July 2011 Archives

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MEOW; here is another book with a cute, fluffy cat on the cover but with a twist. Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa, M.D. is not a collection of charming anecdotes of Oscar's behavior and daily excursions. In fact, this book is not as much about Oscar the cat as it is about different ways a residential care facility has dealt with patients suffering from dementia.

Dr. David Dosa and Oscar made headlines in 2007 when the doctor published an article in a medical journal describing Oscar's ability to sense a patient's approaching death. By doing that, Oscar supplied comfort to the residents and also to their families dealing with the latter stages of Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of end-stage dementia. It is interesting to note that Dr. Dosa was not a self-proclaimed fan of cats and was initially skeptical of Oscar's intuitiveness and healing presence. While observing Oscar and the effect he had on the residents and their families, the doctor came to realize that the cat does indeed have special abilities. He fills his book with narratives that touch upon the care given to those dying patients by the residential facility, interviews with remaining family members and the effect Oscar has on all that encountered him.

Making Rounds with Oscar will not only enchant cat lovers, but will touch the hearts of anyone who has ever had a friend or family member affected by Alzheimer's disease.

Submitted by Lori @ Central


The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Imagine wallpaper that is repellant, atrocious, infuriating, grotesque and horrid. This is the kind of wallpaper that drives one woman crazy in Charlotte Perkins-Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. The story is told from the point of view of an un-named woman character suffering from nervous conditions in a rented mansion in the English countryside. Deprived of society and stimulation of any kind by her well-meaning husband, the woman is only allowed to lie around and stare at the wallpaper in her room. As she becomes absorbed in the wallpaper she slowly loses her sanity trying to make sense of the pattern that she believes is somehow out to get her. Perkins-Gilman is an accomplished narrator of women's lives and this book is a shining example of some of her greatest work.

Submitted by Maria @ Central


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Lighten Up with America's Test Kitchen!

America'sTestKitchenJacket.jpgIf you've been celebrating Culinary month this July with a little too much butter and sugar, perhaps you'd like to try some lighter recipes. The America's Test Kitchen has released their encyclopedic family cookbook with a nod to your health. The Test Kitchen staff has toiled over numerous revisions of family favorites until arriving at the perfect balance of full flavor and healthier ingredients. The brownie recipe calls for light sour cream to maintain the moist texture, and many recipes substitute heart healthy Omega 3 fats for saturated fat. The cookbook provides specific product recommendations based on blind taste tests of important ingredients like light mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, and low fat cheese. The authors illustrate the cooking process in a way that makes their recipes approachable for even the most inexperienced home cook. After borrowing this book from the library, you just might need to buy your own copy like I did.

Submitted by Anna from Central

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Legendary singer and actress, Ethel Waters' life is a prime example of life being stranger than fiction. Waters rose from a poverty stricken childhood to a life of wealth and fame. A child of rape, Ethel Waters had a difficult childhood with her emotionally distant mother. At seventeen, Waters began her entertainment career by singing in nightclubs in her native Pennsylvania. Soon she began traveling on the 'chitlin circuit' performing in night clubs across the United States, under the indignities of Jim Crow laws. As Waters' fame rose during the 1920's and 1930's, she performed in several Broadway stage productions and Hollywood films. Waters' life held much success including several hit records and an Academy Award nomination for her role in the film, Pinky Water's also battled hardships in her life, such as an unwanted teenage marriage, the death of her beloved grandmother and many failed romantic relationships. Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters includes quotes from Ethel Waters' autobiography, His Eye Is On The Sparrow, which helps Bogle create a multi-faceted biography of a talented woman with a complex personality. Despite being over six hundred pages, Heat Wave reads quick and easy, like a good beach novel.

Submitted by Gabriel @ Central


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Manga Must-Reads at Milwaukee Public Library

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Confession: I judge books by their covers all the time. Probably not the best habit for a librarian, but the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? One area where this habit does come in handy: manga. Eye-catching covers are commonplace in the manga landscape but good looks with no substance does not a pleasant reading experience make. Hence this manga must-read list: the books featured above, Death Note, Genshiken, and Pluto are highly acclaimed manga series with enough character development, intricate plot twists, conflict, and appealing artwork to lure just about anyone into the manga universe.

Death Note is a popular series following Light, a brilliant young man who stumbles across a notebook with extraordinary power. If your name is written in the notebook, you're dead. Light begins writing names of murderers and other criminals but soon draws the attention of Interpol and reclusive detective L, who is determined to catch Light at all costs.

