Monday, December 29, 2014

Deadly Deception

Alys Clare lives in the English countryside where her novels are set, circa 1093. The series known as the Aelf Fen mysteries consists of six books. Featured is the healer Lassair, a young woman. The series explores an England where pagan ways are giving way to Christianity. Lassair is dynamic, having gone to a Christian school, but trained in the ways of her mystic healer family. There is always a mystery, but really, the novels explore living in a very different time from our modern mind set.
 At the start of Clare's sixth Aelf Fen novel, apprentice healer Lassair helps rescue a foreign woman and her infant son from a mob in Cambridge in the fall of 1093. When Lassair and the sheriff's man later go looking for the woman's missing family members, receding flood waters reveal a body that raises suspicions of murder. ML

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Put a wreath on it!

Wreaths are traditional decorations to celebrate the winter holidays but in the new book Wreath Recipe by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo many other seasons and materials are explored. Although the book is divided into seasons and materials for the season, there is an introduction that is all about the underpinnings. Things like tools needed, branch cutting techniques, and attachment techniques are addressed. The photography in this book is outstanding, clear and colorful. How about a summer wreath of apple branches, buddleia, yarrow and ivy, wouldn't that be beautiful?  The wreath featured on the cover of the book is beautiful, with liquidambar leaves, callicarpa berries, asters and rose hips. Where can we get these materials, you might ask. The authors say although many materials can be foraged, your local florist or nursery will also have either have them or know where you could order them. All in all, very inspiring! ML

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Great Green Room

June Andersen, a successful banker in New York City, has inherited a children’s bookstore. Bluebird Books was a fixture in Seattle and great-aunt Ruby managed it for over sixty years. June must return to Seattle, and her estranged family, to settle Ruby’s estate. She is forced to take a deep look at her childhood and her relationship with her mother and sister. While working in the bookstore she discovers a bunch of old letters linking her aunt to Margaret Wise Brown, the well-known author of Goodnight Moon. She also uncovers some secrets her clever Aunt Ruby hid for many years. Goodnight June by Sarah Jio offers us a what-if glimpse into the origin of a classic children’s book. DB

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Adoption and Fostering

Molly Ayer, a foster child, has to do fifty-plus hours of community service to stay out of juvenile detention. She reluctantly agrees to help an elderly widow, Vivian Daly, clean out her attic. Vivian really doesn’t want to get rid of anything and she spends time with Molly reminiscing over old items in her trunks. It turns out that Vivian, an Irish immigrant, was orphaned in New York in the 1920’s and sent by train to the Midwest to be adopted. Molly finds out that she and Vivian have quite a bit in common, and an unlikely friendship blossoms. This story is based on the orphan trains that ran west from New York between 1854 and 1929. Orphan Train: a novel  by Christina Baker Kline  provides an thoughtful look at immigration and adoption in the recent past. DB  

Monday, November 3, 2014

If you can't travel to Paris...

Is the thought of making French food too intimidating for you? Do you think it would be too fussy, to fancy, too...well, French! Dorie Greenspan is here to help you. She is the author of many cookbooks, and her blog, , was named one of the top fifty food blogs in the world by the Times of London. Her newest lovely book, which is owned by OPL, is called Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere.
My own personal pet peeve is no photos in cookbooks, so this one is a treat, with many glossy close-ups. The range of baking is covered here, from cake and cookies to tarts, galettes, and so much more. The emphasis is on clear directions and while not ultra simple, the experienced home cook should have no trouble. Hmm, what shall I bake first? Should it be fancy like Gingerbread Buche de Noel, or a little simpler like Limoncello Cupcakes or Jam-Filled Sandwich Cookies? The book comes in at a hefty 460 pages, so there should be no problem finding something. mmmmm...ML

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Bones of a Saint

Saint Brigid's Bones: A Celtic Adventure, is a novel about the world of ancient Ireland, where Christianity and paganism are existing side by side. St. Brigid's bones have been stolen from the small monastery in Kildare that she established and the sisters face a cold winter. In ancient times pilgrims would make a prayer journey to a monastery and pray in the presence of saintly bones, and make a financial offering. Without the bones, the sisters will have no income, so a young nun, Sister Deirdre is assigned the task of finding them. She is appealing, a bit of a rebel, and comes from a family of pagans and singers, a noble family. This novel is written by a historian, Philip Freeman, and the history is rich and colorful, with sympathetic characters. For those history lovers! ML

