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Staff Recommendations

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  • The mirage factory : illusion, imagination, and the invention of Los Angeles

    by Krist, Gary,

    Reviewed by: Nicholas Beyelia, Librarian, History and Genealogy Department

    July 15, 2018

    Call Number: 979.41 L881Kri

    The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination and the Invention of Los Angeles examines three historical figures who forged the development of Los Angeles as a metropolitan epicenter between 1900 and 1930. Krist, a journalist for the New York Times and Esquire, argues that three “visionaries” from L.A.’s storied past (city engineer William Mulholland, film director D.W. Griffith and evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson) ultimately ignited the technological, artististic and spiritual zeitgeist that became the foundation of this modern city.

    The book pursues a... Read Full Review

  • Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

    by Harkup, Kathryn,

    July 9, 2018

    Call Number: 823 S545Har

    2018 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein: Or The Modern Prometheus. In the intervening two centuries, Shelley’s novel, originally published anonymously, has become her most famous and well-known work and an international icon. The name Frankenstein has become shorthand for both mad scientists running amok and their monstrous creations (which also tend to run amok!). So, it is fitting that during this bicentennial year, Dr. Kathryn Harkup, a UK based scientist and writer, would investigate the woman behind the novel and the... Read Full Review

  • How to drive : real world instruction and advice from Hollywood's top driver

    by Collins, Ben, 1975-

    Reviewed by: Michael C.B., Librarian, West Valley Area

    July 1, 2018

    Call Number: 629.2136 C7125

    Millions of cars operate on thousands of miles of public roads that are maintained in the city of Los Angeles. Unfortunately books about driving are not as appealing to publishers as are diet and exercise books. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) updates and distributes a small handbook for drivers. However there is a dearth of new and updated books about driving, which might soon be populated by books on self-driving cars. Enter Ben Collins, professional racing car driver for Top Gear, NASCAR, and the James Bond movies. This is how Collins waxes poetic... Read Full Review

  • Ritz & Escoffier : the hotelier, the chef, and the rise of the leisure class

    by Barr, Luke,

    Reviewed by: Andrea Borchert, Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Department

    June 25, 2018

    Call Number: 647.94 R615Ba

    There is something wonderfully gossipy about Ritz & Escoffier:  the hotelier, the chef, and the rise of the leisure class. In tracing the rise of the luxurious Savoy Hotel, under the leadership of César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier, Luke Barr grants readers a glimpse into some of the biggest scandals of the Belle Époque, letting us get up close and personal with the celebrities involved. Barr also provides luscious descriptions of extravagant parties held at the hotel. These parties are filled with glitterati living the highlife. But they are also rife with... Read Full Review

  • Time was

    by McDonald, Ian, 1960-

    June 18, 2018

    Call Number: SF

    Anyone who has spent time in bookstores or libraries has found them: short notes, usually handwritten, tucked away in books to be found by the latest reader of the title. Typically, they are ad-hoc bookmarks, inadvertently left behind by a previous reader. When you find one of these, what do you do? Do you throw the note away, assuming it is trash, or do you place it back in the book? If you choose to put it back, do you read it before you do so? What if you found a note, read it and discovered that it was not arbitrarily left in the book, but quite consciously placed there for someone... Read Full Review

  • The Prince and the Dressmaker

    by Wang, Jen.

    Reviewed by: Andrea Borchert, Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Department

    June 11, 2018

    Call Number: 740.9999 W246

    Frances is a young, talented, hardworking dressmaker. She wants to make wonderfully glamorous dresses. No one quite gets her art form and design, including her boss and the aristocrats he works for, and neither does the new department store opening up downtown.  At best, they think they can make money off her work. At worst, they are offended and enraged by her work. She loses her job after giving a young woman exactly the dress she wanted. The young woman, Lady Sophia, looks amazing in her new ball gown, and she knows it. But this dress isn’t a typical ball gown:  black with a... Read Full Review

  • No time to spare : thinking about what matters

    by Le Guin, Ursula K., 1929-

    Reviewed by: Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library

    June 4, 2018

    Call Number: 814 L521

    Ursula Le Guin was an inventive writer best known for her novels (fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction), and who also wrote poetry, critical non-fiction, books for children, and numerous essays. She began a blog, from which these selected essays are collected. In so many of these pieces she is dazzling in her clearly stated analyses, because in no way could Le Guin be led astray or beguiled by flattery or easy charm. Having lived fully engaged in the present world provides insight as to how she imagined other worlds that became reflective of this one. She is candid, unabashed,... Read Full Review

  • Witchmark

    by Polk, C. L.

    May 29, 2018

    Dr. Miles Singer is a man with secrets. First, his name isn’t really Miles Singer, it is Sir Christopher Hensley. He is a child from an aristocratic family of magic users who are deeply entrenched in Aeland’s government. While it is true that he is a doctor and a veteran, however he was never meant to be either. He was meant for a life of servitude to his sister, acting as a booster or battery, for her magical power. So he ran away, hiding his magical abilities and noble background, to pursue a life serving as a physician and psychiatrist working with other war veterans in the wards of... Read Full Review

  • Wonder Valley

    by Pochoda, Ivy,

    Reviewed by: Linda Rudell-Betts, Senior Librarian, Social Science, Philosophy and Religion Department

    May 21, 2018

    As a gift from the library universe, my library hold for Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda became available during the December holidays, and I had downtime to spend reading. The book opens with a man running naked through rush hour traffic in downtown Los Angeles, drawing police and television reporters in hot pursuit. I thought, this book has potential to show what we're living with here in LA.

    Multiple characters whose lives are interwoven represent different parts of Southern California society: the seekers in the desert, the destitute on Skid Row, and the self-absorbed from... Read Full Review

  • Natural causes : an epidemic of wellness, the certainty of dying, and killing ourselves to live longer

    by Ehrenreich, Barbara,

    Reviewed by: David B., Librarian, InfoNow

    May 14, 2018

    Call Number: 393 E33

    Barbara Ehrenreich has spent much of her journalistic career as a social gadfly, with her contrarian takes on the “American Dream,” positive thinking, and masculinity. Natural Causes is her most controversial polemic to date. She strongly advocates against unnecessary medical exams, corporate mandated weight loss programs, fitness regimes, extreme diets, mindfulness meditation sessions, and wellness lifestyle gurus. Ehrenreich bemoans the attention paid to healthy choices, which she feels will only postpone the inevitable. Her own background in microbiology, in addition to her... Read Full Review

  • Pride and Prometheus

    by Kessel, John,

    May 7, 2018

    Call Number: SF

    What if Mary Bennett, Elizabeth Bennett’s younger sister from Pride and Prejudice, encountered Victor Frankenstein at a social event in London? What if, upon meeting Victor, the serious and studious Mary became quite taken with the withdrawn, troubled, and also quite brilliant, Frankenstein? What would happen? This is the question entertainingly explored by John Kessel in his new novel Pride and Prometheus.

    Mary Bennett and her younger sister, Kitty, are both beginning to realize that their chances of finding a suitable husband are dwindling rapidly. While Mary... Read Full Review

  • Broad Band: The Untold History of Women Who Made the Internet

    by Evans, Claire Lisa,

    Reviewed by: Andrea Borchert, Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Department

    April 30, 2018

    Call Number: 510.7809 E924

    Who made the Internet? Popular culture might have you picture a young, white, nerdy man as the architect and designer, the artist and innovator, behind the Internet. Maybe he’s arrogant and standoffish. Maybe he’s shy and brilliant. He probably wears glasses. There are people like him in the story of the Internet, but his story isn't the only one. There are lots of other people who contributed to creating this valuable resource--hundreds of stories behind the making of the Internet. Women also made the Internet, and their stories can help us understand their contributions. It is... Read Full Review

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