Monday, February 27, 2012

Living Under The Great Leader

Culled from interviews with defectors, journalist Barbara Demick calls Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea an oral history of the people. Published in 2009, her subjects' recollections span the years after Kim Il-sung's rise following WWII and the transfer of power to Kim Jong-il after his father's death. Piecing together stories and memories, Demick is able to pull aside the curtain that has kept North Korea virtually closed to foreigners for the past half-decade and illustrate the daily struggles and suffering of the people themselves, from the "glory days" of the Kim regime through the Arduous March of the 1990s, a famine that killed anywhere between 800,000 to 3.5 million people.

Nothing to Envy was awarded the 2010 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award. HM

Friday, February 24, 2012

Time to Get Away!

Is the travel bug biting? Even if you can’t get away right now, armchair travel will be a satisfying solution. Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers by Nancy Pearl will take you away. NPR’s librarian extraordinaire offers reading recommendations set in exotic international locations from Amazonia to Zimbabwe. She also includes American fiction and non-fiction for those with travel anxiety. So pack your bags or grab your glasses and get ready to read! DB

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A coming of age story.

In The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey is inspired by Jane Eyre to write this tale of a orphan. Taken in by her uncle, Gemma Hardy is again left alone when he dies and his unfeeling wife sends her to a boarding school. At school she is little more than unpaid labor, but allowed to go to class. Our heroine is plucky though and finds people who care about her. When she is too old for the school she takes a governess position and falls in love with the owner of the estate. Sooo Jane Eyre! He of course has a secret but all things are made right in the end. A well written and satisfying read! ML

Loving and leaving

Lily Tuck's novel, I married you for happiness starts with the line "His hand is growing cold: still she holds it." Nina has discovered her husband of many years has died suddenly as he was taking a nap. As she sits beside him for one night, her memory ranges over the years of their marriage. Beautifully written, this novel explores the profound depths of memory, chance and marriage. Although sad, not depressing! ML

Friday, February 17, 2012

New World Lingo

Amglish in, Like, Ten Easy Lessons by John G. Doherty. Amglish is informal English, combined with Americanisms, including slang, new words, mispronunciations, acronyms, and area dialects. Famous speakers of Amglish include George Bush and Sarah Palin, whose word refudiate (a combination of refute and repudiate) was the subject of much press. Amglish can also include selective grammar – for example Rodney Dangerfield’s “I don’t get no respect.” And Amglish isn’t alone as we also read about Chinglish, Spanglish and others. My favorite part of this book was reading about the abuse of English in advertising by those with little understanding of the language, as with the company in China who called their new line of plus-sized clothing “lard bucket.” You will enjoy the fun and be highly entertained with this little book celebrating the new world lingo. SG

Feelin' Lucky?

Desperate times call for desperate measures. This adage aptly describes a weekend trip taken by Art and Marion. After 30 years of marriage, they must do something to save their home from foreclosure. Valentine's Day finds them in the bridal suite of a ritzy hotel-casino in Niagara Falls with the last of their savings. Art has a plan, and they make a last-ditch effort to save life as they know it. The Odds: A Love Story by Stewart O'Nan is an enjoyable short read that takes an honest look at current problems. You will get an intimate look at these two characters and be privy to their personal thoughts. DB

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Everywhere Around the World

In her book, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, author Barbara Ehrenreich explores what exactly it is that makes us want to get together and kick up our heels. From ancient Greek cults to the manic displays of soccer fans, we have a long history of sharing our happiness and exuberance with others -- why? By providing historical examples, Ehrenreich makes a strong argument that we are actually hard-wired to experience the greatest joy amongst our fellow human beings. HM

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Island of Misfit... Children?

As a child, Jacob was always fascinated by his grandfather's stories about the magical, mythical orphanage where he spent much of his youth. The children at Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children had all sorts of cool magical powers, it was always summertime, and, most importantly, the children were safe from the terrible monsters that stalked them as long as they remained under the care of Miss Peregrine. As Jacob grew, he dismissed the stories. The so-called "monsters" must have been the Nazis who killed his grandfather's family. As for the rest... pure fiction. That is, until the night Jacob witnesses his grandfather's brutal murder at the hands of a creature straight out of a nightmare. His curiosity (and his shrink) lead him to the remote island and the site of the orphanage. What he finds there is something beyond imagining. Could his grandfather have been telling the truth all along? Although this is cataloged as a Teen Book, it's something adults could enjoy too. Give it a try! --AJL

Friday, February 3, 2012

Live and Learn

Luke Crisp is a lucky man. He is heir to a fortune and the next man in line to become CEO of a large Fortune 500 Company—Crisp’s Copy Centers. After finishing his MBA at Wharton, he decides to really live. Luke squanders his trust fund, distances himself from his loving father and finds himself a homeless man in Las Vegas. The future for this prodigal son looks bleak…until fate intervenes and he is given a second chance. The book Lost December by Richard Paul Evans is a modern-day retell of an old biblical story. It’s a gratifying tale with current issues that captures readers with a few heart-felt twists. Easy and enjoyable! DB

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Girl Who Went to the Movies

Have you gone to see the Hollywood remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on the book by Stieg Larsson? I saw it last weekend, and though I was very impressed with the actors and enjoyed the story's reinterpretation, I'm still in love with the Swedish original (and Noomi Rapace's chilling portrayal of Lisbeth Salander). Check it out -- along with the other two films in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Have you seen both versions? What do you think? HM