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10% Happier: How I Tamed The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found Self-Help That Actually Works

Author:Dan Harris

Genre:Nonfiction

Reviewer:Joanne Abel

Call Number:158.12 HARRIS

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Year Reviewed:2015

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The title says it all! Harris is a co-anchor of Nightline and host of the weekend editors of Good Morning America. I have never laughed out loud while reading a book on mindfulness or meditation until I read this one. You will find stories about the different folks in the newsroom including Peter Jennings and Diana Sawyer, and others like Eckhart Tolle, Ted Haggard, and Deepak Chopra that Harris interviewed. This book will be of interest to seasoned meditators as well as those curious about the practice. I loved the first title he came up with for the book.

20th Century Ghosts

Author:Joe Hill

Genre:Fiction

Reviewer:Matthew Z. Wood

Call Number:F HILL, J.

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Year Reviewed:2015

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I like good horror stories, a difficult-to-locate commodity. That said, Joe Hill's short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, does not disappoint. This is the best short horror I've encountered. Smartly disturbing stories that peer inside the heads of villains, heroes, and victims alike. Horror stories are distinguished by what the author doesn't tell, and Hill knows exactly which details to leave out, let us fill them in for ourselves. Exciting, satisfying, and deeply sad in turns, these are stories of teenage monsters and old ghosts, of lives given freely and lost to obsession. Most have a good twist, but even when they simply move forward to an inevitable destination, all of these stories have the satisfying crunch of a good apple between your teeth. Good prose and better psychology are the hallmarks of Hill's writing and whether he's writing about the sad fate of one-time vampire hunter Abraham van Helsing or a teenage outcast turned B-movie monster, he always hits home.

The first story in the collection, "Best New Horror," is a true masterpiece. The story of a worn-out horror editor rediscovering his love for the genre as he searches for an author that-- by all appearances-- no one should try to find is exquisite. It even contains a story-within-the-story that grabs you just the way it grabs its protagonist, not letting you go even though you know you shouldn't turn that last corner, shouldn't look into the room at the end of the hall, and definitely shouldn't forget your car keys when you try to leave.

365 Thank Yous

Author:John Fralik

Genre:Nonfiction

Reviewer:Karlene Fyffe Phillips

Call Number:179.9 FRALIK

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Year Reviewed:2015

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Born out of a time of desperation and an act of kindness, this book serves as a powerful reminder that a simple "thank-you" can be profoundly impactful. The book begins with an account of the author's lowest day. He writes:

"On December 22, 2007, I felt my life was at an irreversible personal nadir. My law firm was losing money and losing its lease. I was going through a difficult divorce, was completely out of funds, and was living in a small, stuffy apartment where I often slept on the floor under an ancient air conditioner. My sons had grown distant from me. A horrible year was ending, with promises that things would soon be even worse."

He recalls how, on that day, he received a call from a friend who asked how he was doing. Instead of the usual positive response, the writer responded, "Not good." That honest response led to an invitation to breakfast which provided an opportunity for the writer to candidly share his predicament with a friend.

Later, during a challenging mountain-climbing experience, he heard a voice saying: "Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want." Naturally, he didn't think he had anything to be grateful for but that changed with a special piece of New Year's mail. That special letter ignited a desire to embark on his journey of writing thank-you notes; the first one was to his son who gave him a Christmas present.

I am aware that many of us engage in both verbalizing and writing thank-yous but I am recommending this book because it goes beyond simply expressing thanks. Readers will be exposed to a wide array of thank-yous, from the simple to the extreme but will also find encouragement and hope that could be life-changing.

A Canticle for Leibowitz

Author:Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Genre:Science Fiction and Fantasy

Reviewer:Patrick Holt

Call Number:F MILLER, W.

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Year Reviewed:2017

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In the distant future, an obscure and neglected order of monks is committed to promoting the canonization of beatification of Leibowitz, an ancient survivor of The Burning Deluge, as well as the preservation of scientific knowledge in the face of self-imposed ignorance outside the order. Told across several centuries with a range of perspectives and tones (it is as funny as it is harrowing), this novel is both epic and personal, as well as deeply moving on a number of levels. Though written in 1959, A Canticle for Leibowitz is uncomfortably relevant to today’s world.

A Christmas Prayer

Author:Kimberla Lawson Roby

Genre:Fiction

Reviewer:Linda Guerrier

Call Number:F ROBY, K.

