Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Non-fiction



The Peter White Public Library has a new crop of non-fiction available on the new book shelves.  Michigan resident Mardi Jo Link has established a reputation for non-fiction set in the Great Lakes State.  Her books Bootstrapper, When Evil Came to Good Hart and Isadore’s Secret won numerous awards.  Her latest, The Drummond Girls is a personal memoir about Link and her friends’ annual trips to Drummond Island.  In 1993, Link and five of her friends set out for Drummond Island to celebrate an upcoming wedding.  For the next two decades, the women have made an annual sojourn to the Island to escape adult responsibilities and to hold on to a piece of their wild youth.
Summer is a perfect time to eat outdoors and April McKinney can help you with that. The Outdoor Table is the ultimate cookbook for your next backyard BBQ, tailgate or picnic.  Not only do these 175 recipes look good, but they will travel well.  The book is divided into seven chapters—beverages, breakfast, appetizers, breads, sides, main dishes and desserts.
Carol Deppe holds a PhD in biology from Harvard and has spent her life breaking new ground developing organic gardening techniques and educating the general public about how easy it is to grow food.  The Tao of Vegetable Gardening explores practical methods and the deeper essence of gardening by focusing on tomatoes, green beans, peas and leafy greens.  Experienced gardeners and novices looking for guidance will both appreciate the wealth of knowledge Deppe shares.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Strandal is the tale of Midwestern chef Lars Thorvald who has three loves in his life—his kitchen, his wife and his daughter Eva.  When his wife falls in love with wine and escapes with a dashing sommelier, Lars is left to raise Eva on his own.  He vows to share his passion for food with his daughter who later finds solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota.
Pulitzer Prize winning American historian Joseph J. Ellis brings to life a gripping and dramatic portrait of one of the most critical and misunderstood periods of U.S. history—that between the Revolution and the formation of the federal government.  The Quartet details how George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison shaped the new country and developed the Bill of Rights to assure state compliance with the constitutional settlement.
Kate Braestrup spent her life serving as a chaplain to the Maine Warden Service.  Her job was to support families when a loved one is lost in wilderness or water.  Little did she know she would be of need of these services when her husband Drew dies suddenly.  The mother of four was challenged in ways she never expected.  Anchor and Flares is the story of how this mother combined love, service and strength to survive.
War is Not a Game by Nan Levinson chronicles the transformation of eight warriors who banded together to found the organization Iraq Veterans Against the War.  Five marines, two soldiers and one airman were all young and gung-ho when they were sent to fight a war that left them and many of their comrades confused, enraged and haunted.  Once they returned home, they were determined to put their disillusionment to use.  Levinson tells the story of these working-class veterans who became leaders of a national organization.
Eric Greitens was born and raised in Missouri.  He served as a Navy Seal and is a Rhodes Scholar.  He is the founder of The Mission Continues and has been called one of the 50 greatest leaders in the world.  When he heard from Zach Walker, a fellow Seal a decade after they served together, he realized that not everyone can survive hardship.  What followed was a daily mentoring of Walker and struggle to understand what makes some people more capable of handling trauma than others.  Resilience is a collection of letters based on his and Walker’s correspondence.
Blackout, Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola is a gritty but comic memoir that follows Hepola’s rocky road to sobriety.  Alcohol was “the gasoline of all adventure” for 30 something Hepola as she cruised New York City.  A successful writer and blogger, she had the world right where she wanted it, until she realized what she was trying to bury was not as important as saving herself.
Dr. Laura Bates is an English professor at Indiana State University.  She is also a prison volunteer who took Shakespeare to solitary confinement at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.  Her story Shakespeare Saved My Life, Ten Years in Solitary With the Bard is a memoir of her work with the worst of the worst.  The transformation of convicted murderer Larry Newton is set against the themes of Shakespeare’s works.
Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good is a family history with recipes.  Kathleen Flinn tells the story of her family adventures from the family farm in Michigan to the shores of Florida, and the Route 66 trek to San Francisco and in between.  Flinn understands how meals can be memories and cooking can be communication.  This memoir, filled with colorful characters and real life adventures, will appeal to a variety of readers.
The new book shelves at PWPL are filled with lots of great reading.  No matter what your interests, you should find something that will captivate you and give you hours of reading pleasure.

