Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Frozen in Time by Mark Kurlansky

Frozen in TimeClarence Birdseye was born at the height of the Industrial Revolution and grew up in a time when both Europe and America seemed to have new devices coming out every week.

We learn of Clarence’s (he later went by Bob) likes, his dreams, his family background, his childhood, and education.  Bob was a naturalist and a thrifty thinker.

Forced to drop out of college due to lack of funding, Bob headed west to find work and adventure.  He quickly realized how much westerners lived on food from a can and the need for preserved food.

Birdseye left the west for Washington, D.C. to work for the Department of Agriculture.  He volunteered to go trapping and shooting in highly ingested areas of Montana to help solve the Bitterroot spotted fever problem.  After helping solve the problem, he moved on to his next project.

Throughout his life, he developed many ideas and used them to create companies that he would turn around and sell.  His passion seemed to be in freezing.

After many attempts at freezing and selling items, Birdseye finally hit his big break when Postum Cereal Co. bought out one of his businesses, General Seafoods Corp. They created a division, Birds Eye Frosted Food Division, in which Bob was an executive.  During the 1940’s, thanks to Birds Eye’s competition, frozen food finally became popular.

It’s hard to imagine what our world would be like without the frozen foods that we’ve come to depend on.

- Amanda

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Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

UnbrokenIf I had to describe this book in one word it would be WOW.  I went into the book with every intention of just skimming through the pages but I became enthralled and read the whole thing.

Broken into several parts, the book opens with the Introduction.  Here, we get a brief glimpse of Louie and his crewmates stranded on water.

In Part 1, we learn about Louie as a boy.  At the age of 14, Louie was hauled to the principal’s office, banished from activities.  His older brother, Pete, convinced the principal to let Louie join a sport.  Pete made a runner out of him.  Louie became so good that he qualified for the 1936 Olympics as the youngest distance runner to ever make the team.

Louie joined the Army Air Corps in 1941.  Weeks later, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  Part 2 covers his life at war, from B-24 training to the craft going down.  Part 3 entails the surviving crew members grueling 47 day journey in the ocean, only to be captured by the Japanese.

Part 4 is extremely distressful and heartbreaking.  To learn of the torture, cruelty, and unthinkable hell these men were put through made me feel ill at times.  Finally, the war is over and the POW are released to go home.

Part 5 sees the aftermath of war in Louie.  He drinks his post-war life and bitterness away to cope.  Though he has married and has a child, nothing helps with his nightmares and hallucinations.  His wife, at her wits end, relentlessly asked him to go to a Billy Graham sermon with her.  Reluctantly, he went.  There, he found God and woke the next day feeling cleansed.  He became a Christian speaker, forgave his captors, and opened the greatest project of his life with Victory Boys Camp.

I highly recommend adding this book to your shelf.

- Amanda

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Picks for Public Libraries—October 2014

Do you feel the need…the need for quality nonfiction titles?  It’s your lucky day because I have the perfect selection list for you!  Brodart’s Picks for Public Libraries is compiled by our Collection Development librarians and features an array of practical nonfiction titles that aren’t likely to be reviewed.  The titles are great selections for public libraries.  Add them to your shelves!   View the entire list here. Read more…

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Blue LabyrinthSpecial Agent Pendergast returns along with D’Agosta, Constance, and Margo Green in this thrilling, fast paced novel.

When Alban, one of Pendergast’s twin sons, shows up on his front porch dead, Pendergast is left wondering who killed his son and what message they are trying to send to him. Clues lead him to an abandoned mine where a confrontation with a stranger leads to Pendergast being poisoned with a 100 year old elixir. As Pendergast grows sick and weak, D’Agosta, Constance, and Margo must find an antidote to save his life without losing their own in the process.

Preston & Child never disappoint. If you have not read any of their books before I highly recommend that you get started!

- Tina

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Holiday Fun for Kids and Teens

It’s almost that time of year, the holiday season!  There are so many reasons to celebrate!  We have a festive array of titles to enhance your children’s and teen holiday collections.  Add new titles on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and the New Year.  There are informational titles as well as fun picture books featuring favorite characters like Curious George and Dora, as well as craft and drawing books.  It’s never too early to do your holiday shopping…for books!     View the entire list here. Read more…

Thomas Paine by Albert Marrin

Thomas PaineI am by no means a nonfiction, historical, or biographical fan.  I’m ashamed to say that I’ve heard the name Thomas Paine but if asked who he was, I wouldn’t have a clue.  Now would be a good chance to read up on my history.

Prior to and during the American Revolution, Paine is one of the most important men behind the successful revolt of the American colonies and the subsequent formation of the United State of America.  Paine wrote for the common people and grabbed their attention by their emotions and intelligence.

Readers will also learn about the feud between Edmund Burke and Paine and the significance of their conflicting views.

Little fun facts keep readers in the mix and had me stop several times and say, “huh, that’s handy information to know”, for instance, where the phrase “reading them the riot act” came from.

This book is a great learning tool for young adults and for adults that could use a refresher course on an influential man or as he was dubbed, The Father of the American Revolution.

- Amanda

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Autumn Falls by Bella Thorne

Autumn FallsAutumn Falls is about a girl and her family starting their life over after the sudden and devastating loss of her father.  She starts a new school with the hope of blending in and just getting by.  This unfortunately does not happen, however, as she is the target of bullying by the popular girls and struggles to fit in.

Along the way she becomes friends with people that accept her for who she is. They help her realize that even though life is tough sometimes, you can still have fun along the way. She learns to get along and to rise above the petty drama caused by her peers. Eventually she discovers that people will like her for exactly who she is.

This book is a very quick read that holds your attention and keeps you guessing. Autumn is a very likeable character and her story is going to be very relatable for teen girls that are struggling for acceptance.

- Renee

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Plot Perfect by Paula Munier

Plot PerfectPlot a specific path as you write your novel with examples, exercises, and insight that illuminates the three-act structure and how it can help you craft the story you need to tell. Checklists help you plan plots and subplots, as well as plan each individual act of your story.

While the examples from works of fiction and movies become a bit difficult to wade through, simply due to sheer volume, quotations from authors both classic and contemporary help inspire aspiring writers. The first six chapters cover areas with which many writers are already familiar, such as the inciting incident and introducing the story world. After a chapter-long case study of The Maltese Falcon and its plot points, subsequent chapters dive into pacing, themes, how to raise the stakes, and making sure each scene speaks to the theme in some deliberate way.

This is an ideal selection for “outline people” or “non-outline people” who are seeking a bit more structure while writing their novels. While I still prefer James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure, Plot Perfect provides significant detail and gave me a new way of looking at my next project.

- Travis

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Running Out of Night by Sharon Lovejoy

Running out of NightThis book is about the daily struggle for survival for a nameless girl living in the south.  Her mother died giving birth to her and her father never bothered to name her. Every day was a combination of beatings and isolation until one day a runaway slave girl named Zenobia, stumbles upon the nameless girl and asks for her help.

The nameless girl is hesitant to help Zenobia as she knows the punishment would be severe if she were caught.  She doesn’t have the heart to hand the runaway over to be killed so she decides to help hide her.  After a particularly brutal beating from one of her brothers, the nameless girl decided to run away with Zenobia.  On their flight to freedom, Zenobia gives the nameless girl the name Lark because of her ability to mimic the bird’s song. This book describes their journey to freedom and discovery of the Underground Railroad.

This is a heartfelt story about friendship and love. I couldn’t put this book down, I would recommend it to anyone.

- Renee

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Rolling Stone’s Best Non-Superhero Graphic Novels

Rolling Stone has released their list of the best non-superhero graphic novels.  The titles included may not feature characters like Superman or Batman, but they are excellent graphic novels that are worthy of being included in your library collection.  There are titles by Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner, Herge, and Marjane Satrapi, just to name a few.  Make sure you check out the complete list!  View the entire list here.

SagaSaga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. VaughanIn the midst of a never-ending galactic war, two soldiers who should be fighting against each other, fall in love and risk everything to be together.  They try to build a new life and begin a family in a dangerous old universe.  Learn more and order here.
MausMaus: A Survivor’s Tale, Vol. 1. My Father Bleeds History by Art SpiegelmanThis is the first of two volumes that tell the powerful story of a Holocaust survivor from the point of view of his son, a cartoonist.  Spiegelman uses anthropomorphic animals to portray the characters as he tells about his parent’s experiences as Jews in wartime Poland.  Learn more and order here.
PersepolisPersepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane SatrapiThis is the unforgettable autobiography of Marjane Satrapi’s life as she grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. You witness the history of Iran as seen from a child’s perspective, including events such as the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the victory of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of the war with Iraq. It’s not only the story of Marjane’s daily life in Iran but also her extraordinary family. Learn more and order here.
Hark!Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton Kate Beaton showcases her perfectly timed humor and absurdness in this collection of favorite and previously unpublished stories.  Her comic strips are about famous authors, their characters, political and historical figures, taking readers on a jovial journey through history and literature.  Learn more and order here.

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