Archive for the ‘Readers Corner’ Category

A Bonanza of Book Groups – Join Us!

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Curtis Library heard from hundreds of library members during the 10 Days 100 Ideas project.

An oft repeated comment was that people wanted more book groups hosted by the library.

To meet this request the library will be adding six (6!) new book groups to the library’s two current groups:

The new groups will start in September and be open to all in the community.

All meetings will be in the library’s second floor Seminar Room unless noted otherwise.

Below are summaries of each group, we hope you will join us.

I’ll Read Anything!

dead wakeI’ll Read Anything! is for readers who enjoy a wide range of authors, topics and genres, and can’t wait to have a good discussion about the selection.

One month we may read about a walking tour of Rome and the next explore the
canals and cities of Mars with Ray Bradbury.

Moderator: Liz Doucett
First meeting: Wednesday, September 16, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

First book: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Exploring Diversity

The_Color_of_Water_coverDiversity describes the individual and group differences
including race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical abilities, and morethat exist in our society.

This group will choose books about people who face the challenges of living in our diverse world.

Moderator: Carol Lord

First meeting: Wednesday, September 2, 11 a.m. to noon

First book: The Color of Water by James McBride

Money Smart Meetups

power of habit The Money Smart Meetup will be an enhanced book group, meaning that in addition to reading and discussing a book each month, occasionally guest experts will provide professional insight on finance topics such as spending mindfully, managing and eliminating debt, saving money and building assets, etc.

Curtis Library will provide free books for each participant to

Pick up copies of the book at the reference desk on the library’s second floor after the 1st of the month.

Moderators: Sarah Brown and Jessica Flaherty

First meeting: Wednesday, September 23, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Morrell Meeting Room, repeated Friday in the Seminar Room noon to 1:00 p.m.

First book: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Beers and Books at Byrnes

gumptionTrying something new, Curtis will hold an off-site monthly book group at Byrnes Irish Pub on Station Avenue.

This book group is for anyone who wants to talk books over laughter and beer.

Moderator: Paul Dostie

First meeting: Wednesday, September 9, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Byrnes Irish Pub

First book: Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman

Technology Impact

newbooks22For better or worse, few aspects of our daily lives are unaffected by technology.

This book club will focus on how those changes impact the big picture and the small actions of human life.

Suggested reads will include biographies of innovators and histories of the computer and the Internet.

Moderator: Mike Gorzka

First meeting: Monday, September 14, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

First book:
Steve Jobs: the Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli

Another Time, Another Place

The_Martian_2014Many readers grew up on classic science fiction writers such as Asimov, Clark, Heinlein, et al., and then migrated to fantasy when they couldn’t find modern sci-fi.

This book group will explore both genres, mixing old school classics with brave new authors.

Moderator: Marian Dalton

First meeting: Thursday, September 10, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

First book: The Martian by Andy Weir

Fall 2015 Mystery Authors Series – Jessie Crockett

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

jessieAnd to cap off our 2015 Mystery Author Series Curtis Memorial Library, Sisters in Crime and Maine Crime Writers will feature, Jessie Crockett.

Day & Time: Tuesday, October 20, 7 PM

Location: The Library’s Morrell Meeting Room

Jessie is the author of two mystery series, The Granite State Mysteries and the Sugar Grove Mystery series.

The Granite State Mystery series begins with “Live Free or Die, A Granite State Mystery”, featuring Winslow Falls, New Hampshire volunteer fire chief, Gwen Fifield.

The town people are convince an immigrant family is responsible for the recent Christmas fires but Gwen’s not so sure.

live freeThis mystery garnered Jessie the Mainstream Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery. The Sugar Grove Mystery series opener, “Drizzled with Death”, finds Dani Greene, a fourth generation maple syrup maker, in search of the person who poisoned the pancakes at the pre-Thanksgiving day “all you can eat pancakes” event.

Next in the series is, “Maple Mayhem”, and her most recently published, “A Sticky Situation”, which was published this year.

About Jessie Crockett

A nearly life-long resident of the Granite State, Jessie naturally adores black flies, killing frosts in August and snow banks taller than the average grandmother.

Jessie tells us that when she’s not writing murderous mysteries she loves to putter in her garden, design bento lunches, and throw parties.

Jessie also loves mentoring young writers at the local schools.

Jessie lives with her husband and high-spirited children in a town “so small most New Hampshire residents have never heard of it.”

She loves hearing from her readers and says it makes the winters seem shorter so please drop by at

Fall 2015 Mystery Authors Series – Clea Simon

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Clea_w_cat1On Tuesday, October 6th Clea Simon will drop by Curtis Memorial Library’s Morrell Meeting Room for a visit and talk about writing and her books.

Clea has three pet-related series: The Theda Krakow mystery series, the Dulcie Schwartz Feline Mysteries set in academia, and the Pru Marlowe Pet Noir series set in the Berkshires.

In the spring of 2016 Severn House Books will launch Clea’s new, darker series, “The Ninth Life”, which features a homeless runaway teen and her cat.

cattery rowClea is also the author of three nonfiction books, and her essays and mystery short stories appear in several anthologies.

The Theda Krakow mystery series was Clea’s first venture into the mystery series venue. In the first Theda mystery, “Mew is for Murder”, Theda, a free- lance writer becomes an investigative reporter when an old “crazy cat lady” Theda has just met dies suspiciously.

Theda continues with “Cattery Row”, “Cries and Whiskers”, “Probable Claws” (Poisoned Pen Press). Clea’s next series stars Dulcie Schwartz and Mr. Grey her ghostly cat, beginning with, “Shades of Grey”, and continues with “Grey Matters”, “Grey Zone”, “Grey Expectations”, “True Grey”, “Grey Dawn”, “Grey Howl”, “Stages of Grey” and just this summer “Code Grey” (Severn House) was published.

noirThe Pru Marlowe pet noir series features bad girl turned pet psychic and Wallis her cantankerous cat. This series begins with, “Dogs Don’t Lie”, continuing with “Cats Can’t Shoot”, “Parrots Prove Deadly”, “Panthers Play for Keeps”, and published this year, “Kittens Can Kill”. (Poisoned Pen Press).

Both the Dulcie and Pru series are ongoing.

Clea’s nonfiction books include: “Mad House: Growing Up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings” (Doubleday, 1997), “Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads” (Wiley, 2001) and “The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats” (St. Martin’s Press, 2002).

Clea’s essays are included in several anthologies, including “Cat Women: Female Writers on Their Feline Friends”, “For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance”, and “He Said What? Women Write About Moments When Everything Changed” (Seal Press).

coverClea’s short mysteries are included in “Christmas Cats: A Literary Companion” (Chamberlain Bros.), “Deadfall: Crime Stories by New England Authors” (Level Best), “Cambridge Voices (Friends of the CPL)”, and “Tales from the House Band, Volumes 1 and 2” (Plus One Press).

Clea has also written new introductions for two Agatha Christie classics, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” and “The Secret Adversary”, published by the Barnes and Noble Library of Essential Reading.

Clea is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe and her writing pops up occasionally in such publications as American Prospect, Ms., San Francisco Chronicle, and

Clea lives with her husband and their cat, Musetta, in Massachusetts.

Such clubs and bars offered the perfect “third place,” neither home nor work, where I could go to unwind and socialize. I wasn’t ready to give that up.
― Clea Simon, Mew is for Murder

Fall 2015 Mystery Authors Series – Vaughn Hardacker

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

VCH_Webpic-375x274On September 22 at 7pm our second author will visit. Vaughn Hardacker is a writer, and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp. who served in Vietnam.

Vaughn holds degrees from Northern Maine Technical College, the University of Maine and Southern New Hampshire University. He is a member of the New England Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America as well as Maine Crime Writers.

Fisherman-e1432914673553Vaughn has completed five novels and numerous short stories. Vaughn has published short stories in three anthologies: Mouth Full of Bullets; Best of Year One, My Teacher Is My Hero, and Deadfall, Level Best Books’ sixth annual anthology of New England crime and mystery stories.

His two police novels, SNIPER and THE FISHERMAN feature Boston homicide detectives, Mike Houston and his partner, Anne Bouchard.

Along to help as well is Mike’s childhood friend turned mob boss, Jimmy O’Leary.

Of The Sniper, Hank Phillippi Ryan; Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark award winning author of The Wrong Girl say:

Tense, taut and genuinely chilling. Hardacker instills this disturbingly sinister tale with vengeance and terror with true Boston heart and authenticity.

Fall 2015 Mystery Authors Series – Kathy Lynn Emerson

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Once again Curtis Memorial Library, Sisters in Crime and Maine Crime Writers are please to bring to the library 4 very talented mystery authors. Starting the events on September 8th will be Kathy Lynn Emerson.


Kathy combines many authors and sub-genres into one talented woman.

First we have Kaitlin Gorton the author of contemporary romances, then we have Kathy Lynne Emerson who writes the Face Down series that features Susanna, Lady Appleton, a 16th century gentlewoman, herbalist, and sleuth.

Then there is the Diana Spaulding series. Diana is a widowed, theatrical journalist who is trying to survive in 1888 New York City.

As Kaitlyn Dunnett, Kathy writes the present day Liss MacCrimmon Scottish-American Heritage mystery series that takes place in Moosetookalook, Maine and as Kate Emerson, Kathy writes non-mystery historical novels set in the 16th century.


Kathy is also the author of the Agatha Award winning, “How to write killer historical mysteries: the art and adventure of sleuthing through the past.”

Kathy’s latest book, “Murder in the queen’s wardrobe”, is a spin-off of the Lady Appleton series featuring Rosamond the illegitimate daughter of Lady Appleton’s late husband.

coverBooklist describes it as:

First-rate storytelling, a fine choice for historical mystery fans.

Kathy is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and other professional organizations.

Kathy and her husband, Sandy, live on a Christmas tree farm in upstate Maine with their three cats, Bala, Nefret, and Feral.

Beer and Books at Byrnes with Paul Dostie starting in September

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

pauls-book-groupFinally! A book discussion group tailored to men and people-who-are-not-men-but-enjoy-beer-and-books-too. Beer and Books at Byrnes is an alliterative book group for literate imbibers. We were looking to provide a testosterone-driven book group for those of us who aspire to American Manliness and use pick-up truck nomenclature.

My director thought it was a little excessive and suggested I conduct it out of the library.

She might have had the sidewalk in mind but we ultimately settled on a place of worship. Byrnes Irish Pub on Station Avenue was my first choice because I live across the parking lot from it. Sorry if you prefer another ale house; maybe next meeting.

Our thought (hope?) is to begin with a light non-fiction work and gradually work our way to more serious subjects as we cascade into alcoholism and an unnatural appreciation of bagpipe music. Of course, that can all change.


Participants will be encouraged to recommend our next reads. A reading groups’ character and choices evolve with its membership. We might decide to read NASCAR biographies with our Smithwicks (pronounced Smitticks for those who don’t want to be ridiculed by the wait staff) or we might go with bodice-busting romances and sip Cosmopolitans.

Our inaugural read is by Parks and Rec’s Nick Offerman. Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers sounds like a manly enterprise.

Be there on Wednesday, September 9 at 6:00 PM.

— Paul Dostie

Dogs Don’t Lie: A Pru Marlowe Pet Noir — Clea Simon

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

pruIn “Dogs don’t lie: a Pru Marlowe Pet Noir,” the first book in the new Clea Simon series we are introduced to Pru Marlowe an animal behaviorist in training.

After a very serious illness Pru is left with an unusual gift one that Pru isn’t able to deal with. Pru has been given the ability to “hear” animal thoughts.

Thinking that running home to family will make things right she returns to her picturesque Berkshires hometown looking for a little peace.

Although Pru doesn’t have her behaviorist license she is able to find employment working with animals. One of her clients is Charles and his pit bull, Lily, a fighting ring dropout.

When Pru arrives at Charles’ house he finds Charles on the floor with his throat ripped out and Lily standing over him. Lily is too traumatized to give Pru a clear picture of what she has seen.

One thing Pru is sure of is that Lily had nothing to do with the murder not matter what the evidence shows and she is going to prove it.

Pru has to find out who the real killer is before anyone else is murdered as well as learn to live with her gift.

Too bad that her training as an animal behaviorist got her mixed up with Lily, a rescue dog, and Charles, her person.

Now Charles is dead, and Lily looks good for it. Lily is way too traumatized to give Pru a clear picture of what she has witnessed.

Clea SimonBut Pru knows something about bad girls trying to clean up, and, with a sense of justice strong enough to overcome her dislike of human society, she takes the case.

Listening to the animals, Pru picks up clues–and learns there are secrets in the pretty little town that make murder look simple.

Unable to tell anybody about her psychic abilities, uncertain at times about her own sanity, Pru comes to realize that if she clears Lily, she’ll likely become the prime suspect–or the next victim.

While the only creature she can totally trust is her crotchety tabby Wallis, Pru’s got to uncover the real killer–and find a way to live with her gift–before the real beasts in the town savage her and those she has come to love.

This is the first in the Pru Marlowe “pet noir”series.

– Carol Briggs


Friday, July 10th, 2015

book coverIn Lea Wait’s first installment of her Shadows mysteries, Shadows at the Fair, antiques dealers seem to be dying at an alarming rate at antiques expositions.

One local antiques dealer is killed in a one car accident, two Scranton Pennsylvania antiques dealers die of smoke inhalation, another dies from substance abuse and the most recent victim died from poisoning.

Maggie Summer, the owner of Shadows Antiques, is totally unaware of these tragedies when she arrives at the prestigious Rensselaer County Spring Antiques Fair.

Maggie isn’t clueless for very long as rumors are flying everywhere but the recently widowed Maggie doesn’t intend for murder to interfere with selling her antique prints. That is until one of the dealers at the show is murdered and her friend, Gussie’s 20 year old nephew, Ben, who has Down’s Syndrome, is accused of the murder.

To help Gussie and Ben Maggie needs to find out who killed the antiques dealer. But who can Maggie trust when anyone could be the killer?

From Library Journal
Her discreet search for clues accompanies a similarly low-key dissemination of information about old prints and other antiques. Fans of John Dunning’s mysteries about the rare book world (e.g., Booked To Die) may also enjoy this solid, middle-of-the-road start to a new series. Wait is a fourth-generation antiques dealer and has sold antique prints for over 25 years.

The New York Times Book Review Cannily draws on its author’s professional experiences in the antiques trade… The fairground setting beckons like a weekend in the country…

Collection Connections: Harper Lee and Truman Capote

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Harper Lee

Harper Lee

On July 14th, Harper Lee’s eagerly awaited, much-hyped book Go Set a Watchman will be released.

The long-lost manuscript was written before Lee wrote her only published book, To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960.

The story follows an adult Scout Finch who travels from New York to Alabama to visit her father, Atticus, 20 years after the events of Mockingbird.

When I think of Harper Lee, I always think of Truman Capote. They became friends in the early 1930s in Monroeville, Alabama. They lived next door to each other: Capote with aunts and uncles, Lee with her parents and siblings, and shared a love of reading and writing.

Truman Capote

Truman Capote

Capote is the inspiration for Scout’s friend, Dill, in Mockingbird, and Lee accompanied him to Kansas to research In Cold Blood.

But by the time of his death in 1984, at the relatively young age of 59, the two had not been in communication for years.

Apparently, I am not the only person who is fascinated by this literary friendship: in Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story (2007), author Kim Powers imagines the final years of Capote’s life in which he reaches out to her in mysterious ways.

This novel attempts to answer tantalizing questions like what happened between them? And who really wrote To Kill a Mockingbird?

Though Capote wrote novels, short stories and plays that are now considered literary classics, he achieved fame with In Cold Blood, the journalistic story of two men who killed a family (in cold blood). Capote called it a “nonfiction novel” and it is considered a pioneering example of the true crime genre.

Christmas Memory

A Christmas Memory

I have been haunted by the reading of that book and it nearly turned me away from him, but fortunately someone told me that most of his work was not like In Cold Blood, so I did read other works by Capote.

My all-time favorite is A Christmas Memory, a poignant short story about a seven-year old boy and his elderly aunt, making fruit cakes to give away.

Curtis has this story in stand-alone volumes, but also in The Complete Stories of Truman Capote and in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Short Stories.

By the way, be sure to drop by the Bestseller Express (7-day) shelf after July 14, as Curtis should have lots of copies of Go Set a Watchman!

— Pamela Bobker

book cover

Book review for the CSA cookbook by Linda Ly

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

the-csa-cookbook-2There was a fascinating article in the source section of the Maine Sunday telegram called “a farmer in Rockport turns vegetables into high fashion”.

She essentially plays with her food, by designing it to be worn, rather than eating it. It was such a fascinating idea!

I had never thought of wearing my food, but I have spent lots of time thinking about how to prepare my food, especially when I run into a food that I’m not familiar with.

This year I agreed to split a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share with my son, and in that share, there are vegetables I don’t know how to cook, including Kohlrabi.

I turned to a new cookbook in the Curtis Library collection, called, “The CSA Cookbook : no-waste recipes for cooking your way through a community supported agriculture box, farmer’s market, or backyard bounty” by Linda Ly.

There is a wonderful recipe for Kohlrabi home fries, so now I know at least one way to prepare Kohlrabi, but this cookbook goes much further by using a vegetable from the head to the toe.

For example, the recipe for Beetza Beetza, (beet pizza), you use the entire beet by first incorporating a layer of beet leaves and then topping it with the roasted beets, and voila!, you’ve used the entire vegetable!

Remember, play with your food!

— Paula Tefft

You will have so many why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments as you cook your way through this inspired book. Linda translates the nose-to-tail ethos into garden speak so well that the only thing to go hungry will be your compost pile.
— Ian Knauer, author of The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food

This is a must-have book for home cooks who prepare and serve fresh, healthy food raised in healthy soil. Linda’s enticing recipes use every part of a beet or broccoli or leek to provide the rich garden experience we all want.
— Joanne Neft, author of The Art of Real Food

Review: Vaughn Hardacker’s “Sniper”

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Novel-CoverIn Vaughn Hardacker’s thriller, “Sniper”, someone has gunned down four people on the Boston Common and Boston homicide detective Mike Houston and his partner Anne Bouchard are assigned to the case.

Houston a former U.S. Marine scout and sniper can see similarities in the crime scene and the training he had as a marine.

When the sniper strikes again the similarities are confirmed but this time the killing brings with it a more personal note for Mike.

People that Houston knows and has close ties to are being killed.

The sniper has even called to let Mike know that the killings ARE personal and that Houston will eventually be the target.

The final confrontation becomes a deadly sniper to sniper showdown on a remote lake in Maine.

