Our summer reading club is almost over.  There’s just one week left to turn in your reading logs.  Friday, August 27 will be the last day.  Register and turn in your completed logs by 5:00pm that day to be eligible for prizes!

Our grand prize this year is an iPod Touch.  We’re also giving away two Sansa Clip+ mp3 players.  All of these devices are compatible with our downloadable audiobooks.

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Another great, fun story by Wolff, who is getting stronger and stronger as a storyteller. The writing is solid, but Wolff’s forte is forming bright, vivid female characters who face their troubles head on with passion. A British native, Wolff’s young career women all start off less than resilient but then end up conquering heroes. In this novel, Phoebe starts off by opening her new vintage fashion shop, fresh from a badly broken relationship and the death of her close friend. Through both events and a series of wonderful supporting characters, Phoebe comes into her own (her store being a success doesn’t hurt either!)! In addition to the story and characters, I also enjoyed leaning about vintage haute couture. A must read for chick lit-ters and those who enjoy light, breezy women’s fiction.

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Are you ready for our Hunger Games Challenge on August 11?  Why not train yourself for the trivia portion of the contest by visiting the official Hunger Games Facebook page?  You can also sign up to win free books there!

Anxiously awaiting the release of Mockingjay on August 24?  View the trailer here, and the countdown clock here.

Join us Wednesday, Aug 11 for The Hunger Games Challenge!

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A French architect, Antoine Rey, is a modern divorced father with conflicted feelings about his work, his children, his father, and his ex-wife. In a kind brotherly gesture, he decides to surprise his sister with a weekend on the sea for her fortieth birthday. They spent many childhood summers on the island of Noirmoutier with their grandparents, mother and father. In hoping to lift both their spirits the trip is a pleasant experience but also results in reliving many memories of their dead mother. On the way home his sister turns to him remembering something and the car runs off the road. The plot of the novel revolves around what she remembers.

What I loved about this book was the sympathetic character of Antoine Rey. I tend to read books with strong women characters and it was a refreshing change to delve into the feelings of a man and his role as a father, husband, brother, son, and grandson. It was also a pleasant trip to travel to Paris within the confines of this novel. Family relationships also play a prominent place and it is always reassuring to see that all families are a bit stressed in their own unique way. The writing is exquisite.

There is a great deal of death and grieving. The main plot involves Antoine trying to discover how his mother died, his daughter must confront the sudden death of her best friend, the grandmother dies, his train hits a woman, an apparent suicide, and his father is dying from cancer. His lover is a mortician. Yet instead of dark morbidity, I felt uplifted when I finished the book. A Secret Kept should not stay secret for long with avid readers.

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This one was slow starting for me. But, once I got into the “Kitteridge” groove, it was a ride I thoroughly enjoyed. I think one of the off-putting things for me was that Olive is not the most likable character. Actually, she can be quite a B$*&%& at times. But, she does have her soft side, so once you get to know her, she does grow on you. Another thing that might have initially hindered my immediate enjoyment was that Olive’s story told in a series of interconnecting short stories. I’m not a big short story reader, so I admit I might have started this one thinking…”Oh, I’m not going to like it. It’s stories…” But, soon, that prejudice vanished when I figured out that Strout was not writing separate stories that happen to feature some continuing characters. She was weaving a tale of a woman’s flawed and marred life, through the eyes of all of the people around her. A strikingly good read!

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This one is set in Provence, Paris, and NYC and it’s a light comic caper about a stolen Cezanne. The comedy is mostly subtle and I would say it is more of a FUN read than a truly outrageously comical read, but the dialogue and the situations the characters find themselves in provide enough humor to cause a giggle or two now and then. The plot is easygoing and a little convoluted, though it doesn’t matter because the “ride” of the story is much more fun than the story itself. A Cezanne painting is witnessed being taken away in a plumber’s van. This starts the witness, a professional photographer, on a series of events to try and find out what happened to the painting and where it was going. It’s a great beach read — best on a Provence beach, though. Oh, well!

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In her seventh novel, Ms. Ansay turns to historical fiction. This novel is a story within a story concerning a young mother and college professor who is writing a book about the pianist Clara and the composer Robert Schumann and Clara Schumann’s relationship with the composer Johannes Brahms. Like Clara Schumann, novelist Jeanette is a gifted pianist and like Clara Schumann she has difficulty balancing her art with the demands of parenthood. The writing is lovely and lyrical and is a moving contemporary story of the difficulties that can affect an artist.

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This tome is one of the best character studies in fiction I’ve read. All stemming from the elderly matriarch of a family of three children, Pilcher weaves a saga that is vivid, lush and wildly fascinating. The matriarch, Penelope, has just gotten out of the hospital at the beginning of the novel, for what she continually denies was a heart attack. Her children, all busy with their own lives, have trouble dealing with their headstrong mother. From this start, the novel traces the early periods of Penelope’s life…followed by the lives of her children and loved ones. All of the characters’ stories connect with Penelope in some way…she remains the focus of the story at all times. But, even with the vast amount of pages, I never once tired or grew bored of her or any of the other stories. This one takes a while to get through, but it is worth it!

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A fun tale with an interesting weave of supernatural to change things up a bit. Tilly is bored with her life and her high school sweetheart husband and their inability to get pregnant is a constant source of contention. On a whim, Tilly visits a psychic, who happens to be a former friend, and this fortune teller warns her that she possesses the gift of “clarity.” Not believing in any of the psychic stuff, she initially ignores the fortune, but soon she begins to have day dreams where she foresees what is about to happen in her life. After these flashes of future vision, Tilly’s life begins to take turns she never imagined. This is the second book I’ve read by Winn Scotch, the first being The Department of Lost and Found. She is a strong writer who enjoys taking chances.

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A strong thriller that has small-town and strong families ties intricate to the story. Set in rural New York State, the girlfriend of police detective’s son goes missing and the son is a strong suspect. This disappearance also brings to light the decades-old murder of a local girl who was friends with the detective during his high school years. Never having read Unger, I was surprised by how, not only well-written, but how formed the characters were. We really got to know these people and, as a result of that, you felt and cared for all of them. A VERY powerful thriller!

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