Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Louise Penny- Great Author-Wonderful Mystery Series

Having worked at the circulation desk in my library for 5 years, I have gotten used to chatting with patrons about books I have enjoyed. It is always a thrill for me when someone comes in and says to me " I read...... and really loved it".  Now that I have moved up the chain and have a "desk job", I don't get to chat as much with patrons but I still make recommendations when I can.  This blog started for that reason. One of my favorite writers is Louise Penny, author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries. She is also a favorite of many of my coworkers.

The series takes place for the most part, in a small town in the province of Quebec, Canada. Inspector Gamache works for the Surete du Quebec. He is an avid student of human behavior and appreciates the nuances of the small town. The books are full of information about Canadian life and the characters are perfectly written. We all anticipate each new book with baited breath in the library and fight over them when they come in.

I am a big audiobook fan and started listening to them as well as reading them. The reader, Ralph Cosham, is AMAZING. One of the more recent books was so well done that when I got to the end( sitting in my car in the library parking lot during lunch), I started to cry because the ending was so emotional. Mr. Cosham has a marvelous speaking voice and is both calming and scary at different times.

So..... if you want something new to read, I recommend that you get to your library or go to the bookstore and buy the first book in the series- Still Life. You will be hooked, I guarantee.
You can thank me later.....

Books in the series
1. Still Life
2. Fatal Grace/ Dead Cold in Canada
3. The Cruelest Month
4. A Rule Against Murder/ The Murder Stone
5. The Brutal Telling
6. Bury your Dead
7. A Trick of the Light ( Pub date 8-30-2011)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Lost Recipe for Happiness(Audio) by Barbara O'Neal

When Elena Alvarez is offered her dream job of executive chef at an upscale Aspen restaurant, she quickly accepts. But beneath her excitement about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Elena is haunted by tragic memories of a car accident that killed those closest to her twenty years ago, and the ghosts from the past that follow her wherever she goes. As she forges new friendships and creates enticing cuisine in her new surroundings, she begins to place her trust in others, and finally learns to confront her past, accept love, and truly heal. ( Synopsis from Barnes &

Audio CD- 12 hrs, 11 mins 10 CD's  Read by Bernadette Dunne

Elena Alvarez is a chef who gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she really needs it. Her on/off boyfriend is the head chef at a restaurant they have developed together and he fires her when she gets a bigger part in a newspaper article than he does. Luckily for Elena, Julian Liswood, the owner, offers her a head chef job at a new restaurant he is opening in Aspen. Elena packs up and moves, an action she is all too familiar with.  One of the recurring themes in this book is loss.  Elena has lost family members, her health, jobs, loves, and she keeps on going but she pays a big price.  Over the course of her life, she has become closed in and can't let go of her past. Her only constant relationship is with her big orange dog, Alvin.  Moving to Aspen gives her a chance to let go and move on, literally and figuratively. Julian is a famous horror movie writer and owns several sucessful restaurants. He has been divorced 4 times and has a teenage daughter, Portia. He too, has experienced traumatic loss in his life. It is not an easy road both characters to work out a relationship.

I enjoyed both reading and listening to this book. Elena is an interesting character with a sad life. She shows her joy through her cooking and the food descriptions make your mouth water and want to run out to a Tex-Mex restaurant (and I don't even like that type of food). She is so strong and at the same time so vulnerable, you can't help but root for her to find peace and happiness. Julian is a likeable character, who seems like a regular guy, in spite of his position in life. There are secondary characters who become important to the story even though we never really learn a lot about them. My favorite is Elena's sister Isabel, who floats in and out of the story, contributes to Elena's life story and to the final resolution to the story.

I read the book a while ago and happened upon the audio in NYC at the Strand bookstore. I had enjoyed the book so I hoped I would like the audio version. The audio  is wonderfully done by Bernadette Dunne, who really captures the essence of Elena.

Library notes: RPL has the book available in Adult fiction and will have the audio version after I donate it next week. We also have other books by the author, Barbara O'Neal.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Enjoyed an old favorite on audio-Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The other day, one of  my favorite authors, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, posed a trivia question about one of her books on her facebook page. Gasp!! I was unable to answer! It was from Kiss An Angel, a book I had read several years ago but hadn't revisited.  So I grabbed my audio copy, read by the wonderful Anna Fields, and started listening to it.  Of course, once I started I couldn't wait to finish, so I ditched the audio and read it on my Nook. Then, the really sad part is..... I finished listening to it again in my car.

