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Apr 1, 2013

The Middlesteins - Jami Attenberg


The Middlesteins - Attenberg, Jami

Summary: Two siblings with very different personalities attempt to take control of their mother's food obsession and massive weight gain to save her life after their father walks out and leaves her reeling in the Chicago suburbs.


Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* The Middlesteins, a Jewish family of strong temperaments and large dysfunctions, living in the middle of the country in Chicago and its suburbs, revolve around Edie, a woman of gargantuan appetites. Attenberg (The Melting Season, 2010) marshals her gift for mordant yet compassionate comedy to chart Edie's rise and fall in sync with her ever-ballooning weight. Smart, generous, and voracious in every way, Edie is a lawyer who loves food and work more than her pharmacist husband. Her daughter, Robin, a private-school history teacher, is anxious and reclusive. Edie's even-keeled, pot-smoking son, Benny, is married to Edie's opposite, petite and disciplined Rachelle, an ambitious stay-at-home mother of twins. After Edie loses her job and rolls past the 300-pound mark, she becomes a medical crisis waiting to happen. Finally galvanized into action, her in-denial family is both helpful and destructive, each effort and failure revealing yet another dimension of inherited suffering. A flawless omnicient narrator, Attenberg even illuminates the life of the man who owns foodaholic Edie's favorite Chinese restaurant while executing perfect flashbacks and flash-forwards and subtly salting this irresistible family portrait with piquant social commentary. Kinetic with hilarity and anguish, romance and fury, Attenberg's rapidly consumed yet nourishing novel anatomizes our insatiable hunger for love, meaning, and hope. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Chopsticks - Amy Krouse Rosenthal


Chopsticks - Rosenthal, Amy Krouse

Summary: When a pair of chopsticks get separated, after some traumatic moments the two friends eventually learn to stand on their own.

Library Media Connection
Stuffed with puns, this "change in place setting, not exactly sequel to Spoon" (Disney Hyperion, 2009) will delight those who see all the clever artistic jokes. Best friends forever, chopsticks are one day separated when one suffers a break. Whisked away, chopstick's clean break can be repaired if he stays off it for a while. Knife, spoon, and fork are on-lookers who never remember seeing chopsticks separated. Independence and teamwork spice up the story. Magoon's inspired illustrations further extend the clever teasing. This is delightful for adult readers and illustrative of creative writing and whimsical art. Ann Bryan Nelson, Volunteer Media Specialist and Guest Teacher, Thompson Ranch Elementary School, Dysart Unified School District, Surprise, Arizona. ADDITIONAL SELECTION. Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Wild - Cheryl Strayed

Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Strayed, Cheryl

Summary: A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again.


Kirkus Reviews
Unsentimental memoir of the author's three-month solo hike from California to Washington along the Pacific Crest Trail. Following the death of her mother, Strayed's (Torch, 2006) life quickly disintegrated. Family ties melted away; she divorced her husband and slipped into drug use. For the next four years life was a series of disappointments. "I was crying over all of it," she writes, "over the sick mire I'd made of my life since my mother died; over the stupid existence that had become my own. I was not meant to be this way, to live this way, to fail so darkly." While waiting in line at an outdoors store, Strayed read the back cover of a book about the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially, the idea of hiking the trail became a vague apparition, then a goal. Woefully underprepared for the wilderness, out of shape and carrying a ridiculously overweight pack, the author set out from the small California town of Mojave, toward a bridge ("the Bridge of the Gods") crossing the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border. Strayed's writing admirably conveys the rigors and rewards of long-distance hiking. Along the way she suffered aches, pains, loneliness, blistered, bloody feet and persistent hunger. Yet the author also discovered a new found sense of awe; for her, hiking the PCT was "powerful and fundamental" and "truly hard and glorious." Strayed was stunned by how the trail both shattered and sheltered her. Most of the hikers she met along the way were helpful, and she also encountered instances of trail magic, "the unexpected and sweet happenings that stand out in stark relief to the challenges of the trail." A candid, inspiring narrative of the author's brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Law and disorder - John Douglas

Law and disorder: the legendary FBI profiler's relentless pursuit of justice - Douglas, John

Summary: The FBI's pioneer of criminal profiling and the person on whom the character Agent Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs is based, reflects on his nearly 40-year career during which he pursued, studied and interviewed such criminals as Charles Manson and David Berkowitz, and devoted his time helping the wrongfully accused and convicted. - (Baker & Taylor)

Kirkus Reviews
From a pioneer of behavioral analysis, a look at notorious murder investigations marred by controversy. Well-known FBI profiler Douglas has co-authored several books with Olshaker on this specialty (The Cases that Haunt Us, 2000, etc.). Here, he focuses on diverse cases that share one commonality: Either the investigation developed around false leads with disastrous results, or the actual killer was targeted yet saw justice confounded by similar procedural issues. "The role of the profiler is to redirect or refocus an investigation and to help police narrow and analyze their suspect list," he writes. The cases he discusses here are those he did not address as an active-duty agent, and he often wonders if he would have fared better as an investigator. In at least two cases, he reluctantly argues that wrongful convictions led to miscarriages of justice. William Heirens served a life sentence as Chicago's "Lipstick Killer," yet Douglas believes him innocent: "I would have considered him too young to…make the leap from petty burglaries to violent rapes and murders." He also argues that Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson murders of his children based on scientific theories that were disproven well before the execution. The author devotes long sections to two notorious cases: the murder of JonBenet Ramsey and the wrongfully convicted West Memphis Three. He consulted in both cases and remains convinced that shoddy evidence management, prosecutorial overreach and media frenzies led to false accusations with dreadful consequences. Douglas remains fascinated by the nitty-gritty of advanced investigation, and he smoothly explains key evidentiary details and psychological twists, though he becomes impatient with those who question his conclusions. Yet, his thesis remains bifurcated: He both agonizes over the prospect of an innocent person being executed and strongly argues that the death penalty ought to protect society from the "worst of the worst," sadistic repeat offenders like Ted Bundy. The prose is mostly workmanlike, but in a culture besotted with serial killers, Douglas can claim a rare authenticity regarding the evil that men do. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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The Richard Burton diaries - Richard Burton


The Richard Burton diaries - Burton, Richard

Summary: The personal diaries of the renowned actor and glamorous celebrity describe his life from 1939 to 1983 and his struggles with his weight, drinking, and jealousy when other men looked at the love of his life, Elizabeth Taylor. - (Baker & Taylor)


Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Nearly three decades after his sudden death, Burton is experiencing a pop-cultural rebirth. Most people remember the Welsh-born actor as the heavy-drinking fifth (and sixth!) husband of Elizabeth Taylor, with whom he made several films (most memorably the 1966 classic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the expensive 1963 fiasco Cleopatra) and whose combustible, extravagant, and scandal-ridden relationship with her will be dramatized later this month in the Lifetime television movie Liz & Dick. His personal musings about Taylor (plus scorn and praise for a plethora of his Tinseltown peers) are sure to be the most talked about here, but these diaries also provide a rounded portrait of a smart, witty, and doting husband and father. Burton squandered his once brilliant acting career, taking mediocre paycheck roles in later years, and battled enough demons to fill several lifetimes. For a true glimpse into the heart and mind of this wildly talented yet conflicted man—who garnered no less than seven Academy Award nominations, with no wins—this mammoth, unsanitized, and handsomely presented collection of Burton's innermost thoughts, along with the fascinating minutiae of a huge star's day-to-day existence, should restore his reputation as one of the most original Hollywood stars of all time. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Body Talk - Robyn (CD)


Body Talk - Robyn (CD)

Summary: 2010 release from the Swedish Pop sensation, the third and final album in Robyn's unique trilogy for 2010. Features five of the best tracks from Body Talk Pts One and Two plus five brand-spanking new songs from the ridiculously prolific pop star. Includes the singles `Hang With Me' and `Dancing on My Own' as well as 'Indestructible'. Island.

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Umbrellas of Cherbourg (DVD)


Umbrellas of Cherbourg (DVD)

Summary: Musical drama about two young lovers who are separated and marry others. - (Baker & Taylor)


Review
Thirty years after its release in 1964, this poignant romantic drama, in which virtually all of the dialogue is sung, was badly in need of restoration. The bright colors had faded and washed out in a haze of pink, and the film stock had badly aged. Fortunately, the movie was properly restored to its original splendor and rereleased to worldwide acclaim. Not only was this French romance a daring musical experiment (because the entire screenplay is a kind of epic song, beautifully scored by Michel Legrand), but it also introduced Catherine Deneuve, who was 20 years old when the film was released and became one of France's all-time screen legends. Deneuve plays a young woman in love with a local auto mechanic named Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) who has been drafted into the army. In his absence she learns that she is pregnant and then marries a rich man who agrees to raise the child. The bittersweet story follows what happens when Guy returns from service. To reveal anything more would be a disservice to anyone who hasn't seen this touchingly heartfelt film. --Jeff Shannon- Amazon.com

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Bonk - Mary Roach


Bonk - Roach, Mary

Summary: Roach shows how and why sexual arousal and orgasm can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to make the bedroom a more satisfying place.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* The New Yorker dubbed Roach "the funniest science writer in the country." OK, maybe there's not a lot of competition. But even if there were thousands of science-humor writers, she would be the sidesplitting favorite. Of course, she chooses good subjects: cadavers in Stiff (2003), ghosts in Spook (2005), and now a genuinely fertile topic in Bonk. As Roach points out, scientists studying sex are often treated with disdain, as though there is something inherently suspicious about the enterprise. Yet through understanding the anatomy, physiology, and psychology of sexual response, scientists can help us toward greater marital and nonmarital happiness. Such altruistic intentions, which the book shares, aren't the wellspring of its appeal, however. That lies in the breezy tone in which Roach describes erectile dysfunction among polygamists, penis cameras, relative organ sizes and enhancement devices, and dozens of other titillating subjects. Not to be missed: the martial art of yin diao gung ("genitals hanging kung fu"), monkey sex athletes, and the licensing of porn stars' genitals for blow-up reproductions. To stay on the ethical side of human-subjects experimentation, Roach offers herself as research subject several times, resulting in some of her best writing. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Angelmaker - Nick Harkaway


Angelmaker - Harkaway, Nick

Summary: Avoiding the lifestyle of his late gangster father by working as a clock repairman, Joe Spork fixes an unusual device that turns out to be a former secret agent's doomsday machine and incurs the wrath of the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Harkaway's celebrated debut, The Gone-Away World (2008), offered a gonzo take on postapocalyptic fiction, but it was really just a warm-up act—a prodigiously talented novelist stretching muscles that few other writers even possess—for this tour de force of Dickensian bravura and genre-bending splendor. At the center of the tale is a mild-mannered clockmaker in contemporary London, Joe Spork, who is doing his best to live down the legacy of his crime-boss father. Then an elderly lady, who happens to be a superspy from decades past, deposits a curious artifact on Joe's doorstop, and before you can say "doomsday machine," Joe's friends are being murdered, he's accused of terrorism, and he appears to be the only person with even an outside chance of saving humanity from a truly bizarre form of extinction: the doomsday machine, we learn gradually, was designed to bring world peace by forcing us to speak only the truth, but in the wrong hands, truth-telling can be the deadliest of weapons. Yes, there's espionage here, along with fantasy and more than a little steampunk, but there's also an overlay of gangster adventure, a couple of tender romance plots, and some fascinating reflections on fathers and sons and the tricky matter of forging a self in the shadow of the past. The latter is particularly interesting, as Harkaway is the son of John le CarrĂ©, and while he writes in an utterly different style and on a much grander scale than his father, the fact remains that—stripped of its mad monks and artificial bees and pre-Raphaelite craftsmen turned thugs—Harkaway's novel is at its core a powerful meditation on the anxiety of influence, similar in that way to his father's A Perfect Spy (1986). But influences aside, this is a marvelous book, both sublimely intricate and compulsively readable. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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The absolutely true diary of a part-time indian

Summary: Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.


