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Staff Recommendations


  • Gods like us : on movie stardom and modern fame

    by Burr, Ty.

    Reviewed by: David B., Librarian, InfoNow

    April 22, 2013

    Call Number: 301.55 B968

    Burr expounds on the nature of stardom from the early silent era to the present day in this provocative and well-researched tome. Iconic movie stars, including Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise are profiled. Burr questions the meaning of stardom in the Internet age, when stardom is often accidentally obtained, the major film studios have limited power, and stars have more currency as "brands" than actors.  While Gods Like Us is not a comprehensive overview of Hollywood history, Burr... Read Full Review

  • People who eat darkness : the true story of a young woman who vanished from the streets of Tokyo and the evil that swallowed her up

    by Parry, Richard Lloyd.

    Reviewed by: Eileen Y., Librarian, InfoNow

    April 17, 2013

    Call Number: 364.952 P265

    Lucie Blackman’s body was missing for months before the Tokyo police found her. In fact, it initially took  gargantuan efforts on her father's and sister’s part in creating publicity for Lucie’s case, in hopes that she would be found. At one point, even then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly entreated the Tokyo police to quickly find Lucie.  The truth of Lucie’s untimely death, and the truth about the person who killed her, would ruin a family and expose inadequacies and inner workings of the Tokyo police department and the Japanese criminal legal... Read Full Review

  • Heading out to wonderful : a novel

    by Goolrick, Robert, 1948-

    Reviewed by: LAPL Staff, Librarian

    April 15, 2013

    World War II has only recently ended, and life has started to return to normal in sleepy Brownsburg, Virginia. Charlie Beale arrives, looking for a place to finally settle down, and with his natural charm, he’s quickly accepted as a member of the community. When he meets the beautiful young Sylvan Glass, it’s love at first sight, and Sylvan is more than ready to be swept off her feet by a handsome and dashing beau. She has dreams of Hollywood, glamour, and the movies – dreams that she feared had died for good when her family married her off to the town's richest man... Read Full Review

  • The mad scientist's guide to world domination : original short fiction for the modern evil genius

    April 12, 2013

    Call Number: SF

    The mad scientist has been a science fiction standard since the genesis of the genre with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1818. Many novels and films revolve around a scientific genius and his (or her!) plans, but are they necessarily mad? And are their plans truly nefarious or only "evil" from a certain point of view? Some of the genre’s best and brightest contemporary authors explore this archetype from the inside out with fascinating, insightful and often hilarious results in The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination.

    Within this collection of... Read Full Review

  • Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe

    by Sáenz, Benjamin Alire.

    April 12, 2013

    Call Number: YA

    Two 15-year-old boys, each spending the afternoon at the community pool: “I can teach you how to swim,” one says to the other. With this kind and innocent offer, a relationship begins that will alter both of these boys, and their families, as they forge a friendship that will help them on their journey to becoming men.

    Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza is the classic loner. He prefers his own company to that of others. He is also perpetually bored, moody, and has bouts of inexplicable anger. With nothing better to do on a summer morning in 1987, he heads to the... Read Full Review

  • Sailor Twain : the mermaid in the Hudson

    by Siegel, Mark, 1967-

    April 2, 2013

    Call Number: 740.9999 S571

    The year is 1887, and the steamboat Lorelei courses the foggy Hudson River. Its captain, Sailor Twain, is a dutiful man who runs the ship much on his own. Prowling the deck late one evening, he encounters a mermaid struggling to pull herself onboard. Blood flows out of a wound in her side, across her breasts and her gray, pungent skin. Twain clumsily carries her into his cabin, at once lustily drawn to and repulsed by her. He dresses her wound, and nurses her back to health in secret.

    As the mermaid grows stronger, her presence transforms Twain's cabin into a seabed... Read Full Review

  • The explorer

    by Smythe, James.

    March 28, 2013

    What if you were doomed and found yourself in a situation from which there was no rescue, no escape. There are no secret panels to look behind, no levers to pull, no button to push or secret skill that can save you. You are completely isolated and without the knowledge that might, MIGHT, be able to save you. That you will die is a certainty. How would you face it? Could you face it? Is it possible to stare directly into the face of our mortality with dignity? Or would we inevitably devolve to our baser instincts? These are just some of the questions examined in James Smythe’s ... Read Full Review

  • The destiny of the republic : a tale of medicine, madness and the murder of a president

    by Millard, Candice.

    Reviewed by: LAPL Staff, Librarian

    March 12, 2013

    Call Number: 92 G231Mi

    You might not think there would be much point to a book about James Garfield. His was the second-shortest Presidency, after all, at a mere 200 days, and almost half of that was spent in his death bed after being shot by Charles Guiteau. But Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic makes the story of Garfield's assassination more interesting than you might have expected.

    Garfield was the savior of a sharply divided Republican party in 1880. His nomination speech for one of the declared candidates was so riveting that a deadlocked convention eventually turned to him as... Read Full Review

  • Some kind of fairy tale : a novel

    by Joyce, Graham, 1954-

    Reviewed by: LAPL Staff, Librarian

    February 22, 2013

    The woods near Tara Martin's village have always been a mysterious place. Some would say haunted, some would say enchanted, but strange things happen there. But it's still a shock when 16-year-old Tara disappears without a trace from those woods. It's even more of a shock when she turns up at her parents' door 20 years later, seeming to have barely aged a day. The mystery of what happened to Tara is at the heart of Graham Joyce's Some Kind of Fairy Tale, a novel that combines fairy tale imagery with magical realism and outright fantasy.

    Tara's story is... Read Full Review

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    Year of meteors : Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the election that brought on the Civil War

    by Egerton, Douglas R.

    Reviewed by: Bob Timmermann, Senior Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Dept.

    February 11, 2013

    Call Number: 973.711 E29

    I missed this book when it was published in 2010, but with the renewed interest in all things Lincoln, I was intrigued by the idea of a book about the backroom politics that resulted in Lincoln's election in 1860. Surprisingly, Lincoln is only a supporting character in Egerton's book; the main focus is on other important figures of the time, whom history has more or less forgotten in the wake of the 16th President's accomplishments.

    The most important character in the book is Lincoln's Illinois rival, Stephen Douglas. Coming into the election of 1860, Douglas was the... Read Full Review

  • Code name Verity

    by Wein, Elizabeth.

    Reviewed by: Loren Spector, Young Adult Librarian, Felipe de Neve Branch Library

    February 2, 2013

    Call Number: YA

    In October 1943, two British girls, a pilot and a spy, crash their plane in Nazi-occupied France. The spy is captured and imprisoned by the Germans. She is forced to give up her secrets and reveal her mission in writing or face torture like the other captives in the prison. What she really writes, though, is the story of her friend Maddie, the pilot of the crashed plane, whom she assumes is dead.

    But once the narrator details her experience with the British military and her current situation being imprisoned with the Germans, the reader’s world is turned upside down.

    ... Read Full Review

  • The rook : a novel

    by O'Malley, Daniel.

    Reviewed by: LAPL Staff, Librarian

    January 20, 2013

    We open with a woman waking up in a London park. She is surrounded by dead bodies, and cannot remember who she is or how she got there. Fortunately, in her coat pocket she finds a letter from her pre-amnesia self, which answers some of her questions. She is, the letter explains, Myfanwy Thomas, and she is a Rook, a high-ranking official in the Chequy, the spy organization tasked with protecting Britain from supernatural threats. And someone in the Chequy is trying to kill her.

    From that premise, O'Malley spins a delightful comic-thriller that reads like a Douglas Adams'... Read Full Review