Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park


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June Book Group Selections

Evening Book Club

Wednesday
June 14, 2017
6:30 p.m.

Choose any title by Rita Mae Brown

From the author’s website: Rita Mae Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of the Mrs. Murphy mystery series (which she writes with her tiger cat, Sneaky Pie) and the Sister Jane novels, as well as Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, and the memoirs Animal Magnetism and Rita Will. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, with cats, hounds, horses, and big red foxes.

Afternoon Book Discussion

Thursday
June 15, 2017
2:00 p.m.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

Description from publisher: Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker, moves to Ohio in 1850–only to find herself alienated and alone in a strange land. However, Honor is drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, where she befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance.


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The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo, by Drew Weing

Charles could not be more appalled by his situation. His family has moved him from their sleepy suburban home to the expansive, and statistically unsafe, Echo City. The city is dirty, his new bedroom is too small, and the Asian market on the corner doesn’t sell his brand of chicken nuggets! To make matters worse, Echo City appears to be infested with ghosts, trolls, and an endless variety of monsters, all of which would not be opposed to taking a bite out of Charles.

Enter Margo Maloo: Monster Mediator. Her job is to resolve conflicts between children and monsters, and Charles is about to find out that she does not always rule in the child’s favor.

One reason I love this graphic novel is that Charles is learning and changing during the story. Charles starts out as a spoiled, self-centered, and small minded brat. When he asks for Margo’s help, she has some bad news; the monsters causing his problems were there before he was, and he needs to respect that. He can’t just barge into a place and bulldoze the existing tenants, because she won’t let him. After some tough-love lessons from Margo, Charles learns how to respect others and live in a diverse world.

This book features some impressively subtle metaphors. While not directly teaching lessons, The Creepy Case Files will expose readers to the dynamics behind heavy topics such as imperialism, manifest destiny, and modern gentrification. Hopefully, stories like these will give kids the groundwork to fully grasp these topics when they are older.

Check the Pinellas Public Library Catalog for this item.


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I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

I will raise my hand and say that, while I love adventure stories, I’m not the biggest fan of mysteries or crime stories. When I picked up I Am Princess X after seeing it recommended in our #ReadersUnite video I was drawn to the fierce Princess X character on the cover and decided to give it a shot.

The book hooks you instantly by detailing the curious friendship of Libby and May. Their friendship grows from one of circumstance to one of true sisterhood. They seem to spend every minute together creating their character, Princess X. The creative process stopped, however, when tragedy struck. Libby and her mother died in a car accident. May could no longer bring herself to write Princess X and her story died with Libby…

Or so May thought. One day, May sees a sticker with a princess character that looks exactly how Libby had drawn Princess X. Then she sees another, and another, and another. She finds out from someone sporting a Princess X patch on his bag that it’s from a popular web comic.

After reading the comic, May knows in her heart that Libby must be alive somewhere and creating more Princess X stories. With the help of a computer savvy friend, she tries to track down the creator to see if it really is her friend or someone who bought the stories from the thrift store where Libby’s father had sent all of his daughter’s belongings. What she finds is an adventure worthy of Princess X herself that puts May, her friends, and family into harm’s way.

Panels of the web comic are sprinkled throughout the novel to help guide the story, so I highly recommend reading the book instead of the audio book! The panels are wonderfully illustrated by Kali Ciesemier.

Pick up a copy of I am Princess X to find out what happens!


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Blackbirds, by Chuck Wendig

As a reader, I often range wide in getting my reading fix, and find myself following many authors’ blogs. Ones that are clearly creations of a publisher’s marketing department I quickly unfollow, but there are many authors whose unique voice resonates on their blogs as in their writing.

Which brings me to Chuck Wendig, an author whose blog I’ve followed for years. He writes about politics, his son, food, games and the gaming industry, but, mostly, about writing. He is irreverent and funny and, occasionally, not safe for work (visit his blog terribleminds.com with that in mind).

Having read his blog and followed him on Twitter for years, I was talking with another reader about how I liked reading author blogs, and recommended Chuck to him. Then I got the question: “What has he written?” I was stumped, and more than a little horrified that this talented author’s works had slipped past me.

Which brings me to Blackbirds. It is the first in the Miriam Black series, which follows the main character through her trials and tribulations in Mockingbird, Cormorant, and Thunderbird.

