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Featured Book Lists
Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog In One Person
by John Irving

Publishers Weekly Prep school. Wrestling. Unconventional sexual practices. Viennese interlude. This bill of particulars could only fit one American author: John Irving. His 13th novel (after Last Night in Twisted River) tells the oftentimes outrageous story of bisexual novelist Billy Abbott, who comes of age in the uptight 1950s and explores his sexuality through two decadent decades into the plague-ridden 1980s and finally to a more positive present day. Sexual confusion sets in early for Billy, simultaneously attracted to both the local female librarian and golden boy wrestler Jacques Kittredge, who treats Billy with the same disdain he shows Billy's best friend (and occasional lover) Elaine. Faced with an unsympathetic mother and an absent father who might have been gay, Billy travels to Europe, where he has affairs with a transgendered female and an older male poet, an early AIDS activist. Irving's take on the AIDS epidemic in New York is not totally persuasive (not enough confusion, terror, or anger), and his fractured time and place doesn't allow him to generate the melodramatic string of incidents that his novels are famous for. In the end, sexual secrets abound in this novel, which intermittently touches the heart as it fitfully illuminates the mutability of human desire. Agent: Dean Cooke, the Cooke Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal What is "normal"? Does it really matter? In Irving's latest novel (after Last Night in Twisted River), nearly everyone has a secret, but the characters who embrace and accept their own differences and those of others are the most content. This makes the narrator, Bill, particularly appealing. Bill knows from an early age that he is bisexual, even if he doesn't label himself as such. He has "inappropriate crushes" but doesn't make himself miserable denying that part of himself; he simply acts, for better or for worse. The reader meets Bill at 15, living on the campus of an all-boys school in Vermont where his stepfather is on the faculty. Through the memories of a much older Bill, his life story is revealed, from his teenage years in Vermont to college and life as a writer in New York City. Bill is living in New York during the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and the suffering described is truly heart-wrenching. Irving cares deeply, and the novel is not just Bill's story but a human tale. VERDICT This wonderful blend of thought-provoking, well-constructed, and meaningful writing is what one has come to expect of Irving, and it also makes for an enjoyable page-turner. [See Prepub Alert, 11/28/11.]-Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA (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* Much of Irving's thirteenth novel is piquantly charming, crisply funny, and let-your-guard-down madcap in the classic mode of a Frank Capra or Billy Wilder film. This shrewdly frolicsome ambience is tied to the amateur theatrical productions that provide the primary source of entertainment in mid-twentieth-century First Sister, Vermont, a no-place-to-hide yet nonetheless secretive small town sporting a private boy's prep school. Here lives young, fatherless Billy, whose lumberman-by-day, actor-by-night Grandpa Harry plays women's roles with baffling authenticity. By the time Billy turns 13, he realizes that something sets him apart beyond his speech impediment and determination to become a writer, namely his crushes on the wrong people, including his future stepfather, teacher and Shakespeare scholar Richard, and Miss Frost, the tall, strong librarian who eventually proves to be the key to the truth about Billy's bisexuality and his biological father. Storytelling wizard that he is, Irving revitalizes his signature motifs (New England life, wrestling, praising great writers, forbidden sex) while animating a glorious cast of misfit characters within a complicated plot. A mesmerizing, gracefully maturing narrator, Billy navigates fraught relationships with men and women and witnesses the horrors of the AIDS epidemic. Ever the fearless writer of conscience calling on readers to be open-minded, Irving performs a sweetly audacious, at times elegiac, celebration of human sexuality. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Irving is always a huge draw, and this sexually daring and compassionate tale, which harks back to the book that made him famous, The World according to Garp (1978), will garner intense media attention.--Seaman, Donna 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 Bomb
by Steve Sheinkin

