Five Book Friday!

I know I’m going to regret asking this question, but could it get any hotter out there?  Or more humid?  But there is good news, beloved patrons.  The library is air-conditioned, and we are happy for you to come in and cool off for a bit.  And, as an added bonus, you are welcome to find a few books, dvds, audiobooks, and magazines to while away the time.  Here are five books that appeared on our shelves this week for your consideration:

3597942Don’t Go Home It took us a little while to get this book on the shelves, but it comes with some good news for fans of Annie Darling and the Death on Demand series in general–author Carolyn Hart has decided to continue the series past this book (which was originally intended to be the series conclusion)!  In this 25th installment in the series, Annie’s bookstore is scheduled to hold a party for a local author when it is revealed that he modeled many of his characters on his neighbors–and the results were not very complimentary.  But when Annie’s dear friend gets in a fight with the curmudgeonly author right before he turns up dead, can she manage to figure out whom among the many angry locals did this author in? Publisher’s Weekly adored the small-town setting of this mystery, saying “Understated local color and a charming cast of supporting characters will keep Annie’s fans glued to the page.”

 
3642374Jacob Lawrence : The Migration Series:  In 1941, a twenty-three-year old artist named Jacob Lawrence completed a series of tempura paintings, pairing them with text about the Great Migration (the name given to the mass migration of black Americans from the rural south to the north between 1915 and 1916.  The series itself became a landmark of modern art, as it not only depicted contemporary history, but also a population that had gone underrepresented up to that point.  This book places this artwork in its cultural and historic context, looking not only at the images, but their display and movement in various museums.  Leah Dickerman’s editorship makes this a fascinating work for historians, artists, and students of all ages.

3639542Movie Star By Lizzie PepperThis oddly titled little tome is winning sky-high praise from the likes of VogueUS Today, and Entertainment Weekly for its clever, cheeky observations, and fast-paced, surprising plot.  When Lizzie Pepper’s marriage to a Hollywood mega-star ends, she decides to tell her own side of the story in this book by one of Hollywood’s most prominent ghost writers.  Of Hilary Liftin’s book, the Kirkus Review said “With its sympathetic narrator, suspenseful plot pivots, snappy pace, and dishy details about Hollywood’s inner workings, Liftin’s compelling, highly readable novel is likely to engage even readers who remain blissfully unaware of the tabloid characters who may or may not have inspired it.” (Coughcough-Katie Holmes!-Coughcough)

 
3643302A Sword For His Lady: Mary Wine is an under-appreciated powerhouse of historic romances, and this newest release shows her at her steamy, creative best.  She pairs a headstrong widow who is willing to sacrifice anything for her independence with a newly-appointed Baron who is charged with defending her land, much to the lady’s chagrin, and keeps the tension and action both high and intense.  RT Book Reviews called this book an “unforgettable love story, replete with sexual tension, historical details and powerful storytelling”, and fans of Highland romances will find plenty to love in Wine’s work.

 
3639956Armada : A NovelFans of Ernest Cline’s phenomenal Ready Player One–rejoice!  The author’s follow-up book is a worthy successor, and sure to keep fans and new readers alike delighted; Booklist gave it a starred review, saying “Cline once again brings crackling humor and fanboy knowledge to a zesty, crowd-pleasing, countdown-clock, save-the-planet tale “, while the USA Today called it “Enchanting…Willy Wonka meets the Matrix”, which is probably not a combination you’ll ever hear put together again.  Once again, Cline gives us a super teen protagonist named Zach Lightman, but in this tale, Zach sees a flying saucer straight out of his favorite video game hovering outside his school, and soon finds himself enlisted to use his gamer-talent to save the world.  But Zach has read enough science fiction to know that things like this are never as straightforward as they seem….

 
So there you have it!  Have a lovely, safe, air-conditioned weekend!

Five Reasons to be Super-Excited About the Man Booker Prize

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On Wednesday, the Long List of the Man Booker Prize was announced, marking the start of three months of speculation, drama, and bookish excitement.  Though originally an award for British authors, this award is now given for the best book written in English, regardless of the nation of the author or publisher (though it is still judged and awarded in England).  The short list will be announced in September, and the final winner will be announced in October.  For those of you yet to become acquainted with this prize, here are five reasons to be excited about the Man Booker Prize:

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1) It’s a book award!  And book awards always mean that a list of fabulous books is to follow.  The Man Booker Prize may tout that it is “the leading prize for high quality literary fiction written in English”, which, since 1969, has awarded prizes to the likes of Hilary Mantel, Salman Rushdie, and Eleanor Catton, but the truth of the matter is that the Man Booker Prize likes books for the same reason that we do: because these books are incredible, moving, surprising, thought-provoking, insightful, and fundamentally different.

