Early June new releases

Aaahhhh. Summer is finally here! The kids are out of school, the pools are open and the sun is (we hope!) shining. Summer just screams at me to pick up a new book — or several! — and climb into the hammock under the tree and ignore everything else for a while as I lose myself in the pages. When I was a teenager, we lived just a couple blocks from the local public library, so I would ride my bike over, pick up a few novels, come home and jump in the hammock to read. My family always knew where to find me in the backyard.

And now that I am, well, let’s just say not a teenager any longer, and my summers aren’t nearly as free as they were when I was 14, my heart still yearns for the hammock, a light breeze and a stack of good books. Luckily, with all the new releases to look forward to this month, my stack will stay nice and tall.

Here are a few titles we are looking forward to that will be released the first couple of weeks of June.

June 6: Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
This, the 13th novel from Sarah Dessen, takes place in the world of wedding planning, so a crisis is just about guaranteed. Louna is the daughter of a famous wedding planner, so she has seen weddings at beaches, hotels, and fancy clubs. After her first love ended tragically, Louna is pretty cynical about happy endings. So when she meets Ambrose, she works to keep her distance. However, now that he’s met a girl he really wants, Ambrose is hard to discourage.

“The Alice Network” is the newest historical novel by Kate Quinn.

June 6: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
This new historical novel by Kate Quinn brings together the stories of a 1915 woman, Eve Gardiner, recruited as a spy in France, and a 1947 unconventional American socialite, Charlie St. Clair.  Charlie is sent to Europe to have a “little problem” taken care of, but while there she goes on the hunt for her cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war. There, Charlie meets Eve, who, desperate to fight against the Germans, is trained by the “Queen of Spies” and sent into enemy-occupied France during the World War I.

June 6: Camino Island by John Grisham
A daring heist from a vault deep below an Ivy League university’s library. A dealer in rare books, who also occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts. A young female novelist who goes undercover. Eventually, people learn too much. Suspense as only Grisham can deliver.

June 13: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
From the author of Bad Feminist comes an emotionally raw memoir of food, weight, self-image, and self-care. From Goodreads: “As a woman who describes her own body as ‘wildly undisciplined,’ Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.”

Take a trip to Old Hollywood in this story of one actress’s story of her life, secrets, and all seven husbands.

June 13: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evelyn Hugo, one of the most glamorous actresses of Old Hollywood, has decided the time has come to tell her story, and the truth, about her scandalous life. To do so, she chooses unknown magazine report Monique Gray, who is not exactly at the top of her own world, but is determined to use this chance to jump start her career. As Evelyn’s life unfolds, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s surprisingly in tragic and irreversible ways.

June 13: The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor
Kristoff, an apprentice stamp engraver in Austria, is forced to work for the Germans after his teacher, a master stamp engraver, disappears during the Kristallnacht. Fifty years later, Katie Nelson discovers a stamp collection of her father’s, which includes an unusual stamp from World War II Austria. The discovery leads Katie and Benjamin, an appraiser, on a journey to find the origins of the stamp.

Book Review: The Shadow Land

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

First Line: Sofia, the year 2008.

Summary: When Alexandra takes a summer job in Sofia, Bulgaria she thinks that it will be the perfect way to heal the loss of her brother who disappeared on a hiking trip.  But things do not turn out the way she had planned.  She meets a group of three people outside a hotel but when they go their separate ways she notices that she has kept one of their bags.  Inside are human ashes.  With the help of the friendly taxi driver, Bobby, she is determined to find the group and return the remains.  Everything is not as easy as she expected when threats and warnings start to appear as they dig deeper into whose ashes are in the urn.

Highlights: I love the pieces near the end when you get to look into the life of Stoyan Lazarov.  He details his time after the war and living in Communist controlled Bulgaria.  The strength that he possesses is astounding.  I have read a lot about prisoners during the Holocaust and it always scares me plus amazes me the will power and strength these people have.

Lowlights: The middle is slow moving as they are traveling around Bulgaria looking for the relatives of Stoyan.  It was a lot of detail gathering and talking that leads up till the ending but it got long.

FYI: Read her other book, The Historian! Amazing read.  But make sure you keep the lights on.

Summer reading for grown-ups!

If you are a parent, you may be familiar with summer reading programs for kids. You know, you come into the library, sign your child(ren) up, and then spend the summer convincing them to spend time with books to log all their minutes reading or being read to, and hope that the weather in the last couple weeks before school starts is nice enough to use your free passes to the water park. It’s fun. No, really, it is! But admittedly, it can be a little bit exhausting.

Even if you don’t have children, you may think that summer reading programs are only for kids. And our summer reading program for kids is super awesome, but it’s not the only summer reading program we have.

We have a summer reading program for you! Yes, every single person who loves to read and is 18 or older can enroll in our adult summer reading program. Registration for the adult summer reading program opens at 9 a.m., Tuesday, May 30. You can register and track your books online or you can come in to the library and pick up a paper log. All books must be logged by 5 p.m. July 23.

Oh, and let’s talk about the prizes! We love to give away prizes! Each week, anyone who has read at least 4 books will be entered in a drawing for a library tote loaded with books and swag. Tuesday, July 25, we’ll draw three names to win grand prizes — a Kindle Fire HD and $50 Amazon gift card — from all participants who have logged at least four books . All prize winners will be drawn at random. 

The theme for all our summer reading programs is the same this year: Build a Better World. So help us build a better world this summer by participating in our adult summer reading program. And tell us in the comments below how reading helps build a better world for you!

Book Review: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession

I have loved history since my 8th grade year when I had a teacher that made it fun and interesting.  She was always excited about what she was teaching and it made me want to know more.  I started reading about 90% historical fiction after this point.  I had to learn about places and people while I was enjoying the story.

During my freshman year of college, as a history major, I finally bought a copy of a book I had had my eye on for several years.  The book was The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.  I was enthralled!  Gregory’s writing was stunning and the characters were brought to life before my eyes.  It centers around the younger sister of Anne Boleyn, Mary, who becomes the mistress of Henry VIII.  Even though the story is centered around Mary it was Anne who fascinated me.

Anne Boleyn was the infamous second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I.  She has been described in many ways from temptress, witch, whore, martyr and pawn.  Her beliefs and stubbornness to stand up for them made her the target for many.  Changes came to England during the years of her courtship and marriage to Henry that reshaped the world.  She was executed in the Tower of London on May 19, 1536 on the charges of treason, witchcraft and adultery.

There are differing opinions about this woman who is still very unknown to historians even today.  Little is known but many books have been written about her.  One of the latest is by Alison Weir as part of her Six Tudor Queens series.  As soon as I could get my hands on this book I was ready to read it!

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir

First Line: Her skin was rather sallow, Anne thought as she studied herself in the silver mirror, and she had too many moles, but at least her face was a fashionable oval.

Summary: Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, spent her early years in the courts of Burgundy and France.  She learned from duchesses and queens on how to be a lady but it is a king that truly changes her life.  When the King Henry VIII notices her and wants her to be his mistress Anne decides that she is not going to be used like other women of her time.  She tries to discourage the king but to no avail.  But when Henry proposes marriage to her, even though he is already married, she sets her sights on the ultimate power.  After years of legal and religious battles she finally is crowned queen but it turns out to not be all that was promised.

Highlights: The descriptions are very detailed.  I could feel the frustration with the Great Matter as much as Anne and Henry.  Anne is a smart and passionate woman who knows what she wants and is willing to do whatever she can to achieve it.  There is so much in this novel about a woman that very little is known.  The author takes you all the way back to Anne’s childhood which most books do not do.

Lowlights: I have read many books about Anne Boleyn.  And a book that is written by a historian like Alison Weir, I was expecting more.  There were things that I did not agree with in her descriptions of Anne such as the sixth finger.  Plus she makes Anne seem more like a child at times when she was a powerful woman with strong beliefs.

FYI: Some of this is written for a more dramatic and fictional account than most historians have been able to back up.  Great for a fun and interesting book about the life of Anne Boleyn, the unfortunate second wife of Henry VIII.

If you are ever lucky enough to visit the Tower of London, visit her grave in the chapel and the memorial to Anne Boleyn (and many others who lost their lives inside this fortress).  It has been 481 years since that fateful day on Tower Green and people still remember this fascinating woman.

Late May new release titles

It’s nearly summer and that (hopefully) means more reading time, right? What kinds of books do you like to read in summer? Are you a person who loves those easy “beach reads”? Or is summer your opportunity to get your teeth into something meaty while lounging in the backyard or by the pool? Share some of your favorite summertime reads in the comments!

Meanwhile, here are some brand-new books to look forward to, that will be out in the latter half of this month. Click on any of the titles to be taken to the catalog where you can see if the book is on the shelf or you can put it on hold.

“A Million Junes” by Emily Henry is scheduled to be released May 16.

May 16: A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Reading the summary of this book on Goodreads, I see the link to Romeo & Juliet, but I also see some Hatfields and McCoys here. The setting is Five Fingers, Michigan, and the century-old feud between the Angerts and the O’Donnells is as strong as ever. Jack “June” O’Donnell, 18, like the O’Donnells before her has nothing to do with any of the Angert family — until Saul Angert, son of June’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three years away. Suddenly, June finds she doesn’t hate Saul. The chain reaction sparked by Saul’s arrival threatens to reveal truths that have been hidden about the families’ feud for 100 years.

