Monday, December 30, 2013

Some Great Literary Catchphrases

Flavorwire published an article online last week called The Greatest Literary Catchphrases by Alison Nastasi. One of these phrases is even appropriate to this time of year, if you are lacking in holiday spirit. There are some phrases that are well known, but there were a few where I knew the saying but had no idea where the phrase came from. See how many you know, and check out the article by clicking on the title above. As always, happy reading!!

1. "Bah! Humbug!"- Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens                   FIC DICKENS

Where would those individuals who lack Christmas spirit be without this particular phrase to voice? 

2. "Old sport."- Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald             FIC FITZGERA

You have probably been called this or heard someone being called this before. Though I don't think that F. Scott Fitzgerald intended for his phrase to be used sarcastically, as it so often is now. 

3. "Big brother is watching you." - from 1984 by George Orwell        FIC ORWELL

Whether you know this phrase from its meaning in the book, or you just know it by the name of the reality television show, most everyone is aware of this issue.

4. "The old ultra-violence." - from A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess   FIC BURGESS

This is one that I had never heard before, but apparently the characters work "ultra-violence" on every unsuspecting character that they come into contact with.

5. "So it goes." - from Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut          FIC VONNEGUT

This deep and meaningful (and fatalistic) phrase is used over 100 times in the novel. Things will happen in the way that they have happened and will continue to happen, as "so it goes." 

6. "Constant vigilance!" - Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling    J FIC ROWLING

I personally have not heard many people saying this out loud, unless it has been in reference to Dumbledore, but he does have a point. Even though most of us aren't dealing with Death Dealers or "He who must not be named," it is useful to always be aware of what goes on around you.  

7. "All that glitters is not gold." - from The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare       822.33 SHAKESPE

Of course, this is just one of the many phrases of wisdom that come from the playwright and are constantly used, but it is a good one to think about.  

8. "Can't live with them, or without them." - from Lysistrata by Aristophanes      882.01 ARISTOPH

Of course, Aristophanes was speaking of women.     I am sure that everyone has heard this phrase used in this context, at least once in their lives (whether they are referring to men, women, children, dogs...).

9. "Catch-22" - from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I am sure that most everyone has been in a "Catch-22" at least once in their lives. It is a little bit worse than being "stuck between a rock and a hard place," as usually neither choice you make will turn out to be good (at all). 

10. "Begin at the beginning." - from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll                                    J FIC CARROLL

A very simple but deep phrase from the King of Hearts, followed by "and go on till you come to the end: then stop." 

11. "The Horror! The Horror!" - from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad         FIC CONRAD 

I have heard this phrase many times, and I had no idea where it came from. Even though Conrad used this phrase during a most dramatic death scene, most people now seem to use the phrase more sarcastically, though. 

12. "Ships that pass in the night." - from the poem The Theologian's Tale: Elizabeth from Tales of a Wayside Inn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 811.3 LONGFELL

Another saying that I have heard over and over and did not know the reference to. How many times in dramatic romances have we heard about these ships. Where would all of those characters be without Longfellow?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon SF SHANNON

The year is 2059, and 19-year-old Paige Mahoney lives in Scion London. In an alternate reality, Jack the Ripper was rumored to be Edward VII, who Scion believes brought the "curse" of clairvoyance to the world, through his misdeeds. In Scion England, it is illegal to use any kind of clairvoyance (accessing the ӕther), even though there are many different kinds of "voyants" to be found (there is a chart at the beginning of the book), and it is considered treason for voyants to use their abilities for financial gain. Scion puts offending voyants in the Tower, and many are eventually executed (or so society believes). 

 Paige is a special kind of voyant, a "dreamwalker," whose spirit can leave her body and invade the minds' of others. Her ability forces her to work in the criminal underground of voyants, within the syndicate system (a surprisingly well organized system) for the mime-lord, Jaxon. She uses her ability as "surveillance" on any activity in the ӕther that is going on in Jax's section. 

On a trip home to visit her father, Paige's train is checked, and she is forced to use her ability in a way she never has before, which leaves a man dead. She is not caught immediately, but during the night at her father's apartment, men in red shirts (not the Scion's) burst into her father's apartment looking for her. She tries to get away, but they manage to catch her. When Paige wakes up, she finds that she was not taken to the Tower, as she thought she would be. Paige, along with thirty-nine other voyants and amaurotics (non-voyants), has been brought to Sheol I (the "lost" city of Oxford) by the Rephaim, an alien race from the Netherworld.

The Rephaim are working with Scion, with the ultimate goal of ruling Earth. The Rephaim need voyants (the red-jackets), supplied by Scion, to help them protect humans from the Emim, another more bestial groups of aliens that, the Rephaim claim, wants to feed on humans. The group Paige is in is part of the Twentieth Bone Season, a period that only comes once every ten years and exists to add to the number of the red-jackets. There are two tests to become part of the red-jackets, though. The first is tied to the person's ability. The second is a fight with an Emim. Failure in either task leads to becoming a performer, one that provides entertainment for the others and is looked down upon by all. 

Each member of the group is assigned a keeper (one of the Rephaim), who train their voyants and take "care" of them. Paige is the only one taken in by the Warden, a really strong Rephaite who seems to have secret motives of his own. As Paige, named XX-59-40 by the Raphaim, learns more and more about her new situation and the Rephaim, the more she wonders if the situation is as clear as the Rephaim, especially one of their leaders, Nashira, would have her believe. She also knows that she needs to get out of Sheol I, for the sake of her life and the protection of her syndicate. One attempt at rebellion, twenty years ago, ended in failure, but failure is not an option for Paige. 

The Bone Season was one of the titles that I had put in the Popular Reads for the Fall Season blog post, as it has been highly anticipated on many of the popular fall reading lists. I was intrigued by all of the genre-blending that Shannon seems to be using in the story. There are elements of a dystopia: Scion is not the salvation from clairvoyance that the amaurotics believe it is; science fiction: a future setting with advanced technology and social issues; fantasy: paranormal elements and two groups of aliens that did not come from the stars but another dimension, and there is also some romance and action mixed in there, too. With so much genre-blending, though, you really have to pay extra attention to the first few chapters. Shannon throws a lot of terminology and world building that will be important to the plot later on in the book. It was a story that very easily sucked me in, and even though there were a few issues that I had with some of the elements of the story, I look forward to reading the next book in the series.     


Saturday, December 14, 2013


I know we are in the "most wonderful time of the year," according to some, but everyone still needs a good cry every now and again. Here are some great stories to help you with all of your crying needs.  

Just a warning, though, you may want to have a box of tissues close by while enjoying these stories. 

P. S., I Love You by Cecilia Ahern         FIC AHERN

Holly never believed that she could live without her husband, Gerry, having known him since high school and considering him the other half of herself. Then Gerry succumbs to a terminal illness, and Holly doesn't have a choice. They had both joked about his making a "list" for her of things to do if she lost him, but soon after his death, Holly finds out from her family that Gerry created the list, in the form of letters, in order to keep her occupied during the first year after his death and to help her move on. As everyone would imagine, it is a very hard process, but with the support of the letters and the craziness of her friends and family, Holly finds the strength to continue on. 

Note: Unlike the movie, the main characters are in Ireland (and are Irish). The movie is located under DVD PS.   

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards         FIC EDWARDS

On a terrible winter's night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced, by a blizzard, to deliver his own twins. His son comes out just fine, but he discovers that his daughter is born with Down's Syndrome. Deciding that he needs to protect his wife from this development, the doctor decides to tell her that the baby died. He gives the little girl to his nurse, Caroline, to take to an institution. Caroline, however, falls in love with the little girl and decides to become her mother, leaving town to hide the secret. Neither the doctor or nurse know just how much their decisions will impact the lives of everyone around them. 

Note: This book was also made into a Lifetime Movie, located under DVD MEMORY.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green                               YP FIC GREEN

Hazel knows that her lungs don't work right and that her thyroid cancer is terminal. Then she meets Augustus Waters during a Cancer Kid Support Group meeting. Augustus is in remission, but he is very taken with Hazel and completely determined to ignore her attempts to "save" him from her death. Can they both deal with a relationship that has an expiration date?

Note: This book is also in audio format under YP AD FIC GREEN, and we have it in e-book format.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston               FIC HURSTON

Janie Crawford has been told how to live her life by so many people and never gets to make choices for herself. Returning home to Eatonville, Florida, after having run away from it two years earlier with a love affair, she tells her life's story to best friend, Pheoby. It is a look into the life of an independently minded woman having to make some hard choices (or have them made for her) during the 1930s and 40s, dealing with poverty, abuse, and even a hurricane. 

Note: This book is also available in audio under AD FIC HURSTON and in video under DVD THEIR.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer             B MCCANDLE

In April of 1992, Christopher Johnson McCandless decided to give his savings (of over $20,000) to charity, get rid of most of his other possessions, and travel (by walking and hitchhiking) up to the wilderness a little north of Mt. McKinley in Alaska. He was seeking a knew life and a new way of thinking. Unfortunately, what he utimately found up there in the wilderness was his death.  Jon Krakauer, a contributing editor to Outside and Men's Journal, retraces McCandless' steps on his journey, and by looking at his diary, letters, and some notes that McCandless left behind, he seeks to solve the mystery that was McCandless' goals and, ultimately, his demise.

Note: This book is also available in audio under AD B MCCANDLE and in video under DVD INTO.

Atonement by Ian McEwan                  FIC MCEWAN

It is summer of 1934, and an 13-year-old girl, Briony, witnesses a completely innocent act by her sister, Celcilia and a servant's son, Robbie. When a great act of violence is committed, Briony blows everything out of proportion, accussing Robbie of the crime, and in doing so, instigates a great wrong against two people who mean a lot to her. Unfortunately, her choices also lead to great suffering by these two, and her need for "atonement" from them both.

Note: This book is also available in large print LP FIC MCEWAN, and we also have the movie under DVD ATONEMEN.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow            

There are many professors who give their "last lectures" to their classes, wanting to impart some final wisdom to their students before moving on, but for Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, learning that he had terminal cancer meant that it really would be his last lecture. So he wrote his last lecture on "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," intending to inspire his students, and many others, to live their lives to the fullest and make sure to help further the dreams of others.  

Note: This is also available in audio under AD B PAUSCH.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque            FIC REMARQUE

Paul Baümer is just 19 years old when he and his fellow classmates enlist in the German army at the beginning  of World War I, but no one expects the carnage and suffering that will take place in the trenches.  As the war drags on, many of these young soldiers wonder whether they can survive the conflict, and if they do they, whether they will ever be the same again.

Note: This is also a movie under DVD ALL

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein


Enzo knows that he is not like other dogs and does not seem to think in the same ways that they do. Hoping that he will be human in his next life, he decides to educate himself about humans by watching television and listening to his owner, race car driver, Denny Swift. 

Note: This book is also available in e-book format.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker   FIC WALKER

Celie pours out her feelings into a series of letters (to God and her sister) about the abuse (sexual, physical, and verbal) that she suffers at the hands of the men in her life (her father and her husband), her separation from the sister she tried so hard to protect, and many other hardships. These "letters" are the only ones that hear her thoughts and feelings, as she tries to show that she is a person and deserves to be heard. 

Note: This is also available as a movie under DVD COLOR 

You can find more tearjerkers here on the bibliography. There are some copies of the bibliography available to take with you next to the catalog computers. Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Not without my daughter" by Betty Mahmoody with William Hoffer

Betty Mahmoody was married to an Iranian doctor who was practicing medicine in the United States. They went to visit his family in Tehran, Iran in 1984, just six years after the Shah of Iran had been overthrown by revolution and Iran had become an Islamic theocracy, with an Islamic cleric at its head who oversees the President and Parliament to ensure that the government is operating in accordance with Islamic law. 

Toward the end of their two week visit, Betty’s husband Sayyed informed her they would be staying in Iran.  The rest of the book chronicles Betty’s resistance to this decision and her struggle to find a way to leave Iran with her daughter, Mahtob, who was four years old at the time.

The book did well in this country but sold particularly well in Europe, where cross-cultural marriages are more common, and where conflicts regarding individual rights can surface.  Betty soon found out that under Islamic law, she was an Iranian citizen by marrying an Iranian, and her husband had control over her and their child. 

The book is fairly long but realistic, as over the 18 months before Betty and Mahtob’s escape, we see Betty trying different tactics and succumbing at times to depression, despair and even apathy.  Her husband keeps her a virtual prisoner, beats her and for a time even keeps her from being with her daughter.

A film was made of the book, which was criticized for being anti-Iranian.  You do see the culture from Betty’s eyes, and she finds some habits of Iranian housewives lacking in hygiene, although it is not clear that this is widespread.  She does find friends and helpers, both Iranian and foreign. 

Sayyed Mahmoody died in 2009, never seeing his daughter again, who refused any contact with him.  He documented his side of the story with a book and with a video made with Finnish journalists.  He denied that he had been abusive towards Betty and maintained that she had agreed to move to Iran, so that he, as a doctor, could give medical help during the Iran-Iraqi war. 

Betty Mahmoody has received a lot of thanks from abused women who found similarities in their situations to hers, although they were not in a foreign country as she was.  It’s a book to make you think about marriage and people’s expectations of marriage, regardless of what culture they live in.

The book is listed here in our catalog.