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Kern County Library Staff Suggests...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Look What's New for Kids!

The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young - "In Ed Young's childhood home in Shanghai, all was not as it seemed: a rocking chair became a horse; a roof became a roller rink; an empty swimming pool became a place for riding scooters and bikes. The house his father built transformed as needed into a place to play hide-and-seek, to eat bamboo shoots, and to be safe. For outside the home's walls, China was at war. Soon the house held not only Ed and his four siblings but also friends, relatives, and even strangers who became family. The war grew closer, and Ed watched as planes flew overhead and friends joined the Chinese air force. But through it all, Ed's childhood remained full of joy and imagination."

Look What's New for Teens!

Stake That! by Mari Mancusi - Still reeling from having lost her chance to become a vampire, sixteen-year-old Rayne learns that she is destined to be the new Vampire Slayer and must go undercover to stop a maniacal member of the undead who seeks vengeance and power by spreading a fatal blood disease.

December Recommendations for Kids

Llama Llama Home with Mama by Anna Dewdney - Llama Llama is back and now is sick! Lots of tissues, bed rest, and Mama Llama to the rescue, until Mama Llama feels sick and then Llama Llama takes care of her!

Hound Dog True by Linda Urban - Just one week till school begins and shy Mattie will be the new girl again. Her plan is to be the custodial apprentice to her Uncle Potluck, and avoid awkward fifth grade situations. Mattie is a writer, and Uncle Potluck provides plenty of material with his ‘hound dog true’ stories; like the cafeteria chef who hunts and serves gophers every third Thursday! Mattie learns much about sharing secrets and being brave.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to NOT Reading by Tommy Greenwald - Charlie Joe HATES reading, and provides valuable tips on how to avoid reading at all costs. Now he is in middle school, and avoiding reading is becoming truly tricky .He does not hate all books, he likes checkbooks, facebook, comic books and yearbooks. Usually he buys his friend an ice cream sandwich and his friend reads the book and tells him about it, but that is not working anymore!

The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Odyssey - Oona has natural magic, a magic so rare it come along every one hundred years, but she wants to be a detective. She is forced to solve an important case when her uncle is attacked, and she must delve into the realm of magic.

Scary School by Derek the Ghost by Scott Fischer - Derek attends Scary School and died when one of the science experiments went terribly wrong, and now is hanging around the school as a ghost, and doing some ghostwriting. The teachers are quite alarming: Ms. Fang ate twelve kids during the last year, Mr.Spidereyes has one hundred tiny spider eyes, and Dr. Dragonbreath ate 29 of his students, but will regurgitate them in nine months as young dragons. Come enjoy the school year at Scary School!

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce - In the forests of Eastern Siberia lives the last survivor from Atlantis, a wizard of extraordinary powers and imagination. He lives in a small village called Santoff Claussen, which is from an ancient phrase from Atlantis that meant ‘place of dreams”, where every home had a secret trapdoor or magic room. This is the story of Nicholas St. North and his search for another five Guardians.

December Recommendations for Teens

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld - An alternate history of world war I, with the end in sight as alek and deryn strive to stop World war I, on board the Leviathan, a giant airship. Alek is destined to reclaim the Austrian throne, but thena mad inventor, Tessler threatens to unleash a deadly weapon of unheard of power.

Wisdom’s Kiss by Catherine Murdock - Magic! Villany! And a Cat! Three intertwined stories told from letters, diaries, an encyclopedia, and a play are woven together to complete a rollicking tale of romance, royalty, humor, and a dash of intrigue. Trudy can see the future, but only of those near her, and not always when it matters greatly.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Geir - Charlotte has the time-travel gene, but then why does sixteen-year old Gwen suddenly find herself back in 18th century London, wondering who she can trust? With handsome Gideon by her side, Gwen encounters espionage, murder and plenty of intrigue to keep the reader guessing.

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti - Lani and Erin are lifelong best friends bound together by a life-altering event from their younger years. When Erin notices Jason, Lani notices him too, but unfortunately, he is not available. When Jason notices her, and Erin goes away for the summer, relationships change. When summer is over, and their senior year begins, all that can go wrong does. What is stronger, Lani’s loyalty to Erin, or her love for Jason?

December Recommendations for Adults


Before the End, After the Beginning by Dagoberto Gilb - Before the End, After the Beginning is a personal and honest collection of ten exquisite stories from Dagoberto Gilb. The pieces come in the wake of a stroke Gilb suffered at his home in Austin, Texas, in 2009, and a majority of the stories were written over many months of recovery. The result is a powerful and triumphant collection that tackles common themes of mortality and identity and describes the American experience in a raw, authentic vernacular unique to Gilb.

