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2015 Reading Group Selections

2015 Reading Group Selections

Upcoming Reading Selections

January 6, 2015

The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion

Full of heart and humor, Simsion’s debut novel about a fussy, socially-challenged man’s search for the perfect wife is smart, breezy, quirky, and fun. Sure, it’s the precise equivalent of a well-crafted romantic comedy. (In fact, the book was clearly written with the big-screen in mind, and the film rights have already been sold). But you’d have to be a pretty cynical reader not to fall for Don Tillman, a handsome genetics professor who has crafted a pathologically micromanaged life for himself but can’t seem to score a second date. After launching his Wife Project, which includes a hilarious questionnaire intended to weed out imperfect candidates--smokers, makeup wearers, vegans (“incredibly annoying”)--Don meets Rosie, a stunning, maddeningly disorganized bartender/student who’s looking for her biological father. The reader knows just where the story is headed: Rosie’s so wrong for Don, she’s perfect. That’s not giving anything away. Half the fun of the book is watching pent-up, Asperger’s-afflicted Don break free, thanks to Rosie, from his precisely controlled, annoyingly sensible, and largely humorless lifestyle. By the final third, you’re cheering for Don to shatter all his rules. And you’re casting the film.

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.
  

Tuesday February 3, 2015

Desert God
by Wilbur Smith

The Instant New York Times Bestseller

The #1 International Bestseller

Game of Thrones meets ancient Egypt in this magnificent epic from one of the world's biggest-selling authors. Conjuring the magic, mystery and bloody intrigue of a fascinating lost world, Desert God presents Wilbur Smith at the helm of one of the greatest stories of all time.

On the gleaming banks of the Nile, the brilliant Taita—a freed slave and advisor to the Pharaoh—devises a plan to destroy Egypt's most feared enemy, the mighty Hyksos. His quest will take him on an epic journey up the ancient river, through Arabia and the magical city of Babylon and across the open seas—all in the company of the Pharaoh's exquisite sisters. With the future of the kingdom itself on his shoulders, Taita plunges into a world where the line between loyalty and betrayal shifts like the desert sands, evil waits in the shadows and death lingers on the edge of darkness.

Hundreds of millions have fallen in love with the magic of Wilbur Smith. In Desert God, he is at the peak of his powers, transporting readers to an extraordinary time and place. This is a novel of supreme adventure, blazing action, heart-racing romance and a sense of history so real that you will feel the dunes moving beneath you and the Nile lapping at your feet.

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

Tuesday March 3, 2015

Loving Frank
by Nancy Horan

Horan's ambitious first novel is a fictionalization of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, best known as the woman who wrecked Frank Lloyd Wright's first marriage. Despite the title, this is not a romance, but a portrayal of an independent, educated woman at odds with the restrictions of the early 20th century. Frank and Mamah, both married and with children, met when Mamah's husband, Edwin, commissioned Frank to design a house. Their affair became the stuff of headlines when they left their families to live and travel together, going first to Germany, where Mamah found rewarding work doing scholarly translations of Swedish feminist Ellen Key's books. Frank and Mamah eventually settled in Wisconsin, where they were hounded by a scandal-hungry press, with tragic repercussions. Horan puts considerable effort into recreating Frank's vibrant, overwhelming personality, but her primary interest is in Mamah, who pursued her intellectual interests and love for Frank at great personal cost. As is often the case when a life story is novelized, historical fact inconveniently intrudes: Mamah's life is cut short in the most unexpected and violent of ways, leaving the narrative to crawl toward a startlingly quiet conclusion. Nevertheless, this spirited novel brings Mamah the attention she deserves as an intellectual and feminist.

SOURCE: Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday April 7, 2015

Poetry
by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou born Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author, poet, dancer, actress, and singer. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees.[3] Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, nightclub dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. In 1982, she earned the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Beginning in the 1990s, she made around 80 appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" (1993) at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, making her the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.

With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of Black culture. Attempts have been made to ban her books from some U.S. libraries, but her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou's major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel.

SOURCE: Copyright © Wikipedia.com. All rights reserved.

Tuesday May 5, 2015

Sarah's Key
by Tatiana de Rosnay

Starred Review. De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is De Rosnay's 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia's conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah's trials so riveting, her innocence so absorbing, that the book is hard to put down.

SOURCE: Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday June 2, 2015

Hotel at the Corner of
Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford

Ford's strained debut concerns Henry Lee, a Chinese-American in Seattle who, in 1986, has just lost his wife to cancer. After Henry hears that the belongings of Japanese immigrants interned during WWII have been found in the basement of the Panama Hotel, the narrative shuttles between 1986 and the 1940s in a predictable story that chronicles the losses of old age and the bewilderment of youth. Henry recalls the difficulties of life in America during WWII, when he and his Japanese-American school friend, Keiko, wandered through wartime Seattle. Keiko and her family are later interned in a camp, and Henry, horrified by America's anti-Japanese hysteria, is further conflicted because of his Chinese father's anti-Japanese sentiment. Henry's adult life in 1986 is rather mechanically rendered, and Ford clumsily contrasts Henry's difficulty in communicating with his college-age son, Marty, with Henry's own alienation from his father, who was determined to Americanize him. The wartime persecution of Japanese immigrants is presented well, but the flatness of the narrative and Ford's reliance on numerous cultural cliches make for a disappointing read. (Feb.)

SOURCE: Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday July 7, 2015

Flight Behavior
by Barbara Kingsolver

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2012: In what may be the first novel to realistically imagine the near-term impact of “global weirding,” Barbara Kingsolver sets her latest story in rural Appalachia . In fictional Feathertown, Tennessee, Dellarobia Turnbow--on the run from her stifling life--charges up the mountain above her husband’s family farm and stumbles onto a “valley of fire” filled with millions of monarch butterflies. This vision is deemed miraculous by the town’s parishioners, then the international media. But when Ovid, a scientist who studies monarch behavior, sets up a lab on the Turnbow farm, he learns that the butterflies’ presence signals systemic disorder--and Dellarobia's in-laws’ logging plans won’t help. Readers who bristle at politics made personal may be turned off by the strength of Kingsolver’s convictions, but she never reduces her characters to mouthpieces, giving equal weight to climate science and human need, to forces both biological and biblical. Her concept of family encompasses all living beings, however ephemeral, and Flight Behavior gracefully, urgently contributes to the dialogue of survival on this swiftly tilting planet. --Mari Malcolm

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

Tuesday August 4, 2015

The Dovekeepers
by Alice Hoffman

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: Yael was born of a dead mother and father who knows how to become invisible. Revka learned silence when her grandsons lost their voices after witnessing their mother’s brutal murder. Aziza became a boy to protect herself, and hates being forced to turn back into a woman. And Shirah will do anything to protect those she loves from the horrors of the world. The power and violence of these women is evident in every word of The Dovekeepers. Hoffman’s prose is vivid and unforgettable, scorching like the desert heat, and will stay with you long after you finish the last page. A story of sacrifice, endurance, and above all, survival, The Dovekeepers is homage to anyone who’s ever held fast to their beliefs in the face of nearly insurmountable adversity. --Malissa Kent

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

Tuesday September 1, 2015

The Hour I First Believed
by Wally Lamb

Fans of Wally Lamb's previous novels will find few thematic surprises in his newest: tales of family dysfunction, loneliness, sexual abuse, infidelity, and pain abound. Critics agreed that Lamb, a wonderful storyteller, allows his tragedies to unfold naturally; the best—and scariest—part relates the details of the Columbine massacre. However, not all agreed that the novel fully succeeds. While the first half (about Columbine and its aftermath) is utterly riveting, the second part—which tries to recount every violent event from the mid-19th century to the present—contains too many subplots and "fails even as a melodrama" (Washington Post). But readers who don't buy into Lamb's grand statement on the American experience should still find something worthy in his very real, achingly complex, set of characters.

SOURCE: Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

Tuesday October 6, 2015

Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2013: Before Louisa met Will, her plans didn't reach beyond their tiny English town. Will, when he wasn't closing multimillion-dollar deals, blew off steam scaling mountains, leaping from planes, and enjoying exquisite women--until an accident left him paralyzed and seriously depressed. When his mother hires Lou to keep his spirits up, he meets her awkward overtures with caustic contempt, but she's tenacious and oddly endearing. Their fondness grows into something deeper, gaining urgency when she realizes his determination to end his life, and her efforts to convince him of its value throw her own bland ambitions into question. Plumbing morally complex depths with comedy and compassion, Jojo Moyes elevates the story of Lou and Will from what could have been a maudlin weepie into a tragic love story, with a catharsis that will wring out your heart and leave you feeling fearless. --Mari Malcolm

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

Tuesday November 3, 2015

Don't Ever Tell
by Brandon Massey

Review
"A tour de force of psychological suspense!" -- Jay Bonansinga, National Bestselling Author

"Tell everyone that DON'T EVER TELL is a crackling good thriller." -- John Lutz, New York Times Bestselling Author

From the Publisher
Dark Secrets... With a new identity, a new city to live in, and a wonderful new husband, Rachel Moore believes she's finally free of the demons in her past. But nothing could be farther from the truth. For the deadly secrets she thought were long-buried are now on the brink of being exposed... Have A Way...

Someone has a vendetta against Rachel. Someone whom she betrayed a long time ago. Someone who is determined to make her pay---no matter the cost... Of Coming Back With A Vengeance...

Now Rachel knows it's just a matter of time before her dangerous past meets up with her present---and destroys everything she's worked so hard for. Because if there's one thing that can be counted on---her enemy never forgets or forgives and will do whatever it takes to see Rachel suffer...

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

Tuesday December 8, 2015
(Moved One Week for Hoilday Tree Lighting)

My Cousin Rachel
by Daphne du Maurier

Du Maurier was a very popular writer during her lifetime, but after she cashed in her chips in 1989, many of her books have gone out of print. This 1951 story is told by young protagonist Philip Ashley, who is cast together with Rachel, his uncle's widow, whom he comes to suspect might have played a role in the man's demise. Is Philip next?

SOURCE: Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

 

 

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