Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Outside of a Dog, #54

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

When the days are warm and sunny, what better way to spend your time than outside in the sun with a good book? “Beach Reads” are usually light, frothy titles, but we’ve included some serious fare, as well.

Queen of Babble – Meg Cabot
Lizzie is a fashion designer wannabe who only wants to graduate and go to England to live with her boyfriend, Andy. Unfortunately, she finds out that her plans aren’t necessarily going to go off without a hitch: Andy is a disaster (in more ways than one), and she has to write a thesis! She tells all of this to a handsome stranger on a train, but what will happen when Lizzie and the stranger both end up at the same summer Chateau? (This is the first book in the Queen of Babble trilogy.)
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Bandit Queen Boogie: A madcap caper of two accidental criminals – Sparkle Hayter
Two girls, complete opposites of each other, decide to backpack across Europe the summer they graduate from college. Traveling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, though, as Blackie and Chloe end up taking sleazy married men for all they’re worth, and using their loot to fund a higher style of vacation.
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Summer Sisters – Judy Blume
A serious novel from one of the pioneers of literature that challenges readers of all ages. Caitlin and Vix, girls from different class and family backgrounds, spend summers together from their teenage years well into adulthood, but the changes each girl goes through might send the other spiraling out of control.
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Everyone Worth Knowing – Lauren Weisberger
The author of “The Devil Wears Prada,” Weisberger visits the New York scene again, this time with another working girl trying to make good. Bette (read here by Buffy, Tru Calling, and Dollhouse star Eliza Dushku) lands a job in the exclusive PR industry. What follows is a whirlwind journey, much in the style of Prada, exposing the underbelly of the shiny, glittering world of celebrity.
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The Ivy Chronicles – Karen Quinn
In New York, everything is competitive, especially private school admissions. Ivy Ames loses her corporate job, her cheating husband, and her Park Avenue pad, and starts from scratch, advising families how to get their kids into the best private schools. While she sometimes toes the moral line, her story is a touching, fun ride.
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The Goddess Rules – Clare Naylor
Naylor, best known for her novel “The Second Assistant,” delves into the style of an aging French film star. Mirabelle Moncur advises artist Kate on how best to get what she wants out of life, without letting herself down.
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Friday, June 26, 2009

Read this book, fast as lightning!

Today’s Book: The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1

The plot: Perseus Jackson, troubled New York kid who gets kicked out of school regularly, finds out that he’s actually a demigod, and that all the Greek gods and goddesses are real (and lots of them are related to him!) In this first book, he’s accused of stealing Zeus’ original lightning bolt, and sent on a dangerous quest with his best friend Grover (a satyr who’s searching for the god Pan) and Annabeth (a demigod daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom) to retrieve it and prove himself innocent.

Why You’ll Love It: As epic as Harry Potter, but with a little more real world, and a lot more attitude. Riordan creates a world alongside ours that makes a lot of sense (the entrance to the Underworld is in Los Angeles, and the entrance to Mount Olympus is at the top of the Empire State Building), all the while including chunks of Greek myth; Percy meets Medusa, who sells garden statuary out of the people she turns to stone. And Percy, while a hero very much like the wizard Potter, is a little less tragic, and little more sarcastic. Part of the fun is reading his reactions to all of the new things his new world has to offer.

Who Will/Should Read It: While the Percy books are classified as juvenile/children's, readers of all ages can find delight in his stories. Chapters are short (only about ten pages each), so it makes for a great read-before-bed book. Read if you loved Harry or Charlie Bone, and especially if you have an interest in Greek mythology.

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Also available as an e-audio book!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Outside of a Dog, #53

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

Summer’s here, and the time is right for a family vacation! Whether you journey to a theme park, out of the country, or simply out of the city for a few days, here are some travel books we suggest.

FamilyFun Vacation Guide: The Great Lakes
FamilyFun magazine, published by Disney, aims to show kids and parents alike how to create memorable vacations and great family activities. There are several FamilyFun Vacation Guides; this one focuses on the Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
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Walt Disney World & Orlando 2009 – Frommer’s
Frommer’s is one of the best known and respected travel guide publishers. They have been producing travel guides since 1957. If you’re headed to Florida for Walt Disney World, or just to get some sun, check out this newest arrival.
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Lake Michigan Backroads: Your guide to wild and scenic adventures in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana – Robert W. Domm
Listed here are 19 backroads driving tours around the Lake Michigan area. Take these tours and see nature and the state like you never have before!
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Frommer’s Family Vacations in the National Parks – Charles Wohlforth
Once again, Frommer’s makes the list, this time with suggestions for the best places in national parks to camp and see the sights.
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100 Best Cruise Vacations – Theodore Scull
Another option still is to take a cruise. This book will suggest some of the best trips, how much they cost, and how to get the most out of them.
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Art in Detroit Public Places – Dennis Nawrocki
If you’re staying in Detroit this summer, why not check out some of the great art on display everywhere in the city?
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And don’t forget – the Warren Public Libraries offer the Museum Adventure Pass, sponsored by Macy’s! Check out two and four FREE admissions to some of the great museums and sights in the state! Stop by for a booklet with all the information, and stay tuned to this blog for more details on how the program works!

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Check Out" a Museum!

Did you know you can “check out” a museum in the Detroit area? You can, with the Museum Adventure Pass, sponsored by Macy’s!

Come into any Warren library branch, and take a look at the selection, then check out your free pass to many of Detroit’s attractions.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Come into a Warren library.
  2. Browse the available tickets on the display.
  3. Choose a ticket and take it to the Circulation Desk, just like you were checking out a book.
  4. The librarian will give you a paper ticket to your museum of choice.
    1. You may check out one pass per library card, per week.
    2. Each pass is good for one week from the date you check out.
    3. Each museum only has five passes available at any one time. If they are all checked out, choose a different museum, or wait for the pass to be checked in again.
    4. We cannot place holds on museum passes.

The Museum Adventure Pass includes tickets to the Detroit Institute of Arts, MOCAD, The Henry Ford Fairlane Estate, and Arts and Scraps, as well as many more!

The Detroit Institute of Arts is a two-person pass this year, and it is one of the most popular museums available. You’re welcome to call ahead to find out if a pass is checked in. All libraries have a free paper booklet with the pass restrictions, museum addresses and hours available for the taking, and there's a website (linked above) with all the information you need, as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Outside of a Dog, #52

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

While Mother’s Day was last month, and Father’s Day is in a few weeks, we’ve decided to present a couple of selections both about, featuring, and for your Moms and Dads.

The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them – Amy Dickinson

Dickinson tells the audience in this quaint autobiography, that she never meant to become an advice columnist. When she took over for the late Ann Landers, she never expected her column, “Ask Amy,” to take off like it did, and she found herself, years later, revisiting the town and life that led to her success.

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Certain Girls – Jennifer Weiner

A continuation of 2001’s “Good in Bed,” “Certain Girls” revisits Candace ‘Cannie’ Shapiro, who, after making the mistake of sleeping with an ex at his father’s funeral, found herself pregnant with a baby girl. In “Certain Girls,” Jewish Candace’s daughter Joy is about to turn 13 and take her bat mitzvah, and there’s certain rebellion brewing between mother and daughter. Read the predecessor before starting this one.

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Chocolat [DVD]

Based on the book by prolific author Joanne Harris, Chocolat visits a small village in the French countryside in 1960. Mother Vianne and her daughter Anouk travel whenever the wind blows cold, and this time, it’s landed them in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, France, a very religious town. Vianne creates a stir with her ‘magical’ chocolate shop, which is scandalously open on Sundays, and begins to make positive changes in some of the townspeople. Anouk’s story continues in 2008’s “The Girl With No Shadow.”

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A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce – Alec Baldwin

While few people thought of Alec Baldwin as little more than a decent actor from a troubled celebrity family, a voice mail released to the public in April 2007 changed public perception of him as a father forever. Here, he writes about his custody battles for daughter Ireland, and suggests ways of making divorce proceedings less drawn-out and painful for all parties involved, especially non-custodial parents.


The Given Day – Dennis Lehane

Two families in 1918 Boston, one black, one white, are shown through the filter of post-World-War-I strife. Here there are unions, strikes, illness, and throughout all, family. Lehane’s eighth standalone book is lauded and reviewed as one of his best, most richly illustrated, and epic.

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The Pursuit of Happyness [DVD]

The true tale of Chris Gardner, a promising scientific researcher who had once wanted to be a doctor, is told here with heartwarming, heartbreaking acting by star Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith. The original book explained that Gardner had accepted an unpaid position on Wall Street in order to move up the ranks and become a good father for his son, early on abandoned by his mother; and the movie does not stray from this. A good read or movie to watch with the family.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Outside of a Dog, #51

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

This weekend marks the first of three annual NASCAR races to be held at the Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn, Michigan. Next weekend is the 11th Annual Cruisin’ Gratiot in Eastpointe, Michigan. Later this summer, we’ll be celebrating the 15th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

In honor of these high-speed and classic car events, we’ve put together a list of great books, movies, and resources all about cars!

One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR swept the nation – Liz Clarke

While NASCAR is often parodied for being all brawn and no brains, sportswriter Clarke’s book has taken on the task of showing the world the history of the sport – from dirt tracks to national speedways. She interviews some iconic figures, as well as some new up and coming drivers, too.

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Metro Girl/ Motor Mouth (The Alex Barnaby Series) – Janet Evanovich

While Janet Evanovich’s Plum books are widely anticipated (Finger Lickin’ Fifteen is due out June 15), these two books featuring a brash mechanic’s daughter are comic misadventures very much like the Stephanie Plum novels. Here, in Metro Girl, Alex’s brother, a NASCAR driver, has disappeared, and she has to team up with another driver to find him. In the sequel, Motor Mouth, Alex and her on-again off-again boyfriend, driver Sam Hooker, have to discover why there’s a dead sponsor in another driver’s hauler.

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Tradin’ Paint: Raceway Rookies and Royalty – Terry Bisson

This kids’ book will introduce young readers to the brightly-colored world of NASCAR, with information about the drivers and cars you’ll find at the track. (The title refers to slang about what happens when two cars crash on the track – they ‘trade paint.’)

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Cars [DVD]

Cars features Pixar animation, comedy, and a host of famous actors and actresses lending their voices to the cartoon cars (main character Lightning McQueen is Owen Wilson, and tow-truck Tow Mater is voiced by country comedian Larry the Cable Guy.) Great fun for adults and kids alike, like all Pixar films to date.


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And don’t forget that if you’re a handyman looking to fix your own car, the Warren Public Libraries offer access to the Chilton Library database, and limited access to AllData database. Ask your reference librarian how to look up the parts and info you need to make your ride good as new.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Outside of a Dog, #50

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

Hooray, our 50th column! Since we started Outside of a Dog in January 2008, we’ve done 50 columns of all shapes, sizes, and recommendations – in total, we’ve suggested over 250 books to our patrons. Today’s list contains new books from each of the four Warren libraries. If you’re not sure what to read now, why not take a chance on a new-to-you book?

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Bright Futures: A Lew Fonseca Mystery – Stuart M. Kaminsky

Lew Fonseca, late of 2006’s “Always Say Goodbye” is a private detective who up and left his life in Illinois after his wife died. He ended up in Sarasota, Florida, finding lost people and often being tailed by scarier ones. In this tale, he thinks he has his work cut out for him, but he’s about to find more twists and turns than he expects!

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Mrs. Astor Regrets: The hidden betrayals of a family beyond reproach – Meryl Garden

Life amongst millionaires and celebrities is always something we look at with anticipation. However, in this year’s biography about the misuse of money and mistreatment of mothers, we find that the lifestyles of the rich and the famous aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.

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Angels of Destruction – Keith Donohue

Margaret Quinn, a widow, seeks lost connections with an orphan in this novel set in 1985. Her daughter, Erica, ran away before the book begins to join the titular revolutionary group. Since then, Margaret’s life has been a lonely one. When 9-year-old Norah happens by her doorstep, looking for help and a home, Margaret creates a backstory for the young girl, shaping her into the granddaughter she never got to have.

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Negotiating With the Dead: A Writer on Writing – Margaret Atwood

Author of over twenty-five books, novels, and anthologies, Margaret Atwood is a Canadian legend. Her dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” made a splash when it premiered in 1985, and her 2000 work “The Blind Assassin” won the Booker Prize for fiction. Here, she discusses what it means to be a writer, both from her perspective and that of other famous and not-so-famous writers.

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Illegal – Paul J. Levine

Edgar-nominated author Levine’s work has spanned almost two decades and a variety of mediums; he has written novels and episodes of the television series JAG. Here, in one of his few standalone novels, we meet shyster lawyer Jimmy “Royal” Paine, who’s on the run because of his latest lawbreaking adventure. He is almost robbed, then begged for help by 12-year-old illegal alien boy Timo. Paine is then sent on a thrilling journey to find Timo’s mother, which will take him across state, country, and moral lines.

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The Wikipedia Revolution: How a bunch of nobodies created the world’s greatest encyclopedia – Andrew Lih

As the saying goes, veni vidi wiki (Mental Floss). One of the top ten most visited sites, and trusted for quick, mostly reliable information, Wikipedia is almost always one of the first sites to come up on a search engine. This is the inside story of how it began, and how it still continues on today.

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Maybelle Burnette Branch

Natural Elements – Richard Mason

A third novel of epic proportions, Natural Elements is a historical work that mixes together rich widows, the French Resistance, the Boer War, and metallurgy. If you’re curious as to how that works, come and check this book out!

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What Was I Thinking?: 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories – Barbara Davilman

A collection of humorous essays about real life bad boyfriends and the actresses, authors, and everyday women who had to deal with them. Included here are stories by Carrie Fisher, Francesca Lia Block, and Cindy Chupack (of Sex and the City/"He’s Just Not That Into You" fame.)

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