Friday, December 30, 2011

Six Favorites from 2011

As the 2011 publication year draws to a close, I thought I'd use this opportunity to champion a few titles from the past year that I particularly enjoyed.

I was extremely impressed with this book by Gabrielle Hamilton, the owner/chef of Prune, a critically-acclaimed restaurant in NYC. Hamilton has written an exceedingly honest, heartfelt memoir about growing up too fast and too alone, about her circuitous path through higher education, about her hard work learning, observing, and surviving in restaurant kitchens. She writes of the grueling life of a restaurant chef and the seemingly impossible job of running a restaurant, raising a family and trying to sustain a marriage. The writing is excellent.

The audio version of this book is wonderfully read by the author. It feels right for memoir writers to read their own stories. The listener has the opportunity for an even more intimate “reading” experience with the added quality of the author's voice.

The Call  by Yannick Murphy

A large animal veterinarian narrates this unique novel set in rural Vermont. The structure of this story takes the form of a vet's call log. The logged calls provide the format and forward movement for the book, but the "log" is much more than a look at veterinarian's routine day. Through the log the narrator reveals his innermost thoughts and keen observations, which become particularly affecting when a hunting accident leaves the vet's twelve-year-old son in a coma. Joy, stress, anger, worry, and love of family are at the heart of this original novel.

The Buddha in the Attic  by Julie Otsuka

Using spare, poetic prose, Otsuka chooses to tell this beautifully written immigrant story in the first person plural, which gives this novel a very unusual voice. The story begins on a ship in the early 20th century as Japanese mail-order brides make their way from their homeland to America. They carry photos of handsome men and the hopes of a better life. On arrival, they discover men who look nothing like their pictures and confront the reality that their lives will, in most cases, be filled with backbreaking labor and hardship. The story follows these women’s lives until their removal to relocation centers just prior to WWII. Amazingly, this story is told in just 129 pages. After finishing this book, I immediately picked up Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine (2002), another poignant story about the experience of Japanese-Americans--this novel focusing on their internment during World War II.

Sister  by Rosamund Lupton

Twenty-one-year-old Tess is found dead in an abandoned park building, her death officially pronounced a suicide. Beatrice, Tess's older sister, doesn't buy the suicide verdict. Her knowledge of her sister runs so deep that Beatrice is absolutely certain her sister was murdered. Guilt and love push Beatrice to try and uncover her sister's killer.

Beatrice tells this story as one long letter...a love letter, her sister, which reveals the series of events that led to Tess's death. This suspenseful, fast-paced, psychological thriller has a big surprise ending.

Domestic Violets  by Matthew Norman

A witty, fast-paced, humorous, yet thoughtful debut novel. Thirty-five-year-old Tom Violet feels stuck in his copywriter job with a corporation that seems to have no real purpose in the world. He really wants to be a novelist, but that's a particularly tough road for him to follow--his famous father has just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The passion seems to have disappeared from his marriage, which worries Tom, as does the fact that he's far too distracted by the twenty-three-year-old copywriter who works with him. How Tom handles these mid-life crises is both funny and touching.

This book reminded me of Richard Russo's writing as I was reading it. Interestingly, in the back matter of "Domestic Violets", the author reveals that one of his influences was Russo's "Straight Man"--one of my all-time favorite novels.

Vaclav & Lena  by Haley Tanner

Vaclav and Lena meet as five-year-olds in an English as a Second Language class. Both are children of Russian immigrant families living in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood. The two quickly become fast friends, their daily lives intertwined. The outgoing Vaclav is intent on becoming a famous magician, with shy Lena as his beautiful assistant. By the time the two children are ten, however, Lena’s unacceptable home situation forces Vaclav's mother to intervene…and Lena disappears from young Vaclav’s life. No magic can make her reappear. Vaclav is devastated, but he never forgets about Lena, nor she about him. On Lena’s seventeenth birthday, she vows to find Vaclav and the many missing parts of her life. Heartbreaking at times, this moving adult novel about love and loss may also find a strong audience among high schoolers.

