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What Do I Read Next? ~ Staff Picks Archives

August 2012

We are thrilled to have our new Library Director, Chip Schrader on board and have him add his favorite summer reads to our ‘staff picks’!


Chip begins our staff picks with The Case of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd. The author takes the classic novel and paints in the details of Victor Frankenstein’s life as a student and young man who catches a compulsive need to experiment and end human suffering.  As the formative incidents of his life play out, readers who enjoyed the original novel, will appreciate why the Doctor became obsessed with reanimating the departed.The book’s language flows serenely like an old Victorian novel, and the themes of immortality and the conflict between faith and science are more fully developed in this version of the tale.  The characters are vivid and believable while the story anchors it flights into fantasy with scientific inquiry and fact.


Dawn’s and Marie’s favorite book of the summer is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.   Flynn’s story really keeps you guessing and Marie is still trying to figure out how she felt about the two main characters.  They both liked this book so much that they read two earlier works by the author – Sharp Objects and Dark Places.  Both books were well written and pretty creepy!


The Submission by Amy Waldman begins with a jury gathering in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack.  The jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner’s name—and discover he is an American Muslim.  Dawn visited the 9/11 memorial in April and this book and The Woman Who Wasn’t There by Robin Gabby Fisher were both in her mind during this very emotional visit.


What would happen if the world started turning slower and our days became 30 hours long and kept getting longer? This is the premise of the book The Age Of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, Marie’s second favorite book of the summer.  Walker follows the life of a twelve year old girl and sees this hypothetical future through her eyes in this compelling novel.  Dawn also loved this book and has been recommending this quick read to people.


Marie also adds to her extensive readinglist three good books that had the common theme of the sinking of the Titanic. In The House Of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe, the main character, Sibyl, suffers the loss of her mother and sister who were passengers on the Titanic. That loss opens the way for Sibyl’s exploration of the spiritual world and the mysteries that follow.  The Dress Maker by Kate Alcott is a work of historical fiction that follows the trials that occurred after the survivors of the Titanic arrived in New York.  Many of the characters from that novel were written about in the nonfiction work Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic’s First-Class Passengers and Their World by Hugh Brewster. 



During Marie’s vacation earlier this summer, she had the chance to catch up on two older titles in a series written by Maine resident Paul Doiron.   The Poacher’s Son and Trespasser were two strong mysteries centered on the adventures of Maine game warden Mike Bowditch.  Doiron’s newest title in the series, Bad Little Falls, is coming out in August and she can’t wait to read it!


Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed are two autobiographical works by strong women.  Lawson’s book is hilarious.  Her sense of humor is dark and quirky and Marie found herself laughing out loud at times.  She has always enjoyed books about the Appalachian Trail, so she picked up Wild.  Even though she liked the book, shewished Strayed had written more about the trail and less about her history. 


Sheila D. has two recommendations from the Young Adult Area which will be appealing to adults.  For those who are enjoying twisted fairy tales, she suggests Cinder by Meyer.  In this futuristic play on Cinderella, Cinder is a Cyborg mechanic who wins the Prince’s attention and must deal with her hidden past while trying to solve daily betrayals.  For a more historically based YA novel, try  Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Compestine. In this quick, but deeply moving read, 9 year old Ling blossoms over a 4 year time while surviving the horrors of the Chinese Revolution.  The story is based on true events in the author’s experience.


Mystery lovers will want to try any books in the Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series by Donna Leon.  The setting is Venice, Italy and Guido is such a down to earth, intelligent Inspector.  When reading these mysteries, you can hear the lapping of the water and smell the fresh Venetian cooking on the breeze. 


Aleida’s list also named Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunettimystery series along with the following biographies: Consuelo and Alve Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age by Amanda M. Stuart, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier by Thaddeus Carhart and Victoria’s Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard.


Visit us and let us know what your summer favorites are!!

 Dawn Brown

Staff Picks are brought to you by Dawn Brown as she hounds the staff for submissions for your reading pleasure.

March 2012

Lots of changes here at Springvale Library over the past few months!!  As many of you know Karen, our Library Director, is now the Director at South Berwick Public Library.  We will miss her additions to our ‘staff picks’ but will still pick her brain once in a while and add her favorites to our list.  We are excited that Marcia, Marlene and Gus have rejoined our staff part-time and will be adding picks to the mix.


Dawn suggests Stephen King’s new one 11-23-63.  This honking 600 page book involves the interesting subject of time travel.  What happens if Lee Harvey Oswald hadn’t assassinated President Kennedy?  There are two other titles that have become Dawn’s most recommended The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey and Defending Jacob by William Landry.  New titles are also out by Kristen Hannah and Tatiana de Rosnay would be fun to pick up for a quick read.

Marie states that this winter hasn’t been the best for getting a lot of reading done.  Holiday knitting took up most of her time but she did discover Miss Read’s books The Christmas Mouse and Village Christmas. They took her back to another era and put her in the holiday spirit!  She also enjoyed The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman.  It is a bit different from her other books, but well worth the time and effort spent reading it.  Set in 70 C.E., The Dovekeepers tells the intertwined stories of four women living through a Roman siege in a community of Jewish refugees at King Herrod’s former mountain fortress on Masada.  Right now, she is reading Pure by Julianna Baggott and she is enthralled.  It has a very similar feel to The Hunger Games trilogy because it is a

coming-of-age story set in a dystopian future.  Pure is also the first in a planned trilogy.


Gus Hedden read Lee Child’s The Affair. “What more do I need to say? Jack is back!”

He suggests going to the facebook page “Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher” to check in on whether or not Tom should play Jack in the upcoming movie “One Shot”. 

FYI, Jack Reacher is 6’5” and weighs between 230-250 pounds…..


Marcia adds to our list Distant Hours by Kate Morton.  In this classic gothic novel, London book editor Edie Burchill gets lost on the way to meet an author, and stumbles upon a decaying castle.  This is a satisfying read with surprising revelations.


Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George is a winner and her fans won’t be disappointed Marcia tells us.  Inspector Lynley Simon , Deborah St. James and all the familiar characters are back in this mystery dealing with secrets and lies!  A fun read!


 “Making Sense of the Civil War” is a program sponsored by The Maine Humanities Council, in collaboration with the Maine State Library.  Springvale Public Library applied and was accepted as a host for this program. David St. Pierre read the first assignment March by Gereldine Brooks. He described the book as a very good story told from the fathers point of view from Louise Alcott’s Little Women and his life prior to and during the civil war.  Vivid scenes of the atrocities of war might make this book difficut for some to read David warns, but it is a story that will stay with you after you have finished it.

October 2011

tells us about four books from her summer reading list;


Summer of the Bear by  Bella Pollen has a touch of atmosphere, a  touch of intrigue, a family of 4 grieving for the missing 5th, , all in their separate desperate ways, and a touch of Outer Hebrides Scottish magic.  A quiet, yet compelling and satisfying stand-alone novel.  I loved it.


Once Upon  a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell is a modern day female survival story which makes it like every other survival story except that it could be happening down the road and you would never more than suspect what was happening.  How does a girl turn into a woman, all on her own, with no support she doesn’t earn through grit and stamina?  This is how.


Keep a dictionary handy when you read short, not so sweet, but rich, The Summer without Men by Siri Hustvedt.  Mia is betrayed by her husband of many years so she takes a summer job far from New York City to reassess her situation.  I loved the literary quotes, I loved the characters, I loved the words I didn’t know and how the writer talked to me!  Playful, loving, and tight!  Dawn and Marie also enjoyed this short novel.


From the sunset over the water on the cover to the bittersweet end , To be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal is beautiful, lyrical, and full of quiet revelations that unfold in the stories of two people whose lives converge and separate until they finally blend together.   Settle down and immerse yourself in the brilliant storytelling of this lovely and heartbreaking novel.


Sheila Dube


Sheila’s mid-western roots were showing with this go around of books she picked.  Michigan and Chicago were the setting for the following two gems.


Short Girls by Bich Nguyen –This 2009 debut novel is about 2 American-born Vietnamese sisters who are forced to confront their own fragile relationships, character flaws and strengths when they are called home to celebrate their widowed father’s citizenship ceremony.  The drama and humor results from their Mid-western environment colliding with their Vietnamese heritage and short stature.  It stayed with me days after.


Divergent by Veronica Roth-Fans of Hunger Games by Collins and Matched by Conley will want to read this new young adult novel.  This Dystopian thriller’s setting is Chicago where people are divided into 5 different groups based on their most likely character: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice, a sixteen year old finds that who she is appears to be less cut and dry.  A page turner that promises to be a trilogy.




Dawn adds to the list with the following titles:  The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka is a tiny book of only 129 pages but it packs a punch.  It’s about Japanese ‘picture brides’ and it follows them from their scary arrival in San Francisco to the internment camps during WWII.  Marie is looking forward to reading this as she read the author’s first book, When the Emperor Was Divine which she describes as a  powerful and simply written story also dealing with the Japanese-American interment of World War II.


Chevy Stevens follows the disturbing debut of Still Missing with another edge of your seat novel in Never Knowing.  How would you handle finding out that your birth mother is the only survivor of a serial killer still on the loose??  And now that killer is after you!! 


On Folly Beach by Karen White is a book that has so much to it….  A family mystery, a southern location,  an old book store, Nancy Drew references, a lost love and a love of family that is heart warming.  And this book inspired Dawn’s book group to create their own Bottle Tree!!  We all loved it and it was a great summer read!


Dawn also adds to her list another favorite Sister  by Rosamund Lupton.  This gripping novel explores the bonds between sisters.  I loved it and couldn’t wait to discuss this with others!!  Get ready for the spring release of her 2nd novel Afterwards which is sure to create a buzz.




Marie’s list includes the very popular The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Though it doesn’t go in depth with regard to characters, this is a gorgeous novel with a lot of dark imagery.  Another title that is described as ‘disturbing with a few dark twists thrown in’ is The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman.  It reads a bit like a fairy tale.


Also titles: 

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is an intricate and imaginative story about the effects 9/11 had on a family and a childhood. 


Claire DeWitt And The City Of The Dead (Sara Gran) “liked this novel for its quirky character of Claire DeWitt and sense of place in post-Katrina New Orleans


This Life Is In Your Hands (Melissa Coleman) “memoir about growing up in a family homesteading in Maine.  A serious and sad look behind an ideal way of life.”


Flashback (Dan Simmons) and 2030 (Albert Brooks) “two books about the future in the U.S., both believable with a few similarities. Both are thought provoking, with Flashback having a stronger story”


A Visit From The Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan) “very readable mix of fun characters. 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction.”




Susie finishes up our list with The Race by Clive Cussler; an adventure in the early years of flying.  The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spenser Quinn and Dragon’s Time by Anne McCaffrey. 


We love to hear what you’re reading so we may pass suggestions on to others!!

June 2011

Karen ~ Christine Falls by Benjamin Black
by Lisa Napoli
                Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Sheila ~  Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Jacobson
Dawn ~  State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Our summer reading programs began this week ...  the adult reading program is "Novel Destinations".  Ask at the main desk for information on this fun program!!

May 2011


It’s always interesting when the staff finds a book that sparks so much discussion and this time the book is Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.  The setting is a failing alligator theme park in the Everglades and hosts a tough young heroine with a dead mother, an ambitious brother, an absent father and a big problem: how to save her big sister from eloping with a ghost.  Sound strange? It is!!  Karen found this book so different but she loved Russell’s descriptions of the Florida Keys, the quirky characters and the dreamy way the plot was strung together. She passed the book along to her husband who thought the book was awful!  Marie agreed with Karen… and Dawn… thought it was TOO weird and found huge gaps in the story that just didn’t make sense to the overall plot. Still a satisfying read that should be considered.  We think it would be a great book club pick!


Karen enjoyed reading Slam by Nick Hornby.  Hornby is a British writer whose endearing and imperfect male characters stumble their way through some kind of crisis.  The movie About a Boy was based on his novel.


Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of the Captives by award winning journalist Thomas French is an intimate look at the people, animals, and politics of world-renowned Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Florida.  Karen thought that this book read easily and it creates a thoughtful platform for thinking about all kinds of issues; from animal rights and endangered species to business management and exploitation.


Dawn and Marie both enjoyed The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown and The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard. Both of these explored family relationships in an easy-to-read way.  The Weird Sisters is about three sisters and their odd quirks based on ‘birth order’.  Rose, the oldest, is a faultfinding control freak.  Bean, the middle sister, is a promiscuous attention seeker and Cordy, the youngest, simply refuses to grow up.  Dawn was amused by this book as she has two older sisters… and the family’s nickname for the oldest is “The Colonel”.  Not sure if the characters of the other two sisters would fit.  : )   Does Dawn refuse to grow up??? Hmmmm  Very thought provoking.


One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd  by Jim Fergus is an American western with a strange twist.  It is the fictional account of the participation of May Dodd and others in the controversial "Brides for Indians" program that was proposed but never put into effect.  This story is ‘what if’ if had been this had actually happened.  Dawn found it very interesting and a quick read. 


Other titles that Dawn enjoyed were The Immortal Live of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, Great House by Nicole Krauss, Honolulu by Alan Brennert and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.


Marie has been busy reading and her list consists of a variety of topics.  She finally read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and comments that she discovered all the good things that she heard about this novel were true.  Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli disappointed her somewhat as she described it as a bit incomplete although she did appreciate learning about the culture in Bhutan from a first person view. She thoroughly enjoyed T.C. Boyle’s When the Killing’s Done and will be reading more by this author.  She liked his writing style and exploration of two environmental issues that seem like they should go together but were actually at odds. 


Marie’s list continues with The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris, The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly, River Marked by Patricia Briggs and The Night Season by Chelsea Cain.


Our adult summer reading program this year will begin in June and the theme is “Novel Destinations”.   

February 2011

Karen has been inspired by our New Year’s Resolution display. In January, library staff gathered up books they have been intending to read but haven’t gotten to yet and titled it “Our New Year’s Resolution Display”.  Karen was inspired by this and finally read The 13th Valley by John Del Vecchio, which, according to her Vietnam vet brother-in-law is the most accurate portrayal of the Vietnam War from the average soldier’s point of view.  She followed that up with All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald.  This memoir of a South Boston native is an eye-opener on poverty and violence in the everyday lives of our neighbors. She also snuck in a new chick lit book by the Larson sisters, Liar Liar, which is sure to tickle fans of Janet Evanovich.  The she went back to Vietnam and is  currently reading through the newest acclaimed novel, Matterhorn, (U.S. military hilltop bases were named after peaks in the Alps in this area) by Karl Marlantes.   She’s right back in the jungle and it ain’t pretty but it is riveting.



Dawn is thoroughly enjoying her eReader (A Barnes and Noble Nook) and the ability to download titles from the Maine Download Library.  If you have a compatible device you just need your patron barcode number! A few titles that Dawn has downloaded are:  I am Number 4 by Pittacus Lore, which is soon to be a major motion picture;  The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard and Good Grief by Lolly Winston.  This service has been busy since the holidays as the eReader seems to have been a popular gift this year!


Dawn gives high praise to Room by Emma Donoghue which is a novel narrarated by a 5 year old named Jack. There is just something about the way that this child tells the story of Room and Outside that is amazing rather than irritating. She’s not sure if she would have enjoyed it as well if the story had been told from the mother’s eyes. 


Another title that receives high praise from Dawn and Susie, not soon to be forgotten, is Unbroken; A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.  This is the true story of Louis Zamperini who lives through a multitude of tragedies that you just can’t fathom.  Zamperini was a juvenile delinquent, an Olympic runner, war POW, Army hero and overall life survivor.  They both felt overwhelmed by emotions while reading it and feel that this is a story that needs to be shared with everyone.


The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey is a memoir about the appreciation of the little things in life.  It makes you slow down a bit and really think about what matters in your life… and both Dawn and Marie learned a lot about snails!  A very interesting and thought provoking book.


Marie highly recommends The World Beneath by Cate Kennedy if you want a quick, entertaining and amusing read.  This story takes place in Tasmania and revolves around an estranged father and daughter.  Marie also adds to her list Art in America by Ron McLarty, Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, Popco by Scarlett Thomas, and Body Walk by Sara Paretsky.  She also knit a cable tam from our newest knitting book Stitch N’Bitch Superstar Knitting by Debbie Stoller. 


Sheila E adds to our list The Fall by Guillermo del Toro which is the sequel to The Stain, another vampire series.  Manhatten today – the world tomorrow!!  Who will win? Vampires or mankind??  Sheila’s hint…. Odds are on the vampires!  She also thought The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart was sweet and funny.


Sheila D. recommends a young adult title, The 10 pm Question by Kate De Goldi for those who have an interest in characters that must deal with mental health issues.  The characters are believable and the family members show an array of how different issues affect families.  It is a hopeful coming of age story.  For those who like fantasy with their cup of tea and cozy mystery, Sheila suggests the cottage tales by Susan Wittig Albert. Beatrix Potter is featured in this fictionalized mystery series where the animals play a major role in the action.


It has been a very snowy winter, excellent for reading as you can see by the amount of books read!  What have you been reading through all these snowstorms?

We always enjoy coming up with a fun summer reading program for our adult patrons.  This past year we did the very popular BINGO and decided to play our own staff BINGO.  We were so thrilled with the response from our 55 patrons who played along with us and especially Cathy Lawrence for neglecting her housework to complete the entire BINGO board!!  Congratulations to Cathy and for the many others who won a ‘special’ flower pen, Springvale Library mug, Springvale Library book bag and of course, books!

For the first time ever, the staff held their very own book discussion group reading  Tinkers by Paul Harding, the most recent Pulitzer Prize winning novel.  It was fun to meet after work one evening and discuss the many complexities of this short book.  Below are some interesting comments from the staff.

             “An unusual family story told in beautiful descriptive language.” - Karen

            “ I want to be a tinker." - Marie

            Harding reminds us that even horrifically painful life circumstances can at times be eased with quick moments of
              honest humor.”  Sheila D.

            “As I lay dying…. This sums it up in a nutshell." - Sheila E.

            “One of those books that you appreciate more as you discuss it.  Not a quick read, as I found myself reading certain
              sentences over and over….” -  Dawn

             "This book will make you think about your own life." - David



I loved reading The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart.  It is a gentle, surprisingly humorous story of a couple healing from the death of a child.  It is set in the Tower of London where Balthazar Jones lives with his fellow Beefeaters (guards and docents for the Tower) and their families.  Definitely a feel good story with some wacky moments. 

If you liked A Prayer for Owen Meany and the Poisonwood Bible, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese would be a good match for your reading tastes.   Verghese is an excellent storyteller with a light touch, like Irving’s early and mid-career books.  This book is set in Ethiopia and spans 50 years in the lives of a set of twins, who almost immediately upon birth are orphaned by their parents but grow up in the loving care of an extended family in a mission hospital.  So satisfying.

I am listening to an audio book by Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked which is a laugh out loud funny romance.  How did I miss this author?

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is this year’s Newbery Award winner.  It is a complex time travel puzzle story that will have astute readers flipping back and forth to figure out which clues they missed.


Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rod Sheffield. A fun read for anyone who grew up in the 80’s or is a fan of the music of that era.  Just overall a fun coming of age book

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill.  An interesting take on this tragic period of our history.  Told from the point of view of the girls who were the accusers.  It is all told in verse as well.


Little Bee  (Chris Cleave)

-All sorts of horrible, depressing things happen to Little Bee in what turns out to be a very memorable book. Inspiring.

 The Scent of Rain and Lightning  (Nancy Pickard)

-Loved it more than her previous novel The Virgin of Small Plains.

 The Passage  (Justin Cronin)

-Very LONG book at 700+ pages…not sure worth the effort.

 Still Missing (Chevy Stevens)

-OMG! Disturbing book… but could NOT put this down.  One day read!!!

 Father of the Rain  (Lily King)

-Story about a broken family, narrated by the daughter, beautifully written.

 The Girl Who Played with Fire  (Stieg Larson)

-A must read in the continuing saga. 

