Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mystery Award Nominees Announced

The Edgar awards and the Agatha award nominations have been announced and there is much rejoicing for mystery readers.

The Edgar awards are chosen by the Mystery Writers of America and the winners will be announced on May 1, 2014. This year the Grandmaster awards are going to Carolyn Hart and Robert Crais. For the full list of the Edgar nominations go here.

The Agatha award nominees were just announced and here's the full list. The awards will be given out at the Malice Domestic conference on May 3, 2014.

I think it is great to see who is nominated to discover new authors or series that you may have overlooked during the busy year.  And now the Agatha awards have different categories for historical and contemporary mysteries, which is convenient for fans of those sub-genres.

And Glenview's mystery discussion group, Much Ado About Mysteries will be doing New to You: Favorite New Authors You Have Discovered, on March 13, 2014.

So discover a new mystery writer that you are passionate about and come join our discussion. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's Exercise Time

It's a New Year! time to get in shape and make your resolution for a healthier and stronger you!  Do it now and beat the crowd to your favorite exercise DVD. The Library offers a variety of them by Jillian Michaels, Leslie Sansone, Bob Harper, Kathy Smith, etc.; from Yoga to Zumba; from cardio to strengthening, for your abs or arms.

Whatever level of fitness: for seniors, for men, for those expecting; there is something for you. Here are a few suggestions: P90-X Extreme Home Fitness, Biggest Loser, Discover Tai Chi for Fitness, Shrink Your 5 Fat Zones. If you wish to check the Library's catalog, do your search using the keywords "physical fitness".

And now that the winter winds are blowing, you will appreciate not having to venture out to get to your workout….although shoveling the snow does count towards exercising.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Read 'Em And Weep! Teen Tearjerkers

Does Winter have you caught in a sea of tears?  Take a look at these teen tearjerkers to gain a little perspective on love and life.  All are located in the Teen Scene and are great reads for not only high schoolers but adults as well.

The Fault in our Stars
John Green
Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.

Eleanor and Park
Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits--smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Before I Die
Jenny Downham

A terminally ill teenaged girl makes and carries out a list of things to do before she dies.

If I Stay
Gayle Forman

While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weights whether to live with her grief or join her family in death.

Between Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys

In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother, and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil. Based on the author's family, includes a historical note.

 Code Name Verity
  Elizabeth Wein

In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wanted: Short Story Writers

Since 1986, the Tribune has sponsored the Nelson Algren Short Story Award in order to discover and recognize powerful new voices and stories that will help readers see the world differently. If you have written an original story fewer than 9,000 words that has never been published, now is the time to get it ready for submission. Up to ten prize winners will be announced by June 1, 2014. Entries must be submitted online by February 1, 2014 to:

If your story is not quite finished, or even if you just happen to enjoy reading short stories, you might draw inspiration from some masters of the craft:
Pulitzer Prize Winner (2000) Jhumpa Lahiri: Interpreter of Maladies
National Book Award Winner (2011) Edith Pearlman: Binocular Vision
National Book Award Finalist (2013) George Saunders: Tenth of December
Nobel Prize Winner (2013) Alice MunroSelected Stories; Runaway; Too Much Happiness; The Love of a Good Woman

Previous winners of the Algren award include Louise Erdrich, Stuart Dybek, and Joe Meno. They, as well as most of the other winners, have gone on to launch successful writing careers.  
For a closer look at the contest guidelines,consult the following: 
Whose name will be next on the list?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It’s National (Fill in the Blank) Month!

Did you know that every month of our calendar has special holidays to celebrate?  Some of these national holidays are a wonderful way to bring attention to important issues.  For instance, January is National Eye Health Care Month.  It’s also Dried Plum Breakfast Month.  Yes indeed, each month brings us many important holidays and topic awareness days, but each month also bring us some wacky and funny things to celebrate.  To list a few:

January – National Book Month AND National Hot Tea Month
February – Library Lovers Month AND Pull Your Sofa Off the Wall Month
March – Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month AND Play-the-Recorder Month
April – Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month AND Twit Award Month
May – National Share a Story Month AND National Vinegar Month
June – Audiobook Month AND Bathroom Reading Month
July – Sandwich Generation Month AND Doghouse Repair Month
August – Black Business Month AND Panini Month
September – Library Card Sign-Up Month AND Hug A Texas Chef Month
October – Reading Group Month AND Go Hog Wild – Eat Country Ham Month
November – Read A New Book Month AND Pomegranate Month
December --   Safe Toys and Gifts Month AND Bingo’s Birthday Month

There are many, many more national monthly holidays to observe.  If you want to learn more about our national holidays, here are some books you can check-out from the library, and some websites to visit.

Chase’s Calendar of Events (2013) - Founded in 1957, and now with more than 12,500 entries, "Chase's Calendar of Events" has become the most comprehensive and authoritative reference available in the world on special days, weeks, and months. Included are important historical and biographical anniversaries as well as celebrity birthdays.
Teacher’s Calendar of Famous Birthdays (2003) - The reference experts at The Teacher's Calendar and Chase's Calendar of Events have created this handy new guide for teachers in grades K-12. The Teacher's Calendar of Famous Birthdays offers 365 birthday profiles of key people throughout history--one for each day of the year.


Happy Whatever It Is You Want to Celebrate!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Favorite Books from 2013

As the calendar flips to a new year, I like to reflect on the books that I read the previous year. Below are the titles, all published in 2013, that resonated most strongly with me.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena  by Anthony Marra

This lyrically-written, intricately-plotted novel presents strong characterizations of ordinary people caught in the middle of a brutal war. The author sets this story in a small, rural village in Chechnya during the region's civil war with Russia.

Eight-year-old Havaa is witness to the abduction of her father by Russian soldiers. Her neighbor, Akhmed, a kind, though incompetent doctor, rescues Havaa and delivers her to a nearby bombed-out hospital. He hopes to persuade Sonja, the hospital's only remaining surgeon, to care for her. Sonja, however, is preoccupied with treating the area's sick and injured and desperately worrying about her missing sister, Natasha. While the main focus of this novel is five eventful days in 2004, the story shifts back and forth in time, allowing for a more complete understanding of the complex relationships among characters.

Heartbreaking and occasionally brutally violent, this novel is ultimately and surprisingly hopeful. I cannot get it out of my mind.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

In March 1929, a servant girl, Agnes Magnúsdóttir, is sentenced to death by beheading for the brutal murder of two men in a remote part of northern Iceland. Agnes awaits execution in the cramped home of a local farmer, his wife and their two daughters. The family must also extend their hospitality to include a young priest whom Agnes has chosen as her spiritual confessor. As the priest converses with Agnes, their discussions reveal the complicated story of Agnes's life.

This is a beautifully written novel based on true events. I particularly admired the evocative descriptions of the isolated Icelandic landscape and 19th-century Icelandic life.

Rose under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Written for a mature young adult audience, Rose under Fire is a remarkable story of courage, survival, sacrifice and friendship in the midst of some of the most brutal conditions imaginable. Wein return to a European World War II setting with this companion novel to the previous work, Code Name Verity (2012).

Rose, a young American pilot, volunteers for duty in England and is assigned to ferry military planes from one location to another. On a mission from Paris to England, Rose is spotted by German planes and forced to land in enemy territory. She is taken prisoner and ultimately transferred to the infamous women's concentration camp at Ravensbrück. This novel tells Rose's harrowing story from inside the camp.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

This is Louise Penny's ninth book in the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series. The unforgettable, quirky characters, quaint Québec village setting and intricate plot make this a wonderfully satisfying read.

Armand Gamache has a new murder to solve. Constance Pineault, the only surviving member of a set of quintuplets who were national celebrities when they were young, has been found dead in her Montreal home. Pineault had ties to a resident of the village of Three Pines, returning this story to the same setting and characters that appear in several other titles in the Armand Gamache series. In this book, Gamache must also navigate some very serious problems within the Homicide Division of the Sûreté du Québec.

This series is best read in order, as this ninth novel references plot elements from previous books in the series. If you are new to Louise Penny's novels, begin with Still Life, the first book in the series.

I listened to the audiobook version of this title, which was masterfully read by Ralph Cosham. Cosham has narrated all of the titles in the Inspector Gamache series, in what has become a winning author/narrator pairing.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Lyric Opera of Chicago II - 2013-2014 Season

2013-2014 Season

Die Fledermaus (The Bat) is a romantic comedy in three acts.  It was first performed in Vienna, Austria in 1874. Most of the humor comes from drunkenness, mistaken identity and men's and women's fickleness.  It is considered an operetta, which means it is interspersed with dialogue.

The first production only ran for 16 performances, because of the Viennese stock market crash on May 7, 1873.

Die Fledermaus was first heard at New York's Stadt Theater six months after its Vienna premiere.  It was first seen at the Lyric in 1982.

The Barber of Seville is a riotous romantic comedy in two acts and is based on a play by the
French playwright Beaumarchais.  It was written by Rossini in thirteen days and it is said that he spent the whole time in his dressing gown and unshaven.  The overture had been written by another less successful show.

The Barber of Seville  was first performed in Rome, Italy in 1816.  It was booed off the stage on its opening night by fans of the composer Giovanni Paisiello, whose own Barbiere (1782) was still popular.

The most famous bass aria 'Largo al facotum' has been used in twentieth-century popular culture.  Examples of this is the buffoon barber Nicki Papaloopas in Broadway Melody of 1938 and The Rabbit of Seville (1950), Bug Bunny performs the aria in a Chuck Jones's cartoon.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago lecture will be on Thursday, January 23 in the Multipurpose room at 7:00 p.m.

Rusalka by Antonin Dvorak is based on a local myth and includes a famous "Hymn to the Moon."  It is a drama in three acts and was first performed in 1901.

The opera is loosely based on The Little Mermaid, a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago lecture will be on Thursday, February 13 in the Multipurpose room at 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Eve on the big screen.

It seems like there are two camps with respect to New Year's Eve. Those who love it, and those who don't. Every year I vow to make plans earlier but on the heels of Christmas sometimes I want to take a break from the festivities, but I do like to do something different. Something to mark the end of the year, that may or may not have been grand, and something to mark the beginning of something new and fresh. Here is a short list of movies with memorable New Year's Eve scenes, in case you need a little help feeling festive.

New Year's Eve
When Harry Met Sally
Sunset Boulevard
The Godfather
Trading Places
The Holiday