Elisabeth and Krishna's MUOMS Picks

Stay tuned for the movie this summer!
Stay tuned for the movie this summer!

Elisabeth's Picks:

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale - This is the sequel to Hale's bestselling Austenland, which was about a woman obsessed with Mr. Darcy who goes on a Pride and Prejudice inspired vacation at a resort that allows its clients to live a few weeks in the life of an 18th century noblewoman. Following in that story's footsteps, Midnight follows a middle-aged divorcee who needs to get away from her philandering ex and disaffected teenage children. She finds love, mystery, and possibly murder on her Pride and Prejudice themed, Northanger Abbey-influenced vacation. Even with the murder, this book is light, fluffy, and fun. I highly recommend it to Austenites everywhere. And look out for the movie Austenland, coming this summer to theaters!

Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie - Jennifer Crusie is one of my all-time favorite authors. She writes fast, funny, witty romances filled with characters that will live in your imagination long after you put down the tale. I hesitate to characterize her as "just romance" because she is more than pure Harlequin fluff (and I love fluff!). There's an emotional depth to her characters that I really appreciate. Fast Women follows Nell, a recently divorced redhead with a flair for paperwork and a need for a job. She takes a position as the secretary to Gabe McKenna, Private Eye, and sparks inevitably fly. As she works her way through a dangerous case and falls in love with a dangerous man, is Nell moving too fast?

 

Krishna's Picks:

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman- The dead have come back to feed on the flesh of the living as one small time cop, Rick Grimes awakens from a coma to find that things aren't what they used to be. The gritty reality that the world will never be the same is depicted in wonderful black and white panels throughout this gripping horrific and honest graphic novel. Will Rick be reunited with his family? Will Atlanta and the world at large forever be plaged by these savage fiends? If you are a fan of horror, and apocolyptic survival you may be like me and have a zombie conginency plan but if not after reading The Walking Dead you will make one.

 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio- "When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind." - Dr Wayne Dyer. This quote is the underlying theme for this brilliant debut children's novel. Auggie Pullman is a ten year old boy who has never attended school but more intergal to the story is that Auggie has been living for the past ten years with a facial deformity that makes going to middle school just a little more terrifying than normal. Throughout this novel the children grow, surprise you and themselves and often "choose kind." Wonder is a beautiful coming of age story that will forever be etched on my heart.

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

We all seem to be a little on the quiet side this week.  It could be we are just making preparations for the Impending Doom.  Or it could be that we are just feeling beat up by this winter in general.  Whatever it is, we are hopeful that the PA rodent’s prediction will come through for us and we will see an early Spring.  In the meantime, this week we have some unrequited love, gossip of the librarian kind, knife skills, computer science, some Rez, and another masterpiece.

Let us begin!

Here is Erin’s weekly film pick!  “This weekend I watched 10 Years, a movie about a group of friends reuniting for their 10-Year High School Reunion. Admittedly, I picked it up because it stars Channing Tatum. The film is sweet and will perhaps make you a bit nostalgic for your own hometown and high school friends. There are several storylines that deal with unrequited love, lost love, and people trying to appear as someone they are not. Ultimately, I thought the film dragged in the middle but I still enjoyed its saccharine ending.”

Elizabeth, who can sometimes be found on the Reference Desk, reports in with this, “Ok, I had to check out the book that just won the 2013 Printz Award: In Darkness by Nick Lake. This is historical fiction set in Haiti about a young boy trapped by the recent earthquake.  There is also a parallel story about the slave who liberated Haiti from France. This book beat out The Fault in Our Stars and there is lots of librarian gossip about that decision.”

Jeanne is distracted.  Look-out! “The narrator of Kathleen Flinn's, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks is keeping my mind off the road this week. The author has a lot to share with people who don't (yet) cook and people who already do. There's plenty to learn from Flinn's knife skills tips, simple soup ideas and meal planning. It made me feel virtuous about what I do know in the kitchen and humble about what I don't.”

