Author Archives: catbraganza

Destination Romance: Two Books That Will Scratch Your Itch For Travel And Love

These books by Emily Henry are the perfect way to immerse yourself in your summer feels.

People We Meet on Vacation is a fun story about two college friends that go on vacation together every summer. Alex and Poppy couldn’t be any different from each other but what they have works…until it doesn’t. When one vacation goes completely wrong, Poppy and Alex take a two year break. Poppy is ready to fix their broken relationship and proposes a trip to do just that. Will Poppy and Alex mend their relationship? You have to read People We Meet on Vacation to find out.

This book is great fun for travelers and non-travelers alike. Henry’s descriptions of Poppy and Alex’s vacations will take you back to places you’ve visited or entice you to go to places you haven’t been. Travel the country from New Orleans, LA to Vail, CO with Alex and Poppy as they explore not only their vacation destinations but who they are as people and what they want from life.

Beach Read by Emily Henry is the story of two authors, Augustus Everett and January Andrews. January is trying to cure her writer’s block and write her next best-selling romance novel. What better place than the beach house her father left her? Augustus is writing his next literary best seller, right next door. Imagine January’s surprise when she discovers Augustus, an old college peer, living right out her doorstep. A challenge is issued. Can Augustus write the perfect romance novel? Will January be able to write a dark literary novel?

The two take turns giving lessons and field trips about their genre of expertise. From book clubs to death cult interviews the two run the gambit of experiences and challenge their views of the world. As they open up to each other about their writing experiences they learn even more about themselves and each other. Who will win the challenge and will it bring them together or divide them? Time will tell.

– Review by Catherine, Main Library

Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

Everything Sad Is Untrue: (a true story): Nayeri, Daniel: 9781646140008:  Amazon.com: Books

Inspired by Daniel Nayeri‘s real life, Everything Sad is Untrue is the phenomenal story of twelve year old Khosrou or as his American classmates call him, Daniel. Settle in as Nayeri weaves a tale that is all things magical, beautiful and dangerous. Daniel and his mother and sister have fled Iran and ended up in Oklahoma to start a new life. Daniel sets out to tell his story at school to his disbelieving classmates and we have the pleasure of joining them.

In a world where Daniel feels untethered, where details and dates are fuzzy, he makes connections and builds his history with stories of his relatives and ancestors. Gathering inspiration from 1001 Nights and the tradition of Scheherazade (a story about stories), Nayeri shares the rich and vibrant stories of Persian myths and legends. He weaves in his own story with literary mastery in the most moving way.

This is an adventure story filled with kings and drug lords, persecution, and carpets woven with gems. The story makes it’s way from Iran to London, Abu Dhabi, Italy, and the United States. When finished, the reader will sit with stunning imagery of Persian culture. Although this story is written from the perspective of a twelve year old boy, the rich language and cultural references, along with Khosrou’s struggles make this a stunning book for all ages.

An important component of this novel is the art of storytelling and unearthing what makes a good story. It’s about how stories blend together and how people’s stories in particular connect and in turn bind humanity together. It’s a commentary on how the stories of our past and of ourselves live on and mold us into who we are and who we are becoming. This book celebrates not only Persian literature but the writer in all of us. As Nayeri says “Every story, is the sound of a storyteller begging to stay alive.”

For this work of art, Nayeri has been recognized with the following:

– Review by Catherine, Main Library

When Setting Matters

We all know that setting is important to every story but in some books it takes on a life of its own. There are books where the setting feels like an extra character, not just an extra character, a vital character. There are proper terms for these sort of settings, integral setting, symbolic setting, and antagonist setting to name some. If you are seeking authors who know how to create a scene, look no further. Check out these books below.

Cover art

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List is set on the wild and isolated Cormorant Island off the coast of Ireland. Guests arrive for the wedding of glamour couple, Julia Keegan and Will Slater but things take a dark turn when a storm starts brewing and guests are left stranded. The setting is eerie with a Lord of the Flies vibe. You can almost feel the dread in the air. The guests and the islands secrets start to come to light and emotions run high in this dark and twisted tale.

