June 2011 Archives

Untold Story: A Novel by Monica Ali


Untold Story: A Novel by Monica Ali (Brick Lane, In the Kitchen) is about what might have happened if Princess Diana hadn't been killed in 1997. If alive, she would turn fifty on July 1, 2011. Ali imagines a fictional Princess of Wales whose life mirrors that of Diana's. She did not die in an accident, her death was faked, and now she is living in the United States. She calls herself Lydia Snaresbrook and is living in Kensington, North Carolina. Slowly, she makes friends and dates, but can never divulge the truth of her past. Eventually a British paparazzo comes to town and threatens her secret. Fans of Diana may enjoy this fairy tale of 'what if;' for as many questions as it answers, it's likely to leave readers asking more...what is it to live a life of peace, and is it worth leaving your children behind?

While you're waiting for Untold Story, take a look at what Newsweek's Tina Brown has to say about what Diana's life would be like in her article Diana at 50.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central

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The vast Pacific Ocean hosts at least 20,000 islands, many of which sprouted from the depths like pus filled pimples on the face of Poseidon. Many breed disease carrying insects, venomous snakes and all kinds of noxious creations that can kill or sicken a man. Some of these islands are drenched for months at a time by torrential monsoons, while others are so dry that rainwater is collected in barrels for human consumption.

The island named Tarawa was just such a place in 1943 during the early stages of the American "island hopping" campaign to push back the conquering Japanese during WWII. Tarawa (now named Kiribati) is located in the Central Pacific and is part of the Gilbert Islands. The Japanese built an airfield on the barren, arid island that posed an immediate threat to the Americans advancing up the Solomon Islands and other US bases in the South Pacific. It had to be taken by US forces.

During three days in November of 1943, over 1,000 American servicemen, mostly marines from the Second Marine Division, lost their lives trying to take the prized airfield on Tarawa away from the Japanese.

The Japanese lost thousands of soldiers, many who were so firmly entrenched in defensive positions that they had to literally be blown out of the ground by explosives or burned out with flamethrowers. Only 17 Japanese soldiers were taken prisoner.

The quick and bloody battle is respectfully retold through firsthand interviews with veterans who share horrors of the brutal combat, often giving deferential testimony to the tenacity of the Japanese defenders. It is a tale of sloppy American planning, horrible heat, bad water and a low tide that took the lives of many marines who were forced to wade through a machine gun raked lagoon to reach the beaches after the US command misjudged the tides and left US landing craft hung up far from the landing beaches.

Bravo Mr. Wukovits, you've documented a story that needs to be told again and again. The "greatest generation" indeed! Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Dan @Central.

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Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn


In Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters, Ella lives on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. The island was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the pangram (a sentence or phrase that includes all letters of the alphabet). "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." All is well in the land of Nollop until the letters on the pangram memorial statue begin falling off. Totalitarianism takes over as the island council decides to ban the usage of each letter that falls. Each letter that the council bans also disappears from the book and the reader is left to decipher the hilarious phonetic spelling of the townspeople. It's up to Ella Minnow Pea to outwit the council and save the alphabet before it disappears from their lives forever.

Submitted by Maria @Central

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Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson


Christine Lucas was in a car accident that resulted in amnesia of an odd sort. Every time she goes to sleep she forgets who she is and what happened in the last 24 hours. When we first meet her she receives a phone call from a Dr. Nash who tells her about a journal she's been writing in. We discover, along with Christine, the details of her past and present. We're left guessing from the very beginning as page one of her journal says 'don't trust Ben.' Ben is her husband--or is he? Who should Christine trust? This is Watson's debut novel which was inspired in part by the lives of several amnesiac patients, most notably Henry Gustav Molaison and Clive Wearing. He has given us a thought provoking thriller topped off with psychological drama. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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I was intrigued when I first ran across the title The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. How do you write a biography of a disease? What elevated cancer to the level of emperor in the author's mind? When I heard the news that the book had won a Pulitzer Prize this year for general non-fiction I decided to give it a try. What a fascinating read! The book traces the history of the knowledge and treatment of cancer from ancient times to the present day. Although some poignant stories are briefly presented, the book reads more like a detective story than a biography. The mystery to be solved is the riddle of cancer and finding a cure is the quest of centuries of trial and error by medical researchers. It is fascinating to see the painstaking work as well as the imagination and luck that brought us to today's treatments. Mukherjee, a professor of Medicine at Columbia University, makes the science accessible. The book is a biography in the sense that the people who were instrumental in the fight against cancer come alive. The inability of science to find a magic bullet cure for this insidious and heartbreaking disease certainly makes cancer seem deserving of the title Emperor. I did feel that the book ended on a hopeful note as new treatments are devised based on the mapping of the human genome and the discovery of new drugs among other advances. Highly recommended.

