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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The Bunker Diary
by Kevin Brooks

School Library Journal Gr 10 Up-Linus is a 16-year-old runaway living on the harsh English streets who wakes up one day in an unfamiliar underground bunker with no water or food while under constant surveillance by an unknown kidnapper. As each day passes, more people are kidnapped and are subjected to the same brutal conditions. When Linus and the rest try to escape and find out more about their situation and their kidnapper, they realize that, with their options dwindling, they may have to resort to the ultimate horror to survive. Brooks's controversial Carnegie Medal-winner is truly a psychologically disturbing book that will leave readers with a deep sense of unease. Linus's first-person narrative will make teens ask themselves what they would do in his situation. It's not a title for everyone: some may be unsettled by the harsh realities the protagonist faces, while others will be fascinated by the simple complexity of Brooks's prose and truly effective storytelling. A unique choice that will get teens talking.-Christopher Lassen, Brooklyn Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly The fragmented, occasionally incoherent diary of 16-year-old Linus Weems, trapped with five strangers in an underground bunker, offers a disturbing window into the mind of a boy struggling to find sense in a senseless situation, as the possibility of escape or rescue-and the ability to cling to any semblance of hope-diminishes by the day. Each inmate has a tale of being snatched and drugged, awakening in an elevator that opens into the bunker. Every room is surveilled by camera and microphone; the bedrooms are equipped with a Bible, pen, and notebook. Requests sent to their captor via elevator are sometimes answered, sometimes ignored, and sometimes terribly perverted. There's little by way of character development; Linus at the end is the same boy he was at the beginning, with a lot more experience of suffering. The Man Upstairs, literally and figuratively (Linus begins to think of him as He), is never revealed. Relentlessly bleak, this recent Carnegie Medal-winner fascinates, provokes, and horrifies as Brooks (iBoy) stays true to his nihilistic aims, pushing readers toward an inexorable conclusion. Ages 13-up. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* When this latest book from controversy-stirrer Brooks won the 2014 Carnegie Medal in the UK, up piped a familiar chorus of damnation from the frequently scandalized. It was too bleak, too dark, not for kids. The naysayers almost got it right: it is, rather, for everyone, playing just as well as can't-stop-reading entertainment as it does an allegorical passage into darkness. Linus, 16, is duped to assist an apparent blind man, then chloroformed, then abducted. He awakes in a small underground bunker: a kitchen, bathroom, meeting room, and six bedrooms. Why six? As with much in this book, the answer is a stark inevitability. One by one, five more abductees arrive via an elevator: a little girl, an old man, a rich woman, a businessman, and a junkie. But hopes of building a coalition across social lines is quashed after initial attempts to escape fail. The elevator door is electrified. The vents in the ceiling emit pepper spray. Deafening sirens make disabling the cameras impossible. From there, the games only become more insidious, from subtle manipulations of the group's sense of time to outright drugging of the food. And, finally, a note, which suggests to the inmates a deal too horrible to comprehend. It may sound like a horror film, but it comes across as existential dread. Linus, writing the book in his journal, begins to refer to the abductor as He, with a capital H. It's chillingly appropriate, for He has become a godlike figure issuing covenants on slips of paper and, by His own inscrutability, demanding blind worship and pleas for forgiveness from His flock. Despite His capricious cruelty, the humans fear being abandoned by Him. Given Brooks' past work, it's no stretch to think that this piercing interpretation of religion is intentional. But that's just for starters. The blank canvas of the bunker acts as a screen upon which one can project almost anything. Is Bird, the businessman, so named because he is the canary in the coal mine, his breakdown signaling the coming toxicity? Is the self-cannibalizing group a metaphor for old Russell's brain cancer, or vice versa? Or is this, quite simply, hell, a place of stillness where one can only ruminate over a life of regrets and shudder at the g-dung, g-dunk noise of the elevator bringing down the next torture? What will fascinate (or, yes, disturb) readers is Brooks' refusal to provide any off-ramps from his one-way street. That doesn't make Brooks Him he's not toying with us for perverse kicks. He is, in fact, doing the opposite, telegraphing the end long before it arrives, thereby granting us the opportunity, at a safe distance, to put lives upon the microscope and gauge their density. By extension, we look at our own lives, and consider our worth when removed from familiar settings, trapping, vices. What if there was a seventh room, and it had your name on it?--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Great Pet Escape
by Victoria Jamieson