 The Poachers Son (Paul Doiron)

-Murder mystery set in Maine with an unexpected ending.

Mockingjay  (Suzanne Collins)
final book of the Hunger Games trilogy and must confess to disappointment.


Our Tragic Universe (Scarlett Thomas)

-a great “storyless story”

This Must Be The Place (Kate Racculia)

-good story

The Chill Of Night (James Hayman)

-suspense and mystery in Portland, Maine! also enjoyed The Cutting, Hayman’s first book in the series

Dragon Haven (Robin Hobb)

-a satisfying conclusion to the Rain Wilds Chronicles

Cupcakes From The Primrose Bakery (Martha Swift)

-beautiful cupcakes with unique ingredients, can’t wait to try a recipe!

The Cookbook Collector (Allegra Goodman)

-large cast of characters with multiple story lines

The Stormchasers (Jenna Blum)

-insight on the storm chasing scene with a family story thrown in

Backseat Saints (Joshilyn Jackson)

-edgy book on a woman’s transformation

The One That I Want (Allison Winn Scotch)

-quick read with mystical elements thrown in

Sheila D:

Sheila has been awarding some books her attention, the Newbery award books that is!  She recommends The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman (2009 winner) for a little creepy suspense, Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (2005 winner) for historical fiction fans and the Newest Newbery (2010 winner)  When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead for the suspense & thrill of time-traveling themes.  Charlie Bone fans will want to get the newest title in the series, Charlie Bone and the Red Knight for a satisfying ending.


Sheila E:

Little Bee  (Chris Cleave)

Mockingjay  (Suzanne Collins)

The Girl who Played with Fire  (Stieg Larsson)

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest  (Stieg Larsson)

Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover how to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals (Jamie Oliver)


We’d love to hear what you read this summer that made an impression on you… good or bad!!

June 2010


A series by young adult author Suzanne Collins has got the staff buzzing and talking it up to patrons.  The Hunger Games is as Karen put it ‘the ultimate reality game show’. This book is about a world where the government has unlimited control and the conflict is so amazing and ‘out there’ it is hard to put the book down.  Suzanne Collins has the ability to bring to life the action, suspense, romance, humor, cleverness with vivid imagery.  You can imagine every setting, every character and every battle as the Games play out.  And, you can’t help falling in love with the main character!  Catching Fire continues the story but leaves you wanting more.  There is high anticipation for the final book Mockingjay due in August. 


The Millennium Trilogy is another series that Dawn and Marie are enjoying.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an award-winning crime novel by the late Swedish journalist Steig Larsson.  When the author died in November of 2004 he left three unpublished novels, the first two topping the best selling lists since their release and the third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest was just released in May. These novels revolve around five generations of the Vanger family and spans several continents.  Marie describes the first as a ‘solid read’.


The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli, The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone and Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs are books that Marie would recommend reading this summer.  They’re not light summer reads but they would be satisfying.


Dawn suggests The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry as a summer read.  While not as ‘mysterious’ as her first novel The Lace Reader, this one is also set in Salem, MA with some of the same characters making an appearance.  Other titles that Dawn read during the spring are The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg, The Postmistress by Sarah Blake and Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.  All would be worth the summer book list!


Sheila Dube is on another mystery reading binge.  She has been reading some titles by classic mystery authors like Martha Grimes and Dorothy Simpson. The Old Fox Deceiv’d by Grimes, as well as, Puppet for a Corpse, Last Seen Alive, and Dead by Morning by Simpson have been meeting that “all things British” need with Chief Inspectors, cups a tea and descriptions of quaint English villages that hold deep dark secrets. 


Sheila also recommends Laurie R. King’s newest Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes book The God of the Hive as well as Elizabeth George’s new release in the Inspector Lynley series This Body of Death.


Karen adds to the staff picks a couple of books with timely themes.  February by Lisa Moore is a novel about a widow’s grief in the aftermath of an oil rig disaster.  The Bell Ringers by Henry Porter is a look around the corner into the near future.  A Western government integrates it data gathering systems with the help of a corporation and spies on the populace in order to be more efficient and secure.  It is so likely a story that one starts to wonder who is watching and listening right now!  She also read The Orchard a memoir by Adelia Robertson of her years running the family orchard during the Great Depression in Ipswich Massachusetts.  She writes evocatively about that time period and the hardships that almost everyone faced.


Summer fun to all!!

We love to hear what you’ve been reading!

February 2010


Zooming to the top of Karen’s all-time favorite list is Barbara Kinsolver’s new book The Lacuna (la-q-na)!!  It is the life story of a writer, set in Mexico and the United States from the 1930’s -1950’s.  She describes it as exquisitely crafted, sweeping, and packed with contemporary themes.  In Karen’s opinion, this is Kingsolver’s best book to date and if you do audio books do not miss this reading by the author!


Karen also read two other guy books recently.  Out Stealing Horses is a translation of a novel by Per Petterson.  It is a resonant coming of age story set in rural Norway that is beautifully descriptive and quietly tragic. 


The Badlands Saloon by Jonathan Twingly is a brief story of a young man’s crossing into adulthood during a summer job in North Dakota.  Oliver has returned to his home state to work after his first year at art school in New York City.  Don’t look for drama or plot here, just a snapshot rich with the sort of oddball people all of us meet in life.  Kindly told, it flows along gently and is peppered with paintings by the author.  Marie adds that this book is quirky, vivid and meandering.


One of Dawn’s favorite new books is Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin.  In this novel, stories of a group of New Yorkers are connected by the historical Philippe Petit's famous wire walk on a cable stretched between the twin towers of the World Trade Center which takes place in 1974. McCann captures the times and people in such a way that you feel part of the event. The important theme of this book is not that things end, but that things go on. In the authors note at the end of the book McCann writes; "A book is completed only when it is finished by a reader. This is the intimate privilege of art; In fact, it's the intimate privilege of being alive. When telling stories we are engaged in a democracy like no other." Dawn loves this quote!


31 Hours by Masha Hamilton is a story that Dawn has thought of often since she finished it. The mom in the novel  wakes up suddenly one night with a mother's intuition that something is very wrong with her twenty-one year old son, Jonas. For the next 31 hours, she will try to find him before something, she doesn't know what, goes horribly wrong.   Her intuition proves accurate as we learn that Jonas is preparing to become a suicide bomber, blowing up a subway in New York. Interesting and heart breaking, told in the mother’s perspective and basically taken from the current days headlines.


Marie wanted to move to Avening, a fictional town on an island in the Pacific Northwest, after finishing When Autumn Leaves by Amy Foster.  She describes this novel as a magical story with a cast of interesting characters. 


The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman, A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve and Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline were titles that showed up on both Dawn and Marie’s reading list for the past few months.  Not considered favorites but satisfying and fun reads.


Audrey Niffeneggar follows up the popular The Time Travelers Wife with her newest novel Her Fearful Symmetry.  This is an odd ghost story with a twisty plot that left Dawn questioning some aspects of the almost silly story. 


Sheila Dube revisited some well loved mystery authors in the past few months.  P.D. James older titles The Murder Room and Death in Holy Orders satisfied her need for Inspector Dalgliesh’s sleuthing and The Clutch of the Constables by Ngaio Marsh was an enjoyable older mystery (1969).  Doing laundry is usually not Sheila’s first love, but she loves Mandy Dyer who owns a Laundromat and solves mysteries on the side.  She can be found in Buttons & Foes by Dolores Johnson.


Marge, one of our faithful volunteers, adds the following mystery to our staff picks The Big Steal by Emyl Jenkns. Marge found it to be a good read and encourages lovers of antiques and old houses to give it a try!   


The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown continue to be titles that have very LONG wait lists.  If you want something similar to Stockett’s book, try Someone knows my Name by Lawrence Hill, We are all Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg or Beth Hoffman’s debut novel Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.  For Dan Brown fans give Steve Berry a try, or James Rollin’s Sigma Force novels.  

October 2009

Karen has read a string of books lately that she claims 'fit her just right'.  The Dart League King by Keith Morris takes place in one evening and she found every character in the book, even the local cocaine dealer, kind of endearing.  The ending is ambiguous, so if you like very tidy endings, it isn't for you, but she thinks it had a happy ending for every character. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was a fabulous young adult fantasy about a child who grows to manhood in a graveyard with certain permissions granted that are usually reserved for the residents.  Karen normally isn't a big fan of fantasy but this ranks high on her list!

Two authors with first time novels makes Karen's list for this quarter.  Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Walls packs a punch while being very readable.  This satisfying story is part mystery, full of excitement, and set solidly in small town Kentucky.  The second novel is What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn.  This mystery is set in New England and starts with a young  girl's fantasies, then jumps ahead  to finish years later.  Karen describes the story as convoluted with many surprises with beautiful, suspenseful and strong writing.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa was described by a patron as 'a little gem' and the staff here agrees!  This is an intimate story about family, memory and believe it or not, the poetry of mathematics.  It is also the story about characters getting to know someone but with a major twist:  the person forgets everything in eighty minutes.  How do you sustain a relationship with someone who cannot remember?  Karen, Marie and Dawn all loved this book.  It is a quick, 200 page book but will keep you thinking of the characters and premise of the book for a long time.

At the top of Dawn's "must reads" and "favorite books of the year" list is Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Short Stories by Elizabeth Strout. Her prior novels Amy and Isabelle and Abide with Me were favorites as well and when Olive was released, Dawn picked it up and just couldn't get into it.  Then In April, Strout, won the Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge and Dawn tried it again this past summer.  LOVED it.  This book is set in rural Maine and through short stories Olive appears in all, some as the main character, some as just a mention but through it all we learn that the way we see ourselves is not always the way that others see us.  

Unaccustomed Earth by Lahiri Jhumpa is another collection of stories that Dawn enjoyed.  The book is split into two sections, the first containing four stories and the second three stories that are all connected.  These stories all center around ordinary topics and ordinary people.  Because of the way the book was set up, it was a book that was put down on numerous occasions but held enough intrigue to pick up and finish.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman and A Change in Altitude  by Anita Shreve were books that Dawn read and enjoyed.  

