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Friday, December 15, 2017

Meet the Staff: Cassandra M.

How long have you worked at the library? 
I’ve been happily working at the library since August. Before that, I just came here multiple times a week on my own time.  

How many items do you have checked out right now? I have 39 items checked out at the moment, which may seem like a lot, but my kids are avid readers AND they’re homeschooled so we rely on the library system quite a bit.

How many items are on your hold list? Surprisingly, none at the moment. I’m not sure how that happened…

What is your perfect reading environment?
My perfect reading environment is either sitting outside on a pretty day or snuggled on my favorite oversized reading chair with a cup of hot tea.  
If you were a literary character, who would you be and why? If I were a literary character, I would obviously be Hestia Jones because Harry Potter is relatable to every aspect of my life. However, I’d really like to be Kahlan Amnell from the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. She is the coolest.  
What aspects of the library do you think are underutilized? Honestly, I think the entire library is underutilized! I’m always surprised that in a town of 25,000 people we aren’t all squished in here like sardines trying desperately to make our way to the circulation desk to check out our cool finds.

What is your favorite book format (book, audio, mp3, e-reader, etc.)? I definitely prefer tangible books I can hold in my hands, carry in my bag, and place on my bookshelves.  
If you were stranded on a desert island, what single genre of books would you want with you? Spiritual readings because I definitely wouldn’t survive on a desert island for very long and they would provide me some comfort before I lost consciousness.

What was your favorite children’s book when you were a child? What is your favorite children’s book now? I remember really enjoying Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle as a young person. I actually think I love children’s books way more now as an adult than I ever did as a child! Some of my favorite children’s books as an adult are The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris, Greenling by Levi Pinfold, The Quilt Maker’s Gift and The Quilt Maker’s Journey by Jeff Brumbeau, The Elephant Wish by Lou Berger, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and anything and everything by Todd Parr.

Before you worked here, what was your worst library transgression? My toddler damaged a book and I had to pay for it! I had checked out The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and, after reading it, I decided to declutter my very large book selection. As suggested by Marie, I pulled out every single book I owned and placed them all in a pile on the floor to sort through them. As I was going through all of the books, however, I looked over see my toddler feverously scribbling all over the one library book in the room full of at least 100 other books. Go figure. I was so embarrassed to take the book back to the library and confess what had happened! I was pleasantly surprised, though, when I realized I was allowed to keep the scribbled-on book after I paid for it. It’s at home on my bookshelf right now. I like that I can now smile about the situation every time I notice the book sitting up there. 

What book can you read again and again without losing interest? Why do you still read it? I have a select few books that I can read again and again without losing interest and they’ve all earned coveted places on my bookshelf at home. The list includes The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. All of these books feel familiar and homey to me so I like to revisit them from time to time.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

You CAN handle the Truth: December Nonfiction Book Picks

 Posted by the Information Services Department (Gwen B., Lisa E., Joyce D., & Zach H.)

Here's the latest list of our new nonfiction book picks! Listed below, along with their Dewey Decimal classification, are our top picks of the nonfiction books that looked most interesting, ultra-informative, or just plain fun. You can request them now by clicking on the titles and placing a hold.

302.30285 ELE The Selfie Generation: How Our Self-Images Are Changing Our Notions of Privacy, Sex, Consent, and Culture by Alicia Eler
Whether it's Kim Kardashian uploading picture after picture to Instagram or your roommate posting a mid-vacation shot to Facebook, selfies receive mixed reactions. But are selfies more than, as many critics lament, a symptom of a self-absorbed generation?

Millennial Alicia Eler's The Selfie Generation is the first book to delve fully into this ubiquitous and much-maligned part of social media, including why people take them in the first place and the ways they can change how we see ourselves. Eler argues that selfies are just one facet of how we can use digital media to create a personal brand in the modern age. More than just a picture, they are an important part of how we live today.

364.1317092 ELN American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury
It's no secret that federal agencies are waging a broad, global war against terror. But for the first time in this memoir, an active Muslim American federal agent reveals his experience infiltrating and bringing down a terror cell in North America.

A longtime undercover agent, Tamer Elnoury joined an elite counterterrorism unit after September 11. Its express purpose is to gain the trust of terrorists whose goals are to take out as many Americans in as public and as devastating a way possible. It's a furious race against the clock for Tamer and his unit to stop them before they can implement their plans. Yet as new as this war still is, the techniques are as old as time: listen, record, and prove terrorist intent.

508 GOO How to Read Nature: Awaken Your Senses to the Outdoors You've Never Noticed
by Tristan Gooley
When most of us go for a walk, a single sense—sight—tends to dominate our experience. But when New York Times–bestselling author and expert navigator Tristan Gooley goes for a walk, he uses all five senses to “read” everything nature has to offer. A single lowly weed can serve as his compass, calendar, clock, and even pharmacist.

