Posts Tagged ‘Survival’

Best ‘New to Us” Books in 2014: Farida B’s Picks

December 24, 2014

I love a variety of books in adult and children’s collection. I love reading Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Humor, Romance and gentle clean reads. Here are “New to Me” books that inspired me most this year. I hope you can include some of these books in your 2015 reading list.

Death of a Travelling ManDeath of a Travelling Man by M. C. Beaton
This is Beaton‘s eighth mystery featuring Scottish police constable Hamish MacBeth. Hamish has been promoted against his will and as Sergeant, he makes more money, but must suffer more work as well, as well as the enthusiasm of his new helper, Police Constable Willie Lamont. Willie Lamont has less talent for police work and more talent for cleaning, polishing, and scrubbing. His insistence on keeping the police station spotless and super clean is driving MacBeth crazy. It all starts when a suspicious drifter Sean and his girlfriend Cheryl park their van behind the minister’s manse. This “devastatingly handsome” drifter Sean charms four women out of their money and harasses Hamish’s ladylove, Priscilla. If you like to read light mysteries filled with humor and action then this is definitely going to be your choice!  See my full review.

Murphy's LawMurphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen
Murphy’s Law is the first book in the Molly Murphy mystery series. Molly Murphy, the main character in this story, is a spunky, 19th-century Irish heroine. Molly always ends up in trouble no matter where she goes. She is outspoken, strong independent lady. She commits a murder in self-defense, so she has to leave her cherished Ireland and her identity for the unknown shores of America. In London she meets Kathleen O’Connor. Kathleen has two small children and tickets for a ship to America, where she plans to join her husband. But she has tuberculosis, so she knows that she will not be allowed on the ship to America, so she persuades the desperate Molly to take her children to America instead of herself and use her identity on the ship. Molly agrees to this plan since she wants to be in a new place and start a new life. After the landing at Ellis Island, O’Malley is found stabbed to death. Police detective Daniel Sullivan questions Molly about it since lots of people had seen Molly slap O’Malley on the ship. Molly becomes the prime suspect along with a young man whom she had befriended. See my full review.

Running Out of TimeRunning out of Time by Margaret P. Haddix
Jessie lives in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana in 1840. When diphtheria strikes the village and the children of Clifton start dying, Jessie discovers that Clifton is actually a 1996 tourist site under secret observation by heartless scientists. Jessie’s mother sends her on a dangerous mission to bring back help. But outside the walls of Clifton, Jessie discovers a world even more alien and scary, and soon she finds her own life in danger. Can she get help before the children of Clifton and Jessie herself run out of time? This is a young adult book which is appealing to adults as well. It is one of my favorite books, written by a good author.  It has won multiple awards, including the YALSA Best Book for Young Adults.

Miss Julia Speaks Her MindMiss Julia Speaks her Mind by Ann Ross
This book is the first in the series. Miss Julia is a strong willed, independent, proper church-going lady. Recently widowed, she is trying to settle down with her new life, including the substantial estate left by her late husband, Wesley Lloyd Springer. Everything is peaceful until Hazel Marie Puckett arrives at her doorstep with her 9 year old son Little Lloyd. Guess what? Little Lloyd is Wesley’s son. Miss Julia receives a shock of her life! After 44 years of marriage to pillar of the church and community Wesley Lloyd Springer, she discovers that he was having an affair with Hazel Marie Puckett. She had assumed he was working late at the family bank, but instead he was engaged in more carnal pursuits. The worst thing was that the whole town knew about this affair. Read my full review.

UnwindUnwind By Neal Shusterman
In America after the Second Civil War the “Bill of Life” permits the parents to get rid of a child between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, through a process called “unwinding.” Unwinding ensures that the child’s life doesn’t really end by transplanting all the organs from the child’s body to different important recipients who quote the highest bid. This is a story about three teens – Connor, Risa and Lev – who become runaway Unwinds. Their escape and survival stories interweave as they struggle to avoid harvest camps. All the characters live and breathe in the story. Neal Shusterman’s Unwind has won many awards and honors, including being included on ALA’s Top Ten Picks for Reluctant Readers and Best Books for Young Adults lists. It is a book written for young adults, but I really enjoyed it and I am sure lots of adults will like reading it too! It has breathtaking suspense and is a sure page turner to find out if the three teens avoid their untimely ends.


Best New Books of 2014: Melissa O’s Picks

December 10, 2014

This is my favorite blog post of the year; a chance to review my favorite new books of 2014. It is hard to narrow it to only five, but here are my selections. I love both fiction and nonfiction, especially those with lots of thrills and edge of your seat action! You never know what I might stumble across to share with you!

Destroyer AngelDestroyer Angel by Nevada Barr
Anna Pigeon is a park ranger. We think hats, nature lovers, and a big smile right? Not this park ranger. She is fierce and not someone you want to make mad. Anna and her friend Heath, a paraplegic, and Heath’s teenage daughter set out on a canoe trip with Leah and her teenage daughter. Leah designs outdoor equipment and she has a new design to make the outdoors more accessible to the disabled. This is supposed to be a trial run and a nice little vacation. Some bad guys decide to abduct Anna’s friends. Not a good idea. If you have read other Anna Pigeon books you don’t want to miss this one. If you haven’t, hold on and prepare for a wild ride.

HackerHacker by Ted Dekker
Nyah Parks is a hacker and she is in big trouble. Some bad people want her dead. Not a bad start to the newest Ted Dekker novel. He is known for his suspenseful, sometimes scary inspirational fiction. This tale starts off with a bang and hurtles forward from there. Computer technology, political cover-ups, murder, and a child’s desperate love for her mother cause Nyah to take steps that stretch our level of belief. We have heard that our brains are like a biological computer. Hacking computers is one thing, but how far would you go to save the people you love?

Denali's HowlDenali’s Howl by Andy Hall
Andy Hall more than remembers the events that occurred in Alaska in 1967; he was there. He was a child, the son of the park superintendent at Alaska’s Mount McKinley, also known as Denali. Twelve young men set out to climb the mountain, only 5 returned. This is an amazing story of survival, man vs. nature, and mountaineering. We learn not only what happened on the mountain, but also the struggle of those who tried to save them. Hall is now a journalist and he spent years tracking down the true story of this tragedy. Through survivor accounts, radio transmissions, and buried documents he has produced a gut-wrenching, white-knuckled read you cannot put down.

UndetectedUndetected by Dee Henderson
I fell in love with Dee Henderson’s books long ago and her newest series does not disappoint. Naval warfare, romance, and family are intricately entwined as we are pulled into the life of Gina Gray, an ocean researcher. Gina is a genius and her discoveries shatter what we thought we knew of ocean science. Now she finds herself fleeing a broken relationship and seeking solace with her brother, a submariner. There she meets Mark Bishop, a friend of her brother and a nuclear submarine commander. He also happens to be a widower and newly open to the idea of love again. Now she is wrestling with whether she should continue to develop her new ideas, and will her knowledge save those she loves or destroy them?

Artemis AwakeningArtemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold
Welcome to the pleasure planet Artemis. At least it used to be. This former playground for the wealthy has been lost for centuries. Long after the war that shattered the galaxies, archaeologist Griffin Dane sets out to rediscover its mysteries. And he does, but not quite in the way he had planned. Now he is trapped on a primitive planet with no way to escape. All living things on this planet were bioengineered to better serve their wealthy guests. Rescued by a huntress, Adara, and her psych-linked puma, Sand Shadow, Griffin must solve the mystery of Artemis if he has any hope of surviving. This is a wonderful new book by the author who brought us the Firekeeper series. She is a master of writing stories involving humans bonded with animals. Technology, lost civilizations, and a pretty despicable bad guy all make for some amazing science fiction.

Best New Books of 2014: Dan B’s Picks

December 3, 2014

My favorite books of this year include a dark and grim Fantasy, a book about meditation, the newest Star Wars novel set far, far away, and two near future Sci-Fi thrillers. Here are some of my top picks from 2014:

Half a KingHalf a King by Joe Abercrombie
Move over George R.R. Martin, there’s a new author of grim, dark Fantasy in town. Prince Yarvi is the titular “half king” due to his deformed and crippled left arm, with which he can hold neither sword nor shield. That’s fine with Yarvi, as he never wanted to be a warrior or king, and is content to continue his studies. However, Yarvi’s plans change when his father the king and his brother are both murdered by a rival king from across the sea. Yarvi must strike back against treacherous enemies, but some are seen and others are hidden.  See my full review.

10% Happier10% Happier by Dan Harris
ABC newsman Dan Harris has never been a very spiritual guy. The news biz is pretty cut throat and for years he was driven to succeed and get on air as often as he could. One fateful day the mounting pressure got to him, and while reporting the news on Good Morning America, he had a nervous breakdown – live on national TV. Harris’ memoir-cum-self-help book about the benefits of meditation takes readers through his journey, and if doing something can make you 10% happier, wouldn’t you want to try it?

A New DawnA New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Kanan Jarrus is a former Jedi student who’s become a loner, never staying put too long. Almost 20 years before A New Hope, the Empire defeated the Republic and the people of the galaxy began to suffer. The Emperor has sent Count Vidian to the planet Gorse and its moon Cynda to ensure productivity is high in their mining operation, no matter the cost. There just might be a spark of rebellion soon. This novel takes place shortly before the new Star Wars Rebels cartoonSee my full review.

Lock InLock In by John Scalzi
In the near future, a virus spreads that leaves about 1% of our population locked inside themselves, unable to control their bodies. They can interact with the world two ways: through an “integrator” (a person who lets them ride inside their body), or through the use of a robotic body that they control remotely, known as a “threep.” When a murder occurs involving an integrator, rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is partnered with Leslie Vann to solve the case. Chris, a victim of the disease who uses a threep, soon discovers the real mystery goes much deeper.

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
Astronaut Mark Watney becomes stranded on Mars when a dust storm forces his team to evacuate and return to Earth earlier than planned. He is presumed dead, but has miraculously survived, and although he knows he’ll be the first human to die on Mars, he fights to stay alive. As the mission’s engineer, Mark may have just enough know-how to figure out how to get enough air, pressure, food, and water to live. By turns thrilling and laugh-out-loud funny, this tale of survival set against a Science Fiction backdrop will have you turning pages past your bedtime.

Best New Books of 2013: Melissa O’s Picks

December 12, 2013

Here it is! My favorite blog post of the year. It is difficult to narrow down my favorite books of the year to only five, but here is a sample from all over the library. As you can see, I have wide ranging interests, so you never know what I might stumble across to share with you!

The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber
This book combines the suspense of a crime drama, the anxiety many of us feel about going into the hospital, and a serial killer into a frightening edge-of-your-seat tale! This is the true story of Charles Cullen, a registered nurse who was implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients during his career and was finally arrested in 2003. The most terrifying aspect of the story is how he managed to be so successful as a serial killer.  For more information read a review of this book or check out the author’s website.

Nobody by Jennifer Barnes
Have you ever felt invisible, overlooked, or unimportant? Of course, it is all in your head. But what if it wasn’t? What if you COULDN’T be noticed? Meet Claire, a Nobody who does not know she is one. Until the day someone tries to kill her.  But how can he notice her when no one else does? And why would anyone care enough to want to assassinate her? With a nice mix of Sci-Fi, action, and romance this is a fun read.

Suspect by Robert Crais
This is a must read for any mystery, action thriller, or dog lover! A new favorite, this book grabbed me from the first pages as it brings together two damaged souls: a cop and a former war dog. Both are recovering from devastating injuries. Both have lost their partner. Can Scott and Maggie help each other heal? And will they ever be able to protect and serve again? You cannot help but root for this duo as they fight to solve the mystery of Scott’s partner’s death.

The Elite by Kiera Cass
The second book in Cass’s dystopian series (after The Selection) immerses you in political intrigue, romance, and … reality TV? Torn between two loves, America Singer is vying for the hand of Prince Maxom even as she is drawn back to her first love. But this prince doesn’t woo his princess in the way you would expect. He selects his bride through a televised competition. Think “The Dating Game” meets “The Real Housewives!” A fun read and I am looking forward to the next installment.

Frozen In Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of WWII by Mitchell Zuckoff
Two stories are woven together in this suspenseful retelling of a tragic and heroic rescue effort from WWII.  The book begins with the November 5, 1942 crash of a US cargo plane in Greenland. The rescue effort saw another plane crash, and the vanishing of a Grumman Duck amphibious plane. The modern day quest for those lost men and the retelling of the months long rescue is a riveting tale. What made it more special is describing the book to my grandfather, an Army lieutenant throughout war, and having him recall hearing about these lost men over 70 years ago.

The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

April 1, 2013

My most recent post for the Book-A-Blog was The  Children’s Blizzard, by David Laskin, a survival story of the infamous 1888 blizzard on the Dakota prairie that caught school children unaware and froze people in their tracks. Brrr…

Now I blog about the desert, survival and hyperthermia instead of hypothermia. This is a true outdoor survival story that is not for the faint of heart.

Author and poet  Luis Alberto UrreaThe Hummingbird’s Daughter, Into the Beautiful NorthQueen of America and others, chronicles the May 2001 trek of 26 Mexican men across a section of the  Arizona desert aptly named  “The Devils’ Highway.”  They left their homes in the Mexican state of Veracruz to cross illegally into the United States to find work, following a guide (coyote) that they paid for a safe crossing. They braved scorpions, snakes, corrupt Mexican police, and their own countrymen intent on robbing and killing them for the few pesos they possess.  The Coyote decided to take an unfamiliar route with disastrous consequences. Twelve of the men made it to “El Norte” and 14 died horrible deaths in the desert.

While this could have easily been a politicized treatise on the state of immigration law between Mexico and the United States, Urrea mostly writes from the perspective of a poetic sociologist rather than a political scientist, describing in detail (at times graphic detail) the process of hyperthermia on the body; the lives and cultures of the men, and the circumstances that propelled each to attempt a desert border crossing. It is clear from the overall tone, especially in the last 30 pages of the book, where Urrea stands politically on the subject of immigration and how he places the blame squarely on both US and Mexican policy makers. That being said, this is the story of an Exodus gone badly, and does not in any way override the story line of survival. Urrea writes bluntly of the idiocy of bureaucracy everywhere, and how in this case it proved deadly. Urrea’s ability to weave a riveting narrative made the book a  finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of several literary awards.

The Devil’s Highway is like a desert version of  Into Thin Air, by John Krakauer, a first-person account of the deadly 1999 climbing season on Mt. Everest and the storm that left eight climbers dead on the mountain. If you like outdoor adventure and survival tales, The Devil’s Highway is an excellent choice.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home by Nanda Parrado

March 26, 2013

Who doesn’t love a great survivor tale?  One of the best is the story of the 1972 plane crash in the Andes where 16 members of a Uruguayan rugby team survived in part by cannibalizing  their  friends and family. The original story was told by British author Piers Paul Read in his 1974 Alive:  The Story of the Andes Survivors. I originally read that book as a high school assignment and I was riveted by what those 16 guys went through up on that godforsaken mountain.

