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Books

JulieI have the book for you!  The book is Juliet by Anne Fortier, and is available to check out as a physical book.  It is also available in  downloadable audio in Overdrive.   The author Anne Fortier explores the real story behind Romeo and Juliet.   I have always said there is a little truth in all fiction.  This book also includes the genres of Fiction, Romance, Mystery, and Historical.

Julie and Janice Jacobs are coming home for the funeral of their recently deceased Aunt Rose.  Each women hopes to gain something from her estate.  Julie just wants a little money to cover her expenses and a place to live.  Janice just wants money.  Instead Janice is left with the house and all of its possessions.  Julie receives a mysterious key.  This key is linked to her past.  She is sent to Italy in hopes of finding treasure.  The first people she meets initially are Anna Maria Salenbini and her god son Lisandro on her way to Siena.   The first task is to go to the bank where her mother’s safety deposit box is located.   It includes the real story of Romeo and Juliet and the explanation of a curse on her family the Tolemaes and the Salenbinis.  Julie takes up the role of the modern Juliet.  Her given name from birth is Guiletta Tolemae.  But where is Romeo?  Why does Janice then make an appearance as well in Italy?  Is there really a treasure?

I loved this book!  Cassandra Campbell narrates the tale alternating between English and Italian accents.  She does an excellent job!  The story has many plot twists that will keep the reader guessing till the very end.   It had a slow start but became more interesting as the story evolved.  The reader will be left with a desire to meet their Romeo!

Please visit Overdrive for downloadable audiobook or the Catalog.  For  those of you who would like to read about the real story of  Romeo and Juliet read Understanding Romeo and Juliet by Thomas Thrasher.  See Romeo and Juliet a Duke Classic.

 

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May 16 2016

1,000 Books and Mrs. Kimbrall

by Hope L

1000books_1DeKalb County Public Library and the DeKalb Library Foundation have launched the wonderful  1000 Books Before Kindergarten program and it has made me think that  I’d like to focus on reading more myself.

I wonder if I could launch my own campaign, say, A 1000 Books Before I Retire, or A 1000 Books I Really Should Have Read While in School, or even A 1000 Books I Shall Read Before I Go to the Big Library Upstairs.

When I think of the earliest books I enjoyed, I think of the Dick and Jane and Spot books, and of course, Dr. Seuss and Curious George. These books bring back memories of the smell of paste and working with construction paper, painting pictures and all the fun stuff we did in kindergarten.  Prior to that I don’t remember much except for digging a deep hole outside by my dollhouse with a spoon from the kitchen drawer while Mom would hang up the laundry.

I don’t believe anything too highbrow came through our household at that time, probably the lone classics being my brothers’ copy of  “The Last of the Mohicans,” or “Treasure Island,” which of course were way above my level of reading.  My parents used to read their paperback novels in bed while we kids watched TV.

And so it was with a pinch of luck later on that I was allowed to select a title  from my fifth grade teacher’s collection of paperbacks, which she invited us all to do as she was leaving after that year.

Mrs. Clarissa Kimbrall was retiring.

Grand Canyon School’s elementary students’ greatest fear was the mere presence of Mrs. Kimbrall.  At some 5’5″ tall, with her stern wardrobe of a floral dress, light pastel sweater, hose and military-cum-old lady shoes, her intimidating stature struck terror in even the wildest or toughest juvenile delinquent or goody-two-shoes alike.  Everyone in our elementary school got a knot in the pit of their stomachs when they thought about Mrs. Kimbrall waiting for them when they, too, finally reached the fifth grade.

We were so … um … fortunate to be blessed to be the final class to have Mrs. Clarissa Kimbrall at Grand Canyon School, in Grand Canyon, Arizona.

But along with everybody else, I stayed awake nights dreading the next day with Mrs. Kimbrall.  It was when worry was formally born in my psyche.  But we all lived to tell the story.

When somebody would have a birthday Mrs. Kimbrall would break out her infamous raisin cupcakes with pink frosting that were tough as a cheap steak. But we politely ate and smiled, for to leave that ‘treat’ (read: rock)  uneaten – that which the old woman would bake once a year (it might’ve been years before!) and would store in her freezer to bring every birthday – would be to face the wrath of Clarissa Kimbrall.

One never knew what the day would bring:  would Rusty Kemper fall asleep during reading?  Would Mrs. Kimbrall herself nod off whilst reading aloud to us from “The Hardy Boys’ Mysteries,” her pinky finger gently resting at the side of her nostril just so?  Would the class giggle and act up and awaken Mrs. Kimbrall, who would then unleash her wrath upon everyone?

But besides the gifts of respect, awe and terror, Mrs. Kimbrall gave me my first book.  Sure, I had books that were hand-me-downs from my three older brothers, and I read their “Boys’ Life” magazines, but this book that I selected from Mrs. Kimbrall’s large collection was my own personal book, my first.

And the book I chose was … “The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek,” by Evelyn Sibley Lampman.  I shall never forget it … or Mrs. Kimbrall and her raisin cupcakes.

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May 12 2016

The Book of Joan

by Hope L

BookofJoan

It will soon be two years since Joan Rivers passed away, and her daughter has written a touching, sarcastic, book about her mother:  “The Book of Joan – Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation,” by Melissa Rivers.

Anyone who loved Joan Rivers’ humor will love this book.  Interspersed within the reflections are both jokes used by the comedienne in her act over the years and new ones the younger Ms. Rivers herself includes; “The Book of Joan,” by Melissa Rivers is available at DCPL, as are titles by the comedienne herself:

“Still Talking,” by Joan Rivers with Richard Meryman

“Bouncing Back : I’ve Survived Everything– and I Mean Everything– and You Can Too!” by Joan Rivers with Ralph Schoenstein.

“Don’t Count the Candles – Just Keep the Fire Lit,” by Joan Rivers

“I Hate Everything – Starting with Me,” by Joan Rivers

“Diary of a Mad Diva,” by Joan Rivers

“Joan Rivers:  A Piece of Work,”  by Ricki Stern, DVD recording

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May 9 2016

So You Want to Write a Book!

by Jencey G

How many of you have on your bucket list publishing a prize winning book? Where do you begin? What are your next steps?  How do you start a manuscript and see it through to the end that includes publication?  What makes for good plot and character development? Or just a good story?

The library can help.  One way to do this is to visit the experts.  You can attend programs at Georgia Center for the Book.  There is usually at least one program each week with many different authors and genres represented.  There almost always is a question and answer session at the end of the author’s talk for those with writing questions.

The next option would be to attend a writer’s group program at one of our many branches.  These groups can provide accountability and or work on skills that help progress your writing.  There are groups that have met at our locations at Wesley Chapel- William C. Brown, Stonecrest, Clarkston, Dunwoody, among others.  Some branches have speakers that come and focus on a certain skill in writing.  We had a program at Clarkston about the psychological effects of characters within your writing. Dunwoody has had a gentleman who comes and helps you work on the tools of writing.

There are many books that are perfect to help you wiJanet Evanovichth your writing and are also available on audiobook.   They may also be available in e-content as well. Your favorite authors get asked questions all the time about writing.  Janet Evanovich is one of those authors who has written a book about her writing process and the publishing field.  You can find, How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author at DCPL. I found it to be insightful.  One of the most recommended is Stephen King On Writing, A Memoir of Craft.  There are books available that focus on plot, character development, or how to read as a writer.

Please visit the catalog and see what can make writing your manuscript happen.  Please also visit the events page on the DeKalb Library website.  Maybe I will see you at a Georgia Center for the Book program!

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Apr 19 2016

Monkey Town, U.S.A.

by Hope L

Smiths

While reading the latest issue of my favorite DCPL mag, Smithsonian, I learned that one can still visit Monkey Town, U.S.A. ( actually Dayton, Tennessee), where they celebrate annually one of the most controversial trials in our nation’s history.

“Pretty much every summer since 1988, this tiny Appalachian town (pop. 7,200) has roused itself to celebrate that publicity stunt gone viral.  The Scopes Trial Festival, held over two weekends in July, features live bluegrass, tractor and craft shows, and a fried-Oreo food truck.  A storyteller spins his tales like a barker at a sideshow.  The centerpiece of the festival is a town-commissioned musical, Front Page News, which re-enacts the trial in the vast courtroom where it was held.

The play, performed by members of the nearby Cumberland County Playhouse, is essentially a rebuttal to Inherit the Wind ( both the DVD of the film starring Spencer Tracy and the book by the same name are available at DCPL).  The Hollywood version of the trial is widely loathed in Dayton, and the Front Page News does hew much more closely to the court transcript.”

Both the book and the DVD are available at DCPL.

 

inherit

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Mar 18 2016

Tastes Funny

by Dea Anne M

If you read this blog with any regularity, you might assume that I read only thrillers, memoirs and cookbooks. Of course, having just said that, I realize how very flattering to myself I’m being to even imagine that you’d devote a spare moment toward considering my reading habits. In any case,  I am, in fact, a huge fan of humorous writing – both fiction and non. Of course “funny” is subjective but I consistently find myself favoring sly, ironic, often British, writing such as that practiced by H. H. Munro – better known as Saki – and Pelham Grenville Wodehouse – better known as P. G. Wodehouse. I have also enjoyed some of Dorothy Parker’s and Christopher Moore’s writing as well aseducation  the absurdities and antic word plays of James Thurber. But one of the writers I have most enjoyed over the years is someone who is still active today – Calvin Trillin.

Trillin, primarily a print journalist, has worked for Time magazine as well as The Nation and is currently on the staff of The New Yorker. In fact, it was his reporting for the latter on the integration of the University of Georgia that became his first book,   An Education in Georgia: Charlayne Hunter, Hamilton Holmes and the integration of the University of Georgia.  Trillin is also a well-known poet – particularly on the teppersubject of politics. The George W. Bush presidency, in particular, receives his wry treatment in Obliviously On He Sails and A Heckuva Job. More recent poems appear in Dogfight: the 2012 Presidential campaign in verse.  Trillin is also the author of a well-received (and very funny) novel Tepper Isn’t Going Out. As may be apparent, Trillin addresses a wide range of subjects in his writing but the concerns that seem to be closest to his heart are travel, food and family. In fact, it is Trillin’s family stories which are some of the most interesting and emotionally rewarding.

His daughters, Abigail and Sarah, have appeared often in his essays – and still do even though both are adults now with families of their own. Both girls, even raised as they were in the culinary paradise of New York City by parents with adventurous tastes, were apparently extremely picky eaters. Which is perhaps odd…or maybe familynot odd at all.  The young Sarah, for example, always insisted on carrying a bagel with her on family trips to New York “just in case.” Abigail, who sounds like the soul of kindness, was “complimenting me on my Cheerios until she wised up at about the age of three.” Trillin’s Family Man is a delightful meditation on the anxieties and joys of raising children written by a man who clearly – and very happily – has always put his family at the very center of his life. Just as lovely, and to my mind incredibly moving, is his portrait of his wife, Alice Stewart Trillin who died of heart disease on September 11, 2001. About Alice is a wonderful tribute to a woman who he clearly adored and who, from the moment he first met her in 1963, never stopped trying to impress.

It was Trillin’s food writing though that hooked me first, most specifically, the so-called Tummy Trilogy – which consists of the books American Fried, Alice, Let’s Eat and Third Helpings (you can find the first and the third of these at DCPL). Trillin makes it clear that he isn’t much of a cook saying that, in the kitchen, he is “more of an idea man.” Still his culinary writing reveals the open mind, liberal taste buds and zestful approach to living that signify a gourmet of the best sort. Some of Trillin’s funniest quotes come from these books, for example:

(on revolving dining palaces situated at the top of tall buildings) “I never eat in a restaurant that’s over a hundred feet off the ground and won’t stand still.”

(on his mother’s cooking) “The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”

(speaking as a proud Mid-Western son about his native city) “The best restaurants in the world are, of course, in Kansas City.”

(on the hazards of venturing an opinion about what actually constitutes chili) “I like chili, but not enough to discuss it with yensomeone from Texas.”

You can find more of Trillin’s very amusing culinary essays in Feeding a Yen: savoring local specialities from Kansas City to Cuzco. For a worthwhile general sampling of his writing, check out Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin; forty years of funny stuff.

How about you? Are you a fan of humorous writing and, if so, who do you recommend that I read next?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mar 4 2016

By Any Other Name

by Dea Anne M

I admit that I’m quite a bit late to the game, but I checked out The Cuckoo’s Calling over the weekend and have not cuckoobeen able to put it down. Really. Of course, by now, everyone knows that the novel’s author, Robert Galbraith, is actually J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame and that this book is the first in a series of detective novels featuring the very interesting and mysterious Cormoran Strike and his clever assistant Robin Ellacott. On the surface, these books seem as far away from the world of Harry Potter as it is possible to get, yet one could argue that the prominent plot of each of the Potter books involves the characters in attempting to unravel a mystery. Think about it – who is the Half-Blood Prince? What exactly are the Deathly Hallows? Rowling herself has declared “…that the Harry Potter books are whodunnits in disguise,” and she had often expressed a deep love for the detective genre. I can tell you right now that even though I’m not yet finished with the first book in the series I know that I will be tearing through the second and third (The Silkworm and Career of Evil respectively) and eagerly awaiting the fourth book and all those to follow.

So, one might ask, why a pseudonym, Joanne Rowling (J. K. Rowling itself is a pseudonym – Rowling’s name is Joanne – no middle name)? Apparently, her publisher feared that boys wouldn’t read the Potter books if it was obvious that they were written by a woman. Hard to believe now, I know – but plausible enough. There has been some public speculation that the decision to use the Robert Galbraith pseudonym was similarly publisher driven – and for similar reasoning based of supposed genre-driven reading preferences. However, Rowling herself has said that the Galbraith nom-de-plume reflects a desire to create something that can “stand or fall on its own merits.”

Many authors have used pen names and for many different reasons. Here are a few that you may already know, or that you may want to get re-acquainted with or meet for the first time.

bronteThe famous Bronte sisters – Anne, Charlotte and Emily – originally published their work under the pseudonym Acton, Currer and Ellis (respectively). In 1850, in a preface to the new combined edition of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey, Charlotte Bronte, who of course wrote Jane Eyre, revealed that the sisters agreed to more  masculine pen names because they “had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice.” If you want to know more about the work, and the daily lives, of these fascinating women, pick up The Bronte Cabinet: three lives in nine objects by Deborah Lutz at DCPL.

Globally beloved, and Nobel Prize winning, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda initially used that name in order to keep his publishing activities a secret from his father who disapproved of literature as a profession. Later, Neruda – whose given name was Ricardo Eliecer Reyes Basoalto – took the pseudonym as his legal name. You’ll find a number of Neruda’s books at DCPL including All the Odes and On the Blue Shore of Silence as well as Neruda: an intimate biography by Volodia Teitelboim.duck

Theo Lesieg, author of popular books for young readers such as I Wish That I Had Duck Feet! and Please Try To Remember the First of Octember! is the nom-de-plume of beloved writer/illustrator Dr. Seuss. Seuss is also a pen name as it is the middle name of Theodor Geisel – the “real” Dr. Seuss. Lesieg, of course, is Geisel spelled backwards. Check out Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel by Judith and Neil Morgan for more about this very interesting man.

Alice Bradley Sheldon will be better known to readers of science fiction as James Tiptree, Jr. Sheldon began publishing her provocative and unusual brand of fiction under the pen name in 1967 and her identity remained a secret until 1977 when enthusiastic fans ferreted out the truth. Why Sheldon used a pen name at all is open to debate as there doesn’t seem to have been any significant pressure on her to do so by family or the publishing world. It appears to have been a deeply personal decision on her part. In any case, Sheldon was a complicated person – as unusual as her fiction itself. Check out my previous post devoted to Sheldon here and if you’re interested in reading her work (which I highly recommend) check out Byte Beautiful: eight science fiction stories and Her Smoke Rose Up Forever – both available from DCPL. You can read more about Sheldon herself  in James Tiptree, Jr.: the double life nomof Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips.

You can read more about pen names in Carmela Ciuraru’s highly entertaining Nom de plume: a (secret) history of psuedonymns. Of course, I wonder how many pseudonyms have been selected because the author thought it sounded cool? Just for fun, here‘s a simple pen name generator. Or invent your own! What name would you publish under? Then again, you might want to keep that information under wraps!

 

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Feb 17 2016

Brian K. Vaughan

by Joseph M

I am a big fan of sequential art. As a kid I read comic books all the time, and as an adult the graphic novel continues to be one of my favorite formats. Luckily, DCPL has a wealth of great titles to enjoy. One of my favorite “graphic novelists” is Brian K. Vaughan, author of such series as Runaways, Saga, and Y: The Last Man, among others. Some of his work may be a bit on the edgy side for the sensitive reader, but for the adventurous I highly recommend trying it out. Take a look at this catalog listing for a selection of his titles owned by DCPL. Happy reading!

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Feb 8 2016

Presidential Edition

by Hope L

This month brings us Presidents’ Day, the federal holiday first started as Washington’s Birthday and later consolidated into Presidents’ Day.

I appreciate the fact that DeKalb County gives its employees Presidents’ Day off, so we can stay home or attend a parade and celebrate and/or meditate on the office of POTUS.

Now, I wouldn’t want the job–would you? But for those hardy souls who have taken on what must be the toughest gig around–and for those seeking to be POTUS in November– there is a lot to consider.

Take the scrutiny that will accompany one’s every move, both before being president and after–for probably the rest of their lives and throughout the existence of this great nation. Books are still being written about John F. Kennedy and other presidents; popular Broadway plays are attracting attention to LBJ and Alexander Hamilton (the latter not POTUS, but close), and television documentaries abound about our leaders now and then.

PresCourageAt DCPL, I’ve found loads of books about POTUSes and potential POTUSes.

Will we see someone in a dress behind the big desk in the Oval Office? Is America ready for a female Commander in Chief?  I don’t know, but it has been fun for me to read up on some of the icons of American history.

Some of DCPL’s books about the presidents:

Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents:  Everything You Need to Know About the Most Powerful Office on Earth and the Men Who Have Occupied It by Kenneth C. Davis

Presidential Courage : Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989 by Michael Beschloss

So You Think You Know the Presidents? Fascinating Facts About Our Chief Executives by Peter E. Meltzer

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Feb 3 2016

Try a New Format

by Amie P

I always had some trouble working through graphic novels. I love books of comic strips—my parents own dog-eared collections of Calvin and Hobbes, Foxtrot, Get Fuzzy, and The Far Side. But full-length graphic novels are more difficult for me to work through. Every one that I had looked at seemed dark and bloody, or difficult to follow, or cheesy, or… or… or…

Then I read American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. I’m not going to tell you that suddenly I embraced all graphic novels, that I’ve become an ambassador for the form, that it changed my life… but when I finished, I did understand for the first time why people would read and write graphic novels.

americanThe story follows three different characters: Jin, a Chinese-American teen struggling to deal with the racism he encounters from his classmates; Danny, another teen dealing with the embarrassment caused by a visit from his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee; and the Monkey King of Flower-Fruit Mountain, a mythical figure from Chinese folklore. I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t explain how these different stories come together—I’ll just tell you that it is extremely well done and worth the read.

If you haven’t yet tried graphic novels, or if you’ve struggled with them as I have, I highly recommend giving American Born Chinese a try. I can’t guarantee you’ll come away wanting to read every other graphic novel ever written, but I do think you’ll be satisfied with this read.

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