Sunday, May 03, 2015

This week at the library...

Central Library, 6:30 p.m.

THE FRENCH LANGUAGE BOOK CLUB will discuss Bain de Lune, by Yanick Lahens.

and at Buena Vista at 7:00…

The last meeting of the year (until September), at which two books will be discussed: The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley, and Meet Me at the River, by Nina de Gramont. This club is for enrolled teens only.

Central Library, 4:00 p.m.

Family Films presents…

Rated PG / 95 minutes

Buena Vista branch, 4:00 p.m.

Make paper flowers for Mom, or Grandma, or Dad, or yourself! Materials supplied, no sign-up necessary.

Central Library, 11:00 a.m.

Open to kids ages 2-14 and their families! Specially sized larger blocks will be available for toddlers. Children under the age of 9 years must be accompanied by an adult.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

What We're Listening to...As You Wish!

When I saw that Cary Elwes had written a book about the making of The Princess Bride, I knew two things. First, I would have to read it; second, if the audio book was read by Cary Elwes, then this would be a book that I would prefer to listen to! I chose to use our Axis360 downloadable audio of the book.

For its many fans, The Princess Bride is one of those perfect films that can be watched any time, anywhere--and if you happen upon it on TV, you know you are watching it from that point forward.

In my opinion, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, much like both the William Goldman novel (read it if you haven't yet done so!) and the movie, can do no wrong. Witty and fun, the book reveals many behind the scenes tales, including the moment when Elwes first learned he got the career-establishing role of Wesley; the generous nature and appetites of Andre the Giant; competitive swordplay training with Mandy Patinkin; and just how difficult it was to be "mostly dead" while Billy Crystal was throwing out extremely funny ad-libs. Mix in occasional remembrances from the many others involved in the making of The Princess Bride, all narrated by Elwes in his wonderful British accent, and I had a thoroughly grand time with As You Wish.

Burbank Public Library also owns this book in both print and audio CD formats.

If you are a fan of The Princess Bride, seek out this title; to do otherwise would be inconceivable!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Brown Bag Book Club's May book is...

For May, the Brown Bag Book Club is reading The German Bride, by Joanna Hershon. 

Berlin, 1865. Eva Frank, the daughter of a benevolent Jewish banker, and her sister, Henriette, are having their portrait painted–which leads to a secret affair between young Eva and the mercurial artist. This indiscretion has far-reaching consequences, more devastating than Eva or her family could have imagined. Distraught and desperate to escape her painful situation, Eva hastily marries Abraham Shein, an ambitious merchant who has returned home to Germany for the first time in a decade since establishing himself in the American West. The 18-year-old bride leaves Berlin and its ghosts for an unfamiliar life halfway across the world, traversing the icy waters of the Atlantic and the rugged, sweeping terrain of the Santa Fe Trail. Though Eva’s existence in the rough and burgeoning community of Sante Fe, New Mexico, is a far cry from her life as a daughter of privilege, she soon begins to settle into the mystifying town, determined to create a home. But this new setting cannot keep at bay the overwhelming memories of her former life, nor can it protect her from an increasing threat to her own safety that will force Eva to make a fateful decision. Joanna Hershon’s novel is a gripping and gritty portrayal of urban European immigrants struggling with New World frontier life in the mid-nineteenth century. Vivid and emotionally compelling, The German Bride is also a beautiful narrative on how far one must travel to make peace with the past.

The Brown Bag Book Club meets on the third Tuesday of the month at noon at the Central Library. See you on May 19th!

You can find Joanna Hershon on the web and Facebook.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Scene of the Crime book club is reading...

The book chosen by the Scene of the Crime Book Club to discuss on Tuesday, May 19th is Death at La Fenice, by Donna Leon. 

All great mystery series start somewhere, and this is where the popular, award-winning Donna Leon and her Commissario Brunetti mysteries began. Time for a visit to Venice for a bit of culture and a lot of crime!

The Scene of the Crime Book Club meets at the Buena Vista branch, in the story time room, at 7:00 p.m.  Join us!

Donna Leon can be found on the web

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What We're Reading: The Winner's Trilogy

In The Winner’s Curse, the first book in The Winner’s Trilogy, author Marie Rutkoski introduced readers to Lady Kestrel, daughter and only child of General Trajan of the Valorian army, and Arin, the Herrani slave Kestral impulsively purchased at auction. Theirs is a rocky relationship from the start, but one that challenges them to examine truths they each hold firmly. It begins a dance, deliberate and accidental, controlled and controlling, with undercurrents of undeniable passion. Each alternates in leading the dance, sometimes in spite of the titles of slave, master, prisoner and/or incarcerator. In The Winner’s Crime, that dance continues as the stakes grow and the penalties for failure become deadly.

To end the Valorian Empire's war with Harran, Kestrel has agreed to marry Verex, the Emperor’s son. She did this to save Arin’s life, as well as those of hundreds of Valorian and Herrani soldiers. While Kestrel longs to tell Arin why she has chosen the life she now lives, she worries about his reaction. Arin looks at Kestrel’s engagement and sees another well-orchestrated and executed power play. But he also sees what others don't: that despite the fa├žade she presents, she is unhappy. He has also noticed that she has stopped playing her music. In spite of (or possibly because of) how well they know one another, neither fully trusts the other. 

The palace courtiers still whisper about Lady Kestrel and the slave for whom she fought a duel and who has become the Herrani Governor. While most of the whispers at court are meaningless gossip, Kestrel begins to hear things that--under her keen strategic intellect--fall together, take shape and yield important information. She may have uncovered something that could destroy the new Herrani state. But whom can she trust? Whom can she tell? Is Kestrel prepared to commit treason?

In this second book in the series, Rutkoski increases the cast of characters, introducing new ones and developing existing ones. She also introduces another culture within the world she has built that is every bit as compelling as the Valorians and the Herrani. The intrigues are fascinating and the characters are captivating. And Rutokoski's descriptions of the world she has built, so close to our own and yet incredibly different, are lush and evocative.

Like its predecessor, The Winner's Crime is a frustrating book. While it is clear that Kestrel and Arin could, and would, make each other happier than they have ever been, everything seems stacked against them, from the societies that surround them to their own honorable ideals.

There is no publicized release date for the third and final installment in this series.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

This week at the library...

Central Library auditorium

Friends of the Burbank Public Library

Monday from 5-8 p.m. is an exclusive preview for Friends members only, but! you can join the Friends for the reasonable cost of $15 (for an individual), which is good for one year, and which allows you to have first pick at a book sale full of inexpensive treasures! The line forms outside the library on the Orange Grove side of the building.

The rest of the week, the hours are as follows:


In addition to getting great deals, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting the library with your purchase: The Friends fund all programming at the library. So if your teenager is in a book club, if your toddler likes the Fairy Book Party, if you have Crafty Kids, if you enjoy watching movies, meeting authors, or hearing speakers at the library, you are a beneficiary of the Friends' fund-raising efforts! Help them out!

Buena Vista branch, 7:00 p.m.

ORPHAN BLACK: From Hit Series to Graphic Novel

Writer Jody Houser will talk with Amy Dallen about adapting the television show into a comic.

Houser has been a contributing writer to numerous comic anthologies, including Womanthology: Heroic and Womanthology: Space from IDW, CMYK: Magenta from Vertigo, and Avengers: No More Bullying from Marvel. Her latest project is the upcoming Orphan Black comic series from IDW.

Amy Dallen co-hosts Geek and Sundry's comic book show "The Pull," talks about comics on her own YouTube channel, and sells comics at Burbank's House of Secrets.

This should be a fascinating conversation!

Buena Vista branch, 7:00 p.m.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, young adult author and poet Ron Koertge will teach teens in grades 6-12 how to write the poetic form of “pantoum.” To sign up, email

Northwest branch, 4:00 p.m.

Kids in grades 1 - 8 can decorate a decoupage vase. Just in time for Mothers' Day! Space is limited, so call 818-238-5610 for a reservation.

Central Library, 10:00 a.m.


Join us this May as Burbank Public Library and Burbank Recycle Center present this series of programs exploring simple living, organic gardening, water harvesting, backyard composting, and car-free transportation.

Expect hands-on activities, and practical information from authors and experts in their fields. The programs are perfect for anyone who wants to learn about leading a simple, more sustainable lifestyle. All programs begin at 10:00 am on the library lawn.

This week: Preserves and Canning demo followed by a Simple Living Author Talk with Casey David. Book signing to follow.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Tomorrow, Saturday, at 10:00 a.m. at the Central Library, is your last chance to attend a COVERED CALIFORNIA WORKSHOP about the Qualified Enrollment Extension, which is available through April 30.

Certified enrollment counselors from the Comprehensive Community Health Center will be at the Central library to answer questions or help you with the enrollment process.

So if you did not realize there was a tax penalty in 2014 or learned you may face a penalty in 2015, this is your last chance to enroll. Those who have experienced a qualifying "life event" since the end of the last enrollment period are also qualified to apply. But if you want help with this, the workshop tomorrow is your last opportunity at Burbank Central Library.

