Monday, December 26, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

How Santa Really Works, by Alan Snow.

Curious children have always wondered how Santa really works. How does he get down those chimneys? How does he fit so many presents into his sleigh? How does he know if you've been bad or good? Alan Snow delivers these answers and more in this clever picture book, filled with highly detailed, comic style illustrations. A fun read (and look) for anyone who has ever had questions about Santa.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

Medusa Amulet: a novel

by Robert Masello

David Franco is a researcher at the Newberry Library in Chicago. After giving a presentation at the Library, he is approached by a wealthy woman. She shows him a precious manuscript that gives a clue on how to find a precious object. His reward for finding the object is a million dollars plus expenses. The money would help to pay the bills for his sister's cancer treatment. David flies to Florence to begin his search. At a library in Florence he meets another researcher. She helps him find and follow more clues to the object. It is a mirror that was crafted by Benvenuto Cellini using the dark arts. When it is used properly it can give the gift of eternal life. But David is not the only one searching for the mirror. Has the mirror granted eternal life to someone? Was it Benvenuto, his muse, or someone else? David's sister takes a turn to the worse. Will he be able to find the mirror and save her life?

What We're Reading: Tracy

Snowmen at Christmas, by Caralyn Buehner.

In this sequel to the bestseller Snowmen at Night, it's Christmas Eve and everyone is asleep in their beds. Everyone, that is, but the snowmen. The snow families slip quietly away from their yards to gather in the town square for their own Christmas party, complete with a visit from the snowman Santa Claus. Children will enjoy this further peek into the snowmen's magical world, brought to life with rich, colorful illustrations that seem to glow with warm light.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What We're Listening To: Abby

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. Unabridged, Random House Audio, 2011, 3 hrs 55 mins. Read by Samantha Quan & Carrington MacDuffie.

This is a very unique novel. It is the story of a group of young Japanese women beginning their voyage to America to find their new husbands. They have already been promised and have the photos of their husbands but now the reality of their experience is palpable. How these new husbands treat them, how hard they have to work, the struggles of having children, and all of the many challenges and hurdles are described. The voice in this book is both singular and plural. It talks of all of them and at the same time describes individuals. It is beautifully written and haunting throughout the book but especially with the last chapter when these women and their families are rounded up and taken to internment camps where they remain until the war is over. What it really means is that all of the hard work, everything they have accomplished over many years, has to be left behind. In fact all evidence of them disappears and they are forgotten by the people who remained behind. It is quite striking and heartwrenching.

What We're Reading: Edward

Joy for Beginners: a novel

by Erica Bauermeister

"All serious daring starts within"

Eudora Welty

Kate is recovering from her battle with cancer. Six of her friends gather to help her celebrate her remission. Kate tells them that she plans to go white-water rafting, to conquer her greatest fear. She wants them to conquer their greatest fear. So Kate gives them each an task to master. Kate does go white-water rafting with her daughter. They form a closer bond during the trip. Kate's friends do their part and come to a fuller realization of who they are and what they can become.

Take the time to read Bauermeister's previous book, The School of Essential Ingredients.

What We're Reading: Tracy

O Christmas Tree: Its History and Holiday Traditions, by Jacqueline Farmer.

This accessible children's book explores the historical roots of the modern Christmas tree, from the palm and evergreen branches of ancient winter solstice celebrations to the shiny aluminum trees of the 1960s American holiday. Curious readers will also learn about the workings of Christmas tree farms; different types of trees (Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Eastern White Pine, and Colorado Blue Spruce); and fun facts and trivia.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

Gourmet Game Night: bite-sized, mess-free eating for board-game parties, bridge clubs, poker nights, book groups, and more

by Cynthia Nims

Since the days of the Earl of Sandwich, everyone who has entertained at home has search for an easy way to keep their game pieces clean. In the present economy, more people are staying home for game nights. Gourmet Game Night will give you many great food ideas to satisfy hungry gamers. This cookbook is divided into sections for Dips and Spreads, Skewers and Picks, All-Edibles, Sandwiches, Pastries, Small Dishes, and Drinks. From updated classics to new ideas, you will find something to feed your gamers this winter.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Christmas with the Mousekins: A Story with Crafts, Recipes, Poems and More!, by Maggie Smith.

