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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: Tapestry of Fortunes

Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg.

For those looking for a nice gentle read - look no further (well, you will have to eventually I suppose...) I would not consider this book to be something that has the capacity to truly impact your life or cause a great and wonderful shift in your perspective; but it does serve to tease out that knowledge that we all know deep-down...but too often chose to ignore: That we must make the most out of our life. This latest book by author Elizabeth Berg takes readers on a journey filled with quirky characters, glimpses of Americana, and a detour down that road some never travel; but many wish they had!

This story is narrated in the first person by the character Cece (a talented motivational speaker and amateur fortune-teller) who has found herself at a major cross-roads in her life. Grieving her recently deceased best friend Penny (who may or may not still speak to her at times); Cece finds the courage to make changes in her life that she had long put-off. In doing so; she finds her fortune is not the money in her bank account or the abundance of heirloom quilts she covets; but in the people she learns to love.

Review by Diana McCarthy, Falkland Community Librarian

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Review: The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

Graeme C. Simsion is a New Zealand-born Australian author, screen-writer, a playwright, and data modeller. He recently won the 2012 Victorian Premier's Unpublished Manuscript Award for his book, The Rosie Project.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was extremely amusing and clever.  If you a fan of  TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” you’ll most likely enjoy this novel.   Don, the protagonist, is wonderful portrayal of someone with Asperger’s.   He is a brilliant scientist, but hapless at social interaction embodying the essence of an “Aspie” who is utterly unaware of his tendencies.  Determined to find a wife, Don constructs a 16 page questionnaire to avoid actually dating.  “The Wife Project” is derailed when Rosie Jarman walks in with her “Father Project”.  As Don narrates the book in first person, the reader gets to share in his challenges of learning to live in an ordinary world, where he must navigate many situations that unsettle his scientifically calculated approach to daily existence.  Don has several talks/debates with himself about changing his plans/schedule as Rosie infiltrates his life. According to his questionnaire, Rosie is not a successful candidate for the “Wife Project” yet he is intrigued and a friendship forms. This novel is a wonderful evocation of two very different people developing a relationship and how they accommodate each other’s uniqueness.  The Rosie Project” is about recognizing yourself, and valuing who you are, while also recognizing your capability to change when necessary.

This review was written by Naomi Vancaillie, community librarian for the Peachland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dan Brown's Inferno - Perfect with Pasta and Merlot!

            Dan Brown’s latest novel: Inferno delivers an intriguing mix of art, history, suspense and drama. Set in Italy (at least for the bulk of the novel) the story begins with Dr. Robert Langdon awakening in a strange Italian hospital with no memory of how he got there or why there is a spiky-haired leather-clad woman hell-bent on killing him. With the help of a beautiful and brilliant young doctor; Dr. Langdon manages to escape and slowly begin putting the pieces of his last few days together. Armed with precious few physical clues, vague images of a silver-haired woman standing beside a blood-red river filled with corpses, and a quickly gathering group of unknown persons attempting to capture or kill him – the adventure begins.

            As with Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code; Dan Brown weaves a tale using clues hidden in and around famous literature, artwork and architecture. I found the story more interesting than his most recent: The Lost Symbol, but not nearly as engrossing as The Da Vinci Code. But if you are looking for a story that will entertain you, teach you some interesting history, and leave you mostly-guessing to the very end – try this one! Grab a cup of cappuccino (or a nice merlot,) enjoy a great pasta dinner, and then pick up this book to enjoy during your carbohydrate crash! And if you have a computer or tablet –keep it handy so you can take a peek at the venues and other works it references.

            And don’t forget that the library currently has a Quickread copy of this title as well as more copies available for regular hold. We can also help you find a great pasta recipe if you want to try something slightly more authentic than boxed pasta and sauce from a jar J

Review by Diana McCarthy, Falkland Community Librarian

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Gift That Keeps on Giving! Tablets and eReaders for Christmas this Year

The Gift That Keeps on Giving!

