Thursday, November 6, 2014

Neverhome by, Laird Hunt


Neverhome by, Laird Hunt
Available in-house

Synopsis from Goodreads:

An extraordinary novel about a wife who disguises herself as a man and goes off to fight in the Civil War.

She calls herself Ash, but that's not her real name. She is a farmer's faithful wife, but she has left her husband to don the uniform of a Union soldier in the Civil War. Neverhome tells the harrowing story of Ash Thompson during the battle for the South. Through bloodshed and hysteria and heartbreak, she becomes a hero, a folk legend, a madwoman and a traitor to the American cause.

Laird Hunt's dazzling new novel throws a light on the adventurous women who chose to fight instead of stay behind. It is also a mystery story: why did Ash leave and her husband stay? Why can she not return? What will she have to go through to make it back home?

In gorgeous prose, Hunt's rebellious young heroine fights her way through history, and back home to her husband, and finally into our hearts.


My Review:

A fascinating, sad story. I read this book in a day I couldn't stop reading I had to find out what happens next.

It's written like an oral history you truly hear her voice in every phrase and story. At times she is an unreliable narrator but sometimes you need to lie to yourself to get through the day.

This is historical fiction and Ash/Constance is a compilation of many women who dressed as men during the Civil War to go fight the war. All had different reasons and Ash’s reason was because her husband was weak, he was the soft one in the family and she was wire so she decided that she was the one who is going to go off to war.  As she said I was strong he was not , so it was me went to war to defend the Republic.

Parts of this book are very gory because  this is a no holds barred war story and you have to remember what medicine was like in those days. Plus there is no Geneva Convention so prisoners of war were treated so awfully that it’s hard for us to understand because there are rules about prisoner treatment now. The hardest part of this book to read is when she is held prisoner, those scenes are horrific but it is what happened during the civil war.

I loved the metaphor of the shave how it made you feel human again and you could forget the things you’ve seen for a few minutes.

Constance/Ash kept up an inner monologue with her mother who had been gone a long time but I think these conversations with her mother helped keep her sane. But it also teaches us about Constance and why and how she became Ash the reasons go so much deeper than just her husband is the soft one.

I think more men than she knew were on to her but since she was such a good soldier none of them said a word, like the Colonel I think he knew for awhile. And in her journey home she learned so much about herself and the Colonel. Speaking of her journey home, when she reached home things weren’t as she hoped there either and this ending was so heartbreaking.

But as I said earlier yes this book is heartbreaking but it is also beautiful and lyrical and I feel it is a must read.


4 ½ Stars

Monday, October 27, 2014

Frozen by, Mary Casanova


Frozen by, Mary Casanova

Synopsis from Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose hasn’t said a word in eleven years—ever since the day she was found lying in a snowbank during a howling storm. Like her voice, her memories of her mother and what happened that night were frozen.

Set during the roaring 1920s in the beautiful, wild area on Rainy Lake where Minnesota meets Canada, Frozen tells the intriguing story of Sadie Rose, whose mother died under strange circumstances the same night that Sadie Rose was found, unable to speak, in a snowbank. Sadie Rose doesn’t know her last name and has only fleeting memories of her mother—and the conflicting knowledge that her mother had worked in a brothel. Taken in as a foster child by a corrupt senator, Sadie Rose spends every summer along the shores of Rainy Lake, where her silence is both a prison and a sanctuary.

One day, Sadie Rose stumbles on a half-dozen faded, scandalous photographs—pictures, she realizes, of her mother. They release a flood of puzzling memories, and these wisps of the past send her at last into the heart of her own life’s great mystery: who was her mother, and how did she die? Why did her mother work in a brothel—did she have a choice? What really happened that night when a five-year-old girl was found shivering in a snowbank, her voice and identity abruptly shattered?

Sadie Rose’s search for her personal truth is laid against a swirling historical drama—a time of prohibition and women winning the right to vote, political corruption, and a fevered fight over the area’s wilderness between a charismatic, unyielding, powerful industrialist and a quiet man battling to save the wide, wild forests and waters of northernmost Minnesota. Frozen is a suspenseful, moving testimonial to the haves and the have-nots, to the power of family and memory, and to the extraordinary strength of a young woman who has lost her voice in nearly every way—but is utterly determined to find it again.

My Review:

I really liked the character of Sadie Rose, she is a tough cookie but I also liked that we saw this softer side as her memories of when she was young came crashing down on her, the memories of the night her mother died and she almost froze to death in a snowbank but that night she not only lost her mother but her voice too but that was eleven years ago and now Sadie is having flashes of both memory and voice and the memories are not at all what she expected.

