Remembering Pete Seeger

Originally posted on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 at ROPL.org.

Legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died January 27, 2014. He was 94. Visit the library and check out our display of music and books about and by Pete Seeger. Our collection includes Alec Wilkinson’s biography of Seeger: The Protest Singer; children’s books: Abiyoyo and One Grain of Sand; and cds: The Essential Pete Seeger, Birds, beasts, bugs & fishes, little & big, and others. And why not learn to play the banjo with the DVD version of Seeger’s famous book: How to Play the 5-String Banjo.

For more on Pete Seeger, check out these obituaries and links.

Books into Movies: 2014 Oscars and more!

Originally posted on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 at ROPL.org.

It seems more and more books are being made into movies, and this year several of them were nominated for the Oscars. Check out the list of books we have that were adapted into nominated films. And be sure to check out the list of movies based on books coming out throughout 2014!

Oscar nominated movies and their books:

  • 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
  • Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela (version for children)
  • Captain Philips: A Captain’s Duty by Richard Philips
  • Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
  • Monuments Men by Robert Edsel (on order)
  • American Hustle: The Sting Man by Robert W. Greene (available from other libraries)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street and Catching the Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort (available from other libraries)

Coming in 2014:

  • Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
  • A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
  • Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
  • Serena by Ron Rash

Something for Downton Abbey lovers!

Originally posted on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 at ROPL.org.

Do you love Downton Abbey? Want more? While you’re waiting for those DVDs to come in (or for the new season!), why not check out some of these books, dvds and cds!

Inspired by/related to Downton Abbey:

  • Upstairs & Downstairs: an illustrated guide to the real world of Downton Abbey by Sarah Warwick
  • The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
  • Below Stairs: the classic kitchen maid’s memoir that inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey” by Margaret Powell
  • Behind The Scenes At Downton Abbey by Emma Rowley
  • While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax
  • Summerset Abbey by TJ Brown
  • Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey: (a parody) by Camaren Subhiyah (Graphic Novel)
  • Habits of the House by Weldon, Fay
  • Secrets of Highclere Castle (DVD)

Similar setting/time period as the show, but not limited to England:

  • The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
  • The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
  • The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell
  • The Bolter by Frances Osborne
  • Into the Silence: the Great War, Mallory, and the conquest of Everest by Wade Davis
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (available on DVD)
  • Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace by Kate Summerscale (CD)
  • The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
  • Howard’s End by E.M. Forster
  • Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
  • The Children’s Book by AS Byatt

It’s Awards Season: The YA Book Awards Round Up

Originally posted on Monday, 27 January 2014 at ROPL.org.

Marcus Sedgwick won the 2014 Michael L. Printz Award for Midwinterblood. Four honor books were selected: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell; Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal; Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner; and Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool (tween fiction, also available on audio).

Markus Zusak (The Book Thief) was awarded the 2014 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime contribution in writing for young adults.

Three Coretta Scott King honor books were announced, including one YA BOOK: Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn won the William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens. Here are the four remaining finalists: Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian; Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos; Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross (on order); and In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein won the teen category of the The Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills and Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (replacement ordered) both won the Stonewall Book Award for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience. There were also three honor books, including two for teens: Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington (nonfiction); and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (Knopf).

Other awards included the Pura Belpré Author Award, which went to Meg Medina’s book Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Three honor books were selected, including YA title The Living by Matt de la Peña.

Staff Review: The Clockwork Scarab

Originally posted on Friday, 24 January 2014 at ROPL.org.

By Colleen Gleason
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Review by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian

Are you a fan of the BBC Sherlock? Do you like books with clever, snarky and brilliant main characters? Look no further than Colleen Gleason’s new series: Stoker & Holmes. Meet our two heroines: Evaline Stoker (sister to the famous Bram Stoker of Dracula fame) and Mina Holmes (niece of famed consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes and daughter of the illusive Mycroft Holmes). The two teenagers team up to solve crimes in the name of queen and country. Or least that’s what Gleanson promises us.

Book 1 of Gleanson’s series, titled The Clockwork Scarab, introduces us to Evaline and Mina, along with a cast of characters including a time traveling American, a detective named Grayling and a thief named Pix who is not who he seems to be (plus a few other surprises for the Sherlock Holmes and Dracula fans).

The Clockwork Scarab is set in London, though not the one found in much historical fiction. Instead, her world is a steampunk world that doesn’t use electricity (there was some drama on the continent involving Edison). But it’s not pure steampunk, either. Gleason pulls from a variety of genres including (but hopefully not limited to) vampires, time travel and the resurrection of Egyptian gods.

While not my favorite re-imaging of the world of Sherlock Holmes, The Clockwork Scarab makes up for it’s shortcomings by having fantastic characters and an engaging plot. If you enjoy a good romp through steampunk London and a mystery, you’ll enjoy Gleanson’s story. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for book two.

Staff Review: The Theory of Everything

Originally posted on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at ROPL.org.

By Kari Luna
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Review by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian

Kari Luna’s young adult novel, The Theory of Everything is full of just that — everything. And I loved every second of it. The story revolves around Sophie Sophia and her search for her missing father, a physicist. Sophie’s father disappears on occasion and when we enter the story, he’s been gone for some time. But that’s not all of Sophie’s problems. Kari Luna’s novel, which starts simply enough, mixes reality and fantasy in a subtle and fantastically fun way.You see, Sophie’s problem isn’t just that she’s obsessed with music from the eighties (especially mixtapes) and has a missing father — Sophie sees things that aren’t there.

What does she see? A talking panda. His name is Walt and he’s her shaman and guide. But these things she sees (not just Walt, but others things too, which Luna artfully describes throughout the novel) are things no one else can see. They’ve caused her problems as she grows and now, at 14, her mother had hoped she’d grow out of them. But she hasn’t and that’s when she meets Walk and Finny. Unlike Walt, Finny’s a human boy, the same age as Sophie (14). And, unlike most of the people in her life Finny likes her (and believes her). And it’s Finny who goes with her on their spontaneous 20 hour train ride to New York City, in search of Sophie’s missing father.

The Theory of Everything may sound cheesy and ridiculous, but it’s none of those things. It’s thoughtful and moving. It’s full of parents and people who care (there are consequences to Finny and Sophie’s road trip, they are just 14 after all). But it’s also full of love and hope. Luna’s writing is fun, light hearted, but serious when it matters. I loved The Theory of Everything because it was a perfect little book of joy — in spite of the heartbreak that is occasionally sprinkled through out it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 14, 34 or 54 — there’s something for everyone to love in Luna’s novel.

Staff Review: The Ghost Bride

Originally posted on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at ROPL.org.

By Yangsze Choo
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Review by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian

Recommended to me by a friend, this debut novel set in colonial Malaysia is more than just a ghost story. It’s also the story of a strange, otherworldly romance (of a kind). The novel is about Li Lan, the daughter of a Chinese immigrant who was once quite wealthy. For a variety of reasons, her family has lost all their money and are now just barely making ends meet. One day, Li Lan’s father asks her if she’d like to be a ghost bride — and that’s just the beginning of the story.

Ghost marriages, Li Lan tells us, are commonly for couples who have both died young. But in her case, she’s still alive and is asked to marry the dead son of the Lim family — who are very rich. If she were to consent to the marriage, her family would be able to survive in a much more comfortable fashion. Li Lan’s adventures begin when she starts seeing her fiancé (Tian Bai) in her dreams as he attempts to seduce her. But the story doesn’t in there, as Li Lan drifts further and further into the spirit world, she begins to uncover secrets she was never meant to know — those about her mother and the Lim family she is to be married into.

Yangsze Choo’s writing is exceptional, especially considering this is her debut novel. Li Lan is a sympathetic character and you want things to work out for her. Choo’s descriptions of Malaysia (both the real world that Li Lan lives in and the sprit world she’s caught up in) are vivid and engrossing. Li Lan’s struggles with Tian Bai (her supposed fiancé) are the driving force behind the novel, but they are not the only force. Choo gives us an alternative to Tian Bai found in Li Lan’s guardian spirit Er Lang.

Those looking for fantasy with a twist of romance will enjoy the unexpected relationship and banter that develops between Er Lang and Li Lan. Choo’s characters are so exquisitely written that we cannot help being caught up in their stories (from the Lim family’s deceptions to the woman who raised Li Lan). The Ghost Bride is a both a romance and a mystery. Li Lan must force herself to grow up and decide just how much of her life (if any) she’s willing to sacrifice. Even if you have no interest in ghost stories, pick upThe Ghost Bride. It’ll suck you right in and you won’t great your time.

Staff Review: Five Star Billionaire

Originally posted on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at ROPL.org.

By Tash Aw
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Review by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian

Before picking up Tash Aw’s novel, I’d never read any of his books. It was the cover, of all things, that attracted me to the novel. As someone who’s interested in Chinese pop culture, a novel that involved a pop star intrigued me. I got more than just that story, of course. Five Star Billionaire is more than just a novel about one person, instead, it’s the lives of five young adults who end up in Shanghai for various reasons. The novel is told in alternating chapters, with the billionaire of the title inserting himself occasionally into the storyline, though his presence grows as the novel progresses. Although the stories are independent, they share a few things in common (not just the location). They are all stories of growth (though not always for the good).

What makes Five Star Billionaire so good is Aw’s ability to weave all of his stories together into one elaborate narrative. Although the characters who narrate the story never quite come in contact with each other (save through the billionaire himself), Aw manages to make it clear that they are all connected. He builds each of the character’s lives in such a way that we care about them — and so we can recognize them (they often go unnamed when they appear outside of their individual stories).

Throughout the novel, Aw sprinkles tidbits of Chinese (and Taiwanese) pop culture which many people won’t recognize — and it won’t take away from your enjoyment of the novel. But for the people who do (and I caught some, though not all, of the references) it’s one more thing that makes Aw’s book so good. Where Kevin Kawon’s Crazy Rich Asians (about Chinese immigrants to Singapore and old money) is an amusing romp through the worlds of the uber rich, Five Star Billionaire is a study in new money and trying to make money in the fast moving world of Mainland China. That’s not to say that it’s not fun or funny, because it is. But there’s a hint of desperation that runs deep throughout all of the characters in Five Star Billionaire (including our billionaire himself).

The conclusion to the novel comes swift and while each story resolves in one way or the other, Gary’s story (the pop star) was my favorite. Highly recommended, especially if you have an interest in China. But even if you don’t, Aw’s story shares the universal desire to better oneself and fulfill your dreams, even if sometimes those things are at odds with each other.

Staff Review: Sunny, Vol. 1

Originally posted on  Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at ROPL.org.

By Taiyo Matsumoto
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Review by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian

Taiyo Matsumoto’s newest series to be translated into English is Sunny. The second volume comes out at the end of 2013 and third in 2014. Sunny is about kids, but it is not for kids. It’s the story of kids (young adults to little kids) who live in what appears to be a foster home, called Star Kids. Matsumoto fills the home with kids who are from different walks of life, but who all have their own sets of problems. The first volume of Sunny explores these stories, but leaves you longing for more (and luckily we’ll be getting more).

While the story (like much of Taiyo Matsumoto’s work) is strong, it’s really the illustrations that bring the book to life. The graphic novel itself is in black and white, as with most manga. But sprinklered through out the story are panels that are in vivid colors — it makes you feel like the whole thing is in color. Taiyo Matsumoto’s drawing is exceptional and his characters are as real as if you were watching them on screen.

The home is the central location of the first volume, but the title comes from the car many of the children hide in. It’s named Sunny and serves as a clubhouse/safe place to hide, to smoke to pretend the kids are anywhere else. The stories take place in and around Sunny, as much as they take place in and around the home. We get a glimpse into the lives of these children, and while many of them are miserable, they are full of life.

If you like Sunny, look forward to the new volumes and be sure to check out Taiyo Matsumoto’s other works, they’re different from Sunny but the art and stories are always excellent.