December 2010 Archives

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I love this series. I've already read the first two books twice and can't wait for the third book to come out. Stiefvater puts a surprising spin on the whole werewolf phenomenon. I don't want to spoil it so I'm not going to write about it here. In the first book the story is told by Grace, a high school student, and Sam, a bookstore clerk, in alternating chapters. Just when the plot seemed to be all wrapped up with a happy and satisfying ending, in the final few pages Grace goes through a life altering change thus leaving us hanging on for book number two where the series continues and new characters are added to the mix. It isn't just the fun stories that lead me to like this series. Stiefvater's writing is often beautiful and poetic. It appeals to all of the senses so you can smell what the characters smell and really feel their pain and happiness. This series is geared toward young adults, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

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Linger is book two of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.

Click on the book covers above to check the catalog for available copies.

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Book three, Forever, is scheduled to be published in July 2011.



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The Family Dinner by Laurie David

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I recently came across the book, The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal At a Time by Laurie David (the producer of An Inconvenient Truth) and all I have to say is WOW! I LOVE everything about this book. The gorgeous pictures, 70+ recipes, design on the front cover, quotes and the advice from famous people are all wonderful. My favorites include Chapter 10, Your Green Table: Why Choices Matter, which discusses composting, recycling, gardening, cleaning products, and the benefits to just being outside with your family. I also liked Chapter 12, Read Around the Table: From News to Poetry---Inspiration Is Your Dinner Guest. This chapter points out that family dinners offer the perfect time for meaningful discussion about the day's events. Talking to your children at dinner builds language and communication skills and is a chance to discuss moral dilemmas, ask and answer questions about ethics, and teach values.

In order to enjoy your family dinners even more Laurie David suggests the following rules:

Set a regular dinner time.
Invite guests (the more the merrier).
Do not answer the phone during dinner.
One meal, no substitions, and my personal favorite,
Everyone helps clean up.

This is the kind of book that gets used in the kitchen and passed around. Check this book out and I promise that you won't be disappointed! After you read the book, check out the The Family Dinner.

submitted by Nichole at Villard Ave.


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The photographs in this book are crisp and absolutely beautiful. Written by zoologists and edited by biologists, this book contains authoritative information about animals - birds, mammals, fish and more - with maps showing where they live. I purchased two copies as gifts so far and the recipients loved them. If you have any interest in animals I recommend this book for your library too.

Click on the book cover above to check the catalog for available copies.



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Read it Now - See it Soon!

The movie trailer for Water for Elephants, based on Sara Gruen's bestseller by the same title, has just been released. If you missed this incredible story of illicit love amidst the circus world during the Great Depression, now is the time to pick up the book. You can finish it before the film comes out, and avoid any opening-weekend rush on our copies. Twilight fans will want to check this out, too - heartthrob Robert Pattinson (Edward) plays main character Jacob Jankowski.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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A Ticket to the Circus by Norris Church Mailer

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From page one of Norris Church Mailer's memoir it's clear you've jumped into a life that was never dull. Mailer opens by describing her childhood in Alabama and follows it up with details of her first failed marriage and her life as a single mother (including time she spent with Bill Clinton). She quickly gets to the year she turned 26, which is also the year she met Norman Mailer and their rocky relationship began. When they met, Norman Mailer was married to one woman (his fourth wife), living with another woman and seeing several others. He was also twice Norris Church Mailer's age and he had seven children. Mailer was aware of all of this and she remained undaunted moving from Alabama to New York to be with him. In 1980, Norris Church Mailer married Norman Mailer and they lived the rest of their lives together. He died in 2007 and she died last month.

Mailer's memoir is fast-paced, warm, and honest. At times this fascinating book reads like a breezy People Magazine article and yet it forces you to reflect on heavy topics like marriage, feminism, adultery, the joy of following your heart and the pain of having it broken.

Submitted by Amy @ MPL Central


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Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

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Two sisters.
Best Friends.

One mother.
Many visitors.

A secret diary
to document
it all.

Click on the book cover above to check the catalog for available copies.