Genshiken is about Japan's hardcore manga, anime, gaming, and cosplay fans, known as otaku. The series focuses on a group of college students' love of visual culture and the bonds of friendship that form from shared interests. Genshiken's naturalistic artwork is a highlight of the series.

Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka follows robot detective Gesicht as he solves a series of robot and human murders. Pluto is loosely based on a classic Astro Boy story, "The Greatest Robot on Earth." Film noir elements and excellent character development make Pluto a standout series and who doesn't love a good robot murder mystery?

Submitted by Nobuta @ Milwaukee Public Library


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Cool Reads

You've spent your day hanging out in the nice, cool library. Then you head to the movies just for the A/C. There are so many fans blasting in your bedroom that you may have created an entirely new weather system.

Sound familiar?

There's nothing like an icy treat in this weather. Let our books help you chill out!

ice pop joy.jpg Ice pop joy : organic, healthy, fresh, delicious by Anni Daulter
These recipes are made without added sugar, and range from kid-friendly yogurt pops to grown-up treats like herbal tea pops and more.

ultimate ice cream.jpg The ultimate ice cream book : over 500 ice creams, sorbets, granitas, drinks, and more by Bruce Weinstein
The title pretty much says it all. Yum!

paletas.jpg Paletas : authentic recipes for Mexican ice pops, shaved ice, & aguas frescas by Fany Gerson
Does your mouth water when you hear the bells of the New Paleteria Leon ice cream truck go by? Now you can make your own Mexican summer specialties!

should i share my ice cream.jpg Should I share my ice cream? by Mo Willems
Even adults will get a laugh out of Mo Willem's delicious little story about sharing and the power of friendship.

On a diet? Stay cool with a book about the history of ice cream.

Submitted by Audrey @ Forest Home


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Wanna make a Gen-Xer feel really old? Tell them that Nirvana's Nevermind album came out 20 years ago. Also mention that rocker Bob Mould, of Hüsker Dü and Sugar fame, is now 50 years old. The alt-rock elder statesman has finally taken the time to write his autobiography, called See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody. In his book, the famously private Mould gives fans a personal look into the life of the man behind the songs. He talks about everything here, from his difficult childhood, the rise and fall of the seminal Hüskers and the fertile Twin Cities music scene of the Eighties, his solo career, and coming to terms with his homosexuality. The book contains its fair share of juicy insider stories and score-settling with former band mates and lovers, but avoids overindulgence by maintaining a strong focus on his journey as an artist and an individual. Mould's book is a compelling and enjoyable read for casual and hard-core fans alike.

Submitted by Brett @ Washington Park


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The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffrey Deaver

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Help! Hit men are on the loose in northern Wisconsin!

The rugged landscape of fictional Kennesha County is a great setting for a rugged Wisconsin woman, who also happens to be a deputy sheriff, to survive while being hunted like a deer in November.

Deputy Brynn McKenzie, who reminded me of Marge from the movie Fargo, responds to a 911 call to a remote cottage on Lake Mondac and finds a Milwaukee social worker and his wife, a high powered attorney, executed.

She also finds the killers are still there!

I had images of Deliverance, Rambo and No Country for Old Men while cheering for Brynn as she apes a Wisconsinite female version of Grizzly Adams being chased by killers who seem awfully adept at woodsmanship even though they reside in Milwaukee and Chicago respectively.

I may joke about the stereotypical characters, but this is a fine, taut thriller that, though predictable, is pure put your "brain in a bucket" summer reading.

Just don't take this book to the cabin up north on vacation!

Check catalog availability

Submitted by Dan@Central



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The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino

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On the 15th of June, 1767, twelve year old Cosimo Piovasco di Rondo goes up into the trees and refuses to come down for the rest of his life. So begins Italo Calvino's whimsical novel The Baron in the Trees. In order to escape the confines of his title and all the duties that come along with it, Cosimo never sets foot on the ground again. Narrated by his brother Biago, the story follows Cosimo's life in the trees and takes the reader through his loves, adventures, and his relationship with his elusive neighbor Viola. The story gives a unique view of Enlightenment in 18th century Italy. This is a must read for any fans of magical realism.

Submitted by Maria @ MPL Central


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Harry Potter is over--What now?

A number of us grew up with Harry Potter, but in between re-reading those fabulous seven books, these titles should fulfill a desire for magic, history and coming of age.

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The Magicians by Lev Grossman stars Quentin Coldwater. He is a senior in high school, but he's totally hung up on a series of fantasy novels set in a land called Fillory that he read when he was younger. So he's completely surprised when he finds himself admitted to an elite college of magic where he learns the craft of modern sorcery. Want more? The sequel, The Magician King will be out in August.

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If you want to find out how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill, you want to read The Secret History by Donna Tartt. A group of smart students at a New England college are groomed by their enigmatic classics professor to live beyond the boundaries of typical morality and their lives are changed forever.

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In Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey we meet James Stark. He was kidnapped by demons when he was nineteen and is working as a sideshow gladiator in Hell. He escapes and goes to Los Angeles where he makes plans to ruin the magic circle that stole his life.

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Edward Moon, a stage magician and detective, works with a silent assistant, the Somnambulist. Together they scheme to recreate the apocalyptic prophecies of Samuel Taylor Coleridge to bring down the British Empire. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

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If you deemed the Twilight series as 'just for kids,' or if you've been awaiting the next book from Justin Cronin after reading The Passage last summer, this might help tide you over--at least for a day (you'll want to read it in one sitting!).

In The Last Werewolf, Jake Marlowe becomes, as the title implies, the last living werewolf on earth. He is being hunted by WOCOP, the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena, and by vampires. Vamps are looking for him because they've discovered that a werewolf bite can desensitize them to the horrors of sun exposure. Just as Jake is about to give up hope, a twist comes along that motivates him to keep going, and just a few more days may be enough...

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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Up In Honey's Room by Elmore Leonard

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I can honestly say this quirky novel is my first fictional literary experience regarding escaped Nazi POW's hanging out in Detroit!

The joy of reading Elmore Leonard, in my opinion, is the snappy dialogue between absurd characters that frame each chapter into "scenes" that move the story along. Each "scene," when compounded into a collective narrative, tells the story in a jagged, jutty style that is sure to answer any unclear plot developments in the very next chapter, usually through some remarkable dialogue between freaky characters.

Speaking of freaky characters, this book has some memorable doozies! Besides the above mentioned Nazi POW's, we are also treated to a drunken, washed up Nazi spy and her cross-dressing houseboy with a "Buster Brown" haircut, a naturalized Nazi butcher who is the splitting image of Heinrich Himmler, a U.S. Marshal with amazing self control and a racist obstetrician!

Oh, I almost forgot about Honey. Honey is the main character of the book. Honey is a woman comfortable in her own skin. She's also comfortable shedding her clothes, sometimes with a Nazi POW and sometimes with a U.S. Marshal. She was also married to the Himmler lookalike! She's hilarious. She's an individual. I really liked Honey and found myself rooting for her throughout the story.

I'm not going to say what this book is about, but it takes place in Detroit circa 1945 and involves eradicating a Nazi spy ring made up of total goofs.

Ya just can't go wrong with any Elmore Leonard book.
Check catalog availability.
Submitted by Dan @ Central



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American Eden by Wade Graham

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What do gardens say about the people who designed them? Wade Graham's American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to Our Backyards: What Our Gardens Tell Us About Who We Are is a history of American gardens, particularly those of the upper class and those in public spaces. This carefully researched book shows not only photographs, but the actual plans of many famous and fabulous gardens. Does the person with a formal garden lead a life different than the person with a looser style garden? Suggested for those who enjoy gardening, architecture, landscaping and social history.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


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Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

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Wow! I don't even know where to start. This book is like nothing I have ever read before and I don't think I will ever find anything like it in the future. The story takes place in the small town of Portero where everyone wears black and where Fancy and Kit live. They are the daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer. Now enters all kinds of craziness - an alternate world called The Happy Place, bizarre creatures called cacklers, a group called the Mortmaine who only wear green, and, oh yeah, Kit and Fancy decide to follow in their father's footsteps as serial killers. I won't tell you more than that. You wouldn't believe me if I did. This book is definitely not for everyone. It is disturbing and the gory murders and corpses are carefully described. Readers beware.

Click on the book cover above to check the catalog for available copies.
Submitted by Valerie @ Central



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Usefulness in Small Things

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usefulness_ist.jpg Usefulness in Small Things by
Kim Colin & Sam Hecht (c2010)

Colin and Hecht's "Under a Fiver" collection is a gentle celebration of odd and classy low-cost consumables found quietly lurking amongst the thoughtless mass-produced heaps at your local retailer. Usefulness in Small Things showcases these increasingly rare, yet humble, everyday items that stand out for their artistic merit and aesthetically appealing, functional design.

