Monthly Archives: December 2007

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Title: Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Author: Bill Willingham and various illustrators

Summary: Fables is a long-running comics series that tells the story of Fabletown and its residents – familiar and beloved fairy tale characters who have been chased out of their legendary worlds by an evil Adversary, and who now live in contemporary New York City. This is a prequel of sorts – describing the backstories of Fables characters.

Snow White seeks assistance from the Arabian fables who have not yet battled the Adversary. When she is informed that she will be killed by the Sultan in the morning, she becomes a sort of Scheherazade - spinning tales each night to save her life and gain the Sultan’s trust. It is these late night stories that make up the bulk of this unforgettable graphic novel.  Here we learn the truth about the seven dwarves, what made the wolf so big and bad, and the tragic story of the frog prince after his supposed happily ever after.

This is an adult story with distinctly mature themes. They are not merely fractured fairy tales - 1001 Nights of Snowfall will haunt you long after this beautifully drawn graphic novel ends.

Who will like this book? Fans of fantasy and alternative fairy tales

If you like this, try this: The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Darkest Evening of the Year

Title:The Darkest Evening of the Year

Author: Dean Koontz

Summary:Dean Koontz makes a frequent use of canines in some of his previous bestsellers such as Seize the Night, Fear Nothing, and Midnight. Here Koontz brings us Nickie, a golden retriever, who has all the attributes of Koontz’s beloved dog, Trixie, who passed away since the publication of this New York Times Best-seller.

Amy Redding, who has established a dog rescue service in California devoted solely to golden retrievers has a secret past. Along with her boyfriend Brian McCarthy, an architect, she rescues a family and their dog, Nickie from an abusive alcoholic. Nickie with some mysterious qualities becomes the alpha dog in Amy’s household. Amy begins to realize that someone is shadowing her movements and Brian begins to receive e-mails from his past. Soon their pasts converge.

This is a fast read and brings an awareness of dog rescue and puppy mills to the reader. Although it doesn’t grab you as fast as other Koontz’ novels, it is still worth a night or two while it tugs at your heart strings following the plight of abused dogs.

Who will like this book? Readers who like thrillers and dog lovers.

If you like this, try this: Marley and Me, for the ultimate “dog fix” and any of Koontz’s previous novels, especially Velocity.

Recommended by: Sandy, Technical Services

The Kid Who Climbed Everest

Title: The Kid Who Climbed Everest

Author: Bear Grylls

Summary: The author of this book, is the subject of the wildly popular Discovery Channel Series entitled “Man vs Wild.” Each week Bear is dropped off by helicopter to a horrifying part of the planet from where he must escape by using his impressive survival skills. Bear spent three years in the British Special Air Service and his latest triumph in May 2007 involved him flying a motorized paraglider over Mount Everest. I find the series really educational and thrilling and somehow satisfying as I watch from my comfortable armchair. Bear is articulate and shares his impressive knowledge of survival skills with the audience in an engaging way.

This book describes Bear’s climb of Mount Everest at the tender age of 23. (Most climbers wait until their thirties to attempt such a feat when they are fully mature in terms of attitude and physiology. ) On May 16, 1998 he became the youngest man and one of only thirty British climbers to summit. He informs the reader about the preparation for such a climb. Bear shares his challenges in funding such an adventure, his extensive training, and the requisite education about the tough environmental and climatological elements as well as the physiological needs of the human body to carry out such a feat.

After reading this book I felt I had a far better understanding of many facets of attempting and succeeding at such a climb. This information did not take away from the mounting excitement as Bear prepares for the ultimate climb. He shares his fears, his awe of the mountain, and his respect for his predecessors and team mates. Altogether an exciting and informative read.

If you like this, try this: Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Outside Magazine articles about individuals who push their limits.

Recommended by: Karen, Deputy Town Librarian

The Diana Chronicles

Title: The Diana Chronicles

Author: Tina Brown

Summary: This book has been out for a while but I knew I was going to save it for holiday time when I could sit back and relish all the lunacy of the Royals. Don’t get me wrong: I consider them part of my extended family, with both my parents being from the British Isles.  As a child, it was not uncommon to witness relatives referring to genealogical charts of the Royals during heated family discussions!

Tina Brown, the former editor of the British magazine Tatler and the American Vanity Fair and The New Yorker has done an admirable job of getting inside the head and heart of the late Princess Diana. This book provides the right balance between Diana the victim of royal cruelty and a Diana with the very early and singular determination to become the bride of the Prince of Wales.

