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LibraryReads for September. I apologize about this month’s map.

August 22, 2016 by Reader's Connection

I was trying to combine a back-to-school theme with the usual nod to the states who sent in the month’s reviews.

But it’s really too much. Makes me want to chew on erasers.

Just scroll down and read about these ten new books.

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Leave Me


Aren’t there days when you just want to leave it all behind? After a life threatening event, that’s exactly what Maribeth Klein does. Maribeth, wife, mom of 4-year old twins, and editor of a glossy magazine is told to rest. Sure! The choice she makes is not the one for most, but following Maribeth on this journey is compelling nonetheless. Fast paced narrative and terrific writing make this one hard to put down. Recommended! — Carol Ann Tack, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY




The Bookshop on the Corner
by Jenny Colgan

 The Bookshop on the Corner


Despite losing her job as a librarian who liked to put the right book into a patron’s hands, Nina continues her mission by moving to rural Scotland, purchasing a van, converting it into a bookmobile,and taking to the road. The plot revolves around the romance of the road, the romance of books and reading, and just plain old romance. Another marvelous book by Colgan! A gem of a book! — Virginia Holsten, Vinton Public Library, Vinton, IA





Commonwealth by Ann Patchett


The Cousins and the Keatings are two California families forever intertwined and permanently shattered by infidelity. Bert Cousins leaves his wife for Beverly Keating, leaving her to raise four children on her own. Beverly, with two children of her own, leaves her husband for Bert. The six children involved are forced to forge a childhood bond based on the combined disappointment in their parents. As adults, they find their families’ stories revealed in a way they couldn’t possibly expect. Patchett has written a family drama that perfectly captures both the absurdity and the heartbreak of domestic life. — Michael Colford, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA




The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

The Tea Planter’s Wife


When Gwendolyn Hooper comes to Ceylon as a young bride, she has no idea that she’s entering a region on the cusp of political upheaval or that she’s living with a widower and his secret-filled past. The Tea Planter’s Wife has all of the elements that I’m looking for in historical fiction: compelling characters, an evocative setting, a leisurely pace, and a plot that unfolds like the petals of a flower, or, in this case, the tea plant. — Amy Lapointe, Amherst Town Library, Amherst, NH






Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Daisy in Chains


Another great book from Bolton! Convicted serial killer Hamish Wolfe has proclaimed his innocence from the beginning and has solicited the help of lawyer Maggie Rose who is known for her ability to get convictions overturned. The story unfolds in alternating chapters from the past to the present and keeps readers on the edge of their seats with a twist you won’t see coming! Highly recommended! — Karen Zeibak, Wilton Library Association, Wilton, CT





Darktown by Thomas Mullen


In Atlanta in the late 1940s, the integration of black police officers into the force is proving to be challenging. White civilians don’t respect their authority, and black civilians don’t trust that they can protect them. Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith are men with heavy burdens on their shoulders. Every move they make is examined. When the body of a young black woman is found, they will put everything on the line to gain justice for a woman who turns into a symbol of all that is wrong with their town. Despite its historical setting, so many elements of this tale seem timely, and readers will have much to think about after turning the last page. — Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public Library, South Huntington, NY



The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

The Masked City

A mysterious new Fae couple is causing Irene and crew major grief in this second installment of the Invisible Library series. After getting a book, Irene and Kai get attacked by a group of werewolves. Irene plans to go to the Library, turn in the book, and find information on the newcomers while Kai will go to Vale’s house. Kai is attacked and taken away. To get to the chaos filled world where Kai is held, Irene has to get help from Silver and fight to not be overrun by chaos and the Fae. I like this series because Irene is a smart, tough, stubborn, and loyal librarian who has survived many crazy, dangerous, and interesting worlds and people. — Julie Horton, Greenwood County Library, Greenwood, SC



Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d: A Flavia DeLuce Novel by Alan Bradley

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d: A Flavia DeLuce Novel

Flavia deLuce has returned from Canada to find her father in the hospital and her sisters distant. When she is sent to deliver a message for the vicar’s wife, she steps into another mystery – one she is determined to solve, preferably before Inspector Hewitt can do the same. Flavia is once again a fun, science-loving protagonist. Flavia arrives at a turning point in her life and how she handles what happens next will tell much about the path that she will take into adulthood.This series entry ends on a note that begs for the next story. — Chris Andersen, Stow Munroe Falls Public Library, Stow, OH



Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America

Phillips digs into the history of a series of events in his hometown in Georgia. After a series of crimes were blamed on some of the area’s young black men, the citizens of the town saw fit to run off the entire African American population. Phillips researches the crimes and the mob mentality that followed, and shows how certain citizens of Forsyth County continued to intimidate and assault African Americans who wandered across their border for almost eighty years.This is the type of history that is far too important ever to forget. — Amy Hall, Jefferson County Public Library, Wheat Ridge, CO



The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

The Secrets of Wishtide

A charming mystery introduces Laetitia Rodd, a widow who moonlights as a sleuth in 1850s London. She’s tapped to help uncover the mysterious past of a prospective bride, but the more Laetitia digs, the more certain individuals want to keep their secrets buried. And when those secrets turn deadly, Laetitia may be in danger herself. Saunders nails the raucous world of Victorian London, capturing the Dickens-like characters from the lowest of society to the lofty ranks of the wealthy. A fine read for those who love vivid settings and memorable characters. — Katie Hanson, Madison Public Library, Madison, WI


The Widow: a recommendation

August 18, 2016 by Reader's Connection

The Widow by Fiona Barton

The WidowReally…. how could a wife be so clueless, trusting, gullible? This gullible wife tries to comprehend her husband’s secret life after he dies.

