Monthly Archives: August 2012

Staff Picks – The Sojourn

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak

Sometimes a book comes along that impresses you very much. It doesn’t have to be non-fiction to do this. This book is fiction, but the events in it could have actually happened.

Sebastian Smee of “The Boston Globe” said: “It is a war story, love story, and a coming of age novel all rolled into one.” I totally agree with his apt assessment.
This book is the story of a young man who has immigrated to the United States from Hungary to the coalfields of Pennsylvania. When a great tragedy occurs in his family he returns to Hungary only to be caught up in the vortex of World War I. He is fighting for the Central Powers (the Austro-Hungarian Empire to be exact). He and his adopted brother Zlee become snipers and go through all sorts of harrowing adventures.

This book is filled with pathos, death, sadness, and humor. The young man (Jozef Vinich) must survive the horrors of trench warfare and a journey across the Italian Alps. I think of it as the “Red Badge of Courage” of today. If there was a star award for this novel I’d give it a 5.

Read this book, you will not be disappointed.

Recommended by: Darrell at Main

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Staff Picks – Imagine

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

This book came across the desk the other day and I decided I would read it. It is about how creativity works. I don’t think of myself as being creative so I thought it might help me develop that quality.

The book started with a discussion of right and left brain. Oddly enough, it came from studying people with brain damage. They used to tell people that had brain damage on the right side that they were the lucky ones because the left side is where speech and understanding of language is located. However, they noticed that people with brain damage on the right side could not “get” jokes and did not understand metaphors. They summed up this phenomenon by saying the left brain, sees the trees but the right brain sees the forest. The left brain is the center where you can focus on one subject. The right brain is where creativity comes from. That is where you put 2+2 together. Consequently, that makes people with ADHD unable to focus, but much more creative than the rest of us.

I found this book to be fascinating! Some of the things that can contribute to being creative is: living in a city, being depressed, letting go, traveling and daydreaming. Being an expert in some field guarantees you will not be creative in that area. It seems to be better if you don’t know much about what you’re trying to figure out. There’s hope for us regular people after all.

The book is “Imagine: How Creativity Works” by Jonah Lehrer. At this time it can be found in the new books under 153.35 Lehrer.

Recommended by: Kay at Main

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Staff Picks – Tiger’s Curse

Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck

It’s Ashley again with another young adult series for review! This time it’s the Tiger’s curse series by Colleen Houck. It was a lot of fun reading this set! So far 3 novels are out: Tiger’s Curse, Tiger’s Quest, and Tiger’s Voyage. A fourth book to finish out the quartet, Tiger’s Destiny, will be coming out on September 4th of this year. I’m looking forward to it!

The general outline of the series goes like this: an ancient Indian (from India, not Native American) prince and his brother were cursed to be trapped in the form of tigers for hundreds of years. The only way to break the curse was wait until they could find the girl able to help them complete a set of trials and regain their humanity. These trials take them to other dimensions of Indian mythology and introduce them to a cast of characters from that mythology as well. This series has plenty of action and, being a bit of a mythology buff, I was thrilled to be introduced to stories from a different mythology than the standard Greek or Roman fare we primarily get over here in the west. I liked the characters as well, though each had their moments that annoyed me.

Tiger’s Curse bills itself as an “epic fantasy-romance”. Unfortunately, as FAR too many YA books have been doing lately, the romance billing means simply that there is a love triangle. It gets continually more snarled up through the first 3 books, so we’re still hanging waiting to see which guy she will stay with at the end of the fourth book. There are a lot of things I love about YA books:they are usually much quicker reads than adult books and are not as dark and bleak; a lot of the paranormal and fantasy subjects I love turn up in YA books; and you normally get to jump straight into the plot without too many unnecessary details or overworked exposition. The main thing I hate about YA books can be summed up in two words: Love Triangles.I can understand a book’s worth of figuring out which of two guys to be with, but when one of the major plot points of your series revolves around your character not being able to distinguish between being in love and being really good friends for multiple books, something is wrong with your character. Let her make a choice and be happy or regret it and see where the plot goes from there! Or better yet, just avoid love triangles all together!

Ranting aside, there was a lot to like about this series. The love triangle and a few instances of writing things too simply/obviously even for young adults are the only drawbacks as far as I am concerned. The pacing was pretty good, the plot is fun (if slightly cliched), the characters are likeable, and the mythology is really fascinating! I recommend this book for anyone who likes Young Adult books with shape shifting, mythology, or adventurous quests.

Recommended by Ashley at Main

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Staff Picks – 15 Minute Gentle Yoga

15 Minute Gentle Yoga by Louise Grime

This book and DVD combo is perfect for anyone who is too busy to invest a lot of time in exercise, those of us who can’t get out to a yoga or fitness class for whatever reason, anyone who is looking to supplement their practice, or just learn a few more poses. Also, it’s perfect for beginners. It is wonderful for both audio and visual learners. The book includes written instructions and pictures that take you step-by-step through each pose. The DVD includes page number references that flash up on the screen, so you can locate the corresponding page in the book if you find that easier to follow. The DVD also has options to watch with or without audio instruction. The book and DVD were designed to work and be used together. I recommend reading the entire book and viewing the DVD once before trying any of the workouts.

The book is divided into user friendly sections, including: instructions on how to use this book, an introduction and more information about the practice of yoga, advice for beginners, practicing safely, and detailing the proper clothing and needed equipment, which is very little–all you really need is a yoga mat or non-slip surface and a rolled up blanket or large towel. There are four sequences that are designed for different parts of the day: 1) Rise and Shine 2) Strengthening 3) Early Evening Energizer and 4) Winding Down. You can do any of the sequences whenever you’d like in any combination. Just be certain to follow the instructions carefully and go at a pace that is comfortable for you.

As always, be sure to check with your health care provider before trying any fitness program, especially if you are pregnant, have any injury or illness, take certain medications, or any health concerns. Stop if you feel dizzy, out of breath, or have any pain. Some yoga poses are inappropriate for various conditions, but with the help of your doctor and a certified yoga instructor, you can develop a practice that is safe and fits your needs.

I enjoyed the program so much that I purchased my own copy after borrowing it from our library and practice it frequently. Take your time learning or, if you already practice yoga, enjoy these simple routines as part of your daily practice or use in them in place of a longer regular practice when you are pressed for time. Keep in mind that it is not expected that you’ll perform the poses perfectly at first–that is why it’s called a yoga “practice.” And don’t forget to breathe!

If yoga doesn’t appeal to you, this is actually part of a set of 15 minute workouts published by DK. We have the following titles in our library collection: 15 Minute Abs Workout, 15 Minute Better Back Workout, 15 Minute Everyday Pilates, and 15 Minute Total Body Workout.

Recommended by: Crystal at Main

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