The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout is more than the story of a dysfunctional family, it also deals with religion, race and cultural issues in a small town in Maine after a large number of refugees from Somalia relocate there.
As the premiere of Downton Abbey's greatly anticipated third season has come and gone (if you’re new to the series, click here to place a hold on season 1), Downton-ites the world over have been yearning for further insight into the Edwardian era history and characters popularized by the PBS Masterpiece Classic/ITV drama. Whether you are seeking more information on the program itself or hoping to find a Downton-like storyline to tide you over until the next episode airs, we encourage you to view our list of Downton Abbey Recommendations.
I spent an hour of my afternoon unpacking and cataloging a box of brand new books for the library (love that new book smell!) and I came across Children of the Night by Dan Simmons. I was immediately intrigued because I absolutely loved his 2009 novel Drood. It scared the daylights out of me and I've always meant to read more of his novels.
We have two new copies and they will be out on our New Book Shelves just as soon as I ge them labeled. Oh, you can place your hold here.
Grant Peterson is out to make bicyclists un-racers. In his new book Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike, Peterson contends that people are copying bike racers (a la the Tour de France) and that by focusing on speed, distance, tight racing clothing and many geared bikes they are missing the most important thing about bicycling: having fun!
In 89 short "chapters", Peterson dispels myths like cycling is a great way to lose weight, carbs are the best fuel and a blinking light on the back of your bike will keep you safe.
He also gives some good hints about safety, bike upkeep and riding techniques.
It's almost like the author is the child in The Emperor's New Clothes who is pointing out that what we've been led to believe is important about bicycling is all wrong. I think he's right!
And speaking of children, Peterson tells us that "Kids are the ultimate unracers, and the best models for the rest of us."
So, what are you waiting for? Get out your old, comfortable bike, put on some comfortable clothes, and just ride!
First - You don't really need me to tell you about this book because this book is everywhere. EW has plugged it several times, it is burning up everyone's "to read" lists on goodreads.com, and already, 27 ELPL patrons have placed holds on it (don't worry, more copies are on the way). But if you don't yet know about this book, place your hold right now. If you want a smart, character driven summer thriller and don't mind staring down the barrel of a really, really twisted love story, this book is your dream come true.
Second - Flynn does an amazing job of creating two wonderfully real and beguiling characters, at least one of which will scare the living daylights out of you. I very much want to read her earlier stuff to see if her other characters are as well fleshed out and vivid.
Third - Flynn's writing is skilled enough that this reads like a novel, not a screenplay, but I can completely see this adapted to the screen. Flynn sold the film rights to Dark Places, her 2009 novel, and I'm excited to see what Gilles Paquet-Brenner does with the screenplay.
I have to admit, before picking up this book, I had never really read Lawson's Blog. I read hundreds of blogs each week and have been trying (unsuccessfully) to limit the time spent on them. Seriously, it can become an addiction if you let it.
That being said, the cover of the book intrigued me (see: taxidermied rat) and the reviews were good. I was on vacation, just finished all three Fifty Shades books in one day and needed (wanted!) to read something completely different. So, enter Lawson's book.
Verdict: hilarious and oddly touching. The underlying theme is that those moments that humiliate us and make us seem "weird" and embarrassed are also the ones that make us who we are and that's a good thing. While I really enjoyed this book it should probably be avoided if you have an aversion to swearing (because there is a LOT of it), gross out situations and mild oversharing.
If you look at the list of top ten most requested titles here at ELPL you'll notice that number one on the list is a book by E.L. James called Fifty Shades of Grey. As of this evening there are 33 holds on this title. And as long as you haven't been living under a rock, you probably know that Fifty Shades of Grey is the first book in the Fifty Shades trilogy, and is in fact that book that everyone has been talking about. Ellen. Barbara. Dr. Oz. Maureen Dowd. Your neighbors. Your co-workers. Your mother-in-law. It is everywhere.
So, really, why has this series of books so captured the attention of American women and subsequently, the national media and publishing industry? Well, quite simply, because it is that kind of book.
The Fifty Shades books are at heart romance novels, but the love scenes (and yes, there are a LOT of them) incorporate many components of BDSM relationships, bondage, and other activities that most traditional romance novels don't touch.
Because of the subject matter there are, of course, many different opinions on whether or not these books are "good" for women, and whether or not they should be read by anyone at all. There are some libraries out there that have decided not to purchase the book or discard the copies they already own, and then there are libraries like ELPL and CADL that can't keep up with demand. And, of course, there are the millions of women, and men, that have read the books and loved them.