Of course you kind of have a little inkling of the truth behind what happened to Sadie’s mother but I didn’t care I wanted to see how the story played out. I liked Sadie’s journey from mute half prisoner to talking woman of the world. The awful truths about herself and her mother and father could have easily done a person in but not Sadie Rose they only made her stronger. I loved the other characters in this especially Hans & Aasta they were my favorites. My only small problem with the story is I’m not sure at the end if (hmm how do I saw this without a spoiler) …if things would have worked out so quickly or would more of a fight been put up or that that was enough “justice” for her parents. ( Read the book and hopefully that sentence will make sense to you).

This was a great young adult historical fiction set not that far from my home I thought the author did a great job at evoking the time and place in this book I just think the ending will be a problem for some people (I was a little iffy on it myself) but overall I enjoyed this book and would read others by this author as I very much enjoyed her writing. This would have been a solid 4 but the ending felt a bit rushed and not as believable as I had hoped.

3 ½ stars

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Whimsey: A Novel by Kaye Wilkinson Barley



Synopsis from Goodreads: Whimsey is a novel of southern fiction with a splash of magic and a touch of fantasy, topped with a sprinkling of humor.
The magic was already there when cigar-smoking matriarch Elizabeth Calhoun established an artist’s colony on an island off the coast of Georgia and named it Whimsey.
Elizabeth’s ghost still drops in from time to time to make sure things are going as she planned.
There’s also a wicked pixie named Earlene who fancies tight-fitting designer clothes and Louboutin stilettos.
Elizabeth’s grandniece, Emma Hamilton Foley, a once-promising jewelry designer who moved away from the island, now fears her talent has deserted her.
Along with her four best childhood friends, she has been invited to be a resident artist at Whimsey’s new upscale gallery, Les ├ętoiles. To join them, she’ll need to regain her talent, face the demons from her past and her feelings about Eli Tatnall, whom she loved as a girl.
Will moving back to the Island of Whimsey bring the magic back?
WHIMSEY is a story of hope and affirmation, about families and best girlfriends, connections and feelings. It’s about the things in life that make us happy and the things that scare us to death. And the people who walk through life with us.

My Review:
I want to live in Whimsey! This book proves not only can you go home again but that you should. Emma tried to leave Whimsey in the past but when things go wrong in her life and her artistic jewelry line takes the hit , she eventually figures out she needs to find her inner magic again and with some help from her long dead aunt Elizabeth the only place that it can be found is on the island of Whimsey. I loved the scenes with Aunt Elizabeth and the crayon and the story of finding you crimson, we all need this lesson!

I also enjoyed the pixie Earlene, I loved that she made silver glitter fall off of Emma without her even realizing it. Oh who am I kidding I loved every character in this book. The whole ensemble is there for a reason each with their own set of advise to Emma and when she finally decides to listen to all the people and island are trying to tell her things get much better for. I also want to see her jewelry; I want to see these colors the colors of a sunrise on Whimsey with colors no one has a name for.

This book is right up there with Sarah Addison Allen in southern magical realism; in fact I think these two authors should get together because the big grand opening of the gallery needs a caterer and who better than the Waverly sisters!

I highly recommend this book to southern fiction lovers, especially fans of Sarah Addison Allen. This book has the same feel good aftereffect that Sarah’s books do. I was surprised to find this is Kaye’s first novel; I look forward to reading anything else she writes!

5 Stars

Monday, October 13, 2014

Harpers Bazaar 10 BOOKS YOU MUST READ IF YOU LOVED 'GONE GIRL'




Harpers Bazaar put out a list 10 BOOKS YOU MUST READ IF YOU LOVED 'GONE GIRL' follow the link to the article here:

Which books suggested by Harpers Bazaar are available at the Library?




1)      Dare Me, by Megan Abbott- Available on Audio from Library2Go

2)      Cartwheel, by Jennifer DuBois- Available in Ebook from Library2Go

3)      Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberley McCreight- Available in Ebook & Audio from Library2Go

4)      Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn- Available in house in softcover also available in Audio and Ebook from Library2Go

5)      Abroad, by Katie Crouch- Not available but can get it through InterLibrary Loan

6)      The Silent Wife, by A.S.A Harrison- Available in Ebook & Audio from Library2Go

7)      The Wicked Girls, by Alex Marwood- Available in house in softcover

8)      The Secret History, by Donna Tartt- Available in house in softcover also available in Audio and Ebook from Library2Go

9)      In the Woods, by Tana French-Available in Ebook from Library2Go

10)   The Cuckoo's Calling, by J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith- Available in house in Hardcover and on Audio from Library2Go

Friday, September 12, 2014

Library2Go Spotlight-Dollbaby , by Laura Lane McNeal narrated by, January LaVoy



Dollbaby , by Laura Lane McNeal narrated by, January LaVoy  :Available in ebook & audiobook from Library2Go (soon to be available in-house)



Warning: You will fall in love with the characters in this book.

This book made me laugh and made me cry. 11 year old Ibby’s (Liberty) father has died and her mother (can I put quotes around mother to let you know what I think of her) drops her off at her grandmother Fannie’s house the problem is Ibby and Miss Fannie have never met, and this so called mother doesn’t even walk her to the door to introduce them just drops her off in the street and drives away. If you can’t tell by this paragraph I don’t think very highly of Vidrine’s so called motherly love. Especially the “gift” she wants Ibby to give to her grandmother, Vidrine is just a spiteful woman.

Luckily for Ibby she is going into a house full of women that will love her and take care of her, the first person she meets is Dollbaby and her momma Queenie who work for her grandmother Fannie and Ibby doesn’t realize her grandmother is just as scared as she is that they won’t like each other, but Miss Fannie is a character and luckily they do hit it off even if it is strained for a little while. Miss Fannie is an interesting character strong yet fragile I laughed when she was helping the bookie then cried when she had her spell on Ibby’s birthday she was such an interesting character that has been through some awful things and when we learn how Queenie came to work for her and how she got her nickname it really gives insight into both of these women.

The book starts out in 1964, 3 days before Ibby’s 12th birthday and continues on till she is in college. Now, you know what race relations were like at this time in our country and even though this is New Orleans there is still certain things that can’t be done, even though Ibby is friends with Doll & Queenie’s family when she is out alone with any of them things are said and done that will make you cringe and hope that in this day and age things like that don’t happen anymore.

There is one other character that I did not like and that was neighbor girl Annabelle what a little brat who grew up to be a spoiled rotten brat (ok not the b-word I was going to use but you get my drift) but karma oh wonderful karma with a little push from Miss Fannie and Miss Ibby she does get her comeuppance and that made me laugh and cheer!

I truly loved the characters in this book Doll and Queenie are great ladies and I loved how loyal and loving they were towards both Miss Fannie and Ibby even from the first time meeting them. This is a story about family and acceptance and is a truly wonderful read.

Narrator January LaVoy did a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life I loved how she voiced Ibby at age 11 sounding like a little girl and voiced her differently as she got older but yet you knew it was Ibby talking, everyone had their own unique voice, LaVoy’s narration truly added to my experience of this book.

If you are a fan of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt or Secret Life of Bees or just southern fiction in general give this one a try.


5 Stars

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

National Book Festival Washington D.C.

Librarian Susie Sharp attends The National Book Festival




I was honored to be asked by the State Librarian, Mary Soucie, to attend The National Book Festival in Washington D.C. and work the booth for North Dakota. We were set up in the Pavilion of States at The Walter E. Washington Convention Center where there was a booth for each state plus the American territories. When people came into the convention center they were given a bag for all the giveaways and a map, if they got all 50 states plus the territories stamped by each booth they could turn the map in for a free book.

L-R- Our wonderful Junior League Volunteer, ND State Librarian Mary Soucie, Talking Books Coordinator Sue Hammer-Schneider, Susie Sharp Librarian Eddy-New Rockford Library


Our booth had plastic cups that said Book Nerd on them, magnets and postcards with a wordle of North Dakota Authors. To tell you the scale of how many people came through the booth we had 1000 cups and ran out of them by 11 am and that was actually the slowest time of the day.  We had a lot of fun at our booth and were surprised how many attendees had a North Dakota story, the family from Virginia that had vacationed in Medora this summer and attended the musical and pitch fork fondue, the many people who were stationed at either Minot AFB or Grand Forks AFB, the young lady who said her grandmother started the first library in a small town in North Dakota but unfortunately couldn’t remember the name of the town, and many more.

                                                   A picture of some of the crowd


There were author events all day but we were too busy in our booth to go see any of them, however at the end of the day I was able to get down to have Lisa See sign our library’s copy of China Dolls.




This trip was a lot of fun; I was able to get a little sightseeing done but will need to go back one day to see everything I missed. 




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We Were Liars , by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars , by E. Lockhart
Available in house
Synopsis from Goodreads
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

My Review:

This book was very twisty and turny with an unreliable narrator and is very hard to review because I don't want to give anything away and I'm afraid many people will, by tags and such, which is a shame. I'm so glad I read it right away.

I can't stop thinking about this story, it is written at times like poetry, as a diary and as just rambling but beauty throughout. It is so unique and hard to describe and I would highly recommend reading it soon before the spoilers are out there.

There were times I thought I had it figured out then the author would change my mind only to be partly right later on.

I read this book in 2 days and it has been a long time since a book has grabbed me that fast in a long time. Once I started all I wanted to do was keep reading. And when I was done I just wanted to start it over again.

I would recommend this to adult and young adult alike this book defies classification it just needs to be read.

If they make a movie of this one Edward Hermann must play granddad. I pictured him all the way through.

If you like a book that keeps you guessing, give this one a try. And Please Don’t Spoil it for others!

I don’t want to say anymore for fear of giving something away but I loved this book!


5 Stars