Monday, April 27, 2015

Horse Stories

Anyone who works around books has seen trends come and go. Feng Shui, eating paleo, macrame, vampires...

So what is always popular?

Horse Stories!

For our youngest equine fans:

A child creates her dream pony by drawing it on paper 
and imagining the adventures they would go on.

Harry keeps a horse in his room. 
A trusty horse only he can see.

The Classics:

Anna Sewell's moving story is one of the best-loved
 animal adventures ever written.


On an island off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland 
lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies.
 Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom.

Horse Care:

Comprehensive and up-to-date reference on the care 
and management of a horse. 

For the adult lover of horses:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

For fans of The Boys in the Boat

Last week, author Daniel James Brown spoke about his book,  The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics at several Whidbey Island locations.  For those of you who've enjoyed this fantastic book, here are some other stories of remarkable individuals meeting the trials of WWII with courage. (Each of the following books received at least one starred review, and were published within the last 3 years).

Agent Garbo: how a brilliant, eccentric spy tricked Hitler and saved D-Day, by Stephan Tally.
Describes the life of Juan Pujol, a poultry farmer who opposed the Nazis and concocted a series of staggering lies that lead to his becoming one of Germany's most valued spies, while actually acting as a double-agent for the Allies.

Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944: collaboration, resistance, and daily life in occupied Paris, by Jean Guehenno.
Jean Guehenno's diary is the most oft-quoted piece of testimony on life in occupied France.  A sharply observed record of day-to-day life under Nazi rule in Paris and a bitter commentary on literary life in those years, it has also been called "a remarkable essay on courage and cowardice". (Caroline Moorehead, Wall Street Journal).  This is the first English translation of this important historical document.

Frozen in Time: an epic story of survival and a modern quest for lost heroes of World War II, by Mitchell Zuckoff.
Drawing on intensive research and a firsthand account of the dangerous 2012 expedition, this thrilling true story of survival which moves between World War II and today, follows the survivors of a U.S. cargo plane crash in 1942 and their 148 days spent fighting for their lives during a brutal Arctic winter.

Isaac's army: the Jewish resistance in occupied Poland, by Matthew Brzezinski.
Describes the formation of one of the most daring underground movements of World War II under the leadership of twenty-four-year-old Isaac Zuckerman and the group's collective efforts to gather information, build and arms cache, participate in uprisings, and organize escape systems.

Pere Marie-Benoit and Jewish rescue: how a French priest together with Jewish friends saved thousands during the Holocaust, by Susan Zuccotti
Unlike many Catholics of the time, Franciscan priest Pere Marie-Benoit vehemently opposed anti-Semitism and championed protection for the Jews.  He rescued thousands of Jews during WWII by sheltering refugees in France, and assisted Italian Jews after his transfer to Rome.

Prague winter: a personal story of remembrance and war, 1937-1948, by Madeleine Korbel Albright.
The former Secretary of State paints a portrait of her early life from 1937-1948 during which she witnessed teh Nazi invasion of her native Prague, the Holocaust, the defeat of fascism, the rise of communism, and the onset of the Cold War.

The dog who could fly: the incredible true story of a WWII airman and the four-legged hero who flew at his side, by Damien Lewis.
And instant his in the UK, this is the true account of a German shepherd who was adopted by teh Royal Air Force during World War II, joined in flight missions, and survived everything from crash-landings to parachute bailouts--ultimately saveing the life of his owner and dearest friend.

The liberator: one World War II soldier's 500-day odyssey from the beaches of Sicily to the gates of Dachau, by Alex Kershaw.
Traces the achievements of the world War II regiments under Felix Sparks, documenting their clashes with Hitler's elite troops in Sicily and Alerno and their heroic liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.

You are not forgotten: the story of a lost WWII pilot and a twenty-first-century soldier's mission to bring him home, by Bryan Bender.  
Follows the story of a Marine corps pilot who was shot down in World War II and the J-PAC soldier who resolved to bring home his remains six decades later, offering insidght in to the factors that challenged the recovery mission.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dreaming of a Cruise Ship Vacation

by Dawn 

I never thought I would be the sort of person to go on a cruise ship, but a few years ago my
brother was working for one, so I got to go on a cruise for free!  I really loved was how much reading I got done.  Between ports there are long stretches where you have absolutely no obligations, no chores, no internet, no cell phone service. Perfect!  Lately I've felt so behind on my reading, and too distracted to focus (GoodReads says I'm currently reading 12 different books).  I'm wishing for a Facebook/email/chore-free vacation just to read. So I keep thinking about a cruise again. Alas, I have nothing planned, but the next best thing? Reading and dream-planning.

If you have never been on a cruise, Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships by Douglas Ward is a great place to start. There are all kinds of cruises and before you commit to anything, you want to get a good idea if a particular cruise line is well suited to your needs. If you hate kids, you don't want to get on a ship teaming with children, nor if you have a family do you want to find them under-entertained once you have boarded. Not everyone loves cruising, for a variety of reasons and it is be good to be aware of those too, in case you might be the type of person who hates it.

My first bookish introduction to cruise ships was from David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again : Essays and Arguments, which covers cruises in its title essay (originally published as Shipping Out in Harper's which you can read here). This is probably why I didn't think I would go on a cruise. It is pretty negative. But a great essay to set your expectations low from the start?

The most recent book I read on this topic was Displacement by one of my favorite authors, Lucy Knisley. In this short illustrated memoir, she writes about taking a cruise with her elderly grandparents, trying to take care of them while finding some measure of enjoyment for herself. It is a sweet and sad travelogue, and I really loved it. Plus, if you have been on a cruise line that is popular with retirees, you will recognize many of your fellow passengers here.

The book I just discovered and am considering adding to my towering bedside pile  is Cruise Confidential: a Hit Below the Waterline by Brian David Bruns. This one is for anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to get a job on a cruise ship. A constant vacation? Ha! But definitely an adventure.

Like so many topics, if you just explore the library catalog, you will find there is more on cruise ships than you ever might have imagined. On DVD you can check out a couple seasons of The Love Boat, Speed 2 cruise control, or if you are feeling curious Why Ships Sink.  And there are plenty of other books from mysteries (Plague ship by Clive Cussler) to picture books (Walter the Farting Dog Goes on a Cruise).  Whatever vacation you want to dream or plan, we've got all kinds of resources for you!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Are you a beer drinker? Then today is your day!

A somewhat new and unofficial holiday, April 7th is celebrated by beer enthusiasts nationwide as National Beer Day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen-Harrison Act, the first step in repealing prohibition, on March 22nd, 1933. On April 7th, the law went into effect once again allowing citizens to brew, buy and consume beer. Legally, that is. Folks waited outside breweries overnight to get their first sip of beer in 13 years! Legal beer, that is.

Whether a causal sipper, a connoisseur, or one of the new crop of home-brewers, the library has quite the collection of malty, grainy, fruity, zippy, bubbly books to quench your thirst. Tip for next year: Start your celebration on April 6th, New Beer's Eve!

And if you are looking for a good date night idea, check out MOHAI's latest exhibit.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Backyard Birding

With spring’s arrival comes many of my favorite things: gardening, barbecuing, my birthday (!), and bird-watching. Each year I look forward to the increased activity my feathered friends bring to my yard. Merle and Juanita, my resident Anna’s Hummingbirds, begin to make more frequent appearances at my feeder. The family of American Robins, who have turned my giant laurel into their personal apartment building, start throwing raucous parties each twilight…Wish I was invited! I even look forward to hearing from the Northern Flicker. Every morning as I enjoy my coffee and he pounds away at my chimney cap in an attempt to attract his soul mate, I delight in the knowledge that spring has finally arrived. Need help identifying your backyard friends? Below are some books to get you started. Looking for online help? Check out our link to the Birds of North America website found here: It is library approved so you know it is good!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Travels by the Book

Spring Break is just around the corner (or just happened for some) and many people have wonderful, fun and exciting trips planned. For myself I tend to use my imagination and library card and take a tour through books. Here are a few of my favorite destinations, both fiction and non-fiction.

The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau has a fantastic setting in Ecuador and seeing it through the eyes of main character Zeeta makes it so vivid and a place I never before thought I might want to visit (but now maybe I do). (The other two books in the series, Jade Notebook and Ruby Notebookare set in different locations and just as intriguing through Zeeta's eyes.)

Bill Bryson's books on travel (among his other topics) are at the very top of my favorites list and In A Sunburned Country is no exception. He is so adept at mixing historical facts with humorous first person anecdotes. And who wouldn't want to learn that the reason that Australia is overrun with rabbits is all because some rich muckity-muck wanted to shoot them from his back balcony. Or, the fact that all of the top ten deadliest snakes reside in Australia. Kinda makes you not want to go there.(Also, don't hesitate to check out A Walk in the Woods and Notes from a Small Island.)

I was never one for wanting to backpack through any place. But Bria's evolving sense of adventure in Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard sure made it seem a teeny, tiny bit more enticing. When what she thought would be a one-of-a-kind experience with like-minded recent high school graduates turned out to be a guided tour with middle-aged fanny pack wearers, Bria takes matters into her own hands and ditches the group and goes down the pass less traveled with brother and sister backpackers, Rowan and Starling.

Again, this would never be my choice of vacation. Nor the mode of transportation for the entirety of my vacation. But reading about riding a bicycle to the lowest point on six different continents in Into Thick Air by Jim Malusa was utterly fascinating. The ability the author had to connect with locals while riding a bike made the trip seem more intimate and inclusive.

A daring vacation this would make! The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin involves chasing tornadoes across parts of the Midwest and collecting scientific data for further research. Wanting to get away from a negative situation at home Jane joins her brother and his team as a photographer of the storms to get some much needed perspective. I have to admit, I don't know if I would have the guts to actually take on a vacation like this but the idea is pretty intriguing.

Do you have any literary vacations you would recommend?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Take A Hike!

March 30th is Take a Walk in the Park Day. With the many city and county parks, walking trails and national parks we have in our surrounding area it shouldn't be too hard to find the right location for you to celebrate this day.

If you are having trouble here are some books that might help you narrow down where to go.

I wanted to specifically highlight this book because it is oftentimes my companion when I'm out and about with my dogs. There are on- and off-leash parks with descriptions and driving directions. Pet friendly lodging and restaurants are also listed. My dogs' absolute favorite park is the off-leash one in Edmonds because they really enjoy the water. But a really close second is Lake Padden in Bellingham--where there are fantastic off-leash trails and a small area of the lake open for off-leash swimming. Proof is in the photo below that tired dogs are happy dogs.

Rest break during a romp on Lake Padden's off-leash trails

UPDATE: April 4th is one of the days designated for free entrance to a WA State Park. No Discover Pass needed. Roll your walk over to the weekend and take advantage of the generosity.