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Staff Review: Six of Crows By Leigh Bardugo

Teen Book Buzz - March 28, 2016

Six of crowsWhy I Checked It Out: Leigh Bardugo is known for her popular Grisha series: “Shadow and Bone,” “Siege and Storm” and “Ruin and Rising.” “Six of Crows” is the start of her latest series.

What It’s About: “Six of Crows” is an intense narrative following a group of teen criminals. Kaz, the master mind. Inej, the stealthy Wraith. Jasper, the sharpshooter. Nina, the Heartrender. Wylan, the runaway. And Matthias, the Druskelle ex-prisoner.

I warn readers, the narrative alternates between characters. Personally, I thought the change in point-of-view was amazingly well-done. Each chapter successfully builds a different character’s history while expanding the story of the giant and clever con they’re trying to pull. This story is one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Imagine “The Italian Job” or “Ocean’s 11” as a young adult fantasy. That’s this book.

What I Didn’t Like About it: That it ended? That it ended and the second book isn’t out yet? I mean really, this was an amazing read. “Shadow and Bone” was enjoyable, but honestly, “Six of Crows” blew it out of the water, into the atmosphere, and somewhere near the moon. That’s how much better “Six of Crows” was.

It seems like Leigh Bardugo built herself an original and interesting world involving Grisha, and also became an even better writer than she was when she wrote “Shadow and Bone.” Trust me, you want to check this one out, put it on hold, do whatever it is you need to do to make sure you read “Six of Crows.”

Alas, “Crooked Kingdom,” the second book in this series, isn’t due to come out until this September. Oh man, waiting that long is going to be so hard.

Similar Titles: If you enjoy a good heist story, try “Trust Me, I’m Lying” by Mary Elizabeth Summer, “White Cat” by Holly Black and “How to Lead a Life of Crime” by Kristen Miller.

Originally published at Staff Review: Six of Crows By Leigh Bardugo.

Categories: Book Buzz

Her Beloved World: Sonia Sotomayor

Next Book Buzz - March 25, 2016

Book cover for My Beloved World by Sonia SotomayorAs we celebrate Women’s History Month and the many women trailblazers who changed our country and the world, the name of an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, stands prominently in my mind. This is not only because she’s the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the highest court of the land, but also because to reach such a position, she had to overcome a lot of hardship and prejudice. In 2013, Sotomayor published her memoir “My Beloved World,” which quickly became a New York Times bestseller.

Born in the South Bronx to a poor Puerto Rican family, little Sonya began showing the strength of her character at the age of nine, when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and had to learn to give herself insulin shots. Despite being raised in a family that hardly spoke English, Sotomayor was an excellent student – she was her high school valedictorian, graduated summa cum laude (the highest of three special honors for grades above the average) from Princeton and, while at Yale, was editor of the Yale Law Review. Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice (2009), Sotomayor held a variety of positions: a district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, a partner in a private law firm, a justice of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York and, later, of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

A large part of Sotomayor’s memoir is dedicated to her family – her alcoholic father, her somewhat distant mother, her domineering but loving grandmother, her brother, aunts, uncles and cousins – as well as the island of Puerto Rico, which she first visited as a child and later as an adult.

Sotomayor doesn’t shy away from her difficulties either, as she describes her complicated feelings toward her parents and her unsuccessful marriage. The author’s recollections are clear-eyed and honest, and her American dream story is inspiring not just for women and minorities but for everyone in the country.

The Columbia Public Library will host a book discussion of “My Beloved World” on April 7 at noon, so bring a lunch and join us as we discuss the life of Justice Sotomayor.

The post Her Beloved World: Sonia Sotomayor appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Her Beloved World: Sonia Sotomayor

DBRL Next - March 25, 2016

Book cover for My Beloved World by Sonia SotomayorAs we celebrate Women’s History Month and the many women trailblazers who changed our country and the world, the name of an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, stands prominently in my mind. This is not only because she’s the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the highest court of the land, but also because to reach such a position, she had to overcome a lot of hardship and prejudice. In 2013, Sotomayor published her memoir “My Beloved World,” which quickly became a New York Times bestseller.

Born in the South Bronx to a poor Puerto Rican family, little Sonya began showing the strength of her character at the age of nine, when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and had to learn to give herself insulin shots. Despite being raised in a family that hardly spoke English, Sotomayor was an excellent student – she was her high school valedictorian, graduated summa cum laude (the highest of three special honors for grades above the average) from Princeton and, while at Yale, was editor of the Yale Law Review. Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice (2009), Sotomayor held a variety of positions: a district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, a partner in a private law firm, a justice of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York and, later, of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

A large part of Sotomayor’s memoir is dedicated to her family – her alcoholic father, her somewhat distant mother, her domineering but loving grandmother, her brother, aunts, uncles and cousins – as well as the island of Puerto Rico, which she first visited as a child and later as an adult.

