Staff Recommends



November 10, 2014

Godzilla On My Mind:  Fifty Years Of The King Of Monsters, by William Tsutsui, Ph.D

Godzilla On My Mind: Fifty Years Of The King Of Monsters
by William Tsutsui, Ph.D

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Words like "cute", "entertaining", "funny", and "lizard love" come to mind as I read the book, Godzilla On My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters, by William Tsutsui. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the uncut version of the first Godzilla movie. Godzilla has been a superstar since he first waded from his watery, atomic nest onto the shores of Tokyo, Japan.

Historian and author Dr. William Tsutsui is uniquely qualified to explore this mega monster's film history in this book. The book is full of information about the creation of the movie franchise and the twenty six sequels. It is a lighthearted reminder of how much fun it was to be a kid watching Godzilla movies at the Asher drive-in with my family.

Today, Godzilla is the third most recognized Japanese celebrity in the US. His fanbase began with the kids of the 1950's and 1960's who fell in love with the giant radioactive lizard and still love him today. Godzilla's display of human characteristics endeared him to fans around the world.

The larger than life, fifty foot, radioactive lizard is not just a man in a rubber suit, Godzilla is a symbol of the author's childhood and mine too. Happy Birthday Godzilla!

reviewed by Debbie Sue Preston, Fletcher Library

January 8, 2014

Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House, by Elizabeth Keckley

Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House
by Elizabeth Keckley

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Elizabeth Keckley’s position as Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker placed her in an unique position to witness a pivotal time in American history. In her memoir, she recounts the time when she was invited by the Lincoln’s to celebrate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on the White House lawn with the family. In her biography, Keckley tells of being beaten by her owners, raped, and forced to become a mother to a son who passed for white to join the Union Army. Her son was killed in the Civil War.

This biography includes copies of personal correspondence between friends, Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, which caused a sensation when it became public. Details in the book caused much anger and embarrassment to the Lincoln family. The publishing led to a permanent 'falling out' between Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckley. It also led to widespread public hostility toward Elizabeth Keckley.

I enjoyed reading this book about a self-made woman who rose from slavery to become the most sought after dressmaker in Washington D.C. and her friendship with Mrs. Lincoln.

reviewed by Debbie Sue Preston, Fletcher Library

August 2, 2013

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell

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If you've ever blissfully sat through a marathon of John Hughes films, odds are you're going to love this book. Though it is aimed at teens, the real children of the 80s will probably enjoy this title much more. Told through the alternating voices of the Eleanor and Park, this novel is a modern Romeo and Juliet set to a Smiths mixtape. Rowell authentically captures that intensity of your first love without the saccharine generally associated with such YA tales. Break out your Walkman and tissues, because their relationship isn't easy. Both consider themselves outcasts and neither family is supportive. However, they valiantly try to make it work. Does it? You'll have to read the book. Bonus: The author created playlists for both main characters that are available through her site.

reviewed by Jami Kathi Harrison, Main Library

Kiss Me First, by Lottie Moggach

Kiss Me First
by Lottie Moggach

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This is the story of an outcast, Leila, who copes with life by becoming very involved with an internet forum called Red Pill. There she discovers like-minded commentators, discusses philosophy, and becomes an elite member. Leila's experience as her dying mother's caregiver colors her morality and she declares herself a rationalist. When Red Pill's charismatic founder recruits her for a special project, Leila is both flattered and willing. She soon finds herself in a delusional and deadly game, offering to become the internet presence of a woman who wants to kill herself without causing her family and friends pain. This psychologically chilling, compulsively readable, and thought-provoking debut novel with have you thinking twice about our online personas.

reviewed by Jami Kathi Harrison, Main Library


February 21, 2013

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table, by Tracie McMillan

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table
by Tracie McMillan

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Her title gives a nod to pioneering investigative journalist Jessica Mitford, but the themes and text owe a debt to two more recent books – Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. Former nanny and magazine editor McMillan spends a year undercover among the working poor on the frontlines of food production and sales – on farms in California's Central Valley, at Walmart stores outside Detroit and at an Applebee's in Brooklyn, New York. Thoughtful and engaging, McMillan's narrative connects foodways and workplace culture to make some simple points: although eating well can be difficult, everyone in America wants good food. And any serious plan to change how America eats must take everyone in America into account.

reviewed by Joe Hudak, Dee Brown Library


January 7, 2013

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
by Jonathan Evison

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To say that Benjamin Benjamin is experiencing a mid-life crisis is an understatement. In recent years he's lost both his children, evaded his wife's attempts at divorce, and found himself unemployed with few marketable skills. So what does he do? He enrolls in a short-course on caregiving and finds himself, rather dubiously, as companion to a snarky teenage boy with Muscular Dystrophy. It doesn’t sounds like the setup for a laugh-out-loud novel, but Evison's keen wit and characterizations will have you cracking up (and maybe crying a bit.) Ben and his teenage charge take off on a cross country road trip in the vein of Rebecca Makkai's excellent The Borrower and the film Little Miss Sunshine. Eminently quirky, but ever compassionate, Evison's latest novel is not one to miss.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Main Library

Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris: Book One), by Jim C. Hines

Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris: Book One)
by Jim C. Hines

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Do yourself a favor and ignore the cover of Libriomancer. Behind the hokey illustration is a great book that will appeal to a broader audience than it lets on. This first in a series tells the story of Isaac Vainio, librarian, who is the title Libriomancer. These special, and secret, magicians are able to pull physical objects out of ordinary books. (Turns out the first Libriomancer was none other than Johannes Gutenberg.) When various breeds of vampires like the Twilight sparklies attack, Vainio must use every trick in the book (literally) to save the town. While Urban Fantasy fans will love the meta-geek references, all bibliophiles should get a kick out of Hine's new series.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Main Library

Blood Red Road, by Moira Young

Blood Red Road
by Moira Young

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So you've read the excellent Divergent, Birthmarked, Starters, Enclave and Delirium series, but you're still thirsting for more dystopian drama with a strong female lead that's not a cheap The Hunger Games knockoff? Look no further than Moira Young's series debut. Our heroine, Saba, lives in a dusty wasteland with her twin brother, Lugh, her father and kid sister. When Lugh is kidnapped and her father is murdered, Saba and her young sister set out to rescue him. Like Katniss, Saba has a tough personality, although she has a much more complicated relationshuip with her sister. Along the way the pair encounter memorable characters and fight nail-biting battles. In this future world, speech and spelling patterns have changed, so it may take a moment to adjust to Saba's voice. If you stick with it, however, you're in for a beautiful and exhilirating read. The sequel is due any day.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Main Library


December 17, 2012

Dare Me, by Megan Abbott

Dare Me
by Megan Abbott

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Last year Megan Abbott made it clear that she knows a thing about teenage girls with her haunting thriller, The End of Everything. With this new book she continues to explore the darker side of today’s Queen Bees. Dare Me takes you into a twisted world of high school cheerleaders and their sociopathic team captain who demands complete loyalty. When a new coach threatens the group's dynamic, things quickly escalate out of control. Abbott is a sharp writer whose uncanny ability to create psychological drama will leave you spooked, satisfied, and glad you’re not a teenage girl.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Main Library


August 15, 2012

Boomerang Kids, by Carl Pickhardt

Boomerang Kids: A Revealing Look at Why So Many of Our Children are Failing on Their Own, and How Parents Can Help
by Carl Pickhardt

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Boomerang Kids speaks to parents of 20-somethings who have either tried college and flunked out or moved back home due to other failures. The book helps parents understand what the setbacks mean to the child of the 21 st century, how to talk to them, how to guide them, and what the next steps should be in helping the boomerang child get back on the road to success. Highly recommended, even for parents of teens not yet facing college. The advice is relevant and insightful for parenting today to help keep kids from ending up back at home with failures to undo.

reviewed by Pam Rudkin, Maumelle Library


February 23, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood , by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood
by Kendare Blake

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Stories of teen boys striving to follow in their father’s illustrious footsteps are not particularly uncommon – unless the father happens to be one of the world’s premiere ghost hunters. This is the case with our protagonist, Cass, a teen who travels the country with his widowed Wiccan mother slaying bad ghosties. In a market saturated with paranormal tales, Kendare Blake’s clever and often near campy take on the gothic ghost story stands out for its sheer fun factor – think Ghostbusters meets Heathers. While the plot isn’t the strongest, the Juno-esque prose is enough to keep you wanting more. Fans of Charlaine Harris and dark humor should get a kick out of this read. A sequel is due out in August 2012.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Main Library

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, by Alex Gilvarry

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant
by Alex Gilvarry

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The detainment center of Guantanamo Bay is not a likely setting for a tale hilarious enough to make you cry, but Alex Gilvarry delivers just that. This footnote-laden “memoir” is presented as the confession of the naive young designer Boy – a Williamsburg star via the Philippines who finds himself accused of funding terrorist plots with his fashion line. The entire text is “edited” by a magazine writer, whose insightful, sometimes catty, corrections of Boy's narrative lead to much of the novel’s sardonic humor. Gilvarry peppers the text with ridiculously spot-on cultural references and frightfully accurate political machinations. This outlandish, post-modern whirlwind is an engaging (and sometimes) disturbing book that deserves a second read.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Main Library

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Divergent
by Veronica Roth

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For those anxiously awaiting the cinematic release of The Hunger Games, this first in a trilogy does an impressive job carrying the dystopian YA torch. Divergent stands out from the hoardes of similar titles hitting the shelves. (Note the heavily hyped book is already in the process of being brought to film.) In post-disaster Chicago, the population is split into five castes, each focused on one virtue, such as knowledge or honesty. At the age of 16, each citizen must choose to remain in their family's caste or venture into a new group (and hope to make it through their initiation.) While the seemingly prerequisite love-triangle becomes trite, the novelty of the plot and fast-paced action steers the book forward at an exuberant clip. The second book is due out in May 2012.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Main Library


February 15, 2012

Taft 2012, by Jason Heller

Taft 2012
by Jason Heller

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William Howard Taft was the first president to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery and the last one to wear facial hair. But his presidency fell between Theodore Roosevelt's and Woodrow Wilson's, and today he is largely forgotten. This book imagines an alternate history where Taft disappears before Wilson's inauguration, then reappears on the White House lawn in 2012. And, after being amazed by Twinkies and Wii golf, he decides, with the help of a Taft scholar, a Secret Service agent and his great-granddaughter, to get back into politics. Technically an alternate history, this first novel reads more like a fable. Funny, but surprisingly wise and stirring, this book has a lot to recommend it to both present-day readers and ones from years in the future.

reviewed by Joe Hudak, McMath Library

Butcher's Moon, by Richard Stark

Butcher's Moon
by Richard Stark

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The late Donald E. Westlake was a very productive author, both under his own name, which he used mostly for comic caper novels, and as Richard Stark, the pseudonym he used for more hard-boiled crime fiction, most of it featuring a professional thief named Parker (the Parker books have also been adapted into the movies Point Blank and Payback, and as graphic novels by Darwyn Cooke). The plot – Parker has left some money behind after a robbery, and he wants it back – sounds simple, but, as usual, things don't go as planned. By the time the story is over, he has gathered some old friends and shut down an entire crime syndicate. There are more than twenty Parker novels, but this is one of the best.

reviewed by Joe Hudak, McMath Library


February 13, 2012

After the Train,  by Gloria Whelan

After the Train
by Gloria Whelan

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This book is yet another child’s perspective on post WWII West Germany, where the child is sorting through his confusion over the state of West Germany vs. East Germany, differences between the Jews now living in his community and his own Christian faith, and his parents’ seemingly peaceful life. He is astute enough to realize not everything is as it seems, and he understands some things that have happened in his country in the past few years. But then he finds and reads a letter that throws everything he ever believed into chaos. Thirteen-year-old Peter, the main character, explores his suspicions until he learns the truth: that he is a Jew that was rescued from the death trains, a fact he was never supposed to have learned.

Peter explores his unsettling feelings about Jews, who he is, and how to reconcile the two. Readers who enjoyed The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Book Thief will find this juvenile book similar in theme and depth of understanding.

reviewed by Pam Rudkin, Maumelle Library


November 14, 2011

Hole in My Life, by Jack Gantos

Hole in My Life
by Jack Gantos

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This autobiography is a short but poignant picture of a young man in his twenties making bad choices and living through the consequences to become a successful writer. Jack Gantos describes his youth as an aspiring author, looking for ways to gain insight and make quick cash. He discovers marijuana and foolishly involves himself in a drug-smuggling scheme for which he can earn $10,000 to pay for college. His life quickly spirals downward as he is arrested and placed in a federal prison. In an attempt to survive prison life, he volunteers to work with the medical team at the prison, while his idealistic pleas for parole are denied. Gantos is candid and honest about his decisions and his thought processes, and his story is inspiring and heartbreaking all at the same time. He is able to define the points in his life that pushed him from aspiring to write to actually writing, and very successfully at that. He has written more than 30 books for children.

reviewed by Pam Rudkin, Maumelle Library


October 31, 2011

Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work, by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot

Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work
by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot

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Kamozawa and Talbot, who co-write the Ideas in Food blog and Popular Science's "Kitchen Alchemy" column, produce a very smart cookbook filled with thorough explanations and aimed at adventurous and ambitious home cooks. Perfect for a reader that's learned as much as they can from Alton Brown and America's Test Kitchen, but isn't quite ready to make the leap to Nathan Myrhvold's multivolume Modernist Cuisine.

reviewed by Joe Hudak, McMath Library


August 11, 2011

Chinaberry Sidewalks, by Rodney Crowell

Chinaberry Sidewalks
by Rodney Crowell

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Chinaberry Sidewalks is a terrific memoir. I’ve been recommending it to everyone who enjoys biographies.

reviewed by Cindy Powell, Branch Manager, Nixon Library


June 14, 2011

Running the Books, by Avi Steinberg

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian
by Avi Steinberg

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Running the Books, by Avi Steinberg, is a compelling, funny, and deeply thought-provoking re-telling of this Harvard-bred would-be-rabbi-turned-librarian’s indoctrination and experiences working in a Boston prison. Steinberg will make you laugh, cry, and soberly look at this new “culture” in which he is suddenly immersed. Steinberg finds that the prison library is the place where inmates leave “kites” (or notes) for one another tucked inside the books, where they transact illicit activities, and where they can steal books to fashion weapons.

Steinberg is constantly battling the urge to extend a hand of friendship against the necessity for strictly enforcing prison policy. His eyes are opened to a whole new world that is virtually invisible outside the prison walls, like the cryptic radio “shout outs” among prisoners and “skywriting,” a form of sign language used from window to window around the prison between inmates. He is struck by the number of children always at the prison, and he is challenged to think beyond his own self and his own life.

When you’re reading this book, you forget that the events are actually true, because Steinberg’s writing style is very novelistic. He relates actual conversations in the prison vernacular, and the quotations can be a bit crude—but they are very believable conversations one might have with pimps, thieves, prostitutes, drug dealers, and gangsters (or so I imagine). While non-fiction, this book would make a great book club selection and for fascinating group discussions.

reviewed by Pam Rudkin, Branch Manager, Maumelle Library


June 8, 2011

How to Eat a Small Country: A Family’s Pursuit of Happiness, One Meal at a Time / Amy Finley

How to Eat a Small Country: A Family’s Pursuit of Happiness, One Meal at a Time
by Amy Finley

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Amy Finley, winner of the third season of The Next Food Network Star, candidly shares with us the nine month journey that she, her husband, and two children spent in France in an effort to reclaim the marriage and knit the family closer together. Along the way we learn the history of France and French cooking, learn gourmet cooking techniques, and meet some very interesting French characters as Amy and her family eat their way through France one meal at a time. Filled with raw honesty as well as humor, How to Eat a Small Country is a book to be savored.

reviewed by Jeannie Burrus, Main Library Patron Services

Shoot the Damn Dog: a Memoir of Depression / Sally Brampton

Shoot the Damn Dog: a Memoir of Depression
by Sally Brampton

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In this powerful memoir, Sally Brampton shares her devastating struggle with depression. While living in England and raising a young daughter, Brampton experiences years of debilitating depression, alcoholism, hospitalizations, and rehab. In her story she includes everyday details of how the crippling pain of depression lords over each hour of each day. With the help of her family, friends, and medication (which at times increasingly adds to her ailments), she is slowly able to recover and re-enter society. Brampton also depicts the vital role her fellow sufferers and general philosophies play in her road to recuperation and the continual fight against "the damn dog." This is an emotionally difficult but rather quick read and reveals much about the illness of severe depression.

reviewed by Sarah Shera, The Prose Garden Café


April 29, 2011

My Cool Caravan / Jane Field-Lewis and Chris Haddon

My Cool Caravan: an Inspirational Guide to Retro-style Caravans
by Jane Field-Lewis and Chris Haddon

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Sometimes, especially in Spring, books with lots of words lose their appeal. The pollen crowding our brains leaves little room for cognitive function, and interesting books with lots of pictures are the only prescription. My Cool Caravan is a British book, but it touches a very American sense of wanderlust with lots of photos and short descriptions of vintage wheeled boxes.

A dizzying variety of caravans is represented—everything from VW buses to refurbished 30s-era Airstreams. Each caravan's profile is heavy with photos and includes a small blurb about the history of the trailer, style notes, maybe a little about the owners. The reading is light, but the gypsy impulse this book inspires is strong.

reviewed by Stewart Fuell, Main Library, Adult Non-Fiction


April 5, 2011

Rogue Island / Bruce DeSilva

Rogue Island
by Bruce DeSilva

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An old-school Rhode Island newspaper reporter investigates the complicated scheme and layers of corruption behind a series of arsons. This is DeSilva's first novel, but he worked in journalism for forty years, and it shows. This is a well-constructed and darkly funny neo-noir that displays an insider's knowledge about both the city of Providence and the realities of the modern newspaper business. Recommended for fans of Michael Connelly and the fifth season of The Wire.

reviewed by Joe Hudak, McMath Library


March 16, 2011

Batwoman : elegy / Greg Rucka, writer ; J.H. Williams III, artist ; Dave Stewart, colorist ; Todd Klein, letters

Batwoman: Elegy
by Greg Rucka

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If there was any question that comic books aren’t for kids anymore, Greg Rucka’s Batwoman: Elegy answers that with a resounding "yes." Sophisticated artwork and intricate plotting are the highlights of this story of a young lesbian ex-soldier searching for identity after being discharged from the Marines. The first half finds Kate Kane battling an underground Gotham City cult, while the second is an origin story that fleshes out the already compelling character. While it retains the usual hallmarks of most superhero stories (banter-filled fistfights, a somewhat convoluted mythology, and surprise guest appearances) the overall approach is decidedly adult in its telling and subject matter. The ending is a bit abrupt; hinting at what will hopefully be the next of many installments to come.

reviewed by Angelic Saulsberry, Main Library Adult Nonfiction


February 18, 2011

Special Exits / Joyce Farmer

Special Exits
by Joyce Farmer

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Really heartbreaking account of Farmer's care for her father and stepmother in their final four years. It is stridently unsentimental, but genuinely affectionate at the same time. There is a great deal of denial to chip away at (from the blind woman and the deaf man each but moreso in their almost comedic but decidedly tender collaboration), but when they surrender to the medical community, they are very poorly handled. This book was 13 years in the making and Farmer put insane amounts of craft into this, drawing dense panels full of confident lines and telling details of these hoarders clinging to the collapsing detritus of decades of life in that house. It is a tribute to her parents, a sore rant against the low-end elder care that the market fosters, and an emotional gut-punch to anyone who has considered the care their own parents will need and vacillated in the least about what it will extract from them.

reviewed by John McGraw, Head of Reference

The Ask / Sam Lipsyte

The Ask
by Sam Lipsyte

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Just impossibly good, impossibly smart mid-life crisis tale of Milo Burke trying to keep his present from collapsing with a revisit from past friends. Lipsyte makes one beautiful sentence after another and really allows Milo's tragedy to have a lot of comedy to it. I'm not perfectly in love with the wrap-up, but I'm happy with where our boy comes out in the end. I really didn't want this book to end.

reviewed by John McGraw, Head of Reference


January 12, 2011

The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture / Nathan Rabin

The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture
by Nathan Rabin

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Nathan Rabin, head writer for The Onion's website avclub.com, uses a framework of books, movies, tv shows and albums to tell his unusual life story and talk about the redemptive and life-affirming powers of popular entertainment. Candid, poignant and sometimes hilarious, this book is recommended for fans of the modern memoir, readers of The Onion, and anyone who came of age during the '80s or '90s.

reviewed by Joe Hudak, McMath Library


December 28, 2010

Dogfight, a love story : a novel / Matt Burges

Dogfight: A Love Story
by Matt Burges

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Alfredo is a 19-year old small-time drug dealer in New York City. He and his pregnant girlfriend live in his parents' apartment, and his older brother is about to come home from prison. To celebrate, and to earn some money for a welcome-home present, Alfredo is going to put on a dogfight. But first, he has to steal a pit bull. It's going to be a very bad weekend.

reviewed by Joe Hudak, McMath Library

Metallica

Metallica: This Monster Lives

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The author is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who went from doing small-scale rural studies (including the West Memphis 3 documentary Paradise Lost) to spending four years filming the thousands of hours of rock-star group-therapy sessions that led up to heavy-metal band Metallica's St. Anger album. The book explores both the documentary-making process and the things that had to be left out of the two-hour movie. Recommended for Metallica fans, documentary lovers, and people who like to know the rest of the story.

reviewed by Joe Hudak, McMath Library


December 21, 2010

The perfection point : sport science predicts the fastest man, the highest jump, and the limits of athletic performance / John Brenkus

The Perfection Point: Sport Science Predicts the Fastest Man, The Highest Jump, and the Limits of Athletic Performance
by John Brenkus

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People used to think that no one would ever run a mile in less than four minutes. But after Roger Bannister first broke the record in 1954, the fastest-mile time has been surpassed repeatedly, and it now stands at 3:43.13. But what is the fastest mile that any human being will ever run, or the highest that someone will ever jump, or the heaviest weight that someone will ever lift? Brenkus gathers scientists' best information and makes some bold predictions. Recommended for fans of sports, speculative nonfiction and the limits of human potential.

reviewed by Joe Hudak, McMath Library


August 20, 2010

Beneath The Sands Of Egypt: Adventures Of An Unconventional Archaeologist / Donald P. Ryan

Beneath The Sands Of Egypt: Adventures Of An Unconventional Archaeologist
by Donald P. Ryan

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Donald P. Ryan's Beneath The Sands Of Egypt: Adventures Of An Unconventional Archaeologist is a recommended read for archaeology enthusiasts and armchair Egyptologists alike. Ryan outlines his career path surveying tombs in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, cataloging petroglyphs in Hawaii, working with Thor Heyerdahl on the mysterious pyramids of Tenerife, and back again to the Valley of the Kings. Although his tale is full of discovery and adventure Ryan dispels the myth that an archaeologist's swashbuckling life consists of plundering priceless artifacts while being pursued by Nazis.

reviewed by Ellen Bard, Staff Training Coordinator

Hell / Robert Olen Butler

Hell
by Robert Olen Butler

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Why am I here? That's the question on everybody's mind in Hell. And everybody is there. Robert Olen Butler wittily crafts a specifically appropriate torture for each of the Devil's minions. Most people are prisoners of their own compulsions and subject to an endless stream of inconveniences and indignities. When Hatcher McCord, anchorman of the Evening News From Hell, discovers that Satan cannot read his thoughts he attempts to exercise his free will and escape from the underworld with the assistance of his ex-wives.

reviewed by Ellen Bard, Staff Training Coordinator

Leisureville: Adventures in America's Retirement Utopias / Andrew D. Blechman

Leisureville: Adventures in America's Retirement Utopias
by Andrew D. Blechman

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In Leisureville: Adventures in America's Retirement Utopias Andrew D. Blechman explores why more and more senior citizens choose to relocate to age-segregated, gated communities. During his month-long stay at Florida's "The Villages" Blechman observes first-hand the pursuit of leisure and love among aging Americans, examines the structure and governance of retirement villages, and questions the sustainability of these artificial yet lovely monocultures.

reviewed by Ellen Bard, Staff Training Coordinator


August 18, 2010

The Line / Teri Hall

The Line
by Teri Hall

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This compelling first novel will leave you yearning for more. Set sometime in America's future where the border has been secured and every civilian has their genome recorded at birth, The Line is a truly original piece of work. Fans of the Hunger Games will devour this story. Rachel has spent the majority of her life on "The Property" where her mother works as a housekeeper for the wealthy and forboding Ms. Moore. Despite numerous reprimands, Rachel is intrigued by thoughts of life "Away" (or across the border.) As she finds out more about the world in which she is living, Rachel must make some hard decisions that will change the course of her and her mom's life forever.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Terry Library Youth Programmer

This Gorgeous Game / Donna Freitas

This Gorgeous Game
by Donna Freitas

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When Olivia, a straight-laced high school student, receives a free scholarship to a big-shot priest's writing seminar, she is overjoyed. Her professor, Father Mark, is very enthusiastic about Olivia's work, further thrilling the young girl. Soon, however, Father Mark begins constantly demanding attention from Olivia. This is a very suspenseful and important book that tackles a difficult situation in a very realistic way from the perspective of a naïve and hopeful young woman.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Terry Library Youth Programmer

The Everafter / Amy Huntley

The Everafter
by Amy Huntley

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This haunting YA mystery has tones of the The Lovely Bones but manages to be completely unique. We are introduced to Maddy, a teenager, who finds she has reached the afterlife. As she drifts through the ether, she encounters objects from her life that send her spiraling into her past. As the seens unfold, we learn about Maddy's life and loves and, eventually, the cause of her death. This book sneaks up on you, but you will remember it long afterward.

reviewed by Jami Kath Harrison, Terry Library Youth Programmer


August 13, 2010

Last Night I Sang to the Monster / Benjamin Saenz

Last Night I Sang to the Monster
by Benjamin Saenz

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Eighteen-year-old Zach is in rehab instead of high school. He doesn't know how he got there, and he doesn't know what happened to his family. He isn't sure he even wants to know, because all he can remember is blood. But he's going to have to learn to face his personal demons if he's ever going to survive…

reviewed by DJ Jackson, Fletcher Library Youth Programmer

Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse  / Victor Gischler

Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse
by Victor Gischler

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When a series of catastrophes causes The Fall of All Civilization, ordinary insurance salesman Mortimer Tate decides to hole up in the mountains of Tennessee and ride it out. Nine years later, out of sheer boredom, he comes out of hiding to behold a bizarre landscape filled with hollow reminders of an America that no longer exists. With his sidekick Buffalo Bill and the deadly-but-gorgeous Sheila at his side, Mort begins a quest (as hilarious as it is perilous) to reunite with his ex-wife, resulting in a confrontation that may decide the fate of what remains of humanity.

reviewed by DJ Jackson, Fletcher Library Youth Programmer


July 15, 2010

The Ghost Map / Stephen Johnson

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic—And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
by Stephen Johnson

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A compelling historical account of the worst cholera outbreak Victorian London had ever seen. Dr. John Snow sets about tracking the disease back to its source and, in doing so, to changes the way we think about cleanliness and contagion.

reviewed by Ellen Bard, Staff Training Coordinator

The lost city of Z / David Grann

The Lost City of Z : a Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
by David Grann

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For centuries Europeans have sought the lost golden city of El Dorado. New Yorker writer David Grann sets out to discover what really happened to Percy Fawcett's famous expedition that disappeared in the Amazon basin while searching for the City Of Gold in 1925. The author endures an odyssey through the impenetrable rain forest and discusses his theory that the Amazon basin could have supported a large-scale society.

