Archive for September, 2012

Murder in the abbey

September 26, 2012

In a northern region of the province of Quebec, twenty-four monks belonging to a very obscure Catholic order, live a cloistered existence practicing the rule of silence for most of their day.  This is a very unlikely setting for a murder mystery. Yet, this setting becomes a major character in Louise Penny’s newest novel “The Beautiful Mystery.”

For a very long time, the monks of this abbey were known by very few.  Then out of necessity, they recorded their music—Gregorian chants.  Chanting is the element that brings this diverse group of men together.  It is through singing that they become closer to God.  Every aspect of their lives revolves around their music.  The fame and popularity that resulted from the recording was something that most of them were uncomfortable with.  When the possibility of a second recording is discussed, the abbey becomes divided.

The prior who was most instrumental in organizing the recording is the murder victim.  All twenty-third of his fellow monks become, at one time or other, possible candidates for the murderer.

Chief Inspector Adam Gamache of the Surete du Quebec and his assistant Jean Guy Beauvoir are sent to investigate.  What results, in the capable hands of Penny, is a suspenseful mystery filled with twists and turns.  Added to this is the subplot that Penny continues to deal with involving a previous case that Gamache and Beauvoir were involved with.

Pam got me interested in this series and this is my third Penny novel.   The author has created characters and plots that are involved but logical.  If you are interested in reading one of her stories, I suggest you start with an older title.  It will help you to understand the politics of the police force and the tremendous burdens that each of the main characters deals with each day.

Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy

September 25, 2012

J.K. Rowling’s new book “The Casual Vacancy” is due out on Thursday.  Will she be able to conquer a new audience with this very British novel for an adult audience?  She has said in a recent interview that she is ready for the critics’ reactions.  She has no expectations about what to expect.  “I’ve published it because it’s what I really wanted to write.”

The novel is set in a small fictional English village called Pagford.  It examines the lives of a lot of different characters of different ages.  One family consisting of an out-of-control teenager, a toddler brother and a mother struggling with drug addiction is living in poverty.  Poverty and the problems that it causes are at the heart of this novel.  Rowling’s American publisher, Little, Brown, describes the book as being Dickensian.

Even though this is a very English novel, Rowling does thinks that the books will translate across national borders because it deals with society taking responsibility for all people in society.

Rowling is not working on a YA novel;  she says she has no plans at the moment to go there. The next thing she thinks she will publish is a book for children, although she has definite ideas for her next adult novel.

DVD Monsieur Lazhar

September 25, 2012

This is a very touching movie about an Algerian immigrant who has moved to Canada because of the political activities of his wife, who has been murdered along with his children. He is hired as a substitute in an elementary school after the abrupt suicide of a teacher. The teacher and students are all “fragile” but by being together and learning about each other they begin to heal.

“Pretty Tough” series

September 24, 2012

These books have been getting popular at my school library across all grades (5-7), mostly girls. There are 7 books in the series. I have them listed as YA in my school. Titles center around athletic girls, some love interest. Titles include: “Pretty Tough”, “Playing with Boys,” “Head Games,” “Stealing Bases,” “Making Waves,” “Fifteen Love.” They have different authors. Liz Tigelaar and Nicole Shepherd are two. May be available only in paperback, I believe.

LearningExpress Library

September 23, 2012

The e-mail is down, so I’m putting this in a post on the blog.  A patron called today inquiring about what type of SAT prep resources we have available online for her son.  I directed her to LearningExpress Library and explained how to log in to the site and what would be available for her son.  About ten minutes later I got a call back from her son saying that he couldn’t log in.  He kept entering his barcode and the last four digits of his phone number, but he could not log in.  I said I would speak to Maria about it and find out what the problem is and see if we could get it resolved.  Is there another way to log in to LearningExpress?  I have never logged in to it from outside the library, but I thought you were supposed to log in the same way that you log in to our other online resources.

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