Thursday, October 18, 2012

YouTube Book Reviews

I was searching through YouTube for fun videos when I ran across an individual who had done a "video book review" of the top eleven books that she had read in 2011. Then I noticed how many other people had created similar videos. There are also many people all over the world who record individual book reviews of the books they are reading as weekly posts on their account. I thought that this could be fun. My challenge next week, while I am on my vacation, is to complete a book review, like these, on video. I am not good with attention being brought to myself in this fashion, but I am going to give it a try. I will post it to YouTube and add a link to the blog. I hope that you will give it a try and let me know what you think. I am going to provide a link or two of others who have already created some reviews on YouTube. Let me know what you think of these, too. If you want to try doing one of these yourself, let me know. I can post a link to your reviews.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Cello Suites by Eric Siblin

Just as Johann Sebastian Bach managed to pack entire worlds into his six Cello Suites, author Eric Siblin does the same in his book devoted to Bach's classic work. In Siblin's The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals and the search for a Baroque Masterpiece (787.41858 SIBLIN), Siblin follows in engaging, readable fashion the two men responsible for bringing the suite to the masses: its storied composer and the preeminent performer who brought it to the masses.

Bach wrote the Cello Suites sometime in the early 1700s but it wasn't until the fateful day Catalan cellist Pablo Casals, then only a boy, discovered the sheet music in a 1890 that the piece truly began its foray into popular culture. During the nearly two centuries in between, the suites were regarded as nothing more than a collection of exercises. Casals, who attained rock star status (for a classical musician) as a solo cellist, changed all that.

Siblin weaves history, culture, politics and even a bit of mystery — the original manuscript has never been found — into the story behind the Cello Suites.
It was in the small German town of Cöthen in 1720 that the Cello Suites were said to have been composed and inscribed by Bach's raven-quill pen. But without his original manuscript, how can we be certain? Why was such monumental music written for the cello, a lowly instrument usually relegated to background droning in Bach's time? And given that Bach regularly rewrote his music for different instruments, how can we even be sure that the music was written for the cello?
If every there were such a thing as a classical music adventure, Siblin takes us on one. In his quest to ferret out the secrets of the Cello Suites, the former pop music critic for The Montreal Gazette becomes "a card-carrying member of the American Bach Society." He attends a scholarly conference at Princeton devoted to the Baroque composer. He attempts to learn cello. He journeys to Europe to interview musicians, visit archives, attend performances of the Cello Suites and retrace Bach and Casals' footsteps.

We are left with a much more complete sense of the suites' colorful history and the way it has almost serendipitously found a life of its own in the 21st century.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall into Reading

These are some books that people are excited to read this fall. Check one out and see if they live up to the hype!

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
Coming Soon...

For more than thirty years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together in the suburbs of Chicago. Now things are splintering apart. The big reason seems to be Edie's size. She's obsessed with food, and if she doesn't stop, she won't have much longer to live. When Richard abandons his wife, it is up to the next generation to take control. Robin, their schoolteacher daughter, wants her father to pay for leaving their mother. Benny just wants to smooth things over. And Rachelle is intent on saving her mother-in-law's life, but this task proves even harder than she expected. Through it all, they wonder: do Edie's choices rest on her shoulders alone, or are others at fault, too?

Telegraph Avenue: A Novel by Michael Chabon
FIC CHABON (on audio, too)

As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still longtime friends, bandmates, and co-regents of Brokeland Records, located in the borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, two midwives who have welcomed more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the world. When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode announces plans to build his latest Dogpile megastore on a nearby stretch of Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. Meanwhile, Aviva and Gwen also find themselves caught up in a battle for their professional existence, one that tests the limits of their friendship. Adding another layer of complication to the couples' already tangled lives is the surprise appearance of Titus Joyner, the teenage son Archy has never acknowledged and the love of fifteen-year-old Julius Jaffe's life.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin
Coming soon...

In a continuation of the story started in The Passage, the group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War. To do this, they must infiltrate a dozen hives, each presided over by one of the original Twelve. Their secret weapon: Alicia, transformed at the end of book one into a half human, half viral—but whose side, in the end, is she really on?

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness--and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.

