Information, Answers & Reviews

Downton Abbey Reads

Downton AbbeyThe Times had a good article the other day about publishers trying to ride the Downton Abbey wave. In that spirit, here are some books at MCPL that share some of the period charm and dramatic power of this fantastic show. If you're like me, you can't get enough of it.
Rose: My Life in Service: The memoir of a humble girl entering service in the 1920s, serving as Lady Astor's maid, and glimpsing a world of great glamor.
Below Stairs: the Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir: For a bit of Daisy-inspiring perspective, this memoir of an ambitious kitchen maid is a sizzling look at the underside of great houses.
A Bitter Truth: A mystery set in WWI, in which battlefield nurse Bess finds herself entangled in a foul plot in a Sussex mansion. Read more »

Recent New Poetry

ImageOver New Year's I found a few interesting new poetry collections. What better way to start the new year then by sampling and diving deep into new poems? I'll introduce two of these now and more later as I slowly read through them.

Things to Say to a Dead Man: Poems at the End of a Marriage and After

I had no idea that Jane Yolen, who is primarily a juvenile fiction and young adult author, wrote poetry. And what a wonderful collection this is. Because of the topic, it's a sad collection; in it she records her experiences taking care of her sick husband and then the months of her new widowhood. To round out the book, she added several memorial poems about her husband who was an expert on avian song. Birds also figure in some of these poems.

Despite the main topic the poems are uplifting. All are good; some are absolutely stellar. Here's a few lines from "Sorry for Your Loss." Read more »

The Sun's Heartbeat

Sun's HeartbeatBrowsing the new science books, I came across The Sun's Heartbeat. I picked it up expecting a rather dry collection of facts and was immediately engaged by a chapter titled "The Wild Science of the Bearded Men."

Not only can Bob Berman write but he also has that gift shared by all the best science writers: the ability to translate complex scientific terms into language that anyone can understand.

This book provides a compelling overview of several thousand years of sun research including the great sunspot controversy of the 17th century. The invention of the telescope in 1608 spurned a race to discover facts about the sun. Johannes Fabricius and his father discovered little spots on the sun and excitedly watched them for days until they burnt out their retinal cells. An English astronomer who had voyaged to Roanoke with the English explorers also began recording sunspots. And Galileo himself entered the fray. In fact, Galileo engaged in a decades-long fight with the German professor Christoph Scheiner over sunspots. Over who discovered them first--in fact, neither had, over whether the sun has an atmosphere, and many other topics.
Read more »

Where will you Mango?

ManImagego is an online language learning system teaching practical conversation skills for a variety of popular languages and ESL courses. It's fast, easy and available anywhere you get online. Best of all, it's FREE through your local library!

Lessons include strategically  placed memory-building exercises to help users remember what they are learning  in addition to critical thinking exercises, which help them to intuitively  understand the language and adapt it to similar conversations.

You will have the option to start learning right away as an anonymous user or to create a profile, which will allow you to track your progress and time spent learning each language. If you create a profile, you will receive an activation e-mail with an activation link. This link is to be used only once to activate your account. Every subsequent log in should be through the link on the library's website. After you complete these simple steps, you should be all set to start language learning with Mango!

Find Out @ Your Library

You can get information about almost anything at the library.  We have librarians ready to help you find answers to all of your questions.

Aaah! Zombies

ImageWe've all seen them- stumbling zombies with their arms and limbs falling off causing mayhem and destruction and death as they come. We watch as they come close to the heroes who wait ready to take off their heads or smash their brains in thus ending their horrible half-life. Zombies are ugly things too. It's not much wonder we hate them along with their diet of brains and flesh. But have you ever thought about the zombies? Read more »

Year of Wonders and Caleb's Crossing

Year of WondersYear of Wonders is a book about the plague, but it is also so much more than that. Anna lives in a small village in England in 1666. She has two small children and a hard working husband. Despite her struggles with her relationship with her father, and a new minister, things are generally going well for Anna. Unfortunately the true history of the village, as discovered by Brooks, creates a tragic backdrop for Anna's fictional life. First, Anna's husband dies in a mining accident, and to help ends meet, Anna takes in a boarder from London. Shortly after this, her boarder suddenly dies, and people in her village begin falling fatally sick. The death of Anna's husband is only the beginning of the upheaval that Anna is to survive. Near the end of the book, everything that she has known was turned up on its head.

Geraldine Brooks came upon a sign at the location of the village and did quite a bit of research to create fictional characters and events. Though all the action takes place in the small quarantined village, the language is lush and the characters vivid.
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China in Ten Words

China in Ten WordsAlthough I've spent some time in Asia, I never visited China, so when I came across this personal narrative that combines essays on life in modern China with growing up during the Cultural Revolution, I couldn't resist. Through the focus of ten simple words, contemporary novelist Yu Hua presents a vivid picture of how Chinese life has changed in many ways, yet in others remained the same for over fifty years. With humor and an incisive take on his own culture, Hua shows how conformity vies with individuality in his country and how conformity often wins.

The chapter titled "Leader" focuses on the era of Mao Zedong. Although Yu was only a boy when Mao was Chairman, Yu entered the spirit of things by writing big-character posters. These were signs that were put up in all public place: movie theaters, schools, stores, and outside people's houses. In these anonymous signs, people criticized their neighbors for being landlords or for not following the precepts of the little red book. Yu Hua himself wrote many about his teachers and parents. In fact, he traces his love of writing from this childhood activity. Read more »

Mindy Kaling and Bill Clinton pick favorites on Today Show

Mindy Kaling, new author of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, and Bill Clinton, recent author of Back To Work offer their very different, but intriguing holiday and year end book lists. I've included their top 5 lists below with links to the catalog, but click on over to the video which is interesting at least for the brief discussion on the importance of books and reading. Happy Holiday reading!  

Mindy's top list:
1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
2. Bossypants by Tina Fey
3. Lady Gaga X Terry Richardson by Lady Gaga and Terry Richardson Read more »

Meet John Doe

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Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is to Christmas what "Meet John Doe" should have been for New Year's Eve. Starring Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck and supported very well by Walter Brennan, Meet John Doe is a story that would fit right in with today's headlines. Stanwyck plays reporter Ann Mitchell who receives her pink slip because her stories no longer have any relevancy. Out of anger she makes up her last story about a man who is so fed up with the political and financial wrongs in society that he decides to jump from the top of a newspaper building on New Year's Eve as a protest statement.
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