Friday, September 15, 2017

The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman

It's been twenty years since Kersti Kuusk has been to the Lycée, the prestigious boarding school she attended as a teen. Kersti abruptly left the school during her senior year after her best friend Cressida mysteriously fell from the balcony of her dorm. Cressida's fall was declared an accident, but Kersti refuses to believe it. When a mutual friend of theirs passes away and sends Kersti a strange letter, it leaves even more questions about Cressida unanswered.

Now a successful author, Kersti is invited back to the Lycée's 100th anniversary celebration honoring women who have made a significant contribution to the world. Kersti sees this as the perfect time to delve a little bit deeper into exactly what happened the night of Cressida's accident. When a secret letter and incriminating Polaroids show up at Kersti's hotel, she finally puts together the missing pieces of the puzzle. Just how far will someone go to keep the secrets surrounding Cressida's accident?

The Finishing School is told in alternating chapters between the present day and Kersti's school years leading up to Cressida's fall from the balcony. This technique is effective in that it creates tension and suspense, particularly those chapters that focus on Kersti's present day findings.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Like her mother before her, Anna Forster was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in her late thirties. When her memory begins to rapidly deteriorate, Anna is moved to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility set up to help people who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's. Though she's reluctant to embrace her life at Rosalind House, Anna begins to befriend Luke, the only other person her age at Rosalind House. When the disease takes more of Anna's memory, she fights to hold onto everything she can, including her relationship with Luke.

Eve Bennett has suddenly become a single mother after her husband's death. Forced to provide for her daughter Clementine, Eve takes a job as the cook at Rosalind House. When she realizes Anna and Luke's relationship is what it is, Eve makes a daring move to make sure nobody has to be without the one they love.

Written in the style of Liane Moriarity, Sally Hepworth's The Things We Keep weaves together the stories of Anna Forster and Eve Bennett. These women are faced with their own difficulties, but ultimately help one another.

Friday, September 1, 2017

I Hate Everyone, Except You by Clinton Kelly

Clinton Kelly perhaps best known for all things fashion on What Not to Wear and co-host of the The Chew, is back with an all new book filled with candid, hilarious, and often snarky essays on nearly everything under the sun. From his somewhat awkward childhood to his feud with Paula Deen over whether or not it's acceptable to eat a chicken wing with a fork on TV to what was supposed to a relaxing spa day with his best friend that turned into a muddy fiasco, Kelly isn't afraid to tell it like it is. While known for his TV persona, I Hate Everyone, Except You is an unapologetic, honest, humorous look at Kelly's life; one that we don't always see on TV.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride by Jamie Lee

As a bride-to-be, the exciting yet daunting task of planning a wedding is before me. Jamie Lee's book Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride has made that task a little bit more entertaining. Her book, part wedding memoir, part checklist/timeline, part comedy paints wedding planning in a completely different light. While the timelines and checklists are helpful when it comes to planning, perhaps it's Lee's comedic insights that make this book an entertaining read. Lee's not afraid to say it like it is when it comes to nosy parents, how expensive everything is, and the wedding traditions that new generations of brides could live without. Though sometimes Lee's humor is a bit much, the best advice to take away from reading Weddiculous is that the most important things about your wedding day is that "it's just the first day in a long and happy marriage."

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

The Complete Persepolis is the graphic novel memoir of author Marjane Satrapi's childhood growing up in a large family in Tehran, the capital of Iran, during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The first chapters of the memoir focus on the very different views of life in public versus life in the comfort of one's home, showing opinion of the Shah, social classes, and traditional gender rolls. Once the Shah is overthrown for a new Islamic regime, all schools become single-gender, Satrapi is forced to wear a veil, and those who originally supported the revolution become an enemy of the newly formed government. Persepolis follows Satrapi's life from adolescence to boarding school in Vienna to her bittersweet return to her beloved homeland.

This edgy and observant graphic novel is filled with simple black and white illustrations in the graphic panels, which adds to the depth that this story conveys. The text is written in an almost childish manner, to reflect Marjane's innocence in the horrifying world that was Tehran in 1979. Filled with dynamic characters, this book is fascinating and alarming at the same time.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

The author of Wolf in White Van is back with another creeping, psychological novel.  Jeremy Heldt is a post-high school graduate working in the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa in the late 1990s. He knows his life is far from glamourous.  It’s just him and his dad since his mom passed away in a car accident six years ago.  He knows he should probably enroll in some classes at the local community college or at least look for a full-time job now that he’s out of school.   Things take an unusual turn when Stephanie Parsons returns a copy of a video and says “there’s something on this one.”  Jeremy forgets about it until the next day when another customer complains about a second tape being “taped over.”  After taking the second tape home to watch it, he decides it’s time to tell his boss, Sarah Jane about the strange tapes. She too takes one of the videos home and then forgets about it for weeks.  But once she watches it, she sees a familiar farm house that leads her to seek out the creator of the films. Stephanie and Jeremy begin their own investigations and the strange videos worm their way into each of their lives.

 John Darnielle claims that he is a man who loves loose ends.  This is true in that there are no nice neat answers in this book.  But the writing creates general feelings of unease and a drowning sense of memory to take the reader down paths of the past.  To a girl whose mother walked away when she five.  To a cultish church with vagrant followers.  To an old farmhouse where unsettling things were recorded and then expertly spliced into rental videos and then forgotten. Darnielle proves yet again that some of the creepiest stories aren’t really horrible at all.  They may only be vaguely menacing.  And that may be enough to make a book stick with you for a very long time. Check out Universal Harvester from the library today.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee's Pachinko is a multi generational story set in Japan that focuses on the twists and turns of history as it affects an immigrant Korean family beginning in 1900. This book is sure to be of interest to those fascinated by history or reading about how events affect life in weird and wonderful ways.