Friday, November 30, 2012

January Treasures in My Closet

I'm not sure how many of these books I'll have a chance to read since I'm moving in January, but I certainly want to share them with you, so you have the chance to pick up the ones that interest you.

Jessica Beck's Illegally Iced kicks off the list. Donut shop owner Suzanne Hart's spat with a local blackmsith puts her in a sticky mess when he ends up dead. Now, everyone in town has their eyes on her, and she has to solve the case and save her business.

Elizabeth Black takes readers to Galveston, Texas in her complex debut novel, The Drowning House. Photographer Clare Porterfield jumps at the chance to escape to Galveston, leaving behind a marriage that's falling apart after a family tragedy. Soon she finds herself caught up in a century-old mystery, the secret of the death of Stella Carraday, supposedly drowned in her family's house during the Great Hurricane of 1900. How was Clare's family involved in the tragedy? Black's novel tells of two families linked by tragedy and time.

Paula Brackston, author of The Witch's Daughter, returns with The Winter Witch. Morgana is a mystery to her small Welsh town. She's never spoken, and can't control her magic. Her mother worries about her safety, so she arranges a marriage for her to a widower who knows nothing about the rumors about Morgana. Once they are married, Morgana learns to love her new home and her husband. But, someone starts rumors even here, and Morgana must learn to harness her powers to save her new home, her love, and herself.

I have no information about the next book, but those of us who are fans of the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley will be delighted to see the next book, Speaking from Among the Bones.

Y is Marjorie Celona's debut novel. It's the story of Shannon, a newborn left at the doors of the local YMCA. She endures neglect and abuse as she bounces between foster homes until she finally finds a stability with a single mother with a daughter of her own. But, Shannon's questions about her true family can only be answered with the heartbreaking story of the mother who abandoned her.

Gwen Cooper, author of the nonfiction bestseller, Homer's Odyssey, turns to a fictional cat with Love Saves the Day. It isn't just chance when Prudence the cat adopts an owner, Sarah. But, Sarah doesn't come home one day, and Prudence is uprooted, taken to live with Sarah's daughter, Laura, and her new husband. Prudence searches for her owner, while Laura's past reveals the difficulties of any mother-daughter relationship. It's Prudence who tells the heartwarming story.

Ruth Downie's latest novel of the Roman Empire, Simper Fidelis, brings back Gaius Petreius Ruso. The Emperor Hadiran is coming to Britannia, and the army must get its affairs in order. Mysterious injuries, even deaths, have been piling up. Ruso's questions are unwelcome, and his wife is named a security risk. The fates of the legion, as well as that of Ruso and his wife, are in danger.

In Just One Day by Gayle Forman, a sheltered American good girl follows a Dutch actor to Paris, only to wake up one day to find him gone. Her upended life turns into a year of self-discovery as Allyson embarks on a journey to break free from a lifetime of limits in order to find her true passions.

Journalist and storyteller Susan Froetschel brings the rugged beauty of Afghanistan to life in Fear of Beauty. When a battered body of an Afghan body is found at the base of a cliff, some villagers believe he fell, and others blame American soldiers training nearby. Sofi, the boy's mother, secretly learns to read, and defies her husband and societal pressures to investigate her son's death.

A newspaper man and his family engage in a full-scale psychological battle with an unidentified stalker in George Harrar's Reunion at Red Paint Bay. The dramatic, suspenseful story spurs readers into examining the limits of responsibility for one's actions.

Liz Jensen's The Uninvited is called part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare. Across the world, children are killing their families. While anthropologist Hesketh Lock studies a scandal in the Taiwan timber industry, he doesn't realize something connects with the atrocities back home. But, with his talent for spotting behavioral patterns, and a fascination with group dynamics, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy rational thought.

Ann Leary introduces an interesting woman in The Good House. Hildy Good is a good neighbor, mother, and grandmother, but she's also a secret drinker who fools herself into thinking her problem is under control. It's a story involving scandal  some mysticisim, secrets, babies, old houses, drinking, desire, and a love story between two craggy sixty-somethings. What will it take to keep Hildy Good from drinking? For good.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is Ayana Mathis' debut novel. Hattie Shepherd is shattered when she flees Georgia for Philadelphia in 1923, only to watch her twin babies die from an illness that could have been prevented. She goes on to raise nine children without an ounce of tenderness, wanting them to be prepared for difficult lives. This is the story of Hattie, her children, her tribes, and the children of the Great Migration, told in twelve distinct narrative threads.

In Aloha, Baby Blue, Charley Menninger combines a cast of quirky, sometimes dangerous island characters, with a mystery. The crime debut introduces Stryker McBride, who lives on a three hundred thousand dollar houseboat at a small yacht club in Hawaii. The former crime reporter has been keeping a low profiel since being shot by a cop while investigating police corruption. But a phone call from a beautiful former classmate draws him into the investigation of a death, and a deadly secret buried deep in the heart of Hawaii.

