Thursday, December 8, 2011

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

book jacketReview by Maggie:

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens is a good read but not as enjoyable as her first novel Still Missing.  However, I have heard from many people that they liked it better than her first.  I would be interested in hearing your opinion.  I thought it could use some editing and that it went on for about 100 pages too long. Telling the story through her therapy sessions she is able to convey a sense of stress. This is an effective story telling method that worked well in her first novel. Sara, her character, is an adoptee who is eager to find her birth parents. When she does find them it is a disaster. Her mother wants nothing to do with her and Sara does not want her father to know her. Character development is nil so there is no one that we like. The character we learn the most about is the serial killer father and we end up finding him sympathetic. This book lacks suspense and is bit predictable.

As she did in Still Missing she has the surprise fiend at the end.  As I mentioned before, some patrons are telling me they liked it better than her first novel---what do you think?


Request Never Knowing from The Bangor Public Library

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What was your favorite book of 2011?

As we approach a new year I thought it might be fun to hear what everyone's favorite read was in 2011.  Old or new, fiction or non-fiction, it doesn't matter.   Mine, without question, was Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  (read Jan's review on Garden Spells)  Maggie's was A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth.  (read Maggie's review on A Kind of Intimacy)  We would love to hear yours.  So, please take a moment to place a comment below and share your favorite book of 2011.

As always, hope to see you in our library someday soon,

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Monday, November 21, 2011

True Things About Me by Deborah Davies

This is a story about a nameless, childless, single homeowner ( I think we are told about the house so we know that she was once a responsible person).  She has a job at the benefits bureau and in her capacity as a counselor she encounters a handsome ex con---- within a half hour she meets him in a parking lot and has mindless sex with him.  From that time on she is in thrall to him.  Her behavior is wrong and self destructive but she cannot stop herself.    Ms. X  is in such a compulsive cycle she stops going to work  and neglects her family and only friend.    He steals from her and even beats her and she is totally controlled by him.    We are not given any background on him and do not understand her addiction.  We just read on as Ms. X descends to the gutter.  It is a offbeat story but very readable.

Request True Things About Me from our interlibrary loan system

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

book jacketEvery once in a while a book comes along that is so special it breaches the genre boundaries.  If I had to categorize this I would lean toward calling it woman's fiction, but I think all readers would find something compelling about it.

Garden Spells came highly recommended to me by one of our patrons. I was compelled to pick this book up simply because of her recommendation, but I must confess what finally motivated me was the awesomely low page count of 286! :o) I was in the mood for a short, light read--but what I received was something so much more. From the moment I started the first page I literally could not put it down until I read the very last amazing word, and consequently went to work the following morning yawning with a very large coffee in hand to get me through the day. So, while this is a shorter book, the content is filled with some of the most beautifully written characters I have read in a very long time.

What touched me the most about this book was the relationship journey between four Waverly women: two sisters, a distant cousin, and a five-year-old daughter. It is set in a quirky southern community, with some magic realism thrown in. Each Waverly woman is born with a "gift." Evanelle, the distant cousin, described as "79 but looks like 120", is compelled to give people items like a lighter, or bed sheets, or a mango peeler. Every item she gives will have a significant meaning in the receiver's life. Claire runs a catering business while using herbs from the Waverly garden to weave a magical evening for her clients through her menu. Sydney has a gift for making people look good, and her daughter, Bay, knows where things belong.

Claire has always accepted her gift, unashamed of being one of the "odd" Waverly women, while Sydney hated the distinction and left town as soon as she was old enough. Now Sydney is running from an horrifically abusive boyfriend, knowing he will eventually harm their daughter, and returns home to the only safe place she knows. Although this is a secondary story line, there is a charming love story involving Claire and her neighbor. There is also a mischievous apple tree who (and I will say who because it has emotions) throws apples at people. If a person eats an apple from the Waverly tree, they will see the most important event of their life, which isn't necessarily a good thing. So, the Waverly women are always burying the apples.

I cannot rave enough about this book! There isn't a character or line I would change. There were moments when the author wrote in Bay's perspective, the young daughter, that were simply beautiful, although heart-wrenching. I was thoroughly touched by this book.

Garden Spells is officially on my top ten favorite reads of the year. It was that perfect!