Sotomayor doesn’t shy away from her difficulties either, as she describes her complicated feelings toward her parents and her unsuccessful marriage. The author’s recollections are clear-eyed and honest, and her American dream story is inspiring not just for women and minorities but for everyone in the country.

The Columbia Public Library will host a book discussion of “My Beloved World” on April 7 at noon, so bring a lunch and join us as we discuss the life of Justice Sotomayor.

The post Her Beloved World: Sonia Sotomayor appeared first on DBRL Next.

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2016 Teen Book Tournament Finalists Announced

DBRLTeen - March 24, 2016

2016 March Madness FinalistsVOTE NOW through April 5 for the tournament champion!

Thank you to all the students who have shared their favorites with us. So far, we’ve collected over 200 ballots from dozens of area teens. With each round of voting, teens’ names have been entered into a drawing for a chance to win cool prizes like a Barnes & Noble gift  card. Prize winners will be announced on Friday, April 8 when we announce our tournament champion.

March Madness Teen Book Tournament Finalists

Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
vs.
The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Don’t forget to VOTE for your favorite title by Tuesday, April 5 at 3 p.m. You may vote online at teens.dbrl.org or pick up a paper ballot at one of our three branch locations.

Originally published at 2016 Teen Book Tournament Finalists Announced.

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One More Lap: Docs About the Race Track

DBRL Next - March 23, 2016
racing dreams photo

Not many people get to see the hours of practice and hard work put in by the racers in competitive motor-sports. These docs take a closer look at these drivers, both amateur and legendary, who’ve dedicated themselves to the race track.

racing dreamsRacing Dreams” (2009)

Chronicles a year in the life of three tweens who dream of becoming NASCAR drivers as they race in the World Karting Association’s National Pavement Series. This film is a humorous and heartbreaking portrait of racing, young love and family struggle.

sennaSenna” (2010)

Spanning his years as a Formula One racing driver from 1984 to his untimely death a decade later, Senna explores the life and work of the triple world champion, his physical and spiritual achievements on the track, his quest for perfection and the mythical status he has since attained.

petty blue

Petty Blue” (2010)

This documentary, narrated by Kevin Costner, charts four generations of the Petty family, all of whom became champion NASCAR drivers. The family shares their story of dedication, perseverance and tradition that provides a raw, behind-the-scenes look into NASCAR racing.

The post One More Lap: Docs About the Race Track appeared first on DBRL Next.

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April 8 Registration Deadline for May SAT Exam

DBRLTeen - March 22, 2016

The Official SAT Study GuideThe registration deadline for the May 7 SAT exam is Friday, April 8. Sign-up online. If you would like to know more about testing locations, exam costs and fee waivers, please visit our  online guide to SAT/ACT preparation.

The library also has a wide selection of printed ACT and SAT test guides for you to borrow. Our most popular resource for test-takers, though, is LearningExpress Library. Through this website, you may take free online practice tests for the ACT or SAT exam. To access LearningExpress Library, you will need to login using your DBRL library card number. Your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY).  If you have questions or encounter difficulties logging in, please call  (800) 324-4806.

Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates for regular reminders of upcoming test registration deadlines!

Originally published at April 8 Registration Deadline for May SAT Exam.

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Nowhere People: A Visit From Photojournalist Greg Constantine

DBRL Next - March 21, 2016

Book cover for Nowhere PeopleI remember when the requirements changed regarding Missouri driver licenses. To get mine renewed, I had to find where I’d put my Social Security card for safekeeping and, for the first time in my life, acquire a raised-seal birth certificate. I’d been getting by with a copy of a birth certificate application up until then. Fortunately, the process took only a few dollars and a couple of weeks.

But what if I hadn’t been able to obtain the needed documents? What then? I would have experienced a small taste of the plight of millions of stateless people around the world.

Photojournalist Greg Constantine spent a decade documenting the lives of “non-persons,” human beings who are not recognized as citizens of any country. He shares their photos and stories in his book “Nowhere People.”

Without documentation or citizenship rights, this is a population that exists on the fringes of society, unable to find legal employment, enroll in school, open a bank account or even travel to a different country in search of a better life, since passports are unobtainable without personal identification. Some families have been stateless for generations, parents or grandparents having fled political turmoil and persecution, losing citizenship in the process. In some cases, the family has stayed in one place, but national borders have shifted.