Winter of the World by Ken Follett
FIC FOLLETT    (on audio, too)

In this second book in the Century Trilogy, the five interrelated families enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as their experiences illuminate the cataclysms that marked the century. From the drawing rooms of the rich to the blood and smoke of battle, their lives intertwine, propelling the reader into dramas of ever-increasing complexity.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
FIC ROWLING (also in Large Print and audio)

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie

On February 14, 1989, Salman Rushdie received a telephone call from a BBC journalist who told the author that he had been “sentenced to death” by the Ayatollah Khomeini. His crime? To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being “against Islam, the Prophet, and the Quran.” So begins the extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team. Rushdie was asked to choose an alias that the police could call him by. He thought of writers he loved and various combinations of their names. Then it came to him: Conrad and Chekhov—Joseph Anton. How do a writer and his family live with the threat of murder for more than nine years? In this memoir, Rushdie tells the story of the crucial battle for freedom of speech.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
B SCHWALBE (also in audio)

“What are you reading?” That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less. This is the true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Coming soon...

 The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on.

Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream by Neil Young
782.42166092 YOUNG

For the first time, legendary singer, songwriter, and guitarist Neil Young offers a kaleidoscopic view of his personal life and musical creativity. He tells of his childhood in Ontario; his first brush with mortality; struggling to pay rent during his early days with the Squires; traveling the Canadian prairies; leaving Canada on a whim in 1966 to pursue his musical dreams in Los Angeles; the brief but influential life of Buffalo Springfield. He recounts their rapid rise to fame and ultimate break-up; going solo and overcoming his fear of singing alone; forming Crazy Horse and writing “Cinnamon Girl,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and “Down by the River"; joining Crosby, Stills & Nash, recording the landmark CSNY album, Déjà vu, and writing the song, “Ohio;” falling in love with his wife, Pegi, and the birth of his three children; and finally, finding the contemplative paradise of Hawaii.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bel Ria by Sheila Burnford

Sheila Burnford is most known for an earlier book she wrote, The Incredible Journey.  That book is in the children’s section of the library, although Burnford did not write it as a children’s book.  Bel Ria, published 16 years after The Incredible Journey, is similar to Journey in that its chief character is an animal.  Interestingly enough, we observe the dog (who ends up with the name Bel Ria) and the other animals in the story without any inside information.  That is, we see their behavior, but can only guess at what they are thinking and feeling.  This is no mean feat for a writer, as the story is about Bel Ria’s connections with and loyalty to the people she meets within the tortured landscape of World War II.   But just as many can “read” animals without speech, so can Burnford, and she passes that knowledge on to us, her readers.  

Interestingly enough, The Incredible Journey was first made into a movie in 1963, and was true to the book in that we just “watched” the animals on their journey.  When the movie was remade thirty years later, Disney decided to give the animals human voices.  Needless to say, no purist’s dissent was heard,  and the movie did very well—even generating a sequel a few years later.  Nowadays the publishing world is full of either books with animals that narrate their stories to us directly, or with a person who speaks for the animal, letting us know their innermost thoughts.  

Keeping this trend in mind, Bel Ria is fully refreshing in that we aren’t given answers about the animals’ behaviors, just explanation and background about the humans in the story.  Not knowing Bel Ria’s inner life builds the mystery of the story, for us and for the people who grow to love this dog with a hidden past.  

Bel Ria was first a performing dog travelling with Gypsies in France, where a British soldier retreating before the Germans encounters their band.  He helps them with a broken axle and they in turn hide him for a day and a half from a German patrol. After their parting, he learns the Gypsies died from bombing and the dog comes after him, as its only link with its former masters.  He doesn’t want it, but it can’t be driven away, managing to even sneak onto the transport ship taking the soldier back to England.  One event follows another, and suffice it to say that a bond is forged with the animal, not a sentimental one but one recognizing the dog’s courage and gifts, and its loyalty.  The dog passes to other humans through further disasters of war and the disruptions in communication and connection that these disasters left in their wake.  

Bel Ria, as the dog is finally known, is worth reading about because he gives that connection back.  He does this by giving his loyalty to those people who just happen to be in his way—either chosen by others or by himself.  But there’s something or someone he’s waiting for, and there are intimations about this throughout the book.  Just from his manner, just from the dog’s time spent watching and gazing far off.  It’s a tribute to Sheila Burnford’s writing that this anticipation is finally fulfilled.  What man and time has torn asunder, is made up in Bel Ria’s life—to find again what he was to his first mistress, and what he was with her.  Somehow, life mends itself, with caring and duty done along the way—to a stray dog, to men struggling in oil-infested waters, to an old woman trapped under a bombed outbuilding.

Horror Fiction

Looking for some books to get your heart pumping with fear? The front display for the beginning of the month is "Dare You to Read These!" There is also a bibliography of Horror Fiction to be found on those shelves and online on the "Book Lists for Adults." Don't say we didn't warn you and enjoy!

Something Wicked This Way Comes also on audio and DVD
Ray Bradbury

The Dark Carnival is coming to town and two boys sneak out to see its arrival. Once the carnival is set up, though, the boys see that there are evils lurking in the carnival.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Max Brooks

After the Zombie War is over, Max Brooks goes around the world talking to people about their experiences during the war and with the undead.

The Passage Series
Justin Cronin

The Passage    also in Large Print
The Twelve coming soon

A failed experiment to create a super-soldier releases a virus that creates "vampiric revenants" that wipe out most of the population. The Colony is set up to protect the remaining people, but the defenses will soon fail. Then a girl is found outside the colony that could be the hope of saving what is left of mankind.

House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski

A family moves into a house, but they never noticed that the house was bigger on the inside than the outside, until it was too late. The couples children disappear into the house, and a creature is in there searching.

James Asher Series
Barbara Hambly

Those Who Hunt the Night
Traveling With the Dead
Blood Maidens
Magistrates of Hell 

James Asher, a professor of psychology at Oxford (and an former spy of His Majesty's Secret Service), and his wife, a doctor of medicine, are forced to look into a series of vampire serial killings. The vampire who coercises the couple, Don Simon Ysidro, continues to use the threat to keep Jay in his service. The two (Asher and Ysidro) continue their adventures as partners leading into World War I.

Hannibal Lecter Series
Thomas Harris

Red Dragon
The Silence of the Lambs also on DVD
Hannibal Rising also on audio and DVD

(Red Dragon) Profiler Will Graham must turn to the serial killer (Hannibal Lecter) he fought so hard to capture, in order to get some help with catching another serial killer. (Silence of the Lambs) Clarice Starling (a trainee in the FBI Academy) is asked by the chief of the Behavioral Science section to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter on his insight about a killer known as Buffalo Bill. (Hannibal) Seven years after Silence of the Lambs, Clarice is still looking for Hannibal Lecter, but is she the only one? (Hannibal Rising) This is Hannibal's story of his childhood and what led him to become the monster that he is in the earlier stories.

The Woman in Black also on audio and DVD

Susan Hill


Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor, has come north to settle the estate of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. What he doesn't count on is the weird things that start happening in the house, or the woman in black that he keeps seeing.

Stephen King
Pet Sematary also on DVD
The Shining also on audio and DVD

Stephen King is known for his horror stories, and I am just going to go over a few. (It) Seven people made a promise twenty-eight years ago after battling an evil creature to save the children of the city. The seven agreed that they would come back to fight it again, if it ever came back. Now, children are being murdered again. Will the seven be able to stop it again? (If you are not already scared of clowns, this might be what does it). (Pet Sematary) The Creeds move into a beautiful house in rural Maine, not knowing the secret of the nearby woods (or what people would do to hold on to the ones they love). (The Shining) The inspiration for this book was King's stay at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Danny's family is going to stay and take care of the hotel while it is closed for the winter (and so his father can write), but as the snow starts to close the family off from the outside, what will protect them from what is inside the hotel?

Vampire Earth Series
E.E. Knight

The Way of the Wolf
Choice of the Cat
Tale of the Thunderbolt
Valentine’s Rising
Valentine’s Exile
Valentine’s Resolve
Fall of Honor
Winter Duty
March in Country also on audio

The Reapers (the vampiric Kurians) have come to Earth and have established a New Order (for over forty years), in order to harvest the souls of humans. Lieutenant David Valentine, however, is on a mission to take back Earth as part of the Resistance.

Odd Thomas Series
Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas   also in Large Print and audio
Forever Odd    also in Large Print and audio
Brother Odd   also in Large Print and audio
Odd Hours   also in Large Print and audio
Odd Apocalypse    also in Large Print and audio

Graphic Novels:
In Odd We Trust
Odd is On Our Side
House of Odd 

Odd Thomas can see the dead, but they cannot talk to him. Usually, he can use what they show him to help solve a crime or prevent one. Does this ability mean that Odd is in for some up and down times with plenty of scares? Very much so.

Tim Lebbon

Tom Roberts was told that his son died during a science experiment, but he never got to see the body. Then he overhears a conversation about "monsters" being kept at the base. Tom wants the truth about his son's death, and he is willing to do as much digging (literally in this case) as it takes.

H.P. Lovecraft

At the Mountains of Madness
The Dunwich Horror and Others
The Watchers Out of Time   (under SF LOVECRAF)

The Lovecraft Anthology, Volume 1: A Graphic Collection of H.P. Lovecraft’s Short Stories

Richard Matheson
I Am Legend also on audio and DVD

Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth. Everyone else has become a vampire, and they are all out for blood. During the day, he goes hunting the vampires. At night, he barricades himself inside, and he hopes that they won't find a way in. Just how long can he last like this?

The Flame Alphabet
Ben Marcus

A new epidemic has struck, where the voices of children are lethal to adults. Adults all over are abandoning their children and going into hiding. Sam and Claire's daughter, Esther, thinks this is funny, but it won't be very long until she is an adult and susceptible. Sam and Claire still find it very hard to leave the daughter they love, though, and Sam is determined to find a cure.

Edgar Allan Poe

The Cask of Amontillado
The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror
Robert Louis Stevens

Peter Straub

Ghost Story
Mr. X
A Special Place: The Heart of a Dark Matter

Peter Straub is another voice of horror, and I am also going to go over just a few of his works. (Ghost Story) An act that was carried out when they were young has come back to "haunt" four older men, and they will find that you really can't get away with murder. (Mr. X) Every year on his birthday, Ned Dunstan has a seizure. During the seizure, he witnesses Mr. X carry out a slaughter. Ned's birthday is coming up soon... (A Special Place) Keith Hayward is drawn to a fascination with taking a life. Keith's Uncle Till sees this in his nephew, and he decides to become his nephew's tutor on not getting caught.

The Strain Trilogy
Guillermo del Toro

The Strain also on audio
The Fall
The Night Eternal   also in Large Print and audio

An airplane lands at JFK with no communication, the windows are all covered, and the lights are out. The CDC is called in, and what Dr. Ephraim "Eph" Goodweather finds disturbs him. There is a vampiric virus spreading through the streets that must be stopped. Will they be able to stop it, or will it keep spreading over the whole world?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Books Week 2012: Set Books Free

Banned Books Week is the last week in September and is set aside to remind people of the importance of the freedom to choose books. It highlights books that have been removed from schools, libraries, or attempted to be removed through censorship.
This year Banned Books Week runs from September 30th through October 6th.  We’re celebrating by having our Teen Advisory Board (TAB) design and make a display of books that have been banned elsewhere.   Our theme this year is  Set Books Free.  This year, the TAB designed a prison display that patrons can ‘free’ banned books from.  It’s up to everyone to keep books from being locked away.  Do your part by checking out a book that has been banned or challenged in the past.   

For a list of frequently challenged books ask for our bibliography from at the Reference Desk or go to: 

Below is a list of classics that have been challenged, banned, and even burned. 
Banned and Challenged Classics
CHALLENGED: repeatedly challenged in
schools and libraries
BANNED: made illegal to sell or removed
from public view in schools or libraries at
one point somewhere in America or by
other Governments
BURNED: literally burned by groups or
Holy Bible, Torah, Koran BANNED, BURNED

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess FIC BURGESS BANNED, CHALLENGED

Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs FIC BURROUGH BANNED, CHALLENGED


An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser FIC DREISER BANNED, BURNED, CHALLENGED


The Lord of the Flies, William Golding FIC GOLDING CHALLENGED


Brave New World, Aldous Huxley FIC HUXLEY BANNED, CHALLENGED


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey FIC KESEY BANNED, CHALLENGED

 A Separate Peace, John Knowles FIC KNOWLES CHALLENGED


To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee FIC LEE CHALLENGED

The Naked and the Dead, Norman MailerFIC MAILER BANNED, CHALLENGED

Tropic of Cancer, Henry MillerFIC MILLER BANNED, CHALLENGED

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell FIC MITCHELL CHALLENGED

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov FIC NABOKOV BANNED

The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger FIC SALINGER CHALLENGED


Sophie's Choice, William Styron FIC STYRON CHALLENGED


The Color Purple, Alice Walker FIC WALKER CHALLENGED