Staff Choices

Posted by jfreier on 07/11/13
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Michael St. Pierre and his girlfriend K.C. are kidnapped by an off-the-books government team to help steal two pieces of an ancient Chinese puzzle which, of course, means mass destruction if it falls into the hands of an evil Chinese triad.
 
The nice difference in this book compared to many of this genre is that the two protagonists are master thieves instead of killer spies. The writing is better than most of this genre also, and the settings are well drawn and exotic (Granada, Macau, and the Forbidden City). This would appeal to fans of Dan Brown and Steve Berry.
Posted by rkong on 07/10/13
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Raise your hand, or maybe just nod knowingly, if you’ve heard or read about 3-D printers or hackerspaces like the local Pumping Station One. It seems like everyone, including people working in libraries, is talking about the emerging maker culture and getting excited about how it could bring some positive change into the world.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-in-Chief of MAKE magazine, speak about the history of making things and the modern maker movement. He pointed out that in 1900, 80% of Americans were living and working on farms, which means they were makers. This obviously changed as time passed, but now more people are re-discovering the joy and satisfaction of making, building, inventing, prototyping, creating (however you want to say it) something on your own and sharing it with others. Frauenfelder explores this DIY (do-it-yourself) way of life in his book, Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. He talks about his own family’s experience of embracing a new approach to life, one that involved a lot more learning, being self-sufficient, and connecting with your surroundings and others.
 
If you want to slow down your life, simplify things, and get back in touch with your creative side, I highly recommend Made by Hand or MAKE magazine, which can be found in our magazine section near the fireplace. And look for opportunities to get creative in the library, like in Kids’ World during our Summer Reading Program, in the teen Hub, or in the Studio, our new digital media lab!
Nonfiction
Posted by Pam I am on 07/01/13
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Where'd You Go Bernadette is an absolute riot and after I finished reading it, I was sad the book was over and I actually missed the characters. I found myself wishing that I could meet and hang out with Bernandette in real life (Am I the only strange person that feels this way when I read a good book?)
 
Bernadette Fox is a wife and mother living in Seattle who suffers from anxiety and agoraphobia and would be happy to never have to deal face-to-face with anyone ever again.  But, life creeps in and Bernadette has to co-exist with the overachieving moms at her daughter's school and deal with a growing feud with her neighbor.  The tension rises as Bernadette and her family plan a vacation to Antarctica and in the midst of everything Bernadette disappears.  Her daughter, Bee looks into Bernadette's emails, letters and events in an attempt to reconstruct what happened and to find her mother. 
 
Maria Semple's writing style is ingenious and the storey unfolds in a series of emails and  letters that lead up to Bernadette's disappearance.  I promise you will find yourself laughing out loud at this witty and satirical novel about the chaos of motherhood and life.
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/27/13
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It is no surprise that Stephen King is a master at writing short stories and novellas. His latest work, Joyland, is a coming-of-age suspense story about a college student, Devin Jones, who is hired at a privately owned, seasonal amusement park in North Carolina for the summer.
 
Devin Jones is naive, unexperienced (in most worldly matters), and hopelessly in love with a girl who does not share his same feelings. Devin has to make some hard decisions and chooses to be apart from his beloved Wendy Keegan for their summer break.
 
Devin is hired at Joyland as a general go-fer. His big claim to fame is how well he wears the "fur" which is the hound costume that all the greenies must take turns donning to delight the younger amusement park crowd. Devin rents a room from a local lady who helps him make the adjustment to the carny life. Joyland has a cast of characters that only Stephen King can create.  
Devin quickly makes fast friends with two other college students and the three become inseparable. They learn that there was a young girl murdered at Joyland years ago and that the park is supposedly haunted by her ghost. Devin also befriends a dying boy, his beautiful mother and their cute Facebook-worthy dog, Milo, the Jack Russell terrier. 
 
Needless to say, Devin grows up big-time that summer and even has a hand in solving a murder mystery that predates this 1973 storyline. At less than 300 pages and soft-covered, this book should be atop one's list for a beach read this summer. 
 
Posted by amypelman on 06/27/13
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The AHML Teen Department is pleased to present a book review from our Summer Intern, Mary Ellen Podmokly: 
 
First, I have to say that I was not a fan of Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist. I wanted to like it; the novel did receive a Michael L. Printz Honor and I tend to trust award panels. After reading The Monstrumologist I lost my faith. I liken my reading experience of it to a performance of Peter Pan in which the audience has failed to revive Tinker Bell. You can therefore understand how my initial attitude towards the hype surrounding Yancey’s The 5th Wave was scornful.
 
I also have to mention that I am a scaredy-cat. While I can read about the horrors of war the only kind of aliens I want to encounter are of the E.T. variety. Even E.T. freaked me out until his big eyes won me over. The aliens of The 5th Wave aren’t cute. Their plan is to eradicate humankind and stay. Yancey warns in the first pages of the book: “ALIENS ARE STUPID. I’m not talking about real aliens. The Others aren’t stupid. The Others are so far ahead of us, it’s like comparing the dumbest human to the smartest dog. No contest. No, I’m talking about the aliens inside our own heads. The ones we made up…You know, the aliens we imagine, the kind of aliens we’d like to attack us, human aliens…There’s no way to know for sure, but I bet the Others knew about the human aliens we’d imagined. And I bet they thought it was funny as hell. They must have laughed their asses off. If they have a sense of humor…or asses. They must have laughed the way we laugh when a dog does something totally cute and dorky. Oh, those cute, dorky humans! They think we think like they do! Isn’t that adorable? Forget about flying saucers and little green men and giant mechanical spiders spitting out death rays. Forget about epic battles with tanks and fighter jets and the final victory of us scrappy, unbroken, intrepid humans over the bug-eyed swarm…The truth is, once they found us, we were toast.”  Neil Diamond’s “Heartlight” is the furthest thing from your mind when you come to grips with Yancey’s premise that people are finally prey and not predators.
 
I enjoyed The 5th Wave despite my initial misgivings and trepidation. Maybe “enjoy” isn’t quite the right word though. The book is about bare survival after the first four waves of an alien engendered apocalypse. This is a world in which truly horrible things have happened. Life for protagonists Cassie and Ben is grim. Their sense of security, control, and innocence has been lost along with their families. They know more about the reality of being killed and being killers than any teenager should have to understand. And the terrible anticipation of the inevitable fifth wave is enough to drive the most mentally sound individual crazy. 
 
The only thing keeping Cassie sane is the search for her little brother Sam, who was taken away in a busload of children. When she meets Evan after an alien “Silencer” tries to kill her she knows she should question his story. But she’s tired of being alone on her bleak quest.
 
The only thing keeping Ben alive, tortured as he is by memories of leaving his little sister to die, is his desire for vengeance. And a promise to a little boy named Nugget.
 
Riveting twists and turns in the plot allow Cassie’s and Ben’s storylines to converge in a thrilling, if not satisfying (after all there has to be room for a sequel), end. Both teenagers and adults will find themselves sucked into this David versus Goliath story.
 
 
Posted by Ultra Violet on 06/17/13
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Attention fans of BBC America's Supernatural Saturday! Coming in 2014 is a new series based on the historical fantasy novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
 
If you haven't read it, now's your chance. It's 782 pages, so you may want to start now. Two magicians are bringing magic back to England with their skills and knowledge of long forgotten lore. As the Napoleonic Wars rage on, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell find themselves pitted against a deliciously crafty fairy.
 
Fans of dark fairy tales and historical fantasy will enjoy this beautifully crafted story.
Posted by jfreier on 06/14/13
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Damascus Countdown is the author's sequel to Tehran Initiative featuring covert op David Shirazi an American-born Iranian as deep cover op stationed in Iran.
 
In this sequel, David is contacted by his handlers to deal with a crisis started by an Iranian leader who has proclaimed himself to be the Twelfth Imam and is planning to use his six nuclear bombs to destroy Israel and start the end times. Israeli security forces get wind of the plans and strike Iranian sites destroying all their sites.  But, two warheads are saved and headed to Damascus to be launched at Israel, and it's up to Sharazi to stop the attack.  This is a timely and fast-paced thriller.
Posted by dnapravn on 06/13/13
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I’ve been a fan of Kent Haruf’s novels since Plainsong came out in 1999. His newest novel, Benediction, is written in his sparse, hauntingly beautiful style and does not disappoint.
 
Like his other novels, Benediction is set on the high plains of eastern Colorado in the fictional town of Holt. Seventy-seven year old hardware store owner “Dad” Lewis has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. As his wife, Mary, and daughter, Lorraine, work to make his last days as comfortable as possible, we become witness to what Dad treasures most in life. We learn of his secrets as well as meet the members of his community who rally around both Dad and his family.
 
This is a beautifully written book about a man’s last days. Beyond that though, it is a book about love and regret and the ties that bind us together. If you have never read a Kent Haruf novel, I urge you to give one a try.
 
Posted by rkong on 06/12/13
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Well, Chicago is once again abuzz with the prospect of another major sports championship, and I find myself looking back on our past champions. I just finished Phil Jackson’s recently published memoir, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, and I highly recommend it for anyone who witnessed the Jordan years and Jackson’s six championships with the Chicago Bulls.
 
Phil (we’re all on first name basis with him, right?) goes into great detail about his upbringing as the son of two ministers in Montana and also his own NBA playing career with the Knicks. But the best parts are when he discusses applying a number of psychological and spiritual approaches to the locker room dynamics of those Bulls teams. Anyone who has ever played or coached a sport will appreciate the challenges Phil faced with bringing Michael, Scottie, and other players together as one unit. Highlights include the time Michael fought Steve Kerr, not exactly the toughest guy on that team, during a heated practice and the way Phil handled the enigma that is Dennis Rodman.

Give Eleven Rings a chance if you’re a sports fan or even interested in leadership, psychology, or spirituality. And, yes, it is perfectly permissible and expected for Chicago fans to skip over the sections Phil talks about his time with Kobe, Shaq, and the rest of the Lakers. We all know his best years were with Chicago!
Posted by Pam I am on 06/02/13
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It has been six years since the release of Khaled Hosseini's best sellers A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) and The Kite Runner (2003) and many fans, including myself, have awaited his next novel.  Hosseini's new release, And the Mountains Echoed is a compelling story about love, loss, family and acceptance. I confess that I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. engrossed in this epic novel that spans generations and countries from Afghanistan to the United States.
 
The book unfolds in a way that feels like a variety of short stories with multiple characters. At times it can be a little confusing, but in the end the author weaves all the different stories together. In this clip, Khaled Hosseini talks about the many themes of the novel and his inspiration for writing the book.
 
This book will make you think about how a single act or event can reverberate or "echo" for generations to come. If you have read Hosseini's previous books or you are looking for a new thought-provoking novel, this is a great choice.
 

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