Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the tag “Libraries”

New Life, No Instructions by Gail Caldwell

New LifeIn this quiet testimony, Gail Caldwell shares her story of physical and emotional reclamation, as she begins to heal after the death of her best friend Caroline (their story was eloquently told in the author’s previous memoir Let’s Take the Long Way Home).  The power of the human spirit and the healing powers of a pet dog are remarkable.

Living alone and feeling the need for canine comfort, Gail decides on a whim to get a Samoyed puppy. She has an affinity for the breed, having raised and enjoyed many of them over the years. Bringing Tula into her life may have been a rash decision but as soon as Gail lay eyes on her there was no turning back.

As they become swiftly and irrevocable attached, Gail notices that the demands of such an active dog aggravates her leg that has bothered her for many years. In her childhood she suffered from polio and always figured it was the aftermath of the disease that caused her leg to hurt. After seeing a variety of specialists, a comprehensive exam finally revealed that the problem was not her leg but her hip. The years had taken their toll and now it was time for a hip replacement.

How Gail resolved the problem of her physical recovery from hip surgery and the caretaking of her beloved Samoyed during this time is truly an inspiring story of grit, determination, and the importance of community. If you loved Gail’s previous works or are a fan of writers like Anne Lamott and Sue Monk Kidd this courageous memoir is one you are sure to treasure.

– Susan

Order in Bibz.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and NowAnn Brashares’ novel, The Here and Now, is a beautiful story of time travel, love and heartbreak. It takes the overdone dystopia genre and gives it new life by bringing a damaged future into the present.

Prenna James is an immigrant that comes from the future—a dim future where blood plagues and food scarcities make life unlivable. She and a minor group of other immigrants form a secret community trying to blend in with life in present day. Life is better, but Prenna feels bound by the severe rules and endless surveillance by community leaders. When Prenna breaks some rules and forms a connection with Ethan Jarves, a ‘time native’ who senses something dissimilar about the time travelers, her world changes. Together, Prenna and Ethan must determine how to change the present and prevent a dreadful future.

The Here and Now has all the fundamentals that attract dystopian readers—regulatory governments and leaders, intrigue, looming world disaster, and a little romance. However, Brashares adds the thrilling twist of time travel and an ability to alter the future. Ethan and Prenna are thought-provoking and well-written characters with classic adolescent fears, as well as, commendable adulthood. Their story is a captivating mystery where elements of science fiction combine with a modern plot. With these style mishmashes, The Here and Now will appeal to a wide variety of young readers.

– Brittany

Order in Bibz.

Living With a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich

living with a wild godAnyone familiar with Barbara Ehrenreich knows that she has a strong opinion or two…or three. If you have read any of her previous works then you know what I mean. But none of her former heavy hitters prepared me for her latest zeitgeist.

While on a mission to organize her papers for storage in a university library she discovers a long-forgotten journal she wrote in her teenage years. At the tender age of 14, when most girls spend their time thinking about boys and makeup, Ehrenreich’s biggest concern was to find The Meaning of Life. While this may be somewhat unsettling it was not at all surprising considering how she was raised. The daughter of two very outspoken atheists was groomed to be a staunch non-believer and rely on scientific data rather than the religious “hogwash” that surrounded them in Butte, Montana. Barbara spent her teenage years ruminating on the age-old questions of “Why are we here?” and “Do we really exist?”

Then when she turned 17 she experienced a kind of “mystical experience” during a visit to the desert. Hard pressed to put this event into words and alarmed that this might contradict her allegiance to atheism Ehrenreich tried to put this episode out of her mind. She subscribed to the philosophical idea of solipsism, which states that only one’s mind is sure to exist and the existence of anything or anyone outside one’s own existence does not ring true. Yes, it’s pretty heavy stuff, and if this isn’t your cup of tea then I suggest you jump ship early. The rest of the book follows the author’s political and philosophical musings of her adult years. Every life decision and person she interacts with becomes a complex problem that needs to be analyzed and solved. Sure, it IS an exhausting way to live, which is why Ehrenreich wonders more often than not if she really has some sort of mental illness.

Suffice it to say this won’t be on everyone’s Must Read list but it would make for some very interesting and weighty book group discussions. It is definitely trademark Ehrenreich and true to form, she makes no apologies for that.

