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Jennifer

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin (2009)
A beautifully written novel set in Rwanda, Baking Cakes in Kigali eloquently demonstrates that life isn’t always black and white. Angel is a baker with a booming cake business; she is a wife; and she is a mother to her five orphaned grandchildren.

The family moves from Tanzania to Rwanda for better opportunities. They settle in a community of people from all walks of life – aid workers from the West, refugees trying to rebuild, and so many affected by AIDS.

Check out this debut author’s thought-provoking and enjoyable story set in a foreign land. If you enjoy Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, I think you’ll like this book.
Denise

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (2009)
I absolutely loved this book! I thought it was enlightening, thought-provoking, and truly engaging. It is beautifully written, with richly-drawn sympathetic characters, and a storyline that spans five decades and several continents. I enjoyed learning about Ethiopia through the author’s vivid descriptions of the people, the land, the history, and the political turmoil.

From the first page, I was drawn into the absorbing life story of Marion and Shiva Stone, twins born to a nun in Ethiopia in 1954. I was so captivated by the lives of all of the characters that I didn’t want this story to end. I anxiously await another novel by this author, and plan to read his first two non-fiction books: My Own Country and The Tennis Partner
IPPL Staff

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (2010)

I haven’t read such fun book for a long time, the kind you hate to see end. Major Pettigrew is a “one of kind character,” warm, human, complex yet naïve. The author artfully tells the story from Pettigrew’s perspective. What a story it is. A lovely Muslim storekeeper is the Juliette of this September romance and they make a delicious pair as they tread their way through prejudice of a small English town, their families, and their own personal hang ups.

 One of the strong points of the book is the pacing. It is a work of art the way the plots moves quickly along to a photo finish. The morality of change, good and bad, presents a fascinating dilemma but never in a boorish or boring way. Go for it.

 Drop in the library for a book discussion on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:00.
IPPL Staff

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (2009)
The novel traces the story of two sisters and their lives from Shanghai to California. At times it’s very heart wrenching. Shanghai Girls shows how strong the bond between sisters is.

Preview this incredibly popular book, visit the author's website, and watch the author discuss her book on YouTube.

Hugh

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich (2001)
The novel begins with a genealogy chart to help keep track of the characters. Sure enough there are miracles (that the down to earth can explain) and a rich flow of almost musical storytelling.

Learn more about this prolific author, view a reading group guide, and preview the book.
IPPL Staff

Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco

Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco (2009)
How can we take time to learn from the past during a dire and urgent emergency? As both war journalist and cartoonist, Sacco depicts the bleak existence of Palestinians living in the Gaza strip with incredible skill. He documents his interviews and the situation in contemporary Gaza while trying to piece together the events of a massacre in 1956.

The entire investigative tale, with its demolished homes and weathered inhabitants, is illustrated in jaw-dropping, painstaking detail. Sacco captures the omnipresent grief, pain and anger, along with occasional moments of humanity and levity.

Read the New York Times review and watch the author interview.

Over 400 pages long, this is not a mere comic book. This is a hefty, eye-opening read that will tug at your heart.


IPPL Staff

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (2009)
Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, has written another compelling, good read. This time it's about two beautiful, wealthy sisters, Pearl and May, who are forced into arranged marriages with two unknown American men when the bottom falls out of their father's lucrative business just as Japan invades China. Tragedy after tragedy befall them in China and in America. Their sisterly bond remains intact as they work to survive what happens. It's a page turner, but be forewarned: the ending cries “sequel to come.”

Check out the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.
Mary P.

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran (2005)
The three Aminpour sisters flee the turmoil of the Islamic Revolution in their native country of Iran. They finally make their way to a small Irish village where they open a café. The quirky characters that make up the town align with either the sisters or the town bully, Thomas McGuire, who would like to put them out of business. The author has included recipes for some Iranian specialties after describing them in detail. The contrast between the sisters’ lives in Iran and their new home in Ireland and the difference of cultures enrich this story.

Come to the library to discuss the book on Wednesday, April 14 at 7:30.  Go to BookBrowse for a summary and reviews and visit the author's website.
IPPL Staff

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003)
I really enjoyed this book. It has a good story line and well developed characters. I enjoyed learning about Afghanistan and its culture. Read more about the book and view a trailer for the movie. Read the reviews at Amazon.com and use the reading group guide.
Cindy K.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)
I loved this novel about the Gonguli family – who left their home in India in the late 1960s to begin a new life in America. It’s a story not only about the immigrant experience, but also about the family ties that bind us all. Beautifully written.

Come join the Novel Idea book discussion of this title on Wednesday, October 14 at 7:30.

Read an interview with the author, preview the book, and explore a reading guide to the book.
Jennifer

Make Him Look Good by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

Make Him Look Good by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (2006)
Set in sultry Miami, this story features an ensemble cast of six women who are connected through their relationships with Latin pop star Ricky Biscayne. This humorous chick lit novel isn’t completely lighthearted, as the characters deal with teenage pregnancy, discrimination, drugs, adultery, and more. Not for the faint of heart, the flamboyant Make Him Look Good occasionally goes into explicit detail.

Visit this bestselling author's website and take a sneak preview of the book before you visit the library.
IPPL Staff

The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Epstein


The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein (2008)
Reminiscent of Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, this novel is a re-imagining of the life of Pan Yuliang and how she went from prostitute to post-Impressionist artist. Pan Yuliang was actually one of the most talented and provocative Chinese artists of the twentieth century. The background of historical events make The Painter from Shanghai an irresistible story.

Visit the author's website, read an interview with the author, and check out the reviews.
IPPL Staff

Midnight at the Dragon Café by Judy Fong Bates

Midnight at the Dragon Café by Judy Fong Bates (2004)
This coming of age novel is a wonderfully written, unique and imaginative, first novel. Set in the 1960s, this is the story of a young girl, the daughter of a small Ontario town’s solitary Chinese family, over the course of a summer.

Told through Su-Jen’s eyes, the hard life behind the scenes at the Dragon Café unfolds. Su-Jen’s elderly father and beautiful young mother are unhappy in their marriage. Su-Jen’s mother is miserable in this new small town.

Su-Jen is rapidly adapting to life in Canada and goes through all the ups and downs of a typical 1960s childhood. She develops a friendship with Charlotte, a spirited girl who behaves in a way that is older than her years. There is also tragedy, foreshadowed, yet still a shock when it finally occurs.

The first and last paragraphs of Midnight at the Dragon Café are poignant and are Su-Jen’s reflections on a fate she thinks should have been hers.
Mary

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran (2005)
The three Aminpour sisters flee the turmoil of Iran’s Islamic Revolution to open the Babylon Café in the small Irish village of Ballinacroagh. Mehran weaves her knowledge of Persian cuisine and Iranian politics into this delightful first novel.
IPPL Staff

Meely LaBauve by Ken Wells

Meely LaBauve by Ken Wells (2000)
Meely LaBauve is a fifteen-year-old Cajun boy living in the swamps of 1960s Louisiana. His mother long dead and his father often away hunting gators, Meely is left to his own devices to feed himself and go to school when he wishes. When a school bully, Junior Guidry, decides to teach Meely a lesson, it takes Meely, his pa and the friends he didn’t know he had to outwit Junior and his crooked cop uncle, and triumph before the judge. This coming-of-age novel is reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn and has a fine ear for dialect and some laugh-out-loud moments. You will root for Meely.