In the third book in his series featuring the character Mike Bowden, author Paul Doiron has created another fast-paced mystery which follows the exploits of the Maine game warden. Bad Little Falls takes place in the desolate area of far northeastern Maine, where Bowden has been exiled by his bosses for actions he took in the previous book The Trespasser. Washington County is along the Canadian border and is plagued with poverty as well as drug and alcohol abuse. During the height of a blizzard, Bowditch is called out to assist with a rescue, which quickly turns into a murder investigation. He is threatened by local game hunters, encounters a strange, troubled boy, is attracted to the boy’s mother and must decide whether to put his job on the line and become involved in the investigation of the murder. Doiron’s characters are well developed, plots are tightly woven with twists and turns and his ability to portray the scenery and atmosphere of the cold northern Maine landscape pulls the reader into the story. If you are a fan of C.J. Box, this series should appeal to you.
Every year a handful of Kansas book lovers have the difficult job of choosing their favorite books written by Kansans or about Kansas. This group of representatives from the Kansas Center for the Book, choose a list of the best books published the previous year by Kansas authors or about our state and then forward this list to the State Librarian for the final selections.
They must consider many titles including fiction, nonfiction, adult and young adult books. In early July the 2012 list was announced. Yesterday, the winning authors were awarded medals at the Kansas Book Festival in Topeka. The following titles were chosen as the winners of the seventh Kansas Notable Book list.
8 Wonders of Kansas! Guidebook by Marci Penner
The 8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook is a 272-page book filled with over 800 beautiful photos of the 216 entries in the 8 Wonders of Kansas contests. Author Marci Penner has created another useful tour guide to help us enjoy our state’s highlights.
The Afterlives of Trees by Wyatt Townley
This new collection of poems by Wyatt Townley uses trees as a motif to explore the theme of transformation.
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming
This is the thrilling story of America’s most celebrated female flyer, Amelia Earhart, who was born in Atchison. It is told alternating between Amelia’s life from childhood up until her last flight and the exhaustive search for her and her missing plane. Level: middle graders.
Bent Road: A Novel by Lori Roy
Arthur Scott tries to escape the race riots of 1967 Detroit by returning with his family to the tiny Kansas town he left 25 years ago after the violent death of his sister.
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
For a man forced into the presidency, the legacy of James Garfield extended far beyond his lifetime, Destiny of the Republic revisits his meteoric rise within the military and government with meticulous research and intimate focus.
Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell
Dr. John Henry Holliday, an ailing Southern gentleman, arrives in Dodge City with a prostitute who helps him find high-stakes poker games that will support them both in high style. The unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins here.
The Door in the Forest by Roderick Townley
Roderick Townley spins a magical tale of lies and truths, of secrets kept and secrets revealed in this adventure story for youth or the adventurous at heart.
Liar’s Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce
One of Kirkus Blog’s Favorite YA Novels of 2011, Liar’s Moon is a sequel to StarCrossed. These are high-fantasy, forbidden magic with castles, prisons, poisons and passion.
My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas by Tracy Seeley
At 39, settled in San Francisco, a midlife crisis shakes Seely to her roots — she tells the story of a search for Kansas roots, the tale of a woman with an impassioned if vague sense of mission: to find the meaning of home.
The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory
by James N. Leiker and Ramon Powers
The Northern Cheyenne in 1878, attempted to flee from Indian Territory back to their Montana homeland. This important event in American Indian history is equally important in the history of towns like Oberlin, Kan., where Cheyenne warriors killed more than 40 settlers and in turn suffered great losses through violent encounters with the U.S. Army.
Osa and Martin: For the Love of Adventure by Kelly Enright
Legendary filmmakers and adventurers Osa and Martin Johnson, via film, brought the jungles of Africa and the South Pacific to millions of Americans from the 1910s to 1940s. Kelly Enright brings this amazing couple fully to life, chronicling their journey from a honeymoon among cannibals to safari camps in lion country.
Prairie Fire: A Great Plains History by Julie Courtwright
This traces the history of both natural and intentional fires from Native American practices to the current use of controlled burns as an effective land management tool, along the way sharing the personal accounts of people whose lives have been touched by fire.
Rode by Thomas Fox Averill
This is the imagined story behind Jimmy Driftwood’s ballad “Tennessee Stud”, a story of the legendary exploits of the greatest horse that ever lived and his owner.
Send Me Work: Stories by Katherine Karlin
In this collection of short stories, Karlin offers rare insight into the place of work in the lives of women.
Tapped Out: Rear Naked Chokes, the Octagon, and the Last Emperor: An Odyssey in Mixed Martial Arts by Matthew Polly
At the age of 36, author Matthew Polly decides to immerse himself in Mixed Martial Arts training and competition in order to write a book about it.
This is the only honor for Kansas books by Kansans, highlighting our lively contemporary writing community and encouraging readers to enjoy some of the best writing of the authors among us.
Open the back cover of Calling Invisible Women and you will hoot with laughter. The photo of the author, Jeanne Ray, is as imaginative as this story.
Clover Hobart is a middle aged mother of two young adults and the wife of a pediatrician with an insanely busy practice. One day she discovers that she is invisible. As any middle age woman knows, this is not uncommon, however, Clover was actually gone. She could not see her own hands, face or anything else. This crazy situation was being experienced by other women that Clover finds through a newspaper ad she stumbles over while searching the notices. The 10 a.m. meeting at the Downtown Sheraton of equally invisible women brings comfort to Clover and a determination to discover the source of their invisibility. Could a combination of prescription drugs that all of these women have taken actually lead to this result? How are they going to battle a major pharmaceutical company? When will her family actually take notice of her condition?
Jeanne Ray wrote her first book as a retirement project after working forty years as a registered nurse. This New York Times bestselling author has a wonderful sense of humor. I can’t wait to see what else she has written.
God is kind of bored with earth and humanity. The share of the population that believes in Him has been steadily decreasing, and He can’t really see why He should continue to waste any more time and effort on people. He’d much rather refocus His efforts on His next big venture, an Asian fusion restaurant.
Angels Craig and Eliza in the Miracles Department don’t see it the same way. They like their jobs, surprising people with small good things happening during their day. Craig convinces God to make a bet with him. If Craig and Eliza can make one prayer come true, God won’t destroy the Earth. The prayer(s) they decide to answer should be a piece of cake. Sam and Laura, two people living in New York City, both separately prayed to be together. The problem is that Sam and Laura are socially inept and keep passing up the opportunities Craig and Eliza give them. This saving the earth thing may be harder to accomplish than they thought.
Jonathan Tropper’s keen insight into family relationships has allowed him to create novels about families that are both touching and funny, such as How to Talk to a Widower and This is Where I Leave You. In his latest work, One Last thing Before I Go, Daniel Silver is a divorced, ex-rock band drummer living in a depressing high-rise filled with divorced, middle-aged men like himself. He contemplates the failures in his life, from his marriage and parenting to his career, and when he is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that can be corrected with surgery, he decides that the people in his life would be better off without him. As he faces his death, he learns truths about himself and the ones he loves, and examines his past failures. Tropper’s work is filled with insight, humor and heartbreaking honesty. Family dynamics and characters are believable and well-developed, from the ex-wife that Silver still loves, to the other down-and-out divorced men that reside in his apartment building. This is a story that make you laugh and will touch your heart as well. Jonathan Tropper is one of my favorite authors and this new novel is a welcome addition to his works.
Ashes, by Ilsa J. Bick is an American Library Association 2012 Teen Top Ten Nomination. I had heard good things about the book, but hesitated to pick it up because I’m not really into zombies. However, zombies or no zombies, it gripped my interest from the first few pages. Seventeen year old Alex has had a rough life. Her parents died in an accident and shortly thereafter she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After multiple treatments that have not worked, her case is terminal. While her body and mind are still functioning she takes one last trip into the Waucamaw Wilderness where she has camped many times with her dad. Just a few days into her trip electromagnetic pulses are set off, wiping out power and electronic devices everywhere. To make matters worse, the pulse kills off a large portion of the population and turns most young adults into crazed zombies. Alex along with fellow survivors Ellie, a young girl, and Tom, a soldier who is on leave, band together to survive. The plot continually twists and turns and kept me on the edge of my seat. I always felt like some new horror was lurking around every corner (and more often than not it was). Although some of the action sequences are quite gruesome, this part horror/part post- apocalyptic novel kept me riveted until the end. If you like books wrapped up all neat and tidy at the end this is not for you! Virtually nothing is resolved by the end, and there is a cliffhanger worthy of the Hunger Games. Luckily, book number two of this planned trilogy, Shadows, comes out September 25th!
Izzy Spellman never really had a chance for a normal life. Raised by private investigators, she joined the family business at 12, establishing a pattern of snooping and distrust that doesn’t bode well for healthy relationships. Her parents routinely run background checks on her boyfriends. Her uncle Ray regularly disappears on binges of his assorted addictions. Her brother David, the supposedly normal one, has been hiding something. Even her baby sister is mastering the art of extortion within the family. Meanwhile Izzy tries to solve an unsolvable case and maintain a fairly normal (if completely dishonest) relationship with the dentist of her dreams.
I was told to read The Spellman Files because I like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Both series are hilarious mysteries with entertaining young female characters who can’t quite get it together, but Spellman is less slapstick and more clever. This tale of mystery, suspense, and family dysfunction will keep you laughing all the way through.
Delirium is the first book of a trilogy published in January 2011 by Lauren Oliver. If you like dystopian fiction, then try this series. Lena lives in a new America, where love has become a disease that nobody wants to catch. Luckily, scientists have figured out a surgical procedure that cures this deadly illness. Unfortunately, it is too dangerous to undergo this operation until you turn eighteen. To avoid catching the “delirium” Lena’s life, and everyone else’s, is strictly controlled. Everyone must follow the Book of Shhh (The Safety, Health, and Happiness handbook) and carefully avoid everyone of the opposite sex. Lena’s life has always been complicated. Her mother committed suicide when she was six because of the Delirium. Since then she has been living with her aunt, uncle and cousins, spending time with her best friend Hana, and being careful to watch out for signs of the disease. Then, with only 95 days to go until her cure, Lena meets Alex, and begins to question everything that society has taught her. Will she continue her controlled, safe life or choose to search out the “Invalids” who have rebelled against society and are constantly in danger of losing their lives. Pandemonium is book number two in the series and equally as good as the first. Book number 3, Requiem, is due to be released in March. And for those who enjoy the books, the movie rights have been acquired by Fox 2000.
Louise Brooks was a beautiful silent-film star from Wichita, Kansas who began her career in New York City studying dance at the tender age of 15. Her mother arranged a chaperone to accompany Louise to the glitzy, cosmopolitan city. Laura Moriarty’s latest book, The Chaperone, tells the story of Louise Brooks, but centers on the secret life behind Cora Carlisle, her chaperone. Cora leaves her husband to accompany the troubled and talented Louise for one purpose, to find out more about her background and her first memories of a dark-haired women in a red shawl at ‘The Home for Friendless Girls’. Cora was one of the lucky orphans who came west on an orphan train as she was chosen by a loving Kansas farm couple. Now as a proper, society wife her secret is tugging at her very being.
The history of the war years in Wichita when the city was doubling in population at an amazing rate as the center of the air industry is a fascinating part of the story
In Nora Roberts’ latest suspense novel The Witness, Elizabeth Fitch is a teenager with a very unique upbringing–she is a genius, ready to enter Harvard Medical School at 17, and has been raised by her controlling and distant mother. Resentful that she has never expperienced any kind of teen lifestyle, Elizabeth rebels against her mother’s directives and when left alone at home, she heads to a nightclub with a friend. After dancing, drinking and meeting a handsome Russian nightclub owner, she leaves the club with him and faces a terrifying experience that will change her life forever.
Twelve years later, she is living as Abigail in a small town in the Ozarks, where she keeps to herself and works from her home designing security software. She is an object of speculation by the local residents, and her reserved manner sparks the interest of the local police chief, Brooks. He suspects she has a hidden past and as he comes to know her, hopes she can learn to trust him with her secrets. As Abigail opens up to Brooks, she must face her past and decide whether she wants to just live or to have a life.
Roberts has created a novel with well-drawn, likeable characters that the reader comes to care about. The details of small-town life, the contrasts drawn to show the differences in families and the suspense created as Abigail must contend with her past in order to move forward with her life all combine to make this a gripping and intense story.
It is the quietest time of year in Manhattan. Most of the summer activities have come to an end and we still have some time before the energy of returning students and school starting up. The recent heat has caused us all to be a bit wilted. A good laugh can help you through the end-of-summer doldrums so you can be cheerful when all our new residents come pouring in.
You might have heard of Lisa Scottoline’s suspense novels. What is less well known is that she partners with her daughter to write nonfiction that will crack you up. Her latest, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: the Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter talks about the close and challenging relationships in families, while making sure to see the humor in life. Another nonfiction favorite is Bill Bryson, known best for his travel memoirs. Whether he’s on a trip across the pond in Notes from a Small Island or traveling back in time with The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid Bryson’s work is known for causing annoyance to those near readers because of the constant chuckling and the repeated phrase “You’ve got to hear this.”
Romance is a genre ripe with scenarios of people making idiots of themselves for our reading enjoyment. In Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D’Alessandro, Jamie Newman escapes New York for the beach in an attempt to regroup after a failed relationship, only to face a run-down shack, an ever-present family, and a difficult (but of course attractive) neighbor/landlord. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig takes us back to the French Revolution with the story of Amy Balcourt. Amy heads out to France with hopes to become a spy with the league of the Purple Gentian. Secrets, misunderstandings, and clumsy spying attempts don’t bode well for her career, but the Purple Gentian finds that he wants her close by anyway.