Marcia's staff picks include The Spire by Richard North Patterson which is a suspenseful, poignant love story set in a small private college and also Shannon by Frank Delaney, a beautifully written story of Robert Shannon, a young American suffering from shell shock as he searches far for peace in Ireland.

Sheila English is currently reading The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt. Set in fin de siecle, England this magical book holds a mirror to the new middle class.  This didn't get a great review but Sheila is loving it!  Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris is #9 in the southern vampire series and in this latest saga the werewolves and other shape shifters reveal themselves to a not quite ready public.  Sheila is our 'in house' vampire expert!!  Other selections that Sheila adds to staff picks are Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (sequel to The Hunger Games and every bit as good) and The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larson.

Marie's staff picks include three dystopian novels.  The Hunger Games,  a young adult novel by Suzanne Collins, has a grim and different story line set in a world in which reality television means fighting to the death for young people drawn in a lottery.  It is compelling and she can't read to read the second in the series Catching Fire.  The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood is disturbing in its depiction of an imagined future world.  This is a companion novel to her 2003 book Oryx and Crake.  The third novel The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor was unique in that it is told in three voices influenced by limited reading materials.  Marie figured out the Shakespeare and the Biblical voices but would appreciate comments on where the third voice comes from.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters are titles that Marie would hand to patrons and say 'try this'.  

The Help by Kathryn Stockett has had a long waiting list from the day it arrived here.  It continues to be a staff and patron favorite and has inspired many discussions at the front desk. Karen experienced this book by listening to it and highly recommends it.  Another title with a long list is Dan Brown's latest The Lost Symbol.  

Interested in taking a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon?  You might want to pick up In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde another title that seems to have made the rounds with the staff.  It reads fast and keeps the reader captivated by the setting.

Please share with us your favorite reads so we may pass them along to our patrons.  We love to hear what you've been reading and how you liked or disliked a particular title!

June 2009

Marie and Karen start off our list of staff picks with a title that they describe as 'edgy, fast-paced, and filled with dark humor that is not for the faint of heart'.  Does this intrigue anyone? Beat the Reaper by first-time novelist Josh Bazell turns a hit man into a medical intern and does it in such a way that the reader is immediately drawn into the story.  The Washington Post's review states "Beat the Reaper is a hypochondriac's nightmare but a reader's dream".  Karen and Marie agree and Marie enthusiastically declares that this is the best book she has read in 2009!

Karen expected to have a stack of books to talk about after her vacation in May but she spent more time in the garden and at graduations than reading!  (Congrats to her daughter Rosie who just graduated from Boston University!)  Karen did get through a few, one being Ghosts by Cesar Aira which is a haunting and dreamy novella, an international best seller, set on an apartment building under construction.   It has the mystical elements so typical of the South American writers.  She loved it and so did her husband. 

Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas is a wonderful period piece set in Colorado during the Great Depression.  This is a good book for anyone who enjoys a gentle story filled with the fabric of social support women give each other through quilting and tending the home.

The newest quirky family story (Karen's favorite kind of book!) is The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews.  It is sad, funny, poignant, happy, quirky,, all at the same time.  Hattie has landed at her sister's house in Canada after being dumped by her boyfriend in France and finds her sister hospitalized again with depression.  Not ready to become an instant parent for her niece and nephew, Hattie and the kids set off across two countries to try to find the children's father who left years earlier. Must be good as it was on Marie's list also and she also describes it as quirky with very likable characters.

If you saw the Academy Award winner Slumdog Millionaire and would like to read something set in India, Karen suggests a new novel by first-time author Shilpa Agarwal, Haunting Bombay.  When 13 year old Pinky Mittal unlocks a door in her family bungalow that has been bolted shut her entire life, she unleashes the ghost of an infant girl and her midwife, sending her whole family into a tailspin.  This multigenerational saga had Karen rushing home to finish it.

An unusual narrative structure in Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris by Leanne Shapton created enough of a stir that a few of us just had to take it home.  This is an auction catalog with photographs and captions which tells the story of a New York City couple, Lenore and Harold.  For something different and outside of the box , this novel is a fun read and is bound to be a conversation starter.

Dawn thinks Lise See's new novel Shanghai Girls does what she does best - writing about the relationships of people and the ups and downs of life long relationships.  If you enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan this is a must read that will have you thinking about it long after you finish.  The Piano Teacher by Janice Lee is another novel that deals with the difficulties of love and survival during a time of war and the choices made during this hard time.

Other titles that Dawn recommends are Still Alice by Lisa Genova, Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg and Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson.

Sing them Home by Stephanie Kallos is a new staff favorite.  This is a heart wrenching story of three siblings who have lived in the shadow of unresolved grief since their mother's disappearance when they were children.  Karen and Dawn were anxiously awaiting the release of this book as we both loved the author's first book in 2004, Broken for You.  Marie is hooked on this author after reading both titles and highly recommends them.

Marcia is the proud new owner of a Kindle® from Amazon and a few of the staff enjoyed playing with it one day!!  This nifty little device can store thousands of books on it and currently Marcia is reading In the Bleak Mid Winter by Julia Spencer Fleming.  She is also enjoying Jeffrey Deaver's new book, Roadside Crosses and tells us that it is quite exciting.

For history buffs Sheila Dube recommends Hangman Blind by Cassandra Clark.  This mystery gives a flavor of the historical tone of the 1300's with Hildegard a widowed nun finding the clues as bodies began piling up.  If you are into the harrowing experience of London's tunnels after the Great Stink, try Ann Perry's The Dark Assassin featuring Inspector Monk.  There is nothing like shifting clay to make life exciting and dangerous.  Twilight fans won't want to miss Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey.  Senior year is never what anyone expects.

Marie adds to the list of staff picks the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.  This is a four book series featuring an auto mechanic who can turn into a coyote!  WHAT??  This is definitely for those who like the supernatural, werewolves in particular.  She also enjoyed Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan.   This young adult novel is based on the fairy tale Snow White, Rose Red and Marie describes it as very magical, rich and thought provoking but..... reader be warned, there are a few disturbing parts.

As we enter the summer months Springvale Library will be experiencing some changes, the major one being the closing of the library on Fridays.  As a staff, we are disheartened and sad that we have to do this as we would love to be adding services, not taking away, but it is a sign of the times.  On a positive note, we are hoping we'll be able to read more and thus have more staff picks for you!! 

Happy summer to all.

February 2009

Things have been extremely busy at the library but we've still managed to compile quite an interesting list of books that the staff has read.  Please let us know some of your favorites during this cold winter.

Karen starts off the staff picks with a gracefully written book that she is currently reading,  The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by new author Tiffany Baker, and she is loving it.  (There is already a waiting list for this title!)  It is rich with the characters and drama of a small town.  She also describes A Guide to the Birds of East Africa  by Nicholas Drayson as a charming, delightful and unusual love story.  There are birds and birders in this story but don't be put off  by the title.  It is sweet and surprising and you'll feel right at home in its Kenyan setting. Dawn is currently enjoying this book.

Knowing that the author Randy Pausch had terminal cancer as he wrote The Last Lecture,  Karen picked up the audio book for her commute.  She actually expected to find it too saccharine or maudlin for her tastes but she was pleasantly surprised to find it interesting, joyous and inspiring. 

Dawn took the recommendations of others and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski  and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.  Wow!  So glad she did.  Two very interesting reads that would be great for book groups.  Edgar Sawtelle was very sad and heartbreaking but well worth the read.  She still has many questions about the ending of this novel. 

A few other picks on Dawn's list are Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan,  The Hour I First Believed, a must read for Wally Lamb fans, and a young adult book, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, that she can only describe as 'disturbing'.  If you're a Jodi Picoult fan The Year of Fog  by Michelle Richmond is a great read. This book deals with an emotional topic that questions the biological bond and love between two people when Abby, the main character, loses her fiancé's six-year-old daughter.  Dawn thought it had a very Jodi Picoult like ending.  Handle With Care  is Jodi Picoult's new book which is due out in March.

Marie describes  The Wasted Vigil  by Nadeem Aslam as a very well written and poetic story about the intersection of diverse characters in Afghanistan, each having hidden connections with the others.  The Graveyard Book  by Neil Gaiman has just won the 2008 Newberry Award and Marie and Sheila E.  loved it.  It is the retelling of Kipling's The Jungle Book, set in the grave yard of course!!  Marie, who is our in-house artist, thought the graphic novel  The Good Neighbors  by Holly Black had great artwork and she found the story engaging!  Marie also adds The Book Thief by Markus Zusak to her list which was one of Dawn's top picks for 2008. 

Sheila Dube can't get enough of Minette Walter's mysteries at the moment.  The Dark Room, The Echo and The Breaker were all suspenseful and thought provoking.   Continuing with the mystery genre she also enjoyed Quiet as a Nun by Antonia Fraser which featured the character Jemima Shore, an investigative reporter.  A few of her non-fiction picks include Dewey: The Small Time Library Cat which in her words was 'the cat's meow', (and the pictures helped!) and Plain Secrets:  An Outsider Among the Amish by Joe Mackall.  Sheila grew up next to an Amish community in Indiana so she felt connected in a personal way.

For all the Charlie Bone fans out there Sheila encourages them to pick up #7 in the series Charlie Bone and the Shadow.

Spring is coming!

October 2008

Karen just finished High Crimes: the fate of Everest in an age of greed by Michael Kodas which she guarantees will open your eyes to the lack of glamour and romance attached to climbing the world's tallest mountain.  (She has scratched that item off her list now!)  She also read A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne which has been widely read by the Sanford School Department staff, including our very own Sheila English.  This book was an eye-opener and has given Karen some very useful, practical information that was delivered in a quick, easy package.  Sheila Dube is currently reading this this book and echoes Karen's comments.

With winter coming, Karen and Marcia recommend Stephen Carter's New England White which is an elaborately plotted murder mystery set in a college town in New England.  Stephen Carter has a few other titles that might satisfy the mystery reader which include The Emperor of Ocean Park and Palace Council.