Submitted by Patricia D. @ Central

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King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard


Allan Quatermain, adventurer extraordinaire and all around circa 1880's he-man type dude, is the Indiana Jones for the Victorian set. I mean this guy can do it all. He is the fictional allegorical equivalent of British Colonialism. In other words, besides being seriously macho, he's kind, considerate, knowledgeable, relentless and fair. Chivalry is not dead!

King Solomon's Mines was published in 1885 and became an instant literary hit. Its publication inspired Edgar Rice Burroughs to write The Land that Time Forgot (1918) and Arthur Conan Doyle to pen The Lost World (1912). In effect, Haggard created the "Lost World" genre that would become incredibly popular and still is today.

Set in middle Africa in the 1880's and based somewhat on Haggard's experiences in South Africa as a 19 year old British civil servant, the novel is basically a fictional journey across dark, unexplored Africa in search of the Biblical King Solomon's rumored wealth.

Quatermain, an experienced hunter and explorer, is hired by Sir Henry Curtis and his trusty sidekick Captain Good to find Sir Henry's brother who has disappeared while searching for the fabled treasure. The story that follows, as told through the first person narration of Quartermain himself, is an epic trek through arid, deadly deserts, freezing caves, treacherous mountains and fierce African tribes.

As corny as it can be by today's standards, this story really is pretty good. Sometimes the first of something really is the best and that certainly holds true in this case.

If you absolutely must watch one of the many film versions of this story, skip the cheesy 1985 version starring Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone and go for the much better 1950 version starring Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr.

Better yet, put this truly classic novel on your summer reading list and, after finishing it and being thoroughly enthralled, pass it on to your best friend so they can enjoy the thrills too!

Submitted by Dan@Central

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The Aurora Teagarden Series

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I admit, I tried getting into the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries by Charlaine Harris and could not. But, then my sister told me about another series Harris wrote called the Aurora Teagarden mysteries and I have been hooked every since!

Written before she started the popular Sookie Stackhouse stories and without the fantastical elements, this series centers on Aurora Teagarden, a librarian living outside of Atlanta who also happens to be an amateur crime buff. The first novel, Real Murders, centers on a group of amateur crime buffs she belongs to and a murder they witness. As the series goes on the bodies pile up.

One thing that I find refreshing about the series is that it makes no qualms that the characters are peculiar and recognizes that being a true crime aficionado is a strange pastime. There is even one character, a police officer, who finds it very odd that Aurora is somehow always involved with any murder that happens in their small town.

Along with the mystery, throw in a meddling mother, small town southern living, irksome library staff and plenty of love interests for Aurora and the series is a quick read and quite enjoyable. They do not need to be read in order, though they do follow a chronology. The books also do a nice job of fleshing out the characters and offer a light read without a lot of sex, violence and strong language. Real Murders is followed by A Bone to Pick, Three Bedrooms, One Corpse, The Julius House, Dead Over Heels, A Fool and His Honey, Last Scene Alive and Poppy Done to Death.

Submitted by Meredith, Wisconsin Talking Book Library

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Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart


Have you ever heard of a bug that inhabits another bug's body and forces them to do its bidding? Or how about a bug that feeds upon a fish's tongue until only a stub remains? In Amy Stewart's fifth book, the readers are taken into the strange and dangerous world of bugs. Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects gives delightful stories of over a hundred of the most sinister, amusing, and irksome bugs known to man. From the insatiable appetite of the Colorado Potato Beetle to the flea that terrorized Columbus's crew, each bug has an unique story made even more descriptive by the fantastic etchings and drawings of Briony Morrow-Cribbs. This book is a must for anyone who wants to learn more about the little pests we couldn't live without.

Submitted by Maria @ Central

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With so many diet and exercise fads out there, who knows which ones will work? An extra problem is that many will require you to buy their book or equipment to learn their "secrets." In the face of so many choices, it is easy to understand the urge to give up before even delving in. Enter Charlotte Hilton Andersen who is ready to do the work for you.

