Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hard Truths

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

Where is Wendy White? The sweet girl's disappearance is being accepted as one of those unfortunate events that will never be solved. Obviously, an agent from the outside has infiltrated rural Haeden. Wendy was the target. These things happen. These things happen all of the time.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sugar Queen or Back of Beyond?

The New Year is almost here. The holidays are almost over. Doesn't it seem like we should have time to read now? This is the perfect time to read in front of the fireplace with a favorite beverage close at hand. I will recommend something light and upbeat to start the New Year. If light and upbeat is not your style, I will also recommend something fast paced and full of action.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is full of hope and a little magic.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Penderwicks

We're right in the middle of the holiday season and I'm brimming with merriment and good cheer, so all I want to read these days are fun, cheerful books. If you're feeling that way too, then you should scoop up a copy of The Penderwicks and prepare to be charmed! The four sisters parading through the pages of this book may very well be some of the most lovable children you'll ever meet. There's four-year old Batty, who never goes anywhere without wearing her favorite butterfly wings; ten-year old Jane, a dreamy, aspiring author whose heroine is nearly as spunky as she is; eleven-year old Skye, a blunt and spirited tomboy who says exactly what she thinks; and twelve-year old Rosalind, the practical oldest sister who (almost always) cares for her siblings with kindness and grace. The Penderwick sisters, along with their new friend Jeffrey, spend the summer getting into and out of scrapes--including a close encounter with a bull, a midnight tumble into the lake, and an accidental romp through what was supposed to be a prize-winning garden. If you're looking for a quick, sweet, light-hearted read to get you through the holidays, look no further!

~Queen of Books

Monday, December 19, 2011

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

Eleanor Brown’s debut novel, The Weird Sisters, is nothing less than a gift to lovers of witty, domestic literary fiction.

The Andreas sisters are not weird in the conventional sense: think Shakespeare, rather than "strange." Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia--see what I mean?--are the offspring of a renowned Shakespeare expert and his loveable, distracted wife. The sisters grew up in a small, Midwestern University town, generally getting on each others' nerves (in the way of sisters) and flinging Shakespeare quotes at each other (not a normal sisterly activity, but Brown makes it work).

As adults the Andreas girls have gone their separate ways but as the novel opens they are about to be reunited, without warning. Bianca and Cordelia are returning home, individually and unannounced, on the pretext of helping the way-too-responsible Rosalind care for their ailing mother. In reality they harbor their own secrets and are seeking refuge while they figure out what to do next. They are not overjoyed to see one another.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Staff picks

These are the titles our staff enjoyed reading last month.

Patti enjoyed The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly.  Lulu stumbles across a collection of letters written by her great great grandmother Jo March.  She finds comfort and guidance from those letters as she deals with her own sisters.

Betsey recommends Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpren.  This is is a hilarious tour through high school clique-dom, as Jessie tries to find new friends.

Karen liked Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos.  Six years after their friendship ended, Pen receives a letter from her old friend, Cat. She will end up revisiting her complicated feelings about her former friend. 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Never Enough Nordic Noir

I'm always on the lookout for another Nordic Noir that catches my eye - so special thanks to my Goodreads friend for giving The Keeper of Lost Causes a 5-star review. I had seen this one come through the library, but it took a friend's rating to inspire me to read it. Jussi Adler-Olsen, winner of The Glass Key award, is promoted as Denmark's #1 crime writer. This is his first book published in the United States. The Keeper of Lost Causes is part thriller, part police procedural and entirely worth reading.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Forgotten Waltz

Anne Enright explores adultery - Irish style - in her latest novel The Forgotten Waltz as Gina Moynihan recalls her attraction to Sean, the resulting affair and the casualties resulting from the dissolution of two families. What starts as a story about a self-absorbed love affair becomes an unsentimental cautionary tale told through sharp observations and unflinching prose.  As with all of us, Gina's recollections are not linear and the most compelling are the dynamics between Gina and her beautiful excessive parents, and Sean with his brittle wife and fragile daughter.

