Friday, December 30, 2016

Books By Theme: If You Liked The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

If you liked The Little Paris Bookshop...

Fifty-year-old Jean Perdu is a literary apothecary on his barge bookshop moored on the Seine in Paris. Gifted at prescribing just the right book for what ails his devoted customers, he is unable to cure his own heart, broken two decades earlier when Manon, the married love of his life, vanishes after leaving behind just a letter that Perdu refused to read-that is, until now, with devastating consequences. Walking out on his first tender encounter with a woman in 20 years, Perdu flees south, setting sail with Max, a young, best-selling author with writer's block, as his uninvited guest. Triumph over tragedy is played out in the beauty of France's canals, in the quirky goodness of its people, and in Perdu's determination to seek forgiveness and reclaim joy.

Then Try These Titles:

The Bookshop
by Penelope Fitzgerald

While The Little Paris Bookshop portrays a French bookseller who takes his floating shop on an unexpected journey, and The Bookshop features a woman striving to establish her shop in an uncomprehending English village, both offer understated, pensive storytelling.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer

These romantic novels about the love of literature feature characters that are eager to share their book knowledge for the good of others. While Guernsey is a more serious novel than Paris Bookshop, both are clever and fun to read.
The Uncommon Reader 
by Alan Bennett

In these whimsical, engaging novels, purveyors of books offer wisdom, healing and self-awareness to their clients, through their love of reading. Uncommon Reader is lighter in tone than Little Paris Bookshop, but both are warm, witty stories about books.

Monday, December 26, 2016

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Level the Playing Field

Level the Playing Field 
by Kristina Rutherford
Owl Kids Books (2016)
Middle Grade Nonfiction


Level the Playing Field examines the root of these issues by taking readers through the history of women's pro sports, exploring how far we have come in a relatively short time and exposing what ground is left to gain. The book provides first-person insight through exciting interviews with professional female athletes, including Canadian hockey player Cassie Campbell, American MMA fighter Miesha Tate, and WNBA star Elena Delle Donne. Along the way, author and sports journalist Kristina Rutherford covers important topics like opportunity, female role models, and stereotypes.

Why You'll Love It:

  • In an engaging, conversational tone, Rutherford lays out the state of women in professional sports before Title IX was passed and mandated equal opportunities for women in federally funded schools, how it has changed since, and where women’s sports leagues are headed.
  • Big, full-color action photos of a diverse array of women from a broad range of sports adorn each page, and brief interviews offer tidy glimpses into the life of a professional athlete.
  • Young girls especially will be inspired by this volume and the bright future for women’s sports it portrays.

Who Should Read It:

Great for 5th-8th graders.

What Else You Should Read:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Books by Theme: Endangered Places

Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries...
by Paul Rosolie

Uncharted territory is difficult to find these days, which is part of what makes the Madre de Dios region of the Amazon Basin unique. Nature writer Paul Rosolie first visited the area as an 18-year-old college student volunteering at a biological research station in Peru, where he fell in love with the jungle's primeval splendor. In this "vividly written narrative" (Kirkus Reviews), Rosolie recounts eye-opening adventures, from fostering an orphaned anteater and encountering isolated tribes to contracting MRSA and nearly being devoured by a 25-foot anaconda.

The Reef: A Passionate History 
by Iain McCalman 

More than 1,400 miles in length, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest structure ever built by living organisms (so big it's visible from space). This organic maze of coral reefs, islands, and estuaries is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet, home to thousands of species from microscopic organisms to megafauna. However, like other natural wonders, it's also in danger of being destroyed by human activity. While describing the natural history (extensive) and ecological value (priceless) of the Reef, author Iain McCalman traces the region's influence on European explorers, indigenous peoples, and individuals inspired by its unique natural beauty. Pick up this book and learn more about this amazing place while it still exists.

Fire and Ice: Soot, Solidarity, and Survival on the Roof of the World
by Jonathan Mingle

Welcome to Kumik, India, a 1,000-year-old village in the Himalayas whose inhabitants long ago learned to cultivate the harsh mountain terrain by collecting water from melted snow. However, as the region's glaciers recede, the village declines. The main culprit? Soot. Among the most toxic, yet least studied, of pollutants, soot -- also known as black carbon -- is the byproduct of combustion. And while the Himalayas may seem remote, Kumik's plight parallels that of places all over the world. This sobering account of environmental devastation provides insight into a lesser-studied aspect of climate change.

The Galapagos: A Natural History
by Henry Nicholls

Home to some 4,000 species of flora and fauna (of which 1,600 are endemic), the Galápagos Islands are renowned for their extraordinary biodiversity. Made famous by Charles Darwin, who featured the Galápagos prominently in The Voyage of the Beagle, this archipelago off the coast of Ecuador has also hosted many human visitors, from fishermen and pirates to scientists and ecotourists. In addition to exploring the islands' unique geological features and ecology, this sweeping account examines ongoing threats to the Galápagos caused by human activity, including pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mini Review: Absalom's Daughters

Absalom's Daughters
by Suzanne Feldman
Henry Holt and Co. (2016)
Historical Fiction

What's It All About?

