She was sassy, opinionated, brash, self-deprecating, raunchy, offensive and funny. Joan Rivers passed away last week at the age of 81, and her death has left me thinking about both her signature brand of stand-up and the female comedians who have followed in her wake. Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, said in a statement, “My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.” Here are some books from Rivers and her cohort to help us fulfill that wish.
“We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy” by Yael Kohen.
This oral history presents more than 150 interviews from America’s most prominent comediennes (and the writers, producers, nightclub owners, and colleagues who revolved around them) to piece together the revolution that happened to (and by) women in American comedy. Kohen traces the careers and achievements of comediennes – including Rivers – and challenges opinions about why women cannot be effective comedic entertainers.
“I Hate Everyone – Starting With Me” by Joan Rivers
Read this with a cocktail in hand. Rivers humorously lashes out at the people, places and things she loathes, including ugly children, dating rituals, First Ladies, funerals, hypocrites, overrated historical figures, Hollywood and lousy restaurants.
“Enter Talking” by Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers describes her bitter and bizarre rise to stardom, from her earliest memories that she belonged onstage, through her independent struggle in Manhattan, to the evolution of her one-person show and the winning of public and critical acclaim.
“The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee” by Sarah Silverman
Comedian Silverman’s memoir mixes showbiz moments with the more serious subject of her teenage bout with depression as well as stories of her childhood and adolescence.
“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling
The writer and actress best known as Kelly Kapoor on “The Office” shares observations on topics ranging from favorite male archetypes and her hatred of dieting to her relationship with her mother and the haphazard creative process in the “Office” writers’ room.
“Seriously, I’m Kidding” by Ellen DeGeneres
For those who like their humor to be cleaner than what Rivers delivers. The stand-up comedian, television host, bestselling author and actress candidly discusses her personal life and professional career and describes what it was like to become a judge on “American Idol.”
Editor’s note: book descriptions adapted from publishers’ marketing text.
How does it work?
- Sixteen young adult book clubs from libraries nationwide are responsible for narrowing down a list of nominees for teens to consider. (Does your book club want to get involved? Learn how.)
- Based on the recommendations of these teen book clubs, the list of this year’s 28 nominees was announced in April during National Library Week.
- Throughout the summer months, teens are encouraged to read as many of these titles as humanly possible.
- Readers ages 12-18 are invited to vote on their three favorite books through September 15.
- During Teen Read Week, October 12-18, the 10 most popular titles will be announced as the official 2014 “Teens’ Top Ten” list. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates to have this and other teen book news delivered to your email inbox!
Originally published at Voting Begins for “Teens’ Top Ten”.
On a recent day trip to the Omnimax theater at the St. Louis Science Center to see a film about D-Day, my father-in-law commented on how things might be now if Germany won the war. His comment struck a chord, reminding me of a book that I had recently learned of – C.J. Sansom’s alternate history, “Dominion.” This alternative history imagines a world in which World War II has not occurred.
Great Britain, still reeling from the war torn years of WWI, finds itself under the leadership of Lord Halifax rather than Winston Churchill. This single act drastically changes the world that would have been had WWII been allowed to play out. Author C.J. Sansom sets “Dominion” in the early 1950s, over a decade after a 1940 truce between the two nations. Great Britain now finds itself more and more under the control of its Fascist alli. During that decade, European Jews and now British Jews are gathered and shipped off to camps, under the guise of separating the races. In fact, they are being exterminated, as Nazis attempt to create a “pure” empire.
Sansom focuses his story on the growing resistance movement that fights relentlessly to overthrow the German regime that has infiltrated Great Britain. He follows David, a civil servant, who also happens to be working as a spy for the resistance; Sarah, David’s wife, and a pacifist; Frank, a college friend of David’s who holds a secret the Nazis will kill to get their hands on; and Gunther, the SS officer sent to capture Frank. “Dominion” is told from their various perspectives.
I loved the depth brought to the story as its perspective moved back and forth between these rich and compelling characters. Sansom’s research is also highly evident, particularly in his notes section at the book’s end. So although this is an alternative history, it is chock full of people who did exist. Sansom even incorporates other aspects of history into the story that add to its realism. For example, he includes a true fog event that occurred during the very time period during which the novel is set, which ultimately impacts the events that occur within the novel. Sansom’s extensive research truly creates a world that could have existed if the events of 1940 had gone differently.
“Dominion” is a great read for anyone who loves a thriller, but readers of historical fiction may find it satisfying as well thanks to all the research and real history found throughout the story. And for those of us who enjoy learning about history, but also enjoy pondering “what if,” it is certainly a book that does not disappoint. (And for those who are intrigued by the idea of reading alternative histories, the library owns several beyond this title. Check out some that you may enjoy reading by browsing our catalog.)
September is upon us! Time to get serious and hit the books. This month’s list of recommended titles from LibraryReads leaves behind the lighter fare of summer and includes some heavy-hitting literary fiction, as well as a book that stares death in the face. Here are the top 10 books being published in September that librarians love.
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory“
by Caitlin Doughty
“Part memoir, part exposé of the death industry, and part instruction manual for aspiring morticians. First-time author Doughty has written an attention-grabbing book that is sure to start some provocative discussions. Fans of Mary Roach’s ‘Stiff’ and anyone who enjoys an honest, well-written autobiography will appreciate this quirky story.”
– Patty Falconer, Hampstead Public Library, Hampstead, NH
by Emily St. John Mandel
“An actor playing King Lear dies onstage just before a cataclysmic event changes the future of everyone on Earth. What will be valued and what will be discarded? Will art have a place in a world that has lost so much? What will make life worth living? These are just some of the issues explored in this beautifully written dystopian novel. Recommended for fans of David Mitchell, John Scalzi and Kate Atkinson.”
– Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC
“The Secret Place“
by Tana French
“French has broken my heart yet again with her fifth novel, which examines the ways in which teenagers and adults can be wily, calculating and backstabbing, even with their friends. The tension-filled flashback narratives, relating to a murder investigation in suburban Dublin, will keep you turning pages late into the night.”
– Alison McCarty, Nassau County Public Library System, Callahan, FL
And here is the rest of the list with links to our catalog so you can place holds on these on-order titles.
- “Rooms” by Lauren Oliver
- “The Children Act” by Ian McEwan
- “The Distance” by Helen Giltrow
- “Horrorstor” by Grady Hendrix
- “The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters
- “The Witch with No Name” by Kim Harrison
- “Season of Storms” by Susanna Kearsley
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The September 2014 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
Genetic modification is a hot topic, and not just because of the literal heat harbored by pumpkins inexplicably modified to cast horrifying, fiery glares our way every October. There are pluses, like massive potatoes capable of feeding dozens, talking to you when you’re lonely and even playing a competent game of checkers. Perhaps you give birth to Siamese twins with a gift for playing piano. There are minuses though, besides hateful pumpkins and repeatedly losing to a potato at checkers. Maybe you birth a child with flippers for limbs and a predilection for starting popular cults that mandate the removal of one’s own appendages. Also, as gene tampering becomes rampant, people will grow weary of picking their future children’s hair colors and which professional sport they will play. Parents will long for the days when, if you didn’t like your child’s hair, you simply shaved them bald, and if you wanted them to excel at sport, you were forced to mercilessly prod them until their vertical leaps were satisfactory.
While the profile of genetic shenanigans grows with every neon-blue tomato on our plates and Robocop on our streets, people have been obsessed with genes since the first bald man looked scornfully at his father’s bountiful locks. And 25 years ago, Katherine Dunn tapped into this obsession and combined it with another topic constantly on the minds of modern humans (travelling freak shows) into one gloriously deformed firecracker of a novel.
“Geek Love” is narrated by Olympia, a hunchback albino dwarf, member of her parents’ lucrative freak show and product of her parents’ crude attempts to modify DNA for profit. Her parents, Aloysius and Crystal Lil, used drugs, insecticides and radioactive stuff to conjure strange fruit from the womb. Oly’s older brother, Arturo, is the aforementioned flipper-limbed, cult leader. Electra and Iphigenia are the Siamese piano dynamos. Fortunato is the youngest, a seemingly normal child nearly abandoned for his uselessness until his telekinetic powers manifested themselves.
The novel jumps between two eras. One covers Oly’s childhood with the carnival and the familial strife, much of it conjured by Arty and his cult of Arturism. The other era features Oly taking care of a mother who doesn’t know who she is, perhaps in part because of the radiation and insecticides, and stalking a daughter who doesn’t know who she is because Oly gave her to some nuns when she was a baby. The twin narratives race along like the most awesome and lengthy roller coaster ever, and you’ll leave the tracks dazed, queasy, having lost your sunglasses and ready to get in line for the next Katherine Dunn novel, which doesn’t yet exist as the author spends much of her time using her boxing knowledge to fend off muggers.
The reader should be warned, in addition to the reckless gene doctoring, there is content not for the faint-hearted: telekinetic pickpocketing, attempted murder, a human with a tail, murder, unnecessary amputations and, depending on how you define it, incest. But if you like words and watching someone bite the head off of a live chicken, this may be your new favorite novel.
“True Grit,” by Charles Portis, is a book that defies genrefication. It’s an American adventure semi-western coming-of-age dramatic comedic fictional memoir. The narrator is Arkansas resident Mattie Ross, speaking as an older woman, recalling the time in the 1870s when she was 14 years old and set out to capture her father’s killer, a man named Tom Chaney.
Much of the entertainment value, the thing that keeps me re-reading certain passages, stems from Mattie’s voice, which Portis has crafted perfectly. Mattie holds firm convictions about how things should be. Her love language is legal representation. She freely offers the assistance of her family attorney to those she respects. Her liberties with the lawyer’s services extend to forging his signature on her own letter of identification. Early on she says “If you want anything done right you will have to see to it yourself every time.” This philosophy compels her to carry her father’s war pistol and accompany Marshall Reuben (Rooster) Cogburn, the man she has hired to track Chaney, on his manhunt in Choctaw territory, where Chaney has fallen in with a group of outlaws.
Rooster Cogburn is described by another character in these words: “a pitiless man, double-tough, and fear don’t enter into his thinking. He loves to pull a cork.” But later events show he is not entirely without pity, especially when it comes to Mattie. And she is not entirely inflexible, making allowances for Rooster’s cursing, drinking and the fact that he himself once fled parole in Kansas. Unlike Mattie, Rooster thinks more in terms of how things are than how they ought to be. His catch phrase is “That is the way of it.” Despite their differences, Rooster and Mattie often bring out the best in each other.
But there is a third member of the party who can rile both of them, a dandy of a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (pronounced “LaBeef”). Chaney is also wanted in Texas for killing a senator, and there is a substantial reward involved. LaBoeuf has been after the killer for some time, but it’s unclear whether the ranger is motivated more by money or pride. His magnificent spurs – a symbol of his self-image – are mentioned multiple times.
As the trio closes in on the gang of ne’er-do-wells, the action becomes ever more thrilling. Each one of the three protagonists is required to dig deep into their reserves of courage, loyalty and, of course, grit. As in all good fiction, nothing comes without sacrifice. Mattie, especially, pays a large price for what she’s gained.
If you’ve been meaning to get around to reading “True Grit,” take heed of the older Mattie’s words: “Time just gets away from us.” Buckle down and get to it.
