Tuesday, December 27, 2011


If you love The Beatles, (and who doesn’t?) check out George Harrison: Living In The Material World by Olivia Harrison. Numerous black and white photos lead down memory lane. Many direct quotes from George, his family and friends describe how things really were. There are mementos from the early days in Liverpool, the time in Germany and The Beatles’ first trip to America. The second half of the book showcases George’s growth both spiritually and as a musician. It’s a wonderful look at his life. Enjoy! DB

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fun and frothy

Clare Cosi, manager and head barista of the landmark Village Blend coffeehouse, can brew a beverage to die for. But can she stir up some evidence against a bitter killer who has gone loco for mocha? Clare's Village Blend beans are being used to create a new java love potion: a "Mocha Magic Coffee" billed as an aphrodisiac. Clare may even try some on her boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn-when he's off duty of course. The product, expected to rake in millions, will be sold exclusively on Aphrodite's Village, one of the Web's most popular online communities for women. But the launch party ends on a sour note when one of the Web site's editors is found dead. Murder by mocha is a light and fun mystery with recipes and coffee-making tips! KR

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Holiday Classic -- With A Twist

I have a love/hate relationship with Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. I like the music, but having spent my formative years in over 6 productions of the ballet, I know the score inside and out -- which somewhat hinders my enjoyment of the holiday classic. For a new take on some familiar tunes, I checked out Harlem Nutcracker, a collection of jazz-inspired renditions arranged by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and David Berger. Close listeners of Tchaikovsky's original music will be able to pick out "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" in "Sugar Rum Cherry" and the "March" in "Peanut Brittle Brigade." So instead of the same old Nutcracker, try something a little different this holiday season! HM

Monday, December 19, 2011

Author Les Standiford delves into the story of one of the most ubiquitous tales in Western culture in The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Beginning with Dickens' own impoverished childhood, Standiford chronicles the writers' ascent to stardom and fall to near bankruptcy at the time of his penning A Christmas Carol in 1843. With his story of the miserly Scrooge, Dickens was able to turn his career around and ignite a public sentimentality that had been long missing from the Christmas holiday (along with a massive increase in turkey sales).

Be sure to also check out some of Oxford's movie adaptations of Dickens' classic. HM

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter in the Country

Fans of Flavia de Luce,the bratty,chemistry obsessed eleven year old, will want to read the latest in the series. In I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, it's Christmas, and a film crew is at the crumbling mansion in the country Flavia shares with her befuddled dad and two mean older sisters. When the star of the film turns up with film tied around her neck in a strangulation bow, Flavia solves the mystery in spite of the adults who try to dampen her zest for all things sinister. Engaging writing,a precocious heroine and the gloomy country house that contributes to the mood make this a winner. M.L.

Death, in the style of Jane Austen

P.D. James is one of England's premier mystery writers and usually sets her mysteries in contemporary times. In her new novel, Death Comes to Pemberley, she writes in the style and era of Jane Austen. We pick up where Pride and Prejudice left off, with Jane living at her husband's grand estate, Pemberley. When her flighty and disgraced sister and husband come to visit, a comrade of her husband is found slain in the woods. If you are a fan of mysteries or Jane Austen this will be an interesting read. M.L.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Everyone Has the Right to Enjoy It"

For anyone who has visited the Louvre, for those who would like to, and for art lovers everywhere The Louvre: All the Paintings is the must-see reference book at the Library. This catalog of paintings on display at the Louvre (over 3,000 in all) is priceless and will give hours of enjoyment. This book includes essays on each school of art represented in the book (Italian, North, French, and Spanish) and commentary by art historians on over 400 pieces. For anyone who has ever looked at a painting and wondered "what is that all about?" the commentaries will facsinate you as they talk about the artist, symbolism and historical significance. Just as you can't see everything in the Louvre in one visit, plan on visiting this book over and over again. SG

Friday, December 9, 2011

That's a wrap!

The shopping is done. Let the wrapping begin! Need some new ideas? Take a look at The Gift Wrapping Book: Over 150 Ideas for all Occasions by Caroline Birkett. Odd-shaped presents pose no problem with these colorful suggestions. There are instructions for making boxes, bags and envelopes for every shape. Directions for making different bows and wrappings made of recycled materials will make gifts cheerful and interesting. Various patterns and templates are also included. Add a personalized gift tag and you’re done. This book will really get your creative juices flowing. Great ideas to wrap up your wrapping! DB

Monday, December 5, 2011

Defend the Turf

Attack the Block is a comedy/horror movie (think Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) with a surprising dash of morality thrown in. When an alien crash lands in their council estate, a gang of teenagers do what anybody else would: they kill it. However, this one fatal decision causes a full-scale alien invasion and the boys and their leader, Moses, are left to defend the block. They team up with Sam, a woman they had previously mugged, to thwart the police, fight against drug dealers, and protect their neighborhood. Along the way, both Sam and Moses begin to realize that they are responsible for the consequences caused by their actions and prejudices. HM

Fun for the whole family... Squirrel!!

Looking for an uplifting (literally) movie that's got something for the whole family? Look Up!

Carl always promised to take his wife, Ellie, to Paradise Falls, South America, a gorgeous spot made famous by their idol, explorer Charles Muntz. Unfortunately, something always got in the way. Carl and Ellie grew old, and Ellie passed away, leaving Carl to stew in his memories and the fact he never fulfilled his promise. When developers trying to get the land Carl's house is built on try to get him committed to a retirement home, Carl surprises everyone by attaching thousands of helium balloons to his house and flying away. But it wasn't a solo flight. Russell, a cute but over-enthusiastic Wildnerness Explorer looking to get his Assisting the Elderly Badge, just happened to be on Carl's porch at the time of lift off. This odd couple ends up--where else?--in Paradise Falls. Here they meet Dug, a lovable talking dog who claims Carl for his new master, and Kevin, a rare tropical bird who takes a liking to Russell--and Russell's chocolate stash. Carl's plans to move his house to the top of the falls before the helium runs out are disrupted when Russell insists on first leading Kevin back home to her (yes, her) babies. Things are further complicated when they find themselves on the wrong end of Muntz's evil plot to kidnap Kevin and bring her back to the States to settle an old grudge. Lessons are learned. Realizations are made. There is a daring rescue. And plenty of heartwarming fun.

Up is one of the best films to be released by Disney in recent years. Also included on the disc are two adorable film shorts: Partly Cloudy, about a stork who must deliver some unconventional babies, and Dug's Mission, in which viewers learn how this cute canine ended up meeting Carl and Russell in the first place. (5 out of 5 stars) --AJL

A funny dish!

I almost hesitate to call Alton Brown's (of the TV cooking show) new book a cookbook because it is stuffed with not only recipes, but drawings, food history and the chemistry behind the food. Oh, and not least, a heaping helping of the trademark Alton Brown humor. Food dishes as common as pumpkin pie and as exotic as whole fish (yes, with the head!) are given the in-depth treatment in the new Good Eats 3:the Later Years Love it! M.L.

a sea voyage

Michael Ondaatje is prolific,he has written five novels,a memoir, poetry and non-fiction. His book The English Patient won the Booker Prize and was made into a wonderful film. His new novel, The Cat's Table, is the story of an ocean crossing in the fifties, from the viewpoint of an eleven-year old boy. "As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship,it tells a spellbinding story about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood."(Book Jacket) I have read many novels by this author, my favorite is In the Skin of a Lion, with some of the most beautiful descriptions I have ever read. M.L.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Seasons Eatings

Entertaining for the holidays? Looking for some different and unique dishes? Check out bite by bite: 100 stylish little plates you can make for any party by Peter Callahan. The recipes and presentations in this book are fantastic! Callahan is known as the king of the mini menu. He has been catering for over twenty years and has created special dishes for many celebrities, including Martha Stewart. His small plate selections include comfort foods, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and party appetizers. He can really jazz up a PB & J. There are edibles for every meal and some very interesting beverage concoctions. The fabulous photos will really get you cooking. Add some spice to your holiday menu! 'Tis the season for some great eatin'.DB

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What a character!

Jeannette Walls's novel The Glass Castle, about her erratic mother, spent three years on The New York Times bestseller list. Her second novel, Half Broke Horses, tells the story of Walls's no-nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town - riding five hundred miles on her pony to get there. She learned to drive a car, fly a plane, and, with her husband, managed a vast ranch in Arizona. Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods and the Great Depression but never lost her spunk or spirit. A truly amazing and eye-opening look at a hard life well lived. KR

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


In the spirit of the season, check out Margaret Visser's The Gift of Thanks, a look at gratitude from an anthropological perspective. Visser divides her book into six parts, journeying from the outwardly mundane exercise of saying "thank you" to exploring the genuine feeling of gratefulness. She also delves into the cultural and biological roots of emotions and how they have shaped our civilizations and interpersonal relationships for millennia. HM

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Communicating with ancient stones.

Stonehenge is a monument in England, constructed of massive stones in ancient times, we don't have a clear understanding of why this monument was built. In The Stonehenge Legacy, Sam Christer imagines an underground cult worshiping the stones. A young man, Gideon Chase, receives news that his estranged father has killed himself. When he goes to investigate and bury his father, he finds clues to cult worship and blood sacrifice. Stuffed with details about Stonehenge, symbols, and clues, this is a riveting read with an exciting conclusion. M.L.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hot Crime in the City

Heat Wave by Richard Castle is about a female New York City detective who is hard as nails tough, sexy (of course! her name is Nikki Heat after all) and a true believer in fighting for what's right. Tailing her as a 'ride along' is Jameson Rook (Jameson after the whiskey) author for The Ledger, a Rolling Stone type publication, where Jameson has written about everything from Mick Jagger to Afghanistan. Dead bodies, criminals, thugs, and a killer Heat Wave in New York make this a book you can't put down...and the 'heat' isn't only in the weather! Richard Castle is well known for the ABC comedy crime drama Castle. SG

Cruel Yule!

If the upcoming holidays bring out your inner Grinch, you may want to take an irreverent look at the season with comic David Sedaris. In Holidays on Ice, he describes his hilarious stint as an elf in Macy’s Santa Land. Sedaris shares his frustration while viewing a local school’s Christmas Pageant. He compares Dutch and American holiday customs in a fairly obnoxious way.Even Halloween and Easter traditions provide a target for his teasing. While this book tends to be offensive and off-beat, it made me laugh. It might be just the thing needed to beat the holiday blues. DB

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dealing With The Devil

Detective Chief Inspector John Luther has a lot of problems. He's incredibly volatile, he's haunted by the terrible crimes he investigates, his marriage is falling apart, and a psychopath is obsessed with him. But he's also a brilliant detective who will stop at nothing to punish the deserving for their monstrous actions. Always balancing on a tight-rope across a moral grey area, will Luther be pushed over the edge when he faces the ultimate betrayal? Find out in Luther: Season 1. And keep an eye out for Season 2, coming soon to the Oxford Public Library! HM

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog for Teen Readers

Like what we've done here with the OPL Staff Recommendations Blog? Well, we now have a similar blog dedicated specifically to books, movies, music, and programs that would interest our teen patrons. Check out OPL Teen Picks to see what our Teen Staff recommends. And remember: Although these books were selected with teens (grades 6-12) in mind, you don't have to be a teenager to enjoy them. Visit OPL Teen Picks today and see what we've been blogging about. --AJL

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All Good Things Come to Those Who Shoot Straight

It's deer season unlike any other, eh!

Ruban Soady is cursed. Unlike his famously outdoors-y relatives before him, he's never gotten a buck. But this year could be different. This year at deer camp mysterious things happen: Strange lights appear in the sky (UFOs?), the Euchre cards change face, the camp's supply of homemade sweet sap whisky turns to maple syrup, and the DNR stops for more than just a casual visit. Terrifying! Strangest of all, this might be the year Ruban finally gets his buck!

Adapted from a play written by Jeff Daniels, Escanaba in da Moonlight has become a (deer) seasonal favorite--especially among Michigan natives. But you don't have to be a deer hunter to appreciate this feel-good comedy about believing in your dreams and making them come true. --AJL

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

If you like strong first-person narratives, I invite you to take the hand of ten-year old Paddy Clarke and let him lead you through his engaging tale of growing up in 1960s Ireland. Roddy Doyle expertly captures the voice of his young protagonist in the Booker Prize-winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, guiding readers through Paddy's thoughts and recollections, sometimes jumping from one story to another and back again. Against the backdrop of his parents' deteriorating marriage, Paddy details his exploits in Barrytown (including setting fires, enduring school humiliations, and torturing his little brother, "Sinbad"). The tone of the story starts out lighthearted and gradually becomes more wistful, culminating in the origin of the book's title as Paddy leaves the innocence of childhood behind. HM

Check out this interview with Roddy Doyle and discover how Paddy came to be: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/aug/29/paddy-clarke-ha-roddy-doyle

