Tuesday, November 25, 2008

December Displays

Well, the holidays are upon us, which of course means it's time for the always-popular Holiday Fiction display at the library. The great thing about most of these books is they are short and sweet, perfect for savoring during what little downtime most of us have this time of year.

In addition to the fiction, we will also have the how-to holiday books and cookie baking books on display for easy perusal.

Make this holiday the best ever with the resources at our library!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Testimony by Anita Shreve

While I used to read Anita Shreve religiously, I have been disappointed in her last couple of titles. On a whim, I picked up her latest, Testimony, and I am so glad I did.

Set at a prestigious private high school in an idyllic Vermont town, the reader is instantly immersed in the story, as it begins with Mike, the headmaster of the school viewing a scandalous videotape - one that features 3 of the school's basketball stars in compromising positions with a 14 year old girl. Of the three boys, J.Dot, Rob and Silas, Mike is most affected at Silas's involvement. Silas is a well-behaved and respectful student who Mike helped get into the school, so this seems completely out of character. The remainder of the book deals with the circumstances leading up to the events captured on tape as well as the repercussions for everyone even remotely involved.

Told through multiple point of views, including the actual participants of the events, their parents, the local reporter who broke the story, and the headmaster himself, this is a sensitively told story, and although contributions come from several different voices, I never found it confusing or difficult to follow. It ends heartbreakingly, as all the circumstances surrounding the events come to light.

The beginning of the book was difficult to read - it's a little graphic sexually, but once I made it through that I couldn't put this book down. The way the story unwinds throughout the course of the book kind of reminded me of Shreve's The Last Time We Met, which I also highly recommend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Book Award Winners Announced

The National Book Award winners for 2008 are:

Young Adult Literature:
Judy Blundell What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic)

Mark Doty Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems (HarperCollins)

Peter Matthiessen Shadow Country (Modern Library)

Annette Gordon-Reed The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton & Company)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Torie O'Shea Mysteries

The latest entry in the Torie O'Shea mystery series by Rett Macpherson, is the book Blood Ballad. This is the 11th book in the series, so I'll try not to include any spoilers in the review - this is a series you want to try and read in order!

Torie O'Shea is a genealogist and local historian in a small Missouri tourist town who seems to find herself in trouble more often than not. What I like about her the most is that she is a real woman - struggling with her weight, dealing with family issues, and her life in small-town America. In this particular book, Torie somehow finds herself spending the night in the woods with one of her least favorite people, as she reluctantly participates in New Kassel's first Birding Olympics. As is bound to happen, a dead body ends up bringing Tori's night to an end, but is only the beginning of a new mystery involving a recording sent to her from the deceased person, her ancestors and a historical unsolved disappearance.

One of the highlights of these books for me is the humorous relationship between Torie and her stepfather, Colin. While they clash over just about everything, and neither one is bashful in their exasperation with the other, Colin is still one of the first people Tori turns to when she's in trouble. Which is a lot.

Overall, the Torie O'Shea mysteries are great cozy mystery reading - there is little if any graphic violence, the characters are quirky and entertaining, and the books always end with a satisfying conclusion. There are a few in the series that I felt were not up to MacPherson's usual quality, but on the whole, this is an enjoyable and very readable series. I would definitely recommend reading the books in the order they were written so changes in Torie's family, friends and neighbors can be followed coherently.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

November Displays

Wow, this month really snuck up on me! We've got all new displays up at the library for your reading pleasure...

In honor of American Indian Heritage Month, we're featuring a book display on native culture and history. There are a some especially moving titles included in this group, including Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, Native American Testimony and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen.

Another display that is really moving is our "Non-fiction Books that Read like Fiction." The titles on this display range from biographies to true crime to travelogues, and they all look like fascinating reading.

November is also Diabetes Awareness Month, so we are featuring our resources on diabetes as well as numerous cookbooks aimed at diabetic appetites. Rounding out the displays is the always-popular-this-time-of-year Soup Cookbook display. Don't forget our Chili Cook-Off on November 22nd - bring in your own special concoction, or just show up for the tasting - 12:00 - 1:00 in Meeting Rooms A&B.