The Search by Nora Roberts

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Nora Roberts delivers another exciting romantic suspense story with her latest novel The Search. Fiona Bristow is a dog trainer and leads a canine search and rescue team on an island near Seattle. Years earlier, she fought back as a serial killer attempted to abduct her, assisted in his prosecution and moved on to take control of her life. She worked to be independent and not consider herself a victim but a survivor. Her new neighbor Simon comes to her classes to train his uncontrollable puppy and sparks begin to fly between the two. Simon resists his attraction to Fiona and she asserts her independence. A copy-cat killer threatens Fiona and she and Simon work to cope with the danger and find the killer together. Both are strong, multi-faceted characters with lots of chemistry between them and both are are forced beyond their comfort zones to become involved with each other. Adding interest for me was the information about dog training and canine search and rescue that Roberts weaves into the story–another taut thriller form Nora Roberts.

Leaving Unknown by Kerry Reichs

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After losing yet another job, Maeve Connelly decides she needs a fresh start. Hoping to lose her reputation as irresponsible and flighty by starting over in a new place, she packs up her 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner and heads for California. Car trouble along the way leaves her stranded in Unknown, Arizona where she finds a boarding house that offers a free room in exchange for cleaning and a job in a book store to help pay for the car repair. The annoyance of being stranded quickly fades as she is befriended by quirky characters who help her to see herself differently, and eventually she’s not so sure that she wants to head on down the road.
In Leaving Unknown Kerry Reichs mixes humorous characters, romance, and small-town nostalgia with an inspiring story about facing the past.

If you’re waiting for Mockingjay…

>The Hunger Games trilogy has become a cultural phenomenon over the past couple years, and the final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, goes on sale tonight at 12:01 AM. Like Harry Potter, there will be midnight release parties for this one. If you’re on the hold list for Mockingjay (or The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, for that matter), below are some other books you’ll find in the library that might appeal to you.

Uglies is the first book in a trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. In this dystopic future, people go through surgery to become “pretties” at 16, a change that enhances similar characteristics and shifts features toward the ideal of beauty. Teens are then free to party and play. Tally is one young Ugly who yearns to become a Pretty, but things get turned upside down when her friend Shay runs away and Tally is told to go spy on her or never be allowed to become a Pretty.

Yelena is convicted of killing a general’s son and sentenced to death by hanging. Granted a reprieve in exchange for becoming a poison taster for the Commander, ruler of Ixia, Yelena is soon caught up in castle politics. She also realizes some people want her dead and Ixia is not a terribly stable country at the moment. Poison Study, with a strong leading female character, complicated political machinations and a riveting romance will suck in readers as surely as The Hunger Games did.

For a more grown-up version of The Hunger Games, Genesis may appeal. In this near-future dystopia, Anax is a young historian living in an island society that is a refuge from the rest of the devastated planet. The island is founded on security and order above freedom, modeled after Plato’s Republic. Anax wants to enter the Academy, and completes her entrance exam paper on Adam Forde, a soldier who rescued a young girl from a raft and was sentenced to work with an advanced robot named Art as his punishment. This short novel is a philosophical work centered on the interaction of humanity, technology and the environment, but it manages to read like a thriller the whole way through.

A few other ideas for books like those in The Hunger Games trilogy include:

Feed by M.T. Anderson
Oryx and Crake and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Jennifer Government by Max Barry
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
Neuromancer by William Gibson

You can also check out the display cart that’s in front of the teen zone dedicated to Mockingjay readalikes.

Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Milne

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Sophia Jones is a chocolatier with her own shop and with a decidedly cynical view of life. Tragedy in her past has affected her relationships and her outlook in many ways, leaving her doubtful that lasting happiness can exist. After her fiancee abandons her days before their wedding, she creates “misfortune” cookies–covered in bittersweet chocolate with hand-written misfortunes inside (You will soon fall in love. Caution: When people fall, something usually breaks). Her fiancee Garrett walks back into her life a year later, hoping to explain his behavior. Believing lasting happiness does not exist, she asks him to find 100 examples of true happiness before she will discuss the past with him. He places an ad in the newspaper, and their lives are changed in unexpected ways.
More than a romantic story, Sweet Misfortune provokes reflection about the nature of happiness, how the past can affect our lives and how perceptions we have of events can differ from others experiencing the same event.
Milne has another title in Manhattan Public Library’s collection–The Paper Bag Christmas.

Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall-Smith

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Alexander McCall Smith has begun another fun series with an international setting. This time we are in a neighborhood in Londom called Pimlico, learning about the quirky characters that live in the four-storey building known as Corduroy Mansion. We meet William, a wine merchant, and his twenty four year old son Eddie who is past the age of dependence yet continues to outlive his welcome at home. Marcia, a caterer, would like to have a relationship with William but Eddie seems to always be in the way. Living below William and Eddie are four single girls sharing a flat. Each of the four have different jobs and dysfunctional relationships that sometimes feel a little too close to home. The bottom floor flat is owned by Basil Wickramsinghe from Sri Lnaka. We learn little of him in this first book other than that he is an accountant and has a mysterious lady friend.

Freddie de la Hay is introduced as the sweet, vegetarian Pimlico terrier that William dog-shares with Manfred James, a newspaper columnist. We have yet to discover what happens when Manfred finds out that Freddie is no longer a vegetarian pooch when staying with William.

Several other characters are introduced that are funny and either delightful or ones we love to hate. The following is McCall-Smith’s last line in his own review on Amazon.com:

“This is light social comedy, I suppose, but while I admit that the whole point of the exercise is for the reader to have fun, I hope in this story, nonetheless, to say something about how we live and about how finding love and meaning in the very small things of life may transform us, may make our ordinary lives more bearable.”

If you’re waiting for Eat, Pray, Love…

>If you’re waiting for Eat, Pray, Love (or enjoyed it), here are some other titles to check out.

If you enjoyed the experience of following along with Elizabeth Gilbert on her journey of self-discovery, you may want to pick up It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, A Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita by Heather Armstrong (author of the blog dooce.com). Having a baby is a life-changing event, a journey chronicled by Armstrong in It Sucked and Then I Cried. Armstrong doesn’t sugar-coat the experience and approaches it with humor as she discusses everything from her relationship with her body during pregnancy to her battle with chronic depression and the joys (and tedium) of caring for a newborn.

If you’re interested in the sense of place and wonderful characters of Eat, Pray, Love, then you might enjoy Extra Virgin: A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera, Where Every Month is Enchanted. This memoir follows a young woman and her sister as they travel to Italy for a summer job and then decide to stay after falling in love with the Italian countryside. They have an immense appreciation for Italian food and a willingness to work hard to succeed in the new home they purchase. Colorful natives and wonderful descriptions of what it’s like to live in a small town in Italy permeate this beautiful narrative.

If you want to read Eat, Pray, Love because you love food, then you may enjoy Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. In this book, Kingsolver chronicles the first year of an experiment her family undertook to eat only food grown locally. This means lots of trips to the farmers’ market and lots of growing their own food. Kingsolver discusses everything from the health (and taste) benefits of eating only foods that are not processed and filled with additives, as well as the environmental and community benefits of supporting local agriculture. This memoir is an interesting and informative look at a movement in which many Americans are getting involved.

No Way Down: Life and Death on K2

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Journalist Graham Bowley chronicles a day of triumph and tragedy in 2008 in his book No Way Down. It is the story of a group of climbers trying to summit K2, the second tallest mountain in the world. Although slightly lower in altitude than Everest, K2 presents climbers with a more dangerous and challenging climb, so much so that far fewer climbers have reached the summit of K2 than of Everest, and many of those who reached the top did not survive the descent.
The day of climbing began with groups from several countries attempting a coordinated ascent of the mountain. These were not the guided tours of climbers often found on Everest, but experienced and well-trained climbers who knew the risks of attempting to summit such a dangerous mountain. After a period of confusion and of poor decision-making, the teams were late in their ascents and descents, resulting in most climbers starting their climbs too late in the day thus requiring they climb down in the darkness. Climbers were forced to spend much more time than planned in the oxygen-poor, freezing cold high altitude. Eleven climbers perished on the mountain that day and night.
Bowley reconstructs the events of the day through interviews with survivors, family members and others involved in the expeditions, revealing both the tragedy and heroism demonstrated on that day. Now Way Down offers fascinating insights into the world of extreme mountain climbing and into the minds of those who are willing to risk their lives to reach the summits of the highest mountains in the world.

