Tag Archives: Biography

November 2017

november2017coverIt’s November, a time to be thankful for everything good in life including family, friends, food, books, and music. Check out some of our recommended titles!

 

 

Theresa – Youth Services

eleanoroliphantEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, New Fiction Honeyman

Thirty-year-old Eleanor Oliphant has worked the same job since getting out of school. She can’t stand her coworkers and looks forward to her weekends which entail ordering pizza and drinking large quantities of vodka. The only time the doorbell rings is if it’s the landlord, the gas company, or her Social Services case worker. (We later find out why this is the case.) Her only phone conversations are with “Mummy,” who does nothing but ridicule her.

One day everything changes. She and the unhygienic IT guy from work happen to witness an elderly gentleman collapse in the middle of the street as they are leaving work. Eleanor, who would never have become involved, is begrudgingly coerced into action. This incident has flung Eleanor into social situations she has never experienced. Her life drastically changes from here.

This book will have you laughing out loud at Eleanor’s lack of social skills, commentaries, and brutal truthfulness. As the story progresses, we learn why Eleanor is the way she is, and how she overcomes the tragedies she has endured.

Melissa – Technical Services

shadowlandThe Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova, Fiction Kostova

In her newest historical adventure, Kostova writes of Bulgaria in post-WWII times. The protaganist, Alexandra, has just arrived in Sophia from America in the spring of 2008 to teach. Her first encounter with native Bulgarians proves to be a bungle, and she finds she has accidentally left with one of their packages: an ornately carved urn inscribed with a name. As she attempts to find its owners, she learns more about the man whose remains she carries, and it proves to be both an exquisite and excruciating life. Kostova’s researched details and heavy reliance on setting pull the reader in on another journey both through continents and through time.

Chris – Tech Services

webandofangelsWe Band of Angels: The Untold Story of the American Women Trapped on Bataan by Elizabeth M. Norman, New Nonfiction 940.5475 NOR

The “women” were the Army and Navy nurses left on Bataan and the island of Corregidor tending the wounded, when General Wainwright surrendered on May 6, 1942. For them, war became Hell.

The nurses, along with soldiers and civilians were caught by the Japanese and sent to prison camps at San Tomas and Los Banos for three years to wait out the war. Upon coming home after the Japanese surrender; life continued to be hell for many. This was due to malnutrition, tropical diseases, what we refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder,
and lastly the non-recognition of their female leaders who kept their morale up and kept them focused.

All written from first-hand accounts, diaries, letters and in-person interviews, it is a true saga of women in WWII.

Pat – Circulation

strangerinthewoodsThe Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, New Nonfiction 921 Knight, C. Fin

This is the true story of a 20 year old man who walked into the Maine woods with a small number of items who chose to live in seclusion. He robbed lakeside summer camps (vacation cabins) for food and basic supplies. He devised systems and carved a life that allowed him to live for 27 years in the brutal Maine woods, sometimes in 20+ below zero winter weather. He only interacted with other people twice, once saying “hi” to a hiker and once with hand movements and body language only.

The story of Christopher Knight is a remarkable one. It is well worth reading for the insights it gives into an extraordinary mind and the amazing tale of survival that very few could have accomplished.

Chris – Circulation

slowdiveSlowdive by Slowdive, New CD 781.66 Slowdive

British shoegaze/dream pop band Slowdive have returned with a new album after 22 years, and boy was it worth the wait. Universally acclaimed by music critics, this album doesn’t falter like others do when bands decide to reform after a lengthy hiatus. It continues and even expands upon the band’s former work, taking it in new, masterfully-crafted directions from veterans. Listeners can expect to become enveloped in atmospheric, swirling guitars and airy vocals that blend into the mix. The music will soothe the spirit and send it into a “slow dive” into euphoria. Standout tracks are singles “Star Roving” and “Sugar for the Pill,” and “Falling Ashes,” the album closer that, to me, sounds exactly like its title describes.

