The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

>

In The Greatest Knight Chadwick draws us in with a thrilling and suspenseful tale of knights in battle, courtly intrigue, and Medieval daily life. Marshal is a man of integrity, surrounded by those who are willing to sacrifice anything to gain more power and money. He walks a constant tightrope, attempting to keep his promises and do what is right without losing everything that he has.
I don’t normally pick up books that are strictly historical fiction, but I was tricked by the cover into thinking this was a romance. By the time I figured out that it wasn’t, I was so into the story that I didn’t care. This is a great book that I think almost anyone would enjoy.

Murder at Longbourn: A Mystery

>

Need a seasonal murder mystery to bring in the new year? Try Murder at Longbourn: A Mystery the debut novel of Tracy Kiely. The charming setting is a quaint bed and breakfast inn on Cape Cod. Elizabeth Parker’s best invitation for New Year’s eve fun is offered by her Aunt Winnie to join her mystery dinner party at her beautiful B & B. As the guests finish dinner and the acting troup arrives to create the murder plot, something goes awry and a guest lies murdered. This cozy mystery has ties-ins to Jane Austen characters and weaves quotes throughout to add to the fun. The characters are colorful and the mystery is convoluted and intriguing.

Comfort Reads

>

I just recently spent six days glued to my couch, clinging desperately to my decongestants and tissue box. Although it was an unpleasant experience, it did give me a chance to catch up on my reading. Here’s my top three reads from my days on the couch:

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Stephanie Plum is an unemployed New Jersey girl who is forced to work for her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie. Originally, she applies for a job filing, but since that job has been filled, she becomes a bounty hunter. The mystery is good, but the true joy of this book is the tales of Stephanie’s ineptness at her new job.

The Department of Lost and Found by Allison Winn Scotch has a slightly more serious tone, but is still light enough for sick-time reading. Natalie Miller is an ambitious political assistant with bad luck in love. When she is sidelined by cancer, she’s given an opportunity to rexamine life and how she wants to live it. Although about a challenging subject, Scotch manages to present Natalie’s story with humor and hope.
Delicious by Sherry Thomas lives up to the title. A Victorian version of the Cinderella story, Delicious is the tale of Verity Durant, a woman whose culinary creations render entire dinner parties speechless with delight. She is content in the kitchen until her employer dies, leaving his house to his brother, a man from Verity’s past. Her passions, both culinary and otherwise, make for a great story of love, loss, and the power of good food.

Rainwater by Sandra Brown

>

In a departure from her romantic suspense novels, Sandra Brown’s new book is set in depression-era Texas of the 1930′s. Ella Barron runs a small-town boarding house and cares for her son Solly, a ten-year-old mentally challenged child. David Rainwater comes into her life as a boarder under the care of his uncle, the local physician. The story of their relationships unfolds amidst the racial and economic tensions of the time. In Rainwater, the author has been able to convey the hardships of people who survived the dust bowl era in rural areas. The characters are touching and the story bittersweet–this is a small book whose characters stories will touch your heart.

Hey, Mister–Your Alligator’s Loose by Gary Clarke

>

Hey Mister – Your Alligator’s Loose! is Gary’s collection of stories from his time in “zoobiz” – starting at the Kansas City Zoo at Swope Park, to Fort Worth, Texas, to the World Famous Topeka Zoo. Gary shares some unbelievable zoo moments – like a somersaulting giraffe, the “missed cue” at the opening of the Gorilla Encounter, a lion cub attack, a near-lethal snake bite, rolling out the red carpet for noted dignitaries, and the terrific support the zoo had from the Topeka community as it grew. Gary will share these memories as a thank-you to the citizens of Topeka, who were the real force behind the Topeka Zoo becoming the World Famous Topeka Zoo. Topeka Public Library

Catching Fire

>

Suzanne Collin’s second book in the Hunger Games trilogy is another riveting sci fi thriller that kept me on the edge and wanting more. Katniss succeeded in winning the first Hunger Games and disrupting the Capitol’s one-winner rule with the help of Peeta. Now it is time for the Victory Tour and the next games and the President has horrible plans to keep the districts in line once again.

Dystopian novels are defined as including an often futuristic version of a society in which conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war, violence and terror resulting in widespread unhappiness, suffering and other kinds of pain. So why would someone want to read such dismal fare? Catching Fire also includes characters who define what is great about humankind. They show sacrifice, love and humility for each other and in this case, fight for the greater good.

The final outcome of Panem will be revealed in the third novel due out next fall. If you cannot wait that long then try another exciting dystopian novel, The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

For Dog Lovers!

>

Two books new to Manhattan Public Library contain lots of interesting information about dogs–if you are a dog owner or dog lover these books offer insight into your dog’s behavior. In his book The Power of the Dog: Things Your Dog Can Do That You Can’t by Les Krantz, the author relates many stories and incidents that illustrate the remarkable abilities that dogs may have, from an ability to predict earthquakes, sense impending death, or alert us to impending seizures to helping autistic children communicate, learn what is dangerous to the blind and, perhaps most importantly, loving us unconditionally. Krantz describes a dog’s visual abilities and how a dog’s world is organized by scent rather than sight. His facts are presented in the form of stories about various dogs which leaves us with a great appreciation for the many ways dogs help their human friends and enrich our lives.

Alexandra Horowitz uses scientific research and observation that has been done on dogs to tell of their abilities in her book Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know. Fascinating information about how dogs interpret the world is presented and their powers are in many ways amazing. Dogs encounter the world through scent and their ability not only to detect odors but to “layer” odors–to identify older smells from more recent odors, is nothing short of astonishing. Humans have about 2 million odor receptors–dogs have from 200-300 million (depending on the breed) and their physiology helps them to be able to recognize and learn millions of scents–they interpret their world in a rainbow of smells rather than color. Her chapter on how dogs learn to interpret human behavior and at times anticipate our behavior offers insight into a dogs perception.
Both of these books, though different in their approach to the information, offer wonderful insights into the captivating behavior and abilities of man’s and woman’s best friend.

The Moneypenny Diaries

>While James Bond was out battling the likes of Dr. No and Goldfinger, sipping shaken-not-stirred martinis and racing around in his specially equipped Aston Martin (or BMW, depending on which version of Bond you fancy), Miss Moneypenny was sitting quietly at her desk, typing up his reports and daydreaming about the womanizing secret agent, right? Wrong. Kate Westbrook’s The Moneypenny Diaries paints a very different picture of M’s loyal secretary. Haunted by the disappearance of her father on a mysterious covert mission during World War II, Jane Moneypenny joins MI6 in the hope that the connections she makes in Britain’s spy agency will lead her to the truth about his fate. Meanwhile, the secrecy surrounding her day-to-day work complicates her personal relationships, and the information she is privy to involves her in dangers far removed from her office at MI6 headquarters. And then there’s 007, the dashing but troubled agent with whom she shares a flirtatious friendship, and for whose welfare Jane spends many a worried, wakeful night.

Full of action, intrigue, and factual information about the operations of spy agencies in the Cold War era, The Moneypenny Diaries will leave you with a new appreciation for the woman too often lost in James Bond’s shadow.