Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To howl for

Although vampires seem to be all the rage in the paranormal fiction world, I like a good werewolf story. The werewolf is like your nice next door neighbor, with low cut jeans and possibly a military haircut, who gets a little hairy on the night of the full moon.

Not one but two scary, spine tingling, slavering werewolf stories are out there right now. One is Frostbite by David Wellington, a modern-day werewolf novel that doesn’t take for granted the dual nature of the werewolf. The other book is Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow, a tense, scary story written in free verse.

If you want your pulse to race, you’ll find both books here at Newport Public Library. Bon appetite!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Mightier than the sword

A military force from a technologically advanced culture moves to a land inhabited by naked, spear-throwing people. One of the soldiers studies the language, and is accepted as a friend by some of the inhabitants. This same soldier is ordered to take part in an attack on the village, and struggles with the conflict between his love of the people and his duty.

Am I talking about the new James Cameron movie, Avatar?   No.   Set in Australia in 1788, The Lieutenant, by Kate Grenville, follows the fictional life of Daniel Rooke, a young astronomer in the Royal Marines.

A shy introvert, Rooke found refuge in the world of mathematics and astronomy. When he sets up an observatory overlooking Sydney Cove, several children visit him and he starts to notice a pattern in their words. Unbeknownst to his shipmates, he begins to methodically record the vocabulary and grammar of the language. Over time he forms a close friendship with Tagaran, a girl who is ten or twelve years old.

She never tired of giving him words, or of learning the English in exchange. Like Warungin, she was a vivid mimic and seemed to love the moment of seeing him understand.

Rooke’s grasp of the language and culture lead him to question an order to capture and execute six adult males from the village. Without giving too much away, I will say he is a gentle hero in this novel, and I was pleased to learn that his character was based on William Dawes, an astronomer who sailed to New South Wales and later became an abolitionist.

In The Lieutenant, Kate Grenville delivers a beautifully wrought tale that demonstrates the power of communication and understanding.

Newport Library Reaches Out

For Newport residents who are physically unable to visit the library, we offer a personalized outreach program. Screened volunteers regularly visit Newport patrons, deliver materials and take requests for the next visit.

Outreach coordinator Lynn Dennis also schedules regular visits to several sites within Newport such as Oceanview Senior Living and Pacific Homes Beach Club.

For more information about our Outreach program, or if you would like to volunteer for this service, give us a call at 265-2153 or read more about our Outreach Services here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid

Beneath the Bleeding, the fifth Tony Hill & Carol Jordan book, starts out with Dr. Tony Hill getting whacked in the leg with a fire-axe while heroically attempting to subdue a maddened patient. Between shots of morphine and hallucinatory visits from his mother, an abusive and narcissistic woman, he lies in the hospital puzzling over the mysterious death by poisoning of a popular footballer. Then the plot thickens.

When an apparent terrorist attack kills over 30 people at a sporting event, Hill’s colleague and friend DCI Jordan has the case—for an hour, before the anti-terrorism unit reaches the scene. But she can’t, or won’t let it go. With Hill’s help, she and her squad stubbornly follow up on leads that don’t fit into popular theories about the attack.

Hill is a damaged soul, years of childhood abuse having forced a protective armor between his professional mask and his true self. DCI Jordan has a drinking problem, a muddled past, and armor nearly as thick as Hill’s. Strangely, they make a great team, understanding each other the way no one else can and complementing each other’s strengths. As British mysteries go, this is a darker, modern series; not gory, but intense, well-written and character driven. It inspired a British television series, Wire in the Blood, which is also available through the library system.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One more favorite thing

From our Library Director, Ted Smith:

My favorite Christmas tale is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. But I'm not being completely honest. Long before I ever read Dickens, I looked forward each Christmas to watching Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol on TV. Yep, I cut my teeth on Dickens through a 1962 cartoon starring Mr. Magoo. How’s that for sophistication and savoir faire.

Who can forget the voice of the irascible Jim Backus as the bumbling, nearsighted Ebenezer Scrooge? Many of you may be more familiar with him from his role as multimillionaire Thurston Howell, III on Gilligan’s Island, another highly sophisticated program that I routinely devoured.

What was it that entranced me about Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol? Why, the story, of course. The first time I saw this wonderful Christmas program I was taken in by the contrasts.
Magoo/Scrooge had everything he could ever need, but he was unhappy, mean, dispirited and without friends. Bob Cratchit, his son Tiny Tim and the whole Cratchit family were the exact opposite of Magoo. They had nothing. Magoo made poor Bob work in a cold, drafty space, AND he had to work Christmas Eve and even Christmas Day. In the midst of their poverty and mistreatment the Cratchit family was filled with peace, love and charity. They were happy to share what little they had. They didn’t return evil for evil, but practiced forgiveness; and even though Tim suffered from an unnamed disease that could/would be fatal – remember we’re dealing with time and dreams and spirits and all that good stuff here, so Tim could die and then not be dead – the family was able to find joy in the midst of their predicaments.

