Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Start Your Ovens!

Some of you are old hats at preparing a Thanksgiving feast, but I'm still relatively new to the game. This year will be my fourth year preparing Thanksgiving for my family, so I'm still perfecting my game. Sam Sifton's new book Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well has been getting a bit of press, so I thought I'd check it out.

I was surprised to see what a slim little book it is. At 133 pages, it's practically shorter than the instructions for just cooking the turkey in Cook's Illustrated! On the one hand, I found it to be a little Martha Stewart-ish: "A correctly set Thanksgiving table is of paramount importance to the success of your meal... Thanksgiving is a holiday that calls for a table set as if for a sacrament." Wow. No pressure or anything. On the other hand, he does give me a pass on putting out appetizers and serving a salad. He advises not to fill people up with appetizers and salads. Thanksgiving is a day for rich foods and it's ok to skip the salad. Noted. Striking the salad from my menu. A quick little read with some helpful tips, although I'm sticking with the Cook's Illustrated turkey recipe, as it never fails.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (and Land)

Travel books are one of the most popular types of books in our non-fiction book collection.  Lots of people like to check out travel books before they go to a new destination so they know what sights to see and good restaurants to try.  Your basic travel book has listings for the sights, hotels, and restaurants.  The Unofficial Guides to Walt Disney World and Land are a little different.  If you are planning a trip with your family to either of the Walt Disney resorts these guide books are a must have.  The Unofficial Guides are designed to help you create a strategy for dealing with the crowds and lines at both locations.  If you use these guides they will save you a huge chunk of time and aggravation and will make your visit to the Magic Kingdom so much more enjoyable.

What the Unofficial Guides do is explain how the parks work at both Disney World and Disney Land and how to best take advantage of the ways things work.  The books explain when the best times to visit are based on how busy the parks are.  They also explain how the lines work for each of the rides and how to best avoid those lines.  They give you a clear and easy to understand method for how to get in the most rides while avoided the long lines.  You'll feel like an "insider" while you rush through the fast pass line at Space Mountain at 2pm with the free fast pass ticket you picked up at 10am.  These books go as far as providing a detailed itinerary explaining what rides you should go to and when.  For instance, go to the Peter Pan ride as soon as the park opens.  Otherwise you'll be in line for at least an hour.

What is nice as well is although they provide a detailed itinerary for what rides to do when it is also fairly flexible.  The book explains the system they use and how to use that system to develop your own itinerary as well.

Each ride is also rated for how fun it is along with how kid friendly it is as well as if you should ride it if you have issues with motion sickness.  All of the other features of the parks including every restaurant and hotel is also rated in terms of quality and price.  There are also insider tips about how to deal with disabled guests, elderly guests, babies & toddlers, large groups, and the special events that happen throughout the year.

These are perhaps some of the most useful travel books on the market.  They provide clear results if you follow their advice.  You'll end up saving literally hours of time each day by not standing in long lines.  These are travel books that will truly enhance and improve your trip.  If you are planning a trip to either Disney Land or World you MUST read these books before your trip.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Meet the Author!

Join us on October 9th at 7pm at the Deerfield High School Auditorium.
Author Cory Doctorow will discuss his novel Little Brother,
the 2012 One Book One Zip Code selection.
Register now!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

Joe Sacco occupies an interesting niche in the world of graphic novels.  Sacco has created his own unique sub-genre of graphic novel journalism.  In his best works Sacco visits various hot spots in the world just as the average journalist does.  But instead of writing stories about what he sees and who he interviews, he draws comics in a graphic novel form.  His work is unique as his drawings often capture scenes and faces in a way that makes the people that you read about seem more real, perhaps more human, than they would be if you were just reading about them in print.

Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” is a collaboration between the liberal writer Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, who provides the illustrations.  It is a fascinating look at current conditions in the United States.  In the past all of Joe Sacco’s works have taken place in far flung places around the world that are desperate in some way.  The West Bank, Yugoslavia during the civil wars there, Iraq, but this book is placed right here at home.  Sacco and Hedges visit four of the most economically depressed places they can find in the USA.  Each spot seems to be a perfect representation of the problems that face different types of people in our country.  The problems of First Tribe Native Americans are shown by visiting and talking to people who live on the reservation at Pine Ridge, South Dakota.  Then we visit Camden, New Jersey, a formally thriving industrial center that is now a wasteland, which seems to represent the plight of African Americans.  Then Hedges and Sacco visit several small towns in West Virginia that have been decimated by hilltop removal mining.  The residents of these towns are all white and many remember the days when the unions were strong.  Finally they visit the town of Imoakalee Florida, a center of migrant workers who work in virtual slavery, to represent the plight of Latinos in this country.

The book shows four distinct areas in the country, and four distinct ethnic groups, and yet they are all linked by the fact that each area has been destroyed by the economic greed of corporations and capitalists.  These are the people where the social safety net has completely failed and they seem to have no hope.  This is a deeply disturbing and grim book.  It’s not light reading.  It also is unapologetic about representing an extremely liberal point of view, especially in Chris Hedges writing.  In many ways it shows how effective Joe Sacco’s own work is.  Chris Hedges is an excellent writer but sometimes his prose seems so one sided that there is little room for any grey areas or debate.  Joe Sacco’s drawings however, let the characters tell their own stories, and it’s up to the reader to interpret them in their own way.  Their two different approaches work well together and seem to strengthen their argument that something is terribly wrong with the economic structures that are in place in the USA.  There have been many reviews written about “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” that say it’s one of the most important books that has come out about the current state of our country.  If nothing else it is an amazing eye opening look into four cities in the USA that seem to be more like they are from the third world than our own country.  After reading this you might find it hard to believe that these cities and conditions like this even exist in our own country.  But they do.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

When I was a teenager I read a lot of Science Fiction.  I was very much into the "golden era" of SciFi and loved Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov.  The last SciFi book I remembered reading was "Neuromancer" by William Gibson and it was fantastic, but that was twenty years ago.  It recently hit me that perhaps I should give the genre another chance but I wanted to read something current.  I assumed there were new and exciting Science Fiction writers out there but who were they?

