Category Archives: Uncategorized

Beautiful Animals

Title: Beautiful Animals
Author: Lawrence Osborne
Publisher: Hogarth, July 2017

Summary/Review: The novel, Beautiful Animals, takes place on the Greek island of Hydra, where two young women strike up a friendship while vacationing with their families for the summer. Naomi Codrington is the daughter of a wealthy British art dealer. Sam Haldane is a few years younger, and also rich, but to a lesser degree.  Both girls are bored.

Both girls are bored. Then they discover a Syrian refugee, Faoud, washed up on a deserted beach and  Naomi is determined to make the young man their summer project and help him find a new life in Italy.  To raise money for Faoud, Naomi proposes to facilitate his burglary of her own family’s villa.

For the reader, the scheme is suspect and we wonder instead if this is Naomi’s attempt to strike back at her father and step mother. (Several observations throughout the book suggest that Naomi is a cold calculator-pulling strings for her own amusement.) The plan goes horribly wrong. And the dread of what will happen next begins to build.

As one reviewer said, “the novel exerts a sickening pull.”  Its’ climax and resolution may not surprise you, but it may have you wishing for more justice.

Who will like this book: For those who enjoy their fiction a little on the dark and sinister side.

If you would like more information, or would like to place a hold, please click here.

Recommended by: Susan Z., Reference

See What I Have Done

Title: See What I Have Done
Author: Sarah Schmidt
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press, August 2017

Summary/Review:  On August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. Andrew had been killed while sleeping on the sofa, Abby in an upstairs bedroom. Daughter Lizzie and the maid, Bridget, were the only ones known to be in the home at the time of the murders. Lizzie was later tried and acquitted, but was never fully exonerated by her neighbors or the public at large.

This is a great reimagining of the infamous Lizzie Borden case, with so many motives and icky suspects to choose from. Even for those who think they know what happened, this will still be a suspenseful, engrossing novel. Alternating between the perspectives of several characters, the reader begins to realize there were some very disturbed people milling around the Borden household that fateful day. The writing is very descriptive, from the intense heat to the sticky pears to the gory wounds. Be prepared for a spine tingling read.

Who will like this book: For readers of historic fiction who are not squeamish.

Recommended by: Sue B., Circulation

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The Salt House

Title: The Salt House
Author: Lisa Duffy
Publisher: Touchstone, June 2017

Summary/Review: This debut novel, set during a Maine summer, follows one family in the aftermath of a horrible tragedy.

A year after the tragedy, each member of the Kelly family navigates the world in their own private grief as they all try to deal and move on with their lives.

Told in alternating voices, The Salt House is a layered, emotional portrait of marriage, family, friendship, and the complex intersections of love, grief, and hope.

I absolutely loved The Salt House; if I could have gotten away with reading it all in one sitting and to hell with chores, I would have. It’s a beautiful rendering of the strength and resiliency of family, of the importance of honesty and the necessity of being able to forgive.

Who will like this book: For readers of Jodi Picoult, Lisa Genova and Anita Shreve.

Recommended by: Linda, Reference

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A Study in Charlotte

Title: A Study in Charlotte
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; March 1, 2016

Summary/Review: Watson and Holmes…in action again! Except in this version, they are teenage descendants of their great-great-great grandfathers. When Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are accused of murdering their fellow classmate, they are then pulled into a puzzling mystery and come to a realization. Someone was setting them up. But who?

Readers will be astonished once they discover who the real murderer is. Brittany Cavallaro does a superb job in this murder mystery. Readers will be on the edge of their seats.

Who would like this book: Teens and adults that like a good whodunnit.

Recommended by: Josephine K., guest reviewer

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Blackout

Title: Blackout
Author: Marc Elsberg
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark, June 2017

Summary/Review:  One night the lights go out across Europe as the electrical grid collapses. An Italian hacker quickly realizes this is no accident, thus beginning a race to solve the attack before more lives are lost due to lack of fuel, food and heat. This was a great, fast read and one of those thrillers that is scariest because the reader can imagine it actually happening.  We’ve all been inconvenienced by power outages; imagine if the lights didn’t come back on.

Who will like this book:  For patrons who liked I Am Pilgrim and anything with a post-apocalyptic feel.

Recommended by: Linda, Reference

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on this book, please click here.

The Only Child

Title: The Only Child
Author: Andrew Pyper
Publisher: Simon & Schuster June 2017

Summary/Review: The old-school horrors of Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde manifest in present day in this deftly imagined novel by Andrew Pyper.

Dr. Lily Dominick finds strange comfort in working with the criminally insane. This comfort comes from her uncanny ability to delve into their minds and find the root of their evil. That is until she meets her new client. A man with a number but no name. A man who has committed heinous crimes and knows far too much about Lily and her past.

From that meeting on, their lives are irrevocably intertwined and the details of Lily’s forgotten past will be made clear.

If you like this, try this: Fans of Penny Dreadful and classic Dean Koontz and Robert McCammon will be interested, as well as readers who enjoy their thrillers and suspense with a little horror mixed in.

Recommended by: Sue B., Circulation

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The North Water

Title: The North Water
Author: Ian McGuire
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 2016.

