Rockin’ Reads, Part 7: More Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

What’s next on your to-read list? Adult Summer Challenge participants have some suggestions:

Michael H. on Storm in a Teacup by Helen Czerski: Loved this book! Great combination of readability and reliability, applies physics principles to everyday life. Enjoyed reading anecdotes to my wife.

Connie G. on Factfulness by Hans Rosling: Superba must-read for anyone interested in clear, dispassionate thinking about the serious problems facing us now.

Brynez R. on Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes: Great self-help and empowering book around being open to all possibilities despite your fears and the good that can come when you do that.

Meredith V. on The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall: This remains one of the sweetest and most delightful series ever. I really enjoyed spending the book with Lydia. I kind of wanted some more time with the older girls, but I understand why the book wasn’t written that way. And the ending made me literally hug the book in happiness. I’m going to pretty immediately go back and start the series over.

Meri R. on Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan: Jennifer Egan does not disappoint. I read this book in a day, which is very fast for me, but every turn in the story was true and richly described. For a period novel, this book included details that felt lived in and personally important instead of carefully researched and curated. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

Zachary F. on Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber: The concept of this book is really interesting. Essentially humanity has to revert to the dark ages with a repressive religion and one person who remembers the pinnacle of civilization has to try and bring this backward version of humanity into the future. The implications of having a religion that had eight million people around for the creation of the world and saw entities they believed to be archangels is really interesting. The plot is solid. I love the parts where they discuss advancing technologies. Some parts are a little over the top and sometimes the dialogue is a bit more wordy than necessary.

Kelly H. on All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin: This is an incredibly timely novel but it’s also got a new slant: it’s told from the perspective of the parents (Finch’s mom and Lyla’s dad) and not the teens themselves. It was especially interesting to hear from Finch’s mom, because it’s clear that she struggles with loving and wanting to protect her son but, at the same time, being horrified at what he did (and with it seeming like he doesn’t fully get exactly why it was so wrong). This novel also touches on class differences (Lyla is at the school on scholarship; Finch can have pretty much literally anything and everything he wants) and that’s also interesting. Finch’s dad believes that his money can get them out of any predicament (he tries to bribe Lyla’s dad to drop the matter and gives him $15,000. It’s clear that he doesn’t think of that as a large amount of money…which I can’t even imagine, btw).  If you want your beach reads to be more than a guilty pleasure, check this one out.

Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 13 and August 15.

Rockin’ Reads, Part 6: More Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

Here’s another taste of what our Adult Summer Challenge participants have been reading:

Lucie F. on The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware: A chillingly atmospheric modern take on the classic Agatha Christie family-inheritance-murder plot. I loved that I was able to guess some of the mystery but as I puzzled over it, Ware stayed one step ahead of me!

Laura R. on Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: Great family saga dealing with issues of immigration and discrimination is perfect for our times. I didn’t know anything about the Korean/Japanese history so it was interesting history as well. A good read.

Sarah B. on The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee: The higher you rise, the farther you fall, and nowhere is this more true than in this book. Set in a vividly imagined 1000-floor skyscraper in the year 2118, it follows the lives of five teens from very different backgrounds and the ways their lives interlock, with exciting, romantic, surprising, and disastrous consequences. With a great prologue and a climax that left me scared about what a girl was wearing (the mark of ingenious writing), the story pulled me in and made me want to live among the well-developed and realistic characters. I look forward to reading the sequel and the release of book three next month!

Aaron B. on The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro and and Daniel Kraus : A novelization of a film should expand on that film’s concepts & themes. Kraus & del Toro achieved that with an equally moving & romantic companion piece to del Toro’s Oscar-winning (& deserving) motion picture. A brilliant piece of romanticism.

Julie J. on The Soul of America by Jon Meacham: Brilliant, historical review of our American history when citizens and presidents have come together, not without struggles, to fight and survive battles of integration, racism, immigration, hate, just as we still do present-day. Yet, just published in spring 2018, brings a timely reminder with calming wisdom, that Americans must keep the faith and hope in our heritage. Author is Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and writes beautifully.

Nayantara B. on Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis is the autobiographical story of the author’s coming of age in Iran after the Islamic Regime amidst the Iran-Iraq War. Though life in this time is very bleak, Satrapi’s use of the graphic novel genre is irreverent and ironic. It provides a window into a very different world while still highlighting the universal heartaches of losing innocence.

Howell B. on Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer: This book with a preposterous premisethat an Amtrak conductor has died and Joe Biden and Barack Obama work together to figure out what happenedis funny and enjoyable. It will provoke many appreciative laughs.

Lucy J. on Death in Ecstasy by Ngaio Marsh: This Roderick Alleyn mystery surprised me a little with its relevance to today’s issuesheroin use in the 1930s? Always interesting to read Kiwi grande dame Ngaio Marsh’s books.

Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 13 and August 15.

Rockin’ Reads, Part 3: More Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

Here are more great reviews from our Adult Summer Challenge participants:

Gordon B. on The List by Amy B. Siskind: Siskind was told that she needed to make a list of everything that she felt was out of the democratic norm for this administration, otherwise, she would not realize what she had lost when the time finally came to realize that her democracy was gone forever. She began recording and was amazed to see how many words and actions the Trump regime transgressed on. She was also surprised to observe how the actions and words mounted over the weeks that came. Many weeks were jammed with events that could have been scarcely expected when she began making “the list.” Carefully done so that judgment only is implied, this list is a house of horrors for those who want the Trump influence to be very light.

