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Staff Recommendations


  • 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

  • Just my type : a book about fonts

    by Garfield, Simon.

    Reviewed by: Vi Ha, Young Adult Librarian, Teen'Scape

    January 10, 2013

    Call Number: 085.2409 G231

    In our modern world, some thought should be applied to the method in which we interact and communicate with written language. Should text and the font used on the computer, in books, on street signage, on products be beautiful, functional, provide clarity or be invisible? When reading a book, should we notice what font is being used? How much identification of a corporation’s brand is tied in with the characteristics of their font choice? Is the Paris Metro the same if it does not employ the swoopy Art Nouveau signage or should the aim be for the consistency of the New York subway... Read Full Review

  • The big book of hacks : 264 amazing DIY tech projects

    Reviewed by: Vi Ha, Young Adult Librarian, Teen'Scape

    December 31, 2012

    Call Number: 621.381 B5925

    Much can be written about the popularity and permeation of DIY (do-it-yourself) culture into our everyday lives. The emphasis on self-sufficiency and learning to do things without paying someone, or relying on an expert, has encouraged many to become modern-day homemakers and handypersons by learning to knit, install drywall, bake bread and start a vegetable garden. The library, if anything, is an incubator for DIY with its multitude of programs and books that encourage self education.

    A subset of this DIY culture is the Maker Movement that takes the DIY ethic and employs engineering... Read Full Review

  • Empress of fashion : a life of Diana Vreeland

    by Stuart, Amanda Mackenzie.

    Reviewed by: Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library

    December 18, 2012

    Call Number: 746.52 V979St

    She was not a pretty child, but it was stingingly cruel for Diana Dalziel’s mother to tell the young girl that she was ugly. The mother and sister were beauties, and the contrast with young Diana was even more obvious. After a miserable childhood, the teenaged Diana, or De-e-e-e-ahna as she said it was to be pronounced, took charge of her own life and created The Girl. After that there was no stopping this jolie laide who went on to become Diana Vreeland, a major power broker behind twentieth century fashion as fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, editor in chief at ... Read Full Review

  • How to cook everything : the basics : all you need to make great food

    by Bittman, Mark.

    Reviewed by: Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library

    December 7, 2012

    Call Number: 641.5 B624-1 2012

    It is one of the worst comments made about someone who is a rotten cook: “They don’t even know how to boil water!” Well, if you have never done it, or if you have never seen what it looks like--boiling water--then one of the most basic techniques in food preparation can produce a bad, if not inedible, meal. And, if the inexperienced cook mistakes simmering water for boiling, and puts in pasta or rice, the end product will be a globby mess of starch.

    For over twenty years Mark Bittman has been nudging, pushing and cajoling people to do their own cooking and has been... Read Full Review