Kiss An Angel is the story of Daisy Devereaux, a ditsy 20 something ,who has lived with her fashiom model mother until said mothers unfortunate demise. She makes some bad financial decisions and her estranged father saves her with conditions. She must marry Alex Markov, who turns out to be a hard nosed circus performer. Daisy has a really, really, hard time adjusting to the traveling circus life.  Alex has secrets about his childhood and family history. There's a cute baby elephant named Tater and a tiger named Sinjunn who figure prominently. Suffice it to say, it all works out.

I have to state that Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP to her fans known as Seppies) is a joy to read or listen to.  Her books are full of quirky humor and at the same time, there is a real undestanding about how people can be lonely, or feel less than those around them. Her books have people with complicated relationships and there are characters who are pretty nasty but are never one dimensional. When you are done with one of her books, you feel good. We have several at RPL but we can get others from other libraries. Take one out and read it over a weekend and I guarantee you will go to work on Monday in a better mood.

Here's a link to SEP talking about things- it's a perfect introduction to her wonderful self-   Enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Quicksilver (Arcane # 11) by Amanda Quick

Virginia Dean wakes at midnight beside a dead body, with a bloody knife in her hand and no memory of the evening's events. Dark energy, emanating from the mirrors lining the room, overpowers her senses. With no apparent way in or out, she is rescued by a man she has met only once before, but won't soon forget.
Owen Sweetwater inherited his family's talent for hunting the psychical monsters who prey on London's women and children, and his investigation into the deaths of two glass-readers has led him here. The high-society types of the exclusive Arcane Society would consider Virginia an illusionist, a charlatan, even a criminal, but Owen knows better. Virginia's powers are real-and they just might be the key to solving this challenging case. (synopsis from Barnes &

Amanda Quick, aka Jayne Anne Krentz, aka Jayne Castle, adds another excellent book to the Arcane series of paranormal romantic suspense.  Whew! that was a mouthful- sort of like explaining this series.  A patron in our library came in and had the 7th book in the series and wanted to start from the beginning, so I was called over to help them make a list so they could take them out in order. Trying to explain that they went back and forth between author names and between contemporary and historical genres was difficult.  Then, explaining that the latest two trilogies within the overall series include a futuristic setting just added to the complexity.  And that is what I love about these books, the complexity and the continuity.

After reading this book, and talking to the patron earlier, I think I am going to crack open the earlier ones and re-read the entire series. I own them all as books and in audio as well. There is a teaser for the next book Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle at the end. I can't wait!

Library note: This book will be available in the adult NEW book section  at RPL after April 19.  The other books in the series are also on the shelves in the fiction section and as audio CD.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sticky Fingers (Roxie Abruzzo Mystery #2) by Nancy Martin

Roxy Abruzzo stays one step ahead of trouble----especially now that her cash flow is less than stellar, and she's "doing favors" for her slippery uncle Carmine, one of the last old-time Mob bosses in Pittsburgh.
With her sidekick, Nooch, and her thieving pitbull, Rooney, Roxy hustles the mean streets collecting debts for Uncle Carmine and keeping his customers in line. With her daughter's college tuition to pay, Roxy can almost convince herself that the shady jobs are legal. But when Carmine's consigliere offers Roxy a contract to kidnap someone, that's a line she won’t cross.
Trouble is the kidnapping happens anyway, and when the victim turns up murdered, Roxy’s number one on the police hit parade. To protect herself, she investigates and soon learns the victim had a big secret---or two. Add a rock singer with a penchant for dinosaur bones and throw in a pesky paleontologist, plus an ex-nun with a mustache problem---not to mention a sexy chef with a taste for whatever Roxy dishes up---and you've got a caper full of quirky characters and laugh-out-loud mayhem. ( Synopsis from Barens &

I enjoyed this so much, I read it in one night.  The second book in the Roxie Abruzzo Mysteries ( after Our Lady of Immaculate Deception) was a page turner from beginning to end. Roxie has turned over a new leaf in her personal life but her professional life is a little flat. Her Uncle Carmine, a low  level Pittsburgh mob boss, has approached her through his geeky lawyer, Marvin, to kidnap an old classmate of Roxie's.  She is desperate for money, but not that much, and says no. She even goes to see her former nemesis, Clarice Crabtree, to warn her.  Clarice is still a mean girl however, and Roxie leaves without delivering the warning.  While she is at Clarice's house, Clarice disappears and Roxie is smack in the middle of another mess. She ends up identifying the body when Clarice is fished out of the river, and decides she needs to investigate to keep herself out of jail. Roxie is nothing if not tenacious and she keeps one step ahead of the police while figuring out whodunit.  The book has  stolen cars, bratty teenagers, a vengeful stalker with a spray paint can, and a large mastadon bone to peak your interest.

