February

groundhogIt’s February. The end of winter is in sight (think positive!) Here are some suggested titles for reading on snowy winter nights.

 

 

Melissa – Reference

wewereliarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart, YA Lockhart

A wealthy family is forced to come to terms with its inner ugliness as four young cousins refuse to play the “money game”, pitting themselves against each other for inheritance money. Lockhart contrasts the innocent idealism of youth alongside grave naiveté.


wildtruthThe Wild Truth
by Carine McCandless, New 921 McCandless

For anyone who has read or seen Into the Wild, Carine is Chris’s sister and here she offers more insight into why a young man with a bright future ahead of him would suddenly abandon his family and all his worldly possessions. What Carine tells us is that the picture painted by Jon Krakauer (author of Into the Wild) did at all resemble the truth of Chris’s childhood. It’s an important reminder about knowing a person’s history before judging his/her character.

Sue – Circulation

whenworldyoungWhen the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney, New Fiction Gaffney

This is a coming-of-age story set in post World War II Brooklyn. It tells the story of Wally, who is 9 years old when the book opens in 1945 on V-J Day. Wally’s father is serving in the Navy. Her little brother passed away tragically two years prior of illness. Her glamorous mother, Stella, has returned to doctoring and Wally misses spending time with her. She bonds with Mr. Niederman, a mathematician boarding with the family while he does war work for the government. Wally has mostly been raised by Loretta, her grandmother’s black maid who also helped to raise Stella. Wally is not a typical girl, but a tomboy who is fascinated by ants. Her best friend is Loretta’s son Ham, a few years Wally’s senior. The book follows Wally from 1945 through college-age. A personal tragedy befalls Wally on V-J Day and the book revolves around the lead-up to that event and the repercussions on Wally and other’s lives. We see Wally grow and mature as the novel moves forward in time and how political, racial, and world events of the time deeply impact her life and decisions, as well as other central characters in the book. A powerful and realistic family drama with strong characters set in a fascinating time in American history.

deliciousDelicious! by Ruth Reichl, New Fiction Reichl

Billie has just moved to New York City from California. She is an excellent chef, but for undisclosed reasons, she doesn’t want to cook. Instead, she gets a job at Delicious! magazine responding to customer questions and complaints. She enjoys the job and makes friends with her co-workers. But then the magazine ceases publication and everyone is let go except her. She is being kept on temporarily to continue to assist customers. The book really takes off and gets interesting when Billie, working alone in the building, comes upon a cache of old letters hidden in the library. She is particularly intrigued by a series of letters between a 12-year-old girl named Lulu and the famous chef James Beard written in the 1940s during World War II. After reading the final letter, Billie is compelled to try and find Lulu, and possibly write an article about the letters. Throughout her adventure, we learn more about Billie’s life in California and the personal tragedy that sent her to New York and turned her away from cooking. Billie’s life and Lulu’s life parallel each other in that both suffered major losses, Billie in her recent past and Lulu in her distant past. Billie, through reading about Lulu’s journey, finds the strength to come to terms with her past and make a new life for herself. A satisfying, warm-hearted story.

dustbowlThe Dust Bowl, a film by Ken Burns, narrated by Peter Coyote, DVD 973.91 Dust

The Dust Bowl is a Ken Burns documentary. Four hours in length, it chronicles the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history that lasted almost a decade. Using interviews with people who lived through it, photographs, and video footage, it does a fine job of explaining the causes of the Dust Bowl, including drought and improper farming methods that led to soil depletion and erosion, and the reasons for its end, including actions taken by the FDR Administration to improve farming methods and soil conservation techniques, in combination with improved weather conditions and more rain. The video footage of the dust storms is really frightening. The dust was so thick it would black out the sun. The film also shows how FDR took action to help the farmers after the failure of the Hoover Administration to do so. The personal stories are very moving and you realize the bravery of the people who faced such hardship and loss.

Corky – Circulation

castleCastle, starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, DVD Castle Seasons 1-6

I loved Castle from the first day that I saw it in 2008. (Has it been that long?) The TV series features Nathan Fillion as Rick Castle, a famous crime novelist, who is paired up with Detective Kate Becket, Stana Katic, to solve homicides for the NYPD. This reminds me of Moonlighting with its quick dialog, witty banter, and physical attraction between these two who do not necessarily want to work together.

While Rick Castle is assisting the NYPD investigate a copycat serial killer who is following the plot of Castle’s books, he decides to kill off his main character and create a new one named Nikki Heat, based on, who else, but Det. Kate Beckett. Castle plays poker with the mayor, and producer Stephen J. Cannell and author James Patterson (who play themselves in the series) and pulls strings to shadow Det. Kate Beckett for writing inspiration. Castle adds humor by his unique way of looking at crimes and facial expressions. I am recommending Season 1, but all of the six seasons are worth watching.

Mary – Youth Services

brieferhistoryA Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking with Leonard Mlodinow, Nonfiction 523.1 Haw

Recent films such as The Theory of Everything (based on the life of Stephen Hawking) and The Imitation Game (based on the life of mathematician Alan Turing) have both been successful in popularizing great minds in math and science. If you are more curious, however, about the true work of these individuals, I would highly recommend looking into both Hawking and Turing’s non-fiction works. In the case of Stephen Hawking, his most accessible work of popularized non-fiction science is arguably A Briefer History of Time. Based off an earlier work, A Brief History of Time, this “briefer” version (as the title would suggest) takes the original, ground-breaking physics book and helps make its material more approachable for the non-astrophysicist. By utilizing well-designed illustrations, A Briefer History of Time, in a digestible way, breaks down concepts of time, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, space-time, and what would happen to you if you were sucked into a black hole…among other mind-blowing facts about our universe that, if you know them, are sure to make you popular at parties. (Well, the ones worth going to, anyway.)

throughthewoodsThrough the Woods by Emily Carroll, New YA Graphic Carroll

Dark, unsettling, and with all the menacing charm of a Grimm fairy tale, Emily Carroll has created one of the most elegant graphic novels of 2014. In five short stories, Through the Woods contains fairy tale-like stories that even I thought were genuinely chilling. This book is indescribable, and fans of graphic novel will be sure to be awed by Through the Woods’ truly unique and eerie illustration style.

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January

JanuarycoverWelcome to 2015! Start off the year with some good books!

 

 

Chris – Technical Services

700sundaysBilly Crystal 700 Sundays, New DVD 792.7028 Billy Crystal

Based on his one-man Broadway show, this HBO comedy special will fill you with laughter, but more-so with tears – of joy and sorrow as he recounts the people and influences in his life that made him what he is today.

 

peopleuncountedA People Uncounted: The Untold Story of the Roma, New DVD 909.049 People Uncounted

For those interested in WWII history or the Holocaust this is an excellent film, but difficult to watch. A heartbreaking story of the people we call “gypsies” in Europe during the Holocaust in WWII and their continued marginalization.

 

Jacob – Circulation

borntorunBorn to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall, Nonfiction 796.425 McD

Christopher McDougall was constantly getting injured while running. While researching relief for his foot ailments, he came across a tribe of Indians who live in Mexico’s Copper Canyons and enjoy running hundreds of miles without stopping or getting injured. Interested in discovering this tribe’s secrets and how ultra-marathon runners push their bodies to the limits, Christopher McDougall takes the reader from Harvard science labs to the hot, unforgiving canyons of Mexico. This interesting book takes a close look at what it takes to run and how deep down we are all capable of running great distances. Christopher McDougall is an award-winning journalist and writes a great narrative that is uplifting as much as informational.

Skyskyjackjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper by Geoffrey Gray, Nonfiction 364.1552 Gray

This book investigates the infamous case of a man who boarded a Northwest Orient flight in 1971, exhorted $200,000 from the airline, and then parachuted out of the plane over the Pacific Northwest to never be heard from again. Taking a look at never before seen FBI files and discovering possible new clues, Geoffrey Gray reworks the case, making sure to highlight the various scenarios and suspects. This book keeps the reader guessing and wondering if maybe after all these years the mystery will be solved.

