Marysville Library Blog

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best Books of 2012

I know, I know, everybody comes out with these "best of" lists at the end of the year. But hopefully given the variety you can find your next best book. The books I have on this list are either books that I read and thoroughly enjoyed this year, or have been recommended in multiple places, such as "Library Journal". It has teen books, kid books, adult fiction and nonfiction. You should be able to find books on this list that fit your taste and mood, so go forth and read!

 Code name Verity  by Elizabeth Wein  In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can. Also highly recommended by Nancy Pearl on NPR.

The fault in our stars by John Green Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a cute boy in recovery at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.

The false prince by Jennifer Nielsen In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition to the death to be selected to impersonate the king's long-missing son in an effort to avoid a civil war.

Wonder by RJ Palacio Auggie Pullman was born with a facial deformity so severe that it prevented him from going to a mainstream school - until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and is nervous about being the new kid at school. The thing is, Auggie's just an ordinary kid, but with an extraordinary face. Can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

Don’t ever get old by Daniel Friedman Death-camp survivor Buck is 87, abrasive, and has trouble remembering. But his cop's watchfulness is intact, and he keeps his .375 Magnum close by. When he learns that the sadistic guard who brutalized him is likely still alive and the possessor of much stolen Nazi gold, Buck and his chatterbox grandson go on a quest. But why are the bodies piling up?

Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain Why is brash all-roundedness emphasized in college when singular focus serves so well in many jobs and relationships? Relating personal experience and backing it up with case studies, Cain explains how the quietly confident can take over the world – or at least become more content.

Beautiful ruins by Jess Walter In 1962 on a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper looks out over the incandescent waters and spies a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. And today, half a world away, an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot - searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, this is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, clinging to their improbable dreams.

Curious behavior: Yawning, laughing, hiccupping, and beyond by Robert Provine Psychologist and neuroscientist Provine looks at 13 curiosities of how humans function, from laughing and yawning to being ticklish and prone to emotional tears. Random oddities? No, each is an evolutionary inheritance. With wit, a light touch, and scientific expertise accessibly delivered, Provine gives us the fascinating backstory on each.

Let’s pretend this never happened by Jenny Lawson A memoir about growing up poor in rural Texas and learning to live with mental illness doesn’t sound like a laugh-out-loud read, but Lawson, known online as The Bloggess, has a way with gallows humor and a knack for providing non-treacly support to anyone struggling with loneliness, anxiety, chronic pain, or depression. Plus, after her stories about life with a taxidermist father, readers will never look at a dead squirrel in the same way.

The snow child by Eowyn Ivey In this evocative retelling of a Russian folktale set in 1920 Alaska, a childless couple distract themselves their first winter by building a snow girl. The snow girl and the scarf are gone the next morning, but Jack spies a real child in the woods. Is she indeed a "snow fairy," magicked out of the cold? Or is she a wild child who knows better than anyone how to survive in the rugged north?

Billy Lynn’s long halftime walk by Ben Fountain A member of Bravo squad, whose fiercely fought battle in Iraq was caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew, Billy Lynn is on a victory tour of sorts with the survivors. In a compacted but unrushed time frame, Fountain effectively captures both the transformative experiences of one young man and the horrific impact of war. As he ponders life choices, Billy makes a surprising decision.

NW by Zadie Smith Relating the story of four people in North West London, Smith articulates important issues of race and class, but what matters most is her distinctive narrative voice. In numbered, run-on chapters that occasionally turn to aphorism, memo and even poetry, Smith shows us how to write for the 21st century, when the online environment has changed our way of thinking, that makes other books sound ordinary.

The song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Patroclus is an awkward, exiled young prince; golden Achilles is the much-admired son of a sea goddess. In telling the story of their intense friendship and love, debut novelist Miller brings Homer’s ancient Greece to glorious life and offers a masterly vision of the valor, drama, and tragedy of the Trojan War. This won the 2012 Orange Prize for fiction.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hot Reads for Cold Nights

Using the Marysville Facebook page fans for one of my sources, here are some great reads to keep you warm at night, either in a sexy sense, or in the sense of pulling you so into the scene that you're surprised you're not sweating in the heat:

Several people suggested “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. This was far and away the most suggested book, and it’s a series, too! “In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she finds herself in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”

“Like water for chocolate” by Laura Esquivel is another great suggestion seconded by others: “A passionately in love young couple is blocked from marrying by the demands of the young woman's cold and selfish mother. To be near his love, the young man marries her sister, and she expresses her passion for him through her cooking – with unintended passionate results.” With passionate love, revolution, and great cooking, this will keep you warm at night!

