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Hear about the best books 2013 has to offer. Suggestions made by librarians Tom Olson and Jacki Potratz will make holiday gift-giving a breeze. This is your chance to ask questions before you buy. Many genres, as well as children's and young adult recommendations, will be presented. All books on display will be available for checkout. Preview the titles on our Give Books! 2013 Pinterest board.

Jacki @ Central

svconficover.jpgMillions of females across the world are familiar with the Wakefield twins, Jessica and Elizabeth. Author Francine Pascal has written (or at least attached her name to) numerous stories featuring the twins at a variety of ages from childhood to adulthood. I was a huge fan of the junior high series and read a good number of the high school books as well, so I was happy to get on the juggernaut one more time.

In Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later, Pascal has decided to revisit the twins as adults, ten years after high school. The whole cast is there from Jessica and Elizabeth to Todd, Bruce and Lila. This story centers around Todd and Elizabeth's long term relationship and what happens when Jessica betrays Elizabeth for the last time.

The beauty of the books is that even if you are like me and don't quite remember all the characters it is all good. Lots of back story is given, along with reminders of who people are. As long as you remember that Elizabeth is the good twin and Jessica is the "bad" twin you are as golden as their hair.

The plot, like all Sweet Valley books in any incarnation, is campy, dramatic and over-the-top. But, it is also a quick, enjoyable read that evens ends with a very detailed catch of all your favorite characters and then some. This is suburban fiction at its best.

Meredith @ Central


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Nov 13, 2012 at 7 pm Sherman Alexie at MPL

blasphemy.jpgSherman Alexie's Blasphemy collects short stories both old and new written by the PEN/Faulkner Award winning author. Touching on the subjects of race, love, revenge, addiction, infidelity, and even the cost of progress, Alexie's stories equally entertain as well as evoke deep emotions and thoughts. The power of Alexie's prose is great enough that the stories will resonate with you well after you've finished reading.

Author Sherman Alexie is coming to MPL! Meet the award-winning author and hear him discuss this new collection in Centennial Hall on Tuesday, November 13. Doors open at 6:30; presentation at 7:00, book sale and signing to follow. Program is proudly presented in conjunction with Boswell Books.

Tim @ Central



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The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank

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The Wonder Spot is a story of a woman and her journey to find her place and meaning in the world. Specifically it is the story of Sophie Applebaum, a Jewish girl from Pennsylvania, and her trials and triumphs that mark her life as she makes that metaphysical journey. We see her life through episodes, starting when she is in the seventh grade and a rebellious young girl preparing for her bat mitzvah, to her life in college with her improbably beautiful and captivating roommate, and beyond. Her life is like many others, there are bad decisions, bad relationships, moments of bliss and moments of true tragedy. The most dramatic moments happen in between episodes, Melissa Bank choosing to focus instead on the fallout and growth of Sophie as each event shapes her slowly into the self-accepting adult she is at the book's conclusion.

While slow to start, The Wonder Spot doesn't so much pick up the pace but instead the reader slowly becomes more involved and attached to Sophie, making the book compelling in a different manner. Bank also gives Sophie just enough wit and sarcasm to help add the right amount of levity to make the tone not overly self-serious. Anyone who has struggled with that all important question of finding self-importance in the overwhelming adult world will find comforting familiarity in Sophie's struggles and eventual success.

Tim @ Central

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Sophie Applebaum is the middle child in an average, barely-practicing Jewish family. When the story begins she's about 13 and must go to Hebrew school to have bat mitzvah, like her cousin Rebecca. Each chapter portrays a new stage in Sophie's life through her 30's. We are introduced to her friends and lovers, and like many young women, she isn't sure what she wants 'when she grows up,' so we watch her bumble through jobs, boyfriends, etc.

The wit that is inherent in Banks' writing is what made this book so easy to read. I zipped through in less than two days and lost count of the number of times I laughed out loud. Check catalog for availability. You may also enjoy The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank.

Jacki @ Central (2/25/2009)


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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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PLAY BALL!