2) It’s a big, dramatic deal.  In September, this list gets whittled down, and the short-listed authors received a £2,500 cash award and a specially-bound copy of their work.  The final winner gets a further £50,000.  And sales of their book are all-but-guaranteed to rise dramatically.  This is a huge social achievement for all the long-listed authors, and a huge boost for their work.

3) It’s a big deal outside of the book world, too.  Once upon a time, I lived near a book-makers shop in London, and throughout the summer and early fall, they took bets on horses…and on books.  The odds changed regularly, and as the short list was announced, there were people outside who were as excited about the books as any other competition out there.  If you don’t believe me, here is the site to track odds against current authors.

4) This year is particularly awesome; out of the thirteen titles listed, seven were written by women.  As we discussed a while back, considering that literary awards tend to overwhelming favor men, this is a pretty nifty fact–and a very hopeful trend.  Additionally, there are seven countries represented, as well (this is the second year that the award has been open to English books published outside Britain and its Commonwealth).  With stories from India, Ireland, Morocco, and the US, among others, and wide range of perspectives offered, this award really represents a huge range of experience and are sure to make the competition that much more interesting.

5) The NOBLE network has copies of (nearly) every book on this long-list for your reading pleasure (some have yet to be released in the US).  Check them out below!

Tom McCarthy: Satin Island

Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life

Anne Tyler: A Spool of Blue Thread

Marilynne Robinson: Lila

Marlon James: A Brief History of Seven Killings

Chigozie Obioma: The Fishermen

Anne Enright: The Green Road

Andrew O’Hagan: The Illuminations

Laila Lalami: The Moor’s Account

Sunjeev Sahota: The Year of the Runaways (Publication Date: March 1, 2016)

Anuradha Roy: Sleeping on Jupiter (Awaiting US publication)

Bill Clegg: Did You Ever Have a Family (Awaiting US publication)

Anna Smaill: The Chimes (Awaiting US publication)

Isn’t It Romantic?

If you haven’t heard, there are a number of devoted fans of the Romance genre here at the library.   And for those of you looking for a good romance novel to get acquainted with the genre, or a new book to enjoy, or just want to see what happens when NPR asks readers for their favorite romance novels, here is a list of 100 crowd-sourced “Swoon-Worthy Romances”.

Personally, I was genuinely surprised to see how many historical romances were on the list.  On the one hand, I adore historic romances, for a number of reasons, so I was quite excited.  On another hand, having worked in publishing for several years and being told, over and over and over again that “historic romances are dead” and that no one wants to read them anymore, this was a marvelous vindication.  On a mysterious third hand, there are a world of contemporary romances that are super-sensational, so I was surprised they didn’t get recognized.  However, there is always time for more lists, I suppose…In fact, perhaps we at the library can start our own?…..Hmmmm….

In any case, for those interested in how this list was put together, and by whom, you can check out this article here, written by NPR’s panelists, explaining why some books didn’t make the list, including a very interesting explanation of why Kathleen Woodiwiss’ books, which were the first to be considered ‘modern romances’ were left out, which really shows how far the genre has come in a relatively short amount of time.

And for those looking for some titles at the library, here are a few from NPR’s list in our collection:

NOTE: The Library's cover is an updated one, but this one is too gorgeous not to post ;)
NOTE: The Library’s cover is an updated one, but this one is too gorgeous not to post 😉

Lord of Scoundrels: Loretta Chase’s classic is probably the best example of the historic romance genre, and one of the most surprising, fun romance novels you will read, featuring a headstrong, determined young woman who agrees to marry an ugly, selfish, arrogant Lord in order to save her brother from his mounting debts.  The banter between these protagonists is gloriously clever, but their love story is one that will change both them, and readers, in the end.

 

2698785The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie: This is a book that challenges any number of assumptions that tend to be made about the romance genre; the heroine is a widow who was very happy with her husband, and carries very fond memories of him; the hero would today most likely be considered autistic, but that makes him no less heroic, and no less worthy of love.  In fact, it makes him even better.  Watching these two come together is an intense and emotional journey that won’t soon be forgotten.  Best of all, Jennifer Ashely has penned a whole series around the Mackenzie family, and each book is definitely worth a read.