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Epic Tales of Shame and Infamy

If you need a good laugh then pick up any book by Laurie Notaro - it's sure to put you in a good mood. She's the bestselling author of The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club and her newest humorous memoir, It Looked Different on the Model, is a hoot! She puts a fun spin on everything from trying on a piece of clothing that's too small, but if we pull hard enough we can make it fit, to dealing with middle of the night snack attacks. Real life chick-lit for every age. SG

Monday, November 7, 2011

House is Cat's Meow

What started as a project to build a simple scratching post for their beloved cats turned into a complete remodeling job for Bob and Diane Walker--all to make their home more home-y for their extensive feline family. The Cats' House is truly a feline's dream come true! Throughout there are numeorus scratching posts, staircases, walkways (catwalks, if you will), and countless nooks and cranneies that are perfect for hiding, playing, and napping. Many of which are accessible only if one is a cat. This full-color book takes readers on a room-by-room tour of The Cats' House and explains the inspirations behind many of the designs that are truly (functional) works of art. Looking to do something nice for your kitty? Or just want something interesting to read? Look no further than The Cat's House! --AJL

Things kept hidden.

In 1957 Jane was eleven years old and her father disappeared. When his skull rolled out of the gravel pit three years later with a bullet hole in it, rumors went around he had been killed by his mistress's husband. Now, years later Jane plays a weekly scrabble game with the mistress, Ada. Her daughter has a powerful attraction to one of Ada's sons. While this sounds like a soap opera, Game of Secrets is rather a beautifully written novel about the intertwined relationships in a small town. At once a love story and a mystery, it is moving and surprising. Highly recommended! M.L.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Short and Sweet

I love seasonal reads, and this tiny book by Truman Capote is just perfect. In A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, & The Thanksgiving Visitor, Capote takes a nostalgic look at his early childhood in rural Alabama. Separated from his parents and living with distant older relatives, he describes his world in wonderful detail. His best friend is a sixty-something, developmentally delayed cousin named Miss Sook Faulk. They do everything together-- chores, homework, reading, and holiday baking. Miss Sook nurtures the best of human qualities in young Truman with her gentle childlike ways. Although he addresses some not-so-sweet issues: bullying, drinking and separation, his description of long-ago Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays is enjoyable. A beautifully bittersweet book.DB

Get Ready for the Apocalypse!

Who knew the cello could rock so hard! New to the Oxford Public Library's music collection is Amplified, by Apocalyptica. Not your typical string quartet, this band is perhaps best known for their instrumental covers of Metallica's greatest hits. But they also play more classically-inspired pieces as well--with a hard rock edge, of course. Check out their head-banging version of Hall of the Mountain King! You may forget you're listening to instruments typically reserved for orchestra music. A bonus disc features vocal stylings from some of today's hottest metal bands. You can find Amplified in the Hard Rock drawer of the library's newly-reorganized music collection. Check it out today! --AJL

A Comedy of Errors

It's the year 4022, more than 2,000 years after a global catastrophe wiped out most of civilization. The story centers around Howard Carson, an amateur archaeologist. One day, Howard stumbles through a hole in the ground and makes a fantastic discovery: In front of him is a door to an ancient burial chamber, the first ever found perfectly preserved. Inside is a treasure trove of ancient wonders and mysterious artefact's from a time long past. Read how Howard and his team carefully catalog the strange objects found inside the burial chamber and try to guess how each one was used by the ancient civilization (us) of their studies. And how very wrong their guesses are!

The Motel of Mysteries is part dystopia, part science fiction, and part satire. And keep this last part in mind as you read! This book is not meant to be taken too seriously (example: The object the archaeologists believe was used as a Sacred Ceremonial Headdress by our society). Along with humor is an interesting message about how wrong we can be in our assumptions about societies and cultures we really know nothing about. And it begs the question: In our real-life studies of peoples long gone (the Incas & Aztecs, for example), how accurate are we really when it comes to knowing about them from the artifacts they left behind? We could be as off-base in our knowledge as Howard and his team. Makes you think, doesn't it? --AJL

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Philosophical Fiction

Rene is an aging and seemingly unremarkable concierge in a posh French apartment building, and Paloma is a twelve-year-old intellectual prodigy whose family owns an flat in the same building. Outwardly, no two tenants could appear to be more dissimilar. However, in following their stories, told in the characters' own inimitable voices, the reader will discover that the two tenants share a careful and philosophical view of the world that is a privilege to unravel.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, written masterfully by the French author Muriel Barbery, is tale for those who have a fondness for language, literature, and deeply complex characters. OEO

