Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Toast to the New Year

Ring in the New Year with one of these novels inspired by spirits (without the hangover).

Happy New Year!

Midnight Champagne by A. Manette Ansay. Wedding guests offer opinions and predictions about the future of the new bride and groom--April Liesgang and Caleb Shannon, who have known each other for just three months--in a novel about the the complexities of love.

Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath. Struggling with a broken relationship, credit card bills, the FBI's inaccurate profiling computer, and a band of street thugs, Chicago Police lieutenant Jacqueline Daniels works on a serial murder case alongside her binge-eating partner, Herb. First in the Jack Daniels mysteries series.

The Martini Shot by Peter Craig. Aging action-film star Charlie West is forced to confront his demons when his illegitimate teenage son shows up in search of the father he never knew.

The Merlot Murders: a Wine Country Mystery by Ellen Crosby. Returning to her Virginia vineyard home after the unexpected death of her father, Lucie Montgomery is dismayed by her father's gambling debts, and discovers that someone had a lot to gain from her father's death and the sale of his winery.

Vodka Neat: a Faith Zanetti Thriller by Anna Blundy. Moscow correspondent Faith Zanetti is in trouble with the local authorities when her estranged husband, a Russian black marketeer, confesses to a murder that had taken place when they were married, and the police think that she had been his accomplice in a crime that she cannot recall because she had been drinking the night of the killing.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Page Turners Book Discussion Group “Best Books of 2013”

December 2nd was the last meeting of the year for the Page Turners book discussion group and what a great year we had. The group had increased attendance, a new facilitator and read books from a variety of literary genres. One of my favorite discussions, was the June selection, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes The other facilitators favorite's are listed below, I hope you enjoy the books as much as our group did. 

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The destinies of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan and a well-to-do British couple seeking to repair their tense marriage with a free vacation are joined when the couple decides to stray beyond the walls of their vacation resort on a Nigerian beach. A great story which focuses on the plight and friendship between two characters who really grip the readers' heart and in so doing challenges their conception of civility and ethical choice, as well as compassion - how much do we give away of our own lives to help others?”

Please Look after Mom by Kyong-suk Sin
A poignant story of a family's search for their missing mother, and their discovery of the desires, sorrows and secrets they never realized she hidden within. The facilitator stated, “this emotional book stimulated a good discussion on the effects of losing traditional values, the consequent guilt that family members felt about not appreciating mom’s suffering and sacrifices, and the changing roles and expectations in a suddenly modern Korea.”

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Tony Webster and his circle of friends first met Adrian Finn at school. Maybe Adrian was a little more thoughtful than the others, undoubtedly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is in middle age. He's retired, divorced from his wife and his life is quiet and unassuming.  He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is flawed. It can always throw up surprises, as an attorney's letter is about to prove. A novella that explores the reliability of one's memory, does the narrator rewrite his history so he can live with himself? A wonderful exploration into the intricacies and fragility of being human. Recommended for those who enjoy literary reads.

The Virgin of SmallPlains by Nancy Pickard
 On the night of the decade's worst blizzard, a farm boy discovers the body of a gorgeous woman in the snow. Seventeen years later, the "Virgin of Small Plains" has become a local myth. Extraordinary miracles have visited those who tend to her grave and Small Plains becomes a refuge for those hoping the Virgin will cure them. But soon strange and disturbing events unfold. What really happened seventeen years ago?  The novel stimulated discussions on the nature of good and evil and moral responsibility, and was a combination of a love story and a mystery.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


I don't know about you, but I'm inundated by cookies - at home, at work, at friends' homes, everywhere! So, if you can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em. Here are some books with bakers playing a crucial role. And, if you haven't had your fill of cookies or cakes or pies yet, some of these titles even include recipes. Remember, there are no calories consumed in just reading about sweets!

Cookie-baking sleuth Hannah Swenson must protect her reputation when a popular delivery man is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah's cookies scattered around him. Includes recipes.

Sugar Rush by Donna Kauffman
Leilani Trusdale sets up her own cupcake business on Sugarberry island in Georgia, but when her former boss, Baxter Dunne, wants to film a segment of his cooking show at her bakery Lielani has to come to terms with her true feelings about him and her own future. Includes recipes.

