Sandcastle Girls tells about the largely forgotten Armenian Genocide of World War I. Laura Petrosian was always a bit intrigued by her paternal grandparents. Her grandmother, Elizabeth hailed from Boston originally, but her grandfather, Armen was Armenian. Neither talked much about when they met in Syria during World War I, but they were still eccentric. Now, in her mid-40’s, Laura has stumbled across a photograph of a woman at a museum in Boston with the last name of Petrosian. Could she be another relative? The photo was taken of the victims of the Armenian genocide during the years 1915 – 1916.
The viewpoints alter between Elizabeth’s and Laura’s, as she uncovers the past. Rich in historic detail and full of emotion; Sandcastle Girls is a romance with a gruesome, unforgettable historical event providing the backdrop.
The 13th book of the Home Repair Is Homicide Series, Crawlspace, by Sarah Graves received mixed reviews. In this book, a serial killer is on the loose in Eastport, Maine. This does give the book a creepier ambience than some of Graves other titles in the series. However, I still enjoyed the book. I liked the development of the relationship between the main character, Jacobia, and her housekeeper who recently became her mother-in-law, Bella.
In Crawlspace Jacobia finds herself fighting for the life of someone very dear to her and, of course, she is in danger herself in the process.
If you enjoy mysteries such as those by Cleo Coyle or Mary Higgins Clark, you may enjoy the Home Repair is Homicide Series by Sarah Graves. You can start with Crawlspace, the thirteenth in the series or The Dead Cat Bounce, the first in the series. Graves does a good job of describing pertinent previous events in each book, so you can really start anywhere in the series. If you only want to read one, you may want to read the most recent; Dead Level.
Meet Eli and Charlie Sister, the Sister’s brothers. They are hired guns who set out on a mission from Oregon to California to kill Herman Kermit Warm. However, this journey ends up being different than all the others. The Sisters Brothers is a western filled with humor, melancholy, adventure, and a touch of the philosophical. Patrick DeWitt makes the narrator of his book strong and rational. He also gives his reader short, fast moving chapters without skimping on the story or characters. The Sisters Brothers won several awards including, Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, American Library Association Notable Books, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor, just to name a few. Eli and Charlie Sister are two of the most likeable and interesting gunslingers I have ever read about. Hopefully, you will feel the same way.
I was watching stand-up comedian Louis CK with my husband, and one of his routines about his kids had us both laughing hysterically and saying, “Yes, that’s exactly what kids do!” I decided I wanted some more of this type of entertainment. I decided that I would temporarily dispense with the serious parenting books and all that guilt I feel when I read about other mothers who enjoy every second of motherhood. So I went in search of some books that would focus on the annoying, disgusting, enraging parts of motherhood and help me laugh at them all. I came across a couple I really enjoyed. Are you in need of comic relief too? Try some of these:
Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood - The Good, The Bad, and the Scary by Jill Smokler This book was not as negative overall as I thought it would be, but I did find myself agreeing with most of Jill’s observations. A couple of “confessions” from Jill’s blog that she included in the book: “I ate a jar of Nutella a month while pregnant. Okay, a jar a week. Okay, okay, a jar a day. A jar of Nutella a day. I’ve never admitted that before.” “Last night I changed all the clocks in the house to an hour and a half later and sent my son to bed. It was awesome.”
Over 160 years since he became President, Abraham Lincoln continues to fascinate Americans. While his status as vampire hunter may be in question, there is no doubt that this month’s debut of the film Lincoln has increased interest once again. By some estimates, over 15,000 Lincoln biographies have been written. Here at JCPL, we’d like to help you narrow down your choices to what we think are a few of the best.
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald Written by a historian of the Civil War and Reconstruction period and considered by some to be the best single-volume account of Lincoln’s life.
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson This Pulitzer Prize winning tale of the Civil War provides insight into Lincoln’s strategies and conflicts at that time.
This is a leisurely paced, beautifully filmed story of John Keats and his poetic muse, Fanny Brawne. Those who love period pieces, such as Jane Austen adaptations, will delight to discover this hidden gem. While first a tragic love story, the secondary characters and excellent cinematography flesh out the narrative and provide the background that let Keats and Fanny shine.
