Tag Archives: Librarians Recommend

Librarian’s Recommend: Wendy Webb’s Novels

Deb Recommends: The Vanishing, The Fate of Mercy Alban, and The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Web

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Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired…and who the world believes is dead.

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Grace Alban has spent twenty years away from her childhood home, the stately Alban House, for reasons she would rather forget. But when her mother’s unexpected death brings Grace and her teen-age daughter home, she finds more haunting the halls and passageways of Alban House than her own personal demons.

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A young woman travels to uncover a past she never knew was hers in this thrilling, modern, ghost story. A letter upends Hallie’s life. She was raised by her loving father, having been told her mother died in a fire. Her mother, Madlyn, was alive until very recently. Why would Hallie’s father have taken her away? What happened to her family thirty years ago?

These moody and atmospheric gothic dramas feature so many family secrets, twists and turns that they’re a joy to read, especially on a dark, stormy weekend. The endings are so satisfying, despite the twists and turns. A recommendation for any fan of dramas, mystery, and plot twists.

 

 

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Librarians Recommend: Primates

Katie recommends: Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

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Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century.

Genres: non-fiction, graphic novel, middle grade, science, feminist heroes

A lovely biography of three very important scholars which shows just how intertwined their careers were. The delightful art brings such personality to the story, allowing for multi-page silent passages with just these scientists interacting with the apes. Combined with the smart, fast-moving narration that’s conveniently color-coded to the characters and not afraid to tell the nastier parts of living in these jungle locales (like malaria, lack of running water, poachers, and lack of contact with the outside world), this story gives a down-to-earth feel to these pioneers of science, without scaring readers off from their less than glamorous lifestyle.

Recommended for amateur scientists, animal lovers, and voracious graphic novel readers.

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Librarians Recommend: The Glass Castle

Debbie Recommends The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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A tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave the author the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

What was your favorite part?

When the reader comes to grips with the severity of the poverty that these children live in. When the kids find an abandoned house that’s filled with canned goods they are so excited because they think they’ll get food. They open them all and find they’ve all gone bad and they’re so disappointed. They learn how to forage things like crab apples, black berries, and pawpaws. The poverty they grew up in was just astounding.

Who was your favorite character?

The narrator was my favorite character because she found a way to move beyond what her childhood was and had an incredible amount of fortitude and strength to overcome

Who would you recommend this book to?

Nonfiction readers who like to know about other peoples’ lives and anyone who wants to read it before you see the movie.

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Librarians Recommend: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Katie recommends The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

This lovely exploration of childhood through the eyes of an adult has an almost surreal tone, like a long remembered dream. Gaiman’s beautiful prose, perfected over longer novels like American Gods and Anansi Boys, presents this short, tight narrative so fluidly that you might not notice how quickly everything reads until it’s done. Lettie’s family is just the right kind of unusual to make you question whether this book is really fantasy, and the narrator’s reactions to the Hempstock family’s care is just the sweetest.

A recommendation for anyone who enjoys British literature, modern-ish depictions of witches, or literary explorations of what it means to be a child.

Did I mention that Gaiman is very, very talented at reading his own books?

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Librarians Recommend: The Arrival

Katie Recommends: The Arrival by Shaun Tan
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One day a man gets on a boat and sails to a faraway land in search of a better life for his family. He has to navigate the ridiculously complicated systems of this strange world where everything looks odd and the language is completely new to him and everything from the food to the appliances is foreign. It’s a struggle, but he meets other immigrants along the way who encourage and help him create a home for his faraway family.
With that kind of summary you might be surprised to learn that there is not a single English word in this entire book. Tan’s mastery of human facial expression, his fantastical yet relatable sketches, and the cinematic conventions he uses from image to image paint a clear, stunningly detailed story of a man just trying to survive in a foreign world.
If you want a taste of the Immigrant experience, you’ll find no better than Shaun Tan’s The Arrival.

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Librarians Recommend: N0S4A2

Katie Recommends: N0S4A2 by Joe Hill

images.duckduckgo.com.jpg Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. Manx and his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith who likes to transport children to the astonishing — and terrifying–“Christmasland.” That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

Come for the characters, stay for the plot; Hill is not afraid to write flawed, yet compelling characters and woo boy does Vic have flaws. But then, so does Lou, the geeky, overweight biker who finds Vic by the side of the road and takes her to safety. Or Maggie, the baddass, stuttering librarian who helps Vic find her son. And Wayne, of course, who has inherited his mother’s survival instincts and world class stubbornness, good traits to have when you’ve been kidnapped by… whatever Manx is.

Each character feels like someone you could meet around town, which is what makes Hill’s horror work so well. You get so dang attached to these people. Couple this with Hill’s subtle, down-to-earth writing style and you have a book that’s hard to forget. Five years after reading I can still hear the visceral sounds the text conjured for a struggle in the book, in which Wayne watches Manx and Vic brawl. That snap literally made me gasp in surprise.

This book has a lot going on; it spans pretty much Vic’s whole life, with chapters from the point of view of every character listed above, and then some. Everything interweaves so tightly, though, that it never feels bloated, repetitive, or overwrought. Complex though the narrative is, Hill somehow manages to make it simple to follow from start to finish and beyond.

This book is a great gateway into horror books (it was one of my very first forays into the genre), and if you’re already a fan, there are all manner of Easter Eggs from Hill’s other work, as well as references to locales like Pennywise’s Circus and Shawshank Prison. If you’re looking for a book to get you into the Halloween Spirit, look no further than N0S4A2. It certainly won’t disappoint.

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Librarians Recommend: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Debbie Recommends: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

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Arthur Pepper comes from the same kind of world as Harold Fry and the Man from Ove; every day he wears his grey slacks and mustard sweater vest and waters his fern. Everything’s fine until he discovers a gold charm bracelet as he’s going through his wife’s things a year after his death and it leads him on a journey to discover the story behind each charm.

Such a comforting book with a sweet story that’s just so nice and hopeful. I liked that this crotchety old man was finally coming out of his shell after so long mourning, and how the bracelet charms made him view his wife in such a different light because of what he learned from them. I like stories where older characters aren’t just crotchety up until they die, but where they can still grow and change and learn–this book is such a wonderful example of that.

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