Monday, August 18, 2014

Books with surpises

The books I enjoy most are those with hidden plot twists, books with unexpected endings, or books that surprise readers in any number of ways.  The books recommended here are either explorations of new genres for their writers, familiar characters acting in new and different ways, or are books where reality is turned inside out.  These books may appeal to you too.

Lisa Scottoline’s latest book, Accused, is her 12th featuring Rosato & Associates, a dynamic all-female  law firm set in Philadelphia, PA.  Recently promoted to partner, Mary DiNunzio is approached by thirteen-year-old Allegra Gardner whose older sister, Fiona, had been murdered six years earlier. Allegra doesn’t believe the man jailed for Fiona’s death, Lonnie Stall, is guilty of the crime, even though he’s confessed to the murder and was seen fleeing the scene covered in blood.  As DiNunzio works to uncover the truth, Allegra’s parents block the investigation at every turn, making this case the firm’s most dangerous one yet.

Although Stephen King has written bestselling novels in many genres, his latest book, Mr. Mercedes is the first detective thriller he’s ever written.  In it Detective Bill Hodges comes out of retirement to respond to a taunting letter from the crazed driver of a Mercedes that ran over job seekers waiting in line outside a job fair, killing eight and wounding fifteen.  The driver, Brady Hartfield, intends more mayhem, so it’s up to Detective Hodges, his 17-year-old neighbor and a victim’s sister to find clues in Brady’s computer records before he can kill more innocent people.
Australian author Liane Moriarty’s fifth novel The Husband’s Secret, entangles the lives of Cecilia Fitzpatrick, Tess O’Leary, her son Liam, and Rachel Crowley at St. Angela’s Primary School in Sydney where Liam is enrolled.   The school’s secretary, Rachel, is convinced that St. Angela’s PE teacher, Tess’s old boyfriend, Connor Whitby, is the man who got away with murdering Rachel’s daughter thirty years earlier.  In the meantime, Cecilia has opened a letter from her husband that should have remained sealed until his death, turning her perfectly ordered life upside down.  A page turner of a book, the challenging plot engages its characters and its readers fully.

Another fifth novel, this time by Michael Connelly, called The Gods of Guilt, is a book that returns to the

courtroom skills of defense attorney Mickey Haller.  Known as “the Lincoln lawyer” because he works out of his Lincoln Town car, Haller has accepted the case of Andre Le Cosse, a computer expert charged with the murder of a prostitute.  Haller thought he’d rescued the victim, Giselle Dallinger, from her life in prostitution, but soon learns she’d returned to her former profession shortly before her death.  As Haller and his associates work to find a plausible alternate motive for the crime, Haller finds he must look inward to confront inner gods of guilt in order to win this case.

Fans everywhere can rejoice now that the newest installment in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series has been published.  The book is called Written in My Own Heart’s Blood and it continues the bestselling saga of Claire Randall and her time-traveling clan.  Claire is an English ex-military nurse who first disappears from the Scottish Highlands in 1946 when she steps into a stone circle and re-emerges in the year 1743.  Gabaldon’s current book is set in 1778, a time when France has declared war on Great Britain and George Washington is chasing British troops out of Valley Forge.  Claire’s husband, Jamie Fraser, has returned from his presumed death to discover his family is in utter disarray.  The only bright spot is the Frasers believe their daughter Brianna and her family are safe in twentieth-century Scotland.  They are sadly mistaken.  Brianna’s son has been kidnapped by a man who wishes to learn her family’s secrets and Brianna’s husband Roger has traveled into the past to find him.  In reality the boy is still in the twentieth century and it is Brianna herself who is the kidnapper’s intended target.
By Lisa Shirtz, Reference Department

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gardening solutions

Extreme low temperatures this winter delayed warming of the soil this spring and cooler than average early summer temperatures have made this a very challenging garden year. Spring vegetable harvests are finally coming on strong and perennial flower gardens are staying fresh longer with the ample rainfall. Tomato plants, on the other hand, are reluctant to flower and heat loving peppers and squash are just limping along. 

Peter White Public Library’s new nonfiction book collection on the library’s main floor can help provide some solutions to your fickle garden problems this season.
Mid-summer is the perfect time of year to gear up for another, possibly challenging, winter season ahead. Backyard Winter Gardening by Caleb Warnock is packed full of ideas of how to beat old Man Winter in the gardening game by selecting the right seeds and using cold frames, cloches, and hotbeds- without using electricity for heat or lights- as gardeners have been doing for centuries. Now is the time to start fall crops for harvest into the winter months using these tried and true organic and energy efficient practices. Find this book under call number 635 WA
A great companion to the previous title is The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects by Spike Carlsen. This how-to guide covers projects ranging from season extenders like cold frames and greenhouses to storage sheds, trellises, garden furniture, garden aids, storage systems for putting food up and shelters for your backyard menagerie including the “Chicken Ark.” Clear drawings, materials lists and cutting guides simplify construction of these projects for all skill levels and time commitments. 690.892 CA
When the bountiful harvest does come in and you are scratching your head wondering what to do with that bumper crop, The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman is for you. Part cookbook, part growing manual, this book takes the gardener from seed to table with plenty of sensible gardening tips and mouthwatering recipes, all beautifully illustrated with photographs, drawings, planting charts, and an extensive index. 635 DA
If your garden is under control, take a break with a spot of tea, sit in the shade and enjoy Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell. The creator of the beloved Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and Jemima Puddleduck characters in children’s books had a life-long fascination with ecology. Part biography, part nature guide, the author takes the readers on a beautifully illustrated tour of Potter’s beloved English countryside through rich photographs and the drawings of the children’s author/illustrator herself. 921 PO
For an enlightening read in the shade, English gardener turned chimpanzee researcher, Jane Goodall shares her passion for the plant world in her newest book, Seeds of Hope co-written by Gail Hudson. Goodall explores our ancient dependence on the plant world for food and medicine and how plants can help heal the environment through sustainable gardening practices. Tireless scientist, naturalist and goodwill ambassador, Goodall shares her passion and hope for the future of our planet. 580 GO
Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier is an amusing and informative read about the adventures of two self-proclaimed “plant geeks” who venture into the world of urban permaculture gardening. The author and friend Jonathan Bates purchase one-tenth of an acre in Holyoke, Massachusetts and accept the challenge to create a food forest paradise of 200 low maintenance edible plants in a rust belt city lot. The book details their journey through the world of composting, pest and weed control, urban poultry and tropical crops on less than a quarter acre. 635.091 TO
Exploring the Zen of gardening, Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening, a memoir by essayist Carol Wall, details the evolution of the author’s unlikely friendship with her gardener and impromptu horticulture instructor. Wall recounts how learning to appreciate the joy of earning a green thumb opened her to new relationships and understandings during life’s most trying times. An easy and engrossing read, find it under call number 635 WA
Finally, for quick reads, the library subscribes to several gardening magazines that provide monthly or quarterly insights into what’s new in the world of plants. In the magazine room find current and back issues of Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Organic Gardening, and Better Homes and Gardens. Back issues can be checked to read at home. For those with electronic devices, many more magazines are available online in digital format through the library’s website,, by clicking on the Zinio link on the home page. Take a look at Canadian Gardening for cold season tips and Successful Farming for agrarian wannabes. No charge for this great service!

Read on and happy gardening! 

Margaret Boyle, Programming Coordinator

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sparrow Migrations

Several co-workers here at the library encouraged me to read Sparrow Migrations by Traverse City author, Cari Noga; the author is coming here to give a talk and the novel features an autistic character, and my co-workers all know I am put more holds on books about autism than anyone else who works here.  Truth be told, I don't always like autism books, but I liked this book.  Sparrow Migrations is a book about people in general and just happens to include amongst the many strong characters in this novel one who has autism.  There are three main story lines that are connected by all started at the same time and place as the "Miracle on the Hudson" emergency plane landing, back in late 2009.  None of the characters are hurt in the crash, but each of their lives, like the plane, changes course.

Cari Noga will be here for an informal book discussion on Monday, July 14 at 6:30 in the Community Room.  Local musician Michael Waite will also be on hand, performing acoustic music.

--Ellen, Reference Department

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Two new books for sci-fi and fantasy readers

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is the  first book of a new fantasy series that will by enjoyed by fans of Cornelia Funk and Lewis Carrol.  It’s aimed toward a middle-school audience but older readers and adults will enjoy it as well. As the story opens, the main character, suddenly orphaned Alice, goes to live with her never-heard of uncle.  This uncle’s only instruction is to not enter the enormous library on the grounds. What follows is a wild adventure with snarky talking cats, inscrutable scruffy boys, strange creatures and a newly discovered power that turns books into dangerous gateways.  Soon Alice is fighting for her life. Readers will cheer along with Alice as she follows her intuition and becomes a strong, clever and curious heroine.  The ending will have you eagerly awaiting the second book.

Good space-travel science fiction for teens is hard to find, but Tin Star hits the mark. Cecil Castelluci’s biggest strength is his ability to create characters with immense depth. The main character, 14 year-old Tula, has strength, gritty gumption and an infinite determination to survive.  She and her family leave earth to colonize a new planet, led by the charismatic cult-like leader Brother Blue.

One day Tula sees something she shouldn’t, and Brother Blue turns on her, savagely beating her and abandoning her on the remote space station of Yertina Feray--the sole human in a place where humans are considered infinitely inferior. An alien creature named Heckleck takes her under his wing, albeit a bit reluctantly, and teaches her how to survive and even start to thrive. But even though three years pass, Tula is driven by thoughts of revenge on Brother Blue. When three new humans with ties to Brother Blue suddenly arrive on the scene, Tula has her chance.

~Sarah, Youth Services


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Matt Novak: Young Authors Guest

Only a few authors get the honor or illustrating their own books. Matt Novak is one of those authors. He has written more than 20 books, illustrating all of these and some for other authors, as well. He uses bright colors and a cartoon style with a dash of humor that appeals to young readers.

