Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 2015 Staff Book Recommendations

November 24, 2015 

By Christopher Golden 

This book was published during the summer I moved from Georgia to Massachusetts. Having grown up in the Northeast, I’ve always loved winter, so I thought delving into a New England winter story would be the perfect “welcome home” read for me. At first glance, the cover of Snowblind is breathtaking: diamond snowflakes on the trees and the grounds enveloping a warmly lit farmhouse in the distance; a traveler lost in the woods would surely find solace in that house or another, also inviting, along the lane. However, displayed at the top of the cover in sharp contrast to the glow of whites and golds below, lies this review from Stephen King: Instantly involving and deeply scary. It will bring a blizzard to your bones (and your heart) even in the middle of July. Throw away all those old “It was a dark and stormy night” novels: this one is the real deal. And watch out for that last page. It’s a killer…

Still, I thought I could handle this book. Many scary things happen in a blizzard. Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere and freezing in the car because it won’t start--not at all fun, but not bone-chillingly (except for the possible hypothermia) terrifying. Or, maybe the power goes out at home but there are always candles and flashlights to chase away the darkness, right? 

Not so much in this story. Demons find you outside or inside whether or not you have a car to escape in or lights on at home. Someone or something is haunting these New Englanders and oh, how I wish it was the Yeti. Pure, soundless snow muffles the screams of the dead and the living, and the gorgeous icicles affixed to a sea of trees are knives. 

The weather outside is frightful. You’ve been warned. 


November 17, 2015 

Burning Dawn 
By Gena Showalter 

This blog is about to get steamy. Like seriously smutty. The deal: Elin Vale is a prisoner of the Phoenix, an immortal race with the power to regenerate after death. She was ripped from her normal life when the Phoenix killed her family and took her captive. Because Elin is only half-Phoenix, she’s considered an abomination and treated worse than dirt. During her captivity she watches as a Sent One (a race of angel-like beings) is brainwashed and enslaved by Kendra, a powerful noble. Kendra uses the act of love to poison her victims and conquer their wills. Elin decides to help the Sent One, Thane, escape in the hopes that he will take her with him and protect her. As you may guess the pair fall into a passionate romance. The only problem? Thane despises the Phoenix and knows nothing of Elin’s mixed ancestry. Elin is terrified to reveal the truth and face Thane’s powerful wrath. Will they find a way to be together and overcome prejudice?!?!? Find out at your local library! 

Burning Dawn is a stellar example of the paranormal romance genre. Showalter mixes steamy love scenes, angst and just a smidgen of plot and backstory to create the perfect escapist novel. Read it for what it is! 


November 10, 2015 

A Curious Beginning 
By Deanna Raybourn 

Author Deanna Raybourn is back and has crafted another great adventure in her new book A Curious Beginning! Those of you who have journeyed with Ms. Raybourn in her Lady Julia Grey mystery series are surely in for a treat with this fun read. 

Meet Veronica Stillwell: lepidopterist extraordinaire and reminiscent of Lady Julia in terms of her wit, cleverness, and no-nonsense attitude. The story unfolds with Veronica who has just departed her aunt’s funeral. Her aunt’s death has left her alone in the world but while Veronica is looking forward to her next solo venture, the Vicar, his wife, and the townspeople want nothing more than to see Veronica cast off her rebellious, bold spirit and settle down with the humdrum husband they have already hand-selected for her. Veronica will have none of this. No sooner has Veronica escaped the pitiful looks and tut-tut headshakes of her neighbors does she return to her home in the midst of an intruder ransacking her meager possessions in search of something. Not one to shy away from danger, Veronica makes a surprise launch at the intruder-easily a man twice her size- wielding a sword stick and chasing him out of her house. The intruder clumsily tries to get the upper hand remembering his size compared to hers, grabs her wrists, and yanks her toward his waiting getaway carriage while she bites at him. End of story? Hardly! It is just the beginning. Why is Veronica in danger? She scarcely has a penny to her name and will soon be the town spinster so what would anyone want with her? 

Although A Curious Beginning has its slow moments (Ms. Raybourn packs a lot into this 300-plus page story), the tension constantly builds, suspenseful moments are always around the corner, and I came to care deeply about Veronica and her friends, especially one who has a lot of similarities to Nicholas Brisbane (see Lady Julia Grey mystery series for more about this rakish gentleman). A Curious Beginning was certainly a different take on the traditional whodunit, yet it was satisfying all the way through. 

This was just the beginning of my discovering a new companion in Veronica Stillwell, but I certainly hope it’s not the end!


November 3, 2015
By P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
What if you could leave everything behind? Say goodbye to your fake best friend, who, by the way, secretly has a huge crush on your boyfriend; say goodbye to your quarterback, football- loving, day-drinking, entirely immature boyfriend; and definitely say adios to your evil stepdad with his “God is good” attitude and the mother you used to know.
If the opportunity presented itself, would you leap at the chance to try on another life? Unfortunately, choices in life are not always an option for everyone, and for Zoe, there is no choice. Zoe has been “marked” and when people realize that she has been marked, she begins to see the true nature of her family and friends, which is exactly what she has been trying not to do for the last sixteen years of her life. If you are marked,, you are a vampire-in-training and you either begin training or die.
Forced to confront her overly religious stepfather and her follow-the-leader mother, Zoe must show them her mark and hope they will understand. One way or another, her old life is over and she must accept the darkness, enter a new school, and start training to become a vampire. Zoe’s life has been completely turned upside down and it is up to her to find where she belongs and make the choice to either go forth or be doomed.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 2015 Staff Book Recommendations

October 26, 2015 

The Selection 
By Kiera Cass 

Ever wonder what Cinderella would have been like if she lived in a dystopian society years after the fall of the United States? And what if she already had a boyfriend before she meets her Prince Charming? Author Kiera Cass wonders just that, and takes the classic Cinderella story and spins it into a futuristic, tough love novel. 

In her world, American Singer is a member of the lower class, the fifth class, to be exact. Within this class reside the entertainers: singers, performers, artists, musicians, etc. The lower your class, the less you have and the harder you work; the higher your class, the less you work and the more you have (sound familiar?) America, or “Mer” as her boyfriend calls her, is being pressured by all those around her, including her patronizing mother, to join in “the selection.” The selection is a way for the king’s children to marry into society. Everyone has a chance to be the next king or queen since the royal house has only given birth to a son, the prince. Therefore, Prince Maxon is presented the challenge of sorting through and eliminating 35 ladies, so that he can find his one true love. 

Some may be asking why a Prince would not marry a Princess? The realm’s logic is if the royal house marries someone of the commonwealth versus someone of higher status,it will prevent uprisings. Hence, the practice of bringing randomly chosen women into the palace and providing money to their families in their absence while he makes his decision. Who will be eliminated? Who will be chosen? Who will be the next Queen? Will it be America Singer?


October 20, 2015 

Refuse to Choose 
By Barbara Sher 

I remember when I first set eyes on Barbara Sher’s book Refuse to Choose. I was in my career counselor’s office just days shy of graduating college and I had no idea what to do with my life. I should have known I would eventually struggle with this decision since I waited until the last minute to declare a major and, beforehand, happily took classes in theology, African American history, poetry, music, and Italian. I sighed in defeat inside the office slowly realizing that even though I chose my major (Spanish) because I loved the musicality of the language and was fascinated by Spanish culture, I didn’t actually want to pursue a career in it because I was too scared to teach or communicate fluently in another language. Oops. 

So there I sat. 

Many of colorful books in the career center were focused on interesting fields such as childcare, counseling, theatre, and music. I mistakenly believed that choosing just one of those careers meant missing out on another. However, I chose right when I selected Refuse to Choose from the bookshelf, a seemingly radical manual that embraced the idea that there isn’t always just one career path for everyone and that some young adults, and career changers of any age, may instead be more fulfilled by sampling the many varieties of the working world. Sher further illustrates these ideas by introducing the concepts of “scanners” and “divers.” Divers, as Sher defines, tend to be satisfied with choosing just one area of interest. Divers will often spend their whole lives “diving” into one subject area and will be passionate about going deeper and deeper to learn more about their chosen specialty, scanners, on the other hand, have “intense curiosity about numerous [often] unrelated subjects.” Sher goes on to say that “to scanners the world is a big candy store full of fascinating opportunities, and all they want is to reach out and stuff their pockets” (p. 5). 

If any of this sounds like it might relate to you, dear reader, then know that you’re not alone. Sher shows how being a scanner is actually a gift and even outlines several different kinds of scanners (for example, the “double agent”, the “sampler”, or the “Jack-of-all-trades”). She then identifies different ways that scanners can survive in the real world and still earn a living, such as combining many of their interests into one job, taking a “good enough job” that pays the bills, isn’t too stressful and then allows scanners to easily engage in their hobbies when they’re not working, pursuing interests without needing them to become careers, or starting one’s own business. 

Refuse to Choose is chock full of revelations and advice for those who want to embrace being a scanner and discover how to cultivate a life full of the many riches of learning and the joy in pursuing a myriad of interests. 


October 13, 2015 

By Jo Baker 

I have a small obsession with Jane Austen. I say small because it’s not like I have a life-size cutout of Mr. Darcy or anything…but I have read all of her novels multiple times and know a fair amount about her life and times. Like most Janeites, I acknowledge Pride and Prejudice as her greatest work, although I waffle on which novel is my personal favorite. (Hint: it’s never Mansfield Park). One aspect of the Austen world that I’ve never delved into is the plethora of fan works that have sprung from her creations. I’ve always emphatically contended that the original works are enough. I don’t need to know about what Mr. Darcy wrote in his diary while he visited Netherfield or what happened to Mary Bennet after the book ends (at least not from other authors, I already know in my own imagination). So that explains why I hesitated for so long in deciding to read Longbourn by Jo Baker. 

In the end I’m glad that I finally read it. Baker’s novel is lyrical, richly detailed and intricately plotted. She engages the reader with elegant language and well-drawn characters and keeps us interested with the slowly revealed tangle of secrets that entwines the servants with the Bennet family. We’re first introduced to the housemaid, Sarah, a young woman who dreams of exotic faraway places and freedom from servitude. Her humdrum life is finally shaken up with the arrival of a young man to serve as footman. But James is a taciturn disappointment and she instead finds herself drawn to the beautiful Ptolemy, servant to the Bingley household and a former slave. Sarah works under the guidance of the housekeeper, Mrs. Hill, whose close relationship with Mr. Bennet allows her to exert more influence over him than his own wife. As the novel progresses we glimpse the history of each character and discover how their lives are connected. 

In her postscript Jo Baker explains that the main characters in her novel are little more than “ghosts” in Pride and Prejudice. They exist in the background filling supporting roles within the larger story. Baker tells their story. While the Bennet sisters fall in love, Sarah discovers her own love interests. While Lydia’s flight with Mr. Wickham torments her family, the servants fret over James’s disappearance. What struck me the most was that even though Sarah and the other servants are limited by financial exigencies, in other ways they have more freedom than the gentle ladies they serve. Sarah doesn’t have to wait for her man to bend the knee and profess his feelings; she can take matters into her own hands. 

WPL's Pages and Palates Book Club will discuss this book in November. Join us on November 14th at 2:30 pm or November 18th at 3pm! 


October 6, 2015

The Good Girl

By Mary Kubica

Opening with a mother’s realization that her semi-estranged daughter may be missing, Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl quickly spins the reader in several directions with flashbacks, multiple character perspectives and a deceptively simple kidnapping plot.  This adrenaline-pumped thriller keeps you frantically flipping until you reach the final page (and the final revelation).

Kubica takes a unique storytelling approach to the crime thriller, starting in medias res with the return of Mia, the daughter, after months of captivity.  She suffers from stress-induced amnesia and the people surrounding her struggle to put together the puzzle pieces of what happened during the months she was gone.  The reader learns bits and pieces through flashbacks although we don’t get Mia’s own perspective until near the end.  The point of view alternates with each chapter between Mia’s mother, the detective working the case and the kidnapper.  By the end of the novel you’ll find yourself rethinking the motives of almost every character.

I recommend this novel for fans of popular literary thrillers like
Gone Girl or those looking for an introduction to the genre.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pit Lit: A Little List of Books on the “World’s Most Misunderstood Breed”

Did you know that October 25th is National Pitbull Awareness Day?  This day was created to bring positive attention to a misunderstood breed of dog.  It’s a day for myth busting and advocacy.  You can use it as an opportunity to learn more about the breed and the challenges these dogs face including dog fighting and breed specific legislation.  We’ve created a list of online resources and books for those interested in learning more about these lovable dogs.


There is a lot of information out there about pit bulls portraying them in an unfairly negative light.  Here is a list of some suggested titles to enlighten and educate:

Book Jacket
The Dogs Who Found Me by Ken Foster
Ken Foster is a pit bull advocate and founder of the Sula Foundation, a group of pit bull owners and friends who strive to promote responsible pit bull ownership in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Dogs Who Found Me was Foster's first book about dogs and it follows his experience rescuing strays throughout his life and multiple disasters including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

Book Jacket
I'm a Good Dog by Ken Foster
Another title by Ken Foster (he's a wonderfully accessible writer in addition to being a tireless advocate)!  I'm a Good Dog is a tribute to pit bulls which features photographs and essays about the breed.

Oogy by Larry Levin
This heart-wrenching biography of a beloved family pet is evidence of the pit bull's remarkable perseverance and ability to forgive despite abuse.  Oogy was found, abandoned and maimed, as a puppy.  He was used as a bait dog by dog fighters and might not have survived if not for the kindness of an animal hospital employee who convinced the shelter not to euthanize him.  Oogy was adopted by the author and his family and went on to a new life as a gentle family pet and therapy dog.
Book Jacket
Wallace: the underdog who conquered a sport, saved a marriage, and championed pit bulls--one flying disc at a time by Jim Gorant
Jim Gorant's account follows the life of Wallace, an abandoned pit bull who was almost euthanized in the shelter because of his aggressive behavior toward people and other dogs.  When he is adopted by a couple of "dog nerds" he blossoms and becomes a star in competitive frisbee.