“From its initial horrific crime to its hold-your-breath climax, Sniper is a full-throttle thriller. Hardacker has written a page-turner that feels authentic both technically and in its very human cast of characters. Fans of Stephen Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger won’t want to miss this outstanding debut!”
—Steve Ulfelder, Edgar-nominated author of Shotgun Lullaby

“Tense, taut, and genuinely chilling. Hardacker instills this disturbingly sinister tale of vengeance and terror with true Boston heart and authenticity.” —Hank Phillippi Ryan; Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark award–winning author of The Wrong Girl

Just Added to the Bestseller Express…

Friday, May 15th, 2015


American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal by Taya Kyle

And the Good News is…Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side by Dana Perino

Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief and Manipulation by Melissa Rivers

A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News about Food, with Wisdom and Advice on Diets, Food Safety, GMOs, Farming and More by Mark Bittman

Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams and Drugs with the Grateful Dead by Bill Kreutzmann

Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope by Tom Brokaw


Cash Landing by James Grippando

The Forgotten Room by Lincoln Child

The Ghost Fields: A Ruth Galloway mystery by Elly Griffiths

The Green Road by Anne Enright

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Make Something Up by Chuck Palahniuk

Radiant Angel by Nelson DeMille

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Sponsored by Curtis Friends, Bestseller Express titles are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be checked out for 7 days.

Exclusively for Curtis cardholders, they cannot be reserved or renewed so you’ll have the best access to new titles, but you will have to read fast.

The Bestseller Express books are located in the New Books Room, across from the Lending Services desk.

Click on titles to check current availability and then come in to the library today!

Ken Gloss, Brattle Book Shop – Wednesday, June 17, 6 pm

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

GlossKenneth Gloss, proprietor of the internationally known Brattle Book Shop in Boston’s Downtown Crossing section, will give a free and open talk Wednesday, June 17 at 6:00 P.M. on the value of old and rare books.

Ken, who is also a frequent guest appraiser on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, will talk in part about the history of his historic bookshop (, which goes back to around 1825. He is the second-generation owner.

Ken will talk about and show some of his favorite finds and describe some of the joys of the “hunt,” as well as explain what makes a book go up in value. He has many fascinating anecdotes to share as well as guidelines for what to look for when starting a collection. There is also a Q&A session before the conclusion of his talk.

Following the talk and question-and-answer session, he will give free verbal appraisals of all books that attendees have brought with them or will do so at his shop in Boston.

brattleThe Brattle Book Shop is one of America’s oldest and largest antiquarian bookstores. 2015 is the 66th year of Gloss family ownership.

Kenneth Gloss succeeded his late father, George Gloss, a well-known figure both in Boston and national antiquarian circles.

He had worked in the store since childhood and chose to go into the book business rather than pursue a doctorate in chemistry.

He became the sole proprietor upon his father’s death several years ago.

“I found that books were in my blood and that I would never be really happy if I abandoned the business.”

Among the many organizations in which Kenneth Gloss is a member are:

  • the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America
  • the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers
  • the New England Antiquarian Booksellers of America
  • the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers Association
  • the Committee for the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair
  • and the Boston Society

He also is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society as well as serving on the Board of Overseers of the USS Constitution Museum.

roadshow_ss_frostbook2The Brattle Book Shop is proud to have been a contributor to the WGBH Annual Auction each year that the station has held this fund drive.

Ken has appeared as a guest appraiser on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow numerous times over the years and has been a popular guest on WBZ Radio as well as other radio, TV, and cable stations numerous times. His bylined articles continue to appear in various antique journals and in print and online consumer publications.

The Brattle Book Shop is also the recipient of several “Best of Boston” awards in the categories of Best Book Shop or Best Antiquarian Book Shop.

In addition, it has been included in a list as one of North America’s best bookstores.

For further information about this talk and more about book-collecting, appraisals and future free and open talks, please visit their website at or call them toll-free at 800-447-9595.

Kathy Lynn Emerson’s mystery, “Face Down o’er the border”

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

face downThe year is 1577 in Kathy Lynn Emerson’s mystery, “Face Down o’er the border”.

Susanna, Lady Appleton, gentlewoman and herbalist receives word that her dear friend and sister-in-law, Catherine Lady Glenelg has been accused of murdering her mother-in-law in Scotland.

Susanna must travel to Scotland to clear her friends name and discover who the real murderer is.

Unfortunately Scotland’s political unrest and the country’s mistrust of anyone from south of the border proves a problem for Susanna.

Hampering Susanna’s efforts are the fact that Catherine has disappeared with a notorious spy and Catherine’s son has been commanded to appear at the royal palace to become the reluctant schoolfellow of the young king.

Editorial Reviews

Emerson’s engrossing 16th-century mystery (her 11th, after 2006’s Face Down Beside St. Anne’s Well) plunges readers into the middle of Scottish domestic drama and political intrigue from the first page. — Vividly realized strong female characters, well-paced plot, seamless dialogue and intriguing historical details add up to a compelling period tale.

Mystery Review – "Live free or Die"

Friday, April 10th, 2015

live free or dieIn Jessie Crockett’s award winning mystery , “Live free or Die”, Gwen Fifield, Winslow Falls, New Hampshire’s volunteer fire chief, thinks life is exceptionally good until an arsonist decides to change that.

Luckily no one had been hurt until the latest fire at the Winslow Falls museum.

When an autopsy is performed it’s discovered that the museum’s curator didn’t die in the fire but had been murdered before the fire was set.

Having no experience investigating fires Gwen is more than willing to hand the case over to the state fire marshal, Hugh Larsen.

Because he’s an outsider, Hugh asks Gwen for her help in questioning the townspeople who seem to want to blame a new immigrant family.

Finding an artifact from the museum in their possession makes the case against them even stronger.

On further investigation, it’s found that the family is innocent and the killer is one of their own.


“I read sometimes 1 book a day. I never do reviews on Amazon.
However I loved this book and really want to plug it for the author. (Whom I have never heard of, or met) It had wicked sharp humor, razor sharp sarcasm, it was a little chickish (long on love interest but not overly so. I am a guy so take that in to account)”.

“Live Free or Die” is fun. Like an episode of “Murder She Wrote,” suspects and red herrings abound. There are strange clues; the mysterious visit of a former US president; a connection to the Know Nothing Party; old stamps. Jessie’s strength is clearly in plotting – I never knew what was going to happen next, yet the intricate plot hung together like a sturdy old afghan. Aside from Gwen and Hugh, and maybe Gwen’s curvaceous, meddling sister, the small town characters were more Mayberry than Fargo. That might or might not float your boat. But there were enough scenes of horror, romance and intrigue to offset these comic touches”.

Ethel didn’t douse her cereal with the milk of human kindness
— Live Free or Die by Jessie Crockett

Mystery Review: Janet Evanovich’s “Explosive 18”

Friday, March 13th, 2015

explosive 18In Janet Evanovich’s, “Explosive 18”, Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is on its normal course, with mayhem, murder, good guys and definitely some bad guys.

The difference this time is that the murder has an international twist to it.

Returning from her nightmare Hawaiian vacation Stephanie learns that her seatmate on the plane has been murdered in Los Angles and an assorted collection of thugs, psychos and the FBI are looking for a photograph the dead man was supposedly carrying.

Everyone thinks Stephanie has the photograph, Stephanie has seen it, but no longer has it.

Now she’s become a target. If that’s not enough, the bonds bus, Vinnie’s temporary office, goes up in smoke, Lula falls in love with one of the skip clients, Joyce Barnhardt moves in with Stephanie, Stephanie can’t decide between Morelli and Ranger, and everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii, “it’s complicated”, is the only response Stephanie will give.

“Lucille must have fed him a Vallium smoothie this morning.”
― Janet Evanovich, Explosive Eighteen

Book Review: What The Dead Know

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

what the dead knowIn award winning author Laura Lippman’s stand-alone mystery, What the dead know, a middle-aged woman is involved in an accident on the Baltimore Beltway and flees the scene.

Later she is picked up wandering on the shoulder of the Interstate.

In the hospital the woman refuses to reveal her name but claims that she is Heather Bethany one of two sisters who disappeared from a shopping mall 30 years ago.

For years Heather, if she is Heather, has been living under different assumed names.

Why has she decided to reveal herself?

And why does every clue Heather gives the police wind up in a dead-end — an incoherent dying man, a house that is no longer there and a missing grave.

With her usual skill Laura Lippman unravels the layers of Heather’s past until the reader is finally told what really happened to Heather and Sunny on that fateful day 30 years ago.

Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Edgar-winner Lippman, author of the Tess Monaghan mystery series (No Good Deeds, etc.), shows she’s as good as Peter Abrahams and other A-list thriller writers with this outstanding stand-alone.

Deftly moving between past and present, Lippman presents the last day both sisters, Sunny and Heather, were seen alive from a variety of perspectives.

Subtle clues point to the surprising but plausible solution of the crime and the identity of the mystery woman.

School Library Journal: The narrative threads unravel into the various accounts of that Saturday’s events, the aftermath of the disappearance, the investigation, and Heather’s own increasingly desperate attempts to evade further disclosure.

This novel is a page-turner. Tantalizing revelations are dropped at chapter ends before veering into another part of the narrative, back and forth in time.

Characters are well defined and varied, each with a different perspective on the nature of grief. Ultimately, after all of the half-truths and deceptions are played out, unexpected but moving forgiveness wins out.–Jenny Gasset, Orange County Public Library, CA

There are, of course, an infinite number of places where one is not, yet only one place where one actually is.
— Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know

Mystery Review – “A Test of Wills”

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

todd-a_test_of_willsIn Charles Todd’s first mystery, A TEST OF WILLS, set in 1919 England Inspector Ian Rutledge is returning from the Great War suffering from shell shock.