Self-educated and brown-skinned, Cassie works full time in her grandmother’s laundry in rural Mississippi. Illiterate and white, Judith falls for “colored music” and dreams of life as a big city radio star. These teenaged girls are half-sisters. And when they catch wind of their wayward father’s inheritance coming down in Virginia, they hitch their hopes to a road trip together to claim what’s rightly theirs.

Who Should Read It?

It's ideal for fans of historical fiction and those interested in learning more about the grim realities of Jim Crow and the harshness of poverty in the 1950s. There's just a touch of magical realism; very reminiscent of O Brother, Where Art Thou?

What Else Should I Read?
What If I Don't Believe You?

Don't take my word for it! Check out these other reviews...

Bookfan | Coffee Pot Review

Monday, December 19, 2016

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge

Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge: the Dirty Secrets Behind Early American Medicine
by J. Marin Younker
Zest Books, 2016
Middle Grade Narrative Nonfiction


Riots over the medical use of cadavers. Public access to institutions for the insane. And full-blown surgeries without the aid of anesthetics or painkillers. Welcome to the middle ages of American medicine. Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge exposes the extraordinary practices and major players of American medical history, from the Colonial era to the late 1800s. It's hard to believe that today's cutting-edge medicine originated from such crude beginnings, but this book reminds us to be grateful for today's medical care, while also raising the question: what current medical practices will be the horrors of tomorrow?

Why You'll Love It:
  • Readers learn about a variety of early American oddities as well as incremental medical advancements, such as the proliferation of freak shows, the practice of grave robbing for dissection of cadavers, medical quacks, and the emergence of the first hospital and medical school.
  • Numerous sidebars chock-full of fascinating anecdotes coupled with Younker's sarcastic commentary peppered throughout add interest.
  • It's gruesome -- need I say more??
Who Should Read It:

Great for 6th grade and up.

What Else You Should Read:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Books by Theme: If you liked When Breath Becomes Air

If you Liked: 

Then Try: 

Do No Harm
by Henry Marsh

If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft, practised by calm and detached surgeons, this gripping, brutally honest account will make you think again. With astonishing compassion and candour, one of the country's leading neurosurgeons reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets and the moments of black humour that characterize a brain surgeon's life.

by Oliver Sacks

Sacks's powerful look back at his remarkable life was published posthumously. The book chronicles the famous author's thoughts, wishes, regrets, and, above all, feelings of love, happiness, and gratitude even as he faced the cancer that ended his life last year at 82. In essays that originally appeared in print in the New York Times, Sacks relates what makes him happy—simply to be alive on a beautiful day, for example—as well as what causes him sadness as he ages. He considers people he has known and loved and how they approached death and candidly discusses his feelings upon learning that his cancer had metastasized and was terminal. While the book shows no dimming of intellect—indeed, the material offers incisive, poignant observations—the author's usual scientific narrative has in places been supplanted by wistful musings on life and love. The essays also tie up the strands of a career spent investigating and writing, mentioning various projects, mentors, and books along the way.

Being Mortal

byAtul Gawande

In his years as a surgeon, Gawande dedicated himself to doing whatever he could to save patients’ lives. But he also came to understand that there are limits to what medicine can do, and, perhaps, what it should do. In this heartfelt work, Gawande offers hard-won perspective on elder care, end-of-life treatments, and hospice practice. In the end, he argues, what truly matters is using medicine to offer comfort, and helping patients to face death on their own terms, in peace and with dignity. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mini Review: Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler

Growing Up Amish 
by Ira Wagler
Tyndale House (2011)

What's It All About?

Ira Wagler was born in 1961, the ninth of a Canadian Amish couple's eleven children. At seventeen, in the dark of night, he left the religious settlement, but it was only nine years later that he finally left the church for good.

Who Should Read It?

Read it if you don't mind lots of fragmentary writing. Like this. All the time.

There's lots of romanticism to non-Amish about the Amish world, and this book definitely dispels it. Unfortunately, his writing style gets in the way of what could be a really interesting and informative read.

2.5 stars.

What Should I Read Instead?

What If I Don't Believe You?

Don't take my word for it! Check out these other reviews...

Parchment Girl | Baby to Boomer

Monday, December 12, 2016

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Children of Exile

Children of Exile
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster (2016)
Middle grade science fiction


For the past twelve years, adults called “Freds” have raised Rosi, her younger brother Bobo, and the other children of their town, saying it is too dangerous for them to stay with their parents, but now they are all being sent back. Since Rosi is the oldest, all the younger kids are looking to her with questions she doesn’t have the answers to. She’d always trusted the Freds completely, but now she’s not so sure.

