Please don't let the 405 pages discourage you! This is one of those reads that is fast-paced and so thrilling you can't put it down. Vintage Karen Robards.
I love when a book opens with a murder, staged as a suicide, the mansion is dark (the electricity has been turned off), an undercover agent hides in the shadows as the ex-wife stumbles across the body of her ex-husband. And this book is off and running.
The ex-wife is Riley Cowan, who has been trying to clean up the mess her ex-father-in-law left his family in when he hid away billions of dollars of investors money. Now his partners and his son are turning up dead and Riley knows she is next. Enter undercover CIA agent Finn Bradley who arrived minutes too late to save the life of Jeff Cowan, Riley's ex, but not too late to witness Riley finding the body of her dead husband. When an attempt is made on Riley's life, Finn does arrive in time and the mystery deepens. Does Riley know where the billions are hidden and who is trying to kill her? And most of all, who can she trust?
At the beginning of this novel, life isn’t going so great for A.J. Fikry. He is a recent widower and owner of a small bookstore with even smaller profits. A.J.’s only friend is the adulterous husband of his former sister-in-law. His lack of close relationships is not surprising. If A.J. was a character on Sesame Street, he would be Oscar the Grouch. Yet, things are about to change when a two year old little girl is left in his bookstore one night with a note requesting the toddler be raised around books…..
I have to confess this book really pulled me in. I normally don’t like novels about charming little town with quirky townsfolk. The characters did grow on me the more I read but what I really enjoyed was how the author’s love of literature really showed through in her storytelling. Much like in real life, most of the characters were very specific about the kind of book they like to read. As A.J.’s sister-in-law says, “When I’m choosing something new, something just for myself, my favorite kind of character is a woman in a faraway place. India. Or Bangkok. Sometimes she leaves her husband. Sometimes she never had a husband because she knew, wisely, that married life was not for her. I like when she has multiple lovers. I like when she wears hats to block her fair skin from the sun.” Working in a public library, I love when patrons have strong ideas about what they enjoy reading. Since finishing the book, I have been thinking about how A.J. Fikry says knowing a person favorite book tells you all you need to know about them. What is your favorite book?
-Heather Wefel Circulation Assistant
Favorite Book: The Lover by Marguerite Duras
I loved this book for a variety of reasons. Despite seeming to be a light-read, the characters were complex and dealt with serious issues. They were relatable, and best of all, they LOVE books! Various books and short stories are mentioned and discussed throughout. While browsing a shelf in his bookstore, A.J. wonders, “Why is any one book different from any other book? They are different, A.J. decides, because they are. We have to look inside many. We have to believe. We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again.” This quote really resonated with me. So if you like The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry or not, you’ll find that moment of exhilaration as long as you keep reading!
-Emma D-K Director of Adult & Community Services
Favorite Book (of 2014): The Children Act by Ian McEwan
I particularly liked the section of the book when A.J. first adopts Maya. The women in town are concerned AJ would have no idea how to raise a baby. One woman tells the story of A.J. throwing out her Ray Bans after her leaving them in the store for one day . She says “Can you imagine what will happen to an actual human being?” So, mothers begin visiting AJ and giving him advice on child rearing. A.J. starts stocking books that may be of interest to them and he starts a book group of books with the word “wife” in them. They are the same titles we had in our library book clubs this year!
-Gayle McCormick Circulation Assistant
Favorite Book: The Maytrees by Annie Dillard
When I read this book last spring I truly expected it to be the “sleeper” book of the summer. A “word of mouth” book or maybe receive a fortuitous plug by NPR and off it goes off the shelf. You know, one of those with 75 holds or more like Gone Girl. But this book is so much better. So I was so happy when Library Reads choose it as its 2014 Favorite of Favorites, finally receiving the accolades it so richly deserves. Why, you ask, am I so sure this book deserves all this attention? It is one of those life lessons books. It could be a gift to a graduating college student, or someone who is at a crossroads in their life. How one simple event had a startling effect in one man’s life for the better. “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Read it, it could change your life.
Julia M, Reference Associate
Favorite Book of 2014: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
This book was a little hard to get into after reading a book based on historical fact. A book that is strong on whimsy, magic, and definitely the extraordinary. I have read a previous novel by this author, The House at the End of Hope Street , and she writes of whimsy and magic in this book as well. I guess you could call this her calling card.
Scientist Cora Sparks closets herself away from the world and her memories of her parents before their deaths in a fire when she was five years old. Cared for and nurtured by her grandmother, Cora's life has become a lonely life of work. She fails to see what has been in front of her all this time, the love of a man she has known since childhood. Her grandmother owns a special dress shop, dresses sewn by her grandmother, chosen especially for each owner destined to show them their deepest desires. But her grandmother has decided it is Cora's turn to discover her true destiny, whether she wants to or not. Lots of twists, and a few complications that perhaps get too easily straightened out, but a fun read.
This is the first book I have read by this author, although she is widely known for her popular book The Red Tent, which by the way is being turned into a major motion picture. But religious fiction is not my cup of tea. However, the synopsis of this book caught my eye and thought this would be a good read and it was.
The book is written as the main character tells her life story to her grand-daughter. So imagine it as if you are listening to a sound recording, only in print. It may seem a little simplistic at times but it makes for easy and swift reading. Addie Baum's story starts in 1915 in Boston, she is American-born of Russian Jewish parents and the youngest of three daughters. She bristles against the old ways of her parents and finds her voice among the other immigrant girls who meet at a Saturday Club at a settlement house.
With much attention to historical detail, this is a fascinating read of a woman not willing to settle for what everyone else is.
According to the 6th annual New Year’s Resolution Survey from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, the majority of Americans will be more concerned about their waistlines than their wallets next year. Here are some titles to help get you into shape!!