If you like your romance heavy on the humor but light on spice, you might like these Christian authors. A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist tells the story of Washington settler Joe Denton who needs a wife to keep his land and Ana Ivey who unknowingly signs off as a bride when she just hopes to escape to the west to find a job cooking. Full of witty dialogue and likeable characters, Gist’s books are a treat. In Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake, Lady Syndey Hathwell escapes to her long lost uncle’s ranch disguised as a man. Ranch manager Tim Creighton is disgusted by his new ranch hand’s hardworking but inept and weak attempts to live up to his expectations.
For humor with a more mysterious turn, you might try The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, takes up the case when characters suddenly begin to disappear from great works of literature. A mix of fantasy and mystery is delightfully witty. Alan Bradley takes you into the world of the engaging Flavia de Luce, eleven year old chemist in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. When she discovers a dying man in the garden, she revels in the joy of investigation.
Some of us like our humor to be a little otherworldly. In A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, neurotic hypochondriac and recent widower, Charlie Asher, is faced with the challenges of a new baby and a new and unwanted job as a merchant of death. Scott Rockwell has adapted Terry Pratchett’s Discworld into Graphic Novel format, maintaining the bizarrely humorous feel from the original novels about a parallel world that rests on the backs of four elephants balanced on a giant turtle hurtling through space.
When the hot, slow days start to get you down, just remember the words of MarkTwain, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
Rory Mackenzie has returned home to Ransom River and is serving on a jury when two gunmen enter the courtroom and hold the jury, judge and spectators hostage, with a siege that begins a long, nightmarish ordeal for Rory. She is singled out by the gunmen and later accused by police of being an accomplice in their crime. Surrounded by a dysfunctional family and unsure of whom to trust, Rory must race to uncover the reasons for the courtroom violence and to discover why she has been made the target of attacks. Edgar Award-winning author Gardiner has created a taut, complex, fast-paced novel filled with action and suspense–one that will keep you guessing until the end.
Ready Player One, the debut novel by Ernest Cline is a great read! The story takes place in the not too distant future of 2044 and the world is a pretty bleak place to live for most people. The main character, Wade Watts lives in the “Stacks” a trailer park where the trailers are stacked on top of one another. Like many others, Wade prefers to spend most of his time in the virtual reality world of OASIS which is much more pleasant than the real world. Wade, along with fellow gunters (Easter egg hunters) spend all of their spare time searching for an “Easter egg” hidden in the virtual reality world of OASIS by multi billionaire James Halliday, the recently deceased creator of OASIS. The person that finds the egg first, will inherit Halliday’s vast fortune. The Sixers are a particular group of gunters that work for IOI, a large corporation that is determined to inherit Halliday’s billions and take control of OASIS. They will stop at nothing to find the egg, including murder. To find clues to where the egg is hidden, gunters must immerse themselves in the life of James Halliday and the things that he loved. Chief among those is 80’s pop culture and video games. If you grew up in the 80’s (like myself) you will particularly enjoy this book. It was fun to reminisce about old episodes of Family Ties, playing Atari, and watching movies like Back to the Future. Didn’t grow up in the 80’s? This is a great way to educate yourself about the 80’s while having a great time! Fans of the book will also have the movie to look forward to, as the movie rights have already been sold to Warner Bros.
Can your whole life change in 15 Seconds? Dr. Henry Steadman finds out that it can–Steadman arrives in Miami for a medical conference when he is stopped for a minor traffic violation. While the police officer is writing up a warning, a car pulls up to the officer, shooting and killing him. Henry is on the scene, and suddenly he is the target of a massive manhunt. As his life spirals out of control, Henry realizes that he has been framed for crimes he didn’t commit and has to try to save the life of someone he loves. Author Andrew Gross skillfully weaves the story line between Steadman’s actions and those of the character controlling Steadman’s situation. This is a fast-paced thriller, filled with action, plot twists and suspense, a story that is hard to put down. If you like Robert Crais, karin Slaughter or James Patterson, you will enjoy Gross’ latest thriller.
Nantucket Island is a perfect place to grow up, and Penny,a talented vocalist and her twin Hobby, a superb athlete, have been raised on the island by their single mother Zoe. Their friendships are life-long and the adults of the tight-knit community know each other and the island teens well. On a high school graduation night, a terrible accident involving Penny and Hobby, and two of their friends takes place, leaving one in a coma, one dead, and two others emotionally scarred. In the aftermath of the accident, adults and children must cope with grief, secrets and questions. The characters are well-developed and the story alternates being told from the point of view of several different characters, with characters slowly revealing their secrets as well as eventually, the cause of the accident. Summerland is a poignant, touching novel that deals with the strength that community and family can impart in times of crisis–an uplifting story of courage and healing.