Staff Choices

Posted by nkimphil2. on 06/28/12
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Author and film maker Nora Ephron passed away on June 26 at the age of 71(see Chicago Tribune tribute).  In her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (2006), Ephron wrote,
“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”
To explore material by Ephron you can find books and movies in our catalog.  A temporary display of her books and movies can also be found by the checkout line at the library.
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/27/12
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As Adam Sandler would say:  "...Not too shabby..."  This best describes this first published novel of  S. J. Watson. 
Shabby, at best, could  also describe the heroine’s memory.  Chris wakes each day with no memory of her past.  For over 20 years, her days begins in a panic.  Where is she?  Who is she? Why can't she remember anything?   Who is the man in bed next to her?
Each dawn, the man in bed next to her patiently explains to Chris that he is Ben, her husband.  He carefully outlines the traumatic past that she has survived and the resulting time-life-loop in which Chris' memory is stuck.  Imagine what this must feel like to experience!  
The lone, good outcome of this daily experience is that it's not like a nagging, horrific nightmare.  She has little or no memories of her past, so each day is news to her.  She discovers through Ben's daily narratives that she has spent a lot a time in hospitals and her prognosis is not good.   Over the years, doctors have not measured much change in her condition. 
One day a doctor contacts her and says that he has been secretly working with Chris for some time and feels that she may one day get better.  He encourages her to start a daily diary, hide it from Ben each night before they sleep, and then the doctor will tell her the next day the hiding place so that Chris can read and more easily assimilate her past.
Since no character in the story is without flaws and trust-worthy, the reader is constantly assessing the exposition and attempting to seek some truth.  Chris might have been in a car accident.  She might have had best friend who is since estranged.  Ben might have once divorced her.  She might have had a son who died in a war.  The list goes on.
This is a difficult book to write, but not that difficult to read.  There is a lot of redundancy that is to be expected since Chris's memory must be reassembled each day like a house of cards.  The final product, this book, withstands any gust of wind.  Looking forward to his next novel.  Watson's webpage can be found here:
Posted by roseh on 06/22/12
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Ah-Kim Chang moves with her mother from China to New York City in the 1990's. Her journey removes her from the life she enjoyed and takes her farther away from the memories of her father who died in China. Ah-Kim becomes Kimberly. A new name marks the beginning of her journey filled with translation, transition, and transformation.
Kimberly and her mother are sponsored by her mother's sister. Aunt Paula tells them they are very lucky to be getting the apartment waiting for them. Promises of a good job and home, however, are soon replaced by the reality of sweatshops and slums.

Kim is a very bright eleven year-old but the language barrier is enormous and she fails miserably at first. In addition to school, she takes on the burden of helping her mother finish her sewing job since they get paid per completed garment. Although this work was illegal, Kim's mother felt nothing could be done except to pay off their debt and move on since her sister, Aunt Paula, was the owner of the sweatshop.

The story continues through the years as Kim navigates through the tween and teen years, and into adulthood.
Girl In Translation is a story of determination, family, relationships, and survival.

This novel is a work of fiction, however, Jean Kwok, the author, shares similarities with Kim. Jean also immigrated to the United States and worked in a sweatshop as a child. See an interview with Jean Kwok:
Posted by kensey on 06/20/12
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In Dan Ariely's new book,  The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty : How We Lie To Everyone - Especially Ourselves, he explores cheating, lies, and human nature by looking at psychology experiments. If you liked the more famous Freakonomics books or those by Malcolm Gladwell, you'll enjoy Dan Ariely, who makes you rethink your "morality" when it comes to cheating and lying - but in a totally entertaining way!
For those of you who shy away from non-fiction, this book (and previous books by the author) is incredibly readable and fun - Ariely is charmingly self-deprecating - and reading him is like hearing stories from an old friend who just happens to be a behavioral economist. If you don't want to commit to reading the entire book, I highly recommened you at least check out Dan Ariely's blog or twitter, where you can get fascinating snippets from the social psychology world in pop form.
Posted by roseh on 06/13/12
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Blending facts and fiction with some chapters devoted to literary dissertation rather than biographical information, Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines A Life is a hybrid of a biography and a narrative.
Drawing from a variety of sources which are noted in the back of the book, Beattie recounts snapshots of Pat Nixon’s life and at the same time interjects her own suppositions, imagining what Pat Nixon might have done or said in a given situation. Beattie notes that her book “is based on research,” but also states, “I imagine dialogue… in some cases, factual events are used only as points of departure.” A brief chronology is included at the end of the book highlighting some of the events in Pat Nixon’s life as well as those of her husband, Richard Nixon.
Beattie is a university professor and has received awards for her short stories. The chapters in Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines A Life are not individual short stories; however, they do stand alone in variety and scope.  For example, chapter one is a list of nicknames; other chapters include examples of literary terms and the author’s opinion about writers.
Reading this book is like looking through a box of photographs and notes rather than reading a chronicled scrapbook or detailed diary. If you are looking for a complete biography about Pat Nixon, this book is not it, but if you would like to read snippets of Pat Nixon’s life intermingled with ‘what-ifs’ read on.
Posted by Pam S on 06/07/12
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Critically acclaimed author Ray Bradbury passed away June 5 at the age of 91.  He authored more than 27 novels and 600 short stories and brought fantasy and science fiction to the mainstream. Nearly everyone has been touched by his writing in some way because of his influence on the science fiction genre.
To explore material by and about Ray Bradbury you can find books and movies in our catalog.  A temporary display of his books and movies can also be found by the checkout line.
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/04/12
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Camilla Lackberg is the best selling mystery author of Sweden.  She has 7 best sellers; to date, only 3 have been translated into English.  This is her latest in her Fjallbacka series.  What is it about Swedish authors that seem to mandate that all their mysteries have at least 20 characters?
True to form, this latest story has several plots with interconnecting characters.  The story begins in the present with Patrik and Erica, the proud parents of newly born Maja.  Erica has all the signs of postpartum depression.  Patrik hasn't a clue since he is immersed in investigating the shocking death of his wife's best friends' 8-year old daughter Sara...found tangled in a fishing net off the coast of Fjallbacka.   
Chapter 2 backs up to 1928 and has Lackberg tangling-in the title character, Anders Anderson, who is an artist with hammer and chisel in hand.  His canvas is Stromstad's quarry's granite.  He is commissioned by the town's most prominent businessman to create a great granite statue.  Agnes, the rich man's spoiled and only daughter has commission plans for Anders of her own.  The story continues to flip-flop back and forth between storylines, building to a dramatic conclusion.
All of Patrik's police cronies are back; each with their own set of hang-ups and emotional baggage.  Anna, the abused wife and younger sister of Erica, continues to plot her (and her children's) escape from her ogre husband Lucas. 
Make no mistake about it, this 500-page book is not an easy read and readers are advised to begin with Lackberg's first two mysteries in the series: The Ice Princess and The Preacher.    The series' central characters continue to develop from book to book.  The last chapter is always the "teaser" foreshadowing what is to come. 
If one enjoys mysteries that are thought-provoking and not formulaic, heroes that are flawed, and romance that endures, this Swedish series is carved in stone. 
Posted by jonf on 06/04/12
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Ben, Chon and their girlfriend Ophelia are living the Dream, spending their days in a mansion in Laguna Beach, together a happy dysfunctional family of sorts.
Ben the Botanist grows the best pot in SoCal and Chon the ex Navy Seal helps distribute and sell it, all along guided by their Muse Ophelia, all is well until they get an offer they can't refuse.
The Baja Cartel wants a cut of the business and make it clear that no is not an option, after some thought they say no and the fun begins.
Chon leads the way with his expertise to turn the tables on the cartel and a scary, violent and sometimes funny high octane ride begins.
Don Winslow-- is one of my favorite writers and he has a winner here.

Check the trailer for the new movie out in July. 
Action, Suspense
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 05/30/12
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Betty and Joseph Weissmann had been happily married for nearly 50 years, or so Betty thought, when Joseph announced that he wanted a divorce to be with his girlfriend, Felicity.  Thus dumped and turned out of her luxurious Manhattan apartment she called home, Betty crash lands in a rundown Westport, Ct. beach cottage, relying on the smothering kindness of Uncle Lou.  To make matters worse, both Betty's daughters run into their own streak of bad luck, and move in with Betty.   Literary agent Miranda must file bankruptcy after it's leaked that some of her authors' steamy memoirs were in fact fiction. And Betty's other daughter, Annie, is so deeply in debt she can no longer afford her apartment. Once they move in with Mom, both girls promptly fall in love—Annie rather awkwardly with the brother of Joseph's lover, and Miranda with a lothario actor quite a bit younger than her. In true Jane Austen style, mischief and mayhem runs regretably over these romantic relationships as the three women figure out how to turn their lives around.

The Three Weissmann's of Westport has been labeled a modern-day homage to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.  It's a very well done read-alike, I might add.  Her characters are engaging, humorous and sad all at the same time.  This book is full of wit and wisdom that will bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eye.

Posted by Uncle Will on 05/25/12
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"Vengeance is mine...sayeth the short story lover."
Lee Child has edited a collection of short stories from noted mystery authors Dennis  LeHane, Alafair Burke, Michael Connelly, Twist Phelan, Zoe Sharp, Jim Fusilli, Rick  McMahan, Anne Swardson, Steve Liskow, Brendan DuBois, Michael Niemann, Karin Slaughter,  Michelle Gagnon, Orest Stelmach, Adam Meyer, Dreda Say Mitchell, Darrell James, C.E.  Lawrence, Janice Law, and Mike Cooper.
Short stories are always a challenge to create for mystery writers.  Stephen King has in the past said that he thinks the successful ones are more difficult to write than the typical novel. There isn't an unsuccessful one in the bunch collected here. 
There is fine supply of twisted plots and complex characters.
"The Unremarkable Heart" I found to be the most controversial; the cleverest one has to be "Even a Blind Man." Lee Child fans will enjoy his dark entry "The Hollywood I Remember."  Make certain to read Child's introduction on how he chose the authors and their works.  It, too, is most enjoyable.

The lengths of all the stories are perfect for that bedtime nightcap to end the day.
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