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KFOR Book Chats – 2010


Starting in April 2002, and continuing through November 2018, a panel of library staff members have appeared somewhat regularly on Cathy Blythe’s Problems and Solutions program on radio station KFOR 1240 AM & 103.3 FM in a segment called “Book Chat,” sharing information about books, literacy and library programs. Here is a list of the books discussed on the shows during 2010:

December 16, 2010

The Handmaid and the Carpenter
by Elizabeth Berg

Berg’s sweetly understated dramatization of the Nativity story casts Mary and Joseph as provincial teenagers who try to honor family tradition in spite of challenging circumstances. Alternating between the voices of the holy couple, Berg relates a romance that blossoms at the wedding of relatives between the 16-year-old carpenter from Nazareth and the comely 13-year-old girl originally from Sepphoris. Mary, dreamy and intractable, already entertains notions of miraculous circumstances surrounding her own birth to her barren mother, Anne. Joseph is instantly smitten and engenders the trust of both families for a betrothal, yet Mary holds back, cherishing a sense of greater destiny. Escaping a near rape by a Greek man by the river, Mary then receives the angel’s message that she will bear an extraordinary son, despite never having known a man; the sadly unwed Mary must return to Joseph, who repudiates her until he, too, is visited in a dream by an angel directing him on the honorable course. With Herod’s decree that everyone return to their hometowns to register for the census, Joseph and the near-term Mary set off on their arduous and momentous journey to Bethlehem. Berg handles the gospel passages with a tender reverence. –Publishers Weekly.

Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas
by Ace Collins [Music 782.28 Col]

Behind the Christmas songs we love to sing lie fascinating stories that will enrich your holiday celebration. Taking you inside the nativity of over thirty favorite songs and carols, Ace Collins introduces you to people you’ve never met, stories you’ve never heard, and meanings you’d never have imagined. The next time you and your family sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” you’ll have a new understanding of its message and popular roots. You’ll discover how “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” with its sublime lyrics and profound theology, helped usher in a quiet revolution in worship. You’ll learn the strange history of the haunting and powerful “O Holy Night,” including the song’s surprising place in the history of modern communications. And you’ll step inside the life of Mark Lowry and find out how he came to pen the words to the contemporary classic “Mary, Did You Know?” Still other songs such as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” trace back to mysterious origins–to ninth-century monks, nameless clergy, and unknown commoners of ages past. Joining hands with such modern favorites as “White Christmas” and “The Christmas Song,” they are part of the legacy of inspiration, faith, tears, love, and spiritual joy that is Christmas. From the rollicking appeal of “Jingle Bells” to the tranquil beauty of “Silent Night,” the great songs of Christmas contain messages of peace, hope, and truth. Each in its own way expresses a facet of God’s heart and celebrates the birth of his greatest gift to the world–Jesus, the most wonderful Christmas Song of all.

Christmas with Paula Deen : Recipes and Stories From my Favorite Holiday
by Paula Deen [641.568 Dee]

“I’ve gone through all my books and put together this collection of my most treasured recipes and memories for the holiday season to share with you…You’ll find a few new dishes, a sprinkling of new holiday stories, and some family pictures you might not have seen before.”There’s no holiday Paula Deen loves better than Christmas, when she opens her home to family and friends, and traditions old and new make the days merry and bright. Filled with Paula’s trademark Southern charm and happy reminiscences of Yuletide seasons past, Christmas with Paula Deen is a collection of beloved holiday recipes and stories interspersed with cherished family photographs. Included are Paula’s most requested homemade gifts of food; a collection of cookies sure to become your family’s favorites; easy dishes for a Christmas breakfast or brunch that will let you enjoy the food and your guests; impressive fare for Christmas dinner and holiday entertaining and, of course, spectacular cakes, puddings, pies, and other sweet things.”So Merry Christmas, y’all, and best dishes and best wishes from me and my family to yours.” – book jacket blurb.

Inventing Christmas : How our Holiday Came to Be
by Jock Elliot [394.26 ChrYe]

With charming vintage illustrations by such famous artists as Thomas Nast, Everett Shinn, Al Hirschfeld, and Arthur Rackham, “Inventing Christmas” explains how most of America’s cherished traditions evolved over the 25-year period from 1822 (when Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published) to 1848.