The author manages to provide much historical background about the entanglement  of the Spencer family and the Royals. The inevitability of their continued relations, however troubled, is obvious. Diana is portrayed believably as a person with real strengths and weaknesses. She is just like many of us, and at the same time she is not. She has a palpable empathy for less fortunate people, and uses it to help those people and herself. She has a messy emotional life and ends up in unfulfilling relationships time and time again – which makes the reader feel for her and get annoyed with her.

Regardless of what you think of her life and adventures, she remains a fascination, and this book sheds more light on what made Diana, “Diana.”

Recommended by: Karen, Deputy Town Librarian

Family Acts

Title: Family Acts

Author: Louise Shaffer

Summary: The author, who is an Emmy-Award winning soap actress for Ryan’s Hope and screenwriter, turns her love of the theater inot a delightful novel set in the Old South. Katharine ‘Kate’ Harder, a New York scriptwriter and Miranda ‘Randa’ Jennings, a Hollywood business writer, seem to have little in common, except names from Shakespearean plays and a thespian parent. A letter from a lawyer brings them the news that they have jointly inherited the Venable Opera House in Massonville, Georgia. After traveling to see the crumbling century-old theatre, the two women, with the help of Randa’s precocious 11 year-old daughter, delve into the lives of the owners who struggled to keep the theatre alive.

The story alternates betwen the present and flashbacks to tell a family epic that is rich in its theatrical setting. The ending links this book to Shaffer’s other two novels: The Three Margarets and Ladies of Garrison Gardens.

Who will like this book? Definately a women’s read, especially lovers of the theater and soaps.

If you like this, try this: Shaffer’s previous novels: The Three Margarets and Ladies of Garrison Gardens.

Recommended by: Sandy, Technical Services

The Godmother

Title: The Godmother

Author: Carrie Adams

Summary: Thirty-something Tessa King has seven best friends, four godchildren, and no life of her own. Returning home to London after a five-week vacation (or, escape from her harrassing former boss) she is thrown back into her familar role of drinking buddy/fairy godmother/crisis counselor. But will Tessa ever get over her unrequited love, meet her true Prince Charming and have babies of her own?

While this novel sounds like another carbon copy beach book, the plot takes some unexpected turns and becomes something more substantial that traditional chick lit fare.  Tessa is a well-developed, painfully believable heroine, and her circle of friends and godchildren are well-developed but still familiar characters, each with their own secrets that are revealed over the course of the story. These are the sort of characters that stay with you, and leave you wishing for a sequel!

Who will like this book? People with godchildren, nieces and/or nephews whom they adore, and ‘women who do too much.’

If you like this, try this: Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner, Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Sound of Butterflies

Title: The Sound of Butterflies

Author: Rachael King

Summary: Thomas Edgar, an amateur naturalist, joined an expedition to the rainforests of the Amazon determined to be the first to capture the elusive butterfly he calls “Papilio Sophia.” He returns home several months later a changed man. Having deteriorated both physically and mentally, he is either unwilling or unable to speak. His young wife Sophie sets out trying to solve the mystery of what happened to her husband in a desperate attempt to bring him back to his former self. Slowly, we learn of the atrocities that befell Thomas and his fellow travelers in the Brazilian Amazon, culminating with the traumatic event that renders Thomas speechless.

This wonderful debut novel from New Zealander Rachael King takes us from turn of the century London to the rainforests of Brazil. Through letters, diary entries, and multi-character narration, we experience the social constraints of London, the dark side of the booming rubber industry of the Amazon, and the perils found in the wilds of the rainforest.

Who will like this book?: Historical fiction and adventure readers.

If you like this, try this: The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian

The Lottery

Title: The Lottery

Author: Patricia Wood

Summary: If you are looking for a sure winner, don’t buy a lottery ticket, but check out Patricia Wood’s debut novel. She draws on her own personal experiences with a dad who won the Washington State lottery and a family member who had Down’s syndrome.

Perry L. Crandall, the narrator, has an IQ of 76 but as he says, he is not retarded, just slow.  His wise-cracking grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive. When she dies, leaving him an “orphan” at 31 year-old, that family that had abandoned proceed to swindle him out of his house. Imagine what happens they learn he has won 12 million dollars…You will be charmed by Perry’s sweet and often funny personality, and root for him to outwit his thieving ‘new-found’ family.

Who will like this book? All readers from high school to 100 who love light, feel-good novels.

Recommended by: Sandy, Technical Services