A new favorite book???  Staff members Karen, Marie, Sheila English and Marcia loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer!!  If it was available in paperback, this would make a perfect December book group choice!  Karen describes it as funny, informative, sad, joyous, romantic (light on this one), and satisfying.  This novel is set in post World War II England, and it is a tale told through letters. 

Dawn and Marie have both been reading a few of the same titles and loved Oxygen by Carol Cassella.  The author is a real-life anaesthesiologist and weaves an intimate story of relationships and family in a high stakes medical thriller.  If you enjoy Jodi Picoult's novels, this author is very similar. Another title that staff members Dawn, Marcia, and Marie continue to talk about is American Wife by Curtis Settenfeld.  This novel is loosely based on Laura Bush's life and was an interesting read during this election season!  The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry is sure to be a book group favorite when it is released in paperback!  "Every gift has a price ... Every piece of lace has a secret....."  This book is mesmerizing and deals with lies, secrets, half-truths and you have a hard time deciding what is fact from fiction.  We have the book and the unabridged audio book available to borrow! 

Dawn also recommends Anita Shreve's latest novel Testimony which deals with a sex scandal at a New England boarding school.  It is a story told in the voices of men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal and details the ways that lives can be changed forever in one foolish moment. 

Marie and Sheila English read the very popular The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.  This is described as a very well written novel with an inspiring and different method of  communication between Edgar and the dogs.  Other titles that Marie shares are What was Lost by Catherine O'FlynnThe Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson and, an old children's favorite,  The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Sheila Dube, while creating a costume for Halloween of her favorite literary character Sister Frevisse,  reread The Murderer's Tale by Margaret Frazier which she highly enjoyed -- again! She also read Madapple by Christina Meldrum which was intriguing and slightly disturbing.  It was a blend of herbs, religious fascinations and very eccentric family members, but not a read for everyone!

Please share with us your favorite reads so we may pass them along to our members!

July 2008

Karen finished The Great Swim by Gavin Mortimer earlier this summer and she is constantly reminded of this book every time she is in the water doing her 'measly' (her words!) 1/2 mile swim.  This book explores the history of four American swimmers in the race to be the first woman to swim the English Channel.  These women were the celebrities of the 1920's!   Gavin Mortimer tells the true story of these woman who took on the challenge.  Karen loved the whole thing, including the fact that the woman who finally did it, broke the first man's record by 2 hours!

Karen also took home a very fun children's book because she couldn't resist the cover and the title!  (You can judge a book by its cover in this instance!)  A girl in a swim cap, goggles, and swimsuit is pretending to read a dog-erred copy of Stuart Little which is upside down.  Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford is a delightful story of a girl with a deadline who does not like to be told what to read.

Another title that Karen describes as a fine novel is The Pigeon and the Boy by Meir Shalev.  This is a beautiful story set in Israel about a mother and a son, love, destiny, and the joy of work.

Karen also had the great pleasure of hearing Louise Erdrich read aloud from her newest work, The Plague of Doves and she has now finished reading it.  All of her books are a lovely blend of humor, character and wisdom and she likes each one better than the last.

Sheila Dube has been on her summer mystery kick and many of the titles she read have turned out to be historical in nature. Don't you just love learning something when you're reading for fun?  She recommends any of the following:  Buckingham Palace Gardens by Anne Perry, Oh Danny Boy by Rhys Bowens or the young adult mystery that will air in September as part of Masterpiece Mystery! on PBS, The Ruby in the Smoke by Phillip Pullman.  For Inspector Lynley fans, Careless in Red by Elizabeth George is a must read.

Don't Throw it Out by Lori Baird is a title that Marie encourages people to read and put into use.  This book delves into the many ways of recycling, renewing, and reusing many of the common items we find in our households.    Marie also suggests Jeffrey Lent's book A Peculiar Grace which is a well written story with Portland, Maine as one of the ending locations.  Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford reminds her of summertime and Ray Bradbury books.

Dawn highly recommends Here if You Need Me: A True Story by Kate Brastrup.  After the tragic death of her husband Drew, a Maine State Trooper, Kate becomes a chaplain for the Maine Warden Service and this is a touching account of her journey.   She brings a human element to her story that we all can relate to.

The Host by Stephanie Meyer is the author's first adult novel after her very popular Twilight series and Dawn had to pick it up and read it after doing the vampire thing in Twilight.  No vampires in The Host, but it is a science fiction, love story that keeps you reading.  Dawn enjoyed it, although her favorite sci fi novel still remains The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. There is much anticipation for Stephanie Meyer's fouth and final book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn which is due out August 4th! 

Other titles that Dawn has enjoyed include The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, An Unexpected Forest by Eleanor Morse and Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian.

Share some of your summer reads with us and don't forget that you can place holds on any of these titles either by a call, a visit, or through our web site. 

March 2008

It has been a LONG winter and the staff has filled the long, snowy days with lots of reading which is much better than shovelling!

Karen's South Berwick book club chose Don DeLillo's Underworld, an 800+ page tome that kept her busy for weeks!  She felt it was good to have a little pressure to delve into the work of one of modern America's most acclaimed writers.  Her exact words were "He's brilliant!".  She loved his inventive use of language and the plot crafting she described as stunning!  Mr. DeLillo requires a real commitment to read so he may not be for everyone, but Karen says give it a go.

Another book that Karen added to her list is  Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food which has made her more thoughtful with her grocery store purchases.

To overcome her graphic novel phobia (which many of us may share), Karen picked up Alison Bechdel's Fun Home:  A Family Tragicomic.  She was surprised that the comic book format didn't stop her from enjoying this memoir of the author's father.  She did want to add that this graphic novel's mature content might be off-putting or offensive to some.

Sheila Dube, our children's librarian, reread Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry which is found in our juvenile section but don't let this stop you from picking it up.  This story is about an African-American family dealing with racism in Mississippi in the 30's.  For readers that are intrigued by real life oddities, she suggests trying Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein.  In this real-life memoir, these twins are separated at six months and then reunited thirty years later.

Sheila recommends for teens the fiction story Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Gavin and for those mystery lovers, try Laurie R. King's latest Touchstone.

Dawn has really spent her free time reading and has many to add to the staff picks!  One of her most enjoyable reads included the much talked about Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.  This was originally published in 1989 but has enjoyed a resurgence greatly due to the power of Oprah!  She loved the characters in this historical novel, especially Prior Philip, and also the romantic story of Tom and Ellen.  She has admitted to a whole new appreciate of architecture.  Don't be put off by the 900+ plus pages as it does move along quickly.

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan inspired Dawn to pick up another of this author's books A Prayer for the Dying. This author has amazing descriptive talents with the scenes and especially emotions.  The plots of both titles aren't what Dawn calls spellbinding, but the way the author pulls you into the story is amazing.  He has got a wonderful talent for capturing the mood so effectively that you feel you are part of the story.  She describes Last Night at the Lobster as a great read, especially on a snowy 'no school, no work' snow day, as this book takes place at a Red Lobster restaurant during a blizzard.  Gives you a whole new insight to the workings of a mall parking lot restaurant.  Karen and Marie enthusiastically agreed!

Gregory Maquire has done it again with the young adult novel What the Dickens:  The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy.  Here he takes 'skibbereen', aka tooth fairies, and tells a tale based on believing.  'What-the-Dickens' is a newly hatched orphan creature who gets into a mess of trouble.  A fun read especially if you're a fan of Gregory Maquire's style for taking an existing tale and adding a twist!  Dawn loved it and we've got a signed copy by the author here at the library.

Other titles that Dawn adds to her list are Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult's newest  novel that is sure to bring up questions and comments about religion, Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock which is a disturbing  story of child abuse with an unsuspecting ending, and The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller, the story of two different woman and their marriages.

Marcia and Karen had FUN reading The Man Who Killed Shakespeare by Ken Hodgeson.  It was one of those predictable, you know what happens next, kind of book but you don't care because because it is so enjoyable and easy to read.

Marcia and Marie both  took home the book Japanese Temari:  A Colourful Spin on an Ancient Craft by Barbara S. Seuss and Marcia really created a buzz with the staff when she made one of these beautiful items.  A Temari ball is a Japanese handball traditionally made out of rags wrapped around a noisemaker and then covered by colourful thread.  The ball is then given to someone as a sign of friendship.  Temari balls have been decorative additions to the Japanese household for centuries and this book is an introduction for the beginning temari-stitcher.  We're trying to convince Marcia to host a program here at the library for both staff and patrons to learn this intriguing craft! 

Marie suggests trying The Way Life Should Be by Christina Kline, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsbury, Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, and The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum.

In April we will be celebrating "National Library Month" and the staff will be wearing 'What I'm Reading' badges  -- ask us about our choices!  Also, you are invited to 'pass it on' by taking and wearing a stick-on badge of your own announcing your support of public libraries.

Happy Spring!

December 2007

As we close out of 2007 we wish everyone a very Happy Holiday Season and best wishes for 2008!  We hope you've had a great year of good reads and hope a few good books are on your 'holiday list'.  We've tried to put together some of our favourites for you!  We invite you to share your favorites with us!

Karen enjoyed reading the novel A Peculiar Grace by Jeffrey Lunt.  A middle-aged artist-blacksmith finds himself housing a stray young woman and confronting some of his past on his way to a better present.  It was a satisfying read and the writing had an everyday ease about it that made it comfortable to read through. 

She also slowly digested Inside Alzheimer's: how to hear and honor connections with a person by Nancy Pearce.  The thought of maintaining a relationship with someone who's mind is diseased and brain is riddled with holes is daunting, so she appreciated the practical on-the-front-line approach of this book.  This is a hopeful, positive, and useful book which offers ways to continue loving relationships when communication changes through illness.

Sheila Dube needed a respite after a busy story time season so she allowed herself some cozy reading.  She proceeded to "eat up" the latest three culinary mystery novels by Diane Mott Davidson, Chopping Spree, Double Shot and Dark Tort and then she whipped up a batch of Christmas cookies followed by a large apple crisp.  Yum.  Aren't mysteries inspiring???!

Marcia picked up a book that was recommended by one of our library trustees and found that she couldn't put it down! New England White by Stephen Carter has many twists and turns and is an intriguing look at American society from an elite black's view which is a rare! 

Marie added some of her most memorable reads of 2007 starting with her most favorite being Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber. This is a novel that is very surreal with a lot of contrasting textures.  A dreamlike childhood of an ape mother in a rain forest is in the background of a snowy Syracuse New York where the main character analyzes fingerprints for a living.  The main character seems concrete, but at the same time the reader wonders if something is not quite right about her.  Marie describes it as 'satisfyingly mysterious'. 

Marie also suggests two books that would be great for book discussion  groups.  See You in a Hundred Years by Logan Ward is the story of a family that lives as if they were in 1900, even though it is really 2001, for a year.  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is a non-fiction book where Kingsolver's family spends a year eating homegrown food.   Karen also enjoyed this book so they were able to share ideas and thoughts on it. 

Both Marie and Dawn read Alice Sebold's new novel The Almost Moon.  They both found it to be a disturbing, touching and well written account of a relationship between a mother and a daughter.  The word "disturbing" is emphasized since the main character kills her mother at the beginning of the book.  The rest of the book cycles between the past and the present.  Marie describes it as "not the happiest of reading" and Dawn didn't take to it as much as Sebold's The Lovely Bones.

Dawn recommends two great reads that also would be interesting choices for book discussion books.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak tops her list of great reads of 2007.  This book is billed as a young adult book but don't afraid to try it as it is an experience!  She describes this book as an astounding, thought provoking, beautiful book, and after she finished,  thought "Who can I pass this along to?" Death himself narrates this World War II-era story.  Another of her great picks for 2007 include A Hatred for Tulips by Richard Lourie which is another World War II-era story.  This is a riveting novel told from the viewpoint of Joop,  an old man in Amsterdam today,  haunted by his shameful secret of what he did as a teenager more than 60 years ago.

We can't wait to see what great reads there are in 2008! 

July 2007

What a dilemma Karen is in as we bring you our July staff reads!  She is currently 100 pages away from finishing The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon and the new Harry Potter has just come in!  What to do??  The Chabon book is unusual and she says that she likes it better with every page turned.  It is a detective murder story set in an alternate history Alaskan state.  It has a noir feel with wonderful similes and the characters grow as the plot does.  Not an action packed, fast read book, but she is enjoying the unfolding.  Harry Potter will have to wait a few more days. 

But..... Sheila Dube couldn't wait and ate it up!  The long awaited, last installment in the series pulls all the various threads of the last six books together neatly in a magically wizardry way.  It is an absolute must read for those that have read and grown up with the series.

For mystery lovers who want an enjoyable beach read, Sheila recommends The Sudoku Murder by Shelly Freydont.  Set in New Hampshire, this quick mystery is filled with "Ayuh's", a murder, a match making aunt and a touch of geeky romance. 

Karen also suggests listening to the audio A Long Way Gone, narrated by the author, Ismael Beal. This took her into the unimaginable world of the degradation of a society in civil war and the experience of children and child soldiers in Sierra Leone. It is a taste of a place and time, told in the beautiful words of a person who has come back from the brink.  This memoir has very strong and violent material as you may guess by her description.  The book is available also.

Two of our staff members, Karen and Marie, have read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and they both agree that it would make a great discussion book!  Karen, being a long time gardener, looked forward to reading about this family's experience during a year of eating local foods.  There are sidebars with recipes and information about the food industry, as well as thoughts of the author on the "whys" and "whats" of the year. 

Marie has been enjoying Nevada Barr and her Anna Pigeon mysteries.  After listening to High Country and Hard Truth on CD, she was hooked and has been reading all of her mysteries.  Anna Pigeon is a feisty law enforcement park ranger who appreciates the wild and its creatures.  During her time in different national parks, someone usually gets murdered and Anna always seems to end up right in the middle of the situation! 

Maledicte by Lane Robins, is a dark story that starts out with a fifteen year old named Miranda  and her companion Janus living on the streets in an abandoned part of town called the Relicts.  Marie enjoyed the sense of place in this story and some of the descriptions were beautiful in an ethereal way.  It is a fantasy book with a theme of eternal love and revenge.

Marcia enjoyed the new Kerry Greenwood novel  Earthly Delights which is a light headed mystery that takes place down under in Melbourn, Australia. The main character is a baker with an array of  "characters" contributing to the plot.

Dawn adds to the list with The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy.  WOW... This book is well written with believable characters but be prepared to be emotionally moved.   It is a holocaust story set in Poland during WWII with the fairy tale woven in.  Not a light read by any means. 

Another favorite for Dawn was Sherman Alexie's Flight.  Alexie does a fantastic job of getting inside the mind of a teenage boy faced with many obstacles.  "Zits", the main character, is an orphaned, American Indian teenager who deals with racism, homelessness and the usual challanges of adolescence.

The novel Red Leaves by Thomas Cook begins with "Family photos always lie."   Can you ever really know what lies behind those posed smiles?  Dawn picked up this book and thought it would be a predictable, missing child book but found it to be very thought provoking and surprising in many ways.  Others she enjoyed were Summer Reading by Hilma Wolitzer, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and The Last Summer (Of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

Tell us your favorite summer reads!

April 2007

Our staff picks begins with what Karen calls  'her best book of the year so far', A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder:  How crammed closets, cluttered offices, and on-the-fly Planning Make the World a Better Place by Eric Abrahamsom and David H. Freedman .  She enthusiastically shares her opinion, "Yes, Yes, Yes!  I knew those people with the color coded closets were wasting time!  This book illuminates the reasons we work like we do and affirms the good in chaos." Sounds like a great book to read instead of organizing those cluttered drawers and spring cleaning!

Karen also suggests picking up The Tiger in the Attic: Memories of the Kindertransport and growing up English by Edith Milton.  This book is described by Karen as being less about the Kindertransport and Nazi Germany than she thought it would be.  She found it to be a lively, humorous look at a young child who becomes more English than Jewish as she grows up a refugee in an eccentric British household and then later, as a young woman, her life with her mother in the United States.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing:  The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson has been a much talked about novel that Karen had to pick up.  After finishing it, she said it was the most unusual historical novel she had ever read.  The novel begins with the feel of science fiction and then sends itself into the Revolutionary War era of colonial America.  Published as a young adult novel, this is a complex, graphically violent and disturbing book that she wouldn't give to any young person, but she highly recommends this to anyone interested in race issues, U.S. history and ground-breaking writing style.

Sheila Dube has recently finished two adult non-fiction selections that provide a feminine view point or voice to opposing life situations. 

Another Day in the Frontal Lobe by Katrina Firlish is a memoir of one of  the few female neurosurgeons in the United States.  She gives an educational and personally insightful account of her residency years.

Child of the Jungle by Sabine Kuegler is the story of the authors life in West Papua, Indonesia living among  the Fayu tribe in neutral territory.  This author lived there with her family from the age of five into her teen years, with the purpose of bringing peace to the tribes.  Sheila found this memoir to be a fascinating read that she couldn't put down.  Cultural differences, jungle dangers and wearing shoes are all part of this incredible story.

Sheila English's take on Nora Ephrion's I Feel Bad about My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman is summed up  with her comment "Getting old is harder on some body parts more than others!".   She revisited this book after initially picking it up in the fall.

Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel set in Tehran in 1958, where a musician loses the will to live when his beloved musical instrument, the Tar, is damaged.  Graphic novels are not just for kids anymore!!  Sheila suggests picking one up to try it!

Marcia suggests a few fun mysteries.  One of her favorite authors is Sue Henry and Marcia wasn't disappointed by her latest  The Refuge Finds Maxie on the Big Island in Hawaii.  After a trip to Hawaii recently, Marcia really felt a connection to the story.  A new mystery author that Marcia has discovered is Mike Doogan and she enjoyed his novel,  Lost Angel: A Nik Kane Alaska Mystery which focuses on a missing girl in the Christian Community of Rejoice.  Seeing as this is the authors first novel, we expect more Nik Kane mysteries to come!

Mary and Marcia both read Susan Isaac's Past Perfect and had conflicting opinions about it.  Marcia enjoyed it while Mary felt it seemed to fizzle at the end.  Give it a try and let us know what you thought!

Our Springvale Public Library Book discussion group, led by Mary, has read Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.  They are currently enjoying They Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult is a novel that deals with a school shooting, where the author tells the story from the perspective of the shooter.  Dawn describes this novel as a disturbing topic but as a Jodi fan, one that she had to read.

Dawn also read The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant and didn't find it as fulfulling as her previous novels, The Red Tent, or Good Harbor.  The characters didn't have any depth to them and the novel seemed to be flat.  A recent favorite was Anita Shreve's newest novel Body Surfing

Stephen King's son, Joe Hill has a new book on the NY Times Best Seller List, The Heart-Shaped Box which Dawn read and enjoyed.  This novel is centered around an aging rocker, who is a collector of bizare, macabre items.  The rocker pays $1000 for a suit that is said to be inhabited by a ghost and then, not surprisingly... the angry spirit makes an appearance.  Not a gory novel or too scary, just a fun, entertaining read.

Let us know what you've been reading!!

January 2007

Where has 2006 gone???  We apologize for the long lapse from our last posting.  Although we have been busy with the holiday season, and especially the "Victorian Tea Time" every afternoon in December, we still had a chance to read some great books which we'd like to share!

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig was recommended to Karen by two very different people.  The historical western setting in this book and its humor made it a highly enjoyable read.  A widower and his three boys hire a housekeeper, ("Doesn't cook, won't bite") and along with the housekeeper comes her brother, who by default starts teaching in the rural one room school house.  The story is told by the oldest son and the book ends when he is ordered to close all the small schools in the state decades later.  Karen describes it as a very satisfying and smooth read. 

Karen moved on from this western to Mineral Spirits by Heather Sharfeddin, another Montana setting, which is a sensitive portrayal of a sheriff working on a Jane Doe murder case, who gets involved with the 10 year old neglected boy who found the body.

Marcia was engrossed in True Evil by Greg Iles who brings us his latest suspense thriller.  This is a new take on the traditional cat and mouse game between an FBI agent and a fiendishly-clever serial killer.  For those of you who enjoy Greg Iles, it's another edge of your seat read!

