The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins

>Everyone knows that life gets better after high school. High schools are usually dominated by cliques and students pick on and make fun of their peers if they are viewed as abnormal. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth addresses the ways in which students torment each other, the psychological reasoning behind the formation of cliques, and the ways the American (and other Western) school system encourages students to harass other students who are not “normal.”

Alexandra Robbins follows seven young people in the public school system in different schools across the country. She follows: “The Loner,” “The Popular Bitch,” “The Nerd,” “The New Girl,” “The Gamer,” “The Weird Girl, ” and “The Band Geek.” Each stands out in a different way as an interesting person who is unable to thrive in a high school environment due to discrimination, bullying, preconceived notions held by others that made them feel like they had no power to change their social status, and their own convictions that others are right that social status is unchangeable. Robbins effectively demonstrates that the things that set apart the students who occupy the fringe in high school are the things that will help them thrive when they leave high school. Robbins also includes interviews with psychologists, counselors, teachers and students from a variety of school settings across the country.

This is an encouraging book for students who are unique and have interests that aren’t widely held. Robbins ends by making suggestions for how parents can encourage their children to be individuals and thrive in high school. She also makes suggestions for teachers and administrators about how they can create more welcoming atmospheres in their schools and encourage creativity and individuality.

Waiting for Evanovich

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Rangeman or Morelli, that is the question. In case you missed it, Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich is finally here and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. If you’ve spent a year waiting impatiently for the next installment and know you’ll soon be waiting again, here are a few titles that may help tide you over.

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie

Agnes is trying to get her food column done and the catering prepared for a Southern mob wedding when her bloodhound becomes the target of a masked intruder. With only a skillet and a mysterious hitman sent by a friend to protect her, Agnes faces florists, mobsters, and flamingoes.

Devil’s Food by Anthony Bruno

Has-been parole officer Loretta Kovacs is sent after a skip in Florida with her new partner, Frank Marvelli. They find their target at a fat farm swarming with bikers and feds. This winner is packed with humor and great dialogue.

Body Movers by Stephanie Bond

Carlotta Wren’s life changes from pampered princess to salesclerk when her parents skip the country to avoid prosecution for a white collar crime. Her trouble-prone brother gets a job as a body mover, someone who removes corpses. When his next assignment turns out to be the body of one of Carlotta’s enemies, Detective Jack Terry is determined to find out if she’s guilty even while he’s annoyed at his growing attraction for her.

Summer Romance

>For me, summer means relaxing on the patio with iced tea and a good “escape” book—one that is fun and takes me to a whole different world. I usually enjoy romance novels as my escape reading, and two titles that are filled with humor and fascinating characters are:

Nowhere Near Respectable by Mary Jo Putney Both of the main characters have an obstacles to overcome—Lady Kiri Lawford is of mixed blood London society looks down upon her heritage, despite the fact that she is the daughter of a Duke. Damian Mackenzie is the illegitimate brother of a Baron and the owner of a gambling establishment– who also works as a spy. Damien rescues Kiri from smugglers and they embark on a mission to expose the network responsible for attacks on the royal family. Both characters use their intelligence and resourcefulness in their hunt for the conspirators. Kiri is an unconventional heroine and both main characters are interesting and believable. Putney has created a memorable and enjoyable regency romance.

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn differs from many romances in that the main characters have known each other since childhood. Honoria has grown up in a large family that included her brother’s friend Marcus in many of it’s activities. They have grown apart and Honoria is attending ton events, on the lookout for a suitable husband. She and Marcus meet again and over time, they come to realize that they are meant to be together. This is a sweet, touching story with humor, charm and characters you will care about—a delightful romance!

