Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Mad About the Boy book coverFirst Impressions
I suspected when I picked up Mad About the Boy, just as with the previous Bridget Jones novels, I would be in for a treat full of chaotic experiences and random Jonesey thoughts.  I was definitely correct in that assumption.  Bridget’s diary entries begins with one of her famous lists, that she rarely ends up following.  Yes, Bridget Jones inner dialogue supports her character’s tendency to obsess about every little thing, which more often than not ends up turning into outer humiliation.  I knew this book would leave me in tears of laughter.

Drive-By Summary
A spoiler was released regarding the love of Bridget’s life, Mark Darcy.  In case you have not yet been spoiled, I will just say she and Mark are not together in this novel.  From the very beginning, it’s obvious Bridget is a single parent raising two children, Billy and Mabel.  Many of the humorous hijinks involve her children.  From nits, to Xboxes, to clothing covered in chocolate, to the perfect nanny, this story will have you rolling on the floor laughing.  Bridget is now in her fifties, trying to navigate her way through the current trends in dating; including texting, tweeting, and dating websites.  We can’t help but feel Bridget’s insecurities as if they were our own.  We want to cry over her bad luck, and yet laugh over the absurdity of it all.  Bridget wears her heart on her sleeve for all to take, and we gladly accept it, giving her ours in return.

My Favorite Character
I love Bridget Jones.  That’s more often than not a given, considering she’s the main character, however, my favorite secondary character is Mr. Wallaker.  He has such wit underneath that business like exterior.  He’s actually quite down to earth, although Bridget doesn’t see him that way.  Of course, Bridget has never been the best at reading people.  With Bridget’s sweet, yet tough inner core, and Mr. Wallaker stuffy, yet humorous outlook, make for excellent characters.

Words to Live By
Bridget Jones: “…I was FRIGHTENED of you because you were perfect, because it made me feel so not perfect.”

Chloe: “But, I always think YOU’RE perfect!”

This just goes to show that we are all equally perfect and not perfect.  One person’s perfect, is another person’s imperfect.

Recommended For
Even though those of the male gender can enjoy this, it is definitely more relatable to women.  Especially those who are single parents, though I’m not, and found it just as relatable.  So, I suppose anyone who finds humor in everyday life, even in things that we don’t laugh at now, but later.

Final Say
Life is full of seemingly random, insignificant moments that often turn out to be rather important down the line.  They can be sad or just outright hilarious.  Mad About the Boy, magnifies these little moments into a big beautiful picture.  So, pick up a pair of bifocals, and experience life through the eyes of Bridget Jones; it’s a journey not to be missed.

You can find Mad About the Boy at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Laura

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle Book CoverFirst Impressions
Enticing and progressive, the world of The Circle easily swept me up with its expansive setting and exploration of ideas.  Despite not having a lot of character development, I was pretty enamored of this book, and it is only fitting that I then review it online.

Drive-By Summary
Mae Holland is a young college graduate hired to work for the Circle – an elite, modern technology company intent on expanding their empire to consolidate all social media, finance and browser services.  Eager to please, Mae takes on increasing responsibilities ranging from training other employees to sending out a minimum quota of “Zings” – akin to broadcasting her every action via Facebook or Twitter.

When The Circle launches SeeChange, a groundbreaking personal security and surveillance service, it is adopted rapidly and without question – but at what point does the guarantee of security become worth the total sacrifice of privacy?

My Favorite Character
My favorite character is Eamon Bailey, one of the Three Wise Men who make up the Circle’s leadership team.  As the benevolent and smiling “human face” of the Circle, Eamon has an unwavering faith that their technological innovations will cure disease, oust corrupt politicians and put an end to child abductions.  A champion of transparency and information sharing,  Eamon personifies the notion that the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

Words to Live By
““Okay.  So your second screen will continue to be the way you’ll stay in touch with your team.  That will be exclusively for Customer Experience [sic] business.  Your third screen is for your social participation, in the company Circle and your wider Circle.  Does that make sense?”

“It does.”

Mae watched Gina activate the screen, and felt a thrill.  She’d never had such an elaborate arrangement before.  Three screens for someone so low on the ladder!  Only at the Circle. ”

Recommended For
If you’ve ever wondered if you should curb your online presence, are interested in start-up culture, human connection and communication, or dystopian futures, read this book.  You will find this fast paced novel fascinating, even if it veers toward absurdist extremes.

