Friday, October 23, 2009

Reading Lists - Native American Heritage Month

Historical Fiction:

Arrest Sitting Bull by Douglas C. Jones
It is the 1890s, and the ghost dance—the invocation of the power that will help the Indians destroy the white man—is sweeping through the Dakota reservation. The U.S. government worries about the aging Sitting Bull, who is attracting many fanatical followers. How can peace be maintained when the order is sent that Sitting Bull most be arrested?

Creek Mary’s Blood by Dee Brown
This epic tale of Indian life, written by the author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, follows a single family’s participation in major events: the American Revolution, the Cherokee relocation of the 1830s, and the Battles of Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee. As the family moves from Georgia to the Great Plains, their history mirrors that of a people and a nation.

The Heartsong of Charging Elk by James Welch
Charging Elk is a young Sioux recruited to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. When the show is in Marseilles, he becomes ill and is accidentally left behind. Unable to communicate in French or English, he lives as an outcast in France, reminiscing of his home in the Dakotas. Welch’s literary style complements the heart wrenching narrative.

House Made of Dawn by M. Scott Momaday
In this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Abel is a young Indian who has just returned from World War II. He is caught between the world of his ancestors and the modern white world. Abel is an intriguing character, and his fragmented story is engaging. This densely written, issue-centered story is a beautiful, timeless look at the rift between cultures.

Moon of Bitter Cold by Frederick J. Chiaventone
Red Cloud, a Lakota chief, unites the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Crow to command victory in Red Cloud’s War (1866-1868). Red Cloud, his enemies, his allies, and his country are all vividly painted in this gritty account of the only war that Indians ever won against the U.S.

Mountain Windsong by Robert Conley
This is a love story set during Andrew Jackson’s Indian removal policy, which uprooted the Cherokees from their North Carolina homeland. Oconechee manages to escape the forced removal, but Waguli joins the exodus of the Trail of Tears. The two spend years searching for one another.

People of the Thunder by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Set in the 1300s largely in what is now Alabama and Mississippi, this complex novel tracks three wanderers’ quest to create peace in violent times. The story is loaded with historical detail, court intrigue, colorful characters, and sharp plot twists; however, it is not for the squeamish, as it also contains plenty of blood and gore.

Stone Heart by Diane Glancy
The Shoshone woman Sacajawea narrates this second-person account of the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition. Glancy’s lyrical writing is punctuated with excerpts from the diaries of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. This intimate portrait of a remarkable woman’s physical and spiritual odyssey is worth reading.

Turn the Stars Upside Down by Terry C. Johnston
Recreating the events leading up to the September 5, 1877 death of Crazy Horse, notorious defender of the weak and helpless, Johnston brings the famous Oglala chief dramatically to life. Crazy Horse’s story is compelling and poetically written. "He is a thousand winds that still blow," Johnston writes of Crazy Horse.

Zeke and Ned by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
Zeke Proctor and Ned Christie were Cherokee folk heroes / outlaws of the late 1800s during the Cherokee struggle for independence. These men and their families are realistic, well-drawn characters that dominate this fast-paced, readable novel. Zeke and Ned is a mock-heroic tale of culture shock and sudden death on the western frontier.

Other genres:

Don’t like historical fiction? Read something from a different genre by one of these authors!
Mystery/Suspense - James D. Doss, Margaret Coel
Romance - Kathleen Eagle, Cassie Edwards, Janelle Taylor
General Fiction - Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdich

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Read-alike Guides - Bridget Jones's Diary

If you liked Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding, you might like one of these books:

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
At 14, Bridget Jones was probably a lot like Georgia Nicholson. In her journal, Georgia records a year of side-splitting tales as she tries to reduce the size of her nose, stop her mad cat Angus from terrorizing the neighborhood pets, and win the love of hunky Robbie. Adults will love this YA book, a fun reminder of the light side of being a teen. (YAF Ren)

The Goddess Rules by Clare Naylor
Kate Disney is content with her cramped garage studio and her convenient, part-time boyfriend. Then screen legend Mirabelle Moncur commissions Kate, a painter of animal portraits, to immortalize her pet lion cub, and the two become friends. Mirri teaches Kate how to dress properly, stand up for herself, and enjoy a man's attentions in this light, fun, and authentically touching tale.

The Go-To Girl by Louise Bagshawe
Tired of being overlooked among the glamorous, gorgeous women who surround her, lowly script-reader Anna Brown sets out to turn her life around and win the man of her dreams—Mark Swan, Britain's hottest director. Snappy dialogue, deliciously shallow characters, and unusual plot devices (like an arranged marriage) put a new spin on chick lit.

Highland Fling by Katie Fforde
Taking a business trip to Scotland after a fight with her boyfriend, financial assistant Jenny Porter works to save a troubled textile mill and helps in a variety of local causes. Will feisty, independent Jenny find true love and save the town? Light-hearted and witty, Fforde’s book is perfect for readers who like their chick lit with a Scottish twist.

Jemima J by Jane Green
Plus-sized Jemina Jones struggles with weight, dating, and work issues as she navigates a treacherous world dominated by thinner women. Although the technical detail of online dating is outdated (the book was written in 1999), the results of Jemima’s efforts still ring true. This is a feel-good modern fairy tale—with the apt subtitle ”A Novel of Ugly Ducklings and Swans.”

Original Cyn by Sue Margolis
When a coworker steals her idea for an ad campaign, Cynthia Fishbein, the quintessential good girl, reaches her breaking point, taking the other woman's identity and embarking on a double life. With this unusual twist on the chick lit genre, Margolis includes something for everyone—humor, good dialogue, hot love scenes, and lots of dilemmas.

Simply Divine by Wendy Holden
Jane, a struggling young writer for a popular women's magazine, gets the nightmarish assignment of becoming the ghostwriter for Champagne D'Vyne, a stereotypical socialite. Distractions in Jane’s life complicate the task in this clever, pun-filled book populated with vivid characters. Simply put, it’s simply divine.

Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes
Though most chick lit seems to be London-based, Irish novelist Keyes could be called the founder of the genre. Three women in the fashion magazine industry rely on each other’s support as they try to navigate the fast-paced worlds of love and career. This is a fun read for those who enjoyed the dynamic between Bridget Jones and her friends.

A Tale of Two Sisters by Anna Maxted
Professional differences, new loves, and mistakes threaten to separate two very different sisters—Cassandra, a charismatic, and successful woman caught in a bad marriage, and Lizbet, a plump dreamer striving to succeed as a journalist. Cliff-hanger chapter endings make this a page-turner, while clever plotting and truly interesting characters make the novel stand out in the genre.

Twenty Something by Iain Hollingshead
In this Bridget Jones for lads, 25-year-old Jack is having a quarter-life crisis—he hates his job, he's upset about his receding hairline and expanding waistline, and he's stuck in a disastrous relationship. In his diary, Jack records, as he puts it, why he has become such a "tosspot," and he formulates a plan to free himself from the grindstone. Hollingshead has a flair for comedy and characterization.

Also by Helen Fielding:

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Four weeks after the end of her first diary, Bridget’s honeymoon period with Mark Darcy is over. Bridget is feeling uncomfortable with the realities of sharing bed and board with another person, especially one who votes conservative and folds his boxers before bed. Then there’s Rebecca, a sexy woman intent on stealing Bridget’s man. Poor Bridget seems doomed to singlehood forever!

Cause Celeb
Disillusioned with London's glittering celebrity world, Rosie Richardson escapes to a refugee camp in the African desert, where she is forced to draw on her media savvy to aid the starving victims of a devastating famine. The juxtaposition of chattering socialites and silently suffering refugees in Fielding’s first book creates satire that is both humorous and sobering.

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination
Journalist-turned-spy Olivia Joules finds herself drawn to Pierre Ferramo, a man of impeccable taste and extraordinary wealth, until she begins to worry that he is an international terrorist. Fielding has written another endearing, hilarious heroine in a laugh-out-loud meeting of romance and espionage—a kind of Bridget Jones meets James Bond.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Read-alike Guides - The Runaway Jury

If you liked The Runaway Jury by John Grisham, you might enjoy one of these books:

Absolute Power by David Baldacci
When a wealthy campaign contributor's wife is found murdered, the President of the United States promises to help find the killer—until he is linked to the crime by a cat burglar. Although the reader knows the identity of the guilty party, multiple plots and the mystery of how things will play out create page-turning suspense.

A Certain Justice by John Lescroart
Kevin Shea is an ordinary man who, through no fault of his own, is hounded, hunted, and almost destroyed for a crime he did not commit. Four major homicides create one political and legal nightmare for San Francisco as race relations spiral out of control in the city. This novel about justice and injustice is a shockingly realistic, thoughtful, and exciting thriller.

Dead Even by Brad Meltzer
Husband and wife lawyers Sara and Jared face each other in court, forced into the situation by blackmail and politics. Both have been threatened: win the case or your spouse dies. Sara and Jared’s desperation to protect one another is almost palpable. Two young lawyers pitted against corrupt but powerful enemies is a recipe for exciting danger and heart-stopping suspense.

