Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Walk, hike, trek or stroll

Exercise doesn't have to be complicated to be beneficial. Something as simple as a brisk walk will benefit both mind and body. Walking helps to maintain a healthy weight, strengthen bones, lift your mood and recently it has become a popular subject for books.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce is a gentle charmer full of British quirkiness and certain to make you laugh and cry. Harold Fry is painfully shy and recently retired from his job as a brewery salesman when he receives a letter from Queenie Hennessy a friend from his past. Queenie is dying of cancer and writes to say goodbye.  Harold becomes convinced that if he walks the 600+ miles to see Queenie he can save her life. If you prefer nonfiction try, Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is a candid and inspiring memoir of a woman reeling after her mother's death and a string of bad life choices.  Hoping to get her life back on track, Stayed begins a 1,100+ mile solo trek from California through Oregon to Washington. Both of these books would make great book discussion choices. Enjoy the journey!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The British Monarchy in Fiction

With all of the talk about the royal baby over the last week, I was reminded that I've been meaning to look for some books on the history of England and more specifically, British monarchs. Here is a list of popular novels about some of the more notorious British monarchs and their place in history.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
A stylistically complex and detailed look into the life and times of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII in the 1520s, in particular the events leading up to the King's marriage to Anne Boleyn and the role Cromwell played in those events. If you like Wolf Hall, you might want to read the sequel Bring Up the Bodies.
Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
A fictional portrait of Lady Jane Grey, the great-niece of Henry VIII, follows her turbulent life against the backdrop of Tudor power politics and religious upheaval, from her youth, to her nine-day reign as Queen of England, to its tragic aftermath.

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

A vivid fictional portrait of the tumultuous early life of Queen Elizabeth I describes her perilous path to the throne of England and the scandal, political intrigues, and religious turmoil she confronted along the way, from the deaths of her parents, Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, to the fanaticism of her sister, Mary I.

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

The first in the popular series of historical novels feature the consorts and descendants of King Henry VIII, as well as the king himself, in their romantic and political pursuits in the Tudor court.

The Autobiography of Henry VIII With Notes By His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George

When Henry VIII becomes king, he is handsome and trusting, but the king's jester, Will, watches him become cruel and suspicious, as people try to control him.

Other authors to check out for British Royalty fiction: Jean Plaidy, Ford Maddox Ford, Sharon Kay Penman

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Here's The Buzzzzzz.......

Every once in a while I see an article in the paper (yes, I still read the newspaper) about the decline in the number of bees in the world and the possibly dire consequences if this should continue.  This got me thinking about beekeeping and beekeepers, and I realized I had read several books in recent years in which beekeepers played a prominent role.  Here are a few of those titles along with several I haven't yet read.  Who knows, maybe this will spark your interest in the ancient art of apiculture, which is thought to have developed over 15,000 years ago.

The Honey Thief by Elizabeth Graver

Tells the story of Miriam, a young widow, and her adolescent daughter, Eva, whose habitual stealing has forced them to leave New York City in search of a normal life.

Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh
A third-generation beekeeper who relates better to the constant companions in his hives than most people must come to terms with the loss of his long-time friend, Claire, who was killed during a burglary gone awry.

Tin City by David Housewright

Asked to discover what has been killing his friend's honeybees, Twin Cities private detective Mac McKenzie finds himself deep in a case involving a vicious thug who mysteriously vanishes, irate federal agents, rape, and murder.

Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

After her "stand-in mother," a bold black woman named Rosaleen, insults the three biggest racists in town, Lily Owens joins Rosaleen on a journey to Tiburon, South Carolina, where they are taken in by three black, bee-keeping sisters.

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King

When Mary Russell meets famous detective Sherlock Holmes, she discovers that he is also a beekeeper. Soon she finds herself on the trail of kidnappers and discovers a plot to kill both Holmes and herself.

Beeline to Trouble by Hannah Reed

When one of her sister's guests drops dead during an afternoon tour of her hives, beekeeper Story Fischer stands accused of the crime and must comb through the evidence to get herself out of this sticky situation.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Back to the Beginning: Chicago Silent Film Festival

Want to go back to the movies' beginning? When the film stars were Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow, Harold Lloyd, Marion Davies, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks? Did you like the Academy Award winning movie The Artist?

