Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: The Giver

Jonas's society has eliminated pain, fear, hunger, war, hatred and the "burden" of choice. His career as "Receiver of Memories" is chosen for him at age 12, and he soon learns that in order to live in a society free from the bad, good was eliminated in the process. Emotions are stifled; love is forbidden, and even the ability to perceive color has been genetically wiped from the people. The "Receiver of Memories" keeps the memories of all of these emotions and details about the past. Once Jonas is given these memories, he is awakened to the realization that life void of love and even pain is not a meaningful life at all. Jonas makes efforts to change the society for the better, meeting trouble along the way.

I love The Giver. I would teach it in a classroom because not only is it a great lead-in to other books such as 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and more, but it brings up so many ideas about humanity. This simple book is very powerful, and is a great introduction to dystopian literature. It also raises the question of what defines humanity and causes the reader to reflect on the social structures we create. - Becca (Sunset)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: The Deepest Secret

I think the best word to describe The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley is intense. The book takes place over a span of a couple of weeks and focuses on the lives of the families on a cul-de-sac. The main characters are a family whose son, Tyler, has XP, a disease that makes him very sensitive to ultra-violet light.

We learn about Tyler’s neighbors in his observations when he goes out at night (the only time he can go outside without being exposed to UV light) and peeks through their windows and takes pictures. We learn things we might not necessarily know because they are happening behind closed doors. Then one of the neighbor’s daughters is killed in a hit and run accident and not only does it turn life in the cul-de-sac upside down, but also shakes up Tyler’s home life as well.

Because the story focuses on that short time frame, the author is very detailed. At times I was an invisible observer in the character’s lives. This was not a light story, but one that had me thinking about the characters, their lives, and their choices even after I put the book down. - Rosanna (Downtown)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth is a writer living in a small coastal town in Canada, where she struggles to work on her new book and overcome her feelings of discomfort in the wilderness since moving from New York. One day while walking the beach she finds a plastic bag containing a lunch box, possibly refuse washed up from Japan following the recent devastating tsunami. Inside the lunch box is a diary, a collection of letters Ruth can't decipher, an old watch - and a mystery that begins to challenge her sense of self and sanity.

A Tale for the Time Being is a fascinating novel that blends Ruth's story with that of Nao, the Japanese teenager who wrote the diary. As Nao describes her chaotic family life, the brutal bullying she endures at school, and the comfort she finds in the guidance of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun, Ruth desperately searches the internet trying to find some corroboration for Nao's story and learn what happened next. Is the girl alive, or did she commit suicide? Was her family killed in the tsunami? Was her great-grandmother's coastal temple spared by the storm? Has any of it happened at all, or has Ruth's reading of the story changed it in some way? Sometimes suspenseful, sometimes mind-bending, A Tale for the Time Being is ultimately a powerful message about how to live your life in the time you have. - Michelle (Sunset)

Friday, March 28, 2014

The April LibraryReads List!

The latest batch of librarian favorites are here! We've included descriptions* below and you can head to the LibraryReads website to see brief reviews submitted by librarians (including one of our own Chandler librarians!). We'd love to hear what you think about the titles, let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!

 Top 10 Books Loved by Librarians in April
Top 10 Books Loved by Librarians in April

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry:A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin 
Published: April 1, 2014

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island--from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, though large in weight--an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming.

Frog Music: A Novel by Emma Donoghue 
Published: April 1, 2014

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice--if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

And the Dark Sacred Night: A Novel by Julia Glass 
Published: April 1, 2014

Kit Noonan's life is stalled: unemployed, twins to support, a mortgage to pay--and a frustrated wife, who is certain that, more than anything else, Kit needs to solve the mystery of his father's identity. He begins with a visit to his former stepfather, Jasper, a take-no-prisoners Vermont outdoors-man. But it is another person who has kept the secret: Lucinda Burns, wife of a revered senior statesman and mother of Malachy. She and her husband are the only ones who know the full story: of an accident whose repercussions spread even further when Jasper introduces Lucinda to Kit. Immersing readers in a panorama that stretches from Vermont to the tip of Cape Cod, Glass weaves together the lives of Kit, Jasper, Lucinda and, ultimately, Fenno McLeod, the beloved protagonist of Three Junes (now in his sixties). An unforgettable novel about the youthful choices that steer our destinies, the necessity of forgiveness, and the surprisingly mutable meaning of family

Silence for the Dead: A Novel by Simone St. James 
Published: April 1, 2014

In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House-its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It's known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the samenightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it? Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.

By its Cover: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon 
Published: April 1, 2014

One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem: the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn't exist. As the investigation proceeds, the suspects multiply. And when a seemingly harmless theologian, who had spent years reading at the library turns up brutally murdered, Brunetti must question his expectations about what makes a man innocent, or guilty.

The Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller by Shane Kuhn 
Published: April 8, 2014

John Lago is a very bad guy. But he's the very best at what he does. And what he does is infiltrate top-level companies and assassinate crooked executives while disguised as an intern. Interns are invisible. That's the secret behind HR, Inc., the elite "placement agency" that doubles as a network of assassins for hire who take down high-profile targets that wouldn't be able to remember an intern's name if their lives depended on it. At the ripe old age of almost twenty-five, John Lago is already New York City's most successful hit man. He's also an intern at a prestigious Manhattan law firm, clocking eighty hours a week getting coffee, answering phones, and doing all the grunt work actual employees are too lazy to do. He was hired to assas-sinate one of the firm's heavily guarded partners. His internship provides the perfect cover, enabling him to gather intel and gain access to pull off a clean, untraceable hit. Part confessional, part DIY manual, The Intern's Handbook chronicles John's final assignment, a twisted thrill ride in which he is pitted against the toughest-and sexiest-adversary he's ever faced: Alice, an FBI agent assigned to take down the same law partner he's been assigned to kill.

Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe 
Published: April 22, 2014

In 1982, 20-year-old Nina Stibbe moved to London to work as a nanny to two opinionated and lively young boys. In frequent letters home to her sister, Nina described her trials and triumphs: there's a cat nobody likes, suppertime visits from a famous local playwright, a mysteriously unpaid milk bill, and repeated misadventures parking the family car. Dinner table discussions cover the gamut, from the greats of English literature, to swearing in German, to sexually transmitted diseases. There's no end to what Nina can learn from these boys (rude words) and their broad-minded mother (the who's who of literary London). A charming, hilarious, sweetly inspiring celebration of bad food and good company, Love, Nina makes a young woman's adventures in a new world come alive.

The Axe Factor: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill 
Published: April 15, 2014

Since Jimm Juree moved, under duress, with her family to a rural village on the coast of Southern Thailand, she misses the bright lights of Chiang Mai. Most of all, she’s missed her career as a journalist, which was just getting started. In Chiang Mai, she was covering substantial stories and major crimes. But here in Maprao, Jimm has to scrape assignments from the local online journal, the Chumphon Gazette—and be happy about it when she gets one. This time they are sending her out to interview a local farang (European) writer, a man in his late fifties, originally from England, who writes award-winning crime novels, one Conrad Coralbank. At the same time, several local women have left town without a word to anyone, leaving their possessions behind. These include the local doctor, Dr. Sumlak, who never returned from a conference, and the Thai wife of that farang writer, the aforementioned Conrad Coralbank. All of which looks a little suspicious, especially to Jimm’s grandfather, an ex-cop, who notices Coralbank’s interest in Jimm with a very jaundiced eye. With a major storm headed their way and a potential serial killer on the loose, it looks like Jimm Juree, her eccentric family, and the whole town of Maprao is in for some major changes.

Family Life: A Novel by Akhil Sharma 
Published: April 7, 2014

We meet the Mishra family in Delhi in 1978, where eight-year-old Ajay and his older brother Birju play cricket in the streets, waiting for the day when their plane tickets will arrive and they and their mother can fly across the world and join their father in America. America to the Mishras is, indeed, everything they could have imagined and more --when automatic glass doors open before them, they feel that surely they must have been mistaken for somebody important. Pressing an elevator button and the elevator closing its doors and rising, they have a feeling of power at the fact that the elevator is obeying them. Life is extraordinary until tragedy strikes, leaving one brother severely brain-damaged and the other lost and virtually orphaned in a strange land. Ajay, the family's younger son, prays to a God he envisions as Superman, longing to find his place amid the ruins of his family's new life.Heart-wrenching and darkly funny, Family Life is a universal story of a boy torn between duty and his own survival.

On the Rocks: A Novel by Erin Duffy 
Published: April 22, 2014

Ever since she was a little girl, Abby Wilkes dreamed of her wedding, the day when she'd wear a pretty white dress and look like a princess.... But that was before her life fell apart for the entire world to see. Her longtime boyfriend-turned-fiancé, Ben, unceremoniously dumped her--changing his status to single on Facebook--while she was trying on the most gorgeous Vera Wang dress for the big day. Six months and twenty pounds later, the usual remedies--cupcakes, a freezer stocked with pints of Ben and Jerry's, sweatpants, and a comfy couch--haven't worked their magic. Worried about her best friend, Grace devises the perfect plan to get Abby back on her game. The two of them are going to escape sweltering Boston and its reminders of Ben and head to Newport for the summer. In a quaint rented cottage by the sea, the girls will enjoy cool breezes, cocktails, and crowds of gorgeous men. But no matter which way they turn, Abby and Grace discover that in this era of social media, there is no real escape. As the summer winds down to Labor Day, Abby will make some surprising discoveries--about love, men, friendship . . . and, most important, herself.

Which one will you read first? If you need help placing a hold with your Chandler Public Library card, give us a call at 480-782-2800.

If you'd like more book recommendations, browse our Book Lists page or check out the previous LibraryReads lists.

*Book descriptions from the publisher.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ebook Options -- Axis 360 & OverDrive

You’ve got your Chandler library card. You’ve got your tablet, eReader, or computer. Now you want to check out a few eBooks and you aren’t sure where to start. Below we’re going to tell you about the features of two of our most popular eBook platforms: Axis 360 and OverDrive.

