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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Love It, Like It, Leave It! February New Releases

Staff Reviews of New Releases

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (publication date: February 7)


Goodreads Description:

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Katherine's Review:

(4 out of 5 stars) Overall this was very enjoyable book to read and Min Jin Lee has done a superb job of creating characters that I cared about. Because this book is multi-generational, readers get a nice sense of time and can see how the characters change and develop. I was little frustrated by the in-depth introduction of peripheral characters who are, after the introduction, not really mentioned again. My knowledge of the the history between Japan and Korea was negligible prior to reading this so I was pleased to find out more about the relationship between the two countries and what life could be like for Koreans living in Japan.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (publication date: February 7)


Goodreads Description:

You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we'd have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren's 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn't necessary.
Except Tom just can't seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that's before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.


Katherine's Review:

(2 out of 5 stars) Although this book didn't work for me, I think there are a lot of people that will like it. I personally found the narrator (and main character) annoying and since his voice is all that we got in the book I had difficulty being excited to read it. The first half of the book was very slow for me and I had a hard time getting through it. Luckily, the second half picked up and I was able to read it more easily. I can definitely see this one being made into a movie - it was written in a way that I think would translate easily (and well) to the screen.

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (publication date: February 7)


Goodreads Description:

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

Jill's Review:

(3 out of 5 stars) I will still read anything Claire Fuller writes, but it will be based on my appreciation for Our Endless Numbered Days. I found Swimming Lessons predictable, and the dialogue & characters were not convincing. It could also be that I have academic womanizer fatigue syndrome!

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman (publication date: February 14)


Goodreads Description:

At thirty-two, Faith Frankel has returned to her claustro-suburban hometown, where she writes institutional thank-you notes for her alma mater. It's a peaceful life, really, and surely with her recent purchase of a sweet bungalow on Turpentine Lane her life is finally on track. Never mind that her fiancĂ© is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, too busy to return her texts (but not too busy to post photos of himself with a different woman in every state.) And never mind her witless boss, or a mother who lives too close, or a philandering father who thinks he's Chagall. When she finds some mysterious artifacts in the attic of her new home, she wonders whether anything in her life is as it seems. What good fortune, then, that Faith has found a friend in affable, collegial Nick Franconi, officemate par excellence . . . 



Katherine's Review:

(3 out of 5 stars) Although I do not normally read romantic comedies, I enjoyed reading this one. It is light-hearted and rather predictable but I think it was well done for the genre.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (publication date: February 14)


Goodreads Description:

On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body.

Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel - in its form and voice - completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.




Jill's Review:

(5 out of 5 stars) I have never read anything like this before, and I loved it!

The entire story takes place the night that Lincoln's son Willie is laid to rest. The narrators are some very entertaining ghosts (sounds odd but it works so well) and the story is supplemented with relevant & interesting historical snippets. The format is so creative that I'd have to say it is truly a work of art.

I was hesitant to read this at first, because a book about the loss of a child sounds sad and soul crushing. This book, however, is about hope & possibility and how the choices we make shape our lives.

It is an understatement to say that it is beautifully written & moving. I don't want to spoil any of the passages for you by including them here, and my humble thoughts can't do the book justice. You need to experience it for yourself!


Katherine's Review:

(4 out of 5 stars)  Very creative and unusual book! After my initial confusion about the way this book is structured, I enjoyed the mixture of voices that were shared by the ghosts. The ghosts also add humor to the story that otherwise could have been too sad and depressing so I am grateful for their part in the story.  

Gilded Cage by Vic James (publication date: February 14)


Goodreads Description:

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.



Katherine's Review:

(5 out of 5 stars) This book really surprised me - in a good way. The characters are well developed and the story is well written with plenty of twists and turns that kept me very engaged. I really appreciated that this wasn't set up like many teen books (with a love triangle and lots of teen angst). I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

12 Books to Cozy Up with this Winter

Posted by Staff

Winter is the perfect time to grab a book, curl up in a comfy chair with a blanket (and maybe a cat and something warm to drink) and read. Here are some books that we'd recommend for you to cozy up with this winter.

Tirzah - Any books from Adventures of the Northwoods series by Lois Walfrid Johnson.
This is one of my favorite book series that I began reading in middle school. They are full of fun adventures and valuable lessons about family and friendship. The first few books are during the winter/Christmastime in northwest Wisconsin, which I think helps set the mood to make it a great cozy read.

Amanda - Anne of Green Gables is my go to cozy read. At some point during the winter I spend a grey Sunday morning cuddled up in my super soft bed with my super soft cat friend Homer re-reading this heartwarming boisterous classic. Anne’s story is feel good and clean and classic with just enough spit and vinegar so that a jaded old soul like myself doesn’t get turned off by the goody-two-shoes-ness of it all.

After I read the first few books in the series, I usually find it necessary to re-watch the Megan Follows Anne mini-series and movies. It makes for a nice couple of days.

