June 2012 Archives

Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis

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Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis is a ten-volume graphic novel exploration on truth, the corruption of politics, and journalistic expression set against the backdrop of a cyberpunk future filled with giant cities, ubiquitous advertisements, and consumerism gone mad.

The first volume introduces us to Ellis' finest creation: Spider Jerusalem, a former journalist and truth seeker turned country hermit. Our foul-mouthed protagonist finds himself dragged from his mountain hideaway, kicking and screaming, back into the sprawling urban mega-metropolis of the future known as The City. Quickly he discovers little has changed since he left; the police are still corrupt, the politicians more so, and everyone is exploiting the poor and the innocent. And so he takes it upon himself to make sure everyone knows the truth, one editorial column at a time.

Written originally from 1997 to 2002, Ellis' biting and crass commentary on society and beyond still resonates today. With bombastic style and deftly detailed art by Darick Robertson, the series will thrill you, make you laugh, and even make you think about the concepts and privileges of life we often take for granted. Filled with explicit language and violence, this graphic novel is intended for mature audiences.

Tim @ Central


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The Yard by Alex Grecian

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The Yard by Alex Grecian tells the story of England's new "Murder Squad," an elite group of detectives formed to investigate murders. These 12 detectives are solving murder cases in the wake of Jack the Ripper when morale is low and case loads are high. Walter Day, the squad's newest hire, is assigned to work on the worst case of all- the murder of one of their own. Together with their new forensic pathologist Dr. Kingsley, and the relentless Constable Hammersmith, the squad attempts to track another serial murderer who may have been closer than they ever realized. This novel presents a vivid, gritty view of Victorian London and leads the reader through several twists and subplots told from the viewpoint of unforgettable characters.

Maria @ Central


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Posters of Paris

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The Posters of Paris exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) goes beyond familiar Henri Toulouse-Lautrec paintings and posters to capture the visual excitement of Belle Époque Paris. It shines the spotlight on the posters of Jules Chéret, Eugène Grasset, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Alphonse Mucha and other artists who turned the streets of Paris into "a museum of pictures, an open-air exhibition" with new posters pasted daily on Morris columns.

The Posters of Jules Chéret shows why his colorful posters with cheerful "Chérettes" made him the "father of the poster" and "poster king." He changed the poster from crass advertising to street art. While Chéret's posters were populated by beautiful, but generic-looking people, Toulouse-Lautrec's posters had recognizable individuals, often Montmartre music hall stars, that accentuated their personality traits. Once-famous entertainers Jane Avril, Aristide Bruant, Yvette Guilbert and La Goulue are remembered today, because of his posters.

Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre was the 2005 Art Institute of Chicago's exhibit, companion book and DVD focusing on the painter mythologized in the classic 1952 movie, Moulin Rouge. While covering much of the same ground as MAM's exhibit (both exhibits were curated by former MAM curator Mary Weaver Chapin), the Art Institute exhibit shows the private world of the bohemian Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre and its celebrities as painted by Lautrec on canvass and poster.

Van Lingle Mungo @ Central


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Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

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The fifth season of the HBO series True Blood recently launched and Charlaine Harris announced that her next Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Ever After, coming May of 2013, will be the last in the series. Appropriately, it's the 13th installment. The twelfth book in the series, which came out this May is Deadlocked.

Before reading this one you'll definitely want to read the previous eleven titles in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery Series. Deadlocked answers questions that have been brought up in the previous novels. It also starts to wrap up smaller story lines that Harris introduced along the way.

It looks like Sookie's brother Jason is finally going to settle down and be a one-woman-man. Sookie's best friend Tara and her husband J.B. are already settled down and awaiting the arrival of their twins. Sookie's boss Sam has yet more relationship and business problems. We discover why fairies are gathering around Sookie and the outcome of the fairy civil war. Alas, trouble returns to Sookie's friend Alcide and his werewolf pack. Harris surprises us (or at least me) with who is on Sookie's side and who is not. Sookie's ex-boyfriend Quinn makes an unexpected reappearance. Sookie's boyfriend Eric is accused of yet another murder which Sookie and her first love Bill try to solve. Maybe you've forgotten the Cluviel Dor? Well, we finally get to see if the mysterious little object works or not. That's a whole lot and more to pack into one book, but there you have it!


