Revision of What We're Reading from October 1, 2012 - 4:34pm

Unpublished

"What We're Reading" Winter 2011


Lethal by Sandra Brown

 A widow and her young daughter are taken hostage by a suspected mass murderer.  While being held captive, Honor learns that the death of her husband Eddie may not have been the accident that everyone thought.  Wanting to find the truth, she goes on the lam with her captor.  This novel will keep you captivated.     DONA

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Containing essays from more than 100 contributors, this book oozes encouragement and enthusiasm, and sometimes reads like a thoughtfully-written commencement speech.  The author begins by relating her own best advice before sharing thoughts from Hugh Jackman, Jay Leno, Lisa Ling, Vera Wang and so many others.  It’s a book you can pick up once a day and read a page or two. You will find inspiration differently each time.  SANDY

nightwoods_frazier, charles.jpg Luce is the caretaker at an abandoned lodge in the mountains of North Carolina.  After her sister Lily’s murder at the hands of Bud, Lily’s abusive husband, Luce takes care of Lily’s impaired twins and begins a relationship with the lodge’s new owner. Bud’s reappearance brings danger and the threat of violence to the beautiful landscape. ETHAN
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Fat Charlie Nancy is a mild mannered accountant engaged, much to his amazement, to a very beautiful girl.  Then his estranged father dies suddenly, and a brother he didn’t know existed appears on his doorstep.  Unbeknownst to him, his father was the African Trickster God, Anansi the Spider.  Fat Charlie’s life is suddenly turned upside down when the other African gods decide to get their revenge on Anansi’s sons.  LINDA

The Mirador by Elizabeth Gille

The life of the popular Russian author Irene Nemirovsky comes alive in this fictionalized memoir written by her youngest daughter.  Part I vividly describes Irene’s childhood growing up in a wealthy family during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s in Kiev and then St. Petersburg when riots, pogroms and revolution were prevalent.  Part II continues the saga during the late 1940’s when Irene and her family live in France, her literary successes and the many difficulties they encountered because of their Jewish faith.  A haunting story of a life fraught with love, hope and much anguish.  APRIL

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the late 19th century, Solomon Schechter is shown fragments from the geniza in Egypt.  He realizes the importance of the fragments to Jewish history, and travels to a storeroom filled with discarded texts and documents in a synagogue in Old Cairo.  His efforts in sifting through thousands of fragments help reconstruct the social and economic history of Old Cairo between 950-1250 AD.  This is an engaging and readable tale about Schechter’s life and adventures in biblical studies, and the doorway he opened into the world of the past.  DEBBIE D.

Gun Games by Faye Kellerman

Police Lt. Peter Decker is investigating teen suicides at a local prep school.  Gabe, a teenage piano prodigy abandoned by his parents, has been taken in by Decker and his wife.  After Gabe has a run in with bullies from the prep school, he is approached by an Orthodox Persian girl who asks him to attend the opera with her, and from there, a forbidden romance blossoms.  Kellerman skillfully weaves the teenagers’ relationship with Decker’s investigation at the prep school and leaves the reader hoping to see more of the star-crossed lovers.  BARBARA

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie

Empress Catherine II of Russia was an enigma of her time.  Although born a minor German princess of little importance to the massive empire, she rose through rebellion to become one of the most beloved rulers of Russia.  The author brilliantly recounts the many trials, tribulations and heartaches that eventually result in Catherine the Great.  Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys historical nonfiction and biography.  PRECIOUS

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

It’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London.  Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows.  When Mr. Burrows is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, and keep it out of the hands of their enemies – Russian spies with nuclear weapons.  The Apothecary offers a little of everything; magic, romance, mystery and historical fiction.  AMY

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Alice is a 39-year-old slightly jaded mother of three who spends her time exercising, shuttling her kids to activities, and volunteering at their school.  She is in the midst of a bitter divorce when she suffers a concussion while taking a spin class.  When she awakens, she has forgotten the last ten years of her life, and is now an idealistic newlywed madly in love with her husband and eagerly awaiting the birth of her first child.  While she does not remember the events of the last ten years, including the births of her children, this bump on her head might be the best thing that ever happened to Alice as she rediscovers who she is and what she has become.  ELLEN

