Adult Book News
10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
This week, August 24-31, is the 10th anniversary of the formation and landfall of the monster storm known as Hurricane Katrina. On August 25, 2005, as a Category 1 storm, the hurricane hit the Florida coast and intensified until, on August 29, it made landfall in Louisiana and Mississippi, engulfing the city of New Orleans in floodwater as the levees failed and 25,000 to 30,000 residents took shelter in the Superdome. Overall, at least 1,800 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it one of the deadliest in United States history. With 70% of New Orleans' occupied housing damaged in the storm, more than one million people in the Gulf region were displaced. The city of New Orleans and its citizens would ultimatley recover but would never be the same.
Hurricane Katrina in Fiction:
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Winner of the 2011 National Book Award, this novel is a haunting tale of the struggles of a 15-year-old pregnant girl in a black community as Hurricane Katrina bears down on her fictional Mississippi Gulf Coast town. While the novel's characters face down Hurricane Katrina, the story isn’t only about the storm. It’s about people facing challenges, and coming together to overcome adversity. "Lyrical and relentless, Ward's narrative builds to the storm's awful landfall and aftermath, portraying both heartbreak and the family's extraordinary devotion."(Library Journal). Ward's novel was based partly on first-hand experience - she was with her family in Mississippi when Katrina hit. They fled their house, fearful of drowning in their own attic.
City of Refuge by Tom Piazza
In the heat of late summer, two New Orleans families--one black and one white--confront a storm that will change the course of their lives. SJ Williams, a carpenter and widower, lives and works in the Lower Ninth Ward, the community where he was born and raised. His sister, Lucy, is a soulful mess, and SJ has been trying to keep her son, Wesley, out of trouble. Across town, Craig Donaldson, a Midwestern transplant and the editor of the city's alternative paper, faces deepening cracks in his own family. New Orleans' music and culture have been Craig's passion, but his wife, Alice, has never felt comfortable in the city. The arrival of their two children has inflamed their arguments about the wisdom of raising a family there. When the news comes of a gathering hurricane--named Katrina--the two families make their own very different plans to weather the storm.
The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke
Hurricane Katrina provides the backdrop for the 16th Dave Robicheaux novel. The Louisiana detective is assigned to investigate the shooting of two looters in a wealthy neighborhood after they have inadvertently plundered the home of a notorious local mobster. Robicheaux must locate the third looter before others do, more to save him from harm than for prosecution. Robicheaux's task is complicated by the need to locate another person lost in the devastation of the storm, a priest last seen in the Ninth Ward trying to rescue trapped parishioners. "Burke showcases all that was both right and wrong in our response to this national disaster, proving along the way that nobody captures the spirit of Gulf Coast Louisiana better." (Publishers Weekly)
Down in the Flood by Kenneth Abel
New Orleans Prosecutor Danny Chaisson's latest case is bid-rigging. But as his investigation proceeds, a gathering storm named Katrina blasts his world apart. Surrounded by death and the destruction of the city he loves, Danny searches for one man who'd trusted Chaisson to guard his identity when he agreed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating corruption in the city's construction industry. But someone has leaked the identity of this crucial witness. Cut off from escape, and unsure whom he can trust, Chaisson's client has gone into hiding in the city's Ninth Ward, where he grew up. Now Danny must race against time, a pair of relentless professional killers, and the rising flood waters to save the man who'd counted on him. "Abel's latest is both a gripping crime thriller about human greed and a tribute to the people of New Orleans." (Library Journal)
National Dog Day 2015
August 26 is National Dog Day
National Dog Day was founded in 2004 in order to acknowledge the love and value that dogs bring to our lives every day. Dogs consistently contribute to the overall health, safety, and happiness of their humans as pets, service workers, and YouTube video subjects.
Although there are many ways to celebrate the dog in your life, consider a book or two.
Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn
In the latest entry in the immensely popular Chet and Bernie mystery series, Private Investigator Bernie Little and his canine companion Chet return home to encounter some alarming developments - someone has broken in and stolen some personal items. And next door, old Mr. Parsons is under investigation for being in possession of a saguaro cactus illegally transplanted from the desert. Bernie and Chet go deep into the desert to investigate. "Action-packed with a touch of the hard-boiled detective at its core plus witty canine dialogue, its narration is both creative and whimsical in a way only a true dog-lover and talented writer such as Spencer Quinn could achieve." (New York Journal of Books)
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog's search for his purpose over the course of several lives. Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey's search for his new life's meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey's journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose? Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh out loud funny, this book is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul, he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Edgar's uncle Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm--and into Edgar's mother's affections. Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires--spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him.
2015 Hugo Awards
Science Fiction's Best
The annual Hugo Awards for excellence in the science fiction genre were announced on August 22 at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, Sasquan, amid some controversy over virtual ballot-box stuffing by special interest groups during the nomination process. As a result many voting members declined to cast votes for nominees in certain categories, entering a vote of "No Award" instead. The statement on the official Hugo website reads,"The members of the World Science Fiction Society rejected the slate of finalists in five categories, giving No Award in Best Novella, Short Story, Related Work, Editor Short Form, and Editor Long Form."
The Best Novel Award was presented to The Three Body Problem, written by Cixin Liu and tranlated by Ken Liu, which is the first time the award has gone to a Chinese writer. Liu is China's most popular science fiction writer and his book, the first in a trilogy, is a best-seller there. It was published in the U.S. in 2014. "The story, set against the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution, involves a secret military project that sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. The signals are received by an alien civilization that is on the brink of destruction and decides to invade Earth."(NYTimes)
Arab American Book Award
2015 Winners Announced
Each year the Arab American National Museum, located in Dearborn, sponsors the Arab American Book Award to "honor books written by and about Arab Americans." "The program generates greater awareness of Arab American scholarship and writing..." and is open to books "written, edited or illustrated by an Arab American, or (that) address the Arab American experience." Prizes are awarded in several categories including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children's literature.
This year, the committee selected two works of fiction to honor:
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
Also a Finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Alameddine's novel is a breathtaking portrait of one reclusive woman's late-life crisis. Aaliya, who lives alone in Beirut, is shunned by her family and neighbors for her divorced status and lack of religious reverence. She quietly translates her favorite books into Arabic while struggling with her aging body, until an unthinkable disaster threatens what little life remains to her.
The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami
A Finalist for the 2015 Pultizer Prize for Fiction, Lalami's historical novel imagines the story of the first black explorer of America—a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record. In 1527, Al-Zamori sailed with the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez and a crew of six hundred men to the Gulf Coast of the United States. But from the moment the expedition landed in Florida, it faced peril--navigational errors, disease, starvation, as well as resistance from indigenous tribes. Within a year there were only four survivors: the expedition's treasurer, a Spanish nobleman, a young explorer, and Al-Zamori. These four survivors would go on to make a journey across America that would transform them from proud conquistadores to humble servants, from fearful outcasts to faith healers.
Booking Ahead to Fall
The Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview
The Millions, the online magazine that has been "offering coverage on books, arts, and culture since 2003," recently compiled an 82-title booklist called "The Millions' Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview." Starting with July and August releases, the list continues through the fall months to January and February of next year. In the introductory remarks, the editors state, "The second-half of 2015 is straight-up, stunningly chock-full of amazing books." September will be a particularly bountiful month with 22 soon-to-be-released titles featured.
Some of the highlights for September:
Purity by Jonathan Franzen
Young Pip Tyler doesn't know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she's saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she's squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother--her only family--is hazardous. But she doesn't have a clue who her father is, why her mother chose to live as a recluse with an invented name, or how she'll ever have a normal life. Enter the Germans. A glancing encounter with a German peace activist leads Pip to an internship in South America with The Sunlight Project, an organization that traffics in all the secrets of the world--including, Pip hopes, the secret of her origins.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but things are even more complicated and remarkable than they first seemed. Told first from Lotto's point of view, the story of their marriage revolves around Mathilde's goodness and her faith in his creative talents. The second half of the book, from Mathilde's perspective, reveals a different woman, with dark secrets, a cold and calculating personality, and a thirst for revenge.
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Set in a near future, Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse; job loss has forced them to live in their car. A social experiment, The Positron Project, in the town of Consilience, seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their "civilian" homes. At first, this doesn't seem like too much of a sacrifice in order to have a roof over one's head and food to eat.
This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison
With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. But what she hoped would be a voyage leading to a new lease on life becomes a surprising and revelatory journey into Harriet's past. There, between the imagined appearances of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life. And in the process she discovers that she's been living the better part of that life under entirely false assumptions.
Welcome Back, Lisbeth
The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
Fans of Lisbeth Salander, a.k.a. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson, will be happy to learn that the series has been continued by another author. Swedish author and crime reporter David Lagercrantz was selected by Larsson's estate to write a fourth novel featuring the amazing, but poorly socialized, superhacker heroine. Larsson passed away in 2004, before the three crime novels, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, were published to international acclaim and massive sales (more than 80 million copies worldwide). All three books were made into successful Swedish movies. The new book will involve Lisbeth's attempts to hack the American NSA and evade “ruthless cyber gangsters who call themselves the Spiders,” according to MacLehose Press, the publisher of the British edition. MacLehose promises that the story will be “adrenaline-charged, brilliantly intricate and utterly absorbing”. The American edition will be released on September 1, with a first printing of 500,000 copies. In Sweden, the book will be titled That Which Does Not Kill Us.
New Reads for September
The top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love
This monthly list is created by librarians and library staff to help connect readers to new books and authors. An online community of librarians vote each month on their favorite new books and the results are tallied. "The list is a straightforward calculation: whichever ten books get the most nominations go onto the monthly list. The book with the most nominations becomes the #1 Pick. It’s as simple as that." The list is not meant to be a "best" list - just a list of collective favorites - books librarians loved and want to share.
# 1 for September 2015:
The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
Broke and knocked up, Mattie Wallace has got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags and nowhere to go. Try as she might, she really is turning into her late mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn't make. When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she's never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother's birthplace--the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery--a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother. Mattie is determined to find the answer for both her mother's sake and her own.
New (Old) Tolkien Book
The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien
An unfinished manuscript by J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, will soon be published in the U.K. (in late August) by HarperCollins, the publisher of Harper Lee's new/old book Go Set a Watchman, and in the U.S. (possibly in late October) by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Tolkien began writing the story while an undergraduate at Oxford in 1914. HarperCollins calls the book "a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkiens's invented world." It will be released in its unfinished state with Tolkien's notes and commentary by its editor, Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger. The book was among Tolkien's first attempts at creating legends and folk tales, and is based on a Finnish poem about a youth who is sold into slavery and his struggles to avenge his father's death. Tolkien passed away in 1973; several of his works have been published posthumously.
Great Job, Adult Readers!
Adult Summer Reading 2015
Over 300 adult readers participated in the PDL Adult Summer Reading Program this summer and 273 earned prizes for reading and enjoying the Library's resources.
Congratulations! Did you find your Hero?
A big Thank-you to all for playing Bingo or logging book selections online. We hope you had fun.
New Kits for Book Clubs
Looking for your next book club selection?
New titles are being added to the Book Club Kit Collection. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book, plus discussion questions, author interviews, and other literary commentary to enhance your book discussions. The kits can be checked out for 8 weeks and you can reserve a kit ahead of time to fit into your group's meeting schedule. A complete list of available Kits can be found on the Library webpage under Services/Book Clubs.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
The title on everyone's list: the new novel by Harper Lee set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch (Scout) returns home from New York City to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Doerr's novel is set in occupied France during World War II, where a blind French girl and a German boy meet while trying to survive the devastation of the war. Before the war, Marie-Laure lived with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he worked. When the Nazis occupied Paris, father and daughter fled to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo carrying with them the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grew up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they found. Werner became an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a special assignment to track the resistance near St. Malo, and his path converges with Marie-Laure. ".....this novel has the physical and emotional heft of a masterpiece." (Library Journal)
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Based on the true story of the Grimke sisters, outspoken abolitionists and feminists of the early nineteenth century, Kidd’s novel imagines the relationship between the older sister Sarah and a young slave she receives as a gift from her parents on her 11th birthday. Sarah defies her parents and the prevailing plantation culture and dares to teach the girl, Hetty, also known as Handful, to read. Told from both girls’ perspectives, the narration alternates between the two as their unlikely friendship develops and changes as they grow from childhood to middle age. Although their circumstances are different, they both strive for freedom – Sarah from the constraints of patriarchy and bigotry and Hetty from the inhumane ordeals of slavery.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The unusual and haunting story, set in the near-future, of the Traveling Symphony, a troupe of Shakespearean actors and musicians, traveling the shores of the Great Lakes in a post-apocalyptic Michigan. Striving to maintain their humanity in the altered landscape of a world where 99% of the population has been wiped out by a flu pandemic, the Traveling Symphony operates under one credo: “Survival is insufficient.” While the story is set in a world turned upside down, the novel is ultimately an exploration of people remaking their lives by preserving the qualities that make us human: culture, art, community, and compasssion. Chosen as the Michigan Humanities Council’s 2015-16 Great Michigan Read, Station Eleven was a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award. “Ambitious, magnificent ... Mandel's vision is not only achingly beautiful but startlingly plausible, exposing the fragile beauty of the world we inhabit.” (Booklist)