This new non-fiction title tells the harrowing story of North Koreans who have made the difficult choice to flee their homeland. Despite the criminality of leaving and the risk of recapture and repatriation back to the North if caught, in the past few decades thousands of citizens have done just that: left a repressive and totalitarian regime. In the process, a sort of modern-day Underground Railroad has taken shape, filtering defectors to safety across Asia and around the world. Meet the escapees and those who help them get out in this fascinating new book.
One for Sorrowby Christopher Barzak is one of those interesting novels that publishers have trouble classifying. Its characters are mostly teenagers and it reads like a young adult novel, but it has been marketed to adults ever since its publication back in 2008. The book itself is also a ghost story, a coming-of-age tale, and an examination of a family on the verge of falling apart. Adam McCormick has inherited his grandmother’s paranormal abilities, a fact he discovers when he befriends the ghost of a recently murdered classmate named Jamie Marks. Soon he is torn between local girl and the ghost of a boy who attracts him. Barzak has a gift for storytelling, allowing his narrator to engage in fascinating introspections without sacrificing pace. An interesting cross between A Catcher in the Rye and The Lovely Bones, One for Sorrow is definitely one to enjoy.
Are you ready for the gritty, down home writing of Donald Ray Pollock? Pollock grew up in the 50s & 60s in south central Ohio in a holler (it could not be called a town) called Knockemstiff. Knockemstiff then had three stores and a bar and a population of 450. Says Pollock, most were "connected by blood through one godforsaken calamity or another." He dropped out of high school to work in a meatpacking plant at a job his dad found for him and then spent 32 years at a paper mill in Chillicothe, OH. At 45 he quit his job at the mill in order to go to graduate school and become a writer. Pollock’s two critically acclaimed books, Knockemstiff (interconnected short stories) and The Devil All the Time, chronicle life in Knockemstiff and the surrounding area from the end of WWll and up to the late nineties.
Knockemstiff In Knockemstiff, Pollock peers into the soul of a tough Midwestern town to reveal the sad, stunted and resilient lives of its residents. These linked stories from Knockemstiff span a period from the mid-sixties to the late nineties and feature a cast of recurring characters who are woebegone, baffled and depraved--but irresistibly, undeniably real. He presents his characters and the sordid goings-on with a stern intelligence, a bracing absence of value judgments and a refreshingly dark sense of bottom-dog humor.
The Devil All the Time Pollock’s first novel is set in the violent soul-numbing towns of southern Ohio and West Virginia and he draws these towns’ folks and their inevitably hopeless lives without pity. Pollack pulls these characters all together, the pace is relentless, and just when it seems like no one can ever catch a break, a good guy does, but not in any predictable way. He braids his plotlines into a taut narrative that will leave readers astonished and deeply moved. He proves himself a master storyteller in the grittiest and most uncompromising American grain.
Although British writer Zadie Smith is better known as a novelist, she’s also got some formidable chops when it comes to putting together compelling argumentative prose. Smith is, first and foremost, a writer, so a few of the essays contained in this collection deal with the work or personalities of other writers, such as Vladimir Nabokov and Franz Kafka; others deal with related subjects, such as the craft of writing or the future direction of fiction. But one of the things that make this book more than a typical collection of ruminations is its depth: Smith treats the personal as well as the public (for example, the death of her father and his love of some very peculiar comedic television). In one of the best pieces in the collection (at least in the humble opinion of your reporter), Smith traces the rise of US President Barack Obama and discusses how his upbringing in a variety of diverse environments allowed him to feel comfortable before a broad range of audiences, and how this versatility had been interpreted by the political right in the United States as “inauthentic.”
My partner teaches college writing, and after reading this book, I recommended that she consider it as a text for one of her undergraduate survey courses, both because of its variety and its ability to provoke conversation. If you trace the history of the word essay to its Greek root, you’ll note that it means “to attempt.” A good essay attempts many things and chief among them is that it encourages the reader (and the writer) to rigorously question their own positions on issues. On this count, we owe Smith a debt of gratitude for making our minds stronger, more supple and more generous things.
For most of us, the closest we'll ever get to living like a rock star is reading a musician's biography or memoir. The library has a great selection of the most entertaining, shocking, and inspiring stories you'll want to check out! Tell us about your favorites.
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