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KFOR Book Chat Selections

2007 Selections

Starting in April 2002, a panel library staff members (primarily from the Anderson, Bethany and Gere branches) have appeared somewhat regularly on Cathy Blythe's Problems and Solutions program on radio station KFOR 1240 AM in a segment called "Book Chat," sharing information about books and upcoming library programs. Here is a list of the books discussed on shows from 2007:

November 15, 2007

Book Cover  Death of a Turkey by Kate Borden

The third in this delightful cozy series takes place at Thanksgiving. Peggy Jean Turner, Mayor of the fictional town of Cobb's Landing is looking forward to a quiet family meal. The kind she's loved since childhood. When Max, the banker, arranges for the town to reenact the first Thanksgiving, Peggy reluctantly agrees to participate. But then a woman renting the neighbor’s house for the winter turns up dead; Peggy begins to look into who killed the woman. Is it Stu McIntyre the recently re-appointed sheriff? His fiancée Emily? Peggy is sure to find out. Kate Borden creates a wonderful and homey town with characters you just love to read about.
Book Cover  A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

This tiny gem of a holiday story, although a memory, is told in the present tense, which gives it a certain immediacy. Written by Capote as if a backward glance at his childhood while in college, the story traces a month of pre-Christmas doings in his parentless, poor household. The seven-year-old and his "friend," a distant, eccentric, and in those times elderly (mid-sixties), cousin prepare several dozen fruitcakes and mail them to people they admire. Gathering the pecans from those left behind in the harvest, buying illegally made whiskey for soaking the cakes, getting a little tipsy on the leftovers, cutting their own tree, and decorating it with homemade ornaments are some of the adventures the two share. The outside world barely intrudes on this portrayal of a loving friendship which wraps readers in coziness like the worn scrap quilt warms the old woman. Reminiscent of Lisbeth Zwerger, Peck's watercolor-and-ink full-page illustrations greatly enhance the text. Her use of lighter shades, tawny colors, and fine lines plus a background wash which suggests rather than delineates detail is perfect for this holiday memory of Christmas celebrated in rural Alabama in the early 1930s. -- School Library Journal
Book Cover  The Christmas Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

Chiaverini, author of the Elm Creek Quilts novels, delivers a rich holiday tale that predates last year's Master Quilter, also set during the Christmas season. Sylvia Compson, née Bergstrom, 77, is determined to make it the dullest holiday ever at Elm Creek Manor, to which she returned, a year and a half ago, after 50 years of estrangement. Her Bergstrom relatives are gone; her memories of Christmas past are fraught. But young Sarah McClure, Sylvia's partner in the quilting camp that's brought Elm Creek back to life, wants to spend Christmas with Sylvia—and she wants it tinsel strewn. Home is here now, not with the mother who dislikes Sarah's husband, Matt. Sylvia reluctantly agrees to visit the trove of ornaments in the attic. As the women discover an unfinished Christmas quilt, a mixed bag of memories spills out along with the feathered star blocks: strudel making in the Depression; tree trimming during World War II, which claimed Sylvia's husband, brother and a baby born too soon because of her shock; memories of a sister, Claudia, who forfeits Sylvia's love until it's too late. Reconciliation and redemption: of course. But it's not won cheaply—there's no saccharine in this sweet story. -- Publishers Weekly
Book Cover  The Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book Series by various authors [745.594 qGoo]

These books are truly among the best for recipes, crafts and home decorating for the Holidays. The best thing about Gooseberry Patch books is that all of these subjects are covered in one volume. No matter which number in the series you choose, you'll find food and projects to make and give that will be favorites for years to come.
Book Cover  Cat Deck the Halls by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

The cats who saved Christmas...The charming seaside village of Molena Point, California, leads one to expect a quiet traditional Christmas surrounded by family and friends—but not this holiday season. Instead of singing carols and climbing into Christmas trees, Joe Grey, feline P.I., is faced with his most difficult case yet—and that's saying a lot for a wily tomcat who for years has been solving crimes the police can't even crack. At midnight in the deserted gardens of the shopping plaza, a stranger lies dead beneath the village Christmas tree; the only witness to the shooting is a little child. But when the police arrive, summoned by an anonymous phone call of feline origin, both the body and the child have disappeared. As police scramble for leads, the grey tomcat, his tabby lady, and their tortoiseshell pal, Kit, launch their own unique investigation. Together Joe Grey, Dulcie, and Kit face their most heartbreaking case yet as they care for the child who may be the killer's next target. Trying to sort out perplexing clues amidst the happiness of the season, they shadow a cast of colorful characters. But neither the police nor their unknown feline assistants are aware that they might have stumbled over the murderer and never known it, until an electrifying final scene when the killer's identity is revealed.
Book Cover  Christmas on Jane Street: A True Story by Billy Romp with Wanda Urbanska [394.26 ChrYr]

This is a delightful little book (less than 150 pages) about Billy Romp and his family moving to a vacant New York lot each year on the day after Thanksgiving. With the help from the wonderful neighbors and businesses, they transform the big city into a small community. Along with the trials and tribulations of moving a family of five to New York Billy and his wife must deal with the growing pains of his oldest daughter and best helper.
Book Cover  A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

Luscious illustrations form a perfect match to the rolling language of the Christmas classic. Many could argue that the only way to experience Thomas's language is to listen to it—that illustrations cannot possibly be anything other than incidental to the dizzyingly rich language whose breathless rhythms frequently challenge the reader's lung capacity. If it is possible to illustrate these cadences adequately, then Raschka has managed to pull it off. Painted in ink and gouache on torn panels of fibrous handmade paper, the images are full of thick, sweeping lines that complement the language beautifully, the actual figures almost taking a backseat to the grand swoops of line and color. The absorbent paper blurs the lines, leading the eye to the fuzzy edges of the panels—there's not a sharp edge in here. Inside scenes are cozy, saturated in firelight yellows and oranges, sprinkled with snoozing dogs and Uncles and bosomy Aunts, while in contrast, snowy outside scenes are rendered mostly in blues, grays, and whites that are nevertheless dotted with yellow-lit windows; comfort and warmth are never far away. Gorgeous. -- Kirkus Reviews
[Also available in a variety of other editions and formats.]
Book Cover  General Washington's Christmas Farewell: A Mount Vernon Homecoming, 1793 by Vernon Weintraub [B W27w]

This is one of America's greatest Christmas stories and also one of its very first - from the period between the end of the Revolutionary War and the ratification of the Constitution - was a creation of none other than George Washington. The story isn't just about Washington coming home for Christmas for the first time since the war began, but about the character of our most important Founding Father and about the precedent he set for democratic leadership. It is the story of a loving husband, a beloved military leader, and above all, a humble and great man. Washington was making his way back home after an absence of 7 years, arriving home on Christmas Eve after a highly emotional journey.

August 16, 2007

Book Cover  Nothing to Wear: The 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet by Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo [646.34 Gar]

This is not just another book on what black suit you should have. This book takes a deeper look into what the readers lifestyle is like and what are their interests. Are you a suburban mom or a working woman? Each person's needs are different and this book helps you to determine what your needs are. Working through the five steps takes some time and some self examination, but the effort expended is well worth it.
Book Cover  Teach yourself visually Dog Training by Sarah Hodgson [636.708 Hod]

If you are planning on getting a dog, or already have one and would like to train it to be a better companion, this book's for you. Sarah gives clear instructions with great color pictures to help the reader understand just what to do. In addition to instructions on how to train you dog to do basic commands such as sit or down, she also covers trick training and basic dog body language.
Book Cover  The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden [031.02 Igg]

Equal parts droll and gorgeous nostalgia book and heartfelt plea for a renewed sense of adventure in the lives of boys and men, Conn and Hal Iggulden's The Dangerous Book for Boys became a mammoth bestseller in the United Kingdom in 2006. Adapted, in moderation, for American customs in this edition (cricket is gone, rugby remains; conkers are out, Navajo Code Talkers in), The Dangerous Book is a guide book for dads as well as their sons, as a reminder of lore and technique that have not yet been completely lost to the digital age. Recall the adventures of Scott of the Antarctic and the Battle of the Somme, relearn how to palm a coin, tan a skin, and, most charmingly, wrap a package in brown paper and string. The book's ambitions are both modest and winningly optimistic: you get the sense that by learning how to place a splint or write in invisible ink, a boy might be prepared for anything, even girls (which warrant a small but wise chapter of their own). --Amazon.com
Book Cover  Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions by John Kotter [658.406 Kot]

Harvard Business School professor Kotter, author of the bestselling Leading Change (1996), teams up with executive Holger Rathgeber to offer his contribution to the "business fable" genre. Kotter presents his framework for an effective corporate change initiative through the tale of a colony of Antarctic penguins facing danger -- inspired, perhaps, by today's real-life global warming crisis (or, perhaps, by March of the Penguins' box office). Under the leadership of one particularly astute bird, a small team of penguins with varied personalities and leadership skills implement a thoughtful plan for coaxing the other birds in their colony through a time of necessary but wrenching change. The logic of Kotter's fictional framework is wobbly at times -- his characters live and act very much like real penguins except that one carries a briefcase and another ("the Professor") cites articles from scholarly journals-and the whimsical tone will not be to everyone's taste. However, this light, quick read should fulfill its intended purpose: to serve as a springboard for group discussions about corporate culture, group dynamics and the challenges of change. --Publisher's Weekly
Book Cover  Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans and Other Good Things by Lois Landeau and Laura G. Myers [641.635 Lan]

This is a cookbook for when your garden explodes. It has a chapter for each vegetable commonly grown. The information given provides growing requirements, food value information, and instructions for handling, storage and cooking.
Book Cover  Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe [395.4 Shi]

Anyone with an email account knows how it feels to get badly composed, overly long and just plain annoying mail. So, as you sit there punching the delete button over and over again, consider picking up the book Send from David Shipley and Will Shwalbe. Most people who are very careful when composing "snail mail" will say anything and everything in electronic mail. The authors explain that even though email gives us a sense of distance and anonymity, there are still rules governing its composition and content. Before you hit that "send" button, it helps to know what those rules are. This book may be small in size, but it is big on helpful tips for better emailing, and fascinating facts about electronic communication.
Book Cover  Do It For Le$$ Parties! by Denise Vivaldo [641.5 Viv]

One word of caution when picking up this book: make sure you have had a nice meal, and aren't near a card shop, or you will immediately begin cooking and filling out cute, themed invitations! Not only does Vivaldo's book give you tips for saving time and money on entertaining, but it also provides inspiration to even the most experienced party-giver. Recipes are easy to prepare, sound delicious, and will impress your lucky guests. Each themed party has a menu and appropriate decorating tips, so you can host an enjoyable event without all the planning stress. Shopping lists and timelines make preparation more ogranized and less intimidating. So, if you are looking for great ideas for your next gathering, you are cordially invited to check out Do It For Le$$ Parties!.
Book Cover  Use What you Have Decorating by Laura Ward [747.1 War]

The author begins by listing the 10 most common decorating mistakes and then clearly explains how to correct them. Before and after photographs as well as diagrams illustrate the text. She lists what is wrong with each room and helps the reader see it, makes the changes and lists what was moved, banished or borrowed, as well as making some suggestions for future purchases. Good hints are given on editing and placement of accessories and collections. Very useful for the do it yourself decorator!

June 21, 2007

Book Cover  The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

The best-selling author of the Traveling Pants series has written her first novel for adults. The Last Summer (of You and Me) is the story of sisters Alice and Riley, and their friend Paul, who spent every summer of their youth together on Fire Island. Now these childhood friends are in their early twenties and are returning to the island again for the first time in years. This summer is one of great change, however, as Alice and Paul give in to their attraction for each other and Riley is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. This heartwarming story explores the deep loyalty of old friends, the special bond between sisters, and ultimately, the healing power of love.
Book Cover  Summer: A User's Guide by Suzanne Brown [790.192 Bro]

Summertime is known for many things-trips to the beach, relaxing on the porch, picking a fresh garden tomato, and mixing up the perfect thirs-quencher. Just in time for all those activities and more, this wonderful book has how-to tips for all things summer. Learn about the history of the Adirondack chair, how to make a great Margarita or make and fly a kite. You'll find the rules and pointers for many of your favorite summer games, recipes and craft ideas-there's so much here. In addition to all the great summer know-how, Suzanne Brown's book is truly beautiful to look at. It will be as much of a joy to read in the depths of winter as it is in the heat of July because the pictures make you feel like summer is just around the corner.
Book Cover  Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Fun, sassy, and filled with action, humor, and romance, "Dead Witch Walking" makes the perfect summer read for anyone who likes vampires, paranormal fantasy, romance, or just a great beach book.
Book Cover  The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen

Coming soon as a major motion picture by Anthony Minghella, Oscar-winning director of The English Patient Meet Louis Drax, the Amazing Accident-Prone Boy. Louis Drax is a boy like no other. He is brilliant and strange, and every year something violent seems to happen to him. His psychologist is baffled, and his mother lives in a constant state of panic. He has always managed to survive-to land on his feet, like a cat. But cats have only nine lives, and Louis has used up eight, one for every year. On his ninth birthday, Louis goes on a picnic with his parents and falls off a cliff. The details are shrouded in mystery. Louis's mother is shell-shocked; his father has vanished. And after some confusion Louis himself, miraculously alive but deep in a coma, arrives at Dr. Pascal Dannachet's celebrated coma clinic. Was the fall really an accident? If anyone knows, they're not telling. Until one day, still deep within his coma, Louis meets the bandaged figure who calls himself Gustave, and begins to tell his tale... The Ninth Life of Louis Drax is the story of a family falling apart, told in the vivid voices of its comatose son and Dr. Dannachet as he is drawn into the Draxes' circle. Full of astonishing twists and turns, this is a masterful tale of the secrets the human mind can hide.
Book Cover  Dedication by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

For eleven years, Kate Hollis’s rock star ex-boyfriend has haunted her over the radio, at the newsstand, and on television. Now he’s retuned to their hometown for an MTV special, and Kate has one chance to make him regret his existence. Alternating narration between the heyday of the relationship and the present day, this laugh-out-loud-funny book from the authors of the Nanny Diaries will keep you turning the pages!
[Also available in downloadable audio format.]
Book Cover  Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

"In 1886, Lady Julia Grey's husband, Edward, dies suddenly of the heart disease that plagues his family, including his reclusive cousin, Simon, who resides with the couple in their large London townhouse. Just as she learns to cope with the contradictions of monied widowhood, Julia is visited by taciturn private detective Nicholas Brisbane, who reveals that Edward had hired him to find the source of some threatening letters. Analysis confirms Brisbane's suspicions of murder, leading him and Julia on a testily collaborative search for the culprit. Julia probes servants, Simon and a variety of peers, discovering disturbing truths about a husband she never truly knew and a world of deception, disease and sexual obsession she could never have imagined. Deft historical detailing, sparkling first-person narration and the fledgling love between Julia and the often surprising Brisbane." (from Publisher's Weekly)
Book Cover  The Not-So-Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters by Sarah Susanka [304.23 Sus]