The Silent Film Society of Chicago is holding their 2013 Silent Summer Film Festival at the historic Des Plaines Theatre. The festival starts July 19th and continues on Friday nights through July and August. Each film has a live theater organ accompaniment so you can step back in time and view the films as they were originally shown. Ticket information and the film selection is listed here.

For more about silent movies and their stars try these titles:

Silent Movies by Neil Sinyard

Speaking of the Silents: First Ladies of the Screen by Willam M. Drew

Or how about viewing some of the silent movies on DVD that the library carries?
Take a peek and see the history of the movies from a different perspective.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Guess What! New Rowling Book Already Here!

We didn't know either. . .she has already written it and it has been in bookstores since April!

J. K. Rowling has been unmasked as the author of The Cuckoo's Calling, a crime novel following the trail of private eye Cormoran Strike as he investigates the suicide of a supermodel. Little Brown Publishing released the debut detective novel by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym), in April to a warm critical reception. Publisher's Weekly wrote, "Galbraith combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime in his stellar debut."

How did this happen you ask?  Well, a single tweet by a colleague of an arts editor for the Sunday Times commented that the writing was too good and too sophisticated to be a debut novel. Then, an anonymous user replied that it wasn't a first appearance novel and that it had been written by the experienced author, J. K. Rowling. And so went the unraveling of Robert Galbraith. It appears that Rowling is a fan of the pen name since the name J. K. Rowling is also a pseudonym standing for "Joanne Kathleen."

Rowley's book was immediately well-received and shot to the top of Amazon's bestsellers list. A reprinting is already in progress which will add Rowling's name to the "About the Author" page.  Another Robert Galbraith book is scheduled for a summer 2014 release and will undoubtedly make a much grander entrance with much more media attention.

Reserve GPL's copy today and while you're waiting you can pass the time with Rowley's first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, which is very different from the Harry Potter series that made her rich and famous. It is about the early death of a small town councilman which reveals deep-rooted conflicts in the seemingly idyllic community of Pagford, which rapidly deteriorates in the face of cultural disputes, generation clashes, and a volatile election.

Hope you enjoy both of these titles this summer!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Forthcoming Fiction for August

Here are some titles coming out this August. You can reserve these by going to our Online Catalog or by calling the Reader Services Desk at 847-729-7500 x7600.

Gone with the Woof by Laurien Berenson
Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen
A Spider in the Cup by Barbara Cleverly
Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook
The Whole Enchilada: a Novel of Suspense by Diane Mott Davidson
Undead and Unsure by Maryjanice Davidson
Sweet Thunder by Ivan Doig
Cat in an Alien X-Ray by Carole Nelson Douglas
The Kill List by Frederich Forsyth
Under a Texas Sky by Dorothy Garlock
Hotshot by Julie Garwood
The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind
The Last Witness by W.E.B. Griffin
Runaway Man: A Mystery by David Handler
The Beast by Faye Kellerman
Tamarack County by William Kent Krueger
Rose Harbor in Bloom by Debbie Macomber
Little Black Book of Murder by Nancy Martin
Declan's Cross by Carla Neggers
Mistress by James Patterson
How the Light Gets In: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
Blind Justice: A William Monk Novel by Anne Perry
Bones of the Lost: a Temperance Brennan Novel by Kathy Reichs
The Last Kiss Goodbye: a Charlotte Stone Novel by Karen Robards
Tragic by Robert Tanenbaum
A Question of Honor: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd
Compound Fractures by Stephen White

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fly Me to the Moon: the Gals They Left Behind

I'm not sure what it is about July, but I always think July = the Moon Landing. It was on July 20, 1969 to be precise.  Such an adventurous time! Was Neil Armstrong going to disappear in Moon dust? Would they be able to come back to earth? These were questions that were debated before and during the mission.

But what if that spaceman was your husband or Dad and you were waiting for them to come home? Lily Koppel's book The Astronaut Wives Club tells the other side of the story - from the wives' perspective. They too, had a part to play in the space race. They got to be involved in a lot of the PR, whether they wanted to or not. They had to present the perfect home and family life to LIFE magazine writers and photographers even if that was fiction.

