Archive for January, 2014

In Honor of Chinese New Year

Friday, January 31st, 2014

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (Find in our catalog).

“New York Times bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan brings us her latest novel: a sweeping, evocative epic of two women’s intertwined fates and their search for identity—from the lavish parlors of Shanghai courtesans to the fog- shrouded mountains of a remote Chinese village

Shanghai, 1912. Violet Minturn is the privileged daughter of the American madam of the city’s most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, Violet is separated from her mother in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a “virgin courtesan.” Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet grapples with her place in the worlds of East and West—until she is able to merge her two halves, empowering her to become a shrewd courtesan who excels in the business of seduction and illusion, though she still struggles to understand who she is.

Back in 1897 San Francisco, Violet’s mother, Lucia, chooses a disastrous course as a sixteen-year-old, when her infatuation with a Chinese painter compels her to leave her home for Shanghai. Shocked by her lover’s adherence to Chinese traditions, she is unable to change him, despite her unending American ingenuity.

Fueled by betrayals, both women refuse to submit to fate and societal expectations, persisting in their quests to recover what was taken from them: respect; a secure future; and, most poignantly, love from their parents, lovers, and children. To reclaim their lives, they take separate journeys—to a backwater hamlet in China, the wealthy environs of the Hudson River Valley, and, ultimately, the unknown areas of their hearts, where they discover what remains after their many failings to love and be loved.

Spanning more than forty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement transports readers from the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty to the beginning of the Republic and recaptures the lost world of old Shanghai through the inner workings of courtesan houses and the lives of the foreigners living in the International Settlement, both erased by World War II. A deeply evocative narrative of the profound connections between mothers and daughters, imbued with Tan’s characteristic insight and humor, The Valley of Amazement conjures a story of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and obstinacy of love.” (Book flap text)

You may also like:

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (Find in our catalog)

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (Find in our catalog)


Oscar Nomations: Book-to-Film Adaptations

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Four of the nine best picture nominations for this year’s Academy Awards, which will be presented March 2, are based on books.

12 Years a Slave, based on the autobiography by Solomon Northup. (Find the book in our catalog)

Captain Phillips, based on A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips & Stephan Talty. (Find the book in our catalog)

The Wolf of Wall Street, based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir. (Find the book in our catalog)

Philomena, based on The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith.  (Find the book in our catalog)


Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

(Find this book in our catalog)  When some artifacts go missing, archaeologist Lina Taylor is drawn back to her home on the east coast of Mexico. She is accompanied by ex-immigration officer Hunter Johnston. As they search for the artifacts, they begin a relationship that grows as steamy as the jungle around Lina’s home. The tension,  anticipation & danger escalate the nearer they get to the artifacts, &  reach a pinnacle on the night of December 21, 2012, when the Maya celebration for the end of the world demands the rise of the god Kawa’il. If you are looking for a novel with passion, adventure & thrills, this is it. It is a fast, absorbing read that keeps the action going to the end. Anyone who has traveled in the Riviera Maya area will appreciate the setting & Maya culture. See Ms. Lowell’s latest novel, Dangerous Refuge, read her biography & look for more information on the author & her books.

Posted by Julia

First Look Book Club

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Wondering what the next great read will be? The next author that everyone is talking about?  It’s here. It’s new! It’s free!The First Look Book Club, sponsored by Random House LLC.

Read a book, dunk a homemade chocolate chip cookie, win a new pair of socks, enter a writing contest, exchange emails with authors, discover the next surprise bestseller everyone is talking about.

Experience 5-minutes of crazy-fun in your daily email and you’ll be ready to face the day. Sample the best in Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Nonfiction, Literary Fiction and more. Read, laugh, smile and every now and then shed a little tear.

Join First Look Book Club.  Idid – it’s very easy.  I will also put a link for joining on BlogaBook’s blogroll.


50th Anniversary of the British Invasion

Monday, January 27th, 2014

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles’ historic U.S. debut on The Ed Sullivan Show shook up the industry and started one of the most revolutionary eras in music. Browse below to find must-read books about the Fab Four.

Beatle Invasion by Bob Spitz (on order)

The Beatles by Hunter Davies (Find this book in our catalog).  “During 1967 and 1968 Hunter Davies spent eighteen months with the Beatles at the peak of their powers as they defined a generation and rewrote popular music. As their only authorized biographer, he had unparalleled access—not just to John, Paul, George, and Ringo but also to friends, family, and colleagues. Davies collected a wealth of intimate and revealing material that still makes this the classic Beatles book—the one all other biographers look to. He remained close with the band and had access to more information over the years. This edition brings the story up-to-date with new material on the Beatles’s solo careers and lives, as well as the stories of many other people who appear in the book. Drawing on new material from the author’s archives and from the Beatles themselves, including a newly discovered song lyric by George Harrison, this edition brings new insights to the Beatles legend.” – (Norton Publishing)

The Beatles are Coming!: the birth of Beatlemania in America by Bruce Spizer ; foreword by Walter Cronkite (Find this book in our catalog).



The Beatles are Here!: 50 years after the band arrived in America, writers and other fans remember  by Penelope Rowlands (Find this book in our catalog).  “The arrival of the Beatles was one of those unforgettable cultural touchstones. Through the voices of those who witnessed it or were swept up in it indirectly, The Beatles Are Here! explores the emotional impact—some might call it hysteria—of the Fab Four’s February 1964 dramatic landing on our shores. Contributors, including Lisa See, Gay Talese, Renée Fleming, Roy Blount, Jr., and many others, describe in essays and interviews how they were inspired by the Beatles.

This intimate and entertaining collection arose from writer Penelope Rowlands’s own Beatlemaniac phase: she was one of the screaming girls captured in an iconic photograph that has since been published around the world—and is displayed on the cover of this book. The stories of these girls, who found each other again almost 50 years later, are part of this volume as well. The Beatles Are Here! gets to the heart of why, half a century later, the Beatles still matter to us so deeply.” – (Workman Press.)

Can’t Buy Me Love: the Beatles, Britain, and America by Jonathan Gould (Find this book in our catalog).  “Nearly twenty years in the making, Can’t Buy Me Love is a masterful work of group biography, cultural history, and musical criticism. That the Beatles were an unprecedented phenomenon is a given. In Can’t Buy Me Love, Jonathan Gould seeks to explain why, placing the Fab Four in the broad and tumultuous panorama of their time and place, rooting their story in the social context that girded both their rise and their demise.

Beginning with their adolescence in Liverpool, Gould describes the seminal influences––from Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry to The Goon Show and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland––that shaped the Beatles both as individuals and as a group. In addition to chronicling their growth as singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists, he highlights the advances in recording technology that made their sound both possible and unique, as well as the developments in television and radio that lent an explosive force to their popular success. With a musician’s ear, Gould sensitively evokes the timeless appeal of the Lennon-McCartney collaboration and their emergence as one of the most creative and significant songwriting teams in history. And he sheds new light on the significance of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as rock’s first concept album, down to its memorable cover art.

Behind the scenes Gould explores the pivotal roles played by manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin, credits the influence on the Beatles’ music of contemporaries like Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and Ravi Shankar, and traces the gradual escalation of the fractious internal rivalries that led to the group’s breakup after their final masterpiece, Abbey Road. Most significantly, by chronicling their revolutionary impact on popular culture during the 1960s, Can’t Buy Me Love illuminates the Beatles as a charismatic phenomenon of international proportions, whose anarchic energy and unexpected import was derived from the historic shifts in fortune that transformed the relationship between Britain and America in the decades after World War II.

From the Beats in America and the Angry Young Men in England to the shadow of the Profumo Affair and JFK’s assassination, Gould captures the pulse of a time that made the Beatles possible—and even necessary. As seen through the prism of the Beatles and their music, an entire generation’s experience comes astonishingly to life. Beautifully written, consistently insightful, and utterly original, Can’t Buy Me Love is a landmark work about the Beatles, Britain, and America.” – (Random House, Inc.)


For Fans of Downton Abbey – the Dilberne Court Trilogy

Friday, January 24th, 2014

For those long hours waiting between new episodes of Downton Abbey, try curling up with a book.  The Dilberne Court Trilogy by Fay Weldon is sure to please fans of domestic drama set among the aristocracy of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods.  Fay Weldon is the award-winning novelist and writer of the pilot episode of Upstairs Downstairs, the world-famous TV series against which all other historical domestic sagas are measured. She has written this brilliant new trilogy about what life was really like for masters and servants before the world of Downton Abbey.

Habits of the House (find in our catalog).  “As the Season of 1899 comes to an end, the world is poised on the brink of profound, irrevocable change. The Earl of Dilberne is facing serious financial concerns. The ripple effects spread to everyone in the household: Lord Robert, who has gambled unwisely on the stock market and seeks a place in the Cabinet; his unmarried children, Arthur, who keeps a courtesan, and Rosina, who keeps a parrot in her bedroom; Lord Robert’s wife Isobel, who orders the affairs of the household in Belgrave Square; and Grace, the lady’s maid who orders the life of her mistress. Lord Robert can see no financial relief to an already mortgaged estate, and, though the Season is over, his thoughts turn to securing a suitable wife (and dowry) for his son. The arrival on the London scene of Minnie, a beautiful Chicago heiress with a reputation to mend, seems the answer to all their prayers.”  (Provided by publisher).

Long Live the King (find in our catalog).  Follows the restoration of the Dilberne fortune and manor at the turn of the 20th century, when Lord Robert and Lady Isobel assist coronation plans for Edward VII, anticipate the birth of a grandchild and debate the future of an orphaned niece.