--Pam Christensen, Library Director

Monday, August 31, 2015

Family Movies



Recently, I watched Little Women with my daughter.  Our whole family had been listening to and enjoying the books in the Penderwicks series while on road trips this summer, and those stories reminded me of this other family of four sisters.  Before we started the Little Women dvd, my daughter wanted to know if it was a kid story or a grown-up story.  Knowing that the book is shelved in both adult and juvenile fiction collections here at Peter White Public Library, I answered that it’s a story for families, for people of all ages.  This week’s column contains titles for movies that feature entire families and that can be enjoyed at a broad range of ages.


Newer additions to the Library’s video collection include Paddington (based on the series by Michael Bond) and Song of the Sea.   In Paddington, a young Peruvian bear travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family, who offer him a temporary haven.  I found this movie both very funny and endearing.  Younger or more sensitive children might be overly scared by Nicole Kidman’s evil taxidermy-driven character, but most of the scarier sections are intertwined with enough humor to keep audiences from taking them too seriously.


Featuring a gorgeous soundtrack, Song of the Sea is a modern animated story that plays with traditional Irish folklore and artwork.  A family is healed when a brother and sister go on an adventure to free the faeries and save the spirit world.


Sharing the movie I Wish with my daughter was a bit of an experiment.  At nine, she’s a competent, but not an expert reader.  I Wish was made in Japan, and we watched a subtitled, not dubbed copy.  She remained engaged throughout the whole story of two brothers who have been separated due to their parents’ divorce.


If you missed the Incredibles when it came out, you’ll love it now that you can share it with your kids.  Kids like it because the kids in the movie get to be superheros too.  Parents like it because the parent superheros have the same day to day problems they do.  It’s lots of fun for everyone.


If you were a kid in 1982, you remember ET and you don’t need me to tell you what a great film it is.  If you missed all the hype of that era, ET stands for extraterrestrial.  The ET in this story befriends a ten-year-old boy.  The boy brings his new friend home where one by one his older brother, younger sister and finally his newly separated mother meet this being from another world.


The Black Stallion is a movie with very little dialog but a mesmerizing story.  While traveling with his father, young Alec becomes fascinated by a mysterious Arabian stallion who is brought on board and stabled in the ship he is sailing on. When the ship tragically sinks, both he and the horse survive only to be stranded on a desert island.  He befriends it, so when finally rescued, both return to his home with to live with his grieving mother.


In Millions, ethics, being human, and the soul come to the fore when a seven-year-old finds a bag of Pounds just days before the currency is switched to Euros.  He and his older brother learn the value of what they have, what they can buy, and what they can do with money.

--Ellen Moore, Webmaster

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hollywood Biographies

Here are a few autobiographies or biographies you may be interested in reading. 

Twitch Upon A Star, The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery, by Herbie J. Pilato. Based on Herbie J. Pilato’s exclusive interviews with Elizabeth Montgomery prior to her death in 1995, Twitch Upon A Star includes never-before-published material and commentary from many of those associated with her remarkable life and career before, during, and after Bewitched. Pilato also goes behind the scenes to explore Montgomery’s political activism, including her early advocacy for AIDS sufferers and the peace movement; her support for all minorities, including the gay community and the disabled; and her controversial participation as narrator of the Cover Up feature film documentary and its Oscar-winning sequel, The Panama Deception (both of which chronicled the Iran/Contra scandal of the 1980s). The book also explores Montgomery’s tumultuous relationships with her father, screen legend Robert Montgomery. 

What’s So Funny? My Hilarious Life, by Tim Conway with Jane Scovell. In television history, few entertainers have captured as many hearts and made as many people laugh as Tim Conway. There’s nothing in the world that Tim would rather do than entertain, and in his first-ever memoir, that’s exactly what he does. From his pranks in small Ohio classrooms to his performances on national television and movies, Tim has been cracking people up for more than seventy years. Long regarded as one of the funniest comedians around, Tim also boasts an inspiring rags-to-riches story. Tim’s journey from life as an only child raised by loving but outrageous parents in small-town Ohio during the Great Depression, to his tour of duty in the Army, which would become training for his later role in McHale’s Navy, to his ascent as a national star and household name. By tracing his early path, this book reveals the origins of many of Tim’s unforgettable characters, from Mr. Tudball and the Oldest Man to Mickey Hart to everyone’s favorite, Dorf. 

This Is Your Captain Speaking, My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life, by Gavin MacLeod, with Mark Dagostino. From McHale's Navy to The Love Boat, Gavin MacLeod's life has taken one incredible turn after another. He had gotten to do what he wanted to do. Be a captain. He has traveled the world. He was been helped by a lot of great people, and been blessed to have touched a lot of other people’s lives. He is so grateful and thankful for that. He had been given an incredible gift of a life, and now he wanted to use it to give back. That’s why he’s sharing his story, the fun parts and even some of the not-so-fun parts, in the hopes that maybe someone will take a nice walk down memory lane with him. Hopefully a very entertaining walk! Gavin’s greatest wish, though, is that whoever reads his story will walk away at the end with a smile. And maybe, just maybe, there’s something to be found in his journey, especially in his journey of faith, that will help give them a little bit of hope. Maybe even change someone’s life for the better. Wouldn’t that be something! 

Johnny Cash, The Life, by Robert Hilburn. Robert Hilburn conveys the unvarnished truth about a musical icon whose colorful career stretched from his days at Sun Records with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to the remarkable creative last hurrah, at age sixty-nine, that resulted in the brave, moving “Hurt” video. Hilburn knew Cash well throughout his life: he was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed Cash and his wife June Carter for the final time just months before their deaths in 2003. A man of great faith and humbling addiction, Cash aimed for more than another hit on the jukebox; he wanted to use his music to lift people’s spirits and help promote what he felt was the best of the American spirit. 

Simple Dreams, a musical memoir, by Linda Ronstadt. Tracing the timeline of her remarkable life, Linda, whose forty-five year career has encompassed a wide array of musical styles, weaves together a captivating story of her origins in Tucson, Arizona, and her rise to stardom in the Southern California music scene of the 1960’s and 70’s. Linda was born into a musical family and her childhood was filled with everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to Mexican folk music to jazz and opera. Her artistic curiosity blossomed early, and she and her siblings began performing their own music for anyone who would listen. Now, in this beautifully crafted memoir, Ronstadt tells the story of her wide-ranging and utterly unique musical journey.

Johnny Carson, by Henry Bushkin. From 1962 until 1992, Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show and permeated the American consciousness. In the ‘70’s and ‘80’s he was the country’s highest-paid entertainer and it’s most enigmatic. He was notoriously inscrutable, as mercurial (and sometimes cruel) off-camera as he was charming and hilarious onstage. During the apex of his reign, Carson’s longtime lawyer and best friend was Henry Bushkin, who now shows us Johnny Carson with a breathtaking clarity and depth that nobody else could. From the moment in 1970 when Carson hired Bushkin until the moment eighteen years later when they parted ways, the author witnessed and often took part in a string of escapades that still retain their power to surprise and fascinate us. But this memoir isn’t just dishy. It is a tautly rendered and remarkably nuanced portrait of Carson, revealing not only how he truly was, but why. This book unveils not only the hidden Carson, but also the raucous, star-studded world he ruled. 

There Was A Little Girl, (the real story of my mother and me), by Brooke Shields. Neither Brooke Shields nor the life she’s led has ever been considered ordinary. Her parents divorced when she was five months old and she was primarily raised by her Newark-tough, larger-than-life mother. Brooke began modeling at eleven months old, which launched a career that made Brooke the most famous and recognizable child, and then teen, of her generation. All this success came with her mother at the helm. Teri acted as mother and manager for Brooke. In public life, Teri fiercely protected Brooke from the pitfalls and temptations that derail so many child stars. But in private, Teri was troubled. The bond between Brooke and her mother was impenetrable, shaped by both laughter and tears. When Brooke grew into adulthood, the pair made choices and sacrifices that would affect their relationship forever. Later, when her own daughters were born, Brooke found that her experience as a mother was shaped in every way by the woman who raised her. But despite all the challenges, Brooke was at her mother’s side when he died in 2012. Only Brooke knows the truth, and now, in an honest, open memoir, she shares the story of her journey. 

I Must Say, My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend, by Martin Short. In the engagingly witty, wise and heartfelt memoir, Martin Short tells the tale of how a showbiz-obsessed kid from Canada transformed himself into one of Hollywood’s favorite funnymen, known to his famous peers as the “comedian’s comedian.” He takes the reader on a rich, hilarious, and occasionally heartbreaking ride through his life and times, from his early years to the all-American comic big time of Saturday Night Live. He also talks about his memorable roles in several movies. He reveals how he created his indelible comedic characters. But there is another side of Short’s life that he has long kept private. He lost his brother and both parents at an early age, and more recently he lost his wife to cancer. He talks about the pain that those losses inflicted and the upbeat life philosophy that has kept him resilient and carried him through. 

by Arlette Dubord, Technical Services Assistant

Friday, August 14, 2015

More new adult fiction



Last week I introduced readers to new fiction that has recently arrived on the Peter White Public Library shelves.  There are many more books, and here is another week of new fiction.
Dean Bakopoulos grew up in Michigan and won a Michigan Notable Book designation for his first novel Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon.  He is now writer-in-residence at Iowa’s Grinnell College.  Grinnell is the scene of his latest book Summerlong.  This story demonstrates just what happens when life goes awry.    Full of mirth, melancholy and redemption, this novel traces the wild and reckless behavior of the town’s adults during a crazy and sweltering summer.
Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller with aimless teenage video gamer Zack Lightman as the star.  One night, he sees a flying saucer, the same saucer he sees in his favorite videogame every night.  Suddenly Zach and millions of other gamers across the world must save Earth.  Ernest Cline infuses each page of this novel with the same pop-culture savvy that made his first novel Ready Player One a phenomenon. 
 Mazie Phillips is bighearted and bawdy.  She is the proprietress of the New York City movie theater  Venice.  As the Great Depression hits home, Maizie opens the theater to the homeless residents of the Lower East Side.  She defines one neighborhood and helps to define the city.  Her dearest secrets are kept in her diary and after 90 years, her diary is found.  Jami Attenberg uses the diary and the memories of Maizie’s contemporaries to tell the story of Saint Mazie and the story of a unique period in history.
Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont is a dazzling first novel that documents the story of an American family on the cusp of irrevocable change.  Jack Shanley is a well-known New York artist who is living a double life.  His wife Deb is a retired dancer happily raising two children that she adores.  She realizes Jack has weaknesses, but does not confront them until a package of emails chronicling his secrets are mailed.  Deb doesn’t open the package, but her children do, and the family is forced to make changes that will define them in the future.
Chief of Police Kate Burkholder finds herself confronted with a thirty-year-old murder case that plunges her into the heart of the Amish community to which she once belonged.  When a tornado travels through town, human bones are unearthed, and Kate finds out that this death was no accident.  In After the Storm by Linda Castillo, Kate discovers the lengths to which people will go to protect their own.
To some Juliet Townsend is a loser.  She lost every high school track meet to her best friend Madeleine Bell.  Ten years later she is running the Mid-Night Inn, a loser hotel that attracts the cheap or the desperate.  One night, Madeleine and her family walk in, but Maddie never walks out, and Juliet is considered the number one suspect in her murder.  Lori Rader-Day follows up her first mystery novel The Black Hour with Little Pretty Things. 
Nuala O’Connor has written a work of biographical fiction that explores the life of American poet Emily Dickinson and the family’s spunky Irish maid Ada Concannon.  Ada accepts the eccentric Dickinson family of Amherst, Massachusetts and develops a deep friendship with the gifted middle daughter Emily.  As Emily sinks deeper into a fear of the world outside of the family compound, Ada’s safety and reputation are threatened.  Emily must face down her own demons to save her friend in Miss Emily.
Set in England in 1255, The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader tells the story of 17 year-old Sarah who chooses to become an anchoress.  As a holy woman shut way in a cell only seven by nine paces, Sarah thinks she is safe from dangerous outside influences.  It soon becomes clear that the thick walls and isolation do not offer all of the protection Sarah expected.  She begins to hear the voice of the previous anchoress, and she finds herself questioning what she thought she knew about the anchorhold and the village itself.
Constant Fear by Daniel Palmer is a brilliantly plotted thriller set on a private school campus.  Custodian Jake Dent fell from glory as a talented baseball player as the result of an auto accident.  His life fell apart and all he has left is his son Andy.  Obsessed with preparing for doomsday, prepper Jake may have to use all of his skills to save his son and other students from a vicious drug cartel bent on destroying the school in retaliation for a computer hacking implemented by a small group of students.
Nick and Maya Wakefield’s marriage is in the dumps.  Nick is a workaholic and flirt who sees life as greener on the other side.  In order to posture himself as a perfect husband and father, in order to improve his status in case of divorce, he hatches a plan with his friend and divorce attorney to be the perfect husband.  All goes well, until his wife realizes what is happening.  Author Leah McLaren spins a compelling novel in A Better Man.
There are many new books on the library shelves for your reading enjoyment.