3157912A Lady Awakened: Cecelia Grant’s book is a revelation–and a bit of a revolution, in terms of the genre.  Desperate to keep her tenants nad estate safe from the clutches of her misogynist brother-in-law, widow Martha Russell buys the services of a local gentleman in order to get pregnant (a pregnant widow could not be cast off her property, because she might be carrying the heir to the estate).  Theophilus Mirkwood (best name ever!) isn’t scarred or damaged, he isn’t arrogant or alpha-male-ish at all.  He’s sweet, easy-going, and generally well-adjusted.  Martha’s chilly reserve and general cynicism over love give him a reason to keep coming back–and their ensuing relationship is simply unforgettable.

3245453The Chocolate Kiss: This book should come with a warning label.  Have a ready supply of snacks nearby whilst reading, or suffer the consequences.  This story of two rival chocolatiers, one of whom becomes a cat-burglar…or, more to the point, as cat-chocolate-maker, is all kinds of steamy and spicy and delightful, but the descriptions of the Paris setting, and the sensual descriptions of the chocolate will lingers long, long after the final pages have turned.

The best part of this list is that there is also a category for classics, like Jane Eyre (yay!), North and South (loud cheers!) and The Far Pavilions, all of which very rightly deserve spots on this list as well.

So there you are, beloved patrons.  We hope there is something on this list for you, but feel free to let us know your favorites, as well!  Happy reading!

A word on endings…

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Back when I was twelve, I read A Particular Book by A Particular Author (we don’t actually have it in our system, so we shall let this particular tome reside in infamy).  I loved this book, adored the characters, and couldn’t wait to find out how they would conquer all the enemies ranged against them and survive.  There was also a love triangle in this book, as well, and I knew, down in my bones, with every fiber of my being which of the two suitors this heroine should marry.  In the end, the protagonists triumphed, as they should, and all seemed well.  And then…

The heroine picked the wrong guy.

This was pretty much my reaction.
This was pretty much my reaction.

I mean, nothing against him.  As an adult, I can see that choosing this particular hero was the heroine’s way of accepting the changes in herself, and her willingness to begin a new life.  But to my twelve-year-old heart, he was just wrong.  Not to mention that the hero on whom I had pinned all my hopes and dreams was left crushed and lonely, sitting on a train bound for New York.

So, being the mature reader I was (and still am), I threw the book against a wall and refused to speak to anyone for two days.

Since then, I have managed to accept that all books will not end the way I want them to end.  I still don’t like it, but I try to bear in mind the words of Frank Herbert, author of the Dune sagas: “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

Those words have saved many books from being hurled against walls, and also saved many relationships, as the excuse “I just read a book that ended badly!” only works so many times when one is trying to explain why one can’t stop crying/can’t stop yelling/can’t get out of bed today.  As we discussed a few weeks ago in regards to the release of Go Set A Watchman, the characters we love, and the worlds they inhabit don’t always exist solely in an author’s imagination.  They become part of us, and we become part of them.

This gives us, as readers, a certain amount of agency over the things we read.  For me, books that I love are a lot like home movies.  They start, and they stop, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the characters cease to exist when the action stops (unless they die, and their world is obliterated by aliens, or something like that).  They are still alive in some kind of Land of Unwritten Books, where readers, like you and I, can imagine their further adventures.

In the Land of Unwritten Books, which I have just named, and to which I will now continually refer, lovers can be reunited, despite any distance that may separate them, the detective always gets his crook…or the crook finds a clever way to escape…the magician’s wife finds a final spell…the hero comes home in time…the missing letter gets delivered at last, and everyone is home in time for tea.

For me, that poor hero, alone in his train car, returns to New York, and meets another woman who challenges him, who makes him laugh, and helps him recover from the rejection he received at the end of That Particular Book.  Perhaps he thinks back on those times with a bittersweet fondness, but in the Land of Unwritten Books, he isn’t sad or lonely for very long.  No one needs to be, if that is how we, as readers wish it–at least in our own minds.  That may not change the outcome on the final page, but it may make your heart a little lighter when you get there.

 

 

Summer Concert Series: Semi-Aquatic Rodent

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Get ready for the upcoming performances in the library’s Summer Concert Series! Concerts are at 7 p.m. every Thursday night in July and August at East End Veterans Memorial Park. Every Monday, Free for All will offer an article about, or interview with, the band of the week. The following is an interview with Jake and Ronan of Semi-Aquatic Rodent.

