September 2009 Archives

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

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On a calm August morning in Iowa, two families awake and find their little girls have disappeared overnight. Seven year old Calli Clark suffers from selective mutism as a result of tragedy as a toddler. Her mother, Antonia, tries to be the best mother she can, especially because her husband is mostly gone, and usually angry when around. But she's certain he's not involved in the possible abductions.

Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend and is often also her voice. But neither of them are being heard from now. Martin, Petra's father, is anxious to find his child and finds a side of himself he wasn't expecting. The two families are joined together as a result of what happened to their children and as they search for answers a number of unspoken family secrets are revealed. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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If you find The World Without Us thought provoking, then check out this book. Forbes reporter Christopher Steiner explores how higher oil prices could affect every aspect of American life, using sushi, UPS and Wal-Mart as examples. Each chapter, in $2 per gallon price hike increments, looks at how our economy, transportation, trade, food, housing, cities, suburbs, environment and military could change.

Check catalog availability

Submitted by Van Lingle Mungo @ MPL

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The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Kings & Queens of Britain by Charles Phillips, 2006

This non-fiction book is a fantastic resource for the history of the British monarchy. I found the information about each king and queen to be a wonderful companion and especially useful when reading historical fiction pertaining to England. I also enjoyed the images offered by this book. Check the catalog for availability.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

Graphic Memoirist - Jeffrey Brown

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From his self-published debut, Clumsy, to his latest work, Funny Misshapen Body, Chicago based Jeffrey Brown has been documenting his life in graphic novel form. Brown is not at all shy about revealing his sensitive side, putting forth extremely intimate details of his inadequacies, personal relationships, successes and failures. This same intimacy can make things borderline awkward to read at times - making one wonder if he should really be spilling his guts so completely. That said, his work is also full of warmth and humor and his quick and scruffy drawing style fits well with the narrative. Highly recommended, especially to those in their 20's and 30's. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

Slammerkin : A Novel by Emma Donoghue.

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Wow! I have never read a book quite like this one. Emma Donoghue creates one of the most fascinating and despicable main characters around. Don't mistake this for a typical historical fiction book. Although this story takes place in the mid 1700s, the characters and their devious actions are front and center. Mary Saunders longs for a better life, more possessions and a higher status in society. However, with each painful step she takes closer to the life of her dreams, she makes one disastrous decision after another to ruin her life and the lives of those around her. I couldn't stop reading this book. I kept hoping the main character would redeem herself or show some tiny sparkle of goodness. Alas, I am still waiting...

Check the catalog for availability.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

Fires on the Plain by Shohei Ooka

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Inspired by his own experiences as a Japanese soldier and prisoner of war during WWII, Fires on the Plain depicts the horror and hardship that a Japanese soldier named Tamura endures while fighting to survive during the battle for Leyte.
Tamura, banished from his unit for having TB, finds himself wandering through the Philippine jungle in search of the main force of his retreating army. Along the way, Tamura encounters many other stricken and unfortunate Japanese soldiers, some practicing cannibalism to avoid starvation. The crisp, detailed writing only enhances this story of hope, horror and perseverance. Brimming with religious imagery and moral dilemma, Fires on the Plain erupts into a climax of redemption.
This edition is translated from the original Japanese title Nobi.
I also recommend the excellent 1959 film adaptation.

Check catalog availability

Submitted by Dan@Central

Alibi by Teri Woods

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Two men plan to rob the stash house of Simon Shuller, one of Philadelphia's most notorious drug lords. But things go awry when one of Shuller's men catches them as they break in. Trouble continues to brew when they try to force Poncho, one of Shuller's workers, to show them where the goods are. But Poncho's partner is on the scene and armed, which leads to trouble. Only one man is left standing and he cleans up shop and makes a getaway, but not without being spotted by neighbors. Will the witnesses give up his identity? He needs a credible alibi because if he doesn't come up with one quick, it could mean life in prison or death on the streets. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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While I am an avid knitter, this is the first fiction knitting book I have read. Initially, it starts out a little slow, but when a famous movie star enters the picture, the book becomes delightfully entertaining. Jo, the lead character in the book, is a recently widowed mother of two boys who has been offered to take over her grandmother's knitting shop located along the English seashore. Desperate to begin life anew, Jo packs up her kids and belongings and heads for the seashore. Taking over her grandmother's knit shop can be dicey when dealing with her assistant who has worked under her grandmother for many years and likes the old familiar ways. But Jo manages to introduce new yarns, new decorations, and new ways, including a stitch and bitch group, and gradually makes a place and name for herself in the small town. And, as I imagine these books are designed to do, I imagine knitting the many things she describes in the book and trying out all the luscious yarns. Loving all things English, as well, the language and rituals of English life make this a fun read. Check the catalog for availability.


Submitted by Mary @ Central

Not all dictionaries are made the same...

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American Heritage College Dictionary (4th Edition) - Houghton Mifflin

Aside from the phone book, the American Heritage College Dictionary is probably the most used print resource in our Ready Reference department. The definitions are clear and concise with excellent word origin and usage notes given where needed. Also included are an abundance of biographical and geographical entries as well as a plethora of abbreviations and acronyms.

I'm not suggesting that you read it from cover to cover, but like an umbrella on a cloudy day, it's nice to know that the American Heritage College Dictionary is there if you need it. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

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The White Queen : Cousins' War ; Book One by Philippa Gregory.

In this novel Philippa Gregory gives another entertaining fictionalized account of British history. As in her previous novels, Gregory's imagined dialog creates a complete vision of what historical characters' personalities may have been like. The narrator, the beautiful Elizabeth Woodville, is determined and feisty. Her husband, the glorious King Edward IV, is confident and persistent. His brothers, George and Richard, soon to be the infamous King Richard III, are portrayed as nefarious traitors. All together these personalities, and others, crash against one another, forcing brother against brother and perpetuating the civil war between the Lancaster and York houses. Check catalog for availability.


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The Sunne In Splendour : A Novel of Richard III by Sharon Kay Penman.

If you like Philippa Gregory's book above then perhaps you'll like Sharon Kay Penman's rendition as well. In this case, I much prefer Penman's version of the Elizabeth, Edward and Richard story. Penman portrays richly developed characters and offers other plausible motives and personalities that could have shaped the history that we know today. Unlike most other fiction and non-fiction histories, Penman shows Richard in a sympathetic light, a character forced into an unwelcomed position and life. Check catalog for availability.


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King Richard III by William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare's vision of the infamous King Richard III character overshadows all others. Shakespeare portrays Richard as one of history's most evil, manipulative and conniving figures. King Richard's tyranny involves outstanding murders and mayhem that will continue to inspire authors and entertain audiences throughout time. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

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