Monday, April 6, 2015

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

 Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

 Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

307 pages

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Lit Guide from LitLovers.
Reading Guide from Reading Group Guides"
Reading Guide from ReadingGroupChoices
Reading Guide on BookMovement

To find a discussion guide for this book in the NoveList Plus database, go to the Library's website, click on Novelist in the Reader's Cafe under "Book Finders." Click on "Book Discussion Guides" in the right sidebar on NoveList's home page. Then, either enter the title in the Search box or search for the title alphabetically. (You will need your Salt Lake County Library card number to access this resource outside a county library.)

Author Website

Ordinary Grace was Salt Lake County's "One County One Book" choice for 2014



This title is available for download as an eBook. Learn more about downloading eBooks from the library here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dollbaby by Laura McNeal


1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure.

Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.

For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.

For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.

337 pages

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Lit Guide from LitLovers.
Discussion Questions from Reading Group Guides"
Reading Guide from ReadingGroupChoices
Reading Guide on BookMovement

To find a discussion guide for this book in the NoveList Plus database, go to the Library's website, click on Novelist in the Reader's Cafe under "Book Finders." Click on "Book Discussion Guides" in the right sidebar on NoveList's home page. Then, either enter the title in the Search box or search for the title alphabetically. (You will need your Salt Lake County Library card number to access this resource outside a county library.)

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This title is available for download as an eAudioBook. Learn more about downloading eAudioBooks here.

Dream With Little Angels by Michael Hiebert

Michael Hiebert's remarkable debut novel tells the riveting story of a small southern town haunted by tragedy, one brave woman's struggle to put a troubling mystery to rest--and its impact on the sensitive boy who comes of age in the midst of it all. . .

Abe Teal wasn't even born when Ruby Mae Vickers went missing twelve years ago. Few people in Alvin, Alabama, talk about the months spent looking for her, or about how Ruby Mae's lifeless body was finally found beneath a willow tree. Even Abe's mom, Leah, Alvin's only detective, has avoided the subject. But now, another girl is missing.

Fourteen-year-old Mary Ann Dailey took the bus home from school as usual, then simply vanished. Townsfolk comb the dense forests and swampy creeks to no avail. Days later, Tiffany Michelle Yates disappears. Abe saw her only hours before, holding an ice cream cone and wearing a pink dress.
Observant and smart, Abe watches his mother battle small-town bureaucracy and old resentments, desperate to find both girls and quietly frantic for her own children's safety. As the search takes on a terrifying urgency, Abe traverses the shifting ground between innocence and hard-won understanding, eager to know and yet fearing what will be revealed.

Dream with Little Angels is by turns lyrical, heartbreaking, and shocking--a brilliantly plotted novel of literary suspense and of the dark shadows, painful secrets, and uncompromising courage in one small town.

298 pages

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Reading Guide from ReadingGroupChoices
Reading Guide on BookMovement

To find a discussion guide for this book in the NoveList Plus database, go to the Library's website, click on Novelist in the Reader's Cafe under "Book Finders." Click on "Book Discussion Guides" in the right sidebar on NoveList's home page. Then, either enter the title in the Search box or search for the title alphabetically. (You will need your Salt Lake County Library card number to access this resource outside a county library.)

Author Website

This title is available for download as an eBook and as an eAudioBook. Learn more about downloading eBooks from the library here, and eAudioBooks here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge

At age thirty-nine, Lucie Walker has no choice but to start her life over when she comes to, up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay, with no idea how she got there or who she is. Her memory loss is caused by an emotional trauma she knows nothing about, and only when handsome, quiet Grady Goodall arrives at the hospital does she learn she has a home, a career, and a wedding just two months away. What went wrong? Grady seems to care for her, but Lucie is no more sure of him than she is of anything. As she collects the clues of her past self, she unlocks the mystery of what happened to her. The painful secrets she uncovers could hold the key to her future—if she trusts her heart enough to guide her

328 pages

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Reading Guide from ReadingGroupChoices
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Reading guide from the publisher

To find a discussion guide for this book in the NoveList Plus database, go to the Library's website, click on Novelist in the Reader's Cafe under "Book Finders." Click on "Book Discussion Guides" in the right sidebar on NoveList's home page. Then, either enter the title in the Search box or search for the title alphabetically. (You will need your Salt Lake County Library card number to access this resource outside a county library.)

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt.

But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

Nella's life changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways...

Johannes's gift helps Nella pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation...or the architect of their destruction?

