Archive for the ‘Readers Recommend’ Category

The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman – a Readers’ “Notes”

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Bob Hoff, the Moderator of one of our in-library book discussion groups sent me these “notes” from one of his participants.  Bob wrote: “My book discussion group recently discussed Neil Gaiman’s newest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (find this book in our catalog). … one person enjoyed it so much that she wrote “notes”. … She told me that she read the book in two hours.”

The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman-Notes by Paulette Smyth

“This is a spiritual book that touches on many new age spiritual beliefs and uses new scientific theories to explain life. One of the spiritual hypotheses that Neil Gaiman employs is Cosmic Consciousness (CC), the belief that we all share one universal, all encompassing communal consciousness when we die. The pond at the end of the lane (which is the Ocean of the title) represents that communal consciousness that we blend into upon our death.

In this engrossing fable, a boy and his friend, Lettie embark on a quest for a gray and pink rag monster. This monster has started trouble on the earth by stirring up human greed for money. It feeds off humans’ greed and lust. The theory of CC is key as the boy and Lettie trek across other dimensions to find the evil thing that is stirring things up in our world.

The idea of cosmic consciousness clearly stands out when Lettie brings the Ocean in a bucket to the boy in the fairy ring and at her direction he steps in. (p.142) “I would stay here for the rest of time in the ocean which was the universe, which was the soul which was all that mattered.” Lettie tells him he can’t stay because his individuality would dissolve and he would become absorbed by the universe, become one with it. “You wouldn’t die in here, nothing ever dies in here, but if you stayed here for too long, after a while just a little of you would exist everywhere all spread out….there wouldn’t be anything left that would think of itself as an“I”. (p.145) In this communal consciousness we become all knowing, but when we leave it to be reborn into the earthly plane we forget this knowledge, another aspect of the CC belief of afterlife.

Some believers in CC also believe in reincarnation of the soul. Belief in reincarnation is evident throughout the story. One pertinent reincarnated being is the black kitten with the white-tipped ear. This cat is an animal guide sent from the afterlife to be of comfort to the boy.

The idea of reincarnation encompasses the idea that there are old souls who are more knowledgeable than newer souls, the old souls having lived and learned through many reincarnations. Old Mrs. Hempstock is one of them. There are many references throughout the story where she speaks of existing in different historic time periods. At the very beginning of the tale when we are first introduced to the old lady we are cautioned that she is no ordinary grandmother. Lettie is also an old soul, although not as old or as powerful as the Grandmother. At various points throughout the story the boy asks her how old she really is as she appears to him to be far older and wiser than her 11 years. He also recognizes her as a guardian repeatedly telling of the trust he places in her.

In this fable Neil Gaiman also explores the science of String Theory. String Theory basically contends that there are multiple universes in operation at the same time and that time itself is a concept imposed by man. This multi-dimensional property of existence allows for the possibility of movement from one dimension to another, and that time as we define it is really nonexistent. Dimensions lie next to one another like thin membranes. Lettie and the boy travel out of one dimension into another when they travel to find the gray and pink rag monster. To pass from one dimension to another one needs a portal. The lane and gaps in the hedgerows on the boundaries of the Hempstock farm act as portals to safety for humans and at the same time they are rigid barriers to evil. Several times in the story the boy talks about a child’s ability to find ways (portals) through the brush (dimensions) to reach a destination those adults would never conceive of, since adults stick to well-delineated roads. The pond is a portal to the afterlife or cosmic consciousness. The kitchen in the Hempstock farm house is a portal to past historical periods. The Hempstock women live in multiple dimensions, as well as, time periods. Lettie is part of the trinity of Hempstock women.

This story can be read on many levels. You could just read it as a fairytale with interesting plot and characters. You could read it as a story of a lonely, sometimes psychotic, possibly schizophrenic child who conjures up creatures to fill the void in his socially isolated life.