Bake Sale Murder by Leslie Meier
When Lucy Stone stumbles upon the dead body of Mimi, the annoying and whiny wife of local developer Fred Stanton, she launches her own investigation into the murder, a quest that makes the killer nervous and results in threatening notes.

Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray
Ruth draws on her talent for concocting delectable cakes and desserts when her family begins to disintegrate around her--her husband loses his job, her mother moves in, and her long-estranged father shows up at the door with no place to go. Recipes included.

Tough Cookie by Diane Mott Davidson
A new stint hosting a cooking show for PBS turns sour for caterer Goldy Shulz when the taping session at one of Colorado's most exclusive skiing resorts is plagued by accidents and death. Includes recipes.

Bran New Death by Victoria Hamilton
Merry Wynter incurs the enmity of Binny and Tom Turner after moving to Autumn Vale and converting her late uncle's castle into a muffin bakery, and so when Tom is found murdered, she investigates in order to clear her name.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nonfiction Wrap Up 2013

There seems to be an overwhelming number of "best books" lists this time of year. Here is an abbreviated list of nonfiction that has been popular here in Glenview in 2013.

Reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina destroyed its generators to reveal how caregivers were forced to make life-and-death decisions without essential resources.

Wiseman (Queen Bees and Wannabesreveals how boys think, showing parents, educators, and coaches how to reach out and help boys overcome their most common yet difficult challenges. 

Daniel James Brown's robust book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.

Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former scientologists, both famous and less well known, and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uncovers the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

The humor scientist behind Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife takes a tour of the human digestive system, explaining why the stomach doesn't digest itself and whether constipation can kill you.

A look at the men and events involved in the Arab Revolt in the Middle East during the first World War.

Billy Crystal is turning 65, and he's not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt.

What was the best nonfiction book you read this past year?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On the Road Again

Cold? Bundled up? Tired of the insides of your house? It might be time to armchair travel and plan next year's traveling adventure. 

Want to do a Road Trip?  Foodies Jane and Michael Stern take to the American byways and back roads to discover American cuisine at its finest in their memoir of their early (and humorous) adventures, Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food. They wrote the book Road Food and started the Road Food blog for those travelers who want eat at other local establishments other than a chain fast food joint on the side of the intersection. In a world before Yelp and the Internet, the Sterns were the people to go to when you wanted to find out about good road food.

On a bit of a different kind of road, there is the book On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta by Jen Lin-Liu. The title of this delightful book is a play on the legendary Silk Road, the major trade route between Asia and Europe. Chef and cooking school founder Lin-Liu (Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China ) wanted to settle a burning question: Who really invented the noodle? To do this, she embarked on a cooking and eating journey through China, Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, and Italy. She was occasionally joined by her husband, Craig, who adds charm and a personal feel to her culinary adventure.

Want to get away with the girlfriends? Are they your book group buddies too? Take a look at this title, Off the Beaten Page: the Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways by Terri Peterson Smith.  

It has some great ideas for simple literary field trips close to home, and thoughtful essays describing each destination's literary heritage and attractions. From New York to Chicago, Memphis, Miami, Santa Fe and more there are various three-day itineraries that include such lit inspired excursions such as Santa Monica through the eyes of noir crime master Raymond Chandler; a Devil in the White City view of Chicago in the Gilded Age; an exploration of Edith Wharton's elite Newport, Rhode Island, while talking about other side trips in the area. There are location specific reading lists for each destination and along with a profile of an author who current lives and works there. It also covers various book festivals around the country.

Get ready to read about your next trip now.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sleuthing in the Snow

There's a blizzard and it's freezing out there. I hear the woosh of a bitter icy wind. I'm snowed-in and snowbound possibly for days. This weather makes me want to spend a quiet, cozy evening curled up next to my fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa and classic mystery books that conjure up dark, snowy, shadowy events.