Kirkus Reviews
Alexie nimbly blends sharp wit with unapologetic emotion in his first foray into young-adult literature. Fourteen-year-old Junior is a cartoonist and bookworm with a violent but protective best friend Rowdy. Soon after they start freshman year, Junior boldly transfers from a school on the Spokane reservation to one in a tiny white town 22 miles away. Despite his parents' frequent lack of gas money (they're a "poor-ass family"), racism at school and many crushing deaths at home, he manages the year. Rowdy rejects him, feeling betrayed, and their competing basketball teams take on mammoth symbolic proportions. The reservation's poverty and desolate alcoholism offer early mortality and broken dreams, but Junior's knowledge that he must leave is rooted in love and respect for his family and the Spokane tribe. He also realizes how many other tribes he has, from "the tribe of boys who really miss . . . their best friends" to "the tribe of tortilla chips-and-salsa lovers." Junior's keen cartoons sprinkle the pages as his fluid narration deftly mingles raw feeling with funny, sardonic insight. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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The end of your life book club - Will Schwalbe

The end of your life book club - Schwalbe, Will

Summary: Recounts how the author and his mother read and discussed books during her chemotherapy treatments, describing how the activity involved a wide range of literary genres, furthered their appreciation for literature, and strengthened their bond. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Schwalbe and his mother accidentally formed a book club in a cancer-treatment waiting room. As they discuss what they will read while Mary Anne is treated for pancreatic cancer, they deepen their already strong relationship. Schwalbe didn't plan to write this memoir as he was living it, so it's mostly nuggets of emotionally important remarks in the context of the development of his mother's illness. Will's love and respect for his mother shine through in the story of a remarkable woman's life, from how she helped refugees to her seeking to build libraries in Afghanistan. With 21 years of book-publishing experience, Schwalbe quickly introduces the books themselves in one or two paragraphs. The works they read offer a way to approach topics they otherwise wouldn't discuss, and the focus is more on what the books reveal than what happens in them. This touching and insightful memoir about the slow process of dying will appeal to readers of Tuesdays with Morrie (1997) and The Last Lecture (2008) but also to people who love delving into books and book discussions. Like Mary Anne, who reads the ending first, you know how this book is going to end, but although it is a story about death, it is mostly a celebration of life and of the way books can enrich it. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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The perks of being a wallflower - Stephen Chbosky


The perks of being a wallflower - Chbosky, Stephen

Summary: A series of letters to an unknown correspondent reveals the coming-of-age trials of a high-schooler named Charlie.



Booklist Reviews
" Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand." In his letters to a never-identified person, 15-year-old Charlie's freshman high-school year (1991^-92) and coming-of-age ring fresh and true. First-novelist Chbosky captures adolescent angst, confusion, and joy as Charlie reveals his innermost thoughts while trying to discover who he is and whom he is to become. Intellectually precocious, Charlie seems a tad too naive in many other ways, yet his reflections on family interactions, first date, drug experimentation, first sexual encounter, and regular participation in Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings are compelling. He vacillates between full involvement in the crazy course of his life and backing off completely. Eventually, he discovers that to be a whole person who knows how to be a real friend rather than a patsy, he must confront his past--and remember what his beloved, deceased Aunt Helen did to him. Charlie is a likable kid whose humor-laced trials and tribulations will please both adults and teens. ((Reviewed February 15, 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Into the wild - Eddie Vedder (CD)


Into the wild - Vedder, Eddie (CD)

Summary: Music for the motion picture into the wild




Review
Taking a break from his day job fronting rock heavyweight Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder immerses himself into the big-screen story of a young man who gives all his money to charity and hitchhikes to a new life--and his eventual death--in the wilds of Alaska. Prompted by the film's creator, Sean Penn, to contribute to the musical score, the Seattle musician tackled the entire project, playing every instrument on the soundtrack's nine original and two cover songs. Vedder contemplates the traveler "setting forth in the universe" in the opener "Setting Forth," then tracks in the remaining songs the realizations and disillusionments that follow. A wish comes true in banjo-plucked "No Ceiling" to "up and disappear," while affluence is questioned on the hard-rocking "Far Behind," with Vedder singing, "Empty pockets will/Allow a greater sense of wealth." No song in the album's first half exceeds two-and-a-half minutes, remedied by Vedder's pertinent five-minute stamp on the remake of Indio's "Hard Sun," complete with eerie backing vocals by Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker. The songwriter puts wealth on the hot seat in "Society," questioning, "If less is more/How you keepin' score?" The darkly sung folk song bookends the reticent declaration "Guaranteed," wonderfully delivered and quietly strummed, in which the prodigal Vedder wraps the journey in one line: "Leave it to me as I find a way to be/Consider me a satellite forever orbiting." (The record is packaged like a hardcover book, with vivid photography and lyrics.) --Scott Holter -Amazon.com

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Into the wild (DVD)


Into the wild (DVD)

Summary: Freshly graduated from college with a promising future ahead, Christopher McCandless walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people - a fearless risk-taker who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature. Based on a true story.


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Yards - Billy Goodnick

Yards: turn any outdoor space into the garden of your dreams - Goodnick, Billy

Summary: Nobody wants to spend time in a tired, underperforming yard. But how to achieve a low-cost, low-maintenance yard that's environmentally savvy as well as beautiful - a place that works for every need? Award-winning landscape architect and garden coach Billy Goodnick says, “Whether you're starting with bare ground or you're renovating an existing yard, you gotta have a plan.” With step-by-step, clear examples, he demystifies the planning process: from site analysis to lifestyle considerations to plant selection. It's all about training the eye to see the big picture first, so all the other pieces fall into place, leading to the outdoor environment of one's dreams. Full color photos throughout.- (Ingram Publishing Services)

"Billy Goodnick delivers the most laid-back, user-friendly, and entertaining garden advice you'll ever read. Invite him into your backyard--now!"
--Amy Stewart, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Plants

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The original soul sister - Sister Rosetta Tharpe (CD)

The original soul sister - Tharpe, Rosetta (CD)

Summary: Not only did Sister Roestta Tharpe play and sing gospel music with jazz groups in a show business environment, she was also the first artist to incorporate the city blues style from the 1930's with gospel music during the 1940's. A compelling performer and innovator, Sister Rosetta was a true star. This comprehensive 81 track set with its fabulous artwork, many pictures which have not been seen before, will render all other Sister Rosetta Tharpe collections redundant.

Staff Comments: Sister Rosetta Tharpe is a powerhouse!  Take the opportunity to watch some of her live performances and your mind will be blown by her awesomeness. 

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Ice Haven - Daniel Clowes

Ice Haven - Clowes, Daniel

Summary: Presents an offbeat tour of the sleepy Midwestern town of Ice Haven and its unusual inhabitants, including Random Wilder, the narrator and would-be poet laureate of the town; his arch-rival Ida Wentz; the lovelorn Violet Van der Plazt and Vida Wentz; and Mr. and Mrs. Ames, a detective team. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
/*Starred Review*/ Already highly regarded in alternative-comics circles for such impressive works as Ghost World (1997), Clowes takes his game to another, higher level in Ice Haven, surely one of the most accomplished graphic novels in recent memory. It is a tour-de-force made up of 29 interconnecting stories rendered in styles varying from mock documentary to pseudo-Peanuts, all depicting life in the town of Ice Haven, which is gripped by anxiety over a missing child. Clowes deftly brings an astonishing depth of characterization to a sizable cast that includes embittered poet Random Wilder; his amateur archrival, the grandmotherly Mrs. Ida Wentz; the husband-and-wife detective team investigating the child's disappearance; and Carmichael, a youngster obsessed by Leopold and Loeb. Although the work has a masterful formal complexity, the story itself is straightforward, and despite the emotional chilliness suggested by the town's name, Clowes exhibits a genuine, if submerged, sympathy for even the most misbegotten members of his cast. Ice Haven is relatively short for an ostensible novel--it's a reformatted version of a story that first appeared as a single issue of Clowes' comic book Eightball--but it possesses a depth that few other graphic novels achieve, regardless of their length. ((Reviewed July 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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The day the world discovered the sun - Mark Anderson

The day the world discovered the sun: and extraordinary story of scientific adventure and the race to track the transit of Venus - Anderson, Mark

Summary: In the tradition of Longitude, a page-turning story of eighteenth-century astronomers racing to find the distance to the sun and the keys to worldwide navigation. On June 3, 1769, the planet Venus briefly passed across the face of the sun in a cosmic alignment that occurs twice per century. Anticipation of the rare celestial event sparked a worldwide competition among aspiring global superpowers, each sending their own scientific expeditions to far-flung destinations to time the planet's trek. Anderson reveals the stories of three Venus Transit voyages-- to the heart of the Arctic, the New World, and the Pacific-- that risked every mortal peril of a candlelit age.