The Library Journal summarizes this complicated tale best when describing it as, "A breathtaking work that will surprise you." Be surprised by this and other fine works by Anne Engright including her Man Booker Prize winning novel, The Gathering at your Library.

Vicki Ann

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On The Nightstand

For a reading addict, it's a bit dangerous working in the library.  I read book review magazines to find out the latest and greatest, I talk with coworkers about books and then folks coming in to the library gush about the wonderful book they just read and I "must" read it too, and let's not forget about the serendipity of walking in the shelves when a book cover catches your eye.  Which is why I have over 1500  books on my to-read bookshelf on Goodreads.  Of course, many of those books I actually check out with plans to read and then they are on my nightstand just waiting for the right moment.  Below is a random sampling from the nightstand:

The Voodoo Wave by Mark Kreidler and Crazy for the Storm by Norman Ollestad - it's impossible for me to pass by a new surfing book.  I'll never surf myself, but I love to watch and read about it whenever I can.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Pair of Time-Travel Novels

Generally, I like to read things with straightforward plots, clear and understandable. But then there are days that I just want my brain to be twisted into a pretzel, and that's when I pick up books like Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis, which won the prestigious Hugo Award earlier this year.

Set in . . . well, it's hard to say when this is set, because that's the plot, you see. In 2060, humanity has perfected the art of time travel. At Oxford, historians don't just read old diaries and peruse photographs, they go back in time to observe history as it happens. They do their best not to affect events, but they're secure in the knowledge that history is self-correcting and nothing they do can alter its course. Not really, anyway.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Lifetime in the Making...

A few weeks ago, a blog reader approached me and told me he loved a book I recommended, and he had one I should read. He described it to me, and it sounded up my alley, so I picked it up and gave it a try.

Lately I've been turning over the concept of "predestined love" and it seems I am involuntarily reading a spate of books that explore this idea. However, The Little Book by Selden Edwards is much more than a love story. A book that took thirty years to write, it spans ninety-one years with a grandiose historical setting, taking on pivotal historical moments, family relationships, time travel, and love.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Terrorism Up Close and Personal

Some lives and some novels are dramatically altered by one defining moment.  Incendiary by British journalist Chris Cleave is a brilliantly haunting example of Before and After.

On a lovely spring day, the narrator's husband and four year old son are happily attending a football match when 11 terrorist bombs explode in Arsenal Stadium blowing them and a thousand other spectators to bits and pieces.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Patrons' Recommendations

One of the things I enjoy about my job is talking about great books with library patrons and making suggestions about something they might like. However, one of the more unexpected pleasures of my job is all the recommendations I receive from patrons. Two books I have read recently based on patrons' suggestions are In the Woods by Tana French and Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In a Single Sitting

I have seen entire blogs and websites devoted to books read in a single sitting. Really? People have that much time that they can read all their books in a single sitting? Alas, I don't seem to have that much time. When I do read a book in a single sitting, it stands out as something special. I had heard of the Noah Braddock Private Investigator series, but I was a bit skeptical. A surfing PI seemed like a bit of a stretch. When Liquid Smoke came into the library, the cool cover caught my eye (I shallow!) and I thought I'd give it a go.

Noah is approached by a lawyer looking for help with her client, an inmate on death row in San Quentin. Noah is reluctantly drawn into the case when he hears the prisoner is Russell Simington, his biological father he never met. Simington has a reputation as a remorseless, cold blooded killer who made his career as a gun for hire. The family reunion sets events in motion with unforeseen and tragic consequences.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Staff Picks

Here is what our staff recently enjoyed reading.

Betsy and Heather recommend Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. Two stories weave back and forth, one told in prose and the other in pictures as two children search for what is missing in their lives.  Ultimately they find they need to be open to the wonders of the world.  

