Friday, November 21, 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
...See if you agree! Beowulf: a Translation and Commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien is available at the Ocean City Free Public Library.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
"Ex-Heroes: A Novel"
by Peter Clines
With The Walking Dead returning to television this past Sunday, readers who can't seem to get enough zombies may be interested in checking out the "Ex-Heroes" series by Peter Clines. As it happens, the blurb on the front cover comes from our blog's last featured author, Ernest Cline: "I loved this pop culture-infused tale of shamed superheroes struggling to survive a zombie apocalypse in the ruins of Hollywood. It's The Avengers meets The Walking Dead with a large order of epic served on the side."
Read on and see if you agree with Mr. Cline...
Imagine a world very much like ours, with one major exception: some ordinary humans have suddenly found themselves in possession of extraordinary talents and abilities. Take The Mighty Dragon, for example, once an average handyman named George...who is now seemingly indestructible, super strong, and able to breathe fire. And The Dragon isn't alone, for countless have dedicated themselves to using their new "gifts" for the good of all. Cerberus, for example, is this universe's answer to Iron Man (a regular, "powerless" human who makes a difference thanks to a combination of her brain and a state of the art battle suit).
If this sounds like every other super-hero tale you've read in the past, keep your cape on. Because neither the human race nor the newly-arrived super-humans are prepared for a sudden plague that devastates the entire planet. Billions of lives are lost, most of which have reanimated as the living dead, now called "Exes." Our civilization lies in ashes, and our only hope is for the remaining survivors (hero and human alike) to band together and fight to survive.
"Ex-Heroes" focuses on The Dragon and his associates, who have carved themselves a home base out of what remains of the City of Angels. Despite their relative successes, many questions remain. Can they really expect to survive in a world where even a bite or scratch from an Ex is enough to turn you into one of them? And what, if anything, exists in the world beyond the city gates?
As a huge fan of both zombies and super-heroes, I was very interested to hear of a book that combined the two subjects. Clines is able to combine the two separate worlds into one that works surprisingly well. "Ex-Heroes" contains plenty of action and adventure, all the while managing to perfectly capture the overwhelming sense of isolation and despair. If you've ever wondered how an epic battle between Superman, Iron Man and an army of zombies might play out, "Ex-Heroes" is here to show you. To pardon the pun, this is a book that fantasy/horror/science fiction fans can easily sink their teeth into.
And while it would be simple to fill a book with zombie gore and call it a day, Clines doesn't stop there. As fans of the genre are aware, post-apocalyptic scenarios take a mental and emotional toll on survivors in addition to the physical threats they face on a daily basis. A band of humans has enough trouble fighting for survival while managing to govern themselves. What kinds of ethical conflicts and power struggles may emerge when these humans are mixed in with a group of superheroes?
The Marvel Comics character Spider-Man introduced many readers to the concept of "With great power comes great responsibility", and nowhere is that more apparent then when faced with the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding humanity from scratch. And, while superpowers may seem like a dream come true to many, it is also important to consider the potential drawbacks. What if your powers came at a heavy cost? What would you be willing to surrender in exchange for the power to save lives? Readers are forced to wonder how they would act in such a scenario, as unlikely as it may seem.
The Ocean City Library has a copy of "Ex-Heroes" waiting for you to pick up and explore. If you enjoy it and want to read more about The Mighty Dragon and his friends, the series continues with "Ex-Patriots", "Ex-Communication" and, most recently, "Ex-Purgatory." Pack your bags, check your supplies and enter a world where super-heroes and zombies go hand-in-rotting hand. If it's too much for you, take a break and remind yourself that this could never happen in real life.....or could it?
More information about Peter Clines may be found on the author's Facebook page.
More information about Peter Clines may be found on the author's Facebook page.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Fans of science fiction, video games and pop culture should add New York Times Bestseller “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline to their list of must-reads. USA Today has referred to it as "Willy Wonka meets The Matrix.” Although this may seem to be a strange comparison, nothing could be quite so accurate.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
The book features photos, anecdotes, statistics and accomplishments of women runners from age 50 to 80 plus.
Susan Reich of Ocean City, NJ is one of the women profiled in the book. Starting at age 22 and still running at age 52, she's a 30 year veteran who, according to the book, was the recent overall female winner of Ocean City's half marathon. She started training after joining the Brigantine Beach Patrol.
Montgomery quotes Reich as saying, "As long as I'm having fun and staying healthy I'll keep running. I missed all aspects of this summer when I was injured. I'm addicted. I think part of the reason I keep improving is that I did not start running seriously until later in life. I had much room for improvement."
Other locals profiled in the book include Carole O. Donohue of Cape May Court House, NJ, age 51, who runs 40 to 60 miles a week while training for a marathon, Suzanne Gibson, age 60, of Egg Harbor Township, NJ whose best race was the Philadelphia Marathon at age 52, Sue Baker of Ocean City, NJ, who at age 65 runs 12 to 15 miles per week, Carole L. Lelli of Ocean City, NJ, who at age 68 runs 20 to 25 miles per week and who completed her best race at age 48 in the New York City Marathon, and Rita Alles of Hamilton, NJ, who at age 74 runs 10 to 12 miles per week and does spinning two days per week.
All of the women profiled in this book are sure to provide some inspiration to not only runners, but anyone looking to dedicate themselves to any pursuit. Their accomplishments and their lasting health show the personal benefits that are possible from consistent dedication.
Tapping the Fountain of Youth: Profiles of Women Runners Over 50 is in our collection at the Ocean City Public Library. The 196-page book was published in August of 2012.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
I finished James Joyce's Ulysses last night, after months of reading (breaks for other books included). After putting it down, I opened my laptop and realized I'd just finished one of the most famous banned books of the 20th century during Banned Books week. It was a coincidence, but it still prompted me to do some research about the history of the book.
Ulysses was published in 1922, but it wasn't until 1933 that U.S. courts lifted a ban on the book, according to an archived article from the December 7, 1933 edition of The New York Times. The article states that the book was banned by customs censors, "on the ground that it might cause American readers to harbor 'impure and lustful thoughts.'"
By today's standards, although there are some memorably racy scenes in Ulysses, the book is relatively tame compared to contemporary pop culture—an average episode of Law and Order or Dexter includes more graphic violence and sexual content (in HD, of course) than any scene from Joyce's work.
The New York Times article summarizes Federal Judge John M. Woolsey's decision to lift the ban, quoting him as saying, "If one does not wish to associate with folks as Joyce describes, that is one's own choice."
Interestingly, this article was written two days after the repeal of Prohibition, another ruling that champions individual liberty.
The banning of Ulysses, like Prohibition's ban on alcohol, did not stop many Americans from procuring and partaking in the work. The James Joyce Centre describes not only the confiscation of the book upon its publication, but also adds that some Americans simply bought copies while in Paris, then smuggled them home. Also similar to Prohibition, the James Joyce Centre argues that the ban itself "piqued people's interest in the book, creating still more demand for 'illicit' copies of the book."
Despite its initial banning, the legacy of Ulysses in America is one of reverence. Random House's Modern Library lists it as the best novel of all time, and critics have argued over its merits for decades.
And, of course, it's on our shelves here at the Ocean City Free Public Library.
Friday, October 5, 2012
For fans of author David Foster Wallace, his death in 2008 came as a surprise. Knowing that he isn't around to create characters like Hal, Mario and Avril Incandenza, Don Gately, and Joelle Van Dyne and knowing that he will never pen another novel makes The New Yorker writer D.T. Max's biography of Wallace, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, all the more valuable, as it may one of the last glimpses we have into Wallace's brilliant mind.
In the book, Max provides exhaustively detailed accounts of Wallace's precocious childhood, his desire to please his grammar instructor mother, his struggles with mental health, alcohol and drugs, his successes in his time as a student in high school and at Amherst, and his struggles as a writer.
