Library Treasures

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Janice Y.K. Lee’s second novel, The Expatriates (LEE) offers a magnetic story that will likely transport you to new horizons. The lives of its three main characters overlap in complex ways. Set in Hong Kong, some have referred to Lee’s latest as coming from a female Henry James. The description is apt.
Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi was 37 when he died of cancer last year. With degrees in literature and philosophy before taking up medical studies, he had planned to write one day but that day was pushed up with the diagnosis of terminal lung cancer. When Breath Becomes Air (BIO Kalanithi) is a work you may need to read in intervals but one highly worth the effort. He offers a breathtaking meditation on how death strips bare our sense that we are defined by our potential. Appreciating today and recognizing what we have and who we have becomes what is essential. His lived experience and view that the body is not a problem to be solved but the vessel of a unique lived experience offers much for the reader to contemplate.
Scarlet Tides by David Hair (HAI) is the second book in The Moontide Quartet series. Scarlet Tides has many of the same strengths as the first book, Mage’s Book (also in fiction, HAI). Strengths include the story being epoch shaping and a rich setting for the story to unfold in. If you like an epic fantasy tale, this story has everything a fantasy should be.
Dreamer’s Pool by Judith Marillier (MAR) offers characters with distinct, interesting voices. What drew me first was the plot which is quick moving and well-paced. If you read Marillier’s more recent Wildwood Dancing (Teen MAR) note that this is not a Teen title.
Western readers will delight in Dark Prairie by the always reliable John D. Nesbitt (NES). The story takes place in sleepy Winsome, Wyoming where Grey invents excuses to see Ruth. When a controversial dam will split up a lot of rangeland and cattle disappear, an investigation ensues that includes all the elements of a western.
Novelist Tim Chaplin was born in Fargo, only 80 miles from Jamestown, North Dakota where fellow western writer Louis L’Amour was born 29 years earlier. They both have French/Irish ancestry and the fathers of both men were large-animal veterinarians. His Fire Bell in the Night (CHA) is one L’Amour would appreciate this story of Alex Thorne, enjoying retirement, saves the life of fellow rail passenger Rudyard Kipling. When there is suspicion this was no accident, Thorne acts as guardian for the British Author on his tour of the American West.
If you want to get an excellent feel for what it’s like to be in Afghanistan, what the ordinary people experience, and the view of a Peace Corps volunteer in this area in the late 1960s, pick up Little Women of Baghlan by Susan Fox (World History Asian Fox). One gains helpful insights into the health, customs, isolation, ignorance and illiteracy evident in Afghanistan and a society where women play second fiddle to men but direct what happens in the family. The author includes footnotes, which detail social, political and economic realities providing a great deal of background.
The Vanishing Coin by Mate Egan with Magician Mike Lane and illustrated by Eric Wight (J EGA) is the kind of book that fits many outside-of-the-box approaches used. It’s a middle grade book offering a fun story with interesting characters and some nifty magic tricks. This appeals to a fair number of reluctant readers. The book’s main character, Mike, is basically a good, fourth grader who keeps finding himself in trouble because he finds it hard to stay focused. It includes how his parents have worked with him to aid him in developing coping skills.
Set to the tune of “Hickory Dickory Dock,” the text of Alison Murray’s Hickory Dickory Dog fits the traditional nursery song. The language is pure fun and child-friendly. The digital pictures used throughout the book have bright colors, simple shapes and the straight illustration of the 1950s. Analog clocks pop up through the pages, offering visual cues (and subtle ones too) to those on the threshold of knowing how to tell time. This 32-page treasury is ideal for ages 2 to 5 and makes a good read-aloud (even sing-aloud) book.
Looking for silly humor and fun illustrations? Pick up The Great Balloon Hullaballoo by Peter Bently & Mei Matsuoka (JE BEN). It’s entertaining for preschool to grade one.

Dr. Leroy Hommerding
Beach Library Director