Fix-it and Forget-it Christmas Cookbook : 600 Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes
by Phyllis Pellman Good [641.7 Goo]

“You absolutely can make holiday meals with ease and with pleasure!” says slow-cooker champion Phyllis Pellman Good. Her latest collection, Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook: 600 Slow-Cooker Holiday Recipes, will fill your head with menu ideas, give you gentle guidance with each recipe, and deliver dishes that your friends and family will love.”Stop your fretting. Put an end to the nightmares. Get out your slow cookers!” Good urges. “These are 600 stand-out, slow-cooker recipes – all from home cooks from across the country. “These are 600 manageable, slow-cooker recipes – from cooks who want to feast with their loved ones without being exhausted and frazzled.””Most of us prepare dozens of meals during the 60 days between early November and early January. Your slow cooker and these recipes can come to your rescue – whether you’re making late suppers, family brunches, hot drinks in the afternoon, or scrumptious meals of celebration from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.” Here’s a recipe sampling: Cornish Hens with Potatoes Sausage Tortellini Soup Fruited Turkey and Yams Seafood Cheese Fondue Vanilla Steamers> Beef Stroganoff in Patty Shells Holiday Spinach and Artichoke Dip Fudgy Peanut Butter Cake A Bonus: In addition to more than 600 irresistibly delicious slow-cooker recipes, the Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook offers “Ideas for Meaningful Holidays” and “Happy Hosting Tips.” One more reason not to miss this cookbook – which will quickly become your kitchen companion! One More Thing: These recipes work at any time of the year! Don’t restrict them to your holiday table.

The Christmas Cookie Club
by Anne Pearlman

On a snowy December night, twelve women meet for a cookie exchange, where they tell stories of the cookies they baked, tales that are emblematic of the year that has just passed and focus on sisterly love and conflict, yearning for grandchildren and more.

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop
edited by Otto Penzler [813.08 Pen]

Each year, for the past seventeen years, Otto Penzler, owner of the legendary Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, has commissioned an original story by a leading mystery writer. The requirements were that it be a mystery/ crime/suspense story, that it be set during the Christmas season, and that at least some of the action must take place in The Mysterious Bookshop. These stories were then produced as pamphlets, 1,000 copies, and given to customers of the bookstore as a Christmas present. Now, all of these stories have been collected in one volume—Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop. Some of the tales are humorous, others suspenseful, and still others mystifying. This charming one-of-a-kind collection is a perfect Christmas gift, appropriate for all ages and tastes. [Check out more holiday-themed mysteries in the Mistletoe Mysteries booklist on the libraries’ BookGuide web site!]

The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book : 745 Scrumptious Recipes That Start With Refrigerated Cookie Dough, Cake Mix, Brownie Mix, or Ready-to-Eat Cereal
by Camilla V. Saulsbury [641.865 Sau]

A delectable mix of home-baked cookies, all of which begin with refrigerated cookie dough, cakes mix, and brownie mix. Also included are more than 150 no-bake cookie ideas. Some recipes are quick and easy while others result in the masterpieces that will be the envy of the local cookie swap.

Creating the Happiest of Holidays, Book 2
edited by Susan White Sullivan [745.594 Sul]

Creating the Happiest of Holidays, Book 2, continues the fun series with its second collection of more than 100 recipes and 100 craft ideas. Tempting photographs of appetizers, entrees, desserts, and foods that are perfect for gift-giving will turn the casual browser into a customer. Readers will also thrill to the creative ideas for setting a festive mood at home with ornaments and decorations. They’ll find it easy to envision themselves spreading handmade holiday cheer to family and friends with the easy-to-create Christmas gift ideas. A special section showing unique card, gift wrap and tag ideas is included so each gift can be presented with a personal touch. Creating the Happiest of Holidays, Book 2, will charm and delight with its wholesome blend of Christmas sentiment and easily accomplished crafts and recipes. Sure to become a classic!

The Mischief of the Mistletoe
by Lauren Willig

The delightful latest entry in the Pink Carnation series finds bumbling Turnip Fitzhugh in over his head when he visits sister Sally at boarding school, where a chance encounter with school mistress Arabella Dempsey lures the siblings into a complex web of espionage and derring-do. Guest appearances by Dempsey’s best friend Jane Austen and characters from previous installments of the series round out the laugh-out-loud holiday-themed romance of intrigue. Readers familiar with the series will relish this newest installment and rejoice that Turnip has finally been given his due and a wonderful foil in Arabella. While readers never feel that the espionage aspect would actually put anyone in real danger, it definitely makes for an exciting story. –Publishers Weekly.

September 16, 2010

Fatally Frosted: A Donut Shop Mystery
by Jessica Beck

A local busy body drops dead after eating one of Suzanne Hart’s treats. A forensic team soon swarms through the Donut Hearts kitchen, and suspects the worst of Suzanne. But with the help of police inspector Bishop and her ex-husband Max, Suzanne hopes to clear her name.

Life is What You Make It
by Peter Buffett [158 Buf]

From composer, musician, and philanthropist Peter Buffett comes a warm, wise, and inspirational book that asks, Which will you choose: the path of least resistance or the path of potentially greatest satisfaction? You may think that with a last name like his, Buffett has enjoyed a life of endless privilege. But the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett says that the only real inheritance handed down from his parents was a philosophy: Forge your own path in life. It is a creed that has allowed him to follow his own passions, establish his own identity, and reap his own successes. In Life Is What You Make It, Buffett expounds on the strong set of values given to him by his trusting and broadminded mother, his industrious and talented father, and the many life teachers he has met along the way. Today’s society, Buffett posits, has begun to replace a work ethic, relishing what you do, with a wealth ethic, honoring the payoff instead of the process. We confuse privilege with material accumulation, character with external validation. Yet, by focusing more on substance and less on reward, we can open doors of opportunity and strive toward a greater sense of fulfillment. In clear and concise terms, Buffett reveals a great truth: Life is random, neither fair nor unfair. From there it becomes easy to recognize the equal dignity and value of every human life-our circumstances may vary but our essences do not. We see that our journey in life rarely follows a straight line but is often met with false starts, crises, and blunders. How we push through and persevere in these challenging moments is where we begin to create the life of our dreams – from discovering our vocations to living out our bliss to giving back to others. Personal and revealing, instructive and intuitive, Life Is What You Make It is about transcending your circumstances, taking up the reins of your destiny, and living your life to the fullest.

The Power
by Rhonda Byrne [158.1 Byr]

The Power, dubbed the sequel to The Secret, is the highly anticipated follow-up revealing everything Rhonda Byrne has learned and attracted to herself since the release of The Secret in 2006. She shows how perfect health, incredible relationships, a career you love, a life filled with happiness, and the money you need to be, do, and have everything you want comes from one positive source of power.

The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases
by Michael Capuzzo [363.25 Cap]

Thrilling, true tales from the Vidocq Society, a team of the world’s finest forensic investigators whose monthly gourmet lunches lead to justice in ice-cold murders Three of the greatest detectives in the world–a renowned FBI agent turned private eye, a sculptor and lothario who speaks to the dead, and an eccentric profiler known as “the living Sherlock Holmes”-were heartsick over the growing tide of unsolved murders. Good friends and sometime rivals William Fleisher, Frank Bender, and Richard Walter decided one day over lunch that something had to be done, and pledged themselves to a grand quest for justice. The three men invited the greatest collection of forensic investigators ever assembled, drawn from five continents, to the Downtown Club in Philadelphia to begin an audacious quest: to bring the coldest killers in the world to an accounting. Named for the first modern detective, the Parisian eugene Fransois Vidocq-the flamboyant Napoleonic real-life sleuth who inspired Sherlock Holmes-the Vidocq Society meets monthly in its secretive chambers to solve a cold murder over a gourmet lunch. The Murder Room draws the reader into a chilling, darkly humorous, awe-inspiring world as the three partners travel far from their Victorian dining room to hunt the ruthless killers of a millionaire’s son, a serial killer who carves off faces, and a child killer enjoying fifty years of freedom and dark fantasy. Acclaimed bestselling author Michael Capuzzo’s brilliant storytelling brings true crime to life more realistically and vividly than it has ever been portrayed before. It is a world of dazzlingly bright forensic science; true evil as old as the Bible and dark as the pages of Dostoevsky; and a group of flawed, passionate men and women, inspired by their own wounded hearts to make a stand for truth, goodness, and justice in a world gone mad.

Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America
by Jack Rakove [973.3 Rak]

In this remarkable book, the historian Jack Rakove offers anew and revealing perspective on the men who invented America. Much has been written about the military struggle that led to independence, but Rakove is far more concerned with the intellectual one: the competing views of politics, war, diplomacy, and society that shaped the very idea of an American nation. Spanning the most crucial decades of the country’s birth, from 1772 to 1792, Revolutionaries uses the stories of famous (and not so famous) men to capture in a way no single biography ever could the intensely creative period of the Republic’s founding. Each of his portraits brims with fascinating and fresh insights: Washington as a flawed tactician but expert manager,Jack Laurens as a slave trader’s son who developed a plan to recruit black soldiers, Jefferson as a powerful critic of Europe’s social order but a voracious consumer of its culture. Rakove shakes off accepted notions of these men as godlike visionaries. We see Madison, Hamilton, Adams, and others before they were fully formed leaders, before the Republic was effectively functioning. We catch them in the act of thinking about when and how to break with Britain, how to wage a war that often seemed impossible to win, what exactly the Constitution should say and in doing so we begin to understand, perhaps for the first time, how the country came to be and why the idea of America endures.