Summary/ReviewFirst of all this is about as far from a chick book as you can get. It is a sometimes-thrilling account of the horrible, bloody, violent life of Arctic whalers aboard a sailing ship in the late 1850s.

The protagonist is an Irish ex-Army surgeon with a questionable past who served with the British army in India. Back in England after that military escapade, he needs to find work and signs on to be ship’s surgeon for a pittance of a salary, just to have something to do for 6 months or so. At that time the whale oil business was fast being replaced by coal oil and paraffin since they were cleaner, less expensive sources of heat and light. Unfortunately, also among the crew is as foul a human being as I have ever read about — Henry Drax is his name and among other things, he rapes and sometimes kills young boys on land as well as at sea. 

The owner of the ship, who has his own sordid past, connives to sink the ship for the insurance money when they are out whaling, but the weather and human attrocities “scuttle” his plot. 

The whaler-sailors were toiling under horrible and unforgiving conditions, but the absolute disregard for human and animal life and suffering is hard to fathom. 

The North Water may, or may not be, an historically accurate depiction of a way of life that none of us will ever experience. There are other novels which take the same path, exploring and explaining the lives of commercial fishermen, such as The Perfect Storm and All Fishermen Are Liars.  

I read this book because In December 2016 The New York Times named The North Water as one of the 10 Best Books of 2016.

If you like this, try this: The Perfect Storm and All Fishermen Are Liars.  

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

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The Wonder

Title: The Wonder

Author: Emma Donoghue

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, September 2016

Summary/Review:  Anna O’Donnell is a perfectly normal, very bright, attractive and extremely pious 11-year-old Irish girl who has not eaten a morsel of food in four months.

Is she a Wonder or a hoax? If she is a wonder then everyone in her deeply religious Catholic hometown is living with a possible saint, but if she and her family are perpetrating a hoax they want to get to the bottom of it.

This is where Lib Wright, who is a nurse on the vanguard of modern  medicine comes in. She is hired by a town committee, along with a local nun, to keep strict watch over young Anna for two weeks to see if she is secretly receiving any nutrition at all. Lib is convinced that there is indeed a hoax being committed and sets out to expose it. She has to contend with deep-seated “traditional” medical thought as practiced by the two doctors who are attending to Anna as she wastes away right in front of Lib’s eyes.

Lib discovers a complex and self-serving community surrounding Anna as she does her best to expose what she KNOWS is a sham, while doing her utmost to do no harm to the young girl in her care.

The reader is treated to a description of how modern nursing came to be taught to the women of Europe along with a look at the superstitions and deep religious convictions which shaped every facet of Irish country life.

The resolution of the mystery is shocking. Anna has a deep and troubling secret which beautifully ties together every terrible possibility the story poses.

One thing to consider: you might want to read this book, and you really should read it, with a dictionary or smart device at hand to look up words used by the author in her rich and vibrant descriptions. She has a PhD in eighteenth-century literature and her vocabulary is extraordinary.

Who will like this book?: Readers of Historical Fiction or Mystery, or anyone who just wants to read a great story.

If you like this, try this: News of the World by Paulette Jiles, or Room by Emma Donoghue

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

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The Slow Waltz of Turtles

Title: The Slow Waltz of Turtles

Author: Katherine Pancol

Publisher: Penguin Books, November 2016

Summary/Review:  Ever since I read Yellow Eyes of a Crocodile by the French author Katherine Pancol. I have been waiting for more of her books to be translated into English. After 3 long years her sequel to Yellow Eyes has been published here and it was well worth the wait! Josephine Cortes is living in her new apartment in Paris with her youngest daughter Zoe. Her older daughter is studying in London, her best friend has moved, and her sister has been institutionalized. Oh and Josephine just may be in love with her brother-in-law. And on top of all this three women have been murdered in her new neighborhood.

What follows is a charming, funny, zany and sometimes dark story. Pancol has the ability to immerse you into her character’s lives and feelings and you will be reluctant to leave them. Here’s hoping that we will not have to wait a few years for her next translated book.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like anything French and any reader who enjoys a good story about a woman at a crossroads in her life.

If you like this, try this: Yellow Eyes of a Crocodile by Katherine Pancol, A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services

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The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify

Title: The Joy of Less:  A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify

Author: Francine Jay

Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2016

Summary/ReviewWe are constantly trying to keep up with those around us and don’t realize how much time and stress is spent on acquiring and maintaining things like cars, houses, designer clothes, brand-name appliances, etc.  Having too much stuff can actually hold you back from enjoying new experiences and activities.  The clutter weighs you down.  With exercises clarifying the concept of having less, questions to answer before purchasing a new item, and a system in place, the transition to minimalism seems not only necessary but easy to do.

Set in four parts—PHILOSOPHY (establishing a minimalist mindset), STREAMLINE (every letter stands for a technique for tackling clutter and keeping more from coming into the house), ROOM BY ROOM (decluttering, containing, and maintaining each room), and LIFESTYLE (converting family members and understanding the global impact of minimalism)—this book contains everything needed to live a simpler, happier life. 

Who will like this book?: For those who believe less is more.

If you liked this, try this: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation Department

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