Finally, an art book for shopping cart pushers. Enjoy.

Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom S. @ MPL Central


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Summer of China

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When the news broke that Milwaukee is one of only three North American cities to host the The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City exhibit about the emperor Qianlong who ruled China from 1736 to 1796, I thought wasn't there an exhibit on him in Chicago several years ago? After jogging my memory, I remembered seeing the Splendors of China's Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong exhibit at the Field Museum in 2004.

While both exhibits focused on Qianlong, each is unique. The Milwaukee Art Museum's (MAM) The Emperor's Private Paradise exhibit showcases 90 artifacts from Qianlong Garden and Forbidden City in Beijing. Chicago's Field Museum Splendors of China's Forbidden City exhibit displayed almost 400 objects from Beijing's Palace Museum. A few of the most striking artworks are paintings that combine Chinese and Western art perspectives and techniques, the latter brought by Qianlong's Jesuit court missionaries.
Whether you recently saw or plan to visit MAM's exhibit, borrow both coffee table exhibit catalogs. You'll enjoy their rich illustrations and informative text.

Check catalog for The Emperor's Private Paradise availability.

Check catalog for Splendors of China's Forbidden City availability.

Submitted by Van Lingle Mungo


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Blood Harvest by S J Bolton

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The Fletcher family believes they've found the perfect home in the remote English village of Heptonclough. A beautiful house, the scenery of the moors, and friendly neighbors make Alice and Gareth Fletcher glad they decided to make the move to this tiny village. Their 10 year-old son Tom, however, isn't convinced, especially after he notices a shadowed figure following him. Tom, six-year-old Joe, and two-year-old Millie, have all seen the figure hiding behind gravestones and calling out to them in their mother's voice. It doesn't take long for even the adults to begin to realize something is very wrong in Heptonclough. When little Millie's life is continually placed in jeopardy by an unknown person and Joe goes missing, psychiatrist Dr. Evi Oliver and the new vicar Rev. Harry Laylock begin to find disturbing links between the previous deaths of three little girls and current events in the village. Blood Harvest is S.J. Bolton's third thriller, and much like her first novel Sacrifice, there is a masterful mix of psychological and supernatural elements. Mystery fans should also check out Bolton's newest novel, Now You See Me, for an intricately plotted puzzler involving a Jack the Ripper copycat.

Submitted by Kristina @MPL Central


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Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

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For followers of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Ann Brashares reacquaints readers with the four Septemberists in her newest novel Sisterhood Everlasting. It is 10 years later and Carmen, Bridget (Bee), Lena and Tibby are now on the brink of turning 30. They are in seemingly predictable places in their adult lives. Carmen is acting in New York City and engaged. Bee is as free-spirited as ever and now in California with a former love. Lena is an isolated art teacher working in Rhode Island and Tibby has moved to Australia.

We discover at the beginning of the story that these four have lost touch; they have painfully drifted apart which is evident in how much they miss each other. Tibby attempts to resolve this by sending them all tickets for a reunion in Greece. Unfortunately, the women are met with tragedy once they converge in Greece. This tragedy, in addition to how the Septemberists deal or fail to deal with it is the prevailing theme for the rest of the novel. Although the traveling pants are no longer present, the reader travels with the characters along the California coast, from New York City to New Orleans on a train and revisits Bapi's house in Santorini. This novel is a worthwhile read, especially as a nice wrap-up to the lives and relationships of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants girls.

Although this is a continuation of the Traveling Pants series, it is important to note that this book is written now with an adult point of view and includes mature themes and subject matter.

Submitted by Lori @ Central


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City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple

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Delhi never fails to capture the imagination. The city has been torn down and rebuilt countless times; it has seen the opulence and grandeur of the Mughals, the control of the British Raj, and survived and thrived through the tenuous birth of the world's largest democracy. William Dalrymple, acclaimed South Asia historian and writer, takes us through a year living in India's capital and conjures for readers the vibrant scenes of an ever changing city. Mughal monuments, some long abandoned and others still used by the city's substantial Muslim population, stand side by side with cell phone shops and Sikh and Hindu temples. Dalrymple spends his year exploring the intersection of modernity and history in this place said to be guarded by Djinns -spirits fashioned from fire. A talented writer, he seamlessly weaves tales from his experiences in Delhi with historical accounts of the city. His attachment to Delhi is clear and his passion is contagious. Speaking on his first encounter with the city Dalrymple says, "From the very beginning I was mesmerized by the great capital, so totally unlike anything I had ever seen before. Delhi...was full of riches and horrors: it was a labyrinth, a city of palaces, an open gutter, filtered light through a filigree lattice, a landscape of domes, an anarchy, a press of people, a choke of fumes, a whiff of spice." With City of Djinns readers will feel they too are traveling through the fascinating city and come to understand the unique allure of Delhi. Click here for a complete list of works by William Dalrymple.