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Year Reviewed:2015

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Alexis Fletcher hasn't had a great Christmas in years, not since her mother passed. In December she recalls the excitement her mother brought to everyone during the holiday season. Alexis feels the hurt of her mother not being present. Alexis and her sister are not on good terms. She wishes the family would become close again.

Alexis is planning on getting married soon. She is thinking about holidays memories with a new family of her own. Alexis's fiancé is everything she ever dreamed of. He's very caring, good looking, supportive and has a great job. Her fiancé's mother tries to interfere with the big wedding plans, but she doesn't succeed. The wedding happens without his mother's wishes. Alexis's prayer is answered.

A God in Ruins

Author:Kate Atkinson

Genre:Fiction

Reviewer:Ken McDouall

Call Number:F ATKINSON, K.

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Year Reviewed:2015

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Atkinson's follow-up to Life After Life drops the parallel possible lives structure and opts for dense, careful layering that builds up her characters slowly throughout the novel. She focuses on the brother of the first novel's protagonist, Teddy--a fairly average chap who, like so many others, had some extraordinary, shattering experiences fighting in World War II. Other family members of multiple generations are portrayed in careful detail as well. Atkinson's power lies in her ability to shift perspectives flawlessly, to alternate between different timelines, and to structure her work so that the various scenes come together from these fractured lenses into emotionally powerful wholes. The novel is a bit unwieldy and awkward at times, as if the writing was rushed. Some more editing and reflection may have been helpful here, but Atkinson's talent is still impressive. Fans of historical fiction will appreciate the details about bombing missions during the war, and anyone who delights in character development and emotional family stories will find a lot to enjoy here.

A Man Called Ove

Author:Fredrick Backman

Genre:Fiction

Reviewer:Desiree Peterson

Call Number:F Backman, F.

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Digital Service:Adobe ePub; HTML; Kindle; hoopla; Book Club Kit

Year Reviewed:2016

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Ove is a character you love, then hate, then love again. Ove's quiet life, and attempted suicide, is interrupted by the arrival of his new neighbors. This book was an emotional roller coaster with such a sweet, sweet ending that you'll want to ride again.

A Man Called Ove

Author:Fredrik Backman

Genre:Fiction

Reviewer:Shirley Adams

Call Number:F BACKMAN, F.

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Digital Service:HTML, KINDLE, ADOBE EPUB

Year Reviewed:2017

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I have a new favorite book, and you will, too, after reading A Man Called Ove! Backman slowly unwinds a story of a lonely man whose life is transformed (AKA saved) when a young, vibrant family moves in next door. Slowly, this "grumpy old man" is reluctantly pulled out of his shell and back into the world around him. In these pages, you'll find a touching and humorous story that will leave you chuckling and wiping your eyes. You're sure to recognize someone in the story, because they could be your neighbor! Be sure to read this book before you see the film. As usual in a movie, there are only so many emotions and inner thoughts that can be portrayed on the screen, and Ove's opinions and silent conversations are not to be missed! Enjoy!

A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life

Author:John Kralik

Genre:Nonfiction

Reviewer:Myrtle Darden

Call Number:179.9 KRALIK

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Year Reviewed:2015

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Most people are taught to say please and thank you but do people really send thank you notes anymore? You know the kind that you sit down and write on paper with a pen.... Well this guy (John) did; he did it for 365 days!! Why did he do it? At the beginning of the book, his business is failing, he's going through a divorce, his children almost don't claim him, and he's barely hanging on to a girlfriend. Everything begins to change when he receives a "thank you" card from his girlfriend for a Christmas gift that he bought her. See how this little and forgotten act of kindness changed John's life all for the better. Now I will admit that some of the thank you notes will make you say "Really, seriously . . . come on, John!" but keep reading because there is a message here. I hope you get it! 🙂

A Sinful Calling

Author:Kimberla Lawson Roby

Genre:Fiction

Reviewer:Anita Hasty-Speed

Call Number:F Roby, K.

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Year Reviewed:2016

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It is very hard sometimes to trust and forgive someone that has done you wrong. We want and we need evidence to prove that our enemy is acting in a trustworthy manner. Rev. Curtis Black has a history of some shady dealings. His two eldest children are now dealing with painful consequences. Their father's sins have now affected the children.