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After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Recommended by Polly Cipparrone
Branch Manager, Del Mar Branch
Ever found yourself in a diner late at night wondering about the other people in there, too? Who they are? Why are they there? What are their stories? In After Dark, author Haruki Murakami takes on an overnight journey, peering into the lives of several twenty-somethings: Mari and her estranged sister Esi; Takahashi, an acquaintance of Mari’s and jazz trombonist; the tough manager of a Japanese “love” hotel; a businessman with a dark secret. Each hour of the morning is a chapter, slowly unfolding the stories and mysteries of each of these characters. Award winning author Murakami’s minimalist writing style and imaginative storytelling keeps the reader an interested voyeur.
Sovay by Celia Rees
Recommended by Cecilia Salgado
Librarian, Ramona Branch
During the year of 1794 in London, Miss Sovay Middleton is not your usual fair young maiden, but a highwayman masquerading as a man who holds up stagecoaches. Sovay’s father, Justice Middleton, a reformist who believes in reason, equality, and liberty, is known amongst the town to be lenient and fair except to authority. A Bow Street runner carries warrants and evidence for Sovay’s father’s arrest, charged with sedition. Yet the brave and determined Sovay protects her family’s safe- guard. During the time of the French Revolution, this novel, heightened with excitement, thrills of danger and wild chases, explores the realm of dreams and outwits the constraints of the regime.
Love and War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home by James Carville and Mary Matalin
Recommended by Sylvia Wolfe
Librarian, Vista Branch
James Carville, former campaign manager for Bill Clinton, and Mary Matalin, former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, are married to each other, and have been for quite awhile. As the subtitle says, they share two daughters and a New Orleans home, bought after Hurricane Katrina. They might both consider themselves retired from politics at this point, though they remain committed to their parties and continue working on political issues as consultants. What makes the book work is that it is written by both, shifting from her to him on most topics. Each has a style of writing and well of interests that makes the reader want to laugh out loud at some points, and cry for each of them at others. The back-and-forth makes for a fascinating, unforgettable book.
Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between a Soldier and His Service Dog by Luis Carlos Montalván
Recommended by Ellie Slade
Branch Manager, Ramona Branch
This book is a full color photographic essay spun from the soothing voice of a golden retriever service dog, “Tuesday,” who assists a disabled Army veteran, Captain Montalván, as he reenters civilian life after several combat tours in Iraq. Both children and adult readers will be captivated by the crisp photos and narrative that provide a touching glimpse into the everyday world of the service dog and his owner. With each page, the reader shares the challenges faced by the retired soldier and his retriever as they wade through the streets of New York. Montalván wrote this book as a spin off from his New York Times bestselling book, Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him. The original book received numerous awards, and Montalván has been featured on NPR, CNN, National Geographic and other programming. Captain Montalván is a decorated veteran who has received two Bronze stars, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor and the Combat Action Badge. He is currently recovering from a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder with the help of his loving canine companion.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Recommended by Jennifer Runge
Youth Services Librarian, Del Mar Branch
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan intertwines a story that will capitvate and move readers as they explore the facets of love. This book appeals to all ages as a reminder of first love, self discovery, and transitioning from teenagehood into adulthood.
This story, based on true events, is about two young men who come together to break the Guinness World Record for longest kiss. Craig and Harry, ex-boyfriends and friends, join together to reach this goal for their own reasons. Several stories of young couples are woven around this event, narrated by a classic Greek chorus of men who died of AIDS in the initial time of the disease.
The balance of present-day relationships with historical narration provides scope for the story and how these tales of love and acceptance trancend time.
The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer
Recommended by Ariadna Jimenez-Barrios
Librarian, Encinitas Branch
In the streets and canals of Venice, not everything is what it appears to be. Merle is the heroine of the Dark Reflections trilogy by Kai Meyer. She is a young girl who lives in an orphanage and has no one in this world except for herself. One day a mysterious mirror maker named Arcimboldo takes her under his tutelage along with Junipa, a blind orphan with special abilities. Merle is no ordinary girl either; she poses a water mirror that holds a secret. Even though the city’s economy is failing, Arcimboldo’s business thrives with the help of none other than Hell itself.
Set in historical Venice, the plot takes us far beyond its history and into the depths of magical beings, rules and the fight for power. The first book introduces crucial characters, such as the flowing queen who is venerated by all Venice; Serafin, a former master thief,;and Vermithrax,a mythical being. We learn more about the flowing queen through her manipulation of Merle’s mind and body. This is a fast-paced adventure for young adult readers and advanced uvenile readers. Merle’s quest to save the faith of Venice continues in Stone Light (book 2) and The Glass Word (book 3).
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Recommended by Danielle Clayton
Youth Services Librarian, Santee Branch
In this smart and very funny book Terry Pratchett brings to life Mau, a boy whose entire nation has been killed by a tsunami, and Daphne, the only survivor of the Sweet Judy, which washed ashore on Mau’s island. As the only two survivors on the island, Mau and Daphne are not yet ready to take on the responsibility of building a new Nation, but that is what they must do when other survivors begin to find the island. Mau is not yet a man although neither is he a boy, but now he is the leader of this new Nation. Daphne is almost an English lady, whose life skills include how to look down on foreigners and to always “Maintain Standards.” In order to thrive in their new lives and to survive cannibals, murderous mutineers, and shark attacks, Mau and Daphne must forget what they thought they knew and accept that the world is much different than anyone yet knows. I highly recommend this Printz Honor book to teens and adults. I also recommend the audio version of this book, narrated by Stephen Briggs. Briggs’ narration style perfectly pairs with Pratchett’s dry wit and intelligent prose.
Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge
Recommended by Hae Jung Kwon
Library Technician, La Mesa Branch
Winner of Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012 and Kansas City Star’s Top Books of 2012, Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses is a wonderfully chilling knock outside the door. It is a free verse treatment of classic and obscure fairytales for the modern retelling, hand in hand with visually sharp and deeply lined woodcut art illustrations by Transylvania-born Andrea Deszo, who currently serves as art professor at Amherst College. Twenty three archetypes or tales reappear in an imagined space with varied voices and points of view, which opens up the conversation and inner landscape for the life-long reader.
The truth Koertge carries through all the voices and personas led me to read these fairytales as archetypes from the collected unconscious. These stories allow the reader to be predator and prey, light and darkness, lost and omniscient against a classic backdrop. I leave you with a quote from the book’s illustrator, Dezso, who shared: “We didn’t have access to contemporary publications (in Communist Romania), so we read the classics. We lived in books. Traveled through them.”
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
Recommended by Ellie Slade
Branch Manager, Ramona Branch
García Márquez crafted this lush tale of magical reality, unrequited love and youthful folly from the byways of coastal Colombia circa 1880-1930. Straddling a half a century, the plot pivots around a love triangle and its entanglements between three vibrant characters. Six hundred and sixty-two clandestine affairs later, the rejected poet, Florentino, is finally reunited with his first love after waiting fifty years, nine months and four days for her husband to die. Against the steamy background of the Caribbean environs, Márquez conjures up a swirling concoction of characters drawn from aristocrats, beggars, plantation workers, prostitutes and philanders. This novel written by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning author promises to invigorate readers’ imagination in celebration of the written word.