Archive for the ‘Readers Corner’ Category

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