Paula – Circulation

gothamGotham, Starring Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, and Robin Lord Taylor, DVD Gotham Season 1

Before becoming the police commissioner of Gotham and a major ally for Batman, James Gordon fought crime as a detective on the Gotham City police force. This series centers on a young Jim Gordon and his struggles to clean up the crime ridden streets of Gotham, while also helping a teenage Bruce Wayne along on his journey to becoming Batman. One of my favorite things about the series is that it also places a significant focus on the origins of popular Batman villains, such as Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman. The villains are each given a major personality that causes them to be some of the most likable characters on the show. You will find yourself rooting for the villains rather than the so-called heroes of Gotham. This series does an amazing job of delving into the years before Batman, and shows how the darkness of Gotham corrupts even the lightest of hearts. It is a must-see for all Batman fans.

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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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January

January2016It’s January! Start the new year off with a good book!

 

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

stellabainStella Bain by Anita Shreve, Fiction Shreve

Set during World War I, this book tells the story of a woman who wakes up in a field hospital in France in 1916 with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She is wearing a nurse’s uniform, but speaks with an American accent, although the U.S. has not yet entered the war. She thinks her name is Stella Bain and recalls that she can drive an ambulance, so once her physical injuries heal, she is sent to work as a nurse’s aide and ambulance driver. Eventually she makes her way to London where she hopes to find a clue to her identity. She is taken in by a man named Dr. Bridges and his wife, who find her sick and weak outside their door. Dr. Bridges is a cranial surgeon, but he also has an interest in psychiatry, so he agrees to treat her to see if she can recover her memories. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot, but it was a fascinating read to find out who Stella really is and how she ended up in that hospital in France and what happened to her going forward once she got to London and met Dr. Bridges. The book really holds your attention as bits and pieces of Stella’s life are revealed.

thinwomanThe Thin Woman by Dorothy Cannell, Fiction Cannell

The first book in a mystery series about Ellie Simons. Ellie is an insecure, overweight interior designer whose family nags her about her weight and her status as a single woman. To impress her family, Ellie hires a date for a weekend family reunion at her uncle’s big estate, whom she then tells her family is her fiancee. The date, Ben, is attracted to Ellie, but doesn’t like how she is down on herself. Ellie thinks she has gotten away with her ruse until her uncle passes away. His will leaves his estate and all his money to both Ellie and Ben, but only if certain conditions are met by both over the next six months. If the conditions are not met, then the rest of the family, who were left nothing in the will, will divide the estate and money among themselves. Ellie and Ben move into the house and try to meet the will’s conditions. But then a series of vicious practical jokes occur and it becomes clear that a truly disturbed individual is behind the increasingly malicious pranks and trying to run off Ellie and Ben. This is a fun read with mystery, romance, adventure, and a twist at the end.

burnnoticeBurn Notice starring Jeffrey Donovan, DVD Burn Notice, Seasons 1-7

If you like car chases and explosions, this is the show for you! Nonstop action, plus endearing main characters, evil villains, and character development over the seasons too. The great Jeffrey Donovan stars, along with Gabrielle Anwar, the charming and funny Bruce Campbell, and Sharon Gless. Donovan plays Michael Westen, a CIA operative who gets “burned” – kicked out of the CIA with all his assets frozen. He was burned for crimes that he did not commit and the show focuses on his efforts to find the people who burned him and get back into the CIA. While pursuing this, he helps people in need who can’t get help from the usual sources, like the police. His cohorts are his ex-girlfriend Fiona, a former member of the IRA and current gun-runner and bounty hunter, and Sam, an ex-Navy SEAL now leading a relaxed life of lots of beer drinking and free-loading off his wealthy girlfriends. Forced by the CIA to stay in his hometown of Miami, Michael reconnects with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in years after fleeing his abusive father. I love the characters – they all have great chemistry with each other and the show has a lot of humor and heart in it in addition to the action. The show aired for seven seasons and ended its run in 2013.