These ten stories take readers throughout the American West and Southwest, from Los Angeles and Albuquerque to El Paso and Austin. Gilb covers territory familiar to some of his earlier work—a mother and son’s relationship in Southern California in the story ‘Uncle Rock’ or a character looking to shed his mixed up past in ‘The Last Time I Saw Junior’—while dealing with themes of mortality and limitation that have arisen during his own illness. Confronting issues of masculinity, sexuality, and mortality, Gilb has recovered and produced what may be his most extraordinary achievement to date.

The Beginners by Rebecca Wolff - Dread and desire hang deliciously over every page of Wolff's gothic tale of an adolescent New England girl's unlikely education. Ginger is imaginative, her nose always in a book, and not as advanced, sexually or socially, as her best friend, Cherry, who wants to talk to boys rather than play castle at the abandoned mill. Ginger's family, meanwhile, has lived in a state of near suspended animation since the death of her older brother. But when an odd young couple walk into the cafe where Ginger works, she has her own entrée into a sophisticated world of frank sex talk and philosophical musings. The Motherwells, Raquel and Theo, say they are in town to research the town's past—witch trials, the legend of a town sunk beneath the reservoir—and they allow Ginger and Cherry, but mostly Ginger, into their strange cohort and a party to their sometimes alarming schemes. As Ginger starts avoiding most contact that does not involve the Motherwells, her shrinking world grows more sinister and seductive. Wolff conjures the state of smothering awe and fixation Ginger has for the Motherwells, and her twin needs to be wanted by them sexually and as a stand-in daughter lends a throbbing urgency to a novel as creepy as it is marvelous. (Publisher’s Weekly)

Fever Dream by Dennis Palumbo - There’s a sweltering heat wave outside. Nearly a year after Pittsburgh psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi helped unravel a baffling murder, he finds himself drawn into another case. When a daring bank robbery goes horribly wrong, resulting in the deaths of all the hostages except one, Rinaldi is called in to question Treva Williams, the traumatized young woman who survived. However, what seemed a simple robbery soon explodes into a series of events that plunge the investigating officers, Sgt. Harry Polk and Det. Eleanor Lowrey—as well as Rinaldi himself—into a vortex of mistaken identity and kidnapping. Meanwhile, thrown together by the demands of the case, Rinaldi and Eleanor deal with the growing attraction between them. Then there’s the gubernatorial campaign of Rinaldi’s former romantic rival, District Attorney Leland Sinclair. Plot twists multiply as a frenzy of accusations and political maneuvering gathers steam.

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney - Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed. But before the accident that landed him there, he'd been hired to find Rose Janko, the wife of a charismatic son of a traveling Gypsy family, who went missing seven years earlier. Half Romany himself, Ray is well aware that he's been chosen more for his blood than his investigative skills. Still, he's surprised by the intense hostility he encounters from the Jankos, who haven't had an easy past. Touched by tragedy, they're either cursed or hiding a terrible secret-whose discovery Ray can't help suspecting is connected to Rose's disappearance.


Your Medical Mind by Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband - Making the right medical choices is harder than ever. Whether we're deciding to take a cholesterol drug or choosing a cancer treatment, we are overwhelmed by information from all sides: our doctors' recommendations, dissenting expert opinions, confusing statistics, conflicting media reports, the advice of friends, claims on the Internet, and a never-ending stream of drug company ads. Your Medical Mind shows us how to chart a clear path through this sea of confusion. Drs. Groopman and Hartzband reveal that each of us has a set of deeply rooted beliefs whose profound influence we may not realize when we make medical decisions. How much trust we place in authority figures, in statistics, or in other patients' stories, in science and technology or in natural healing, and whether we seek the most or the least treatment-all are key factors that shape our choices. When conflicting information pulls us back and forth between options, when we feel pressured by doctors or loved ones to make a particular choice, or when we have no previous experience to guide us through a crisis, Your Medical Mind will prove an essential companion.

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor - The history of humanity is a history of invention and innovation, as we have continually created new items to use, to admire, or to leave our mark on the world. In this original and thought-provoking book, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, has selected one hundred man-made artifacts, each of which gives us an intimate glimpse of an unexpected turning point in human civilization. From the very first hand axe to the ubiquitous credit card, each item has a story to tell; together they relate the larger history of mankind-revealing who we are by looking at what we have made.

Pinched: How the Great Recession has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It by Don Peck - What lies on the other side of Great Recession? While the most acute part of the economic crisis is past, the downturn's most significant impact on American life remains in the future. The personal, cultural, and political changes that result from severe economic shocks build slowly. But history shows us that, ultimately, downturns like this one profoundly alter the character of society. Don Peck's Pinched keenly observes how the recession has changed the places we live, the work we do, and even who we are--and details the transformations that are yet to come. Every class and every generation will be affected: newly minted college graduates, blue-collar men, affluent professionals, exurban families, elite financiers, middle-class retirees. We sit today between two eras, buffeted, anxious, and uncertain of the future. Through vivid reporting and lucid argument, Peck helps us make sense of how our society has changed, and why so many people are still struggling.

SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden by Chuck Pfarrar - On May 2, 2011, at 1:03 a.m. a satellite uplink was sent from Pakistan crackling into the situation room of the White House: "Geronimo, Echo, KIA." These words, spoken by a Navy SEAL, ended Osama bin Laden’s reign of terror. SEAL Target Geronimo is the story of Neptune's Spear from the men who were there. After talking to members of the SEAL team involved in the raid, Pfarrer shares never-before-revealed details in an exclusive account of what happened as he takes readers inside the walls of Bin Laden’s compound penetrating deep into the terrorist’s lair to reach the exact spot where the Al Qaeda leader was cowering when the bullet entered his head. SEAL Target Geronimo is an explosive story of unparalleled valor and clockwork military precision carried out by the most elite fighting force in the world—the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Look What's New for Teens!

Kekkaishi, volume 26 by Yellow Tanabe - Yoshimori tries to perfect the technique of emptying his mind. Some of his friends might consider this not too much of a challenge... Meanwhile, the leader of the Shadow Organization gives some shocking new orders, leading to horrific consequences for the Karasumori Site - and Yoshimori is implicated! Will Soji help him by spilling some beans...or remain as tight-lipped as ever? Then, things get even scarier with the arrival of clowns!

Look What's New for Kids!

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu - A stunning modern-day fairy tale from acclaimed author Anne Ursu. Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before he stopped talking to her and disappeared into a forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it's up to Hazel to go in after him. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," "Breadcrumbs" is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

November Recommendations for Teens

Forever—Wolves of Mercy Falls #3 by Maggie Stiefvater - This final chapter in the Wolves of Mercy Falls triology finds Grace and Sam facing the biggest challenge of their lives. The wolves are being hunted, and the date has been set for elimination of the pack. Assisted by their friends, Cole and Isabelle, Grace and Sam fight for a plan to save the wolves, and their love . . . forever. A fast paced and fitting end to this series, fans of Shiver and Linger will find this read satisfying on all levels.

The Limit by Kristen Landon - When families exceed their financial debt limit, their children are wisked off to the Federal Debt Rehabilitaion Agency workhouse to work off their family debt. Matt is 13 years old and shocked when his family exceeds their spending limit and he is forcibly carted off to the workhouse. Once there, Matt uncovers suspicious occurances at the workhouse, and wonders if he and the other youth will ever be freed.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick - Alex running from her incurable brain tumor hiked into the woods to deal with the death of her parents and her dreams. When an electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, it kills billions and destroys every electronic devise and computer. Alex fights to survive accompanied by Tom, an ex- soldier, and bratty eight year old Ellie. Who can be trusted, and who is no longer human? What will people will do to survive? A zombie thriller!

The Auslander by Paul Dowswell - Peter and other Polish boys from the orphanage have been chosen by the Nazis to be reclaimed by the German National Community and to be adopted by a German family. Peter joins the Hitler Youth, and slowly becomes aware of the creeping evil and horrors of the war; he is faced with a most dangerous decision.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore - In Paradise, Ohio, 15 year old John, a fugitive on the run from his ruthless enemies the Mogadorians, has hidden with his guardian Henri. There were nine refugees from the planet Lorien, and the Mogadorians must kill them in order. #1 through #3 have been caught and killed- John is #4 and has amazing strength and speed. John and Henri are constantly on the move, hoping to gain enough time for John to train and his legacies to appear before the inevitable showdown.

Daughters of the Sea by Kathryn Lasky - May is forbidden from swimming, but following her fifteenth birthday, the pull of the sea becomes overwhelming. May discovers she belongs more to the world of the sea, and she meets a visiting college student astronomer. Suddenly there’s a choice between the freedom of the sea and her sisters, and love on land.

Megiddo’s Shadow by Arthur Slade - Edward Bathe is shocked and grieving for his older brother when he runs away to enlist leaving his widowed, deeply depressed father alone on the family farm. Edward wants to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of the Huns during World War I, but he is sent to Palestine where war is more brutal than he has imagined. There on the plains of Megiddo soldiers, horses and friends die from heat, disease and battle wounds. A riveting coming of age story.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November Recommendations for Kids


The Boy in the Oak
by Jessica Albarn - The boy in the cottage has a disdain for nature, and especially for the ancient oak tree in the forest adjacent to his garden. The fairies in the oak do not take kindly to his mistreatment, and decide to teach him a lesson. The boy becomes a part of the oak tree, and feels its pain. . . A new girl arrives in the cottage. Curious about the mystery of the boy who disappeared years before, she goes in search of the magic that snatched him away. Can she break the fairies’ spell?

