Archived Staff Picks - July 2016
All Summer Long
by Dorothea Benton Frank
Recommended by Marilyn
A decent summer read...
Dorothea Benton Frank's magical stories take us deep into the heart of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry. In her novels, this lush landscape comes alive in all its vibrancy and color. She ignites all of our senses with her vivid descriptions of landscape and atmosphere. In her novels you hear the ocean washing the shore on different islands so profoundly that you can nearly hear the sea gulls squawking too.
This is a story of people whose lives are changing--a southern gentleman returning home to lead a more peaceful life and his talented New York wife who is not quite sure she is ready to make the transition. They are moving north to south, fast pace vs slow pace, downsizing. And while they are doing this, they are getting glimpses into other people's lives over the course of a summer, holidays that will amuse, shock and transform them.
This irresistible story is home to captivating characters as funny, complicated, and real as our best friends--husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, friends and family who wrestle with the complexities, pain, and joys familiar to us all.
Finally, we'll come to recognize the face of love, the kind that deepens and endures but only because one woman makes a tremendous leap of faith. That leap changes them all.
This title is available in Regular Print, Large Print, Book on CD, Downloadable eBook and AudioBook formats.
This review is from www.goodreads.com.
By Haruki Murakami
Recommended by Robert
Let's just start by saying that this is not a quick, easy read. It's over 900 pages or 38 cds (I listened to the audiobook version) provide a serious challenge to the reader. We are introduced to two main characters whose narratives converge during the period of a single year. Aomane is a 30 year old personal trainer who begins the novel locked in gridlock on a Tokyo expressway and who follows her taxi driver's suggestion that she leave the taxi and walk down emergency stairs to make her next appointment. In doing so Aomane seems to have left the regular world and have entered a parallel universe with police donning different uniforms and carrying different guns. The beautiful 30 year old Aomane also works as an assassin for a reclusive dowager, exerting revenge upon abusive men. Tengo is a 30 year old cram school math teacher and unpublished author who has been approached with a special project by his agent. He has been asked to ghostwrite a novel written by an enigmatic 17 year old Fuka-Eri which promptly wins prizes and becomes a bestseller.
As shy ten year olds, Aomane and Tengo had a brief, hand holding moment which has affected each deeply. While both hoped for an opportunity to reconnect, the lives of each moved in other directions. Now, the novel "Air Chrysalis" has stirred forces that are bringing their lives closer together in this alternate universe with two moons. (only Aomane and Tengo seem to notice this) Fuka-Eri has escaped the Sakigake cult and has written a book which speaks of "Little People" which dominates the cult's world. The cult's leader has sex with a group of pre-teen girls as the way to interface with the "Little People". This will attract the attention of the dowager who summons Aomane to right this grievous wrong. Meanwhile, the success of Air Chrysalis has attracted the attention of the cult. They employ a strange, unattractive former lawyer as a private investigator to reach Fula-Eri and Tengo. Eventually, Tengo and Aomane become aware of each other possible proximity. Will they be able to reconnect or will the sinister forces of this parallel universe of IQ 84 destroy them?
In this novel, we meet a variety of characters who affect Tengo's and Aomane's journey. These include a promiscuous female police officer, a mild-mannered but ruthlessly efficient bodyguard, an insistent but never seen television fee collector, and Tengo's distant dying father. Murakami has ably welded a variety of genres such as dystopian fantasy, romance, thriller and epic to create a very challenging , but impressive piece of work. But don't expect all the loose threads to be tied; Murakami novels do not always work that way.
This title is available in Regular Print, Book on CD and Downloadabke eBook formats.
The Invention of Wings
By Sue Monk Kidd
Recommended by Pauline
From the author of The Secret Life of Bees, this novel is inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke who was from a wealthy 19th Century plantation-owning Charleston family and who had known from an early age she was meant to do something large in the world, but she was hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.
The story is set in motion on Sarah's eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Hetty "Handful" Grimke, a slave who yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the Grimke household. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other's destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women's rights movements.
Kidd goes beyond the historical record to flesh out the rich lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, and highlights that devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.
This title is available in Regular Print, Large Print, Book on CD, Downloadable Audiobook and eBook formats.
A Walk in the Woods - DVD
Recommended by Kim
Travel writer Bill Bryson (Robert Redford), instead of retiring to enjoy his loving and beautiful wife (Emma Thompson) and large and happy family, challenges himself to hike the Appalachian Trail - 2,200 miles of America's most unspoiled, spectacular and rugged countryside from Georgia to Maine. The peace and tranquility he hopes to find, though, is anything but, once he agrees to being accompanied by the only person he can find willing to join him on his trek - his long lost and former friend Katz (Nick Nolte), a down-on-his-luck serial philanderer who, after a lifetime of relying on his charm and wits to keep one step ahead of the law - sees the trip as a way to sneak out of paying some debts and sneak into one last adventure before it is too late. The trouble is, the two have a completely different definition of the word, "adventure". Now they're about to find out that when you push yourself to the edge, the real fun begins.
I enjoyed this movie and the scenery was spectacular.
This title is available in DVD and Regular Print formats.
This review is from www.metacritic.com/movies.