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Million Dollar Prize

When your mother, the most remarkable female mathematician in history, dies your world becomes skewed in more ways than one. Alexander Karnokovitch wants to put his mother to rest privately, but it is not to be.  Many colleagues from around the world intend to come and pay their last respects to the remarkable Rachela, and they will not be swayed. Of course it is rumored that she has solved a famous mathematical problem and that solution may be hidden in her home. As the math crowd descends on Madison, Wisconsin—Alexander (Sasha) has to deal with their demanding personalities in addition to his grief. The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer is a funny, introspective, and enlightening novel about academia and family life. DB

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fashion Fix-its

Is your favorite shirt old, worn  and torn? Rips, tears and snags are inevitable. Rather than ditch those damaged articles, learn how to mend them. Denise Wild of BurdaStyle magazine illustrates basic and advanced fix-it techniques that are sure to help you restore your clothes. The fashionable hints at the end of each chapter will help you add that extra zip to your duds.  Mend & Make Fabulous: sewing solutions & fashionable fixes will have you looking refreshed, repaired and ready to roll! DB

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Did You Know?

The Oxford Public Library now has a Book Group collection!  But what does that mean exactly?  It means that we have multiple copies (between 5-7) of single titles available to check out, perfect for your small book group.  For more information, ask a librarian at the Adult Reference Desk, and be sure to browse some of these titles, and more!
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Detroit City Is the Place to Be by Mark Binelli
Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

A difficult woman

Brian Morton's new novel Florence Gordon, is a portrait of a difficult woman. Florence is blunt, unafraid, and brilliant. A lifelong New Yorker, she is a writer, mostly essays and feminist thought. She was involved in the feminist movement and now, in her seventies she is writing her memoir. An article on the front page of the New York Times Book section praises her and she goes from being a minor writer to an icon of the feminist movement to celebrity. Morton also explores, with multiple points of view, relationships with her son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter and how things change between them after the article comes out. The novel never stoops to false sentimentality. The dialog and inner thoughts of the characters are witty and honest. I loved this book. ML

Friday, September 19, 2014

A New Leaf

Autumn is a great time to enjoy the beauty of nature. The leaves are turning colors and slowly leaving the trees. For a truly gratifying look, check out TreesUp Close: The beauty of bark, leaves, flowers, and seeds by Nancy Ross and Robert Llewellyn. These colorful photographs provide a chance to see buds, cones and seeds in varying stages. The book can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. The trees in your backyard never looked so good! DB

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blood on the Snow$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:1887052/one?qu=9781477847718&rt=false%7C%7C%7CISBN%7C%7C%7CISBN
You can think of As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka as Nordic crime fiction "lite" -- it's a young adult thriller in the (less gruesome) vein of works by authors like Jo Nesbø and Stieg Larsson.  This first in a trilogy introduces readers to 17 year-old Lumikki, an invisible outsider living on her own while attending high school in frigid Tampere.  When she discovers a stash of euros covered in blood, she's pulled into a dangerous mystery that takes her deep inside the Finnish criminal underworld.  Honed by a childhood trauma that is hinted at throughout the book, Lumikki possesses a unique skillset that makes her part detective, part action star -- she herself jokes that she is the secret lovechild of Lisbeth Salander and Hercule Poirot.  Fast moving, this title is enjoyable on its own, but is also an effective setup for the rest of the trilogy, as readers will want to know more about Lumikki and her own mysterious background.  HM

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The end of the world as we know it...

Set in the days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, is a novel about the twists of fate that bring us together. As a Hollywood star has a heart attack and dies on stage, the virus that will change the world takes over. An EMT leaps on the stage in attempt to save him and a child actress watches in horror. The lives of these characters intersect, in the twenty years after the collapse, in unusual ways, which is part of the charm of the book. Spanning decades with multiple points of view this suspenseful novel is full of beauty and humor as well as the darkness of the times. ML

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Totally Awesome Towels!

Have you ever been on a cruise and wondered how they make all those cute little towel animals? Well check out The Lost Art of Towel Origami for the answer! Author Alison Jenkins gives instructions for a cute fish, puppy, and ladybug. There’s even a basket made of towels that you can fill with bath goodies. This book is full of great ideas to customize gifts for birthdays, showers or just bath-time treats.  You could even try the designs with napkins for a special dinner party. Enjoy! DB