Sue – Circulation

docmartinDoc Martin, starring Martin Clunes, DVD Doc, Series 1-6

This is a PBS series about a curmudgeonly London vascular surgeon named Martin who develops a phobia of blood and has to give up surgery. He moves to a small village in Cornwall where his aunt lives and he spent summers as a child to become the local general practitioner. His brusque manner does not go well with the local residents. The show is populated by colorful characters, including the local plumber and his son, the doctor’s receptionist, the village police officer, and a lovely school teacher named Louisa for whom Martin develops romantic feelings. The show is funny and entertaining and the Cornwall landscape is magnificent. It even has a big, lovable dog to top it all off. Season 7 will be filmed in 2015.

ajThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, New Fiction Zevin

This feel-good book begins with bookstore owner A.J. slowly drinking himself to death after losing his wife suddenly in a car accident. On top of his grief for his wife, a rare and valuable copy of a collection of poems by Edgar Allan Poe that A.J. was counting on to get him through declining sales at his store is stolen. A.J.’s life turns around when a two-year-old child is left abandoned in his bookstore shortly after the robbery. A.J. cares for the child, Maya, while social services is sorting things out and ends up falling in love with her and adopting her. Maya reinvigorates A.J.’s life, giving him a reason to live again and bringing new people and experiences into his life. A quick read that tells a lovely story of renewal, not only for A.J., but also others in his life, including his sister-in-law, suffering in a loveless marriage to an unfaithful husband, the local police chief, lonely like A.J., and Amelia, a publishing representative who visits A.J. a couple times a year to sell him books for the store, whom A.J. finds himself attracted to despite getting off on the wrong foot with her on her first visit.

LewisInspector Lewis, starring Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox, New DVD Inspector, Series 1-7

A spin-off of the BBC detective series Inspector Morse, this series follows Robbie Lewis, former sergeant to John Thaw’s Morse. Robbie lost his wife in a tragic hit-and-run and took some time away from the force. He now returns, promoted to detective inspector with a new sergeant named James Hathaway, solving crimes for the Oxfordshire police as he mourns his loss and rebuilds his life. Robbie and James are both complex characters and their relationship grows and deepens as the series goes on. In addition to excellent character development, the series also presents the viewer with intelligent, compelling mysteries. Entertaining and well-made, this is the kind of quality show you expect from the BBC. The show was cancelled after six seasons, but was then brought back for a seventh season. An eighth season has been announced and will be filmed in summer 2015.

Mary – Youth Services

savingmrbanksSaving Mr. Banks, starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, DVD Saving

Author P.L. Travers is low on cash, luck, and morale when she is contacted by Walt Disney for the rights to her most beloved children’s book character, Mary Poppins. With great reluctance, she decides to go to Walt Disney’s studios to oversee the creation of her children’s book as it enters the film world. Emma Thompson plays a wonderfully complex and moving portrait of an author who writes for the very same reason Mary Poppins comes to the Banks family: not to change lives of children, but rather, the adults who influence their world.

smokeinyoureyesSmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty, Nonfiction 363.75 Dou

Creator of the unexpectedly hilarious and poignant web series Ask a Mortician, Caitlin Doughty is a crematory operator and champion of the alternative death practice in the United States. If you ever wondered what life is like for those who take care of our dead, there is no greater place to look that Caitlin’s videos and writings. In her memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, she chronicles her experiences at Westwind Crematorium, and her growth as a person, yielding pathos far beyond her years. (Also, if you are worried this topic sounds morbid, rest assured—she. is. hilarious.)

awesomewaveAn Awesome Wave by Alt-J, CD 781.66 Alt-J

An album that is sure to stand the test of time for its original sound, An Awesome Wave is the product of the indie British band Alt-J. It is quite hard to describe the atmosphere this music creates, but it is largely unique due to the vocals of Joe Newman. Lovely, melodic, and mellow; Alt-J is a group that defies categorization.

Corky – Circulation

oneforthemoneyOne for the Money by Janet Evanovich, Fiction Evanovich

In 1994, Janet Evanovich came out with One for the Money, the first book in her Stephanie Plum series. Before that, she had been a romance writer and since I was involved with Romance Writers of America, my friends and I planned to go to a book signing at Anderson’s in Naperville and afterwards take Janet out to dinner. (We lucked out; her publisher, Harper Collins, picked up the tab.) During that dinner, I learned about what went into the making of this new series. Janet spent two years researching this book: drinking beer with law enforcement types, learning to shoot, and practicing cussing. At the end of those years, she created Stephanie Plum, the heroine of this book, not exactly biographical, but according to Janet, “You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take Jersey out of the girl.”Janet’s research must have paid off. Each year for the last 20 years her latest book is a New York Times best-seller. Why has the series been so successful? I think it’s the characters, who are quirky and funny. Stephanie Plum, an out of work lingerie buyer, is also out of money. In the opening pages of the book, her car is repoed and her refrigerator is empty. I love it when the heroine starts at rock bottom – I always try to guess what I would do in that situation. Duh, get a job. So Stephanie blackmails her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a try as a bounty hunter. Her first job is to track down an accused murderer and a cop and bring him to the police station. She has absolutely no skills to do this job. One for the Money is witty, fresh, full of surprises, and makes me laugh out loud.

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December

snowmanDecember is here! Time for making snowmen, drinking hot cocoa, and celebrating the holidays with our loved ones. Below are some suggested titles for you this month.

 

Corky – Circulation

Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook by Debbie Macomber, Nonfiction 641.568 Mac

christmascookbookThis is a Christmas cookbook, but it is so much more. It has the most gorgeous pictures, clear, crisp with vibrant colors. I could have just looked at it and been perfectly happy. On to the recipes: about one hundred from appetizers to Christmas breakfast, lunch, dinner, and finally desserts. The recipes are simple with not a lot of ingredients and easy to make. I tried the Cranberry Walnut Cobbler. It said it took five minutes. It did. I took the dessert to a party, where it was in competition with chocolate cupcakes. The cobbler disappeared.

Debbie Macomber must love the Christmas holidays. She shares family stories and traditions, memories and observations. She includes crafts and decorating ideas, wrapping tips, and again beautiful pictures of all of these. This book is warm, inviting, and did I say it has beautiful pictures.

Sue – Circulation

guernseyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, Fiction Shaffer

Set in 1946 and told entirely through letters sent back and forth among the characters, this book tells the story of a London author named Juliet looking for her next topic for a book who receives a letter from a man named Dawsey in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands located in the English Channel off the coast of France that was occupied by the Germans during World War II. After the first letter, Juliet and Dawsey continue their correspondence and then other residents of the island begin to write to Juliet as well. They describe to her how their book club, named the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, was founded and share their stories of life on the island during the Occupation. Through their letters, Juliet learns about the residents and the hardships they faced during the war years. She decides to write about Guernsey and visits the island to meet all the people she’s grown to care for through their letters. This book is a joy to read. It is charming and full of life, with wonderful, vivid characters that draw you in and a positive, uplifting tone. Guernsey circa 1946 is a place you would like to visit filled with people you would like to know.

roseofsebastopolThe Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon, Fiction McMahon

