Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!
June 16, 2014
Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives
by Caddick-Adams, Peter
Britain’s Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and Germany’s Erwin Rommel fought each other during World War II in France 1940, North Africa 1942-43, and France 1944. Each cultivated good press relations, and was popular in his own country, but they had quite different reputations. “Monty” was meticulous in preparation and deliberate in execution, while Rommel was a fast-moving, risk-taking improviser. These different approaches to combat reflected their experiences a generation earlier when they fought (heroically) as junior officers in the First World War.
Monty’s WWI unit was overrun and dispersed amid great confusion, requiring exhaustive marching with little food or water, fueling his later obsession with physical fitness, careful planning, and thorough briefing of all subordinates. Rommel’s successes as a young officer all derived from flexible thinking and risky exploitation of enemy weaknesses. Both officers spent the inter-war years thinking, training, teaching, writing, and becoming outstanding practitioners of their craft.
--Recommended by Melinda Mullican, Wayne Library
June 9, 2014
by Katz, John
First, let me say that I am not a fan of short stories. But I am a fan of dogs and the author Jon Katz. No one captures the human/ animal bond quite like he does. So when I saw his new title “Dancing Dogs” I picked it up. There are sixteen delightful stories in the book. Among the dogs we meet are Pearl, who keeps an elderly woman company, Gus, who helps a widower through a rough patch, Dolly, the dog who kept men away, and Ernie, the psychic dog. I think my favorite story was “Luther and Minnie in Heaven” in which we are treated to a description of dog heaven which is quite disgusting. But I suspect these things really would be heaven to our four-legged friends! If you are looking for an engaging little book, this is it. And by the way, I found out that short stories aren’t so bad after all.
--Recommended by Brenda Grable, Pike Library
June 2, 2014
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments
by Wallace, David Foster
The late David Foster Wallace is probably best known for his mammoth magnum opus Infinite Jest. But, prior to that novel’s release, Wallace had made a name for himself in part through several well-received pieces in magazines such as Harper’s, Premier, and Esquire. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again is a collection of many of those articles.
The articles cover topics such as tennis, the films of director David Lynch, the impact of television on fiction writing, the Illinois State Fair, and the experience of taking a luxury cruise.
However, the themes of these essays explore far more than their premises would initially suggest. The titular essay, for example, covers the week Wallace spent on a cruise ship visiting the Caribbean. In it Wallace fights his agoraphobic tendencies, which would have him stay cooped up in his cabin, in order to mingle with his shipmates and attempt to enjoy the cruise experience. During his cruise, Wallace competes in a ship-wide ping-pong tournament (of sorts), develops a crush on his cabin attendant, and enters into a hostile relationship with the ship’s hotel manager, who he refers to as “Mr. Dermatitis.” Somewhat unexpectedly, Wallace uses these experiences to examine ideas about consumerism, the nature of luxury, and the roots of despair in U.S. culture. But it is Wallace’s unique blend of intellect and self-deprecating humor that make this, and many of the essays in this collection, so enjoyable to read, no matter how deep the subject matter gets.
--Recommended by Adam Todd, Warren Library
May 26, 2014
by Butcher, Jim
Cursor’s Fury is the third book in the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher.
In the series, in Alera, magic takes the form of elemental furies. The furies inhabit the fire, water, rocks, and trees. Wild furies inhabit the forests and mountains or dance in storms. Tame furies may light lamps or empower individuals with powers of flight, healing or great strength. The strongest furies are under the control of the high lords and high ladies of Alera, and the strongest furies are those of First Lord. Even simple farmers have some skill with furies; however, in all of Alera, only Tavi has no furies at all.
Even without a fury, Tavi has proven a resourceful servant of the crown. At the time of the second battle of Calderon, Tavi gained the friendship of Kitai and helped win the alliance with her people, the mysterious Marat. While training at the capital, Tavi helped thwart an attack by the monstrous Canim and the alien Vord. He completed his training as a cursor -- an agent of the crown -- and is now preparing for the next step in his training: service in the Legion.
As Cursor’s Fury begins, the hostilities with the Canim are unresolved. Two of the powerful high lords are preparing for civil war. War is looming for Alera, and in this book, there are battles. The action in Cursor’s Fury is good, and the battles are some of the best in the entire series. The unusual magic system combined with the Roman tactics make for great military fantasy.
--Recommended by Keith Dinnage, Garfield Park Library
May 19, 2014
by Hale, Shannon
Austenland by Shannon Hale is a delightful story of a young woman’s quest to rid herself of her Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy obsessions that are ruining her love life. The heroine, Jane, is given a two-week trip to Austenland, a vacation destination where you can live like Regency era Jane Austen characters. Tired of failed relationships and too high expectations of men, Jane goes to cleanse her palette of her Mr. Darcy fantasies in hopes that she can find true love and move on with her life. Interspersed between Jane’s curious adventures in Austenland, readers learn about Jane’s past failed romantic relationships from early childhood crushes to her unsuccessful more recent affairs. Written with quick and witty prose, Austenland is a light and short read. Will Jane get her happy ending? Is Mr. Darcy really something Jane wants? Through her interactions with other vacationers and actors at Austenland, Jane finds what she really wants, which may not be what she thought.
If you enjoy this quick read, Austenland was made into a feature film starring Keri Russell of TV’s Felicity fame. Check out the movie once you’ve read the book and decide which you like better!
--Recommended by Meredith Albertin, Lawrence Library