Jul 1, 2014

The Bedtime Frog - Axel Scheffler

The bedtime frogThe Bedtime Frog - Scheffler, Alex

Summary: When Posy stays over at Pip's house for the night, she is upset when she realizes that she has left her froggy at home.


Staff Review - "All of the Pip and Posy stories are perfect for toddlers!"

School Library Journal Reviews
PreS—Posy, a mouse, visits her friend Pip, a rabbit, for a sleepover in the seventh adventure of the picture-book series. The two spend the day playing, as good friends do, but when it comes time to sleep, Posy has a problem: she has forgotten her bedtime froggy at home. Pip tries to give Posy various animals to replace her beloved toy. After much trial and error, he gives up his own toy pig to make Posy stop crying. The next day when she returns home, she is happily reunited with her frog. As in the previous "Pip and Posy" tales, these two continue to delight and teach readers about friendship. In this installment, the dilemma is realistic but resolved a bit too easily, and the ending is somewhat flat. The intensely colorful gouache illustrations are this book's strength. Children will enjoy "picture walking" through the images that clearly depict feelings and events. Kids who are familiar with the characters will enjoy this new adventure.—Sandra Welzenbach, Villarreal Elementary School, San Antonio, TX

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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North

The first fifteen lives of Harry AugustThe First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - North, Claire

Summary: Forced to relive his life over and over again, Harry August receives a message on his eleventh death bed from a little girl who tells him that the world is about to end, and it is up to him to stop it.




Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Harry August isn't human. Well, that's not quite accurate. He is human but a different sort of human from the rest of us: he was born (in the ladies' washroom of a train station in England in 1919), he lives a certain number of years, and he dies—and then he's born again, right back where he started, and a handful of years later his memories of his first life return. Harry is, like a few others, a kalachakra, an immortal who is constantly reborn, each time with all the memories of his previous lives. This wonderful novel, narrated by Harry, ranges back and forth in time as he recounts episodes from his various lives, but it's all held together by a compelling mystery involving nothing less than the end of the world itself (a thousand years in the future). Beautifully written and structured, the book should be a big hit with SF fans. The pseudonymous author's name is being kept secret, but fans of SF and fantasy authors China Mieville, Christopher Priest, and Adam Roberts might note a stylistic similarity, especially in the novel's elegant prose. Whoever Claire North turns out to be, he or she has written a remarkable book.

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The Public Library - Robert Dawson

The public library : a photographic essayThe Public Library: A Photographic Essay - Dawson, Robert

Summary: There are more than 17,000 public libraries in America. Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has traveled the nation, documenting hundreds of these institutions--from Alaska to Florida, New England to the West Coast. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson's photographs, revealing a vibrant, essential, yet seriously threatened system.

Publishers Weekly Reviews
This beautifully crafted book celebrates public libraries across the U.S. in both color and black and white images captured by photographer Dawson over an 18-year period. Artfully arranged in such chapters as "Civic Memory and Identity" and "Literature and Learning," the book includes a foreword by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett. Writers, including Anne Lamott, Barbara Kingsolver, and Amy Tan, share childhood experiences at their local libraries and the significance this sanctuary had on their literary development. Throughout, Dawson contrasts libraries of different sizes and locales: from those in poor, rural towns to those in bustling cities; from what used to be libraries but are now abandoned structures to architectural marvels. These buildings speak to the breadth, scope, and makeup of America, and how libraries provide culture, computers, and sometimes shelter. In addition, Dawson touches on the fragile nature of these institutions, which he feels are vital to our well-being as a nation. He challenges the notion of what a library looks like—some are scarcely bigger than a one-room house or share space with the local post office. Dawson goes beyond the physical structures and touches on how viscerally and nostalgically Americans feel about public libraries, and suggests that, as a culture, we depend on them more than we know.

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Stubby the War Dog - Ann Bausum

Stubby the war dog : the true story of world war I 's bravest dogStubby the War Dog - Bausum, Ann

Summary: American soldier J. Robert Conroy befriended a stray dog with a stumpy tail while training to fight overseas in WWI. They bonded so closely that Conroy smuggled him to Europe, where Stubby accompanied Conroy's regiment on the Western Front, lending both his superior olfactory senses and amiable temperament to the war effort.


Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* The popularity of tales about dogs in war stems from the inherent poignancy—sweet, loyal, sad-eyed canines entered into the mad chaos of man-made destruction. But enter they occasionally do, and none more famously than Stubby. The homeless Boston terrier mix began frequenting a National Guard training ground in 1917, and along with copious food scraps, he found fellowship. With the help of his adopted master, 25-year-old Bob Conroy, Stubby learned to march and salute superiors. Conroy smuggled the clever mutt aboard a ship to France, and from there, Stubby became not only the good-luck charm of the 102nd Infantry but also a valued member, warning troops of gas attacks, barking before artillery shellings, and in his coup de grĂ¢ce, capturing a German soldier by the seat of his pants. Bausum uses Stubby as a conduit to talk about WWI warfare in general, and indeed the dog does suffer injury, live through horror and fear, and return home a decorated hero (who meets no fewer than two presidents). The speedy story is surrounded by evocative period photos, including plenty of the goofy-faced Stubby, and leads up to his later careers as a vaudeville star and a football mascot, and his eventual taxidermied inclusion in the Smithsonian. A triumph on three fronts: educational, emotional, and inspirational. For older teens, suggest Bausman's adult title, Sergeant Stubby.

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I Will Have Vengeance - Maurizio De Giovanni

I will have vengeance : the winter of Commissario RicciardiI Will Have Vengeance: The Winter of Commissario Ricciardi - De Giovanni, Maurizio

Summary: In 1930s fascist Naples, the enigmatic Commissario Ricciardi investigates the brutal murder of an infamous tenor, a case that is marked by the assistance of a loyal colleague and Ricciardi's own secrets.




LJ Express Reviews
Commissario Luigi Alfredo Ricciardi sees dead people. Not only in his job as a homicide detective on the Naples police force but in visions of their final moments. "Not all of them, and not for long: only those who died violently and only for a period of time that revealed extreme emotion, the sudden energy of their final thoughts." This unusual gift is both a blessing and curse, enabling the green-eyed 31-year-old Ricciardi to solve crimes successfully but also condemning him to a life of isolation and loneliness, except for the young woman he loves from afar but cannot bring himself to meet. His latest case involves the brutal slaying of tenor Arnaldo Vezzi in his dressing room at the San Carlo Theater. Because the famous opera singer had ties to Mussolini (this is 1931 fascist Italy), Ricciardi's sycophantic boss pressures him to solve the case quickly. But the meticulous commissario will not be rushed, especially when the tenor's ghost sings a final aria to him, a clue he must interpret. Verdict A well-deserved 2012 finalist for the Crime Writers Association International Dagger Award and elegantly translated by Appel, this melancholy debut entry in a quartet introduces a most unforgettable sleuth who might remind some readers of Charles Todd's ghost-haunted Insp. Ian Rutledge. De Giovanni's backstage depictions will appeal to Donna Leon fans, and the historical backdrop of Mussolini's Italy offers a fresh take on a tumultuous period that will attract readers who enjoy Philip Kerr's atmospheric Bernie Gunther novels. —Wilda Williams, Library Journal

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The Metamorphoses of Ovid - Ovid

The Metamorphoses of Ovid - Ovid

Summary: First published in 8 A.D. when he was 52, Ovid's epic poem contains profoundly entertaining tales of Adonis, Midas, Apollo, Icarus, and many others. -Amazon




Library Journal Reviews
Slavitt's new translation of Ovid's masterpiece is a joy to read, taking a place beside the recent translation of Allen Mandelbaum (LJ 11/1/93) as well as those of May M. Innes (Penguin, 1955) and Rolfe Humphries (Indiana Univ. Pr., 1955). While Mandelbaum and Slavitt are good poets who work to preserve the poetry in their translations, the former is more accurate and the latter smoother and more fluent. Slavitt renders Ovid's witty verse narrative into modern idiomatic English, making it contemporary without relying on informality or losing the elegance of the original. If his diction and reworking of passages are not always faithful to the original, they are true to the original's tone and spirit. As such, while Mandelbaum is perhaps better for the serious student of classical literature (with or without Latin), Slavitt is a better introduction to the pleasures of Ovid for the general reader.

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Danger Goes Berserk - Mac Barnett

Danger goes berserkDanger Goes Berserk - Barnett, Mac

Summary: As soon as twelve-year-old Steve Brixton opens a detective office in his backyard, he and his best friend Dana are caught up in a tangle of cases, from breaking up a ring of piratical smugglers, to recovering a stolen surfboard, to tracking down a fifth-grader's missing gym shorts.



Booklist Reviews
After converting an abandoned doghouse into his office, 12-year-old detective Steve Brixton accepts a new case: finding a stolen surfboard. Steve and his chum Dana rent boards, don wetsuits, and (with no relevant experience) try to infiltrate the local surfer scene. Disaster ensues, but the intrepid sleuth perseveres. Like the three earlier volumes of the Brixton Brothers series, this chapter book takes the adventure and plotting of an old-school (think Hardy Boys) series mystery and overlays it with deadpan, offbeat humor. The occasional full-page drawings help define the characters, settings, and tone of the story. Wildly improbable and reliably entertaining.

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Diary of a Sea Captain's Wife - Margaret Holden Eaton

Diary of a Sea Captain's Wife: Tales of Santa Cruz Island - Eaton, Margaret Holden

Summary & Review: Margaret Eaton and her husband Ira were well known to Santa Barbarans in the early part of this century as operators of the Pelican Bay Camp on Santa Cruz Island. Beginning humbly with small-scale commercial fishing, seal hunting and passenger charters, the Eatons gradually developed a unique resort that came to be popular among writers, film companies and people from all over the country. Working from her diary and her memories, Mrs. Eaton wrote this extraordinary story of her life over a period of many years, until her death in 1947. She is remembered by her daughter, Vera Eaton Amey, as a fearless and compassionate women. Mrs. Amey has done admirably well in sorting through mountains of letters, clippings and photographs to organize her mother's manuscript. She has also painstakingly consulted other sources to confirm, as much as possible, the accuracy of these recollections. With the passage of time- half a century and more- corroboration becomes increasingly difficult, and inconsistencies have inevitably crept in. The reader who would use "Diary of a Sea Captains Wife" as a historical reference is asked to bear this in mind. The true significance of Margaret Eaton's story lies in its appeal as the personal account of a woman living in a man's world, in a time and place remote from today's urban society. Jan Timbrook Associate Curator, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History -Amazon

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Inside the Human Body

Inside the human bodyInside the Human Body

Summary: Survive! Inside the Human Body, Volume 1 begins an epic journey through the human body with a look at the digestive system. This lively, full-color science comic explores Phoebe's insides after she accidentally swallows a microscopic ship. The only problem? Dr. Brain (the ship's eccentric inventor) and Phoebe's friend Geo are on board!