The Mousekin family is busy getting ready for Christmas. They're decorating the tree, making paper snowflakes, writing to Santa, baking cookies, and crafting presents for each other. After reading the cozy story, your family can get ready for Christmas right along with the Mousekins, as the book includes holiday recipes and craft instructions for making a variety of decorations and gifts.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What We're Reading: Laurie

Life by Keith Richards

Keith Richards is an inventive guitarist with a deep passion for music, guitar, songwriting and performing. Richards is a riff master. His love of music is evident throughout this book. The way he describes how he spent hours studying songs by his favorite blues musicians and learning to play guitar is very inspiring. The fame that goes along with being a legendary rock star certainly took its toll on Richards as he became addicted to drugs and excess, but he never gave up on the music, which is probably what saved his life. Keith is a raconteur, but is very open about his turbulent personal life, especially during the '70s, and about his strained relationships within the Rolling Stones. Upon finishing the book, one will definitely come away with a clear picture of this rock icon.
This biography can be found in the adult biography section of the library B Richards.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What We're Reading: Jan

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

This title is a further exploration of the tumultuous life of Carrie Fisher -previously recounted in her best-selling show and book Wishful Drinking. She writes in her raw, laugh-out-loud style about her Hollywood upbringing, being the daughter of two larger-than-life Hollywood stars, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. She is incredulous about her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars and the fame and money she acquired from it. She tenderly relates stories about her friend Michael Jackson, feeling a connection to him as another kid surrounded by show business. Many other surprising but true memories are revealed by Fisher in her appealing and provocative reveal. Yet the title Shockaholic and the second chapter set the tone of this memoir. They describe Fisher’s decision to undergo electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – commonly known as“shock therapy” - to deal with the “pain squared, pain cubed, pain to the nth power” of her life. Because, despite all the wit and genius with language, Carrie Fisher is still hurting. She can quip about her early life: being sadly funny about her father’s absence for many years and then his death, the hopeless comparison between Princess Leia and the real Carrie, and her shame and guilt at impacting her own daughter’s life by being a source of worry to her. Years of drug use could not ease the pain. Her writing seems to have given her a way to help sort things out and ECT has calmed her, even while taking some of her memory. The book is a roller-coaster ride of laughter and sadness and, in some instances, heartbreak. After reading it, one feels like Carrie Fisher needs a big hug – for living through everything she has and continuing to look for strength.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

Carte Blanche

by Jeffery Deaver

If you liked the new sensitive Daniel Craig version of James Bond, you will enjoy Carte Blanche. In this novel, sanctioned by the estate of Ian Fleming, James Bond has all the accouterments that made him a 1960s icon. But James is definitely a modern man. James is investigating a threat to the Realm. Whispers about an attack that will have casualties in the thousands and affect British interests are overheard. The focus is on Afghanistan as the site for the attack. But James follows a lead outside London that sends him to Dubai and then on to South Africa. He is following Severan Hydt, the head of a multinational recycling empire. Hydt is perverse in his taking pleasure in decaying things. What does he plan for the decaying British Empire? Hydt employs Niall Dunne to plan and carry out his desires. Niall is just as dangerous as James. Who will survive their meeting? Will James again save the Realm?

May Deever have carte blanche to write the next James Bond thriller!

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Board Books

If you have babies or toddlers, you might like to know about a large order of new board books we've just received. These beautiful, sturdy books are perfect for little ones. We have three new series with dozens of titles, all found in the Board Book section of the Youth Services room.

Baby's Very First, including The Little Book of Little Kittens.

That's Not My
..., fun "touchy-feely" books like That's Not My Teddy.

And Usborne Very First, including Nursery Rhymes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's National Game and Puzzle Week

November 20 - 26 is National Game and Puzzle Week, and the library has lots of resources to help you celebrate!

For the Wii, check out Hasbro Family Game Night, which includes 11 different games. Call number: Game Wii Family.

To find a fun, active game to play outdoors, take a look at 100 Games for Fall, located at J790.1 Allue.

For a fantastical adventure story about a magical board game, try Jumanji or Zathura, by Chris Van Allsburg, both found at JFIC Van Allsburg.

And to learn more about how games help us learn and grow, read Libraries Got Game: Aligned Learning Through Modern Board Games, at CHILD.LIT. J025.2896 Mayer.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

"Stealing the Mona Lisa: a mystery"

by Carson Morton

In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. "Stealing the Mona Lisa" is an account of the crime by Marquis Eduardo de Valfierno. A dying Eduardo tells his story to a newspaperman. He begins his story with the fleecing of a rich American in South America. The death of his friend and art forger has Eduardo looking for another place to run his confidence game. Eduardo returns to Paris and gathers a new group to help him with his latest confidence game. After stealing the Mona Lisa, he plans to sell six copies of the Mona Lisa to rich collectors in the United States. Each will think that they have purchased the real painting. Eduardo's plan runs into some problems but the Mona Lisa is removed from the Louvre. Is Eduardo's story the truth or just another con?

Monday, November 14, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Looking for a Moose, by Phyllis Root.

"Have you ever seen a moose ----
a long-leggy moose ----
a branchy antler,

"No! We've never, ever, ever,
ever, ever seen a moose.
And we really, really,
really, really want
to see a moose."

So opens Looking for a Moose, a wonderfully rhythmic read-aloud in the tradition of the classic We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Children will enjoy sharing in the story, making the requisite sounds and motions while their favorite adult reader directs the action:

"We'll look on the hillside for a bulgy-nose moose! We take off our hats. We tighten up our packs...We scramble up the hillside ---- TRIP TROP! TRIP TROP! ---- the rocky-blocky, lumpy-bumpy, fuzzy-muzzy hillside."

Glimpses of a moose hidden in the illustrations reward careful looking. Take a peek and see if you can find him. Be sure to tighten up your pack first, and watch out for the rocky hillside.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What We're Reading: Cathy

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I hate circuses. This book however is lovely.

The Cirque des Reves (Circus of Dreams) arrives without warning. One morning you wake up and the empty field outside of town is filled with black and white tents.The circus is not one of clowns and elephants but of a real magic of the senses: sight, touch, smell. The author manages to create a world that touches ours but remains largely outside it. It takes place around the turn of the last century. Two magicians, Celia and Marco, have been trained from their childhoods to participate in a contest against each other (although neither knows at first who their opponent is and that the contest is to be to the death). The circus is created both for them and by them to be the setting for the contest. One tent is a world of ice, in another, the smells can transport you the Arabian desert, in the next you can watch "illusions" where birds appear out of nowhere and the performer disappears before your eyes. Yet another tent contains a vertical maze of clouds. A hitch in the contest plans appears after a while though. Celia and Marco fall in love. They must decide how to save the circus and its performers while putting an end to the contest.

You may want to become one of the Reveurs, put on your red scarf and follow this circus.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale, by Sibylle von Olfers, translated by Jack Zipes & illustrated by Sieglinde Schoen Smith.

Mother Earth and Her Children was first published in 1906, written and illustrated by a German art teacher and nun named Sibylle von Olfers. Often referred to as "the story of the root children," it depicts the cycle of nature through the perspective of Mother Earth and her young helpers, who waken with the spring, bringing color and life to the world before heading back to their underground beds to sleep through the fall and winter.

The gentle story, beautiful illustrations, and natural theme made the book a perennial favorite with Waldorf-leaning parents and educators. This edition features a fresh translation by German fairy tale and folklore scholar Jack Zipes, professor of German literature at the University of Minnesota, and gorgeous quilted renditions of the original illustrations by award winning German artist Sieglinde Schoen Smith. The result is a truly beautiful book to share with children any time of the year.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