400 pages

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Lit Guide from LitLovers.
Reading Guide on BookMovement

To find a discussion guide for this book in the NoveList Plus database, go to the Library's website, click on Novelist in the Reader's Cafe under "Book Finders." Click on "Book Discussion Guides" in the right sidebar on NoveList's home page. Then, either enter the title in the Search box or search for the title alphabetically. (You will need your Salt Lake County Library card number to access this resource outside a county library.)

Author Website
Cabinet houses at the Rijksmuseum, including a painting of the one owned by the real Petronella Oortman

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This title is available for download as an eBook. Learn more about downloading eBooks from the library here.

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes

A lyrical and evocative memoir from Frances Mayes, the Bard of Tuscany, about coming of age in the Deep South and the region’s powerful influence on her life.

The author of three beloved books about her life in Italy, including Under the Tuscan Sun and Every Day in Tuscany, Frances Mayes revisits the turning points that defined her early years in Fitzgerald, Georgia. With her signature style and grace, Mayes explores the power of landscape, the idea of home, and the lasting force of a chaotic and loving family.

From her years as a spirited, secretive child, through her university studies—a period of exquisite freedom that imbued her with a profound appreciation of friendship and a love of travel—to her escape to a new life in California, Mayes exuberantly recreates the intense relationships of her past, recounting the bitter and sweet stories of her complicated family: her beautiful yet fragile mother, Frankye; her unpredictable father, Garbert; Daddy Jack, whose life Garbert saved; grandmother Mother Mayes; and the family maid, Frances’s confidant Willie Bell.

Under Magnolia is a searingly honest, humorous, and moving ode to family and place, and a thoughtful meditation on the ways they define us, or cause us to define ourselves. With acute sensory language, Mayes relishes the sweetness of the South, the smells and tastes at her family table, the fragrance of her hometown trees, and writes an unforgettable story of a girl whose perspicacity and dawning self-knowledge lead her out of the South and into the rest of the world, and then to a profound return home.

293 pages

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Discussion Questions from the Publisher
Lit Guide from LitLovers.
Reading Guide on BookMovement

To find a discussion guide for this book in the NoveList Plus database, go to the Library's website, click on Novelist in the Reader's Cafe under "Book Finders." Click on "Book Discussion Guides" in the right sidebar on NoveList's home page. Then, either enter the title in the Search box or search for the title alphabetically. (You will need your Salt Lake County Library card number to access this resource outside a county library.)

Author Website
Author interview from BookBrowse.

Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendel

In June 2011, Susan Spencer-Wendel learned she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—Lou Gehrig's disease—an irreversible condition that systematically destroys the nerves that power the muscles. She was forty-four years old, with a devoted husband and three young children, and she had only one year of health remaining.

 Susan decided to live that year with joy.

She quit her job as a journalist and spent time with her family. She built an outdoor meeting space for friends in her backyard. And she took seven trips with the seven most important people in her life. As her health declined, Susan journeyed to the Yukon, Hungary, the Bahamas, and Cyprus. She took her sons to swim with dolphins, and her teenage daughter, Marina, to Kleinfeld's bridal shop in New York City to see her for the first and last time in a wedding dress.

 She also wrote this book. No longer able to walk or even to lift her arms, she tapped it out letter by letter on her iPhone using only her right thumb, the last finger still working.

 However, Until I Say Good-Bye is not angry or bitter. It is sad in parts—how could it not be?—but it is filled with Susan's optimism, joie de vivre, and sense of humor. It is a book about life, not death. One that, like Susan, will make everyone smile.

 From the Burger King parking lot where she cried after her diagnosis to a snowy hot spring near the Arctic Circle, from a hilarious family Christmas disaster to the decrepit monastery in eastern Cyprus where she rediscovered her heritage, Until I Say Good-Bye is not only Susan Spencer-Wendel's unforgettable gift to her loved ones—a heartfelt record of their final experiences together—but an offering to all of us: a reminder that "every day is better when it is lived with joy."

376 pages

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Lit Guide from LitLovers.
Reading Guide from Reading Group Guides"

To find a discussion guide for this book in the NoveList Plus database, go to the Library's website, click on Novelist in the Reader's Cafe under "Book Finders." Click on "Book Discussion Guides" in the right sidebar on NoveList's home page. Then, either enter the title in the Search box or search for the title alphabetically. (You will need your Salt Lake County Library card number to access this resource outside a county library.)

Author Website
ALS Association website

University of Florida Spotlight: