Sunday, November 29, 2009

Staff Recommendation: That Bird Has My Wings

Confucius said: "Only when the year turns cold do you find that the pine and the cypress are the last to lose their leaves." Someone who can achieve profound Buddhist spiritual development on San Quentin's death row is surely an exceptional man. This is his harrowing memoir. Forward by Pema Chodron.

That Bird Has My Wings by Jarvis Jay Masters
Reviewed by Digs

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Ansel Adams in Color

That's right: who knew that back in the 30s one of the first people to experiment with Kodachrome was Ansel Adams. Previously unpublished, in these photographs we can more vividly experience his glorious eye as we share his palpable joy in exploring this new medium. Open it anywhere, and see.

Ansel Adams in Color edited by John Shaefer
Reviewed by Digs

Friday, November 27, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Homer & Langley

Not only is this novel about an intriguing subject—the mysterious and eccentric Collyer brothers—but Doctorow moves beyond the historical and mythological accounts of these infamous hermits to unearth, with dignity and compassion, their more intimate, hidden lives. He brings you in among their occasional relationships as well as the detritus of their lives.

Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow
Reviewed by Alyssa

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Her Fearful Symmetry

The author of The Time Traveler's Wife returns with another riveting novel about the endurance of love: a ghost story, set in and around Highgate Cemetery, that is both romantic and eerie. Elspeth’s death and afterlife unite a cast of intriguing, troubled characters: her former lover; her estranged twin sister's twin daughters; and a crossword-puzzle creator.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Reviewed by Alyssa

Monday, November 23, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

It is magical to come across the right book at the right time, because you can see that transformation is on its way. The abandonment and/or engulfment of narcissistic mothers leaves deep scars on their daughters, and as Dr. McBride relates in this book, such scars remain for a long time and permeates every single aspect of the daughters life, without their knowledge of it. And yet, this book is not about victims. It is about empowering.

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? by Karyl McBride
Reviewed by Helena Bolduc

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Staff Recommendation: The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles

This true story of Hala Jaber, a Lebanese reporter in Iraq, casts light into the darkest corners of a world where even hope struggles. Hala, suddenly faced with the lives of two orphan girls, is left holding the weight of their futures. As time runs out, she must learn to accept the Iraqi people's pain as her own. Powerful, and brutally honest, Jaber's story should be read by all.

The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles by Hala Jaber
Reviewed by Mari

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Animals Make Us Human

Temple Grandin is autistic and processes information in much the same way as animals. From this unique standpoint, and with an impressive back round in animal science and activism, Grandin's book show us how we can best interact with animals if we understand the emotions that motivate them. A must-read author for animal lovers!

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin
Reviewed by Cesa

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Farmer John's Cookbook

Peterson is the owner of the Angelic Organics CSA farm outside of Chicago. This goldmine of a cookbook has information on seasonal veggies and plenty of delicious recipes. Unlike ordinary cookbooks, Peterson peppers his pages with everything from nutritional advice to funny things he's recently overheard around town. This book is the ultimate resource for the locavore cook.

Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables by Farmer John Peterson
Reviewed by Jennifer R.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Staff Recommendation: What Was She Thinking?

Barbara, a matronly history teacher, leads an unremarkable life until Sheba, the beautiful and interesting new art teacher, chooses Barbara as a confidante. Barbara journals about their relationship in excruciating detail. When it comes to light that Sheba is having an affair with a 15-year-old student, Barbara's diary becomes a telling portrait of both women.

What Was She Thinking? by Zoe Heller
Reviewed by Jennifer R.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Infidel

This story of a Somali woman who fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage is unequivocally amazing. The knowledge that things such as female circumcision and beatings happen may be common, but the enlightening fact she presents is that they happen here too. Hirsi Ali started a movement that made me rethink my views on tolerance.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Reviewed by Chris

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Merlin's Dragon: Doomraga's Revenge by T.A. Barron

Since the end of Merlin's Dragon, Basil and Merlin have become close friends, able to communicate telepathically with each other. They have teamed up to address the growing unrest in their beloved home of Avalon. Since Avalon was created in order that creatures could live together in peace, the mounting tensions are troubling both Merlin and Basil greatly. The fire dragons and dwarves have had several arguments, most of them resulting in violence and death, trolls have come out of their dormancy to terrorize villages, and even peaceful animals like the birds of Airroot have erupted in fighting with each other. Merlin and Basil finally decide that these incidents are not merely coincidental, but are somehow related.

Unbeknownst to them, an agent of Rhita Gawr is growing in power far away in the Haunted Marsh in Woodroot. He has now given himself a name: Doomraga, which means "darker than dark." Having been thwarted once by Basil, he is waiting and growing in the marsh until the day when he grows strong enough to seek his revenge on Basil and Dagda.

Meanwhile, Merlin and Basil continue to settle the problems that arise among their fellow inhabitants of Avalon. Merlin is facing more and more problems everyday, not only in the larger world, but also within his family. Merlin's troubles are further aggravated when his sister informs him of a terrible blight plaguing the realm of Woodroot, destroying all forms of life. He and Basil must bring an end to this blight of the forest realm and prevent Doomraga from succeeding in his evil quest.

This installation of the Merlin's Dragon series offers adventure, thrills, incredible tension, new friends and old friends, and an overarching battle of good versus evil. Basil's incredible transformation from a small, lizard-like creature to the most powerful dragon in Avalon has not affected his enormous heart or his humility. He faces both the challenge of keeping the peace of his beloved world and the challenge of helping his friend Merlin to cure the blight of Woodroot. Can Basil live up to his size in bravery? Can he save his home realm of Woodroot? Can he prevent Avalon from slipping into chaos and evil?

Join us TONIGHT, Tuesday, November 10th at 6:30pm at the Boulder Book Store where T.A. Barron will be speaking about and signing Doomraga's Revenge.

Reviewed by: Jackie Ariniello

Monday, November 9, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

It is rare that I read a novel and am so entirely swept away by the language, that the content becomes secondary. That said, the story being woven by the beautiful thread of Moore's writing is insightful, relatable, and endlessly human. Everyone can find something to love here, whether it be the musings on love & aging, or the lovely way she describes the world.

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore
Reviewed by Stephanie W.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Staff Recommendation: The Lost Symbol

Yes, it's a great yarn, but in the end you'll have tears in your eyes because the lore Dan Brown delivers is so beautiful, so profound, and, in its own way, so pro-American. The Lost Symbol recovers patriotism for visionaries. Pass it on.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Reviewed by Digs

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Hurry Down Sunshine

One afternoon, without warning, Michael Greenberg's 15 year-old daughter comes unhinged. Once an intelligent and creative teen, Sally becomes driven by an obsessive vision, and Greenberg is faced with a decision no parent should have to confront. Hurry Down Sunshine will take its place among classics such as Girl Interrupted and Bell Jar. A surefire conversation-starter for bookclubs.

Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg
Reviewed by Scott

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Merlin's Dragon by T.A. Barron

"Dedicated to my children, Ben and Larkin, and their friend, Lucile--who asked two simple questions: 'What really happened between The Lost Years of Merlin and The Great Tree of Avalon?' and 'Who was Merlin's most bizarre friend?'"

The dedication for Merlin's Dragon captures exactly what the book is about. Merlin has planted the seed that will become the Great Tree of Avalon, a new world that will essentially replace the lost land of Fincayra as a world between worlds. At the same time, however, something else was born. As Merlin plants Avalon's seed, a small egg lands nearby. This egg, in Avalon's first year, hatches in Woodroot, one of the seven root realms of the Great Tree. From it comes a small creature, somewhat like a lizard and somewhat like a bat. He is small, but his destiny is great.

This little creature eventually discovers a special power of his: he can produce different scents. One day while hiding from a predator, he makes himself smell like a nearby patch of basil to conceal himself. Thus he acquires the name Basil. He knows little of the magic that lies within him, and he also knows little about who he really is. In his young years living in the forests of Woodroot, Basil spends most of his time being chased by foxes, snakes, and dactylbirds, who all think he would make a delicious meal. But Basil has a favorite pastime: listening to other creatures' gossip. He learns some, though not much, about the outside world. For example, he hears tales of Shim, the famous giant, and Gwynnia, the fierce dragon, and most of all, the great wizard, Merlin.

One night Basil dreams that Merlin is being attacked by a giant creature with wings and bat-like ears. When he awakens, Basil thinks the creature might kill Merlin--and also thinks the creature could be himself. Driven by his desire to warn Merlin of his dream, and to learn more about the world--and himself--Basil decides to journey outside the small corner of his forest. Immediately he comes upon a portal and, quite by accident, ends up in a realm away from his own--Stoneroot.

While there, Dagda, the ruler of the gods of the spirit realm, gives Basil a great task: to warn all of Avalon that Rhita Gawr, the most powerful evil spirit, has come to the mortal world to conquer it, and most importantly to find and warn Merlin himself. Basil then sets out on a journey with his lifelong friend, the windsister Aylah, who carries him to the seven root realms of Avalon in search of the illustrious wizard. Along the way, perhaps, Basil will find his true identity and discover a greater purpose to his small existence.

Written with the uncanny wit and skill of T.A. Barron, Merlin's Dragon takes readers to a world beyond their wildest dreams. Barron's immense imagination has once again created a unique and original character in Basil who is sympathetic and kind, adventurous and humble. Basil's journey is one we all take in an attempt to find our place in the world and to truly appreciate how unique each of us is. Younger readers will love the adventure, the fun and interesting creatures, and adults will love the depth and meaning of the story. This book takes Barron fans back to the beginning of Avalon, when Merlin is still a young wizard, and when several of your favorite Fincayra characters appear again. Travel through the seven root realms with Basil and Aylah to discover the mystery, the magic, and the mists of the Great Tree of Avalon.

Join us at the Boulder Bookstore on Tuesday, November 10th at 6:30pm for an event with T.A. Barron, who will be talking about and signing Doomraga's Revenge, his exciting new sequel to Merlin's Dragon.

Reviewed by Jackie Ariniello

Monday, November 2, 2009

Staff Recommendation: The Yiddish Policemen's Union

This is another great novel by one of my favorite writers. This book takes on a murder mystery format, set in the forgotten Jewish community in Sitka, Alaska that is about to be re-integrated into the U.S. system, disrupting everything in the lives of the residents. As a seemingly insignificant murder is investigated, however, disturbing connections are uncovered that affect all of Sitka.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union
by Michael Chabon
Reviewed by Stephanie W.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Just Like Us

Denver journalist (wife of Denver’s Mayor Hickenlooper) chronicles the lives of four young Mexican women, two legal and two undocumented, from their senior year of high school through college. Though they share a common heritage their lives are very different because of their legal status. Thorpe offers incredible insight into one of the most complex issues facing our nation.

Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe
Reviewed by Sally Laventure