Monday, March 31, 2014

March 2014 Book Recommendations

March 31, 2014

How to Get into the Twin Palms
By Karolina Waclawiak

While compiling a list of exceptional immigrant literature, I came across this title, energetically praised by Gary Shteyngart, author of the highly esteemed Little Failure: A Memoir. Admittedly, the cover peaked my interest too. (So much for not judging a book by its cover).

Suggestive of Joan Didion with a sense of humor, Waclawiak tells an L.A. story about an alienated Polish girl living the so-called American dream in a rundown Russian community of rentals with crocheted curtains, nosy neighbors, and apteka, stores selling everything from medical supplies to herring. Single, unemployed and abandoned by her newly Texan parents, Anya decides everything will be alright if she can just make it past the bouncers at the glitzy Russian nightclub down the street. This requires a bit of reinvention, including hair dye, wardrobe enhancement, and Lev, a homely, unavailable, yet irresistible gangster.

Capturing the crushing loneliness and disillusionment often depicted in a tales of immigration in a thoroughly modern way, this novel also brilliantly portrays the heartbreak and self-loathing involved in being “the other woman.” For tragi-comic effect, Anya’s stand-in mothers, the opinionated ladies at the local bingo parlor, and the Californian wildfires and their ubiquitous falling ash provide a fitting accompaniment for Anya’s painful yet ultimately cathartic path of destruction as she finally get what she wants—into the Twin Palms.


March 17, 2014

Fire Base Illingworth
By Philip Keith

Fire Base Illingworth is a very tense story of an infantry battle fought near the Cambodian border in Tay Ninh Province in the darkened early morning hours of April 1, 1970 towards the end of the Vietnam War. Mr. Keith, author of the acclaimed account of another related Vietnam battle, Blackhorse Riders, is a Harvard graduate and decorated Vietnam War naval aviator. Keith’s account is both an analysis of Fire Support Base strategy – using ground troops as bait to lure the enemy into attacking - in the waning years of the controversial war, and also a story of personalities and their reactions in a harrowingly dangerous combat situation. Moving beyond any political context, the story is also, inadvertently, an examination of courage, luck, and fate involving the combatants on both sides.

Keith does not avoid crucial issues such as drug use, command competition, personality clashes, and the darker psychological traps that intense combat can produce. However, he also portrays the fierce loyalty and selflessness ground troops had for each other in battle even in the final years of the war. Keith imbues his book with detailed narratives of American troops to personalize the combat. These are very human people from all over the United States. One Illingworth soldier, Peter Charles Lemon, however, was born in Canada and is the only Canadian born U.S. citizen to be presented with the Medal of Honor for fighting in the Vietnam War. Keith’s book updates the reader in a fascinating epilogue about many of the soldiers and their lives after Illingworth. He includes a number that were killed in the fighting and the very poignant written commemorations left at the Virtual Wall by strangers, friends, and family members. Peter Lemon is included in the epilogue and his is an amazing story in and of itself.

Readers who liked Blackhorse Riders will not be disappointed by recently published Fire Base Illingworth and can be assured that it will live up to its subtitle as “…an epic true story of remarkable courage against staggering odds…”.


March 10, 2014


By Andrew Smith

Oh, so you think you can just read a book like Winger and then go on with your life like nothing happened? You think that this is a lighthearted coming- of-age tale with some rugby thrown in? Wrong! If you choose to pick up this YA novel, you may find yourself giggling uncontrollably at the protagonist, Ryan Dean’s irrational fear of Mrs. Singer and her dreadful diarrhea hex. You may learn some things about the fringe sport of rugby including the very real possibility of catastrophic penis injuries. And you most likely will find yourself rolling your eyes at Ryan Dean West’s inability to stop thinking about every female around him as a possible mate. But after all this…when you’ve been lulled into false security…this book will wreck your life. I mean that in the nicest way possible. You’ll cry, you’ll curse, you’ll spend the rest of the day in a dark room shaking slightly. Or not. Is this enticing you to read the book? Maybe I should take another approach.

Andrew Smith has created a completely believable and original character in Ryan Dean West. The 14-year-old high school junior is treated like a little boy by the other members of his class. He attends Pine Mountain, a boarding school dedicated to reforming troublemaking rich kids. This year Ryan Dean has been assigned to Opportunity Hall, the dorm for the school’s worst offenders. He’s determined to change his life, get tougher, and finally win over his long time crush and best friend, Annie. He doesn’t anticipate getting into a fight with one of his best friends, bonding with the rugby team’s biggest jerk, or losing someone he cares about. This book is unabashedly real; it ignores typical narrative conventions and presents life (as viewed from inside the head of an excitable 14-year-old boy) as it really happens.

On March 18th at 5:30pm, the Teen Reads Book Club will be discussing this book. This event is open to all teenagers regardless of whether you’ve read the book. Join us to talk about Winger or to talk about the kinds of books you love to read. We’ll be meeting on the third Tuesday of each month. And depending on how things play out, this first meeting may turn out to be more a post-Winger support group. ; )


March 3, 2014

The Diviners
By Libba Bray

“Deep in the cellar of the dilapidated house, a furnace comes to life with a death rattle like the last bitter cough of a dying man laughing contemptuously at his fate. A faint glow emanates from that dark, foul-smelling earthen tomb. Yes, something moves again in the shadows. A harbinger of much greater evil to come. Naughty John has come home. And he has work to do.”

Libba Bray’s series-starter, The Diviners, is an addictive, thrilling young adult novel. It is somehow a perfect mix of mystery, horror, humor, and a touch of romance; there is so much going on in this book that I don’t know where to begin. The lowdown: Evie O’Neill is sent to live with her Uncle Will in Manhattan after a scandal in her hometown that revolves around the secret power she possesses. Will is the owner of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult—or the “Museum of the Creepie Crawlies”, as it is generally known. When Will is called in to assist in the investigation of occult murders happening in the city, Evie tags along and finds that her gift is good for more than just parlor tricks, it might actually help catch a killer.

So what’s going on in this book besides a murder mystery? Set in the 1920s, this novel features flappers, jazz, theater, prohibition and organized crime. Bray addresses issues like racism and homophobia without being heavy handed or a jot less entertaining. And over the gleaming light of 1920s Manhattan is a fog of terror: a haunted house, a Ouija board, séances, prophesy, and an evil spirit. The book benefits from Bray’s obviously extensive research. The dialogue flows with 20s slang and Bray effortlessly weaves historical context into the plot. For fans of paranormal fiction, this is a must-read.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Get a text from the library!

Our online catalog now allows you to place a hold on an item, then get a text message when it's in! You can also look up the call number of a book, DVD or audiobook that we have available, then get a text with that information to make it easier to find.

Watch our video below to learn how!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Computer Classes at the Main Library

   ————————–—— Level 1 ——————————

Computer & Internet for Beginners (4 sessions) Fridays, 9:30-11 am, 3rd Floor lab

The first two weeks of this class will build your basic computer skills by teaching the parts of the computer and practicing with mouse and keyboard. The second two weeks will teach you how to go online and perform basic Internet searches. Register on the 2nd Floor Reference Desk or call 508-799-1655 ext. 3.

New!  Clase Básica de Computadora (4 sessions)

Jueves, 1:00-2:00 pm , 3rd Piso, Laboratorio de Computadora

Si necesitas ayuda con computadoras, esta clase es para ti.  Cubrimos la información más básica: cómo usar el ratón y el teclado, abrir programas, y usar el internet para buscar información. Cada mes empieza un nuevo semestre de 4 clases. Para registrarse, llame al 508-799-1655 ext. 3 o registrarse en persona en el escritorio de consulta en el segundo pisa.

                            ———————–——–————–— Level 2  ——————————–—————

Open Lab with Staff Assistance (Drop-in) Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m., 3rd Floor lab
Audience: Students, Job Seekers and Adult Learners with basic computer skills
Drop-in lab designed for people who need extra computer time to work on job applications, Microsoft word documents, or those who need assistance setting up a library account, email, downloading ebooks or audiobooks. No registration required.

College Admission Essays, Resume & Job Assistance, Research Help 
Wednesdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m., 2nd Floor Ref. Desk
Audience: Students, Job Seekers, Adult Learners
Assistance with writing resumes and cover letters, finding information on a topic, editing, content organization and citations.  Register on the Events Calendar on the library’s website or call 508-799-1655 ext. 3.

Resume Help 
Wednesdays, Walk in 9:00-10:00 am, or by appointment, 10:00-11:30 am, 2nd Floor
Audience: Students, Job Seekers, Adult Learners with a draft of a resume and basic computer skills
Bring your typed resume on paper or flash drive and receive feedback from Dr. Terry Chapman, volunteer professional career consultant. Register at the 2nd Floor Reference Desk or call us at 508-799-1655 x3.

                   —————–——–————–— Technology Demystified!——————————

**These are one session intermediate classes, for adults who have taken the Level 1 class, are comfortable with keyboard and mouse, and have a working e-mail address.  Register online by going to and clicking “Events and Activities,” then searching for the class using the calendar on the right.

Linked-In: Friday, May 9, 11:30—1, 3rd Floor lab
This class will teach you how to create an effective, eye-catching profile on the networking site Linked In. It will also cover job search techniques using Linked-In and other free websites.

Facebook: Friday, May 16, 11:30-1, 3rd Floor lab—additional Friday sessions June 6 & July 11
Explore the uses of Facebook, set up an account, find “friends,” and understand privacy settings.

PowerPoint: Friday, May 23, 11:30-1, 3rd Floor lab—additional Friday sessions June 27 & July 25
When you go to almost any lecture today, you will notice that the speakers have organized their information into PowerPoint slides. If you are working or in school, you will eventually be asked to give a talk using these slides. This class will prepare you, start to finish. The only thing left is dealing with your nervous butterflies!

———————–——–————–— Always available ——————————–—————

Drop-In eBook Help
Audience: Anyone interested in downloading e-books to their personal computer or devices
Stop by any reference desk to ask questions and get help downloading eBooks to your eReader or Smartphone. Please bring your device! No registration required.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The library is excited to offer a new service, is two great study & career resources in one.

ONE Live tutors are available from 3 PM - midnight every day for one-on-one help, on any subject for students grades K-12 and for adults looking for resume assistance or career help. To start a session with a tutor, click here or start from our website,, and click "Online Databases" then "" You can create an account which will allow you to login and save tutor sessions. All you need to create an account is your Worcester library card and an email address.

You will be asked to select a subject and grade level to start a tutoring session. While in the session, you can upload documents to work on with the tutor. They may also give you links to online resources which will be saved in your account.

TWO In addition to the live tutoring, there are other resources which are available 24/7. These include study resources such as flashcards, links and worksheets; test prep resources such as practice tests; and career resources.

PLUS - download the app on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and receive free tutoring on the go.

Need help? Ask a librarian.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

From the Children's Room

It’s hard to tell what happened in February from beneath the piles and piles of snow! Here in the Children’s Room at the Main Library, we’re digging our way out and hoping to find some spring weather as we tunnel into March. Whether or not Mother Nature heeds our cry, we have some exciting programs in
the works.

Start off the month right by saying “Happy Birthday!” to the man behind The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. Stop by for Dr. Seuss’s Birthday Bash on March 3. This month we’ll also kick off our new program series, Artist-at-Work, with a visit from painter and illustrator Nancy McBride. Her work will be on display all month, and she will demonstrate her craft on March 29th. Do you have artistic aspirations of your own? Learn to Draw Manga with graphic artist and teacher extraordinaire Jamie Buckmaster during our bi-weekly workshops on March 14 and March 28, or join us for an Equinox Craft on March 20.
Love stories? We have programs for all ages - our Spring Storytime Session starts the first week of March. Sign up for Toddler Time or Preschool Storytime, or drop by on Tuesdays for Baby Time or PJ Storytime on March 4 and March 18. Read to Nemo, our favorite Newfoundland, on March 11, or Act out African Folktales on March 15 with storyteller Laura Partridge. Older kids can join us for the final M.C.B.A Book Club of the season on March 12 to discuss Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai; if you can’t make it, be sure to vote for your favorite before the deadline on March 14! We’re also instituting bi-weekly Family Feature Films, so join us for movies on March 7 and March 21.
All programs are free and open to the public. For more details, including ages and times, keep an eye on our calendar and on Facebook. We hope to see you in March!

Teen Zone

The Teen Department is welcoming a new staff member this month, and with it even more teen programs! We are now offering both a book club and a writing club every month for teens. In March, the Teen Reads book club will be discussing YA novel Winger by Andrew Smith on Tuesday, March 18th from 5:30-6:30. The Spilled Ink writing club will meet on Wednesday March 26th from 6-7:30 for another writing workshop to improve skills and get the creativity flowing for aspiring writers!
Another new program that is beginning this spring is a Studio Art 101 class for teens. We will be inviting professional artists to teach different forms of art for free at the library! On March 15th, registration will open for a series of classes taught by painter and illustrator Nancy McBride on April 4th, 11th and 18th. The classes are free but space is limited, so make sure you sign up! Additional teen programs in March include a Teen Advisory Group meeting on March 11th from 4-5:30, a Crafternoon on March 14th from 4-5, Edible Art on March 28th from 4-5, Learn to draw Manga classes on March 14th and 28th from 3-4, Chess Club every Thursday from 3:30-5, Level Up video gaming every Wednesday from 4:30-6, and many meetings of the Turtle Soup teen magazine group!

For more information about any of these programs contact Teen Librarian Samantha at or 508-799-1671.