Visit Our New Blog!

morebookspleaseblogWaterloo Public Library has a new website AND has a new blog.  Drum roll…

More Books Please! 

On our More Books Please! blog we’ll continue to share book and movie reviews by staff, featured titles lists, book news and more.  There may even be a recipe or two. Same great content, just a different space.

Bookmark More Books Please! as your future stop when you’re looking for that next great read.

(Note: the WPL Reads blog will be no longer be active after August 31, 2016)

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What We’re Reading: Harry Potter and the cursed child (no spoilers!)

Book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition Script): The… by J K RowlingI enjoyed reading the new Harry Potter book but.. I almost didn’t read it.  I was perfectly content with the way that J.K. Rowling ended her final book in the series with the words “all was well.”  That sounded great to me, just knowing that all was well.  Everyone; Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Neville, Luna and the friends we had welcomed into our lives like extended family were ‘well’.  We could all feel comforted that good had triumphed over evil and that they had a future that would see them back at Platform 9 & 3/4.  We knew that all of the loose ends were tied up, so I was thinking that I might just leave it there and ignore the 4.5 million books being published with the continuation of a story that meant so much to the world.  I felt perfectly content with “all was well.”

I didn’t ignore it.  I knew I couldn’t play the ostrich and avoid it.  The book needed to be read.  So, I decided to enjoy it and set aside the whole afternoon to go back into that magical world.  I’m so pleased that I did.  It was a wonderful trip back, absolutely delightful.  It was like a high school reunion where you catch up and see what has changed in everyone’s lives.  At this reunion the people in the photographs can talk and move about, there are people who can fly, most people carry wands, and everyone feels it is commonplace to travel through a telephone booth or fireplace.  Other than that it felt just as cozy as a regular reunion because the people in this book are so well-known.  They feel like family, family who have grown up and we have a chance to spend a few hours with them again.  There are no introductions required at this reunion, no name tags needed, because from the first pages you fall right back into a familiar rhythm and it feels like you’ve never left.

It was actually reassuring to see Harry, Ron and Hermione as adults.  They are busy parents, working at challenging careers, and when the story begins they are sending some of their children off to Hogwarts.  Right away you can see that things are different but still the same.  I don’t want to spoil anything for any readers yet to get to the book but I did find that the book had wonderful surprises and an emotional punch – I cried twice.  It is a theatre script and not a book so the lush descriptions of the previous books is missing but the adventure is still there at the core with the long friendship between the three friends and a touch of danger.  I have the feeling that Rowling must have given them the nugget that the play is built around because it is so clever and stays true to her original themes – there is no way that Harry Potter fans could be disappointed and that is what really matters.

Looking at the news over the past day or two there are so many gorgeous photographs and news stories of bookstores that held parties to celebrate the release of the book and they were filled with celebration.  There were parties all over the world to celebrate this book.  Many of the people at the events, from babies to adults, were dressed as their favourite characters in the books, participating in games and contests, playing Quidditch, enjoying food and drink inspired by the books – it’s incredible to see.  You should treat yourself to a search for those photographs if you haven’t seen them, just to see babies dressed as house elves, it’s really the sweetest thing.  The Barnes & Noble in Union Square actually had live owls at their celebration!   You can see babies dressed as house elves and live owls on one night.  That is magical.

Rowling has recently said that she won’t be writing any more Harry Potter material and I think that is perfectly fine.  The seven books she did write are wonderful, fantastic, a whole world for us to inhabit as we turn the pages.  Those seven books are here on the shelves at the Waterloo Public Library any time people want to read them.  Well, often they aren’t on the shelves and you will need to place a hold and wait for your turn with one of the books, as they have never ceased to be popular.  There is always a new generation of kids who want to read them, families reading them aloud together, there are always fans who want to go back to read them again.  At one of our branches we have a customer who confided that she re-reads the entire series every summer.  I enjoy reading the section where Harry and Ron spend their first Christmas together to get myself in the mood for holiday shopping and I know that if I need a good cry I can always rely on that time when Dobby, well, you know what I’m talking about.  J. K. Rowling gave us the first book about Harry way back in 1997 and now we have this extra treat to enjoy with Harry Potter and the cursed child.  It’s written by J. K. Rowling with the director and writer of the play which is currently playing at the Palace Theatre in London.  There are true moments of suspense and laughter and it’s a delight to get to see Harry, Ron and Hermione one last time.  Although the pages of the script end with dialogue between the next generation of witches and wizards who are attending Hogwarts we definitely have the feeling that “all is well”.

