BookClique

Here we will post our musings on a wide variety of titles. You can comment on our posts and find the titles in our catalog.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

elizabethismissing_coverMaud can’t find her friend, Elizabeth, and no one seems to be able to help her find her. Maud is challenged in her task, for Maud has dementia. Pieces and parts of her life have already gone missing, and she survives by clinging to those bits and snatches she still has left. Elizabeth is a critical part, and Maud is fiercely determined to find her, regardless of the lack of help from her family, neighbors, and friends. And so Maud sets off, and we set off with her. We learn, as we journey with Maud, that Elizabeth isn’t the only person missing from her life; her sister is missing as well, lost  long ago. In Maud’s increasingly muddled mind, the veil between the past and the present has become thin. As Maud follows clues to find Elizabeth, we, the reader, also learn of her sister’s story, and see the depth of pain that Maud has carried with her for a great many years. Elizabeth is Missing is a haunting tale that reminds us, even if the rest of our lives are stripped away, the love of our family and friends is what’s most important. Maud is holding on as tight as she can to those things she holds most dear. Perhaps, before the last of her memories fade away, Maud can find all that she’s  lost, at least one last time. This book will remain with me for a very long time. Dementia and Alzheimer’s rob us of more than just our memories…they threaten to rob us of dignity as they progress. Maud and her family face her difficulties with great dignity and love. I would hope that the rest of us, when faced with such trials, could do as well.

Annette G.


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The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency edited by Chris Monks and John Warner

bestoftendency_coverI have followed Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney’s Publishing, since reading his great memoir “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” years ago.  When I came across the short essay book The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, I had to read it.  My favorite essay is “Passive-Aggressive Vegan Grocery Cashier: A Day in the Life” by Meredith Gray.  New mothers will enjoy “Hello Stranger on the Street, Could You Please Tell Me How to Take Care of My Baby?” by Wendy Molyneux.  Last but not least, Transformers fans will love “A Letter to Optimus Prime from his Geico Auto Insurance Agent” by Frank Weaver.  You won’t want to miss this book, and McSweeney’s is certainly going to gain some new fans with it.

Stacy W.


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Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan

imagesDavid Loogan needs a shovel, and as he considers the selection at the local garden center, we become aware that the shovel must meet certain requirements. David Loogan has to bury a body, and for that purpose, some types of shovels just won’t do.  At this point of the story, you might think David Loogan is a very bad guy who has done a very bad thing.  And of course, you would be wrong. David Loogan is a man with a mysterious past. Currently living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, avid works as an editor for a mystery magazine titled Grey Streets. Tom Kristoll is his boss, and Laura Kristoll, Tom’s wife, is David’s lover. What we know about David Loogan could fit in a thimble. We know he dislikes parking garages. He is wary about being outside at night. And when Tom Kristoll says he need help to bury a body, David Loogan barely bats an eye. Yet, when a second body turns up, and a third, we see that it is David Loogan, man of mystery, who might actually be able to identify the killer. With the help of the local police, particularly detective Elizabeth Waishkey, David starts to piece together the motives behind the murders. His detective skills earn him Elizabeth Waishkey’s respect, even while they put both of their lives in danger.Bad Things Happen is the first book in the David Loogan mystery series. The second book is titled Very Bad Men, and the third is The Last Dead Girl. I very much enjoyed the fast-paced, witty dialogue of this book, and I appreciated the fact that, by the end of the book, we still have a lot to learn about David Loogan. He is a man who is loyal to his friends, protective of those weaker than himself, and clearly has a strong sense of justice. Yet, he is a man who seems at ease burying a body, and he also seems capable of excessive violence. The disparity in his character makes me eager to learn more about him, to find out how he came to be this way. Style-wise, Bad Things Happen most reminded me of books from the Spenser series from Robert Parker. I will certainly read the next two books in this series.

Annette G.


