Monday, October 20, 2014

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult 405 Pages

If there is one thing I can say about reading Jodi Picoult books it is that you always get an education. Her books are incredibly researched, so that whatever the subject matter is, you now feel like an authority on the subject. What is the subject you ask? Why it's elephants. Yes, elephants. Everything you need to know, from the tips of their floppy ears to the nails on their hooves. From their incredible memories (yes, an elephant never forgets) to their grieving process when a death occurs.

Thirteen-year-old Jenna is searching for her mother, a scientist who studied grieving among elephants, who disappeared ten years ago under mysterious circumstances. Aiding in her search is retired Police Detective now Private Detective Virgil Stanhope and Psychic Serenity Jones. This unlikely team gathers decade-old clues and re-investigates a decade-old murder. A startling twist ends the book with something I did not see coming. At all.

Lots to read but I am unsure if it was worth the time. Not a bad book just very unusual. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Love Letters by Debbie Macomber 306 Pages

It is time I feed my semi-yearly addition for over-sentimental, saccharin-saturated romance as only Debbie Macomber can write. Why read it, you ask? Like anything sweet, it seems to satisfy an addition I am trying to cut down on. But this time the author surprised me, as the characters are complicated, and maybe even a little bit hard to like.

Continuing her Rose Harbor series, she returns to Jo Marie and her B & B in Cedar Cove. The weekend guests Jo Marie prepares for are not exactly what they seem. There is 20-something Ellie Reynolds who has cancelled twice before but is determine to come and meet the man she met online.Then there is the young couple, Maggie and Roy Porter, who are taking their first vacation alone since they have had children. But not is all bliss, Roy has become a work-a-holic and has had an online affair with a girlfriend from high school and Maggie upon discovering this affair plunged into a drunken-one-night-stand with a stranger. Yes, this is Debbie Macomber.

Not overly spicy, but definitely real life, for once.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale 340 Pages

This month's book club selection for Adam's Place Senior Living is The Thicket. Library Journal declared it one of the best historical fiction written in 2013 and I agree. Think of this book this way, the Coen Brothers meet True Grit and there are no rules. The book is definitely on the gritty side, and sometimes a bit too descriptive but well worth the vivid portraits of East Texas at the turn of the twentieth century.

16-year-old Jack Parker in one day looses both parents to a small pox epidemic, his grandfather to a gang of outlaws, who then, also kidnap his sister, Lula. He meets Eustace, a grave-digging son of an ex-slave and Shorty, a charismatic, gun-toting dwarf who makes his living by bounty hunting. And so this unlikely trio join together to rescue Lula thought to have been taken into The Thicket, an unlawful haven for outlaws hidden deep in the woods of east Texas. This is an odyssey of good versus evil with lots of gray in between. 

And the best part, it's going to be a movie. Peter Dinklage to star. Read it before everyone else discovers it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie 384 pages

I've been a huge fan of the Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James mysteries for a while now, and I can't believe that number 16 is out already!

Gemma's partner, Melody Talbot, is bout to watch her boyfriend's band perform at St. Pancras Station when all of a sudden all hell breaks loose. A white phosphorous bomb has been ignited - was it set off by the protesters Melody solved earlier? Duncan and Gemma are back and dealing with a possible terror case in Duncan's new division - can they keep their family together while solving one of the biggest cases of their lifetimes? Duncan begins to question his priorities and whether or not he is still in the right job.

I love Crombie's books with a passion. She creates a wonderful atmosphere in modern London while still being able to create the feeling of a classic murder mystery. Even after 16 books, the characters continue to evolve and remain fresh - and the mysteries never get formulaic or boring! If you haven't read her books before, I highly recommend starting at the beginning of the series and reading forward so you don't miss any of the character development or any of the amazing mysteries!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah 320 pages

Normally I am not a fan of series being continued by other authors, but boy, was this book a treat! Agatha Christie fans rejoice!

While lovers of Poirot might scratch their heads at the reappearance of the main character after his final appearance in Curtain. Worry not! The book takes place earlier in his timeline AND it's been authorized by Christie's estate.

