Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kathy recommends "A Redbird Christmas" by Fannie Flagg

If you’re looking for a truly heartwarming tale this holiday season take some time out of your busy schedule to read Fannie Flagg’s A Redbird Christmas. It is the story of 52-year-old Oswald T. Campbell, diagnosed with terminal emphysema, who decides to leave his solitary life behind in cold, damp Chicago to spend his last days in tiny Lost River, Alabama. He meets the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, a redbird named Jack, a Creole community and little crippled Patsy Casey. Like a good cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day, the story is both bitter and sweet with a charming ending – perfect for an afternoon’s escape from the craziness of the season.

Recommended for young adults and adults.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lisa recommends "Donkey Kong Country Returns" (Wii)

One of my favorite games of all time was Donkey Kong Country on the SNES back in the 90's. I was really excited to see it come out for Wii as Donkey Kong Country Returns. If you played the old game, then you will already be familiar with this one as it is pretty much the same game. The graphics and controls have been updated to look and work with the Wii for this generation of gamers. As an added bonus, you can play the levels with 2 players. Sometimes it is good for the classics to make a reappearance and this is one of those times.

Recommended for the whole family.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Matt recommends "Just Kids"

I'm a big fan of poet & rock musician Patti Smith, so I've had a copy of her recent memoir Just Kids sitting on my shelf since it came out earlier this year. I hadn't gotten around to reading it, though, until I heard a couple weeks ago that it won the National Book Award for nonfiction; reading about it in the news prompted me to pick it up, and I'm so glad I did.

Just Kids tells the story of Smith's relationship with the late artist Robert Mapplethorpe, mostly remembered these days for the often disturbing photographs he took in the '70s and '80s that caused scandal by blurring the line between art and pornography (but also remembered for his sensitive close-ups of flowers, two volumes of which you can find at CMPL). The two fledgling artists, both 21, find each other in New York City in the late '60s. They develop a profound bond that, as the book makes clear, has outlasted even Mapplethorpe's life: they become lovers (for a time), companions, advocates, and collaborators, encouraging and fueling each other's work in their attempts to find their own artistic voices. The book traces their lives from the end of the '60s through the '70s and '80s. Their relationship waxes and wanes in intensity as Mapplethorpe becomes more ambitious and Smith more famous, but it remains a constant in both of their lives until Mapplethorpe's tragic death from AIDS in 1989.

The book is great as a story of a unique partnership and as an account of two influential artists developing their talents in New York during what might have been the city’s most heady, crazy, dangerous, and magical days. (It takes place in a New York that really no longer exists; Smith has been famously encouraging young artists to move to Detroit instead these days.) It's marked by Smith's confident, steady, accessible voice; her singular poetic sensibility; and her deep well of affection for and complete acceptance of her best friend. Recommended for adults.

For more context to the story, click here to check out CMPL's selection of Patti Smith CDs (and compilation albums she appears on).

And click here to take a look at the books of Robert Mapplethorpe photography we have in the collection.

(Looking for even more? Talk to a librarian about requesting other books, CDs, and documentary films by & about the artists through MeL, the Michigan eLibrary.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beth recommends: "Echo" by Jack McDevitt

Is anyone out there? In Jack McDevitt’s world, humans have been traveling through space for 8,000 years and have encountered only one other sentient, alien race. Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath – dealers in interstellar antiquities, learn of an artifact owned by Somerset Tuttle, one of the most fervent believers in alien cultures. Tuttle devoted his life to the search, undeterred by his colleagues’ ridicule at his lack of success. A picture of this artifact, with its strange script, leads them to wonder about Tuttle’s last voyage, a voyage shrouded in mystery. In their search for the tablet, Alex and Chase attract the attention of individuals who are determined to delete that voyage from the historical record – at all costs. What happened on that trip? Who – or what – did Tuttle encounter? Why does even a casual mention of the tablet terrify Rachel Bannister, Tuttle’s friend and lover? Echo is the latest novel featuring Alex and Chase and I have thoroughly enjoyed every title in this series. Jack McDevitt has created a wide world “out there” – planets and cultures and space travel – that is fascinatingly detailed and complex as well as intimate and familiar despite its setting in the far future. Even if you are not a science fiction fan, I heartily recommend these stories of adventure and intrigue.

