Staff Pick – Laura Jean– THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher, DB 70544

The recent release on March 31st of Netflix’s series 13 Reasons, has generated new interest in the book on which it is based. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. Character-driven with an emotionally intense tone, this book tells the story of Hannah Baker, through a series of audio cassettes recorded for the 13 different people who impacted her life…and in her opinion…precipitated her death.

Cover of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Winner of multiple state book awards for young adults as well as a recipient of a coveted five stars from Teen Book Review, this book is author Jay Asher’s debut novel.

NLS Annotation Clay Jensen receives a box of audiocassettes in the mail with no return address. Hannah Baker–a girl he barely knew but secretly liked, who committed suicide–recorded a final message for thirteen people to listen to and then pass on to the next person. For senior high readers. 2007.

If you have already read this book and enjoy realistic young adult fiction that deals with coping with the suicide of an acquaintance try LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green, DB 61873. Or if you’d prefer the point of view be from the person contemplating suicide, try FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, DB 77255.

June 2017 TBP Book Club Title Announced!

Texas Talking Book patrons: please join us on Tuesday June 6th at 7 pm (Central Time) for our book club discussion of ONE-HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED by Jonas Jonasson (DB 75820)

Our book club meetings are hosted via toll free conference call, so all you need is a telephone to participate. To RSVP call the Talking Book Program at: 1-800-252-9605 (RSVP preferred by May 16th) or email us at: tbp.ral@tsl.texas.gov. Please indicate if you would like us to mail you the digital cartridge or if you prefer to download it from BARD.
NLS Annotation:
Sweden. On his one-hundredth birthday, former demolitions expert Allan Karlsson escapes from an old folks’ home, steals a suitcase filled with money, and begins a madcap adventure running from criminals and the police. Originally published in Swedish in 2009. Some strong language. 2012.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot, DB 70661

The imminent release of HBOs The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, featuring Oprah Winfrey on Saturday April 22nd has generated new interest in the book on which it is based. THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS explains the origins of HeLa cells, which were ultimately used in developing vaccines, medical treatments, and many other scientific breakthroughs. These cells were harvested from a young African American woman in Baltimore, Maryland, Henrietta Lacks, who was suffering from a particularly virulent form of cervical cancer. This book not only explains the impact HeLa cells have had on the evolution of medical research, it also delves into the way that the medical establishment treated Mrs. Lacks and her family and their fight for compensation and acknowledgement.

Written in a thought-provoking and journalistic manner, Ms. Skloot, does a brilliant job of explaining fairly complex scientific processes and medical procedures in a way that anyone can understand. In addition, she interviews Mrs. Lack’s family with compassion, yet maintains her journalistic neutrality. She skillfully sets their personal story against the backdrop of the racial and medical culture of the latter half of the 20th century. Winning best book awards from organizations such as The National Academies of Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for over two years.

NLS Annotation: Science journalist chronicles the life of African American Henrietta Lacks, who in 1951 had cervical tissue removed and grown in culture–without her permission–producing the first continuously replicating human-cell samples for research. Discusses subsequent medical breakthroughs, including the polio vaccine and AIDS treatment. Explores bioethical concerns involving tissue ownership. Bestseller. 2010.

If you have already read this book or would prefer a book that looks at the broader issue of medical ethics and race, try MEDICAL APARTHEID: THE DARK HISTORY OF MEDICAL EXPERIMENTATION ON BLACK AMERICANS FROM COLONIAL TIMES TO THE PRESENT by Harriet A. Washington, DB 66297.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi, DB 84732

If you enjoy historical family sagas that feature a host of complex characters set amidst a sweeping storyline, you may enjoy Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel. Nominated for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, Dylan Thomas Prize and Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction, HOMEGOING tells the history of both Ghana and the United States through the eyes of multiple generations of a family as they encounter the racial, religious, and political tensions that permeated both countries from the 18th century until the present day.

NLS Annotation for HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi (DB 84732): In the 1700s, half sisters Esi and Effia are born in Ghana without knowing each other. Effia marries a wealthy Englishman, while Esi is imprisoned in the dungeon of the castle where Effia lives, before she is shipped to America and sold into slavery. Their descendants witness history. Unrated. Bestseller. Commercial audiobook. 2016.

If you have already read this book or enjoy African American family sagas, try ROOTS: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY by Alex Haley (BR 17794, DB 53160). Or if you’re more interested in reading about a contemporary family bound to both the United States and Ghana, try GHANA MUST GO by Taiye Selasi (DB 76458).

Staff Pick – John – THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE by David Finkel, DB 77869

Texas Center for the Book, via Read Across Texas, is encouraging Texans to use books to engage in tough but important conversations about what happens when veterans come home. More information about Read Across Texas is at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/readacrosstexas.

To help launch Read Across Texas, the Texas State Library hosted best-selling author Ben Fountain for a discussion on his critically acclaimed work, BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK. (https://www.tsl.texas.gov/readacrosstexasresources.)

In addition, the Talking Book Program’s Phone-in Book Club tackled YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE, by Siobhan Fallon (DT 07103).

Fountain and Fallon use fiction to explore what happens when soldiers return stateside. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel offers an intense but moving nonfiction account of veterans coming home in THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE (DB 77869).

Finkel chronicles the lives of soldiers from the 2-16 Infantry Battalion readjusting to civilian life—and families readjusting to soldiers. As the soldiers battle the physical and emotional aftereffects of war, we develop a deeper understanding of the price soldiers pay for serving their country—and a fuller accounting of the debt we owe.

Discover why Ben Fountain calls THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE “one of the best and truest books I have ever read.”

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE by David Finkel (DB 77869):

NLS Annotation: Journalist who was embedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq describes what life was like for some of the veterans from THE GOOD SOLDIERS (DB 70623) after they returned stateside. Portrays issues the men and their families dealt with, including suicide, PTSD, and financial strains.  Violence and strong language.  2013.

Listen to an October 2013 NPR interview with author David Finkel:

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/01/224493078/thank-you-for-your-service-follows-americas-soldiers-home

Dream Works Pictures is currently producing a movie adaption of THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay for “American Sniper,” is both its screenwriter and director.  Due for release in 2017, information about the movie version of THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE is here:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2776878/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray, DB 85432

Do you enjoy humorous young adult novels that involve absurd situations and over the top characters? If so, you might like BEAUTY QUEENS. Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Young Adult Novel for 2011, BEAUTY QUEENS describes the trials and travails of several beauty pageant contestants, surviving in the wild. Written with a witty and offbeat tone, I quite often found myself laughing out loud at the outrageous adventures these talented ladies encounter. If you’re a proud Texan, you’ll be excited to note that Miss Texas leads this band of intrepid and inventive ingénues.

NLS Annotation: After their plane crashes and strands them on an island, the fifty beauty contestants for the Miss Teen Dream Pageant channel their talents into surviving. But the arrival of some hot reality-television pirates adds new complications. Descriptions of sex and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2011.

If you already read this book or simply enjoy humorous young adult books with feminist adventures and subtle romance, you might try I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter (DB 66621).

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BLACK WATER RISING by Attica Locke, DB 72177

If you like legal thrillers such as those written by John Grisham and Lisa Scottoline, you might try the Jay Porter Series by Attica Locke, starting with BLACK WATER RISING (DB 72177). Nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, a 2010 NAACP Image Award, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, this story, set in Houston, Texas, follows lawyer Jay Porter as he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation and the labor disputes and racial turmoil of the early 1980s.

BlackWaterRising

Recent winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, Attica Locke, is a native of Houston, Texas and her knowledge of the area reveals itself in her detailed descriptions of the city as well as the social issues that dominated the area in the early 1980s. Her writing is gritty and compelling and she has created an intricately detailed plot with a well-developed protagonist in Jay Porter.

NLS Annotation: Texas, 1981. African American lawyer Jay Porter rescues from the bayou a white woman he later suspects is involved in a murder. Despite his racially charged criminal past and impending fatherhood, Jay investigates and finds links to Houston’s political elite and big oil. Some violence and some strong language. 2009.

If you’ve already read this book and enjoy a good legal thriller series with a suspenseful tone set in the urban south, try the Penn Cage series by Greg Iles, starting with QUIET GAME (DB 49340). If you’d prefer a legal thriller series with a female protagonist, try the Carole Ann Gibson series by Penny Mickelbury, starting with CAROLE ANN GIBSON, BOOKS 1-3 (DB 84707).

February 2017 TBP Book Club Title Announced!

Texas Talking Book patrons: please join us on Tuesday February 7th at 7 pm (Central Time) for our book club discussion of ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes.

Our book club meetings are hosted via toll free conference call, so all you need is a telephone to participate. To RSVP call the Talking Book Program at: 1-800-252-9605 or email us at: tbp.ral@tsl.texas.gov. Please indicate if you would like us to mail you the digital cartridge or if you prefer to download it from BARD.

NLS Annotation:
Working-class English girl Louisa “Lou” Clark is hired as an aide to wealthy Will Traynor, a former mogul who has been paralyzed since a road accident. Lou tries to keep the embittered Will engaged with the world, while Will encourages Lou to expand her horizons. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2012.

Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards Announced

goodreads-choice-awards-2016

The social cataloging website for book lovers, Goodreads, has just announced their readers’ Choice Awards for 2016. The Texas Talking Book Program has a good number of them in our collection. Are you looking for a non-fiction book? Goodreads members chose WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanthithi (BR 21371; DB 83643) as their favorite memoir. Are you more interested in fiction? Try TRULY MADLY GUILTY by Liane Moriarty (DB 85100). Is young adult fiction more your thing? Ruta Sepetys’ book SALT TO THE SEA (DB 83767) was their selection in that category. Perhaps you’re in the market for a new author to explore. Goodreads readers awarded Alwyn Hamilton the honor of Debut Goodreads Author for her book REBEL OF THE SANDS (DB 84465). No matter which genre you enjoy, the bibliophiles at Goodreads have chosen a favorite book published this year. Contact us and we can help you find your next favorite book.

For more information: https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2016

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng, DB 80393

If you enjoy family dramas written in a moving tone and with a compelling writing style, you may enjoy EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU (DB 80393), the debut novel by Celeste Ng. New York Times Notable Book of 2014 and ALA’s Alex Award winner in 2015, this book reveals the life of teenager, Lydia Lee through the eyes of her parents, older brother Nathan, younger sister, Hannah and ultimately her own.

EverythingINeverToldYou

Book jacket for Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This book is beautifully crafted and strongly character driven. As the reader learns more about each member of the Lee Family, they are inexorably drawn deeper into the unvoiced hopes, dreams, and fears of each family member and how they affect each other, especially Lydia.

NLS Annotation for EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng (DB 80393): Examines the secrets of the Chinese-American Lee family of Ohio before and immediately after the 1977 drowning death of their middle child–high school sophomore Lydia. History professor James and his wife Marilyn–whose medical school plans were aborted by pregnancies–had high hopes for her. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2014.

If you have already read this book or enjoy books that deal with the ways in which a family deals with the death of a loved one try LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold (DB 54698, BR 14806). Or if you’d prefer another book that looks at the complex dynamics of an immigrant family as they struggle to fit into their community and confront difficult emotions when processing personal losses try SLEEPWALKER’S GUIDE TO DANCING by Jacob Mira (DB 79244).