Bestselling author, architect, and cultural visionary Susanka takes the revolutionary principles she put forth in "The Not So Big House" and adapts them to how readers experience their lives. Just like the process needed to decide on how to renovate a house, she gives the reader exercises that take them through the process of renovating their life.
[Also available in unabridged downloadable audio and book-on-cd formats.]
Book Cover  Inventing the Victorians : [what we think we know about them and why we're wrong] by Matthew Sweet [942.081 Swe]

"Suppose that everything we think we know about the Victorians is wrong." So begins Inventing the Victorians by Matthew Sweet, a compact and mind-bending whirlwind tour through the soul of the nineteenth century, and a round debunking of our assumptions about it. The Victorians have been victims of the "the enormous condescension of posterity," in the historian E. P. Thompson's phrase. Locked in the drawing room, theirs was an age when, supposedly, existence was stultifying, dank, and over-furnished, and when behavior conformed so rigorously to proprieties that the repressed results put Freud into business. We think we have the Victorians pegged-as self-righteous, imperialist, racist, materialist, hypocritical and, worst of all, earnest. Oh how wrong we are, argues Matthew Sweet in this highly entertaining, provocative, and illuminating look at our great, and great-great, grandparents. In this, the year of the centenary of Queen Victoria's death, Sweet forces us to think again about her century, entombed in our minds by Dickens, the Elephant Man, Sweeney Todd, and by images of unfettered capitalism and grinding poverty. Sweet believes not only that we're wrong about the Victorians but profoundly indebted to them. In ways we have been slow to acknowledge, their age and our own remain closely intertwined. The Victorians invented the theme part, the shopping mall, the movies, the penny arcade, the roller coaster, the crime novel, and the sensational newspaper story. Sweet also argues that our twenty-first century smugness about how far we have evolved is misplaced. The Victorians were less racist than we are, less religious, less violent, and less intolerant. Far from being an outcaste, Oscar Wilde was a fairly typical Victorian man; the love that dared not speak its name was declared itself fairly openly. In 1868 the first international cricket match was played between an English team and an Australian team composed entirely of aborigines. The Victorians loved sensation, novelty, scandal, weekend getaways, and the latest conveniences (by 1869, there were image-capable telegraphs; in 1873 a store had a machine that dispensed milk to after-hours' shoppers). Does all this sound familiar? As Sweet proves in this fascinating, eye-opening book, the reflection we find in the mirror of the nineteenth century is our own. We inhabit buildings built by the Victorians; some of us use their sewer system and ride on the railways they built. We dismiss them because they are the age against whom we have defined our own. In brilliant style, Inventing the Victorians shows how much we have been missing.

April 19, 2007

Book Cover  The Secret by Rhonda Byrne [158.1 Byr]

Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it. You'll learn how to use The Secret in every aspect of your life -- money, health, reltationships, happiness, and in every interaction you have in the world. You'll begin to understand the hidden, untapped power that's within you, and this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd and DVD formats.]
Book Cover  The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

No, that title is NOT a misprint-though it sounds like The Glass Castle, this book is entirely different. This epic novel is divided into seven parts, each inspired by tales handed down to the author by his father and uncle. He vividly brings to life the history of Burma and Malaya over a century of momentous change, beginning with the exile of the Burmese royal family and their retainers after the British invade, and sweeping along through the lives, loves and deaths of many memorable characters. Amitav Ghosh is a superb writer, managing to fit all of the stories together into one gripping narrative.
Book Cover  The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber

Thriller author Gruber (Night of the Jaguar, 2006, etc.) steps away from his usual Miami haunts to make mischief in New York in a fast-moving and often hilarious tale about the usually torpid worlds of rare books and academia. The action begins with a grease fire that spreads from a restaurant to the rare-book shop next door, where labors would-be screenwriter Albert Crosetti, youngest of the many prodigiously talented children of a librarian and her late detective husband. Alone in the shop, Albert is able to rescue the most valuable volumes, but water severely damages one of the gems in the basement, a work that the store's owner gives to Albert's coworker Carolyn Rolly to break up for its prints and maps, as he reports a total loss to the insurers. With Albert's assistance, Carolyn, a gifted bookbinder, sets about reconstructing the book for possible resale and discovers, packed under the binding, correspondence from Richard Bracegirdle, a 17th-century puritan spy with a connection to Shakespeare. Albert has fallen in love with Carolyn during the damage-control process, and the two take the documents for authentication to a Columbia professor who in turn takes them for safekeeping to intellectual-property lawyer, world-class skirt-chaser and Olympian weightlifter Jake Mishkin. The professor's death by torture at the hands of Russian thugs pushes Mishkin into a detection process that imperils his and Albert's families and ultimately takes everyone to Warwickshire to try to unearth what may be the most valuable theatrical property in the universe. -- Kirkus Reviews /* Starred Review */
Book Cover  Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee [B W55l]

