Monday, January 30, 2012

Triple Crossing

After perusing all the "Best of 2011" lists, I'm surprised that Triple Crossing by Sebastian Rotella never generated a huge hold list like many best sellers. It was a New York Times notable book and it had a great review on National Public Radio. One problem might be that the novel defies clear cut classification, falling somewhere between novel, mystery and thriller.

Rotella's first novel is set on "The Line" between San Diego and Mexico. The main characters are from both the US and Mexico. Rotella does a wonderful job of taking the reader on a behind the scenes tour of Mexican organizations, from drug cartels to the state and federal police, human rights organizations, and anti-corruption groups. On this side of the border, the characters work for the Border Patrol and the Office of the Inspector General. The action moves from the US, to Mexico and then to the region known as the Triple Border - the area where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Creatures - All Great, Some Small

I tend to shy away from animal rescue stories. Having been in the animal shelter business, I am painfully aware of how many of the stories end. In A Small Furry Prayer : Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life, Steven Kotler relives unrelenting loss - he dug seven graves in seven weeks during one bad stretch at Rancho de Chihuahua - but also celebrates the compassion and kinship connecting us all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

Wicked Autumn is the first of Agatha Award-winning author G. M. Malliet's books I've had the opportunity to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

For me, it was a combination of a cozy murder mystery and a village story (like the Miss Read stories, which I adore). Max Tudor is a former MI-5 agent turned Anglican priest. He is still adjusting to his new parish of Nether Monkslip when the village's self-appointed organizer of all things, especially the annual Harvest Fayre, Wanda Batton-Smythe is murdered. Many secrets of Nether Monkslip and its residents are brought to light in the process of solving the murder.

This is a slow-moving book, taking its time to introduce the reader to the main and minor characters and the village they reside in. I enjoyed getting to know Max Tudor's character especially how he came to the priesthood.

Now that I've met Max Tudor and the residents of Nether Monkslip, I look forward to returning.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Music of the 80's

If you were a teen in the 80's, or for some reason you love 80's music, keep reading. Otherwise, a new blog post will appear in a few days. Rolling Stone magazine's music journalist Rob Sheffield shares his mixed relationship with new wave/pop/disco/punk/rock and of course girls in his book Talking To Girls About Duran Duran. In these days of needing to provide full disclosure, I went to college and I'm friends with Rob's sister who plays a major role in the story (essentially makes it more vivid for me, won't detract any for you).

Monday, January 16, 2012

My favorites of 2011

For past three months, I've been reading science fiction and fantasy books for teens. A lot of them. Wizards, dystopias, magic, quests - they're coming out my ears, I tell you. These are my top four.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick - When a powerful electromagnetic pulse kills off two-thirds of the human race and knocks the rest back to the Stone Age, it's every man, woman, and child for himself. 17-year-old Alex was already living on borrowed time, what with the brain tumor and all, so she thought she knew about living life one day at a time. Along with Afghanistan vet Tom and eight-year-old Ellie, she discovers that it's a little more difficult when you have to fight wild animals and teen cannibal zombies for the privilege.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Around The World In 276 Pages

Topophilia* is the dominant theme of Maphead by Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings. Jennings details his personal fascination with the love of place and then takes the reader on a wonderful exploration of map culture - from earliest parchment to the sophistication of modern day GPS.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Twinkie Novels

Christmas and New Years are over; everybody's starting to take down their decorations and hide the scales. Whether you find this time of year energizing or whether you're recovering from the holidays, I find this is a great time of year to indulge in twinkie novels.

What is a twinkie novel, you ask? A twinkie novel is one with no nutritional value. It's the book that you read purely for the pleasure of reading. It's also probably the book you keep shelved in the bedroom and put a paper bag over when you take it out in public. Everyone's definition of their twinkie novel will be different; what one person will boldly read on the bus, another will hide in their jacket. But my challenge for you this New Year is to display your twinkie novel proudly.

And so, I offer you my own twinkie novel of the year: Master of Smoke by Angela Knight.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I like to read about history. I especially enjoy historical fiction and nonfiction that deals with the ins and outs of World War II. I don't know why this time period fascinates me, I just know that it does and that is true for many of you too – and many of you have read much more widely than I about this period of history. Still, I want to mention a few that I read and enjoyed recently.

Agent ZigZag: a True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre was published in 2007 after the MI5 finally declassified the files about this fascinating man. Agent Zigzag was Eddie Chapman, a British double agent who spied for England during WW II and was also awarded the Iron Cross by the Nazis. He was quite a character and the book about him is an interesting and quick read.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New You!

What are your New Year's resolutions? Learning a new skill, traveling the world, reinventing yourself, or getting around to something you've put off for a while? I just put up a display of books to help get you started. Here's the virtual version!
  • Freerunning and parkour amp running and jogging up a notch, into an extreme sport. Do you dare try?
  • Get crafty! Arizona's own Crafty Chica writes about sparkly, fun, Mexican-heritage-inspired crafts, not to mention fashion and style. She even penned a little crafty fiction! And you can save the planet by delighting your friends and family with recycled crafts from Recyclo-Gami, Craft Activism, Upcycling, or Steampunk Emporium.
  • Take an offbeat vacation with The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel. Challenge your travel-mates to a game of "Trip Poker": winner picks a destination...and loser pays. Already have a destination in mind? We keep some always-available guidebooks in our ebook collection.Visit our digital downloads page and see if we have the right one for you! (P.S. If one of your resolutions involves reading classics, we have plenty of free public domain ebooks available that don't count against your checkout limit and never expire.)
  • Create something really important, a lasting video record of a life-and death struggle where all of human existence hangs in the balance. That's right, I'm talking about making your own zombie movie with Filming the Undead!
  • A lot of resolutions involve diet and exercise. Our collection includes books that run the gamut from vegan diets to pilates to fat acceptance; something for everyone!
  • Maybe all this talk about diet got you thinking about growing your own food. We have a wide selection of gardening books, and we've got an awesome seed library to check out...literally!
  • Finally, do you have trouble sticking to your resolutions, feeling like they're important, or even remembering them after a few months? (Me too!) This Year I Will offers tips on making lasting changes in your life. And although I have a pretty low tolerance for the self-help genre, Sark always makes me feel creative and inspired.
But library resources don't end with books! Visit our website to...
We also offer a wide variety of free classes in person at your local branch, where you can learn anything from computer basics to GED prep to languages to photo editing to Excel!
What are your resolutions? How do you use the library help you reach your goals?