Gloryland by Shelton Johnson

Gloryland by Shelton Johnson

Gloryland

Shelton Johnson

Born on Emancipation Day, 1863, to a sharecropping family of black and Indian blood, Elijah Yancy never lived as a slave—but his self-image as a free person is at war with his surroundings: Spartanburg, South Carolina, in the Reconstructed South. Exiled for his own survival as a teenager, Elijah walks west to the Nebraska plains—and, like other rootless young African-American men of that era, joins up with the U.S. cavalry.

The trajectory of Elijah’s army career parallels the nation’s imperial adventures in the late 19th century: subduing Native Americans in the West, quelling rebellion in the Philippines. Haunted by the terrors endured by black Americans and by his part in persecuting other people of color, Elijah is sustained only by visions, memories, prayers, and his questing spirit—which ultimately finds a home when his troop is posted to the newly created Yosemite National Park in 1903. Here, living with little beyond mountain light, running water, campfires, and stars, he becomes a man who owns himself completely, while knowing he’s left pieces of himself scattered along his life’s path like pebbles on a creek bed.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★★.

The Disorder of Longing by Natasha Bauman

The Disorder of Longing by Natasha Bauman

The Disorder of Longing

by Natasha Bauman

When her husband arrives home carrying a crate of colorful orchids, Ada Caswell Pryce thinks he is bringing her a gift, a peace offering during an unhappy time in their marriage; little does she know how much these strange looking flowers are going to change her life.

By Boston standards of the 1890s, Ada is not a good wife. Strong-willed and beautiful, she longs for the days at university when she was free to be herself. Her husband Edward is intent on curbing her wild behavior, but she thwarts him at every turn—she drinks wine with the housekeepers, gives feminist books to her maid, and sneaks out for midnight horseback rides along the Charles River.

To treat Ada’s “hysteria,” Edward restricts her daily activities and her relationships, then carefully choreographs her sexuality. Unable to bear another day of her stultifying and demeaning existence, Ada secretly plots ways to leave. Ultimately, it is her husband’s all-consuming passion for collecting rare orchids that provides Ada with a daring opportunity for escape.

Once free, Ada’s lust for adventure takes her through the dangerous slums of New York, across the high seas of the Atlantic, and finally deep into the lush jungles of Brazil.

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

The Ghosts of Heaven

by Marcus Sedgwick

A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future.

Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet’s obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book’s final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. Merging Sedgwick’s gift for suspense with science- and historical-fiction, Ghosts of Heaven is a tale is worthy of intense obsession.

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

The Game of Love and Death

by Martha Brockenbrough

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now…Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured—a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Lorna rated it ★★★★ and said, “I, like many, did not know about the terrible genocide that occurred during the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States. Millions of people from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were deported to Siberia during Stalin’s cleansing of this area. Conditions were horrific. So it’s an important story, not only from the history standpoint, but also in love and hope.”

Bekka rated it ★★★★ and said, “This was a very powerful book. While not my favorite type of reading, the writing and suspense kept me hooked. I had a hard time putting it down. I didn’t find it as personally compelling as The Book Thief. However, it is an important story and one that has been largely overlooked by history.”

Miranda rated it ★★★★.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Lorna rated it ★★★★★.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step…

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women–mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends–view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Bekka rated it ★★★★ and said, “A little slow to start—the dialect threw me off a bit—but very good once you get into it. Quite an inspiring story.”

Rachel rated it ★★★★★.

Emma rated it ★★★★★.

Betsy rated it ★★★★★.

Valerie rated it ★★★★★.

Cathy rated it ★★★★★.

Lorna rated it ★★★.

Rebekah rated it ★★★★★.

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm

Penny from Heaven

by Jennifer L. Holm

Mother Daughter Book Club meeting for this book was held November 12, 2015.

It’s 1953 and 11-year-old Penny dreams of a summer of butter pecan ice cream, swimming, and baseball. But nothing’s that easy in Penny’s family. For starters, she can’t go swimming because her mother’s afraid she’ll catch polio at the pool. To make matters worse, her favorite uncle is living in a car. Her Nonny cries every time her father’s name is mentioned. And the two sides of her family aren’t speaking to each other!

Inspired by Newbery Honor winner Jennifer Holm’s own Italian American family, Penny from Heaven is a shining story about the everyday and the extraordinary, about a time in America’s history, not all that long ago, when being Italian meant that you were the enemy. But most of all, it’s a story about families—about the things that tear them apart and bring them together. And Holm tells it with all the richness and the layers, the love and the laughter of a Sunday dinner at Nonny’s. So pull up a chair and enjoy the feast! Buon appetito!

Newbery Honor 2007

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Lorna rated it ★★★★★.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves

by Robin Talley

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

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