Bill Moyers Jounal by Bill Moyers

Covering diverse subjects such as aging in America, the power of poetry, the politics of food and the fate of the American newspaper, the reader engages in 47 of Bill Moyer’s conversations with activists, writers, scholars and political figures.  There’s something for everyone in his interviews with the likes of John Grisham, Jane Goodall, Howard Zinn and many more.   SANDY

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On Christmas Eve, Earth is invaded by an alien race known as the Boov, and Christmas is renamed Smekday in honor of the Boov captain who engineered the event.  Street smart Gratuity Tucci, also known as “Tip”, sets out to drive to Florida where Americans are being relocated to make room for an influx of Boov.  Along the way she picks up J.Lo, a renegade Boov.  Face paced and hilarious, this book pokes fun at modern society.  LINDA


"What We're Reading" Fall 2011

 

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

The introductory novel in Archer’s ambitious series The Clifton Chronicles includes a cast of colorful characters, and takes us from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of World War II, when Harry Clifton must decide whether to take up a place at Oxford or join the Navy and go to war with Hitler’s Germany.  From the docks of working-class England to the streets of 1940’s New York City, the author takes the reader on a journey through to future volumes which will bring to life one hundred years of recent history as well as the Clifton family’s story.  GAIL

City of Orphans by Avi

It’s 1893 in America and Maks, American-born son of Danish parents, is living in a tenement in New York City and struggling to help his parents and siblings live from day to day.  Maks works long hours as a newsie, selling newspapers on a street corner.  He befriends Willa, a homeless girl living in an alley, who comes to his rescue when a gang, the Plug Uglies, attacks Maks for his newspaper money.  Maks and Willa team up to help Maks’ sister Emma, who is wrongly accused of stealing a watch at the new Waldorf Astoria hotel where she works.  Avi has written a satisfying historical fiction adventure incorporating the values of family, friendship and courage.  DEBORAH

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April, devastated by the death of her brother, Buddy, reconnects with her childhood friend, Oliver, who surprisingly attends the funeral.  Their lives, which have gone totally separate ways – she a bartender with a string of abusive boyfriends, and he a law student engaged to be married – once again become entangled as their mutual affection resurfaces and powerful memories of their inseparable past bring them closer and closer together.  This rekindling between the two of them causes extreme conflict in their lives as well as the lives of their families, but most especially Oliver’s fiancée, Bernadette.  A compelling read.  APRIL

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The rise of anti-Semitism in Europe during the 13th century and its impact on a prominent rabbi and his family is the focus of the compelling historical novel. Rich in detail, the book traces the life of Shira, from her sheltered childhood to her role as wife of Rabbi Meir ben Baruch of Rothenberg.  Shira struggles to preserve her religious traditions as she yearns for a forbidden education.  The family’s travels from Paris to Germany and finally to Israel are vividly portrayed in this debut novel.   ETHAN

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This is a psychological thriller which calls to mind Helter Skelter and the Charles Manson murders. It tells the story of Jay Erlich, a Manhattan surgeon with a stable family and a great career, and his brother Charlie, who has just the opposite life in California.  Charlie calls Jay to tell him that his son Evan has seemingly committed suicide.  But things are not always as they appear as Jay finds out after traveling to California to help his brother cope with his loss.  It seems Charlie’s past has caught up with him, and the more Jay looks into Evan’s tragic death, the more he realizes that it may not have been a suicide at all.   BARBARA

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 Domestic boredom, sociopolitical commentary, and infidelity are at the center of this family drama.  Kennedy explores the life of Hannah Buchan, starting in the late 1960’s at the University of Vermont to the present day.   This page turner will also absorb the reader in the persuasive details of one woman’s emotional life.   SANDY

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Ruth and Dana are born two hours apart at the same hospital in New Hampshire to vastly differing families.  The families maintain contact, celebrating the girls’ mutual birthday each year.  As Ruth and Dana grow up,   pursue love and contemplate their future, the truth of what really unites their families is finally revealed in this moving chronicle of the primal bond of family connections.  KAREN F.

