Melissa – Reference
We 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.
The 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
When 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.
Delicious! 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.
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
Castle, 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
A 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.)
Through 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.