What made you decide to become a musician?

Jake: My parents tell me that when I was two, my mom was searching the radio for a station that would put me to sleep. Flipping past a classical station, I interrupted her tuning, saying “Violins, mama! Violins!” and from then on set my mind on someday learning the violin (which was my first instrument). There’s also a part two, though, from my perspective. In terms of singing and guitar-y music, my inspiration was actually Ronan. We were hanging out in my then-girlfriend’s basement one Friday night and he was playing something on guitar. I thought it was a really cool instrument, and felt a little inadequate watching him play, so I spent the rest of the weekend doing nothing but teach myself guitar. And I’ve just sort of gone from there.
Ronan: My grandmother’s piano sat alone in a chamber that no one really went into. Playing around with notes and making melodies was more interesting than any board game I could play or matchbox track I could cycle a car around again and again. And so it seemed: we were meant for each other. That piano now sits in my living room, and I try to play it as often as I can. It’s still a magical experience, even if I only play a single note.

How would you describe your sound?

Mostly acoustic. We both play a variety of instruments, so from song to song, the “sound” is pretty unpredictable. In general, when we’re working on a song, whether one of us wrote it or not, we don’t really know what it’s going to sound like until we give it a few tries. We each have a pretty good sense of what the otter—yes, the otter—is thinking, so most of the time whatever happens on the first try is roughly what the final product ends up being.

What is your songwriting process like?

We laugh a lot. And noodle around on our instruments. A lot of the time, one of us will have the other person play or sing what we ultimately plan to end up singing/playing, just to hear it and be able to play along and make more things up. Basically, we are each other’s loop pedals.

Which artists have been your biggest musical influences, and what is it that draws you to their music?

So many artists. Alexi Murdoch’s aesthetic and ambient honesty. Ben Folds’ intensity and wit. Iron and Wine wrote the first song anybody ever heard Ronan sing, so we have a special place for him/them/Sam in our hearts. Simon & Garfunkel’s harmonies and balance. Elliott Smythe—yes, Smythe—contributed an air of melancholy which we embrace fully into our music. Punch Brothers: we saw a video of them covering “Just What I Needed” by The Cars a few years ago, and the obsession began. And he’s sort of a different category, but Robert Pinsky’s timing and intonation influence our phrasing—or so we would like to think.

Please tell us about any albums you have available or in production.

So far, we’ve been pretty non-prolific. We’ve made some private recordings, but nothing worth anybody else listening to. We’re spending a few days on the Cape later this summer, before we go off to collage—yes, to collage—so maybe we’ll find some time then. I guess we’ll see. We want to get something down before we part ways for college.

What should people expect when they come to your concert on Thursday night?

A mix of things. We have a couple of gnu songs—yes, gnu songs—that we’ve only just learned, and some things that each of us have written. There are also a few songs we’ve been doing for years, because they really exemplify our “sound” as a pear—yes, a pear.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

A shrimp cocktail, but that’s probably infeasible.

More about the Summer Concert Series:
Concerts will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings in July and August at East End Veterans’ Memorial Park. Bring a blanket or folding chair, and maybe even a picnic dinner, and enjoy live acoustic music from a new performer each week. East End Veterans’ Memorial Park is located at 45 Walnut Street. The concert schedule is as follows:

July 9th: Damn Tall Buildings
July 16th: Hoot and Holler
July 23rd: Colleen White and Sean Smith
July 30th: Semi-Aquatic Rodent
August 6th: Molly Pinto Madigan
August 13th: Eva Walsh
August 20th: Ian Fitzgerald
August 27th: The Whiskey Boys

Please note: In the event of rain, Summer Concerts will be held in the Sutton Room at the Peabody Institute Library and food will not be allowed.

For more information, please call 978-531-0100 ext. 10, or visit the library’s website at www.peabodylibrary.org.

 

Saturdays @ the South: An Ode to Audiobooks

AUDIOBOOK_DOWNLOADS_RAINBOW_BOOKS_WITH_HEADPHONESMuch like the books discussed in last week’s post, audiobooks are sometimes maligned. Many think that audiobooks are only for the elderly, infirm or visually impaired because: why else would someone listen to a book when you can read the paper (or electronic) version? As adults, haven’t we moved beyond storytimes and someone reading to you?