Valerie @ MPL Central



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The Lost King of France by Deborah Cadbury

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Deborah Cadbury unravels a historical mystery in The Lost King of France: A True Story of Revolution, Revenge, and DNA. Everyone knows what happened to Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, but what happened to their children?

Cadbury examines the life of their son, Louis XVII, after the fall of the monarchy, the executions of his parents, and his own mysterious death at the age of ten. The official report claimed that the Dauphin died of tuberculosis in a filthy prison cell in 1795. Several refused to believe this and as with the Romanovs, stories of his escape were rampant. Several hundred came forward years later each claiming to be the real Dauphin. It wasn't until almost two centuries later that DNA (and a stolen heart) finally solved the mystery. This book is a great investigation into a historical mystery that will leave readers on the edge of their seat.

Maria @ Central


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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick's wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?



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BUtterfield 8 by John O'Hara

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It was a sordid affair.

Speakeasies, promiscuity, infidelity and taxis; mink coats, intoxication and manipulation all are featured prominently in prolific author John O'Hara's New York melodrama BUtterfield 8. Published in 1935, the story revolves around promiscuous Gloria and the ripples and effects caused by her taking a mink coat from the closet of a married man's apartment after spending the night.

Gloria spends her time stumbling from speakeasy to speakeasy in 1931 Manhattan while contemplating the consequences of marriage, motherhood and how predictable Yale boys are! (The opposite of Fitzgerald's Princeton from This Side of Paradise--in fact, F. Scott Fitzgerald almost haunts this novel and his influence is apparent.)

The novel may seem dated to some readers, but if you want good, raw writing from an author as familiar with a speakeasy as he was with the offices of The New Yorker (O'Hara was a frequent short story contributor), give this book a try. My favorite part is a long rant about how to make a good martini! The title refers to Gloria's answering service number; she was, not to put too fine a point on it, a very popular girl. Make sure you read the informative introduction by Fran Lebowitz that appears in The Modern Library edition.

Dan @ Central


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Reimagine Wharton?

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Edith Wharton would be 150 if she were alive today and this summer her novels have inspired two debut titles. The Innocents by Francesca Segal is a reimagining of The Age of Innocence and The Gilded Age by Claire McMillan is a contemporary take on The House of Mirth.

The Innocents by Francesca Segal

As he prepares for his wedding to Rachel Gilbert, the woman he has been with for 12 years, 28-year-old Adam Newman begins to question everything when Rachel's fiercely independent and beautiful young cousin moves home from New York, offering him a liberation he never knew existed.

The Gilded Age by Claire McMillan

Returning to her home in Cleveland after a scandalous divorce and stint in rehab, Ellie, unable to feel socially complete without a husband, uses her beauty and connections to identify a second marital candidate before sabotaging her prospects and making a desperate choice.

Jacki @ Central


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Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

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Heading Out to Wonderful is a novel about dark passion in rural 1940's Virginia. A handsome stranger brings two suitcases to town, one full of butcher knives, the other, money.

Goolrick's distinctive writing style is detailed in USA Today's profile of the author. He says his style is the result of his years in New York advertising, writing copy for products from Kohler faucets to Pantene, "It teaches you to cover a lot of information in a short space."

More good news; Goolrick is working on another novel, as well as a prequel to Heading Out to Wonderful. A movie of his previous novel, A Reliable Wife, is in the works from Columbia Pictures.

Jacki @ Central


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Fatal Fixer-upper by Jennie Bentley

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Fatal Fixer-upper (A Do-It-Yourself Mystery #1) by Jennie Bentley
Out of the blue, Avery Baker, a New York textile designer, receives a letter from her Aunt Inga inviting her to come visit. Aunt Inga states in the letter that she would like to get her affairs in order and it's time for secrets to be told, for the truth to come out, and wrongs to be put right. A great whodunit cozy mystery that includes home-renovation and design tips.

