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Librarians

Third Grade's the Charm

Third Grade's the Charm

posted by:
July 11, 2012 - 10:23am

Lone BeanMarty McGuire Digs Worms!Stella Batts: Pardon MeFans of Judy Moody will be thrilled to know that there are some new third grade girls sharing their stories of family troubles and school woes.

  

Chrysanthemum, better known as Bean, is excited to start third grade and see her best friend, Carla. But, in Lone Bean by Chudney Ross, Bean discovers that school is not what she had pictured and Carla no longer wants to be friends. Additionally, Bean, the youngest of three sisters, feels misunderstood and wishes her mother spent less time at work. On top of all that, she must cope with the bully at school. Ross, the youngest daughter of singer Diana Ross and owner of the California children's bookstore "Books and Cookies", creates a spunky, relatable heroine who will hopefully return soon for more adventures.

 

Marty McGuire returns in Marty McGuire Digs Worms! by Kate Messner, and this time she and her classmates are competing to win a Save the Earth contest. Marty believes that her idea to use school cafeteria garbage to make fertilizer will win the prize. The project has its problems, but in the end Marty learns about the importance of teamwork and composting. Marty is an amusing narrator and Brian Floca's cheery black-and-white illustrations complement this feel-good story.   

 

Third-grader Stella Batts is back for a third outing in Pardon Me by Courtney Sheinmel and she desperately needs a new best friend. She meets the new girl in town, Evie, and the two agree to be BFFs. But school starts and Evie seems to have forgotten this pledge. Stella faces familiar problems and her humorous narration and positive attitude are perfectly age appropriate. Young readers won’t have long to wait to read more of Stella’s exploits - A Case of the Meanies is due in September!

Maureen

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A Natural State of Happy

You Are a LionWant to help your child relax, sleep better, and achieve calm and focus? You are a Lion!: and Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo, is a fun, playful picture book introduction to yoga for the younger set. Yoga for babies and kids has really taken off as more and more folks are discovering the benefits of yoga for the whole family.

 

Bright, cheerful artwork created with linoleum block prints, pencil drawing, and Photoshop, illustrate easy, fun poses children can relate to. These are accompanied by simple, rhyming instructions. Kids become lions, snakes, butterflies, frogs, dogs and cats as they imitate the gentle poses and movements of familiar creatures. And, unlike eating vegetables, kids will love pretending to leap like a frog and stretch like a dog. Namaste.

Andrea

 
 

Proper Dues

Proper Dues

posted by:
July 10, 2012 - 9:00am

Seating ArrangementsUnsavory behavior and social faux pas are as frequent as the rising tide in Maggie Shipstead's character-rich debut novel, Seating Arrangements, where money talks and appearances matter for the privileged few. Set on fictional sun-kissed Waskeke Island, off the New England coast, Winn and Biddy Van Meter are gathering family and friends to marry off their very pregnant daughter, Daphne. It's not long before the three-day wedding weekend uncovers fissures in relationships that neither a Windsor knot nor an Ivy League education can fix.

 

Shipstead expertly crafts a dialogue-rich story with a medley of spot-on characters, whose clumsy narcissism, alcoholic indulgences, and questionable choices lead to many embarrassing stumblings. Plenty of misplaced priorities are on display here, starting with the father of the bride.  Dissatisfied and conflicted with much to lose, middle-aged Winn seems to worry about the wrong things, like coveting a membership in the exclusive Pequod country club as well as a romantic liaison with one of his daughter's bridesmaids. His harried but dutiful wife Biddy turns the other cheek. When the bevy of bridesmaids converges on the island house for festivities, Winn and Biddy's younger daughter, Harvard-educated Livia, creates more chaos by making her own poor choices. It is Egyptian-born bridesmaid Dominique, tall, dark and aloof, who provides with her pragmatic voice keen observations of the family that are at once amusing and sad.

 

Shipstead, a graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, proves at ease moving the plot along and setting the scene; readers will feel they, too, are lulling among sea breezes and fragrant bayberry bushes. Readers of Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan or That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo will find plenty of simmering family dysfunction and social satire to heat up their summer reading.

 

Cynthia

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A Prince of a Guy

A Prince of a Guy

posted by:
July 10, 2012 - 8:31am

Between the LinesMany of us have wished that our favorite literary characters were real people who could jump off the page and into our lives. In Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer, Delilah gets the chance of a lifetime when Prince Oliver, the hero of the fairy tale of the same name, speaks to her and she can hear him. The two become fast friends and together they hatch a plot to free Oliver from the book. Delilah’s family and friends do not understand why she is so obsessed with this children’s book, and they unknowingly thwart her at every turn. Likewise, the rest of the fairy tale characters (who have distinctly different personalities when the book is closed) do not understand why Oliver is so unhappy reliving the same story over and over again.

 

The creative idea for Between the Lines was pitched to Picoult by her teenage daughter Samantha, who was daydreaming about book characters coming to life instead of paying attention in French class. This charming book is a collaborative effort between mother and daughter, and it includes many inserted images and pencil sketch drawings. An imaginative romance, this is a good book for reluctant readers or teens that are looking for something simpler and sweeter than your typically angsty novel for adolescents.

The authors interview each other on Jodi Picoult’s website.

Sam

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Love, Lovett, and a Hot Pink Bridesmaid Dress

Rescue MeRachel Gibson has built a reputation for writing hilarious, steamy romances. Her newest novel, Rescue Me, is no exception. 

 

Retired Navy SEAL Vince Haven is in Lovett, Texas, visiting his Aunt Luraleen. She wants to sell him the Gas and Go, the town’s convenience store/gas station, so that she can retire. Vince isn’t a guy who wants to put down roots, though. Sadie Hollowell left Lovett fifteen years ago, but she is back to be a bridesmaid in her cousin’s wedding. As if the Bubble Yum-pink bridesmaids dress isn’t bad enough, Sadie is ten years older than the rest of the bridal party, and she doesn’t have a date to the wedding. Sadie meets Vince when his truck breaks down near her father’s ranch. On a whim, she asks him to be her date to the wedding. He refuses, but he later decides to go to the wedding to even the score between them.

 

Vince and Sadie begin what they both believe will be a temporary relationship. Sadie’s elderly father is injured in an accident, and she stays in Lovett to help him get back on his feet. Vince begins work on the Gas and Go with plans to sell it, and he continues to deal with PTSD from his time in Afghanistan. As Sadie and Vince spend more time together, the boundaries of their relationship change, and they find that their temporary arrangement may not be long enough.

 

Gibson’s writing, humor, and small-town cast of characters will remind readers of Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Rescue Me is charming and laugh-out-loud funny. It makes you want to stop in to Lovett, Texas, and have a glass of sweet tea with the locals. Bless your heart!

 

Beth

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Is all publicity good publicity?

This Bright RiverThe CradleWithin the book industry, having a review of one's work published by the New York Times is a huge benefit that likely will increase any author's sales. It certainly adds to the author's visibility. That is, if the reviewer has fully understood the book published. Take, for example, the recent fiasco that befell novelist Patrick Somerville and his new work of fiction, This Bright River. A couple years back, his debut novel, The Cradle, was plucked from near-obscurity with glowing praise by well-respected Times book reviewer Janet Maslin. Lightning struck twice for Somerville, or so it seemed, when Maslin chose to review his current follow-up. But then the problems started.

 

Unfortunately, Maslin misread a crucial event in the prologue of the new novel that Somerville purposely left ambiguous. Because of her error, Maslin read the novel through the wrong lens, and her generally middling review refers to the book as having a "lack of focus" and is "sometimes foggy". The author's wife read the review aloud to Somerville, who "pressed [his] head deeper into the couch, trying to get to its springs and asphyxiate". This, among much more, he describes in a Salon essay published last week titled Thank You for Killing my Novel. Within it, we learn of the process that resulted in the Times publishing a correction, including the long, amusing email back-and-forth between the author and Ed Marks of the Times' Culture Desk.

 

All this leaves readers with an obvious conundrum. How much can we trust reviewers? When even someone as well-regarded as Janet Maslin can botch an assignment, it can be tricky. One solution is simply to take even the most well-read reviewer's opinion as simply that. Just one person's opinion.

Todd

 
 

The Survivor Who Wasn't

The WOman Who Wasn't ThereWhere were you on September 11, 2001? Almost all Americans who were old enough to remember that fateful day will have a story. At first glance, The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher and Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. appears to be a tale of individual courage and triumph. Tania Head had one of the most remarkable 9/11 stories of all. She was working for Merrill Lynch on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower, and witnessed the first plane hit the North Tower. Badly burned, she barely escaped alive. She also lost her fiancé, who worked in the North Tower.

 

Head’s story was so powerful that when she shared it on survivors’ network sites, she quickly became an inspiration and a leader. She successfully lobbied to bring more recognition and funding to survivors, and led tours at Ground Zero. Shockingly, in 2007 a reporter uncovered that all of the information she provided, including details about her job and her fiancé, was false. But that was just the beginning. Why would someone go to such lengths to deceive?

 

Head’s story is presented as fact for most of the book, with her deception revealed only towards the end. Guglielmo directed a documentary, also called The Woman Who Wasn’t There, chronicling Head’s status change from heroic survivor to fraudulent imposter. This is an amazing story of vast deception and extreme irony. Although Head technically did nothing illegal, her falsification of information and betrayal of trust of the survivors was egregious. Her deception in the aftermath of such a horrific tragedy left many feeling further victimized. But ironically, in spite of the lies, her story led to more recognition and services for actual 9/11 survivors.  