 Jenny Milchman's Cover of Snow is a debut said to be an emotional, thrilling and chilling literary thriller in the suspenseful tradition of Gillian Flynn. One wintry morning, Nora Hamilton wakes to find her life totally changed. Her rock-solid policeman husband has committed suicide. And, as she struggles to understand what happened to her husband, the insular frigid mountain town is determined to keep its deadly secrets buried.

Zygmunt Miloszewski, a rising star in crime fiction in Poland, brings back maverick prosecutor Teodor Szacki in A Grain of Truth. To portray the climate of Anti-Semitism in modern day Poland, the author sends Szacki from Warsaw, and follows his investigation into a streak of murders in the small town of Sandomierz. Soon Szacki discovers that the murders all bear the hallmarks of a legendary Jewish ritual and he becomes entrenched in an investigation leading to a love triangle, an ancient Jewish ritual and Nazi symbols.

Nele Neuhaus' international bestseller, Snow White Must Die, comes to American audiences in January. Police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein's investigation into a mysterious traffic accident leads them to a small German village where two seventeen-year-old girls vanished eleven years earlier. A young man was convicted, and has served his sentence and returned home. When another girl disappears, the police investigation becomes a race against time and the villagers, who are determined to take matters into their own hands.

In Lynne Raimondo's Dante's Wood, psychiatrist Mark Angelotti turns investigator when a young patient confessWes to murder. Charlie is mentally handicapped, but he confesses to a teacher's murder. And, Mark has to prove Charlie's innocence in a case where nothing is as first meets the eye.

Can New Orleans survive Charlie Fox, former special forces soldier-turned bodyguard? Zoë Sharp's Die Easy takes Charlie and her lover, Sean Meyer, to New Orleans. After Sean's gunshot wound, their relationship is in ruins. Charlie is willing to take things nice and slow, but they suddenly find themselves in the middle of a war zone on their latest job. When a robbery explodes into a deadly hostage situation, Charlie finds herself facing a nightmare from her own past. And, she realizes that she can't rely on Sean to watch her back. But, no matter what, Charlie is never going to die easy.

Haywood Smith takes on the health insurance industry in her latest hilarious and heartwarming novel, Out of Warranty. When medical costs eat up all of Cassie Jones' money, the widow decides she must remarry for health insurance. When her fix-ups and e-dates are unsuccessful, she comes up with a pragmatic but unconventional solution.

In The History of Us, Leah Stewart's latest novel, three grown siblings return to their childhood home and face a family secret that forces them to reexamine their relationships to each other - and to the aunt who took them in as children.

Front Page Fatality is LynDee Walker's debut mystery, featuring Nichelle Clarke, a gutsy crime reporter who turns a routine assignment into a remarkable game changer. An ordinary accident story turns extraordinary when evidence goes missing, a prosecutor anishes, and a sexy Mafia boss shows up with the headline tip of a lifetime. 

It might be hard to think of January already. Is there anything here that tempts you?


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thomas Block, Guest Blogger

Today, I'd like to welcome Thomas Block as guest blogger. Thomas Block has written a number of aviation-  oriented novels, many which have gone on to acquire best-seller status in numerous countries. His novel writing began with the publication of “Mayday” in 1979. That novel was rewritten with novelist Nelson DeMille in 1998 and remains on DeMille’s extensive backlist. “Mayday” became a CBS Movie of the Week in October, 2005.
Several of the other novels by Block include “Orbit” (a top bestseller in Germany, among other nations), “Airship Nine”, “Forced Landing” (also done as a radio serialization drama in Japan), “Skyfall”, “Open Skies” and his latest novel, “Captain”. Thomas Block is still writing both fiction and non-fiction, and has edited and updated his earlier novels into ebooks in all the major formats and also into handsome full-sized (6″ by 9″ Trade Paperback) printed versions.
Block’s magazine writing began in 1968 and over the next five decades his work has appeared in numerous publications. He worked 20 years at FLYING Magazine as Contributing Editor, and as Contributing Editor to Plane & Pilot Magazine for 11 years. Block became Editor-at-Large for Piper Flyer Magazine and Cessna Flyer Magazine in 2001. During his long career as an aviation writer he has written on a wide array of subjects that range from involvement with government officials to evaluation reports on most everything that flies.
An airline pilot for US Airways for over 36 years before his retirement in April, 2000, Captain Thomas Block has been a pilot since 1959. Since 2002, he has lived on a ranch in Florida with his wife Sharon where they board, compete and train horses.
His latest book is the suspense/thriller novel, Captain.
Visit his website at