Recommended for: adults, young adults.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Matt recommends "Proud Mary: the Best of Ike and Tina Turner"

It struck me recently that I hadn't heard any of the music that Ike and Tina Turner made together in the 1960s and '70s besides the song "Proud Mary." Of course I've heard the sad story of their relationship, and growing up, I'd heard plenty of the music Tina made on her own, but I didn't really have a clue how it compared to what she'd done with Ike. I checked out the library's copy of "Proud Mary: the Best of Ike and Tina Turner" a few weeks ago and couldn't believe what I heard. What amazing stuff! It has a bit of Motown, a bit of blues, some soul, rock, even funk, and this is all in a single greatest hits compilation! The songs all have an exciting, rollicking zeal that I just can't get enough of, and Tina's voice is much more raw, forceful and unpolished than I expected. Many of the lyrics are about her devotion to Ike, which, knowing what we now know about their relationship, lends the whole thing a sense of poignancy, but the songs' joyful energy is catching nonetheless. All in all, I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't heard it and likes any of the musical styles mentioned above, as well as anyone who may have heard it before but forgot how great it sounds.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lisa recommends" The Seventh Level"

Are you looking for a middle school book that is a good read? Check out The Seventh Level, Jody Feldman’s 2nd book for kids/teens. Travis is invited to join a middle school secret society called the Legend, but in order to get in he has to solve seven puzzles. Some of the tasks he is given have a cruel undertone. Are they really from the Legend or is someone trying to get Travis into trouble? The Seventh Level is a fun and suspenseful read.

Recommended for grades 5-8

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lisa recommends "The Lost Hero"

For those who wondered what happened next at Camp Half-Blood, look no further! A new adventure has started with Jason, Piper, and Leo as they journey on a quest to save Hera from Mother Earth. Some of my favorite demigods reappear to aid the new heroes on their quest, including Annabeth. What is interesting in this new series is that there is some Roman mythology mixed up with the Greek. The length of the book looks intimidating, but it is a fast-paced read! Personally, this was Rick Riordan’s best adventure yet!

Recommended for grades 5+.

Also recommended: Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beth recommends: "The House Next Door" by Anne Rivers Siddons

‘Tis the season of Spooky. If you like Southern gothic horror stories, may I suggest The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons. If you know this author and her books, you might be surprised to learn that she produced a marvelous haunted house story back in the 1970’s – one which Stephen King praised and critiqued in his anecdotal book about the horror genre: Stephen King’s Danse Macabre. Colquitt and Walter Kennedy live next door to the last vacant lot in their beautiful upscale neighborhood. Architect Kim Dougherty builds an amazing house on that lot -- a house that looks almost alive. A very pleasant couple moves into the house next door…but evil has moved in first. Recommended for adults.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Beth recommends: "The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise"

The Tower of London is not just a dusty historical monument housing some flashy crown jewels; it is a bustling castle neighborhood with many residents – single folk, families, and of course the famous ravens. Julia Stuart’s novel tells the stories of a few of these lives as they are transformed by the influx of some very peculiar beasts and birds. Beefeater Balthazar Jones has been appointed keeper of the latest rendition of the Royal Menagerie which has just moved into the Tower. Along with caring for the animals gifted to the Queen from around the world, Balthazar watches helplessly as the love in his marriage fades; both he and his wife Hebe have let their profound sorrow over the death of their young son Milo erect a wall between them. The other Tower residents are delightfully eccentric, with their own poignant, heartfelt stories. Don’t be misled by reviews which describe the book as “whimsical” – it is that, but it also profoundly moving, speaking the truth about love and loss. I cried a little, laughed a lot, and highly recommend this book to adults and young adults.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lisa recommends Guilty Party (Wii)

For those wannabe sleuths, Guilty Party is for you! In Clue style, up to 4 players search various locations for clues before solving the mystery. Clues take the form of mini-games that have to be completed successfully for you to receive the clue. The animation and music is excellent (to be expected from a Disney video game). While the story mode seems to be the same every time through, the party mode has a different criminal every time. There are hours of enjoyment available to super sleuths with this game.