In The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything, she tackles twelve different diets and workouts, a new one for every month. Her personal experiences and the pros and cons of each are described in a funny and honest voice that makes you wish she was your "Gym Buddy."

She takes on Crossfit, Jillian Michaels, kettlebells, going vegan, karate, celebrity and "action hero" workouts, among others. Also enjoyable are her personal essays that tackle topics such as eating disorders and "being a girl in our body-obsessed culture." After reading this book, I certainly felt like I had more insight to the different fitness workouts out there, and what would work best for me based on her tests and trials.

Submitted by Monica @ MPL Central

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Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings by A.G. Mohan


Few people in Yoga circles haven't heard the names of giants like B.K.S Iyengar (founder of Iyengar Yoga) or Krishna Pattabhi Jois (founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore India); both men are responsible for the dissemination of Yoga throughout the Western world in the twentieth century. Many modern Yoga teachers can trace their origins back to these two men, and in like manner, they owe their early training to the father of modern Yoga, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.

Mohan, who studied with Sri Krishnamacharya for nearly twenty years, provides readers with a unique insight into this modern master's life and teachings. Not only was Krishnamacharya a master of Hatha Yoga, but also an Ayurvedic healer and scholar of Vedic and Yogic texts, who tailored his teachings to each student's physical, intellectual and spiritual development.

Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings is essential reading for anyone developing their own Yoga practice, because it provides not only a biography of this important historic figure, but also sheds light on many key aspects of Yoga study and application.

Submitted by John @ MPL Central

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The Odd Thomas Series by Dean Koontz


Odd Thomas lives in Pico Mundo an unremarkable town located in California. He's happy where he's living, working and dating. He works at the Pico Mundo Grille as a cook in the kitchen where he makes the best pancakes anyone has ever tasted. He has a beautiful gun toting girlfriend/soul mate. He has no ambitions to change his life in any way. So what's so interesting about Odd and these novels? Odd has two unique skills or curses depending on who you ask. He can see dead people and has psychic magnetism - the ability to hone in on what, who or where he desires. Inevitably these talents get him and his girlfriend into trouble and helping the local police department in solving crimes. The graphic novels are fun to read and look at, but you don't get to enjoy Koontz's smooth and flowing writing style which gives you a wonderful sense of Odd's quirky personality. So depending on your likes and dislikes you may like one over the other, but I liked them both. As an aside Odd's other sidekick is the ghost of Elvis. That's right the one and only Elvis Presley. Bizarre.

For other Odd Thomas books check the catalog here.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central

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The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card


Widely being touted as an "astounding urban fantasy," this story fleshes out a shared universe that Card had halfheartedly constructed some 30+ years ago. Now better conceived, he writes of godlike beings that share our planet who are in reality space-time manipulators that are exiled due to have lost their "gates" to their own world. Danny North is one of those beings in an isolated Appalachian restricted compound where he is denigrated as an untalented, powerless child. However, he is the first in many generations to actually have the gate magic, which all other Westillian Mages have sworn to eradicate.

Danny finds himself on the run only to discover that Mages are active on Earth and even complicit with the despised native humans. Meanwhile, on the home planet Westil itself, the loss of the gates mean an entirely different political balance has emerged among the gifted families. In fact, smaller gifts--although ignored-- may be more important than the more recognized powers. Danny comes to terms with his powers and his present predicaments as does "Wad" on Westil, but neither have come to the end of their adventures. I'm looking forward to another of this series where the magic is entwined with quantum physics. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library

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Happy Bloomsday


This book was published by James Joyce in 1922. It is set on June 16, 1904.
This is what "Ulysses" is about:
History (Irish)
History (mythological)
History (imagined)
History (nightmarish)

Should you read it?

Bloomsday is a commemoration observed annually on June 16th in Dublin and elsewhere to celebrate the life of Irish writer James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses, all of which took place on the same day in Dublin in 1904. The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses.

- submitted by Bill @ WTBBL

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The Informationist by Taylor Stevens


Looking for another smart, bold female protagonist like Lisbeth Salander of the Millennium Trilogy? The Informationist by Taylor Stevens is the book for you.

