Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Juliane recommends "Happens Every Day"

A librarian at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library recommended this to me, and at first I thought – when am I going to be in the mood to read a book about a young mother getting a divorce?  Since I have a 30 minute commute to work each way I decided to listen to it on audiobook (I love when an author reads their own book for the audio version, especially when it is a memoir like this, written in first-person).  Something about the author’s vivid descriptions and deep introspection pulled me in.  Her lilting voice spun a tale of the joys of young motherhood, the adventure of moving to a new city to follow her husband’s academic career, and personal memories of her beloved, albeit enigmatic, husband.  It’s WASP-y in all the right ways – intellectual academic-types, well-bred families, summers in Maine.  The first half plays out like a Pinterest board come to life – the author is moving her family of two young boys and pets to Oberlin, OH where her husband will teach poetry.  The town is funky and fresh.  They make quick friends with the locals, eat at wonderful cafes, drink tea, and she volunteers at a local farmer’s market.  Together they restore an old 19th century home they lovingly call “Bricky.”  They make fast friends with a new female professor and quickly things change.  Rather suddenly the husband decides he wants out.  The author does a good job of foreshadowing the fact her husband chose to leave her from the beginning of the memoir, but even when it unfolds, I felt undone, unprepared, and raw.  The second and third half of the book put the reader squarely in the author’s shoes as she wrestles with “what’s happening…?” (she repeats this many times as she tries to get her bearings).  The author recounts her attempts to repair and save the marriage, but in the end accepts the fact her husband has fallen out of love with her and their life and there is nothing she can do to change him.  The author never comes across as whiny or meek, but rather very self-introspective and courageous to share her inner-most thoughts. I recommend this work to anyone who can get sucked into reality show marathons or who enjoyed, “Eat, Pray, Love” or “500 Days of Summer” these works share similar themes of personal loss and recovery.

Recommended audience:  adult

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gretchen recommends" Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs"

Heather Lende has been called “part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott.”  This memoir, her second book, chronicles family, friendships, and faith in small-town Alaska as the subtitle explains.  Lende’s plain-spoken narrative reflects on her nearly fatal bicycle collision and her subsequent recovery, cheered on by the whole community in Haines, Alaska where she lives.   At midlife, she writes unflinchingly about the deep sadness of losing those close to you and the simple joys of living each day with her family and neighbors in the tiny Alaskan town reached only by plane or boat.  Her vivid writing brings the reader to idyllic Haines and its fascinating residents, but her observations on the human condition are universal, wherever you live.  This memoir is suitable for adults.

Jamie recommends the Sookie Stackhouse series

Are you looking for a little light reading this summer?  The Sookie Stackhouse series of books by Charlaine Harris might be the ones for you!  These novels revolve around telepath Sookie Stackhouse and her adventures (or misadventures) with the local vampires, werewolves and fairies in her hometown of Bon Temps, Louisiana.  Each book has a central mystery that is solved by the end.  These supernatural mysteries are quick, guilty pleasure reading for the long, hot summer. Start now and you'll be caught up in time for the release of the final novel in the series next year.  Better yet, once you've finished the books you can check out the True Blood DVDs and see how the novels were adapted for television.

Recommended for adults.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Beth recommends "Alpha"

Planning on visiting an amusement park this summer?  May I suggest:  Wilsonville, marvelously brought to life in Greg Rucka’s thriller Alpha.  Along with exciting rides and fantasy lands and adorable characters in costume you will also find a sleeper agent from a terrorist organization, a former Special Ops soldier planted undercover because intelligence predicts an attack, supporting casts on both sides, and a visiting class of deaf students.  Just to heighten the tension – one of those deaf teens is the daughter of the soldier.  The plot is as adrenaline-pumping, pulse-pounding as any roller coaster, and the characters are people you can care about.  I highly recommend Alpha to fans of Lee Child.  And if you jump off this ride ready for another, consider an older title by Lincoln Child (of the Preston-Child writing team)– Utopia – another theme park under threat, packed with thrills and chills.  Summer reading for me doesn’t get much better than this. 
Recommended for adults and teens.