The lost dogs: Michael Vick's pit bulls and their tale of rescue and redemption by Jim Gorant

Jim Gorant offers a closer look into the investigation of Michael Vick's dog fighting operation as well as the rehabilitation of the dogs who were his victims.

If you're interested in finding more books about pit bulls you can ask a librarian or check out our catalog.

Online Resources

ASPCA - The Truth About Pit Bulls
Sula Foundation
Pinups for Pitbulls
Worcester Animal Rescue League

Friday, October 16, 2015

Morningstar Investment Research Center--Online!

Did you know that Morningstar is available online at www.worcpublib.org? All you need is your library card to access comprehensive financial information on New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, and NASDAQ stocks, find comprehensive financial information on thousands of mutual funds, including the Morningstar star rating, view information on hundreds of exchange-traded funds with up-to-date information on returns, reports and Morningstar ratings, and get return information on various investment indexes, types, sectors, and styles. You can also test drive easy-to-use portfolio tools and calculators to determine what your asset mix should be and how your investments are working together, access the newsletter archive, and take advantage of free monthly financial literacy training webinars listed under the “Help & Education” section.  Visit our homepage, click on Online Databases and select Morningstar.  It’s that easy.

Monday, September 28, 2015

September 2015 Book Recommendations

September 28, 2015

The Host 
By Stephenie Meyer 

Ever have that book that makes you so anxious that you are yelling at the character to “run” even though you know they cannot hear you? If you like fast-paced action thrillers from the first page to the last, The Host is for you. 

When aliens perceive our planet and its inhabitants to be violent creatures capable of starting wars over nonsense and killing their neighbors, they decide to take action into their own hands by entering the minds of Earth’s inhabitants. With the world at their fingertips and humanity on the brink of extinction, what else can one do but try to survive? 

After she witnesses her parent’s demise and the world as she knows it is crumbling, it is up to Melanie Stryder to save her only remaining family, her brother. With just the two of them hiding from the creatures that took over their planet, it is up to her to keep them both safe. When night falls, Melanie uses the cover of darkness to scavenge for supplies, but despite her best efforts and the promise to her little brother to return, the worst happens. Melanie must take what happens to her next and fight for what she believes in, to save not only herself but her brother and the people she loves. Unfortunately, this means that she must endanger her own life even more than she already has. 

Jump into this thriller and see how the hopes and strength of one girl can save more than she would have ever imagined! 


September 21, 2015 

The Choice 
By Nicholas Sparks 

I am not very good at making choices, from what to wear, to what to do, to what to read, so when it came to reading Nicholas Sparks’ book The Choice, I thought it might help my indecisiveness. Let me tell you now that I was waaay wrong.

Life is about many things, but one could say that finding someone to share life with is on the top of many people’s to-do list…or not. For Travis Parker, life is about living it up with backyard BBQs and hanging out with his buddies. Of course living it up with the buddies can only last for so long, right? You would think the eagerness to move on in life would just be itching away at Travis, so when a new gorgeous redheaded neighbor moves in one would think Travis would make his move. But alas, life is not that simple, for of course the gorgeous next door neighbor is already spoken for. Gabby Holland has a steady boyfriend and soon-to-be husband, but when two roads cross is it fate to stay the course you are on, or jump to another one? 

This heart-gripping story will bring tears to even the most indifferent readers. Once the scene is set and the pieces fall into place, the protagonist is left with a decision that would make most people question not only their hearts, but their entire lives. 


September 14, 2015

The String Diaries
By Stephen Lloyd Jones

Every now and then I crave reading a scary, suspenseful book. I suppose you can call it my guilty pleasure. Tucking under the covers on a stormy night while my breath catches and my heart pounds along with the characters, as monsters seemingly real, yet, thankfully imagined, terrorize me...The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones met all of my guilty pleasure necessities and more.

In the very first pages of this creepy thriller, an SUV tears down a black highway. A wife grips the steering wheel, her husband’s blood spills out from wounds all over the passenger seat while their little girl sleeps soundlessly in the back. Time is running out. The road ahead is winding and weaving. Is he behind them? They pray not. Hope and each other are their only anchors. Their stalker, dripping with the stench of ancient wickedness has been gifted with longevity- and with monsters like him prowling through the spans of time there’s no need for vampires.

Frighten yourself with an age-old tale of obsession that preys on the conviction that wants and dark desires that must be filled no matter what the cost.  Brace yourself for a relentless ride where identities shift, time is both fleeting and endless, and trust and distortion are weapons.

Be forewarned: you’ll either finish String Diaries because you can’t wait to see what happens or because you desperately want to get off the ride.