December

dec2016newcoverIt’s December!  Celebrate the holiday season with your loved ones and enjoy the recommended titles below.

 

 

Sue – Circulation

breakfastattiffanysBreakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Stories by Truman Capote, Fiction Capote

This collection includes “A Christmas Memory,” a beautiful short story set in the early 1930’s that tells of Truman Capote’s tender and loving relationship with Sook Faulk, a distant cousin of his. Capote spent his early childhood in Monroeville, Alabama, with four cousins – three sisters and their brother, while his parents were divorcing and fighting over custody. Sook was more than 50 years older than Capote and simple-minded. The two developed a strong relationship that greatly influenced Capote. The story tells of the last Christmas they spent together before Capote was sent off to school. It is written in an enchanting, evocative language that gives you a feel for the time and place and shows you how deeply Capote and Sook bonded and really captures their personalities. The story describes Capote and Sook’s experiences during the Christmas season, including gathering the ingredients for their annual fruitcake baking, flying kites, cutting down a Christmas tree and decorating it with homemade ornaments, exchanging homemade gifts at Christmas, and generally supporting one another against life’s injustices, as they were both considered misfits in society. It is a touching story that will leave you feeling warm and cozy. Sook is such a loving and gentle woman with an innocence and kindness that makes me wish I could have known her in real life. It is a perfect story for reading aloud each Christmas. There are two other stories Capote wrote about his life with Sook, not included in this volume, but worthy of reading: “One Christmas” and “A Thanksgiving Visitor.”

shepherdangelThe Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry, Fiction Barry

This short novel is laugh-out-loud funny in parts and also tender and nostalgic. The book is narrated by Doug Barnes, a junior high student in 1960, and it revolves around his church’s annual Christmas pageant. This year Doug is playing a shepherd. He and his buddies enjoy pulling pranks that drive the director of the play crazy. His little brother and sister are playing angels in the pageant and Judy, the girl Doug has a crush on, is playing Mary this year. This Christmas season has been somewhat melancholy for the Barnes family because their beloved dog, Frank, is elderly and is not doing well. On the night of the pageant, a series of events come together to create happy endings all around. A warm, feel-good Christmas read.

missreadchristmasMiss Read’s Christmas: Village Christmas and The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read, Fiction Read

Miss Read (the pen name of Dora Saint) wrote two charming, old-fashioned series about English country life: The Fairacre series and the Thrush Green series. These two novels are part of the Fairacre series and are published in one volume as a special Christmas edition. In Village Christmas, the conservative residents of Fairacre are not as welcoming as they could be to a new family in the village: Mrs. Emery, her husband, and their three young daughters. Mrs. Emery dresses flamboyantly and is too familiar according to the older residents of the village. But then something happens on Christmas Day that brings the village together and acceptance of the Emery family. In The Christmas Mouse, Mrs. Berry lives with her widowed daughter and two granddaughters. Late on Christmas Eve, she receives two unexpected visitors. Mrs. Berry’s actions towards these two intruders exemplify the Christmas spirit in this gentle read.

Melissa – Technical Services

mistletoepromiseThe Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans, Fiction Evans

In order to combat the loneliness and questions that come with being single during the holidays, two work associates agree to accompany each other as boyfriend and girlfriend to holiday events. They draw up a contract that details what is to be expected, and the contract ends on Christmas Day with no strings attached or hard feelings. As the two get to know each other, however, they find that not only do they enjoy each other’s company, but that this unusual agreement may have brought together two people who understand each other as no one else can.

jamestaylorchristmasJames Taylor at Christmas by James Taylor, CD 781.72 Taylor

Call me crazy, but Christmas music is lovely to listen to all year round. Christmas music inspires the warmth and generosity of the holiday season, and I see no reason to delegate such wonderful attributes to only one-twelfth of the year. That said, James Taylor’s holiday album is simple and sincere, smooth and endearing.

Chris – Technical Services

rememberRemember starring Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, New DVD Remember

Remember is a movie I will not soon forget. It stars two well know elder actors, Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, as Auschwitz survivors looking for revenge and retribution.

 

Dagmar – Circulation

skippingchristmasSkipping Christmas by John Grisham, Fiction Grisham

With the upcoming holiday season upon us, many may have mixed feelings about all the fuss that is often associated with Christmas. Especially if you are a new empty nester like Luther and Nora Krank. Their only child, 23-year-old daughter Blair, fresh from graduate school, was inspired to dedicate the next two years of her life helping others. Her assignment with the Peace Corps took her to Lima, Peru. This was the first time in her young and sheltered life she would spend Christmas away from home. This was quite hard on all of them, especially on her mother Nora. The father, trying to come up with a solution, decided to skip Christmas that dreadful year altogether. No need to shop in crowded malls for unwanted presents, no big annual party, not even a Christmas tree. The decision was made to sail on December 25th on a Caribbean cruise instead. It was a good plan, but, as the Kranks later discovered, it was not that simple to follow through. Skipping Christmas was much harder to do and had many more consequences than they had previously imagined. The story, which is now being hailed as the new modern Christmas classic, offers a “hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.”

youwantitdarkerYou Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen, New CD 781.63 Cohen

On October 17th, the New Yorker published a lengthy article, “Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker,” celebrating Leonard Cohen’s 82nd birthday and his latest album, You Want It Darker. Cohen, who is known for such iconic songs as Hallelujah, If It Be Your Will, and Suzanne, made his last recording already quite ill. As he put it, his situation was bleak and the discomfort acute. His son Adam sensed that Cohen’s “recovery, if not survival, was dependent on …getting back to work.” The new record opens with the title track, You Want It Darker, and in the chorus, the singer declares: “Hineni, Hineni, I’m ready my Lord.”
Hineni, as I later learned, is Hebrew for “Here I am,” Abraham’s answer to the summons of God to sacrifice his son Isaac. According to the New Yorker, “the song is clearly an announcement of the readiness, a man at the end preparing for his service and devotion.” Leonard Cohen died the following month in November 2016.

Chris – Circulation

doctorwhoDoctor Who, The Complete First Series starring Christopher Eccleston, DVD Dr. Who 2005- Season 1

The British television staple Doctor Who was fully revived in 2005 after being canceled in 1989 and spawning a TV movie in 1996. This time around, Christopher Eccleston portrays the Doctor (the ninth iteration of the character). He brings an intensity and brooding nature to the role, appropriate to the plot and themes of the show, along with the signature whimsicality of the Doctor. The Doctor is a time-traveling alien (who just looks like a human) that stumbles into enemy plots to change the course of history or take over the universe. Some are just out to stop his meddling. But being the last of his kind and traveling through the whole of space and time can get lonely. So he comes to Earth and chooses a worthy companion, Rose Tyler, a shop girl from London, to travel with him and reveal the wonders and perils of the universe to her. A science fiction classic, Doctor Who is made for the whole family, though it can get a bit scary for the younger viewers. The Doctor is always ready to teach a life lesson in humanitarianism, compassion, empathy, and the power of well-reasoned thought over violence. Jump aboard the TARDIS and take a trip to Victorian Cardiff, London, in 1941, the present day, the near future, and the end of the world.

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November

November2016It’s November! Be thankful for all the good in your life and enjoy the recommendations below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

biglittlelifeA Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog by Dean Koontz, Nonfiction 636.7 Koo

Novelist Dean Koontz’s tribute to his first dog, a very intelligent golden retriever named Trixie. Trixie was trained as a service dog before being adopted by Koontz and his wife after being retired early from service due to elbow surgery. Koontz was enchanted by Trixie’s joyful spirit. She opened his heart to the wonder of the world and made him a better person grateful for the small moments of life. The book details how Trixie came into the Koontz family’s life and some of their experiences together until her death due to natural causes.

Koontz is a real champion of dogs and an amazing dog parent. He has great respect for dogs’ intelligence and their emotional depth and sensitivity and no patience for people who believe dogs are stupid or don’t think or feel. Of course, no one who has ever loved a dog would for a moment believe dogs aren’t sentient or intelligent.

Koontz speaks of the characteristics of dogs that he admires and that we should strive to achieve more of in our lives, including loyalty, unfailing love, humbleness, a sense of wonder, forgiveness, and gratitude. Trixie taught him to cherish your loved ones while you have them so you’ll have precious memories when they are gone and to be aware of the wonder of everyday moments. You can feel the love Koontz has for this dog and dogs as a whole and what a remarkable dog Trixie was. A lovely tribute to Trixie and to the beautiful nature of all dogs told with life-affirming warmth and humor.

naturalvetguideThe Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs by Dr. Shawn Messonnier, Nonfiction 637.7 Mes

Dogs get cancer the same as people and often the same factors are involved, including an unhealthy diet and over-exposure to chemicals. This book is written for the layman by a vet who specializes in nutritional oncology. It discusses holistic approaches to both treating and preventing cancer in dogs. Nothing can 100% prevent cancer, but there are steps you can take to minimize your dog’s risk. Dr. Messonnier suggests such measures as: feeding a healthy diet – he recommends a homemade diet or a high quality processed food, no chemicals or by-products; don’t over-vaccinate – vaccines are important, but most vaccines last for several years at least, so annual vaccination is an unnecessary tax on your dog’s immune system. Instead, do a titer test to determine that antibodies exist in your dog’s system against the disease, then you know a vaccine is not necessary again; minimize exposure to chemicals – use natural flea control, avoid drugs if there is a natural alternative; i.e. glucosamine instead of Rimadyl or NSAIDS, use natural products to clean your house, and do not put chemicals on your lawn where your dog regularly plays; prevent other illnesses through a healthy lifestyle, as well as preventative measures such as spaying/neutering, using heartworm preventative, etc; and visit your vet regularly and include annual blood work.

For dogs diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Messonnier suggests all of the above, stressing no vaccinations and a healthy diet, combined with a program of conventional and complementary therapies. Conventional therapies include: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Complementary therapies may include: nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, acupuncture, homeopathy and homotoxicology, and chiropractic. The doctor warns that dog caregivers should not self-treat: herbal remedies can be dangerous if taken in improper quantities or combined with certain drugs. Make sure a qualified vet oversees your dog’s treatment. The book also includes appendixes, references, and an index.

ripperstreetRipper Street starring Matthew Macfadyen, New DVD Ripper, Season 1

Set shortly after the Jack the Ripper murders ended, this is a gritty, compelling series about the detectives of Whitechapel Division. DI Edmund Reid is a decent man charged with keeping peace in this poor and violent area of East London. He is assisted by his sergeant, Drake, and a drunken American surgeon, Jackson. Reid is haunted both by the death of his daughter and his failure to solve the Ripper case. The main characters are strong and they grow and develop as the series continues. The series has aired four seasons. The fifth season, which will air in 2017, will be the final season.

nightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, New Fiction Hannah

This is a beautifully told story of two sisters in occupied France during World War II. Vianne has a young daughter and fears for her husband at the front. She just wants to get through the war and get her life back. This becomes more complicated when a Wehrmacht captain requisitions her home and moves in. Meanwhile, Vianne’s younger sister Isabelle rebels against the Vichy government and secretly joins the Resistance. Both women are forced to make desperate choices to survive as the war goes on; both are heroic in their own way. The book is very moving, showing the sacrifices people made for the war effort and for each other in a terrible time in history.

Jette – Shelving

envyEnvy by Sandra Brown, Fiction Brown

Wow – what a thriller with all the twists and turns of a great suspense novel! It’s a love story, yet a revenge story and a book within a book! It will keep you wanting to go on whether you have the time or not…a must read. The book is strictly for adults, not for religious people or people under age 21, due to its language and scintillating innuendos. Brown outdoes James Patterson here.

Hubbell – Circulation

piratehuntersPirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson, Nonfiction 910.9163 or New CD 910.9163 (audiobook)

John Chatterton is a renowned deep sea diver, wreck explorer, and History Channel TV host known for famously discovering and identifying a sunken German U-boat on the eastern American seaboard. John Mattera is a scuba enthusiast, former celebrity bodyguard, and an experienced deep sea wreck explorer himself. Together, they set out to track and find perhaps the most legendary pirate wreck in history. Joseph Bannister was a British merchant captain who went renegade during the so-called Golden Age of Piracy in the colonial Caribbean. He managed to escape a death sentence in then-British Jamaica before finally being killed when his ship, The Golden Fleece, was finally found and bombarded by English frigates. Kurson’s engaging book blends history with the thrill of treasure hunting and tells the story of Chatterton and Mattera’s epic journey to finally find the wreck. In addition to Mother Nature, the crew had to work against government interference from the Dominican Republic, competitor dive groups, island drug runners, and malfunctioning equipment.

Dagmar – Circulation

houseinpragueThe House in Prague: How a Stolen House Helped an Immigrant Girl Find Her Way Home by Anna Nessy Perlberg, Nonfiction 940.53 Per

This is a delightful memoir of Anna Nessy Perlberg, a long-time Chicago resident and widow of the late poet Mark Perlberg. In her book, Anna remembers the cherished house and the family it sheltered; she also explores the true meaning of home. We meet Anna’s mother, the fabulous opera singer Julia Nessy, her prominent lawyer father Pavel Beacher, as well as a loving circle of extended family and friends. In part One, “The Early Years: 1930 – 1945,” we learn stories about the family holidays, special visitors, and country summers, but also about the confusion and fear, about the Nazi invasion of Prague, about the consequent family escape and their voyage to America. The family is starting a new life in New York and a 10-year-old homesick Anna is trying to find her way in the new country. She struggles to become an American in a city “teaming with immigrants and prejudice.”

In Part Two, “Remembrance and Return: 1945 – 2012,” post-war life brings stories of the family reunion when a few family members who survived the Holocaust were able to join them in the USA. There is also love and marriage. During her graduate work at Columbia, Anna meets a fellow student Mark Perlberg who falls in love with her passion for politics and her “foreignness.” Even the rough dark bread sandwiches that Anna brings from home are so different that his family’s soft white bread. Soon afterwards Mark and Anna marry, and she follows him, first to Tokyo and later, in 1956 to Chicago, where Mark is working for Time magazine, covering business and the arts. In Chicago, their two daughters are born and the Pelbergs lead a full family life, rich with friends, journalism, poetry, and politics. Mark helps to establish The Poetry Center of Chicago and serves at its first president. The story, however, ends where it began – in the house. Anna saw the house where she was born after nearly forty years. She went to see it again for the first time during the Communist regime and was not allowed into the house. After the Velvet Revolution, when things in Czechoslovakia changed so rapidly, Anna and her brothers decide to sue for the return of their family home. After a long legal battle, full of “restitution issues,” the house once again belonged to the Baecher family. But now what? Restoring and keeping the house in Prague would be very expensive; Mark gets sick, eventually passing in 2008. In 2012, Anna made the last return to Prague and to the house. Once again, it is necessary to say goodbye to the house. However, this house has given her the Czech roots, her spirit. It will always be a part of her, that house in Prague. Or so she says.

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October

October2016It’s October! Enjoy trick or treating, bonfires, falling leaves, apple cider, and all the other great things about fall and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

weareallmadeofstarsWe Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman, New Fiction Coleman

This is a beautiful book, sad in parts, but ultimately uplifting and inspiring. It tells the story of two women: Stella and Hope. Stella is a nurse working at a rehabilitation and hospice center. Since her husband, a solider, returned from duty with a serious injury, their marriage has been in crisis. Hope is a young woman with cystic fibrosis recovering from a life-threatening infection at the center. Knowing that her life expectancy is limited because of her disease, Hope has been afraid to live fully and is isolated and sheltered. Both of these women are at a crossroads in their lives and have to decide how to live going forward. Each character narrates her own chapters. Secondary characters are Grace, a dying patient of Stella’s with a secret, and Hugh, a man who has a connection to the center that is revealed as the story goes on. One aspect of the book that I found especially moving was the inclusion of letters written by Stella for patients who are nearing the end of their lives, interspersed throughout the book. They mainly either express regret over actions taken or not taken by the writers or ask their loved ones to go on living and be happy once they are gone. The letters are extremely touching and really get down to the gist of what makes our lives whole.

leavinglucy

Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon, New Fiction Solomon

In 1917, teenager Beatrice, the daughter of well-to-do Jewish parents in Massachusetts, becomes pregnant after an encounter with a naval officer introduced to her by her mother. Not wanting to leave the baby to an orphanage, Beatrice instead abandons the baby in her uncle’s pear orchard, where unknown persons steal their harvest each year. Beatrice watches as the pear thieves discover and take the baby. Ten years later, Beatrice’s grief over her loss has frozen her in time, wiped away her aspirations, and kept her in a state of depression. She flunked out of college, she stopped playing the piano, though a gifted pianist, and she chose to marry a homosexual man in a marriage of convenience. Now living with her Uncle Ira, whose health is declining, Beatrice hires Emma, the wife of a local fisherman and mother of nine children, to nurse Ira. Unbeknownst to Beatrice, Emma is the woman who took in Beatrice’s baby, now a ten-year-old called Lucy Pear. Meeting Emma is the beginning of taking away Beatrice’s inertia and freeing her to move forward, while Emma’s life also changes due to her meeting Lucy’s birth mother. This is an absorbing novel, filled with the honest emotions of strong characters who face difficult life choices and live with the consequences, and who find the strength to move on from past mistakes and make new lives for themselves.

turnTurn Washington’s Spies starring Jamie Bell, New DVD Turn, Seasons 1 and 2

This is a Revolutionary War drama inspired by the book Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose that details a spy ring that fed information about Redcoat troop movements to General Washington during the war. The main characters are four friends who grew up together in Long Island: Abraham, a cabbage farmer with a wife and young son, Ben, an officer in the Continental Army, Caleb, also in the Continental Army, serving under Ben, and Anna, Abraham’s former fiance, now married to another man and running a tavern in their hometown. The show begins slowly, setting up the characters and background information, and builds momentum as the series goes on.

Most of the main characters are based upon real people, but historical facts have been significantly changed for dramatic purposes, so don’t expect the show to be historically accurate, but it is exciting and entertaining. And it may prompt people to learn more about the historical people portrayed in the series. The show is filmed in Virginia. It is well-made with strong production values. Seasons 1-3 have aired on AMC and it has been announced that Season 4, to be aired in 2017, will be the final season.

Chris – Technical Services

beyondthecallBeyond the Call: The True Story of One World War II Pilot’s Covert Mission to Rescue POWs on the Eastern Front by Lee Trimble with Jeremy Dronfield, New Nonfiction 940.54 Tri

The story of Captain Robert Trimble (Lee’s father), a distinguished flyer in WWII who was sent on a mission to recover POWs in Poland near the end of WWII. Another story of heroism from all those years ago, that might not have been told. Fascinating and heartbreaking.

Michelle – Administration

savingSaving Hope starring Erica Durance, DVD Saving Hope, Seasons 1 and 2

Saving Hope is a Canadian TV drama that is part Grey’s Anatomy and part Ghost Whisperer. The show stars Michael Shanks as Dr. Charlie Harris, the chief of surgery who ends up in a coma after a car accident, Erica Durance as Dr. Alex Reid, Charlie’s fiancée and fellow surgeon, and Daniel Gillies as Dr. Joel Goran, Alex’s former boyfriend and Charlie’s replacement at the hospital. In the first season, Saving Hope follows the lives of these main doctors, as well as their co-workers and patients. Charlie, in his comatose state, is able to communicate with other patients who are also in a coma or have recently passed. Alex tries to juggle caring for Charlie and her patients, while also dealing with the reappearance of Joel in her life. It is a fun twist on the average medical drama that has kept me intrigued well into season three.

Hubbell – Circulation

zeitounZeitoun by Dave Eggers, Nonfiction 921 Zeitoun Egg

Zeitoun is a true account of one man’s experiences in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Zeitoun is Syrian immigrant Abdulrahman Zeitoun, who owned a painting business with his wife in New Orleans. After the flooding, Zeitoun canoed about the city, distributing any resources he had and rescuing survivors. In a twist of fate, Zeitoun was arrested by national guard officers and subsequently jailed without a trial or medical attention for close to 30 days. In the meantime, his property, where he had been taken into custody, was left unlocked and unsecured by the authorities and was subsequently looted and damaged. David Eggers’ account of Zeitoun’s awful experience puts 9/11 anti-Islam sentiment against the backdrop of the worst natural disaster in American history.

Chris – Circulation

community

Community, The Complete First Season starring Joel McHale and Chevy Chase, DVD Community, Season 1

Welcome to Greendale Community College where you’re already accepted! Make some new friends in Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), the recently unemployed lawyer; Annie Edison (Alison Brie), the studious recent high school grad who has a knack for perfection; Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), your source for anything related to pop culture; Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), the bumbling activist; Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), the former high school football star that got injured; Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), the religious optimist that you don’t want to mess with; and Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase), the inheritor of Hawthorne Industries. Your Spanish teacher, Ben Chang (Ken Jeong), is only slightly ahead of the class in his lessons. Ian Duncan (John Oliver) will be your apathetic psychology professor. Finally, Craig Pelton (Jim Rash) is your dance, costume, and event-loving dean.

Throughout the first season of this highly-acclaimed but ultimately unfortunate sitcom, you will celebrate all of the holidays and zany school promotional events in a way that only Greendale can. The script is smartly written, packed with subtle, and not so subtle, jokes. It helps to be up on pop culture to understand some of the more subtle ones, but isn’t necessary to have a good time watching the show. Community is described as being very “meta,” meaning it knows it is a TV show, but goes along with it and the tropes anyway. Loaded with gags as well as Easter eggs, this show is worth a second viewing to catch even more. Season 1 gets better with every episode, exploring relationships and real-life crises mixed in with the humor. Community has a lot of heart, so maybe it will capture yours.

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September

September2016coverIt’s September! Welcome cooler weather with the change of season and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

lilacgirlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, New Fiction Kelly

This book is set from 1939-1959 and alternates among three characters, each of whom narrates her own chapters: Caroline, a New York socialite working for the French embassy, Kasia, a Polish teen, and Herta, a Nazi doctor. Kasia and Herta’s stories intersect when Kasia is caught working for the Polish underground and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, along with her sister and mother, where she becomes a victim of gruesome medical experiments. It is not until after the war that Caroline’s part in the story becomes clear. The book is harrowing, showing the atrocities committed by the Nazis, but also inspiring, celebrating the strength and will of the victims.

Having each character tell her story in her own voice makes it more powerful. I felt so sad for Kasia that she struggled to make a life for herself after the war due to the psychological scars she carried and it was chilling and disgusting to see Herta’s hatred for Jews and her justification for the horrors she committed. The book was thoroughly researched by the author and is historically accurate, though the characters’ stories are fictionalized. Caroline and Herta were real people and Kasia and her sister Zuzanna are based upon real victims of the Ravensbrück medical experiments.

jonathanunleashedJonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff, New Fiction Rosoff

Jonathan is in his early twenties and just out of college. He moves to New York City to start his adult life. He is quirky and thinks outside the box. His passion is drawing comics, but he ends up at a soul-sucking job as a copywriter working for a client that sells office supplies. He has a girlfriend who is totally wrong for him – it is obvious to everyone in his life that she is not his match, but still he gets engaged to her on the spur of the moment when the bridal magazine she works for offers to pay for the ceremony, in exchange for live streaming it and doing a magazine spread. Even while engaged, Jonathan meets a few other people who interest him romantically, yet he clings to the idea of marriage to this woman. Jonathan’s life changes when his brother leaves his two dogs with him when he goes overseas for a work assignment. Jonathan develops a strong bond with the dogs – Sissy, a sweet cocker spaniel, and Dante, a very intelligent, work-driven border collie. Jonathan worries that the dogs are unsatisfied with life in a big city and he visits a vet, who suspects that he is projecting his unhappiness onto the dogs, who are dogs after all and take things as they come. Jonathan is a likable guy, but somewhat exasperating as he is stuck and miserable but afraid to make any changes in his life. The reader sees long before he does that he is making the wrong choices. The dogs sense it too and help Jonathan to find wisdom about the best way to live his life, nudging him in the right direction. The dogs’ antics are funny and clever, leading Jonathan down the path to a more rewarding life. The book is very funny and passionate dog lovers will savor it. A fun, light-hearted read.

shetlandShetland starring Douglas Henshall, DVD Shetland, Series 1 & 2

This is a detective series set in the Shetland Islands (part of the British Isles located in the far North and governed by Scotland) that follows Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and his team as they investigate crimes committed on the islands. The first two seasons have been released as a set, which comprises four two-part episodes that are based on the novels by Ann Cleeves. I find this series to be very well done, with compelling crimes and interesting characters. Each story is allowed to evolve, being two hours in length, moving at a slower pace than most American detective shows, which allows more emphasis on character and setting. The crimes are not cut and dried, but complex with numerous suspects, keeping you guessing until the end. DI Perez is a likable character, a compassionate man who is good at questioning witnesses and suspects as he has a comforting presence. We learn that Perez is a widower with a teenage stepdaughter who grew up on the islands. The beautiful but bleak, rugged landscape sets a mood of isolation and gives you a sense of a close-knit community that feels the effects of crime much deeper than that of a well-populated urban area.

Chris – Circulation

yourinnerfishYour Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin, Nonfiction 611 Shu

Have you ever wondered how the human body has come to look and function the way it does today? Have you noticed similarities between humans and other groups of life? There is a good reason for this–humans are essentially more complex versions of creatures from these other groups. There are even more similarities than you think because many features cannot be seen on the surface. In paleontologist Neil Shubin’s first foray into popular science, he tackles the task of relating 3.5 billion years worth of evolution–of bacteria, prehistoric fish, flies, and many, many others–to the current human form. For example, fish, whales, and bats all have similar “hand” structures to humans. Flies have some of the same genes that function the same way in humans as well. Shubin is successful in his task because of his experience in the field, breadth of scientific evidence, and clear, easily accessible writing style. This is a fascinating read for anyone curious about evolution and the amazing path bodies have taken over 3.5 billion years. There is also a three-part PBS series based on this book.

Melissa – Technical Services

allisnotforgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker, New Fiction Walker

In this tale, a teenage girl named Jenny is raped at a party. While being treated in the hospital, she is given a new and controversial drug that will erase the memory of her trauma. The treatment is not as effective as it is purported to be, and the ghosts of the incident seem to linger in Jenny’s subconscious. Her family begins to crumble in the aftermath, as her father regrets this course of action and will not rest until the man is brought to justice. The narrator is Jenny’s psychiatrist as he works to help her uncover the truth of that night. A fun and creative thriller, and the movie rights have recently been sold.

Chris – Technical Services

canalzheimersCan Alzheimer’s Be Stopped? written by Sarah Holt, New Nonfiction DVD 616.832 Can

Scientists reconstruct the molecular chain of events which leads to dementia.They explore the leading theories and you meet individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s and the clinical trials they are participating in as the researchers test their theories. A peak behind-the-scenes of what is happening in Alzheimer’s research. Recommended viewing for those who wish to learn more about the medical research currently going on.

isawthelightI Saw the Light starring Tom Hiddleston, New DVD I Saw

Tom Hiddleston stars as Hank Williams, the country western singer who rose to fame quickly and burned out fast. During his short lifetime, he wrote many timeless and heart-wrenching songs still covered by musicians today. Tom does a terrific job portraying the charismatic performer with a troubled soul and interpreting his songs.

headincloudsHead in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up by William Poundstone, New Nonfiction 306.42 Pou

If a few keystrokes can summon information in seconds, why should we bother learning facts? The author examines what Americans know and don’t know on a range of topics. He shows that many areas of knowledge correlate with the quality of our lives – wealth, health, and happiness – and even with politics and behavior.

Being well informed is about context as much as it is about factoids. It is the overview that permits the assessment of the particular that offers all-important insight into what we don’t know. Exposure to facts is good, but so is interacting with others of differing viewpoints. Discussion and debate hone opinions more effectively than reading facts.

walkingpointWalking Point: From the Ashes of the Vietnam War by Perry A. Ulander, New Nonfiction 921 Ulander

Memories of the war you may not want to hear about from a soldier who was there. 236 pages, very fast reading.

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August

Augustdogdays2016The dog days of summer have arrived! Enjoy the remainder of the summer and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

allgirlfillingThe All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, Fiction Flagg

This is a delightful book, full of warmth and humor. It tells the story of Sookie in present-day Alabama and Fritzi in the World War II years in Wisconsin. Sookie is a dutiful mother and daughter, looking forward to some down time after getting the last of her daughters married off. Her mother, Lenore, is the leading citizen of their small town and quite a handful. In her eighties, but still going strong, she is narcissistic and makes Sookie feel that she is inferior. There is a history of mental illness in the family and Lenore seems to be losing her marbles, something that Sookie fears is in her future too. When Sookie receives a registered letter from the Texas Department of Health, the news therein is shocking to her and sends her on a quest to learn more about herself and her family history. This is where her life and Fritzi’s life intersect. In alternating chapters, we follow Sookie’s story in the present and Fritzi’s story in the past. The book includes a fascinating history of a part of WWII that I knew nothing about and the interesting history of the development of filling stations in the U.S. after cars became more popular. Sookie is an absolutely charming character – so funny and good-natured. This is a feel-good read about strong women finding their own path in life, very humorous and endearing.

drblakemysteriesThe Doctor Blake Mysteries starring Craig McLachlan, New DVD Doctor, Season One

This is an Australian mystery series set in the late 1950’s. Dr. Lucien Blake returns home to Australia after being away for 30 years to take over his late father’s practice while also serving as the police surgeon. Lucien suffered much during WWII, losing his family and being a prisoner of war of the Japanese. He is a very private man with a stoic disposition and he doesn’t care what the locals think of him, but he is a fine doctor and tenacious while on a case to find the truth. Lucien is looked after by Jean, a war widow who was also the receptionist and housekeeper for his father. The district nurse and Jean’s nephew, a police constable, also board in the house.

The show has a serious tone to it. The colors are washed out so everything appears drab, almost black and white. The writing and acting is strong and the period detail is authentic. Dr. Blake is interested in forensics and is ahead of most of his peers in its use, but he also delves into the psychology of the victims and suspects to find motives, giving the show a human touch.

Mary – Reference Services

waypointkangarooWaypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen, New Fiction Chen

Kangaroo is sent on a mandatory vacation to Mars after he bungles yet another mission. On the interplanetary cruise, he finds himself involved in solving a double murder. Since nothing is ever easy for Kangaroo, he learns that it is actually a massive conspiracy which threatens peace between Earth and Mars. This is a fun summer read for anyone who loves a good spy story. It contains intrigue, action, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and lots of humor.

secondlifenickmThe Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton, New Fiction Hamilton

Steve Hamilton has created a new anti-hero, Nick Mason. In the past, Nick made some poor choices in life – largest amongst them being poor judgement and robbery. He is now paying for those big-time.

The story begins with Nick in prison, serving time for a robbery and the death of an FBI agent. He had been happily married with a 4-year-old daughter. Now he’s divorced and has five years under his belt in the maximum security prison when an offer granting his early release comes his way. He accepts, but the deal comes with deadly terms. Darius Cole, working his empire from his jail cell, now controls Nick. He’s given a new house, new car, and money to burn. The only stipulation is that when his cell phone rings, he must answer and do as directed. As the crimes become more dangerous, Nick’s anxiety and turmoil increases to the point that he is willing to risk all to break free.

Dagmar – Circulation

dinnerwithedwardDinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent, New Nonfiction 921 Vincent

Isabel Vincent is an investigative reporter who just moved to New York from her native Canada. She is new to the city, not quite happy at her job and lonely in her unfulfilling marriage. As an act of kindness, she promises to keep an eye on her friend’s aging father, a recent widower, who just lost his wife after a long and happy marriage of 69 years. Edward, who dearly misses his beloved wife Paula, accepts the newcomer to his life with open arms and agrees to host intimate dinner parties for Isabel, who enjoys their get-togethers tremendously. An unexpected, very unique and precious friendship and a special bond develop between the two. It is not only about the exquisite food and drink that Edward prepares for Isabel so carefully, it is his lessons about enjoying and appreciating good company, beauty, love and life in general, that Isabel is after. Soon Edward plays an important role of mentor in many ways to Isabel, teaching her to slow down, to respect herself, and to live in the moment. “There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drank,” Isabel quotes the famous food writer M.F. K. Fisher, and agrees with her that dinner with a friend “can sustain us against the hungers of the world.” The book is a tribute to food, to life, to love, and to Edward.

Hubbell – Circulation

boysinboatThe Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown, Nonfiction 797.123 Bro or New CD 791.123 Bro (audiobook)

At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi Germany, the American eight-oared crew team shocked the world and won an improbable gold medal. The varsity crew from the University of Washington did so against powerful, more experienced, older crews, especially the hand-selected German boat. This is more than a story about sport, though. The book mainly tracks one member, Joe Rantz, from his Depresssion-era childhood and unstable family life to his success on the world’s stage. Brown’s account also frames the story within the East vs. West mentality still prevalent in America at the time. The crew’s success put Seattle on the map and the Washington crew still remains a national powerhouse.

truthTruth starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford, New DVD Truth

One of the first in a string of controversies affecting national news anchors, Truth is about Dan Rather and CBS News’ fall from grace following their story about George W. Bush’s national guard service leading up to the 2004 election. It provides a refreshing retrospective on the story that brought down Rather and is anchored by great performances by Robert Redford (Rather) and Cate Blanchett (60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes). The story centers around what came to be proven as forged documents suggesting Bush had lied about his national guard service. They were, however, presented to 60 Minutes as authentic and unadulterated. The movie raises questions concerning journalistic responsibility and ethics, as well as the rise of corporate interest in the news media.

pentagonsbrainThe Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top-Secret Military Research Agency by Annie Jacobsen, Nonfiction 355.07 Jac

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, is informally known as “the Pentagon’s brain.” It is the top-secret military research department which is responsible for advances in American military capabilities. From the first nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll to the space race, Agent Orange, and drones, Jacobsen’s book chronicles DARPA’s role at the forefront of these new technologies. The agency was created by President Eisenhower, the same man who warned the country of the so-called military-industrial complex taking shape at the end of his term. Since then, DARPA has decidedly become part of that group. In addition to DARPA’s historical role, Jacobsen examines the moral quandaries facing the agency responsible for some of modern warfare’s most devastating weapons.

Chris – Circulation

agaetisAgaetis Byrjun by Sigur Rós, New CD 781.66 Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós is one of the monsters of post-rock, a broad genre that is usually characterized by long songs, ambient sounds, and non-traditional use of the guitar. Hailing from Iceland, they sing in their mother tongue, Icelandic, and in a completely made-up, meaningless, scat-like language called Hopelandic. But don’t worry, you don’t need to learn a new language to appreciate their music. Singer Jónsi uses his voice as another layer of instrumentation to convey the melody on top of the humming synths and violin-bow-strummed guitar.

Their second album, Ágætis Byrjun, “A Good Start” in Icelandic, is the product of the band reworking themselves into what they originally envisioned. Coming in at over an hour of music with only two tracks under six and a half minutes, this is an album meant to be experienced. If you have the time, I highly recommend listening to it straight through. Each track blends seamlessly into the next, causing it to feel like one masterwork rather than a collection of individual songs. It is a journey transcendental in nature. You will be transported to a realm where nothing of this world is of any significance. If you only have time for a few songs, I recommend “Starálfur” for its iconic piano and strings, “Svefn-g-englar” for its mantra-like vocals, and “Flugufrelsarinn” for a calming experience. This is a perfect album if you want to slow down, reflect, and experience something new.

kveikurKveikur by Sigur Rós, New CD 781.66 Sigur Rós

Kveikur is the most recent release from Sigur Rós. Compared to Ágætis Byrjun, Kveikur is darker and a bit more aggressive. This is evidenced by titles translated as “brimstone,” “obsidian,” “iceberg,” “storm,” and “kindling.” Immediately, this is apparent to the listener from the opening of the first track “Brennisteinn” (Brimstone) with several hard blasts of sound, followed by heavy drums and, appropriately, a general atmosphere of fire and brimstone. The title track “Kveikur” has a similar feel. Never fear, there’s still plenty of atmospheric arrangements on here. “Isjaki” (Iceberg) even provides a cool down with a nice pop-like sound. Fans of Sigur Rós will find this a welcome addition to their discography. This might be an appropriate introductory album for new listeners, too. There is enough rock sound to segue into Sigur Rós’s unique brand of alternative rock.

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July

July2016coverIt’s July! Celebrate summer and the  July 4th holiday with your loved ones and enjoy the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

dogsofbabelThe Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst, Fiction Parkhurst

This engrossing novel deals with the journey of Paul after the death of his wife Lexy. Lexy fell out of the tree in their yard. The police ruled her death an accident, but Paul suspects it may have been suicide. As the novel progresses, we learn he has good reason to suspect suicide. As we visit Paul’s memories of their marriage, we see that Lexy had issues with anger and impulse control and could sink into deep depressions at times. The only witness to Lexy’s death was their dog, Lorelei, who belonged to Lexy before their marriage. Paul is a professor of linguistics and he comes up with the idea to teach Lexy to speak in order to find out what really happened that day. This idea alienates him from his co-workers, who think he has cracked. Some co-workers ridicule him, while others feel sorry for him and try to discourage him from this project. It is a ridiculous idea, of course – dogs do communicate with humans, but not by speaking English. But Paul is in a desperate state and this project keeps his mind occupied during those first several months of intense grief. His progress with Lorelei  moves slowly, however, prompting Paul to get involved with a dangerous and sick group of people who intentionally mutilate and kill dogs in a quest to get them to speak in human language, thus endangering Lorelei. Paul’s relationship with Lorelei is touching – these are the two beings who loved Lexy the most and they are both grieving her loss. And now Lorelei is all Paul has left of Lexy. In the end, Lorelei does help him to learn the truth of the events of that day, but not by talking. The novel treats the issues of mental illness and suicide with sensitivity. We see the tragedy of mental illness and the toll it takes on the loved ones of those affected by it. Paul’s desperate search for meaning after such a loss is heart-breakingly sad, but redemptive in the end. After all Paul has had to go through to get to the point of acceptance, he is able to find peace and move forward with his life.

everyonebraveEveryone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, New Fiction Cleave

This novel begins the day England declares war against Germany and goes through the first few years of WWII, through the summer of 1942 after the Americans arrive in England. The main characters are Mary, Alistair, and Tom, three young people living in London when war is declared. Mary is only 18 and grabs at the chance to volunteer to get her out of finishing school. She is the daughter of a well-to-do family and is very naive as the book opens. She is envisioning being a spy and thinks it must be a joke when they send her to teach at a school. Much to her surprise, she finds that she enjoys teaching and becomes attached to the students she is assigned to teach once the majority of London’s children have been evacuated. Those left are the crippled, mentally handicapped, and a black boy from America named Zachary, with whom Mary develops a strong bond. When Mary is assigned to teach, she meets Tom, a school administrator who has not signed up because he believes passionately in teaching and feels he can serve best by staying behind. Tom’s roommate, Alistair, signs up the day war is declared. First he is sent to France, then Malta. As the war goes on, we see how each character changes as a result of their war experiences. Mary and Tom are caught in the Blitz where the horror of the war is brought home daily, while Alistair sees his men die brutally in battle and then faces starvation due to the Axis blockade of Malta. Mary is the central character and she undergoes quite a transformation, from spoiled, naive rich girl to a much deeper and caring person. We see class and racial prejudice in action and also understand how this began to change after the war. The novel has emotional depth to it and each character is well-drawn and believable.

allwintersafterAll the Winters After by Seré Prince Halverson, New Fiction Halverson

This is a beautiful story about family, love, healing from loss, and taking chances to make a better life for yourself. Twenty years after his parents and brother were killed in a plane crash in their home state of Alaska, Kache returns home for the first time since the crash to visit his ailing grandmother. He has never properly grieved the loss of his family or faced his guilt over their deaths, so his life has been meaningless the last 20 years – not really living, but just sleepwalking through each day. He believes that their home and land has been rented out these 20 years, but his Aunt Eleanor tearfully admits to him that she never had the courage to go back to the homestead, suffering her own guilt over the crash. Kache expects the house to be beyond repair after so many years, but he discovers a young Russian woman named Nadia living in the house. She has been there for the last 10 years, hiding away from her own past tragedy.

