Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Find Your Next Book

Do you need some help finding the next book in a series?  Or do you want to browse through a series list or find some reviews other than in your newspaper or Amazon?  Here are a few ideas: - this website focuses on thrillers and is a monthly online magazine.  It includes reviews of new thrillers and articles about the genre. - this site has thousands of reviews broken down into subgenres such as police/detective, thrillers, suspense, romantic suspense (who knew?). - a sister site to the mystery reader site but for romances. - this is a wonderful source especially to find books in a series.

Generally, you don't have to type in the "www" in your search.  Just type in "thebigthrill", "themysteryreader", etc. and the site should come up.  Happy browsing!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Recommend A Good Book

There is a really interesting article at  Just search for Nancy Pearl for the interview with her at the latest Public Library Association meeting.  

She believes that "reading is about experiencing joy".  Her definition of a good book is "one that I enjoy, just as a good book for you is one that you enjoy. We may agree, or we may not, on what’s a good book;...the only opinion that should matter is our own."

She has an interesting idea about how to recommend a good book.  
Nancy says "We often start by matching the book a reader has just read with other books on the same general topic or in the same genre. But when we link books by what they’re about—primarily, the plot details—I think we misunderstand what really goes on in our reading lives. When we want a book exactly like the one we just finished reading, what we really want is to recreate that pleasurable experience.  We need to start thinking about what it is about a book that draws us in, rather than what the book is about."

Nancy says there are "four experiential elements: story, character, setting, and language".  She calls these “doorways,” and says we should choose our next book by asking ourselves in what proportion we want these elements in our next book.  For example, "a book with story as its biggest doorway is one that readers describe as a page-turner, a book that they can’t put down because they desperately want to discover what happens next.  A book with character as its biggest doorway is a book in which readers feel so connected with the characters that when the book is over they feel they've lost someone dear to them.  Readers of novels in which setting is most prominent say things like “I felt like I was there". A book in which language is the major doorway leads readers to utter sentences like “I read more slowly because I wanted to savor the language” or “I’m not even sure what the book is about, but I loved the way the author wrote.”

 The trick in finding your next good book is to find the proportion of story, character, setting, and language that closely matches a book you loved.  This idea is actually quite logical.  I'm going to try it the next time I'm asked to recommend a book.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Sarah's KeyThe Readers Garden book discussion group met April 24, 2012 to discuss Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Dina, Judy, Molly, Melody and Ann were present. Everyone agreed they enjoyed this book and felt the author created an informative novel about a little known time in French history.  She alternated past and present with unforgettable characters. The past is July, 1942 Paris when the French collaborated with the Nazis to round up Jewish people, mostly children. The present day is Paris with journalist Julia Jarmond writing a story about this dark period in France’s history as the 60th anniversary approaches.  

The book discussion questions kept the conversation flowing. Judy shared that the Danish people would not allow Jews to be taken as they felt they were Danish. Discussion followed as to how the French could allow these atrocities to occur especially to so many children. Melody said many of the French people believed that nothing really bad was going to happen to the Jews that were taken and had no control over events anyway. Molly watched the movie Sarah’s Key twice and remarked that it was true to the book. Readers cheered for Julia’s strength and determination to pursue the story of Sarah. The group highly recommended this selection to other book clubs and individuals, too. Dina shared that historical fiction has become her favorite genre.

The Borrower
There are openings in The Readers' Garden group.  Meetings are the 4th Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The next meeting is May 22nd to discuss The Borrower, a debut novel by Rebecca Makkai. Booklist named it as a Top Ten Debut of 2011 and it was featured in Oprah’s Magazine.  Copies of the book are available for checkout. We are also excited to welcome Rebecca Makkai on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 6:30 pm. See you then!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

News for Downton Abbey & Potato Peel Society Fans

Here is good news (maybe old news but new news to me!) for fans of Downton Abbey and a very popular book (see below).   There is a 2005 British TV production called Island At War available at Netflix and perhaps other outlets.  It has gotten rave reviews and is about the German occupation of the Channel Islands from 1940 - 1945.  It is based on the events on Jersey and Guernsey Islands.  It follows three local families, one upper, one middle and one lower class and their involvement with four German officers that occupy the island.  

Masterpiece Theater website says it's "a riveting view of the German invasion and occupation of the Channel Islands, the only part of the British Isles that fell into Nazi hands, and how life was irrevocably changed overnight...Those who stayed were to encounter a hostile Nazi command, intent on imposing their way of life on the island."  

The production was filmed on The Isle of Man (an island in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland).  One of the stars is Anna Smith which Downton Abbey fans will know as the servant Anna.  You will also recognize the name Guernsey from the wonderful book by Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society.  The book gives a genuine sense of time and place and shows how the spirit of the islanders overcame the deprivations they suffered.  

In related news, Kenneth Branagh is set to direct a movie of The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society and Kate Winslet is slated to star.  Mr. Branagh has been scouting locations on Guernsey but filming has been delayed until January, 2013. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Some Random Musings

Some random musings:

Carl Hiaasen was featured on NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" in a replay of an old interview.  He is a native Floridian and contends that everyone in Florida is crazy.  He is funny, irreverent and a light mystery of his would fit the bill for a good summer read.

 Katherine Howe was so charming when she visited our library last year.  Her first book , The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, is about the Salem witch trials.  Her second book,  The House of Velvet and Glass, was just released.  It has received some very positive reviews. But - here's one very minor complaint.  It just somehow bugs me that authors (or more likely their publishers) take the title of a popular book and copy it.  One of my favorite books is The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III.  I wonder how the family of Stieg Larsson feels about copycats of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo title.  There are already several ripoffs of that unique title including a best selling I Am The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Another good summer read that you may have missed is Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer.  Her website describes the book as weaving "together three stories of human love within the larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia". US Magazine says  “Kingsolver deftly addresses the struggle between mankind and nature ... A lush ... novel of love and loss in Appalachia."