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Click to search this book in our catalog The First Bad Man
by Miranda July

Publishers Weekly July (No One Belongs Here More than You) successfully transitions from short stories to her first novel, introducing eccentric 40-something Cheryl Glickman in a tale about role-playing. In addition to sexual fantasies featuring her senior co-worker Phillip, unmarried Cheryl also imagines a perennial connection with babies. Her world is flipped upside down when Clee, her boss's 20-year-old daughter, moves in until she can get on her feet. Cheryl's fantasies soon involve Clee with any man that passes by, and she becomes aroused when Clee plays along with self-defense scenarios. When Phillip starts a relationship with a 16-year-old girl, Cheryl grows closer with Clee, switching between roles as her enemy, sparring partner, mother, grandmother, aunt, and girlfriend. Other characters give, or refuse to give, their own performances, including Clee's parents, who refuse to act as grandparents when she gets pregnant, and Cheryl's therapist, who plays mistress to the other office doctor. Cheryl and Clee's simulated fights in the first half will remind readers of July's peculiar short-story style, but the book hits its stride in the second half when Cheryl helps Clee through her pregnancy. July's writing is strange and beautiful, with enough cleverness woven into the characters' strange fantasy lives to keep readers contemplating the family roles and games adults undertake. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Starred Review. July is a quirky creator working in many media, so much so that she was the subject of an Onion article titled "Miranda July Called Before Congress To Explain Exactly What Her Whole Thing Is." She has an award-winning short story collection (No One Belongs Here More Than You), films (The Future), and performance art pieces under her belt, but this is her first novel. The author's protagonist is Cheryl, a lonely middle-aged woman invested in her work for a company that produces self-defense exercise videos. Cheryl's incredibly regimented life is interrupted by Clee, a young, irresponsible houseguest who won't leave. Cheryl's problems start out predictably, but her inner monolog and way of coping with loneliness and alienation are anything but typical. Her obsession with an older coworker leads her to explore her sexuality and gender identity, and through Clee she learns about herself and fulfills a lifelong desire to care for a child born to the "wrong" mother. VERDICT This well-written, compelling novel will delight the open-minded reader looking for something new. It will satisfy July's fans and win her many more. [See Prepub Alert, 7/7/14.]-Kate Gray, Worcester P.L., MA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Drowning Ruth
by Christina Schwarz

Library Journal: Why did Ruth's mother, Mathilda, drown on that fateful night in 1919 and Ruth survive? That is the central question that this novel sets out to answer. Mathilda's sister, Amanda, who has been nursing soldiers in Milwaukee (it is right after World War I), has returned to the family farm in rural Wisconsin. Mathilda and Ruth are there to help her return to a normal life. Yet a year later, Mathilda's husband returns from the war to find his wife drowned and his sister-in-law raising his daughter. So continues the tale through 1941, as we watch Ruth grow up and try to remember what happened that winter night. Along the way, Ruth befriends Imogene, who has a closer connection to the family than Ruth can imagine. The story is recounted partly through flashback and moves from first-person to third-person narrative. What results is a gripping tale of sisterly rivalry, family loyalty, and secret histories. Already optioned for a film by Miramax, to be directed by Wes Craven, this first novel is an engrossing read. Recommended for all public libraries.

Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: "Ruth remembered drowning." The first sentence of this brilliantly understated psychological thriller leaps off the page and captures the reader's imagination. In Schwarz's debut novel, brutal Wisconsin weather and WWI drama color a tale of family rivalry, madness, secrets and obsessive love. By March 1919, Nurse Amanda Starkey has come undone. She convinces herself that her daily exposure to the wounded soldiers in the Milwaukee hospital where she works is the cause of her hallucinations, fainting spells and accidents. Amanda journeys home to the family farm in Nagawaukee, where her sister, Mathilda (Mattie), lives with her three-year-old daughter Ruth, awaiting the return of her war-injured husband, Carl Neumann. Mattie's ebullient welcome convinces Amanda she can mend there. But then Mattie drowns in the lake that surrounds the sisters' island house and, in a rush of confusion and anguish, Amanda assumes care of Ruth. After Carl comes home, Amanda and he manage to work together on the farm and parent Ruth, but their arrangement is strained: Amanda has a breakdown and recuperates at a sanatorium. As time passes, Ruth grows into an odd, guarded child who clings to perplexing memories of the night her mother drowned. Why does Amanda have that little circle of scars on her hand? What is Amanda's connection to Ruth's friend Imogene and why does she fear Imogene's marriage to Clement Owen's son? Schwarz deftly uses first-person narration to heighten the drama. Her prose is spare but bewitching, and she juggles the speakers and time periods with the surety of a seasoned novelist. Rather than attempting a trumped-up suspenseful finale, Schwarz ends her novel gently, underscoring the delicate power of her tale. Agent, Jennifer R. Walsh at the Writers Shop. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Teen People and Mango Book Club main selections; film rights optioned by Miramax, Wes Craven to direct; foreign rights sold in Germany, France, the U.K., Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. (Aug.)

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal: YA-A wonderfully constructed gothic suspense novel set on a stark Wisconsin farm in 1919. The story goes backward and forward in time and is told by Amanda, her niece Ruth, and an omniscient narrator. The ties that bind the two women are as fragile as they are fierce and have their origin in the relationship of two sisters, Amanda and her sister Mattie, Ruth's mother. The narrative begins with Amanda as she recounts her childhood and the responsibility she came to feel for her younger sister and the parents who favored her younger sibling. Amanda finally wrests herself away from home to become a nurse, but her independence is short-lived. Overwhelmed and sickened by the care of the wounded, and heartsick over the love of a married man, she suffers a nervous breakdown and seeks solace by returning to the farm to help Mattie care for her tiny daughter as they await the return of Mattie's husband from World War I. But tragedy follows with Mattie's mysterious drowning during a winter blizzard and guilty lies soon engulf Amanda and threaten to change the lives of several others in the small rural community. A compelling complex tale of psychological mystery and maddeningly destructive provincial attitudes.-Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Fairfax, VA

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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Sample List One
Click to search this book in our catalog At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA
by George Tenet

Book list Tenet, former director of the CIA, has finally delivered his long-anticipated book. It was supposed to provide background and insight into the events of September 11 as well as the lead-up (and fall down) of the Iraq War. But most readers will find that Tenet?s hodgepodge of facts tangled with homey anecdotes, excuses, and mea culpas will leave them as confused as ever. Consider this--from the man whose job included briefing President Bush on intelligence matters six days a week: "One of the great mysteries to me is exactly when the war in Iraq became inevitable." Tenet, alternately the folksy Greek American kid from Queens and the high-charging power broker, is proud of the many things the CIA did right under his charge, such as disrupting terrorist attacks leading up to 9/11 (while, of course, missing the big one), and he writes feverishly about successes in Afghanistan and elsewhere during the trying months afterward. The book is at its best painting just how dangerous, confusing, and exhausting those days were. Then comes the distraction from terrorism that was Iraq, and according to Tenet, common purpose disappeared in Washington, and interagency warfare reigned. Cheney comes out looking bad, and Rice worse, but much of the blame for the ill-preparedness goes to the slightly lower-level neocons: Wolfowitz, Libby, and the hapless Douglas Feith, who seems to be hated by everyone who has written an Iraq book. Rumsfeld is hardly mentioned-odd, considering he was running his own intelligence service in the Department of Defense. As for the president, Tenet likes him--a lot. But in a telling few pages, Bush keeps trying to get neocon favorite Ahmed Chalabi off the payroll, and no one pays a bit of attention to him. Turning these pages is like walking through mirrors."--"Cooper, Ilene" Copyright 2007 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Tenet, former director of the CIA, has finally delivered his long-anticipated book. It was supposed to provide background and insight into the events of September 11 as well as the lead-up (and fall down) of the Iraq War. But most readers will find that Tenet's hodgepodge of facts tangled with homey anecdotes, excuses, and mea culpas will leave them as confused as ever. Alternately presenting himself as the folksy Greek American kid from Queens and the high-charging power broker, Tenet is proud of the many things the CIA did right under his charge, such as disrupting terrorist attacks leading up to 9/11 (while, of course, missing the big one), and he writes feverishly about successes in Afghanistan and elsewhere during the trying months afterward. The book is at its best painting just how dangerous, confusing, and exhausting those days were. Then comes the distraction from terrorism that was Iraq, and according to Tenet, common purpose disappeared in Washington, and interagency warfare reigned. Cheney comes out looking bad, and Rice worse, but much of the blame for the ill-preparedness goes to the slightly lower-level neocons: Wolfowitz, Libby, et al. As for the president, Tenet likes him--a lot. But in a telling few pages, Bush keeps trying to get neocon favorite Ahmed Chalabi off the payroll, and no one pays a bit of attention to him. Turning these pages is like walking through mirrors.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2007 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Talk about an insider's account. Head of the CIA from 1997 to 2004, Tenet ushers us inside the agency before and after 9/11. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Sample List Two
Click to search this book in our catalog Kit's Wilderness
by David Almond

Book list Gr. 6^-9. Almond, whose Skellig is the Booklist 1999 Top of the List winner for youth fiction, creates a heartbreakingly real world fused with magic realism in this story, set in an English coal-mining town. Thirteen-year-old Kit Watson and his family have returned to Stonygate to care for Kit's recently widowed grandfather. Almost immediately, Kit is enticed by John Askew, also of an old mining family, into a game called Death. Like the other members of Askew's gang, Kit is left alone in an abandoned mine until he sees ghosts of ancestors who died there as boys. Kit's friend Allie tells him that the other kids pretend to see these apparitions, but Kit really does see--and Askew knows it. The boys share a bond. Both are artistic: Kit is a writer; Askew is an artist. And both are sensitive enough to perceive what may not be there. But Kit comes from a strong, loving family, and Askew is the child of an ineffectual mother and a father who's a vicious drunk. Slowly, as Kit hears stories from his grandfather and writes his own, he realizes he has a mission--to save John Askew, body and soul. Almond has set an enormous task for himself. He juggles several plot elements--grandfather's fading mental capacities, Allie's acting aspirations, one of Kit's stories--along with the boys' struggle for redemption. But he succeeds beautifully, knitting dark and light together and suffusing the multilayered plot with an otherworldly glow. This is a long book, and a complex one, but Almond's language is a pleasure to read; and, as with Skellig, the story's ruminations about death and the healing power of love will strike children in unsuspected ways. --Ilene Cooper

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Revisiting many of the themes from Skellig, Almond offers another tantalizing blend of human drama, surrealism and allegory. He opens the novel with a triumphant scene, in which Kit Watson, the 13-year-old narrator, and his classmates, John Askew and Allie Keenan reemerge from "ancient darkness into a shining valley," as if to reassure readers throughout the course of the cryptic tale that the game of "Death," so central to the book, is indeed just a game. Nevertheless, he takes readers on a thrilling and spine-tingling ride. When Kit moves with his mother and father to the mining town of Stoneygate to keep company with his newly widowed grandfather, he feels drawn to John Askew who, like Kit, comes from a long line of coal miners. Askew presses Kit to take part in a game of "Death," for which the participants spin a knife to determine whose turn it is to "die." The chosen one then remains alone in the darkness of Askew's den, to join spirits with boys killed in a coal mine accident in 1821. Some regular players consider the game to be make-believe, but Kit senses something far more profound and dangerous, and the connection he forges with the ancient past also circuitously seals a deeper bond with Askew. Allie acts as a bridge between the two worlds, much as Mina was for Michael in Skellig. The ability that Askew, Kit and his grandpa possess to pass between two seductive worlds, here and beyond, in many ways expands on the landscape Almond created in Skellig. The intricacy and complexity of the book's darker themes make it a more challenging read than his previous novel for children, but the structure is as awe-inspiring as the ancient mining tunnels that run beneath Stoneygate. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 6-9-The haunting otherworldliness that distinguished Skellig (Delacorte, 1999) also permeates this book. After the death of his grandmother, 13-year-old Kit Watson moves with his family to Stoneygate, an old coal-mining town, to take care of his elderly grandfather. He forms a tentative friendship with John Askew, who is ridiculed because of his father's public drunkenness and inability to care for his family. In the wilderness area near their town, John organizes an after-school game called "Death," in which Kit and other friends lie alone in an abandoned mine waiting for visions of children who died there long ago. After school officials discover the game and expel John, he disappears. Kit, a budding writer, crafts a story about a prehistoric boy who becomes separated from his family. The story parallels the emotional incidents in John Askew's life and incorporates elements of stories Kit's grandfather has told him about the mines. John's mother pleads with the boy to bring her son home at the same time as the mother in the story Kit is writing appears to him, pleading with him to return her missing children. John resurfaces and, with Kit's help, rejoins his family. Grandpa dies, but Kit is committed to keeping his memory and his stories alive. Almond artfully brings these complicated, interwoven plots to a satisfying conclusion as he explores the power of friendship and family, the importance of memory, and the role of magic in our lives. This is a highly satisfying literary experience, showing readers that some of life's events are beyond explanation.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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