Between the Covers: More Reviews from Our Staff

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Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor

I had trouble having to remind myself that Okorafor's story is based in a future dystopic Africa and not the present day. I came to realize that this was possibly because of how similar this future was to the realities of today's Africa. Okorafor pulls us deep inside a situation I'd hope most of us are aware of presently in the Congo and Sudan and I'm horrifyingly sure many other places. The acts and consequences of militarized and systematic rape and genocide. How it affects the victims, the families and the ones most often ignored by the media, the children produced from this violence. Children born and raised to be ashamed of their very existence at the expense of their mothers and fault of their fathers. Okorafor speaks of a possesion in the case of the soilders being led by their high yellow sorcerer and it reminds us of the prominent question we ask ourselves when we see the news, "What could possibly POSSESS these men to do such a thing?!?" In retrospect, this question aligned with this word only further sustains my belief that the magical/spiritual context of the book fluidly interwoven in the story takes away nothing from the actual message but manages to allow a deeper resonance in the main character's situation as well as of the country itself. I'm highly impressed with how Okorafor was able to do this. Overall this book wasn't just a good read, its a must read. -- Genevieve

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

When you work with young people, sometimes you experience burnout. You get annoyed by their loudness, their bad attitudes, and their immaturity. Then a book like this comes along and reminds you why you wanted to work with kids in the first place. Because every kid deserves a chance (or two, or three), and every kid deserves to have a least one grownup in their life who believes in them and wants the best for them. When you read the story of Doug Swieteck and the lives he touches and the people who help him, you'll be inspired to be that grownup for every kid you meet. It doesn't hurt that it's also funny as heck and deeply moving. Highly recommended. -- Meredith

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

REALLY!!!!! I stayed up all night! This book is very creepy! I only read it all because it was my book club's selection. Now I'm going to have to discuss it with the group. -- Linda

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome 

Three hypochondriacs venture out on the Thames for a fortnight's worth of camping, pleasure cruising, and utter chaos. Three Men in a Boat left me in stitches countless times, which is rather unfortunate since I completed the bulk of this novel in various public settings. But it was worth it; this is one of the finest comedic novels I've ever read, and it's well over a century old. I would gladly pass this one along to anyone--especially those who never made friends with Victorian-era British literature, and may harbor a certain degree of bias against the genre. Jerome actually uses this book to ridicule several literary conventions of his day. My only objections: the occasional choppy and/or unvarying sentence length may throw off one's readerly pace, and the novel itself is outlined in a sort of unvarying structure with scenes and reflections, scenes and reflections--rather reminiscent of watching a neverending train of boxcars. But these are minor quibbles. Jolly good fun. -- Claire

Between the Covers: More Picks from the Central Library

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Between the Covers: More Picks from the Central Library

onepotcookiesOne-Pot Cookies by Bookman Schloss
I made Ginger Peach Butter cookies, and they were delicious!

The Pink Palace by Marlon McCaulsky
Mo'Nique & Nikki learn the hard way that out of every bad experience comes something or someone good. While Vanessa & Damien get their just desserts, Jayson & Dre reap their just rewards, and revenge.
--Joyce C.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Iveysnowchild
I always think a book that can take you somewhere you've never been & make you feel like you live there is special, and I never wanted to live in Alaska! Magical without being a fantasy story. Most imaginative story I've read in a long time.
--Fran L.

The Second World War by Winston S. Churchill (Volumes 1-4)
Sir Winston Churchill was asked, "How will anyone be able to grasp the events of WWII?" Churchill assured the person that the history of WWII will be properly told, "because I intend to write the history"--he did--six volumes at 800 pages per volume.

The Good Fight by Harry Reid and Mark Warren
The Good Fight was a great memoir of a United States senator. Senator Reid gave us a personal & professional insight to the working of Washington, D.C. and personal anecdotes about his life. I highly recommend this book.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
I read the entire series in a week. The books are easy, and engaging, though uncomplicated.

Histoire de Montreal Tome II by Robert Rumilly
This is a fine and very detailed historical account, following Quebecois social & political evolution from around the year 1760 up through the middle of the 19th century. It includes an array of details having specifically to do with the United States.
--John H.

Sugar by Bernice L. McFaddensugar
Loved the development of characters. So happy she made a sequel. The characters jumped from the pages.

The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke
A very different twist to fantasy. An interesting world she created.

breakupbibleThe Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor
It reminded me of all the emotions I had as a teen. I felt for her--dramatics & all! Yet I laughed silently & aloud at her dread, sarcasm, & wit through it all after I realized...I was once that teen, decades ago.

God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew
It's very inspiring. I love Brother Andrew's story, and his faith is amazing.

Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon
About a hot reporter named Susan Michaels who was writing good stories until she got a story to report about major police cover-ups. She adopted a cat named Ravyn who turned out to be a shapeshifter and that starts the story.

Walking with Comrades by Arundhati Roy
Interesting perspective. Excellent writing. Thoughtful approach to studying a problem and explaining a political struggle.

Matched by Ally Condie
The story of Cassia is intriguing. I wanted to keep reading to see how she would handle the differing feelings she had for her best friend turned Match and the quiet friend appearing out of nowhere.

Revelry by Samuel Hopkins Adams
This is a fictional treatment of the fall of the Administration of President Warren Harding. It tells the story very well: it is not long and tedious; and the author uses the vernacular of the period to good effect.

washthisbloodWash This Blood Clean From My Hand by Fred Vargas
All of the books in this series are worth reading for the characters, the conversations and interactions, and the little philosophies of living.  This book is perhaps a little less unique than some of the others.  It does take on rather a lot: the main character, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, the chief of police of one of Paris's districts, is on the run, wanted for a murder he cannot be sure he did not commit.  There are details here that make the story believable and not gimmicky or over-the-top with suspense.  Other incidents move along the story that arcs through the series.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The first time I read this book in the 7th grade, I really liked it; the second time I read it in high school, I loved it, and now reading it again, I treasure it. This has been on my top-10 favorite books list for well over a decade now, and I am glad I got the chance to revisit it only to realize that my tastes as a 12-year-old bibliophile have evolved, but not changed. I like being able to examine my own childhood through Scout’s eyes. The way the book is written made me feel as if I tokillmockingbirdwas part of Maycomb, with details that only a resident would know.  It took me back to my early years, which is impressive given that the author couldn’t be a more polar opposite of me. I guess in some levels all childhoods are the same: seeing the world around you with a certain sense of awe, coming up with your own opinions on things and people, being disappointed in humanity and reassured in a select few. I can’t really say that the book is eloquently written, but it sure is expertly written. The characters, plot development, multiple story lines, and authentic conversations leave the reader feeling completely immersed in both Scout’s and their own childhood. The obvious racial overtones of the book leave me wondering how many unjust prejudices I carry around with me daily, while the subtle adventurous nature of the book makes me wonder if childhood will ever be the same. The author makes it so that Maycomb turns into everyone’s small town, with its triumphs and defeats. It was like growing up again in under 400 pages. 

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
I loved the way the author unfolded the story, revealing the main characters slowly and constantly changing the perspective in which you viewed them. The writing was exquisite and poetic. The coming-of-age nature of the book reminded me of classics like Catcher in the Rye.

The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardiegoldendawn
In a similar way that the Old Testament of the Bible can be viewed as an anthology of important works from various sources, this book is The Golden Dawn's amalgam of mystical knowledge from various sources: the Qabalah, astrology, alchemy, Tarot, Egyptian mythology, and the Enochian tablets.  Also included are the systems and methods of teaching and initiating into the various levels of membership.  The text is somewhat suspect: Israel Regardie was taught by Crowley before being initiated, but was only a member for a few months, and he was not supposed to reveal any of what he had learned, and the information, if valid to The Golden Dawn, was taken from various sources based on what Crowley and other founders felt worked.  Some of the rituals are relatively simple and easy to perform, others seem ridiculously complex. Descriptions of the creation and consecration of tools are very specific.  It is a difficult book to read, even with some background in the source mysticism; it is more of a book to skim, pick-and-choose, and reference.
--Laurie B.


Between the Covers: More Reviews from Our Library Staff(2)

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Who Do You Think You Are? by Megan Smolenyak

I was inspired to read this book after attending a genealogy program at the Reisterstown Road Branch, presented by Eva Slezak.  I also am a big fan of the NBC television program, by the same name as the title. The book not only describes the family history of celebrity personalities, it also gives important facts about how to trace your own family roots using census information and other sources. It includes great online sites worth searching. A great tool for novice and experienced researchers. -- Vera

Romantics Anonymous: [a DVD] c2010

This is a light-hearted French romantic comedy on DVD about two ultra shy middle-aged people who work in a chocolate company in Paris, who evenutally overcome their shyness and fall in love, so it has a happy ending. The movie has English subtitles, so reading the subtitles = reading the script = reading a "book" :) -- Devon