Monthly Archives: June 2011

Staff Pick – Strike Zone

Strike Zone by Jim Bouton & Eliot Asinof

If you were a baseball fan in the 1960s-70s, you likely know the name Jim Bouton. His book then, BALL FOUR, was non-fiction. This book, STRIKE ZONE, written some 20 years later, is fiction, which he wrote with Eliot Asinof, who also had a baseball career.

Bouton uses his experience as an all-star pitcher for the Yankees to create a story that brings baseball so alive you feel like you are right there at the game that is the main feature of this book. Rookie pitcher Sam Ward marvels that he’s been selected to pitch this final game of the regular season, but he rises to the challenge, making use of his best weapon, the knuckleball pitch.

The other main character is umpire Ernie Kolacka, as presented by co-author Asinof. Ernie’s at the end of his career, one that has been respected by colleague and player alike. He has a challenge also, laid on him by a former war buddy who saved his life. Just how much does Ernie owe Roger?

Chapter by chapter, seen from the perspective of the pitcher alternating with that of the umpire, the reader is treated to all the details that go into a pro baseball game as executed by the various players. Bouton also gets inside Sam’s head, allowing the reader to appreciate the mental as well as physical stresses on a pitcher.

Asinof exposes the thought processes of an umpire who’s had a career unquestioned for its integrity and respect. How he sees each pitch and what he calls gives the reader a game perspective seldom experienced.

In addition, the authors provide two separate behind-the-scene stories of family, love, and character. A non-baseball fan may not understand all the sports jargon, but I believe he or she can still enjoy this story and a real baseball fan will get totally engrossed.

Find this book in our catalog!

Recommended by: Paula at Main

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Staff Picks – Sixkill

Sixkill by Robert B. Parker

I will miss him terribly. In January, 2010, Robert B. Parker, mystery writer, died.
Across the decades of his writing, he produced 39 Spenser novels, each of them dealing with a different aspect of crime, involving at once the same characters and new ones that would never be seen again. The hero is Spenser (no first name), the seasoned, irreverent, but sensitive Boston private eye who is a master at surviving the most harrowing situations. Susan is his other half, who admits she fears for his safety at the same time she acknowledges he is who he is.

Among recurring characters is an entourage of men – okay, they are hooligans – who back up Spenser when needed. Prominent among them is Hawk – attractive, black, loyal, well-educated but very street smart. The others come from Boston and California. Spenser has made a number of contacts during his years as a detective and they all are ready to help him. He even has helpful contacts in the Boston police force as well as among the Massachusetts state troopers.

The book being reviewed now was Parker’s last completed Spenser novel. … In Boston, a movie is being made, featuring an overweight but very popular star named Jumbo. He is involved – somehow – in the death of a young female fan. Police captain Martin Quirk doesn’t think that it was murder so he calls on Spenser to find out the facts.

Spenser’s first encounter with Jumbo results in the firing of Jumbo’s bodyguard, Zebulon Sixkill. The young Cree tough guy ends up coming to Spenser for help, resulting in a relationship that becomes a partnership. Together Spenser and “Z” get to the bottom of the affair. The steps along the way form a story that is fast-paced, highly entertaining, sometimes humorous, and also filled with psychological insights. Parker has perfected this combination to attract a legion of readers, myself included. One reviewer called these books “addictive.” I totally agree and challenge you – if you haven’t found these books already – to read only one!

Find this book in our catalog!

Recommended by: Paula at Main

Patron Pick – A Discovery of Witches

Here’s a first for this blog – a review sent in by a patron! If you have any reviews you’d like us to publish about a book that we have in our catalog, just send it in an email to: ashley.mcbride@raleigh.lib.wv.us 🙂

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

“A Discovery of Witches” is truly about discovering yourself for Diana Bishop. She has refused to acknowledge her powers as a Bishop witch for many years but it has finally caught up to her. She is the only one who can open an ancient spell book and every daemon, vampire, and witch is out to discover her and her secret except one. Matthew, a vampire, is out to help her, though neither of them would expect the test of strength, character, commitment, and love that followed. A Discovery of Witches is one where you keep telling yourself “Just one more chapter…”

Find this book in our catalog!

Recommended by: Ashleigh D. at Marsh Fork

Staff Picks – A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

New York Times Best-Seller, A Great and Terrible Beauty, may very well be my favorite book of all time! It is the first book in a trilogy that also includes Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing.

Recommended by both “Booklist” and “School Library Journal”, A Great and Terrible Beauty follows the life of Gemma Doyle, a young girl transitioning into womanhood in Victorian London. The book falls into several different categories, including paranormal, fantasy, light horror, and historical fiction.

The book starts in India, where Gemma has a vision of her mother’s death that actually comes true. Her father and brother ship her off to Spence Academy in London, England, where she meets several other very well-drawn characters, including new friends Pippa, Felicity, and Ann. Early on in the story, Gemma learns from a teacher at the Academy about the “Order”, a powerful group of ancient women who maintained the realms—the place between life and death. Soon, Gemma is able to control her ever-increasing visions and enter the realms herself. Gemma’s new group of girl friends start accompanying her to the realms to get away from the oppressive life of being a woman in Victorian times. The girls enter the realms frequently to use the magic to experience the feeling of having power and also just for fun! However, nothing is what it seems in the realms and like with anything else, nothing good can last forever!

Libba Bray is a talented writer, who captures the spirit and the position of a woman in Victorian times very well. The two sequels are somewhat lengthy, but they are so exciting and fun to read, you will not be able to put them down! I highly recommend this title (and the others in the trilogy) to anyone who likes reading historically accurate books with paranormal romance, excitement and adventure thrown into the mix!!

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Recommended by: Addie at Main

Staff Picks – Being Dead is No Excuse

BEING DEAD IS NO EXCUSE: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral By Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays

“You can always tell when a Methodist dies – there are lots of casseroles.” This is one of the many gems of wisdom the pedigreed authors provide in this delightful, diminutive book with an attractive yellow and red cover. Propriety is foremost in this guide and the authors have that proper experience to present the dos and don’ts of dying in the Mississippi Delta.

Besides becoming informed about Southern burial customs and all the accompaniments – obituaries, eulogies, music, and flowers – the reader learns about the differences between the Episcopalians and the Methodists, the outpouring of community spirit and support, the proper way to acknowledge sympathy cards, and, most importantly, what foods to bring to the bereaved.

In fact, recipes for these sympathy dishes make up about half the pages – recipes for every kind of dish from appetizer to dessert: for example, “Mary Mac’s Rolls,” “Leland Grits Gruyere,” “The Methodist Ladies’ Chicken Lasagna Florentine,” “Alternative Pork Tenderloin,” “Liketa Died Potatoes,” “Broccoli Squares,” “Tomato Pie,” “Bland’s Fake Pineapple Upside-Down Cake,” and “Pecan Tassies.” There is even an index of the recipe titles, which makes me wonder why this book is not shelved with the cookbooks. Nevertheless, it’s worth looking for it in its 393.097 location. Check it out!

Find the book in our catalog!

Recommended by: Paula at Main