Friday, June 30, 2006

The Pleasure of My Company

I picked up "The Pleasure of My Company" by comedian Steve Martin thinking that it would be a short and funny read for the summertime. Well, it was short and was amusing in spots but mostly it was bittersweet, tender, poignant and moving. At least, I found it to be so. It's the story of Daniel, the intelligent and neurotic narrator, who invites readers into his otherwise nearly closed off world of "magic squares", curb phobia and observation. Living in San Diego and unable to hold a job, the chief objects of his attentions are a pretty real estate agent, a cute pharmacist and his student therapist. He receives occasional letters from his Granny in Texas but otherwise he appears to be completely isolated from his family. On a trip to Rite Aid to check out his favorite pharmacist, he absent-mindedly completes a 500-word essay on an entry form for a "Most Average American" contest. He wins the contest (twice), which necessitates him giving a speech. This seems to be the wedge into Daniel's life, letting in all kinds of changes. The story reduced me to tears in spots and moments later I was laughing out loud (lol). As I read the book, I must admit to hearing Martin's voice, but it was not distracting or intrusive. The book is available in the audio format with Martin reading -- I would think this would be a very "pleasant" way to read the book.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

My First Audio Book

I chose John Grisham's The Broker on the new available-at-your-library Playaways as my very first book in audio format. I really enjoyed listening to a book, and I really enjoyed the small size of the Playaway, but the book itself did not capture my attention. Joel Backman, a well paid lawyer in D.C. was pardoned and released after six years in a federal prison. And then he goes to Italy. That was the most information that I got from the book. I didn't connect with his character, which made it difficult to follow his steps through Italy. This is my first John Grisham book too, and I thought there should have been more intrigue and suspense instead of Italian lessons. I did enjoy the descriptions of the sights, and the food, but otherwise was not too immersed in this book. I didn't even realize it was over until another voice started talking about Harry Potter. Oh well. At least I found a hands free way to add on to my Summer Reading books!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

New Fiction for July

Here are some of the new titles heading to the shelves in July.

Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke
Lights Out Tonight by Mary Jane Clark
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
Sleeping with Fear by Kay Hooper
Dead Wrong by J. A. Jance
Proof Positive by Phillip Margolin
Judge & Jury by James Patterson
Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs

2006 Christy Awards finalists

Since our library has a fairly substantial number of patrons who love to read inspirational fiction, I’ve been trying to read more inspirational books lately. But I’m sad to say that I’ve only read one book off the 2006 Christy Awards finalists list. A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist is a delightful historical romance set in 17th century America, when the Virginia colonies were getting set up. Lady Constance Morrow sneaks aboard a ship to rescue her uncle and then ends up trapped and sailing to America where she ends up getting sold as a tobacco bride. Drew O’Connor, owner of the small farm only needs a maid to look after his baby sister and do housework. After many trials, the two fall in love (hence the romance). I especially enjoyed Gist’s very smooth blend of history, romance and faith. Actually, the historical aspects were quite impressive for a romance!
Alright, back to the Christy’s…the following are the finalists with the winners to be announced on July 8, 2006.

Contemporary (Stand-Alones)
Grace at Low Tide by Beth Webb Hart (WestBow Press)
Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer (Bethany House Publishers)
Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin (WestBow Press)
Contemporary (Series, Sequels and Novellas)
Living With Fred by Brad Whittington (Broadman & Holman)
Moment of Truth by Sally John (Harvest House Publishers)
The Road to Home by Vanessa Del Fabbro (Steeple Hill)
Glimpses of Paradise by James Scott Bell (Bethany House Publishers)
The Noble Fugitive by T. Davis & Isabella Bunn (Bethany House Publishers)
Whence Came a Prince by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Press)
A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist (Bethany House Publishers)
Chateau of Echoes by Siri L. Mitchell (NavPress)
In Sheep's Clothing by Susan May Warren (SteepleHill)
Comes a Horseman by Robert Liparulo (WestBow Press)
Last Light by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan)
River Rising by Athol Dickson (Bethany House Publishers)
Legend of the Emerald Rose by Linda Wichman (Kregel Publications)
The Presence by Bill Myers (Zondervan)
Shadow Over Kiriath by Karen Hancock (Bethany House Publishers)
First Novel
Like a Watered Garden by Patti Hill (Bethany House Publishers)
The Road to Home by Vanessa Del Fabbro (SteepleHill)
This Heavy Silence by Nicole Mazzarella (Paraclete Press)

Category: Inspirational

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Summer... the perfect time to read

Summer reading is here and have I been reading this weekend! A total mix of genres so here goes….First, I finished The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue. It’s based on W.B. Yeats poem called, funnily enough, “The Stolen Child” about changelings, a popular European myth of faeries stealing children leaving a “replacement child” in its place. Donohue gives us a fascinating account of the changeling and the human boy who was switched out as they adjust and live out their new lives. Drawing us in, this literary fantasy (and don’t let that scare you because it is so easy to read!) is an enthralling tale for any time of year. Setting that aside with a satisfied sigh…

I moved on to Death du Jour by Lou Jane Temple. The second in the Spice Box mysteries series, the intent of each cooking oriented mystery is to involve different characters in different eras of history but all involving the spice box in some manner. Fanny Delarue, an 18th century Pariasian cook’s assistant, is living in a dangerous time with the revolution still burbling in the air. The murder of a well known chef of a neighboring household is murdered and Fanny is the only one caring enough to try and investigate it. Then, her lover, the head chef of her household, goes missing and the maitre d’ hotel (a French butler) is murdered. This cozy mystery is problematic in the sense that the mystery happens at the beginning and then wraps up in the end. The rest was all a mini history of life and cooking and eating habits of the relatively wealthy during the French Revolution sans royal heads flying into baskets. Temple’s first mystery, The Spice Box, was by far better and I was disappointed in her second effort.

I lined up a thriller in the Jurrasic Park-ish style for some more beach reading (even though I was sitting in my very air-conditioned house!) The premise of Natural Selection by Dave Freedman is the same old story of an amusement park/zoo, Manta World, going financially under. On the brink of finding a new species of rays which no doubt will be the financial savior for the owner, he continues to fund his small team of marine biologists. As the team tracks the rays up the Pacific coast, they make the horrific discovery of a deep sea species that are smart and more lethal than sharks. The rays shrinking food source in the oceans force them to evolve swiftly and soon they are flying out of the water, literally, in their quest for their next food source…an abundant supply of land mammals, yes, including humans!!! Not only are they the perfect killing machine, they are huge. Just imagine, a giant ray with a wing span of 14 feet hovering (yes, hovering) over you as you become the entrée du jour (or Death du Jour, ha!). As ridiculous as the whole premise sounds (come on….giant flying manta rays?!), I swear I read that book straight through. I kept thinking, “Yikes, then what happens?” until I found myself closing the cover! I admit, it was cookie cutter thriller to the core but it kept me reading. Definitely perfect for some pool side reading (or very late night as it was for me).

Those were my three reads but I also listened to the unabridged cd recording of Sullivan’s Evidence by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. The third gripping legal thriller involving Carolyn Sullivan, parole officer for Ventura Country, provides another excellent view of the legal system so different from the lawyer/cop scenario. A convicted killer, among many others, becomes free after 8 years in jail due to a technicality involving the forensic department. The ensuing slip puts Carolyn and her family in danger as she deals with a former prisoner bent on revenge. A new love interest throws additional turmoil into the mix. The culminating events and the extra end twist are very satisfying. Whew! That’s it for my weekend reads!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Shadow of the Wind

The Henderson Library Book Club discussed The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón in May.
I was excited to read this book because it's set in Barcelona, in the 1930s -1950s, in the years following their Civil War. Very dark, indeed.

Also, I couldn't resist any novel that introduces the "Cemetery of Forgotten Books" in the first chapter. This shadowy labyrinth twisted and folded in on itself, and drew me in further, much like the plot of the book itself.

The Shadow of the Wind reminds me very much of the magical realism of The House of the Spirits or Like Water for Chocolate. The characters seem essentially normal, but are somehow just Those who are believed to be dead are not. There are hints at ghosts, there are crypts, there are haunted houses. There is a beautiful blind woman, a psychopathic cop, a gifted writer whose books seem to choose those worthy to read them. There are star-crossed lovers whose stories end tragically as well as star-crossed lovers whose stories end blissfully.

Twisted characters live in a twisted city, and their stories intertwine throughout. I felt as though I was drawn deep into a dark maze, and when I emerged triumphant on the other side, I set the book down with a sigh of relief and satisfaction.

Category: General Fiction

Seeing Colors

Just read T. Jefferson Parker’s latest, The Fallen, and learned about a psych condition I never knew occurred. Robbie Brownlaw fell from a great height which resulted in his obtaining synesthesia, a condition where the person somehow associates another sense through other means, like tasting colors. In Brownlaw’s case, he can see if a person is lying through colored shapes floating out of people’s mouths. It comes in handy when you are a cop. Parker’s stand alone thriller of political corruption in San Diego is a tense well-plotted ride with multifaceted characters and enough twists to keep you well satisfied.

Category: Crime Fiction

Friday, June 09, 2006

Welcome to the Jungle!

Wild About Reading, Welcome to the Jungle has started at your Henderson Libraries! Visit any Henderson Library Branch to take part in our "wild" Summer Reading Program. Participate by reading books and turning in short book reviews to get some great prizes. There are four prize levels, including a Friend's of the Library gift certificate, a Chipotle coupon, an HDPL water bottle, and and HDPL book bag. Go to your closest Henderson Library Branch to sign up, check out some "wild" books, look into animal programs, and enjoy our services. Or visit for more information. Also, check out for youth services and family programs this summer. To finish off the Summer Reading Program- each level completed will place you in a Grand Prize drawing for a one night stay in Mesquite at the Eureka Hotel. There are also prizes from Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, and Claim Jumper Restaraunt. So get started on your summer reading now and earn prizes along the way!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

New Fiction Title for June 2006

The Traitor by Stephen Coonts
Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
Baby Proof by Emily Griffin
The Saboteurs: A Men at War Novel by W.E.B. Griffin
Danse Macabre by Laurell K. Hamilton
Captive of My Desires by Johanna Lindsey
The Wrong Hostage by Elizabeth Lowell
Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen
Blue Screen by Robert Parker
Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst
Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Coming Out by Danielle Steel
Terrorist by John Updike

Category: New Books