Author Archive

Run Away with These Groundbreaking Titles

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Five titles, recently released, set against the turbulent backdrop of the Civil War, slavery and America in the 1800s.  Each novel tells a unique story, from various perspectives of  the people affected.

Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier 

Forced to leave England and struggling with illness in the wake of a family tragedy, Quaker Honor Bright is forced to rely on strangers in the harsh landscape of 1850 Ohio and is compelled to join the Underground Railroad network to help runaway slaves escape to freedom.


Rebel Wife by Taylor M. Polites  

This is the story of a young widow trying to survive the violent world of Reconstruction Alabama, where the old gentility masks a continuing war fueled by hatred, treachery and still-powerful secrets.



Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini

This novel illuminates the extraordinary friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave who won her freedom by the skill of her needle, and the friendship of the first lady by her devotion.


House Girl by Tara Conklin  

Virginia, 1852:  Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse to her ailing mistress, the aspiring artist Lu Anne Bell. New York City, 2004: Lina Sparrow, first-year associate in an elite law firm, is given a  highly sensitive assignment: she must find the “perfect plaintiff” to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.


Wash by Margaret Wrinkle

When a troubled Revolutionary War veteran requires his slave, Washington, to become a breeding sire, Washington’s resolve to stay faithful to his West African spiritual legacy leads to a loving relationship with an enslaved healer woman.



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Staff Picks — Best of 2012

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Here is a list of some of our Staff Picks for the Best of 2012!  Place a hold or stop by your local branch to check one out.

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (2012)

At the turn of the 20th century in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a gentle solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots. Then two feral, pregnant girls and armed gunmen set Talmadge on an irrevocable course to save and protect, and reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.

Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill (2012)

Reluctantly abandoning her crime-reporting job to accompany her family to her mother’s newly acquired holiday camp on Thailand’s Gulf of Siam, Jimm Juree investigates a morbid local mystery in the hopes of revamping her career.

True Sisters by Sandra Dallas (2012)

Joining the ranks of emigrants responding to Brigham Young’s edict to move to Salt Lake City with two-wheeled handcarts as their only mode of travel, four women share a grueling journey of survival that tests the bonds of their friendship and faith.

Hologram for the King by David Eggers (2012)

A struggling American businessman travels to a rising Saudi Arabian city with the hopes of securing a contract that will earn him a commission large enough to stave off his economic woes and hold his family together.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green  (2012)

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock (2011)

Once confident and ambitious, Noelle had become crippled by anxiety, lacking the courage required even to attend a dinner party—until inspiration struck one day in the form of a quote: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

Home Front by Kristin Hannah (2012)

From a distance, Michael and Joleen Zarkades seem to have it all: a solid marriage, two exciting careers, and children they adore. But after twelve years together, the couple has lost their way. Then the Iraq war starts. An unexpected deployment will tear their already fragile family apart.

Dog Stars by Peter Heller (2012)

Surviving a pandemic disease that has killed everyone, a pilot establishes a shelter in an abandoned airport hangar before hearing a random radio transmission that compels him to risk his life to seek out other survivors.

A Grown Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson (2012)

A powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family.

Does this Church Make Me Look Fat? by Rhoda Janzen (2012)

After reconnecting with her roots and her family in Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, the author describes her newfound faith and interesting experiences hanging out with Pentecostals after she begins dating a churchgoer.

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson (2012)

In 1923, devout Eva English and her not-so-religious sister Lizzie embark on a journey to be missionaries in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar.

A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (2012)

Three elderly men are gunned down over their coffee at a local diner in Ackers Gap, West Virginia, and seemingly half the town is there to witness the act. Still, it happened so fast, and no one seems to have gotten a good look at the shooter. Was it random? Or was it connected to the spate of drug violence?

The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber (2012)

Jo Marie Rose opens the Rose Harbor Inn bed and breakfast in Cedar Cove in order to start a new life, but the inn and its first guests bring surprises into Jo’s life.

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (2012)

When a peaceful monastery in Quebec is shattered by the murder of their renowned choir director, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Surete du Quebec are challenged to find the killer in a cloistered community that has taken a vow of silence.

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts (2012)

Working alongside his mother and brother restoring a historic hotel in Boonsboro, Maryland, Owen Montgomery falls for a childhood friend.

Come Home by Lisa  Scottoline  (2012)

Rebalancing her life and career after a painful divorce, pediatrician Jill learns that her ex has died from an alleged overdose that her former stepdaughter believes was actually murder.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (2012)

When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled, and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2012)                                                         In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must do to survive while keeping secret all that she can.


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2013 Oscar Nominations

Friday, January 11th, 2013

It’s that time of year again when Oscar nominations are announced. While most of the nominations are no surprise, a few dark horses were in the mix.

My personal favorite is Beasts of the Southern Wild. A unique movie about a little girl and her father surviving Hurricane Katrina. A story about family, love, community and the environment.

Lincoln is an amazing movie; Daniel Day-Lewis does an tremendous job portraying such an iconic historical figure.

