Monday, July 25, 2011

Novel Destinations and Beyond

We hope you have been enjoying our blogs this summer.  We have traveled to India and China, delved into memories and the mind, encountered vampires, experienced romance and mystery, and even had a few laughs.  We will continue to blog throughout the fall every 2 weeks starting August 15th.  You will be able to find our blog in August under the Adult Services tab on our website. 

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a good book, take a look at our What Do I Read Next page under the Adult Services tab.  On this page we have listed our favorite websites for finding new authors.  On the right hand side of the page we have reading lists by separated by genre and subject.  Would you like a Regency romance, a forensic mystery, or Star-Wars science fiction?  You can find lists for those and many more.

This week we’d like to hear from you.  What good books have you read this summer?  What made them memorable?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Give Nonfiction a Try…Just for Laughs

Okay all you devoted fiction lovers, don’t stop reading yet!  I know that most of you just head for the fiction floor unless you need a cookbook, help with a hobby, a medical condition, a travel guide or some other instructional type material.  But there is so much more in the land of Dewey.  Sorry fellows, the titles I’ll chat about are pretty much for women but there’s a lot of wit and wisdom to go round.  So give them a try.

I’m pretty sure you’ve all heard of Lisa Scottoline but have you read Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog?  It’s hard to admit that I’ve never read her mysteries, but when this book of her columns adapted from The Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “Chick Wit” came through, I couldn’t resist.  Lisa’s topics are about women and everyday life and the list of characters include her mother (Mother Mary), her gay brother (Frank), her daughter (Francesca), a couple of best friends, her ex-husbands (Thing One & Thing Two) and her beloved pets.  From stories about dieting (carb rehab) to Spanx, be prepared to laugh!  & don’t be shocked to find me in the fiction S aisle because Lisa is bound to throw around some humor there too.  There’s a follow-up book of essays co-authored with her daughter, Francesca.  Not as funny (perhaps because the daughter isn’t as funny) but still a good read.

Next up is Nora Ephron of movie screenplay fame When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and Julie & Julia.  In her books of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing, she shares stories about her life’s work but mostly she tells about the ups and downs of aging.  The author speaks about dealing with menopause, empty nests, the maintenance involved with aging—hair dye, unwanted hair, exercise,  fading eyesight— divorce, etc.  It’s all done with candor and good humor.  Check out her chapter on “What I Wish I’d Known”  in …Bad About My Neck.  My particular favorite is: Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of 35 you will be nostalgic for at the age of 45.  Add a couple of decades and it’s even more nostalgic!

We are all familiar with the movie and television star, Betty White, and her resurgence in popularity during the last few years.  Her recent book, If You Ask Me, is a delightful mix of observations on multiple topics and stories from her decades’ long career.  She’ll tell you her secrets for staying young—enthusiasm for her two passions, acting and her love of animals.  The short essays also include anecdotes of other celebrities including her co-stars from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls and the current hit Hot in Cleveland.  Betty gives behind the scenes details describing her craft and is always told with great humor.  She tenderly reminisces about the love of her life, Allen Lunden, but cracks you up with her humor when speaking of her crush, Robert Redford.  Her stories and insights always show her character, her integrity, her gratefulness and her joy for life.  Included are numerous photos taken of Betty, her friends and loved ones throughout her life.

So if you’re looking for some “real life” summer laughs, give these titles a shot.

Other Recommended Titles:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dying to get away?

Travel can be a thrilling experience, unless your final destination is murder. I particularly enjoy reading murder mysteries, and now that summer is here, I find myself thinking of another great love of mine – travel.  So, why not combine the two and read some excellent mysteries that can help me quench my thirst for adventure? 

One of my favorite authors to recommend, Kathy Reichs, satisfies both of these needs with her popular series about the world-renowned, globe-trotting forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan. If the name sounds familiar, it may interest you to know that Reichs is also a producer for the popular TV show, Bones, and has described the main character of the show as a younger version of the character in her books. In the books, Temperance is a divorced recovering alcoholic with a grown daughter. Instead of working for the Jeffersonian Institute (like the character in the show), Temperance divides her time between her duties as a professor at the University of North Carolina, her position as a forensic anthropologist for the Laboratoire de Medecine Legale in Montreal, and occasional assignments with other agencies that need her expertise to identify remains whose flesh is too degraded for a regular coroner to obtain evidence.

For example in Fatal Voyage, Temperance joins the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT) when an airplane crashes and the badly burned and fragmented remains of the victims need to be identified.  During the course of the investigation, Temperance discovers a body part that cannot be connected to any of the passengers or the crew aboard the plane, and her resulting investigation with her partner and love-interest from Montreal, Andrew Ryan, uncovers another mystery.  Several books later, Grave Secrets, brings Temperance all the way to Guatemala to a mass grave in the village of Chupan Ya to excavate the remains of the victims of genocide.  During the excavation she becomes involved in an investigation into the disappearance of several girls from Guatemala City and the murder of a young archaeologist.  In Cross Bones, Temperance travels halfway across the world to Israel and the Holy Land in her quest to solve the murder of an orthodox Jew in Montreal, and when an ancient skeleton is added into the mix, the mystery and the danger for Temperance and her partner heats up again.  Finally, in Reichs’ most recent book, Spider Bones, Temperance returns to North America when she investigates a bizarre drowning death in Hemmingford, Quebec.  The victim turns out to be an American soldier, John Lowery, who was originally thought to have died in a Huey crash in Vietnam.  The confusion over the identity of Lowery brings Temperance to Hawaii to the headquarters of JPAC, the U.S. military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, where she discovers Lowery’s dog tags with the body of another soldier, sparking further questions into the incident in Vietnam. Meanwhile, Temperance is again asked by a local official, this time Honolulu’s medical examiner, for help. The remains of the Honolulu decedent turn out to be those of an adolescent boy who may have been the victim of a shark attack or murder. Soon Temperance realizes that someone doesn’t want her to discover the truth about one of the victims, and she has to solve the mystery before someone buries her, and the truth, forever.  In conclusion, throughout her many novels, Kathy Reichs uses her real-life expertise as a forensic anthropologist to craft unique, factually accurate stories as she develops multi-faceted characters, describes diverse settings, and weaves complex plots with well-thought out conclusions.  Unlike some authors, Reichs creates a completely new story with each subsequent book.

But what if you’re not into the nitty-gritty details of forensics and science?  For those who are interested in mysteries that are a little less graphic, or who just want a lighter read, two other authors, Maggie Sefton and Anthony Eglin, might be just what the doctor ordered.  Eglin’s mystery series will appeal to gardeners who have always wanted to travel to England.  The first book in the series, The Blue Rose, introduces Alex and Kate Shepherd, the proud new owners of a small nineteenth-century country house located in the village of Steeple Tarrant in Wiltshire, England. Called The Parsonage, the house is charming, but it’s the old garden that enchants Kate, and it is during her efforts to restore the overgrown garden to its former glory that she discovers an amazing blue rose. Immediately aware of the rarity of her find and its value, she and her husband engage the expert advice of Lawrence Kingston, a retired professor of botany and an expert on roses.  However, despite their efforts at secrecy word soon gets out about their discovery of their rare horticultural find.  Just as they’re discovering the origin of the blue rose they begin to realize that there are those who would stop at nothing to possess the blue rose, even if they have to resort to murder to get it.  As the body count starts rising, Kate and Alex begin to realize that the blue rose may be hiding other dangers.  Whether you’re a rose enthusiast or not, the mystery of The Blue Rose will be sure to captivate you!

Finally, for those who prefer knitting to gardening, Maggie Sefton’s mystery series about a Washington, D.C. based CPA named Kelly Flynn will be a good fit.  In the first book of the series, Knit One, Kill Two, the death of Kelly’s last living relative and mother-figure, her beloved Aunt Helen, brings her to Fort Connor, Colorado.  Not long after her arrival, Kelly discovers some puzzling information that leads her to embark on a mission to solve a murder and catch a killer.  With a little help from her newfound friends from the yarn shop next door, the House of Lambspun, Kelly unravels the mystery as she learns a thing or two about knitting, fun and friendship.  Well-written, with a cast of interesting characters, murders to solve, tales of friendship and a little bit of romance, each book in the series is entertaining and worth the read.  As an added bonus, each every book features a recipe and a pattern discussed in the novel. 

So, whether you’re destined for an exotic vacation, or a down-to-earth stay-cation, this summer don’t forget to pack a good read!

Other Recommended titles
By Maggie Sefton:

By Anthony Eglin: