Archive for the ‘Readers Corner’ Category

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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-