Monday, January 17, 2011

Read-alike Guides - The Pilot's Wife

If you liked The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve, you might enjoy one of these books:

Caught in the Light by Robert Goddard
Photographer Ian Jarrett, on assignment in snowy Vienna, meets and falls in love with a mysterious woman—and then she disappears. Edgier than Shreve's writing, this novel still offers similar appeal: strong characters in extreme circumstances, a compelling story of obsession, polished prose, and psychological undercurrents.

Come Sunday by Isla Morey
Abbe Deighton tries to cope after her daughter’s death in an accident. She leaves Hawaii to return to her home in South Africa, where she must examine her relations with people she loves and come to terms with secrets from her past. With beautiful storytelling, Morley’s first novel is stunningly authentic, mature, and full of conviction.

A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne
As an adult, Marsha reflects on the summer of 1972. She was 10 years old, obsessed with the murder of a local boy and her new neighbor, and thought she had found a link. Berne’s first novel is a thought-provoking, character-driven work with seamless narrative structure, an extraordinary sense of lightness and suspense, and a deeply affecting conclusion.

The Deepest Water by Kate Wilhelm
In this haunting, disturbing story, Abby Conners investigates her father's death—and possible murder. The feel of the story, the atmosphere, layers of meaning, and psychological elements all create strong appeal. Abby must re-evaluate all of her safe assumptions about life as she probes for hidden messages in her father's last novel.

The Law of Bound Hearts by Anne LeClaire
Years after a terrible rift separates sisters Libby and Sam, they are forced to come to terms with the event that drove them apart when Libby needs a kidney transplant. What drove them apart, and can they forgive each other? LeClaire is a master of minutiae—from a lover’s touch to the random tenderness children can show to parents.

The Life You Longed For by Maribeth Fischer
Fighting to preserve the life of her mysteriously ill three-year-old son, Grace finds herself accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy and is targeted with suspicion by everyone around her. Like Shreve, Fischer has a knack for crafting a suspenseful plot while exploring deeper familial issues, such as intimacy and grief.

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg
Myra Lipinsky, a 51-year-old visiting nurse, has been content to be a self-appointed spinster—until the man she adored in high school is struck by an incurable brain tumor and returns to New England to die. Berg delivers a bittersweet novel that serves as a gentle reminder to "only connect."

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Picoult offers sensitive portrayals of characters and explorations of life's intimacies in emotional stories with psychological depths. Plain Truth relates the story of a young woman lawyer who escapes to Amish country to rest from her frantic life but finds a case that captures her, as she defends a young Amish girl, accused of murdering her illegitimate child.

Without a Backward Glance by Kate Veitch
Abandoned by their mother on Christmas Eve 1967, the four McDonald children grow up with questions about the past, but as their father progresses into dementia and James encounters their mother again after nearly forty years, old wounds are reopened and individual secrets come to light. Brisk pacing and a compassionate take on human failing make this an absorbing novel.

The World Below by Sue Miller
After being diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1919, a young woman is sent to a sanitarium. where she rediscovers the pleasures of unfettered youth and falls in love with a doomed man. This novel offers the elegant, evocative prose, strong characterizations, and storylines in the past and present that distinguish the work of both Miller and Shreve.

Also by Anita Shreve:

Eden Close
A young man recalls his life-long passion for his neighbor, Eden Close, and his anguish over the tragedy that separated them. Shreve's evocative prose, elegiac voice, and faithful attention to her likable hero's emotions render him believable and give this romance a weight superior to most in the genre. Flashbacks also add to this sensitive exploration as characters struggle to obtain the ever elusive happy ending.

The Weight of Water
A photographer accepts an assignment to document a murder/suicide case from the late 1800s. However, as she is drawn into that story, her own life is about to fall apart in a fashion frighteningly similar to that case. Parallel story lines, layers of meaning embedded into events in both centuries, and secrets hidden and discovered make for a satisfying read.

A Change of Altitude
In a novel of stunning language and striking emotional intensity, Margaret and Patrick have been married just a few months when they set off on a great adventure—a year living in Kenya. Following a horrific accident on Mount Kenya, Margaret struggles to understand what happened there and how these events have transformed her and her marriage, perhaps forever.

Read-alike Guides - U is for Undertow

If you liked U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton, you might enjoy one of these books:

Backhand by Liza Cody
For an English slant, try the Anna Lee Mysteries, featuring another loner P.I. and feminist. Ex-cop Lee, who works for a British security firm, is often involved in more violent cases than Millhone, Here, Lee zips from London to the Florida Keys in search of missing designer clothing, and she teams up with a handsome American at an exclusive tennis club to solve a murder.

Clean Break by Val McDermid
Kate Brannigan, English kick-boxer and Rudyard Kipling fan, is another tough yet funny detective who appears in fast-paced mysteries with snappy dialogue and relatable characters. In this outing, Brannigan chases down art thieves (with possible mob involvement) in Italy while unraveling a nasty case of product tampering in her homeland.

Death at the Wheel by Kate Flora
When smart, independent, sharp-tongued series detective Thea Kozak is introduced to a sweet young widow whose husband died in a horrific accident at a local race track, she becomes sucked into the accident-turned-murder investigation. Flora’s well-drawn characters, snappy dialogue, and breakneck pace will thrill Grafton fans.

Edwin of the Iron Shoes by Marcia Muller
Muller’s series featuring tough and resourceful but vulnerable P.I. Sharon McCone is a must read. They feature a similar hard edge, some humor, investigative details, and more recently, a romantic interest. In the first, Sharon is at odds with the San Francisco Police Dept. but is determined to stay on the case of a murdered small-time antique dealer.

Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky
Fans of gritty, urban detective stories may like Paretsky’s heroine, V. I. Warshawski, though be warned that she writes with a more feminist slant and graphic violence than Grafton does. On V.I.’s first outing, the job she is hired to do puts her up against the worst of Chicago's white-collar criminals in a fight to save an innocent young girl’s life.

Liberty Falling by Nevada Barr
Loner and National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon is posted to parks around the country. In addition to braving the dangers associated with her job, Pigeon must confront her own personal demons, and her tough exterior but inner vulnerability make her a good match for Millhone. In Liberty Falling, Pigeon visits her ill sister and investigates a murder on Ellis Island.

Lie Down with the Devil by Linda Barnes
In her latest outing, Boston private detective Carlotta Carlyle’s life is becoming complicated as she investigates a secret murder indictment against her fiancé, Sam Gianelli, as well as the killing of her most recent client, a nervous bride-to-be. Carlotta is a smart, sassy, fearless witty woman.

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Californian Chandler is the classic precursor to today’s hard-boiled mysteries. Here, series detective Philip Marlowe catches a case involving a war-scarred drunk and his nymphomaniac wife. A psychotic gangster's on his trail, he's in trouble with the cops, and corpses are piling up. This is an evocative look at the glamour and underside of 1950s LA.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
This series, although lighter in tone than Grafton’s, also features a sassy heroine known for her smart-mouth dialogue. In the first title, Stephanie Plum—out of work and money—becomes a bounty hunter, and her first assignment is to track down a former vice cop on the run for murder. Grafton fans will love the outstanding characters and riveting plot.

Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris
Lily Bard has a cleaning business in Shakespeare, Arkansas, One night she discovers the body of her landlord in a garbage bag. An unlikely detective, she sets out to clear her name when she becomes a suspect. Much of the darker tone in this series comes from Lily’s grim past. A colorful cast characters in the form of small town inhabitants should appeal to Grafton’s readers.

Also by Sue Grafton:

A is for Alibi
In the book that started it all, womanizing divorce lawyer Laurence Fife was poisoned and second wife Nikki was convicted. When Nikki gets out of jail, she hires private detective Kinsey Millhone to find the real killer. “A” is for Alibi provides a wonderful introduction to Kinsey, a great series heroine who is tough, funny but not too cute, and liberated but not too loud about it.

O is for Outlaw
More than halfway through the alphabet, Kinsey is haunted by her past when an encounter with her first husband and a mysterious undelivered letter reveal new information about an old unsolved murder. She soon finds herself investigating her ex-husband’s recent and “accidental” death. Grafton adds depth to this outing through unexpected details of Kinsey's past.

Writing Mysteries
In this handbook written by the Mystery Writers of America and edited by Sue Grafton, a veritable who’s who of the mystery writing elite contemplate every aspect of penning a mystery—research, outlines, vivid villains, creating a series hero, characterization, amateur sleuths, convincing dialogue, depiction of violence, specialty genres, overcoming writer’s block, and more!

Read-alike Guides - James Patterson

If you like the mystery and suspense novels of James Patterson, you might enjoy one of these books:

The Big Picture by Douglas Kennedy
Ben Bradford finds his perfect life falling apart when his wife begins having an affair with a neighbor, Gary. Ben kills Gary in a moment of murderous madness and decides to cover up the crime and steal Gary’s identity. Crossing states and states of mind, Kennedy’s original novel will appeal to fans of Patterson’s fast pacing.

The Devil’s Teardrop by Jeff Deaver
Parker Kincaid, retired FBI agent and the country’s top forensic document examiner, pursues an emotionless assassin planning to wreak havoc on D.C. at four-hour intervals until midnight on New Year's Eve. Deaver is a master of plot twists, detection often enhanced by forensic details, menacing atmosphere, psychological overtones, and a nightmare quality.

Fall from Grace by Phillip Clyde
Like the Women’s Murder Club, the Jane Candiotti mysteries are fast-paced, action-filled thrillers featuring women as investigators and set in San Francisco. When a beautiful socialite turns up brutally murdered, Jane throws herself into an investigation that uncovers the sordid secrets of the city's most powerful families, including those of the victim's estranged husband.

Middle of Nowhere by Ridley Pearson
For suspense with more depth, try Ridley Pearson. In this Lou Boldt and Daphne Matthews novel, many of the Seattle police are on a sick-out and Lou realizes that a series of robberies and assaults are somehow connected to the strike. Pearson is a great choice if you like series detectives, bleak outlooks, and psychological implications.

Mortal Fear by Greg Iles
Iles writes more elegantly, but he tells equally complex stories of hard suspense with plot twists, contemporary settings, alternating viewpoints, and graphic violence. Here, a serial killer is targeting customers of an erotic online service, and Harper Cole devises a deadly plan to impersonate his murdered lover online, hoping to lead the killer out into the open.

No Time to Die by Grace F. Edwards
When her close friend becomes the victim of a bizarre murder, Mali Anderson decides to launch her own investigation to find a serial killer, despite the warnings of her police detective boyfriend. Fans of Alex Cross should like grad student Mali Anderson. Like Patterson, Edwards combines first- and third-person narration in her mysteries.

Rules of Prey by John Sandford
For similar hard-edged suspense, with strong language and graphic violence, try the Lucas Davenport series. In the first title, Lieutenant Lucas Davenport is determined to track down a diabolically clever serial killer who leads a double life, carefully picks out his female victims, and taunts the police with notes signed "Maddog."

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritson
Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles team up to head off serial killers in fast-paced, compelling thrillers that fans of the Women's Murder Club might enjoy. In the first series title, a female heart surgeon is terrorized by a serial killer in Boston who has the same MO as a killer who attacked her during her internship years in Savannah.

Tell No One by Harlan Coben
If you’re looking for a page-turner, look no further than Harlan Coben; start with Tell No One. It's been eight years since Dr. David Beck's wife was murdered by a serial killer, and he receives a message containing a phrase only his wife should know. Either someone is playing a sick joke, or his wife is still alive. After being warned to tell no one, Beck sets out in a desperate search which leads him toward a deadly secret.

Vertical Run by Joseph Garber
Enjoying a satisfactory career and life, David Elliot is astounded when his boss tries to shoot him one morning, an event that triggers an inexplicable series of attempts on his life through the next 24 hours. Good thing he's a Vietnam vet with advanced training who handily remembers his hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship, and booby-trap-setting skills. This is a great read with a breakneck pace.

Also by James Patterson:

The Angel Experiment
A group of genetically enhanced kids who can fly and have other unique talents are on the run from part-human, part-wolf predators called Erasers in this exciting science fiction thriller. Crossing the country to save their youngest from scientific sadists and to track down their histories (were they born from parents or test tubes?), Maximum “Max” Ride and her “flock” wind up in New York City's sewers. (YAF Pat)

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X
Fifteen-year-old Daniel's secret abilities have helped him survive. He has followed in his parents' footsteps as the Alien Hunter, exterminating beings on The List of Alien Outlaws on Terra Firma. When he faces his first of the top ten outlaws, the very existence of Earth and another planet are at stake. With signature plot twists and first-person narration, this is a fun superhero narrative. (YAF Pat)

Witch & Wizard
Torn from their parents in a society increasingly controlled by the government, 15-year-old Wisty and her 18-year-old brother Whit are incarcerated in a totalitarian prison where they discover they have incredible supernatural powers. The ruling regime will stop at nothing to suppress life, liberty, music, books, art, magic—and the pursuit of being a normal teenager. (YAF Pat)

Reading Lists - Culinary Memoirs

Culinary memoirs are a branch of food writing in which the personal story of a great chef, struggling home cook, or knowledgeable foodie is explored. Like other food writing, culinary memoirs focus on the importance, preparation, consumption, or meaning of food — often including recipes or other types of suggestions.

52 Loaves by William Alexander
Alexander chronicles his attempts to bake the perfect loaf of bread, including growing, harvesting, and milling his own wheat. During his quest, he attends a kneading conference in Maine, spends time in a French monastery, and goes to Morocco. His bright writing highlights a pleasing variety of comical misadventures. As Alexander sums up, "Bread is life.”

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Best-selling novelist Kingsolver and her family moved from Arizona to Virginia to undertake an experiment. The family joined the locavore movement, which promotes eating only what is locally raised, grown, and produced. Part memoir, part how-to, and part agricultural education, this book is both timely and entertaining, especially for residents of the Southern Appalachian region.

The Apprentice by Jacques Pépin
The popular television cooking show host traces his rise from an intimidated thirteen-year-old apprentice to a famous chef, recounting his work under prestigious teachers, his journey to America, and his experiences with contemporaries. This is a fast-moving, warm, richly written memoir. Pépin’s life is a joy to read about, and not just for his fans.

Born Round by Frank Bruni
New York Times restaurant critic Bruni traces the unlikely path to his profession and offers an honest exploration of his lifelong struggle with food. Although this memoir is often funny, it is also a powerful, book about desire, shame, and self-image. Bruni's painfully honest, tartly humorous life story will also be a hit with anyone who has struggled with the numbers on the scale.

The Cloak and Dagger Cook by Kay Shaw Nelson
In a 1950s spy’s world of secrecy, food makes appealing and harmless conversational fodder. Combining personal memories, travel narrative, and food writing, Nelson shares her life traveling the globe as a CIA operative, gathering recipes, and amassing confidential intelligence in Greece, Italy, Korea, Lebanon, France, Libya, Germany, and beyond.

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Author of the internationally famous blog Orangette, Molly Wizenberg recounts a life with the kitchen at its center. From her mother's pound cake, a staple of summer picnics during her childhood in Oklahoma, to the eggs she cooked for her father during the weeks before his death, food and memories are intimately entwined.

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci
This delectable memoir follows New Yorker Melucci through failed relationships from college to midlife, detailing the recipes she used to reel the men in, sustain the romances, then comfort herself when they fizzled out. Anyone who has wondered, "Will I ever find Mr. Right?" will appreciate this sprightly work.

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
Powell recounts how she escaped the doldrums of an unpromising career by cooking every recipe in Julia Child's 1961 Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a year-long endeavor that transformed her life. Her writing is feisty and unrestrained, especially as she details killing lobsters, tackling marrowbones, and cooking late into the night in an effort to eat well and enjoy life.

My Life in France by Julia Child
Here is the captivating story of Julia Child's years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found "her true calling." Filled with her husband's beautiful black-and-white photographs as well as family snapshots, this memoir is laced with wonderful stories about the French character, particularly in the world of food, and the way of life that Julia embraced wholeheartedly. Bon appétit!

Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch
Damrosch, former waiter at the four-star New York City restaurant Per Se, details her career as a waiter, describing the intimate workings of restaurant table service at its best. Tales of critics and celebrities spice up the memoir with a few tips on how to earn a waiter's respect sprinkled throughout. Her romance with the sommelier completes this youthful, exuberant memoir.

The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof
While sailing the Caribbean, the author tracks goats in the hills of the Dominican Republic, gathers nutmegs in Grenada, makes searing-hot pepper sauce in Trinidad, crams for a chocolate-tasting test at the University of the West Indies, and sips moonshine straight out of hidden back-country stills. Add great people, island traditions, and breezy, evocative prose, and this is a must-read.

Stuffed by Patricia Volk
Volk explores the lives of her Austrian-Jewish-American family, including profiles of her father, a restaurateur and inventor, and her grandmother, who won the 1916 trophy for "Best Legs in Atlantic City." The larger-than-life members of Volk’s New York restaurant family leap off the pages of her stylishly written memoir. In a restaurant family, "you're never full, you're stuffed,"

Whatchagot Stew by Patrick McManus
In a fond, frequently hilarious recollection of his Depression-era childhood in Idaho, humorist McManus introduces a cast of characters whose recipes are found in the volume's second half. His memoir includes dozens of down-home recipes from his mother and grandmother, outdoorsmen pals, other friends, and his coauthor sister.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Staff Selections - Joan 2, Reference

What is your favorite genre? Fantasy and sci-fi. That's all I read for many years. The longer the series, the better! When working in the library, I started branching out. Now I read a little of everything! My favorite discovery is the Young Adult section. My best advice is not to be afraid to explore the Children's side of the library!

Who are your favorite authors? Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, Juliet Marillier, Jennifer Fallon, Kathy Reichs, Dean Koontz, Charlaine Harris, Kate Morton, Mercedes Lackey, Sara Douglas, Lisa Lutz, and Alice Hoffman (especially her Young Adult novels).

What are you reading now? Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson and Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier.

What have you read recently? Coronets and Steel by Sherwood Smith, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, Miss Julia Speaks her Mind by Ann B. Smith, Fallen by Lauren Kate, and The Demon’s Parchment by Jeri Westerson.

What is your favorite classic? Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers series and The Count of Monte Cristo. Ah, Aramis and Edmond Dantés, my first loves!

What is your all time favorite series? I have been reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series since the first book, Eye of the World, was published in 1990. Over the decades I actually worried that either Jordan or I would die before he finished! He passed away several years ago after the eleventh book. Brandon Sanderson was selected to complete the series, which will total fourteen. I just completed Towers of Midnight, number thirteen, and loved it! Odd Thomas is a series of books by Dean Koontz—part thriller, part paranormal, part humor, all great. Charlaine Harris has many great series; I love her Harper Connelly series, which starts with Grave Sight.

What is your all time favorite book? That’s a tough question, I hate to leave anybody out! Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell, Illumination by Terry McGarry, and A Man Rides Through by Stephen R. Donaldson. I have to include The Wayfarer Redemption series by Sara Douglass, even though we do not have the entire series in our collection. I’ll have to work on that, because it is awesome!

What are your favorite recommendations? The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (a quirky, funny mystery series), Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, One Second After by William Forstchen, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, Becoming Finola by Suzanne Strempek Shea, The Heroines by Eileen Favorite, The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss (because everyone should have at least one romance novel!), The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, The Wolfblade Trilogy by Jennifer Fallon, Holder of Lightning by S.L. Farrell, The Runelords by David Farland.  I love the Young Adult section. It is full of talented authors that offer a somewhat quicker, easier read—but do not confuse “quick and easy” with “childish!” Here are some of my favorites: Skinned by Robin Wasserman, Trickster’s Choice by Tamara Pierce, The Fetch by Chris Humphreys, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, The Maximum Ride series by James Patterson, The White Cat by Holly Black, Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. A great non-fiction book, the only one I’ve ever read cover to cover, is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The 5-Minute Face: the Quick and Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy is another good one. My last recommendation, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, is important because it made me laugh out loud! I would never, ever have read it if my friend hadn’t suggested it.  That’s why I love my B.L.U. Tuesdays book club so much — it’s all about the recommendations!