Sally - I am going with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This is the first in a series of sleuth novels featuring Flavia de Luce, an 11yr old amateur detective who has a penchant for Chemistry. She has a delightfully sophisticated vocabulary and an extraordinary sense of humor. It can be read in an afternoon while sitting by the fire with a cat on your lap. Guaranteed to hold your interest and make you smile. 
Katherine - Uprooted by Naomi Novik
This is my favorite type of cozy read. It's a great story that's wonderfully written and has the ability to transport you away from wherever you are into a magical world.  It will make you forget what's going on around you. 

Cary - The 4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie
Many of you Anglophiles are already familiar with Christie’s Miss Marple series. Nothing says “cozy” like an English village murder. I’ve chosen this title because it has all the components that I love: village life, English trains (hence, the title), a country manor house, and enough red herrings to keep you guessing. And, of course, the incomparable insight of elderly Miss Marple. Her looks are deceiving, with fluffy grey hair and a pink wooly shawl, but her mind is still as sharp as ever. What keeps this series beloved are the great characters and the truly creative, twisting mystery, and the satisfying conclusion at the end. Agatha Christie still endures. 

Jake - For me a cozy read is Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block. To me a cozy book is a book that leaves you with a warm and happy feeling and this book certainly does. Not only is the language amazingly inspiring but the messages of love and family within it are always incredibly uplifting. To quote one line from the book "I may not know happily ever after, but I do know happily" 

Kristen - The world of Harry Potter always makes me feel warm and cozy, so I would recommend curling up under a blanket and reading The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which is a collection of short stories by J.K. Rowling that are supposed to be the folktales or fables from the wizarding world. They are all fun, sometimes creepy, reads and will bring you the magical joy of Harry Potter without having to commit to reading 500 pages or more. (Side note: In my opinion, if Warner Bros. is going to continue to bank off of Harry Potter, I wouldn’t be mad if they made film adaptations of some of the Bard’s tales). 

Mary B. - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
It was a very enjoyable read with a better ending than I expected! 

Kelcey - The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel
I can vividly remember my mom reading this book to me as a kid. Its full of rhyming and it reminds me of the classic story of the woman who swallowed a fly. This is one book that I managed to save from my childhood library and I can't wait to share it with my future family! 

Joyce - One of my favorites is the Tea Shop Mystery Series by Laura Childs. The series is set in Charleston, S. C. with lots of descriptive material about the city. It features a tea shop owner who gets involved in local events and mysteries. There is lots of information about the different blends and types of tea - recipes are included. 

Jill - Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
My interpretation of “cozy” is the book I feel is most like an old friend. A book can leave with you with a deep & lifelong impression based on the story alone, but I think the time of your life when you read it for the first time is also a big factor. I love to read, but I typically don’t re-read. I believe this is the only book I have ever read more than twice.

The Angle of Repose begins with a down-on-his-luck retired historian who is writing about his frontier-era grandparents. His grandmother, Susan Ward, leaves her life on the East Coast to move to the western frontier in the 1870s with her new husband. She considered it her exile. Her story is sad yet beautiful, and I will never forget it. The title is also perfect as the Angle of Repose is defined as the angle on the slope face where everything is stable but just on the verge of sliding down the slope.

The downside to the book is that the present day storyline with the historian is a bit tedious at times, but if you keep going – it is very worth it! 

Stephanie - The Baxter Family Christmas by Karen Kingsbury
I recommend this book mostly because it occurs in the winter and I read it over Christmas break. I enjoy reading inspirational fiction with a positive message at the end and this book was a great reminder that even though we all suffer loss, the true spirit of Christmas is about giving.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Meet the Staff: Liz B.

Posted by Staff 

How long have you worked at the library?
I have worked at EPL for six months.

How many items do you have checked out right now?

I currently have five items checked out.

How many items are on your hold list?
Just one…for now!


What book can you read again and again without losing interest? Why do you still read it?
If I have to choose, I would say the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I love the “moral” of the stories, the world building and of course the characters!

What is your favorite book format (book, audio, mp3, e-reader, etc.)? While I do like audiobooks and e-readers, there’s nothing quite like holding an actual book in your hand.

What is your favorite aspect of working at the library?
I love being able to see all the new items that come in. 

What books do you feel guilty for not having read?
I feel pretty guilty for not having read as many of the “Classics” as I probably should have.

Have your reading habits changed since working at the library? If so, how?
Oh, yes! While I have always read a lot, I’ve been able to read much more than I’m usually able to now that I work at EPL.

What is your perfect reading environment? My favorite reading environment would have to be sitting on my couch, curled up with a blanket and my cat.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what single genre of books would you want with you?
Hmm. I would probably have to say either fantasy or historical fiction.

Before you worked here, what was your worst library transgression? I used to be terrible about returning my books on time.