Publishers Weekly Reviews
What better way to understand the human digestive system than to take a trip through it? Eager and curious Geo and scientist Dr. Brain shrink down to microscopic size and inadvertently venture through the digestive tract of Geo's tomboyish friend Phoebe, while Dr. Brain's harried assistant, Kay, desperately tries to alleviate the situation. The madcap plot and near-constant gags (no pun intended) deliver educational content in an entertaining fashion reminiscent of the Magic School Bus series, while the manhwa (Korean comics) form is sure to appeal to many readers. The creators aren't afraid to get technical (occasional "Survival Science" spreads discuss sphincter muscles, parasites, and more) or to indulge in bathroom humor ("Why are you looking for Geo in my poop?" a befuddled Phoebe asks Kay). Like the human body, where, as Dr. Brain emphatically proclaims, "even the smallest cell plays an important role," the book succeeds on the collective efforts of all those involved in its production, including translators and medical experts who reviewed its accuracy. Geo and Dr. Brain explore the circulatory and nervous systems in two subsequent titles, available simultaneously. Ages 7–up.

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The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan

The lover's dictionaryThe Lover's Dictionary - Levithan, David

Summary: A modern love story told through a series of dictionary-style entries is a sequence of intimate windows into the large and small events that shape the course of a romantic relationship.




Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Levithan, a popular YA author and an editorial director at Scholastic, has had the inspired idea of writing the story of a love relationship in the form of a dictionary. Each word, from aberrant to zenith, defines the language of love, while adding to the reader's knowledge and understanding of the male lovers' partnership. Interestingly, each definition is told from the point of view and in the first-person voice of only one of the partners. The other partner's voice remains silent throughout except as quoted by the narrator. Nevertheless, both come wonderfully alive, emerging as complex, multidimensional human beings, happy and unhappy, ebullient and angry, sweet and sour, and so—delightfully—forth. Happily, the order of the alphabet does not dictate the order of the story, which moves backward and forward in time. Thus, the dramatic necessity of conflict arises from one partner's infidelity, the impact of which is then explored at various points in the history of the partnership. Nothing is cut-and-dried, however, for as Levithan demonstrates, intimacy is sometimes enigmatic and, as he notes under ineffable, "No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough." So you must clearly pick and choose which to use, an act that Levithan has accomplished artfully and satisfyingly.

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Dreams of Gods & Monsters - Laini Taylor

Dreams of gods & monstersDreams of Gods & Monsters - Taylor, Laini

Summary: When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat -- and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon in this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.



Booklist Reviews
In Taylor's third and final installment in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Karou and Akiva's dream of peace and a life together comes tantalizingly close, only to be repeatedly thwarted by their peoples' separate and conflicting histories, both mystical and real. Joined by angels and chimaera, Karou and Akiva lead their armies and fight side by side to prevent the apocalypse by banishing Jael, captain of the Dominion of Seraphim, from the earth he is determined to destroy. New revelations, characters, multiple love stories, and constant plot twists and suspense will not disappoint Taylor's many fans, who will also appreciate the novel's subtle philosophical undercurrents about racial harmony and the profound difficulty of making choices that reconcile duty, the greater good, and personal happiness.

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The Case of the Deadly Desperados - Caroline Lawrence

The case of the deadly desperadosThe Case of the Deadly Desperados - Lawrence, Caroline

Summary: In 1862 Nevada Territory, after finding his foster parents murdered and scalped, twelve-year-old Pinky Pinkerton, son of a railroad detective and a Sioux Indian, inherits a valuable deed and must hide from dangerous Whittlin Walt and his gang of desperados.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* The year is 1862, and P. K. Pinkerton, on his twelfth birthday, finds his stepparents brutally scalped. He realizes that vicious outlaw Whittlin' Walt and his two henchmen now have their sights set on him. Seems P. K. has something they want: a mysterious deed, which is a legacy from his railroad-detective birth father. So P. K. takes off running, with the terrible trio in relentless pursuit, from tiny Temperance to the lawless silver-mining town of Virginia City. As things intensify, P. K. must use his wits (and occasional disguises) to survive. A winning blend of Wild West and classic detective lore, this first book in the Western Mysteries series is a fast-paced, engrossing read, from beginning to end. P. K. is a wonderfully drawn, engaging protagonist—half Sioux, half white, and a self-proclaimed misfit—who has difficulty reading others and expressing emotion. But he also has gifts, like exceptional memory, keen observational powers, and resourcefulness. His vernacular, colloquial first-person account vividly brings characters to life, from cunning Belle Donne to slick, unexpectedly kind gambler Jace. Both settings and events—including exciting, occasionally gory, confrontations—are filled with droll touches, period details, and poignant moments. Though literary allusions (including Charles Dickens and Mark Twain) sprinkled throughout may elude some readers, it doesn't matter; they'll cheer P. K. on and anticipate his next adventure. An appended glossary includes referenced real-life people and details.