Review of the Seven Deadly Sins Mystery Series, by Anne Zouroudi
Some mysteries, especially those of the “cozy” persuasion, move at a leisurely, describe-every-parasol-and-moustache pace. This generally does not work for me. Forget the stage-dressing, give me lots of action and witty repartee, and wrap it up with a clever solution in under 300 pages, and I’ll be your fangirl. Otherwise, it’s the nearest book drop for you, Cozy Author.
But it seems I’m becoming a kinder, gentler mystery reader. To my surprise, I just finished the fourth book in the Seven Deadly Sins series – a set of strangely hypnotic mysteries with a pace that can only be described as glacial.
This is largely due to the mellow, tortoise-like demeanor of the central character, Hermes Diaktoros, referred to throughout the series as “the fat man.” We never learn much more about Diaktoros, other than that he’s Greek, meticulous about his appearance (especially about his trademark white sneakers), and mysteriously well-off and well-connected. It also soon becomes clear that he’s very, very observant and just about fearless.
The fat man meanders around the Mediterranean doing – well, we’re often not quite sure what he’s doing. Righting vague interpersonal wrongs? Investigating crimes that no one else wants solved? He sits in cafes, takes long, leisurely walks, asks the locals odd questions and collects things in tiny boxes. Eventually, what was dark and sinister is brought to light and justice. Sort of.
I realize I’m not explaining this very well, mainly because I have a hard time remembering what actually happens in these books. I just drift along, enjoying Zouroudi’s luscious, atmospheric prose, spacing out in a sweet Mediterranean dream – the lemony sunshine, the bay dotted with fishing boats, the smell of sea and rosemary. And hey…that fat man over there. What’s he doing?
Now that I’m deep into this mystery series, I know that if I follow this slow, strange guy around for awhile, things will get very interesting. And that seems to work for me.
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS MYSTERY SERIES AT DBRL
“The Messenger of Athens” (Lust)*
“The Taint of Midas” (Avarice)
“The Doctor of Thessaly” (Envy)
“The Lady of Sorrows” (Wrath)
*In this first book, the fat man doesn’t appear very often. Fortunately, the author corrects this mistake in the rest of the series.
Note: The next three books in the series – “The Whispers of Nemesis” (Pride), “The Bulls of Mithros” (Sloth), and “The Feast of Artemis” (Gluttony) are not yet available in the U.S.
The post Who Is Hermes Diaktoros, and What the Heck Is He Doing? appeared first on DBRL Next.
Do you enjoy mysteries? Do you like plants? If you answer “yes” to both of these questions, then Ruth Kassinger’s “A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered That Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants” is just the book for you. Think about it – few things around us are more mysterious than plants, and Kassinger does a great job writing about them in an engaging and entertaining way. She talks about plant evolution, the history of botany and the people who propelled it forward (as well as the techniques they used). She describes her visits to universities where contemporary scientists shared their knowledge with her. And she shows the inner workings of plants: the way they breathe, propagate and survive adverse conditions (this information is arranged in three separate chapters: roots, leaves, and flowers). Kassinger even explores the world of competitive giant pumpkin growing, and she takes her readers to an annual fall festival in Maine, where pumpkin lovers turn pumpkins into competitive racing boats.
At the end of the book, the author touches on the possible benefits of the genetic engineering of food plants and the use of plants as biofuel. One of the readers described “A Garden of Marvels” this way: “I highly recommend this book to everyone – even if it means I’m no longer the only one in the room who knows the difference between collenchyma and sclerenchyma, and I lose my Look-How-Plant-Smart-I-Am edge in cocktail party small talk.”
P.S. If you like “A Garden of Marvels,” don’t miss another book by Kassinger: “Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates A Conservatory Garden.”
The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult novel that is selected by Missouri high school students. Even though this award is administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to vote on the actual winner. This year’s finalists were announced last December and voting will take place in March 2015.
This year’s nominees include several dystopian books such as “Starters” by Lissa Price and “Article 5” by Kristen Simmons. There are also several promising realistic fiction titles including “Something Like Normal” by Trish Doller and “Boy21” by Mathew Quick.
My personal favorite, so far, is David Levithan’s “Every Day.” He and John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” teamed up several years ago to write a fantastic book called “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.” It’s not surprising to find both accomplished writers on this year’s Gateway nominee list.
“Don’t Turn Around” by Michelle Gagnon
After waking up on an operating table with no memory of how she got there, Noa must team up with computer hacker Peter to stop a corrupt corporation with a deadly secret.
“Starters” by Lissa Price
To support herself and her younger brother in a future Beverly Hills, 16-year-old Callie hires her body out to seniors who want to experience being young again, and she lives a fairy-tale life until she learns that her body will commit murder, unless her mind can stop it.
“Something Like Normal” by Trish Doller
When Travis returns home from Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he has nightmares of his best friend getting killed. However, when he runs into Harper, a girl who has despised him since middle school, life actually starts looking up.
“Of Poseidon” by Anna Banks
Galen, prince of the Syrena, is sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. He finds Emma and after several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, Galen becomes convinced Emma holds the key to his kingdom.
“Article 5” by Kristen Simmons
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings, the only boy Ember has ever loved.
“Croak” by Gina Damico
A delinquent 16-year-old girl is sent to live with her uncle for the summer, only to learn that he is a Grim Reaper who wants to teach her the family business.
“Burning Blue” by Paul Griffin
Beautiful, smart Nicole is disfigured when acid thrown is in her face. She befriends Jay, a young computer hacker, while visiting the school psychologist’s office, and Jay resolves to find her attacker.
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.
“Trafficked” by Kim Purcell
A 17-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles.
“The Night She Disappeared” by April Henry
Told from various viewpoints, Gabie and Drew set out to prove that their missing co-worker Kayla is not dead. Meanwhile, the police search for her body and the man who abducted her.
“Every Day” by David Levithan
Every morning A wakes in a different person’s body, in a different person’s life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until he wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.
“Revived” by Cat Patrick
Having been brought back from the dead repeatedly by a top-secret super drug called Revive, 15-year-old Daisy meets people worth living for and begins to question the heavy-handed government controls she has dealt with for eleven years.
“Boy21” by Mathew Quick
Finley, an unnaturally quiet boy who is the only white player on his high school’s varsity basketball team, lives in a dismal Pennsylvania town that is ruled by the Irish mob. When his coach asks him to mentor a troubled African American student who has transferred there from an elite private school in California, he finds that they have a lot in common.
“Dark Eyes” by William Richter
Adopted from a Russian orphanage by a wealthy New York family then growing into a rebellious youth, 15-year-old Wally resolves to find her birth mother who stole a fortune from her murderous, dark-eyed father.
“Breaking Beautiful” by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Allie is overwhelmed when her boyfriend, Trip, dies in a car accident, leaving her scarred and unable to recall what happened that night, but she feels she must uncover the truth, even if it could hurt the people who tried to save her from Trip’s abuse.
Originally published at 2015 Gateway Award Nominees.
Graphic novels can be great to read if you don’t have a lot of time or if you don’t consider yourself much of a reader. With more images and fewer words than a regular novel, graphic novels make it easy to get drawn into the author’s world. Science fiction in particular is a great genre to read in graphic novel form because the images help bring the story to life, giving real depth to aliens, monsters and spaceships. I went through DBRL’s collection of science fiction graphic novels, which is pretty large, and picked out five popular and interesting series to tell you about.
Tune by Derek Kirk Kim
Lighthearted and funny, “Tune” is great read. This graphic novel is going to be more fiction and a little less science. It’s about an art college student named Andy who finds himself in desperate need of a job. The only offer Andy gets is to be an exhibit at an alien zoo. Not only is this graphic novel full of witty humor, but it is also drawn well, easy to read and hard to put down. Currently, there are only two books in the series, but with the way the second book ends, there is no doubt that more are going to come.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Chris Roberson
This series is the prequel story to Philip K Dick’s science fiction novel of the same name. If you enjoyed that read, then this graphic novel is definitely worth checking out. It follows two different story lines that slowly grow together and begin to intertwine. With an android trying to hunt down other runaway androids, an empath trying to control his power and a scientist trying to save the human race from dying out, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has it all.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
The series Saga starts by throwing us into a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance where a couple from two warring races are having a child together. What better way to start a graphic novel than that? With characters like a teenage ghost, a robot prince, a dad with magic and a mom with wings, it’s hard not to love Saga. Just beware, you won’t find the same lighthearted sense of humor here that is present in Tune. There are currently three volumes published in the Saga series.
Y, The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
When I found out that the series Saga and Y, The Last Man were written by the same author, I wasn’t too surprised. Y, The Last Man shares the same serious and slightly violent feeling that Saga does. In this graphic novel series, the plague doesn’t turn people into zombies; it kills off every living creature with a Y chromosome, minus, of course, one spunky escape artist, Yorick, and his male monkey, Ampersand. While Yorick, a secret agent, and a scientist try to find a way to save mankind, the trio gets caught up in a lot of scary situations. With 10 volumes in this series, it will keep you turning pages till the very end.
The Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman
The Manhattan Projects was my least favorite series of the five. The story was based around an alternative history involving scientists and aliens. It is well written, and the art style is original and different. It is set right after the fall of Hitler and Nazi Germany. A group of scientists have created a special lab, The Manhattan Projects, where they investigate portals to alternative worlds, nuclear bombs and computers that can think on their own. It is an interesting concept, but because it is based in real history, I had a hard time not questioning the plausibility of what was occurring. If you’re interested in scientists and history, though, then this is the science fiction graphic novel for you.
Need a thriller or a romping romance to take your mind off of the school year’s approach? How about losing yourself in an imagined world via Sci-fi or historical fiction? This month’s LibraryReads list has you covered. Here are the top 10 books being published in August that have librarians buzzing.
by Chelsea Cain
“Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at 21, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller.”
- Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ
by Amy Bloom
“Is a family the people you are born to or the people who you find along the way? That’s what Bloom explores in this novel set in pre- and post-WWII Ohio, Los Angeles, New York and Germany. The story follows resourceful Eva, who was abandoned by her mother at an early age, and her sister Iris, an aspiring actress who tries to find love at a time when her kind of love must be secretive. Every character is beautifully drawn, warm and believable.”
- Kathryn Hassert, Henrietta Hankin Branch Library, Chester Springs, PA
“Heroes Are My Weakness“
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
“Any Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel is going to make it onto my must-read list, but this one is particularly wonderful, and here’s why: she creates, then cheerfully destroys, the romance cliche of the brooding hero with a dark secret who lives in a crumbling mansion and captivates a plucky heroine. The hero is a horror novelist, and the heroine a failed actress-turned-puppeteer. This warm, witty, comedy-drama is a perfect summer read.”
- Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH
And here is the rest of the list with links to the catalog for your hold-placing pleasure!
- “Lock In” by John Scalzi
- “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton
- “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty
- “The Truth about Leo” by Katie MacAlister
- “An Unwilling Accomplice” by Charles Todd
- “The Magician’s Land” by Lev Grossman
- “The Story Hour” by Thrity Umrigar
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2014 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
Consecutively devouring ten books by the same author is not without its hazards. That such an undertaking insisted on itself proves it worthy, and surely being squarely in the grip of a master yarn-spinner is nothing to raise a fuss over. But might the immersion in such a distinct style cause a gentleman to subconsciously drift toward a foolish imitation unworthy of the inspiration? Might the constant brutality perpetrated by hill-folk not warp one’s perceptions until they find themselves cowering from anyone with a downhome drawl or countrified attire? Perhaps one would find themselves either desperately craving or spectacularly repulsed by squirrel meat.