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When Thomas Jefferson pulled the trigger on the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and literally doubled the size of the United States in a single transaction, he had Congress appropriate funds to finance an expedition named the Corps of Discovery to map and explore the vast unknown wilderness that he had bought. Jefferson chose U.S. Army Captain and personal friend Meriwether Lewis to lead the expedition. Lewis, in turn, picked U.S. Army Lieutenant William Clark as his aide, though Lewis shared the leadership of the expedition with Clark on an even keel despite Clark's lower rank.
On August 31, 1803, the Lewis & Clark expedition left Pittsburgh to seek a waterway passage from the East to the Pacific Ocean. The ensuing cross-country trek was fraught with hardship and sacrifice, but was ultimately successful after they found the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River in modern day Oregon. Historian Stephen E. Ambrose chose to mainly center this fascinating book on the activities of Meriwether Lewis, but used the journals of both Lewis and Clark to research this book. Thoughtfully written in an accessible style that helps keep the pages turning, this history can be read for both research and pleasure.

Check catalog availability.

Submitted by Dan @ Central


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Ape House by Sara Gruen

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Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants is a bestselling novel. She has switched gears from elephants to bonobo apes to bring us this suspenseful novel. In Ape House, a family of bonobo apes who know American Sign Language are kidnapped from a language lab and then reappear on a reality TV show. This calls into question many assumptions about the DNA that is shared between humans and apes. In order to write this novel, Gruen studied linguistics and a system of lexigrams so that she could communicate directly with the bonobos living at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa. She now considers them to be part of her extended family, and, according to the bonobos, the feeling is mutual.

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Too Many Magicians by Randall Garrett

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1966 looks very different in a world in which the Plantagenet kings have remained in perpetual power, and the discovery of the Laws of Magic obviated the need for the study of the physical sciences. Crime, however, looks about the same.

When a high-profile Master wizard is murdered in a physically and magically sealed room, it's deduction, not thaumaturgy, that can reveal the culprit. Enter Lord Darcy, a man with no magical abilities but a stunning analytical mind. Fans of Sherlock Holmes or Nero Wolfe will recognize this brusque yet brilliant character with unimpeachable integrity.

What begins as a classic locked-room mystery evolves with brilliant turns of plot, well-drawn characters, and a touch of magic that only serves to highlight the magnitude of Darcy's scientific genius. Highly recommended for all lovers of puzzles, and guaranteed to keep you guessing until the last moment.

Too Many Magicians can also be found in the compilation Lord Darcy.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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(Re)Discover Sandra Cisneros

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Sandra Cisneros looms large over the landscape of Latina writers. Since her debut The House on Mango Street, Cisneros has written poetry and vibrant short stories that explore the modern Latina experience. She uses a combination of Spanish and English in her writing that brings to life the hybrid world inhabited by many Hispanic-Americans today. To explore Cisneros' cuentos check out these titles, and others, available at the Milwaukee Public Library.


Caramelo, or, Puro Cuento or, in Spanish Caramelo, o, Puro Cuento

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"Tell me a story, even if it's a lie." Celaya "Lala" Reyes shares the story of the Reyes clan over three generations in this sweeping novel set in Mexico and Chicago. Funny and poignant, Caramelo examines the experience of living "here" and "there" as Lala and her family travel across the Mexican border and back. Cisneros weaves together narratives from the past and present (some true, some not) to create a vibrant account of a family's history. Caramelo is rich with historical detail and is a definite treat for both old and new Cisneros fans.

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Woman Hollering Creek is a must read for short story fans. Cisneros' vivid and surprising stories showcase Cisneros' talent with language, reminding us that she is a poet as well as a storyteller. "My Friend Lucy Who Smells Like Corn" and "Woman Hollering Creek" are standouts of the collection.

Submitted by Kristina @ MPL Central


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Blood Count by Reggie Nadelson

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Blood Count is a dark, brain-twisting tale of mystery and murder in the Artie Cohen series. Set in the frigid cold of Harlem in December 2008, detective Artie Cohen is awakened by a late-night call from his ex girlfriend, Lily Hanes, begging for his help. Lily, who has been working on the Barack Obama campaign, has been living at the Louis Armstrong Apartments, one of Harlem's great buildings--and has discovered her Russian neighbor, Marianna Simonova, has died. Lily fears she's at fault and needs Artie's Russian connections. While Harlem is in ecstatic celebration of Obama's election, one by one the tenants of the Armstrong die. Artie, out of his element, a white detective in a black world, is drawn into a world of race, greed, ideological conflict, and love--with an ending one could never predict.

