Great Reads

Wilson, Kevin. The Family Fang

This sharply comic first novel kept my interest from start to finish and has often entered my thoughts months after finishing it.  The story centers on the chaotic art that performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang create along with their two children who are participants—often unwillingly—in the bedlam their parents force upon others…in shopping malls, subway stations, and various other public places.  As the novel progresses, we see how this life has affected the psyches of the Fang children.

The Family Fang is more than just a highly entertaining story.  It is a novel that leaves the reader with some big questions, such as: “What is art?” “Is art worth it for art sake?” and “Does every family subject their children to their own personal “performance art?”

This is a great book, and I wait with anticipation for the next novel by this author.

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Benioff, David. City of Thieves.

In this coming-of-age story set during the siege of Leningrad, Lev and Kolya, a teenager and a young soldier who have both been arrested for petty crimes and sentenced to death, are given one last chance by a Colonel to save their lives if they can achieve the impossible: find a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake. The next few days Lev and Kolya go on an epic journey to find this rare ingredient, navigating the terrors and sadness of their desperate city.  After crossing into German territory, Lev and Kolya must depend on each other more and more and their unlikely friendship strengthens as their mission reaches new levels of danger and consequences.

The modern-day odyssey is based on the experiences of the author's own grandfather, a now-retired Lev, who lives in Florida. Although set within a period of a few days, the events that happened effect the teenager for the rest of his life. This story should not be missed.

Just a Thought -- What's On the New Book Cart?

One of the perks of being a librarian is seeing all the new books come in before they go out to the shelves. In the past, we've occasionally picked some new, yet-to-be-shelved titles to feature here and let our readers in on the fun. We haven't done a post like that in too long, so here are some picks from our newest new book cart!


Lister, Michael.  "The Big Goodbye" (MYS)

"Stylish, retro, and highly entertaining. Michael Lister's PI Jimmy "Solider" Riley is a compelling noir hero." (From the book jacket)


Maberry, Jonathan.  "Dead of Night" (F)

"A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side effects. Before he can be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang...but a bite." (from the book jacket)


Oates, Joyce Carol. "The Corn Maiden and other Nightmares" (F)

"The seven stories in this stellar collections may prompt the reader to turn on all the lights or jump at imagined noises." (from the inside flap)


Su, Tong. "The Boat to Redemption" (F)

"Raw and absurd, realistic yet astonishing, the new novel by Su Tong...portrays a people caught in the stranglehold of their own desires and needs, constantly observed by a Party that sees everything and forgives nothing." (from the inside flap)


Levine, Robert. "Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business and how the Culture Business can Fight Back" (364.1662 L665)

"In an incisive chronicle of media's collision with the Internet, jounalist Robert Levine narrates how the culture business succumbed to the siren song of "free." Fearless in its reporting and analysis, Free Ride is an epic tale of value destruction and the business history of the decade." (from the inside flap)


Hitchings, Henry. "The Language Wars: a History of Proper English" (420.9 H675)

"Henry Hitchings...examines grammar rules, regional accents, swearing, speling, dictionaries, political correctness, and the role of electronic media in rehsaping language.... Peopled with intriguing characters--including Jonathan Swift, Lewis Carroll, and Lenny Bruce--The Language Wars is an entertaining tour through the often combative history of the English language." (from the inside flap)

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Franklin, Ariana. Mistress of the Art of Death.

The murders of three Christian children are being blamed on the innocent Jews of 12th century Cambridge, England in the first installment of this historical mystery series. In order to clear their name, King Henry calls for an expert, a master of the art of death, to determine who is really to blame. Instead, he gets a mistress, Adelia Aguilar, a trained physician from Salerno, Italy. She is talented, stubborn and on a dangerous mission to discover the real killer, who is still roaming Cambridge, perhaps under her very nose.

Adelia is definitely out of her element among the strict social confines of her surroundings, but she still manages to gather clues based on the forensic evidence she collects from the corpses of the dead children and with the help of her travel companion, Simon, and the young eel catcher, Ulf. The book is a medieval spin on a forensic thriller and readers will enjoy the rising tension as Adelia hones in on the killer.

Just a Thought.. Best Debut Novels of 2011

2011 has seen a lot of wonderful novels, many of them by well-established authors. But there have also been quite a few break-through successes for brand-new authors. Many of the most popular and well-reviewed books of the year have been debut novels from first-time authors or authors who had only published short stories or memoirs previous to their novelistic success. Here’s hoping the years to come bring more great novels from these rising stars!


Benaron, Naomi.  Running the Rift

Harbach, Chad. The Art of Fielding

Morgenstern, Erin.  The Night Circus

Obreht, Tea. The Tiger’s Wife

Russell, Karen. Swamplandia!

Torres, Justin.  We The Animals

Waldman, Amy. The Submission