Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

First published in 1999, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky has been a must-read title for many teens ever since. The book is narrated by Charlie, an extremely bright, sincere, outside-the-mainstream, ninth grader (the Wallflower), who tells the intimate story of his high school freshman year in letters to an anonymous friend. Prone to depression and bouts of anxiety, Charlie finds acceptance with a group of high school seniors.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower has now been made into a much-anticipated movie, written and directed by Stephen Chbosky. Scheduled for release on September 21st, the film stars Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson & the Olympians), Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin), and Emma Watson (best known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies). Watson plays Sam, who guides
Charlie (Logan Lerman) through the pitfalls of trying to fit into the complicated and confusing world of high school.

As the release for the movie approaches, demand for the book has increased. If you find yourself on a waiting list for “Perks”, or if you have already read the book and are looking for other edgy, contemporary fiction books about the struggles of high schoolers, you might try some of the following titles. For further suggestions, just stop by the Reader Services desk. We have lots of ideas.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
When her best friend, whom she secretly loves, betrays her and then dies under mysterious circumstances, high school senior Vera Dietz struggles with secrets that could help clear his name.

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Miles' first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas
Having failed English, eighteen-year-old Steve York must generate a paper to get credit and chooses to write about his years in high school, during which he experienced his first love and struggled with family relationships.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
The daily class discussions about the nature of human-kind, the existence of God, abortion, organized religion, suicide and other contemporary issues serve as a backdrop for a high-school senior's attempt to answer a friend's dramatic cry for help.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

2012 Christy Awards

And the winner is….The 2012 Christy Awards were announced on July 16th, the Rosen Center Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The Christy Awards recognize quality novels written from the Christian view.  The awards are given in several genres, including contemporary, historical, romance, suspense, visionary and even young adult.  The award was established in 2000 and is named for bestselling Christian author Catherine Marshall and her novel Christy. Congratulations to all the winners!

Contemporary Romance
Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig

Contemporary Series, Sequels, and Novellas
The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Contemporary Standalone
Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock

First Novel
Words by Ginny Yttrup

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Historical Romance
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

The Queen by Steven James

Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Young Adult
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Labor in American Literature for Labor Day

Labor Day is an American federal holiday observed the first Monday in September. It was originally organized to celebrate the creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. In modern times however, it is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of summer and is largely a day of rest. What better way to relax than to just read about labor in American literature. Consider the following titles:

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
A documentary novel portraying industry's conditions at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Sinclair's novel prompted public outrage which led President Theodore Roosevelt to demand an official investigation. This eventually led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug laws.

Sister Karrie by Theodore Dreiser
Young Carrie Meeber leaves home for the first time and experiences work, love, and the pleasures and responsibilities of independence in late-nineteenth-century Chicago and New York.

Working by Studs Terkel
Men and women representing a variety of occupations, describe the daily routine of their jobs and express their grievances, aims, and dreams.

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
In an attempt to understand the lives of Americans earning near-minimum wages, Ehrenreich works as a waitress in Florida, a cleaning woman in Maine, and a sales clerk in Minnesota.

Triangle by Katharine Weber
The last living survivor of a 1911 sweatshop fire, 106-year-old Esther Gottesfeld passes away leaving numerous questions about the fire, which is investigated by her granddaughter Rebecca and a feminist historian with a personal agenda.

Dreamland  by Kevin Baker
Follows a young Eastern European stowaway from his 1909 arrival in New York City, through his rise to power in a Manhattan underworld organization, to the birth of the labor union movement.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
The remaining employees at an office affected by a business downturn spend their time enjoying secret romances, elaborate pranks, and frequent coffee breaks, while trying to make sense of their only remaining "work," a mysterious pro-bono ad campaign.

Oil! by Upton Sinclair
The life of Bunny Ross, son of an oil magnate, reveals practices of those who have become wealthy from their oil wells during the Teapot Dome scandal.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Emigrating with her mother from Hong Kong to Brooklyn, Kimberly Chang begins a secret double life as an exceptional schoolgirl during the day and sweatshop worker at night, an existence also marked by her first crush and the pressure to save her family from poverty.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back to School at the Movies

The beginning of the school year brings lots of new things: school supplies, clothes, friends and teachers. Here is a list of movies that portray the creative and inspired teachers we all hoped for as students.
Freedom Writers - Based on the book "The Freedom Writers diary: how a teacher and 150 teens used writing to change themselves and the world around them" by the Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell. A teacher inspires her students by assigning them to journal their daily lives.

Mr. Holland's Opus - A frustrated composer comes to realize that his real passion is teaching and that his legacy is not a truly memorable piece of music, but the generations of young people whose lives he affects.

Dead Poet's Society - Robin Williams portrays English professor John Keating, who, in an age of crew cuts, sport coats and cheerless conformity, inspires his students to live life to the fullest. The charismatic teacher's emotionally charged challenge is met by his students with irrepressible enthusiasm--changing their lives forever.

Good Will Hunting - A young working-class genius is hauled back from the brink of self-destruction by a gifted counselor.

Stand and Deliver - Story of Jaime Escalante, a math teacher at East Los Angeles' Garfield High School, who pushes and inspires 18 inner-city Hispanic students who were struggling with math to become math whizzes.

Music of the Heart - A single mother with little more than talent and the determination to make a difference teaches violin to students in a tough inner-city neighborhood.

The Emperor's Club - When a new student starts in Professor Hundert's class, little does the professor know that this student will change his life forever. They start out butting heads and end up forming a friendship that will shake the controlled world of the professor. The lessons learned will last a lifetime.

The Great Debaters - Melvin B. Tolson is a professor at Wiley College in Texas. Wiley is a small African-American college. In 1935, Tolson inspired students to form the school's first debate team. Tolson turns a group of underdog students into a historically elite debate team which goes on to challenge Harvard in the national championship. Inspired by a true story.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back To School Fiction

PenelopeIt's that time of year - the days are getting shorter, the nights are cooling off, and the aisles at Target are jammed with kids and their parents looking for just the right Trapper Keeper.  So why don't you kick back and read a book or two set in the world of academia, and maybe relive some of your own school experiences.  Here are a few titles to get you started.

Penelope by Rebecca Harrington.

Misfit freshman Penelope is overwhelmed by the competitiveness of Harvard University's environment, a situation that is complicated by her crush on an upper classman and her participation in an absurdist production of Caligula.

Truth and Consequences by Alison Lurie.
University director Jane Mackenzie is dismayed when her injured husband falls for Delia, a beautiful writer who has recently joined the center's staff, a situation that is complicated when Jane develops feelings for Delia's husband.

Back In the Game by Charles Holdefer.
Schoolteacher Stanley Mercer relocates to a small town expecting a quiet country life, but he soon becomes involved with the mother of one of his pupils and develops an interest in the struggles of two special education students.

Rookery Blues by Jon Hassler.
In 1969, faculty members at Rookery State College form a jazz quintet, and the lives of those in the group reflect the trials of the times including the Vietnam War and campus problems.

Fall by Colin McAdam.
Story of two roommates and what happens when the girlfriend of one of them goes missing.

A Good School by Richard Yates.
Set in a New England boarding school as America prepares to enter into World War II, an elegant and witty novel follows three unforgettable characters--William Grove, the quiet editor of the school newspaper, Jack Draper, a crippled chemistry teacher, and Edith Stone, the schoolmaster's young daughter.

High Marks For Murder by Rebecca Kent.
When teacher Kathleen Duncan turns up dead in the school garden, the victim of a purported accident, Meredith Llewellyn, headmistress of Bellehaven House, a sophisticated finishing school for girls, turns sleuth to uncover the link between the flowers in the garden and murder.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction: True Crime

The next Much Ado About Mysteries meeting is on September 13, 2012. We will be discussing true crime and the art of detection. Some people think that crime fiction is just made up stuff that could not really happen, but you would be surprised to find out how many authors came up with an idea for their book from a real life crime.

We have a whole list of books you can read from to join the discussion - just go to the Reader Services desk and ask for the reading list. But here are a few titles to look at in the meantime.