Image by Greg Constantine. Dominican Republic, 2011“Nowhere People” is much more than a book. A website about the endeavor describes it this way: “a ten year project from photographer Greg Constantine. The project intends to give a small voice to people who for generations have had none. It aims to show the human toll the denial of citizenship has claimed on people and ethnic groups that find themselves excluded from society by forces beyond their control. More importantly, it hopes to provide tangible documentation of proof that millions of people hidden and forgotten all over the world actually exist.”

Constantine gave a presentation on the topic at a TEDx conference in London, available for viewing here.

Now, he’s bringing his presentation to Columbia. You can hear him in person at the Columbia Public Library on Thursday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

The post Nowhere People: A Visit From Photojournalist Greg Constantine appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April 2016 List

Next Book Buzz - March 18, 2016

Library Reads LogoThis month’s LibraryReads list of books publishing in April that librarians across the country recommend includes a nonfiction work that wins the award (an imaginary award bestowed by me) for best title ever: “The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts.” How could scads of librarians NOT recommend this book? We also have works inspired by Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes, so get ready to be entertained and place some holds on these forthcoming books!

Book cover for Eligible by Curtis SittenfeldEligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice” by Curtis Sittenfeld
“Love, sex, and relationships in contemporary Cincinnati provide an incisive social commentary set in the framework of ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Sittenfeld’s inclusion of a Bachelor-like reality show is a brilliant parallel to the scrutiny placed on characters in the neighborhood balls of Jane Austen’s novel, and readers will have no question about the crass nature of the younger Bennets, or the pride – and prejudice – of the heroine.” – Leslie DeLooze, Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY

Book cover for The Obsession by Nora RobertsThe Obsession” by Nora Roberts
“Readers who love romantic thrillers will be mesmerized by the latest Roberts offering. The suspense kept me up all night! Naomi Carson, a successful young photographer, has moved across the country and fallen in love. She thinks she has escaped her past but instead finds that the sins of her father have become an obsession. The serial killer premise makes it a tough read for the faint-hearted, but sticking with it leads to a thrilling conclusion.” – Marilyn Sieb, L. D. Fargo Public Library, Lake Mills, WI

Book cover for The Murder of Mary RussellThe Murder of Mary Russell” by Laurie R. King
“Worried about Mary Russell? Well, you should be. She’s opened her door to the wrong man and deeply troubling secrets are set to tumble out, rewriting her history and putting herself and the people she loves in a dangerous spot. Once again, King spins a tantalizing tale of deception and misdirection for her readers’ delight and scores a direct hit in her latest Russell-Holmes mystery.” – Deborah Walsh, Geneva Public Library District, Geneva, IL

Here’s the rest of this month’s list with links to the library’s catalog for your holds-placing pleasure!

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April 2016 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April 2016 List

DBRL Next - March 18, 2016

Library Reads LogoThis month’s LibraryReads list of books publishing in April that librarians across the country recommend includes a nonfiction work that wins the award (an imaginary award bestowed by me) for best title ever: “The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts.” How could scads of librarians NOT recommend this book? We also have works inspired by Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes, so get ready to be entertained and place some holds on these forthcoming books!

Book cover for Eligible by Curtis SittenfeldEligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice” by Curtis Sittenfeld
“Love, sex, and relationships in contemporary Cincinnati provide an incisive social commentary set in the framework of ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Sittenfeld’s inclusion of a Bachelor-like reality show is a brilliant parallel to the scrutiny placed on characters in the neighborhood balls of Jane Austen’s novel, and readers will have no question about the crass nature of the younger Bennets, or the pride – and prejudice – of the heroine.” – Leslie DeLooze, Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY

Book cover for The Obsession by Nora RobertsThe Obsession” by Nora Roberts
“Readers who love romantic thrillers will be mesmerized by the latest Roberts offering. The suspense kept me up all night! Naomi Carson, a successful young photographer, has moved across the country and fallen in love. She thinks she has escaped her past but instead finds that the sins of her father have become an obsession. The serial killer premise makes it a tough read for the faint-hearted, but sticking with it leads to a thrilling conclusion.” – Marilyn Sieb, L. D. Fargo Public Library, Lake Mills, WI

Book cover for The Murder of Mary RussellThe Murder of Mary Russell” by Laurie R. King
“Worried about Mary Russell? Well, you should be. She’s opened her door to the wrong man and deeply troubling secrets are set to tumble out, rewriting her history and putting herself and the people she loves in a dangerous spot. Once again, King spins a tantalizing tale of deception and misdirection for her readers’ delight and scores a direct hit in her latest Russell-Holmes mystery.” – Deborah Walsh, Geneva Public Library District, Geneva, IL

Here’s the rest of this month’s list with links to the library’s catalog for your holds-placing pleasure!