School Library Journal Gr 1-3-George Washington, or "GW" for short, may look like a sweet, innocent classroom hamster, but little do the second graders at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School know that he's the inventor of the Sunflower Seed Slingshot and the Rodent Catapult Transportation Device, both of which are going to help him and his fellow inmates-Barry the rabbit (serving time in first grade) and Biter the world's toughest guinea pig (doing a stint in kindergarten)-escape to freedom. Unfortunately, when GW finally liberates his rodent pals, a gang of surly mice threaten their plans. Jamieson, author and illustrator of Roller Girl (Dial, 2015), here presents a giggle-worthy tale for younger readers and those just venturing into graphic novels. Easy-to-follow panels, complemented by several spreads, explode off the page with her bright and cheery palette. Visual humor abounds, from GW's gallant attempts at sword fighting with the mouse leader (using a broken piece of uncooked spaghetti) to Biter's confession that, while in kindergarten, she's found a way to channel her anger issues through meditation. VERDICT Hand this charmingly goofy graphic novel to chapter book readers who enjoy Dav Pilkey's works, Cyndi Marko's "Kung Pow Chicken" series (Scholastic), and Geoffrey Hayes's "Benny and Penny" books (TOON.)-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* For the hamster known as George Washington (GW, for short), there is no greater prison than the second grade classroom. For three months, GW has been plotting and scheming, waiting patiently for things to fall into place so he can finally break free from the joint. It takes some effort to convince fellow prisoners Barry and Biter to join him they actually seem to like it there but a well-laid guilt trip does the trick. On the brink of freedom, the three rodents run up against the biggest obstacle of all, Harriet the mouse. She and her minions have a taste for destruction, but will GW have a change of heart and stop Harriet's mad plan to ruin the school? Told with a wickedly sharp sense of humor, Jamieson's latest delivers a madcap adventure that is sure to please young readers. The hilariously expressive rodents guarantee laughs from page one with plenty of slapstick humor and pointed one-liners. Jamieson makes excellent use of a variety of panel sizes to maximize the action, and the liberal use of bright color adds extra visual punch.--Hayes, Summer Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog A Sick Day for Amos McGee
by Philip C. Stead

Publishers Weekly With quiet affection, this husband-and-wife team tells the story of a zookeeper whose devotion is repaid when he falls ill. On most days, the angular, elderly Amos rides the bus to the zoo, plays chess with the elephant ("who thought and thought before making a move"), sits quietly with the penguin, and spends time with his other animal friends. But when Amos catches a cold, the animals ride the bus to pay him a visit, each, in a charming turnabout, doing for Amos whatever he usually does for them. The elephant sets up the chessboard; the shy penguin sits on the bed, "keeping Amos's feet warm." Newcomer Erin Stead's elegant woodblock prints, breathtaking in their delicacy, contribute to the story's tranquility and draw subtle elements to viewers' attention: the grain of the woodblocks themselves, Amos's handsome peacock feather coverlet. Every face-Amos's as well as the animals'-brims with personality. Philip Stead's (Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast) narrative moves with deliberate speed, dreaming up a joyous life for the sort of man likely to be passed on the street without a thought. Ages 2-6. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal K-Gr 2-Amos McGee, an elderly man who works at the zoo, finds time each day for five special friends. With empathy and understanding he gives the elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl the attention they need. One morning, Amos wakes up with a bad cold and stays home in bed. His friends wait patiently and then leave the zoo to visit him. Their trip mirrors his daily bus ride to the zoo and spans three nearly wordless spreads. Amos, sitting up in bed, clasps his hands in delight when his friends arrive. The elephant plays chess with him, and the tortoise plays hide-and-seek. The penguin keeps Amos's feet warm, while the rhinoceros offers a handkerchief when Amos sneezes. They all share a pot of tea. Then the owl, knowing that Amos is afraid of the dark, reads a bedtime story as the other animals listen. They all sleep in Amos's room the rest of the night. The artwork in this quiet tale of good deeds rewarded uses woodblock-printing techniques, soft flat colors, and occasional bits of red. Illustrations are positioned on the white space to move the tale along and underscore the bonds of friendship and loyalty. Whether read individually or shared, this gentle story will resonate with youngsters.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Zookeeper Amos McGee always makes time to visit his good friends at work: he plays chess with the elephant, runs races with the tortoise (who always wins), sits quietly with the penguin, lends a handkerchief to the rhinoceros (who has a runny nose), and reads stories to the owl (who is afraid of the dark). Then, after Amos gets a cold, his friends miss him, and they leave the zoo and ride the bus to his place to care for him and cheer him up. Like the story, the quiet pictures, rendered in pencil and woodblock color prints, are both tender and hilarious. Each scene captures the drama of Amos and the creatures caring for each other, whether the elephant is contemplating his chess moves, his huge behind perched on a stool; or the rhinoceros is lending Amos a handkerchief; or the owl is reading them all a bedtime story. The extension of the familiar pet-bonding theme will have great appeal, especially in the final images of the wild creatures snuggled up with Amos in his cozy home.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Horn Book Picture Book Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Bubble Trouble
by Margaret Mahy