There is the missing child, the shocking files on his computer and what the police investigators are inferring.

Fiona Barton’s journalism background prepared her to write this captivating novel. Try to put it down!

The Widow is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.

–Sharon, recommended via Share a Review


Go for Gold!

August 15, 2016 by Reader's Connection

“The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” – Pierre de Coubertin

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are in full swing, and now is the perfect time to go for the gold and check out one of these Olympic-inspired films!

Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis StoryBreaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story

The true story of famed diver Greg Louganis who wins four Olympic gold medals and later learns that he is HIV-positive.



TheThe Bronze

In the years since her epic third place Olympic victory, Hope hasn’t done a whole lot with her life. Now she must coach Amherst’s newest gymnastics prodigy Maggie in order to receive a sizeable financial inheritance.



Chariots of FireChariots of Fire

Story of two English runners that were both driven by different means to win the Olympics.



Cool RunningsCool Runnings

A coach, shamed from bobsledding, returns to Calgary with a rag-tag group of Jamaicans to compete for the gold medal.



The Cutting EdgeThe Cutting Edge

A spoiled figure skater teams up with a rude ex-hockey star to win the gold in the Olympics.



Eddie the EagleEddie the Eagle

Inspired by true events, it is a feel-good story about an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper. With the help of a charismatic coach, he takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.



The First Olympics: Athens 1896The First Olympics: Athens 1896

A look at the creation of the American team for the Olympics in 1896, and of their journey to Athens, where the games were being held.



The First Olympics: Blood, Honor and GloryThe First Olympics: Blood, Honor and Glory>

Return to ancient Greece and witness the Bacchanalian excess and raw competition of The First Olympics. While the gods looked down, brutal contests of boxing, wrestling, chariot racing, and an early from of no-holds-barred fighting called Pankration.




The dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multimillionaire and two champion wrestlers.



The Gabby Douglas StoryThe Gabby Douglas Story

Moving away from her hometown and family in 2010 to pursue training with a world-renowned Olympic trainer, Gabby Douglas was selected to compete with the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics. There, Douglas became the first African American to win gold in the individual all-around event.



It Happened in AthensIt Happened in Athens

In 1896, a Greek actress hungry for publicity publicly announces that she will marry the winner of the local marathon. She believes her true love is a shoo-in, but when a poor shepherd wins the race, the actress is forced to make good on her promise.



Jesse OwensJesse Owens

Despite Jesse Owens’s remarkable victories in the face of Nazi racism at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the athlete struggled to find a place for himself in a United States that was still wrestling to overcome its own deeply entrenched bias.



Jim Thorpe, All AmericanJim Thorpe, All American

The life story of Thorpe, a Native American athlete who gained international recognition for his excellence in many different sports.




Based on the true story of the most famous team in the history of American sports: the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Follow from the team’s selection process to the ultimate victory over Finland for the gold.




An explosive suspense thriller set in the aftermath of the heinous murders of 11 athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Inspired by true events, this highly charged film tracks a team of assassins who mount a secret war of revenge against the murderers.




A powerful documentary that stands the test of time to show the extreme gift of one of history’s best female directors. A woman under the Nazi regime in Germany, who became one of Adolf Hitler’s most prized talents, Leni Riefenstahl created powerfully moving and beautifully visual films showcasing the 1936 Olympics which were held in Berlin, Germany during the Nazi regime.



The Other Dream TeamThe Other Dream Team

After leading the USSR to a gold medal and victory over the USA at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Sarunas Marciulionis and Arvydas Sabonis were poster boys for the Soviet sports machine. Four years later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, they emerged as symbols of democracy.



Peaceful WarriorPeaceful Warrior

A talented college gymnast with Olympic dreams is changed when he meets a mysterious stranger named Socrates who holds the power to tap into new worlds of strength and understanding.



Personal BestPersonal Best
Chris Cahill, a promising hurdler, finds needed emotional and athletic seasoning with a caring mentor Tory. After the two fall in love, their relationship is threatened as both vie for a spot on the U. S. Olympic team.




The film features the true-life story of legendary track star Steve Prefontaine, the exciting and sometimes controversial “James Dean of Track.”




Jesse Owens’ quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history launches him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy.



The Real OlympicsThe Real Olympics

To mark the Olympics’ 2004 return to its birthplace of Athens, this documentary series tells the ‘real’ story of the original games. It combines lavish reconstruction of the ancient Greek games with dramatic highlights from the modern Olympics.




Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.



Visions of EightVisions of Eight

A Documentary about the 1972 Munich Olympics from eight of the world’s most accomplished directors capture what the naked eye cannot see. All the pain – the joy – the triumph – and especially the struggle to reach the pinnacle in mankind’s most exacting competition.



Walk Don’t RunWalk Don’t Run

An English industrialist and a member of the U.S. Olympic team wind up sharing an apartment with a beautiful woman.



Without LimitsWithout Limits

A fictionalized account of Steve Prefontaine, a distance runner, who took the sport into a new era.



Discover all of these titles and more at the Indianapolis Public Library!

Selector Jessica Lawrence


Oprah’s Best Picks

August 11, 2016 by Reader's Connection

From Selector Emily Chandler: Oprah has recently announced Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad as her latest book club pick. Check it out, as well as some of her other best picks throughout the years!

Book descriptions are provided by the publishers.


Allende, Isabel   Daughter of Fortune

Daughter of Fortune

An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, vivacious young Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Entering a rough-and-tumble world of new arrivals driven mad by gold fever, Eliza moves in a society of single men and prostitutes with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chi’en. California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence for the young Chilean, and her search for her elusive lover gradually turns into another kind of journey. By the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is.



Dickens, Charles   A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two CitiesAfter eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the aging Dr Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil lanes of London, they are all drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror and soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.




Eugenides, Jeffrey   Middlesex

Middlesex“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.”
So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling,Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.
Middlesex is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.



Kidd, Sue Monk   The Invention of Wings

The Invention of WingsThe story follows Hetty “Handful” Grimke, a Charleston slave, and Sarah, the daughter of the wealthy Grimke family. The novel begins on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership over Handful, who is to be her handmaid. “The Invention of Wings” follows the next thirty-five years of their lives. Inspired in part by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke (a feminist, suffragist and, importantly, an abolitionist), Kidd allows herself to go beyond the record to flesh out the inner lives of all the characters, both real and imagined.




Kingsolver, Barbara The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.




García Márquez, Gabriel Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera
In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs–yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.





Morrison, Toni Paradise

The Nobel Prize-winning author of The Bluest Eye captures the dreams, memories, conflicts, and complex interior lives of the citizens of a small, all-black town as four young women are brutally attacked in a convent near the town during the 1970s, in a novel that blends past, present, and future.







Whitehead, Colson The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

This book can be summed up with one question:
Oprah has recently announced a new pick for her book club. The new addition, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, provides a searing look at the antebellum South and its brutal outlook towards slavery. Reimagining the Underground Railroad in the literal sense with underground tracks and trains, the story follows Cora as she flees her sadistic master and heads north. Despite help from other escaped slaves and station masters, Cora’s journey is marked with peril and tragedy both for herself and those who help her. In the end, will she make it to freedom or get caught and sent back to an almost certain death?



Wiesel, Elie Night


Presents a true account of the author’s experiences as a Jewish boy in a Nazi concentration camp.- Publisher Description











Wroblewski, David The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar’s lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar’s paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles’ once peaceful home. When Edgar’s father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm – and into Edgar’s mother’s affections.
Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father’s death, but his plan backfires – spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father’s murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward.



The return of the Moonstone

August 8, 2016 by Reader's Connection

The MoonstoneWhen I first read The Moonstone a few decades back, it was already a hundred years old. Author Wilkie Collins had it serialized in a magazine in 1868, and it appeared in its “definitive edition” in 1871.

An enormous diamond is stolen from the statue of an Indian god. It winds up in England, bequeathed to Lady Rachel Verinder; but then it gets stolen again. With its many narrators, its strong female characters, its evocation of London and of the sometimes perilous English countryside, The Moonstone is generally credited with being one of the earliest and greatest detective novels.

One of the items on this year’s reading challenge is: “Re-read a book you enjoyed way back when. See if your reaction to it changes.”

I remember finishing The Moonstone (in 1972?) and walking in an ecstatic state to my evening of dishwashing at The Big Red Huddle–a restaurant which has long since disappeared from the east side of Bloomington. Was I ecstatic in 2016, when I set the book down?

Well, I was older, I was reading a couple of other books at the same time, and I already knew the ending–the ending, in fact, was just about the only thing I remembered from back then; so I wasn’t transported in quite the same way. But it’s a wonderful novel, with young love, con men, opium, quicksand, sympathy (uncharacteristic for writers of the time) for the visitors from India who have their own religious reasons for wanting the Moonstone back, and, and . . . there’s bibliomancy.

Bibliomancy is a method of divination. You take a book (often the Bible, but it can be another book), let it fall open, and whatever you see on that random page should guide your behavior or your thinking for that day.

crusoeHouse Steward Gabriel Betteredge, who narrates an opening chunk of The Moonstone, never uses the word bibliomancy–he would think that it was pretentious and reeked of superstition–but he practices bibliomancy all the time with his favorite book, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.


poeticI’m not recommending that you practice bibliomancy. Just that you pursue the Moonstone. The Modern Library edition–which is linked to above–features an introduction by Carolyn G. Heilbrun, who wrote mysteries under the name Amanda Cross. The Moonstone is also available as an eBook (we have other eBook versions besides the one to which I’m linking) and an eAudiobook, and is on order as an audiobook on CD.