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May 2008 staff book reviews

The PLS and hometown libraries staff have selected some interesting titles to share with you this month. If you enjoy Adult Fiction or Non-Fiction, Teen or Children's books our reviewers have you covered!
Give them a read and see if you agree!

 
 
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver RelinThree Cups of Tea: one man's mission to fight terrorism and build nations - one school at a time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
5 star rating
Genre: Adult Non-Fiction
Staff Reviewer: Cindy Stevens, Center for Reader's Services

While coming down from a failed climb of K2 in northern Pakistan in 1993, Greg Mortenson got lost from his porter. Emaciated and lost in one of the most inhospitible parts of the world, Mortenson wandered into the small, remote village of Korphe and was nursed back to health. While gaining his strength back he makes friends in the small Muslim village and was struck by the lack of educational opportunities for the children. He vowed to come back and build a school. Through much personal hardship, courage and ingenuity, not only does he build a school for Khorphe he becomes the director of Central Asia Institute with a mission "to promote and provide community-based education and literacy programs, especially for girls, in remote mountain regions of Central Asia." CAI has since built over 55 schools. This is the inspiring story of one man's mission to change the world. A non-fiction story that is as gripping as any thriller, this is a page turner with heart and soul. Mortenson's schools are changing the world and this book will change yours. Highly recommended and also available on CD.


People of the book by Geraldine BrooksPeople of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
5 star rating
Genre: Adult Fiction
Staff Reviewer: Brenda Johnson, Information Services Manager, Moore Public Library

This is a novel about a 500 year old Haggadah, a book about the Israelites' escape from Egypt meant to be read at the Passover seder table. This Haggadah is especially valuable because it is illuminated with brilliantly-colored paintings. Among other things, the book has escaped Servian artillery barrages in Sarajevo and Nazi searches for Jewish treasures. Hanna Heath is an Australian book conservator who comes to Sarajevo in 1996 to prepare the book for display in a museum exhibit celebrating the triumph of diversity over ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. As Hanna examines the book, she finds among the pages a wine stain, a grain of salt, a minuscule piece of an insect's wing, and a tiny white hair. She wonders how these objects came to be inside the book. What horrors has the book endured to survive 500 years of Jewish persecution, including expulsion from Spain and book burnings in Venice: Much like the book Girl in Hyacinth Blue and the movie The Red Violin, People of the Book is a series of short stories tracing the life of a beautiful object, fleshing out the people who have created it, rescued it, cherished it, and tried to destroy it. Although there really is an illustrated Haggadah surviving in Sarajevo, the author's accounts of the book's travels are fiction. But, her research and knowledge of Jewish history make the stories seem entirely plausible. CSI fans will enjoy the science that goes into determining what insect the wing fragment comes from, if the salt comes fro the land or sea, if the white hair is human or animal and the shocking element that has been mixed with the wine. Interwoven with the story of the book is Hanna's own story: her extensive training in her profession and her struggles with a difficult but brilliant mother who doesn't respect Hanna's chosen career. An accident in Boston leads Hanna to discover a secret about her life that changes the course of her own history. Librarians are often the heroes in the Haggadah's rescue, and all book lovers will rejoice in the triumph of the book. This bestseller is also on CD.


Geography of Bliss by Eric WeinerGeography of Bliss: one grump's search for the happiest places in the world by Eric Weiner
5 star rating
Genre: Adult Non-Fiction
Staff Reviewer: Cindy Stevens, Center for Reader's Services

Eric Weiner (pronounced, ironically, winer) is a self proclaimed grump. As a foreign correspondent for NPR he has lived and visited many exotic places in the world. Now living in the US he wanted to travel, as he says, "on someone else's dime" and thought research for a book would be the perfect answer. Geography of Bliss is part humor, part travelogue, and part foreign affairs essay that takes the reader from America to Holland, Qatar, Bhutan, Moldova, England, India and back again in the search for the happiest place on earth - or even the least unhappy. Why are people happy? Does democracy make the difference, close family and community ties, legal drugs, or does a governmental happiness index secure national happiness? Weiner takes the reader on a delightful world tour in search of the elusive State of Bliss. This book is highly recommended and may lead to the reader's own first step on the "yellow brick road" to personal happiness. Check out Geography of Bliss on CD or download the audio, both are read by the author.


Life as we knew it by Susan PfefferLife as We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer
4 star rating
Genre: Teen Fiction
Staff Reviewer: Jenny Stenis, Center for Reader's Services

This story looks at what would happen if a meteor collided with the moon and moved it's orbit closer to the earth. What was only to be a minor event turns into a catastrophe of global proportions as the climate alters drastically. Events are told in the voice of teenage Miranda who only wants life to go back to normal. This is a heart pounding account of her and her family's struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all - hope. This is a spellbinding book. Both my daughter and I read this in one sitting. I have heard that there is a sequel on the way. Put me on the hold list!


Not a box by Antionette PortisNot a Box by Antionette Portis
5 star rating
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Staff Reviewer: Valerie Kimble, Center for Reader's Services

Current winner of the Donna Norvell Award, a librarian's choice award for outstanding picture book, given by members of the Oklahoma Library Association, Not a Box is not for grown ups. It is a book of simple line drawings of a rabbit and a box. Adults may have to puzzle over the transformations of the box, but ask a six year old, and they will tell you, just like the rabbit, "It's not a box!" The children can see that it is an airplane, a pirate ship, a robot, etc., etc. If you ever need an illustration for the saying, "think outside the box", Not a Box is it.


Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA by Kris RadishSearching for Paradise in Parker, PA by Kris Radish
4 star rating
Genre: Adult Fiction
Staff Reviewer: Tassey Beeson, McLoud Public Library

Addy Lipton's life is in a rut. Her son has gone off to college and it's just her and her husband, Lucky, left at home. The only thing that keeps her going is the fantasy of running her car into the garage door of what she calls her husband's "kingdom of krap". Lucky still loves her, but he is not sure that he is "in love" with her. When he wins a contest that will send them on a vacation of a lifetime, he is sure that this is what they both need. On the day that they are to leave, Lucky throws his back out and has to have surgery. So the long awaited trip is on hold indefinitely. Addy realizes that she can not and does not want to take care of Lucky as he recuperates. This starts the summer of Addy's journey to find herself. She takes her crazy single sister and her best friends from her workout group along for the ride. The women of Parker, PA all find themselves and the men they fell in love with. This is a book about friends, families, loves lost and love found. You will cheer, laugh out loud and cry with the crazy women from Parker, PA.


Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman Compulsion: an Alex Delaware novel by Jonathan Kellerman
5 star rating
Genre: Adult Fiction
Staff Reviewer: Sue Walker, Tecumseh Public Library

Psychologist Alex Delaware and LAPD Detective Milo Sturgis track down a serial killer in the latest installment of the Delaware series. Once again Kellerman has written a fast-paced novel that keeps the reader engaged to the very last page. The ruthless killer uses disguises to fool and entrap his victims. As Alex and Milo unravel the clues and put together a profile of the killer they begin to wonder just how many victims the killer has left behind. If you love mysteries and whodunits, I highly recommend this novel as well as the others in the Delaware series. This, and many other Alex Delaware novels, is also available in audio.
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