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Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Canada
by Richard Ford

Library Journal Since winning the Pulitzer Prize for his 1995 novel, Independence Day, Ford has cultivated a reputation for writing lucid and compelling prose. Here, he lives up to that reputation. The story unfolds around 15-year-old Dell Parsons, whose world collapses when his parents are jailed for a bank robbery, his twin sister flees, and he is transported across the border by a family friend to an obscure town in Canada. With detailed descriptions of place, Ford connects Dell's feelings of abandonment with the equally desolate setting of a remote Canadian landscape. The novel is pervaded by a profound sense of loss-of connectedness, of familiarity, of family-set against a profound sense of discovery. By piecing together the random events in his life, Dell transcends the borders within himself to find a philosophy of life that is both fluid and cohesive. VERDICT Segmented into three parts, the narrative slowly builds into a gripping commentary on life's biggest question: Why are we here? Ford's latest work successfully expands our understanding of and sympathy for humankind.-Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly The first novel in six years from Pulitzer Prize winner (for Independence Day) Ford is a tragic rural farrago composed of two awkwardly joined halves. In the late 1950s, in Great Falls, Mont., teenage twins Dell and Berner Parson have different concerns: Berner's is whether to run away with her boyfriend; Dell's is chess and beekeeping. Their comically mismatched parents-rakish, smalltime schemer Bev and brooding, Jewish Neeva-have problems beyond a joyless union. Bev's stolen beef scheme goes awry, leaving him owing his Cree Indian accomplices. In desperation he robs a bank, roping his wife into the crime, and Dell, peering back much later, chronicles every aspect of the intricate but misguided plan, which left his parent incarcerated and he and Berner alone. Berner runs away, and Dell ends up in the care of a shady family friend at a hunting lodge in Canada, living an even more barren and lonely existence than he had in Great Falls. The book's first half has the makings of a succinct rural tragedy, but Dell's inquisition of the past is so deliberate that it eventually moves from poignant to played out. The Canadian section has a mythic strangeness, but adds little, as Dell remains a passive witness to the foolhardy actions of adults. A book from Ford is always an event and his prose is assured and textured, but the whole is not heavily significant. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list After 15-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank and are arrested, the trajectory of his life is forever altered. He and his twin sister, Berner, are left to forge their own futures while still reeling from the shock of their parents' desperate act. Berner, burning with resentment, takes off for the West Coast, while a family friend makes arrangements for Dell to hide in Canada. But what Dell discovers in Canada, while in the employ of a mysterious Harvard-educated American with a violent streak, is to take nothing for granted, for every pillar of the belief the world rests on may or may not be about to explode. Why Dell not only survives his traumatic adolescence but manages to thrive, while Berner, seemingly more worldly, succumbs to drink and a fractured existence is just one of the many questions Ford posits. In subdued, even flat, prose, Ford lays out the central mysteries of Dell's young life, and although the narrative voice here is neither as compelling nor as rich as that found in Ford's great Bascombe trilogy, devoted Ford fans will find that it resonates well beyond the page. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This highly anticipated novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ford, his first in six years, will have a 200,000-copy first printing backed by a 15-city author tour.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Since winning the Pulitzer Prize for his 1995 novel, Independence Day, Ford has cultivated a reputation for writing lucid and compelling prose. Here, he lives up to that reputation. The story unfolds around 15-year-old Dell Parsons, whose world collapses when his parents are jailed for a bank robbery, his twin sister flees, and he is transported across the border by a family friend to an obscure town in Canada. With detailed descriptions of place, Ford connects Dell's feelings of abandonment with the equally desolate setting of a remote Canadian landscape. The novel is pervaded by a profound sense of loss-of connectedness, of familiarity, of family-set against a profound sense of discovery. By piecing together the random events in his life, Dell transcends the borders within himself to find a philosophy of life that is both fluid and cohesive. VERDICT Segmented into three parts, the narrative slowly builds into a gripping commentary on life's biggest question: Why are we here? Ford's latest work successfully expands our understanding of and sympathy for humankind.-Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos

Book list Looks like a bummer of a summer for 11-year-old Jack (with a same-name protagonist, it's tempting to assume that at least some of this novel comes from the author's life). After discharging his father's WWII-souvenir Japanese rifle and cutting down his mom's fledgling cornfield, he gets grounded for the rest of his life or the rest of the summer of 1962, whichever comes first. Jack gets brief reprieves to help an old neighbor write obituaries for the falling-like-flies original residents of Norvelt, a dwindling coal-mining town. Jack makes a tremendously entertaining tour guide and foil for the town's eccentric citizens, and his warmhearted but lightly antagonistic relationship with his folks makes for some memorable one-upmanship. Gantos, as always, deliver bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws, though the story gets stuck in neutral for much of the midsection. When things pick up again near the end of the summer, surprise twists and even a quick-dissolve murder mystery arrive to pay off patient readers. Those with a nose for history will be especially pleased.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In 1962, Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be dropping like flies. Prone to nosebleeds at the least bit of excitement (until Miss Volker cauterizes his nose with old veterinarian equipment), Jack is a hapless and endearing narrator. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. The gutsy Miss Volker and her relentless but rebuffed suitor, Mr. Spizz, are comedic characters central to the zany, episodic plot, which contains unsubtle descriptions of mortuary science. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor. Jack's absorption with history of any kind makes for refreshing asides about John F. Kennedy's rescue of PT-109 during World War II, King Richard II, Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, and more. A fast-paced and witty read.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Jackaby
by R William Ritter

Publishers Weekly Toss together an alternate 19th-century New England city, a strong tradition of Sherlockian pastiche, and one seriously ugly hat, and this lighthearted and assured debut emerges, all action and quirk. In the best Doyle tradition, the first-person narrator is pragmatic yet naive Abigail Rook, native of Britain and seeker of adventure. Thwarted in Ukraine, she catches ship for the U.S. and lands in New Fiddleham, penniless and with few employable skills. This matters not to R.F. Jackaby, the peculiar stranger with the awful hat, who is more interested in the kobold (household spirit) Abigail has unknowingly picked up on her travels. Jackaby is a detective in need of an unflappable assistant-literally, as his last one "is temporarily waterfowl." Abigail's keen eye for detail and complete ignorance of the paranormal make her observations invaluable to him, and she's soon caught up in the eccentric mayhem that is Jackaby's workaday world. Ritter is also capable of tenderness and pathos, as his description of a suffering banshee demonstrates, leaving room for development in any future cases Abigail may chronicle. Ages 12-up. Agent: Lucy Carson, Friedrich Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Fans of Jonathan Stroud's The Screaming StaircaseĆ(Disne-Hyperion, 2013) will appreciate Ritter's initial foray into the realm of supernatural. When Abigail Rook abandons university, and her parents' hopes, she arrives at the fictional New England town of New Fiddleham. There, she promptly meets R. F. Jackaby, a paranormal detective, and is flung into the investigation of a serial killer suspected of being nonhuman.ĆWhere Ritter excels is in the fast and furious plotline-events unfold rapidly while satisfying tastes for mystery and a small amount of gore. Unfortunately, so much attention is paid to the unfolding circumstances that the two main characters remain mysteries themselves. While readers know Abigail is fleeing the expectations society and her parents have placed on her, little is done to explain why. The protagonist is also a mystery-he just appears, as if a ghost himself, with much fanfare but scant backstory. Ultimately, however, avid lovers of fantasy will enjoy this quick read.-Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog A Visit from the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan

Book list *Starred Review* Egan is a writer of cunning subtlety, embedding within the risky endeavors of seductively complicated characters a curious bending of time and escalation of technology's covert impact. Following her diabolically clever The Keep (2006), Egan tracks the members of a San Francisco punk band and their hangers-on over the decades as they wander out into the wider, bewildering world. Kleptomaniac Sasha survives the underworld of Naples, Italy. Her boss, New York music producer Bennie Salazar, is miserable in the suburbs, where his tattooed wife, Stephanie, sneaks off to play tennis with Republicans. Obese former rock-star Bosco wants Stephanie to help him with a Suicide Tour, while her all-powerful publicist boss eventually falls so low she takes a job rehabilitating the public image of a genocidal dictator. These are just a few of the faltering searchers in Egan's hilarious, melancholy, enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a novel. As episodes surge forward and back in time, from the spitting aggression of a late-1970s punk-rock club to the obedient, socially networked herd gathered at the Footprint, Manhattan's 9/11 site 20 years after the attack, Egan evinces an acute sensitivity to the black holes of shame and despair and to the remote-control power of the gadgets that are reordering our world.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Readers will be pleased to discover that the star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos that helped shoot Egan to the top of the genre-bending new school is alive in well in this graceful yet wild novel. We begin in contemporaryish New York with kleptomaniac Sasha and her boss, rising music producer Bennie Salazar, before flashing back, with Bennie, to the glory days of Bay Area punk rock, and eventually forward, with Sasha, to a settled life. By then, Egan has accrued tertiary characters, like Scotty Hausmann, Bennie's one-time bandmate who all but dropped out of society, and Alex, who goes on a date with Sasha and later witnesses the future of the music industry. Egan's overarching concerns are about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, and lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn. Or as one character asks, "How did I go from being a rock star to being a fat fuck no one cares about?" Egan answers the question elegantly, though not straight on, as this powerful novel chronicles how and why we change, even as the song stays the same. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Time changes both everything and nothing in this novel about former punk rocker-turned-music executive Bennie Salazar and Sasha, his indispensable secretary with an unhappy past. A host of characters from San Francisco's 1970s music scene collide in ways that are hard to summarize, with peripheral characters in one chapter more fully developed in others. These well-defined characters and the engaging narrative are hallmarks of Egan's earlier fiction, which include Look at Me, a National Book Award finalist, and the best-selling The Keep. Here, we learn that power is transient, authenticity is not all it's cracked up to be, and friendships are often fragile, but the connections among people matter terribly. Often, we survive the self-destructive tendencies of youth only to realize that we've just exchanged one set of problems for another. Verdict In the end, this novel does offer hope, but it is the grubby kind that keeps you going once you've been kicked to the curb. Readers will enjoy seeing the disparate elements of this novel come full circle. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/10.]-Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ., Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog A question of honor
by Charles Todd

Library Journal When Bess learns that an earlier crime committed in India involves her father, she must grapple with disturbing truths. Number five in this series (after the award-winning An Unmarked Grave) for the mother/son writing duo. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Bestseller Todd (the pseudonym of a mother-and-son writing team) once again demonstrates his talent at depicting the horrors of war in his excellent fifth mystery featuring English nurse Bess Crawford (after 2012's An Unmarked Grave). As the carnage of WWI finally nears its end, Bess finds herself investigating murders committed a decade earlier on two different continents. In 1908, Bess was living in India with her parents when a member of her father's regiment, Lt. Thomas Wade, came under suspicion of killing his parents. But before he could be apprehended, Wade vanished near the Khyber Pass. Although no body was recovered, he was presumed dead. While Bess is serving in France in 1918, the last words of a dying soldier persuade her that Wade might have survived. Her innate curiosity and knowledge of how traumatizing the scandal was to her father lead her to again play sleuth. In the process, she also examines the triple murder of an entire family that Wade may have committed in England before leaving for India. The extremely clever plot builds to a satisfying resolution. Agent: Jane Chelius, Jane Chelius Literary Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list A battlefield nurse familiar with the horrors of trench warfare, Sister Bess Crawford is tirelessly competent, stubborn, and endlessly in motion, though perpetually exhausted. Lieutenant Wade, previously with Bess' father's regiment, reputedly killed five civilians in India and two in England and was presumed killed while attempting to flee. Wade was therefore never brought to justice, casting a pall over regimental honor. Now, years later, Bess bumps into him on the battlefield before he disappears again, and in her moral indignation she sets off in search of an explanation. While on leave, Bess takes shameless advantage of her friend Simon, forcing him to drive her around as she vets shifty and suspicious characters connected to Wade's childhood and leaves a trail of deadly consequences in her wake. Despite this flitting about, suspense is lacking in this heavily interpretive fifth installment in the series, though series fans will enjoy another adventure of the intrepid and endlessly curious Bess a heroine whose intuition rivals tht of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs but whose spunk doesn't quite match that of Anne Perry's Hester Latterly.--Baker, Jen Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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