Anyhow, at the risk of extending an unkindness to three, I’d venture that seven of Daniel Woodrell’s books are masterpieces. The three I’d omit from this designation make up “The Bayou Trilogy,” his first, third and fourth books. Focusing on the ex-boxer and current detective Rene Shade, these books are fun, fast reads and about as good of a character study as you’ll find filed in the crime section of a place that obsessively segregates their genres. They just don’t pack the wallop of his other works.
I’d judge his second book to pack a mighty punch. “Woe to Live On” is narrated by a Civil War rebel. Despite his allegiance and tendency to murder boys because “pups become hounds,” Woodrell, as great writers do, earns the reader’s empathy.
After completing “The Bayou Trilogy,” Woodrell began writing about the seedier, grislier aspects of his home, the Ozarks. “Give Us A Kiss: A Country Noir” is the blood and booze-soaked ride its subtitle implies. “Tomato Red” chronicles the hazards of vandalizing a golf course and a drifting, meth-dabbling lifestyle. “The Death of Sweet Mister” tells of a particularly troubled spell in a 12-year-old boy’s life, offers maybe my second favorite of Woodrell’s voices, and ends with a devastating sentence I’d like to talk about but for my aversion to goose-pimples. His most well-known book, “Winter’s Bone,” is such in large part because of the award-winning film adaptation. But I’d urge you to read it regardless of your familiarity with the movie. I reckon the dread conjured on its pages cannot be replicated by city-folk and their fancy lights and transparent plastics. “The Outlaw Album” is a collection of short, brutal stories.
His most recent book, the one with my favorite of his voices and the one that lead me down Woodrell’s backwater rabbit-hole, is “The Maid’s Version.” A fictionalized recounting of a real dance hall explosion in a small Missouri town, this novel attached me to characters in a matter of sentences before whisking them away and into pieces. If you’re the sort to deface books, there are sentences worthy of a highlighter. The perils of that act would be facing a dried-up highlighter and a thoroughly emphasized text.
Woodrell’s characters often behave downright ungentlemanly, what with the murder, spousal abuse, robberies and squirrel eating, but this grisliness is rendered in prose poetry so sharp you’ll have a gamy taste in your mouth, a hankering for mid-morning rum and a healthy suspicion of anyone from down Ozarks way. (I’ve read they’re apt to steal your prescriptions.)
If you missed Laura McHugh’s author talk in June, you’ll have a chance to catch her at the Columbia Public Library on September 18, when she’ll be leading a book discussion of this year’s One Read selection, “The Boys in the Boat.” Her own book, “The Weight of Blood” is hyper-local, much of it having been written in the Quiet Reading Room at the Columbia Public Library. The novel centers around two cases of missing persons, a generation apart.
Lucy Dane’s mother disappeared when Lucy was a small child. Rumors about Lila Dane, a mysterious outsider who married a local, have swirled around the tiny Ozarks town of Henbane ever since. Years later, when Lucy is in high school, her friend Cheri vanishes, as well. Unlike Lila, Cheri turns up eventually – dead. In a small town where everyone seems to know everyone else’s business, nobody has answers for Lucy about what happened to either young woman. But she is determined to find out.
McHugh looks at parts of American life that many of us would be happy to ignore. The story is told from multiple viewpoints, both present and past. The tension builds as the two timelines draw together to reveal the scope of what has been, and still is, happening.
“Everyone Dies in the End” by Brian Katcher is equal parts dark and funny. Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft wrote a romantic comedy. This young adult novel relates what a student journalist finds when he digs too deep. And by deep, I mean think about undead creatures that dwell underground.
Sherman Andrews has goals, dreams, ambitions. And he packs them all along with him to the Missouri Scholars’ Academy the summer before his senior year of high school. There he becomes involved with an ace library assistant (the love interest) who helps him investigate a series of unsolved deaths and disappearances from the 1930s. There are obstacles, of course – threats from people who don’t want the truth uncovered, a source who might or might not be delusional, the occasional supernatural manifestation…
Both books contain a scare factor as the characters encounter evil in different forms, but both also have characters who stand up to the evil and shine a light into the darkness.
The post What’s New and Local at Your Library: Into the Dark Places appeared first on DBRL Next.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has created a Tween Recommended Reads booklist, intended to engage and encourage reading among those ages 10 to 12-years-old. This list has some familiar award-winning titles such as “The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen as well as some new gems such as “The Lions of Little Rock” by Kristin Levine.
You can pick up a printed copy of this booklist at any of our three branches, or download one directly from the ALSC website. How many have you read? Do you have any personal favorites? Let us know in the comments below.
“Almost Home” by Joan Bauer
Sugar and her mother try to make a new start in Chicago, but with unanticipated struggles, they ﬁnd themselves homeless. Joined by a rescue dog named Shush, Sugar learns to make the most of her new life.
“Doll Bones” by Holly Black
Until recently, Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been playing an ongoing game with dolls and action ﬁgures. When Poppy takes the queen, an antique bone china doll, she is haunted in her dreams by the ghost of a girl. Can the friends stop the haunting?
“Drama” by Raina Telgemeier
Callie has Broadway dreams for her school’s production of “Moon over Mississippi.” Will the drama on and off the stage prevent the show from going on?
“Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” by Chris Grabenstein
Kyle and 11 other 12-year-olds win a contest to spend the night in the brand-new, high-tech library built by famous game maker Luigi Lemoncello. To be able to leave, they learn, they must ﬁnd a secret escape out of the library using only what’s in it.
“The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen
A devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition where treachery and deceit unfold, until ﬁnally, a truth is revealed that may prove more dangerous than all of the lies put together.
“Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms” by Lissa Evans
Great Uncle Tony disappeared 50 years ago, but 10-year-old Stuart picks up the trail as if it were yesterday, and he is soon on a quest to follow the clues to his great-uncle’s fantastic mechanical magic workshop.
