Monthly Archive: November 2011

Amnesia thriller is tense and creepy

Before I go to sleep by S.J. Watson is one of the better debut novels of 2011. The story is told by Christine, a woman who wakes up every morning not knowing where or who she is. Her problem is a serious case of amnesia- from an accident or an attack, depending on who she talks to.

Christine lives an isolated life, heavily dependent on her husband Ben who is very selective about discussing her past. She forms a bond with a psychologist in secret, hoping to regain some of her memory, and part of the therapy consists of keeping a secret journal in which she tries to reconstruct her past. She reviews her journal every morning after he leaves for work. “Don’t trust Ben” is one of her messages to herself. Is Ben trying to save her from pain, or is there another motive at work? Or is it the psychologist himself who is the problem? Adding to the complexity is re-discovering her relationship with a woman who was her best friend- and the fact that she once had a son- is he still alive?

Watson is able to unfold the details of Christine’s past in a tense way. While her medical problem is frustrating and extreme, the author is able to keep the narrative endurable by granting her occasional glimpses of her strongest memories- so her case does have traces of hope. When a final plot twist kicks the suspense into high gear, we are firmly on her side! Despite the British setting, this novel would be hard to put down for most American readers, with the clever combination of memory science and who-can-I-trust suspense.

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Shari’s Nonprofit Pick: Quit Whining!

The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work by Jon Gordon


Jon Gordon, author of the bestselling The Energy Bus (coming soon!) has written another winner. Written in story format (you’ll meet a great gal named Hope who is working on complaining less) you’ll fly through this book and be glad that you did. By the end of 137 pages based on a real-life company that implementing the No Complaining Rule, you will have learned all sorts of innovative ideas and down-to-earth solutions to move your organizational environment from complaining to positive. Check it out.

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Holiday Cheer from ARLS

FOLD Open House

Two weeks of holiday events are coming to an ARLS branch near you! Please join Hopewell, McKenney, Dinwiddie, Prince George and  Burrowsville branch libraries for holiday festivities:

The Friends of the Library, Dinwiddie (FOLD) will host the annual Holiday Open House on Friday, December 2nd, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m at the Dinwiddie Branch. The Friends will have special refreshments and door prizes.

The Prince George Library will host a holiday open house following the Prince George County parade on Saturday, December 3rd,  from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Girl Scouts and the Hopewell Prince George Friends of the Library will offer refreshments and the library will offer a children’s craft and be showing a classic holiday movie.

Also on Saturday, December 3rd, the McKenney Branch will hold a holiday open house at 11 a.m. as part of a festive day of town activities. Refreshments and a children’s craft will be available at the library. The Town of McKenney will also be holding a holiday bazaar at 10 a.m. and a holiday parade will begin at 2 p.m.

Visitors can also enjoy a “Hogwart’s Holiday” on December 6th, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  at the Hopewell BranchDress up as your favorite character from Harry Potter and enjoy crafts and refreshments. Following this, the library will host the Ralph Jones Group at 7:00 p.m., with music for the holiday season.

The Burrowsville Branch library will have an open house with a children’s craft during The Friends of Burrowsville School, Inc. “Community Christmas Party” on December 9th, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Burrowsville Community Center and Library. The party will feature seasonal music, refreshments, door prizes and a performance by the Ralph Jones Group. The Friends will be collecting canned food items for the Prince George and Mission Ministries Food Banks.

Following the Dinwiddie County Christmas Parade, the Dinwiddie Branch will offer an open house with a children’s craft December 10th, at 4:00 p.m. This is in partnership with the county’s Christmas Illumination and tree lighting at the Dinwiddie Courthouse.

All events are free. Also, be sure to look for Rudolph the ARLS Bookmobile at the Dinwiddie, Prince George and Hopewell holiday parades!

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Library Closed Thursday & Friday

All branches of the Appomattox Regional Library System will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 24 and 25, for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Rohoic Library will be closed Wednesday through, November 23 through 27.

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ARLS Teen Book Review: The Luxe

The Luxe by Anna Godberson

Book Review by E. Modrall

In 1899′s Manhattan.
Elizabeth Holland is forced to be engaged to the last man she would ever want to marry.
Diana Holland, is disgracing her family’s name and experiencing the hardships of forbidden love.
Penelope Hayes is plotting her way to Henry’s heart and Elizabeth’s spotlight.
Carolina Broud, former maid, discovers that with some help, wealth could look good on her.
Henry Schoonmaker, a careless cad, finds he wants the only thing he can’t have.
Read about how young love intertwines in the lives of Manhattan’s socialites in The Luxe!

ARLS has a great new opportunity for teens interested in volunteering for the library.  Read a book on your reading level, write a book review, and earn 2 hours of volunteer time!  Start the process by completing a volunteer application that can be printed from our Volunteer page.    Don’t forget to like us on Facebook!

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ARLS Teen Book Review: How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

Book Review by Addie Eliades

            How the García Girls Lost Their Accents illustrates the impact that immigration to the United States from the Dominican Republic around 1960 had on four sisters. These girls’ stories are told from varying points of view and in reverse-chronological order for a unique connect-the-dots account of their Dominican immigrant family. The girls face the challenges of adjusting to the customary lifestyles of different civilizations, along with such trials as puberty, mental breakdown, questioning authority and hierarchy, and dealing with the universal double standard of men and women. The themes in Alvarez’s work are comparable to those in the works of Ricardo Rodriguez Gary Soto: In the midst of adapting to new environments, the García girls (like Rodriguez and Soto in their autobiographical works) also look within to discover their own identities. Read the rest of this entry »

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We’re Thankful for Our Teen Book Review Volunteers!

ARLS has a great new opportunity for teens interested in volunteering for the library.  Read a book on your reading level, write a book review, and earn 2 hours of volunteer time!  Start the process by completing a volunteer application that can be printed from our Volunteer page.   Our first review was submitted by Savannah Helmer of the Hopewell Library.  Don’t forget to like us on Facebook!

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

A Review by Savannah Helmer

The ‘Thief Lord’ is a spectacular book, full of twists and turns. It holds adventure, comedy, sadness, and mysterious characters. You never know what to expect next as the plot unfolds. This book, I believe, is perfect for people who enjoy fantasy and non-stop adventure.  This story takes place in modern day Venice, Italy. Cornelia Funke uses vivid descriptions to paint beautiful pictures in your mind of the landscape where the story happens. It is almost like you’re standing there and seeing it in person.  The cast of characters is a group of pre-teen orphans who are living together in an old abandoned movie theater, trying to avoid being discovered by the authorities. Scipio is the self appointed leader of this gang and calls himself the Thief Lord. Their adventures take them to long lost islands, and through the dark alleys and creepy hide-outs of the town of Venice.  I really enjoyed this wonderful fantasy and can’t wait for more of Cornelia Funke’s work.

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Shari’s Nonprofit Pick: Rewards on a Shoestring Budget

A Guide to Non-cash Reward by Michael Rose


Most nonprofit organizations are operating on especially tight budgets these days. This brief, easy-to-follow book will show you how to learn the value of recognition, reward staff at virtually no cost, and improve your organizational performance. You’ll learn why recognition is important, what, when, and how to recognize people, and all about using non-cash awards. This book will help you set up recognition plans for staff, board members, and volunteers. Check it out.

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Harry Potter’s World Comes to the Hopewell Library

Historic engravings illustrate the 7 panels of “Harry Potter’s World” which will be at the Hopewell Library from November 14-December 31. (Photo courtesy of the National Library of Medicine,

The traveling exhibit “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance, Science, Magic, and Medicine” will be on display at the Hopewell Library from November 14 to December 31. The 500 square foot exhibition, using materials from the National Library of Medicine, explores Harry Potter’s world and its roots in Renaissance science.

The Hopewell Library is hosting a series of free Potter-themed events for children, teens and families throughout the holiday season. Stop by to see the exhibit and enjoy these fun programs!

Harry Potter Movie Mondays
November 14 – December 19, Mondays at 5:00 p.m.
Hopewell Library
A different film will be featured each Monday in the Café.

A Hogwarts Holiday
December 6, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Hopewell Library
Dress up as your favorite character from Harry Potter and join us for crafts and refreshments.  Enjoy holiday and other music favorites by the Ralph Jones Group at 7:00pm.

Potions Class
December 20, 4:30 p.m.
Hopewell Library
Learn the Harry Potter way to make ice cream, silly dough, and fizzy drink. Registration is required.

This exhibition is sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. For more information or to register, please call (804) 458-6329 extension 1005.

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Will Zombie Novel Have an Audience?

Colson Whitehead is a well respected young literary writer. In his latest effort, Zone One, he makes the weird choice to write about a future USA that is swarming with zombies.

Told in a series of flashbacks, this is the story of “Mark Spitz”- a troubled young man who has lost everything he ever knew. It’s not his real name, and we never do find out much about him. It’s a bleak tale of a nation suffering from social, economic, and environmental challenges galore- and then a legion of living dead start rampaging!

There is plenty of food for thought here, but do zombie fans really want to think about life in contemporary America? For that matter, do serious literary readers want to deal with shambling ex-human hordes? Bottom line, this is a well written and thoughtful novel that does not seem to have a readership.

Next up:
Before I go to sleep by S.J. Watson might be the scariest thriller of 2011. If you are interested in a review, please use the comment box below!

Read more book reviews on Library Blogs.

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