I was a professional pilot for a long time (I finally retired a dozen years ago), and a professional writer for almost as long as I flew airplanes.  While my airline flying is behind me, the writing portion of my professional life hasn’t retired in the least; matter of fact, it’s been cranked up a peg or two in the past few years.
I flew for an airline for over 36 years, ending my career crossing the North Atlantic several times a month as I plied my way between the US and various European cities -- just like my characters do in my latest novelCaptain.  My professional writing began a few years after my airline flying, first strictly with magazine work but then on to novels as I began helping my childhood friend Nelson DeMille as he began his own bestselling novelist career. Over the years, I have assisted Nelson DeMille with a good many of his novels in one way or another, and you’ll find that fact in most of his novels on the acknowledgement page - including a very generous mention of my new novel Captain inside DeMille’s newest novel, The Panther, which was released in October, 2012.  Here is an extract from that acknowledgement section of The Panther:

“Many of my novels have benefited from the assistance of my childhood friend Thomas Block, US Airways Captain (retired), columnist and contributing editor to aviation magazines, and co-author with me of Mayday, as well as the author of seven other novels.  Although Tom has retired as an International captain, he has not retired from writing, which does not require good eyesight or quick reflexes, and Tom has recently published his seventh novel, Captain, available on his website:
Many thanks, too, to Tom’s lovely wife, Sharon Block, former flight attendant for Braniff International and US Airways, for her timely and careful reading of the manuscript and her excellent suggestions, as well as her keen eye for typos and bad punctuation.  Sharon’s reading skills have been invaluable to both me and Tom, as our minds tended to wander in high school English class.  What we were thinking about is another story, but we both knew we’d someday have a lady in our lives who knew how to proofread.”

In 1978, with Nelson DeMille’s help and introductions (his breakthrough novel By the Rivers of Babylon had made him into an International bestselling novelist the year before),  I signed a contract to produce my first airplane action/adventure novel Mayday - which went on to also become an international bestseller.  In 1997, Nelson and I took the out-of-print Mayday, revised and updated it together, then republished the novel with both our names as co-authors.  That version became a CBS Movie of the Week in October, 2005, and is still readily available from Nelson DeMille’s extensive backlist.

During the 80’s I wrote five additional novels that had a good run of success throughout the world.  For various logistical reasons I didn’t find myself writing any novels through the 90’s, although I did do even more work with Nelson DeMille through that period and well into the new century.  With all of my old novels long out of print (excepting Mayday), I realized that with the dawning of the new era of publishing for both print and ebook versions, that I could go back to those older novels (the rights to those works had long since reverted to me), extensively revise and update them, and then send them back out to once again see the light of day - now dressed up in their modern-day clothing.  All of these novels were basically airplane-theme action/adventure, although they ran a gamut from hypersonic airlines on through Airships and even a detective story.  You can see all of the details of these novels - which continue to sell nicely and receive good reviews - at our website

But in the back of my mind I had yet another story - a new story that needed to be told in a more classic manner, with emphasis on character and plot, motivation and timing.  As always, it would be an aviation-theme action/adventure - but unlike most of the modern stories I was reading, I refused to pump it up gratuitous violence, sex and endless mayhem.  To me, many modern novels (and especially modern movies!) are hardly more than comic books with storylines that don’t hang together and with endless and brutish snapping from scene to scene as if the creators expected that the audience had an attention span (and a companion attention to detail) that could only be measured in the smallest portions possible.

So I wrote Captain, a story developed in a more classic fashion, with a beginning, middle and (what I wanted to be a very satisfying) ending.  It is a story about what happens to the crew and passengers on a particular flight from Rome, Italy to New York when unthinkable things begin to happen to their airliner.  It is full of characters that readers have repeatedly told me that they loved - and also loved to hate.  It is an action/adventure tale with a backdrop of emotions.  It is a novel that slowly moves from scene to scene - but at a fast pace.  Is that sort of mix possible?  Look at the classic movies Casablanca and Dances With Wolves, or the novel Lonesome Dove.  That’s exactly what I was trying to do with Captain; a number of reviewers and general readers have told me that, to them, Captain is a powerhouse of emotions while it is simultaneously packed with a very high level of action, intrigue and adventure.

When I finished Captain we sent it to several New York publishing houses but their editors initially told me that ‘airplane stories were out’ and ‘this isn’t what readers want these days’.  Since Captain was the story that I wanted to tell and in the manner that I wanted to tell it, we redoubled our efforts and eventually persevered. Captain is now published Internationally in print editions and all ebook formats.

Captain is an exciting adventure story that you can curl up and spend an enticing, intriguing, enjoyable time with; that’s the opinion of so many who have already read Captain, which you can see for yourself in vast array of very positive reviews!  I probably don’t have to tell you that I’m very proud of what Captain has meant to those readers, and I can personally assure you that you’ll be quite satisfied with the time and effort you’ll be spending with the crew, the passengers and the other characters involved in the emotional saga of Trans-Continental Airlines Flight 3.  Welcome aboard.

Thomas Block has created ‘Captain’ – his most ambitious, intricate and action-packed aviation tale yet . It is a chilling and all-too-real story about a routine Trans-Atlantic airline flight that suddenly turns absolutely insane. In the doomed airliner’s cockpit, inside the passenger cabin and on the ground, a complex array of characters have been propelled at jet speed into a sudden and frantic race for survival.
‘Captain’ is about the individual and collective struggles of each of these men and women as they attempt to deal with and ultimately fight against the odds and circumstances that are stacked against them. ‘Captain’is a novel that pits man against man while also pitting man against machine. It is a story about the need for human judgments, hard-learned experiences, gut feelings and unbridled perseverance in an effort to rise up against a world where the strict adherence to written rules, regulations and procedures have been accepted as the norm.
‘Captain’ is about the way real airline pilots think, feel and react, especially after those giant airliners that they’ve strapped themselves to have suddenly turned vicious and unpredictable.

Pump Up Your Book and Thomas Block are teaming up to give you 5 chances to win an Amazon Gift Card!
Description: amazon gift card
Here’s how it works:
Each person will enter this giveaway by following the details below, make sure to read carefully as this one is a little different than some of the others we have done. 
Since we’ve always been interested in what our readers have to say, we thought that you might be, too.  Go to our website at and look at both the ‘Reader Comments’ and the ‘Reader Reviews’ sections (you can locate them at the bottom of the home page, or listed along the sidebar).  Match these review/comments with the same quotation  on the raffle entry form, then simply enter the missing words from the end of each sentence (three, four or five words) from that particular reader’s review/comment.  That’s it!  Now you’re entered in the drawing for the gift certificates from Amazon!
Each Reader can enter the raffle contest one time (only one entry per email address; multiple entries will invalidate all entries from that address).  Also, no individual can win more than one prize.  To be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate, correctly enter any TWO of the six available Reader quotes.  To be eligible to win either a $25 or a $50 gift certificate, correctly enter any FOUR of the six available Reader quotes.  To be eligible to win ANY of the gift certificate prizes to be given away at raffle, enter all six of the available Reader quotes AND register a ‘Like’ at both of our Facebook sites:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Chat - December Mysteries from Penguin

I'm sorry. No cats in this month's book chat. Instead, there are ten new mysteries from Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime and Obsidian. You should find something here to appeal to you or to give as gifts.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts concludes her wonderful The Inn Boonsboro trilogy with a more than satisfying tribute to Pride and Prejudice, the story of Ryder and Hope.The Perfect Hope brings together so many elements of Austen's beloved story.  Ryder Montgomery is seen by Hope Beaumont as a little surly, marginally unsociable, has a hard time talking to strangers, but he's definitely sexy, tall, dark, and handsome. Ryder finds Hope snooty, and maybe a little snobbish. Definitely Darcy and Elizabeth material. If The Inn Boonsboro with its tribute to romantic couples isn't enough for the literary-minded, there's also the ghost of Eliza Ford, and her lost love, Billy. Lizzy and William. And, there's even a sleazy Wickham in the story. Hmmm.

Now that the inn is up and running, Hope, as the innkeeper, is constantly on call. That doesn't mean she doesn't have time for her two best friends. Clare Montgomery, owner of Turn The Page bookstore, is now married to Beckett, the youngest brother of the Montgomery Family Contractors. Avery MacTavish, the owner of a pizzeria, and the restaurant and tap room the Montgomerys are finishing, is engaged to the middle brother, Owen. And, it isn't long before Hope's friends can tell she has a thing for Ryder.

Ryder certainly has dated enough women, but he finds Hope too snooty for his taste. But, when she asks for a kiss so the ghost will let them out of the room she has mysteriously locked, he's more than willing. And, he doesn't mind when she asks him to go along with her when she kisses him in the parking lot to get back at her slimy ex-lover, Wickham. They both want a relationship on their own terms - not what they want to call a relationship. It might take a second nasty Wickham, some family members, and a tragic ghost story to bring the two together.

My favorite Nora Roberts' books are her trilogies. She has time to develop relationships, storylines, and people you're eager to get back to reading about. The Inn Boonsboro series also had the added element of that extraordinary inn where rooms were based on romantic couples who had happy endings. The books are charming romances with fun characters. And, Roberts' inclusion of family, ghosts,, and small town gossip and news only adds to the enchantment of this series.

I couldn't do justice to this series, though, without saying you need to start from the beginning. Go back and pick up The Next Always, and then The Last Boyfriend. Only then will you be able to appreciate the satisfying conclusion, the story of Hope and Ryder in Nora Roberts' The Perfect Hope.

