Thursday, July 28, 2011

Real Issues

Did you enjoy the popular book "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time"? Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork gives us a book featuring a similarly strong-voiced, lovable main character, struggling with real world issues.

Meet 17-year-old Marcelo. Marcelo's father wants Marcelo to experience the real world and hopes to remove Marcelo from his specialized school the next school year. An opposed Marcelo can avoid the new assignment if he successfully completes summer employment at his father's law firm.

This beautifully written, insightful book displays Marcelo's challenges (he has Asperger's Syndrome) empathetically. In the real world, Marcelo experiences love and ethical dilemmas and discovers that nothing is black and white. Watching Marcelo, simultaneously naive and wise, navigate this new terrain is both engaging and thought provoking. While this highly acclaimed book is categorized for teens, it will appeal to a wide audience. And for family, friends and teachers whose lives have been touched by the autism spectrum, this story offers a revealing look at your genius' internal thought processes and strategies. Take a read! M

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Missing Persons

Sometimes when I read mysteries, I feel like Goldilocks in The Three Bears. This book is too cozy! This book is too scary! When I read Missing Persons by Clare O'Donohue, I felt like it was just right. Missing Persons is the first in a new series featuring Kate Conway. Kate, a reality TV producer of true crime shows, throws herself into her work after her estranged husband dies unexpectedly. When the cause of his death in inconclusive, Kate becomes a suspect in his death.

The plot moves along briskly, with the television show becoming more intertwined with Kate's personal life. Kate is a great character; she's both strong and funny. O'Donohue sets up an interesting supporting cast as well, especially Vera, the dead husband's girlfriend. When I'm next in the mood for a cozy mystery, I'm going to have a look at O'Donohue's first series that starts with The Lover's Knot: A Someday Quilts Mystery.

- Susannah

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Staff Picks

Here are some of the books our staff has been reading this past month.

Jenn recommends The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey.  The holy grail of surfing is the 100 foot wave.  Follow a tribe of extreme surfers as they get the adrenaline high from conquering these waves and living to tell about it. 

Maureen recommends Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry.  Zombies have taken over most of the world.  Benny reluctantly gets apprenticed to a zombie hunter and it will ultimately teach him what it means to be human. 

Heather recommends 101 Places Not to See Before You Die by Catherine Price.  Here is a humorous look at some of the least appealing places to visit.  A few spots in Arizona even make it into this book. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vengeance is Best Served Cold

Meet Walt Longmire, the sheriff of a remote county in Wyoming in the novel The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson.  Recently widowed, he resides in the shell of the dream house he never completed and operates out of boxes he never unpacked.  His deputy is a prickly ex-East Coast cop and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear, served with him in Vietnam and now serves burgers and adult beverages. 

Not much happens in his county, so Walt's surprised when he gets the call about the dead man found near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Walt wants to believe it's an unfortunate hunting accident, but the victim is one of four young men who, two years earlier, raped and brutalized a young Cheyenne girl born with fetal alcohol syndrome.  The boys were released with suspended sentences and Walt suspects it's a case of good ol' frontier justice.

Walt approaches and observes his life with a keen, wry, humble wit.  Honestly I'm reluctant to share him as this is my first introduction to him and the series (the latest, Hell is Empty was released in June), but he's too good to keep to myself.

Find all of Craig Johnson's books at your Library.

Vicki Ann

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Shhh! The next Help

I am so excited to be the person that predicts that this book will be the next phenomenal surprise word-of-mouth blockbuster book of the year.  Imagine an alternate version of The Help.  This one involving a mystery, set in Mississippi and written by a guy.  Which means that there won't be a lot of long, thoughtful delving into any emotions.  But it doesn't mean that the emotional landscape is barren.  It just means there won't be a lot of dissection, introspection and contemplation.  I'm leaving this blog post purposefully vague.  Be the first on your block to check out Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin and you can tell everyone you were part of the crowd that helped make this book a runaway hit.

More Books

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Newes from the Dead

What if you woke up in the middle of your own autopsy? That's the provocative premise behind Mary Hooper's Newes from the Dead, based on a true story. In 1650, a British servant girl named Anne Green was wrongfully sentenced to death, but the hanging didn't completely kill her. Instead, she lies in her coffin, barely alive, and drifts back through the events that brought her to her present condition. At the same time, a young medical student prepares for the dissection of a convict's corpse - Anne Green.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Adventures Around the World

If summer has you stretched in a multitude of directions and reading time is in short supply, A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Adventures Around The World, edited by Don George, offers 38 short chapters jam-packed with fabulous food and memories from chefs, travel writers, and a generous sampling of food editors and critics.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Vintage Favorites

I've noticed that summer seems to be the time to revisit favorite books.  Maybe it's because, for adults, summer evokes memories of summer vacations, laziness, childhood.  And so we reread the entire Harry Potter series, indulge in beach reads, and turn back the clock to our retro-reads.

I read this vintage classic for the first time last month, and couldn't believe I hadn't read it sooner. The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber has it all: an evil duke, a clever prince, and an enchanted princess, not to mention delightful illustrations.  Plus, it's a quick read.

Also on my list of retro-summer-reads...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Houseplant Survival Hope

I love houseplants! Unfortunately, houseplants have very short lives under my care. I tell myself that's OK, they are just cut flowers that last a little longer. My dilemma is that I recently bought a house that has an indoor atrium. This 5 foot by 5 foot area has a faucet, a drain and a skylight. I am afraid that since the average houseplant under my care lives only about 2 weeks this could become a very very expensive indoor gardening experiment. A lot of plants can fit in an area that size. Pima County Public Library has great books on indoor gardening. Find them by searching for the subject house plants.

I have checked out almost every title about growing houseplants in the Pima County Library system. My favorite book is The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual: Essential Know-how for Keeping (Not Killing!) More Than 160 Indoor Plants by Barbara Pleasant.