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

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Meena Harper is really tired of her life. The soap opera she writes for is being taken over by a vampire plot line, she can’t get her unemployed brother to move out of her apartment, and it’s so difficult to meet men when she has the ability to see how people are going to die as soon as she meets them. Then one night late when she is out walking her tempermental dog, she is rescued from a freak bat attack by a beautiful man. For the first time ever, she can look him straight in the eye and not see how he will die. Of course, the reason for this is going to be unpleasant.

Meg Cabot is at her finest with Insatiable, managing to create a paranormal romance with her typical wit.

Private: Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, London, Chicago, Paris, Frankfort, Tokyo, Rome

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Intrigue is three levels deep in James Patterson’s new novel, Private: Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, London, Chicago, Paris, Frankfort, Tokyo, Rome. Jack Morgan, owner of Private, a renowned investigation company, is searching for the murderer of his best friend’s wife while an NFL betting scandal involving referees is a priority case taking him to Las Vegas. Now another schoolgirl in the area has been murdered making her number twelve and Private is working on the case pro bono in a controversial arrangement with LAPD.
Jack is suffering from demented dreams as he has flashbacks from a helicopter crash in Vietnam. There is something regarding the helicopter crash that he cannot recall that plagues his waking hours.
Action and multiple storylines keep the pages turning quickly in this thriller.

Movie night!

>Feeling like picking up a movie for Friday or Saturday night? Stop by the library and check out our selection!
Sometimes being single is hard and frustrating. Women sometimes threaten to give up on men and simply start dating other women. Well, Jessica Stein actually follows through with the threat in Kissing Jessica Stein. Jessica sees a classified ad in the “women seeking women” section of the newspaper that contains a quote from her favorite author, and on a whim, she answers it. Hilarity ensues as two women who have previously only dated men try to navigate a relationship with each other.

In the early to mid-2000s there were a bunch of movies that came out that were comedies, but the humor was very awkward (think Shopgirl, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, or The Royal Tenenbaums). Broken Flowers falls into that category. Don Johnston receives a letter one day informing him he may have a 19 year old son who is looking for him. He has also just been dumped by his latest girlfriend. This letter induces Don to embark on a journey to find the four old girlfriends who may be able to enlighten him concerning this possible offspring. The music from this film is absolutely amazing, and Bill Murray is absolutely hilarious.

Bolt is an extremely funny and poignant family film. Bolt is a dog in an action/sci-fi television show, but he doesn’t realize the things happening in the show aren’t real and that he doesn’t have superpowers. When he believes his owner, Penny, is in danger, he sets off across the country to find and save her. Along the way, he meets an alley cat who just wants to be loved and a hamster who worships him. The two join him on his quest to save Penny.

Blame It on Paris by Laura Florand

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Blame It on Paris by Laura Florand is a semiautobiographical novel that tells the story of Laura, a student in Paris who doesn’t like the city but stumbles upon a waiter that she can’t resist. I picked this up thinking it would be a fun little chick lit novel and in some ways it is. The romance is delightful and it is a very funny novel. But I found myself entranced by seeing the two cultures interact. It wasn’t always pretty, but they learned from each other and we get to learn vicariously along the way.

Skulduggery Pleasant: The Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy

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Audiobooks are not usually my favorite medium. It takes longer to get through the book, and I don’t always like the voice of the person performing the reading. By happy accident, I picked up Skulduggery Pleasant on audiobook for a long car ride, and I’m very happy I did. The book is performed by Rupert Degas (and he does all the voices). I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have liked the book as well as I did if I hadn’t listened to it.

Twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley’s uncle dies suddenly and leaves her most of his possessions in his will. His death also means she meets one of his old friends, Skulduggery Pleasant, at the funeral and the reading of the will. Skulduggery is rather an odd character. He wears a tailored suit, a long trench coat, a hat, wig, scarf and sunglasses. Turns out he’s a skeleton. He also doesn’t think Stephanie’s Uncle Gordon died of natural causes. Thus begins the investigation into Gordon Edgley’s murder and the introduction of Stephanie into a different side of reality she never knew existed. A world filled with things from living skeletons to vampires to old gods some are trying to bring back.

Derek Landy’s story is filled with humor. This novel would probably fit well under the heading “screwball fantasy.” It also won the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book of the Decade Award and is part of a series. Three of the series have already been released and the fourth is set to be released on April 1.