Three Weeks to Say Goodbye by C.J. Box

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Jack and Melissa McGuane’s dream has come true with the adoption of their daughter Angelina. But nine months after bringing her home, they receive a devastating phone call from the adoption agency. Angelina’s teenage birth father never signed away his parental rights and he wants her back. Worse, his father, a powerful Denver judge, will stop at nothing to return the baby to her 18 year old father. When Jack and Melissa meet face to face with the father and son, it is immediately apparent that there’s something sinister about both of them and that love for Angelina is not the motivation for their actions.

As Angelina’s safety hangs in the balance, a horrifying game of intimidation and double-cross begins that quickly becomes a death spiral where absolutely no one is safe…How far would you go to save someone you love? In a startling departure from seven previous novels featuring Joe Pickett, a modern forest ranger, Wyoming author, C. J. Box, will keep you breathless.

Tales from the Dad Side: misadventures in Fatherhood

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Calling all parents who need encouragement and a good laugh. Steve Doocy, co-host of Fox News morning show, Fox & Friends, has written a touching and humorous book relating stories of his Kansas childhood and his journey as a father. What parent hasn’t questioned his or her skills dealing with the incalculable situations of parenting. Steve’s very funny stories of his childhood with his traveling salesman father and then his goofs and grins raising his own three children kept me laughing till I hurt. You just have to share these funny stories with the people you love. Put Tales from the Dad Side: misadventures in Fatherhood down on your list of great books to read.

Time for Suspension of Disbelief

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I’ll acknowledge up front that this book wins the “Cheesiest Title” award, but I have to ask you to look beyond the cover to find a gem of a book. A Ghost in Love by Jonathan Carroll begins with a ghost cooking a gourmet meal for a half-dead man’s ex-girlfriend. The interaction between the after-life, the living, those stuck in between, and dogs makes for a sometimes spooky and often hilarious story. Without becoming overly sentimental, Carroll uses his imagination of what is to come to explore the life, loves, and regrets of one man. This is a delightful read.

Saved by Karin Winegar

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If you have a special place in your heart for animals, grab a box of tissues and pick up a copy of Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives they Transform by Karin Winegar. Winegar tells the touching stories of various animals saved from shelters and cruelty and of the people who try to heal the damage done to them and revive their trust in human beings. She also tells us of how these rescued animals have helped to touch the lives of many people, from nursing home and hospice residents to a man whose rescued horse helped him to survive the death of his son. These heartfelt stories remind us of the power that the love of an animal can have in our lives.

Lost in the Library

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A group of people, from different countries and with greatly differing personalities, board a plane in an exotic locale. The plane goes off course, malfunctioning and crashing into an unidentified wilderness far from any known civilization. The survivors band together for protection and guidance, and a natural leader emerges. But before they can be rescued the survivors are approached by a group of people who have dwelt in that strange land for generations, people who possess uncanny knowledge, an abundance of secrets, and – possibly – the key to immortality itself. Yet while some of the survivors want to remain in this hidden utopia, surrendering all desire for rescue, others are desperate to return to their former lives. And when one of the survivors does escape – and subsequently comes to regret his choice – he finds the way back to the mysterious civilization hidden and despairs of ever finding it again.

Sound familiar? It may, but it isn’t the plot of ABC’s hit series Lost which returns this week for its fifth season. It is actually a summary of James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon. This enigmatic, moving story of a Himalayan Shangri-La and the group of outsiders who stumble upon it will haunt you long after you’ve passed the last page. It’s a must-read for Lost fans – as are other tales of castaways, survivors and mysterious, hidden lands such as Lord of the Flies, Robinson Crusoe, Stranger in a Strange Land, Heart of Darkness, and Gulliver’s Travels. Come to the library to find these and other Lost-alikes and prepare yourself for some mind-bending, time-warping, twist-turning adventure!

About Alice by Calvin Trillin

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I have reviewed many romances here, but I have never read anything that told the story of love the way Calvin Trillin does in About Alice. Trillan, a staff writer at the New Yorker, had written often of his wife, but felt that he had made her into a caricature of herself. After her death in 2001, he set out to tell the whole story of this remarkable woman and of their relationship. Be warned that you will not be able to read this without shedding a tear.

Cross Country by James Patterson

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The Resolute and the History of Arctic Exploration

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The history of exploration is full of stories of remarkable courage, selfless heroism, strange coincidences, and unimaginable tragedy. And perhaps no region of the world has produced as many such stories as the Arctic with its sub-zero temperatures, treacherous, frozen seas, and unrelenting winters. The 19th century saw a flurry of Arctic adventures as Great Britain dispatched expedition after expedition to the northern seas to seek the fabled Northwest Passage to the Pacific. None of these expeditions would inspire the same confidence, national pride, and – ultimately – lasting infamy as the Franklin Expedition.

In 1845 Sir John Franklin sailed from England for the Arctic regions with two ships and 128 men on what was viewed as a mission of certain success. His orders were to find and sail through the Northwest Passage, and to insure his success he was equipped with two of the most technologically-advanced ships ever dispatched to the Arctic – the Terror and the Erebus – and enough supplies to keep him and his men fed and comfortable for at least five years. When the expedition, its ships, and every man on board vanished without a trace, however, the Franklin Expedition turned from a triumphant display of British naval power and ingenuity into one of the greatest and most enduring mysteries in the history of exploration. For the next twenty years England would send out dozens of intrepid men to search for Franklin and his crews – first in the hope of rescue, then simply to solve the puzzle of their fate. Yet to this day only three graves, two cryptic notes, and a scattering of artifacts and human bones have been located to give any indication of what tragedy befell the expedition.

So how is the ill-fated Franklin Expedition connected to the desk in the Oval Office used by U.S. presidents? That is the story that Martin W. Sandler unfolds in his book Resolute: the epic search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the discovery of the Queen’s ghost ship. It is a fascinating look at the personalities and expeditions – both thrilling and horrifying – that preceded Franklin and ventured into the Arctic wastes after his disappearance.

This and other tales of cold climate adventure and endurance are on display this month at MPL. See how warm January suddenly feels after reading these non-fiction stories of heroism and survival!

Need a Good Laugh?

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In the midst of life’s challenges nothing helps like a good laugh and Manhattan Library Association would like to give you just that. This year’s TALK (Talk About Literature in Kansas) series is “That’s Funny: Books that Make Us Laugh“. We’ll discussing four books through the spring. The first meeting is Thursday, January 29, at 7:00 pm, in the Manhattan Public Library Auditorium where we’ll talk about The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald with Trish Reeves of Haskell Indian Nations University.

In The Egg and I, MacDonald writes about her years as a young bride in the late 1920s, which she spent with her less-than-realistic new husband on a very primitive chicken farm in rural Washington state. Copies are available for check-out at the Information Desk on the first floor of the library.

Paper Marriage

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If you are like me and enjoy a good romance every once in a while to escape everyday life, The Paper Marriage by Susan Kay Law is a great choice. Ann McCrary’s marriage has been on hold for 12 years after an automobile accident put her husband into a deep coma. Her life changes when Tom Nash moves in next door–a retired baseball player and a clueless single father of a teen aged girl. This is a story of love, loyalties and changing relationships with interesting characters–I really enjoyed it!