Blog Posts by Pam I am

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Pam I Am lives in Arlington Heights with her husband, two children, and golden retriever. On any given day she can be found juggling work, dirty laundry, reading literature, or devouring a People magazine.


by Dave Eggers

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If you are looking for a book that is "un-put-downable, Dave Eggers' The Circle is it! This is the kind of book that you feel compelled to discuss with people--it would be great for a book discussion with its exploration of themes such as privacy and democracy. 
Mae Holland is hired to work for a powerful tech company called "the Circle".  Imagine if Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo all merged and became one huge internet company . . . . that's The Circle.  As Mae joins the company she is excited and impressed by all the Circle offers like high-tech modern facilities, employee dorms, thematic parties, and even health insurance for her ailing father. It seems to be a utopian workplace.  But soon, Mae becomes entrenched in the Circle culture and the launch of new inventions like SeeChange cameras that can be planted anywhere to see what people are doing.  Mae also agrees to wear a camera around her neck that provides a live feed of all that she is doing every minute of every day.  Political leaders are encouraged to wear these cameras and become transparent as well.
As the novel progresses, the reader is confronted with the idea that all this technological progress doesn't align with personal freedom and privacy.  One of the Circle's taglines is " Privacy is Theft."   But, what if nothing was private anymore?  Is complete transparency the answer?  Can technological progress be a bad thing? 
Tags:  Fiction
by various

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My list of "Top 5 Books" represents my varied taste in fiction.  All of these books kept me hooked from cover to cover for different reasons.
#5:  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
This book could be classified as a love story, but it is actually so much more.  There is a depth to the characters and Jojo Moyes addresses deep issues.  This book had me laughing and crying.
#4:  And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
I anticipated the release of  And The Mountains Echoed  after loving Hosseini's previous novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.  Once again, Hosseini transports the reader to Afghanistan through decades of conflict.  But, deeper stories of family, betrayal and love are woven into a multi-generational tale.
#3:  Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Alice Howland is diagnosed with early-onset alzheimer's disease at age 50.  Still Alice ingeniously details her descent into her disease told from Alice's point of view. 
#2:  Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
The lives of two teenagers, both named Will Grayson, intersect through random coincidence.  This book is told from alternating "Will Grayson" points of view.  Ultimately a story of love and friendship with tons of humor mixed in.
#1:  Where'd You go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Hysterically funny, but also insightful and moving.  This book made me want to be friends with Bernadette.
by Lorna Landvik

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As the holiday season is upon us and the hustle and bustle of life ramps up, I decided I wanted something light and heartwarming to read.  I love a good literary challenge, but what I really needed was a book that would let me escape the chaos.  Lorna Landvik's Welcome to the Great Mysterious is the perfect book to curl up with and relax.
Geneva Jordan is a middle-aged self-centered Broadway star who has just been dumped by her boyfriend and is fast approaching menopause.  Just then Geneva's twin sister Anne asks Geneva to come stay and babysit her teenage son while Anne and her husband take a much-needed vacation.  Geneva grudgingly agrees and heads to Minnesota to babysit her 13 year old nephew, Rich, who has Down Syndrome.  Rich and Geneva forge a relationship and learn about life and love together.  Together they find an old scrapbook from Anne and Geneva's childhood, titled The Great MysteriousThe Great Mysterious scrapbook contains questions and answers from Anne and Geneva's teen years and explores the great mysteries of life such as finding true love, facing your fears, and the bond of family.
by Marian Keyes

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Rachel's Holiday was recommended to me by a colleague as a "must read" in the chick lit genre. I am so glad I took her advice. Rachel's Holiday definitely touches on many elements of a great chick lit book:  dysfunction of families, maintaining friendships, finding love, and redemption. Marian Keyes captures the reader with her witty writing style and humor, but this book is not all fluff. This book confronts serious issues such as addiction and recovery.
Rachel Walsh is from an Irish family of five sisters, and she is living and working as a single girl in New York City. Rachel is living the dream until she is fired from her job and her boyfriend dumps her because of her addiction to drugs. She is sent by her family to a rehab facility in Ireland, but she is in serious denial of her problem. She is absolutely sure that her visit to rehab will be a "holiday" complete with movie stars, great food, and spa treatments. But, Rachel soon learns she must confront her addiction and embrace her new lease on life. Even though there are dark moments for Rachel the story unfolds with humor and there were many moments that I found myself laughing out loud.
This book is part of a series about the Walsh Family sisters:  Watermelon is about Clare, Anybody Out There is about Anna, Angels is about Margaret, and Mystery of Mercy Close is about Helen.  I will definitely be reading more about the Walsh sisters.
by Sarah Pekkanen

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Who wouldn't want an all-expenses-paid vacation at a luxury villa in Jamaica with old friends? In Sarah Pekkanen's fourth novel, The Best of Us, four college friends reunite in Jamaica to celebrate one of their 35th birthdays. But things are not as blissful as they seem. Each of the friends brings their own "baggage" to the island--a stressed out mother, a faltering marriage, and uncertain health. As a hurricane approaches Jamaica, the friendships turn turbulent as well. As the novel progresses, they each must resolve their own issues.
If you are a fan of Jennifer Weiner or Emily Giffin, this is a great book to read and explore women's fiction.
by Sophie Kinsella

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The best way to review Sophie Kinsella's newest book, Wedding Night, is to start with an analogy.  Sophie Kinsella is to "chick literature" as Jennifer Anniston is to "Romantic Comedy Films".   And, this latest book is the equivalent of a romantic comedy film where you can imagine the main character as Jennifer Aniston starring alongside Reese Witherspoon and Bradley Cooper.  If you are looking to curl up with a light-hearted, fast-paced, and funny book then this is a book I recommend.
This new book features two sisters, Lottie and Fliss.  Lottie has a history of making "unfortunate choices" following bad breakups and after she breaks up with her longtime boyfriend she reconnects with an old flame, Ben.  Within days Lottie and Ben have decided to get married right away and honeymoon in Greece.  Fliss doesn't want to see Lottie make this mistake and decides to travel to Greece to stop Lottie and Ben from consumating their marriage.  As with any Sophie Kinsella book,  the characters are flawed, but endearing.  They are silly and inept but you will laugh along with this book.  So curl up with some popcorn and indulge yourself in this romantic comedy chick-lit book!
by Maria Semple

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Where'd You Go Bernadette is an absolute riot and after I finished reading it, I was sad the book was over and I actually missed the characters. I found myself wishing that I could meet and hang out with Bernandette in real life (Am I the only strange person that feels this way when I read a good book?)
Bernadette Fox is a wife and mother living in Seattle who suffers from anxiety and agoraphobia and would be happy to never have to deal face-to-face with anyone ever again.  But, life creeps in and Bernadette has to co-exist with the overachieving moms at her daughter's school and deal with a growing feud with her neighbor.  The tension rises as Bernadette and her family plan a vacation to Antarctica and in the midst of everything Bernadette disappears.  Her daughter, Bee looks into Bernadette's emails, letters and events in an attempt to reconstruct what happened and to find her mother. 
Maria Semple's writing style is ingenious and the storey unfolds in a series of emails and  letters that lead up to Bernadette's disappearance.  I promise you will find yourself laughing out loud at this witty and satirical novel about the chaos of motherhood and life.
by Khaled Hosseini

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It has been six years since the release of Khaled Hosseini's best sellers A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) and The Kite Runner (2003) and many fans, including myself, have awaited his next novel.  Hosseini's new release, And the Mountains Echoed is a compelling story about love, loss, family and acceptance. I confess that I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. engrossed in this epic novel that spans generations and countries from Afghanistan to the United States.
The book unfolds in a way that feels like a variety of short stories with multiple characters. At times it can be a little confusing, but in the end the author weaves all the different stories together. In this clip, Khaled Hosseini talks about the many themes of the novel and his inspiration for writing the book.
This book will make you think about how a single act or event can reverberate or "echo" for generations to come. If you have read Hosseini's previous books or you are looking for a new thought-provoking novel, this is a great choice.
by Kate Morton

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If you are looking for an epic novel that spans more than fifty years, then Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper is a must read--it moves between 1941 London during the Blitz, the 1960's, and present day.  This book is part historical fiction, part mystery.  In present day, Laurel remembers a tragic family event from the 1960's and is driven to solve the meaning of this before her aging mother dies.  As she begins to examine her family's past, she uncovers secrets from war-torn London and begins to wonder who her mother really is.  Morton keeps your interest on every page with well developed characters and a rapidly moving plot.  I liked it so much, that I will definitely read Morton's other books.
by Lisa J. Edwards

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If you have ever doubted the human/animal connection and the healing power of dogs, you must read A Dog Named Boo: How One Dog and One Woman Rescued Each Other – and the Lives They Transformed Along the Way.   In this memoir, Edwards recalls how she came across an abandoned litter of puppies on Halloween and reluctantly adopted  the runt of the litter and named him Boo.  Ironically, Edwards thought she was rescuing this abandoned dog, but he turns out to rescue her from an abusive past and helps her to launch a career in dog training and animal assisted therapy.  Together, the twosome bring joy and healing to all those they work with in their therapy work. 
Animal Assisted Therapy is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAT is to improve a person’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.  In April, our library is offering Rainbow Time, a program specifically for autistic children to interact with some special therapy dogs.