Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Reading

The title of this post may be a bit misinformed, since I tend to read an eclectic mix of things, but I wanted to share the three books I read while the library was closed for the holidays. After all the bustle was done, I was too tired to do anything but read!

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer - This is a nonfiction Advanced Reader copy I received from the publisher. I've read a number of books on neuroscience and decision making, but there were several insights in this book I hadn't come across before. I won't ruin it since the discovery is part of the process. I read this just after Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, another fantastic book, and the two topics dovetailed nicely. This book comes out February 9th, 2009 and I highly recommend it. Place your reserve now!

The Presidential Book of Lists by Ian Randal Strock - As some of you know, I'm studying for a potential appearance on Jeopardy!. This was an engaging book of facts I did not know about the presidents. I learned that Woodrow Wilson is the only president buried in the nation's capital, among many other things. There was quite a bit of repetition, which might not be interesting to the curious, but for me it was good because the facts are now ingrained!

Shakespeare and Modern Culture by Marjorie Garber - I read the entirety of this 300+ page book on Christmas night. I love Shakespeare, and I love to be immersed in the plays and their criticism. This book by a Harvard professor was well-written, and again, I learned many things I did not know. If you have not read the plays, the book will not make a lot of sense (I found myself referring to my Riverside Shakespeare a few times). But for a fan like me, it was a lot of fun. Yes, I know I am a nerd.

Monday, December 22, 2008

In the Woods by Tana French

This is a debut mystery novel that takes place in Ireland. The main detective, Rob Ryan, is working the murder of a teenage girl from his hometown, Knocknaree, with his female partner and best friend, Cassie. Rob had 2 friends growing up in Knocknaree who disappeared. The earlier case plays into the present case. Rob is Ryan's middle name and he does not reveal his identity to his superiors but Cassie knows who he is. Cassie has a past that helps her figure out people's true selves. This is a well-written, literary book. It completely drew me in. I highly recommend it and I can't wait to get to her second book which I hear is equally excellent.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The #1 Ladies Detective Agency

by Alexander McCall Smith; narrated by Lisette Lecat

Wonderful audiobook! I am starting my New's Resolution early - to read at least one book in as many popular series as possible. I thoroughly enjoyed this book on audio.

Set in Africa, Mma Ramotswe (pronounced ma ra-moat-sway) is a the only female detective in Bostwana. The first in the series, it tells the story of Mma Ramotswe and how she started the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Her cases range from finding out if a husband is cheating to finding the witch doctor who may be responsible for the disappearance (and perhaps murder) of an innocent boy. The story is charming, with small cases popping up intermittently enough to leave you satisfied, but with larger, more dangerous cases boiling in the background. Mma Ramotswe's character is very likable from her hefty frame and her good sense of humor to her knack for solving the most complex cases.

Great short read, if you are planning on registering for the 50 Book Challenge! Contact the reference desk for more details at 330-425-4268 ext 2.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just After Sunset: Stories

I admit that I have never read any of Stephen King's fiction until now. I guess I've either been too scared or not certain that his work would be as good as his nonfiction and essays (which I read in Entertainment Weekly). But the descriptions of the stories in Just After Sunset intrigued me, so I brought it home. I tore through the stories, finishing the book in two nights. I was deeply disturbed by one story in particular ("N"), which I'm still thinking about. I might have to go back and catch up on King's oeuvre, although I would imagine it's going to take a long time since he's so prolific.

Beautiful Lies

I ran across this title by Lisa Unger on Shelfari. One of the groups I'm in mentioned this author as an excellent suspense writer, and when I picked up the book, I noticed that it had glowing reviews from Lee Child and Lisa Gardner. Indeed, it was very well-written, and I'm going to pick up the author's next book as well (she has two others out right now). But it wasn't very suspenseful--at least, it didn't feel like a nail-biter. There were a lot of secrets concealed from the reader, so it was more like a puzzle and an emotional story than anything. Probably better for those who like lighter thrillers.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Angel of Knowlton Park by Kate Clark Flora

This is the first in a mystery series starring Joe Burgess, a cop in Portland, Maine. I lived in Portland for eight years and thought it would be fun to read a book taking place there. This is a gritty mystery involving the death of a child, drug dealers and pedophiles. It's not for everyone. I liked it enough that I'll read the next in the series. I have a feeling that the books will get better as Flora gets comfortable with Joe.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Babyproofing Your Marriage:

How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows
by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone

Of all the baby preparation books out there, I highly recommend this book, which deals with all of the unanticipated chaos that a baby brings into your life. When a couple decides to have children, they may prepare themselves by reading up on all the latest childcare manuals and baby name books, but one area that some couples overlook is their marriage. According to the book, over 70% of couples who had children said that their satisfaction with their marriage had significantly declined over the first two years.

This book helps you learn how to adapt to the new role of parent, as well as keeping up the satisfaction with your marriage with special sections devoted to moms and dads. You will learn the downside of "keeping score" when it comes to chores and family responsibilities. Other sections help you deal with the onslaught of well-meaning relatives, how to deal with multiple children, and much more.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly

I am a huge Michael Connelly fan. Some of his recent Harry Bosch books have been kind of formulaic but I loved The Lincoln Lawyer, about Mickey Haller, the L.A. lawyer whose office is in the back of his car (a Lincoln). This car is chauffered by a client who couldn't pay his bill and needed a job. His ex-wife does his books and general office work out of her home. Wrap this around a suspenseful mystery and it was a great book.

The Brass Verdict brings back Mickey. He has had a hard time and was not practicing law for a while. A colleague has been murdered and has chosen Mickey as his replacement for his practice. Mickey's life seems to be in danger for the same reason his colleague was killed. Harry Bosch is the detective who is working on the case and protecting Mickey. Harry is more of a presence than a fully fleshed-out character in this book. The book is about Mickey but I'm sure this connection will surface in future books. It was very good.

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

This is an unusual mystery. It takes place in 1860s Canada. This is a multilayered book. There are several themes running through the book and subplots besides the main mystery. I did this in a bookgroup and some people thought there were too many characters and didn't understand the purpose of certain story threads. Several people loved the book however, and I did too. The story engrossed me from the first paragraph. The snowy, desolate landscape added to the sense of mystery.