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The circus arrives without warning. As children, Celia and Marco were unwittingly drawn into a competition between two masterful magicians, receiving very different forms of magical rearing.  Events conspire to lead the two competitors to employment with Le Cirque des Reves, or The Circus of Dreams.  The circus (which appears suddenly, only opens at night and closes at dawn) becomes the venue for their competition and their rebellion.  As the rivals attempt to get the upper hand on one another, they come to realize they are actually expressing their love for one another with their magical feats.  The stakes for the competition are high. There must be a clear winner and the loser must make the ultimate sacrifice.  A delightful story of competition, sacrifice, magic and love.  PRECIOUS

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Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix.  Luckily, he’s got an ace plan for the best year ever.  With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school’s oppressive Code of Conduct.  The book has great illustrations, and is a good choice for fans of Diary of a Wimpy KidAMY

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Katey and her roommate, Eve, meet handsome Tinker Grey in a jazz club on the last night of 1937.  They become an inseparable threesome, even though Tinker and Katey are romantically attracted to each other.  When Eve is permanently injured in a car crash, Tinker, who was driving at the time, devotes himself to her, dashing Katey’s dreams of having him for herself.  Katey then puts all her energies into her career and quickly rises up the corporate ladder. But paths continue to cross, creating an intriguing gem of a novel.  APRIL


"What We're Reading" April 2011

 

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This book chronicles the journey of Dana Stellgarten through the uncharted waters of being a newly-divorced mother. She is forced to confront her middle school daughter’s eating disorder and her son’s anger issues.  Dana struggles to find her place among the women in her neighborhood without the comfort of a man on her arm.  She dips her toe into the murky waters of dating and is surprised by what she discovers.  Ultimately, Dana is searching not only for her own identity, but for the true meaning of friendship. DEBBIE L.

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Bakery owner/sleuth Hannah is surprised to discover that an old flame has come back to town.  She soon discovers him “stone cold dead” and frantically tries to find the killer before she becomes a victim herself.SUSAN G.

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These novels are the story of the town of Kingsbridge, England, and the building of its breathtaking cathedral.  The first takes place in the 1100’s, and the second in the
1300’s, during the Bubonic plague.   Lots of architectural detail stands out against a background of hypocrisy in the church and the life and culture of that time. ROBERTA A.

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Two women running away from their marriages collide on a foggy highway.  The survivor of the fatal accident is left to pick up the pieces not only of her own life, but of the lives of the devastated husband and fragile son that the other woman left behind.  As these three lives intersect, the book asks how well do we really know those we love, and how do we open our hearts to forgive the unforgivable?  SANDY C.

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Someone is stealing cars, with children in the back.  Jack Caffery and Flea Marley pursue their separate off-the-books investigations and follow up clues that gradually move them closer to finding the carjacker.  The identity of the culprit is well-hidden, the plot well-written and the clues cleverly placed.  BARBARA P.

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After reading a column about American knives written by Bernard DeVoto, Julia Child sent him a letter expressing her adamant feelings on the subject.  His wife, Avis, responded to this letter which was the start of a deep and devoted friendship lasting more than 35 years.  The correspondence between the two women details the political climate of the time, the trials and tribulations if their personal lives, but more Importantly, the determination, dedication and lengthy process that it took to have Julia, Simca Beck and Louisette Bertholle’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published.  Reading this delightful memoir is an inspiration to anyone who wants to try their hand at French cooking.
APRIL J.

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Alton Richards finds himself at loose ends during the summer before his senior year in high school.  His girlfriend, who he still pines for, has dumped him for his best friend, and he has no job prospects.  His mother steps in and sets him up to be his blind great-uncle’s
chauffeur and card turner at local bridge tournaments.  Alton hardly knows his wealthy great-uncle and knows absolutely nothing about bridge, but his circumstances and mother give him no choice but to accept this unusual summer job.  Family secrets are revealed in this warm, funny and charming story about a typical self-centered teen and his crotchety old uncle.  LINDA G.

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Peter, a paramedic, rescues Sheila from a horrible car accident.  The rescue leads to a love affair, marriage and a baby girl.  But Sheila has a past, as well as serious issues that Peter’s love may not be able to rescue her from.  Readers will recognize the exhilarating and painful realities of love and parenthood in Shreve’s latest work.  AMY M.

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Twin sisters Margaret and Agnes Smith are adventurous Ladies ahead of their time.  As independent-minded women they travel to the Middle East in the late 1800’s.  The
sisters happen upon one of the earliest known copies of the Gospels at a time when biblical scholarship and rugged travel were not part of the lives of women.  DEBBIE D.

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Mr. Thomas has certainly captured the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his creation of new intrigue and adventure for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.  If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, you won’t be disappointed in this collection of new adventures.  DEBBIE D.

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Ethan Frome is a good, salt-of-the-earth man living a stifled life due to obligation.  As a result, at age 28 he is married to a “sickly” nagging woman named Zeena, working on a failing farm and hopelessly in love with his wife’s maid/cousin, Mattie.  As Ethan’s feelings for Mattie, as well as his disgust for his wife’s laziness and cruelty become harder to ignore, Ethan is forced to make a choice between love or a slow death.  Edith Wharton marvelously reveals the layers of Ethan’s story with just enough restraint to make the ending that much more affecting. PRECIOUS M.

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A teenaged girl living in an enclave in the Ozarks is abandoned by her father, who runs a meth lab and has skipped bail after putting the family house up as collateral.  In order to save the house, she goes on a search for him in the face of reticence and hostility on the part of distant relatives who may have information as to his Whereabouts—all while being left in charge of an ailing mother, two small brothers, and limited food, transportation and money.  The academy-award nominated film of the same name is based on this book. ERIKA H.


"What We're Reading" November 2010

 

lemoncake_bender.jpg Bender, Aimee.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  On her ninth birthday, Rose discovers that she has a magical but disturbing power.  She can taste the emotions whatever they may be of the person who cooked the food that she eats.  When she tastes a piece of the birthday cake her mother made for her, she realizes that her happy, together mother is really filled with despair and desperation.  This “gift” haunts her through the rest of her life.  Add a wacky brother to the mix and you have a quirky novel.  APRIL
claudeandcamille_cowell.jpg Cowell, Stephanie.  Claude and Camille.  A gripping historical novel about the torrid relationship between Claude Monet and his lifelong love Camille Doncieux.  Camille was Monet’s best friend, lover, mother of his children and muse.  The author describes the wrenching poverty and indignity the couple suffered as Monet, along with fellow unknowns Renoir, Pissarro and Cezanne, struggled to make a name for himself in a change-resistant  19th century France.    Monet and Camille must deal with parenthood, financial pressure, long separations, career frustrations and romantic distractions, all of which eventually take a toll on their relationship.  Cowell’s convincing narrative suggests that their flawed but passionate love is the source of both the beauty and the sadness of Monet’s art.    ETHAN
notmydaughter_delinsky.jpg Delinsky, Barbara.  Not My Daughter.  When Susan Tate’s seventeen-year-old daughter announces she is pregnant, Susan is stunned.  A single mother and principal of the local high school, she has struggled to do everything right.  She now must attempt to accept the pregnancy, support her daughter and find her way through the town’s negative opinions.  AMY
bogchild_dowd.jpg Dowd, Siobhan.  Bog Child.  In 1981, at the height of Ireland’s “Troubles”, eighteen-year-old Fergus is distracted from his upcoming exams by his imprisoned brother’s hunger strike, the stress of being a courier for Sinn Fein, and dreams of a murdered girl whose body he discovered in a bog.  AMY
bird in hand_kline.jpg Kline, Christina Baker.  Bird in Hand.  After having only two drinks at a party, Allison has a devastating car accident which begins the unraveling of her life and the lives of her husband, Charlie, and their friends Claire and Ben.  The four make difficult choices that alter life as they each knew it.  APRIL
liarliar_larsen.jpg Larsen, K.J.  Liar, Liar.  If you are looking for a light mystery, this might be right up your alley.  This comic debut is written along the lines of Janet Evanovich, and introduces Cat DeLuca and her  Pants On Fire Detective Agency.  After being burned by her ex-husband, Cat decides to open up her own agency and help other people catch their cheating spouses.  After meeting with a client, Cat follows the “husband” and ends up outside an exploding building and in the hospital.  Follow Cat and her family of Chicago cops as she deals with chasing down the “dead” husband and staying out of the sights of a determined killer.  BARBARA
mrsdarcy_smith.jpg Smith, Lee.  Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger.  Lee Smith is a gifted writer especially when it comes to short stories.  Her new collection is just as good as her two previous ones, News of the Spirit and Me and My Baby View the Eclipse, both highly recommended.  The characters are quirky but genuine.  The stories are filled with both humor and insight into the human condition.  LINDA

"What We're Reading" February 2010


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Doetsch, Richard. The 13th Hour. Nick Quinn is arrested for the murder of his wife, Julia.  While awaiting arrest at the police station, an elderly man appears and gives him the opportunity to go back in time one hour at a time for twelve hours.  He will learn more information about Julia’s murder each hour he goes back.  He hopes to change the course of the future and saves Julia’s life, but in the process he learns his actions in the past may change the future in surprising, and not always desired ways. Debbie L.

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Hamilton, Masha. 31 Hours. Isolating himself from everyone in his life, 21 year old Jonas Meitzner begins the final process to make a major sacrifice for Allah.  As his family and friends begin to realize that something is terribly wrong, they quickly attempt to reach out to him before something goes awry.   A riveting and most compelling read. April

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Bloom, Amy. Away. After her family is killed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian travels to the United States to begin a new life.  After learning that her young daughter may still be alive, she travels from the glittering streets of NYC to Seattle, Alaska and finally to Siberia. Her epic journey is filled with sorrow, heartbreaking realities and deep passions of the heart.  A stunning book!  APRIL

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Cullen, Dave. Columbine. Cullen is an award winning journalist who spent 10 years perfecting Columbine into the most accurate account of the horrific high school massacre.  Information in this book is taken directly from the killer's journals and tapes, police reports and eye-witness accounts.  It surely is a chilling story from beginning to end, although it allows the reader to gain a new, more factual perspective of the event and rule out long standing media myths.  It undeniably depicts the support, strength and courage of the Columbine community.  Jaclyn

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Cain, Chelsea. Evil at Heart is the third book featuring Detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell.   The media has turned Lowell into a celebrity, giving her the name the Beauty Killer.  She even has with a fan club following.  This is a fast paced, hard to put down page turner.  I recommend it for anyone interested in a good thriller. Barbara

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Brown, Sandra. Rainwater. A short novel set in Texas during the Depression.  Ella Barron has a hard life as the owner of a boarding house, but a lodger, who is also dealt a tough hand in life, ends up changing her whole world.  A heartwarming story about dealing with trying circumstances. Sandy

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 Stead, Rebecca.  When You Reach Me.    As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, “The $20,000 Pyramid”, a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seem to defy the laws of space and time.   2010 Newbery Award winner.  Amy

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Glass, Julia. The Whole World Over. In this second novel from the author of the 2002 National Book Award Winner Three Junes, Glass tells us the story of Greenie Duquette, the owner of a small bakery in Manhattan's West Village, Greenie's husband Alan Glazier, a psychiatrist with hidden issues, and their small son George. A number of other characters stories are cleverly interwoven in the main storyline, including that of Greenie's good friend and customer, Walter, a gay restaurant owner in search of true love, and Saga, a memory-impaired woman trying to find her way in the world. This is an engaging, winning tale with many interesting characters. I don't want to give too much of the plot away and I would avoid reading the jacket flaps. I loved listening to the audio version of this book. Linda

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Parks, Brad. Faces of the Gone. Parks, a former reporter for the Star-Ledger, has writtena compelling debut murder mystery focusing on a quadruple murder in a vacant weed-choked lot in Newark. The police have no leads, but Carter Ross (an investigative reporter for the Newark Eagle Examiner) discovers that the four victims have a connection, which puts him on the path of an ambitious killer. Based on a real-life quadruple homicide that took place in 2004 over Thanksgiving weekend in Newark. Ethan


"What We're Reading" Winter 2009


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Beaton, M.C.  A Spoonful of Poison: An Agatha Raisin Mystery.    Fiction.  Number 19 in the Agatha Raisin series of British cozy mysteries, this book features PR agent turned detective Agatha trying to find out who poisoned the jam at the church fair’s jam-tasting booth while pursuing her latest paramour.  A real treat.   Debbie D.

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Boyne, John.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.     Fiction.  Bruno is the nine-year-old son of a Nazi commandant.  After he and his family move to Auschwitz, Poland, he stumbles upon a “curious farm” surrounded by a high fence and occupied by people wearing striped pajamas.  He strikes up a friendship with Shumel, a boy close to his age, with devastating results.  A powerful and memorable tale.  Ethan

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Diaz, Junot.  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.     Fiction.  Oscar is an overweight nerd who can quote Tolkien in his sleep, has an almost unhealthy obsession with anything Sci-Fi, and spends most of his “social life” engaging in role playing games and spells of unrequited love.  While this might sound like the typical American teenage experience, in Oscar’s machismo-obsessed New Jersey Dominican neighborhood, he is a complete reject.  Add a bitter and verbally abusive mother and a rebellious sister to his woes, and hilarity ensues.  Precious

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DuMaurier, Daphne.  Rebecca.    After her tragic death in a sailing accident, Rebecca’s legacy haunts both her widower, Max de Winter, and more especially his very young new wife who becomes obsessed with Rebecca’s charm, her distinction, her social skills and the love that existed, she believes, and still exists in Max’s heart.  A spellbinding mystery! April

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Beauman, Sally.  Rebecca’s Tale.  Twenty years after the death of Rebecca de Winter, Terrance Gray arrives in Kerrith, the town next to Manderley, to research and attempt to solve the mystery of her strange and sudden death.  Eliciting the help of man who was the town magistrate at the time of Rebecca’s death, as well as his daughter, Gray uncovers startling information about the life and death of this intriguing figure, and also about his own past. April

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Picardie, Justine.  Daphne.  A present-day Ph.D. student, who loves the book Rebecca and its author Daphne DuMaurier, is writing her thesis about the author, the Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell.  Her fascination and obsession with these subjects unveils a fifty-year-old mystery, complete with stolen manuscripts and forged signatures.  This literary mystery and the failing marriages of the two main characters will keep readers on the edge of their seats. April

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Lockhart, E.  The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.  Young Adult Fiction.  Frankie Landau-Banks attends an elite boarding school, where she captures the attention of campus heartthrob Matthew.  Though she spends most of her time with Matthew and his friends, she soon realizes that she will never truly be part of the group, because she is a girl.  Smart and determined, Frankie learns about the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, a male-only secret society of which Matthew is the leader.  Through crank emails, she takes control of the Loyal Order and directs the group in a series of elaborate pranks.  This is a refreshing story about an empowered female hero.  Linda

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O’Shaughnessy, Perri.  Show No Fear. Fiction.  For all Perri O’Shaughnessy fans, this title is a prequel to the Nina Reilly series.  A great thriller, the book gives insight into the start of Nina’s law career and introduces her future lover, Paul van Wagoner.  The book is a look back into Nina’s life and what has caused her to become the person she is today.  Barbara

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Sparks, Nicholas.  The Lucky One. Fiction.  An unforgettable story of romance and suspense about a man whose brushes with death lead him to discover the key to his destiny and true love.  U.S. Marine, Logan Thibault finds a photo of a smiling woman during his third tour of duty in Iraq, and comes to believe that the photograph is a lucky charm.  When he returns to the U.S. he decides to track down the woman in the photo.   The chain of events that follow make for a gripping and compelling story of the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love.  Ethan


"What We're Reading" Spring 2008


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 Woodard, Colin.  The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down. Swashbucklers, ruffians and murders are just some of the contemporary epithets given to the infamous pirates of the 17th century, including Blackbeard, Black Sam Bellamy and Charles Vane. However, these men and the men that joined them were more than just the sum of their legends. To the astonishment of contemporaries and historians alike, they established a crude but distinctive democracy in the Bahamas, carving out their own zone of freedom in which equality reigned (to a certain extent) and leaders were elected and  deposed by democratic vote. For a very brief period, know as the Golden Age of Piracy, the pirate republic was so successful it severed Britain, France, and Spain from their New World empires until famous privateer Woodes Rogers took up the call to save “civilized” society from piracy. Woodard draws upon years of research, oral history and primary sources to bring the world of pirates and privateers to life. This well written and thoroughly entertaining work is not to be missed by anyone interested in history or piracy and is a great choice for the reluctant nonfiction reader.   Precious

