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.

Vanity Fair 100 Years by Graydon Carter

imagesWeighing in at 8.5 pounds and measuring 14.4 x 11.5 x 1.5 inches, Vanity Fair 100 Years, is a sumptuous celebration of the magazine and the culture from the jazz age to today. With a tip of the hat to the origin of the phrase, (Vanity Fair appears as a place for rascality in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progess, 1678), this large coffee table book celebrates the magazine from its inception in 1895 to 1913 and then its rebirth in the 1980s. It’s an odd celebration of  100 years with a wealth of information about publishing, style and popular culture. Sandwiched in the middle of many glossy pages is a 57-page section titled “Wisdom & Whimsy” that includes a selection of excerpts from articles organized by year. These would be a treasure trove for young social scientists working on school reports or practicing ‘period’ writing. Aspiring journalists will enjoy the behind the scenes stories of the magazine. Of course, the iconic images are all here; many of which do not seem nearly as unsettling as in their original appearances. Among those are Whoopi Goldberg in her milk bath, a wet Darryl Hannah and some exuberant pictures of Michael Jackson, so sad to view in retrospect. Another wonderful book from Abrams Publishing, that is sure to spark many memories, some which may be hard to explain to younger generations!

Amy P.


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The Chopin Manuscript by Jeffrey Deaver

imagesHarry Middleton is in the middle of an intricate mystery.  Is the Chopin manuscript a fake? If so, why is Heinrich dead, and why is Harry being chased, and framed? The Chopin Manuscript is a fast-paced thriller, filled with classical music, past war crimes, theft, secret codes and murder in Kosovo, Poland and D.C. The story of how the novel was written is almost as interesting as the novel itself.  Jeffrey Deaver, (The Copper Bracelet) conceived the idea and wrote the first few chapters. It was then sent to over 10 other mystery writers (including Lisa Scottoline and Lee Child) to add one chapter each. Then  it was up to Deaver to complete the final few chapters, tying up the many loose ends and reconciling the plot and the myriad characters. If you are a fan of any of the included authors, or a fan of TV mystery dramas, give this one a try.
Kate M


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The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

imagesThe Weight of Blood is a coming-of-age story, one wrapped in mystery and woven together with family ties and truths. Lucy loves her family and friends, but the discovery of a murdered friend’s pendent in an unexpected place causes Lucy to start to question what she really knows about them. Everyone has secrets, she discovers, and perhaps the secrets of those closest to Lucy are darker than most. One of the darkest secrets may involve the disappearance of her mother, Lila, years ago. Will revealing the secret bring her friends and family peace, or destroy them all together? Two women are missing—one from the past and one from the present. Long ago, Lila Dane went missing; she was last seen running into a local cave carrying a gun. In present day, her daughter Lucy is distraught over the loss of her friend, Cheri, who is found murdered
after being missing for a year. When Lucy finds Cheri’s pendant, Lucy starts to ask questions, dangerous questions. As tensions mount, Lucy begins to suspect that Cheri’s murder and her mother’s disappearance are related. The cost of the truth, she realizes, may be more than she is willing to pay. This novel, set in the town of Henbane in the Ozarks, is a starkly beautiful tale. The author deftly shows us the ties that bind the small community of Henbane together, for better or for worse. She brings the landscape to life so clearly that I could almost hear the buzz of mosquitos and feel the heat and humidity of a late Southern summer. This is Laura McHugh’s first book, and it is a doozy. I look forward to her next book with great anticipation.

Annette G.


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Great Design by Philip Wilkinson

imagesDorling Kindersley is the British publisher best known for its many visual explorer titles for children. I was somewhat surprised to see this entry for adults. This 2013 title,Great Design, has made the New York Times Notable books of 2013 It’s no wonder. Befittingly, this book on great design…is a beautifully designed visual feast! Each 2-4 page spread in a 10 x 12 inch format, features a design artifact in the Smithsonian’s collection covering the period from 1860 to the present. There’s enough detail on each item to whet your appetite to learn more about the designer or the movement discussed. I can imagine great family discussions about what your top five items in this collection are! It would be a great book to spark discussion in art, industrial design, and social history classes. A real treat for the eyes, the heart, and the mind.

Amy P.


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Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

images“On the morning of its first birthday, a baby was found floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel.”  From this inauspicious opening sentence through to the satisfying conclusion, Katherine Rundell delights with an imaginative tale for middle grade readers.  While Sophie joins a legion of plucky orphans found in children’s literature, she and her guardian Charles, a fellow passenger on the doomed ship, have their own humorous and endearing ways of doing things, including searching for Sophie’s mother.  The National Childcare Agency threatens to separate them so Sophie and Charles escape England. They follow the only clue they have about Sophie’s past which is a Parisian address on the cello case that once saved her. It is in Paris that Sophie ventures up to the rooftops and discovers the world of “sky-treaders,” the children who live outside but are not homeless. Sophie never gives up the hope that she will find her mother. This strength of spirit, combined with the love and support of Charles as well as the new friendships she makes on the rooftops, give Rooftoppers a warm glow.  They follow the music throughout their adventures to find the things that matter most.  (AR 3.5, Lexile 490L)

Melissa F.


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Archetype by M.D. Waters

imagesEmma Burke wakes up in a hospital, with no memories of how she got there and of her life before. As she becomes stronger, her husband Declan and her doctor fill in her past, telling her she was attacked by enemies of Declan. These enemies are fighting Declan’s company, and are against his plan to improve the fertility rates among women in a world where babies are an increasingly rare thing. Declan is handsome and charming, and seems to genuinely care about Emma; surely he cares about others as much as he cares about her. But Emma’s dreams hint of a darker, harsher reality, one where girls are trained in large camps to be wives, and where the world is caught up in the turmoil of war. When Emma picks up a paintbrush and starts painting, it as if she is painting directly from the life of another. A man named Noah Tucker seems to recognize the memories captured on Emma’s canvases, and she is shocked to realize that her dreams may be the key to changing the world. Archetype is a rare book: it’s a brilliant blend of science fiction, romance, and mystery. The writing is fresh, and the storytelling inventive. You uncover the truth of Emma’s life as she does, and see, through her eyes, as her reality begins to unravel, revealing something new and unexpected. I won’t spoil it by giving away any more than that. Read it and enjoy it. I am already looking forward to the second book, titled Prototype, coming out in July.

Annette G.


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A Spider in the Cup by Barbara Cleverly

imagesI continue my passion for reading World War 1 novels with a foray into the Joe Sandilands series by Barbara Cleverly, reading A Spider in the Cup. While it’s the 11th title in the series, the novel can be read as a stand-alone. Scotland Yard is such a rich venue for detective fiction and Cleverly’s Joe Sandilands series mines the yard’s traditions very well. The novel opens with a dead body found on the shores of the Thames with an ancient coin in her mouth. Then the somewhat conventional police procedure turns into an espionage story complete with a stint in revolutionary Russia. Spider in the Cup is a good light read with excellent historical background. I will delve further into the series. Barbara Cleverly is a British author and a former teacher who is known for her Detective Joe Sandilands Mystery series, of which she has written eleven books, and her Laetitia Talbot Mystery series. Cleverly received the Crime Writers Association Ellis Peters Historical Dagger award in 2004. The Last Kashmiri Rose was a New York Times Notable Book. She currently lives in Cambridge, England.

Amy P.


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The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

imagesMost of us have lost loved ones, and we have grieved the loss. Some of people carry the weight of their grief far longer than they should, and a very few let their grief consume them. Sara Harrison Shea is such a person. When her eight-year-old daughter, Gertie, is found dead at the bottom of a well, Sara is overwhelmed by her grief. But for Sara, Gertie’s death may not mean an end; for Sara may know of a way they can still be together. Yet, what is the cost of Sara’s knowledge, and how far will other people go to get it? The Winter People is a ghost story set in West Hall, Vermont, a quiet little town whose quaint appearance hides dark secrets, all of them centered on a local landmark called the Devil’s Hand. Sara Harrison Shea, from the past, is the keeper of the secrets, and she passes them on in her diary to those in present day. Ruthie and Katherine both learn Sara’s secrets, and together they learn a bitter truth: knowledge of dark secrets demands payment, and the payment may change more than just you own life. Jennifer McMahon is a master storyteller and she deftly drew me into her story. The story is compelling, and I literally couldn’t stop reading it. Creepy, and thought provoking, this is a book that maybe you don’t want to read in the dark.

Annette G.


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This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

imagesAnn Patchett is one of America’s best essayists and fiction writers writing today. Readers know her best for Bel Canto and State of Wonder.  She has written 6 novels and 3 works of nonfiction.  Patchett is the winner of the Pen/Faulkner award, England’s Orange Prize, and the Book Sense Book of the Year. What surprised me most about this collection of 23 essays is how much I could see them being enjoyed by both men or women.  It’s a given that each is well-written due to Patchett’s long writing apprenticeship leading to work at the New York Times. Her personal essays, however, transcend the personal and biographical, and could be touchstones for any of us as we reflect on our life’s journey. While many of the essays in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage focus on the writer’s life, the struggles therein are easily relateable to other professions.  Ann’s circuitous route to the ‘happy marriage’ in the title essay will provide encouragement to readers with their own relationship challenges.  I recommend this book as a gift to others, it would be great as well for family book discussions, at a reunion perhaps, and for discussion in book groups.

Amy P.


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This House is Haunted by John Boyne

imagesWhen London school teacher Eliza Caine’s dad dies, she answers an ad for a governess position in Norfolk.  There is no reason left for her to stay in London and she doesn’t know if she could anymore anyway, at least financially.  Eliza is very impressed with the estate in Norfolk and the children seem great but where are the parents?  She is instructed that solicitor Alfred Raisin takes care of everything and she will collect her wages from him.  At first, Raisin gives vague answers to Eliza’s questions and there’s something in the house that seems to resent her presence.  After Eliza finds out there have been 6 governesses in the last year, she is determined to find answers and protect the children at all costs.  This House is Haunted by John Boyne is a nice, clean, ghost story set in 1800s England.

Stacy W.


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