Regular readers of this blog are already familiar with my positive opinion on adults reading children’s books, so I strongly believe that we never get too old to have a story of any type read to us. However, audiobooks are more than just listening to a story. They are an alternate way to engage with a book. Whenever someone reads a book (in any format) they impose something of themselves onto the story. Essentially, different people get different things out of the same book. When you listen to an audiobook, you are listening to the interpretation of an actor, reader or sometimes the author him/herself. This interaction with someone else’s ideas of what the book represents (passive though it may be) automatically introduces the listener to a different viewpoint, teasing things out that you may or may not have noticed reading the book without a narration.

Audiobooks are also a great way to multi-task. For anyone who has ever said, “I would love to read more but don’t have the time,” then it might be time to consider audiobooks. For the longest time, I got frustrated during my commute to work thinking it was 20 minutes each way that could be better spent. Namely, I wished I was reading. And then it dawned on me that there was a way I *could* read while I was driving and have been hooked on audiobooks ever since. I still read paper books and e-books, but listening to books has offered me an additional way to read. And they’re not just for commuters. We have several patrons here at the South Branch who enjoy listening to audiobooks while they’re doing housework or gardening.

There is another great feature to audiobooks that you simply cannot experience in print form. Some authors and publishers take the audiobook as a form of art and creative expression in and therefore throw in some “treats” for the listener. In some cases, it will be a performance reading with a full cast covering each different character. Sometimes the listener gets to see different sides of the author as he/she reads the work in different voices to tease out different characters and dialog. In other cases, it’s the opportunity for the insertion of an audio track that enhances the book and makes it a one-of-a-kind reading/listening experience.

As you can probably tell by now, I love audiobooks and all of the different dimensions they bring to my reading and I know plenty of others who do as well. But like everything else in the world of reading, audiobooks are a matter of taste and experimentation. I have a friend who listens to audiobooks of all types, but finds she prefers to listen to dialog-heavy books and loses patience with audiobooks that have extended monologues or descriptions because, if she was reading it in print, she would probably skim those parts. My mom enjoys some audiobooks, but found that she couldn’t listen to mystery or suspense books in the car because she would get too engrossed in the story! (You know it’s a great book when you miss your exit or stop on the train, but safety does come first.) I have another friend who enjoys audiobooks, but likes books that are well-read or have a format that lends itself particularly well to reading aloud. Everyone has their own personal preference and it’s all about finding what you enjoy the most.

If you’re new to audiobooks, or you’re just looking for your next great listening-read, here are some of my personal favorites that I think are a great introduction:

2614782Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Full disclosure: I will recommend Neil Gaiman books, in any format to just about anyone who will listen to me. However, Gaiman’s works lend themselves particularly well to audiobooks as they are fluid and engrossing. Neverwhere is a particular treat because it’s read by the author and he is almost unfairly brilliant at reading aloud. Gaiman’s readings are well-paced; his voice is like smooth, velvety British toffee and he unabashedly does different characters’ voices (and accents!) without being over-the-top or melodramatic. He doesn’t read all of his audiobooks (I’ve found that if the book involves American accents, it’s usually read by another well-qualified person), but all of his audiobooks are worth listening to. This is just a good place to start.

3007527Bossypants by Tina Fey

This is another read-by-the-author gem, but Bossypants has some great nuggets in it that you would miss entirely reading the hard-copy. For example, when Fey describes her run as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, the readers get to listen to the audio track of famous skit that she did with Amy Pohler, instead of having Fey describe it or reading a transcript of the skit. In reading her own audiobook, I think because of her improv background, she is particularly skilled at telling her story with wit, inflection and excellent timing. Fey also recognizes that the images she included in her book add to the story and hers is one of the few audiobooks that includes a pdf of the images, which she references when she’s reading. The book is brilliant, but I think listening to Fey tell her own story makes it that much more interesting.

 

3585924Yes, Please by Amy Pohler

This book is similar in concept to Fey’s Bossypants, but this audiobook is a great example of how a good reading can elevate a book that might not be a shining example of it’s genre into something special. Pohler’s book is a bit disjointed and not as insightful as I was hoping it would be, but listening to this audiobook was great fun. She has “guest stars” she interacts with, including her parents and Seth Meyers, who reads the chapter he wrote for her book. There is also a terrific surprise in which she reads the last chapter to a live audience, so it feels more like stand-up comedy than an audiobook. Some of these qualities may have seemed gimmicky on other audiobooks, but they work very well in this instance.

