Monday, October 31, 2011

Good Old-Fashioned Haunting

In the spirit of Halloween, settle down for this quick read: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I'm not a huge fan of scary stories, but this one had the right amount of thriller and supernatural creepiness to keep me on the edge of my seat (and not too afraid to be alone in the dark). Though published in the early 1980s, Hill sets her ghostly tale somewhere in the early part of the 1900s on the desolate marshes of England's northeast coast. Arthur Kipps, a young up-and-coming lawyer is sent to the secluded Eel Marsh House to settle the estate of it's most recent inhabitant, Alice Drablow. Instead, he finds himself caught in a web of terrifying apparitions and unexplainable sounds. And to add to the tension, Eel Marsh House just so happens to be situated at the end of a causeway and is only accessible when the tide is out. If this story sounds a little familiar, it's because The Woman in Black has already been made into a stage play, a TV movie, two radio programs, and will be introduced to the big screen early next year (starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame as Kipps). HM

Death Tells a Story

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak is narrated by Death himself. Since the story takes place during World War II, death is an appropriate narrator to this story of a young girl, Liesel, who becomes a book thief. The first book she takes, before she has even learned to read, is "The Gravedigger's Handbook" stolen from a gravedigger working on her younger brother's grave. The Book Thief is about Liesel, the books she steals and her life on Himmel Street in Germany. "The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s Night. It seems poised to become a classic" (USA Today). SG

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Calling all Crafters!

The queen of crafts does it again in her new book—Martha Stewart’s handmade Holiday Crafts: 225 Inspired Projects for Year-Round Celebrations. If you are looking for ideas for gifts, decorations or holiday displays, check it out! You'll love the colorful creative crafts for all ages. They range from very easy to a bit complex. The materials may cost a little, but the final product will be worth it. She lists several crafts for each major holiday. The book also includes basic techniques and templates. The buyer’s guide lists brands and contact information for supplies. A new how-to for the holiday season --now's a great time to get started!DB

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Green" Bling!

These days, jewelry doesn't have to be fresh off the showroom floor to be considered beautiful (even Princess Kate's famous engagement ring is recycled from generations past). In Jewelry Upcycled, crafters Sherri and Michelle Haab show you how to repair, recycle, and reinvent old or broken jewelry to create something entirely new and Bling-worthy. Take that old broach with the bent clasp and transform it into a vintage-looking necklace! Put the beads from that broken bracelet to good use as a pair of earrings! This mother-daughter team of crafters will even show you how to take everyday objects (an old spoon, bubble wrap, tape from old cassettes) and turn them into some very cool, very wearable jewelry.

Some of the projects are a bit complex and others will require assistance from a parent (for the more youthful crafters out there), but this book is definitely worth checking out! --AJL


For those who maybe aren't ready for winter or don't even want to hear the word, "snow," this book might make you feel a little bit better about Michigan weather. In The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in Lapland, travel writer and translator Barbara Sjoholm journeys from her home in Washington to the arctic circle -- in December. Just a reminder here: the winter solstice usually occurs around December 20th, marking the shortest day of the year. In the far north, that means that for weeks before and after the solstice, the sun never actually rises. Sjoholm recounts her adventures in this perpetual twilight, including a trip to the original Ice Hotel, a visit to Santa's Village, an ill-conceived dog-sledding excursion, and an outdoor film festival where the movies are projected onto a giant sheet of ice. Along the way, she slowly comes to realize that the untouched north is full of vibrant and sometimes irreconcilable stories. HM

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mysterious powers

In The Hum and the Shiver, author Alex Bledsoe tells the tale of the Tufa, a small group of people who arrived in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee long before white settlers. They have deep superstitions and magical powers mixed with the music they all play. When Private Brown Hyatt, a Tufa, returns home from Iraq she is wounded in body and spirit. The omens her family can read point to an impending death, can she read the signs in time to help her family? Good storytelling for those who like magical reality. M.L.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shine, shine, shine....

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need a moment to relax, pick up Light a Candle by Sylvia Browne. It is a tiny book filled with calming thoughts and meditations. Even the pictures are soothing. In the introduction, she talks about the energy of candles and the benefits they offer. The book includes affirmations for family, health and wisdom. Always an animal lover, Sylvia even has a page devoted to pets. A mini-read but worth it! DB

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thunder Dog!

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson. On 9/11 Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle were at work on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center when the first terrorist plane crashed into the building. Not knowing what had happened they headed for the stairs to get out of the building. The days events create a remarkable story of loyalty and calm in the face of a terrifying event. As you read about Michael Hingson you understand how he has never let blindness stop him from living each day to the fullest and how his upbringing prepared him to deal with the events of 9/11. An inspiring story. SG

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Night of the Unread

If you've been in the library recently, you may have seen our display of books that have not checked out in awhile. Maybe they lived on a bottom shelf, maybe they had an ugly cover -- whatever the reason, these are truly hidden gems that have been looked over in the past. For example, as soon as you see Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon, it's pretty easy to guess why it's been ignored; at a daunting 773 pages, it's a major undertaking. But that doesn't mean that it's not worth it. Following the fictionalized adventures of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon (as in the Mason-Dixon Line), Pynchon takes readers on a whirlwind tour "featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political, and major caffeine abuse " (from the inside flap). If that doesn't sound worth the 773 pages, I don't know what does. HM

Friday, October 14, 2011

Healthy Choices

If you're concerned about your weight, take a look at The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet. This book was compiled by experts from the Mayo Clinic and is not just for diabetics. It is divided into three parts: Lose It!, Live It! and All the extra stuff. The authors have identified 5 good habits and 5 bad habits for dieters. They also list 5 bonus habits to help keep you on track. Recipes, serving sizes, behavior strategies and an action guide are included. This colorful, informative, easy-to-read book is great for anyone who wants to get healthy. DB

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Chilling Read

Harbor by John Lindqvist (translated from the Swedish) is the story of a man but it is also the story of a place, of a thing. Anders and Cecilia and their daughter Maja are out exploring the frozen channel when Maja disappears, practically right in front of her parents. Unable to get over this the couple split and two years later Anders returns back to the scene. Strange happenings build into a feeling of dread that makes the book hard to put down. The character development is outstanding with a wonderful flow to the history of the harbor and it's inhabitants. Don't let the 'epic-ness' of the book be a deterrent. John Lindqvist is the author of Let the Right One In, which was made into a popular, must see horror film. SG

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

home decorating

Love home decorating? Read design blogs? You'll love Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney. Author of the blog DesignSponge, Bonney takes us into reader's homes (called Sneak Peeks) and also includes DIY projects and "before and afters" which features old furniture repurposed and redone. Design Sponge represents a new era in home decorating. Formerly the province of glossy magazines and high end decorators, the Internet has given us quirky design blogs and the ethic of DIY. The book also features tons of photos and information. ML

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Halloween Scene!

It’s time to get your ghost on! The Big Book of Halloween Fun by Susie Johns is a great guide. The creative recipes will tempt all your little ghouls. The simple crafts are good for younger children. There are costumes that will appeal to all ages. Ten pages of templates are included for those who need a pattern. Don't forget the fun and games. Quick, easy and spooky suggestions for some happy haunting. DB

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

All Ye Know on Earth, and All Ye Need to Know

Many people recognize Ann Patchett as a writer of realistic fiction, including the PEN/Faulker Award-winning novel, Bel Canto, and her recently published best seller, State of Wonder. While I, too, have read and enjoyed her novels, none have affected me as strongly as her memoir, Truth and Beauty: A Friendship. The story revolves around Patchett's relationship with fellow celebrated author and poet, Lucy Grealy (Autobiography of a Face). While Patchett describes herself as stoic and hardworking, Grealy is a personality to be reckoned with, living life with the brilliance, violence, and transience of a firecracker.

The experience of following Patchett and Grealy's friendship, from their beginnings as creative writing students at Sarah Lawrence through their grapples with adulthood and all that comes with it, is at times both gratifying and devastating. Both in print and audiobook format, this title is highly recommended. OEO

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Worth a Second Look

I've heard a lot of people say that they started to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but never made it through to the end. If there is one book that is worth a second try, it's Betty Smith's classic coming-of-age tale. Set in the early part of the 20th century, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the trials and triumphs of young Francie Nolan as she navigates a bittersweet childhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Francie's story is punctuated with the comings and goings of a variety of strong secondary characters, who serve to move the narrative in unexpected and sometimes heart-wrenching directions. This is definitely a book where the characters stick with you long after you've finished the last page. HM