Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani

In Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani, Shalini has only known one world: India. She lives in a massive house with 37 of her relatives and loves it. She has been engaged to Vikram, the man of her dreams, since she was three years old. Nothing could spoil her wonderful life…except when her father decides to take a new job and uproot her family to L.A. How could she possibly adjust to this completely different lifestyle? Her little sister seems to jump right in, while her mother struggles more and more with these new surroundings. As Shalini adjusts to live in California, will she be able to hold onto the world she has always known and the person she has always known herself to be?
                I instantly gravitated to Lovetorn because of my unhealthy obsession with anything related to India. This was a pretty easy and straightforward read. The author provides a glossary to help the reader understand the different foods, phrases, and words that Shalini uses. This is a great reference tool and I was really glad it was included. Daswani creates a storyline around Shalini’s mother that I thought was very well written and crucial to Shalini’s struggles to accept this new lifestyle. Some of Shalini’s actions and feelings did not seem genuine to me. I think the author could have spent more time on Shalini’s transition from being completely in love with Vikram to realizing that she might feel different. I would have liked to have seen the author develop more into the secondary characters, especially Sangita, Shalini’s little sister and Toby, an American boy who makes Shalini rethink everything she knows. Other than that, Lovetorn provides an insightful look at the lifestyles of India and the transition that many teen immigrants face.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

“Hershey’s Kisses, the Thin voice said. Twenty-five calories.
The Thin voice whispered, Brown rice, one hundred thirty-five calories. Steamed broccoli, two cups, fifty calories. One bite of chicken, thirty-six calories. Two hours on the exercise bike.

A diet is temporary, the Thin voice said knowingly. Being thin is forever.”

The Thin voice won’t go away. It is constantly there to remind Lisabeth Lewis that she is a failure. Everyone is thin, why not her? Life deals another twist of cruel fate when Lisabeth makes a deal with Death himself. Her new job? She is now Famine…as in one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Lisabeth must now face hunger in a way that she never thought of. She is slammed face first into a world were millions go without food every day, not because they are on a diet, but because they are on the brink of starvation and death. Lisabeth must learn to use her new power to not only help fight the injustices of the world and keep balance, but also the personal demons that live inside her.

Jackie Morse Kessler uses the historic story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the current epidemic of eating disorders to create a story that will suck you in. As the Thin voice plagues Lisabeth into a world of despair, you are completely enthralled at the ironic twist of her being forced to be Famine. Kessler’s unique writing style is sharp, refreshing, and completely addicting. Given the fact the Hunger is only 177 pages, Kessler is able to create a storyline that is well developed, but quick to the point. Hunger is the first installment of the Riders of the Apocalypse series. Rage, the second in the series, was released in April of 2011 and the third installment in the series, Loss, is scheduled to be released in March 2012. Once you start this series you will not want to put it down.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What if you needed 22 library cards, instead of one?

The Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC) is a group of 22 individual municipal Jefferson County libraries that banded together thirty-three years ago to create the "one county - one library card" system. Citizens of all ages use one library card countywide and have access to all the resources of all the libraries in the county, plus an online catalog, the Internet, numerous databases and the Books-By-Mail program. Our countywide delivery system transports materials throughout the county to satisfy users’ requests and returns them to the owning library for the borrower’s convenience. JCLC is the non-profit organization that manages the system-wide services—the glue that links us together.

After 33 years of funding, the Jefferson County Library Cooperative was recently eliminated from the Jefferson County budget. Local library buildings, staff, and operations are funded at the local level. But JCLC, a non-profit organization, provides all 40 Jefferson County city public libraries—including your local library—with essential services like internet access, book and DVD delivery between libraries, one centralized catalog and one centralized library card, access to free databases like Heritage Quest for genealogy and business resource Reference USA.

Our members include the following public libraries: Adamsville, Bessemer, Birmingham Public Library System (19 branches), Botanical Gardens, Clay, Fairfield, Fultondale, Gardendale, Graysville, Homewood, Hoover, Hueytown, Irondale, Leeds, Midfield, Mountain Brook, Pinson, Pleasant Grove, Tarrant, Trussville, Vestavia Hills, and Warrior.

On behalf of the 22 directors of our member libraries, we greatly appreciate that over the past thirty-three years you have been such steady, staunch supporters of JCLC and all of our public libraries. Your tax dollars, along with funding from the local municipalities, the Alabama Public Library Service, and tax deductible public donations, aid in making us "one" cooperative. We take great pride in providing world class library service to citizens of all ages throughout Jefferson County.

One day. One massive opportunity to support Alabama nonprofits!

February 2nd is your opportunity to join thousands of Alabamians in being part of a history making event that aims to raise millions of dollars for hundreds of Alabama nonprofits in just 24 hours. Inspired by other Gives Days in the nation, Alabama Gives Day provides nonprofits an opportunity to showcase the impact of the incredible work they do that helps improve the quality of life for everyone in our state.

