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Sheila's Picks

Book Cover for Monsters of Templeton Groff, Lauren
Monsters of Templeton

Willie Upton returns to her hometown in utter disgrace and is left with the choice to either sputter and fail, or to allow the town's essence and its mysteries to get her back on her feet. The day she returns to Templeton, a huge water monster is found floating dead in the lake. While an investigation into the beast's origin is carried out, Willie begins to investigate her own family history in an attempt to find her real father -- there are skeletons galore in these closets. Groff deftly weaves Willie's present day dilemma with rich and intriguing characters from the past. Ghosts, secrets, and eccentrics abound in both the past and present, making this well-written novel one to put on your "Read It Soon" list.
Recommended June 2008

Book Cover for Gods Behaving Badly Phillips, Marie
Gods Behaving Badly

Oh, what fun! This original romp takes place in modern day London where the entire pantheon of Greek gods are alive and well....and bored. They are all finding it a bit difficult to cope in a world where no one believes in them and where they are reduced to taking on everyday jobs: Aphrodite is a phone sex worker, Artemis is a dog-walker, and Dionysus owns a sleazy night club. There seems to be no excitement or pleasure left in life, so they create their own by tricking and tormenting one another. Unfortunately, the gods' housekeeper and her friend become caught in the crossfire of these lightning-wielding egomaniacs. Can these mere mortals save each other and ultimately save the world? I give two thumbs up for this entertaining and clever look at the gods and their humans.
Recommended May 2008

Book Cover for Out Stealing Horses Petterson, Per
Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses is a wisp of a novel narrated by sixty-seven-year-old Trond who has recently decided to live a reclusive life. His thoughts very often return to the seminal summer of his fifteenth year when his relationship with his father and his friendships form the centerpiece of his life to come. The story is poignant and powerful, but Petterson does not allow this novel to feel sorry for itself. While the writing is simple and functional, its staggering beauty draws you so convincingly into Trond's world that you clearly experience events through his senses. This two hundred and fifty page book could easily have been much longer, but Petterson's expertise and profound talent pares down the tale to its essentials without insulting the reader by spoon-feeding each twist and turn and inviting us to capitalize on our own imaginations. This would be a great pick for book groups because the threads of discussion and interpretation are endless. Was I left wanting more? Absolutely! But I savored every minute of this gorgeously-told gem and have not stopped thinking about it since I closed the last page.
Recommended April 2008