Friday, September 21, 2012

World War II

We have a lot going on this fall that deals with World War II at the library. This week author, Melanie Wiggins, discussed her book, Torpedoes in the Gulf: Galveston and the U-Boats 1942-1943, and next week on Tuesday September 25 at 6:30, will be the Texas City Reads discussion of Erik Larson's book, "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin. So I wanted to share some of the books from a bibliography I made this week about World War II fiction. I hope our programs have inspired you to read more about the events of World War II.

                                                                                                                                    Every Man Dies Alone
by Hans Fallada

It presents a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis and tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front. With nothing but their grief and each other against the awesome power of the Reich, they launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in.

The Corps Series               
by W.E.B. Griffin

Semper Fi     

From Shanghai to Wake Island, the Corps was America's first line of defense as the winds of war exploded into the devastating surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Now, the bestselling author of the acclaimed BROTHERHOOD OF WAR saga brings to life the men of the Marine Corps--their loves and their loyalties--as they steeled themselves for battle, and prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice...

by Joseph Heller

Bombardier, Yossarian, is endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. His efforts are perfectly understandable because as he furiously scrambles, thousands of people he hasn't even met are trying to kill him. His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions, he is trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

When the Elephants Dance

by Tess Uriza Holthe

In the waning days of World War II, as the Japanese and the Americans engage in a fierce battle for possession of the Philippine Islands, the Karangalan family and their neighbors huddle for survival in the cellar of a house a few miles from Manila. Outside the safety of their little refuge the war rages on—fiery bombs torch the beautiful Filipino countryside, Japanese soldiers round up and interrogate innocent people, and from the hills guerillas wage a desperate campaign against the enemy. Inside the cellar, these men, women, and children put their hopes and dreams on hold as they wait out the war, only emerging to look for food, water, and medicine.

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths
by Shigeru Mizuki

This is a semiautobiographical account of the desperate final weeks of a Japanese infantry unit at the end of WorldWar II. The soldiers are told that they must go into battle and die for the honor of their country, with certain execution facing them if they return alive. Mizuki was a soldier himself (he was severely injured and lost an arm) and uses his experiences to convey the devastating consequences and moral depravity of the war. 

Nobody Comes Back: A Novel of the Battle of the Bulge
by Donn Pearce

Toby Parker was America's unwanted son. Only sixteen years old, he was too young to be enlisted in the army, but old enough to know that he didn't want to return to the life he knew: moving from new home to new home, neglected by his mother, ignored by his father, overlooked by everyone else. The war overseas promised exotic locations and adventure, but what it delivered was something else entirely. The Nazis were beginning to fall back, and the war was all but over. But the fighting still raged on in pockets of Europe. Out of the critical focus on France, only one last position needed to hold: the city of Bastogne. Thrown into battle almost immediately upon arrival, he soon found himself wounded and alone, struggling to survive and looked upon to lead. It was here that Toby was to learn what war really was, and what kind of man he was destined to become. 

     White Flag Down             
by  Joel N. Ross

In June of 1941, two years after signing a on-Aggression Pact, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Within six months, the Russians lost a thousand miles and three million men—and in, 1942, the relentless German Wehrmacht swept into Stalin’s namesake city, Stalingrad. Combat seethed in the city streets, ten thousand Soviet soldiers died in one day fighting for a single hill. Now, in mid-September 1942, Hitler orders a final offensive to capture Stalingrad. Yet on October 7th, the German army pauses. As General von Richthofen, commander of the Luftwaffe, writes in his diary: “Absolute quiet at Stalingrad.” After months of combat, a sudden silence rises on the eastern front.  But why? This tells the story of an American airman, a Russian major, and a Swiss journalist in a crucial race against time during this eerie quiet on the battlefield. An unlikely alliance, they have united to track down the one document that could stop negotiations between Germany and Russia for another Non-Aggression Pact—a truce that would open the floodgates for German domination of the Western world.  Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones aware of the document’s importance, and time is running out.

World War II: 1939-1945 Series  
by Jeff Shaara
The Rising Tide

As Hitler conquers Poland, Norway, France, and most of Western Europe, England struggles to hold the line. When Germany’s ally, Japan, launches a stunning attack on Pearl Harbor, America is drawn into the war, fighting to hold back the Japanese conquest of the Pacific, while standing side-by-side with their British ally, the last hope for turning the tide of the war. As British and American forces strike into the “soft underbelly” of Hitler’s Fortress Europa, the new weapons of war come clearly into focus. In North Africa, tank battles unfold in a tapestry of dust and fire unlike any the world has ever seen. In Sicily, the Allies attack their enemy with a barely tested weapon: the paratrooper. As battles rage along the coasts of the Mediterranean, the momentum of the war begins to shift, setting the stage for the massive invasion of France, at a seaside resort called Normandy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Share What You're Reading

There are so very many books out there that are just waiting to be read. If you are like me, then sometimes it gets hard to remember what you have read, who the author was, how much you enjoyed a certain book, and when it was that you read it. There are websites out there where you can save all of this information for you own sake and to share it with your friends and family members. I wanted to share some of these website with you.

Goodreads at

"Goodreads is the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world. We have more than 10,000,000 members who have added more than 370,000,000 books to their shelves. A home for casual readers and bona-fide bookworms alike, Goodreads users recommend books, compare what they are reading, keep track of what they've read and would like to read, find their next favorite book, form book clubs and much more. Goodreads was launched in January 2007."  (according to their website)

LibraryThing at

"LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth."

"A free account allows you to catalog up to 200 books. A paid account allows you to catalog any number of books. Paid personal accounts cost $10 for a year or $25 for a lifetime."

"LibraryThing is a full-powered cataloging application, searching the Library of Congress, all five national Amazon sites, and more than 690 world libraries. You can edit your information, search and sort it, "tag" books with your own subjects, or use the Library of Congress and Dewey systems to organize your collection."  (according to their website)

Shelfari at

"Based in Seattle, Shelfari introduces readers to our global community of book lovers and encourages them to share their literary inclinations and passions with peers, friends, and total strangers (for now). Our mission is to enhance the experience of reading by connecting readers in meaningful conversations about the published word. Shelfari’s members can: build virtual bookshelves to express themselves to their friends and to the world, discover books that are popular in their trusted circles of friends, influence peers by rating and discussing books online, discover and learn from people with similar reading tastes, participate in online book groups to further explore literature and share ideas, and interact with and learn from authors. Shelfari was officially launched in October 2006 and was acquired by in August 2008." (from their website)

Revish at

"If you love reading and sharing your reading experiences you're in the right place! Revish lets you: write reviews of any books you read, maintain a reading list and share it with friends, keep a reading journal to look back and see what you were reading at any time, read reviews by other Revish members, create and participate in groups, to discuss books, reading or anything else, and use our API and widgets to include your Revish content on your blog or website."  (from their website)

Reader2 at

"This site allows you to keep a social list of the books you read and/or recommend. After you sign up you can add books to your unique list. You can view anyone else's books and they can view yours.
Extra user-defined data can be added to each book entry to organize and describe the book further such as descriptions, link, and tags. You can use tags to categorize (and thus organize) books so that you and others using this site will have an easier time finding new and interesting books."  (from their website)

aNobii at 

"aNobii is an online reading community built by readers for readers allowing you to shelve, find and share books. Our mission is to bring book lovers together and encourage reading. Use the aNobii website and Apps to find your next read and tell your friends about it. Don’t worry if some of your friends aren’t on aNobii yet as we integrate with Facebook and Twitter. The word “aNobii” comes from Anobium Punctatum, the Latin name for the most common bookworm. Sign up - it takes less than a minute and it’s free."  (from their website)

AboutRead at

"We believe 'Books can change World'. Reading is not only for pleasure or to study; sometime a few sentences in a good book can change a man's life. 
The goal of is to make reading simple, fun and meaningful. Aboutread helps booklovers:
1. Search for good books based on the unbiased Amazon reviews;
2. Check local library catalogue;
3. Organize book shelf and share with friends."  (from their website) 

One cool thing about AboutRead is that it can connect with the catalog from your local library. You can search for a book that sounds like a good read (after adding Texas City as your library at the top of the screen) and then click on "find in local library," and it will connect you to our catalog, so you can see if the book is available to check out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Envy by Sandra Brown

Blockbuster author Sandra Brown combines her riveting romantic suspense with narrator Victor Slezak's mesmerizing voice in the 2001 audiobook Envy (FIC BROWN and AD FIC BROWN). From start to finish, this tale leaves you breathless with its twists and turns.

Publishing executive Maris Matherly-Reed finds a gem of a story prologue in her slush pile, and resolves to hunt down the elusive author to get the rest of the manuscript. Titled Envy, the prologue hints at a volatile relationship between two young men that ends badly during a boating trip.