“The Hypnotists” by Gordon Korman
Jackson Opus is a hypnotist who can make anyone bend to his whim. When Jax joins an elite group of hypnotists, he ﬁnds himself part of a conspiracy that has Jax wondering just whom he can trust.
“In a Glass Grimmly” by Adam Gidwitz
Princess Jill joins up with cousin Jack and a frog; they set off on a life-or-death quest to ﬁnd the “seeing glass,” encountering goblins, mermaids, and a monster. Gory, hilarious, smart, and lyrical.
“Jinx” by Sage Blackwood
A wizard’s apprentice sets off on a quest through the dangerous Urwald, a magical forest full of witches and were-creatures, and discovers he plays a key role in its survival.
“Keeper of the Lost Cities” by Shannon Messenger
Twelve-year-old supersmart Sophie learns that she is actually an elf. Thrust into unfamiliar elven society, she investigates her origins and the deadly ﬁres sweeping the human world.
“Liar and Spy” by Rebecca Stead
Georges adjusts to moving from a house to an apartment, his father’s efforts to start a new business, his mother’s extra shifts as a nurse, being picked on at school, and Safer, a boy who wants his help spying on another resident of their building.
“The Lions of Little Rock” by Kristin Levine
In 1958 school integration was a political battle. Marlee is smart, but terriﬁed to say things aloud in public. Then she befriends—and talks (!) to—Lizzie, the new girl in her middle school. Lizzie abruptly leaves school. Why? Marlee wants her friend back.
“Odessa Again” by Dana Reinhardt
Odessa’s dad is remarrying, but shouldn’t that mean marrying her mother again? Stomping around her attic bedroom, she discovers a loophole that allows her to travel back hours in time. What would you do over if you could?
“The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate
Ivan is a gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. When baby elephant Ruby arrives, Ivan realizes they deserve better than their miserable environment. How does a gorilla execute a plan to give Ruby and himself a better life?
“P. S. Be Eleven” by Rita Williams-Garcia
The world is changing like crazy in the 1960s. Delphine’s mother reminds her (by mail) not to grow up too fast, to remember to just be 11. But each adult in Delphine’s life has a different idea of what that means.
“The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee: An Origami Yoda Book” by Tom Angleberger
Can Sara’s advice, provided by an origami Wookiee, possibly replace Dwight and the all-knowing Origami Yoda at McQuarrie Middle School?
“Shadow on the Mountain” by Margi Preus
Inspired by a true story, this adventure set in Norway during World War II tells the story of a young boy who joins the Resistance, must learn whom to trust, and risks his life for the cause.
“The Spindlers” by Lauren Oliver
Accompanied by an eccentric, human-size rat, Liza embarks on a perilous quest through an underground realm to save her brother, Patrick, who has been stolen by the evilest of creatures—the spiderlike spindlers.
“Splendors and Glooms” by Laura Amy Schlitz
Orphans Lizzie Rose and Parsefall must save their friend Clara from a centuries-old curse that was put upon her by the devious puppeteer Gaspare Grisini.
“Starry River of the Sky” by Grace Lin
Rendi, a runaway, lands at a remote inn and reluctantly exchanges his labor for room and board. Only he hears the sky moaning and notices the moon is missing. When storyteller Madame Chang arrives, Rendi faces his problems, and helps solve the village’s problem.
“A Tangle of Knots” by Lisa Graff
Not everyone has a “Talent,” but orphaned Cady does; she knows what each person’s ideal cake is, and can bake it perfectly. Her special ability helps solve the interconnected mysteries of her past and present, but it also puts her in danger of losing her special “Talent.”
“Three Times Lucky” by Sheila Turnage
In Tupelo Landing, the Colonel, who rescued and adopted Mo when she washed up during a hurricane as a baby, owns a café. But who is Mo’s real mom? All is well—until a neighbor turns up dead, and Mo’s best friend, Dale, is a suspect.
“The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp” by Kathi Appelt
Twelve-year-old Chap and Swamp Scouts (young raccoons) Bingo and J’miah must wake the ancient Sugar Man in order to save the swamp from a greedy land developer. But he might be really cranky.
“Wonder” by R. J. Palacio
Ten-year-old Auggie, born with extreme facial abnormalities, transitions from homeschooling to ﬁfth grade at Beecher Prep. Can his classmates and others get past Auggie’s extraordinary face to see the great, normal kid he is?
Originally published at Tween Recommended Reads.
I always knew there were fiction and nonfiction books, but I did not know there were so many genres (and subgenres) beyond that until I started working at a library. Science fiction, slipstream, steampunk, graphic novels, anime, gentle fiction, poetry, memoirs – I could go on and on. And this categorization isn’t limited to books. There are music and film genres as well. So in a much less funny, but perhaps just as informative, homage to Stephen Colbert’s series “Better Know a District,” I will explore these classifications in a monthly blog series we’re calling “Better Know a Genre.”
The first genre I will tackle is a rather broad one: narrative, or creative, nonfiction. If a nonfiction book is described as “reading like fiction,” then it probably belongs to this genre. Narrative nonfiction gives the reader factual information in a storytelling format instead of presenting the information straightforwardly, such as in a cookbook or instruction manual. Authors employ the craft of fiction – such as dialogue, vivid descriptions and characterization – to make nonfiction tales into page turners.
In a public library, much of the collection consists of narrative or creative nonfiction, so chances are you have already read a book from this genre. If you haven’t, then celebrate our Summer of Science by checking out one of these fantastic narrative nonfiction books from our collection.
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
One of the most-acclaimed science books of recent years, this title was also our 2011 One Read selection. Skloot investigates how the cells taken from a woman in the 1950s have contributed to many medical advancements in the decades since. Skloot inserts herself into the story, so the book is as much about the process of writing as it is about medical ethics.