– – Penny M.

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What We’re Reading: Cainsville Series by Kelley Armstrong

omensI’ve always been a vampire/supernatural lit fan and my comfort zone has always resided with the king and queen of the genre: Bram Stoker and Anne Rice. For this fan, few contemporary writers rise to their level of writing. On a suggestion from a friend, I took a chance on Kelley Armstrong. I admit I was hesitant and quite skeptic at first but I gave it a go nonetheless and have not regretted the choice thus far! In the Women of the Otherworld series, Armstrong produces several strong female protagonists that although have men in their love/family lives, they do not “need” the men to save them. These female characters are a breath of fresh air amidst the slew of female “heroines” who disappointingly need men to save the day and to save them (e.g., Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, etc.)

Once I completed that series I moved onto the Cainsville series beginning with the book Omens.    In the series  a character named Olivia has just found out she is adopted and that her birth parents are convicted serial killers Pamela and Todd Larsen. In trying to cope, Olivia flees to the small, sleepy town of Cainsville where time seems to have stopped. Everything seems so perfect, almost Rockwellian or is it? From mysterious gargoyles, murder mystery, mind control to hidden identities it is soon learned that everyone in Cainsville has a secret, even the town itself! In the first novel Omens, Olivia is trying to cope with her new lineage. Strange things are starting to happen to her, she is starting to see things, strange animals are showing up and only she can see them. Is she going crazy like her birth parents or is it supernatural? Did her parents really murder all of those people? She is not so sure anymore as she begins to remember her past and with bodies showing up seemingly everywhere she goes, Olivia is determined to get to the bottom of present and past murders. People she meets are not as they seem and she cannot trust anyone except for Gabriel. Or can she?

Exploring the historical sides of Welsh and Celtic cultures, traditions and folklore, Armstrong has penned yet another series I am unable to put down. She intricately weaves mythology and history into the plot line and character development, spinning historical fiction and supernatural fiction to create a thrilling read. It is Dan Brown meets Anne Rice and it’s perfect for this vamp fan!

– – Sabrina B.

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What We’re Listening To: Hamilton: An American Musical soundtrack

What we’re listening to in our house right now is actually what we are listening to in our house and in our cars because we listen to the same thing all the time right now – the soundtrack of the Broadway musical Hamilton: original broadway cast recording.  I did this a lot when when I was a kid and would visit the music collection in the Main library in Hamilton to bring home my favourites to play over and over but I never imagined it would happen to my own family.  I know that my father was a little tired of hearing me sing “I like to be in America” (West Side Story), and disagreed when I sang “It’s the hard knock life” (Annie) because it clearly wasn’t, and probably wanted me to find out how I could “solve a problem like Maria” (The Sound of Music) sooner, rather than later.  As for our family getting tired of singing about the scrappy American founding father, Alexander Hamilton, I don’t think I need to rush things.  There are soulful ballads, jazz, R&B, a smattering of old fashioned Tin Pan Alley stuff, gorgeous show tunes with the full cast singing with all their heart (like when you sing along in your car at a stoplight and the person next to you tries not to look), and some truly amazing hip-hop.  It doesn’t matter which track we play – they are all ‘good ones’.

 

I really do think that ball of sunshine, Lin Manuel-Miranda, is outstanding.  His voice on the soundtrack, which is all we have to go by right now until he is back onstage performing the title role and we are lucky enough to secure tickets, is just superb.  From the lightning quick cabinet room rap battles to the poignant lullaby he sings to his newborn son I just don’t feel like it is possible to tire of his voice.  He plays the part of Alexander Hamilton to perfection from earnest aide de camp, attractive suitor to Elizabeth Schuyler, uncompromising lawyer and heartbroken father.  The first time we listened to the soundtrack from beginning to end I found myself weeping in our kitchen.  Twice.  I won’t say what caused my outburst because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but even if you know the details of Alexander Hamilton’s death (this isn’t a spoiler as his birth and death dates are well known – 1755-1804) you will be moved by Lin Manuel-Miranda’s voice in the final moments of the musical.

 

Manuel-Miranda’s writing voice is just as wonderful as his singing voice.  We are always talking about the way he is able to make us laugh and think as we enjoy the songs.  I have said to our kids that if anyone at our house ever fails an exam which involves this period of American history there will be a severe punishment because by now they should have internalized it all.  He lays out the basics of the significant battles, dates and the big names like Washington, Yorktown, King George III, Lafayette, Jefferson and hits the high notes with the writing of the American constitution but it is so clever that every few moments you can’t help but be amazed by the genius of the writing.  It’s like he is channeling the lyrical brilliance of Sondheim, Gilbert & Sullivan, Rodgers & Hammerstein with musical influences coming from every genre.  It’s magical.  It makes you snap your fingers and want to dance along, try to rap as fast as they do (only when my kids aren’t looking).

 

Alexander Hamilton lived for less than 50 years but his impact on their country was incredible – to say he was an American founding father really isn’t enough – and it was a chance encounter with a book* (!) that Lin Manuel-Miranda read on vacation that led him to start thinking about setting this extraordinary story to music.  I’m so glad that he did.  I can wash my dishes so much more enthusiastically when I am listening to something like “Guns and Ships” where Aaron Burr says:

 

How does a ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower

Somehow defeat a global superpower?

How do we emerge victorious from the quagmire?

Leave the battlefield waving Betsy Ross’ flag higher?

Yo. Turns out we have a secret weapon!

An immigrant you know and love who’s unafraid to step in!

He’s constantly confusin’, confoundin’ the British henchmen

Ev’ryone give it up for America’s favourite fighting Frenchman!

 

And the entire company sings back with an enthusiastic:

 

Lafayette!

 

It’s a sensational use of language and each member of the cast does it perfectly.  Their enunciation knocks my socks off every time and, when I was a kid I would lift the needle off of the record carefully and place it back to re-listen to try and figure out the lyrics but today you can go online and see endless analysis of each word, find the actors and superfans on Twitter and Instagram to see minute-by-minute reviews as the cast prepares for performances.  It’s a rabbit hole that I find myself enjoying because they seem as enthusiastic about the beauty of the music as the long list of people who have seen their show or are waiting for tickets.  In the meantime we have the next best thing right here on the shelves here at WPL.  Well, not exactly on the shelf because, well, it will probably be checked out.  We’re talking about the music of Hamilton: An American Musical here, you know.  It’s a Broadway sensation and you get to keep it for 3 weeks once you sign it out and customers do not bring it back early.  They can’t.  They are so busy listening to it in their cars and in their kitchens.   They are listening to it non-stop.

 

* the book that Lin Manuel-Miranda read and was so captivated by was Ron Chernow’s extremely well-reviewed Alexander Hamilton, from 2004which we also have available here at the Waterloo Public Library.

– – Penny M.

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What We’re Reading: Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle

  Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle

 Wow! A very powerful read indeed!

If you are not familiar with Canada’s legacy of residential schools, the 60’s scoop, the Indian Act or policies of enfranchisement I would highly recommend you read a little on these topics first to fully appreciate this story by Lee Maracle.

 It is a fictional tale on the surface that in actuality reveals the reality of millions of Indigenous families in Canada, their experiences of intergenerational trauma and the scars of colonialism.

 Maracle incorporates traditional West Coast storytelling methods, the influence of ancestral teachings and all of our relations (e.g., the four legged, two legged, flyers, simmers, crawlers). This story also explores the concept and importance of coming back to ceremony in Indigenous communities in relation to healing from trauma. I will be adding this book to my personal collection for sure!

- – Sabrina B.

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Summer 2016 Staff Picks

Summer 2016 Staff Picks_1 Summer 2016 Staff Picks_2

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What We’re Reading: Ethel & Ernest

Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs and A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

I’m sooooo excited about a couple of British movies coming out later this year. So in the meantime, I’m having a look at the books that inspired them. Both are true stories and available at WPL.