Miracle in the Andes is told from the viewpoint of Nando Parrado, one of the survivors. Not a passive survivor either.  Parrado, was one of the two survivors to walk for 11 days to get help that brought about the rescue after the accident.  Miracle in the Andes is not a retelling of Alive, which was told through the eyes of an outsider; it is the first person account that makes this book so riveting.  Alive was factual, and the author didn’t dwell on emotions, maybe because the story was largely being told by an outside party.  Miracle in the Andes is more complete, with nitty-gritty details that were somewhat glossed over in Alive.  Parrado writes about the decision to cannibalize, “We must believe it is only meat now.” On wondering,  “How long could I stay sane, sitting alone in the fuselage at night, with only ghosts for company…” Of the frustration of finally seeing another human after walking 10 days out of the mountains and trying to convince the sheep herder that indeed, that he had “come from a plane that had fallen into the mountains.” Parrado also gives updates on the other 15 survivors, a kind of “where are they now” for those who read Alive decades ago and wondered how they fared.  This is a well-told, inspirational telling of an incredible survival tale, gritty and emotional.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

July 25, 2012

I vividly remember reading this book. I was home sick and read it from cover to cover in about 3 days, even though the book is over 600 pages. I absolutely could not put it down, despite not feeling well at all. The book begins with Mendelsohn describing how his elderly relatives would cry when he entered a room. They would tell him how much he looked like his Great Uncle, Schmiel. No one would ever say anything more about Schmiel, his wife, or his four daughters, other than they were “killed by the Nazis”. Later, as an adult, he found a set of letters from Schmiel, asking for help to leave Poland. Mendelsohn decided to search for more information, and to see if it would be possible to find out exactly what had happened to them.

Mendelsohn’s research uncovers as much information about the small town of Bolechow as it does about his family. He travels to meet the survivors of the town who are now living in Israel, Australia, and many other places. His goal is to get as many descriptions as possible of the life they lived and what happened during the war. The stories he hears are like many stories from other towns of Eastern Europe: how the local population were often worse in their persecution of the Jewish population, but also how brave people helped or hid some of the Jewish people. In addition, he learns the complicated history of this town which had belonged to several different countries over time, including Poland and Ukraine.

The book is a combination of a personal journal, a mystery story, and a historical quest. Mendelsohn succeeds because he learns not just about his family’s deaths, but also about their lives. They become real people to him with personalities, likes and dislikes, and complicated lives before they died. They are no longer just six names listed among the six million who died.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Greatest Hits: A Dog’s Life: the Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin

July 6, 2012

This week we’re featuring some of our “greatest hits” – the most popular Book-a-Day blog posts since we started this almost three years ago. Today’s is A Dog’s Life: the Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin, reviewed by Bob M.

Every now and then I like to take a break from “serious” reading and check out a Juvenile fiction book. I especially enjoy listening to Juvenile Audio books. One that I listened to recently and enjoyed very much was A Dogs Life: the Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin, who is best known for the Babysitters Club books. I’m a huge dog lover and had to check with a Youth Librarian (Thanks Kathleen!) to make sure the dog did not die in the end, because Marley & Me just about did me in.
A Dog’s Life is about Squirrel who was born a stray along with her brother Bone in a shed by their mother, Stream at a family’s summer house. As Squirrel gets older she befriends the residents in the shed, a cat named Yellow Man as well as all the mice living in the barn. Mother teaches her puppies everything they need to know to survive and instills in them to be leery of humans. But one morning after mother vanishes Bone and Squirrel decide to leave. The shed was the only place Squirrel ever knew, but she would leave if Bone left, he was her brother and was now in charge.
Bone and Squirrel face many challenges on their new adventure, learning about the world very quickly and are soon found on the side of a highway where a couple stop and  take them home. They don’t live there very long. After one bad night, with garbage ransacking, barking and going to the bathroom in the house, the husband takes the two puppies to a parking lot and throws them out. Two women come along and take Bone, and now Squirrel is on her own.
Alone Squirrel faces new challenges, the cold of winter, starving dogs that will kill to eat, roads, and of course humans. One night Squirrel finds a dog, who she says resembles Bone. Her name is Moon. Squirrel is happy to have a companion. They live together for some time, until a speeding car takes Moons life. Squirrel gets a home but only for the summer, her owners adopt a “summer” dog every year but quickly tire of it, forgetting to feed or walk her. So Squirrel heads out on her own again. Squirrel lives on through the cold winters and hot summers, being careful to stay away from humans, till she is an old dog. An old dog with black fur beginning to turn white, a filmy eye, bad hearing in one ear, and very achy bones in the shoulder and leg that were broken when she was young.
Squirrel finally finds a home with an old woman who names her Addie. Together they form a relationship, each needing the other and Squirrel finally finds contentment with a human.
Prepare to shed some tears as you listen to Squirrel’s story. This heart-touching tale really brings to light the serious problem of homeless animals. By giving listeners a firsthand look through a stray’s eyes and heart, A Dog’s Life will inspire all of us to work together to eliminate this desperately tragic way of life that so many animals suffer. Ann M. Martin herself volunteers for an animal rescue, and she has successfully brought her true-life observations onto the pages of this amazing book. A must-read or listen for everyone.
For information about adopting a local stray check out these websites:
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Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

June 23, 2011

Truth is stranger than fiction–if you need proof, read this book.  It’s the story of a plane crash during World War II.  The plane is American, carrying 24 American military personnel and it crashes into a remote area of what was then called Dutch New Guinea.  The flight itself had no military significance; it was a reward meant to boost the morale of hardworking staff and designed to be a sightseeing trip of the beautiful and otherwise inaccessible landscape of the island.

But the unexpected happens.  The plane crashes and the military is left to figure out how to rescue the survivors.  Nothing in the Army Field Manual covers this situation:  stranded personnel (including a female soldier), some wounded and hence unable to walk any significant distance, surrounded by hostile terrain and the Japanese enemy, in an unmapped area without enough clear space to safely land an airplane.  And then the Dani people from the nearby village of Uwambo show up.

So now on one hand are the surviving Americans, trying to deal with an unfamiliar landscape, an unfamiliar people and the grief of losing friends and family in the crash.  On the other hand are the Dani, trying to figure out the meaning of these people who literally fell from the sky.

What follows is a riveting tale, in which everyone is forced to improvise.  How will the Americans and the villagers communicate without a common language?  Should the villagers, isolated from the world for centuries, treat the crash survivors as honored guests or dangerous enemies?  And how will the military overcome the problems of the terrain to rescue the stranded soldiers?

All these questions and more are deftly answered by Mitchell Zuckoff in this appealing, well written true story that reads like an adventure novel. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys books by Jon Krakauer, Michael Crichton and Laura Hillenbrand — and movies by Steven Spielberg.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of its Survivors by Doug Stanton

February 21, 2011

Were it not for the events covered in this book, the USS Indianapolis would simply be known in history as the WWII ship that delivered the pieces of the first atomic bomb to the small island of Tinian and the crews preparing the Enola Gay.  Instead, the events that transpired soon after that delivery placed the Indy and her crew in one of the most famous ship disasters of the 20th century.

On July 30, 1945, while sailing alone on a routine mission, the Indy was struck by Japanese torpedoes.  The ship sank quickly and carried a fourth of the crew to the bottom.  Those that survived the attack (nearly 900 men) used life preservers, debris, and each other to keep afloat and stay alive.  They kept their spirits up knowing that once the ship was reported missing, search crews would be out to rescue them.  Unfortunately, due to an unlikely chain of events, no one noticed that the ship was missing.   For four days, the crew battled salt water, merciless sunlight by day, frigid waters at night, lack of food and drinkable water, sharks, oil, hallucinations, and other dangers.  Doug Stanton tells the story of the ship and her crew in a fascinating and sobering look at the dangers of war and the limits of human endurance.

Reserve it here!

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