What Maris doesn't realize is what sort of ramifications the story, and that boating trip, will have on her and her husband, Noah Reed, and father, Daniel Matherly — the three-person oligarchy over Matherly Press.

Eager to edit Envy, she tracks its author to a remote island off Georgia's coast. It's there she's able to access the story, chapter by chapter, and better get to know its cantankerous, mysterious wordsmith. It's only a matter of time before she realizes she's been caught in a spectacular game of manipulation, deceit and murder.

This was a re-read (or re-listen, as it were) for me. I first listened to Envy several years ago; it served as my introduction to Sandra Brown as well as to audiobooks. And what an amazing, grand slam of an introduction it was: Victor Slezak's smooth, radio-ready delivery brought to life what already was a gripping story. He nails the biting, southern drawl of Envy's author, Daniel Matherly's fatherly concern and Maris' perserverance. He depicts the villains as delightfully scheming and heartless. Slezak knows when to move things along and when to slow things down so you can luxuriate in the wonderful tension of a scene.

Another aspect of the story that really struck me was the book-within-a-book format: As we watch Maris' story unfold, we also read chapters from the book she's editing, which recounts the backstory of the two men in the prologue. It's all very meta but Brown makes it work flawlessly.
No, he'd come this far, he was committed to seeing it all the way through the denouement. But between here and there, he couldn't make a single misstep. Each chapter had to be carefully thought out, with no mistakes allowed. It had to be the perfect plot.

And if his resolve to finish it ever faltered, he had only to remember how long it had taken him to reach this point in the saga. Six months.

Well … six months and fourteen years.
I have since gone on to try a few more Sandra Brown books, but so far none of have entertained me as much as Envy. After re-listening to it, though, I'm apt to give some of her more recent releases a try, particularly if Victor Slezak is involved in the spoken version. Envy the audiobook remains, to me, a stellar example of perfect alchemy between story and narration.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Does Your Bookshelf Say About You?

What does your bookshelf say about you? Are books piled everywhere, because you read so fast, the bookshelf can't keep up with you? Is your bookshelf neat and in order with cute little knick-knacks in front? 

There is a website called Share Your Shelf at the address           , where you can submit photos of your bookshelf or bookshelves.  

Feel free to go ahead and share your photos on the website. If you do, please tell me in a comment, and I will create a Texas City's bookshelves blog post. I am also including a picture of my bookshelf at home. What do you think my bookshelf says about me?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Television Shows Based on Books

 I am not sure how much television you are watching, but there are several shows on these days that are based on books series that can be found right here in the library!! There is a nice variety in this list, so give the book a try, and then go check out the show. Share with us how close you think the two are. Which one do you like better, the book series or the show???

Bones:                  Season 8 Friday Nights at 7 on FOX (starting September 7, 2012)

Dr. Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist working at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington D.C. Dr. Brennan also assists the FBI by identifying victims that cannot be identified based on what they looked like when they were found. Dr. Brennan works alongside Agent Seely Booth (and along with her team) to identify the victim and elements of the crime scene, and to help Agent Booth figure out who the killer is. We also have seasons 1-6 of the show on DVD TV BONES.

Based on the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs:         MYS REICHS
Deja Dead                           Devil Bones
Death du Jour                      206 Bones
Deadly Decisions                 Spider Bones
Fatal Voyage                       Flash and Bones
Grave Secrets                      Bones are Forever
Bare Bones
Monday Mourning
Cross Bones
Break No Bones
Bones to Ashes

Dexter:                 Season 7 on Sunday nights at 8 on Showtime

Dexter’s adoptive father Harry (a detective in Miami) knew that Dexter was going to grow up to be a serial killer. Harry decided to try Dexter to be a killer of the killers who slipped through the cracks of the legal system. Now, Dexter carries on the course that his adopted father started him down, and he has to follow Harry’s “rules” to the letter. It helps that Dexter works as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police Department.
Based on the Dexter by Jeff Lindsay:      FIC LINDSAY

Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Dearly Devoted Dexter
Dexter in the Dark
Dexter by Design
Dexter is Delicious
Double Dexter

Game of Thrones:           Season 3 begins March 31, 2013 on HBO

The new king of the nine kingdoms goes to the wasteland of Winterfell to find his lieutenant (who had helped him secure the throne in the first place) to help him hold his throne. All around them are people (even some the king’s own family members) who are looking to steal the throne for themselves and believing they have the right to. We have the first season on DVD TV GAME

Based on the A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin:                              SF MARTIN   

Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows                                
A Dance with Dragons
The Winds of Winter

Gossip Girl:                         Season 6 begins October 8th at 8 p.m. on the CW

The series focuses on the lives of five wealthy and privileged “teenagers” (at the beginning of the series) and how they handle the scene on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In the background is the “Gossip Girl” who always seems to know what is going on in the lives of these teens and blogs about it.