With Christmas approaching, are you thinking about giving the gift of gadgets?  eReaders (such as the Kobo Touch or Sony WiFi) and tablets (such as Apple or Android tablets) were popular gifts last year, and that trend will probably continue this year. Whether you are thinking about your retired mom, your jet-setting brother or a hard-to-buy-for teen, a gadget that allows access to all the treasures the library has to offer is sure to please!

The Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) offers thousands of eBooks for loan on various devices.  Here are some eBook tips from Reference staff at the Kelowna branch:

  • If you are shopping for a device, check that it is compatible with library eBooks.  Visit for a list of compatible devices  
  • Make sure your library card is up to date.   Please visit or phone your local branch to check the status of your card.   Branch location information is available on the ORL website ( )
  • For instructions on how to download eBooks to a particular device, email us at or visit our ‘eResources Help’ page ( on the ORL website

Choosing which eReader or tablet is best for you is a personal decision.  Library staff cannot make specific model recommendations, but they can suggest where to look for consumer/purchasing information.  Contact your local branch for help finding consumer reviews and advice.

When it comes to deciding between an eReader and a tablet, here are some points to consider. 

You may want an eReader if:
  • You will only be reading books (and not magazines or newspapers)
  • You want something lightweight
  • You plan to do a lot of reading in the sun
    • eReaders have less glare than tablets
  • You want longer battery life
    • eReader batteries can last from two weeks to a month, much longer than tablet batteries (which may last only up to a week)
  • You want to save money! ($100-$150 for an eReader versus $200-500 for tablets)

A tablet may be the way to go if:
  • You want to access a variety of applications
  • Digital magazines (the Zinio magazine collection, available via the ORL website)
  • Email
  • Video
  • Games
  • Apps (including different eBook apps)
  • You want a larger screen size

Most electronics stores will have different eReader/tablet models you can test drive.   Some things to look for: 
  • Which device is easiest to navigate?  Which device has the easiest on-screen keyboard to use?  Is one device’s touch screen more responsive than another? 
  • Which device gives you the best options to change the print/font size?
  • Which display screen looks the best?  Do you get too much glare from one screen?  Is another screen too dark?  What options are available to change the screen display?

Any questions?  Email us at, contact your local branch, or call our Kelowna Reference Department at 250-762-2800, Ext. 1416.  

by James Laitinen, Reference Supervisor, Kelowna Branch, Okanagan Regional Library



Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

                This is the fifth book for young adults written by this Australian author and recipient of several awards, prizes, and honours (including a very long stretch of time on the New York Times Bestseller List.) Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories of Nazi soldiers marching Jews through his mother’s small German village;  and set out to tell a story that would simultaneously educate and evoke a wide range of emotions from the reader…and it certainly delivers.

                Set during World War II and narrated by Death (as tired and frustrated a narrator as there ever was); the story follows a young girl and her struggles to find her place in a new foster family. Liesel Meminger arrives in Molching as a malnourished young child who has recently witnessed the death of her only brother and has been left to foster care by a mother who can no longer care for her. As Liesel finally begins to find her place in her new family and community, an unexpected visitor arrives with the power to destroy her and her new-found sense of home. Hiding a Jew in your basement is just not something good German families do – but none-the-less Liesel and her family open their home, their hearts, and their paint cans to this young man.

                Studded with moments of humour, sadness, and joy; this book will open your eyes to sides of Nazi Germany you may never have imagined. Though written for young adults; I found that many of the concepts, themes, and situations in this book are geared more towards an adult level of comprehension.  I would not consider this a “light” read, or one that will leave you with a sense that “all is right in the world”- but it is an excellent story that will make you very glad to have spent the time and effort! Stop by the library branch to reserve a copy today. You won’t be sorry!
Review by Falkland Librarian Diana McCarthy

Watch for the movie being released this Christmas! Which did you prefer - the movie or the book?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

These Tales Will Haunt You!

People are drawn to horror stories in much the same way as they are to the chaotic scene of a major car wreck. It is a terrible attraction that most people find impossible to not take at least a fleeting glimpse of the crash scene.

The most compelling tales of horror are equally hard to resist and Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 (2013) is a perfect example. This story slides you along as if you’re driving too fast in a rusty old wreck of a car on a dark, twisty road, with bald tires, no lights and hardly any brakes.

Victoria McQueen, otherwise known as the Brat, discovers she has the singular knack of finding lost things by focusing on the object in question while riding her bike, a Raleigh Tuff Burner. She is subtly carried away into a world that appears to be real as her own, accessed by the Shorter Way Bridge, a gateway that ceases to exist as soon as Victoria crosses back into our world with the found object.

Victoria does not understand her abilities and as she grows older she happens upon a woman with a bag of Scrabble game tiles she uses to divine answers to questions such as the ones Victoria asks. But the woman’s answers are less than satisfactory and it appears Victoria may well be in for some harrowing moments, particularly with Charles Manx.

Manx is the villain of the piece and arrives from a place called Christmasland, an astounding amusement park full of possibilities with as much light and happiness as a dark, stone prison cell.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013) by Neil Gaiman is a “slim and magical feat of storytelling genius” according to a recent review in The Library Journal.

The protagonist, an artist, returns to his childhood home in the English countryside to recover his memory of events that nearly destroyed him and his family. At that formative time the suicide of a stranger opened a gate for a murderous spirit who disguised herself as a housekeeper. The evil spirit won over the boy’s sister and mother, seduced his father and marked the boy for death if he ever told anyone the truth.

The plot rapidly evolves from reminiscent to scary to life-threatening and the protagonist, the anonymous narrator of the story, seeks the help of a warm and welcoming family of witches at a neighboring farm to combat the evil forces that are unleashed by his return.

Boneshaker (2009) by Cherie Priest is a novel written for the young adult audience. But it is an
immensely entertaining tale that will entertain adult readers of all ages.

Zombies, steam-powered technology, airships, pirates and mad scientists are all elements of the tightly-crafted story and the characters are as compelling as the intriguing plot.

Mad scientist Leviticus Blue creates a machine that accidentally decimates Seattle’s banking district and unearths a vein of blight gas that turns everyone who breathes into the living dead. Sixteen years later Briar, the mad scientist’s widow, lives in a poor neighborhood outside the wall constructed around the uninhabited city wasteland. Life is difficult and challenging for the widow, especially one saddled with a ruinous reputation. But she and her son Zeke are surviving, at least until Zeke impulsively decides that he must redeem his father’s reputation.

The Queen of Spades (1834) is a classic tale of terror by Alexandr Pushkin, one of the great Russian writers. It is a psychologically complex short story that probably still remains unsurpassed in all of Russian fiction.

Hermann, an ethnic German, is an officer in the Imperial Russian Army. He always watches other officers gamble but never plays himself. One evening a fellow officer, Tomsky, tells him about his grandmother, an elderly countess, who lost a fortune at cards and won it back with the secret of three winning cards.

Hermann, obsessed with learning the secret, confronts the 87-year-old countess and demands she tells him. She refuses, he brandishes his pistol to scare her and she dies of fright. When he attends the funeral of the countess, and passes by the coffin, he is terrified when the countess opens her eyes and steadily gazes at him.

Later that night the ghost of the countess appears before a shaken Hermann and she imparts the secret of the three winning cards. Hermann takes his entire savings to a salon where wealthy men play for high stakes.

Peter Critchley is a librarian at the Vernon library. All these titles and more are available at your Okanagan Regional Library

Friday, November 1, 2013

Try a New Author - Darynda Jones

Darynda Jones

Meet Charley Davidson aka The Grim Reaper. She is also a PI who solves cases because she can talk dead people. She is also pretty good at putting clues together and she is one tough cookie. In the first book First Grave on the Right she meets Reyes, who has a huge secret; one that might get Charley killed. This series is edge of your seat suspenseful while being a laugh a minute. It has already won lots of awards and if you like Paranormal Romantic Suspense this is a great series for you. Ms. Jones also writes a Young Adult series (that is a good series for adults too) with the first in the series being called Death and the Girl Next Door.
Recommended by Annette from Mission Branch