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Bass, Jefferson, Flesh and Bone. Forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton is once again involved with recreating a death scene at the world famous Body Farm.  On the verge of breaking open a gruesome murder case, Dr. Brockton's life and career are put in danger when the killer sets up a new murder scene implicating the doctor.  Brockton must use all his skills to prove his innocence.  Barbara

thethirdjesus_chopra.jpg Chopra, Deepak. The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore. Chopra sees Jesus as having three identities: the historical Jesus, the Son of God, Jesus as embodied in formal religion, and the Jesus whose teachings are cosmic or universal for all those seeking personal experience of God or enlightenment, regardless of religious affiliation. The author offers his thoughts on Jesus as a personal guide to spiritual growth through what he calls his God-consciousness. Looking at Jesus through this perspective offers a path of personal experience of the larger Self, which is embodied in everyone. Debbie
waterforelephants_gruen.jpg Gruen, Sara. Water for Elephants. An old-fashioned and endearing novel, told in flashback by 90 year-old Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the “Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth,” a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. While attending Cornell Veterinary School, Jacob learns that his parents have been killed in car crash, leaving him penniless, so he drops out of college and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus. This is a harrowing and eye-opening experience, however, because he has to care for a menagerie of exotic creatures, including an elephant that only responds to Polish commands, and also deal with a motley crew of midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks. He also falls in love with Marlena, the star of the equestrian act – a romance complicated by her husband, the unbalanced, sadistic circus boss who beats both his wife and the animals.  The magic of how Jacob and Marlena’s love survives obstacles seems fitting for a poignant and gripping story about the ins and outs of the circus.  The book is partially based on actual circus stories and illustrated with historical circus photographs.  Ethan

 

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Perrotta, Tom.  The Abstinence Teacher. Sex education, soccer and Christian fundamentalism make strange bedfellows in this shrewd, yet compassionate novel from the bestselling author of Little Children.  Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at a high school in a quaint all-American suburb where parents are involved in their children’s lives and where no opportunity for enrichment goes unexplored. This comfortable existence is disrupted when members of the Tabernacle, a local evangelical Christian church, protest against Ruth’s candid manner of teaching sex education. As the public crusade escalates, Ruth is forced to adopt an abstinence curriculum, which she does wearily and halfheartedly. However, plot twists ensue as Tim Mason, a vocal member of the Tabernacle church and coach of the girl’s soccer team, decides to close the soccer games with prayer.  Ruth, whose daughter plays soccer, strongly objects to this practice and encourages other parents to sign a petition. As Ruth and Tim attempt to form a compromise, a relationship oddly develops. Issues of sex and religion that have shaken the town become, in the end, the story of what Ruth and Tim’s newly forged relationship will soon become.   Ethan

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Reinhardt, Dana.  A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life.Sixteen-year-old atheist Simone Turner-Bloom's life changes in unexpected ways when her parents convince her to make contact with her biological mother, an agnostic from a Jewish family who is losing her battle with cancer.  (catalog annotation)  Simone is a fresh and honest character who takes the reader on her journey in search of her family history and religious faith as well as experiences of first love and heartbreaking loss.  Simone is a teenage character, but is in no way stereotypical.  The author portrays her as full of the questions, anxieties, tender moments and growing pains that are real to us all.  Amy

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Tolle, Eckhart.  A New Earth. Eckart Tolle takes us beyond our own lives to show that we now have an opportunity to birth a new, more loving world.  This involves a radical inner leap of consciousness from the current indentification with our ego to an entirely new way of thinking about who we are.  For this to happen, the very structures of the human mind would need to undergo an evolutionary transformation. In A New Earth, Tolle shows how this transformation can occur not only in ourselves, but in the world around us. In illuminating the nature of this shift in consciousness, Tolle describes in detail how our current ego-based state of consciousness operates. He then gently and in very practical terms leads us into this new consciousness. We will come to experience who we truly are, which is infinitely greater than anything we currently think we are. Kathy

