Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year's Resolution


Have you made a New Year's resolution yet? Here is resolution you can keep without dieting or exercising. Try reading a book a month. It doesn't have to be War and Peace, just any book in any format you like.

While commuting to work, try an audiobook. Some libraries are even providing Playaways, which are digital audiobooks on a small player the size of a cell phone. Earplugs are not included.

Sometimes I just want to sit, read and relax to escape from the stress of daily life. Since I can't travel all over the globe, I love to read travel guides. Right now I am reading 1,000 Places to See Before You Die in the USA and Canada by Patricia Schultz. The book has lots of informative and fun information for the traveler at heart including web addresses, locations and phone numbers of sites. Where else can you read about the Annual Crane Migration in Nebraska or the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada?

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!
Laura

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Polar Express


Enjoy the family favorite Polar Express!
Happy Holidays!
Laura

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Photofunia!


Everyone can be a star at http://www.photofunia.com/. Just pick a category, upload a photo and post to your blog!

Laura

Monday, 7 December 2009

Plain Truth


Since I work for a public library, I have a heads up on popular authors. Novels by Jodi Picoult are always in demand, so I thought I would give one a try.
In the Plain Truth, Picoult pens the story of an 18 year-old unwed Amish girl, Katie Fisher, who is charged with the murder of her newborn infant. Katie claims she was never pregnant or even had a baby, yet an infant is found dead in a calving stall next to her and also shares her DNA.

Enter high profile Philadelphia attorney, Ellie Hathaway, who wants nothing more than a break from the courtroom and her stressful career. Yet she is Katie's only hope of acquittal. As part of Katie's bail requirement, Ellie must accompany her 24/7, which forces Ellie to move into the Fisher's home on a Amish dairy farm in Lancaster County. Ellie finds herself torn between two vastly different cultures and sets of values.

Picoult does an excellent job of immersing readers in the Amish or "plain" lifestyle. Instead of telling readers upfront about the Amish, they are slowly introduced to the mysterious culture through character and plot development. At the same time, Picoult keeps the novel moving with various subplots and a moving courtroom drama.

Give Plain Truth a shot and you won't be disappointed.

Laura

Monday, 16 November 2009

Book to Movie



American author Cormac McCarthy has struck gold with the film adaption of his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road, scheduled for release Wednesday, November 25. The post-apocalyptic thriller follows the journey of a father and son walking across a burned out America searching for the unknown. Cast includes Viggo Mortenson, Charlize Theron, Robert DuVal and newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee. Think Oscar buzz...

McCarthy also penned the award winning No Country for Old Men, which won the 2008 Best Picture Award.
Laura

Friday, 6 November 2009

Christmas Reads!



Christmas is just around the corner and publishers are releasing holidays books. Here are a few titles to enjoy over the holiday season.
Happy Holidays!
L

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Under This Unbroken Sky



"There is a black-and-white photograph of a a family: a man, woman, and five children. Scrawled on the back, in tight archaic script, are the words Willow Creek, Alberta, 1933. This will be their only photograph together.

Within three years, this farm will be foreclosed. Two years later, one will die. Two others, of whom there is no photograph, will be murdered.

But this day, in the moment right after the shutter clicks shut, this family takes a deep breath and smiles. "

In the spring of 1938, after two years in prison for stealing his own grain, Ukrainian immigrant, Teodor Mykolayenko is a free man. While in prison, his no-frills wife, Maria, takes of care of their five children and Teodor's delusional sister, Anna, on a barren homestead in the northern Canadian prairies.
Surviving Stalin's regime and near starvation, Teodor is determined to build a profitable farm and provide for his family and sister, but the odds are against him from the very beginning. Clearing the land and raising wheat in the middle of the harsh Canadian tundra is difficult enough, but when Anna's loser of a husband, Stephan, returns, Teodor's problems escalate.

This debut novel is not about the characters, but about the land and starkness of existence in the middle of nowhere. The author, Shandi Mitchell, shows the reader through language the difficulties of one man and his family as they try to build a home and provide for themselves against natural elements and family feuds.

If you enjoy literary books and beauty of language, you will devour Under This Unbroken Sky. I give this novel a 10!

L

Monday, 2 November 2009

Top 10 Teen Books!



Nearly 11,000 teens across the nation voted for their favorite book of 2009 in YALSA's annual poll. One of my favorite authors, John Green, won first prize with Paper Towns.