All these characters are stuck in time, not able to move forward from tragedy. When Kache and Nadia find each other, they help one another to face the past and be able to live fully again, while Eleanor also blossoms into herself and finds happiness. The story is absorbing and the Alaskan wilderness itself is a character in the book, its magnificent beauty as well as danger an integral part of the lives of the characters.

Dagmar – Circulation

Summer can be a season in which food is greatly celebrated and enjoyed. We associate summers with family get-togethers, with grilling and barbecue garden parties, festive picnics, etc. Food and fun is the theme of the season and that is why I decided to write about food for the month of July. I believe that many readers are familiar with the name Ruth Reichl, a famous chef food and restaurant critic and a gifted food writer. Her books make a perfect summer reading for both their engaging, very personal writing style, and, of course, for her delicious recipes. “Reading Ruth Reichl on food is almost as good as eating it,” wrote the Washington Post Book World. “While all good food writers are humorous…few are so riotously effortlessly entertaining as Ruth Reichl,” commented the New York Times Book Review.

tenderattheboneHer first book, Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, is a delicious memoir of her apprentice years. Her photo on the cover dated 1955 indeed proves that Reichl was cooking at a very young age – seven years old. Early on, she had discovered that “food could be a way of making sense of the world.” From there, we follow her culinary experience all the way to the organic food revolution in Berkeley, California, in the 1970’s.

 

comfortmewithapplesComfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table is the sequel to it and picks up where the first one left off – living in a commune in California with her first husband, Doug. But things are changing fast and Ruth is about to become a restaurant critic and soon she cooks and dines with some word-famous chefs. She becomes one of the best food critics and her pursuit of good food to write about takes her to exotic places all over the world. She shares her experiences, both personal and professional, along with the delicious recipes, with her readers. Even when she writes about some of her personal difficulties, throughout it all, she is funny and entertaining. Just like in her first book, she is able to combine her humorous food writing and her memoirs into an art form.

garlicandsapphireGarlic and Sapphires: The Secrets Life of a Critic in Disguise is the third of Reichl’s memoirs. This time, she is at the top of her stellar career as a restaurant critic at the New York Times, the food editor and restaurant critic at the Los Angeles Times, and editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine. She is the most important and feared restaurant critic in the country, and her image with her signature black hair is known to every restaurant it town. She is offered special bonuses and cash bonuses for advance notices of her visits and gets royals treatment whether she likes it or not. However, Reichl is aware that in order to be a good and impartial food critic, you have to be anonymous. And voila, an idea of a critic in disguise is born and Reichl begins her “adventure in deception.” She gets a blonde wig and an acting coach and scouts restaurants as Molly Hollis, a retired school teacher from Michigan (in addition being Ruth Reichl) and then she writes reviews with a comparison about her double experiences. Soon the restaurateur’s learn to watch for Molly, so Reichl buys another wig and another persona is designed. She goes on creating several characters and enjoys switching between them. In her undercover roles, she is not only having fun, but also pokes holes in the pretension of food critics, and reveals both the artifice and excellence existing in the Epicurean world. She also reflects about how our appearance influences the ways we act and are perceived in this world. And, of course, she includes her favorite recipes and review.

Chris – Circulation

absolutionAbsolution by Muse, CD 781.66 Muse

Muse is one of the biggest acts right now in modern alternative rock. This trio has produced seven full-length albums, Absolution being the third. Formed in the U.K., this is the piece that broke them into the U.S. alternative scene. Muse expertly blend alternative rock with progressive, punk, electronic, and orchestral elements. Common themes on Muse albums tend to be love, loss, longing, space, and government conspiracies, and Absolution is no exception. Ranging from mellow piano and soft string arrangements to brash, distortion-heavy guitar works, Absolution excels in variety while still maintaining a cohesiveness with its signature Muse style. Singer Matt Bellamy’s distinctive falsetto brings an extra level of emotion to the songs it is featured in, like “Sing for Absolution,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” and “Ruled by Secrecy.” Matt shows off his piano chops in “Butterflies and Hurricanes,” bassist Chris Wolstenholme proves his bass mastery on “Hysteria,” and drummer Dom Howard perfectly matches the tempo and emotion of every track. This is my personal favorite album, and the one I would suggest to someone looking to check out Muse.

Michelle – Administration

13hours13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi starring John Krasinski, New DVD 13 Hours

This is the true story of the six ex-military operators working as security for the CIA in Benghazi during the terrorist attack in 2012. I was blown away by the story and the heroism shown by these six men who went so far beyond to protect both the CIA operatives and the U.S. diplomatic compound. The politics behind and around the attack do not play a part in this movie. Knowing that this is a true account of events made some scenes difficult to watch, but gave the entire movie such gravitas. Star John Krasinski brought such emotion and depth to his role. The movie, directed by Michael Bay, also stars James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, and Dominic Fumusa.

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June

It’s June! EnjoyJune2016cover the beautiful weather outside and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

brittmarieBritt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman, New Fiction Backman

This is another outstanding novel from Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove, full of warmth, love, and wisdom. Britt-Marie is separated from her husband after 40 years of marriage. She is so afraid of being alone – of dying alone – that she wants a job, any job she can get just so people know she is there. After hounding the girl who works at the unemployment office, Britt-Marie gets the position of caretaker for a shut down recreation center in the dying town of Borg. Once she gets to Borg, she finds herself getting involved in the lives of the remaining residents, especially a pair of siblings who play soccer even though their soccer pitch has been sold and their coach has passed away.

Britt-Marie has dedicated herself to others all her life, first her parents and sister, then her husband, so that she never learned how to be herself or found out what she wanted from her life. A tragedy in her childhood has shaped her life and her husband didn’t respect her, crushed her actually, and she let him, so her self-esteem at the beginning of her journey is zero. However, in Borg, Britt-Marie starts to open herself to new experiences and learn to let go of her pretensions and live a little. Britt-Marie is a very sympathetic character who you will root for to finally live for herself and make the correct choices. The supporting cast of characters are also wonderful. Backman excels at creating eccentric, lovable characters. The book is exceedingly funny and also sad, but leaves you feeling uplifted.

MrRosenblumMr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons, Fiction Solomons

This is a lovely book, gentle and sweet and beautifully written. Jack and Sadie are German Jews who left Germany in the 1930’s and emigrated to England. Upon arrival, they were given a handbook explaining English customs and how to assimilate. Jack took the handbook to heart and his greatest wish is to be the quintessential English gentleman. He makes a list of goals and eventually achieves them, except for being granted membership in a golf club. His name and his accent seem to prevent him from being fully accepted. So Jack decides to build his own golf course. He buys land in Dorset and uproots his wife from their London home to move to the country and build his course. The rest of the book details Jack’s trials and tribulations getting his course built and explores his relationship with his wife and daughter, as well as life in a small village. Jack’s wife, Sadie, lost her parents and younger brother to the Holocaust and she suffers from survivor guilt and depression over this since she escaped and they didn’t. Meanwhile, Jack is eternally cheerful and optimistic, so there is a divide between them. Jack is a wonderful character – you can’t help but root for him and feel for him when things don’t go his way.

curiouscharmsThe Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick, New Fiction Patrick

This is a lovely story about a man grieving the loss of his wife and finding his way again. A year after the death of his wife Miriam, Arthur is packing up her clothing to give away when he comes across a charm bracelet with eight charms on it. He doesn’t recall ever seeing Miriam wearing the bracelet and he wonders about it. One of the charms, an Indian elephant with an emerald, has an Indian phone number engraved on it. Arthur calls this number and speaks to a man who knew his wife when he was a child. Arthur had no idea Miriam had ever been in India and this makes him question what else he didn’t know about her life before they met. This sets Arthur on a journey to discover the story of all the charms that will take him to different parts of England, as well as other countries, where he meets numerous people from Miriam’s past who take him out of his comfort zone and broaden his viewpoint. It is a spiritual journey as well as Arthur questions his life with Miriam and if he ever really knew her at all. Overall, this is a feel-good read as Arthur’s journey allows him to remember the love and joy of his married life and to be free to move forward, as well as reconnect with his children who have drifted from him since their mother’s death. Arthur is a sympathetic character and the various supporting characters all add color and charm to the novel.

Pat – Circulation

whenbreathWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, New Nonfiction 616.994 Kal 

Paul Kalanithi was a talented and dedicated neurosurgeon who, against all odds, is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer while only in his thirties. This memoir tells the story of the almost two years from diagnosis until Dr. Kalanithi’s death. He was married to Lucy, who sounds like an amazing woman. When he died he had and infant daughter, Cady.

This book is and excellent and moving account of a terminal illness, an inspirational story, and a look at the human spirit.

Michelle – Administration

redqueen Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, YA Aveyard

I continue to find myself drawn to YA series and this was the next one to catch my eye. This rich fantasy series can be described as The Hunger Games meets a superhero origin story. In this story, society is divided into two groups, those with red blood and those who have evolved into having silver blood and a superpower. Thus, the Silvers rule while the Reds suffer through a despondent life and perpetual war. Things are turned upside down with the discovery of a red-blooded girl who has a superpower no one has seen before. The first two books in the series, Red Queen and Glass Sword, are out now. Books 3 and 4 have been commissioned and are expected to be released in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

deadpoolDeadpool starring Ryan Reynolds, New DVD Deadpool

After years of negotiation, Ryan Reynolds finally brought his Deadpool to the big screen. If you like superheroes, but wish they wouldn’t be so heroic all the time, then Deadpool is the hero you’ve been looking for. This fast-paced story isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if senseless violence, crude behavior, and dark humor are your thing – this is the movie for you! The movie also stars Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, and TJ Miller.

Dagmar – Circulation

mynameislucybMy Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, New Fiction Strout

Elizabeth Strout, who is a Pulitzer Prize winner for her previous novel, Olive Kittenridge, has a new powerful novel published: My Name is Lucy Barton. This time, the heroine of the story is raised in incredible, almost unbelievable poverty outside the small town of Amgash, Illinois. The youngest of three children in a greatly dysfunctional family, she takes refuge in school, where it is peaceful and warm. There she discovers her love for books. Especially one book makes a life- changing difference for Lucy. It is about a girl named Tilly, who is a little bit like Lucy. Tilly also endures a childhood full of hardship, and seems strange to others because she is dirty and poor. Books, Lucy explains, brought her things and made her feel less alone. So Lucy thinks that she will become a writer and write books and people would feel less alone. Due to her diligence at school, Lucy gets a college scholarship and thus is able to escape the family’s misery and poverty. While in college, she gets married, and moves with her new well-to-do husband to New York. While living there, Lucy seldom looks back. She is trying to get used to the idea of living in a big sophisticated city and raising her two beloved daughters, while also attempting to write. She has a lot to catch up on because she comes from a world which is incomprehensible to people living around her. not only did the family have little heat and little food, they had no books, no magazines, and no TV. When Lucy gets seriously ill, her wealthy husband asks Lucy’s mother to come to New York to keep her company while she is in the hospital. Five days which they spend together bring a lot of memories – good and bad – of the old days. Lucy and her mother reestablish their problematic but loving relationship. Eventually, Lucy becomes a published author and woman in her own right. After her daughters grow up, she divorces her distant husband, who developed an interest in another woman. She herself happily remarries later. It is a simple but a touching story which offers a wealth of emotion, from sadness and loneliness to simple joy and redemption.

Chris – Technical Services

joyJoy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, New DVD Joy

This movie is funny, exasperating, depressing, and then…Joyful as she overcomes all obstacles.

 

 

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May

May2016It’s May! Take a book outside and enjoy the glorious sights and smells of spring!

 

 

Sue – Circulation

truthaccordingtousThe Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows, Fiction Barrows

This captivating novel is narrated by 12-year-old Willa Romeyn and set during the summer of 1938 in a small West Virginia town when she learns the truth about her family and their past. Willa lives with her father Felix, her aunt Jottie, and her little sister Bird. Felix is a selfish man whose actions in the past and today have hurt his family, but Willa adores him and women can’t refuse his charm. Jottie is the rock of the family, keeping everything together and raising the girls. It is the Depression and the Romeyns have taken in a boarder working for the Federal Writers’ Project under the WPA, set up by the Roosevelt Administration to provide work during the Depression. The boarder, Layla, is a spoiled and sheltered senator’s daughter who has been cut off by her father and forced to work after refusing to marry the man he picked out for her. Layla’s arrival sets in motion a series of events that will rock the Romeyn family, revealing a long-kept secret from the past. Layla’s assignment is to write the history of the town. As she interviews residents, she hears various versions of the same events, and chooses to write a more colorful history than the staid town leaders are ready for. As the town’s history is revealed, so is the history of the Romeyn family revealed. We learn how subjective the truth can be, depending upon who is telling it. The pace of the book starts out slow, like the sweltering summer heat of West Virginia, but then picks up and becomes really engrossing as we learn more about the dark family secret that has torn apart the lives of Jottie and Felix. This book shines – the characters are so well-developed and we see Willa grow up before our eyes as she discovers some hard truths about her family.

fallenlandFallen Land by Taylor Brown, New Fiction Brown

Fallen Land is a powerful story of love and survival set in the American South during the Civil War. Fifteen-year-old Callum, an orphan originally from Ireland, falls in with a band of Confederate guerrillas in Virginia in the later years of the war. The men are brutal, and after trying to help a young woman named Ava they found living on her own from being assaulted by the men, Callum leaves the group and returns to the girl. But the leader of the group, a former colonel in the Confederacy, is killed by Union soldiers when confronting Callum, who stole the Colonel’s magnificent horse, Reiver, in his flight. Believing Callum to be the Colonel’s killer, the rest of the Colonel’s men and a vicious bounty hunter set off in search of Callum and Ava in order to collect a bounty on the head of the Colonel’s killer. Callum wants to reach the coast of Georgia, where distant relatives live, in the hope that they will take Ava and him in. As they travel, they are relentlessly pursued by the bounty hunter. Their path follows the wake of General Sherman’s march through Georgia and we see the utter destruction wrought by Union troops. The book helped me realize the full horror of Sherman’s march. I was appalled by the murder of family pets – so pointless, just cruelty – and the sheer brutality of the destruction of property and livestock. The writing is beautiful. Taylor uses descriptive language to great effect, describing the destruction of the land, but the beauty that is still there to be found. Callum and Ava are well-drawn characters. Callum fears what the war is making him while Ava is strong and sensible. Along their journey, the pair also meet a number of memorable characters. The novel is well-paced, the story line flowing smoothly and keeping the reader absorbed until the end.

summerbeforewarThe Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, New Fiction Simonson

This beautifully written novel opens in the summer of 1914 in the small village of Rye, East Sussex, shortly after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The residents of the village are blissfully unaware of the major changes that are coming to their world and their way of life. The main characters are Beatrice, a young woman who has settled in the village to take on the job of Latin mistress for the local school (with some opposition due to her gender) and the Kent family: Agatha, her husband John, who is high up in the government and has more of an inkling of what is coming than most, and their two nephews, Hugh, a surgeon in training, very serious and respectable, and Daniel, a handsome and charming poet, who flaunts the rules of society. Society and respectability are everything in Rye and the local women can be vicious against those who don’t measure up to their standards of respectability. Beatrice is on the cusp of this society, being a woman who doesn’t intend to marry and wants to live a life of meaningful work (and rides a bicycle!), but with Agatha’s support, she fits in. Though Rye is respectable on the surface, there is much simmering under the surface, including a homosexual love affair, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and bigotry against local gypsies. We see how women were limited in their choices in that period of time and how easily they could be ostracized from society for actions that are commonplace today.

The novel is slow-paced and gentle, until the end, when the setting shifts from Rye to France, juxtaposing the charming pastoral life of Rye with the horrific violence of the front. Though a long book told at a slow pace, I truly cared about the characters and was invested in their fate. We see the horror and stupidity of war and the suffering of innocents caught up in it and the waste of promising lives, but also how suffering and loss can make people reach for what they truly want and find happiness.

onlyloveOnly Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington, New Fiction Tarkington

This is a wonderful novel about the relationship between two brothers and their family growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s in a small town in Virginia. The novel is narrated by Richard, nicknamed Rocky by his brother, as an older adult looking back on his life. Richard is seven years old when the novel opens and idolizes his older half-brother Paul, a teenager with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, a cool car, and a taste for rock n’ roll, especially Neil Young. Richard speaks with such an authentic voice you feel as if a friend is telling you a story while sitting on the patio drinking a beer. The book is funny, sad, nostalgic, tender – a lovely story of a family’s ups and downs over Richard’s childhood into his young adulthood. As he comes of age, he experiences abandonment, reconciliation, and first love, as well as darker moments. The characters are richly drawn and all flawed in their own way. We meet Richard’s father, called the Old Man, his mother, the Old Man’s second wife, much younger than him, Paul’s high school girlfriend Leigh, and other residents of the community, all of whom play a part in Richard’s growing up and his education about life. The book defies genre, as it is part Southern Gothic, part domestic fiction, and part mystery. It is very entertaining and well-written and, as the title says, it is ultimately about love between family members and how love can overcome life’s obstacles.

Theresa – Youth Services

ourendlessdaysOur Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, Fiction Fuller

In 1985, eight-year-old Peggy Hillcoat is taken from her London home by her survivalist father. After bringing her to a ramshackle hut in the wilderness, he tells her that the rest of the world, including her mother, has been destroyed. Nine long years pass with harsh winters and times of near starvation. Peggy eventually sees another person and realizes that her father is wrong.

It isn’t until Peggy returns to civilization and her mother that the author reveals how the human mind can play tricks on us. Under such circumstances, sanity may be lost, causing one to do unthinkable things.

The author, Claire Fuller, takes the reader back and forth in time. At points it may seem like the dreariness will never end, but the conclusion had me wanting to reread the book!

Hubbell – Circulation

14931493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles Mann, Nonfiction 909.4 Man

Writer Charles Mann’s 1493 is an engrossing account of world history in the post-Columbian era. The meeting of Europe and the Americas, as well as with the East, irrevocably altered the course of the natural world. Mann explains how global temperature increases were caused by the reforestation of North America following population decline from European illnesses. Or how the discovery of silver in South America opened up the Pacific and catapulted China’s economy. It is a fascinating and well-written book.

greatwarofourtimeThe Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism – From Al Qa’ida to ISIS by Michael J. Morell, Nonfiction 363.325 Mor

Written by former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, The Great War of Our Time is an insightful, first-hand account of America’s counter-terrorism world before and after 9/11. Morell was President Bush’s daily intelligence briefer and his 9/11 day-of account is emotional. What the book is really about, though, is Morell’s explanation of some CIA failures and also successes and that threats abroad continue.

Michelle – Administration

creedCreed starring Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan, New DVD Creed

I have been a huge Rocky fan since I was a kid; a true child of the 80’s, Rocky IV is my favorite. I had not been thrilled with any sequels after that, so I went into this newest addition to the Rocky franchise with excitement and trepidation. I was more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Creed. The story line is great and more heart-wrenching than I was expecting. Sylvester Stallone gave his best performance in years and Michael B. Jordan held his own as Adonis Creed. I think this movie is great for both us Rocky fans and the younger generation who may not be familiar with the franchise.