By Pam Christensen
Library Director

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New adult fiction



Jan Karon fans who love Mitford will be pleased to see the tenth novel in the successful Father Tim series Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good has arrived at PWPL.  Five years after retirement, Father Tim finds that retirement is not that exciting.  He considers a return to the ministry.  His adopted son is struggling with his own issues and bookstore owner Hope Murphy may be facing tragedy with her unborn baby.  As usual, Karon spins multiple storylines into a compelling story about the residents of Mitford, South Carolina.
            The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant is an absorbing historical novel.  Addie, the daughter of Jewish immigrants was born in Boston in 1900.  A spirited and strong girl and woman, Addie and her two sisters thirst for adventure.  During her life, she witnesses wars, faces heartbreak and comes into her own as a woman.  Diamant’s previous novel, The Red Tent, is another skillfully written historical chronical.
            Emma Healey has a degree in bookbinding and attended art school in London.  After both of her grandmothers suffered from dementia, she started to explore the disease by writing a novel.  Elizabeth is Missing centers around Maud who knows something is not quite right in her life.  She keeps buying cans of sliced peaches, even though she has a cupboard full, and forgets to drink her tea.  She does know her friend Elizabeth is missing and her disappearance may relate to the mystery of her sister’s disappearance following World War II.  This debut novel explores how Maud tries to solve a mystery when she can’t remember all of the clues.
            Lisa and Joe Stone have been married for twenty years.  The two attorneys run a small law firm in Henry County, Virginia.  They handle ordinary cases and try to appease their difficult client Lettie VanSandt.  When Lettie dies in a freakish fire, they have to determine if the fire was an accident or if someone intended to do away with her.  Settling her peculiar estate becomes endlessly complex and reveals a number of deadly secrets.  The Jezebel Remedy by Martin Clark is a well plotted and quirky legal thriller.
            Sara Taylor’s first novel The Shore is set in a group of small islands in the Chesapeake Bay just off the coast of Virginia.  Here inhabitants, wealthy and destitute, have lived for generations.  The characters in this novel are all deeply connected to the land and possess a resilience that only the place they call home could create.  Spanning a century, this saga is filled with characters and an intertwined narrative that tells their stories.
            Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies, but this one is unique even by Detroit standards.  As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, the city tries to hold on.  Broken Monsters is an eye opening thriller about broken cities, broken dreams and broken people trying to put themselves back together again.

           C.J. Box captivates readers with his Joe Pickett novels set in Wyoming.  In Shots Fired, Box shares ten short stories about colorful western characters including Pickett. Filled with character, suspense and a sense of place, these stories will appeal to Box fans and introduce new readers to his style and unforgettable characters.
            Ruby by Cynthia Bond is the epic and unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her.  Another debut novel, Bond tells the story of Ephram Jennings and the beautiful girl he has loved since childhood.  Ruby is the girl he never forgot, but as soon as she was old enough, she fled Liberty, Texas for the bright lights of New York City.  When a telegram from her cousin forces Ruby to return home, Ephram must choose between his loyalty to the sister who raised him or his dreams of love and life with Ruby.
            Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over after Ben hits a dead end with his latest novel and Caroline loses her banking job.  When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, the couple moves to a remote corner of upstate New York.  Strange things begin to happen as Ben discovers chilling, dangerous and deadly secrets.  What seemed to be a fresh start has turned into a nightmare as Ben and Caroline try to survive in the House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy.
            Dexter Morgan is a man people love to watch in action.  As the star of seven national bestsellers and a phenomenal TV series, author Jeff Lindsay has created a character unlike any other.  In his eighth Dexter novel Dexter is Dead, Lindsay elevates his witty, dark and fascinating character to new heights one last time.  This novel is purported to be the final novel in the Dexter series, and Lindsay does not disappoint.  Dexter is confronted with the end.  He has lost his wife, kids, career and the loyalty of his sister.  He is in jail for murders he didn’t commit, but an unlikely savior, his twisted brother, may save him.
            These and many more readable works of fiction are available on the new book shelves of the Peter White Public Library.

By Pam Christensen
Library Director