Since I just checked out the book from my local library, I can't give you a review. But if it is as good as his award winning Looking for Alaska, you won't be disappointed. Other winners include:2. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

3. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

4. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

5. Identical by Ellen Hopkins

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

7. Wake by Lisa McMann

8. Untamed by P.C. & Kristin Cast

9. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

10. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Oh, did I mention Paper Towns will be hitting the silver screen with John Malkovich directing!

Laura





Saturday, 24 October 2009

Dream House by Valerie Laken


Tired of living in a dumpy apartment, Kate and Stuart Kinzler buy a fixer-upper house in Ann Arbor, Michigan as an investment and an opportunity to rebuild their crumbling marriage. Little do they know, the house was the scene of a bloody murder 18-years earlier. When Kate discovers the history of the property, she decides to gut every room putting a deeper wedge in her marriage and driving her husband away.

After serving 18-years in the big house, Walker Price returns to Ann Arbor and his old neighborhood. With a little too much time on his hands, he hangs around his childhood home eventually befriending Kate as a handyman, while searching for his past.

Years ago, Jay Harrison worked for a company cleaning up after disasters and crimes. One rainy night 18-years ago, Jay pulled an all nighter patching bullet holes and mopping blood puddles in an old broken down house in Ann Arbor. Memories of the murder still haunt him.

Methodically, the author builds tension as Walker and Jay help Kate remodel her dream house. Slowly each character reveals their own secrets and relationship to the house leading to an unpredictable ending.

While the plot is moving and the ending climatic, Laken never fully develops any compelling relationships between the characters leaving readers a bit frustrated. She does address some societal issues on a broad scale such as neighborhood gentrification, race relations and family values.

Laura
http://valerielaken.com/

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Challenge Yourself!


Banned Book Week

September 26 - October 3, 2009

Sunday, 13 September 2009

American Rust: A Novel



If you are a Cormac McCarthy fan, you will probably enjoy this debut novel by Philipp Meyer. Just like McCarthy, Meyer takes readers down long dark roads leading to ultimate despair.

Meet Billy Poe and Isaac English, high school buddies with failed dreams, giving up on any future in Buell, Pennsylvania, a dried up steel town. One fateful night, they take off leaving a trail of violence behind them. What starts as a fight with some transients in an old steel warehouse turns into murder of the worst kind. One bad decision, leads to another and another leaving both characters questioning their choices in life.

Isaac is tired of caring for the "old man," resentful of his mother's suicide and angry with his sister, Lee, for chasing her academic dreams. And Billy isn't any better off. Laid off from his menial job and living with his mother, Grace, in a run down trailer, he watches her throw her life away on an abusive husband and useless boyfriends.

American Rust is a story of loyalty and love in disintegrating America. Morals and values are explored and exploited. What is right may be right, but it can also be wrong. Billy and Isaac are similar to Steinbeck characters and Meyer's honest style of writing is comparable to Faulkner.


Laura

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Prepub Alert

Below is a prepublication list of popular fiction. Publishers are releasing these novels just in time for the holidays, although you can pre-order them now through http://www.amazon.com/.

U for Undertow by Sue Grafton
The Disappeared by M.R. Hall
Divine Misdemeanors by Laurell K. Hamilton
Breathless by Dean Koontz
La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
Too Many Murders by Colleen McCullough
New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherford
Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh

Too Much Money by Dominick Dunne

Enjoy!

Laura

Friday, 4 September 2009

Do you have a library card?


September is Library Card Sign-Up Month!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Dominick Dunne 1925-2009


Best known for his partying in Hollywood with the rich and famous, penning sensational articles in Vanity Fair and the reporting of celebrity trials including O.J. Simpson, Dunne died last August after completing, Too Much Money.

In his follow-up to People Like Us, published in July 1989, the 83 year-old author recreates New York high society characters Lil Altemus and Ruby and Elias Renthal as they try to solve the murder of a millionaire magazine publisher. Hmm...expect lots of dirt and gossip on unscrupulous high rollers, society snobs and wannabes climbing the social ladder!

Look for the release of Too Much Money December 2009.

Laura

The New Sexy



Monday, 17 August 2009

A Reliable Wife


I can't say this was a good book or a bad book; it just was not for me. Even though Goolrick's debut novel, A Reliable Wife received rave reviews, I found it slow, repetitive and unconvincing. The author's lyrical prose drags on and on with a few high points here and there. The crescendo ending does make sense, but still leaves readers thinking "so what."

In Wisconsin 1907, a devious and lovely Catherine Land answers Ralph Truitt's newspaper ad for a reliable wife, thus the title. Truitt, a wealthy industrialist, practically owns the barren and frigid town. But he can't buy Catherine's love or crack her shell. The conniving temptress has her own agenda, which does not include Truitt.

From the very start, Catherine is not the person she claims to be. Before she meets Truitt at the train station, she throws her elegant velvet gown out the train window arriving in a simple black dress. She steps off his private train car into a blizzard to find a 58 year-old stern and solemn widower plagued with guilt, secrets and pent-up desire. Even the photo Catherine mails to Truitt is of another woman.

"This begins in a lie," he tells Catherine sternly as
he picks up her bags. "I want you to know that I know that...Whatever else,
you're a liar."


What starts as a cat and mouse game of lies, games and vengence turns into a tale of guilt, greed and desperation. Catherine and Truitt are both harboring emotionally charged secrets eating away at their very sanity. Eventually, the pathetic couple reconciles to each other's needs and differences.

The novel won the April 2009 American Book Association Indie Award and Columbia pictures bought the film rights last spring.

http://robertgoolrick.com/

Laura

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Read-alikes

Have you exhausted your favorite author and want something new to read? Part of my job as a librarian is to help people find good books. You may be wondering where I get suggestions. Here are a few tips on finding new authors and novels.

Read-alikes are books similar to established authors such as John Grisham, Janet Evanovich and Dean Koontz. Lets use John Grisham as an example.

1. Go to Google and type in "if you like john grisham." Voila, you will receive many websites suggesting books similar to Grisham. Look for websites written by public libraries in the web address. This technique works best with popular authors.

2. Click on the this link http://www.readalike.org/. On the left hand side of the page, is a list of books sorted by genre. Lets try Historical. Up pops a page with reviewed authors and online resources. Click on Phillipa Gregory. You will receive an author bio, book review and read-alikes. Online resources also offer lots of ideas.

3. Many public libraries also provide reading lists for patrons.

Now curl up with a good book!

Laura

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory



Wow, the timing was right for reading this hefty 660-page novel, The Other Boleyn Girl. I just returned from taking my 16 year-old daughter to Paris and Amsterdam. One of our excursions included a visit to the Palace of Versailles, home of Marie Antoinette, which is similar to English palaces and life in the Tudor court, the background for this historical novel.

***Warning: This novel has a few sexual passages. As a profession, librarians judge books by their entire content, not a few pages, so I am giving this exciting novel a thumbs up.

The Other Boleyn Girl is a fascinating lesson in English history, specifically the Tudor dynasty, and why our country has the seapration of church and state.

Gregory's book to movie follows the rivalries between the two Boleyn sisters, Mary and Anne, as they rise to court and vie for the attention King Henry VIII at any cost. Manipulation and back stabbing don't even come close to the dangerous games these maidens play to advance the Boleyn family fortune and name.

At the tender age of 14, sweet innocent Mary captures the King's attention and is ordered by her family to become his mistress, since she already married, and bears him two bastard children. Meanwhile, Anne, her vicious and ruthless sister is not about to go unnoticed and linger in her sister's shadow. She wants to be the next Queen of England and nothing will get in her way including her own flesh and blood.

Gregory shows readers with intimate detail life at court including adultery, incest and homosexuality. She pays close attention to historical accuracy and brings an otherwise dull period of history to life through plot and character development.

From history, readers already know the ending of the story. Mary retires from court, moves to the country and marries a commoner, while Henry orders Anne beheaded. As the old saying goes, "What goes around, comes around." Off with her head...So long Anne!

The Other Boleyn Girl is definitely on my top 10 list. Don't miss this opportunity to learn about English history and enjoy a good story.

http://www.philippagregory.com/

Friday, 5 June 2009

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell


In this noir coming of age thriller, 15 year-old Evie Spooner quickly grows up, falls in love and realizes her parents, Bev and Joe, are not perfect parents.

In 1947, Joe Spooner unexpectedly returns from WWW ll bringing home more than just war stories. He takes Bev and Evie on an impulsive vacation to a swanky, glittery Palm Beach resort. Pretending to be a man of wealth and influence, Joe strikes of a questionable friendship with the mysterious Graysons. Add to the mix, smooth talking Peter, a handsome old war buddy looking for paybacks from Joe. Coincidentally, Peter is staying at the same hotel as Joe?

On a fast track going nowhere, Evie falls for Peter big time, but he is more interested in Evie's mother, a Lana Turner wanna be looking for a good time. Using Evie as a decoy, Peter and Bev are just a little too friendly, while Joe is buying into shady business deals.

When Joe, Bev and Peter go boating, a tropical storm hits and only two return.

Evie must choose between love and betrayal. In an electric courtroom drama, Evie makes her stand.

http://www.judyblundell.com/

Laura

Friday, 22 May 2009

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

If an entire nation could seek freedom, why not a girl?
If you think walking the dog or folding the laundry is bad, try trading places with Isabel, a 13-year old slave in Manhattan during the American Revolution. Every morning before dawn, Isabel has already hauled water, stoked the fire and emptied chamber pots.

In 1775, Isabel and her younger sister, Ruth, are sold to the Locktons, an evil, wealthy couple with loyalists ties. While fetching water in the bitter cold, Isabel makes friends with Curzon, a slave with rebel connections. In return for freedom, Curzon encourages Isabel to spy on the Locktons.
When the wicked Madam abruptly sells Ruth, Isabel makes a decision jeopardizing and changing her life forever.

Anderson pens an exciting story balancing history with plot. Watch for the sequel, Forge.

http://www.writerlady.com/
Grades 7-10

Laura

Friday, 8 May 2009

Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy


Everyone is looking for JJ, Jennifer Jones, but where and who is she? Six years ago three 10 year-old girls walked into the woods and only two returned. What happened? Only Alice Tully knows the horrendous answer. Will Alice's past always haunt her?

In this award winning young adult novel, the author explores the murder of one child by another, the guilt and redemption and the return to society. Dark, chilling and suspenseful, Cassidy provides readers with an unforgetable novel.


http://www.annecassidy.com/

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan


It is 1946, when Memphis bred and educated Laura McAllan reluctantly moves to a cotton farm with her husband, Henry, two daughters and mean-spirited father in-law, Pappy, on the Mississippi delta. Everyday is a struggle with no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing. But the real turmoil starts when Jamie, her brother in-law and Ronsel Jackson, a sharecropper's son, return home from fighting the Nazis with demons of their own.

Jordan captures each character's voice with poetic prose, while exposing the racial hatred of the deep South. An unforgettable ending will leave readers thinking about social injustice.

In her debut novel, Jordan won the 2006 Bellwether Prize, which is given to novels addressing social issues. Mudbound also won a 2009 Alex Award, which is given to books written for adults with teen appeal.

Audience - Adult and mature teens
http://hillaryjordan.com/

Laura

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Chick Lit for Teens


Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your mug planted on the tabloids, to be trailed by the never ending paparazzi and to be mobbed by gawking autograph hunters? Read Audrey, Wait and find out.

In one afternoon, 16-year old Audrey goes from being an average teen to an instant celebrity. When Audrey dumps her hunky, handsome boyfriend, who just happens to be the lead singer for the popular Do-Gooders, he pens a sensational song about their relationship, which becomes #1 on the Billboards.

Find out how Audrey handles the instant fame and reclaims her life.

Audience - Young Adult
http://www.audreywait.com/

L

Monday, 27 April 2009

Book to Movie

For all you Alice Sebold fans, her best-selling novel The Lovely Bones will debut in theatres December 2009. In this eloquent and mesmerizing story, 14 year-old Susie is raped and murdered. Like a fly in a wall, Susie watches over her family and her killer from heaven.

Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Rachel Weisz and Saoirse Ronan star in the much anticipated film. Bring a hankie and just in time for an Oscar nomination.

L

Hello

Hello and welcome to Laura's Library. Working for a public library, I get lots of questions. "Have you read? Do you have a book by...? Can you help me find a book about..."

On my blog, you will find book reviews for all ages and other interesting information privy to librarians. Think author interviews, new releases and award-winning book lists.

Now, turn off your television, your cell phone and your music. Find a cozy spot and pick up a good book. Doesn't that feel good?

L