In How to Read Nature, Gooley introduces readers to his world—where the sky, sea, and land teem with marvels. Plus, he shares 15 exercises to sharpen all of your senses. Soon you’ll be making your own discoveries, every time you step outside!


551.458 GOO The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell
What if Atlantis wasn't a myth, but an early precursor to a new age of great flooding? Across the globe, scientists and civilians alike are noticing rapidly rising sea levels, and higher and higher tides pushing more water directly into the places we live, from our most vibrant, historic cities to our last remaining traditional coastal villages. With each crack in the great ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctica, and each tick upwards of Earth's thermometer, we are moving closer to the brink of broad disaster.

By century's end, hundreds of millions of people will be retreating from the world's shores as our coasts become inundated and our landscapes transformed. From island nations to the world's major cities, coastal regions will disappear. Engineering projects to hold back the water are bold and may buy some time. Yet despite international efforts and tireless research, there is no permanent solution-no barriers to erect or walls to build-that will protect us in the end from the drowning of the world as we know it.

601.12 WEI Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith
What will the world of tomorrow be like? How does progress happen? And why do we not have a lunar colony already? What is the hold-up?

In this smart and funny book, celebrated cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and noted researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith give us a snapshot of what's coming next -- from robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters. By weaving their own research, interviews with the scientists who are making these advances happen, and Zach's trademark comics, the Weinersmiths investigate why these technologies are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way.

616.8311 JEB In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer's by Joseph Jebelli
Alzheimer's is the great global epidemic of our time, affecting millions worldwide -- there are more than 5 million people diagnosed in the US alone. And as our population ages, scientists are working against the clock to find a cure.

Neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli is among them. His beloved grandfather had Alzheimer's and now he's written the book he needed then -- a very human history of this frightening disease. But In Pursuit of Memory is also a thrilling scientific detective story that takes you behind the headlines. Jebelli's quest takes us from nineteenth-century Germany and post-war England, to the jungles of Papua New Guinea and the technological proving grounds of Japan; through America, India, China, Iceland, Sweden, and Colombia. Its heroes are scientists from around the world -- many of whom he's worked with -- and the brave patients and families who have changed the way that researchers think about the disease.

B FEUCHTWANGER Hitler, My Neighbor: Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939
by Edgar Feuchtawanger
Edgar Feuchtwanger came from a prominent German-Jewish family--the only son of a respected editor and the nephew of a best-selling author, Lion Feuchtwanger. He was a carefree five-year-old, pampered by his parents and his nanny, when Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party, moved into the building opposite theirs in Munich.

In 1933 the joy of this untroubled life was shattered. Hitler had been named Chancellor. Edgar's parents, stripped of their rights as citizens, tried to protect him from increasingly degrading realities. In class, his teacher had him draw swastikas, and his schoolmates joined the Hitler Youth.

Watching events unfold from his window, Edgar bore witness to the Night of the Long Knives, the Anschluss, and Kristallnacht. Jews were arrested; his father was imprisoned at Dachau. In 1939 Edgar was sent on his own to England, where he would make a new life, a career, have a family, and strive to forget the nightmare of his past--a past that came rushing back when he decided, at the age of eighty-eight, to tell the story of his buried childhood and his infamous neighbor.

952.0512 PAR Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Parry
On 11 March 2011, a massive earthquake sent a 120-foot-high tsunami smashing into the coast of north-east Japan. By the time the sea retreated, more than 18,500 people had been crushed, burned to death, or drowned.

It was Japan’s greatest single loss of life since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. It set off a national crisis, and the meltdown of a nuclear power plant. And even after the immediate emergency had abated, the trauma of the disaster continued to express itself in bizarre and mysterious ways.

Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, lived through the earthquake in Tokyo, and spent six years reporting from the disaster zone. There he encountered stories of ghosts and hauntings. He met a priest who performed exorcisms on people possessed by the spirits of the dead. And he found himself drawn back again and again to a village which had suffered the greatest loss of all, a community tormented by unbearable mysteries of its own.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fresh Finds: New Books Published in October and November

Staff Review of New Releases


The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (publication date: October 3)

Goodreads Summary:

When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. What is she?
World War II continues, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, are living with their loving legal guardian, Susan, in a borrowed cottage on the estate of the formidable Lady Thorton—along with Lady Thorton herself and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded cottage is tense enough, and then, quite suddenly, Ruth, a Jewish girl from Germany, moves in. A German? The occupants of the house are horrified. But other impacts of the war become far more frightening. As death creeps closer to their door, life and morality during wartime grow more complex. Who is Ada now? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?


Tirzah's Review:

(4 out of 5 stars) I actually like this one better than The War That Saved My Life, so you can imagine how good this book is! Ada has left her horrible life with her mother behind, but war with Germany and the war in Ada's heart is still raging. Readers are again swept into Ada's story of trust, forgiveness, and acceptance as she comes to terms with who she is, her new life, and how she fits into that life. I recommend to fans of the first book and to those who enjoy historical fiction. 

