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The air you breathe book cover
The air you breathe book cover

The air you breathe

Frances de Pontes Peebles

FICTION Peebles Frances
Fiction, Historical Fiction

An orphan, Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when she meets Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron. Born to wildly different worlds, the girls quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music. One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become the only way out of the life to which each was born... but only one is destined to be a star. -- adapted from jacket.

"When Sofia Salvador finished a show, applause wasn't an obligation, but a release. Without even realizing it, you'd held your breath and tensed your body while she sang, as if you were afraid that even the smallest movement would startle her away. But as soon as she bowed and thanked you, every emotion she'd dredged up inside you was suddenly clamoring to be let loose. How could you not clap, howl, whistle, and call for one more? One more! Please, just one more? And of course, Sofia Salvador always relented."

If you are in the mood for something lyrical that provides a great sense of place with a focus on character development and friendship, look no further than Frances de Pontes Peebles' The Air You Breathe. Set in Brazil, this is a story of two women, Dores and Graca, who are from very different backgrounds (yet from the same plantation) who love samba. They run away to Lapa and develop an act, but it quickly becomes apparent that it is Graca (as the stage name Sofia Salvador) that everyone wants to hear. The story is told from Dores' point of view as she struggles with being forced in the shadow of Graca's fame, while trying to find her own voice. I alternated between the print and the audiobook. Rebecca Mozo's reading of the book is fantastic. -Anne M

Storm front book cover
Storm front book cover

Storm front

Jim Butcher

eAUDIO
Fantasy

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. I'm a wizard. I work out of an office in midtown Chicago. As far as I know, I'm the only openly practicing professional wizard in the country. You can find me in the yellow pages, under Wizards. Believe it or not, I'm the only one there.

With rent past due and a decent meal becoming an issue of some importance, Harry needs work, and soon. A call from a distraught wife, and another from Lt. Murphy of the Chicago PD Special Investigation Unit makes Harry believe things are looking up, but they are about to get worse, much worse. Someone is harnessing immense supernatural forces to commit a series of grisly murders. Someone has violated the first law of magic: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Tracking that someone takes Harry into the dangerous underbelly of Chicago, from mobsters to vampires, while he himself is under suspicion of the crimes. One thing is certain, if he can't stop whoever is on this killing spree, Harry will be the next victim.

Written by New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher.

Narrated by James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files audiobooks are contemporary classics when it comes to hugely influential works in the Urban Fantasy genre. Every D&D gamer I know who has read this series sings its praises. I love the audiobooks because James Marsters performs them (you may remember him as Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). He's so so so so good. I'm completely in love with his narration and dramatic interpretation of these books. A lot of people say to start with the 3rd book in this series (Grave Peril), but I enjoy them all. Ensemble cast of characters (my favorite setup) includes vampires, werewolves, gunslingers, fairies, and of course demons! You can count on the monster encounters in this series to be epic. -Melody

Alone time : four seasons, four cities, and the pleasures of solitude book cover
Alone time : four seasons, four cities, and the pleasures of solitude book cover

Alone time : four seasons, four cities, and the pleasures of solitude

Stephanie Rosenbloom

910.4 /Rosenbloom
Nonfiction, Travel

"A wise, passionate account of the pleasures of travelling solo. In our increasingly frantic daily lives, many people are genuinely fearful of the prospect of solitude, but time alone can be both rich and restorative, especially when travelling. Through on-the-ground reporting and recounting the experiences of artists, writers, and innovators who cherished solitude, Stephanie Rosenbloom considers how being alone as a traveller--and even in one's own city--is conducive to becoming acutely aware of the sensual details of the world--patterns, textures, colors, tastes, sounds--in ways that are difficult to do in the company of others."--

Stephanie Rosenbloom writes a travel column for the New York Times, and has a breezy, friendly voice. Don't let that fool you, though--she's a thinker. Here she recounts her travels through four different cities, reflecting upon what makes solo travel unique: How does one travel differently when they are alone? How do they experience things? What are the unforeseen benefits? How does travelling alone change somebody? In addition to her own experiences, she references a lot of very current research that relates to the topic. A very interesting and enjoyable book, whether or not you are hitting the road. -Candice

The English cathedral book cover
The English cathedral book cover

The English cathedral

Peter Marlow

726.60942 /Marlow
Nonfiction

Among the most magnificent buildings of England are its Anglican cathedrals, great symbols of spiritual and architectural power. There are few experiences more uplifting and humbling than standing in the nave of a cathedral, and no one can fail to marvel at Durham's incomparable Romanesque masterpiece, the elegant stylistic unity of Salisbury, the world-famous stained glass of Canterbury or the striking Gothic scissor arch at Wells.

We have some great English cathedral books (see also my list on the topic), but this new book is unique. The photographer (Peter Marlow) took the pictures from the same vantage point in each of the 42 cathedrals so you get a comparative sense of their size, art, and architecture. My favorite naves: Bristol, Canterbury (soaring arches!), Ely, Lichfield, Liverpool, Wells, Winchester. I really liked the other 35 too. -Heidi L

Black Panther book cover
Black Panther book cover

Black Panther

DVD MOVIE SF/HORROR Black
Action, Science Fiction

King T'Challa returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as new leader. However, T'Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from divisions within his own country. When two enemies conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must join forces with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Wakandan Special Forces, to prevent Wakanda from being drawn into a world war.

I finally saw the most buzzed about movie of 2018 and it completely lived up to the hype. The visuals were stunning and the main characters were interesting and well-rounded. T'Challa is a nuanced hero whose greatest strength lies in his moral character rather than his physical superpowers. I love that his greatest supporters were all very different women. Shuri is always the mischievous sister even as she showcases her serious smarts as Wakanda's lead scientist. Nakia struggles to balance her love for T'Challa with her desire to independently aid the outside world. Okoye is an incredibly strong warrior/general who is absolutely loyal to Wakanda and its people. -Morgan

Swimming lessons book cover
Swimming lessons book cover

Swimming lessons

Claire Fuller

FICTION Fuller Claire
Fiction

Disenchanted by the life in which she’s found herself, Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their passionate and troubled marriage. She hides them, unread, in the thousands of books Gil has collected over the years. Then she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two young daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and his unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed Ingrid drowned, returns home to care for her father and investigate her mother’s disappearance. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a turbulent marriage and the dangerous fault lines that remain.

The way the story in this epistolary novel unfolds is extraordinary. Each letter is a revelation into the marriage of Ingrid and Gil, yet each letter also seems to muddy the waters as well. As some things clear up, others become more obscure. -Anne M

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