Mexican Gothic - Wikipedia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic is set in 1950’s Mexico. Strong-willed, Noemí Taboada travels to the countryside after her father receives a concerning letter from her newly married cousin. Married to a wealthy Englishman, her cousin, Catalina lives in High Place, an estate set high in the hills tucked away from the small village. Catalina’s husband and family are serious and menacing. Noemi works to uncover the cause of her cousin’s illness and strange behavior and in turn exposes deadly family secrets.

The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel takes place in upstate New York. The timeline shifts between 2017 and 1982. Carly Kirk arrives in Fell, New York to investigate the disappearance of her Aunt Viv. Viv disappeared in 1982 while working at The Sun Down Motel and Carly is looking for answers. As part of her investigation, Carly begins working at the Sun Down Motel. She retraces her Aunt’s movements and begins to uncover some disturbing events. The hotel seems to be trying to tell her something important. Will she figure it out before it’s too late?

Ghost Wall

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Ghost Wall takes place in the northern England countryside. Silvie and her family join some of her father’s fellow professors and their students in an anthropological reenactment. The group must live and work as if they are part of the Iron Age, gathering roots and hunting from the surrounding forest and bog. Things take a turn when the group decides to build a ghost wall like those of their ancient counterparts. The spiritual turn provides a perspective into the role of ritual and lore and it’s consuming power.

Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yu

Tokyo Ueno Station takes place at a park in Tokyo, Japan near Ueno Station. It spans from 1964 to 2011 and is the story of Kazu and his life living homeless in the park. In the story Kazu is our ghost guide who leads us through his life, the history of the park and his friends that live in the park with him. Kazu’s story is one of thousands and yet unique to him. The park is both a refuge for those that call it home and a constant upheaval. A National Book Award winner, Miri takes us on a spectral look at the outcast of society.

– Review by Catherine, Main Library

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton and Robert

From her Imagination Library program to her recent donation of a million dollars for COVID research, Dolly Parton’s fame is more than just her music. She is a song writer, business woman and philanthropist with a whole lot of charisma. Her book Dolly Parton, Songteller is everything a fan could hope for and more, complete with photographs, song lyrics and stories that will have you reminiscing about family and community and how we become who we are.

The book dives into her professional relationship with Porter Wagoner. It includes anecdotes about Dolly and some of Country music’s top performers but mostly it’s about Dolly. It’s about her work ethic and talent. It’s about the people who helped her along the way and about her foundation, her family.

Her songs tell her story. Songs like Coat of Many Colors and My Tennessee Mountain Home tell the story of her childhood. Songs like Jolene and Tomorrow is Forever are about her marriage to Carl Dean. Some of her songs are just from her imagination but some tell us about her love of butterflies and eagles.

It’s hard to choose between the book and the audio book. Listen to the audio book and Dolly Parton will sing to you and tell you about her life with an accent straight from the hills of Tennessee. If a song didn’t make a lot of money, Dolly might tell you it “didn’t set the woods on fire” and that left her “poor as Job’s turkey”. Check out the book and you will be delighted with full page, never before seen photos of Dolly and her family, copies of original lyrics, photos of outfits, concert fliers.

Dolly may already be a legend, but she is far from done. Heartstrings, her Netflix show is producing new episodes based on her songs, she is releasing songs every year and won a Grammy in 2020 for a collaboration with For King and Country on the song “God Only Knows”, Dolly’s 11th Grammy win. Dollywood, her park, welcomes three million guests each year and her Imagination Library has given out over 130 million books to children across the world. She celebrated her 75th birthday on January 19th and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. Is she the new Betty White? It’s possible.

Pair this book with She Come by it Natural by Sarah Smarsh and check out Dolly’s music at the library.

– Review by Catherine, Main Library