We are so excited to introduce Note to Shelf our brand new monthly newsletter. So what can you expect? Our goal with Note to Shelf is to inform, excite, and educate our adult patrons about the items we are loving or in some cases…not loving at the moment. The majority of the newsletter will be dedicated to our staff reviews on books, audio books, and DVDS. Note to Shelf will also feature a preview of new items coming out soon and give a spotlight on library events and services we are excited about!
Think of Note to Shelf as an insider’s guide to the library and to our staff. We hope you enjoy!
As always, happy reading, listening, and watching.
Prepare to be transported from Bohemian Paris to the battlefields of WWII and the English countryside in the sweeping historical fiction novel The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer. Most of us can’t imagine sipping champagne with Picasso or bathing in Hitler’s bathtub, but that was Lee Miller’s life—the infamous artist, model, and war photographer. While much of the book is centered on Miller’s complicated love affair with the famous surrealist artist Man Ray, the real crux of the story is her personal journey from muse to notable artist. Debut author Scharer is a natural storyteller and readers will find this an evocative novel that will leave you wanting more.
The Orphan of Salt Winds by Elizabeth Brooks is a great atmospheric novel that takes place on an isolated windswept marsh in rural England. There is a house on the marsh, Salt Winds, and it lives up to its name with the howling wind and cool salt spray. The novel is divided into chapters during different time periods, 2015 and 1939-1941. As a reader, your first encounter with Virginia, the main character, is on New Year's Day 2015. She finds what she believes is a sign and knows that today is the day to end her life. The novel then shifts to Virginia as a young child, who is adopted by Clem and Lorna the owners of Salt Winds in 1939. She so loves her adopted father, Clem but does not feel as close to Lorna. One evening, in 1940, as she and Clem are in the worn-out attic they see a German plane in flames crashing into the marsh. Clem feels that he should see if he can rescue the pilot since he knows the marsh so well. But, only one man will return from the marsh. This will set into motion the rest of the novel. There is that mystery, as well as a creepy man who makes young Virginia uncomfortable, and now wants Lorna for himself. This is a compelling novel that I could not put down.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan is about the beginning of a life for George Washington “Wash” Black who was born into slavery on a sugar plantation called Faith in Barbados. Don’t imagine that he lives and dies on that plantation with the cruel English master, Erasmus Wilde, because Wash is gifted and he’s got gumption. These traits are recognized by the master’s eccentric brother, Christopher “Titch,” who comes to Faith to pursue scientific endeavors. Titch takes Wash on as an assistant and the novel goes way beyond colonial slavery in the 19th century and takes off on an adventure, beginning with an experimental flight in a hot-air balloon. The book is beautifully written, narrated in the first person by Wash, and Edugyan takes the reader places far from Faith as they travel (read: escape) to parts of the world meeting other scientists where original ideas and invention trump racism. The audiobook gorgeously narrated by Dion Graham.
Note to Shelf for Young Readers
While the weather outside may be frightful, there’s no reason you and your children should be stuck inside. At least, that’s the premise of Linda Akeson McGurk’s wonderful book, There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids. As an émigré to America, McGurk was struck by how much time American children spend inside and inactive, especially when compared to children in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. In Sweden, children spend up to 6 hours a day outside in kindergarten and don’t learn to read until they are 8 years old. And Sweden is one of the most literate, happiest countries in the world. What is it about being outdoors in nature that American children are missing- and how can we fix that in our own children’s lives? As a mom of two young boys, this book was a revelation: filled with useful practices I’m using with my kids every day.
I recently watched Operation Finale and thoroughly enjoyed it. Fifteen years after the end of WWII, a team of top-secret Israeli agents travel to Argentina to track down Adolf Eichmann, the notorious Nazi officer who masterminded the transportation logistics that brought millions of innocent Jews to their deaths in concentration camps. Hoping to sneak him out of the country to stand trial, agent Peter Malkin soon finds himself playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with the hated war criminal. Little did Eichmann know that his world as an ordinary man, working as a foreman at a Mercedes-Benz factory, was about to end on May 11, 1960, when he was captured by Israeli intelligence. This movie tells the true story of the daring mission to smuggle Eichmann out of Argentina so he can be brought to trial in Israel to answer for the horrendous crimes of the Third Reich. For all of you Ben Kingsley fans out there, you won't be disappointed--he does an outstanding job portraying the evil Adolf Eichmann.