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Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: Mistress of the Art of Death

Mistress of the Art of Death (2008) by Ariana Franklin is an absorbing blend of historical fact and grisly fiction that will keep readers turning the pages. It is 1171 in Cambridge, England, and Henry II is extremely agitated—four children have been found murdered and mutilated and the townsfolk are blaming the Jews, who have sought shelter in the castle. King Henry, less concerned about the murderer than the tax revenue he is losing while the Jewish community languishes in the fortress, appeals to the king of Sicily to send him a master of the art of death, one who can examine the deceased and determine the cause of death.  

 Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, a mistress of this art, arrives with a returning group of pilgrims. Along with an eunuch escort named Mansur and Simon of Naples, a Jew with an affinity for detection, she must piece together the mystery of these gruesome crimes before the monster kills again.

Review by Peter Critchley, Vernon Branch

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Amazing True Stories!

At the Library

This month’s Westbank Branch book recommendations come from Assistant Community Librarian Catherine Mamo.
Catherine has worked for the Okanagan Regional Library for over seven years. She works in several branches, but calls the Westbank branch home. Catherine enjoys delivering storytimes and other children’s programs.
Many of you may not know that Catherine is a published author! Look for her book of poetry, Paperwhite, in our collection. She has also taught Creative Writing courses.
Catherine reads “everything” (fiction, nonfiction and poetry) except genre fiction. She enjoys memoirs and stories that are based on true events.
Catherine lives in Peachland with her family and a menagerie of animals!


A girl of three, kidnapped then abandoned in the rainforest, survives for five years by following, watching and finally joining a troop of Capuchin monkeys. Once “rescued” she ends up enslaved and beaten by the owner of a brothel. She escapes only to begin a life as one of many homeless children on the mean streets of Colombia. The monkeys definitely come off better than the humans in this amazing memoir. Could it really be true?
Faced with her son Jake’s diagnosis of severe autism, Kristine refuses to give up on her child. In the process of helping Jake grow and flourish, she discovers new ways of encouraging autistic children to develop by igniting their “spark.” Turns out Jake is a genius with an IQ higher than Einstein who is now doing advanced research into quantum physics.
This devastating memoir documents Hornbacher’s struggles with anorexia and bulimia from a very young age. Eating disorders plague her into young adulthood and she barely survives. For anyone trying to understand these complex mental illnesses, Wasted is a gripping and terrifying account by an intelligent young woman. Not for the faint of heart.
Here’s one for history fans. The Great Pearl Heist is a romp through Edwardian London on the trail of some very smart jewel thieves. Joseph Grizzard and his gang have just stolen the most valuable string of pearls ever known. But will they get away with it? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Wave: A Memoir
By Sonali Deraniyagala
The tsunami of 2004 took Deraniyagala’s entire family—children, husband and both parents-- while they were holidaying on the Sri Lankan coast. How does a person bear such grief? This is not a happy memoir but it is moving and skillfully written.
This book tells the story of the wealthy and cultured Ephrussi family. De Waal inherits a collection of small Japanese carvings known as Netsuke from his uncle in Tokyo. In trying to learn more about the carvings he uncovers a compelling family history.
Did You Know?
You can download free music from the Library! Freegal database, accessible via the Library’s website (, lets you download three songs per week. Search songs, albums and music videos. Downloads are all in MP3 format (or MP4 format for videos). Download directly to your iTunes account, or save to your computer. This service will work on almost any computer, player, tablet or smartphone. The Freegal Music mobile app is free in the Apple® App Store and in Google® Play. Once you’ve downloaded the song, it’s yours to keep! This week’s most popular downloads were Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, “Say Something” by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera and Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic.” Search for specific songs or browse hundreds of genres!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Listen to a Good Book from the ORL!

Let’s celebrate Spring with the sounds of eAudiobooks from the ORL!

Most know about the eAudiobooks found in popular digital book collections like ORL eBooks (and BC Libraries’ Library to Go), but did you know that eAudiobooks can also be found in some of the library’s other digital collections?

Check-out and download eAudiobooks from OneClickdigital

OneClickdigital is a fantastic source for eAudiobooks because you can find thousands of titles, including quite a few popular titles and bestsellers. Best of all, most of the eAudiobooks in the collection are always available for you to borrow, so you don’t have to sit on wait-lists.

eAudiobooks can either be downloaded to the free OneClickdigital Media Manager program, which is used to transfer the book to a compatible MP3 player or iPod, or they can be downloaded and enjoyed using the OneClickdigital App on iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire mobile devices.  

Find out how to get started with borrowing eAudiobooks from the OneClickdigital collection on the ORL website:

Stream eAudiobooks from the TumbleBookCloud & TumbleBookCloud Junior collections

Did you know that there are over a hundred eAudiobooks that you can listen to by streaming them on the internet browser of a computer, from TumbleBookCloud and TumbleBookCloud Junior? The eAudiobooks in these two collections can even be enjoyed on the browser of a tablet* and the books are great for kids and teens.

TumbleBookCloud features books for tweens and teens in middle and high school (and have a lot of titles found in language arts curriculum). Many of the titles can be enjoyed by adult audiences, too, as it can be a great way to consume the classics of literature.

TumbleBookCloud Junior features books that are fun for kids that are in grade three to six.
Some of the perks of these two collections are that there is no need to check-out the book or download extra software. After choosing a book, just hit the “Listen Online” button to start the book right away. Every title in these collections are always available – you just need an internet connection to listen to the book.

To find the eAudiobooks in TumbleBookCloud: Click on the “Audio Books!” link found near the top of the site.

To find the eAudiobooks in TumbleBookCloud Junior:  Click on the “audio books” link found underneath the Our Collection heading.
*Some of the book types offered in TBC and TBC Jr, such as ebooks marked as Read-Alongs and Graphic Novels (which feature sentence highlighting and narration) require Flash, so are not mobile device compatible. TumbleBooks is working on making all of their titles mobile compatible, though!
You can visit each of the collections mentioned above by clicking on the “View all Digital Resources” button found on the ORL homepage, Library membership gives you lots of ways to enjoy eAudiobooks, try one out today!


Each month, the ORL will be featuring one or some of its eResources. Library membership gives ORL patrons access to a wide range of eResources that can be accessed from home and in the library. These eResources can be used for reading and enjoyment, to help you with your research needs, or to learn new things.

Bring the library to your home today!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: The Doomsday Book

 The Doomsday Book (1992) by Connie Willis, a multiple Hugo-and-Nebula-award-winning author, is a storytelling triumph, a blend of classic science fiction and historical reconstruction. Kivrin, a history student at Oxford in 2048, travels back in time to a 14th century English village, at a time dangerously close to the onset of the Black Plague. When the technician responsible for the procedure falls prey to a 21st century epidemic, he accidentally sends Kivrin back not to 1320 but 1348—right into the path of the Black Death.   

Unaware of the error at first, Kivrin becomes deeply involved in the life of the family that takes her in. But she soon discovers the truth and confronts the horrible, unending suffering of the plague that would wipe out half the population of Europe. She also discovers she is trapped in time while her rescuers in 21st century Oxford battle their own deadly epidemic and try to reach her in time.

 Willis brilliantly weaves two storylines together as she depicts a pair of closely knit communities that face equally frightening and unknown enemies. The author uses the language of time travel and advanced technologies to speak of human concerns and finds parallels that transcend time in the hopes, struggles and fears of her modern and medieval characters.

Review by Peter Critchley, Vernon Branch

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Review: The Mountain of Gold - High-seas Adventure

The Mountain of Gold (2012) is the buoyant sequel to the first novel by J.D. Davies (Gentleman Captain) that continues the valiant antics of Matthew Quinton, a young captain in King Charles II’s royal navy in 1663. This grand adventure begins when a captured Muslim pirate, who turns out to be an Irish renegade, tells Quinton a preposterous tale about a mountain of gold in Africa. King Charles, blinded by greed, does not hang the pirate but orders Quinton, his ship and the Irishman on an inauspicious expedition to Dutch-held West Africa to find the treasure.

