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June Newsletter

FICTION

The Bird Skinner - by Alice Greenway

The Bird SkinnerJim Kennoway was once an esteemed member of the ornithology department at the Museum of Natural History in New York, collecting and skinning birds as specimens. Slowing down from a hard-lived life and a recent leg amputation, Jim retreats to an island in Maine: to drink, smoke, and to be left alone. As a young man he worked for Naval Intelligence during World War II in the Solomon Islands. While spying on Japanese shipping from behind enemy lines, Jim befriended Tosca, a young islander who worked with him as a scout. Now, thirty years later, Tosca has sent his daughter Cadillac to stay with Jim in the weeks before she begins premedical studies at Yale. She arrives to Jim’s consternation, yet she will capture his heart and the hearts of everyone she meets, irrevocably changing their lives. Written in lush, lyrical prose—rich in island detail, redolent of Maine in summer and of the Pacific—The Bird Skinner is wise and wrenching, an unforgettable masterwork from an extraordinarily skillful novelist.

The Book Thief - by Markus Zusak

The book Thief

With Death as narrator, Markus' novel follows Liesel Meminger, The Book Thief, through the fear-filled years of Nazi Germany. The story opens as the ten-year-old girl takes her first book shortly after her younger brother's death. Both children were en route to the foster home of Hans and Rosa Hubermann in a Munich suburb. Despite Rosa's sharp tongue and Hans's lack of work, their home is a loving refuge for the nightmare-ridden girl. It also becomes a hideout for Max, a young Jewish man whose father saved Hans's life. Liesel finds solace with her neighbor Rudy and her creative partnership with Max. Accompanied by Rudy, the girl copes by stealing food from farmers and books from the mayor's wife. There are also good moments as she learns to read and plays soccer, but Hans's ill-advised act of kindness to a Jewish prisoner forces Max to leave their safe house. The failing war effort and bombing by the Allies lead to more sacrifices, a local suicide and, eventually, to great losses. Reading books and writing down her experiences save Liesel, but this novel clearly depicts the devastating effects of war. Narrator Allan Corduner defines each character with perfect timing. He's deliberate as the voice of Death, softly strong as Liesel, and impatient, but not unkind, as Rosa. With richly evocative imagery and compelling characters, Zusak explores behind-the-lines life in World War II Germany, showing the day-to-day heroism of ordinary people. Relevant for class discussions on wars both past and present.

 The Accidental Bookclub - by Jennifer Scott

Accidental BookclubWriting a new future takes a little time—and a lot of love.  Jean Vison never expected to run a book club, until her life took an unexpected turn. Now, with Jean’s husband gone, what began as an off-the-cuff idea has grown into a group of six women who meet the second Tuesday of every month for a potluck supper, for wine and laughter—and for books. There’s Loretta, who deals with the lack of intimacy in her marriage by diving into erotic novels. Dorothy, whose ruffian sons are a never-ending source of stress. May entertains the group with her outrageous dating stories, while Mitzi finds something political to rant about in every book—including Loretta’s trashy romances. Even Janet, with her mousy shyness and constant blush, has helped Jean rediscover the joy in life. So when Jean’s family starts unraveling again—her daughter forced into rehab and her troubled teen granddaughter, Bailey, coming to live with her in the interim—she turns to the book club for comfort and support. And, together, they all, even Bailey, discover that family is what you make of it, especially the family you choose…

 The Side Of The Sun At Noon - by Hazel Crampton

The Side Of The Sun At NoonThe side of the sun at noon is a quest, a journey of discovery. In the mid-17th century when the Dutch first settled at the Cape of Good Hope, built their fortress and began trading with the indigenous Khoikhoi, they were told of a mysterious people called the Chobona, who lived in stone houses deep in the interior of the country, were rich in gold and cattle and had long hair and pale skins. Believing them to be the people of Monomotapa, the legendary southern African empire from whom the Portuguese obtained their gold, the Dutch made every effort to reach them. "Volunteers" were selected, plans drawn up, maps supplied and expedition after expedition dispatched. None succeeded in finding the elusive Chobona. In the centuries to come historians would dismiss the Chobona as fantasy, blaming the stories on what they believed to be the over-active imagination of Eva, a young Khoikhoi girl who was the Dutchmen's main interpreter. Yet the rumours never ceased. And, as our knowledge of the past has grown, so too has the possibility that the rumours were real. The side of the sun at noon explores the truth behind the rumours, following in the footsteps of the early explorers in what is an innovative and engaging interweaving of a rich array of sources, from ancient Arab writings and indigenous oral traditions, to contemporary historical documents and modern archaeological discovery. This book makes you challenge the accepted notions of our history making you look, and look again.