Rutledge is also carrying the heavy burden of being forced to have a young Scot executed for refusing to fight.

Hoping to salvage his sanity Rutledge returns to Scotland Yard.

But back on the job a jealous colleague has discovered Inspector Rutledge’s secret and sets the wheels in motion for him to be assigned to a case that will ultimately spell disaster for him no matter how it turns out.

A retired military office in Warwickshire has been murdered and the main suspect is a decorated war hero who is also a friend of the Prince of Wales.

Despite the demons in his head Rutledge goes about his investigation leaving no one immune to his scrutiny. Rutledge’s main problem appears to be that his prime witness is a war ravaged ex-soldier and who Rutledge sees as himself if he ever lost control.

A Test of Wills is not only a unique psychological suspense/mystery but it has a vivid sense of atmosphere.

Click here for availability.

Todd has written a first novel that speaks out, urgently and compassionately, for a long-dead generation….A meticulously wrought puzzle.”
—New York Times Book Review

An intricately plotted mystery. With this remarkable debut, Charles Todd breaks new ground in the historical crime novel.
—Peter Lovesey, author of The Circle

You’re going to love Todd.
—Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly

Euphoria! Now on the Bestseller Express shelf!

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

euhphoriaThe new book by Lily King is now available on the Bestseller Express.

Named one of the New York Times 10 best books of 2014, Euphoria gives a fictional account of a field trip made by anthropologist Margaret Mead to New Guinea in 1933.

King has taken the known details of that event and created this exquisite novel about the rewards and disappointments of intellectual ambition and physical desire.

This is a gem of a book at 266 pages, so you know you can read it in one week!

Click here for current availability.

Other recently added titles:

Sponsored by Curtis Friends, Bestseller Express titles are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be checked out for 7 days.

Exclusively for Curtis cardholders, they cannot be reserved or renewed so you’ll have the best access to new titles, but you will have to read fast.

The Bestseller Express books are located in the New Books Room, across from the Lending Services Desk.

Click on titles to check current availability and then come in to the library today!

The truth you find will always be replaced by someone else’s.
― Lily King, Euphoria

January 2015 Mystery Review

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

without warning coverMaine author David Rosenfelt who is most noted for his Andy Carpenter mysteries and non-fiction books about dogs notably, “Dogtripping” also writes standalone mysteries. “Without warning” David’s latest standalone deals with a long ago murder in Wilton, Maine.

Katie Sandford’s husband was convicted of the murder of Jenny Robbins the wife of the Wilton chief of police, and who subsequently died in prison. Katie, the editor of the local newspaper, and Jake Robbins, Wilton’s police chief, have been working to put life back together after the tragedy but that may be coming to an end with the aftermath of a hurricane.

Burying a time capsule every 50 years has become a tradition in Wilton but the hurricane has unearthed the latest capsule. Supervising the opening of the capsule falls to Katie and Chief Robbins but they are not prepared for what they find inside. Someone predicted Jenny’s death and there are more predictions that are still happening even after Katie’s husband’s death. Was Katie’s husband innocent after all? Together Katie and Jake attempt to prevent the next predictions from coming true but the mind games that are being played have no rules and have life and death consequences.

“The novel steps into Michael Connelly ground as Robbins learns that the savage murders he’s investigating are about him. The cop and reader struggle to figure out why. So effective is this approach that it’s almost disappointing when the air of mystery evaporates as the plot becomes clear. The novel is a tad too long, and Rosenfelt’s most engaging quality—a sense of humor in the face of growing menace—sometimes feels a bit inappropriate. Still, this is highly recommended for readers craving that elusive “something different.” –Don Crinklaw

“Riveting.”—Publishers Weekly

“Relentless.”—RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

“Creepy.” “Edgy” “Shuddery” What more could anyone want?”—Booklist

New Titles on the Bestseller Express! 1/21/15

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Boston Girl by Anita Diamant: From the Bestselling author of The Red Tent comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: In the vein of Gone Girl, this dark psychological thriller is fast-paced and features some very unreliable narrators.

Deep Down Dark: The untold stories of 33 men buried in a Chilean mine, and the miracle that set them free by Hector Tobar: This gripping account provides an informative edge-of-the seat reading experience about the historic disaster and rescue operation.

The Wild Truth: The untold story of sibling survival by Carine McCandless: The sister of Chris McCandless, whose story was told in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, provides the missing pieces to his story.

Paying Guests by Sarah Waters: Readers will keep turning the pages to see just how tense things can get, and how far fear and passion can push someone.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion: Sequel to the popular Rosie Project.

Sponsored by Curtis Friends, Bestseller Express titles are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be checked out for 7 days.

Exclusively for Curtis cardholders, they cannot be reserved or renewed so you’ll have the best access to new titles, but you will have to read fast.

The Bestseller Express books are located in the New Books Room, across from the Lending Services desk.

Click on titles to check current availability and then come in to the library today!

Downton Abbey Selected Resources for Historical, Cultural, and Social Links

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Behind the Scenes

book-cover-1Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey: The Official Backstage Pass to the Set, the Actors, and the Drama by Emma Rowley

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes

The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes

Biographies and Memoirs

Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey by Margaret Powell

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon
Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey
by the Countess of Carnarvon

Servants’ Hall: A Real Upstairs, Downstairs Romance by Margaret Powell

The Bolter by Frances Osborne

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary Lovell


Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge

The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy by David Cannadine

The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age by Juliet Nicolson

The Real Life Downton Abbey by Jacky Hyams

The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret by Catherine Bailey

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl

Twentieth-Century Castles in Britain by Amicia De Moubray

Upstairs & Downstairs: An Illustrated Guide to the Real World of Downton Abbey by Sarah Warwick



Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey’s Elegant Meals by Larry Edwards

The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea by Helen Simpson

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines

Adult Fiction: Classics

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Howard’s End by E. M. Forster

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

book cover 5

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Adult Fiction: General

American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

Ashenden by Elizabeth Wilhide

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke

Snobs by Julian Fellowes

Summerset Abbey by T. J. Brown

The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt

The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn

The New Countess by Fay Weldon

The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax


DVD cover manor houseDownton Abbey

Gosford Park

Howards End

Manor House

Secrets of Highclere Castle

The Age of Innocence

The Edwardians

The House of Mirth

The Remains of the Day


Masterpiece: Downton Abbey


Wikipedia: Downton Abbey

Internet Movie Database: Downton Abbey

Book Displays

Friday, December 19th, 2014

IMG_0497CHIP – Diet & Weight Loss

Cornerstones of Science – Inventors & Inventions (which ties in with this month’s Collaboratory theme)

Nonfiction: Unamerican Activity (poetry by non-Americans)

Genre: Southern Fiction

If you like… John Sandford

If you like… Sophie Kinsella

If you like… Downton Abbey

Fiction: Don’t Judge a book by its Movie (books made into movies)

Mystery: I may be old but I ain’t dead yet

Attention Curtis Patrons: looking for something new to read?

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

These titles were recently added to the Bestseller Express collection:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

What I know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown

Deadline by John Sandford

Private India: City on Fire by James Patterson

Sponsored by Curtis Friends, Bestseller Express titles are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be checked out for 7 days.

Exclusively for Curtis cardholders, they cannot be reserved or renewed so you’ll have the best access to new titles, but you will have to read fast.

The Bestseller Express books are located in the New Books Room, across from the Lending Services desk.

Click on titles to check current availability and then come in to the library today!

Book Review: “The Singing of the Dead”

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

singing of the deadDirty tricks abound in Dana Stabenow’s, “The Singing of the Dead”, the 11th in the Kate Shagak series. Kate Shugak, an Aleutian private investigator living in a generic national park in Alaska is hired to act as a security expert by a Native American woman, Anne Gordaoff, who is running for the Alaskan state senate. Kate needs to protect Anne but also find out who has been sending the candidate anonymous threats.

Anne is doing her political glad handing, her campaign manager will stop at nothing to get her elected, Anne’s husband is finding other ways to interact with the voters, her campaign researcher is finding dirt on Anne as well as her opponent, and her opponent has planted a mole in Anne’s campaign.

Still recovering from a case that went very wrong, killing her boyfriend and leaving Kate with a horrible scar, Kate would rather be anywhere else. But before Kate can get started the campaign researcher is murdered and Kate learns that the researcher was in possession of damning information about both candidates’ pasts. While investigating the murder Kate finds she needs to dig into the past for some answers and the grisly murder of a “good-time girl’ during the Gold Rush days of 1915. Could this unsolved case have a bearing on a present day psychotic killer?

If “The Singing of the Dead”, the 11th novel in the Kate Shugak series, is your first introduction to Kate and the vast, unforgiving corner of Alaska she calls home, it will most likely send you scrambling for installments one through 10. If you’re already a confirmed Shugak fan, it will have you waiting impatiently for number 12. –Kelly Flynn

The novel shifts effortlessly between the present and the past, tracing the career of one of the state’s most notorious “good time girls” from the gold mining era. The author paints a strong, striking picture of the tough life in Alaska 100 years ago and the narrow choice offered women housekeeper or whore. With well-drawn characters, splendid scenery and an insider’s knowledge of Alaskan history and politics, this fine novel ranks as one of Stabenow’s best. Publishers Weekly

Out of This World Science Fiction

Monday, November 17th, 2014

New Science Fiction titles cover a variety of SF sub-genres. Find them on the display wall across from Fiction.