 Before setting sail, Quinton attempts to passionately dissuade his older brother from marrying a mysterious French vixen who may have murdered her previous husbands, a marriage arranged by the king. Once out to sea, the captain’s mission is anything but straightforward—his own brother-in-law warns him that his mission to Africa must not succeed--and the complicated expedition tests his crew and England’s reputation as a maritime power to the utmost.

 Davies, a noted historian on the 17-century British navy, vividly captures the romance of high-seas adventure as well as the era’s politics, battles and tactics that shape his intrepid sea captain.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: The Religion - A Swashbuckling Epic Set Adventure!

The Religion (2007) by Tim Willocks is a swashbuckling epic set adventure that plunges readers into another world and time, a compelling tale of romance, courage and religious conflict on the island of Malta during the 16th century. The epic story details the medieval exploits of Capt. Matthias Tannhauser, a Saxon soldier of fortune with carnal appetite and a droll irreverence, and his unlikely journey to help French countess Carla La Penautier rescue her illegitimate son now trapped in a fundamentalist bloodbath between Christian and Muslim on Malta, an island under one of the most bloody and spectacular sieges in military history.

 Mattias, Carla and their companions must not only confront the invading Ottoman empire but a rogue Roman Inquisitor who happens to be the father of Carla’s lost child. Mattias and Carla do not even know the name of the boy, taken from her at his birth twelve years ago.

 The Religion is an epic novel and the first book in an epic trilogy. It is like a panel in a Renaissance triptych and is a vivid depiction of a world on the cusp of modernity. But like all great tales the characters are richly drawn, even flawed, and this imparts a gripping quality to the epic that even transcends the plot.
by Peter Chritchley, Reference Librarian at the Vernon Branch

Friday, March 21, 2014

Go Buggy for Books at the Okanagan Regional Library!

Spring into action by reading some great nature books! 

Captain Bob keeps a watchful eye on bugs everywhere in “Bug Patrol” by Denise Dowling Mortensen.  To find out if butterflies taste with their feet – just read “How Does a Caterpillar Become aButterfly? And other Questions about – Butterflies” by Melissa Stewart.  Reciting a romantic insect poem, such as “Lovebug Alone” to your favorite bug buddy is possible if you check out “BugOff! Creepy, Crawly Poems” by Jane Yolen. An early reader Spring series has “Animals in Spring” by Martha E.H. Rustad as one of its titles!

Of course, with spring comes frogs and baseball!  Join the frog family when they wake up in the spring and decide to get the other hibernating animals up too in “999 Frogs Wake Up” by Ken Kimura. Tiny tike sports fans will enjoy “Goodnight Baseball” by Michael Dael for the perfect bedtime book! Beginning readers will love the illustrations in “Springtime inBugland!” by David A. Carter where all the Bugland critters celebrate spring. 

Perhaps you are going away for Spring Break. Books to bring would be:   Lulu and theDog From the Sea” by Hilary McKay, a chapter book;  Paper Crafts” by Gini Holland which features gift wrap origami paper lanterns; and “The Ultimate Book of Family Card Games” by Oliver Ho.

For older creepy crawly fans, read “The Worm Whisperer” by Betty Hicks.  You can cheer on Ellison Ellis Coffey, a fifth grader, who discovers that he has a special gift of talking to bugs, and decides to use his new-found skills to enter in the town’s annual Woolly Worm Race!  Many teens will enjoy Meg Cabot’s “The Princess Present”, while others will race to read “The ForbiddenStone” by Tony Abbott. So enjoy spring and go buggy over books!
by Linda Youmans, Youth Collections/System Librarian