NO ZOMBIES ALLOWED is tale of two party planning witches getting ready for their annual monster party. While cleaning the house for the party, they find various photographs from last year’s gathering and begin to think about improving their guest list. They cross off the zombies who “kept dropping their eyes into the punch bowl,” the werewolves who “coughed up furballs all over the house,” and the vampires who “sucked all the juice out of the fruit.” As the guest list gets shorter and shorter, the party sounds less and less fun. You probably guessed that they ended up inviting all their friends, just like last year, and had the best time ever!

MY FROGGY VALENTINE is a twist on the story of “The Frog Prince.” In this version, Princess Polly wants to meet a wonderful prince, but is pursued by four frogs, all claiming that a kiss from her will turn them into a prince. One turns into the prince of trolls, the next into the prince of goblins, and the third becomes prince of hairy beasts; each one worse than the other. Should she take a chance on the fourth frog? Read on if you are looking for a happy ending.

This talented author will be featured at the Young Authors Conference this week. His books are available in the Youth Services area of the library.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Some Superheros

If you’ve got the comic book bug after seeing all the recent superhero movies, you may want to check out these two graphic novels, new to Peter White Public Library.

Captain America: Winter Soldier
Author: Ed Brubaker
Location: Adult Graphic Novels
If you saw the new Captain America movie, you now know who the Winter Soldier is. However, did you know that the Winter Soldier is based on a comic story written by Ed Brubaker, who wrote Captain America for 8 years, and illustrated by Eisner-Winning artist Steve Epting? Much like the film, this story is about Steve Rogers, Captain America, man out of time. Working with S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogers must take on a crew of Russian assassins working for a man named Lutkin and uncover the truth behind their secret weapon, the Winter Soldier. Along with his friend, Sam Wilson, the Falcon, the Captain discovers secrets from his past and must decide how to move forward with his future. If you liked the movie, you should certainly give this book a shot.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Location: Adult Graphic Novels
Brian Michael Bendis is one of the most prolific writers in the Marvel Comic Book Universe. With the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie set to hit theaters this summer, Bendis is the perfect choice to write the comic book to run alongside it. Guardians follows Peter Quill, a half human, half alien who discovers his rightful place in his intergalactic family. Then, he swiftly denies his alien family’s legacy and meets an odd group of interstellar warriors:  a talking tree, a genetically engineered talking raccoon, the daughter of an evil, intergalactic destroyer, and Drax the Destroyer. Together they make up the Guardians of the Galaxy. With the addition of Iron Man, this comic takes you on an adventure through space and what may be the beginning of an intergalactic war.


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Star of Istanbul: A Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller

In this exhilarating novel, Robert Olen Butler does a fantastic job blending fiction with real-life 1915 global hysteria. With WWI in full swing, American spy and war correspondent Christopher Marlowe “Kit” Cobb finds himself hot on the trail of a German-American spy named Bauer.  He follows this trail right aboard the doomed ship Lusitania. While aboard the ship, Cobb meets actress Selene Bourgani with whom he begins a romantic attachment. It becomes apparent to Cobb that the mysterious Selene has her own secrets regarding the conflict raging in Europe. Following the historic sinking of the Lusitania, Cobb becomes further entangled in the web of deceit cast by Selene as he follows her to Istanbul. Through all of the blood-soaked drama, Cobb relies on his intuition to uncover Selene’s true motives, only to discover her hidden agenda could bring down some of the great powers of the world.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Annie's Ghosts

This year's pick for the Great Michigan read, Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg, is an intriguing blend of personal, regional and world history.  The book begins when a family secret is uncovered.  Luxenberg learns, as his mother's health is failing, that she had a sister who was institutionalized; in the past his mother had always referred to herself as an only child. 

After his mother's death, the story unfolds, and he learns the sisters in fact grew up together.  The younger sister lived at home till just before her 21st birthday, and she spent the duration of his own childhood in an asylum not far from where he grew up.

The more Luxenberg learns, the more questions he has:  who was in on the secret, what steps were taken to keep the secret, and why keep the secret at all?  Finding the answers to his questions involves not just exploring his own family and those relationships but learning more about the history of the mental health system in Detroit and throughout the United States and about the immigrant experience of Jewish Americans before and after the Holocaust. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Couple of Cookbooks

There is nothing I like to read better than cookbooks, and the PWPL has received a variety of new additions to the collection.

The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook by Erin Coopey is a handy compendium of how to make fresh, tastier and healthier staples like salad dressings, stocks, sauces, butters and condiments. The instructions are easy to follow and most cooks will have the ingredients on hand. If you want to try your hand at making your own ketchup, mustards, mayonnaise, pumpkin puree, pickles and salad dressings, this is the book for you.

Local chefs Deborah Pearce and Chris Kibit have written the “go to” cookbook for whitefish lovers.  Wild Caught and Close to Home, Selecting and Preparing Great Lakes Whitefish is a project completed in cooperation with the Michigan Sea Grant. Chefs and cooks from across the Great Lakes share their favorite whitefish recipes and techniques.