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Happy Birthday, National Park Service, 100 Years!

ISBN: 
9780374280093

Terry Tempest Williams writes passionately about our natural world in the tradition of Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopard, Annie Dillard, and Edward Abbey.

This book--timed to come out with the hundredth year anniversary of the National Park System--argues strongly about the necessity of keeping our park lands protected. It also reinforces why we need them in our modern world.

“Whenever I go to a national park, I meet the miraculous,” she writes in the opening section. She also says that our national parks “are blood. They are more than scenery, they are portals and thresholds of wonder.” Having just returned from Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, I heartily second that.

Although she has visited many parks, and some, over and over, she has chosen twelve to highlight here. And I love how she does it. Not only does she share personal anecdotes about each of the twelve, but she uses various formats to do so.  For example, in the Big Bend section, she includes journal entries she wrote while there. Through riffs, all on a color theme, she shares what she saw and experienced there.

A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 
9781619634442

This romantic, fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast is sure to make your heart skip a beat. Feyre is a young woman, struggling to support her family. They once lived the lives of prosperous merchants, but now have lost everything and are starving in a hovel. Feyre has taught herself to hunt and spends her time out in the dangerous winter woods. After taking down a deer and an enormous wolf, Feyre finally has food for her family and some extra money from selling the wolf's pelt. Just when she's feeling a little comfortable, an enormous wolf-like creature bursts into her family's home, demanding she pay the price for killing a fairie. It turns out the wolf was actually a fairie in disguise and now Feyre must either forfeit her life, or go with the creature to the fairie lands of Prythian forever. 

Feyre goes with the creature across the border that keeps the mortals safe from the powerful immortal fey and into the land of Prythian. She discovers that the wolf is actually a High Fey male named Tamlin who can change his shape. He tells Feyre that his estate in the Spring Lands is her home now, but Feyre knows that this beautiful place is not all it seems to be. Dangerous creatures roam the woods and an unknown terror is gaining strength across the land. 

Feyre's story will be familiar to readers as well as new and exciting. She is a strong young woman with a mind of her own who refuses to give up who she is. Sarah J. Maas is a wonderful new voice in YA fantasy with both this series and her Throne of Glass series. She writes unforgettable characters who will inspire readers. Her worlds are easy to lose yourself in and will feel very real. Some of the content of this particular series is mature so it's recommended for older teen readers. If you've already read, and loved, this book, then you should pick up A Court of Mist and Fury. The sequel is even better than the first one! Happy Reading!

Carry On, Rainbow Rowell

ISBN: 
9781250049551

"Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen." 

Simon has been sent to save the World of Mages, but he's actually not very good at magic. He can't control his power and spends most of his time worrying about the location of his probably a vampire roommate, Baz. Simon is a wonderfully flawed character who is only a little bit like another famous chosen magic user...coughhackHarryPottercough. He's adrift in a world of magic with his friend, Penny, his girlfriend, Agatha, and his nemesis/roommate, Baz. The Insidious Humdrum is draining magic and threatening everything Simon holds dear. He's been attacking Simon regularly since he was 11 and started at Watford School of Magicks, but now, in his last year, their conflict is set to come to an epic conclusion.

For readers who are feeling lost without Harry Potter (at least until the end of the month, come on Cursed Child!) this will be a welcome treat. Watford is just different enough from Hogwarts to be new and exciting, while being similar enough to feel like coming home. The World of Mages is an interesting one and the rules of magic are very different from the Wizarding World. For Simon and the other mages, it's all about the words you use. A turn of phrase that "normals" use can hold strong power for a mage. Not every mage uses a wand to focus their power either - some use rings, swords, or even belt buckles! 

Pick up this excellent fantasy adventure if you're in the mood for some great summer reading. Don't forget to sign up for the Teen Summer Reading Program to earn points for all that reading. Grand prizes are Beats headphones, a GoPro, and a bluetooth speaker!

Living with a Dead Language

ISBN: 
9781101980224

They say that you really learn about a people only when you learn their language. Multiply that for a culture long gone, say, that of the Romans.

This book by a former editor describes her love for Latin-- how she went back to college to study it after thirty-five years in New York City publishing.  I can’t believe I even picked it up after all my complaints about being forced to take Latin in high school. But the fact that I continued studying the language after the mandatory first two years tells you something.

But this is a book about much more than Latin. It’s about following one’s passion. Along the way, Ann Patty reveals much about her life. She describes sharing a home with a man entirely opposite herself. Her partner, an arborist, lives for the outdoor life. He hikes and skis, even on the coldest days. She’s definitely a city person even though she now lives in upstate New York, often rushing back to the city for cultural events.

The Dogs of Littlefield

ISBN: 
9781476794242

Something is happening to the dogs of Littlefield, Mass.  Is someone poisoning them or does the blame fall on something more supernatural?  A cast of delightful, small-town characters suffers through this travesty as circumstance and personality pit one against each other.

It begins with the posting of warnings: pet-owners should not let their dogs roam free in the park. The signs start off politely, then denigrate into meaner advice: “Leash your beast or else.” Then a white bull-mastiff is found poisoned in the park woods.  Soon the aldermen schedule a meeting to discuss two diametrically-opposed proposals: ban all dogs from the park, or create a leash-free area for the dogs to play and have freedom.

Littlefield, long on the top ten list of best small communities to live in America, appears to be coming apart in myriad ways. Most of the teens and adults have therapists. The veneer of social niceness quickly disappears.

Eligible

ISBN: 
9781400068326

What do jogging, hate sex, cross fit gyms, and reality TV have to do with Jane Austen? Don’t be so 19th century. So what if Austen is rolling over in her grave. Sittenfeld has made a delightful pastiche of Pride and Prejudice, much more to my fiction-reading tastes than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

In this reimagined version of the classic, it’s 2013 and the Bennet family has relocated to a spider-infected old Tudor in an upscale neighborhood of Cincinnati. Country club lunches, anyone?

The five unmarried daughters still ground the story although all of them have turned very 21st century. Even Mrs. Bennet has been modernized, she’s now a shopaholic busybody. However, she still remains in determined pursuit of worthy husbands (rich, upper class) for her daughters.   

Jane and Liz have flown the nest for New York City where gentle Jane teaches yoga, and Liz, writes for the entertainment mag, Mascara. She also sleeps with her married boyfriend. At thirty-nine, Jane has given up on finding a man, and has begun in vitro fertilization treatments in the hopes of having a child. Alas, no wedding bells in the offing for both Jane and Liz.

Dumplin', Julie Murphy

ISBN: 
9780062327185

Willowdean Dickson is a Dolly Parton fan, a self described fat girl, and a resident of a small town where the event of the year is a beauty pageant. Willowdean's mother is a former winner and now basically runs the pageant. Will does her best to ignore it, preferring to spend her time with her best friend, Ellen, and at her after school job where she has a crush on a coworker. After experiencing her first heartbreak and standing up to the school bully, Will decides to go for broke and enter the pageant.

Willowdean is a character to root for. She is a very real girl who finds herself an unexpected superhero for the misfits of her town. Her story is one of family, friendship, love, and self discovery that will appeal to many readers. Check out Dumplin' this summer and enjoy it with a big glass of sweet tea (Willowdean is a Southern girl after all). Don't forget to sign up for the Teen Summer Reading Program so you can earn prizes for reading!

Half-Earth: our Planet's Fight for Life

ISBN: 
9781631490828

The central premise of this book is that in order to save many of the world’s species, humankind has to do something truly radical, that is, create wildlife and nature preserves over half the earth. 

Renowned entomologist and conservationist, Edward O. Wilson, presents in this book many examples of how interconnected life is in on our planet, and then makes a clarion call to save it. As someone who has actively worked for conservation for decades, Wilson is very knowledgeable.

He points out that of all the fauna and flora now on earth, we know only 20% of them at most at the species level. And much less about how they work together to maintain this web of life. To learn all these species, even were they to survive, would take at least a couple more centuries.

My Name is Lucy Barton

ISBN: 
9781400067695

If you ever worried as a child about bringing other children home from school and their possible reaction to your home and family life, this book will resonate with you. If you ever reconnected with a close relative after a long absence, ditto.

Lucy Barton had a pretty horrific childhood: dirt-poor for many years the family lived in an actual garage without running water. And not only was there little money, food, or clothes, but her parents provided little emotional sustenance. 

Strout takes you deep into the mind and heart of her protagonist, a young mother in her twenties, recently hospitalized after an operation.  Lucy is happily married with two young children whom she feels she has abandoned because of her illness. She also is a new writer, proud of her work, but still not at ease calling herself an author.

The present time of the book occurs in a New York City hospital where Lucy is amazed to see her mother, who’s come all the way from Iowa to take care of her daughter.  But this is so out of character for her, that Lucy can scarcely believe she has arrived. Neither parent has ever visited Lucy before and neither attended her wedding. At his one meeting with their future son-in-law, Lucy's father flipped out because her fiancée was German.

The Nest

ISBN: 
9780062414212

Tolstoy’s quote from Anna Karenina applies to this book: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

The Nest is about three generations of Plumbs: Francie, the matriarch, the middle generation that consists of Leo, Bea, Jack, and Melody, plus two of their spouses, and Melody’s two girls, the twins, Nora and Louise.

At novel’s opening we find Leo, the eldest, who long ago made a bundle on a trendy magazine, and has just been released from rehab, wandering through Central Park trying to score some drugs.

The twins, who are playing hooky from their senior year SAT prep class, watch as their uncle falls to the ground. They decide not to rescue him because he will most likely tell their mom, Melody, where he saw them, thus getting them into trouble.

At that very moment, Leo was supposed to be attending a family lunch. It’s about the nest, which is the money their Dad set aside for them in trust that comes due at Melody’s 40th birthday.  The elder Mr. Plumb wanted his kids to inherit something but not a grand inheritance, nothing that would create havoc in their lives or make them too dependent on his money.

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