I did a little research and discovered that indeed there is a whole new generation of current SciFi authors who are writing fantastic stuff.  Connie Willis, China Mieville, Paolo Bacigalupi, Robert Charles Wilson, and Neil Gaiman are all current authors who are considered some of the top SciFi writers of today.  One name, Cory Doctorow, caught my eye however because I had read some of his technology articles in various magazines.  I had known him from his work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Creative Commons.  I had no idea he was also known for writing Science Fiction.  "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" got fantastic reviews so I thought I would give it a try.  I was so happy that I did.

"Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" is a great Science Fiction novel.  Like most great SciFi novels his ideas about the future and how technology will be used is amazing, but the story itself is also very interesting and gripping.  What also made it interesting for me is the setting for most of the story, Disney World, and more specifically The Haunted Mansion.  I've been to both Disney World and Disney Land and in both places The Haunted Mansion was perhaps my favorite ride.  It was fascinating to read a book that imagines what Disney World will be like in the future.

What I also found interesting about "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" is this it is a very "current" SciFi book.  This book couldn't have been written 20 or 30 years ago.  It is a book written by someone who is very familiar with the technology of today and imagines where that technology will lead us in another couple of hundred years.  If you are not familiar with current concepts of Web 2.0 and social media you will simply not "get" a lot of the book.  In many ways the book itself is very cutting edge.

Then there is the plot itself.  In many ways this book is a good old fashioned "who done it" murder mystery.  The only difference being that in this world everyone can live forever so the main character spends most of the book trying to figure out who killed him.  If you die in an accidental death a doctor uses a cloned body and dumps your more recently downloaded set of your memories into the new body.  As long as you've been doing your backups in a timely way you'll be OK and come back alive with most of your memories.  But bad luck if you haven't done a backup in say, a year, because then you've lost any memory of what happened in the last year of you life.  (This ends up being a key "clue" in this murder mystery)  So remember to back up your data!  Sound familiar?

I think often people dismiss the Science Fiction genre as being nerdy or geeky or whatever.  But think of how many big budget films are based on Science Fiction novels?  I could easily see "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" being turned into an amazing film.  The story itself is so interesting that I think any number of readers would enjoy the book.  So if you're looking for something a little different and would like to check out one of the great new current Science Fiction writers check out "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom".

PS - Because Cory Doctorow published this book under the Creative Commons license it is available as a free digital download from Project Gutenberg.  You can download the eBook for free here.  Otherwise feel free to come into the Deerfield Public Library and check out our copy of the book.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

John Wayne Gacy

I'll admit it.  I like non-fiction and I like true crime books.  I'd rather read about a real killer than read a mystery.  I started reading, "John Wayne Gacy:  Defending a Monster" by Sam Amirante thinking it would be a true crime book in the vein of "In Cold Blood", but it turned out to be a little different and very interesting indeed.  It was one of those books that I couldn't stop reading and I was constantly thinking about while I was reading it.

"John Wayne Gacy:  Defending a Monster" was written by Sam Amirante who was one of Gacy's defense lawyers during his trial.  The book begins by going into detail about Gacy's final victim and murder and then goes into detail about Gacy's life story.  Then the book tells the story of the police investigation and the eventual trial.  The story of the police investigation was fascinating.  The police had searched his house several times and followed him for months but couldn't find any evidence that he had done anything wrong.  What ended up turning the investigation around was a receipt from a set of pictures to be developed that they found in Gacy's garbage.  From that one receipt the police detectives were able to prove that the last victim had been at Gacy's house.  If they hadn't investigated where the receipt came from he might still be free.

Where the book got interesting for me was during the trial.  Before he was apprehended by the police, John Wayne Gacy confessed his crimes to Sam Amirante in his office late one night.  Sam Amirante knew he was defending a dangerous serial killer.  The book gets into the question that I've often asked myself, "how could anyone defend someone like that in a trial?  Especially if you knew they were guilty?"

Sam Amirante answers this question in a very patriotic american way.  In his opinion the american system of justice is the greatest system developed in the entire world.  Where even a dangerous serial killer can get a fair trial.  He makes it very clear that he had no intention of trying to set Gacy free, or getting him off in some way.  That wasn't his job.  His job was to make sure his client was treated fairly, that the rule of the law was followed, and that Gacy got the sentence he deserved.  This book really did make me rethink the role of the defense lawyer in our justice system.

What was also fascinating to me was how the book ended.  Sam Amirante ended up being a judge and only recently retired.  While he was a judge he fought to change the laws and procedures for how police departments investigate missing children cases.  One of the difficulties facing police during their investigations of Gacy was that police departments had to wait 72 hours before beginning a search for a missing person.  Judge Sam Amirante fought to have this changed in the case of minors.  Ultimately his hard work for this cause ended up creating our current Amber Alert system.  At the end of the book he argues that this was a direct result of being involved in the Gacy case and seeing a flaw in the system.  Police had to have the ability to look for missing children right away.  He ends the book by stating that Gacy's victims didn't die in vain because of this.  Thus, this book about one of the most horrible killers in history, ended with a reflective and positive note.  If you are interested in a true crime story that much more to offer I would highly recommend this book.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Maybe it makes sense to simply give the wolves your address. In this coming of age novel, 14-year-old June Elbus would prefer to stop time--or better yet, step back into a romanticized medieval period complete with cloisters, music and dress. But it's 1987 and her Uncle Finn is dying of AIDS. Losing the one person who sees her so clearly will force June to explore her family relationships, understand Finn's love for his partner Toby, watch talent be embraced or denied, and discover ways to take care of others--in time foreshortened by a plague of medieval proportions.

I love books that keep me thinking about their themes and characters long after I've finished, and this is one of them. June is beautifully drawn, in that awkward time as childhood ends. Wolves appear as villains and protectors.  Time is captured in art, music, drama, architecture, and the moments we spend with each other.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home...pull up a comfortable chair and settle into this terrific debut novel by Carol Rifka Brunt.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Drop Dead Healthy

There are a bazillion books purporting to have the latest, greatest information about health and what you can do to lose weight or increase your life span. I used to read some of these from time to time, but I started getting tired of the conflicting messages and crazy regimes that so many of them suggest. Now I usually steer clear of "health" books unless I think there's a very good reason for picking one up. A. J. Jacobs is that reason. When I saw the title of his new book: Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, I knew I would read this. If you aren't familiar with Jacobs, he does what some people refer to as "stunt journalism" or "year of" writing: the author undertakes a project or lifestyle for a year in order to write about it. Jacobs has also written The Year of Living Biblically (which is self-explantory) and The Know-It-All, where he read the entire encyclopedia.

In his latest adventure Jacobs attempts to try all of the things that people claim will make you healthy, from simply exercising to wearing noise-cancelling headphones and taking testosterone supplements. Jacobs takes on every aspect of the body-not just the expected heart and stomach, but also the teeth, feet, skin, etc. He visits experts and consults scientific studies. His writing, as always, is entertaining and humorous. I appreciated that Jacobs cut through all the debates and tells the reader which recommendations actually have scientific data backing it up. In the end, he identifies what he thinks are the most important things he should be doing, and his own personal family experiences show that even if you do everything right, you can still get sick. I felt like much of what he determines to be important, I already knew and have been trying to do myself. But he does have some good tips for sticking with it (Thinking about eating that cupcake? Write out a check to the KKK and have a friend mail it if you give in.) He also reminds us of the importance of things like flossing and reducing our exposure to noise. His success in creating a less sedentary life is probably one of the most important lessons of his experience and the one I know I need the most help with. Treadmill at the reference desk? Not such a crazy idea.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron

May 19, 1941 - June 26, 2012
Sadly, Nora Ephron died yesterday from pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukemia. Ephron was a filmmaker, director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, playwright, journalist, author, and blogger. She is best known for her romantic comedies and was a triple nominee for the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay for three films: Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally... and Sleepless in Seattle. Her last film was Julie & Julia.  Ephron has published a number of humorous books, including I Feel Bad About My Neck, I Remember Nothing, and Heartburn.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

The shortlist for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were just announced. The awards were established in 2012 to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. The winners will be announced at ALA's annual convention in June. The finalists are:

 In Fiction:

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
An intelligent and fearlessly sympathetic portrait of a group of society’s outsiders—sex offenders—that illuminates the moral complexities at the heart of our justice system.

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
The vicissitudes of extramarital love and the obstructions to its smooth flow—including spouses, children, and the necessary secrecy surrounding an affair—are charted in sharp yet supple prose.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
This dazzlingly inventive first novel introduces 12-year-old gator-wrestling Ava Bigtree and her eccentric family, whose lives (and the Florida theme park they run) straddle the boundaries between the real and the surreal.
For Nonfiction:

 The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick
A comprehensive study describing the melodious interplay between science and literature documents the transmission of human knowledge from talking drums to the Internet.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
This definitive work on the life of the Malcolm X corrects previous misconceptions and offers new information about the charismatic leader’s life and death during the turbulent years of the civil rights era.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert Massie
A compulsively readable biography of the fascinating woman who, through a combination of luck, personality, and a fine mind, rose from her birth as a minor German princess to become the Empress of all the Russias.
Who is your pick?  (I'm pulling for Russell Banks, although I haven't read the Enright book, which is probably phenomenal.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Downton Abbey Fever

Like so many others, I caught the Downton Abbey fever. I ploughed through seasons 1 and 2 and now I'm left waiting until 2013 for season 3. What to do? Fortunately, so many readers have come up with read-alike suggestions for books to tide us over while we wait. I found two great reads that hit the spot.

While not set during the exact same time period as Downton, Daisy Goodwin's novel The American Heiress takes place few years before. Think a young Cora Crawley as she is just married to Earl Grantham. At the turn of the 20th century, wealthy American heiress Cora Cash is seeking a husband that will give her a title. While visiting England, she meets the Duke of Wareham, one of the most eligible bachelors in the country. The Duke needs an infusion of money to maintain his estate and lifestyle, so Cora's money makes her an appealing choice. The two quickly become engaged and marry. Despite it being a very advantageous marriage for both parties, Cora and the Duke seem to love each other as well. But the Duke's frequent lapses into silent and distant moods and the whispers and rumors that Cora picks up, leave her wondering about her husband's love life before their marriage. The story captures the fascinating details of the lives of English royalty as well as those who lived below stairs.

Did you know that there are still countesses and duchesses living in castles in England? There are. Lady Fiona Carnarvon is the Countess of Carnarvon and currently lives in Highclere Castle, which readers will recognize as Downton Abbey. Highclere is the setting for Downton and much of its own history is incorporated into the series. In Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle, Carnarvon details the real life of the former Countess of Carnarvon, who like Cora Crawley, brought an infusion of wealth to Highclere Castle and did much for her country during World War I. Almina was also a wealthy heiress, and used much of her wealth to update the Castle, including installing electricity. She threw lavish weekend parties, with royal guests, including the Prince of Wales. When her husband suffered an accident and struggled with ongoing illnesses, Almina discovered a talent and passion for nursing. When war broke out, she turned Highclere Castle into a hospital for wounded soldiers, and later as demand grew, moved the hospital to London, funding the venture with her own money. The story is filled with fascinating details of the time period, the lifestyles of the aristocracy, and the way a house like Highclere is run.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chickens in Deerfield?

There was an article in the Deerfield Review last week about the Village discussing the possibility of allowing residents to keep chickens. I was so excited to read this! I would love to have chickens, so if the village of Deerfield decides to allow it, maybe my suburb will get on board. Keeping chickens in urban areas is becoming popular, although many people still aren't too keen on the idea. People worry about noise, cleanliness, destruction of gardens, etc. The Library just got a new book that's perfect for people who are thinking about keeping chickens, or if you just want to know a little more about keeping chickens in an urban setting. Free-Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom shows how you can keep chickens in your yard while still having a nice garden. She illustrates how to design your garden and coop and provides suggestions for plants that are chicken-friendly. She also provides descriptions of different breeds of chickens. Did you know that there are some breeds of chickens that are smaller and quieter, making them better suited to urban living? I would encourage Deerfield residents who are on the fence with the chicken issue to stop by and check out this book.