Helene enjoyed The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson.  It's an enchanting love story set in P. T. Barnum's American Museum in 1865 New York City.  The main character, Bartholomew, is The World's Thinnest Man. 

Karen liked The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok.  This is Mira's memoir.  Her mother is a homeless, schizophrenic whom she has been estranged from for seventeen years. After a car accident affects Mira's memory, her mother's diaries and letters allow her to build a memory palace and regain pieces of her childhood. 


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Olive in all of us

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout  is a novel in short stories.  The anchoring character is Olive Kitteridge, a school teacher in a small town on the coast of Maine. The stories take place over a lifetime of years.  Each story features Olive, her family or a resident of the town.  The author magically weaves these stories together so that by the end of the book the reader truly knows Olive.

Now the frightening part, Olive is us.  Olive is occasionally funny, often cruel, at times sensitive and sometimes extremely vulnerable. Her husband, Henry, who can only be described as long suffering, loves Olive despite her flaws. Her only child, Christopher, is smothered by Olive’s possessiveness, dependence and also her love.  I found that when I disliked Olive the most, I saw a part of me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shhh.....It's a Secret!

When Lemony Snicket completed his Series of Unfortunate Events, I fell into a state of despair. What other series, I wondered, could possibly fill this void in my life? What other books might contain an anxious but omniscient narrator who speaks directly to the readers; clever, resourceful children who manage to scramble out of any scrape, no matter how impossible or scary; and evil but slightly stupid villains whose nefarious plans threaten all hope of happiness? What other series might contain a mystery compelling enough to keep me awake late at night to finish the first book, just so I could dash to the library the next morning to scoop up the second title?

At last, my wait is over. I've found that series. Meet 11-year olds Cass and Max-Ernest, who, in a series of five books (each based on one of the five senses), try to uncover an enormously important secret, while preventing a group of grown-up scoundrels from finding it first. With a touch of magic, lots of luck, and plenty of brainpower, the children manage to stay just a few steps ahead of the bad guys--and the readers, too.

There's only one catch: the name of the book I'm recommending to you is also a secret. No, really, it is. Check out The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch, the first in the Secret Series.

~Queen of Books

Monday, October 31, 2011

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke

It's hard to imagine a character more luckless than Sam Pulsifer, the antihero of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. As a teenager he unwittingly sets fire to the Amherst home of poet Emily Dickinson, reducing it to ashes and snuffing out the landmark's docent and her husband in the process. He does ten years for his crime and returns home to find, to his utter amazement, hundreds of letters from people suggesting other famous authors' homes that deserve torching.

But Sam only wants to extinguish his fiery past and move on. With a new family, a career, and a life that's back on-track he keeps his incendiary history a secret until the unlucky day a stranger appears, introducing himself as the only child of the couple who died in the Dickinson House blaze. "You ruined my life," he tells Sam, "and now I'm going to ruin yours."

In short order the homes of Robert Frost, Edith Wharton, Herman Melville and other New England writers suffer suspicious blazes very much like Sam's trademark crime. His attempts to prove his innocence make for a darkly humorous story that will please any reader drawn to quirky characters, unlikely scenarios and a plot that twists and turns. At 305 pages  it's a quick and satisfying read.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cleverly Twisted

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

Two recent incidents prompted me to blog about this great book:

1. Spotting a Superman costume while shopping for Halloween festivities

2. A recent reader's advisory interaction with someone requesting "a fast, clean, unique, suspenseful mystery thriller"

Because I am not blogging about a comic book, the relationship of these incidents may appear uncertain. It is this combination of seemingly unrelated events that reminded me of the author Brad Meltzer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo Nears!