Vanessa "Michael" Munroe is an expert at gathering information. It helps that she speaks 22 languages and is good at blending in no matter what the country or situation. Munroe is so good that a Texas oil billionaire offers her a small fortune to find out what happened to his daughter who disappeared in Africa four years ago. Munroe reluctantly takes the job and returns to Central Africa where she grew up. Born to missionary parents, she joined a crew of mercenaries when she was 14 and earned the respect of the jungle's most dangerous men. Munroe ran away to the U.S. a decade ago and now this case forces her to deal with her past and unravel the mystery of what happened to the missing woman.

The Informationist starts out a bit slow with a lot of groundwork to get out of the way, although all is forgiven when the action starts. Stevens doesn't let up and builds to a thrilling climax and satisfying ending. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys international thrillers and strong female characters. And there are more books to come. The second book, titled The Innocent, will be published in December and Stevens is working on a third.

Not only has Taylor Stevens written a great story, she has her own interesting back story. Read more about it in this Vogue magazine article.

Submitted by Amy @ MPL Central

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Secrets. We all have them.

Would you share your secrets if you knew there would be no repercussions or fallout? If no one could link you to your deepest, darkest thoughts? Through PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions From Ordinary Lives, Frank Warren offers us all the chance to confess our secrets without fear.

It started as an idea for a community art project. In 2004, Warren left blank postcards in public places with the following simple instructions:

"You are invited to anonymously contribute a secret to a group art project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything -- as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before. Be brief. Be legible. Be creative."

Anonymous confessions came pouring in. Thousands took advantage of the opportunity to unload their innermost fears, regrets, and desires. Through these postcards, people turned their revelations into works of art, and Warren began posting the submissions online for all to read. The response was overwhelming as readers recognized their own emotions and humanity in the profundities of others.

PostSecret is the first collection of some of the most powerful postcards Warren received. The confessions along with the original artwork can be shocking, humorous, cryptic, and most certainly provocative. If you are as fascinated by the first collection as I was, there are ever more secrets to be revealed. You can view postcard submissions online at PostSecret or check out Warren's other PostSecret collections.

Submitted by Jennifer @ MPL Central

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All Hail McQueen!

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The death of Alexander McQueen on February 11, 2011 was a major loss to the world of fashion. Throughout his 19 year career McQueen's designs introduced a unique avant-garde style not seen before. His dramatic designs refer to the exaggerated silhouettes of the late 1800s. McQueen's imaginative work can be seen in both Extreme Beauty and Radical Fashion.

Radical Fashion edited by Claire Wilcox features interviews with fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, and John-Paul Gaultier. Each interview is accompanied by several examples of the artist's designs. This publication coincided with an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed by Harold Koda focuses on fashion designer's take on the human form. Koda is curator in charge of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His book details designers that distort the human body and the early sources that inspired them. Each chapter looks at a different zone of the body in detail (neck and shoulders, chest, waist, hips, and feet), and provides a chronological outline and explanatory text concerning the transformations that have characterized each zone. With loads of color photographs and reproductions of armor, paintings, and period prints there is a wealth of information here.

Submitted by Maria @ MPL Central

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In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks by Adam Carolla


From the mind of comedian Adam Carolla, this is his hilarious take on modern life for the American male. Family, religion, and education are just some of the topics he writes about from his irreverent point of view. Expect no punches to be pulled as he shows why he is considered one of the funniest men in comedy today. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Anthony @ Atkinson

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In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson


Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City, takes readers on a captivating and at times terrifying tour of early 1930s Berlin in his latest work, In the Garden of Beasts. In this book, we observe the beginnings of the Nazi regime through the eyes of the American ambassador to Germany at the time and his adult daughter, who accompanied him during his ambassadorship and socialized with many of the prominent figures of the era, up to and including Adolf Hitler himself.

In hopes of finding a prestigious but low-demand government job allowing him time to do scholarly work, University of Chicago professor William E. Dodd applied for and was granted the ambassadorship to Germany in 1933. His family's move there coincided with the National Socialist takeover of the German government, an event which had immediate and ominous consequences. Dodd and his daughter, Martha, kept detailed journals of their time in Berlin, noting the transformation of the city from a vibrant, diverse metropolis to a cold, conformist symbol of the "New Germany" being forged by Hitler and his henchmen. Initial enthusiasm for the new government on the part of Martha Dodd is quickly dashed as the reality of the Nazis' intentions becomes evident.