This historical novel follows two upper-class English cousins with opposite personalities during the Crimean War in the 1850s. Obedient, meek Mariella always follows the rules while strong-willed, determined Rosa is always pushing boundaries. It is Rosa’s dream to be a nurse. Against her family’s wishes, she follows Florence Nightingale to Russia, where her stepbrother Max is an officer in the British Army. Meanwhile, Mariella’s fiance Henry, a celebrated surgeon, also heads to Russia to assist with setting up hospitals for the wounded. At first, Rosa writes home, but then her family loses touch with her. When Mariella gets a message that Henry is very ill, she decides she must travel to the Crimea to see him. Upon seeing Henry, Mariella is devastated to learn that he has apparently betrayed her. She also discovers that Rosa is missing. Already reeling from the shock she received upon being reunited with Henry, Mariella must now embark upon a search for Rosa. Her sheltered life has not prepared her for the horrors of war and illness and she is shocked by what she sees as she tracks Rosa. At first, she is reluctant to continue and just wants to go home. But when she is forced to stay, her journey across the Crimea also becomes a journey of self-discovery and we see her grow into herself and become a stronger, better person. The book has an exciting plot with a look at the devastation of war and how people can rise to become more than they thought they could be under trying circumstances.

lasttangoLast Tango in Halifax, starring Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, CD Last, Series 1 and 2

This British PBS series tells the story of Celia and Alan, two people in their 70s who were in love as teenagers, but then were separated when Celia’s family moved away. Now 60 years later, both widowed, they reunite. They are blissfully happy together, but each has a daughter and both their children’s lives are a mess. A delightful series following Celia, Alan, and their respective families. Celia and Alan are a charming couple and the supporting characters and plot lines are very entertaining with both humor and drama. The series has been renewed for a third season.

Mary – Youth Services

truediaryThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, YA Alexie and YA CD Alexie (audiobook)

A deserving National Book Award winner, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is one of the best young adult books ever written. It follows Junior: a teenager, budding cartoonist, and a Spokane Indian, who lives on a reservation in Washington. The story revolves around Junior’s decision to leave his reservation, in what is, at first, a mission to have a better education. Heart-breaking, wildly hilarious, and always smart, this story is sure to stay with me for some time. Be sure to check out the audiobook, because Sherman Alexie’s story-telling voice is phenomenal.

sherlockholmesThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Fiction Doyle

Nowhere else can you have within the span of 200 pages a mystery involving a goose who swallowed a gem, all the way up to a father pretending to be his daughter’s suitor, to ward off a potential mate at a Victorian dance. (But so it goes in the world of Sherlock Holmes.) You are sure to have seen an adaptation of the original Holmes stories, but the canonical tales of the detective and his companion, Dr. John Watson, are always a delightful world to return to. Case after case, client after client, the stories of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are never boring, and highlight the extraordinary hiding under the seemingly ordinary lives of those around us.

Michelle – Administration

snowpiercerSnowpiercer, starring Chris Evans, John Hurt, Ed Harris, and Tilda Swinton, New DVD Snowpiercer

This movie is a great futuristic thriller that provides a very interesting look into the class system. There are many twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end. The movie was written and directed by Joon-ho Bong.

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November

novemberIt’s November. Winter is on the way. Enjoy the last days of fall and be thankful for books!

 

 

Linda – Technical Services

lockinLock In by John Scalzi, New Fiction Scalzi

If you’re worrying about Ebola and identity theft, read John Scalzi’s new book for a whole new outlook on these popular 21st Century anxieties. Lock In takes place not too far in the future where a new flu has left some of its victims locked inside their own heads. Computer networks and carbon-fiber technology have created a new breed of humans who live and work along with their biological brothers, but there are huge amounts of money to be made. And there are hackers for sale.

This is classic science fiction, enhanced by Scalzi’s deft characterization and intelligent plotting. Another plus, by reading carefully I was (almost) able to understand the computer stuff, which made me feel smart. So read the book. You’ll feel good about it.

Sue – Circulation

seagardenThe Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson, New Fiction Lawrenson

This mysterious, atmospheric novel interweaves the stories of three women, two who lived during World War II and were active in the French Resistance and one who lives in the present. The book opens in the present as Ellie, an English landscape designer, travels to an island off the coast of France to restore a memorial garden on an estate owned by a man and his elderly mother. The mother’s behavior is erratic and disturbing and Ellie feels unwelcome and even threatened and decides to pass on the job and makes plans to leave. The book then takes us back in time to the war and the efforts of British and French agents in the Resistance movement in France. It follows Marthe, a young blind woman in occupied France who works at a perfumery and discovers that her employers are leaders in the Resistance, and Iris, a British intelligence officer in London who becomes romantically involved with a Frenchman working on behalf of the Allies. As the book unfolds, we discover how the lives of these three women are connected and how the events of the war still reverberate decades later. An exciting story of love, sacrifice, and bravery, as well as the difficult choices that must be made during a time of war amidst confusion and uncertainty.

landofsteadyThe Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson, Fiction Thompson

Sixty years old, with two grown sons, Anders decides he needs to make a change in his life, so he retires from his job, leaves his wife, Helene, and buys a condo. Anders spent his whole life following the rules – working hard, supporting his family – but now he feels like he missed out, spending his life doing what he had to do and not what he wanted to do. Living in a Connecticut suburb, he commuted to the city each day for his job in finance, in which he witnessed corporate greed that has left him disgusted with his former career. His children are a disappointment to him: his older son is a boring corporate drone and his younger son an unemployed wastrel. During his first Christmas since his divorce, he receives an invitation to a party given by his former neighbors. He attended this party for years with his wife. They are really her friends, but he decides to go to the party anyway and it is a disaster. He discovers that Helene is now living with his former college roommate in their marital home. Seeing her doing so well and apparently over him makes him wonder if he made the right decision. Also while at the party, he throws his normal cautious nature to the wind and does drugs with Charlie, the son of the hosts of the party. This action sets off a chain of events that will deeply affect Anders as well as his wayward younger son Preston. Both funny and sad, the book is filled with characters that are neither good nor bad: they feel like real people just struggling to do their best and make sense of their lives. Although I didn’t always agree with the decisions Anders made, especially one near the end of the book, he was a sympathetic character to me – I felt for him and rooted for him to find happiness. I was pleased with the ending.

casehistoriesCase Histories, starring Jason Isaacs, DVD Case Histories, Series 1 and 2

Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, this mystery series revolves around Jackson Brodie, a former soldier and police detective, who is now a private detective. Jackson is divorced with a young daughter. He had a tragic childhood, losing his sister and then his brother in acts of violence that have left him psychologically scarred. Jackson is tough, but with a tender heart. He is more interested in seeing justice done than always following the letter of the law, so private detection suits him, as it gives him more leeway than the police. He is an excellent detective because he knows how to read people. The story lines focus more on the relationships among the characters than police procedure. Jackson does, however, frequently call on his former partner in the police force, Louise, in order to get access to police databases. He and Louise have an intense relationship, with unresolved sexual tension between them. She is often exasperated by his unorthodox methods, but has great respect for him. Jackson takes on all sorts of cases, from lost cats to trailing spouses suspected of adultery to murder investigations. Although Jackson sometimes skirts the law, he is a decent man with a strong code of ethics. Isaacs gives a nuanced performance, showing Jackson’s strength and his tenderness. The cases are all interesting with well-drawn characters. I also love the soundtrack to this series. Gritty, soulful rock/folk ballads add to the emotional intensity of the show.

Corky – Circulation

madbadMad, Bad, and Blonde by Cathie Linz, Fiction Linz

When Faith West, a children’s librarian, is jilted at the altar via a text saying her fiance wants adventure and excitement, but not her, she gets mad. Faith goes on her scheduled Italian honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast alone, but doesn’t stay that way for long. She meets Caine Hunter, an ex-Marine, and the sparks fly. (She is oh so bad.) But when Faith finds out Caine lied to her, she doesn’t put up with it, dyes her hair blonde, and the romance is on.

Cathie Linz, a local author, writes a light, funny book with clever dialogue and characters that are both quirky and memorable. This is a steamy romance with a stormy relationship and some suspense thrown in with twists and turns. Mad, Bad, and Blonde is a cute and fun contemporary romance.

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October

puppyoctOctober is here! Time for raking leaves, bonfires in the evenings, and trick or treating. Below are some suggested titles for you to check out this month.

 

Corky – Circulation

carolinamanCarolina Man by Virginia Kantra, Fiction Kantra

The Carolina Man is Luke, a Marine who is determined to do his duty to his country, to the Marines and, now, to a ten-year-old daughter that he’s never met or even known about. Kate, the heroine, is a former military brat who knows firsthand that a Marine can make a lousy father and is not keen on giving her heart to someone who will soon deploy. This romance is filled with everything one would expect in a romance: Luke, the hero who sounds and acts like a Marine with a large, loving, supportive family; Kate, the strong heroine who helps everyone but herself; and a ten-year-old child, Taylor, who in every way is a ten-year-old girl. Add in a small town atmosphere, dogs, cats, and puppies and one has the makings of a heart-warming romance. Although this book is the third book in the trilogy, it’s easy to follow. Oh, and don’t forget the happy ending.

Sue – Circulation

allthelightAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, New Fiction Doerr

This beautifully written book opens in Saint Malo, France in August of 1944 as the Allies are bombing the city. Trapped in the city are two people – 16-year-old Marie-Laure, blind and alone in her uncle’s house, and 18-year-old Werner, a German radio expert tormented by the suffering the war has caused and his role in it. The book then goes back in time to show us what led up to this moment. In alternating chapters, we learn Marie-Laure’s history and Werner’s history. How the stories of these two young people on opposite sides of the war converge in the midst of the burning of the city makes for an exciting and moving story. The book is filled with mesmerizing language and it shows the devastation of war and how it changes everything, how the lives of the characters in the book could have followed a different path were it not for the war.

haroldfryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, Fiction Joyce

When Harold gets a letter from a woman he hasn’t seen in 20 years informing him that she has cancer, at first he writes her a letter expressing his sympathy. But when he walks to the mailbox to post the letter, he just keeps on walking. The woman, Queenie, made a sacrifice for him 20 years ago and he never even thanked her. A letter just isn’t enough. But she is in the north of England, near the Scottish border, while he is on the southern coast, a distance of some 600 hundred miles. Harold decides that by walking to her, he can save her. As he continues his walk, it takes on deeper significance. He is walking for Queenie, but he is also walking to atone for the mistakes he made in his past, mistakes that have led to an empty marriage where there used to be love and estrangement from his son. Harold feels like he is doing something that matters for the first time in his life and it transforms him. Meanwhile, his wife at home is also experiencing revelations about their life together and regretting mistakes of her own, which leads to a reawakening for her as well. This is a poignant novel, about healing over past hurts, letting go of regret, and making new beginnings.

rosemaryRosemary and Thyme, DVD Rosemary, Seasons 1-3

If you like to garden and enjoy watching British mystery shows, this series is perfect for you. Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme are two women going through major changes in their lives. Rosemary has lost her job as a professor of horticulture and Laura has been left by her husband of almost 30 years for a younger woman. The two team up and start their own landscaping business. Laura is a former police officer, with a son who is also a police officer, and Rosemary is very observant and inquisitive. These qualities lead the two into solving mysteries they encounter while working on gardening jobs. The show is fun and the mysteries are entertaining while not being too heavy or dark. Rosemary and Laura are both likable characters that you root for and great examples of strong female lead characters. A major attraction of the show that makes it stand out from other mystery series is the various settings of the episodes, which are beautiful – filmed in gorgeous garden locations in England, as well as some episodes that are set in France, Italy, and Spain.

morethanyouknowMore Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon, Fiction Gutcheon

A creepy ghost story that alternates between the past and the present, it tells the story of Hannah, now an elderly woman looking back on one eventful summer of her life when she fell in love, and Claris, a woman who lived 100 years before Hannah. I found the book to be scary and disturbing, a powerful emotional story detailing the bad decisions made by Claris and the terrible repercussions of those decisions on Hannah’s life so many years later.

Melissa – Reference

historianThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, Fiction Kostova

And here it is: my favorite book. I first came across this book several years ago, and I indulge myself by reading it every year since. And yet how to describe it? My foremost thought is that this book is story-telling at its finest. Kostova has created a wonderful piece of historical fiction. Readers learn about Dracula (who, in case you didn’t know, was a real person. He was Prince of Wallachia [i.e. Romania] during the first half of the thirteenth century). This book is a scholarly quest to find Dracula’s long-lost tomb. Very few scholars study his biography, as it is seen by most as silly superstition, but those who do discover quite the opposite: Dracula still walks the earth. But what does he do with his time, and what does he want? Because Dracula is a historical figure, much of the story unfolds in libraries and archives, which tugs at my librarian heart. The characters are rich and well-developed, existing in a world that reveres intellect. The sub-plots add spice to the quest, which takes readers across the globe and through the centuries. It’s a long read, but very much worth it. For those thinking that this is yet another piece of vampire-hype writing, it precedes Twilight and is anything but fluff.

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September

fall leaves

Fall is here! Back to school, football season, and cooler weather. Below are some suggested titles for you this month.

Melissa – Reference

davidgoliathDavid & Goliath:  Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell, Nonfiction 155. 24 Gla 

In Gladwell’s latest book, he once again offers to readers perspectives on life that they may not have considered.  He opens with the biblical story of David and Goliath, wherein David’s courage has become legendary, and David is the ultimate underdog to the fierce giant warrior Goliath.  But who was the real underdog?  When taking a closer look at the warriors and rules of engagement during that time, it is Goliath who didn’t stand a chance against David. Goliath entered the valley, calling out, “Come face me!” He literally means for another foot soldier (like himself) to do battle in a fair fight; not a soldier on horseback, and not a slinger solider (i.e., soldiers known for slinging rocks with as much force as a modern bullet). Even King Saul acknowledges this rule, as he tries to place armor on David.  Yet once David goes running into the valley, everyone watching realizes that though David has not had any formal training, he is in fact a slinger.  He broke the accepted rules of war, wherein two soldiers of the same category do battle to spare many other deaths.  Gladwell opens with this story to get readers’ attention, and it works.  He encourages readers to look more closely at perceived disadvantages, including amongst those with dyslexia, lack of experience, and difficult childhoods.  The thread that ties all these stories together is the message to never give up on your goals, even in the face of tough obstacles.

3idiots3 Idiots, starring Aamir Khan and R. Madhavan, DVD 3 Idiots

This foreign film captures the academic struggles of three Indian friends as each strives to be successful and make their families proud by becoming engineers. Aside from the difficult curriculum, the friends face other obstacles, including lack of passion and a vengeful dean. Though it is both funny and darkly serious, it sends a great message for all those struggling to find their paths in life or facing difficulty in school. We should learn for the sake of learning, because our world is fantastic and full of wonders. To be able to explore its intricacies is a privilege, not a chore. And for those deciding a career path, to choose what you love. If you’re passionate and enthusiastic about your career, success is much easier to obtain.

