Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Colette recommends "Michael Tolliver Lives"

Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin

Continuing with the story of 'Mouse' aka Michael Tolliver of Maupin's Tales of the City series which explored gay life in 1970's San Francisco. You may have seen the movie version on PBS with Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis.

Decades have passed and the remaining friends have survived the illness and changes of the previous quarter century. This is a stand alone book, but also serves as an exceptionally satisfying wrap-up revisiting well loved characters. All are growing older and faced with their own mortality and the fragility of those they love. This is an extraordinarily sweet, humorous and warm story about valuing family, friends and loving relationships in the gay community. "Generous in showing us the secrets of his heart," Armistead Maupin brings a humanity and affection to his characters that makes it a treat to once more share in the life of some of the former tenants of Barbary Lane.

Adult. Gay content and sexually explicit in parts.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Colette recommends "The Sociopath Next Door"

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

Contrary to popular belief, sociopaths are not all crazed psycho-serial killers. The author, a practicing psychologist, contends that 4% of the population is sociopathic according to reports and studies generated by the American Psychological Association.

Sociopathy is identified as a lack of the 7th sense…conscience. "People devoid of an intervening sense of obligation based upon inter-connectedness to others."

Using examples of case studies of sociopaths as well as victims of this behavior, the book is well organized and written with an articulate and clear presentation. It is an interesting treatise on recognizing and coping with sociopathic behavior in our society. 1 in 25. hmmm. Look around you.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Christina recommends "The Looking Glass Wars"

Frank Beddor's reworked version of Alice in Wonderland is action-packed, and wonderfully dark. If you are a fan of Lewis Carrol's original, you will definitely appreciate the creativity and lush detail in this novel. Beddor's novel combines technology with fantasy, and reintroduces the classic characters in a fresh, exciting new light. This novel also has a sequel, Seeing Red.

Perfect for young adults.

Annie recommends "Way Off The Road"

If you enjoy Bill Geist's entertaining segments on CBS Sunday Morning, you'll love this compilation of stories he collected touring our great nation. Laugh-out-loud funny stories of small town America as well as his adventures traveling in an RV. From a one woman town to all the 'festivals' we celebrate, it's a great view of the America we often miss. Also great to listen to on CD. For adult readers.

Enriqueta recommends "The spirit catches you and you fall down: a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures"

This is a very interesting case study reflecting huge cultural differences regarding medical care between Hmong people and western medicine.

This book is appropriate for adult readers.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kathy M. recommends "How Starbucks Saved My Life"

Michael Gill had it all: upper-class New York upbringing, private schooling, Ivy League education, beautiful wife, children, big house in Manhattan and a well-paid prestigious position with one of the top ad agencies in New York. This life of privilege and all of its perks soon comes tumbling down when Michael loses his job due to downsizing, has an affair (and a new baby), is divorced and learns he has a brain tumor. The one thing in Michael's life that gives him comfort is his daily latte at Starbucks. Having been unable to find a job, he's surprised with a young African American woman at Starbucks approaches his table and asks him -- not if he is enjoying his coffee, but -- if he would like a job working for her at Starbucks. Why not? he wonders, and he accepts the job, not knowing that this will mean long commutes on public transportation to a inner city neighborhood, low pay, and a new -- and very different -- set of work standards.

Filled with tidbits on the inner workings of Starbucks, Michael Gill tells the story of how he finds satisfaction in a job well done, enthusiasm for even the lowliest job (cleaning the bathroom), and many other simple life lessons we so often forget.

Being the coffee fanatic that I am, I enjoyed this story with a Venti Caramel Macchiato at my favorite coffee house.

Matt recommends "The Echo Maker"

Winner of the 2006 National Book Award, Richard Powers's The Echo Maker is a penetrating novel about a young Nebraska man who, after a terrible car accident, develops a real neurological disorder that causes patients to think that the people closest to them are imposters. When his older sister flies back home to help him recover, her desperate attempts to convince him that she really is his sister become the springboard for a fascinating and moving exploration of the complexities of identity. Set against the glorious natural spectacle of the migration of sandhill cranes along the Platte River, The Echo Maker is a smart, beautifully-written book that has as much to say about living in a post-9/11 world as it does about what it means to be human. The best book I've read in years, it's one that will stay with you long after you finish it. For adult readers.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Janet recommends "A Crooked Kind of Perfect"

Ten year old Zoe Elias dreams of having a grand piano, being recognized as a prodigy and performing at Carnegie Hall. Instead, she gets a Perfectone D-60 electric organ, lessons included. Soon she is preparing to perform in the Perfectone Perform-O-Rama. Zoe’s world includes a workaholic mother, an agoraphobic father, a quirky organ teacher, and a classmate who comes home with Zoe after school each day to bake with Zoe’s dad. Told in first person narrative and chapters that range from 2 words to a few pages, this book is both poignant and funny. Set in Michigan, this sweet story is appropriate for ages 8-12.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Annie recommends "Under the Banner of Heaven"

This book, by award winning author Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild, Into Thin Air), presents a fascinating, yet frightening look at Mormon fundamentalism. It highlights the murder of a young woman and her child by her brothers-in-law, religious zealots who claim they killed for God. I found it very scary to see how charismatic people can persuade others to do just about anything "in the name of God". Hard to believe this happened in America, not in the Middle East. To support the story, the author traces the history of the Mormon religion, from it's establishment in the early 1800's to the present day LDS church, as well as the break-off fundamentalist sects. Very enlightening. For adult readers.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Beth recommends "The Dangers of Deceiving a Viscount"

Starred reviews drew me to this delightful story set in Regency England. My usual reading choices are mysteries and thrillers, so for me to recommend a romance is high praise. Lady Phoebe Fairchild disguises herself as Madame Dupree, tradeswoman/seamstress, to make ends meet; Viscount Summerfield employs "Madame" to dress his unruly sisters for society - and the sparks fly. The characters are intelligent and engaging, and the plot moves swiftly. Age: adult

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Lisa recommends "The Field Guide"

This first book in The Spiderwick Chronicles takes you into the fantastical world of fairies and goblins. Follow it with The Seeing Stone, Lucinda's Secret, The Ironwood Tree, and The Wrath of Mulgarath. This series is an ideal one for a reluctant reader or for someone who wants a quick fantasy read. Each book is around 120 pages. Read the series before you see the movie this February. Recommended for grades 3-5.