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April 2016 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: More From DBRL...

2016 Teen Book Tournament: Final 4 Announced

DBRLTeen - March 17, 2016

2016 March Madness Teen Book TournamentVOTE NOW through March 22 
for the final two contending titles!

During the months of February and March, area young adults have eliminated 28 books to determine their top four favorite titles in the March Madness Teen Book Tournament. Below is a list of contenders chosen from these preliminary rounds of voting. If you are just joining us, here’s a recap of how you can participate for a chance to win cool prizes like a Barnes & Noble gift  card.

How the March Madness Teen Book Tournament Works:

Through a series of votes, we are narrowing the library’s list of the 32 most popular teen books to one grand champion. By supporting your favorite book, you’ll also be entered to win prizes like a gift card to Barnes & Noble! Prize winners will be announced on April 8 when we announce our book tournament champion.

  • Round 1: Voting complete for the Sweet 16.
  • Round 2: Voting complete for the Elite 8.
  • Round 3: Voting complete for the Final 4.
  • Round 4: VOTE NOW through March 22 for the final two contending titles.
  • Round 5: March 24-April 5 for the book tournament champion.
  • April 8: The champion is announced!

All votes must be in by Tuesday, March 22 at 3 p.m. You may vote online or pick up a paper ballot at one of our three branch locations. Limit one ballot per person, per round.  Winning titles from this round of competition will be announced next Thursday, March 24.

March Madness Teen Book Tournament: Final Four
  1. Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
  2. The Giver” by Lois Lowry
  3. The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
  4. City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare

Originally published at 2016 Teen Book Tournament: Final 4 Announced.

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Audiobooks for Your Spring Break Travel

Next Book Buzz - March 16, 2016

CD cover art for The Road to Little DribblingReading while traveling in a car can be difficult. I had a friend who read magazines and books while we drove to bicycle races when I was a teenager. He was the driver.  Audiobooks didn’t exist then, but I wish they had because this would have avoided many hours of extreme anxiety for me. My daughter claims that the “barf monster comes” if she reads in the back seat of our subcompact Toyota. My wife can read for about .03 minutes in the car without feeling queasy. The answer is audiobooks, whether you are traveling this spring break as a family or alone with your phone and a backpack. Unless otherwise noted, all audiobooks reviewed below are available on CD and/or downloadable mp3 formats through OverDrive.

I can’t begin to explain my joy in discovering, with my little girls, the Harry Potter series of books by JK Rowling. (I know, I know, it is totally lame that I have not read/listened to them until now). I relish each book. If you are taking a road trip with your kids this spring break, I would highly recommend listening to the series. Narrated by the sublime Jim Dale, the audiobook version will quickly immerse you in the world of Hogwarts and Hagrid while you ply the dreary Kansas plains (or on that long flight to the East Coast).   Start with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” especially with younger readers in the car.  Perfect for families.

What better way to pass the time while traveling than listening to a travelogue? Bill Bryson’s new book “Road to Little Dribbling” examines the societal and cultural changes in Great Britain during our relatively young century, throwing in his trademark humor and wit.  A must-listen if you are traveling to the British Isles or, indeed, Europe during the upcoming break.

CD cover art for Meditation for BeginnersCar (or plane and bus travel) can be stressful, chaotic and tedious. A calm mind and Zen attitude can help. Jack Kornfield’s classic “Meditation for Beginners” is an excellent introduction to basic meditation practices.  The audiobook is also filled with relaxing music. Exploring breathing techniques and other basic tenets of the practice, Kornfield’s approach is not to overwhelm the listener with theory but to impart basic tips and techniques to make first attempts at meditation easier.

If you are traveling out West this Spring Break, I would highly recommend what some critics argue is the best book written about the American desert and the Southwest: “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey. The desert comes alive in Abbey’s prose: “Lavender clouds sail like a fleet of ships across the pale green dawn – each cloud, planed flat on the wind, has a base of fiery gold.”  Abbey also sends a clarion call out to the nascent environmentalist movement (the book was written in 1968), arguing that the protection of our native species and wild lands are in many ways the most pressing issues of our time.

Further, the audio version of this book also gives me a chance to mention another format that we have available here at DBRL. “Desert Solitaire” is only available through Hoopla, which is another great source for downloadable audiobooks as well as other media here at the library.

