Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard

I couldn't possibly resist a book with this title--Paris and delicious recipes combined with a love story--what more could a girl want?

Elizabeth Bard is an American living in London who starts a romance with a sexy Frenchman and soon finds herself moving to Paris permanently, without more than high school French to get her by. As her relationship with Gwendal deepens so does her passion for living like a Parisian: picking out that evening's dinner each morning at the market, or thinking nothing of spending four hours at a fantastic bistro for supper.

Elizabeth shares with the reader the challenges of becoming a true Parisian and a member of a French family through the beginning of her relationship with Gwendal from the first few years of marriage until she finally feels truly Parisian.

It is a sweet story that includes amazingly simple yet gourmet quintessential French recipes that any Francophile can make.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Fiction Released the Week of 4/27/2010

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week. Please click on the title to place a copy on hold through the Library's catalog.

The 9th Judgment by James Patterson
The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle
Death of a Trophy Wife by Laura Levine
Give + Take by Stona Fitch
Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
Reckless by Andrew Gross
Return to Sender by Fern Michaels
Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael
Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
Shoot to Thrill by P.J. Tracy
Stay a Little Longer by Dorothy Garlock

Monday, April 26, 2010

Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman

Widower Meg Rosenthal takes a position at the private high school that specializes in art education, Arcadia Falls in upstate New York, as a teacher of fairy tales and folklore. One of the biggest draws is that not only will her teenager daughter be able to attend, but also the institution will provide housing for Meg, which she desperately needs since she was forced to sell her Great Neck mcmansion.

Upon arriving in Arcadia, Meg and Sally find the old cottage that used to belong to the school's founders, Lily and Vera, in disrepair and quite spooky as it sits far back in the woods in a deeply secluded area. In fact, the entire campus is engulfed in a canopy of trees in which one could easily loose her way. Meg can't help but be reminded of the old fairy tale in which a young girl was lost in a forest and was promised by a witch that her family would have riches if she switched places with a changeling.

The night before the school term begins, the students partake in an evening ceremony to say goodbye to summer and welcome the fall. During the ceremony, Isabel Cheney, who plays the fall goddess, accidentally falls over a cliff in the woods and dies. If that is not traumatic enough, Meg also discovers a secret journal hidden in the hearth of the cottage's fireplace in which Lily, a founder of the school, writes about her life before she had met her fate in the same way as Isabel. Could these two premature deaths really be accidents?

Arcadia Falls is several stories within a story, as there is the tale of the changeling girl that keeps reappearing, the story of Lily and Vera, and Meg's story. Therefore, it is easy to be so enraptured in the details of one story that you forget this is part of a bigger story, which I loved. Although not as cleverly crafted as it's predecessors, Arcadia Falls is a page-turning gothic novel that should please readers who enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale and The House at Riverton.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Gilded Web by Mary Balogh

This is the first book of the Web trilogy by Mary Balogh. Often Balogh's series get better as they progress, but in this case the first book is my favorite.

The story begins with Alexandra Purnell being abducted and taken to the Earl of Amberley's home, where she is left for the night. When Edmund, the Earl, discovers her trussed up on his sister's bed, he quickly discovers that Alex was mistaken for his sister Madeline. Madeline's twin, Dominic, had encouraged some of his friends to stop her from a possible elopement, and this was the tactic his unwise friends had chosen. Unfortunately, they abduct the wrong woman. Despite Edmund's best efforts, the story soon gets out, and Alex's reputation is destroyed and her betrothal to the Duke of Peterleigh ended. He persuades a very reluctant Alex to become his fiancee, and they embark on a visit to his country estate.

This rather convoluted series of events sets the stage for Alex and Edmund to begin their courtship. Alex has grown up in a strict home, with an overbearing father. She is loathe to allow another man to control her destiny, even with the best intentions, and she resents needing Edmund to protect her. She is an unusual heroine, because she spends most of the story trying to get out of her engagement, while acknowledging Edmund's sincerity and good heart. She is not looking for love; she is looking for personal freedom.

Edmund, on the other hand, has been the head of his family since he was nineteen, and he has an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. He spends his time caring for, and protecting the people he loves, even against his own interests. He feels responsible for Alex's predicament, he admires her courage, and he longs to take care of her.

Balogh has created two engaging characters with very different points of view who develop a relationship based on respect, trust and love. The side characters and stories are interesting as well, and this was a fun read.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Intrigue at Highbury (or, Emma's Match) by Carrie Bebris

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are on their way to visit Colonel Fitzwilliam and Anne when their carriage is robbed. It started with a girl in the road and ended with their gifts to the Colonel and Anne stolen. Happening right outside the village of Highbury, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy head to the magistrate's, Mr. Knightly. There they find that they have come to the tail end of a party. It turns out the party was ending because one of the guest has died.

Emma Woodhouse, newly Emma Knightly, is hosting a party to celebrate the wedding of Frank Churchill to Jane Fairfax. During the party, Edgar Churchill, Frank's adopted father, seems to have had too much to drink. After getting sick during dinner, he is ushered to a guest room with the doctor. A little while later he is dead. Turns out he was poisoned with Belladonna.