Kirkus Reviews
A scientific adventure tale in which astronomers risk their lives, traveling the high seas in winter, trekking over ice-bound Siberia and facing deadly diseases. Anderson ("Shakespeare" by Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man Who Was Shakespeare, 2005) examines the scope of the 18th-century international project to determine the distance between the earth and the sun by measuring the transit of the planet Venus across its surface. He compares it to recent investigations like the mapping of the human genome, NASA's Apollo program and the building of the Large Hadron Collider. In 1761 and again in 1769, teams of astronomers circumnavigated the globe to make precise measurements of the transit. Although England, France, Prussia, Austria and Russia were at war, they collaborated on this major scientific venture, a once-in-a-century opportunity. In both years, Venus was observed and timed as it appeared to traverse the sun, using trigonometric calculations to triangulate the distance. Anderson writes that this was a marriage of advanced science and technology with extreme adventure, resulting in spinoffs such as the development of precision timekeepers and the reliable calculations of longitude. The achievement was commemorated by "the Apollo 15 mission…command module [which] was named Endeavour"--after Captain Cook's ship--and carried "a block of wood from the sternpost of [his] original HMS Endeavour." In 1769, the ship carried England's crew and succeeded in its mission, despite suffering the tragic deaths of most of its scientific crew. While the trigonometric calculations were state-of-the-art, if tedious, transporting the telescopic equipment, building observatories on the spot, making the observations and braving the rigors of the journey were anything but. A lively, fitting tribute to "mankind's first international ‘big science' project." Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Restless Empire - Odd Arne Westad

Restless Empire: China and the world since 1750 - Westad, Odd Arne

Summary: A prize-winning historian and expert on Chinese foreign relations examines China's role in the world throughout recent centuries to demonstrate how its past is shaping the nation's future, explaining how Western influences have reinforced traditional Chinese mores while establishing potential international partnerships. - (Baker & Taylor)


Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* With the largest national population and soon the largest national economy. China appears to most internal and external observers to stand on the precipice of world dominance. But as Bancroft Award winner Westad makes abundantly clear, China's eventual hegemony in the global marketplace may rely more on overcoming internal obstacles and on cooperating with its close neighbors thanany challenges presented by an American-led West. Building a superb story of China's historically schizophrenic relationship with the outside world, Westad reaches back to the long twilight of the Qing dynasty, canvassing the nation's conflicts with Western imperialists, expansionist neighbors, and internal minorities and revealing a country in which the past threatens to overwhelm the present. However, it is the Chinese foreign-policy developments of the twentieth century, including the republic under Chiang Kai-shek, triumph of Mao's Communists, and economic transformation under Deng Xiaoping, that form the bulk of this compelling, expansive account.Westad has provided readers with both a remarkable and timely glimpsebehind the curtain that is required reading for anyone interested in Chinese political history and economic development and the future of China's position in the international community. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Confections of a closet master baker - Gesine Bullock-Prado

Confections of a closet master baker - Bullock-Prado, Gesine

Summary: "A former Hollywood insider chucks it all to become a master baker in this hilarious, poignant morsel of a memoir. As head of her celebrity sister's production company, Gesine Bullock-Prado had a closet full of designer clothes and the ear of all the influential movie studio heads. But she was miserable. The only solace she found was in her secret passion: baking..."--Dust jacket.

Booklist Reviews
On first face, Bullock-Prado's life seems wildly improbable. Born to an opera-singer mother and government-worker father, she toured the world's cultural capitals as her mother's career advanced. She eventually became an attorney and a Hollywood producer. Tiring of that life and happily married, she started a bakery in Vermont. Despite slim profit margins and long hours, she found herself completely content. She glories in the day-to-day creativity of the pastry chef and loves both her local staff and the customers who crowd into her shop every day for a cup of coffee and a croissant, a piece of cake, or one of her celebrated macaroons. Life is not always tranquil, especially when crews show up for food television tapings, or when her movie-star sister visits and does a turn as a salesgirl. Recipes for many of the confectionery's offerings appear, the most appealing featuring Vermont maple syrup. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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The disappearing spoon - Sam Kean

The disappearing spoon: and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of elements - Kean, Sam

Summary: The periodic table is one of man's crowning scientific achievements. But it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the 'frequently' mad scientists who discovered them.

Kirkus Reviews
In his debut, Science magazine reporter Kean uses the periodic table as a springboard for an idiosyncratic romp through the history of science.Ranking Dmitri Mendeleev's creation of the first version of the periodic table ("one of the great intellectual achievements of humankind") alongside achievements by Darwin and Einstein, the author extends the metaphor of a geographical map to explain how the location of each element reveals its role—hydrogen and chlorine in the formation of an acid, carbon as the building block of proteins, etc.—and how gaps in the table allowed for future discoveries of new elements. Kean presents the history of science beginning with Plato, who used the Greek word for element for the first time in the belief that elements are fundamental and unchanging. The author then looks at Marie Curie, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903 for her discovery that the radioactivity of uranium was nuclear rather than chemical. Kean suggests that nuclear science not only led to the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb, but was instrumental in the development of computers. The women employed by the Manhattan Project, he writes, in "hand-crunching long tables of data…became known by the neologism ‘computers.' " The author is a great raconteur with plenty of stories to tell, including that of Fritz Haber, the chemist who developed nitrogen fertilizer and saved millions from starvation, and applied his talents in World War I to creating poison gas, despite the protests of his wife, who committed suicide. "Between hydrogen at the top left and the man-made impossibilities lurking along the bottom," writes the author, "you can find bubbles, bombs, money, alchemy, petty politics, history, poison, crime, and love. Even some science." Nearly 150 years of wide-ranging science, in fact, and Kean makes it all interesting.Entertaining and enlightening. Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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The world according to Mr. Rogers - Fred Rogers


The world according to Mr. Rogers: important things to remember - Rogers, Fred

Summary: From the beloved late television icon comes a collection of inspirational stories, insights, anecdotes, and words of wisdom that celebrates the values of love, friendship, honest, respect, and individuality. - (Baker & Taylor)

Staff Comments:  Whenever the world has got me down I can just pick up this book and read any part of it at random and my faith in humanity is restored.  Mr. Rogers was indeed one of the most gentle souls to grace the earth, and we were all lucky to have him as a neighbor.   

Publishers Weekly Reviews
When he died in early 2003, Rogers was one of the most recognizable (and beloved) people on television, even though Mister Rogers' Neighborhood had actually stopped production a few years earlier. This small volume collects many of his writings-from songs he wrote for the show to his acceptance speech at the Television Hall of Fame-organized around themes like "The Courage to Be Yourself" and "We Are All Neighbors." The format is occasionally tantalizing: When he said, "I'm proud of you for the times you came in second, or third, or fourth, but what you did was the best you had ever done," was he talking to his TV neighbors, or to one of his own children? The few biographical hints his writings offer about the show's origins and his personal life, plus an introductory reminiscence by his widow, may leave many readers eager for a full biography. Every message is infused with a simplicity and sincerity that any child could understand, as when he describes September 11 as "what some people do when they don't know anything else to do with their anger." But ultimately the book isn't for kids, it's for adults who watched the show as children-and reminds readers that before we learned everything we needed to know in kindergarten, or had our first taste of chicken soup for the soul, Rogers taught valuable lessons about playing make-believe, keeping one's promises, finding strength through helping others and not being afraid to cry. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Justy my type - Simon Garfield


Just my type: a book about fonts - Garfield, Simon

Summary: A romp through the history of fonts and the lives of the great typographers, revealing the extent to which fonts are not only shaped by but also define the world in which we live.

Booklist Reviews
After confessing his stamp-collecting obsession in The Error World (2008), Garfield shares his ardor for typefaces in this ambushing and revelatory celebration. He begins by praising the computer's role in making us all font-savvy as we select among familiar and exotic offerings, from Arial to Ravie. But this easy access belies the deep story of the creation of alphabets from Gutenberg on. Garfield opens our eyes to type's technical evolution, the subtleties of font design (beauty versus readability), how type has gender, and even "type etiquette." But this isn't all p's and q's. Garfield matches flesh to type in avid profiles of gifted typographers, including the scandalous Eric Gill, Claude Garamond, John Baskerville, Frederic Goudy, and Luc(as) de Groot, creator of Calibri, which "has changed the whole look of mass communication." Signage, political campaigns, newspapers, websites, the ubiquitous Helvetica—how profoundly type shapes our world! Garfield's romping history (with multitype text) is zestfully informative. And who can resist a book with the sentence, "Hermann Zapf will always be remembered for his dingbats"? Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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