Cover art for Percy Jackson's Greek HeroesIn addition to the fourth or perhaps fifth rereading/re-listening of the first three Harry Potter books that is going on in my family, we have also started reading the fabulous Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Riordan just put out an excellent companion to his books, called “Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes.” One of the real attributes of this series of books is that, written in Riordan’s entertaining style, they introduce my family to the wondrous world of Greek mythology. I needed a refresher, and my kids are getting a great education without the drudgery that oftentimes accompanies Greek mythology textbooks. “Greek Heroes” is meant to further our education and fills in the gaps that some of the books might have created. Again, highly recommended for family car trips!

What are your listening plans for this spring break?

The post Audiobooks for Your Spring Break Travel appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Audiobooks for Your Spring Break Travel

DBRL Next - March 16, 2016

CD cover art for The Road to Little DribblingReading while traveling in a car can be difficult. I had a friend who read magazines and books while we drove to bicycle races when I was a teenager. He was the driver.  Audiobooks didn’t exist then, but I wish they had because this would have avoided many hours of extreme anxiety for me. My daughter claims that the “barf monster comes” if she reads in the back seat of our subcompact Toyota. My wife can read for about .03 minutes in the car without feeling queasy. The answer is audiobooks, whether you are traveling this spring break as a family or alone with your phone and a backpack. Unless otherwise noted, all audiobooks reviewed below are available on CD and/or downloadable mp3 formats through OverDrive.

I can’t begin to explain my joy in discovering, with my little girls, the Harry Potter series of books by JK Rowling. (I know, I know, it is totally lame that I have not read/listened to them until now). I relish each book. If you are taking a road trip with your kids this spring break, I would highly recommend listening to the series. Narrated by the sublime Jim Dale, the audiobook version will quickly immerse you in the world of Hogwarts and Hagrid while you ply the dreary Kansas plains (or on that long flight to the East Coast).   Start with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” especially with younger readers in the car.  Perfect for families.

What better way to pass the time while traveling than listening to a travelogue? Bill Bryson’s new book “Road to Little Dribbling” examines the societal and cultural changes in Great Britain during our relatively young century, throwing in his trademark humor and wit.  A must-listen if you are traveling to the British Isles or, indeed, Europe during the upcoming break.

CD cover art for Meditation for BeginnersCar (or plane and bus travel) can be stressful, chaotic and tedious. A calm mind and Zen attitude can help. Jack Kornfield’s classic “Meditation for Beginners” is an excellent introduction to basic meditation practices.  The audiobook is also filled with relaxing music. Exploring breathing techniques and other basic tenets of the practice, Kornfield’s approach is not to overwhelm the listener with theory but to impart basic tips and techniques to make first attempts at meditation easier.

If you are traveling out West this Spring Break, I would highly recommend what some critics argue is the best book written about the American desert and the Southwest: “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey. The desert comes alive in Abbey’s prose: “Lavender clouds sail like a fleet of ships across the pale green dawn – each cloud, planed flat on the wind, has a base of fiery gold.”  Abbey also sends a clarion call out to the nascent environmentalist movement (the book was written in 1968), arguing that the protection of our native species and wild lands are in many ways the most pressing issues of our time.

Further, the audio version of this book also gives me a chance to mention another format that we have available here at DBRL. “Desert Solitaire” is only available through Hoopla, which is another great source for downloadable audiobooks as well as other media here at the library.

Cover art for Percy Jackson's Greek HeroesIn addition to the fourth or perhaps fifth rereading/re-listening of the first three Harry Potter books that is going on in my family, we have also started reading the fabulous Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Riordan just put out an excellent companion to his books, called “Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes.” One of the real attributes of this series of books is that, written in Riordan’s entertaining style, they introduce my family to the wondrous world of Greek mythology. I needed a refresher, and my kids are getting a great education without the drudgery that oftentimes accompanies Greek mythology textbooks. “Greek Heroes” is meant to further our education and fills in the gaps that some of the books might have created. Again, highly recommended for family car trips!

What are your listening plans for this spring break?

The post Audiobooks for Your Spring Break Travel appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Gaming & Graphic Novels @ Your Library

DBRLTeen - March 15, 2016

Gamer Eve-Get GraphicGamer Eve
Monday, March 28, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library

Gamers unite! Drop in to play tabletop games such as “Gloom,” “Pandemic” and “Ticket to Ride.” Bring a game or your “Magic: The Gathering” cards if you want to challenge other players. Maybe you’ll discover your next favorite game! Ages 10 and older. No registration required.

Project Teen: Get Graphic
Wednesday, March 30, 1-2:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library

Gear up for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” with projects related to comic books and graphic novels. We’ll eat pizza and talk superheroes. Ages 12-18. Registration begins Tuesday, March 15. To sign up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Originally published at Gaming & Graphic Novels @ Your Library.

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The Gentleman Recommends: Charlie Jane Anders

Next Book Buzz - March 14, 2016

Book cover for All the Birds in the SkyIt feels like I’ve read millions of stories about smart and awesome children who are bullied by their peers and hated, or at least mistreated, by their parents (or, more likely, their legal guardian(s) or orphan master), but eventually they find the right mentor and/or peers and flourish. But when this template is used by a good writer, it remains satisfying no matter how many times it’s been slipped past my…head windows. And Charlie Jane Anders is, at least in this gentleman’s estimation, a great writer. And “All the Birds in the Sky” is a great novel, a new classic in the genre of “extra-special kid(s) with unfortunate upbringing(s) rise above their station and show the world their greatness.”

In order to judge the novel outside of the shadow of novels with similar conceits, I took the groundbreaking and head-breaking measure of attempting to induce amnesia. I tapped my noggin vigorously with all manner of mallets and took a number of tumbles down staircases, and in one regrettably memorable experience, sent myself plunging down my dumbwaiter, only to find that not only had my butler not been removing the now very rotten food scraps, but also one can earn a nasty infection from moldy silverware, and I don’t have a butler, and my dumbwaiter is just a second story window. Alas, the amnesia did not take. My mind, unfortunately, is still as sharp as…one of those, uh, sharp stabby things, the ones you use to affix pictures of your favorite monarchs to your dormitory walls…wallstabbers? Yes, wallstabbers.

Anyway, with my memory still as simultaneously boundless and confining as a prairie town, I am unable to judge “All the Birds in the Sky” without the knowledge of somewhat similar works coloring my perception. But, after further consideration, in what is a cruel twist given all I went through in order to provide a recommendation that would shatter all notions of what a recommendation could be and also my orbital bones, “All the Birds in the Sky” is a singular work.

For one, there are two protagonists. And the melding of science fiction, fantasy, comedy and action is so smooth, one would be forgiven for forgetting, even without a freshly battered head, to comment on its smoothness. Anders’ delivery and gift for jump-cutting to punchlines induce bountiful mirth.  Also, I can’t think of another novel that features a school for witches. The school, Eltisley Maze, is fantastically imagined, and I doubt another author could, even with, like, seven whole volumes, create as fascinating a setting as Anders has here in just a few pages. It’s so cool. Go read the book, which describes the school, which I will not do.

The story begins with a girl saving a bird and learning she can talk to it. Soon she meets a boy who has followed cryptic instructions from the Internet to build a time machine capable of propelling the wearer two seconds into the future. This is a small aid in his quest to avoid bully fists, but using it too much will give the user a tremendous headache, as will wrapping your entire body save for your head in blankets and rolling down the steps of an amphitheater.

Difficulties abound. In order to get witchy again, Patricia must resort to taking unheard of amounts of spice in her food. Laurence’s parents insist he must go outside more. The guidance counselor at their school is actually an assassin (from an ancient order, naturally) plotting the pair’s demise. (To his credit, he’s only doing so because of a vision of apocalyptic catastrophe that featured the two children as adults at its center.) The children drift apart, though Patricia still converses with the artificial intelligence that is devouring Laurence’s closet space.

The novel really hits its highest…springy wheel thing with teeth that attaches to its wheel siblings to produce movement…when it jumps ahead to their early adulthood. Patricia is a witch who spends her time fixing wrongs, from turning a very bad man into a turtle, to making a heroin addict’s skin impervious to needles. Laurence is working as part of a billionaire’s think tank to create a wormhole that will transport a portion of the earth’s population to a fresh planet before this one is irrevocably torched. Also, this portion of the novel is home to the coolest tablet computer anyone has ever imagined, even if it is shaped like a…thing you use to scrape sounds out of a guitar.

With the duo at the height of their powers, and Patricia and her coven keen to save the world, and Laurence and his think tank keen to save some of the people on the world, even if the wormhole ray blows this one up in the process, one sees how the assassin’s apocalyptic vision may come to pass. Read the book and see if it does. Now I’m going to see a…person that puts cold metal on you to check for sickness.

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Charlie Jane Anders appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Charlie Jane Anders

DBRL Next - March 14, 2016

Book cover for All the Birds in the SkyIt feels like I’ve read millions of stories about smart and awesome children who are bullied by their peers and hated, or at least mistreated, by their parents (or, more likely, their legal guardian(s) or orphan master), but eventually they find the right mentor and/or peers and flourish. But when this template is used by a good writer, it remains satisfying no matter how many times it’s been slipped past my…head windows. And Charlie Jane Anders is, at least in this gentleman’s estimation, a great writer. And “All the Birds in the Sky” is a great novel, a new classic in the genre of “extra-special kid(s) with unfortunate upbringing(s) rise above their station and show the world their greatness.”