Dagmar – Circulation

irrationalmanIrrational Man starring Joaquin Phoenix, New DVD Irrational

In Woody Allen’s latest film, Irrational Man, Joaquin Phoenix beautifully plays a classic Allen figure: a renowned but disillusioned philosophical professor who takes a new job at fictional Bryalin College on the East Coast. When he arrives, he is preceded by the tales of his brilliant teaching, near-legendary passionate affairs, and global crusades. He is a mysterious man who is plagued by a bleak depression and doubts about his place in the world. Unknowingly, he creates a lot of commotion in the small provincial university town, starving for something new and exciting. He draws the not so subtle advances of Rita (Parker Posey), a lonely science professor looking to escape from a dreary marriage, and soon surrenders to Rita’s insistent seduction tactics. At the same time, he also enchants one of his brightest students, and daughter of his academic colleague, Jill (Emma Stone). While Jill has a doting and uncomplicated college boyfriend, she finds this professor and his exotic past thrilling, exciting, and irresistible. The professor tries to keep his blossoming friendship with Jill strictly platonic, but eventually, she becomes much more than just a friend. However, not even the stimulation of new friendship and romance can quite get the professor out of his depression, nor ease his feelings of futility concerning his teaching and writing. The turning point for the tormented professor comes when Jill and he eavesdrop on a conversation in a diner, listening to an unhappy turn that a complete stranger’s life has taken. The professor makes a resolution, which in turn gives him a purpose and enjoyment of his life once again. His “meaningful act” becomes the talk of the town, the subject of dinner-party chatter, campus gossip, and speculation from students and faculty. The film culminates in a surprising end with a nearly Hitchcockian twist. This “suspenseful mind-teaser” (Rolling Stone) is definitely a worthy edition to the work of Woody Allen.

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April

April2016

It’s April! April is National Poetry Month and April 10 through April 16 is National Library Week. So celebrate your local library and its contributions to your community and read a poem this month (or even write one)!

 

Melissa – Technical Services

littlelifeA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, New Fiction Yanagihara

Yanagihara has created something that is simultaneously beautiful and gut-wrenching. She depicts the lives of four men over their decades-long friendship. There’s not much new I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said by better literary critics. “How often is a novel so deeply disturbing that you find yourself weeping, and yet so revelatory about human kindness that you might also feel touched by grace?” (San Francisco Chronicle). “There are truths here that are almost too much to bear.” (LA Times). Truly, this is a book that will stay with me for years.

Sue – Circulation

deniselevertovThe Collected Poems of Denise Levertov by Denise Levertov, Nonfiction 811.54 Lev

Denise Levertov was an English-born award-winning poet. She was born in Essex in 1923 and passed away in 1997. She began writing at a young age, even getting a positive response from T.S. Eliot when she sent some of her poetry to him at age 12. She was first published at age 17. She worked as a nurse in London during WWII and moved to the U.S. in 1948 after marrying an American writer. Her poetry included a wide range of themes over her six-decade career. Early on, her themes included feminism and political and social activism, particularly in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when she spoke out against the Vietnam War and supported civil rights. In her later years, she became a Christian and she wrote spiritual and nature poems. I find her poetry to be an affirmation and celebration of life, even with all of its sorrows. Her writing is very lyrical and reads beautifully. Her poems, especially her later poems that focus on spirituality and the natural world, express deep emotions and reflect upon the meaning of our lives. These later poems are my personal favorites and include “Sojourns in the Parallel World,” “Beginners,” “Of Being,” and “A Gift.” “Sojourns in the Parallel World” speaks about how man has moved away from the natural world, but can find peace and wisdom in nature away from man-made anxieties. “Beginners” speaks of how far man has yet to go in order to find justice, mercy, harmony with nature, etc. “Of Being” and “A Gift” suggest that though life includes sadness and suffering, the joy of life makes up for the sadness and helping others is a way to increase our joy and make our lives more meaningful.

waitingformylifeWaiting for My Life: Poems by Linda Pastan, Nonfiction 811.54 Pas

Linda Pastan is an award-winning American poet who resides in Maryland. Her poems deal with our everyday lives and feature themes of domesticity, like parents, children, home, loss, grief, aging, and the unexpected joys and tragedies of life. She writes about ordinary moments of life and celebrates them for their deeper meaning. Her poetry tends to be concise, filled with vivid imagery and simple beauty.

I find her poems to be rich, getting beneath the surface of our ordinary lives to touch on deeper meanings, like love, death, and what defines us as people. A few of my favorite poems from this collection are “Dreams,” “What We Want,” and “The One-Way Mirror Back.” “Dreams” speaks of the meaning of our dreams, how what is most meaningful to us is what our subconscious mind turns to during sleep – how a lost loved one can return to us in our dreams, or a perfect day can be re-lived, or a bad day can have a different ending. Figurative language creates memorable images that add to the poignancy and strength of the poem. “What We Want” is a lyrical poem that explores our longing for something different – how we want things we don’t have or get things we thought we wanted to find that we don’t want them after all. The poem ends, though, with a celebration of the familiar and comfortable, reassuring us that what we do have is pretty good, even if we still feel that longing. “The One-Way Mirror Back” is a longer, reflective poem about the author’s childhood and the love of her parents, shown in so many ways over the years, and her appreciation now that she is older and can understand how blessed she was to have a happy and loving childhood.

alwaysareckoningAlways a Reckoning and Other Poems by Jimmy Carter, Nonfiction 811.54 Car

This is a book of poems written by former president Jimmy Carter. Many of the poems in the book are reminisces of his childhood growing up on a farm in rural Georgia. They speak of important people in the early years of his life and places that affected him. The poems also reflect on his adult life, including thoughts about his family, and his political life.

The poems about his childhood speak of the local farmers and townspeople, his work in the fields planting and tending the peanut crop, and show the divide in the South between black and white at the time.

Some of the poems are quite personal. He includes a poem about his difficult relationship with his father and their healing at his father’s death. He also writes of his mother, a nurse whose strength he greatly admired. Another poem is a tribute to the beloved dog of his childhood. The collection also includes a lovely poem to his wife of over 65 years, Rosalynn, speaking of his love for her when they first met to today when “her smile still makes the birds forget to sing.”

The political poems show us Carter’s deep compassion for people and his strong sense of righteousness and justice, which he never stopped working for, even after his presidency.

Mary – Youth Services

thedoorThe Door by Margaret Atwood, Nonfiction 811.54 Atw

Margaret Atwood’s poems are small, lyrical masterpieces. With minimalistic words and cadence, she can make epics from everyday experiences, such as gardening to watching a young girl sprint down a wooded path. This specific poetry collection includes a CD-Rom, where you can hear Atwood read the highlighted poems of this collection.

carol

Carol starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Sarah Paulson, New DVD Carol

Patricia Highsmith is usually heralded for her mystery novels, such as Strangers on a Train. But also within her writing canon is a tender, yet explosive story of two women falling in love in the 1950’s. Like the original book, Carol as a film adaptation is set in a pre-Stonewall era America, where being gay is not openly discussed within society, and it is also a prosecutable crime. This backdrop of social restraint, combined with contrasting 50’s glamour aesthetic, is the world director Todd Haynes carefully creates in this cinematographically elegant film. The story itself begins with the meeting of two women. Therese Belivet wants to be a photographer, but has taken up a job at a department store, in a toy section. Carol Aird, a recent divorcee, meets Therese at this department store when she is looking for a toy for her daughter. Their connection and attraction is immediate. With a highly nuanced, no-nonsense script by playwright and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, this film shines as it delves into the harsher realities of the human psyche and obsession. With unforgettable performances by Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Sarah Paulson, this film brings light to a world of women who lived in the 1950’s and were forced by an unforgiving society to make their own way, and search for joy, rooted at the centers of themselves.

Brigitte – Circulation

brooklyn99Brooklyn Nine-Nine starring Andy Samberg, New DVD Brooklyn, Seasons One and Two

If you feel like staying in on a rainy weekend this April, consider renting Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is not your typical sitcom; it’s also not your typical cop show that relies on the gore of a more mainstream police show like Law and Order or Dexter. Watch as Detective Jake Peralta, played by Andy Samberg, tracks down bad guys with his coworkers Terry and Boyle while still being an unrepentant goofball. His best friend Gina, the office administrator, marches to the beat of her own drum while the stoic Captain Holt fires off one-liners faster than he can draw his gun. This show is a light-hearted look at a police precinct that will be sure to keep you laughing!

janethevirginJane the Virgin starring Gina Rodriguez, New DVD Jane, Season 1

Jane the Virgin is an adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela about a pregnant virgin and the antics that surround her pregnancy and family life. Jane is a smart and driven college student who is accidentally impregnated when she goes for a routine check-up. It sounds crazy – because it is, but what is crazier is how Jane reacts to this impossible situation – she decides to keep the baby. This comedy is sure to keep you on your toes and laughing the entire time. If you’ve never seen a telenovela before, this is a great introduction to a new genre for you!

Hubbell – Circulation

pathbetweenseasThe Path Between the Seas by David McCullough, Nonfiction 972.87 McC

One of McCullough’s first books, The Path Between the Seas tells the complete story of the greatest engineering feat of the 20th century, the construction of the Panama Canal. The canal took more than 40 years to complete from the first breaking of ground to the first ship to pass through it. This account explains the first attempt made by the French entrepreneur Ferdinand de Lesseps, which ultimately failed and exposed deep corruption in the canal company and the French government. Then, the book takes us through the American takeover of the failed project, which ultimately changed the world forever.

underaloneUnder and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America’s Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang by William Queen, Nonfiction 921 Queen

William Queen is a retired ATF agent and Vietnam veteran who managed to infiltrate one of the most prominent outlaw motorcycle gangs in the country, California’s Mongols. Queen’s first person account of his time as a undercover ATF operative is gripping and real. Not only did he manage to gain full “patch” status within the club, he even rose to the ranks of treasurer and vice president of his major local chapter in California. If you liked Sons of Anarchy, you will like this first-hand account of outlaw motorcycle gangs.

fargoseason1Fargo, Season One starring Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton, DVD Fargo, Season One

Fargo, the TV series, is a re-imagination of the classic 1995 film of the same name and has the same dark themes set against the peaceful background of the upper Midwest. Following a chance encounter and an awkward murder for hire, the story devolves into a dark humor tale of revenge and fatal misdirection. The series was critically acclaimed widely and stars Martin Freeman (of Sherlock) and Billy Bob Thornton.

