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Local Author Showcase: Julia Rath

October 8, 2014 – 5:50 pm |

Local Author Showcase spotlights Skokie-area writers and their work. This month, meet Julia Rath, a Niles East and University of Chicago graduate and author of Conquering Your Own Sleep Apnea the All-Natural Way. She’ll talk about her experience with sleep apnea at the library next Tuesday night.
Where are you living now?
As I write this, I am transitioning between Skokie and Des Plaines. What I like …

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Staff Review: The World Before Her

October 24, 2014 – 9:59 am |

This riveting documentary explores two contrasting phenomena of girls’/women’s lives in India. The Miss India Pageant title is sought after by hundreds of young women eager to break out of the traditional mold of housewife/mother and earn a high salary otherwise elusive to females. Though beauty pageants are popular in India and some of the families of these contestants are supportive, the exposure of bodies and parading before audiences is seen by many other Indians as vulgar. The women themselves often have conflicting feelings about the degree to which they’re compromising their own beliefs vs. the desire for western culture’s greater freedoms. One particularly poignant, dehumanizing scene shows the contestants draped in cloth covering the upper half of their bodies so that their legs, alone, can be judged. Skin is painfully bleached and Botox injections are administered.
The film alternates between scenes of the competition with scenes of a radical camp for training young girls to be Hindu nationalists with the Durga Vahini. The Durga Vahini is the women’s wing of Vishva Hindu Parishad, a militant, fascist organization that has instigated violent attacks against religious minorities in India. The girls are shown chanting slogans of violent resistance to anyone who threatens “Mother India,” learning to handle weapons, and being brainwashed to turn against non-Hindus. Prachi Trivedi, one of the camp leaders, is tough and macho, but in her home her father dismisses her desire to continue as a camp leader and insists she will marry and carry on Hindu traditions. And therein lies the rub: though these girls are being encouraged to be strong for their religion, there is no transfer of this strength to them as individuals with the right to pursue their own individuality. Ultimately, from a western point of view, one can’t help but see that neither path depicted in the film leads to a better life for women in India.
Winner of the World Documentary Competition Award, 2012 Tribeca Film Festival as well as other awards. Nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Coverage of a Current News Story in 2014.

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Staff Reviews: Song for Issy Bradley, A by Bray, Carys

October 22, 2014 – 4:35 pm |

The British family of Mormon Bishop Ian Bradley mourns the sudden loss of 5-year-old Issy from meningitis. Wife Claire, immobilized by grief, takes to Issy’s bed and removes herself completely from the family; their teenage son Alma becomes increasingly cynical toward his father’s religious convictions, while sister Zipporah takes on all the responsibilities of the household, and little Jacob, taking his father’s words to heart, is sure he can resurrect Issy and fix it all. He has been taught, after all, that Heavenly Father responds to the prayers of everyone, even small children, so why not him? And, besides, in a practice run, he brought Issy’s goldfish back to life! (The fish was surreptitiously replaced by Dad so the children wouldn’t be upset by another loss.) Meanwhile, Ian remains mostly steadfast in his faith – and is appalled and embarrassed by his wife’s inability to grieve appropriately and move on as is demanded by someone of faith. He’s also overwhelmed at his increased parental responsibilities and the pressure of keeping Claire’s condition a secret from his congregation. A sometimes sad, but more often humorously sweet novel that provides interesting insight into the Mormon faith, but also addresses more universal themes of religious belief in general and of family dynamics. Recommended for all readers, this would be an interesting selection for book discussion groups looking for lighter fare.

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Adobe Digital Editions 4 and eBook Privacy

October 10, 2014 – 11:44 am |

Earlier this week, news emerged that Adobe tracks the unencrypted reading history of those accessing eBooks using Adobe Digital Editions 4 (ADE4) on desktop or laptop computers. Library vendors such as OverDrive use Adobe’s software to enforce digital rights management, the rules set by book publishers that dictate how libraries can lend eBooks. The software also collects data to support useful features, such as allowing you to …

Local Author Showcase: Julia Rath

October 8, 2014 – 5:50 pm |
photo

Local Author Showcase spotlights Skokie-area writers and their work. This month, meet Julia Rath, a Niles East and University of Chicago graduate and author of Conquering Your Own Sleep Apnea the All-Natural Way. She’ll talk about her experience with sleep apnea at the library next Tuesday night.
Where are you living now?
As I write this, I am transitioning between Skokie and Des Plaines. What I like …

Under the Cover Review: Deviant

October 8, 2014 – 9:33 am |
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Deviant by Helen FitzGerald Reviewed by Nicole M Niles North High School, 12th Grade If I had to describe this book in one word, all I can say is “wow”. Deviant made me think in a different light compare to other book that I have read. Since chapter one, I felt that I was in [...]

Under the Cover Review: The Island at the End of the World

October 8, 2014 – 9:32 am |
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The Island at the End of the World by Austin Aslan Reviewed by Alma D Niles North High School, 10th Grade The book, “The Island at the End of the World” by Austin Aslan continues the new hot trend of dystopian fiction. We follow the story of a girl named Leilain who is just a [...]

Under the Cover Review: The Island at the End of the World

October 8, 2014 – 9:32 am |
book

The Island at the End of the World by Austin Aslan Reviewed by Alma D Niles North High School, 10th Grade The book, “The Island at the End of the World” by Austin Aslan continues the new hot trend of dystopian fiction. We follow the story of a girl named Leilain who is just a [...]

Staff Reviews: Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Munaweera, Nayomi

October 6, 2014 – 1:14 pm |

An evocative story of two Sri Lankan families, one Tamil and one Sihala, and the effects of civil war upon them. Sinhala sisters Yasodhara and Lanka and their parents emigrate to the U.S. when conflict escalates and their upstairs neighbors/tenants (including Yasodhara’s best friend and “Tamil brother” Shiva) flee; Tamil teenager Saraswathi, after being brutalized by government soldiers and rejected by her family as “spoiled,”, joins the Tamil tigers and herself becomes a ruthless rebel, slaughtering innocent women and children, eventually volunteering to be a suicide bomber in the service of the Leader. After she graduates from college, Lanka, an artist, returns to the island to teach children who are wounded and parentless. Here she meets up again with Shiva, now an English-educated doctor doing humanitarian work, and convinces her sister, whose marriage is failing, to come and stay with them. What ensues is the tragic and predictable collision of these two families. (Lanka is on the bus that Saraswathi blows up while carrying out her mission.) Munaweera graphically portrays the atrocities perpetrated by both sides and paints a convincing portrait of the making of a terrorist from an innocent teenager; she also manages in this fairly short novel to convey the immigrant experience of Sri Lankans in the U.S. and, what most distinguishes her book fro others of its ilk, by beginning her story a generation earlier, she is able to vivdly depict the natural beauty of the island the the rich culture of its people before war encroaches (while never ignoring the classism and prejudices that lie at its roots). This contrast between an idyllic island paradise and the carnage that destroys it is simply unforgettable. This reader will long remember the descriptions of the girls’ father swimming in the sea as a boy surrounded by fish (and his comparison later of blinking Christmas lights to color-changing octopi) as well as the horrific callousness of Saraswathi’s first kill. Highly recommended for its richly developed female characters, political objectivity, descriptive prose, and captivating imagery.

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Staff Reviews: Station Eleven by Mandel, Emily St. John

October 1, 2014 – 8:11 am |

Looking for a great literary selection (and one of the best book discussion titles) of the year? Look no further! Yes, it’s another dystopian novel and, yes, I know you’ve had enough of this genre already – or maybe you’re just not interested in these typically gloom-and-doom scenarios – but, honestly, this one is a ‘must-read,’ distinguished by flawless plotting, three-dimensional (and uniquely interesting) characters, timely themes, and the creation of a disturbingly plausible, entirely recognizable, post-pandemic world in which there is still some hope for civilization. (And not a zombie in sight!) The premise: child actor Kirsten was six years old when the Georgian flu wiped out some 99% of the human population over a matter of weeks; now, 20 years later, in a dangerous world where survival is paramount and precarious, she is a member of the Traveling Symphony, bringing music and Shakespeare to isolated towns along the Western shores of Lake Michigan. On the night the flu first invaded the U.S., Kirsten watched famous film actor Arthur Leander die on stage in a production of King Lear; subsequently, her life is filled with coincidences and connections to Arthur (treasured comic books by the first of his three wives, a cult leader who turns out to be Arthur’s only son, a paparazzi-turned-paramedic who rushed to Arthur’s aid when he collapsed, and his best friend who keeps a museum of no-longer-operational technology in an airport colony). The book follows the lives of these characters, both in Kirsten’s present and in Arthur’s past, in a story framed by the themes and motifs of Lear, from the indifference and indiscrimination of the natural world to human social/moral conventions, to unrequited intentions of reconciliation, to the descent into madness. In a world peopled by those who remember and those who are too young to remember but are surrounded by the detritus of the past, all are longing for what is missing, a homesickness for a world which one never left, but lost anyway – a nostalgia not for the excesses of technology, but for the life-enhancing, everyday comforts it provided, not just for an organized (relatively safe) society but for the cultural hallmarks of civilization – the music, the arts, the literature. As the characters in the novel reminisce about what was possible in the past (when they’re not too busy escaping from crazed killers or trying to find enough food to survive on) the reader gains an new appreciation for what is possible now, for the richness of the world in which we live, so rife with even greater potential. Mandel’s talent is in making the reader feel this viscerally, so that closing the cover on the final page, one wants to flip on all the light switches, pop something into the microwave, check your messages on Facebook, turn up the music, and breathe a sigh of relief. Superlative!

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Staff Reviews: Windhaven by Martin, George R. R. and Tuttle, Lisa

September 30, 2014 – 6:11 pm |

This is a story about people. It is set on a lost colony world, and has a few fantastic science fiction elements to it, but it is about people. There are only a few inhabitable islands on the planet of Windhaven and travel between them by sailing is…