Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Arrivals: Literary and General Fiction

 Looking for your next great book? Try one of these new or upcoming titles selected by the LPLS general fiction committee!

(All descriptions used come from WorldCat or Goodreads.)

Like a Woman by Debra Busman
Like Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, Debra Busman's Like a Woman is a vivid coming-of-age story, revealing the lives of teenage girls on the streets of Los Angeles, trying to hold onto their sense of humanity against a backdrop of racism, poverty, sexism, and violence.

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Anna Benz, an American woman in her thirties, lives in comfort and affluence with
her Swiss banker husband and their three young children in a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. Despite the tranquility and order of her domestic existence, Anna is falling apart. In an effort to restart her life, she turns to Jungian analysis, German language classes, and a series of extramarital affair, whose consequences she cannot foretell.

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham
Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace. Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.


Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

Set in North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains, eighteen-year-old Jacob McNeely is torn between appeasing his meth-dealing kingpin father and leaving the mountains forever with the girl he loves.

Know Your Beholder by Adam Rapp
As winter deepens in snowbound Pollard, Illinois, thirty-something Francis Falbo is holed up in his attic apartment, recovering from a series of traumas: his mother's death, his beloved wife's desertion, and his once-ascendant rock band's irreconcilable break-up. Francis hasn't shaved in months, hasn't so much as changed out of his bathrobe-"the uniform of a Life in Default"-for nine days. Other than the agoraphobia that continues to hold him hostage, all he has left is his childhood home, whose remaining rooms he rents to a cast of eccentric tenants, including a pair of former circus performers whose daughter has gone missing. The tight-knit community has already survived a blizzard, but there is more danger in store for the citizens of Pollard before summer arrives. Francis is himself caught up in these troubles as he becomes increasingly entangled in the affairs of others, with results that are by turns disastrous, hysterical, and ultimately healing.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April is Autism Awareness Month!



Autism Awareness is about providing the highest quality of life to those with ASD. This year the Autism Society is expanding its focus to the rest of us-acceptance in schools and communities with the result of true appreciation of unique qualities we all possess. The month of April provides each of us an opportunity to promote autism awareness in our communities, acceptance of those with ASD, and draw attention to those diagnosed each year.

 In honor of that, we have compiled a list of books which features someone with ASD, or someone close to them has ASD. The books range from middle grade reading level to adult fiction. We hope this provides some information that can benefit everyone in the community while enjoying a good book.

  The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time by Mark Haddon


 Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favorite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally?

Remember Dippy by Shirley Reva Vernick
Johnny's plans fly out the window when he finds out his single mother is leaving town for the summer. She has a breakthrough job in upstate New York. He can live with his Aunt Collette but only on the condition that he "help out with" his autistic older cousin, Remember. Yup, you heard it right: Remember Dippy. That's his cousin's name—and Remember is a gawky awkward kid with some pretty strange habits, like repeating back almost everything Johnny says and spending hours glued to the weather channel. Johnny's premonitions of disaster appear at first to come to cringe worthy fruition, but when the two boys save a bully from drowning, salvage the pizzeria guy's romance, and share girl troubles, Johnny ends up having the summer of his life. Winner of the Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award & 2014 Skipping Stones Honor Award.
 Screaming Quietly by Evan Jacobs
Ian Taylor lives a secret life. At school he's a varsity football player, dating one of the hottest cheerleaders on campus. At home he's his divorced mother's right hand, helping her to keep his younger autistic brother, Davey, in line. To Ian, Davey is a freak. And no one must ever know about him. But it's a game changer when Davey begins attending a special day class at Ian's school. Undaunted, Ian continues his charade of denying Davey's existence, even when Davey has massive public meltdowns. He internalizes his strong feelings--Screaming Quietly inside--until resentment, anger, and embarrassment force him to burst. But his love for Davey and his desire to man up eventually allow him to overcome peer pressure and fully own his life. Series contains two silver medal winners for the Independent Publishers Book Awards--and Moonbeam Children's Book Award.
Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

