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Category: New Materials
JANUARY 21, 2012
Now that the bustle of the holiday season is over, I will try to get back to a better schedule for keeping you informed about library news. In the flurry of last minute buying of materials before the end of the year, we added two popular series to our collection of audio books on CD. The first is a very well-done version of Lord of the Rings narrated by Rob Inglis. I just loved going back to this epic story, and then rewatching the fabulous films directed by Peter Jackson. These are also available on DVD at the library. Also new to the collection are all seven of the Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale. His interpretation of the characters is perfect, as he brings to life all the detail of the books which the movies could not supply. Audio books make great listening in your car, as a bedtime treat, or while you clean or cook. Try one of these classics and enjoy a great 'reading' experience!
The Magician King by Lev Grossman. A writer and critic for Time magazine, Grossman has certainly got a way with language. This fantasy for adults has been compared to The Chronicals of Narnia and The Harry Potter Series, and it does deal with themes common to both. Quentin Coldwater, the main character of Grossman's previous novel, The Magicians, returns. He has become a King of Fillory, the imaginary land made real, when Quentin discovered that he had magical powers. But things are beginning to go wrong in Fillory, and needing a change of scene, Quentin sets out on a sea voyage which leads him not only back to Earth, but also to the End of the World. To me, this second installment seemed much more cohesive as a novel. It switches between Quentin's point of view and a flashback to the amazing journey of Julia, a friend from high school who was originally refused admittance to the magic school, Brakebills. Her struggle to find her way in the world of magic without much assistance is interesting and well-conceived. Quentin, however, remains the focus, and we can only hope that he will return for more adventures.
The Greater Journey:Americans in Paris by David McCullough. If you have ever been to Paris, celebrated American historian, David McCullough's latest book will have you wanting to go back, and if you haven't been there, you'll want to go. During the 19th century American painters, sculptors, musicians, aspiring doctors, and statesmen travelled to Paris in droves, seeking inspiration from its fine museums and acclaimed schools. In spite of a very chaotic political climate, Paris had become a center for the very latest ideas and trends in the arts and sciences. McCullough has conjured up a splendid picture of the city through the eyes of these young Americans, but the real stars of the volume are the Americans themselves. Like characters in a novel, their stories are exciting, compelling, and many times, surprising. I lived for three years not ten miles from Cornish, New Hampshire, where American sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, had a home and studio. I never visited it, however, because I had no idea who Saint-Gaudens was, nor of his importance in the art world of his time. McCullough's style of writing is clear and well-organized, very easy to read for history. I especially enjoyed the sections about the young doctors who went to Paris to study. The history of American medicine owes a lot to the French! You might never get to Paris for real, but this book definitely takes you there for free.
Embassytown by China Mieville. Humans on a strange planet in the far distant future have forged a sort of alliance with the indigenous population, called Ariekei. In order to communicate with the creatures, pairs of Ambassadors have to be matched and trained to speak the Ariekei's unusual language. As you may have guessed this is science fiction, but it is also a book which challenges the reader to look at speech, communication, and writing in new ways. Mieville has created a world that takes a few chapters to absorb, but once you're there, the story effectively carries you along, and you find yourself rooting for his compelling heroine Avice to save her planet from destruction. Want something different? This novel is definitely that.
Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell. The sentimental title of this novel is rather deceptive, although Campbell has managed to create a sort of fairy tale world set along an imaginary tributary of the Kalamazoo River in southwestern Michigan. The novel's focus, a teenager named Margo Crane, has grown up with the river as her companion. She is more in touch with its moods than with any of the people around her. A series of family disturbances forces Margo to leave home and search for a new place to center herself. She is determined to live off the land, and as a crack shot with a rifle or a shotgun, that may just be possible. The voice of the narrator, as it speaks from Margo's viewpoint, is filled with the essence of the river and those who live along it. Some critics have compared Margo to Huck Finn, and there are some similarities, but make no mistake, this is a book about modern times, even though the characters sometimes seem as though they are in another world. Campbell has won several awards for her fiction, and I'm sure we'll be hearing more from her.
The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg. I picked this up in error as it is actually the second book in the series, but can easily be read on its own. Lackberg is another in the windfall of Scandinavian crime writers being translated into English these days. While not as cerebral a writer as Nesbo, as bleak as Mankell's Wallander, or as violent as Larsson's Millenium Series, Lackberg's prose is interesting and engaging to read. Her detective, Patrick Hedstrom, is a young policeman, about to become a father in this volume. When three bodies are found in a popular tourist area, Patrick is put in charge of the case, but he is plagued by a heatwave, a family feud, and a bunch of unwanted visitors at home. The translation of this novel seems a bit more straightforward and easier to read than some of the other writers in the genre. Try it, or choose the first in the series, The Ice Princess, also available at the library.
