Department 19

Department 19
There were two defining moments in Jamie Carpenter's life. The first occurred when he saw his father shot by government forces for betraying his country. The second happened two years later when his mother was kidnapped by vampires and Jamie was aided by Victor Frankensten's creation. Jamie was introduced to a mysterious agency called "Department 19". The agency was created in 1892 to combat the supernatural creatures among us.
"Department 19" by Will Hill is an excellent urban fantasy book. It should especially appeal to boys because it returns the vampire to its original state. They fly, drink blood, and burst into flames in the sunlight. The action is intense, and the blood and gore quotient high. The book ends with the reader wanting more.

2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners

The Goldfinch

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced this week. This is the 98th year for the prizes established by the former owner of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Joseph Pulitzer. Check out these winners to see if you agree with the Board's choices.

Fiction - "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt

Biography - "Margaret Fuller: A New American Life" by Megan Marshall

Roosevelt Battles Polio

"The man he became : how FDR defied polio to win the presidency" by James Tobin

"The man he became : how FDR defied polio to win the presidency"  by James Tobin delves into the battle Franklin Roosevelt waged to overcome polio and fulfill his life's goal of becoming president. This is not new ground, as FDR's polio has been the topic of conversation, speculation and misinformation since 1921 when he contracted the virus. But Tobin cuts through the misinformation to dispel some of the lingering myths about how FDR and those closest to him dealt with the crippling illness that threatened to sideline him. Tobin posits that Roosevelt did not win the presidency despite his affliction, but because of it. He has plenty of ammunition for the argument.

How I Live Now

How I Live Now

Saoirse Ronan never shies away from an acting challenge. Her roles in "Atonement" and "Lovely Bones" shows she tackles literary masterpieces with verve. "How I Live Now" is based on the book by Meg Rosoff and is different from the recent dystopian teen onslaught by giving a view of what would happen if a major world war happened not in the distant future, but tomorrow. Ronan stars as Daisy, a typical U.S. teen always attached to her ear buds and concerned with fashion and her weight. She's sent to relatives in Britain because her father believes war may break out.

The Hot Zone

"The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston

Recent disturbing news of an outbreak of Ebola virus in Guinea has got me thinking about Richard Preston's chilling book "The Hot Zone." Preston presents what his subtitle calls "a terrifying true story." In 1989 a strain of Ebola appeared in a Virginia laboratory, and a military biohazard SWAT team worked frantically to identify and contain the virus. I read it many years ago and still remember the gruesome descriptions of what happens to a human dying of Ebola. This 1994 book is nonfiction but reads like a thriller and leaves the reader with an uneasy fear of this deadly virus.

Mrs. Partridge Bares All

Shirley Jones: a memoir by Shirley Jones and Wendy Leigh

Shirley Jones: a memoir by Shirley Jones and Wendy Leigh is a very few holds barred account of the singer's life. Whether you recall Shirley from movies such as "Oklahoma" or "Elmer Gantry", from her television role as the mother on "The Partridge Family," or as the step-mother of teeny bopper idol David Cassidy, her life is unique in entertainment history.

I, Robot

"I, robot: to protect" by Mickey Zucker Reichert
"I, robot: to protect" revisits the world created by the master of science fiction, Isaac Asimov. Although Asimov passed away in 1992, the three laws of robotics he created lives on in books and movies. This book was authorized by the estate of Isaac Asimov. It is written by Mickey Zucker Reichert.
This book is a prequel to Asimov's work. It tells the back story of Susan Calvin before she becomes involved with robotics. It opens with her being a psychiatry resident at Manhattan Hasbro teaching hospital. Her patients range from the near comatose to a four year old sociopath. Susan makes some brilliant diagnoses/breakthroughs in her first few weeks.This causes her to be chosen for an experimental project using nanobots. While the experimental programs offers hope, it attracts the animosity of the Society of America who fear they will create a cyborg.
While the book has some problems, it is a worthy addition to the Asimov universe.

Vampires Plague Princeton

"The Accursed" by Joyce Carol Oates

Twined through the ivied walls of Princeton University, vampirism spread like a virus in 1905. Though not all fell prey, no one escaped exposure.

Who better to invent this contagion than Joyce Carol Oates, Princeton professor since 1978? She knows the streets, the customs, the genealogies and secrets both chronicled and disavowed. In "The Accursed," an unnamed fictional narrator reveals this "history," writing in the late 20th Century. Diaries, correspondence, hearsay, legend and conjecture combine to expose the visitation of vampirism at a particularly fecund period in Princeton's history. The environs are traversed by luminaries such as former president Grover Cleveland, burgeoning author Upton Sinclair, Sherlock Holmes, Mark Twain, Jack London and, most prominently, Woodrow Wilson during his tenure as president of the school.

Empty Mansions

"Empty Mansions" by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

Huguette Clark was a very well-educated, sophisticated lady who inherited a lot of money, property, art jewelry and other valuables from her very wealthy parents. Although she had an amazing oceanfront estate in Santa Barbara, California and three uber-plush apartments overlooking Central Park, she preferred to pull the shades and retreat into one room in a New York City hospital. Although she was not ill, she lived in the hospital for 20 years!

"Empty mansions : the mysterious life of Huguette Clark and the spending of a great American fortune" by  Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. uncovers some of the mystery of Huguette Clark, but leaves plenty intact. She was such a recluse that people who worked for Huguette Clark for decades never met her. But she was also generous and loyal, not just to employees but to their relatives.

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