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Reviews
Review
First published 25 years ago, "The Killing Joke" may be one of the three finest Batman stories ever told. It's certainly the finest ever written about the Joker.

Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland, "The Killing Joker" has the Batman starting to boil over in his frustration with his green-haired foe. He knows how Harvey Dent became Two-Face, and that all his decisions come down to the flip of a coin. He knows that the Edward Nigma is the Riddler, and he understands the Riddler's compulsion to lead people on a chase. Ra's al Ghul, the Royal Flush Gang, Poison Ivy, the Penguin -- Batman gets the entire Gotham City rogues gallery, and knows how they work and why. But the Joker remains a mystery to him, and Batman wants to change that before it becomes too late and one of them kills the other.

The Joker, of course, has other plans.

In one of the most iconic scenes from the comic, the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon at point-blank range and paralyzes her. This event, which sidelined Barbara Gordon from being Batgirl for the next 25 years of comics, wasn't even the main attraction as far as the Joker was concerned. His goal is simply to drive her father, the police commissioner, insane.

"The Killing Joke" is the comic that cemented the Joker in readers' minds as a nihilistic madman, and one of the central themes of the comic is how far one bad day can take a person past the edge. Without knowing the details, the Joker alludes to the events that drove Bruce Wayne to become Batman, and assumes that Commissioner Gordon also has been pushed over the edge by what the Joker has done.

But what makes the story worth reading is that Moore depicts the bad day that pushed the Joker himself over the edge, when all his hopes and dreams came crashing down, when the bottom fell out of his world, and he plunged into the void.

Around the same time that DC Comics published "The Killing Joke," it also published Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Batman: Year One," which showcased the endpoint and genesis of Bruce Wayne's career as the Caped Crusader, and that established him as an antihero with mental health issues of his own. Add "The Killing Joke" to the mix, and there's nothing else DC has published that comes even close to their level.
Title
The Killing Joke
Author
Alan Moore
Rating
5
Your First Name
Dav
Review
Brian McLaren is a pastor and well-known voice in what has been called the emerging church, a movement among post-evangelical Christians away from the popular stereotypes of moral scolds, right wing politics, and generally unpleasant behaviors and ideologies.

"A New Kind of Christianity" is one of McLaren's attempts not only to deconstruct some of the more difficult aspects of evangelical Christianity, such as its belief in the eternal torment of those outside the camp, but also to understand better what Jesus and his disciples meant in their original first-century context. From there, he projects forward, to how this different understanding could affect the relationship churches and Christians have with the larger society, with members of other religions, with gays and lesbians, and so on.

McLaren begins his book by tracing the influence of Greek philosophy on a collection of writings that came from a Hebrew culture with radically different views of evil, God and human nature. From there, he makes the argument that some doctrines held firmly by many evangelicals reflect a perspective that would have seemed alien and baffling to biblical authors and their audience, such as the belief in the eternal, conscious torment of sinners at the hands of a loving God.

After this and related arguments -- for example, that Jesus should be the lens Christians understand other biblical writers through, rather than viewing Jesus through the lens of Paul or later philosophers -- McLaren lays out a sweeping ethos for how he believes the church should address social issues such as same-sex marriage, war and the military-industrial complex, religious pluralism, environmental responsibility, and so on.

The book is challenging, and thought-provoking; and even among those not inclined to agree with McLaren and his conclusions, the questions he raises should lead to deep and meaningful discussions.
Title
A New Kind of Christianity
Author
Brian McLaren
Rating
4
Your First Name
David
Review
26 short stories about people living with HIV, so no one else has to go through what they did.
Title
Konversation in the Dark
Author
Vanessa G. Cheek
Rating
0
Your First Name
Polly
Review
The book is about Anne, a highly educated woman, losing her marriage, kids and home to addiction. She built herself backup and shared her life story with everyone.
Title
They Said I was Dead
Author
Anne McManus
Rating
5
Your First Name
Polly
Review
I expect that just about everyone in the United States knows about Archie Andrews and the rest of its gang. Even if you didn't grow up watching "The Archies" in syndication, it's impossible to avoid the Archie digests at the supermarket. Archie Comics aren't as big as Spider-man, but they're every bit as much a part of America.

And that's what makes "Afterlife with Archie" such a treat. In a nutshell, Sabrina the Teenage Witch does something with good intentions, and inadvertently brings the zombie Apocalypse to Riverdale. Before long the zombies are chowing down at Pop's Diner; they're coming to the high school dance; and Archie and his gang are running for their lives, while hell comes nipping at their heels.

There's an undeniable comic appeal to a story that blends two pictures as contradictory as the horrorific Walking Dead and the idyllic Riverdale, and "Afterlife with Archie" definitely enjoys that appeal. But aside from the goofy charm that comes from such a juxtaposition, the story itself is well told. Betty and Veronica are still rivals for Archie's affections, but with a sharper edge than usually shows in traditional Archie tales; Reggie is still selfish and self-absorbed, but with graver consequences than before; and other, minor characters from the Archie universe emerge with new and sometimes more disturbing wrinkles than they otherwise ever might have shown.

Throughout the entire volume, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa manages to create a zombie story that is both unnerving and thoroughly human, as Archie and members of his supporting cast come face to face with soulless monsters who used to be loved ones, and must make the horrible choices they need in order to live.

If you're a teen or older, and you have only vague recollections (or better) of Archie and his ilk, do yourself a favor and read this collection when you can. It's scary fun.
Title
Afterlife with Archie
Author
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Rating
4
Your First Name
Dav
Review
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party is the twelfth book in Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Mma Ramotswe doesn't quite solve the mystery this time but, as always, finds a solution that solves the basic problem, ending a feud between neighbors and preventing further assaults on cows. I'm somewhat skeptical that her self-absorbed, mean client Mr. Moeti will not ruin in short order but for now things are well and Mma Ramotswe has earned her fees.

Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi and Charlie have a falling out (as always) but bury the hatchet, Mma Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti finally tie the knot (despite a mishap with the wedding shoes), and Mma Ramotswe recovers her beloved tiny white van. All is well in Gaborone.

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Title
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
Author
Alexander McCall Smith
Rating
0
Your First Name
Niki
Review
This is the saga of the McCullough family of Texas told mainly in three voices, that of Eli, his son Peter, and Peter's granddaughter Jeanne, with small contributions from Peter's great grandson Ulysses near the end. Oddly, the present-day voice of Jeanne is the only one told in third person. The voices alternate, eventually weaving together a tale of loss, riches, and woe.

In the mid 1800s 13-year-old Eli and his bookish brother (who soon is killed, like their mother and sister before him) are kidnapped by Comanches when their frontier homestead is raided while their father is away. He is adopted by the chief and becomes part of the tribe but the band is beginning to face hard times as settlers continue to march westward and become more organized. Then much of the tribe, including Eli's adopted father and fiancee are killed by an outbreak of small pox, to which Eli has been immunized. To assist the other surviving members of the tribe he allows himself to be sent back to the whites for a reward. He has trouble fitting in, having developed the habit of going where he wanted when he wanted and taking what he wanted. For many years he gets by doing exactly what he did with the Comanches (only with a gun), first with the rangers and then with the Confederacy. Using gold obtained in his last raid of the war, he buys land and becomes a cattleman, largely ignoring his family in his quest to obtain more. He lives to be quite old and in his later years he foresees the coming oil boom and begins buying up mineral rights.

Eli's son Peter is nothing like his father. An introspective and reasoned man, Peter is a misfit in the family and yet, unlike most of his descendants, stubbornly remains at the ranch with his father, whom he nearly despises. As a young man, Peter had wanted to marry a daughter of the neighboring Garcia family, but that, of course, was out of the question for a McCullough, so instead he marries Sally, who is a poor match for him. Decades later when Pedro Garcia's wayward sons-in-law have repeatedly stolen McCullough cattle and finally wounded one of Peter's sons escaping, Peter does everything he can to try to talk down his father and the rest of the angry mob, including various rangers and other men that trickled in from miles around, but they confronted Pedro Garcia and murdered all but Peter's old flame, Maria, who was hiding in a closest – the three thieving sons-in-law were not at home. The rampage continues against all the Mexicans in town over the coming weeks. Later Eli burns all the Garcia valuables and their colonial house as well even while getting their land for a song because of the fictional back taxes owed by Garcia. Peter is immersed in guilt and becomes further estranged from Sally. Years later Maria resurfaces in Peter's life as she has nowhere else to turn. The old flame is rekindled so what do the other McCulloughs do? Give her money and send her to Mexico. Eventually Peter runs off to Mexico to find her.

Jeanne A McCullough grows from a small girl trying to be a ranch hand to an oil baroness. As a young girl her favorite family member is her great-grandfather, Eli. She absorbs many of his attitudes and felt that her father was soft, which he was. Her oldest brother having left Texas forever, and her two other brothers having been killed in the war, she comes into the cattle ranch and oil rights at the age of 19 when her father foolishly stays out in a storm and was thrown from his horse. She soon falls in love with an oil driller, sent by her uncle to hunt for oil, and is happy with Hank until he dies in a hunting accident. Once again she is in charge alone and she throws herself into the part, despite the fact that she doesn't quite fit into the boy's club. She makes many wise decisions in the oil world and many poor ones in her personal life. Being more like Eli than Peter, Jeanne has become alienated from her own children, who she also feels she spoiled to the point that they have no ambitions of their own, and she wonders what to do with the family fortune.

Finally, we learn from Ulysses Garcia what became of Peter and Maria and how each generation of McCullough-Garcia descendants has tried to connect with Jeanne, only to be spurned. We learn how she came, from her own foolishness, to be lying immobile in a house that's falling in around her and how the McCullough home finally met the same fate as the Garcia home. At so many junctures, including this last, the legacy of the McCulloughs could have been so much greater. Jeanne missed her final chance to make amends for her family's wrongs and pass the reins of the ranch to a real rancher but instead the tale of destruction came full circle.

Oh, the wicked, wicked West.
Title
The Son
Author
Philipp Meyer
Rating
0
Your First Name
Niki
Review
A married couple, both ministers, learned that their only son who was in the navy 1 month before he was to report to Hawaii, was shot and killed.
Title
Why I Lay My Issac Down
Author
Carol Kent
Rating
0
Your First Name
Polly
Review
What I can say about this book is that it's one of his best books ever, well in my opinion. The theme was very straight forward and the plot followed everything the theme was meant.
Title
Everythings Eventual
Author
Stephen King
Rating
0
Your First Name
Carol
Review
The Eyes of the Dragon had a lot of suspense and also a lot of horror which interest me more and more to read it. Stephen King is an awesome writer.
Title
The Eyes of the Dragon
Author
Stephen King
Rating
0
Your First Name
CL