Fiction Reviews

THE TIGER’S WIFE by Tea Obreht

Yes, this s a novel about a woman doctor in war-torn Yugoslavia, but don’t let the description deter you. Not in a long time have I read such a lyrical novel. You’ll find yourself repeatedly believing the impossible can and must happen. In the midst of death, life goes on. Recommended by Kelly.
The Tiger's Wife Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385343848
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Published: Random House Trade - November 1st, 2011


NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Wall Street Journal - O: The Oprah Magazine - The Economist - Vogue - Slate - Chicago Tribune - The Seattle Times - Dayton Daily News - Publishers Weekly - Alan Cheuse, NPR's All Things Considered

A PLACE IN TIME by Wendell Berry

Another in a wondrous series of tales about ordinary people in a rural Kentucky community. These are, at turns, funny, moving and reassuring. Berry’s language is right on and his heart is true. A great gift! Recommended by Kelly
A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619020498
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Published: Counterpoint LLC - October 23rd, 2012

The story of the community of Port William is one of the great works in American literature. This collection, the tenth volume in the series, is the perfect occasion to celebrate Berry's huge achievement.


I loved THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC, by Julie Otsuka, because it brings the reader into a historical moment in a beautifully tragic way. Otsuka writes in one unified voice for a large group of women, leaving the reader torn in multiple directions, yet captivated by their collective experience. Though it is a fast read, its sentences are full of depth that you can linger in. Just a heads-up, though you can fly through it, the subject matter is heavy (but well worth it). Recommended by Caitlin.
The Buddha in the Attic (Pen/Faulkner Award - Fiction) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780307744425
Availability: Backordered
Published: Anchor Books - March 20th, 2012

Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction
National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book


Atchison, Kansas — November 1916. Iris, age 6, is under her mother’s coffin, surrounded by the drapes that hang down the side. She is glad that her Mom is no longer coughing so hard it hurt her. Iris’ Dad yells for her, and when she comes out, he pulls her up and tells her to be polite to the visitors. That’s his only communication with her. Fast-forward ten years, and Iris’ Dad has arranged for her to go work at another home, taking care of a country doctor’s elderly mother. He is going to set up another shoe store in Kansas City with his newest girlfriend, and there’s no room for Iris in the city. The rest of the story lets us know how new people, nurturing people, can have a profound impact on us, can inspire us to help others who may be in a worse situation, and help us realize our own value. The author, Barbara Stuber, is a finalist in the William C. Morris Debut Award of the American Library Association. She spoke about her book recently to Kansas Librarians, and though it is classified as “young adult” novel, grown people in their 80’s were relating to the tale. I highly recommend this book for a joint read by parents and youth, with a good discussion to follow. Recommended by Julie.
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ISBN: 9781416997047
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Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - May 24th, 2011

At fifteen, Iris is a hobo of sorts--no home, no family, no plan. Her mother died when she was six, and her father focuses on his new girlfriend and his shoe business and has no time for his daughter. Without consulting her, he hires Iris out as a companion to a country doctor's elderly mother.


The latest novel from Stuart O’Nan is yet another deeply satisfying examination of a strained relationship. Protagonists Art and Marion schedule a second honeymoon on their 30th anniversary, which may very well be their last weekend together. They’re gambling their life-savings and their marriage on this opportunity on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Extreme discomfort and poignancy abound. Recommended by Kelly.
The Odds Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143122272
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Published: Penguin Books - September 25th, 2012

In the new novel from the author of Last Night at the Lobster, a middle-age couple goes all in for love at a Niagara Falls casino

Lokk out for City of Secrets coming from Viking on April 26, 2016

EMILY ALONE by Stuart O’Nan

The sequel to, WISH YOU WERE HERE, Stuart O’Nan’s critically acclaimed novel about a socially disastrous family vacation at a lake cabin, EMILY ALONE is a beautiful and meticulous portrait of the daily life of an older woman in Pittsburgh, PA. Rather than give in to fear when life changes force her to resume driving and take on additional responsibilities, she rises to the occasion.
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ISBN: 9780143120490
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Published: Penguin Books - December 27th, 2011

A bittersweet tale of love and longing from the bestselling author of Last Night at the Lobster.

O'Nan's newest novel, City of Secrets, is now available from Viking.

GARDEN OF READING by Michele Slung

One of the delights of working at the Raven is doing reviews. This collection of short fiction is about gardens and gardeners and includes some of my favorite authors: Garrison Keillor, James Thurber, Eudora Welty and Doris Lessing, among others. You’ll find humor, astute observation, and passion about flora and settings from those folks who have made gardening a love for many of us, as well as stories like the “Lawnmower Man “, one of Stephen King’s scary short stories. A great read for this in-between time of gardening. Recommended by Julie.
Garden of Reading: Contemporary Short Fiction about Gardeners and Gardening Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590207277
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Published: Overlook Press - January 31st, 2012

Whether you've nurtured a solitary houseplant on a windowsill, acres of glorious blooming flowerbeds, or simply a bright gleam of imagination, The Garden of Reading will remind you of the magic and wonder of the world around us.

THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty (Publication date June 2012)

The latest from Lawrence resident and best-selling novelist Laura Moriarty, THE CHAPERONE, takes readers into the diverse worlds of two women on the cusp of finding their authentic selves. One is 15-year-old, soon-to-be stage and silent film star, Louise Brooks, who is making her first trip to New York. The other is Cora, her proper, well-bred Kansas chaperone. The clash of lives and press of secrets throughout creates a truly compelling read. The best of Moriarty’s novels yet! Recommended by Kelly.
The Chaperone Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594631436
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Published: Riverhead Books - June 4th, 2013

Soon to be a feature film from the creators of Downton Abbey starring Elizabeth McGovern, The Chaperone is a New York Times-bestselling novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in the 1920s and the summer that would change them both.

PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie

Experiencing the timeless characters of PETER PAN in their original format brings the fantasy of Neverland to life not only for children, but for anyone who loves adventures. Giving the reader so much more than the Disney version, J.M. Barrie created an epic narrative that continuously brings the fairies, pirates, and thimbles of our dreams to life. Recommended by Caitlin.
Classic Starts(r) Peter Pan Cover Image
By James Matthew Barrie, Tania Zamorsky (Abridged by), Dan Andreasen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781402754210
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Published: Sterling - March 1st, 2009

"All children grow up. All except one." That special child is Peter Pan, and since making his debut on the stage in 1904, this eternal youth has carried boys and girls off to magical, marvelous Neverland. It's a trip that all kids want to make, and with this easy-to-read version of the classic, everyone can fly "second to the right, and straight on till morning" with Peter.

THE LOTUS EATERS by Tatjana Soli

Every now and then I read a novel that sticks with me long after I’ve finished the last page. This is one of those books. The author’s richly described settings of Vietnam, both the countryside and the cities and villages, make you feel you are there. She writes like a painter, making the various shades of greens of the forests and mountains, the flat browns of the rice paddies, and the hand-embroidered silks of the rich women very real for you. The landscapes and the Vietnamese people are an important part of the story, for the exotic look of the tropical country and the impoverished huts and houses capture the eye of the main protagonist, Helen Adams. She is a young American photographer who comes to Vietnam in 1965 with large ambitions to become a famous war photographer and win a Pulitzer Prize. Her quest is tangled up in the horrors of the war and the part she is playing in showing the violence, which, with each repetition, becomes less powerful. Her life also gets tangled up in the ambitions of other photographers, one of whom, Sam Darrow, becomes her lover. And then there is the quieter, observant, and careful Vietnamese translator and assistant, Lindh, on whom both Helen and Sam depend. The title refers to the chapter by Homer in THE ODYSSEY that describes an island filled with women who feed the sailors such succulent lotus that they never want to return home. Many of the people in this novel can‚t bear to leave this ravaged and beautiful place. This is a fascinating novel about the war and the country, and it’s a riveting story of a young woman’s struggle. I highly recommend it. And as an added bonus there is an excellent bibliography from the author’s research. Recommended by Pat.
The Lotus Eaters (Reading Group Gold) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312674441
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Published: Griffin - December 21st, 2010

- Winner of UK's James Tait Black Prize
- New York Times Notable Book of 2010
- American Library Association 2011 Notable Book
- Finalist LA Times Book Award
- A Kirkus Reviews Top Debut Fiction of 2010
- Bookmarks Magazine Best Literary Fiction of 2010