Thursday, July 24, 2014

What we're reading: Rowling

I stopped by the bookstore the other day to pick up some gift cards for summer reading prizes, and couldn't resist--I bought The Silkworm. I knew that if I waited to check out a copy from the library, it would be a long wait behind other eager patrons, so I reasoned that I'd buy it, read it, and then just donate my copy so others would have a shorter waiting period! I don't know if I can give it up just yet, though, because...

After my debacle with The Casual Vacancy (yes, I know some people thought it was brilliant, but I disliked it and swore that if this was the aftermath to the Potter legacy then I was done!), I was really hesitant to try another, but private investigator Cormoran Strike completely won me over in The Cuckoo's Calling (reviewed here).  I really liked book one, waited with great anticipation for this one, and...

"Robert Galbraith" pulls off another great mystery! I finished it and almost immediately wanted to read it again. 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 strange); the setting in the world of publishing was intriguing (and revealing); and I didn't guess the solution until the author gave it away. A really satisfying continuation, and...

I hear there are going to be five more books--goodie!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Brown Bag Book Club is now reading...

The Brown Bag Book Club has selected Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, as their August book. This is timely, in that this award-winning bestseller will be a major motion picture, due to be released on December 25.

A second book by the author of Seabiscuit (2001) would get noticed, even if it weren't the enthralling and often grim story of Louie Zamperini. An Olympic runner during the 1930s, he flew B-24s during WWII. Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he endured a captivity harsh even by Japanese standards and was a physical and mental wreck at the end of the war. He was saved by the influence of Billy Graham, who inspired him to turn his life around, and afterward devoted himself to evangelical speeches and founding boys' camps. Still alive at 93, Zamperini now works with those Japanese individuals and groups who accept responsibility for Japanese mistreatment of POWs and wish to see Japan and the United States reconciled. He submitted to 75 interviews with the author as well as contributing a large mass of personal records. Fortunately, the author's skills are as polished as ever and, like its predecessor, this book has an impossible-to-put-down quality that one commonly associates with good thrillers.
--Green, Roland Copyright 2010 Booklist. Copyright © American Library Association.

As alway, the Brown Bag Book Club meets on the third Tuesday of the month--August 19th--at the Central Library, at 12 noon. Given the upcoming movie and the recent death of Louie Zamperini, a lively and interesting discussion should ensue. Plus, the library is air conditioned, which in August will make the Brown Bag Book Club the coolest place to be!

Burbank Public Library also owns Unbroken in audio CD and eBook formats.

In putting this post together, I found an article that gives quite the insight into the author. You can also visit her on her Facebook page.

What We’re Reading: Paranormal Police Procedural

In London Falling, Detective Inspector James Quill, Undercover Detectives Tony Costain and Kevin Sefton, and Crime Analyst Lisa Ross acquired The Sight, allowing them to see the supernatural occult activities that permeate London but can be seen/felt by only a select few. The Sight allowed them to solve the mysterious rise to power of drug lord Rob Toshack and a related series of serial killings. 

As The Severed Streets opens, Quill and his team are still attempting to adjust to their new abilities. They’re also trying to learn as much as possible about this London, the related sub-culture, and how both function. They are anxious to be involved in another case that will allow them to use their abilities and knowledge. As is commonly said, "Be careful what you wish for…"

Michael Spatley, MP (Member of Parliament), chief secretary to the Treasury, has been brutally murdered in his car during one of the many protests occurring almost nightly in the streets of London. The driver, whose description of what happened sounds impossible, is the primary suspect. The car’s doors were locked, and, for most, the security camera footage gathered during the investigation shows no one entering or leaving. But when Quill and his team review the footage, they see something entering and exiting the car at the time of the murder.  

Then, Sir Geoffrey Staunce, KCBE (Knight Commander of the British Empire), commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is found murdered in a similar manner, in his home with “The Jews are the men who will not be blamed for anything” written in blood on a wall. It is a phrase associated with the murders of Jack the Ripper from more than a century ago.  

Is it possible that the evil behind the original murders attributed to Jack the Ripper is back? And this time s/he/it is killing rich, white men? 

