Monday, November 30, 2009

Rev up Your Reading List

This Tuesday's Popular Titles
This week brings several long-awaited sequels and books by authors who do and don't churn 'em out. At the very least, we're wondering what Sue Grafton will do after she makes her way through the remaining five letters of the alphabet.

Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson
The author of the bestseller Three Cups of Tea continues the story of his determined efforts to promote peace through education in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Dangerously Funny by David Bianculli
Almost forty years before Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert made edgy, liberal leaning political satire fun, the Smothers Brother's Comedy Hour was both a TV hit and a thorn in the side of censors and politicians.

Too Many Murders by Colleen McCullough
Capt. Carmine Delmonico investigates a series of murders in a quiet and fictional Connecticut town. A sequel to On, Off (2006).

Trial by Fire by J.A. Jance
The fifth in Jance's Ali Reynolds thriller series, after Cruel Intent (2008).

Liberating Atlantis by Harry Turtledove
The third in this alternative history writer's Atlantis series.

Cobra Alliance by Timothy Zahn
First in a new sci-fi trilogy featuring the Cobra warriors. Expect interplanetary combat, laser gizmos, nanotechnology, and action galore.

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson
The seventh installment of the Avalon series, written by Diana L. Paxson, Bradley's long-time coauthor. Fans of the Authurian based classic and summer reading regular, Mists of Avalon, are likely to enjoy Paxson's true-blue treatment.

U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton
PI Kinsey Millhone is back with the "U" mystery, after 2007's "T" mystery. This one's centerpiece is false memory syndrome.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cookies Anyone?

Holiday Baking
When people think of continuing holiday traditions, baking cookies often comes to mind. Here are some tasty titles with new suggestions to enrich your holiday baking experience. Old favorites are also represented.

Cookie Craft Christmas by Valerie Peterson & Janice Fryer offers sixty new designs for Christmas cookies. Inspirational treats for New Year’s and Hanukkah are also included.

Lisa Zwirn’s Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes to Treasure for the Holiday Season covers the basics of cookie making, important tools, ingredients, and even a “recipes by flavor” index.

Swedish Cakes & Cookies is 1945 classic translated into English by Melody Favish.

Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri showcases a variety of different and inventive cookie treats. Other of the author's baking titles, several of them classic, are also available.

Jill Snider’s Bars & Squares is ideal for quick & easy baking.

Martha Stewart’s Cookies is a great choice, especially for fans of the maven of elegant living. Also browse the author's Baking Handbook, which includes 42 cookie recipes.

Post by Bev Simmons

Friday, November 27, 2009

Kid Friendly, Canine Approved

It's a Wonderful Life
Picture book and quick fiction readers typically love stories that feature animals. If your child is a pre-reader or early reader, check out our color-coded picture book collections.

For the dog lovers among you, here's a few quick picks sure to please. Each book holds a different early childhood lesson or message, useful to parents and enjoyable for your child.

Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman
When Sara Ann brings home three little kittens, Katie the dog's enthusiasm frightens the kittens away, until she learns that quiet patience is sometimes needed to begin a friendship.

Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems
The pigeon really, really wants a puppy, but when a puppy arrives the pigeon changes its mind.

Dogs in the Bed by Elizabeth Bluemle
If your extended family includes one dog (not the six featured in this book) laugh and rhyme your way through a hilarious tale about catching some sleep when your best friend has other ideas.

Carl's Summer Vacation by Alexandra Day
Carl and Madeleine are supposed to be napping while Mom and Dad get the summer cabin ready for company but escape from the hammock to do some exploring on the lake.

Don't Swap Your Sweater for a Dog by Katherine Applegate
Determined to win a trophy of some kind, first-grader Roscoe swaps a hand-knitted sweater from his grandmother for the chance to enter his new neighbor's very clever dog in a trick contest. A great choice if your child is transitioning to early chapter books.

And Featuring... The Story of Nubs
Marine Major Brian Dennis befriended a wild pack dog at a border fort in Iraq. Dog and man "clicked" and nothing kept these two apart. We highly recommend this inspirational book by Major Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery to readers of any age. After you read it, give a cheer for strawberry Pop-Tarts!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hot Picks : Non-Fiction

Week of November 22nd's Bestsellers
There are countless bestseller lists. This week, sports stories occupied three of the top 15 slots on Publishers Weekly's list of bestselling hardcover nonfiction books. Pick and choose.

Open : an Autobiography by Andre Agassi
Agassi's candid memoir about his struggles on and off the tennis court is one of the more compelling sports autobios to come down the pike in the last few years. This one is far more interesting than the traditional celebrity tell-all.

It's Your Time by Joel Osteen
The best-selling author of Become a Better You (2007) shares a new message of hope with readers --that, by using faith as a cornerstone, readers can find a new place in their lives where they are happy, secure, and fulfilled.

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
A collection of the Gladwell's best "New Yorker" pieces, including essays on such topics as why there are so many kinds of mustard but only one type of ketchup, a surprising assessment of what makes a safer car, and an examination of a machine built to predict hit movies.

The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons
Bill Simmons, the from-the-womb hoops addict known to millions as's Sports Guy, offers in a single volume his wildly opinionated and thoroughly entertaining look at the past, present, and future of pro basketball.

When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson
The story of two extremely talented b-ball players and their determination to best each other as collegiate players and then as pros. Great book for anyone who remembers NBA basketball as less whoop-wow showy and more elegant than it is today.

Last Words by George Carlin
Comedian and social commentator George Carlin, spent the better part of a decade working on this, his autobiography. Carlin's 'last words' are funny, insightful, and rippled with honesty and self-knowing. Carlin died in 2008; his legacy's a sure thing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

After the Apocalypse

Book to Film : The Road
The film version of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road, premiered in New York last Monday, November 16. Reviews are so far mixed.

However, we’re still hoping for local big screen release if only because McCarthy’s book is a bleak wonder and Viggo Mortensen is good at playing both.

While waiting, check out our previous post on McCarthy's books and books-to-film. Don't miss anything by this author...

Books for Your Ears

Latest on Audio CD
We're often asked "What's new?" by our audio book customers and we, here and now, vow to change our ways. We'll stop playing favorites with regular books and keep you informed about latest CD books, too.

A Selection of New Releases and Classic Returns
Ford County by John Grisham -- Ice by Linda Howard -- I, Alex Cross by James Patterson -- Under the Dome by Stephen King -- The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by Wess Roberts -- Haze by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. -- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury -- The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell -- Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay -- The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown -- The Lost Art of Gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith -- Rough Country by John Sanford -- Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

National Book Award Winners

On Wednesday last, November 18, The National Book Foundation awarded 2009's National Book Awards:

Fiction Category
Let the Great World Spin
by Colum McCann
Click here for a list of NBA Fiction finalists.

Non-Fiction Category
The First Tycoon : The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles
Click here for a list of NBA Non-Fiction finalists.

Young People's Literature Category
Claudette Colvin : Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
Click here for a list of NBA YPL finalists.

Poetry Category

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Goofball Graphics

Tales from the Crypt
The 1950's EC monogram comics, published by William Gaines of Mad magazine fame, were not only popular, they influenced the likes of cultural icons Stephen King and Steven Spielberg. They were also considered scandalous in their day and were reviled by critics who touted a link between comic book reading and juvenile delinquency. Tales from the Crypt survived as did generations of kids who loved them.

Enter the recently added, ongoing series of crypt tales from Papercutz. This graphic novel series is loosely based on the comics of yore and is every bit as cheesy and punny-funny as the original comics. The series is also loaded with hilarious parodies of contemporary pop culture and though there is some violence, the gore and adult content factors are low.

No great literary value here but recreational reading fun for sure, especially if you know a reluctant middle school-age reader. As always, we encourage parents to choose for themselves and for their families.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The NYT's Best Illustrated Books for Kids 2009

Picture Books : Enjoyable at Any Age
No matter what your age, a good picture book is sure to attract your attention. Picture books are also stepping stones on the road to reading. In simplest form, well-drawn pictures help emerging readers learn to use and interpret images, relate them to words then sentences, and find greater meaning in the overall story using all of the above.

Though there are many 'best' illustrated book lists, we highlight 2009 selections made by the New York Times. The list includes a mix of illustrated books for young and older children. The NYT has been publishing this list since 1952.

The Odd Egg
by Emily Gravett
Only a Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
Moonshot : the Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon; illustrated by Marla Frazee
Snow Day by Komako Sakai
Yummy : Eight Favorite Fairy Tales by Lucy Cousins

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Eat This, Not That!"