Final Jeopardy by Linda A. Fairstein
For a twist on the legal thriller, try this series featuring ADA Alex Cooper. In the first, a famous actress is murdered—though Alex may have been the intended victim. Medical details and the investigative role of the District Attorney's office are an added bonus to the legal detail and the great characterization of scrappy, unrelenting Alex.

The Jury by Steve Martini
Paul Madriani defends genetic researcher, Dr. David Crone, who is accused of murdering his assistant. As in many of Martini’s works, investigation plays an important role—actual courtroom drama often takes second place. Readers are sure to become attached to the sympathetic characters of Madriani and his colleagues, underdog lawyers fighting for justice.

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
Operating out of his Lincoln Town Car (hence the moniker “Lincoln Lawyer”), Mickey Haller discovers that there is “no client as scary as an innocent man,” as his late father said. Connelly has written a heart-stopping thriller and an intricate, cynical look into the criminal justice system with a world-weary, funny, and likeable protagonist.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Scottoline
Smart-mouthed attorney Beenie Rosato represents a woman accused of killing a cop in this tale of personal issues and legal corruption. Like Grisham, Scottoline employs sympathetic characters, unexpected twists, and fast pacing, though with a good deal more humor and sarcasm.

New York Dead by Stuart Woods
Detective Stone Barrington hunts for the murderer of a New York newscaster, who fell—or jumped—from her apartment, survived the fall, and disappeared when the ambulance transporting her was hit by a fire truck. While there is suspense, action, and plot twists aplenty, there is more sex and violence than one finds in Grisham.

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
Rusty Sabich is a prosecuting attorney investigating the murder of Carolyn Polhemus, his former lover and a prominent member of his boss's staff. Attempting to cover up his affair with Carolyn to spare his wife, Rusty finds himself accused of the crime. Written at a slower pace than Grisham’s work, this novel is still a compelling, believable novel, told in the first-person by the accused lawyer.

Wild Justice by Phillip Margolin
A serial killer is torturing and murdering people seemingly at random, and there are two prime suspects—a prominent surgeon and his estranged wife. Amanda Jaffe, an inexperienced young attorney, has to figure out which of her clients may be a killer in this clever page-turner. Much more gruesome and grisly than the average legal thriller, this is not for the faint-hearted.

Also by John Grisham:

Ford County: Stories
Grisham writes more than legal thrillers. In his most recent work, he returns to Ford County, Mississippi—the setting of his first novel, A Time to Kill—in a surprising collection of seven short stories. Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters, these stories bring Ford County to life. Hilarious, moving, and entertaining, this collection offers an interesting change of pace for fans of Grisham’s suspense novels.

A Painted House
There are no lawyers here! In this coming-of-age story, 7-year-old Luke lives in the cotton fields with his parents and grandparents in a little house that's never been painted. Inspired by his own childhood in rural Arkansas, Grisham follows one boy's difficult journey from innocence to experience with descriptive prose.

Playing for Pizza
Cut from the Cleveland Browns after the worst performance in the history of the NFL, Rick Dockery, desperate to play football, is hired by the Panthers of Parma, Italy. He finds himself confronted by the confusing diversity of Italian culture, language, and romance. Grisham’s detailed descriptions of Italy and its culture speak of a true love for the country in this whimsical, charming novel.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Read-alike Guides - Dead Until Dark

If you enjoyed Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, you might enjoy one of these books:

Bad Moon Rising by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Were-Hunter Fang Kattalakis is forced to choose sides when war erupts among his lycanthrope brethren, a situation that is further complicated by accusations targeting a woman he loves. Threats against both races could change the world forever. This is the steamiest of paranormal romantic suspense.

Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
When young Tommy Flood meets beautiful Jody on her nocturnal visit to the supermarket, he unwittingly begins an eternal relationship with a vampire. Together they deal with the occasional corpse, suspicious cops, and a nasty old vampire. Oddball characters, clever dialog, and hilarious situations are Moore’s trademarks.

Dark Road Rising by P.N. Elrod
In 1938 Chicago, vampire P.I. and club owner Jack Fleming is playing babysitter to Gabriel Kroun, an unstable mobster (and newly created vampire) with deadly secrets. Dealing with Kroun leaves Jack vulnerable to the return of an old enemy desperate to unlock the secrets of Jack's immortality. Mystery, suspense, vampires, and gangsters—what a combination!

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
Anita Blake is a vampire hunter and necromancer in a time when vampires are protected by law. Now someone's killing innocent vampires, and she agrees to find out who and why. This story is full of energy and humor, as well as appealing characters—dead and alive. Also try A Kiss of Shadows, the first in the Meredith Gentry series.

The Messenger by Jan Burke
Tyler is a Messenger, one who hears the final thoughts of the dying and conveys their messages to their loved ones. His life is solitary until he meets Amanda and grows close to her, unaware that he is being pursued by an old enemy. Charlaine Harris fans will appreciate Amanda's ghostly abilities in this supernatural suspense.

Smoke and Shadows by Tanya Huff
A former ally of private detective Vicki Nelson and vampire Henry Fitzroy, Tony Foster embarks on a new career as a producer of the new TV series Darkest Night, a show about the adventures of a vampire detective. His success is soon threatened by dark forces. This exciting, creepy adventure is a must-read for fantasy mystery enthusiasts.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Meet Harry Dresden, Wizard for Hire. He finds lost items, conducts paranormal investigations, does consulting work, gives advice and charges reasonable rates. Zippy dialogue, fast-moving plots, and likeable characters (such as the cynical, flippant Harry Dresden) are the hallmarks of The Dresden Files, a fantasy mystery series with plenty of humor—and even a touch of romance.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
All hope for stopping the vampiric elite from controlling earth depends on human SOFs (Special Other Forces) and the success of their attempt to recruit Sunshine, the daughter of legendary sorcerer Onyx Blaise. McKinley does suspense with a light touch. Sunshine and her companion Constantine are an enthralling pair of characters.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Young Adult fiction is not just for teenagers! Many supernatural YA series are fun for adults too—start with Twilight. When 17-year-old Bella moves to Forks, Washington, she meets Edward Cullen at school. She feels an overwhelming attraction for him, but she begins to suspect he is not entirely human. Romance with a mysterious love interest and plenty of suspense create a story that even adults can sink their teeth into.

Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson
For humor and vampires, look no further than Davidson’s Undead series. After being killed in a car accident, fashion savvy Betsy Taylor becomes one of the undead. With the help of her newfound friends, the lure of designer shoes, and a sexy vampire, she must destroy a dark enemy and fulfill her destiny as the prophesied vampire queen. This is laugh-out-loud paranormal chick lit at its best.

Also by Charlaine Harris:

Grave Sight
In Harris’s latest series, Harper Connelly is a young woman who possesses a strange gift. She has the ability to uncover the final location of a recently deceased individual and to share their last moments. Aided by her manager and stepbrother Tolliver, Harper uses her skill to find the dead. Harris delivers a nail-biting mystery populated with well-developed, edgy characters. A puzzle toward the end will challenge even the most jaded mystery buffs.

Real Murders
A society of crime buffs discovers a mutilated body in their clubhouse kitchen, and the town librarian suspects a fellow member because the crime resembles the club's "murder of the month.” The small-town Georgia setting, endearing characters, and clever pacing make the Aurora Teagarden series a pleasure to read.

Shakespeare’s Landlord
Lily Bard runs a cleaning business in Shakespeare, Arkansas. One night, she discovers the body of her landlord in a garbage bag, which makes her a suspect. Now she must clear her name. Charlaine Harris has created another amateur sleuth in a small Southern town and given her a colorful and suspenseful mystery series, filled with vigorous and unique characters.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Read-alike Guides - The Notebook

If you liked The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, you might enjoy one of these books:

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
On assignment shooting the covered bridges in Iowa, 52-year-old photographer Robert Kincaid falls in love with Francesca Johnson, a married Iowan woman, during four days of love, magic, and beauty. Like Sparks, Waller tends to focus more on his male lead than the female love interest in this bittersweet tale of lingering memories.

Friendship Cake by Lynne Hinton
Five women, working together to create a church cookbook, share their passions, loves, and losses. As these women share recipes and a love of the Lord, they make a friendship cake to last till the end of their lives. This sincere novel features a North Carolina setting, emphasis on Christian faith and values, and 17 southern-style recipes.

The Last Promise by Richard Paul Evans
Having followed her new husband to his native home in rustic Tuscany, Ellana discovers his chauvinism and philandering. She distracts herself from her marital disappointments by caring for her asthmatic son. She reevaluates her life when she meets American art lover Ross Story. This sweetly sappy story delivers love, heartbreak, and a nearly missed opportunity.

