Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

July 15, 2013

The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds

The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds
by Zickefoose, Julie
598.07234 ZIC

Bird lovers will be enamored with this journal-style memoir written by Bird Watchers Digest author Julie Zickefoose. Her love of birds shows through the stories told of birds she and her husband have rescued and rehabilitated over many years. Julie has also added her sketches and watercolors to nearly every page giving the book added personality.

The first story is told of a bluebird that her husband rescues from the clutches of a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Julie examines the bird to make sure he doesn’t need any medical attention. Eventually she names the bluebird Mr. Troyer. His wing is a little damaged but not enough to cause a flying issue. Much to Julie’s delight he returns every year to mate and live in the bluebird boxes in their yard. Julie tells that over the years she has learned that although a species of bird may have common traits and habits each bird has an individual personality.

This book was a joy to read especially since I am a bird enthusiast myself. This is one I will purchase and read over and over again.

                                                       — Recommended by Kris Gould, Nora Library


July 8, 2013

Perfect Peace

Perfect Peace
by Black, Daniel

First, imagine that you could have anything you wanted in the entire world. Now, think about exactly what you would do to get it. Would you do anything, and I do mean anything to get? Suppose what you really wanted most in the world was a baby. But not just any baby. You want a very special female child who hangs the moon. One that you can dress in ribbons and tutus – and one who plays with dolls and dreams that she is a pretty princess…

Well, you can have that pretty little girl if you want her bad enough. You can have that living doll if you wish for it hard enough. That’s exactly what Emma Jean Peace did in the novel Perfect Peace, by Daniel Black.

Emma Jean wanted a baby girl so bad, that after birthing 6 sons in as many years, she finally birthed a seventh child, whom she named Perfect. The twist to this novel is that Perfect , although made to be the perfect girl, isn’t a girl at all. In fact, Perfect was actually born a boy. Throughout the novel, Black spins a story of how Emma Jean is able to convince her husband, her children, her town, and even Perfect Peace herself that Perfect is a girl. The novel also tells Perfect’s story. It tells of her warm and loving early life, her discovery of her adolescent self and the turbulent truth it brings; finally ending with Perfect’s decision to choose her own identity.

                                       — Recommended by Rhonda Oliver, Brightwood Library


July 1, 2013

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
by Boo, Katherine
305.5690954 BOO

Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a non-fiction book beautifully written like a novel by Pulitzer-winning newspaper journalist Katherine Boo. She spent three years interviewing and consulting with the poor inhabitants of an under-city slum, “Annawadi”, at the edge of Mumbai’s new, modern, and opulent airport.

Many of the inhabitants make a living picking up the airport’s garbage and garbage floating in a large polluted lake left by the affluent tourists. They are the poorest of the poor of India.

The book details the abject poverty, the absolute political corruption, along with the tireless efforts of the people of Annawadi. Abdul, a Muslim teenager, along with other boys, scavenges for saleable garbage. Some boys die or are murdered. A teenage girl, Meena, eats rat poison rather than become married to a poor villager.

Abdul is falsely charged with causing a one-legged prostitute, Fatima, to set herself on fire. The corruption and brutality of the police, the judicial system, and the politicians is rampant. His sister and father are also charged and finally exonerated at the end of the book. His fate remains undetermined.

Other inhabitants are Asha who uses the corrupt political system to improve her status and that of her daughter who wishes to be Annawadi’s first college graduate.

The title of the book comes from a brightly-colored ad for floor tiles across a wall dividing Annawadi from the view of travelers leaving the airport. Behind the Beautiful Forevers gives us a sad, poignant look at what is a way of life for millions of poor. I am both sad and grateful for having read this book and recommend it to anyone who doesn’t appreciate what we have in these United States.

This book is also available as a downloadable ebook, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD and in large print.  

                                     — Recommended by Pamela Gullion, Fountain Square Library, where this book will be discussed on Thursday, July 11th at 1:30 p.m. 


June 24, 2013

Into the Darkest Corner

Into the Darkest Corner
by Haynes, Elizabeth

What young woman doesn’t dream of Mr. Wonderful walking into her life, sweeping her off her feet, riding off into the sunset with her? So when Lee Brightman comes into Cathy Bailey’s life, she’s rightfully smitten. After all, he’s gorgeous and obviously equally taken with her. At first it’s all wonderful and Cathy thinks she’s being too picky, but then, as Lee becomes more and more controlling and abusive, Cathy realizes that no, it’s not her, it’s him. Fast forward four years and Lee is in jail and Cathy is endlessly checking doors and windows, obsessively and compulsively, trying to control her life and her fears. The author skillfully alternates between the two time periods, building suspense, and we know it’s coming, that Lee will get out of jail, that he will come for her, and we’re waiting for it in much the same way as Cathy waited, terrified, for Lee’s next attack. This story is much more than a thriller; it is a masterful analysis of how abuse begins subtly and embeds its tentacles so deeply into a woman’s psyche, that before she realizes what’s happened, she’s trapped, without resources, with no escape, and no one to hear her cries for help.

                                     — Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library


June 17, 2013

Milk Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found

Milk Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found
by Keaggy, Bill
818.6 KEA

Do you use lists for your grocery shopping? Then you most certainly lose one occasionally and never give it a thought. After years of “hunting and gathering” those lists from abandoned shopping carts and parking lots, Bill Keaggy has put together an entertaining collection of them, reproduced on every page for you to read and laugh at, and repeat. It’s a deliciously amusing (and yes--voyeuristic), look at little private notes meant only for the person who writes them, their shorthand, doodles and smears all part of the fun. In addition to simply what people buy, the lists also say a lot about the state of people’s spelling and penmanship, with items like mayonnaise, bananas and Febreze topping the fail list.

Keaggy compiled the lists based on several themes and organized them into 20 chapters. These include “Just Plain Funny,” “Sad Grocery Lists,” (which are pretty funny), and “Eating Wrong.” The chapter “All-American Lists” features a list from each of the 50 states, about half gleaned through Keaggy’s web site Indiana’s list is lol funny and seems to support the health stats we read about for our state. Hint: Pop Tarts, chips and donuts.

On every page there’s an interesting fact or statistic about something related to groceries. For example, Vernors Ginger Ale apparently was the first soda pop made in the U.S.--in Detroit, Michigan in 1866. But it’s Keaggy’s often snarky critiques of every list that make this collection even more enjoyable. In the chapter on sad grocery lists, a note reads: “silver polish, bread, grape juice, table cloth.” Simple enough. But take a look at the back of the note and it gets interesting: “No charge from funeral home. $345 – charge for opening grave.” Keaggy has a field day. “Oh my God! It’s a do-over! They have to open the grave and have another wake for the do-over.”

If you have a little extra time on your hands, this book is a fun way to spend it. And if you want to start your own compendium, (ahem, Ann), it’s a nice reference.

Milk Eggs Vodka is also available as a downloadable e-book.

                                                              — Recommended by Coral Mackenzie-Danforth, Lawrence Library