(Click each title to check for availability.)
book cover

Space Opera

Ancillary Justice (2013) and Ancillary Sword (2014) by Ann Leckie, the first two books in the Imperial Radch series.

Now confined to a mortal body cobbled together from interchangeable human parts as the entity called “Breq,” the Artificial Intelligence must survive as an ancillary humanoid being in a galactic empire ruled by an oppressive government — without disobeying the law that forbids AIs from harming their creators.


a-vision-of-fire A Vision of Fire (2014) by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin
The first novel from iconic “X-Files” star Gillian Anderson and New York Times bestselling author Jeff Rovin is a science fiction thriller of epic proportions.

Child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara begins treating an ambassador’s daughter, who starts having violent visions and speaking in tongues right before children throughout the world demonstrate similar mystical symptoms.

The Peripheral (2014) by William Gibson
In alternating chapters, Gibson tells the stories of Flynne Fisher, master gamer in the near future, and Wilf Netherton, London publicist in a more distant future. When the self-centered but well-meaning Wilf inadvertently interferes with Flynne’s time line, Flynne must, via a flesh-and-blood avatar called a peripheral, join Wilf in his time to set things right.


clock-work-daggerClockwork Dagger (2014) by Beth Cato
Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences.

SF Mystery

The Last Policeman Trilogy: The Last Policeman (2012), Countdown City (2013) and World of Trouble (2014) by Ben H. Winters.
When the Earth is doomed by an imminent and unavoidable asteroid collision, New Hampshire homicide detective Hank Palace considers the worth of his job in a world destined to end in six months and investigates a suspicious suicide that nobody else cares about.

captain smith

Humorous SF

Chronicles of Isambard Smith, the lighthearted adventures of Isambard Smith, plucked from a desk job to save the 25th-Century British Space Empire.

The first is Space Captain Smith (2008), followed by God Emperor of Didcot (2009), and Wrath of the Lemming Men (2010).

Review of “China Trade” by S.J. Rozan

Friday, August 29th, 2014

China-Trade“China Trade” is set in New York’s Chinatown.

Lydia Chin, a Chinese American detective, has been hired by the Chinatown Museum to quietly find some precious stolen porcelain.

With her sometime partner, Bill Smith, Lydia follows a trail of clues that send her from high-end art dealers into the world of Chinese gangs.

The case becomes even more complex when the case takes them outside of Chinatown and a killer is set on the loose.

Mysteries have had other Chinese detectives but this mystery novel is the first to feature a Chinese American female detective.

Rozan shows a knack for characterizing Chinatown’s denizens, apothecaries, shops and food.” –“Publishers Weekly”

“Rozan’s Chinatown setting has the ring of authenticity, and Lydia is a true original. A very promising start to what shapes up as a top-flight series.”–“Booklist”

S. J. Rozan is the author of many critically acclaimed novels and has won most of crime fiction’s greatest honors, including the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Macavity, and Nero Awards. She lives in New York.

— Carol Briggs

Review of “Maisie Dobbs: The Mapping of Love and Death” by Jacqueline Winspear

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

mapping-of-love-and-death-final-1If historical mystery is what you are interested in you may want to read the Maisie Dobbs‘ series by Jacqueline Winspear.

The year is 1914 in the opening of book 7 of the Maisie Dobbs series, “The Mapping of Love and Death”. Michael Clifton, a cartographer, is in California mapping land that he has just purchased, certain that oil lies underneath the soil.

On Michael‘s return to his home in Boston he learns that war has been declared in Europe.

Michael feels it‘s his duty to help and because his father is an expatriate Englishman Michael is allowed to join the British army.

Three years after joining the army Michael is declared missing in action.

We fast forward to 1932. Maisie Dobbs, a London psychologist and investigator, is visited by Michael‘s parents who have recently learned that their son‘s remains have been found in France.

They want Maisie to find the unknown nurse who wrote the love letters that were found among Michael‘s belongings.

Unbeknownst to them Michael‘s autopsy will give Maisie another task.

It is discovered that Michael Clifton was murdered.

Now she must not only find the unknown nurse but also find out who murdered Michael Clifton 18 years ago.

During her investigation Maisie exposes a web of intrigue and violence that threatens to ensnare Michael‘s family as well as herself.

Maisie must not only find a killer but she must also face the impending loss of her mentor, Maurice Blanche, and the unsettling awareness that she is once again falling in love.

Following the critically acclaimed bestseller Among the Mad, The Mapping of Love and Death delivers the most gripping and satisfying chapter yet in the life of Maisie Dobbs.

— Carol Briggs

Review of “Through the Evil Days” by Julia Spencer Fleming

Monday, August 25th, 2014

evil-days-new-lgIn Julia Spencer Fleming’s latest New York Times bestseller, "Through the evil days," Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a fire that soon turns into something just a bit more.

The couple found in the ashes has been shot execution style and a young girl who was staying with them has been kidnapped.

Russ doesn’t need a double homicide right now as he is not dealing well with his impending fatherhood.

Added to that, Clare, who is 5 ½ months pregnant, is not happy that Russ has decided they will spend their honeymoon week at a remote cabin at an Adirondack lake ice-fishing.

There is dissension at St. Alban’s church because of Clare’s 5 ½ month pregnancy and 2 ½ month marriage.

Because of Clare’s unpriestly actions she is not sure if the bishop will decide on a simple scolding, censure, or permanent suspension after his investigation.

She is also worried what affect her previous alcohol and drug use will have on their unborn child.
Hadley Knox is having a terrible January as well.

Her on-again off-again boyfriend, Officer Kevin Flynn has been offered a job at the Syracuse Police Department and he has 7 days to make his decision.

Not only that, Hadley’s ex-husband is in town threatening to take custody of their children if she doesn’t give him the money he wants.

Add to all this, a raging January blizzard. As with Ms Spencer-Fleming’s other mysteries in the series, this is no walk through the woods in Miller’s Kill, New York.

Booklist (starred review) — This novel….is among the best in the series, combining steady action with complex, sympathetic characters and an immersive setting

“It’s amazing Spencer-Fleming manages to carry off a layered plot that opens with an arson, a double homicide and a kidnapping and expands into a broader picture of the drug use, domestic violence and desolation squeezing the life out of this small town.” —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

— Carol Briggs

Review of “The Thin Woman” by Dorothy Cannell

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

thin woman“The Thin Woman” is Dorothy Cannell’s first adventure with Ellie Simons, an overweight and unmarried interior designer.

Ellie has been invited to a family reunion at her uncle Merlin’s mansion.

To ease her pride Ellie hires an escort, Bentley T. Haskell, a paid escort and writer of erotica, to pose as her fiancé for the weekend. 

All goes well until Uncle Merlin dies and leaves his mansion to the happy couple.

The stipulation being that Ellie lose 63 pounds, Ben is to write a book that doesn’t have a bit of smut in it and they have to find the treasure hidden on Uncle Merlin’s estate. 

Both Ellie and Ben are up to the challenge until they begin to receive threatening phone calls, malicious visitors in the night and clues to a possible murder.
“Cannell makes a delicious debut; discriminatory whodunit fans will want more of her inventions”.
— Publishers Weekly
“A likeable debut — combining fairy tale romance, treasure hunts, and a homicidal mania”. — Kirkus

— Carol Briggs

Review of “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke

Monday, August 18th, 2014

chocolate chip murder mystery“Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder,” is the first book in Joanne Fluke’s very enjoyable Hannah Swensen mystery series.

Hannah Swensen the owner of The Cookie Jar, a very popular bakery in Lake Eden Minnesota, finds the most punctual milkman in Lake Eden murdered in his truck behind her bakery.

Ron had been shot in the chest and Hannah’s famous Chocolate Chip Crunches are scattered all over the floor of the truck and one cookie is still clutched in Ron’s hand.

Hannah decides that in order to clear her cookies reputation she’ll have to find out who killed Ron.

Is the murderer the high school football coach whose wife has been making the rounds with the milkman, or could it be Max Turner, owner of the Cozy Cow Dairy, who may have a secret he wasn’t willing to share with Ron?

Maybe it was the mysterious Mr. Harris who seemed so interested in the property next to the dairy and then disappeared?

And why has Benton Woodley returned to Lake Eden?

Whoever it may be, Hannah better watch her back or she could be the next victim.

Hannah Swensen mysteries are filled with humor, an assortment of nuts including some very human ones and some delicious cookie recipes.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY — “minor lapses in a story satisfyingly packed with plot twists and red herrings. The Pecan Chews recipe is especially recommended.”

LIBRARY JOURNAL — “This mystery is pleasant and easy to take.”

— Carol Briggs-

Review of Michael Connelly’s novel, “The DROP”

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

dropIn Michael Connelly’s novel, “The DROP”, Harry Bosch, a detective in the Open-Unsolved case division, learns that the extension on his DROP, Deferred Retirement Option Plan, has been approved and he has three more years before he must retire from the LAPD. Because Harry’s time at the LAPD is running out he wants to investigate as many cases as they will give him.

In just one day Bosch is given two cases. The first case dates back to the 1989 rape and murder of a young woman. The problem is the DNA that was found matches a 29 year old convicted rapist who was only 8 years old when the crime was committed. Could this be possible, an 8 years old rapist-killer, or has the Regional Crime Lab made a horrible mistake.

The second case involves the death of George Irving, son of the police department and Harry’s worst enemy, Councilman Irvin Irving. Irving has demanded that Bosch investigate his son’s death. Harry is called to the Chateau Marmont, the scene of the incident, to investigate the death. Did George, jump, fall or was he pushed from the balcony of the hotel.

Councilman Irving is pressuring Harry for a quick answer but until all the evidence is fully examined any of the three scenarios are possible. While investigating both cases, Bosch discovers a serial killer who has hidden in plain sight for 30 years and a political scheme that reaches back into the dark history of the police department.

“Mr. Connelly, a former journalist, is a master of mixing realistic details of police work and courtroom procedure with the private feelings and personal lives of his protagonists, and of building suspense even as he evokes the somber poetry inherent in battling the dark side.” (Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal)

“Each of his books is so much more than the sum of its parts….Connelly writes true-to-life fiction about true crime. What makes his crime stories ring true is that they’re never really over.” (Janet Maslin, New York Times)

— Carol Briggs

2014 Maine Readers Choice Awards @ Curtis

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

The 2014 finalists for the Maine Readers' Choice Award have been announced:

Benediction by Kent Haruf

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Golem and the Jinni : A Novel by Helene Wecker

Transatlantic: a novel by Colum McCann

Voting will take place in September. (Details on how to vote for your favorite finalist will be posted on the Curtis Library website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.)

The winner will be announced in October.

Curtis Staff 2014 Summer Reading Picks

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Peggy Smith – Technical Assistant

My summer reads are The Kept – James Scott, Winter of the World – Ken Follett, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

Andrea Cronkite – Library Assistant

I recently finished “Wolves in the Land of Salmon” by David Moskowitz. I’m looking forward to reading new novels by two New England writers: “The Bone Orchard,” by Mainer Paul Doiron, and “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands,” by Vermonter Chris Bohjalian.

Pamela Bobker – Adult Services Librarian

This summer, I plan to read all four of the Maine Reader’s Choice finalists, starting with TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. I will also read The Funeral Makers by Maine author Cathie Pelletier for my book group, and for fun, I hope to read something creepy by Ruth Rendell!

Hanne – Library Assistant

Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture
by Dana Goodyear

Delicious! By Ruth Reichl

Mediterranean summer : a season on France’s Cote d’Azur and Italy’s Costa Bella / David Shalleck

Pass the polenta : and other writings from the kitchen / Teresa Lust.

Paula Tefft – Library Assistant

I just finished for the Monday Afternoon Book Group, God’s hotel: a doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine by Victoria Sweet. I’m listening to Ruth Reichl’s Delicious: A Novel. I’m currently reading Relish: my life in the Kitchen ( a graphic novel) by Lucy Knisley, and also, The other typist by Suzanne Rindell. Eleanor Lincoln Morse, An Unexpected forest: a novel.

Joanne Pennington – Technical Assistant

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman, Dance of the Reptiles by Carl Hiaasen, Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman, The Painter by Peter Heller, The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham, The White Lioness by Henning Mankell, Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman, The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg, Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

Michael Gorzka – Virtual Services Coordinator

The Girl on the Stairs by Barry Ernest, Getting Things Done by David Allen

Carol Briggs – Library Assistant

The Thin Woman and Down the Garden Path by Dorothy Cannell one of our Fall 2014 visiting mystery authors; Grace: (eventually) an audiobook by Anne Lamott; A street cat named Bob and how he saved my life by James Bowen; and Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery.

Kate Wing – Substitute Librarian

Wonder — RJ Palacio
The Forgotten Garden — Kate Morton
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child — Bob Spitz
Visit Sunny Chernobyl — Andrew Blackwell
Gift from the Sea — Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Defending Jacob — William Landay

Paul Dostie – Information Services Librarian

Lovers at the Chameleon Club: Paris 1932 by Francine Prose; Frog Music by Emma Donoghue; A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger and Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.

The Biography neighborhood is now in place!

Friday, January 31st, 2014

biography neighborhood-shelvesPreviously, biographies were interfiled with the subject/field of the biographee. For example, biographies of scientists were in the 500s with all of the science books.

What we’ve done is pull out all of the biographies and autobiographies and shelved them together and still in Dewey Decimal order. This new Biography neighborhood is shelved near the reference desk on the second floor.

What: biographies and autobiographies. Usually not memoirs, which cover only a small portion of a person’s life.

Where: 2nd floor, near reference desk. Look for signs stating “Biography”

How to find a biography: Biographies are still in Dewey Decimal order, just placed in a more browsable collection. When you search for an item in the catalog, the call number will be preceded by "Biography."

Why: We are striving to create a more user-friendly, browsable collection. For years, Curtis library members have been asking us for a biography section. We listened! We want to make our collections easy to find and irresistible to browse.

Need Help?

Just ask a Curtis Librarian!

Curtis Staff Picks for The Best Books of 2013

Thursday, December 26th, 2013


Pam Jenkins – Youth Services Manager

Adult book – And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Kids’ book – fiction – Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Kids’ book – nonfiction – Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd

Cheer Allen – Technical Assistant

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman
A young girl, Jade, and her father immigrate to America from China in 1923. Jade does not realize that her father had made plans for her life in this new country but she is determined to change what her life would have been like had she remained in China and under her father’s rule.

Chris Eames – Lending Services Manager

Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye by Zac Unger. It’s a non-fiction, eco- adventure based on a climate change research trip to the town of Churchill, Manitoba with his family (wife and 3 small children) to view the polar bears. Quite funny. Highly entertaining while also presenting a different view of the polar bear plight!

Pamela Bobker – Volunteer Services Coordinator

The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1 by Jasper Fforde (ages 10-14years)

ruth rendallAnd The St. Zita’s Society by Ruth Rendell

Joanne Pennington – Technical Assistant

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Paul Dostie – Librarian

My favorite for this year is The Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon. It is the story of a South Korean held as POW in North Korea who emigrates to Brazil on his release. Yoon is a short story writer and this is his first novel. The writing has a poetic grace and he treats his topic with a humanity that I can only hope to emulate.

Vicki Stevens – Lending Services Manager

There are so many good ones….maybe Orphan Train by Chistina Baker Kline and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt.


Paula Tefft – Technical Assistant

I am now reading The Rosie project by Graeme Simsion – it’s proving to be good!

Michael Heath – Operations Manager

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (mystery)

Carol Briggs – Technical Assistant

I think Louise Penny’s How the Light Gets In was my favorite new book this year.

David Delois – Bookkeeper

Wild Tales by Graham Nash


Michael Gorzka – Virtual Services Coordinator

Survivor’s Guilt: The Secret Service and the Failure to Protect President Kennedy by Vincent Michael Palamara

Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit by Joseph McBride

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt.

What were your favorite books that came out in 2013?

Post your picks for the best books of 2013 on the Library’s Facebook page or email them to

Just Desserts Mystery Discussion Group – Tuesday, January 7, 6:30pm

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Donna LeonOn Tuesday, January 7th, the Just Desserts Mystery Discussion Group will convene to discuss the Commissario Guido Brunetti series by Donna Leon.

All of you mystery aficionados and sweet course enthusiasts are cordially invited to attend!

Desserts are potluck-style so you are welcome to bring something to share.

Date and time: Tuesday, January 7th, from 6:30 PM to 7:45 PM

Location: 2nd Floor Seminar Room (near the Reference Desk)

Sarah Brown | 725-5242 ext. 229 |

Schedule and reading list: Just Desserts Discussion Group

Though he did not believe, he was not untouched by the magic of belief …
— Donna Leon, Death and Judgment

Just Desserts Mystery Discussion Group – Tuesday, December 3, 6:30pm

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

09-Michael-ConnellyOn December 3rd, the Just Desserts Mystery Discussion Group will convene to discuss the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly.

All of you mystery aficionados and sweet course enthusiasts are cordially invited to attend!

Desserts are potluck-style so you are welcome to bring something to share.

Date and time: Tuesday, December 3rd, from 6:30 PM to 7:45 PM

Location: 2nd Floor Seminar Room (near the Reference Desk)

Sarah Brown | 725-5242 ext. 229 |

Schedule and reading list: Just Desserts Discussion Group

Everybody counts or nobody counts
— Michael Connelly

Monday Afternoon Book Group – December 2, 1:00 pm

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

book coverOn Monday, December 2nd, the Monday Afternoon Book Group will meet to discuss When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine by Monica Wood.

Anybody who would like to discuss this "sharp, stunning portrait of a family's grief and healing" is cordially invited to join us.

Host: Paula Tefft

Date: Monday, December 2nd

Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Location: 2nd Floor Seminar Room (near the Reference Desk)

Monday Afternoon Book Group 2013 – 2014 Reading List

On her own terms, wry and empathetic, Wood locates the melodies in the aftershock of sudden loss.
― Boston Globe

Meet the Author – Katherine Hall Page, Tuesday, October 29, 7:00 PM

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Katherine Hall Page

Katherine Hall Page

Mystery author Katherine Hall Page will be at Curtis Library for a book talk and signing.

Page's award-winning series starring wife/mother/caterer Faith Sibley Fairchild features a charming blend of well-constructed plots, an entertaining, realistically quirky cast of characters, and well realized settings.

To these standard ingredients, Page deftly adds in a delectable blend of tart humor and an assortment of delicious recipes to create a winning combination.

The "Body in the Piazza," the twenty-first book in the series, takes readers to Italy where, along with pecorino, panna cotta, and Prosecco, it looks like murder and mayhem are also on the menu.

Refreshments will be provided by Bohemian Coffee House.

Books will be available for purchase courtesy of Gulf of Maine Books.

Date: Tuesday, October 29, 7:00 PM

Location: The Library’s Morrell Meeting Room

For more information: Contact Carol Briggs 725-5242 ext 212 |

“In my day you got married and spent one holiday with one set of in-laws and another with the others. None of this bonding business.”
— Katherine Hall Page

Drinking the Rain by Alix Kates Shulman

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

drinking rainPart memoir, part meditation on solitude, Drinking the Rain chronicles Alix Kates Shulman’s decade long journey of self-discovery. At fifty and facing a crumbling marriage, novelist Shulman (Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen) leaves the hustle and bustle of New York City and retreats to a small rustic cottage on an island off the coast of Maine. The cottage has no plumbing, power or telephone yet Shulman wants for nothing. As she forages for wild greens and shellfish among the tidal pools and sandy beaches, she discovers the joys of frugality, self-sufficiency and harmony with nature.

Yet, no man – or woman – is an island. As medical waste washes up on her beach and local fisherman combat the “red tide,” Shulman mourns the increasing toxicity of the environment and reflects on the interconnectedness of the world. And when her job as a writer and teacher takes her to Colorado, Arizona, New York City, and back again to her cottage in Maine, she struggles with how to stay true to her solitary self and to be connected to the world at the same time.

Like Thoreau, I believe that, “in wildness is the preservation of the world.” Shulman’s account of living in solitude on a Maine island spoke to me on a spiritual level.

Favorite quote: “To be whole requires one to be in oneself and the world at once.”

— Sarah Brown

Check availability of this title in Minerva or read about this title on Amazon.

Clammed Up – A Maine Mystery

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Summer has come to Barbara Ross’s latest mystery, “Clammed up”, and the Snowden Family Clambake Company is putting on their annual clambake. People come from near and far to Busman’s Harbor Maine to experience this authentic New England seafood. But there is something evil brewing this season. Someone has crashed a wedding party and the results are deadly. The best man’s corpse is found hanging from the grand staircase of the Snowden family mansion.
Julia Snowden was not expecting murder when she came home to help save the family business. With the State Police shutting down the event Julia has to put everything aside to get this murder solved or say good bye to the family business. The books also Includes Traditional Maine Clambake Recipes!
Some other mystery authors have reviewed “Clammed up”.

“A tasty whodunnit with a real Maine twist.” –Sarah Graves, author of A Bat in the Belfry

“If you haven’t been on a Maine clambake, Barbara Ross’s book is the next best thing…except for the murder.”–Sheila Connolly, New York Times bestselling author of Buried in a Bog

“If you like seafood and salty air, you’ll love Clammed Up. A tasty tale that will have readers clamoring for second helpings.” –Leslie Meier, author of Easter Bunny Murder

Meet the Author – Barbara Ross, Tuesday, October 15, 7:00 PM

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

barbara rossBarbara Ross, a member of Maine Crime Writers, will visit Curtis Memorial Library on October 15th at 7pm.

Take lobster, clams, and an ear of corn. Add one murder. Fold in a complex heroine, an assortment of colorful suspects, and a plot with lots of twists and turns.

Heat up on an island off the coast of Maine. The result? Clammed Up – a tasty treat, and first in a series of Maine Clambake Mysteries, from Boothbay Harbor author Barbara Ross.

"Deliciously atmospheric, delightfully suspenseful, divine!"states bestselling author Sarah Graves.

This author book talk and signing will begin at 7:00 pm in the library’s Morrell Meeting Room with refreshments provided by Bohemian Coffee House.

Books will be available for purchase courtesy of Gulf of Maine Books.

For more information contact Carol Briggs 725-5242 ext 212

“VERDICT This very satisfying series debut keeps a steady and confident pace from the beginning; readers can enjoy both figuring out the mystery and taking an armchair visit to coastal Maine.”
— Library Journal, 9/1/13

J.A. Hitchcock Book Talk – Tuesday, October 1, 7:00 PM

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

jayne3Jayne Hitchcock, non-fiction true crime writer and noted cybercrime and security expert, has written about the subject in Net Crimes and Misdemeanors.

In her newest book, True Crime Online: Shocking Stories of Scamming, Stalking, Murder and Mayhem, Jayne journeys into the darkest recesses of the internet to document the most depraved criminals imaginable, from bullies and stalkers to scam artists, sexual predators, and serial killers.

This author book talk and signing will begin at 7:00 pm in the library’s Morrell Meeting Room with refreshments provided by Bohemian Coffee House.

Books will be available for purchase courtesy of Gulf of Maine Books.

“J. A. Hitchcock uses her own experience as the victim of a cyberstalker to help others avoid the very real problems of online crime.”
— St. Petersburg Times

James Hayman Book Talk – Tuesday, September 17, 7:00 PM

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

James HaymanThe Fall 2013 Mystery Authors series continued Tuesday, September 17 at 7:00 PM.

When author James Hayman moved on from a full career as a creative advertising director in New York, he packed his bags for Maine. And he didn’t come alone.

With him came his fictional wise-cracking Portland, Maine homicide cop Mike McCabe. Hayman’s series of suspense thrillers featuring McCabe, and partner Maggie Savage, will keep you on the edge of your seat and reading long into the night.

Booklist Magazine praises his “twisting, action-filled plot,” and states that he “puts Portland, Maine firmly on the crime fiction map.”

This author book talk and signing began at 7:00 pm in the Morrell Meeting Room with refreshments provided by Bohemian Coffee House. Books were available for purchase courtesy of Gulf of Maine Books.

darkness first

Mystery Authors Series – FALL, 2013

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

hallie-ephronlOnce again, Curtis Friends, Sisters in Crime, and Maine Crime Writers are working together to bring some very talented mystery authors to Curtis Memorial Library on Tuesdays this fall.

Each talk begins at 7:00 pm in the Morrell Meeting Room with refreshments provided by Bohemian Coffee House. Books will be available for purchase courtesy of Gulf of Maine Books.

Highlight these special dates on your calendar and join us for some very pleasant evenings getting to know these wonderful authors!

September 10, Hallie Ephron: Hallie Ephron’s newest book, There Was an Old Woman, is garnering rave reviews and New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen calls it “an absolute must read.” Ephron’s earlier works include Never Tell a Lie, Come and Find Me, and Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel. She is also an award-winning book reviewer for the Boston Globe and recently wrote about growing up in Hollywood in a family of writers in the March, 2013 issue of “O” The Oprah Magazine.

Check out additional authors appearing in the Fall Mystery Series at CML!

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The Mermaids Singing

If you’re not afraid of the shocking or put off by British slang and are looking for books that will keep you awake at night, you should try Val McDermid’s Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series.  In the first book, “The Mermaids Singing”, a future killer discovers what he has been looking for at the museum of criminology.  The gruesome exhibits inspire him to even greater fantasies and desires.  After 4 men are found tortured and mutilated in Bradfield, a northern town in England, Tony Hill, a clinical psychologist, is brought in to profile the serial killer. A task force is put together among them are police detective, Carol Jordan.  What Tony Hill does not realize is that he has come in contact with the killer who Tony has dubbed, “Handy Andy”, and will again.  During the course of the book the reader is allowed to read the killers journal where the torture instruments are described as well as the emotional state of the killer during the murders.  The BBC produced a television series, 2002-2008, “Wire in the blood”, that brought the books to life. Enjoy – Carol Briggs

Check availability of this title in Minerva or read about this title at Amazon.

Learning to Swim by Sara Henry

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

learning to swim

“If I’d blinked, I would have missed it” is the opening line from “Learning to swim” by Sara J. Henry. Troy Chance didn’t blink but what did she see? Someone throwing trash off a passing Lake Champlain ferry, or a child sized doll or what she knew she saw, a small wide eyed human face.

Saving the child is just the beginning of a search for the answers, who would do this to a 6 year old child and why. Finding the answers and more would take her from the United States to Canada and back. This is the first book in the series.

– Carol Briggs

Check availability in Minerva or Read about this title at Amazon.

In the Garden With Nora Roberts

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

It appears that prolific New York Times Bestselling author Nora Roberts is passionate about more than just writing. Her In the Garden trilogy – Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, and Red Lily – celebrate all things dahlia

Roberts is best known for her well crafted characters and relationships and here she doesn’t disappoint. In Blue Dahlia, we meet Stella Rothschild, recent widow, mother of two young boys, and the new manager at In the Garden nursery. We discover more about Roz Harper, widowed owner of the nursery and Harper House, a historic Tennessee mansion, in Black Rose. The main story in Red Lily surrounds Hayley Phillips, unmarried, pregnant, distant cousin of Roz, looking for a new start. The friendships that develop between the women are the highlight of the stories and, in my opinion, what Roberts writes best. But it wouldn’t be a “Nora Roberts” without romance – love blooms and there’s a Hero for each of our Heroines.

There is also an element of the supernatural in each of the stories. The mysterious and sometimes malevolent ghostly Harper Bride walks the halls of Harper House at night, singing lullabies. As their friendships and romances develop, Stella, Roz and Hayley must each face their own ghosts and that of the Harper Bride if they are to find happiness.

With the tie in to the supernatural, readers will be reminded of Roberts’ MacKade Brothers series: The Return of Rafe MacKade (1995), The Pride of Jared MacKade (1995), The Heart of Devin MacKade (1996), The Fall of Shane MacKade (1996).