This book reminded me of the early Stephanie Plum books.  Set in a similar setting ( Pittsburgh vs Trenton), both featuring a single woman working in a man's profession ( salvage yard vs bail bond tracer), and having interesting side kicks ( Nooch vs Lula), the books are different enough that you can still enjoy them.  Roxie is tough and has a teenage daughter  Sage, who lives with Roxie's aunt.  Roxie has a love-hate relationship with Sage's father and lots of unresolved feelings about him which get more complicated as the book goes on. Roxie does sometimes behave in an unlikeable way but the character remains sympathetic.

I recommend reading the first book before this one because it sets up the history of Roxie's life and some of the other characters as well. You don't have to, but I think it will make this book more enjoyable. I also suggest you read Ms. Martin's other series- the Blackbird Sisters mysteries which also take place in PA and feature Michael Abruzzo, Roxie's cousin, as a recurring character.

Library note: Sticky Fingers is available in the NEW books section in the adult library. The first book is also available in  regular and large print as well as most of the Blackbird Sisters Mysteries.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Moonlight Cove (Chesapeake Shores # 6) by Sherryl Woods

Jess O’Brien has overcome a lot—the challenges of attention deficit disorder, the near bankruptcy of her beloved Inn at Eagle Point and her self-perception as a screwup in a family of overachievers. Now she’s ready to share the future with a man. Her friends persuade her to join a dating service—but she gets no takers! Which is fine with her childhood friend, psychologist Will Lincoln, who’s already chosen the perfect man for Jess: himself.
Will has loved Jess practically forever. He knows her faults and her strengths. But for all Will’s sincerity and charm, Jess fears he views her as some psychological case study. With her family and the town of Chesapeake Shores behind him, Will finally makes his case. But is it enough to convince Jess to take the risk of a lifetime? (synopsis from

The O"Brien family saga continues with Jess O'Brien's story. As the youngest girl, Jess has had a tough time in comparison to her very successful siblings.  She has ADD and has struggled with the effects on her personal and professional life. Her Inn at Eagle Point business was going under until her sister and father stepped in to put her back on track.  Every mistake she makes has her feeling like she is on the brink of failure again. Her parents separation when she was little has tainted her perception of marriage and love.  Even though her parents have worked out their issues, Jessica still has a hard time letting go of her resentment toward her mother.

Will  Lincoln has loved Jess since they were teenagers.  He is a successful psychologist who has started a dating service for the Chesapeake Shores community. Jess has applied, but Will has not put her in the database, so she gets no responses, which doesn't exactly boost her self esteem. Will is torn between trying to make Jess see what could work between them and moving on with his life.

All of the books in this series have a theme of miscommunication between the couples and personal growth in them and this one is no different. Jess needs to look at her life through an adult's eyes and take some chances.  Will realizes he needs to let Jess work through her fears but be there for here and validate some of her issues. It takes time and effort and Ms. Woods doesn't insult us by easily wrapping everything up in a tidy package. This book is a great addition to the earlier ones in the series and like those books, leaves you eagerly waiting for the next one ( Mack & Susie's story finally)!

Library note: This book will be available in the NEW paperback section at RPL after 4/26/11. The earlier books in the series are also in the library as paperbacks. Some are also available in large print or on audio CD.  Try some of the authors other books as well!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Success!!!! Technology has not gotten the best of me!

I finally managed to load Trouble in High Heels  by Christine Dodd on my IPod Touch. I read the series, have all the books in one of my bins somewhere. So now I can listen to it.  This is all part of my reducing clutter campaign- instead of burning audiobooks to disk I am loading them onto theIPod.  If I want to listen to them again, I can reload them through my Audible account. I am hoping that between my Nook and the IPod I can weed out some of my collection and avoid ending up on the show Hoarders just for my book collection! LOL

I'm sure I am not the only one with this particular problem, am I ? Addictions are a terrible thing !