Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

Madame Tussaud book cover First Impressions
My passion as a Francophile led me to read this fascinating novel about the incomparable Madame Tussaud.

Drive-By Summary
Marie Tussaud comes from a long line of artists and has a natural talent for sculpting.  Sadly, her meager earnings are barely enough to pay the rent much less for food.  Until one day she is asked by the French Court to teach the Princess Elisabeth her unique gift of sculpting.  Suddenly Marie finds that her popularity is encroaching in on her ability to create.  Neighbors and fellow tradesman line up to pay any amount just to see her latest creations.

Meanwhile, French politics are beginning to heat up which causes Marie to doubt her relationship with the royal family.  It is too late to just be a regular Parisian?  Should she give up her talent and marry the love of  her life?  Marie must come to terms with many demanding issues of her time.

My Favorite Character
Marie Tussaud; she has an enviable talent, she has a level-headed opportunity to face the political issues of her time without offending the masses, and,  mostly, she is just a woman who loves her work, her family and the royal family.

Words to Live By
“Man was born free and everywhere he is in shackles.” – Jean-Jacques Rosseau

“Man’s natural character is to imitate: that of the sensitive man is to resemble as closely as possible  the person whom he loves.  It is only by imitating other’s vices that I have earned my misfortunes.” –  Marquis de Sade

Recommended For
Francophiles, artists, and lovers of historical fiction.

Final Say
The author, Michelle Moran, has a writing style that breaches time and space without sacrificing what it means to be an individual whose voice makes a difference during a lifetime of political upheaval.  She tells this story with such force that it was hard for me to put Madame Tussaud down.

You can pick Madame Tussaud up at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Keyla

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Surviving the Holidays

bad-christmas-presents1-300x199This reading list is for those of us who are patiently waiting for the holiday chaos to end.  It’s not that the holidays aren’t fun.  They can just be a bit stressful. Three cheers for grace, good humor, good friends, and a good drink!

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays
By Jeremy Piven
A guide to dealing with the trials and tribulations of the holiday season offers a variety of whimsical coping strategies for dealing with obnoxious relatives, surviving an office holiday party, escaping a runaway parade balloon or a stampede of rabid shoppers, rescuing someone stuck in a chimney, silencing a group of carolers, and other festive scenarios.

It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine
By Wade Rouse
Wade Rouse looks at the yearly celebrations that unite us all and bring out the very best and worst in our nearest and dearest.  Family is truly the only gift that keeps on giving, namely, the gifts of dysfunction and eccentricity.

Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat
By Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat
Collection of humorous rants dissecting the “most wonderful time” of the year. She unleashes her biting wit and hilarious opinions on everything from cookie exchanges to annual humble brag Christmas letters from over achieving moms to horrifying Christmases of her childhood.

Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets Festive
By Jen Yates
From thankless Thanksgiving turkeys and confusing Christmas conundrums, to less-than-happy Hanukkah horrors and New Year’s meltdowns, Wreck the Halls has an icing-smeared disaster for every occasion. With additional chapters on Black Friday, family communication, and navigating the murky waters of politically correct cake greetings (“Winter!”), Wreck the Halls combines Yates’s signature blend of wit and sarcasm with the most hilarious frosting fails this side of winter solstice.

Holidays on Ice
By David Sedaris
An anthology of humorous Christmas tales and essays features excerpts from the author’s “Barrel Fever” and “Naked,” as well as “The Santaland Diaries,” “Season’s Greetings to Our Friends and Family,” and a new tale of holiday mayhem.

Super Pop!: Pop Culture Top Ten Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make it Through the Holidays
By Daniel Harmon
Super-Pop offers a maximum-pleasure, minimum-effort way to become smarter, happier, and more likely to survive your next family function (or a shark attack). This hilarious and wide-ranging guide sorts nearly 500 different bestsellers, blockbusters, and underappreciated gems into quirky top ten lists.

Need more survival tips?  Check our Holiday Survival book list!

Feasts with a Different Flavor

Christmas dinner

The holiday season is full traditions, mainstays, and family favorites … but that doesn’t mean that you can’t shake things up!  Here are some books that can give your future feasts an nontraditional twist.

Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine
By Jennifer Hahn

The One-Block Feast: An Adventure in Food from Yard to Table
By Margo True

Eat With Your Hands
By Zakary Pelaccio

Gather: the Art of Paleo Entertaining
By Hayley Mason

Gluten-free and Vegan Holidays: Celebrating the Year with Simple Satisfying Recipes and Menus
By Jennifer Katzinger

Poor Man’s Feast: a Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking
By Elissa Altman

For more ideas check out our Feasts with a Different Flavor book list!

The Humans by Matt Haig

The Humans Book CoverFirst Impressions
From the description on the dust jacket, I thought The Humans might provide a laugh or two and make a good, light-hearted read for a gloomy November. It’s the story of an alien who travels from “far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far away” to prevent the humans of earth from discovering the answer to the riddle of prime numbers; a revelation which would advance their technology and civilization more rapidly than they could acclimate themselves, threatening their own existence and bringing disaster to other life forms throughout the universe.

