Friday, November 14, 2014

Carry the One by Carol Anshaw

    On the dust jacket of Carry the One, this is the first thing you read: "in the hours following Carmen’s wedding reception, when a car filled with stoned, drunk, and sleepy guests accidentally hits and kills a girl on a dark, country road. For the next twenty-five years, those involved, including Carmen and her brother and sister, connect and disconnect and reconnect with each other and their victim. As one character says, ‘“When you add us up, you always have to carry the one."

What a perfect summary! The novel is set around twenty-five years of Carmen, Nick and Alice's ups, downs, highs, lows, etc. as well as the others that were in the car that fateful night. And every time something bad happens, well, they deserve it because of what they did on that fateful night. And if something good happens - well, that cannot possibly be enjoyed because of the all-consuming guilt about what happened on on that fateful night.

Interesting premise. Great writing. But overall, you quickly begin to not really care about what happened to them on that fateful night.


Read alike: Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

Monday, November 3, 2014

Words Will Break Cement by Masha Gessen

On February 21, 2012 the band Pussy Riot performed what they called a “punk prayer” at a church in Moscow. This performance caused three members of the band to be arrested and footage of the incident, which consisted of members of the group performing in ski masks and brightly colored dresses, to be shown around the world. Many news outlets have also shown footage of the subsequent trial that sent members of the group to Russian penal colonies.

Pussy Riot remains an oddity to most people. The group has a memorable name and, particularly with their “punk prayer,” memorable, headline-making performances. In Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, author Masha Gessen explores what motivated the group in the first place and why they received such harsh sentences for what would probably be nothing more than a trespassing charge in the United States.

The members of Pussy Riot were inspired by movements such as the American riot grrrl bands of the early nineties. While presenting a seminar on radical feminist art, several future members of Pussy Riot were unable to find a Russian equivalent to the riot grrrl movement for the presentation. Undeterred, they simply recorded and used their own song. Not long after, Pussy Riot was formed.

Gessen does a good job helping readers get to know the members of the group. She also delves into recent and not-so-recent Russian/Soviet history to show the importance and controversy of Pussy Riot, including why their sentences remained so harsh despite international outcry. (When members of the group were finally released, most suspected it was due to the forthcoming Winter Olympics and a possible public relations issue for Russia.) The book gets bogged down a little when it gets to the group’s trial. However, this is a minor complaint about a book that has a lot to say about artistic expression and the state of things in Russia.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

In The Good Girl, Mia Dennett is a beloved art teacher who suddenly goes missing. Her egotistical, obstinate father refuses to believe she’s in danger and thinks Mia’s just done something impulsive. Her mother and the detective assigned to her case will stop at nothing to find her. Is Mia really a good girl, or is there more than meets the eye?

Mary Kubica’s debut novel is a suspenseful, emotional roller coaster. The story is told from the points of view of Mia’s mother, the detective trying to find her, and Mia’s abductor. I really liked that readers hear from her abductor, and are able to see his point of view. You find out early on that Mia returns home, but the in-between is a mystery.When the truth of what happened is revealed, you won't believe it.

If you’re looking for a book like Gone Girl, you just found your next read.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bartlett Reads: What Would Erudite Read?

Welcome to the fifth post in the Bartlett Reads 2014 blog series! This year, our community-reads selection is Divergent by Veronica Roth. Each week in September, we'll feature the factions from Divergent and books that they might read. Next up is Erudite. They are known for intelligence and wisdom. What books might they like to read?

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.

  Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

A mysterious outbreak of typhoid fever is sweeping New York. Could the city's future rest with its most unlikely scientist? If Prudence Galewski is ever going to get out of Mrs. Browning's esteemed School for Girls, she must demonstrate her refinement and charm by securing a job appropriate for a young lady. But Prudence isn't like the other girls. She is fascinated by how the human body works and why it fails. With a stroke of luck, she lands a position in a laboratory, where she is swept into an investigation of the fever bound to change medical history. Prudence quickly learns that an inquiry of this proportion is not confined to the lab. From ritzy mansions to shady bars and rundown tenements, she explores every potential cause of the disease. But there's no answer in sight-until the volatile Mary Mallon emerges. Dubbed "Typhoid Mary" by the press, Mary is an Irish immigrant who has worked as a cook in every home the fever has ravaged. Strangely, though, she hasn't been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in a new scientific discovery? Prudence is determined to find out. In a time when science is for men, she'll have to prove to the city, and to herself, that she can help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century.

 A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

 Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery. Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

 The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.

If you're looking for books that explore secrets, try these. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bartlett Reads: What Would Dauntless Read?

Welcome to the fourth post in the Bartlett Reads 2014 blog series! This year, our community-reads selection is Divergent by Veronica Roth. Each week in September, we'll feature the factions from Divergent and books that they might read. Next up is Dauntless. They are known for bravery. What books might they like to read?

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Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun. When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

In a gripping, moment-by-moment narrative based on a wealth of recently declassified documents and indepth interviews, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin focus on the story of the eleven young Marines who were the last men to leave, rescued from the Embassy roof just moments before capture, having voted to make an Alamo-like last stand. As politicians in Washington struggled to put the best face on disaster and the American ambassador refused to acknowledge that the end had come and to evacuate, these courageous men held their ground and helped save thousands of lives. They and their fellow troops on the ground and in the air had no room for error as frenzy broke out in the streets and lashing rains and enemy fire began to pelt the city. A riveting true story finally told, in full, by those who lived it.

Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday. They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard. The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies. But Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful--and attempts a nail-biting escape.  

Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world -- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

 When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated mountain village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes, we follow the story of the plague year, 1666, as her fellow villagers make an extraordinary choice. Convinced by a visionary young minister, they elect to quarantine themselves within the village boundaries to arrest the spread of the disease. But as death reaches into every household, faith frays. When villagers turn from prayers and herbal cures to sorcery and murderous witch-hunting, Anna must confront the deaths of family, the disintegration of her community, and the lure of a dangerous and illicit love. As she struggles to survive, a year of plague becomes, instead, annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders.' Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged mountain spine of England.

Stay tuned next week for more faction-based reads!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bartlett Reads: What Would Candor Read?

Welcome to the third post in the Bartlett Reads 2014 blog series. This year, our community-reads selection is Divergent by Veronica Roth. Each week in September, we'll feature the factions from Divergent and books that they might read. Next up is Candor. They are known for always telling the truth. What books might they like to read?

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 All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry

Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.

 The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely

In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Ariely shows why some things are easier to lie about; how getting caught matters less than we think; and how business practices pave the way for unethical behavior, both intentionally and unintentionally. Ariely explores how unethical behavior works in the personal, professional, and political worlds, and how it affects all of us, even as we think of ourselves as having high moral standards. But all is not lost. Ariely also identifies what keeps us honest, pointing the way for achieving higher ethics in our everyday lives. With compelling personal and academic findings, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty will change the way we see ourselves, our actions, and others.

 Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French

Who is in Coma Suite Number 5? A matchless lover? A supreme egotist? A selfless martyr? A bad mother? A cherished sister? A selfish wife? All of these. For this is Silvia Shute, who has always done exactly what she wants, until now, when her life suddenly, shockingly stops. Her past holds a terrible secret, and now that she is unconscious in a hospital bed, her constant stream of visitors are set to uncover the mystery of her broken life. Meanwhile she must lie there, victim of the beloveds, the borings, the babblings and the plain bonkers. Like it or not, the truth is about to pay Silvia a visit. Again, and again and again...

 The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

That's what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy's father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister's project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl's world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

 You Can't Lie to Me by Janine Driver

Driver distills nearly two decades of behind-the-scenes knowledge, cutting-edge science, and relatable case studies into a simple, powerful five-step program. Whether it's with your teenager, spouse, mechanic, or fellow board member, and whether you are communicating face-to-face or through phone calls, e-mails, texts, Facebook posts, or handwritten notes, you will have all the tools and confidence you need to spot deception. More important, you will recognize the truth as you build the caring, authentic connections that make life worth living. In You Can't Lie to Me learn how to perfect your inner lie detector ("BS Barometer") and ban liars from your life, so you can feel more confident and create stronger, more trusting relationships.

Stay tuned next week for a new blog post about faction-style reading!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Pink Suit by N. M. Kelby

   On November 22, 1963, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy accompanied her husband to Dallas, Texas wearing a Chanel-style pink suit. She was still wearing that blood-stained suit when she accompanied her husband's body back to Washington D. C. hours later. This novel is about the people that created that infamous suit.

In the early 1960s, Chez Ninon was a well known, fashionable boutique in New York City. This is where Jackie Kennedy now buys her clothes after being criticized in the media for spending too much money on French designers. The story is really about the workers that painstakingly copied these designs into perfect garments for one of the most photographed women in the world and got absolutely no recognition for their efforts.

The Pink Suit is a fascinating portrayal of not just this one shop, but the mood of the 1960s in general and particularly all things Camelot.