This is a debut novel for Haley Tanner, whose own personal story is also heartbreaking and touching.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Broadway Lights in Chicago

Want to warm up this winter and think spring? Listen to a musical and forget all your troubles! You can soon find materials on these musicals on display at the library.

Bank of America Theatre, Chicago
Come Fly Away - January 10-22
* Jersey Boys - April 5-June 2

Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago
* South Pacific - February 14-26
Bring It On: The Musical - March 6-25

Drury Lane, Oakbrook
* Sound of Music - October 20-January 8
* Gypsy - January 19-March 25

Light Opera Works, Evanston
* Camelot - June 1-10

Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire
* Legally Blonde: The Musical - January 18-April 1
* The Pirates of Penzance - April 4-June 10
Hero: A New musical - June 20-August 19

Oriental Theatre, Chicago
* In the Heights - January 10-16
* Mamma Mia - January 24-29
* American Idiot - February 7-19
* Fela! - March 27-April 8

Friday, December 23, 2011

Classic Christmas Stories

Nothing conveys the holidays quite like a classic Christmas story and the best story experiences come from a book + our own creative imagination. It wouldn't be Christmas without a reading of A Christmas Carol. Here are some classic stories to keep you in the holiday spirit:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Three ghosts take Ebeneezer Scrooge to Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future to change his ways in this all-time favorite story of repentance.

This is one of the greatest works by O. Henry and the best Christmas romance ever written. It shows how we sacrifice for the ones we love.

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson
This is a sad tear jerker about a poor little girl who gets to have the Christmas of her dreams.

A classic tale about showing love on Christmas as a boy surprises his father on Christmas morning by getting up early and milking the cows on their farm.

Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke
The classic tale of the fourth wise man, Artaben, who did not arrive in Bethlehem in time to present his gifts to the Saviour and spent his life searching for the Christ.

The Three Trees by Author Unknown
Three trees that dream of greatness are surprised by the way their dreams come true.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
This newer classic tells a story about a boy learning the importance of belief.

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
The original story about Santa Claus.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Who could forget the following classic line, "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

The Nativity Story (Luke 2:1-20)
This is the most classic story of Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christian Fiction: Christmastime Stories

Here are some funny, inspiring or thought-provoking books to read for a quick break from the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations.

Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon
Having pursued scholarly matters all of his life, Father Tim Kavanagh discovers the joys of working with his hands when he discovers a worn-out nativity scene and begins to restore it. This is number eight in the popular Mitford year’s series.

The Memory Quilt by T.D. Jakes
Life doesn't always unfold in a perfect way, even for God-loving, churchgoing people like Lela. It is winter in Chicago, and as the days of the season progress, Lela participates in a Bible study group that focuses on the Virgin Mary, and receives messages and guidance.

Christmas in Harmony by Philip Gulley
Quaker minister Sam Gardner copes with the eccentrics of his congregation while attempting to counter church elder Dale Hinshaw's plans for a "progressive" nativity scene on Christmas Eve.

A Plain and Fancy Christmas by Cynthia Keller
Raised in a close knit Amish community, Rachel returns to her parent’s home to raise her young daughter Katie after the death of her husband. Ellie has a high powered public relations job in New York City and has no time for her friends, family or her boyfriend. These two very different women receive shocking news that will change their lives forever; thirty years ago they were accidentally switched in the hospital. With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, it takes the love of both families for Rachel and Ellie to discover their own paths to fulfillment and happiness.

Dearest Dorothy, Merry Everything by Charlene Ann Baumbich
Through four Dearest Dorothy novels, Charlene Ann Baumbich has beguiled a growing legion of readers with the humorous and endearing denizens of Partonville, Illinois. Her latest heartwarming addition opens with everyone pitching in to help a local family rocked by tragedy. Meanwhile, Katie Durbin worries that her ambitious plan to revitalize Partonville's shopping district will crumble under the bullheaded doubts of a few townies-unless a Christmas miracle (and a few of Dearest Dorothy's prayers) can help her to win those stubborn folks over.