3202394Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

If you’ve never read anything by “The Bloggess” you are in for an irreverent, riotously funny (though not safe for work) treat. I listened to this audiobook in the car and got many, many strange looks from other drivers because I was laughing so hard. To me, this is the sign of a great audiobook and Lawson’s most certainly was. It’s read by the author and her charming, mild Texas accent only enhances the experience. While hers doesn’t include a pdf, Lawson takes a moment to describe the pictures she includes in her book so that her listeners don’t feel left out. Oh, and make sure you listen all the way to the end of the audiobook. After her final chapter and acknowledgments, there is a gag reel and it is priceless!

2383088The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This is a well-told modern take on a Gothic novel that is greatly enhanced by the melodic narrator. It’s moody and atmospheric and while you’re listening to the book, you can almost feel the fogs of northern England rolling in. One narrator covers all of the different characters, but she does so deftly. Without deepening her voice in the cartoonish way some women narrators use to represent male voices, the narrator easily defines the different characters in the story so the reader can simply become absorbed in the story without wondering who is speaking or thinking what at any given time.

I hope this post has opened your eyes to some possibilities of alternative-format reading. The library is a great place for experimentation with reading types and formats because there’s no cost if you don’t like something. Just bring it back and try something else! Plus, the library is staffed with all types of readers who can help match you to what you feel like reading (or listening to) at that time. Till next week, remember that even if you’re listening to a book you’re still a reader.

 

 

Five Book Friday!

Happy Friday!  It’s been quite a week a the library, as new books coming rolling onto our shelves, and you, our beloved patrons, have come in looking for books to take to the beach, to the lake, to the mountains, and to the air conditioned living room.  However you chose to get through the heat is fine by us.  Here, for your weekend reading pleasure, are a selection of five books that are ready and waiting to join you on your adventures!

3641799The Flicker Men: Ted Kosmatka’s sci-fi thriller has been getting some rave reviews, like Publisher’s Weekly, who said “Kosmatka effectively harnesses his impressive imagination in the service of a mind-blowing plot in this outstanding SF thriller”.  My favorite review has come from author Hugh Howey, who said, “If Stephen Hawking and Stephen King wrote a novel together, you’d get The Flicker Men. Brilliant, disturbing, and beautifully told.”  When washed-out quantum physicist Eric Argus discovers a fundamental secret about the nature of humanity, he stirs up a controversy that engulfs the whole world–and exposes him to dangers he never could have imagined.

3634718The World On A Plate: A delicious blend of travel and food, Mina Holland’s book takes readers on a trip through forty different cultures and the food the eat, offering historic anecdotes, culinary advice, and her own personal revelations about why we eat the things we do. Do you know what separates North African spices from Indian?  Or why kimchi is so popular in Korea?  You will after reading this book that the Daily Mail calls a “heady mix of history, anecdotes and recipes for beginners to confident cooks alike.”

3634138Love in the Time of Scandal: Caroline Linden is a sensational storyteller, offering fans of historic romances a pitch-perfect blend of humor, sizzle, and original plots that will keep the pages flying.  In this third book in her Scandalous series, she introduces readers to Penelope Weston, who is forced to marry her former friend, Benedict Lennox, after a scandal threatens both their reputations.  Penelope can’t forget that Benedict once tried to court her sister, and Benedict is convinced that Penelope will never be the quiet, demure wife he thought he wanted…so how will they cope when the one person they never wanted turns into the only person truly need?

3630873No One Like You: Kate Angell’s newest release combines a stunning beachside setting and a charming romance that makes for the perfect beach read.  Pro-baseball player Rylan Cates needs all the help he can get as he prepares for spring training, especially in caring for his four rambunctious dogs.  Beth Avery is still looking for a place to belong, and even if she isn’t sure of Rylan, his dogs take a shine to her, ensuring that they will be spending a good deal of time in very close quarters….RT Book Reviews declares that “best feature here is the hero’s enormous Great Dane, whose huge personality and matchmaking antics make this romance a fun, lighthearted romp.”

3630379Home: Recipes to Cook With Family and Friends: I have to admit, as someone whose culinary talent doesn’t extend too far beyond critiquing the Food Network loudly, I judge cookbooks by their pictures, and by the friendliness of the author’s voice.  This book scores high in both categories; the images of the food are stunning (waffles…I need those waffles….), and Bryan Voltaggio’s love of food and feeding others shines through in his introductions and in these fairly simple recipes.  Enjoy, and feel free to share any tasty results from these recipes!

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." ~Frederick Douglass