Saturday, February 27, 2010

What We're Listening to: Abby

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, 7 discs. Read by the author.

Malcolm Gladwell is absolutely brilliant! What he does in all of his books is to take a common theme and then look at it from a totally different perspective. In "Outliers" he looks at the myths surrounding success and if it is really possible to be a "self-made man." Basically he tears apart long-standing belief's and shows us how so much more goes into making
exceptional people. He illustrates how opportunity, special and unique advantages, timing, talent, ambition and a little luck all work together to create highly successful people. He figured out that it takes 10,000 hours to master anything to the point of genius, be it music, athletics or business and he illustrates that number using the life stories of Bill Gates, The Beatles, Mozart and more.

This was my first exposure to Malcolm Gladwell and I can't wait to read all of his other books.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What We're Reading: Laurie

Generation A by Douglas Coupland

Bees have been inexplicably extinct for the past five years when suddenly five people around the world are stung. This generates worldwide "buzz" in the five adults who become subjected to fame and scientific curiosity. They soon find themselves united on a remote island off of the coast of Canada with a scientist who has questionable motives and forces them to create stories, while trying to keep information about Solon, a highly addictive drug, under wraps. Coupland is witty, has interesting ideas and weaves together common themes through the voices of his characters.

What We're Reading: Edward

Widow's Revenge

by James D. Doss

Charlie Moon is called by the window Montoya to investigate the witches who are bothering her. Charlie arrives at her ranch to find her dead from a kitchen fire. Were witches camping near her cabin? How could a witch make a boot print by the creek? Charlie goes to town and manages to foil the robbery of a hardware store. Are the two events connected? Charlie gets some help from his old flame FBI agent Lila Mae McTeague and Police Chief Scott Paris. But will Charlie get the widow's revenge?
This is the thirteenth mystery to feature Charlie Moon , Ute Indian detective.

What We're Reading: Edward

Cake Mix Doctor Returns
by Anne Byrn
It has been ten years since the publication of the Cake Mix Doctor. After several other cookbooks, Byrn returns to the subject that made her a household name. There are 160 recipes that use a standard cake mix and other ingredients to make amazing desserts. Included are layer cakes, sheet cakes, brownies, cookies, bars, and even a wedding cake.
Everyone will find a favorite recipe to make again and again!

Monday, February 22, 2010

What We're Listening To: Abby

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

This book tells the story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a local contractor in New Orleans and what happened to him after Hurricane Katrina. Zeitoun, Syrian born, well liked, hard working, married to a local woman, decided to stay behind and try to protect his properties while his wife and children fled to safety. With his canoe, Zeitoun was able to navigate from house-to-house, neighborhood-to-neighborhood, helping people, feeding dogs left behind and doing whatever he could. He had set up a time for a daily call to his wife so she wouldnt worry about him. Then tragically he was arrested for looting (while in his own house) and taken to a hastily constructed detention center where he was not given any basic rights, barely any food and was not able to contact his wife or a lawyer. He was also separated from other detainees because of his ethnicity and because of that he was sure that he would be sent to Guantanamo and never heard from again. His story is tragic, heartbreaking and yet in the end hopeful.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What We're Reading: Alice

Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog by Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is the bestselling author of eighteen novels including Rough Justice, Courting Trouble, Killer Smile and her latest out next month, Think Twice.

This nonfiction title showcases Lisa's life lessons, her wit and her wisdom earned through two marriages and divorces, and living life as a single mom having brought up a daughter. Inspired by Lisa's popular column in the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled "Chick Wit," Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog is a book you'll have to put down - just to stop laughing.

In it you'll find Lisa's thoughts on:

*being braless in the emergency room

*a man's most important body part (not what you think)

*interrupting as a sign of enthusiasm

*and so much more about life, love, family and pets

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What We're Reading: Mary

The World Has Curves
by Julia Savacool
Body image is of current interest to women of all ages; from pre-teens, to those who are "post-menopausal." The ideals of beauty, focus on the overall size and shape of the body, specific body areas (breasts, hips,) facial features and hair and skin color. Although these elements are often viewed from the perspectives of fashion, health and psychology, Savacool takes an even closer look. She sees how the perception of beauty is also based on the culture, history, and economics of various regions throughout the world.

For instance, in looking at the highly desirable female "coca-cola-bottle shape" in Jamaica, she considers the historical American influence when Coca-Cola first became available there in the 1930's. Coca-cola directed its marketing towards a youthful and "cool" culture. Added to this was the ideal feminine body at the time in Jamaica, of a curvaceous figure, with a narrow waist. Hence, the coca-cola bottle shape meshed perfectly with an existing cultural ideal.
Savacool also addresses many other elements of beauty from a socioeconomic perspective. In her conclusion, she asserts that "fitness" is now a big part of the beauty quotient in the U.S. Attaining this state requires self-discipline and motivation, along with the time/money to pursue it.
This very well written survey of current cultural and beauty trends, offers much food for thought.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What We're Reading: Tracy

Collector's Guide to Dolls of the 1960s and 1970s, Volumes I and II, by Cindy Sabulis.

Over the weekend I attended a toy show where I found a Pebbles doll (of Flintstones fame) made in the 1960s by the Ideal Company. Vintage dolls of this era are great collectibles, and these two volumes are some of the best guide books available. Filled with colorful photos and informative descriptions, they're great fun to browse, and chances are readers "of a certain age" will find a long-lost childhood toy in their pages.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What We're Reading: Rita

Mennonite In a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen

Things were going well for Rhoda Janzen until her early 40s (although not as well as they seemed to the outside world, as we find out later). Then, when she had barely recovered from complications from a hysterectomy, her husband of 15 years announced that he was leaving her for Bob, a guy he met on Only days later, on a snowy road near her western Michigan home, a teenager in a Jeep slammed into her Beetle, leaving her with bruises, stitches, a broken clavicle and leg injuries so severe she couldn’t walk for weeks. So what does a 43-year old woman with this incredible run of bad luck do next? Well, if you’re Rhoda Janzen, you head back home to California to spend a few months of R&R with your parents. Only in this case, Dad is the retired head of the North American Mennonite Conference for Canada and the United States (“the Mennonite equivalent of the pope, but in plaid shorts and black dress socks”) and Mom, a retired nurse, is a deacon in the church, and the parental home is part of an extended Mennonite community. The author, who renounced her religion years before when she entered academia, was now back to her roots and forced to examine both her early life and the events that followed her departure from the community. She does so with affection and an enormous amount of humor, describing for readers what it was like growing up Mennonite in a secular world and introducing us to a religious community that will probably be unfamiliar to most. (She thoughtfully includes a brief introduction to all things Mennonite.) Janzen has been compared to Garrison Keillor and David Sedaris, and this is apparent in her hilarious descriptions of her family and friends and Mennonite food, dress, and customs. But she is also willing to share her recovery from the psychological damage done by her often abusive, bipolar ex-husband and she candidly examines the choices she made that led her to her present situation. Rhoda Janzen is one tough woman (which she would probably attribute to her upbringing), but she is also honest, fiercely intelligent, and screamingly funny.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Lethal Legacy
by Linda Fairstein
Assistant District Attorney, Alexandra Cooper and her special crimes unit are called to the scene of an attempted murder in a New York brownstone. The scene was filled with smoke and the perpetrator was dressed like a fireman. Later another woman is found dead in the same apartment. She is dressed in the latest fashion and a rare book is found beneath her body. The book was given to the New York Public Library by the Hunt family. They own the brownstone. The first victim worked at the New York Public Library as a book restorer. She also worked for the son of the Hunt who gave the book to Library. The dead woman is a double for his daughter. Confused? Was the rare book stolen from the Library? Where other treasured books also stolen? Where they stolen to lead to a greater treasure?
Great mystery for the book lover.
This is the 11th book to feature Alexandra Cooper.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What We're Reading: Brenda

Emily's Out and About Book by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post with Illustrations by Leo Landry

Emily's Out and About Book is not only a fun book to read but is also a great tool to use to teach toddlers about early social skills and manners. In the book Emily spends the day running errands with her mom. While they are out and about her mom takes the time to teach Emily to use her quiet voice, ask before touching and wait patiently among other things. The authors are codirectors of the Emily Post Institute and the book includes a letter to parents at the end. The text is written in a simple format and the educational messages are very positive and upbeat. The illustrations are bright and cheerful and little kids will enjoy tagging along with Emily on her busy day!