Drive-by Summary
The Humans is a study of humanity written from the perspective of an extraterrestrial being who inhabits the physical body of Professor Andrew Martin – a mathematician, workaholic, and philandering husband. Professor Martin has recently made a remarkable discovery; indeed, the most significant discovery in the history of humankind. An alien from the planet Vonnadoria is sent to earth with one mission – to kill anyone with whom this man might have shared his knowledge. A simple enough assignment, he thinks. He is catastrophically unprepared for his own amazing discovery – that humans are not merely destructive and unintelligent life forms, but instead are beings of mystery and complexity, with a potential for love and beauty that defies all logic. The loyalty of a good dog, a chilled glass of white wine, a full jar of crunchy wholenut peanut butter, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the music of the Beach Boys, even the sullen gloom of a suicidal teenage boy – all come together to confuse him and wreak havoc on his mission.

My Favorite Character
We never learn the true name of my favorite character, so I guess I’ll just have to call him, “The Alien Who Inhabits the Body of Professor Andrew Martin”. AWIBPAM!

Words to Live By
“She said being human is being a young child on Christmas Day who receives an absolutely magnificent castle. And there is a perfect photograph of this castle on the box and you want more than anything to play with the castle and the knights and the princesses because it looks like such a perfectly human world, but the only problem is that the castle isn’t built. It’s in tiny intricate pieces, and although there’s a book of instructions, you don’t understand it. Nor can your parents or Aunt Sylvie. So you are just left, crying at the ideal castle on the box, which no one would ever be able to build.”

Recommended For
All those who seek the answer to the question, “the head or the heart?”

Final Say
Not as light-hearted as I initially thought it would be, The Humans is a work of great emotional range. It is fun to watch AWIBPAM as he observes and attempts to masquerade as one of us. And to wonder along with him what causes us to behave the way we do, and what exactly is the meaning of it all?

The Humans can be found at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Jenni

Staff Picks of 2013: Miscellaneous Favorites

Happy Friday! Thank you all for joining us for our week of 2013 Staff Picks. We hope you enjoyed reading about our picks as much as we enjoyed picking them! As a special Friday treat, here are our favorite movies, music, and graphic novels from 2013:

The East

The East directed by Zal Batmanglij
This movie is equal parts gripping and terrifying.  Watching Sarah infiltrate, and ultimately empathize with, an extreme activist collective is thrilling and makes for a movie that leaves you thinking long after it has ended. – Katie

 

The Massive

The Massive, Vol 1 by Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson
Environmental activists struggling to find meaning in a post environmental crash world. Their sister ship is missing, governments have collapsed, new and old ways of life are the new norm. What does an activist do when they’ve failed in their mission? Expertly researched and written by Brian Wood, one of comics most talented and diverse writers. Smart and relevant. – Kelly

 

Amour

Amour directed by Michael Haneke
This is a deeply moving and beautifully acted film. This film depicts the harsh realities of illness, aloneness, and death for an elderly couple who are deeply in love. – Beth

 

The Underwater Welder

 The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
All at once a ghost story, on becoming a man, fathers and sons, and finding ones place in a sometimes very bleak and unforgiving world. This haunting tale of an expecting husband who spends his days alone underwater repairing an oil rig of the coast of Nova Scotia will stay with you long after the book is finished. Beautifully written and drawn by Jeff Lemire. One of the best graphic novels of the year. – Kelly

 

 We The Common

We The Common by Thao
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down  are known for their infectious, rollicking folk melodies that are heavily-tinged with sorrow and longing.  Their new album is no exception — making it the perfect sunny-day album to play on repeat. – Katie

 

 The Manhattan Projects

The Manhattan Projects, Vol 1 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra.
Science. Bad. This romp through an alternate history is all at once intriguing, hilarious, disturbing, and riveting. Join a very angry Einstein, a deranged Oppenheimer, FDR in a jar, and other historical figures shown in quite a different light. This ongoing series is a sciencedelic trip at the dawn of the Atomic Age, told through the eyes of a master story teller at the top of his game. – Kelly

 

You can get a print out of our full list of 2013 Staff Picks or you can stop by the Central Library to see our display!

 

Staff Picks of 2013: Children’s Reads

Do you have a special place in your hearts for kids’ books? Us too! Here are our picks for 2013:

That is Not a Good Idea!

That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
A duck is approached by a sneaky looking, fast talking wolf, inviting her back to his house for dinner…is this a good idea? I love stories in which the author plays on the reader’s preconceived notions of a story and then flips it upside down. Mo Willems does not disappoint.  –  Bethany

 

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
It’s like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but inside a fantastical library! Puzzles, clues, and great characters make this book a fun and fast read. – Bernice

 

Timmy Failure - Mistakes Were Made

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis
Timmy and his best friend Total, a polar bear, run a detective agency together named Total Failure. Their detection skills live up to their company name, providing the reader many laughs as Timmy believes he is truly a star detective. Perfect for Diary of a Wimpy kid fans!
– Bethany

 

North of Nowhere

North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler
Wrestled away from her Spring Break, Mia joins her mom on a trip to the small fishing town of Porthaven to look for her missing grandfather. One mystery quickly turns into two when she discovers a mysterious boat on the coast. – Jeff

 

The Tortoise and the Hare

The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney
This nearly wordless retelling of the classic story emphasizes slowing down to enjoy the process, and that even the toughest competitors can be friends and supporters. Take time to savor the beautiful illustrations!
– Bethany

 

Itch

Itch by Simon Mayo
Some kids collect baseball cards, others collect comics, Itchingham Lofte aspires to collect all the elements in the periodic table. The hobby of gathering sometimes explosive collectables proves dangerous enough, but when Itch gets ahold of a rock that he can’t quite categorize the situation turns from bad to worse. – Jeff

 

Friday is our final Staff Picks of 2013 day.  Join us as we reveal our favorite DVDs, CDs, and graphic novels of 2013!

 

Staff Picks of 2013: Teen Reads

Young Adult, or YA, literature has become increasingly popular in the last several years and 2013 produced some really great fiction. Here are three of BPL’s favorites from 2013:

Out of the Easy book cover

Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys
Jo, daughter of a prostitute, named after a madam, is growing up in post-World War II New Orleans. 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. I found it to be a rich coming of age story with strong, believable characters. – Jennifer

 

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
A fresh take on the vampire novel; original, suspenseful, and lots of great characters. – Lesley

 

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Controversial, yes, and beautifully written young adult novel about a developing relationship.  I hadn’t read a YA novel for a long time but did so because there was controversy about its language; I found it hard to set down with amazing, engaging characters. – Pam

 

Tomorrow we have large selection of Children’s 2013 picks for you to enjoy — so don’t forget to check it out!

 

Staff Picks of 2013: Non- Fiction

For those readers that like facts more than fiction, here are the Bellingham Public Library’s favorite non-fiction titles of 2013:

500 Paper Objects - New Directions in Paper Art

500 Paper Objects : New Directions in Paper Art by Gene McHugh
Filled with gorgeous photographs of fantastical paper art – this book fills me with inspiration and wonder each time I crack it open. A mind-blowing showcase of variety and ingenuity on display.  –  Jenni

 

The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown.
This book has everything: a fast paced plot, a well-described, local and historical setting, interesting characters and one of those fun come-from-behind underdog wins stories – a winning combination! I couldn’t put it down. – Georgi

 

Bloodlands - Europe between Hitler and Stalin

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder
There has been much written about the Holocaust, somewhat less about Stalin’s starvation and execution of millions, but Timothy Snyder does something new by treating the murders by the two dictators as one history. He tell the larger story of what happened in Eastern Europe from 1930 to 1945, but also tells the stories of individuals caught up in the horrors of that time. Much of what happened disappeared behind the Iron Curtain after the war, but Snyder, with access to recently declassified Soviet and other archives reveals new facts and perspectives about that harrowing time. This is not an easy book to read, but a brilliant history of an almost unbelievable period. – Beth

 

Dad is Fat

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
I’ve always enjoyed listening to Jim Gaffigan’s comedy routines. I think his observations are sharp and clear-eyed, but based in humility and understanding. Plus he is hilarious. Dad Is Fat is a series of short essays on life with a wonderful wife and five young children living in a 2 bedroom apartment in New York City. I had to stop reading it on the bus because it was too difficult to suppress my laughter. – Deborah

 

One Summer - America 1927

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is one of the leading popularizers of science, nature, and history. In his new work, Mr. Bryson focuses on a few famous characters (Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth) and events of 1927 to create a readable but fact-filled story of that pivotal year. While we may know the story of Lindbergh flying the Atlantic and the Babe setting a home run record, Bryson also cover less known history. That was the year that the federal reserve made the fateful decision that led to the depression, and the explosion of tabloid journalism and radio marked what could be considered the birth of modern popular culture. A fine way to painlessly swallow your history lesson. – Beth

Join us tomorrow for our favorite Teen picks of 2013!

Staff Picks of 2013: Fiction

It has been a great reading year and the Bellingham Public Library staff has had a lot of fun coming up with their favorite titles of 2013.  15 members of our staff came up with a veritable bounty of selections that are sure to please readers of all ages.

Each day this week here at Read More! we will share our thoughts on the best items in each category: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Teen, Children, and Miscellaneous.

So, with our further ado, here are our picks for the best adult fiction of 2013:

Shining Girls book coverThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
The story involves a time-traveling serial killer who always gets away until one of his victims manages to survive. The killer and the victim then hunt each other throughout time. I like the book because it was such a strange assortment of genres all mixed into one.  – Madeline

 

Night Film

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Different from what I usually read but I really liked it.  – Stacy

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane book cover

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This haunting fairy tale is Gaiman’s most personal and powerful work to date.  It grabbed my attention immediately and I couldn’t put it down until I was finished.  Beautiful, creepy, and lingering, Ocean at the End of the Lane is not to be missed. – Katie

 

Doctor Sleep Book Cover

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
This sequel to The Shining is like a beautiful nightmare . . . I loved it.
– Danielle

Stick around this week – we have more great picks coming your way!