The Collector - by Nora Roberts

The CollectorWhen professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one ... Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession ...

 

 The Target - by David Baldacci

 The TargetThe President knows it's a perilous, high-risk assignment. If he gives the order, he has the opportunity to take down a global menace, once and for all. If the mission fails, he would face certain impeachment, and the threats against the nation would multiply. So the president turns to the one team that can pull off the impossible: Will Robie and his partner, Jessica Reel. Together, Robie and Reel's talents as assassins are unmatched. But there are some in power who don't trust the pair. They doubt their willingness to follow orders. And they will do anything to see that the two assassins succeed, but that they do not survive. As they prepare for their mission, Reel faces a personal crisis that could well lead old enemies right to her doorstep, resurrecting the ghosts of her earlier life and bringing stark danger to all those close to her. And all the while, Robie and Reel are stalked by a new adversary: an unknown and unlikely assassin, a woman who has trained her entire life to kill, and who has her own list of targets-a list that includes Will Robie and Jessica Reel.

The Pink Suit - by Nicole Kelby

The Pink SuitA novel based on the true story behind Jacqueline Kennedy's iconic pink suit. On November 22, 1963, the First Lady accompanied her husband to Dallas, Texas dressed in a pink Chanel-style suit that was his favorite. Much of her wardrobe, including the pink suit, came from the New York boutique Chez Ninon where a young seamstress, an Irish immigrant named Kate, worked behind the scenes to meticulously craft the memorable outfits. While the two never met, Kate knew every tuck and pleat needed to create the illusion of the First Lady's perfection. And when the pink suit becomes infamous, Kate's already fragile world--divided between the excess and artistry of Chez Ninon and the traditional values of her insular neighborhood--threatens to rip apart. The Pink Suit is a fascinating look at politics, fashion, and some of the most glamorous women in history, seen through the eyes of a young woman caught in the midst of an American breed of upstairs/downstairs class drama.

 The Puppet Boy Of Warsaw - by Eva Weaver

The Puppet Boy Of WarsawTHE PUPPET BOY OF WARSAW is the story of Mika, a Jewish boy who inherits a coat from his grandfather and discovers a puppet in one of its many secret pockets. He becomes a puppeteer in the Warsaw ghetto, but when his talent is discovered, Mika is forced to entertain the occupying German troops instead of his countrymen. It is also the story of Max, a German soldier stationed in Warsaw, whose experiences in Poland and later in Siberia's Gulag show a different side to the Second World War. As one of Mika's puppets is passed to the soldier, a war-torn legacy is handed from one generation to another.

 

 

The Skin Collector - by Jeffery Deaver

The Skin CollectorA new type of serial killer is stalking the streets of New York – one more devious and disturbing than ever before. They call this butcher The Skin Collector: a tattooist with a chamber of torture hidden deep underground. But instead of using ink to create each masterpiece, the artist uses a lethal poison which will render targets dead before they can even entertain the prospect of escape ... Drafted in to investigate, NYPD detective Lincoln Rhyme and his associate Amelia Sachs have little to go on but a series of cryptic messages left etched into the skin of the deceased. As the pair struggle to discover the meaning behind the designs, they are led down a treacherous and twisting path where nothing is as it seems. And with the clock rapidly ticking before the killer strikes again, they must untangle the twisted web of clues before more victims – or they themselves – are next.

The Colour Purple - by Alice Walker

The Colour PurpleCelie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

 

 

 

Non - Fiction

 

Somme Chronicles - by Chris Schoeman

Somme ChroniclesThis is the story of South African soldiers during the 1916 Somme offensive, which took place between the Allied forces and the Germans along the Somme River in France and was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the First World War, resulting in over a million deaths in six months. In July 1916, the men of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade were involved in recapturing the village of Lingueval and clearing Delville Wood of enemy soldiers, but they suffered extreme casualties. After six days of fighting, of the Brigade's 3433 soldiers, only 750 were left standing. The rest were dead or wounded. This book tells the stories of the men of the Brigade via their letters, diaries, and interviews that the author conducted with survivors many years ago.Not much has been written about South Africans during World War I. Surprisingly, it is a relatively untapped period of military history. This fascinating new book covers the iconic battle of Delville Wood, the most famous event involving South Africans during the war.

Strings Attached - by Joanne Lipman

Strings AttachedStrings Attached is a powerful memoir about resilience in the face of unspeakable tragedy, an inspiring and deeply poignant tale of how one man transformed his own heartache into a legacy of joy for his students. His students knew Jerry Kupchynsky as “Mr. K” – the fierce, foot-stomping Ukrainian-born music teacher who rehearsed them until their fingers almost bled, and who made them better than they had any right to be. Away from the classroom, though, life seemed to conspire against him at every turn. Strings Attached takes you on his remarkable journey, from his childhood on the run in Nazi Germany, to his life in America caring for his disabled wife and their two young daughters, to his search for his younger daughter after she mysteriously disappears - a search that would last for seven years. His unforgettable story is lyrically told in alternating chapters by two childhood friends who reconnected decades later: Melanie Kupchynsky, his daughter, and Joanne Lipman, a former student. Heartbreaking yet ultimately triumphant, Strings Attached is a testament to the astonishing power of hope -- and a celebration of the profound influence one person can have on the lives of others.

Dead Drop - by Jeremy Duns

Dead DropIn August 1960, a Soviet colonel called Oleg Penkovsky tried to make contact with the West. His first attempt was to approach two American students in Moscow. He handed them a bulky envelope and pleaded with them to deliver it to the American embassy. Inside was an offer to work as a 'soldier-warrior' for the free world. MI6 and the CIA ran Penkovsky jointly, in an operation that ran through the showdown over Berlin and the Cuban Missile Crisis. He provided crucial intelligence, including photographs of rocket manuals that helped Kennedy end the Cuba crisis and avert a war. Codenamed HERO, Penkovsky is widely seen as the most important spy of the Cold War, and the CIA-MI6 operation, run as the world stood on the brink of nuclear destruction, has never been bettered. But how exactly did the Russians detect Penkovsky, and why did they let him continue his contact with his handlers for months afterwards? Could it be that the whole Cuban Missile Crisis was part of a Soviet deception operation - and has another betrayal hidden in plain sight all these years? Thrilling, evocative and hugely controversial, Dead Drop blows apart the myths surrounding one of the Cold War's greatest spy operations.

Things A Little Bird Told Me - by Biz Stone

Things A Little Bird Told MeBiz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, discusses innovation, creativity and the secrets of being a successful entrepreneur, through stories from his remarkable life and career. THINGS A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME-From GQ's 'Nerd of the Year' to one of Time's most influential people in the world, Biz Stone represents different things to different people. But he is known to all as the creative, effervescent, funny, charmingly positive and remarkably savvy co-founder of Twitter -- the social media platform that singlehandedly changed the way the world works. Now, Biz tells fascinating, pivotal, and personal stories from his early life and his careers at Google and Twitter, sharing his knowledge about the nature and importance of ingenuity today. In Biz's world:-Opportunity can be manufactured-Great work comes from abandoning a linear way of thinking-Creativity never runs out -Asking questions is free-Empathy is core to personal and global success.In this book, Biz also addresses failure, the value of vulnerability, ambition, and corporate culture. Whether seeking behind-the-scenes stories, advice, or wisdom and principles from one of the most successful businessmen of the new century, THINGS A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME will satisfy every reader.

