Jan 6, 2015

The family Romanov - Candace Fleming

The family Romanov - Fleming, Candace

Summary: Traces the story of the Russian Revolution, the lives of the Romanov family, and the story of their tragic deaths, in an account that draws on primary source materials and includes period photography.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* History comes to vivid life in Fleming's sweeping story of the dramatic decline and fall of the House of Romanov. Her account provides not only intimate portraits of Tsar Nicholas; his wife, Alexandra; and the five Romanov children, but it also offers a beautifully realized examination of the context of their lives—Russia in a state of increasing social unrest and turmoil. The latter aspect is shown in part through generous excerpts from letters, diaries, memoirs, and more that are seamlessly interspersed throughout the narrative. All underscore the incredible disparity between the glittering lives of the Romanovs and the desperately impoverished ones of the peasant population. Instead of attempting to reform this, Nicholas simply refused to acknowledge its presence, rousing himself only long enough to order savage repression of the occasional uprising. Fleming shows that the hapless tsar was ill equipped to discharge his duties, increasingly relying on Alexandra for guidance; unfortunately, at the same time, she was increasingly reliant on the counsel of the evil monk Rasputin. The end, when it came, was swift and—for the Romanovs, who were brutally murdered—terrible. Compulsively readable, Fleming's artful work of narrative history is splendidly researched and documented. For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming's extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Check Availability

Red Rising Trilogy - Pierce Brown

Red Rising Trilogy - Brown, Pierce

Summary: Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow-and Reds like him-are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society's ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Booklist Reviews
A lot happens in this first installment of a projected trilogy. Darrow, living in a mining colony on Mars, sees his wife executed by the government, nearly dies himself, is rescued by the underground revolutionary group known as Sons of Ares, learns his government has been lying to him (and to everybody else), and is recruited to infiltrate the inner circle of society and help to bring it down from within—and that's all inside the first 100 pages. This is a very ambitious novel, with a fully realized society (class structure is organized by color: Darrow is a Red, a worker, a member of the lower class) and a cast of well-drawn characters. Although it should appeal to all age groups, there is a definite YA hook: despite being a veteran miner and a married man, Darrow is 16 when the novel begins. If told well, stories of oppression and rebellion have a built-in audience, and this one is told very well indeed. A natural for Hunger Games fans of all ages. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Check Availability

Jan 1, 2015

Yes please - Amy Poehler

Yes please - Poehler, Amy

Summary: The actress best known for her work on "Parks and Recreation" and "Saturday Night Live" reveals personal stories and offers her humorous take on such topics as love, friendship, parenthood, and her relationship with Tina Fey.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* This book is heavy. Literally heavy, as in surprisingly hard to carry around. Perhaps that's because it's so firmly packed with wit and insight. And all that insight makes it figuratively heavy as well, though you might not notice because of all the wit. Fans of Poehler and her offbeat characters expect her to be outrageous (I'm looking at you, Amber, one-legged, gassy reality star), and there's some of that here, but mostly this is a sweet, funny memoir and a thoughtful look at what it takes to be a woman, a woman in comedy, a divorced woman with children, and, peering into the future, a 90-year-old woman who has plenty of advice to offer middle-aged Amy. In fact, there's lots of advice given here, and it's smart, the kind of stuff your favorite aunt would tell you, albeit, an aunt who once shot a moose on the "Weekend Update" set while rapping alongside Sarah Palin. She addresses how to treat your career (like a bad boyfriend); how not to torture other women about their life choices; ways to shut people up about your newly single status ("Hey, lady, I don't want to fuck your husband"). With so much to enjoy and absorb, you may even want to carry this book around, reread it, and underline pertinent-to-your-own-life sentences, which would be perfectly reasonable, except for the fact that it's so darn heavy. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Check Availability

We are not ourselves - Matthew Thomas

We are not ourselves - Thomas, Matthew

Summary: Raised by her Irish immigrant parents in a 1940s Queens apartment where alcohol and company combine in mercurial ways, Eileen marries an unambitious scientist with whom she endures an increasingly psychologically dark family life. A first novel. - (Baker & Taylor)

Library Journal Reviews

This epic and emotionally draining novel is centered on the life of Eileen Tumulty who lives in Queens, NY, in the mid-20th century. An only child of Irish parents, Eileen is smart and ambitious and looking for a better life for herself. She's moving ahead in her career in nursing when she meets and marries Ed Leary, a PhD student in neurochemistry who decides he will teach at a community college despite more lucrative and prestigious offers. As years go by and the neighborhood changes, Eileen is desperate to move from their multiple-family home to the suburbs, but the entrenched and increasingly eccentric Ed is adamant about staying put. The house they finally move to is beyond their means and needs work, and though Ed has the skills, it soon becomes apparent that the project is beyond him. A doctor's visit reveals deeper trouble that presages Ed's long, slow, painful decline. VERDICT The debut author has created a memorable character in Eileen, who is both intelligent and clueless, focusing on her ideals and fantasies and attempting vainly to make reality conform to her aspirations. The depiction of Ed's illness is realistic, powerful, artistically delivered, and occasionally humorous, and readers will be drawn in. [See Prepub Alert, 3/3/14; see also Thomas's address to librarians at an S. & S. Adult Librarian Preview, p. 90.]—James Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Lib.

Check Availability

El deafo - Cece Bell

El deafo - Bell, Cece

Summary: A poignant graphic tale based on the creator's own experiences with hearing loss follows the adventures of young Cece, who develops "superpowers" to manage the challenges of making friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid that sometimes lets her hear things she shouldn't. By the Geisel Honor-winning creator of Rabbit & Robot. Simultaneous. - (Baker & Taylor)

Kirkus Reviews
A humorous and touching graphic memoir about finding friendship and growing up deaf. When Cece is 4 years old, she becomes "severely to profoundly" deaf after contracting meningitis. Though she is fitted with a hearing aid and learns to read lips, it's a challenging adjustment for her. After her family moves to a new town, Cece begins first grade at a school that doesn't have separate classes for the deaf. Her nifty new hearing aid, the Phonic Ear, allows her to hear her teacher clearly, even when her teacher is in another part of the school. Cece's new ability makes her feel like a superhero—just call her "El Deafo"—but the Phonic Ear is still hard to hide and uncomfortable to wear. Cece thinks, "Superheroes might be awesome, but they are also different. And being different feels a lot like being alone." Bell (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, 2012) shares her childhood experiences of being hearing impaired with warmth and sensitivity, exploiting the graphic fo rmat to amplify such details as misheard speech. Her whimsical color illustrations (all the human characters have rabbit ears and faces), clear explanations and Cece's often funny adventures help make the memoir accessible and entertaining. Readers will empathize with Cece as she tries to find friends who aren't bossy or inconsiderate, and they'll rejoice with her when she finally does. Worthy of a superhero. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Check Availability

The queen of Tearling - Erika Johansen

The queen of Tearling - Johansen, Erika

Summary: Coming out of exile to ascend her rightful throne, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, with a cadre of soldiers and the magical Tearling sapphire to protect her, makes a daring decision that evokes the wrath of the evil Red Queen. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Although the setting resembles medieval times, this story takes place far in the future. Following a mysterious cataclysmic event referred to as the Crossing, humans now exist without modern technology and have reverted back to feudalism. At the story's opening, Kelsea, the rightful Queen of the Tearling, turns 19 (the age of ascension) and is escorted by the Queen's Guard from her forest home to claim her throne. Raised, educated, and protected by an elderly couple since birth, Kelsea possesses much book intelligence but lacks practical political knowledge. Nevertheless, she is everything one desires in a leader—she is strong, decisive, just, and possesses an inner strength that allows her to face any challenge placed in front of her. However, her challenges seem insurmountable and include the need to abolish the slave lottery that plagues her people. In an impressive start to a series, Johansen expertly incorporates magic necklaces, political intrigue, questions of honor, well-drawn characters, and a bit of mystery into a compelling and empowering story. As much is (understandably) left unexplained, it will be interesting to see where future installments take this series. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Check Availability

Ghost wars - Steve Coll

Ghost wars - Coll, Steve

Summary: Provides a comprehensive overview of the CIA's and other covert agencies' operations in Afghanistan, from the Soviet invasion in 1979 through the summer of 2001, detailing the rise of the Taliban and bin Laden, the secret efforts of the CIA to capture or kill bin Laden since 1998, and their failure to stop bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the events of September 11th. Reprint. - (Baker & Taylor)

Choice Reviews
Much like George Crile's Charlie Wilson's War (2003) and Richard Clarke's recent bombshell Against All Enemies (2004), Coll, a managing editor of The Washington Post, sets the stage by focusing on Afghanistan. Coll considers Afghanistan ready-made for Islamic terrorism, and accentuates that there is enough blame to tarnish everyone associated with the covert war against the Soviets, especially those who bankrolled jihadists to oust the Russians from the region. All of the parties in the anti-Soviet jihad had rather narrow parochial interests, particularly the Pakistanis and Saudis, who sought to install a friendly Islamist regime in Kabul. Totally oblivious to the dangers of Islamic radicalism, the CIA initially accepted the Pakistani agenda despite warnings to the contrary, and failed to support any alternative to the Taliban. The Agency (as the CIA is often characterized) was hampered by overly legalistic interpretations of lethal force, Coll notes, just when Langley finally grasped the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Readers seeking additional information beyond the 9/11 Commission hearings can turn to this engaging and thought-provoking account, which explains the coming tragedy of 9/11. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. Copyright 2004 American Library Association.

Check Availability

Engineers of victory - Paul M Kennedy

Engineers of victory - Kennedy, Paul M

Summary: Analyzes previously unexplored strategic factors that contributed to the Allied victory in World War II, sharing assessments of ambitious goals successfully pursued by FDR, Churchill, and other attendees at the Casablanca Conference. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
There's a simple explanation for the result of World War II: the Allies marshalled more military power than the Axis. While true, Professor Kennedy, the eminent author of many popular histories, would grade that explanation "incomplete." He places a fuller interpretation on the chronological fulcrum of the global conflict, 1943, when Germany and Japan bestrode most of their conquered territories and seas, their armed forces battered but dangerous. For the Allies, someone had to devise applications of superior strength to numerous technical and strategic problems, and Kennedy elaborates five interlocking narratives of who these individuals were and what they did. Concerning amphibious landings, Kennedy elides pre-war planners of such operations with wartime designers of landing craft; ditto with theoreticians and practitioners of air power, supremacy in which was critical for the success of any invasion from sea. When Kennedy dwells on weapons like the P-51 fighter, the T-34 tank, or the Essex-class aircraft carrier, he treats them less as war-winning icons than as data for his ideas about running organizations, WWII being his case study. High authorial eminence ensures attention from the WWII readership. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Check Availability