Based on extensive interviews with the wives and a vast amount of research, Koppel presents an entertaining and thought provoking picture of these women who went from being military wives on desolate air bases to having tea with Jackie Kennedy in the White House. And all of this was taking place during the turbulent 1960's and 70's. Definitively an inspiring story of the women who helped make history and the space race happen - even if it was mostly behind the scenes. I highly recommend it.

Other books and movies that mention the astronaut's wives:

Tom Wolfe's book The Right Stuff does mention them - but only in passing. The Right Stuff movie does a better job at giving one visual clues as to the couples' relationships.

The HBO television series called From the Earth to the Moon has one whole episode devoted to the 'original wives club.' This is a great series produced by Tom Hanks and Ron Howard, based on the book by Andrew Chaikin called A Man on the Moon.

And then there is James Lovell's book - Lost Moon : the Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13. With his co-writer Jeffrey Kluger, Lovell has written a great and suspense filled non-fiction book. You know that they make it home. He wrote the book! But when reading this account, you are still holding your breath because it was just so close to NOT having been a successful mission. Houston, we have a problem - indeed! And all the while Marilyn Lovell is waiting at their house in Houston with friends and family wondering if she will ever see her husband again. Marilyn's story is also featured in Koppel's book, and is presented in the movie Apollo 13. Read the book and then watch the movie.

So if you happen to look up and see the big full moon around July 22, give a big 'thank you' to those brave men and women who took up the space race challenge.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Teen Summer Sizzlers: Great Books to Bring to the Beach

Looking for a great read to relax with on a sandy beach this Summer?  These Teen Summer Sizzlers will make you long for those warm sunny days!  All books are in the Teen Scene. 

Book JacketThe Au Pairs
Melissa de la Cruz

Three teenage girls from different backgrounds work for a summer in the Hamptons as au pairs for a wealthy family, and in spite of many ups and downs, all three end up changing for the better.  First in the Au Pairs series.

Book JacketJersey Angel
Beth Ann Bauman

Shapely seventeen-year-old Angel Cassonetti, who lives with her younger siblings and single mother in a house at the Jersey Shore, finds it hard to stay away from ex-boyfriend Joey Sardone

Book Jacket
The Moon and More
Sarah Dessen

During her last summer at home before leaving for college, Emaline begins a whirlwind romance with Theo, an assistant documentary filmmaker who is in town to make a movie.

Book JacketNantucket Blue
Leila Howland

Seventeen-year-old Cricket Thompson is planning on spending a romantic summer on Nantucket Island near her long time crush, Jay--but the death of her best friend's mother, and her own sudden intense attraction to her friend's brother Zach are making this summer complicated.

Book Jacket
We'll Always Have Summer
Jenny Han

The summer after her first year of college, Isobel "Belly" Conklin is faced with a choice between Jeremiah and Conrad Fisher, brothers she has always loved, when Jeremiah proposes marriage and Conrad confesses that he still loves her

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Visit With Carl Hiaasen

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Carl Hiaasen and was smitten!  He is a funny and charming man, full of life, and thoroughly engaging – just like all of his books.  The good news is that he’s got a new novel out – Bad Monkey – and it’s just in time for beach reading!  In typical Hiaasen fashion and humor, Bad Monkey looks like it will deliver with all the elements that make Hiaasen so entertaining to read.  There’s an arm in police officer Andrew Yancy’s freezer, and he’s trying to figure out how and why it was separated from its owner.  His investigation leads him on the trail of the new widow of the victim (his ex-lover), and a host of other likely suspects.  Hiaasen is a master at spinning incredible mysteries that are hilarious and dead-on in his interpretation of the corrupt and greedy people in the world.  As usual in all Hiaasen’s books, Florida is the backdrop for Bad Monkey, but this story also ventures into the Bahamas as the tale is told. 
If you like to read mysteries and haven’t read one of his books, put one on your nightstand list!  Hiaasen also writes books for children, all set in Florida and with conservation of nature as a theme.  Notice that his adult books have two words in the titles, and his children’s books have only one word.  He told me that was by design because he didn’t want people to be confused which books were which.  I highly recommend the children’s books as well.  They are smart, engaging, and hilariously funny – just like his adult books.

Other Hiaasen Books You May Enjoy
Star Island (2010) - Meet twenty-two-year-old Cherry Pye (née Cheryl Bunterman), a pop star since she was fourteen--and about to attempt a comeback from her latest drug-and-alcohol disaster. Now meet Cherry again: in the person of her "undercover stunt double," Ann DeLusia. Ann portrays Cherry whenever the singer is too "indisposed"--meaning wasted--to go out in public. And it is Ann-mistaken-for-Cherry who is kidnapped from a South Beach hotel by obsessed paparazzo Bang Abbott. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)
Nature Girl (2006) - Honey Santana--impassioned, willful, possibly bipolar, self-proclaimed "queen of lost causes"--has a scheme to help rid the world of irresponsibility, indifference, and dinnertime sales calls. She's taking rude, gullible Relentless, Inc., telemarketer Boyd Shreave and his less-than-enthusiastic mistress, Eugenie--the fifteen-minute-famous girlfriend of a tabloid murderer--into the wilderness of Florida's Ten Thousand Islands for a gentle lesson in civility. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)
Sick Puppy (2005) - Eco-terrorists, evil politicians, a millionaire obsessed with Barbie, and an ex-governor named Skink are just a few of the characters who populate this comic novel of politics as unusual in Florida. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)

And now for his children’s books (adults will love these, too!)
Chomp (2012) - When the difficult star of the reality television show "Expedition Survival" disappears while filming an episode in the Florida Everglades using animals from the wildlife refuge run by Wahoo Crane's family, Wahoo and classmate Tuna Gordon set out to find him while avoiding Tuna's gun-happy father.  (excerpt from Bibliocommons)
Scat (2009) - Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher goes missing. (excerpt from Bibliocommons)
Flush (2005) - With their father jailed for sinking a river boat, Noah Underwood and his younger sister, Abbey, must gather evidence that the owner of this floating casino is emptying his bilge tanks into the protected waters around their Florida Keys home.  (excerpt from Bibliocommons)


Monday, July 1, 2013

Independence Day


The Fourth of July is upon us, and soon red, white and blue will fill the skies, punctuated by loud booms and hissing. The sky is not the only place fireworks show up, though. They can be found in novels in which Independence Day can take on deeper meanings:

Richard Ford - Independence Day (1995)

Divorced New Jersey real estate agent Frank Bascombe has high expectations for the upcoming Fourth of July. Frank's day, however, does not turn out as planned, and Independence Day takes on the mystery of life’s surprising twists and turns.

Charles BaxterFirst Light (1987)

Baxter’s first novel begins with a Fourth of July celebration in this story about an astrophysicist and her brother, a once promising athlete who is now a car salesman. Chapter by chapter, the story moves back in time through the siblings' college years, adolescence and finally, childhood. Baxter’s unusual strategy helps readers understand the events that shaped their lives.

Jill McCorkle - Ferris Beach (1990)

This coming of age novel is set in a small southern town. Kate and Misty grow up together, sharing secrets about everything until a fateful Fourth of July when their lives change forever.

Garrison Keillor – Liberty: A Lake Wobegon Novel  (2008)
A national holiday in Lake Wobegon is always gaudy and joyful. But when the major planner behind the Fourth of July parade and the twenty-four-year-old girl who dresses up as the Statue of Liberty develop a close "friendship," rumors begin to fly.

Jeffrey StepakoffFireworks Over Toccoa (2010)

 An unexpected discovery takes eighty-four-year-old Lily Woodward to 1945, and the five days that forever changed her life. Married for only a week before her husband was sent to fight in WWII, Lily is anxious for his return and the chance to begin their life together. The small Georgia town of Toccoa plans to honor the soldiers with a big celebration, and Italian immigrant Jake Russo, also back from war, is responsible for the elaborate fireworks display. But after a chance encounter, he steals Lily's heart and soul.