Thanks to a grant from the Schuylkill Area Community Foundation, the library will be expanding its audio book collection. A grant of award of $500 will be used to purchase 19 new audio books on CD with cases. These include favorites like Michael Connelly, James Patterson, and Debbie Macomber. Popular titles such as Twilight, The Kite Runner, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are also included. Audio books add a new dimension to the activity of reading, and a popular with commuters, those with impaired sight, and other who, like me, enjoy the opportunity to listen to a book while driving, walking, or even lying in bed. These new additions should all be ready for borrowing by the end of August.
Nemesis by Jo Nesbo. In this second Harry Hole novel, Harry is caught up in two cases-a bank robbery ending in murder, and the mysterious death of an old girlfriend. Unfortunately, Harry was probably the last person to see the woman alive! As he tries to reconcile his grief for his lost partner, a disturbing period of amnesia, and the pleasures and pains of a new relationship, Harry is once again forced to make his own rules to solve the crimes, much to the dismay of his superiors. These books are like potato chips-you can't read just one! Try them now before they get even more popular, and you'll have to be on the waiting list.
.........The Wood Beyond by Reginald Hill. I read this Dalziel and Pascoe series mystery while I was on vacation. I found it very fitting, as I was in Belgium and in this story Yorkshire policeman Peter Pascoe is taken back in time and place to that very country. After his grandmother's funeral, he finds himself left with the job of distributing her ashes as requested in the will. This task leads him to information about his great-grandfather, a soldier who served in Belgium during the first World War. Hill's mysteries are always complex, and he likes to blend the intricacies of the case with the everyday events in the lives of the detectives. An attack on a research company by a group of animal activists, soon connects with Pascoe's personal research into his family history, You can find this book in paperback at the library, and we also have several other selections in this long-standing detective series.
Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendell. In Rendell's latest psychological thriller, she examines a group of dwellers in a suburban neighborhood. Stuart Font has just inherited a bit of money, and he uses it to buy a flat. He invites his neighbors to a party- a trio of college girls who share a flat, a woman who is trying to drink herself to death, a middle-aged bachelor, and even the building's handyman. The party is soon interrupted, however , by a man with a cudgel, who breaks Stuart's arm and threatens further damage. As the tenants begin to learn more about each other, secrets are revealed which soon lead to more frightening events in the housing complex. Dark and sinister, like all of Rendell's work, this novel deals with a familiar theme-seemingly ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. You can find this and more of her work at the library.
The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo. O'blah mentioned this new author in her post a few weeks ago, and I got a chance to read the first book in the series. Well, it isn't really, but it is the first that's been translated into English from the original Norwegian. Nesbo's detective, Harry Hole, can be compared to many other work-obsessed detectives with lonely, troubled personal lives like Connelly's Harry Bosch or Wingfield's Jack Frost, but the similarities don't make him any less appealing. Nesbo has been acclaimed as the next Stieg Larsson, author of the Millenium Series, but Nesbo is actually a much better writer. The plot of this book is very complex and will definitely keep you guessing, but it is the wonderful characters that capture your attention. The library has five of the Harry Hole series just waiting for you to try.
A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley. This is a very sweet, but quirky little novel with a 'detective' who is only eleven years old. Flavia de Luce lives in a big country house with her father and her two sisters. As the youngest, Flavia comes in for her share of being picked on by her siblings. She manages to overcome it by developing her interests in chemistry and observation of the various local characters. When a Gypsy fortune teller is attacked after the church fete, Flavia immediately begins collecting evidence and asking questions. Bradley, a Canadian writer, has set his story in England some time after the Second World War. It is the second in a series with more to follow. Also, it is a quite small book in size, so easy to carry in a handbag or totebag!
During the month of April we received several new DVD's of films that won big at this year's Academy Awards. These include Best Picture winner The King's Speech, and Black Swan featuring Best Actress winner Natalie Portman. The Fighter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, Inception, and The Social Network all received nominations and some Oscars as well. We are also expecting the new version of True Grit, being released soon. Come check out our collection and watch a movie for free.
In 2003, Khaled Hosseini, an Afghani physician, burst onto the bestseller list with his debut novel, The Kite Runner. Most who read it would probably say it was one of the best books ever. The story of Amir and Hassan, two young boys from different ethnic groups is as much a story of loyalty, betrayal, and forgiveness as it is about Afghanistan. In 2007, a film based on the novel was released, but it never made it big at the box office and has pretty much been forgotten. The library has recently added a copy to our DVD collection, and it is definitely worth a look. The scenery is breathtaking, the characterizations mirror Hosseini's literary creations, and the emotional intensity almost matches the extraordinary novel. If you have read the book, and woud like to revisit the story, or if you prefer a cinematic version to reading the book, give it a try. Please note, however, that much of the film is subtitled.
Bottled and Sold:Our Obsession with Bottled Water by Peter H. Gleick. I first visited California in the mid eighties, and I was amazed to find aisles of bottled water in grocery stores, and vending machines dispensing spring water. I thought this was a West Coast affectation, but in time, of course, it has become a nationwide habit. Gleick is obviously an advocate for drinking from the tap, not the bottle, and he has some very good arguments in his favor. See what he has to say about the safety, cost, and actual benefits of bottled water. You might be surprised. This book was purchased with a grant from the Schuylkill Area Community Foundation.
One of the latest acquisitions to our DVD collection is the Academy Award nominated film The Social Network, directed by David Fincher. The film tells the fascinating story of the creation and controversy surrounding the cultural phenomenon 'facebook'. Begun on college campuses, facebook began with young adults, but its popularity has since spread to all ages, including many baby-boomers. All of the characters involved in the drama are there-computer nerd Mark Zuckerberg, his friend and business partner Eduardo Saverin, the perfect-looking Winklevoss twins, and the somewhat sinister Sean Parker, founder of Napster. Writer Aaron Sorkin, of West Wing fame, and Fincher have turned a somewhat drab, upper crust story into something to which we can all relate. Check it out at your library.
Matched by Ally Condie. Futuristic fiction is all the rage with young readers these days, and this is the beginning of another very well-written series. Cassia Reyes has just turned 17 and is now ready to be Matched. Scientific methods will pair her with the perfect boy with whom she will start a new family. Everything in Cassia's Society is controlled-the work that she will do, the food that she eats, and of course, the man she will marry. As she proceeds through the much anticipated Matching procedure, however, things begin to happen that don't seem right, and soon she finds herself, for the first time in her life, making choices which she knows the Society would not sanction if they knew. This is a great book for teens, but I also enjoyed it as an adult. Condie's next in the series, Crossed, comes out in November, 2011.
Seeing the trailer for the new film, a remake of True Grit, I was reminded of a vivid literary memory. I read the 1968 novel, True Grit, by Charles Portis when it first came out, and have long considered it one of my favorites reading experiences, even though I am not a big fan of the western in general. I was encouraged to pick up this little gem again, and I was not disappointed. It definitely deserves to be considered a classic of its genre. The adventures of Mattie Ross and her protectors, Rooster Cogburn and Ranger LeBoef, serve as a delectable little tidbit of Americana, mixed with true originality on the part of Portis. If you prefer, try the 1969 film version with John Wayne, Kim Darby, and Glen Campbell. Both book and DVD are available for loan at the library. As for the new film just released, I for one can't wait to see it!
All Clear by Connie Willis. Earlier this year Connie Willis's Blackout was published, and reading it was something like watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1-it just left you wanting more! The two novels together tell the story of three historians, time travellers living in the year 2060, who travel back to World War II to experience and study various events taking place in Britain. Their carefully planned adventures quickly go awry, however, when their escape routes become inoperable and they begin to fear that their presence in the past is altering history. Eileen, taking care of evacuee children in the countryside, Polly, working as a shop girl during the London Blitz, and Mike, posing as an American reporter observing the rescue from Dunkirk, are forced to join together in order to save not only themselves, but to insure the proper outcome of the war. Although I must admit I thought the two volume format a bit long, one can not but admire Willis's attention to detail. The trials of the three historians take you to the heart of the action, and the time travel aspect of the book keeps you guessing to the very end of the story. If you like reading about WWII, you will definitely find these two novels worth a read.
The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin. You may know Jeffrey Toobin from CNN. He's the guy they call in when something is happening with a court case. This book deals with what could be considered the most significant court in the land, the Supreme Court. In this book, Toobin describes the activities and personalities of the Rehnquist court, a group of justices who worked together for an unusually long period of time and in very recent years. These were the days of our first women justices, Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It also covers the controversial confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas, and includes fascinating discussions regarding some of the most important issues of the last 30 years such as abortion, gun control, and the infamous Bush v. Gore. Toobin's portraits of the Justices give us the opprotunity to better understand this mostly unknown, but extremely powerful group of individuals, whose decisions influence all of our lives.
The Lion's Game by Nelson DeMille. This book was recommended to me by a library patron, so I squeezed it in between my regular reading by listening to an audio book version. It was read by Boyd Gaines, a really top-notch Broadway actor, and he does a good job with it. DeMille is well known for his fast paced novels of FBI and CIA suspense, and this volume, featuring John Cory, the tough New York cop turned Federal agent was one of his most successful. In it, Cory meets the Lion, a Libyan turned terrorist after his family is killed in a U.S. bombing raid. Cory is one of those rough around the edges guys that women can't help liking in spite of his flaws. In DeMille's latest novel, The Lion, John Cory and the Lion return to meet again. Both of these popular bestsellers are available for loan here at the library.