Archive for the ‘Eliza’s Reviews’ Category
2010 was an eventful year for the Lake Bluff Library—we got a new director, said goodbye to two long-time staff members, expanded our collection to include digital formats, and made plans to move forward with building improvements in the coming year. And of course, there were books. The Lake Bluff Library staff would like to share some of our favorite books that we read in 2010.
Carlen’s Top Reads of 2010
Fordlandia by Greg Grandin (2009—Adult Nonfiction): Very well-received adult non-fiction! Great for guys!
As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins (2010—Juvenile Fiction): Teen loses cell phone reception, disaster ensues.
Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill (2009—Teen Fiction): Crazy and humorous! Teen girl “Bug” finds out her car, a classic 1958 Cadillac, is actually owned by the Devil. It’s a literal wild ride to save Bug’s soul and to keep her car!
Stitches by David Small (2009—Teen Fiction): Perfect balance of striking artwork and a heart-wrenching story line. This would be a great read for people who have not read a graphic novel before. It’s also a great book for adults, even though we have it in teen. (See full review here).
Solomon’s Thieves by Jordan Mechner (2009—Teen Fiction): The Crusades meet the graphic novel. Good artwork, and not “girly.”
Fables by Bill Willingham (2003—Teen Fiction): All your favorite fairy tale characters now living in the present but unknown by regular humans (Mundys). The first book is a murder-mystery (exciting)! The storyline increases in depth and keeps the reader interested in the following novels.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (2009—Teen Fiction): A harrowing, realistic view of anorexia from the victim herself. Very well-written and captivating.
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (2009—Adult Nonfiction): Marathon runner McDougall examines human evolution with regards to running. The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico can run for hundreds of miles. Also a good guy read!
Donna’s Top Reads of 2010
Stuff of Legend by Mike Raicht (2010—Juvenile Graphic Fiction): In 1944, a young boy is kidnapped by the Bogeyman who takes him to the realm of the Dark. His playthings join forces to rescue him. Outstanding graphics; its themes of camaraderie, betrayal, bitterness, and redemption make this a page turner for all ages. (Recommended: 5th grade and up).
Forever Friends by Carin Berger (2010—Juvenile Picture Book): In the spring, a bluebird wakes a rabbit and they play together every day until the fall comes and it’s time for the bird to fly south with a promise to return in the spring. (Recommended: preschool and up).
Chi’s Sweet Home series by Konami Kanata (2004—Juvenile Graphic Fiction): This series is for cat lovers and manga lovers. It shows the adventures of the most obnoxiously cute kitten ever who finds a new home with a loving family. (Recommended: 3rd grade and up).
We are in a Book by Mo Willems (2010—Juvenile Early Reader): The genius of Mo Willems shines through in his latest addition to the Piggy and Elephant series. The main characters come to life as the reader magically enters the book. (Recommended: kindergarten and up).
Eliza’s Top Reads of 2010
Enola Holmes and the Case of the Gypsy Goodbye by Nancy Springer (2010—Juvenile Fiction): The final installment of Enola Holmes, who solves the puzzles and ciphers around her mothers disappearance while trying to stay under the radar of her older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock.
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (1937—Juvenile Fiction)—Poirot is a really enjoyable character to follow through the classic beautifully wrought whodunits of Agatha Christie. Love triangles, jilted exes, follies of the rich and murder are on the menu for this one.
Middlemarch by George Eliot (1872—Adult Fiction)—Exquisite use of language and layered stories piled high with rich and extremely complex, flawed but sympathetically human characters. This story follows several families in a small town at a time of change.
At Home by Bill Bryson (2010—Adult Nonfiction): I would read anything this man writes, as he traces history’s footsteps through the house.
Eric’s Top Reads of 2010
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (2010–Juvenile Fiction): Overcame the middle book slump of Catching Fire to provide a gripping conclusion that defied (rather than caved into) series expectations.