If you're interested in reading more about urban farming, check out our ebook, The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals by Gail Damerow. It's a great resource for keeping animals such as chickens, bees and goats.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fifty Shades of Blushing

E. L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey is the most in-demand title we've had since The Help came out in 2009. It's the title everyone is talking about. James has made her way through the morning news circuit and Fifty Shades is currently riding the #1 spot on the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list. I first heard about this title a few months ago when I got a request from a patron. Then I got another request. And another. I started asking whether any of my colleagues had heard of this book. No one had, so I did a little research. It turned out that James is a British writer and had published the title through a very small Australian publisher. The book hadn't been reviewed by any of the typical sources librarians use when selecting materials to purchase, so I decided to pass on purchasing it. But the requests kept coming and finally it got onto the Times list, and I knew we had to purchase a copy. One copy. Then three copies. Now eleven copies! For a first-time author from a small press that hadn't been reviewed by any major source, this doesn't happen often. So why does everyone want this book?

I have heard numerous times the whispered remark from patrons: "I've heard it's practically porn." Yes, Fifty Shades is an erotic romance novel. When I read descriptions of the novel, I frequently saw the term "BDSM" (bondage, dominance, submission, masochism) linked to it. Really? This many people want to read BDSM fiction? I was perplexed. As put off as I was by that description, I decided that I needed to see for myself why so many women wanted to read this book. Maybe we have a demand for erotic fiction that the library isn't meeting?
Fifty Shades of Grey features Anastasia Steele, a college senior who is still a virgin. When she interviews the wealthy 27-year-old businessman Christian Grey for the school's newspaper, the chemistry between them is palpable. After a few encounters, they can no longer deny that there is something between them. Ana believes this could be the beginning of a romance, but Christian admits that he is not interested in a typical relationship. Christian is a dominant and wants Ana to engage in a relationship as his submissive. Ana is shocked and scared by the idea of this, but her desire for Christian is so strong that she is willing to give it a try.

I found myself torn over this book. On the one hand, the writing is extremely flawed, the dialogue is awkward, and I felt Christian's character wasn't believable. On the other hand, I get why the book is appealing to readers. The story is a typical romance story at its core: sexy, yet troubled boy meets innocent girl; sparks fly; girl hopes she can "save" boy and they will live happily ever after. Add to that a fast pace and super-steamy sex, and you have a hot page-turner. I was concerned about the BDSM aspect, but it wasn't as horrifying as I imagined, just not my cup of tea. I was also concerned that the story would support the idea that causing pain to women is acceptable, but it doesn't. In fact, I was surprised that Ana actually stood up for herself in the end, which I found satisfying. I am curious to find out more about Christian Grey and how he became the way he is, so I'll join the building waiting list for Fifty Shades Darker. This book raises so many questions, that I think it would make an interesting discussion. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Autobiography of Malcolm X

It may sound rather silly to say this but, one of the joys of working in a library is that it is filled with great old books!  I think sometimes as librarians we forget that.  We spend a lot of our time thinking about new books.  We read reviews of new books.  We order new books.  It seems we tend to read a lot of new books when they come out.  Sometimes I almost forget that I work in a library that is full of fantastic old books as well.

I had a patron come into the library about a month ago who asked me for some help finding a good biography for a freshman in high school.  The light bulb went off in my head and I recommended "The Autobiography of Malcolm X".  She thought it was a great recommendation and checked one of our two copies.  It hit me that I hadn't read this book in almost 20 years.  I decided to check out our other copy to read it again.

I started to read it and remembered immediately why I loved it so much the first several times I read it.  It's one of those books that simply tells an amazing story.  It reads like fiction but the events are all very true.  It's hard to believe that a single individual could have so many things happen in their life.  That their life could take so many twists and turns.  It also hit me reading it again that as a librarian, and a lover of books, it's hard not to feel a connection to the story.  The part of the story when "Red" is in prison and starts to read the dictionary is amazing.  I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes.  Malcolm learns every word in the dictionary and then starts to read every book he can get his hands on and educates himself while in prison.  When his time is done he's a new and changed man.

In many ways "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" is about the ability of individuals to grow and change and people.  He goes through so many pivotal events in his life only to learn and grow from each one.  He's willing to learn new things and change his opinions based on what he's learned and gone through.  This ultimately leads to his death at the hands of the Black Muslims, who he had once been a powerful spokesman for, because he had grown as a person and moved on, denouncing some of their most racist philosophies.

Malcolm X was a man who was often feared by our society at large when he was alive.  As the years have gone by and more and more people have studied his life and read this book his legacy has changed.  He is now considered by many to be a great American and someone who's contributions to the civil rights movement were extremely important.  If you want to read an amazing true story you should also consider checking out one of our copies.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lost Memory of Skin

I have very strong opinions about sex offenders, as I'm sure many people do. I tend to see this issue as very black and white, but Russell Banks' latest novel Lost Memory of Skin, illustrates that there can be shades of grey. The main character, "the Kid," is a recently paroled sex offender. Typically, I have no tolerance for sex offenders, real or fictional, but Russell manages to create a very human and very sympathetic character.

The novel's premise is based on the actual colony of sex offenders that had been living under a causeway in Miami, Florida. Having no where else to go after his release from prison, the Kid takes up residence in this colony under the causeway. Soon he meets "the Professor." The Professor is a sociologist who is studying sex offenders and takes an interest in the Kid. From the Professor's interviews with the Kid, we learn the Kid's history, how he came to be a convicted sex offender, and what his life is like now. Russell does a superb job of capturing the Kid's fears and loneliness. While I didn't necessarily like the Kid, I found myself feeling sorry for him and wishing he could catch a break. This novel raises so many interesting questions about sex offenders, homelessness, and the criminal justice system, I think this book would make an excellent choice for book discussions. Squeamish readers need not fear: there are no descriptions of horrible sex acts. There is a lot of discussion about porn and masturbation and some crass language, but as a squeamish reader, I found it tolerable.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea

Aside from my affinity for the title (which sucked me right in), I adored this story because of its strong appeal towards both adults and teens. Lately I've been on a kick when it comes to reading adult fiction with teens as main characters, and Florine Gilham, the star of this particular story, is a high contender for one of my favorite protagonists. Florine is a wonderful combination of sassy and vulnerable as, in her small Maine town of the 1950's, she endures more family heartbreak and crises than anyone of her age deserves.