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty (publication date: October 3)

Goodreads Summary:

Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette- smoking, wish- granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved- ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning— including a glowing- Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre— and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.


Mason's Review:

(2.5 out of 5 stars) I've been a fan of Ms. Doughty's web series, "Ask a Mortician," for years, and I devoured her first book, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." For this book, she traveled the world exploring burial rites and how different cultures face the grieving process. Unfortunately, she seems to not have packed her characteristic sense of humor. Being neither amusing nor a serious anthropological study, I had to schedule a lot of laundromat time to finish this one.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (publication date: October 3)

Goodreads Summary:

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella "Especially Heinous," Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.


Jill's Review:

(4 out 5 stars) It’s difficult to rate a collection of stories when some appeal to me so much more than others. The first two were my favorite, but there were also flashes of brilliance in the others.
Unfortunately, the longest story in the book (About SVU) lost my attention completely, because I had no idea what was going on.
Even considering that, I’d rate the collection at 3.5 and am rounding to 4 for the first 2 stories and the amazing part in The Resident when the narrator tells Lydia off! “ It is my right to reside in my own mind. I have no shame. I have felt many things in my life, but shame is not among them. You may think that I have an obligation to you but I assure you that us being thrown together in this arbitrary arrangement does not cohesion make. I have never had less of an obligation to anyone in my life, you aggressively ordinary woman.” Excellent.

The Player King by Avi (publication date: October 17)

Goodreads Summary:

From Newbery Award–winning author Avi comes the gripping and amazingly true tale of a boy plucked from the gutter to become the King of England.
England, 1486. King Henry VII has recently snatched the English Crown and now sits on the throne, while young Prince Edward, who has a truer claim, has apparently disappeared. Meanwhile, a penniless kitchen boy named Lambert Simnel is slaving away at a tavern in Oxford—until a mysterious friar, Brother Simonds, buys Lambert from the tavern keeper and whisks him away in the dead of night. But this is nothing compared to the secret that the friar reveals: You, Lambert, are actually Prince Edward, the true King of England!


Tirzah's Review:

(2.5 out of 5 stars) This book was based on a true, lesser-known story during the time when treachery was rampant in 15th century England, so don't expect there to be a lot of characters with redeeming qualities. The one person I did empathize with was Lambert, the narrator of the story for reasons I cannot explain without giving any spoilers. This is probably my least favorite of Avi's historical fiction books, but it was still interesting as I think he does a good job combining historical and fiction elements and keeping readers engaged. I would recommend to readers who are interested in this specific time of England's history and also to teachers who could use it as a resource for their classroom.

Tell Tale Stories: Short Stories by Jeffrey Archer (publication date: October 24)

Goodreads Summary:

Nearly a decade after his last volume of short stories was published, Jeffrey Archer returns with his eagerly-awaited, brand-new collection TELL TALE, giving us a fascinating, exciting and sometimes poignant insight into the people he has met, the stories he has come across and the countries he has visited during the past ten years.
Find out what happens to the hapless young detective from Naples who travels to an Italian hillside town to find out Who Killed the Mayor? and the pretentious schoolboy in A Road to Damascus, whose discovery of the origins of his father’s wealth changes his life in the most profound way.
Revel in the stories of the 1930’s woman who dares to challenge the men at her Ivy League University in A Gentleman and A Scholar while another young woman who thumbs a lift gets more than she bargained for in A Wasted Hour.
These wonderfully engaging and always refreshingly original tales prove not only why Archer has been compared by the critics to Dahl and Maugham, but why he was described by The Times as probably the greatest storyteller of our age.


Vani's Review:

(4.5 out of 5 stars) These are stunning short stories with unexpected twists.

Artemis by Andy Weir (publication date: November 14)

Goodreads Summary:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.
Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.
Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.


Katherine's Review:

(3.5 out of 5 stars) For those of you who think this book is going to be exactly like "The Martian" you need to know that they are very different but there are some similarities. Both books have many scientific explanations so everything feels very real and both are definite page-turners. This book has a female protagonist who is in her twenties. I really wanted to like her, but her character annoyed me too much. I felt like many of the things she said were not what a woman of her age would say. Additionally, it was hard to feel the same level of tension as in "The Martian" at the beginning of this book when the main character is not trying to survive but trying to sabotage equipment. Of course things change later in the book. I loved the city Weir creates on the Moon as well as learning how it was built and how it was governed. An overall enjoyable book with a main character I had frustrations with. 

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (publication date: November 14)

Goodreads Summary:

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.


Katherine's Review:

(3 out of 5 stars) There was a lot I liked about this book - great world building, djinn, and magical creatures. I loved being immersed in an "Arabian Nights" type of book. However, I felt like the pacing was a bit off and struggled to get through some sections of this book. I also found the descriptions of the different groups of djinn and the history of the water/air/fire creatures to be confusing though the glossary in the back was useful. A fun read, but I was left wishing that there had been some additional editing.