India Morgan Philips, Imp to her friends, is insane. And she knows it. The diagnosis of schizophrenia came as no surprise to her; both her mother and grandmother suffered from similar disorders, both ending their lives as suicides. An artistic, troubled young woman, Imp tries to control her disorder with medication and therapy, but those only go so far. Her obessions—or intrusive thoughts, as her therapist wishes her to call them—sometimes get the better of her. This is the case when she meets Eva Canning, a woman who so strongly evokes a painting called “The Drowning Girl” which Imp had seen as a child that she throws Imp into a fever of artistic madness, compelling her to draw Eva’s face over and over and repeatedly scrawl the words to Lewis Carroll’s “The Lobster Quadrille” over everything at hand. But who is Eva? A hitchhiker? A mermaid? A werewolf? The charimatic priestess of a doomed cult? In Imp’s fevered brain, Eva is all of these things and none of them. And so, in a desperate attempt to find her way through the labyrinth schizophrenia has made of her own past, Imp sets down her story—or stories, as her memory plays tricks on her—in a complex, layered, and utterly compelling narrative.
Haunting and magical, The Drowning Girl questions our understanding of reality. Kiernan’s Imp knows, in a way most of us do not, that she is an unreliable narrator in the story of her own life. What in our life and memory is true and factual, and what is a compelling or comforting fantasy we tell ourselves to cover over the truth? The Drowning Girl does not provide easy answers to these most fundamental questions.
One of the perks of being a librarian is seeing all the new books come in before they go out to the shelves. In the past, we've occasionally picked some new, yet-to-be-shelved titles to feature here and let our readers in on the fun. We haven't done a post like that in too long, so here are some picks from our newest new book cart!
Boudinot, Ryan. Blueprints of the Afterlife
Blueprints of the Afterlife is a tour de force--part George Saunders, part Philip K. Dick--delivering bracing intelligence about who we are, why we're here, and what Ted Williams has to look forward to when he's defrosted. (From the back cover.)
Levine, Sara. Treasure Island!!!
When a college graduate with a history of hapless jobs (ice cream scooper; gift wrapper; laziest ever part-time clerk at The Pet Library) reads Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island, she is dumbstruck by the timid design of her own life...our heroine embarks on a domestic adventure more frightening than anything she'd planned. (From the inside flap.)
Sjon. From the Mouth of the Whale
Jonas Palmason, a poet and self-taught healer, has been condemned to exile for heretical conduct, having fallen foul of the local magistrate. Banished to a remote island, Jonas recalls his exorcism of a walking corpse on the remote Snjafjoll coast, the frenzied massacre of innocent Basque whalers at the hands of local villagers and the deaths of three of his children. ...a magical evocation of an enlightened mind and a vanished age. (From the back cover)
Castor, Helen. She-Wolves: the women who ruled England before Elizabeth
Between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries three [more] exceptional women -- Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, and Margaret of Anjou -- discovered how much was possible if presumptions of male rule were not confronted so explicitly -- and just how quickly they might be vilified as "she-wolves" for their pains. The stories of these women, told here in vivid detail, expose the paradox that female heirs to the Tudor throne had no choice but to negotiate. (From the inside flap)
Deardorff, David and Kathryn Wadsworth. What's Wrong with My Vegetable Garden?
What's Wrong with My Vegetable Garden? teaches you how to keep your vegetables healthy, so they're less susceptible to attack, and when problems do occur, it shows you how to recognize the problem and find the right organic solution. (From the back cover)
Zuiker, Anthony E. Mr. CSI: how a Vegas dreamer made a killing in Hollywood, one body at a time
In 1990, Anthony Zuiker was just another Hollywood wannabe...But twenty years later, Zuiker stands as the mastermind behind the most popular television show in history, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spin-offs.... How he got there...is the narrative lifeblood of Mr. CSI, only, like the show, there's a catch.... (from the inside flap)
Private investigator Ray Lovell thought he’d left his Gypsy roots far behind him. His father left the travelling life long ago to “live in bricks” with Ray’s gorgie—non-Gypsy—mother and Ray himself has never lived on the road. His main connection to that life was childhood trips to visit his father’s family in their trailers. But he finds himself pulled back into the often tangled webs of Gypsy family when Leon Wood, a Gypsy man, hires him to locate his missing daughter. No one but a Gypsy would get far, Leon insists, and Ray reluctantly takes the case. Rose Wood—Rose Janko at the time of her disappearance—has been missing for seven years and Ray doesn’t think he’ll get too far. But when he interviews the seemingly cursed Janko family—not only did Rose vanish, but the males of the family are plagued by an always-fatal degenerative disease of mysterious origins—Ray soon finds that nothing is as it seems and that it’s finally time for the Janko family secrets to come to light. When Ray lands in the hospital, poisoned near-fatally and partially paralyzed, his drive to see this case through to the end intensifies.
Narrated alternately by Ray Lovell, a flawed but driven man; and young JJ, a Gypsy boy trying hard to understand his place in both the Janko clan and the greater world, The Invisible Ones is both a compelling mystery and also a fascinating glimpse into an unfamiliar culture and lifestyle. Between this and her debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, it is obvious that Stef Penney is an author to watch.
We’re gearing up for a great spring all ready! Temperatures are high, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and a lot of best-selling authors are coming out with spring releases! If you’d like to get ahead of the rush, here’s a small sampling of some of this spring’s sure-bet bestsellers! Call or visit the library to place your reserves now!
- Baldacci, David. The Innocent
- Bradford, Barbara Taylor. Letter from a Stranger
- Johansen, Iris. What Doesn’t Kill You
- King, Stephen. Wind Through the Keyhole
- Leon, Donna. Beastly Things
- McCall Smith, Alexander. Limpopo Academy of Private Detection
- Tyler, Anne. Beginner’s Goodbye
- Wambaugh, Joseph. Harbor Nocturne
- Woods, Stuart. Unnatural Acts
- Archer, Jeffrey. Sins of the Father
- Berry, Steve. The Columbus Affair
- Harris, Charlaine. Deadlocked
- Irving, John. In One Person
- Morrison, Toni. Home
- Parker, Robert B. Lullaby
- Patterson, James. 11th Hour
- Quindlen, Anna. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
- Roberts, Nora. Witness
- Sandford, John. Stolen Prey
Hazel has resigned herself to being sick for a long time and then dying; That's just what happens when you have terminal cancer. But when she meets Augustus, a survivor in remission, at her usually uneventful cancer support group, her life radically changes, and so does his.
Initially Hazel fights her feelings for Augustus because she doesn't want to be a "grenade", destroying anyone and everyone who gets too close to her. But things change when Hazel and Augustus go on a trip to Amsterdam to meet her favorite author. Unfortunately, he turns out to be a cruel drunk who is unable to face his own suffering, let alone discuss his work that has had such a deep effect on Hazel. Despite that disappointment, however, she finally feels the courage to give in to her deep desire to be with Augustus, for however long it will be. She knows it will be worth it, and it is.
This bittersweet novel from Green is another masterpiece. Hazel and Augustus are two characters so unique and wise beyond their years that you will not forget this story for a long while.
The current blockbuster action movie, John Carter, has a lot of people confused and a few more people worried. The movie, you see, is actually based on a series of science fiction novels written about one hundred years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs—yes, that Edgar Rice Burroughs, more famous as the author of another series that has often been brought to the silver screen, Tarzan. The confusion about the current John Carter movie seems to lie with the producers’ decision to remove “of Mars” from the title. I have read that this was to distance the film from other recent flops containing the word Mars, such as Mars Needs Moms, but it also serves to confuse people who only know the name John Carter as Noah Wyle’s character on the TV show E.R.! Meanwhile, the original book series has a large and very passionate fanbase (among whose number I count myself!) who are concerned that the movie will do a disservice to their beloved characters. I have yet to see the movie myself, but I have been re-reading the books over the last year or so and getting as swept up in them now as I did when I was twelve. Despite having been written so long ago, they hold up very well and hold appeal for a wide age group. If you’re wondering what all the John Carter buzz is really about, take a look at the source!
- A Princess of Mars
- The Gods of Mars
- The Warlord of Mars
The Privileges is a satirical portrayal of Adam and Cynthia—a charmed New York couple blessed with a great love for each other, beautiful children, and all of the privileges of increasing wealth—who find themselves desiring more. Because of this greed, Adam, who works in the world of private equity, makes a decision that sends him down the path of the immoral and corrupt. If you want a personal glimpse into one reason why the nation’s financial crisis occurred, this is the book for you. The Privileges is a highly readable novel with well-drawn characters whom you both empathize with and despise.
Just Kids is about Patti Smith’s relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe with a focus on their early years, when Smith was in her early twenties and fresh to New York City. But it is also so much more. It is a story of love and friendship. It is a story of the New York artist community during the 1970s. And it is a meditation on what makes an artist, as well as a meditation on life and loss. Even if you are primarily a fiction reader, you will adore this book because it contains all the elements of great fiction. Patti Smith’s writing is eloquent and insightful, and the 2010 nonfiction National Book Award she received for Just Kids is well-deserved.
In Byatt’s slender, slender, semi-autobiographical novella, an unnamed young girl who has fled to the countryside during the Blitz attempts to make sense of the war-torn world around her. Her father is a flier in the war so far away and the girl is convinced he will never return. The darkness and violence that the adults speak of in hushed tones does not match the brightly optimistic emptiness of the words mouthed at church each week. It isn’t until a copy of “Asgard and the Gods” comes into the girl’s possession that the world around her begins to make sense as seen through the lens of the much darker and more violent Norse mythology contained in her book.
Interspersing scenes from the daily life of the girl with retellings and reinterpretations of the mythology she is reading, “Ragnarok: the End of the Gods” serves as an able allegory for our times as well.
In the 1970s, a group of idealistic hippies come together with a vision of utopia, following their charismatic leader, Handy, on a cross-country trek which ends in western New York state at a decaying mansion known as Arcadia House. Bit (the littlest bit of a hippie) is the first child born to the new Arcadians and he grows up in the commune among the optimistic, romantic, and ultimately all-too-human adult founders. We see through his eyes as his mother struggles with a deep and abiding clinical depression, as his father challenges the increasingly haphazard “leadership” of Handy, as the commune grows from a tightly-knit core of like-minded individuals with a vision of cooperation into a sprawling morass of the lazy and the criminal and the insane, as the commune eventually dissolves away into nothing after Handy’s arrest. Having never lived “Outside,” young Bit is thrust into a whole new world and must make sense of it as well as he can until, as an adult, circumstances return him to an Arcadia very much changed, but still a place of refuge.
A plot summary cannot do justice to the lyrical and poignant power of this novel. Bit is a thoughtful, sensitive, and entirely sympathetic narrator and it is a pleasure to grow up alongside him, watching as his perceptions and understandings change with time. Highly recommended.