Have you always wanted to write a novel? Maybe you even have a dusty half-finished manuscript in a dresser drawer or saved on your computer somewhere. Someday, you tell yourself, when you are not so busy, when you have that good idea, when you can take a workshop, when... But that day never comes.  Wouldn't you like to get this goal off your bucket list and be able to tell yourself that you've written a novel? Well, have I got an idea for you...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lonesome Dove

How many times have you heard or said, "I remember where I was when...."?  Though more than 20 years have passed, I clearly remember my introduction to Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Standing in Kirk-Bear Canyon Library, I pulled out a paperback copy. Intimidated by its size (more than 900 pages) and its theme (at that time, I had never read a Western), I finally checked it out and read one of the finest books of our time.
This Pulitzer Prize winning tale defies labels - its scope and appeal are epic and universal. The storyline follows two former Texas Rangers and their crew as they drive a cattle herd from the Texas bush country to the wilds of Montana. On the way, The Hat Creek Outfit encounters plenty of action including rustling, lynching, locusts, lightning, raging rivers, stampedes, outlaws and Indians. However, beyond the action, this is a novel of character, opportunities, relationships and lives - loved, lost and wasted.

If you haven't read it, put Lonesome Dove on the top of your "Bucket" list. Even if you have read it, make plans to relive the adventure.

Find other fine works by Larry McMurtry at your Library.

Vicki Ann

Friday, October 14, 2011

Historical Fiction Turnaround

     After about the fifth novel I've totally enjoyed in the historical fiction genre, I realize that I have to stop saying I don't like historical fiction.  I guess I never wanted to feel like I was reading to learn about a time period, rather that I was just reading a good story.  But good historical fiction gives you both (and it's not a bad thing to learn about a particular time period). 
    With all of that baggage out of the way, I really enjoyed Ellen Baker's novel I Gave My Heart to Know This.  You get a little bit of Rosie the Riveter, a little bit of keeping the home fires burning during World War II, a little bit of Wisconsin farm life, a little bit of California dreaming and a whole lot of family secrets.  A wonderful story with well developed characters that might also convince you to give the historical fiction genre a try if you've stayed away before.  I'm a fan now!

More Books

Monday, October 10, 2011

Liar, Liar

There are many things to love about Megan Whalen Turner's books. For starters, there's her lovingly built world, which draws heavily on ancient Greece and Rome. There's her twisty-turny plots, which deal with the fates of nations and surprise you at every page turn. There's her grand themes, about love and fate and the terrible choices a king or queen must make. But for me, the thing that keeps bringing me back, and actually drove me to purchase my own copies of all four books, is Eugenides. He's the star of three books, The Thief, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia, and a major character in another, A Conspiracy of Kings.

Eugenides of Eddis is a thief, a liar, and a scoundrel. You really can't trust a word that comes out of his mouth. And yet, you can trust him.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Silent in the Grave

As I sat down to write this post, I had to think. What have I read recently that was fantastic, amazing, really rave worthy? I won't tell you how long I sat thinking, but finally it came to me.  Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn. First, allow me to share the first sentence.

"To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor."

I love that first line! Anyway, Silent in the Grave is the first of the "Lady Julia Grey" series. With a gothic Victorian setting, the series follows the eccentric March family, but especially Julia, as she dares social mores and protocols in discovering a new side to herself after the death of her husband leaves her a widow. The characters are outrageous but believable, the pace is just right, and the ending shocking. What more could you want?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wordcatcher: An Odyssey Into The World of Weird and Wonderful Words

Consider the game of catch - one throws - the other receives.  In Wordcatcher, Phil Cousineau has chosen 250 words he terms wild, wonderful and weird and tosses them to the curious reader in a number of unique and satisfying ways.

Consider his criteria for inclusion. Each word has a surprising derivation (BAFFLE), or is fun to pronounce (BAMBOOZLE) or is mellifluous to the ear (GOSSAMER). Accompanying each entry are companion words - words with close connections to the defined word as well as a myriad of literary examples.

Ready to play? Sip a cappuccino (see page 66) and leisurely contemplate kavla (pg. 168)


P.S. The modern family's road trip is packed with a mobile entertainment center (TV, DVD and CD player). When Phil was growing up, his father made sure to pack a dictionary along for the road. It came in handy when the family visited the Philadelphia home of Edgar Allan Poe and the tour guide uttered the word "tintinnabulation".

