Quick Picks from CMCL

July 25, 2014

Checking In: The 50 Year Old Chocolate Factory (Win a Roald Dahl Prize Pack!)

Place a hold!When I was a kid, I devoured Roald Dahl’s books. I started small, with Danny, the Champion of the World and Esio Trot, graduating to his chapter books for children as I grew older, and today I still love reading his short stories for adults. There is a quality to his writing – an ability to blend ordinary circumstances with extraordinary ones, and a willingness to skirt the fine line between absurd and horrifying – that I’ve not quite found in any other author before or since. His words are always a pleasure to read, whether it is a genuine pleasure or a bit of a twisted one.

And this year is a special one for Roald Dahl lovers… it is the 50th anniversary of the release of perhaps his most famous novel:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Beloved by kids and adults everywhere, and the basis for not one, but TWO Hollywood feature films, it’s a delight to see his work still so popular after five whole decades.

Many of you have probably read this book- maybe you even know some of the songs from the older film, starring Gene Wilder. Some of you may like the earlier film better, and some of you may love the later version, with Johnny Depp. Some of you (like Roald Dahl himself) may wish that a film had never been made – you folks are free to ignore any of the movie links in this post!

In celebration of this terrific novel’s anniversary, I thought I would bring your attention to some of Roald Dahl’s work beyond Charlie. Therefore, I have here a selection of some of Dahl’s other works of varying age and audience- some of it, you will certainly know. Some of it, you may not! Read on!

Place a hold!Matilda (1988)

When a young girl named Matilda learns that she has mysterious, magical powers, she finds a whole world of possibilities opening up in front of her. Finding an ally in her kind and generous teacher, Miss Honey, Matilda takes on her parents as well as her school’s awful headmaster, Mrs. Trunchbull, and manages to improve a good few lives- including her own!

Place a hold!Kiss, Kiss (1960)

It’s well known that Roald Dahl was an author for children, but as good as his novels for the younger folk are, his fiction for adults may be even better. Drawing on the same sharp wit and turns of phrase that make James and the Giant Peach (also a film, by the way) and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar so delightfully addictive, Dahl applies his talent to these more mature stories and subjects to the most tantalizing effect. In “The Landlady,” you are asked to wonder what makes it so hard for an old woman’s guests to leave. In “William and Mary,” a scientist helps William carry on with life after death in a strange and interesting way, and Mary decides she rather likes the idea. “Royal Jelly” is about the poorly-devised experimentations of a beekeeper, and the far-reaching consequences. You’ll come away from the collection feeling like you’ve just read a weird and wonderful cross between Ray Carver and Vincent Price, and in the very best of ways.

Place a hold!The BFG (1982)

A classic, and a prime example of how Dahl can take a normally barbaric subject and turn it into a completely delightful kids’ novel. This time, a girl named Sophie is kidnapped by a Giant- but not just any old giant, but the Big Friendly Giant! Unfortunately, the dream-catching BFG is the only nice one of the bunch, and the rest of them are named things like “Bone Cruncher” and “Child Chewer.” However, with enough snozzcumbers, and some help from the Queen of England, the partnership between Sophie and the BFG proves to be too much for the other nasty giants, and by the end the world is a much safer place for children everywhere.

Place a hold!Boy: Tales of Childhood (1984)

This, the first part of Dahl’s autobiography, chronicles his life through age twenty, with a particular focus on his schooling. You’ll learn about his love of sweets and candy, the most horrible prank he ever pulled on anyone (The Great Mouse Plot of 1924) and the inevitable consequences, a later, equally ill-advised prank with equally inevitable consequences, the car accident which could have ended his life, but in the end only threatened the livelihood of his nose, and other various adventures at school and at home. As he reaches age twenty, he gets his first real job (for Shell oil company) and the book ends, to be continued in…

Place a hold!Going Solo (1986)

Dahl’s employment with Shell Oil took him to Africa, where a large portion of this book takes place. He writes at length about the strange people he encounters in this foreign land, remaining there until he found himself enlisting in the RAF as a pilot. From then on, he writes of his adventures as a pilot in Greece and Vichy France – some spectacular, some harrowing, and all worth reading.

Place a hold!Fantastic Mr. Fox (1970)

Now a well-received Wes Anderson film, Fantastic Mr. Fox follows its eponymous hero as he steals chickens, outwits farmers, and uses every bit of his wily, foxy brain to give woodland creatures a better life. It is one of Dahl’s earlier works, but already his themes of clumsy, nasty adults, karmic punishment of the greedy, as well as virtuosity, generosity and cleverness winning the day are already visible in full force, carried along from their major debuts in Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

AND NOW, A DRAWING!

Chocolate Factory Contest

In honor of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘s 50th anniversary, we invite you to go to our library’s Facebook page, and comment on our Roald Dahl post with your personal favorite Roald Dahl book. On July 31st, we will randomly select two commenters to win a Roald Dahl prize pack. If you’ve got a clear favorite, get to that page and leave a comment! And, if you haven’t read anything by Roald Dahl just yet, pick one of my suggestions from above and get reading!

-Eric

July 24, 2014

Kid’s Corner: Existential Picture Books

Filed under: Info — Tags: , , — jennytf @ 10:46 am

 

existentialbooks3

 

 

 

For kids who love to wonder who and how and why they are here, there are plenty of picture books that wonder the same thing. Existentialism is not just for academics at cocktail parties- kids can appreciate it, too. Lately, many of my favorite picture book authors have been dropping fascinating self-referential elements into their works. Some of them feature characters that address the reader directly (and expect a response), while others challenge the limits of the traditional picture book in creative, thought-provoking ways. Here’s a breakdown of some of my favorite books that are very much aware they are books and that they have readers!  -Jeanie

 

We Are In a Book! by Mo Willems: Perhaps the most successful example of existentialism for children can be found in this installment of the ever-popular Elephant & Piggie empire. Just think of how many times the word “banana” has been read out loud!

Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite by Nicola O’Byrne: This one features a crocodile who starts eating all the letters!

I Love Going Through This Book by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino: A little boy and his animal friends lead the reader on a rhyming adventure full of existential wonder.

The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman: Once the sad, lonely pencil begins to draw, it unleashed the power to create! Things get colorful when the pencil draws a paintbrush (named Kitty), but what happens when the pencil draws an eraser and it starts rubbing everything out?

Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas: Any book that begins with a giant ladybug saying “Hey, you! Yes I’m talking to you! Stand up!” is very much aware of its audience. Featuring tickly bugs, chicken dancing, and a giant frog, this book (and others by Jan Thomas) is a sure crowd pleaser we librarians share frequently at storytime!

Do Not Open This Book! by Michaela Muntean: Those who disobey the title are in for a journey into the creative process of a frazzled pig, who is suffering from mild writer’s block and will try anything to get the reader to stop turning the pages. Don’t do it–this book is a silly self-referential goldmine!

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood: In this timeless classic, the reader plays an important role in a narrative that involves repeating ominous bear-related warnings and pretending to eat half a strawberry to save the day!

A Book! by Mordicai Gerstein: Loaded with fun literary references and genre explorations, this book follows a little girl on a quest to find her story. Inspiring for all the young writers out there!

No Laughing, No Smiling, No Giggling by James Stevenson: When Mr. Frimdimpny the croc asks “What happens if you laugh or smile or giggle?” Freddy Fafnaffer the pig replies “You have to go back to the front of the book!” Don’t do it- you may never get there, and you’ll miss out on a chance to tickle the croc’s tail and make him laugh, smile and giggle!

Wolves by Emily Gravett: British author Gravett is an existential champ. This cautionary tale featuring a brave rabbit who takes its chances opening up a book (within the book) about wolves. The rabbit’s (implied) demise is immediately appeased by an alternate ending “for sensitive readers” featuring a vegetarian wolf.

Tickle the Duck by Ethan Long: Perfect for younger existentialists who just want to disobey the duck’s “DON”T YOU DARE!” warning and tickle him.

The Three Pigs by David Wiesner: This Caldecott winner turns the tale of The Three Pigs on its tail!

Cat Secrets by Jeff Czekaj: Humans may be tempted to open a book that proclaims it’s for “cats only”! But if they do, they must be prepared to prove they are cats by meowing, purring, stretching, and taking cat naps!

 

 

 

 

July 23, 2014

Inside Scoop: To Light A Fire

A few days ago I was searching for some book quotes for a little project that I was doing. It prompted me to consider how writers contribute to our sense of the world and our place in it. Good books inspire, engage, educate and change lives. Here are some writers’ quotes and the great books they have written - which are now available in many formats and languages. — Nancy

“A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”Madeleine L’Engle

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” — Victor Hugo

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”Henry David Thoreau

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”Maya Angelou

“Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.” Neil Gaiman

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” Lemony Snicket

Jacket9Jacket8jacket 2Jacket6

 

July 22, 2014

Blurbs From the Branch: For Fans of Downton Abbey

downton abbeyI am a huge fan of period dramas and I was pleasantly surprised when Downton Abbey became the most successful PBS drama of all time. Not all period dramas are equally as good, however. Here are a few that have been my favorites over the years, as good, or even better than, Downton Abbey:

The Forsyte Saga:  This six part miniseries is based on the first two books of a trilogy by English author John Galsworthy. I think this is the best period drama that I’ve seen. The series follows the Forsyte family over thirty years, mainly two cousins, Soames Forstye and Jolyon Forstye. Soames Forsyte is tragically obsessed with Irene Herron. He is uptight and rigid, while his artist cousin, Jolyon, is easygoing and free-spirited. Damian Lewis, the ginger haired actor who also appeared in Band of Brothers and Homeland, is extremely excellent in this series. His portrayal of Soames Forsyte is not to be missed.

Little Dorrit: This series is based on a series of writings by Charles Dickens. The protagonist is Amy Dorrit, who lives and has grown up in a debtors’ prison with her father, Arthur Dorrit. The family circumstances change, throwing Amy’s life in upheaval. Amy Dorrit is the kind of character you will find yourself rooting for, a deserving heroine you will end up caring about. The comic villain in this piece is played by Andy Serkis, who voiced Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Wives and Daughters: This series is based on a serial written by Elizabeth Gaskell, who died before it was finished. Andrew Davies, a frequent Masterpiece Theatre writer, finished the story in what he hoped was the ending Elizabeth Gaskell intended. This story is centered on Molly Gibson, the daughter of a country doctor. Her father remarries, and Molly gains a stepmother and a stepsister. Although it’s not quite a Cinderella story, you hope that Molly gets her fairytale ending. There are also excellent performances in this show, including Michael Gambon, the second actor to play Dumbldore in the Harry Potter movies!

 

- Maura

July 21, 2014

Off the Shelf: Commencements on the printed page

patchettIf you’ve attended a graduation ceremony this year it was probably recent enough you still remember it. Maybe you even remember the commencement speech. Or maybe you’ve blocked it out. Maybe you were thinking about lunch or how dang hot it was during that speech. Personally, I find graduation ceremonies unbearable, tedious, mind-numbingly boring, so much so that I skipped my own college graduation ceremony. So it was a bit of a surprise when I recently read a book based on a commencement speech and then started looking for more.

First I read, “What Now?” by Ann Patchett, based on her address to Sarah Lawrence College in 2006. She says, “Writing a novel and living a life are very much the same thing. The secret is finding the balance between going out to get what you want and being open to the thing that actually winds up coming your way.”

Then I read “This is Water” based on the 2005 speech to Kenyon College by David Foster Wallace. He said, “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.”

After that it was “Make Good Art” created from Neil Gaiman’s address at Philadelphia’s University of Arts in 2012. He said, “Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut, and sometimes it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you are doing the correct thing, because you’ll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get.”

Next I’ll read, “If this isn’t nice, what is? Advice to the Young: The Graduation Speeches” by Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t know what the speaker at my graduation said, but I’m guessing they probably had some good advice. I’m guessing if I had been willing to sit out in the sun, listening to a bunch of names be called out, I may have received a little morsel of knowledge and it probably would have been worth it. Thankfully, apparently, some of the great speeches get made into books, which I can read long after I’ve graduated, in the comfort of my own home.
   

July 19, 2014

Cedar Mill Reads: Historical Mystery Series – Favorities

Filed under: Cedar Mill Reads — Tags: — LGP @ 7:30 pm

Historical mysteries have been my genre of choice lately. I read the Maisie Dobbs series as quickly as I could, and I anxiously await the next entry in the Gaslight mystery series. So what can you do when you reach the end of a good series? Look for more; the number of mystery series is amazing.

Below is a list of the first titles in several historical mystery series, many feature heroines from the 1910s and 20s. This list is far from complete, but perhaps you’ll find a series here that is new to you! FInd more book suggestions on our website at library.cedarmill.org.

– Karen

Murder on the Lusitania Murder on the Lusitania
By Allen, Conrad
2000-10 – Minotaur Books
0312975716

Check Our Catalog 
In 1907, the “Lusitania” attracts the beautiful and the damned as it sets out on its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York. Among the passengers is an undercover detective named George Porter Dillman. The robbery of the ship’s blueprints and a shocking murder take Dillman by surprise, plunging him into a drama of love and intrigue. …More
Mr. Churchill's Secretary: A Maggie Hope Mystery Mr. Churchill’s Secretary: A Maggie Hope Mystery
By MacNeal, Susan Elia
2012-04 – Bantam
9780553593617

Check Our Catalog 

Awards:
Dilys Award (2013) Edgar Allan Poe Awards (2013) Macavity Award (2013)

London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable …More
Murder on Nob Hill Murder on Nob HillBy Tallman, Shirley
2004-06 – Minotaur Books
0312328559

Check Our Catalog 
It’s 1880 in San Francisco and a determined Sarah Woolson has bucked society and earned herself a job at a prestigious law firm. But she gets more than she bargained for when her first murder case leads her to a daring Chinatown raid, a scandalous sex club, and a powerful and dangerous tong lord. …More
An Expert in Murder An Expert in MurderBy Upson, Nicola
2008-06 – Harper
9780061451539

Check Our Catalog 
For fans of classic detective stories, including the mysteries of Agatha Christie, comes this brilliant first novel set in the exotic world of British theater in the 1930s. …More
The Beekeeper's Apprentice The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
By King, Laurie R.
2007-10 – Picador USA
9780312427368

Check Our Catalog 

Awards:Agatha Awards (1994)
In 1915, long since retired from his crime-fighting days, Sherlock Holmes is engaged in a reclusive study of honeybees on the Sussex Downs. Never did the Victorian detective think to meet an intellect matching his own-until his acquaintance with Miss Mary Russell, a young twentieth-century lady whose mental acuity is equaled only by her penchant for deduction, disguises, and danger. Under Holmes’s …More
Cocaine Blues Cocaine Blues
By Greenwood, Kerry2006-04 – Poisoned Pen Press
9781590582367

Check Our Catalog 
After leaving the tedium of 1920s English high society for Melbourne, Australia, Phryne Fisher becomes embroiled in a mystery involving poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops, communism, and erotic encounters with a beautiful Russian dancer. …More
Maisie Dobbs Maisie Dobbs
By Winspear, Jacqueline
2003-07 – Soho Press
1569473307

Check Our Catalog 
Alex Award Winner – 2004
“Meet Maisie Dobbs, who in 1929 launches her career as a private investigator and finds herself drawn back to the Great War she thought she’d long since put behind her: an unexpected beginning for Maisie–and a rare treat for mystery fans.”–Charles Dodd, “A Fearsome Doubt.”
…More
A Test of Wills A Test of Wills
By Todd, Charles
2006-12 – HarperCollins Publishers
9780061242847

Check Our Catalog 
It’s 1919, and the War to End All Wars has been won. But for Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge, recently returned from the battlefields of France, there is no peace. Suffering from shell shock, tormented by the mocking, ever-present voice of the young Scot he had executed for refusing to fight, Rutledge plunges into his work to save his sanity. But his first assignment is a case certain to …More
After the Armistice Ball: A Dandy Gilver Murder Mystery After the Armistice Ball: A Dandy Gilver Murder Mystery
By McPherson, Catriona
2005-08 – Carroll & Graf Publishers
0786716088

Check Our Catalog 
Dandy Gilver, her husband back from the Front, her children away at school and her uniform growing musty in the attic, is bored to tears in the spring of 1922 and a little light sleuthing seems like harmless fun. She decides to track down the Duffy diamonds, stolen from the Esslemonts’ country house after the Armistice Ball.< P>Available only in Mystery 5. …More
Her Royal Spyness Her Royal Spyness
By Bowen, Rhys
2007-07 – Berkley Publishing Group
9780425215678