Dagmar – Circulation

gratitudediariesThe Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan, New Nonfiction 179.9 Kap

This is a perfect New Year’s resolution book – a definite must-read for those who would like to make a difference in their lives in the year(s) to come. It all starts on New Year’s Eve when journalist Janice Kaplan makes a resolution to look on the bright side of life and makes a promise to be grateful for whatever happens. It is partially an inspiring memoir in which the author shares some amusing personal experiences, but it is also brilliantly researched and backed with scientific research. Kaplan interviewed many scientists extensively – psychologists, academics, doctors, philosophers, and had meaningful conversations with her colleagues and friends to bring you along on the journey of appreciating what you have. Relying on the mass of evidence, she learned for herself and explains in the book how gratitude can transform every aspect of your everyday life, from marriage and friendship to health and fitness. With insightful writing and gentle humor, she will take you on a journey to start thinking positively and start living your best year ever. She explores her subjects in four parts, according to seasons. Winter is a season for marriage and family, spring is a season for money and career, summer is for gratitude and health (including Chapter 11 about losing weight on the amazing gratitude diet!), and finally, fall for coping, caring, and connection. At the end of the year, she realized that big changes can happen when the calendar flips – but only if you make them happen. By paying attention, thinking positively, and reframing experiences, she put herself in a different place that year and became the happier person she wanted to be. And so can you, if you embrace the message of this book and take it to your heart.

giveitupGive It Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno, Nonfiction 179.9 Car

This is another perfectly motivating book for a New Year’s resolution. The book chronicles the author’s life-changing experience and provides inspiration for anyone looking for a fresh start and a new outlook. It is about simplifying your life and celebrating what is truly important.

Mary Carlomagno was like many of us – a busy professional, accustomed to a frantic pace, stressed, constantly checking her messages, and shopping like there was no tomorrow. Her resolution came on January 1, when she woke up with a pounding headache and uttered those famous last words, “I am never drinking again.” And she meant it. At least for the month of January. Raised as a Catholic, she was accustomed to observe Lent by sacrificing something that was dear to her to honor her faith. Sacrifices made during Lent can be life-changing. So Mary recalled the experience of Lent and began to wonder if she could give up things that seemed so essential to her, like designer shoes and handbags, expensive coffee, and her ever-present cell phone. So for each month of the year, she picked a favorite thing and gave it up cold turkey. In February, she gave up shopping, in March elevators, in April newspapers, in May cell phones, which created huge confusion and nearly caused her boyfriend to reconsider their recent engagement. In June, she gave up eating out. Considering the high cost and super-sized portions that made her gain weight, Mary went back to the basics of home-cooked meals, where moderation was her mantra. This was beneficial to both her wallet and her waistline. She was not going to sever her relationship with finer cuisine, but wanted to break the food-on-the-go addiction, and in the process, she regained her interest and appreciation for a freshly-made home meal. In July, she went without television. While this may not seem like a revolutionary idea, the abstinence brought attention to the addiction of a daily habit; it allowed her to get a new life – nightly walks after dinner, followed by some quality reading. In August, she banned taxis, her main mode of transportation. Luckily, New York City is the most walking friendly city in the USA. In September, she gave up coffee and her obsession with Starbucks. This was hard, because, as she put it, coffee is the last politically correct vice accepted, even encouraged, in the workplace, where some rituals change, but the coffee break is eternal. October was for cursing, November for chocolate, which, according to her, was the cruelest of the months. December was for multi-tasking, which was designed to live in the moment. Her goal for the month was to enjoy the holiday season with a limited amount of stress. With the goal of the month achieved, she could raise a champagne glass, noting the passing of another year. That year had inspired her career change as well. She founded a company, Order, that specializes in clutter control, apartment and office space solutions, and life transitions.