Florine's beautiful and charismatic mother disappeared her twelfth summer, and this event catapults Florine into a spiral that is both intriguing and depressing. Yet as much as the story of Florine is based on her mothers disappearance, this is also a tale about Florine's fisherman father who suffers silently for the wife he lost, her loving and strong grandmother who holds the tiny town together, and a group of faithful friends who will do whatever it takes to pull Florine through.

For a character that only grows 5 years in the span of the story, you as a reader feel as if it's been a lifetime. Florine goes through more in her adolescent years then I hope to experience in fifty, and maybe the best part of the book is that in the end you still don't know if she'll come out on top (but you hope with everything you have that she does).

I also have a love for most stories that are set in Maine (despite the fact that I have never visited...) and this setting didn't disappoint. The imagery is rich, the characters are vivid, and Florine is one smart alecky, prickly, (and yet so endearing) soul who is looking for her own definition of life and won't let you forget it. If you're looking for an awesome mix of mystery, coming of age, and true heart, this is the title for you.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Horror Stories

I know you horror fans are out there!!  The Horror Writers Association have finally announced the 2011 Bram Stoker Award winners and the Vampire Novel of the Century Award winner. So,without further ado, here they are:
    Superior Achievement in a NOVEL  Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle Books)
    Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVELIsis Unbound by Allyson Bird (Dark Regions Press)
    Superior Achievement in a YOUNG ADULT NOVEL (tie) The Screaming Season by Nancy Holder (Razorbill)
     Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
    Superior Achievement in a GRAPHIC NOVELNeonomicon by Alan Moore (Avatar Press)
    Superior Achievement in LONG FICTIONThe Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine by Peter Straub (Conjunctions: 56)
    Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTIONHerman Wouk Is Still Alive by Stephen King (The Atlantic Magazine, May 2011)
    Superior Achievement in a SCREENPLAYAmerican Horror Story, episode #12: Afterbirth by Jessica Sharzer (20th Century Fox Television)
    Superior Achievement in a FICTION COLLECTIONThe Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares by Joyce Carol Oates (Mysterious Press)
    Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGYDemons: Encounters with the Devil and his Minions, Fallen Angels and the Possessed, edited by John Skipp (Black Dog and Leventhal)
    Superior Achievement in NON-FICTIONStephen King: A Literary Companion by Rocky Wood (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers)
    Superior Achievement in a POETRY COLLECTIONHow to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison (Necon Ebooks)

    Vampire Novel of the Century Award
    I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Deader Homes & Gardens

Joan Hess finally returns with Claire Malloy in Deader Homes & Gardens. Bookstore owner Claire is back from her honeymoon with Police Chief Peter Rosen and they are now feeling the confines of living in small quarters with Claire's teenage daughter Caron. Claire sets out to find the happy family a new home that will meet every ones expectations.

After an extensive search with her realtor, Claire finds the perfect home in Hollow Valley.  A meadow with a stream, an orchard, a pool, a library, crown moldings, hardwood floors...what more could a woman want?  How about a seller?  It seems the last owner died under mysterious circumstances and not only does rightful ownership of the house seems to be in question, but whether it is really for sale seems to be up in the air also. Claire's realtor then disappears while showing the house to Claire and can't be found.  Soon bodies start piling up and Claire needs to solve several mysteries before Peter gets home from out of town and so that she can buy her dream house.

Deader Homes & Gardens is a fun, fast read.  Claire Malloy has been one of my favorite fictional female sleuths since her arrival in 1986 in Strangled Prose. I have always admired Hess for her snappy, witty dialogue, especially between Claire and Caron, and she doesn't disappoint in this book.  Need a smile and a laugh?  This is the book for you.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Friend Dahmer

"My Friend Dahmer" by Derf Backderf is one of the most memorable and disturbing graphic novels I've read in a long time.  This is the type of book that will make you stay up at night thinking about it.  When I was reading it I found I couldn't put it down because it was so interesting.

It is written and illustrated by someone who was a classmate of Jeff Dahmer and saw him get more and more strange and anti-social over the years.  It starts in the 7th Grade and ends when the author and his friends graduate from high school.  The author is one of a handful of people who attempted to talk to and become friends with Jeff Dahmer but even he has trouble relating to him.  The fact of the matter is that even in the 7th Grade Jeff Dahmer was "weird" for lack of a better word.  Even at that age he was doing things like collecting road kill and trying to decompose the bodies in acid.  He had no friends to speak of and a very troubled life at home.  We see how Dahmer gets more and more withdrawn as he gets older and closer to graduation.  We also learn that in high school Jeff Dahmer developed a severe dependence on alcohol and drank heavily during school.  The author's theory is that Dahmer drank to numb his senses to the evil and depraved thoughts that went through his head.

The author may have known Jeff Dahmer better than almost anyone during those high school years.  Even though the author and his friends think Dahmer is a "freak" they form the "Jeff Dahmer Fan Club" and they observe his antics and sometimes invite him into their group.  They "use" Dahmer to help them do pranks like getting Dahmer to pose in the back of all of the group and club photos for the yearbook.  The author is one of the few teens who knew Dahmer well enough to visit him at his home.  He admits he only visited him a couple of times because the visits were often weird and creepy in some way.

When you read the book you can't help but ask yourself, "how does someone cross that line from being a social outcast to a full blown serial killer?"  The author also clearly struggles with those questions as well.  Jeff Dahmer had a variety of issues.  He was an outsider.  A weirdo.  It is also revealed in the book that he figured out in high school that he was a homosexual.  Jeff Dahmer was bullied in school but he also picked on younger weaker classmates himself.  All of these are huge pressures on any teenager but there are thousands of other teenagers in the same position all across the country.  What made Dahmer snap?

What is also sort of scary is that the author and his friends could almost see it coming.  There is a scene in the book that takes place several years after high school.  The author and his friends are at a bar talking about their high school days and their old friends.  Jeff Dahmer's name comes up and they wonder what he's doing just then.  The author jokes that, "he's probably a serial killer by now", and they all laugh.  They would later be haunted by this memory.  The author asks himself if he could sense that something was seriously wrong with Dahmer why didn't he ever get help?  How could his parents be so clueless?  How could his teachers at school not notice that he was coming to school drunk every day?  By the end of the book it seems like there are more questions than answers and perhaps that is one reason why this book is so disturbing and yet so fascinating.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lawrence Anthony

I was deeply saddened to find out about the death of conservationist and author, Lawrence Anthony, earlier this month. I became aware of Anthony when I read his book Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo. This is a great story and was one of my favorite books of 2007. Aside from his work at the Baghdad zoo, Anthony headed a game reserve in South Africa and most recently has been involved in attempting to save the endangered Northern White Rhinoceros. Anthony also wrote The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild. I am looking forward to reading his new book, which will be released in July, The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World's Greatest Creatures.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to Eat a Cupcake

 I don’t know about you, but I know How to Eat a Cupcake and don’t need to read a book to instruct me on how to devour this bite of heaven!  But that’s not what this book with the catchy title is actually about.  Instead, author Meg Donohue tells a tale of the many layers of friendship that may exist in a relationship.

With Annie’s mother Lucia working for Julia’s family and living on their estate, Annie and Julia were destined to have some type of relationship even though they came from two different worlds.  Whether friends or frenemies, it all depended on how the wind blew.  In their senior year in high school, the lines were drawn.  The book picks up ten years later, Lucia has passed away, Julia is engaged and Annie is working as a pastry chef in a bakery.  A chance meeting occurs between the two and leads to a business venture opening a cupcake store together. Old wounds are opened and in order to be successful Annie and Julia need to put their differences behind them and practice forgiveness if they are going to be a success.
When I picked up the book I was expecting chick lit, but it turned out to be much more than that.  The book had likable characters with the narrative going back and forth between the viewpoints of both Julia and Annie. The plot was rich and well developed.  An appealing and delicious read about friendship.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Domestic Violets

Tom Violet has a lovely wife, happy daughter, hot coworker, Pulitzer Prize-winning father, reliable job in a bad economy, his own first novel just completed…could things possible get worse?

For Tom Violet, things are complicated. His brilliant wife, looking even better for her time at the gym, wants another child, and their marriage is at a turning point. While his work writing corporate marketing material is easy, and he can infuriate his editor Darth Gregory nearly every day, Tom’s job at the death star is soul-crushing. His father is receiving more recognition than ever—even appearing on Letterman, but he’s just left another wife and has moved in with Tom. And Tom’s first novel is good, but can he get published?

If you enjoyed Jonathan Tropper (This is Where I Leave You), you’ll love Domestic Violets. It’s got family drama, self-identity issues, a little chaos, some plot twists. Fun, witty, fast-paced—it’s a terrific read.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Craig Thompson has written two previous graphic novels that were critic's favorites.  "Goodbye - Chunky Rice" is a children's story, "Blankets" was a teen coming of age story, and now "Habibi" is a very adult epic.  I use the term epic because "Habibi" is an epic graphic novel.  It is clearly a work that took years to make.  The story is so rich and the drawings are so detailed and fantastic.

"Habibi" is set in a Arabic desert world that blurs between ancient and modern.  At times the story seems to be from the ancient times of sultans, harems and eunichs, and at other times the story takes place in a very modern world full of pollution and technology.

It is very clear that years of work went into this graphic novel.  Craig Thompson learned how to write in Arabic and obviously also studied the Koran.  One of the interesting things about this graphic novel is that it weaves into it's tale a number of biblical stories.  Often, however, both the Judeo-Christian version of the tales are told as well as the Muslim versions.  It is fascinating to see where the stories are the same and how they are different.

This is also a very "adult" graphic novel.  The main character is a woman who is often sexually exploited.  She has a rough life.  One of the sad and ironic things about her life is that the man who perhaps is the nicest to her over the years is an older man that her father sells her to at a very young age to be his wife.  Even though she is a child he cares for her and teaches her how to read and write.  The lessons he teaches her end up being an important part of the rest of her life.

This is an epic and long graphic novel that is over 600 pages long.  Some critics have said that it is too long and the story is a bit hard to follow.  I found myself completely absorbed by the story and couldn't put it down.  Yes, it is long, but I loved every detail.  If you are looking for a graphic novel that will transport you to another world you will love Habibi.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mixing It Up

Sometimes I get into a rut where I am just reading one certain series or a certain genre.  That's what has been happening lately and I found myself getting a little bored.  I decided to mix it up a bit and read a genre I would never normally read.  I picked, of all things, horror.  For this I have to thank Becky Spratford of RA For All.  Becky knows her horror and when I saw that she had an interview coming up with the author Jonathan Maberry it piqued my interest.  So, I found myself reading Maberry's Dead of Night, a zombie thriller.  I approached the book with apprehension, sure that I would be throwing it aside after just a few chapters.  Horror of horrors, I found myself totally engrossed in the book and didn't want to put it down!

The story had a substantial plot with well developed characters.  Told from different points of views, including the zombies, the reader is aware of what the characters are thinking and feeling.  Ever wonder how a zombie feels?  Here's your chance to find out. The story bounces back and forth between several characters including a zombie, a reporter and a female police officer.  The fact that you are watching events unfold through different views really adds terror and evokes different emotional responses in the reader.

 As for the plot, it wasn't just a lot of zombies chasing after humans, though there was a lot of that, but the storyline developed as to how it all started and who was behind it.  A suspenseful read from the beginning, we are introduced to a small town in Pennsylvania.  The story starts with the corpse of serial killer Homer Gibbon being delivered to the mortuary in Stebbins, PA.  However, Homer was injected with a drug that would render him conscious in death as his body decomposed.  This was to be his punishment (besides being executed) and he was to be buried on prison grounds.  Instead, he is delivered to the mortuary and this is the start of a chain of events that release the zombies.  We see the story develop and how the government tries to contain the zombies to just the town of Stebbins.  The story flows and develops in a very natural way.

I enjoyed the book so much that I know I will continue reading some more horror.  Hopefully, other authors will give me the thrill and the scary jolts that come with reading this type of book.  Give it a try, mix up your reading a little, you may enjoy it.  If you find yourself at a loss as to what to choose, Deerfield Library's readers advisory department is always here to help you.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea" by Guy Delisle

French-Canadian cartoonist Guy Delisle’s graphic novel account of his time in Pyongyang, North Korea is mired by a staggering sense of isolation.  Delisle’s pages are composed of hollow spaces, populated by cartoon characters meandering through vacant hotel hallways.  He renders his two-month stay as an animation supervisor in pencil washes, creating a world perpetually, beautifully out of focus. 

Beside his ever-present guide and translator, Delisle rarely interacts with any North Koreans.  Outside of his hotel, he is chaperoned through the capital city’s most tourist-friendly landmarks, inundated by tedious Communist propaganda.  Delisle maintains a sharp sense of humor and skepticism, challenging jingoistic outpourings and exaggerated histories.  Though he renders his anecdotes in clean cartoon lines, he does not belie the horrors inherent to life spent under a dictatorship.  For every imposing monument and smiling volunteer, there are stories of food shortages and citizens informing on one another.  Every citizen he encounters is a beaming patriot, and so they often seem like caricatures rather than individuals.  This may be a failing on Delisle’s part to better connect with those around him, but I suspect that it instead reinforces the book’s theme of loneliness amidst artifice.
I sought out this graphic novel after the death of former Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il.  I only had a cursory knowledge of the man and his country—both mysterious and inaccessible— and I felt a travelogue would be a good introduction.  Delisle makes no claims to be an expert, nor is the book designed as a comprehensive travel guide.  Instead, the book reflects his changing temperaments in a very alien place: introspective, mistrustful, bewildered, humbled, etc.  His visit is as much fascinatingly exotic as it is alienating.  Delisle’s story is often distant and ambiguous, as gray as the buildings disappearing into the horizon. 

Pyongyang by Guy Delisle

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Can you mess with the time-space continuum?

Remember the scientific news from last summer, about particles moving faster than the speed of light? Since I couldn't understand the physics, it meant only one thing to me: time travel!!

What if you could go back in time to 1958? Would you alter the one event in US history--the assassination of Jack Kennedy--that could change so much more? Was our experience different in Vietnam because Lyndon Johnson was president? Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn't have been assassinated. Or Bobby Kennedy...

In Stephen King's new book, 11/22/63, Jake Epping has a chance to find out. His friend Al is dying, and Al confesses that his diner's storage room contains a portal to September 9, 1958. Jake takes a tentative trip back in time, then accepts Al's mission: to ascertain that Oswald acted alone and to thwart Oswald's attempt on Kennedy's life. As a reader, you step back in time with Jake, a time when women always wore dresses, men wore hats, everyone smoked cigarettes, cars had fins, and there was no air conditioning, or cell phones, or internet.

Stephen King tells a good story and keeps it moving, full of period details, likeable characters, and plot twists. For avid King readers, there are cameo appearances by characters from his other books. And at 850 pages, the book serves as its own portal, pulling you in and giving you time to experience the 60's. Enjoy the trip!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Author Visits!

My friends at the Warren Newport Public Library in Gurnee are hosting some fabulous, free author events! If you are interested in attending, call 847-244-5150 or go to their website to register. Authors will sign copies of their books.

Lauren Willig and Tasha Alexander will be appearing on Wednesday, February 22nd at 7pm. Lauren Willig writes the Pink Carnation historical fiction series, which is one of my favorites. She will be discussing her new book, The Garden Intrigue. Tasha Alexander writes the Lady Emily mystery series and will discuss her latest novel, A Crimson Warning.

Sunday, February 26 2:00pm Jennifer Chiaverini will discuss her latest novel, The Wedding Quilt. In addition to the 17 volumes of the Elm Creek Quilts series, she is the author of four volumes of quilt patterns as well as the designer of the Elm Creek Quilts fabric line.

Erik Larson will be appearing on Sunday, March 18th at 2pm. Larson is the writer of the hugely successful Devil in the White City and will talk about his research strategies and his latest book, In the Garden of Beasts.

And although it's a few months away, I'm so excited that they are hosting Jen Lancaster on Saturday, June 16th at 2pm. Jen is one of my favorite authors, so I'll be the crazy fan sitting in the front row acting like I'm at a Justin Bieber concert. Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 10, 2012

It finally happened

I really and truly finished the entire Hunger Games series and (obviously) not a minute too soon, considering that the movie based on the first book comes out March 23rd!! So I know that there is a certain excitement and rush to following a series as it grows, and there is that tantalizing anxiety to thinking that you literally cannot wait another year for the next book to come out and what are you supposed to do during that horrendously unfair wait and then oh my gosh it's here and you're exalted and it's the best feeling in the world. Anyone know what I'm talking about? In the complete opposite fashion of perpetually waiting for the next part of the story to unfold, the Hunger Games was one of a very few hit series that I sat on until all of the books had been published (and for quite a while at that.) This wasn't anything I did on purpose because typically dystopian fiction isn't really my thing. I'll admit that watching the movie trailer, combined with the fact that seemingly everyone on earth was reading this book despite their varied interests, pushed me to finally check out a copy of the Hunger Games. Soooo, I finished the trilogy in a little over 5 days and it was just as captivating and thrilling as I had heard. There was also a surprising perk to my whole "this is a series I know I will eventually read but I'm just not feeling it right now" tactic, this being that once I was finished with "The Hunger Games" I could smugly move onto "Catching Fire" and then "Mockingjay" with hardly a lapse in between. Thank goodness for that, because I got that same panicky feeling of not being able to possibly wait to find out what happens in the next book, and then, mercifully, I could just walk over to the shelf and have the next book in my hands.

But wait. Now I'm thinking, what's next? Check out the titles below for some readalikes. I surprised myself with this series, maybe some of these will do the same for you!

Legend by Marie Lu

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Bloodsong by Melvin Burgess

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

The Running Man by Stephen King

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Beautifully written, Glaciers is the story of a young librarian in Portland, Oregon and her dreams of love and faraway places.  Alexis M. Smith's debut novel takes the reader through a cascading waterfall of imagery.
The title of the book, Glaciers, refers to the imminent demise of the glaciers in the Alaska of her childhood  told through flashbacks during the present narrative.

We follow the story of Isabel and a day in her life as she works in the basement of a library, shops in a thrift store, prepares for a party and reminisces about the past and how it has shaped her life. 

Isabel laments the past and speculates on the future, realizing that she can change her life as she sees fit.  Memories of not only Isabel's life, but also of those she doesn't know is a repetitive theme throughout the book. Her love for vintage reveals Isabel's appreciation for the history of objects that were once new.  Such contemplation by Isabel has the reader visualizing their own journey with objects from the past.

A quick and enchanting read, Glaciers is one of those books you cannot afford to miss.

Monday, January 30, 2012

MWF Seeking BFF

As I've gotten older, many of my close friendships from high school, college, or even the first years out of college, have either faded completely or are barely hanging on. People become immersed in their careers, marriage, and children, and become too busy to devote time to friendships. I've also found that as I've gotten older, it becomes harder to make new friends. As someone who lives in the suburbs and doesn't have children, there aren't a whole lot of places to meet new friends. So, when I saw Rachel Bertsche's new book MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, I was intrigued. Could it be that I'm not the only one that has had difficulty finding new friends?

In her late 20s, married but no children, Rachel recently moved to Chicago. Although she knows a few people, she hasn't made any close friends. Despite living in a large city, she has had difficulty meeting people. Rachel decides to take on a year-long quest to make new friends, promising to go on 52 "friend dates" by the end of the year. She tries everything from being set up by her spouse, coworkers, and family, joining new classes, publishing an online ad, joining Meetup groups, attending speed friending, matchmaking services, and even renting a friend.

What results is an entertaining account of her experiences and a thoughtful look at the concept of friendship. She finds that despite her worries, she is not alone in her difficulty finding friends. She worries that the only people she will meet at these events will be losers, but it turns out that most of the women she meets are smart, professional, fun women who are also having trouble making connections. Rachel has done her homework for this book. She frequently references research that explores the concept of friendship, different types of friendship, and the need for friendships in our lives. She also addresses an interesting point about the stigma of loneliness in America. We see ads for matchmaking services all the time. It's perfectly acceptable to shout from the rooftops that you want a romantic relationship, but tell anyone that you are looking for a friendship and people automatically think you must be a loser. Rachel quickly learns that you don't need to be embarrassed about looking for new friendships, because chances are, others are too. And judging by the wait list for this book at the library, she is right.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Hunger Games

I have to admit that I am totally psyched about "The Hunger Games" coming to the big screen on March 23rd!  I knew the film was coming out and all the hype was very positive.  I decided I would take the plunge and read the book before the film came out.  There is a lot of talk these days about YA literature and the crossover appeal of this particular book.  All I can say is that this middle aged man loved it.  I found "The Hunger Games" to be a fascinating mix of fantasy and science fiction and furthermore I was surprised that it was well written as well.  Several years ago I read another YA title that was huge and also was made into a series of movies.  I was amazed how poorly written that particular book was, so it was a pleasure to read "The Hunger Games" after that bad experience.

I very purposely didn't watch any of the trailers for the movie before I finished the book.  I didn't want to read the book with any preconceptions.  The night I finished the book I went over to the computer and found the official trailer and watched it.  I have to admit that after seeing the trailer I was even more excited about the movie.  Many of the images and scenes looked almost exactly as I imagined them.  The main characters seemed to be perfectly cast.  Katniss in particular looked exactly as I imagined she would look.  I've read that the movie is supposed to very closely follow the plot of the book.  If this is the case I don't see how this movie won't be a huge hit that will appeal to audiences of all ages.

You still have two months to go.  So there is still plenty of time to get a copy of "The Hunger Games" and read it for yourself.  Once you do I think you'll understand why so many people are looking forward to the movie coming out.

If you've read the book already are you also excited about watching "The Hunger Games" on the big screen?

It's here!

Ok, so it's not the Academy Awards but it may as well be for anyone who reads Teen lit. The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in YA Literature is for Teen titles what that ridiculously heavy gold statue is for film. As announced this last Monday John Corey Whaley's "Where Things Come Back" was given the honor and (gasp!) I haven't read it yet. In fact, this book was nowhere near my radar for possible choices for this year's Printz award. I like this fact because A. I enjoy surprises and B. This keeps me on my toes and humbles my assumptions about the crazy world of Teen reading. I will definitely be checking this book out soon but in the meantime here are a list of this year's Printz Award honorees.

A perhaps lesser known (but just as significant) award given each year is the Alex Award, which honors 10 titles written for adults but which have special appeal for Teens. This award blurs the line between traditional "Adult" fic and "Teen" fic, which makes the titles below some of my favorite recommendations of the year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Winner is...

With awards season upon us for movies and televsion, I was heartened to see that during the Golden Globes telecast there were several references to books and authors.   It seems that in the past few years more and more books are being turned into screenplays.  
On the red carpet, Brad Pitt made mention of the book Moneyball and of how he was blessed with such a great story.
In their acceptance speech for Best Motion Picture-Drama, producer Jim Burke and director Alexander Payne of The Descendants sent a shout out and thank you to acclaimed author Kaui Hart Hemmings on whose book the movie was based.
Accepting his Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in television’s A Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage mentioned first and foremost (after his wife) author George RR Martin for his imagination.  Martin, in turn, was reported to say how pleased he has been with how faithful the producers have been to his work and that the goal was to take his story and translate it to a different medium such as television. “No TV show or movie is ever going to be 100 percent faithful to a book but I think people who love the books will love the TV show and that will continue to be true,” he added.  How true!
Not all of our beloved books make the red carpet.  Here are just a few of the books turned into movies this past year:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly, Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, One Day by David Nicholl's, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and Too Big to Fail (TV movie) by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.

Up next is the Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 29th and on February 26th we have the 84th Academy Awards.