I think the author wrote it so superbly that the mythology, spirituality, and the theories at the forefront of today’s scientific advances in physics and consciousness are interwoven and blended so well that it makes for one terrific book that prods the mind to do some serious thinking. LOVED IT!!!!!!!!”

Paulette Smyth attends the fiction book group at the Bel Air branch on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Please see our website for details of this and other groups.


Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Friday, February 8th, 2013

This book review was submitted to me by Deborah Rockwell, a member of the Bel Air Fiction book discussion group.  Check Headlines and Happenings for all the book groups meeting at Harford County Public Library branches around the county.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (Find this book in our catalog).

How does one interrogate a murder suspect who has Alzheimer’s?

This is only one of the many questions that comes to mind while reading this unusual book about Dr. Jennifer White.  Much of the story is written from a first person perspective as the author imagines the mind of an Alzheimer’s patient.  We also gradually learn Jennifer’s history, the stories of her two adult children and about her relationship with her late friend Amanda.  The story weaves back and forth from past to present as these plot threads emerge, blending with the progressing story of the murder investigation and Jennifer’s deterioration.

The author deserves credit for not making Jennifer or Amanda very likeable.  We would expect to sympathize with both the murder victim and the victim of this devastating disease, but Alice LaPlante does not permit us to walk this easy path.  If we have empathy for either of these two characters, it is only due to what happened to them, not because of who they are. The other characters – Jennifer and Amanda’s husbands, Jennifer’s adult children, the detective – are fully fledged personalities.  We alternately like, dislike, and suspect of wrong doing all the characters in the course of the book.

This book is recommended for mystery lovers as well as anyone who is interested in reading about the complexity of human relationships.

Deborah Rockwell

Care for a Touch of Horror?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Windeye:  Stories by Brian Evenson (Find this book in our catalog)

If you are a horror story fan, you may want to try Brian Evenson’s new collection of short stories in Windeye:  Stories.  Evenson is something of a cross between Jorge Luis Borges, who is not a horror story author, and H. P. Lovecraft, who is; Borges for the otherworldliness of the settings, and Lovecraft for the sheer, cold horror of the plots.  What can be particularly unsettling is the presence of children as protagonists and, indeed, antagonists in the stories, those little innocents who find themselves in dangerous situations, facing forces of evil or being themselves evil. The outcomes are not likely to be pleasant in either case.

Take the title story, for example:  “Windeye.”  A boy and his younger sister note that their little house has changed; it now has an extra window, one that can be seen from the outside, but is not present on the inside.  When they explore this oddity, his sister disappears upon touching the window.  And then it is as though his sister never existed, ever.  Or  consider “The Sladen Suit,” a story about sailors lost at sea, with crew members dying under odd circumstances. In desperation, they heed the advice of one sailor to enter a sladen suit, a kind of diver’s suit, with reassurance that they will escape through it.  When one by one, they creep into the suit and then vanish, it is up to the narrator to take his fate in his hands.  The sea rocks the ship; the wind howls; a distant sound drifts from the suit. What will he find if he enters?  Or “Dapplegrim,” a retelling of the fairy tale about a younger son who accomplishes his dreams and more by following the directives of a horse, but this version has a far more sinister edge to the tale.  And on and on…

The stories have a touch of myth or folklore about them, as they unfold in subtle horror. What begins gently enough gnaws at you, until you realize that you are as tense as can be while reading.  More than suspense, the stories elicit spine-tingling fear, but in such soft, quiet ways.

D. L. S.

What Your Neighbors are Reading—December-January

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Ever wonder what your neighbors are reading? Here is a list of the most popular narrative nonfiction books at the Harford County Public Library in the past 30 days.

 1. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly

 2. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Lee Dugard

 3. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo

 4. Bossypants by Tina Fey

 5. Now Eat This! by Rocco DiSpirito

 6. Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony by Jeff Ashton

  Unbroken: A World War II story of survival, resilience and redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

  7. Suicide of a Superpower by Patrick Buchanan

 8. Destiny of the Republic: A tale of madness, medicine and the murder of a president by Candice Millard

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

 Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic conversations on life with John F. Kennedy by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

 10. The Immortal Live of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoot

  Seriously—I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

Posted by Linda Z.

