The Gentleman Recommends: Jesse Ball

Book cover for a Cure for Suicide by Jesse BallWhile making for the nearest suitable reading cubby, I hold my chosen novel aloft as a means of recommending it without the need for electricity or wires (though, to be fair, I often employ a complicated series of large wires and pulleys to ease the burden of its weight upon my musculature and indeed have been researching the possibility of adding an electric motor to my contraption). This month’s recommendation did cause me some consternation, though. Fine book though it is, “A Cure for Suicide” is a title apt to raise eyebrows among those that don’t wish to see you dead. I bypassed this conundrum by merely regularly exclaiming, “Fear not for my well-being – this is a novel. I do not intend to curtail my glorious traversal through this magnificent existence!” My calls, in addition to allaying concerns and dispelling confusion as to why such a distinguished gentleman might consider cutting short his glorious traversals, earned me wide, respectful berths, providing me expedited arrival to the nearest cozy chair or nest of pillows and wigs (wigs are soft) that I’ve secreted around town so that I might recline comfortably with my reading material.

Onlookers’ dismay aside, reading Jesse Ball’s newest novel was a pleasure. Not only was it a fancy book, indicated clearly by the significant amount of blank space between most of the paragraphs, but it was also good. And that blank space wasn’t just indicative of fanciness and the author’s and publisher’s contempt for trees but was actually a useful style choice that emphasized the elegiac tone of the work and its fable-like qualities.  And, as time passes, this novel continues to provide fodder for my mind monkeys to vigorously pull their various levers and add coal to their various furnaces. (Editor’s note: this book made the gentleman think.)
Continue reading »

Reader Review: Saga

Book cover for Saga, Volume IA fun, sprawling sci-fi comic book series about a forbidden love between children of two warring factions. The story is told using the humorous voice of the two lovers’ (not yet born) daughter. A heavy dose of humor, fantasy, violence and a little more nudity than necessary makes up this series. The universe in which the story is set contains some very imaginative characters, alien races, technologies and socio-political structure. It is probably the most entertaining fictional universe I have encountered since Star Wars. The story itself is ok, but the characters that fit into the story are the best part. My favorite pair of characters is a bounty hunter and his pet that looks like a lion, hired to track down these forbidden lovers. The cat has a special power where it is compelled to purr the word “lyyyyying” whenever someone is not telling the truth. This, among other quirks, keeps the reader on their toes while the story takes tremendous twists and turns. Note, the story is not finished yet, but at least the first four volumes are available from the DBRL.

Three words that describe this book: Cosmic, imaginitive, humorous

You might want to pick this book up if:

  • You are ok with HBO-type mature themes.
  • You enjoy large space operas with fun new universes.
  • You want to see one of the most exciting new comics currently out there.
  • You are ok with not having the complete story available yet, as new issues are still being created.

-Kevin

Cooking With Kids

Photo of child's hands mixing doughSmall children are naturally curious about what goes on around them, and this extends to what is going on in their kitchens at home. After all, they see their parents make what may seem mysterious efforts to prepare meals and snacks, as they orchestrate over counters, the stove and in the oven. Most wee ones get started in the kitchen when they crawl to a lower cabinet door and pull out pots and pans with which to play. (I believe this is where their first music lessons happen as well – bang, bang, bang!) I know my two boys spent plenty of happy time on the kitchen floor with pots, wooden spoons and measuring cups, to name a few of the culinary tools they got to try early on.

Book cover for Pretend Soup by Mollie KatzenFour or five years of age is not too young to allow children into the kitchen to help out in some capacity, even if it’s just mixing pancake batter in a bowl or adding sugar to hot chocolate. There are benefits to children helping in the kitchen, beyond the reward of preparing and eating their own meals. My mother gifted us “Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes, delightfully written and illustrated by Molly Katzen, when my boys were early elementary school age. It provided a pleasant entrée into the world of cooking together as a family. Favorite recipes were: Green Spaghetti (can you guess what makes it green?), Carrot Pennies and Hide and Seek Muffins. Here at your library there is a wide assortment of cookbooks calibrated for young chefs at various age levels with adult supervision factored in, so check them out if you’re in the need of a little inspiration. And there’s even a cookbook that lines up with our summer reading theme of superheroes: “The Official DC Super Hero Cookbook” by Matthew Mead.
Continue reading »

New DVD List: House of Cards Season 3 & More

house of cards s3

Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles in fiction and nonfiction recently added to the library’s collection.

house of cards season 3House of Cards
Season 3
Website / Reviews
Series 3 of the drama about a ruthless congressman and his equally ambitious wife who navigate the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. It begins with Frank as President of the United States after his recent inaugiration and continues with him trying to maintain a hold on his country.

remote area medicalRemote Area Medical
TrailerWebsiteReviews
Playing at the 2013 Citizen Jane Film Festival, this film follows a group of volunteer healthcare providers who organize a pop-up clinic at a NASCAR speedway in Bristol, TN. Over three long days, the dedicated staff gives treatment to 2,000 people from the surrounding area who cannot otherwise afford it for various conditions.

bronx obamaBronx Obama
TrailerWebsiteReviews
Playing at the 2014  True/False Film Fest, this film tells the strange and improbable tale of a Barack Obama impersonator. When Louis Ortiz shaved off his goatee one day in 2008, his life changed forever. He looked in the mirror and he didn’t see himself, a middle-aged, unemployed Puerto Rican father from the Bronx. He saw the face of change, of hope, of money.
Continue reading »

Reader Review: The Little Paris Bookshop

Book cover for the Little Paris BookshopThe Little Paris Bookshop” is about the book seller, Jean Perdu, who sells only the correct books to his customers at his literary pharmacy. (This is a book shop on a barge on the Seine River in Paris.) Monsieur Perdu is able to “transperceive” each of his customers (and others) to prescribe the correct book to fix what ails them. He generously gives books away, but he is equally stern in refusing to sell the wrong book to a particular client. Success in his work life is juxtaposed against the anguish, loneliness and pain in his private life resulting from a severely unmendable broken heart. The mood is magical, the characters profound, the sensual presentation of the story causes one’s heart to move along the story line as if it were on a roller coaster. To accompany Jean Perdu on his life journey is a sublime experience.

Being a translation from French, I want to brush up on my French and read it in the original language because I cannot imagine how it could possibly be better than this marvelous translation. I am not sure how to do it, but this book would be a perfect candidate to nominate for a future One Read! Yes, I liked it!

Three words that describe this book: patient, tragic, literature

You might want to pick this book up if: you want to read an amazing book, you like books set in France or foreign countries, or you have known the power of a certain book on your life.

-Pam

Staff Book Review: Traitor’s Blade

Book cover for Traitor's BladeTraitor’s Bladeby Sebastien De Castell

Why I Checked It Out: Three best friends, roaming the kingdom, looking for justice and purpose? With swords? I’m in.

What It’s About: In the European-esque, medieval setting, the Greatcoats greatly resemble Jedi Knights. These men and women are skilled warriors, but they are more concerned with upholding the King’s Law and keeping peace among all the ambitious dukes and duchesses of the land. Or at least they were, until the death of the King and the end of his enlightened law.

Now Falcio, Kest, Brasti and the rest of the Greatcoats are disgraced and scattered, taking what work they can and struggling to finish the enigmatic final tasks left to them by the King.

Why I Recommend It: I read this book in a day. And then I could not start another book because I was convinced nothing would be as good.

The story begins by launching the reader directly into the action and never really lets up.  The reader learns of the rise of the King, the formation of the Greatcoats and their subsequent fall, all through flashbacks that span the entirely of the book. These flashbacks are well-timed and an excellent device. By the time you learn how the King died, you care for him as much as Falcio did, and his loss is all the more heartbreaking.
Continue reading »