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Trapped Under the Sea by Neil Swidey

imagesNeil Swidey has written a book that will just infuriate you.  Fast paced and shocking, Trapped Under the Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness is also a reminder to us that a lot of things that we take for granted like big buildings and bridges, tunnels and dams are rarely built without someone dying on the job.  The author points out that we don’t really pay any attention when we hear about a worker or two dying on a construction site-blue collar deaths don’t generally grab national headlines unless more than a couple die at once.  Well, if you didn’t know, there are actually workers who dive down under the sea and do construction work down there like welding, bolting things together, etc.  Whenever I’ve thought of diving, I’ve always thought of scuba or free diving-believe me, this is not leisure, these guys are working hard and in danger every minute.  In this book, a group of divers is hired to finally finish a huge way over budget and years behind schedule sewer tunnel being built under Boston Harbor.  This tunnel has no breathable air, no lights, and the job is 10 miles inside the tunnel.  After spending hundreds of millions of dollars and years constructing the tunnel, now the tunnel project managers are in a big hurry to finish and want to save money on the last bits of the project.  Add to this an egotistical engineer who concocts a never seen before breathing apparatus that all the big wigs sign off on and you have a disaster in the making.  When the construction divers question whether or not it will work, they’re treated with contempt and told to just do as they’re told.   Day one in the tunnel: glitches with their supplies.  Day two in the tunnel :glitches with their supplies.  Day three: deaths.  If you thought I was going to say day three, plans were scrapped and the planners went back to the drawing board you’d be wrong.  The heroes of this project weren’t cutting the ribbons to open it, weren’t on TV or in the news, they were the workers, several of whom the author gets to know very well.  Riveting and hard to forget.

Stacy W.


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Montana by Gwen Florio

imagesLola Wicks, foreign newspaper correspondent to Afghanistan, is a victim of company downsizing. Her paper can no longer afford to let her work overseas, and so she’s brought Stateside. For Lola, who lives on adrenalin and coffee in the war zone, this is appalling. She has no wish to report on PTA meetings, neighborhood robberies, and the political ministrations of the local town council. Her editor seems as appalled; he clearly has no wish to take on fierce and fiery Lola. Lola is sent off on vacation, and while Lola is mighty resentful about it, she figures the vacation will give her time to plan her escape route back to Kabul. So off she goes, to visit an old friend living in Montana. The problem? When Lola arrives, she finds that her friend, Mary Alice, has been murdered outside her wilderness cabin. Lola soon finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation. The local authorities appear too bumbling to find their own boots in the morning, so Lola decides she must solve Mary Alice’s murder. To do so, she must form a bond with the townsfolk, a group that is more terrifying to her than anyone she met in Afghanistan. Is she equal to the challenge? At times, even Lola is not sure. I very much enjoyed this debut mystery from author Gwen Florio. Lola is a forceful woman who acts first and asks for permission later. Under that tough exterior, we sense that Lola has deep insecurities. She steals things. She has trouble putting down roots. She mistrusts everyone. Those traits helped make her a good foreign journalist, but they are traits that make it hard to make friends in rural America. Yet, almost in spite of herself, Lola finds that she soon cares for the local folks, even as her quest for a killer puts her life in danger. Montana is fast-paced, and Lola’s irascible personality practically drips from every page. Throw in a shaggy dog, a spotted horse, and a likable local sheriff and you have a heck of a fine tale.

Annette G.


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Plastic Purge by Michael SanClements

imagesI wish everyone would read Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body and Help Save the Sea Turtles! by Michael SanClements.  It’s exactly the type of book I like because it’s not preachy.  The author is asked to address this issue, and by keeping a one day diary he realizes that he comes in contact with plastic constantly in his daily life which of course would be no problem if plastic naturally degraded and some did not give off harmful toxins.  SanClements gives details of all the different kinds of plastic, how easy each is to recycle (for example, plastic bags are hard-they constantly clog up the recycling machinery), and the degrees of toxicity of each kind.  He says that “plastic is your frenemy” and does  believe that it is impossible to live without.  Plastic has contributed in good ways to our world (think advanced medical equipment).  However, since it’s everywhere, we as society have stopped “seeing” it and our wanton usage and discard of it has exploded.  If everyone would stop/cut down on using the most evil kinds-plastic bags (even “recycled” ones), single use containers, and plastic water bottles- we could make a huge difference to our world.  Did you know that plastic bags are not just unsightly in the ditches as you drive by but have been responsible for the deaths of both people (by clogging city drains and causing massive deadly floods) and animals (3,000 cattle in one year in one town!)?  Anyway, the author takes different parts of daily life and breaks down ways you can make a difference by doing something easy, something moderately hard, or something hard.  You might find out there’s some things you’re already doing-for example, I do not drink bottled water and I use bar soap instead of liquid soap.  This book at least might make people stop and think and be aware.  I would also highly advise anyone who has a baby or is thinking of having one to read it-that chapter alone might have you requesting wooden blocks instead of plastic toys for baby!

Stacy W.


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Last Night at the Viper Room by Gavin Edwards

imagesThough his film career was cut tragically short by his drug-related death in 1993 at age 23, actor River Phoenix made a lasting impression on critics, audiences and fans with his movie roles and social consciousness.  Gavin Edwards explores both Phoenix’s life, family dynamic and the culture of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s in this perceptive work, Last Night at the Viper Room, detailing how the star’s unconventional and socially isolating upbringing failed entirely to prepare him for the world of stardom into which he was catapulted in his teens.  The author combines his knowledge of the cultural milieu of the times with awareness of his subject’s weaknesses and sympathy for the tragedy of his untimely death in this captivating book.

Alison M.


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The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

imagesThe Winner’s Curse is a phenomenon that may occur after purchasing an item at auction, when the buyer regrets the high price they paid. Kestrel, the daughter of a Valorian general, buys a Herrani slave on a whim. Perhaps it is the defiance in his eyes or the stubbornness of his stance that attracts her, familiar feelings for the young woman. Kestrel is almost of age, and soon must make a choice: get married, or join the military. Kestrel wants to do neither; rather, she longs to make her own choices, to make her own way in the world. Kestrel knows that she has made a mistake the moment she buys the slave, named Arin. The Valorians have conquered the Herreni, and taken over their city. Arin should just be one more slave among many, yet Arin is not. Arin is dangerous to Kestrel, for he is intelligent, resourceful, and he listens to her in a way that few others do. By getting to know Arin, Kestrel begins to question the choices of her people, as well as the choices offered to her in life. In a city soon to be ravaged anew by violence, Kestrel is forced to make some dangerous choices. Her choices may be dangerous to both the Valorians as well as the Herrani, but they may prove to be devastating to both Kestrel and Arin. This enthralling tale of star-crossed lovers is the first book of a proposed fantasy trilogy. I found this book to be very refreshingly told, because more of the story is told by what is not said than what is said between the characters. The verbal fencing that takes place between the characters reflects their intelligence, and demonstrates the game of wits being played, both between Kestrel and Arin, but also between Kestrel and just about everyone else. Kestrel is a strong female character in a world where woman only show their strength through battle. Kestrel wants more, and as she navigates the difficult path laid out before her, we sense that maybe she has a chance to get exactly
what she wants.

Annette G.


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Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor

imagesThe publication of Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal including a hand-written facsimile, follows the young writer while she agonizes about her writing vocation at the University of Iowa in 1946-47. Some 40 pages in length, these meditations have a lot to say about the creative impulse and the role of will, talent, and grace in determining vocation in anyone’s spiritual life. Several drew wry chuckles when read aloud in a discussion group.  For discerning readers.

Amy P.


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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

imagesThis is a first for me: I don’t know how to review this book. I don’t even know how to begin without spoiling this haunting, suspenseful story. But I’ll begin this way: We Were Liars is the story of three teen-aged cousins—Johnny, Mirren, Cadence—and their good friend, Gat. Together, they are the Liars, and they spend their summers together on a private island owned by Cadence’s grandfather. Johnny, Mirren, and Cadence are Sinclairs, part of a rich, distinguished family that lives by the ideals and mottos of their patriarch. The story opens during Cadence’s fifteenth summer on Beechwood Island, the summer she falls deeply love with Gat. During the summer, Cady suffers a head injury, and is whisked away. But what exactly happened? Cady can only remember bits and pieces of the summer, and her family seems reluctant to fill in the gaps. And Cady herself is changed. She has debilitating migraines, and starts giving away her belongings. She dyes her blond hair—a symbol of pride among the tow-headed Sinclairs—black. When she returns to the island two years later, she is resolved to finally discover what happened. As her memories begin to return, the truth of her fifteenth summer begins to be revealed. This is beautiful book. The language is spare, almost poetic. The characters are complex, and I dearly loved the Liars. I never saw the ending coming…I never even came close. And it was perfect; stunningly, achingly, heartbreakingly perfect. This book will stay with me for a long time to come.

Annette G.


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