Monday, January 9, 2017

Barkskins by Annie Proulx

Image result for barkskinsBarkskins is the newest book by author Annie Proulx, the critically acclaimed author of Brokeback Mountain and The Shipping News. This weighty work begins in the late 1600’s with the arrival of two young French immigrants to the dense forests of the rugged new world of Canada. It traces the fate of their descendants and the devastating impact of deforestation through to the present day. It is a sweeping and engaging story rich in French Canadian, Michigan and Native American history. The fate of the two young men and their families diverge widely due to chance, choice and hard work. Life in the Canadian wilderness is harsh and unforgiving but also beautiful and rewarding. Throughout the book, the ever present and far reaching impact of deforestation plays out in meaningful and difficult ways. The book ties together people and the earth and their powerful impact on each other. I highly recommend this book to readers of local and historical fiction.  



Reviewed by Amy Churchill

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I am Princess X by Cherie Priest


May and Libby become best friends in fifth grade.  They invent a fictional character they name Princess X and spend hours writing and drawing stories about her.  Tragedy strikes a few years later when Libby drowns.  May’s parents get a divorce.  She and her mom move out of state.  Every summer May travels back to stay with her dad.  The year she is sixteen, she finds a sticker with a picture of Princess X.  How could it even be possible?  She investigates and finds a website with the stories she helped write, along with new ones.  Did someone find their old notebooks or could Libby be alive?  May meets some new friends and they follow the clues in the Princess X stories. 


Reviewed by Fiona Swift

Monday, December 5, 2016

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Image result for born a crime

South African comedian Trevor Noah was largely unknown when he was tapped to succeed Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show in 2015. Instead of talking about showbiz in his first memoir, he focuses on his formative years under Apartheid and life with his indomitable mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah.

Parts of Noah’s memoir are tremendously funny. (The future humorist had the gift of smart talk and knack for trouble at an early age.) But the title of this book reflects its serious undercurrents. Under the laws of South Africa when he was born, Noah’s existence was literally proof of a crime. His skin color was too different from either his black mother or white father for either one of them to acknowledge him in public. If the authorities had suspected their true relationship, his parents would have been arrested and Noah taken into state custody. In his teen years, the country moved towards racial integration, but finding his way out of generational poverty wasn’t easy. This book is a great choice for anyone who wants a better understanding of Noah’s perspective as a comedian. Having grown up under a police state certainly informs the way he makes fun of politics in America today.

Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp


Monday, November 21, 2016

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware




In the vein of Agatha Christie, Ruth Ware gives us a classic murder mystery set at sea. Lo Blacklock, travel journalist, embarks on a week-long luxury cruise aboard a boutique ship. This is just what Lo needs after her flat was burglarized while she lay passed out in the bedroom. For a brief moment, Lo thinks she just may be able to unwind and looks forward to advancing her career. After all, the cabins are luxurious, the guests are a-list, and the ship, while a bit claustrophobic, is decked out. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Upon getting ready for the cruise’s first dinner party, Lo realizes she’s forgotten mascara. Having heard noise from the cabin next door, Cabin 10, Lo hopes she can borrow some from her neighbor. The encounter, while strange, does end with a tube of mascara in Lo’s grip. The cast of characters starts to reveal itself, but someone is missing. The same someone that Lo believes she witnessed being thrown from the ship in the wee hours of the morning. With the help of ship security and staff, Lo embarks on her quest to find the missing woman - the woman she swears she encountered in Cabin 10. The problem? All passengers on the ship’s registry are accounted for. It’s Lo’s word against everyone else’s . . . and someone else wants Lo to stay quiet.

Reviewed by Jennifer Harden

Monday, October 31, 2016

CATtastic Crafts : DIY Projects for Cats and Cat People by Mariko Ishikawa



Holiday time is just ahead and of course you want some gifts for the felines in your house!  Here are more than 30 “cat-approved” projects you can make quickly and inexpensively.  

Projects include cat toys meant to give your kitty exercise and some interaction with you, a three-tier cat condo, and lots of projects for cat beds, bowls, kitty clothing and more. There’s even a section of cat-themed accessories for the humans in your cat’s life.

Many of these plans are simple enough that they would be great projects for older children to work on with a little parental supervision.  Cat-lovers will really get a kick out of this fun and quirky book!

Reviewed by Kate Tesdell
Click here to find this book

Monday, October 17, 2016

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson



This book is about what it was like to be a girl growing up in 1970’s Brooklyn.  It’s told from August’s perspective as an adult.  She and her brother moved to Brooklyn with their father when they were eight and four.  Their mother was left behind, and August said she would join them “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.”  They sat at the window watching the street below while their father was at work.  Eventually, they were allowed to leave the apartment and join the kids in the street below.  August became friends with Sylvie, Gigi and Angela.  They were inseparable.  The book is written in short memories.  It skips a little bit, as if August was remembering one thing, which led to another memory…  It’s quick to read and has a dream-like quality.  

Reviewed by Fiona Swift
Click here to find this book