Saturday, May 21, 2011

This One's For the Girls!

One of my favorite things to do is to browse bookshelves and pick something new.  I've come across several delightful novels with this scientific approach.  This one's for the girls!

Girls by Lori Lansens
Sisters Rose and Ruby Darlen share a particular closeness –as most twins do.  But the Darlen twins are special.  They are conjoined twins, bound together at the head by a spot the size of a bread plate.   Their lives literally depend on one another.  At first the oddity of this arrangement may turn you off – nothing screams circus freak like attached human beings – but the characters are well drawn and immensely likeable.  Rose and Ruby are normal sisters in many ways, with distinct personalities and rivalries.   It's a novel you won't be able to put down or stop thinking about once it's over.
The Wide Smiles of Girls by Jennifer Fenske
Another sister tale!  March and Mae Wallace are nothing alike.  Mae, the dependable older sister, sees the world as a project to be saved. March is happily overweight, confident, and charismatic.   Then an accident changes everything about their lives and their relationships.  The interesting turns and resistance to conventional stereotyping make this a quick and enjoyable read. 
Lucky Girls by Nell Freudenberger
In this short story collection, we follow five young women far from home.  Set in Southeast Asia and on the Indian subcontinent, these expatriates are both attracted to and repelled by the unfamiliar places they live.  Although love is often a component to these tales, the most intriguing relationship is the one between the characters and their adopted country.  A thoughtful, entertaining, and insightful read. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Let's Get Digital, Digital

Please put on your Olivia Newton John aerobic gear and sing along:

Let’s get digital, digital

I wanna get digital

OverDrive really rocks, really rocks

OverDrive really rocks

Clearly I'm no Joni Mitchell (just say a silent hallelujah that you don't have to hear me sing it), but the library's new digital collection is pretty amazing.  We've eBooks and eAudio that work with a variety of devices, including Nook, the Soni reader, MP3 players, iPods, and iPads.  And Kindle friendly fare will be available a little later this year.  Even if you're a Luddite, it's easy to get started: just click on the My Help section for step by step instructions.  Need help?  Check out are FAQs or email us for assistance.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Colleen McCullough is Awesome

Probably everyone in the free world (and beyond) has heard of The Thorn Birds. You may or may not be as familiar with the author, Colleen McCullough. She is, in a word, awesome. Allow me to share a small tidbit of Ms. McCullough's history. She was born in Canada, but her family moved frequently before eventually settling in Australia. A ravenous reader, Ms. McCullough worked as a teacher, librarian, and journalist before beginning her training in medical school. An allergy to surgical soap kept her from becoming a medical doctor, so she focused her studies on nueroscience. It was while Ms. McCollough was researching and teaching in the Nuerology Department at Yale Medical School that she wrote her first two books, including The Thorn Birds. She was then able to devote herself completely to writing (hooray for us) and moved to Norfolk Island where she met and married a man almost fifteen years her junior. More recently, she underwent and survived major brain surgery. It's worth repeating -- Colleen McCullough is awesome.

I've read about half of her published works, but what I'm really into is her Carmine Delmonico series. The first book, On/Off, is simply the best pyschological thriller/mystery that I've ever read. The two novels that follow - Too Many Murders and Naked Cruelty - are equally unpredictable and engrossing. If you haven't already, run to the library and check them out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

NYT Bestsellers

Published: May 15, 2011


THE SIXTH MAN, by David Baldacci. (Grand Central, $27.99.) The lawyer for an alleged serial killer is murdered, and two former Secret Service agents are on the case.
Call #: F BAL

THE LAND OF THE PAINTED CAVES, by Jean M. Auel. (Crown, $30.) The latest volume in a series that began with “The Clan of the Cave Bear,” set during the ice age.

by Stuart Woods. (Putnam, $25.95.) In this Stone Barrington novel, the New York lawyer makes enemies when he represents a widow in the sale of a movie studio.

A TURN IN THE ROAD, by Debbie Macomber. (Mira, $24.95.) A middle-age woman takes a cross-country road trip with her daughter and former mother-in-law.
Call #: F MAC

THE FIFTH WITNESS, by Michael Connelly. (Little, Brown, $27.99.) The
lawyer Mickey Haller represents a woman facing home foreclosure who is accused of killing a banker. Call #: F CON

BORN OF SHADOWS, by Sherrilyn Kenyon. (Grand Central, $21.99.) In the Ichidian universe, a smuggler and a woman warrior must fight together to survive; a League novel.
Call #: F KEN

I'LL WALK ALONE, by Mary Higgins Clark. (Simon & Schuster, $25.99.) A woman haunted by the disappearance of her young son discovers that someone has stolen her identity.
Call #: F CLA

CHASING FIRE, by Nora Roberts. (Putnam, $27.95.) A smoke jumper faces a new season of firefighting in Montana after the loss of her partner.
Call #: F ROB

THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, by Stieg Larsson. (Knopf, $27.95.) The third volume of a trilogy about a Swedish hacker and a journalist.
Call #: F LAR

Back to School with Sweet Valley High!

Sweet Valley twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are back in Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later! If you were a child of the 80s or 90s (or had a tween or teen in the 80s or 90s), then you have at least heard about the Sweet Valley twins, even if you weren't a die-hard, devoted fan. For those of you that missed out, I have the joy of recapping the sisters.

Elizabeth and Jessica are identical twins: "blonde hair, blue-green eyes, perfect size six figures." In typical twin fashion, we've got a good girl and a bad girl. See if you can guess which one is which: Elizabeth bakes cookies for the elderly, rescues cats from trees, and befriends the ugly and unpopular students. Jessica frames her sister for crimes and steals her love interests. There really isn't too much grey area, is there?

Nonetheless, my sister and I devoured the Sweet Valley books - the twins, junior high, and high school editions, natch. We felt a great connection with Elizabeth and Jessica because we were twins, too. Since my sister claimed to more Elizabeth-like, that left me with Jessica. This arrangement suited me just fine, as even at the tender age of eight, it seemed like Jessica had all the fun.

The book itself is a scintillating, sugary concoction of twin drama, secret affairs, and high school updates. Yes, it is silly, but oh so sensational. I don’t think I’m alone here, as Sweet Valley Confidential wound up on the NYT bestseller list as soon as it was released. And the good news: with its apparent success, Ms. Pascal, the creator of the original series who must be worth about 80 billion dollars by now, is considering writing another book. Yes, please, although please leave the bland and boring Todd Wilkens out of it!