Sunday, September 23, 2012


I chose this audio book based on the cover and based on Neil Gaiman's reputation.  I loved his Newberry Award winning children's novel, The Graveyard Book.  I liked Stardust even better.

Gaiman is what I would call a master storyteller.  He takes a format that readers are already comfortable with, in this case the quest story or fairy tale, and makes it fresh and alive. 

Stardust is set in an English town called wall, for the stone wall that separates the town from Faerie.  For the most part, the one opening in the wall is well watched, keeping the two populations separate, but every seven years the Faerie folk hold a festival just beyond the wall and the mortals and magical mingle. 

The author reads the story for audio version, and at first I thought his reading a bit formal, but that impression lasted all of about three minutes.  Soon I was swept in by his voice and adjusted to his British accent. 

I looked up the story later to learn that the book is also available as a graphic novel and the story has been made into a movie with Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert De Niro.  I watched it last night, not expecting much as I new the plot details had been changed, but was pleased that the spirit of the story was for the most part intact.  The special effects and scenery were awesome.

The novel, audiobook and movie are all available at Peter White Public Library.  The graphic novel is available through interlibrary loan. 

EM--Reference Desk

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Love in a Nutshell

Janet Evanovich joined author Dorien Kelly to co-write a funny and romantic comedy entitled Love in a Nutshell.  The story begins when Kate Appleton arrives in Keene's Harbor, MI, to reclaim her family’s summer lake house and transform it into a modern bed-and-breakfast business. Kate loves the old family home and takes refuge there after a double whammy--her marriage ends in divorce and she’s fired from her job as magazine editor.

Shortly after she arrives in Keene’s Harbor, it becomes apparent that she must find a job if she is going to keep a roof over her head and update her home to create her bed-and-breakfast. Broke, Kate needs a job. She finally hears about one at the microbrewery. Owner Matt Culhane, who suspects an employee is sabotaging his brewery, hires Kate as a spy to infiltrate his employees and find the culprit.  She also wants to earn the special “finder’s” bonus of $20,000 to renovate her house.

But several problems present themselves. Kate despises beer. No one seems to trust her. And she is falling hard for her boss. Can these two find the saboteur, save Kate's family home, and keep a killer from closing in? And resist their growing attraction to one another?

Evanovich and Kelly worked well together to create a book filled with humor and appealing characters.  Love in a Nutshell is delicious fun to read or listen to.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Sandcastle Girls

“How do 1.5 million people die and no one hears about it?”  This is the question that puzzles Laura Petrosian, the modern day character in Chris Bohjalian’s book The Sandcastle Girls.  Inspired by his grandparent’s background, Bohjalian tackles the Armenian genocide that occurred as the Ottoman Empire crumbles at the start of World War I. 

This fascinating tale travels between Bronxville, New York in 2012 to Aleppo, Syria in 1915.  In this novel, a fictional American woman missionary, Elizabeth, comes to the aid of the people and falls in love with an Armenian man, Armen, whose family was part of the death marches out of Turkey into Syria.   Years later, her American granddaughter, Laura Petrosian, researches her family history and crafts a moving story which is a tribute to all those who have died. 

Elizabeth comes to Aleppo and joins in with her father in serving the people that are arriving there.  She stays pretty much confined to the American compound but does venture out to help in the hospital and in the orphanage.  The Armenians that arrive are just about dead on their feet.  The people are malnourished and in need of clothing.  In the city the orphanage for children is overrun by the stronger who prey on the weaker.  Officials say that they are going to help.  Robberies are commonplace.  No one can be trusted. 

In this situation, Elizabeth comes of age.  She falls in love with Armen, an Armenian engineer.  She puts herself into primitive conditions in the hospital and orphanage.  Her maternal instincts come out as she has one Armenian woman and one Armenian child stay with her in the American compound. 

Bohjalian brings forth a world that may seem daunting.  There is violence and struggles but the authors brings forth hope and goodness and the idea that love prevails in the telling of this amazing story.  Even when tragedy strikes there is always that hope that love will come again.  That is the beauty of the story.  Bohjalian tells this rich story with a sensitivity that respects the Armenian experieince.  Thus, I highly recommend  this novel, not necessary as a summer beach read but as a great read to better understand this topic.

A.B.--Technical Services

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Witness by Nora Roberts

The inside front flap and its accounting of the events first drew me to this Nora Roberts’ book.  In The Witness, Ms. Roberts begins the story of Elizabeth, a 16-year old young woman, who has excelled
academically, but is behind in interpersonal skills for teenagers.  Following a string of defiant acts, Elizabeth witnesses a double murder.  Murders that involve illicit activity and the Russian mafia. She runs to
the police who get her into the federal witness protection program.  As her eye-witness story proves unbreakable, the safe house is compromised. Two more murders at the hands of the Russian mafia and Elizabeth runs again.  This time she runs for her life; this time she disappears and goes into

Her hiding lasts for twelve years and undergoes numerous moves and identity changes. Just as she finds a place where she feels safe and loved, Abigail (aka Elizabeth) must make the BIG decision: does she come
out of hiding to aid the FBI in prosecuting this mafia group, does she continue her latest, new life and bring her new loved ones into danger, or does she run yet another time?