Hope to see you in our library someday soon,
Request Garden Spells from the Bangor Public Library

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Long Drive Home by Will Allison

book jacketA Long Drive Home is a sad and tragic story.  Glen is driving his six year old home from school which he does each day when a driver cuts him off and causes him to slam on his brakes.  Glen is upset but only gives in to road rage when he again encounters the reckless driver and decides to scare him cutting the wheel so it appears he is turning in front of the speeder.  However, the driver veers and crashes into a tree and is killed instantly.  The other driver was an intoxicated teenager.  Glen realizing no one witnessed his actions (except maybe his daughter) lies to police about the accident.  A sly detective Rizzo is able to put bits together and pursues Glen and  the carefully crafted happy suburban life is soon torn asunder.  The tale is told from Glen’s persepective and in a letter he writes to his daughter explaining his actions.  Allison tells a compelling story with great brevity.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray

book jacketThis is an enjoyable read until the last chapter where she wraps everything like a happy package much like the artfully wrapped packages the cakes are delivered in.  The heroine Ruth likes to bake; she has no other outlets when things go wrong or go right she bakes.   She is very good at it and her cakes are legendary ---however, her family is getting really tired of them.  Her happy life all of sudden starts going wrong, her husband loses his job, her teenage daughter starts rebelling, her long divorced mother lives with her, and out of the blue her father who has been missing in action for most of her life has health issues and needs to be looked after-----this does not set well with her mother.  In the meantime, to support her family she starts baking cakes for sale.  Of course, her cake business is a success and as quick as you can say ‘ lemon poppy seed cake’ everyone is living happily ever after.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: the astonishing rise and spectacular fall of a serial impostor by Mark Seal

book jacketThis is non fiction that reads like a novel.  The story of a young german man that had a yearning to get out of  his rural German village and achieve the American dream.   He arrives in America on a bogus student visa and immediately starts trying on new identities.  After an instant marriage to get a green card--- he completely abandons his german heritage.  He tries out several identities until he hits on the one that guarantees his rise in society.  He is Clark Rockefeller--- the name, his attire and lock jaw manner of speaking give him access to exclusive clubs, upscale social circles and prestigious jobs.  His only credential being the name Rockefeller—If he had not kidnapped his only child after a bitter divorce he would probably be still included in the same social circles instead of languishing in prison awaiting trial on murder charges... So many people were willingly deceived by him and put up with his eccentricities simply because they thought he was a Rockefeller.

Request The Man in the Rockefeller Suit from the Bangor Public Library

Monday, June 13, 2011

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

book jacketThis story takes place in Boston during 2002, the height of the priest abuse scandals.  It is told from the point of view of Sheila, the half sister of the accused priest.  It is a dysfunctional family drama and the author does a great job of evoking the time and the values of working class Irish catholic and of creating suspense and keeping us wondering if Father Breen is guilty or innocent.  Father Arthur Breen is a well-respected priest but his half sister and brother are not sure what to believe his mother is the only one that continues to have faith in his innocence.  Father Art himself is not forthcoming on the issue for his own reasons.  One does not have to be from a catholic background to enjoy this well told story.

Request Faith from The Bangor Public Library

The True Deceiver by Tove Jannson

book jacketKatri Kling is a social outcast of a woman who lives with her mentally challenged brother, Mats, and a nameless dog in a small room above a store.  Anna Amelin is a wealthy book illustrator, doing flowery rabbits, and on the opposite end of the social spectrum.  Katri cares only for her brother and wants things for him and he wants a boat.  Katri is bright and realizes the way to get what she wants for Mats is through Anna.  Soon both Katri and Mats move into the "rabbit house" along with the wolf-like dog.  Katri is successful in creating a dependency in Anna and Anna's formerly trusting self is lost. 

This is a thought provoking novel and one is never sure who is the true deceiver.

Request The True Deceiver through our interlibrary loan system

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym is a favorite author and Quartet in Autumn is my favorite of her books.

Quartet is the story of middle-aged office workers Norman, Edwin, Marcia and Letty.  These people have nothing in common but working together in the same office and acute loneliness. The four are ready for retirement.  It is most difficult for Marcia who is eccentric, a hoarder and an old anorexic. She dies alone in sad circumstances.  Her death awakens the others, and while they are a passive group, at least Letty seems to be aware of possibilities open to her to make the golden years more pleasant.

I love Pym’s novels-- nothing really happens but she tells a great story with an economy of words and lots of humor.  A cup of tea and a comfortable chair go well with Barbara Pym.

