Staff Picks

Staff Review Feb 10, 2009

I’ve been tricked! Don’t ask me how I could confuse Jane Green with Jennifer Weiner, but it happened. Jane Green, who wrote Jemima J., an enjoyable chick lit novel about a heavy woman who finds love (or at least gets a date) via the Internet by shaving a few pounds off her picture. It reminded me a lot of Jennifer Weiner, so when I picked The Beach House, I thought I would get something similar.

Staff Review

Invisible Monsters

By Chuck Palahniuk
Rated by Helen H.
Feb 9, 2009

My reaction to Invisible Monsters is much the same as my great Aunt Kack’s to Northern Exposure back in the 80’s. She couldn’t believe what “they” were putting on TV, and I can’t believe what “they” are putting in print.

Staff Review Feb 4, 2009

In a departure from her usual fiction and mystery books, Paretsky turns her pen to her childhood and the significant events that shaped her writing. It’s fascinating stuff. Her eccentric parents moved their family to a secluded part of Lawrence, Kansas and raised her conservatively, keeping her at home to take care of household tasks. Her brother had taught her to read, and she began telling stories from a very young age.

Staff Review Jan 28, 2009

I want to start my reviews and recommendations off with what I think is the most important book regarding comics ever published: Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

Staff Review Jan 28, 2009

Told in drawings, comic book style, this book chronicles the period of Arnoldi’s life between the birth of her daughter and her enrollment in college. Arnoldi’s purpose was simply “to help single moms feel worthy to pursue their rights to an equal access education and provide them with the information to do that.” What I appreciate about the book, however, is that is shows a recipient of public assistance using that assistance to make a better life for herself and her child.

Staff Review Jan 28, 2009

Think you aren’t smart enough to read a book about black holes? Think again. After astronomers pick up a faint radio signal, they send a starship out to find its source. Because it will take five generations to complete the mission, Icarus was born on the Proxima, and will die on the Proxima. Until one day he ventures out on his own to explore a black hole, with results he didn’t anticipate.

This big board picture book is a great format to tell a story involving a complex subject. Perfect for kids and adults alike.

Staff Review

Secret Origin

Rated by Josh N.
Jan 27, 2009

Hi there! My name is Josh, and I've been reading superhero comics as long as I can remember. Eventually, I wanted to read the stories that influenced superheroes, which led to my discovery of pulp magazines and other thrilling adventure stories. I began reading about characters like Doc Savage, the Shadow, the Scarlet Pimpernel and Captain Future. I began reading writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, E.E. "Doc" Smith and H.P. Lovecraft.

Staff Review Jan 26, 2009

Despite setbacks of his own making, Ralph Chang is ultimately successful in achieving his goal of a PhD in engineering. He marries Helen, a woman his family would have approved of, and despite some odd ideas about love and marriage, starts a family. He, Helen, and his sister Theresa all live quite happily, surrounded by "typical Americans". Until American-born Chinese Grover enters the picture. With Grover comes prosperity and happy times, but also imbalance and confusion.

Staff Review Jan 21, 2009

In this remarkable story, Dempsey takes birdwatching (which, in his words, serves the social use of “keeping those nerdy kids who have no chance of ever making a real friend out of already overcrowded bars”) and makes it cool. While I probably won’t immediately invest in a pair of binoculars, Dempsey has effectively instilled an appreciation of a pastime to which I had never given a single, solitary thought. On the one hand, the sub-title of this book pretty much sums it up. But on the other, it says nothing.

Staff Review Jan 13, 2009

When Amanda, an up and coming yogini and Idiot guide writer, is sent to India by her publisher to study enlightenment and how to get it, it’s like a dream come true. But after chasing enlightenment from Ashram to Ashram, guru to guru, Amanda wonders if “enlightenment [is] just the booby prize, the thing you went after when what you really wanted didn’t work out.”