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The Other End of The Leash - Patricia B. McConnell

The other end of the leash : why we do what we do around dogsThe Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs - McConnell, Patricia B.

Summary: Explores humans' relationships with their canine companions and the mysteries of human-canine communication, provides insights into human and dog interaction, and explains how dog owners can avoid sending conflicting messages to their pets.



Publishers Weekly Reviews
It matters greatly that people who love dogs understand enough about them to provide a good environment, writes McConnell (Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage Your Multi-dog Household) in her thoughtful exposition on improving human-canine communication. An animal behaviorist and adjunct professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, McConnell offers sound advice for dog owners: Pay attention to your own behavior. Believe me, your dog is. Drawing on anecdotes from her professional practice (she specializes in canine behavior problems), research into the work of other dog trainers and personal experiences with her beloved Border collies, the author explains how a dog might be misinterpreting signals from its owner. For example, although humans express affection through hugs, a dog may feel threatened by them. McConnell also provides tips on how to play safely with dogs (she recommends games of fetch rather than rough-and-tumble wrestling) and how to get them to do what you want (the best way to get a dog to stop demanding attention is simply to break off visual contact). She has harsh words for trainers who tell owners to establish dominance over dogs by behaving aggressively to them when they are young, and also for owners of puppy mills. These dog factories, she says, create damaged animals and unsuitable pets. This is a helpful guide for pet owners by a specialist who clearly loves her work.

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Searching for Tina Turner - Jacqueline E. Luckett

Searching for Tina TurnerSearching for Tina Turner - Luckett, Jacqueline E.

Summary: Lena Spencer seems to have it all: a wealthy husband, two great kids, and a comfortable life. Too bad she's so unhappy. When her husband gives her an ultimatum, Lena decides to leave. As she struggles to build a new life, she draws strength from the life story of Tina Turner.



Booklist Reviews
Lena's husband, Randall, has been climbing the corporate ladder for years, and Lena has supported him every step of the way, glad to help him and raise their two children. But now she feels as though she has lost herself in the process, and is drowning in luxury. With his goal of becoming the first black CEO of his company in reach, Randall refuses to go to therapy; and with the same determination that has led to his success, he tells Lena to accept the status quo or get a divorce. At 52, Lena well knows how divorce changes everything as friends, and even children, choose sides. Seeking guidance and support, Lena discovers the wisdom of singer and survivor Tina Turner, using Turner's story as a road map to finding her own happiness and a way back to her dreams. In her debut novel Luckett delivers a strong, likable heroine who comes through her crisis by recognizing her true worth and empowering herself. Luckett's triumphant tale will rally readers of all backgrounds.

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Blackberry Pie Murder - Joanna Fluke

Blackberry pie murderBlackberry Pie Murder - Fluke, Joanna

Summary: Hannah Swensen thinks she killed a former high school football hero with her car, until an autopsy reveals the victim was dead before Hannah even hit him, his shirt covered in stains from a blackberry pie.




Booklist Reviews
Hannah Swensen, owner of the Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and her family are trying to plan Hannah's mother's upcoming nuptials despite the fact that the bride is constantly changing her mind over the details. Hannah becomes further distracted after she hits a man with her car while driving in a storm and causes his death. Research into the mystery man uncovers an insidious criminal who was a threat to a local family and who had been beaten before Hannah hit him. She still does not let herself escape responsibility and tries to figure out who the man was and his purpose for being in Lake Eden. Fluke offers a new twist to the series with Hannah's upcoming trial for vehicular homicide planned for a future book. The cookie-shop owner's character gains depth with her acceptance of responsibility for a man's death, making this fifteenth in the popular series an emotionally weighty entry. But there's still room for recipes and for Hannah to move toward an overdue decision on the question of which of her two boyfriends she prefers. Readers will be eager for the next installment.

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Midnight Crossroad - Charlaine Harris

Midnight crossroadMidnight Crossroad - Harris, Charlaine

Summary: The first book in a new trilogy describes what happens in Midnight, Texas, a dried-up, one traffic light town, when a mysterious new resident, Manfred Bernardo, moves in.




Publishers Weekly Reviews
Bestseller Harris (the Southern Vampire Mysteries, which spawned the HBO series True Blood) introduces the small town of Midnight, Tex., where the locals can all take a day off for a picnic by the river—and discover a corpse. Residents of Midnight include a practicing witch, a telephone "psychic" who has true visions, a minister who tends a pet cemetery, and a vampire who works the night shift at the pawn shop. Even the witch's house cat has his secrets. With polished ease, Harris brings her cast on stage, pairs them off to reveal character through conversation, and ambles the mystery along, as the residents of Midnight tend to their chores and run errands to the big towns of Marthasville and Davy. While not ignoring the downsides of smalltown life, with too-knowing neighbors and teens desperate to get out, Harris also works in its joys and comforts. This is a solid entry in Harris's catalogue and will do very well with her fans.

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The Penderwicks - Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks : a summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boyThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy - Birdsall, Jeanne

Summary: While vacationing with their widowed father in the Berkshire Mountains, four lovable sisters, ages four through twelve, share adventures with a local boy, much to the dismay of his snobbish mother.




Horn Book Guide Reviews
Along with their loving but preoccupied botanist father and a clumsy dog, the motherless Penderwick sisters spend their summer holiday in the Massachusetts Berkshires in a rose-covered cottage on the grounds of a mansion. Suffused with affectionate humor, this charming, old-fashioned story feels familiar in the way the best books seem like old friends.

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

The storied life of A.J. Fikry : a novelThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - Zevin, Gabrielle

Summary: When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.



Booklist Reviews
In this sweet, uplifting homage to bookstores, Zevin perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books. A. J. Fikry, the cantankerous owner of Island Books, is despondent after losing his beloved wife and witnessing the ever-declining number of sales at his small, quirky bookstore. In short order, he loses all patience with the new Knightly Press sales rep, his prized rare edition of Tamerlane is stolen, and someone leaves a baby at his store. That baby immediately steals A. J.'s heart and unleashes a dramatic transformation. Suddenly, the picture-book section is overflowing with new titles, and the bookstore becomes home to a burgeoning number of book clubs. With business on the uptick and love in his heart, A. J. finds himself becoming an essential new part of his longtime community, going so far as to woo the aforementioned sales rep (who loves drinking Queequeg cocktails at the Pequod Restaurant). Filled with interesting characters, a deep knowledge of bookselling, wonderful critiques of classic titles, and very funny depictions of book clubs and author events, this will prove irresistible to book lovers everywhere.

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Who Was Laura Ingalls Wilder? - Patricia Demuth

Who was Laura Ingalls Wilder?Who Was Laura Ingalls Wilder? - Demuth, Patricia

Summary: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, based on her own childhood and later life, are still beloved classics almost a century after she began writing them. Now young readers will see just how similar Laura's true-life story was to her books. Born in 1867 in the "Big Woods" in Wisconsin, Laura experienced both the hardship and the adventure of living on the frontier. Her life and times are captured in engaging text and 80 black-and-white illustrations.

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Let the Old Dreams Die - John Ajvide Lindqvist

Let the old dreams dieLet the Old Dreams Die - Ajvide Lindqvist, John

Summary: Called Sweden's Stephen King, the author of the internationally acclaimed Let the Right One In continues the story of Oskar and Eli in this terrifying collection that also includes "Equinox," in which a woman makes a disturbing discovery while taking care of her vacationing neighbor's house.



Booklist Reviews
Lindqvist's short stories pack the same emotional punch as his novels. This collection includes sequels to two of his best-known works, Let the Right One In and Handling the Undead. Both are pleasing, if frightening, epilogues to their respective stories. Aside from those, there are atmospheric tales of people with strange origins and things to hide in The Border, urban monsters in A Village in the Sky, and the terrible thing a woman finds while house-sitting in Equinox. There's also Eternal/Love, which explores the true horror of immortal love. Suffice it to say—this is only a small sampling of the stories presented here—that Lindqvist's short pieces are terribly effective horror fiction, both in the sense of being deeply unnerving and rarely safe to read any night, and also in the sense of exploring the hidden, shadowy facets of human emotional lives. These are excellent examples of the form, and well worth reading—just not alone in a cold, dark house.

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Nebraska (DVD)

NebraskaNebraska (DVD)

Summary: After receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail, a cantankerous father thinks he's struck it rich, and wrangles his estranged son into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. Getting waylaid in the father's hometown in Nebraska, the son tries to reconnect with his impenetrable father.


Video Librarian Reviews
Filmed in monochromatic black-and-white, filmmaker Alexander Payne's multiple-Oscar-nominated Nebraska subtly conveys the melancholy lives of ordinary Midwesterners. Best Actor nominee Bruce Dern stars as grizzled Woody Grant, an alcoholic, aging resident of Billings, MT, who is convinced that he won a million dollars in a Publisher Clearing House-like mega-sweepstakes lottery. Obviously struggling with senility, Woody is stubbornly determined to reach the company's headquarters in Lincoln, NE, even if he has to walk there. This is what Woody tells his younger son, David (Will Forte), who picks up his dad after he's wandered down the highway. David's older brother, Ross (Bob Odenkirk), and their exasperated mother, Kate (June Squibb), want to put Woody in a nursing home, but David, feeling empathy for the frail, confused old man, offers to drive him to Lincoln to claim his alleged prize. En route, the pair visit relatives and friends, and David learns more about his reticent, inscrutable father—from an old girlfriend (Angela McEwan) and former business partner (Stacy Keach)—while also discovering that everyone wants a cut of Woody's windfall. As the cantankerous old coot, Dern delivers a restrained-yet-convincing, career-crowning performance, while cinematographer Phedon Papamichael's austere, elegiac imagery evokes Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, and Edward Hopper. Recommended. (S. Granger) Copyright Video Librarian Reviews 2014.

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Japan 1941 - Eri Hotta

Japan 1941 countdown to infamyJapan 1941: Countdown to Infamy - Hotta, Eri

Summary: A history of the attack on Pearl Harbor from a Japanese perspective argues that the nation's leaders largely understood they were destined to lose the war, offering insight into the tradition-obscured belief system that prompted the country to place its citizens in harm's way.



Library Journal Reviews
In 1941, Japan was a resource-strapped country bogged down in a costly war with China. So why did it decide to initiate a war with the United States? Hotta (Pan-Asianism and Japan's War, 1931–45) explores every aspect of this question. She reveals that many high-ranking Japanese officials had real doubts about launching an attack on America. However, a combination of weak civilian leadership, outsize military involvement in government, extreme nationalism, and bureaucratic inertia forced Japan down a path of certain destruction. Her book gives colorful descriptions of the various characters involved, from the common Japanese soldier on the frontlines all the way up to the emperor himself. VERDICT This is a fascinating read for anyone interested in Japan's involvement in World War II generally or its motivations for attacking the United States specifically. While scholarly and thoroughly researched, it's also a highly enjoyable read. Hotta writes the story with a novel's narrative drive, making it a real page-turner. Readers seeking a more concise exploration of this topic should consider Jeffrey Record's A War It Was Always Going To Lose: Why Japan Attacked America in 1941.—Joshua Wallace, South Texas Coll. Lib., McAllen

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An Ordinary Woman - Cecelia Holland

An ordinary woman : a dramatized biography of Nancy KelseyAn Ordinary Woman : A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey - Holland, Cecelia

Summary: Nancy Kelsey, her husband, and a small group of Americans make the perilous overland trek to California, where she works at Sutter's Fort and rides in the Rebellion that wrests California from Mexico, in a novel based on the real-life exploits of one courageous American pioneer woman.



Booklist Reviews
In 1838, at the age of 15, Nancy, the daughter of pioneers, marries farmer Ben Kelsey, who is 12 years her senior. Together they eke out a living on a small farm in Missouri. Three years later, Ben is filled with wanderlust after hearing about riches and open land in California, so he, his brothers, and their families organize a party of ambitious pioneers to make the journey even though they have no knowledge of the terrain. Luckily, they meet up with a group of missionaries traveling to Montana, who guide them along until Ben and company split off to head south, making Nancy the only woman to brave the uncharted trail through California's daunting desert and mountains. Later, she and Ben join the fight for statehood, prosper during the gold rush, and hit the trail again after Ben loses his money. A real trouper, Nancy sticks with her man through thick and thin, and Holland provides an interesting fictional account of a true story of pioneer life.

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The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing - Sheila Turnage

The ghosts of Tupelo LandingThe Ghosts of Tupelo Landing - Turnage, Sheila

Summary: When Miss Lana accidentally buys a haunted inn at the Tupelo Landing town auction, Desperado Detectives--aka Mo LoBeau and her best friend Dale--opens up a paranormal division to solve the ghost's identity before the town's big 250th anniversary bash.



Horn Book Guide Reviews
In this sweet, laid-back sequel to Three Times Lucky, Mo LoBeau and Dale find themselves in another mystery. When the abandoned Tupelo Inn goes up for auction, Miss Lana and Grandmother Miss Lacy outbid a snippy banker and take ownership of the ramshackle inn, including a strange apparition. Mo's distinctive voice, full of humor and Southern colloquialisms, narrates a tale with many twists and turns.

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My Life in Middlemarch - Rebecca Mead

My life in MiddlemarchMy Life in Middlemarch - Mead, Rebecca

Summary: A New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth--Middlemarch-- and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* When Mead first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, a "masterwork of sympathetic philosophy," as a young woman in an English seaside town, it became her polestar. A New Yorker staff writer and author of One Perfect Day (2007), Mead now explains why in this heady blend of memoir, biography, and literary criticism. She performs an exhilarating, often surprising close reading of the novel, which Eliot began writing at age 51 in 1870. And she takes a fresh look at Eliot's daringly unconventional life, visiting the writer's homes and casting light not only on the author's off-the-charts intellect but also her valor in forthrightly addressing complex moral issues, cutting sense of humor, "large, perceptive generosity," and the deep love she shared with critic and writer George Henry Lewes and his sons. Mead injects just enough of her own life story to take measure of the profound resonance of Eliot's progressive, humanistic viewpoint, recognition of the heroism of ordinary lives, and crucial central theme, "a young woman's desire for a substantial, rewarding, meaningful life." Mead's rekindling of appreciation for Eliot and her books blossoms into a celebration of the entire enterprise of writing and reading, of how literature transforms our lives as it guides us toward embracing "all that might be gained from opening one's heart wider." Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Shōgun - James Clavell

ShogunShōgun: A Novel of Japan - Clavell, James

Summary: After John Blackthorne shipwrecks in Japan, he makes himself useful to a feudal lord in a power struggle with another and becomes a samurai.