The novel was compelling and difficult to put down.  Ms. Roberts drew me into the story.  At times, I felt that I was there experiencing exactly what Elizabeth/Abigail was going through.

VM – Reference Desk

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

I was attracted to this novel because I am attracted to stained glass.  What surprised me was that the parts of the novel that take place outside the Tiffany studio were often my favorite.  In Clara nd Mr. Tiffany, author Susan Vreeland explores the relationship between previously little known designer Clara Driscoll and Louis Tiffany.  Under his employ, she designed most of the famous lamps commonly attributed to him.  While not at work, Clara spends her time with an eclectric group of creative individuals who live in the same bording house.  The events of the novel take place early in the twentieth century, enableing this group witnesses changing gender roles, the birth of sky scraper, bicycles, the first subway line and changing social expectations.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Mountain of Crumbs

When the children were hungry during the Russian Revolution, Elena Gorokhova's grandmother would break their bread into a mountina of crumbs to make a little seem like plenty.  In preschool Gorokhova learned about vranyo, a mutual understanding that everyone is pretending.  Vranyo seems to be the glue that holds her whole world together.

A Mountain of Crumbs is Gorokhova's memoir of growing up in the Leningrad during the cold war.  Beautifully written, this book takes us through familiar coming of age territory but is a setting where none of the stuff of childhood and adolesence (shoes, toys, bluejeans or books) is taken for granted. 

A Mountain of Crumbs is the Fall 2012 One Book One Community Read selection for Marquette. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Smile as Big as the Moon

A Smile as Big as the Moon is the first person account of high school special education teacher Mike Kersjes's amazing journey with his students from an isolated classroom in Grand Rapids to Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The strength of this book is the story, not the style.  Kersjes idea, that his class of special needs kids would benefit from participating in Space Camp with the brightest and most advantaged kids in the country, was not supported by his school principal or even the special education superintendent.  But he persisted and proved that given a chance, these kids could be successful. 
The events in this book took place in 1988-1989.  The book was orignally published in 2002.  It came to my attention about a couple of weeks ago when a patron told me about the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on this story.   I wanted to read the book first so I would know which parts of the movie were true.  As it turns out, the movie is mostly true to the book.  One of the neatest things about the movie is the casting of the kids in Kersjes's class.  Many actually had the same challenges as the characters they were portraying. 

E.M. -- Reference Desk

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Best of 2011

(The following Best of 2011 list was orginally published in the Marquette Mining Journal.)

Goodbye 2011, hello 2012! The New Year is already upon us, so this is an excellent time to look back at the best new books I have personally read in the last year. Working at the Peter White Public Library provides a great opportunity to see all the new and interesting books that come in, and I’m always on the lookout for something good to read. Here is my Top 5 from 2011, and just for fun let’s make it a countdown.
5. Mission of Honor by David Weber – This is the twelfth book in the acclaimed military science fiction series, and it may have been the best one yet. For those who don’t know, The Honor Harrington series is basically Horatio Hornblower in space. If you are looking for a new series to read for 2012, you may want to take a look at this series. It should appeal to all military and science fiction fans.
4. The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It by Scott Patterson – This book provides an incredible inside look at the enigmatic world of the top hedge fund managers on Wall Street.  This is certainly one of the more interesting books of 2011, and if you have ever seen a Wall Street executive on C-SPAN being grilled in front of Congress and wondered how he got where he is today, The Quants is the book for you.
3. Life Itself by Roger Ebert – Ebert is one of the greatest newspaper writers of all time, not just one of the greatest film critics. This memoir tells his entire story, from when he was a small boy growing up in Urbana, Illinois all the way to his much publicized fight with thyroid cancer and beyond.  Ebert also writes about his favorite actors and directors and his decades long battle with alcoholism.
2. Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN  by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales – If you are like me and have been watching ESPN for years then this is a must read. Did you know that ESPN stand for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network? Were you aware of the rampant allegations of sexual harassment in the early days of the company? There are a lot of things you would never have guessed about one of the most successful cable companies of all time, and if you want to know more then you need to definitely give this a try.
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – When I pulled this book out of the bin one Saturday morning did I know this would be the best book I would read all year? No, but after reading the inside cover I knew it would be one of the most interesting. The story takes place in the year 2044, and the real world is falling apart, so everyone is logged into a virtual reality network called OASIS which has supplanted reality in every aspect. People go to school, have jobs and spend the majority of their lives on OASIS. When the billionaire creator dies and leaves his fortune to one lucky individual who can solve an in-game quest, it sparks a worldwide hunt that has real world implications. This book will appeal to any science fiction fan, or anyone interested in the future. It is jammed full of sci-fi and 80’s references. If you read this you will not be disappointed.
B. S. – Circulation Department