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"You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen."
Joe DiMaggio

Opening day to most baseball fans is a rite of passage from winter doldrums to sports euphoria. It's an awakening. Hope springs eternal on Opening Day. To help celebrate the start of another baseball season, why not take a swing at some of these great baseball books available at the Milwaukee Public Library:

last hero a life.jpg As a 9 year old boy, I had the priviledge of seeing Hank Aaron play at County Stadium. I was aware of his greatness from the many stories my grandfather and dad bombarded me with most every time a Brewer hit a homer. Besides being a great player, Henry Aaron is a successful businessman, advocate for social equality and fearless role model and is truly a man to be admired. After reading this biography, I hope you'll agree. Check availability


Milwaukee Braves heroes.jpg The Milwaukee Braves won the World Series in 1957 behind the play of, amongst others, Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews, Warren Spahn, Bob Buhl and Johnny Logan. These guys couldn't buy a beer in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, subsequent years didn't pan out for the beloved Braves and they moved to Atlanta in 1966. Published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press and written by Mequon born author William Povletich, this attractive book is loaded with quotes, pictures and stories from the players. Check availability

baseball in beertown.jpg The first time I opened this book I saw a photo of Bonnie Brewer racing across the field holding her base-sweeping broom and I was hooked. Though this history only touches on the minor league Brewers for a scant few pages, i loved the chapters on the 70's and 80's Brewers. There is also a "On This Date" section that highlights some great moments in Milwaukee Baseball history by date. Pretty cool. Check availability.


where have you gone 82 brewers.jpg Published in 2007 in Stevens Point and written by longtime Milwaukee Journal Sentinel baseball writer Tom Haudricourt and with a forward by Bob Uecker, this nostalgic book features interviews from most of the 1982 American League Champion Milwaukee Brewers players. It offers up lots of tall tales and memories along with what the players have been up to in recent years. Many are still active in baseball through coaching, etc. My favorite is that reliever Randy Lerch operates and teaches how to run a backhoe! Check availability

Robin yount.jpg "The only way I get the most out of myself is to push myself as hard as I can, every pitch of every inning of every game."
Robin Yount, 1980
Published by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1992 to commemorate Robin Yount getting his 3000th hit in the big leagues, this excellent 80 page book lists every hit that Robin got by date, opponent and pitcher that he got the hit off. It's full of quotes and photos and is a fitting tribute to the classiest guy to ever wear a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. Check availability

billy goat curse.jpg It wouldn't be Opening Day without giving a nod to our divisional rivals from across the state line to the south. So for a good laugh, (or a good cry if you happen to be a Cubs fan) read about the famous "Cubs Billy Goat Curse" placed in 1945 by Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis and his goat after fans objected to the odor of the goat and they both were ejected from Wrigley Field during a World Series game against Detroit. Check availability.

BASEBALL FICTION

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Knife salesman Gil Renard is a BIG TIME fan of the Sox and their new star player Bobby Rayburn. Unfortunately, Bobby is in a huge hitting slump and Gil is NOT HAPPY. As Gil's life unwinds into complete insanity, one can only hope Bobby raises his batting average! This is a tightly written thriller that explores how some fans take it just a little too far. The film version features Robert DeNiro as a great Gil. Check availability.

bang the drum slowly.jpg When New York Mammoth's rookie catcher Bruce Pearson develops Hodgkin's Disease, star pitcher Henry Wiggen is the only teammate who knows about the terminal condition. Sometimes a rousing locker room baseball story, sometimes a mirror of our own mortality, this book is a winner, regardless of what happens to Bruce Pearson. Check availability.

Submitted by Dan@Central



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We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

We Need to Talk About Kevin.jpgIf you're willing to ponder the darker side of humanity, consider reading Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin.The narrator, Eva Khatchadourian was never completely sure she wanted to be a mother. She enjoyed the freedom that her career in travel writing afforded her, but it seemed inevitable that she would love her child as much as her she loved her husband. When she gave birth to Kevin, she felt an emotional numbness that she knew would dissipate as she got to know baby Kevin. When Keven cried all day, she tried to soothe him. When he refused to breast feed or engage in play, she questioned herself. When other parents didn't invite them back to play with their children, Eva knew why. When Kevin grew into a young man, things got even more difficult. Kevin is fiercely intelligent, but an unremarkable student. When he is out of sight, bad things happen to the people he's with, but nobody can ever prove he is at fault. Kevin's father readily accepts the excuses that seem so implausible in Eva's recounting. Kevin's power comes from a joylessness that leaves him indifferent to consequences. Eva's recounting of events makes you wonder who to believe in a family that's so divided. The book is as compelling as it is disturbing. Once you know Kevin, you'll never stop wondering about him.
A great book for discussion, We Need to Talk About Kevin has been adapted into a film featuring Tilda Swinton and John C Reilly. We Need to Talk About Kevin sold out in the 2011 Milwaukee Film Festival and is due for wide release in January of 2012.

Submitted by Anna @ Central

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