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Note to Shelf: August 31st Edition

It’s not a rumor. The Darien Library is open. If you are a bibliophile, like many of us, you will be happy to learn that our shelves are filling up each week with brand new books. There is nothing that makes us happier than hearing a patron exclaim, “You’re open… I need a book recommendation!” We love connecting you with the right book at the right time.

Oh, and many of us have been on a huge book reading binge lately. Some of our recent favorites include Lisa Wingate’s The Book of Lost Friends, Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan, Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenncomer, and The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian.

To quote one of our favorite booksellers, RJ Julia, “Books can provide a spark of wonder, escape and adventure. They provide the motivation to dream, to learn, and to believe.”

Let us help you find that spark with a good book. Stop by and see us or, if you prefer, log into our online Book Matchmaker Express service, where you tell us your favorite genre and we provide you with a recommendation.

This edition's featured booklist Women Rocks: Celebrates the centennial of the 19th amendment.

Now on to the reviews.

Pat T.

As the dog days of August wind down, I can’t help but recommend a wonderful mystery featuring a four-legged companion who is very entertaining and charming. Muzzled by David Rosenfeld offers us another fun Andy Carpenter tale. Andy operates the Tara Foundation, a dog rescue center, but as a former lawyer, he always seems to come to the rescue of people in need of his sleuthing skills. A colleague at the center enlists Andy’s help when she receives a call from a dead man looking for his dog. A recent boat explosion has left three men dead, but now it seems that one survived. The question is whether the survivor is a victim or a murderer. Andy doesn’t want to get involved, but he can’t help but take the case because he has an affinity with the kind of man who would risk everything to be reunited with his dog.

The story is packed with suspense as the human attempts to follow the pursuit of justice and his trusted four-legged companions offer him protection from the dangers of the job, along with laughable moments, as they are rewarded with treats and walks. This book affirms the genuine connection of goodness between man and his best friend!

Diane

Louise Erdich's latest brilliant work, The Night Watchman, offers the reader flowing and poetic prose as it plunges deeply into the heritage, loves, losses, and struggles of the Turtle Mountain tribal nations of North Dakota. The story is based on the life of Erdich’s grandfather, who fought to fend off an attempt by the US Government to reclaim tribal land, or "terminate" the tribal nations. Set in the 1950s, the book chronicles the lives of fictional characters Pixie and her grandfather, who recognize that a new “emancipation” bill before Congress threatens the rights of Native Americans and their land. The effort to re-acquire the lands promised to the tribes centuries ago, as the original settlers of North America, is led by an expansionist Mormon senator who attempts to end any federal responsibility for the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa. The novel celebrates the incredible accomplishment of the Band in successfully resisting termination. Erdich provides great stories of ancestry, love of family, and utter determination in this wonderful novel.

Barbara M.

I recently read The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel. This fascinating and engrossing book is inspired by a true story, the kind of historical fiction I like best. The story opens with 86-year-old Eva Traub who lives in Florida and works in a library. She happens to see a newspaper article about books that were looted by the Nazis during WWII. The photograph of one of the books shocks her because it is a book that once belonged to her. Almost immediately, Eva decides to go to Berlin to claim the book in person.

The novel then shifts to 1942 in Paris where Eva, a young Jewish graduate student, is living with her Polish immigrant parents. One night, while she and her mother are babysitting a neighbor’s children, the event that they fear the most happens: Eva’s father is arrested in a roundup. Eva remembers her father’s advice that if anything happens to him she is to contact his boss for help. However, the boss is only able to give Eva some blank documents. Eva knows she and her mother must leave Paris so she forges travel and identity papers, discovering that she is quite skillful at forgery. This skill serves her and many other people as she goes on to help the Resistance after settling in a small town in the Free Zone. Her work involves erasing the identities of children for their protection, but she records their true names, in code, in The Book of Lost Names. This is the looted book she sets out from Florida to reclaim, hoping to find out the fate of a man she loved. I highly recommend this engaging novel.

Note to Shelf, Teen

Mia

True or False by Cindy L. Otis, a former CIA analyst, is a nonfiction history book and an informative guide for learning to spot and resist fake news. Starting with the earliest days of misinformation, the author shares historical instances where information was weaponized for nefarious purposes—including anecdotes about ancient Egypt, the US Founding Fathers, and the case of Jack the Ripper. She also details recent examples of internet tweets and memes gone wrong. But the book goes beyond the history of fake news; the second section is an extremely useful guide to learning how to identify misinformation. It provides examples and activities to sharpen your critical thinking skills and make you an information crusader! As the author says in her conclusion, "Each of us has a critical role to play in fighting fake news," and this book is an excellent step in the right direction.

Note to Shelf, Junior

Kaitlin

Author/illustrator Chad Sell hits it out of the park again with Doodleville, a graphic novel fantasy where art comes to life to magical - sometimes dangerous - effect. Drew’s doodles have a habit of sneaking away. And while they’re not necessarily bad, they do often misbehave. Plus, no one in Art Club thinks Drew’s drawings are all that mature. But when Drew decides to push herself to create something more grown-up, things quickly get out of hand. Will Art Club be able to save the day, or have Drew’s doodles finally gone too far? Readers who loved Cardboard Kingdom as well as fans of such fantasy hits as Mighty Jack and Nightlights will quickly find themselves completely absorbed in this creative tale.

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