There is no lack of talking points when it comes to these books. But do you know why these books are really fascinating to those of us who work in libraries? The Fifty Shades series is remarkable because its popularity is exploding at a time when all the rules that govern the intersection between publishers, readers and libraries are fundamentally changing. Here's some points that Dr. Oz and Maureen Dowd don't mention at all, and that, if you are a person who values libraries, you should care about:
1. Self publishing/online publishing/independent presses - The Fifty shades trilogy started out as Twilight fanfiction written as a hobby by E.L. James and posted online. As she received feedback from other Twilight readers and continued to expand the plot James eventually pulled the stories from the fanfiction sites and officially published them as an eBook and print on demand paperback with The Writer's Coffee Shop, a virtual publisher in Australia. Word of mouth spread sales far and wide and after the third book of the trilogy was released in January 2012 the series was so popular that it was picked up by Vintage Books. James' explosive success is only one of the many examples of self-published works that have exploded on the web and are now changing and dominating the world of traditional publishing. Another example is Wool by Hugh C. Howey which has been picked up by Century, a division of Random House. The movie rights to Wool have also been sold to Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian who are teaming up with 20th Century Fox to bring the post-apoloptic tale to the big screen (the movie rights to Fifty Shades have also been purchased). Libraries are often one of the players responsible for exposing readers to great stories from small presses and self-published authors. The web makes this easier for us to do and means more great books, in any format, in the hands of readers.
In honor of National Bundt Day, our Director tried a new bundt cake recipe from "Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood" which is available in our library. The bundt is a fresh apple cake. It is a nice bundt cake for the fall and holiday season.
Be sure to check out this book and other great cook books at the East Lansing Public Library. The call number area is 641.
We all know about the Newbery and Caldecott and (I hope) the Printz awards. Another award I respect is the Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards. An honor book this year is Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke… so I looked it up to read it.
For some reason I thought it was about a girl growing up in Hawaii. I guess it was the “hibiscus “ in the title (talk about stereotyping!). But Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa. These two sentences are the start of every chapter, and the 4 books in this series are amazing books.
It’s unusual because I think there are few books for beginning chapter book readers that take place in other countries, and none that I can think of in Africa. By getting to know Anna, readers take a look at our own American culture through her eyes, and see that there are many ways to live in our world.
Anna lives with her big, extended, loving family in a compound in the middle of a city ( the country is never named).
In the four books, Anna learns about others in her city who are not as privileged as she is, is surprised that her Canadian mother grew up in a house with only her mother and father and her own room,(how lonely!), overcomes stage fright when she is asked to sing in front of the president of her country, and visits her grandmother in Canada and sees snow.
The author, Atinuke, is a storyteller, and the tales do have a kind of rhythm to them. They would be great to read aloud. More stories from Amazing Africa, please, Atinuke!
Wonderstruck is aptly named. I was "wonderstruck" by the beauty of the illustrations and moved by the story.
Brian Selznick is the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which won the Caldecott Medal for its use of illustrations integrated with text to tell a story.
In Wonderstruck, Selznick experiments with using two stories – one written in text and one using only illustrations. The stories are about a boy and a girl who live 50 years apart – Rose in 1927 and Ben in 1977. These stories come together, but the mystery of how that would happen kept me turning the pages. I also really enjoyed the way the Museum of Natural History in New York City plays an important role in the story.
This book would make a wonderful gift for anyone. I’d wrap it up along with E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and give it to all the children I know.
Kat, Incorrigible is by East Lansing native Stephanie Burgis, and it is a treat. Twelve year old Kat is determined to stop her older sister from marrying the (much) older Sir Neville. But when you're the youngest girl in the family, no one takes you seriously. Kat uses some of the forbidden magic she has inherited from her deceased mother, and the results are funny, suspenseful and romantic! I am really looking forward to the next in the series, which will be published next year. This book was just voted best British debut children's novel of the year by 9- to 11-year-olds in Waverton and Chester in the UK! And to think it was written by a native daughter! Way to go, Stephanie!
I love time travel books. And a new one by Kerstin Gier is a fun read about a reluctant traveler.
Gwyneth is 16 years old and lives in London with her extended, and slightly strange, family. Everyone knows that a time travel gene runs in the family, but they already know that Gwen's cousin Charlotte is the one who inherited that gene - or is she? Suddenly Gwen is having dizzy spells, and waking up in strange places in a much different London. This creates some conflict in the family - Charlotte is the one who has been groomed for this and is not happy that ordinary Gwen gets to go through time instead of her. Gwen herself would be just as happy to let Charlotte do the traveling - until she meets Gideon, who is also a time traveler and very good looking…..
It’s clear that there are many mysteries going on – things that Gwen’s family never quite tell her before she and Gideon are whisked back where they meet with an evil count, a man who comes from Transylvania, and Gwen’s great-great- grandmother.
It’s a good thing Gwen has her best friend Lesley, who waits for Gwen’s phone call when Gwen is back in her own time. After Gwen tells her all that happens, Lesley googles names and places to try to help Gwen figure out what’s going on. Lesley is the friend you want to have if you are time traveling!
The only frustrating thing about this book is that it’s the first of a trilogy, with the second part to be published in 2012. Does anyone write a stand-along novel anymore? And do any of you hate to wait for the rest of a series to come out? I usually have forgotten things by the time the subsequent volumes come out, and often don’t read the rest, since I'm on to something else. But I may have to re-read this one when Sapphire Blue comes out. Gwen is too much fun to just leave hanging.