Mary – Youth Services

hungermakesmeHunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein, New Nonfiction 921 Brownstein

Many of us have an idea of what it is like to be in a rock band. Carrie Brownstein tells it like it is. After all, she played a defining role in establishing the Northwest feminist punk scene, where she remains a lead singer and guitarist in the band Sleater-Kinney. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is a life told through music. It exposes the rock scene’s sexist inner workings, and most notably, the not-so-glamorous touring life of a rockstar. (Which includes—according to Brownstein—after-parties that are best skipped for time alone in your hotel room). The most unique part of Brownstein’s memoir, however, comes in the way she explores emotional “growing pains,” and how the tragedies of our early lives can seep into us, or transform us as we grow. Whether you have an interest in Pacific Northwest feminist punk, or you just read that and are thinking “What on earth is that?” Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is unequivocally one of the best memoirs of the year. Carrie Brownstein has presented parts of her personal life that she usually guards with utmost privacy, and what she exposes is an incredibly human portrait of what it means to grow and change in our modern world.

orlandoOrlando by Virginia Woolf, Fiction Woolf

Woof’s fiction is incredibly multi-textured, dense, and layered. One could spend a lifetime drawing something new out of her works, each time one is read. Orlando is no exception. Written as a literary love letter to Vita-Sackville West, the novel charts three hundred years, and it begins with exploring the life of an Elizabethan nobleman, named Orlando. Effortlessly, Woolf makes the years go by, until one day Orlando wakes up in the nineteenth century, and he wakes up as a woman. Now Orlando—Orlando, the woman—must come to terms with her loss of freedoms as now she lives in the early 1900’s, falls in and out of love, and struggles with accepting domesticity. Orlando is a mythical, unforgettable portrait of one human life, and will astound the modern reader that it was published in 1928. The diversity of human life is thrumming with wildness, and the character of Orlando is a testament to this unapologetic truth.

iworkatapubliclibraryI Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks collected by Gina Sheridan, Nonfiction 027.02 She

One comment I always get from people who know I work at a library is: “Oh, that must be such a nice, quiet job.” And it is. Well, the “nice” part is true, at least. As for “quiet,” we rarely have dull moments. If you are curious what it is like to be a public librarian, you will find no greater insight than I Work at a Public Library. Gina Sheridan has collected stories from real-life public librarians, and contained therein is the true range of horrors and rewards librarians reap on the daily. If you were ever staring at us behind our desks, wondering what it is like to be us, take a look at this book. Perhaps that fantasy of quitting your job and becoming a librarian wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you want to be a librarian after reading this book: Welcome to the force. You are truly one of us.

Hubbell – Circulation

wrightbrothersThe Wright Brothers by David McCullough, Nonfiction 920 Mcc or New CD 920 Mcc (audiobook)

Renowned author and historian David McCullough has written the definitive biography of the Wright brothers. Meticulously researched and organized, McCullough’s biography tells the story of the brothers’ entire lives. The work includes eye-opening details you may have never known about the brothers, their family, and their invention. McCullough reveals the early history of the Wrights and their upbringing, which uniquely qualified the bicycle shop owners for aviation experimentation. Further, McCullough details the brothers’ discovery and mastery of flight and also how they went about commercializing their invention.

81days81 Days Below Zero by Brian Murphy, New CD 940.54 Mur (audiobook)

This is the true telling of the story of Leon Crane, a WWII pilot who crashed into the Alaskan wilderness during a flight test. The rest of the crew were never seen again. Crane, through a combination of tenacity, luck, survival awareness, and the environment, endeavors to find any sign of life for rescue. His story is remarkable and Brian Murphy brings it to life with the inclusion of modern investigators who have searched for answers to the crash.

thomasjeffersonandpiratesThomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, New Nonfiction 973.47 Kil or New CD 973.47 Kil (audiobook)

America’s first war was not the War of 1812. It was against the Barbary nations of northern Africa. Under direction of the Ottoman Empire, these nations of Morocco, Tunis, Algiers, and Tripoli harassed American vessels, took American prisoners, and plundered American ships in the Mediterranean. While other European powers agreed to pay ransoms for clear passage, President Thomas Jefferson refused. Written by Brian Kilmeade (George Washington’s Secret Six), this book reveals America’s first conflict, the crucial development of its fledgling navy, and its rise to respect on the world’s political stage.

Chris – Technical Services

immortalsantaThe Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck, New Fiction Beck

“Before he was father Christmas…he was simply a father.” An epic tale full of drama, history, legend, and heart that gives the legend of Santa a long-overdue Christ-centered mission.

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It’s DecemberDec2015cover! Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

onceagainitschristmasOnce Again It’s Christmas by Kenny Rogers, New CD 781.72 Rogers

This is a new Christmas album by Kenny Rogers. His last Christmas album was released in 1998. This CD includes classic Christmas carols including The Little Drummer Boy, Winter Wonderland, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas, as well as original songs and duets with Alison Krauss and Jennifer Nettles. My favorites of the original songs are Once Again It’s Christmas and The Light. I also enjoyed There’s A New Kid in Town and Back to Bethlehem, which have been covered by other artists as well. Once Again It’s Christmas is a nostalgic song about the joys of the Christmas season. It reminds me of the classic song Silver Bells. The Light is a lovely ballad exalting the virtues of the Christian faith. The song includes accompaniment by a choir and an orchestra. There’s a New Kid in Town is a beautiful, melodic song celebrating the birth of Jesus. Back to Bethlehem is about the troubles of the modern world and returning to the values of Christmas. The album has a soft and peaceful mood, with string instruments and piano featuring on most of the songs, and makes a strong addition to our Christmas collection.

homefiresHome Fires starring Samantha Bond and Francesca Annis, New DVD Home Fires

This is a PBS period drama about the British home front during World War II, set in a small community in rural Cheshire and following the lives of the members of the local Women’s Institute. It was inspired by the nonfiction book Jambusters by Julie Summers, a history of the Women’s Institute during the war and its contributions to the war effort. The series opens in August 1939 and goes through the Battle of Dunkirk in May 1940. The series has been renewed for a second season, which will open in the summer of 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

Over 300,000 women were members of the Women’s Institute during the war. They did their part for the war effort by growing and preserving food, knitting for the troops, organizing the evacuation of children and taking in evacuees, setting up canteens for the troops, and raising money for needed supplies.

I am fascinated by the history of the home front of England during WWII – how England stood alone against Hitler and how strong the people were to keep going in the face of years of war and all the suffering and loss. The Blitz, food shortages, rationing, the death of loved ones on the battlefield and at home, constant fear of bombings, and yet they not only endured, but maintained positive, can-do attitudes. It is remarkable what women accomplished on the home front despite all the hardships and the strength and resolve shown by them. Women did men’s work in the factories and fields, kept their families fed when there was no food, lost not only husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers, but also women and children to bombings and other wartime events, took in evacuees, gave up their homes or land or possessions to the war effort, and in the end, they did their part to defeat Hitler.

halfbrokehorsesHalf Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, Fiction Walls

This novel by the author of the acclaimed memoir The Glass Castle is a fictional account of the life of the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, written in her grandmother’s voice. Lily was a woman ahead of her time, strong and independent. Born in the early 1900s, she spent much of her life on ranches in the American West. By the age of six, she was working with her father breaking wild horses. She went on to become a teacher, working in rural one-room school houses, and a mother of two. In addition to her skills with horses and teaching, she also learned how to fly an airplane, all great accomplishments for a woman of that time. She was a tough and practical-minded woman with good common sense who did not suffer fools gladly. The book was entertaining as Lily had an adventuresome life. Besides her experiences on the ranch, which involved flash floods, harsh winters, and all the other troubles that come with livestock and living off the land, teaching, and raising her children, she raced horses, ran moonshine, lost her sister tragically, married a con man before finding happiness with her second husband, and survived both the Depression and WWII. She passed away when the author was eight years old and is fondly remembered by her family.