Get Steamed Over Historical Fiction – Recommendations from Winter Readers

Friday, March 4th, 2011

These are some of the historical fiction books recommended by our Winter Readers:

  Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harpur (Find in catalog)

Summary in our catalog: “A delicious and intriguing historical novel about the woman who was William Shakespeare’s secret wife by New York Times bestselling author, Karen Harper. In Mistress Shakespeare, Elizabethan beauty Anne Whateley reveals intimate details of her dangerous, daring life and her great love, William Shakespeare. As historical records show, Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton is betrothed to Will just days before he is forced to wed the pregnant Anne Hathaway of Shottery. The clandestine Whateley/Shakespeare match is a meeting of hearts and heads that no one – not even Queen Elizabeth or her spymasters – can destroy. From rural Stratford-upon- Avon to teeming London, the passionate pair struggles to stay solvent and remain safe from Elizabeth I’s campaign to hunt down secret Catholics, of whom Shakespeare is rumored to be a part. Often at odds, always in love, the couple sells Will’s first plays and, as he climbs to theatrical power in Elizabeth’s England, they fend off fierce competition from rival London dramatists, ones as treacherous as they are talented. Persecution and plague, insurrection and inferno, friends and foes, even executions of those they hold dear, bring Anne’s heartrending story to life. Spanning half a century of Elizabethan and Jacobean history and sweeping from the lowest reaches of society to the royal court, this richly textured novel tells the real story of Shakespeare in love.”

  Muder on Marble Row: a Gaslight Mystery by Victoria Thompson (Find in catalog)

Summary: “In turn-of-the-century New York City midwife Sarah Brandt is again helping police Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. This time, an arsonist is presumed to have murdered a wealthy industrialist in an explosion. But Sarah and Frank clash over whether the murder was politically motivated because-as she knows and he is about to discover-the marble facades of Fifth Avenue hide as many dark and twisted secrets as any tenement on the Lower East Side…”

  Scandalous by Karen Robards (Find in catalog)

Summary: “England, 1810: When Lady Gabriella Banning receives word that her half-brother, the Earl of Wickham, has died on his tea plantation in Ceylon, she faces the reality that she and her younger sisters, Claire and Elizabeth, are suddenly penniless. The family’s riches will pass to the next male heir — a distant cousin — and the Banning sisters are doomed unless Gabby thinks fast. Which she does. Pretending that Marcus is still alive, Gabby arranges Claire’s London season. She’ll keep up the pretense just long enough for Claire to marry a fabulously wealthy nobleman. But when a handsome gentleman arrives at the door and claims to be Marcus, Gabby’s plan backfires — and soon London society is abuzz over the scandalous pair of “siblings” who appear to be falling in love….”

  The Centurion’s Wife by Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn (Find in catalog)

Summary: “Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage, is secretly commissioned to discover the truth behind the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine while also being engulfed in her own turmoil–facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions as leader of the Roman garrison near Galilee.”

  The March by E. L. Doctorow (Find in catalog)

Summary: “In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops east through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces and lived off the land, pillaging the Southern plantations, taking cattle and crops for their own, demolishing cities, and accumulating a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the uprooted, the dispossessed, and the triumphant. Only a master novelist could so powerfully and compassionately render the lives of those who marched. The author of Ragtime, City of God, and The Book of Daniel has given us a magisterial work with an enormous cast of unforgettable characters – white and black, men, women, and children, unionists and rebels, generals and privates, freed slaves and slave owners. At the center is General Sherman himself; a beautiful freed slave girl named Pearl; a Union regimental surgeon, Colonel Sartorius; Emily Thompson, the dispossessed daughter of a Southern judge; and Arly and Will, two misfit soldiers. Almost hypnotic in its narrative drive, The March stunningly renders the countless lives swept up in the violence of a country at war with itself. The great march in E. L. Doctorow’s hands becomes something more – a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with awesome relevance to our own times.”