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 Alasnea, Rajaa,  The Girls of Riyadh.This is "chick lit" with a twist. The book follows the lives of four well to and accomplished young women who are "attempting to navigate the narrow straits between love, desire, fulfillment, and Islamic tradition" according to the publisher's synopsis. While encouraged to study in college - even to enter the medical profession - these women (and men) are faced with what Westerner's consider to be archaic rules that govern the interaction of the sexes. Sometimes amusing, sometimes sad and always interesting. I couldn't put it down!  Linda
 


"What We're Reading" Fall 2008


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Baldacci, David.  The Whole Truth.  Fiction.  This is a terrifying thriller in which manufactured “truth” is spread worldwide by way of the internet.  A must-read for all computer savvy people.  BARBARA

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Black, Lisa.  Takeover.  Fiction.  Forensic scientist Theresa Maclean is called to the scene of a gruesome murder in suburban Cleveland.  Things go from bad to worse when her police detective fiancé is taken hostage with six others at the Federal Reserve Bank during a robbery masterminded by two clever criminals.  What appears to be a bank heist turns into something far more complex and deadly.  Read the book to find out how the two events are connected.   DEBBIE L.

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Coben, Harlan.  Tell No One.  Fiction.  After an argument during a young couple’s moonlight swim in rural New Jersey, the wife swims off to the dock.  Hearing her scream, her husband swims after her but is knocked unconscious.  When he comes to, he is told that she has been murdered by a serial killer.  Eight years later, he receives a cryptic message from her on his computer, and begins to search for her, even though authorities consider him a suspect in her death.  A gripping and intense story that will keep you engrossed to the revealing end.  ETHAN

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Ebershoff, David.  The 19th Wife.  Fiction.  Ann Eliza Young, separated from her husband Brigham Young, begins a crusade to end polygamy in the United States.  Her story intertwines with a tale of a murder in a polygamist family in present-day Utah.  A fascinating look at the mysteries of love and faith.   LINDA

 

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Galant, Debra.  Rattled.  Fiction.  Wanting it ALL, materialistic Heather, her husband and son move to a McMansion in suburban Galapagos Estates in southern New Jersey.  When she has a run in with local handyman Harlan over the death of an endangered timber rattlesnake, life runs amuck for everyone involved!  A clever, witty and laugh-out-loud novel.   APRIL

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Giffen, Emily.  Something Borrowed.   Fiction.  Being in love is a wonderful thing, unless it happens to be with your best friend’s fiancé.  Rachel and Darcy have been best friends for as long as they can remember.  As her 30th birthday and Darcy’s wedding approaches, Rachel finds herself very attracted to Darcy’s fiancé.  Darcy has her secrets too.  Stick around; you’ll want to be there when the truth comes out!  JACKI

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Giffen, Emily.  Something Blue.  Fiction.  Something Blue takes place immediately after Something Borrowed ends.  This time, it’s from Darcy’s point of view.  Still dealing with the deception of her best friend and her fiancé, she has a baby on the way and needs to do a very serious self-makeover.  Her trip to visit a friend in London seems to be just the right medicine.   JACKI

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Hurley, Tonya.  Ghostgirl.  YA Fiction.  After her death from choking on a gummy bear, high school senior Charlotte Usher attends an alternative high school for dead teens, and still hopes to attend the Fall Ball with the boy of her dreams.  AMY

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Kinsella, Sophie.  Remember Me?.  Fiction.  Her second accident in three years causes Lexi Smart to forget all that’s occurred during the interim.  She’s no longer the single, frizzy-haired, dead-end-job girl that she remembers.  It’s up to her to piece her life back together and figure out who she really is.  Lexi’s story is one you won’t be able to put down.  JACKI

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Meldrum, Christina.  Madapple.  YA Fiction.  A girl who has been brought up in near-isolation is thrown into a twisted web of family secrets and religious fundamentalism when her mother dies and she goes to live with relatives she never knew she had.  A riveting and mind-opening experience.  LINDA

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Meyer, Stephenie.  Twilight.  Fiction.  Bella Swan is a clumsy 16-year-old who recently had to move from sunny Phoenix to perpetually cloudy Forks, Washington.  Her expectations of life in her new hometown were low, until her life changes in wonderful and terrifying ways the moment she lays eyes on the mysterious and beautiful Edward Cullen.  PRECIOUS AND SANDY