Theresa – Youth Services

heartshapedboxHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, Fiction Hill

This is a ghost story about an aging rock star known for his strange and macabre collections. When he finds out that someone is selling a ghost, he has to have it. What he gets is a suit…the ghost’s suit, which comes in a heart-shaped box. What he doesn’t realize is that he was tricked into buying this ghost who has a reason to want him or anyone who helps him dead. It’s difficult to imagine that a ghost could cause bodily harm, but this one convinces his victims to harm themselves. Scary!

I enjoyed this as a perfect book to set the mood for Halloween. After reading it, I found out that the author, Joe Hill, is actually Joseph Hillstrom King, the son of authors Stephen and Tabitha King. He decided to use an abbreviated form of his given name in 1997, out of a desire to succeed based solely on his own merits rather than as the son of famous writers. After achieving a degree of independent success, Hill publicly confirmed his identity in 2007.

Dagmar – Circulation

hemingway

Hemingway & Gellhorn starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, DVD Hemingway

Hemingway & Gellhorn is a 2012 HBO biopic film by director Philip Kaufman (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), starring Nicole Kidman as Hemingway’s third wife Martha Gellhorn and Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway. They are one of the most famous American literary couples. The film tells the story of their passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage; it depicts the conflicts between the career of a great literary master and that of his beautiful wife, a trailblazing war correspondent. The adventurous writers, who meet by chance in 1936 in a Key West bar, meet again in Spain and they go together through the Spanish Civil War and stay there until 1939. She becomes his muse for the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. In 1940, Hemingway divorces his second wife and marries Martha. Together they witness history and cover the great conflicts of their time, but the war they could not survive was their own. “We were good in war,” says Kidman as the renowned war correspondent Gellhorn. “When there was no war, we made our own.” In 1945, Martha Gellhorn asks Hemingway for a divorce. Kidman received a lot of well-deserved praise for her performance as Martha Gellhorn, especially for using her beauty – exceptional figure and old- fashioned movie star glamour – to full effect. Owen portrays well Hemingway’s charisma and his legendary temper. The film also features an all-star supporting cast and has a lot of extraordinary archival footage scenes. The only flaw the film has is its length – 155 minutes. But it may be a good film to watch on one of those long winter nights.

Hubbell – Circulation

sixthextinctionThe Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, New Nonfiction 576.84 Kol or New CD 576.84 Kol (audiobook)

Written by journalist Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction examines the patterns of the phenomenon of mass extinction throughout natural history. The author, through the presentation of convincing scientific evidence, purports that we presently are in the sixth such massive die-off in Earth’s history. Kolbert keeps the tone light, however, and even entertaining with chapters like The Rhino Gets an Ultrasound and Dropping Acid. The first chronicles zoologists’ attempts at sustaining population of the near-extinct Asian Rhino while the the latter explains the process of ocean acidification and its dire consequences on marine biodiversity. By analyzing past examples of extinction periods throughout the geological ages, Kolbert (and scientists) suggest we have now entered a new period called the Anthropocene Epoch, in which humans have irreversibly changed the very nature of biology on the planet.

Brigitte – Circulation

natlampoonxmasNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase, DVD National Lampoon’s

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a Christmas classic that the whole family is sure to love. If you are feeling nostalgic this holiday season, check out this comedy starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, a man just trying to make the holidays fun for his family, often with hilariously disastrous results. Yule love it!

Jacob – Circulation

DeadwakeDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson, Nonfiction 940.4514 Lar

The Lusitania was a luxury cruise liner headed from New York to Liverpool. Tragically, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland and sank on May 7, 1915. Through meticulous research and historical documents, Erik Larson intertwines the stories of the ship and the submarine, while telling the story of this historic turning point in WWI. If you are a fan of Larson’s previous works, you will definitely enjoy this one as well.

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December 1, 2015 · 2:47 am

June

junecoverpossibleIt’s June. What could be better than sitting by the pool or at the beach with a good book?

