To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story - This memoir by Dr. Mary C. Neal, an orthopaedic surgeon, is a fascinating account of her spiritual journey. An outdoor enthusiaist, Dr. Neal was kayaking in southern Chile when her boat became wedged under water and she drowned. She describes this event as one of the greatest gifts she was ever given. Mary describes her experience of death and then the immediate soul experience of being greeted by human spirits sent by God to guide her on her journey. The vivid recollections are fascinating and uplifting as she shares how God has used her experiences in the subsequent years. This extremely gifted and educated scientist and mother answers many questions that people have asked about her unique experience throughout the book and in a Q and A section at the conclusion of the book.
Catherine Ann Benson is a child forced to move from California and an exclusive lifestyle to a small town in Texas after her parents are killed. She moves in with her grandmother and is befriended by two boys in a similar circumstance–both have been abandoned by their parents. The three forge a bond of friendship that lasts throughout their school years. The boys are football stars, revered in their small Texas town, and Catherine is planning to attend medical school. Tragedies occur that change their futures and send them all on separate paths. Over the next twenty years, their lives change and all follow their own course, but all have secrets that they carry. One of the three returns to their small town after 20 years away, determined to reveal the secrets that caused the divisions between them. Filled with themes of friendship, betrayal, loss and forgiveness, Tumbleweeds is a saga with twists, turns and drama that will keep the reader captivated. Roses is the previous novel by Leila Mecham that also takes place in Texas.
After war and plague destroyed New York city, most of civilization has migrated underground. Lives are short and when Deuce turns 15, she takes on the role of huntress to provide food and protection for the group. She is paired with Fade, a teenager who lived topside as a young boy, but he is not trusted by the elders who rule the clan. On a hunting mission, Deuce and Fade discover that a neighboring clan has been brutally destroyed by the tunnel monsters–or Freaks. When they try to warn the elders, they are exiled from the clan. Fade leads the way to topside and Deuce, born in darkness, must learn to survive in sunshine–in the ruins of a city populated by dangerous gangs. Guided by Fade’s memories as a child, they face dangers unlike any they have ever known. Enclave is a tense, action-packed dystopian story, much more thriller than romance, though Aguirre teases at a future love triangle. This is the first book in projected series, and will appeal to fans of the “Hunger Games.”
Olive Corbett is definitely not crazy. Not anymore. Olive, coming off a failed suicide attempt, takes her meds, hangs out with her best friend, Ami, and avoids the girls who were her friends before the “incident.” Olive notices that the new girl at school, Miranda, has latched onto popular Katie, Olive’s ex-best friend. Olive can see that there is something almost parasitic about the relationship as Miranda starts to adopt Katie’s personality and even begins to dress and look like Katie. Disturbed, Olive types the things she first noticed about Miranda into Google: weird skin, alien, and mirror eyes. Possible explanation: a shape-shifter and Katie is her host! Maybe the wild rumors about Miranda are true. Maybe Miranda is a killer–but who would believe Olive? Shift is a sinister young adult thriller that tears through the themes of identity loss and toxic friendship.
This exquisetly written first novel by Vaddey Ratner is the story of the tragic results of the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970′s, as seen through the eyes of 7 year old Raami. Raami’s father is a part of the royal family and is a poet, who has instilled in Raami a love of stories. Her father returns home one day bringing news of rebellion and chaos in the city. Soon, rebels force Raami and her family–her parents, sister, aunt, uncle, cousins and grandmother–to leave their home. They are taken into the countryside and into forced labor as the Khmer Rouge attempt to eliminate all class and personal identities from the citizens of Cambodia. As her childhood is stripped from her, Raami must learn to live with violence and death–her memories of the stories and poems of her father are the only remainders of her former life, and her courage and strength are what allow her to survive. This compelling, touching and beautifully written story is one that imparts both the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and the loving memories and stories that Raami treasures of her father and her family.