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Your Next Epic Adventure

Maerad is a slave girl, orphaned, and living a miserable existence. She is only able to escape the worst kinds of torture because everyone thinks she's a witch child who will bring plague and famine if she's treated too poorly. But her life is still far from pleasant. Then one day everything changes. A mysterious stranger, Cadvan, arrives and hints that Maerad may not be who she's always thought she was. Turns out Maerad is a Bard, one of an elite group of magicians and healers resopnsible for maintaining the balance of light and dark throughout the Land of Annar. What's more, Maerad may be The Chosen One, destined to destroy The Nameless, the terrible evil threatening to plunge all of Annar into darkness. Thus begins Maerad's training as a Bard and her epic journey to discover her true identity and destiny.

The Naming is the first book in Alison Croggin's Books of Pellinor series, which can be found on the Teen Area's "series" shelf. Croggon does a remarkable job in crafting an entirely new and believable fantasy world, and her exquisitely detailed writing is reminicent of J.R.R. Tolkien (there's even a map in the front of the book so readers can follow Maerad on her journey). Those looking for the next Epic Adveture need look no further than The Naming. --AJL

Monday, October 31, 2011

Good Old-Fashioned Haunting

In the spirit of Halloween, settle down for this quick read: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I'm not a huge fan of scary stories, but this one had the right amount of thriller and supernatural creepiness to keep me on the edge of my seat (and not too afraid to be alone in the dark). Though published in the early 1980s, Hill sets her ghostly tale somewhere in the early part of the 1900s on the desolate marshes of England's northeast coast. Arthur Kipps, a young up-and-coming lawyer is sent to the secluded Eel Marsh House to settle the estate of it's most recent inhabitant, Alice Drablow. Instead, he finds himself caught in a web of terrifying apparitions and unexplainable sounds. And to add to the tension, Eel Marsh House just so happens to be situated at the end of a causeway and is only accessible when the tide is out. If this story sounds a little familiar, it's because The Woman in Black has already been made into a stage play, a TV movie, two radio programs, and will be introduced to the big screen early next year (starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame as Kipps). HM

Death Tells a Story

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak is narrated by Death himself. Since the story takes place during World War II, death is an appropriate narrator to this story of a young girl, Liesel, who becomes a book thief. The first book she takes, before she has even learned to read, is "The Gravedigger's Handbook" stolen from a gravedigger working on her younger brother's grave. The Book Thief is about Liesel, the books she steals and her life on Himmel Street in Germany. "The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s Night. It seems poised to become a classic" (USA Today). SG

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Calling all Crafters!

The queen of crafts does it again in her new book—Martha Stewart’s handmade Holiday Crafts: 225 Inspired Projects for Year-Round Celebrations. If you are looking for ideas for gifts, decorations or holiday displays, check it out! You'll love the colorful creative crafts for all ages. They range from very easy to a bit complex. The materials may cost a little, but the final product will be worth it. She lists several crafts for each major holiday. The book also includes basic techniques and templates. The buyer’s guide lists brands and contact information for supplies. A new how-to for the holiday season --now's a great time to get started!DB

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Green" Bling!

These days, jewelry doesn't have to be fresh off the showroom floor to be considered beautiful (even Princess Kate's famous engagement ring is recycled from generations past). In Jewelry Upcycled, crafters Sherri and Michelle Haab show you how to repair, recycle, and reinvent old or broken jewelry to create something entirely new and Bling-worthy. Take that old broach with the bent clasp and transform it into a vintage-looking necklace! Put the beads from that broken bracelet to good use as a pair of earrings! This mother-daughter team of crafters will even show you how to take everyday objects (an old spoon, bubble wrap, tape from old cassettes) and turn them into some very cool, very wearable jewelry.