The Latest in the Franchise...
In 2007, Men's Health Magazine's David Zinczenko (Editor in Chief) and Matt Goulding (Food and Nutrition Editor) served up the first in their series of Eat This, Not That! recommendations and have since continued to offer many surprising lessons on how to make better choices when we eat out or in.

Their latest,
Eat This, Not That : 2010 : The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution, comes just in time for holiday travel and mall food season. The book highlights healthy food choices offered by popular restaurants; assigns a letter grade to each selection, and includes a short description of why the authors assigned the grade. Seeing if your favorite menu choices match the ratings is part of the fun.

This and other books in the series are super for browsing or menu planning and make reading about nutrition and convenience foods both challenge and pleasure.

Other Series Choices
Eat This, Not That! For Kids! : Thousands of Simple Food Swaps That Can Save Your Child from Obesity!

Eat This, Not That! : Supermarket Survival Guide : The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution

Eat This, Not That! : Thousands of Simple Food Swaps That Can Save You 10, 20, 30 Pounds or More!

Eat This, Not That!: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America

Surf's Up
Visit the Men's Health Eat This, Not That! portal.

Post by Bev Simmons

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Much Anticipated and In-Demand

Week of November 15th's Hot Picks
A long-awaited biography by a popular politician and works by popular fiction authors will in all likelihood dominate this week's list of in-demand new books. Here's a few quick picks:

Going Rogue : An American Life by Sarah Palin
The former governor of Alaska and and 2008 candidate for Vice President describes her life and political career.

The Wrecker by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott
Set in 1907, this thriller features detective Isaac Bell, last seen in 2007's The Chase. The authors pit Bell against "the Wrecker," who's been destroying trains and railroad facilities for no apparent reason.

I, Alex Cross by James Patterson
The prolific Patterson (slow down, wontcha?) offers his latest Alex Cross novel. In this one, Alex vows to find the killer who murdered his niece.

Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
Munro won this year's Man Booker International Prize and we have many Booker Prize readers in our community. This latest collection delivers eleven short stories about ordinary men and women looking to overcome challenges and live a whole life.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Book News: Another Way to Find Your Next Good Book

Online Newsletters
The library offers a series of online newsletters through which we let you know about great books you might like to read or those you may have missed along the way. Newsletters are updated by the 15th of each month.

What's In It for You?
You can review online newsletters by genre you prefer: bestsellers, new fiction, new non-fiction, mystery, classics, business books, home and garden books, and books for children or teens, among others. The newsletters include book descriptions and reviews and if available, author commentaries. As you browse, your can check our online catalog for availability. You can also subscribe to any newsletter and receive an email copy in line with each monthly update.

Give BookNews a try.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Off the Beat and Track: History Reads

New and Different Takes
If you're a fan of history -- or are looking for at least one book that will finally prove to you that history isn't boring -- give up a little time for any one of the following.

K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist -- Peter Carlson. Going back to the summer of 1959 when the Soviet leader toured America (he never made it to Disneyland) the author takes the reader on a hilarious, wild ride.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, & the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History -- Robert Edsel. Edsel uncovers the story of the allied division whose task it was to locate art works stolen by the Nazis -- everything from great art, to church bells and insect collections. A very compelling story about saving culture from war.

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression -- Morris Dickstein. Noted as an era of collective failures, poverty, and community response, the Great Depression was also a time for escapism. This well written history offers an inside look at cultural attempts to buck up and cheer up and may have a familiar feel, given our own contemporary tough times.

The Poison King: The Life & legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy -- Adrienne Mayor. Readable biography at its best, this one offers an inside look at the controversial, fearsome, shrewd, and legendary King of Pontus, (132-63 B.C). Little known in the Western world, he's a supposed relation of Alexander the Great and still a national hero in Kurdistan and Armenia.

Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, & The Worst Maritime Disaster in American History -- Alan Huffman. The riverboat, Sultana, was wrecked in 1865 and left dead 1,700 Union soldiers. This POW story, and its back story, comes alive through diaries, action reports, and impressions of survivors.

The Sisters Who Would be Queen: Mary, Katherine, & Lady Jane Grey -- Leanda de Lisle. Politics and family come together in this grim tragedy about power in Tudor England. This story of the Grey sisters, all heirs to the throne and all victims of extended family infighting, reads like historical fiction.

Post by Bev Simmons

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who Killed King Tut?

The Search for Suspects
Thriller author extraordinaire, James Patterson, ventures into non-fiction writing by offering his take on the death of one of history's most famous figures: King Tut. Truth can be stranger than fiction, as the story of King Tut testifies. The classic questions of who did what, when, why, and how are examined. Patterson fans and readers of histories or mysteries are likely to enjoy The Murder of King Tut.

Further Reading
For other slants on the same story, try The Murder of Tutankhamen : a True Story by Bob Brier, Ph.D. or Who Killed King Tut? Using Modern Forensics to Solve a 3,300 Year-old Mystery by Michael R. King & Gregory M. Cooper with Don DeNivi.

Also of Interest
Mountains of the Pharaohs by Zahi A. Hawass (Audio CD)
The Search for Ancient Egypt by Jean Vercoutter
Nefertiti Resurrected (Discovery Channel DVD)

Post by Bev Simmons

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Super-Sizing Economics

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner hit it big with Freakonomics (2006), a still wildly popular book about looking at everyday issues through the lens of an economist.

The book has been published in 34 different languages and has sold more than 4 million copies. Who knew such a snooze-o-riffic social science could be made interesting with provocative questions such as What do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?

The author team is back with Superfreakonomics, asking and answering a new series of provocative questions. Levitt is a University of Chicago economics professor and Dubner, a writer for the NYT and The New Yorker, among others.

Books to Film

Hollywood and the Bestseller
Many a book has been made into a movie. This year's book-to-film titles, already available or soon to arrive on DVD, include Coraline, The Talking of Pelham 123 (remake), Angels and Demons, Confessions of a Shopaholic, My Sister's Keeper, Twilight and Inkheart, among many others.

Now playing on the big screen or coming soon to the big screen or DVD, are film versions of the following books. We're sure you'll be part of the great debate about which was better : book or film.

Push by Sapphire
Filmmakers adapted Sapphire's 1996 book and titled the film Precious, in reference to the novel's main character, Claireece 'Precious' Jones. The film opened November 6 in limited release and has since generated early Oscar buzz for its stars.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are proved once and for all that picture books (few words, simple but compelling plots) can make for great films. Though this film came eariler, it also proved its point about picture books on film. A "delicious" book with DVD release scheduled for next January.

The Blind Side : Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis
Based on Lewis's analysis of college football mania at the University of Mississippi, this one opens Friday and stars Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw.

The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
Peter Jackson's adaptation of Selbold's novel hits the big screen next January. The story is about a brutally murdered girl who watches the effects of her death on her family from Heaven.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This non-traditional love story has been read, re-read, and re-attracted new buzz since its 2003 debut. What's to argue about love that endures across time? Don't miss the book but if you missed the big screen version, the DVD release is scheduled for next February.

The Box, based on a short story by Richard Matheson
Matheson's story is called Button, Button and is one in collection of "uncanny" stories. Greed and temptation collide in this one, written by the author who also penned I Am Legend.

The Men Who Stare at Goats
by Jon Ronson
Based on Ronson's book, this latest film featuring George Clooney relates the story of the U.S. Army's First Earth Battalion's reputed experimentation with paranormal activities and psychological warfare.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
The film debuts this Friday. It'll be huge.

Surf's Up
You can check big screen movie selections, times and locations using a number of online movie time searches, including those offered by Yahoo, Google, Flixster.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Great Graphics

The Marvel-ous Stephen King
Dark Tower graphic novels, a series published by Marvel Comics and based on Stephen King's earlier Dark Tower novels (1982-2004) have caught a local wave. The series provides yet another example of graphic novel format at its best.

The series offers a chance for adult readers/King fans to reconsider the graphic novel as much more than a comic book and to explore why so many young people enjoy the format and enjoy reading because of it...

King purists of any age beware: the story of Roland is chronological in the graphics; not in the order presented in King's novels.

Graphics is Order:
The Gunslinger Born --
The Long Road Home -- Treachery -- Fall of Gilead (March 2010)

Friday, November 06, 2009

2009 National Book Award Finalists

Fiction Category
This year's National Book Award Finalists were announced on October 14. The winner will be announced at the 60th National Book Awards Dinner and Ceremony on Wednesday, November 18. For fiction readers, here's a list of the finalists, plot synopsis included. Visit the NBA website to read author interviews and to find links to author web sites.

American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Fourteen gutsy short stories about life in rural Michigan, the author's home ground.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
In 1974 Manhattan, a radical young Irish monk struggles with personal demons while making his home among Bronx prostitutes, a group of mothers shares grief over their lost Vietnam soldier sons, and a young grandmother attempts to prove her worth.

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
A volume of linked stories describes the intertwined lives of landowners and their retainers on the Gurmani family farm in Pakistan, in a collection that explores such themes as culture, class power, and desire.

Lark and Termite by Jayne Ann Phillips
Set during the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea, this is the story of two children --Lark, on the verge of adulthood, and her brother, Termite, a child unable to walk and talk but filled with radiance --who grow up with their mother and aunt while their soldier-father fights for his life during the chaotic early months of the Korean War.

Far North by Marcel Theroux
Out on the far northern border of a failed state, Makepeace -- sheriff and perhaps the last citizen -- patrols the city ruins, salvaging books but keeping the guns in good repair.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Early Literacy Fun for Little People

November's Fingerplay of the Month
This month's fingerplay has many variations; we offer one variant here. Your hand motions demonstrate the words and with repetition, you can help your little one develop hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, rhythm, sequence, memory, and an appreciation for following directions. Of course, there is a little tickling involved so have fun!

Open Them, Shut Them (Follow-along Video plus Script)
Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap, clap, clap
Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Put them in your lap, lap, lap
Creep them, crawl them
Creep them, crawl them
Right up to your chin, chin, chin
Creep them, crawl them
Creep them, crawl them
Do not let them in!

Further Reading
Here's a short list of books that feature a range of follow along activities to share with your child as he or she develops pre-reader and early reader skills. As always, please feel free to ask for other suggestions and recommendations.

Toddlerobics by Zita Newcome
Can You Guess by Margaret Miller
Zoo Parade by Harriet Ziefert

Post by Kathleen Sands

Poet of the Month

November's Featured Poet
Maya Angelou (1928-) grew up in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. Highlights of her career: At 14 she won a scholarship in dance & drama and subsequently toured Europe in Porgy and Bess. She studied under Martha Graham and danced with Alvin Ailey. She’s authored over 30 strongly selling works of fiction, non-fiction, and verse. She wrote the screenplay and composed the score of the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia, and directed the feature film, Down in the Delta in 2008. She’s probably best known for “On the Pulse of the Morning,” her inaugural poem for President Clinton.

Give me your hand
Make room for me to lead and follow

beyond this rage of poetry.

Let others have
the privacy of
touching words
and love of loss
of love.

For me
Give me your hand.

Further Reading: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou

Next Month: Lewis Carroll

Content developed by local resident and poet Leland Jamieson, author of:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

2009 National Book Award Finalists

Young People's Literature Category
This year's National Book Award Finalists were announced on October 14. The winner will be announced at the 60th National Book Awards Dinner and Ceremony on Wednesday, November 18. If you are a teen reader who has enjoyed reading Nutmeg Book nominees and winners, why not branch out an give a NBA Young People's Finalist a try?

Click on the title to find out more about each book, 'meet' the author, watch a book trailer, and read an excerpt! Click on the author's name to find the book in our catalog.

Charles and Emma : The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman

Veterans Day

Thank a Soldier
Next Wednesday, November 11, is Veterans Day. November 11 is much more than a day off from school or work. Originally known as Armistice Day, November 11 was at first a marker date in history, in recognition of the end of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918. Click here to read more about the origins and history of Veterans Day.

Locally, our VFW Post 5095 will hold its annual Veteran's Day Ceremony on Sunday, November 8, at 11 a.m., at the Post home on 20 North Maple Street. Paul Rioux, current Post Commander, who served in the Army during the U.S. invasion of Grenada, will be the main speaker. The East Hampton 3rd CT Regiment of Fifes and Drum Corps are also slated to perform a medley of patriotic songs.

Please make a concerted effort to honor our local veterans, neighbors and friends, by attending the ceremony. Later in the day, the CT Veterans Day Parade will start up in Hartford.

In the mean time, please take a moment to view a very good video about expressing your gratitude to our soldiers. If you'd like to help our active service men and women now serving around the world, visit the web site at video's end or more directly, visit Operation Gratitude.