The Search
by Nora Roberts

The #1 “New York Times”-bestselling author presents a riveting novel in which a canine search-and-rescue volunteer fights danger and finds love with a dog trainer in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. But a killer emerges out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands.

The Kill Artist
by Daniel Silva

After the assassination of his wife & son, Gabriel Allon retires from his anti-terrorist career & loses himself in his previous cover job: art restoration. But when the Palestinian terrorist responsible for the death of Gabriel’s family begins a killing spree designed to destroy Middle East peace talks, Gabriel once again slips into the shadowy world of international intrigue.

July 15, 2010 – The five One Book – One Lincoln Finalists

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery

An enthralling international bestseller. We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. René, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, René is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building’s tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence. Then there’s Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. Paloma and René hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma’s trust and to see through René’s timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

Tortilla Curtain
by T. Coraghessan Boyle

Winner of the Prix Medicis Etranger. Topanga Canyon is home to two couples on a collision course. Los Angeles liberals Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher lead an ordered sushi-and-recycling existence in a newly gated hilltop community: he a sensitive nature writer, she an obsessive realtor. Mexican illegals Candido and America Rincon desperately cling to their vision of the American Dream as they fight off starvation in a makeshift camp deep in the ravine. And from the moment a freak accident brings Candido and Delaney into intimate contact, these four and their opposing worlds gradually intersect in what becomes a tragicomedy of error and misunderstanding.

Finding Nouf
by Zoe Ferraris

A captivating page-turner that vividly evokes Saudi Arabian society and introduces an original new hero.When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing and is found drowned in the desert outside Jeddah, Nayir — a desert guide hired by her prominent family to search for her — feels compelled to find out what really happened. Gentle, hulking, conscientious Nayir soon finds himself delving into the interior life of a wealthy, protected teenage girl in one of the most rigidly segregated of Middle Eastern societies.To gain access to the world of women, Nayir realizes he will have to join forces with Katya Hijazi, a lab technician at the coroner’s office and the fiancé of Nouf ‘s brother. In the course of working with Katya and uncovering the mysteries of the dead girl’s mind, Nayir must confront his own desire for female companionship — and the limitations imposed by his beliefs. Finding Nouf offers an unprecedented glimpse of daily life in Saudi Arabia in a lyrical, character-driven, and immensely satisfying mystery. Like Mma Romotswe in Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling series, Nayir al-Sharqi is a completely new kind of detective, who is sure to captivate both our hearts and our minds.

Loving Frank
by Nancy Horan

“I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current.” So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives. In this ambitious debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. While scholars have largely relegated Mamah to a footnote in the life of America’s greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheney’s profound influence on Wright. Drawing on years of research, Horan weaves little-known facts into a compelling narrative, vividly portraying the conflicts and struggles of a woman forced to choose between the roles of mother, wife, lover, and intellectual. Horan’s Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamah’s is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novel’s stunning conclusion. Elegantly written and remarkably rich in detail, Loving Frank is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman, a national icon, and their timeless love story.

I Am a Man
by Joe Starita [Biography Standing]

In 1877, Chief Standing Bear’s Ponca Indian tribe was forcibly removed from their Nebraska homeland and marched to what was then known as Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), in what became the tribe’s own Trail of Tears. I Am a Man chronicles what happened when Standing Bear set off on a six-hundred-mile walk to return the body of his only son to their traditional burial ground. Along the way, it examines the complex relationship between the United States government and the small, peaceful tribe and the legal consequences of land swaps and broken treaties, while never losing sight of the heartbreaking journey the Ponca endured. It is a story of survival&mdash-of a people left for dead who arose from the ashes of injustice, disease, neglect, starvation, humiliation, and termination. On another level, it is a story of life and death, despair and fortitude, freedom and patriotism. A story of Christian kindness and bureaucratic evil. And it is a story of hope&mdash-of a people still among us today, painstakingly preserving a cultural identity that had sustained them for centuries before their encounter with Lewis and Clark in the fall of 1804. Before it ends, Standing Bear’s long journey home also explores fundamental issues of citizenship, constitutional protection, cultural identity, and the nature of democracy — issues that continue to resonate loudly in twenty-first-century America. It is a story that questions whether native sovereignty, tribal-based societies, and cultural survival are compatible with American democracy. Standing Bear successfully used habeas corpus, the only liberty included in the original text of the Constitution, to gain access to a federal court and ultimately his freedom. This account aptly illuminates how the nation’s delicate system of checks and balances worked almost exactly as the Founding Fathers envisioned, a system arguably out of whack and under siege today. Joe Starita’s well-researched and insightful account reads like historical fiction as his careful characterizations and vivid descriptions bring this piece of American history brilliantly to life.

