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Military history buffs will be fascinated by Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and its Aftermath by Michael and Elizabeth Norman (940.547252 NOR New Book). It offers many new insights into this infamous World War II event. A must read.


Outside Magazine sent Jon Krakauer to climb Mt. Everest in May, 1996, so he could gather information to write an article on how commericialized the climbing of the mountain had become. They got more than they bargained for. The weather on Mt. Everest that May was one of the worst ever, resulting in five climbers being killed and one marred for life.

Krakauer writes an astonishing first-hand account of those events He is critical of himself as well as the others who were climbing. Such a sobering occurrence in which several seasoned climbers were killed left Krakauer trying to put the puzzle pieces together to help explain why this tragedy happened. He comes up with several theories that are disturbing and give one pause for thoughtful consideration.

Elizabeth Gilbert had nothing to lose. She had both a failed marriage and relationship behind her. She was desperate to leave the U.S. and search for what was out there for her for the rest of her life.

Fortunately, her publisher agreed to give her an advance on the book she would write, so, off she went to Italy, India and Indonesia for a 15 month adventure. Afterwards she wrote "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia".

In Italy, she ate. In India, she prayed. In Indonesia, she fell in love.

The story is inspirational on several levels. She saves the best for last. The more your read, the better it gets. There is a satisfying ending.

In 2007, English soccer star David Beckham announced he was signing a five year contract with Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy. This move shocked the soccer world in that MLS is generally considered a "B-League" on the world stage and Beckham was then plying his trade with Real Madrid, one of the elite super clubs of the world in one of the world's elite soccer leagues. Part of Beckham's reasoning was that he wanted to help soccer grow in the United States and eventually become on par with football, basketball and baseball in terms of popularity.

To understand Stieg's work, I said, one had to know who he really was.--pg. 185

I picked up this book yearning to learn more about the author who died before his novel legacy was even published. That fact in itself intrigued me; I just really wanted to learn more about Stieg Larsson's life from an unbiased source. With this relatively short biography, you get the straight facts--no beating around the bush, just the candid and honest facts--from the one constant presence in his life: Eva Gabrielsson.

"Most people don’t think about singing when they think about revolutions. But in Estonia, song was the weapon of choice ..." - Filmmakers James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty

Check out the real story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the focus of the new George Lucas film, Red Tails:

Dogfights Season Two


The Tuskegee Airmen

When I picked up Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift’s book The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper, I didn’t realize that it was a cookbook based on a Public Radio show. All I cared about was the gorgeous spoonful of a bright golden yellow potato, onion and almond concoction (“Almond-Turmeric Potatoes” p. 289) pictured on the cover. I am a huge fan of Public Radio, though, so when I finally settled into a comfy chair at home and made this discovery, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve never heard a food show on the radio before (WBHM doesn’t carry it) but it makes me happy to know one is out there.

Think back to 2006. Do you remember the first time you heard that a group of astronomers had decided that Pluto was not a planet anymore? Remember that sad feeling of “Oh, poor Pluto” or maybe you got angry and thought, “Why are they picking on Pluto? What did Pluto do to anyone?” Now you have someone to blame. Meet Mike Brown, the astronomer who discovered “the tenth planet”, which ultimately led to the downfall of Pluto. In How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, Brown raises the question of what exactly is a planet. You think that the answer would be simple, but Brown raises several important arguments that might change your views on the former planet. How I killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming made me wish

A new acquisition to our adult nonfiction collection, Still Life: Inside the Antarctic Huts of Scott and Shackleton with photography by Jane Ussher and essays by Nigel Watson of the Antarctic Heritage Trust, is a beautiful and haunting memorial to those first doomed explorers of the South Pole. Bound in rough canvas with coloring reminiscent of the century old material still slowly decaying in situ in Antarctica from the original expeditions, the detailed photographs within are intimate investigations of what life was like for these adventurous, and often heroic, men. The climate and isolation of these modest huts in Antarctica has left intact and untouched many artifacts of this time period. Jars and tins of food stores sit unopened. Hams still hang in muslin bags.

Once you have died and gone to the Underworld, nothing will ever be the same. Seventeen year old Pierce is trying to put her life back together after she escaped from Death, but he just won’t let her go. And she isn’t sure if she wants him to.

The first book in bestselling author Meg Cabot’s new series creates a modern day retelling of Persephone. Riding high on the mythology trend, Abandon follows reckless and headstrong Pierce as she deals with the aftermath of her death. Though she was given a second chance at life, she cannot forget him. Abandon artfully sets up the trilogy and leaves you begging for more!

In Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes, Elizabeth Bard captures the sights, sounds AND TASTES of Paris, the cultural challenges of an expat living in France and the angst of a Renaissance woman trying to find her place in a practical world. If you liked Eat Pray Love and Under the Tuscan Sun, you’ll love this delicious memoir!

I just finished reading Rawhide Down by Del Quentin Weber, a reporter for the Washington Post. The book is about the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan March 30, 1981 outside the Washington D.C. Hilton hotel. It reads like a thriller even though we all know the outcome.

Weber has a unique way of following those involved: the E.R. trauma team at George Washington Hospital, surgeons, nurses, Mrs. Reagan, White House staff, Vice President Bush, the President's cabinet, Secret Service agents, FBI agents, D.C. police and, the shooter, John Hinckley, Jr. He weaves a tapestry of 24 hours in the people whose lives intersected that day.

The month of March always brings out the Irish in me, and I have just enjoyed two books set in Ireland: the audio version of Patrick Taylor's Irish Country Girl and the print version of Maeve Binchy's Minding Frankie.

The first is read by John Keating and it is delightful to hear his variety of Irish accents, changing for each character. This book is the latest in Taylor's Irish country doctor series and fills in the background of the doctor's housekeeper, Kinky Kincaid. In Minding Frankie, I love the continuing saga of Binchy's residents of St. Jarlath's Crescent, in Dublin. She skillfully interweaves the lives of a diverse population and makes the reader want it to keep on going. I can't wait for the next book in either series!

Shawna's great article about blogs was too extensive to feature in its entirety in our Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Connections, our elementary education newsletter. So here is the unabridged version.