Great Reads

Fitzpatrick, Becca. Hush, Hush

What can you say about a paranormal romance in which the love interest is a fallen angel?  Not only is he a fallen angel, but he’s an angel named Patch. It's really difficult to take the character seriously with a name like that.  Still, I persevered in reading this recent teen paranormal romance.

Nora is a high school student who is creeped out by her new biology partner (Patch).  When it becomes apparent that he knows much more about her than she knows about him, she becomes both curious and frightened.  Improbably, the straight-arrow Nora breaks into the student records’ office and looks through Patch’s file to find only blank pages. Things heat up as Patch and another mysterious new student both pursue Nora. There’s a love triangle to keep things interesting and a crazy best friend who helps Nora into plenty of trouble.  This series opener is definitely teen fiction and although it holds some appeal for younger readers, it's not likely to be a crossover title.  You'll find this novel in our Teen Browsing collection.

Teen/Adult Summer Reading Week Two: Plan 9 From Outer Space

Who knows where the zombies will come from.  Are they from Earth or somewhere else?  This week's challenge is to read a science fiction book.  We're giving you a few recommendations to get you started.

Keep your eye on the sky...they're coming!

 

Calder, Richard.  The Twist (SF)

Flynn, Michael. Eifelheim (SF)

Mandery, Evan. First contact, or, It's later than you think (F)

Meyer, Stephenie. The Host (SF)

Niven, Larry. Footfall (SF)

Sagan, Carl. Contact (SF)

Sigler, Scott. Contagious (SF)

Silverberg, Robert. The Alien Years (SF)

 

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Hustvedt, Siri. The Summer Without Men

It’s the rare book that can consider weighty themes without a bleak tone and plot. As readers we’re often forced to choose between literary fiction that borders on the morose and lighter fare that can feel like a waste of time. Not so with Siri Hustvedt’s new novel, Summer without Men. Hustvedt manages to examine everything from adolescent bullying to the potential grief and loneliness of old age in a charming novel that never seems depressing thanks to the wry humor of the first person narrator, Mia.

Newly separated after nearly thirty years of marriage and fresh from a brief stint in a psychiatric hospital, Mia returns to her hometown where she balances an intense introspection about her past (and life in general )with an interest in an array of women, including her young poetry students, a troubled neighbor, and her mother’s elderly friends. Mia’s compassion for these women allows her to revisit the various stages of her own life while directly addressing the reader and offering numerous asides and literary quotes and allusions regarding love and loss. Throughout Mia’s sense of humor charms the reader. She shares fantasies of releasing the rats in her husband’s lab and refers to his new girlfriend as “the Pause” and “unnamed French love object.”

Summer without Men is a quick, quirky read served up by one of the more engaging narrators in recent memory. 

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Vowell, Sarah. Unfamiliar Fishes

With a few notable exceptions (Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Bill Bryson), I believe authors should not attempt to narrate their own audio books. I mention this because I recently listened to Sarah Vowell’s latest book, Unfamiliar Fishes. While the content of the book was interesting enough, I became really irritated by the author’s reading of it by disk 2.  This did not bode well for a favorable review.

Fortunately, I stuck with it and learned a few more things about the history of Hawaii, about its unification, its natives, its first contacts with adventurers and missionaries, and its melting-pot growing pains.  Vowell is witty, as always, and doesn’t hesitate to include her personal and political viewpoints along the way. Recommended for fans of Vowell, those curious about Hawaiian history, or those in the mood for a serendipitous jaunt through an unfamiliar place.  

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Obreht, Tea. The Tiger’s Wife

Natalia Stefanovi, a young doctor living in a contemporary unnamed Balkan country, is preparing, along with her best friend, for a goodwill mission across a border which has not always been a border. Right before they leave, however, she receives the news that her beloved grandfather has died. No one else but she knew that he was ill, so the death itself does not surprise her. What is a shock, however, is that he died in a small town on the other side of the border, having told Natalia’s grandmother that he was on his way to visit Natalia. But Natalia knows nothing of this.  Having arrived in the town where she will be vaccinating war orphans, Natalia finds herself distracted from her work by memories of her grandfather and the puzzling question of just what he was doing so far from home. Her thoughts circle around and around, always coming back to two stories her grandfather always told her when she was a child…the story of Gavran Gaile, the deathless man who collected the souls of the dying, and the deaf-mute woman known as the tiger’s wife.

The story circles through time, visiting Natalia’s childhood, her grandfather’s childhood, and times even earlier than that, building a portrait of a country divided by ethnicity, religion, and superstition as much as by politics and bloodshed. The seeming fairy tales of the deathless man and the tiger’s wife hold surprising kernels of truth and reality. Vibrant, lyrical, and compelling.  

 

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