Thursday, May 11, 2017

The riches of May

Although I never have a problem finding something good to read, this month seems to be overflowing with appealing new books--based on reviews, blurbs, and covers.  Look at this cover for The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan--it just begs to be read.

But then there is this cover for Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.  Don't let the rather drab design fool you--this story will knock your socks off! I read this book as an advance copy, and I couldn't put it down.  Eleanor Oliphant hasn't always been completely fine--or even close to fine, and debut author Gail Honeyman leads us on an amazing journey of transformation. A little bit like Don Tillman in The Rosie Project, Eleanor is outside the norm in her social relations, both lonely and awkward but also scarred inside and out. Her commentary on the world is often hilarious but reveals her deep isolation from others. Her developing relationships with others is touching, and the arrival of a cat provides comic relief. This is up-to-the-minute for the setting and definitely with a Glaswegian edge (the drinking!), and it is going to be a big hit with book groups.

Laura McBride's second novel came out the 2nd of May, and it is another book that you shouldn't miss.  It features the stories of four different women in Las Vegas who have all been to the Midnight Room at one of Vegas' older casinos.  'Round Midnight joins these stories in amazing ways.


Jo Nesbo releases a new novel this month in the Harry Hole (pronounced "hoo-la) crime series, shortly before a movie starring Michael Fassbender hits the theaters.  The Thirst is suspense fiction for readers who like their stories dark and gritty.  This is the 11th in the series; the movie is based on The Snowman, the 7th in the series, and is due out in October.

Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone by Phaedra Patrick is an awakening for the title character who discovers his teenage niece on his doorstep one morning.  This unknown person--Benedict and his brother Charlie have been estranged for years--turns his life upside down.

The library's book discussion just finished reading Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.  One of the themes of the book is the challenge of dealing with a child who is (apparently) on the spectrum.  In  Benjamin Ludwig's new book, Ginny Moon, two adoptive parents help their teenage daughter with autism make sense of the world.  Called "quirky, charming...and poignant."




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Flight of Dreams

Given that I have avoided seeing the movie Titanic at all costs--I know how that story ends--it's surprising that I am so taken with Ariel Lawhon's novel, Flight of Dreams, about the final flight of the Hindenburg.  This is my second time through the book in preparation for the library's book discussions next Monday (April 3 at 6:30 pm) and again on the following Wednesday (April 12 at 8:00 am).

What is so appealing about this story of disaster? 
  • The writing is beautiful.  An example is this passage about the zeppelin flying over the Atlantic Ocean: "The slipstream moves visibly along the structure like silver ribbons in the pre-dawn light.  The sky is a perfect soft pewter gray, and the water beneath them matches as though one is reflecting the other--bands of stratus above, calm sea underneath.  The ship glides elegantly between the two, its shadow a charcoal smudge on the gentle waves below."
  • The characters are complex.  Many lives are unfolded through the story, revealed through their actions, thoughts and conversations with other crew members and passengers.  
  • There is a lot of humor.  How else can you make it though a story of imminent disaster?  
  • There is even more suspense.  Each section heading begins with a countdown to the time of the explosion--"3 Days, 6 Hours, and 8 Minutes Until the Explosion."  The first sentence alludes to a bomb.  Several characters have suspect motives.  Other characters you come to love.  Who will survive?
  • The explosion of the Hindenburg is still being  studied, and Lawhon captures the intense mystery surrounding it.  How did it happen?  Did someone cause it to happen or was it an accident of the highly unstable hydrogen gas?
  • The Hindenburg is a story of remarkable luxury.  Tickets were incredibly expensive, and travelers had the very best of everything from a specialized bar and smoking area to attentive staff.  
  • There's a lot of history here, some of which we know, and some of which is surprising.  This is a novel, though, and you'll be searching for historic information when you finish.  (You may wait until you finish, because you are too busy racing through the pages to interrupt your reading.)
If I've talked you into reading the book, pick up a copy at the library's front desk and join us for one of the discussions! 


Friday, December 23, 2016

Laura McBride has a new novel for 2017

     Laura McBride, whose novel We Are Called to Rise, captivated area readers in 2015 during the Tale for Three Counties event, has a new book due out in May 2017.  Like her first, this novel is also centered in Las Vegas.
     We Are Called to Rise was seemingly an odd choice for a one-book program that featured novels about small town life.  But, in reality, it expressed the strong sense of community that we have discovered in many of our past Tale picks, and it also was about a smaller neighborhood section of that city.  The book opened my eyes to a place that is generally misunderstood, and it highlighted the lives of people who might have been found anywhere in our country.
     I'm about halfway through the new book, and I can't put it down!  The pages keep flying by, even when it is past my usual time for bed.  I am fascinated by the characters, by the heart-aching loss of love experienced by each, and I can't wait to see how these disparate lives will intersect later in the novel--and I am sure that they will, based on how the story unfolds in We Are Called to Rise.
     Again, connections with other people are an important part of this story, and that includes relationships that are strong and ones that are broken.  What is the significance of the title?  I'm not sure about that yet, either, and I am curious to see how that plays out in the story.
     Look for the book in May--it will be on the library's New Book shelves. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Jolabokaflod
     Say what?  This Icelandic word (pronounced something like "yo-la-bow-ka-flowed") is the newest Christmas tradition at our house.  Click on the link above to see how one family started their tradition last year.  Our variation of it was a little bit easier, since the two librarians in the family oversaw the the purchase of highly recommended books for the others.  Wrap in red and white Scandinavian-style wrapping paper, add a piece of chocolate, and you have started a wonderful Christmas Eve tradition favored by the residents of one of the most literate countries in the world.
     Half the fun is discovering what book has been chosen especially for you, while the other half comes from settling in on Christmas Eve with a good book to read!  (along with that chocolate...)
     It's not too late to pull this together for this year, but if you plan ahead for next year, you could carry this out on a budget by shopping at the library's monthly used book sale.  And as mentioned in the article above, if readers in your house use the website goodreads, you could skim through their list of books "to read" to help with some suggestions.   Also, remember that the librarians at the reference desk are ready and waiting to make some reading suggestions.  If you know a book or two that were especially appealing to a particular reader, it is fairly easy to come up with a list of possible "read-alikes."  
     Hope your holidays include some good books! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I'm dreaming of ...

I'm dreaming of ... not a white Christmas (although that would be fine) but time to delve into some of the new Christmas-themed books at the library.

Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early looks like a fun mystery, especially since it's set in East Aurora, New York.  When retired police chief Hank McCall and his daughter Liz open up a new vintage toy shop, business takes an unexpected turn when a customer turns up dead in their shop.  Weapon?  A lawn dart!

Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries - Return to the Golden Age of mysteries for this collection of classic detective stories set in December.  Read stories by Dorothy Sayers, Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, and Margery Allingham.

Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier and others - The print copy is available along with a downloadable eBook from OverDrive (do you have the free app for your mobile device?).  Three mysteries by three authors all feature "killer cocktails."  It sounds like a glass of eggnog will be the perfect accompaniment to this title...

Fields Where They Lay by Timothy Hallinan - Junior Bender, burglar extraordinaire, is up to his eyeballs in shopping mall crime the week before Christmas.  This is for those readers who don't like their holiday fiction sweet and light!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Mark Twain historical novel featured in One Book One County at Lockport

In Hannibal, MO - Mark Twain Museum
     I spent last Saturday in Hannibal, MO, the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.  His home shows the reduced circumstances in which his family lived, with a comparison to the home that the girl who inspired Becky Thatcher lived in across the street.  The muddy and mighty Mississippi River, which figures so prominently in many of his stories, is just two blocks away.
     One of the things that you realize from the exhibits is what a complex person Mark Twain was and how great tragedies (including the deaths of siblings and children) affected his life.  You also get a chance here to enjoy many of his pithy and hilarious quotes from his Autobiograhy.  The man was definitely a comic genius, and snippets of those quotes as well as a running video of the Ken Burns' documentary on his life have motivated me to check these things out.

     A recent novel by Lynne Cullen, Twain's End, has also piqued my interest.  This novel is based on the 1909 marriage of Isabel Lyon and Ralph Ashcroft, who worked as Twain's personal secretary and business manager.  Twain had initially blessed the marriage, but he fired the pair one month later and wrote a long and blistering rant about them, filled with cutting remarks.  How did this happen?  Cullen imagines the relationships and events that lead up to this.
     Please note that Lynne Cullen will be in Lockport at the library next month for their One Book One County program!  It's always interesting to hear authors speak, but especially when they have based their stories on well-known figures.  How did they do they research?  How accurate is the portrayal?  How has the book been received by Twain authorities?  And what makes it a discussible read for book groups?  Cullen will be at the Lockport Public Library on Tuesday, October 25th at 6:30 pm to talk and sign copies of her book.

Friday, August 26, 2016



I've discovered that the library has loyal followers for our OverDrive download eBooks account with over 500 eBooks being checked out each month.  I generally order new books about once a month, and here are our latest titles.

The library's print copies of Daniel Silva's The Black Widow have holds them.  Here's your chance to get to the top of the list!

Daniel Silva  The Black Widow
Jacqueline Woodson  Another Brooklyn
J.D. Robb  Brotherhood in Death

James Rollins  The Bone Labyrinth
Patricia Cornwell  Depraved Heart
Elizabeth Cobbs  The Hamilton Affair  (Sept. 6)
Catherine Coulter  Insidious
Kate Angell  No Breaking My Heart
Susan Wiggs  Family Tree
Harlan Coben  Fool Me Once
Stephen King  Doctor Sleep