Midnight in Peking: how the murder of a young Englishwoman haunted the last days of old China by Paul French -  Historian and China expert Paul French uncovers the truth behind the notorious murder of Pamela Werner, and offers a rare glimpse of the last days of colonial Peking.

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: the astonishing rise and spectacular fall of a serial imposter by Mark Seal -  A probing and cinematic exploration of an audacious impostor, Christian Gerheitsreiter, and his "talented Mr. Ripley" story as Clark Rockefeller.

The Science of Sherlock Holmes: from Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the real forensics behind the great detective's greatest cases - by E.J. Wagner - Holmes is, first, a great detective, but he has also proven to be a great scientist, whether dabbling with poisons, tobacco ash, or tire marks. Wagner explores this fascinating aspect of his career by showing how his investigations were grounded in the cutting-edge science of his day, especially the emerging field of forensics.

The Rescue Artist: a true story of art, thieves, and the hunt for a missing masterpiece - by Edward Dolnick - This suspense-filled book tells the true story of the 1994 theft of Edvard Munch's masterpiece "The Scream" from the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway, and the brilliant detective who gets it back.

An account of the senseless murder of a Kansas farm family and the search for the killers. This title won the 1966 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime, and is considered on of the classics of the true crime genre.

If you are interested, join the Much Ado About Mysteries reading discussion group in the Community Room on September 13th at 7:00pm. Newcomers are always welcome!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Forthcoming Fiction for September

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

The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose by Susan Albert Wittig
The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
Hiss and Hers : An Agatha Raisin Mystery by M.C. Beaton
San Miguel by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Robert B. Parker’s Fool Me Twice by Michael Brandman
Tiger’s Claw by Dale Brown
Low Pressure by Sandra Brown
Frozen Heat by Richard Castle
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
A Wanted Man by Lee Child
Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now by Margaret Coel
Mirage by Clive Cussler
The Tombs by Clive Cussler
Winter of the World by Ken Follett
Murder in Mind by Veronica Heley
City of Fiends by Michael Jecks
Garment of Shadows : a Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
by Laurie R. King
The Bridesmaid by Beverly Lewis
Father Night by Eric Lustbader
Blood Lies by Richard Marcinko
The Vanishing Point by Val Mcdermid
An Outlaw’s Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
Black Dahlia & White Rose : Stories by Joyce Carol Oates
Zoo by James Patterson
Delusion in Death by J.D. Robb
NW : A Novel by. Zadie Smith
Gone by Randy Wayne White
Severe Clear by Stuart Woods

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Go Team!

In the spirit of the London Summer Olympics, I thought it might be nice to compile a list of movies about sports, coaches, athletes and the like.  Just in case the games have left you wanting more.

Sugar / AzĂșcar
Miguel 'Sugar' Santos is a talented Dominican baseball pitcher who longs to break into the American big league and earn the money needed to support his impoverished family. He has to prove his worth in the minor leagues, struggling with language and cultural barriers despite the kindness of strangers. He is forced to reevaluate his life's ambition after his once-trusty arm becomes unreliable.  In Spanish with English subtitles.

The Rookie
When a shoulder injury ended his minor league pitching career twelve years ago, Jim Morris resorted to the next best thing: coaching. But Jim's team wants him to try out for the major-leagues. While there prove to be a lot of pitches to be thrown before he makes it off the mound, big-league dreams are revived, and there's no telling where he could go.

The Fighter
Micky Ward is a struggling boxer long overshadowed by his older brother and trainer, Dicky, a local legend battling his own demons. Their explosive relationship threatens to take them both down. However, the bond of blood may be their only chance to redeem their pasts, and, at last, give their hard-luck town what it's been waiting for: pride.

Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match.

Any Given Sunday
Tony D'Amato, the embattled Sharks coach, faces a full-on blitz of team strife plus a new, marketing-savvy Sharks owner who's sure Tony is way behind times.

The Natural
Nothing was going to stop Roy Hobbs from fulfilling his boyhood dream of baseball stardom. As a 14-year old he fashions a baseball bat from an oak tree. He soon impresses major league scouts with his ability.  The appearance of a mysterious woman, however, shatters his dream. Years later Hobbs reappears as a rookie for the New York Knights and has an opportunity to share in their race for the pennant.