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Celebrating the Best of 2018 (Part 3)!

It’s been a good year to be a reader, beloved patrons.  And a good year for music and movies, and all the other beautiful things that libraries provide!  And here, we are celebrating the year in books, music, and movies with as many people as possible!  In addition to having a Peabody Library Staff “Best of 2018” List, we will also be featuring some selections from our friends at other NOBLE libraries, as well!

And we’re eager for your input, too!  The NOBLE  Collection Management Working Group is assembling nominations for a “NOBLE Book Awards”, and NOBLE staff have been asked for their input.  So please let us know what books you’ve loved this year, and we’ll be sure to pass them on to the NOBLE Book Awards committee, but also to feature them here on the blog so that other readers can benefit from your recommendations!  Nominations will be accepted until December 16, so get yours to us today!  You can tell us in person, or via email (click the word “email” for our address).

And so, without further ado, let’s get to our first round of “Best of 2018” selections, courtesy of our marvelous staff!   In our request for nominations, we stipulated that books, movies, or albums could be from any year, but they had to have been enjoyed in 2018.  So you’ll see plenty of oldies-but-goodies on this list to savor, along with some new titles!


From the Teen Room: 

 I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara: For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.  Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was. This book, edited with fascinating afterwards and appendices after McNamara’s death, offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle’s dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.

From our Staff: The author passed away before she could finish the book, but her family and friends lovingly compiled, completed and published the book this February. On a related, exciting note, the Golden State Killer was identified and arrested in April this year. Myself and other fans of her work only wish that Ms. McNamara had lived to see this man brought to justice. But her book was stellar and I’d recommend it to any true crime fans!


From the Children’s Room:

Meaty: Essays by Samantha Irby: Smart, edgy, hilarious, and unflinchingly honest, Samantha Irby explodes onto the printed page in her uproarious first collection of essays.   In these works, Irby laughs her way through tragicomic mishaps, neuroses, and taboos as she struggles through adulthood: chin hairs, depression, bad sex, failed relationships, masturbation, taco feasts, inflammatory bowel disease and more. Updated with her favorite Instagramable, couch-friendly recipes, this much-beloved romp is treat for anyone in dire need of Irby’s infamous, scathing wit and poignant candor.

From our staff: Re-released this year after the popularity of her last essay collection, this is every bit as funny, irreverent and brutally honest as her other work. Irby is blunt but her bluntness often translates into hilarity as she’s doesn’t shy away from the messier parts of life.


From the Public Service Desk:

The Shining by Stephen King: An oldie, but a goodie, this is one of King’s novels that just seems to get better with time.  Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.  It seems that Danny is the only person able to see what the hotel is doing to Jack–and perhaps the only person who can stop it.

From our staff: I had read this book years ago, but it was only this time around that I really appreciate how King used Jack Torrance’s story to address the agony of addiction, the lure, allure, and threat of toxic masculinity, and the long-lasting legacy of abuse.  This is a haunted house novel, obviously, but it’s also a book about the damage we as humans do to each other, and the effects that has, making this a powerful and heart-wrenching human study, as well.

 

Until next week, beloved patrons!

Five Book Friday!

Despite the diversity of people’s activities this time of year, there is no doubt that this is time for “bustling”.  If you’re looking for some time to de-stress, to hide from the hectic pace in the real world, or are interested in some sensational new books, dvd, and cds, then the Library is an ideal place for you to be!  Let’s take a look at some of the books that have shuffled on to our shelves this week and are looking forward to joining you on all your wintery or holiday escapades!

King of the Road: R.S. Belcher is a fascinating author who can turn the most seemingly mundane topics into something genuinely fascinating.  His Brotherhood of the Wheel series is a perfect example, where he turns truckers into the legatees of the Knights Templar.  In this second book in the series, a missing-person case leads to a string of roadside murders and mutilations that stretches back decades―and to a cult of murderous clowns who are far more than mere urban legends.  And as if that’s not trouble enough, trucker Jimmy Aussapile and his allies must also cope with a violent civil war within an outlaw biker gang long associated with the Brotherhood, as well as run-ins with a rival gang led by a fierce werewolf biker chick who fights tooth and claw to protect her pack.  This is a funny, moving, wholly unique series that is absolutely transportive.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, saying in its starred review how Belcher’s “story wends expertly through a landscape filled with American folklore, ancient legends, and urban myths, culminating in a showdown that will have fans and newcomers alike eager for further installments of this fascinating series.”

