Tag Archives: Staff Favorites

Now that summer is definitely, apparently (?) upon us, it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our second round of Staff Selections:

From the West Branch:

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan

“An engaging story with a dual narrative of mother and daughter. I appreciated the themes of the struggles of bi-cultural life experience, the mother-daughter relationship development, the symbolism, and the historical fiction aspect. A warning regarding the historical aspects of the book – the abuse the mother shares in her narrative that takes place in the very painfully patriarchal early/mid 1900s China may be triggering for victims of abuse”

From the Upstairs Offices:

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

One of the most profound and moving works of Native American literature, a novel that is itself a ceremony of healing. Tayo, a World War II veteran of mixed ancestry, returns to the Laguna Pueblo Reservation, deeply scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese and by the rejection he encounters from his people.  Only by immersing himself in the his people’s past can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him. Masterfully written, filled with the somber majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power.

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Qatar, awash in petrodollars, find joy in all that cash? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy?  In a unique mix of travel, psychology, science and humor, Eric Weiner answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions…I would love to see an update of this book now that social media has become so saturated in our lives.

From the Reference Desk:

Furiously happy : a funny book about horrible things by Jenny Lawson

A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best….Furiously Happy is about “taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they’re the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence….This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are – the beautiful and the flawed – and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways.

 

Summer Staff Selections!

Now that summer is definitely, apparently (?) upon us, it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our first round of Staff Selections:

From the West Branch: 

Nancy Clue and the Not-So-Nice Nurse  by Mabel Maney
“A cute, tame lesbian parody of Nancy Drew and Cherry Aimes (RN). and part of a two-book series. The utter paucity of men through most of the book, the diction, the lesbian innuendos, the cluelessness of the main character Cherry, the positive portrayal of a trans woman, and the decent mystery plot make this light novel a delightful and cute read. This is the first in a series, but does just fine as a stand-alone as well.” (Note: Use the Commonwealth Catalog to access this title, or call the Library!)

From the Adult Services Department:

The Hour of Land : A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams
“For years, America’s national parks have provided public breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why close to 300 million people visit the parks each year. Now, to honor the centennial of the National Park Service, Terry Tempest Williams, the author of the beloved memoir When Women Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, a literary celebration of our national parks, what they mean to us, and what we mean to them. Through twelve carefully chosen parks, from Yellowstone in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas, Tempest Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making.”

From the Information Desk:

Swiss Army Man, starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe
Hank is stranded on a deserted island, having given up all hope of ever making it home again. One day everything changes when a corpse names Manny washes up onshore. The two become fast friends, and ultimately go on an epic adventure that will bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams…supremely weird but awesome!”

Table 19, starring Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Stephen Merchant, Amanda Crew, Wyatt Russell
“Ex-maid of honor Eloise, having been relieved of her duties after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man via text, decides to hold her head up high and attend her oldest friend’s wedding anyway. She finds herself seated at the ‘random’ table in the back of the ballroom with a disparate group of strangers.  In a way, reminiscent of The Breakfast Club, and in a way a beautifully modern romance, this is nothing like you expect, and everything you needed in a movie.”

 

Best of 2016: The End

intro

As humanity tries to put this festering wound of a year behind us, you are going to see a lot of “Best of 2016” (and “Worst of 2016”) lists floating around.  But none, I promise you, is quite like the Peabody Library’s Best of 2016 List.  We asked our staff to share with us–and you–their favorite books, films, albums, or other Library materials that they encountered this year.   The response was so terrific that we’ll be running a weekly series for your enjoyment.

And, just a note, the rules were that the media had to be consumed in 2016 (books read, films viewed, albums heard, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that they were made in 2016.  There are some classics on this list, as well as plenty of new material, so you can see all the phenomenal finds the Library has to offer year round!

…There were a few books on a number of people’s ‘Best Of’ Lists this year, so here is a special final edition of our series that covers the “Best of the Best”!

best-books

From the Upstairs Office, the Reference Desk, and the Classics Book Group:

3784204Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque

“I wasn’t expecting the romantic beauty that this post WWI Germany set book delivered. All I knew going into this title was that the author wrote All Quiet on the Western Front, so I was expecting a “guy” book. In the end, it was a love book, but a messy love book with no false notes. The male friendships were as well developed as the romantic plot line, if not more so, and they make the book something truly special.”

