Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 12:13am

Have You Heard About... Touchstone

… the real wizards of the theater? Far from our stage magicians, these men use true magic to create illusions of sight, sound, and even emotion for their plays. In Melanie Rawn’s Touchstone, readers follow a theatrical troupe from their start in cheap bars to their triumphant tour of the coveted Winterly Circuit. Their success is threatened by personal struggles, conflicts within the group, and the leader’s worries about his secret precognitive dreams.

Ms Rawn gives us a suspenseful book with an intricate, unique form of magic. The four main characters and several of their friends are well developed. The plot is complex, mixing prejudices and political intrigue with the natural exuberance of young men who want to have a good time and celebrate their successes. Both the precognitive foreshadowing and a slightly cliff-hanger ending pave the way for a sequel. I’m looking forward to it!


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 12:05am

Have You Heard About... Adventures in America’s Western Parks: The Great Southwest

…the scenic southwest parks of the USA? The non-fiction travelogue Adventures in America’s Western Parks: The Great Southwest has lots of ideas for seeing nature up close and personal. Whether you like to rock climb, hike, bike or take a car ride, the southwestern part of the US is the place to do it.

Incredible, breathtaking scenery of the canyons, buttes, mesas and valleys fill this DVD. You’ll wonder why people endure the scorching heat of Death Valley, rappel down canyon walls, or decide not to go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. See where Georgia O’Keefe got the inspirations for her paintings, where Hollywood made some of the greatest western movies of all time or just get your kicks on Route 66.

The extra features chronicle the firefighters of the Grand Canyon and how they keep the park from excessive fires. You can also learn how the Navajo Indians make their beautiful rugs. As an armchair traveler, you can experience all of this and more and not have to pay a penny for the two-hour “vacation.”


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 12:38am

Have You Heard About... Eat & Run

… the very readable book on running? I just finished reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek who is an ultramarathoner. Why would I read a book about someone who makes a habit of running races of 100 to 150 miles…and winning them? Especially since it takes me three hours to run a simple 5K? It was a fascinating read. That’s why.

This guy is a vegan and includes many of his high-powered recipes in the book. I kinda passed over those because plants are cool, but I like to eat meat and eggs and fish, etc. The rest of the book reads like a fantasy novel. The inside book jacket says his accomplishments are “nothing short of extraordinary,” and I would agree. Running 135 miles through Death Valley where it cools down to 105 degrees around midnight is crazy. Read the book. It won’t inspire you to run an ultramarathon, but it makes for a mesmerizing read.


Reviewed by Richard (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - 12:35am

Have You Heard About... Threadbare

… the latest murder in Excelsior, Minnesota? In the newest mystery from Monica Ferris, Threadbare* tells the story of two murdered homeless women. These women really had nothing in common except that they were homeless, and when the niece of one of the women asks Betsy to help her, another body turns up frozen in the snow. Could the murders be connected? A piece of Hardanger needlecraft is found on one of the women. Is it a clue?

The plight of the homeless is good part of the storyline. Betsy’s needlecraft shop, Crewel World, is also a part of the story. Relatives of the homeless women, of course, are some of the suspects. It isn’t until the very end that the mystery unfolds itself into a shocking tale of greed.

This is a stand alone book with enough back story so you will understand why Betsy can take off from her job at Crewel World.

* Earlier books in the series are Crewel World, Framed in Lace, A Stitch in Time, Unraveled Sleeve, A Murderous Yarn, Hanging by a Thread, Cutwork, Crewel Yule, Embroidered Truths, Sins and Needles, Knitting Bones, Thai Die, Blackwork and Buttons and Bones.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 12:20am

Have You Heard About... Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

… the bizarre and colorful citizens of Savannah, Georgia? In his nonfiction book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt examines the history and personality of the town, as well as the eccentric citizens who live there. The book is loosely centered around a murder investigation that took place in the city in the 1980s, but the real focus is on the people that Berendt met while living there: The Lady Chablis, a transsexual African American drag queen; Minerva, a voodoo priestess; and Jim Williams, an antiques dealer who has been charged with murder.

Berendt does an excellent job of bringing the Savannah culture to life and exploring the complexities of living in a city with such deep historical roots. But even though this is a nonfiction account, the book reads like a novel, making this a good suggestion for anyone who enjoyed In Cold Blood by Truman Capote or Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.


Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 12:18am

Have You Heard About... Bad Always Die Twice

… the daughter of a Hollywood screen legend who doesn’t want to follow in her famous mom’s footsteps? Nikki Harper decides to become a real estate agent instead. Do The Bad Always Die Twice when a film icon turns up dead but the death was reported six months earlier? How can this happen and be believable?

Catering to the Hollywood elite and their crazy lifestyles, this book has a lot to offer. Think Jackie Collins only on the cozy mystery side. There are a few slow spots, but plenty of red herrings will keep you guessing to the very end.

Cheryl Crane is the daughter of Hollywood legend Lana Turner. This book looks like it will be the first in a fascinating series.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 12:41am

Have You Heard About... the picture books of Steven Kellogg

… some great picture books that stand the test of time?  This is a two for one review…my favorite picture books of Steven Kellogg!

My sister and I used to read The Mysterious Tadpole and Much Bigger than Martin over and over and over again when we were little girls. Now my sister has been reading them to my daughter. (Aren’t they cute?)

The illustrations are very creative, the stories are a lot of fun, and Mr. Kellogg represents librarians very well. You don’t have to be a librarian to appreciate that Ms Severs in The Mysterious Tadpole is referred to as a friend. When Louis meets her on the street and fills her in on what’s been going on with his tadpole from Loch Ness, she devises a brilliant solution and helps to facilitate a happy ending. Total librarian, right?

In Much Bigger than Martin, Mr. Kellogg aptly describes the growing pains a little brother goes through along with all of the creative ideas he comes up with to grow “much bigger.” These are the kinds of books that parents can appreciate right along with their kids. I don’t think it has to be a childhood favorite! Enjoy!!!


Reviewed by Heidi (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 12:19am

Have You Heard About... Lake Eden Cookbook

… the new cookbook from mystery author Joanne Fluke? The Lake Eden Cookbook is a wonderful addition to the books in the Hannah Swensen mystery series*. All of the great recipes in the previous books are now in one book for easier reference.

There is not really a story line in this book, and no mystery. Hannah caters a luncheon for her mother, the original founder of the “Lake Eden Gossip Hotline,” and she’s put together a booklet of all of her fabulous recipes to give to her friends. In between the recipes, there are a few short stories that the ladies share that are absolutely hilarious. The reading time will only take about 45 minutes, but you’ll linger over all of the luscious recipes. There are quite a few new recipes that you’ll want to try out: Tapioca Cheesecake, Raspberry Swirls, Norwegian Chocolate Pizza, and Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie, to name just a few.

* The series includes Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Strawberry Shortcake Murder, Blueberry Muffin Murder, Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, Fudge Cupcake Murder, Sugar Cookie Murder, Peach Cobbler Murder, Cherry Cheesecake Murder, Key Lime Pie Murder, Carrot Cake Murder, Cream Puff Murder, Plum Pudding Murder, Apple Turnover Murder, Devil’s Food Cake Murder, and Cinnamon Roll Murder, as well as stories in the anthologies Sugar and Spice, Gingerbread Cookie Murder, and Candy Cane Murder.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 12:28am

Have You Heard About... Chasing the Moon

… the end of the world as we know it? In Chasing the Moon, A. Lee Martinez shows us just how funny things can be when the world is about to end. Diana finally finds the perfect apartment – reasonable rent, furnished in her style, even utilities are included. It turns out to have one small catch in the form of Vom the Hungering, an ancient entity who lives in the apartment’s closet. Diana can’t leave the apartment until she opens the closet door, but when that happens, Vom will come out and eat her. On the bright side, as long as she is Vom’s warden, she won’t age, grow sick, or die by conventional means. On the down side, even the best apartment gets boring after a while. Fortunately for Diana, she turns out to have a knack for dealing with this sort of problem, because Vom isn’t the only monster in the world.

A. Lee Martinez has a way of turning anything from fantasy wars to robotic noir into absolutely insane humor, and eldritch horrors are no exception. Sure there are unspeakable monsters everywhere, but most of them are just regular guys, waiting for another rift in space and time to open up so they can go back to their home dimensions. They may cause a little damage while the wait, but the universe will work around them and get things more or less back the way they were. Usually. Most people won’t remember the differences anyway, so it doesn’t matter all that much, right?

One of my favorite quotes (from p. 65):

“… it always gets better. One way or another.”

“One way or another?”

“Oh, you know. Crossword puzzles. Pornography. Video games. Knitting. Madness. Death. We all find a way of coping, Number Five.”


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 12:24am

Have You Heard About... Flowerbed of State

… the new assistant gardener at the White House? In Flowerbed of State, by Dorothy St. James, you’ll meet Casey Calhoun, an organic gardener who’s only been at the White House a short time, but she’s already in trouble with the Secret Service. This is a fascinating behind-the-­scenes look at the how the White House grounds are kept up.

Casey finds a dead body after being conked on the head, and since she’s a huge fan of Miss Marple, she decides to investigate on her own, much to the annoyance of Jack Turner, a top Counter Assault Team Agent. With protesters marching across the street from the White House, a new puppy digging up the Rose Garden, and a quirky cast of secondary characters, will the killer get to Casey first or will Jack throttle her for interfering with the security of the White House?


Reviewed by Terry (staff)