The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

The thrilling adventures of Lovelace and BabbageBy Padua, Sydney.

*The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

Padua’s webcomic finds agency in this alt-history graphic novel about the real-life collaborations of young Ada Lovelace (a daughter of poet Lord Byron) and genius mathematician Charles Babbage. Babbage’s life work was to invent an analytical machine, commissioned by Queen Victoria. Lovelace studied math and science in an effort to avoid her father’s poetry madness, and translated one of Babbage’s books; her detailed notes are recognized as examples of early writing on computer programming. The chapters are populated by several other Victorian luminaries and delightful steampunk antics and have extensive footnotes and endnotes to enhance this witty and compelling fantasy.

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The Sculptor

The sculptorBy McCloud, Scott, 1960-

Scott McCloud is “an internationally-recognized authority on comics and visual communication, technology, and the power of storytelling, McCloud has lectured at Google, Pixar, Sony, and the Smithsonian Institution”. (PUB)
Sculptor tells the story of a young artist who makes the proverbial deal with the devil (who appears as his deceased Great Uncle Harry), exchanging time (200 days) for enhanced ability at his craft. David struggles for recognition in the stultifying New York art world of investors and gallery owners: doing sculpture is the only value his life has and he has no plan B. As he uses up his precious days left, he falls in love. Of course, this changes everything and drives the story to its conclusion. McCloud wrote the story and did the art work for this stunning graphic novel.
You might enjoy these other books by Scott McCloud: Zot! (1987-1991 compilation), Understanding Comics (1994), Reinventing Comics (2000), Making Comics (2006).

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Love Stuff

Love stuff [sound recording]By King, Elle

A patron recommended this artist to me, and I'm glad I has the follow-through to check into it. The artist’s name is Elle King. King seems to be influenced by rock ‘n’ roll, old and new, as well as pop and country. King has a rusty sounding voice, reminiscent of Wanda Jackson and possibly, and oddly, Tegan and Sarah. Her debut album, Love Stuff, is well polished. The overall production is great. Guitars with effects, organs, and catchy riffs make this an exciting album to explore. It’s rebellious, rocking, occasionally soft, and easy to press play and keep listening to. Elle King should feel proud of this exceptional debut album.

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My Sunshine Away

My sunshine awayBy Walsh, M. O. (Milton O'Neal).

Author M. O. Walsh immerses us in the heat, the beauty and the underlying unease of his native Louisiana in this Southern gothic style tale of the folks on Piney Grove Avenue in Baton Rouge, in particular the life of one young man and his adolescent obsession with the girl across the street.
What lies behind the doors of this seemingly charming neighborhood are the intimate stories of growing up, of heart-break and tragedies, of family life, of young love, and of monsters posing behind masks of suburban civility. The narrator is a man looking back on his teenage years seamlessly jumping back and forth in time, who finds it necessary to share from memory, in often charming detail, a particularly earth-shaking year of his life, when a horrible crime took place on this street, and how, over time, despite his best intentions, he came to accept his role in this event. A big-hearted page-turner. Available in print and as a BOCD, read by Kirby Heyborne.

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PrideBy Matthew Warchus

Pride is an exuberant film homage to the real-life group of London young people known as Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) who, in 1984-1985, raised funds and collected goods for striking Welsh coal miners and their families. When the LGSM decides to visit the town where their donations are going, a culture clash ensues but with dogged dedication by a few townspeople, fear and apprehension gradually turns to trust and gratitude, to the extent that the support of the Miner's Union influenced Thatcher's Labour party platform in favor of gay rights in England. While maintaining a generally light-hearted tone, the film does address some serious political and social issues. A great ensemble cast and direction almost deliver the feeling of a seasoned Broadway production: neither the pace nor the enthusiasm ever lags. Pride, directed by Matthew Warchus and starring veteran British actors Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West and Paddy Constantine, comes highly recommended by this viewer.

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In the Unlikely Event

In the Unlikely EventBy Blume, Judy

Once again Judy Blume proves she is unforgettable, an author for all ages and times. Her latest work, which was many years in the making, is an adult novel based on a succession of plane crashes that happened during her own teenage years. In 1951, WWII is still a fresh memory, the situation in Korea is a current threat, but air travel is something new and exciting for everyone. Elizabeth, New Jersey is a quiet town where the community mostly knows one another, and which lays directly in the flight path for Newark Airport. Miri Ammerman is a fifteen year old girl, with a loving family, a lot of friends, and in love for the first time. Her life is pretty near perfect when the first plane crashes into the Elizabeth River. Judy Blume paints a thorough picture of a town and community in disbelief and shock. Much like a good Maeve Binchy novel, we are allowed insights into many different characters. Blume’s characters are well developed and their reactions believable. Friends, acquaintances and family members are all affected by the tragedies. Mira’s positive outlook on life begins to harden as things worsen, her best friend Natalie begins to withdraw into herself, and Miri’s Uncle Henry, a reporter for the town’s newspaper, becomes well known for his stories covering the crashes. So many other characters and subplots contribute to this novel, which simply put, is a good story. Thirty years later Miri returns to Elizabeth for an event commemorating the crashes. At which point the reader is lucky enough to see what became of Miri and many other characters after the crashes turned their lives upside down. Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event does not disappoint.

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Borrowed Crime

Borrowed crimeBy Cass, Laurie author.

My favorite fictional bookmobile librarian and her cat are back in this third installment of Laurie Cass’ cozy mystery series. Minnie Hamilton is the assistant director of a small-town library in Chilson, MI (an imaginary city between Petoskey and Charlevoix). She also operates the bookmobile, with Eddie the cat riding along. One day, her volunteer assistant can’t make the day’s bookmobile run, so the volunteer sends her husband in her place. When he gets shot outside a gas station during their break, the police rule it a hunting accident. Minnie isn’t so sure. But if it’s murder, was he the actual target, or is someone still after his wife?

With the turning of the seasons, Minnie is staying with Aunt Frances at the boarding house, rather than on her houseboat. Restauranteur Kristen is wintering in Florida. There’s a strange and surly new neighbor across the street from the boarding house. The atmosphere Cass has created makes reading these books feel like visiting with friends.

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Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Under the wide and starry sky : a novelBy Horan, Nancy

Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a fictionalized account of the real life love story between Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and an American woman named Fanny Osbourne during the late 1800s. The two are first introduced to each other at an artists’ colony in France, where Fanny and her children have gone to escape her unfaithful husband and start a new life. They fall in love and begin their life together, which includes travelling the world for various reasons, going everywhere from Europe to California to Samoa. The book recounts how Fanny supports Stevenson’s work and cares for him during his many illnesses, while also searching for her own artistic identity. It also provides a great portrait of Stevenson’s personality, fame, and career. Overall, I think this is a great book for fans of historical fiction. It features strong, independent characters, especially Fanny, and exciting adventures.

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The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

The haunting of Sunshine girlBy McKenzie, Paige,

Paige Mackenzie is the twenty-year old star of the hit YouTube series, The Haunting of a Sunshine Girl. She films two-minute videos about the paranormal activity in her home. She and her C-list celebrity mother (Mercedes Rose) and some no-name producer have parlayed that into a book and film deal. I watched the first few episodes of Season 1 and was not enthralled, to say the least. Spoiler alert: It's all fake.

The young adult book of the same name, comes as quite a surprise. It's completely entertaining. Sunshine leads a rather insignificant life, unless you count the fact that she's adopted and her mother is one of her best friends. However right after her sixteenth birthday, destiny conspires to move her and her mom from sunny Texas to dreary Washington State. Their new home is creepy. Sunshine struggles to stay warm and to understand the mildew smells and wet carpet patches that come and go, and the unseen hand moving checkers around on the board in her room. She connects with a boy from school, Nolan, drawn to his warm presence despite the gut-lurching nausea she feels every time she touches him. Sunshine begins to unravel the mystery of the spirit in her house with Nolan's help and discovers secrets about her own past. R.L Stine gave his eerie stamp of approval on this book and I think it's well-founded. Mackenzie, with co-author Alyssa Sheinmel, has paced this book perfectly. (Based on my viewing, albeit short-lived, of the Youtube series, I'm guessing that Sheinmel did most of the work.) The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was nearly as thrilling as Anna Dressed in Blood (Kendare Blake), which is singlehandedly the best ghost story I have ever read. I will be looking forward to the next installment.

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One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Created Christian America

One nation under God : how corporate America invented Christian AmericaBy Kruse, Kevin Michael, 1972-

Kruse’s meticulously-documented and well-written book debunks the notion that America’s founders deliberately created a "Christian" nation. In their effort to counter the effects of Roosevelt’s New Deal, corporate America successfully enlisted the religious right, and moving under the campaign slogan “freedom under God” elected Dwight Eisenhower as President. Religion and politics came together in the next few years (National Prayer Breakfast, inaugural prayers, services in the White House, “One nation, under God” added to the Pledge, “In God We Trust” added to our currency). This nod to a vague ceremonial deism was meant to unite Americans in a kind of generic public religion or religious nationalism. Getting down to specifics such as opposition to mandatory school prayer by some of the faithful, leaders of various religions disavowed this rather homogenized state religion, leaving it squarely in the hands of the religious right wing where it remains today.

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The Book of Speculation

The book of speculation : a novelBy Swyler, Erika.

Simon’s parents have both died, and he lives alone in their beach-front home, which is in disrepair and about to slide into the sea. One day, he receives unsolicited a rare old book from an antiquarian seller. It turns out to be the log book of a traveling carnival from the 1700s, and he recognizes some names from his family’s past. As Simon’s mother worked as a “mermaid” with a carnival, and his tarot-reading sister, Enola, also ran off to join one, Simon digs in and tries to discover why he was sent this book. The narrative switches back and forth in time so the carnival characters from the past come delightfully alive, alternating with Simon’s personal family story in the present. Swyler has a beautiful fluid writing style, and once caught up in her story, you just might read in one sitting.

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The kind mama : a simple guide to supercharged fertility, a radiant pregnancy, a sweeter birth, and a healthier, more beautiful beginning

The kind mama : a simple guide to supercharged fertility, a radiant pregnancy, a sweeter birth, and a healthier, more beautiful beginningBy Silverstone, Alicia

Despite being yet another celebrity-authored work (as if!), "The Kind Mama" has real value. If you're a vegan looking to conceive, are pregnant or want to raise your baby vegan, this book is absolutely for you. If you're a healthy eater, not necessarily vegan, who wants to avoid putting chemicals into her body and you are starting a family, this book is for you. Even if you're just a regular ol' lady who is ready to start a family, you will get something out of reading this book.

Silverstone writes with a conversational tone, making you feel as though you just arrived to a breastfeeding conversation at your local playgroup. Don't let the familiar cadence fool you though; Silverstone backs up her facts with peer-reviewed research and direct quotes from pediatricians, OB/GYNs, midwifes and doulas. Stand-out portions include the "For Gentlemen Only" sections in each chapter (Silverstone recommends handing the book to your male partner at that moment), recipes for fertility, pregnancy and beyond, and the chapter that explains options for labor and delivery. One staggering statistic she offers, is that a hospital makes around $9,280 on vaginal deliveries; a C-section birth provides hospitals with even more profit. Silverstone does an excellent job of laying out all the pros and cons of every delivery option and shares how her birth story didn't go as planned.

Silverstone spends too much time on making parenting/lifestyle choices based on the principles of karma; if you don't subscribe to that way of life, it could dampen your enthusiasm for the book (as it did for me). She also makes unrealistic assumptions about people's ability to afford the lifestyle she touts. Still, even if you're a mama just surviving, pick this book up at the library (for free) and get a little support from her Kind Mama network. You can visit her website for more tips and to get in touch with other like-minded mamas. Included in "The Kind Mama" are vegan recipes, an index of "kind" food, natural remedies for common ailments, resources and bibliographies.

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The Thing About December

The thing about DecemberBy Ryan, Donal, 1977-

"[A]nd everything was lovely and normal and comfortable and destroyed forever at the same time."

Lyrical and haunting, Donal Ryan’s The Thing About December, is another brilliantly written work from the author of The Spinning Heart. This short novel reminds me of a cross between Dostoevsky’s psychological insights and Chekhov’s brevity and description of the human condition. Each chapter depicts a month in one year of the life of Johnsey Cunliffe, a bullied and lonely man living in rural Ireland who has never really felt like he belonged. Johnsey, considered less than intelligent by the rest of town, is swept up by the changes around him that he is unequipped to handle. Each character you encounter is realistic, though as you get to know them, you may find yourself sometimes wishing they weren’t so believable. Manipulation and deceit run rampant around Johnsey. Though Mumbly Dave, my favorite character, is the one who tells tall tales, he is the most honest and genuine person Johnsey knows. Wonderfully written, soon the chapter months are passing quicker than you’d like, much like the months do in life. Bleak, yet full of delightfully humorous moments, this novel is not for the faint of heart.