Submitted by Kristina@MPL Central


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The Eastern Stars by Mark Kurlansky

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The names Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero are well-known among Major League Baseball fans. What these players all have in common besides astronomical talent and millions of fans (and dollars) is the fact that they all hail from the same tiny Latin-American country, the Dominican Republic. Dominicans by far outstrip any other foreign nationalities represented in the Major Leagues, exceeding representatives from other baseball-crazy countries such as Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, and Japan. So what accounts for this tiny, economically challenged Caribbean nation having such an incredible impact on "our" game? This is the question Mark Kurlansky attempts to answer in his book, The Eastern Stars.

Kurlansky, the author of Cod and Salt, turns his keen investigative eye towards this phenomenon by studying the impact of baseball on the Dominican city San Pedro de Macorís, a remote, sleepy community that alone has produced 79 Major League ballplayers in its history (including the aforementioned Sosa). Kurlansky looks into the city's history and multiethnic culture and provides insights from the players, coaches, managers, and veterans who oversee the tough and highly disciplined player development structures built into the culture of the town. He also discusses how baseball, to a lot of these kids, is seen as the only way of climbing out of the wretched poverty they experience. This book will be of interest not only to baseball fans but anyone interested in Dominican and Latin American culture and history. If you enjoy this book, I highly recommend checking out the 2008 movie Sugar, also available at the Milwaukee Public Library.

Submitted by Brett @ Washington Park


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The Kid by Sapphire

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Sapphire is known to a wide audience due to her successful debut novel, Push, which was adapted into the Oscar-winning movie Precious. Now she has written a sequel, The Kid, which begins with the death of Precious and follows the life of her son Jamal Abdul Louis Jones into his teens. Jamal is tossed into the foster home system and is mocked and beaten until finally being sent to the St. Ailanthus School for Boys. There the priests take advantage of him sexually and he is eventually thrown out because he in turn abuses a couple of boys at the school. Caught alone in the world, he grows frustrated and angry. Sapphire was interviewed at New York Public Library's Harlem branch. Below is the video of the interview that accompanies the story from USA Today.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


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The Wake Trilogy by Lisa McMann

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Janie has talent no one would ever want to possess - she inadvertently gets pulled into other nearby sleeping people's dreams. Some of the dreams play out people's worst nightmares and memories endlessly terrorizing Janie even when she's awake. Finally after seventeen years of living with this chaos Janie finds two people that believe in what she can actually do - a new boyfriend and a detective on the local police force. With their support Janie's life becomes both normal, she has a boyfriend, and more bizarre, she works with the police to solve crimes. The intense relationships and mystery in this series create a riveting read, however, this trilogy is not your average fantasy with teens, supernatural powers and adventure. It's dark and the crimes are disturbing so be forewarned.

Click on the book covers above to the check the catalogue for availability.

Visit the author's website here.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central



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Maine by J Courtney Sullivan

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If you're looking for a book to transport you into another family's life for a while, look no further. Maine is told from the point of view of four women in the Kelleher family; Alice, the matriarch, Maggie, Alice's granddaughter, Kathleen, the daughter, and Ann Marie, Alice's daughter in law. In this Irish Catholic family everyone talks about everyone else behind their backs; they have a love-hate relationship with one another. Each thinks they know just what the others shortcomings are and, as we find out, they're not too far off the mark. This summer, as they arrive at the family beach house in Maine, they slowly share secrets including a pregnancy, an inappropriate crush and a deeply held resentment for past misdeeds.

Sullivan (Commencement) has written a very intuitive portrait of family. The mother-daughter relationships resonated for me quite strongly because I fear I will turn into my mother. We often don't see eye to eye and spend a good deal of time practicing our passive aggressive communication skills with one another. The Kelleher women have similar relationship dynamics and it was amusing to watch them learn to come to terms with the fact that, like or not, they're family. Though relationships would stretch toward a breaking point, and things did snap, they never broke.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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