Spackled and Spooked (A Do-It-Yourself Mystery #2) by Jennie Bentley
Avery's boyfriend and business partner, Derek Ellis, wants to flip a house where a murder occurred. After they purchase the house from the sole survivor of the murder victims Avery and Derek wonder if the property is really possessed? Footsteps and screams are heard, blood is found on the stove, an earring under the fridge... and a human bone in the crawl space.

Check the catalog for availability for the other books in the series.

Nichole @ Villard Square


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Off the Eaten Path: The Season's Newest Cookbooks

With each season comes opportunities to try new cookbooks. Here a few you may not have heard about but are worth a look:

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People's Pops by Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell and Joes Horwitz. Brooklyn owners of People's Pops share their treasures just in time for summer. Kids and adults can stay cool and refreshed making locally sourced & healthy ingredients.

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Marshmallow Madness: Dozens of Puffaliscous Recipes by Shauna Sever. Make your own marshmallows?The taste is substantially better and you can tweak flavors to suit your palette. Recipes go a bit beyond basic (vegan vanilla) to boozy (fuzzy navel anyone?) to way out there (bubble gum? or maple bacon?). Try something new for friends who will never forget your contribution to the s'mores.

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Salads: Beyond the Bowl by Mindy Fox. If you eat a lot of salad, or want to, this is the book for you. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, game, nuts, poultry, beef, seafood, spices, seeds all find places in these salads. Whether you visit a farmer's market, grow your own, belong to a CSA or grab what you need at your supermarket you will find new combinations to savour.

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Sip and Savor, Drinks for Party and Porch by James T. Farmer. With or without alcohol get the party started with unforgettable, pizazzy concoctions perfect for pitchers, pints or parfaits. Delight in tasty recipes including raspberry mint tea, spicy apple cider, mango lassi, peach julep, and strawberry blonde milkshake.

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The Book of Kale: The Easy-to-Grow Superfood 70+ Recipes by Sharon Hanna. You've heard about it, you've walked past it at the grocery store, you've seen it as a garnish. Now is the time to try this uber-healthy green (10 minerals, 14 vitamins, 18 amino acids plus fiber). This garden to kitchen guide will help you and those you love, love, love enjoy this stuff called Kale.

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Slow Fire, the Beginner's Guide to Barbecue by Ray Lempe. Dr. BBQ teaches you how to you become the pitmaster. The basic equation is: a lesser cut of meat + a rub + a long, slow fire + a sauce = intensely flavored fare.


Rebecca @ Central


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The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

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Louise Brooks, silent film star, appears on the cover of, and within, an awful lot of books. Just released this June is Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone. This Huffington Post article features just some of the fiction, poetry and nonfiction with Brooks on the cover.

The Chaperone centers on the prim married woman from Kansas who accompanied 15 year-old silent film femme fatale Louise Brooks on her first trip to New York City in 1922, and spans the next six decades of the older woman's life.

Jacki @ Central


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Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates

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Mudwoman is not who you think she is. She calls herself M.R. Neukirchen, because that sounds more professional, more scholarly, fitting for the President of Cornell University; in fact, the first woman president of Cornell University. But as you get to know Mudwoman, you realize there is something not quite right, something frenetic. It could have something to do with the fact that her mother threw her into the mudflats at a local dumping ground, that she fell face down in the mud which was like quicksand and couldn't get up, that but for the kindness of a trapper who was led to her by the King of the Crows, she would be dead. Her sister wasn't so lucky - her mother locked her in a freezer at the dump - her body wasn't discovered until months later. Put into a foster home, her foster family didn't have their act very well together either. When Mudwoman hacks off the head of a fellow university professor, and then proceeds to saw him into little pieces, is this really happening, or is this just a bad dream? Okay, I'll admit that sometimes reading this book was like walking through mud, that at times I felt mired in mud. But there are parts of the book that were so beautiful to me. I mean, really, how well could anyone expect to be whose mother tried to drown her in mud. But M.R. Neukirchen is the first woman president at Cornell University. A true testament to Mudwoman's ability to overcome.

Mary @ Bay View


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God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet

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Victoria Sweet planned to practice medicine for only two months at San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital, but has stayed for more than 20 years at the last almshouse in the country. Once commonplace (Milwaukee County Infirmary closed in 1978), almshouses served the chronically ill who were too poor to afford a roof over their heads and no longer acutely ill to remain in hospitals. Laguna Honda had open wards, an aviary, garden and small farm to help patients recuperate and grow food.

In God's Hotel: A Doctor, A Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine Sweet argues that the economics-driven HMO model dominating our health care system focuses on short-term savings with drive-by appointments and short hospital stays that often boomerang into costly repeat hospitalizations. Writing about individual patients, she learned to spend more time diagnosing their conditions and treatments. Her research on Hildegard of Bingen and pre-modern medicine also encourage her to practice "slow medicine," which means patients stay in the hospital until they fully recover and can save money in the long run.

One of the amazing stories is the dying patient with no pulse, cold and clammy flesh, eyes rolled back and a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, but still breathing. Dr. Mack moved his leg and his eyes rolled forward and became clear. The patient and Sweet looked at each other in the eyes. You can guess, or better yet, read what really happened.

Readers and patients will find the annotated endnotes provide a good source of books, articles and documents on changes in our health care system during the past two generations.

Submitted by Van Lingle Mungo


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Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster

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Jen Lancaster's most recent book about the day to day accounts of her life keeps the reader laughing out loud. This time, she has delved into the oh so scary world of growing up in her memoir; Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult's Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development, Or Why It's Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner. Lancaster attempts to pursue adult activities in her unique wacky way although she really is trying her best to act mature about it (most of the time). From wearing a skirted bathing suit, to giving back to the community, to buying life insurance - many of us can commiserate with these experiences and laugh along. The reader will join Lancaster on her entertaining path to adulthood while she experiences her first mammogram and makes the grown-up leap into purchasing her first home in the suburbs. Additionally, each essay ends with a witty Reluctant Adult Lesson Learned such as, "If you're in the midst of a midlife crisis, you could buy a convertible, have an affair or upgrade your cup size. But you'll probably be happiest if you save a dog's life." The book is comprised of many short entries with some reading like a blog which makes sense considering some of these were taken from her blog www.jennsylvania.com.

This latest installment highlighting the zany but true experiences in Jen & husband Fletch's life is such an entertaining read, it was difficult to put down. If you have enjoyed Lancaster's other books, her blog or just like poking fun at others be sure to pick up or reserve a copy of Jeneration X at your local library.

Lori @ Central


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As the Pig Turns by M. C. Beaton

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Agatha is at it again with As the Pig Turns. When a petty police officer is brutally murdered, Agatha becomes a suspect of the police and at the same time a target of the real killers. While Agatha and her crew try to solve his murder, several more gruesome deaths occur. They uncover a sophisticated theft ring, fledgling meth labs and untrustworthy coppers.

Agatha Raisin is a bossy, irritating, self-centered, vain yet lovable British woman in her fifties. She had retired to the Cotswolds but started her own detection agency since murders seem to follow her. Watching her get in and out of scrapes is half the fun of reading these mysteries. This is the 22nd book in the series, and it does not disappoint. I love reading these British cozy mysteries because of the cast of characters; the vicar's wife, the kindly Mrs. Bloxby, quirky house guests, ex-boyfriends, an ex-husband and the local police force. Agatha has a softer side which is revealed in each new adventure. I highly recommend trying one of her stories. They are definitely fast reads!

Amy @ Atkinson


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Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an eye-opening book about life in one Mumbai slum written from the point of view of the people who live and work in it. Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo lived a great deal of the years 2007 to early 2011 in Mumbai interviewing and recording the lives and events of the Annawadi settlement in the shadow of the Mumbai airport. Her book is a marvel of non-fiction writing, reading almost like a novel.

