Thursday, December 4, 2014

JUST THE FACTS-Nonfiction Book Discussion November Summary

In spite of the cold night, eleven people turned out for the book discussion last night.  Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.
          Our book last night was Catastrophe 1914: Europe goes to war by Max Hastings.  The Great War, or World War I, was the most devastating and costly conflict endured up to that time.  Millions died from wounds and disease.  Millions more were maimed.  Three empires collapsed.  The map was redrawn with many new nations and old Europe disappeared, never to return.  The book deals with the first year of the war.  The nations involved were entangled by alliances and secret accords and a single incident, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, was enough to set the continent ablaze.  But the nations and people involved did not expect the horrors that were set loose.  They expected a short, bloodless conflict that would end in a few months, correct some borders, add some territory, gain some glory and let Europe return to normalcy.  Instead, they received four years of trench warfare, stalemate, devastation, disease and endless suffering.  Our conversation was wide ranging and interesting, covering the division between politics and the military establishment, diplomacy versus combat, the nature and evolution of trench warfare, the NATO alliance, ISIS, Putin and Russia, the chances of another world war occurring and much more.  It was an enjoyable evening. 

          Our next meeting will be Thursday, December 18, 2014.  The book to be discussed, The Telling Room: a tale of love, betrayal, revenge and the world’s greatest piece of cheese by Michael Paterniti, is available at the Circulation Desk.  All are welcome.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

JUST THE FACTS: Book Discussion Recap from September 18

            Nine people braved the impending autumn chill to attend the book discussion last night. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

            Our book last night was Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation by Robert Wilson. Mathew Brady did not invent daguerreotypes, ambrotypes or photography, but he did a great deal to make the taking and display of photographs a huge part of American culture. His photographic cartes de visite (visiting cards) became necessary accessories for any cultured lady or gentleman. His portraits of celebrities and politicians became standard decorations for the walls of all but the poorest homes and the Civil War photographs he either took or commissioned have become part of our nation’s history and conscientiousness. His impact on the tradition and story of America was huge. The book is his biography and tells the story of his introduction to photography, his business failures and successes, the perfection of his art and the difficulties of his personal life. Our discussion was wide-ranging and lively, covering photography as both art and history, the Victorian obsession with death and mourning, 3-D printing, the importance of preserving our heritage, both personal and national, the role of the image, both still and moving, in history, and much more. A good time was had by all.

            Our next meeting will be on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm. The book to be discussed, Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson, is available at the Circulation desk. All are welcome.pending autumn chill to attend the book     discussion last night. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014 Hugo Awards

Equoid by Charles Stross
While on assignment at a countryside farm, Agent Bob Howard of "The Laundry" - a secret agency tasked with protecting Britain from occult nightmares - discovers a menace of Lovecraftian proportions.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren – a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

On August 17 at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London, the World Science Fiction Society announced the winners of the 2014 Hugo Awards. The Hugo Awards are one of the most distinguished and celebrated science fiction awards, so be sure to check out the Hugo Awards website for the complete list of winners.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Few More Adult Summer Reading Book Reviews

Title: Bittersweet
Author: Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Review: Loved this book!  Couldn't put it down.  A story about the rich, dysfunctional Winslow family through the eyes of an outsider.  Kept me guessing 'til the end.
Rating: 5
Title: The Boys in the Boat
Author: Daniel James Brown
Review: This was the most moving book I have read in quite a while.  It follows a University of Washington rowing crew from their early life to winning the 1936 Olympics and much more... Fantastic!
Rating: 5
Title: Invisible City
Author: Julia Dahl
Review: A mystery -- but more about questions regarding parental relationships.  Murders thrown in too!
Rating: 5
Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Review: Touching story about how two people from totally different worlds can become friends in the strangest of circumstances.  Must Read!!
Rating: 4
Title: One Summer: America, 1927
Author: Bill Bryson
Review: Bill Bryson goes through all the amazing things that happened in 1927 - Lindbergh's flight, Mississippi River flooding, Babe Ruth's 60 home run season, opening of Holland Tunnel, Al Capone reign in Chicago, coming of the Great Depression, etc.  Excellent!
Rating: 5
Title: Unbroken
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Review: One of the best books I ever read... Amazing true story about a true hero!
Rating: 5 (5++ stars)
Title: What She Left Behind
Author: Ellen Marie Wiseman
Review: Great book!  Kept your attention between the two stories of women and dealing with the lives they have.
Rating: 5
Title: The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles
Author: Katherine Pancol
Review: I was disappointed when this book ended - I wanted more!! A delightful tale with wonderful characters.
Rating: 5

Monday, August 25, 2014

And the Winners Are...

This year 256 members read a record 1,065 books for the Adult Summer Reading Club (June 23 - August 15).
The most popular fiction titles were: The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (“interesting to learn about the trains which carried orphans to the Midwest for decades”), Defending Jacob by William Landay (“serious questions pull at the Landay  family”), The Fault in OurStars by John Green (“need tissues”), Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (“touching story…must read!”), The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (“outstanding!”), and Invisible by James Patterson (‘suspenseful”).
Nonfiction starred reviews were Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (“one of best books I ever read!”) and  One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (“excellent”).

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from August 21

The attendance at the last book discussion was five people, but the amount of conversation made it seem as if twice that number was there. Many thanks, as always, for their presence.

Our book last night was Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland boys and the dawn of a new America by Gilbert King. The book is about a criminal case in Groveland, Florida in 1949 where a young white woman accused four young black men of rape. They were convicted and sentenced to death or life imprisonment. The case was shoddy, the defendants were tortured to obtain their confessions and the jury, the judge, the witnesses, the prosecuting attorney and the police were all white. The sheriff in the case, Willis V. McCall, was as vile as any caricature of a white, southern bigot imaginable. At this point, Thurgood Marshall and the N.A.A.C.P. became involved. The book reads like a John Grisham legal thriller and describes not just Marshall’s efforts to save the Groveland boys’ lives, but his attempts to overthrow the Jim Crow system of justice and to achieve equal rights throughout the United States. With the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, the book is especially pertinent.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday, September 18, 2014. The book to be discussed, Mathew Brady: portrait of a nation by Robert Wilson, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Adult Summer Reading Club Review: California

Title: California
Author: Edan Lepucki
Review: A grim look at a future society after all the bad things we fear have happened, like global warming, energy crisis, overpopulation, food shortages, etc. The people form new societies, but still with problems. Some interesting concepts.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Adult Summer Reading Club Review: Born Standing Up

Title: Born Standing Up
Author: Steve Martin
Review: After 'reading' Billy Crystal's audiobook, thought this one would be another laugh-fest. Not quite the case since Steve and Billy are two different types of comedians. Some similarities of their lives can be seen but this book was a more serious reflection on a life of comedy. Being a Steve Martin fan, anyone remember, "let's get small?" I enjoyed it but maybe not for everyone.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Adult Summer Reading Club Review: The Light Between Oceans

Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M.L. Stedman
Review: A lighthouse keeper and his wife discover a baby washed onshore. The moral decisions that the couple make changes many lives. Although it started off slowly, the story was captivating.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Adult Summer Reading Club Review: NYPD Red 2

Title: NYPD Red 2
Author: James Patterson
Review: NYPD Red 2 is quite different from NYPD Red. In this book a lot of time is spent fleshing out partners Kylie and Zach and their respective husband and girlfriend as well as various other partners. Cases overlap one another but the main focus is finding out who the "Hazmat" killer is and why he/she is picking the targets he chooses. Who is this "person"? Is it the mafia boss avenging the murder of his son, an inside job, more than one killer or someone else? Things get somewhat wrapped up at the end but keeps you in suspense about some issues to hopefully come out in the next NYPD book in the series. We hope it will be soon.
Rating: 5 out of 5