Doc Martin is a surgeon that develops a fear of blood! So begins this British television drama that has won numerous comedy awards. Martin Clunes stars as Dr. Martin Ellingham, a brilliant vascular surgeon who must give up his successful career in London. He begins a new career as a general practitioner in the sleepy seaside village, Portwenn, where he spent his vacations as a child with his aunt. Martin is a doctor without a warm bedside manner. His impossibly cold, gruff and no nonsense manner is the mainstay for much humor as he deals with eccentric backward villagers and falls for the pretty, local school teacher. If you like to laugh, you will love following this really funny British series. Manhattan Public Library owns all five television series plus the made for tv movies produced in 2011.
Celaena Sardothien was betrayed by someone close to her, and as the best assassin in Adarlan, she was sentenced to hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier, as good as a death sentence, after being caught. When the crown prince offers her a way out of the salt mines in exchange for being his candidate for champion to the king, she has no choice but to accept or remain in the mines to die. The only possible outcomes: win or return to the mines. The crown prince, Dorian, and his captain of the guards and best friend, Chaol, get to know Celaena. She is a complicated young woman as a very talented assassin, someone who loves beautiful things, an avid reader, and a young person who still sees the world with optimism rather than being jaded by her deadly profession. Throne of Glass is more than just a love story, this complex novel is filled with intrigue, complicated characters, and a bit of magic.
by Sally John
Hearing about earthquakes is disturbing, but when Teal sees the highway fall right before her eyes, it is a life changing experience. Of course the first thing one would do is reach for the cell phone and call your loved ones. Lines are jammed and towers are down, so Teal isn’t able to make a connection with her husband, River, or daughter, Maiya. When she finally has reception, she receives the news that River is in the hospital. Of course they survive all the trauma, but it brings about questions that Teal would rather leave unanswered. Maiya wants to know who her biological father is. Teal has never told anyone, not even the father. It’s a door she was hoping to keep shut forever. Teal’s own family, sister, brother, mom, stepdad, and her own father who left and never came back, has been estranged. But now that trouble has come to them, she must return to her home town and face issues she’s hidden away for far too long. Sally John delivers a touching story about life’s unexpected detours and the courage it takes to erase the lies that can echo in our hearts.
Lately we’re hearing about a great deal of local interest in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. In fact, this newspaper recently ran Chris Banner’s review of that 2010 title. Readers who have read the book know that on one level, it can be approached as the personal account of a woman’s death as a result of cervical cancer. On another level, there’s the phenomenal extent to which her cancer cells have been used in the last sixty years to combat other ailments like polio. On yet another level, there are the inevitable ethical questions about the harvesting and the sharing of human tissue without patient consent. Perhaps it’s the last concern, the ethical treatment of patients, which accounts for so many strong reader reactions about the book’s contents.
I just finished reading this book, and I found that I really struggled to finish it. It’s not that it was badly written or that the content was dry; in fact, the book was fascinating in a gut-wrenchingly painful way. I struggled with the revelation of the many awful situations it conveyed. The appalling series of treatments to which Henrietta, a black woman from Baltimore, was subjected (the radium implants and the heavy doses of radiation that she suffered) were shocking. The fact that various tissue samples (designated as “HeLa cells”) were harvested without the family’s permission during her autopsy, let alone the manner in which the samples were shared and later sold commercially, was repugnant. And the gradual awareness on the part of the Lacks family that Henrietta’s tissue had attained a state of “immortality” was truly disheartening.
Why the local attention some two years after initial publication?
The K-State Book Network, the all-university reading program, selected this title as the 2012-2013 school year common reader. Committee members made this choice based on the book’s variety of discussion topics and its easy availability in different formats, among other criteria. The university kickoff ceremony was held early last spring, but there is ample time to attend one of several book-related events yet to occur.
One such event is scheduled for Thursday, September 20th, at 7:00 p.m., in the K-State Union Ballroom. Attendees are invited to share a visit with the Lacks family. Another event is scheduled for Wednesday, October 10th, at 7:00 p.m., in the K-State Union Forum Hall. At that time, guest speaker Yvonne Reid, PhD, Manager and Scientist in Cell Culture Contracts, will address the aspects of biological research impacted by HeLa cells. Her address is entitled “HeLa Cells and Biomedical Research: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” A third event will take place on Tuesday, October 30th, at 7:00 p.m., in the Hale Library Hemisphere Room. The topic for the evening is “Speaking the Silences: Women and Race in Kansas.” Each of these events is free and open to the public.
Manhattan Public Library is also hosting a related event. The library auditorium has been reserved on Tuesday, September 18th, at 7:00 p.m., for a discussion of the book. Dr. Irma O’Dell, Senior Associate Director for Administration/ Associate Professor of the School of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University, will be the facilitator for the evening. This event is also free and open to the public.
If you have not yet read this worthy book, you still have time to do so. Manhattan Public Library has multiple copies of the Skloot book in a variety of formats. Beyond print copies, also available in large print format, there are books on cd and a loanable book kit available for book groups. MPL also has website links that will allow cardholders to download both audiobooks and ebooks of the title.
Again, this is not enjoyable reading, but in an age of explosive medical advancements and ethical dilemmas about sharing information and tissue samples, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a necessary reminder of human dignity and responsibility. I would strongly encourage you to explore this book and to actively seek answers to your own questions about the contents.
by Dave Ihlenfeld
You’ve heard of Oscar Mayer hotdogs, but have you seen an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and did you get a wiener whistle? For some reason I missed out on meeting up with the Hotdoggers that took a year out of their schedules for the privilege of driving a 27 foot long hotdog around the country. Dave humorously shares his teams experience as they drive this monstrosity of a Wienermobile around the country. One incident happened at a Walmart store: three of the four team members made the decision to run into the store. Dave thought they were nuts, so he decided to just walk in. Well, after returning to the mobile innumerable times to get yet one more person a wiener whistle, he decided they weren’t quite so nutty after all. He did finally make it into the store. They traveled California, Louisiana at Mardi Gras (where Dave ended up in jail), and finally Dave finished his year with one other team member traveling over seas to drive the Wienermobile in Germany and Italy. Dog Days is an exciting action fulled journey you’ll not soon forget.
Delirium is the first book of a trilogy published in January 2011 by Lauren Oliver. If you like dystopian fiction, then try this series. Lena lives in a new America, where love has become a disease that nobody wants to catch. Luckily, scientists have figured out a surgical procedure that cures this deadly illness. Unfortunately, it is too dangerous to undergo this operation until you turn eighteen. To avoid catching the “delirium” Lena’s life, and everyone else’s, is strictly controlled. Everyone must follow the Book of Shhh (The Safety, Health, and Happiness handbook) and carefully avoid everyone of the opposite sex. Lena’s life has always been complicated. Her mother committed suicide when she was six because of the Delirium. Since then she has been living with her aunt, uncle and cousins, spending time with her best friend Hana, and being careful to watch out for signs of the disease. Then, with only 95 days to go until her cure, Lena meets Alex, and begins to question everything that society has taught her. Will she continue her controlled, safe life or choose to search out the “Invalids” who have rebelled against society and are constantly in danger of losing their lives. Pandemonium is book number two in the series and equally as good as the first. Book number 3, Requiem, is due to be released in March. And for those who enjoy the books, the movie rights have been acquired by Fox 2000.
Louise Brooks was a beautiful silent-film star from Wichita, Kansas who began her career in New York City studying dance at the tender age of 15. Her mother arranged a chaperone to accompany Louise to the glitzy, cosmopolitan city. Laura Moriarty’s latest book, The Chaperone, tells the story of Louise Brooks, but centers on the secret life behind Cora Carlisle, her chaperone. Cora leaves her husband to accompany the troubled and talented Louise for one purpose, to find out more about her background and her first memories of a dark-haired women in a red shawl at ‘The Home for Friendless Girls’. Cora was one of the lucky orphans who came west on an orphan train as she was chosen by a loving Kansas farm couple. Now as a proper, society wife her secret is tugging at her very being.
The history of the war years in Wichita when the city was doubling in population at an amazing rate as the center of the air industry is a fascinating part of the story
More and more I talk to adults who are reading Young Adult literature. A phenomenon which delights me to no end! It is great to see those beyond their teen years read materials aimed at teens. I believe it is a testament to the quality, variety, and pure number of materials now being produced for teen readers. Many times, with teen and adult readers alike, the problem is finding that next title that will truly interest them and keep them coming back.
Earlier this summer, I was sent a link by a colleague for a graphic titled “Are You New to YA?” It was a flow chart plotting recommended books, series, and authors for those who have dipped their toe into the endless pool that is YA fiction but don’t know where to go now. I was so excited to see all of the great recommendations it contained and the possibilities it would open up for readers looking for something new. The chart was posted on the book review blog stackedbooks.org. The site states that it reviews “books for readers while simultaneously enticing non-readers to think about reading in fun and interesting ways.” Founders of the blog include: Kimberly Francisco – “a public librarian with a weakness for genre fiction”; Kelly Jensen – “a compulsive consumer of all things books and blogs”; and Jen Petro-Roy – “a voracious reader and 17 at heart.” The three review a wide variety of genres, styles, and formats, including audio and digital books, videos, music, zines, graphic novels, and more. The “Are You New to YA” chart was featured in a column that runs a few times a month, called “So You Want to Read YA” which is written by guest authors to the blog. This particular post was contributed by the creators of another book blog, www.thereadventurer.com. Below is the introduction to the chart by “The Readventurers,” Catie, Flannery and Tatiana.
The three of us have only been blogging together for a short time and we’ve never actually met in real life, but all of us are around the same age (in the adult years…other than that we’re not commenting) and we all love to read young adult literature. In fact, that’s pretty much what brought us together – that and an obsessive love of Goodreads.com.
They came to the conclusion, that most adults enter the YA arena through one of three avenues:
a) Harry Potter
I also find this to be true. Most often it is because of the pop-culture popularity of these series. All have been among the best-selling books for weeks and even years, they all have movies based on the books, and they all seem to appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests. These three series have helped to break down whatever barriers or stereotypes may have been in place in regards to teen fiction. Catie, Flannery and Tatiana say they wanted to use these three entry points to help readers be able to explore further into YA.
The journey through the chart begins with one simple question – Are You New to YA?
Where you go from there is based on one of three answers: Yes; I’ve tried one or two but I want to try more!; and No, it’s old hat to me.
From there it is a matter of deciding on what genres, themes, and quirks of books appeal most to the reader. With lots of stand-alone titles, series, and authors on the chart, almost anyone should be able to find something that would appeal to them. More often than not, there are two or more recommendations along the way.
This is a sample of a pathway search I did:
Are You New to YA?
I’ve tried one or two but I want to try more!
Do you want to read more dystopian?
Fine, we wanted to work harder anyway! Which of these genres do you prefer?
We’re assuming you’ve read The Book Thief?
Interestingly, I don’t believe I’ve ever read either of these authors! So, even for someone who has read many, many YA books, there is something new to be found.
Click here to see the complete flow-chart. This is such a great tool, I know I will be using it to get recommendation ideas in the future.
In Nora Roberts’ latest suspense novel The Witness, Elizabeth Fitch is a teenager with a very unique upbringing–she is a genius, ready to enter Harvard Medical School at 17, and has been raised by her controlling and distant mother. Resentful that she has never expperienced any kind of teen lifestyle, Elizabeth rebels against her mother’s directives and when left alone at home, she heads to a nightclub with a friend. After dancing, drinking and meeting a handsome Russian nightclub owner, she leaves the club with him and faces a terrifying experience that will change her life forever.
Twelve years later, she is living as Abigail in a small town in the Ozarks, where she keeps to herself and works from her home designing security software. She is an object of speculation by the local residents, and her reserved manner sparks the interest of the local police chief, Brooks. He suspects she has a hidden past and as he comes to know her, hopes she can learn to trust him with her secrets. As Abigail opens up to Brooks, she must face her past and decide whether she wants to just live or to have a life.
Roberts has created a novel with well-drawn, likeable characters that the reader comes to care about. The details of small-town life, the contrasts drawn to show the differences in families and the suspense created as Abigail must contend with her past in order to move forward with her life all combine to make this a gripping and intense story.
Based on the first book–Game of Thrones– in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy saga A Song of Fire and Ice, the award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones is an epic story of violence, war, family, treachery and murder. Filled with scheming families, mysterious lands and intrigue at court in the mythical land of Westeros, HBO has created a sweeping fantasy series. The plot is intricate but the DVD set is accompanied by extras that include descriptions of family relationships, the Seven Kingdoms, maps and other information to assist viewers who have not read the book series. Visually stunning and filled with atmosphere, the film sets are detailed and costumes are lavish, with actors that bring the huge cast of characters vividly to life. The series has won many awards, including Golden Globe and Emmy Awards for Best Television series. Watch the series then read the books while you wait for the DVD set of Season 2 to be released. * Explicit sex and violence make this a series for mature audiences.*
The long hot days from late July through August have been known as the Dog Days of summer since ancient times, when the proximity of Sirius, the Dog Star, to the sun at that time of year was believed to cause of the hottest days of the year and all the evil thereof. This year our Dog Days have set new records for high temperatures and duration, causing us grave discomfort and occasionally short tempers, so this August especially is a good time to pour a tall, cold drink and read something short, light, and quirky. Try something from this list of books that take unexpected subjects and make them delightfully entertaining.
Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield. For over 500 years the printed word has surrounded us, usually without our appreciating the artistry and graphic nuances of the typefaces we see. With the arrival of the IBM Selectric typewriter and its revolutionary changeable typeballs in 1961, this began to change. Suddenly, an ordinary individual was able to change the typeface on a document at will and creative sensibilities were piqued, although at the time our choices were limited to such sober typefaces as Courier or Prestige Elite. Just over 20 years later, Steve Jobs marketed the first MacIntosh computer with a selection of typeface choices and suddenly “font” became a household word and the creation of new and more evocative typefaces exploded. Now there are fonts for every emotion and message. We all have our favorite classic fonts – Helvetica, Goudy Old Style, Albertus – and some fonts have acquired the stature of pop cultural icons. There are even a few fonts – Papyrus, Brush Script, Comic Sans – that have caused the occasional online “font war” or have been reviled for misuse or overuse. This amusing and enlightening book will introduce you to the social history of type design and the words we see all around us.
In Praise of Chickens: A Compendium of Wisdom Fair and Fowl by Pulitzer-prize nominee Jane S. Smith offers a sublime escape into poultry lore galore. A bright and sunny book of chicken history and trivia with excerpts and quotations from Aristotle to Twain, filled with antique illustrations and handsome portraits of chicken breeds, this small book is a summer delight.
In London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets, Peter Ackroyd, prolific author, historian, and biographer, tells tales of the thousands of years of history buried beneath the streets of London. Underground rivers, forgotten prisons, buried monasteries, ancient sewers and canals, Roman galleys, Anglo-Saxon graves, hideouts, tunnels and shelters, creatures of the underworld real and surreal – all appear in their own time and context in this absorbing and atmospheric book.
Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey. If you’re a Person of a Certain Age like me, you may remember diagramming sentences on the blackboard for your sixth or seventh grade teacher (requiescat in pace, Miss Johnston of MJHS). Diagramming was introduced to American schools in 1877 as a standard technique for teaching grammar and it endured through most of the 20th Century before being largely abandoned. Sentence diagramming was a way to visually depict the structure of sentences, a cross between puzzle-solving and graphic design. It was an illuminating and effective way to learn grammar and an oddly satisfying mental exercise. In this charming and humorous book, author Florey revisits her own memories of sentence diagramming and the challenges, elegance, and clarity offered by this forgotten skill.
Good to Go: A Guide to Preparing for the End of Life by Jo Myers. What?! A book about dying that’s quirky and light? Yes, and it’s fun to read as well. Myers offers practical advice and a basic template for preparing for the end of life, your own or another’s, with acceptance and love. With chapter headings like “Making an Ash of Yourself” and “Let’s Put the Fun Back in Funeral,” this book offers reassurance and encouragement with tenderness and humor.
Lyle Lovett is coming to McCain! My heart is all aflutter. There’s nothing in the world like that man’s voice. He’s been considered a Country & Western singer, but his music is really a mix of Country, Blues, and Rock. Lately I’ve been listening to his Live in Texas album, over & over & over. Recordings of live performances in the late 90s, Live in Texas highlights the amazing talents of his Large Band as they perform Lovett classics like “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas)” and “She’s No Lady.” Lovett is never easy to classify, but always easy to appreciate.
It is the quietest time of year in Manhattan. Most of the summer activities have come to an end and we still have some time before the energy of returning students and school starting up. The recent heat has caused us all to be a bit wilted. A good laugh can help you through the end-of-summer doldrums so you can be cheerful when all our new residents come pouring in.
You might have heard of Lisa Scottoline’s suspense novels. What is less well known is that she partners with her daughter to write nonfiction that will crack you up. Her latest, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: the Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter talks about the close and challenging relationships in families, while making sure to see the humor in life. Another nonfiction favorite is Bill Bryson, known best for his travel memoirs. Whether he’s on a trip across the pond in Notes from a Small Island or traveling back in time with The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid Bryson’s work is known for causing annoyance to those near readers because of the constant chuckling and the repeated phrase “You’ve got to hear this.”
Romance is a genre ripe with scenarios of people making idiots of themselves for our reading enjoyment. In Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D’Alessandro, Jamie Newman escapes New York for the beach in an attempt to regroup after a failed relationship, only to face a run-down shack, an ever-present family, and a difficult (but of course attractive) neighbor/landlord. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig takes us back to the French Revolution with the story of Amy Balcourt. Amy heads out to France with hopes to become a spy with the league of the Purple Gentian. Secrets, misunderstandings, and clumsy spying attempts don’t bode well for her career, but the Purple Gentian finds that he wants her close by anyway.
If you like your romance heavy on the humor but light on spice, you might like these Christian authors. A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist tells the story of Washington settler Joe Denton who needs a wife to keep his land and Ana Ivey who unknowingly signs off as a bride when she just hopes to escape to the west to find a job cooking. Full of witty dialogue and likeable characters, Gist’s books are a treat. In Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake, Lady Syndey Hathwell escapes to her long lost uncle’s ranch disguised as a man. Ranch manager Tim Creighton is disgusted by his new ranch hand’s hardworking but inept and weak attempts to live up to his expectations.
For humor with a more mysterious turn, you might try The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, takes up the case when characters suddenly begin to disappear from great works of literature. A mix of fantasy and mystery is delightfully witty. Alan Bradley takes you into the world of the engaging Flavia de Luce, eleven year old chemist in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. When she discovers a dying man in the garden, she revels in the joy of investigation.
Some of us like our humor to be a little otherworldly. In A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, neurotic hypochondriac and recent widower, Charlie Asher, is faced with the challenges of a new baby and a new and unwanted job as a merchant of death. Scott Rockwell has adapted Terry Pratchett’s Discworld into Graphic Novel format, maintaining the bizarrely humorous feel from the original novels about a parallel world that rests on the backs of four elephants balanced on a giant turtle hurtling through space.
When the hot, slow days start to get you down, just remember the words of MarkTwain, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
Rory Mackenzie has returned home to Ransom River and is serving on a jury when two gunmen enter the courtroom and hold the jury, judge and spectators hostage, with a siege that begins a long, nightmarish ordeal for Rory. She is singled out by the gunmen and later accused by police of being an accomplice in their crime. Surrounded by a dysfunctional family and unsure of whom to trust, Rory must race to uncover the reasons for the courtroom violence and to discover why she has been made the target of attacks. Edgar Award-winning author Gardiner has created a taut, complex, fast-paced novel filled with action and suspense–one that will keep you guessing until the end.
Jennifer Pharr Davis spent four months hiking the Appalachian Trail after her college graduation. How many women would wear the same pair of socks for days on end while hiking mostly on her own for 2,175 miles, encountering moose, rattlesnakes, armies of bugs, lightning storms, blizzards, rain and hail? Unlike her fellow hiker, Cheryl Strayed whom I wrote about in the review, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Jennifer chose to backpack with a lighter pack getting along without the best equipment. Her trials were similar but her background was far less ‘wild’, coming from a stable southern Christian family. Jennifer’s experiences with people she meets along the way are funny, frightening and an education. Her miles traveled per day seemed nearly impossible to me. The second time she hiked the AT she set the fastest record for men or women on thru-hikes averaging 47 miles per day. This book is a great motivator to get outside and enjoy nature while you exercise!