Category Archives: New Books

Gardening inspiration – new and classic titles

New and classic gardening books are always inspirational at this time of year. Call number area include 639.5 (gardening), 581s (botany and plants), 712.6 (Landscaping). We even have e-book titles !

Gardening with Native PlantsReal gardens grow nativesEncyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants





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Filed under Non-fiction, Uncategorized

On Our Reader’s Shelves – Volume 2

Skagit readers are continuing to submit book reviews for the WARM reading challenge! All are welcome to participate by submitting a review at the library or via our website. All reviewers are entered into the WARM raffle and will have the chance to win a Kindle Fire table, gift certificates to Easton’s Books and Chuckanut Manor, book gift baskets, and MORE!

Here are some of the latest reviews submitted by WARM participants. My to-read list is certainly growing!

my sunshine awayMy Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

Reader’s verdict:

This novel begins with this line: “There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson…” But the central character of M.O. Walsh’s debut novel is not Lindy Simpson, but rather the unnamed narrator of the story–the teenage boy across the street–who is obsessed with Lindy Simpson in a typical teen male sort of way. He sees himself at the center of life’s happenings–how does this impact my life he seems to ask. And he tells the story of the years just before and after this incident as he looks back on it years later as an adult. As a teenager he’s often self-centered and insensitive to the feelings of those around him, while as an adult he apologizes for his lack of compassion and understanding. If you like coming-of-age stories, and tales of suspense where information is slowly revealed you’ll enjoy My Sunshine Away.


Band of BrothersBand of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose

Reader’s verdict:

Stephen E. Ambrose brings history to life, and this book about 101st Airborne’s heroic efforts in WWII is no exception. Being at the tail end of the baby boomers, I grew up with movies like the Battle of the Bulge and A Bridge Too Far. Band of Brothers personalizes those stories and fills in many of the details left out by feature films. Speaking of feature films, the HBO series Band of Brothers is on the library shelves, and it is really well made. I actually watched the series last fall and decided afterwards that I wanted to read the book.



landlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell

Reader’s verdict:

After two successful Teen novels, “Landline” (Rowell’s second adult novel) looks at relationships–how they evolve, what one partner may give up in the name of love and keeping the peace, and how a soulmate/friend who’s not your spouse can fit into the mix–or not. Georgie and Neal have been together since college, and his needs have taken a backseat to her career as a sitcom writer with best friend Seth. But when Georgie chooses work over family at Christmas time, Neal leaves and takes their two daughters to spend the holiday with his family in Omaha. Georgie is afraid her choice may be the final straw in a relationship that has been all give for Neal, and all take for Georgie. When her cell phone dies, she discovers an old landline at her mother’s home and uses that to call Neal. But as her voice travels across the miles, it also travels back in time–to a Christmas when they were just dating, and Neal was trying to reconcile the fact that we was in love with Georgie with the idea that her life and dreams would control their future. As Georgie talks to Neal-in-the-past over several days, she questions whether the life they’ve lived has been fair to Neal, and if he might have been better off without her. Rowell’s characters are believable and likeable, and while I was rooting for Georgie and Neal to stay together, I appreciated the friendship between Georgie and Seth, and the witty banter between them as they worked together on their next big project.

What are you reading now? Tell us in the comments!




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Filed under Adult programs, Audiobooks, Books, E-books, Library events, New Books, Reading

March Madness has begun!

We’re mad about books all month during March Madness at the Burlington Public Library! We’ve got 16 of your favorite books from 2014 matched up, and it’s up to you to decide who will prevail. Are you a fan of adult fiction, nonfiction, young adult, or children’s books? They’re all in the running. Competition will ramp up all month with elite eight and final four games, and a championship round at the end of the month.

The first round – Sweet 16 Match-Ups –  is open for voting until Saturday. Come by the library to cast your vote, or tell us in the comments!

Sweet Sixteen Match-ups

the-hunger-games-book-cover VS.  divergent-book-cover2

Boys in the Boat cover VS. story-wild-book-cover-4254.jpg

The-Invention-of-Wings-Sue-Monk-Kidd VS. The-All-Girl-Filling-Stations-Last-Reunion-Fannie-Flagg

tartt VS. the-luminaries

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney VS. Eleanor and Park(2)

Fault in Our Stars VS. we are water

i am malala VS. unbroken

sycamorerow VS. gone girl

Which do you think will make it to the Elite 8 round?

– Jenny


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Filed under Adult programs, Books, E-books, Fiction, Library events, New Books, Non-fiction, Reading

ALA’s Notable Books: A Potential Hold List

The American Library Association recently released their picks for notable books in 2015. I’m adding pretty much all of these to my “To-be-read” pile (and putting them on hold at the library) – maybe you’ll want to, too! Here are a few that I found especially intriguing:

all the light we cannot see


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Several patrons and friends have told me that this is one of the best historical fiction novels that they’ve read this year – I’m excited to find out for myself.



children act


The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Sadly, I have yet to finish an Ian McEwan novel, despite his reputation as a masterful storyteller. I think I’ll have to give another try with this book, though.




crane wife


The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

I love Ness’ other books (especially A Monster Calls) but I’ve never read one of his adult novels. I will probably listen to the Decemberist’s album of the same name while I’m at it.



station eleven


Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel

I love everything apocalyptic, and this one has been described to me by other BPL colleagues as “apocalypse light.” I can’t wait to see what that means!




Are there any other books on ALA’s list that you’re looking forward to or have already enjoyed? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts!

– Jenny


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Filed under Books, Fiction, New Books, Non-fiction, Reading, Uncategorized

“The Martian” Fuses Science with Hilarity

The_Martian_2014“The Martian” opens with a freak dust storm, forcing manned Mars Mission Ares 3 to cut its journey short. Astronaut Mark Watney is pierced by debris while his crew scrambles to the safety of their spacecraft. When his vital signs flat-line, the crew makes the difficult decision to embark for Earth without him. But after a miraculous turn of events, Watney recovers to find himself alone on the red planet. Traveling to Mars takes years, so it’s likely that he will starve or succumb to the harsh, unforgiving conditions of his new home before a rescue mission arrives. No danger of that, though, because why would NASA rescue a dead guy?

Through a series of journal entries riddled with humorous commentary, readers learn that Watney is the mission’s fix-it man, in addition to a botanist and a snarky (yet cautious) optimist. Watney overcomes setbacks with the resourcefulness of TV’s MacGyver, using his meager assortment of supplies and raw materials to improve his chances of survival. From supplementing his food by farming potatoes to making water out of thin air, Watney shows again and again that while he was one of the first astronauts to walk on Mars, he’s not ready to be the first to die there. That is, if he doesn’t die by overexposure to the cheesy 1970s sitcoms and disco music that the crew commander left behind.

Watney’s sense of humor turns this tale of survival into something new and unique. It’s more lighthearted than one might expect, and while some may find that refreshing, the cheerful quips occasionally struck me as unrealistic given the circumstances. Author Andy Weir’s language and format make the scientific elements comprehensible to nonscience geeks (like me), although I found myself skimming through lengthy descriptions to get back to the action.

Overall, excitement and laugh-out-loud dialogue make this novel an excellent pick for general fiction readers as well as thrill-seekers. Die-hard science fiction fans will especially appreciate Weir’s technical writing. (Please note that strong language laces Watney’s journal entries and may not appeal to everyone.)

It’s something of a miracle that Weir, a computer programmer by trade, crafted a debut novel that crawled its way from self-published anonymity to the desk of director Ridley Scott. Scott’s proven success with “Alien” and “Gladiator” foretells that the forthcoming film may prove to be a 2015 blockbuster. Don’t wait for the movie release, though; get your hands on the book everyone will be talking about before it hits the big screen. In the meantime, check out these similar titles available at Skagit libraries: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury; The Martian Race by Gregory Benford; and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

Note: I originally wrote this review for On Our Shelves, a weekly column in the Skagit Valley Herald. Read the Sunday edition to check out what library staff around the county are reading.

– Jenny


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Filed under Books, Fiction, Libraries, Movies, New Books, Reading

Everything in order

The library has a new system for ordering books!  Now you can see what we’ve ordered for the collection, even before the items arrive at the library!  Just look for titles in the catalog that list “On order” as their status.  If something catches your eye, you can always place a hold on it, and we’ll let you know when it arrives at the library.


We’re also happy about the new book ordering system because many of our purchase orders and invoices are now electronic, which saves us time. This means that we can devote more time to tracking down excellent materials to add to our collection!

As always, if there’s a title that you think we should purchase for the library, you can let us know.


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Filed under Catalog, New Books

Great new reads

red hot reads

With or Without You, by Dominica Ruta
This best-selling memoir is being compared to Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Zimmel, and James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces.  Ruta grew up  north of Boston, with a mother that began sharing her addiction to Oxycontin with her when Ruta was a teenager.  If you like the reading about the challenges of dysfunctional family and addiction, this is one to watch for.

Untouchable, The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson, by Randall Sullivan
What is it about Michael Jackson that continues to fascinate us?  Here is a hefty tome “of unprecedented depth”  by a former editor for Rolling Stone magazine.  Pages of photographs completes the work.

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, by Matt Kepnes
Can’t afford to travel, you say?  Learn the tricks of free airfare and much more in this book by a long-time travel blogger.  Great way to stoke your daydreams.


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Filed under Books, New Books, Non-fiction, Reading

Happy Birthday, Paul Theroux

April 10 is Paul Theroux’s birthday.  A somewhat controversial figure – he managed to get himself thrown out of the Peace Corps – he wrote a large body of work, both fiction and non-fiction, nearly all of them featuring travel in some way.  He started writing in 1967 and published his latest book, The Lower River, last year.

We have nine of his books, including his most famous, The Mosquito Coast, which was made into a movie starring Harrison Ford and River Phoenix.

Theroux being a sort of patron saint of travel writers, here’s a look at some of our great collection of non-fiction travel.  If you can’t afford a trip this year, don’t let that slow you down.  You can go wherever you want, at your library.



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Filed under Authors, Books, Non-fiction, Reading

Women in Flight


Lately there’ve been quite a slew of books featuring flying women, and they all seem fascinating.

Eighty days : Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s history-making race around the world, by Matthew Goodman, is the tale of a rollicking and true adventure: an 1889 race around the world, a la Phineas Fogg.  Non-fiction narrative that reads like a novel, you’ll enjoy the suspense, the competition, and the snapshot of what it was to be a woman in those days.

The Aviator’s Wife, by Melanie Benjamin, is the opposite: a fictional interpretation of actual events.  Benjamin brings to life the famous Anne Morrow Lindberg, a pilot, poet, and mother, who lived in the shadow of her famous husband, Charles Lindbergh.

And The Secretary: a Journey with Hillary Clinton…., by Kim Ghattas, offers a you-are-there glimpse of an enigmatic American figure.  Fly all over the world with Hillary and see if you don’t know her better when you finish.

And of course, they’re all available for you at your library!


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Filed under Authors, Books, New Books, Non-fiction

Books on order

Here are a few books we have on order for you to look forward to:

Lifesaving Lessons: Notes from an Accidental Mother, by Linda Greenlaw
You may recognize this author’s name: she’s the first female swordfish boat captain in the U.S., and was made famous in The Perfect Storm.  In this book she faces another sort of storm, when an abused teenager shows up on her island and she ends up taking the teen in.











Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Industry Hooked Us, by Michael Moss
New York Times Pulitzer-winning reporter takes on America’s most widespread addiction.  How did it start, what are the results, and what can we do?  If you can’t keep your hands off those french fries or Snickers bars, this will show you why.


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Filed under New Books, Non-fiction, Reading