Submitted by Richard @ MPL Central


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Richard Yates by Tao Lin

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Richard Yates by Tao Lin (c2010)

Tao Lin is 27 years old and lives in Brooklyn. Some are touting him as America's next great novelist. His newest offering, Richard Yates, is titled after the author of the same name, but it is not at all about Richard Yates. The main characters are named Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning, but are not based on the real Haley Joel Osment or Dakota Fanning. Lin's Haley Joel Osment is a 20-something author/poet, possibly autistic, a vegan and a compulsive shoplifter. His Dakota Fanning is still in her teens, in therapy, bulimic and also a compulsive shoplifter. They meet over the internet and then in real life and stay in constant touch via cell phone calls, texting and gmail chat. Lin's treatment of them is detached, almost loathsome, but also hyperaware and vividly real, maybe even autobiographical. This is about as contemporary as fiction gets and I'm not 100% sure what to make of it... but I think I came away liking it. Is Tao Lin America's next great novelist? I'm not sure, but I intend to read more of his work. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ Mpl Central


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Indian Nations of North America

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If you are interested in the past, present and future of Native American cultures, please have a look at the new book from National Geographic, Indian Nations of North America. What I really enjoyed about this book was the profiles of Native Americans in contemporary America. Through the profiles, we get to meet N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer prize winning author, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a Canadian Inuit and Nobel Prize nominee who works to raise awareness of the effects of global climate change on the people of the Arctic Circle, and Loren Me'-lash-ne Bommelyn, who works to preserve the language and traditions of the Tolowa people. The book is organized geographically, and each Federally recognized (circa 2010) tribe has an entry that leads with the current location, total area of land occupied by the tribe, and the number of people enrolled. Entries may include information about traditional language, food and housing, as well as significant historical events.

Submitted by Ephemera @ Villard Ave


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Bryant and May Off the Rails by Christopher Fowler

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Bryant and May Off the Rails is Christopher Fowler's eighth and latest offering in his Bryant & May series where he again recounts the misadventures of the Peculiar Crimes Unit of the London Metropolitan Police. An escaped killer is on the loose, and to make matters worse, he escaped from the PCU shortly after they apprehended him at the end of the previous novel in the series, Bryant & May on the Loose (2009). The octogenarian detectives and their department of cast-offs and misfits has one week to recapture the murderer known as Mr. Fox, or suffer the closure of their department. With their jobs, professional pride, and maybe even their lives at stake, they trace their suspect through a subterranean world of forgotten tunnels, crypts, and abandoned Underground stations beneath London.

To fully appreciate the history of the partnership between the curmudgeonly Arthur Bryant and the unflappably urbane John May, start with Full Dark House (2003), which describes the origin of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Formed in 1940, during the dark early months of World War II, the PCU was charged with the responsibility for quickly and definitively solving crimes that were sensitive or that authorities feared might lead to panic or poor morale on the home front and so undermine the war effort. Having a special unit to close these cases would, it was felt, prevent this from happening. While following along as the PCU investigates and solves some ingenious and baffling crimes, readers are treated to a history of London arcana as well as the ceaseless and hilarious bantering between Bryant and May. The rest of the novels in the series are: The Water Room (2004), Seventy-Seven Clocks (2005), Ten Second Staircase (2006), White Corridor (2007), and The Victoria Vanishes (2008).

Submitted by Chris G @ Bay View & Tippecanoe


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Novels by Lisa Schroeder

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Lisa Schroeder tackles serious subjects in these three books -- death, suicide, depression, fear, anger, divorce, step-families, but not without hope and love. Her first two books are told from a teen girl's point of view, the third from both a boy's and a girl's in alternating chapters. Schroeder writes in verse form with thoughts, actions and dialogue speeding along like they would in real life. Extraneous words are absent, leaving a great deal of white space on each page that gives the words that are present additional impact. I read each book twice, the second time more slowly to really allow the individual words and the characters' struggles sink in. These books were hard to read because of their content, but beautifully written and true to life save for a touch of the supernatural.

Click on the book covers above to check the catalog for available copies.



