Monday, December 2, 2013

Sharp Objects

Reporter Camille Preaker goes back to her hometown of Wind Gap to investigate the murder of one little girl and the disappearance of another.  She stays in her childhood home with her mother, stepfather and half-sister, Amma.  Missing is little sister Marian who died as a child. Camille has a contentious relationship with her mother and almost no connection with the rest of the family. On this journey she will come to know her half-sister better although what she discovers will unsettle her. Camille also manages to unearth the murderer’s true identity while busy unwrapping the dark layers of her past.

The author writes about deeply disturbed characters as if she knows them intimately. This is a very dark story that will keep you riveted.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

A long lost letter puts Edie Burchill on a path to discovering her mother’s secret past. During World War II Edie’s mother, Meredith, is one of scores of children shipped to the countryside to escape Hitler’s bombing of London.  There she is taken in by Raymond Blythe and his three daughters at Milderhurst Castle.

The eldest daughters, Percy and Saffy, are twins from Raymond’s first marriage. Youngest daughter Juniper, from his second, inherited the literary talent of her father, a renowned author, but also suffers from a bit of his madness. When Juniper’s fiancĂ© abandons her, her tenuous grasp of reality further unravels. Juniper’s sisters try their best to protect and care for their little sister.

When Edie is invited to write an introduction to the 50th anniversary edition of  Raymond Blythe’s famous novel, The True History of the Mud Man, she visits Milderhurst Castle to interview the Blythe sisters. Along the way she will uncover the true story behind the masterpiece, a host of other family secrets and a deeper understanding of her mother. Kate Morton’s mysterious Gothic tale, reminiscent of a Daphne du Maurier novel, will keep you enthralled until the end.




Saturday, September 7, 2013

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Retired Major Ernest Pettigrew lives in a small village in England. He is a widower who has led a dull life since his wife's passing. He strikes up a friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali from Pakistan. His friendship with Mrs. Ali soon becomes the talk of the village. His son doesn't approve nor do his friends. Will Major Pettigrew live his life as he sees fit or will he bow to family and societal pressure? 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Margot by Jillian Cantor

Everyone who’s read The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank knows that Anne and her sister, Margot, died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
But what if Margot didn’t die?
What if she somehow survived and immigrated to Philadelphia?
What if she continued to hide?
That’s the premise of Jillian Cantor’s new novel. It’s 1959, after Anne’s diary has been published, and the movie has been made. Margot has changed herself into Margie Franklin, a Christian from Poland. She works for a law firm, where she pines for her Jewish boss as they take on a Jewish discrimination case. But she really is still in hiding, in her tiny studio apartment, secretly keeping Sabboth and wearing sweaters in the heat of summer to hide her numbered tattoo.
A quiet, thoughtful novel that will get you thinking not only about all the "what-ifs" but I bet after reading it you will go back and want to read "Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank like I did!

FOLLY BEACH by Dorthea Benton Frank

 I had the good fortune this past spring to spend a couple of days on Folly Beach, South Carolina, so of course when this book crossed my desk I was intrigued. I was expecting a total beach read and it was that but with an added dose of historical fiction thrown in which is always a good thing for me!
“Folly Beach” by Dorothea Benton Frank,  alternates between telling the story of Cate Cooper, a recent widow, who returns to her childhood home on Folly Beach to find out who she really always was meant to be and the true story of Dorothy and Du Bose Heyward, who co-wrote “Porgy and Bess” with George Gershwin.  Both stories play out while the characters stay in the “Porgy House” at Folly Beach and that is what weaves the stories together.
If you are looking for a light beach read with an added touch of history,  “Folly Beach” is perfect for you!

HEFT by Liz Moore


“Arthur Opp is heartbreaking. A 58-year old former professor of literature, he weighs 550 lbs., hasn’t left his Brooklyn apartment in years and is acutely attuned to both the painful and analgesic dimensions of his self-imposed solitude. Kel Keller, a handsome and popular high school athlete whose mother drinks too much to take care of him or even herself, faces his own wrenching struggles. The pair, apparently connected only by a slender thread, at first seem unlikely as co-narrators and protagonists of this novel, but they both become genuine heroes as their separate journeys through loneliness finally intersect. Though Moore’s narrative is often deeply sad, it is never maudlin. She writes with compassion and emotional insight but resists sentimentality, briskly moving her plot forward, building suspense and empathy. Most impressive is her ability to thoroughly inhabit the minds of Arthur and Kel; these are robust, complex characters to champion, not pity. The single word of the title is obviously a reference to Arthur’s morbid obesity, but it also alludes to the weight of true feelings and the courage needed to confront them. Heft leads to hope.” (People Magazine )

My daughter recommended this book to me and it IS a great read! I couldn’t do a better job than the reviewer above who sums this book up to perfection.

Give this captivating story a chance…you won’t be disappointed!

Holy Orders: A Quirke Novel by Benjamin Black


     Dr. Quirke , pathologist, amateur detective, lover of brandy, brooder, and compelling character in several Benjamin Black (pen name of Man Booker Award winner novelist John Banville) novels is again asked by Dublin's Chief Inspector to go 'round with him to interview the possible suspects in a murder investigation. And so the plot quickly unfolds.  Eventually, the murder is solved in a plot driven by the involvement of Phoebe, Quirke's daughter, as she becomes involved with the sister of the victim, as well as, the connections to the well loved parish priest, who is being shipped off to Africa, and the frightening, neighboring gypsy/tinker campers.  In addition, to the vivid character descriptions of the story, the setting of 1950's Ireland contains intense foreboding, especially when the rains are only briefly interrupted by sunshine.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Paper Towns by John Green

John Green takes you through the souls and thoughts of what teens are thinking about as they enter and mature through their senior year.  Paper Towns is a love story that we all can think back on from when we were in high school and makes you remember that ultimate crush you had.
Paper Towns takes you on an adventure through lost towns that are abandoned but never forgotten by Margo Roth Spieglman.  As Margo’s “friend” Quentin goes to these paper towns he finds out who Margo Roth Spieglman truly is and that she is not a lost soul after all.  This book even creates its own version of Wikipedia called Omnictionary.  It is through Omnictionary that the adventurious suspense of where Margo Roth Spieglman can be found will come to fruition.
If you like suspense, true love and adventure, then this is the book for you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

This is a novel about Nora, a lonely, thirty-seven year old teacher living in a two bedroom apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Even though Nora has set up her second bedroom as an art studio, she cannot find the inspiration needed to pursue her art. Her life changes when her new student Reza Shahid is attacked by bullies on her watch, and she meets Reza’s mother, a beautiful Italian artist married to a Lebanese professor teaching at Harvard on a fellowship for a year.

Nora soon becomes obsessed with this family. Through knowing them, she feels she has new purpose in life, and even begins to pursue her art. But with any obsession, there is always a price to pay.

This is a well written, psychological suspense novel, and the twist at the end will stay with you for some time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden

Tracy DiSabato-Aust’s book is a great resource for information on perennial maintenance.  She addresses subjects like designing with maintenance in mind, bed preparation, pruning, deadheading, pinching and division. The second half of the book, which I find the most useful, includes dozens of entries on specific perennials and their pruning requirements along with other maintenance tasks. If you have ever wondered if deadheading a particular perennial will give you that extra flush of bloom, read this book. There are also useful lists in the back with such titles as “lower maintenance perennials”, “clay busters” and ” deer-resistant perennials”. Tracy has over twenty years of experience designing and maintaining perennial gardens.  She has experimented with cutting back perennials in her customer’s gardens to find what works best for various species. This book is a very handy guide for keeping your garden beds beautiful and floriferous.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Double Deuce by Robert B. Parker

"A 14 year old girl and her baby are killed in a drive-by shooting in one of Boston's projects called Double Deuce.  Hawk is asked by the residents of Double Deuce to find the killer and to get rid of the Double Deuce gangs.  Hawk enlists his friend, Spenser, to help him."  While Hawk is a professional thug, Spenser is a private eye.  They use their unorthodox methods to find the killer.

I like reading Spenser books because of Parker's writing style.  He writes short chapters that move along quickly.  Before you know it, you are almost done with the book.  You may like a Spenser book if you like a quick read.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg

     "Four women venture into their pasts in order to shape their futures, fates, and fortunes."  (Amazon).  When her best friend dies, Cece, a motivational speaker and writer, moves into a house with three other women of various ages and careers. She is lonesome and realizes that she does not need the big house that she owns as well as the many accumulated possessions.  With a few bumps she eventually becomes friends with the others and one by one they begin opening up to each other about their pasts and current sorrows.  Unexpectedly, Cece gets a letter from an old flame. She decides to visit him as part of a road trip. This leads to a grand roadtrip including all the women who realize they could benefit by making an attempt to visit someone from their pasts.  Much of the plot is predictable, but there are many sweet moments related to friendships and to a vision of hope beyond ones feeling of loss and change.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Dinner by Herman Koch

This novel is dark and disturbing, yet a delightfully addictive read. An international best seller, The Dinner has been called the "European Gone Girl."

On a summer night in Amsterdam two couples, Paul and Claire and Serge and Babette meet in a chic restaurant to talk about their children. Each has a fifteen-year old son, and together the teens commit an unspeakable crime. Between entrees we learn that Paul, the father of Michel, has a dark past. Paul's disturbing secrets slowly unfold, chilling this reader to the bone. Serge, the father of the other boy is a prominent politician soon to become the Netherlands' prime minister. The mothers of the teens, Claire and Babette, have their own ideas of how to deal with the situation.

What's a parent to do? What would you do if you loved someone who committed a horrific crime?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Alan Bradley’s first novel introduces us to 11 year old Flavia de Luce.  Living in a run-down English estate in the 1950’s with her father and two sisters, Flavia fancies herself a detective.  She has a well-equipped chemistry lab to aid in her investigation.  Here she also loves to experiment with poisons, dreaming up ways to retaliate against the older sisters who torment her.  When a dead bird with a stamp on its beak appears on the family’s doorstep and a stranger is found murdered in the cucumber patch, Flavia sets out to investigate.  When it appears that Flavia’s stamp-collecting father may be involved, Flavia tries even harder to solve this case, despite resistance from the local police.  
Flavia is an endearing, intelligent character.  Author Bradley has received numerous awards for this book including the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award.  There are currently 5 books in this series with a sixth due out in January.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Angels at the Table by Debbie Macomber

Angels at the Table is the latest in the Angel Series.  Shirley, Goodness and Mercy are back with an apprentice angel, Will.

Shirley, Goodness, Mercy, and Will are God’s prayer ambassadors.  They have come down to Earth even though it is forbidden.  Their presence on Earth causes some mishaps.

In this novel, Lucie and Aren meet in Times Square on New Year’s Eve with the help of the angels, Shirley, Goodness, Mercy, and Will.  Lucie is a chef who has recently opened a restaurant, Heavenly Delights.  Aren is an anonymous food critic for the New York Gazette newspaper.  Their relationship hits a bump in the road.  The angels feel it is their duty to help them get back together.  Instead they cause more problems, sometimes with funny results.  Eventually, their efforts to reunite Lucie and Aren are successful.

This book is for anyone who enjoys a warm hearted story with a happy ending.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ken Follett's historical epic entitled The Century Trilogy:
The first book of the trilogy, Fall of Giants, takes place at the time of WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the fight for women’s suffrage.  Five families from different countries, interconnected through relationships, become embroiled in the national causes of their countries.  Often members are on opposing sides of the issues and even of the battles of war.  Winter of the World, the second book in the trilogy picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, Welsh—enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. The third book, due out in 2014 and provisionally titled Edge of Eternity, will be about the next generation during the Cold War.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Abandoned as a baby, Victoria has spent her entire childhood in foster care. Her bad behavior and mistrust of people makes it difficult for her to stay anywhere for too long. Her social worker has lost patience with her but is willing to place her in one more foster home before she gives up and places Victoria in a group home where she will stay until she turns eighteen. Victoria is nine when she moves in with Elizabeth, an expert with plants and flowers. Victoria learns about the meanings of plants and flowers and begins to relate to the world through this knowledge. Things go pretty well until Victoria learns that Elizabeth has some very dark secrets from her past.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Garden Color Book

As the end of a dreary winter approaches, it’s time to look forward to spring planting. Perhaps you want an ornamental garden, but don’t know which plants can live together harmoniously. You might know your plants but have difficulty coming up with pleasing combinations. The Garden Book of Color can assist you with all of this. Pages are divided into three sections that flip individually like flashcards. Each page displays a tic- tac- toe of plants grouped by color and height. You can flip the page sections to match them up with a myriad of others displaying annuals, perennials and shrubs of different shapes and colors. On the opposing page you will find concise information on size, light/moisture requirements, hardiness and bloom times. Also included are suitable companion plants, along with maintenance and propagation tips. If you need a little extra help, the back section of the book contains “planting recipes” for colorful, enticing gardens. This is a very practical book, with lush, seductive photography. It’s a must read for any garden enthusiast, even apartment dwellers looking for a good fantasy.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie is a girl with a penchant for trouble—which she uses to cover the sadness at the loss of her good-guy of a brother in the war.  She’s such trouble, in fact, that her actions get her into MAJOR trouble with the local rich kid’s family. The situation left Evie tipsy and out of control of her weird talent: psychically reading objects to find out about the owner’s life. As a result, Evie’s parents send her away for a while to live with her uncle in New York City.  Uncle Will (aka Unk) runs The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult and is an expert on the topic. Beside him is his lurching assistant Jericho, who despite being pretty animatronic, actually isn’t a bad guy.  Together they embark on the strange and fantastic journey to get to the bottom of the unsolved crimes of ghost Naughty John.   
I was just over the moon listening to this title because the setting is so rich and vivid.  The 1920s envelope you from beginning to end.  I always worry when I read a story from this time period; it's a particular favorite of mine and so few authors do it justice. The setting, however, feels simply jake...the lingo, the bustle of New York and the vastness that is the Ohio plain are all spot on. The characters in this story are richly painted in their entirety as completely imperfect; there is not a hero or heroine without a temptable, dark side. The darkest moments could not make you feel any more creeped out. The audio on this was spot on; the voices sang like the Jazz Age and the speaker crossed color lines and gender roles flawlessly. I cannot wait to see where this series goes next. I love, love Libba Bray. She just gives me a full serving of amazing every time she writes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Archie: The Married Life: Book One by Michael Uslan and Paul Kupperberg

Did you know that the library has Graphic Novels for adults?  Archie and the gang are back in "Archie: The Married Life: Book One" by Michael Uslan and Paul Kupperberg.  One would assume from the title of the book that Archie is married to either Betty or Veronica.  Instead, the reader is treated to two different versions of Archie's life.  The book goes back and forth between Archie's married life with Betty and his married life with Veronica.  The reader also gets to see how Archie's friends turned out.

I enjoyed the two different story lines.  I loved finding out how Archie and the gang turned out as adults.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blessed AreThose Who Thirst: A Hanne Wilhemsen Mystery. By Anne Holt.

Among the influx of Nordic crime fiction is Holt’s second novel which is part of a mystery series with Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhemsen as the main character, and this follows the publication of Holt’s Edgar Award Winning thriller 1222. The author spent time with the Oslo Police Department as a lawyer at one time which is evident as she describes police procedures that lead to solving the crimes. Quite subordinate to the main plot are Hanne’s relationships with fellow cops and with her live in partner, as well as, some social commentary on immigration issues. The plot includes lots of blood but no bodies, just numbers written in the blood. Eventually, Hanne solves the murders with her keen sense of observation along with tedious investigations in her pursuit for justice.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Confessions of a Transylvanian: a story of Sex, Drugs, and Rocky Horror by Kevin Theis & Ron Fox

Ok, I admittedly first picked up this book because I know the author. I knew NOTHING about the Rocky Horror Picture Show before reading this book, but thought I would give it a try and I was so richly rewarded!

I totally enjoyed this book. Kevin and Ron tell a great story of their lives in the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast in the early 80's. The authors (from Kevin's narrational point of view) juxtapose life stories from actual Rocky shows with life stories from outside the show, which really gives the reader a personal connection with Kevin/"Jack", Ron and their friends/fellow cast members. By the end of the book you really feel as if you know everyone mentioned in the book and have shared their crazy experiences with them. While Rocky Horror provides the context and is a fascinating subculture to explore, it's just fine to be a virgin to the RHPS freak show --the real magic of this story is how vividly it evokes the time in everyone's life when you first begin to find yourself.

Side note: as if the title didn't give it away, this is PG-13 material.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Dog's Journey

This delightful tale mixed with some real life drama sees the world through the eyes of this dog and helps soften some, what would be considered by many, otherwise serious scenarios.

The companionship and devotion of the dog is touching and will appeal to anyone who loves, has loved or may love and know the loyalty of a dog.  Yes, it is for dog lovers. 

Obviously, no one really knows exactly what makes an animal do anything, but this book allows the reader to enjoy imagining the possibilities.

Additionally, this book takes the reader to a wonderful place regarding the lives of animals and what may happen to them before and after the life known to each animal owner and weaves a thread that many may find appealing.

Specifically, this dog stands by a family, gets to know who is good and who is not, and loves completely and helps as much as possible, in a very dog way, through many twists and turns, some expected, some not so expected.

I fell in love with this book and this dog and can't wait to read other dog tales by this author and strongly recommend this read to dog lovers everywhere!

And, if you prefer audio this book is available as a "Playaway" so you can listen to it, whcih gives an added bonus because then, the dog actually has a voice!