Recommended for all ages.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kara recommends "Finny" by Justin Kramon

This is just a feel-good coming of age story about a girl named Finny, the people important to her and the events that occur in her life over a period of about twenty years. I would recommend this book for adults who are looking for a quick, easy read, that is also really well written.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lisa Recommends "32 Candles"

If you grew up watching ALL of the Molly Ringwald movies from the 1980s, this book is for you! Davidia Jones grew up in a small town in Mississippi with an abusive mother. All through high school she feels invisible and actually quits talking to everyone. She often watches the Molly Ringwald movies as an escape from her current situation. When she is 17, she leaves small town life behind for good and heads for California. Her new life begins as a nightclub singer named Davie Jones. After a rocky start, she finds a life for herself, always dreaming of her one true love from high school that didn’t know she was alive at the time. She meets up again with her hometown crush, all grown up and still gorgeous. Although he doesn’t remember her, a steamy relationship begins. Once her love finds out who she really is and more facts about her past, Davie is alone once again. Find out if Davie ever gets the “Molly Ringwald” ending that she is longing for. This book is appropriate for adults.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kathy recommends "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand"

Helen Simonson’s debut novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, is quintessentially British in the finest sense of the word. Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, retired widower is brought together with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper in the village of Edgecombe St. Mary in Sussex, when she thoughtfully offers assistance as he navigates his grief following the death of his brother, Bertie. Their friendship blossoms, much to the consternation of his fellow villagers, culminating in the title referenced “last stand”. Underlying prejudices, wry humor, a touching late life romance, and all the trauma that extended family can produce make for an enjoyable story well worth the leisure time it takes to read.

Recommended for adults.

Lisa recommends "Clementine, Friend of the Week"

If you are looking for a short spunky heroine after finishing the Junie B. Jones series and Ramona books, then take a look at Clementine. In Clementine’s newest episode, she is worried about how to make the kids in her class write nice things about her in her Friend of the Week book. Clementine’s attempts at being nice will make you laugh, from giving marker tattoos at recess to decorating bikes with Halloween decorations. While she gets into trouble, she is very lovable and you can’t help rooting for her. For more fun, check out the rest of the Clementine series (series does not need to be read in order).

For ages 7-10 (also a great read aloud!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jamie recommends "Save Me, San Francisco"

Train’s latest CD is great listen, especially in the hot summertime. This CD has been in heavy rotation on my iPod since it was released last year. Almost every track is a winner. Most everyone has heard the insanely popular and catchy “Hey Soul Sister” on the radio, but there are other great gems on this CD including the title track, “Save Me San Francisco.” My other favorites include “I Got You,” “You Already Know” and “Parachutes.” The CD kicks off very upbeat and happy and then slows down towards the end for a really complete listening experience. If you’re looking for a fun, summer CD you can’t go wrong the latest offering from Train.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kathy recommends" This must be the place" by Kate Racculia

Once in a great while a shining star of a book comes along -- a book that speaks to your heart and makes you wish you could know these characters, live in their homes and share their lives. This must be the place by Kate Racculia is just such a book. You will meet shy, gentle, unassuming Arthur Rook, who has recently become a widower under bizarre circumstances. Losing the love of his life, Arthur discovers clues from his wife Amy’s past in a pink shoebox hidden in the back of her closet. They lead him to the Darby-Jones boarding house in Ruby Falls, New York in search of answers to the questions his discovery has sparked. There he finds Amy’s childhood best friend, Desdemona Jones, and her enigmatic daughter Oneida (yes, like the flatware). Ms. Racculia mixes together the elements of an epic journey, coming-of-age, mystery, and romance story and comes up with a very entertaining tale.

For anyone who’s looking for a good read that is definitely “outside the box”, This must be the place is a lovely place to look.

Recommended for adults.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Beth recommends "The Cove"

Back in the 1960’s Ric O’Barry trained the dolphins used in the popular TV series “Flipper.” But the day he held a depressed and sick captive dolphin in his arms as she voluntarily took her last breath, he made a 180-degree turn to become a marine life activist; wherever there is a dolphin in trouble, Rick is called. The dolphins off the coast of Taiji, Japan are very much in trouble, as this exceptional documentary reveals. So much attention is given to speculating about life on other planets – and here on our own Earth is a magnificent, sentient, intelligent creature about whom we could learn so much, from whom we could learn much – if we could stop the killing. The film raises many issues about human’s treatment of animals, animals in captivity – it is sure to provide material for thought and discussion the next time you take your family to a zoo or aquarium.