The biography depicts Wallace as a man who was prodigious, which led to an early over confidence, but which as he aged and struggled through rehabilitation programs changed to what seemed a genuine humility. He began to change his views about literature, shedding some of the rebellious style exhibited in his first novel, The Broom of the System, which was written as his senior thesis as an undergraduate and published when he was 23.
His humanity, sense of humor, compassion, and ultimate humility is most prevalent in his final two novels, Infinite Jest (his magnum opus, regarded by many as a masterpiece of contemporary literature) and The Pale King (his posthumous publication, unfinished when he died and pieced together from the manuscript pages and notes he left behind). In both of these works, there is an underlying spirit and sense of morality that is not present in The Broom of The System or in his first short story collection, Girl With Curious Hair.
Wallace's progression as both a writer and man is exhibited in Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, offering glimpses into what changed him, how he changed the literary world, and how he was viewed by contemporaries, by his students, and, most tragically, by himself. In 2008, at the age of 46, Wallace hanged himself in his California home.
Every Love Story is a Ghost Story was released on Aug. 30, 2012 and, drawing from interviews with family, friends, students, colleagues and acquaintances as well as from Wallace's papers, which are housed at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas, it provides perhaps the most extensive account of Wallace's life to date.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
The MacArthur grant is a $500,000 award.
I have read two of Diaz's books. The first, Drown, is a collection of short stories that was released in 1996. The second, Oscar Wao, was his first novel. His newest book, This is How You Lose Her, was released in September of this year and is another collection of short stories (it has so far received much critical acclaim as well as a place on The New York Times bestseller list).
In Drown one can engage with many of the same characters from his later works, including the narrator of Oscar Wao, Yunior, a character that recurs throughout Diaz's works. His style in Drown is similar to that of Oscar Wao, including a mixture of Spanish and English as well as slang, but, not surprisingly, his earliest work is not as polished or mature as Oscar Wao, which was released more than a decade after his first collection.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao tells the life story of Oscar Wao, a nerdy, overweight Dominican boy who grows up in New Jersey and (not surprisingly) attends Rutgers University. Wao is a science fiction writer, and while in college shares a dorm room with Yunior, who is in love with Wao's sister and who has never had a hard time with women (this is exhibited throughout Oscar Wao and Drown).
What Wao wants more than anything, though, is to fall in love, and Yunior decides to help him lose weight and work on his skill at talking to girls.
Most of Diaz's stories center on some romantic or sexual theme. His work is, for the most part, an exploration of the many forms of love and the many forms of longing he sees in the world. Because of the varied nature of the subject he explores, the writing can at times be gritty, magical, epic, or humorous. Most of all, his books are simultaneously smart yet engaging and emotionally charged.
Oscar Wao includes chapters from the perspectives of Wao's mother and sister, both of whom have their own romantic and familial struggles, which are exhibited throughout the book. Wao, like many of the characters in Drown, grew up without a father in his Paterson, New Jersey household. The story takes us from male to female perspective, from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey and back, and through time from the present day to the reign of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo early in the 20th century. All of this is sewn together seamlessly through the superior storytelling skills of Diaz.
Here at the Ocean City Public Library, we currently hold copies of all three of Diaz's books. For more information, call the reference desk at (609)399-2434.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
A local book club member noted how she felt about this book, “I didn’t feel like I was invited into the book.” Well blog readers, please consider yourself invited in and my guest.
At first, I read this novel and found it rather sad. Then, I explored the hundreds of resources at OCFPL. From the comfort of your home, I suggest you utilize the online resources @ oceancitylibrary.org. I guarantee you will find information that makes you feel welcomed within the pages of this and other novels. With such resources one will uncover opinions, truths and/or hidden intentions of the novel. Article by article, I gained appreciation for the author and his writing. This leads to my database of the month:
Lacy, Robert. "The Moviegoer," Fifty Years After." Southern Review 47.1 (2011): 49-54. Literary Reference Center. Web. 9 Feb. 2012.
