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.

Meb for Mortals by Meb Keflezighi

Meb for MortalsIf you are a runner or follow running in any way, you are probably as familiar with Meb Keflezighi as you are with Steve Prefontaine.  Meb has come out with a pretty good running book called Meb for Mortals.   If you are unaware of who Meb is, well, he just happens to be one of the greatest runners ever-the only runner to have won the Boston Marathon (2014), NYC Marathon (2009), and have an Olympic medal in marathoning (2004).  And not only did he win these medals, when he won them each time it had been at least 25-30 years since the last American had won any of them! I really like that there was such a spread of years between these achievements also because it shows how an athlete can dominate in running for a long time-some sports there is such a short period of time that you can be on top of your game and it’s usually when you’re young-Meb was 39 when he won Boston!  His book is for professional runners and for new runners too.  His chapters will take you through things like nutrition, training, racing, etc.  I read a lot of running books and magazines to try to glean some advice and/or inspiration from them and frankly there are some that I get nothing from.  But Meb’s book has some interesting drills that I will be adding to my repertoire and I really enjoyed his chapter on “thinking like Meb”-especially the committing to excellence part. A great kernel of advice: don’t use the word “sacrifice” because it has negative connotations.  So if you are making hard sacrifices for your running, use the word “choose” instead.  “I choose to do this because it’s better for my running”.  Actually, if other runners are anything like me, our “choices” annoy our family and friends much more than they do ourselves! Worthwhile reading.

Stacy W.


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In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

dark dark woodNora is a reclusive writer, and she likes it that way. Unexpectedly, she receives an invitation to attend the “hen,” or bachelorette party, for Clare, a friend she hasn’t seen in ten years. The invitation is puzzling and curiosity getting the better of her, Nora accepts. Soon, she finds herself in a glass house in the woods, cut off from civilization, with a small group of Clare’s supposedly closest friends. As they start the partying in earnest, Nora tries to figure out her purpose with the group. When they use the Ouija board for their evening party game, things start to slip into weirdness. Murder is the Ouija word of the day, a threat backed up by mysterious footprints in the freshly fallen snow. Is this a party game gone wrong, or is the group truly in danger?

This debut novel’s storyline reminds me of one of those scary movies that kids like to watch at sleepovers. Hints are dropped here and there about friends with hidden grudges and people with mysterious pasts. Shadows lurk in the corners, and monsters hide in the closets. While that may make this story seem trite, it is not. You immediately connect with Nora, and alternating chapters tell details during and after the story’s main event, keep the pacing strong and the tension high. In a Dark, Dark Wood is a fast read, with the creepy atmosphere of the glass house in the woods providing an eerie setting. Without any graphic or explicit details, this psychological thriller is a fun read.

Annette G.

 


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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Calpurnia TateEleven-year-old Calpurnia Tate has six brothers. As the only girl in the bunch, Calpurnia is just beginning to realize that her parents’ expectations for her are much different than for her brothers. It is 1899, and she is expected to learn to cook, sew, knit, and generally be domestic so that she can take care of a family of her own one day. Thing is, Calpurnia doesn’t really like being domestic, and even when she really tries, she’s not very good at it. Calpurnia may lack cooking and sewing talent, but she has an abundance of curiosity. One day, she overcomes her fear of her imposing grandfather and asks him a question: Why are the yellow grasshoppers so much bigger than the green grasshoppers in her back yard? Her grandfather doesn’t answer the question directly, but rather he starts encouraging her to observe and record the natural world for herself so she might figure it out. And figure it out, she does, and her investigation leads Calpurnia to think about her life, her dreams, and her place in the world at the turn of the century.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is a marvelous book. Calpurnia is smart and full of spirit. Her relationship with her grandfather develops slowly over the course of the story wonderfully well. Calpurnia yearns for a life of study as a naturalist, but she also begins to embrace the choices she has as a young woman in 1900 as she begins to understand her mother and the other women in her town. There are no easy answers for Calpurnia, but her journey of discovery is well worth the read. Thankfully, there is a second book in this series titled The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate so we can continue to follow Calpurnia’s journey

Annette G.