Dagmar – Circulation

grownupThe Grownup by Gillian Flynn, New Fiction Flynn

The Grownup is a very witty new book by Gillian Flynn, the author of other popular books, such as Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects. If you like her clever fiction, thrillers, suspense, and ghost stories, this is your book to read. The book is so engaging that you may not be able to put it down (I was not able to), but the good news is that the book consists of only 62 pages, so you may be able to get through it quickly in one reading (I did). It is a story of an unnamed young woman, who is trying to survive by “various levels of mostly harmless fraud.” She works, among other things, as an intuitive psychic at Spiritual Palms. They call her Nerdy because she wears glasses, reads books, and eats yogurt for lunch. She is not really a nerd; she only aspires to be one. She is a high school dropout who reads constantly, but lacks formal education, so she is left with the feeling that she is smarter than people around her, but not as smart as “really smart people who went to universities, drank wine, and spoke Latin.” Her life is about to change one rainy April morning when Susan Burke walks in for an aura reading. The “psychic” makes her predictions based mostly by being a keen and shrewd observer of human behavior. Therefore, when she sees the beautiful Susan Burke, she diagnosis her as an unhappy woman eager for a change in her life. However, when the “psychic” visits the Victorian house that is the source of Susan’s unhappiness and grief, she realizes that she may start believing in the ghosts herself. Miles, Susan’s stepson, does all he can do to help to fuel this imagination. The story takes many unexpected twists and turns and the result is wickedly funny, clever, and humorous book to read.

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March

March2016coverIt’s March! Spring is just around the corner. In the meantime, enjoy the recommended titles below.

 

 

Sue – Circulation

goodnightmrwodehouseGood Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan, New Fiction Sullivan

This sweeping novel opens in 1900 and tells the life story of Nell Stillman and her family and friends living in the small town of Harvester, Minnesota. Nell is left reeling when her husband dies suddenly, leaving her with an infant son. Through the kindness of the Lundeen family, wealthy locals who own several businesses, Nell gets hired as a schoolteacher and so is able to support her son Hilly and hire a cousin, Elvira, to care for him while she teaches. Nell becomes great friends with the Lundeens and their son and daughter-in-law and becomes a mother figure to Elvira. Over the course of several decades (the novel closes in 1961), we see small town life through Nell’s eyes. Nell is a kind-hearted and resilient heroine who faces life’s ups and downs with grace. She suffers the loss of friends and her one great love, suffers slights due to malicious gossip, and sees her son return from WWI with a broken mind, but throughout her life, her friends are there for her and make her life whole and rewarding. The book is really a celebration of friendship, specifically life-long friendships and how they enrich our lives. It also celebrates the power of reading and how books can help us through rough times, take us to places we’d otherwise never know, and broaden our minds and hearts. In the book, Nell falls in love with the works of P.G. Wodehouse and turns to him to lift her spirits. As a huge fan of P.G. Wodehouse myself, it tickles me that Faith Sullivan has found a way to honor one of her favorite authors through her fiction.

brokenwheelThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, New Fiction Bivald

Amy and Sara are pen pals, bonded by their love of books. Amy lives in a small town in Iowa and Sara lives in Sweden. Sara comes for a planned two-month visit to find that Amy has passed away. So what is Sara to do? The rest of the townspeople insist that Sara remain and stay in Amy’s house. The town is very small and it was hit hard by the economic recession, so people are struggling, but everyone is welcoming to Sara, not letting her pay for anything and making her feel like she belongs. Sara decides to take Amy’s books (she had thousands of them) and use her closed shop to open a bookstore as a way to give back to the community by sharing Amy’s books with them. (Though Amy has already passed when the novel opens, we get to know her through her letters to Sara, interspersed throughout the book). Sara turns out to be a fabulous book seller – she can find just the right book for any person. The town and its residents slowly start to come back to life as they get involved with Sara and the bookstore. But what will happen when her visa expires? Ultimately, this is a book about community and belonging. Filled with memorable, quirky characters, a sweet love story, and numerous book references, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a warm and satisfying read. All the books mentioned in the novel are listed at the end, so it is also a great resource for finding books to read that you may have missed.

endeavourEndeavour starring Shaun Evans and Roger Allam, New DVD Endeavour, Series 1 and 2

Endeavour is a British detective series based on the Inspector Morse series that ran from 1987 to 2000 and starred the late John Thaw as Morse, a detective with the Oxford police. This series explores Morse as a young man just getting started in his detective career. Morse was famous for his curmudgeonly ways, his short temper, his love of beer, opera, and crossword puzzles, and his great skills as a detective. It is fun for fans of Inspector Morse to see the origins of the John Thaw Morse two decades earlier. Among other things, we see how his love of beer developed and get a glimpse of his famous red sports car. The show is set in Oxford in the mid-1960’s when Morse, played by Shaun Evans, joins the Oxford police as a detective constable after being promoted from a uniformed constable. The young Morse is solitary and reflective with a great mind, but not great social skills. Roger Allam co-stars as Morse’s boss, DI Fred Thursday, and his character is wonderful – a good and kind-hearted family man who sees Morse’s brilliance, supports his growth, and backs him against others in the force who resent Morse for his quick rise and superior brain. The two have a strong relationship and Allam’s performance is outstanding. Each episode solves a new case – the cases are normally quite complex and involved. The series has aired for three seasons and a fourth season has been ordered.

Dagmar – Circulation

strangerheremyselfI’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away by Bill Bryson, Nonfiction 973.92 Bry

An Anglo-American author, Bill Bryson, who is known for his humorous books on travel (A Walk in the Woods, etc.) has a new book out, called The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain, which is, of course, about his travels in England. The book is now available in our library. I have not read his new book yet, but I read and liked many others he has written. My personal favorite Bryson book is I Am a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away. Bryson once joked that there are three things in life which you can’t do: you can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you unless he is ready to see you, and you can’t go home again. Yet, after living in Britain for two decades, he moved back to the States in 1995 with his English wife and four children. He had left as a youth and was returning in his middle age. He settled in Hanover, New Hampshire, and found himself in charge of an old house in New England. There he started to discover that, at times, he was being mildly foolish and out of touch. He puzzled over ATM machines, automated gas pumps, and phones. Many good things about America for him were a bit of a novelty, such as the conveniences of daily life, the abundance of absolutely everything, the friendliness of waitresses, the wondrous, unfillable vastness of an American basement, the notion that ice is not a luxury item, and the notion that rooms can have more than one electrical outlet. He marveled at the fact that a letter from England addressed to “Mr. Bill Bryson, Author of A Walk in the Woods, Lives Somewhere in New Hampshire, America” was delivered to him just five days after it was mailed. He congratulated the U.S. Postal Service for this unassailable triumph. Bryson discovered that you indeed can go home again. The result is this extended, if often bemused, love letter to his homeland.

learningtodriveLearning to Drive starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley, New DVD Learning

Learning to Drive is a delightful film about an unlikely friendship that develops between two people in New York from very different walks of life. Wendy is a successful book editor and critic who is in a lot of emotional turmoil because her husband has just left her. She has to make a lot of adjustments to her new life and one of them is that she has to learn how to drive if she wants to (among other things) visit her daughter in Vermont. She hires Darwan, a gentle Indian driving instructor, and a former college professor on the brink of an arranged marriage, to teach her how to drive. That, as it turns out, is not always an easy task. In the process, they learn valuable lessons about life, friendship, and relationships.

Theresa – Youth Services

deathatprioryDeath at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick, Nonfiction 364.152 Rud

When Florence Ricardo, a beautiful widow, married successful attorney Charles Bravo, she quickly found out what an awful man he really was. After taking ill one evening, Bravo died an agonizing death later determined to be caused by poisoning. Florence, of course, became a suspect, along with a cast of characters including her lover and her companion and housekeeper, as well as a disgruntled former employee. This case was the talk of the day. Being a true story, the author pieced together newspaper articles and court testimony. The case was never solved due to lack of evidence, but the author leads the reader to conclude that there is only one person who could have committed the crime. This book gives a true depiction of how women in this era had few rights, even when it came to matters over their own bodies. They had to secretly take it upon themselves to deal with their personal miseries in whatever ways possible.

This is a must-read if you enjoyed Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson and/or Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul by Karen Abbott.

Michelle – Administration

nflconfidentialNFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football by Johnny Anonymous, New Nonfiction 796.332 Ano

I was attracted to this book by its promise to show the reader what the NFL is really like behind the scenes. It doesn’t quite deliver on its promise – most of the “confidential” parts are pretty well-known. However, Johnny Anonymous provides an interesting look at a season in his career as a third-string player. The writing is quick, witty, and fun to read – just don’t expect any earth-shattering revelations!

Hubbell – Circulation

mrrobotMr. Robot starring Rami Malek, New DVD Mr. Robot, Season 1

Starring Rami Malek, Christian Slater, and others, Mr. Robot was one of the best shows of 2015. It tells the story of Elliot, who is a cyber-security analyst by day and an anonymous activist hacker by night. But he is troubled by inner demons, hallucinations, and social pressures. Mr. Robot is a gripping social commentary on greed and economic inequality.

forensicsForensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid, Nonfiction 363.25 McD

Author Val McDermid is an experienced crime fiction writer; this is her second non-fiction work. It takes a detailed look at the history of forensic science, including arson and insect and pathological forensics. The history is explained through real-life crime synopses, making for a thrilling and informative read.

17761776 by David McCullough, Nonfiction 973.3 McC

1776 is an incredibly well-researched history of the most formative year in the country’s history. The first year of combat in the War for Independence was a rough one for Washington and the Continental Army. McCullough’s work, which stands out from other Revolutionary War histories, concentrates on the military personalities and events during 1776. It is as inspiring as it is interesting.

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