Melina T. on A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles: First of all, don’t be intimidated by the length/size of the book – it’s big but such a delightful read. The book takes place a couple of years after the Russian Revolution–the Count Rostov, who lives at the famous Metropol Hotel, is sentenced to life imprisonment within the hotel and declared a “former person.” How can a book so long be told just from within the confines of a six-story building? Towles does an amazing job at making the setting appear larger than life and his characters are so well developed and the hotel becomes as much a character in the novel as any of the human ones. This is a beautifully written book with so many lovely nuggets (too many to list here) and a wistfulness regarding how to comport oneself with class and graciousness. If you don’t fall in love with the Count and the many different characters that make up his world, well then….

Ellen L. on Come Sundown by Nora Roberts: Nora Roberts is a master storyteller of romantic suspense. This book takes place mostly on a family-owned ranch and resort in Montana and has superb dialogue. The plot revolves around a family member who has been missing for 25 years—it has a great surprise ending!

Nancy G. on The Kindness Cure by Tara Cousineau: Super-great, useful suggestions for ways to approach a stressed-out, fearful world with compassion and empathy. Great application of neuroscience information.

Cornelia B. on Florida by Lauren Groff: Spooky, unsettling, weird and internal, these stories probe the psyches and swampy landscapes of America’s weirdest state. This was perhaps the most anticipated book of the summer on lists all over the Internet!

Jana G. on The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: This was a lovely book and super-quick read. I appreciated that the underlying story was one of acceptance and understanding, though felt the ending a bit contrived (a kids’ fairy tale for sure). the images were wonderful and the story heartfelt. I will likely reread the book again in the future.

James R. on The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn: Pretty good book with lots of references to Hitchcock and other old movies. I think this is one that will actually be better as a movie.

Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 13 and August 15.

Rockin’ Reads, Part Two: More Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

Looking for your next good read? Take a tip from one of our Adult Summer Challenge participants:

Noelani L. on The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish: Hilarious and heartfelt! Audiobook read by the author is excellent. Enjoyed this on my commute to and from work.

Leslie J. on The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian: Love his books. Can’t put them down. This one had me up late into the night trying to figure out who done it.

Laura M. on Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders: The book is written in a fascinating style of quotes from fictional characters and historical accounts of Willie Lincoln’s illness, and imagined experience in the graveyard neighborhood, during Abraham Lincoln’s presidential term. It’s emotional, touching, and imaginative. Quite funny in parts. If you liked Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, you will probably like Lincoln in the Bardo.

Robert B. on Grant by Ron Chernow: Most of us think of Ulysses Simpson Grant as a great general but a poor president. Ron Chernow’s tour-de-force biography casts Grant in a completely different mold, emphasizing his fight against the Ku Klux Klan in the post-Civil War South as well as his determined support for African American rights. Chernow also enumerates those qualities of Grant that made him the first modern general to emerge from the Civil War. This is a large book but definitely worth the time and effort it takes to make your way through it.

Holly T. on Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong and Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets “Festive” by Jen Yates: […]Cake Wrecks is an active blog in which people submit pictures of professionally made confections that are just freakin’ WRONG. The books are the best of the worst of these submissions. Laughable spelling and grammar, literal interpretations of instructions, and questionable icing choices are among some of the travesties you’ll find, and they’re made even more amusing by the author’s commentary. The way the world is right now, we could all do with some laughter, and the Cake Wrecks books deliver.

Lakeisha H. on Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill  : […]Walking the streets that I’m familiar with in this book was a comfort and joy. The main character finds not only his personal story but the very deep and historically valid and important story of African Americans in Baltimore. What is wonderful is Baltimore becomes a character in the book. It’s not often you get to read about Baltimore in any other capacity other than crime and violence. The glory of Uptown, the impact of the A.M.E., the beauty of Charles Village, and the people of Baltimore are showcased in this book that could be considered a historical fiction. Extremely worth reading.

Tammra F. on First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Cooper and Piper made for a very interesting storyline. Piper was a treat to read about. She reminded me of a little bit of myself. She seems to think out loud and it makes for a very funny and interesting read. Cooper is just wonderful and I love that he doesn’t give up on Piper and seems to understand her better than she understands herself.

Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 13 and August 15.

A Night of Laughs with Jeff Dugan

by Julie Johnson, Branch Manager, Roland Park Branch

Jeff Dugan, former television producer for the Discovery Channel, is a funny guy. He started his June 7th program with a throw-away joke or three and then headed straight for the other funny bone with a few readings from his book, Ins & Outs: A Life in Television.

Who knew that being the unintended camera pool feed for ALL the networks at Pope John Paul II’s entry into Giants Stadium could be so entertaining? Well, at least in the telling. At the time, perhaps “terrifying” is a better adjective.

How about the best way to get a French television company to cough up the “clean tapes” for a television program? Why, have your local fixer pretend to be you having a full-scale meltdown in the office, of course.

And yes, he did work with Oprah while she was in Baltimore.

You’ll have to read to book find out more. Click on the cover to check out his book in the collection.