May 16: Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer
Are you looking for a good beach read for your Memorial Day weekend? This book from the author dubbed the queen of beach reads might be a great choice. Darcy Cotterill lives on Nantucket and is surprised when she finds out that her ex-husband is living next door with his wife and step-daughter for the summer. In addition, she’s trying to navigate the ups and downs of her own romantic relationship with a local carpenter.

May 18: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir
Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory, this novel tells the story of the second of Henry’s six wives. Anne is young and at the English court fresh from France. You know how she died. Now read how she lived.

The sequel to “Lady Midnight” by Cassandra Clare, “Lord of Shadows” continues the story of Emma, Julian and Mark.

May 23: Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare
Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs is fighting her feelings for her parabatai, Julian, and begins dating his brother Mark. Mark has just returned from spending five years trapped in Faerie and no one is sure whether he will ever be able to be a shadowhunter again. Emma, Julian and Mark are caught between the unsettled Faerie courts and the Clave.

May 23: The Long Drop by Denise Mina
Do you have a hard time finding books that aren’t part of a series? I do. Here’s a standalone psychological thriller about a “trial-of-the-century” in 1950’s Glasgow. A string of murders has occurred and Peter Manuel is found guilty of the crimes, but how did he end up there?

First in a new Gothic horror series from Madeleine Roux, “House of Furies” is scheduled to be released May 30.

May 30: House of Furies by Madeleine Roux
First in a new Gothic horror series by Roux. Finding herself happily out of the harsh school she’s been attending, 17-year-old Louisa finds employment as a maid at Coldthistle House, a boarding house.  While she’s happy for the change, she quickly realizes that something isn’t quite right. This boarding house is a house of judgment, not rest, as Mr. Morningside and his staff are expected to execute their own justice. Louisa begins to fear for one kind young resident, but how can she know who to trust?

Book Review: The Hollywood Daughter

The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott

First Line: Dropped something.

Summary: Jesse is the daughter of a Hollywood publicist in the 1940s. She attends a prestigious school where she gets to see the biggest star of the time, Ingrid Bergman. As she watches the stunning young actress in real life and on screen she comes to idolize her. After her mother believes that Jesse is becoming too involved with the Hollywood lifestyle her parents decide to send her to a Catholic school. She believes that her life has come to an end but it really is only the beginning. She learns more about herself and the world around her.

Highlights: Ingrid! The description of her is beautiful. I immediately had to place her movies on hold to see more of her work. The author does a wonderful job of making you feel the injustice that was thrown at Ingrid after her scandalous affair that ostracized her from her American fans. I was so mad at the public, the media and the Catholic Church but at the time it was normal.

Lowlights: There were little pieces in the story that seemed to be thrown in as fillers but didn’t seem to have much relevance to the overall story. Her friend seemed like a side story. She seemed like she should be more important but it was more in the background.

FYI: Place The Bells of St. Mary’s on hold! Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman are stunning.

Book Review: The Edge of Lost

Note: This review is from Linda, a member of the library staff.

“The Edge of Lost” by Kristina McMorris

First line: Alcatraz Island, October 1937 Fog encircled the island, a strangling grip, as search efforts mounted.

Staff member Linda sits in the break room and reads “The Edge of Lost.”

Summary: Shanley Keagen is a 10-year-old orphan in Ireland in the 1920’s. He lives with his drunken and abusive uncle in a run-down slum in Dublin. His uncle takes advantage of Shanley’s skills, pushing him into performing in low-class pubs and then taking what small wages Shanley earns.

Shanley convinces his uncle to migrate to America where they can make more money from Shanley’s entertaining. They make their way to America, but his uncle dies during the voyage. Alone at only 12, Shanley must figure out how to get through Ellis Island with no family contacts in his new country. He befriends a young Italian boy, Nick Capello, whose family has been visiting Italy and are on their way home to the U.S. The boys convince Nick’s parents to accept Shanley as their long deceased son Tommy, so Shanley now has a new family. So begins his new life in America as Tommy Capello.

The book details Tommy’s life growing up in an Italian family, his relationships with his siblings and the Italian mob during the 1930’s. After trying to save his brother Nick in a supposed bank robbery, Tommy is sent to Leavenworth Penitentiary.

Linda recommends “The Edge of Lost” to patrons who like historic fiction, or fiction with unexpected plot twists.