Why You'll Love It:
  • It's a perfect next read for kiddos who loved Haddix's Shadow Children series.
  • Haddix's tone and language and the absence of graphic violence make this an ideal selection for younger readers eager for a dystopian novel. 
  • Fast-paced action, plot twists, and cliff-hanger chapter endings will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Who Should Read It:

Great for 4th-8th graders.

What Else You Should Read:

Spread the middle grade love! Visit Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for more great MG literature.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Books by Theme: If You Like Alan Bradley...

Flavia de Luce, Canadian author Alan Bradley's precocious 11-year-old chemistry-loving creation, has charmed mystery readers since her award-winning debut in 2009's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. In a small 1950s English village, clever Flavia tinkers around the chemistry lab in the large country home she shares with her eccentric widower father and quarrelsome older sisters -- and she occasionally solves a murder. While there isn't another sleuth quite like daring, droll Flavia, some of the books below might interest her smitten fans.

Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny

The Armand Gamache and Flavia De Luce mysteries are intelligent, character centered, cozies set in small towns. Although the locales and time periods differ, the conversational tone and feel are similar. They also share casts of eccentric secondary characters as well as unique investigators.

If you prefer your settings English and your young heroines fearless, the precocious young women in these historical mystery series should be your cup of tea. However, while Mary Russell ages throughout that series, 11-year-old Flavia de Luce does not.

Maisie Dobbs novels by Jacqueline Winspear

Despite the age difference between these two sleuths, who investigate during different historical periods, readers who enjoy intelligent characters, well-depicted British settings, and strong, resourceful female protagonists may enjoy both the 11-year-old Flavia and the slightly older Maisie Dobbs.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mini Review: Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons

Fat Girl Walking
by Brittany Gibbons
Dey Street Books (2015)

What's It All About?

Told through a series of larger-than-life snapshots, a hilarious memoir in essays about love, sex, marriage, motherhood, bikinis, and loving your body, no matter what size you are from the acclaimed blogger and body image advocate.

Brittany Gibbons has been a plus size her whole life. But instead of hiding herself in the shadows of thinner women, Brittany became a wildly popular blogger and national spokesmodel--known for stripping on stage at TedX and standing in Times Square in a bikini on national television, and making skinny people everywhere uncomfortable.
Who Should Read It?

If you love brutally honest memoirs that might make you alternately cringe and pee your pants a little, read this one. Great for fans of Jen Lancaster and Laurie Notaro. 4 stars.

What Else Should I Read?
What If I Don't Believe You?

Don't take my word for it! Read these other reviews:

Slashed Beauty | A Daily Pinch | Shower Sweat Repeat

Monday, December 5, 2016

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Dara Palmer's Major Drama

Dara Palmer's Major Drama
by Emma Shevah
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (July 2016)


Dara Palmer dreams of being an actress, but when she does not get a part in the school play she wonders if it is because of her different looks as an adopted girl from Cambodia, so Dara becomes determined not to let prejudice stop her from being in the spotlight.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Dara is a winning, fittingly overdramatic character who starts to grow once she takes a more serious look her life and those in it. 
  • With themes of transracial adoption, racism, identity, friendship, and sibling rivalry (not to mention a hyperactively decorated page design), there's a lot going on here, but Shevah's novel raises interesting questions without attempting to neatly answer them all.
  • Crawford-White's charming doodle illustrations along the margins reflects Dara's inner monologues throughout the book.
Who Should Read It:

Great for 3rd-6th graders...and here's the discussion guide.

What Else You Should Read:

P.S. I've discovered a great place to find more middle grade books! Check out Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for more suggestions.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

Books By Theme: If you like Ann Patchett...

Ann Patchett author collage

Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, The Patron Saint of LiarsTaftThe Magician's AssistantBel CantoRun, and State of Wonder. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction, Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer, Lucy Grealy, What now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and, most recently, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays that examines the theme of commitment. 

If you've read and enjoyed Patchett's work, you'll probably like these authors too!
(Click on each author's name for their full list of works.)

Anne Tyler author collage

Though Anne Tyler's writing is down to earth and Ann Patchett's contains hints of magical realism, both authors show deep insight into human nature in their thoughtful, somewhat bittersweet, character-driven novels. Both develop themes defining friendship and family in contemporary America; and how different yet interlinked people respond to significant life events.

Sara Gruen author collage

Literary fiction writers Ann Patchett and Sara Gruen, both favorites of book groups, write thought-provoking works of social commentary. Their novels feature richly layered characters, complex moral dilemmas, beautifully crafted prose, and evocative, often exotic settings.

Gloria Naylor author collage

Both authors create moving, character-driven novels, often with a hint of magical realism. In prose that skillfully shifts from direct to poetic, psychological and social issues play out between families, friends, and the contemporary American world around them. Their insights can be bittersweet but they promote hope in a thoughtful manner. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...