River Bodies: Karen Katchur launches a new mystery series with this gripping story of long-buried secrets and the power they hold in one woman’s present.  A body has turned up in the small town of Portland, Pennsylvania. The crime is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old cold case: another victim, brutally murdered, found in the Delaware River. Lead detective Parker Reed is intent on connecting the two murders, but the locals are on lockdown, revealing nothing. The past meets the present when Becca Kingsley, who returns to Portland to be with her estranged but dying father, runs into Parker, her childhood love.  Coming home has brought something ominous to the surface for Becca and her community—memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who’s watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he’s more predator than protector.  In a small town where darkness hides in plain sight, the truth could change Becca’s life—or end it.  This is a book, and a series, for people who love rich settings and a heavy sense of place.  It drew praise from Kirkus Reviews, who noted in its review that “Katchur is an engaging writer who ably navigates the dynamics of small-town life and the darkness that lurks beneath…Suspense with a tense family drama at its core.”

Hazards of Time Travel: Beloved author Joyce Carol Oates has come out with a powerful new book in which one young woman tests the limits of time travel and suffers the devastating costs.  When Adriane Strohl is named valedictorian of her high school class, she knows there’s a danger in standing and sticking out in her currently political climate.  Nevertheless, she gives her speech–and is immediately charged with with Treason and Questioning of Authority, the punishment for which is being sent back 80 years in the past to a place known as Wainscotia, Wisconsin.   Cast adrift in time in this idyllic Midwestern town she is set upon a course of “rehabilitation”—but cannot resist falling in love with a fellow exile and questioning the constrains of the Wainscotia world with results that are both devastating and liberating.  This is a quirky, unsettling book that looks at both our future and our past, with some wicked twists that will keep readers wondering.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, noting in its review that “Oates weaves a feeling of constant menace and paranoia throughout as Adriane struggles to remember her old life and adjust to her new one. The conclusion is surprising and ambiguous, leaving readers to question their own perception of events, making for a memorable novel.”

18 Miles: The Epic Drama of Our Atmosphere and Its Weather:  We live at the bottom of an ocean of air ― 5,200 million million tons, to be exact. It sounds like a lot, but Earth’s atmosphere is smeared onto its surface in an alarmingly thin layer ― 99 percent contained within 18 miles. Yet, within this fragile margin lies a magnificent realm ― at once gorgeous, terrifying, capricious, and elusive. With his keen eye for identifying and uniting seemingly unrelated events, Chris Dewdney reveals to us the invisible rivers in the sky that affect how our weather works and the structure of clouds and storms and seasons, the rollercoaster of climate. Dewdney details the history of weather forecasting and introduces us to the eccentric and determined pioneers of science and observation whose efforts gave us the understanding of weather we have today.  Engaging, fascinatingly researched, and wonderfully informative, this is a book for science buffs and more casual learners alike.  Library Journal loved this book, giving it a starred review and saying “This terrific, accessible, and exciting read helps us to better understand the aspects of weather and the atmosphere all around us.”

Before We Were Strangers: Brenda Novak’s newest book is a brooding, dark, twisty mystery that also deals with family secrets and the painful choices that one woman must make in confronting them.  Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn’t sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound—the ominous thump before all went quiet.  In the morning, her mother was gone.
The official story was that she left, a story that hadn’t sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn’t just difficult—he was deadly.  Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend, and a father and brother who’d rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn’t whether she can uncover what really happened that night…it’s what will remain of her family if she does?  Fellow Harlequin author Susan Wiggs wrote a blurb for this book, cheering it as a “Riveting drama and suspense from a master of the craft. I loved this twisty tale of friends, enemies, lovers, liars, and a family fractured by secrets. It’s the perfect read to cozy up to on a long winter night.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Celebrating the Best of 2018 (Part 2)!

It’s been a good year to be a reader, beloved patrons.  And a good year for music and movies, and all the other beautiful things that libraries provide!  And here, we are celebrating the year in books, music, and movies with as many people as possible!  In addition to having a Peabody Library Staff “Best of 2018” List, we will also be featuring some selections from our friends at other NOBLE libraries, as well!

And we’re eager for your input, too!  The NOBLE  Collection Management Working Group is assembling nominations for a “NOBLE Book Awards”, and NOBLE staff have been asked for their input.  So please let us know what books you’ve loved this year, and we’ll be sure to pass them on to the NOBLE Book Awards committee, but also to feature them here on the blog so that other readers can benefit from your recommendations!  Nominations will be accepted until December 16, so get yours to us today!  You can tell us in person, or via email (click the word “email” for our address).

And so, without further ado, let’s get to our first round of “Best of 2018” selections, courtesy of our marvelous staff!   In our request for nominations, we stipulated that books, movies, or albums could be from any year, but they had to have been enjoyed in 2018.  So you’ll see plenty of oldies-but-goodies on this list to savor, along with some new titles!


From the Teen Room: 

Light Filters In by Caroline KaufmanCaroline Kaufman is also known on Instagram as @poeticpoison, where her startling, stunning poetry gained a large fan following, as well as attention from mainstream publishers.  In this collection of her work, Kaufman does what she does best: reflects our own experiences back at us and makes us feel less alone, one exquisite and insightful piece at a time. She writes about giving up too much of yourself to someone else, not fitting in, endlessly Googling “how to be happy,” and ultimately figuring out who you are.  Insightful, honest, funny, and deeply moving, these are poems for verseaholics and newcomers alike!


From the Children’s Room

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab: Schwab is a gifted fantasy author with a boundless imagination, and while this new series may be marketed towards younger readers, it’s one for her fans of all ages.  Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost.  So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger.  When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil — and herself.
From our Staff: Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in the world and the charm of the city and the people is so clearly evident here. The fact that Schwab is a brilliant writer doesn’t hurt either. Aside from the wonderful sense of place present in the book, it’s a fun, creepy ghost story that isn’t too intense, but still manages to give the chills. This is a kids’ book easily enjoyed by adults as well.


From the Public Service Desk: 

A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland: If you, like us, love the act and the art of storytelling, then this is the book for you.  While Rowland’s world-building is superb, the real power of this story lies in its analysis of creation and narrative, making it a deep, funny, bewitching journey.  Arrested on accusations of witchcraft and treason, Chant, a storyteller, finds himself trapped in a cold, filthy jail cell in a foreign land. With only his advocate, the unhelpful and uninterested Consanza, he quickly finds himself cast as a bargaining chip in a brewing battle between the five rulers of this small, backwards, and petty nation.  Or, at least, that’s how he would tell the story. In truth, Chant has little idea of what is happening outside the walls of his cell, but he must quickly start to unravel the puzzle of his imprisonment before they execute him for his alleged crimes. But Chant is no witch—he is a member of a rare and obscure order of wandering storytellers. With no country to call his home, and no people to claim as his own, all Chant has is his wits and his hapless apprentice to help him.

 

Until next week, dear readers–enjoy!

Teen Takeover! Cozy Stories and Hot Chocolate: The Perfect Pair!

One of the best things to do during the winter months is snuggling up with your favorite blanket, a cup of cocoa, and a good book. Lucky for you we’ve got the best reads picked out matched with a complimentary cup of cocoa!

Trapped by Michael Northrop

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. For a chilling adventure we recommend pairing with a hot cup of peppermint hot chocolate!

The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her, and his name is Xander. When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. This story is full of sweet fluff and a beautiful message of acceptance, moving on, and creating new relationships. Pair with a BIG mug of dark chocolate hot cocoa with an extra scooping of marshmallows!

Let It Snow by John Green & Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. For stories this sweet and bright we recommend warming up with a orange flavored hot cocoa for a cozy atmosphere.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions? For a whirlwind of excitement and adventure pair this exciting read with some sweet white chocolate hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and sprinkles!

My True Love Gave to Me by Various Authors

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love. With this book we recommend one of the best things you can do during the holidays…invite over friends and family! Get yourself together with friends, set out a hot chocolate bar for guests, and read aloud with each other!

