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JUNE 27, 2011
Since the end of the Cold War, the spy novel has been struggling to evolve as a genre. While there are a few secret agents out there still flourishing-Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon is one I can think of-readers don't seem so interested in spying these days. I recently had the pleasure of rewatching the first parts of John LeCarre's masterful A Perfect Spy, dramatized back in 1987 by the BBC, and available on Netflix. I was reminded of the pure pleasure of reading the wonderful book from which it was adapted. LeCarre's creation, Magnus Pym, is indeed perfectly portrayed, along with his con-man father, Rick and the refugee friend whom he betrays, Axel. It may be getting old, but it is still worth a read, if you are missing those golden days of the British spy.
This week I’ll talk about the third series I recommended for the Library “Staff Picks.” The author is Louise Penny and the series is the Three Pines Mysteries featuring Detective Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. The stories take place in Three Pines, a rural village in south Montreal, Canada. Three Pines appears as an idyllic hamlet, rich with vivid details of village life yet, underneath its picturesque exterior, lie danger and murder. The books are well written and the plots and characters well drawn. The mysteries are described as “cerebral” with Kirkus Reviews describing Gamache as a “prodigiously complicated and engaging hero, destined to become one of the classic detectives.”
Whenever a book order comes in I like to open the box. I'm like a little kid at Christmas. You're not sure what's inside & you can't wait to get a look. Here's our latest bunch Linda Castillo-Breaking silence, Joseph Finder-Buried secrets, Jan Burke-Disturbance, Karin Slaughter-Fallen, Elizabeth Adler-From Barcelona with love, Thayer, Nancy-Heatwave, Lars Kepler-Hypnotist, Evanovich, Janet-Smokin' 17, De la Cruz, Melissa-Witches of East End If you see anything you like, come on in. And if you don't see anything you like, come in anyway. We've got lots more to choose from for your summer reading. Ho Ho Ho, O'Blah
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.
The library has kicked off its Annual Fund Drive and Century Club Campaign for 2011. This activity is very important in that it not only helps us to maintain our services to the community, but it also insures that we meet the standard for local effort that the State of Pennsylvania requires in order to give us State Aid to Public Libraries. As you plan the remainder of your charitable giving for the year, please consider the library.Any amount is greatly appreciated, but if you can, a donation of $100 or more qualifies the giver to be part of our Century Club. This fund is used to enhance and expand the library through building repairs, new equipment, and other special projects. We look forward to having you as a member.
Gail Borden Public Library trustees say they can't force embattled colleague Randy Hopp to heed calls to resign. (Melissa Jenco/TribLocal photo)
Gail Borden Public Library trustees on Tuesday said they are powerless to remove one of their own members who has ignored repeated requests for his resignation.
“A number of people in public have the impression that the board is able to vote on whether or not a duly elected official can be thrown off the board,” Trustee Herb Gross said. “And this is not so.”
Gross said he wanted the board to publicly acknowledge its inability to act on the matter.
In recent months there have been calls for the resignation of Trustee Randy Hopp, who has been suspended from the library four times, most recently for his treatment of staff. When attending board meetings, he must be escorted by security.
He also is banned from Elgin Community College and Judson University for his behavior on the college campuses and is facing misdemeanor domestic battery charges stemming from a March incident in which he allegedly struck his elderly parents. He has denied the charges.
For the past several months some residents have called for the embattled trustee to resign, but he has refused.
Executive Director Carole Medal said by law, library trustee can only be removed if he or she fails to pay taxes, is absent for a year, moves out of the district or commits a crime related to the role of trustee.
Hopp has previously denied the allegations against him.
In November when he was suspended for his treatment of library staff, he said he was being denied immediate access to documents he felt he had a right to view.
Hopp said at the time “each trustee has the authority to have access to information and has the cooperation of the employees in access to that information.”
The trustee, who has two years left in his term, did not comment at Tuesday’s meeting.
Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard. Some readers may be familiar with this title from the Steven Spielberg film, which I thought was excellent. When I saw this book show up in the collection (a very welcome donation), I was anxious to read it and see how it compared to the movie. Based on his own personal experiences during World War II, Ballard has created a very memorable novel of war. Jim is an eleven year old boy who is suddenly separated from his parents and on his own in the great Chinese city of Shanghai. The Japanese have taken over, and he is forced to live on sheer nerve, as he moves from the deserted neighborhoods around his home to being placed in the infamous Lunghua Detention Center. The author captures the horror of Jim's situation, but makes us want to stay with him and hope for his survival. Look for this finely written and fascinating story on my shelf of staff recommendations at the library.
This week, I will blog about the second book series I recommended for Library “Staff Picks.” This series is Maisie Dobbs, and to date, there are eight books. Maisie Dobbs was selected as Publisher’s Weekly best mysteries of the year, and it was selected for an Edgar Award. The Maisie Dobbs series opens in 1929 London after Maisie returned from a tour of professional nursing at the Front during World War I. Educated in the field of psychology and having been apprenticed to the respected Scotland Yard and Secret Service agent Maurice Blanche, the Maisie sets out to establish an office for professional investigative inquiries. The books in the series are not the usual run of the mill formula mysteries. Winespear has created well drawn characters, realistic stories that are described as “poignant” and “compelling,” and she vividly depicts the post World War I era without resorting to sentimentality. The New York Times says of Maisie Dobbs, “Prepare to be astonished.”
Missy-librarian posted recently about one of her picks for the staff recommendations display at the library. My picks could be entitled "Oldies but Goodies" this go-around, as I tried to select some favorites of mine that aren't necessarily being read much these days. I once was visiting in England and stopped in a small bookstore in the town of Rye. A little old woman was sitting in the store signing books and she turned out to be Rumer Godden, a popular novelist in the UK and the US back in the 40's. 50's, and 60's. One of her first big hits was Black Narcissus, one of the books on my shelf. Nuns in a remote Himalayan convent feel the effects of the local culture and the relative isolation of their mountain retreat. This beautifully written novel was made into a very successful film-noire Hollywood movie starring Deborah Kerr back in 1947. Although Godden's work may seem a little dated to some readers, I find her stories compelling and her writing some of the best. Check it out on my shelf.
For about a year, the Harry Potter series has been taking a rest on the shelves of the library. Pretty much everybody that wanted to read it had done so, and even last year's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 film hadn't generated much interest. However, in the last couple of months, a whole new generation of readers seems to have rediscovered the wizardly tale, and many of the volumes are now on reserve. Of course, there is a lot more hype recently with the upcoming release of the last film coming in July, but I think it's more significant than that. The series is a classic, and in many years to come, as young children reach the right age to begin, they will find it. If you are an adult, and you haven't read it, you might want to give it a try as well. It contains many of the elements that avid readers look for in a good novel-compelling characters, ingenius plot, and the ability to carry us away to another place.