While there, he once again begins entertaining, this time his fellow inmates, with his jokes, stories and voice imitations. Tommy is then transferred to Alcatraz to serve the remaining time on his 20-year sentence. While there he becomes the model prisoner and eventually finds a way to escape with help from some unusual contacts.

Linda’s thoughts: I chose this book because of a post on Pinterest I saw that someone had shared. I found the very beginning of the book to be somewhat slow, but after about 25 pages I became interested in the plot. The story has a twist I never expected and it was difficult to stop reading! I highly recommend this book with its action, surprise situations, and plot-twisting end.

Book Review: Girl in Disguise

Girl in Disguise by Greer MacAllister

 

First Line: Like any Chicago tavern in deep summer, Joe Mulligan’s stank.

Summary: Kate Warne is a widow looking for her place in the world. She doesn’t fit into the conventional occupations of women during the 1850s in Chicago but when she walks into the Pinkerton Detective Agency she finds her calling. Based on the real-life first female detective in the US. Kate goes undercover to find thieves and murderers. No one believes a woman can do this job but she proves them wrong.

Highlights: I love the history. I have never heard about Kate Warne but she sounds fascinating even though we don’t know much about her. I loved Greer Macallister’s first book and was excited to read this one too! She writes a gripping story with amazing leading characters. I liked that the cases were all short so that the story doesn’t drag on and get slow.

Lowlights: I felt like the end was a little flat. I wanted a little more but it needed to be summed up and it did that. But still a great book!

FYI: Some violence. Great for lovers of historical fiction and books about strong women who defy the times.

Book Review: Glitter

Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

First Line: I rush through the catacombs, my face shrouded beneath the brim of a cap, skimming by the empty eyes of ancient skulls.

Summary: Danica lives in Versailles; the palace built by Louis XIV, wearing gowns and waited on by servants. The twist is the story takes place in the near future. As Danica tries to escape life at the palace and an engagement to the King of Versailles-Sonoma she has to go to drastic measures to buy her freedom. Glitter, a new drug, is going to be the key. Selling it to the other inhabitants of the palace seems harmless enough until she starts seeing the consequences of her actions on her friends and family.

Highlights: The cover is beautiful. This is what drew me to the book initially but I was shocked by how much I liked this book. The story is consuming. I read this in a few days because I had to know if Danica was going to be able to escape. It felt like a mix of historical fiction and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Lowlights: The reviews on Goodreads are not very favorable but I think if you give this book a chance and remember it is YA you will enjoy it. The plot is a little farfetched but I think that is the appeal.

FYI: Drug use and a little sexual content.

Book Clubs at the library

Did you know that we have three book clubs at the library? Each of the book clubs has its own focus, and each one works just a little differently from the others. However, all adults are welcome at every book club. Here’s a little information about each book club, including when they meet.

Joyful Page Turners

This was the first book club at the library, and started almost 17 years ago.

“A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles was a recent selection for Joyful Page Turners.

It was originally planned to be a 4-month summer program, meeting in May, June, July and August of 2000. The members of the club enjoyed it so much that they decided to continue and are still meeting today. The club doesn’t limit itself to any specific genre of literature, having read non-fiction, children’s literature and more along with its more usual fare of general adult fiction. Linda Voth manages this book club.

Joyful Page Turners meets at 6:45 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month, except in November, when it meets on the third Thursday. The club does take June, July and December off. The members of the book club take turns leading the discussions, and the member who is leading that month also chooses the book that will be read and discussed. They try to have the year’s titles chosen by February or March.

Bemused Bibliophiles

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead was recently read by Bemused Bibliophiles. It has garnered a lot of recognition recently.

Bemused Bibliophiles is the one book club that meets during the day at the library. Dawn Best, adult programming coordinator, leads this book group. Reading choices for this group tend to literary fiction, especially the hot and popular titles that generate a lot of buzz in the literary community.

Bemused Bibliophiles meets at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month. Titles for this book club are chosen 4 months at a time, and discussions are lead by Dawn.

Hauntingly Good Reads
Hauntingly Good Reads is for anyone who likes a touch of the paranormal, supernatural or just a little twist of the unusual in their reading. You may run across zombies, or witches, or vampires in the books for this book club, or there may just be hints that something is not quite what you might expect it to be.

“Stoker’s Manuscript” by Royce Prouty was enjoyed by the members of Hauntingly Good Reads.

Hauntingly Good Reads meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. This book club is the most loosely structured of the book clubs with the selections coming from suggestions of the members of the club, and discussions are lively and organic.

If you are interested in attending any of the book clubs at the library, you can learn what books they’re reading in several ways: check the online events calendar at our website, pick up the monthly brochure for adult programming, or follow our events on Facebook. You can also ask at the front desk. We hope to see you soon!