"Twice a Spy: a novel"

by Keith Thomson

Keith Thomson's "Once a Spy" has an unique slant on the usual spy novel. In it Charlie Clark learned that his mother was still alive and was a spy. His father, Drummond, is also a spy. He pretended to be a washing machine salesman. The washing machines that he sold were really fake nuclear bombs. He was selling them to terrorists to uncover them before they could do real damage. Drummond is suffering from Alzheimer's. His old CIA group, the Calvary, tries to terminate him before he can give up any secrets. In this sequel, Drummond is being treated for his Alzheimer's at a Swiss clinic. Charlie and his NSA girlfriend are protecting Drummond. But the Calvary needs Drummond to find a missing washing machine in the Caribbean. Charlie and Drummond again manage to outmaneuver the Calvary. But after locating the machine, they lose it. They have a hard time telling the good guys from the bad guys. Will they be able to figure out the target of the bomb? Once they do find it again , they must save the world! Charlie manages some of his own moves in this book, but it is Drummond who often saves the day.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What We're Watching: Jan

The Best Years of Our Lives

Directed by William Wyler.
Starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews and Harold Russell.

In time for Veteran’s Day, this 1946 classic about the readjustment of World War II veterans into American society is a moving choice. Homecoming is, of course, joyful and a celebration. However, problems of changed relationships, disability, unemployment, flashbacks, and even complexities of the G.I. bill are also a reality. Fredric March, Dana Andrews and Harold Russell portray ex-servicemen from the same town that share the bond of being changed by the challenges and brutality of war. Air Force Captain Fred returns home to a shaky marriage and poor job prospects because, after all, “who needs the services of a hero bombardier?” Army Sergeant Al is a family man and successful banker whose children have grown up without him and whose former bank employer is less than understanding to veterans needing financial help. Navy Seaman Homer is an amputee who misunderstands help from those around him as pity and builds a wall distancing himself from those who love him. Are the best years of these men’s lives still ahead as they dreamed they would be? Being made in 1946, the movie’s setting is authentic to the time and the film is a history lesson about actual emotions at the end of the war. The hopes, struggles and triumphs portrayed by the characters earned the film the Best Picture Oscar of 1946 and it's considered by many sources to be one of the best films about war veterans ever made.

What We're Reading: Tracy

Pumpkin Moon, by Tim Preston, illustrated by Simon Bartram.

In this dreamlike tale, Halloween jack o' lanterns come magically to life after midnight and drift over the town, through the woods, and up to meet the brightly glowing pumpkin moon. Richly done, folksy paintings carry the story. A beautiful book to share on a dark October night!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

"City of Fear: a novel"

by David Hewson

Sovrintendente Nic Costa and his team are on the security detail for the G8 conference in Rome. The kidnapping of a governmental official involved in the security for the conference begins the trail to the Blue Demon. The Blue Demon was a terrorist group that existed until after World War II. Nic's father and the current Italian Prime Minister were involved in the extermination of the group. The new head of the Blue Demon believes that he is the embodiment of the ancient Etruscans and that he should be ruling Rome. His terror attacks strike at the heart of Rome. Nic and his team are frozen out of the investigation by forces inside other police agencies. But Nic's private conversation with the Prime Minister puts the team on the right track to prevent further deaths. This eighth adventure for Nic is a good mixture of political intrigue, a murder mystery, a historical mystery, and a thriller.
Read the whole series!

Monday, October 24, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Halloween Sky Ride, by Elizabeth Spurr.

Mildred is on her way to the Witches' Wobble, "a Halloween festivity where witches go to gobble." Speeding along on her broom, she encounters a skeleton, ghost, mummy, jack 0' lantern, black cat, and bat who all want to come too. But can they fit on Mildred's slender broom? The anticipation builds as the broomstick fills in this not-too-creepy cumulative tale.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

"Hanging Tree: a Starvation Lake Mystery"

by Bryan Gruley

Starvation Lake is a Michigan resort town that has seen better days. It is a small town where everybody knows everybody else's secrets. Gracie McBride has returned from Detroit to start life over again. After a snow storm she is found hanging in the local lover's tree. Is it a suicide or murder? Gus, the editor of the local newspaper, is asked by his mother to get to the truth about Gracie. Gus and Gracie are cousins and frienemies. Gus worked for a Detroit newspaper before he returned to Starvation Lake. Even when they both lived in Detroit, Gus and Gracie rarely saw each other. Gus is running a series of articles on a millionaire lawyer who has moved to a lush estate outside of town. His son is the star goalie for the local hockey team. The lawyer promised to build a new hockey rink for the town. But the rink is not being built as quickly as promised. Everyone in town is willing to give him more time and the town's money to complete the project. Gus's research turns up a link between the lawyer and Gracie. Gus works to restore Gracie's reputation in the eyes of Starvation Lake.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Pumpkins, by Ken Robbins.

