Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

Janie Jenkins was imprisoned at 17 for the murder of her socialite mother, but now she’s been freed on a technicality. In a whirlwind of bad press, hounded by a vengeful blogger who offers a reward for information about her location, Jenkins slips under the radar and goes sleuthing in disguise.  Is she searching for the real killer? Or for herself?

She no longer remembers exactly what happened that night. She only knows that she and her cold, manipulative mother never got along, and that her memories begin in a pool of blood. Not knowing is worse than anything, and she can’t let go of the past until she finds out for sure. Who was her mother? Where did she come from? And what got her killed?

Dear Daughter is a fast-moving thriller with a kick-ass potty-mouthed jailbird heroine, and a few good twists that will keep you asking questions up to the end. Poor little rich girl gone bad? Or gone good? Wouldn’t you like to know?

Friday, September 26, 2014

October Computer Classes

The Newport Public Library will offer the following free classes during the month of October. 

  • Introduction to Library2Go will be taught on Friday, October 3 at 9:00 a.m. This class teaches how to create an account with Library2Go and download ebooks and audiobooks. At 10:00 a.m., Introduction to Publisher will be offered. Publisher is a desktop publishing program that can be used to create posters and greeting cards. 

  • A new class will be taught on Friday, October 10 at 10:00 a.m. Internet Safety: Avoid Getting Scammed Online, which will share tips on avoiding identity theft and financial fraud when using the internet. 
  • Introduction to Facebook will be taught on October 17 at 9:00 a.m. This class teaches the basic features of Facebook, with an emphasis on privacy settings. At 10:00 a.m., we will offer a class on using Novelist and Goodreads. Novelist is a database of books, authors, and book recommendations, and Goodreads is a free website for tracking and rating books read. 

  • On Friday October 24, Introduction to PowerPoint will be taught. This class will cover how to create a slideshow with text and images. 
  • On Saturday, October 25, Beginning Computer will be offered at 1:00 p.m. This class covers how to use a mouse, create folders, and open programs on the desktop. The computers used have the Windows 7 operating system.
  • Genealogy Research using HeritageQuest will be taught on Friday, October 31, at 9 a.m. HeritageQuest includes U.S. Census Records going back to 1790, as well as other historical documents. Beginning Internet will be offered at 10:00 a.m., and covers how to use a web browser and search the internet. 

All classes are free and last one hour. Registration is required. For more information, please call (541) 265-2153 or check the library's website.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Delightful Trio for Dog and Nature Lovers by Ted Kerasote

I’m a sucker for any book with a dog on the cover.  And although I view non-fiction books on a par with Brussell sprouts – good for you, but not my first choice as a treat – I took a chance on Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote a few years ago.  While on a rafting trip, travel writer Ted finds a 10-month old yellow lab pup at his campsite.  Ted isn’t immediately sold on the idea of adopting the stray, but Merle had other ideas and tagged along on the remainder of Ted’s rafting trip, and then home to Kelly, Wyoming.  Like most dog-lovers, Ted had strong preconceived notions about raising and owning a dog, most of which were derived from bad science and misplaced societal perceptions.  Merle set out to set Ted straight on a number of issues.  Merle’s Door is part love story, part action/adventure, and part philosophical musing as Ted chronicles his adventures hunting elk with Merle, teaching him the various animals of Yellowstone National Park, and learning to allow him the freedom to become his own dog.  Ted isn’t afraid to examine his own motivations, and his keen observations and vivid descriptions make the book a real joy to read.    It changed the way I view companion animal training, and I regularly recommend it to patrons checking out books on canine obedience. 

Spoiler alert:  like most dog books, Merle’s Door ends shortly after Merle’s passing at the age of fourteen. So I was delighted a few weeks ago to discover two new books by Ted!  After many years of mourning the loss of his beloved Merle, Ted got a new puppy.  I admit, Pukka:  The Pup After Merle is basically an adult picture book.  That said, it’s still well worth the hour it will take you to ooooh and ahhhh over the gorgeous shots of the chubby yellow puppy playing in the wildflowers of Wyoming, and chuckle at the witty narrative as Pukka describes his first months with Ted.  But it’s not sappy or patronizing.  Allow yourself the guilty pleasure, and you’ll come away with a smile on your face and a warm spot on your heart.  It’s the book all our dogs would write if they had unlimited access to our computers. 

Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for a Longer-Lived Dog is a bit more of a time investment but equally entertaining.  Ted combines diligent research, courageous self-examination and skillful writing in an attempt to answer the question every pet owner has asked, “Why must our dogs die so young?”  He presents a fair and well-considered look at past and current philosophies on nutrition, exercise, vaccines, breeding programs, spay and neuter options, shelters and training, interspersed with humor and adventure as Pukka hunts elk and skis the Rockies, learns not to bark or chase large animals, and finds his place in the Kelly dog pack and Ted’s heart.  Pukka’s Promise is a must read for any dog owner interested in keeping their beloved companion healthy and active for as long as possible.

Monday, September 22, 2014

...for the bullied and the beautiful

I discovered Shane Koyczan for the first time at my stepdaughter’s high school graduation ceremony, when one of the young men in her class performed a poem entitled “Remember How We Forgot.” It really moved me, and I went home and downloaded it onto my MP3 player so that I could hear it again, and again, and again-- and investigated. Who is this Koyczan guy that he can get teenage guys to voluntarily perform poetry in front of huge crowds of people?

The answer is—he’s a Canadian spoken word poet and writer, and he’s amazing. His performance of his poem “To This Day: for the bullied and the beautiful” went viral on Youtube, and he performed it in a TED talk as well. In that poem, he shares his own experience of being bullied, and finding the strength not to internalize the cruelty. Here is a small piece, and I urge you to check out the full performance:

I’m not the only kid
who grew up this way
surrounded by people who used to say
that rhyme about sticks and stones
as if broken bones
hurt more than the names we got called
and we got called them all
so we grew up believing no one
would ever fall in love with us
that we’d be lonely forever
that we’d never meet someone
to make us feel like the sun
was something they built for us
in their tool shed

We just purchased a graphic novel version of To This Day, with beautiful emotive illustrations by thirty international artists. Check it out.

And click on the play button below to hear Koyzcan perform.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bowl Of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

A few hundred years into the future, Earth has become an ecological wasteland. In a final act of desperation, humanity sends out a shipload of carefully picked colonists, who, in deep sleep and piloted by a skeleton crew, journey to a planet nicknamed Glory. There, mankind hopes to start again.

After decades of travel and nearing their destination, the colonists aboard Sunseeker encounter a bowl-shaped object bigger than the biggest solar system. Powered by a star locked within a gravity well, this “Bowl of Heaven” is astounding in its size and complexity. From viewing areas aboard the ship, the crew can make out mountain ranges as big as planets, hurricanes larger than the moon, and flashes of lightning longer than the Mississippi River.

The crew aboard the Sunseeker awaken a team of scientists to land on the bowl and explore. And so the adventure begins.

I found both “Bowl of Heaven” and its sequel, “Shipstar” to be a wonder-filled and imaginative read, filled with outrageous alien species, enviable super-futuristic technology and just enough true science to keep it real. 

You can reserve the first book, Bowl of Heaven, here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ARRR You Ready to Talk Like a Pirate?

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19! 

Do you know the difference between “me matey” and “me hearty?” A “lass” and a “wench?”

If not, we have the perfect program for you, Mango Languages! Mango is a language learning database that is free to Newport Library card holders. It has lessons for studying dozens of languages online, including Pirate! 

Just log in to Mango with your Newport Library card and PIN, and click on the link to Start Learning

You can scroll through a series of lessons, and become fluent in Pirate in no time! 

Of course, Mango also has courses in other languages from all over the world—Spanish and Danish, Yiddish and Finnish, Croatian and Korean—there are 63 languages in all!  

Here is a short video to get you started in Pirate Talk!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cats on the Case

I like mysteries with animals, especially cats. Animals are insightful in ways not possible in less sensitive humans. Some of my favorite cat and detective pairings are Mrs. Murphy and Pewter (Rita Mae Brown), Midnight Louie (Carole Douglas), and of course Koko and Yum Yum (Lilian Jackson Braun). In these mysteries the cats (and their other animal friends) talk to us as readers, but their humans are woefully unable to understand the often very important messages coming from their eager helpmates.

This isn't the case in Grey Zone by Clea Simon. Mr. Grey talks loud and clear (when he feels like it), not to just to us but also to his owner, an often misunderstood doctoral student Dulcinea Schwartz, Dulcie for short. Some of us who are cat owners might not find talking cats too big a reach, but here’s the kicker…Mr. Grey is a ghost cat.

As Dulcei moves in and out of the Harvard campus and Boston proper, she’s trying to piece together her life around a missing student, a suicide, her stalled doctorate paper, her insecurities about her own fast moving relationship with boyfriend Chris, and wondering if hearing a ghost cats talk is really a sign that she’s headed around the bend. Oh, and little troublemaker kitten Esme, Mr. Grey’s earthbound replacement…does she talk to Dulci too?


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reading in the Digital Age

In what ways do ebooks serve or change the act of reading? As reading becomes a predominantly digital experience, what effects might this have on writing and on our interactions with information overall? The works of an author are the same whether published in print or pixels. But, does a book read the same way on page as on screen?

In response to these questions, the Newport Public Library will host “From Print to Pixels: The Act of Reading in the Digital Age,” a free conversation with Portland author Mark Cunningham on Sunday, September 14 at 2:00 p.m. This program is sponsored by Oregon Humanities.

Cunningham most recent book is The Flickering Page: The Reading Experience in Digital Times, which weaves together some of the most cogent thought of the past fifty years, urging readers to consider anew the many questions about our technological revolution that remain far from settled.   He has also published the illustrated limited edition short story collection Date of Disappearance, the novels The Green Age of Asher Witherow and Lost Son, and another work of nonfiction,  The Honorable Obscurity Handbook.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Smoke Signals on the Big Screen

Smoke Signals, September's Literary Flicks selection, will be shown at the library on Tuesday, September 9 at 6:30 p.m. 

This 1998 film is based on Sherman Alexie's book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.  Skinny, nerdy Thomas Builds-the-Fire and stoic, athletic Victor Joseph are Coeur d'Alene Indians who leave their reservation for the first time to retrieve the ashes of Victor's father, Albert Joseph.

Thomas and Victor's fates were linked by a calamity from the cradle. Thomas was an infant when his parents were killed in a fire; it was Victor's father who saved him. Victor has not seen his father since Albert walked out on his family in an inebriated fury 10 years before. As the movie settles into the rhythms of a road picture, the two characters converse, and the dialogue becomes the heart of the movie.   The movie won both the coveted Audience Award and the Filmmakers’ Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Admission is free, as is the popcorn!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kill My Mother

I was first introduced to Jules Feiffer’s work in college when my then-boyfriend (now-husband) informed me that The Phantom Tollbooth, illustrated by Feiffer, was one of his very favorite books and I should read it with all possible urgency. I loved Feiffer's artwork and have made it a point to keep an eye on him over the years.

He’s come out with two awesome (and wildly different) books in 2014: Rupert Can Dance, a children’s picture book about a cat who likes to break it down while his little girl sleeps, and Kill My Mother, a graphic novel inspired by the pulpy noir fiction and films of Feiffer’s childhood. I came by an advanced reading copy of the latter at a library conference in Indianapolis last March. The weather was below freezing, and a bunch of us librarians had to wait in the cold for a bus back to our hotel from the conference center. I pulled out Kill my Mother and totally forgot about how miserably cold I was as I fell into a Chandler-Hammett land peopled by thugs, starlets, crooners, and cross dressers. As soon as I finished the book I called my husband and informed him he had to read this book with all possible urgency. Turnabout is fair play!