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Raymond Carver writes short stories. His short stories are short. They read fast. Mostly. Some poetry too. He also writes short sentences. His characters drink. They smoke. Heck, they love. They even hate. Sometimes they hurt the ones they also love. Duality. Some say he copied Hemingway. I'm not sure. I see the similarity in style. His sparse style leaves his stories ambiguous at times. I like that. Interpretation is essential in writing. This fine collection has 37 stories. Seven are new to publication in a book. Give him a try. He is the reigning master of the American short story. He died in 1988. He lives on though. Genius is eternal.

Submitted by Dan@Central



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Harried Holidays?

Uh-oh. It's Hannukah, my parents are dropping in on short notice, and I have precisely zero presents on hand.

While I generally like to give homemade gifts, which convey a lot of love without taking too large a toll on the environment or my checkbook, that was nearly enough to send me running to the nearest store. Any store. Happy holidays, Mom, here's your CVS gift card.

Thankfully, MPL has a great collection of books on last-minute holiday gifts. If you want to give homemade gifts but don't have much time, if you're looking for an inexpensive way to spread holiday cheer, or if you just waited too long to get Amazon.com shipping before Christmas, you'll love these books as much as I do. Find the perfect project whether you've got a few weeks until Christmas or you're down to the wire before a holiday party in a few days (or, you know, hours.)

Oh, and Mom - enjoy your red wine jelly.

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Submitted by Audrey @ Central

A Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren

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As I read this wonderful novel, I felt I could smell the booze soaked floor of Dockery's Bar in Depression era New Orleans as double leg amputee Achilles started his nightly bar fight to prove his manhood.
I imagined I could feel broken glass crunch under my feet as prostitute Hattie walked across the trashed floor of Finnerty's brothel to climb the stairs and go to work.
I could sense the amazement as young transient Dove watched a beheaded turtle on a restaurant floor, soon to be a soup ingredient, continue to fight and claw for survival, unable to comprehend life had already left it behind.
In essence, I didn't read this book. I felt it, smelled it and became it. Good writing can do that sometimes.
Nelson Algren based this 1956 novel on his own recollections as a young man who experienced New Orleans "from the other side of the tracks." The main characters that populate this book are so deeply flawed as humans that they almost promote pity, but yet, reek of self confidence and seem proud of their collective depravity.
Though this book is not for the easily offended and is recommended for a mature audience, I wouldn't recommend anybody NOT read this book. The lyrical prose and exceptional storytelling more than make up for the nastiness and debauchery. It reminds me of a restaurant that features a muddy floor and dirty dishes, but with exceptionally good food. It also helped me realize that we all, as humans, are flawed in delightfully diverse ways and that's what keeps life interesting. As the characters lives in this novel shatter like a broken mirror, the individual pieces seem to meld together into a solid reflection of life "on the other side of the tracks." Frankly, in my opinon, this book is a literary masterpiece.
By Dan K @ Central



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Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

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Every moment of twelve-year-old Steven Lamb's life has been shaped by the uncle he never met, murdered as a child twenty years before. Steven knows - just knows - that if he can find Uncle Billy's body buried on the moor, his distant and fragmented family will finally be able to love him. When three years of secret digging turn up nothing but sheep bones, Steven takes a desperate step: he writes to the serial killer who murdered Billy. The ensuing game of cat-and-mouse between the incarcerated but unreformed killer and the desperate, clever child is riveting. But it's Steven's pervasive sadness, his adolescent struggle with the dank unfairness of his life, which sets this book apart from other thrillers. Thick with suspense and melancholy, Blacklands will grip you from the first few atmospheric words to the final sentence - one of the best final sentences I've read in a long time. Blacklands is the winner of the 2010 Crime Writers' Association Golden Dagger award.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs

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For people who would prefer a less wholesome sort of Christmas story, Augusten Burroughs' You Better Not Cry delivers. The author of Running With Scissors and Sellevision has a series of short stories centered around the holiday. Burroughs uses the same shocking and irreverent wit in memoirs of Christmas past as he does in his earlier work. In one of the more memorable stories he describes an instance when he ate the face off of a life size statue of Saint Nick. The stories are both laugh out loud funny and terribly sad at times. Fans of David Sedaris will appreciate the wry tone of this book.

Submitted by Anna @ MPL Central


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This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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