Sunday, January 31, 2010

Debra recommends Winning the College Admission Game

Do you have a high school junior who is beginning the college admission process?

Do you think your child should be ready to begin this process independently? I know, we all wish and hope, but the fact is that your student is going to need A LOT of your help. After reading this book, you'll be on top of your game and ready for action.
Winning the College Admission Game by Peter Van Buskirk addresses both parents' and students' questions and concerns. Half the book is geared toward the parent and half is for the child to read him/herself.

As the parent of a high school senior, I found the FAQs about the college application process particularly helpful. While there are many college admission self-help books out there, what makes this book different is Van Buskirk's great tips, such as what to look for during a college tour and how to survive, and even mutually enjoy, a road trip with your child. Okay, maybe mutual enjoyment is pushing it, but at least get the most out of the experience, and not have your child's opinion of a school swayed by embarrassing (but necessary!) questions you may want to ask the tour guide.

Van Buskirk seems to really understand the fine line parents walk, trying to be loving, well-intentioned adults who want to help their child find a great fit, while also making it clear that studying former American Idol contestant winners as a major is not an option.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rob touts the virtues of The Man Who Lives with Wolves

Absolutely Amazing!
The author didn't just sorta kinda live with wolves. Not just live in the general vicinity of wolves. We're not talking figuratively or hyperbolically either. Shaun Ellis (who admits to maybe being a tad bit whacko) lived as a member in good standing of a pack of wild wolves. During this time, he did not see or talk to another human being. He slept with the wolves and ate what they ate. They became his family.
The book begins with the author's childhood in England and the reader gets some sense of how the adult Ellis comes by his intense interest in wolves. The actual infiltration (his word--maybe from his army training) of the pack came only after months of patient observation and painful initiation. Do not try this at home.
As fascinating as the personal story is, it's the insights about wolf behavior (and dog behavior) that really makes the book extraordinary. Ellis is not a scientist (in the traditional sense) and so the observations and theories are presented in eminently readable fashion with the humor and pathos of the author's own incredible experiences.
Whatever the quality of the author's TV show Living with the Wolfman, which I have not seen, I highly recommend the book.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Peggy Recommends: Who Would You Be Without Your Story? Dialogues with Byron Katie

Stuck in the same old story that has defined and limited your life?

Byron Katie, author of the best-selling
Loving What Is, offers four simple questions called "The Work" that will help the reader release painful thoughts that cause suffering. PM

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sue Recommends True Blue by David Baldacci

Take a just former NPD police officer, Mace Perry, wrongfully accused of a felony, mix her with a lawyer, Roy Kingman, who finds a colleague's dead body in the office refrigerator, add a NPD police chief, Beth Perry, who happens to be the sister of the felon, sprinkle with a secret government operation, and David Baldacci has the makings for another winning, suspenseful thriller and series

True Blue keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat while bodies continue to fall. Mace and Roy struggle to stay alive while solving a murder and possibly earn Mace her opportunity to be an NPD Blue again. Action and plot twists abound even though the characterization of Mace as a young woman with the skills of a super agent with knives, guns, outsmarting gang members and assassins is a bit unbelievable.

I listened to the Book on CD in my car and was disappointed when I reached my destination and had to leave Mace, Roy, and Beth behind as I returned to real life. SH

Friday, January 22, 2010

Megan suggests: Blue Blood

A lot of people I know have enjoyed watching The Wire on DVD. The series shows, among many things, some of the day-to-day life of a police officer. For a book on the job of being a cop, I say don't miss Blue Blood by Edward Conlon. It's a 2004 title, but I like to refer to it as the book I was least interested in reading that I enjoyed the most. Yes, it's a little on the long side, but Conlon is a great writer and kept the pages turning for me.

Imagine your garrulous Irish uncle sitting you down at a bar and telling you story after story, not just about being a police officer, but about his family, his own back story, the history of New York City and the history of its police force. The book covers a lot of territory, but remains cohesive.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Mike Suggests: Footnotes in Gaza

Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco

War journalist/graphic novelist Joe Sacco writes what may be considered his best story yet, about a series of mass killings in two towns in the Gaza Strip. Doing what he does so well, Sacco takes a nearly-forgotten story that has been relegated to a footnote in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and retells a chilling human story about the bleak depths of violence.

If you haven't yet familiarized yourself with Sacco's work, or you consider graphic novels to be kid's stuff, this will surely set you straight. Check out his other works: Palestine & Safe Area Gorazde are considered to be his other major works, and are eye-opening introductions to war-torn Palestine & Bosnia. War's End and The Fixer continue Sacco's explorations of Bosnia, which are shorter works and equally enlightening.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the MoonFont size

by Steven Erikson

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen's rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, their lone surviving mage, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand . . .

The first book in a remarkable series, Erikson is a master world builder supplying plenty of myths and background information. Erikson was a professional anthropologist and archaeologist and brings these talents to his storytelling.

This can make the book a bit of a demanding read at first as you will spend a lot of time keeping track of who's who, who is on what side, and what those strange Gods are up to. It is a book which needs your attention but is well worth the time and effort. One of my favorites.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sue Recommends ABANDONED by Cody McFadyen

Cody McFadyen, author of The Darker Side, The Face of Death, and Shadow Man, continues his series of suspense novels featuring Smoky Barrett, a female and special agent with the FBI specializing in profiling serial killers in Abandoned.

Smoky herself has been the victim of one of the very psychopaths she hunts and even lost her husband and child to the same monster. In this novel, she is faced with a new type of psychopath, one who doesn't do it for the thrill, but finds a lucrative career in causing mental and mortal pain to his/her victims.

Once again readers have the opportunity to learn of procedures and insights for finding these criminals as the FBI and Smoky hunt down another serial killer and try to understand what motivates and drives the killer. Could cause some readers to want to sleep with the light on at night but once you read the first novel, Shadow Man, you won't quit until you have read them all.

It is not necessary to read them in order but in my humble opinion Shadow Man and Abandoned are the most riveting. SH

Debra enjoyed Pictures at an Exhibition

AudioFile Magazine's Earphones Award Winner Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling is beautifully narrated by Mark Bramhall who has a unique ability to interpret each character's voice with unusual clarity. At times heartbreaking, fascinating and beyond our comprehension to imagine, Houghteling weaves a tale of prominent Parisian art dealer Daniel Berenzon whose fine collection has been looted while under German occupation in the early 1940's. The story continues after liberation when Daniel's son Max, in his attempt to recoup the vanished treasures, uncovers secrets that shake his already devastated world. Houghteling's descriptions of the Parisian landscape in the 1940's will capture your imagination and make you feel as though you are really there.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rob recommends Hart's War by John Katzenbach

I've been recommending this book at the Reference Desk for a while now and no one has yet come back to me and said "Wow. That was a great book." But undeterred I go on recommending it. And I recommend it here. Hart's war is set in a German POW camp for captured Allied fliers. A Black pilot is accused of murdering a fellow prisoner and a White prisoner (a law student back home) is recruited to defend him. I can't say any more because this is, after all, a suspense novel. Suffice it to say that the suspense works, the racial tensions are believable and the prison camp characterizations are well-drawn. My major complaint is the nagging feeling that the novel was written with a movie in mind. You'll see what I mean.
(The movie, by the way, is only fair).