Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tales of Terror

Below are a selection of tales to get you in the mood for Halloween.

Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier, 10 year old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to venture outdoors. Refusing to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack Peter spends his time drawing monsters. When the drawings take a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire.

Review provided by the publisher.





The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Okiku is a lonely soul. She has wandered the world for centuries, freeing the spirits of the murdered-dead. Once a victim herself, she now takes the lives of killers with the vengeance they are due. But releasing innocent ghosts from their ethereal tethers does not bring Okiku peace. Still she drifts on. Such is her existence, until she meets Tark. Evil writes beneath the moody teen's skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. While his neighbors fear him, Okiku knows the boy is not a monster. Tark needs to be freed from the malevolence that clings to him. There's just one problem: if the demon dies, so does it's host.

Review from the dust jacket flap.



Property of a Lady by Sarah Rayne
A house with a sinister past and a grisly power. When Michael Flint is asked by American friends to look over an old Shropshire house they have unexpectedly inherited, he is relucatnt to leave the quiet of his Oxford study. But when he sees Charect Hourse, its uncanny echoes from the past fascinate him, even though it has a sinister reputation that no one has lived there for almost a century. But it's not until Michael meets a young widow, Nell West, that the menace within the house wakes...

Review provided by the publisher.



To request these books, please click on the title or the book cover.

Posted by Cara






Monday, October 6, 2014

A Delightful Compendium of Short Stories by a Master Storyteller

Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy 

Chestnut Street is a collection of short stories compiled after Maeve Binchy’s death in 2012. It is vintage Maeve Binchy as the characters represent the full range of humanity grappling with sorrows, joys and the complications of living.

Represented are teachers, office workers, nurses, window cleaners, shopkeepers and others with wholesome characters. There are also the bad eggs, salt of the earth, grifters, never do wells, in this case, deadbeat and unfaithful men, worriers, the brokenhearted and even some from across the ocean who find love on Chestnut Street. Each character’s story is presented in a matter of fact, down to earth tone that says this is the way life is for each character. The misfortune experienced in the lives of some is minimized by an undertone of humor that seems to say what really matters is how one deals with life not what happens in life. One cannot help but root for the strong, dislike but not hate the bad, and root for all in this collection.

For those who enjoy short stories tinged with joy, pathos and humor, this collection is a delightful compendium to the many walks Maeve Binchy presented in her stories. These varied streets in Ireland are replete with friends easily found.

 Reviewed by Karen

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Can You See Me Now?

Invisible Ellen by Shari Shattuck 

Ellen is invisible. 

She gets up every day. She goes to work. She comes home. She observes others and records her observations in her notebook. She goes to sleep. She wakes up and does it all over again.

That all changes the day she meets Temerity, a young blind woman Ellen observes on the bus. Ellen is intrigued by Temerity, curiously follows her home and intervenes after two muggers run off with Temerity's backpack. Temerity invites Ellen to her home as a thank you and they start an unlikely friendship. Ellen is used to spending her life alone and friendless. Temerity breaks through her reserve with her unfailing charm and positive attitude.

Invisible Ellen is a story of isolation, redemption and friendship. It is a quick read. Join Ellen on her journey of self discovery.

Click the title or book cover to view the catalog or make a request.

Review by Cara 




Monday, August 25, 2014

An Epic Journey through Courtesan Houses of the Turn of the Century

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan 

This book takes the reader on an epic journey to the Courtesan houses of turn of the Century Shanghai to a hidden away Chinese mountain village, to nineteenth century San Francisco covering 50 years in the lives of a mother and daughter torn apart by a series of unusual events. Half Chinese Violet Minturn is separated from her mother by a twist of fate and sold as a virgin courtesan to the Hall of Tranquilly, a famed courtesan house. Violet finds love with an American in Shanghai, has a child, and then is widowed during a break out of the Blue Disease. Because she was not legally married her child was taken by the family of the American leaving her bereft. Violet's attempt to improve her life leads her to a meager existence in a Chinese mountain village as wife number 3 to abusive and crazed husband posing as a Poet. Ever resourceful, Violet joins forces with the other wives and manages to narrowly escape this situation through wit, strength, and a refusal to be overcome. At this point we go back in time to explore the story of Lucia Minturn, Violet's mother whose actions begin the thread of events that span the 50 year time period the story covers. The Valley of Amazement could be a page turner, but the prose and story lines are so intricate and involving that the reader must slow down a savor each page. Not to be missed for long time Amy Tan fans and those new to her storytelling skills.

 Reviewed by Karen

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Like Nicholas Sparks? Try Jeffrey Stepakoff

A mix between Nicholas Sparks and Robert Waller, Jeffrey Stepakoff is an essential read for any lover of southern fiction. Born and raised in Atlanta, Stepakoff illustrates perfectly the nuances of southern culture.  From the dialect and southern cooking to the mason jars, readers will enjoy this tap into their southern roots. His two most popular works, Fireworks Over Toccoa and The Orchard illustrate a picturesque view of life in the rural outskirts of Atlanta. 

Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff

The little town of Toccoa is planning a big celebration for it's returning soldiers. And Lily Davis Woodward is a little pensive and anxious about reestablishing a relationship with her husband, a man she married just days before leaving for the war. Especially now that she has met Jake Russo, the Italian immigrant who has been hired to put on the fireworks display for the festivities. Now Lily must now decide, does she honor the commitment she made so many years ago or be with the man who stole her heart.


The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff

Set in Atlanta, Grace Lyndon is a taste and scent developer constantly in search of unique and distinct aromas. As a work-a-holic focused on her career and landing the next big account, Grace has little time for family or friends. However, while pursuing on her newest creation Grace stumbles upon a North Georgia apple orchard that could change her life and fast paced Atlanta ways forever.


To request these books click the titles or covers above. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book on CD Review: A Way with Words II: Approaches to Literature by Michael D.C Drout Renowned Literary scholar Michael D.C. Drout presents 14 lectures on the big questions about literature. What is literature? Is Literature truth? Why do we read? Insight is provided on these and other questions through an exploration of the following topics: “genres,” “language,” “Identity Politics,” “Culture Cultural Production,” the “Literary Canon,” and “What do we talk about When We Talk about Literature”? Throughout, examples underscore the relevance of literature as a force for understanding the human heart. The listener is taken on a journey through the building blocks of literature, the big questions about literature and emerges with a keener awareness of the influence of literature on culture and community. Listening to this series of lectures is an absorbing and beneficial experience. Unarticulated questions are answered in a seamless narrative fashion. Lectures in A Way with Words are designed for all who desire to further their understanding of language, speech, reading and the power of words.

Karen J. Harris, Librarian, Norcross Branch, Gwinnett County Public Library

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tolkien's Beowulf a mixed bag

Beowulf
A Translation and Commentary
by J.R.R. Tolkien

There is a famous quote about poetry translations that says if a translation is faithful then it is not beautiful and if it is beautiful then it is not faithful. Tolkien's translation of Beowulf is extremely faithful.

Tolkien was a scholar of Old English and wrote a paper titled "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" which is considered one of the most significant works in Beowulf scholarship. He was of course also the grandfather of all modern Fantasy fiction. These two factors taken together make his translation of Beowulf all the more disappointing.

The translation was completed in 1926, decades before his famous Fantasy works, and he did not attempt to publish it during his lifetime. The work is a very literal translation that is sometimes an awkward read. Of much more interest is the 200 pages of commentary Tolkien provides, explaining in great detail his translation process and word choices.