Simple text and crisp photographs reveal the life cycle of pumpkins, from seeds to jack o' lanterns. Especially intriguing are images of giant pumpkins so large they are lifted by forklifts! Children will enjoy sharing this book with their favorite grownups before taking a trip themselves to a local pumpkin patch.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

A Vampire Is Coming To Dinner! Ten Rules to Follow, by Pamela Jane.

What would you do if you knew a vampire was coming to dinner? The boy in this story sets a series of clever traps based on ten things he knows about vampires (like their inability to cross running water and their dislike of garlic.) Contemporary illustrations and a ghoulish color palette make this a hip choice for Halloween.

What We're Watching: Cathy

The Conspirator

This is the story of of the trial of Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) who was accused of being part of the conspiracy to kill president Lincoln. She is defended, reluctantly at first, by Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) who was a Union war hero. Aiken is at first certain of her guilt, but that slowly changes to uncertainty and he fights for her right to get a fair trial, thwarted by the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton (Kevin Kline) who believes he is justified in doing anything that will preserve the Union - even possibly convicting innocent people. All of the performances are excellent and the costuming and lighting are wonderful. You really feel that you've been given a window back to that time and place. Robert Redford (director) and the American Film Company are planning on more films of this sort and I can't wait.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

"Larry Bond's Red Dragon Rising: Edge of War"

by Larry Bond

Those of you who read the first part of the "Red Dragon Rising" series, will remember that scientist Josh MacArthur witnessed the Chinese invasion of Vietnam.The United States is trying to covertly get him out of the country and to help the Vietnamese. A female CIA agent and a SEAL TEAM join forces to get Josh to safety. Their journey from Hanoi to Saigon finds them avoiding both the Vietnamese army and Josh's Chinese nemesis from the first book. But nothing is easy in a country paralyzed by war. Both an Army Major and a Navy Captain use the newest technology to support the aims of the President. But will it be enough to stop the Chinese?
Can't wait for the next part of the story!

Friday, October 7, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett.

Great Britain has long produced some of the finest fantasy writers in the world of books. One of my modern favorites is Terry Pratchett, who was recently knighted by the Queen for his "services to literature."

Pratchett's classic fantasy series Discworld is at once original, literate, moving, thoughtful, irreverent, and hilariously funny.
Pratchett has done an equally fine job with his youth series set in the same universe, the Tiffany Aching Adventures.

Tiffany Aching is a young witch charged with caring for the inhabitants of the Chalk, a region reminiscent of southeast England, complete with loads of sheep, colorful villagers, a beneficent Baron, and a fairy mound, or, rather, a Feegle mound. (Those are Feegles on the book cover.) In this, the fourth novel of her adventures, Tiffany must handle the mundane problems of her steading (everything from sick sheep to social work) while trying to defeat a more sinister dilemma: the coming of the Cunning Man, the ghost of a witch hunter who reappears with despairing regularity over the centuries, poisoning the minds of the people and stirring up witch hunting fevers.

Best read in order, the other Tiffany Aching books are:

The Wee Free Men
A Hat Full of Sky

Monday, October 3, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

"Pericles Commission"

by Gary Corby

In 461 B.C., democracy is coming to Athens through the work of Ephialtes. Nicolaos, the older brother of Socrates, is walking near the base of the Acropolis. Suddenly, the body of Ephialtes, pierced with an arrow, falls to his feet. Soon Pericles arrives and commissions Nicoloas to find the murderer of his colleague.While trying to find the murderer, Nicolaos is followed, beaten up, offered a good job, and almost killed. He interviews all the famous people of the time. He is smitten by Diotima, the daughter of Ephialtes and a hetaera. Together they work to solve the murder. Meanwhile all of Athens is in turmoil. Will the newly founded democracy be crushed by the ruling Areopagus? Nicolaos hopes that he can solve the murder and become an important man in Athens.
Hopefully, the start of an interesting historical series.