“The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” by Deborah Blum
I don’t think it’s possible to top NPR’s Glen Weldon’s description of this book:
“Who knew that New York City experienced a surge in murders by poison during the 1910s and ’20s? Blum takes that odd historical footnote and produces a book of exhaustively researched science writing that reads like science fiction, complete with suspense, mystery and foolhardy guys in lab coats tipping test tubes of mysterious chemicals into their own mouths.”
“Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void” by Mary Roach
Roach is excellent at reducing complex ideas into manageable chunks of exposition, which alone is a valuable asset. But her books stand out because she combines that talent with a rich sense of humor and a willingness to use herself as a guinea pig. Roach takes on the subject of space travel in this outing – an examination of the lengths humans must take to attempt survival out of the earth’s atmosphere.
The post Better Know a Genre: Narrative Nonfiction (Summer of Science Edition) appeared first on DBRL Next.
I must admit, I’ve never read Anna Quindlen before. I knew that she is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author, but I never got excited enough to pick up one of her books - until I came across Quindlen’s last: “Still Life With Bread Crumbs.” I didn’t have much time for reading then, but, once I started, I couldn’t stop reading. For one thing, the book was well written. For another, it felt true to life (most of the time, anyway ). In other words, the problems of its protagonist, a used-to-be-famous photographer, were something a woman of my age could relate to: aging, caring for feeble parents, a nasty ex-husband and (amazingly!) money trouble.
How often do you read about these subjects and not about depraved murderers, horrible abuse, amnesiacs and such? (By the way, I have never met anybody suffering from the amnesia that is so prevalent in books and movies. Have you?) The money thing, especially, blew my mind. I am used to books where the best way of healing women’s troubles is traveling to exotic places or, at least, to Paris. Which always leaves me with a question: how do people afford such travels? Don’t get me wrong. I have been to Paris, but I spent some time (a lot of time, actually) finding a budget place to stay and tickets I could afford.
Anyway, Quindlen’s heroine had ordinary problems, like many of us do. She was broke, increasingly lonely, and she had lost confidence in herself. It wasn’t a mid-life crisis, either. She was already 60 years old - not at the age when changing one’s life is easy. I know, this doesn’t sound like light summer reading, but Quindlen navigates the rough waters with a gentle but experienced hand, and, in the end, delivers her heroine to a new – and much happier – place. It’s not a quick journey, but it is brightened by the author’s eloquent style, understanding of grace and frailty in everyday life, and a little romance (who can object to that? ). All in all, “Still Life With Bread Crumbs” is a very satisfying book that proves that as long as we are alive, life is not still.
Summer Reading this year is all about science. But what’s science without a little fiction? Here are four of 2014’s notable science fiction picks to consider adding to your reading list.
“The Girl with All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey
First off, as many will warn you, don’t read anything about this book if you want to keep everything a surprise. It’s not that what is below is a huge spoiler or anything, but some readers like to not know anything when they begin reading this book.
Now, if you’ve decided you do want a little information, read on!
This book shocked me. When first reading the back cover, which talks about a girl named Melanie being strapped down and held at gunpoint, I thought, well, maybe she has some uncontrollable powers or something. I guess I was sort of right – “The Girl with All the Gifts” is a zombie.
Like any other zombie book, we have an infection, we have hordes of hungries, and we have a doctor who is searching for a cure. What M.R. Carey does to make his book stand out among all the rest is to make the reader feel sympathy for Melanie, a fully functional and cognizant zombie.
“The Girl with All the Gifts” takes an overdone genre and reworks it in a fresh and unique way.
“The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” by Claire North
Harry is considered immortal. He lives, dies and is reborn, always with the knowledge of the lives he has lived before. For him, living has become repetition. He has accomplished all he can think to accomplish. When a young girl tells him the world is ending, quicker than it should, Harry finds a new purpose and begins investigating the coming apocalypse. But Harry finds out more than he bargained for.
If you aren’t into space ships and aliens, then this might be the science fiction read for you. It’s more of a fiction book, with a side of science.
“The Martian” by Andy Weir
“The Martian” sounds like the book version of the movie Gravity to me, but I’m probably not the best person to ask. These types of books and movies scare the living daylights out of me. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think being stranded in space, alone and dying, is horrifying. It’s a very subtle, quiet scary, but scary all the same.
But hey, if quiet scary is your thing, then “The Martian” is for you. This book is one of the most popular science fiction books released in 2014, scary or not.
A dust storm puts a hole in Mark Watney’s space suit, and thinking him dead, his crew leaves him behind. Stranded in space, Mark uses his engineering skills in an attempt to survive, unwilling to simply give up and die.
“Red Rising” by Pierce Brown
“Red Rising” is similar to “The Hunger Games,” but where the “The Hunger Games” is written with teens in mind, “Red Rising” is more for adults. If you enjoy reading dystopias, then this would be a good read for you.
The book follows Darrow, a young miner on Mars. He is a Red, the lowest of the castes in the social hierarchy. He believes he is important, that he is helping to terraform Mars and prepare it for habitation. But Mars is already habitable and has been for some time.
The Golds, the highest caste, lied to the rest of humanity, keeping Mars for themselves. Darrow decides it’s time to take action, and with the help of friends and a good disguise, inserts himself into the Gold’s society, preparing to take down their system from the inside out.
Have other recent science fiction books to recommend? Let us know in the comments.
I love Tina Fey. I think she is smart and hilarious and a terrific writer. (There is a short chapter in her memoir “Bossypants” that made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t speak for nearly five minutes. The chapter is titled, “What Turning Forty Means to Me,” and she speaks THE TRUTH.) When I found out that Fey is starring in the movie adaptation of the very charming “This Is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper, I knew I needed to start looking for a babysitter now, even though the film won’t be released until September.
As long as movies based on books do well at the box office (heard of a little film called “The Fault in Our Stars“?), Hollywood will keep producing them. If you like to read the books before you see the movies, here are some to check out before you head to theaters later this summer. Save me some popcorn and an aisle seat, will you?
“Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn
Flynn likes her characters dark and her plots even darker. If creepy is your thing, read this thriller about Libby Day who, as a small child, witnessed the murder of her mother and sisters and sent her brother to jail with her testimony. Twenty five years later, Libby is confronted by the possibility that her brother may be innocent, and she must reconstruct what really happened the night of her family’s slaughter. In the film, Charlize Theron stars as Libby Day.
“If I Stay” by Gayle Forman
While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia must decide whether to live with her grief or join her family in death. Chloë Moretz will star as Mia in the film adaptation.
“The Hundred-foot Journey” by Richard Morais
A boy from Mumbai, Hassan Haji, ends up opening a restaurant in a quiet French village and triggering a culinary war with the fancy French restaurant across the street. Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal and Om Puri star in the film.
Looking for some hot new reads to take on your vacation later this summer? Look no further than the latest LibraryReads list. Here are the top 10 books librarians love that hit the shelves in July. Place your holds on these on-order titles now to have them in hand for your late summer getaway or your August staycation.
by Rainbow Rowell
“’Landline’ explores the delicate balance women make between work and family, considering the tradeoffs and pain. Rowell has a special gift for offering incredible insights into ordinary life. Never heavy-handed, Rowell’s writing is delivered with humor and grace. I finish all of her books wanting to laugh and cry at the same time – they are that moving. ‘Landline’ captured my heart.”
- Andrea Larson, Cook Memorial Public Library, Libertyville, IL
“One Plus One“
by Jojo Moyes
“A single mom, her math genius daughter, her eye-shadow-wearing stepson, a wealthy computer geek and a smelly dog all get into a car…it sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it’s actually another charming novel from Jojo Moyes. It’s more of a traditional romance than ‘Me Before You’ but will also appeal to fans of quirky, hard-working characters. A quick read and perfect for summer.”
- Emily Wichman, Clermont County Public Library, Milford, OH
“The Black Hour“
by Lori Rader-Day
“This first novel about two broken people is a psychological thriller like the best of Alfred Hitchcock. Amelia Emmet is a professor desperately trying to recover from a gunshot wound, and Nathaniel Barber is a student struggling to come to grips with his mother’s death and a lost love. Their journey, told in alternating chapters, is riveting and full of surprising discoveries. Highly recommended.”
- Mattie Gustafson, Newport Public Library, Newport, RI
Here’s the rest of July’s best with links to our catalog for your hold-placing pleasure!
- “The Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen
- “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands” by Chris Bohjalian
- “World of Trouble” by Ben H. Winters
- “California” by Edan Lepucki
- “Dollbaby” by Laura Lane McNeal
- “The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee” by Marja Mills
- “Dry Bones in the Valley” by Tom Bouman
The Truman Readers Award honors a book that is selected by Missouri junior high students. Even though this award is administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to choose the actual winner. This year’s finalists were announced last December and voting will take place in March 2015. As summer kicks into high gear, consider bringing along one of these titles to enjoy poolside.
“Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo
Orphaned by the Border Wars, Alina Starkov is taken to become the protege of the mysterious Darkling, who trains her to join the magical elete in the beliief that she is the Sun Summoner, who can destroy the monsters of the Fold.
“The Raft” by S.A. Bodeen
Robie lives with her family on the Midway Atoll, a group of islands in the Pacific. Returning from a visit to her aunt in Hawaii, her plane hits nasty weather and goes down. Max, the only other survivor, pulls her onto a raft, then the real terror begins. How long can they survive?
“Unstoppable” by Tim Green
If anyone understands the phrase “tough luck,” it’s Harrison. As a foster kid in a cruel home, he knows his dream of one day playing for the NFL is long shot. Then his luck seems to change. With new foster parents, he quickly becomes a star running back on the junior high school team. Even so, good luck can’t last forever.
“One for the Murphys” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
After a heartbreaking betrayal, Carley is sent to live with a foster family and struggles with opening herself up to their love.
“Elemental” by Antony John
In a dystopian colony of the United States where everyone is born with the powers of water, wind, earth or fire, 16-year-old Thomas is the first and only child born without an element. He seems powerless, but is he?
“Insignia” by S.J. Kincaid
Tom, a 14-year-old genius at virtual reality games, is recruited by the U.S. military to begin training at the Pentagon Spire as a combatant in World War III, controlling the mechanized drones that do the actual fighting off-planet.
“See You at Harry’s” by Jo Knowles
Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible in her family, where grumpy 18-year-old Sarah is working at the family restaurant, 14-year-old Holden is struggling with school bullies and his emerging homosexuality, and adorable three-year-old Charlie is always the center of attention. When tragedy strikes, the fragile bond holding the family together is stretched almost to the breaking point.
“Ungifted” by Gordon Korman
Due to an administrative mix-up, troublemaker Donovan Curtis is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction, a special program for gifted and talented students, after pulling a major prank in middle school.
“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer
As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, Cinder, a gifted cyborg mechanic, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story.
“The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen
In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition to find an impersonator for the king’s long-missing son and avoid civil war.
“Dead City” by James Ponti
Seventh-grader Molly has always been an outsider, even at New York City’s elite Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology, but that changes when she is recruited to join the Omegas, a secret group that polices and protects zombies.
“Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip” by Jordan Sonnenblick
After an injury ends star pitcher Peter Friedman’s athletic dreams, he concentrates on photography which leads him to a girlfriend, new fame as a high school sports photographer, and a deeper relationship with his beloved grandfather.
Originally published at 2015 Truman Award Nominees.