In the Shadow of the Banyan is based on the author’s own experiences as a 5 year old child in Cambodia during this revolution. Her story is also one of amazing resilience–after surviving 4 years of forced labor and starvation, she and her mother (all that remained of her family) came to the U.S. in 1981 as refugees with no English language skills. In 1990 she graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and graduated with highest honors from Cornell University. Her ability to convey her experiences in the form of a novel is exceptional and moving and, with over 2 million Cambodians killed during this revolution, she tells a story that is important for the world to remember.
It’s November and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is here again. If you’ve never heard of National Novel Writing Month, the goal of participants in NaNoWriMo is to put out a 50,000 word novel (about 175 pages) over the course of the month of November. If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel but have never found the time to do it, this could be the month. The emphasis isn’t on having a completely polished book by the end of the month; it’s simply to have written 50,000 words. This can mean a complete novel that needs editing and revising, or 50,000 words towards the completion of a longer novel. Broken down to a more manageable number, this sets a goal of writing around 1,667 words per day. This obviously isn’t for everyone, but for some people, having an explicit deadline can be very helpful.
NaNoWriMo is great for helping people complete their goal of writing a novel because there are so many participants. There is an online community of writers, active at http://www.nanowrimo.org/ and on Twitter and Facebook, who are going through the same worries, stress, and time crunch and who are ready and willing to offer encouragement, advice, and ideas. There are so many people participating in NaNoWriMo nationwide that many towns and cities have local participant meet-ups. Manhattan has a group on the NaNoWriMo website with over 300 registered participants.
The first NaNoWriMo took place in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay area with a group of 20 participants. The next year it grew to 140 participants, and when bloggers started spreading the word and local and national news outlets started covering the event, it really took off. Last year 256,618 people from around the world signed up to participate on the website and 36,843 completed their goals.
There are some hugely successful books that were written during NaNoWriMo. A few examples are Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and Wool by Hugh Howey. In October, Kansas author Gennifer Albin’s first novel, Crewel, written when she participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010, was published by Farrar Strauss Girous and is receiving excellent reviews. Her book is the story of Adelice, a young girl who lives in a world where women known as Spinsters weave the fabric of people’s lives.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, there are a number of ways Manhattan Public Library can help you. If you need a place to work, don’t forget about the library! We’ve got computers for you to work on, and quiet spaces, outlets, and wireless internet for people who bring in their own laptops. Sometimes getting out of your house or apartment and working in a different space can help you be more productive. On second thought perhaps you would get more written if you don’t connect to our wi-fi!
If you’re experiencing a bit of writer’s block, try flipping through some of our creative writing books for exercises to get your creative juices flowing. Check out a movie or a CD to take a break, recharge and relax before you go back to writing. Look through some of our beautiful art, nature, and photography books to spark ideas. And if you need a fact for your book, stop by the reference desk and we’ll help you find information on everything from the cost of twine in 1890 America for your Western adventure to finding the perfect cookie recipe for your culinary mystery.
To learn more about National Novel Writing Month and to sign up to participate, go to http://www.nanowrimo.org
If you are looking for a great legal thriller try Randy Singer’s books. I found that The Last Plea Bargain rivaled any John Grisham book for intriguing plot and interesting characters. High profile courtroom drama is just a part of the excitement of this book. Written by a veteran trial attorney, who is also a part time pastor, Singer brings elements of faith into the story but is not preachy. Jamie Brock has never recovered from the heartache of losing her mother to a murderer 12 years ago. She is waiting anxiously for Antoine Marshall to pay the penalty for this heinous crime. As an assistant DA, Jamie is also deeply involved in prosecuting a powerful attorney whom she believes murdered his wife. As this jailed attorney is waiting for bail many of the other jailed criminals are sabotaging the legal system by not accepting plea bargains and the legal system is becoming overwhelmed with criminals. Who is behind this and why? The Last Plea Bargain won’t disappoint.
When I first began reading The Light Between Oceans, I wondered how 345 pages could be written about two people on a very small island off the coast of Australia. I have to say, as the story progressed, I found it very captivating. When Isabel hears a baby’s cry after the loss of her third baby, she thinks she must be going crazy. When Tom investigates, he finds a small craft washed ashore carrying a dead man and a baby. When one lie leads to another, Isabel and Tom find themselves devastated from the results of their deception.