Hannah’s Hope by Karen Kingsbury
Because her father is the U.S. ambassador to Sweden, 15-year-old Hannah has been left in the care of her grandmother while she attends a Washington, DC, prep school. Hannah wants nothing more than to have her parents’ home for Christmas, but her world turns upside down when she uncovers that her father is not her biological father. Hannah's search for her father leads her to air force pilot Mike Conner, who has just accepted a dangerous mission in Iraq.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Snowed In

We’ve all noticed how lucky we’ve been with the weather here in usually-snowy Glenview. I for one wouldn’t mind if I didn’t see a snowflake all winter! But in case you’re really missing the white stuff, here are some books that take place during winter snows and even blizzards. So stay warm and comfy at home while you read about others braving the winter elements.

Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman
A tale based on a deadly 1984 North Dakota blizzard follows the experiences of a small rural community devoted to its high-school athletics and its citizens' minor scandals, until a dangerous storm impacts the town in unsettling and powerful ways.

Tempting Evil by Allison Brennan
Struggling to recover from the loss of her husband and child, Joanna Sutton seeks refuge at her family's secluded Montana lodge, until she is called in to join the search for a local Boy Scout troop, stranded in the wilderness by a blizzard, a rescue mission that brings her face to face with local sheriff Tyler McBride and a cunning killer.

Midnight Champagne by A. Manette Ansay
When the Great Lakes Chapel and Hideaway Lodge had a cancellation on Valentine's Day, April and Caleb decided to have a big wedding after all. Formerly a house of ill repute, the tacky lodge is a magnet for trouble, and sure enough the record-breaking blizzard that whips up as the guests arrive creates an aura of impending disaster.

Heaven’s Fury by Stephen Frey
Preparing for a dangerous snowstorm in rural Wisconsin, sheriff Paul Summers finds his efforts hampered by the arrival of a mysterious group of criminals, a suspicious disappearance, rumors of cult activity, and the murder of a former lover.

Chill Factor by Sandra Brown
When a serial killer who leaves a blue ribbon at the site of his victims' last sightings appears in the peaceful town of Cleary, North Carolina, police chief Dutch Burton finds the case complicated by his ex-wife's disappearance during a blizzard.

A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor
A wealthy and depressed man bound for Christmas in the tropics is abruptly summoned home to North Dakota to visit an ailing aunt, arriving just in time to be trapped there by a blizzard.

Tokyo Cancelled by Rana Dasgupta
In the midst of a blinding snowstorm that shuts down Tokyo’s main airport, 13 stranded tourists pass the hours by spinning stories that reflect their diverse and colorful backgrounds.

Aunt Dimity, Snowbound by Nancy Atherton
After being caught in a blizzard, Lori Shepherd takes refuge in Ladythorne Abbey, the former home of the late Lucasta DeClerke, where she uncovers a plot to steal a priceless DeClerke family heirloom.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Read One of the Best!

Sometimes it can be difficult to see beyond the craziness of the holidays, but January will be here soon, and it is the perfect month to hibernate with a good book. When you have a spare moment, take a look at these links to the Best Books of 2011 and make your reading list with the hope that you will actually have time in January to read one of the best.

Top Picks from The Chicago Tribune - A manageable list put together by our hometown newspaper.

The 10 Best Books of 2011 by The New York Times - If you are overwhelmed by lengthy lists, this one is edited to a short list of 10.

Bookpage Best Books of 2011 - 50 of the best according to Bookpage that includes fiction and non-fiction selections.

Publisher's Weekly Best of 2011 - 100 of the best for adults and children, selected by the review staff of the magazine of the book industry.

Christmas Book Bag: My top ten books for 2011 - Chicago local Al Gini from WBEZ chooses his 10 favorites of 2011.

Goodreads Choice Awards - 638,603 ballots were cast by the voracious readers and followers of the goodreads blog to select the best fiction and non-fiction of 2011.

And, if you would like to see even more of the best books you can take a look at this extensive list at the

Friday, December 9, 2011

Romantic Christmas Stories

Not quite in the mood for the holidays yet? Too much running around? Want to read to relax - but don't have a lot of time? Want a feel good story? Try reading some romantic short stories!
A Harlequin Christmas Carol has three intertwined stories by Betina Krahn, Jacquie D'Alessandro and Hope Tarr  - Three apprentice angels are trying to get their wings, but they must find true love for their charges.

The Heart of Christmas has three historical stories by award winning Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick, and newcomer Courtney Milan.

Under the Mistletoe contains two contemporary novellas by Linda Howard and Stephanie Bond. These tales bring together the joy of Christmas and the wonder of love.

And there are many more Christmas story collections in the Romance section - just check after the Z's. Or ask the librarian at the desk.

Sappy? Maybe. But take a some time for yourself during this busy season. Have a little romance, go to bed with a bit more Christmas cheer, and dream big!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Forthcoming fiction for January

Here are some titles coming out this January. You can reserve these by going to our Online Catalog, Bibliocommons or by calling the Reader Services Desk at 847-729-7500 x7600!

A Charitable Body by Robert Barnard
The Rope: an Anna Pigeon Novel by Nevada Barr
Power Play by Ben Bova
Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card
Gideon’s Corpse by Lincoln Child
Death of Kinds by Bernard Cornwell
Taken by Robert Crais
The Evil That Men Do by Jeanne M. Dams
Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich
Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George
Need You Now by James Grippando
Home Front by Kristin Hannah
Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert
A Devil is Waiting by Jack Higgins
Gun Games by Faye Kellerman
Copper Beach: a Dark Legacy novel by Jayne Ann Krentz
Raylan by Elmore Leonard
The Hunter by John Lescroart
How It All Began by Penelope Lively
Deadline by Fern Michaels
All I Did Was Shoot My Man: a Leonid McGill Mystery
by Walter Mosley
The Odds by Stuart O’Nan
Breakdown by Sara Paretsky
The Jaguar by T. Jefferson Parker
Private: #1 Suspect by James Patterson
The Confession by Charles Todd
The Quality of Mercy by Barry Unsworth

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Programs Shine for Teens!

We have 3 exciting programs scheduled for December to fit every teen need!

December 2nd is the next Teen Game Night event. Each month, two giant screens and large Boomchairs are available in the Community Room for ages 13-18 to have fun gaming. The Library owns Nintendo Wii, XBOX360, and Playstation 3 along with a variety of different games, or teens may bring in their own games to share. Pizza and pop are available each time for all who participate. Since the new Library has opened in October 2010, we have averaged 15 teens at each gaming event. A true success!

December 17th we will host a Card Stamping program. For those that like to scrapbook, this is a perfect way to get creative and make fun holiday cards to send to friends and family. Our staff expert, Monique Flasch, will be on hand to show teens different stamping techniques and various ways to showcase talent with card stamping. All materials will be provided.

Only two short days later we will have our annual Cookies in a Jar program! December 19th teens will be able to make two cookies in a jar---oatmeal and MandM---to bring home to use either as a gift, or for themselves. Instruction tags as well as all ingredients and embellishments will be provided. This has become very popular over the past two years and will hopefully follow the trend this year as well! Pick a holiday-inspired jar topper and ribbon to finish off the look.

Registration is now in progress! Don't miss out on the fun, register today! Go to the Glenview Public Library's web site at and click on Calendar and Events, or call 847-729-7500 and ask for the Reader Services Desk. A staff person would be happy to assist you. Register for yourself, or for a group!

Any questions please contact Nicole M. Mills, Young Adult Librarian, at 847-729-7500 x2613 or email