– Susan

Order in Bibz.

Driving Lessons by Zoe Fishman

driving lessonsIn this charming novel about how life can take unexpected turns we meet Sarah, a former New York City marketing executive, and her husband Josh as they take a leap of faith and leave the Big Apple to pursue a quieter existence in rural Virginia.

Sarah takes the move as a sign to explore new options as city life has left a bad taste in her mouth. However, looking for encouragement in this new setting seems impossible, not to mention the fact that nothing is in walking distance. This normally wouldn’t be a big problem but Sarah suffers from a severe driving phobia. Determined to overcome this fear Sarah signs up for driving lessons and this in turn opens up a whole new world for her.

I love how this novel touches upon many different aspects of modern womanhood: career changes, impending motherhood, the scariness of cancer, and how it is sometimes just too darn hard to get up in the morning and face it all head on. The author’s writing is very authentic and contains the right amount of quirky characters, modern plot twists, and peppery language. Not your run-of-the-mill chick lit story readers will be thoroughly charmed with this lovable heroine as she figures out that it is not the destination but the journey that truly matters.

– Susan

Order in Bibz.


The Ten Thousand Things by John Spurling

ten thousand things“Times are turning bad again. I have been arrested for going to see a private art collection.”

So opens John Spurling’s latest novel, which centers around the recollections of Wang Meng, a low-level bureaucrat in the Yuan Dynasty. The Yuan Dynasty was a tumultuous time that followed after China had been invaded and appropriated by the Mongols. What’s amazing about his story is that it doesn’t feel at all like a dry historical retelling of life in a faraway time and place, as I expected. Instead, it is a carefully measured study of what it is like to watch change destroy and reshape the world around you. The problems faced by Wang Meng and those he knows feel timeless.

In tidy, delicate prose which recalls the intricate details of a classic Chinese painting, Spurling journeys with Wang Meng through the landscape, meeting and befriending a colorful assortment of people who are, like him, trying to make sense of it all. The pacing of this novel demands that you read it attentively, but it is worth savoring. I found it a rewarding read on snowy afternoons.

– Stacey

Order in Bibz.

Happy 450th Birthday to “The Bard”!: April 23, 1564

Happy 450th Birthday William Shakespeare! “The Bard” would’ve celebrated on April 23rd but we’re sure you’ll want to peruse this list, on all things Shakespeare, right now.  In addition to Shakespeare’s classic works of literature, there are historical fiction tie-ins, biographies of the writer, reference works detailing the world he lived in, and graphic novel adaptations. Look no further – you’ll find all the titles you need to expand and enhance your Shakespeare collection.  View the entire list here.

The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charles C. Lovettthe bookman's tale

An antiquarian bookseller named Peter Byerly happens across an 18th century book about Shakespeare forgeries, containing a portrait of a woman that looks so much like his recently deceased wife that he’s obsessed with investigating its origin.  This leads Peter on a perilously thrilling quest to prove the book’s authenticity. Fans of literary mysteries and love stories will find much to treasure in Lovett’s novel.  Learn more and order here.

Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady by Sally O’Reillydark aemilia

There is much speculation and argument over the true identity of the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets.  In this imaginative tale, O’Reilly envisions Aemilia Lanyer, the first Englishwoman to establish herself as a professional poet, in this role and details her life and secret affair with Shakespeare. Learn more and order here.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescherwilliam shakespeare's star wars

An officially licensed retelling of George Lucas’s Star Wars – in classic Shakespeare style!  Star Wars fans can read the epic story of Luke Skywalker in iambic pentameter, with pen and ink illustration included throughout.  Learn more and order here.

Who Was William Shakespeare?  By Celeste Davidson Mannis who was william shakespeare

William Shakespeare is the most famous English playwright ever to live but surprisingly, little is known about his life.  This biography delves into his life and work and pieces together some interesting facts about the Bard of Avon.  Learn more and order here.

The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sis

The Pilot and the Little PrincePeter Sis uses rich tones and thrilling plot points to depict the adventurous life of Antoine De Saint-Exupery. The story reads as a mini-biography of Antoine – the famous pilot and author of The Little Prince. While most of the story revolves around Antoine’s passion for flying, there are other elements of world history including Nazi Germany in World War II and the evolution of flying from its inception and its progress throughout the early 20th century.

Sis does not sugar coat the ups and downs of Antoine’s life. Instead, he portrays a very real synopsis of a man who refused to let his passion for flying fall to the wayside. While this story is intended for children, the text and informational subtexts read in a detailed and enticing manner. The child receives a history lesson as well as an intriguing story of a unique man’s life.

Besides plot, the illustrations are exquisite. Every page depicts a different texture and the exchange between warm and cool colors keeps the reader engaged. Furthermore, Sis includes facts throughout some of the images in order to read beyond the main plot.

Overall, I would highly recommend this story for a child who loves using his or her imagination. By taking readers on a wild ride in the sky through time, Sis truly connects with his reader by clearly conveying the purpose of this story.


Order in Bibz.

Notorious by Allison Brennan

notoriousThis was the first book by Allison Brennan that I have read and I enjoyed it.

In Notorious, Allison Brennan introduces a new heroine, Maxine Revere, who hosts a true crime type of television show where she investigates cold cases that have not been solved. When her old friend, Kevin, allegedly commits suicide, she returns to her home town for the funeral. Kevin’s little sister does not believe he committed suicide nor does she think he committed the murder of his high school girlfriend, and she begs Max to help her prove it. Kevin was acquitted of the murder, but a lot of people believed that he was guilty (including Max’s own family) and made his life very tough. Determined to prove once and for all that Kevin was innocent, Max finds an ally in a police detective who is willing to look at the case and help her find new evidence. But, someone will do anything to keep the truth buried.

With a mix of suspense and a little bit of romance, the story line kept me guessing right up to the very end.

– Tina

Order in Bibz.


Missing You by Harlan Coben

missing youI have read all of Harlan Coben’s books and really enjoyed them. Missing You is no exception.

When NYPD detective Kat Donovan’s best friend signs her up for an online dating site, she gets much more than she expected. She stumbles upon the profile of her ex-fiancé who left her 18 years ago right around the same time that her father was murdered. Kat has never had closure on either of these situations and is now more determined than ever to get to the bottom of things. While investigating her father’s murder, she meets up with a young man who insists that his mother is missing and something bad has happened to her. Kat starts looking into her disappearance and finds out that his mother has supposedly gone off to another country with Kat’s ex fiancé after meeting him on the same online dating site where Kat found him. Devastated that she has missed her chance to find out why her fiancé left her all those years ago, she continues to try to find both of them. What she ends up finding is way more than she bargained for.

This suspense thriller moves along at a very fast pace and keeps you guessing right up to the very end. A++


Order in Bibz.

Rock & Roll and the 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees

Every year, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducts musicians in the genre to their renowned list. This year, Brodart has compiled titles pertaining to the 2014 inductees. Whether exploring the history of rock and roll, delving deeper into a band you love,  or simply browsing this area of music as a change of pace, these books will keep readers engaged and wanting more. View the entire list here.

Archie Meets Kiss by Alex Seguraarchie meets kiss

Rock legends, KISS, teams up with Archie and friends to rid Riverdale of a monster invasion! Fans of both KISS and Archie will love this winning combination of characters and thrilling story line. The graphic novel features an enhanced cover and extras including art sketches. Learn more and order here.

The History of Rock & Roll by Hal Marcovitzthe history of rock and roll

Rock & Roll is more than just a genre of music. The societal impact that rock and roll served in America is described in this title by Hal Marcovitz. By influencing the civil rights movement, technology companies, and social relevance to popular music, rock and roll paved the way for music to play a key part in American culture. Learn more and order here.

There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll by Lisa Robinsonthere goes gravity

Music journalist, Lisa Robinson, takes readers on a wild ride into the lives and personalities of rock’s biggest stars. As the only woman with access to the boy’s club, Robinson’s portrayal of the gritty rock and roll lifestyle is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Learn more and order here.

I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll (Except When I Hate It) by Brian Boonei love rock and roll

Brian Boone plays devil’s advocate in I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll (Except When I Hate It) by examining both the good and bad of the genre. By celebrating the music and acts of genius performed by the musicians, Boone portrays a positive light on the genre while also portraying the entertaining bad ideas that the musicians followed through on. Learn more and order here.

Post Navigation