New York Times Review

It's almost impossible not to continue to read "Shōgun" once having opened it. Yet it's not only something that you read--you live it....Clavell wants everything in "Shōgun," and he nearly gets it: living characters, tumultuous events, stories that shine, a culture assembled like a jigsaw puzzle....He writes in the oldest and grandest tradition that fiction knows.

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The Aviators - Winston Groom

The aviators : Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the epic age of flightThe Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight - Groom, Winston

Summary: The Aviators tells the saga of three extraordinary aviators--Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle--and how they redefine heroism through their genius, daring, and uncommon courage. Groom's rich narrative tells their intertwined stories--from broken homes to Medals of Honor (all three would receive it); barnstorming to the greatest raid of World War II; front-page triumph to anguished tragedy; and near-death to ultimate survival--as all took to the sky, time and again, to become exemplars of the spirit of the 'greatest generation'" - Provided by publisher.

Kirkus Reviews
Joint biography of three legendary pilots. Groom (Shiloh, 1862, 2012, etc.) takes his subjects from their earliest days through World War II, when they all found a way to aid the struggle against the Axis powers. All three of Groom's subjects earned their renown by doing something extraordinary. Eddie Rickenbacker (1890–1973) rose from auto mechanic to champion race car driver and then became the top American flying ace of World War I. Jimmy Doolittle (1896–1993), a tough kid who boxed to pay for college, became the military's leading test pilot in the 1920s. Charles Lindbergh (1902–1974) dropped out of college to be a stunt pilot before becoming the most famous man alive for his New York to Paris flight in 1927. Groom traces their early careers, showing how they learned the nuts and bolts of aviation in the process of becoming pilots. This stood them in good stead in their later careers. Lindbergh personally oversaw the building of the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane for his epic flight, and, later in World War II, helped U.S. forces in the Pacific improve the range of the P-38 fighter planes. Doolittle is probably best known for his 1942 bombing raid on Tokyo, in which he used innovative tactics to shake the enemy's confidence in the impregnability of the Japanese homeland. Rickenbacker, on a secret mission to deliver orders to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, survived more than three weeks on a life raft in the shark-infested South Pacific after his plane went down, nearly starving, continuing the mission as soon as he recovered from the ordeal. Groom lets his empathy with his subjects somewhat outweigh their flaws, notably Lindbergh's initial failure to recognize the evil of Nazism. Ultimately, though, the author convincingly portrays them as true American heroes, men who changed the world by their deeds and who inspired countless others to emulate their examples. A gripping document of a brilliant era in our history and a few of the men who helped make it so.

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Julie London Sings the Choicest of Cole Porter (CD)

Julie London Sings the Choicest of Cole Porter (CD)

Summary: The cool, sexy voice of Julie London was the perfect instrument for the sophisticated-yet often suggestive-songs of Cole Porter. Here are I've Got You Under My Skin; Love for Sale; Easy to Love; My Heart Belongs to Daddy; In the Still of the Night , and 11 more of her best Porter performances! -Amazon

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Insomnia - Stephen King

InsomniaInsomnia - King, Stephen

Summary: Ralph Roberts can't sleep. A recent widower, dismayed at life, he cannot seem to close his eyes and rest. After a number of sleepless nights, he begins seeing things that are imperceptible to most people. He can see auras of light surrounding individuals which shift and change depending on their well-being, and terminate in a long balloon-like string. Most creepily, he can sometimes see three little bald men dressed like surgeons going around and cutting off these strings.

Kirkus Reviews
A small town in Maine again serves as King's setting in this deft, steady tale, in which two lovable geezers travel through hyper-reality to balance the books of human existence, or something to that effect. King throws in a tender romance, sensitive and often funny portrayals of the ravages of age, and the somewhat loopy presence of Rite-Aid drugstores, Cup-A-Soup, and Port-O-Sans smack-dab in the middle of hyper-reality. This commingling of the supernatural and the commonplace is what makes this hefty read so enjoyable.

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The Thickety - J. A. White

The Thickety : a path beginsThe Thickety: A Path Begins - White, J. A.

Summary: When twelve-year-old Kara discovers her mother's grimoire in the dangerous forest, she must decide if she'll use it, even though such magic is forbidden.



Kirkus Reviews
Nail-biting suspense is the hallmark of this long fantasy novel, from the terrifying prologue to the shocking epilogue. This pleasantly accomplished debut presents readers with a dystopian, theocratic society that fears and executes witches and magic users. The community lives on the island of De'Noran, where the habitable land is being devoured by strange forest called the Thickety. In the prologue, readers meet little Kara Westall, who is roused from her bed and dragged to watch her mother's execution as a witch. Years later, Kara, now 12, is responsible for herself, her younger brother, Taff, and their father, crippled by depression. When Kara finds her mother's grimoire in the Thickety and uses it, the already suspenseful narrative becomes nerve-wracking. The author's storytelling chops show in how he ratchets up suspense, delivers believable characters (both good and evil), and reveals information slowly and only when absolutely necessary. There is a stunning climax and a seemingly perfect resolution. Readers will know, however, that nothing is perfect, and the epilogue confirms this fact while providing hope for a sequel. The spellbinding story, lashings of suspense and stalwart heroine will draw in fantasy fans and keep them reading until the bitter ending.