Final Say
If you find your interest in internet culture and technology piqued, you may also want to check out a copy of The Boy Kings by Katherine Losse.  Published last year, The Boy Kings details Losse’s account of being hired as Facebook employee #51, and her experiences working for customer service in both a rapidly booming and male dominated workplace.

The Circle experienced some initial controversy as Losse accused Eggers of lifting parts of his new novel from her non-fictional work, but this was soon dampened by Eggers’ retort that he had not even heard of The Boy Kings, let alone read or stolen from it – a different kind of zing!  Eggers avoided touring any internet or tech companies or interviewing any of their employees while writing his novel, so I would recommend reading these in tandem.

The Circle is waiting for you at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Nicky

World Book Night Approaches

World Book Night logoGetting a free book is maybe the best thing in the world–especially if you love reading.  But, as I have recently discovered, GIVING away free books you love is even more awesome.  Not only do you get to make someone’s day, you also get a chance to spread the love of reading in the most personal way possible.

Which, coincidentally, is the goal of World Book Night: Spreading the love of reading, person to person.  Every year, on April 23, World Book Night book givers take to the streets and hand out free copies of their favorite books to light or non-readers in order to get them excited about reading.  It is a fun way to spend an evening and you meet all sorts of interesting folks.

The Bellingham Public Library is  pleased to announce that we will once again be pick-up location in 2014.  So if you love reading, like talking about books, and want to help spread the book love with your local library, please consider becoming a book giver!  All you need to do is fill out a World Book Night Book Giver Application, choose a pick-up location (pick us! pick us!),  and select a book from the 2014 World Book Night Selection List.

Easy, right?  We will see you on April 23, 2014.

 

 

Not Just for Teens: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing book coverFirst Impressions
David Levithan’s novel Every Day is one of my all-time favorites. I knew I had to read this highly buzzed about novel as soon as it came out!

Here is a great interview with David Levithan that discusses Two Boys Kissing  in some detail: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/10/24/david-levithan-explores-gay-teenage-love-in-two-boys-kissing/

Drive-by Summary
The story of two high school students, former boyfriends Craig and Harry, who are trying to break the Guinness World Record for longest kiss, intersects with the concurrent activities of other, local young gay men: an established couple, a new romance and a disassociated young man. All the stories are told through the omnipotent narration (or chorus) of an earlier generation of gay men, many of whom lost their lives to AIDS.

My Favorite Character
Avery, a trans boy with pink hair who falls for Ryan at gay prom.

Words to Live By
“One of the kids who asks to pitch in is eleven years old. His name is Max, and his dad brought him to see this.

Max is a marvel to us. He will never have to come out because he will never have been kept in.”

– The Chorus

Recommended For
Anyone who likes stories of love and perseverance. Of stories that transcend gender or sexual orientation. This is not a “gay” story; it is a love story.  (Actually, multiple love stories.)

Final Say
The chorus might turn some people off, and I’m not sure if the chorus’ character (as it is, in fact, a character in this story) won’t come across as preachy to some readers.  I struggled with that at the beginning, but I believe the author tied it all together, making what could seem preachy instead a message of hope for the future.  David Levithan’s prose is full of beauty and poetry and a dozen lines will resonate with you before you finish this book.

You can find Two Boys Kissing at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Jennifer

Small Scale History

History is a broad topic with many avenues for study.  Why not scale history down a bit with these micro-histories?  They are guaranteed to make you think a little bit more about the every-day objects in your life!

Banana: the Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan KoeppelBanana Book Cover
In this fascinating and surprising exploration of the banana’s history, cultural significance, and endangered future, Koeppel gives readers plenty of food for thought.

 

 

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon GarfieldJust My Type book cover
The history of typefaces from the early days of Gutenberg to the modern applications of digital fonts, tracing the impact of font usage in business and pop culture while explaining what favorite fonts reveal about personality.

 

 

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria FinlayColor book cover
Discover the tantalizing true stories behind your favorite colors. Finlay examines the physical materials that color the world, and explores the social, political, and cultural implications of color throughout history.

 

 

The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History by Katherine AshenburgThe Dirt on Clean
Ashenburg searches for clean and dirty in plague-ridden streets, medieval steam baths, castles and tenements, and in bathrooms of every description. She reveals the bizarre descriptions of history’s doctors as well as the hygienic peccadilloes of kings, mistresses, monks and ordinary citizens, and guides us through the twists and turns to our own understanding of clean, which is no more rational than the rest.

 

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom StandageA  History of the World in 6 Glasses book cover
An offbeat history of the world traces the story of humankind from the Stone Age to the twenty-first century from the perspective of six different drinks–beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola–describing their pervasive influence during pivotal eras of world history, from humankind’s adoption of agriculture to the advent of globalization

 

 

 

Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer

Picture of Bloody Jack Pre-Loaded AudiobokFirst Impressions
A book about pirates?

Drive-by Summary
On further investigation, this is not just any ordinary pirate: she is an orphan girl named Mary. She lived on the streets of London until, in a moment of terror, she flees for her life on a ship going anywhere.  She is brave, she is sassy, and she has great insight to the life at sea.  She dresses like a boy, renames herself Jacky Faber, and does everything her mates do to remain on board. Her life is now a little more secure than when she was living on the streets of London.

My heart is with Jacky Faber during the entire length of this adventurous series.  She remains a girl at heart, yet on the sea she becomes known as “Bloody Jack.” Eventually, Mary gives back to the children of the streets by buying a place of respite and providing money gained from her adventures at sea to take care of those who had fallen on hard times.

The reader, Katherine Kellgren has made this adventure so realistic that I was sad when the story ended.  I had not felt so connected with a book before.

Sound Bite
We don’t have a clip of Katherine Kellgren reading Bloody Jack, but here she is talking about some of her most anticipated 2012 audiobook titles:

Doesn’t she have a delightful voice?

My favorite character
Jacky Faber, of course!

Words to Live By
“Shorn of hope and hope betrayed. Yet by hope uplifted and by hope is saved.”

Recommended For
Sailors and landlubbers alike will love this audiobook since the reader will give you the thrill of being on a pirate ship complete with songs, ditties, and tales from afar.

Final Say
I prefer reading over listening to audiobooks. However, Katherine Kellgren will keep you on the edge of your chair with the quality she brings to each character.  At times you may believe that there are multiple readers because of the diversification of her voice and tone.  Listen to Bloody Jack once and you too will be hooked.

You can get Bloody Jack at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Keyla

LibraryReads November Picks

The November LibraryReads list is here!   This nation-wide list is comprised of books read, reviewed, and voted on by librarians.  And there are some interesting books coming out in November.  Here are the highlights:

Bellman & Black by Diane SetterfieldBellman & Black book cover
William Bellman is a happily married father with a promising future, until an event from his childhood comes to haunt him and everyone he loves. Beautifully written with a vividly enticing setting, Bellman & Black is a truly gothic tale that will you have entwined in its arms until the very end. – Scott Lenski, Whitefish Bay Public Library

 

The Valley of Amazement by Amy TanThe Valley of Amazement book cover
A new Amy Tan novel is an event. Under her sharp-eyed observations of mothers and daughters and their inexplicable bonds, is a powerful story of love, family, courage, and history. – Kaite Stover, Kansas City Public Library

 

 

The Cartographer of No Man’s Land by P. S. DuffyThe Cartographer book cover
Angus MacGrath is caught between the artist he longs to be and the naval career his father believes is more fitting for a man supporting a family on the coast of Nova Scotia. Angus enlists in World War I with the promise of a safe cartographer’s job, but finds himself thrust on the front lines of battle in France. The emotional havoc is palpable. Life changes in the blink of an eye and Duffy does a masterful job of letting the reader watch everyone desperately trying to catch up. – Jennifer Hendzlik, Anythink Libraries

 

The Raven’s Eye: A Brock and Kolla Mystery by Barry MaitlandThe Raven's Eye book cover
The latest Brock/Kolla mystery begins with a sudden death on a London houseboat. Unusual setting, great plot, wonderful writing. This fabulous series is yet to be discovered by many American lovers of British police procedurals. Great recommendation for fans of Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George, early Martha Grimes and Deborah Crombie. – Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Libraries

 

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