A visually stunning book that will appeal to lovers of nature, magic, and fairy tales, this book is a solid read that is not too lengthy. A short film version of this story is in the works, which will undoubtedly increase its popularity.

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss - One bright sunny day, a duck named McKluck found a magic Bippolo Seed! When the seed is planted, whatever one hishes for will sprout and grow out of a Bippolo Tree. Unfortunately McKluck is influenced by an imaginative, greedy cat. Other exuberant tales involve a quick thinking rabbit, an overgrown goldfish and an abundance of Seussian creatures!

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick - Following the success of the 2009 Caldecott winner, the invention of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstuck contains two separate stories set fifty years apart, of Ben and Rose. Ben’s story is told in words of his search for the father he has never known. Rose’s story is told in pictures as she dreams of a mysterious actress and freedom from her narrow, deaf world. As Ben follows puzzling clues from his mother’s room, his story ultimately intertwines with Rose’s. A satisfying, mysterious read.

The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece by Anthony L. Manna - A magical retelling of the classic Cinderella story, and a mother’s blessing which extends from beyond the grave. The orphan girl was “as brilliant as the sun, as beautiful as the moon, and as graceful as the dawn.” A tiny blue shoe stuck in a sticky mix of honey and wax sets the lovestruck prince on his quest.


Inside Earthquakes
by Melissa Stewart - More than one million earthquakes shake the earth every year! This book discusses the three kinds of faults, how scientists predict quakes, how quakes are measured, and how to prepare. Also covered are amazing close up shots of recent earthquakes with fold-out photos.

The Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss - Ida loved the sea, and was enthralled when her father was appointed the lighthouse keeper of the Lime Rock Lighthouse in Rhode Island. Her father taught her to row and care for the light. Her father became ill, and at sixteen, Ida performed her first rescue. For thirty-nine years she was the keeper of Lime Rock Lighthouse, and was sixty-three when she made her last rescue. She was dubbed ‘the bravest woman in America’, and awarded the American Cross of Honor, and the Congressional Life Saving medal. Ida proved a woman could be a s brave as a man, and claimed, “anyone who thinks it is un-feminine to save lives has the brains of a donkey.”

November Recommendations for Adults


Aftertaste: A Novel in Five Courses by Meredith Mileti - Mira Rinaldi lives life at a rolling boil. Co-owner of Grappa, a chic New York City trattoria, she has an enviable apartment, a brand-new baby, and a frenzied schedule befitting her success. Everything changes the night she catches her husband, Jake, "wielding his whisk" with Grappa's new waitress. Mira's fiery response earns her a court-ordered stint in anger management and the beginning of legal and personal predicaments as she battles to save her restaurant and pick up the pieces of her life.

Mira falls back on family and friends in Pittsburgh as she struggles to find a recipe for happiness. But the heat is really on when some surprising developments in New York present her with a high stakes opportunity to win back what she thought she had lost forever. For Mira, cooking isn't just about delicious flavors and textures, but about the pleasure found in filling others' needs. And the time has come to decide where her own fulfilment lies - even if the answers are unexpected.

Keenly observed and deeply satisfying, Aftertaste is a novel about rebuilding and rediscovery, about food passionately prepared and unapologetically savored, and about the singular contentment that comes with living--and loving--with gusto.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami - The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo. A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory - Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the wheel of fortune before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream. Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, and he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. Henry the king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret the queen turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York, threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty. Jacquetta fights for her king, her queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.

A sweeping, powerful story rich in passion and legend and drawing on years of research, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the real-life mother of the white queen.

The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro - From the authors of the instant New York Times bestsellers The Strain and The Fall comes the final volume in one of the most electrifying thriller series in years.

It’s been two years since the vampiric virus was unleashed in The Strain, and the entire world now lies on the brink of annihilation. There is only night as nuclear winter blankets the land, the sun filtering through the poisoned atmosphere for two hours each day—the perfect environment for the propagation of vampires. There has been a mass extermination of humans, the best and the brightest, the wealthy and the influential, orchestrated by the Master—an ancient vampire possessed of unparalleled powers—who selects survivors based on compliance. Those humans who remain are entirely subjugated, interred in camps, and separated by status: those who breed more humans, and those who are bled for the sustenance of the Master’s vast army.

The future of humankind lies in the hands of a ragtag band of freedom fighters—Dr. Eph Goodweather, former head of the Centers for Disease Control’s biological threats team; Dr. Nora Martinez, a fellow doctor with a talent for dispatching the undead; Vasiliy Fet, the colorful Russian exterminator; and Mr. Quinlan, the half-breed offspring of the Master who is bent on revenge. It’s their job to rescue Eph’s son, Zack, and overturn this devastating new world order. But good and evil are malleable terms now, and the Master is most skilled at preying on the weaknesses of humans. Now, at this critical hour, there is evidence of a traitor in their midst. . . . And only one man holds the answer to the Master’s demise, but is he one who can be trusted with the fate of the world? And who among them will pay the ultimate sacrifice—so that others may be saved?


The Beautiful and the Damned: a Portrait of the New India by Siddhartha Deb - Siddhartha Deb grew up in a remote town in the northeastern hills of India and made his way to the United States via a fellowship at Columbia. Six years after leaving home, he returned as an undercover reporter for The Guardian, working at a call center in Delhi in 2004, a time when globalization was fast proceeding and Thomas L. Friedman declared the world flat. Deb’s experience interviewing the call-center staff led him to undertake this book and travel throughout the subcontinent.

The Beautiful and the Damned examines India’s many contradictions through various individual and extraordinary perspectives. With lyrical and commanding prose, Deb introduces the reader to an unforgettable group of Indians, including a Gatsby-like mogul in Delhi whose hobby is producing big-budget gangster films that no one sees; a wiry, dusty farmer named Gopeti whose village is plagued by suicides and was the epicenter of a riot; and a sad-eyed waitress named Esther who has set aside her dual degrees in biochemistry and botany to serve Coca-Cola to arms dealers at an upscale hotel called Shangri La.

Like no other writer, Deb humanizes the post-globalization experience—its advantages, failures, and absurdities. India is a country where you take a nap and someone has stolen your job, where you buy a BMW but still have to idle for cows crossing your path. A personal, narrative work of journalism and cultural analysis in the same vein as Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family and V. S. Naipaul’s India series, The Beautiful and the Damned is an important and incisive new work.

The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America by Hugh Thomas - From a master chronicler of Spanish history comes a magnificent work about the pivotal years from 1522 to 1566, when Spain was the greatest European power. Hugh Thomas has written a rich and riveting narrative of exploration, progress, and plunder. At its center is the unforgettable ruler who fought the French and expanded the Spanish empire, and the bold conquistadors who were his agents. Thomas brings to life King Charles V—first as a gangly and easygoing youth, then as a liberal statesman who exceeded all his predecessors in his ambitions for conquest (while making sure to maintain the humanity of his new subjects in the Americas), and finally as a besieged Catholic leader obsessed with Protestant heresy and interested only in profiting from those he presided over.

The Golden Empire also presents the legendary men whom King Charles V sent on perilous and unprecedented expeditions: Hernán Cortés, who ruled the “New Spain” of Mexico as an absolute monarch—and whose rebuilding of its capital, Tenochtitlan, was Spain’s greatest achievement in the sixteenth century; Francisco Pizarro, who set out with fewer than two hundred men for Peru, infamously executed the last independent Inca ruler, Atahualpa, and was finally murdered amid intrigue; and Hernando de Soto, whose glittering journey to settle land between Rio de la Palmas in Mexico and the southernmost keys of Florida ended in disappointment and death. Hugh Thomas reveals as never before their torturous journeys through jungles, their brutal sea voyages amid appalling storms and pirate attacks, and how a cash-hungry Charles backed them with loans—and bribes—obtained from his German banking friends.

A sweeping, compulsively readable saga of kings and conquests, armies and armadas, dominance and power, The Golden Empire is a crowning achievement of the Spanish world’s foremost historian.

Outlaws Inc.: Under the Radar and on the Black Market with the World’s Most Dangerous Smugglers by Matt Potter - This riveting account reveals the secret corners of our supposedly flat world: black markets where governments are never seen but still spend outrageous amounts of money. Journalist Matt Potter tells the story of Yuri and his crew, a gang of Russian military men who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union found themselves without work or prospects. So they bought a decommissioned Soviet plane-at liquidation prices, straight from the Russian government-and started a shipping business. It wasn't long before Yuri, and many pilots like him, found themselves an unlikely (and ethically dubious) hub of global trading. Men like these are paid by the U.S., the Taliban, and blue-chip multinational companies to bring supplies- some legal, some not-across dangerous borders.

In a feat of daring reportage, Potter gets onto the flight deck with these outlaws and tells the story of their fearless missions. Dodging gunfire, Potter is taken from place to place by men trafficking everything from illicit weapons to emergency aid, making enemies everywhere but no reliable friends. As the world changes, we see the options for the crew first explode, then slowly diminish, until, in a desperate maneuver, they move their operations to the most lawless corners of Africa, where they operate to this day.

The story of these outlaws is a microcosm of the world since the end of the cold war: secret contracts, guerrilla foreign policy, and conflicts too thorny to be handled in public. Potter uses the story of these men to articulate an underground history of the globalized world. At once thrilling, provocative, and morally circumspect, this book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in espionage, or in how the world works today.

