Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

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Left Neglected deals with a little known, but devastating injury. Sarah Nickerson is a 37-year-old, overachieving multitasker with a Harvard MBA and a demanding job as vice-president at a Boston consulting firm. Her husband works at a struggling tech start-up and shares in the upbringing of their three children. Then…a car accident…and a traumatic brain injury that leaves Sarah with left neglect, a lack of awareness of anything to her left, includng the left side of her own body. Sarah struggles parallel those of her 7-year-old son, just diagnosed with ADHD. She comes to a healing of body, mind and finally the acceptance that normal is overrated. Lisa Genova (Still Alice, 2009) once again personalizes an actual disabling brain condition to create moving fiction.

The King’s Speech

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Those of us who are interested in what’s playing at the theater and which movies are Oscar contenders will already know of The King’s Speech, a movie nominated for this year’s Best Picture. Some of you may not know that the book was written by the grandson of Lionel Logue to coincide with the making of the movie and add to discerning the true story. Happily, the movie and book complement each other.

Mark Logue, the co-author, was contacted by Iain Canning, the producer of the film, in June 2009, hoping to make their film as historically accurate as possible. Mark set out to try and discover as much as he could about his grandfather who had died twelve years before he was born. He found a vast treasure of documents, diaries, letters and scrapbooks kept by his grandfather. Additionally, he found an appointment card with his grandfather’s spider-like handwriting, in which he described his first encounter with the future King in his small consulting room. These historical sources told the story of the professional help a commoner gave the Duke of York, future King of England, with his stammering and stuttering. They also served to show an amazing relationship of friendship lasting for decades between the King and Lionel. The book is a non-fiction history of their lives filling in many details about their families, the second World War, and how a commoner introduced a

stuffy royal to the typical Brit’s life.

Both men dearly loved their wives and children and the King was helped and encouraged enormously by his wife, Elizabeth, who found Lionel and pushed her husband to try one more doctor for help. The additional historical facts in this book really color in the story of an outstanding movie. I’ll be cheering it on this Sunday during the Oscars.

Love Letters by Katie Fforde

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In her latest novel, Love Letters, Katie Fforde tells the story of Laura, a young woman in love with books, whose job in a book shop is coming to an end as the shop is closing. A literary agent convinces her to take on the job of organizing a literary festival at an English country estate, and a reluctant Laura is forced into situations that force her outside her comfort zone, allowing her to change and to grow in her confidence in her abilities and judgement. She is asked to recruit a reclusive, best-selling author to participate in the festival, and heads to Ireland to convince him to take part. She makes new friends, learns new skills and falls hopelessly in love with her favorite author. This is a sweet romance with engaging and witty characters, and the transformation of Laura is a pleasure to follow.

Her Mother’s Hope

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Francine Rivers, author of Redeeming Love, one of the classic works of Christian fiction that has held a spot on the Christian Bestseller Association’s top-selling titles, was a romance writer for a decade before encountering Christ and turning to Christian fiction. She has written numerous novels since then with Christian themes and won many accolades and awards.

Her Mother’s Hope is the first of a two part series that is a semi-autobiographical history of her mother’s family covering several generations. A rift between her mother and her grandmother that was never known to be mended was the idea that Francine has explored in the first book of Marta’s Legacy. Many miles of geography are covered as Marta travels from her home in Switzerland, escaping a hard, abusive father, to London where she cares for Lady Daisy, a lonely but loving woman who encourages Marta to do more with life by moving to Canada, a land of promise. Here she meets and marries a devoted man and begins her family. Her first child is a healthy son, Bernhard. Her second, a small daughter, Hildemara Rose, who fights to live. This begins the story of Marta’s struggle to raise Hildemara in a way that will help her be strong and independent. She sees her own weak, late sister in Hildemara and fears her daughter may come to the same end that Elise did. How can efforts to teach and disciple become so complicated that love is hidden? We leave Hildemara and Marta at the end of Her Mother’s Hope at a crossroads. The story continues in Her Daughter’s Dream, now available at Manhattan Public Library.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

> Eleanor Brown has written a wonderfully literate debut novel in The Weird Sisters. Three sisters, Rose (Rosaline), Bean (Bianca), and Cordy (Cordelia), have simultaneously returned to their childhood home in a small college town in Ohio. They move back in with their Shakespearean expert father and absent-minded mother with the professed intent of helping their parents through their mother’s fight with breast cancer. Each sister has actually found that the world wasn’t what she thought it would or should be. Cordy wanders for years and finally heads home when she finds herself pregnant with no wish to tell the father. Bean has been living beyond her means in New York and flees when she is caught embezzling. Rose never left home and continues to care for her family long after it is good for them or for her.

The Weird Sisters is narrated as a creative blend of the voices of the three sisters and provides insight into their relationship with each other and with their parents, making this a great read for fans of women’s fiction. The entire family’s love of books and reading also makes this an appealing read for all bibliophiles, not just those who love all things Shakespeare.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

>This book is one of those that you become part of, it’s as if you have known the story all along. Larry never fitting in with people, has lived his live being made fun of and ridiculed. So, when an opportunity comes up for Larry to prove that he is worthy to be one of them, Larry grabs it. That opportunity turns into a lifetime nightmare. Thirty years later, Larry is still wondering about that night, while the rest of the town “knows” he was the one that was responsible, although nothing was ever proven. When a second event occurs in Larry’s little town, Larry is everyone’s suspect. While recovering in the Hospital, Larry wonders if maybe he did have something to do with the second victims demise. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, is a murder mystery with character development that keeps you thinking even after it’s all said and done.

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne

>William Doyle, an English spy stationed in revolutionary France, finds Marguerite de Fleurignac hiding in the remnants of her burned out chateau. She is the key to completing his mission of finding her father and a list of names of English military men he put together. Marguerite is determined to find her father and reunite with her family after the burning of the chateau, which fits right into William’s plans, so he maneuvers himself into escorting her to Paris. Along the way, Marguerite and William meet with other members of Marguerite’s network, La Fleche, that spirits people condemned to the guillotine out of the country. The two also come to admire each others’ intelligence and cunning in navigating the dangerous world of revolutionary France. Their attraction grows as they near Paris and the increased danger therein during the height of Robespierre’s Great Terror.

Bourne has created a wonderful romance between two strong, charismatic characters in The Forbidden Rose. The backdrop of revolutionary France and the Great Terror adds a sense of urgency and suspense to an already strong plot. The depth and relationships with the secondary characters also increases the appeal of this sensual love story.

Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah Vogts

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“There’s no place like home.” I know all of us Kansans get a bit tired of hearing quotes from the Wizard of Oz, but some of them are just plain true. I read Snow Melts in Spring mostly because it takes place nearby, in the area of the world I love more than any other. It’s set in a small town in the Flint Hills and K-State Vet School makes many appearances.

Mattie Evans is a veterinarian struggling to establish her practice after a series of patients that died of unexplained causes. Her staunchest supporter, John McCray asks her to save his son’s horse after a horrible accident. John’s son Gil has been away in California playing pro football for several years. The news of the accident draws him back home to tend to his horse and face painful memories from his past.

Mattie and Gil work together in the midst of many trials, forging a bond of love and faith that is tested when it is time for him to return to his “normal” life. Vogts tells an inspirational story with a backdrop of beautiful grasses and rolling hills.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

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Romance is in the air in February, and a title that is at the top of many favorite romance book lists is Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. Lord Dain is a rake–abandoned by his mother and unloved by a cold and distant father, the walls around his heart are almost impenetrable. Enter Jessica Trent, an independent, strong-willed woman who is trying to save her weak-willed brother from the bad influences of Lord Dain. Sparks fly between the two –Dain fights his attraction to a “lady”, and Jessica is annoyed that she is attracted to a person she regards as the devil, calling him Lord Beelzebub. The dialog is witty and the characters unique and interesting. Funny and sexy, with poignant scenes as well, Lord of Scoundrels is a gem of a romance novel!

My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space

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The cover art of books can grab my attention and entice me to take a book home or do just the opposite. The robins egg blue cover with the cute chick dressed in his just hatched eggshell called out to me among all the other books on the new non-fiction bookshelves a few days ago. When I saw that the cover belonged to a new book of Lisa Scottoline’s with another funny title, I had to take it home with me.

My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space is her second collection of personal essays that will ring true for many of us. Lisa and her daughter, Francesca, share humorous tales of life as a single mom and newly on-her-own daughter in the big city of New York. Her first book, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, was a romp through the life of Lisa, a best-selling author, lawyer and writer of the column Chick Wit for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In both books we are treated to everyday life in the most amusing way. Francesca shares about her eccentric mom that shares the couch with five dogs, sleeps in her clothes for fun and eats the same three meals on rotation. “To know someone is to know his or her quirks. To love someone is to love those quirks.”

The Best of Kansas

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Celebrate 150 years of Kansas! The State Library of Kansas has created a list of 150 popular books about Kansas. The list has books for any taste, including fiction, Kansas history, art, nature, and memoir. I’m including a small sampling here, but to see more we’ve created an online list that links to our catalog or come in and see the display at the library.

What Kansas Means to Me : Twentieth-Century Writers on the Sunflower State by Thomas Averill is the Kansas Reads selection for 2011. This collection of 20th century writers describes the spiritual consciousness of Kansans. In the preface Averill states, “Many nations, regions, and political entities have distinct cultural identities, and Kansans have been acutely conscious of an identity. . . since territorial days. This book attempts to present some of the best positive thinking about who we are and why.”

The story of a small town football team with phenomenal success inspired a New York Times sportswriter to move to Smith Center, KS for one year to find out what it was all about. Our Boys: a perfect season on the plains with the Smith Center Redmen is the tale of what he found there. He discovered a coach that is just as concerned with his players’ success off the field as on and a town that demonstrates the best of what America’s heartland represents.

For 17 years the people of Small Plains, KS have wondered about the strange happenings connected with the grave of a teenage girl. It’s never been clear what happened the night she died, but Abby Reynolds starts asking questions in an attempt to find the truth. The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard is a novel full of suspense and unexpected plot twists, a memorable read.