Copper River; A Cork O'Connor Mystery by William Kent Krueger is another thriller that Marcia recommends.  This sixth Cork O'Connor mystery continues the saga as the Minnesota Sheriff is sent running from hired killers.  Booklist's review of this mystery states that this series 'gets darker and more elegantly written with each new book'. 

Marcia suggested Sheila D. try the Maisie Dobbs mysteries and Sheila is now hooked on them!  Maisie is a single, super-sleuth spinster with a psychic twist at the turn of the century London.  Sheila is currently reading the third in the series, and is in line to read the brand new 4th one titled Messenger of Truth.

Dawn and Sheila both enjoyed and were moved by Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown.  This is a juvenile title that is presented in brief, free-verse poems and is a very quick read but one that stays with you long after you turn that last page.  It is a story of a mentally ill mother who deserts her husband and daughter.  The very first page of the book describes the daughter watching her mother packing and leaving.  How do you cope with the question of "What do you do when your mom runs away from home?"  It is the story of  how a loss can reveal the powerful and complex bonds between a father and daughter.

For the holiday season Dawn enjoyed Elizabeth's Berg's The Handmaid and the Carpenter which is a very sweet dramatization of the nativity story.  Being an Elizabeth Berg fan, she wasn't disappointed in this new perspective of the classic Christmas story.  Dawn continued the holiday theme with sportswriter Mike Lupica's Miracle on 49th Street which is a sports themed juvenile novel revolving around 12 year old Molly and her desire to win her father's love who just happens to be the star player for the Boston Celtics.  It is a story with a strong, young female character and although very predictable, it was entertaining.

Mary just finished reading what she calls 'one of the most intriguing books she's read in a long time', James Church's mystery/thriller, A Corpse in the Koryo.  With fine writing this novel brings to life the very likable Inspector O and takes you inside the very closed world of North Korea. Totally different, but another favorite for Mary is Greg Mortenson's non-fiction book, Three Cups of Tea:  One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations ... One School at a Time.  Tom Brokaw said it is "one of the most remarkable adventure stories of our time.  Greg Mortenson's dangerous and difficult quest to build schools in the wildest parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan is not only a thrilling read, it's proof that one ordinary person, with the right combination of character and determination, really can change the world."

We hope this new year brings many blessings to all.

September 2006

Back to school....  back to school......  We can't believe the summer went so fast!  Here are some of our favorite titles that the staff have read.

Karen read Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick which she describes as a lively, riveting, update (depending on how long ago your high school American history class was) of the English colonization of the new world in Plymouth.  She listened to the audio book and thought it was wonderful.  She also read The Great Stink by Clare Clark which is an English historical mystery set in the times of Dickens.  Currently she is half way through the novel To Love Mercy by Frank Joseph, and is having a difficult time putting it down to come to work!  This author's first published novel is about two young boys, one black and one white and how they try to be friends in the wrong time and in the wrong place.

Sheila English read the new best seller by Anna Quindlin Rise and Shine which is about two sisters in New York, one of which is wildly successful, and the other not.  She also enjoyed I Feel Bad About my Neck And Other Thoughts about Being a Woman by Nora Ephron which is a collection of essays about aging and life in general.  She thought the essay on reading was one of the best ones she has ever read.

Proven Guilty; A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher deals with wizards in Chicago!  YIKES!  (Vampires and werewolves too!)  (Maybe lion, tigers and bears.... oh my.)  Sheila tells us that this is a really good series.

In the children's room, Sheila Dube suggests trying Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters which is a 'story within a story' by Lesley M.M. (yes, thats 2 M's) Blume.   Jenny Nimmo has also continued the Charlie Bone series with number 5, Charlie Bone and the Hidden King

From the adult collection, Sheila really enjoyed The Girls by Lori Lansens.  This is an intriguing novel about conjoined twins that seemed so true to life.  Sheila would like to invite the mystery readers to try some cozy, paperback selections such as Mr. Malory and the Fatal Legacy by Hazel Holt, The Second Sorrowful Mystery by Jonathan Harrington, or Keepsake Crimes which is a scrap booking mystery by Laura Childs.

Dawn continues with the mystery genre adding Gone Baby Gone by Dennis LaHane.  This is suspenseful mystery, a real 'who dun it?', with many twists and turns, that keeps you reading.   She also enjoyed the very popular The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards which is about how one decision can affect so many lives. 

Lastly, Dawn wanted to add Richard Peck's new young adult novel Here Lies the Librarian which is laugh out loud funny and quite appropriate for us to read!!

Pick up one of these reads and please share your favorites with us!

July  2006

It’s nice to see summer finally here! The staff has again been busy reading lots of new books plus many old favorites.

Karen has read all non-fiction as she has been having a hard time finding novels that look interesting to her at this time.  She has read The Butterfly Hunter: Adventures of People who found their True Calling off the Beaten Path by Chris Ballad,  A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger (author of The Perfect Storm) and The Worst Hard Time: theUuntold Story of those who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. Karen’s mother, who lived in Oklahoma during the dust bowl, was shocked by the hardship portrayed in this book.

Sheila Dube read Little Indiscretions by Carmen Posadas which is a culinary mystery which she found disjointed at first, but it ‘all comes together in a nicely whipped soufflé.” She also enjoyed North by Northhanger or, the Shades of Pemberley : a Mrs. & Mrs. Darcy mystery by Carrie Beris. This is a Jane Austin spin-off involving Mrs. Darcy solving a mystery while pregnant and running a Victorian household and coping with a conniving aunt!

Susie Riding adds to the list with her latest read, Marker by Robin Cook, which is a thriller about mapping the human genome.

One of Mary’s favorites so far this summer is Brenda Serottte’s new memoir, The Fortune Teller’s Kiss. The author’s perceptive, colorful, humorous, and sometimes achingly real descriptions of herself, her family and other people and events were so vivid, Mary felt that she had seen them herself.

Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee is a grown-up version of every young boy’s fantasy life, as the peripatetic writer gets to ride in the passenger seat in an 18-wheel truck along on a barge ride up the Illinois River and then climb into the cabin of a Union Pacific coal train a mile long. Gus Hedden, our new staff member, is hoping that McPhee’s next book is written along similar lines and includes fire trucks and heavy construction machinery.

Dawn enjoyed another Elizabeth Noble novel The Friendship Test which is based on four women and spans both England and America. The characters are vastly different with a ‘tristy’ plot and makes for a great beach read (or a cozy winter read!). Kristen Hannah’s new book The Magic Hour is another great summer read that Dawn enjoyed.  This book revolves around the soap opera story of a feral child and the adults that try to help her.  It is a love story of a parent and child that is heartwarming.

WEIRD, weird, weird is how Dawn describes Christopher Moore’s latest book A Dirty Job.  The author tackles ‘death’ in his latest wonderful, whacked-out story!!  The main character in this book, Charlie Asher, is a Death Merchant and has to follow the rules outlined in “The Great Big Book of Death”.  What a cast of characters!!  You find yourself engrossed in this strange but entertaining story, and Dawn couldn’t put it down! 

Come visit us this summer and check out some of these books!

March 2006

We are celebrating our 100th year anniversary this year!  There will be many activities throughout the year so keep checking our web site and newsletters for updates!

The first book taken out of the Springvale Public Library in 1906 was The Pearl of Orr's Island: A Story of the Coast of Maine by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and in honor of that, Susie Riding took this book home with her and read it.  She found it to be slow going but could understand the popularity of it back in 1906.

The staff  began the new year with a fun game, "Staff Winter Reading Bingo" .  This is a game that we will be implementing as part of our  Summer Reading Program for adults so we had to try it out first!  We were to read selections based on a prepared bingo board and get BINGO.  Each square on the board represented a genre or instruction of what to read.  Examples were; Read a young adult novel, Ask for a recommendation from a patron, Read a mystery, Go to the stacks close your eyes and pick a book, etc.   Sheila Dube was the big winner with Sheila English and Marcia Goodwin close behind her.  It was fun!

Karen was able to cross off two blocks on her board with Popco by Scarlett Thomas and The Darwin Conspiracy by John DarntonPopco was unpredictable and she didn't know where it was going while she was reading it but she didn't want it to end!  It is a hybrid novel including mystery and intrigue, surprises, codes, a little World War II history, a little mathematics history, fresh characters who live in today's world, and a cake recipe!

The Darwin Conspiracy toggles back and forth between Charles Darwin and his family and a couple of modern graduate students who discover archives that will change the way the world looks at the the Voyage of the Beagle and the origin of the theory of evolution.

Sheila Dube tackled How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill.  This is a history selection providing insight into how real history is as we know it, especially the preservation of intellectual culture.  Although Sheila is not normally a history buff, she enjoyed the writer's style and learned a tremendous amount of unfamiliar facts concerning Christianity, philosophy and Irish history.

Sheila also recommends The Lighthouse by P.D. James, as a good mystery along with Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale which is a slightly disturbing, utopian themed adult fiction novel.

Dawn read Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God by Joe Coomer which is a novel set in Portsmouth NH and deals with three distinctly different women living together on a boat docked at a pier.  Other popular fiction titles read were A December Wedding by Anita Shreeve, The Sunflower by Richard Paul Evans, Little Beauties by Kim Addonizio and Night by Elle Wiesel

Dawn and Sheila also read a young adult novel that is now on their favorites list called The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble.  This is a historical fiction novel set in Andover MA  and is based on the author's own family events during the turbulent Salem witch trial time period.  It is a realistic novel that brings to life the character of Abigail and her family.

Marcia read a new science fiction novel called Necessary Begger by Susan Palwick which tells of a family that is exiled to an unknown country through a mysterious door when one family member is accused of murder.   Survival is the key as they struggle with language barriers and customs unknown to them.  This novel reminded Marcia of the Newberry Award winner Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata.

Marley and Me by John Grogan was a fun read and enjoyed by both Dawn and Sheila English.  Another Jodi Picoult novel, The Tenth Circle has arrived at our library and Dawn felt that this book lacked the surprise ending that the author is known for.  It is a novel set both in Bethel, Maine and Bethel, Alaska and includes a graphic novel as part of the plot. 

Stop in to pick up one of these books!!

December 2005

As we end the year, we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for all our wonderful patrons and all who have so generously donated to our annual appeal.  We wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Karen ended the year with many interesting reads.  One selection was Green Grass Running Water by Thomas King which is a wild & funny Blackfoot love story narrated in tandem with multiple versions of the Blackfoot creation myth as told by Coyote and his four sidekicks (or is Coyote the sidekick?)  The style is fresh and the story is satisfying.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche is a little gem of a book that reminds the reader how people everywhere face the same problems but face them in very different contexts. Set in Nigeria and beautifully written, it is the story of a young girl struggling with the expectations of a cruel father.  Very readable, completely universal.

Permanent Rose is the latest children’s novel by British author Hilary McKay who has been creating warm and quirky stories for 15 years.  This book is peopled with characters I would love to have as neighbors.

The Fingersmith by Sarah Waters is a period piece set in London with stock characters, illicit trades, and unexpected plots twists.

Marcia surprising enjoyed The Center of Winter by Marya Hornbacher which is a novel that deals with a family tragedy.  It is a dark novel but reads quickly and holds the interest of the reader.

Dawn read the recently popular book A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.  This is the true story of the authors recovery from alcohol and drug addiction beginning with his enrollment in a Minnesota rehabilitation center after a two week binge and black out.  The vivid details will have the reader cringing.  James Frey also just released My Friend Leonard which is  about one of the colorful characters that he met while in the center. 

Dawn also enjoyed a few short, holiday books appropriate for this time of year.  Comfort and Joy by Kristen Hannah and The Christmas Scrapbook:  A Harmony Christmas by Philip Gulley were quick reads which both have the traditional themes of holiday celebrations. 

As the long cold months of January and February loom, come visit the library and pick one of these suggested books or browse our shelves for other selections! 

Happy 2006!

September 2005

The busy days of summer are over, and the new fall season is in full swing.  We hope everyone enjoyed their summer and came away with a favorite "summer read."

Karen highly recommends Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.  This is a fascinating look at the human thinking processes.  It is some science, and also some anecdote on how we rapidly process information in our brains.  It delves into when we can trust those "gut" instincts.  It’s short and easy to absorb.  Great book!

Mary's favorite summer read was Pocketful of Names by Joe Coomer.  This story is set on an island off Stonington, Maine where the author lives part of the year.  A very compelling and beautifully written story and Mary describes it as her favorite book since The Kite Runner, which has been a very popular book here at the library and all across the U.S.

The Maine theme continues with Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood.  Dawn LOVED this book,  also written by a Maine author, with a Maine setting.  This is a very touching and emotional story about the numerous jobs of parenting and keeping families together.  Religion plays a key role in this novel with one of the main characters being a priest.  All the characters are very believable and the story moves along quickly… and when the book ends, you still want more.

Sue enjoyed Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart.  She describes it as a poetic tale of love, mystery and myth set in the wilds of Ireland.

Sheila, our Children’s librarian, would like to thank everyone who participated and helped out with the Summer Reading Program this year, Dragons, Dreams and Daring Deeds. It was very, very successful!  One of her favorite reads  this summer was Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes.  This is a great novel that deals with the question of ‘what if?’ and this book made her cry!!

Please visit us and also browse through our new basket by the circulation desk with staff favorites.  Also, let us know if you visit our website.  We would love to hear your comments.


July 2005

We hope everyone is enjoying the summer and reading lots!  We've been busy here and are grateful to the many volunteers that helped with our very successful book/yard sale!  With all the activities of summer, our staff has still managed to read quite an interesting selection of books.

Karen suggests An Instance of the Fingerpost by Ian Pears, a historical mystery set in England.  She also describes I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe as an 'eye opener' (or reminder) for a parent with a college bound child. 

If Sherlock Holmes intrigue is your 'cup of tea', than the newest installment of the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King called Locked Rooms is for you.  This psychological thriller takes place in the early 1900's and centers around the fire and earthquakes in San Francisco.  The story stays true to the characters developed in the series.  Sheila just finished reading it and now wants to read King's first book called The Bee Keeper's Apprentice again. 

Also, being the children's librarian, Sheila has just finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling and found it as magical, suspenseful, gripping and dark as the other five!  Springvale Public Library has 4 circulating copies.  Come check one out!

Dawn read Raising Hope a first novel by Katie Willard which is set in NH and is about 12 year old "Hope" who is being raised by her aunt and father's ex-girlfriend.  Sound confusing....??  A good story of mothers and daughters and the bonds they share.  Another recent favorite she read is The Vagabonds by Nicholas Delbanco which is a well written novel that provides a historical subplot inside a contemporary family drama.  It deals with an inheritance from the trio of 'vagabonds', Henry Ford, Harry Firestone and Thomas Edison.

Dawn also revisited a few of the older, juvenile titles which included The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell and  her daughter's favorite Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.  Fudge is still funny from an adult perspective!

Mary was on vacation over the holiday and recommends a few 'fun' books!  The theme of Mary's vacation was Provence and she read A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle which is a wonderful, humorous description of living in Provence from the viewpoint of a transplanted English couple.  She also enjoyed a "Murder She Wrote" mystery featuring Jessica Fletcher in Provence, To Die For, and Jaques Pepin's autobiography The Apprentice.   She is currently reading the book group selection, His Excellency, George Washington and is thoroughly enjoying Joe Coomer's brand new book, Pocketful of Names.

Sue enjoyed the new Janet Evanovich's Eleven on Top which is a funny, outrageous, laugh-out-loud continuation of Stephanie Plum's anitcs! 

We hope everyone is enjoying the summer.  Stop in to pick up one of our staff selections!

April 2005

The staff has read quite an interesting mix  in the last couple of months!

Karen picked up the newly released novel from Mary Doria Russell A Thread of Grace and was glad she did!  She describes it as a 'lyrically' written W.W.II novel set in rural Italy, dealing with how the Italian people worked to save Jewish refugees.  She is anxious to read other novels by this author.  She also read Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making  of a Revolutionary by Alberto Granado.

Sue just got back from vacation in Florida where she relaxed on the beach and read Lucky's Lady by Tami Hoag.  A light read with suspense, romance and lots of cajun flavor.  Other books recently read include Cold Science by Robert Parker and Saving Cascadia by John J. Nance.

Marcia suggests Amagansett, by Mark Mills.  She enjoyed this author's debut novel.

"Having coffee every morning with friends" is how Dawn described The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble.  This novel deals with the issues of  a group of women who belong to a reading group.  They become fast friends despite their differences in age, background, and situations.  She also read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, a soon-to-be released feature film, which has brought attention to this older book.  Dawn's comment on this selection was 'strange book'. 

The Ha-Ha: A Novel by Dave King was also enjoyed by Dawn and Karen.  It is told from the perspective of a lonely man with a severe brain injury who is challenged to broaden his world when he must take care of an 11 year old boy.

Sheila Dube has been absorbed and quite busy with a Children's Literature class she is taking right now.  Her required reading included Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (If you like the reality show "Survivor", you may like this one.),  Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Morning Girl by Michael Dorris, The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, Number the Stars by Lois Lowery, and Giants in the Land by Diana Appelbaum.   The "Giants" in Giants in the Land are the white pine trees that England harvested for ship masts before the revolution in Maine.  Sheila recommends this as a truly interesting non-fiction book. 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini continues to be a very popular book and is one of Mary's all-time favorites.  She says that friendship, love, loyalty, betrayal, survival, the relationship of fathers and sons -- all that and more are woven into this beautifully written first novel.  However, she didn't enjoy Bill Bryson's Neither Here Nor There.  Unlike his book A Walk in the Woods, which was full of hilarious descriptions of his adventures and misadventures along the Appalachian Trail, in Neither Here Nor There the author seemed very disconnected from the people around him and left the reader with little sense of the places he visited or how he was really thinking and feeling as he traveled around Europe revisiting some of the favorite spots of his youth.

Mary reports that Gerard Robichaud's novel, Papa Martel, was greatly enjoyed by the "Let's Talk About It" group this month  -- and led to animated discussion about the Franco-American experience here in Maine.

Another inspiring book that needs to be mentioned is Mountain beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer by Tracy Kidder.  This book deals with one man's dedication to changing the health of the poor in Haiti which has lead to innovations in health systems that treat poverty and illness worldwide.  Karen and Mary have both read this book and it is the book choice for our own Springvale Public Library Book Group.  It should be an interesting and enlightening discussion!

Please stop in to pick up one of these interesting reads!!

February 2005

Karen just finished  a young adult fantasy by Nancy Farmer called Sea of Trolls, and also Amagansett by Mark Mills which is a mystery set in a post W.W.II fishing village on Long Island.  She is currently reading  Aloft by Chang-Rae Lee.

Marcia just finished Sharyn McCrumb's St. Dale,  a book that deals with racing legends, and also Conviction by Richard North Patterson.  She rates this selection as a great read, which makes one think about 'how and who' gets the death penalty in the U.S.

Dawn and Sue read a new memoir by Jennifer Traig titled Devil in the Details:  Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood.    In this book, the author tells her story of growing up in the 70's and her struggle with OCD and anorexia.  This is NOT a textbook type book... reads more like a novel with a humorous writing style.  Laugh out loud at times.

Our Children's Librarian, Sheila, just finished  the classic Charlotte's Web  by E.B. White, a Maine author,  and found it just as enchanting as an adult as she did when she was a wee child.  She suggests picking up an old favorite or one of the many new children's books that we have such as the adventure story Bartlett and the City of Flames by Odo Hirsch, which her nine-year old son loved!

In addition to these, other titles read are The Giant's House: A Romance by Elizabeth McCracken, Daughter of Persia: A Woman's Journey from her Father's Harem through the Islamic Revolution by  Sattareh Farman-Farmaian and a recent favorite for a few of us, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

All of these books are available right here at Springvale Public Library! 

                                   443 Main Street, Springvale, Maine 04083 | (207)324-4624