Posted on August 14th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: horse racing, horses, non-fiction, review, Secretariat, William Nack
Secretariat by William Nack
Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room
This is the true story of a race horse named Secretariat who won the Triple Crown (a series of three races at three different tracks run consecutively) in 1973. This is the story of how he came to be, charting his history back to the late 1800′s, as well as the history of his owners and their farms. How he won each race he ran, is explained, the excitement of the track, of those who owned him and his millions of fans is spelled out as if you, the reader, were right there, standing next to the colt as he nuzzles your neck. Yup, now you’ve got horse snot on you. This book feels that real. William Nack writes it as if you were there, as if you were Ron Turcotte, his jockey, racing him down the backstretch at some of the world’s most well known and well loved race tracks, having mud slung in your face as your heart beats insanely, wondering how the race will play out. Secretariat was a special horse. He ran races like nobody else, coming up from behind to steal first place and beat the other horses by several lengths. He amazed the world.
Yes, this is a non-fiction book, but if you love horses and horse racing, you’ll love the way this book is written. It reads as you would read a fiction book. And it’s definitely not a book you can put down. When I got to the end I had some time to think about it and wonder what I would do now that the book was over. I felt as if I was leaving good, life-long friends behind, including the Big Red horse. I highly recommend this book. I can’t say that enough. And even though it’s a somewhat thick non-fiction book, Nack takes the time to explain what some of the racing lingo means, so those new to it won’t feel completely at a loss or like they’re requiring a dictionary while they read. He does it in the best way possible, so you never feel like he’s talking down to you either. What an exhilarating ride!
Posted on August 5th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: Foundation, Isaac Asimov, review, The Foundation Trilogy
The Foundation Trilogy: Foundation (Book 1) by: Isaac Asimov
Read by: Anna/ Central Library Teen Room
This is an epic story. It has been called The Lord Of The Rings for Science Fiction. The first book starts off with a man predicting the demise of a galactic empire that has already survived for twelve thousand years! He predicts its downfall in three hundred years, yet, no one wants to believe him. Nor do they want to care. Why should they? They certainly won’t be around in three hundred years to care. Leave it to the future people to bother with the bad stuff. But this scientist will not back down. And as he predicts, things start to fall apart. Each section of the book jumps forward in time several decades, with new characters each time trying to solve the galaxy’s problems by creating war or by trying to avoid war.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started the first book in the trilogy. I’d been told that readers of science fiction (and writers as well) should not miss this epic, so I bought a copy and then it sat on my coffee table for a few years before I got around to starting it. But now that I’ve started it, and finished the first book, I’m actually looking forward to reading the second book, Foundation and Empire. It is a very political book and also deals with a lot of mathematics and science, three topics I usually prefer to avoid at all costs. That being said, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a quiet read. There isn’t much action, no space ships gunning for each other as some of the covers might have you believe. But there is just enough to keep you wondering what’s going to happen. It’s also interesting to read a book where you have some idea of what’s going to come because it’s already been predicted. One would say that doesn’t make for a good book. Readers like to be surprised, but it works here, and I was surprised. A lot. The way some of the characters handled the different situations they got themselves into was interesting and not at all what I was expecting.
In short, if you love Science Fiction, you should not miss out on this classic which was first published in 1951, over 60 years ago! Talk about a series that’s lasted! This trilogy (and the related books that followed the trilogy) are still very much popular today as they were back then. Of course, in reading these books, one must remember the time period in which they were written. There are almost no women or girls in the first book, Foundation. In the 1950′s this was a man’s world, and women stayed at home, cooked, cleaned, and looked after the children. They didn’t have jobs or anything like that. Thus, I’m assuming that Asimov assumed in the future they would be the same as in his world, staying at home and out of trouble. That was the biggest similarity to the 1950′s I could find. If you get a chance to read it, see what others you can find. They shouldn’t ruin your reading experience. They’re just a bit of an example of how people used to live and how things might be in the future, as seen by someone 60 years ago.
Posted on July 30th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: book, Enzo, Ferrari, Garth Stein, review, The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room
Our Teen Book of the Month group is reading this book for our August 14th book discussion at 3pm in the Central Library Teen Room.
Enzo is a mixed breed dog named after the founder of the Italian car company, Ferrari. He’s also owned by a professional race car driver, Denny. The story is told through the point of view of Enzo as he recounts his life with his human family on the night he realizes he won’t be making a round trip ride to the vet the next morning. His mobility issues are making it increasingly harder for him to move around as he gets older and older. Enzo learned a lot about life through Denny and his racing tips and tricks and he applied them to the obstacles in his way whenever he could. Their family life wasn’t the greatest. Denny’s wife died from brain cancer and Denny ended up in a legal battle with her parents over the custody of his daughter. Enzo knew the grandparents were not nice people and didn’t like the fact that Zoe, the daughter, had to spend so much time with them. Money is tight for Denny, he’s lost his wife, might lose his daughter to his in-laws, but he’ll never lose Enzo. Enzo is always there for him and for Zoe, when he can be, helping to keep their spirits up and to keep them going when things get tough.
This was an AWESOME book. But don’t read it in public. Unless you don’t mind bringing a large hanky and a bucket to collect your tears in. This book will have you bawling your eyes out and laughing hard in certain places. You will learn a lot about life, as Enzo did, and have a good time doing it. There are a lot of references to racing cars, but you don’t have to have a love of cars to read this and enjoy it, which is another reason it’s a great read. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves dogs especially.
Posted on July 24th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: Chely Wright, country music, gay, lesbian, LGBTQ, Like Me
Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer by: Chely Wright
Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room
Like Me is Chely Wright’s memoir/autoboigraphy. She explains how she grew up, how she got into singing country music, how she rose to the top of the charts with a number one song, and most of all, how she dealt with being a lesbian in an anti-LGBTQ atmosphere before gaining the courage to come out of the closet.
I admit to being a country music fan. I might not always remember who sings which song, but I do love the music. About two years ago I went to Book Expo America and had the opportunity to meet Chely Wright who was there signing her book. I was star-struck, of course. She wasn’t popular at the time, but I remember when she was and I knew she had good songs out there. Standing in line, I was amazed that she seemed very down to earth as I knew virtually nothing about her except her music. She’s naturally pretty (as her cover shows) and she doesn’t do anything to change that. Sure she’s got money, but she doesn’t fling it around and buy expensive things just because she can. She’s smart and hard working too, definitely things to admire in anyone you meet. I don’t think I said anything other than ‘thank you’ to her when she signed my copy, though I wish I could have unglued my mouth for more than that.
Reading her memoir, I truly understood how difficult it was for her to stay in hiding for nearly 30 years before she told a single person she was gay. She had relationships with men, hoping each time that things would change and she would fall in love and be straight. She prayed at least once a day for God to take away the gay that was inside her. And she had several relationships with other women that she kept hidden from the world. The pain was evident every time someone cracked a gay joke, or told her there were rumors she was a lesbian and that if it was true she was going to hell. She’s Christian through and through and she had the strength to hold onto her beliefs, even when her church continually spoke against her. She has to be admired for that strength. Even when she hit rock bottom, when she thought about committing suicide, she was able to use her faith and hold on just a little bit longer until she was strong enough to go back out into the world.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is struggling with coming to terms with being LGBTQ, coming out of the closet, or anyone who simply wants to know more about what it’s like struggling with these issues. She writes in a conversational tone that makes her words easy to understand and before you know it, you’ve reached the end, amazed at the long journey you’ve taken with her.
Posted on July 17th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
Tags: Brian Jacques, Erin Hunter, Redwall, The Sable Quean, Warriors
The Sable Quean by Brian Jacques
Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room
Another Redwall tale full of dashing and daring characters, this time ready to save the young dibbuns from an evil sable quean. These woodland creatures have heart and bravery even when faced with such evil as the sable and her horde of vermin looking to take over Redwall Abby. Adventure and action await the reader who picks up this book. And it’s not just the soldier hares who get in on the action. The dibbuns are every bit as brave as their parents, even when they’re missing their home, family, friends, and good food.
The Redwall series will always remain one of my favorite series. These books can be read in any order, though I urge new readers to check out Redwall and Mossflower first. Redwall is the first book and Mossflower (my all time favorite!) is the second book in the series and the prequel to Redwall. Read those two first, and you can then read any of the other books in any order you like. Also, if you like audio books, I highly recommend listening to this series in audio. Brian Jacques narrated his own books, often with a full cast of readers behind him as various characters. He had such an amazingly rich voice that was perfect for vocal storytelling. This series is geared toward a wide audience age range from late elementary school through middle school and into high school. A lot of older kids and adults have also read and enjoyed these books. I started reading them in 7th grade and read them through highschool and into college. After Brian Jacques’ death, I picked up the last four Redwall books I had yet to read and I’m now working my way through them. He was my favorite author growing up, and it didn’t seem right to miss out on these last few books. The Sable Quean is the second to last novel in the Redwall series and at some point before the year’s end I intend to read the final book, The Rogue Crew.
The Sable Quean was a fantastic read, which couldn’t be put down once I got into it. Of course, if you’ve read all the books, you know they do become rather predictable in what happens. Even so, some of the things that happen in this book were not predictable at all, which was a bit refreshing. It was a fun read and one I would recommend to anyone who likes the Redwall series or other similar books, such as the Warriors series by Erin Hunter.