Archive for November, 2016

An Irish Country Love Story

November 22, 2016

index-aspxPatrick Taylor has written his eleventh title in the Irish Country Doctor series : An Irish Country Love Story. A variety of love stories are offered in this latest title: from the romantic love between young Dr. Barry Laverty and his fiancee Sue Nolan, to the love of a Ulsterman, Sonny Houston, for his faithful dog, Jasper. There is a love for home, evidenced when Dr. Fingal O’Reilly finds himself in a fight to keep his old homestead from being demolished in order to make room for a new road through town. Agape, or compassionate love, is given freely between the doctors and their patients that they care for. And finally, the love of the Ulster people for their piece of the Emerald Isle shines throughout the novel. After reading about the affection and respect that the residents of Ballybucklebo have for each other, one can almost become envious of such a place…

Dietland

November 21, 2016

Dietland by Sarai Walker is one of my favorite novels I’ve read this year. This book is tasty, wicked, bizarre, disturbing, and highly entertaining. The protagonist of Dietland is a 300+ pound woman named Alicia (Plum) Kettle.

Plum has lived a life of extreme self-hatred and loneliness. She doesn’t have many friends, she’s never been in a serious, romantic relationship, and her job is anything but glamorous. She also has clinical depression. She believes she will achieve true happiness if she undergoes gastric 22749796.jpgbypass surgery. While waiting for her upcoming surgery, Plum notices a young woman who has been following her around. Is this woman deliberately following Plum, or is it just her imagination?

What makes this novel so crazy and unique is the unexpected plot twist. There’s an all-female terrorist group (called “Jennifer” of all things) wrecking havoc and “sweet revenge” upon sexually abusive men.How does this weave into Plum’s story? You will have to read and see!

This book deals with some heavy topics such as: eating disorders, fat shaming, sexual violence, pornography, guerilla warfare, and misconceptions about body image/sexual attractiveness in the media. Keep in mind, this book is a satire. It’s definitely not meant to be taken seriously. But you’ll definitely need to have an open-mind while reading “Dietland”. It’s a brutally honest account of how beauty in America (and around the world) is a powerful tool and also emotionally crippling to the female psyche. Don’t let the glossy cover of this book fool you – it’s a killer. But it will empower you!

“The Mistletoe Murder”

November 21, 2016

P.D.James, who died in 2014, was one of the queens of British crime writers.  James was best known for her mystery novels featuring Adam Dalgliesh, a poet-detective.  “The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories” is a departure from the novel format.  It features four short stories that were originally written to be published in newspapers or magazines at Christmastime.

Obviously, each of these stories deals with a murder.  What makes them so readable is that because they are written as short stories.  James focuses on the crime and those who might have committed that crime.  Setting, and character descriptions are dealt with succinctly.

Each of the four stories deals with different murders and, for the most part, different characters.  In two of the stories, a young Adam Dalgliesh is an important character.  Each of the four stories has a plot twist that is not relieved until the last pages.  “A Very Commonplace Murder” is an especially well-crafted story that most readers will probably say that they didn’t see that ending coming.

“The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories” is a very entertaining quartet of mystery stories that are perfect for the hectic Christmas season or at any time during the year.9780451494146_p0_v2_s118x184.jpg

Gaming and Coding

November 20, 2016

Gene Luen Yang, recently named a fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, which is sometimes known as a “genius” grant, was profiled in the “New York Times Magazine” section on Sunday, November 20.  Interest in comic books since he was a kid led him to a career as a graphic novelist. He also is a high school computer programming teacher.  He was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for his graphic novel “American Born Chinese.”  Currently, he is the author of “New Super-Man,” a series about a Chinese teenager who becomes a costumed hero.

In addition to these projects, Mr. Yang is the author of a new series  for gamers and coders.  In 2015, the first title in the series, “Secret Coders,” was published.  The setting is Stately Academy, a school where mysteries abound.  Hopper and her new friend Eni realize they can solve the school’s secrets by using simple programming language.  Yang uses his book to infuse coding lessons into the plot.9781626720756_p0_v2_s118x184.jpg The second book in the series, “Paths & Portal,” published in 2016,  deals with Hopper and Eni trying to program a robot.  Each time the students write a new program, Yang breaks down the steps visually.

He even invites reader to come up with their 9781626720763_p0_v2_s118x184.jpgown coding solution.

Gamers and Coders grades 3-6 will enjoy match their skills with the students of Stately Academy.

“The Snowy Day”

November 19, 2016

The winner of the 1963 Caldecott Medal, “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic that takes the reader along as Peter, a city kid, discovers the wonders of the first snowfall.9780140501827_p0_v3_s118x184.jpg

Children’s book author Andrea Davis Pickney, who was born in 1963, says that she slept with the book under her pillow.  One reason that she cherished the book is that Peter was black just like her.

In her new book “A Poem for Peter,” Pickney celebrates both the life of Ezra Jack Keats and the book that changed children’s publishing.  Keats was the son of Polish Jewish immigrants who grew up being discriminated against.  The impact of these life experiences is seen in his stories.  When life gets tough, Peter is the  good friend who says let’s go out and play. That is one of the reasons, says Pickney, that “Peter has stood the test of time.  For children, he is a good friend.” 9780425287682_p0_v1_s118x184.jpg


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