For more information, you may call Jessica Gonzalez at 818 265-2257.

What we're reading: New (old) series

I discover so many series by seeing the latest book on the New Books shelves and then going to the regular shelves to start reading from the beginning. The latest one I discovered is the Kathleen Mallory mystery series by Carol O'Connell.

The series opens in Mallory's Oracle with a murder, and one particularly significant to the protagonist. Kathleen Mallory was adopted off the streets at (about) age 10 by a police detective, Louis Markowitz, and his wife, Helen, and although they (particularly Helen) exerted some civilizing influence over her, there is a large percentage of wild child left inside the now grown-up sergeant in the Special Crimes division of the New York City police department. Reining in this devastatingly intelligent and attractive but borderline sociopathic personality is about to become a matter for concern, to her commanding officer and to her adoptive father's friends, because one of the dead bodies discovered in a seedy tenement room belongs to Louis Markowitz. Although Mallory (her preferred form of address) is better with computers than with people, discovering her father's killer (and solving the murder of the wealthy Gramercy Park woman whose body was found next to him) takes her out of her comfort zone and into everyone else's business.

This was a first novel for O'Connell, and although there were flaws, I immediately invested in the main character, Mallory. She reminded me of Lacey Flint, the London-based detective constable in the series by S. J. Bolton previously reviewed here: another damaged, somewhat amoral police detective who does everything according to her own instincts regardless of policy and logic, and gets under people's skins despite herself. I had no idea what was going on for large bits of this book, and I found that simultaneously annoying and intriguing. And the resolution, with more than one person involved from different directions and for different motives, was the best part! It made me decide to go on to the next...

...which opens with Mallory herself featured as the murder victim! Fortunately for the reader (and the series), it's a case of mistaken identity--Mallory discarded one of her trademark jackets with her name label sewn in, and the jacket turned up on a homicide victim. This fact makes the case personal for Mallory, who decides to solve it even though she's been told not to. The Man Who Cast Two Shadows showcases the skills of this writer, by revealing Mallory on a slant through the eyes of various of her father's friends, who were either told off by Markowitz or have taken it upon themselves to look after her. In the process, we also get to know them--Charles Butler, the gentle, cultured giant who is more than a little in love with Mallory; Markowitz's old partner, the drunk and sloppy but astute Riker; and the rest of the guys at the poker table, including the medical examiner and the family rabbi.

The story is intricate and convoluted, again full of red herrings, but also with character insights and psychology galore, and exciting right down to the last page. O'Connell upped her game exponentially from the first book, and after this one I was so happy there were a bunch more to read! But...

...then came Book 3, Killing Critics. Maybe it's because I read it in a disjointed manner, stopping halfway through to reread a book for one of the teen book clubs--certainly most people on Goodreads rated it highly--but this one frustrated me without sufficient payoff, almost to the point that I thought the author had jumped the shark! I knew from the first two books that she is a writer who writes around, rather than about, the central mystery, until you get sufficient details and clues from all these separate events and scenarios to start putting it all together, and then she wows you at the end with the big reveal; and I like that to a point. But this one took too long for me, and was too oblique. Also, the gruesome nature of the crime makes Dexter look like an amateur. Finally, I started to become bored with the constant paean to Mallory as a borderline sociopath who is redeemed by being stunning to look at, incredibly smart and talented, yadda yadda yadda. Maybe the author got tired of that too, because at the end of this one, Mallory is headed out to a different arena not populated by all the overprotective friends of her late father Markowitz. So I went for one more, to see if O'Connell could restore my faith in her and in this series, and...

...she did! Stone Angel was a fascinating read, and a departure from the formula of the first three books. First of all, it takes place outside of New York City. Mallory has returned to her roots in rural Louisiana, to dig up the past and solve her real mother's murder. Charles Butler has followed her down south to a town seething with horrifying secrets, not the least of which is the fate of Cass Shelley (Mallory's mother). The book is perfectly cast and paced, from the unexpectedly humane sheriff to the mute sculptor of funeral markers to the clannish revivalist preacher. O'Connell does her usual number of throwing characters and scenarios at you from every side, letting them build from initial confusion towards the clarifying resolution of the grand finale, but in this one it worked beautifully. I still had a few instances of "C'mon!" but in general I was riveted. And the reader of the series finally reaches the long awaited payoff of the complete back story of Mallory. I'm glad I decided to move past the frustration with O'Connell's third book to try another. I will keep going!