“The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” by Michael Chabon

“The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” by Michael Chabon

Catherine Stanton

The Maltese Falcon meets My Name is Asher Lev in Alaska. An alternate time line puts post World War II Jews in a temporary sanctuary around Sitka. Now throw in a puzzling murder that no one wants to be investigated.

I am amazed, completely amazed by Michael Chabon. I am amazed first by how anyone could come up with the basic setting of this novel with all the built in angst and heartbreak. I’m amazed at the continually surprising plot. I’m amazed by the descriptive and gripping language. I’m amazed by the complex, deep, characters that get under your skin and bore into your head and won’t get out.

I took over two months to read this book. The first 150 pages went quite quickly, and then I realized that if I kept reading, the book would end. The next month was delicious pain as I read a few pages here and allowed myself a few pages there, needing to know what happened next, but wanting the experience to last as long as possible.

I should thank our libary’s GoodReads seasonal challenge for bringing me to this book. A past challenge was to read a Nebula award winner and a Orion award winner. Fantasy and science-fiction are so, so not my thing, so I looked at books that made both lists and found this. I wouldn’t exactly classify it as either, but I suppose the alternate time line thing technically puts it in. -So thanks Madison reading challenge. (But you still haven’t won me over to dragons or lazers.)

“Raven Black” by Ann Cleeves

“Raven Black” by Ann Cleeves

Catherine Stanton

Ann Cleeves Brooding Shetland Series Mesmerizes

Ann Cleeves immediately won me over with Raven Black, the first novel in her Shetland Quartet. The novel revolves around a shunned and painfully lonely hermit with a dark past that creates distrust,speculation, and assumptions of guilt in a contemporary murder.  Her characters are some of the most finely painted anywhere in literature! These are amazingly meticulously drawn people that are incredibly sympathetic, likeable, yet deeply flawed. I feel like they’re all people I grew up with. She also creates a very tangible sense of place on a windswept island in the North Sea. The isolation and and quiet become one of the characters continually interacting in the drama.

There are four books in the “quartet.” I’ve read and enjoyed each one. It may be a bit confusing at first glance to see eight listed in the series. There is a definite break between #4 Blue Lightening and #5 Dead Water with some core cast changes. Are the post break ones good? Yes! Are the pre-break ones incredible? Absolutely. Is it a bit confusing? Only till you get to the break and then it all makes sense. Don’t worry about it. Just read.

“Lafayette in the Somewhat United States” by Sarah Vowell

“Lafayette in the Somewhat United States” by Sarah Vowell

Catherine Stanton

I’d never read any Sarah Vowell before this book. What a wasted life.

Here is a summary of the book from Goodreads:  On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000. 

Lafayette’s arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history, Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past. 

Reading Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is like hanging out with an intelligent, insightful and snarky friend. Vowell’s history is well researched, drawing heavily on primary resources. Her telling of it shows us rounded human beings rather than glorified works of venerated sculpture and draws enough parallels with contemporary culture to give pause. This book is as full of “Oh, my heck, I never realized that!’s” as it is with full out guffaws.

I’m starting Unfamiliar Fishes right now.

A Double Dose of Creativity!

A Double Dose of Creativity!

Join us Thursday, November 30, for two opportunities for creative expression.

From 6:00 – 8:00 pm we will host An Evening of Unquiet Creativity. Read us your first paragraph, show off your ink sketch, bring your knitting, cross-stitching, scrap-booking, book-making, whittling, or any other project to work on, share, and chat about.

Starting at 8:00 pm, we’ll segue into An Evening of Creative Desperation. Haven’t got 50,000 words in for National Novel Writing Month? It’s the last night! We’ll give you some space and time to concentrate your final efforts. This event will run until 11:00 pm to give you the best shot at completing your novel.

Both these events are open to teens and adults, ages 12 and up.

13 New Adult Kits Double Your Chances to Explore!

After a summer of gathering pieces, we’ve been concentrating the past couple of weeks on assembling new Adult Exploration and getting them out on the shelves. So far, we’ve added thirteen kits, nearly doubling the number of handy bags that will help you do some in depth investigation into some intriguing subjects. Look for these opportunities for discovery:

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

BACKYARD FARM

CAKES

CHINA

FRANCE

IDAHO

INDIA

MERMAIDS AND SELKIES

SCOTLAND

U.S. BEGINNINGS

VIKINGS

WOODCARVING

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

 

We’re not done yet! We still have several kits in progress. These subjects will be available imminently. Look for them in the next week or two.

ITALY

SHERLOCK HOLMES

MONSTERS

ESPIONAGE

DRESS MAKING

 

And a little later, but in the near future, you’ll be able to explore:

DEEP SEA

CASTLES

WONDERS OF THE WORLD

LINCOLN

PIRATES

JAPAN

EGYPT

EARLY CINEMA

The Adult Exploration Kits are currently housed on top of the shorter shelves in Adult Non-fiction. Stop by and take one home. They’re like a course in a bag!

NaNoWriMo KickOff 2017!

NaNoWriMo KickOff 2017!

Thursday, October 26 at 7:00 pm

in the Community Room

Join Madison Library District and the Rexy Writers group in preparation for National Novel Writing Month in November, or as its more popularly known, “NaNoWriMo.” Find out what it’s all about and grab a little inspiration to get that book written in 30 days!

You can get a head start by signing up for free at the NaNoWriMo website.

Artemis by Andy Weir – Suspense in Space

Artemis by Andy Weir – Suspense in Space

Catherine Stanton

It’s really impossible not to make comparisons between Andy Weir’s new novel, Artemis, and his prior blockbuster, The Martian. The protagonist here lacks the hero quality of The Martian‘s Watney but possesses his brilliance and humor.

Jazz is the genius that could have done anything, but refused. Instead of an extreme tale of survival, there’s an extreme caper gone horribly awry. The plot is even more tightly crafted and accelerates to a breakneck speed. Weir appears to be creating a whole new fiction genre, the believable and scientifically sound sci-fi thriller. It wasn’t a genre I was aware that we needed; but having had a two tastes, I now need more.

All-Day Saturday Day O’ Fun!

All-Day Saturday Day O’ Fun!

Saturday, June 24th, will be a great day to come to the library for some fun demos and information. All activities will either meet in the Community Room or be held there.  Here is the schedule:

  • 9:00 am – Outdoor Sketching
  • 11:00 am – Towel Origami (bring your own towel and washcloth)
  • 1:00 pm – Fly Tying Demonstration
  • 2:00 pm – Movie Making Tips with Dean Lake

All activities are available for teens and adults (ages 12 and older); the towel origami can also be enjoyed by tweens through adults (ages 9 and older).

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