Nora Roberts' website is

The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts. Berkley Books. 2012. ISBN 9780425246047 (paperback), 324p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blog Tour - Lasso the Stars by L.L. Nielsen

I was supposed to participate in L.L. Nielsen's blog tour today for Lasso the Stars. As everyone knows, I've been a little busy lately, traveling while I apply for jobs. Now,  I've already started packing. So, I haven't had time to read it. I hate to let anyone down, so I'm only going to post the information from the tour website. (And, I'm not doing any more blog tours until I'm moved and settled in.)

L.L. Nielsen, author of Lasso the Stars, on tour September, November, and December 2012

About Lasso the Stars

• Paperback: 260 pages
• Publisher: Tate Publishing (February 7, 2012)
“As life seems to be fading, the hope you need to survive may be all in your head. Lasso the Stars is a novel following weakening cancer patient Dina, who has little hope for survival. When Gil enters her life, a literal angel turned cowboy, Dina finds love and hope once more, a relationship that no one around her believes is real. A spiritual romance with a thoughtful message, Lasso the Stars is a choice read for anyone seeking romance with a divine twist, much recommended.” – Midwest Book Review, Book Watch, March 2012, Reviewer: Michael Dunford

About L.L. Nielsen

Lasso the Stars was born in the Pastures of Heaven, a small peaceful valley between Monterey and Salinas, California, made famous by John Steinbeck. But the book actually began much earlier, when two dear friends passed away from cancer. They often said they could either give in or fight. Both chose to wage a courageous battle; they became more spiritual; saw what others couldn’t see.  The thoughts they shared stayed with me.
I took up walking along the curving, dusty road that ran the length of the valley in the Pastures of Heaven. I discovered a run-down corral, a horse named Destiny and an old gate that led nowhere. Words and feelings continued to surface in my mind and an idea formed. Armed with memories of my friends and charged with a new responsibility to honor my friends’ lives and perceptions, I began the journey of writing my first novel.
Eventually, I filed the manuscript and pursued other endeavors, until I moved to the Sierra Foothills. There, daily walking the old mountain roads, memories of my friends once again joined me and Lasso the Stars came out of seclusion, took flight and comes to you, now, on angel’s wings.

L.L.’s Tour Stops

Monday, September 17th: Maureen’s Musings
Tuesday, September 18th: Never Too Fond of Books
Wednesday, September 19th: Life in Review
Monday, September 24th: Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, September 26th: WV Stitcher
Tuesday, November 20th: she treads softly
Wednesday, November 21st: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, November 26th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Tuesday, November 27th: The Book Bag
Wednesday, November 28th: Knitting and Sundries
Thursday, November 29th: Paperback Princess
Friday, November 30th: But Doctor I hate Pink
Monday, December 3rd: Tina’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, December 4th: Mary’s Cup of Tea
Wednesday, December 5th: Sidewalk Shoes
Thursday, December 6th: Luxury Reading

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mitstletoe, Merriment, and Murder by Sara Rosett

Poor Ellie Avery. There really is very little merriment for her in Sara Rosett's latest mystery, Mistletoe, Merriment, and Murder. Once she finds a body, she becomes the primary suspect in a murder. And, it can certainly be tough to try to keep a family schedule, a work schedule, and try to find a killer at Christmastime.

In the middle of preparation for her children's Christmas pageant, and family time before her husband, Mitch, an air force pilot, was deployed, Ellie agreed to act as a substitute host for the squadron wives' Christmas party and white elephant exchange. It was an innocent decision, but it went wrong quickly when Ellie's competition for professional organizing jobs showed up at the party, and the two had an argument. Ellie's attempt at an apology ended when she found a body, and quickly became the number one suspect. It seems a certain detective with the sheriff's department doesn't appreciate Ellie's involvement in murder investigations, and suspects she finally went too far.

Ellie Avery has always been one of my favorite amateur sleuths. Rosett's experience as an Air Force wife is essential in building the background and family life for the Averys. From the very beginning, Rosett has succeeded where other authors sometimes fail. Ellie's home life is essential to the story, and she doesn't ignore her family, or allow their safety to be threatened so she can investigate a murder. At times, the family is threatened, but it's due to a killer, not Ellie's carelessness or neglect.

In Mistletoe, Merriment, and Murder, Ellie might be a murder suspect, but she's an amateur sleuth with a strong support network, beginning with her husband and her best friend, Abby. As always though, it's Ellie's attention to detail as an organizer, and her knowledge of the squadron, that gets her into trouble. For somewhere in the story of the squadron wives, the break-ins while husbands are deployed or out of town, and the background of the close-knit squadron, is the answer to the mystery. If Ellie Avery isn't the killer, someone else is. And, once again, Sara Rosett skillfully brings together squadron life and an amateur sleuth in Mistletoe, Merriment, and Murder.

Sara Rosett's website is

Mistletoe, Merriment, and Murder by Sara Rosett. Kensington Books. 2012. ISBN 9780758249218 (paperback), 320p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Last Staff Picks

On Wednesday, Nov. 21, I did my last Staff Picks for the library staff at Glendale. Once a quarter, I pick 15 books and do quick book chats. The other months, staff members from throughout the system bring books to talk about. I thought this was going to be a little sad because I've enjoyed every opportunity to talk about books with these other book lovers. But, they made it a joyous occasion, bringing sparkling apple cider to offer a toast. So, thank you to the Glendale Library Staff, and here's to the future at Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.

And, as always, I'm sharing those fifteen books with you.

Quotes from Will Schwalbe – “Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.”
                “Books focused her mind, calmed her, took her outside of herself.”
                “All readers have reading in common.”

Brown Bag Luncheon – Nov. 21, 2012

Adams, Jen – The Books They Gave Me  – Collection of almost 200 stories submitted to Adams’ blog, to capture how books change lives.

Bowen, Rhys – The Twelve Clues of Christmas  – Lady Georgie accepts a job as hostess for a holiday party in Tiddleton-under-Lovey, where she becomes suspicious when a death occurs daily.

Cabot, Amanda – Christmas Roses  – In Wyoming, in 1882, a young widow taking in boarder tells one of them she’ll remarry when a man gives her roses for Christmas.

Carlson, Melody – The Christmas Pony – Lucy knows better than to ask for a pony for Christmas when her widowed mother needs boarders in order to put food on the table in Depression-era Arizona.
Hearth, Amy Hill – Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society  – The thought-provoking story of a woman from Boston who moves to Naples, FL in 1962, and turns the redneck town upside down with her book club and her radio show.

Macomber, Debbie – Angels at the Table  – Macomber brings back her angels, Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy, and adds an apprentice to interfere in the lives of another couple and bring holiday romance.

MacRae, Molly – Last Wool and Testament  – When Kath inherits her grandmother’s fiber & fabric shop, she also inherits a ghost and group of friends willing to prove her Granny wasn’t a killer.

March, Mia – The Meryl Streep Movie Club  – Lolly Weller raised her nieces along with her daughter after a car crash killed their parents. Fifteen years later, when she calls them home to reveal she has cancer, it’s Meryl Streep movies that bring them together.

Marton, Kati – Paris: A Love Story  – Memoir of her love of Paris & sharing it with her husbands, first Peter Jennings, then Richard Holbrooke.

Schwalbe, Will – The End of Your Life Book Club -  Schwalbe’s book discussions with his mother during her cancer treatments allow them to reach out to each other.

Sloan, Robin – Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore  – A clerk in a mysterious bookstore discovers an unusual group of clients, and gathers friends for a quest to find a secret.

Four of Lesa’s Favorites

Brett, Regina – God Never Blinks  – 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours

Cannell, Stephen – King Con  – The king of the con men plans one last great con to get even with a mobster.

Crusie, Jennifer & Bob Mayer – Agnes and the Hitman  – A sexy, hilarious story combining a food writer named Cranky Agnes and a hitman named Shane, mixed together with a Southern Mob wedding, a missing necklace, flamingos, a dog named Rhett, and a frying pan.

Hoffman, Beth – Saving CeeCee Honeycutt  – Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt’s tragic life is changed by her great-aunt, and an eccentric group of women in Savanna.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dr. Randy Christensen

Guest blogger, Stephanie Rumsey, is one of the librarians at Velma Teague. Stephanie recently hosted Dr. Randy Christensen, author of Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them. Stephanie facilitates the 58th Avenue Book Group at Velma Teague, and she invited him to speak to the book club and other library patrons. She sent me the following notes for inclusion here.

Even I have to admit that every once in a while People Magazine manages to get it right.  In the May 2011 issue, they named Dr. Randy Christensen a Local Hero Among Us. We are fortunate at the Velma Teague Library because he not only hangs out here under the call number 362.7, but for a brief wonderful time he came to visit the 58th Avenue Book Group.

The medical director of the Crews’n Healthmobile and co-author of Ask Me Why I Hurt:  The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them, is better known as Doctor C. to the thousands of homeless kids he has treated for the past 12 years.  These are kids who find it safer to be on the dangerous streets in Maricopa County than face the type of abuse that they have known in their own homes.

Dr. Christensen found Mary one day in a storm drain in Moeur Park, and Donald after he had been put on a bus by his parent in Texas.  Both of these kids have gone on to mainstream into successful careers and family life after someone from the RV reached out to help.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of state-funded psychiatric resources for these kids, not all outcomes are as successful.  But it isn’t because the team doesn’t try.  This year alone they expect to see about 6,500 youth.

We can only be grateful that the Dr. C. and his team care for these kids, and that he found the time to stop by the library.  We will just have to content ourselves with our copy of Ask Me Why I Hurt, call number 362.7.  It is here, awaiting your discovery.