Publishers Weekly In his highly readable storytelling style, Sheinkin (The Notorious Benedict Arnold) weaves together tales of scientific and technological discovery, back-alley espionage, and wartime sabotage in a riveting account of the race to build the first atomic weapon. The famous (Robert Oppenheimer) and infamous (spy Harry Gold) headline an enormous cast of characters, which also includes Norwegian resistance fighter Knut Haukelid, whose secret wartime missions prevented Hitler from acquiring an atom bomb. B&w portraits of key players appear in photo- montages that begin each of the book's four sections. Sheinkin pulls from numerous sources to supply every chapter with quotations that swiftly move the narrative forward. Suspenseful play-by-play moments will captivate, from the nuclear chain reaction test at the University of Chicago to the preparations for and dropping of the first bomb over Hiroshima. In a "genie out of the bottle" epilogue, details of the Cold War's escalating arms race and present-day weapons counts will give readers pause, especially Sheinkin's final thoughts: "It's a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you're in it." A must-read for students of history and science. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) ? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Using some of the same narrative techniques he used in the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction-winning The Notorious Benedict Arnold (2010), Sheinkin shapes the story of the Manhattan Project into a dense, complicated thriller that intercuts the action with the deftness of a Hollywood blockbuster. There are more characters than readers will be able to handle, but they'll follow the three main threads. The first is a tale of spy versus spy, as Soviet informants infiltrate America's Los Alamos laboratory. The second tracks the heroism of Knut Haukelid as he parachutes into Norway to destroy Germany's heavy water plant. Most amazing is Robert Oppenheimer's assemblage of the greatest scientific minds in the U.S. (aka the world's largest collection of crackpots ), who under great duress design the most lethal weapon in history. Sheinkin's prose understandably favors plot machinations over character, and positioning photos in the back matter feels anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the painstakingly sourced narrative crackles and drives home the strange mix of pride and horror felt by the scientists who had just won the war but lost something of equal worth.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 5 Up-"Harry Gold was right: This is a big story." So begins this depiction of the "creation-and theft-of the deadliest weapon ever invented." As he did in The Notorious Benedict Arnold (Roaring Brook, 2010), Sheinkin has again brought his superior talent for storytelling to bear in what is truly a gripping account of discovery, espionage, and revolutionary changes in both physics and the modern world. This fascinating tale, packed with a wide cast of characters, focuses mainly on three individuals: spy for the Soviets Harry Gold, leader of the Manhattan Project J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Knut Haukelid, who sabotaged German bomb efforts while working for the Norwegian resistance. Sheinkin skillfully combines lucid, conversational snapshots of the science behind the atomic bomb with a fast-paced narrative of the remarkable people who made it possible and attempted to steal it. Handsomely designed and loaded with archival photos and primary-source documents, the accessible volume lays out how the bomb was envisioned and brought to fruition. While the historical information and hard facts presented here will likely be new to the intended audience, they in no way overwhelm readers or detract from the thoroughly researched, well-documented account. It reads like an international spy thriller, and that's the beauty of it.-Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL (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.

Publishers Weekly In his highly readable storytelling style, Sheinkin (The Notorious Benedict Arnold) weaves together tales of scientific and technological discovery, back-alley espionage, and wartime sabotage in a riveting account of the race to build the first atomic weapon. The famous (Robert Oppenheimer) and infamous (spy Harry Gold) headline an enormous cast of characters, which also includes Norwegian resistance fighter Knut Haukelid, whose secret wartime missions prevented Hitler from acquiring an atom bomb. B&w portraits of key players appear in photo- montages that begin each of the book's four sections. Sheinkin pulls from numerous sources to supply every chapter with quotations that swiftly move the narrative forward. Suspenseful play-by-play moments will captivate, from the nuclear chain reaction test at the University of Chicago to the preparations for and dropping of the first bomb over Hiroshima. In a "genie out of the bottle" epilogue, details of the Cold War's escalating arms race and present-day weapons counts will give readers pause, especially Sheinkin's final thoughts: "It's a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you're in it." A must-read for students of history and science. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) ? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Using some of the same narrative techniques he used in the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction-winning The Notorious Benedict Arnold (2010), Sheinkin shapes the story of the Manhattan Project into a dense, complicated thriller that intercuts the action with the deftness of a Hollywood blockbuster. There are more characters than readers will be able to handle, but they'll follow the three main threads. The first is a tale of spy versus spy, as Soviet informants infiltrate America's Los Alamos laboratory. The second tracks the heroism of Knut Haukelid as he parachutes into Norway to destroy Germany's heavy water plant. Most amazing is Robert Oppenheimer's assemblage of the greatest scientific minds in the U.S. (aka the world's largest collection of crackpots ), who under great duress design the most lethal weapon in history. Sheinkin's prose understandably favors plot machinations over character, and positioning photos in the back matter feels anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the painstakingly sourced narrative crackles and drives home the strange mix of pride and horror felt by the scientists who had just won the war but lost something of equal worth.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 5 Up-"Harry Gold was right: This is a big story." So begins this depiction of the "creation-and theft-of the deadliest weapon ever invented." As he did in The Notorious Benedict Arnold (Roaring Brook, 2010), Sheinkin has again brought his superior talent for storytelling to bear in what is truly a gripping account of discovery, espionage, and revolutionary changes in both physics and the modern world. This fascinating tale, packed with a wide cast of characters, focuses mainly on three individuals: spy for the Soviets Harry Gold, leader of the Manhattan Project J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Knut Haukelid, who sabotaged German bomb efforts while working for the Norwegian resistance. Sheinkin skillfully combines lucid, conversational snapshots of the science behind the atomic bomb with a fast-paced narrative of the remarkable people who made it possible and attempted to steal it. Handsomely designed and loaded with archival photos and primary-source documents, the accessible volume lays out how the bomb was envisioned and brought to fruition. While the historical information and hard facts presented here will likely be new to the intended audience, they in no way overwhelm readers or detract from the thoroughly researched, well-documented account. It reads like an international spy thriller, and that's the beauty of it.-Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL (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.

...More
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The crossover
by by Kwame Alexander

School Library Journal Gr 6-10-Twins Josh and Jordan are junior high basketball stars, thanks in large part to the coaching of their dad, a former professional baller who was forced to quit playing for health reasons, and the firm, but loving support of their assistant-principal mom. Josh, better known as Filthy McNasty, earned his nickname for his enviable skills on the court: ".when Filthy gets hot/He has a SLAMMERIFIC SHOT." In this novel in verse, the brothers begin moving apart from each other for the first time. Jordan starts dating the "pulchritudinous" Miss Sweet Tea, and Josh has a tough time keeping his jealousy and feelings of abandonment in control. Alexander's poems vary from the pulsing, aggressive beats of a basketball game ("My shot is F L O W I N G, Flying, fluttering.. ringaling and SWINGALING/Swish. Game/over") to the more introspective musings of a child struggling into adolescence ("Sit beside JB at dinner. He moves./Tell him a joke. He doesn't even smile..Say I'm sorry/but he won't listen"). Despite his immaturity, Josh is a likable, funny, and authentic character. Underscoring the sports and the fraternal tension is a portrait of a family that truly loves and supports one another. Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Book list The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some differences Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. With a former professional basketball player dad and an assistant principal mom, there is an intensely strong home front supporting sports and education in equal measures. When life intervenes in the form of a hot new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. An accomplished author and poet, Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond. The effect is poetry in motion. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both.--Bush, Gail Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Josh Bell, known on and off the court by the nickname Filthy McNasty, doesn't lack self-confidence, but neither does he lack the skills to back up his own mental in-game commentary: "I rise like a Learjet-/ seventh-graders aren't supposed to dunk./ But guess what?/ I snatch the ball out of the air and/ SLAM!/ YAM! IN YOUR MUG!" Josh is sure that he and his twin brother, JB, are going pro, following in the footsteps of their father, who played professional ball in Europe. But Alexander (He Said, She Said) drops hints that Josh's trajectory may be headed back toward Earth: his relationship with JB is strained by a new girl at school, and the boys' father health is in increasingly shaky territory. The poems dodge and weave with the speed of a point guard driving for the basket, mixing basketball action with vocabulary-themed poems, newspaper clippings, and Josh's sincere first-person accounts that swing from moments of swagger-worthy triumph to profound pain. This verse novel delivers a real emotional punch before the final buzzer. Ages 9-12. Agent: East West Literary Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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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 The hour of peril : the secret plot to murder Lincoln before the Civil War
by Daniel Stashower

Book list *Starred Review* Some of President Lincoln's associates and some historians have questioned if the supposed conspiracy to assassinate him upon his arrival in Baltimore was serious. Stashower has no doubt that the plot was real, and he has written a convincing and well-researched chronicle of it and the successful effort to thwart it. His story has the necessary elements of a successful historical thriller, including a determined assassin; a wily, intrepid detective; a serpentine plot; and, in Lincoln, an important and sympathetic potential victim. Stashower seems determined to lay out the painstaking details of the plot; although it provides credibility, it sometimes acts as a drag on the narrative. Still, the stakes are high, so the story has a built-in urgency and excitement. The detective, the soon-to-be-famous Allan Pinkerton, is a relentless and clever sleuth, and the chief conspirator, a Baltimore barber named Ferrandini, is a formidable adversary. Despite some slow moments, the book generally succeeds as both a historical inquiry and a detective story.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly John Wilkes Booth succeeded in 1865, but the first major plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln unfolded in 1861 in anticipation of the then president-elect's railway trip to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration. Stashower (The Beautiful Cigar Girl) explains how Allan Pinkerton, a temperamental Scottish cooper turned "fierce and incorruptible lawman" and founder of the Pinkerton Agency, sought to infiltrate and obfuscate a murderous group led by Cypriano Ferrandini, an outspoken Italian barber in Baltimore. Interwoven with the tale of Pinkerton and company's efforts to foil what would become known as the Baltimore Plot, Stashower offers a rich portrait of a resolute but weary Lincoln as he makes his way, both politically and physically, to the White House. As everyone knows, he arrived without incident, but while he saved his skin, he lost some respect for stealing into the capital "like a thief in the night," as one newspaper put it. The book starts out slow, but once Stashower lets the Pinkerton operatives loose, their race against time as Lincoln's train speeds toward Maryland makes for an enthralling page-turner that is sure to please true crime, thriller, and history fans. Photos. (Feb.). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal The first known attempt to murder Abraham Lincoln occurred in February 1861 during his railway journey from Springfield, IL, to Washington, DC, for his inauguration. Stashower (The Beautiful Cigar Girl) details how Allan Pinkerton, head of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, managed to stop a band of rebels bent on killing the president-elect in Baltimore. Stashower describes a campaign-weary, nonchalant, and somewhat incautious Abraham Lincoln, traveling east toward the presidency. The author records him arriving safely in DC after stealing through Maryland's darkened countryside and Baltimore's precincts as "a thief in the night"-at Pinkerton's behest, but in the process forfeiting a measure of political stature to his detractors, who questioned his courage and fitness for office. The tale builds methodically before shifting into dramatic mode as Pinkerton, in fewer than two weeks, uncovers and quashes the would-be assassins' designs, assisted by agent Kate Warne, the leader of Pinkerton's female undercover unit. VERDICT Stashower's character-driven narrative and lively writing style reveal the finely honed skills of an accomplished mystery writer. Recommended.-John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland (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.

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