Appropriate for: adult, young adult

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jamie recommends "Pushing Daisies"

If you’re tired of summer reruns and reality fare, why not try something new and refreshing? Pushing Daisies is a quirky little show that follows the life of pie maker Ned. Ned has a unique gift. When he touches something that has died he can bring it back to life, but there are consequences. If the reanimates someone for more than one minute something else must die in its place. Ned uses his gift to make a little extra money with private investigator Emerson Cod. Ned reanimates murder victims, gets information about what killed them and Emerson solves the crime. Things get complicated when Ned comes across the dead love of his childhood, whom he reanimates, but can’t bear to kill again and so Ned must keep his childhood sweetheart’s second lease on life a secret. Tie in a pair of reclusive aunts and a waitress in love with Ned and this charming show is sure to delight. Though it deals with a rather morbid subject the scenes are never gory. The show is a treat from art deco sets and costumes to the music and narration by Alan Dale of Harry Potter audio book fame. Pushing Daisies is definitely one worth checking out during the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lynda recommends "Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs" (Juv. Fiction)

The second in a possible series, Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs is kids' poetry at its best. Ron Koertge writes in such a way so as to both educate his audience on different types of poems (I never heard of a pantoum and a sestina was only vaguely familiar but I loved the explanations by example), and also to provide just a good read about an adolescent boy making his way through some tough emotions.

This is the continuation of a "poetry story" about Kevin Boland, who in 8th grade, developed mono and had to take a few months off from his favorite pastime, baseball. So he picked up one of his father's books about poetry and gave it whirl. And a whirl it is as he experiments with different styles of poetry and all sorts of emotions over his girlfriend, a new girl friend, the death of his mother, his father's new girl friend and even the fact that he is a poetry-writing baseball player. There is warmth and humor in his struggle to make sense of the people around him and his fluctuating feelings.

Poetry is a style of writing that few people take seriously, especially in novel form. But Ron Koertge has shattered that belief with both Shakespeare Bats Cleanup and Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs. These books can show (as referenced in the titles) how Shakespeare could tell a story in rhyme, making the telling a true art form. And like Shakespeare, I believe these books, and especially Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs deserve a prominent place in every middle school library as well as on every teenager's bookshelf.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Anne recommends "The Wife's Tale"

For anyone who has ever struggled with the issue of weight (and in North America who hasn’t?), Lori Lansens’ The Wife’s Tale chronicles what happens when one’s life is ruled by “the obeast”. Abandoned by her husband on the eve of their 25th wedding anniversary, Mary Gooch sets out on a journey to find the only man she has ever loved. Leaving her small town Canadian home to fly to California where she’s discovered Jimmy Gooch has fled, what Mary ultimately finds is a chance to recreate herself. Sometimes funny, often heartbreaking, Lansen’s story is a cautionary tale of the wastefulness of allowing addictions to rule one’s life and the extraordinary courage it takes to have a second chance to get it right.

Recommended for adults.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beth recommends: "The Golden Season" by Connie Brockway

The “golden season” is the Regency London season in which Lady Lydia Eastlake – reputedly wealthy and unattainable – must marry a very rich gentleman, per the order of her banker, who, along with England’s economic troubles, has done quite a bit of damage to her inheritance. She is almost flat broke. She is also kindhearted, intelligent, fiercely independent, loyal to her friends, and beautiful. Similarly, Captain Ned Lockton, recently returned from war at sea, has been ordered by his family to do the same – marry a rich woman so as to save the family home. The two meet, and need I say more? – of course they fall in love. I don’t read a lot of romances, so if I have enjoyed one enough to write about it here, I’d say that’s a pretty strong recommendation.

