December 2008 Archives

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Bowling Across America: 50 States in Rented Shoes (2008) by Mike Walsh

27-year-old Mike Walsh, still reeling from the recent death of his father, quits his unfulfilling advertising job in Chicago, borrows his mom's car and hits the road on a modest quest to bowl in all 50 states. Along the way, he gets a smattering of press, a sponsorship from Miller High Life and a sampling of modern day bowling culture. Walsh serves up a hefty dose of self-depreciating humor in this romping travelogue and the randomness of his adventure makes for enjoyable light reading. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

Fairy Tales For Adults

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Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust follows the adventures of Tristran Thorn as he hunts down a fallen star to bring back to Victoria Forester, the woman he loves and wants to marry. The fallen star, however, has landed in the forbidden neighboring realms of Faerie. Witches, unicorns, flying pirate ships and other magical events do not phase Tristran, but do the reader. This novel comes in many formats - book, audio, graphic novel, illustrated novel and movie. The movie has been toned down to appeal to a wider audience, but Gaiman wrote the screenplay and therefore it remains true to the original story. This fairy tale is very entertaining and one I will most definitely read again. Check catalog for availability.


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The Frog Prince by Stephen Mitchell

Mitchell puts a serious and contemplative spin on the traditional frog prince fairy tale. Both the frog and princess have unexpected and engaging personalities. Their stubborn behaviors immediately put tension into the story making the reader wonder if the tale will end happily ever after. The conflict builds and keeps you reading up to a shocking ending. Check catalog for availability.

Ever since reading this tale I hunted for other authors who similarly put a spin on traditional fairy tales. One such book is right below.


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The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

I have enjoyed all of the Mercedes Lackey books I read thus far. The Fairy Godmother puts a twist on the traditional Cinderella tale. What happens when Cinderella and the Prince cannot marry because one of them is an infant? Or when the fairy godmother is ready to retire without an apprentice? These and other traditional tales are interwoven by Lackey to create a new and fantastic fairy tale for adults. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story by Richard Preston

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The history of haemorrhagic fevers caused by viruses like ebola and Marburg are described in this truly scary book. Originating in the jungles of Zaire (now The Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Sudan in the 1970's, ebola has become one of the most dreaded and deadly diseases known to man. According tp the World Health Organization, between 1976 and 2005 there have been 1871 confirmed cases of ebola with 1296 of those resulting in death because there is no known cure.
Preston painstakingly describes the effects this shocking disease has on the body and outlines how The Center For Disease Control (CDC) finally identified the horrible virus that was terrorizing entire villages in Africa.
Even more terrifying is a chapter that describes how an outbreak of a strain of the ebola virus hit a monkey storage facility in Reston, Virginia and the steps a secret military team took to contain the outbreak and prevent the disease from reaching nearby Washington D.C.
Well documented, well written and truly terrifying, this shocking true story is the scariest I've ever read.

Check catalog availability

This book was the inspiration for the 1995 Dustin Hoffman film titled Outbreak.

Submitted by Dan @ Central

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

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Daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, former wife of Paul Simon; you may already know quite a bit about this icon’s story. But this is an entertaining read, in particular the chapter about her family tree. It’s fascinating to see her lineage and the personalities involved. Her stories are amusing. She ingeniously relates the joys and complications of being Debbie Reynolds’s daughter.

The chapter about Carrie merging her own identity with that of Princess Leia was also hilarious. Actors understand that a line separates them from their characters, but Carrie doesn’t always seem to. This "mystification" makes for funnier stories! Check catalog for availability.


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I can has cheezburger? : a LOLcat collekshun Professor Happycat & icanhascheezburger.com by Eric Nakagawa, 2008

The website icanhascheezburger.com began in 2007 as the brainchild of Eric Nakagawa, a.k.a. “Cheezburger”. Nakagawa posted an image macro of a crazed looking grey cat with the caption, “I can has cheezburger?”, spawning an extremely popular blog and a new dialect based on internet slang (lolspeak). The blog also spun off into the LOLcat Bible Translation project, which translates the bible into lolspeak, and LOLCODE, a computer programming language. This book is a collection of the most popular and humorous LOLcats from the blog. This is definitely a book for animal lovers and pop culture junkies alike.

Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Melissa @ Central

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

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While The 19th Wife is a work of fiction, it is based on facts, as noted in the authors acknowledgments. Knowing very little about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I found this book fascinating. It starts with the story of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of the Brigham Young, Prophet of the Latter Day Saints. It’s the 1800's, and Ann Eliza’s family history if retraced until eventually we find her in a polygamous marriage. Not happy in this situation, she tolerates it until Brigham refuses to financially support her. Forced to take in Gentile boarders, she sees what life is like elsewhere. She divorces and goes on a speaking tour denouncing the Latter Day Saints and the practice of plural marriage.

Intertwined with this account is the story of a present day 19th wife, a member of the "Firsts," loosely based on The Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. BeckyLyn is accused of murdering her husband and jailed. Her son Jordan, who has been excommunicated from the church, reads about it in the newspaper and visits her. He is devastated to see her there and quite sure she is innocent, so he tries to find out what really happened. Check catalog for availability.