Book list The trouble begins when sister Mabel blows a bubble that bobbles over baby and wafts him away. Baby floats over mother, past the neighbors, and through the busy streets as bystanders join the chase. How to bring baby down? A human ladder forms and a slingshot finally solves the problem, but then who's going to catch the baby? Mahy is clearly in love with language here, as she offers a text that flounces and bounces like the baby in the bubble: But she bellowed, / 'Gracious, Greville!' / and she groveled on the gravel / when the baby in the bubble / bibble-bobbled overhead. Dunbar uses watercolors accented with cut paper to chronicle the silliness. The story goes on a bit long for the youngest, but children will find their ears perking up at the tongue-twisting text, and they may become word lovers, too, after listening to this.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Starred Review. PreS-Gr 2-A truckload of trouble and mountains of mayhem ensue when young Mabel blows a bubble that enfolds her baby brother and carries him aloft. He is pursued by his frantic mother and sister, "crumpled Mr. Copple and his wife," "feeble Mrs. Threeble," "Greville Gribble," the chapel choir, and other townsfolk. The text floats in waves along with the bouncing baby across the energetic watercolor and cut-paper spreads. Dressed in stripes and plaids, nightshirts and jogging suits, the crowd sprints along through backyards and gardens, gesticulating wildly as the smiling infant floats by. Eventually, the rescuers form a human ladder to reach him. But Abel, "a rascal and a rebel," performs a dastardly deed with his slingshot and the people watch in horror as the baby plummets through the air. It takes three page turns for readers to reach the delightful resolution of this perilous predicament. There is no mistaking the baby's happy landing as his smiling face and waving arms and feet fill the spread. This tale, with its over-the-top silliness, is a storyhour gem. And with some practice, the rhyme, alliterative phrases, and names will fall trippingly off the tongue. Fabulous fun!-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog The Bohemians : Mark Twain and the San Francisco writers who reinvented American literature
by Ben Tarnoff

