Mary

Sophie and the Rising Sun by Augusta Trobaugh (2001)

sophieMiddle-aged Sophie follows all the rules of proper behavior and she has dutifully spent her life caring for her mother and two aunts. She spends her leisure time attending book clubs, setting crab traps, and painting on Sunday mornings by the river in lieu of attending church. Her staid, confined world expands when Mr. Oto arrives in Salty Creek, Georgia, and becomes the gardener of her friend Miss Ann. When Pearl Harbor occurs, Mr. Oto’s position in the close knit community becomes precarious. In Sophie and the Rising Sun, Augusta Trobaugh has crafted a romance with interesting characters and created an evocative sense of place.
Mary

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013)

oceanlaneI read The Ocean at the End of the Lane one afternoon, and was quickly drawn into the magical world that Neil Gaiman created. After giving a eulogy at a funeral in Sussex, England, a middle-aged man decides to re-visit the house at the end of the lane which he visited as a child. This is a lovely farmhouse full of warmth and fresh, delicious food. It’s where the Hempstock women lived—the elderly grandmother, mother, and Lettie, the daughter with whom he was friends. As a young boy, he learns that the Hempstocks are guardians who ward off dark forces that surround our world. During his visit, a frightening childhood memory of a dark, menacing presence that entered his life in the form of a young woman named Ursula resurfaces.
Mary

Force Majeure (2014) R

forceTomas and Ebba, along with their two children, are enjoying a family ski vacation in the French Alps. A controlled avalanche comes perilously close to the outdoor restaurant where they are enjoying lunch. As diners run in panic, Ebba calls for Tomas to help her. Tomas, however, has grabbed his cell phone and fled. No one is harmed and the family resumes their vacation, but Ebba cannot forgive Tomas’ instinct to run and his refusal to acknowledge that he failed to protect his family.

Force Majeure, a well-executed psychodrama, will have you questioning Ebba’s and Tomas’ role in the incident that caused a shift in the family’s dynamics.

In Swedish with English subtitles.
Mary

The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison (2014)

bishopswifeMette Ivie Harrison’s first mystery combines an insider’s knowledge of a small Mormon ward in Draper, Utah, with an intriguing contemporary crime story. Linda Wallheim is the bishop’s wife and a mother of five children. She is hard working and devout, but also questions the church’s patriarchal structure and secrecy. When she suspects that a young wife fled her husband due to abuse, Linda finds she must follow her inner convictions to unravel the truth.

Check out The Bishop’s Wife today.
Mary

March. Book Two by John Lewis (2015)

march_book_two_72dpi_lgWritten in a graphic novel format, book two of U.S. Representative John Lewis’ autobiography, March, begins with President Obama’s first inauguration, and then quickly flashes back to the Nashville, 1960 diner and movie sit-in campaign. When he was 23 years old, Lewis became chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He also participated in the dangerous and deadly Freedom Rides into the Deep South, and spoke at the historic March on Washington. Lewis recounts the internal struggles of the civil rights movements, such as the pressure he received to change his March on Washington speech as well the challenge to nonviolence approach that groups such as the Black Power movement posed.
Mary

Taking Sides (2001)

takingsidesBased on the life of Wilhelm Furtwangler, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Taking Sides examines Furtwangler’s role during the Nazi era. Was he a collaborator as hard-nosed U.S. Major Arnold sets out to prove? Or was he an artist who walked a tightrope as he tried to keep his music separate from politics?
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Mary

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer (2014)

artofstillnessAmidst the hustle and excitement of his world travels, Pico Iyer discovered that “In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still." You can read this slim book in an afternoon—provided you can sit down and stay put. Find a copy of The Art of Stillness today.
Mary

Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead (2010)

fatsickdeadThis entertaining documentary may not inspire you to go out and buy a juicer, but it will make you aware of the debilitating effects of obesity and an unhealthy diet. Australian filmmaker Joe Cross is overweight and suffering from the side effects of a steroid he takes to treat an autoimmune disease. In desperation, he goes on a 60 day juice fast as he travels across the United States. As he regains his health (and loses weight), he shares his story with people he encounters, including a morbidly obese trucker from Iowa who suffers from the same autoimmune disease Cross had.

Find a copy of Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead at the library—and then watch Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead 2 on Hoopla.
Mary

A Place of Execution by Val McDermid (2000)

placeexecutionIn her first standalone mystery, crime writer Val McDermid crafts a gripping village mystery concerning the disappearance of a 13-year-old girl. Lots of twists in the plot combined with an unusual community provide a fast read. Check out A Place of Execution today.
Mary

Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (2005)

33teethThis second book featuring Laos’ reluctant national coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun maintains the charm and fascinating insights into the 1970s Laotian culture that Colin Cotterill demonstrated in The Coroner’s Lunch. In Thirty-Three Teeth, Paiboun uses his forensic and psychic skills to unravel several mysteries plaguing the Laotian capitol of Vientiane.
Mary

Dark Voyage by Alan Furst (2004)

darkvoyageFor writers of historical espionage set during World War II, Alan Furst is hard to beat. Dark Voyage introduces Dutch Merchant Marine Captain Eric DeHaan and his hardscrabble crew. When the Dutch naval intelligence recruits DeHaan and his ship, DeHaan reluctantly embarks on a dangerous secret mission. Risking his life and that of his crew and passengers, DeHaan must outwit spies, smugglers, and the German Navy.

For other gritty mysteries, check out our list.
Mary

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka (2002)

divineemperorThis slip of a book will remain with you for days. Julie Otsuka’s poetic language skillfully and delicately reveals the story of a Japanese American family’s internment in a Utah camp. The father, a successful businessman, is separated from his wife and children and sent to a camp in New Mexico. The family is reunited at their home in Berkeley. However, they find their former lives changed forever, and their property has been quietly stripped of all that they held before their imprisonment.

Find When the Emperor was Divine and other tales of life on the home front in WWII here.
Mary

Red Means Run by Brad Smith (2012)

redmeansrunWhen successful criminal lawyer Mickey Dupree is found dead on a golf course in upstate New York, all fingers point to ex-baseball player turned farmer Virgil Cain as his killer. Several weeks earlier, Cain had spouted off in the local bar that “someone ought to blow Mickey’s head off.” That statement alone is sufficient evidence for police detective Brady to place Cain in custody for Dupree’s murder.

When Virgil realizes that Brady is not interested in looking for other possible suspects, he breaks out of jail to prove his innocence. Attractive and highly capable police Chief Claire Marchand has her doubts that Virgil is the murderer and she finds herself helping Cain search for the killer. Great characters, an interesting plot, and the interactions between Claire and Virgil make for a great story in Red Means Run by Brad Smith.
Mary

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead (2014)

astonishmeThe world of professional ballet is the centerpiece of this character-driven novel. To dance for a professional New York ballet company is no small feat, but for Joan her role as a member of the ballet corps does meet her aspirations. She becomes romantically involved with Arslan, a Soviet ballet star whom she helped defect to the U.S. Arslan takes the U.S. ballet scene by storm while Joan’s career declines. She leaves the ballet company, marries her best friend from high school, and has a son. Her son Harry becomes the ballet star which Joan had hoped to become, and it is through his success that Arslan reenters her life. Maggie Shipstead’s Astonish Me rekindled memories of Baryshnikov’s defection to the West in 1974, and his impact on American ballet.
Mary

March: Book One by John Lewis (2013)

marchbook1Jez, one of our Adult Services Associates, introduced me to this autobiography of U.S. Representative John Lewis written in a graphic novel format. I was skeptical that a graphic novel could adequately portray Congressman Lewis’ accomplishments as a young civil rights leader, but after reading several pages I found myself captivated by the narrative and accompanying illustrations. I learned that Lewis and other members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee used a comic book to educate civil rights workers about nonviolent resistance. It seemed fitting that Lewis would choose to write his autobiography as a graphic novel. My sole complaint is that March: Book One ends quite abruptly, and left this reader anxiously waiting for the next volume of Lewis’ autobiography.