The New Countess (find in our catalog).  “England, 1903. Lord Robert and Lady Isobel Dilberne and the entire grand estate, with its hundred rooms, are busy planning for a visit from Edward VII and Queen Alexandra just a few months away. Preparations are elaborate and exhaustive: the menus and fashions must be just so, and so must James, the new heir and son of Arthur Dilberne and Chicago heiress, Minnie O’Brien. But there are problems. Little James is being reared to Lady Isobel’s tastes, not Minnie’s. And Mrs. O’Brien is visiting from America and causing trouble. Meanwhile, the Dilbernes’ niece, Adela, is back and stirring up hysteria in the servants’ hall by claiming the house is cursed. The royal visit is imperiled, but so are the Dilberne finances once more. His Lordship is under tremendous stress, and the pecking order will soon be upset as everything at Dilberne Court changes. The New Countess is the final novel in Fay Weldon’s exciting trilogy that began with Habits of the House and Long Live the King. The bestselling novelist and award-winning writer of the pilot episode of the original Upstairs Downstairs lifts the curtain on British society, upstairs and downstairs, under one roof” (Provided by publisher).


The 100-year-old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

The 100-year-old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Find this book in our catalog)

I zipped through this book and highly recommend it for all who love dry and searching humor.

I think The 100-year-old Man would appeal to fans of Forrest Gump by Winston Groom or of  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  The three books have humor in common, all are quests, in all three the protagonists meet interesting and quirky characters.

The book has sold very well around the world.  The Swedish translates into a spare and matter-of fact prose that really goes with the character – a really old man who has seen it all and believes in just going with what life dishes out.  Cheerfully!

With modest common sense and deadpan humor he sums up the world leaders he has come across in his accidental tour through the political hotspots of the Twentieth Century.

He also meets a cast of far from ordinary ordinary characters as he goes philosophically on his way. For me, as well as the humor, the charm of the book is the sense of real friendship and love that develops between the most unpromising people.

The publisher’s blurbs do not do this complex and totally adsorbing book justice, but here is a taste of what it says in our catalog:

“After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.”

You can also read more for yourself when you go to our catalog to place your hold.


LJ’s Best Romances 2013

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Check these out!  Click on a title and go straight to our catalog.

Balogh, Mary. The Arrangement

Brockway, Connie. No Place for a Dame

Carr, Robyn. The Wanderer

Dare, Tessa. Any Duchess Will Do

Gracie, Anne. The Autumn Bride

Higgins, Kristan. The Best Man: A Blue Heron Novel

MacLean, Sarah. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover

McMaster, Bec. Heart of Iron

Thomas, Sherry. The Luckiest Lady in London


Cold Cold Ground – “the best crime novel mystery that I’ve read in a long time.”

Friday, January 17th, 2014

In case you missed this during the holiday hullabaloo: December 27 on NPR’s Morning Edition, when asked to recommend books from her personal shelf, “America’s librarian” Nancy Pearl called THE COLD COLD GROUND by Adrian McKinty “the best crime novel mystery that I’ve read in a long time.” Host Steve Inskeep then read the first paragraph aloud on air and said he too loved it. Find this book in our catalog.

Pearl said, “When I read a mystery, I’m always looking for something more than the plot. I need it to give me something else, and it’s hard to define what that something else is — but this book does it so well…. [McKinty is] a great writer.”

The segment can be found here.

This is what it says about the book in our catalog:  “Spring 1981. Northern Ireland. Belfast on the verge of outright civil war. The Thatcher government has flooded the area with soldiers, but nightly there are riots, bombings, and sectarian attacks.

In the midst of the chaos, Sean Duffy, a young, witty, Catholic detective in the almost entirely Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary, is trying to track down a serial killer who is targeting gay men. As a Catholic policeman, Duffy is suspected by both sides and there are layers of complications. For one thing, homosexuality is illegal in Northern Ireland in 1981. Then he discovers that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but was last seen discussing business with someone from the Protestant UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force).

Fast-paced, evocative, and brutal, this book is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles and a cop caught in the cross fire.” – (Random House, Inc.)

Others in the series are I Hear the Sirens in the Street and In the Morning I’ll Be Gone.


January 2014 LibraryReads List

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

These are the top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love.  More…

Click on a title to go straight to our catalog.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley

A Star for Mrs. Blake: A Novel by April Smith

Lost Lake: A Novel by Sarah Addison Allen

The Days of Anna Madrigal: A Novel by Armistead Maupin

A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World: A Novel by Rachel Cantor

The Wind Is Not a River: A Novel by Brian Payton

Orfeo: A Novel by Richard Powers

The Kept: A Novel by James Scott

Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart

The First True Lie: A Novel by Marina Mander