May 20, 2010

Dressed to Keel
by Candy Calvert [ not in the libraries’ collection — try our InterLibrary Loan service ]

On a fall foliage cruise, Darcy Cavanaugh tries to forget her stressful job as an ER nurse and focus on the free mimosas. But relaxing proves difficult with a killer on board. Between trips to Nova Scotia and Quebec City, Darcy tries to pin the blame on the young dance host…only to learn she’s clearly out of her depth.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
by Michael Chabon

Chabon’s 2007 novel won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Poll Awards for best speculative fiction (i.e. science fiction or fantasy) novel of the year. However, it is more a hard-boiled mystery novel than it is a traditional science fiction or fantasy tome. The “speculative fiction” twist to The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is that it is set in an alternate history version of our world. The 2007 setting is Sitka, Alaska…but not the Sitka, Alaska of our world. In the 1940s of the novel, Jewish refugees from European oppression were settled in the Southeastern most peninsula of Alaska, with a 60-year agreement allowing them to build a new homeland. Fast-forward to 2007. Our protagonist is Meyer Landsman, an alcoholic, suicidally-depressed cop, who’s called to another room in the flophouse he lives in to investigate a fellow resident’s death. With his department facing Reversion — the date by which, most likely, most of the Jews will be forced to leave Sitka so that it can be turned back over to the native population — Landsman is told not to pursue his investigation into the murder. Bucking authority (especially in the form of his ex-wife, now his commanding officer), Landsman and his half-Jewish/half-Tlingit partner, Berko Shemets decide to investigate anyway, and get caught up in a maelstrom of politics, mobsters, Jewish persecution and the salvation of Landsman’s broken relationships. And, what exactly does the chess game that the murder victim was in the middle of at the time of his death have to do with it all? You’ll find the characters of this novel to be fascinating, as well as the intricate mystery plot!

Stephen Fry in America: 50 States and the Man Who Set Out to See Them All
by Stephen Fry [917.3 Fry]

The British actor/comedian/writer/intellectual drove a British taxi across the entire United States for a UK docmentary series, and this book was the tie-in volume that served as something of a trip diary. Fry has a certain fascination for the American people — he came “this close” to being born and raised in the U.S. and wanted to dispel some of the myths of how the rest of the world sees the average American citizen. On his trip across our country, he visits iconic American cultural sites but also local curiosities…frequently spending the day working alongside average citizens at their jobs (much like Mike Rowe on television’s Dirty Jobs series). Fry has a wry, sardonic and dry wit, infused with intelligence, but also with a definite liberal, anti-established-religion bent, and he sometimes gets on an editorial jag that can get tiresome. However, he’s also passionately in love with the people and geography of this country, and to see things from an outsider’s perspective that we often take for granted is quite refreshing.

North by Northwestern: A Seafaring Family on Deadly Alaskan Waters
by Captain Sig Hansen and Mark Sundeen [Biography Hansen]

Fans of the Discovery Channel series “Deadliest Catch” will immediately recognize the name of Captain Sig Hansen, skipper of the crab boat Northwestern. Known for his often dour nature, tart “Sig-isms” (a typical reflection on fishing and life: “It’s either a slap in the face, or a kick in the pants”), and ferocious work ethic, Hansen descends from a long line of Norwegian fisherman. Though many fans will pick up this book to read about the current crew of the Northwestern, they will be riveted by the excellent writing and harrowing history of Alaskan crab fishing in general, and the Hansen family in particular. Even those who don’t know a thing about the show will find this tale of seafaring fortune-hunters and the dangers they face exciting.

Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life
by Peter Mayle [914.55 May]

In this sequel to her New York Times bestsellers Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany, the celebrated “bard of Tuscany” (New York Times) lyrically chronicles her continuing, two decades-long love affair with Tuscany’s people, art, cuisine, and lifestyle. Frances Mayes offers her readers a deeply personal memoir of her present-day life in Tuscany, encompassing both the changes she has experienced since Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany appeared, and sensuous, evocative reflections on the timeless beauty and vivid pleasures of Italian life. Among the themes Mayes explores are how her experience of Tuscany dramatically expanded when she renovated and became a part-time resident of a 13th century house with a stone roof in the mountains above Cortona, how life in the mountains introduced her to a “wilder” side of Tuscany–and with it a lively engagement with Tuscany’s mountain people. Throughout, she reveals the concrete joys of life in her adopted hill town, with particular attention to life in the piazza, the art of Luca Signorelli (Renaissance painter from Cortona), and the pastoral pleasures of feasting from her garden. Moving always toward a deeper engagement, Mayes writes of Tuscan icons that have become for her storehouses of memory, of crucible moments from which bigger ideas emerged, and of the writing life she has enjoyed in the room where Under the Tuscan Sun began. With more on the pleasures of life at Bramasole, the delights and challenges of living in Italy day-to-day and favorite recipes, Every Day in Tuscany is a passionate and inviting account of the richness and complexity of Italian life.

Fever Dream
by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The next installment in Preston and Child’s series featuring FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is yet another well-crafted, fast-paced thriller. The usual cast of characters, and a few surprising new ones, are around to help Pendergast solve a mystery from his own past, which could have a devastating emotional impact on the usually imperturbable detective.

The Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back
by Kevin Salwen and Hannah Salwen [177 Sal]

Kevin and Joan Salwen were living the American Dream. Good-paying jobs. Large, historic home in Atlanta, Georgia. Two kids in private schools. While driving home one day, daugher Hannah noticed a homeless man. Turning the other direction, Hannah saw a huge SUV. She commented, “If that person had a smaller car, then that person could have a better life.” Hannah challenged her family to “really give back and make a difference.” This challenge ultimately led the family to the collective decision to sell their mansion and donate half the proceeds to charity. In “The Power of Half,” Kevin and Hannah Salwen describe how their family made such a drastic decision and the impact it has had on their lives.

The Time of My Life
by Patrick Swayze and Lisi Niemi [Biography Swayze]

The dancer/actor recounts how he fell in love with his wife, Lisa Niemi. He effectively describes the physical and mental demands of being a professional dancer. He also shares behind-the-scenes stories about the making of several of his films. Although Patrick Swayze passed away following a heroic battle with cancer, as you read this autobiography, you will feel as though this intriguing man and excellent storyteller is right next to you sharing the story of his life.

March 25, 2010

Dogscaping: Creating the Perfect Back Yard and Garden for You and Your Dog
by Tom Barthel [635.048 qBar]

Dogscaping is the first hands-on guide to provide dog lovers with information on how to reclaim their land from their four-pawed digging machines. This new book combines green gardening techniques and design tips for dog lovers to create the yard they have always wanted, while also providing a safe and beautiful place where their dog can just be a dog.

Beginner’s Greek
by James Collins

Peter Russell is a deeply romantic guy who believes the woman of his dreams is destined to sit next to him on an airplane. Holly is a pretty, strawberry blonde woman who reads Thomas Mann for pleasure. As Pete sits next to her, he falls deeply in love, and asks for her telephone number. Later that night in his hotel room, he discovers that the page from her book that contained her telephone number is gone.

The Falcon Guides series
by [various authors with various call numbers]

Excellent series of outdoor guides for hiking, biking, camping and fishing aficionadoes. The Falcon Guides present detailed descriptions of all hikes in specific park regions, giving elevation gain, terrain challenges, topographic maps, hints about flora and fauna you are likely to encounter, and practical advice about what the best times of day are for specific trails (for parking and/or photographic needs). Though there are no volumes in the series for Nebraska attractions, readers who like vacationing and exercising in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Grand Canyon, or any of this countries other well-known parks will find volumes covering your favorite locales. The publisher also puts out a Best Day Hikes series of short books that “hit the highlights” of the most recommended hikes/walks in many wilderness areas around the country. These “fit in your back pocket” volumes are excellent companions to vacationers looking for simple hiking route suggestions. Falcon Guides also has a few “city walk” volumes, taking the same approach to urban walks as they do to wilderness hikes. The libraries own the Chicago and Boston volumes of this series.

Perennial Companions: 100 Dazzling Plant Combinations for Every Season
by Tom Fischer, with photographs by Richard and Adrian Bloom [635.932 Fie]

Fischer’s handy little gardening volume presents 100 sets of perennial plant combinations that work well together, using criteria such as bloom colors, light and water needs, height and spread expectations and growing zone hardiness. The beautiful color photos that comprise 50% of the content of each entry will inspire you to consider long-range gardening plans that will beautify your lawn and gardens for years to come.

The Spellman Files
by Lisa Lutz

Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors — but the upshot is she’s good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people’s privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman. Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who’s become addicted to “recreational surveillance”); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed “Lost Weekends”). But when Izzy’s parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy’s new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there’s a hitch: she must take one last job before they’ll let her go — a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life. Should appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

The Savage Garden
by Mark Mills

A remarkable novel set in the Tuscan hills: the story of two murders, four hundred years apart-and the ties that bind them together. Adam Banting, a somewhat aimless young scholar at Cambridge University, is called to his professor’s office one afternoon and assigned a special summer project: to write a scholarly monograph about a famous garden built in the 1500s. Dedicated to the memory of Signor Docci’s dead wife, the garden is a mysterious world of statues, grottoes, meandering rills, and classical inscriptions. But during his three-week sojourn at the villa, Adam comes to suspect that clues to a murder are buried in the strange iconography of the garden: the long-dead Signor Docci most likely killed his wife and filled her memorial garden with pointers as to both the method and the motive of his crime. As the mystery of the garden unfolds, Adam finds himself drawn into a parallel intrigue. Through his evolving relationship with the lady of the house-the ailing, seventy-something Signora Docci-he finds clues to yet another possible murder, this one much more recent. The signora’s eldest son was shot by Nazi officers on the third floor of the villa, and her husband, now dead, insisted that the area be sealed and preserved forever. Like the garden, the third-floor rooms are frozen in time. Delving into his subject, Adam begins to suspect that his summer project might be a setup. Is he really just the naive student, stumbling upon clues, or is Signora Docci using him to discover for herself the true meaning of the villa’s murderous past?

Grocery Gardening: Planting, Preparing and Preserving Fresh Food
by Jean Ann VanKrevelen [635 Van]

Grocery Gardening combines wit, wisdom and well-researched information for planning and planting your food garden It includes more than 25 fruit, vegetable and herb recommendations, with garden planning, planting, and harvesting information, and healthy recipes for fresh additions to every meal. In addition to tips on knowing when to pick your home grown vegetables, the authors offer advice on how to select the freshest produce at your local market and select complementary ingredients to combine with your home-grown edibles. Jean Ann Van Krevelen together with food and gardening experts encourage gardeners and non-gardener’s alike to plan meals based on what is in season. Whether you buy local or grow your own, the Grocery Gardeningrecipes will delight your family with its seasonal freshness. Also included is a chapter on preserving your harvest, with tips for freezing, drying, canning and preserving.

Country Living Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old Fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life
by Susan Waggoner [640 Wag]

Waggoner has compiled more of a guide to simplifying household chores than a decorating book. Advice is given on controlling clutter, cleaning house, doing laundry, cooking and baking, gardening, and using “green” ideas in the home.

January 21, 2010

Sworn to Silence
by Linda Castillo

This is the first installment in a new mystery series by Linda Castillo, who has published several romance novels prior to this book. It is a fast-paced, well-written thriller, with a very unusual sleuth at its heart. Raised Amish near the small Ohio town of Painter’s Mill, Kate Burkholder is now the town’s chief of police. Part of what makes her so effective as police chief is her ability to bridge the gap between the modern, English-speaking world, and the closed, traditional Amish community, whose members speak a German dialect as their first language. When a young woman is found murdered, Kate must face the terrors and secrets of her own past to solve the case. Of course, there are complications, especially when some of her superiors decide to bring in outside investigators who quickly threaten Kate’s authority. The murders and crime scenes are described in great, and grisly, detail, so this is not exactly a good choice for cozy readers. However, if you like your mysteries a little more hard-boiled, this is a terrific series debut, with a second title, “Pray for Silence” already scheduled to be released later this year.

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate
by Gary Chapman [646.78 Cha]

Through reading this book, you can learn about the five “love languages” author Gary Chapman has identified. By figuring out the “love language” of your partner, you can more effectively express your love to that person. Likewise, if you can identify your own “love language,” you can figure out what it is that you need to keep your own love tank full.

Pirate Latitudes
by Michael Crichton

Crichton, who died in 2008, was known primarily for such high-tech thrillers as Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain. This new novel, found in manuscript form among his papers, will come as a bit of a surprise to many of his fans. It is, of all things, a pirate novel. Set in 1665, it tells the story of Captain Charles Hunter, a privateer who’s hired by the governor of Jamaica’s Port Royal to steal a Spanish galleon and its cargo of gold treasure. Don’t expect to see Jack Sparrow in this story of pirates of the Caribbean, though: Crichton doesn’t play his pirates for laughs. And this is no typical pirate adventure, either: it’s actually a caper novel posing as a high-seas adventure. All the key caper-novel elements are here: the target, the mastermind, the plan, the motley crew, the ruthless villain, the gadgets, the twist, and the turncoat. Crichton keeps us in a constant state of suspense, never revealing quite what his hero, Captain Hunter, has up his sleeve, and the novel ends most unexpectedly. Pirate fans will love the book for its flashy characters and historical authenticity. Crime fans will enjoy the caper-novel structure and the way the author keeps them on their toes. If this really is Crichton’s final book, it’s a splendid send-off: something new, different, and daring. — Booklist Review

The Strain
by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Director Del Toro (who won an Oscar for Pan’s Labyrinth ) makes a dramatic splash in his fiction debut, the first volume in a vampires vs. humanity trilogy, coauthored with Hogan (Prince of Thieves ). Just as a jumbo jet on a flight from Germany to New York is touching down at JFK, something goes terribly wrong. When Ephraim Goodweather, of the Centers for Disease Control, investigates the darkened plane, he finds all but four passengers and crew dead, drained of blood. Despite Goodweather’s efforts to keep the survivors segregated, they get discharged into the general population. Soon after, the corpses of the tragedy’s victims disappear. The epidemiologist begins to credit the wild stories of Abraham Setrakian, an elderly pawnbroker who’s the book’s Van Helsing figure, and concludes that a master vampire has arrived in the U.S. The authors maintain the suspense and tension throughout in a tour de force reminiscent of Whitley Strieber’s early work. — Publisher’s Weekly Review

Finding Nouf
by Zoe Ferraris

A captivating page-turner that vividly evokes Saudi Arabian society and introduces an original new hero.When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing and is found drowned in the desert outside Jeddah, Nayir-a desert guide hired by her prominent family to search for her-feels compelled to find out what really happened. Gentle, hulking, conscientious Nayir soon finds himself delving into the interior life of a wealthy, protected teenage girl in one of the most rigidly segregated of Middle Eastern societies.To gain access to the world of women, Nayir realizes he will have to join forces with Katya Hijazi, a lab technician at the coroner’s office and the fiancée of Nouf ‘s brother. In the course of working with Katya and uncovering the mysteries of the dead girl’s mind, Nayir must confront his own desire for female companionship-and the limitations imposed by his beliefs.”Finding Nouf” offers an unprecedented glimpse of daily life in Saudi Arabia in a lyrical, character-driven, and immensely satisfying mystery. Like Mma Romotswe in Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling series, Nayir al-Sharqi is a completely new kind of detective, who is sure to captivate both our hearts and our minds.

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England
by Ian Mortimer [942.03 Mor]

Most people dream of traveling back in time, and not a small number of them would probably like to visit “Merry Olde England” in the days of knights, when the great cathedrals were newly-built. Ian Mortimer has written just the book for those wishing to turn the clock back-way back-to thirteenth-century Britain. What makes this book so different from other histories of this period, and such fun to read, is that Mortimer has written it much like a modern travel guide. He describes in detail the sights, sounds, and, perhaps most memorably, smells that a visitor to medieval England would encounter. He doesn’t sugar-coat the lives that the people of this era lived-there is much here that may shock the reader of today. There are also pleasant surprises, and memorable tales. This book is getting some very good reviews, and that’s because it’s a rare thing-a non-fiction book, full of well-researched information, that’s easy to read and really seems to transport the reader to another time and place.

The Last Lecture
by Randy Pautsch [158.1 Pau]

When professor Randy Pausch learned that he was dying of cancer, he committed himself to living the remainder of his life as fully as possible. In “The Last Lecture,” he shares his thoughts about life in an upbeat, entertaining, and inspirational way.

The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie and a World Transformed
by Judy Shepard [364.152 She]

Matthew Shepard was murdered in 1998. His name is now synonymous with gay rights in the US. In “The Meaning of Matthew,” his mother shares what it was like for her and her family to go through that tragic event.

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step in Kathryn Stockett’s New York Times bestselling debut, The Help . . .Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can look like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. and why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times, and sometimes lines are made to be crossed. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women – mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends – view one another. A deeply moving book filled with poignancy, humour, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

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