Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer

     In An Available Man, Edward Schuyler is a sixty-two year old middle school teacher and an avid birdwatcher who is dealing with the death of his beloved wife, Bee. Though his world has stopped with Bee’s death, the rest of the world is still carrying on. According to his friends and even his children it is time for Edward to move on and find a new love.  Edward is finding out that being a widow means that you are quite a catch and he must suffer through endless matching making schemes. His stepchildren even put a newspaper personal ad out for him. Suddenly, Edward is swarmed with women.  To most men, this seems like a dream come true, but Edward is still dealing with the fact that he is an available man. In this tender and witty novel, Edward must learn to not only to accept his new single status, but also that it is ok for him to move on.

   Though this sounds like a real downer of a book, author Hilma Wolitzer creates a warm and humorous setting that leaves you feeling anything but sad. As Edward deals with the new stream of women in his life, children who mean well, nosy friends, and an old flame that resurface you began to understand his process of letting go and dealing with Bee’s death. There is one woman that I was waiting for her to go all Fatal Attraction on poor Edward. I just knew she was crazy and kept waiting for her to show her true colors. The women that come into Edward’s life, not just from a romantic angle, will have you cracking up to no end. Though Edward has his ups and downs with these women his story wraps up nicely by the end of the novel. This isn’t an impossibly long read, but you want to take your time so you understand the beauty of Wolitzer’s writing style.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    If I ever decide to write author John Green a letter, I am pretty sure it would go something like this, “Dear John Green….Thanks for ripping out my heart with The Fault In Our Stars. I laughed, cried, then cried some more. But it was a pleasure to have my heart ripped out by such an awesome book.”

   Sound a little extreme? Well this is an extreme book.

   Hazel Grace Lancaster is anything but ordinary. Actually she probably wishes she was ordinary. Because ordinary kids don’t get cancer and they certainly don’t have to tote around oxygen tanks. Enter Augustus Waters, a witty terribly handsome one-legged cancer survivor. Hazel doesn’t stand a chance and neither does the reader. Together they chase a recluse author, battle cancer, help a blind kid, and discover how fantastic living can be.  It is impossible not to fall in love with Hazel and Augustus’ epic love story.

   John Green has written a superb book. I do not think I cannot stress the intensity and power that he has packed into a mere 318 pages. Yes it is a cancer book and cancer books are generally sad, but The Fault in Our Stars goes well beyond your average ‘cancer story’. This book is a force of emotions to be reckoned with. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin

Ten-year-old Sasha Zaichik knows how perfect life is. He is lucky enough to live in the U.S.S.R with his father, who has the privilege of working for Stalin’s secret police. Sasha has been studying night and day to become a Soviet Young Pioneer, a youth organization dedicated to Stalin’s word and the spread of Communism.

Suddenly on the eve before his induction into the Young Pioneers, police burst into Sasha’s apartment and arrest his father! Everywhere Sasha turns to for help, he is cast aside and left to fend for himself. Sasha knows that once Stalin hears of this grave mistake everything will be straightened out! This harrowing night begins Sasha’s two day journey, where he begins to see the real truth behind the Soviet Union.

Eugene Yelchin, author of Breaking Stalin’s Nose, lived in the Soviet Union before moving to the United States. Though he has worked as an illustrator and artist for years this is Yelchin’s first novel. A combination of text and illustrations, this 2012 Newbery Honor book showcases Sasha's perilous journey to free his father.  His use of beautiful and dynamic black and white illustrations helps add a higher level of intensity to Sasha’s plight. The imagery is not graphic, but young readers will still be able to understand the seriousness of the situation. At only 140 pages, Breaking Stalin’s Nose is a great way to introduce children to the horrors of this period in history. This is not a story with a happy ending, but one of truth.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

From the moment seventeen-year old Sadie saw Garrett Delaney she knew that they were perfect for each other. How couple they possibly not be together? Fast forward two years and Sadie and Garrett are best friends. They share everything together...movies, music, and clothing styles. Only problem is that Sadie is still madly in love with Garrett. Too bad he is so busy dating every other girl but Sadie to notice. Now Garrett is off to writers camp for six weeks and Sadie is left at home. Will this be the opportunity she needs to get over Garrett? Or will the six weeks apart make him realize that she is the one for him? 

In Getting Over Garrett Delaney, Sadie starts to realize there is more to life than Garrett. She ventures out and makes new friends, while connecting with old ones. She begins to learn relationship lessons that many girls in their twenties and thirties are still learning. Getting Over Garrett Delaney is a great reminder of how often anyone can get so caught up with the person they are infatuated with that they forget about everything else in life. Abby McDonald paints a funny story with some unique characters and some hard truths. Sadie has to take a hard look at herself and realize the person she has become might not be the person she wants to be.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blackout by John Rocco

Sometimes your family is just too busy. Too busy with work, friends, and
other things. Too busy to play a simple board game.
Every once in a while, we all need a friendly reminder that we are never too busy for our family. How would you and your family react to a blackout? Absolutely no technology at all. No television! No Internet! No phone!
In John Rocco’s Blackout, which won a Caldecott Honor for 2012, one family learns that a city wide blackout is probably the best thing that has happened to them.Instead of moping around, they reconnect with each other and also their community. Whether its shadow puppets, board games, or dancing in the
streets, John Rocco reminds us that it is important to step away from technology and focus on the simple joys of life

Check out the book trailer for Blackout and be sure to checkout Blackout.

Join us for the Oxmoor Page Turners Book Group on Feb. 14!

Call Judith Wright at 205.332.6601 for more info!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Alabama Gives Day was a Success for Jefferson Co. Libraries!

Well you did it! Thanks to you, the Jefferson County Library Cooperative raised $10,773 from 313 unique donors in one day and earned The People's Choice Award, and placed #5 in the Top 10 Alabama Nonprofits. Wow! It was fantabulous because Alabama really does give. Your donation will help keep alive our "One county-One library card" system. And thank you Alabama Gives Day for sponsoring this successful event to benefit Alabama nonprofits. 
By the way, you can still give on the website.
Here are several testimonials from the website: 
"The library rocks! Especially our Jefferson County libraries! I've always said, I could live just about anywhere with very little IF I lived within walking distance of one of our libraries!" 
"I love the fact that all Jefferson County libraries are connected, and that you can go online to locate books, music, and movies that would not be feasible if you had to go to every library to locate. The librarians are always friendly and helpful as well." 
"My library gives me a place to relax and get a hold of some great books w/out having to spend my whole paycheck. I love books and reading and w/out my library, I would have a household of books and be penniless because I would buy every book I could." 
"I love the library. I've used the library's books to diet and exercise, cook and reorganize, to raise children and put myself to sleep at night. I used to read books but now I listen to them, sometimes download them. I'm studying Spanish, too."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

“This is the box, Ed. Inside is everything. This is it, Ed. The whole
story of why we broke up."

In Why We Broke Up, Min Green explains to her completely different ex-boyfriend the moments that led to their break up. As Min makes her way through a keepsake box, she reveals the start of the relationship, how they fell in love, and the heartbreak that was unavoidable. The mundane objects in Min’s box all represent a moment that made Min questioned the romance of such a dissimilar couple.

 A Printz honor for excellence in Young Adult Literature, Why We Broke Up will send you back in time to when you felt that first pang of love and the earth-shattering pain of your first breakup. We have all been there and we go through it with Min as she re-hatches what exactly went wrong for the basketball team co-captain and classic film connoisseur couple.

Author Daniel Handler, from the famed Lemony Snicket series, weaves a tale of love and heartbreak that we have all known. This book made me laugh, cry, and want to scream at the extreme use of fragmented and run-on sentences. About forty or so pages into Min’s story I was sure Handler had set me up for a disastrous storyline, but I stuck with it and am I glad I did. The feeling of nostalgia that haunts this book cannot be denied. A tale of first love and heartache is one that anyone can relate to. We might not all have Min’s story, but we have all felt her pain.

Be sure to check out the back cover as some of today's most popular authors share their first love/first heartbreak stories.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We're getting excited about Alabama Gives Day Thurs., Feb. 2!

The clock is ticking and we're getting excited about Alabama Gives Day Thurs., Feb. 2! If you ♥ Jefferson County libraries send a text-to-give donation of $10 on that day!

Here's how:

To support the Jefferson County Library Cooperative on Alabama Gives Day, text CHANGE LIBRARY to 84465 to give $10
$10.00 donation to Alabama Gives Day. Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Message and Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 84465 to STOP. Text HELP to 84465 for HELP. Full Terms: Privacy Policy.