Summer “Sure Bet” Staff Picks

by Kelly

As library staff members, we get to see what you read every day. Don’t worry, we don’t judge. We love seeing the variety of books that walk out our doors with our patrons! From helping you find books on our shelves, checking them out for you, and sending you on your way, we are part of your reading process.  But what do we read, you may wonder? With summer in full swing, we’re sharing a bit of our reading world with you. These are “sure bet” titles for you to take with you on vacation, read in a hammock, or simply curl up to in the air conditioning.

Summer reads

Britney recommends:

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This book is total #squadgoals! Set in space, this team of misfits find themselves targeted by powerful governments when they stumble onto a secret that can change the fate of the galaxy.

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams. This cozy mystery, partially set at the Biltmore House, has everything you need—rare books, secret societies, adventure, and murder!

 

Betty recommends:

What We Keep: 150 People Share One Object that Bring Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning, by Bill Shapiro.

Country Living Tiny Homes: Living Big in Small Spaces edited by Caroline McKenzie.

Both of these titles are great books for lazy-day browsing, filled with wonderful photos.

 

Zach recommends:

Malazan Book of the Fallen series, by Steven Erikson. A sprawling nine-book fantasy series that reaches across four continents. Full of magic, humor, and compassion, you’ll feel sad to finish the final pages of this beautiful series.

 

Janelle recommends:

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Steward. If you like quirky characters, plot twists, and writing that celebrates inventive thinking, then this is a great summer selection for you. This book proves that when we harness the power of our differences to work together, amazing things can happen.

On Writing by Stephen King. This nonfiction narrative/informative blend is a unique book and fantastic read. Although it’s not an autobiography, King shares many memories (in a way that only he can) that reveal how his childhood and life shaped his work as a writer.

 

 

Olivia recommends:

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan. A vibrant graphic novel with action that would please any 80’s summer blockbuster fan. The perfect read for a lazy summer night.

 

Kelly recommends:

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne. This quirky, fun, fantasy adventure will have you hooked from chapter one. This book is great for fans of The Princess Bride and Monty Python-esque comedy. Rollicking fun.

While you are at it, read No Country for Old Gnomes, a just-released follow-up adventure by the same authors.

We hope you enjoy your summer, and all the reading you can fit into it!

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Millay Into May

by Kelly

April is national poetry month, and with the month of May sneaking up around the corner, I would be remiss to miss the chance to talk about a few of my favorite poems and poets.

Poetry has been a long-standing favorite form of writing for me. From learning funny limericks in my younger years and trying my hand at Haiku, poetry wound its way into my heart at an early age. My high school and college years brought me close to the works of some of the greatest poets of all time.

Shakespeare’s timeless sonnets, Edgar Allan Poe’s eerie and haunting poems “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven”, and John Milton’s masterpiece “Paradise Lost”, which was written upon his sudden blindness, are favorites of mine. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride”, as well as Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” are classics that should be read by all.

However, the one poet who stands out to me above the rest is Edna St. Vincent Millay, America’s third woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Named after St. Vincent’s Hospital where her uncle’s life was saved just before she was born in 1892, Vincent, as she was called, lived a life in carefree poverty, spoke her mind, and was raised by her single mother to be fiercely independent as well as an activist for women’s rights.

At the age of nineteen, Millay wrote what I consider to be the best poem of the twentieth century, a 200-plus line lyric poem titled “Renascence”. Written in the first person, this piece broadly encompasses the relationship of an individual to humanity and nature. Millay expresses through this work the feeling of empathy and taking on the pain and suffering of the world, to be ‘reborn’ with a new understanding and appreciation for life. Also known for her sonnets and short poems, Millay was a favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy whose daughter Caroline read “Memory of Cape Cod” at the former first lady’s funeral.

Millay died in 1950 at the age of 58. Her works of poetry are printed in several volumes, and the biography “Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay”, by Nancy Milford is a great read for anyone who wants to learn more about the fascinating life of this great American poet.

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Book Review: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

by Britney

I didn’t grow up a “Harry Potter kid.” In fact, I was already in college when the Harry Potter books came out. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t fall completely and utterly in love with J.K. Rowling’s fantastic wizarding world. Even now, having read the series multiple times, they still hold a sort of intangible magic for me.

That’s a lot to live up to.

So when I heard that J.K. Rowling was penning a new series – one for (gasp!) adults – I was skeptical. And also intrigued. What would she write about? Would it have any of the elements of Potter? Of magic? I waited in anticipation. I certainly did not expect the hero to be a surly, ex-military amputee detective with an addiction to cigarettes and beer. But man, oh, man, am I glad he is. Because I ❤ Cormoran Strike. He’s the kind of hero I can relate to – flawed, hates mornings, and is suspicious of everyone. My kind of guy. And his sidekick, Robin, is #girlgoals.

I devoured the first three books in the series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil. I loved them. And when British TV produced a 3-miniseries production for each of the existing books, I spent three sleepless nights watching them. (They are wonderful, by the way, and the cast is brilliant.) So when Lethal White was released, I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, finally, I’d have some answers about things left up in the air at the end of Career of Evil. So, I read all 650 pages as fast as I possibly could. And this is what I discovered:

I am normally not a crime fiction reader. It’s not my go-to, as I don’t have the stomach AT ALL for blood and gore, or for children in peril. That said, if this series ran to 37 entries, I’d read every single one, and that’s a testament to Rowling’s skill as a writer. Her ability to meticulously plan a super complex plot without dropping a single thread is nothing short of amazing. Not only that, but her characters are unique and developed, not just caricatures, and I genuinely care about them and what happens to them. She makes me feel every raw rub of Strike’s prosthesis, so that I flinch when he takes a step; she makes me feel Robin’s bone-deep trauma when she has a panic attack; she makes me want to throttle Matthew for being such a selfish wanker. I become invested in these books, immersed in Strike and Robin’s adventures, in their danger, in their success, in their very survival.

I’m not going to lie – this book was a beast. And I may even go so far as to say that parts of it were a *bit* repetitive. But not to the point where I was annoyed, or ever lost interest. In fact, I think the repetition may have been done purposefully, to really drive home some of the themes.

I liked the further character development that took place in this book. Strike is in a semi-normal relationship, but he refuses to commit to any more than “casual.” He is focused on his business, and experiences something that makes him want to become closer with his family. He borderline acknowledges his feelings for Robin, and summarily refuses to act on them (even though I keep screaming inside for him to just kiss her, already). He makes some almost hilarious – but also heartbreaking – mistakes about Robin that show what a blind spot he has where she is concerned. And he is also a brilliant, brilliant investigator, as always. Robin is one of my favorite fictional characters. I love her grit and her bravery in the face of danger, and I also empathize with her in her impossible situation at home. I am constantly frustrated with her because she capitulates to Matthew and lets him treat her like she’s inadequate, yet simultaneously understand that she suffers from PTSD, and that Matthew is, in a way, her constant. It’s maddening. There are times in this book where she’s so far out of her element she has every right to mess up or refuse, but she doesn’t. And, in fact, she succeeds admirably. And when she *finally* has her say, it’s a beautiful thing.

The mystery in this book is very complex with a lot of moving parts that don’t seem to make any sense at all. But once those pieces start falling into place, and the threads start getting pulled tighter, the revelations are astounding. I must say I did guess the culprit, but not because it was obvious, or predictable; rather I just didn’t like the character, because I don’t like that type of person, and was predisposed against them and wanted them to be guilty. 🙂

Overall, a wonderful addition to the Strike saga. If you like mysteries with a low level of yuck but a high level of intrigue, give this series a try.

Panic! At the Library

by Britney

Hello to all of you out there in Reader Land. (Waves enthusiastically.) Today’s post is for you!

I am a series reader. Though I enjoy single titles, and admire authors who can tell a tale from start to finish and contain it within the confines of a front and back cover, I prefer multi-volumes. When I read a story I really enjoy that has characters I like, I am always glad to get to spend more time with them in subsequent installments. I also like the additional glimpses I get into different worlds, cultures, and times. After all, if J.R.R. Tolkien had stopped writing after The Hobbit, I would have thought Middle Earth consisted only of The Shire and the Misty Mountains, and I never would have gotten to meet the Rohirrim, or seen the White City. See what  mean?

However, I must admit to a short-lived moment of sheer panic when I read the last word of the last book in series. Ahhh! What am I going to read now??? What if I don’t like it??? What if it’s not as good as the books I just read??? But I want something EXACTLY LIKE what I just finished!!!

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This is where I force myself to take a deep breath, and I assure myself that everything will be ok. I will find another book. I will discover new, awesome characters. I will traverse another imaginary land in search of action and adventure.

Now, be honest. How many of you out there experience this same sense of dread when you finish a book? Perhaps you look over at your TBR pile to find it has grown claws and threatens to crush you if you don’t pick a book to read immediately. The PRESSURE! Time is a valuable commodity, and you don’t have any to waste on a book you don’t like.

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Never fear. I’m here to help.

Did you know librarians are trained in something called “reader’s advisory?” Reader’s advisory involves us talking to people about a wide variety of things in an effort to pair them with their next “perfect read.” Here are some things we may ask you:

*What are some of the TV shows you like to watch?

*What types of music do you listen to?

*What do you do in your free time?

*Which books have you enjoyed in the past?

*What were your favorite books when you were a kid?

*Which books have you read that you disliked?

*Are you a history buff? Are you interested in space? Animals? Travel?

*Do you like to listen to things while you work/exercise/study?

If you think some of these questions have nothing to do with reading, you’d be right. But they all help give us information that will allow us to learn your interests, and your likes and dislikes, to help us help you find a great book. Books aren’t just about reading; they’re about experiencing all that book has to offer. And that is a multi-faceted process.

So next time you close the cover on a book you’ve just finished, don’t panic. Rather, look at it as a challenge. And then let us at the library be your book warriors and help you attack the Next Book Wilderness!

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