Realistic Fiction

I spy.  This month the focus is on espionage, real and fictional.

From the bestselling author of Istanbul Passage--called a "fast-moving thinking man's thriller" by The Wall Street Journal--comes a sweeping, atmospheric novel of postwar East Berlin, a city caught between political idealism and the harsh realities of Soviet occupation. Berlin 1948. Almost four years after the war's end, the city is still in ruins, a physical wasteland and a political symbol about to rupture. In the West, a defiant, blockaded city is barely surviving on airlifted supplies; in the East, the heady early days of political reconstruction are being undermined by the murky compromises of the Cold War. Espionage, like the black market, is a fact of life. Even culture has become a battleground, with German intellectuals being lured back from exile to add credibility to the competing sectors. Alex Meier, a young Jewish writer, fled the Nazis for America before the war. But the politics of his youth have now put him in the crosshairs of the McCarthy witch-hunts. Faced with deportation and the loss of his family, he makes a desperate bargain with the fledgling CIA: he will earn his way back to America by acting as their agent in his native Berlin. But almost from the start things go fatally wrong. A kidnapping misfires, an East German agent is killed, and Alex finds himself a wanted man. Worse, he discovers his real assignment--to spy on the woman he left behind, the only woman he has ever loved. Changing sides in Berlin is as easy as crossing a sector border. But where do we draw the lines of our moral boundaries? Betrayal? Survival? Murder? Filled with intrigue, and the moral ambiguity of conflicted loyalties, Joseph Kanon's new novel is a compelling thriller and a love story that brings a shadowy period of history vividly to life.

"Being a Berlin cop in 1942 was a little like putting down mousetraps in a cage full of tigers. The war is over. Bernie Gunther, our sardonic former Berlin homicide detective and unwilling SS officer, is now living on the French Riviera. It is 1956 and Bernie is the go-to guy at the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, the man you turn to for touring tips or if you need a fourth for bridge. As it happens, a local writer needs just that, someone to fill the fourth seat in a regular game that is the usual evening diversion at the Villa Mauresque. Not just any writer. Perhaps the richest and most famous living writer in the world: W. Somerset Maugham. And it turns out it is not just a bridge partner that he needs; it's some professional advice. Maugham is being blackmailed--perhaps because of his unorthodox lifestyle. Or perhaps because of something in his past, because once upon a time, Maugham worked for the British secret service, and the people now blackmailing him are spies."--.

Michigan native, author, and poet Jim Harrison passed on this weekend. Harrison's body of work included, "...21 volumes of fiction, including 'Legends of the Fall', a collection of three novellas whose title piece, about a Montana family ravaged by World War I, became a 1994 film starring Brad Pitt; 14 books of poetry; two books of essays; a memoir; and a children’s book." (New York Times) He was known for tales of outdoors and rural life in the U.P. and his rugged, masculine characters were often compared to those of Hemingway. Below we offer a selection of his works, many available on audio Book CD, in honor of his career. His 2016 release, The ancient minstrel : novellas, can be found on the New Book Shelf.

An epic Western saga about a woman and the three sons of a Montana rancher who love her, told against the backdrop of World War I.

Legends of the fall by Jim Harrison

In a world where supermen rule comics, video games, and film, we offer a list of graphic novels created by women that range from dark to whimsical and otherworldly to all too similar to everyday life.

Exquisite corpse by Pénélope Bagieu

Zoe looks for escape from her mediocre existence in the arms of a shut-in harboring a big secret.

A collection of observations and oddities in stunning color.

Also available in: audiobook | e-audiobook

Stories of dislocation and family fracture, of whimsical infidelities and sudden deaths with sinister causes, brilliantly unsettle the reader in that unmistakably Mantel way.

Also available in: audiobook

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie seeks out answers when her best friend and next-door neighbor Evie Verver goes missing after the two girls saw a dark car driving past earlier in the day, and throughout her efforts, Lizzie begins to question how well she knew Evie.

One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Also available in: audiobook | e-audiobook

The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the Buendia family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America. Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility -- the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth -- these universal themes dominate the novel. 

 

Explore this selection of books either about Michigan or written by authors with ties to Michigan. Grade levels are suggested, but remember that each Reader is different and might find something interesting at another level. Under each grade is a link for even more titles.

Kindergarten

ABC Michigan by Anne Margaret Lewis

While traveling through Michigan, this book introduces young readers to the shapes and sounds of the letters of the alphabet in a fun jaunt through the mitten state.

Canton Seniors Book Group will meet on Thursday, June 23 from 2:00PM-3:00PM in Canton Public Library's Group Study Room A. We will be discussing SHELTER by Frances Greenslade.  Request a copy from the librarian at the Information Desk.

Shelter : a novel by Frances Greenslade

For sisters Maggie and Jenny, growing up in the Pacific mountains in the early 1970s is nearly perfect until their father dies in a logging accident and their mother drops them off at a neighbors, never to return.

The Canton Seniors Book Group will meet on Thursday, February 25 from 2:00PM-3:00PM in Canton Public Library's Group Study Room A.  We are discussing Chris Bohjalian's BEFORE YOU KNOW KINDNESS.  Participants can request a copy at the Information Desk.

Also available in: e-book | audiobook | large print

For ten summers, the extended Seton family met at their country home in New Hampshire, but during the eleventh summer everything changed.

 

Sometimes we just want to read about what's familiar or what's possible. Here are some suggestions for books that feature a high level of realism. You probably won't find many dragons or wizards or outer space adventures here. Books are suggested for Sixth Grade, but remember that each Reader is different, and might find something interesting at another level.

After ever after by Jordan Sonnenblick

Although Jeff and Tad, encouraged by a new friend, Lindsey, make a deal to help one another overcome aftereffects of their cancer treatments in preparation for eighth-grade graduation, Jeff still craves advice from his older brother Stephen, who is studying drums in Africa.

Can you say catastrophe? by Laurie B. Friedman

April Sinclair's teenage years kick off with a humiliating 13th birthday party, two kisses from two different boys (and some uncertainty as to who she likes more), and an unexpected change in plans when her parents cancel sending her to camp in lieu of a family RV trip. Is there any silver lining to her summer?  More in this series can be found in JFICTION FRIEDMAN.

 

Sometimes we just want to read about what's familiar or what's possible. Here are some suggestions for books that feature a high level of realism. You won't find many dragons or wizards or outer space adventures here, but you will find stories about things that really could happen. Books are suggested for Fifth Grade, but remember that each Reader is different, and might find something interesting at another level.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Also available in: e-book | audiobook | e-audiobook

Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni describes her first summer in the town of Naomi, Florida, and all the good things that happen to her because of her big ugly dog Winn-Dixie. This Newbery Honor Winner was also made into a movie in 2005.

Everything on a waffle by Polly Horvath
Also available in: e-book | audiobook

Eleven-year-old Primrose, living in a small fishing village in British Columbia, recounts her experiences and all that she learns about human nature and the unpredictability of life in the months after her parents are lost at sea.

 

Sometimes we just want to read about what's familiar or what's possible. Here are some suggestions for books that feature a high level of realism. You won't find many dragons or wizards or outer space adventures here, but you will find stories about things that really could happen. Books are suggested for Fourth Grade, but remember that each Reader is different, and might find something interesting at another level.

Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry
Also available in: e-book | audiobook

Anastasia's 10th year has some good things like falling in love and really getting to know her grandmother and some bad things like finding out about an impending baby brother.

Another day as Emily by Eileen Spinelli

Susie is jealous when her brother is deemed a town hero, so she finds solace in the poetry and reclusive lifestyle of Emily Dickinson. To learn more about Emily Dickinson herself, check in JBIO DICKINSON.

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