30 Dec
2011

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

*Marlie’s Pick!*

Ladies — this is a great sum­mer read, you won’t be able to put it down! It’s the sto­ry of a young girl, Lily, who leaves her abu­sive father and sets off on her own search­ing for answers about her deceased moth­er. She is tak­en in by a fam­i­ly of three black sis­ters liv­ing in the deep south dur­ing a time of seri­ous racial unrest. Lily is put to work in their hon­ey house for the sum­mer and begins a won­der­ful jour­ney of self dis­cov­ery in wom­en, fam­i­ly, love and trust. I swear you can actu­al­ly smell the hon­ey from the bees and feel the swel­ter­ing heat of the south in sum­mer! I ran out and got The Mer­maid Chair (by Sue Monk Kidd) the very day I fin­ished this — I couldn’t get enough! The Mer­maid Chair was great, but not as affec­tive and haunt­ing as The Secret Life of Bees… LOVED IT!

30 Dec
2011

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

*Kristen’s Pick!*

The first line is: “I was born singing. Most babies cry, I sang an aria”. Yeah, this book had me at hel­lo. I liked Levine’s oth­er books, (Ella Enchant­ed and Two Princess­es of Bamar­re) but I loved this! This lyri­cal re-imag­in­ing of Snow White spoke vol­umes to me about the spell beau­ty can weave and the use (and mis­use) of pow­er. Besides, I was born to live in Ayortha, a land where con­ver­sa­tions are most often sung and then spo­ken. This book should take its place as a mod­ern clas­sic.

30 Dec
2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

*Blair’s Pick!*

If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re bro­ken”

If you’re not already sold just by pick­ing up and flip­ping through this visu­al­ly stun­ning book, then you are bor­ing. This is a beau­ti­ful sto­ry that blends film and mag­ic and child­like won­der to cre­ate Hugo Cabret, a boy who tends to the clocks at a train sta­tion in Paris, where he also lives. At the heart of the sto­ry lies a mys­tery: an automa­ton with a mes­sage. This mes­sage not only changes Hugo’s life, but also some­one unex­pect­ed. Like the small parts that make each clock work, the char­ac­ters in this sto­ry real­ize they too are parts of a vast machin­ery where each piece mat­ters, be it a dream­er, adven­tur­er, magi­cian or clock­mak­er.

30 Dec
2011

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

* Jessi’s Pick*

Imag­ine a poem that kills any­one who heard it. Now imag­ine if that same poem some­how end­ed up in a children’s book that par­ents read to their kids. What would you do? Carl Streator, a news­pa­per jour­nal­ist, makes it his mis­sion to find and destroy all copies of this dead­ly poem. Author of Fight Club and famous for sub­ver­sive twists, Chuck Palah­niuk does not fail to impress with Lul­laby. This book was my first intro­duc­tion into the world of Palah­niuk and is still by far my favorite!

30 Dec
2011

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford

*Mya’s Pick!*

A won­der­ful trip through space and time, com­plete with time-trav­el­ing Dads, Edward Rochester (of Jane Eyre fame) and the world’s third most want­ed crim­i­nal. The Eyre affair intro­duces agent Thurs­day Next, an agent with the secre­tive Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Net­work, Lit­er­ary Detec­tive Divi­sion. It’s all busi­ness as usu­al for Thurs­day until some­one starts kid­nap­ping char­ac­ter from works of lit­er­a­ture. When Jane Eyre goes miss­ing, it’s up to Thurs­day to enter the world of books and track down the vil­lain. A friend sug­gest­ed, more like forced this book on me. Full of lit­er­ary puns and allu­sions, this bril­liant­ly out­landish caper kept me laugh­ing from start­to fin­ish. I enjoyed it so much that the moment I fin­ished I went right and bought the rest of the series. A book that makes all those gru­el­ing hours in AP Eng­lish worth it!