“This novel drove home the real, lasting, and indelible impact that the First World War had on those who fought in it.  But, more than that, it is a stunning book about friendship, about a place, and about a time that Remarque knew was dying, even as he wrote the book.  Having read All Quiet on the Western Front, I knew Remarque the modernist soldier-writer.  But this Remarque was funny and earnest and insightful, and this book is one that I won’t soon forget.”

The year is 1928. On the outskirts of a large German city, three young men are earning a thin and precarious living. Fully armed young storm troopers swagger in the streets. Restlessness, poverty, and violence are everywhere. For these three, friendship is the only refuge from the chaos around them. Then the youngest of them falls in love, and brings into the group a young woman who will become a comrade as well, as they are all tested in ways they can have never imagined.

Written with the same overwhelming simplicity and directness that made All Quiet on the Western Front a classic, Three Comrades portrays the greatness of the human spirit, manifested through characters who must find the inner resources to live in a world they did not make, but must endure.

From the Upstairs Offices, the Reference Desk, and the South Branch:

3722322The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

“My love for Gaiman knows no bounds, but listening to his collected nonfiction was a particular treat. He’s thoughtful, insightful and honestly, this collection is worth it just to hear him talk about libraries in his own voice.”

An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.

An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his bestselling fiction. Now, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together for the first time ever more than sixty pieces of his outstanding nonfiction. Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seats explores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman—offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.

From the Reference Desk, and Patron Recommendation:

3622766A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

“Tremblay’s love of the horror genre drew me into this book (and taught me a great deal, too!), but it is his power to tell a story, to twist a narrative, and most of all, to make me doubt everything I believed to be true, cannot be adequately described.  This book scared me, awed me, and rendered me incapable of functioning when I was done, as I tried to fully grasp the implications of those final eighty pages or so.”

A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends psychological suspense and supernatural horror…The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

The Romance Garden Top Picks:

3784064A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

“First time novelist Amanda Bouchet has given the gift of a completely addictive fantasy romance to genre fans everywhere. A Promise of Fire is the first book of Bouchet’s The Kingmaker Chronicles, and based on the Orange Rose Contest and Paranormal Golden Pen wins, Romance Writers of America thinks it’s pretty great too. In addition to a very well developed cast of characters- Griffin’s family in particular- the world Bouchet creates is believable and well-built. The plotting is also first-rate, making it very difficult to find a good place to put this book down. If you like fantasy and you like romance, like me, you’ll be wonderfully glad you picked it up… until you remember that A Promise of Fire is Bouchet’s first book, and you have to wait until January 2017 for The Kingmaker Chronicles Book 2: Breath of Fire.”
3803359The Fixer by Helenkay DimonThis is not a man who “takes what he wants”, like so many other heroes whose privileges are used to justify their horrible behavior.  This is a romance of equals who respect each other and value each other’s talents and input, and of two people who aren’t used to making interpersonal connections, which adds an utterly charming artlessness and humanity to both characters.  The mystery element of the plot is strong and interesting as well, but for me, this book was about shattering genre conventions, readers’ expectations, and telling a story about a strong, healthy, and honest relationship that was as meaningful as it was engaging.”

The Best of 2016, Part 3

intro

As humanity prepares to bid farewell to this blow-upon-a-bruise of a year, you are going to see a lot of “Best of 2016” (and “Worst of 2016”) lists floating around.  But none, I promise you, is quite like the Peabody Library’s Best of 2016 List.  We asked our staff to share with us–and you–their favorite books, films, albums, or other Library materials that they encountered this year.   The response was so terrific that we’ll be running a weekly series for your enjoyment.

And, just a note, the rules were that the media had to be consumed in 2016 (books read, films viewed, albums heard, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that they were made in 2016.  There are some classics on this list, as well as plenty of new material, so you can see all the phenomenal finds the Library has to offer year round!

best-books

From the Circulation Desk

3574110The Nightingale, by Kristen Hannah

“Very different from your typical World War II novels. Can’t put it down and it will make you cry.”

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France… but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another. Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can… completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real — and deadly — consequences. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France.

From the South Branch:

3679202Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

“This wasn’t necessarily a book I would have picked for myself, but I heard raves about it and am so glad I read it. Believe me when I tell you, you don’t need to be a fan of opera to enjoy this book. It’s gorgeously written with complex characters and an engrossing plot. The 500+ pages flew by and somehow, I was still eager for more when I was done.”

Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singers’ chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. As she mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to debut singer, all the while weaving a complicated web of romance, obligation, and political intrigue.