While I have not seen Life of Pi, I have read the book a few times and love the story.


There’s still time to request these DVDs and the books on which they are based before the awards ceremony airs on February 24!


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New Orleans Noir

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Below are three great mysteries set in New Orleans.  If you are craving New Orleans noir, these titles are sure to satisfy.


Hell or High Water by Joy Castro (2012)

Nola Céspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, finally catches a break: an assignment to write her first full-length feature. While investigating her story, she also becomes fixated on the search for a missing tourist in the French Quarter. As Nola’s work leads her into a violent criminal underworld, she’s forced to face disturbing truths from her own past.


The Cutting Season by Attica Locke (2012) cutting season

Some days, Caren Gray can hardly believe she is still rooted to Belle Vie, the Louisiana plantation where she grew up, where her mother was a cook and her great-great-great-grandfather was a slave. When a cane worker is found with her throat slit, Caren is drawn into the investigation as the police target one of her employees as the murderer.


Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran (2011)

Claire DeWitt

Claire has just arrived in post-Katrina New Orleans, where she is investigating the disappearance of Vic Willing, a prosecutor known for winning convictions in a homicide- plagued city. Claire follows the clues, finding old friends and making new enemies – foremost among them Andray Fairview, a young gang member who just might hold the key to the mystery.




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Grandville Library December Staff Picks

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Here is a list of what the staff at the Grandville Branch are reading:

A Winter Dream by Richard Paul EvansAn interesting twist on an age-old story.  Listened to on CD . . . good story.

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge: Funny, poignant, a bit of a page turner!

A Hologram for a King by Dave EggersA struggling American businessman travels to a rising Saudi Arabian city with the hopes of securing a contract that will earn him a commission large enough to stave off his economic woes and hold his family together.

The Age of Miracles by Karen WalkerImagines the coming-of-age story of young Julia, whose world is thrown into upheaval when it is discovered that the Earth’s rotation has suddenly begun to slow, posing a catastrophic threat to all life.

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo CampbellMargo Crane, a beautiful and uncanny markswoman, takes to the Stark River after being complicit in the death of her father and embarks on an odyssey in search of her vanished mother.

My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir by Noelle Hancock: Painfully timid as a child, Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated herself to facing her fears, a commitment that shaped the rest of her life. With Eleanor as her guide, Noelle spends the months leading up to her thirtieth birthday pursuing a “Year of Fear.”

Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim by Lisa Scottoline & Francesca SerritellaLove and tomato sauce are thick in the Scottoline/Serritella household, and Lisa and Francesca’s mother-daughter turned best-friends bond will strike a familiar note to many. But now that Lisa is a suburban empty-nester and Francesca is an independent twenty-something in the big city, they have to learn how to stay close while living apart

When She Woke by Hillary JordanHannah Payne, sentenced to being dyed a stigmatizing red for the crime of having an abortion, must learn to adjust to her new circumstances in a United States where her married lover, Aidan Dale, is Secretary of Faith.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess WalterThe story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 . . . and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.








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Banned Books Week: To Kill a Mockingbird

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

One of my favorite banned books (favorite book in general) is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  This summer, while browsing our audiobook collection for a good book, I decided to finally try To Kill a Mockingbird.  I was mesmerized in the first few minutes.  Sissy Spacek does an excellent job narrating, capturing the innocence and essence of Scout.   It also inspired me to watch the movie starring Gregory Peck.   Banned for offensive language and racism, I’m glad I had the opportunity read and enjoy this classic novel.


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Titanic Anniversary

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

The Titanic sank 100 years ago on April 15, 1912.  However, the tragic story continues to fascinate us all.  Take a look at our Titanic booklist for books and movies on the subject.



Also, check out the trailer for the new ABC Titanic mini-series:


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Monday, October 17th, 2011

Treme is an HBO drama series from the creators of The Wire.

Treme takes its name from Treme, a neighborhood of New Orleans. The series begins three months after Hurricane Katrina where the residents of New Orleans, including musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians, and other New Orleanians try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane.

I loved The Wire and I love Treme.  Gritty and realistic, full of great music.

You may also enjoy Spike Lee’s documentaries, When the Levees Broke and If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise.


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Tori Amos, “Night of Hunters”

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Night of Hunters is old-school Tori Amos. For those who have not enjoyed her recent work, you will enjoy this album. Beautiful piano work with haunting lyrics to linger in your mind. Night of Hunters is Tori at her finest.

Read the NPR review here


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Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

Monday, October 10th, 2011

A companion memoir to Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller recounts the story of her parents.  We follow Nicola and Tim Fuller as they hopscotch the continent, running from war and unspeakable heartbreak, from Kenya to Rhodesia to Zambia, even returning to England briefly. But just when it seems that Nicola has been broken entirely by Africa, it is the African earth itself that revives her.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is a story of loss and survival. Emotional without being sentimental. Read the New York Times article  for a thorough review. Browse the photographs from the book here.


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