Warrior Police: Rolling with American’s Military Police in the World’s Trouble Spots by Gordon Cucullu - America has been at war on several fronts since the 9/11 attack. While public attention has focused on Marines, conventional Army units, and Special Operations Forces, a lion’s share of the war-fighting has been done, under media radar, by Military Police units. These squad and platoon-sized units patrol dangerous urban streets, build up local police units to improve neighborhood stability, and conduct civic action missions. On many occasions they have rushed into a vicious firefight to come to the assistance of infantry units in desperate straits. They keep villages Taliban-free, monitor balloting sites, and interdict drug shipments. In detention centers at Camp Bucha, Iraq, Bagram, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo, Cuba they guard some of the most dangerous terrorists in history.

The story is told by the soldiers themselves, recounting what they have seen and experienced, along with historical context and first-hand field observations by the author team who were provided with unique inside access. Warrior Police takes readers into the bloody streets of Iraq, the dangerous back-country of Afghanistan, and wherever our Military Police are needed.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Look What's New for Kids!

Bumble-ardy by Maurice Sendak - Bumble-ardy the pig has missed eight birthdays in a row. So for his ninth birthday he has a party without telling his aunt. What will happen when she comes home?

October Recommendations for Kids

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by CatherynneValente - Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

The Ogre of Oglefort by Eva Ibbotson - For excitement-hungry orphan Ivo, a mission to save Princess Mirella from the dreaded Ogre of Oglefort is a dream come true. Together with a hag, a wizard, and a troll, Ivo sets out, ready for adventure. But when they get to the ogre's castle, the rescuers are in for a surprise: the princess doesn't need saving, but the depressed ogre does! It's a warmhearted, hilarious romp in the tradition of Roald Dahl, with enough creepy magic, ghosts, and laughs to make even the saddest ogre smile.

Ten Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin, Jr. - Ten little caterpillars are out and about in our big wild world—come join them! You never know what you might find....A butterfly, perhaps?

Readers of all ages have celebrated the work of Bill Martin Jr and Lois Ehlert ever since their first collaboration on Chicka Chicka Boom Boom more than twenty-five years ago. Now these two picture-book geniuses are together again in this dynamic and visually stunning counting-and-natural-history picture book that’s just perfect for reading aloud—and that comes complete with a glossary filled with intriguing information about all ten of the caterpillar stars.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick - Playing with the form he created in his trailblazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey. Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories--Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures--weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful--with over 460 pages of original artwork--Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.

Ghost Hunt: Chilling Tales of the Unknown by Jason Hawes - Why is Grandma Helen coming back from the dead? What is she looking for? Can ghosts become angry if their headstones are knocked over? Do ghosts get lonely? Can they leave pennies? These questions and more make for a good October read. There is also information about an organization called The Atlantic Paranormal Society, and a ghost hunt guide.

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure - A train rushing through the night, eleven year old twins who have just run away from the circus, a rescue performed by piecing together the exquisitive corpse, a top-secret robot, and an encounter with a black pig wearing a white eye patch are parts of this quirky and amusing novel. This book, written by nineteen authors, begins with “A very unusual and completely amazing story pieced together out of so many parts that it is not possible to describe them all here, so go ahead and just start reading”. How could you resist?

The Black by D.J. MacHale - Death isn’t what Cooper Foley expected, he doesn’t need sleep, or deodorant, and no one tells him what to do. The people he cares about are in danger, and he wants to help them, andnow he is in the midst of a war between the world of the living and the dead. This is book two in the Morpheus Road trilogy.

The Grave Robber’s Secret by Anna Myers - Robby Hare’s father forces him to help rob a grave on a moonless night, and sell the body to a nearby medical college. When Robby suspects his father of murder, and the dangerous Mr. Burke and his daughter come to live at his family’s boarding house, Robby has serious decisions to make.

October Recommendations for Teens

The Death Cure by James Dashner - Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine. Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Reamde by Neal Stephenson - Neal Stephenson delivers a high-intensity, high-stakes, action-packed adventure thriller in which a tech entrepreneur gets caught in the very real crossfire of his own online war game.

In 1972, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, fled to the mountains of British Columbia to avoid the draft. A skilled hunting guide, he eventually amassed a fortune by smuggling marijuana across the border between Canada and Idaho. As the years passed, Richard went straight and returned to the States after the U.S. government granted amnesty to draft dodgers. He parlayed his wealth into an empire and developed a remote resort in which he lives. He also created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game with millions of fans around the world. But T’Rain’s success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game.

Filled with unexpected twists and turns in which unforgettable villains and unlikely heroes face off in a battle for survival, it is a brilliant refraction of the twenty-first century, from the global war on terror to social media, computer hackers to mobsters, entrepreneurs to religious fundamentalists. Above all, Reamde is an enthralling human story—an entertaining and epic page-turner from the extraordinary Neal Stephenson.

Shelter: A Mickey Boliltar novel by Harlan Coben - Mickey Bolitar's year can't get much worse. After witnessing his father's death and sending his mom to rehab, he's forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools. A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey's train-wreck of a life is finally improving - until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn't who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey's father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury - and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.

First introduced to readers in Harlan Coben's latest adult novel, Live Wire, Mickey Bolitar is as quick-witted and clever as his uncle Myron, and eager to go to any length to save the people he cares about. With this new series, Coben introduces an entirely new generation of fans to the masterful plotting and wry humor that have made him an award-winning, internationally bestselling, and beloved author.

October Recommendations for Adults


The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield - Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at “the old home place,” a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. The children embrace the reunion as a welcome escape from the prying eyes of their father’s congregation; for Willadee it’s a precious opportunity to spend time with her mother and father, Calla and John. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core: John’s untimely death and, soon after, the loss of Samuel’s parish, which set the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change.

In the midst of it all, Samuel and Willadee’s outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But it is Blade Ballenger, a traumatized eight-year-old neighbor, who soon captures Swan’s undivided attention. Full of righteous anger, and innocent of the peril facing her and those she loves, Swan makes it her mission to keep the boy safe from his terrifying father.

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson - When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom in Switzerland, their whirlwind relationship leads them to Les GenÉvriers, an abandoned house set among the fragrant lavender fields of the South of France. Each enchanting day delivers happy discoveries: hidden chambers, secret vaults, a beautiful wrought-iron lantern. Deeply in love and surrounded by music, books, and the heady summer scents of the French countryside, Eve has never felt more alive. But with autumn’s arrival the days begin to cool, and so, too, does Dom. Though Eve knows he bears the emotional scars of a failed marriage—one he refuses to talk about—his silence arouses suspicion and uncertainty. The more reticent Dom is to explain, the more Eve becomes obsessed with finding answers—and with unraveling the mystery of his absent, beautiful ex-wife, Rachel.

Eve does not know that Les GenÉvriers has been haunted before. BÉnÉdicte Lincel, the house’s former owner, thrived as a young girl within the rich elements of the landscape: the violets hidden in the woodland, the warm wind through the almond trees. She knew the bitter taste of heartbreak and tragedy—long-buried family secrets and evil deeds that, once unearthed, will hold shocking and unexpected consequences for Eve.

A modern gothic novel of love, secrets, and murder—set against the lush backdrop of Provence.

Mice by Gordon Reece - Shelley and her mom have been menaced long enough. Excused from high school where a trio of bullies nearly killed her, and still reeling from her parents' humiliating divorce, Shelley has retreated with her mother to the quiet of Honeysuckle Cottage in the countryside. Thinking their troubles are over, they revel in their cozy, secure life of gardening and books, hot chocolate and Brahms by the fire. But on the eve of Shelley's sixteenth birthday, an unwelcome guest disturbs their peace and something inside Shelley snaps. What happens next will shatter all their certainties-about their safety, their moral convictions, the limits of what they are willing to accept, and what they're capable of.

Debut novelist Gordon Reece has written a taut tale of gripping suspense, packed with action both comic and terrifying. Shelley is a spellbinding narrator, and her delectable mix of wit, irony, and innocence transforms the major current issue of bullying into an edge- of-your-seat story of fear, violence, family loyalty, and the outer reaches of right and wrong.

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier - Charles Frazier puts his remarkable gifts in the service of a lean, taut narrative while losing none of the transcendent prose, virtuosic storytelling, and insight into human nature that have made him one of the most beloved and celebrated authors in the world. Now, with his brilliant portrait of Luce, a young woman who inherits her murdered sister’s troubled twins, Frazier has created his most memorable heroine. Before the children, Luce was content with the reimbursements of the rich Appalachian landscape, choosing to live apart from the small community around her. But the coming of the children changes everything, cracking open her solitary life in difficult, hopeful, dangerous ways.

The extraordinary author of ColdMountainand Thirteen Moons returns with a dazzling new novel of suspense and love set in small-town North Carolina in the early 1960s.


The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands by Margaret Regan - For the last decade, Margaret Regan has reported on the escalating chaos along the Arizona-Mexico border, ground zero for immigration since 2000. Undocumented migrants cross into Arizona in overwhelming numbers, a state whose anti-immigrant laws are the most stringent in the nation. And Arizona has the highest number of migrant deaths. Fourteen-year-old Josseline, a young girl from El Salvador who was left to die alone on the migrant trail, was just one of thousands to perish in its deserts and mountains.

With a sweeping perspective and vivid on-the-ground reportage, Regan tells the stories of the people caught up in this international tragedy. Using Arizona as a microcosm, Regan explores a host of urgent issues: the border militarization that threatens the rights of U.S. citizens, the environmental damage wrought by the border wall, the desperation that compels migrants to come north, and the human tragedy of the unidentified dead in Arizona’s morgues.

The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put Some Lovin’ in Your Oven with 100 Easy One-Dish Recipes by Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock - Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock make a mean Chicken Pot Pie, elevating the classic recipe with white wine and fresh tarragon. Their recipe won them such a following in Texas that Bobby Flay took notice and challenged them to a Throwdown. It turns out that the Casserole Queens, as the duo is known, are much more than one-hit wonders of the one-dish dinner. They have built an entire business around revamping the ultimate quick-fix dinner for modern tastes.

Tuna Noodle is brought up a notch with a homemade cream sauce and a kick of cayenne pepper; Halibut Enchiladas with Salsa Verde are surprisingly light and vibrant; Mandarin Meatloaf has a sweet orange flavor that recharges a beloved weeknight staple. There are home-style desserts, like Gooey Apple Butter Cake, and great brunch dishes, such as Frenchy Toast Casserole. The Queens have thought of everything, providing advice on scaling and freezing casseroles so that anyone can stock the freezer with go-to dinners.

Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie - In 2006, Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS Shoes with a simple business model: “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.” In Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie tells the story of TOMS, one of the fastest-growing shoe companies in the world, and combines it with lessons learned from such other innovative organizations as method, charity: water, FEED Projects, and TerraCycle. Blake presents the six simple keys for creating or transforming your own life and business, from discovering your core story to being resourceful without resources; from overcoming fear and doubt to incorporating giving into every aspect of your life.

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas Friedman - America has a huge problem. It faces four major challenges, on which its future depends, and it is failing to meet them: globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation’s chronic deficits, and its pattern of energy consumption. They explain how the end of the cold war blinded the nation to the need to address these issues. They show how our history, when properly understood, provides the key to addressing them, and explain how the paralysis of our political system and the erosion of key American values have made it impossible for us to carry out the policies the country needs. They offer a way out of the trap into which the country has fallen, which includes the rediscovery of some of our most valuable traditions and the creation of a new, third-party movement. That Used to Be Us is both a searching exploration of the American condition today and a rousing manifesto for American renewal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Look What's New for Kids!

Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-pants by Elise Primavera - Louise the Big Cheese is determined to make the grade in school this year and that means straight A's. But she's stuck with the toughest teacher ever. Will Louise make the grade?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Recommendations for Kids

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel - Something on this island is up to no good. When Reese is forced to go on a boating trip with his family, the last thing he expects is to be shipwrecked on an island-especially one teeming with weird plants and animals. But what starts out as simply a bad vacation turns into a terrible one, as the castaways must find a way to escape while dodging the island's dangerous inhabitants. With few resources and a mysterious entity on the hunt, each secret unlocked could save them...or spell their doom. One thing Reese knows for sure: This is one Bad Island.

Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger - This is the hilarious, clever and much-anticipated follow-up to the breakout hit, "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda". Tom is an exciting new voice in middle grade fiction. His spot-on portrayals of secondary school and the dynamics that exist between kids are realistic and humorous. He's definitely a rising author to watch. This is the fantastic book for boys and reluctant readers especially. "Publishers Weekly" said Tom's writing included 'spot-on boy banter', "100 Scope Notes" called Yoda 'reluctant reader platinum', and "Fuse Number 8" said, 'It's been a while since I found a book that can truly be called genderless (in that it has wide appeal across the board)'. "Lucasfilm" is enthusiastically back on board with us for the second book. It includes instructions for making your own original origami Darth Vader. Darth Vader is the most popular "Star Wars" character, their 'Mickey Mouse' according to Lucas.

Bear’s Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson -

From a cave in the forest
as Bear and his friends
all nibbled on their lunch.

Bear and his friends are munching on their lunch, when all of sudden… Bear feels something wiggling and wobbling in his mouth. Oh, no! What can it be? It’s Bear’s first loose tooth!

In the first Bear book in three years, Bear’s friends ease his concerns about his wiggly, wobbly tooth and help him understand losing a baby tooth is perfectly natural. This funny and reassuring story will delight anyone who’s ever had a loose tooth.

Everything I Need to Know Before I’m Five by Valorie Fisher - Do you know your letters? Can you count to twenty? Learn all that and more in this all-in-one concept picture book. Perfect for kids heading to kindergarten, this book covers the alphabet, counting, opposites, shapes, colors, and seasons. Award winning author-illustrator Valorie Fisher uses bright, gorgeous photos of retro toys to illustrate these topics in a completely fresh way. Parents will love this stylish and funny approach to basic concepts, while kids will learn, well, everything.
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