GPL has several mystery books that feature snowed-in/snowbound settings, where snowfalls play a prominent part in the story. One of the best is Death Wore White by Jim Kelly. This book begins with unexplained deaths in a snowstorm. The snows of January complicate the investigations of three mysterious deaths in a police procedural set on the northern Norfolk coast of England. All of the action happens in the dead of winter, so you'll feel cold and windblown throughout the book. It is a modern version of the classic locked room mystery. A locked room mystery is a sub-genre of detective fiction in which a crime - almost always murder - is committed under apparently impossible circumstances. The crime typically involves a crime scene that no intruder could have entered or left, e.g. a locked room.

Snow also plays a role in An English Murder by Cyril Hare, a classic mystery set at Christmas.  Warbeck Hall is an old-fashioned English country house and the scene of equally English murders. All the classic ingredients are there: Christmas decorations, tea and cake, a faithful butler, a foreigner, snow falling and an interesting cast of characters thrown together.

Then there is Christmas Is Murder by C. S. Challinor where inhabitants of a hotel are snowed in and of course, murders happen. Not even a blizzard can keep Rex Graves away from Swanmere Manor, a secluded Victorian hotel in the English countryside. But instead of Christmas cheer, the Scottish barrister finds a dead guest. Was it a stroke or a dessert laced with poison? When more guests die, all hopes for a jolly holiday are dashed. Snowbound and terrified, no one can escape the cold-blooded killer. Rex Graves attempts to unravel the mystery.

Continuing on in such atmospheric conditions is the classic Three Blind Mice by Agatha Christie, where patrons and residents of a newly opened guesthouse find themselves trapped by a snowstorm and threatened by a psychotic killer. With a finite cast of characters in this "locked room" mystery, it is not long before suspicions are voiced and when pressure grows, even newlyweds start to suspect the other of being a killer.

So when the weather is terrible and blizzard conditions prevail, hopefully these recommendations will pique your desire to go sleuthing in the snow!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Forthcoming Fiction in January 2014

Here are some titles coming out this January. You can reserve them by clicking on the links to our Online Catalog.

Ripper by Isabel Allende
Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival by Jennifer Chiaverini
Eggs in a Casket by Laura Childs
The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell
Shadows of Death by Jeanne M. Dams
Andrew’s Brain by E.L. Doctorow
The Guts by Roddy Doyle
Dark Wolf by Christine Feehan
Fear Nothing: A Detective D.D. Warren Novel by Lisa Gardner
The Way of All Fish by Martha Grimes
NYPD Puzzle: A Puzzle Lady Mystery by Parnell Hall
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz
Revolution: The Secret World Chronicle III by Mercedes Lackey
The Ape Man’s Brother by Joe R. Lansdale
Lake of Tears: A Claire Watkins Mystery by Mary Logue
Curse of the Infidel by Richard Marcinko
Worthy Brown’s Daughter by Phillip Margolin
Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates
First Love by James Patterson
Still Life With Bread Crumbs: a Novel by Anna Quindlen
Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
Hunting Shadows: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd
Snapshot by Lis W. Wiehl
Standup Guy by Stuart Woods

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Television on DVD

Do you have a favorite show that you follow on TV? Did you go on vacation and missed a couple of weeks and now you want to catch up? Whether you are just hearing about a fabulous series like Scandal, Homeland, or Downton Abbey and want to watch it from the first season, or one that was just released on DVD, check it out at the Library.

First seasons available on DVD this year:

NASHVILLE - it is not all song and dance in Nashville. This is the story of the rivalry between the Queen of Country, played by Connie Britton and the hot, young diva, played by Hayden Panettiere, who is looking to dethrone her.

VEEP– follow the hectic day-to-day life of Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a former Senator, and now Vice-President, as she juggles her public and private life and her relationship with the Chief Executive.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST –Kristin Kreuk plays the role of a homicide detective involved with a  mysterious Dr. Vincent Keller, played by Brian White. This drama/thriller won the 2013 People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama.

HOUSE OF CARDS – starring Kevin Spacey as a politician who forms a relationship with a journalist, played by Kate Mara in order to trade secrets for personal and political gains.

THE NEWSROOM – starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer.  This drama takes a behind-the-scenes look at the fictional network, ACN, its anchor, producer and newsroom staff.