30 Dec
2011

Watchmen by Alan Moore

*Chris’s Pick!*

We’ve come a long way since the for­ties and the cre­ation of the super­hero, and there is no bet­ter exam­ple of just how far comics have pro­gressed as an art than Alan Moore’s Watch­men. Dave Gib­bons bril­liant illus­tra­tions cre­ate a liv­ing world, pack­ing in as much detail as pos­si­ble, forc­ing a slow exam­i­na­tion of every pan­el, flip­ping back through pages to find sim­i­lar­ly framed pan­els.
Watch­men deliv­ers on every front: super­heroes who aren’t super, a mur­der-mys­tery detec­tive sto­ry, an alter­nate real­i­ty where Richard Nixon is still pres­i­dent and we nev­er lost in Viet­nam, philo­soph­i­cal reflec­tions on the human con­di­tion, a detached blue sci­en­tist with God-like pow­ers who refus­es to wear cloth­ing, a moral­ly grey world where any­one could be the hero or the vil­lain, and pirates.
That sounds like a lot, but it’s nev­er cum­ber­some, it’s tied togeth­er through beau­ti­ful prose, like a tapes­try made from the tat­tered old remains of Superman’s cape. Moore asks hard ques­tions, and he asks them earnest­ly, and with­out restraint. There’s an answer in there some­where, hid­den in the illus­tra­tions, in the mul­ti­ple nar­ra­tives, the over­lap­ping time-peri­ods, hid­den in the beau­ty. But above all,there’s a real human sto­ry about what hap­pens when aver­age peo­ple decide that aver­age isn’t enough any­more.

30 Dec
2011

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

*Blair’s Pick!*

What do you do when you find out your heart is the wrong kind?” says the supervil­lain of this sto­ry, Dr. Impos­si­ble. This comic book turned lit­er­ary fic­tion answers this ques­tion through the alter­nat­ing per­spec­tives of super vil­lain and super­hero. I am so excit­ed about this book I can’t stand it, I am in full nerd mode already search­ing out the author online hop­ing he will be my friend. The devel­op­ment of each char­ac­ter is stun­ning not only in sub­stance but also tim­ing; the unbe­liev­ably rich orig­in sto­ries of each hero/villain unfold them­selves sud­den­ly and unex­pect­ed­ly-and they’re AWESOME! One min­ute you’re immersed in an epic bat­tle and the next you’re learn­ing about what Dr Impos­si­ble was like in high­school, that his name was Jonathan, that you knew a guy like him, and that may­be things would have been dif­fer­ent if he got the girl. But now, he’s fight­ing off a pot­bel­ly and liv­ing in a motel, plan­ning his next scheme to con­quer the world…his 12th attempt. It’s got oth­er dimen­sions, time trav­el, aliens, armies of algae and fungus…what else could you pos­si­bly ask for?

30 Dec
2011

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

*Marlie’s Pick*

Mar­lie thinks this anony­mous review says it best:

It reads like the old fash­ioned sto­ry­telling- the kind which boys and girls sit cross-legged and rapt around an old man who, despite his calm demeanor and soft tones, fierce­ly com­mands the room’s atten­tion. In this case the sto­ry he tells is mys­te­ri­ous and won­drous. It is unlike any­thing any­one has ever heard. And so the children’s par­ents linger around the out­side of the cir­cle, not­ing the teller’s words and sens­ing that some­thing is per­co­lat­ing deep beneath the char­ac­ters and the action, some­thing that, with a know­ing glint and a rare hint, the sto­ry­teller sug­gests but doesn’t let on entire­ly, some moral or truth, or may­be some insight into the human con­di­tion.
And so a sto­ry- a tru­ly sen­sa­tion­al and dra­mat­ic sto­ry based on a boy trapped in a small lifeboat in the mid­dle of the Paci­fic Ocean for 277 days with a Ben­gal Tiger, an often- bloody strug­gle for life and death- arrives in a voice that is even mea­sured, paced, scaled. And this voice opens the doors for every­thing else that is packed in: the vivid aquat­ic sce­nes, the reflec­tions on reli­gion, human need and vice, the range and impor­tance of zoo­log­i­cal under­stand­ing.
Faced with all this, the boys and girls and moth­ers and fathers learn and won­der, and per­haps some of them become aware that this man is not just a sto­ry­teller, but tru­ly also a teacher, and that every­thing he describes- every quandary, every expla­na­tion, every detail, every rev­e­la­tion- every­thing serves to teach some­thing more than the sto­ry of a boy and a tiger… -Anony­mous