Tell your friends and family that libraries are essential components of communities — worth fighting for and worth funding. ~Re-posted from the Alabama Gives website JCLC page

Here are Some Picture Books that we LOVE!

We have been loving these two books by Maureen Wright.

Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze! is a great little tale about a bear who thinks that his sneezes are causing the apples and leaves to fall and the geese to fly away in the Autumn. Only the wind can convince him that the autumn breeze is to blame for the changes in the season.

You can place a hold on it here.

Sneezy the Snowman is a perfect wintry picture book. Sneezy is sooooo cold and everything he does to warm himself melts him into a puddle. His friends work together to find a way to make Sneezy feel just right.

You can place a hold on it here.

You can also listen to this title on our Dial-a-Story if you call 332-6617!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Epic Fail by Claire LaZabnik

Elise Benton is a pretty normal teenage girl, but her life is turned upside down when her family moves to California and she is enrolled in the elite prep school, Coral Tree Prep. Her new school is filled with the children of A-list celebrities, who are just as glamorous as their famous parents. Elise just doesn’t fit it. Now add in the fact that her mother is the new principal and Elise has a one way ticket to outcastland. When Elise’s older sister catches the eye of Chase, one of Coral Tree Prep’s most popular students, Elise begins to hangout with Derek Edwards, who is definitely the most popular student at school, Chase’s best friend, and a total snob. Or is he?

In Epic Fail, author Claire LaZebnik paints a modern day high school version of Pride and Prejudice. Normally, I steer clear of retellings, but this one took me by surprise. LaZebnik was able to develop the characters in a way that they stood on their own, even though they were modeled after Austen’s infamous characters. The modern day twists that LaZebnik adds to this classic story plus her easy going writing style makes this version not only entertaining, but quite enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dennis Nichols retires from Homewood Public Library, Dec. 2011

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Dennis certainly had an accomplished career and he will be missed. Congrats, Dennis, and enjoy every minute!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Taste Me by Tamara Hogan

Scarlet, lead singer for the rock band Scarlet's Web and a siren who channels emotion through song, has been on a grueling non-stop year-long concert tour. She's exhausted, she's not eating or sleeping, and she's emotionally stripped bare, so the last thing she needs is having to deal with incubus and former lover Lukas Sebastiani. Unfortunately, Lukas' company is heading up security for her homecoming concert. As the daughter of a Council member, Scarlet could be a target.

Lukas hasn't been able to get Scarlet off his mind and out of his dreams. Their one night together haunts him. Lukas is able to taste emotions and energy, and Scarlet's mandarin champagne fizz makes his head buzz and sends his hormones out of control. Being this close to her may just drive him mad, because he absolutely cannot have her ever again.

Hogan has built a unique world in Taste Me. Though the paranormal archetypes are present (vampires, werewolves, etc.), the main characters are the lesser known incubi, succubi, sirens, and such. The plot is filled with sexual tension and suspense, both primary and secondary characters are well-developed, and the writing is witty and expressive. I highly recommend this novel for fans of paranormal romance and romantic suspense genres.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jefferson's Sons

Most people know Thomas Jefferson as the third President of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the founding fathers. But there is a lot more to Thomas Jefferson than was covered in your American History class. In Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, the reader learns about the last twenty years of Jefferson’s epic life. Told through the eyes of three young slave boys, Beverly, Madison (Maddy), and Peter Fossett, you learn of the scandalous and not so secret life of Thomas Jefferson.

Beverly and Madison are definitely not ordinary. Though they are slaves, they are keeping a big secret, which everyone knows about. They work at Monticello, but both are troubled by the daunting secret that their master and owner, Thomas Jefferson, is their father. The novel raises the question of how can the man who wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” not only own slaves, but also let his children be slaves?

Sally Hemings, Beverly and Madison’s mother, has been a topic of controversy for over two centuries. Bradley portrays her as a woman determined to see her children free above anything else. I have always been fascinated by the story of Sally Hemings, so I was quick to grab this new Young Adult book. Each perspective is different and each will cause you to feel a range of emotions. Maybe it is the fact that each character starts out as a young child with na├»ve eyes and as they grow both the character and the reader are exposed to the hypocrisies of the situation. It would have been interesting if Bradley chose to represent the character of Harriet, Jefferson and Hemings’ daughter, and her perspective on the situation at Monticello. The last character portrayed in Peter Fossett, who is another young slave boy. Peter’s situation tells of the aftermath after Jefferson’s death. The last scene is harrowing and you cannot help but feel distraught at the entire situation.

Bradley provides additional research information for anyone who wishes to research more about the Hemings and Jefferson. All in all, Bradley did an amazing job of connecting all the characters and presenting the situation well enough that the reader is more than moved by the story.