Monday, February 27, 2012

Off Screen Talents

Most of us have a favorite celebrity. We have seen all of their movies or listened to all of their CDs; we have read interviews they do in the latest magazines. I will admit that I am probably obsessed with Taylor Swift, but she hasn’t written a book for me to read, yet.  There are celebrities who have written books that have made their way to our shelves here at the Bartow County Library System. Now, I can hear some of you groaning all the way from here. “A celebrity written book? Surely they aren’t any good,” and you will go back to reading the latest novel written by your favorite author. Trust me, though, some times books written by celebrities can surprise you. 

Comedian Steve Martin is probably better known for his stint on SNL and his starring roles in movies like The Jerk and the Father of the Bride movies.  Martin has also written a number of novels, his most recent being " An Object of Beauty". The novel tells the story of Lacey Yeager, a young woman who gets her first job out of college at Sotheby’s, the art auction house in New York.   Narrated by Lacey’s art critic friend, Daniel, we see the rise and fall of a young woman who becomes obsessed with the art world.  She learns that the more beautiful something is, the more value it has in the moneyed world she inhabits. Lacey’s obsession leads her to take bigger gambles with her career and money that ultimately causes problems with her future as the art world becomes more tumultuous.  Lacey becomes entangled, both emotionally and financially.  If you are not well acquainted with the artists and paintings mentioned, colored reproductions are woven into the narrative of the story.

If Steve Martin isn’t your cup of tea, try "The Gun Seller" by Hugh Laurie, who is known for his performance as Dr. House in the television show of the same name and as a British comedian. "The Gun Seller" is about Thomas Lang, a former Army officer who is now working as a hired gun. When Lang is hired to assassinate an American business man, Lang decides to go to Amsterdam and warn his target instead. However, the simple decision Lang makes to warn his target turns into something much larger. Lang suddenly finds himself involved in a potential terrorist plot and a conspiracy about a top-secret attack helicopter that is being developed by the government.  Laurie’s novel is a satire of most spy novels, but is very enjoyable to read and would be perfect for fans of adventure novels written by Clive Cussler or spy thrillers by John Le Carre.

But if you want something lighter and more inspirational, country singer Sara Evans has written a book that is probably right up your alley. "The Sweet By and By" tells the story of eccentric curio shop owner Jade in quaint Whisper Hollow, Tennessee. Jade is a few weeks away from getting married and has to reconcile her relationship with her hippie mother, Beryl. While her fiancĂ©, Max, seems perfect, Jade has her own secrets that her mother’s arrival in town brings back to the forefront of her peaceful life. Beryl also has her own secrets to reveal to her daughter before her wedding and before it’s too late to say anything. The story is sweet and romantic, without being over the top. It’s an inspirational story that is easy to read and you can definitely see Evans’ country-singer background within the novel because it has elements of the simple and sweet songs she is known for.

Steve Martin, Hugh Laurie, and Sara Evans all have great talents when it comes to story-telling, and they all successfully told entertaining and enjoyable reads.  Here are some other recommended celebrity books:
Love Lifted Me by Sara Evans
A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett 
Elixir by Hilary Duff
Surrender the Pink by Carrie Fisher
Man in White by Johnny Cash   
The Justice Riders by Chuck Norris

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bewitching Books

Witches take center stage in these paranormal books featuring strong female protagonists with unique magical gifts they use to maintain order in society.  While all feature a romantic interest, they vary from mysteries to urban fantasies.  

Heather Blake introduces a charming new cozy mystery series in It Takes a Witch.  Darcy Merriweatherand her sister have recently discovered they are from a family of Wishcrafters and possess the power to grant wishes using magic; unfortunately this gift is restricted by a long list of rules which their Aunt Ve helps them master.  The Merriweathers move to Enchanted Village in Salem, Massachusetts to join Aunt Ve’s business, As You Wish, which, along with the other shops in the village, appears to be an everyday business, but magic is their secret trade.  Shortly after Darcy arrives in the village, an unpopular shopkeeper is murdered and an innocent man, Aunt Ve’s beau, is blamed.  As Darcy becomes involved in village life, she discovers other Crafters and their unique crafts, masters her own craft, and tackles the unique jobs of As You Wish, she sees and hears things that lead to the identity of the true killer.   

Kalayna Price introduces the gritty, urban fantasy series featuring Alex Craft in Grave Witch.  Craft is a witch whose day job as private investigator and police consultant requires her to retrieve “shades” of the dead to provide her clients with closure or to identify their killers; she is also interacts with ghosts and Death himself.  While raising a "shade" involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her.   Then someone makes an attempt on her life, possibly to prevent her from raising the shade of a murdered child during the trial. Someone really does not want her to know what the dead have to say, and she will have to work with the mysterious new homicide detective Falin, to uncover the truth and save her own life.  

Dime Store Magic is Kelley Armstrong’s third book in her urban fantasy series, Otherworld.  Young Paige Winterbourne has succeeded her mother as leader of the American Coven of Witches and guardian of a moody teenager, Savannah, with a taste for black magic.  Savannah’s formerly unknown father, a sorcerer and leader of a powerful magical Cabal, employs the wicked half-demon, Leah, to get Savannah and her powers for the Cabal.  As a result, good witch Paige is set up as a murderer, accused of Satanism, and exiled from her coven.  Paige hires a sorcerer attorney of the Cortez Cabal to fight her legal battles, but soon finds a shared chemistry which leads to all kinds of magic as they fight to protect Savannah from becoming a pawn in the game of supernatural evil. 

Melissa de la Cruz’s Witches of East End is the first in a series about the Hampton’s based Beauchamps, witches so old the daughters were hung during the Salem witch hunt.  Ingrid and Freya, were later reborn to their mother Joanna but all were restricted by the elders from openly practicing magic.  In the present, Freya, a bartender, recognizes an ancient soul mate in Bran, and quickly becomes engaged; unfortunately her gift for love leads to an affair with Bran’s brother Killian.  Meanwhile, public librarian Ingrid is chafing at the magic ban and soon works her white magic to heal friends and patrons. Freya follows suit and pursues her own peculiar brand of magic, aphrodisiac cocktails, which leads to the disappearance of an amorous couple and a murder.   Joanna gradually allows her magic freedom as a she restores a friend to life, only he might have been too far on the other side for the spell to be all positive.  Join the Beauchamps in this serpentine tale of magic, romance, and suspense.

If you are in the mood for a wicked romance, try Linda Winstead Jones’s Sisters of the Sun trilogy.  Cursed by a rejected suitor, the Fyne witches are destined never to know true and lasting love.  For over 300 years, the sorcerer’s curse has held true so The Sun Witch, Sophie Fyne vows never to love but to use men to have children.  Following three nights of dreaming of a green eyed stranger, the rebel Kane Varden appears and is seduced by Sophie.  She leaves him with a wish spell for good luck and herself with their daughter.  One year later Kane returns to Fyne Mountain and discovers their daughter.  He wants both mother and daughter, but Sophie resists because of the curse.  When their daughter is kidnapped, Sophie and Kane journey to the kingdom’s capital to rescue their daughter while protecting Kane’s rebel identity from her captors. 

Enjoy a little magic this Valentine’s Day in an adventure of a bewitching heroine.

Additional recommended titles
The Witching Hour - Anne Rice   
The Witches of Eastwick - John Updike   
Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman    
Witch Fire - Anya Bast