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bliss, Remembered

Do you listen to NPR on Wednesday mornings? Do you enjoy listening to Frank Deford talking about sports? You may not know that in addition to writing for Sports Illustrated and talking about sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO, Deford has written 15 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Bliss, Remembered is the most recent book written by Deford and is one of my current favorites. Set in both in 1936 and 2004, the story is about a woman named Sydney Stringfellow, an Olympic swimming hopeful in 1936. While in Berlin for the Olympics, Sydney falls in love with a young German man – the son of a German diplomat. Once back in the States, another young man enters her life. Fast forward to 2004. Sydney is dying of cancer and wants to tell her son a story about a secret part of her life. What follows is a wonderful conversation between mother and son, as she tells him things about herself he has never known.

I was enchanted by this story and thrilled with the ending. Whether or not you like Deford on Wednesday mornings, give this book a try. It’s wonderful!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Death, Cataloged

I'm a big believer in judging a book by its cover! I browse the library's new arrivals all the time, looking for a catchy title, an author I've heard good things about, or a description that grabs me. The Suicide Index by Joan Wickersham was one that appealed to two very different sides of me: the one that loves catalogs (naturally, since I work at the library!), and the one that morbidly enjoys grief memoirs. In this National Book Award finalist, Wickersham crafts the stark, painful story of her father's suicide, organized in an index.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Finding Christian Fiction

I am often asked for the location of the Christian fiction section in the library. Fiction, in the library, is shelved by author. So, how does one find sub-genres within the fiction section?

Christian fiction may be mystery, romance, suspense, science fiction or horror. My first suggestion is to use the "find popular authors by genre" link in the Books and Reading section on library's website. Another suggestion is to try using subject headings. A search for Christian fiction as a subject heading will yield 1509 results. If you have read your way through all the Beverly Lewis Amish books and want to find more Christian fiction Amish books, use the sort/limit function in the catalog by adding Amish as a subject. The results will be other Christian fiction books with Amish themes. You will discover the author Cindy Woodsmall by using this method.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Seriously cute

I love browsing coffee table books. When I say coffee table books I mean books with fantastic photography and just enough text to make for good browsing. I rarely purchase them, but it's fun to look. That's where the library is great. I can reserve all kinds of interesting ones, take them home, and browse to my heart's content; all without breaking the bank. In particular, I am a sucker for ones featuring cute animals. A new favorite that just came in is Friends by Catherine Thimmesh. It features unusual animal friendships like the orangutan and the kitten, and the giraffe and the ostrich. The photography is great and because all the stories are true there are little snippets of background information to keep things interesting. For one featuring cute puppies (wait aren't they always cute as puppies?) try Snog a Puppy's Guide to Love by Rachael Hale.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Staff Picks

Here is what our staff is reading this month. 

Helene enjoyed The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin.  Follow the heroine who conquered the country with a heart as big as her dreams. 

Michelle liked Rip Tide by Kat Falls.  When Ty finds a sunken township chained to a submarine, it's the first clue in an underwater mystery that threatens his family.

Karen recommends Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward.  When the headless corpse of her ex-fiancee turns up on their property siblings Paul and Lacey Hansen investigate.  This mystery is written tag team between the two authors and as they disagree about how the story should proceed the suspects and the body count rise.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson

OK, this title didn't send me scurrying to the shelves, but when I saw that Shakespeare: The World as Stage was written by the incomparable Bill Bryson I was delighted with my find. I love the way Bryson serves up information that's good for you and presents it with so much great storytelling, wry observation and outright wit that its impossible not to get smarter just reading him--sometimes in spite of yourself.