 Ethel & Ernest, an adult graphic novel, is a real charmer. Children’s author/illustrator Raymond Briggs takes an affectionate look at his parents’ lives. Ethel and Ernest are two ordinary working class Londoners—he’s a milkman, she’s a maid– who meet in 1928 and stay together until their deaths in 1971. Briggs tells their story against the backdrop of history and social change. So they buy a house (with an inside bathroom!), get a telephone installed (but what to do if it rings?), and in a much more serious vein, endure the hardships and uncertainties of World War II.

Ethel & Ernest is by turns sweet, sad and funny and is just lovely. Jim Broadbent stars in the movie (I’m guessing as Ernest, not Ethel).

Now here’s the one I’m really looking forward to, A Street Cat Named Bob. It tells of James, a former heroin addict, surviving, sort of, by playing guitar on the streets of London. Then he encounters Bob, an injured stray cat. This is the story of their adventures together and of how James turns his life around. You might also want to check out the sequel to the book, The World According to Bob.

 

The movie version stars Luke Treadaway. (BTW, he also has a role in Ethel & Ernest.) As for Bob, it was originally planned that he would be played by five specially trained cats from Canada. Turns out they weren’t quite up to snuff, so Bob is mostly played by the real Bob. Here is a link to the movie trailer (just see if it doesn’t melt your heart).

– – Penny D.

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Where are the girls and boys?

   The National Post ran a story today about the use of the term “girl” in book titles. The use of “girl” in book titles has been a pet peeve of mine because  “girl” isn’t referring to a female under the age of 18 years but rather adult females. So “girl” is increasingly used in book titles to mean Adult Females.  I find this irksome as men are not typically referred to as boys.

The article is maddening. Its author claims that “girl” is a term used because it doesn’t carry the baggage of “woman” or “lady”.  Until I read those words it had never occurred to me that they carried baggage. Ridiculous. Sigh. The use of “girl” in book titles is a real thing now. I’m sure you can think of any number of book titles with “girl” in the title. This got me thinking about substituting “boy” for “man” in book titles.  It changes things. Suddenly the authority or gravitas of the book changes.

The Boy in the Iron Mask

The Bishop’s Boy

The old boy and the sea

Michael Moore is a big fat stupid white boy

Boy up!

Boy Descending

 

Can you think of any books with “boy” in the title when referring to a man?

 

Article from National Post

http://news.nationalpost.com/arts/books/girls-girls-girls-why-so-many-new-and-upcoming-book-titles-use-the-word-girl

– – Christine B.

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Summer 2016 Featured Titles

Summer 2016-2

Summer 2016 Featured Titles

Click here to view the summer 2016 Featured Titles list in a larger format (PDF).

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What We’re Reading: Dark Money by Jane Mayer

We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.

– –  Louis Brandeis (former U.S. Supreme Court justice)

 

The above quote serves as a preface to Dark Money. They are powerful words and carry a lot of truth, I think.

This book looks at a group of ultra rich in the U.S. who have banded together, backed by vast sums of money, to shift public opinion and the political system to the extreme right. Their ideology is a highly individualistic, anti-government, libertarian one, which, not coincidentally, just happens to benefit them (ie. the wealthy and powerful).

They favour, for example, a lowering of taxes (but with plenty of loopholes for the rich, how fair is that?), a slashing of social security and the axing of many government regulations. And, since there is plenty of oil money involved, this group denies even the existence of climate change, and is—you guessed it—vehemently opposed to doing anything about it.

The book centres on the Koch brothers, Charles and David, who are worth $41.6 billion each. The mind just boggles at that figure. How can any one individual have that kind of money? And think of the “influence” the Koch brothers can buy. Personally I believe no individual should be allowed so much money—and the power that goes along with it. It is simply contrary to society’s best interests.

 Dark Money is a meticulously researched, thoroughly documented book. It is certainly dense and heavy going, and I have to admit I only read parts of it. But it raises some tough questions about what democracy really means, something we all might want to think about.

– – Penny D.

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