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Books

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Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set against the Nigerian conflict of 1967-1970 Adichie blends political drama and relationships. Tribal loyalties, British colonialism and that universal emotion : love are explored. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna is the professor’s privileged beautiful mistress and Richard is a young Englishman in love with the country and Olanna’s twin sister. These characters will be tested by family loyalities and personal decisions intertwined with  themes of class, race and war-time survival .

The Lower River by Paul Theroux

Ellis Hock bids adieu to his failing clothing store, bitter wife and avaricious daughter and returns to Malabo, Malawi where he served as a Peace Corps volunteer almost 40 years ago. But a place of hope and nostalgia and usefulness has deteriorated to one of corruption, deep distrust and danger. Ellis not only has nothing to do but is slowly consumed by the people he once loved until he discovers that there is a price on his head. Snakes play a major—if understated—role in this provocative tale. Theroux is a master story teller with the travel writer’s exquisite eye for detail.

A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay

Eight-year-old Norma Joyce and her 17-year-old sister Lucinda are living with their widowed father on a wind-swept farm in 1930s Saskatchewan when a stranger blows into town and changes their lives forever. Beautiful, fair and hard-working Lucinda is the favored daughter, compared to small, dark and challenging Norma Joyce, but each is formidable in her own way. This family story by an acclaimed Canadian author covers 30 years and takes its members from the western prairies to "heavenly" Ontario to New York City and back again, through dreams, heartbreak, love, betrayal and loss.

2014 Printz Award

2014 Printz Award

The Michael L. Printz Award is an American Library Association literary award that annually recognizes the "best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit."

Winner: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin (audiobook)

Steve Martin narrates his own memoir of being a stand-up comedian, from learning magic tricks at Disneyland at the age of 15, many years of crafting his show, to enormous success, then walking away. This is a surprisingly touching story of an isolating career, much of the time spent on the road, and many years of struggling before he hit it big. There is humor in it, but it is not a comic book. Rather, a sweet and dark reminiscence.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is a brand-new (yes, really!) novel featuring beloved characters Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves. Sebastian Faulks has captured the spirit of P.G. Wodehouse's most famous characters, and the witty dialogue and hilarious situations Bertie and Jeeves find themselves in are absolutely true to Wodehouse form. I was a bit skeptical that Faulks would be able to pull this novel off, but, incredibly, it fits right in with the Wodehouse collection of comedic perfection. It will please old fans and should attract new readers to these characters.

Everybody Has Everything by Kristen Onstad

After years of trying to have a baby, James and Ana unexpectedly become instant parents of a toddler whose parents have been killed (the dad) and possibly fatally injured (the mom) in a car accident. James dives into fathering while Ana keeps her distance, and their lives, identities and even their formerly happy marriage are put to the test. Canadian writer Onstad creates a story that rises far above chick lit, with evocative prose, fully realized characters, and a conclusion that is both unpredictable and true-to-life.

The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Copenhagen’s Department Q, led by detective Carl Morck, specializes in very cold cases: this one is 20 years cold with a confessed perpetrator already doing time in prison. The crime: the brutal murder of two teenage siblings in a summer cottage. The suspects: rich and successful members of Denmark’s elite who met in private school and formed a secret rampaging gang inspired by the movie “A Clockwork Orange”. This Nordic crime series has it all—interesting characters, twisty suspense, and plenty of quirky humor.

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu

Yael, Avishag and Lea are typical teens coming of age in an atypical environment—a country in a state of continual hostility with its neighbors and ever-present fear of attacks on civilians. It is modern Israel. The three friends are drafted into the Israeli Defense Force and fulfill their two years of service training shooters, monitoring border checkpoints, flirting with boys, remembering their girlhoods in a tiny village on the Lebanese border, and wondering about the future.

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

This deliciously short novel recounts the experiences of a war correspondent, her philandering poet husband, their teenage daughter, and two family friends on holiday in the hills above Nice. Just as they arrive they discover a young women, naked, in the swimming pool. For reasons not immediately obvious, the stranger is invited to stay with them in the villa. The characters in this story have interesting dimensions and their complicated relationships with each are deftly explored. Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2012.

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