Josh Michaels, alone in his cabin in the Colorado mountains and suffering a broken heart over a lost girlfriend, is outraged when a neighbor dumps a very pregnant dog, Lucy, on his doorstep. Josh has never had a dog, much less a pregnant one. But Josh can’t resist her warm brown eyes and is soon in over his head. He seeks help at the local animal shelter, where socially inept Josh meets lovely Kerri. Lucy, malnourished, goes into labor and loses the pups at the local vet’s office. When Josh arrives home with Lucy, he notices a large box in the back of his truck—and finds five abandoned pups—and the adventure begins. The Dogs of Christmas is a heartwarming holiday tale that explores the power of love, trust and a basketful of puppies, as warm and bright as Christmas morning.
How can one precocious six-year-old boy be so much fun! Bertie shines on in Sunshine on Scotland Street, the newest installment of the 44 Scotland Street novels by Alexander McCall-Smith. In this episode, Bertie finds a very inventive way to forever be done with wearing his strawberry colored dungarees that have embarrassed him numerous times through several previous books. His mother continues to make life difficult in additional ways, such as insisting that Bertie sell healthy snacks, carrot-men, at the school fair. We follow Cyril, the gold-toothed dog, on his adventurous life while his master, Angus Lordie and Domenica are on their wedding trip. I love the way the author makes simple everyday encounters a lesson in the way people think and interact. McCall-Smith makes us laugh at the absurd way we look at ourselves and perceive others using little boys and dogs and a variety of people.
In this beautifully written sequel to If I Stay, Gayle Forman tells the story of the three years following Mia’s accident and of the lives that Adam and Mia have built while apart from each other. This book is told from Adam’s perspective and reveals his anguish and devastation over their separation.
Following her recovery, Mia left her home town to attend Julliard and has become an accomplished cellist. Adam, devastated by her leaving, has transformed his grief and heartbreak into powerful rock songs, which have propelled his band into stardom. But neither is able to truly enjoy the experiences they have as their dreams of success in music come true, as both have regrets about the past, and Mia comes to realize that her choice to stay has affected not only her life but the lives of others in deep and painful ways. This is a touching and emotional story about forgiveness, love, hope and healing. Where She Went is an exquisite and unforgettable novel with compelling characters we come to care about, and this window into their lives makes us hope for the best for Mia and Adam on their journey towards healing and love.
I greatly enjoyed this collection of short stories from Susan Jackson Rodgers. I first heard about it by reading about the Book Reviews from Manhattan Mercury’s column. I wanted to give it a try after hearing that Rodgers was a Kansas State alumnus.
The short story that collection gets its title from is about the thoughts, feelings and emotions going through a divorcee’s heads as she does late night grocery shopping and encounters an ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend is stoned, happy and in the arms of a new younger lover. The story avoids becoming overwhelmed by bitterness. Instead, it embraces a sardonic and humorous outlook on the situation that sounds like a cross between a Sex in the City and Bridget Jones narrator. To get a taste of this story, a reading is available on youtube.
Another of the stories which stood out to me, was entitled “What Happens Next.” This story, is a collection of story beginnings that don’t really go anywhere and have only circumstantial connections. The beginnings are told with longing and sadness that I was left really wanting to know what happened to them. An example of part of the collection is entitled, “Taking a Geography,” and it says “This is what they say at AA meetings when someone moves away, tires a new life in a new place instead of staying in the old place with all the old problems.”
This collection of short stories is very melancholic. It’s the kind of sad that’s not afraid to laugh. Most of the stories are centered around women in their mid 20s to late 30s. The issues explored include ugly divorces, old friendships, children and romance. They are the kind of stories that are quick to read, but hard to forget. I found myself returning to some of them over and over again re-examining hidden meanings and re-exploring her language.
Last weekend we decorated our house for Halloween and after tacking up the fake spiderwebs to the corners of the ceiling and setting out pumpkins, I decided that a good, scary book was in order. One book that has been on my to-read list for a while now has been Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Continue reading
Keri Mills, Young Adult Librarian
Sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the Teens’ Top Ten is a teens’ choice list where teens nominate their favorite books from the previous year. Nominations are posted in April and teens ages twelve to eighteen can vote on their favorite titles. The winning books are announced in mid-October. This year, there are 28 nominated titles, representing a wide cross section of genres. If you are the parent of teens who are struggling to find something to read, this list is a good place to start. It also is a good opportunity for parents to find out what types of books their teens might already be reading. Many of the books have wide crossover appeal to adults, as well. Here are a few examples of the nominated titles:
“Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein
In 1943, a British fighter plane crash lands in Nazi-occupied France. Verity, a young female wireless operator, is captured by the Gestapo. To avoid torture or immediate death, Verity begins to pen her confession and any details she can remember of the British war effort. Along the way, she reveals details about her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them into France, and the history of her current situation. Her confession is definitely more than it appears at first glance. And, the well-developed characters, suspense, and plot twists will keep you turning the pages. Continue reading
For some strange reason, this little-known book by a new author shot to the top of the best-seller lists this summer and our hold list has not yet recovered. Is it as good as the author’s previous works? That’s up for debate, but Cuckoo’s Crossing has received good reviews and is worth the read if you like a good mystery.