Appropriate for: adult

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kathy recommends "In the Bleak Midwinter"

In the Bleak Midwinter is the first book in Julia Spencer-Fleming’s atmospheric mystery series set in upstate New York featuring Clare Fergusson, a newly ordained Episcopalian priest who is also an ex-army helicopter pilot, and part-time sleuth. Shortly after her assignment to the town aptly named Millers Kill (the word kill coming from the Middle Dutch word of kille, meaning “riverbed” or “water channel”), a baby is left on the rectory’s doorstep and a murder takes place. With the help of married Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne, Clare works to uncover the identity of the baby’s parents as well as who would want to murder the mother of the abandoned child. The two work to solve the crime while fighting a growing attraction to one another that can only lead to disaster.

Recommended for adults.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Matt recommends "Let the Great World Spin"

In 1974, Philippe Petit became famous for stringing a cable between the tops of the two World Trade Center towers, a quarter mile above Manhattan's streets, and performing on it for about 45 minutes. Colum McCann's National Book Award-winning novel Let the Great World Spin is not exactly about this incredible moment in recent history (for that, check out Petit's memoir To Reach the Clouds, or the wonderful 2008 documentary Man on Wire, both available at CMPL); instead, it uses the tightrope walk as the novel's central event, the axis around which its many diverse characters rotate.

Rather than focusing on one or two central individuals, McCann skillfully inhabits the lives of multiple people, some for more time than others: mother and daughter prostitutes in the Bronx; a poor, devout Irish Catholic missionary who tends to them; a rich Manhattan judge and his wife who are mourning the loss of their son in Vietnam; an opera-loving law librarian (one of my favorites, though she makes only a brief appearance); and many more, each remarkably human. The characters are all wounded by something, or by many things, all struggling in their own way to make sense of the troubled world and to try to find their place in it. But what unites them, besides their shared city and the connections McCann spins between them, is a sense of hope. Their hope is represented, beautifully and simply, by the image of Petit improbably dancing in the air between the towers, an image that somehow reaches and touches each of them, even if indirectly.

This is a great and compassionate novel, full of wisdom, humanism and poetry. It's also a tribute to a great city, and readers who've had the fortune to spend much time there will immediately understand one of the characters when she says, "One of the beauties of New York is that you can be from anywhere and within moments of landing it's yours."

If you read Let the Great World Spin and would like to discuss it with other members of the community, please consider joining the South Branch's book talk on Saturday, August 14th at noon. No registration is required, and light refreshments will be provided.

Lisa recommends "The Sandwich Swap"

This book was written Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and local author, Kelly DiPucchio. It is based on an experience the Queen had growing up when she had a pita sandwich with hummus, while her best friend had peanut butter and jelly. The girls in the story are best friends do everything together at school. They secretly don’t like the looks of each others’ sandwiches they have every day at lunch. One day, they admit their feelings about the sandwiches and it creates a rift in their friendship. Soon the entire school joins in the controversy and takes sides with each girl. After a trip to the principal’s office, the girls make up and try each others’ sandwiches and are both pleasantly surprised they like them after all. Recommended for children in elementary school.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Phyllis recommends" The Book of Murdock"

For those who have been Loren Estleman readers but haven’t tried his westerns, this could be the time. Be forewarned that The Book of Murdock is not the first in the Page Murdock series. Estleman, a multi-Silver Spur Award winner spins a good yarn with flavorable language of the frontier west. Dastardly villains confront Murdock as he goes undercover as a preacher to solve a slew of Texas crimes. A hanging judge, a surprise meeting with a “shady” lady from Murdock’s past and more colorful characters await the reader as they ride the story’s trail. At the end of the saga, Estleman includes a list of other writings or viewings where the law clothed itself in pastoral duds. The book is corralled in adult fiction at all three CMPL locations.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lisa recommends "The Red Pyramid"

With the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan explored the world of Greek mythology. Now he is back with a new series featuring Carter and Sadie Kane as they take on Egyptian gods and goddesses. The Red Pyramid opens as Carter and Sadie’s dad unknowingly releases the Egyptian God Set, one of the most destructive of the gods. Through lots of dangerous adventure, Carter and Sadie manage to save the world, while learning about their connection to Egypt. This series promises to be a fantastic series!

