account of an American living in Nazi-occupied France, gives the reader a glimpse into what it was like for one family in World Word II Paris.
Sumner Jackson was an American doctor who had fallen in love with a Swiss-born nurse, Toquette, when they were both working in a hospital during the First World War. By the time World War II began, Sumner and Toquette had a 12-year-old son together and were living in one of Paris’ finest neighborhoods, on Avenue Foch. At the onset of the war, Sumner sent his wife and son elsewhere for safety, and he spent most nights in the American Hospital where he worked. Eventually, wife and son returned, and both Sumner and Toquette battled the Nazis in their own ways.
Sumner’s personal rebellion against the Nazis began early on, when he hid Allied troops and other members of the resistance in the basement of the American Hospital. After hiding those who needed to escape, he often kept no record of their names, or officially recorded them as “deceased.”
The reader watches the Nazis advance through the eyes, ears and minds of the Jacksons. The Nazis are 150 miles from Paris, now closer. Hospitals and ambulances are being targeted by the German troops, and Sumner’s hospital paints over any red cross symbols that would announce their presence and intentions. “From the terrace of Sumner’s office… [he] could see flashes of light from bursting artillery shells splashing across the horizon. Hitler’s storm troopers were less than twenty miles away.”
Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and one American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Alex Kershaw reads more like a thrilling spy novel than a history lesson and draws on extensive interviews with Phillip Jackson, Sumner and Toquette’s son. This non-fiction selection includes a selection of photographs of the Jackson family, as well as images of many other high-profile names discussed in this book.
- Fighters in the Shadows,
- A Spy Among Friends
It's a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist...creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project---the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you're forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?
- Horns by Joe Hill,
- Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill,
- 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill,
- Finders Keepers by Stephen King,
- Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Travel back to the Great World War and globe trot the world with a colorful band of characters affectionately known as the Explorers Guild. Published in October, The Explorers Guild is penned by Jonathan Baird and Kevin Costner, the famous actor and filmmaker, assisted by Stephen Meyer. Rick Ross is responsible for the fabulous illustrations.
This great adventure tome harkens back to the golden age of adventure writing in the similar vein of authors Jack London, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson. The action revolves around the Ogden siblings: brothers John and Arthur, and their sister, Frances. Each has a vastly different reason for searching for the lost city of Shambhala but all are of the upmost importance to the seeker, ranging from saving a life to saving the world. Broken down into five distinct sections, this high octane tale journeys from the “Ice Fields Wide and Wicked” to the desert sands of Southeast Mesopotamia to “secret waterways beneath Asia” to the bustling neighborhoods of New York City.
The 770 page novel is almost split evenly between text and graphic storytelling. Kevin Costner shares the reason for the length of the book. “It is packed with illustrated comic panels by Rick Ross. His phenomenal illustrations fire my imagination.” The images impart some conversation or historical fact necessary to move along the plot. As the book is full of comic book images, an assumption could be made that it is a book aimed at children. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many times the action is not suitable for younger readers. For example, the evil Sharif Al-Shar’s end is described as “The Sharif is last seen as a dark feather of blood over the village square” after a maid, in retribution for grievances out of counting, most of them unprintable, ignites a cannon to which the sultan is strapped to by Major John Ogden of the Fifth Dragoon Guards.
According to the authors, it took almost ten years to fully develop the storylines. The word choices, while lengthy, are reminiscent of the time period. When Arthur Ogden claims responsibility for the book’s events, he writes, “I can tell you straight out that we are the victims of an ill-judged boast on my part made in a spasm of jealousy and wrath and of all thing patriotism; which boast has flung us far from the pleasure of Society and put us on term of intimacy with Death, as I say without exaggeration.” Arthur then promises to end his chronicle on a bright note of revenge. With such delicious writing, it forces the reader to journey to the end.
The extended title of the book is “The Explorers Guild Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala - Being an Introduction to that Secret Society And an Account of Certain Travelers in their Far-Faring Search for the Sacred City Yrs. 1912-1918.” It is available from the VCPL in hardback.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore,
- The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle,
- The Adventures of Tintin by Herge,
- Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
Four patients being cared for during a 12 hour shift in the hospital may not sound challenging to the layperson, but to a nurse who may hold their lives in her hands, it can stretch the limits of her/his endurance. Theresa Brown, a nurse on a hospital oncology floor, the Bone Marrow Transplant floor, explains just how much care as well as paperwork goes into a patient's stay. The four patients she chiefly describes have a variety of medical issues and positive and negative outcomes. The reader becomes caught up in their stories, wondering who will live and who will die, and those questions are answered. Theresa says that many nurses rarely even get their lunch half-hour, at least on her floor, so they are working at times almost to physical impairment due to low blood sugar. The reader comes to have an even greater respect for these individuals who usually know more about the patient's condition than their doctor, and may help the doctor avoid a mistake in the patient's care. An interesting read for the layperson, and nurses who read it will be nodding their heads that she has captured the essence of a nurse's day-to-day worklife. The author was previously an English teacher at Tufts University before becoming a nurse, and has written for the New York Times, as well as for professional nursing journals.
Humans of New York: Stories is a photographic, storytelling blog that began on Facebook. When Brandon, the author, began this journey five years ago, he was simply taking pictures. Now he interviews the subjects of his photographs and has somehow created a safe place on Facebook for people to share their secrets. This book is a compilation of those stories. In this book, the reader meets people of all ages, with all kinds of stories to tell. The reader will laugh out loud, turn the page, and tear up.
While this book looks large, (426 pages of stories!), it can be read in one evening if the reader so chooses.
- Little Humans,
- The World of PostSecret
On the surface Alexis has a great life: she is engaged to a wonderful man who not only loves her but is also a committed Christian. Chase is everything she has looked for in a man and he is also handsome, wealthy and a successful businessman. Alexis has a home she loves and a successful business as a motivational speaker. Everything seems perfect but she still struggles to be happy and to find the peace she seeks and to get over her grief.
Alexis attends church at the Deliverance Outreach Church pastored by Pastor Curtis Black. During a Sunday service the pastor invites those in the congregation to write a Christmas prayer. Alexis decides that she will write a prayer as a way to get past her sadness and experience again joy and happiness. She prays for herself but also prays for others who have experienced hardship and loss. Just praying the prayer helps her to feel hopeful about the future.
As Alexis struggles with grief and depression she also has to deal with a future mother-in-law who does not like her or want her to marry her son. She also has problems with her sister who has made choices for her life that Alexis thinks are wrong and although she tries to help her sister they have don't have a good relationship.
Dealing with personal difficulties and finding a way past them is the main theme of the book. There are ups and downs along the way and a few crises that the characters experience but in the end things are worked out and come to a good conclusion.
This book is part of The Reverand Curtis Black Series.
- Victoria Christopher Murray,
- ReShonda Tate Billingsley ,
- Terry McMillan
At its core, American Meteor is a story of America’s Manifest Destiny as it spread, like a “meteor,” west from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. This “meteor” metaphor is also often used for characters who burst upon history’s scene, tear, often violently, through life as meteors do the sky, and finally burn into oblivion. The narration is often poetic and well written, and while morals and lessons can be learned from it, it refrains from being preachy.
American Meteor, the latest work by award-winning author Norman Lock, is a finely crafted story of one man’s journey through the United States’ westward expansion. The story opens as Stephan Moran returns to consciousness in a hospital after being wounded during a Civil War battle, and briefly relates his experiences as a bugle boy for the Union, as well as flashing back to childhood memories in a New York slum and of fleeting sights of a man soon revealed to be Walt Whitman. Told in the first person as a series of rembrances to a friend, Jay, the episodes jump around in time, though they are all clearly dated, giving the impression that the reader is privy to a diary or memoir. Over the course of the story, the narrator encounters other famous men: General Ulysses S. Grant, General George Armstrong Custer, and Crazy Horse among them. Throughout, Stephan Moran is a witness to history, and never an actor until near the very end, allowing the reader to be witness alongside him.
True to a first-person narrative of rembrances, he embarks on tangents to elaborate on a point as fancy takes him. Where this may be a literary sin for many authors, it works for this type of story. As back stories, they add detail and color where necessary, and do not at all make the story disjointed. The details are gritty, but not so gory that they disgust, and given with a familiarity that implies the character’s experience. The tone, grammar, and vocabulary are archaic enough to grant a sufficient sense of authenticity, yet not so authentic that it becomes difficult or tedious for twenty-first-century readers to grasp.
The storytelling voice shifts about midway into the novel. It is a gradual shift, so the reader may not notice the drop in nineteenth century tone. Whereas meteors flare and vanish, Lock’s characters will remain.
Overall, American Meteor is a well-wrought witness to legend.
Inspirational fiction is evolving and developing new subgenres such as romantic suspense. Irene Hannon is a master of this type of inspirational fiction. “Buried Secrets” is the first book in a new series, Men of Valor. The story begins with an accidental death involving four college students that is hidden or covered up then jumps to the present where once the skeleton is uncovered the consequences of this act begin to unfold. The central characters are Lisa Grant, a small town Police chief originally from Chicago and Mac McGregor, a former Navy Seal who is now a county police detective. The author creates likeable main characters and provides supporting characters, Mac McGregor’s two brothers that will probably appear in future books in the series. There is a strong family element in her work, including a Lisa’s loyal dog named Tally. Lisa and Mac start to work together to discover the truth about the death. The plot begins slowly but picks up as events unfold. Danger and threats arise as one individual attempts to keep secrets hidden. Readers will quickly identify with the main characters and how their romance unfolds. There is real suspense and danger even a few twists and turns. This novel is a solid and familiar story with charming characters and a safe predictable outcome. Readers will eagerly be waiting for the next MacGregor mystery and romance.
- DiAnn Mills,
- Nancy Mehl,
- Lis Wiehl,
- Lynette Easton,
- Dani Pettrey