Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great Outdoors

With summer days getting shorter and shorter, we need to make the most of the beautiful weather and this book has lots of suggestions that take advantage of seasonal resources. Make It Wild: 101 Things to Make and Do Outdoors encourages you to stroll the beach, walk in the woods, and scour your backyard to find materials for making art, toys, decorations, and furniture. It's a great way to make an artful reminder of our more temperate Michigan months.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Not what you'd expect!

Set in the not-too-distant future, Bernard Beckett's novel Genesis puts a modern spin on Plato's Republic. This brief but deep story of dystopian society paints a grim portrait of what Earth has become following years of war and plague: Civilized society has been confined to a remote, walled island near the bottom of the world. Here, inhabitants sacrifice their freedom in exchange for safety and security. This way of life is all young Anex has ever known. Now, hoping to receive a highly-coveted invitation to join the elite Academy, the country's governing body, Anex undergoes a very rigorous enterance examanation. For this, Anex chooses to research and speak on the trial and eventual fate of Adam Forde, an infamous historical figure who defied the government's demand of ultimate submission in order to rescue an outsider. As part of Adam's punishment, he must work with a highly advanced robot named Art. Brings up the argument: What makes us human. The ending will shock you! Not a light read by any means, but definitely worth checking out!

Sleepless in...Maine

One of Stephen King's hidden gems. Shortly after losing his wife to cancer, Ralph Roberts begins suffering from insomnia, waking earlier and earlier each night. At first, he attributes it to getting older (he is, after all, in his 70s), but soon Ralph is lucky to get in two hours before he finds himself lying wide-awake in his darkened bedroom. It's not until Ralph begins seeing strange things--colored envelopes surrounding friends and neighbors that reveal things like health, hidden emotions, and secret agendas--that he realizes something is very wrong. Meanwhile, a storm is brewing in Ralph's small Maine town: An internationally-known women's rights activist has been invited to speak, and certain people will do anything to keep her out. People who have dangerous plans that, if carried out, will throw the universe out of balance and put an end to known life. And Ralph is the only one with the power to thward these plans. With the help of an unlikely ally and some very odd otherworldly beings, Ralph embarks on a race against time to save the universe. Insomnia may be one of King's odder offerings, but it's one of the author's best.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Music, Food, and Home

Through the generous sponsorship of two local businesses, we are adding a number of new titles to our magazine collection. This month we've started receiving Saveur, Spin, and Elle Decor. Did you know that you can check out previous issues of the library's magazines? It's a great way to catch up on light reading!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Escape to... The Clearing

With The Clearing, author Heather Davis spins a short but (bitter)sweet story of relearning to live, love, trust, and stand on one's own: Hoping to escape an abusive relationship, high school senior Amy leaves her home and friends in Seattle and moves to a rural Washington town to live with her non-intrusive, but still loving Aunt Mae--who she barely knows. Unfortunately, the fresh start isn't everything Amy has hoped for. In trying to mask her deep emotional scars, Amy puts up walls and comes across as defensive and unfriendly to her peers. After a particularly depressing day, Amy escapes the confines of Mae's trailer and wanders off into the wilderness beyond. Here she finds a clearing that seems perpetually shrouded in mist--no matter the weather elsewhere. Beyond the mist, Amy finds the unexpected: Here she meets Henry, who is unlike any boy she has ever met. The friendship-to-love-relationship the two young people begin soothes Amy's deep wounds and helps her to again believe there is good in the world. The whole experience seems almost, well...magical to Amy. And it is. Still, something nags the back of Amy's mind whenever she and Henry are apart--like why are apple trees blooming in autumn?

What Amy eventually learns is that Henry and his family have been caught in the endless cycle of reliving the summer of 1944. Worried about his brother off fighting in WWII (and about to be shipped off to war himself), Henry, in a moment of desperation, wished for a miracle--and got it. Amy knows there are choices she and Henry must both make. Choices to move on with their lives. But these choices could separate them forever.
The Clearing is beautifully written. An ideal book for a quiet evening at home or a day at the beach.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fashionably Recycled

What do zippers, curtains, pants, and chip bags have in common? They can all be upcycled into fashionable handbags! Refashioned Bags has ideas and patterns for a wide array of purses and totes. You'll be inspired to reuse all sorts of household items for crafting purposes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Romance and a bit of intrigue in a vintage clothing store

A Vintage Affair is a bittersweet story of friendship and love with a touch of history thrown in. It takes place, and was originally published, in Great Britain. The story is centered in and around Village Vintage clothing store. Phoebe, the store owner, visits older people who have clothes to sell and stories to tell. Purchasing the vintage dresses sometimes changes the way customers feel about themselves and therefore changes their lives. Phoebe has several male admirers and her life and schedule can be quite complex. The book is entertaining and pleasant to read.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

There's Always Next Time

Fans of The Time Traveler's Wife will likely enjoy My Name is Memory, the latest adult offering by Ann Brashares (of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame). In it we meet Daniel, a young man who has the unique ability to remember past lives and past loves. In his most recent incarnation, Daniel seeks out Lucy, a young woman he remembers as Sophia, the great love of his lives. Can Daniel convince Lucy/Sophia of their past together, or will he be doomed to yet another lonely life? Told in alternating viewpoints, readers will get to know both characters, their motivations, and the reasons they may or may not be able to be together this time around. A bit confusing and, at times, frustrating, but still a worthy read.

Master of Suspense

If you're wanting to read about blood and guts, keep looking. If, however, you're seeking a subtly spooky story filled with exquisitely well-drawn characters playing out their parts in a setting so gorgeously-descriptive you can almost smell the damp of the lake as you read, rush to the shelf and check out Bag of Bones! In a departure from his typically in-your-face brand of horror, author Stephen King crafts with Bag of Bones a beautifully haunting tale that is driven more by its slowly unfolding suspense than by scariness (although there are a few moments...).

Still reeling from the sudden death of his wife, Jo, author Mike Noonan is mysteriously and uncontrollably drawn to his summer cabin on Dark Score Lake, a place he hasn't been back to in years--not since before he lost Jo. Here he hopes to discover what is drawing him back and, hopefully, find a cure for the writer's block that has been plaguing him. Upon his return, Mike instead finds himself unwillingly pulled into the dirty politics of the community, which are revolving around a nasty and possibly murderous custody battle brought on by a grudge held by the ruler of the area's good ol' boy network. Here at Dark Score Lake, Mike must also learn to confront and deal with his own personal ghosts. In doing so, he uncovers a nearly century-old secret that proves not everything (or everyone) in this outwardly-tranquil lakeside community is what it seems.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pushing the Limits

Anita Shreve is known for her ability to write compellingly about personal challenges and her latest work, A Change in Altitude, continues in that vein. Married couple Margaret and Patrick have left Boston so Patrick can do medical research in Kenya. They make quick friends with a British couple and decide to trek to the top of Mt. Kenya. The dangerous trip takes a fatal turn and the following events have long-term consequences. Thought-provoking and well-written, this is a good read to the last page.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Da Vinci's Genius

The complex man behind the Mona Lisa had thoughts and theories about such a wide variety of subjects: painting, sculpture, flight, architecture, war, and anatomy, to name a few. Leonardo's Legacy: How Da Vinci Reimagined the World delves into the the mysteries of science that so captivated Leonardo, while revealing personal facts that humanize the brilliant man.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not Just James Bond

If you like Sean Connery, you will like Being a Scot by Sean Connery and Murray Grigor. The book is loaded with great photos and illustrations providing the story of Connery's life as well as many details of Scottish cultural life and achievements.

Friday, August 6, 2010

More Than Dirty Harry

Clint: A Retrospective is packed with photographs that document the life and career of Clint Eastwood (some even dating back to the 50s). Mr. Eastwood wrote the forward himself and the following chapters illustrate the wide array of ways he's contributed to the film industry as actor and director. Don't miss the accompanying DVD that features clips of his movies.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A year in thirteen chapters.

"Black Swan Green written by David Mitchell, re-creates the universe inhabited by a 13-year-old English boy in 1982. It's a world of superstition, misinformation, obsession with social status, the mystery of girls, popular songs, school, his family's increasing dysfunction, and dimly understood political upheaval. Mostly though, Jason Taylor struggles with his stammer ("the hangman") and bullies. As in previous books, Mitchell's structure is a series of stories that add up to a novel. From Jason's first cigarette to his first kiss, this novel finds the strange in the quotidian. The antique Brit slang delights as often as it baffles. Highly recommended." -Library Journal