Tuesday, July 26, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett


A while ago, I listened to an interview with author Ann Patchett. Her new book, State of Wonder, had just been released, and upon hearing the interview, I was intrigued. After reading the book, I am a fan and will definitely read some of her previous novels.

After receiving a brief letter that a colleague has died in the jungle, the main character, Marina, is the unlikely choice of her employer to travel to South America. Marina’s company is involved in developing new pharmaceuticals in the Amazonian jungle, and she is sent to ascertain what stage the research is at. The head researcher, a former teacher of Marina’s, is unresponsive to all attempts made by the company to contact her. Although she is reluctant to go, part of Marina wants to know what happened to her friend and colleague, and answer some of the questions surrounding his death. Once there, Marina finds herself facing personal, physical and ethical challenges.

This is a well researched novel that is appealing for many reasons. The characters are richly drawn, and complex. The plot is tightly woven with many unexpected twists and turns (so don’t peek at the ending). In it, Patchett poses many questions regarding human behavior, science, and technology, and asks: just because we can do something, should we.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Unthinkable: who survives when disasters happen and why by Amanda Ripley


Disasters can take many forms, and we often find ourselves in a situation that could lead to disaster. Do you know what to do? For instance, the first time this summer we heard the town’s emergency siren - how many of us had taken the time beforehand to know what it meant? Knowledge, it seems can save lives, and Amanda Ripley explains how in The Unthinkable, who survives when disasters happen and why.

Amanda Ripley is an award winning reporter for Time magazine. In 2004 she was working on a report about survivors of the 9/11 attacks. As part of her research she attended a Survivors support group meeting. She was prepared for an exchange of grief. Instead she found that these people had a different agenda. They had things they wanted to tell people. They felt that they had learned so much about surviving and they wanted other people to know. Ordinary citizens aren’t just victims in a disaster; they are the first responders and often the heroes. They are the most important people on the scene. Almost all the survivors she met said there were things they wished they would have known, and things they wished you would know.

Currently, only Miami branch holds this book, but it is available through interbranch loan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Playaways & Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard


Playaways are the newest technology product available at the South Central Regional Library. A Playaway is a pre-loaded device that plays books and is powered by a replaceable AA battery. It allows you to set bookmarks and control the speed. It can be plugged into any external speaker unit (eg car stereo) for family listening it can be plugged into a headset for private listening. One title on a Playaway is Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard.
Twins have always held a special fascination for people. In Midnight Twins, Merry and Mally Brynn share a secret language and telepathy. However, after a fire on their 13th birthday, in which they are almost killed, their connection begins to unravel. Suddenly they begin to see things. Mally can see things before they happen and Merry can see them after they have ended. When Mally begins to have visions of the older brother of a friend hurting animals and attacking women, they decide they must do something about it.
At the moment, Playaways are all housed at the Winkler branch and they are mainly juvenile titles. The selection includes titles that will be popular with both boys and girls. These are a good way to keep kids interested in reading during the summer. Coming soon to Altona and Morden are adult titles.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova



Lisa Genova has written several novels about what happens when people find themselves in unusual circumstances because of brain injury of disease. Such a book is Left Neglected.
Sarah, the main character, is a high-powered business executive who is driven, overscheduled, and ambitious. We enter her life as she is trying to squeeze business commitments, her husband and her 3 kids into an already full day. The tempo of the book builds with each page as we experience the accelerated pace of Sarah’s life through her eyes. We experience her accident, her brain injury, her left neglected syndrome, her physiotherapy and recovery. After her accident, like all high achievers, she expects to quickly solve her problems and return to the fast lane. However, Left Neglected syndrome means that her brain does not recognize anything on the left side of her body. She can’t even see a person standing on her left side. She must retrain her brain and make it aware of her left side. This is a slow and difficult process requiring a person to be patient with oneself.
Elaine in our Winkler branch found herself drawn into Sarah’s story immediately and felt with her during her crises and recovery. The book is easy to read and it’s easy to identify with the main character. It is one of those books that makes one think, “What on earth would I do if that happened to me?”
Lisa Genova has written several novels about what happens when people find themselves in unusual circumstances because of brain injury of disease. Such a book is Left Neglected.
Sarah, the main character, is a high-powered business executive who is driven, overscheduled, and ambitious. We enter her life as she is trying to squeeze business commitments, her husband and her 3 kids into an already full day. The tempo of the book builds with each page as we experience the accelerated pace of Sarah’s life through her eyes. We experience her accident, her brain injury, her left neglected syndrome, her physiotherapy and recovery. After her accident, like all high achievers, she expects to quickly solve her problems and return to the fast lane. However, Left Neglected syndrome means that her brain does not recognize anything on the left side of her body. She can’t even see a person standing on her left side. She must retrain her brain and make it aware of her left side. This is a slow and difficult process requiring a person to be patient with oneself.
Elaine in our Winkler branch found herself drawn into Sarah’s story immediately and felt with her during her crises and recovery. The book is easy to read and it’s easy to identify with the main character. It is one of those books that makes one think, “What on earth would I do if that happened to me?”