Publishers Weekly Tarnoff's (A Counterfeiter's Paradise) glimmering prose lends grandeur to this account of four writers (Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, and Ina Coolbrith) who built "an extraordinary literary scene" in the frontier boom town of 1860s San Francisco. Twain gets the most page time, but is the least delicately handled; Tarnoff reserves his affection for the city itself and its "community of fellow misfits" who, drawing on the unique energy of young California and the language, humor, and mythology of the West, create a "native national literature, liberated from the cultural imperialism of the Old World." While the revolutionary claims are ambitious-Twain's jumping frog of Calaveras County is "the Fort Sumter of American letters," his The Innocents Abroad "a bullet in the heart of America's literary establishment"-Tarnoff thoughtfully situates the rise of "a unique American vernacular" in a confluence of economic, geographic, and historical forces. The impacts of the self-styled Bohemians emerge most clearly in the nostalgic reflections of the chief characters only after they have left San Francisco for parts abroad. Nevertheless, the lively historical detail and loving tone of the interwoven biographies make a highly readable story of this formative time in American letters, starring San Francisco as the city that lifted Twain "to literary greatness." Photos. Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal San Francisco-based Tarnoff (A Counterfeiter's Paradise) chronicles the lives of four American writers-a young Mark Twain falls in with rising literary star Bret Harte, poet Charles Stoddard, and dark poetess Ina Coolbirth-living in the Bay Area from the early 1860s to 1878, a tumultuous time of boom and bust. Together, these "so-called Bohemians" carouse, chase fame, and heavily influence one another's work. Harte eventually takes on a mentorship role, becomes editor of The Overland, but ultimately his self-absorbed personality effectively dissolves the group. In the book's first half, Tarnoff successfully paints a grand portrait of San Francisco, bringing to life the friendship and rivalry of the writers. While the latter half of this title lacks the spirit infused into its beginning, Tarnoff describes admirably Twain's growth following his departure from the West Coast and his courtship of Olivia Langdon. Particular attention is paid to Twain's evolution from story writer to star author, with his publication of The Innocents Abroad in 1869. VERDICT Readers hoping for a work wholly dedicated to the writers living in San Francisco during the period may be somewhat disappointed, as two of the four are not in the city for half of the years covered in the book. Recommended for fans of the authors, particularly Harte and Twain, and readers of American history, biography, and American literary history. [See Prepub Alert, 10/1/13.]-Benjamin Brudner, Curry Coll. Lib., Milton, MA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list California was always crawling with scribblers, Tarnoff remarks, while San Francisco, a promising metropolis far from the horrors of the Civil War, engendered a thriving publishing culture supported by voracious, opinionated readers. Four very different writers who just so happened to share contempt for custom and a taste for satire ended up joining forces as the Bohemians: young, bold Mark Twain; Bret Harte, whose dandyish appearance belied courageous defiance (though he did hide his Jewish heritage); the vulnerable, lovable, and clandestinely gay Charles Warren Stoddard; and independent Ina Coolbrith, who concealed her family's Mormon connection and the horrors of her brief marriage. These creative, hardworking, under-stress literary Bohemians turned two journals, Golden Era and Overland Monthly, into nationally renowned forums for fresh, probing, irreverent writing. Tarnoff energetically portrays this irresistible quartet within a vital historical setting, tracking the controversies they sparked and the struggles they endured, bringing forward an underappreciated facet of American literature. We see Twain in a revealing new light, but most affecting are Tarnoff's insights into Harte's downward spiral, Stoddard's faltering, and persevering Coolbrith's triumph as California's first poet laureate.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2014 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Choice Tarnoff has written a tremendously important analysis of the emergence of Mark Twain as a major American humorist. Comments by Twain on Bret Harte's importance are frequently noted but rarely addressed fully by scholars; here, they fit into a compelling mosaic comprising Harte, Twain, and lesser writers C. W. Stoddard, Ina Coolbrith, and Ambrose Bierce. Convincingly demonstrating how this coterie shaped a rough-hewn vulgar comic into a world-class writer of frontier American humor, Tarnoff first establishes the ethical status of San Francisco's frontier traits through Jessie Benton Fremont and Thomas Starr King. He then leaps into the middle of Harte's position as a literary craftsman capable of honing Twain's style. Twain's wife, Livy, and William Dean Howells are given their true place in making Twain the major writer he needed to be to reach a worldwide popular audience; Harte's unlikely relationship with Twain is carefully and convincingly documented to prove the point. Tarnoff melds the Bohemian group into a unified movement representing San Francisco's literary aspirations, and he provides careful documentation--50 pages of thorough source annotations, mostly from the authors themselves. This study of post-Civil War American literature, Mark Twain, and American humor is not to be missed. --David E. E. Sloane, University of New Haven