The characters will stay with you - Abdul, a scavenger of garbage - Asha, a pragmatic woman who did what she had to to help her family - Manju, a young woman attending college against great odds, and many others. Boo did not inject herself into the story at all, to the point where I spent time online after reading it trying to find out more about her. Unlike many books of this type, she used real names and portrayed actual events meticulously, getting video and written documentation as well as petitioning for official records under the Indian equivalent of the US Freedom of Information Act to obtain evidence of proof of what she found, which included corruption at every level of human interaction and government.

She writes the stories of a group of people who worked harder and smarter than most anyone I've known to survive and to try to get a little bit ahead under the most appalling and trying of conditions. Filth, disease, suicide, crime and despair are documented as well as the small victories, perseverance, ethical dilemmas and the amazing resilience of the human spirit. I found the following quotation especially poignant:

"What was unfolding in Mumbai was unfolding elsewhere, too. In the age of global market capitalism....[p]oor people didn't unite; they competed ferociously among themselves for gains as slender as they were provisional. And this undercity strife created only the faintest ripple in the fabric of the society at large. The gates of the rich, occasionally rattled, remained unbreached. The politicians held forth on the middle class. The poor took down one another, and the world's great, unequal cities soldiered on in relative peace."

It made me realize anew how a galvanizing prophet and leader like Gandhi was so instrumental in uniting the people for effective change. It was also a revelation to me that the people of this settlement did not hate or resent those who were better off. They just wanted to find a way to do better for themselves, in any way they could find.

Pat @ Central
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From the very first chapter, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity was a book I didn't want to read. It was too depressing, too frightening, a book that makes you mad. It is the true story of life in a makeshift settlement on land near the Mumbai airport in India. The settlement is called Annawadi. The main characters include Abdul, a Muslim teen, who makes his living on other peoples garbage (he has been accused of setting fire to Fatima, a one legged neighbor woman), Asha, a woman trying to get to the top via political corruption who wants her daughter to become Annawadi's first female college graduate and Kalul, a scrap iron thief.

The description of how the children scavenged for garbage and the risks they took (many places were well guarded or had high fences) was unimaginable. There's an election in which only women are eligible to run, but even when one does it doesn't make a difference. Her employer actually runs the show in her name. Orphanages accept clothing at the front door and then sell it out the back door.

Katherine Boo, the author, is a reporter married to an Indian man. She spent more than twenty years reporting on poor communities in the United States before going to India to research this book. The conditions here are deplorable and so are the people who run things. Corruption is everywhere. The upside to the story is how enterprising these poor people can be in order to survive. An eye opening look into the underbelly of another land.

Lynn @ Center Street (April 23, 2012)



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American Grown by Michelle Obama

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First Lady Michelle Obama planted a kitchen garden on the White House's South Lawn in April 2009. All across the country people are talking about the food we feed our families, where it comes from, and how it affects the health of our children. With American Grown, Mrs. Obama lets us in the White House Kitchen Garden and shares its story, from the first planting to the latest harvest. She charms when sharing her worries, 'would the new plants even grow?' The photographs are gorgeous and you'll want to try the recipes created by White House chefs made with ingredients from the White House garden.

Jacki @ Central


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This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

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Marian Keyes, Irish author and reigning queen of Chick lit, uses humor and sharp prose in This Charming Man to address the issues of modern womanhood. While her writing style may appear light and humorous on the surface, she covers serious topics including alcoholism and domestic violence. Up-and-coming Dublin politician Paddy de Courcy has charmed many, but his true nature is revealed via the broken hearts he's left behind. Told in alternating viewpoints by four women (Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia), This Charming Man features one of the more unique romantic relationships the Chick lit genre has recently offered up.

Laura @ Central


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Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Once-Upon-a-River-198x300.jpg Margo Crane, a sixteen-year-old beauty from Michigan, finds her life in a tizzy after the violent death of her father. With no place to call home, she meanders the Stark River on a quest to find her long absent mother. The twists and turns she encounters on the river parallel the twists and turns of her own life. Wise beyond her years, Margo is a apt student of both human and Mother Nature alike. Strong, confident and scared, Margo is a modern day Twain character with a river beneath her and the stars above. Come hear the author of Once Upon a River, Bonnie Jo Campbell, speak at the Boswell Book Company at 7 p.m. June 8th.

