Roxi Reviews

The Bird Sisters is a stunning debut by Rebecca Rasmussen.  My laundry piled higher and higher, the garden produce grew wild and I served ice cream for supper, all because I just could NOT put this book down.

Milly and Twiss are spinster sisters who live near the small town of Green Spring, Wisconsin.  They are known as ‘the bird sisters’ because they rescue injured birds.

Alternating chapters, the book moves from their current old age back to the summer of l947 when ‘cousin Bett’ comes to live with them.

As children, the sisters were wildly energetic, giggling and hopeful. Twiss reminds me of a tornado twister, touching down here and there with great force then zipping elsewhere just as quickly.  Milly is studious, introspective and industrious.  She describes herself as,  “Full of possibilities.  Happy as the corn was sweet.”

Their parent’s marriage was not healthy.  Their father loved golf more than his family and their mother regretted giving up her inheritance of great wealth for the poverty and loneliness this marriage offered.

At one point the three girls are swimming in the river when Milly’s swim suit catches tightly on an underwater tree limb pulling her to the bottom of the river.

Twiss, who usually reacts with bullet like speed was immobilized. While Bett rescues Milly, Twiss thinks, “There was the word ‘sister’, and there was Milly.  Without Milly, her father’s No, I will nots! and her mother’s Yes, you wills! would seem hopeless instead of hopeful (Milly said that exclamation points meant they still cared).  That was one of the benefits of having such a positive sister; together, they made one regular person.”

This line touched me deeply because I grew up in the country with two sisters, one with Twiss’ personality and the other, Milly’s.  We did everything together and are still close.  I can relate to the sacred bond these women create and the wholeness experienced.

Milly, Twiss and their parents loose hope and motivation to move forward and crawl out of their sad lives.  They are much like the injured birds the adult sisters rescue.  As the books reads:  “Once a bird has lost his ability to fly, not much else could be done in the way of mending him.  Losing a wing was  a little like losing a leg and the freedom of movement, of spirit, it granted you; most people could live without the former but  not the latter.”

The Bird Sisters is a sheer delight for that part of my brain that craves the magic of a beautifully written story. I want to heed you to take your time with this read as the words are delicious . . . but I know you won’t be able to  because you will want to find out how Milly saves Bett’s life.

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Thank you Roxi for another wonderful review!

To share your thoughts on a good book that is available in our collection, please email your review to thickox@cityofalliance.net

Online Book Club!

New to our program lineup is Online Book Club! Here’s how it works:

Read the monthly selection (books are available at the circulation desk) and join in the conversation at www.librarything.com by creating a free user account and joining our group Alliance Public Library Online Book Club. You will then be able to participate in the conversation via the online group forum – it’s that easy! We will also have a face-to-face discussion the last Thursday of every month in the library at 6:30 p.m. for those who would like to meet in person as well!

September’s book is Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It has won numerous literary awards and should make for a lively discussion!

Pi Patel, having spent an idyllic childhood in Pondicherry, India as the son of a zookeeper, sets off with his family at the age of sixteen to start anew in Canada. But his life takes a marvelous turn when their ship sinks in the Pacific, leaving him adrift on a raft with a 450-pound Bengal tiger for company.

Online Book Club is being offered in addition to our Traditional Book Club, which meets the last Tuesday and Thursday of each month. For September, they will be reading The Devil’s Advocate by Morris West.

New Adult Nonfiction

  • The $100 Startup: reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love, and create a new future: Offers fifty case studies in which people, who in most cases have no special skills, started up businesses earning $50,000 or more with start-up costs around $100 or less.
  • The Art of Digital Branding: Digital brand expert Ian Cocoran explains the traditional theories of branding, and explores the ways in which they can be applied to websites, regardless of the industry or field.
  • Box Builder’s Handbook: Presents projects as introductions to specific box styles, including square, round, long, tall, turned or band sawn.
  • Heat, Color, Set and Fire: surface effects for metal jewelry: Presents detailed instructions on creating a variety of surface effects for metal jewelry, including fusing, enameling, and etching.
  • Wire Jewelry Masterclass: wrapped, coiled, and woven pieces using fine materials: This comprehensive guide to working with wire focuses on the intricate and rewarding skills of weaving, binding, coiling and layering to create beautiful jewelry. Projects range from beginner to advanced
  • We Make Dolls!: top dollmaker’s share their secrets and patterns: Full-size patterns, step-by-step photos, and interviews with the designers provide a guide for creating adorable and modern handmade dolls.
  • Enlightened Polymer Clay: artisan jewelry designs inspired by nature: Designer Rie Nagumo offers innovative ideas for making 29 unique and artistic jewelry pieces, including, necklaces, bracelets, rings, pendants, broaches, belts, and earrings.
  • The Textile Artist’s Studio Handbook: A guide for the foundations of textile design and fabrication, glossary of materials, and classic techniques that include weaving, dyeing, painting, and more.
  • Knitting Never Felter Better: the dinfinive guide to fabulous felting: Provides patterns and designs for felting hand knitted creations using illustrated with step-by-step instructions and before and after swatches.
  • Thread Magic Garden: Provides detailed information on how to create garden inspired quilt appliques using machine embroidery with progressive shading and edge-to-edge color.

