Tag Archives: reviews

Author Visit: Catherine Chung

Debut author, Catherine Chung will join us to discuss and sign her highly praised novel, Forgotten Country (our November 2012 Afternoon Book Club Selection) on Friday, December 7 at 2 PM in Syosset Public Library’s Theater.

Forgotten Country received ***Starred Reviews*** from Booklist, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

From Booklist: “…This elegantly written, stunningly powerful, simply masterful first novel should earn Chung many fans, especially among those who enjoy Amy Tan, Eugenia Kim, Lisa See, and Chang-Rae Lee.”

From Publishers Weekly: “…Beautiful debut novel …Woven with tender reflections, sharp renderings of isolation, and beautiful prose, the story traces Janie’s and Hannah’s Midwestern upbringing.”

From Kirkus: “A young woman struggles to understand her sometimes-competing roles as daughter, sister, scholar and Korean American in Chung’s darkly luminous debut…”

Copies of the book will be sold by the Friends of the Library at the event.   For more information on Catherine Chung, visit the author’s official website.  Or connect with the author on her Facebook or Twitter page.

-posted by Jackie, Readers’ Services

Animal . . . Vegetable . . . Mineral?

What are we exactly?

For those of us who loved the Planet of the Apes movies and were able to suspend disbelief long enough to imagine Apes, Chimpanzees and Monkeys (not the singing group) as our intellectual equals but simply without the necessary language skills, a debut book, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore,  by new writer Benjamin Hale might just tickle your opposing thumb.

Hale writes of an unlikely truly original narrator, Bruno Littlemore, a chimpanzee with an amazing I.Q. who is brought to the University of Chicago to learn to communicate through spoken language.  Bruno falls in love with researcher Lydia Littlemore, who takes him first to her apartment and later to a Colorado ranch owned by a couple of odd animal rights advocates.

It is at this ranch that Bruno becomes a fully articulate and artistic being, less ape and more man.  His relationship with Lydia, one of the more bizarre aspects of the book replaces the human/pet relationship with man/woman feelings and actions (yes, I do mean that in the literal sense).

Eventually, Bruno and Lydia are forced to leave the ranch and from that point on, if possible, Bruno’s life becomes a twisted human menu of life in New York City, an acting career and plastic surgery.  I found this book a fascinating and interesting read, but I have no desire to see it made into a movie.

-posted by Jill, Readers’ Services

Film Documentary Review- “Catfish”

I recently borrowed the new DVD “Catfish and I enjoyed this little documentary so much I thought I would recommend it, through this blog, to a larger audience.  While our DVD collection is usually spoken for over the weekends, the four copies of “Catfish” seem available most of the time.

The film follows New York photographer Nev Schulman who received a painting of one of his photos from eight-year-old Abby. Flattered by her interest in his work, he adds her as a friend on Facebook. This expands to include her family, including her mother, Angela, and her older half-sister, Megan. Nev develops a strong friendship with Megan, who has dozens of pictures on her Facebook account.

I don’t want to revel any more of the plot as any further explanation would give away the twists that make this documentary so entertaining, touching and emotional.  I highly recommend it.

-posted Jill, Readers’ Services

Book Review

Fish! Tales

by Stephen C Lundin, Harry Paul,

Phillip Strand and John Christensen

The book is the follow-up book to FISH! which follows the Seattle’s famous Pike Place Fish Market.  The first book was about a fictitious company using the lessons learned from the fish market.  The second book outlines real businesses that implemented what the authors call the FISH philosophy.   The four FISH principles include: play, make their day, be there and choose your attitude.

The book illustrates how completely different style and size workplaces (a Sprint call center, a hospital, an auto mechanic shop and a roofing company) can put their philosopy in practice and make changes that will make the employees happier in performing their job and also make their workplace more productive.  The end of the book details a program with specific steps and action plans to help transform any workplace.

Ultimately the book shows how person by person, each of us can transform our workplace and ourselves if we choose to on a daily basis.  So, read this Fish! Tales if you need to energize your workforce, motivate your employees, increase employee retention or you personally need to be energized and excited about what you do at work.

– posted by Alisa, Reference Services

Judging a book without a cover…

As a Readers Services Librarian, I find myself privy to strange “inside” information about books and how people decide what book to read: often by the cover!

Today a patron who returned from her warm-weather vacation said she was used to looking at the titles of books people were reading on the beach for recommendations. But now, since everyone is reading  books that are downloaded into their e-readers,  she can no longer see what they are reading! Ha Ha!

This is just another reason why you should turn to us at Reader’s Services.  Between our knowledgeable staff, title swaps, staff picks and bibliographies, we can lead you to a wonderful reading experience and you don’t have to look over anyone’s shoulder!

– posted by Jill, Readers’ Services

DCI Banks Returns for Another Suspenseful Mystery

In Bad Boy (an Inspector Banks Novel) by Peter Robinson, a gun stolen by a jealous girlfriend unravels a mystery involving kidnapping and murder.  Erin, jealous of her boyfriend Jaff’s flirting with her roommate Tracy, steals his gun.  Erin’s mother, finding it her room, goes to the police station to consult with her former neighbor, DCI Banks, who hopefully will make the situation disappear.  Unfortunately for everyone, he’s on vacation.

Instead of diffusing the situation, the police exacerbate it.  Erin’s father dies as a result of a taser shot.  Tracy, who also happens to be Banks’ daughter, is kidnapped by Jaff, who later shoots Annie Cabbot, Banks’ partner and ex-girlfriend.  All of this makes for an exciting, action packed mystery.

You needn’t have read all of the Inspector Banks novels to enjoy Bad Boy.  Robinson has a descriptive, suspenseful way of telling a story.  However, once you read a book in the series, you’ll probably want to start at the beginning and read them all.  There’s a reason Peter Robinson’s books have been named Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly and Notable Book by the New York Times.

-posted by Ed G., Reference Services

A New Mystery Writer

If Ed McBain, the Edgar Award winning mystery writer, suggested you convert your short story into a novel, I’m sure you’d take his advice.  I’m glad Bruce DeSilva did just that.  The result is Rogue Island, a mystery set in Providence, Rhode Island.  Liam Mulligan is a newspaper reporter and his childhood neighborhood is going up in smoke…literally.  Someone is burning down the houses, killing people in the process.

Mulligan knows every crook in Providence, from the Mayor on down to the mob, the bookies and their lawyers.  He knows the inept fire investigators who he’s labeled Dumb and Dumber.  He knows the fire chief, the first female fire chief in the city’s history.  He knows everyone.  Yet, he’s stumped.  Because he can’t pinpoint the arsonist.  But he will.  No doubt about it.

On the back cover of the book, Harlan Coben describes Mulligan as a ‘droll hero’ and Michael Connelly states DeSilva writes “…with genuine authority, a dose of cynical humor, and a squinting eye on the world…”  DeSilva has created memorable characters, a cynical protagonist and a fiery plot.

If you’re looking for a mystery author who writes with intelligence and wit, a book with action, then Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva is your book.  Both the author and I are sad that Ed McBain didn’t live to read it.

– posted by Ed, Reference Services

Review:Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

The only thing one can be sure of as the story of the McAllan and Jackson families unfolds in Mudbound by Hillary Jordan is that someone has died and a grave must be dug.  Henry and Jamie McAllan, brothers separated by a generation, a war and so much more, are desperately trying to dig a grave in between torrential rainstorms in rural Mississippi in the years following World War II.  As the hole goes from three feet to four feet deep they unearth the remnants of a crime that, while having occurred perhaps decades before,  foreshadows the events that transpire within the narrative.  The crime?  The murder of a runaway slave in a part of the country that even after World War II hadn’t changed its perception of the African Americans who helped to farm their land and fight their war.  African Americans still entered and exited from the back door, sat on the back of the bus, and replied “yes suh” and “no suh” with downturned eyes.

But while race relations play a central part in Mudbound, love (familial, carnal, and romantic) is ever present.  Laura McAllan, wife of Henry, believes “Death may be inevitable, but love is not.  Love you have to choose.”  Laura , a college educated spinster of 31, meets and marries Henry.  Was it love or fear of “petrification” on Laura’s part?  Henry tears Laura away from her gentle existence to settle on a farm in rural Mississippi in a home that’s more shack than house.  Farming was a dream that he had had all his life, a dream he never shared with her, a dream that was his alone.  Not only does Henry impose this harsh existance on Laura, he also thrusts the care and keeping of his nasty, abusive, racist father upon her.  From the first moment that Pappy meets Laura, her dislike for him blooms.  Life on the farm is hard on everyone: the family, the share croppers, and the tenant farmers.

The Jackson family lives on Henry’s land as tenant farmers trying to eke out a living by paying a portion of what they produce to Henry for the use of his land.  Hap and his wife, Florence, eagerly await the return of their son Ronsel.  The war is over, but he’s found life over in Europe so freeing that he dreads coming home. From the moment Ronsel hits town the characters’ lives spiral out of control until the inevitable conclusion.

Mudbound is a beautifully constructed story about racism, and the extent to which a family can be melded together or broken apart by secrets, betrayals, and misplaced love.  A must read.

Please join the Monthly Book Club on Tuesday, October 26 at 1:00 PM or 7 :30 PM as we discuss this marvelous novel.

– posted by Susan, Readers Services’