Monday, July 21, 2014

[Awards] 2014 Thriller Awards

The 2014 Thriller Award winners were announced by the International Thriller Writers at Thriller Fest on July 12, 2014.  

Click to view all finalists and winners

2014 Thriller Award Winners available at the library:

The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper 
*Also available as Books in a Bag kit for book clubs

The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews(Scribner)

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

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Friday, July 11, 2014

[News and Notes] July 11, 2014

Children's and young adult fiction writer, Walter Dean Myers, passed away July 1, 2014. He was 76 years old. He was the author of over 100 novels, many featuring "young African-Americans who battled troubles in the streets, in school and at home (NYTimes)." Some of his award-winning works include Monster, Slam!, and Bad Boy: A Memoir

Visit for a touching tribute.
Browse Walter Dean Myers   in the library catalog. 

Other items of interest from the web:

World Book Night U.S. is ending because of a funding shortage. This was reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The Sherlock Holmes book sculpture below, designed by Valerie Osment, is one of many book bench sculptures scattered around the city of London for a special exhibit called “Books about Town

Image from

Find out what title represents your home state with The Most Famous Book Set in Each State map from Business Insider.

According to our 26th president, “A book must be interesting to the particular reader at that particular time.” Read more of Teddy Roosevelt’s 10 Rules for Reading

Ever wonder what it takes to sort and deliver library materials to different branches? Look at behind the scenes footage, filmed with a camera drone, titled “Flying Around Book Ops” from the Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries.

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[Book Review] The Old Forest and Other Stories by Peter Taylor

Fiction/Short Stories

Raka reviews THE OLD FOREST AND OTHER STORIES by Peter Taylor (Picador,1996 c1985)

Peter Taylor’s place in the pantheon of southern writers has always confused me.  Although he is praised as a master stylist and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel A Summons to Memphis (which, I must note, a friend urged me to read when I moved to Memphis  twelve years ago), he doesn’t consistently make the list of southern greats like William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, or Flannery O’Connor.  Recently, I checked out Taylor’s short story compilation, The Old Forest and Other Stories, and was once again perplexed by his second tier status.  Maybe,  now that I am a Memphian, I am biased because he sets several of his stories in our city, but I think my appreciation for Taylor truly comes from the fact that when I reach the end of many of his works I want to know even more about his characters.

Case in point is Taylor’s  “The Old Forest,” the longest story in the collection.  The narrator, Nat, comes from an affluent white southern family in Memphis and is on the eve of marrying his high society fiancé, Caroline.  Like many young, privileged men of his class, Nat dates other women on the side; women like Lee Ann, who do not mix with his social class.  When Nat and Lee Ann are in a car accident at the edge of the old forest (what is today part of Overton Park), Lee Ann gets out of the car and walks into the forest.  Lee Ann’s disappearance and the danger that it connotes threatens Nat’s engagement and future happiness.  “The Old Forest” gives readers a glimpse into the inner working of social classes and the rules that governed life for whites in the South, but also the types of relationships to which many readers can relate.  Like the story “The Gift of the Prodigal,” in which a middle- aged father grapples with his conflicted feelings towards his wayward son, Taylor’s stories are very particular to time and place, but his themes are often universal.

Taylor is also very willing to grapple with the layered meaning of race in the South, and several of his best stories focus on the interaction of whites and African Americans.  In “A Friend and a Protector,” the white narrator describes the peculiar relationship that his uncle and aunt have with a black man who works for the family and always seems to get into scrapes with the law.  The complicated relationships between African Americans who work as domestic help in white southern families is revisited in other stories such as “Two Ladies in Retirement,” where an aunt competes with the black nanny/cook for the affection of her nephews.  

Although this collection provides vivid portrayals of the lives of rich white southerners, Taylor eschews pat answers to questions of race, class and power relations. Often his stories end without easy conclusions or a dramatic flourish (which can be frustrating) but this approach allows the reader to focus on what has transpired and, possibly, to formulate a future for the characters beyond the text.  Perhaps what Taylor does best is to describe the complex and messy nature of human relations.  As much as I enjoyed A Summons to Memphis, this collection, with its greater diversity of plots and characters, was even more compelling.  

Raka, Central Library

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

[Book Review] That Night by Chevy Stevens


Andrea reviews THAT NIGHT by Chevy Stevens (St. Martin’s Press, 2014)
When the latest thriller by Chevy Stevens begins, Toni Murphy is being released from her 15-year jail sentence after being convicted of murdering her younger sister Nicole. Because of Toni’s relationship with high school thug, Ryan, and her increasing behavioral issues, underage drinking, and problems with other students and the law, Toni would be the obvious suspect of the cold blooded murder. Right?

