Monday, June 27, 2011

Staff Picks

Here is some of what our staff has read this month.

Helene recommends Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, A Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage by Pete Dexter. A collection of Pete Dexter's newspaper columns on life, death, and everything in between.

Maureen enjoyed Mare's War by Tanita Davis. Two teenagers reluctantly join their grandmother on a cross country road trip and find themselves entranced by her stories about serving in the African American regiment of the Women's Army Corps during World War 2.

Nyssa recommends Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Two Chinese sisters are sold into marriage to American husbands to settle their father's debts. Through it all their bond as sisters sustains them.

More picks.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Kind of Place

When it's summer in Tucson, and so blisteringly hot that you'd think you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, some people throw their shorts and flip flops into a suitcase and hightail it out of town. Others of us settle into an the sofa, crank up the air conditioning, and begin to read about those places we may not get to visit otherwise. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading Susan Orlean's My Kind of Place, a quirky conglomeration of essays broken into the categories of "Here," "There," and "Everywhere."

Monday, June 20, 2011

When the Killing's Done

One of the joys of reading anything by T.C. Boyle (and many joys await his readers) is the way he makes you reexamine the things you thought you knew. In his latest outing, When the Killing's Done, Boyle offers a thought-provoking look at environmental issues through the story of two philosophically incompatible characters engaged in a pitched battle over animal rights. Alma Boyd Takesue, a biologist for the National Park Service, oversees a program to eradicate an invasive species of rats from the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. Her goal is to return the islands to their one-pristine condition by preserving their native flora and fauna. Dave LaJoye, an animal rights activist, objects to the way the Parks Service is, in his opinion, trying to play god.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Girl in the Green Raincoat

Think "Rear Window," but with a pregnant private investigator confined to bed rest in her third trimester of pregnancy. In The Girl in the Green Raincoat, Baltimore native, Tess Monaghan still manages to get herself in plenty of trouble even when she doesn't leave her room. While suffering through her confinement, Tess watches dog walkers in the park every afternoon. One day, Tess spies a little dog running off without his owner. Tess can't rest until she finds out what happened to the missing woman.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reservation Blues

First, a blatant bit of self-promotion. The theme for the Mission Branch Library's "It's Winter Somewhere" book club is literary award winning fiction. We enjoy spirited discussions and mixed reviews on winners of the Pulitzer, Booker, National Book Award and others. Even if the book is not universally embraced, most often we all agree on the beauty of the language or the theme's poignancy. But, while worth the effort, many award winners can be challenging reads requiring great stamina and concentration. 

Which is why we all enjoyed Sherman Alexie's novel Reservation Blues, which contains the required amount of beauty and poignancy in a rollicking read. Much of the story happens in the Spokane Reservation starting when Thomas Builds-the-Fire stops at the Crossroads to pick up blues musician Robert Johnson. Looking to reclaim his soul and scarred fingers, Johnson leaves his guitar in Thomas' truck.  The guitar, not content taking a back seat, strums its siren song forcing Thomas to form a band with Victor and Junior who are both friends and foes. These guys rock and the talented guitar even lands them a recording session in New York where, confronted by their demons, they self-destruct.

Multiple award winner Alexie tackles the challenges and situations of reservation life with magic and vigor, weaving historic fact with fantasy. His observations on our cultural differences and the messages reservation children are fed, along with their government-issued peanut butter, are laugh out loud funny and tragic.

Reservation Blues is based on characters from Alexie's short collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven as is the movie Smoke Signals.

Find Sherman Alexie and other award winning books at your Library.

Vicki Ann

Thursday, June 9, 2011

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

It's summer! And that means it is time to let those chick lit titles fly!

My favorite author that gets put into this genre is Marian Keyes. She is an Irish writer who knows how to put serious substance into her entertaining reads. This Charming Man is a novel about how four different women's lives have been shaped by this one man - Paddy de Courcy. Paddy de Courcy is Ireland's debonair politician, the "John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin." All the charm in the world cannot cover up what this man really is - an abusive, egotistical brute.

This novel is not for the faint of heart; Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia each narrate their story with Paddy. Each of them discover how strong they really are, and the variety of places one can find support.

I'd like to see you try to put this page-turner down this summer!

Find This Charming Man at your library!

~ Roller Derby Librarian

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Reading Across the Pond

Lately, I've been reading a lot of kid's books that were originally published in other countries. These are always interesting because the slang, the traditions, the geography, and the history are all different. Here are a few I really enjoy.

Raider's Ransom by Emily Diamand
This book takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, when the oceans have risen, drowning most of the United Kingdom and hurtling humanity back into a more medieval society where only hints and scraps of high technology remain. It follows Lilly, on a quest to rescue the daughter of the prime minister from the Viking-like Raiders, and Zeph, the son and heir to the Raiders' leader. Exciting, fast-paced, and a little haunting when you recognize pieces of our world in the wreck of theirs.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Beautiful Place to Die

I'm number 460 on the waiting list for Michael Connelly's new book, The Fifth Witness, and there are still 25 people on the list ahead of me for the new Inspector Ian Rutledge book by Charles Todd. What do I read while I wait? I've got a book for you! A book of mystery, corruption, politics and for all you Ian Rutledge fans, a police detective who hears voices in his head. A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn is set in a small town in 1950s South Africa.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Web + book = Double the fun

I don't have a computer at home, so anytime I want to search on the Internet I bike over to my closest public library. Some of my favorite quirky websites are publishing books, so those of us who can't keep up on the web can at least read about the fun world we live in. Here are three great books that will entertain for hours (and feel free to follow up on the web).
First we'll start with cakes, specifically Cake Wrecks. Now I've had my share of cake mishaps - the three-layered cake that leaned like the tower in Pisa, the checkerboard cake that was as dry as a checkerboard, etc. But the pictures in this book literally take the cake - and they are all professionally created in bakeries across the country!