Melanie

 
 

Life, Love and Amusement

Life, Love and Amusement

posted by:
July 6, 2012 - 9:00am

Easily AmusedPoint, Click, LoveSummer is a time for fun. So, why not a few delightfully light reads to complement?

 

Easily Amused by Karen McQuestion is the story of Lola, an almost 30-year-old whose great aunt has left her a sprawling house on a street full of caring neighbors. Sounds perfect? Not to Lola, who just wishes for a little more privacy and a few less invitations to neighborhood events. The real catalyst comes when Lola’s frustrating younger sister, Mindy, announces her own wedding will be on Lola’s 30th birthday. Lola must have a date for this occasion – not just any date, but someone to show up Mindy and someone willing to go along with a (fake) announcement of engagement. Enter Ryan, who seems to just fall from the sky and could possibly be the answer to Lola’s problems. Lola is a funny, self-deprecating narrator, and McQuestion’s writing is smart and fast-paced with a clever plot.

 

Another book for summer entertainment is Point, Click, Love by Molly Shapiro. This fun tale follows four friends, Claudia, Annie, Maxine and Katie, in Kansas City. Where each of these women are in their lives and where they want to go makes for amusing stories about love, marriage, relationships and everything in between. This is Shapiro’s debut novel, and it has well-developed, likeable characters plus sophisticated writing. She also does a great job of adding context to a Midwestern city where not many stories are set. Comparisons have been made to Sex and the City – this book definitely celebrates women’s independence and exploration of choices. 

 

Enjoy taking these two books to the beach or any other place (Kansas City?) you may find yourself this summer. Both provide a fun story with no additional heavy baggage. 

Melanie

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Love in a Small Town

Love in a Small Town

posted by:
July 6, 2012 - 8:30am

Sunrise PointAngel's RestCrush on YouRomances set in small towns have been a hot trend in romance publishing over the past few years. Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series has really struck a chord with readers. Her new novel, Sunrise Point, follows former Marine Tom Cavanaugh who returns to Virgin River to run his family’s orchard. He meets and befriends Nora Crane, a struggling single mother who will do whatever it takes to care for her young daughters. Tom and Nora’s friendship deepens and eventually develops into a sweet romance. Carr’s writing makes readers want to revisit the cast of characters in Virgin River again and again. With 19 books already available in the series, they can! 

 

Readers who enjoy the Virgin River series should also visit Emily March’s close-knit community of Eternity Springs. In Angel’s Rest, Nic Sullivan has built a life for herself without a man in it because she has been let down too many times in the past. Gabe Callahan retreats to an isolated home in the Colorado Rockies to grieve after a tragedy. When Gabe is at his lowest, fate intervenes, and Gabe meets a goofy brindle boxer named Clarence who quickly claims Gabe as his own. Clarence is injured, and Gabe takes him to see Nic who is the town vet. Nic begins to help Gabe move on from his loss and embrace his future.

 

Christie Ridgway’s Three Kisses trilogy also has a great small town feel. It follows the three Baci sisters who are trying to save Tanti Baci, the family’s vineyard. In Crush on You, Alessandra Baci needs TV star Penn Bennett’s help to promote the vineyard as a wedding venue in hopes that the added income will save the business. Alessandra, nicknamed the Nun of Napa, hasn’t dated since her own tragic failed trip to the altar. The chemistry between Penn and Alessandra heats up quickly, and they both have to come to terms with their pasts. The small town atmosphere is as much a character as any of the people in this sexy, funny romance. 

 

Beth

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You Must Remember This

Total Memory MakeoverMarilu Henner of Taxi fame offers a unique memory manual in Total Memory Makeover: Uncover Your Past, Take Charge of Your Future. As one of a handful of people with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), Henner discusses her strong recall ability. She shares how it has helped her, and offers advice for boosting recollection. Henner knew from an early age that her memory was different, but she did not know there were others like her until she began working with researchers at the University of California,Irvine. While the average person can recall up to 11 events from each year of their life, Henner remembers every day of her life since the age of 12 in detail. 

 

Henner’s approach to memory strengthening is not about using mnemonic devices or strategies. Combining anecdotes from her personal and professional lives with scientific data and exercises designed to spark specific types of memories, Henner gently guides readers on a tour through their past. Simple exercises have the reader revisiting personal events (21st birthday) or recalling major world events (President Reagan’s assassination attempt) and remembering details from the day. Other chapters include effective journal keeping and working with children to develop a strong memory at an early age.

 

Henner documents methods to stop turning painful memories into emotional baggage and maintains that strong memory will create a positive blueprint for your future. Would you still eat that doughnut if you remembered the thrill of fitting into skinny jeans five years ago? Would you ask for that raise if you recalled the confidence boost when your prom date said yes? Would you get out of a new romance sooner if it brought back memories of a bad ex? Shakespeare wrote that “the past is prologue,” an idea supported by the principles behind Marilu’s memory makeover, where the focus is on you.

Maureen