Shakespeare the man is a challenging subject. There's not much known about the Bard, who departed this good life in 1616 without leaving posterity much of a personal record. As Bryson points out, there are only a handful of days in Shakespeare's entire life about which we can say "...with absolutely certainty where he was." So, four hundred years later, to know Shakespeare the man one must understand the world in which he lived.

Bryson is a jolly tour guide to this world, clearly at home in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. He happily walks us through these calamitous times and covers all manner of diverse topics along the way, from economics (a well-paid headmaster earned 20 pounds annually) to societal norms (40 percent of brides were pregnant on their wedding day), and from jurisprudence (you could be fined for letting your ducks wander in the road) to diet (folks liked their food sweet, so black teeth, rotted from sugar, were commonplace. Poor people blackened their teeth so as to look more prosperous). There's fascinating stuff to learn about the theater, too (the Puritans believed theaters were "hotbeds of sodomy [and] wanton liaisons," and blamed them for all sorts of social ills and even a few natural calamities, like the earthquake of 1580).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Strong Women

Traveling with Pomegranates: a mother-daughter story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

In this intimate memoir, novelist Kidd and her daughter, Taylor, travel through Greece, Turkey and France. Each woman chronicles her unique quest to navigate a stage in life. Fifty-something Kidd is anxious about her health, menopause and creativity. Twenty-something Taylor struggles with depression and rejection as she tries to figure out what to do with her life. Both women seek to redefine and strengthen the mother-daughter bond.

Although this book moves slowly, almost too slowly, I'm glad that I fought the urge to stop reading. The resolution is satisfying. Ultimately, inspired by the lives of Athena, the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc and strengthened by a renewed understanding of each other, each woman finds clarity. The message is moving, memorable and thought-provoking. Additionally, the alternating narration adds interest and depth to the story, as do the descriptions of the fantastic travel destinations.

The story of this journey will resonate with women everywhere. Get ready to plan a trip--for your mother or your daughter, or maybe just for yourself.


Monday, September 5, 2011

The Poacher's Son

When I think of Maine, I have visions of beaches, lobster pots, yachts and lighthouses. It's easy to forget that the state is also known for timber, toothpicks and paper. The Poacher's Son is set far from the beaches, in the heart of the deep woods of Maine.

Rookie Game Warden Mike Bowditch returns home from investigating a pig-stealing bear to find a message from his estranged father, Jack, on his answering machine. It doesn't seem like a coincidence when Jack turns out to be the primary suspect in a double murder and the target of a statewide manhunt. No matter how many times he was disappointed in the past by his father, Mike can't believe that Jack is a cold-blooded murderer. Mike puts his career on the line when he heads out to find his father and discover what really happened.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Warm Bodies: A Novel by Isaac Marion

I know, I know, another zombie book. But what makes this one so special, you may ask?

How about if the zombie story was told from the point of view of the zombie? That's exactly what Isaac Marion has done in his beautifully written debut novel Warm Bodies.

The world of "R," the zombie narriator, is one in which all of the cities have fallen, zombies live in groups, and the surviving people have created survival cities inside sports stadiums. The newest generation of children have not known a world without zombies.

Now throw in a zombie-human romance and you have a book you won't be able to put down!

Find it at your local library!

~Roller Derby Librarian

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bent Road

Welcome to the high plains of Kansas, where you can see for miles and nothing's as it seems.

After a 20 year self-imposed exile, Arthur Scott relocates his wife and three children to the Kansas farming community of his youth. Years before, his beautiful blond sister Eve died mysteriously and small town speculation cast guilt on her boyfriend Ray who, after Eve's death, married her sister. The locals' open curiosity and condemnation reduced him to an abusive drunk and the likely suspect when another local beautiful blonde girl disappears shortly after the Scotts arrive.

Neither pastoral nor sympathetic, the country and community portrayed in Bent Road by Lori Roy is pure Midwest gothic with danger and drama around every corner.

Find it at your Library.

Vicki Ann

Saturday, August 27, 2011

This Post Brought To You By The Letter M, And The Number 3

It's true confession time.  I love my job as a librarian.  But, if by some remarkable chance, the folks from Sesame Street wanted to hire me, I'd move in a New York minute.  I was raised on this show, and I just never grew out of it.  The witty banter, the love of words and reading, numbers and letters, goofy puppets - what's not to love?  Imagine my delight when somehow, the DVD Best of Sesame Street Spoofs landed in my lap.  All the fun skits and songs, none of the boring videos of animals and large machinery. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Walking Dead, at Your Library

No question about it, zombies are hot right now. Here are a few notable zombie books I've read recently.

Ever since the first teenager walked the earth, adults have been the enemy. Now it's even more literally true, when a strange virus has turned everyone over sixteen into mindless cannibal monsters, leaving kids and young teenagers to fend for themselves in an increasingly desperate fight. It's not for the faint of stomach, but for those that like their zombie movies both gory and thought-provoking, The Enemy by Charlie Higson is a sure bet.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Haigh is for Jennifer

If you've missed reading any of Jennifer Haigh's 4 novels, you'll delight in discovering a new author for your literary fiction list. Hallmarks of Haigh's novels include beautiful language, unique multifaceted characters and the author's compassionate understanding of the complexities of family dynamics. Family in different shapes and guises forms the core of Haigh's fiction.

The Condition You'll first meet the McKotches, a large patrician Boston family, at The Captain's House, their usual summer gathering spot on Cape Cod. But this summer, the usual becomes anything but as family members watch Gwen, on the verge of adolescence, enter the water. Comparisons are inevitable between Gwen and her younger cousin but Gwen definitely looks younger. In fact, Gwen is diagnosed with Turner's Syndrome, a condition that will forever hold her in the body of a child. Gwen's condition is obvious but over the next twenty years other family conditions - less obvious but equally significant - financial, emotional and spiritual are masterfully brought to recognition.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sea Stories

It's August. It's hot. Let's face it, all of us in Tucson are dreaming about the beach... and when we say beach, we think beach reads. A beach read tends to hold the connotation of something light, something fun, something that probably falls into the guilty pleasure category you hide under your bed.

I've got another variety of beach reads for you: sea stories. Pirates and adventures and tales of the high seas! My one problem: I have so many favorite sea stories it was almost impossible to pick out one or two to highlight. But I love lists, so I am going to start a list of some of my all time favorite sea stories, and invite you all to keep this list rolling. If you are reading this from our library website, please click through to our blog page to add your favorite to our comment section.
  1. Piratica by Tanith Lee (as swashbuckling as it gets)
  2. The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman (for all the Gaiman fans out there)
  3. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Staff Picks

Check out what our staff enjoyed reading this month.

Betsey enjoyed The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt.  Holling is the only boy who doesn't attend religious instruction in school.  Instead he must stay in Mrs. Baker's class and read Shakespeare.  He must also deal with bullies, rats, and the school play. 

Heather liked Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.  The people on a small island must rely on all their ingenuity to communicate in an increasingly limited language when the goverment progressively bans letters from the alphabet.  As the letters are banned they also disappear from the book, with hilarious results. 

Maureen recommends Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee.  After the death of her estranged mother, who left Ohio years ago to live with her lesbian partner in New York City, seventeen-year-old Shawna tries to deal with her anger, her mother's other family, and secrets from the past. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I did not want to read this book. The book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, has a very cute name. Books with cute names just do not appeal to me. I like mysteries with hard boiled characters and plots that keep you on the edge of your seat. However, I needed a title to use for a book club, and it seemed like everything I wanted wasn't available. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is suggested for book club discussion groups. It was also a best seller, so I decided to give it a try.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Poetry for Skeptics

