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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Dark Past

Julia Jarmond, an American writer who is living in Paris, is connected to a very dark time in French history. While on assignment to research the 60th anniversary of the Velodrome d’Hiver roundups, the mass arrest of Jews in 1942 occupied Paris, she discovers a link to her husband’s family. The apartment they have inherited was once occupied by a Jewish family named Starzynski. The only survivor was 10 year-old Sarah. Julia is determined to uncover the connection between her in-laws and this family. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay is captivating. As Julia works tirelessly to unearth secrets from the past she manages to find a brighter path to her future. DB

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Breaking the Rules

Have you ever started reading a book, only to discover about halfway through that it's the second book in a trilogy (if you read Nora Roberts, I'm sure this sounds familiar)? It's a major pet peeve for a lot of library patrons, so what I'm about to say might sound a little strange. I recently read In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson, and absolutely loved it. The caveat? It's the 10th book in the author's long-running Inspector Banks series (out of a staggering 19). Having not read any of the previous nine titles, I half-expected to be a bit lost. Not so! In a Dry Season begins with the mystery writer's cliché of the discovery of a body -- only this particular body is found in the mud of a depleted reservoir, which in turn was constructed on top of a village decades ago. Robinson expertly weaves Inspector Banks' modern day murder investigation with flashbacks and memories of the people who lived in the village during World War II. Along the way, the reader picks up tidbits about Banks' troubled background (including a failed marriage and his demotion to the backwaters of Yorkshire), filling in the blanks presumably detailed in the earlier books in the series. So go ahead, be brave! Read a series out of order --after all, sometimes it feels good to be bad. HM

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Way up in Michigan!

Ellen Airgood's novel South of Superior takes place in a very small town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Although calling a novel "heartwarming" usually is damning with faint praise, sometimes one wants a plucky heroine immersed in a small town where everyone knows everyone else! The characters are individual,quirky without being cute,and the plot moves along with enough action to make it interesting. Our heroine, Madeline Stone moves from Chicago to this small town to find out more about the family she never knew. Old secrets are found out,and Madeline comes to understand herself and the family members she is seeking. A fun and yes,heartwarming read. M.L.