Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 12:23am

Have You Heard About... The Floating Staircase

…the rickety staircase rising out of a Maryland lake?  In Ronald Malfi’s latest book, The Floating Staircase, Travis Glasgow and his wife buy a house in Maryland with a distinctive feature: a staircase rising out of the lake behind the property.  But it’s easy enough to overlook, until Travis starts hearing weird noises and seeing shadows flit across the house.  He realizes that the ghostly incidents are connected with the staircase, and he begins to investigate.  But the more he uncovers about the house’s history, the more he realizes that some secrets can’t stay hidden forever.

This book takes the traditional haunted house story and combines it with an extremely compelling murder mystery – so compelling, in fact, that I found myself just as obsessed with the house’s secret as Travis Glasgow.  And the author does a fantastic job of taking the small ghostly incidents (a strange noise, a shadow flitting across a hallway) and transforming them into something truly unsettling.  A very impressive and entertaining ghost story.


Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 12:21am

Have You Heard About... Sneaky Pie for President

… the cat who is running for public office? In Sneaky Pie for President, Rita Mae Brown’s co-author decides to throw her hat, er, collar in the ring. She talks with other cats, dogs, birds, horses, and even mice and fish to get support for her nomination.

On the surface, this is a fairly light-hearted look at politics. However, Ms Brown works in an impressive amount of information about the impact of animal-related and environmental concerns on the economy of the United States. From therapy animals and dogs fighting in the military to the cattle industry and different farming techniques, these topics affect everyone in the country. The story ends with Sneaky Pie announcing her candidacy to an enthusiastic audience of animals at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Extra materials include her campaign platform and promises, as well as a few slogans. Think outside the litter box!


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 12:24am

Have You Heard About... The Night Circus

…the magic of Le Cirque des Rêves?  In Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, a fantastic circus travels the globe, popping up in the middle of the night, without warning.  It is only open after dark and often vanishes as quickly as it appeared.  Everyone who visits Le Cirque des Rêves is forever haunted by its beauty and mystery.  And in the center of the carnival are Celia and Marco, two young magicians who have fallen in love with each other and who have been unknowingly pitted against the other in a magical fight to the death.

This is a gorgeously written book.  Reading it feels like a marvelous dream, and every aspect of the circus comes alive in enchanting detail, from the impossible Ice Garden to the ever-changing clock at the entrance to the circus.  And, of course, at the heart of the novel is a beautiful and powerfully imagined romance.  I’m in awe of what Erin Morgenstern has created, and I can’t wait to read this one again.


Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 9:27am

Have You Heard About... Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida

… Cassie and her late husband’s plastic flamingos? Check them out in Sandra D. Bricker’s Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida*.

Cassie has no plans to live in the vacation home she and her late husband had in Holiday, Florida. It’s a small bungalow with tacky plastic flamingos on the lawn that her late husband just loved. Cassie needs to do a few renovations and get the bungalow ready to sell so she can get on with her life. Renovations always take longer they you expect. Start with, throwing out the plastic flamingos, talking to the zany neighbors in this retirement community, finding that the flamingos somehow keep ending up back on the lawn, and meeting a handsome neighbor who enjoys dancing as much as she used to.

Cassie isn’t very impulsive, but her neighbor down the street is and pushes Cassie into all kinds of quirky things, one being signing up for a dance class that is taught by handsome neighbor, Richard. Cassie and Richard seem to hit it off. The house is taking shape for the sale, but Cassie is falling in love the new renovations. Is she falling in love with Richard as well?

This is a laugh out loud type of book that I couldn’t put down.

*Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida, is part of the Love Finds You series of unconnected inspirational romance novels.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

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)