Request Quartet in Autumn from the Bangor Public Library

Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky

Bad Marie fits the title; she is a totally amoral person.  The novel catches your attention with the first line, “Sometimes Marie gets a little drunk at work.”    She has been in prison for six years for being an accessory to murder.  When she gets out of prison a childhood friend hires her as a nanny for her little girl.  Marie is selfish and rude and manipulating and returns her friend Ellen’s kindness by drinking on the job and ultimately stealing her friend’s husband Benoit and kidnapping her little girl.  They run off to Paris together and take the child along.   Marie soon learns that Benoit is no prize and she and the child and head for Mexico where she thinks she will be welcomed by the family of the man responsible for her being imprisoned.   This is not the case.   Marie is wicked but I think at the end she does the right thing and reunites the child with her mother.   This book is quirky, unpredictable and edgy---a quick fun read.

You can request Bad Marie on our interlibrary loan system.
Request now!

The Upright Piano Player by David Abbott

Henry cage is a middle aged man who appears to have it all.  However, he is forced into an early retirement by his company-----a company he started and his life begins to unravel.   The beginning of the book is really the end so we know where life is going for Henry.  Random events seem to rule his life.  After the first chapter the book turns us back five years to millennium eve.   Henry has a random violent encounter and is stalked by a disturbed young man.   His ex-wife’s illness forces a reconcilitation with her and through this he renews his relationship with his estranged son and forms a bond with a grandson he did not know he had.   Of course, we know how this melancholy story ends-----but it is well written and a first time author.

You can request The Upright Piano Player through our interlibrary loan system.
Request now!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Social Animal by David Brooks

Here's a great non-fiction recommendation from our library director:

David Brooks, the New York Times columnist and bestselling author of Bobos in Paradise, has long explored and explained the way we live. Now, with the intellectual curiosity and emotional wisdom that make his columns among the most read in the nation, Brooks turns to the building blocks of human mind in an illuminating work grounded in everyday life.  He offers a new look at the assumptions we make about life and a close, deep examination of the failure of social and economic policies that do not take into account the complexities of human behavior, treating us as if we were totally rational and guided by our thoughts rather than some combination of intellect and emotion.

Request The Social Animal from the Bangor Public Library

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

book jacketThis is a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to his first wife Hadley Richardson.  Hadley met and married Hemingway in Chicago before he was famous.  She has his child and caters to his every need trying to keep him happy.   However, Ernest is very attractive to women and Hadley’s friend Pauline Pfeiffer seduces him rather blatantly and becomes his second wife.  The author has done a good job of bringing the Paris of 1920’s to life.  Her portrayal of the famous jazz age expatriate authors and artists living and loving in Paris makes one think it is the center of the creative universe.  She has done thorough research. 
Did you know Gerald and Sara Murphy, famous for being the inspiration of Fitzgerald’s novel  Tender is the Night, were responsible for the French Riveria’s popularity and also for introducing sun tanning to the populace?  Good Read.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell

book jacketI was just given this great recommendation from one of our volunteers and wanted to share it with you.  If anyone has read a good book lately, please let me know.  I love to share your favorite reads as much as ours.

Recommendation from Christine:
Swedish author Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series has ended with the final book the Troubled Man.  Detective Wallander is a character who is troubled with self-doubt, worry and bouts of dark moods, but always gets results.  Mankell is an award winning mystery novelist who has been translated into 40 languages.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth

book jacketAnnie Fairhurst is an obese social misfit who is addicted to self help books.  The narrator Annie is unreliable and gifted with an amazing ability to distort reality to suit her wishes.  She is calculating, delusional and most certainly insane.  However, the read is delicious and I could not put it down.  Fortunately, it was my day off.   Please someone read it and let me know if you enjoyed it as much as I did.  Amazingly another debut I cannot wait for Ashworth’s next book.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Four Wonderful Debut Novels

I am amazed at the talent that is writing.  We are a long ways from the death of the book.  The following four books are debut novels, so imagine what is yet to come.

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Allison
book jacketThis is a most enjoyable debut novel.  It is about the evacuation of children from London to a country estate at the start of World War ll so that they would not be present for the blitz.  It is also a love story involving many different kinds of love----the author does a good job of creating the atmosphere of the time period both at the Yorkshire estate and in London.  Toward the end the author wraps up the story quickly and I found the ending a bit questionable but it is still worth the time to read it.

Request The Very Thought of You from the Bangor Public Library

Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson
book jacketThis book grabs your attention from page one.  It is a story about a troubled military family in the 1970’s.  The father is very focused on his career and the mother is depressed and self absorbed so the family is neglected.  The story is told by Tillie the daughter and most of it takes place while Tillie and her brother are growing up.   These were children in need of sane parenting.  The father did try but was not successful.  Neither the mother or father  should have been a parent---however, I liked the father better but am sure many of you feel  the mother was a sympathetic character.

Request Up From the Blue from the Bangor Public Library

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
book jacketThis book is a page turner from the beginning.  Annie O’Sullivan has been a golden girl that things went well for-----however, her life turns horrifically wrong when she is abducted from an open house she is conducting in her capacity as a top realtor.  She is held hostage in a remote cabin by a freaky monster.  She lives through a dreadful year and finally breaks free.  In the aftermath of her ordeal and with much counseling she realizes that the old Annie is still ‘missing’.

Request Still Missing from the Bangor Public Library

Piano Teacher by Janice Lee
book jacketThis novel is set in mid century Hong Kong.  The ‘piano teacher ‘ is an English woman who has moved to Hong Kong with her husband.  She gets a job with a wealthy family, becoming the piano teacher to their daughter.  She soon starts an affair with the chauffeur.  How it all ends up I cannot tell you since I read it awhile ago---I remember loving it and wanting to include it since it was a debut.  I have looked at reviews on Amazon to refresh my memory of the story and found it had mixed reviews----I loved it ----

Request Piano Teacher from the Bangor Public Library

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Share your favorite non-fiction!

Have you read a non-fiction novel that you enjoyed?  It can be a recent publication, or older, it does not matter, just something you enjoyed reading for one reason or another.  Post a comment with title or author, and we will add their covers below with a link to our catalog. 

Here are some non-fiction books that I have recently enjoyed.
Perfection:  a memoir of betrayal and renewal  by Julie Metz
This is a story of a perfect marriage that wasn't however, the author only finds this out after her husband’s premature death.  Metz works through her pain and loss by tracking her dead husband’s mistresses----we all grieve differently.
Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill
This book is written by a 90 year old british editor.  She deals with tough realities in a very positive way.  She is probably a better writer than the authors she edited. I enjoyed her so much I read another book by her Stet:  an editor’s life.  Another good read.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Patti writes about her relationship with the late artist Robert Mapplethorpe.  Her writing is very readable and she paints a compelling picture of New York City in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Slow Love:  How I lost my job, put on my pajamas & found happiness by Dominque Browning. 
Ms. Browning is an ex editor of House and Garden this book is interesting and in contrast to another book I had read written by her when she was happily married Around the House and in the Garden. 
We are happy to post suggestions anyone might have for good non-fiction reads-----
: :  Request each book from the Bangor Public Library by clicking on the cover  : :

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Monday, March 14, 2011

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

book jacketThis is a story of secrets and misunderstandings that affect every character in the novel.  It begins with the release of Allison Glenn to a halfway house after serving  five years in prison.  We are not told what the crime was but we do know it causes Allison to be rejected by all-even members of her own family.  Upon arrival at the halfway house Allison tries without success to get in touch with her sister Brynn to help her come to terms with her past and reestablish a sibling relationship.   
Each chapter is told from a different characters perspective.  This book is suspenseful and each time one thinks you know what is happening the author surprises you with a twist.  Heather Gudenauf is a good story teller.  I have read her debut novel, Weight of Silence and highly recommend that as well.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pictures Of You by Caroline Leavitt

book jacketThe story starts with a car accident on a fogbound back road.  April and Isabelle collide and Isabelle loses her life.  April leaves behind a grieving husband and a nine year old boy.  Isabelle is not responsible for the accident but does have intense guilt.  Charlie, her grieving husband, spends the rest of the book trying to piece together reasons why April was leaving and where she was going on the fateful day.  While the story was compelling it lacked character development and had many inconsistencies.  However, it was a good read and I raced through it.
~ Maggie

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Marzetti

book jacket
This is a delightful read about two lonely thirty somethings.  Benny is a dairy farmer and Shrimp is a librarian.  I found Benny to be a more likeable character than Shrimp-----Shrimp seemed unwilling to compromise.  It is a quick read divided by chapters and each chapter is told from the other’s viewpoint.  It is a most enjoyable and quick read.  It is a translation from the Swedish and I am never sure with translation if it is the author I like or the translator.

Request Benny & Shrimp from the Bangor Public Library

Man In the Woods by Scott Spencer

book jacket
This is about a craftsman carpenter living in upstate New York.  His life is going very well and he is in a good relationship with a perfect partner.  He has a chance encounter with a stranger and commits a horrible crime for the right reason.  The rest of the book is his trying to live with the terrible guilt of what he has done and how his guilt impacts his current life.  This book is a page turner.

~ Maggie

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Convent by Panos Karnezis

This is a story about a newborn abandoned on the steps of a remote convent.  The books is set in an isolated area of Spain.  The author has done a great job with the book's atmosphere.  The Mother Superior of the convent wants to keep the child for her own personal reasons.  However, the other nuns do not understand her motivation and much jealousy and problems ensue.  Many of the books incidents are just too predictable and you can see what is coming but the writing is good and the the author knows how to tell a story.


Request Convent from the Bangor Public Library

This Is How by M.J. Hyland

This book is about a troubled young Englishman Patrick Oxtoby an unlikeable character that has many problems relating to others.  Patrick moves to a seaside town to start a new life after his girlfriend tells him she cannot marry him.  We are not told the reason why.  He moves into a boarding house that houses other young people and finds a job doing car repairs.  Patrick behaves oddly and makes wrong choices.  However, I was stunned with where the the author took this character.  It is a dark but compelling read. 

request This is How from the Bangor Public Library

Friday, February 11, 2011

Share your favorite literary fiction!

Have you read a literary fiction novel that you enjoyed?  It doesn't have to be a recent publication, just something you liked for one reason or another.  Post a comment with title or author, and I'll add their covers below with a link to our catalog.

Hope to see you in our library someday soon,

: :  Request each book from the Bangor Public Library by clicking on the cover  : :

book jacket   book jacket   book jacket  book jacket  book jacket  book jacket

Share your favorite classic!

What classic book do you remember most, or was inspirational to you in some way?  Share your recommendations with other readers who love books, so we can also be inspired.  Post a comment with title or author, and I'll add their covers below with a link to our catalog.

Hope to see you in our library someday soon,

: :  Request each book from the Bangor Public Library by clicking on the cover  : :

book jacket  book jacket  book jacket  book jacket  book jacket

Monday, January 31, 2011

Still Life by Louise Penny

book jacketRecommendation from Valerie Osborne, Consultant
Northeastern Maine Library District:
I  suspect that one of the reasons I have enjoyed the Inspector Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny is because the setting is so close to our own in Maine.  My parents were both Franco-Americans.  I see parts of my own clan in some of the characters.  It is this richness of the character development, the proximity to our own border, and a finely constructed plot that keeps me reading each book in the series.  If you are looking for a fast paced read, you won’t find it here.  If you are looking to immerse yourself in the life of a village, with characters you will either love or hate, this might be just what you are looking for!

Request Still Life from the Bangor Public Library

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

book jacket
Recommendation from a blog follower:
I just read "Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter" by Seth Grahame-Smith.  I got it on a whim because I had seen the "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" book that he had written and thought the cover and idea of it was humorous.  I enjoy reading supernatural fiction (which includes vampires among other creatures) and thought I'd give it a whirl.  The first few pages and book jacket seemed intriguing enough.  Well needless to say it was a great read.  The historical fiction basis of it was mixed nicely with actual dates and events from Mr. Lincoln's life.  The aspect of vampires being integrated into the story was done seamlessly as if they really existed in real life.  The story left you wondering "what if it were really true?" at the end because it was done so well.  I enjoyed it's creativity and engaging story and I recommend it.  For those of you who aren't supernatural fans, this book has enough of a historical fiction flair and a journey that will satisfy your needs otherwise.

Request Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter from the Bangor Public Library

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Picard

book jacket
Recommendation from a library patron:
I truly enjoyed this book.  It is a murder mystery, but the mystery unfolds slowly, and the characters are so well crafted I found myself drawn to their story.  The best story I've read in a while.

Book review:
A decades-old mystery is solved and a woman’s haunting questions put to rest in Pickard’s latest thriller. When she was just three years old, Jody Linder lost both parents in one night, when her father, Hugh Jay—eldest son of the wealthiest rancher in the small town of Rose, Kansas—was killed and her mother, Laurie, vanished. Raised by grandparents, Hugh Senior and Annabelle Linder, and with loving support from three uncles, Jody spends years collecting human detritus around the area’s towering Testament Rocks, where authorities once searched for clues to Laurie’s disappearance. Jody’s world is rocked 23 years later when Billy Crosby, the vicious drunk convicted of her father’s murder on circumstantial evidence, is released for a new trial; his return to town brings events to a head. In her second stand-alone (after The Virgin of Small Plains, 2006), Pickard shows her storytelling skills, weaving elements of deception, revenge, and romance into a novel with full-bodied characters who deal with tragedy as best they can; Annabelle Linder’s encounter with Crosby’s wife is particularly moving. From an award-winning author, this is engrossing fiction with an eminently satisfying denouement.
~Starred Review from Booklist

Request The Scent of Rain and Lightning at the Bangor Public Library