Happy Holidays lovely readers!

 

To find recipes for the hot cocoas and a video on how to make the ultimate hot chocolate bar check out the links below!

The Ultimate Hot Chocolate Bar

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa

Orange Hot Cocoa

Funfetti Hot Chocolate

 

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy Free-For-All Birthday to American novelist, essayist, and poet, Willa Cather!

Image result for willa cather poem public domain
Via Academy of American Poets

Willa Cather was born in Virginia on December 7, 1873. Her family moved to Nebraska in 1883, ultimately settling in the town of Red Cloud, where the National Willa Cather Center is located today. She attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Cather moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1896 to pursue a career in journalism and work for the women’s magazine Home Monthly.  She also taught English, and pursued a career in writing.   In 1906, she moved to New York City to take an editorial position at McClure’s Magazine, which published her first collection of short stories.  In the 1920’s, unhappy with the way in which Houghton Mifflin was marketing her books, Cather turned to the young publishing house run by Alfred A Knopf, Sr, and his wife Blanche.  Especially impressed with Blanche’s capability (and skilled managing of the switchboards during her lunch break), Cather eventually published most of her novels with the firm.

via WikipediaAlthough enormously popular for a time, Cather’s works fell out of public appreciation during the Depression and the Dust Bowl, as her work no longer felt relevant to the dire difficulties of the age.  Disheartened and defensive, Cather destroyed a number of her manuscripts and put a clause in her will stating that her letters never be published.   Nevertheless, in April 2013, The Selected Letters of Willa Cather—a collection of 566 letters Cather wrote to friends, family, and literary acquaintances such as Thornton Wilder and F. Scott Fitzgerald—was published following the death of Cather’s nephew and second literary executor, Charles Cather.  Today, her work remains a critically important part of the canon of American literature, and research into her fascinating life continues to this day!

In honor of Willa Cather’s birthday, please enjoy this poem, which appears in Cather’s famous novel My Antonia: 

Prairie Spring

Evening and the flat land,
Rich and sombre and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire,
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.

And now…on to the books!

The Darkness: Fans of Nordic noir really need to discover Ragnar Jonasson and his compulsively readable Icelandic mysteries.  In this newest release, a determined and insightful detective puts her life on the line for a woman no one else seems to remember.  The body of a young Russian woman washes up on an Icelandic shore. After a cursory investigation, the death is declared a suicide and the case is quietly closed.  Over a year later Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavík police is forced into early retirement at 64. She dreads the loneliness, and the memories of her dark past that threaten to come back to haunt her. But before she leaves she is given two weeks to solve a single cold case of her choice. She knows which one: the Russian woman whose hope for asylum ended on the dark, cold shore of an unfamiliar country. Soon Hulda discovers that another young woman vanished at the same time, and that no one is telling her the whole story. Even her colleagues in the police seem determined to put the brakes on her investigation. Meanwhile the clock is ticking.  Jonasson’s thrillers are always well-crafted and gripping, but he is also deeply compassionate toward his characters, giving emotional depth to these dark and twisty stories.  Kirkus Reviews loved this book, cheering,  “If you think you know how frigid Iceland can be, this blistering stand-alone from Jónasson has news for you: It’s much, much colder than you’ve ever imagined.”

All the Lives We Never Lived: Man-Booker-Prize-nominated author Anuradha Roy blends personal history and sweeping historical narrative into this novel, that deals with the nation of India during the Second World War, as well as about one son’s attempts to understand his mother’s story.  Growing up, Myshkin was known as “the boy whose mother had run off with an Englishman.”  Even though the man was, in fact, German, as Myshkin explains, “in small-town India in those days, all white foreigners were largely thought of as British.”  For years, that was all that Myshkin knew about his mother, Gayatri, a rebellious, alluring artist who abandoned parenthood and marriage to follow her primal desire for freedom.  Though freedom may be stirring in the air of India, across the world the Nazis have risen to power in Germany. At this point of crisis, a German artist from Gayatri’s past seeks her out.  What follows is her life as pieced together by her son, a journey that takes him through India and Dutch‑held Bali. Excavating the roots of the world in which he was abandoned, he comes to understand his long‑lost mother, and the connections between strife at home and a war‑torn universe overtaken by patriotism.  Roy manages scale expertly in this book, creating a large-scale landscape while still providing a deeply moving and detailed portrait of one man and his remarkable mother.  Library Journal agrees, saying in their review, “This novel has an epic feel but also portrays the feelings of an abandoned child and captured woman while strongly evoking the sounds, scents, plants, people, and social structures of India at the time.”

Babel: Around the World in Twenty LanguagesEnglish is considered the world language, but most of the world doesn’t speak it.  As Gaston Dorren points out in this intriguing work, only one in five people does.  Furthermore, Dorren calculates, to speak fluently with half of the world’s 7.4 billion people in their mother tongues, you would need to know no fewer than twenty languages.  He sets out to explore these top twenty world languages, which range from the familiar, like French and Spanish, to the those to which we have little exposure, like Malay, Javanese, and Bengali, taking readers on a delightful journey to every continent of the world, tracing how these world languages rose to greatness while others fell away and showing how speakers today handle the foibles of their mother tongues. Whether showcasing tongue-tying phonetics or elegant but complicated writing scripts, and mind-bending quirks of grammar, Babel vividly illustrates that mother tongues are like nations: each has its own customs and beliefs that seem as self-evident to those born into it as they are surprising to the outside world.  This is a book that travelers and language-lovers of all stripes will find fascinating, and may very well change the way you think about the words you use every day!  Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a starred review, delighting in the fact that “Dorren always succeeds in sharing his delight at the intricacies and compromises of human communication . . . Whether he is debunking common misunderstandings about Chinese characters or detailing the rigid caste distinctions ossified in Javanese, Dorren educates and fascinates. Word nerds of every strain will enjoy this wildly entertaining linguistic study.”

Nine Perfect Strangers: This came out a little while ago, dear readers, but due to popular demand, we’ve got more copies on the shelves for you! Fans of Lianne Moriarty’s Big Little Lies are going to delight in this newest of her novels, which brings her talent for creating complex characters with a classic mystery trope.  Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.  Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can? It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.  Twisty, turny, and utterly engrossing, this novel is getting plenty of praise from the likes of Oprah and Stephen King, and earned a starred and boxed review from Publisher’s Weekly (no easy feat), which read in part, “A cannily plotted, continually surprising, and frequently funny page-turner and a deeply satisfying thriller. Moriarty delivers yet another surefire winner.”

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?Nebula-award-winning author N.K. Jemisin’s first book of short stories is a rich and and intriguing collection that equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.  Fans of Jemisin’s phenomenal science fiction novels will love these stories, and those looking to introduce themselves to her ground-breaking work should look no further than this volume, which earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, who praised the ways in which Jemisin  “[E]loquently develops a series of passionately felt themes… one of speculative fiction’s most thoughtful and exciting writers.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

The Beverly Library’s Best of 2018!

We are enormously lucky to be part of NOBLE (North of Boston Library Exchange).  As many of you know, the NOBLE network allows you, our beloved patrons, to borrow books from the other libraries around us–including academic libraries at North Shore Community College and Salem State University–and utilize the programs and resources at our fellow NOBLE libraries.  It’s a fantastic system that we all value enormously.

So this year, we thought it might be fun to invite the other NOBLE libraries and staff members to join us in our end-of-the-year celebrations!  This week, we bring you Beverly Library’s list of the Best Books of 2017.

The Beverly Library, via noblenet.org

The Beverly Library (located at 32 Essex Street in Beverly) was established in 1855, three years after the Massachusetts Legislature became the first in the nation to authorize cities and towns to expend tax funds to support free public libraries.  The institution was originally known as the Social Library, a private subscription library which traced its founding to a collection of books seized by Beverly privateers from a British merchantman during the Revolutionary War (I think that might be one of the coolest starts a library has ever had).  Elizabeth P. Sohier, a trustee of the Beverly Public Library, led the fight to establish the first state library agency in the country, and served as the State Library Commission’s first secretary.  The Essex Street site was opened in 1913, and was  designed by architect Cass Gilbert, who was also the architect of the Minnesota State Capitol, the Woolworth Building in New York City and the United States Supreme Court.  The building was subsequently enlarged in 1993.

