Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reading Plan - Week 1 - Cozy Mystery

Sweet Tea Revenge by Laura Childs

Genre: Southern Cozy Mystery with recipes

Cozy mysteries often feature amateur sleuths, lots of details about the community it is set in, and any violence involved usually takes place out of sight. They may be contemporary or historical. A popular trend involves directions on how to do something the protagonists are involved in such as including recipes or patterns.

Theodosia Browning, proprietor of a tea shop in Charleston's historic district, is helping out with her friend Delaine's wedding that is taking place in an historic but down at the heels hotel. Discovering the dead body of Dougan Grenville, the groom and her next-door-neighbor, Theodosia, uses her amateur sleuthing skills in trying to solve the murder. This cozy mystery is filled with lovely descriptions of food, fashion, and home furnishings. This genteel who-done-it has much the same appeal as Southern Living along with some quirky characters and entertaining situations. Tea aficionados will enjoy the list of tea related resources at the end and those who like tasty recipes along with their mysteries will enjoy the ones included.

In my attempts to be a great reader's advisor, I follow a reading plan to read titles and genres that are outside my comfort zone. While this is not particularly my cup of tea, I did enjoy it and am glad to have read it so I can share it with the legions of cozy fans looking for a tasty read.

Reading Plans

One of the most important things I learned when starting out as a reader's advisor was to read widely. Loren Tabor who was branch head at Hadley Library started me out with a reading plan so I could try different subgenres and genres in a rotation. The last couple years, when I was serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee, my reading plan more or less went out the window. Now I'm back at it and will be posting regularly on the books that fall into my reading plan.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book of the Week - A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan.

This fictional memoir of Isabella, Lady Trent, a woman of Scirland, which seems to bear a good resemblance to 19th century England tells of her earliest adventures. As a young girl she was fascinated by sparklings, the insect like creatures that looked like tiny dragons and a book her father had purchased, A Natural History of Dragons but science was not really an appropriate hobby for a young woman of her social class. When her brother takes her on a visit to the King's menagerie she finally sees real dragons in the flesh, albeit stunted runt sized dragons, and meets one of suitors who had been on her parents' list of suitable young men. With their common interest in natural science Isabella is soon wedded to Jacob Camherst. They jump at the chance to go on a scientific expedition led by Lord Hilford to the mountains of Vystrana to study the variety of dragons called rock-wyrms. In a small village, their party of four, set up a base off operations despite the villagers antipathy toward them. They discover the local dragons have started killing people, they explore an ancient ruin, and encounter dangers, both natural and political. This is a delightful read with the appeal of good historical fiction (even though it isn't our world), a protagonist with a strong distinctive voice, and interesting world building. The emphasis on science is quite appealing. Isabella reminded me of an older Kate deVries, Airborn. This satisfying read will have broad appeal. And the Preface offers hope for many more adventures.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Book of the Week - Surprising Lord Jack By Sally MacKenzie

Now that I'm no longer on the Best Fiction For Young Adults committee, I'm free to read whatever catches my fancy. Sally MacKenzie is a new to me author and I was delighted to find her and the blend of romance, regency era setting, and murder mystery she presents in Surprising Lord Jack. Frances, a twenty-four year old spinster is on the run from her aunt who wanted to marry her off to a man she had no interest in. Deciding to go to London where her twin brother lives, she plans on securing the money set aside for her dowery from the family's man of business and buying a little cottage where she can remain unmarried. Disguised as a boy, she ends up sharing a bed with Lord Jack, then is taken under his wing to travel the rest of the way to London. Jack, a notorious rake, will not let a young boy wander around London by himself. They find an infant abandoned in an alley guarded by a talented little dog and Jack, who secretly has a home for foundlings as well as a home for women who want to get off the streets insists Frances stay with him as he takes the baby to safety and checks up on a few things. When he discovers his traveling companion is really a woman, Jack takes her to his town house and immediately sends for his mother who is called the Duchess of Love and the fun begins.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sure Bets from YALSA’s lists and awards

Sure Bets from YALSA’s lists and awards

BFYA=Best Fiction for Young Adults
QP=Quick Picks
* = it was on the top ten list of either BFYA or QP
I’m really glad some of these appeared on my Top Ten for the Year.

Andrews, Jesse. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.   BFYA* - QP
Damico, Gina. Croak BFYA - QP
Barnaby, Hannah. Wonder Show BFYA - Morris Finalist
Danforth, Emily M. The Miseducation of Cameron Post BFYA - Morris Finalist
Doller, Trish. Something Like Normal. BFYA - QP
Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars BFYA  - Teens’ Top Ten
Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina BFYA* - Morris Winner
Jordan, Dream. Bad Boy BFYA - QP
Lacey, Josh. Island of Thieves BFYA - QP
Lake, Nick. In Darkness BFYA - Printz WinnerLyga, Barry. I Hunt Killers.BFYA - QP*
Meyer, Marissa CinderBFYA  - Teens’ Top Ten
Pratchett, Terry. Dodger. BFYA - Printz Honor
 Saenz, Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseBFYA* - Printz Honor
 Summers, Courtney. This is Not a Test. BFYA - QP*
Volponi, Paul. The Final Four BFYA - QP
Woodson, Jacqueline. Beneath a Meth Moon BFYA - QP*
Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity BFYA* - Printz Honor

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Books by Color

Today on Facebook Sharyn November posted a photo of a book display captioned "I don't remember the title, but the cover was blue..." Of course it make me think of how many times I've encountered that question both in libraries and bookstores which made me think of the books involved which led me to thinking about Michael Malone. I realized I hadn't read any of his books in a couple of decades. How did I miss them? He was one of my very favorite go to authors in the 1980s. One of his books that I recommended to a little old lady had me gasping for air and ready for the "my face was red" award. The library patron, a very prim and proper little old lady with a belt that matched her shoes, handbag, and hat came in and thanked me for recommending a book for her. She loved it so much she wanted the title so she could order copies of it as gifts for her friend. I live to connect people with the books they love and at that time in history I could still pretty much remember everything I ever read (not that I hadn't read much, just that I had a weird paranormal talent of reading 300-500 books a year and being able to cite the titles and authors.)

I figured the question would be easy. "Tell me about the book" I asked. "I don't remember exactly which books we've talked about."

When she said "the cover is red" I started scrolling through books with red covers in my head but I didn't recall booktalking any specific ones in the recent past.

"Please tell me a little more. What do you remember about the book?'

With a refined Southern drawl she said "It's the one where the woman gets her teeth caught in the man's zipper."

Totally flummoxed I stuttered and gasped. What book had I given her? I couldn't imagine. Fortunately we were walking around in the stacks and as I tried to collect myself she found it on the shelf. It was Handling Sin by Michael Malone.

It's amazing how one glimpse of a photo of a display of blue books could elicit the emotions I felt around a long ago red book.

What weird things have made you remember beloved books long forgotten?