If you need something while you’re waiting on the hold list, or if you’ve read it and want something similar, here are a few titles you might enjoy.
In Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta, private investigators Lincoln Perry and Joe Pritchard are hired to investigate an apparent murder/suicide, with the primary problem being that the supposed murder victims are no where to be found. This debut novel won the Private Eye Writers of America Prize for Best First Private Eye Novel.
Private detective Brodie Jackson starts to see connecting threads between three seemingly distinct cases in Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. A tight mystery with a humorous off-beat detective will keep you coming back for more.
In Hardcase by Dan Simmons, Joe Kurtz has just been released from prison but quickly resumes PI work in this dark hardboiled crime thriller. Ignoring his parole officer, Joe manages to encounter the brother of the man he murdered, a black Muslim Group, along with the mob in this action-packed tale.
You can find more read-alikes for your favorite authors at our website.
This extraordinary novel by Gayle Forman provokes thoughts about life and death, family, relationships and love. Mia is a high school senior and excels at the cello. Her family is close and loving and music touches all of their lives. Mia’s boyfriend Adam is also a musician, in a punk rock band. On a day off school and work due to snow, the family decides to have a fun day together–a day which begins as an adventure and turns to tragedy after an auto accident. Mia must make a choice–to stay or leave her earthly life. Will her future experiences in life be worth the pain of living without the family she loves?
Alternating between the present and the past, Mia’s life story is told, offering insights into her thoughts, emotions and relationships.The characters in this story are well-drawn, with depth and sensitivity. This is a powerful, heartbreaking and beautifully told story, filled with lyrical prose much like Mia’s cello music. If I Stay is a novel that will stay in your heart for a long time and is a Young Adult novel that will appeal to young and old alike. If you enjoy this book, you might also enjoy The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
In the first book in this trilogy, Adrenaline, (2011), CIA agent Sam Capra’s colleagues were killed in a bomb blast, his wife and child were abducted, and Sam was accused of committing treason. Now, desperate to find his son, Sam agrees to work for an enigmatic group called the Round Table, whose members claim to have vital information that can lead Sam to the boy. The kidnappers have offered a deadly deal. They will return his son if Sam finds the one man who can expose them and murder him. Sam is a likable, morally conflicted hero in a difficult situation. Will he? Thanks to Abbott’s skills as a storyteller we can’t tell whether Sam will commit murder to find his son. Reminiscent of Robert Ludlum, The Last Minute is the second book in a trilogy, which began with Adrenaline (reviewed in an earlier blog). Follow Sam through a third breathtaking adventure in Downfall.
A fun light read set in London! Issy Randall a typical 8-5 office worker, who rides the bus to work and shares her flat with Helena, an emergency nurse. Issy has a thing for her boss, and he seems to have a thing for her– at times. Helena thinks she is crazy to keep going back to Graeme who doesn’t want the people at work to know about their relationship.
With a layoff at work, Issy is given severance pay which she uses to fulfill her life time ambition– to own her own bakery as her grandfather had. Of course Graeme thinks she will fail and come crawling back to him, but when the banker Austin comes into the picture Issy’s love life may take a new turn.
Issy struggles with her new establishment, the Cupcake Café, where she becomes very innovative in making sure that it succeeds. Her grandfather, now in a nursing home, sends her luscious sounding recipes for sweets along with his quirky instructions. (They really do sound wonderful, although I have not tried any of them yet.) Meet me at the Cupcake Café has several interesting characters including the ironmonger who resides next door. Watch out! You may find your mouth watering for cakes and your mind wandering to London.
In The Arrangement, the second book in her Survivors Club series (The Proposal is the first), Mary Balogh has created a sweet and charming romance. Vincent has been blinded in war and has escaped to his cottage, away from his sisters and mother, to avoid their smothering and matchmaking. A kind and caring man, Vincent dreams of being more independent. Sophia has had a difficult life, knowing little love or affection from family. At a local gathering, Sophia finds herself in the position of rescuing Vincent from a husband-hunting cousin but is punished by being banished by her home. Vincent comes to her rescue and proposes and arrangement. As these two characters come to understand each other and as their relationship grows, they offer each other love, respect and independence. Mary Balogh is a master at creating characters are likeable, appealing and believable and stories that are touching and filled with both humor and romance. (Don’t let the cheesy cover prevent you from reading this one!) If you enjoy books by Mary Balogh, you might also like Mary Jo Putney or Jo Beverley.
Elin Hilderbrand’s latest novel is a story about families, relationships, marriage and love. In Beautiful Day, a wedding is being planned. The bride, Jenna, is making all of her plans based on suggestions made by her late mother. Her mother Beth, diagnosed with cancer and knowing she would not live to see her youngest daughter be married, created a notebook with instructions on planning everything from the rehearsal dinner, dresses and invitations to the reception and thank you notes. The location of the wedding, Nantucket, allows for wonderful descriptions of the local scenery. The story is told from the point of view of several different characters, which offers insight into thoughts and feelings of those characters. The characters are well-developed and memorable, and their relationships are believable and complex. Their stories are told with both drama and humor and are interwoven with the wedding plans of Jenna, offering up a story filled with a wide range of emotions, from sadness to joy and of course, love. Author Hilderbrand excels at telling emotional stories about families and relationships and Beautiful Day is an excellent example of her work!. If you enjoy Elin Hilderbrand, you might try novels by Luanne Rice or Kristin Hannah.
By Marcia Allen
Technical Services & Collections Manager
What’s new for this fall’s adult fiction book releases? A riveting story that revolves around a long-hidden Mayan codex of epic proportions. A real puzzler of a missing person for series favorite Chief Inspector Gamache. A woman long estranged from her London family called back to her dying sister’s side. A fraudulent scheme to build a Florida museum that is little more than a land grab. A woman who thinks she holds the answers to a deadly 1929 dance hall explosion. Sound intriguing? If so, here’s more information about those new arrivals.
· “The Mayan Secrets” by co-writers Clive Cussler (real life explorer of shipwrecks) and Thomas Perry (author of the Jane Whitefield series) is the newest in the Sam and Remi Fargo adventure tales. This time out, the intrepid explorers have stumbled upon a codex that reveals much about the lives and beliefs of the Mayan people. Complications arise when another treasure-seeker vows to have the book at any cost. Armchair adventure at its best.
· “How the Light Gets In” by Louise Penny throws Chief Inspector Gamache into compounded difficulties. He is dealing with the disbanding of his homicide staff when an acquaintance from the village of Three Pines reports that a friend failed to arrive at a pre-planned time. The missing friend’s identity turns out to be even more surprising. Another winning mystery in a favorite series.
· “Constance” by Rosie Thomas follows the heartbreak of a woman who has been called back to her native England. Abandoned shortly after birth by her mother, Connie grew up well aware of her adoptive status. A romantic betrayal eventually severed her relationship with her sister, Jeanette, and a new life in Bali offered her an escape. Now, however, the sister is terminally ill. This is a moving tale of fractured ties to family.
· “Deceived” by Randy Wayne White is not another Doc Ford adventure. Instead the mystery is the second in the Hannah Smith series. The notion of a museum devoted to the early days of Florida pioneers is appealing, but those asked to donate artifacts to the cause are but victims of fraudulent land deals. Hannah’s on the case, but she’s also distracted by a murder. Lots of rich Florida atmosphere and a spunky main character in this mystery.
“The Maid’s Version” by Daniel Woodrell is another gritty Ozark tale of betrayal and revenge. Remember Woodrell’s “Winter’s Bone”? You’ll find more downtrodden characters and ready violence similar to that of the previous tale. This time local maid Alma Dunahew wants to know why her headstrong younger sister died during a dancehall fire. Alma’s investigation leads her to believe that a forbidden affair caused the disaster, but other family members are not so eager to learn the truth. The stark setting and pared-down writing make this another Woodrell treasure.
· “Bones of the Lost” by Kathy Reichs is a treat for the thousands of the Temperance Brennan fans. This complicated tale offers many challenges for the beloved forensic anthropologist. Among other problems, Tempe must investigate a suspicious death of a young girl, the confiscation of Peruvian dog mummies in customs, the heartbreak of her daughter, and the increasing unhappiness of her own boyfriend, Pete. Top-notch forensic details and unexpected twists make for an engrossing story.
· “Evil Eye” by Joyce Carol Oates is aptly described as “four novellas of love gone wrong.” Each character struggles with what it means to commit. Insecure teenager Lizbeth, for example, is flattered and confused in a story entitled “So Near Any Time…Always” when young attractive Desmond Parrish takes an interest in her. Soon, however, his attentions become obsessive and he begins stalking her. Other tales in this slim volume are equally disturbing.
· “In Falling Snow” by Mary-Rose MacColl brings to life the experiences of a young Australian nurse in battle-torn France of 1914. Young Iris Crane gets sidetracked from her goal of locating her younger brother when a charismatic physician convinces her to help create a field hospital for wounded troops. The uncertainties of war intervene, and her plans are drastically altered. All of this is part of a distant past, until one day she receives a telling letter. Thus, old memories are re-examined.
Fall book season is prime reading time. Browse the library catalog or the new book
collection to see the latest tempting titles.
In this thriller by Douglas Corleone, Good as Gone tells the story of Simon Fisk, a former U.S. Marshall, who now hunts for children kidnapped by estranged parents and returns them to their rightful families. After his own family tragedy, Simon refuses to work on stranger abduction cases, but when he is approached by the French police to assist them in the kidnapping of a 6 year old American child, Simon can’t refuse. As his relentless search takes him through Europe and Eastern Europe, he must race against the clock to find and rescue the child. Facing organized crime, police corruption and his own haunted past, Simon must overcome unimaginable obstacles.
This is a novel filled with non-stop action and suspense, with many plot twists and turns and an ending that is totally surprising. Simon’s character is complex, troubled, sympathetic and intense, revealing layers of his life as the story moves forward. Hopefully this is the start of a series featuring the character Simon Fisk! If you enjoy books by Lee Child or Harlan Coben, try Good as Gone!