Sweet Ann is reading Bend Not Break a Life in Two Worlds by Ping Fu. “Ping Fu wrote this memoir to bring to light her childhood during the Cultural Revolution in China during the 1960's and 70's, and her booming career in the United States.  As a young child she was taken from her family to be re-educated  by the communists.  People were cruelly murdered and tortured during this time period.  She was one of the lucky ones to survive.  When the universities opened years later she was able to attend.  She became part of a group that condemned the government.  She was arrested and forced to leave China.  She came to the United States where she struggled with language but enrolled in college and was able to eventually get her degree in computer science.  She is now the CEO of Geomagic, a 3D digital reality solution company.  This is a story of family, survival, determination and one woman's drive to succeed. “

Pat T. has just finished a book that is on everyone’s best of from last year; The Round House by Louise Erdrich. “The life of the Coutts’ family irrevocably changes for the worse when Geraldine Coutts is brutally attacked near the Round House on their reservation in North Dakota. Geraldine’s husband, Bazil, and her thirteen-year-old son Joe watch on helplessly, as Geraldine isolates herself from everyone.  Joe frustrated by the injustice of the laws of the land, tribal, federal and state, takes action into his own hands and seeks to find his mother’s attacker. There are many layers to dissect in this wonderful novel: Joe’s coming-of-age story when his secure family life is turned upside down and he is reluctantly thrust into an adult world; the racial tensions; land title laws; and moral and legal implications of justice.”

I am about half way through Transatlantic by Colum McCann.  Anyone who knows me knows what an evangelist I am for Let the Great World Spin.  Well, LTGWS as it is known in Jen-Land is going to have to learn to share the love.  Transatlantic which is out in June is another marvel from McCann.  These interconnected short stories span 150 years and two continents.  This is a novel worth waiting for and when you get it in your hands it is worth savoring.  I for one am looking forward to have weather excuse to do nothing but read this gem of a book.  For the rest of you it comes out in June.  Get excited.  You have more than sunshine and roses to get excited about.  You have Transatlantic.

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

We are through.  Through with this winter that is!  It would appear that the theme this week is one of wanting to do something, anything different.  So this week we have some deep questions, some modern romance, and a small town in Germany with a small narrator, dysfunction, Moses and some pretty stellar achievement.

Let us begin!

Caroline aka The Lopez has been caught in the act!  The act of avoidance! “I had big plans to clean my apartment on Sunday and instead I read Indiscretion, a debut novel by Charles Dubow.  So as you can probably gather, it’s an incredibly engaging, page-turning story.  Set mainly in the Hamptons, New York City and Europe, this book reminded me of a modern day Great Gatsby. It centers around a close-knit, very wealthy group of friends who are introduced to a younger newcomer, Claire.  The great thing about this book is that it’s told from unusual perspectives, and will keep you guessing while also pondering deep questions like, ‘Even after you find love, success, wealth and fame, why is that sometimes not enough?’” 

Amanda is also in search of some escapism. She has just finished These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer  "The Duke of Avon is a notorious rake in mid-17th century France. On a walk one evening, he rescues a fiery-tempered boy, Leon. Yet there’s more to Leon than meets the eye for he is actually Leonie, a beautiful girl in disguise.  With possession of Leonie, the Duke has finally found a way to take revenge against his lifelong enemy. However, can the Duke carry out his devilish plans as he finds himself enchanted by Leonie’s devotion to him?   This book was written in 1925 and is considered by many to be the originator of the modern romance genre. The book’s themes are reminiscent of The Count of Monte Cristo and Pygmalion (My Fair Lady). While the Duke is described by modern readers as an alpha hero, I find him to be too much of a dandy while the women fling tears whenever they’re in danger of not getting their way. The relationship between the Duke and Leonie is unsettling as he intends to adopt Leonie as his daughter. However, the book is described by fans as being very romantic, so you may enjoy it. The highlights of the book are the cutting exchanges between the Duke and his enemy which are hysterical and clever. So while I dismiss the romance, the conversations are a must read for anyone fond of witty arguments. “


