I'm a New Englander by birth and by choice. Truly, I love the 603. I try to enjoy the little things and find humor in the everyday. Which is good because I have a little boy and everyday is a new experience with plenty to laugh about. What this means in terms of my reading preferences is that I will vacillate any where between award winners and classic literature to popular fiction and fantasy. Lately I'm reading lots of kids books too. I enjoy crafting, cooking, writing, long walks on the beach, moonlight, ice cream, bubbles, glitter,...wait, that's just silly.
Heather's August 2015 pick
All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven
So much beauty depends on how you look at something. Your outlook and your perspective defines your world. Your view can create boundaries, tear them down, provide safety or grant you freedom.
What if you climbed a tower to gain perspective, to regain control or to get away. What if you stepped out on the very edge of that tower to see how easy it would be to step off, or to test if you could not step off... and then you...met someone?
This is such a beautiful and heart breaking book. It deserves all the praise. Finch and Violet are characters that will stay with you for a long time. It's an honest and uplifting look at suicide, depression and bipolar disorder. Yes that is possible. But be prepared to cry a bit too.
Heather's May 2015 pick
A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
Beautiful, dark, and seductive. These are truly otherworldly fairies, not the pretty, lovely, fluffy, tiny pixie things either but the bold and varied, cruel and dangerous sort. The type that whisk the unwary off to fairyland and make you dance until you die. The type of fairies that alternately love humans passionately with everything they have, or kill them on a whim for a moment of fun. Feyre meets both sorts on her quest to protect her family and is a tough and wise huntress as well. The land Maas creates is enticing. I read this and wanted to spend eternity there. Don’t let the Young Adult category fool you, this is a very sexy book.
Heather's May 2014 pick
Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan
This novel is a solid second novel from Horan. Fans of Loving Frank will be happy to find another strong female character in Fanny Van de Grift. As a former frontierswoman, Fanny has the courage to leave her womanizing husband behind and take her three children to live in Europe. Struggling as a female artist and writer traveling alone in 1857, this it no small undertaking. It requires heart, charm and quite a bit of resourcefulness. When in France Fanny meets the future famous author Robert Louis Stevenson and falls in love despite their differences in age and class. This novel is not a sweeping, grand story of romance, however. It is a story of overcoming loss and circumstance to be with the person you love and what it means to truly stand by that person in difficult times.
Heather's April 2014 pick
Not Your Typical Dragon, by Dan Bar-el
I love children's stories that are creative, funny and sweet, but I also prefer children's stories that can deliver a good moral lesson with out being heavy handed. This is such a charming tale of growth and acceptance. Not Your Typical Dragon is one of those lovely books you can feel good about reading over and over again.
Crispin is a little dragon happily getting ready for his seventh birthday with all his fire breathing family. On his Birthday, his dad assures him, he will gain his fire breathing abilities. But it turns out Crispin is Not Your Typical Dragon. He doesn't breath fire at all. Instead, he breathes everything from whipped cream and marshmallows to teddy bears and even Band-Aids. Embarrassed, Crispin runs away to hide in a cave. Until, Sir George is sent to Crispin's cave to fight a dragon. George and Crispin both have no idea how to do what is expected of them. Instead the two become friends and together they learn that being different is good, in fact, it is the things that make us different that also make us special.
Heather's January 2014 pick
The Last Runaway, by Tracy Chevalier
The year is 1850, and America is still a young nation. It is a growing country, full of restless settlers and as a people they are not always on the right path. A young woman named Honor Bright, comes to America to try to find her place in life. After a series of tragedies she finds herself alone in a world foreign in every way. As a strong minded woman, with equally strong Quaker moral beliefs that all people are equal, she cannot standby while the Fugitive Slave Law forces her peaceful Quaker community to help recapture runaway slaves or lose everything they have to the law. Instead, Honor finds her way to become part of the underground railroad, putting everyone at risk.
This is an interesting and well written story giving a voice to a seldom heard from community during a turbulent time in our nation's history. Chevalier brings to light the precarious situation the nonviolent Quakers were in during the revolutionary war and she creates an honest portrayal of the struggle their community faced when confronted with slavery between their beliefs and the American laws.
Heather's November 2013 pickS. by J.J. Abrams and Doug DorstIt is difficult to describe a book that is more than just a story. This novel itself is the experience. A visual, tactile interaction that you can't have with ebooks or audio. Honestly, you really need to see this book. Come in to the store just to open it up and marvel at the innovative way this novel has been designed to draw the reader into the story. It is formatted in an inventive multi-layered medium that demonstrates what draws "book people" to books. It is designed to bring people back to physical books.I purchased it right away and have fallen deeply and happily in love. I'm still reading it but I'm willing to recommend it as my November Staff Pick without knowing the outcome. It is that intriguing.The premiss of the novel:Two strangers, a grad student and an undergrad, are writing notes in the margins of one of the novels by an author called V.M. Straka. Using the text and footnotes they are trying to unravel the many mysteries surrounding the elusive author.Their story is nonlinear, flirtatious and argumentative at once, thus adding depth and layers of a modern romance to Straka's mythic tale. The tale, or really the book within a book, is of self discovery in an unreliable world hinting at the authors own troubles. The clues to the mystery of Straka's life lay hidden in the text.Abrams and Dorst have made those facts very tangible for readers.The pages of S. are literally stuffed with research. Each page turned can reveal letters, articles, or photos that may come fluttering out. The mysterious plot is engrossing and the story is well crafted. Overall S. is a novel any book lover would enjoy.
Heather's February 2013 review
Hokey Pokey - Jerry Spinelli
The Hokey Pokey is everything. It's a child's world, a dream, an icy in any flavor you can imagine, a dance. It's Cartoons all day and night. It's Tantrums when you need to throw one. It's the Snuggler when you need a hug. It's an old western world of cap gun battles, where herds of wild bicycles roam. It's kids and all they encompass until simply, "it's...time". Suddenly, things are different and you realize you have to go. Spinelli creates a great coming of age story full of innocence and vitality. The Hokey Pokey invokes a surreal Neverland where no one can stay but no one can conceive of leaving.
Heather's January 2013 pick
This month I am choosing a children's book. And why not? It deserves my attention and and reader's notice that has a sense of humor. Mo Willems's Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs is hilarious. It gives the grownups reading to their little one (for the seventh time that day) a much needed giggle. I can't wait until my son is old enough to appreciate the comic genius behind Willems's work. Any child familiar with the Three Bears story will find plenty of visual jokes and cheeky bits of narration to get them laughing. Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur and some other dinosaur visiting from Norway just happen to go somewhere else and leave out giant bowels of chocolate pudding. They "are NOT setting a trap for some succulent, unsupervised little girl."
Heather's November 2012 pick
Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
Now in paperback:
Where does the inspiration for art come from? Divinity? Madness? A gorgeous blue muse and a creepy little imp? Christopher Moore's Sacre Bleu has all these elements and more. This is another fabulous and fun book from Moore. It has his clasic irreverent style and off kilter (and yes, off-color) humor. In this new novel Moore takes art history and turns it on its head, blending fact and fiction in a dizzying and delightful way. It gave me the feeling of visiting the Louvre with a rubber chicken in hand. If you have a love of art and a hearty sense of humor, I suggest reading this romp. You won't look at art or the color blue without a smile.
Heather's April 2012 pick
Arcadia is a moving novel that is at once both sentimental and amazingly honest. This is a beautifully written novel with lines that read almost like poetry.
The story follows the birth of Bit Stone as the first full member of the Arcadia Commune through his coming of age and his fall from Eden into his adult years. During the idealistic beginnings of the Commune, Bit's innocence falls away as he learns to see the darker side of human nature through his struggles to comprehend his mother's depression and his father's power battle with the guru in charge. Eventually due to the corruption of the girl he loves along with the destruction of the only place he has ever called home, we see Bit continue to find the duality of beauty and innocence coexisting with depravity and decay in the larger world.
It is an utterly poignant novel and relevant to the current state of the world.
Heather's January 2012 pick
Set in Le Cirqu Des Reves, a circus where anything is possible and held only at night , a competition blooms between magicians turned star-crossed lovers. The novel is an excellent example of true magic, transporting the reader into a candle lit world of paper and illusion with the scent of caramel popcorn in the air. Morgenstern seduces her readers with lush prose, constructing a beautiful and shimmering world delicately balanced between the light and dark of ambition and dreams. I would agree with Morgenstern when she writes, "put that way, it sounds rather like magic, doesn't it?" Reading the novel, you can't help but become one of the Reveurs, the dreamers and biggest fans of the Night Circus.
This book is totally worth all the hype built up around it. This is the fifth in the Song of Ice and Fire series and even this far along George R.R. Martin is still proving he can come up with some great surprises. HBO picked up the series and is doing a really stellar job with the project. I suggest starting to read them now so you can compare the books to the screen version, always a fun pastime. The reason these books are so worth while? The characters. True to life, no one is pure evil or wholly good. I love that I've found myself cheering for the "bad guy" on more than one occasion. They are vivid and complex stories about family, honor and survival. And sometimes about surviving the politics of a family with or without honor.