What We're Reading: Tracy

Boo! by Joe Fenton.

Luminous ghosts seem to float across the pages of this wordless story. The lack of text encourages young readers to study the illustrations: what are the ghosts doing? What will happen next? Careful observation will reveal the plot (a ghostly costume competition) just before the clever ending. Boo!

Friday, September 30, 2011

What We're Watching: Jan

Fallen Angel
Directed by Otto Preminger. Starring Alice Faye, Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell.

This 1945 film follows a drifter, Eric, in a small town who falls for sultry waitress Stella. The waitress wants to marry a man with money. Eric marries unassuming heiress, June, for her bank account but Stella is soon found dead. The movie is a gritty whodunit with a twist ending. A significant aspect of the movie is that it is an example of American "film noir" - "black film" in French. This style, primarily of the 1940s and 1950s, often deals with themes of betrayal, failure and despair. There is frequently a con-man (Dana Andrews as Eric), a femme fatale (Linda Darnell as Stella) and a detective (Charles Bickford as Mark Judd). There are desolate streets and a distressing mood that is created by stylized cinematography - different from other movies of the time. The viewer feels pulled into a shadowy world with danger lurking. Film noir films of this period are oftentimes said to be a reflection of post-WWII disillusionment and the anxiety of the coming Cold War of the time. The DVD includes a commentary that provides much background on cast, location and technique. Fallen Angel is a fine example of film noir that includes other pictures such as Laura, Double Indemnity and Out of the Past.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Hooray for Fall! by Kazuo Iwamura.

Three little squirrels discover the changing colors of autumn in this beautiful picture book by Japanese illustrator Kazuo Iwamura. Wearing newly knitted red sweaters, the squirrels see red mushrooms, red berries, red leaves, and a fiery red sunset as they explore their forest. Soft lines, subtle colors, and a sweet story make this a perfect choice for a quiet bedtime book.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What We're Reading: Cathy

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Edie's favorite book as a child was "The True History of the Mud Man." It was written by Raymond Blythe who lived in Milderhurst Castle. His 3 elderly and reclusive daughters still live there. Then, by chance, Edie finds out that her mother was evacuated to the castle during WWII. Her mother can even recite the poems that Blythe wrote ..."the ancient walls that sing the distant hours." The place draws her and she makes an impulsive visit to the castle. She meets the daughters: Persephony and Seraphina, who are twins, and Juniper, who has lost her mind. Edie searches for the inspiration behind the famous book and also the mysteries surrounding the sisters' lives. She also finds that her mother isn't really the sort of person she'd always thought. Disappearances, murder, madness, war, guilt, fires - all play their part in the family's history. Oh, and of course, there are ghosts.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Foxy and Egg, by Alex T. Smith.

Foxy loves eggs. And chickens. So she is, of course, delighted when an egg rolls up to her front door. Dreaming of a wonderful breakfast the next day, Foxy feeds the egg to fatten it up, plays with it to make sure it is fit, and then tucks it into bed for a refreshing sleep. The next morning, Foxy is thrilled to see the egg has grown to enormous proportions. But then it hatches, and what's inside is most definitely not a chicken.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

"Edge: a Novel"

by Jeffery Deaver

Six years ago, Corte listened over the phone as his mentor was tortured by Loving. Loving is an expert on getting the "Edge" on people to get make them give up the information that he needs. Corte works for a secret federal agency that is tasked with protecting high value targets. Loving is now after a witness being protected by Corte. Loving has a source inside Corte's agency and keeps a step ahead of Corte. But Corte loves gaming and keeps Loving from getting his target. Corte even finds Loving's childhood home to learn more about his adversary. Corte and Loving seem to be evenly matched. But only one of them can get the final "Edge".
Great thriller!
Sure to be one of my favorite reads of the year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Duck Duck Moose, by Dave Horowitz.