Slow Horses by Mitch Herron (2010–Adult Fiction): It’s that rare espionage thriller that gets the balance exactly right: the characters are allowed to be credibly intelligent spies and are given a credibly thorny problem that they unravel in a well paced and believable way. (See Eric’s full review here).
Echo by Jack McDevitt (2010–Adult Fiction): This is just a great series in general, with archeologists and collectors studying the history of a space traveling humankind 10,000 years from now. (For Eric’s full review, click here).
Work Song by Ivan Doig (2010–Adult Fiction): Okay, so this is the sequel to Whistling Season and if you’ve read that, you can’t pass on this. It stands on its own well enough, though, and Morris Morgan is a fantastic protagonist.
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (2009–Adult Fiction): This is a very hit-or-miss book, love or hate, but it worked for me. I liked the universality of the novel and the slow unfolding of the story in lovingly described everyday scenes. (See Eric’s review here; for Carlen’s review, click here).
Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems (2010–Juvenile Picture Book): Another book that not everyone loves, but it really worked for me. On the one hand, it’s a story about sharing and how in giving something away it’s possible to end up with more than you had ever imagined. It’s also a tale of growing up, putting away childhood things, and then finding them again when you have children of your own.
Martha’s Top Reads of 2010
The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson (1982—Teen Fiction): The wit and charm of the prose and the well-rounded ensemble of characters made this novel delightfully entertaining and really showcased Ibbotson’s talent with words.
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (2009—Adult Fiction): Cherie Priest does incredible justice to an almost dangerously inventive premise. The characters are vivid and the alternate history is well executed and rather strangely realistic. (See full review here).
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2009—Adult Nonfiction): An intensely vivid account of a Syrian American business owner in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (2007—Adult Nonfiction): I came away from this book wanting to raise my own chickens and farm the front lawn. Highly recommended for fans of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman (2009—Teen Fiction): Poignant, thoughtful, and utterly heartbreaking, If I Stay is a beautiful examination of family relationships. Break out the Kleenex box for this one. (See full review here).
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart (2005—Juvenile Fiction): Ruby Oliver is laugh-out-loud funny, intensely relatable, and a wonderfully well-drawn character. E. Lockhart is a talented author who effortlessly captures the spirit, diction, and drama of high school. (See full review here).
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater (2009—Teen Fiction): Sequel to Stiefvater’s Lament (see my review here). I loved Lament, but Ballad was even better. Stiefvater’s take on Celtic mythology is compelling and the narration is beautifully written and uniquely voiced.
Matt’s Top Reads of 2010
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris (2010—Adult Nonfiction)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (2010—Adult Fiction)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2008—Juvenile Fiction)
The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins (2009—Adult Nonfiction)
Fever Dream by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (2010—Adult Fiction)
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (2003—Adult Nonfiction)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (2010—Juvenile Fiction)
Regina’s Top Reads of 2010
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride (2010—Teen Fiction): Funniest horror story I’ve ever read; clever, suspenseful, and witty.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847—Adult Fiction): Brilliant! First Gothic romance of Western literature laced with proto-feminist ideals.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (2010—Teen Fiction): For those who love a dark, truly creepy tale. (See full review here).
Bruiser by Neil Shusterman (2010—Teen Fiction): Raises compelling ethical questions of friendship and sacrifice. (See full review here).
Big Bear Hug by Nicholas Oldland (2009—Juvenile Picture Book): Laugh-out-loud illustrations accompany gentle message.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (2009—Juvenile Fiction): Gentle, thoughtful rendering of life of 12 year old Callie at the turn of the last century.
Guys Read: Funny Business edited by Jon Scieszka (2010—Juvenile Fiction): Compilation of short stories written by guys for guys. Will appeal to anyone who is a brother, has a brother, been a father, mother, or grandparent, or has male friend—in other words, everyone!
Dr. De Soto by William Steig (1982—Juvenile Picture Book): Classic about the clever mice who out-fox the fox!
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger (1961—Adult Fiction): Salinger’s classic about two members of the gifted Glass family explores themes of Zen Buddhism, Christianity, modern psychology, and spiritual growth.
Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile (2009—Juvenile Picture Book): two boys attempt to “do nothing” but their imaginations get in the way.
List compiled by Martha
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
1960′s South Carolina. Following the death of her mother, 14-year-old Lily is mostly raised by the servant Rosaleen. After Lily’s abusive father, T. Ray, batters Rosaleen for defending her right to vote, Lily and Rosaleen flee. They are led only by a note written on the back of one of Lily’s mother’s possessions. They find refuge with the “Calender sisters”, three bee-keeping sisters cloistered in a close-knit community where Lily finds happiness for the first time in years and can finally begin to confront the demons in her past.
We Are All Welcome Here, by Elizabeth Berg
1964, Tupelo, Mississippi. Polio-victim Paige Dunn and her 13-year-old daughter, Diana, work hard to stay under the radar. Social services barely cover the costs of the around-the-clock care that Paige requires, and Diana has taken the responsibilities for the night shift. Paige’s daytime caregiver, Peacie, is fiercely protective of Paige, and has no patience for Diana’s adolescent urges for freedom. But when LaRue, Peacie’s boyfriend, gets into trouble for helping to register black voters, the situation heats up…
Mudbound, by Hilary Jordan
1946. Life on a Mississippi Delta farm, aptly named Mudbound, is a struggle for Memphis-bred college educated Laura, who juggles the rearing of her two young children, her earth-loving husband, Henry, and the moving in of Henry’s deeply bigoted father. Things become slightly easier for her when she finds a friend in Florence, the hired help and wife of one of their tenants. When Henry’s brother, Jamie, and Florence’s son, Ronsel, return from the war in Europe, both changed men, and each with their own demons, the delicate balance Laura managed to attain is threatened.
Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
1791. Irish Lavinia arrives at Tall Oaks plantation in Virginia to work as an indentured servant. As an orphaned child, she works in the kitchen house under Belle, the owner’s illegitimate daughter, and comes to love the slaves as her own family, but struggles because she can never fully fit in. Over the course of two decades, we watch as the social order of the plantation changes with the deaths, marriages and events of history.
Queen of Palmyra, by Minrose Gwin
1963, Millwood, Mississippi. Florence is mostly ignored by her father, Win, an abusive insurance salesman and leader of the local Klan, and her hard drinking mother. Instead, she is constantly being shuttled between her grandparents and their black housekeeper, Zenie (short for Zenobia, ancient queen of Palmyra). Tension mounts in Millwood when Zenie’s pretty niece, Eva, arrives to sell insurance to raise money for college.
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother by James McBride
Ruthie Shilsky McBride Jordan had a rough childhood. She was born an Orthodox Jew born in Poland to an abusive father and a caring mother who’s crippled by polio. They moved to America and settled in rural Virginia, where Ruth was shunned by the white and black community alike because of her Jewish heritage and her father’s unfair business practices. At 19, she escaped, moved to New York, and fell in love with Rev. Andrew McBride at a time when mixed marriages were universally frowned upon. Through his influence, Ruth became a devout Baptist and found a place for faith in her life. She manages to raise her twelve children in hardscrabble lower income Brooklyn and Queens with a firm and loving hand, infusing in them the importance of education and faith. McBride alternates chapters between his mother’s life and his own childhood, and coming to terms with his mixed-race heritage.
Black Boy by Richard Wright
The autobiographical tale of Richard Wright’s difficult youth from rural Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee. Abandoned by his father at a very young age, Richard is subsequently bounced from relative to relative, mother to grandmother, aunt to uncle, with a brief period in an orphanage. Though rarely in school, he manages to procure an education and devours classic literature. The book chronicles his attempts to better himself through various jobs and save enough money to go to the promised North.
If you want something a little different…
Conception by Kalisha Buckhanon
15-year-old Shivana believes black women all have one fate: get pregnant young by a man who won’t stick around. So when she becomes pregnant by the married father of the children she babysits, it’s hardly a surprise to her. As she explores her options and negotiates with her mother, she finds herself falling for the new boy in the building, Rasul. Shivana daydreams that a better future may be possible. Woven into the narrative is the spirit voice of Shivana’s unborn child, a soul who has been waiting to be born for a very long time.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was at the forefront of the 1930′s Harlem Renaissance movement and a specialist in African-American folklore. She mixed standard English with very colloquial dialogue, a move that earned her equal parts praise and criticism. Their Eyes Were Watching God follows Janie Crawford on her quest for fulfillment, a life-long journey that takes many relationships, friendship and romance alike, before she can get everything that she needs.
If you want something very different…
Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo
Nigerian-British Evaristo inverts expectations in Blonde Roots, re-imagining history if Aphrika were the dominating world power, and enslaving the peoples of Europa. Readers follow the story of Doris Scagglethorpe, daughter of a cabbage farmer, her capture and journey to slavery, and then her struggle towards freedom. Bonus: this is also the September book for Carol’s Tuesday afternoon book group. It will be discussed on Tuesday, September 21st at 1:30 PM.
With Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy capturing attention world wide, more eyes are turning to Sweden. But Stieg Larsson is just one in a long tradition of Scandinavian Mystery Writers. Here are some of the Scandinavian Mystery writers you can find at Lake Bluff Library:
Swedish. Åke Edwardson is a three-time winner of the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Award for best crime novel. Sun and Shadow follows Sweden’s youngest chief inspector, Erik Winter, as he tries to solve a grisly double-murder that is threatening his city, Gothenberg, Sweden, and may yet prove more personal than even that.
Norwegian. Known in her own country as “the Norwegian queen of crime”, she reigns with convoluted plots and complex characters in her Inspector Sejer mysteries.
Icelandic. In 2004, his novels made up seven of the ten most popular books checked out at Reykjavík City Library. He has won a Glass Key Award, a literature prize for the best Nordic crime fiction, and a Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger for his novels.
Swedish. The Inner Circle is set on the island of Gotland, Sweden. Inspector Anders Knutas is presented with the ritualistic infused murder of an archeology student, and the novel had themes borrowed from the sagas of the past.
Swedish. In her debut, The Ice Princess, Camilla Läckberg chronicles how secrets can never stay buried, and silence can kill the soul. It won France’s 2008 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for Best International Crime Novel.
Swedish. She won Sweden’s Best First Crime Novel when she introduced Rebecka Martinsson, a tax lawyer who gets drawn back to her hometown of Kiruna. In The Blood Spilt, Martinsson gets called back to Kiruna after the murder of a feminist priest who has as many enemies as friends.
Swedish. International Bestselling author of the Millennium Trilogy, Larsson chronicles the dynamic duo of Mikael Blomkvist, a daring journalist and amateur sleuth, and Lisbeth Salander, a gritty and independently minded hacker with her own brand of justice, as they confront modern injustices.
Swedish. Popular bestselling author Henning Mankell is very politically active. His mystery series, following Inspector Kurt Wallander, have won many awards, including the German Crime Prize, and the British CWA Gold Dagger.
Norwegian. Nesbø is primarily famous for his Harry Hole mystery series, but he also moonlights as the lead singer and songwriter for the Norwegian band Di Derre.
Håkan Nesser Norwegian. He has won the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times, and the Glass Key. He has lived in Upsalla, New York and London. His character, Van Veeteren, lives in the ficticious city of Maardam, located in an unspecified North European country that resembles Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany.
Anders Roslund/Borge Hellström are a Swedish crime writing duo.
Roslund is a journalist, and Hellström is the founder of an organization that focuses on crime prevention. Together they write novels that invert the norms to question the source of a crime.