I was always touched – I confess, I often cried, even well into my teens, while watching this movie.

I can still sing some of the lyrics with Tiny Tim that speak of his desire to have “Razzleberry Dressing” for Christmas dinner. My kids think I’m insane because not one Christmas goes by that I don’t ask for Razzleberry Dressing. Even now, as I write this silly blog, I am warmed at the remembrance of times past with my brother and sister, snuggled up by an old black and white TV, watching Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.

If you’ve never seen it, you’ll probably need to purchase a copy, because once you see it, you’ll want to watch it every year. (And as of this writing, the Newport Library does not have a copy.) Yeah, the animation techniques are old, and it’s not in 3D or HD or any of that other high tech, digital stuff. It’s just all about the story, man.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Home grown books

I don’t know if long wet winters are conducive to successful writing, but Oregon has more than its share of up-and-coming and well-established authors. I recently joined the Oregon Authors Committee of the Oregon Library Association, and found out just how prolific Oregon’s writing community really is!

For many years the committee published an annual book called “Oregon Authors Bibliography,” which listed titles published in a given year by authors living in Oregon. The bibliographies are no longer printed, but the information is now added to a website,

Every few months committee members receive a packet of news clippings from newspapers around the state, announcing a recent book, a speaking engagement, or a literary award for an Oregon writer. We take those clippings as a starting point and add the writers to the web bibliography. I’ve been awed by the quantity and quality of writing that our state nurtures! Authors may also create an account and add their own information.

The Newport Library currently has a display of books by Oregon authors. Many of them are local writers whose names are familiar in Lincoln County and beyond; Michele Longo Eder, Andrew Vachss, Richard Kennedy, and M.K. Wren are just a few.

The next time you’re looking for something to read, take a look at the Oregon Authors website. Reading a good book will help you enjoy these wet winter months.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Satisfying Science Fiction news

Joe Haldeman has been named a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Association. The designation is awarded for lifetime achievement, and is the sf world's highest honor.

This news thrills me, because Haldeman is one of my favorite authors. He is the author whose books I recommend to people who don't like science fiction. His book The Forever War is one of the most powerful novels about war and its consequences I've ever read.

(Unfortunately, The Forever War is not, at this exact moment, available from the library; but we're fixing that. I promise.)

If you think you don't like science fiction, try Haldeman. And if you're curious, see a list of the other 26 SFWA Grand Masters here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Of Our Favorite Things

Feeling a bit Scroogish this Christmas? I've got a recommendation for you.

You may be one of the millions who never watched Veronica Mars. The television show had a Nancy Drewish premise - a teenage girl private investigator - and was canceled after not quite three seasons in 2004. But this was like Nancy Drew as written by Raymond Chandler. Set in a luridly pretty southern California high school, it was a cynical little show, and our heroine, an angry and bitter rape-survivor played by Kristen Bell, was sometimes more interested in wreaking vengeance than in discovering the truth.

The centerpiece of the first season of Veronica Mars is "An Echolls Family Christmas."

Logan Echolls is Veronica's nemesis, a rich, handsome boy whom she calls, in the pilot episode, a "psychotic jackass." In "An Echolls Family Christmas," we get a glimpse into Logan's home life. His parents, a washed-up movie star and his trophy wife (the perfectly-cast Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna) are throwing a Christmas party. Beneath the tacky decorations we soon find theft, adultery, blackmail, attempted murder, and a lot of people frantically pretending to be something they're not. The episode closes with fake snow being showered through the warm California night onto hired carolers.

If It's A Wonderful Life seems just a little too sweet this year, give Veronica Mars a try.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Few Of Our Favorite Things -- a continuing series

Today's holiday favorite is brought to us by Karel, who writes:

Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb is not your traditional Christmas inspirational novel. If the edge of hysteria is your over-riding feeling for the holidays, then this book may be perfect for you. Set in the 1960’s it is a nostalgic look backward when many of us late baby boomers were kids. The Mickey Mouse Club, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, and early TV with the universal adoration of Annette Funicello make their appearances in a pin-ball machine like hilarity. The reader pings, dings, and ricochets from one hysterical scene to the next to a final culmination in the great tableaux vivant staged at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School. If you are in need of some belly laughs for the holidays then try Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Clinical Obsession With Word Games is . . .