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The Mark of the Dragonfly - Jaleigh Johnson

The mark of the dragonflyThe Mark of the Dragonfly - Johnson, Jaleigh

Summary: Since her father's death in a factory in the Dragonfly territories, thirteen-year-old Piper has eked out a living as a scrapper in Merrow Kingdom, but the arrival of a mysterious girl sends her on a dangerous journey to distant lands.



Booklist Reviews
It is a harsh life for Piper, an orphan who makes her living salvaging meteor-storm debris and repairing small machines in Scrap Town #16. When she rescues an unconscious girl, Anna, from the wreckage of a travelers' caravan and discovers that the girl is under the protection of the king of the Dragonfly Territories, Piper knows that returning Anna to her family is the perfect chance for her to start a new life. But getting there will require a trip on the expensive and dangerous 401, a beautiful old train with mysterious guards. And that's not their only roadblock: Anna has lost her memory. And a strange, intense man who will stop at nothing to capture her is hot on her heels. Part Firefly and part Kenneth Oppel's Airborn (2004), this alternate-world novel is full of mechanical wonders, magical people, and unambiguous good guys and bad guys. Appealing characters and lots of action make it a good choice for young adventure readers with a taste for steampunk. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

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Half a Chance - Cynthia Lord

Half a chanceHalf a Chance - Lord, Cynthia

Summary: Lucy, with her mother and her photographer father, has just moved to a small rural community in New Hampshire, and with her new friend Nate she plans to spend the summer taking photos for a contest, but pictures sometimes reveal more than people are willing to see.



Horn Book Guide Reviews
When twelve-year-old Lucy enters a photography contest, she must decide whether to submit a picture of her new friend Nate's grandmother, whose life has become punctuated with moments of dementia and confusion. Nate is horrified by his grandmother's panicked expression, but Lucy knows it's an amazing picture. The story is moving, and readers will find themselves caught up in sensitive Lucy's honest and thoughtful narration.

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Crampton Hodnet - Barbara Pym

Crampton Hodnet - Pym, Barbara

Summary: A novel featuring a pair of farcical romances captures early versions of the author's famous clergymen and excellent women, the original Miss Doggett and Jessie Morrow from Jane and Prudence, and a distinctly Oxford cast of characters.



Kirkus Reviews
Barbara Pym, in the 1940s, considered Crampton Hodnet too dated to be published. But now it is the book's very datedness--it is set in Oxford in the 1930s--that provides much of its charm. And in this early manuscript Pym introduced character types she would develop more fully later in her career...A funny and fast-moving book, Crampton Hodnet will delight Pym lovers as well as provide an enlightening introduction for those unfamiliar with an author who has been compared by many with Jane Austen. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews

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Republican Gomorrah - Max Blumenthal

Republican Gomorrah inside the movement that shattered the partyRepublican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party - Blumenthal, Max

Summary: An intimate, investigative portrait of how the purveyors of the politics of personal crisis and redemption brought down the GOP--and why they're still calling the shots for the party. Offers a look at the powerful players, such as Karl Rove and Howard Ahmanson, and the political and personal problems they have dealt with that will impact the future of the Republican Party in a post-Bush world.


Book News Review
In this book, journalist Blumenthal suggests that recent scandals involving prominent right-wing politicians are no accident. Instead, he suggests, they are evidence for the accuracy of social psychologist Erich Fromm's theory that the sexual and moral anxieties of fear-ridden people make them more susceptible to the appeal of authoritarian belief systems. Based on extensive interviews with right-wing leaders and activists, Blumenthal's book succeeds at being more than a lurid accounting of sexual escapades and immoral behavior, clearly showing how "the personal is political" in a way that the coiner of that phrase probably never intended. This book will appeal to readers interested in current U.S. politics

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The Boys in the Boat - Daniel Brown

The boys in the boat : nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsThe Boys in the Boat : Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics - Brown, Daniel

Summary: Traces the story of an American rowing team from the University of Washington that defeated elite rivals at Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics, sharing the experiences of their enigmatic coach, a visionary boat builder, and a homeless teen rower.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* If Jesse Owens is rightfully the most famous American athlete of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, repudiating Adolf Hitler's notion of white supremacy by winning gold in four events, the gold-medal-winning effort by the eight-man rowing team from the University of Washington remains a remarkable story. It encompasses the convergence of transcendent British boatmaker George Pocock; the quiet yet deadly effective UW men's varsity coach, Al Ulbrickson; and an unlikely gaggle of young rowers who would shine as freshmen, then grow up together, a rough-and-tumble bunch, writes Brown, not very worldly, but earnest and used to hard work. Brown (Under a Flaming Sky, 2006) takes enough time to profile the principals in this story while using the 1936 games and Hitler's heavy financial and political investment in them to pull the narrative along. In doing so, he offers a vivid picture of the socioeconomic landscape of 1930s America (brutal), the relentlessly demanding effort required of an Olympic-level rower, the exquisite brainpower and materials that go into making a first-rate boat, and the wiles of a coach who somehow found a way to, first, beat archrival University of California, then conquer a national field of qualifiers, and finally, defeat the best rowing teams in the world. A book that informs as it inspires. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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