Sue – Circulation

The Oorchardistrchardist by Amanda Coplin, Fiction Coplin

When this novel opens around the year 1900, William Talmadge has worked in his orchard for 40-odd years. He raises apples and apricots in Washington State. His mother, sister, and he settled there when he was a child. His mother passed away when he was still young and he lost his sister tragically when she was a young woman. He now lives a solitary life with a couple of close friends, Caroline, the local midwife and herbalist, and Clee, a Native American who visits the orchard each year while moving horses for auction. Talmadge is a gentle and compassionate man, never healed over the loss of his sister, so when two runaway teenagers, both pregnant, steal some fruit from him, he begins feeding them and trying to care for them. The girls have run away from an abusive man and so are very timid around Talmadge, but warily accept his help. Over the next two decades, we see how Talmadge’s relationship with the girls and their offspring develops and where their lives take them. This is a beautiful novel, slowly paced, with evocative language and a lush setting in a valley of the Pacific Northwest surrounded by mountains, that contemplates the meaning of family and the sacrifices we make for those we love.

worldtocomeThe World to Come by Dara Horn, Fiction Horn

This very original and compelling novel begins with the discovery that Ben, newly divorced and mourning the loss of his mother, has just stolen a Chagall painting worth $1 million from a Jewish art museum. While at the museum, Ben recognized the painting as one that used to hang in his parents living room when he was a child. He stole the painting on a whim after realizing there was no security and he was alone with it in the museum. Ben feels that he has a right to the painting and shares what he has done with his twin sister. Of late, Ben has been down on himself and life in general and his sister fears he’s finally cracked. She tries to convince him to return it. Things get more complicated when the museum begins investigating the theft and the investigator figures out that Ben is the likely culprit. As the story goes on, we learn about Ben’s parents and grandparents. His family is Jewish of Russian descent and we are taken back in time to the early 20th century where we meet Chagall at a time when he was teaching orphans in Russia, learning how Ben’s family came to be in possession of the painting. The story delves into three generations of family history, showing us the suffering of Jewish families in Russia in the first half of the 20th century. Although fiction, the book provides historically accurate information about Russia and Jewish persecution in that time period and information about the Jewish faith. It also references the works of numerous actual Yiddish authors from the early 20th century who were lost as a result of pogroms against Jews.

shotgunShotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler, New Fiction Butler
This heartfelt novel follows the lives of several childhood friends from a small farming community in Wisconsin as events occur that affect their relationships. Henry is the soul of the book, a kind-hearted, decent man who runs his family’s dairy farm. Henry is married to Beth, his high school sweetheart, and they have two children. Lee became a rich and famous rock star, but he loves his hometown and is loyal to it and his childhood friends. He and Henry are best friends, though their lives have taken them in completely opposite directions. Henry is a struggling farmer devoted to his wife and children, rarely venturing outside town limits, while Lee dates Hollywood actresses and travels the world. Ronny was a successful rodeo rider until an accident caused by his excessive drinking left him mentally impaired. Lee is very protective of Ronny and they are like brothers. Kip left their hometown and became wealthy working as a stockbroker in Chicago, but has now come back to his hometown to be married and live there with his new wife while trying to renovate the town’s old mill that has been closed for years. Each chapter of the book is narrated by one of the five friends, which allows for a richer understanding of each character and their relationships with each other. The book is a tribute to lifelong friendships. It celebrates sticking by your friends even amidst all the changes that life brings, and living true to your values. It is also a homage to small-town life in the Midwest: though some of the characters leave town and find success, they are drawn back to the land. The town itself is a major character in the book – for each character, the people that they have become has been shaped by their early lives in the town and the influence of small-town values and traditions.

Mary – Youth Services

morethanthisMore Than This by Patrick Ness, YA Fiction Ness
There are few YA authors as talented at Patrick Ness, and chances are, you haven’t heard of him. Grabbing up one young adult fiction award after another, Patrick Ness is a hidden YA treasure, and always a joy to share because of his veiled, yet immense talent. Ness’ newest novel, More Than This, begins with a boy named Seth, drowning. Where it takes you is a world that isn’t exactly heaven, nor hell. And its implications are terrifying. More Than This is a treasure in existential literature, with great depth and humanity. A compelling, extraordinary book from an author with unparalleled talent and skill. Check out a Patrick Ness book. You’ll be glad you did.

tellthewolvesTell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, YA Fiction Brunt
It’s 1987, and fourteen year-old June Albus has lost her uncle – her best friend and mentor – to a disease her parents will not even speak of. Amid loss and confusion, June sets out to find pieces of her uncle’s life left behind, and in the process of doing so, comes to meet a strange man, who lingers at her Uncle Finn’s funeral. This stranger, Toby, requests a meeting with June, and convinces her he has worthwhile information regarding her Uncle Finn. Through these meetings between June and Toby, they both learn more about the man who mattered most to them in life, and in turn struggle to accept their different ways of seeing the same person, now lost. Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a phenomenal book that perfectly touches upon confusing first affections, and that unnamable love we have for those who have shaped, and altered our lives.

Michelle – Administration

guardiansofgalaxy

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1 by Various Artists, CD 781.542 Guardians
Whether or not you’ve seen the movie yet (and I highly recommend that you do), any music lover will enjoy this eclectic mix of hits from the 70’s, including Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling, Redbone’s Come and Get Your Love and many others.

sabotageSabotage, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, DVD Sabotage
From the writer/director of End of Watch, this gritty crime drama leads you through tons of twists and turns before finally dropping you at the end credits. The story follows a team of DEA agents as they battle outside forces and each other. A note of warning: this movie is not for the faint of heart and more than earns its R rating. The cast includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Terrence Howard, Sam Worthington, Josh Holloway, and Joe Manganiello.

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August

augustheader

It is August already. Where does the summer go? Enjoy the warm weather  outdoors with a good book!

 

 

Mary – Youth Services

zebrasWhy Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers —By: Robert M. Sapolsky—Nonfiction: 616.98 Sap

For most people, the diagnosis of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, heart disease, or some other stress-related illness is enough to make an individual feel lost, and debilitated. Despite being in a world with more accessible information than ever before, it is difficult to find accurate, or comprehensive material on a wide number of stress-related disease and illnesses. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers is a wonderfully written, extensive look into stress-related medical issues, primarily viewed from a biological standpoint. Quite shockingly, Dr. Sapolsky is also quite humorous in his factual writing; his explanation of complex medical terminology is analogy-driven, to help the individual understand the biological, psychological, and environmental tie-ins with stress, and illness. If you or a loved one suffers from a stress-related disease, or illness, this book is crucial reading. The concrete reasons for mental illness – for instance – is liberating to those who are afflicted.


gaimanThe Graveyard Book—
 
By: Neil Gaiman—YA Fiction Gaiman

The Graveyard Book begins on a darkened night when a violent man leaves a home in ruin, believing he has killed all its occupants. Despite his care, one boy remains – a child. This young boy, later named Bod, wanders from the crime scene of his home, and comes to a graveyard. There he can hear voices, and finally can see the dead – very much still alive – surrounding him. A deliberation ensues, and a deceased couple decides to raise young Bod. Years elapse, and Bod learns from these members of the graveyard, until one day, it may be time for Bod to leave this peculiar childhood behind. This story masterfully takes the dynamics of the world we know, and flips them over on their head using fantastical elements, and of course, the Gaiman-esqe truth that nothing is as it appears to be.

milkMilk —starring Sean Penn, James Franco, and Josh Brolin—DVD Milk

With the recent release of the Harvey Milk U.S. Postal stamp, the passing of equal rights laws, now is a time that Harvey Milk and his Castro Street had hoped for. Milk chronicles the life of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), starting with his fortieth birthday when he moves to the Castro, and finally wants to do something right with his life. This desire transforms into the most iconic struggle for equal rights, and Milk becoming the first openly gay politician in the United States to win office. Sean Penn plays astoundingly detailed Milk; he neither portrays him as a hero-figure to be worshiped, or an icon, but rather, a flawed human being who had a simple desire to make the world a bit better for its occupants. Coupled with archival footage of riots, and marches in the Castro and beyond, Milk is a powerful portrayal of the human spirit, and the continued strive for equality.

Sue – Circulation

outsmartingThe Outsmarting of Criminals: A Mystery Introducing Miss Felicity Prim —By Steven Rigolosi—New Fiction: Rigolosi

I loved this delightful novel. I hope, as the subtitle suggests, there will more novels to come featuring Miss Felicity Prim. Felicity is a very proper and sensible lady who has lived and worked in New York City for decades. After being mugged, she decides that it is time to retire and she buys a cottage in a small Connecticut town. She decides to make a new career as a criminal outsmarter, as she calls it. Being a life-long reader of crime fiction, she feels she can successfully solve crimes in real life. Her family and closest friends, including her sister Celia, Amos, the doctor for whom she has worked for many years, and Dolly, a young woman who also works at the doctor’s office, don’t want her to leave and are worried about her new chosen career. Well before she expects it, she is immersed in her first case when she finds a dead body in the basement of her new home on the day she moves in. This book is very funny with tongue-in-cheek humor poking fun at Miss Prim’s prim character and the plots of typical mystery novels, and it has an ending that is both clever and satisfying.


neartoyouI Shall Be Near to You
— By: Erin Lindsay McCabe — New Fiction McCabe

This book is about a woman who disguises herself as a man and joins the Union Army to fight in the Civil War. The book is fiction, but it is based on historical accounts of over 200 women who fought in the war as men. In New York State 1862, Rosetta’s new husband Jeremiah, her childhood sweetheart, joins up. Rosetta, who has always been a tomboy and never really fit in, doesn’t want to be left on her own in their house on Jeremiah’s family’s land. Her mother-in-law doesn’t understand Rosetta and she doesn’t feel comfortable. So she cuts her hair, puts on clothes belonging to Jeremiah, and enlists under the name of Ross Stone. She joins her husband and other local boys at the encampment where new recruits are being trained. Her husband is not happy with her decision, but allows her to stay. From then on, she is a soldier like all the men in her regiment. The book follows the regiment as it trains and then into battle. They see action at the Second Battle of Bull Run and at the bloody Battle of Antietam. Rosetta tells her story in her own words, which makes the book especially powerful. A moving story about a strong-willed woman living her life on her terms and the bravery she and others showed during a terrible time in American history.


pushingdaisiesPushing Daisies —
DVD Pushing Daisies, Seasons 1 and 2

This was a terrific show and it’s a shame that it only lasted for two abbreviated seasons. It was original and whimsical, with charming characters and bright, colorful settings. Definitely not your ordinary crime procedural, but a unique show amidst so many shows that seem to all be the same. The show centers around Ned, a shy man who has a secret – his touch can bring the dead back to life, but touch the newly awakened again, and they die permanently. Plus, each time he brings a being back to life for more than one minute, someone else must die in that being’s place. Ned learned of his gift and its consequences accidentally as a child under traumatic circumstances. In the following years, Ned learned to keep his distance from people. He now owns his own pie shop and lives a lonely existence with his only companions his dog and the waitress at his shop, Olive, who is lovelorn for him while he is oblivious to her feelings. One day, private detective Emerson Cod witnesses Ned bringing someone back to life accidentally whom Emerson had been chasing and the two enter into an agreement to solve homicide cases. Ned touches the victims and asks them who killed them, then touches them again before one minute has elapsed, and he and Emerson split the reward money. All goes well until one day, the victim is Ned’s childhood love, Charlotte. Can Ned bear to see Charlotte dead when he has the power to bring her back? But what will be the consequences if he does bring her back? Watch this quirky and funny show and see what happens.


shadowofwindThe Shadow of the Wind
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon—Fiction: Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind is a deep and compelling story that spans over 20 years. It begins in Barcelona in 1945 where 10-year-old Daniel is taken by his father, a bookseller, to visit the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a repository for out of print or non-circulating books. There Daniel is allowed to choose one book. He selects The Shadow of the Wind, written by an author named Julian Carax. Entranced by the book, Daniel sets out on a decades-long search to discover who Carax is and to find other works by him. Over time, he discovers that an unknown person is traveling throughout Spain, buying and then burning all of Carax’s works. As Daniel grows up, the mystery deepens. The story is complex, following Daniel’s growth from a child to a young man and chronicling his relationships along the way, first with an older girl he is smitten with as a child, then a mysterious woman who has some unknown connection to Carax, and finally to the love of his adulthood, Bea. The story delves into Carax’s childhood, and as we learn more about Carax, we see parallels between his youth and Daniel’s unfolding life. I found this book to be absorbing and haunting with touches of psychological thriller and gothic novel. In the end, it’s mostly a love story, not only Daniel’s story, but the interwoven stories of several characters whose lives are all touched in some way by the mysterious Carax.

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July

?????????????????????????????????????? The dog days of summer are here. Relax in the shade with a good book!

 

 

Michelle-Administration


orangeOrange is the New Black —
starring Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, and Taryn Manning—New DVD: Orange Is the New Black, Season One

I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I had heard that this show couldn’t be missed. Turns out that the show is an excellent, funny, and thought-provoking series focused on a women’s prison. It’s a cast of crazy characters, who are all given time to shine with individual back stories and current story lines. I would recommend this show to any adult looking for something to watch. It does include some nudity and violent content, so it may not be for the feint-hearted.

Trtruebue Blood (Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris) —starring Anna Paquin—DVD True Blood, Seasons 1-6

As a devoted fan of the show True Blood, I decided that it was time to finally read the books. While the storylines between the two become very different, I enjoyed reading the entire series and it increased my appreciation of the TV show. The seventh and final season of True Blood just started, so this is the perfect time to get caught up with the library’s DVDs and/or read the great series by Charlaine Harris.

 
Sue-Circulation

lost lake2Lost Lake —By: Sarah Addison Allen—New Fiction: Allen

A magical story about learning life lessons and making the most of second chances. Kate was widowed suddenly at a young age and has spent the last year in a fog, during which time her domineering mother-in-law has made all the decisions and taken over Kate and her eight-year-old daughter’s life. Now Kate is feeling stronger and realizes she has allowed things to get out of control. On a whim, she decides to take her daughter on a trip to Lost Lake, a resort run by her great Aunt Eby, whom she hasn’t seen in 15 years. Kate spent one wonderful summer at Lost Lake where she made friends with a local boy, but never visited again because of a rift between her mother and her great aunt. Now both Kate and Eby, as well as other visitors to Lost Lake, have the opportunity to fix what went wrong in their lives.


rememberingbones2Remembering the Bones
—by Frances Itani—Fiction: Itani

Georgina, an 80-year-old Canadian widow born on the same day as Queen Elizabeth, is invited to a special celebration of the Queen’s birthday in England. As she drives in her car on her way to the airport, she runs off the road and her car ends up in a ravine. As she struggles to climb up the ravine to rescue, she remembers her grandfather’s copy of Gray’s Anatomy, which she studied as a child, memorizing all the bones. She now recites the names of all the bones of the human body to herself as a way to keep her mind from the pain of her badly injured body as she crawls up the ravine. As she recalls the names of the bones, memories from her life surface. Through her reminiscences, the reader gets a picture of the woman and her life. We learn about her childhood, revisit memories of her strong-willed grandmother, learn how she met her husband and hear about their catastrophic honeymoon, feel her pride over her grown daughter’s career, and her pain over a sad tragedy that has stayed with her all her life. The book is beautifully written and the reader grows to care about Georgina as we see her life unfold through her memories.

summer countryA Summer in the Country —By: Marcia Willett—Fiction: Willett

A lovely book that explores broken relationships – between mother and daughter, father and son, siblings, and husband and wife. The main characters are Brigid and Louise. Brigid lives on the Devon moors where she rents out cottages to vacationers. Her husband is in the Navy and away from home for months at a time, but Brigid loves the solitude of the moors and is content. She is estranged from her mother, nicknamed Frummie, who left her as a child. But then her mother is left by her latest husband and has nowhere else to go, so she moves into one of the cottages. Frummie had a second daughter after leaving Brigid and her father, and Brigid has always been jealous of her younger half-sister, Jemima. Meanwhile, Louise is a regular visitor to the moor, taking one of the cottages twice each year for a vacation while her significant other is away on business. Louise has a painful secret that she has been denying to others and herself. Eventually, the pain of this burden overwhelms her and she has a breakdown. Brigid, Frummie, and Jemima are there to help her in the aftermath of her breakdown, while all dealing with various issues of their own. I enjoyed this book because the characters are well-developed and complex – they seem like real people you could know and would want to know because they are all likable. The setting in the English countryside is also beautiful and vividly described. The book reads at a leisurely pace as you get to know the characters and their situations. I also liked the fact that the book has a happy ending in spite of some sadness and difficult issues facing the characters.