The Basics: 

OverDrive, the host of the Greater Phoenix Digital Library, is a huge collection of eBooks, audio books, and streaming videos shared with several libraries in the Greater Phoenix area. The eBook collection includes a large collection of older books and nonfiction titles mixed in with many new & popular books. Because OverDrive is available to many library users, at times the list of those waiting on titles can be in the hundreds. 

Axis 360 is our newest eBook collection just for Chandler cardholders and we focus on adding newer, popular titles to the collection. While it doesn’t have the same number of older titles as OverDrive, books in this collection tend to have a much shorter wait period. For example, you might wait two months for a title in OverDrive, but only two weeks for the same title in Axis 360.

The Formats:
OverDrive eBooks are available in a variety of formats, including Kindle Book, Adobe EPUB eBook, and OverDrive READ.
  • If you own a basic Kindle, like a Paper White or Keyboard, then OverDrive is the platform for you. OverDrive is the only platform that connects to your Amazon account to deliver books to your Kindle.
  • If you have an Android (Samsung, Nexus, etc) or iOS (iPhone, iPad) tablet or smartphone, you can download the OverDrive app to your device and create an Adobe ID to read books right on your tablet or smartphone.
  • OverDrive READ allows you to read a book within your internet browser on your computer or tablet without downloading any additional apps or software.
  • For those folks with the basic Nook or Kobo eReaders, you can download Adobe Digital Editions to your computer and transfer EPUB eBooks to your device. 
Axis 360 eBooks are available in two primary formats, Blio and EPUB.
  • The Blio format is available on Windows computers and Android & iOS tablets. For this format you will create a Blio account which will allow you to use the cloud to download materials to your device. While the Blio app is not available in the Amazon Appstore for Kindle Fires, there are options available for you to download Blio to your device.
  • The other option is the Axis Reader app from either Google Play or the App Store. With the Axis Reader app, you will need to create an Adobe ID – you can use the same ID you use on the OverDrive app.
  • Just like with OverDrive, those with the basic Nook or Kobo eReaders can download Adobe Digital Editions to your computer and transfer EPUB eBooks to your device.
If you have any questions or need some help with any of our eBook and digital media services, we have drop-in sessions available:
  • Downtown on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2:00-3:30 pm
  • Hamilton on Mondays from 12:00-2:00 pm and on Wednesdays from 3:00-4:00 pm 
You can also check out our eBook Help page for more tips, tricks, and helpful hints.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: I Shall Be Near to You

Winter, 1862: Work on the farm never ends, rumors of war are coming ever nearer, the Union army is recruiting in a nearby town, and Rosetta is getting married. But when her husband enlists, leaving her in his parents' house where she is expected to do ladylike chores rather than the farm work she prefers, and with no defense against the threats of a land-grabbing neighbor, Rosetta decides she can't stay where she is. She cuts her hair, dresses in her husband's old clothes, and follows him into the army disguised as a man.

I Shall Be Near to You is a novel based on hundreds of letters and accounts by soldiers who fought in the Civil War - including over two hundred women who impersonated men to join the fight. With enriching historical details and deceptively simple prose, the story follows Rosetta through her efforts to stay hidden, conflicts with her husband and friends, and to the battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of the war. A page-turning and heartbreaking work of historical fiction. - Michelle (Sunset)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: The Triple Package

In this new year of the horse, the infamous Tiger Mom is back in the cross currents of the national conversation with the release of her latest book, The Triple Package, a collaboration with her husband, Jed Rubenfeld. One could say that Amy Chua is like the Justin Bieber of the book world - one cannot deny that she gets people talking and reacting. At first, I was skeptical about their premise: an inflated and forced argument of the three seemingly contradictory components (superiority, insecurity, and impulse control), which, according to the authors, gives particular ethnic and religious groups the edge in being successful in 21st-century America. They make it plain that the successes they focus on are the tangible kinds (e.g., test scores, income, brand-name universities) and not the more unpredictable and hard won heights of the elusive intangible realms (e.g., artistic breakthroughs, charity, humanitarianism and understanding).

Stretching back to the nineties - the 1790s, that is - and starting with The Autobiography of Ben Franklin, there have been scores of books that address how to rise above the garden variety mediocrity that seemingly surrounds individuals and society. Based on Chua’s previous track record and the first few chapters, I was ready to add this one to the top of the stack of good-to-poor books espousing a certain way or method to both survive and thrive in America. However, as I proceeded further into this book, Chua ambushed me in a way that I became somewhat persuaded by their arguments. Especially resonating were the sections where they were able to convey the underdog power of drive, grit and overachievement, and the pitfalls of complacency and entitlement. In addition, the authors provide a heightened sense of sensitivity to the glorious diversity of America - ranging from the Amish to the most recently arrived Lebanese Americans and Nigerian Americans. While there are sweeping generalizations, oversimplifications, and repetition due to the book’s pop sociology writing style, there are also counterbalancing moments of engagement and insight. Somewhere near the conclusion, I came to the notion that The Triple Package could be traced all the way back to the good ol’ all-American concept of using foreign values and methods to achieve the American Dream. In other words, this book reveals the roots of possible Capitalistic success in this land of parking lots and natural beauty. - Ted (Downtown)