In addition to its stunning Essex Street location, the Beverly Library also has a branch in Beverly Farms (located at 24 Vine Street, Beverly) and a Bookmobile!  On average, the Beverly Library loans over 280,000 items annually to almost 27,000 regular borrowers. The Main Library collection consists of over 125,000 books and the Beverly Farms Branch of 22,000 books.  They also have regular programs, displays, and book clubs–you can learn more about them by checking out their Events Calendar.

So why not drop by one of these days and take part in Beverly’s sensational events and their terrific selection of books and media!  If you’re looking for a place to begin, here’s a few selections from Beverly’s super-terrific Best of 2018 List (you can click on the title or this link to see the full list)!


The Poet X:  Elizabeth Acevedo award-winning novel-in-verse is on a lot of people’s Best Of lists this year, in good company with our friends in Beverly.  Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. In order to protect herself and her growing body and stretching mind, she uses her fists and her fierceness to face down the world.  But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.  Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Where the Crawdads SingDelia Owens’ work is another brilliant book about a fascinating woman who has gone overlooked and misunderstood by the world around her.  For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.  An exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World: Oh, and speaking of remarkable women! French cartoonist Pénélope Bagieu has provided us with a series of gorgeously-illustrated biographies of women who changed their world, and who can inspire us to change the world around us.  From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison, and from pioneering gynecologist Agnodice (who practiced in Athens around 350 BCE) to Christine Jorgensen, one of the first people from the United States to receive gender reassignment surgery, from Liberian social worker Leymah Gbowee to Syrian activist Naziq al-Abid, this book represents women from a broad range of experiences, nationalities, ages, and experiences, along with fascinating details of their unforgettable lives.

 

Thanks for sharing your super list, Beverly!  Happy New Year to each of your delightful staff members!

Celebrating the Best of 2018

It’s been a good year to be a reader, beloved patrons.  And a good year for music and movies, and all the other beautiful things that libraries provide!  And here, we are celebrating the year in books, music, and movies with as many people as possible!  In addition to having a Peabody Library Staff “Best of 2018” List, we will also be featuring some selections from our friends at other NOBLE libraries, as well!

And we’re eager for your input, too!  The NOBLE  Collection Management Working Group is assembling nominations for a “NOBLE Book Awards”, and NOBLE staff have been asked for their input.  So please let us know what books you’ve loved this year, and we’ll be sure to pass them on to the NOBLE Book Awards committee, but also to feature them here on the blog so that other readers can benefit from your recommendations!  Nominations will be accepted until December 16, so get yours to us today!  You can tell us in person, or via email (click the word “email” for our address).

And so, without further ado, let’s get to our first round of “Best of 2018” selections, courtesy of our marvelous staff!   In our request for nominations, we stipulated that books, movies, or albums could be from any year, but they had to have been enjoyed in 2018.  So you’ll see plenty of oldies-but-goodies on this list to savor, along with some new titles!


From the South Branch:

The Address by Fiona Davis: Readers looking for a book with a pitch-perfect sense of place will love this selection, which is set in The Dakota–perhaps one of the most recognizable and storied building in New York City.  After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else…and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.  In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in…and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.  A building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.


From the Teen Room: 

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee is the second installment in the Montague Siblings Series picks up a year after the adventure from Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue,starring our favorite moody sister Felicity! Felicity wants nothing but to be a doctor, but when the subject of her gender is brought into question she embarks on a journey through the German countryside to find Alexander Platt, an eccentric physician, to take her on as a research assistant.  This is another adventure story full of action, intrigue, and some truly fearless characters determined to live the life they want.  Any fans of Lee’s first book will find this book a sheer delight!


From the Public Service Desk:

The Hunger by Alma Katsu: An unsettling and deeply psychologically insightful fictionalization of the Donner Part’s disastrous journey west, this is a book for horror a history fans alike!   Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos. They cannot seem to escape tragedy…or the feelings that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it’s a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history.   As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains…and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along.

 

Stay tuned for more recommendations soon!