Get Steamed Over Romantic Suspense – More Recommendations from Winter Readers

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Here are some top Romantic Suspense books recommended on our Winter Reading logs.

  First Impressions by Jude Deveraux (Find in catalog)

Summary in our catalog: “Eden Palmer knows how to make it on her own. The forty-something single mother has worked hard to raise her beloved daughter — now twenty-seven and recently married. The offspring of a terrible event, Eden’s daughter, Melissa, has long been the jewel of Eden’s life, the one for whom she would sacrifice anything and everything. But sooner or later a woman must come into her own, and that’s what Eden tries to do when she moves to Arundel, North Carolina, to take ownership of Farrington Manor, a beautiful old house filled with charm and memories that was willed to Eden by the person who cared for her when she needed it most. Torn between the desire to stay with her daughter and the need to build a separate life on her own, Eden opts for some distance and some much-needed perspective. But it’s not long before she realizes that sometimes you have to go back before you can start over.Arriving in Arundel — the South’s prettiest small town — Eden quickly learns that looks can be deceiving when her move is met with delight in some quarters and jealousy in others. Pursued by two eligible bachelors — the rugged Jared McBride and Braddon Granville, local lawyer and town catch — Eden is flattered, and more than a little suspicious. Juggling the attentions of two men is hard enough, but soon Eden’s bid to start over plunges her in the middle of a mystery that threatens not just her plans and reputation, but her very life. “Can she use one man to save her from the other?”"

  It All Began in Monte Carlo by Elizabeth Adler (Find in catalog)

Summary: “Sunny Alvarez and Mac Reilly always seem to find trouble in the south of France. This time, all the trouble began in Monte Carlo. Sunny’s relationship with Mac is in jeopardy and Monte Carlo beckons. Soon Sunny is pulled into a web of intrigue involving a series of robberies of high-end jewelry stores. Then there’s her wanna-be-new-friend, who turns out to be a sociopath, involved in the sale of sex and in blackmail. Plus there’s Sunny’s old friend, movie star Allie Ray, who owns a vineyard in France and who comes to help sort Sunny out, while at the same time sorting out the life and appearance of her old friend, Pru Holster, with a makeover that not only changes her dowdy overweight appearance, but changes Pru into an amateur detective. If Sunny doesn’t untangle this plot, she might end up an unwitting accomplice to theft, blackmail and even murder. When Mac shows up, he’s ready to do anything to get Sunny back, not the least of which is to solve the crimes and save her life.”

  The Search by Nora Roberts (Find in catalog)

Summary: “The #1 “New York Times”-bestselling author presents a riveting novel in which a canine search-and-rescue volunteer fights danger and finds love with a dog trainer in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. But a killer emerges out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands.”

  Touch of Evil by Colleen Thompson (Find in catalog)

Summary: “Small-town corruption and a serial killer in the bayou threaten a female sheriff struggling to make her way in a mans world and keep herself from falling in love with the last man she should trust.”

  Death Echo by Elizabeth Lowell (Find in catalog)

Summary: “New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell cuts a new edge in suspense with this thrilling tale of passion, danger, and international intrigue in which a pair of former operatives must stop a deadly plot that threatens a major American city-and ultimately the world.  When she joined St. Kilda’s, the elite security consulting firm, Emma Cross thought she’d left behind the blood, the guilt, and the tribal wars that defined her life at the CIA. Yet, trading spying for investigating yacht thefts didn’t alleviate the danger-or melt away her professional paranoia. Now, the same good instincts that got her into trouble at the agency might be what will help her survive her latest case… Fortunately, she’s working with a new partner as menacing and distrustful as the worst enemy she’s ever faced-and as deadly.  A honed killer, MacKenzie Durand led a special ops team that was deployed to some of the world’s nastiest places… Thrown together by an organization of enemies with global ties more dangerous than either of them realize, Mac and Emma must put aside their growing attraction for each other to save more than just their own lives… A breathtaking tale of passion and danger…”