What We're Reading: Laurie

I'm Down by Mishna Wolff.

Mishna Wolff grew up in a very poor all black neighborhood in Seattle with her outgoing younger sister Anora, and her father John, a self-proclaimed black man. Wolff's parents were hippies who lived in Vermont. After their divorce, her mother became a Buddhist and her father moved back to the neighborhood where he grew up with Mishna and Anora in tow. Wolff's father only dated black women, had all black friends and encouraged his daughters to be "down" with the people in the neighborhood. Mishna was very shy, socially awkward, found it very difficult to fit in and very hard to please her father because she was too "white". Once she finally began to make friends, her mother decided to enroll her in an all white school full of rich kids where she found she was too "black" to fit in.
This funny, and at times frustrating and sad, memoir tells an interesting story about a girl trying to find her own identity and her own place in the world-something we can all relate to.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What We're reading: Edward

Larry Bond's Red Dragon Rising: Shadows of War

by Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice

This novel is the beginning of a new four part series. By 2014 climactic change has lead to droughts and changes in crop yield all over the world. In the United States gasoline is over $14 a gallon and electricity is scarce. Mass riots have broken out in China. China's leadership has decided to relieve the pressure by attacking China's traditional enemies in Southeast Asia. The plan is to make it look like China was attacked by Vietnam. Josh MacArthur is a weather scientist studying the changing climate of northern Vietnam. His camp is destroyed by the invading Chinese. Josh captures the attack with his phone camera. He also films the Chinese army crossing the border into Vietnam. Josh uses his satellite phone to call for help. But the Chinese also listen to his cries for help. A Chinese commando unit is sent to find and kill him. Will he be able to elude both the commandos and the army? Is the United States willing and able to go to war over this invasion? Will the United States be able to rescue Josh from the Chinese forces?

What We're Reading: Cathy

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.

"She sells sea shells down by the sea shore." We grew up hearing this rhyme but I don't think any of us realized it was referring to a real person. The person was Mary Anning and she lived in Lyme Regis on the south shore of England. This is the story of how she came to be one of England's best fossil hunters, supplying such scientists as Charles Lyell, Georges Cuvier, William Buckland of Oxford University, and many others. Mary, with the help and support of Elizabeth Philpot - a woman of higher rank and education - struggled not only to find these "monsters" or "crocodiles" as they called them at first but also against the sexism of the time. Women weren't supposed to go out alone or get dirty or have "ideas" or even allowed to go into places like the Geological Society. Mary and Elizabeth formed a life-long friendship that helped change how people understand the history of the world.

If you like this book, you might also try Tracy Chevalier's other books based on historical people: The Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Lady and the Unicorn, and Burning Bright and also Rebecca Stott's Coral Thief which takes place in Paris and concerns Georges Cuvier's museum and fossils.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What We're Reading: Brenda

First Ballet by Deanna Caswell with Illustrations by Elizabeth Matthews and Birdies Big-Girl Shoes by Sujean Rim

These are two wonderful picture books for the little girly girl in your life.

In First Ballet a little girl goes to the ballet with her grandmother for the very first time. Although the book does not specifically state it the ballet is the Nutcracker. The text is short and to the point but has a nice rhyming quality to it and reads aloud well. The author recreates all the wonder of a young child's first visit to the ballet with the audience dressed up in their best, the raising of the curtain and the appearance of the graceful dancers on the stage. The illustrations are beautiful to look at and really capture the magic of the ballet!

Birdies Big-Girl Shoes is the story of a five year old little girl who longs to be just like her ultra-stylish mom. Every morning she helps her mother pick out the perfect jewelry, sunglasses and perfume. Her favorite though is her mom's collection of fancy high heel shoes! How she longs to try them on and do all of her favorite activities in "big-girl shoes." However, when she finally gets the chance to try she realizes that her "beautiful barefoot shoes" are still the best choice for her! The author is a former shoe and accessory designer and the illustrations in this book are colorful and fun. Little fashionistas will especially love looking at all of the gorgeous shoes!

What We're Reading: Tracy

Valentine Treasury: a Century of Valentine Cards, by Robert Brenner.

Love it or hate it, Valentine's Day is almost here! Although many now dismiss Valentine's Day as a "Hallmark holiday," it actually has deep historic roots, stretching all the way back to ancient Roman times. In America, the holiday can be traced through its primary symbol, the Valentine card, and this volume showcases one hundred years' worth of beautiful, funny, and surprising examples.

Check out Youth Services' display case, near the Information Desk, for a display of antique and vintage valentines this month.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What We're Reading: Jan

The Academy Awards: The Complete Unofficial History by Jim Piazza and Gail Kinn

It's award season and perhaps looking at past Oscar contests will get us in the mood for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, March 7th, this year. This title will accomplish the goal. It has decade-by-decade facts about the ceremonies and the winners and losers. However, it also includes background information like who may have missed out on a particular role, important firsts in the movie business and a section called "Unmentionables," - anecdotes and controversies. For example, Russell Crowe won the Best Actor award for the film Gladiator and also acquired a broken foot bone, fractured hip and punctured cheek for his efforts. Another anecdote is a quip from The Exorcist director William Peter Blatty when he lost out for the Best Picture statue and complained, "The Exorcist is head and shoulders the finest film made this year." There are also 500+ photographs in the book that remind the reader of their favorite films and ceremony moments. Special sections of the book called "The Look of the Decade"cover fashion and glamour do's and don'ts through the years. All in all the book is a treasure-trove of fact and fun for everyone that loves the movies.

What We're reading: Edward

Lord of Death
by Eliot Pattison
Are you an armchair traveller?
Do you like mysteries?
Then try reading this series of mysteries that take place in Tibet. Shan Tao Yun was a top level investigator of crimes in China. But he crossed paths with someone who thought that he was too good at his job. So he is sent off to a Tibetan gulag to be reeducated. While in prison he meets two Buddhist monks. They become the salvation of both his spirit and mind. Upon his release Shan is a non-person stranded in Tibet. In the latest book, Shan is the designated transporter of the dead. While transporting a dead Sherpa, Shan finds two dead women near the sight of an ambushed prison bus. Are the two events related? Shan is again tortured by government officials. He may be made the scapegoat for the murders. Will he be able to clear himself by finding out the truth about the murders?
Shan's Tibet is not Shangri-La.
This series has an interesting point of view on China's dealings with Tibetan culture.
1999 Skull Mantra
2001 Water Touching Stone
2002 Bone Mountain
2004 Beautiful Ghosts
2008 Prayer of the Dragon
2009 Lord of Death

What We're Reading: Edward

People of the Sturgeon: Wisconsin's love affair with an ancient fish
by Kathleen Schmitt Kline, Ron Bruch, Fred Binkowski, and Bob Rashid
Last year did you read the article in the newspaper about the project to build sturgeon spawning beds off the shore of Belle Isle?
If this piqued your curiosity, you have to read this book! It tells the tale of the sturgeons of Lake Winnebago. You will read about the Native Americans who used the fish to survive. White settlers saw the fish as a commodity to be exploited. Sturgeon eggs were harvested and rivaled the fabled Russian caviar. Algonac was a local center of this trade. Overfishing and dams almost killed off the sturgeon. Luckily local fisherman formed a group to protect the sturgeon. They forced the state to study and protect the fish. We are all lucky that the sturgeon is making a comeback. A MUST read for both fishermen and environmentalists!