Duty - by Robert M. Gates

Duty 'As I look back, there is a parallel theme to my years at war: love. By that I mean the love - there is no other word for it - I came to feel for the troops, and the overwhelming sense of personal responsibility I developed for them. So much so that it would shape some of my most significant decisions and positions.' When Robert M. Gates received a call from the White House, he thought he'd long left Washington politics behind: After working for six presidents in both the CIA and the National Security Council, he was happily serving as president of Texas A&M University. But when he was asked to help a nation mired in two wars and to aid the troops doing the fighting, he answered what he felt was the call of duty. Robert Gates was US Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011 serving under both George Bush and Barack Obama. Before that he was Director of the CIA. This is his candid and revealing account of US military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Gates oversaw the controversial 'surge' of US troops in both countries. As well as this, he also provides commentary on the situations in Syria, Iran, Israel and North Korea and details behind the scenes meetings with Bush, Cheney, Rice, Obama and other major political figures. Mr. Gates is the only Secretary of Defense to serve under both a Republican and a Democratic president, and in Duty he provides an unsparing, full accounting of his tenure.

Democrazy: SA's 20 Year Trip - Zapiro

DemocrazyZapiro’s latest offering DemoCrazy: SA’s Twenty-Year Trip records the extraordinary South African journey over the past two decades since the landmark election of 1994 through the eyes of the nation’s best-loved (and, by some politicians, most-loathed) cartoonist. Zapiro has won many awards for his work capturing the intensity and the absurdity of South African political and social life. DemoCrazy represents his ‘greatest hits’ collection from Mandela to Zuma – from Amandla to Nkandla and everything in between. It is a brutally funny record of a momentous and historic time. Look back to see how far the country has come but also how much further we still need to go to fulfil the promise of those early years of democracy. South Africa may have changed in twenty years but Zapiro’s sharp wit and cutting satire have remained a welcome constant over the years.

Call It Like It Is - by Mike Behr

Call It Like It IsThe world of the international rugby referee has always been a closely guarded secret... until now.As a Durban schoolboy, Jonathan Kaplan watched rugby at Kings Park every Saturday, dreaming of the day he would represent his country. Now, three decades later and at the age of 47, he reflects on the career highs and lows that saw him retire as the most capped international, Super Rugby and Currie Cup referee of all time. But records and milestones are just a part of an intriguing memoir that affords the reader a rare glimpse into the world of international refereeing... and what lies behind that enigmatic, penetrating glare that is as typical of Jonathan Kaplan as his silver-grey patch of hair. In Call It Like It Is, Kaplan describes exactly what it takes to be an international rugby referee: his gradual climb to the top, the sacrifices he had to make in his personal life, his struggle with injuries and rugby management, the toll an itinerant lifestyle exacted upon him, and much, much more. But this is not only an autobiography: Kaplan also offers his opinion on the role of technology in rugby, dissects his own successes and failures, debates the selection and assessment of referees, and, yes, gives his take on the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the Bryce Lawrence affair. Containing all the guts and glory you’d expect from an epic rugby tale, this is also the frank and forthright account of a man who, both in life and on the pitch, would only ever call it like it is.

 

Kids Fiction 0-7 Years

 

Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? - by Martin Waddell

Cant You Sleep Little BearIt's bedtime, and Little Bear can't get to sleep. He's frightened of the dark, the dark all around, which not even Big Bear's largest lantern can light up. Big Bear finds a way to show Little Bear that there is no need to be afraid.

 

 

 

Little Miss Austen: Sense And Sensibility - by Jennifer Adams

 Little Miss Austen Sense And SensibilityBabyLit is a fashionable way to introduce toddlers to the world of classic literature. With clever, simple text by Adams, paired with stylish design and illustrations by Sugar's Oliver, these books are a must for every savvy parent's nursery library. Full color.

 

 

 

Sugarlump And the Unicorn - by Julia Donaldson

Sugarlump And The UnicornWhat adventures could a rocking horse have if only he were a real horse? Sugarlump finds out when, with a flash of her eyes and a toss of her mane, a unicorn grants his wish. But for sugarlump the excitement of the racetrack and the glamour of the circus prove no match for the fun of playing with children ... Is it too late to change his mind?

 

 

Kids Fiction 9-12 Years

 

Flutter - by Erin Moulton

FlutterBig things are about to happen at Maple's house. Mama's going to have a baby, which means now there will be four Rittle sisters instead of just three. But when baby Lily is born too early and can't come home from the hospital, Maple knows it's up to her to save her sister. So she and Dawn, armed with a map and some leftover dinner, head off down a river and up a mountain to find the Wise Woman who can grant miracles. Now it's not only Lily's survival that they have to worry about, but also their own. The dangers that Maple and Dawn encounter on their journey makes them realize a thing or two about miracles-and about each other.

 

 

Nancy Drew: The Hidden Staircase - by Carolyn Keene

The Hidden StaircaseTeenage detective Nancy Drew uses her courage and powers of deduction to solve the mysterious happenings in an old stone mansion. What sort of mysterious happenings will she encounter on her journy. Very interesting and exciting. Especially for the young at heart.

 

 

 

 

Judgement Day - Terry Pratchett

Judgement DayA brilliant new Discworld story from Terry Pratchett. It's Wizards Vs Priests in a Battle for the Future of Roundworld The fourth book in the Science of Discworld series, and this time around dealing with THE REALLY BIG QUESTIONS, Terry Pratchett's brilliant new Discworld story Judgement Day is annotated with very big footnotes (the interleaving chapters) by mathematician Ian Stewart and biologist Jack Cohen, to bring you a mind-mangling combination of fiction, cutting-edge science and philosophy.

 

 

 

Teenage Fiction

 

The School For Good And Evil 2 - by Soman Chainani

School for good and evil 2In the epic sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are home, living out their Ever After. But life isn’t quite the fairy tale they expected. When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending, she reopens the gates to the School for Good and Evil. But the world she and Sophie once knew has changed. Witches and princesses, warlocks and princes are no longer enemies. New bonds are forming; old bonds are being shattered. But underneath this uneasy arrangement, a war is brewing and a dangerous enemy rises. As Agatha and Sophie battle to restore peace, an unexpected threat could destroy everything, and everyone, they love—and this time, it comes from within. Soman Chainani has created a spectacular world that Newbery Medal-winning author Ann M. Martin calls, “a fairy tale like no other, complete with romance, magic, and humor that will keep you turning pages until the end.”

Playlist For A Broken Heart - by Cathy Hopkins

Playlist For A Broken HeartWhen Paige finds an old mix CD in a local charity shop, she can't help but wonder about the boy who made it and the girl he was thinking of when he chose the songs. The tracks tell the story of a boy looking for his perfect girl, a girl to understand him, a story of being alone, being let down, misunderstood and not knowing where to turn. Following the clues of the music, Paige sets out to find the mysterious boy, going from gig to gig and band to band, hoping to track him down. But will who she finds at the end of the trail, be the boy she's imagined? Another perfect girly read from Queen of Teen nominee Cathy Hopkins!

 

 

Why We Took The Car - by Wolfgang Herrndorf

Why We Took The CarMike Klingenberg has just finished another boring, socially awkward year in middle school and is staring down a solitary two-week stint at home, thanks to his mother’s latest round of rehab and his father’s “business trip” with a suspiciously attractive personal assistant. Just as he’s watering the lawn, imagining himself lord of a very small manor in suburban Berlin, class reject Tschick shows up in a “borrowed” old Soviet-era car, and the boys hatch a plan to hit the road. Mike’s rich interior life—he meditates on beauty and the meaning of life and spins self-mocking fantasies of himself as a great essayist—hasn’t translated well to the flirtatious physical swagger required by eighth grade. Tschick, meanwhile, is a badly dressed Russian immigrant who often shows up to school reeking of alcohol and who is also given to profound leaps of psychological insight. Their road trip is peopled by unexpected, often bizarre, largely benign characters who deepen Mike’s appreciation for humanity and life. Each episode in the boys’ journey grows more outrageous, leading readers to wonder how far they’ll go before coming to a literal screeching (and squealing) halt.

Poppy - by Mary Hooper

PoppyEngland, 1914. Poppy is fifteen, beautiful and clever, but society has already carved out her destiny. There's no question of her attending the grammar school - it's too expensive and unsuitable for a girl. Instead, Poppy will become a servant at the big house. And she'll 'keep out of trouble'. But Poppy's life is about to be thrown dramatically off course. The first reason is love - with someone forbidden, who could never, ever marry a girl like her. The second reason is war. Nothing could have prepared her for that. As she experiences what people are capable of - the best of humanity and the very worst - Poppy will find an unexpected freedom and discover how to be truly her own person.

Published in Newsletter Archive