  Ice by Linda Howard (Find in catalog)

Summary: “Gabriel McQueen has only just arrived home on holiday leave from the service when his county-sheriff father sends him back out again with new marching orders.  A brewing ice storm, and a distant neighbor who’s fallen out of contact, have the local lawman concerned.  So he enlists Gabriel to make the long haul to the middle of nowhere, and make sure Lolly Helton is safe and sound. It’s a trip the younger McQueen would rather not make given the bitter winter weather – and the icy conditions that have always existed between him and Lolly.  But there’s no talking back when your dad is the town’s top cop.  And there’s no turning back when night falls just as Gabriel arrives – and discovers that the weather outside isn’t the only thing that’s frightful.  Spotting strangers in Lolly’ s home – one of them packing a weapon – is all it takes to kick Gabriel into combat mode.  And his stealth training is all he needs to extract Lolly from the house without alerting her captors.  But when the escape is discovered, the heat – and the hunt – are on.  And the winter woods are nowhere to be once the ice storm touches down, dropping trees, blocking roads, and trapping the fleeing pair in the freezing dark.”

Get Steamed Over a Good Thriller – Readers’ Recommend

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Thrillers, action and adventure recommended by recent completers of the Winter Reading Program.

  The Sentry by Robert Crais (Find in catalog)

Summary in our catalog: “Dru Rayne and her uncle fled to L.A. after Hurricane Katrina; but now, five years later, they face a different danger. When Joe Pike witnesses Dru’s uncle beaten by a protection gang, he offers his help, but neither of them want it-and neither do the federal agents mysteriously watching them. As the level of violence escalates, and Pike himself becomes a target, he and Elvis Cole learn that Dru and her uncle are not who they seem- and that everything he thought he knew about them has been a lie. A vengeful and murderous force from their past is now catching up to them . . . and only Pike and Cole stand in the way.”

  The Judas Gate by Jack Higgins (Find in catalog)

Summary: “A disturbing tape has made its way to British intelligence, and from them to the new President of the United States: battlefield chatter from an ambush in Afghanistan, in which twelve U.S. Army Rangers and a British medical team died. Most of the Taliban voices are Afghan, but not all of them-the voice of the commander bears an Irish accent. The idea that one of their own could be responsible for such a massacre is appalling, and Sean Dillon is put in charge of hunting down the traitor. But Dillon has his own way of doing things and, he will eventually discover, so does his quarry. Dillon will not only be going to war-the war will be coming to him.”

  Foreign Influence: a Thriller by Brad Thor (Find in catalog)

Summary: “Buried within the black ops budgets of the Department of Defense, a new spy agency has been created. Unfettered by the oversight of self-serving politicians, it reports only to a secret panel of military insiders. Its job is to target America’s enemies – both foreign and domestic – under a charter of three simple words: Find, Fix, and Finish. Recruited as a field operative, Scot Harvath has just returned from his first assignment abroad when a bombing in Rome kills a group of American college students. The evidence points to a dangerous colleague from Harvath’s past and a plan for further attacks on an unimaginable scale. Harvath is tasked with leveraging his relationship to lure the man out of hiding and kill him on the spot. But what if it is the wrong man? Simultaneously, a young woman is struck by a taxi in a hit-and-run in Chicago. With only two intoxicated witnesses and over five thousand cabs in the city, the Chicago Police have given up on their investigation. But when the family’s attorney digs deeper, he will uncover a shocking connection to the bombing in Rome and the perpetrators’ plans for America. As the story rockets to its conclusion, the plots intersect in a race to prevent one of the most audacious and unthinkable acts of war in the history of mankind.”