Mary – Youth Services


solomon 
Song of Solomonby Toni Morrison—Fiction: Morrison

Song of Solomon begins very much how it ends – in a combination of folklore, terror, and awe. The story begins with an insurance salesman, Robert Smith, as he prepares to jump from Mercy Hospital, and into the street below. This action drives the narrative, and concerns the novel’s protagonist, who is nicknamed, “Milkman.” A Pulitzer Prize winning author, Toni Morrison truly knows how to craft a memorable story. Song of Solomon, therefore, is a wonderful mixture of interwoven tales: a love story, a coming-of-age story, the story of a mentor-figure on her exit of life, and most importantly, human connection that has the power to span race, time, and the distance – both physically and mentally – between us all.


alaskaLooking for Alaska
—by John Green—YA Fiction: Green

With all of the excitement surrounding the fans of John Green over the recent film adaptation of his young-adult novel, The Fault in Our Stars, it is a good thing to see the pride of young adult readers over their favorite works becoming widely recognized. Fortunately, the novel Looking For Alaska was also announced to be a future movie-to-film adaptation of – what I believe – is Green’s best work. Set in an American boarding school, the events of this novel are quirky, dark, and unsettlingly close to the anxieties and pains of entering adulthood. This novel stays with the reader long after it is read, along with the words of Miles “Pudge” Halter and the subject of his narrative, the person who transforms him; an intelligent, yet troubled teen named Alaska Young.


curiousThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time—
by Mark Haddon—YA Fiction: Haddon

Christopher Francis Boone has unparalleled memory for detail, trouble reading emotional response, and an abhorrence of the color yellow. Christopher awakens one morning to find his neighbor’s dog dead on his lawn, and is troubled by who might have done this to the dog. In a Sherlockian manner, he proceeds to tell the story of finding the dog’s killer, and also, the whirlwind of events that surround his search. This story, Christopher’s story, is colored by humor, intelligence, and, importantly for literature, it a story written from the perspective of an individual with autism. Although this book certainly does not spell out the condition of being autistic – one individual’s story does not constitute a whole – this book was written by an author who has understanding for his subject, and through Christopher’s eyes, allows the reader to see the world in a colorful, mathematically brilliant, and often times transformative light.

 

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June

Free Summer Royalty Free Stock Photos - 10036478

Finally warm weather is here. Take a book to the beach and enjoy!

Jacob – Circulation

booksMedium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain, Adult Nonfiction 641.5 Bou

This book is a follow up to Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and once again Bourdain delights. He uses his sharp wit and new-found stardom to critique the most recent food trends and high profile chefs. When not critiquing, he shares stories that are humorous and insightful from his own experiences as a chef. This book is a quick read and quite entertaining.

Sue – Circulation

9545064The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon, Fiction Simon

A beautiful, heart-rending story of a mentally disabled young woman and a deaf mute man, both of whom lived at a state-run institution in which the residents were mistreated. In 1968, the pair runs away from the institution and ends up on the doorstep of 70-year-old Martha, a lonely widow. The young woman, Lynnie, has just given birth to a daughter. That same night, the authorities come to Martha’s house and take Lynnie away. The man, Homan, manages to run away and the baby remains undetected. Lynnie asks Martha to keep the baby safe, and so begins a 40 year odyssey for Martha, the baby, Lynnie, and Homan. How their lives unfold over the decades makes for a compelling and absorbing read. The author’s sister is mentally disabled and though this story is fiction, Rachel Simon did research the history of such institutions as the one Lynnie and Homan were confined in, so the book’s portrayal of these institutions and the changes over the decades is historically accurate.
 
 
 
17834834Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson, New Fiction Balson

A compelling and deeply moving novel that combines elements of historical fiction with legal drama. It tells of the experiences of a Jewish family named Solomon in Poland during the Holocaust and the betrayal of that family by a German youth who was taken in and raised as a part of that family. The story opens in 2004 with 83-year-old Ben Solomon publicly accusing famous Chicago millionaire and philanthropist Elliot Rosenzweig of actually being an SS officer named Otto Piatek. Rosenzweig of course denies the accusation, but Ben is certain that Rosenzweig is actually Otto Piatek. He engages a lawyer named Catherine to bring a civil suit against Rosenzweig. In preparation for the lawsuit, Ben tells his story to Catherine over time so that the entire story of what happened to Ben and his family is told over the course of the novel. We learn that Otto was a 12-year-old boy with a German mother and Polish father who was left in the care of the Solomon family in the 1920s when the unemployed father could not care for him after the mother returned to Germany. So Otto and Ben grew up as brothers. The story of Otto’s transformation into a loyal Nazi and his betrayal of his foster family is chilling. The question of whether Rosenzweig is or is not Otto is revealed near the end of the novel. A powerful story about love and evil that will grip you until the final page.

 

FrenchLeaveFrench Leave by P.G. Wodehouse, New Fiction Wodehouse
 

This is a stand-alone Wodehouse novel written in the 1950s, not part of the Bertie-Jeeves, Blandings, or other Wodehouse well-known series, but just as funny as his better known novels. It is set primarily in the French Rivera and involves three sisters who run a chicken farm in Long Island and inherit some money. They decide to spend the money on an opulent vacation, where the two youngest sisters take turns pretending to be rich in order to find a wealthy man to marry. The daughter named Terry meets an elderly marquis, fallen on hard times and looking for a rich wife for his son, Jeff. Thinking Terry is rich, he wants to set them up. Being a Wodehouse novel, of course all kinds of humorous complications and misunderstandings ensue until all is worked out in the end.

 
 
Mary – Youth Services

 
 
17999159Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, New YA Graphic Novel: BROSH

Based off the blog of the same title, “Hyperbole and a Half” recounts the hilarious, touching, and odd happenings in the life of self-proclaimed shut-in, Allie Brosh. Using childlike paint illustrations to describe her adult life, and childhood, Hyperbole and a Half humorously approaches topics such as the almighty love of cake, her dog’s bizarre behaviors, and most notably, her own struggle with depression. Don’t let the illustrations fool you. There is a great brevity, and wit, and pathos behind the wonderful scribbles of Allie Brosh.

11343Women in Art: Figures of Influence  by Reed Krakoff, New Adult Nonfiction 704. 042 Kra

Women in Art is a love-letter to modern women artists, art collectors, and curators. With large photographs, and wonderful interviews laced throughout, Women in Art is a physically beautiful book, well-designed; and a museum in and of itself. More importantly, however, this collection does not spread the giant misnomer: “Look, here are women! They do art, too!” But rather, Women in Art serves as a well-deserved collection of the personal portraits of women who are established and upcoming in the art world. The photographer who collected these women’s stories, and photographed their art, was reverent, and open-minded in the documentation of his subjects. This art book is a must-see for any person interested in entering, and impacting the art world. In short: brilliant.
 

Her2013PosterHer
, Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Scarlett Johansson, DVD Her
 
Taking place years in our immediate future, Her is the story of Theodore, an introverted man who works for a company whose main job is to write love-letters, or intimate messages for clients. This industry serves two types of people: 1). Individuals who would like intimacy in their lives, but do not have it. OR 2). Individuals who are too busy to send their loved ones personal, intimate messages, gifts, and gestures. Down on his luck and feeling lonely himself, Theodore purchases a computer operating system that uses artificial intelligence, which mirrors and develops just as a human being may. What Theodore does not foresee is the bond he forms with this artificially intelligent voice as she develops to learn about Theodore’s life, and emotionally support him. Her is such a funny, strange, and sometimes unsettling portrait of the way us human beings treat one another, and how we scar each other – especially those we are physically and emotionally intimate with – and how that effects our drive to isolate in a dawning age of technology.

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May

Mary – Youth Services

 hoursposterThe Hours—Starring: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore— DVD: HOURS

Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel written in 1999, The Hours revolves around the lives of three characters; Clarissa Vaughan (Streep) a modern New-Yorker creating a party for an AIDs stricken friend and poet, Richard Harris; Laura Brown (Moore) an unhappy housewife in the 1950’s; and the author Virginia Woolf (Kidman), trying to write her novel,  Mrs. Dalloway. These women all share in common one trait: the need to provide for others, and the simultaneous loss of themselves to degenerating metal health. This work speaks volumes, and should be viewed by mothers, daughters, fathers, and men alike. Deserving of all the accolades it has earned, this film is a celebration of the tact, care, and blinding strength of women, making explicit the need to recognize the bravery of those who triumph over depression and save their own lives. And equally, to accept the pain faced by those who could not.

fryandlA Bit of Fry and Laurie—Starring: Stephen Fry, and Hugh Laurie—DVD: FRY

Actor Hugh Laurie (House MD, Jeeves and Wooster) and Stephen Fry (QI, Sherlock Holmes)—as so many English tales go—became the best of friends when they were sent off to school. Cambridge, in their case. After being members of the Cambridge sketch comedy group, Cambridge Footlights, Fry and Laurie made their mark as a dynamic comedy duo. A classic work in sketch comedy, A Bit of Fry and Laurie has the rare quality of being equally well-written comedic material, as well as uproarious in performance. The deep friendship and idiosyncrasies between the two real-life friends is also such a joy to watch.  A Bit of Fry and Laurie will surely continue to be regarded as some of the best, classic comedy work.

augustosageAugust: Osage County—Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abagail Breslin—DVD: AUGUST

If August: Osage County is not the quintessential piece of American familial dysfunction, I officially crown it as such. Originally a Chicago stage play by Tracy Letts, this piece explores the heart of fear, illness, and toxic personalities that plague an American Midwest family. Violet—the venomous matriarch of the Westin family—is diagnosed with terminal throat cancer. And in the process of dying, she draws family back to their Oklahoma homestead, where secrets are housed, and the family’s finest and darkest moments have taken place. Streep plays an astounding, pill-popping Violet, who is critically portrayed as an abused individual, and an abuser, herself. She is well-matched by her eldest daughter, played by Julia Roberts. I think that despite criticism—this is the best movie adaptation of the play we will have. So come into the Westin house, take a seat—but please, don’t stay awhile.

Margaux - CIrculation

18054175The Good Luck of Right Now - by Matthew Quick – New Fiction: QUICK

Bartholomew Neil was a 38-year-old man who lived with his mother. Until she died. Now his mundane existence of attending Saturday mass, going to the library and taking care of his ailing mother has been interrupted, and the friends and confidants he meets along his journey of self-discovery and independence are his new normal. His attempt to navigate life in Philadelphia is explored through letters to his favorite celebrity, Mr. Richard Gere.  Quick’s use of a letter format and tongue-in-cheek humor will draw you in and leave you wanting more of Bartholomew’s naïve perspective on love, friendship, and trust.

7728889The Diviners – by Liba Bray – YA CD: BRAY

Evie O’Neill’s supernatural gift for reading objects has a knack for getting her into trouble. That’s why she’s been sent to live with her mysterious Uncle Will in New York City. However, New York City in the 1920’s is no punishment for Evie who wants to see her name in lights. When Will is called in by the police to investigate a gruesome murder seeped in occult phenomena, Evie might be the only person who can help find the twisted killer. Bray’s latest novel is filled with jazz, teenage mutiny, and an irreverent sense of death. If you want an even more immersive audiobook, this is one of my absolute favorites, although we do have both the text and audio versions.

Kingdom_Hearts_HD_1.5_ReMIX_box_artKindgom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX – by Disney Interactive Studios and Square Enix.- PS3: KINGDOM HEARTS

Sora, Riku, and a huge cast of Disney characters are back with more worlds to discover. Fans of the old Kingdom Hearts games will appreciate the enhanced graphics and inclusion of nearly three hours of remastered graphics from Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. New players will revel in the PS3 exclusive trophies and  the opportunity to play alongside Disney favorites like Simba, Goofey, Mickey, Alice and many more in levels based on the hit Disney movies. This game combines Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, and Kingtom Hearts 358/2 Days into one game

Sue – Circulation

241387When Crickets Cry – by Charles Martin – Fiction: Martin

This is a beautiful love story, telling two separate stories that interconnect. The first is about a man and his wife, who grew up together and are passionately devoted to each other. This story is told in flashback, while the present day story involves that man and his friendship with a young girl named Annie who is very sick with a heart condition. The man has been a widower for five years and has withdrawn from society due to his grief and guilt over his wife’s death. But when he meets the sick little girl, he finds himself getting involved in her life despite himself. It turns out he has a secret he has been keeping since his wife’s death, and that secret has a direct impact on Annie’s future.

16130405The Lavender Garden – by Lucinda Riley – New Fiction: Riley

This is a sweeping saga of two families that takes place over a span of more than 50 years. Emilie is the last surviving member of her family – one of the richest aristocratic families in France – following her mother’s death. Sebastian comes from an English family. Emilie’s father, Edouard, and Sebastian’s grandmother, Constance, served together during World War II – Edouard as a high-ranking member of the French Resistance and Constance as a member of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). The book cuts between the present day, telling of the relationship that develops between Emilie and Sebastian, and the war years, telling of Constance and Edouard’s actions during the war, as well as the actions of Edouard’s family and household, including his sister Sophia. The war-time events have an effect on the present day, and as Constance and Edouard’s story unfolds, we see the repercussions of those war-time events affecting Emilie and members of her household and Sebastian and his brother Alex. The book is compelling – you want to keep reading to find out the secrets still untold from the war, and the war story is an exciting tale of espionage, danger, and the sufferings and deprivations caused by the war, as well as the bravery of Resistance members and the SOE.

kingdom001Kingdom – Starring: Stephen Fry, Karl Davies, Celia Imrie – DVD: Kingdom, Seasons 1-3

Peter Kingdom, played by the brilliant Stephen Fry, is a genial, kind-hearted lawyer in a rural Norfolk town. Unlike some lawyers, he really cares about his clients and is more interested in helping them than in taking their money. This series focuses on his professional and personal life. He has many oddball clients in his small town and his family is equally troublesome, with a brother missing, presumed dead after apparently drowning himself in the North Sea and a mentally unbalanced sister who has come to live with him and wreak havoc in his home, driving his loyal assistant to distraction. The show is funny and warm with well-written, engaging episodes and interesting characters.

Matt – Reference

Deltron_3030_Event_2Event 2 – By: Deltron 3030 – New CD’s: CD 781.649 DELTRON 3030

Deltron 3030 is the brainchild of three legendary figures in the Hip Hop Scene: Del the Funkee Homosapien, Kid Koala and Dan the Automator. Their first collaboration, The Event, was a sonic masterpiece mixing together galactically inspired beats with lyrics referencing all manner of Sci-Fi books, movies, and sprinkled with some Anime and space fantasy elements. This album is the long-awaited follow up and it does not disappoint. It’s a weird trip with Deltron Zero in his superfuture of 3040 but one you won’t want to miss.

Orphan Black Season 1 – Starring: Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris – New DVDs: ORPHAN BLACK

If you’re not watching Orphan Black then you are missing out on the best Sci-Fi/Action/Conspiracy show on television. It starts with Sarah: an orphan returning to New York who sees a woman who looks like her on a train platform jump in front of a train. She then takes the woman’s identity and finds herself in the middle of a vast conspiracy that will have you binge watching this series. Seriously, it is addicting as it is good.

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