Roxi Wilkinson Reviews

I snagged Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock at the local public library because it is the work of first-time author Donald Pollock, an author about my age which heightened my curiosity. I sweep our library’s new book section plucking anything done by first-timers. First books are THE best. They are full of decades-worth of material burning to be released. This little bomb is no exception.

Pollock dropped out of high school at seventeen, worked in a meat packing plant then spent thirty-two years working in a paper mill. He earned a Masters of Fine Arts from Ohio State in 2009. I find this impressive considering he is from Knockemstiff, Ohio where the story takes place. I couldn’t wait to get the pages turning and it did not disappoint.

The book is a collection of eighteen stories which take place from the sixties to the nineties. We meet a parade of characters who reappear as the book progresses. The people are funny but pathetically dysfunctional. They are a hodge-podge of ignorant, poverty-riddled, drug addict, rapist, crippled dirt bags.

The line I remember most is that of Big Bernie who knows he has seen the prime years of his life. He spends his days caring for his son who is severely retarded due to a drug overdose. Big Bernie is big because he is addicted to greasy fast food. He craves it and indulges though he knows he shouldn’t. He says, “Besides, I’m beginning to believe that anything I do to extend my life is just going to be outweighed by the agony of living it.”

I will warn you now that this book isn’t for everyone. The ‘F’ word peppers the pages and the life choices Knockemstiff residents make are the absolute worst.

On the other had, if you want a well written, unforgettably raw and funny story then grab Knockemstiff. It carries a powerful punch.

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If you would like to share your thoughts on a good book you have recently read, please email your review to thickox@cityofalliance.net

Bookworm

  • Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank: Collects tales of the paranormal and strange, such as UFO sightings and ghostly apparitions, from various parts of Colorado, organized by areas such as Metropolitan Denver, Northern Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southern Plains, and Western Plateaus and Deserts, and features possible sightings of some known historical figures.
  • Kiss the Dead by Laurel Hamilton: U.S. marshal Anita Blake, having located a fifteen-year-old girl who was abducted by vampires, finds a group of recently turned ordinary people who are willing to die to avoid serving a master and must find a way to save them.
  • Die a Stranger by Steve Hamilton: A plane lands in a deserted Upper Peninsula airstrip one night, and five dead bodies are found the next morning. The evidence suggests that not only are these murders the beginning of something bigger, but that Alex McKnight’s friend Vinnie may be part of it. Alex knows he needs to find him before it’s too late.
  • When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris: Gives advice on healthy living and emotional wellbeing to further boost fertility and give pregnancy a good start.
  • Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness: Diana Bishop, an Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and Matthew Clairmont, an vampire geneticist, are in the center of the battle over an enchanted manuscript when they are unexpectedly sent on a dangerous journey together.
  • Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand: Penny Alistair dies and her twin brother Hobby is left in a coma from a terrible car crash on the evening of Nantucket High’s traditional graduation bonfire on the beach, and Zoe, the twins’ mother, is forced to face the truth about what happened to them and her role in the accident.
  • In One Person by John Irving: Billy, a solitary bisexual man, is dedicated to making himself worthwhile.
  • Afraid to Die by Lisa Jackson: Detective Selena Gomez finds horror close to home when a killer begins displaying his victims in ice, and each one wears a piece of Selena’s jewelry. With the entire department on the case, they must work quickly to catch the killer before he is able to show Selena she has every reason to be afraid.
  • The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones: A party for Emerald Torrington’s twentieth birthday is being prepared when an accident takes place and uninvited guests seek shelter at the falling apart manor.

Book Sale!

 

Please help support the Friends of the Library by attending their semi-annual booksale. Funds raised are used for programming (Summer Reading wouldn’ t be what it is without the Friends) and for special purchases such as new furniture, prizes for reading contests and more! The sale is in the library basement and times are as follows:

  • Tuesday: 12-4pm members only, 4-6pm public
  • Wednsday: 10am-6pm public
  • Thursday: 12-5pm public

Don’t need any more books in the house? Monetary donations are welcome and encouraged!

Roxi Wilkinson Reviews

Roxi Wilkinson, one of our avid and discerning readers, has graciously agreed to share some reviews on her favorite books. She’s one of those people who can find those gems that are really worth reading. I’ll be sharing more of her reviews in the coming weeks. If you would like to share your thoughts on a good book you have recently read, you can email me your review at thickox@cityofalliance.net and I’ll be thrilled to post it for you.

Sins of the Seventh Sister by Huston Curtiss is an astounding debut based on the true story of Curtiss’ life growing up in the Gothic South beginning in 1929 when he is just seven years old.  Curtiss’ grandparents give him a diary with the assignment to always keep journaling.  It is from the childhood memoirs that the grotesque, desolate, creepy stories for this remarkably smooth read flow.  (Don’t worry, this book isn’t all horrors, it will have you laughing ’til your liver pops!) .

Huston (“Hughie”) is a well adjusted only child of a white Western Virginian family of influence.  His mother is the beautiful, powerful, compassionate Billy-Pearl, the seventh of eleven daughters.  Billy-Pearl adopts a scruffy crew, including a castrated orphan who becomes a successful opera star, a black family running from the KKK and a homeless, elderly school teacher. Billy-Pearl does WHATEVER is required to keep her brood safe.  Hughie is often jealous of their growing family but figures out he needs Billy-Pearl as much as the others.

Curtiss’ gift with words draws the reader in and rewards with an interesting, quick-paced read questioning rape, murder, sexuality, racism, gerontology, and other controversial topics of our culture.  His humor and bald honestly are startling and leave the reader pondering the sin v.s. saint dichotomy. 

 One of the main things I like so much about this book is Billy-Pearl’s insistence that her farm operates self sufficiently.  They raised and processed their own meat, eggs and milk products and canned produce from their massive gardens. The work list goes on and on.   Every one was expected to work hard which touches my heart because this is how I grew up on our farm.  My Parents and Grandparents were always busy keeping food on the table and doing other domestic chores  most people today have never heard of. We had to help and usually found some way to make the tasks fun and interesting.   Billy-Pearl’s farm even produced soap using animal fat and lye which is how we made our soap.

This is the most delicious literary morsel of my summer! 

It should be at the top of any reader’s Christmas gift list!

New Adult Non Fiction

  • Haunted Colorado: ghosts and strange phenomena of the centennial state: Collects tales of the paranormal and strange, such as UFO sightings and ghostly apparitions, from various parts of Colorado, organized by areas such as Metropolitan Denver, Northern Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southern Plains, and Western Plateaus and Deserts, and features possible sightings of some known historical figures.
  • But Dad!: a survival guide for single fathers of tween and teen daughters: Offers parenting advice to single fathers who are raising tween and teenage daughters, discussing communication, shared custody issues, dating, potential crises such as drug and alcohol abuse and teen pregnancy, and other topics.
  • The End of Growth: adapting to our new economic reality: Claims that the global economy has come to the end of growth and the recession will not end in recovery and suggests the answer is to abandon the pursuit of growth and focus on quality of life.
  • Take Charge of Your Fertility: Gives advice on healthy living and emotional well being to further boost fertility and give pregnancy a good start.
  • You Can Conquer Pain: how to break the pain cycle and regain control: A guide designed to provide solutions to help those afflicted take control of their pain and reduce reliance on pharmaceutical painkillers.
  • I Am In Here: the journey of a child with autism who cannot speak but finds her voice: The story of Elizabeth M. Bonker, a child with autism who cannot speak but communicates through her poetry.
  • Kate, Style Princess: the fashion and beauty secrets of Britain’s most glamorous royal : A guide to the fashion and beauty secrets of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
  • Social Networking for Career Success: Offers career seekers advice on how they can use social networking to aid in their job search, with an overview of the most popular networking sites, tips on creating a profile, and information on how to maintain an online presence.
  • Before and After Resumes: how to turn a good resume into a great one: Contains sample resumes for over five hundred jobs.

Free Online Legal Training August 15th!

Alliance Public Library received 5 new computers through the Library Broadband Builds Nebraska Communities project. The computers are installed and ready for use to access court records, find health information, take advantage of educational opportunities, hunt for jobs, explore small business options, etc.

The public access computers are a valued addition to our community, and Alliance Public Library provides free access to the Internet along with training for many levels of users. On August 15, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., a training session on using online legal resources will be offered in the library.

The Nebraska Supreme Court Website (www.supremecourt.ne.gov/self-help) contains a wealth of information. From this Website individuals can check on court schedules, pay tickets and do online court case searches. People can also obtain free access to legal information, including instructions and forms for legal matters such as small claims, name changes, power of attorney, requests for adoption records, protection orders, custody or divorce, and court appeals.

Join us and our partners, Janet Bancroft and Debora Brownyard of the Office of the Administrator of the Nebraska Supreme Court and Mary Jo Ryan of the Nebraska Library Commission, in this free learning event on August 15, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.