I started this book with a skeptical heart since I've loved Hercule Poirot since before I can remember. Sophie Hannah has captured not only Christie's unique voice, but also Poirot's every mannerism and quirk. Her expression of Poirot's voice alone is indistinguishable from Christie's writing of the character.

Three people have been murdered all in the same hotel. Except they happened to be in three separate rooms on three separate floors. Can Poirot solve the mystery when he can find so little evidence?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Driftless Area by Tom Drury 215 pages

Aptly titled, The Driftless Area tells the story of Pierre Hunter.  He is a young man drifting through life after the recent deaths of his parents.  Pierre works as a bartender and spends his free time wandering the streets of town.  This occasionally gets him into trouble.  In one amusing episode, Pierre exits one house party and accidentally returns to the wrong party at the wrong house.   The owners of the home are not amused when they discover him although they allow him to perform a coin trick that falls flat before having him arrested for trespassing.

            Oddly, Pierre’s luck changes when he almost drowns after falling through the ice on a remote lake while skating.  He is rescued by a mysterious woman named Stella Rosmarin.  The more Pierre gets to know Stella, the more mysterious she becomes.

            Tom Drury’s writing style reminds me of author Denis Johnson except with a mystical twist.  At first the novel seems like a grim realistic tale of life in a small Iowa town until seemingly improbable and impossible events start happening.

As I was writing this review, I discovered that The Driftless Area is currently being made into a movie starring Anton Yelchin, Zooey Deschanel and Audrey Plaza.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Locke (Hot DVD)

This movie took me by surprise.  I thought it was going to be another action movie about an everyday guy (with super human driving skills) that is forced into driving for some bad guys in order to save his wife, girlfriend, kid and or dog.  Locke is not an action movie.   In fact, it is a tense emotional drama about relationships that takes place entirely within a car. 
Ivan Locke is taking a long distance drive to support a woman he barely knows as she gives birth to his child.  That is a lot for Ivan to deal with but it is only the tip of the ice berg.  Locke is already (happily?) married with children.  In addition, it is the eve of the biggest day of his career.  His company has entrusted him with a multimillion dollar deal set to take place first thing the next morning.  If Locke helps deliver the baby, he will not be able to oversee the deal.  He could be fired from his dream job.  In addition, how will Locke’s family react to his big news?  It is enthralling to watch Locke navigate difficult personal issues as he navigates the road.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Her Last Whisper by Karen Robards 333 Pages

Karen Robards brings us another Dr. Charlotte Stone thriller with her side-kick/ghost lover Michael Garland. I know it sounds bizarre but it works. Really. "Charlie" works along with a specialized team from the FBI who investigate unusual crimes. Since "Charlie" is able to see ghosts who have recently departed, her "specialized" skills enable her to solve crimes that seem unsolvable. 

When the team asks her to come to Las Vegas to help find one of the team member's sister who has gone missing, it is discovered that 16 other women have also gone missing as well. Aiding "Charlie" is convicted serial killer/ghost Michael Garland who "Charlie" is convinced was unjustly convicted. But it doesn't seem to matter anymore, after all he is dead, right?

A fun read that leaves you  knowing that the next book continues the story. I can hardly wait.

Spooky Tales To Keep You Up At Night

                                   For Those Who Like a Good Scare...







Not So Scary Tales For The 'Fraidy Cats Among Us..






Monday, September 22, 2014

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris 323 Pages

My initial introduction to David Sedaris started with an interview I came across on the Daily Show for his 2013 book, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls.  This book garnered a lot of praise and was released at the number one spot on the New York Times Best Seller List.  Since then, I have read three of his books, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Sedaris is a humor essayist with many of his collections touching on his family life, hilarious travel escapades and interpretations of foreign cultures, to his personal battles with addiction.  Sedaris deals with a lot of every-day awkward situations, like what to do if you inadvertently sneeze a cough drop onto the lap of the passenger beside you on a small aircraft, or if your poor grasp of the French language means you end up in a doctor’s waiting room in your underpants.   Even the most serious of topics are dealt with humor. You never know what irreverent bomb he will drop next.  From laugh-out-loud to absolute shock, Sedaris knows how to get readers turning pages. 

DISCLAIMER: This book isn't for everyone!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fever by Mary Beth Keane 304 Pages

This month's book choice for the Adams Place Senior Retirement Living is an intriguing read.
This is the story of Mary Mallon, otherwise known as "Typhoid Mary". Yes, that Mary. Based on historical fact, Keane tells the story from Mallon's point of view, a quick-witted, uneducated, Irish immigrant, surviving by only doing what she does best, cooking.

Hired by the best families in Manhattan, within weeks family members and household help become ill with the fever, some even dying. Unaware that she is a healthy carrier of the disease, she also has deplorable personal hygiene habits as well.

Isolated from the population of New York and placed in a small cottage on the grounds of a hospital located on North Brother Island, she remained for three years. Released upon the promise to never cook for the public again, she started her life again as a laundress. Unhappy and unable to make ends meet, she started cooking again until eventually she was brought back to the island where she remained until her death.

Believe it or not, you find yourself rooting for poor Mary Mallon. Did the Department of Health officials really know what they were talking about? Was their treatment of her unjust? Read for yourself and decide for yourself. Let me know.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Glories of Germanhood: Germans in St. Louis

In conjunction with the Friends of Kirkwood Public Library's sponsored program Germans in St. Louis, KPL thought you might enjoy a book or two about German Americans along with your German cuisine and beverage. Prost!                                                                                   

Germans for a free Missouri : translations from the St. Louis radical press, 1857-1862 / selected and translated by Steven Rowan ; with an introduction and commentary by James Neal Primm.

German-American folklore by Mac E. Barrick

In search of your German roots : a complete guide to tracing your ancestors in the Germanic areas of Europe by Angus Baxter.

Immigrants in the Valley : Irish, Germans, and Americans in the upper Mississippi country, 1830-1860 by Mark Wyman.

From Knights to Pioneers : one German family in Westphalia and Missouri by Anita M. Mallinckrodt.

German settlement in Missouri : new land, old ways by Robyn Burnett and Ken Luebbering.

Little Germany on the Missouri : the photographs of Edward J. Kemper, 1895-1920 / edited by Anna Kemper Hesse ; Erin McCawley Renn, Adolf E. Schroeder, and Oliver A. Schuchard, contributing editors.

The arts and architecture of German settlements in Missouri : a survey of a vanishing culture by Charles van Ravenswaay.

The St. Louis German Catholics / William Barnaby Faherty.

Beer, brats, and baseball : St. Louis Germans / Jim Merkel.

The whiskey merchant's diary : an urban life in the emerging Midwest / Joseph J. Mersman ; edited by Linda A. Fisher.

Missouri wine country : St. Charles to Hermann / Dianna Graveman and Don Graveman.

Longer than a man's lifetime in Missouri / Gert Goebel ; translated by Adolf E. Schroeder and Elsa Louise Nagel ; edited and with an introduction by Walter D. Kamphoefner and Adolf E. Schroeder.

A good American / Alex George.

Oysters to Angus : three generations of the St. Louis Faust family / Elizabeth Terry.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mystery Series You Might Have Missed

We asked, you answered! Here's a list of some mystery series that the staff at your Kirkwood Library enjoys! Have any to add? Please leave a comment!

The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

Bookmobile Cat Mystery    by Laurie Cass

Carter Ross series by Brad Parks

Charles Lenox series by Charles Finch

Flavia de Luce Series    by Alan Bradley
Joe Pitt Series by Charlie Huston
Kate Burkholder Series by Linda Castillo

Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander
The Last Policeman Trilogy  by Ben H. Winters
Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
Marcus Didius Falco Series by Lindsey Davis

Matthew Scudder Novels  by Lawrence Block
Murder by Month by Jess Lourey
Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood

Ruth Galloway mysteries by Elly Griffiths
The Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs