The Library Book by Susan Orlean

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Read The Library Book by Susan Orlean!  It’s an account of a fire in the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986 and its aftermath.  It brings together research on arson and a suspected arsonist with a love of libraries and commentary on libraries and society.  It’s suspenseful, witty and full of intriguing real life characters. (Submitted by Kristen)

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Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

Image result for inheritance dani shapiroMany people in the last few years have inadvertently opened a “pandora’s box” by taking a DNA test. Some take it for curiosity, some take it because they were given it as a gift, and why not?  Then to find out that biologically they are not who they think they are can be quite a shock. This author has to come to terms that what she pictured as her “family unit” is an altogether different picture. Her journey of discovery as to the how, the why, and what to do now; is one of emotion, and trepidation.  Privacy issues, religious questions and ethical mysteries are rampant.  This memoir is a fair, honest recollection of the process this author took to make sense of her personal nature vs nurture situation and subsequent identity crisis. (Submitted by Jamie)

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A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

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A quiet, unassuming novel that was completely excellent. “Christina’s World” is an iconic American painting from the mid-20 century by Andrew Wyeth. It’s famous for it’s so-called “magic realism” style. At first glance, the girl in the painting is simply sitting in the grass, titled towards the farmhouse. Upon closer inspection, however, there is a sense of eeriness and foreboding: the girls’ arms are too thin and sickly, she is twisted at a wrong angle, the farmhouse is ghostly, and the placement of her hand on the grass suggests both yearning and escape.

The painting triggered many questions, but most of all, people asked this: who IS Christina?

Kline has written a beautifully wrought story here, about Christina’s life, historical American farm life, and living life with a disability. She has balanced these elements of the story so well. I was blown away by the depth of emotions conveyed in her elegant, concise language. The research and facts behind the fiction are clear – everything is believable. Not only does the truth come through, it was fascinating.

Such a wonderful, enjoyable, interesting read. Just like the original painting, there is so much more to Christina Olson’s world going on beneath the surface; beyond what you see at first glance. (Submitted by Veronica)

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The Humans by Matt Haig

Image result for the humans by matt haigI listened to the audiobook: The Humans by Matt Haig. This is the story of an alien who comes to earth and assumes the likeness of a mathematics professor in order to prevent that professor from a mathematical discovery which may have catastrophic impact on the universe. At first, the alien is repulsed by humanity and does not understand the meaning behind even the most basic human interactions. However, as his mission extends, he is drawn into the emotional depth of human interactions. He starts to appreciate music and poetry and develop deeper relationships with the family of the man he’s disguised as.

This book was extremely amusing at times and at other times, extremely poignant. It was really interesting to hear perceptions of humanity from an (albeit fictitious) alien perspective. A lively and entertaining read, I would highly recommend The Humans. (Submitted by Seline)

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The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

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Wonderful characters and a unique crisis make this novel an enticing read, but solid writing and a great plot will keep you reading to the end. Single mom, Janie, struggles to keep herself together and protect her four year-old son, Noah, as his bizarre behaviour destroys their lives. Noah panics when Janie tries to wash him, constantly shares information that he can’t possibly know, and begs to be returned to his real home and mom. In desperation Janie contacts Dr. Jerome Anderson, whose life and career is ending tragically, creating an alliance that offers hope and resolution for them all. Supernatural elements are intelligently explored and rooted in research so the mystery is solid and believable. I strongly recommend this captivating story (Submitted by Pippa).

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Wrecked by Joe Ide

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This is the 3rd book in the IQ mystery series and it holds together really well. Like the first two books, I have to get over some of the violence and language used, but I keep coming back. I still find Isaiah Quintabe, IQ, a believable and relatable character, and the world he moves in, his ‘hood’, is filled with gangs and grandmothers, those that are homeless and those that are damaged, families and individuals, all trying to either get by or fight their way through life.

The author grew up in the same part of the Los Angeles as the book’s setting and his description of streets and houses and strip malls bring you right there. Now I just have to be patient for book number four to come out. (Submitted by Renee)

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Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

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In Etaf Rum’s debut novel, A Woman is No Man, we are introduced to three generations of Palestinian-American women who are all tied down to tradition and culture. Isra is the girl from Palestine who gets married off to an American and shuttled away to Brooklyn, New York. There, she battles her dreams of a better life in America, one where women are valued and not subservient to their husbands. But her new mother-in-law Fareeda is just as traditional as her own mother, pressuring her to have a son and disregarding the daughters that Isra eventually bears, including the first born, Deya. But perhaps it is Deya who will finally manage to find that balance between being Arab and American and breaks free from the tight constraints of a patriarchal mindset, through the use of books and the discovery of secrets long kept hidden…

This was an enthralling read that had me hooked from the very first chapter. Etaf Rum seamlessly invites us into a world we may or may not be familiar with. This world will horrify you and sadden you, but ultimately it will provide you with hope that a better world may be on its way. Jumping between timelines and characters, Woman is No Man depicts the voices of women who have been silenced for far too long. (Submitted by Alan)

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