Barbara M. is back!  BUT she is reading about the wrong country and the wrong war.  Discuss.  “I don’t know how I missed this book but I am now reading Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi and am totally enraptured. It begins in World War I in a small town in Germany and the narrator, Trudi, is a dwarf. It is so beautifully written that you can feel Trudi’s pain and anger grow; the pain of being different and the anger towards those who made her an outcast. Trudi’s story is set in the historical context of Germany from World War I onwards. I am savoring this book and am reading it slowly to absorb every word. “


Abby is busting out with a new genre! “Despite a few attempts, I had never read an entire graphic novel. However, since we have a new display going up for Graphic Novels I thought I should give it another try. I was having a tough time trying to figure out which one to try and ended up taking it to Twitter.   I went with a recommendation from a librarian in Seattle I've never met.  And a great pick it was! Stitches by David Small is the story of young David growing up in a painfully dysfunctional home. I don't see how the author could have done a better job relating his story if he had written a traditional memoir. One reason I think Stitches worked for me was the pages are not too colorful or busy.  My past experiences with graphic novels have left me uncomfortable for these reasons.  I have since moved onto another Twitter based pick Blankets by Craig Thompson.  Visually it has some similarities with Stitches and I am enjoying it very much.

Jeanne surrenders! “I am reading The Lawgiver by Herman Wouk. I have been eyeing the book since it came out a few months ago. I could not resist the pull of the legendary author of books like The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. And Mr. Wouk is 97! I wanted to see what he is still producing. The Lawgiver is a novel written in epistolary style with copies of texts, emails, Skypes, diary entries and other communications between the author and people who are trying to convince him to join a project with Hollywood people and rich backers to make a movie about the indefinable Moses. Yes, the one from the Bible. The cast of characters includes Margolit Solovei (which sounds a bit like Marjorie, as in Marjorie Morningstar. Just saying.) who is a young writer-director of just okay comedy and lapsed Jewish faith. It even includes BSW (Betty Sarah Wouk, who in life to 2011 was Wouk's wife of almost 70 years and also his agent). So with the modern communication, the ancient story, and Wouk's wit I am fascinated. “

Sweet Ann is working on some non-fiction this week with My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor.  “This is a wonderfully written memoir that chronicles the early life of Chief Justice Sotomayor to her nomination to the Supreme Court.  Sonia was born and raised in the South Bronx and speaks lovingly of her Puerto Rican heritage.  She shares the hardships she had to endure; juvenile diabetes, an alcoholic father, his early death and her mother's unhappiness. Sonia also happily shares the love of her extended family and the countless people who supported her along the way.  She learns that she must rise above her circumstances in order to achieve all that she can. As a reader, you will be rooting for her the whole way.”

 

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

This week we have a tasty morsel, some fear, some bad weirdness, hope in the heart, some hockey, a crash landing, a dead rabbit and the legend of Zelda.

Let us begin!

Abby is, well, for lack of a better word, excited. “A new book on Scientology?  BRING IT.  I am now about 1/3 of the way into Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief and enjoying every morsel.  The author Lawrence Wright has produced some new information that digs deep into L. Ron Hubbard's past and the roots of Scientology.  Perhaps the only thing more fun that reading this book will be the responses and lawsuits cooked up by Scientology. I can't wait to get to the Tom Cruise stuff.  But like all books on this subject no matter how well researched and written, I suspect I'll be left wondering how the group has managed to assemble such passionate followers based upon (in my opinion) the delusions and pronouncements of a mediocre sci-fi writer. The Church of Abbytology, anyone?”

Pat T. is branching out!” New Year, new genre!! I just finished reading my first graphic novel, Stitches, by David Small and I surprised myself by liking this memoir a lot! This is the author's story of growing up with a troubled mother and father, who as a doctor, treated David with radiation as an infant that eventually caused cancer as a teenager. This graphic novel has more pictures than words, but these pictures accurately convey the character's emotions of fear, anger and resilience. “

Double Secret Agent Erin has a new gig writing reviews for Library Journal so she will no longer be shooting us book reviews as her time is being taken up with Serious Reading.  HOWEVER do not despair!  She will be supplying us with what she has been viewing.  In this week’s offering, Erin takes a bullet for us.  Thanks Erin! “This week I watched Your Sister’s Sister, and I am horrified to see that it received an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes because it was such a far-fetched, insanely bad movie. There is Emily Blunt, who is secretly in love with her dead ex-boyfriend’s brother. There is Iris, a lesbian who sleeps with the guy her sister is in love with, unbeknownst to her. There is a possible pregnancy. There are tears. It was all very bad and weird. What I thought was going to be a low budget sleeper indie set in a beautiful location was just a script that could have been written by Dawson’s Creek’s own Dawson Leery.”

Ann seems happier this week.  This is a good thing. She has just finished The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam.  “This novel follows the life of Percival Chen, a Chinese immigrant, living in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  He is running a popular English academy and has learned to work the system to get the things he needs.  That is until his son makes the mistake of angering the South Vietnamese government and is arrested.  Percival will do anything to get his son back.  This book has many twists and turns and people will not be what they seem.  It will make you cheer and cry and create hope in your heart.  It's a tough story but it is quite well written.”

Stephanie is enraptured! “The first I heard of The Antagonist by Lynn Coady was the Briefly Noted section in last week’s New Yorker. It sounded like it was about a hockey player, and I will read pretty much any fiction that circles around athletes, so I gave it a shot. This is a pretty great book, though it’s only tangentially athletic. Think Andre Dubus III by way of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but in Canada. The same blends of macho/thoughtful, sardonic/compassionate, memory/false memory, but the geography was more confusing. I have no idea whether Coady has adequately captured the inner voice of a college male or adult male, as so many of the Canadian reviews of this book make a point of noting, but that seems beside the point to me. It’s vivid and funny and raw, and I loved immersing myself in it.”

Miss Elisabeth has found a new favorite. “I just finished Code Name Verity, the much-buzzed about YA historical fiction book. Librarians are abuzz at its Printz potential. This is the tale of two best friends in the British Service during WWII - Maddie is an excellent pilot in the ATA (the civilian airforce) and Queenie, aka Eva aka Julie, is a Special Operative. Told from one character's point of view for the first half and anotherfor the second half, the book begins after a crash landing. Only one of the friends has a chance of making it out alive. The story is gripping, and my mind was blown by some of the later twists and reveals. With an unreliable narrator, intense tales of heroism and courage, a detailed historical afterword by the author, and frank depictions of enhanced interrogations and the atrocities of war, this is the most adult YA book I've read in a long time. In fact, as the characters are all adults, I'm surprised it wasn't published as adult fiction. Nevertheless, I can wholeheartedly recommend it as the first book I have read in a few weeks that I couldn't put down.”

Where’s Jeanne?  She’s in her car! “I am listening to Whiteout by Ken Follett. The thriller is set in Scotland and I am enjoying listening to Josephine Bailey's clear, lilting voice. The story begins with a lab technician stealing a canister from the top-secret research laboratory where scientists work at finding cures to deadly viruses. Now he's dead and so is the poor rabbit he stole, wanting to cure it. Who was this guy? Were there others involved? Will there be an international crisis? Follett writes greed, deception and unlikely liaisons in such a way that the reader is gripped before they know how creepy some of it is. I never knew I had a penchant for this type of sensationalism!”

I have just started a very promising work of historic fiction;  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.  Zelda is one of my obsessions and has been ever since I read Zelda by Nancy Milford.  So for me to really begin to love it just by reading the prologue is really quite something.   Zelda was the wife and muse of F. Scott Fitzgerald and some say the face of the Jazz Age.  It will be interesting to see how Fowler handles one of the most fascinating and legendary  women of the 20th century.

