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Featured Book Lists
Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walter

Library Journal Walter's newest book (after The Financial Lives of the Poets) will have readers checking out Richard Burton movies and Cinque Terre guidebooks after marveling at his imagination and spot-on characters. It's 1962, and Dee Moray, an American starlet, has just fled the tumultuous Roman set of Cleopatra to hole up in a dilapidated hotel in an obscure Italian seaside village. Pasquale Tursi, the young proprietor of the Hotel Adequate View, is instantly smitten. Flash-forward 50 years. Claire, the ambitious yet practical young assistant to the once-legendary producer Michael Deane, is enduring another Wild Pitch Friday. A screenwriter desperate to sell his script ("Donner! An epic story of resiliency!") and an older Italian man bearing Deane's tattered business card both appear at Claire's door. Walter expertly traces the lines among these characters, using keen wit and snappy dialog to express the theme that "life was a glorious catastrophe." VERDICT The pop-culture references and wistful tone will please Nick Hornby fans and build Walter's following. Not to be missed. [See Prepub Alert, 12/19/11.]-Christine Perkins, Bellingham P.L., WA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* In 1962, Pasquale Tursi, inheritor-proprietor of the Hotel Adequate View in Porto Vergogna, Italy, a tiny coastal village visited only by tourists who overshoot the similarly named neighbor they intended to go to, is shocked when beautiful, sickly American starlet Dee Moray arrives, on purpose. The reason for her presence, the botched cover-up of a minor disaster that occurred, in all places, on the set of the epically doomed Cleopatra, becomes but the first of the novel's many disasters. The story moves to present-day Hollywood, home to a shark producer and his young assistant who's hungry for the magic of cinema's golden era but too smart to quit the reality-show revenue. To say Walter succeeds in stitching past to present, continent to continent, undercuts the book entirely; he rather reimagines history in a package so appealing we'd be idiots not to buy it. At one point, from their perch on a tiny paddleboat, a drunken Richard Burton turns to Pasquale to note, This is one strange goddamn movie. Walter tragicomically exposes the recesses between the desires and intentions of his protagonists and how close the two might be if it weren't for the rest of the world. A novel shot in sparkly Technicolor.--Bostrom, Annie Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos

Book list Looks like a bummer of a summer for 11-year-old Jack (with a same-name protagonist, it's tempting to assume that at least some of this novel comes from the author's life). After discharging his father's WWII-souvenir Japanese rifle and cutting down his mom's fledgling cornfield, he gets grounded for the rest of his life or the rest of the summer of 1962, whichever comes first. Jack gets brief reprieves to help an old neighbor write obituaries for the falling-like-flies original residents of Norvelt, a dwindling coal-mining town. Jack makes a tremendously entertaining tour guide and foil for the town's eccentric citizens, and his warmhearted but lightly antagonistic relationship with his folks makes for some memorable one-upmanship. Gantos, as always, deliver bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws, though the story gets stuck in neutral for much of the midsection. When things pick up again near the end of the summer, surprise twists and even a quick-dissolve murder mystery arrive to pay off patient readers. Those with a nose for history will be especially pleased.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In 1962, Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be dropping like flies. Prone to nosebleeds at the least bit of excitement (until Miss Volker cauterizes his nose with old veterinarian equipment), Jack is a hapless and endearing narrator. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. The gutsy Miss Volker and her relentless but rebuffed suitor, Mr. Spizz, are comedic characters central to the zany, episodic plot, which contains unsubtle descriptions of mortuary science. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor. Jack's absorption with history of any kind makes for refreshing asides about John F. Kennedy's rescue of PT-109 during World War II, King Richard II, Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, and more. A fast-paced and witty read.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-In this novel set in the 1980s, teenagers Eleanor and Park are outsiders; Eleanor, because she's new to the neighborhood, and Park, because he's half Asian. Although initially wary of each other, they quickly bond over their love of comics and 1980s alternative music. Eleanor's home life is difficult; her stepfather physically abuses her mother and emotionally abuses Eleanor and her siblings. At school, she is the victim of bullying, which escalates into defacement of her textbooks, her clothes, and crude displays on her locker. Although Park's mother, a Korean immigrant, is initially resistant to the strange girl due to her odd fashion choices, his father invites Eleanor to seek temporary refuge with them from her unstable home life. When Eleanor's stepfather's behavior grows even more menacing, Park assists in her escape, even though it means that they might not see each other again. The friendship between the teens is movingly believable, but the love relationship seems a bit rushed and underdeveloped. The revelation about the person behind the defacement of Eleanor's textbooks is stunning. Although the narrative points of view alternate between Eleanor and Park, the transitions are smooth. Crude language is realistic. Purchase for readers who are drawn to quirky love stories or 1980s pop culture.-Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Half-Korean sophomore Park Sheridan is getting through high school by lying low, listening to the Smiths (it's 1986), reading Alan Moore's Watchmen comics, never raising his hand in class, and avoiding the kids he grew up with. Then new girl Eleanor gets on the bus. Tall, with bright red hair and a dress code all her own, she's an instant target. Too nice not to let her sit next to him, Park is alternately resentful and guilty for not being kinder to her. When he realizes she's reading his comics over his shoulder, a silent friendship is born. And slowly, tantalizingly, something more. Adult author Rowell (Attachments), making her YA debut, has a gift for showing what Eleanor and Park, who tell the story in alternating segments, like and admire about each other. Their love is believable and thrilling, but it isn't simple: Eleanor's family is broke, and her stepfather abuses her mother. When the situation turns dangerous, Rowell keeps things surprising, and the solution-imperfect but believable-maintains the novel's delicate balance of light and dark. Ages 13-up. Agent: Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Right from the start of this tender debut, readers can almost hear the clock winding down on Eleanor and Park. After a less than auspicious start, the pair quietly builds a relationship while riding the bus to school every day, wordlessly sharing comics and eventually music on the commute. Their worlds couldn't be more different. Park's family is idyllic: his Vietnam vet father and Korean immigrant mother are genuinely loving. Meanwhile, Eleanor and her younger siblings live in poverty under the constant threat of Richie, their abusive and controlling stepfather, while their mother inexplicably caters to his whims. The couple's personal battles are also dark mirror images. Park struggles with the realities of falling for the school outcast; in one of the more subtle explorations of race and the other in recent YA fiction, he clashes with his father over the definition of manhood. Eleanor's fight is much more external, learning to trust her feelings about Park and navigating the sexual threat in Richie's watchful gaze. In rapidly alternating narrative voices, Eleanor and Park try to express their all-consuming love. You make me feel like a cannibal, Eleanor says. The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship they develop is urgent, moving, and, of course, heartbreaking, too.--Jones, Courtney Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz

Publishers Weekly : SignatureReviewed by Matthew SharpeAreader might at first be surprised by how many chapters of a book entitled The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are devoted not to its sci fi–and–fantasy-gobbling nerd-hero but to his sister, his mother and his grandfather. However, Junot Diaz's dark and exuberant first novel makes a compelling case for the multiperspectival view of a life, wherein an individual cannot be known or understood in isolation from the history of his family and his nation.Oscar being a first-generation Dominican-American, the nation in question is really two nations. And Dominicans in this novel being explicitly of mixed Taíno, African and Spanish descent, the very ideas of nationhood and nationality are thoughtfully, subtly complicated. The various nationalities and generations are subtended by the recurring motif of fukú, the Curse and Doom of the New World, whose midwife and... victim was a historical personage Diaz will only call the Admiral, in deference to the belief that uttering his name brings bad luck (hint: he arrived in the New World in 1492 and his initials are CC). By the prologue's end, it's clear that this story of one poor guy's cursed life will also be the story of how 500 years of historical and familial bad luck shape the destiny of its fat, sad, smart, lovable and short-lived protagonist. The book's pervasive sense of doom is offset by a rich and playful prose that embodies its theme of multiple nations, cultures and languages, often shifting in a single sentence from English to Spanish, from Victorian formality to Negropolitan vernacular, from Homeric epithet to dirty bilingual insult. Even the presumed reader shape-shifts in the estimation of its in-your-face narrator, who addresses us variously as folks, you folks, conspiracy-minded-fools, Negro, Nigger and plataneros. So while Diaz assumes in his reader the same considerable degree of multicultural erudition he himself possesses—offering no gloss on his many un-italicized Spanish words and expressions (thus beautifully dramatizing how linguistic borders, like national ones, are porous), or on his plethora of genre and canonical literary allusions—he does helpfully footnote aspects of Dominican history, especially those concerning the bloody 30-year reign of President Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. The later Oscar chapters lack the linguistic brio of the others, and there are exposition-clogged passages that read like summaries of a longer narrative, but mostly this fierce, funny, tragic book is just what a reader would have hoped for in a novel by Junot Diaz.Matthew Sharpe is the author of the novels Jamestown and The Sleeping Father. He teaches at Wesleyan University.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Escape from Mr. Lemoncelloandapos;s library
by Chris Grabenstein

Publishers Weekly Librarians and English teachers will happily recommend this adventurous romp from Grabenstein (the Riley Mack books), which pays playful homage to books and libraries while engaging readers in a fast-paced competition involving research and reasoning skills. Twelve seventh-graders win a chance to spend an overnight lock-in previewing their town's new public library-it's a marvel of technological delights conceived by Luigi Lemoncello, the Willy Wonkalike founder of Mr. Lemoncello's Imagination Factory, which is a source for every kind of game imaginable. During the lock-in the winners, who include game-lover Kyle Keeley and a group of multicultural classmates with a mix of aptitudes and interests, are offered a further challenge: "Find your way out of the library using only what's in the library." The winner will become spokesperson for the Imag-ination Factory. Book lovers will relish the lavish sprinkling of book titles and references while puzzle fans will enjoy figuring out the clues. A lighthearted parody of reality survival shows, the book reinvigorates the debate over the Dewey Decimal system and traditional library skills while celebrating teamwork, perseverance, and clever wits. Ages 9-12. Agent: Eric Myers, the Spieler Agency. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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