The main suspect is Frank Churchill, who will inherit everything. But when Frank is poisoned, Mr. Knightly must look elsewhere. But since he doesn't like Frank, he asks Mr. Darcy to help. Suddenly the list of suspects grows. From the peddler to the gypsies to even Jane Churchill, everyone seems to have motive. But with Mr. and Mrs. Darcy on the case, the mystery will be solved in no time.

Another great book in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series. I really look forward to these books, and The Intrigue at Highbury didn't disappoint!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Fiction Released the Week of 4/20/2010

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week. Please click on the title to place a copy on hold through the Library's catalog.

All That Follows by Jim Crace
The Body of Death by Elizabeth George
The Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick
Deliver Us From Evil by David Baldacci
The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith
Eight Days to Live by Iris Johansen
Lucid Intervals by Stuart Woods
Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
The Third Rail by Michael Harvey
Till You Hear From Me by Pearl Cleage

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Queen's Play by Dorothy Dunnett

Queen's Play is the second novel in the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. Having proved his innocence, and escaped the death penalty in The Game of Kings, Francis Crawford of Lymond goes to France as a spy for Mary of Guise, the Queen Dowager of Scotland. She believes her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scot's, life is in danger in the French court, where she resides as the dauphin's betrothed. Lymond agrees to investigate, and begins to win his way into the French court in disguise.

It takes awhile before we even know which character Lymond is, since his identity isn't initially revealed. He has donned an unlikely disguise, and uses it to become the court darling as he parties and schemes the nights away. At first, it seems that he is merely playing a part to obtain information, but it soon becomes clear that his role is beginning to control him. Lymond has spent so many years as a prisoner, a galley slave, and then an outlaw, that now that he has some freedom, it threatens to destroy him.

This is a dense story, with multiple plot twists, and an enigmatic main character. Dunnett does a wonderful job of recreating the French court, and her characters are vivid and unforgettable. Most vivid of all is Lymond, who continues to baffle, frustrate, and fascinate the people around him, and his readers. While it wasn't an easy read, I loved this novel, and it is an important stepping stone in the Lymond Chronicles. Dunnett is the best historical fiction author I've read, and she's a great read-alike for lovers of Patrick O'Brien.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

In this third magic-laced, Southern novel from Allen, a sixteen year-old named Emily, whose mother recently died, is going to Mullaby, North Carolina to live with the grandfather she has never met. Vance Shelby is no ordinary grandfather, as he is over eight feet tall and sticks out like a sore thumb, but is gentle like a giant. In addition, Emily also learns that Mullaby is like no other small town when the wallpaper in her room changes with her mood from lilacs to fluttering butterflies, and there are inexplicable lights that flash through the backyard in the moonlight.

Emily knows nothing about this place, including her own mother's history. However, she gets the feeling from the locals that her mother's role was so wicked that she never returned and may be the reason why she never talked to Emily about her past. Emily also meets a charming young man by the name of Win Coffey who says they are connected by a past secret, but it is not a secret he is able to share.

Fortunately, Emily has at least one ally in town, neighbor Julia Winterson, who owns the best BBQ place and who spends her early mornings making her famous cakes. Julia, a Mullaby native, returned after her father's death to run the restaurant. Never feeling liked she belonged here, Julia plans to stay only a few years. However, this becomes difficult when her cakes draw the attention of a past love, Sawyer, who broke her heart a long time ago.

I would love to move away to the magical worlds Allen imagines for her characters. Her books can't be published fast enough as far as I am concerned. The Girl Who Chased the Moon is a story that will enchant sweet-toothed readers who enjoy novels set in the south.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Fiction Released the Week of 4/13/2010

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week. Please click on the title to place a copy on hold through the Library's catalog.

American Taliban
by Pearl Abraham
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
The Burying Place by Brian Freeman
Dead Head by Rosemary Harris
Elegy for April by Benjamin Black
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone
Happy Now? by Katherine Shonk
The Heretic's Wife by Brenda Rickman Vantrease
The Hittite by Ben Bova
Infamous by Ace Atkins
The Inheritance by Simon Tolkien
The Killer by Tom Hinshelwood
A Mighty Fortress by David Weber
My Wife's Affair by Nancy Woodruff
Of Flesh and Blood by Daniel Kalla
Once Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming
The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark
Sham Rock by Ralph McInerny
Shameless by Karen Robards
Silent Auction by Jane Cleland
Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
Wrecked by Carol Higgins Clark

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Big Girl by Danielle Steel

Victoria Dawson was a disappointment to her parents as soon as she was born. She wasn't a boy and she looked nothing like her parents. In fact, her father thought maybe she had been switched with another baby. Her father, Jim, is a tall dark haired handsome man. Her mother, Christina is petite, dark haired and beautiful. Victoria was a cute, chubby baby with blond hair and blue eyes. Her father thinking he was being funny said they should name her after Queen Victoria. While growing up Victoria assumed her father thought she was beautiful because Queens are beautiful and graceful until she saw an actually picture of Queen Victoria. She still hasn't forgiven him.