Max Parkman, autistic and whip-smart, emotionally fragile and aggressive; is perfect in his mother’s. Until he’s accused of murder. Attorney Danielle Parkman knows her teenage son Max’s behavior has been getting worse; using drugs and lashing out. But she can’t accept the diagnosis she receives at a top-notch adolescent psychiatric facility that her son is deeply disturbed. Dangerous. Until she finds Max, unconscious and bloodied, beside a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death. Trapped in a world of doubt and fear, barred from contacting Max, Danielle clings to the belief that her son is innocent. But has she, too, lost touch with reality? Is her son really a killer? With the justice system bearing down on them, Danielle steels herself to discover the truth, no matter what it is. She’ll do whatever it takes to find the killer and to save her son from being destroyed by a system that’s all too eager to convict him.
Daniel Isn’t Talking by Marti Leimbach
 
Melanie Marsh is an American living in London with her British husband, Stephen, and their two young children. The Marshes’ orderly home life is shattered when their son Daniel is given a devastating diagnosis. Resourceful and determined not to accept what others, including her husband, say is inevitable, Melanie finds an ally in the idealistic Andy, whose unorthodox ideas may just prove that Daniel is far more “normal” than anyone imagined. Daniel Isn’t Talking is a moving story of a family in crisis, told with warmth, compassion, and humor.

Marcelo in the Real World by Fransisco X. Stork

Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mail room in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm.
He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file -- a picture of a girl with half a face -- that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.
Reminiscent of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" in the intensity and purity of its voice, this extraordinary novel is a love story, a legal drama, and a celebration of the music each of us hears inside.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer 
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweler, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father's closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

R.I.P Sir Terry Pratchett



One of my favorite Discworld quotes is “Alone, in the gray shadows, Death tapdanced.”  The thought of Death hanging out just offstage and dancing always put an amusing image in my head.  Well, with the passing of Terry Pratchett, Death now has a new dance partner. 



Terry Pratchett will always hold a special place in my heart.  Not only was his Discworld series a brilliant combination of humor and fantasy (my favorite kind of book), but it also helped me connect more with my mom.

My mom was always trying to get me into reading.  After many, many failures she finally struck gold with Patricia C. Wrede’s The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.  Later I came across Robert Asprin’s Myth series and she starting reading them, too.  She thought it was similar enough to one of her favorite series that I might like it.  And so one day when I was a teenager she got a box down out of the attic and introduced me to the wonderful world of Discworld.  She told me about all of her favorite characters and stories and I couldn’t wait to dive in. 



The character I was most looking forward to was The Luggage.  The way my mom described it was perfect to get me a hooked.  A chest with seemingly limitless storage space and hundreds of little feet that follows its owner around?  I want one!  But not only can you easily take your things with you wherever you go, The Luggage also acts as a guard dog.  Many a thief lost a hand or disappeared into its depths because they tried to pick its lock or attempted to harm its owner.



The witches!  Magrat (the maiden), the new age hippie type who always did the grunt work because she was the youngest. She was later replaced by Agnes Nitt who had an amazing voice that I envied and something of a split personality. Nanny Ogg (the mother), the fun loving matriarch who was so proud of her large family and could always be counted on for a bawdy song.  And Granny Weatherwax (the other one), possibly the strongest living witch on the Disc.  She was a stern old woman who didn’t put up with nonsense.



 

Death and his obsession with humans!  He loves humans and tries his best to understand the human world.  He even modeled his home after houses he visited, complete with an umbrella stand by the front door where he keeps his scythe.  His great steed, Binky.  No, really.  That’s the name of Death’s horse.  His granddaughter, Susan, who becomes a main character in her own right and makes an excellent governess.


And the plots!  A kingdom where the people are forced to act as though they live in a "happily ever after" fairy tale.  A retelling of The Phantom of the OperaElves, and not the good kind, trying to return to our world.  Death's retirement and its repercussions.  Creatures from other dimensions trying to force their way in.  A family of vampires who have educated themselves beyond their inherent weaknesses who try to take over a kingdom.  Death stepping in to fill the role of the Disc’s version of Santa.  So many good stories!

 I would read these books and then talk about them with my mom.  We’d share our favorite moments, discuss who we wanted to see come back in a future book, and lament not having our own Luggage.  We’d also complain if there weren’t enough footnotes for our liking or if we thought a book was short on humor.  We’d eagerly anticipate the new books and call each other to see if the other had read it yet so we could talk about it.  So yeah, my mom and I became closer thanks to Terry Pratchett.  We’ll miss him and any new additions to his amazing Discworld series that might have been, but I’m sure Death is showing him a good time.


Asplenia Studios - Sir Terry Pratchett 1948-2015

-Al