In order to judge the novel outside of the shadow of novels with similar conceits, I took the groundbreaking and head-breaking measure of attempting to induce amnesia. I tapped my noggin vigorously with all manner of mallets and took a number of tumbles down staircases, and in one regrettably memorable experience, sent myself plunging down my dumbwaiter, only to find that not only had my butler not been removing the now very rotten food scraps, but also one can earn a nasty infection from moldy silverware, and I don’t have a butler, and my dumbwaiter is just a second story window. Alas, the amnesia did not take. My mind, unfortunately, is still as sharp as…one of those, uh, sharp stabby things, the ones you use to affix pictures of your favorite monarchs to your dormitory walls…wallstabbers? Yes, wallstabbers.

Anyway, with my memory still as simultaneously boundless and confining as a prairie town, I am unable to judge “All the Birds in the Sky” without the knowledge of somewhat similar works coloring my perception. But, after further consideration, in what is a cruel twist given all I went through in order to provide a recommendation that would shatter all notions of what a recommendation could be and also my orbital bones, “All the Birds in the Sky” is a singular work.

For one, there are two protagonists. And the melding of science fiction, fantasy, comedy and action is so smooth, one would be forgiven for forgetting, even without a freshly battered head, to comment on its smoothness. Anders’ delivery and gift for jump-cutting to punchlines induce bountiful mirth.  Also, I can’t think of another novel that features a school for witches. The school, Eltisley Maze, is fantastically imagined, and I doubt another author could, even with, like, seven whole volumes, create as fascinating a setting as Anders has here in just a few pages. It’s so cool. Go read the book, which describes the school, which I will not do.

The story begins with a girl saving a bird and learning she can talk to it. Soon she meets a boy who has followed cryptic instructions from the Internet to build a time machine capable of propelling the wearer two seconds into the future. This is a small aid in his quest to avoid bully fists, but using it too much will give the user a tremendous headache, as will wrapping your entire body save for your head in blankets and rolling down the steps of an amphitheater.

Difficulties abound. In order to get witchy again, Patricia must resort to taking unheard of amounts of spice in her food. Laurence’s parents insist he must go outside more. The guidance counselor at their school is actually an assassin (from an ancient order, naturally) plotting the pair’s demise. (To his credit, he’s only doing so because of a vision of apocalyptic catastrophe that featured the two children as adults at its center.) The children drift apart, though Patricia still converses with the artificial intelligence that is devouring Laurence’s closet space.

The novel really hits its highest…springy wheel thing with teeth that attaches to its wheel siblings to produce movement…when it jumps ahead to their early adulthood. Patricia is a witch who spends her time fixing wrongs, from turning a very bad man into a turtle, to making a heroin addict’s skin impervious to needles. Laurence is working as part of a billionaire’s think tank to create a wormhole that will transport a portion of the earth’s population to a fresh planet before this one is irrevocably torched. Also, this portion of the novel is home to the coolest tablet computer anyone has ever imagined, even if it is shaped like a…thing you use to scrape sounds out of a guitar.

With the duo at the height of their powers, and Patricia and her coven keen to save the world, and Laurence and his think tank keen to save some of the people on the world, even if the wormhole ray blows this one up in the process, one sees how the assassin’s apocalyptic vision may come to pass. Read the book and see if it does. Now I’m going to see a…person that puts cold metal on you to check for sickness.

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Laugh Your Way to Winter’s Finish

DBRL Next - March 11, 2016

Photo As you’ve heard before, laughter is one of the best medicines, having positive effects on us physically, mentally and socially. This seems like a pretty big deal, that something free and fun can be such a gold mine of therapeutic benefits. If winter has you down low and feeling cabin-fever-confined, then stock up on some books from the library’s wit and humor collection and get your laughter fix.

Book cover for Let's Explore Diabetes With OwlsNo list of suggested humor reads would be complete without books by David Sedaris.  I picked up his most recent title, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Essays, Etc,” hoping for some comic relief. Within the first paragraph of his essay “Dentists Without Borders,” I started laughing, deep from the belly. I knew we were off to a great start! Sedaris is a gifted storyteller and uses his unique, quirky and twisted brand of humor in a quasi-autobiographical, non-fiction approach to recount tales of his odd-ball upbringing, job histories and ordinary daily life experiences. He tempers his humor with a dose of poignancy, lending insight to our human foibles.

Book cover for Zen ConfidentialAnother side-splitting set of essays (in my humble opinion) is “Zen Confidential: Confessions of a Wayward Monk” by Shozan Jack Haubner. In hilarious (and sometimes crude) essays, Haubner scripts his trajectory from Midwestern Catholic boy, to Los Angeles screenwriter and stand-up comic, to Zen Buddhist monk living contemplatively in a mountain monastery. In this honest spiritual memoir, he describes, with biting wit, the rigors and challenges of monastic life, which provide him a longed for pathway to understanding his true nature.

Book cover for That Should Be a WordFor short, pick-me-up chuckles, try this clever dictionary of neologisms, “That Should Be a Word: A Language Lover’s Guide to Choregasms, Povertunity, Brattling, and 250 Other Much-Needed Terms for the Modern World,” by Lizzie Skurnick. A clever wordsmith, Skurnick authored a column (“That Should Be a Word”) for the New York Times Magazine where many of her originally coined words first appeared. Each word includes pronunciation, definition and usage as illuminated in these three choice entries:

Figital (FIJ-ih-tul). adj. Excessively checking one’s devices. Example: “Victoria grew tired of watching her figital fiancé glance at his iPhone every five seconds.”

Pagita (PAH-ji-tuh), n. The stress of the unread. Example: “Roderick stared desperately at the stack of New Yorkers before he went on his business trip, trembling with pagita.”

Roogle (ROOG-ul), n. Regret of a search. Example: “Samir stepped away from the computer filled with roogle. He hadn’t needed to know his new boss was a Civil War reenactor.”

Book cover for the Pretty Good Joke BookAlso, in the vein of quick laughs, try perusing “A Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Joke Book,” with an introduction by Garrison KeillorMy family and friends have enjoyed many laughs from this title, thanks to my son, who brought it along on car trips or to parties to read aloud and entertain us.

Whatever the persuasion of humor that tickles your funny bone, we have it here at DBRL, so stop in and take advantage of this storehouse of humor. We want to help you scatter the last vestiges of winter with some hearty laughs.

photo credit: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. via photopin (license)

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New DVDs: “The Roosevelts”

Center Aisle Cinema - December 1, 2014

roosevelts

We recently added “The Roosevelts” to the DBRL collection. The seven episode series played on PBS earlier this year, and is the latest from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns who has done other series such as “The Civil War,” “Baseball,” “Jazz,” “The War,” “The National Parks,” and “Prohibition.” Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

Profiles Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. It is the first time in a major documentary television series that their individual stories have been interwoven into a single narrative. This seven-part, 14 hour film follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962. Over the course of these years, Theodore would become the 26th President of the United States and his beloved niece, Eleanor, would marry his fifth cousin, Franklin, who became the 32nd President of the United States. Together, these three individuals not only redefined the relationship Americans had with their government and with each other, but also redefined the role of the United States within the wider world. The series encompasses the history the Roosevelts helped to shape: the creation of the National Parks, the digging of the Panama Canal, the passage of innovative New Deal programs, the defeat of Hitler, and the postwar struggles for civil rights at home and human rights abroad. It is also an intimate human story about love, betrayal, family loyalty, personal courage, and the conquest of fear.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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Docs Around Town: Nov. 28– Dec. 4

Center Aisle Cinema - November 26, 2014

wattstaxDecember 3: Troublemakers” 6:00 p.m. at Ragtag, free. (via)
December 4: Wattstax” 6:00 p.m. at Ragtag, free. (via)

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New DVD: “Six by Sondheim”

Center Aisle Cinema - November 24, 2014

sixbysondheim

We recently added “Six by Sondheim” to the DBRL collection. The film was shown last year on HBO and currently has a rating of 100% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

An intimate and candid look at the life and art of legendary composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, as revealed through the creation and performance of six of his songs, and remembered by the man himself. The six songs featured in the film are: Something’s coming, Opening doors, Send in the clowns, I’m still here, Being alive and Sunday. Art and life are intertwined for Sondheim, and it is a story of both.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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New DVD: “Tim’s Vermeer”

Center Aisle Cinema - November 17, 2014

timsvermeerWe recently added “Tim’s Vermeer” to the DBRL collection. This film played at the True/False Film Festival in 2014, and currently has a rating of 89% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did seventeenth century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so photo-realistically, 150 years before the invention of photography? Spanning ten years, his adventure takes him to Delft, Holland, where Vermeer painted his masterpieces, to the north coast of Yorkshire to meet artist David Hockney, and even to Buckingham Palace to see a Vermeer masterpiece in the collection of the Queen.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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