Category Archives: staff recommendations

Plumb Library Top Ten of 2008

I’ve asked the staff to give me their top ten favorite books of 2008.  The titles need not have been published in 2008, but they must have been read in 2008.  To start, here is my list:

Gail’s Top Ten (not necessarily in order of preference)

1. Dragons of Babel, by Michael Swanwick

2. People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks

3. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen

4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

5. The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry

6. Little Brother, by Corey Doctorow

7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer

8. Tales from the Town of Widows, by James Canon

9. White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga

10. Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh

Jen’s Top Ten:

1. The Lace Reader

2. People of the Book

3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

4. Water for Elephants

5. Frida’s Bed, by Slavenka Drakulic

6. Stop in the Name of Pants, by Louise Rennison

7. The Ridiculous Race: 26,000 Miles, 2 Guys, 1 Globe, No Airplanes, by Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran

8. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

9. Doomed Queens, by Kris Waldherr

10. Deep Drive: The Long Journey to Finding the Champion Within, by Mike Lowell

Still waiting for 2 more lists, so there’ll be an update later.

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Graphic Novels

Last night, folks were asking questions about graphic novels, what they are, some titles, are they good for kids to read, etc.  I wasn’t very coherent, I’m afraid, in my explanations, and I plead a blocked-up ear throwing me off-balance this week.   Here is some information about graphics:

First, start with the Wikipedia article:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic_novels  This article traces the art back to the medieval woodcuts, then up to the 1920’s and the start of comic strips.  The artist Will Eisner was the first to describe a book as a “graphic novel” and the Eisner award for best graphic given each year is named for him.    Another good website is No Flying, No Tights (http://www.noflyingnotights.com).  It divides the list of suggested titles into those for children, and those for older teens and adults.  It is important to distinguish between the two.  A title for an adult or older teen may possibly be too violent or have sexual imagery that you might not want your child to see.  However, this does not mean that the GN is bad; it’s just not suitable for children.  Another good site for a list is the ALA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/booklistsawards/greatgraphicnovelsforteens/gn.cfm.   This just started in 2007, mainly due to the popularity of graphics.

If you remember the Tintin books, you already know a graphic novel.  Tintin, and the Asterix and Obelix comics are early versions of GN’s, as are all those Classics Illustrated comics we read back in the day.

Here is my list of favorites.  If there is an * after the title, we own this one here at Plumb.  Otherwise, the title is something I’ve read, or something I own, and we can try to get it for you.

Titles for younger ages:

Babymouse series *, by Jennifer Holm (Acutally Jen’s Favorite).   Babymouse is a sassy young mouse with all of the dreams and desires of a regular girl.

crilley_akikocover1.jpgAkiko series, by Mark Crilley.  Akiko is a fourth grader who has adventures with a ragtag group of space “invaders” from the planet Smoo.  I like the incompetent, bombastic pirate Spuckler and his robot Gax.

Bone series*, by Jeff Smith.  Three characters are wandering the countryside, and get involved with a group of villagers and their fight against the stupid stupid rat creatures.  However, there is more to this than meets the eye.  This is better for older kids.

Girl Genius, by Phil and Kaja Foglio.   This comes from a genre known as steam punk, Jules Verne-like science fiction.  Agatha Heterodyne uses her incredible knowledge of engineering, and her incredible luck, to get out of tricky situations.  Also for older kids/younger teens.

Leave It to Chance, by James Robinson.  Combine Nancy Drew with the Night Stalker and you have the adventures of Chance Falconer, 14-year-old detective. leaveittochancejpeg.jpg

Older Teens and Adults

Grease Monkey*, by Tim Eldred.   Robin Plotnick is assigned to the space station Fist of Earth to work as a mechanic to a troop of space fighters.  His boss is a genetically enhanced gorilla.  Incredible art, great fight scenes, and lots of heart.  I love this book!grease-monkey.jpg

Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley.  Castle Waiting is a refuge for those who want to hide from the world, like a pregnant woman hiding from an abusive relationship, bearded ladies who used to be nuns, and a talking horse.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1, by Alan Moore.  Mina Harker gathers together a group of heroes from literature, such as Alan Quartermaine, the Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll, at the behest of the mysterious M, who is really Mycroft Holmes.  Full of detail, violent, and has sexual images.  Forget the movie, this book is MUCH better!  There is a Vol. 2, but it’s not quite as good as the first.

Sandman series, by Neil Gaiman.  This series is complex, beautiful, at times violent and confusing.  Death and his siblings confound humans and quarrel among themselves.   Artsy, moody older teens will like this series, if they don’t already know about it.  My favorite is Vol. 8, The World’s End, about an inn where travelers tell stories while the wait out a snowstorm.

Persepolis*; Persepolis 2, by Marjane Satrapi.  This is a memoir of sorts, about a girl growing up in Iran at the time of the Islamic Revolution.  She is sent to boarding school in Europe, which is the subject of the sequel.   The first book is being made into a movie.

Promethea series, by Alan Moore.  A teenage girl is obsessed with stories about the goddess Promethea until she takes on the role, becoming another in a series of Prometheas throughout history.  Alan Moore (who also wrote V for Vendetta, the Watchmen and many other fantastic GNs) constantly pushes the envelope in terms of layout, artwork, sexuality, what every you want.  Very much for adults, but worth looking at.

Maus; Maus II, by  Art Spiegelman.  The story of the Holocaust, but the Jews are mice, the Nazi’s are cats.  Tough to read, in places.

In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman.  Spiegelman lived very near the World Trade Center, and uses an interesting format to tell the story of that time.  He combines a love for older comics and a highly personal view of that fateful day, with criticism of the current administration in a large board book.

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Book Review: The Lumby Lines

lumby-lines.jpgIf you enjoy the type of books called “cozies”, you’ll love The Lumby Lines, by Gail Fraser.  A couple from Virginia vacationing in the Northwest fall in love with and purchase an old monastery, planning on turning it into an inn.  But first they have to win over the townspeople, especially the crusty publisher of the local paper, “The Lumby Lines”, William Beezer.  Interspersed with articles from the paper, the daily police blotter, what Hank the pink flamingo is wearing, and other aspects of small town life is the story of the renovation and how it causes the couple to fall in love with each other all over again.    There is also the additional romance between Brooke, an architect friend from Virginia, and Joshua, an ex-monk from Lumby.  If you liked the Jan Karon novels, you’ll like The Lumby Lines.

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Staff Recommendations: A Thousand Splendid Suns

I just finished the new book by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and it was very powerful.  Maybe not as emotional as The Kite Runner, but still it packed a punch.  Hosseini is a wonderful storyteller.  He immediately places you firmly in Afghanistan before the Russians invade, following the childhood of Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy Herat movie house owner.  When Mariam visits her father’s house, she sets off a series of events that end in her getting married to a shoemaker from Kabul.  He brutalizes her, then marries a younger, more educated woman, Laila, who is orphaned by the Afghanistan revolution.  Mariam and Laila develop a strong relationship against the grimness of life under the Taliban and their abusive husband.  I spent the better part of two nights absorbing  this fascinating book.  I truly could not stop reading it.  Highly recommended!

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