Submitted by Dan @Central



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"Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us -- there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries." - Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Black Hole.jpg Death by Black Hole brings you well known astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson's favorite essays on the universe and our understanding of the cosmos. DeGrasse Tyson is a sort of astronomy superstar, having appeared on shows such as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. This collection of essays, many from his monthly column in Natural History, showcases his signature humor and ability to make complex concepts accessible to general readers. "Seeing Isn't Believing" is a personal favorite; it chronicles the many, many ways astrophysicists have been wrong about our universe prompting DeGrasse Tyson to wonder "whether there's an ongoing conspiracy designed to embarrass astrophysicists."

Read DeGrasse Tyson's works, then follow his twitter feed. You won't be disappointed.

Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos by Paul Murdin

secrets of the universe.jpg Highlighting discoveries that changed the course of history, Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos, is the perfect introduction to the world of astronomy. Chapters are arranged by type of discovery and feature wonderful color images, including satellite photography and historic prints and paintings.

Check out Secrets of the Universe and Death by Black Hole today and join us Tuesday, June 5th on the library's roof to watch the transit of Venus across the sun!

Watch the Transit of Venus
Tuesday, June 5th, 5:00 - 8:30 pm
Click here for more information.

Kristina @ Central


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Awards: Orange Prize; Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse

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American author Madeline Miller won the £30,000 (US$46,591) Orange Prize for Fiction, which "celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world," for her debut novel The Song of Achilles.

"This is a more than worthy winner--original, passionate, inventive and uplifting. Homer would be proud of her," said Joanna Trollope, chair of judges.

The Guardian reported that the judges "took about three hours to reach their decision before agreeing, at midnight, to award the prize to Miller.... Trollope described the final judging meeting as 'almost painful,' owing to the strength of the six books on the shortlist."

"To be candid, if this had been a weaker year any one of them could have won," Trollope said. "It was an extremely strong shortlist and I hope the breadth and the adventurousness of the settings and the subject matter puts to bed for ever the idea that women only write about domestic things. They are all to be commended."

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Terry Pratchett won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction for Snuff, his 39th Discworld novel. He will be honored June 6 at the Telegraph Hay Festival, where he will receive a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and a set of the Everyman Wodehouse collection. In addition, a locally bred pig will be named after the novel.

The Guardian noted that Pratchett has been shortlisted for the prize on three previous occasions. "There are so many things he does which Wodehouse did too," said Peter Florence, one of the judges and director of the Hay Festival. "It's not just the playfulness of the language--he's also quite patently satirical in the way Wodehouse was. Wodehouse was really hard on fascism. He wasn't simply writing a comedy of manners, and neither is Pratchett.... Both of their invented worlds are wrestling with the political realities of their times."

Jacki @ Central


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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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"Would you believe that all the gods that people have ever imagined are still with us today? ... And that there are new gods out there, gods of computers and telephones and whatever, and that they all seem to think there isn't room for them both in the world. And that some kind of war is kind of likely." - Shadow, American Gods, chapter 13.

The core narrative of American Gods is described in the above quote by the story's protagonist, an ex-convict named Shadow. He is released from jail several days early due to the unexpected death of his wife, and is quickly recruited to be a driver and bodyguard for the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday, who is attempting to muster the strength of the old gods to combat the newer, upstart gods.

The majority of the book is spent with Shadow and Mr. Wednesday as they drive across middle America. Gaiman uses several quirky roadside attractions as important settings, including the House on the Rock and its indoor carousel, located in western Wisconsin.

Running beneath the surface of the main storyline are several important themes, like what it means to be alive and how belief has the power to shape reality. Within the main story itself are several smaller vignettes, all about various individuals and how they and their gods came to America. These serve to illustrate another central idea of the book: Everybody has a story. Shadow's story takes him to places beyond imagination, and introduces him to a cast of characters that will not soon be forgotten.

Jen @ Washington Park


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