Osborne, V. (2009). The Most Ordinary Life Imaginable": Cold War Culture in Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer. Southern Literary Journal, 41(2), 106-125.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Super Quick Synopsis ~ An author goes on a spiritual journey traveling via the Trans-Siberian Railway with his following (admirers, devotees &/or employees). While life paths intertwine meaning is attempted to be found in each experience (often only by the reader;). Travel, loss, spiritual growth, past lives, kindness, forgiveness, rituals, religion are all subjects visited.
But “Whats it all about Alphie?” well you’ll just have to read the book!
Mining for pearls in a sea of databases....
I often find if you do some research, into any subject, you find a gem. This gem inspires you to appreciate the author and his writing. I found many pearls on my journey to find endearing qualities about this book.
My favorite Ocean City Free Public Library mining database this month is Films on Demand, AVOD. AVOD provides Streaming technology allows you to access high quality video content via the Internet.
AVOD offers two video on Coelho:
The One and the Many: Pilgrims in a World of Faith (53:00)
Whether for pardon, healing, inspiration, or enlightenment, a pilgrimage can be a journey through the kingdom of spirit. In this program, Paul Coelho, author of The Pilgrimage; His Holiness the Dalai Lama; the director of the Tiberias Center for Kabbalah and Healing; and others reflect on the history and significance of major pilgrimage destinations, including Santiago de Compostela, Mecca, Bodh Gaya, the Jordan and Ganges Rivers, the tombs of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai and Kôbô Daishi, and Chamundi Hill. (53 minutes)” http://avod.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=11716&xtid=11738
Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist of Words (48:00)
With sales of more than 32 million books in 51 languages, Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho is one of the most widely read authors in the world. This program captures Coelho’s story through conversations with the award-winning writer and those who know and admire him. Coelho’s use of a symbolic language, designed to transcend the intellect to speak directly to the heart, is discussed along with colorful incidents spanning his life, from his youthful involvement with the hippie movement to his emergence as a world-class author. In addition, The Alchemist, a number one bestseller in 29 countries, and some of his more recent writings are examined. (48 minutes) http://avod.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=11716&xtid=30017
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Rebecca Skloot spent a decade uncovering and researching this story. Her research really shows. But don’t be afraid of the science jargon– Skloot takes special care to break down even the most advanced science issues and procedures into easy to understand language. You’ll be fascinated by what scientists have been able to accomplish thanks to the HeLa cells. More importantly, you’ll be asking yourself the question – if it’ll help to scientific advancements, who really owns my body?
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Lost in Shangri-la : the epic true story of a World War II plane crash into the Stone Age by Mitchell Zuckoff
The group has no food (relying on Charms hard candy), little water, no way to contact their military base, and the knowledge that the local Dani tribe are quite violent and unpredictable. The rest of the book is about their survival and the courageous efforts that the military takes to rescue them, including dropping in a group of paratroopers and a dangerous plane rescue.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Registration will begin on 6/1. The first 25 people to register will receive free copies of the book. Space is limited, so make sure you register early by either calling 609-399-2434 ext. 5226 or email email@example.com
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
While the concept for the book could be confusing to some, it doesn’t feel disjointed at all. The hardest part in reading Goon Squad is figuring out where each person fits into the world that Egan has created and at what point in time. The connecting thread that runs through all of the chapters deals with human development– how do we change as we age? How did we get to this particular point in our lives?
If you liked the movies Valentine’s Day or Magnolia (both of which feature lots of different mini-narratives within one major story), you’ll undoubtedly love A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
An act so simple winds up creating the most compelling story that could happen to anyone with elderly parents. Park So-nyo is on her way to meet her children in Seoul when she vanishes at the train station. As the days turn into weeks with no sign of their mother, the family copes with the anguish over their major loss. The book has 4 major chapter/perspectives- So-nyo's eldest daughter, eldest son, husband and then So-nyo herself. As the novel unwinds, readers find out more and more about the woman who has done everything in her power to keep her (ungrateful) family happy and stable. All families have their secrets, but as the primary caretaker in the house, "Mom" has the most.