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The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman

winter familyI still fondly remember a violent western I read years ago called A Congregation of Jackals by S. Craig Zahler.  Although I have read lots of books I have loved since then (especially mysteries), I’ve never found anything similar.  Well, I’ve just finished The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman and although it’s not a western, it is an extremely violent historical fiction and a lot of it takes place in the West.  The Winter Family is not really a family at all – periodically there are brothers that belong to it but it’s really just a group of like-minded individuals intent on killing, looting and terrorizing as much as they can get away with.  The group comes together during the Civil War and is eventually led by a nutcase named Winter.  At first, there are a couple members who actually have some morals and believe that even though they are committing evil acts, they are doing it for the greater good.  As the war ends and time passes it becomes clear that the group’s immediate commanding officer is just a violent, insane man who has been lying to them all along to get them to do horrific things.  A few can’t handle it but most of the gang decide that what they have been doing is fun and just keep right on going.  Over the following decades they either cause whatever mayhem they want to or are paid by powerful people who do not want to dirty their own hands to do things like throw elections, bounty hunt, get rid of landowners who don’t want to move, etc.  Great read!

Stacy W.

 


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Awakening by S.J. Bolton

awakeningClara Benning, a veternarian who specializes in wildlife rescues in a small villiage in England, is reclusive by nature. Supremely self-concious of her appearance due to scarring left after a childhood accident, Clara avoids human contact whenever possible. Yet, when a neighbor is killed by a bite from a poisonous snake, Clara turns out to be the only local expert authorities can turn to for help. Soon, snakes are turning up all over the village, and three more people are found dead. When one of the snakes turns out to be a taipan, a snake that is not found naturally in England, it becomes obvious that the deaths are not accidental, but murder. Clara is pulled deeper into the investigation, aided by a soft-spoken neighbor and a eccentric reptile expert. The investigation prompts them to delve into tragic fire of a village church that happened decades ago, uncovering secrets that clearly someone wants to keep safely hidden.

This standalone title Awakening by Sharon Bolton is decidedly creepy with wonderful Gothic overtones. Clara Benning is a compelling character, a strong woman in spite of her disfigurement. As I read, I kept thinking this would turn into something familiar and trite, as if a Gothic tale set in the American South had been overlaid on a British mystery. To my great pleasure, this never happened, and I enjoyed the thrills and chills all the way to the end of the book. Very enjoyable, and I will likely read more of Sharon Bolton’s work.

Annette G.


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Ratscalibur by Josh Lieb

ratscaliburOur adventure begins with 11-year-old Joey moving to the city. He didn’t want to, but Mom got a better job. As they are unpacking, Uncle Patrick arrives with a pet rat for him. This isn’t an ordinary rat, but Gondorff the Gray, a ragician from the low realm (man = magician, rat = ragician). Gondorff has failed his mission and needs an urgent message sent to King Uther, with a ragical bite on his finger Joey finds himself  turned into a rat. And, he’s off on his quest, upon reaching his destination Joey pulls a spork from a scone and the crowd starts cheering “Ratscalibur! Ratscalibur!” This is just the start of Joey’s journey in his quest to become a boy again and return to his mother. Ratscalibur by Josh Lieb is full of short chapters and action that keeps you turning the page. I look forward to the possibility of reading more about the low realm.

Polly R.


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Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery, by Henry Marsh

Do no harmI don’t usually like to think about medical things since I’m a bit squeamish in nature. However, I was eager to read Do No Harm by Henry Marsh, because to me, those who perform surgery on the brain are great explorers on the same level as astronauts. Brain surgeons operate on people knowing they are cutting into their thoughts, their dreams, and their very personalities; yet, they control their fear of the process and try to improve the lives of their patients in spite of it. Henry Marsh is an expert in his field, a top British neurosurgeon, and his insights in this book are both wonderful and terrifying. He not only provides medical information about the successes and failures of his work, but also shares his personal insights into his own life and into the lives of his patients and their families. I found his insights to be the most fascinating part of this book. How do you break the news to a family that their loved one will likely die, or at best, be horribly impaired? How do you talk to a patient and their family after a routine surgery goes terribly wrong? When is surgery not the right option, and who should decide this, the surgeon or the family? How do you put past failures behind you so you can focus on the present day surgery? Henry Marsh lays out his struggles with such issues with extreme candor and humility. He also shares his trials and tribulations with the British medical system, where surgeries are often cancelled because patients will not have beds to recover in afterwards. In a time where management of our own medical system is a controversial topic, Dr. Marsh’s commentary is especially well-timed.

Annette G.


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Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Roller GirlAstrid is twelve. It’s the summer before entering middle school. Everything starts with the latest “Evening of Cultural Enlightenment,” (there had been other not so successful outings, poetry readings, the opera, and to the modern art gallery) this line was full of strange-looking people, the building was huge, then the lights went out , ”Ladies and Gentlemen… are you read for some RRRR-OLLER DERBY?” After this “evening of cultural enlightenment” Astrid has found her passion and can’t wait to attend  Junior Roller Derby camp. As you know, twelve can be tough. Friends grow in different directions and as we grow we want to stretch our boundaries. I found myself rooting for Astrid both on the roller derby field and in her personal life. I am a fan of graphic novels and Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is a great addition to our collection.

Polly R.


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American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus

American GhostReaders who enjoy American and family history will appreciate this account of the author’s great-great grandmother Julia Schuster Staab and her descendants, who were among the early settlers of Santa Fe, New Mexico and who built the home that is still in use as the La Posada hotel — and is reputedly haunted.   The luxury hotel has been featured on Ghost Hunters and Unsolved Mysteries tv series, as the ghost of Julia, white-haired and in a long, black gown, has been reported as seen on the staircase, and blamed for various mischievous activities throughout the hotel, such as causing lights to flicker on and off and pulling blankets off guests as they sleep.

Based on online reviews, some readers of American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus were somewhat misled into expecting more emphasis on ghost hunting than the book delivers.  Rather, it is primarily an engaging exploration of the lives of Nordhaus’ ancestors, mainly Julia, who was whisked off to the American Southwest by her bridegroom immediately after her marriage in 1865 at age 21.  The account explores how the young woman, lacking physical
strength and a spirit of adventure, must gradually have been beaten down by her life in this inhospitable environment far from friends and family—a condition that may well have contributed to discontent in the afterlife that could result in a haunting.

Nordhaus is able to maintain a steady pace and focus while conveying details about various members of the family and life in New Mexico in the mid-nineteenth century.  Her journey to learn more about the life of Julia Schuster Staab takes her around the United States and to Germany.

Alison M.

 


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Death Wears a Beauty Mask: and Other Stories by Mary Higgins Clark

Death WearsDo you have a ‘trigger’ that alerts you NOT to choose a book to read? I do! I won’t read novels about missing children. As a result I haven’t read anything by Mary Higgins Clark in years, given that A Stranger is Watching, Hitched, Two Little Girls in Blue, and one of her Christmas sets feature missing children. With over 34 suspense novels written, Clark knows how to craft page turners which are perfect for summer reading. My summer started by dipping into latest, Death Wears a Beauty Mask: and Other Stories. Death Wears.. is a collection of short stories spanning Clark’s entire career and that’s what interested me. I love
carefully crafted short stories and think this genre is perfect for busy people. These stories were written between 1956 and 2009 and as such, they really reflect the social mores of the times. There’s quite a variety of settings in these 10 tales, ranging from the airline and fashion industry to rural Cape Cod and a prison. Aficionados of Clark’s other works are sure to find the seeds and themes of her novels herein.

Amy P.


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Tippecanoe County Public Library * 627 South Street * Lafayette, IN * 47901 * 765 429-0100