“If war can ever be said to be just, then this war is so; it is action for a moral cause, with the most rigorous of intellectual underpinnings. And yet everywhere I turn, I see injustice done in the waging of it. “ - March
In Louisa Alcott’s Little Women, Mr. March’s largest role in the narrative is that his daughters are perpetually waiting for his letters home. In March, Geraldine Brooks traces his story as he enlists to become a Union chaplain, experiences many horrors of war, and eventually finds himself tutoring freed slaves (“contraband”) on a destitute cotton plantation. His cheerful letters home to Marmee contrast with the terrible details he confides to the reader but does not write home about: the pervasive racism; cruelty; and suffering that he encounters in a number of different encounters.
My son and I were discussing books the other day, and he asked me, “Would you recommend a book in a blog that you didn’t completely love?” I thought for a minute and said, “No”. He asked why not, and I replied, “What if someone noticed the blog who didn’t love books? What if they just wanted to try reading a book for the first time in a long while? I couldn’t recommend a book that I thought maybe they would like or maybe not. I have to feel strongly about the book. I want people to love books as much as I do.”
Nocturnal, by Scott Sigler, is a detective novel that involves the supernatural. So if you love both genres as I do, this is a glorious combination. The characters are so well-developed that several reviewers described this novel as Sigler’s attempt to write like Stephen King. I don't know if that is true, but I just think that Sigler has always been known as a fast-paced horror writer. In Nocturnal he adds more character and depth to the plot.
Friends With Boys is a teenage slice of life story. Maggie is dealing with the first day of school. Not just the first day of the year, nor is it simply her first day of high school. This is Maggie's first day of school...ever.
Once homeschooled, the freshman girl's mother and teacher has left home. Luckily, she has three already initiated older brothers to show her the ropes around Sandford High. But Maggie's going to have to get used to the crowds, the schedule, and the fact that her siblings can't always be looking out for her.
This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.
The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks: "Follows the life lessons of Jane, from defiant teenager to reluctant career girl, as she makes her way through love, sex, relationships, and workplace perils, prompted by dubious advice from a pop-psych guide to life."
If you liked The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, you may like these titles:
Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott
"A teenage girl, raised on the east end of Long Island among the country estates of the rich, reflects on her understanding of human nature during a seemingly idyllic summer spent with her eight-year-old cousin Daisy."
For Matrimonial Purposes by Kavita Daswani
"Unable to find a husband despite the efforts of friends, fortune-tellers, and matchmakers, thirty-three year old Anju, confronted by her family's shame, obtains their permission to leave Bombay to look for a husband in the United States."
With the rise of the smartphone we have entered the world of the app. My, my, there is an app for that, isn’t there? Problem is, there are thousands upon thousands of them, and I’ll tell you what, most of them are junk. But this just makes the good ones stand out that much more. This is a list of my favorite apps for Android phones; I will follow this up soon with a list for iPhone/iPad users. And, please understand this list is by no means comprehensive and does not include games. These are simply the apps that I have found to be the most useful and fun in my day-to-day life. If you have a favorite Android app that you’d like to see added to this list please contact me here or leave a comment on Facebook! Most of these apps are free, except for a few that I’ve marked otherwise.
Lookout Security & Antivirus – FREE, w/ paid upgrades
Your Android smartphone can get a virus just as easily, if not more easily, than a PC or Mac. Make this your first install. The free version will run scheduled scans of your phone for viruses and make certain that every app installed is safe. It will also allow you to locate your phone in the event that it is lost. For a few dollars a month, you can get extra features like safe Web browsing and a privacy advisor which will keep track of which apps have access to personal data on your phone.
Some of my fondest memories from holidays in my childhood are of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on television. The magic of the parade with its wonderful balloons signaled the beginning of one of my favorite times of year. But I never gave much thought to the history of the parade and its famous balloons. When I saw the book Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, by Melissa Sweet, I couldn’t resist the chance to meet the man behind the magic.
I'd put off reading Altered Carbon for a few years, always reading something newer. Shame on me. This Philip K. Dick Award-winner is a brilliantly dark and gritty mixture of hardboiled detective fiction and cyberpunk that anyone looking for a story with a razor-sharp edge will love.
“...it makes me uncomfortable to know that my story Tuck Everlasting is required reading in some classrooms. My sympathies are entirely with the children, for many will react to Tuck as I well might have--with a shudder. Many will find its language too ‘fancy,’ its pace too slow, its topic unsettling, the behavior of its hero incomprehensible.”--Natalie Babbitt in "Saying What You Think." The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress*
It is perhaps surprising that an author would almost prefer her books were not required reading. But it is less surprising in Natalie Babbitt’s case. Her best-beloved books are sweet and strong and true in spirit while containing enough wonder and marvel to lend a sparkle to a reader’s otherwise mundane childhood. This children’s author, like many of the best, remembers what it is like to be a child. What she liked to read--and what she didn’t. She understands that children have strong opinions on their favorite books, even if they may not be comfortable in expressing them. She certainly remembers what she liked:
“Most kids grow up leaving something out for Santa at Christmas time when he comes down the chimney. I used to make presents for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
When I picked up a copy of Jeanette Winterson’s recent memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, I couldn’t wait to start the first page. I’ve been fascinated by Winterson’s novels for years, but never imagined she would narrate her life in the coherent, linear style associated with memoirs. In Winterson’s fiction, she constantly manipulates the boundary between fantasy and reality, integrating personal experience, mythology, and philosophy into a fluid conglomeration. Although Why Be Happy does feature some of Winterson’s trademark structural experimentation, it is also an engrossing story about one woman’s experience of dysfunction, madness, violence, love, and religion.
Peter Friedman has been training as a baseball pitcher his entire life. He and his best friend A.J. have always planned on making and dominating their high school team. But you can't always count on your plans to work out. Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip is one teen's journey to figure out what Plan B is.