Thursday, November 28, 2013

Family Drama-Rama -- It's National Family Story Month

Just in the nick of time, you can still celebrate November’s National Family Drama Month by reading a book about someone else’s family! They say life is stranger than fiction, and sometimes it’s more fun to delve into the lives other families and experience their trials and tribulations, their joys and sorrows, and the crazy situations that families find themselves navigating. If you like to read stories about families, take a look at these gripping family sagas – and don’t let the early publication dates scare you away. Families were just as dysfunctional back “in the day” as they are today! Be sure to check out the various formats these books come in.


Eden Close by Anita Shreve (1998, c1989) - A "measured and haunting" modern gothic tale of one man's attempt to uncover the obsessions that killed a neighbor and blinded a beautiful girl seventeen years earlier. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler (1995) – Forty-year-old Delia Grinstead is last seen strolling down the Delaware shore, wearing nothing more than a bathing suit and carrying a beach tote with five hundred dollars tucked inside. To her husband and three almost-grown children, she has vanished without trace or reason. But for Delia, who feels like a tiny gnat buzzing around her family's edges, "walking away from it all" is not a premeditated act but an impulse that will lead her into a new, exciting, and unimagined life. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)

And the Mountains Echoed by Kahled Hosseini (2013) - A novel about how people love, how they take care of each other, and how choices made today can resonate through future generations. Author Khaled Hosseini gives listeners a multi-generational family story revolving around siblings and how they love, betray, hurt, honor, and would do anything for one another. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998) - The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it-from garden seeds to Scripture-is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)

The Shell Seekers by Rosamude Pilcher (1987) - Set in London and Cornwall from World War II to present, The Shell Seekers tells the story of the Keeling family, and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. The family centers around Penelope, and it is her love, courage, and sense of values that determine the course of all their lives. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)


The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (2011) - The incredible true account of Kamila Sidiqi who, when her father and brother were forced to flee Kabul, became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Armed only with grit and determination, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own and held her family together. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)

The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz - The Way We Never Were examines two centuries of American family life and shatters a series of myths and half-truths that burden modern families. Placing current family dilemmas in the context of far-reaching economic, political, and demographic changes, Coontz sheds new light on such contemporary concerns as parenting, privacy, love, the division of labor along gender lines, the black family, feminism, and sexual practice. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)

Downloadable Audio Book: 

Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (2009) - Spanning forty years, this is the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister Savannah, and their struggle to triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which they were born. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)


Monday, November 25, 2013

National Book Awards - 2013

On November 20th, the winners of the National Book Awards were announced.
After careful consideration,  The Good Lord Bird  by James McBride was chosen as this year's winner for fiction.

James McBride portrays white abolitionist John Brown as "part Crocodile Dundee, part backwoods preacher, part con man" according to Baz Dreisinger in her New York Times Book Review. She also calls McBride himself a "modern-day Mark Twain" with his comic twists and turns threaded with sadness. While a humorous approach to such a serious topic is risky, McBride manages to entertain readers and leave them with his own creative (and potentially controversial) take on historical figures like Brown, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass. 

The Good Lord Bird and the other four finalists below can all be checked out at Glenview Public Library:

The Lowland  by Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland was also on the Man Booker Prize shortlist.)

The Flame Throwers  by Rachel Kushner  (Kushner's Telex from Cuba was a National Book Award finalist in 2008.)

Bleeding Edge  by Thomas Pynchon (Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow was a National Book Award winner in 1974.)

Tenth of December  by George Saunders (Saunders also won the 2013 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story.)

Who were the National Book Award judges?
The judges included three award-winning novelists (Charles Baxter,  Gish Jen and Rene Steinke), a  noted Seattle bookseller/editor (Rick Simonson), and a New York Times writer (Charles McGrath ).


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Amy Tan is back!

In years past, before I worked in a library I had periods of time when I wasn't reading as much as I do now. In one of those periods I picked up an Amy Tan book called The Joy Luck Club. From that moment on I became a reader again and I basically have not stopped since. This book made a big impression on me.
 The Joy Luck Club was also a movie and it was very entertaining, but read the book first. Amy Tan is a talented writer and she has made a recent sort-of-comeback with her new book Valley of Amazement which is on my list of what to read next. Here is a list of some of her other works of fiction. You won't be disappointed.

The Bonesetter's Daughter
Saving Fish From Drowning
The Hundred Secret Senses
The Kitchen God's Wife

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 22, 1963

November 22, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, one of the most significant and analyzed moments in recent American history.  Many questions still persist today: Who really shot JFK? Was there a conspiracy? How many shots rang out from the Texas School Book Depository? There are many nonfiction books attempting to answer these persistent questions, but novelists have used this tragedy to explore the countless theories and conspiracies as well. The result is a variety of fiction novels ranging from alternative histories to time travel. Enjoy.

Top down: a novel of the Kennedy assassination by James Lehrer (2013)
Ask not: a Nathan Heller thriller by Max Allan Collins (2013)
The third bullet by Stephen Hunter (2013)
11/22/63 by Stephen King (2011)
November 22, 1963: a novel by Adam Braver (2008)
The tears of autumn by Charles McCarry (2008)
The Berlin conspiracy: a novel by Tom Gabbay (2006)
The shot: a thriller by Philip Kerr
Where there's smoke by Mel McKinney (1999)
The legacy by Stephen Frey (1998)
The people v. Lee Harvey Oswald by Walt Brown (1992)
Libra by Don DeLilo (1988)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Forthcoming Fiction for December

Here are some titles coming out this December. You can reserve them by clicking on the links to our Online Catalog.

Mars, Inc. by Ben Bova
Command Authority by Tom Clancy
The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly
Hazardous Duty by W.E.B. Griffin
Going Dark by James W. Hall
Murder as a Second Language: A Claire Malloy Mystery by Joan Hess
The Death Trade by Jack Higgins
The Funeral Owl by Jim Kelly
Innocence by Dean Koontz
Killing Cupid by Laura Levine
Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Retribution by Eric Lustbader
Forget Me Not by Fern Michaels
A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry
The Spook Lights Affair: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery by Bill Pronzini
Scandal at Six by Ann Purser
The Prince of Risk by Christopher Reich
Hunted by Karen Robards
Innocent Blood by James Rollins
Things Fall Apart by Harry Turtledove
The New Countess by Fay Weldon

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kennedy Center Honors - 2013

The 36th Kennedy Honors gala will be broadcast Sunday, December 29 at 8:00 p.m.

Recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.

Martina Arroyo (Opera singer; born February 2, 1937 in New York, New York)

Arroyo made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1958 in the American premiere of Ildebrando Pizzetti's Murder in the Cathedral.  After this, she had many success in major roles in Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt and Zurich.

In 1965, Arroya replaced Birgit Nilsson in Aida at the Met.  She later stated, "Nobody replaces Birgit Nilsson.  You just sing for her that night."  Her 1968 London debut came in a concert version of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots and later at Covent Garden debut in Aida.

She has had guest appearances on The Odd Couple and has had more that 20 appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Herbie Hancock (Pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer; born April 12, 1940 in Chicago Illinois)

Herbie began his career as a classical piano prodigy, playing with the Chicago Symphony at the age of 11.  He later learned jazz in high school simply by listening.  As Miles Davis put it in his autobiography, "Herbie was the step after bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and I haven't heard anybody yet who has come after him."

He graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in music and electrical engineering, following this by studies in composition with the opera composer Vittorio Giannini at the Manhattan School of Music.

In 1963 he joined the Miles Davis Quintet where he explored every rhythm, harmonic and colors available at his fingertips.  He also played with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Bobby Hutcherson, Donald Byrd and Freddie Hubbard.

He set the jazz standards with his own albums Empyrean Isles in 1964 and Maiden Voyage in 1965.

Hancock was one of the first jazz pianists to fully embrace electronic keyboards, along with bassist Buster Williams, drummer Billy Hart and horn players Eddie Henderson, Julian Piester, and Bannie Maupin.  Patrick Gleeson helped Hancock program the synthesizers.

Billy Joel (Pianist, singer, and songwriter; born May 9, 1949 in New York, New York)

Billy Joel played the first rock concert at Yankee Stadium and the final concert at Shea Stadium.  His songs have been covered by Barry White, Barbra Streisand, the Beastie Boys, to name a few.

Joel is a six-time Grammy Award winner and 23-time nominee.  He has sold over 150 million record worldwide.  He has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1973, recording executive Clive Davis signed Joel to Columbia Records with "Piano Man."  The song became his first top 20 single, first gold album and the final song of nearly all his concerts.

In 1987, Joel made history by giving the first rock radio broadcast in Soviet history.

In 1998, he began concentrating on composing classical music, resulting in the 2001's Fantasie & Delusions.  Segments were included in the 2002's hit Broadway musical Movin' Out, that earned him a Tony Award for Best Orchestrations.

Shirley MacLaine (Actress; born April 24, 1934 in Richmond, Virginia)

As a young girl of 10, she attended ballet lessons and has played her cello at the Kennedy Center in the past.

MacLaine started her film debut in 1955's The Trouble with Harry, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

She has earned four Best Actrees Oscar nominations - for 1958's Some Came Running, 1960's The Apartment, 1963's Irma la Douce and 1977's The Turning Point

MacLaine has performed on Broadway The Pajama Game at the age of 20 and won an Emmy Award for her TV Variety Special, "Gypsy in My Soul."  She has also written 13 best-selling memoirs.  At one time she was the "mascot" of the Rat Pack and is the sister of Warren Beatty.

In 2013 she began a role in Downton Abbey and will be in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Carlos Santana (Musician and songwriter; born July 20, 1947 in Autlan de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico)

According to Rolling Stone, "Two things about Santana never go out of style, the spiritual and the sensual."  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

His father was a musician and he learned from him at a very early age.  He learned the violin and joined his father on stage.

In the early 1960s his group, Santana, used rock and jazz fusions, the norteno lilt, Afro-Cuban beats, daring polyrhythms and 12-bar blues.  Santas has won 10 Grammys and 3 Latin Grammys so far.  He swept the 2000 Grammy Awards in nine categories with his album "Supernatural."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Waiting for the latest Stephanie Plum title by Janet Evanovich?

If you are eager to read the latest title in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, but have found yourself stuck in the middle of the hold list, you might consider one of the series below while you wait. Each features a feisty, wise-cracking female investigator, a fast-paced plot with plenty of suspense, an entertaining cast of quirky characters, and a generous dose of humor.

Bubbles Yablonsky Mysteries by Sarah Strohmeyer
Bubbles Yablonsky, hairdresser-reporter-sleuth, works out of Lehigh, Pennsylvania in this amateur detective mystery series that includes plenty of humorous mayhem. The series begins with Bubbles Unbound (2001).

Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
Izzy Spellman, a 28-year-old San Francisco private eye working in her dysfunctional family's PI business, stars in these hilarious novels that combine chick lit with mystery. The series begins with The Spellman Files (2007).

Heather Wells Mysteries by Meg Cabot
Former pop-star Heather Wells, now amateur sleuth and assistant director in a college dorm, is the heroine in this chick lit/mystery series set in New York City. Witty dialog and outrageous, fast-paced plots make this series a good choice for Stephanie Plum fans. Start with Size 12 is Not Fat (2006).

Tai Randolph Mysteries by Tina Whittle
Tai Randolph, a wise-cracking, amateur detective...and gunshop also streetwise and intelligent. This intricately plotted mystery series set in Atlanta begins with The Dangerous Edge of Things (2011).

Charley Davidson Novels by Darynda Jones
Charley Davidson uses her unusual ability to see and speak with murder victims to help find their killers. If you are open to a bit of the occult and some paranormal romance in your mysteries, these sarcastic, fast-paced stories might be just right for you. First Grave on the Right (2011) is the first title in the Charley Davidson series.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hear Ye Hear Ye - Nobel Peace Prize in Literature 2013 Announced

On November 27, 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortunes to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. As described in Nobel's will, one part was dedicated to "the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction". 106 Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded since 1901.

The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences announced that Canada's Alice Munro - called the "master of the contemporary short story" - won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. The committee compared the 82-year-old author to Anton Chekhov, the 19th century Russian who is considered one of the greatest short story writers in history. Alice Munro's regional stories, set with great detail in Huron County, Ontario, are sometimes chronologically out of order, often ending with ambiguity. Her omniscient narrators, almost always female, experience isolation, alienation, disappointments, and failed mother-daughter relationships. Munro explores the complexity of emotions in even the most ordinary person. The focus is more on Munro's three dimensional, familiar characters than the plot. Female characters are more complicated than males-young girls coming of age and women dealing with the problems of aging.

GPL has an extensive collection of her writings. Begin with Lives of Girls and Women: a Novel, published in 1972. This is her only novel. Continue with her short stories, the first collection being Dance of the Happy Shades and Other Stories (1973) and then her most recent, Dear Life: Stories, published in 2012. Check out the rest of her descriptive, moving, character-driven stories written in the intervening 39 years. Just the titles alone pique my interest in re-discovering the amazing, newly awarded author, Alice Munro.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hot Dates

Recently I noticed that there are a number of books with titles that are simply dates. I thought it would be fun to compile a list of some of them, along with short synopses, and maybe you'll discover a hidden gem among all the standard titles on the shelf. So make a date with some of these great books!

1356 by Bernard Cornwell
Bringing to life the violence, action and heroism of the battlefield, this brilliant recreation of the Battle of the Poitiers in 1356 follows a severely outnumbered English army as they, through the ingenious planning of Edward the Black Prince, defeated the French and captured the Poitiers and French King John II.

1632 by Eric Flint
A mysterious accident in time causes twenty-first-century American democracy to collide head-on with the Thirty Years War in seventeenth-century Germany as Mike Stearn and a group of armed miners take on a gang of strangely attired invaders who are threatening peaceful Grantville, West Virginia.

1876 by Gore Vidal
Returning to America after his long European sojourn, Charlie Schuyler, Aaron Burr's unacknowledged son, and Charlie's widowed daughter seek financial and political advancement in the centennial power centers, as republican idealism is giving way to imperial expediency.

1929 by Frederick Turner
A novelization of jazz artist Bix Beiderbecke's early jams at a Capone-controlled casino, grueling cross-country tours, disastrous cinematic efforts, experiences during the stock market crash, and his final musical efforts.

1940 by Jay Neugeboren
Set on the eve of America's entry into WWII, award-winning novelist Jay Neugeboren's first novel in 20 years is built around the fascinating historical figure, Dr. Eduard Bloch, an Austrian doctor who had been physician to Adolf Hitler and his family when Hitler was a boy and young man, and who cared for Hitler's mother during her illness and death. The historical Bloch was the only Jew for whom Hitler ever personally arranged departure from Europe, and he must now, living in the Bronx, face accusations over the special treatment he received from the Nazi dictator.

1968 by Joe Haldeman
Spider, a confused young soldier, barely escapes the horrors of Vietnam and is nearly destroyed in the postwar psychomedical establishment, while his old girlfriend, Beverly, finds challenges in her antiwar protests.

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.