Staff Choices

Posted by bweiner on 04/15/15
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With reality shows dominating the television landscape, Arts & Entertainments by Christopher Beha is a well-timed novel that examines our obsession with fame and our desire to find the extraordinary in ordinary circumstances.
 
We first meet Eddie Hartley, the drama teacher at a boy’s prep school in New York City. Eddie once dreamed of making it big as an actor, but his minimal success determined his fate as an educator. He and his wife Susan are in need of money to support their attempt at in vitro fertilization after having no success with pregnancy, so Eddie resorts to selling a sex tape of him and his ex-girlfriend Martha, who is now a successful television star.  The tape goes viral, the wife and ex-girlfriend bond as exploited women, and a new reality show is born.
 
Eddie finally gets the fame he has been chasing, but at what cost?  Are reality shows responsible for creating frenzy, or do we generate their success with our overwhelming passion and response to them? Christopher Beha has written a spectacular novel that will thrill us with its hilarity while challenging our conceptions concerning the genesis of reality television. If you watch these shows or not, this is not one to miss!
 
satire
Posted by Kelley M on 04/06/15
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Every time Michelle Moran releases a new book, I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Her latest book, Rebel Queen, did not disappoint. She has previously written historical fiction books about Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Cleopatra’s Daughter, Napoleon’s wife, and Madame Tussaud. Her newest book takes us to a whole different land and era. Rebel Queen tells the story of one of the most famous women of all time in India, Queen Lakshmi (India’s Joan of Arc) and the brave women soldiers (the Durgavasi) who protected her. The story is told from the point of view of Sita, one of Queen Lakshmi’s Durgavasi soldiers. Also interesting was learning more about the lives of women in purdah (the practice among women in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of living in seclusion by means of concealing clothing and the use of high-walled enclosures, screens, and curtains within the home).
 
I have always been of the philosophy that, if a novel of historical fiction is written the right way, it should entice me to further research the era highlighted in the book. Rebel Queen fits this theory. I found the first part of the book to be slow, but steady. The action and plot really picked up towards the last third of the book. It was definitely a read worth finishing. I can’t wait to see what female heroine the author chooses to write about next.
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/02/15
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Looking for a new author?  Tony Schumacher's first book, The Darkest Hour, is one of the most impressive first-time author's novels that I read all year.  
 
The setting is London, 1946. The war is over. Unfortunately, the Germans won. John Henry Rossett was crowned by his king as "The British Lion" for his heroics during the war. He's a broken police detective with a tragic past. Rossett lost his wife and son to a terrorist bombing during the war. He's hired by the occupying forces to hunt Jews, place them on trains, and send them to France.  What happens to his captives is not his concern.  
 
What is concerning is that Rossett's no better than a machine . . . a tool. He does only what he's told.  He has no idea that he's being used for SS propaganda by his country's sworn enemy. What's worse is that Rossett could care less. It doesn't matter that he has no respect from his fellow Englanders. He has even less from the puppet masters that pull his strings. He's dead inside.
 
Then one day, for no apparent reason, Rossett rises from the dead. He finds a young Jewish boy hidden in an apartment wall and slowly starts his path to redemption.  
 
I couldn't put this book down. It's the fastest 400-page read for me in a long time; the beginning of a series that will rival Philip Kerr, has been born.   
 
 
Posted by jkadus on 04/01/15
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To celebrate April Fool’s Day, I thought it might be fun (pun intended) to learn about the lives of some of the ladies and men who had make us snicker, laugh, and even guffaw throughout the years.   Who knows, after reading one of these, YOU may be inspired to release your inner comedian!  Enjoy!
 
Posted by Trixie on 03/30/15
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"I start to run, start to turn into air, the blue careening off the sky, careening after me, as I sink into green, shades and shades of it, blending and spinning into yellow, freaking yellow, then head-on colliding in the punk-hair purple of lupine: everywhere. I vacuum it in, all of it, in, in – (SELF-PORTRAIT: Boy Detonates Grenade of Awesome) – getting happy now, the gulpy, out-of-breath kind that makes you feel you have a thousand lives crammed inside your measly one…"
 
I'll Give You the Sun gif
 
I absolutely adored this book! It’s beautifully written and had me laughing, crying, and completely giddy. I raced through it like light speeding through the universe.
 
(SELF-PORTRAIT: Teen Librarian Squealing with Delight)
 
Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun is about twins Noah and Jude. Like most twins, they are incredibly close; they have an uncanny ability to know what the other is thinking and can finish each other’s sentences. Noah is an eccentric artist. He’s constantly drawing or painting, sometimes just in his head. Jude is a gregarious daredevil. She loves surfing and makes friends easily. The story begins when the twins are thirteen, a time when they’re experiencing change and exploring life. It continues through sixteen when they’ve seemingly switched roles. They’re coming to terms with the heartbreak they’ve felt due to tragedy and loss, tentatively living their lives and trying to rebuild.
 
The novel shifts between Noah’s and Jude’s perspectives alternating from early to later years. The voices and viewpoints juxtaposed plainly shows that neither character has the whole story. Throughout Noah’s narration, his artist mind is evident: he’s constantly imagining his surroundings in colors and relays how he’d describe the moment on canvas or paper and what he’d name it. Jude’s are filled with quirky wives’ tales and superstition.
 
Nelson’s writing is lyrical and expressive. The characters and imagery jump off the page. The characters’ confusion, heartache, and elation are felt through description. Nelson weaves a vivid tale of life, loss, and love intertwined with a message about self-identity and being true to yourself.
 
This is a must-read for romantics, artists, inspiration seekers, and lovers of words!
 
Posted by jfreier on 03/26/15
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 A moving story of nine members of the U of Washington rowing team who overcame many obstacles and challenges to compete for America in the 1936 Olympics. The story is told through the eyes of Joe Rantz a poor young man who was orphaned twice and must manage to make the team , pay for college and feed and cloth himself all during depression era America. The rowing team is led by an enigmatic coach Al Ulbrickson and Tom Bolles, and has it's boats built by the fascinating English boatmaker George Pocock.
Daniel James Brown alternates the story of the rowing teams struggles and the challenge of beating U of California and the elite east coast teams, Harvard. Princeton, Navy and others with the narrative of Nazi Germany setting the stage for the Olympics. The descriptions of how Hitler, Goebbels and his architects passion to show the world how modern and beautiful Germany is adds a great contrast to the depression and dust bowl America.
A well written and inspiring and moving book, good for all ages and both men and woman.
Posted by bweiner on 03/22/15
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Travel to the distant future in Time To Expire, a world where technology and scientific discovery have eliminated disease and lengthened the duration of human life. The decrease in mortality has also minimized other damaging aspects of society, weakening their destructive effects in this new world.
 
Who becomes the savior of civilization?  The answer is LifeSpan, a technology company responsible for the dramatic turn of events. In addition to the eradication of disease, the company is able to pinpoint the exact time of death for all people and facilitate their exit from the world. Families are able to anticipate the death of their loved ones and be present as they spend their last moments on Earth.
 
We follow Cole, who has taken a job with a bright future at LifeSpan. His security is threatened by an underground movement that challenges the ethics of  LifeSpan’s authority.  Should they exercise such power over human existence? Does knowing make it easier to let someone go?
 
In his debut novel, Chris Ramos treats these questions with the respect and attentiveness they deserve. His characters are authentic; his action is crisp and complete. I am eager to see where this outstanding new author will take us next.
 
Posted by lsears on 03/17/15
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Growing up in a dysfunctional family caused author Andie Mitchell to have a dysfunctional relationship with food. Out of necessity her mother worked multiple jobs to try to keep up with expenses while her father spiraled downward into depression and alcoholism. Often left alone after school, food became a babysitter, a substitute for her parents; eating became an activity to keep her company and it became a problem.
 
During a college semester studying in Italy, Andie recognized she needed to change and she allowed herself to begin taking steps to become healthy. By the time she returned she had learned to cook and had lost a noticeable amount of weight. Realizing that this alone would not fix her, she had to address other issues and relationships that complicated her life.
 
What I liked about this memoir is that it is a success story and not just about weight loss. It is about one woman who took responsibility and took action to overcome something that affected her profoundly. Certain aspects of her life must have been very painful for her to share but it must also have been necessary so that she could heal and move forward.  So much so that she created a popular blog about her experience, to share recipes and to talk about body image. She also has spoken at an independently organized TEDx (Technology, Entertainment and Design) talk event at Claremont Colleges consortium in California to help motivate others.
 
Posted by Ultra Violet on 03/10/15
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Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade, The Buried Giant is a magical tale about memory, forgiveness and isolation. This is a fantasy story, but it is fantasy in the highest literary sense. The magical creatures and sense of otherworldliness serves to strengthen the very real issues Ishiguro addresses.
 
After devastating war, Britain has settled into a peaceful era, but at the cost of something very dear. A fog hangs over the country which robs the inhabitants of their long-term memories.  An old couple, Axl and Beatrice, suddenly remember that they have a son. They can’t remember his name or where he lives or even why he left, but they are determined to search for him.
 
Their strange, difficult journey tests their love and devotion to each other. Ishiguro’s masterful writing gives the reader the sense of soporific confusion that the people in the story are experiencing. But that is not to say it is an unpleasant read. At the heart of it, this story calls into question how long we should remember the anger and pain of war and loss. At what point do we forgive without reserve? If we could forget wars, whether national or personal, would we want to?
 
Ishiguro is also known for the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day.
 
Posted by Kelley M on 03/05/15
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I can honestly say that when my husband recommended this audiobook lecture series, Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are, I rolled my eyes, stating that it would be great to use to fall asleep at night.  But, knowing I will soon be traveling overseas, I decided to give the lecture series a try.  I am so glad that I did.  If everyone had to read something like this in school, we might have a better understanding of everyone around us. 
 
Did you know most businesses in Denmark are closed the entire month of July?  How about that you should be punctual in Germany or you might be considered rude?  When in China, if you are at someone's home and eat something unpalatable, you're best to eat it anyway.  When in the Middle East, you may not want to offer your left hand to anyone, for anything.  When in Africa, it is best to make small talk and ask about the health and well-being of one's family before jumping into talk about business.  It's amazing how much smoother the world would work if we knew all these little nuances.
 
The author, Professor David Livermore, has written nine books on the topics of cultural intelligence and global leadership.  The lectures are divided into 30 minutes each, which I found to be just long enough to be informative, but not boring. 
Want recommendations on what to read next? Email advisory@ahml.info and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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