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

It would appear that we are deep into the winter blues this week.  Maybe the expected warmth coming our way this weekend will cheer us.  If not, someone please send some mood elevators or perhaps one of those special sun lamps.  This week we have a puppet master in plain sight, lots of sad, some more sad and tragic, and a rather tragic reading rut.


Amanda is reading For the Win by Cory Doctorow. “I am reading this because several of my techie coworkers have a love for all things written by Mr. Doctorow. The story is set across multiple characters living in various locations around the world. All of them are players of massive multiplay online games (MMOGs). Some of the players are playing for the fun of belonging and others because they need to make a living. For those forced to play, they endure rough conditions, beatings, and worse if they speak out about the way they are treated. However, an online revolution is coming as players began to form online unions to demand better conditions.   Doctorow lacks the narrative spark that makes you emphasize with his characters, though you cringe away at the harshness of their lives in the slums. He's also a bit on the preach-y side as he suddenly stops the story to go on a tangent about how money is made in these games. My fault with the work is that I can see the puppet master. On the other hand, it's a fascinating look at the serious world of MMOGs. I am not a gamer, so I had very little background knowledge about the topic. “

I want it noted that Ann aka Little Miss Unicorns and Rainbows has used the word ‘sad’ three times in her offering this week.  Let us discover what is bringing our girl down, shall we? “I have just finished The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis.  I would like to begin by saying I like sad books but this book although beautifully written was one of the saddest books I have ever read.  The story follows Hattie who has come North to Philadelphia with her mother and sister during the migration of many Black people from the South. Hattie gets pregnant and marries August a young man she loves.  Their life, although a struggle, seems happy until tragedy occurs when their twins die of pneumonia.  Hattie becomes very disenchanted with her life.  After the initial chapter of the death of the twin babies, the novel jumps in time to tell the story of some of Hattie's other children as adults.  Their lives have been impacted greatly by poverty, prejudice, and their mother's bitterness.  The writing is wonderful but this story is extremely sad.”  Please.  Won’t someone send some sunshine Ann’s way?  I think she could use it.


Jeanne also weighs in.  She is not much happier. “I read The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis because I wanted to learn what the title meant. I am still not sure about the title but I have some biblical ideas. For instance, the choice of the number twelve and the choice of Hattie's last name as Shepherd.  Is it perhaps possible ultimate salvation? What I do know is that there are twelve children involved and what happens to them is mostly sad and often tragic. Hattie Shepherd, a teenage wife and mother, and her husband August have ten of these children; Hattie has one by another man and the last is a grandchild. They are a struggling black couple who have left the Jim Crow south of the 1920s to live in Philadelphia. After her adored first twins die in infancy of a disease that could have been prevented with pennies, Hattie and August have several more children that she "shepherds" fiercely through life with food and shelter and education, but not demonstrative love. As they grow, each of the children develops some debilitating issue, illness or obsession into adulthood. It is always sad and tragic to read a portrayal of people struggling against racial bias and this is dramatically apparent in this family's raw story of dysfunction. The book actually reads more like short stories than a novel as Mathis writes about Hattie and each child's struggles by chapter. Still, it is a mournfully beautiful first book and I would anticipate more by this author.”  As I said, please someone send us some chocolate or something.  We could use it.


I am in a totally tragic reading rut.  I finished a few weeks ago something that I am sure is going to be a favorite for 2013.  I have long been a fan of Kate Atkinson and her new offering Life After Life is going to be her masterpiece.  The book begins with the main character Ursula in a café in Berlin in the mid 30’s.  Who should walk in but her good friend Eva Braun and Eva’s beau Adolph Hitler.   Urusla pulls out a pistol and kills him thus altering the future. The next chapter has Ursula being born in the English countryside.  Sadly Baby Ursula dies.  Chapter three has Ursula being born in the English countryside and she lives.  You see, Ursula gets to have do overs.  She can change small details and literally alter the course of her life.  Atkinson’s writing is genius and you will totally fall for Ursula.  Some of her fates are ugly and it kills you when you read them until you realize that this may not be her fate after all.  This one comes out in April.

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