3529152Bird Box by Josh Malerman

“Like The Last Days of Jack Sparks and The Loney, this book kept me thinking about it long after I had finished the text. A well-done horror novel that takes advantage of the terrifying qualities of that-which-you-can’t-see making this a suspenseful, chilling work that encourages your imagination to take you to places no text can go.”

In Bird Box, brilliantly imaginative debut author Josh Malerman captures an apocalyptic near-future world, where a mother and her two small children must make their way down a river, blindfolded. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them — but is it man, animal, or monster? Within these tracks, Malerman, a professional musician, discusses his love of horror and invokes an ethereal and atmospheric experience in an homage to Orson Welles à la War of the Worlds.

From the Reference Desk

3771075The City’s Son by Tom Pollock

“Quite possibly one of the most imaginative, stunning, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking books I have ever read.  Pollock’s imagination breathes life into every facet of London’s streets, parks, fields, technology, smells, and structures, creating a world that is dizzyingly vibrant, and infinitely wondrous.  The core message of the book, about respecting and defending difference, about loving without reservation, about being who you are, was done in a way that was simply unforgettable.  I cried at the gym over this one, and still went back for more.”

Hidden under the surface of everyday London is a city of monsters and miracles, where wild train spirits stampede over the tracks and glass-skinned dancers with glowing veins light the streets.

When a devastating betrayal drives her from her home, graffiti artist Beth Bradley stumbles into the secret city, where she meets Filius Viae, London’s ragged crown prince, just when he needs someone most. An ancient enemy has returned to the darkness under St. Paul’s Cathedral, bent on reigniting a centuries-old war, and Beth and Fil find themselves in a desperate race through a bizarre urban wonderland, searching for a way to save the city they both love.

The Best of 2016, Part 2

intro

As humanity prepares to bid farewell to this all-around  heartbreaker of a year, you are going to see a lot of “Best of 2016” (and “Worst of 2016”) lists floating around.  But none, I promise you, is quite like the Peabody Library’s Best of 2016 List.  We asked our staff to share with us–and you–their favorite books, films, albums, or other Library materials that they encountered this year.   The response was so terrific that we’ll be running a weekly series for your enjoyment.

And, just a note, the rules were that the media had to be consumed in 2016 (books read, films viewed, albums heard, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that they were made in 2016.  There are some classics on this list, as well as plenty of new material, so you can see all the phenomenal finds the Library has to offer year round!

best-books

From the Upstairs Offices:

3722322The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

“This book got me thinking a lot about Imagination and Art and Creativity, things that have always been foundations for me but that I had started to lose touch with somewhere along the way. These essays and speeches renewed my energy for creative pursuits, and helped me think about their value in new ways.”

An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.

An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his bestselling fiction. Now, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together for the first time ever more than sixty pieces of his outstanding nonfiction. Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seats explores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman—offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.

From the South Branch:

3574078Phoebe and her Unicorn (vols. 1-4) by Dana Simpson

“These are easily the best comics I’ve read since Calvin and Hobbes. They are genuinely funny, charming and so original. A guaranteed laugh, perfect for light reading.”

It all started when a girl named Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and she used it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. But can a vain mythical beast and a nine-year-old daydreamer really forge a connection? Indeed they can, and that’s how Phoebe and Her Unicorn unfolds.

This beautifully drawn comic strip follows the unlikely friendship between a somewhat awkward girl and the magic unicorn who gradually shows her just how special she really is. Through hilarious adventures where Phoebe gets to bask in Marigold’s “awesomeness,” the friends also come to acknowledge that they had been lonely before they met and truly appreciate the bond they now share.

From the Reference Desk:

“Two fine books for the sports inclined”

1763138Bunts : Curt Flood, Camden Yards, Pete Rose, and Other Reflections on Baseball by George F. Will

George Will returns to baseball with more than seventy finely honed pieces about the sometimes recondite, sometimes frustrating, always passionately felt National Pastime. Here are Will’s eulogy for the late Curt Flood (“Dred Scott in Spikes”), Will on Ted Williams (“When Ted Williams retired in 1960, a sportswriter said that Boston knew how Britain felt when it lost India. Indeed. Britain felt diminished, but also a bit relieved”), and on his own baseball career (“I was a very late draft choice of the Mittendorf Funeral Home Panthers. Our color was black”). Here are subjects ranging from the author’s 1977 purchase of a single share of stock in the Chicago Cubs, a purchase brokered by Warren Buffett (“a St. Louis Cardinal fan, but not otherwise sinister”), to the collision between Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti, to the building of Camden Yards in Baltimore, to the dismantling of the 1997 World Series Champion Florida Martins.

AND…

3707586Scribe: My Life In Sports by Bob Ryan

Ever since he joined the sports department of the Boston Globe in 1968, sports enthusiasts have been blessed with the writing and reporting of Bob Ryan. Tony Kornheiser calls him the “quintessential American sportswriter.” For the past twenty-five years, he has also been a regular on various ESPN shows, especially The Sports Reporters, spreading his knowledge and enthusiasm for sports of all kinds.

Born in 1946 in Trenton, New Jersey, Ryan cut his teeth going with his father to the Polo Grounds and Connie Mack Stadium, and to college basketball games at the Palestra in Philadelphia when it was the epicenter of the college game. As a young man, he became sports editor of his high school paper-and at age twenty-three, a year into his Boston Globe experience, he was handed the Boston Celtics beat as the Bill Russell era ended and the Dave Cowens one began. His all-star career was launched. Ever since, his insight as a reporter and skills as a writer have been matched by an ability to connect with people-players, management, the reading public-probably because, at heart, he has always been as much a fan as a reporter. More than anything, Scribe reveals the people behind the stories, as only Bob Ryan can, from the NBA to eleven Olympics to his surprising favorite sport to cover-golf-and much more. It is sure to be one of the most talked about sports books of 2014, by one of the sports world’s most admired journalists.

 

The Best of 2016, Part 1

intro

As humanity prepares to bid farewell to this all-around sucker-punch of a year, you are going to see a lot of “Best of 2016” (and “Worst of 2016”) lists floating around.  But none, I promise you, is quite like the Peabody Library’s Best of 2016 List.  We asked our staff to share with us–and you–their favorite books, films, albums, or other Library materials that they encountered this year.   The response was so terrific that we’ll be running a weekly series for your enjoyment.

And, just a note, the rules were that the media had to be consumed in 2016 (books read, films viewed, albums heard, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that they were made in 2016.  There are some classics on this list, as well as plenty of new material, so you can see all the phenomenal finds the Library has to offer year round!

And so, let’s begin!

best-books

From the West Branch:
The Summer Before the War
 
by Helen Simonson

“…delightful, funny and sad.  I didn’t want it to end!”

3699126East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent saber rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master. When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking — and attractive — than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing. But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha’s reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.

From the Upstairs Offices:

The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele

3102231“The Yamas and Niyamas are the ten ethical foundations of yoga. Adele devotes a chapter to each Yama and Niyama that includes clear examples and explanations of the concepts followed by a series of questions to help readers spend time deeply exploring each principle. Whether you’re a yogi looking to deepen your practice, or someone who just wants to expand your way of living and thinking, you’ll find lots to think about here.”

The first two limbs of the eight-fold path of yoga sutras—the basic text for classical yoga—are examined in this spiritual guide to the practice of yoga. Foundational to all yogic thought, they are considered to be the guidelines to the yoga way of living that free individuals to take ownership of their lives, direct them toward the fulfillment they seek, and gain the skills to choose attitude, thought, and action. The first five guidelines are referred to as the yamas—a Sanskrit word that translates to “restraints”—and encompass nonviolence, truthfulness, not stealing, nonexcess, and nonpossessiveness. The last five are referred to as the niyamas, or observances—purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender. A self-study section at the end of each chapter may also be used by instructors for group discussion.

From the South Branch:

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

3554391“I’m a sucker for retold fairy tales and Forsyth’s take on Rapunzel was particularly well done. Forsyth’s prose is gorgeous as she weaves in historical facts with fairy tale and original ideas. It was reminiscent of my favorite Gregory Maguire books but with a style all its own.”

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens…

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition. Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

From the Reference Desk:

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Read By Scott Brick)

2366289“I knew about this book from films that were made about it a few years back, but nothing could prepare me for the haunting narrative that Capote put together.  His sympathy and ruthless attention to detail bring every detail of this crime, of its victims, and, especially, of its perpetrators, to life in a way that is uncomfortable, fascinating, and surprisingly modern.  Scott Brick’s pitch-perfect narration gives extra life to the characters, and emphasizes the lingering effects of violence on all who are touched by it.”

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. 

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

Summer Reading: Staff Picks!

Summer-Reading-Guide-HERO

Summer may be winding down, dear readers, but, judging by the forecast, at any rate, there is still plenty of time to get out with, or hide away with, a good book or film…or come into the Library to find one to take with you on your end-of-August adventures.

We here at the Library are never tired of talking about books (I mean, goodness knows I’m not!), so here is another installment of some of our picks for summer, in the hopes that they inspire you to try a new literary or cinematic adventure soon!

suitcase-books-good-summer-reads_466x268

From the Circulation Desk:

3770617Sing StreetThere are very, very few things in the world that make flying any easier, but I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to watch this film on a recently flight, and was utterly enthralled with it.  Set in Dublin in the 1980’s, the plot centers around 14-year-old Conor, who is trying–and generally failing–to adapt to his parents’ failing marriage, his family’s increasing financial troubles, and his new ‘inner city’ parochial school, which is a haven for bullies of both the adult and child variety.  But when he sees a girl sitting on the steps across the way from the school yard, nothing else matters.  He convinces her that he is in a band, and that she should star in their next music video–and then is faced with the daunting prospect of actually forming a band and writing a song.  Though funny and quirky in the way of some of the best independent films, this is also a really touching story.  I loved that Raphina, Conor’s lady-love, wasn’t merely a coatrack on which he hung his dreams, but her own person, with faults and dreams and drive.  I loved the relationship between Conor and his older brother–the fact that the film is dedicated “to brothers everywhere” will give you an idea of where the real heart of this picture lies.  And the music, costumes, and references were a pitch-perfect homage to the overkill and relentless energy of the 1980’s.

3237668Falling Glass:  I have such a soft spot in my heart for Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy novels, so I decided to try out one of his stand-alone novels in order to tide myself over.  This book follows Killian, a Pavee (also known as a Traveller or, more derogatorily, a ‘gypsy’), and ex-enforcer for the IRA, who is trying, very hard, to make a go at an honest living for himself–until he gets a call from Richard Coulter, a phenomenally wealthy man with a phenomenally private problem–his ex-wife Rachel has ignored their custody agreement and disappeared with Coulter’s young daughter.  All signs point to Rachel being an emotionally unstable drug-addict, but it isn’t long after taking the case that Killian begins to realize that there is far more to this search than he first assumed.  This book is fully of McKinty’s trademark understated emotion and subtle insight, along with some wonderful descriptions of those people whose lives are lived outside the normal spotlights of fiction.  There is also a scene set in Hampton Beach that is guaranteed to make local readers chuckle for any number of reasons.  PS: Killian is colleagues (friends?) with Michael Forsythe, another formidible McKinty creation, and this book ties in well with the world of those novels, though it won’t spoil much for those who haven’t got there yet.

From the Reference Desk:

3082489The Return of the Native: The Library’s Classics Book Group selected this book as one of our reads earlier this year, and became a novel that inspired a very healthy amount of discussion, debate, and opinion.  This novel, which remains among Thomas Hardy’s most well-known, is both a tribute to the people of Cornwall–as evidenced by his very heavy use of local dialects, slang–and to its traditions.  The book opens with the arrival of Diggory Venn, a reddleman (someone who sells the dye with which shepherds mark their sheep), a man whose presence sets in progress a series of tragedies, farces, and cunning deceits, which are all told in a wonderfully human way.  Though Hardy was writing during the Victorian period, you don’t get the same preachy moralizing here that you do with so many other writers of the time.  His characters are selfish and mean-spirited and downright cruel at times–but they also have the ability to grow and to change, for better and for worse.  And it’s the way in which they all interact and influence each other’s lives that makes this book so compelling–and, sometimes, so challenging.

From The Offices Upstairs:

3249554Fire of the Raging Dragon: Political thriller master Don Brown’s 2012 novel not only features “ripped from the headlines” kind of drama, but also explores family ties and issues of loyalty in this pulse-pounding adventure on the high, and very, very treacherous, seas.  In the world of Brown’s Pacific Rim series, the Chinese government is attempting to control the contested waters around the Spratly Islands, leading to an escalation in America’s involvement in a naval war in the South China Sea. But when fictional U.S. President Douglas Surber realizes his daughter is stationed aboard a submarine tender in the same area, he must choose between his professional duty, his national loyalty, and his familial devotion in a choice that will have worldwide implications.  Brown’s books read like the best kind of summer blockbuster, with plenty of high-stakes tension and epic scope that will make a summer day fly by.

 

Until next time, beloved patrons–happy reading!