Check Our Catalog 

Awards:Agatha Awards (2007) Dilys Award (2008) Macavity Award (2008)
The Agatha Award winner debuts a 1930s London mystery series, featuring a penniless 20-something member of the extended royal family. When an arrogant Frenchman, who wants her family’s estate for himself, winds up dead, Victorias most important job is to clear her family name. …More
Murder on Astor Place Murder on Astor Place
By Thompson, Victoria
1999-04 – Berkley Prime Crime
9780425168967

Check Our Catalog 
As a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York, Sarah Brandt has seen pain and joy. Now she will work for something more–a search for justice–in a case of murder involving one of New York’s richest families. …More
Death at Wentwater Court Death at Wentwater Court
By Dunn, Carola 2000-10 – Kensington Publishing Corporation
1575667509

Check Our Catalog 
Set in 1920s Britain is this cozy new series featuring Daisy Dalrymple, an unflappable flapper and would-be journalist. Her planned interview with the inhabitants of Wentwater Court gives way ends up in interrogation when the suave lord has a fatal skating accident. Daisy joins forces with Scotland Yard to examine an esteemed collection of suspects. Martin’s Press. …More

July 18, 2014

Checking In: Up All Night (Part Two)

Good morning! Today, I have part two for you of our department’s books that kept us up all night (HERE is part one). Without further ado…

Place a hold!7) Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay

When Sarah’s family is abducted, along with thousands of other Jews, in the Paris Roundup of 1942, she locks her brother up in a closet to hide him from the French police. This is the story of everything that happens after that.

This is also the story of Julia, an American newspaper writer living in Paris in modern times. She is asked to write a commemorative article on the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup as the 60th anniversary draws near. In the process, she discovers the tale of Sarah, and her story ends up affecting Julia’s life in more ways than she could ever have imagined. Sarah’s Key is historical fiction at its finest – not painting anything in a rosier light than it deserves, and yet showing that good things can still grow out of tragedy.

Place a hold!8) Pandora’s Star, by Peter F. Hamilton

This intelligent space opera takes place in a future where many worlds are connected together by artificial wormholes made by mankind – but not all worlds can be reached that way. When a star outside this zone disappears without a trace,  an explorer takes a crew and a faster than light vessel and attempts to find out what happened, while an opposing radical organization cries out that powerful aliens are lying in wait out there, manipulating the human race in the deep dark of space. The thing is, they just might be right. Full of intrigue and mystery, the title’s allusion to “Pandora’s box” is not a mistake – what will Wilson Kime find out there in the endless night? Read and find out!

Place a hold!

9) Deception, by Denise Mina

After Lachlan Harriot’s wife is arrested for the murder of a client, he knows that she must be innocent. The woman he’s been married to for years upon years, the mother of his children, is not a killer. Except, maybe she is. Because, oh boy, the stuff he starts digging up about Susie makes Lachlan wonder how well he ever really knew his wife.

Told from the perspective of the husband’s diary, this novel takes full advantage of an unreliable narrator to tell a twisty, turny story that can run with the best of them. How deep does Susie’s well of deception go? And, for that matter, how far does Lachlan’s?

Place a hold!10) East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck, one of the stodgy American greats, is not someone you might expect to see on one of these lists. All their writing is slow, overly-detailed and boring, right? WRONG! If you have not read anything by John Steinbeck, who is anything but stodgy, I would recommend East of Eden as your starting point.

The novel revolves around two families – the Hamiltons and the Trasks – and their incredibly complex relationship stretching from the Civil War all the way up to the present day of the novel, which takes place around World War I. The novel begins with a breathtaking description of the Salinas valley, which is both the main setting of the novel and John Steinbeck’s place of birth, and after reading it you will feel as if you are there. And once you’re there, the rest comes easy. You’ll meet Samuel Hamilton, the kind and determined farmer and inventor, who raises nine children on land which is nearly unusable. The you’ll meet Adam Trask, the rich, ambitious young man with a wife who has designs of her own. When they all begin to learn about one another, that’s when you’ll realize it’s been hours since you started reading.

Steinbeck himself called this novel his magnum opus. He once stated, “I think everything else I have ever written has been, in a sense, practice for this.” Read it, and you’ll understand- this novel towers. See the Biblical parallels woven through the stories of Caleb and Aron Trask. Experience the Salinas Valley, painted in such immense and complete detail, as if you are really there. Know the members of these families and this community like it’s a part of your family’s history. You’ll not regret it.

 

-Eric

July 17, 2014

Kid’s Corner: Robot Picture Books

Filed under: Books, Kid's Corner, Kids — Tags: , — jennytf @ 8:00 am

robot pic booksDo you like robots? If you answered “Beeep……Affirmative,” then this list of books is for you. As always, picture books are for all ages, but these titles are aimed at kids ages 4 to 9. Enjoy! -Jenny F.

Rosie & Rex: A Nose for Fun! By Bob Boyle
Best Friends Rosie and Rex discover that robots are fun! Ages 4 to 8.

cosmoCosmo and the Robot by Brian Pinkney
Cosmo lives on Mars and has a robot named Rex. One Cosmo’s parents give him a new Solar System Utility Belt and the adventures begin! Ages 4 to 8.

Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell
Rabbit is excited that his friend Robot is coming over for a sleepover, but Robot doesn’t stick to Rabbit’s list of things to do. An early reader for ages 5 to 9.

Robot Zombie Frankenstein by Annette Simon
Two robots try to one up each other and the competition reaches extremes of silliness. Ages 4 to 8.

Robot Burp Head Smartypants! By Annette Simonrobot burp
Two robot friends continue competing and reach new heights of silliness-while burping! Ages 4 to 8.

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
A boy and a robot become good friends.

Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino
Robot Doug is plugged in everyday in order to learn as many facts as possible, but one day something catches his eye and he decides to unplug and go outside.

Clink by Kelly DiPucchio
Clink is an old fashioned robot who can only make toast and music. Newer, more powerful robots are purchased every day, but will anyone ever buy Clink?

awesomeWelcome to Your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwartz
A child and his mother make a robot from a cardboard box. This is both a story and a great craft project.

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey
Ricky is bullied by school mates until he makes friends with a very special robot. Together they save the city from the evil Dr. Stinky. This is an early chapter book.

Robot Crafts:

Easy Recycled Robot
Shape Recognition Robot 

July 16, 2014

Inside Scoop: Botany & Booze

Jacket lisaAt the end of a busy day in the garden, when you are ready to throw down your gardening gloves & put away the pruners – this is the reading to reach for with a tall cool beverage. Amy Stewart writes an intriguing account in The Drunken Botanist, of all things botanical in the world’s alcoholic drinks. A splendid cocktail of history, chemistry, botanicals and recipes there is much to learn about the plants that flavor and create our drinks. From the corks & oak barrels that contain the libations to the oldest domesticated organism (yeast) and from absinthe to yew, this is a fascinating world tour of plants and how humans use them. — Lisa

Cheers!

July 15, 2014

Blurbs From the Branch: High Stakes on the Red Planet

themartianThe Martian. Not an actual alien native to the red planet, but a human resident on Mars. And not the retired, relaxing-with-martinis-and-heated-pools kind of resident, but the left-for-dead and stranded-on-Mars-for-a-year-and-a-half kind. Andy Weir’s book is boundlessly witty, constantly exciting, completely improbable, yet contemporarily realistic, and chocked full of comprehensive and convincing technical science-speak, even suitable for those readers whose only knowledge of physics is how to shoot someone with a rubber band. I neglected my loved ones so much over the week I spent reading it. It was GREAT!

The Martian is a fairly new book, so if you can’t get your hands on a copy right away, but you’re in the mood for some more hard science fiction, try:

Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson – It’s 2026 and one hundred people attempt the first colonization on Mars. This is the first book in the Mars trilogy.

Ringworld, by Larry Niven - Winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus awards, this is a thrilling planetary survival adventure, taking place in the far, far future of 2850 A.D., and that which pays particular and spectacular attention to astronomy, the rules of physics, and how machines work. While it’s admittedly a little dated, it’s lighthearted fun.

And for a quick fix, here are some great movies in the hard science fiction genre:

Moon (2009) – Sam Rockwell gives an exquisite performance in this Lunar psychological thriller.

Apollo 13 (1995) – Starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton, this movie is a classic with plenty of re-watch value.

Sunshine (2007) - Thrilling humankind-saving space mission set in the near-future.

 

- Leanna

Older Posts »

The Shocking Blue Green Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 361 other followers

%d bloggers like this: