We had a wonderful Book Lovers Evening at Roxborough where we chatted about our favorite recent reads. Here are the staff recommendations:
The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
Co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Annie Barrows once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. Her new novel brings to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy’s funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor-there’s not much else to do in a dying small town that’s almost beyond repair. You certainly wouldn’t open a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in charge. You’d need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy’s house is full of them), and customers. The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel’s own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thought. A heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.
The Promise by Robert Crais
Loyalty, commitment, and the fight for justice have always driven Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. If they make a promise, they keep it. Even if it could get them killed. When Elvis Cole is secretly hired to find a grief-stricken mother, he’s led to an ordinary house on a rainy night in Echo Park. Only the house isn’t ordinary, and the people hiding inside are a desperate fugitive and a murderous criminal with his own dangerous secrets.
Last Chance Llama Ranch by Hilary Fields
From the author of Bliss comes a heartwarming tale of friendship, romance, self-discovery… and llama drama. When a close encounter with an eighty foot spruce steals Merry Manning’s dreams of Olympic gold, the former ski champ finds herself falling into a career she never expected — the life of a travel writer. Picturing glamorous trips to exotic places, Merry is speechless when her boss assigns her to the blog, “Don’t Do What I Did,” and sends her to a middle-of-nowhere llama ranch with instructions to “fall on her fanny” as often as possible. Soon she’s eyeball-deep in alpacas, llamas, goats, and all the mess that comes with them. But when the Last Chance Llama Ranch — and a certain gruff cowboy– start to grow on her, Merry finds that each life might actually be just what she’s been missing. You know what they say: when life gives you llamas…
The Hollow Ground by Natalie Harnett
Inspired by real-life events in Centralia and Carbondale, where devastating coal mine fires irrevocably changed the lives of residents, The Hollow Ground is an extraordinary debut with an atmospheric, voice-driven narrative and an indelible sense of place. Lovers of literary fiction will find in Harnett’s young, determined protagonist a character as heartbreakingly captivating as any in contemporary literature.
The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Ruth Wariner was the thirty-ninth of her father’s forty-two children. Growing up on a farm in rural Mexico, where authorities turn a blind eye to the practices of her community, Ruth lives in a ramshackle house without indoor plumbing or electricity. In need of government assistance and supplemental income, Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where Ruth’s mother collects welfare. Ruth comes to love the time she spends in the States, realizing that perhaps the community into which she was born is not the right one for her. Recounted from the innocent and hopeful perspective of a child, The Sound of Gravel is the remarkable memoir of one girl’s fight for peace and love.
A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin
With the grit of Raymond Carver, the humor of Grace Paley, and a blend of wit and melancholy all her own, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday, uncovering moments of grace in the Laundromats and halfway houses of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and addicts. I listened to this book and there is an introduction that discusses Lucia’s life and stories. I found that it was giving too much of her stories away so I finally skipped it and just started listening to the stories themselves. I went back after and looked at prologue and introduction. She spent time in many places including Boulder, Colorado, where she taught at the University of Colorado. She died in 2004. This book is a look at so many lives and situations, surprising, blunt, tragic, funny and sad. It’s one I’m glad I read and I will probably re-read.
The Luckiest Alive by Jessica Knoll
Her perfect life is a perfect lie. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret. There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything. With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, The Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.
Come see the author at Douglas County Libraries in Highlands Ranch, James H. LaRue on Saturday, April 23rd at 6:30pm. Books will be sold at the event and book signing to follow presentation. Register for the event here.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
When Helen MacDonald’s father died suddenly, she fell apart. That’s probably an understatement. She isolated herself from her life in Cambridge, England, and her family and friends. As a poet, and naturalist, Helen wasn’t a stranger to the world of falconry. She decided to adopt one of the most vicious predators of the raptor world, a goshawk she named Mabel. She and Mabel were inseparable from day one whether it was watching TV, or hunting afield. H Is for Hawk is a genre-defying debut from one of our most unique and transcendent voices.
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Moss
In a remote village near the English coast, residents gather in a misty churchyard. More than a decade into the twentieth century, superstition still holds sway: It is St. Mark’s Eve, the night when the shimmering ghosts of those fated to die in the coming year are said to materialize and amble through the church doors. Alone in the crowd is Constantia Gifford, the taxidermist’s daughter. Twenty-two and unmarried, she lives with her father on the fringes of town, in a decaying mansion cluttered with the remains of his once world-famous museum of taxidermy. As the last peal of the midnight bell fades to silence, a woman is found dead—a stranger Connie noticed near the church. Who is the victim, and why has her death affected Connie so deeply? Why is she watched by a mysterious figure who has suddenly appeared on the marsh nearby? The answers are tied to a dark secret that lies at the heart of Blackthorn House, hidden among the bell jars of her father’s workshop—a mystery that draws Connie closer to danger . . . closer to madness . . . closer to the startling truth.
The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton
I can’t say enough good things about The Secret Wisdom of the Earth. Scotton should be on everyone’s reading list. Timely and timeless, this is a dramatic and deeply moving novel about an act of violence in a small, Southern town and the repercussions that will forever change a young man’s view of human cruelty and compassion. After seeing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, fourteen-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin’s grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival. One June day, an old book arrives on Simon’s doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of “mermaids” in Simon’s family have drowned–always on July 24, which is only weeks away. Could there be a curse on Simon’s family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he get to the heart of the mystery in time to save Enola? I loved this book; it is magical and quirky. The “mermaids” are mercurial creatures and you can see why men fall under their spell. It’s a look into the traveling shows long ago and how times have, and have not, changed.