Book Club Kits Survey March 2014

It’s that time again – we want to know what your book clubs want to read! Below you will find the descriptions of the books on our Spring Book Club Survey.

To participate in the survey, please CLICK HERE. [SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED]

Signature of All Things By Elizabeth Gilbert
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly SMALL signature of all things

In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who—born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution—bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert’s wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.

The Supremes at Earl’s All You Can Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore SMALL the supremes at earls all you can eat
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat diner in Plainview, Indiana is home away from home for Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean.  Dubbed “The Supremes” by high school pals in the tumultuous 1960s, they’ve weathered life’s storms for over four decades and counseled one another through marriage and children, happiness and the blues.
Now, however, they’re about to face their most challenging year yet. Proud, talented Clarice is struggling to keep up appearances as she deals with her husband’s humiliating infidelities; beautiful Barbara Jean is rocked by the tragic reverberations of a youthful love affair; and fearless Odette is about to embark on the most terrifying battle of her life. With wit, style and sublime talent, Edward Kelsey Moore brings together three devoted allies in a warmhearted novel that celebrates female friendship and second chances.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen GrissomSMALL the kitchen house
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk. The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.

The Postmistress by Sarah BlakeSMALL The-Postmistress
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn’t deliver it.
Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can’t touch them. But both Iris and Frankie know better…
The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds-one shattered by violence, the other willfully naïve-and of two women whose job is to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history’s tide, it examines how stories are told, and how the fact of war is borne even through everyday life.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is “a darkly brilliant re-imagining of life under Henry VIII. . . . Magnificent.” (The Boston Globe).

Woman UpstairsThe Woman Upstairs By Claire Messud
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

Nora Eldridge is a reliable, but unremarkable, friend and neighbor, always on the fringe of other people’s achievements. But the arrival of the Shahid family—dashing Skandar, a Lebanese scholar, glamorous Sirena, an Italian artist, and their son, Reza—draws her into a complex and exciting new world. Nora’s happiness pushes her beyond her boundaries, until Sirena’s careless ambition leads to a shattering betrayal. Told with urgency, intimacy, and piercing emotion, this New York Times bestselling novel is the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed, and abandoned by a desire for a world beyond her own.

Austerlitz By W.G. Sebald SMALL austerlitz
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

This tenth anniversary edition of W. G. Sebald’s celebrated masterpiece includes a new Introduction by acclaimed critic James Wood. Austerlitz is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, Austerlitz follows their trail back to the world he left behind a half century before. There, faced with the void at the heart of twentieth-century Europe, he struggles to rescue his heritage from oblivion.

Diary of a Country Priest By Bernanos, Georges SMALL Georges_Bernanos_Diary_Of_A_Country_Priest_sm
Reviews: Kirkus | Amazon

In this classic Catholic novel, Bernanos movingly recounts the life of a young French country priest who grows to understand his provincial parish while learning spiritual humility himself. Awarded the Grand Prix for Literature by the Academie Francaise, The Diary of a Country Priest was adapted into an acclaimed film by Robert Bresson. “A book of the utmost sensitiveness and compassion…it is a work of deep, subtle and singularly encompassing art.” — New York Times Book Review

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson SMALL life-after-life
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Ursula’s world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization — if only she has the chance?
Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosely SMALL last days of ptolemy grey
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

Marooned in an apartment that overflows with mementos from the past, 91-year-old Ptolemy Grey is all but forgotten by his family and the world. But when an unexpected opportunity arrives, everything changes for Ptolemy in ways as shocking and unanticipated as they are poignant and profound.

You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness by Heather Sellers
you don't look like anyone i knowReviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

Heather Sellers is face-blind-that is, she has prosopagnosia, a rare neurological condition that prevents her from reliably recognizing people’s faces. Growing up, unaware of the reason for her perpetual confusion and anxiety, she took what cues she could from speech, hairstyle, and gait. The truth was revealed two decades later when Heather took the man she would marry home to meet her parents and discovered the astonishing truth about her family and about herself. In this uplifting memoir, Sellers illuminates a deeper truth: that even in the most chaotic and heartbreaking of families, love may be seen and felt.

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall SMALL whistling past the graveyard
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother’s Mississippi home. Starla’s destination is Nashville, where her mother went to become a famous singer, abandoning Starla when she was three. Walking a lonely country road, Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white baby. Now, on the road trip that will change her life forever, Starla sees for the first time life as it really is—as she reaches for a dream of how it could one day be.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan SMALL loving frank
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current. So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.
In this debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. Drawing on years of research, Horan weaves little-known facts into a compelling narrative, vividly portraying the conflicts and struggles of a woman forced to choose between the roles of mother, wife, lover, and intellectual.
Elegantly written and remarkably rich in detail, Loving Frank is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman, a national icon, and their timeless love story.

Happier at Home: kiss more, jump more, abandon a project, read Samuel Johnson, and my other experiments in the practice of everyday life / Gretchen Rubin By Gretchen RubinSMALL happier at home
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick—why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realized, with love for home itself. “Of all the elements of a happy life,” she thought, “my home is the most important.” In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home.
And what did she want from her home? A place that calmed her, and energized her. A place that, by making her feel safe, would free her to take risks. Also, while Rubin wanted to be happier at home, she wanted to appreciate how much happiness was there already.
So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicated a school year—September through May—to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love. Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions—and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well. 

The Perfume Collector By Kathleen Tessaro SMALL the perfume collector
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly

A remarkable novel about secrets, desire, memory, passion, and possibility.
Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.
Weaving through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary woman who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Immortalized in three evocative perfumes, Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is. The Perfume Collector explores the complex and obsessive love between muse and artist, and the tremendous power of memory and scent.

Between Shades of Gray By Ruta Sepetys SMALL between shades of gray
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
Author Q & A

A moving and haunting novel for readers of The Book Thief.
Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life–until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father’s prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive? This powerful tale of heartbreak and hope is sure to haunt readers long after they finish the last page.

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg Lean In
Reviews: Kirkus Publisher’s Weekly

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.
In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.”  She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home.
Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

We Recommend… The Lewis Man by Peter May

The Lewis Man: Book Two of the Lewis Trilogy
By Peter May


The Lewis Man is the second book in Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy.  In it, we continue to follow detective Fin Macleod and his fellow Hebridean islanders, as a young man’s body is discovered buried in the peat of Lewis Island.  When DNA shows the body to be related to Fin’s son’s maternal grandfather, Fin is determined to discover who the young man was and who murdered him.  Since the grandfather is lost in dementia, Fin has to follow a torturous path to get to the bottom of it all. May’s characters are so alive and the mystery so compelling that it becomes hard to put this book down.  The first book in the trilogy is titled The Black House, and it is worthwhile to read this one before The Lewis Man.

Review by Eileen Jaffe, Pinal County Library District Cataloger 

Book Club Kit: Great House

Great Housegreat-house-by-nicole-krauss
By Nicole Krauss
First Published: 2010
10 copies & Reading Guide

For twenty-five years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer’s life reeling. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers, among her papers, a lock of hair that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer slowly reassembles his father’s study, plundered by the Nazis in Budapest in 1944.

Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away. As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.

Great House is a story haunted by questions: What do we pass on to our children and how do they absorb our dreams and losses? How do we respond to disappearance, destruction, and change?

Nicole Krauss has written a soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.

Reading Guides (questions for discussion):
Lit Lovers
Oprah Magazine

The New York Times
The Nation

On the web:
Author Bio
Author InterviewPBS News Hour 

Similar Reads:
The End of the Land by David Grossman
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Tinkers by Paul Harding
Day for Night by Frederick Reiken

Enjoy Great House? Share your thoughts and comments below or over at Goodreads.

Book Club Kit: What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgotwhat-alice-forgot
By Liane Moriarty
First Published: 2012
10 copies & Reading Guide

Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she’s actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.

A knock on the head has misplaced ten years of her life, and Alice isn’t sure she likes who she’s become. It turns out, though, that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that has ever happened to Alice.