Using her usual nail-biting, edgy style, Ms. Stevens has written another brilliant novel of suspense. Told from Toni’s point of view, Stevens flip flops between the present day and flashbacks of Toni’s ordeals in prison. Being in prison has obviously made Toni Murphy a jaded and calloused person, but readers will feel compassion for her as she readjusts to life on the outside while still grieving her sister.

I devoured this book because of the fast-paced action and adventure. Just remember appearances are definitely deceiving in this story. Enjoy!

Andrea, Poplar-White Station Library

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Wednesday, July 02, 2014



All locations of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center will be closed Friday July 4, 2014 in observance of Independence Day.

Visit to reserve and renew library materials. 


Monday, June 30, 2014

[Book Review] TEN GREEN BOTTLES by Vivian Jeanette Kaplan


Marilyn reviews Ten Green Bottles: The True Story of One Family’s Journey From War-Torn Austria to the Ghettos of Shanghai by Vivian Jeanette Kaplan (Martin’s Press, 2004) 

The Jews of Austria were loyal Austrian citizens. Their freedoms, loyalty, and culture were gradually destroyed when the Nazi Party increased its political presence and power in Austria. The final destruction came when Hitler annexed Austria in 1938. The Karpel family is trapped like many other Jewish families with no place to go; the world has closed their borders to Jewish immigrants. In Ten Green Bottles, Vivian Jeanette Kaplan recounts her family’s struggle for survival in the midst of the horror.

The Karpel family endures hardships in Austria until 1939, when they escape to Shanghai. Between 1937 and 1939, numbers of Jews escape from Austria to Shanghai.  The family arrived on one of the last ships carrying Jewish refugees to Shanghai--a new world.  Shanghai presents a mixture of many cultures – American, British, and Jewish – which had adapted to their cultures to Chinese culture.

Safety did not remain with the family for long because World War II breaks out and the Japanese invade Shanghai. The struggle to survive begins again amidst the starvation, American bombings, and the terrifying sounds of Chinese being tortured by the Japanese. In the midst of all this horror the Jews are made prisoners in a Shanghai ghetto.

Ten Green Bottles is told in the voice of Nini, the author’s mother. Through her eyes you can see the journey into horror and despair as the Jews are made non-citizens by the Nazis in Austria only to face more struggles in Shanghai. I would encourage anyone to read this book of courage.

Marilyn, Central Librar

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Monday, June 16, 2014

[News and Notes] June 16, 2014

Here are a few recent award winners available at the library. Click the titles to find copies in the catalog.

Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy category for the Nebula Awards.

Click here for the full list of 2014 Nebula Award nominees and winners.

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez won the International Impac Dublin Literary Award. The winner is nominated and chosen by public libraries from across the globe. Vasquez is the first Colombian to win the award.

The Sound of Things Falling was previously reviewed in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. 

Actor Billy Crystal won the Audies Audiobook of the Year for his work, Still Foolin’ Em.

You can enter these titles as well as others to win prizes online or at any branch during our Explore Memphis program. Explore Memphis ends July 25, 2014.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

[Book Review] If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Fiction/Young Adult

Andrea reviews IF YOU FIND ME by Emily Murdoch (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013)
This is a touching, painful story of sisters Carey and Jenessa who have only had each other to survive. When their crystal meth-addicted mother abandons the girls in a broken-down camper deep in the Tennessee forests, it is up to 15-year-old Carey to feed, clothe, and take care of young Jenessa. Carey constantly reminds herself as long as they have each other, the two of them are home.

Mama has been gone on the longest binge ever and it doesn't seem like she is coming back to the girls. The girls are surviving on only two pairs of clothes and eating canned beans each meal. After their mother has been gone over two months, a social worker and a man claiming to be their father come to their rescue. Just as Carey is suspicious of the strangers’ motives, she wants the best for her baby sister who loves Mrs. Haskill and Charles wholeheartedly and immediately.

As Charles arranges to have sole custody of his girls and blend them in with his new family, anger and tension ensue. Soon, taking care of Jenessa becomes the primary focus for each family member (even for the lovable blue-tick hound, Shorty) so trust replaces suspicion and secrets are shared with each other.

This young adult novel is an emotional roller coaster. Readers will not soon forget Carey and Jenessa’s plight.

Andrea, Poplar-White Station Library

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