Miriam Black is in her early twenties and she knows how everyone dies. With skin-to-skin contact, she gets a vision of the death of anyone she touches. Whether death comes by car crash, suicide, heart attack, the lingering death of cancer or illness, Miriam need only touch a person to see their end. As you can imagine, this messes with Miriam’s head, and she wanders through America, surviving by dead-end jobs, scamming and hitching rides, and generally scraping along the fringes of society.

When she is picked up by a trucker named Louis, she shakes his hand and discovers to her horror that he will die a horrible death in thirty days while calling her name. The thing is – she’s tried to affect outcome of her visions in the past, and those interventions have led directly to the outcome she foresaw.

Careening between trying to avoid Louis and trying to help him, shadowy, evil figures act against her until fate, hope, love, greed, and evil come together in the final scene.

Wendig’s writing is crisp without being wordy, moving the story along quickly. The story flashes from the past, where the narrative takes place, to an interview Miriam Black is giving about her gift in the present. Miriam describes the events as a way to explain both her gift and its implications.

Miriam, as a character, has an excellent back story that reveals itself over time in intense scenes scattered throughout her young life. The other characters are well-drawn, and some are frightening in their amorality and approach to conflict. This is a gritty read and sometimes very violent. Wendig’s plotting and dialogue are tight, and you read from scene to scene with an impending sense of doom for all involved.

So, now I’ve read a book by Chuck Wendig, and I think you should too. Blackbirds is a great read from beginning to end, and the author makes you are about the characters, despite their flaws and baggage. As always with a series, if you like the character, you have more to read and watch the character evolve.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Blackbirds.

Find this title at your local library via WorldCat.


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April Book Group Selections

alias-grace-atwood-blogEvening Book Club

Wednesday
April 12, 2017
6:30pm

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Description from the publisher: It’s 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders. Captivating and disturbing, Alias Grace showcases bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood at the peak of her powers.

night-circus-morgenstern-blogAfternoon Book Discussion

Thursday
April 20, 2017
2:00pm

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Description from the publisher: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. Behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.

See a list of upcoming selections on our website.


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March is Reading Month

march-reading-month-2017-blog-bannerMarch is Reading Month, and we thought we’d give our readers a Reading Challenge using our blog as a resource. Since it’s only one month, let’s limit the challenge to five titles.

Choose one book from each of these 5 categories to read and review over the next month. Then be sure to tell us what you thought about the book in the comments.

1. Read a book that begins a series with our list of titles that are First in a Series: https://bsplibrary.wordpress.com/category/first-in-a-series/

2. Read a book about when gods or mythological creatures come out to play. https://bsplibrary.wordpress.com/category/mythology/

3. How about a title where the snark is strong?
https://bsplibrary.wordpress.com/category/satire/

4. These titles will bend your sense of reality:
https://bsplibrary.wordpress.com/category/surrealism/
and https://bsplibrary.wordpress.com/category/magical-realism/

5. And last but not least, a book that will make you hungry – or the opposite! https://bsplibrary.wordpress.com/category/food-and-drink/

Happy reading!


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Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor

binti-okoraforWe here at the Barbara S. Ponce Library are big fans of the works of Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor, especially her novel Who Fears Death, which, in 2011, made her the first black person to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Okorafor has proved herself to be a major player in the science fiction world, and no self-respecting scifi fan should miss the chance to pick up her work.

Binti is a novella set in a universe where starships are living technology and multiple races interact on a galactic scale. When the titular Himba woman is offered a scholarship at the most prestigious intergalactic university, family strife about her selection and her decision to accept it cause her to abandon her family without warning. She finds herself on a living starship with many people from many cultures, and is intimidated by their strangeness until she finds commonality with fellow students in her field.

She has barely started feeling at home when a terrifying event changes the course of her life, and she is thrust into a war of intolerance and revenge. Her academic gifts and understanding of the experience of strangeness, linked with her compassion, make her a key player in creating a new future.

Okorafor uses her deep knowledge of African culture and religion to flesh out the interactions between individuals. Her descriptions of the Himba people and their practices reflected through her protagonist are used to show the many differences, and eventually, the many commonalities all peoples share. Binti’s thoughts are laid bare for the reader, and we struggle as she struggles, and fear when she fears. Her talent is a key part of the story, and she steps into her new life while respecting her past.

Binti has won both the Hugo and the Nebula Award for short fiction. While Binti is a short novella, there are two more to be published in the series.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Binti.