When Victoria was six, her mom became pregnant again. This time the baby was perfect. Grace looked just like her parents and was beautiful. The new joke by their dad was Victoria was the tester cake and Grace was perfection. Victoria did not hold this against Grace and loved her with everything she had. And Grace loved Victoria unconditionally.

As the girls grow up in LA, their differences are very noticeable but their bond never falters. Even when Victoria goes away to college in Chicago, they are still the best of friends. And when Victoria graduates and moves to New York to be a teacher, Grace couldn't be happier. But their dad always has negative comments and their mom always goes along with what he said.

As the years go by and Victoria becomes the woman she wants to be and meets the man who loves her as she is, Grace also falls in love. Her first day of college she meets the man she would marry. Unfortunately Victoria can see that he is exactly like their father. And as much as Victoria tries to make Grace see that, she doesn't. Because even though they grew up in the same house, they were treated very different.

I usually don't read Danielle Steel but this book sounded different from her other ones so I gave it a try. And I am glad I did. I really enjoyed Big Girl.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sizzle and Burn by Jayne Ann Krentz

Sizzle and Burn is the third book in Jayne Ann Krentz's Arcane Society series, and one of the books in that series that takes place in modern times.

Raine Tallentyre has spent her life avoiding the Arcane Society and the private investigative firm, J & J, which she blames for destroying her father's lab, killing him, frightening her aunt, and destroying her childhood. She has also hidden her ability to hear voices from others, because people either don't believe her, or are scared of her talent. After Raine's aunt Vella dies, Raine goes to Shelbyville, Washington to clear out her aunt's house. While there, she comes across evidence of a crime committed by a serial killer.

Zack Jones is part of the Arcane Society, working for J & J, and sees visions. He has come to Shelbyville as part of his investigation, when he runs into Raine. Instead of finding Raine frightening, he finds her fascinating. He also appreciates the way she can understand what living with a strong, but rare paranormal ability is like. However, to Raine he represents everything that she has spent her life avoiding, and despising, even though she is intrigued by his acceptance of her talent. Inevitably, they are drawn into the hunt for the serial killer, as well as a relationship with each other, even though Raine takes some convincing.

Raine and Zack are likable characters, and I enjoyed the slow uncovering of Raine's history. The pace is fast, the action is interesting, and their relationship is fun to watch. This was an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Fiction Released the Week of 4/06/2010

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week. Please click on the title to place a copy on hold through the Library's catalog.

The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
Anthill by Edward Wilson
The Black Cat by Martha Grimes
Cat of the Century by Rita Mae Brown
Changes by Jim Butcher
City of Lost Girls by Declan Hughes
Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell
Crimes by Moonlight edited by Charlaine Harris
Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharrat
Holly Blues by Susan Wittig Albert
Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
Lake Shore Limited by Sue Miller
The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
Laughed 'Til He Died by Carolyn Hart
Miss Julia Renews Her Vows by Ann B. Ross
The Moonlit Earth by Christopher Rice
Nowhere to Run by C.J. Box
A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
Six Mile Creek by Richard Helms
The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw
The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

Friday, April 2, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

As a struggling writer, Seth Grahme-Smith spends most of his time working as a clerk in a small-town dime store. His contact with regular customer Henry is limited to small talk, that is, until the day he drops a package by with instructions to open only after he is gone. What Grahame discovers in the package is a journal written in the hand of none other than the former president himself: Abraham Lincoln, and the the whole of the novel is those journal entries.

We all know that Honest Abe was a man of law, advocate of abolishing slavery, and our nation's 16th president. However, little of you may know the vast amount of time he spent as a vampire hunter. The novel begins with Abe's humble upbringings on a Kentucky farm where he resides with his mother and father and older sister. Shortly after his mother's untimely death, Lincoln learns that she did not actually die from bad milk, but at the hands of a vampire who Abe's father was financially indebted to and was not able to repay his loan.

From this day forward, Abe vowed to himself that he would avenge his mother's death by killing vampires. He spent days training in the woods by his house, sharpening his axe and building strength so he would be prepared to best his opponents. On one such night when he was out hunting vampires, he was caught off guard by a particularly savvy demon but was thankfully rescued by a man who called himself Henry Sturges. Henry kept Abe in his cabin under restraint until he was healed and rehabilitated. He then revealed that he is a vampire who wishes for Abe to kill others of his kind who are the causes of evil wrongdoings.

For the next twenty years, Abe received letters from Henry with a name of the next vampire that should be killed. The novel really follows Abe's factual history, from his time as a partner in a Springfield law firm, to his seat in the senate, to his presidency. The only difference is the new knowledge of his hobby as a vampire hunter.

Additionally, the story also follows Abe's lost of his first love Ann to TB and his later marriage to Mary Todd as well as his ongoing nightmares and premonitions of his own death. It his only until shortly before he becomes president with a war imminent that Abe learns of Henry's true intentions and his alliance to a group who calls themselves "the Union." It should also come as no surprise that John Wilkes Booth was a vampire as well.

I love anything about Lincoln, and I reveled in this interesting story about our fascinating president with vampire madness as added fun! Whether or not you are a history buff or vampire fan, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter should just about please anyone.