Immersing yourself within the covers of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet is a literary treat. The readers on the audio CD are also very good in their presentation of David Mitchell’s writing expertise. Sometimes the accents do not sound realistic but for the most part it is an enjoyable listening experience.

A mix of historical fiction, suspense, political intrigue, and a touching love story, this novel begins in 1799 in Diejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the farthest outpost of the Dutch East Indies Company. Jacob De Zoet arrives as the new clerk in hopes of earning a fortune so he can wed his wealthy fiancée back in Holland. Japan is a closed country for foreigners and the Dutch are their sole trading partners. In the opening chapters it takes a while to engage and understand the action and characters since the scenes jump around but soon one figures it out. After finishing the novel I was amazed by the quality of its construction. The themes, the action, the setting and the characterization all mesh in a seamless story.

Obviously well researched, the book flows beautifully with countless poetic passages, dialogue with subtle humor, and suspenseful scenes that appeal to both female and male readers. What I found particularly beautiful was the portrayal of men acting honorably amid corruption, greed, lust, and deception. With wondrous writing, Mitchell exposes the love between fathers and sons, respect for women and what it means to be a man.

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Having just read Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open, I decided to stick with the non-fiction genre and read the account of Nick Schuyler in his book Not Without Hope written with Jere Longman. This is the true story of four friends, two of them NFL football players, who went on a fishing trip that ended in tragedy as Nick was the only one of the four to come out alive. This accident occurred Spring of 2009 and the book was released one year later in March 2010. I remember vaguely hearing about this on the news, but had little recollection of the events, so everything in the book was new to me.

Nick Schuyler, his best friend Will Bleakley, NFL pros Marquis Cooper, and Corey Smith all went out on a fishing trip on Cooper’s boat in Florida. Ominous weather was quickly approaching so the guys decided to head back to shore. As they prepared to head home they realized the anchor of the boat was stuck. In a last ditch effort to free the anchor they tried tying the anchor rope to the stern of the boat and hitting the throttle. The anchor did not yank free, but instead, the stern sank and filled with water causing the boat to capsize. This is where the tragedy begins. Nick recalls his 43 hours at sea waiting for rescue while sitting on the hull of the boat grabbing on for dear life. He describes how his three friends eventually succumb to hypothermia and the elements and die right before his eyes.

It was very easy to get hooked into this book. I’m not a fast reader, but it only took me 2 days to finish the book. It was a very compelling story with very vivid descriptions of what the four men endured out at sea. Even though I knew the outcome of the story I remained glued to my kindle. There were parts of the book that were heartbreaking to read, but as a whole I found it a very riveting account.

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This is the one everyone is talking about. I usually stay away from uber-popular titles like the plague, but this was too popular to pass up. And, I believe, it deserves most, if not all, of the hype. But, be warned, it starts slow and ends kind of slow but in-between are some of the most compelling, can’t-put-it-down-in-the-middle-of-the-night fair. Like I said, at the start, I was pretty bored. But, once it kicks in (when you find out the essence of the “thriller” part of the story), I was hooked. The “thriller” part (which takes up most of the book, so don’t worry) involves a disgraced journalist who is asked by the head of a influential Swedish family to write his memoirs and also, in the process, find out what happened to his niece who went missing over 40 years ago. Be warned…this one is pretty dang gory and graphic in parts. Author Stieg Larsson doesn’t hold anything back when he describes a crime scene. And, I like that…it’s honest. Deliberate when it needs to be and riveting always, Larsson (who passed away after he submitted the final book in this trilogy to his publisher) deserves all of the credit he’s getting. Too bad he’s not here to enjoy it!

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Voting is open for the annual Teens Top Ten books!  Visit our website to see the list of nominations.  Teens can vote online and also at the library.  Visit the Ref or AV desks to vote and get free candy!

Voting will take place now through September 17.  The winners will announced during Teen Read Week (October 17-24).  All 26 nominations were chosen by teen reading groups across the country.

For more information about the Teens Top Ten, visit the official website.

Teens who vote at the library get free candy!

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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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