Moose loves living in the Great North Woods with his friends Bear, Duck, and Other Duck. He loves the cool fall weather and the delicious breakfasts at the Pancake Hut. But then Pancake Hut closes for the season, Bear goes into hibernation, and Duck and Other Duck get ready to migrate to Florida for the winter. What's Moose to do? Take his first vacation!

What We're Reading: Edward

"One Summer"

by David Baldacci

"One Summer" is the story of Jack and his family. Jack is dying and his family is fracturing. Lizzie, Jack's wife, is making a run to the pharmacy when she is killed in an automobile accident. After Lizzie's funeral, Bonnie, her mother takes charge and farms out his three children to relatives and puts Jack into hospice care. Miraculously Jack goes into remission. After he returns to work, he reclaims his family. Jack manages to provide for his children's physical needs, but meeting their emotional needs is another story. Jack packs up the family and takes them to the South Carolina shore. Lizzie grew up there and dreamed of taking her children to visit the house she grew up in and its lighthouse. Jack starts fixing up the old house and lighthouse. Summer turns to fall and the family stays. Lizzie's attachment to the lighthouse is both a curse and a salvation. Will Jack and his children become a family again?

Reminiscent of John Grisham's "Bleachers"

Read this book before the end of summer!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What We're Reading: Debbie

The Quickening by Michelle Hoover

Atmospheric story of two Iowa farmwives, neighbors, but with little in common but loneliness. Set in the early twentieth century, through drought and the Great Depression, the story is presented in chapters alternately told by the two women, Enidina and Mary. This technique of using each character to tell their version of events helps to explain the background behind some of their conflicts. The story is very quiet and lonely. I could almost hear the crickets buzzing in the dry, hot fields as I read the book. This might sound as if the book would be boring, but it really wasn't. It was an excellent novel, full of hardknocks, tragedy, secrets, and well developed characters. At just over 200 pages, it was a quick read. This was a first novel for the author. I'll be watching for more from her.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Seymour Slug Starts School, by Carey Armstrong-Ellis.

Seymour Slug has just moved to a new town, and is worried about starting school. Will the other slugs like him? What if he has to write his name? He doesn't know how to spell yet. And worst of all, what if the teacher makes him play dodgeball? Seymour is terrible at dodgeball! Just when his anxiety reaches its zenith, Seymour's fairy slugmother arrives, promising to stay with him on the first day of school. Reassured, Seymour drifts off to sleep, but the next day, he discovers the zany and hyperactive fairy slugmother turns out to be more trouble than help.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What We're Watching: Jan

Shoeshine. Directed by Vittorio De Sica. Starring Rinaldo Smordoni and Franco Interlenghi.

Social conditions are often the catalyst for works of art. Such is the case of the 1946 film Shoeshine, directed by Vittorio De Sica. It is the story of two boys in post World War II Rome. Rome at the time had high unemployment, poverty and many people were in despair. In the film, the boys are close friends who make money shining shoes for American soldiers. Their outlet is saving their money to ride horses by the hour and their dream is to own a horse of their own. Horses represent majesty and freedom from the bleak existence in the city. The boys unwittingly become involved in a crime of blackmail and are sent to a prison-like reformatory. They are separated, deceived by the system and eventually betray each other. Factor in bullies, jealousy and a society dealing with desperate circumstances and the cherished friendship comes to a tragic end. This film is an example of Italian neorealist cinema after the war that shined a light on harsh working-class concerns. It was a new way of filmmaking that was recognized around the world. The film was a recipient of a special Academy Award that stated in part that '... a country scarred by war can still be creative in adversity'. Shoeshine (along with so many international films) shows life and conditions that are important in other countries.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What We're Reading: Cathy