Some of the projects are a bit complex and others will require assistance from a parent (for the more youthful crafters out there), but this book is definitely worth checking out! --AJL


For those who maybe aren't ready for winter or don't even want to hear the word, "snow," this book might make you feel a little bit better about Michigan weather. In The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in Lapland, travel writer and translator Barbara Sjoholm journeys from her home in Washington to the arctic circle -- in December. Just a reminder here: the winter solstice usually occurs around December 20th, marking the shortest day of the year. In the far north, that means that for weeks before and after the solstice, the sun never actually rises. Sjoholm recounts her adventures in this perpetual twilight, including a trip to the original Ice Hotel, a visit to Santa's Village, an ill-conceived dog-sledding excursion, and an outdoor film festival where the movies are projected onto a giant sheet of ice. Along the way, she slowly comes to realize that the untouched north is full of vibrant and sometimes irreconcilable stories. HM

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mysterious powers

In The Hum and the Shiver, author Alex Bledsoe tells the tale of the Tufa, a small group of people who arrived in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee long before white settlers. They have deep superstitions and magical powers mixed with the music they all play. When Private Brown Hyatt, a Tufa, returns home from Iraq she is wounded in body and spirit. The omens her family can read point to an impending death, can she read the signs in time to help her family? Good storytelling for those who like magical reality. M.L.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shine, shine, shine....

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need a moment to relax, pick up Light a Candle by Sylvia Browne. It is a tiny book filled with calming thoughts and meditations. Even the pictures are soothing. In the introduction, she talks about the energy of candles and the benefits they offer. The book includes affirmations for family, health and wisdom. Always an animal lover, Sylvia even has a page devoted to pets. A mini-read but worth it! DB

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thunder Dog!

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson. On 9/11 Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle were at work on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center when the first terrorist plane crashed into the building. Not knowing what had happened they headed for the stairs to get out of the building. The days events create a remarkable story of loyalty and calm in the face of a terrifying event. As you read about Michael Hingson you understand how he has never let blindness stop him from living each day to the fullest and how his upbringing prepared him to deal with the events of 9/11. An inspiring story. SG

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Night of the Unread

If you've been in the library recently, you may have seen our display of books that have not checked out in awhile. Maybe they lived on a bottom shelf, maybe they had an ugly cover -- whatever the reason, these are truly hidden gems that have been looked over in the past. For example, as soon as you see Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon, it's pretty easy to guess why it's been ignored; at a daunting 773 pages, it's a major undertaking. But that doesn't mean that it's not worth it. Following the fictionalized adventures of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon (as in the Mason-Dixon Line), Pynchon takes readers on a whirlwind tour "featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political, and major caffeine abuse " (from the inside flap). If that doesn't sound worth the 773 pages, I don't know what does. HM

Friday, October 14, 2011

Healthy Choices

If you're concerned about your weight, take a look at The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet. This book was compiled by experts from the Mayo Clinic and is not just for diabetics. It is divided into three parts: Lose It!, Live It! and All the extra stuff. The authors have identified 5 good habits and 5 bad habits for dieters. They also list 5 bonus habits to help keep you on track. Recipes, serving sizes, behavior strategies and an action guide are included. This colorful, informative, easy-to-read book is great for anyone who wants to get healthy. DB

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Chilling Read

Harbor by John Lindqvist (translated from the Swedish) is the story of a man but it is also the story of a place, of a thing. Anders and Cecilia and their daughter Maja are out exploring the frozen channel when Maja disappears, practically right in front of her parents. Unable to get over this the couple split and two years later Anders returns back to the scene. Strange happenings build into a feeling of dread that makes the book hard to put down. The character development is outstanding with a wonderful flow to the history of the harbor and it's inhabitants. Don't let the 'epic-ness' of the book be a deterrent. John Lindqvist is the author of Let the Right One In, which was made into a popular, must see horror film. SG

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

home decorating

Love home decorating? Read design blogs? You'll love Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney. Author of the blog DesignSponge, Bonney takes us into reader's homes (called Sneak Peeks) and also includes DIY projects and "before and afters" which features old furniture repurposed and redone. Design Sponge represents a new era in home decorating. Formerly the province of glossy magazines and high end decorators, the Internet has given us quirky design blogs and the ethic of DIY. The book also features tons of photos and information. ML

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Halloween Scene!

It’s time to get your ghost on! The Big Book of Halloween Fun by Susie Johns is a great guide. The creative recipes will tempt all your little ghouls. The simple crafts are good for younger children. There are costumes that will appeal to all ages. Ten pages of templates are included for those who need a pattern. Don't forget the fun and games. Quick, easy and spooky suggestions for some happy haunting. DB

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

All Ye Know on Earth, and All Ye Need to Know

Many people recognize Ann Patchett as a writer of realistic fiction, including the PEN/Faulker Award-winning novel, Bel Canto, and her recently published best seller, State of Wonder. While I, too, have read and enjoyed her novels, none have affected me as strongly as her memoir, Truth and Beauty: A Friendship. The story revolves around Patchett's relationship with fellow celebrated author and poet, Lucy Grealy (Autobiography of a Face). While Patchett describes herself as stoic and hardworking, Grealy is a personality to be reckoned with, living life with the brilliance, violence, and transience of a firecracker.

