Between the Covers: More Picks from Pratt Staff

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Between the Covers: More Picks from Pratt Staff

languageThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Awesome book about the transforming affect of flowers. I've had an epiphany and am gardening with more conviction. I highly recommend.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Number Four (alias: John Smith) is from the planet Lorien, a planet which was at war with the Mogadorians and defeated. Number Four, one of nine, has a mission to unite with the others and defeat the Mogadorians who set out to destroy Earth. In this mission he finds love and a true friend.

The Detachment by Barry Eisler
A jolly good read if wildly implausible. Eisler seems to have taken his character John Rain and turned him into a political statement. Some good action along the way, but the most disappointing book in the series.
--Joyce W.

stillaliceStill Alice by Lisa Genova
A well-written story of a 50-year-old woman diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Almost documentary-like in its detail, the novel gives a glimpse into why Alice’s still Alice to her family, despite the disease.
--Joyce W.

A Silken Thread by Brenda Jackson
This book is about a mother who wants her daughter to marry a man because of his family’s name. When reading you will discover that the mother has been holding a secret from her daughter and also disapproves of her daughter’s fiancé because his family is not wealthy.

Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
If you enjoy reading Evanovich’s “Between the Numbers” books, you will enjoy the zany adventures of Lizzy, Diesel, and Carl (the monkey). It’s a quick read that leaves you wanting more….  Great summer read!

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James, audiobook read by Rosalyn Landordeathcomes
P. D. James did a wonderful job blending Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with her novel Death Comes to Pemberley. Ms. Landor is a great narrator. Well worth a listen for Austen fans and others who enjoy a cozy mystery.

The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
Wartime London, a fair, and a cake set the stage for this mystery. The plot and facts unfold, adding more pieces, and only with the final pages does it all come together.

Again Calls the Owl by Margaret Craven
A lovely set of reminiscences of Craven’s young years as she developed her writing skills and the trip that set the stage for her book I Heard the Owl Call My Name. A comforting read.

Echoes of an Autobiography by Naguib Mahfouzechoes
Not a typical autobiography. Here the author provides aphorisms and thoughts on a range of topics, leaving the reader with a few things to consider. Quite unique and interesting.

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
Slow start but great build up at the end and a terrific whodunit.

damnedDamned by Chuck Palahniuk
Really funny--in the author's standard obnoxious way--and insightful at times too. Wonderfully vivid descriptions and tons of clever references to both ancient myths and retro pop culture including the 1970s book Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and the 1980's movie, The Breakfast Club. It made me wonder, and it made me laugh out loud quite a few times. I've already started thinking of telemarketers' calls differently....

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Is it a supernatural curse, or is it cold, calculated murder? Sherlock Holmes, a man of science, has his suspicions, but he has to have proof. Conan Doyle takes his time telling this tale, subtly slipping in clues as he takes you through the streets of London and the moors of Devonshire. He slowly builds the suspense until you almost can't take it anymore. What fun!
--John D.

Courting Justice by Brenda Jackson
Peyton and Angelo finally come to a realization that they both love each other. Then they are opposing counsels in the courtroom.

The Haunted by Bentley Little
A mediocre review is probably more accurate [than "Stayed Up All Night"] for Bentley Little's latest novel. Initially the story is quite thrilling. A family moves from a city suburb to the historic district of a town, only to find some very peculiar things occurring in their new house. Little's fast pace kicks in right away and the reader is whisked away into the terrifying world of strange happenings that the characters have trouble believing and reconciling with their world views. A supernatural explanation is initially discarded as the family tries to live a normal life in the face of strange and abnormal events. Unfortunately, in an uncharacteristic show of disregard for subtlety, Little exposes his ghost and everything that comes with it. The building of horror does not even last until the midpoint of the book. After that, the reader will find that the book feels tedious and anticlimactic. We've already seen the ghosts and the tiresome, forced recitations of past events in the neighborhood seem unnecessary and uninteresting. The ending is quite disappointing as well. There is no real drama to it and it's sweet, sappy, and unworthy of adult horror. Overall, I feel this book is worth a read for Bentley Little fans. Don't expect too much from it, however.

Festival of Fear by Graham Masterton
Though you may have read some of the stories contained in the book in other collections, this particular gathering of works still delivers with the chilling, disgusting, and fantastical elements all horror fans love. In graphic detail, Masterton pulls the reader through twisted scenarios which are bound to end in disaster for most characters involved, yet the reader is left devilishly satisfied. Highly recommended for horror fans—but don’t read it while you’re eating lunch—you may regret it.

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
“The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted.” The first line is a wonderful kickoff for this quirky tale that is classic Tyler. There is only one problem: this gem of a book is too short.
--Sarah K.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. Kingbeekeepersapprentice
This is the first book in a series about Sherlock Holmes’s life after the famous Doyle stories. He meets a young woman and as their friendship develops they become involved in various cases/adventures. Interesting characterizations, good dialogue, and a plot involved enough to have me looking forward to the second in the series.

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz
This is a fun, fast-paced, apocalyptic teen novel. The entire book, which is apparently the first part of a series, takes place in a suburban mall. A boy discovers a device attached to the building’s HVAC system and it soon becomes apparent that the whole mall has been exposed to some sort of biological agent in an act of terror. The mall is closed and everyone in it quarantined. Then people begin to die and FEMA pulls out, leaving everyone to fend for themselves, while maintaining an armed cordon around the mall and shutting off all communication with the outside. The book follows several teenagers day by day in the first week of this quarantine and the author shows how normal society on the inside of the mall begins to break down day by day.
whodoyouthinkWho Do You Think You Are? by Megan Smolenyak and others
I was inspired to read this book after attending a genealogy program at the Reisterstown Road Branch, presented by Eva Slezak. I also am a big fan of the NBC television program by the same name as the title. The book not only describes the family history of celebrity personalities, it also gives important facts about how to trace your family roots using census information and other sources. Includes great online sources worth searching. A great tool for novice and experienced researchers!


Between the Covers: More from the Central Library

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Between the Covers: More from the Central Library

giftoffireThe Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin by Walter Mosley
The author of the Easy Rawlins mystery series really seems to hit his stride when he ventures into the human mind. These two stories combined in one book are an intense and exciting questioning of how we morally see the world and where this vision might take us.
--J. G.

Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden
Third-person narratives are not uncommon but when that narrative voice is the spirit of an inanimate object, "Money, Mississippi," the possibilities explode. Bernice McFadden is a craftsman of prose. She will carry you along in a sweeping symphony without any pretension.
--J. G.

Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball
Kimball seamlessly moves between speakers through the notes from Jonathan, the dialogue, and Robert's comments. You start the book knowing Jonathan commits suicide, but the point is why. The character development through "showing" is phenomenal.

Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouserightho
Timeless humor, witty dialogue, and enough British scenes to satisfy the most voracious Anglophile reader.

The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke
Louisiana’s natural world at its best! The beginning of a saga of a man and his growth after alcoholism. Great language and insights.

Refuse to Choose! by Barbara Sherrefusetochoose
This is a great book for anyone who felt they had to choose one path in life. The author really does show you how to do all the things you love.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Loved the way it was written from various characters’ point of view, both protagonist and antagonist. Great read.

rookThe Rook by Daniel O’Malley
This was very approachable Science Fiction for me. A touch of Harry Potter with a fine layer of Bourne Identity, which made this a real page-turner. The offices described seemed very in touch with normal business red tape and politics. Hope there is a sequel on the horizon!
--Cathryn O.

What It Was by George Pelecanos
If there is a genre for guys as a counterpoint to “Chick Lit,” this would be a perfect addition! Very authentic details of the early 70s in D.C.—the music, the cars, the clothes—even the menus at popular restaurants at the time. Good read but gritty.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
I like the author’s style, and she puts more depth into her books than most YA fantasy authors. However, I’m very tired of the “torn between two fabulous guys” trope….

justiceJustice edited by Michael Sandel
A great refresher or intro to classic political philosophy. The world would be a better place if this was taught in elementary schools.

The Firm by John Grisham
This book was nothing like I expected it to be, and that was the most pleasant surprise. I expected boring lawyerly proceedings and instead I got action, thrills, and suspense. Grisham builds up the excitement in the novel, as the reader slowly begins picking up clues that lead to the big picture and the grand finale. He is a master of sucking the reader into his complex web of characters with his engaging and effortless writing style, making you care deeply about a morally questionable lawyer, a one-dimensional female protagonist, and a loquacious convict. This book kept my attention throughout without the need for over-the-top action or crazy firefights. It combined mystery, suspense, and action seamlessly, and proved to be one of the best reads this year.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cainquiet
A must read for introverts and extroverts alike. Introverts will discover how they are not alone in their feelings and views of an over-stimulating world, while extroverts will learn that all that talking is not as impressive as it seems. We need both kinds of people in a balanced world, so it is time to relish the qualities of the quiet ones instead of constantly telling them to speak up unnaturally.

