Have You Heard
… the military history of the United States? A tremendous amount of research went into Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power as Rachel Maddow historically follows the escalation of our country’s military might since the Vietnam War. Presidents from LBJ to Barack Obama are discussed as they went about employing our enormous and complicated Military Industrial Complex. Talk about huge egos and saber rattling.
I really enjoyed the explanation of how our Predator and Reaper drones are used to fight terror around the globe and the contrast to our very aging and “fungus growing” nuclear armaments also spread around the globe. The best part of the book is the end where Ms Maddow presents her to-do list for America to counter this “war-is-normal course,” our country has embarked on. Rachel Maddow is the host of the Emmy Award winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC since 2008.
Reviewed by Richard (staff)
… riding the rails during the Depression? In this fantastic documentary about Riding the Rails, it sure makes today’s tough economic times look like a picnic. This film won awards for Best Documentary of 1997 from both the Directors Guild of America and the Los Angeles Film Critics.
From 1929-1941, lots of kids were kicked out of their homes because of too many mouths to feed in the tough times. In Riding the Rails, the kids who survived, now adults, tell their tales of the danger, the hunger and what it took to survive. We think of the Depression as a lot of men out of work, standing in long bread lines for food. Well, a lot of girls rode the rails just like the guys, and it was a lot more dangerous for them. One of the good things about the Depression was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and a lot of these rail riders were finally able to get the jobs they so desperately needed. One of my relatives was a rail rider and part of the CCC that helped to form the beautiful Starved Rock State Park near Utica, Illinois. This movie made his stories come alive for me. Riding the Rails makes you appreciate what you have today.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
… the sweet pet names parents call their children? Little Treasures, by Jacqueline Ogburn and Chris Raschka, looks at endearments used around the world. From “honey” and “pumpkin” to “little coconut candy” (docinho de coco – Portuguese) and “my chick” (mi pollita – Spanish), families everywhere have silly names they use for the children they love. This book gives examples from fourteen different languages used around the world.
A book this broadly based cannot hope to be comprehensive. However, it gives a good overview of languages spoken in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The endearments are given in translation, in the language’s normal script (transliterated where necessary), and with a suggested pronunciation. The illustrations show a wide variety of children and adults, and the text emphasizes the fact that families love children throughout the world. This is a sweet book for parents to share with their children, and possibly come up with a special pet name just for them.
I wonder if my nieces should be “my bubble of joy” (yeinay filiklik – Amharic), “little beetle” (chrobáčik – Slovak), or “flower bud” (nuppunen – Finnish)!
Reviewed by Fran (staff)
…the Dead Detective? Angel Interrupted is the really good second book in Chaz McGee’s series*. Kevin Fahey was a drunk and a so-so detective in life and is now a ghost trying to help his replacement, Maggie Gunn. He can only guide Maggie in solving crimes through his thoughts, which are at times both funny and gritty. Kevin figures that if he can do good by “helping” Maggie he might get out of the limbo he’s in, though he is proving to be a better detective dead then when he was alive.
In this book, it takes a bit longer to solve the crimes of a murdered nurse and an abducted kid. More insight is given into the main characters’ lives, and the twists near the end almost gave me a heart attack. This book will keep you counting the days until the next book comes out.
*The first book in the series is Desolate Angel.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
…the stuck-in-a-time-loop orphanage that serves as a home for some very peculiar orphans? Jacob learns the truth about it in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. When Jacob’s grandfather is brutally murdered by monsters only Jacob can see, he is determined to find answers. Jacob hunts through his grandfather’s old photographs and finds some very peculiar snapshots of children. His hunt leads him to a remote island off the coast of Wales filled with tight-lipped locals. While roaming the moors, Jacob stumbles into a time loop and into the very orphanage where his grandfather took refuge from the Nazis 60 years ago.
The book is punctuated by the unsettling photos Jacob found among his grandfather’s possessions. I enjoyed reading the story from Jacob’s perspective, an antihero filled with fear and self-doubt, struggling to come to terms with his family’s past and his own future.
Reviewed by Sara (staff)
… the fun book of totally useless information? The Indispensable Book of Useless Information, by Don Voorhees, is a must for read for trivia fans and those who think they know everything. Did you know that the U.S. Post Office is the largest employer in the United States and Wal-Mart comes in second? The Pentagon is so large that it has 6 different zip codes.
This is a fun book is very hard to put down. You’ll find yourself reading it out loud to everyone. It’s amazing!
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
… the powerful voice of Florence Welch? Florence and the Machine, a British indie-pop group, released their second album, Ceremonials, last fall, and it has been recognized worldwide as a strong, stirring follow-up to their debut album, Lungs. Ceremonials has an ethereal, almost supernatural quality with its beating drums and ghostly back-up vocals, and Florence’s voice gives the album a lot of drama - just listen to tracks like “No Light, No Light” and “What the Water Gave Me” to hear what I mean.
This music has a BIG sound, and Florence’s voice isn’t for everyone, particularly for those who prefer more traditional music. But if you like your music to have a touch of quirkiness and drama, I highly recommend you give Ceremonials a listen (or three). It’s a great album to lose yourself in.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)
… The little girl who loved to read? When Lily learns to read, her mom takes her to the library to get her very own library card. Lily loves to read. Thin books, fat book, new books, old books, touchy-feely-furry- type books, any type of book you can imagine is a great adventure. Lily likes to read so much that she is called Library Lily.
Gillian Shields does a terrific job in describing how Lily forgets to do much of anything else. When Lily goes to the park, instead of playing, she has her nose buried in a book. When her mom tells her to go and have some fun, Lily walks around and reads all of the different signs. All of a sudden another little girl, named Milly, comes along. Milly hates to read. Milly would rather be playing. In becoming friends, these two forge a friendship where they learn to have great adventures together outside, exploring and then reading about all the exciting adventures in books. In fact, they learn that it’s a great big world outside to explore, and you can always find the most perfect book at the library to go with what you find outside and more!
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
… the classic novel of race and justice in Alabama? For me, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is the ultimate. It has long been the book I take with me if I am going somewhere and want to take a book. I have probably read it over 100 times. It makes me laugh, cry, think, laugh some more, wonder, get angry and everything in between. I read it in bed at night when I can’t go to sleep; I just flip to a random page and read until I feel better. This book speaks to me, and I know I’m not the only one. Mockingbird has been on school reading lists, has won many awards, was made into an Academy Award winning movie (which is also really fabulous…the script is mostly word-for-word excerpts from the book and Gregory Peck is Atticus), is a social commentary and an amazing artistic literary work.
OK, so you get that I love this book. And the movie. I even read Harper Lee’s biography Mockingbird to see if I could learn more about how much Mockingbird is about her childhood. Why bring this up now? I recently bought a Kindle thinking it would be come my “everywhere book”, but Amazon doesn’t currently have Mockingbird in Kindle format. When I found out, I almost returned my Kindle. I suppose it has something to do with pricing, the publisher’s feeling about eBooks versus print books…who knows? I do know that flipping to a random page would not be as easy on my Kindle. I guess I’ll just have 2 “books” in my carry on because I can’t imagine being without Mockingbird. But if space becomes an issue, it won’t be hard decision. I already know which one I would leave behind.
Even if you have already read Mockingbird, read it again. Do it!
Reviewed by Heidi (staff)
… a pret’ near perfect murder? Well-Offed in Vermont is the first book in a new series by Amy Patricia Meade. Nick and Stella are “flatlanders” (out-of-staters) who try to move into a vintage farmhouse in a sleepy little town in Vermont. They never get moved in until the very end of the book though. Someone has been murdered on their new property, and they are forced to move into a hunting cabin, complete with no electricity and an outhouse (don’t ask how a flashlight ended up in the latrine).
The dialogue and antics of these two are pure slapstick as they try to get to know their neighbors while pretending to be the super sleuths. After all, they have nothing better to do until they can move into their new house, right? Was it the sheriff, or the owner of the Sweet Shop, the real estate agent or someone else who killed a not-so-well-liked businessman and dumped him on their property? These two city-slickers are sure to capture your heart and your funny bone in this delightful book.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)