Based on the Gossip Girl series by Cecily Von Ziegesar:                                           YP FIC VONZIEGE

Gossip Girl                             
You Know You Love Me          Only In Your Dreams
All I Want is Everything              Would I Lie to You
Because I’m Worth It                 Don't You Forget About Me
I Like It Like That                       I Will Always Love You
You’re the One that I Want         Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer
Nobody Does It Better
Nothing Can Keep Us Together

Pretty Little Liars:             Season 3 finished this past summer

In the town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, a group of four girls are reeling after the disappearance of “queen bee” Alison DeLaurentis. A year later, the girls start receiving messages from a secret “A,” who threatens to expose their secrets. The girls suspect it is Alison, but what if it really isn’t?

Based on the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard:   YP FIC SHEPARD

Pretty Little Liars                         Heartless
Flawless                                      Wanted
Perfect                                         Twisted
Unbelievable                                Ruthless
Wicked                                       Stunning
Killer                                           Burned

Rizzoli and Isles Series:4th Season begins in November on TNT

Boston police detective Jane Rizzoli works with the Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Maura Isles (and forensic expert) to catch killers. Rizzoli is a tomboy who can take down perps without help, while Isles is a walking encyclopedia spouting out information (whether it has relevance to a case or not) who always dresses impeccably. Even though they are complete opposites, this team works well together, and the two women are best friends.

Based on the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series by Tess Gerritsen:                               FIC GERRITSE

The Surgeon                       The Mephisto
The Apprentice                   The Keepsake
The Sinner                           Ice Cold
Body Double                      The Silent Girl
Vanish                                 Last to Die

True Blood:         Just finished its 5th Season on HBO

In a small town in Louisiana called Bon Temps, Sookie Stackhouse (a waitress at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill and a telepath) saves a vampire, Bill Compton, from being drained of blood by drug dealers (vampires’ blood is a drug called V). This draws Sookie into the supernatural world of vampires, werewolves, fairies, and other things that go bump in the night. We have the first four season on DVD: DVD TV TRUE

Based on the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris:           MYS HARRIS  

Dead Until Dark                            All Together Dead
Living Dead in Dallas                     From Dead to Worse
Club Dead                                     Dead and Gone
Dead to the World                         Dead in the Family
Dead as a Doornail                         Dead Reckoning
Definitely Dead                               Deadlocked

Vampire Diaries:               Season 4 starts October 11 at 7 p.m. on the CW

Elena did not know that things like vampires, werewolves, or witches existed until she met Stefan Salvatore. Now between Stefan, his brother Damon, and her other friends, there is no end to the trouble that they find themselves in in Mystic Falls, Virginia. We also have the first two seasons on DVD: DVD TV VAMPIRE

Based on the Vampire Diaries series (very loosely) by L.J. Smith:              YP FIC SMITH

The Awakening ; and The Struggle
The Fury; and, Dark Reunion
The Return; Nightfall
Shadow Souls
The Ripper
The Compelled
The Asylum

Longmire:                 Season 1 just finished last month on A&E

Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming has become a widower and hides his pain behind and brave face and decides to focus more on his career and reelection as sheriff. A deputy decides to run against him for the sheriff position, which makes Longmire feel a little betrayed. Longmire also turns to his friend, Henry Standing Bear, for advice and support.

Based on the Walt Longmire Series by Craig Johnson:          MYS JOHNSON

The Cold Dish                                        The Dark Horse
Death Without Company                         Junkyard Dogs
Kindness Goes Unpunished                     Hell is Empty
Another Man's Mocassins                       As the Crow Flies

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Vampire Novel of the Century Award

from the website


The Horror Writers Association (HWA), the international association of writers, publishing professionals, and supporters of horror literature, announced the nominees for the Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award in January, and the award was presented at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet at World Horror Convention on March 31, 2012. The Award marks the centenary of the death in 1912 of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.

A jury composed of writers and scholars selected six vampire novels that they believe have had the greatest impact on the horror genre since publication of Dracula in 1897. Eligible works must have been first published between 1912 and 2011.

The nominees were:
The Soft Whisper of the Dead by Charles L. Grant (1983). Unfortunately, we do not have this one.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King. First published in 1975, this was only his second work. Set in the town of Jerusalem's Lot, it tells of a man's return to his hometown, where he finds a plague of vampirism. The book has twice been made into television mini-series and recorded by the BBC. King's work has won countless Bram Stoker Awards from HWA, and King (1947- ), was recognized with HWA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.            FIC KING 

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. First published in 1954, the novel is set in the mid-1970's, when a plague has swept the world, bringing with it zombie-like creatures identified as vampires. Richard Neville, the book's protagonist, may be the last living human. The work has been filmed three times under various titles, most recently in 2007, under its original title, starring Will Smith. Matheson received HWA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.    FIC MATHESON and AD FIC MATHESON (audio book) We also have the movie, DVD I

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman first appeared in 1992. The novel imagines an alternate history in which Van Helsing and his cohorts failed in their attempt to rid England of Dracula. In this timeline, Dracula went on to marry Queen Victoria, ushering in an era of vampire aristocracy in England and elsewhere. The book is followed by two other novels and a number of shorter works set in the Anno Dracula universe.   SF NEWMAN

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice first appeared in 1976. The book introduces the vampires Louis and Lestat, who, along with a dozen other unique individual vampires, appear in a long series by Rice known as the Vampire Chronicles. The novel was filmed in 1994 starring Tom Cruise as Lestat and Brad Pitt as Louis; another work in the series, Queen of the Damned, was filmed in 2002. Rice (1941- ) has won many awards, including HWA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.   FIC RICE and we have the movie DVD INTERVIE

Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, published in 1978, is the first of a 25-book (so far) series featuring le Comte de Saint Germain, a 2000+-year-old vampire, whose adventures in many historical periods are recounted. This novel overlaps in many details with the historical facts of le Comte de Saint-Germain, a mysterious figure. An American writer, Yarbro (1942- ) was awarded HWA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.    FIC YARBRO


I Am Legend  (Congratulations!!!)

Since this award is only given once a century, it is a pretty big deal. If you have a chance, check out either the book or the movie and give them a try!!! Do you think this title deserved to win? Did you think there was another book that deserved that honor???

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed hiked eleven hundred miles of the Pacific Coast Trail, through California and into Oregon, at age 26, by herself, with no experience of hiking or backpacking.  Cheryl is now 43, and she says in a book trailer that everything she is now is what she “gathered back to herself” on that trip.  Raised by a loving mom and an abusive father (who the mother finally leaves), Cheryl and her two siblings knew what it was like to live on the edge, as their mom did what jobs she could and moved them around to keep their family intact.  Mom didn’t always have it together.  Cheryl relates how she sometimes left them alone without a sitter, and spent a period smoking marijuana right in front of them.  

Her mother had a desire to be something to discover herself, but found in her short life that she had all she could do was to take care of her family.  Finally meeting a great guy, he’s a loving second father to the kids but falls off a roof and is a long while recovering.  To put it succinctly, Cheryl and her siblings had their share of trauma and hardship.  Then Mom dies of cancer, at age 46.  Four years later Cheryl is on the trail. She’s racked up a move towards heroin (which her ex-husband helps get her out of) a tendency toward having sex with other men (which destroyed her marriage) so that she is pretty down when she begins her trek.

What is amazing about all of this is that yes, she can write, and she tells her story well.  Some of her agony, from a too-heavy backpack (that she uses as a metaphor) and too-small hiking books, might have been avoided, if she had prepared better.  What we like in these narratives, what we are interested in, is the stripping down to essentials.  What will you eat, what will you wear, what will you encounter today?   Her grief about her mom is real, and she evokes that in an encounter with a fox.  She’s sitting and the fox comes close, unaware of her and suddenly seeing her, scenting her.  Scared and wanting to say something, she speaks to him gently and he looks and then leaves, and she calls him to come back and then finds herself calling out “Mom! Mom! Mom!”  You can see that that kind of loss is always there, just waiting to be triggered - by a look, by an awareness of life, just in front of you and yet beyond you.

There is no real resolution, no grand epiphany to be passed on.  Just the walking of the trail, just Cheryl centering herself through the trek.  And although nothing special happens, maybe something does, something I can't put my finger on.  She does get her life back.