Saturday, June 30, 2007
Summer at Tiffany - Marjorie Hart - Memoir of her summer of 1945 as one of the first two female pages at Tiffany's.
Way Off the Road - Bill Geist - Peculiar stories from small-town America.
Tales from Q School - John Feinstein - Inside golf's Qualifying Tournament.
The Chicago Way - Michael Harvey - ARC about private detective Michael Kelly, who looks for a cop killer who may have earlier connections.
Raven Black - Ann Cleeves - Inspector Jimmy Perez investigates the murder of a teenage girl on the Shetland Islands, years after another girl disappeared.
Murder Beyond Metropolis - Lonnie Cruse - 2nd in series. Sheriff Dalton investigates a series of murders of elderly people in Brookport, IL.
Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I learned from Judy Blume. ed. by Jennifer O'Connell - Essays by women writers about Blume's influence and impact on their lives.
Can I Keep My Jersey - Paul Shirley - Memoir of a journeyman basketball survivor.
I Am Legend - Richard Matheseon - The last man alive battles vampires for three years. To be released as a film starring Will Smith.
Porch Talk - Philip Gulley - The Quaker author of the Harmony books presents a collection of essays about decency, common sense and life.
Witch Hunt - Shirley Damsgaard - Despite her grandmother Abby's wishes, witch and librarian Ophelia investigates when bikers come to Summerset, Iowa and someone is murdered.
Lean Mean Thirteen - Janet Evanovich - When Stephanie Plum's ex-husband disappears after she argues with him while planting a bug for Ranger, she's the Burg's suspect.
The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan - Juv fiction about Percy Jackson, half-mortal with a god for a father and his quest to save the world from a gods' war.
Armed and Dangerous - William Queen & Douglas Century (B) Story of the hunt for one of California's most wanted criminals.
At Large and At Small - Anne Fadiman - Essays.
Michael Tolliver Lives! - Armistead Maupin - Life of an aging gay man and his friends in San Francisco.
The Black Te Experiments - Ray Atkinson - A student has evidence about a murder, and then his girlfriend is arrested a s suspect.
The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan - Second in series in which Percy & Annabeth look for the Golden Fleece to save Camp Half-Blood.
The second book in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & The Olympians series was the last book of the month. The Sea of Monsters was almost as good as The Lightning Thief, the first book to introduce Percy Jackson, a half-blood with a mortal mother and the god Poseidon as his father.
In The Sea of Monsters, Percy is looking forward to the last day of seventh grade and a return to Camp Half-Blood, until giant cannibals attack him during PE class, and his friend Annabeth, another half-blood, has to rescue him, and his latest school friend, Tyson. Tyson, a Cyclops, turns out to be Percy's half-brother, because Poseidon is the father of all Cyclops. Together the three return to camp only to find a few changes. Chiron, the teacher who is a centaur is gone, banished from the camp because the magic borders protecting the camp have broken down due to the death of the protective tree enclosing the body of Zeus' daughter. The tree was poisoned, and strange events occur as monsters start to invade. To make matters worse, Grover, Percy's satyr friend is appearing to him in dreams, and he's in trouble. The only way to save Camp Half-Blood and Grover is a quest to the Sea of Monsters, known today as the Bermuda Triangle.
Once again, Riordan does an excellent job in telling the stories from mythology, stories of gods and monsters and heroes, through the eyes of Percy Jackson, a half-mortal. Percy is a wonderful young hero, loyal and protective of his friends. He and his friends are forced to fight for their lives against forces attempting to restore the power of Kronos, a titan and father of the gods. The Sea of Monsters is the second page-turner in a terrific series.
Rick Riordan's website is www.rickriordan.com
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan. Hyperion Books for Children, ©2006, ISBN 0-7868-5686-6 (hardcover), 279p.
Friday, June 29, 2007
So, do yourself a favor. One of my favorite authors has a new book coming out in August. I can't recommend him in my Treasures from My Closet post because I don't have an ARC. Jonathon King's fifth Max Freeman mystery, Acts of Nature, is due then.
If you haven't read any of the previous books, start with his first, the award-winning The Blue Edge of Midnight. No one captures the atmosphere of Florida the way Jonathon King does. He writes descriptive, intriguing mysteries. You might have time to get through the first four books before Acts of Nature is released.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
If you're an animal lover, the contests this week are for you. I'm giving away mysteries that feature pets, if Midnight Louie will lower himself to consider himself a pet. The first mystery is an ARC of Cat in a Red Hot Rage, a Midnight Louie Mystery by Carole Nelson Douglas.
Or, you could win a paperback copy of Selma Eichler's Murder Can Depress Your Dachshund.
If you'd like to win one of these two books, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.
The contest will end next week at 6 pm Pacific Time next Thursday, July 5th. Jim will draw the winners, and the books will go out in the mail on Friday. Good luck!
Our Marketing Department was promoting the PBR Rodeo Tour since it's appearing in town tomorrow and Saturday, so they asked the library to host PBR star Rocky McDonald, Buckshot, a Brahman bull, and Reride, the official mascot of the rodeo. It was a fun morning. Rocky read to the kids, and brought along coloring books that featured Reride. Rocky McDonald said he starting doing rodeo in high school, and found out he could go to college on a rodeo scholarship. With adults and parents, we had over 35 show up to see the bull and listen to stories.
How many Library Managers get to spend their mornings with a Brahman bull? And, you can tell from the second picture how well Reride and I got along.