The experience of following Patchett and Grealy's friendship, from their beginnings as creative writing students at Sarah Lawrence through their grapples with adulthood and all that comes with it, is at times both gratifying and devastating. Both in print and audiobook format, this title is highly recommended. OEO

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Worth a Second Look

I've heard a lot of people say that they started to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but never made it through to the end. If there is one book that is worth a second try, it's Betty Smith's classic coming-of-age tale. Set in the early part of the 20th century, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the trials and triumphs of young Francie Nolan as she navigates a bittersweet childhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Francie's story is punctuated with the comings and goings of a variety of strong secondary characters, who serve to move the narrative in unexpected and sometimes heart-wrenching directions. This is definitely a book where the characters stick with you long after you've finished the last page. HM

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Calling all Historians!

Have we got the book for you! Discover the Civil War is a fresh new look at an old topic. This book was published as a special companion to an exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The chapters are themed and provide an up-close and personal look at the war through the eyes of everyday people. Learn about the Confederacy and read the Confederate Constitution. Find out about surprising connections among leaders of the Union and Confederate armies. Learn about women who enlisted and fought disguised as men. Look at drawings of enemy camps done from hot air balloons. Read first-hand accounts of battles in letters written to loved ones at home. Read the touching letter of a slave asking the President if she was free. This is definitely one of the best books available. DB

Friday, September 23, 2011

So Many Choices!

The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches: Recipes, History, and Trivia for Everything Between Sliced Bread by Susan Russo is just the sort of book you DON'T want to read when you're hungry. Sandwiches like the "Jucy Lucy" will have you drooling onto the pages. And if you've never had a Croque-Monsieur you have to try this well-known French creation (it's all in the clarified butter). We all know the Philly Cheesesteak came from Philadelphia but now that I've browsed through this book I know that when I'm in Pittsburgh I have to try a Primanti. The most curious combination to me is the recipe for the Potato Chip Sandwich which has peanut butter, pickles and potato chips, which I am determined to try, but I'll save room for dessert - maybe the pound cake sandwich? SG

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Left Behind

Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta, is about an unexplained mass disappearance of millions of people. It follows the story of the residents of one small town who all handle this apocalyptic event in a variety of ways. Some drop out of school, others run away, a few join newly sprung cults, such as The Guilty Remnant. Nora, who lost her entire family, and Kevin, who didn't lose anyone the day of the disappearance but lost his family all the same, are two of the main characters in this somewhat slow-moving, but intriguing story. Don't expect a thrilling page turner but expect more of an interesting character study. The book is not religious, or preachy at all, but it does make you consider your beliefs and imagine what you would do if this happened in real life. SG

In For A Wild Ride

When I saw this title on our New Book shelf, I was beyond excited. Jo Nesbø is one of my favorite authors, and I had no idea that he had a new book out. My enthusiasm increased when I scanned the summary on the back and realized that this was going to be a great read. Headhunters is, at heart, a thriller. The unlikely protagonist is Roger Brown, a cunning headhunter for a top firm in Oslo, who just so happens to be a successful art thief on the side. But his carefully manicured life is thrown upside down when he meets Clas Greve, a candidate he is recruiting for a Norwegian technology company. We follow Brown as he finds himself the unwilling participant in a cross-country caper, North by Northwest-style, with a finale that will keep you guessing until the very end.

If you enjoy this title, check out Nesbø's Harry Hole series, following the self-destructive detective's twisted path to redemption. HM

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's All About the Recipes

Small town southern life (and small town southern cooking) is portrayed in Friendship Cake by Lynne Hinton. This story surrounds five women from Hope Springs, North Carolina, who are talked into putting together a church cookbook. Reluctant at first the women begin to share more than recipes as they learn each others stories and develop lasting friendships. The best part of the book is the recipe that is found at the start of each woman's story. Try the egg custard recipe which is easy and delicious, just like this book. An old favorite - this story is recommended for book group discussions. SG