Salting Roses by Lorelle Marinello

>Gracie Lynne Calloway did not like rich people. As she grew up in Shady Grove, Alabama, she was made fun of because she didn’t have a father and her mother left her on Ben’s porch in a coal bucket. She wanted her mother to come back and love her, but she was happy living with Uncle Ben and Uncle Artie. She was the best baseball player in town and proud of the fact that she didn’t own a dress, much to Auntie Alice’s dismay. Life was great up until her 25th birthday when Sam Fontana, a young lawyer, came to Shady Grove. He came to inform Gracie that she was really Kathryn Hammond, kidnapped daughter of a wealthy financier. Gracie wanted nothing to do with her new identity or the six hundred and fifty million dollar inheritance left in her name. Relatives come seeking her, some sincere others conniving. Should she refuse the inheritance she believes will ruin her life and the lives of those she loves? Salting Roses, a romance mystery with interesting characters and a well developed plot, is a great porch swing and iced tea read.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard

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The Kansas Notable Books List came out recently. It is an annual recognition of 15 books either written by Kansas authors or books about Kansas. I have just finished reading one of the selected books, The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard. Not only is the book set in a small fictional Kansas town, but Nancy is a Kansan stating that she has lived here over half of her life having moved here from Missouri.
Jody Linder’s father was murdered over twenty years ago and her mother disappeared on the same night. Now her father’s killer is being released from prison and is returning to the small town of Rose and Jody is terrified. Her three uncles begin to explain how evidence might have been withheld and how the murderer’s son, a lawyer, had the conviction overturned. The wealthy, but close ranching family that Jody is part of vows to protect Jody and run the murderer out of town. An intriguing tale, try this one by Nancy Pickard or one of the other Notable Books.

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In Stevens’s debut novel, The Informationist, Vanessa Munroe’s current case might be her last. Having spent her life distancing herself from her sordid childhood in Africa, Munroe has based her career on the skills she acquired there. She is an informationist and linguist with the ability to blend into any country and obtain the knowledge sought by her high-paying clients. Her current client is a distraught father whose daughter, Emily, vanished four years ago in Africa. After Emily’s safari group finished its tour, she decided to travel more with two men she met on the tour. Of the three, only one returned. Emily disappeared and the last man who saw her now resides in a mental institution. Munroe is intrigued by what previous investigators might have missed, but she is not prepared for what awaits her in Africa.” Library Journal. Monroe is a model of emerging action women, not unlike the heroine in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

How Sweet it Is by Sophie Gunn

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Lizzie Carpenter is a single mother of a teen-aged daughter, working as a waitress in the town where she grew up. She and Paige are making the best of their lives when she hears from Paige’s father for the first time in 15 years, throwing them both into emotional turmoil. Dante Giovanni comes to town–a stranger weighed down by an incident in his past that has changed his life in every way. Tay and Lizzie are attracted to each other, but both have fears and obstacles to overcome before they can build a lasting relationship. This is a sweet romance with memorable characters, a touching plot and lots of humor–if you enjoy remance fiction, you will find How Sweet it Is an enjoyable summer read!!!

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

>The world has been changing rapidly for the last couple decades. Home computers and home internet access have taken off. Communication has become faster, people are sharing their information and talking more online. This shift in the way we communicate with each other is also changing the way we communicate with brands and local companies and retailers. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk is a book written for business people about how to leverage the social internet to grow business and interact with customers online.

Vaynerchuk is the owner of a wine store called Wine Library, located in New Jersey. He jumped on board the e-commerce bandwagon early and has continued leveraging new ways to interact with customers (such as Facebook and twitter) as they have come along. Vaynerchuk uses examples from his own experience in social media as a businessperson and social media consultant, as well as examples of other small and large businesses that have successfully and not-quit-so-successfully used social media to interact with customers.

Vaynerchuk’s thesis is that the economy is changing because of social media and the conversations it allows between consumers. When a person has a bad interaction with a company, they can now tell 300 of their closest friends instantly. The same thing is true of an excellent interaction. The Thank You Economy tells businesses to sit up and take notice, because it’s those businesses that adapt to this new environment quickly that will be able to reap the benefits of the Thank You Economy.