An Iliad by Alessandro Baricco

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An Iliad by Alessandro Baricco translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein, 2006.

After enjoying Baricco’s novel Silk, I wanted to see what another one of his titles would be like. I found another interesting read in An Iliad. This work is laid out as a collection of short stories, or episodes, told by different characters found in Homer’s Iliad. In the opening, Baricco's note explains to the reader the changes he has made in his retelling of the siege of Troy. He has the characters tell their own stories from their own point of view, a technique I really liked. He also adjusts the antiquated into more modern terms to help the stories flow in a more understandable manner for today’s readers. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Paula @ MPL Central

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Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron, with Bret Witter, 2008.

Dewey Readmore Books, or Dewey as he was known by all who loved him, was the library cat at the Spencer Public Library in the small town of Spencer, Iowa. He was found in the book return of the library one bitterly cold January morning. His paws were frostbitten and he was so dirty that the library staff was not even sure what color he was. Dewey was cleaned and cared for and instantly loved the library as much as the library loved him. But Dewey was so much more than a mascot for the library. People came from around the globe to visit Dewey. He was featured nationally in news reports and magazine articles. He also appeared in two documentaries (one of which was filmed for a Japanese audience). You do not have to be a cat lover to thoroughly enjoy this heartwarming tale of a small Midwestern town and their beloved Dewey.

Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Beth @ Central

Animal Farm by George Orwell

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Published in England in 1945 and in the U.S. in 1946, this poignant novel is believed by some scholars to be an allegorical portrayal of communism and the rise of Joseph Stalin in pre-World War II Russia. Though the interpretation of Orwell’s intent is debatable, the quality of his writing and imagination is evident.

Animal Farm, at face value, is a simple story of anthropomorphic barnyard animals that revolt against their human caretakers. The uprising is led by a pig named Napoleon who trains newly born puppies to be his “secret police.” Over time, Napoleon becomes a tyrant and the social injustice the uprising hoped to quell becomes worse than before the “revolution.”

This short and powerful story has been included in Time Magazine’s top 100 best English-language novels, the Modern Library List of Best 20th Century Novels and is routinely required reading in many high school and college literature courses. Though this book has gained many literary accolades, it’s still a fun read without becoming preachy or overly moralistic. Highly recommended.

Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

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Because I loved reading She's Come Undone and I Know This Much is True, I've been anxiously awaiting Lamb's new book since I read a review in July. The Hour I First Believed is partly about the Columbine shootings, but also much more. Real people from Columbine are intertwined with fictional characters which makes the reading interesting.

At first I thought I wasn’t ready to read about the shootings; it seemed like not enough time had passed, but I’m glad I stuck with it because the journey of Caelum and Maureen Quirk is astounding. Maureen witnesses the shootings first-hand and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. While reviewing the history of their families they discover so much about themselves and others. Few authors are capable of weaving so much together so seamlessly.

That said, it’s 700 some pages, and while I could have done without areas describing work on Caelum’s doctoral thesis, this was worth every moment. Check catalog for availability.


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Do Cats Hear With Their Feet?: Where Cats Come From, What We Know About Them, And What They Think About Us by Jake Page, 2008

This fascinating book explores not only the evolutionary path of the domestic house cat (felis catus), but also the historical significance of cats and the continued mysteries surrounding our feline friends. Page, the author of many books about the natural sciences, includes a detailed explanation of the evolution of the cat family as well as an account of recent findings that cats were domesticated before Ancient Egypt. Additionally, theories as to why cats may have come into contact with human settlements and the reason why cats have never been completely domesticated are explained. Page details the various mythologies surrounding cats from different cultures and random facts about cats. The colloquial tone makes this book easy for cat lovers to devour.

Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Melissa @ Central

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Ulysses: Departures, Journeys & Returns. The Artwork of Andrew Schoultz. (2007)

Andrew Schoultz (b. 1975) was born and raised in Milwaukee. A graduate of Pius XI High School with an affinity for skateboarding and graffiti he moved to San Francisco in 1997. Upon arrival he immersed himself in the Mission District's street mural scene and quickly made his mark. He later received a Fine Arts degree from SF's Academy of Art University and his work has since moved from the streets to galleries and museums worldwide.

This book highlights a ten year span of his prolific output - from his early loosely Dr. Seuss-ian sprawlings to his current obsessively-detailed epic battlescapes. While recurring images, symbols and themes have shifted and evolved along the way, Schoultz consistently delivers an eyeful and then some. Check catalog for availabilty.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

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Kim Larsen is 18 years old and just a month away from leaving for college. Like many small town kids, she is anxious to be part of the wider world and experience life on her own.

Then she disappears. No sign of her or her car. No one’s seen anything. So, this becomes a story of those who knew Kim, and how they deal with losing her. Some get organized, some head for the outdoors, some turn into themselves and some just stay away.

Mr. O’Nan’s skillful writing lets readers enmesh themselves into Kim’s world. I felt I could truly empathize with certain characters and hope I never know these feelings outside of a book. Girls disappear often and many times their fates remain unknown, this is a look at the torment and heartache suffered by those around the missing. Check catalog for availability.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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