Recommended for grades 5+

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jamie recommends "Dead in the Family"

The latest addition to the Sookie Stackhouse series of vampire novels has arrived and it is an enjoyable summer read. This novel finds Sookie healing from the Fairy War of the last book, but, as usual, she is pulled into werewolf and vampire intrigue, while trying to lead a normal life. Sookie has a lot of good moments with her brother Jason and old favorites like Alcide and Eric are front and center in this novel’s drama. If you’re looking for a fast, fun beach read this novel is a great choice. It also comes in time to energize fans of the TV series based on the books, True Blood, which makes its debut later this month. Recommended for adults.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Beth recommends: "The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag"

I can’t recommend this series enough – if you are looking for a new “cozy” mystery series, check out The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, the second in the series starring Flavia De Luce by Alan C. Bradley. (Check out the first in the series as well – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie). Set in a small English village in the early 1950s, the series stars the indomitable Flavia de Luce and don’t be put off by the designation of “cozy” – Flavia is anything but. She is fearless, resourceful, intent on clearing the names of those wrongly accused of crime, most at home in her late uncle’s chemistry laboratory where she focuses her study on poisons. Flavia will charm you with her down-to-earth practicality and her independent spirit. These books are just pure fun, for adults and young adults alike.

Audience: Adult, young adult

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beth recommends "False Mermaid" by Erin Hart

Two mysteries skillfully interwoven: Nora Gavin, an American forensic pathologist who works in Ireland with archaeologist Cormac Maguire, returns to the United States, determined to prove that her brother-in-law was responsible for her sister’s violent death. Meanwhile back in Ireland, Cormac delves into mermaid legends, and the disappearance of a local woman. The best of literary fiction combined with the best elements of a masterful thriller make this a page turner not to be missed.

Recommended for adults.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lisa recommends "A Family Album"

I love when groups that I listened to when I was younger come out with quality recordings for kids today. Similar in scope to The Barenaked Ladies Snacktime! or They Might Be Giants, The Verve Pipe has now joined the family music scene with A Family Album. My favorites on the cd include Wake Up and Suppertime! A Family Album by The Verve Pipe is a fantastic listen for the whole family!

Recommended for all ages.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Matt recommends reading some poetry

April is National Poetry Month, and I feel like it's my duty as one of the English majors on staff to encourage you to check out some poetry before the month is over. I can almost see you wrinkling your nose, saying that poetry is not your thing. I know that reading it is not most people’s idea of a good time, but it could be! And even if it’s not, is there any harm in trying, one month out of the year?

CMPL has a huge selection of poetry books for your enjoyment. If you’re looking for something contemporary and accessible, look up the work of former US poet laureate Billy Collins, who writes simple, unassuming poems that are nonetheless quite powerful. If you’re interested in a particular subject, check with a librarian to see if we have a book of poems on that subject, or if we could request one from a different library. (In our collection, for example, see The Oxford Book of War Poetry, Marriage Poems, Poems for Easter, and Obliviously On He Sails: the Bush Administration in Rhyme, to name a few different examples.) We have a wide assortment of books by classic poets too, so if you’ve always wanted to read Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost or Langston Hughes, for instance, now’s the time! Our collection of poetry anthologies is excellent and diverse, from An Anthology of Poetry by Women to The Poetry of Black America, and from The Best American Poetry 2009 to Another Kind of Nation : an Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry. If you’re feeling really adventurous, give Postmodern American Poetry a try (or just check out the collected poems of Allen Ginsberg).

If you insist that you just don’t get poetry, then try some instructional books, like How to Read a Poem or A Grain of Poetry: How to Read Contemporary Poems and Make Them a Part of Your Life. (My personal advice: take your time. Read a poem several times, slowly. And then out loud. It really helps!) Or if you’d rather listen than read, I highly recommend Poetry Speaks, one of my favorite items in the collection, a wonderful book that comes with three CDs of poets reading their work out loud.

My point is that there are about as many kinds of poems and poetry books as there are people, and National Poetry Month is the perfect time to see what you like! Talk to a librarian today about finding the right poems to enrich your life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kathy recommends "Heartland: an Appalachian Anthology"

The Appalachians have given America some of the most beautiful music in the world. Violinist, Joshua Bell and friends James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Alison Krauss and many others come together to evoke the musical tradition of the region be it hornpipe, lullaby, waltz or reel. Sometimes lively, often haunting, the music of Heartland speaks to the soul as it conjures up visions of a place and time unique to America’s heritage.

Recommended for all ages.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jamie recommends "Game Change"

If you love politics and want to relive the 2008 presidential campaign then Game Change is the book for you. John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, arguably two of the best political journalists in the country, shed light onto one of the most dramatic campaigns in current memory. The book spends a lot of ink on the Democratic primary and, though we all know the outcome, the authors do a great job in highlighting the reversal of fortunes of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, throwing in the strange tale of John Edwards’ campaign for good measure. There were times when I had to remember that this was nonfiction, as some of the inside tales were so intriguing that I almost forgot that Clinton lost the nomination. The Republican side of the ticket was no less intriguing. The actual campaign between Obama and McCain is glossed over in comparison to the primaries, but no less interesting. The book was put together with information from sources who were actually there and it is quite a good read for anyone who likes or loathes politics.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bethany recommends "The Thief"

Megan Whalen Turner’s excellent series begins with The Thief. Gen is faced with the ultimate test of his skill as a master thief. The subtle layering of plot and character development is more amazing each time I read this book. The author creates a wonderfully realized world reminiscent of ancient Greece with some Renaissance Europe thrown in too. The subsequent titles The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia further the adventures of Gen. I hope there will be a fourth title but if not, The Thief is a great read.

Bethany recommends "The Sea of Trolls"

I read this over the summer and immediately had to read the second title The Land of the Silver Apples. Nancy Farmer writes the best characters. The Sea of Trolls is a great mix of fantasy and history with lots of adventure and exciting plot twists mixed in. The author creates characters that make you stick with you. I would read anything by Nancy Farmer and plan to read her other science fiction titles. This title is also an excellent choice for listening to on audio book. Third in the trilogy is Islands of the Blessed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Juliane recommends "The Fixer-Upper"

If you like Chick Lit with a more mature tone and have a penchant for remodeling, this book is for you! It follows the trials and tribulations of Dempsey Killebrew. Dempsey is an assistant to a political lobbyist, but her career is soon tarnished because of her (unintended) involvement in a Washington D.C. bribery scandal. Unsure of how to revive her career, she leaves town when her father proposes that she start fresh and help him remodel an old plantation house he was recently bequeathed. The story quickly turns to Dempsey’s adjustment to small town life in the South. It follows her as she tackles a room by room overhaul of an old mansion with good descriptions of the renovation and restoration work. The author provides satisfying entertainment as Dempsey finds love with a young lawyer in town, but sometimes stretches the drama with the cranky old aunt character. Nevertheless, this is a fun read and I was happy to see Dempsey prevail in the end!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gretchen recommends "Deaf Sentence"

David Lodge’s latest novel, Deaf Sentence, explores the human frailties of aging with Lodge’s characteristic satirical humor. Desmond Bates, a retired professor, finds himself in a ridiculous entanglement with an enigmatic graduate student because of a misunderstanding stemming from his profound hearing loss. His near deafness drives everyone crazy, including himself. Unlike Lodge’s previous novels, this one strikes a poignant tone with Desmond dealing with his aging father, and confronting his own mortality, the state of his marriage, and the meaning of life in retirement. Suitable reading for adults.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lisa recommends "Shiver"

I really didn’t want to read this book, despite the popularity, because the idea of werewolves seemed icky to me. Now I am sorry that I waited. Shiver grabs your attention from the first page and holds it through the book. Told in alternating chapters between Grace (the human) and Sam (the wolf), the reader watches as they fall in love and learn the reality that waits for them. I am now eagerly awaiting the sequel, Linger, which comes out July 20, 2010.

Recommended for teens and adults.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Phyllis recommends "La's Orchestra Saves the World"

La’s Orchestra Saves the World rescued me from a winter’s gray day and cold night. Alexander McCall Smith’s gentle book strongly evokes character, place and time. This novel is set in England during World War II with worthwhile looks into both the before and after days. McCall Smith introduces the reader to La, and you glance at her education at Cambridge and her brief marriage. Then you receive longer glimpses of La’s 1939 move from London to the country, development of a Victory garden, involvement with her new neighbors and their lives (foxes and hens included) and, of course, the composition of the orchestra. This is a story of “unremarkable” people living through extreme and every day events. You will read of seemingly small decisions made and the impact those choices had. There are opportunities to ask “what would I have done?” but even without introspection, this is a fine way to spend reading hours. CMPL offers La’s Orchestra Saves the World in print, large print or audio CD. If you’ve read or listened to other offerings by McCall Smith, you’ll recognize his style. I like it!

Appropriate for adults or young adults.

Jamie recommends "Blink"

Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for the New York Times, has written another interesting book that tries to explain how we make unconscious decisions. For example, how many interviews do you think employers need in order to make a good hiring decision? Would it surprise you to know that five minutes is really all the time that they need to make an instant decision that is most often correct? Gladwell details a lot of cognitive thinking techniques to explain the elements that help us make split-second decisions, but it is still a very interesting read. If you’re looking for a book to help you learn more about decision-making, this is a great one because while slightly academic in nature, Gladwell has an easy-to-read writing style that gives insight into the whys and hows of snap-judgments.

Great for Adults.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kathy recommends Robyn Carr's "Virgin River" Series

Robyn Carr has written a lovely contemporary romance series set in the California mountains that’s perfect reading for cold winter nights. Virgin River, the first title in the series, is the story of a young widowed midwife/nurse practitioner who’s doctor husband was killed in a robbery attempt. Wanting to leave the big city and make a fresh start, she answers an ad for a position in a small town (population 600). The characters she meets, the attachments she makes and the love she finds make this a charming read. And the ongoing stories of the inhabitants of Virgin River will definitely keep you coming back for more.

Recommended for adults.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Beth recommends "Pandora's Star"

It is the year 2380 and the human race has spread across the universe, populating thousands of worlds, thanks to space travel via wormholes, allowing almost instantaneous passage across vast distances. So far, the alien species encountered have not been hostile. But the observation of a distant star suddenly disappearing, and the human curiosity that insists on investigating, changes all of that. Peter Hamilton has created an amazing, diverse, fascinating world filled with multi-dimensional characters connected through several interweaving plots. This is highly entertaining space adventure, and much, much more. The survival of the human race depends on the actions and decisions of a few characters whom the reader grows to care about and empathize with. If you enjoy Pandora’s Star you won’t want to miss its sequel, Judas Unchained.

Adult, Young Adult

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lisa recommends "Click, Clack 123"

I have always loved Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin’s books, from Click, Clack Moo to Diary of a Fly. Now they have brought their fun humor and quirky illustrations to baby books. If you are looking for a fun book to share with your baby, this is it. If you have extra time, also try Click Clack ABC.

Recommended for 0-2 years.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Colette recommends "When Everything Changed: The amazing journey of American Women from 1960 to the present"

Non-fiction that reads like fiction and I mean this in the best possible way.

This compelling and timely book is accessible AND a page turner. It provides the opportunity to look back through 50 years of culture/politics/family/work and be reminded of how much the lives of women have just…burst forth!

Personalities, incidents, history & world changing events are reported in a newsy and balanced manner; don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a ‘feminist manifesto’. It is a history lesson, replete with facts and anecdotes about extraordinary women and men as well as amazing milestones which have created so many new choices and opportunities as well as pondering the consequences of these choices/opportunities. This history, which everyone should know and from which, I hope, we all can learn, is presented in an organized and chatty style. Very enjoyable and informative.

Highly Recommended: Mature teen and adult.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jamie recommends "Castle"

The mystery genre is one of the more popular sections of the books at the library, but if you’re a mystery lover in the mood for a television show there is none I’d recommend more than Castle. The show follows mystery writer Richard Castle as he indoctrinates himself into the life of New York detective Kate Beckett while he writes his latest novel. Castle becomes so enthralled with following Beckett around that he takes up a regular position as part of the team of detectives. Although an implausible premise, the characters are likable, the mysteries usually pretty solid and the dynamic between Castle and everyone else is delightful. Plus, if you’re into mysteries, the show recently published Richard Castle’s book Heat Wave, which is also in the library’s collection. If you’re looking for a new television show to catch up on, check out Castle season one on DVD.