[Factitious word derived from a conflation of PARANOMASIA(word-play) and MANIA]
also known as
Dialogues of the Dead
by Reginald Hill
Dialogues of the Dead is Reginald Hill’s 19th book in the Dalziel and Pascoe mystery series; I would recommend the whole series for readers of British mystery, but Dialogues is the most enjoyable of all. The plot is measured out almost musically, leading the reader in merry circles with red herrings and word games. (Paranomania was the British edition title, and is also the name of a board game instrumental in the workings of the mystery.)

Detective Superintendent Dalziel is a bit of a cliché; the hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, super-sized paragon of gruffness hiding, of course, a fine intellect and a loyal heart, not to mention an ability to dance like an angel. Pascoe, his Detective Inspector, is, in contrast, a finely-built over-educated toff with a reserved manner, (also hiding, of course, a fine intellect and a loyal heart.) While these two display their usual crime-solving prowess, plus or minus some paranoia, suspicion, and a few wild goose chases, Detective Constable Bowler (Hat Bowler, to you) steals the show.

A short story contest brings the nutters out of the woodwork, and when a pair of university librarians notice that two of the story submissions refer to deaths strikingly similar to ‘accidents’ that later appear in the newpaper, they mention it to Bowler, who has been hanging about the library cherchez-ing la femme—la femme librarian Rye Pomona, that is. Thus begins a dance with a serial murderer that includes bird-watching, archeology, and all 20 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary. Loads of fun, and as a matter of fact, if you grab this one, plan on getting number 20, Death’s Jest Book, as well—there’s a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Few Of Our Favorite Things -- a continuing series

Today's holiday recommendation comes from Jan, who writes:

My favorite Christmas book is a not-so-well-known children’s story by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. The Song of the Christmas Mouse, written in 1990, is the heartwarming tale of a boy’s quest to befriend an orphaned field mouse, and how in return the mouse adds to the magic of Christmas.

Re-reading the story each Christmas helps me to remember that even unappreciated family is important, that the spirit of the holidays comes from the heart, and that sometimes magic comes from unexpected sources.

The illustrations are not fancy, but that only seems to add to this book's charm. It’s a short book, only about 85 pages, perfect for a family holiday read aloud.

Do you have a favorite Christmas read aloud? Share your comments below.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Want to keep track of your reading?

Ever taken out a book and find that you've read it before (and once was enough)? Have trouble figuring out which of the dozens of Lilian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who ___" series you haven't read yet? Library Thing, at, or Goodreads, at, are two websites that will help you keep track of your reading, online.

Both have essentially the same features, although Goodreads is completely free, and Library Thing costs $10/year if you want to store more than 200 books. Enter in the title of your book, and as much other information as you want. There are options to sort your books into categories, like "Want to Read", "Currently Reading", or "Audiobooks." You can type a quick review, if you like, or rate it with stars. It can be as simple or as complex as you like. Personally, I keep it simple; all I enter is title and a 'quick edit' star rating. I have an "Audiobooks" category, a general "Already Read" category, and a "Want to Read" category. It takes less time and is much more organized than the scattered little notes I used to write myself, and is a lot more versatile than just using a spreadsheet-- although Goodreads will export to a spreadsheet, should you want to print out in a convenient format.

Both sites also suggests books based on what you've read, and give you access to the reviews and recommendations of your fellow social networkers; but you don't have to participate or pay attention to that if you prefer not to. You can browse the shelves of people who seem to have similar tastes for new reading ideas, or join discussion groups. You can even 'friend' people, and keep up with their new additions.

Below, I've included a widget (something either Goodreads or Library Thing will cook up for you, if you would like to post what you've read on your own blog, wiki, or website!) It shows a selection of books I've read within the past couple years. Some have my ratings, some do not; I only started doing that recently. These sites may be the answer for those of you who wish the library would keep records of all the books you've checked out in the past-- we can't do it because of privacy issues, but Goodreads and Library Thing make it fun and easy for you to do it yourself.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Zombie Prom, the art of henna tattooing, creating manga. These are just some of the recent themes you’ve missed if you haven’t yet made it to Newport Library’s Teen Third Thursday. Third Thursday, from 7pm - 9 pm, T.T.T. gives teens a chance to try something new and experience life out of the dull little box that Newport might seem sometimes.

Click HERE to check out some of the upcoming themes we have scheduled. Registration is required; we want to make sure we have enough FREE PIZZA for everyone. Check out Teen Third Thursday at Newport Library.