reviewed by Ellen Bard, Staff Training Coordinator

The Fall of Troy / Peter Ackroyd

The Fall of Troy
by Peter Ackroyd

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Peter Ackroyd uses an archaeological dig in Turkey as the setting for a tale of intellectual obsession and gold. An accomplished novelist and historian, Ackroyd transforms history into lively fiction. Based on the larger-than-life historical figure Heinrich Schliemann, the main character single-mindedly seeks the lost city of Homer's Troy with a genius that borders on mania. In his attempt to establish the heroes of the Iliad as fact he brooks no opposition to his one overriding goal. But pride goes before the fall as his plan careens out of his control.

reviewed by Ellen Bard, Staff Training Coordinator

The Egyptologist / Arthur Phillips

The Egyptologist
by Arthur Phillips

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Phillips' epistolary novel is full of colorful, if wholly unreliable, characters. The protagonist goes to great lengths to establish the "facts" surrounding a forgotten pharaoh he is convinced existed based on some fragments of erotic rhymes. Meanwhile a detective investigates the mysterious death of an Australian archaeologist. The reader gets the feeling that neither party is revealing the full truth.

reviewed by Ellen Bard, Staff Training Coordinator


April 19, 2010

Going Bovine / Libby Bray

Going Bovine
by Libby Bray

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Cameron is a 16 year old slacker with a distant and dysfunctional family, but all that changes when he is diagnosed with Creutzfelt-Jacob - "Mad Cow Disease" for humans. As he lies in his hospital bed-brain deteriorating by the minute-he is charged with a quest, by a pink-haired punk of an angel with spray painted wings, to rescue the universe from a Dark Wizard by finding the mysterious and elusive Dr. X. The good doctor not only holds the key to the survival of the universe but also to the survival of Cameron. But journey alone he will not; joining him is his hospital roommate, a Mexican-American hypochondriac dwarf who is obsessed with video games, and a yard gnome who is actually a cursed Viking God. Will Cameron and his friends be able to save the universe or is the entire quest one massively convoluted hallucination? Only the readers of this wonderfully humorous book will be the wiser!

reviewed by Jonathan Nichols, Children's Programmer, Dee Brown Library


April 6, 2010

Mark Z. Danielewski's house of leaves / Zampano

House of Leaves
by Mark Z. Danielewski

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This book is like the bible of experimental fiction, filled with footnotes, pictures, hidden messages, upside down and backward text, and more. It's essentially a Russian doll composed of three stories. A story about a book about a film about a house that is larger on the inside than the outside.

reviewed by Darrel McLaughlin, Collection Development


January 11, 2010

Logicomix : an epic search for truth / Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou

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A compelling history of math and logic in the early 20th century, interwoven with themes of the mad lives of the logicians pursuing certainty on paper and folly in the world, and set against the question of whether Bertrand Russell and America generally should get involved in the European war of September 1939. This is a history of ideas compressed and inflated as need be to set up a tension between a quest that failed before it succeeded and its applicability to the matters of the heart which torment philosophical giants and humble readers alike. There are wonderful meta moments when the authors and artists discuss the story you hold in your hands, and the art is simply exquisite even if you do not care one iota for the foundations of mathematics or logical certainty or principles of verification.

reviewed by John McGraw, Manager, McMath Library

Gilligan's wake / Tom Carson

Gilligan's Wake
by Tom Carson

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An insane but brilliant fantasy distillation of the 20th century, expressed through scattered moments from the lives of the castaways on Gilligan's Island before they were marooned. Mixing up a veritable encyclopedia of pop culture, themes and images recur until you begin to get some sense of the lunatic projecting all of these fantasies.

reviewed by John McGraw, Manager, McMath Library


January 4, 2010

The way we live now / Anthony Trollope

The Way We Live Now
by Anthony Trollope

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Anthony Trollope's satire of life in Victorian England. Romance, passion, repressed romantic passion, greed, revenge, forgiveness, and, of course, love at last. It is a clear-eyed picture of the wealthy and those striving for wealth at that time. He devotes a good deal of consideration to the role of women in that society. It is a very satisfying read.

reviewed by Maribeth Murray, Adult Programs Coordinator, Main Library


October 13, 2009

A field guide to sprawl / Dolores Hayden

A Field Guide to Sprawl
by Dolores Hayden

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Architecture professor Hayden provides a new vocabulary for talking about the way that American geography is changing around urban and suburban areas, and suggests ways we can move to more sustainable landscapes. Jim Wark's aerial photographs find the beauty in the ugliness.

reviewed by Joseph Hudak, McMath Library


October 6, 2009

I've Loved You So Long

I've Loved You So Long

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A sad but beautiful film about love, family, and forgiveness and what happens when the bond of family is torn apart by a terrible event. Juliette has just been released from prison for an unthinkable crime. Her story — and the mystery behind her crime — slowly unfolds as she readjusts to life, finds a job, and reunites with her younger sister, from whom she's been estranged. In French with English subtitles, this is a graceful and contemplative film.

reviewed by Sarah McClure, Branch Manager, Dee Brown Library


September 29, 2009

Black lamb and grey falcon : a journey through Yugoslavia / Rebecca West

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon : A Journey Through Yugoslavia
by Rebecca West

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Rebecca West's account of her pre-World War II journey through Yugoslavia constitutes more than just another travelogue 7mdash; rather, it is a searing investigation into human nature and Western history.

reviewed by Guy Lancaster, Editor, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas


September 22, 2009

Wristcutters : a love story

Wristcutters: A Love Story

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This dark, romantic comedy may sound like typical indie fare: Boy meets girl. Boy gets separated from girl. Boy goes on a road trip with friends to find girl and gains a new perspective on life. Except everybody's dead. Low key, wistful and absurd

reviewed by Michael Chambers, Collection Development

History of the world in photographs / Getty Images ; Encyclopedia Britannica

History of the World in Photographs

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It's easy to spend hours paging through this incredible book. It's organized by decade in a timeline starting in 1850 and continuing through 2007. More than 6,000 events in the timeline by Encyclopaedia Britannica are illustrated with photographs, drawings, and paintings from the Getty Images collection. From Harriet Tubman to Benazir Bhutto, this book covers major world figures and events in a visually intriguing format.

Please note: this is a reference book available for use only within the library.

reviewed by Ashley Pillow, Head of Reference


September 15, 2009

The atlas of food : who eats what, where, and why / Erik Millstone and Tim Lang

The Atlas of Food: Who Eats What, Where and Why
by Erik Millstone and Tim Lang

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Did you know that Americans spend almost $2,500 per person eating out? Or, that in 2007, Burger King had 11,283 restaurants in 69 countries? How about the fact that the food industry spends over $24 billion a year on chemical food additives to improve the color, flavour, texture and shelf-life of its products? You will find this and much more in this award-winning atlas.

Please note: this is a reference book available for use only within the library.

reviewed by Mary Moore, Reference Department, Main Library


August 25, 2009

jonathan strange and mr. norrell, by susanna clarke

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

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Set in a magicless 19th century England, two men, each from unique viewpoints on magic, seek to restore this long forgotten art. Filled with richly portrayed characters and numerous storylines that delicately weave together forming a work you will not want to put down. DO NOT let its length deter you!

reviewed by Jonathan Nichols, Children's Programmer, Dee Brown Library

the aspiring poet's journal, by bernard friot

The Aspiring Poet's Journal
by Bernard Friot

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A great book for kids and teens interested in writing and poetry. The book has examples and exercises of various forms of poetry, all creative and artfully done. If you follow the book each day, you will have a year's worth of journal entries by the end of it, and enough inspiration to keep writing.

reviewed by Sarah McClure, Branch Manager, Dee Brown Library


August 18, 2009

sundown towns, by james loewen

Sundown Towns: a Hidden Dimension of American Racism
by James W. Loewen

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James Loewen provides the first authoritative exploration of the phenomenon of "sundown towns"—communities in which African Americans were forbidden, usually by means of violence and intimidation, from residing. In doing so, he breaks down the typical North-South dichotomy and reveals an entire nation implicated in institutional racism.

reviewed by Guy Lancaster, Editor, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas

the eyre affair, by jasper fforde

The Eyre Affair
by Jasper Fforde

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This is the first in Fforde's Thursday Next series, and you'll be captivated by the witty wordplay and literary references. In The Eyre Affair, Thursday Next is an operative in the Literary Division of Britain's Special Operations Network, and she is after the 3rd most wanted criminal, Acheron Hades, who has been stealing characters from great works of British literature. Thursday must stop Hades before he alters Jane Eyre beyond recognition. Fforde's books are clever and zany with a little bit of mystery mingled with science fiction, fantasy, parody, and social satire.

reviewed by Ashley Pillow, Head of Reference


August 11, 2009

miracle myx, by dave diotalevi

Miracle Myx
by Dave Diotalevi

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Death has its advantages for 14-year-old Myx Amens; he is now gifted with special powers of perception, memory and (literally) tireless curiousity. Good thing too, because when one of his classmates gets murdered, he'll need all the help he can get to track the killer, or he may wind up dead - for good!

reviewed by Don Jackson, Fletcher Library Youth Programmer

mountains beyond mountains, by tracy kidder

Mountains Beyond Mountains
by Tracy Kidder

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Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder follows Dr. Paul Farmer as Farmer tries to change the lives of the poorest of the poor in Haiti. Readable memoir of one of the most noted social entrepreneurs of our time.

reviewed by Maribeth Murray, Adult Programs Coordinator, Main Library