I originally heard about this book on NPR and decided to pick it up because I’m interested in the use of social media by organizations. Read the All Things Considered story. Not only is this an interesting read with regards to businesses and social media, it’s also an interesting perspective on how social media is changing the way businesses must treat customers to thrive in a new economy where customers can instantly broadcast their good and bad interactions with a company.

Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton

>Chloe Hobbs doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. She lives in and owns a knitting shop in the small town of Sugar Maple, Vermont, a town populated by fairies, vampires, werewolves and the like, she is the daughter of a sorceress, but she is the only human resident of Sugar Maple. Chloe comes from a long line of sorceresses who have protected the town from prying eyes and kept the peace in town for hundreds of years. The fact that Chloe is completely human is a big problem because the protection spells on the town are starting to fade and the town’s first homicide brings scrutiny and a police officer, Luke MacKenzie, sent to investigate the crime.

Sparks start to fly between Chloe and Luke (literally) as Chloe’s powers start to appear. The arrival of her powers isn’t necessarily the welcome event she thought it would be, though. A power-hungry town resident wants the book the women of Chloe’s family pass down from mother to daughter, and she is willing to do just about anything to get it. Casting Spells will pull you in with an exciting mystery, quirky romance and unique mixture of knitting story with urban fantasy.

A Bit of Western Romance

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Although I’ve been an urban dweller for awhile now, I was raised in a rodeo town, so I must confess that Wranglers and cowboy boots still make my heart flutter. In honor of Country Stampede, I would like to share a few of my favorite cowboy romances with you. Whether you enjoy them in a lawn chair waiting for the show to start or curled up in the comfort of air conditioning, they are sure to inspire both sighs and an urge to do some boot-scooting.

My Give a Damn’s Busted by Carolyn Brown
Larissa is the happy owner of a thriving small-town honky tonk when Hank Wells walks up to her bar. He tells her he’s helping his dad on a near-by ranch, but that’s not the entire story. Sparks fly but his hidden agenda will damper them right quick.

Montana Legacy
by R.C. Ryan
Jessie McCord is less than enthusiastic to welcome home his two estranged cousins for his grandfather’s funeral. He’s the one who stayed behind to do all the work on the family ranch and their lively banter is not appreciated. The situation is worsened when the girl who broke his heart as a teenager comes back to town. This story about family and love with a dash of suspense is sure to warm the heart.

Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman
This one will take you back to the old west. Rachel Bailey escapes to a small Colorado mining town for refuge only to find out that her benefactor has manipulated her into a choice between marrying a virtual stranger or threatening the livelihood of the entire town. You know where the story leads from here, but Goodman will surprise you with complex characters and an engaging plot.

Cold Wind by C.J. Box

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In Cold Wind, Box’s searing 11th Joe Pickett novel, Joe’s mother-in-law, Missy, is accused of murdering her latest husband–there’s a part of him that can’t believe his good luck. The social-climbing harpy has had it in for him for years–but he can hardly believe she is guilty. Could a petite woman in her mid-sixties really hoist a body to the top of a wind turbine and chain it to a spinning blade? And what’s her motive anyway? Simultaneously, an old enemy ambushes Joe’s outlaw colleague, Nate Romanowski, and his lover. Nate’s grief-driven hunt for revenge adds mealty action to this multi-stranded tale.

Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready

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Ciara Griffin, a con artist trying to go straight, gets a job as a publicist for a radio station. The DJs are all somewhat strange, appearing to be stuck in a particular era and tending to only appear at night. She tries to increase listeners by changing the call letters to WVMP and playing up a vampire theme, but that backfires when some listeners make it clear that they know she isn’t joking. Soon she is becoming more informed about the vampire world than anyone would wish to be, and her protector, grunge-era DJ Shane, may not be able to save her. Wicked Game contains some of the gore and suspense that one expects from an urban fantasy novel, but with a light and humorous twist.