Tag Archives: mystery

National Romance Awareness Month

Don’t let February fool you. August is National Romance Awareness Month. To celebrate, we wanted to read some great love stories besides the classics we know and love.  Here are just a handful of books filled with romance, laughter, missed opportunities, and deception.

One Day by David Nicholls—It’s amazing what a difference one day can make. On July 15, 1988, Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley met.  On the same day for the next twenty years, a snapshot of their relationship is revealed. They face ups and downs and love and missed opportunities.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon—After being torn apart during World War II, Claire Randall and her husband are finally together and on a second honeymoon in the British Isles.  When Claire walks through a standing stone, she is transported to 1743. Among fighting Scottish clans, she meets James Fraser, a young warrior. Together they experience a love so strong that Claire is torn between fidelity and desire.  Part historic romance and fantasy, the Outlander series is a complicated and adventurous love sage.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger—Clare, an art student, and Henry, a librarian, met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six years old. When Clare was twenty-three and Henry was thirty-one, they were married.  Although this is seemingly impossible, Henry is the first person diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder, where his genetic clock is randomly reset and he finds himself misplaced in time.  Since his disappearances are unpredictable, it creates urgency to every moment Clare and Henry can spend together. Can their love endure their unusual relationship?

Love Stories introduction by Rosamunde Pilcher—This collection of romantic tales has stories from great authors, such as John Updike and Rosamunde Pilcher. In John Updike’s “A Constellation of Events,” a woman recounts her first affair. In Catherine Cookson’s  “Miss Geraldine Parkington” is about a woman who proposes to her gardener.  Rosamunde Pilcher’s “Lalla” is on a girl who gives up a modelling career to marry her childhood sweetheart.  Love stories has something for every kind of romantic.

Friends and lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey—Experience the love, betrayal, and friendship of two young men and two young women in Los Angeles.  This funny and heartbreaking story follows their ordinary and not-so-everyday lives.  Friends and lovers gives an honest portrayal of contemporary love, friendships, and the gender gap.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Don Tillman is a brilliant but socially inept  genetics professor looking for love without much luck. In order to find the perfect woman he creates the Wife Project, a survey designed to weed out the smokers, the drinkers, and the chronically late.  When he meets Rosie, he automatically disqualifies her for the Wife Project; but, Rosie came to Don asking for help to find her biological father. While working with Rosie on the Father Project, Don quickly realizes that love cannot be quantified.

The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Santa Montefiore—Grace Hamblin’s life is safe and secure until her father dies.  She falls in love and marries her childhood friend, Freddie. He takes on Grace’s father’s duties; and, Grace is grateful, except there’s another man she can’t get off her mind. Years later, their daughter Trixie falls in love with a wild musician, Jasper, whose band might make it big. When Jasper’s brother dies, he is called home to England. Before he leaves, he asks Trixie to wait for him. Confident he will return for her, Trixie refuses to listen to her mother’s advice.  As both mother and daughter search for love and happiness, they must confront their past to change their future.

The Rocks by Peter Nichols—A mysterious and traumatic secret tears two young honeymooners apart on a small Mediterranean island. For sixty years, they never spoke to each other, despite living on the same island. Decades after they part ways, their children (unrelated) are drawn together in a Romeo & Juliet inspired affair. The Rocks is a multi-generational love story and mystery that slowly unravels as it moves back in time to the moment that started it all.

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer—The Toledo Institute of Astronomy is a premiere center for astronomical discover and research. Here, George Dermont searches the stars for proof of the existence of God.  Irene Sparks, another scientist in the institute, creates black holes in captivity.  While they share much in common and long for a connection with a partner, their differences keeps them apart.  Irene and George were raised separately to be each other’s soulmates; and, their chemistry together is palpable.  Will the two astronomers ever discover the truth of their destinies and find out if their love is written in the stars?

A Lover’s Vow by Brenda Jackson—Dalton Granger is passionate and handsome; but, Jules Brandshaw, a private investigator, is not impressed with his player reputation. Dalton is determined to show Jules that he’s more complicated than his reputation and prove that he’s an honest and devoted son and brother. As Jules and Dalton work together to save his family and their legacy, they grow closer together and realize there is even more at stake then what they imagined.

For these and other great books to bring a little romance to your life, stop by the 2nd floor of the library.


Fairy Tales for Grown-ups

Spring is a wonderful season.  After a long, dreary winter, the world is new and magical again. As we enjoy the spring season, our thoughts turn to  fairy tales. Here’s a short list of fantastical stories written for adults to bring some magic to your life.

The big over easy by Jasper Fforde  Follow Detective Jack Spratt and his partner, Sergeant Mary Mary, of the Nursery Crime Division, as they investigate the death of Humpty Dumpty. Half mystery and half fantasy, Fforde’s nursery crime books incorporate familiar fairy tale characters into funny stories of mystery and intrigue. The next book in the series, The fourth bear, is a mystery involving Goldilocks, the three bears, and a maniacal gingerbread man.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman  Gaiman is the master of the modern myth. This novel smartly blends fantasy, Americana, and myth into a story that examines the American culture. According to the story, gods and mythological creatures only exist because we believe in them.  As people immigrated to America, they brought the gods of their home countries with them. American culture is changing and the old gods are disappearing to make room for the “new” gods, such as media, technology and celebrity. Join the main character, Shadow, on his fantastical road trip across the country as he helps rally the gods of the past to fight the new American gods.  For more great books by Gaiman, check out The ocean at the end of the lane, Fragile thingsAnansi Boys, Stardust,  or Neverwhere.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman What’s a fairy tale list without a little romance? Read the timeless story that inspired the classic movie. The beautiful Buttercup lives in the country and one day falls in love with a farm hand, Wesley. When Wesley goes off to find his fortune so the two can be married, his ship is taken over by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Buttercup abandons hope that Wesley will return to her; but, is their love story over?

The snow child: a novel  by Eowyn Ivey  Jack and Mabel are desperate for a child. One day, they find a young girl wandering around the woods by their home in the Alaskan wilderness. They take the little girl in. As the couple takes care of the girl and falls in love with her, what they learn will change their lives forever.

Confessions of an ugly stepsister by Gregory Maguire  In this beautiful re-imagining of the Cinderella story, Iris, her mother, and her sister,  are cast from their home in England and are forced to take refuge in the Netherlands. Iris’s mother tries to improve her family’s station and marries a painter. As the story begins to transform  into the classic Cinderella story we all know, characters and their motivations are re-examined to tell a sympathetic tale. For more great stories, check out Wicked, the book that inspired the Broadway musical and the rest of the books about the Wicked years (Son of a Witch, A lion among men, and Out of Oz) .

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern In Victorian England, a mysterious circus travels from town-to-town. No one knows when it will arrive. The black and white tent opens at sunset and closes at sunrise before moving onto the next town.  Within this beautiful, mysterious circus, two young magicians, Marco and Celia, are raised to be masters of their craft.  The two fall in love, beginning a series of events that will leave the circus performers and patrons in the balance.

Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi  Mr. Fox is a writer with a problem: he can’t stop killing off the heroines in his stories. One day his muse, Mary, comes to life and confronts him for his creative choices.  Fantasy, reality, literature, and love are all examined in this inventive novel.  For other whimsical stories by Oyememi, try  Boy, snow, bird : a novel , White is for witching, and The Icarus girl.

Now that you have a magical story to read, enjoy it outside or in your garden. Be sure to keep an eye open for fairies!

Action, Adventure, and Women Protagonists!

I must confess, I love James Bond; he is witty, debonair, and gets to drive all of those classy cars. Now, I have found some classy fictional women who pull their own comparatively, but without the cars and martinis.

I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with Stephanie Plum, and if you’re not, shame on you! Just kidding! She’s classy in a Jersey way, quick on her feet (sometimes), and has a great sense of humor. There are cars, but they usually don’t remain functional for too long, if you know what I mean. Janet Evanovich’s latest adventure is  Notorious Nineteen. But if you love Stephanie Plum, I have other amazing women sleuths to introduce you to!

Lisa Lutz has created a series, starting with The Spellman Files.  Who are the Spellmans, you ask?  Just a family whose members all work in the family private detective business.  Of course, they are all just a bit dysfunctional, and find issues with each other and their clients, but they should make you laugh.

Kat Richardson’s  series introduces us to Harper Blaine, a private investigator. The first title in this series is Greywalker and is fantasy, but action packed and a refreshing take on mystery solving. Harper Blaine becomes a greywalker, able to walk both the world of the living and the dead as a result of an accident in the beginning of the series.

Carolyn Haines has created Sarah Booth Delaney.  The first book in the Bones series is called Them Bones. Sarah has a lot in common with Stephanie Plum in the beginning of her series: she’s single, jobless and broke! But Sarah is haunted by the ghost of her great-great-great grandmother’s nanny and she falls into detective work after a bout of innocent criminal activity!

K.J. Larsen’s  creation is Cat DeLuca and her mystery series begins with Liar, Liar. Cat is a recently divorced Private Investigator and owns her own detective agency, catching other people’s cheating partners and more!

Charlaine Harris has written the Harper Connelly series, among others, but this one begins with Grave Sight. Harper has a unique ability to find the dead. As you can imagine, this can be a pretty nifty gift given the right circumstances, but Harper typically finds cold receptions and threats made against her as she tries to make a living helping put the dead to rest.

For more serious series:

Mallory’s Oracle is the first in a series by Caroll O’Connell. Mallory is a NYC police officer who follows her own rules. People who like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series would like Mallory.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith is the first of many in this series.. African detective, Precious Ramotswe, is devoted to helping others and quickly becomes involved in solving mysteries in her home, Botswana.

Check out Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. Kay Scarpetta is a forensic analyst and medical examiner whose investigative work often makes her the target of her victims’ murderers. Start with Postmortem to meet Scarpetta for the very first time.

Tess Gerritsen is the author of the  Rizzoli & Isles series, beginning with The Surgeon. This is a thrilling and suspenseful series that involves a female Boston homicide detective and is chock full of forensic investigative material.

Hope this is enough to keep your adrenaline levels up!


Let the shopping begin!

This list of books will do one of two things….  get  you all revved up for Black Friday shopping madness OR let you enjoy that madness vicariously.  The best part is you won’t have to spend a cent to get these books.  They are yours to enjoy from your Southfield Public Library!

In the food based mystery Chopping Spree the author,  Diane Mott Davidson,  will take you to the premier shopping event of the season.  Yet, in the middle of all the luxury and high prices…. MURDER!

Alex Kava’s book, Black Friday,  shows how idealistic students plan to carry out a protest on the busiest shopping day of the year.  That protest turns violent and investigators soon uncover a deeper plot than first believed.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, and its many sequels, follow the path of  Becky, a financial advisor who doesn’t follow her own advice.

Best of Everything is Kimberla Lawson Roby’s  take on a pastor’s wife who is used to the finer things in life and finds herself living beyond her means.

The Sistahood of Shopaholics is a collection of short stories all centered around….. shopping!


Happy Reading!

I’ve been waiting….

  I’ve been on the hold list for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for a while….  like lots of other patient readers! But, I think it will be worth the wait.  Booklist Magazine gave it a starred review…. 

When Nick Dunne’s beautiful and clever wife, Amy, goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, the media descend on the Dunnes’ Missouri McMansion with all the fury of a Dateline episode. And Nick stumbles badly, for, as it turns out, he has plenty to hide, and under the pressure of police questioning and media scrutiny, he tells one lie after another. Juxtaposed with Nick’s first-person narration of events are excerpts from Amy’s diary, which completely contradict Nick’s story and depict a woman who is afraid of her husband, has recently found out she’s pregnant, and had been looking to buy a gun for protection. In addition, Amy is famous as the model for her parents’ long-running and beloved children’s series, Amazing Amy. But what looks like a straighforward case of a husband killing his wife to free himself from a bad marriage morphs into something entirely different in Flynn’s hands. As evidenced by her previous work (Sharp Objects, 2006, and Dark Places, 2009), she possesses a disturbing worldview, one considerably amped up by her twisted sense of humor. Both a compelling thriller and a searing portrait of marriage, this could well be Flynn’s breakout novel. It contains so many twists and turns that the outcome is impossible to predict.–Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

 Another I can’t wait to get is called The Twelve by Justin Cronin.  This is the sequel to  The Passage, a great big scary, exciting read.  I’d recommend catching up on this one and then add your name to the list for book #2.  That one is out this fall.

 What happens in The Passage?  Well, life as we know it ends…. Here’s an excerpt from Booklist’s review from 2010

 In this apocalyptic epic that begins in a gloomy near-future, gasoline is $13 a gallon; New Orleans has become an uninhabitable, toxic swamp after a series of devastating hurricanes; the U.S. is steadily losing the war on terror; and the future of humanity hinges on the actions of a young girl. Six-year-old Amy Harper Bellafonte, abandoned to the care of Memphis nuns by her prostitute mother, and her protector, disillusioned FBI agent Brad Wolgast, are at the epicenter of a battle to preserve the human species after a government military experiment to create a super-soldier goes awry. Using an exotic virus found deep in the South American jungle, scientists have discovered that it has the ability to bestow vast strength and instantaneous healing abilities on humans, with one serious side effect: it turns its victims into bloodthirsty (literally) monsters.

 Exciting reading times ahead for me.   Want to join  me?