Prophecy by S.J. Parris

The place is London, the time, 1583. This is the second novel (Heresy was the first) to feature Giordano Bruno - ex-monk, author, philosopher, seeker of arcane wisdom - as the protagonist. He is living in London now, still secretly working for Sir Francis Walsingham, the Queen's spymaster. Plots to dethrone Queen Elizabeth and put Mary Queen of Scots on the throne are rife. Bruno has convinced the staff of the French Embassy that he favors the Scottish queen so that he can get information on whatever plots they are involved in. Meanwhile 2 of Queen Elizabeth's waiting women are murdered. This rather un-nerves the Queen, who seeks help from her astrologer Dr. Dee as well as her "secret service." Bruno doesn't know who to trust and is followed several times and attacked - several times - and then saved by a mysterious defender. Bruno finally finds out who is behind the attacks but loses a friend. The period detail is wonderful, you almost feel like you are walking the streets of Elizabethan London.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What We're Watching: Brenda

Obesity in a Bottle: Understanding Liquid Calories & Nutrition and Obesity in a Bottle II: How to Pick Healthy Beverages by Learning ZoneXpress

These are two great DVDs that will help you and your family make the right choices when selecting a healthy beverage to drink.

The first DVD "Understanding Liquid Calories & Nutrition" is aimed at children in the 5th grade and above. It is definitely corny but has tons of good information in it. It talks about the relationship between weight gain and the empty calories in soda and juices, the increase in serving size over the years, the dangers of diet soda, and the negative effects of energy drinks among other topics. It ends with a segment on the benefits of drinking water.

The second DVD "How to Pick Healthy Beverages" is aimed at children in the 9th grade and above. This DVD is narrated by a nutrition expert and is not nearly as corny. I think it would be better received by older children who may not be able to get past the silliness of the first DVD. It talks about how much sugar is in many popular beverages that most people would probably think are healthy options. It also stresses the importance of looking at the label and checking both the nutrition information and the ingredient list. Finally it discusses what to drink when participating in sports activities and some myths about caffeine.

These are both great DVDs to either watch on your own to make healthy choices for your younger children or to watch together as a family with older kids.

What We're Reading: Edward


by Jeff Abbott

Sam and Lucy are expecting their first child. They both work at a CIA office in London. Sam is tracking a money man who helps terrorists. Lucy calls him while he is in a meeting with an agent from home. He runs out of the building thinking that there is a problem with their unborn child. As he leaves the building, the floors occupied by the CIA explode. Sam sees Lucy in a car and gives chase. He is unable to catch her. Now the CIA believes that Sam and his wife are traitors. After almost a year in captivity, Sam is freed. He gets a job as a bartender and is being watched by the CIA. When he is almost killed, he evades the CIA and sets out to find his wife and child. He joins forces with a mysterious group that is also looking for the terrorist's money man. Sam does not know who to believe and trust. Will he be able to find Lucy and their child? Will he be able to prove to the CIA that he is not a traitor. Great thriller and hopefully the start of a great series.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What We're Reading: Debbie

Work Song by Ivan Doig

This charming story picks up 10 years after the author's "The Whistling Season" ends, in 1919. Morrie Morgan, the teacher from the one-room school house from the previous book, shows up in the copper mining town of Butte, Montana. This time, Morrie gets mixed up with the local labor union's struggles with the Anaconda Mining Co., all while wooing his landlady, working at the public library, and being harassed by Chicago mob goons because of his past. I enjoyed learning about the history of Butte and copper mining, and the multi ethnic based characters of the local miners. Of course, the old-time library setting was really my favorite part of the story! The historical basis of this tale is accurate. There really was an Anaconda company, and the labor issues, and deadly accidents referred to in the story, really happened.

Star Wars Day at the Sterling Heights Library

Over 600 happy fans, young and old, attended our fourth annual Star Wars Day on Saturday, August 13. Characters from the 501st and Rebel Legions, games, and crafts highlighted the event.

Darth Vader helped check out books.

A Sandtrooper posed with a couple of tiny Rebels.

Two young Jedi took a dramatic stance with the Stormtroopers.

A Stormtrooper helped out at the computer.

A tiny Princess Leia and Darth Vader demonstrated lightsaber safety.

One lucky guest had his helmet autographed by Darth Vader!

Darth Vader helped answer the busy library phone lines.