The Last Valentine by James Michael Pratt
In 1944, Caroline Thomas awaits the birth of her child while her husband serves in the Pacific; 50 years later, their son Neil tells their story to a reporter, with whom he falls in love. Through his parents’ legacy, Neil learns about faith and true love. Vivid descriptions and intertwined narratives add depth to this touching novel.

Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
This is “a love story steeped in strength and tenderness, and cast with the most vivid, touching and believable characters,” says Nicholas Sparks. Two years after losing her husband of 25 years, Lisey looks back at the sometimes frightening intimacy that marked their marriage and her husband’s secretive nature that established Lisey's supernatural belief systems.

Love Story by Erich Segal
This is the timeless story about the love and marriage of rich Harvard ice hockey player Oliver Barrett IV and poor Radcliffe music student Jenny Calliveri. In addition to their class differences, the couple must deal with Jenny’s leukemia. Read this with a tissue box nearby. Also try Segal’s Only Love.

Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons
Returning to her family’s cottage after the death of her husband, Lily takes comfort in carrying on detailed conversations with the spirit she believes is in residence. Revisiting the happy times of her marriage and their unconventional courtship also propels Lily further down memory lane. This is an evocative novel about love and loss, complete with a coastal setting and dramatic surprise ending.

A Song I Knew by Heart by Bret Lott
Naomi has lived with her son and his wife Ruth since the death of her husband. When her son is killed in an accident, Naomi and Ruth begin a painful journey of reconciliation and forgiveness. Lott’s rhythmic phrasing echoes the source of his inspiration—the Book of Ruth—and paints a tender portrait of the grieving process.

Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson
Kate Wilkerson has found her perfect man at last. Then he disappears without explanation, leaving behind only a diary for her to read. The diary is written by a new mother for her baby son, Nicholas. Kate attempts to make sense of what she finds in Suzanne’s diary in this bittersweet story about different types of love and loss. Also try Sam’s Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson.

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Raised by a mother who's had five husbands, 18-year-old Remy believes in no-commitment, short-term relationships until she meets Dexter, a rock band musician. This Young Adult novel is about coming to terms with the fact that loving someone requires a leap of faith and that a soft landing is never guaranteed. It should appeal to fans of Sparks’ more recent books about teenagers.

Also by Nicholas Sparks:

A Bend in the Road
Devastated by the death of his wife in a hit-and-run accident, Miles, deputy sheriff of New Bern, NC, discovers new meaning in his life when he meets Sarah Andrews, a woman struggling to rebuild her own life. However, their new relationship is tested when Miles receives a tip about his wife’s death. This novel has a touch of mystery and darker themes than most of Sparks’ work.

The Wedding
In this quasi-sequel to The Notebook, Wilson Lewis has been married to Noah and Allie’s daughter for 30 years. With the preparations for their own daughter's wedding serving as a catalyst, Wilson realizes that the spark has left his relationship with his wife, and he sets out to make his wife fall in love with him again.

Three Weeks with My Brother (with Micah Sparks)
In a memoir written with his brother, Sparks describes how the two of them dealt with their grief over the untimely deaths of their parents and only sister by embarking on a three-week odyssey around the world. Part biography and part spiritual travelogue, this a beautiful story about holding onto faith and family when faced with tragedy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Staff Selections - Jessica, Circulation

What is your favorite genre? I’m a total YA fantasy nerd—if it involves faeries, I’m there!  I love anything that has to do with mythology and fairy tales. Anything FRANCESCA LIA BLOCK writes is gold in my eyes, her books changed my life growing up—I view her as a genre unto herself. I’m also really into MANGA, which is a medium rather than a genre, but there was nowhere else to state my MANGA-FAN-NESS!!

What are you reading now? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, which, as the title suggests, is Pride and Prejudice with added zombie action. I’m also reading Foxmask by Juliet Marillier, a historical fantasy that draws a lot from Norse culture.

What have you read recently? Lament by Maggie Stiefvater, Wings by Aprilynne Pike, the manga We Were There by Yuki Obata, all of which I loved.

What is your favorite classic? Lewis Carroll’s Alice‘s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. There are very few things I adore more than these books.

What is your all time favorite book/series? As far as books go, it’s between the Harry Potter series, The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, The Hitchhiker’s Guide books by Douglas Adams, and the Sevenwaters trilogy by Juliet Marillier.  My favorite manga series are Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba, Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa, Alice 19th by Yu Watase, and Sand Chronicles by Hinako Ashihara.

What are your favorite recommendations? Neverwhere by Nail Gaiman, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You and The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick....I could keep going on and on.