  American Assassin: a Thriller by Vince Flynn (Find in catalog)

Summary: “Two decades of cutthroat, partisan politics has left the CIA and the country in an increasingly vulnerable position. Cold War veteran and CIA Operations Director Thomas Stansfield knows he must prepare his people for the next war. The rise of Islamic terrorism is coming, and it needs to be met abroad before it reaches America’s shores. Stansfield directs his protege, Irene Kennedy, and his old Cold War colleague, Stan Hurley, to form a new group of clandestine operatives who will work outside the normal chain of command—men who do not exist…”

  Dead Zero by Stephen Hunter (Find in catalog)

Summary: “Bob Lee Swagger tracks down an AWOL Marine sniper who resurfaces to complete his last mission, in the latest installment of Hunter’s bestselling series.”

  Silent Victim by C. E. Lawrence (Find in catalog)

Summary: “A serial killer claims two victims in one week–and as the death toll rises, each body is missing a small piece of flesh. NYPD profiler Lee Campbell joins a frantic pursuit that leads into a world of dark secrets and pain–as well as his own troubled past.”

  The Vigilantes by W. E. B. Griffin (Find in catalog)

Summary: “There’s a sudden spike in murders in Philadelphia, but no one seems to mind much because the victims all seem to be lowlifes. The more Homicide Sergeant Matthew Payne investigates, however, the more he gets a bad feeling – one that only gets worse when vigilante groups spring up claiming credit for some of the hits, even though Payne knows it can’t be true. As the targets get bigger and events start moving out of control, Payne realizes that if he and his colleagues can’t figure out who’s behind this very soon, the violence could overtake them all. Filled with authentic color and detail, this is a riveting novel of the men and women who put their lives on the line – storytelling at its absolute best.”

  The Spy by Clive Cussler (Find in catalog)

Summary: “It is 1908, and international tensions are mounting as the world plunges toward war. When a brilliant American battleship gun designer dies in a sensational apparent suicide, the man’s grief-stricken daughter turns to the legendary Van Dorn Detective Agency to clear her father’s name. Van Dorn puts his chief investigator on the case, and Isaac Bell soon realizes that the clues point not to suicide but to murder. And when more suspicious deaths follow, it becomes clear that someone-an elusive spy-is orchestrating the destruction of America’s brightest technological minds… and the murders all connect to a top- secret project called Hull 44. But that is just the beginning. As the intrigue deepens, Bell will find himself pitted against German, Japanese, and British spies, in a mission that encompasses dreadnought battleships, Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, Chinatown, Hell’s Kitchen, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Isaac Bell has certainly faced perilous situations before, but this time it is more than the future of his country that’s at stake- it’s the fate of the world.”

  The Cobra by Frederick Forsyth (Find in catalog)

Summary: “An extraordinary cutting-edge thriller from the New York Times-bestselling grandmaster of international suspense. Meticulous research, crisp narratives, plots as current as today’s headlines – Frederick Forsyth has helped define the international thriller as we know it. And now he does it again. What if you had carte blanche to fight evil? Nothing held back, nothing off the table. What would you do? For decades, the world has been fighting the drug cartels, and losing, their billions of dollars making them the most powerful and destructive organizations on earth. Until one man is asked to take charge. Paul Devereaux used to run Special Operations for the CIA before they retired him for being too ruthless. Now he can have anything he requires, do anything he thinks necessary. No boundaries, no rules, no questions asked. The war is on – though who the ultimate winner will be, no one can tell…”

  Worth Dying For: a Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child (Find in catalog)

Summary: “There’s deadly trouble in the corn country of Nebraska . . . and Jack Reacher walks right into it. First he falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire county into submission. But it’s the unsolved case of a missing child, already decades-old, that Reacher can’t let go.  The Duncans want Reacher gone-and it’s not just past secrets they’re trying to hide. They’re awaiting a secret shipment that’s already late-and they have the kind of customers no one can afford to annoy. For as dangerous as the Duncans are, they’re just the bottom of a criminal food chain stretching halfway around the world.  For Reacher, it would have made much more sense to keep on going, to put some distance between himself and the hard-core trouble that’s bearing down on him.  For Reacher, that was also impossible.  Worth Dying For is the kind of explosive thriller only Lee Child could write and only Jack Reacher could survive-a heart-racing page-turner no suspense fan will want to miss.”

Get Steamed Over a Good Cozy Mystery

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Try these cozy mysteries recommended by recent participants in our Winter Reading Program.

  Swan for the Money: a Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews (Find in our catalog) “Meg Langslow’s eccentric parents have a new hobby: growing roses and entering them in highly competitive shows. Dad’s gardening skill and Mother’s gift for selecting and arranging the blossoms should make them an unbeatable team—and Meg is relieved they’ve taken up such a safe, gentle hobby. She even volunteers to help when the Caerphilly Garden Club sponsors its first annual rose show. But after a few hours of dealing with her parents’ competitors, Meg is worried. Rose growers are so eccentric that they make Meg’s family seem almost normal, and so competitive that they will do nearly anything to take home the show’s grand prize—making them prime suspects when Meg discovers that someone is attempting to kill the wealthy woman on whose estate the competition is being held.”

  Fatal Fixer-Upper by Jennie Bentley (Find in our catalog) “Avery Baker was once a New York designer, but inheriting her aunt’s old Maine cottage has led her down a new career path – home renovation.  Now, with help from hunky handyman Derek Ellis, Avery starts learning the ABCs of DIY.  But when the designer-turned-renovator finds clues that lead to a missing professor, she wonders if she can finish the house – without getting finished off in the process.”

  Chocolate Dipped Death: a Candy Shop Mystery by Sammi Carter (Find in our catalog) “When poisoned bon-bons end the life of a town trouble-maker, candy shop owner Abby Shaw finds herself trapped in an extremely sticky situation.”  Includes candy recipes.

  Knit, Purl, Die by Anne Canadeo (Find in our catalog) “A recently married friend of the club is found dead in her pool, and the ladies seek to find the killer. A follow-up to her popular debut, “While My Pretty One Knits.” ”

  Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke (Find in our catalog)  “”New York Times”-bestselling author Fluke never fails to satisfy readers’ appetite for intriguing culinary mysteries. In the latest installment of the Hannah Swensen mystery series, the beloved baker and sleuth may have bitten off more than she can chew.”

  Killer Crab Cakes: a Fresh-Baked Mystery by Livia Wasburn (Find in our catalog)  “In this bake-off, people get knocked off. The irresistible new entry in the national bestselling series. When Phyllis’s cousin asks her to look after her Oak Knoll bed-and-breakfast for a few weeks, Phyllis jumps at the chance-mostly because the inn is located close to the annual Rockport, Texas, Just Desserts competition. Determined to beat her friendly rival and enjoy some peaceful downtime with her boyfriend Sam, Phyllis concocts the ultimate sweet treat. But Phyllis’s holiday turns bitter when she and Sam discover a dead body-and all signs point to murder. Dismayed that bad luck seems to pop up wherever she goes, Phyllis wants to stay out of this one. But as the list of suspects gets too close for comfort, she decides to throw herself into the mix. Because when it comes to solving murders, Phyllis is one smart cookie.”

  Oolong Dead by Laura Childs (Find in our catalog)  “Delicious recipes, tea-time tips, opera, and murder-in a national bestselling mystery series that’s “quickly become a favorite of readers.”(Mystery Reader) While riding her horse in a race through the South Carolina Lowcountry, Theodosia Browning finds her arch nemesis, Abby Davis, dead. What’s more, the victim’s brother is Theodosia’s old flame. Who’d have guessed they’d be reunited through cold-blooded murder? Theodosia’s investigation takes her from the Lowcountry thicket to the backstage maze of a darkened theater where a maestro of murder waits for the next cue. All proving that when it comes to high drama, Theodosia can give Verdi a run for his money.”

  Buttons and Bones by Monica Ferris (Find in our catalog)  “While renovating a cabin in the Minnesota woods, Betsy Devonshire, owner of the Crewel World needlework shop, discovers the skeleton of a Nazi. Her investigation yields the site of a former German POW camp and an intricately designed pattern of clues to a decades-old crime.”

  Death of a Dreamer: a Hamish Macbeth Mystery by M. C. Beaton (Find in our catalog)  “Occasionally, the rugged landscape of Scotland attracts dreamers who move north, wrapped in fantasies of enjoying the simple life. They usually dont last, defeated by the climate or by inhospitable locals. But it looks as if Effie Garrand has come to stay. When local constable Hamish Macbeth calls on her, he is amazed to find the small woman still in residence after a particularly hideous winter. Unfortunately, Effie is also quite delusional, having convinced herselfand everyone elsethat local artist Jock Fleming is in love with her, and that they are engaged. After a huge fight with Jock, Effie is found in the mountains, poisoned by hemlock. Now, its up to Hamish Macbeth to find the dreamers killerbefore any more nightmares unfold.”

  Ghost in Trouble by Carolyn Hart (Find in our catalog)  “When Bailey Ruth Raeburn passed over into the great beyond, she was delighted to discover her sleuthing days would last an eternity. Joining Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions, she uses her unique advantages as a ghost-sometimes you see her, sometimes you don’t-to help those in need and ensure the wicked get their just deserts.  However, on this latest mission, Bailey Ruth finds it more difficult than ever to keep up with her boss Wiggins’s rules for good spirit deportment. Not only is the woman she is supposed to save determined to thwart Bailey Ruth’s good intentions at every turn, she just so happens to be one of Bailey Ruth’s oldest enemies. Not that that should matter to one of Heaven’s best and brightest emissaries, but still, there is only so much a person can put up with-living or dead But solving Bailey Ruth’s toughest case yet means managing a recalcitrant charge, a fraudulent medium, a mother’s heartbreak, old passions and new, and a telltale rawhide dog bone. Heaven help her!”

Harford Recommends Thrillers

Monday, June 14th, 2010

  I have been collecting reader recommendations from Harford County Public Library customers.  Here are some of the current top thrillers, beginning with Whiteout by Ken Follett.  Find this book in our catalog

A reader wrote: “Whiteout by Ken Follett was a great story written by one of the most entertaining authors I have ever read.  All of his books are very entertaining.”

The notes in our catalog agree: “Like no other suspense author in his genre, Follett reinvents the thriller with each new storyline.  But nothing matches the intricate, knife-edge drama of Whiteout.  A missing canister of a deadly virus.  A lab technician bleeding from the eyes. Toni Gallo, the security director of a Scottish medical research firm, knows she has problems, but she has no idea of the nightmare to come.  As a Christmas Eve blizzard whips out of the north, several people converge on a remote family house… as the storm worsens, the emotional sparks – jealousies, distrust, sexual attraction, rivalries – crackle; desperate secrets are revealed; hidden traitors and unexpected heroes emerge.  Filled with startling twists at every turn, Whiteout rockets Follett to a class by himself.”

More reader-recommended thrillers:

Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler – techno thriller
Blindman’s Bluff by Faye Kellerman – crime drama
The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall – spy fiction
The First Family by David Baldacci – political suspense
When Darkness Falls by James Grippando – legal/psychological thriller
I Alex Cross by James Patterson – suspense/serial killers
Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn – political suspense
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – suspense/conspiracies

Reader Recommendation from Winter Reading Program

Friday, March 12th, 2010

A Winter Reader wrote this recommendation for No Time to Wave Goodbye by Jacquelyn Mitchard Find this book in our catalog
“This is a follow-up to the Deep End of the Ocean, 22 years later. It’s a story about Beth Cappadora and her children. Ben was kidnapped at age 3 and his older brother, Vincent, is making a documentary about child abduction. This is a spellbinding novel about family loyalty and endurance. Readers who loved the first novel will enjoy this as well, as we all wonder what happens to these families years later.