Biography fans will really appreciate this beautifully written and well-researched book about one of the premiere women of American letters. She wrote about the privileged world of New York society, but she herself preferred the company of other literary figures of the time. This book is not just about Wharton, but about the evolution of the United States from raw, upstart country to powerful player on the international stage. Wharton fans will want to read this just to hear about the real people and places that appear in Wharton's fiction. Full of great pictures, too!
Book Cover  I'm Proud of You: My Friendship With Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan [791.452 RogYm]

Reminiscent of Mitch Albom and his phenomenal bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie, journalist Tim Madigan recalls how an encounter with an icon of kindness led to a wondrous, life-changing friendship. It was 1995 when the Fort Worth Star-Telegram assigned Tim Madigan to write a profile of children’s television icon Fred Rogers. This fortuitous interview sparked a magnificent friendship between the two, one that would see both men through periods of grief as well as the hope of new beginnings. I'm Proud of You is the story of this friendship and of the enduring legacy left to us all by Fred Rogers.
Book Cover  The Dragon Scroll by I.J. Parker

Shamus-winner Parker's impressive third Sugawara Akitada mystery (after 2003's The Hell Screen) deftly pulls the reader into the world of 11th-century Japan. Someone sets up Akitada, a young junior clerk in the ministry of justice, to fail on his first assignment, which is to travel to the province of Kazusa and track down the thieves responsible for missing tax shipments from that remote region. While Akitada's suspicions center on Kazusa's governor, he has to rethink his plans when the governor's predecessor, who had requested a clandestine meeting with Akitada, is murdered. Before he can make much headway solving either crime, Akitada is recalled to the capital, where he faces additional challenges. Parker manages the impressive feat of presenting a classic whodunit in an exotic and unfamiliar setting. -- Publishers Weekly Review
Book Cover  The Ice Limit by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

From this popular team comes another solid thriller. Billionaire Palmer Lloyd's hobby is buying up rare artifacts; the current object of his desire is the world's largest meteorite, buried on an island off the coast of Chile. Eli Glinn is the head of the high-tech engineering firm Palmer hires to figure out a way to bring the meteorite home to the U.S. Sam McFarlane is the down-and-out meteorite hunter, the expert whose own theory about the origins of the meteorite, if proven to be true, could spell disaster for everyone involved. It is no accident that this fits the description of a big-budget feature film. After all, Preston and Child have a history of writing novels that read like movies in prose form, with exciting stories, plenty of interesting characters (here we also have a boat captain who's a recovering alcoholic), and visually arresting set pieces. Most of the novel's action takes place either on Rolvaag, a huge tanker rebuilt to carry the enormous meteorite, or on Isla Desolacion, where Palmer's group tries to uncover, and move, the meteorite without losing too many lives in the process; both locations are perfect for the big screen. The characterizations here are rather deeper than those found in most of the team's previous thrillers--the players are more like people and less like stick figures--but, as always, the action is what keeps readers turning the pages. The authors' fans will appreciate their new novel, as will fans of such writers as Michael Crichton and Clive Cussler. -- Booklist Review

March 15, 2007

Book Cover  I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! by Bob Newhart [817 New]

Legendary stand-up comic and actor Bob Newhart lends his wry, observational humor to his own life and career in this short but entertaining autobiography. Newhart lightly touches on a lot of the things in his life that influenced his choice of comic styling, from his early career as an accountant to the roster of fascinating fellow entertainers who came up with him from radio into television and movie careers. With lengthy asides about his two hit shows -- The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart -- and extended segments from his Emmy-winning comedy routines scattered throughout, this is a fun and quick read, which should appeal to humor junkies or fans of Bob's dry, dead-pan delivery. Although I still can't figure out what could have possibly caused Bob and Don Rickles to become best friends!
Book Cover  The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files, now adapted to a new television series (Sundays on the Sci Fi channel) is a thrilling series of novels -- starting with Storm Front, through Proven Guilty [2006], with a ninth volume due to be released in the spring of 2007 -- White Night. This series is an oddly charming cross between the hard-boiled, almost noirish, detective fiction of Sam Spade or Spenser, and the flip, hip paranormal worlds of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files. Harry Dresden is a private eye in Chicago -- he's also a practising wizard, and is even listed as such in the yellow pages. In addition to trying to make a living as a P.I., tracking errant husbands or missing items, he's also one of the few people in the normal world who's aware that the things going "bump in the night" really exist, and could potentially kill you as easily as scare you. Although the series starts off a little slow, by the 2nd or 3rd volume, you'll realize that the books of the Dresden Files aren't light-weight. Over the course of eight books, they've developed a tremendous amount of depth and characterization. Harry is a "Jim Rockford"-like character -- down-trodden, beaten up by every bad guy he encounters, but unwilling to simply give up. He becomes quite the unknown hero, and his supporting cast throughout the series grows along with him. The pacing is rapid, the dialog is smart-alecky, and the tone is very conversational. If you're a fan of contemporary fantasy and don't mind a "mystery fiction" twist thrown in, or if you're a fan of private eye novels and are interested in your P.I. being a spell-caster, I recommend giving this series a try.
Book Cover  Jewels: A Secret History by Victoria Finlay [553.8 Fin]

In this book, journalist Victoria Finlay journeys from the underground opal churches of the Australian outback to the once pearl-rich rivers of Scotland; from the peridot mines on an Apache reservation in Arizona to the remote ruby mines in the mountains of northern Burma. She risks confronting scorpions to crawl through Cleopatra's long-deserted emerald mines, tries her hand at gem cutting in the dusty Sri Lankan city where Marco Polo bartered for sapphires, and investigates a rumor that fifty years ago most of the world's amber was mined by prisoners in a Soviet gulag. Jewels is a unique voyage through history and across cultures, deep into the earth's mantle, and up to the glittering heights of fame, power, and wealth.
Book Cover  The Lies of Locke Lemora by Scott Lynch

An orphan's life is harsh - and often short - in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains - a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected "family" of orphans - a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting. Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld's most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful - and more ambitious - than Locke has yet imagined. Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi's most trusted men - and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr's underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game - or die trying.
Book Cover  Truck: A Love Story by Michael Perry

Michael Perry returns with two love stories - one about a truck, and one about a woman. One winter, he decides that he wants to garden and grow some of his own food. In order to do that, he thinks he should haul in some manure. But in order to haul the manure, he needs to get his old International Harvester truck up and running. Right away, he gets derailed by a woman. Throughout the year, with many detours, this is his story.
Book Cover  Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Dean Robillard, a football all-star, is driving back to his farmhouse in Tennesee. Recovering from an injury, he's taking some time off to think about his life. When he finds a young woman walking along the side of the road in a Beaver costume, he just has to stop and find out why. Blue Bailey gives up her home and job in Seattle, after her boyfriend begs her to come to Colorado and live with him. When she arrives she finds he's left his rooming house and has moved in with a new girlfriend, and stolen all of her money as well. She ends up taking odd jobs to support herself. When she finds herself stranded on the side of a road in a Beaver costume. Thus begins a great odyssy for Dean and Blue as they travel the roads of the midwest on their way to love.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]
Book Cover  The Suspect by John Lescroart

Gina Roake is eager to prove herself after an absence from Hardy's law firm. When a major murder case falls into her lap, she signs on, but is forced to turn investigator as well. Everyone believes her client is guilty of murdering his wife, and his behavior certainly reinforces the police opinion. He does everything wrong, but Gina believes that only an innocent man could be so incapable of perceiving how his actions look to police. The murdered wife had plenty of enemies, and possibly a lover or two - but no one is looking for another motive. Will an innocent man go on trial for murder?
[Also available in unabridged audiotape, book-on-cd, and Downloadable Audio formats.]
Book Cover  The Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters

Amelia Peaboyd is back in Egypt. Leaving earlier than usual, she and her family intend to finish clearing the current tomb they're working on with Cyrus. Emerson, Amelia's husband, hopes to get permission to work again in the Valley of the Kings and look for the tomb of Tutankhamon. Unfortunately, Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter refuse and begin the search themselves. As history shows Howard Carter did indeed discover 'King Tut's' tomb and that is part of this story. But Peters writes mysteries, not just historical fiction. So along with the wonderful discovery, we have an attack on Ramses and Emerson. A kidnapping of their loyal servant and a mysterious document that someone is trying to retreive.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd and Large Print formats.]

February 22, 2007

Book Cover  I Feel Bad About My Neck, and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron [305.244 Eph]

Norah Ephron is a really funny writer, and she has a shelf full of awards and accolades to prove it. So it should come as no surprise that when she writes about women and the aging process, there will be plenty of laugh-out-loud moments-and there are. However, this is not just a humor book There is a lot of self-revelation and self-reflection here, and a lot of poignant observations. It is a great book for women of any age, but especially those over 40 who are grappling with the daily assaults on their senses of self and their reflections in the mirror that Epron is writing about. The chapter on womens' purses is simply brilliant ! You will find yourself emailing quotes from this book to your friends, or reading passages aloud to them over the phone. Funny, yet with a good deal of depth and a little melancholy, this is a book that will come to seem like a particularly witty companion whose little comments make you smile to yourself every time you think of them.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]
Book Cover  Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich

Diesel (introduced in Visions of sugar plums) is back. Popping into her apartment and making an offer Stephanie can't refuse. Stephanie's looking for Annie Hart, a bond jumper who is wanted for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Deisel has her, but needs Stephanie to take on a few of Annie's clients. Annie's a matchmaker and won't cooperate, if her clients don't have a date for Valentine's day. What can be harder than finding dates for several people?
[Also available in unabridged audiotape and book-on-cd, and Large Print formats.]
Book Cover  The Boleyn Inheritance by Philipa Gregory

With her latest novel, bestselling author Philipa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl) transports us back to the thrilling court of Henry VIII. This gripping tale is alternately narrated by three women close to Henry: German-born Anne of Cleves, Henry’s despised fourth wife trying to survive in a foreign court; English teenager Katherine Howard, a flighty, spoiled girl who eventually becomes Henry’s fifth wife; and Jane Rochford, a scheming courtier who serves both queens. In a world where women have no real political power, these three women vie for position and wealth in a court filled with deception and betrayal.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd and Large Print formats.]
Book Cover  Hannibal rising by Thomas Harris

Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the physician and monster who has fascinated millions, returns in Hannibal Rising, the new novel by Thomas Harris. In Thomas Harris's previous novels, which include The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, readers learned that Dr. Lecter saw his entire family killed during World War II in Eastern Europe. Hannibal Rising chronicles the early life of Dr. Lecter, covers the young Hannibal from age 6 to 20, and sheds more light on the circumstances of those deaths, with a focus on Dr. Lecter's memories of his younger sister, Mischa.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]
Book Cover  Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

If you're in the mood for an old-fasioned ghost story with a very contemporary setting, this is the book for you. This is the tale of rock star Judas Coyne, known as Jude to his friends. A collector of the bizarre and disturbing, over the years he has acquired a number of truly unusual objects. So it seems only natural that when someone is selling a ghost on the internet, he should be the buyer. While the purchase of the ghost seems like a joke, we soon learns that the spirit's intentions are very serious-none other than the obliteration of Jude and anyone or anything he holds dear. This is not a novel for everyone-it's pretty gory, and the characters talk the way you would expect them to, using some pretty rough language. But ultimately, it's the highly sophisticated use of language that makes this debut novel shine, and transcend the horror genre altogether. You'll probably learn eventually that Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King-another horror author you may have heard of. Yes, there are traces of dad's style here in a few places. But Hill is much better than the old man at creating three-dimensional, complex characters that you will care deeply about. This is a very impressive debut, and a totally entertaining read. It will be very interesting to see whether Mr. Hill continues to excel at the family business.
Book Cover  Literature from the Axis of Evil by Alane Mason, Dedi Felman, and Samantha Schnee [808.8 Wor]

Short stories and fiction excerpts from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Sudan, and other countries from whom the government would rather we didn't hear. "Not knowing what the rest of the world is thinking and writing is both dangerous and boring."—Alane Mason, founding editor, Words Without Borders During the Cold War, writers behind the Iron Curtain—Solzhenitsyn, Kundera, Milosz—were translated and published in the United States, providing an invaluable window on the Soviet regime's effects on daily life and humanizing the individuals living under its conditions. Yet U.S. Treasury Department regulations made it almost impossible for Americans to gain access to writings from "evil" countries such as Iran and Cuba until recently. Penalties for translating such works or for "enhancing their value" by editing them included stiff fines and potential jail time for the publisher. With relaxation in 2005 of the Treasury regulations (in response to pressure from the literary and scientific publishing communities that culminated in a lawsuit), it is now possible, for the first time in many years, to read in English works from these disfavored nations. The New Press and Words Without Borders are proud to be among the first to offer American readers contemporary literature of "enemy nations." Literature from the Axis of Evil includes thirty-five works of fiction from seven countries, most of which have never before been translated into English.
Book Cover  Spoiled Rotten America: Outrages of Everyday Life by Larry Miller [817 Mil]

Actor and comedian Larry Miller takes a look at American culture in this humorous collection of seventeen essays about everyday life in the United States, where the “pendulum only swings to extremes.” From marriage and family to our celebrity-obsessed culture, Miller offers insights into the best and worst about ourselves, with a few important life-lessons thrown in for good measure.
Book Cover  The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls [B W1547]

In the opening scene, Jeannette sees her Mother picking through a dumpster on the streets of New York City. Abandoning her plans, Jeannette returns to her Park Avenue apartment to deal with the guilt and shame of having parents who stubbornly remain homeless. Growing up, Jeannette knew her family was different, but fell under the spell of her father's charismatic and imaginative dreams. Moving from town to town in the Southwest. Her father was brilliant, but struggled with alcoholism. Her Mother was terrified to become an average person, and preferred painting to caring for her four children. As time passed and money became harder to find, the Walls family finds themselves living in a shack on the edge of a mining town in West Virginia. Living in exreme poverty, Jeannette and her siblings struggle to find balance. As the children grow older they must deal with the betrayal of their parents and support each other as they escape from the escalating issues
[Also available in unabridged audiotape and book-on-cd, and Large Print formats.]

January 18, 2007

Book Cover  Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas

At age 16, Alice married her sweetheart Charlie Bullock. Two years later, he joins the Union Army and heads off to fight in the Civil War. Alice is stuck living on an Iowa farm, with only her cranky mother-in-law and her quilting needle for company. Through letters to her sister Lizzie, Alice tells the story of these trying years.
[Also available in Large Print format.]
Book Cover  The Blue Edge of Midnight by Jonathan King

On a night that will haunt him forever, ex-cop Max Freeman killed a twelve-year-old child in self-defense in a Philadelphia shootout. Since then, he has lived on the edge of the Florida Everglades, where he answers to no one but the demons gnawing at his conscience. But when he finds a corpse of a child along a riverbank, he's pulled back into the twisted maze of law and order-as a murder suspect.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]
Book Cover  Popular Music from Vittula by Mikael Niemi

Matti and his quiet friend Niila grow up in Vittula, a little town with lots of children, in the far north of Sweden. This is the '60s and '70s, the dirt roads are finally being paved, the small farmsteads are being abandoned, and rock music enters the scene with a crash. Against a backdrop of an older generation suspicious of these modern things, Popular Music from Vittula is the fantastical story of a young boy's unordinary existence, peopled by a visiting African priest, a witch in the heart of the forest, cousins from Missouri, an old Nazi, a beautiful girl with a black Volvo, silent men and tough women, a champion-bicyclist music teacher with a thumb in the middle of his hand-and, not least, on a shiny vinyl disk, the Beatles.
Book Cover  Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven [957 Niv]

It was controversial explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson who sent four young men and Ada Blackjack into the far North to colonize desolate, uninhabited Wrangel Island. Only two of the men had set foot in the Arctic before. They took with them six months' worth of supplies on Stefansson's theory that this would be enough to sustain them for a year while they lived off the land itself. But as winter set in, they were struck by hardship and tragedy. As months went by and they began to starve, they were forced to ration their few remaining provisions. When three of the men made a desperate attempt to seek help, Ada was left to care for the fourth, who was too sick to travel. Soon after, she found herself totally alone. Upon Ada's miraculous return after two years on the island, the international press heralded her as the female Robinson Crusoe. Journalists hunted her down, but she refused to talk to anyone about her harrowing experiences. Only on one occasion -- after being accused of a horrible crime she did not commit -- did she speak up for herself. All the while, she was tricked and exploited by those who should have been her champions. Jennifer Niven, author of The Ice Master, narrates this remarkable true story, taking full advantage of a wealth of primary sources, including Ada Blackjack's never-before-seen diaries, the unpublished journals of other major characters, and interviews with Ada's second son. Filled with exciting adventure and fascinating history -- as well as extraordinary photographs -- Ada Blackjack is a gripping and ultimately inspiring tale of a woman who survived a terrible time in the wild only to face a different but equally trying ordeal back in civilization.
Book Cover  The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe [709.034 Roe]

Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt. Their contemporaries branded them as lunatics but today this is a roll-call of great artists, whose paintings evoke a unique atmosphere of harmony." "In a vivid and moving narrative, Sue Roe shows how the early leaders of the group met in the studios of Paris and lived and worked closely together for over twenty years. Painting outdoors, meeting in cafes, they supported each other and shared emotional and financial difficulties. Defying the hide-bound rules of the Salon des Beaux Arts, they staged joint exhibitions and rebelled against artistic prejudice, moral tyranny and social hierarchy. Often rejected by their horrified parents, they led volatile and precarious lives: the men among them married servants, models, flower-sellers and, although their paintings now sell for millions, for years they were barely able to support their families.
Book Cover  Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy by Dorothy Allred Solomon [B So474]

In this autobiography, Dorothy Allred Solomon paints a vivid portrait of her life as the 28th child in her Mormon family. Dorothy’s father Rulon had 5 wives and a combined total of 48 children. This living situation caused a variety of hardships -- financial, emotional, and legal. Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk offers a rare glimpse into the secretive life of a polygamist family.
Book Cover  The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig

The year is 1803 and England and France remain at odds. Hoping to break the English once and for all, Napoleon backs a ring of Irish rebels in uprisings against England and sends the Black Tulip, France’s most deadly spy, to the Emerald Isle to help. What they don’t know is that also in Ireland is England’s top spy, the Pink Carnation, who is working to shut the rebels down. Meanwhile, back in England, Letty Alsworthy intercepts a note indicating that her sister, Mary, is about to make the very grave mistake of eloping with Geoffrey Pinghingdale-Snipe (second in command of the League of the Purple Gentian). In an attempt to save the family name, Letty tries to stop the elopement, but instead finds herself swept away in the midnight carriage meant for her sister and is accidentally compromised. Geoff and Letty, to each other’s horror, find themselves forced into matrimony. Then, Geoff receives word that he is to travel to Ireland to help the Pink Carnation and disappears immediately after their wedding ceremony. Letty learns of Geoff’s disappearance and, not to be outdone by her husband, steals away on a ship bound for Ireland, armed and ready to fight for her husband…and to learn a thing or two about spying for England.
Book Cover  Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Barcelona, 1945 - Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes one day to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel's father coaxes him to choose a book from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the book he selects, a novel called The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax's work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last of Carax's books in existence. Before Daniel knows it, his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness, and doomed love, and before long he realizes that if he doesn't find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.
[Also available in unabridged book-on-cd format.]

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