March 2009 Archives

Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble

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Elizabeth Noble, bestselling author of The Reading Group brings us a new novel; Things I Want My Daughters to Know. Book clubs won’t want to miss this one. Barbara Forbes, mother of four girls, is diagnosed with cancer. She writes letters to each of her daughters so they will better understand her life and hopefully their own.

Here are some questions to get you thinking:

1. What would you say in a letter to your daughter? What advice would you give?
2. What does each character learn about herself and what do they learn from Barbara?
3. What is the best advice your mother gave to you or what do you wish she'd told you?

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

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Published in 1919, Winesburg, Ohio is a collection of 22 short stories, each based on the life of residents in this fictional town. Many of the stories seem to focus on the loneliness, frustration and failure of townspeople. For instance, “Hands” tells how a resident was run out of his Pennsylvania hometown. In “Mother,” we witness the emotional desolation of the owner of the ramshackle and rundown hotel in Winesburg, who imagines her grownup George as he was as a boy. Though the overall feeling of Winesburg, Ohio is lonesome and withdrawn, the superior writing and language make this “novel” a seminal work in American Literature. Highly recommended.

Check catalog availability

Submitted by Dan@Central

What I Did For Love

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What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Phillips writes a fun story about the entertainment industry. I found reading this novel much like reading People Magazine, a guilty and secret pleasure. Georgie York and Bram Shepard, two actors who share a long and volatile history together, despise each other through and through. Despite their best efforts to live seprate lives they keep crashing together. It's difficult to feel sorry for these two characters whose problems are deciding where to eat, what to wear, and which film to star in next. However, readers who are interested in Hollywood drama will be curious to see if Georgie and Bram can redeem themselves and how their story ends. Check catalog for availability.


Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run

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Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run by Alton Brown (c2008)

In 2007, Alton Brown (of Food Network fame) embarked on a motorcycle journey that ran the entire length of the Mississippi River. Beginning at the Gulf of Mexico and ending in Minnesota, this combination travel diary/photo journal/cookbook wonderfully documents his stops along the way. Especially those that involved eating. Recipes are presented for the best of the authentic regional roadside fare that he encountered, including one for koolickles (aka Kool-Aid pickles). Both fun to read and to look at, this is definitely a refreshing change of pace from the typical cookbook format. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

Where There's Smoke by Terra Little

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Anne, a single recovering mom, has been free of drugs and alcohol for nearly twenty years. However, she finds out that her sixteen year old son, Isaiah, is starting to experiment with drugs. She doesn’t want to see him fall into the same traps that she did so she contacts his father to take on the challenge of turning him around before it’s too late.

This urban fiction novel is better written than others that I’ve read and the characters really appealed to me too. The mom is so determined, the son starting to spiral down a dangerous slope, the father has learned from his past mistakes…it all adds up to a story of how love, and especially family, can overcome the negative influences so prevalent in street life. Check catalog for availability.

Jacki@Central

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Both of these books were lovingly written by the brother/sister tandem of Frank Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey about growing up with their 10 other siblings and their unique parents in Montclair, New Jersey during the early 20th century. Their father, Frank Gilbreth Sr., was a time study and efficiency expert who thought he could run his family like he ran a factory. Their mother Lillian, who would later become one of the first PhD holding female engineers, was a happy participant in her husband's time study experiments upon their family until it involved disciplining their twelve kids! The results will bring some solid belly-laughs and maybe a tender tear or two.

Cheaper by the Dozen was published in 1948 and has been adapted to film in 1950. Cheaper by the Dozen starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy.

The 2003 and 2005 movies, Cheaper by the Dozen and Cheaper by the Dozen 2 starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt have no resemblance to the book besides the fact that their family has 12 children.

Belles on Their Toes was published in 1950 and continues the story of the Gilbreth family. Mother Lillian, forced to lead the family after the death of her husband Frank Sr., bravely takes over the time study business he started. We follow the Gilbreth clan confronting crises after crises with smiles and wit that will warm your heart. From an outbreak of chicken pox to unwanted boyfriends, the Gilbreth's tackle the hardest of times with family strength that is enlightening and endearing.
Belles on their Toes availability.

Submitted by Dan @ Central


The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb

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The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb

Lamb creates a witty, intelligent and impulsive main character - Jeanne Stewart - whose blunt retorts and actions race almost as fast as her lightning speed thoughts. This behavior lands her in a court ordered anger management class (and a precarious law suit). For one class assignment Jeanne decides to free herself from her anger by running naked at night along a river in her new home town. This, like many of Jeanne's actions, puts her in an intense predicament when she runs full steam into a man standing by the river. Jeanne immediately thinks, "What's the etiquette in this situation? I could see Emily Post: After running naked along a river and knocking over a strange man, make sure that you sincerely thank him for his time and efforts while politely shaking his hand. Send a note of appreciation in the mail the next day expressing your gratitude."

Lamb writes an intriguing story with an abundance of colorful and unpredictable characters which I came to care for, including "Naked Run Man." I swiftly read to the very end of the book to see what happened to Jeanne, her law suit, and the other people in her life. Check catalog for availability.


Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

Spade & Archer by Joe Gores

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Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon by Joe Gores

Spade and Archer offers up a slice of pure gumshoe nostalgia for fans of Dashiell Hammett's super sleuth Sam Spade and for fans of classic Noir in general. Gores emulates the writings of Hammett by flatteringly copying the style and characters of one of pulp fiction's greatest writers. This story of Sam Spade's investigations prior to his greatest caper is told through three intertwined episodes that pay homage to all things Spadeian! Many of the main characters from the Maltese Falcon are all here in perfect homage. Though not a great novel in and of itself, this blast of nostalgia was fun and familiar, like seeing old friends at a high school reunion. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

March Thrills

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A Darker Domain by Val McDermid
Cold Case Review Team Inspector Karen Pirie finds remarkable new evidence linking the cases of a missing strikebreaker and a kidnapping gone awry—more than 20 years after the national miners’ strike in Scotland. Check catalog for availability.

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Drood by Dan Simmons
The final years of Charles Dickens life inspire this tale. Dickens life is forever altered during a violent train trip with his mistress that begins a fixation with the London underworld as observed by his adversary, Wilkie Collins. Check catalog for availability.

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

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Often we hear expecting parents say they just want their baby to be healthy. Whether it’s a boy or girl is irrelevant, etc. The O’Keefe’s wished for a healthy child too, but weren’t given that choice. Willow, their youngest daughter, was born with OI, osteogenesis imperfecta, a hereditary disease characterized by abnormally brittle, easily fractured bones. This meant a lot of worrying, bills, and uncomfortable moments with ‘luckier’ parents and kids.

What if they had known earlier about the illness? What if Willow hadn’t been born? Life brings them to face these questions as they pursue a wrongful birth lawsuit against their OB/GYN, claiming she should have counseled, at the very least, the option of abortion. Many controversial aspects are discussed, while at the same time, a family with incredible burdens thrust upon them, finds a way to love and protect one another. Check catalog for availability.

Finnish Summer Houses

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Finnish Summer Houses by Jari & Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen (c2008)

Finland's climate and landscape share much in common with our own Wisconsin. And just like here, when winter finally gives way to warmer weather, many Finns retreat to their "up north" summer properties. This book showcases 20 such properties, each created by a different Finnish architect for his/her own personal use. Despite spanning 100 years of design and construction, the cottages depicted are all more alike than different, especially in their sensititivety to their idyllic wooded surroundings. Achingly beautiful, each turn of the page had me yearning for spring and a retreat of my own. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

The Women by T.C. Boyle

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In 1932 Tadashi Sato, a Japanese apprentice, comes to Taliesin to work for Frank Lloyd Wright. For nine years he stays and living in Spring Green, Wisconsin he sees Wrights’ many moods and experiences his ego. Yet, he regards him as a genius and influence.

But this story is not so much about Wright as it is the women in his life. Like him, they are passionate, spontaneous and determined. His first wife, Kitty is so devoted to Wright she believes he’ll return to her even though his affection is clearly now given to Mamah Cheney, an early feminist who is brutally murdered at Taliesin. His second wife, Maud, quite a complex character, is a morphine addict with a mean jealous streak. His last love and third wife, Olgivanna pretends to be Wright’s housekeeper while pregnant with his out-of-wedlock child.

If this isn’t enough to intrigue you, there are two fires which burn Taliesin to the ground, significant financial troubles, a gang of reporters and an abundance of legal issues. Check catalog for availability.

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