Maybe you're not usually the kind of person who curls up with a mug of tea and a volume of poetry on lazy summer nights; maybe you haven't read many poems since your high school English teacher assigned something that just seemed long and confusing. If your conception of poetry primarily consists of dusty tomes filled with poems written by dead poets, or if your reading tastes veer towards thoughtful, well-written novels, you should stop everything, right now, and go find a book by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. His brand new collection of poems is called Horoscopes For the Dead, and the one before that is Ballistics. The poems in both these books (as well as his earlier titles) focus on everyday themes and are written in beautiful, clear verse. They are often funny, sometimes poignant, and never stuffy or standoffish. Billy Collins has a way of making the ordinary seem extraordinary--or at least worth noticing.  Full of contrasts, surprises, and vivid imagery, these poems should be savored in a hammock, on a porch, beside a pool--anywhere you can relax and allow the words to settle into your bones. These poems are the perfect cure for the midsummer blues.
~Queen of Books

Monday, August 1, 2011

Deaf Sentence

Poor Professor Bates! The hero of David Lodge's Deaf Sentence won't see sixty again and, in a synergistic purgatory that may seem familiar to aging boomers, he's uncomfortably sandwiched in between the needs of adult children, concerns about his ailing father, a domestic role reversal prompted by his wife's business, and an infirmity of his encroaching old age that drives the action of this hilarious novel: after years of swimming against the tide of hearing loss, Desmond Bates must accept the fact that he is all but deaf.

It's a problem, all right. Weary of the constant professional humiliations posed by his deafness, Bates throws in the towel and retires from his teaching position at a university in Northern England. But, retirement simply presents its own set of hearing challenges. Hearing aids provide little relief so he tends to just wing it in social situations. Pretending he can hear when he actually has no idea what's just been said is frequently funny and occasionally catastrophic,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Real Issues

Did you enjoy the popular book "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time"? Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork gives us a book featuring a similarly strong-voiced, lovable main character, struggling with real world issues.

Meet 17-year-old Marcelo. Marcelo's father wants Marcelo to experience the real world and hopes to remove Marcelo from his specialized school the next school year. An opposed Marcelo can avoid the new assignment if he successfully completes summer employment at his father's law firm.

This beautifully written, insightful book displays Marcelo's challenges (he has Asperger's Syndrome) empathetically. In the real world, Marcelo experiences love and ethical dilemmas and discovers that nothing is black and white. Watching Marcelo, simultaneously naive and wise, navigate this new terrain is both engaging and thought provoking. While this highly acclaimed book is categorized for teens, it will appeal to a wide audience. And for family, friends and teachers whose lives have been touched by the autism spectrum, this story offers a revealing look at your genius' internal thought processes and strategies. Take a read! M

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Missing Persons

Sometimes when I read mysteries, I feel like Goldilocks in The Three Bears. This book is too cozy! This book is too scary! When I read Missing Persons by Clare O'Donohue, I felt like it was just right. Missing Persons is the first in a new series featuring Kate Conway. Kate, a reality TV producer of true crime shows, throws herself into her work after her estranged husband dies unexpectedly. When the cause of his death in inconclusive, Kate becomes a suspect in his death.

The plot moves along briskly, with the television show becoming more intertwined with Kate's personal life. Kate is a great character; she's both strong and funny. O'Donohue sets up an interesting supporting cast as well, especially Vera, the dead husband's girlfriend. When I'm next in the mood for a cozy mystery, I'm going to have a look at O'Donohue's first series that starts with The Lover's Knot: A Someday Quilts Mystery.

- Susannah

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Staff Picks

Here are some of the books our staff has been reading this past month.

Jenn recommends The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey.  The holy grail of surfing is the 100 foot wave.  Follow a tribe of extreme surfers as they get the adrenaline high from conquering these waves and living to tell about it. 

Maureen recommends Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry.  Zombies have taken over most of the world.  Benny reluctantly gets apprenticed to a zombie hunter and it will ultimately teach him what it means to be human. 

Heather recommends 101 Places Not to See Before You Die by Catherine Price.  Here is a humorous look at some of the least appealing places to visit.  A few spots in Arizona even make it into this book.