 

 

Sue – Circulation

whistlingpastgraveyardWhistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall, New Fiction Crandall

I really enjoyed this coming-of-age story set in the early 1960s of the South and narrated by 9-year-old Starla. Starla’s mother left her and her father to be a star in Nashville when she was a toddler, so she has been raised mostly by her grandmother while her father is away working on an oil rig. Starla and her grandmother do not get along; Starla feels that the grandmother doesn’t love her as she is always punishing her. So Starla decides to run away to Nashville and find her mother. Along the road, Starla is picked up by a black woman named Eula traveling in a truck with a white baby. This is 1963 Mississippi, so that is not a usual site. However, Starla is an innocent child and so doesn’t fully understand the racial hatred of that time and place. Eula takes Starla to her home, where a confrontation with her violent husband sends her out on the road with Starla and the baby on the way to Tennessee. During the journey, Starla and Eula bond as they face experiences that test their courage and make them grow stronger. Starla learns some hard lessons about life both on the journey and when they reach Nashville. The relationship between Starla and Eula is portrayed beautifully and we really feel the love and devotion between the two.

firstimpressionsFirst Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett, New Fiction Lovett

Part historical fiction, part mystery, and part romance, this book alternates between the present day and the 1790s, telling the modern-day story of Sophie, a young woman just graduated from Oxford with a passion for English literature, especially the works of Jane Austen, and a 20-year-old Jane Austen herself in 1796 England. The part of the story involving Jane Austen revolves around her friendship with an elderly clergyman, Richard Mansfield, and the beginnings of her greatest novel, Pride and Prejudice. In the modern day story, Sophie gets a job in an antiquarian bookstore and receives two requests for an obscure book published in the late 1700s by an unknown clergyman. As Sophie investigates the requested book, she finds a link between it and Jane Austen that could rock the literary world, as well as endanger her own life. Being a book lover and book collector myself, I connected with the characters, especially Sophie’s Uncle Bertram, and I enjoyed the gentle relationship between Jane and Mr. Mansfield.

farmhandspiesFarmhand’s Favorite Pies: Recipes, Hints, and How-To’s from the Heartland by Amy and David Butler, 641.86 But

This book is invaluable for those who enjoy baking. I had never made my own pie crust before, but wanted to learn. I’d heard that using lard makes the best and flakiest crust, so I bought some organic lard and followed the recipe in this book for a super flaky crust. The book includes three recipes for crusts – two with butter, one with lard – as well as a crust for tarts and graham cracker and nut crusts. The book also includes tips and tricks for making the best crust and pies. In addition to the crust, I’ve also made the apple pie and it was a hit with my family. Recipes in the book include fruit pies, cream pies, tarts, and cobblers. The recipes come from blue ribbon-winning pies at county fairs throughout the U.S. Give the recipes a try – I’m sure you and your family will be pleased with the tasty results.

Jacob – Circulation

thunderboltkidThe Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, 921 Bryson

Bill Bryson is an author typically known for his travel and science writing. This book, though, details his childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1950s. Nothing about his upbringing is particularly noteworthy, but what makes the book so entertaining is Bryson’s humorous storytelling ability. He takes mundane events and adds his own personal twist. Bryson also weaves into his lighthearted memoir the latest gadgets and gizmos available to the American family in the atomic age. Overall, the book is an easy read and a glimpse into what it was like growing up middle class in mid-America after WWII.

Mary – Youth Services

annieonmindAnnie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, YA Garden

Originally written in the early 1980’s, and often on the list of banned classics, Annie on My Mind tells the coming of age story of two girls, Eliza Winthrop and Annie Kenyon. They meet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and since that meeting, they form a friendship, which transforms to a deep love for one another. At times, Annie on My Mind is a portrait of the times it was written in, but by extension, it is also an unfortunate portrait of intolerance still alive in modern society. You can heal or hurt because of your differences, and I think that Annie on My Mind provides a colorful cast of characters that will truly live beyond the time it was written for, as it already has. It is a book well worth checking out, and because of its frequently banned status, it is surely a story worth fighting to keep on library shelves.

1000formsfear1000 Forms of Fear by Sia, CD 781.63 Sia

There are very few songwriters as unique and explosive as Sia in modern music. Because of her distinct singing voice and iconic style of songwriting, the experience of listening to her sing is quite visceral. This album fully reflects the great emotional depth of her writing, and also her steely strength to battle pervasive anxieties, both personal and societal. 1000 Forms of Fear is a monumental achievement for Sia, and it leaves one imagining what she will do to top her latest work, as she always seems to do.

Hubbell – Circulation

poemsfromguanPoems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak, edited by Marc Falkoff, 892.7 Poems

Compiled by NIU College of Law professor Marc Falkoff, Poems from Guantánamo is eye-opening, inspiring, and heartbreaking. The collection features poems written by detainees themselves while incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay. The English translations are expertly done, annotated with linguistic details so that the native tone is not lost on the reader. Each poem is also prefaced with a brief summary of the inmate’s background and journey to the prison. One prisoner, detained at age 14, gives a harrowing account of his capture and transport to Cuba. Another, of British and Zambian heritage, wrote rap poetry to communicate with his family and friends back home. The stories portray a bleak existence of incarceration, but one that needs to be heard.

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May 2013

Hello and welcome to Sprummer. That’s Spring and Summer in one season, which is how its been feeling. Here’s some suggestions:

Jacob – Circulation


clapton“Clapton: The Autobiography”
– by Eric Clapton – Non-Fiction: 781.66 CLA
Eric Clapton chronicles his life in this touching autobiography. Not only does he detail the famous albums and musicians he is associated with, but he also shares his personal struggles and triumphs. It is these personal touches that make the book memorable. You learn what makes this man tick and why he is so successful writing songs and playing guitar. This is a great read.


chicago“Chicago: Then and Now”
– by Kathleen Maguire – Non-Fiction: 977.311 MAG
If you like Chicago and historical photographs, then this book is for you. Kathleen Maguire does a great job compiling pictures of old and new Chicago and then giving you the details in print. My favorite pictures are of horse carriages going down Lake Shore Drive in 1905 juxtaposed with the traffic of today’s LSD. This is a must read for any Chicagoan.

Melissa – Reference


mortality“Mortality”
– by Christopher Hitchens – Non-Fiction: 921 HITCHENS
This is Hitchens’s final work before he died, and it is as intelligent and well-written as his fans have come to expect. Although it is a small book, it was full of information and though-provoking points. The title makes it clear what this book is about, and Hitchens uses his own state of dying to reflect on life. He points out what a struggle it is for most people to accept their own mortality which leads them to hope for something more after death. The most interesting aspect of this book is the way he uses his own illness to construct arguments for his case, and does not change ideologies as many thought he might. He distances himself from the situation and still composes compelling arguments.


feast“The Feast of Love: A Novel”
– by Charles Baxter – Fiction: BAXTER
The characters in this story are connected through happenstance and love. Each character relates his or her experiences to the reader, who plays the role of a writer recording the tales and forms of love. The characters were complex and well-developed, though at times too self-aware to be realistic.
The story is well-crafted, and the reality of the situations is a strong feature of the book.

Matt – Circulation

MOSQUITO“Mosquito” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Music: CD781.66 YEAH YEAH YEAHS

When this band broke their style of straight, dark minimalistic rock was a breath of fresh air. Then they went on hiatus. Now they’re back and this album delivers some great songs from a very talented trio. There’s even a guest spot by Kool Keith as Dr. Octagon! A solid album.


embroyonic“Embryonic”
– The Flaming Lips – Music: CD 781.66 THE FLAMING LIPS

While this record came out in 2009 it was the last full Flaming Lips album and since our library doesn’t have the new record (yet) I’ll talk about this one. In regards to their other albums its heavier: heavy sounding, full of distortion and sound effects. While this record was panned by many, its a solid album with only a few faltering tracks. It still has all the good things about the Lips: good lyrics, solid compositions and memorable songs.

Check back next week for more recommendations!

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