Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Best of 2014: More multiple choice

Some of the many items [old and new] enjoyed by Burbank Public Library staff during 2014, recommended for your consideration:

Thank goodness for Goodreads, which helps me recall what I thought of the many books I read during the course of the year--but picking just one? Not going to happen! Here, therefore, is my list of favorites, categorized and (briefly) explained:


The Painter, by Peter Heller
This book pairs thoughtful, in-depth musing about life's tragedies and how we react to them with breathless scenes of action worthy of the latest blockbuster thriller. If you imagined the perfect combination of literary and popular fiction, this would be it. And it's about a painter, which influenced my choice. 

The Gravity of Birds,
by Tracy Guzeman
This is a fairly simple story, and simply written, yet the complexity of human emotions and betrayals involved made it intricate and nuanced. And art is also a component in this book. 

I Love You More, by Jennifer Murphy
You could put this in mystery, but it seemed more like mainstream fiction to me, even though there's a murder. I especially loved the alternating narrative split between the detective, "the wives" as an entity (which could have been too precious but wasn't), and 11-year-old Picasso Lane. 


The Secret Place, by Tana French
In my opinion, Tana French's books are brilliant, thorough and intimate character studies, they are rife with a burgeoning sense of place, and the story-telling is riveting. (Can I say, though, that the cover on this one irritated me, since "the secret place" is a bulletin board?!)

The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith
"Galbraith" pulls off another great mystery. The dynamic between Cormoran Strike and girl Friday Robin continues to grow and change, while their individual relationships shift; the missing person case morphs into something more deadly; and I didn't guess the solution until the author revealed it. I hear there are going to be five more books--goodie! 

To Dwell in Darkness, by Deborah Crombie

I love Crombie's books about Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Detective Sergeant Gemma James--the intertwined lives of all the regulars, and now the new people she is introducing with Duncan's move to a different police station. The mystery was riveting, and I didn't suspect the killer until well towards the end. A dynamic series. 


Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal
This is a weird little book. It has all the trappings of a fairy tale, set in the (sort of) modern day. It's not for everyone, but some will greatly appreciate its beautiful writing and storytelling. It's been billed as a middle-grade fantasy, but I think it's far too creepy and would instead call it an adult fantasy with a teen protagonist. 

Among Others, by Jo Walton

Another book that's not for everyone--but for those lucky few…wow. I don't wonder that it won the Hugo and Nebula awards. I put it in fantasy because of the faerie/magical elements, but you really have to love science fiction to love this book. Which I do. 


Vicious, by V. E. Schwab
This was a confusing, frustrating, sensational book. The hero/protagonist has no redeeming qualities, and yet you root for him. The villain terms himself the hero, and you see his vulnerability and his delusion and want to like him, and yet you can't. On the surface, the plot is a comic book--ExtraOrdinary people (EOs) who have impossible abilities--but there the comparison ends, because they go around using their abilities, not for good, but for their own advantage and to others' detriment. A great exercise of "what if?"

More Than This, by Patrick Ness

This was the post-apocalyptic Matrix meets the Terminator, with some Ready Player One thrown in. I didn't love it, but I greatly admired its concept and philosophy.


I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
The relationships between brother and sister, parents and children, and love interests are all complex and filled with joy and pain, but told in such a fresh, smart, different way. This isn't a typical "teen angst" story--the adults have a place on the page too, and this enriches the story without taking it over. And the touches of magical realism give it an added quirky charm.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands,

by Chris Bohjalian
This is an immensely personal dystopian story about one girl--the daughter of a Vermont nuclear power plant engineer. He gets the blame for a meltdown that turns half of Vermont into a radioactive wasteland, and she experiences, pardon the pun, the fallout. It is realistic, it is present-day, and it is chilling on many levels, not the least of which is its portrayal of how young lives can fall through the cracks of our society, and no one notices or cares.

Sinner, by Maggie Stiefvater
This was the spin-off of Stiefvater's werewolves trilogy (Shiver, Linger, Forever) about Isabel and Cole, off in Los Angeles--Isabel trying to survive her toxic family while fitting in with the pretty people, and Cole recreating himself as a musician by getting clean and sober and booking himself on a reality TV show that follows him around while he cuts a new album. But his real reason for coming to Los Angeles, says Cole, is to reunite with Isabel. Wistful sigh.

Gracefully Grayson, by Ami Polonsky (LGBT)
Written from the viewpoint of a sixth grader, this book really reads like it's from the mind of a child who is struggling with his image of who he is. He's largely inarticulate about it, because that's how many children are. He comes to realizations through a combination of cues of self-awareness, flashes of insight handed to him from the reactions of others, and a little guidance, both voluntary and involuntary, from the adults in his life. The evolution is wonderful to watch, and the outcome is so satisfying. In my opinion, an important book.

(You can click on the link to each book to find out where you can find a copy at Burbank Public Library.)

Chosen by EMME, teen librarian

Monday, December 22, 2014

Best of 2014: Historical fiction

One of the many items [old and new] enjoyed by Burbank Public Library staff during 2014, recommended for your consideration:

From the author of The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings is historical fiction based on the lives of Sarah 
Grimk√©, a 19th-century abolitionist, and her slave, Hetty, who was given to Sarah as a gift for her 11th birthday. The story continued until they were well into middle age and were forced to confront their own sets of trials. Sue Monk Kidd takes the story of these two women and establishes a relationship and an unbreakable bond, for the next 30 years of their lives.

I loved this book because of the great history lessons that increased my awareness of the role the Grimk√© sisters played in the abolition and women's rights movements.

Chosen by Ethel D., reference librarian

Sunday, December 21, 2014

This week at the library...

On WEDNESDAY, December 24, all branches of Burbank Public Library close early at 5 p.m. for Christmas Eve.

The libraries are CLOSED on THURSDAY, December 25, for Christmas Day. The libraries all reopen for their regular hours on FRIDAY and SATURDAY.

December 27
Buena Vista branch, 2:00 p.m.
(in the story time room)

48 minutes

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Best of 2014: Suspense

One of the many items [old and new] enjoyed by Burbank Public Library staff during 2014, recommended for your consideration:

After seeing several favorable reviews, I decided to read Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia. One reviewer described this work as Glee meets Agatha Christie meets The Shining, and that got my attention! The book definitely has elements of all three, but fortunately for me it is not really a horror book, but a wonderful blend of suspense and humorous drama.

The story begins at the Bellweather Hotel, where a young girl who is a bridesmaid in her sister's wedding is witness to a horrific crime. Then the story picks up many years later when the girl, now an adult, returns to the scene to try to get past her childhood trauma. Meanwhile, that same weekend the old Bellweather Hotel is host to a statewide high school musical event. This brings many eccentric personalities to the hotel, who are then all trapped together due to inclement weather. A new crime occurs, and as the story unfolds the suspense builds as we find out how different events from the past tie in with current happenings. There were many surprises and twists and turns, which I always enjoy in a mystery novel, as well as humor to break the tension. This is a stand-alone mystery.

At the Central Library, on the New Books shelf.

Chosen by Diane M., Technical Services

Friday, December 19, 2014

Best of 2014: Teen Fantasy

One of the many items [old and new] enjoyed by Burbank Public Library staff during 2014, recommended for your consideration:

Heir of Fire
by Sarah J. Maas
YA Fantasy – Book three of a series

Sent away from the kingdom for her own safety, Celaena discovers a connection to her past. This truth about her life will change her future forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Can Celaena find the strength to fight both her inner demons and the evil that is unleashed?

Usually, these series peter out, but this is the BEST so far in the series. Each book gets better. This one was so fabulous that I devoured it in two nights. I lost sleep, something I am unwilling to do for almost anything, because I could not put it down. Could not.

Chosen by Jennifer B., circulation clerk

Editor's note: The first two books in this series are Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight. You can find them at the Central and Buena Vista branches, in the Young Adult section.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best of 2014: Multiple Choice

Some of the many items [old and new] enjoyed by Burbank Public Library staff during 2014, recommended for your consideration:

An avid reader who couldn't choose just one! Here are Daryl's faves for 2014:


The Martian, by Andy Weir
First-time author Andy Weir takes the classic survival novel off-planet, pitting his very likeable astronaut, Mark Watney, against the red planet Mars. Will Watney be able to survive long enough on his limited resources to be rescued—when the soonest possible attempt is years away? As enjoyable as it is suspenseful, The Martian is a must-read!

The Severed Streets, by Paul Cornell
In the follow-up to last year’s London Falling, Cornell continues the story of a team of London police detectives now able to see the paranormal underpinnings of their city. While they are still learning to adjust and adapt to this power, a series of murders that strongly resemble the work of Jack the Ripper will push the team to their limits. Severed Streets is intriguing, horrifying and almost completely believable. You’ll think that some of the things in Severed Streets could happen (and be glad that they don’t!). 

Brutal Youth. by Anthony Breznican
In his debut novel, author Anthony Breznican takes an unflinching look at the hell that can be high school and the attempts of three students to survive their freshman year. Brutal Youth is harrowing, gripping and insightful. 

Endsinger, by Jay Kristoff
This final volume of The Lotus War series follows Yukiko and Buruu into the battle that will decide the fates of the Shima Imperium and the Lotus Guild. Trust will be betrayed. Secrets will be revealed. Friends will be unmasked as enemies, just as enemies may turn out to be the greatest allies for which one could hope. And the ultimate futility of war will be brilliantly illustrated. A satisfying conclusion to a marvelous series! 


Dorothy Must Die, by Danielle Paige
A journey over the rainbow to an Oz we only think we know. Dorothy Gale, the first girl who went to Oz, is now ruling Oz and perverting the land, its magic, and its inhabitants into a strange and twisted version of its former glory. The only way for Oz to be restored is if Dorothy is destroyed (just as she destroyed the Wicked Witch of the West). Paige’s reimagining of the Land of Oz is funny, mesmerizing and disturbing. This is the first book in a wonderful new series. 

Ruin and Rising, by Leigh Bardugo
The final book of the Grisha trilogy follows Alina Starkov, the Sun Summoner, on her search for the third amplifier, which will give her the power to overthrow the Darkling. What Alina doesn’t know is what finding—and using—the third amplifier will cost her. Every time you think you know where author Leigh Bardugo is going, she deftly defies convention and expectations. This was as good, if not better, than the other books in the series. 

Cress, by Marissa Meyer
In the third book of The Lunar Chronicles series, the character of Rapunzel is added to the growing group of fairy tale-based heroes introduced in Cinder and Scarlet. While The Lunar Chronicles is being published as a YA series, it is really a 21st-century version of the grand space operas of classic science fiction, and a marvelous read for anyone who enjoys this sub-genre! 

(You can click on the link to each book to find out where you can find a copy at Burbank Public Library.)

Chosen by Daryl M., reference librarian

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


“I've always loved joining clubs... 
although, in truth, they're usually book clubs."
~Robecca Steam, Monster High: Ghoulfriends Forever, by Gitty Daneshvari

Burbank Public Library is definitely all about the book clubs! We have a Grade School Book Club for 4th- and 5th-graders; we have not one, not two, but three Teen Book Clubs (for 6+7, 8+9, and grades 10-12!); we have a Brown Bag Book Club for those who want to discuss books over lunch; we have the Genre X Book Club for the "cool kids" in their first few decades of adulthood; and now we are adding a Mystery Book Club! We have a lot of avid mystery readers in Burbank, many of whom already follow Aunt Agatha's "Death in the Stacks" mystery blog, so a club seemed like a natural extension.

"Scene of the Crime" Book Club

will meet on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m., at the Buena Vista branch library in the story time room, and the first meeting will be JANUARY 20th!

So make "join a book club" one of your New Year's resolutions, and read Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None to discuss on January 20!

Please call or email librarian Naomi Aronoff, who will be leading this book club's discussions, to let her know you want to join! 
(818 238-5620 or naronoff@burbankca.gov)