Pictures courtesy of Bette Sharpe.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Author Ray Atkinson had a brilliant idea. With the fast pace of life today, and the frequency of plane travel, he came up with the "airplane novel," a fast-paced, "bite-sized mystery" of about 150 pages, just long enough to be read on one flight.
The Black Tea Experiments is his first "airplane novel," the story of a Russian medical experiment that looked successful when it started, but went awry about twenty years later. A secret team of scientists injected twelve children with "Black Tea," a drug that would enhance learning ability. Unfortunately, they discovered later that it changed the blood type. Twelve children had an unknown blood type, which becomes crucial when the daughter of a Russian mobster suffers from a health crisis.
How does Logan Bauer, a college student at Central Illinois University become involved? His special telescope captures a murder. Suddenly, he's running from the mob, his girlfriend is arrested, and he can't even turn to the cops.
Is this a medical thriller? A story of the Russian mob? A crime thriller? It's up to the reader to decide in this "airplane novel."
I had a hard time accepting the combinations of the plot - medical thriller, college students, Logan's loss of his entire family. I found sections of the story implausible. Why wouldn't Logan go to the police when he had evidence? Why would he make a trip to Russia? Why was his girlfriend arrested for the brutal murder? No evidence was ever presented.
The Black Tea Experiments seemed to have little voice. There was just straight narration of event after event for a great deal of the book. Atkinson seemed to be trying to jam every possible scenario into the plot. In such a short book, he didn't seem to be able to expand any of the storylines.
However, The Black Tea Experiments is an experiment itself, and readers might want to try an "airplane novel."
Ray Atkinson's website is www.rayatkinson.com
The Black Tea Experiments by Ray Atkinson. American Book Publishing, ©2007. ISBN 1-58982-370-2 (paperback), 152p.
Tales of the City was the first in Maupin's series of books that were published in the late 70s and the 80s. The television mini-series of the work appeared on PBS, but moved to Showtime for the sequels because of controversy over the homosexual themes, nudity and illicit drug use.
Anyone who complained must have failed to read the books. The early books featured Anna Madrigal, the landlady at 28 Barbary Lane and her tenants, including Michael Tolliver, known then as "Mouse." In the later books in the series, "Mouse" was HIV-positive, and not sure he would survive his years of a gay lifestyle in San Francisco.
However, Michael Tolliver Lives, and he lives very well twenty years later. He's using the drug cocktails that allow him to live the life of an aging gay man. He married his husband, Ben, at City Hall, and relates the story of their relationship. His former landlady, Anna Madrigal, is still around, and even encouraged Michael to go after Ben on the street.
Michael's friends from the early books are still friends, his "logical" family as he refers to them. That's in contrast to his "biological" family in Florida, people he doesn't respect. However, he's forced to deal with their feelings about him when his mother is near death in a retirement home. The readers can observe the contrast in relationships as Michael flies from San Francisco, where he has "family" and friends and is loved, to Orlando, where his actual family doesn't understand him at all.
Armistead Maupin's characters have all changed over twenty years, and he doesn't hesitate to show their age. Any readers who loved them in their wild years in San Francisco will love them even more in their older years. They've matured into warm, loving people, who still are unafraid to show how much they care. Yes, there's sex, controversial lifestyles and drug use, but there are wonderful people in these books. Thank heaven that Michael Tolliver Lives.
Armistead Maupin's website is www.armisteadmaupin.com
Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin. HarperCollins, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-06-076135-6 (hardcover), 277p.
The article ends with this paragraph. Seidl hopes the film will penetrate, grass-roots style, the consciousness of everyone who has ever loved a library. "If everyone knew how smart and funny and dedicated librarians were," she says, "no library would ever be shut down again."
The entire article can be read at http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/arizonaliving/articles/0627librarians0627.html#
And, here's a great YouTube video that goes with the movie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8kd4fC1bwo&NR=1
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Anne Fadiman's latest collection speaks to me in a different way than her book Ex Libris did. To be honest, Ex Libris, since it was about books, was my favorite of the two. Some of the essays in the latest collection left me saying, huh? Fadiman is a well-educated, literate writer, and at times, her vocabulary was beyond me. Even some of her subjects left me cold. I wasn't at all interested in her first selection, "Collecting Nature," which used butterfly collecting as the background of the piece. She discusses some very esoteric topics, including Charles Lamb and Samuel Coleridge.
However, I was struck by coincidence when I read "Procrustes and the Culture Wars." I had just finished Rick Riordan's fantasy, The Lightning Thief, and the story of Procrustes was told there, how he made people fit in a bed. How often would someone read about Procrustes in two books in a row? And, although that essay was written a few years ago, it reminded me of the current fight about book critics losing jobs at newspapers, and critics vs. bloggers.
However, some of her essays spoke directly to me. Twice she wrote about flying into the airport in Fort Myers, Florida, where I lived for seventeen years. And, the reason she flew in was to visit her parents, including her father, Clifton Fadiman. She also discussed his great pleasure in getting the mail, with the twenty pounds of books he'd received daily. Every bit of the article "Mail" appealed to me. There's nothing more exciting than receiving books in the mail. But, even more important, I met Clifton Fadiman when I lived in Fort Myers.
I was branch manager at the Captiva Library for only three short years, but they were magical ones. One day, Clifton Fadiman walked into the library, carrying a few books, and asked if I'd accept them as donations for the library. He introduced himself, and said he received so many books that at times he had to get rid of some. The readers on Captiva were the perfect audience for his books, highly literate, often asking for very esoteric titles that no one else in the system requested. After I gratefully accepted his gift, he returned again, bringing his son, Kim, to carry the books. To this day, I'm still in awe of Anne Fadiman's father, a prime example of the intellectual authors of the thirties, forties and fifties.
Some of Anne Fadiman's essays left me cold. "Coffee" did nothing for me, particularly since I don't drink it. But, she was right. Those essays that touched me seemed to be conversations just with me.
At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, ©2007, ISBN 978-0-574-10662-1 (hardcover), 220p.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Percy Jackson relates the story of the year he discovered he was a half-blood; half-mortal with a god for a father. He thought he was just a troubled kid with dyslexia and hyperactivity who couldn't stay in one school. Everything in his normal school life came to a head on a trip to a museum exhibit of Greek and Roman art, when his Pre-Algebra teacher turned into a monster. He kept the secret from his mother until they left his stepfather behind to go to the beach, and then had to flee from storms and monsters. Following a terrible fight with the Minotaur, Percy ends up finding shelter at Camp Half-Blood, a camp for other children of the gods.
Percy has a lot to learn. He discovers his history teacher in residence, his best friend is a satyr, and he finally learns his father's identity. Unfortunately, soon after discovering who he is, Percy is sent on a quest to stop a war between the gods. It means a journey to the Underworld, and a meeting with Hades.
Mythology, adventure, suspense, fantasy. It doesn't get much better than this.
I'm already on hold for the second in the series, Sea of Monsters, and the third is just recently out. I can't wait.
Rick Riordan's website is www.rickriordan.com
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Hyperion Books for Children, ©2005, ISBN 0-7868-5629-7 (hardcover), 375p.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Janet Evanovich's thirteenth book in the Stephanie Plum series is better than the last couple, but it still doesn't measure up to the humor of the first few in the series. My favorite in the series is still the one in which Stephanie and Grandma Mazur blow up the funeral home. I don't think that one can be topped.
I hadn't remembered that Stephanie had been married for a very short time to a lawyer, Dickie Orr. Just because Ranger has Stephanie plant a bug on her ex-husband, she's sucked into a violent case. After she went ballistic in his office, the Burg suspects she killed him when Dickie disappears. She and Morelli know she was at his house, but he left before Orr's office reported his disappearance, so she doesn't actually have an alibi. But, suddenly Dickie's partners start disappearing as well, and buildings go up in flames.
It's not exploding cars this time. It's exploding stuffed animals, flamethrowers, fiery buildings, staple guns and Stephanie caught in the middle. Caught in the middle between Ranger and Morelli as well.
Lean Mean Thirteen is a fun book, a little better than recent ones, but still not up to the early ones when the characters and plots were fresh.
Janet Evanovich's website is www.evanovich.com
Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich. St. Martin's Press, ©2007, ISBN 978-0-312-34949-3 (hardcover), 310p.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Ophelia Jensen is a librarian in the small town of Summerset, Iowa. She, her grandmother, Abby, and Tink all have some psychic powers. They are all witches with different talents. Each woman is in a different stage of her life, and none are finding it easy to cope. Ophelia is just growing into her powers. Tink is only thirteen, and has to learn to use hers safely. And, Abby is aware she's aging. All three women must deal with their raw feelings in Witch Hunt.
Bikers have invaded the town and taken over the bars in Summerset. Townspeople feel threatened, and it only becomes worse when one of the bikers is murdered while in bed with Becca, Darci's cousin. Becca came to town to help Darci, Ophelia's friend and library assistant, celebrate her birthday. Some celebration. As Ophelia says, "How much worse could it be? Unexplained suicides, unsolved murders, hints of extortion and drugs?"
It only gets worse as Ophelia delves deeper into the truth behind the bikers and murder. Damsgaard's latest mystery is a winner. It will make you worry and turn pages faster and faster as you hurtle towards the end.
Shirley Damsgaard's website is at www.shirleydamsgaard.com
Witch Hunt by Shirley Damsgaard. Avon Books, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-06-114711-1 (paperback), 292p.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Lindbergh used to vacation in Lee County, Florida, and while on Captiva Island, she wrote her most famous work, Gift from the Sea. When I was the library manager on Captiva, I was lucky enough to know the woman who owned the house where Anne Morrow Lindbergh stayed when she was on the island. The house had been sold, and was going to be torn down. I was allowed to go through the house by myself before it was razed. There was nothing special about the house. It was just an ordinary island cottage, but it was magic to me since Lindbergh had stayed there.
I met Reeve Lindbergh a few years later. Reeve is Anne Morrow Lindbergh's daughter, and an author in her own right. She wrote the most beautiful version of Johnny Appleseed that I ever saw. In fact, my mother made me a wall hanging based on the illustrations from that book. Reeve has written books about her parents, but, in my opinion, the most beautiful one, and one I used for a book discussion, was her novel, The Names of the Mountains. It's a poetic, loving novel, based on her mother's last years. It's a book I treasure.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Carolyn T. from Garner, NC won the copy of Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day by Toni McGee Causey. Toni herself had told Carolyn about the contest. Thank you, Toni! Terry R. from Medina, OH is the winner of Scarlett Dean's Invisible Shield. The books will be going out in the mail on Saturday. Congratulations!