"Interfered with or left alone, everything eventually turns rotten and dies."

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Popular: a memoir: vintage wisdom for a modern geek

Popular : a memoir : vintage wisdom for a modern geekBy Wagenen, Maya van.

At the urging of her mother middle school outcast Maya begins a social experiment at the beginning of her 8th grade year. She will spend the school year following the advice of Betty Cornell’s Guide to Teen-age Popularity, a book her father found which was written in 1951. Each month Maya conquers a chapter in the book. She follows advice about grooming (brushing her hair 100 times at night), posture (sit up straight!), and why and how to wear a girdle (yikes!), but Maya is determined to follow it all. It helps that Maya’s family is supportive and loving no matter what. Despite some heartache and a little embarrassment, Maya does not give up on her quest and is ultimately rewarded. She learns the greatest lesson toward the end of the year when she spends one month sitting at a different lunch table every day. Despite peoples’ differences, who they spend our time with and what they wear, Maya realizes that her classmates share a lot of the same insecurities fears, and hopes, and that just saying hello or going the extra mile in any direction can make a difference.

Maya is an insightful and witty young lady. She is truthful when she writes about her failures and frustrations, and her depiction of going to school in Brownsville, TX, on the border of Mexico, is a candid one, relating to the reality of drugs and lockdowns.

Maya’s journey is captured with honesty, including the good and bad, the failures and successes. She says Betty Cornell changed her life and it’s easy to see why. Popular is a refreshing and inspiring read. Proof that being popular isn’t what some might think is, it’s about being confident in who you are. A fun and interesting read for adults, and especially insightful for those younger teens still trying to figure things out. Highly recommended.

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Finding Jake

Finding Jake [sound recording]By Reardon, Bryan

Simon Connolly faces a parent’s worst nightmare when a shooting takes place at the local high school, with 13 dead. His daughter Laney escapes harm, but 17-year-old son Jake is nowhere to be found. Jake’s friend Doug is identified as the main shooter, killing himself after the attack. But was there a second shooter? Could it have been Jake? The police, the media, and other parents are all convinced Jake was involved. Simon, an insecure stay-at-home dad, and wife Rachel, a lawyer, have been struggling in their marriage lately, and this crisis breaks them further apart. Chapters alternate between the aftermath of the shooting and vignettes from Jake’s childhood. The tension starts out and remains high throughout. I was so afraid that a co-worker who listened to this before me might slip and give away the ending that I avoided her for a week! Narrator George Newbern does a fine job, especially in conveying Simon’s increasingly frantic emotional state.

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Award Winners & Bestsellers

Nobel Prize
2014 Prize in Literature
Patrick Modiano

National Book Award

2014 Prize for Fiction
by Phil Klay

2014 Prize for Nonfiction
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
by Evan Osnos

Newbery Medal
2015 award
The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander

Caldecott Medal
2015 award
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

y Dan Santat

Printz Award

2015 award
I'll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson

New York Times Fiction Bestsellers (top 5 combined print & e-book sales)
Go Set a Watchman
, by Harper Lee
, by E.L. James
The Girl on the Train
, by Paula Hawkins
, by Ernest Cline
All the Light We Cannot See
, by Anthony Doerr

New York Times Nonfiction Bestsellers (top 5 combined print & e-book sales)
Between the World and Me
,  by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Boys in the Boat
, by Daniel James Brown
Down the Rabbit Hole, by Holly Madison
Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari with Eric Klinenberg
The Wright Brothers
, by David McCullough


More Award Winners & Bestsellers

Following is a list of award-winning and bestselling materials from a variety of sources. Links will take you to an external page that will open in a new window. If YDL does not have an item you are interested in, please submit a Materials Suggestion to us.

Academy Awards

American Booksellers Association National Indie Bestsellers

Billboard Top 100 songs

Caldecott Medal

Coretta Scott King Award

New York Times Bestsellers

Newbery Medal

Printz Award