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Origin
by Dan Brown

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Bomb
by Steve Sheinkin

Publishers Weekly In his highly readable storytelling style, Sheinkin (The Notorious Benedict Arnold) weaves together tales of scientific and technological discovery, back-alley espionage, and wartime sabotage in a riveting account of the race to build the first atomic weapon. The famous (Robert Oppenheimer) and infamous (spy Harry Gold) headline an enormous cast of characters, which also includes Norwegian resistance fighter Knut Haukelid, whose secret wartime missions prevented Hitler from acquiring an atom bomb. B&w portraits of key players appear in photo- montages that begin each of the book's four sections. Sheinkin pulls from numerous sources to supply every chapter with quotations that swiftly move the narrative forward. Suspenseful play-by-play moments will captivate, from the nuclear chain reaction test at the University of Chicago to the preparations for and dropping of the first bomb over Hiroshima. In a "genie out of the bottle" epilogue, details of the Cold War's escalating arms race and present-day weapons counts will give readers pause, especially Sheinkin's final thoughts: "It's a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you're in it." A must-read for students of history and science. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) ? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Using some of the same narrative techniques he used in the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction-winning The Notorious Benedict Arnold (2010), Sheinkin shapes the story of the Manhattan Project into a dense, complicated thriller that intercuts the action with the deftness of a Hollywood blockbuster. There are more characters than readers will be able to handle, but they'll follow the three main threads. The first is a tale of spy versus spy, as Soviet informants infiltrate America's Los Alamos laboratory. The second tracks the heroism of Knut Haukelid as he parachutes into Norway to destroy Germany's heavy water plant. Most amazing is Robert Oppenheimer's assemblage of the greatest scientific minds in the U.S. (aka the world's largest collection of crackpots ), who under great duress design the most lethal weapon in history. Sheinkin's prose understandably favors plot machinations over character, and positioning photos in the back matter feels anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the painstakingly sourced narrative crackles and drives home the strange mix of pride and horror felt by the scientists who had just won the war but lost something of equal worth.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5 Up-"Harry Gold was right: This is a big story." So begins this depiction of the "creation-and theft-of the deadliest weapon ever invented." As he did in The Notorious Benedict Arnold (Roaring Brook, 2010), Sheinkin has again brought his superior talent for storytelling to bear in what is truly a gripping account of discovery, espionage, and revolutionary changes in both physics and the modern world. This fascinating tale, packed with a wide cast of characters, focuses mainly on three individuals: spy for the Soviets Harry Gold, leader of the Manhattan Project J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Knut Haukelid, who sabotaged German bomb efforts while working for the Norwegian resistance. Sheinkin skillfully combines lucid, conversational snapshots of the science behind the atomic bomb with a fast-paced narrative of the remarkable people who made it possible and attempted to steal it. Handsomely designed and loaded with archival photos and primary-source documents, the accessible volume lays out how the bomb was envisioned and brought to fruition. While the historical information and hard facts presented here will likely be new to the intended audience, they in no way overwhelm readers or detract from the thoroughly researched, well-documented account. It reads like an international spy thriller, and that's the beauty of it.-Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In his highly readable storytelling style, Sheinkin (The Notorious Benedict Arnold) weaves together tales of scientific and technological discovery, back-alley espionage, and wartime sabotage in a riveting account of the race to build the first atomic weapon. The famous (Robert Oppenheimer) and infamous (spy Harry Gold) headline an enormous cast of characters, which also includes Norwegian resistance fighter Knut Haukelid, whose secret wartime missions prevented Hitler from acquiring an atom bomb. B&w portraits of key players appear in photo- montages that begin each of the book's four sections. Sheinkin pulls from numerous sources to supply every chapter with quotations that swiftly move the narrative forward. Suspenseful play-by-play moments will captivate, from the nuclear chain reaction test at the University of Chicago to the preparations for and dropping of the first bomb over Hiroshima. In a "genie out of the bottle" epilogue, details of the Cold War's escalating arms race and present-day weapons counts will give readers pause, especially Sheinkin's final thoughts: "It's a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you're in it." A must-read for students of history and science. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) ? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Using some of the same narrative techniques he used in the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction-winning The Notorious Benedict Arnold (2010), Sheinkin shapes the story of the Manhattan Project into a dense, complicated thriller that intercuts the action with the deftness of a Hollywood blockbuster. There are more characters than readers will be able to handle, but they'll follow the three main threads. The first is a tale of spy versus spy, as Soviet informants infiltrate America's Los Alamos laboratory. The second tracks the heroism of Knut Haukelid as he parachutes into Norway to destroy Germany's heavy water plant. Most amazing is Robert Oppenheimer's assemblage of the greatest scientific minds in the U.S. (aka the world's largest collection of crackpots ), who under great duress design the most lethal weapon in history. Sheinkin's prose understandably favors plot machinations over character, and positioning photos in the back matter feels anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the painstakingly sourced narrative crackles and drives home the strange mix of pride and horror felt by the scientists who had just won the war but lost something of equal worth.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5 Up-"Harry Gold was right: This is a big story." So begins this depiction of the "creation-and theft-of the deadliest weapon ever invented." As he did in The Notorious Benedict Arnold (Roaring Brook, 2010), Sheinkin has again brought his superior talent for storytelling to bear in what is truly a gripping account of discovery, espionage, and revolutionary changes in both physics and the modern world. This fascinating tale, packed with a wide cast of characters, focuses mainly on three individuals: spy for the Soviets Harry Gold, leader of the Manhattan Project J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Knut Haukelid, who sabotaged German bomb efforts while working for the Norwegian resistance. Sheinkin skillfully combines lucid, conversational snapshots of the science behind the atomic bomb with a fast-paced narrative of the remarkable people who made it possible and attempted to steal it. Handsomely designed and loaded with archival photos and primary-source documents, the accessible volume lays out how the bomb was envisioned and brought to fruition. While the historical information and hard facts presented here will likely be new to the intended audience, they in no way overwhelm readers or detract from the thoroughly researched, well-documented account. It reads like an international spy thriller, and that's the beauty of it.-Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett

Library Journal : A radical departure from Follett's novels of international suspense and intrigue, this chronicles the vicissitudes of a prior, his master builder, and their community as they struggle to build a cathedral and protect themselves during the tumultuous 12th century, when the empress Maud and Stephen are fighting for the crown of England after the death of Henry I. The plot is less tightly controlled than those in Follett's contemporary works, and despite the wealth of historical detail, especially concerning architecture and construction, much of the language as well as the psychology of the characters and their relationships remains firmly rooted in the 20th century. This will appeal more to lovers of exciting adventure stories than true devotees of historical fiction. Literary Guild dual main selection.

Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : With this book, Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner, escaping the narrow genre of suspense thrillers to take credit for a historical novel of gripping readability, authentic atmosphere and detail and memorable characterization. Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through four decades during which social and political upheaval and the internal politics of the church affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. The insightful portrayals of an idealistic master builder, a pious, dogmatic but compassionate prior and an unscrupulous, ruthless bishop are balanced by those of a trio of independent, resourceful women (one of them quite loathesome) who can stand on their own as memorable characters in any genre. Beginning with a mystery that casts its shadow on ensuing events, the narrative is a seesaw of tension in which circumstances change with shocking but true-to-life unpredictability. Follett's impeccable pacing builds suspense in a balanced narrative that offers action, intrigue, violence and passion as well as the step-by-step description of an edifice rising in slow stages, its progress tied to the vicissitudes of fortune and the permutations of evolving architectural style. Follett's depiction of the precarious balance of power between monarchy and religion in the Middle Ages, and of the effects of social upheavals and the forces of nature (storms, famines) on political events; his ability to convey the fine points of architecture so that the cathedral becomes clearly visualized in the reader's mind; and above all, his portrayals of the enduring human emotions of ambition, greed, bravery, dedication, revenge and love, result in a highly engrossing narrative. Manipulating a complex plot in which the characters interact against a broad canvas of medieval life, Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale. 400,000 first printing; $400,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild main dual selection; author tour.

Copyright 1989 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog Olive Kitteridge:
by Elizabeth Strout

Library Journal : In her third novel, New York Times best-selling author Strout (Abide with Me) tracks Olive Kitteridge's adult life through 13 linked stories. Olive—a wife, mother, and retired teacher—lives in the small coastal town of Crosby, ME. A large, hulking woman with a relentlessly unpleasant personality, Olive intimidates generations of community members with her quick, cruel condemnations of those around her—including her gentle, optimistic, and devoted husband, Henry, and her son, Christopher, who, as an adult, flees the suffocating vortex of his mother's displeasure. Strout offers a fair amount of relief from Olive's mean cloud in her treatment of the lives of the other townsfolk. With the deft, piercing shorthand that is her short story—telling trademark, she takes readers below the surface of deceptive small-town ordinariness to expose the human condition in all its suffering and sadness. Even when Olive is kept in the background of some of the tales, her influence is apparent. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether it's worth the ride to the last few pages to witness Olive's slide into something resembling insight. For larger libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/07.]—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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