Since today is the first day of summer, the latest books offer a chance to escape from home. Are you interested in heading to the beach, a resort town on the Jersey Shore? I have an ARC of Chris Grabenstein's latest crime novel, Whack-A-Mole.
Would you prefer to head up north and escape the heat? Avalanche by Patrick F. McManus will certainly make you forget the summer heat. You'll soon by trapped in an Idaho lodge with Sheriff Bo Tully.
Whack-A-Mole or Avalanche? If you'd like to win one of these two books, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: email@example.com. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.
The contest will end next week at 6 pm Pacific Time next Thursday, June 28st. Jim will draw the winners, and the books will go out in the mail on Saturday. Good luck!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Philip Gulley's latest book is subtitled, "Stories of Decency, Common Sense, and Other Endangered Species." I'd say all of Gulley's books embody decency and common sense, with a touch of humor and warmth. They're the perfect recipe for a comfortable evening of reading.
This is a collection of essays, comments on "things large and small." Gulley, a Quaker minister, starts with an story explaining that the problems of society can be blamed on the lack of porches, places where family and neighbors could gather, and communicate without even talking at times. Porch Talk contains commentaries extolling the value of a slower pace of life. Men need hardware stores, places to congregate and share talk and time.
One chapter entitled "The Compact" discusses the responsibility that members of society has to each other. He uses the lack of tax support for libraries, and the effect on the community as an example. In these days of closing libraries, this was a particularly strong warning.
Gulley's overall message is that people shouldn't be so busy living the good life that they forget how to enjoy life. Philip Gulley's books all have messages for the readers, but his thoughtful, humorous tones encourage the readers to pay attention and enjoy the lesson. Porch Talk is a return visit to a slower life, and an old friend.
Philip Gulley's website is www.philipgulleybooks.com
Porch Talk by Philip Gulley. HarperCollins Publishers, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-06-073658-3 (hardcover), 170p.
This year's nominees have been announced. I'm not picking a favorite in any category, since I know some of the authors. Good luck to all of the nominees, and Congratulations!
Best Mystery Novel:
Christine Falls by Benjamin Black [John Banville] (Picador)
The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The Dead Hour by Denise Mina (Bantam)
The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (Ballantine)
Piece of My Heart by Peter Robinson (McClelland & Stewart)
All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur)
Best First Novel:
Consigned to Death by Jane K. Cleland (Minotaur)
47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers by Troy Cook (Capital Crime Press)
King of Lies by John Hart (Minotaur)
A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read (Mysterious)
Mr. Clarinet by Nick Stone (Michael Joseph Ltd/Penguin)
Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today's Mystery Writers edited by Jim Huang and Austin Lugar (Crum Creek)
The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder by Daniel Stashower (Dutton)
Don't Murder Your Mystery: 24 Fiction Writing Techniques To Save Your Manuscript From Ending Up D.O.A. by Chris Roerden (Bella Rosa Books)
Best Short Story:
"Provenance" by Robert Barnard (EQMM, Jul 2006)
"Disturbance in the Field" by Roberta Isleib (Seasmoke: Crime Stories by New England Writers, edited by Kate Flora, Ruth McCarty, & Susan Oleksiw; Level Best Books)
"Til Death Do Us Part" by Tim Maleeny (MWA Presents Death Do Us Part: New Stories about Love, Lust, and Murder, edited by Harlan Coben; Little, Brown)
Sue Feder Historical Mystery:
The Lightning Rule by Brett Ellen Block (Morrow)
Oh Danny Boy by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur)
The Bee's Kiss by Barbara Cleverly (Constable & Robinson)
Dark Assassin by Anne Perry (Ballantine)
Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear (Holt)
The Advisory Board for this site includes some prominent people in the Readers' Advisory field, such as Diana Tixier Herald, author of Genreflecting, Cynthia Orr, Collection Manager at Cleveland Public Library, and Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust.
It has some interesting features, such as a combined bestseller list that may be of interest to librarians, and a list of hot books due out in the next week.
I was also interested in a feature called Librarian's Book Revoogle, created by Rick Roche, RickLibrarian . The new search tool, Librarian's Book Revoogle is a tool for librarians to find reviews written by professionals, other librarians.
Lesa's Book Critiques has already been accepted as a reviewing source by Librarian's Book Revoogle.
If you're a librarian doing Readers' Advisory, check out Readers Advisor Online's blog.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Sunday, I saw previews for the forthcoming Will Smith movie, I Am Legend. I recognized the title, so I picked up Richard Matheson's book, copyright 1954. Despite a few details in the book that might not be familiar to many of today's readers, such as the reference to Edgar Guest, it's still a powerful book. It did seem strange that civilization as we know it came to an end in 1975, the year I graduated from high school.
I Am Legend starts in 1976, when Robert Neville has lost his wife and daughter to a plague. The plague hit the world after a war. Following the war, the earth was hit with dust storms, mosquitoes, flies. People became sick, and, before he knew it, Neville was the only person still living. The only PERSON still living. He was surrounded by vampires who had taken over the bodies of people he knew. Neville barricades himself inside his house, uses a generator, and leaves occasionally to find gas and supplies.
At times, he finds reasons to build up hope that he can defeat the vampires, find someone else alive, successfully survive. Despite his situation, he fights on, killing vampires and burning bodies. I Am Legend is a suspenseful story of one man's day-to-day survival against terrible odds.
It's a short, powerful book. I'll probably never see the movie, but I'm glad I read the book.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Nelson Doubleday, Inc., ©1954, 151p.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Details are available at: www.tinyurl.com/yclawc
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Paul Shirley's basketball memoir is subtitled "11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond." I was particularly interested in reading his account of his basketball career because he was a benchwarmer for the Phoenix Suns a couple years ago, writing a blog for the Arizona Republic. I read the blog while he was here, and followed his accounts of his time with the Suns.
Shirley is an intellectual 6'10" player who often found himself on the outside looking in, even when he was part of a team. And, which teams? He went to the Lakers training camp after graduating from Iowa State, but that was as far as he went with them. Over four years, he played for teams in Greece, Spain, and Russia. He was a player on minor league teams that traveled the United States, playing under abysmal conditions. For a short time, he played with the Chicago Bulls, until he had a bizarre injury. His longest stint with any team was his time spent with the Phoenix Suns, seven months. He does have positive comments about the Suns' style of play, but he has few other positive comments about his years in basketball.
Paul Shirley admits he is "cynical, judgmental and sarcastic," and all of those attitudes come across in his basketball memoir. For anyone wondering what life is like in the world of professional sports, Shirley's account is not a glamorous story. It's probably a very realistic view of the life of any player who doesn't attain star status, but remains a journeyman. For an outsider, it appears to be a lonely, sad life.
Can I Keep My Jersey? by Paul Shirley. Villard, ©2007. ISBN 978-0345491367 (hardcover), 326p.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
It's fascinating. I spent last night and this morning putting up most of the books I've read this year. It's a way to catalog your personal library or keep track of books you've read. It's also the hot social network out there for people who like to read. You can contact other people who read the same books you do, and find out what else they like.
I like it because I can see my entire "library" by book cover. I can also link directly from the book reviews here to that site, so I don't have to copy them or write a second review. (Thank you AdeptMagic.) And, of course, there's the opportunity to network.
Just what I need. Another fun website.
Friday, June 15, 2007
I have two ARCs to give away in the next contest. One book is Scarlett Dean's intriguing debut mystery, Invisible Shield. How do you solve your own murder?
The second book is described as Southern with a sassy, charming heroine. It's Bobbie Faye's Very (very,very,very) Bad Day by Toni McGee Causey.
If you'd like to win one of these two books, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.
The contest will end a day early next week at 6 pm Pacific Time next Thursday, June 21st. Jim will draw the winners, and the books will go out in the mail on Saturday. Good luck!
Jennifer O'Connell has compiled a fascinating collection of essays written by twenty-two women writers who discuss their personal views of Judy Blume's works, and how they were affected by the books. The authors are recognizable names in the Young Adult and Chick Lit areas, such as Meg Cabot, Stephanie Lessing, Julie Kenner, and local Arizona author Beth Kendrick. Each author was influenced by Blume, an author who captured adolescent life, pushing the envelope and questioning adolescence. Today, many of these authors do the same. They write fiction about teenage girls struggling with the choices before them.
There are poignant moments in this collection as girls deal with bullying, moving, puberty and first love. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Deenie and Forever all seem to have struck a chord. But, it seems as if each one of Blume's books reached out to someone, and changed them forever. Somehow, each author rose above their Judy Blume experiences to become the women, and authors, they are today.
Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume edited by Jennifer O'Connell. Pocket Books, ©2007. ISBN 978-1416531043 (hardcover), 275p.
Landvik, Lorna. The View from Mount Joy. Ballantine. Sept. 2007. c.368p. ISBN 978-0-345-46837-6. $24.95. F
In 1971, high school senior Joe Andreson moves to Minnesota with his widowed mother. Joe is a wonderful young man who plays hockey and piano, works in the local grocery, and is nice to his mother. So what's his flaw? He is attracted to Kristi Casey, the wildly fun cheerleader who is every boy's fantasy and who introduces Joe to oral sex, marijuana, and acid trips. As Joe moves through life from high school to adulthood and marriage, Kristi is always there to tempt him, even when she becomes an evangelist. Landvik is a wonderful storyteller, and Joe is an attractive character, perhaps too good to be true. However, some of the book club readers and fans who enjoyed Landvik's other novels (e.g., Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons) may be uncomfortable with the sex and drugs and Kristi's hypocritical life as an evangelist and the wife of a politician. As long as librarians understand that this new work is more explicit than Landvik's previous novels, this is recommended for most public libraries.—Lesa M. Holstine, Glendale P.L., AZ
Copyright © 2007 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Lonnie Cruse's second Metropolis mystery is about family from page one. Sheriff Joe Dalton literally stumbles over a body in his niece's yard. Lucy Spanner, the elderly woman who lived a couple houses away, had been beaten at home, crawled into Mary Sue's yard, and died there. Since the police chief of Brookport was on vacation, Dalton took over the murder investigation. Almost before he has a chance to draw a breath, he's called to the local nursing home where five people, including Miss Spanner's sister, died under suspicious circumstances. As the bodies pile up, Dalton remains under the scrutiny of the State's Attorney, and a Brookport police officer whose cousin is running for governor.
Sheriff Joe Dalton's territory covers a number of small Illinois towns, from Metropolis to Brookport. And, in one short book, he deals with his own family and life, from the birth of a new grandson, a young nephew with behavioral problems, a son with a new girlfriend, and his wife's writing career. His family is held together with good midwestern food, and a great deal of love. He's also part of the end of life, as he tries to discover the killer of Brookport's elderly.
Lonnie Cruse's Sheriff Joe Dalton is a caring man in a fascinating series of police procedurals. He's a police officer who deals with life and death in small communities. Readers should look forward to any opportunity to return to Dalton's Metropolis.
Lonnie Cruse's website is www.lonniecruse.com
Murder Beyond Metropolis by Lonnie Cruse. NaDaC Publishing, ©2007. ISBN 0978588010 (paperback), 239p.
CORRECTION. BOB FATE'S INTERVIEW IS SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 23rd. SORRY ABOUT THAT!
I believe this coming Saturday, June 16th is the scheduled interview with Robert Fate, author of Baby Shark and Baby Shark's Beaumont Blues. Here's the information for Fiction Nation. Take Five, XM 155 on Saturday June 16th at 6pm, and again on Sunday June 17th at 10:00am. You can also hear Fiction Nation on Sonic Theater, XM 163, on Sunday, June 17th at 11:30am and 11:30pm. All times EDT.
If you miss the interview, you'll be able to read it online next week.
Glendale library director closing book on career
Special for The Republic
Jun. 11, 2007 01:37 PM
On July 2, Rodeane Widom will step down as director for the Glendale public library system after 26 years on the job and 38 years of working in the library profession.
That's a pretty impressive career for someone who never intended to be a librarian.
Widom, a Glendale resident, said she initially wanted to be a teacher or social worker. But after a stint as a volunteer at a library during her college days at the University of Colorado, she was hooked. Widom eventually earned a master's degree in librarianship from the University of Washington.
After working at several libraries in Washington and Nebraska, Widom moved to the West Valley and began working at what she calls "the best job in the city of Glendale."
"It was a horrible choice to make to leave this job, but I wanted to travel with my husband and we thought if we were going to have the chance to do a lot of traveling together, this would be the time to do it," she said, adding that she and her husband, John McLaughlin, plan on visiting family in Washington state.
Looking back at her lengthy career, Widom said the biggest changes have been in programming and technology.
"When I first started," she said, "we just had the Velma Teague branch all by itself. There was no programming or even story time for kids. I had the chance to develop the adult programming and the teen programming in addition to children's programming.
"In addition, we now offer free computer use to residents. It has been challenging to keep them working. We are open 69 hours a week and there are people on them all the time."
Widom said she is extremely proud that all three Glendale libraries remain vital parts of the community.
"Through the years, there's always been this thought that libraries might go by the wayside. But more than ever, we are totally important to the community and the library users," she said.
"We have 150,000 library cards currently in circulation, and we checked out over 2.5 million items since July. That's pretty incredible."
Lesa Holstine, a library manager at the Velma Teague Library, said she and the rest of the staff will greatly miss working with Widom.
"The library community throughout the state will miss her leadership, her enthusiasm and her warmth," Holstine said.
Widom said the feeling is mutual.
"What I'm going to miss is a fabulous staff. I think we have one of the best staffs in the whole world," she said.
"I hope the new person will let everybody do their work in the way they have, and keep the environment really open."
The link for the article is http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0611gl-rodeane0511-ON.html#
Monday, June 11, 2007
The website is http://www.latimes.com/features/books/la-bk-hamilton10jun10,0,4365817.story?coll=la-books-headlines
She's written a wonderful article with lots of suggestions for boys to read, and she recommends asking librarians for help!
Thank you, Denise!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I just finished Ann Cleeves' award-winning crime novel, Raven Black, and I don't know if I have words to describe it. I feel just as I did when I read Louise Penny's Still Life. I've discovered a wonderful writer, one whose description of a little-known area brings its world to life. She writes wonderful descriptions, and creates fascinating people.
Raven Black is set in the isolated Shetland Islands, and introduces Inspector Jimmy Perez, a native of a small island there. It's small town lonely in the islands, where everyone knows each other's business and secrets, and people can be very cruel. When Catherine Ross, a sixteen-year-old, was found strangled right after New Year's, attention immediately focused on Magnus Tait, a man who was a little slow, and the primary suspect eight years earlier when a young girl disappeared. The villagers and the police would have been ready to pin the latest murder on Magnus, but Perez and Inspector Roy Taylor had their doubts. As Perez talks to the villagers, local secrets are exposed.
Cleeves won the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for the Best Crime Novel of 2006. What does she do that's so special? She creates Jimmy Perez, a Shetlander with a wild, foreign look. She reveals his background, as the descendant of a mythical Spaniard cast onto the island, who married into the Shetland life. Jimmy's marriage fell apart falling his wife's miscarriage of the son that would have carried on the Perez line. He's a romantic, lonely man who is easy for people to talk to, possibly because he was once an outsider and a victim himself. Perez is the perfect detective for a small community where everyone's lives and secrets are interwoven.
In Black Raven, Cleeves creates an atmosphere perfect for crime. It's an isolated life in the Shetlands, a cold world in January. Everyone seems lonely, preoccupied with their own attempt to survive. In that atmosphere, it's easier to accept that an old man would be the killer of young girls, than there is another killer in their midst.
Black Raven reminds me of Louise Penny's Armand Gamache books, set in Three Pines in Quebec, Still Life and A Fatal Grace. It also brings to mind the isolated crimes of Val McDermid's A Place of Execution. That's comparing Cleeves' work to other ones that use atmosphere and isolation to great advantage.
According to her website, Cleeves' second book in the Shetland quartet to feature Jimmy Perez will be out in England in 2008, with the title of White Nights. She never intended to write a series, but the success of Black Raven encouraged one. Let's hope that St. Martin's Minotaur will pick it up in this country. They have a superb author on their hands.
Ann Cleeves' website is www.anncleeves.com
Raven Black by Ann Cleeves. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2006. ISBN 978-0312359669 (hardcover), 384p.
Friday, June 08, 2007
I'm offering two books this week, a little different from the usual ones. The first is Andrea Kane's romantic suspense novel, Dark Room. It's a hardcover book, featuring an interesting heroine. (She's not TSTL - too stupid to live.)
There's a little Civil War history, a little suspense, a little romance, a great deal of humor, and a wonderful hero in Brad Smith's Busted Flush.
So, do you want to try to win Andrea Kane's Dark Room, Busted Flush by Brad Smith, or both? If you'd like to win one of these two books, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: email@example.com. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.
The contest will end at 6 pm Pacific Time next Friday, June 15th. Jim will draw the winners, and the books will go out in the mail on Saturday. Good luck!
I freely admit that I am a John Feinstein groupie. When I worked on Captiva Island, with a long drive, I relished his sports reports on NPR. I've read his last three books soon after they came out, including Next Man Up about the Baltimore Ravens, and I detest Baltimore. I've read one of his teen mysteries. Someday, I'm going to get the chance to go back and read all of his books.
I don't play golf, but my appreciation for Feinstein started with his book, A Good Walk Spoiled. Twelve years later, he's followed up with his current bestseller, Tales from Q School: Inside Golf's Fifth Major. Q School is the Qualifying Tournament for golfers hoping to qualify for the PGA. In 2005, twelve hundred players showed up to play for thirty spots and ties. Some paid $4,500 just for the attempt. Q School is filled with sad stories since most players never even make it past the first stage. Feinstein follows the 2005 Q School, from first stage, through second stage, and through the finals. The players who place high enough in the finals are guaranteed a year on the PGA Tour.
John Feinstein is a successful sports writer because he brings the personalities who compete to life. It doesn't matter if you know anything about golf, but by the time you finish, you'll know the names of Larry Mize, a former PGA champion, trying to earn his way back to the tour, Bill Haas, whose father, Jay, is a PGA champion, and so many other players trying to get there. Feinstein makes a reader care about the players, root for their success, and feel for their failure. His books are bestsellers because he brings players to life for readers who may never participate in the sport.
Tales from Q School by John Feinstein. Little, Brown and Company, ©2007. ISBN 978-0316014304 (hardcover), 343p.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I knew I was in for a treat with Bill Geist's new book when I read the Author's Note. It begins, "This book is 100 percent celebrity free. It contains no trace elements of 'red' or 'blue' states or other corrosive political toxins. Contents are all-natural, free-range, organic nonfiction with no synthetic additives to enhance size or performance. People with wood pulp allergies should not eat this book."
Geist's book is subtitled, "Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small-Town America." It's a fun book, reminiscent of Charles Kuralt's old "On the Road" stories, with more humor. Geist says people don't take themselves quite so seriously in these small towns.
My favorite stories? I loved the Minnesota town of 62 people that held a "standstill parade." The onlookers walked around the parade, a parade complete with police car, marching band that didn't move, and horses. Monowi, Nebraska has a population of one, a woman who is the mayor, bartender, jailer, and the librarian who opened a library with 5,000 books. And, as an Arizona resident, there's the story of the Mule Train Mailman who delivers mail to the Havasupai Indians who lived on the floor of the Grand Canyon.
Geist, the Emmy-award winning correspondent for CBS News and CBS Sunday Morning, brings all of his warmth and charm to this enjoyable collection of road stories.
Way Off the Road by Bill Geist. Broadway Books, ©2007. ISBN 978-0767922722 (hardcover), 240p.
Monday, June 04, 2007
You are The High Priestess
Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.
The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
LH: Good morning, Cheryl. You're the first author I've ever interviewed here on my blog, and it's appropriate that you're a mystery writer. Would you give my readers a quick summary of your book: Park Ridge: A Senior Center Murder?
Cheryl: After years of being told by fellow members of the local senior citizen drop-in center to "get off their whats-its and do something besides play cards," four elderly pinochle players do just that. But somehow, no one expected them to commit murder.
LH: Park Ridge, and the next mysteries in the series, deal with Senior Centers. Most people think of them as quiet places. What gave you the idea of setting mysteries there?
Cheryl: First, I'd like to make sure that we're using the words senior center in the same way since there's been some confusion over them. In my novel, the senior center is a drop-in facility (and it gets pretty noisy at folk-dancing and at parties!). Although it's owned by the Park District, it is a separate structure with classrooms, stage, recreation area, etc. Several centers nearby have even more elaborate structures but are still run on a drop-in basis.
The idea for the novel came out of a writing assignment - I teach writing classes at the Senior Center. We were supposed to write a short story in which a murder took place at the center. You're right - it's a highly unlikely place, until you consider the large numbers of rooms coupled with a fluid population. Then it's a great setting!
LH: Do you have a favorite character in your book? If so, tell us a little bit about that person, and why you like them.
Cheryl: I'm probably partial to the Professor, Augustus Hoeffelfinger. He's the ultimate patrician, quoting Shakespeare, given to pronouncements. He has the potential for being quite a lady-killer (pun) for a seventy-seven-year old. The Professor is dating Stella, the detective's mother, which comes as quite a shock when it's discovered.
The Professor insists on keeping his personal life separate from his card-playing at the center. Even though I wrote the book, I have no idea why he's so adamant!
LH: I'm going to take a short departure from your books, and ask you about yourself. I understand you went back to school to get a Master's degree, after a lengthy absence. What difficulties did you face going back to college as an adult?
Cheryl: I was 36 when I got my bachelor's. Then the biggest problem I had was understanding how the other students thought they could learn anything when they couldn't even take notes on the lectures! But undergraduate work was very different than what I encountered twenty years later. I can remember sitting in my first class on Composition Theory and thinking that I'd made a $30,000 mistake.
The degree I had selected was an MA in Writing at DePaul University. Luckily for me, there was no specific undergrad degree required (mine is in Pastoral Theology). It made for an interesting mix of opinions. The only problem I had was with the English undergrads in the program. They brought a lot more theory into the classrooms, raising the level of discussion to the point where I often couldn't follow it. But I survived!
LH: As you know, I'm a public librarian. Is there anything you'd like to mention about libraries?
Cheryl: I love librarians! They're some of my favorite-est people.
Two things. First, I've posted a Library Request Form on my website which anyone can use to suggest a book for purchase by their school or library. When you click on the link to it, it returns a form already filled out with the book's title, author, ISBN, and publisher. All you have to do is print it out, fill in the patron information and hand it in to your library. You can also use the information to suggest books online.
Second, I'm extremely pleased to announce that the State of Illinois has chosen PARK RIDGE as the first novel to be converted in a special project for the visually-handicapped. I initially contacted Sharon Ruda, Associate Director, Illinois State Library (Talking Book and Braille Service) about making my book available and she was thrilled. I delivered the PDF file, they worked their magic, and voila! It is now an audio file which will be offered free of charge. We're just working out the logistics of posting it.
LH: Cheryl, would you give us a little peek at your next book, Senior Games?
Cheryl: The background for the story comes from the actual Six County Senior Olympics for northern Illinois. Five seniors in their sixties are competitors in games of sport while playing other destructive games with each other. I'm particularly proud of the exceptionally strong women in this one.
LH: Thank you, Cheryl, for giving me time for an interview today. I have one last question for you. I've read your Discussion Questions on your website, and I'm going to turn one around, and ask you to answer it. If you could use only three words to describe Park Ridge: A Senior Center Murder, what would they be?
Cheryl: Hmm. Tragic, confrontational, reflective. Thanks for having me!
Cheryl Hagedorn's website is www.cheryltime.com/books
Cheryl's blog is at http://murder.booklocker.com
Park Ridge: A Senior Center Murder by Cheryl Hagedorn. Booklocker.com, Inc., ©2007. ISBN: 1601450230 (paperback), 204p.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Marjorie Hart, author of Summer at Tiffany, spent the summer of 1945 in New York City. She and her friend, Marty, college students at the University of Iowa, became the first women to work the floor at Tiffany's, when they became pages at the store.
Marjorie was a naive, innocent girl from a small town in Iowa, and the wonders of NYC left her awestruck. She tells stories on herself, about learning to run an elevator, and dropping pearls in the elevator. She had stars in her eyes as she told of Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich visiting the store. She had a wartime romance, and was in Times Square for the VJ Day celebration.
Everything from the prices during the war years to movie stars and restaurants takes the reader back to a summer that was magical to the author, a time of innocence.
Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. William Morrow, ©2007. ISBN 978-0061189274 (hardcover), 257p.
Friday, June 01, 2007
However, if any of these authors are favorites, you'll want to get on the holds list at your local library or reserve a copy at your favorite bookstore. They all have books scheduled for July publication.
James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge - The Quickie (Another Patterson. Sure to make the lists.)
Ridley Pearson - Killer Weekend
Nora Roberts - High Noon
Danielle Steel - Bungalow 2 (Although, honestly? I'm seeing less and less interest in her books.)
And, just a note. James Lee Burke's latest Dave Robicheaux novel, Tin Roof Blowdown, is due out in July. His daughter, Alafair Burke is also due out with her latest, Dead Connection.
I reviewed Eileen Goudge's Woman in Red for Library Journal, and the review appeared today in the June 1, 2007 issue. Here's the review, reprinted with permission.
Goudge, Eileen. Woman in Red. Vanguard: Perseus. Jun. 2007. c.356p. ISBN 978-1-59315-444-8. $24.95. F
Nine years after she was imprisoned for the attempted murder of Owen White, the drunk driver who had killed her son David, Alice Keesler is released and returns to Grays Island. Her husband has divorced her, second son Jeremy is a stranger, and Owen, in a wheelchair, is now mayor. Alice feels threatened by Owen when she opens a restaurant and, even worse, when Jeremy is accused of rape. For legal help, she turns to attorney Colin McGinty, whom she had met on the ferry to the island. He, too, has had his difficulties, having turned to alcohol after his wife was killed in the 9/11 attacks. Alice's and Colin's troubles parallel the earlier story of their grandparents. In 1942, artist William McGinty fell in love with Alice's grandmother, whose husband was fighting in the Pacific. Their love was revealed only in McGinty's masterpiece, the painting Woman in Red. Goudge's (Immediate Family) latest novel beautifully intertwines the two stories, two generations apart. Her characters are appealing both despite of and because of their problems. Recommended for all women's fiction collections.—Lesa M. Holstine, Glendale P.L., AZ
Copyright © 2007 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.