Enjoy!  Sarah

Check availability in Minerva or Read about this title at Amazon.

Award-Winning Historical Fiction for Middle Grade Readers

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

countdownCountdown by Deborah Wiles.

The first in a trilogy, this novel is about an 11-year-old girl and her family in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Photos and other artifacts from the time period add to the book’s appeal.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

once crazy summerOne Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia.

Set in the 1960s, this novel is unusual in that it focuses on the Black Panther movement in the context of one African American family and the summer three sisters, who have been raised by their father and grandmother, visit their mother in California where she is involved in the Black Panther movement.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

See the full reading list at

HuffPost Books Summer Reading List

Monday, July 30th, 2012

gone girlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

I hadn’t read a thriller since high school, but this book came so highly recommended that I had to read it. It certainly didn’t disappoint. This tale of the aftermath of a woman gone missing will keep you up reading all night just so you can get to the very satisfying, very chilling ending.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

who will run the frog hospital?Who will run the frog hospital? : a novel by Lorrie Moore.

A cult classic in which a woman recalls a teenage summer spent working at an amusement park with her boisterous, beautiful best friend. It’s a breeze to get through, but the language is lyrical.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

See the full reading list at

Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries: Summer Reading Beyond the New Shelf

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

AcaciaAcacia by David Anthony Durham.

Acacia (Anchor, 2004, reprinted 2012) is an excellent choice to suggest to fans of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. (Not the least of the reasons for doing so is that all three books in this trilogy are published and available, the first two in paperback editions.) When Acacia, their homeland, is invaded by their longtime enemy, the Mein, the four children of the royal family of the Akaran dynasty are forced to run for their lives.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

The Way Men ActThe Way Men Act by Elinor Lipman.

Of all of Elinor Lipman’s wonderful novels, my favorite remains The Way Men Act (Washington Square Pr., 1993). Because Lipman adores her characters, it’s impossible for readers not to love them, too. After she returns to the New England college town where she grew up, Melinda LeBlanc works in her cousin’s flower shop, takes up old friendships, and falls in love with a man apparently uninterested in her, all the while trying to get along with her mother and live down a high school reputation as a “bad girl.”

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

See the full reading list at

Hot Books for Summer Reading

Friday, July 20th, 2012

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

This novel gives us a feisty protagonist in cancer-stricken Hazel, who falls hard for fellow cancer patient Augustus Waters. The way these two characters speak to each other is both ridiculous and charming, and you’ll find yourself rooting for their love to flourish. Be warned, though: You’ll need half a box of tissues to get through the ending.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

THE-GREAT-GATSBYThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The plot takes Nick’s character — a Midwesterner — into the lavish yet tragic world of his Long Island neighbor Jay Gatsby. Remember the symbolism of the green light at the end of the dock? If you don’t, it’s time to read this one again.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

See the full reading list at

Jennifer Weiner shares her summer reading list!

Monday, July 16th, 2012

troubleTrouble: A Novel, by Kate Christensen.

It’s wonderfully written, full of vivid details about tastes and smells and what it’s like to be totally out of your element, in a new place, and a new life.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

ladder of yearsLadder of Years: a Novel, by Anne Tyler.

Delia Grinstead, a housewife from Baltimore walks off the beach, in her swimsuit, with a tote bag and five hundred dollars, away from the husband and children who’ve taken her for granted, and off to wrestle with her own painful history, and make a new life of her own

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

See the full reading list at

Summer Book Picks

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Jeni's splendid ice creams at home Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer.

Jeni Britton Bauer writes of home-made gourmet treats to cool you during the heat of summer. Her creative, innovative, and nuanced recipes are inspired by the ingredients available any given day at the market. Try the goat cheese and roasted cherries.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

the last chinese chefThe Last Chinese Chef, by Nichole Mone.

Nicole Mone’s book is a literary and gastronomic delight. A food writer, struggling with grief, is sent on assignment to China to research a young American-born Jewish-Chinese chef.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

See the full reading list at

11 Summer Beach Reads

Monday, July 9th, 2012

next best thingThe Next Best Thing, by Jennifer Weiner.

Shy TV writer Ruth lives with her grandma in L.A. Then she lands a deal for her own show, and has to fend off divas, dilettantes, and other downsides of dreams coming true.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

little nightLittle Night, by Luanne Rice.

Years ago, coming to the aid of her sister got Clare banished from her family. Now Clare’s niece steps into the breach, hoping to bring about reconciliation. A classic Rice page-turner.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

See the full reading list at

Genre Books for Summer

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Before I Go To SleepBefore I Go To Sleep, by S. J. Watson.

Each morning, Christine wakes with no memory. From the clues she left herself, she tries to piece together her identity and sort lies from the truth. The unrelenting pace thrusts the reader into the
confusion of a waking nightmare in which revelations of her past lead to a frantic crescendo.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

silk is for seductionSilk is for Seduction, by Loretta Chase

Ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot will do almost anything to secure the patronage of the Duke of Clevendon’s intended bride. Neither her calculated business plan nor his campaign of seduction can withstand the force of their mutual attraction. Witty banter and strong-willed characters make this a memorable tale.

Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at

See the full reading list at

New@CML: Sealab: America’s Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Ben Hellwarth’s Sealab is the underwater Right Stuff: the story of how a U.S. Navy program sought to develop the marine equivalent of the space station—and forever changed man’s relationship to the sea.

While NASA was trying to put a man on the moon, the U.S. Navy launched a series of daring experiments to prove that divers could live and work from a sea-floor base. When the first underwater “habitat” called Sealab was tested in the early 1960s, conventional dives had strict depth limits and lasted for only minutes, not the hours and even days that the visionaries behind Sealab wanted to achieve—for purposes of exploration, scientific research, and to recover submarines and aircraft that had sunk along the continental shelf. The unlikely father of Sealab, George Bond, was a colorful former country doctor who joined the Navy later in life and became obsessed with these unanswered questions: How long can a diver stay underwater? How deep can a diver go?

Happy 200th Birthday Charles Dickens!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Was he the greatest novelist of the Victorian era? You decide!

Dickens wrote his novels to be read aloud (the literacy rate in London during Dickens’ time was not exactly sky high).

In a childhood plagued by poverty, Charles Dickens sought refuge in books (a scene he recreated in David Copperfield).

As a young reporter, Dickens covered parliamentary debates in England’s House of Commons—an experience that gave him a considerable disregard for government.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is truly the greatest mystery story ever written because Dickens died before he could finish it!

Dickens loved the theater and relished acting but chose to be a writer as acting was a not a respectable occupation in the Victorian era.

Dickens loved walking the streets of London and observing people. He loved the city and felt lost outside of it.

Much of Dickens’ work was semi-autobiographical and many of his colorful & diverse characters had real-life counterparts.

Dickens’ reputation as a novelist is unsurpassed but his works are filled with poetic imagery:

“A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful, with a lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the rich trees waving in the balmy air.”

Please make sure the Dickens novel you read has illustrations! Dickens prose combined with the whimsical yet often poignant illustrations of Hablot Knight Browne aka “Phiz” was truly a match made in heaven.

Library Tips:
Search the Curtis Library catalog (via the “word” category) for “Phiz” and / or “Hablot Knight Browne.”

Search for Dickens, Charles under “Author” and look for “ill.” (short for “illustrations”) in the book records.

Search the Marvel for database for literary criticism on Charles Dickens.

Ask a Reference Librarian for assistance.

Staff Pick: Still Life by Louise Penny

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Still LifeI initially picked up Still Life for a book group. Then something magical happened, I fell in love with the bucolic village of Three Pines and Armand Gamache, Penny’s calm, courtly, thoughtful, compassionate and strong detective.

Set in the Canadian province of Quebec, Still Life features many hallmarks of a British whodunit, including murders by unconventional means, bucolic villages, large casts of suspects, red herrings, and a dramatic disclosure of the murderer in the last few pages of the book. Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie, and while there is a surface resemblance, Penny’s novels delve deeper into characters and the darkness within. Her villains are regular people – they blend in, they’re you and me and people we know. And that’s the horror. Not that we’re betrayed and attacked by perfect strangers, but that the attack comes from within.

And all this is happening in a perversely idyllic setting, making the darkness all the more stark. Three Pines is a tiny village in Quebec, close the border with Vermont. It’s part French and part English, as is Quebec. Many say that Canada is not an exotic enough locale for U.S. readers – but Penny’s novels do very well here. She says part of the appeal is the “French fact – It’s romantic and gracious, the food is different, the culture is different… and yet it’s close enough and familiar enough that Americans can relate.” As a resident of a small village in Quebec herself, Penny’s insight into the bilingual, bicultural aspect of Quebecois life rings true.

Another appeal is Penny’s detective. Still Life introduces Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of homicide detectives. According to Penny, Gamache is partly based on her husband and partly on her idealized man. “He was created because I never wanted to tire of my main character… I needed someone I would choose to spend perhaps the rest of my life with. And so I intentionally created a man I would choose to marry. Superficially he was inspired by the heroes I had growing up. My grandfather, who taught me poetry, Walt Disney, Ben Cartwright, Walter Cronkite. Middle aged men who have a calm, and a decency.” Gamache is a man with a moral center. A man who, while flawed, will always try to do the right thing, rather than the easy thing.

There is much to enjoy in Still Life – including a deftly plotted traditional mystery. I hope you enjoy your visit to Three Pines as much as I did!

Happy reading-