For ways you can help the Crews’n Healthmobile, visit their website at

Stephanie C. Rumsey

Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them by Randy Christensen. Crown. 2011. ISBN 9780307718990.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

This year, I have so much to be thankful for. And, I'm beginning with the most important person in my life, my mother. If you think you have the best mother in the world, you're lucky. You must have a mother as special as mine. She's always been there for me, but she's been so supportive during my job hunting. She spent time online looking for jobs for me and my staff. She sent information about jobs for others in the system. You don't know how much time she's spent online looking for apartments with me. And, she's flying to Arizona to help me drive to Indiana with the cats. Pretty special when she's not even a cat person. She's a special mother.

And, I'm thankful for my sisters and their families. I love all of them. They're always on the end of the phone to talk with, laugh with, and talk about books. And, my sisters' kids always make me laugh.

I'm grateful for all my extended family (and all the authors in my life should be grateful for all those readers in my family!).I'm also grateful for Facebook and family newsletters that keep us in touch.

Over the years, I've worked with wonderful library staff who are passionate about books, libraries, and serving the public. It's been my joy to work with people who cared, in Upper Arlington and Huron, Ohio, Port Charlotte, Ft. Myers and Captiva Island, Florida, and Glendale, Arizona. I've loved all the years with them, and I'm now lucky enough to have the chance to work with a new group in Evansville, Indiana. I've been blessed with wonderful friends and co-workers.

I'm thankful for friends who have enjoyed theater, dinners, and lots of laughter. And, I have wonderful friends in Jamie Shaheen and John and Talia Sherer. They were kind enough to put me up while I was interviewing for jobs. And, I'm thankful for cat sitters and "The Airport Queen".

I'm grateful for all the authors who share their books, and quite often their time. Thank you for appearing for Authors @ The Teague. (Now, who's willing to come to Evansville, Indiana?) And, I've already thanked Barbara Peters and the staff at the Poisoned Pen for everything they've done for me over the years.

And, of course I'm grateful for all of my blog readers. So many of you have become friends over the years. We may never meet, but you've shared books, your lives, my loss of Jim, and my latest job search. You've been supportive, and I'm grateful for every conversation about books and life (they are the same, aren't they?), that we've had. You're a blessing in my life.

When I take time to count my blessings - all the people in my life, I know what a good year it has been. May you have as many blessings to count this year. Happy Thanksgiving!

Christmas Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the two recent Christmas book giveaways. Jennifer P. of Rienzi, MS won the copy of Cleo Coyle's Holiday Buzz. Cleo will be sending that book directly to Jennifer. I'll be sending the following winners their books. Tina B. of So Thomaston, ME won The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen. Kate Kingsbury's The Clue in the Pudding goes to Erica S. of Sparks, NV, and Cheryl K. of Gilberts, IL won Wedding Cake Killer by Livia J. Washburn. I'll put them in the mail on Friday.

Thanksgiving usually marks the end of my giveaways for the year. (I don't like to go to the post office in December if I can help it.) This year, I'm moving to Indiana the first week of January. I'll be starting my new job on January 14. If you only read the blog for the contests, I'll kick off a new contest sometime late in the month.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Don't be put off by the title of Will Schwalbe's book, The End of Your Life Book Club. Yes, for two years he accompanied his mother to the hospital for treatments for her cancer. And, yes, most pancreatic cancer patients die within six months. But, Schwalbe's book is a celebration of his mother's remarkable life, and a celebration of the two years he had to share book discussions with her. The book is actually a message of love.

Mary Anne Schwalbe was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007. By the end of that year, Will met his mother regularly at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. While she underwent her chemo, they talked. And, one day in November, they began their book club when he asked, "What are you reading?" She was reading Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, a book with a woman dying. That book allowed mother and son to bridge a gap when she referred to a character in the book, saying he would be alright after his wife's death. Schwalbe says, "The novel gave us a way to discuss some of the things she was facing and some of the things I was facing." And, he continues, "Books had always been a way for my mother and me to introduce and explore topics that concerned us but made us uneasy, and they had always given us something to talk about when we were stressed or anxious."

Will's mother was a remarkable woman, a woman who had traveled and worked all over the world, helping students, then refugees. She worked in war-torn countries, and was determined to raise the money to build a library in Afghanistan. And, she was misdiagnosed with hepatitis when she first returned from a trip to that country.  After months of feeling tired, pancreatic cancer was finally diagnosed.

In the course of Mary Anne Schwalbe's last two years, mother and son must have read at least 150 books. There's an extensive list at the end, and so much of the book consists of those book discussions. The book itself becomes a book discussion, as well as a discussion of life and death. Any reader of serious fiction and nonfiction will appreciate the conversations about literature and life. And, I know I'm not doing justice to the brilliant woman whose strength shines on these pages.

Will Schwalbe brings his mother to life again through the books she loved, and the storied life she led. And books challenged her and comforted her to the end. "Books focused her mind, calmed her, took her outside of herself." Schwalbe knows how fortunate he was to have those two years with his mother, since so many people die quickly from pancreatic cancer. However, The End of Your Life Book Club isn't about death. It's about a mother and son sharing their lives and beliefs through their conversations about books. And, it's about a realization that readers everywhere will appreciate. "Reading isn't the opposite of doing; it's the opposite of dying."

Will Schwalbe's website is

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. Alfred A. Knopf. 2012. ISBN 9780307399663 (hardcover), 336p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library

Evansville Vanderburgh Central Library

Everyone here knows I've been interviewing for jobs. Yesterday, I accepted the position of Public Services Officer for the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in Evansville, Indiana. I'm excited about joining the staff at this outstanding 5 Star Library. Last week, I had the chance to visit most of the branches, and meet some of the staff. People were so excited about what they're doing. They glowed with pride and excitement.

I have wonderful friends here in Glendale. They were here for me when Jim died, and I love so many of them. It's going to be hard to leave the people I love, and my great apartment. I've been very happy here. But, I knew I'd be out of a job by the end of the fiscal year, so I've been trying to find the right place. This is it.

Now comes all the work of finding a place to live, packing, moving, etc. I hope you all continue to wish me luck! I'll need it!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Books They Gave Me by Jen Adams

Jen Adams loves books. Her love of books and curiosity led her to create the tumblr blog People from all over the world sent her notes about the books they sent or received as gifts. Almost two hundred of those stories were compiled in The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit.

Why did these ideas fascinate Adams? She says, "For those of us who live for the written word, books given and received in the context of a relationship can reveal so much." There are books here that were given by parents, aunts, brothers. Many of them were given while couples were dating. Some books indicate why a couple succeeded, while many show why relationships failed. "The affect of books on real people's lives can be powerful, as the stories in The Books They Gave Me will reveal."

The anecdotes naturally have a variety of writing styles and voices. Each story is accompanied by a full color illustration of the book discussed. I challenge any reader to go through this book, and not think about which book in their collection they would include if they wrote to the author.

My personal favorites were gifts given by family members. One writer received an autographed copy of Edward Gorey's Amphigorey. Years later, asked why that gift, the father answered that "Edward Gorey had seemed like an interesting fellow, and since I already lived in a world of my own, they thought I'd like some company." My two favorites though, were the gifts given by brothers. One young woman moved to graduate school to find a gift of Patricia McKillip's Riddle-Master from her younger brother. Then, there was the eleven-year-old avid reader. Her tiny Catholic school refused to allow her to read Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. In later years, her older brother gave her all kinds of books. But, that Christmas the inscription in the front of Bradbury's book read, "Little Sister. read everything you can. Learn about all the ideas that this world has to offer. Subvert Authority! Love always, your big brother."

We should all have people in our lives who know us well enough to give good gifts. And, this year, may you all be thoughtful givers if you give books. Remember. Your gift might end up on some blog, or in some book such as Jen Adams' The Books They Gave Me.

Jen Adams blogs at

The Books They Gave Me by Jen Adams. Free Press (Simon & Schuster). 2012. ISBN 9781451688795 (hardcover), 235p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Bookstores, puzzles, Google, a fantasy novel, the history of printing, a quest. Robin Sloan's debut novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, has all of those elements combined in a complex story with a perfect ending. I'll admit there were a few moments when I felt lost and didn't know where the book was heading. But, oh, when it got there, I actually cried.

Clay Jannon, the narrator, is an art school graduate who was learning how to write code and create ads when the bagel-making company he worked for folded. He didn't have the computer skills to compete with other designers for jobs, so when he saw a sign on the door of a 24-hour San Francisco bookstore advertising for the chance to clerk on the late shift, he jumped at the chance. The front of the store was a normal bookstore. But, in the back was the mysterious Waybacklist that brought in unusual customers. Clay was forbidden to read those books, but he had to log the appearance and actions of the customers, who only came in and borrowed the books. It wasn't long before his curiosity and boredom caught up with him. Clay started to create a 3-D model of the bookstore. And, as he searched for answers, he decided the store, those customers, and the manager, Mr. Penumbra, must be involved in something other than books.

Clay's inquiries lead him to gather a few friends including Kat, who works for Google, and Neel, a friend from childhood who is now a successful entrepreneur. It will take all their skills, and Clay's experiences as a gamer to take them into a world of "Old Knowledge", "Traditional Knowledge", and what Clay thinks might be a cult involving coded books. The answers are larger than anyone imagines. Clay just might discover the greatest secret to life.

Robin Sloan's novel is a gem. It's hard to let go of Clay Jannon at the end of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. It's hard to let go of "the right book exactly, at just the right time." Any reader with patience will understand when they get to that last sentence.

Robin Sloan's website is

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2012. ISBN 9780374214913 (hardcover), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.