Reading Guides (questions for discussion):
Penguin Publishing
Author website Readers Guide

Booklist Online
Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews

On the web:
Author Bio
Author InterviewChick Lit Central

Similar Reads:
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch
The Last Letter from your Lover by Jojo Moyes
The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Enjoy What Alice Forgot? Share your thoughts and comments below or over at Goodreads.

Book Club Kit: The Secret Keeper

The Secret KeeperThe-Secret-Keeper
By Kate Morton
First Published: 2012
10 copies & Reading Guide

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything. 2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds–Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy–who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined. Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s, and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

Reading Guides (questions for discussion):
Simon & Schuster
Author website reader’s guide

Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Booklist Online

On the Web:
Author InterviewThe Sydney Morning Herald

Book trailer:

Similar Reads:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears
The Water’s Lovely by Ruth Rendell
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
In Falling Snow by Mary Rose MacColl

hoopla digital now available in Pinal County!

hoopla Web Banner

Apple-App-Icon SMALLGoogle-Play-Icon SMALL





The Pinal County Library District is excited to announce the public availability of thousands of movies, television shows, and music albums, all available for mobile and online access through a new partnership with hoopla digital – all you need is a valid library card!

All Pinal County Library District card holders can download the free hoopla digital mobile app on their Android or iOS device or visit to begin enjoying thousands of titles – from major Hollywood studios, record companies, and publishers – available to borrow for instant streaming or temporary download to their smartphones, tablets and computers.

hoopla digital has a simple sign-up and attractive, easy-to-use interface, so it’s easy to get to your listening and viewing experience. There’s also no waiting to borrow popular movies, TV shows, and albums. And hoopla digital’s automatic return feature eliminates late fees.

To access the system on your mobile device, you will need to first download the FREE hoopla digital app from the App Store on your Android or IOS device. Once you have downloaded the app to your device(s) and/or clicked on the hoopla digital link on our website you will be prompted to enter your email address, a password, your library card number, and your library card PIN number.

The system will validate that you are in good standing with the library, so that you may begin to browse, borrow, and enjoy the content.

Come see what all the hoopla’s about:

  • Once you borrow a title on one device it is automatically available via all devices with the hoopla digital app and via your PC web browsers (IE 8+, Firefox 12+, Safari 5+, Chrome 19+).
  • Within the hoopla app, you can access Pinal County Library District news via our news feed; this will help you stay aware of what’s going on at our branches.
  • When using hoopla you will be able to begin streaming the content immediately. You can also download content to view at a later date (in case you won’t have Wi-Fi on that camping trip).
  • You will be allowed to borrow 5 titles each month
    • Video lends for 3 days
    • Music lends for 7 days
    • You are able to access (view/listen to) borrowed content as often as you want during the checkout period and you can return any borrowed title whenever you want.
    • To learn more about this exciting new offering, please visit our site.

We hope you enjoy this new service and encourage you to share your experience on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

Book Club Kit: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunterheart-is-a-lonely-hunter
By Carson McCullers
First Published: 1940
10 copies & Reading Guide

When The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers’s literary debut, was first published by Houghton Mifflin, on June 4, 1940, the twenty-three-year-old author became a literary sensation virtually overnight. The novel is considered McCullers’s finest work, an enduring masterpiece that was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the top one hundred works of fiction published in the twentieth century.
Set in a small Southern mill town in the 1930s, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated. At the novel’s center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who is left alone after his friend and roommate, Antonapoulos, is sent away to an asylum. Singer moves into a boarding house and begins taking his meals at the local diner, and in this new setting he becomes the confidant of several social outcasts and misfits. Drawn to Singer’s kind eyes and attentive demeanor are Mick Kelly, a spirited young teenager with dreams greater than her economic means; Jake Blount, an itinerant social reformer with a penchant for drink and violence; Biff Brannon, the childless proprietor of the local café; and Dr. Copeland, a proud black intellectual whose unwavering ideals have left him alienated from those who love him.

Reading Guide: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Includes Questions for Discussion

The Big Read
The Washington Post

Similar reads:
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Enjoy The Heart is a Lonely Hunter? Share your thoughts and comments below or over at Goodreads.