Home by Toni Morrison
I could see this book being a real big movie! A story with a twist and makes you think (why, maybe, who, and because). Was absorbed. Some profanity. Family, relationships, racism, and community are the major themes. You will feel! A very interesting book that I am still processing.

The Jury Master
by Robert Dugoni
A legal thriller that really was hard to put down. Highly recommend.

Blink of an Eye by William S. Cohen
Politics. Conspiracy. Big money. The author, a true insider (Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton), takes you on a thrill ride with detailed insight into the modern reality of how mushroom clouds could be a part of our future.

Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two A, edited by Ben Bova
Eleven "novellas." These are older works by well-known authors. A "fan" of sci-fi might like them all. I found several which could stand alone, published individually. Several I didn't "get." I liked "And Then There Were None" by Eric Frank Russell.

flimflamFlim-Flam Man by Jennifer Vogel
Honest, insightful book written by a woman whose father was a professional conman and major counterfeiter. Very well-written;  spans her lifetime from childhood until her dad's last "job."

Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All by Donald J. Sobol
It's been about 30 years since I've read an Encyclopedia Brown book, but when I heard that author Donald J. Sobol passed away, I thought I'd honor his memory by rereading a childhood favorite. Let me tell you, I was STILL stumped by some of those mysteries! Some of the answers are outdated, but all in all, a quick, fun read that actually got me to think.

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
Saw it first in the movie, book better. A lot of action.

Death in Holy Orders by P. D. James
This was my first P. D. James book, and I was very pleased with it. The author took a lot of effort in detailing the characters of the story, so that finding out the murderer soon gave way to me knowing more about the characters.
--L. L.

Between the Covers: More Choices from the Central Library

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Between the Covers: More Choices from the Central Library

shadowofnightShadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Looked forward to this book all year since reading its prequel. It was so good. Can't believe I need to wait another year for the final book! A little magic, a little history, and lots of intrigue fill the series. Love these books!
--Cathryn O.

Murder of Innocence by Joel Kaplan, Eric Zorn, and George Papajohn
A true crime book about a very mentally ill woman who takes revenge on nearly everyone she'd ever met and goes on a shooting rampage at a school related children attended. Very well written.
--Elizabeth H.

Derniers Vers by Jules Laforgue
This is a brief book of poetry, Laforgue's last work, through which some of his technical ideas came to fruition. I'd checked out some Laforgue before. It's good to investigate him after further francophone study. As with many proto-Moderns, his innovations seem modest, today, & are to be seen in historical context.
--John H.

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewenlies
I highly thank James Loewen who wrote about history being written and taught wrong especially in school. When many of us study (or read) about history--our history--it is not even left to challenge minds not to include all those, too, who made his-story (or hers) like women, colored peoples, and even mentally/physically challenged. The book opens mind and horizons on this "stiff, boring" history! I recommend everyone to read this book!

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
Said to be Crichton's last completed novel, it suffers from being not-completed. It has a plot and some good action sequences; but it seems to be a collection of every element you could think of, if you wrote Pirates of the Caribbean.

Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates
The president of a college confronts her history, 40 years ago, during her first year in office. Psychological, soul-searching exploration of family past.

thispenThis Pen for Hire and others by Laura Levine
Laura Levine was a writer for some of the 70s comedies. She writes the "Jaine Austen" mysteries. Jaine is a freelance writer and part-time private eye. These books are hysterical and make me laugh until I cry. Somehow, Jaine manages to get herself into some crazy situations. Also, I am a cat lover and her cat's name is "Prozac."
--Suzanne B.

The Likeness by Tana French
The Likeness, the second Dublin Murder Squad mystery, focuses on Cassie Maddox. A woman who was Cassie's double, and living under an old undercover alias of hers, is found dead. Her old boss decides to cover up the murder and send in Cassie, undercover as her double. The situation is odd, yet appealing, five outcasts living together as a family and fixing up a Georgian house that was recently inherited by one of them. That Cassie passes as her double with friends this close may not stand up to belief, but I found this to be a very compelling and original novel. French is writing this series so that each book is from a different detective's point of view. When I read In the Woods, the first in this series, I decided I did not like this gimmick or the ending, and was not going to continue, but I'm very glad I did.
--Laurie B.

Hostage by Colin Mason
Written back in the 1970s -- this little gem is an exciting and plausible account of how a nuclear war might start. Unlike many books of this genre, this novel puts his characters in the midst of peril from the bomb -- with one character seriously injured from radiation. The ending is ambiguous and yet satisfying. I am so happy to have discovered this author.
--Jane S.

The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman
A very disturbing book that points out how thoughtlessly we make life choices that later have serious repercussions or cause us to regret or wonder what life might have otherwise been. It also shows how people evade issues of morality for ease and convenience.


Gone Missing by Linda Castillogonemissing
Gone Missing is the latest in a series of four police procedural-thrillers with an ex-Amish police chief of a partly Amish town. Because of her background and personal relationship with a member of the state investigative bureau, Kate is asked to consult on a serial missing persons case involving Amish teenagers. Then an Amish teenager in Kate's town goes missing. The thriller endings of these books are always well done, but Kate does things her own way so much it's hard to imagine she hasn't been called to account. Still there is a story arc between the books and that may be yet to come.
--Laurie B.

Father's Day by Buzz Bissinger
A father travels cross country to all the places they've lived with his developmentally disabled adult son to get to know him better. By the author of Friday Night Lights.

Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
Far more than in the realm of surgery, Complications explores how much we really are unsure of when it comes to making decisions and how much we leave that lack of information glossed over.

The Color of Water by James McBride
This was my first summer read this year -- right after I turned in my grades and put the fan in my window. It's been sitting on my to-read shelf awhile. A lovely book about a young black man raised in a chaotic but loving environment by a white mom and black step dad. In between his story is the story of his mother -- a Jewish woman from the south who made herself into a native New Yorker and raised a large family of kids who became successful happy grownups. It's funny and scary -- and also sad that McBride's mom lost touch with her family -- but she was embraced by the families and friends of her husbands.
--Jane S.

One Mississippi by Mark Childress
This book transports the reader back in space and time to the deep south in the 1970s. A lie is eating away at the Yankee protagonist and sparks a chain of unforgettable events. It is a quirky coming-of-age novel with hilarious characters that will keep you laughing until the dark twists are revealed.

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley by Aleister Crowley
Although many sections are entertaining and some sections are illuminating, this is a miserably long and rambling book, but it and Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn give some of the origins of Wicca. Crowley was a poet, mountain climber, magician, and an avid traveler. This book is part biography, part travelogue, part bibliography (what he wrote when-- and he wrote a good deal) and part magickal/religious instruction. It is nominally in chronological order but in fact jumps back and forth a great deal, explained or excused in the preface by C's magickal relationship to time. Parts are well written and biting, parts are self-absorbed and uninteresting, and apparently it had to be much edited for redundancy because it was written under the influence of heroin. Crowley was born in England in 1873 and died in 1947. He considers himself primarily as a poet equal to Shakespeare, but also, as a mountain climber with one of the two best records in the world, a Buddhist, and later as a prophet of the age in a class with only seven others: Lao Tzu, Siddhartha, Krishna, Tahuti (Thoth), Moses, Dionysius, Mohammed. He advocated for sexual freedom, and his law was: Do What Thou Wilt. This is understandable since his early life was distorted by the religion of his father and the various schools to which he was sent. But sex seems to be a way to poetry and magick. (I am reminded of Sayers: [W]hat is a poet? Something that can't go to bed without making a song about it.) But he seems prone to romantic obsessions, at times anguished by his "freedom." The only emotional reaction to the miscarriage or death of children is his attempt to create a child by magick. There is no real recognition of WW1, except that to deny the suspicion that he was a traitor, and that the date of the armistice had shown up in a reading he did in 1918. I think he spent the bulk of the time in America. He is disturbed by his first wife's alcoholism, and by the dissolution of many friendships and romances. His take on this is that no one lives up to their potential, or is who Crowley idealizes them to be. What is probably true is that they become disillusioned with him. He was probably a very charismatic personality. He was a scholar and he researched, practiced and synthesized various forms of mysticism, notably the Cabbala, Buddhism, freemasonry, Yoga, Tarot, IChing. He thought spiritualism was bunk. He belonged to the Golden Dawn for a while, and then remade the O.T.O, a freemasonry group, with his own vision. Given his nature, it is likely that Crowley has left a body of work that is both true and false, and that it is up to the readers, his students, to discern the difference.
--Laurie B.