Monday, September 30, 2013

September 2013 Book Recommendations by Staff

September 30, 2013

Finishing what Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood started: the final installment of Atwood’s futuristic fiction trilogy

By Margaret Atwood

Let me begin by saying I do not feel qualified to review this book as it is so magnificent, but somebody has to, so here goes…

I cannot overstate the genius of Margaret Atwood. There isn’t anything she doesn’t do well, whether it’s plot, dialogue, or character development, not to mention her mastery of multiple genres of fiction, all packed into one book! There’s the science fiction narrative in which humankind has finally outsmarted itself and been wiped out, save the few that were either too evil to die, uber-prepared or bred to be nearly indestructible. The survivors face obstacles in the form of unnaturally occurring animal hybrids, bio-tech gone awry, and each other. How will the survivors commune with the race of strange blue beings created by the long-gone messianic Crake?

There’s also romance: the tightrope protagonist Toby walks between maintaining her dignified aloof façade and succumbing to jealous pining for Zeb’s guarded heart keeps the reader pulling for her right to the last page. There’s adventure: every time the foraging band of “Maddaddamites” leaves the safety of their compound, the suspense is palpable: will they make it back this time? Plus humor: Atwood’s wry commentary enhances the story throughout, but none more so than during Toby’s patient nightly chronicles shared with the innocently inquisitive Crakers.

Bold, imaginative storytelling at its best. Click here to behold or place on hold.


September 23, 2013

The life of an Irish-American matriarchy in the housing projects of 1970s Boston

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie
By Michael Patrick MacDonald

This is one of those books I get excited about when a patron requests it because I enjoyed it so much. Written in 1999, the author, the seventh son in a large Irish Catholic family, recounts life in a single-mother household in the notorious Old Colony housing projects of South Boston.  Spanning the '70s and '80s, MacDonald presents his imperfect tribe with love and admiration while sparing no detail. Equal parts Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes and local author Adrian Nicole Leblanc’s Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx, this true story will reel you in, charm you and break your heart. And if you are a Massachusetts native, chances are you will recognize many of the personalities described.

Most impressively, there’s Ma, mother of eleven, who remains generous,full of fun, and the family's spiritual anchor despite being abandoned by her husband and enduring many ensuing tragedies. Then there are sons Davey, who suffers from schizophrenia; Frankie, a up-and-coming boxer, Ma’s favorite, and the one who is supposed to “make it out”; Joe, the neighborhood mechanic and his twin sister Mary who is as tough as any of her brothers; and Kevin, the precocious entrepreneur. The cast is colorful and you will likely find yourself consulting the provided family tree to keep all the kids straight.

Although the author’s mother-worship borders on corny at times, what saves this memoir from being cliche is MacDonald’s ability to convey how the setting and the times impact the trajectory of each child’s life. The racial violence between neighborhoods during the busing crisis, the influence of Whitey Bulger and results of his introduction of the drug trade into the ghetto, and, of course, poverty read like additional characters in the book.

If you’re looking for a captivating biography, consider this. And if you’ve already read it, try Easter Rising, the continuation of the family’s story set in a broader sociological perspective.


September 16, 2013

In a dystopian London, Paige Mahoney’s sixth sense marks her as an outlaw

The Bone Season
By Samantha Shannon

Samantha Shannon’s novel has been compared to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series with hints of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. After reading this much-hyped debut, I can attest that it does feel like a formulaic blend of traits from teen blockbusters of the last decade. The book is set in a dystopian London in the year 2059. Clairvoyants, or “unnaturals”, are outlaws forced into an underworld of crime. Paige Mahoney, a rare type of clairvoyant, is kidnapped and pressed into slavery by a race of supernatural creatures living outside society. She must learn more about the creatures in order to survive and plan her escape.

The author’s imagination make this book an interesting read. It combines popular story elements such as a strong, moral female protagonist, a dangerous, otherworldly love interest, and lots of magic. Unfortunately, the plot is frequently weighed down by cumbersome invented language and descriptions of the hierarchy of clairvoyant abilities. The author struggles to establish her universe for the reader and it is obvious. The novel alternates between plot and exposition, never settling.

In the end this novel was entertaining, at times quite thrilling, and the series certainly has potential to grow with the author. To see for yourself, place a hold here.


September 9, 2013

The history of a town and a family infused with magic and wonder

One Hundred Years of Solitude
By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

As WPL librarian Christina wrote in her review of The Painted Veil, this is a book that was recommended to me many years ago and which I’ve only just now gotten around to reading. Garcia Marquez tells the story of a town and its preeminent family from foundation to ruin. Flashbacks and premonitions reinforce the central theme of the subjectivity of reality and time.

 Jose Arcadio Buendia is the patriarch of a family of extraordinary and doomed individuals. The book opens with his son, Colonel Aureliano Buendia, facing the firing squad and remembering the time his father took him to see the miracle of ice. With such an opening, the novel quickly grabs the reader before plunging us into a miasma of memories, fantasies and many things in between.

This is the perfect title with which to close the season. The sweltering South American setting, as well as the author’s dreamy tone, complement the last heated days of summer. But don’t mistake this one for an easy beach read! You may need a notepad to keep all the characters, relationships and symbols straight, but if you persevere you will find that your careful reading is rewarded.

Click here to locate or place a hold on this title.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Overdrive App and iOS7

When an existing OverDrive Media Console (OMC) user upgrades to iOS 7, the app will fail when trying to open a DRM-protected eBook. New or first time users of OMC are unaffected by this issue. We are resolving the issue but in the meantime, here are immediate remedies for users:

  1) Re-authenticate the app with their existing or a new Adobe ID. Read more at

  2) Uninstall and re-install OMC which will also require the user to re-authorize with Adobe. IMPORTANT NOTE: A re-install will clear a user's bookshelf, history, and app settings. Audiobook users won't notice that anything is different unless they attempt to download parts of audiobooks they already downloaded to OMC before upgrading to iOS 7. A user will receive an error message informing them to download the title again.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

OverDrive’s Big Library Read is back!

Our ebook provider, OverDrive has announced the next title for the Big Library Read project! Patrons from around the world can borrow Jane O’ Connor’s “Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth” in eBook or audiobook form until Sept. 30th without wait lists of holds. This ‘global book club’ allows parents and children to read together and join thousands of users to read the same book at the same time!  

To borrow the title simply log in to the digital catalog page. You’ll see the title on the home page ready to checkout. A valid library card is required.

Jane O’Connor’s Nancy Clancy titles are great for young readers who are learning both how to read and a love of literature. Her use of advanced vocabulary, while explaining what the words mean, helps children grow as readers. Checking out the eBook and audiobook will enable children and parents to listen to the title as they follow along with the text. Big Library Read is also a great way to introduce students and new users to your digital collection as they return to school. 

If you’d like to learn more about Jane O’Connor and her writing you can go to Overdrive’s Facebook chat on Tuesday, Sept 24th at 9 pm (ET). You’ll be able to ask Jane anything you’d like to know about her writing process, where Nancy Clancy came from or what we can expect from her next! You can also join the conversation on Twitter during this event by using the hashtag #BigLibraryRead. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

September is the library card sign-up month!

Library card sign-up month - promotional video created by WPL staff

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September is Library Card Sign-up Month

Do you have a library card? If you don't, sign-up for one today as we celebrate library card sign-up month in September. A library card is your free access to books, e-books, computers, video games, magazines, homework help, job searches, movies, music and more! What an amazing deal!

Sign up for a new library card at the first floor service desk and receive a voucher for a free, small coffee (hot or iced) from our Food for Thought Bookstore and Café! (Valid Sept. 3 –30. Applies to new patron accounts only)

Here are some cool ways you can use your Worcester Public Library card. Discover all the resources that are available to you for FREE!

  • Search the library catalog, place holds and check your record online from the comfort of your home.
  • Download ebooks, eaudio or emusic to read or listen to on your electronic devices.
  • Visit a museum with a museum pass from the library.
  • Bring your child to our amazing story hours and children’s programs.
  • Use an Internet computer or the computer lab to get your work done.
  • Browse through an array of magazines and newspapers available in the library or online.
  • Support the library by being a member of the Friends of the Library, WPL Foundation or by volunteering.
  • Check our selection of online databases that will help you prepare for a test, research for school, find the  value of a collectible or fix that classic car in your garage.
  • Start your business research at the library with the various online tools and print materials we offer.
  • Researching your family tree or Worcester History? Start with our Genealogy resources page or talk to our local history librarian.
  • Take advantage of our Grant Resource Center and online databases to research your grant.
  • Stay connected! Socialize with us, anytime of the day with Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and more!
  • Peruse our Government Document collection which holds over 300,000 federal documents.
  • Introduce your children to TumbleBooks, where they can read a book online.
  • Use our career computers to search for job, write a resume or fill out an application.
  • Learn a foreign language. You never know when your next trip abroad will be!
  • Use our free WI-FI with your laptops and devices while you visit the library.
  • Take advantage of the various classes and programs we offer for all ages.
  • Need a quiet study room? Book a meeting or study room for your use.
  • Can’t visit the library or its branches? Visit Libby, our bookmobile.
  • Participate in a reading group and attend a book club for children, teens or adults.