Book Club Kit: Orphan Train

Orphan TrainOrphan Train
By Christina Baker Kline
First Published: 2013
10 copies & Reading Guide

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Reading Guide:
HarperCollins Publishers – Includes Questions for Discussion

Publishers Weekly

On the Web:
Official Author Website

Route Map of the Orphan Trains: 


Similar Reads:
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Enjoy Orphan Train? Share your thoughts and comments below or over at Goodreads.

Book Club Kit: Unbroken


Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken:  a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
By Laura Hillenbrand
First Published: 2010
10 copies & Reading Guide

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Includes Brief Synopsis, Author Information, Reviews, and Discussion Questions

Kirkus Reviews
New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post

On the web:
Official Author Website
Unbroken (Film) – Release date December 25, 2014
Interview with Louis Zamperini on CBS Sunday Morning:


If you enjoyed Unbroken, you also might like:
Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian’s Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II By Louis Zamperini
My Private War: Liberated Body, Captive Mind: A World War II POW’s Journey by Norman Bussel
Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley

Did you enjoy Unbroken? Shall your thoughts in the comments below.

Picture Book Month – November 2013

November is Picture Book Month! Founded by Dianne de Las Casas and recently supported by the American Association of School Librarians, the campaign hopes to promote the continued existence of picture books in a digital age. Throughout the month different authors and illustrators discuss the importance of picture books on the Picture Book Month website.

Additionally, organizers have created a calendar featuring different themes for each day of November. These themes can be helpful in setting up book displays, planning story times, or simply in choosing something new to read!  Below you’ll find some books available within Pinal County Libraries that fit each theme.

Looking for more? Try Tumblebook Library, an eBook site for kids!
Spanish language options can be found at Biblioteca Tumblebook, or by searching the library catalog.


November 1 – Food – From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
November 2 – Alphabet/Counting - Count Your Blessings by Patti Reeder Eubank
November 3 – History – Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (2013 NYT Top 10 Best Illustrated Books Award)
November 4 – Friendship – One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo/Illustrated by David Small (2013 Caldecott Honor Book)
November 5 – Nature – Blue Sky by Audrey Wood
November 6 – Mice – The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (2010 Caldecott Medal Winner)
November 7 – Royalty – King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood
November 8 – Bunnies – Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds/Illustrated by Peter Brown (2013 Caldecott Honor Book)
November 9 – World – Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (2013 Caldebott Honor Book)
November 10 – Writing – Once Upon a Baby Brother by Sarah Sullivan
November 11 – Seasons – Coyote Concert on a Full Moon Night by Carol Whelihan-Scherer
November 12 – Bears – Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
November 13 – Books – We’re Going on a Book Hunt by Pat Miller/Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westscott
November 14 – Zoo – Pssst! by Adam Rex (Local Arizona author!)
November 15 – Cats & Dogs – Please Take Me for a Walk by Susan Gal
November 16 – Sea – Shimmer & Splash by Jim Arnosky (School Library Journal Pick of the Day)
November 17 – Robots – Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell
November 18 – Monkeys – Happy Thanksgiving, Curious George by Cynthia Platt
November 19 – Dinosaurs – Tea Rex by Molly Schaar Idle
November 20 – Libraries/Librarians – The Fox in the Library by Lorenz Pauli
November 21 – School – The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson/Illustrated by Ard Hoyt
November 22 – Bugs – Bugs in My Hair! By David Shannon
November 23 – Elephants – Elephants Cannot Dance by Mo Willems
November 24 – Birds – Ten Birds by Cybele Young (2011 Govenor General’s Award)
November 25 – Frogs – I’m a Frog by Mo Willems
November 26 – Clothing – This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (2013 Caldecott Medal Winner)
November 27 – Reptiles – Franklin’s Thanksgiving by Paulette Bourgeois/Illustrated by Brenda Clark
November 28 – Holidays – Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac/Illustrated by Greg Shed (Grades 3 – 5)
November 29 – Monsters – I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll/Illustrated by Howard McWilliam
November 30 – Jungle – What to do if an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson