Monday, June 27, 2016

Patron Picks! Summer Reading 2016 - Week 3

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Thanks to Ailyn G. for this week's review! Don't forget - you can submit your own review here for a chance to win a gift card. Every week there's a different winner!

Reviewed by: Ailyn G.
What I Read: Identical by Ellen Hopkins
Find It @ YCLD: Here!
What I Thought: This book details the lives of two twins that are victims of child abuse. It appears a bit sadistic at first, but it actually serves as a great eye-opener to the struggles of child abuse and mental illness. The second time I read this narrative, it was easier to see the brutality of this mental illness and how it forms part of someone's life without anyone noticing the damage it causes if left untreated.

There's still plenty of time to sign up for the Adult Summer Reading Program - reading three books, attending three library programs, or any combination of both earns you a chance to win a Kindle Fire. Plus take our "Reading Championship Challenge" for another shot at the prize. We'd love to see all of Yuma "exercising their minds" this summer by reading!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Patron Picks! Summer Reading 2016 - Weeks 1 & 2

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Summer Reading is well underway in Yuma!  Don't forget - you can submit your own reviews for a chance to win a gift card. There's a different winner every week! Just fill in the form here or ask for a book review log at any Information Desk.

Here's our first book review of the summer:

Reviewed by: Wendy P.
What I Read: Lord Sunday by Garth Nix
Find it at YCLD: Here!
What I Thought: This was the final book in the keys to the kingdom series. I was taken in by the authors fantasy of how creation was brought about and the workers behind the scenes however the end result of a creator bent on suicide for lack of a better term left me with a feeling of being let down not only because of how it ended but saddened to know Whether while trying to help all was tricked into immortality.

Thanks, Wendy! Keep checking the Yuma Staff Picks blog all summer for more patron reviews.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Portrait of a Teacher by Ruth Leedy Gordon

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Jim Patrick

What I Read: Portrait of a Teacher: Mary Elizabeth Post 1841-1934 by Ruth Leedy Gordon

Find It @YCLD: Here!

Note: On June 17 at 11:00 a.m., the Main Library will host a celebration of Mary Elizabeth Post’s 175th birthday.  Local historian Carol Brooks will be the presenter.

What It's About:  Mary Elizabeth Post was a significant pioneer in Yuma’s history due to her forty-plus year teaching career and her lifelong community involvement in civic and church affairs.  When she died at the age of 93, she was still a member of the library board of trustees!

Author Ruth Gordon was a registered nurse who moved to Yuma in 1921.  She befriended Mary Elizabeth Post during the retired teacher’s final years.  Over the course of these 13 years, Gordon compiled notes from her countless conversations with Miss Post in preparation for writing a biography.  In 1938 the author presented her completed manuscript to the University of Arizona library.  However, the book was not published until 1990 when Ruth Gordon’s daughter Janet edited and published the version which is now held by the Yuma County Library District.

Portrait of a Teacher tracks Mary Elizabeth Post’s westward relocation from Vermont—first to Iowa for a few years, and then on to Arizona.  The account of Miss Post’s grueling trip by stage from San Diego to Ehrenberg is particularly colorful, as are the stories of the young Eastern teacher’s adjustments to her overwhelming culture shock.  For example, unlike most Yuma women at that time, Miss Post was a follower of the latest fashions and was particularly fond of fine hats.  She was a talented seamstress, and she eventually taught many local women to sew from patterns.

The book is not only a biography of Mary Elizabeth Post, but also an informal history of Yuma’s early growth—as remembered by an elderly, longtime resident.  Some of the topics addressed include the coming of the railroad, the building of roads and bridges, floods, newspaper rivalries, lively election campaigns, and, of course, the growth of Yuma’s schools.  Ruth Gordon recounts such events within the context of Mary Elizabeth Post’s life.  The author’s affection and admiration for her subject come through clearly, even when she pokes gentle fun at Miss Post’s “precise and sometimes obstinate manner.”

What I Thought:  Although Ruth Gordon was not a polished, professional author, she produced a biography of her friend Mary Elizabeth Post that is pleasantly readable and full of charming anecdotes about Miss Post and early Yuma.  Some of Gordon’s depictions of ethnic groups are not politically correct by today’s standards, but with that caveat, I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about Yuma’s early history.

Readalikes:  Early Yuma by Rosalie Crowe; Vanished Arizona by Martha Summerhayes

Or look this book up on NoveList!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Blameless by Gail Carriger

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Becky Brendel

What I Read: Blameless by Gail Carriger

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: Lady Alexia Maccon is a "preternatural", a woman born without a soul who can turn supernatural creatures mortal just by touching them. This is the third book of her adventures in a tongue-in-cheek, alternate version of the Victorian era, centering primarily upon an announcement of her pregnancy in the London gossip columns. Such rumormongering would be embarrassing enough on its own - Alexia shouldn't be capable of having a child with her husband, a werewolf, who refuses to believe the child is his - but the vampires of London fear what powers the baby might possess and are, as a result, out to kill her. Alexia may even have to flee as far as Italy, where she hears they drink (horror upon horrors!) coffee instead of tea.

What I Thought: In case the summary doesn't make it clear enough, this is not a book - or a universe - that takes itself seriously. Characters stand on propriety even when engaged in the most outlandishly swashbuckling feats, a carriage is attacked by a swarm of homicidal mechanical ladybugs, and a running gag develops where Alexia discovers a fondness for pesto (which is useful for repelling both vampires and werewolves - the garlic for the vampires, the basil for the werewolves). The humor is also, however, the primary reason to read the book: the dissonance between being placed in mortal peril and wishing one's opponents would politely state their murderous intentions, for example, makes action scenes laugh-out-loud funny instead of just thrilling, and everyone's fixation on tea is a fun parody of what's come to be seen as Victorian mores and manners. The characters also endear themselves immediately if you're in the mood for whimsy - Alexia is a thickset woman who wields a modified parasol as her weapon of choice, for example. There's a lot to like here if you're looking for beach reading.

Unfortunately, though everyone is amusing and charismatic, they're also (by and large) stereotypes. The foppish gay vampire may be hiding a brilliant mind behind that ridiculous facade, and may care deeply for each of the young men he's cultivated as "drones", but he's still both flamboyant and polygamous; the German scientist who studies preternaturals like Alexia may own a ridiculous, yappy, tiny dog, but he's still ultimately a mad scientist who treats his subjects as specimens and not as people. Carriger does a good enough job of making everybody likable (even the villains, usually through the use of more well-timed humor) for this not to grate as much as it might in other books, but it's present. A few notable characters buck conventions, however: Lord Maccon may be the brawny, proud Alpha of his werewolf pack, but his Beta is a compassionate, diplomatic "professor" who breeds sheep in his spare time. Overall, I'd recommend this book to fans of historical and comedic fantasy - especially those who prefer their supernatural creatures banding witty quips about instead of brooding.

Readalikes: The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, for more humorous fantasy; the Immortal Empire series by Kate Locke, for more funny (if more gruesome) supernatural antics in Victorian England.

Or look this book up on NoveList!