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KFOR Book Chat Selections

Starting in April 2002, a panel of 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 in 2011:

October 20, 2011

Book Cover  World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks [Brooks]

This novel requires an initial acceptance of the fantastic -- the possibility of a world-wide epidemic of zombie-ism, caused by a virus of uncertain origin. If you can handle that suspension of disbelief, then you'll find World War Z to be a fascinating read. Told in a style like that of Studs Terkel's classic The Good War, World War Z is a collection of interviews, linked by the interviewer's notes, with people from all walks of life and many different cultures. The topic: How they all survived the world-wide zombie war, which ended ten years ago. What could be a hokey, unbelievable topic turns into a fascinating exploration of the potential political, military, and social reactions to a war against an enemy that doesn't fight by standard rules. It also explores how broken countries can rebuild after a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. If you have the chance to track down the book-on-cd version of this title, it's definitely worth listening to as well -- although it is an abridged version of the book (darn!), it is done with a full cast, including such veteran actors as Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, John Turturro, Carl and Rob Reiner and many more. This one makes for great scary reading in October, but also gives you plenty think about, as well!

Book Cover  American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin [Goodwin]

Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage. Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, Cora’s story marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James.

Book Cover  Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand [Biography Zamperini]

This is one of the most powerful biographies I've read in years. Following the life of Louis Zamperini from his troublesome childhood, through the sports fame of his youth, to his nightmarish experiences during World War II, and concluding with a brief section on his post-War years, Hillenbrand has crafted an incredible tale. Narrator Edward Herrman does a remarkable job, infusing only minimal emotion into his reading of Hillenbrand's detail-infused text. I initially didn't like Louis, based on his anti-social behavior as a kid. However, once he dedicates his life to his sport -- running -- and ends up at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, I found myself intrigued by his story. But, it isn't until the narrative begins to chronicle Zamperini's experiences during WWII that the reader is fully sucked into the story. What follows, as we are told about his time adrift on a life raft after his plane is shot down, and then the horrors as he is moved from one Japanese P.O.W. facility to another, is truly gut-wrenching. Hillenbrand's matter-of-fact telling of these events helps to desensitize the reader to Zamperini's nightmare a bit, but I am still haunted by what he went through, weeks after finishing this book. This is an unforgettable tale, and one told with mastery by the author of Seabisbuit. I can't recommend it highly enough, and I particularly recommend the audiobook version with Herrman's narration.

Book Cover  In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson [943.086 Lar]

Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, the bestselling author of Devil in the White City turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power. The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance--and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

Book Cover  Sister by Rosamund Lupton [Lupton]

When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand. Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered. Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess's apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister's life--and all its secrets. Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficultly with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong. As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder--and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life. A thrilling story of fierce love between siblings, Sister is a suspenseful and accomplished debut with a stunning twist.

Book Cover  Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard [364.152 Mil]

James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back. But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what hap­pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur­moil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his con­dition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet. Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history.

Book Cover  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern [Morgenstern]

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.


August 18, 2011

Book Cover  Stealing Rembrandts by Anthony Amore [364.162 Amo]

Today, art theft is one of the most profitable criminal enterprises in the world, exceeding $6 billion in losses to galleries and art collectors annually. And the masterpieces of Rembrandt van Rijn are some of the most frequently targeted. In Stealing Rembrandts, art security expert Anthony M. Amore and award-winning investigative reporter Tom Mashberg reveal the actors behind the major Rembrandt heists in the last century. Through thefts around the world—from Stockholm to Boston, Worcester to Ohio—the authors track daring entries and escapes from the world’s most renowned museums. There are robbers who coolly walk off with multimillion dollar paintings; self-styled art experts who fall in love with the Dutch master and desire to own his art at all costs; and international criminal masterminds who don’t hesitate to resort to violence. They also show how museums are thwarted in their ability to pursue the thieves—even going so far as to conduct investigations on their own, far away from the maddening crowd of police intervention, sparing no expense to save the priceless masterpieces.
Book Cover  Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Set during the hazy, enchanting, and martini-filled world of New York City circa 1938, Rules of Civility follows three friends--Katey, Eve, and Tinker--from their chance meeting at a jazz club on New Year's Eve through a year of enlightening and occasionally tragic adventures. Tinker orbits in the world of the wealthy; Katey and Eve stretch their few dollars out each evening on the town. While all three are complex characters, Katey is the story's shining star. She is a fully realized heroine, unique in her strong sense of self amidst her life's continual fluctuations. Towles' writing also paints an inviting picture of New York City, without forgetting its sharp edges. Reminiscent of Fitzgerald, Rules of Civility is full of delicious sentences you can sit back and savor (most appropriately with a martini or two).
Book Cover  Unplanned by Abby Johnson [363.46 Joh]

Abby Johnson quit her job in October 2009. That simple act became a national news story because Abby was the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas who, after participating in her first actual abortion procedure, walked across the road to join the Coalition for Life. Unplanned is a heartstopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, a courtroom battle, and spiritual transformation that speaks hope and compassion into the political controversy that surrounds this issue. Telling Abby’s story from both sides of the abortion clinic property line, this book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the life versus rights debate and helping women who face crisis pregnancies.
Book Cover  We Don't Die: George Anderson's Conversations with the Other Side by George Anderson [Non-Fiction]

Put together by a radio-show personality who worked closely with medium George Anderson, We Don't Die is well documented, well written, and seems veracious. It is one of the most convincing accounts of communication with the deceased. A gentle religious man, Anderson was almost committed to a state mental hospital at age 16 because of his "visions," but by his 20s, he was helping spirits communicate with friends and relatives still residing on this plane of existence. Approximately 15 percent of the time he's not correct, and this is attributed to mix-ups in human communication or ignorance on the part of the questioner. The information that living folks pass between each other is often relayed or perceived inaccurately, so it seems logical that some perceptive error would occur in communications from the incarnate--particularly since a lot of these are conveyed through images, symbols, and tactile impressions. Anderson's conversations make for an engrossing read not to be missed.
Book Cover  Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and no one knows this better than New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list. Short on time to find evidence proving the killer’s identity, Stephanie faces further complications when her family and friends decide that it’s time for her to choose between her longtime off-again-on-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom is encouraging Stephanie to dump them both and choose a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, is encouraging Stephanie to have a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Grandma Bella, Morelli’s old-world grandmother, is encouraging Stephanie to move to a new state when she puts “the eye” on Stephanie. With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke.
Book Cover  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot [Biography Lacks]

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?

June 16, 2011

Book Cover  Zeitoun by Dave Eggers [Biography Zeitoun]

The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina. Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun run a house-painting business in New Orleans. In August of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy evacuates with their four young children, leaving Zeitoun to watch over the business. In the days following the storm he travels the city by canoe, feeding abandoned animals and helping elderly neighbors. Then, on September 6th, police officers armed with M-16s arrest Zeitoun in his home. Told with eloquence and compassion, Zeitoun is a riveting account of one family’s unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water.
Book Cover  The History of Love by Nicole Krauss [CALL]

A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother's loneliness. Leo Gursky is just about surviving, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And though Leo doesn't know it, that book survived, inspiring fabulous circumstances, even love. Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that very book. And although she has her hands full — keeping track of her brother, Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah), and taking copious notes on How to Survive in the Wild — she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With consummate, spellbinding skill, Nicole Krauss gradually draws together their stories. This extraordinary book was inspired by the author's four grandparents and by a pantheon of authors whose work is haunted by loss — Bruno Schulz, Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel, and more. It is truly a history of love: a tale brimming with laughter, irony, passion, and soaring imaginative power.
Book Cover  A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
Book Cover  The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva

Severing his ties with the Office to care for his traumatized wife after a violent showdown with Ivan Kharkov, Gabriel is reluctantly drawn into a case involving a murdered art restorer and discovers unsettling links between the killers and a recently discovered Rembrandt.
Book Cover  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles--and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother's death and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.
Book Cover  Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier With Less by Peter Walsh [332.024 Wal]

Lighten Up offers a road map to creating a less-is-more life, and teaches readers how a life of less can actually be a life of great abundance. Features three audits designed to instigate life changes: a financial audit combined with assessments of the physical junk filling your homes and the emotional junk causing tension in your life.
Book Cover  The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs

As her only child Molly readies for college, local fabric shop owner Linda Davis shares one last adventure with her daughter -- a cross-country road trip to move Molly into her dorm. As they make their way through the heart of the country, Linda pieces together the scraps that make up Molly's young life.
Book Cover  Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff [940.548 Zuc]

Near the end of World War II, a plane carrying 24 members of the United States military, including nine Women’s Army Corps (WAC) members, crashed into the New Guinea jungle during a sightseeing excursion. 21 men and women were killed. The three survivors--a beautiful WAC, a young lieutenant who lost his twin brother in the crash, and a severely injured sergeant--were stranded deep in a jungle valley notorious for its cannibalistic tribes. They had no food, little water, and no way to contact their military base. The story of their survival and the stunning efforts undertaken to save them are the crux of Lost in Shangri-La, Mitchell Zuckoff’s remarkable and inspiring narrative. Faced with the potential brutality of the Dani tribe, known throughout the valley for its violence, the trio’s lives were dependent on an unprecedented rescue mission--a dedicated group of paratroopers jumped into the jungle to provide aid and medical care, consequently leaving the survivors and paratroopers alike trapped on the jungle floor. A perilous rescue by plane became their only possible route to freedom. A riveting story of deliverance under the most unlikely circumstances, Lost in Shangri-La deserves its place among the great survival stories of World War II.

April 21, 2011

Book Cover  Decision Points by George W. Bush [Biography Bush]

"Decision Points" is the extraordinary memoir of America's 43rd president. Shattering the conventions of political autobiography, George W. Bush offers a strikingly candid journey through the defining decisions of his life while writing honestly and directly about his flaws and mistakes, as well as his accomplishments.
[Also available in downloadable audio, downloadable E-book, book-on-cd, and Large Print formats.]
Book Cover  Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson [Davidson]

Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz cooks up big trouble as she tries to help her longtime friend and fellow chef Yolanda Garcia. When the rental house shared by Yolanda and her irrepressible aunt Ferdinanda is destroyed by arson, the pair move in with cop-turned-PI Ernest McLeod. But then Ernest is shot dead and his house is set on fire, nearly killing Goldy, Yolanda, Ferdinanda, and nine beagle puppies that Ernest had recently rescued from a puppy mill. Concerned for her friends, Goldy invites them to stay with her while the sheriff’s department investigates. Yet even Goldy’s house isn’t safe, and after a failed break-in by an unknown intruder a cop is sent to keep an eye on things. Then a second body is found
[Also available in book-on-cd, and Large Print formats.]
Book Cover  Unbearable Lightness by Portia deRossi [Biography DeRossi]

“Anorexia was my first love,” de Rossi declares in her memoir of her early Hollywood career and the eating disorders that went along with it. Her unflinching self-portrait depicts a cripplingly self-conscious young Australian in LA overwhelmed by the pressure to be thin. Never comfortable in her own skin, a by-product of her status as a closeted lesbian, de Rossi was sure if she ever gained weight (or came out as being gay), the shooting star she’d been cultivating would turn to lead. Weight loss was the key that allowed de Rossi to feel powerful and in control, until dieting became a sickness that nearly killed her and devastated her family. De Rossi’s story and words are not revolutionary, but they are frank, brave, and revelatory of the unhealthy trends that stardom can generate.
Book Cover  Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Roleplayes, Online Gamers and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms by Ethan Gilsdorf [794.8 Gil]

In the late ’70s, playing fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons put [Ethan Gilsdorf] on equal social footing as the AV club. Thirty years later, though, fantasy films rule the box office, J.R.R. Tolkien is considered essential reading and games like World of Warcraft are pop-culture phenomena…. But there are still pockets of fantasy culture—Lord of the Rings conventions, Society for Creative Anachronism battles, LARP (Live Action Role Playing) camps—that the casual fantasy nerd wouldn’t even dare to tread…. ‘I wanted to know why a 40-year-old man is still so interested in this stuff that he’d dress up in armor on the weekends,’ [Gilsdorf] says. The author traveled from the woods of South Carolina to libraries in Wisconsin, from battlefields in Pennsylvania to the mountains of New Zealand—all in the quest to find some answers. His conclusion? They get to the heart of why any of us, geeks or not, become involved with any group. ‘It’s all about a sense of belonging,’ says Gilsdorf. And maybe a bit about killing stuff.
Book Cover  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness [Harkness]

In Harkness's lively debut, witches, vampires, and demons outnumber humans at Oxford's Bodleian Library, where witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her. Against all occult social propriety, Bishop turns for protection to tall, dark, bloodsucking man-about-town Clairmont. Their research raises questions of evolution and extinction among the living dead, and their romance awakens centuries-old enmities. Harkness imagines a crowded universe where normal and paranormal creatures observe a tenuous peace. "Magic is desire made real," Bishop says after both her desire and magical prowess exceed her expectations
[Also available in book-on-cd format.]
Book Cover  Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin [636.7 Lev]

In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen--one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue--ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy's charms, and decided to take him home. Heartwarming and redemptive, OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him "Oogy" (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own.
[Also available in downloadable audio format.]
Book Cover  Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts [Roberts]

This searing stand-alone from bestseller Roberts celebrates the smoke jumpers of Missoula, Mont., who routinely risk life and limb to beat down raging forest fires. As close knit as any military combat unit, the "Zulies" inidx=title&op=and&qteran Rowan Tripp, haunted by the loss of Jim Brayner, her onetime jump partner who was killed the previous season in a fall, and rookie Gulliver Curry, who soon earns the nickname "Fast Feet" for his speed and prowess. Threatening trouble is cook Dolly Brakeman, Jim's girlfriend, who blames Rowan for his death—and whose new baby may well be Jim's. Rowan and Gull grow closer as the team battles fires from Montana and Idaho to California and Alaska. Meanwhile, the Zulies are plagued by vandalism and sabotage as well as a killer with arson among his crimes
[Also available in downloadable audio, book-on-cd, and Large Print formats.]
Book Cover  The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon [Zafon]

In 1920s Barcelona, David Martin is born into poverty, but, aided by patron and friend Pedro Vidal, he rises to become a crime reporter and then a beloved pulp novelist. David's creative pace is frenetic; holed up in his dream house--a decrepit mansion with a sinister history--he produces two great novels, one for Vidal to claim as his own, and one for himself. But Vidal's book is celebrated while David's is buried, and when Vidal marries David's great love, David accepts a commission to write a story that leads him into danger. As he explores the past and his mysterious publisher, David becomes a suspect in a string of murders, and his race to uncover the truth is a delicious puzzle: is he beset by demons or a demon himself?
[Also available in downloadable audio format.]

February 18, 2011

Book Cover  Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff [Biography Cleopatra]

Her palace shimmered with gold but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Cleopatra, the wealthiest ruler of her time and one of the most powerful women in history, was a canny political strategist, a brilliant manager, a tough negotiator, and the most manipulative of lovers. Although her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.

At only 18 years old, Cleopatra was already one of history's most remarkable figures: the Queen of Egypt. A lethal political struggle with her brother marked her early adulthood and set the tone for the rest of her life; a relationship with Julius Caesar, forged while under siege in her palace, launched her into a deadly mix of romance and strategy; a pleasure cruise down the Nile followed, a child, and a trip to Rome, which ended in Cleopatra's flight. After Caesar's brutal murder, she began a nine-year affair with Mark Antony, with whom she had three more children. Antony and Cleopatra's alliance and attempt to forge a new empire spelled both their ends.

The subject of gossip and legend, veneration and speculation in her lifetime, Cleopatra fascinated the world right up to her death. In the 2000 years since, myths about the last Queen of Egypt have been fueled by Shakespeare, Dryden, and Shaw, who put words in her mouth, and by Michelangelo, Delacroix, and Elizabeth Taylor, who put a face to her name.
[Also available in downloadable audio and book-on-cd formats.]
Book Cover  Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

From the National Book Award-winning author of "The Corrections" comes a darkly comedic novel about family. Franzen's intensely realized characters struggle to learn how to live in an ever-confusing world--one with the temptations and burdens of liberty, the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, and the heavy weight of empire.
[Also available in downloadable audio and book-on-cd formats.]
Book Cover  The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America by Timothy Egan [Biography Roosevelt]

Narrates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire of August, 1910, and Teddy Roosevelt's pioneering conservation efforts that helped turn public opinion permanently in favor of the forests, though it changed the mission of the forest service with consequences felt in the fires of today.
[Also available in downloadable audio and book-on-cd formats.]
Book Cover  Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Ostracized for her role in halting best friend Lucy's wedding, Meg finds herself stranded without family support in a hostile Texas town where she unexpectedly falls for the town's golden boy. Ted Beaudine.
[Also available in downloadable audio, downloadable E-book and book-on-cd formats.]
Book Cover  You Had Me At Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam [636.7 Kla]

The hilarious and heartfelt chronicle of a woman learning the secrets of love, health, and happiness from some very surprising teachers: her dogs. Julie Klam was thirty, single, and working as a part-time clerk in an insurance company, wondering if she would ever meet the man she could spend the rest of her life with. And then it happened. She met the irresistible Otto, her first in a long line of Boston terriers, and fell instantly in love. You Had Me at Woofis the often hilarious and always sincere story of how one woman discovered life's most important lessons from her relationships with her canine companions. From Otto, Julie realized what it might feel like to find "the one." She learned to share her home, her heart, and her limited resources with another, and she found an authentic friend in the process. But that was just the beginning. Over the years her brood has grown to one husband, one daughter, and several Boston terriers. And although she had much to learn about how to care for them-walks at 2 a.m., vet visits, behavior problems-she was surprised and delighted to find that her dogs had more wisdom to convey to her than she had ever dreamed. And caring for them has made her a better person-and completely and utterly opened her heart. Riotously funny and unexpectedly poignant, You Had Me at Woofrecounts the hidden surprises, pleasures, and revelations of letting any mutt, beagle, terrier, or bulldog go charging through your world.
Book Cover  Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession by Julie Powell [Biography Powell]

Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischer's, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs--tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts. The camaraderie at Fleischer's leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world-- from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly heart.
[Also available in downloadable audio, downloadable E-book and book-on-cd formats.]

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