Larson expertly weaves the entries from the Dodds' journals and other historical documents into a riveting and powerful narrative. Many of the major players in the regime are present here--Röhm, Göring, Goebbels, Himmler, and of course Hitler, with whom both Dodds were acquainted. From our 20/20 perspective, it is chilling to read of Martha in particular engaging lightly with these notorious figures. Nonetheless, her and her father's experiences provide us with a unique view of an extraordinary time in world history.

Submitted by Brett @ Washington Park

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State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

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State of Wonder takes us deep into the Amazon as we follow Dr. Marina Singh. She is sent there by a Minnesota pharmaceutical company to find her former mentor, Dr. Swenson, who is supposed to be working on an important new drug. The research is costing the company an insane amount of money and Dr. Swenson has stopped responding to any communication requesting updates on her progress.

The assignment is difficult because no one knows exactly where she is and the last person who was sent to find her is now dead. Also, the jungle is completely new territory for Dr. Singh--there are insects everywhere and snakes and while she finds it lush and beautiful, it is not very welcoming. Once she finds Dr. Swenson a whole new adventure begins as she tries to discover what the research is about and whether or not development on a new drug is actually happening. The sacrifices she makes test her in ways she had not previously imagined possible, but they lead to her discovering answers about the state of her company's future as well as her own past.

Armchair travelers, fans of her previous bestseller Bel Canto, or Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad will especially enjoy this novel. Patchett's prose describes the landscape so that you feel you're with the characters nearly suffocating in the dense humid air of the Amazon.

Ann Patchett will be at Boswell Books on June 22, 2011 at 7 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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As 2012 approaches, a vast number of works dealing with end-of-the-world prophecies and Mayan calendrics have been flooding the book markets. Restall and Solari take a sober look at the roots of this connection and demonstrate that far from being a product of Mayan astrological observations, the 2012 phenomenon is the product of Christian millenarianism combined with inaccurate assumptions made about pre-Colombian Mayans by 19th and early 20th century Mayanists.

This short treatise provides a very clear explanation about the details of the Mayan calendar that the controversy is based on, without becoming overly technical. It also explores the profound influence that Western civilization had on Mesoamerican culture. It is very readable and accessible to anyone interested in a historically accurate portrayal of the subject. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by John @ MPL Central

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Every Shallow Cut by Tom Piccirilli

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Every time I turned a page while reading Every Shallow Cut, I felt fearful of slicing my fingers on the edges of the pages. The fear of a paper cut just compounded the tension and unease I felt while gnashing and slashing my way through this short novel.

An unknown writer narrator loses his house because his books don't sell, loses his wife to "a friend," and is forced to pawn all of his belongings besides his car and his dog to pay his debts. He also manages to get jumped while leaving the pawn shop. He naturally buys a gun with his meager funds and embarks on an emotionally grueling trek across the country to where his brother owns a home. To his brother who hates him. To his brother who hates his dog. This generic guy has name brand problems.

Along the way, our anonymous narrator revisits old lovers, old friends, old houses and old feelings of inadequacy and contempt. His one remaining old friend drugs our narrator because he's having a nervous breakdown after contemplating shooting the agent who never promotes his books.

If you are looking for light, summer beach reading, skip this book and find something else. If you are looking for 175 pages of a brilliant character study of a man being stripped of everything he loves, except his dog (thank goodness!), then I strongly recommend this downer of a book. Through the emotional carnage being spewed across the pages, the brutality actually breeds some humor after awhile. It was like laughing at a gore fest movie like The Evil Dead. After being pummeled page after page, the sting of the emotional slicing and dicing gets swathed in soft bandages and left to heal in a vague ending of HOPE?

Submitted by Dan@Central

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Generation X by Douglas Coupland


The first novel from Douglas Coupland, it popularized the term Generation X, referring to Americans and Canadians who are young college graduated adults during the late 1980s. There are three main characters Andy, Claire, and Dag who have quit "pointless jobs done grudgingly to little applause" and relocated to the Palm Springs, California. The three friends develop a story-telling ritual, creating modern fables of love and death among what they consider to be the utter falsehood of society, as they wait for an epiphany that will shine light how to achieve the meaningful existence they are searching for. As the novel is a series of tales within a larger narrative, the reader learns various snippets from the lives of the characters which reveals their identity and beliefs about the modern world. Along with detailing the characters' relationships with each other, family members, love interests and co-workers, this allows the reader to understand the angst of Gen X, or any generation of young individuals who are attempting to figure out fiscal security while remaining true to their ideals. Unlike the more dissolute and darker young characters that populate many novels in transgressive fiction, the people in "Generation X" are generally good-hearted and likable, making the book an easy and enjoyable read. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Monica @ MPL Central

