Monthly Archives: February 2012

Staff Picks – A Mango Shaped Space

A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Probably not a lot of people have heard of a condition called Synesthesia, which is the central topic of this book. I sort of have a fascination with it which a) led to a couple of projects on the topic in college and b) got me to read this book. I’ll give a little description and some resources about synesthesia at the bottom of this post, but first we’ll go back to the book.

On the surface, A Mango Shaped Space is the story of 13 year old Mia as she deals with a secret she has kept since an incident in elementary school. At that point, she realized that not everyone saw colors when they heard sounds or looked at numbers and letters, and decided to hide it to keep from being excluded. In the book, as she finally becomes overwhelmed with all the changes and obstacles in her life, she seeks help in dealing with what she senses and ends up finding out a lot about herself along the way.

Some people might limit their description of this book to a story about a person with synesthesia (a.k.a. a synesthete) but to me it had a broader scope than that. It was more about the way a child grew up, dealing with the normal teenage problems – changing relationships, school work, etc. – but also dealing with grief and this particular way she saw the world. Since there were also frequent appearances by the title character – Mango the cat – of course I loved this book. Mia was engaging, even as you got angry with her for making a few silly teenager-y decisions, and it was fun to watch her grow up a little. You can find this book over in the Young Adult sections at the Beckley or Shady Spring libraries, and we also have it available on eBook.

Synesthesia is the condition in which some people experience a mingling of sensory reactions from stimuli. For instance, when hearing music, they would not only hear the tones but would have specific colors or patterns that they saw for each sound. For those of you wanting to know more about synesthesia, I highly recommend this site: http://synesthesia.info/index.html . It is the official website of the American Synesthesia Association and has a ton of information.

Recommended by: Ashley at Main

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Staff Picks – Seal Target Geronimo

Seal Target Geronimo by Chuck Pfarrer

What would drive a wealthy playboy to become a terrorist? More to the point, how was it that a Saudi Arabian young man, born to a millionaire and accustomed to a life of riches and freedom, took on the ascetic life of a radical Muslim and made his life goal that of killing all people who did not honor the Koran as he did.
 
The world quickly learned about this man—Osama bin Laden—following the terrorist attack on America on September 11, 2001, when thousands of people died in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. The middle chapters of this book tell how bin Laden came to hate so many people, especially Americans, and how he formed a cadre of supporters to carry out his mission of terror.
 
At the other end of the spectrum are found people who fight for justice and goodness, who train to hunt the people who want to destroy a particular way of life. Some of these men are Navy SEALs. The early chapters of this book describe the intense training that forms the basis for spectacular rescue missions as well as intensive fighting missions that these special forces carry out.
 
Finally, the end of this book informs an eager public about the mission to take down Osama bin Laden: how it was planned, practiced, and carried out. In the style of a thriller novel, author Pfarrer (Warrior Soul: The Memoir of a Navy SEAL) tells the story America wanted to hear.
 
Adult Non-Fiction 363.325 Pfarrer c 2011

Recommended by: Paula at Main

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Staff Picks – Sherman’s March

Sherman’s March by Cynthia Bass

I contend that the easiest way to learn history is by reading historical fiction. Though these works are novels, the research done for them is solid and the resulting story is a piece of history presented in an engaging and entertaining format.

Cynthia Bass’s marvelous first novel is just such a gift to readers everywhere. In a fresh style, she offers the observations of three people who experienced various ramifications of Sherman’s March to the Sea through Georgia during the Civil War in 1864.

General William Tecumseh Sherman is the first to tell the reader about the failings of the Civil War – the failure to be over with quickly. Thus, he conceives, gains approval for, and conducts the march of his 60,000 troops through Georgia—the march of destruction, which eventually made it impossible for the South to keep up the war. Without food, horses, transportation, and the means for commerce, the war could not be continued. All Sherman wanted was peace. His conversation and musings, by the way, are replete with a certain wry humor that I found fun to read as well as enlightening.

Captain Nick Whiteman served in the Yankee Army under Sherman. He participated in the foraging order, whereby the soldiers obtained food and other necessary supplies from the civilian residences of Georgia as the Army marched along on their way to Savannah. The army did not carry provisions—they stole them, thus affecting the civilian population in a way that the murderous battles could not. In fact, the only contact the Yankee soldiers had with the Confederate soldiers during the March was via skirmishes and sniping. Beyond these contacts, Nick and others in his corps had run-ins with some of the civilians themselves, some of which were startling with long-lasting results.

Annie Saunders Baker was one of those affected personally and irrevocably by the foragers. She was a Southern widow and after her home was burnt to the ground, she became a refugee, along with thousands of other Southern civilians who ended up foraging on their own in order to survive. Along the way, she met with some of the soldiers again. These contacts revealed a commonality of spirit and purpose that surpassed the meaning of the war.

This book of only 228 pages is well worth the read; it provides a view of the Civil War beyond the traditional battles. You can find it on the Adult Fiction shelves under F Bass.

Recommended by: Paula at Main

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Staff Picks – Our History Through Music

Sorry for the long silence! Trying to catch up after the holidays and weather and various library projects has set me back. We should be back on track now though, especially since I have realized I can write these ahead of time and have them post automatically! Thank you WordPress. We’ll have new reviews and suggestions at noon every Wednesday from here on out. And if something happens to change that, I’ll be sure to mention it before it happens! I’m changing my middle name to Dependable. 😉 Anyway, on to what you’re here for!

Our History Through Music by Scott Derks

OUR HISTORY THROUGH MUSIC
(Vol. XII of Working Americans 1880-2011)
Did you know that playing phonograph records on radio began in 1935 with Martin Block? He had a hard time convincing his bosses at WNEW in New York to let him play records instead of broadcasting live music in between the bulletins of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial.

This and tons of other facts and stories about the way music has been influential and has changed throughout American history are in this great new reference book. This book may not be checked out, but the short chapters with bulleted lists are just right for casual armchair reads in the Reference area of our newly refurbished library. Come look at this new book, found on the Reference shelves at R 305.5 Derks c2011 vol. XII.

Recommended by: Paula at Main

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