Jane Austen is having a great year.
Pride & Prejudice just celebrated the 200th anniversary of its printing , book and movie adaptions of all Austen’s works abound, and the author herself even made it on to Great Britain’s ten pound note (though that was not without some controversy). Austen, and her books, are more popular than ever. This is good news for those of us that just can’t get enough of her plucky heroines, dashing romantic leads, and biting social commentary.
The most noteworthy of recent adaptations is the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and it’s (brand-new) successor, Emma Approved. These adaptations, like the film Clueless, take place in the modern day. The characters, while familiar, have updated concerns, careers, graduate degrees, cell phones, and cars. But more importantly, both these series were developed for YouTube. Lizzie is a relentless vlogger (video blogger) getting a graduate degree in communications. Emma owns her own life-coaching business and is keeping a video diary to document her “greatness”. Both characters, their family, and friends tweet, create Polyvore albums, and post on Facebook. The stories are not confined to just one internet medium and that makes for a lot of interesting, interactive story possibilities.
It is a strange, but wonderful day, when you realize you are following Jane Bennet on Pinterest.
It is exciting to see literature engaging people in new ways. And more interest in reading is never a bad thing . . . speaking of which, if you are looking for other Jane Austen adaptations check out our Happy Birthday Jane Austen! list. It is sure to please event the most die-hard Austen fan.
I’m trying to read all the books that are possible contenders for the Printz Award (the award given by the American Library Association for the best fiction book for teens). Out of the Easy is one of those contenders and has great-word-of-mouth buzz, so I picked it up.
Jo, daughter of a prostitute, named after a madam, is coming of age in post-World War II New Orleans. Finding herself caught in two worlds, she is as comfortable reading poetry and working in a book shop as she is firing a shotgun and cleaning the brothel where her mother works. Desperate to get “out of the easy” and go to college, Jo goes up against obstacles including gangsters and her own mother, and finds help in unlikely places.
My Favorite Character
Willie, the madam who has a huge impact on the person Jo becomes, is fascinating. I wish she had her own novel so we could read her story.
Words to Live By
“I no longer wondered why Ray and Frieda were afraid of the dark. I was too.” – Jo
Anyone wanting to read a rich coming of age story with strong, believable characters. Anyone wanting a change of pace from teen fantasy and dystopia.
Jo’s New Orleans is richly drawn and filled with multi-faceted characters. The author does a good job of not creating caricatures, but rather well fleshed-out people whose presence makes Jo’s story come alive.
Extra CreditWant to know more about Out of the Easy? Here is author Ruth Sepetys talking about the world and people that inhabit her book:
You can find Out of the Easy at the Bellingham Public Library.
Like it or not, most of us do judge books by their covers. A good, well-designed cover can take a normal book and turn it into the season’s must-have best seller. Book covers not only sell books, but they also create exciting reading atmospheres in libraries, book stores, and in our homes.
Just ask Chip Kidd; He has designed many iconic book covers including Jurassic Park by Michael Crighton and Naked by David Sedaris. And, in the following TED Talk, he shares the joy of creating great work that also happens to be portable:
This is a big book and I expect nothing less from Wally Lamb! There are lots of different characters and many plots twisting and turning over decades.
This is the story Annie Oh and her family. Annie is an artist and mother, who at the start of the novel is preparing to marry her partner. This wedding brings up all kinds of issues and secrets for all the members of the family and the people in their lives. Each chapter is told in a different characters voice and it is fascinating how the author is able to give them each a distinctive voice and let their personalities shine though. There are so many issues dealt with like loss, abuse, anger, family dynamics, and the artistic process. It seems only fair to warn you, there are some tough things that come up and not all the characters are likable. In fact a couple are downright awful, but even so the author shows us their humanity.
My Favorite Character
My favorite character is Annie Oh’s son Andrew. He is an army nurse stationed in Texas and he is very conflicted about his mother and her upcoming marriage. His growth in the story is the most visible and he seems to change the most.
Words to Live By
“My dear, there are no coincidences. That’s just God’s way of remaining anonymous.”’
Those who have enjoyed Wally Lamb’s other novels or anyone who wants to sink their teeth into a big book with lots of characters and the twists and turns of a well written, multi-layered story.
This book is a fascinating and intense ride though a family’s history. I really liked the twists the story took and the interconnectedness of all the characters. I think that this will be a big hit when it is released today!
You can get We Are Water beginning today at the Bellingham Public Library.
Good gracious! Halloween is just around the corner and it is time to start thinking about costumes and candy. And, if you love making your own costumes, decorating your house, and carving kick-butt pumpkins, you should head down to the library. We have a lot of great Halloween materials to make your Halloween as memorably ghoulish as possible. Here are some of our favorite resources:
Special Effects Make-Up by Janus Vinther
From bullet holes to severed fingers, from slashed throats to wounds and burns, Special Effects is a complete easy-to-use guide to creating horrifying make-up.
Extreme Pumpkin Carving by Vic Hood
Step-by-step instruction and a gallery of intricately carved pumpkins. These aren’t your everyday jack-o’-lanterns but elaborate and complex pieces of art.
Maskwork by Jennifer Foreman
Stunning yet practical book that shows you how to design and construct theatrical masks.
Horrorgami by Chris Marks
If you thought origami was just about making peaceful cranes, flowers, and sailboats, you’re in for a wicked treat.
Bow Wow Wow! by Cathie Filian
Cool canine attire.
Want to see more? Check out our online All Hallows Eve list!
Getting often good reading recommendations is often hard. It can be hard for a librarian (or a friend, co-worker, etc) to pinpoint exactly what you, personally, like to read. You might like dark, compelling thrillers written in the first person or you might like more atmospheric books that focus more on setting and character development. While a good Reader’s Advisory librarian (ahem) can help you locate a great book, the Bellingham Public Library also has a great new tool that can help you find the perfect book from the comfort of your own home.
This new resource is call NoveList Plus. And it is awesome and free to use both in the library and from home.
NoveList Plus is a database allows you to find books based on individual characteristics (or “appeal terms”) that are more specific than normal genre classifications like science fiction or mystery. You can look for books that are dark, romantic, and set in Toronto or you can look for award-winning fiction that is fast-paced and compellingly written. You can also look up books that are similar to your favorite novel or author.
But that is not all!
You can also get series lists, author biographical information, recommended reading lists, book discussion guides, and much more. So check out it today!
The cover of Linwood Barclay’s, A Tap On the Window, alone is enough to grab the attention of a bookshelf browser. The picture on the cover has just a hand touching a car window, with a smattering of rain to suggest a dark, rainy night. I can see why the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” is remarkably accurate. This wasn’t the spooky genre I was expecting, it was more of an edge of your seat mystery. Just who is this teenage girl, Claire, who was hitching a ride so late at night? Can she help Cal Weaver find the answers he’s looking for regarding his son’s suicide?
The protagonist’s name is Cal Weaver, a private investigator. He’s introduced as the driver who picks up Claire Saunders. She knew Scott, his son, and Cal is hoping to find out if she knew anything about who sold his son the drugs that lead to his death.
What started out as an innocent trick on Claire’s part ended in her friend, Hannah’s murder. To top everything off, Claire disappears, leaving Cal to investigate. Still grieving over the loss of his son, and his strained relationship with his wife, he throws himself into the case. Where was Claire Saunders? Was she kidnapped, or did she need to escape from something sinister?
My Favorite Character
This may not sound very original, but I would have to say, Cal Weaver. He could be seen as an anti-hero, and yet any guy you could cross paths with in line at the coffee stand. He has a quick wit, and he pays sharp attention to details, which makes his a good P.I. Despite his sarcastic remarks and seemingly distant exterior, he is a caring person, which I believe he hides because he doesn’t think he deserves happiness. Most importantly, his character experiences much growth, and you will see a major difference in his choices from beginning to end.
Words to Live By
Cal Weaver: “You’ve been through this horrendous storm … But then the storm’s roar fades away and you think it’s safe to venture outside. The sun is coming out. You’ve lost a few trees, the power’s out, half the shingles on the roof have been blown off. But your still standing.”
If you like a good mystery with twists and turns, this book is for you. In the background there is some attention to the protagonist’s relationships, a strained one with his wife, and an antagonistic one with his brother-in-law. Verbal sparring is the game between the latter two; I know I enjoyed that immensely. So, if you like a few tears, smirking, and nail biting with your reading experience, read this book.
So, you can either answer that tap on the window, or drive off and miss out on this amazing story. The choice is yours.
You can pick up a copy of A Tap On the Window at the Bellingham Public Library.
Bellingham Public Library’s Summer Reading for adults ended a little over a month ago. And, sadly, today we will be featuring our last batch of featured reviews from program participants.
We have enjoyed reading all of the reviews we received this summer so please join us for Summer Reading again next year!
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
I recently read Sarah’s Key. It’s about a family in France during the Nazi regime who was part of the round up of Jewish families by French police who were then sent to concentration camps. I must say that once I started I could not stop. I read this book in two days, spending nearly an entire Saturday on my porch reading. The chapters are split between a present day journalist doing an article on the roundup and the young girl, Sarah, and her experience. It was a great book, graphic at times, but I was able to completely lose myself in the story. I would highly recommend for anyone interested in historical fiction!
Freakonomics by Steven J. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
A study in statistics that effect unanticipated social changes, Freakonomics gives us the reasons behind why crack dealers still live with their mothers, why crime dropped 30 years after abortion became “legal” and why parents’ success at shaping their children’s futures is already pretty much determined before the kid is born. Interesting and eye-opening even if the likes of boozer Bill Bennett take issue with some of the findings.
Figuring out which books are going to be good reads BEFORE they are released is, shockingly, very hard to determine–even for us super-librarians who are constantly looking for the next AWESOME BOOK.
Luckily, for both librarians and the general public, we have a new monthly list of good books called LibraryReads. LibraryReads is a list of the best new reads that are being released each month. The list is composed of books that were read, loved, and nominated by librarians across the nation. It is a great list that covers everything from literary fiction to hot non-fiction titles. There is sure to be something for every kind of reader each month!
October’s list is now available. Here are some highlights:
The Rosie Project by by Graeme Simsion
“Don Tillman, a brilliant geneticist, thinks that having women fill out a six-page, double-sided questionnaire before a date is logical and reasonable. Rosie Jarman, an impetuous barmaid, thinks Don should loosen up and learn to live a little. Follow the unlikely pair in this laugh-out-loud, feel-good story of unexpected joys, discovery and love.” ~ Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI
Longbourn by Jo Baker
“Using Pride and Prejudice’s familiar setting and characters, Baker tells a very different story of family, love and self-discovery. Bold and intelligent, Sarah is an orphaned housemaid whose days are filled with hard, body-punishing work. Baker doesn’t sugar-coat. A beautiful, uplifting novel full of mystery, hope and romance. Highly recommended for Austen fans and historical fiction readers.” ~ Jenifer May, Secaucus Public Library, Secaucus, NJ
Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway
“Ridgway has taken the ‘partner cops’ and ‘troubled cops’ sub-genres to new levels. Hawthorn is a haunted man with a callous worldview. Child is his apt foil: humane, funny and insightful. Set in contemporary London, the story draws readers quickly and completely into a complex, seedy world of crime, madness and despair.” ~ Margaret Donovan, Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, MA
We Are Water by Wally Lamb
“Annie Oh, a newly famous artist, sends her family into a tailspin when she announces her intention to marry her powerful gallerist, Viveca. While Annie’s husband Orion is devastated by the loss of his wife of 27 years, her children’s responses range from delight to denial. Good writing and distinct characters, personalities and voices.” ~ Katie Karkheck, Valley Cottage Library, Valley Cottage, NY