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The Summoning, which begins The Darkest Powers Trilogy, is about 15 year old Chloe Saunders, a necromancer, brothers Simon, a warlock, and Derek a werewolf (though not the traditional kind), Tori, a witch, and the recently deceased telekinetic Liz. They all attend the Lyle House, an elite academy of sorts for students with special needs also known as supernatural powers. Some of the students know they have supernatural powers, some know how to use them, some, like Chloe, are just coming to discover they even have powers. Soon after the story begins the students realize the Lyle House operates as a kind of medical facility used to experiment and magnify the powers of the students and eventually sell them to the highest bidder. The remainder of the story consists of the teenagers frantically running for their lives not knowing who to trust or fear. I enjoyed the various and curious supernatural powers the characters had in this trilogy, it was an interesting mix along with the different personalities. Although the romantic triangle could be better constructed, the action is most definitely the focus which kept me speeding from one book to the next. I didn't want the story to end, but The Darkest Powers Trilogy continues with The Awakening and The Reckoning. And then, readers can continue the story with The Darkest Rising Trilogy which started this spring with The Gathering. Watch for The Calling in the spring of 2012. Visit Kelley Armstrong's website here.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central

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The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna


The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna alternately tells the stories of three men. British psychiatrist Adrian Lockhart has fled a failing marriage to work in Sierra Leone. In his quest to treat the many uncared for victims of civil war he meets Elias Cole. Cole is an elderly former professor who has two stories to relate. First, he shares much about his country's history, and second, he tells of his infatuation with another colleagues' wife. At the same time Adrian befriends Kai, a young surgeon who is thinking about leaving the country. Kai isn't sure it's a good idea for Adrian to pursue the history of one of their patients, Agnes, and conflict between the two builds.

Forna grew up in Sierra Leone where her father worked as a physician, which brings a remarkable authenticity to her writing. She deftly handles the complications of war and the memories it leaves behind. This novel, as well as her past works, Ancestor Stones and The Devil That Danced on the Water, are suggested for readers who enjoy Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Uwem Akpan.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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Scorecasting by Tobias J. Moskowitz


Written like "Freakonomics" for sports fans, the Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won teams an economist with a sportswriter who uses statistics to challenge the conventional wisdom of American sports. Ideas like "Defense wins championships", and "Always punt on fourth down" are put to the test. Even the infamous "curse" of the Chicago Cubs is explored. The results are sometimes surprising, sometimes provocative but always interesting. The conclusions are laid out in clear terms that are easy to understand. A must read for any sports fan.

Submitted by Anthony @ Atkinson

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Bumped by Megan McCafferty


Bumped is a dystopian novel set in the near future, 2036. A virus causes everyone over the age of eighteen to become infertile. So, would-be parents pay teen girls to carry their children. Melody and Harmony are twin sixteen year-olds who were separated at birth and grew up in completely different worlds.

Melody's parents have been grooming her to be a most enviable surrogate. She is tall, blond, smart, plays guitar, is a star athlete, etc. She is the first girl at her school to go 'pro' by signing a contract with the Jaydens. But while they are searching for the perfect male for her to bump with, she must not give in to her attraction for Zen, her best male friend who suffers from insufficient verticality--he is too short.

Harmony grew up in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. Veils and purity clothing are required, prayercliques are attended daily, the Church Council chooses husbands for the girls when they are as young as thirteen. So Harmony believes it's her calling to find Melody and convince her that pregging for profit is a sin while helping her embrace God.

The two meet just as Melody is getting ready to fulfill her contract for the Jaydens. Melody is matched with Jondoe, a genetically perfect professional breeder, but this is when things go wrong. Harmony pretends to be Melody and Jondoe doesn't realize he's with the wrong person. The events that follow cause both twins to doubt their original plans and the book ends ambigously, but that will keep readers thinking until the next book arrives.

The teenspeak was frustrating at first, but quickly became inherent to the story; slang like 'for serious,' 'facespace' and 'until our parents' generation finally takes a dirtnap' kept the characters and setting fresh. While some might say the book is too cavalier regarding teen sex, it seems to be more of a cautionary tale about casual hook ups. This book is going to get people talking. A discussion guide can be found here to get you started--but careful--it contains spoilers!

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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