Another patron suggested Sherrilyn Kenyon’s “Dark Hunter” series. Start with “Fantasy Lover” and go from there. What is the Dark-Hunter credo? “We are Darkness. We are Shadow. We, alone, stand between mankind and those who would see mankind destroyed. And we are eternal.”  They are tough and tormented, just waiting for the right woman to open their jaded hearts.

Laurell K Hamilton is another author that will get you to breathe harder and fan your face. My favorite is her Meredith Gentry series, starting with “A kiss of shadows”.  The elven Princess Meredith Gentry has fled her cruel aunt, Queen Andais, for Los Angeles. Using her magic to pass for human, she begins a life as a private eye specializing in supernatural crime, but Doyle, the Queen's assassin, has been sent to bring her back. Deadly faery politics, a resourceful heroine, and great sex scenes, you will lap this up.

Sandra Brown writes great romantic thrillers set in the heat of the South. You’ll stay warm in both senses! “Fat Tuesday” is one example where sparks fly and sweat drips as Burke Basile, a cop with nothing left to lose focuses on his nemesis, a flamboyant attorney who helps killers evade justice. His shocking revenge centers on kidnapping Remy, the lawyer's trophy wife. But Burke hasn't planned on the electric attraction he'll feel for this desperate woman, who rose from the slums of New Orleans to marry a man she can never love. Nor can he predict the fierce duel that will explode as the clock ticks toward midnight on Fat Tuesday, when all masks will be stripped away--and Burke must confront his own terrifying secret. Start here, but read them all!

JD Robb is the pseudonym Nora Roberts uses to write the popular “In death” series. Intrigue, passion and suspense fill the series, but this Christmas season go for “Midnight in death” to really get you in the mood as Lieutenant Eve Dallas makes the Christmas list of a killer out for revenge.

Colin Cotterill’s Dr Siri Paiboun series is set in the communist Laos of the 1970’s. Not hot in a sexy sense, the heat and humidity of Laos is so vivid you will be surprised at the cold outside your window. In “The coroner’s lunch”, elderly Dr Siri has been appointed national coroner since he is the only forensic doctor left in the entire country. He is expected to come up with the answers the party wants. But at his age, he reasons, what can they do to him? And he knows he cannot fail the dead who come into his care without risk of incurring their boundless displeasure. Eternity could be a long time to have the spirits mad at you.

If sitting in the bright warm sun in Italy is the dream that keeps you going in these dark days of the year, you will enjoy Frances Mayes’ “Under the Tuscan sun”. Buying a villa in the spectacular Italian countryside is a wonderful fantasy -- even if it needs immediate loving care. This is an enchanting true account of her love affair with Tuscany: of scouring the neighborhood for the perfect panettone and the perfect plumber; of mornings spent cultivating her garden, and afternoons spent enjoying its fruits in leisurely lunches on the sun drenched terrace; of jaunts through the hill towns in search of renowned wines; and the renewal not only of a house, but also of the spirit.

Pre-Civil War New Orleans was a hotbed (in both senses) of cosmopolitan, multi-racial intrigue. Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January series follows a free black man - educated as a surgeon and as a musician - as he navigates both the mysteries he finds in steamy New Orleans and pushes the limits to his freedom as a colored man and ex-slave. Start with “A free man of color” and be transported to the center of the cosmopolitan South in an age when both its glories and the forces which would tear it apart are equally in evidence.

Thinking about heat, what is it like for a woman wearing a black hijab in hot Saudi Arabia? Fast-paced and utterly transporting, “Finding Nouf” by Zoe Ferraris is a riveting mystery and an unprecedented window into the lives of those in Saudi Arabia. When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing, her prominent family calls on Nayir al-Sharqi - a pious desert guide - to lead the search party. He quickly realizes that if he wants to gain access to the hidden world of women, he will have to join forces with Katya Hijazi, a female lab worker at the coroner's office who is bold enough to bare her face and to work in public. Their partnership challenges Nayir and forces him to reconcile his desire for female companionship within the parameters imposed by his beliefs. Read other books by this author too!

What are your favorite "hot" reads?