Saturday, July 28, 2012

Old-Fashioned Fun!

Take a walk down memory lane and keep the kids busy this summer with Tag, Toss & Run: 40 Classic Lawn Games by Paul Tukey & Victoria Rowell. You will be reminded of how to choose captains and pick sides. There are even ways to determine the unfortunate “it” for games like “Kick the Can” or “Ghost in the Graveyard”. Trivia facts about various games and players make this an entertaining read. It offers some great encouragement to get you up off of the couch! DB     

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Moonlight on the Bayou

New Orleans, in the national consciousness, used to be like the images of this Louis Armstrong song. "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans...Miss them moss covered vines...the tall sugar pines where mockin' birds used to sing...The moonlight on the bayou..."
That was pre-Hurricane Katrina. Suddenly the television was broadcasting a national tragedy as people too poor or too stubborn to leave were caught up in a devastating flood and the ineffectual response of federal agencies. What resulted was not only flood waters but after a few days those flood waters became "incredibly foul, a vile brew of gasoline, sludge, snakes and canal rats, stinking of sewage and decaying bodies." To those of us who live in the Midwest this is just another tragedy to be forgotten, but to people who live in the city it became the defining moment of life remembered, before Katrina and after Katrina. We have at the library a book put out by Time Magazine called Hurricane Katrina, The Storm That Changed America.
Documented with searing photos, the book covers why the levees failed, a day by day timeline of how the government agencies failed the residents, and more.
The storm has also spawned a rich mix of novels set in New Orleans, either during the storm or the after effects on the consciousness of the residents.
Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead features Claire, a tattooed
 and quirky New York detective. Set 18 months after the hurricane, a still devastated city is in chaos as Claire tries to find a person gone missing in the storm. "Mentored and deeply inspired by a famous French detective, the I Ching, and profoundly illuminating dreams, a complex Claire leads us into her own nightmares as well. Claire is a moody, hip, and meticulous investigator."
Another fine mystery novel is Joy Castro's Hell Or High Water, featuring
Nola Cespedes, a reporter assigned a story about the city's sex offenders who, after Katrina, went missing. Nola grew up poor in the projects of New Orleans and is keenly aware of the divide between rich and poor. As women go missing and she tracks sex offenders, a conflict is hinted at that has a dynamic and suprising ending.
HBO also produced a wonderful series about New Orleans called Treme.(available for interlibrary loan) A fictionalized account of life in New Orleans after Katrina, it features great acting and music interspersed with drama.
So have a beignet (a sweet fritter) and some chicory coffee, settle down and read about New Orleans, y'all! ML

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Little Red Guard: A Family Memoir

In his memoir of growing up during the waning years of the Cultural Revolution, Wenguang Huang frames his experiences around one all-pervasive family event -- his grandmother's funeral.  Though traditional burials were officially banned by the state, Huang Ma asserts her authority and over the course of the author's childhood, manages to persuade the family to build a coffin and secure a grave site in her ancestral village.  Huang's narrative is a mix of bittersweet coming-of-age story and a portrait of a society that is changing at a rapid pace.  HM

Monday, July 16, 2012

Crafting Photos!

The Crafters Guide to Taking Great Photos
Aimed at craftspeople with minimal photography experience or equipment, this guide offers simple advice on arranging, composing, lighting, snapping, selecting, and organizing outstanding digital images of all kinds of handmade objects. It also briefly covers photography basics and then goes on to address photographic issues specific to various craft disciplines, such as jewelry and fabrics. Many step-by-step photo sequences and examples of successful shots walk the reader through the process. With the ongoing popularity of sites like Etsy (on which Adnum authored a series on photography), this book is sure to be sought after by anyone who wants to sell his or her goods online. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC

An Intellectual Puzzle

Semiretired Scotland Yard detective Peter Cammon is called to help an overwhelmed Dorset police department in Walking Into The Ocean. An apparent husband-and-wife drowning murder-suicide is not resolving cleanly since the husband's body has not been recovered. Meanwhile, an elusive serial killer is steadily moving up the picturesque English coastline, ever closer to this area, killing teen girls at a systematic clip. Don't miss this engrossing and complex debut, the first volume in a projected trilogy. Rich prose, literary allusion, and a strong nod to women's intuition provide a romantic touch to a crack police procedural. It's perfect for those who love travel and history mixed with crime. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fire Lover

Fire Lover by Joseph Wambaugh is a true story about an arsonist that terrorized a community for years.  Known as “probably the most prolific American arsonist of the twentieth century” he left behind destruction and death, until that fateful day when he finally slipped up.  Joseph Wambaugh, author of The Onion Field and The Choirboys, tells this story with his usual meticulous research and attention to detail.  Fire Lover is brilliantly told, keeping you on the edge of your seat, covering the world of arson, law-enforcement and fire-fighting while exploring the deviant personality of the arsonist.  SG

A Seaside Saga

The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri is a modern-day fairy tale for adults. Nora is a political wife from Boston who has suffered the scandal of an extra-marital affair. She has recently received a letter from a distant aunt and decides to seek refuge on Burke’s Island off the coast of Maine. Once there, she revisits her childhood memories and the mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance. As she works to come to terms with her problems she is introduced to the mythical folklore the island dwellers believe. While this book is not terribly deep, it does put a positive spin on dealing with current issues and finding the strength to carry on. A good summer read. DB   

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Not Exactly Camelot

In 1935, before he penned Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck wrote a short novella about a group of friends living the life in a poor district of Monterey, called Tortilla Flat.  Based loosely on Arthurian legends, Steinbeck's story centers on the accidental landowner Danny and his tribe of devoted comrades as they conspire, drink, gossip, and have a holy experience or two.

For more retellings of classic stories, check out our reading list at the Adult Reference Desk, "Covering the Classics."  HM

Monday, July 9, 2012

Coming of Age

The Age of Miracles is a fiction debut by Karen Thompson Walker, a new author worthy of attention.  The earth’s rotation is slowing causing changes in time, weather and gravity.  But this book is more about a young girls coming of age during this turbulent time than anything that could be considered sci-fi.  Julia, a middle-school student, must deal with all the issues a young teen has to deal with, while also dealing with major changes in the world as she knew it.  This book is highly readable and reminds me somewhat of Life As We Knew It, a teen fiction by Susan Beth Pfeffer (also recommended). SG

Saturday, July 7, 2012

In Death

J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) has written over 30 books in her “In Death” series. I was reading a blog about Richard Castle readalikes and was surprised when Robb’s books popped up in the conversation. Naturally I had to give one a try and so looked up her series in our “What’s Next” link on the Adult Services’ Reading Ideas page. Naked in Death is the first book in the series and I have to admit I enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the next. The books are set in the future and the main character, Eve Dallas, is the tough, sexy detective that always gets her man. Although Roberts tends towards romance, the Robb books are definitely mysteries with a bit of romance thrown in ala Richard Castle and his Nikki Heat character. I am always happy to find a new series and am looking forward to being entertained in the months ahead. SG

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Indie Music and More!

Yo La Tengo, the influential rock band formed in the post-punk fervor of the early 1980s and still going strong today, receives its due in this fascinating if sprawling biography, Big Day Coming, by music journalist Jarnow. He focuses primarily on the band's founders, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, and their efforts to make a quirky, eclectic sound out of their many influences and their "equally intense love of art-noise bands like Mission of Burma alongside perennial favorites NRBQ, the Kinks, and others."  He details the early days of rising and soon-to-be influential bands such as Black Flag and the Replacements experimenting in Maxwell's, Yo La Tengo's favorite bar in its home base of Hoboken, N.J., and he captures the all-encompassing spirit of the current post-indie scene...  Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Buddha Lite?

Is there a punch line to Rinzler's jokelike title of The Buddha Walks Into A Bar? Not one, but many. Yet this is in no way a superficial treatise. A young, New York-based Buddhist teacher who will connect especially well with readers in their twenties and thirties, Rinzler is able to take a relaxed, colloquial approach to meditation and its many benefits because he's so well versed in Shambhala and Tibetan Buddhism. As sophisticated as his knowledge is, however, he addresses the basics with energizing specificity, beginning with how to make time to meditate and discern one's core motivation.  Rinzler cogently explains how the cultivation of generosity, discipline, patience, joyous exertion, tenderness, and social consciousness can help individuals resolve conflicts associated with work, family, romance, sex, money, and health. With examples ranging from superheroes to YouTube videos, Rinzler brings timeless teachings to the buzz of now in an engaging, richly instructive, genuinely illuminating spiritual guide.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist