War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History


"War Made New" by Max Boot is a book about military history from the technological standpoint. The author states early in the book that the losing side in military campaigns has typically been the side that learns the most about military technology. The book describes dozens of historical battles from the last five centuries illustrating such trends as firearms against swords and tanks against horses, as well as the rise of professional soldiers and national armies as opposed to private warriors and mercenaries. Max Boot explains the development of military history from a standpoint that few other authors have. 

--Michael B., Florissant Valley Branch

“The Odds” – A good bet


Stewart O'Nan's latest slim novel "The Odds" portrays a married couple in crisis. After close to thirty years together Marion and Art Fowler are headed towards divorce. Severe financial distress and previous infidelities have brought the Fowlers to what O'Nan describes as "the final weekend of their marriage." They head to Niagara Falls where they spent their honeymoon. Art hopes to double their savings in the casino and to save their marriage. Marion hopes to remain civil so that they can spend one last weekend together before heading their separate ways.

O'Nan is skilled at portraying complex relationships. The Fowlers have been together long enough to have inside jokes and catchphrases "lifted from favorite movies or TV shows that served as a rote substitute for conversation and bound them like shut-in twins, each other's best and, most often, only audience." Despite their habitual closeness, Art and Marion also keep secrets.

eBook Review: Gregg Olsen's "Starvation Heights"


I love stumbling across little-known historical true-crime stories and much to my macabre delight, I found an eBook version of Gregg Olsen's "Starvation Heights."

In 1911, Linda Hazzard presents herself as a doctor with the key to good health - fasting. Unfortunately, the patients at her sanatorium are so emaciated that the local townsfolk refer to it as "Starvation Heights." In addition to withholding food, Dr. Hazzard obtains power of attorney over her patients and acquires their jewelry, land and money after starving them to death.

Dr. Hazzard's downfall begins with the death of a British heiress and the near death of her sister. After fleeing the sanatorium, Dora Williamson makes it her mission to avenge the death of her sister and see Dr. Hazzard punished for her crimes. Olsen uses extensive access to historical records to tell a story that is as consuming as it is horrifying - a forgotten bit of American crime that resonates in the present as much as the past. 

Reluctant Book Grouper


Much to my surprise, I am a member of a book group. I have always had enough titles on my "to do" list to last a lifetime. Furthermore, my choice in reading material is very personal and I don't much like to conform.  I have found that I can have those opinions and still be in a book group. Even after overcoming those issues, I had other concerns.

I was afraid that the responsibility to read a particular title would mean that I would neglect my own reading. In fact, I just read more.

I feared that the group's choices would not appeal to me. Sometimes the books don't appeal to me, but I can almost always finish them. If I can't, I don't attend the meeting, or I talk about why it didn't appeal to me. I'm rarely alone in that.

I was concerned that I wouldn't have anything intelligent to say and that the other members would be geniuses. The first few meetings, I was quiet; but as time has passed, I find that I do have things to say. My fellow book groupers are very bright, but they don't always notice what I notice. Besides, everyone is there to share, not to work on a Ph.D. in literature!

The New Generation of Graphic Novels


Many of you are familiar, at least in passing, of the medium known as graphic novels or comic books. Some of you, myself included, might even read those on a semi-regular basis. In the era of the Internet, those of us with a taste for such things have found a new way to read and enjoy this medium: the webcomic. Webcomics are much like the strips found in the newspaper in that they are released on a sort of regular basis, depending on the author, and follow a general story arc. They are usually self-published, and as such they have a lot more freedom; there variety of webcomics out there and at least one for every taste. Like comic strips, some of these have also been put into print. Here are three that I personally really appreciate and would highly recommend.

New Year’s Resolution: Songs, Cookbooks and Workout DVDs


Who doesn't want to get more active in the New Year? Have you ever heard a song that you couldn't help moving around to? The library's collection of CDs will inspire you with multitudes of peppy tunes. "Pink Friday" by Nicki Minaj, "I am the Dance Commander + I Command You to Dance" by Ke$ha or any of the Music Now CDs will get you moving. Your time on the bike or treadmill will seem like mere minutes while enjoying these CDs.           

And why stop at the CDs, in the 641 area of non-fiction, you'll find cookbooks that range from raw vegan cuisine to decadent baking recipes. In the 613 area of non-fiction, you will find fitness guides and information on health and nutrition. In the 613 area of non-fiction DVDs, you will find work out DVDs. The library is packed with materials to help you find your new "you."

eBook Review: Jayne Ann Krentz, “Twist of Fate”

Hannah Jesset is a life coach by profession and habit. So when her brother's company is endangered by a corporate shark, Gideon Cage, she rides to the rescue and gives the shark some advice along the way. Gideon Cage is tired of chasing blood in the water and so instead gives chasing the intriguing Hannah a try, as Hannah tries to decide whether to radically change the course of her life. Such a change is not without its difficulties or even danger as these two grow closer, and Hannah's new life may not have room for a man like Gideon.

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