In The Severed Streets, Paul Cornell follows DI Quill and his team as they explore, and struggle to adapt to, the strange London only a few know exist. While London Falling was about their first tentative steps into this new world, The Severed Streets shows the team adapting, developing and becoming more confident in their knowledge and skills. It also follows the personal dynamics as they learn how to work better as a team in spite of the personal demons revealed by The Sight that each of them must face. 

The serial killings in The Severed Streets seem both random and pointless, like the Ripper murders, and yet they also seem to be an indictment of Western culture. Indeed, Cornell uses the rich history of London to tremendous effect, reflecting on the struggles between tradition and progress, development and preservation, and the seemingly endless struggle between government and corporate interests. Particularly effective is an investigation taken on by part of the team at the former BBC TV Centre. Now a mostly unused building that houses small production companies, various businesses and apartments, the site of the former cultural juggernaught nearly overwhelms the augmented senses of the team members with resonances of its earlier significance, and Cornell expertly describes the differences in time and perspective between its heyday and the present. 

The Severed Streets is chilling, thrilling, and thought-provoking. It’s a compelling urban fantasy page-turner that, like London Falling, may be a bit too graphic/intense for some readers. But if you liked London Falling, grab The Severed Streets as quickly as you can!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

This week at the library...


Central Library, 2:00 p.m.

Family Film Festival presents...

Rated G / 101 minutes


Read to Me, at Buena Vista branch, 10:00 a.m.:
Final Party with Fantastic Patrick

Fizz Boom Read! at the Northwest branch, 6:30 p.m.: FINAL PARTY!


Read to Me, at the Northwest branch, 10:00 a.m.
Final Party with Fantastic Patrick

Fizz Boom Read! at the Central Library,
3:00 or 7:00 p.m.,

Set Forth! New Worlds Await You...
Teen Summer Reading Program presents…

at the Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m., STARRING BURBANK TEENS!

Episodes of Douglas Adams’s satirical radio comedy broadcasts
that led to his international multi-media phenomenon,
translated by our teens into readers' theater!

This is a teen program, but ALL are welcome to attend.
PRIZE DRAWINGS for registered teens!


Fizz Boom Read! at the Northwest branch, 10:00 a.m.: FINAL PARTY!

Fizz Boom Read! at the Buena Vista branch, 3:00 or 7:00 p.m.: FINAL PARTY!

Read to Me, at the Central Library, 7:00 p.m.: Final Party with Fantastic Patrick!


Teen Summer Reading Club

Buena Vista branch, 3:00 p.m.

For grades 6-12 ONLY!

Bring a colored T-shirt (darker colors work better for bleach, lighter colors for painting) that you don’t mind messing up, for our T-shirt Craft!

We will announce the winners of our TRIVIA CONTEST, there will be prize drawings, and we’ll have ice cream!


Buena Vista branch, 2:00 p.m.--
playing in the Storytime room…


Rated G / 75 minutes

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What We’re Reading: Coming of Age

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. This quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities has been used to describe many and various situations and circumstances. One place for which this quote can be particularly apt is high school. For some people, the time they spent in grades 9-12 will come to be the happiest in their lives, their “glory days,” and will represent the lifelong pinnacle of their personal achievements. Others will experience the opposite: four years of seemingly endless antagonism and disrespect possibly alternating with utter invisibility. For most, the Dickens quote reflects the wild and unpredictable swings between ecstasy and agony that is the high school experience. In Brutal Youth, debut author Anthony Breznican takes us on a journey through Freshman year in a very troubled Catholic high school in Pennsylvania.

Lorelei Paskal expects this to be a great year. At her old school, Lorelei became an outcast after her mother’s debilitating accident at work. She’s transferring to St. Michael’s for a fresh start with people who don’t know her or her family. As long as she sticks to her meticulously thought-out plan, she knows that this time she will be popular.
Peter Davidek is an average student from an average family, which makes him the perfect target on his first day at St. Michael’s for the ritualized hazing of the incoming underclassmen by both the students and the faculty. It’s all in good, character-building fun, right? It is during this “fun” that Davidek befriends fellow freshman Noah Stein. Stein’s face bears a scar that he will not talk about. And, being in no mood to tolerate the ritualized abuse, Stein does the unthinkable: he fights back. This does not sit well with the upperclassmen, most of the faculty or the parish priest, Father Mercedes, and now both boys will be targeted to receive escalating “pranks” until they conform to St. Michael’s traditions. The question now is, who will break first?
In Brutal Youth, Anthony Breznican allows readers to “attend” the 1991 school year at St. Mike’s along with the incoming freshmen. Readers, as will the students, learn (or remember) how treacherous navigating the hallways of high school can be. There are no heroes or villains in Brutal Youth. All of the characters, faculty, students and family members are all well drawn and complex. Everyone has his or her own agenda, and sometimes the experiences that older adults accumulate can be as crippling as the lack of experience can be for younger adults when determining how best to act in a situation. Breznican also illustrates nicely the development, derailing, and re-forging of fragile new relationships.
One of the most revelatory moments for young people moving into adulthood is the realization that while adults may know and have experienced more than their younger counterparts, they are often still doing the best they can to deal with life’s seemingly endless challenges. Brutal Youth is a nice reminder, or possibly introduction, of this for readers.

Reviewed by Daryl M., reference librarian

A second perspective by EMME, teen librarian:

Daryl coerced me into reading this powerful debut, and I would give this five out of five stars for both the writing and the storytelling, but…the story and characters are in some places so disturbing that I actually hesitate giving it that kind of praise, from sheer discomfort!

This book is Lord of the Flies (but with girls as well as boys), set in a Catholic private school in Pennsylvania. If you are a YA reader, think of it as an adult version (for the amped-up meanness and violence) of The Mockingbirds, by Daisy Whitney, in which the students run rampant, the teachers either turn a blind eye, pick the wrong side because they're not paying attention, or are as mean and cruel as the students, and the so-called "coming of age" factor is at a considerable price for everyone involved.

I didn't so much "enjoy" reading it as remain fascinated and unable to put it down. It's definitely powerful, and in some ways brilliant, but also stark and frightening. Brutal youth, indeed.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What We're Reading: The Grisha Trilogy

Trilogies, or any multi-volume story-telling, can be tricky. No matter how good the initial offering, readers can lose “reading momentum” in the wait between volumes and/or dislike the developments in the middle books, and never read through to the conclusion. Or, the alternative can happen: Readers will love and enjoy the material so much that their expectations will dwarf anything the writer can reasonably accomplish, leaving them disappointed (at best) with the resolution. And then there are the exceptions. Stories that grab you from the very beginning, build with each volume and end with an satisfying conclusion.

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo is the latter, for me. The trilogy began with Shadow and Bone, which was followed up by Siege and Storm. Ruin and Rising, the final book in the trilogy, is almost a textbook example of how an author should end a trilogy. 

Alina Starkov, the long awaited “Sun-Summoner,” has survived her latest encounter with The Darkling and his niechyvoya, the Darkling’s “shadow warriors," but just barely. As she recovers from the battle, hiding in the tunnels beneath Ravka with a small group of friends and allies, the Apparrat has continued to proselytize anyone and everyone he can convince to follow "Sankta Alina," causing the numbers of her followers to swell. Alina, however, has become obsessed with the Fire Bird, the third amplifier for her power and, she believes, the only way she will be able to defeat The Darkling, destroy the fold and reunite Ravka. Alina knows that finding the Fire Bird and securing the amplifier will be difficult, as well as potentially dangerous for her and those around her--but is she really prepared for what securing--and using--the third amplifier will cost her? 

Ruin and Rising wraps up the issues raised in the earlier works, while providing new challenges, revelations, and character development. Every time you believe you have figured out how the story will progress and conclude, Bardugo deftly adds or reveals something that changes everything you thought you knew. And the last 100 pages of the book are simply too good to put down. Ruin and Rising is a roller-coaster ride of a novel, in the company of all the friends and enemies you'd met earlier in the journey and come to love, hate, or love to hate!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

People's Choice 2014: The creep factor

Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups allows Burbank adults to share what they're reading with their peers in the community. If you are signed up, you can see some of the book reviews at the log-in site for the book club; but we thought we would also feature some of them here, on the blog. Here are some creepy reads for you to check out!

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by April Genevieve Tucholke
Reviewed by Llyr H.

Interesting first in a series about a brother and sister who rent out their guesthouse while their parents are off, as per usual, gallivanting around Europe. River, the boy who rents from them, is mysterious and interesting, and Violet has feelings she has never really felt before. Is he simply a charming boy? or is he something more, as grim and horrible things start happening in their small town. I enjoyed the characters' progression and the main characters continually thinking about their grandmother, her past and secrets, but it ramped up toward the end a bit too fast. Although the novel was long, I could see it being a bit longer. Good for those who like suspense, romance and a touch of horror.

The Day After Tomorrow, by Allan Folsom
Reviewed by Jeanne G.

This book was recommended to me right before the author passed away. I read it and found myself unable to put it down. An American doctor finds trouble when he believes he sees the man who killed his father. The ending is terrifying, and I had a nightmare after I finished the book. Despite the nightmare, I highly recommend it!

Darkfever, by Karen Marie Moning
Reviewed by Rachel L.

Darkfever is about Mac, a Southern girl who discovers that her sister was murdered while studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. After the police make no progress, Mac decides to fly herself to Dublin to search for the killer and for answers to all the questions surrounding Alina's mysterious death. Along the way, Mac stumbles upon the world of the Unseelie; mythical and awful creatures that couldn't possibly be real, but they are. Mac also finds information from the intriguing Jericho Barrons.

I loved the world-building in this book. This reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere: the idea that there is a hidden world right in front of us that only special people are able to see. I've been to Dublin myself, and my experience of it was a light, friendly city that was magical in a magnificent way and not a dark city as it was described.

Incredibly written, incredible plot. I highly recommend to readers who like Urban Fantasy and Mystery books.

The Book of You, by Claire Kendal
Reviewed by Helen P.

The L.A. Times just reviewed this first novel. Don't start it if you haven't enough time to finish! It will keep you in your chair. Clarissa is stalked by Rafe, a college professor, who, in spite of repeated discouragement, won't leave her alone. When she begins six weeks of jury duty, it is a daily relief to be free of him and especially when she meets another jury member and falls for him. But this brings other problems as Rafe continues his pursuit and Clarissa hasn't told anyone of her fears...

Watch the blog for more reading "shares" from the adult summer reading club! And be sure to check out all the activities and programs the library is featuring for YOU this summer!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

This week at the library...


A Sounds of Summer outdoor concert by Novel Destinations…

Central Library, 7:30 p.m.

The band performs a wide selection of Australian folk and pop songs, including shanties, sheep shearing songs, tales of bushrangers, the outback, and the country's unusual animals.

Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy your picnic dinner before the concert!


Read to Me, at Buena Vista branch, 10:00 a.m.,
featuring Music for the Very Young with Mark Beckwith

Fizz Boom Read! at the Northwest branch, 6:30 p.m., featuring Noise Guy

Set Forth! New Worlds Await You...
Teen Summer Reading Program presents…

at the Central Library, 7:00 p.m., STARRING BURBANK TEENS!

Episodes of Douglas Adams’s satirical radio comedy broadcasts
that led to his international multi-media phenomenon,
translated by our teens into readers' theater!

This is a teen program, but ALL are welcome to attend.
PRIZE DRAWINGS for registered teens!
(Encore performance next Wednesday at Buena Vista)


Read to Me, at the Northwest branch, 10:00 a.m., featuring
Music for the Very Young with Mark Beckwith

Fizz Boom Read! at the Central Library,
3:00 or 7:00 p.m.,
featuring Noise Guy


Fizz Boom Read! at the Northwest branch, 10:00 a.m., featuring Noise Guy

Fizz Boom Read! at the Buena Vista branch, 3:00 or 7:00 p.m.,
featuring Noise Guy

Read to Me, at the Central Library, 7:00 p.m.,
featuring Music for the Very Young with Mark Beckwith


Friday Movie Matinee presents…

Central Library, 2:00 p.m.
[80 minutes]

TEEN SUMMER READERS! Remember that your SET FORTH TRIVIA CHALLENGE is DUE TODAY, Friday, at 5:00 p.m. Bring it to the Reference Desk at any branch.


Novel Destinations presents
Le Petit Cinema…

Central Library, 2:00 p.m.
[82 minutes]


Buena Vista branch, 2:00 p.m.--
playing in the Storytime room…


Rated PG / 102 minutes