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Amber Smoke

posted by: June 17, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for Amber SmokeBestselling author Kristin Cast teamed up with her mother P.C. Cast to bring you the wildly popular teen series House of Night. Kristin Cast ventures out on her own for Amber Smoke, the first book in her new The Escaped series, written for the new adult audience.

 

Tartarus is more than just an area in the underworld where souls go to be judged after death, it’s also the place that Alek calls home. As the son of the Furies, Alek was born with the mission to save both the mortal realm and his own. In order to accomplish this arduous task, he will need to find and enlist the help of the Oracle.

 

As an average young adult waffling between majors, Eva has no idea that she is anything more than an indecisive college student, let alone an Oracle. She spends her time around the house with her mother, going to classes or hanging out with her best friend, Bridget. Her days are pretty carefree, but only because she’s oblivious to the fact that girls are going missing and turning up dead. With Tartarus on the brink and Alek on a mission, Eva’s world is about to be turned upside down.

 

Amber Smoke is a quick, light read with a clever combination of Greek mythology and contemporary settings. The carefully crafted alternating narrative is engaging, and the cliffhanger will leave you hankering for more.

 


 
 

The Last Good Day of the Year

posted by: June 16, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Last Good Day of the YearIn Jessica Warman’s new teen mystery, The Last Good Day of the Year, 7-year-old Samantha is startled to see a man dressed as Santa Claus enter the basement of her home while her parents host a New Year’s Eve party upstairs. When he abducts her little sister, Turtle, Sam is paralyzed with fear. She thinks she can identify the man as her older sister’s boyfriend, Steven, and she does to police.

 

Ten years later, Turtle’s body has never been found and Steven sits in jail, convicted of her murder. Sam’s family returns to the house where their nightmare took place. Her older sister, coping with a broken marriage, has been acting strangely. Now, a new little girl in a town not so far away has gone missing. Sam has started to question whether or not she was right in pointing the finger at Steven all those years ago.

 

As the story alternates between the night of Turtle’s abduction and 10 years later, Warman weaves an unsettling tale of one family’s tragedy and its far-reaching implications — not just for those closest to the victim, but for an entire neighborhood. As old neighbors try to rekindle their long-dormant friendships, secrets emerge from that night, leaving Sam, with the help of her childhood best friend Remy, to sift through the clues that may lead her to the truth about her sister’s disappearance.

 

Fans of April Henry’s The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die or Chris Crutcher’s Period 8 will enjoy this mystery with its sharp twists and turns.


 
 

Cash Landing

posted by: June 15, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for "Cash Landing"New York Times bestselling author James Grippando has published 23 novels including his latest, Cash Landing. This fictional story is based on the true events that led to the theft of millions of dollars from excess U.S. currency being flown into the U.S. from other countries.

 

Ruban began feeling like a victim when the bank deceived him about fictitious reduced-rate mortgages and then took his home when he couldn’t pay the high mortgage payments. When his friend suggested the idea of robbing a money plane, then, Ruban didn't have to think any before agreeing to mastermind the robbery. In need of accomplices to complete the task, he enlists the help of his hapless brother-in-law, Jeffery and Jeffery's uncle Pinky, a ruthless convicted felon.

 

When the job went off without a hitch, everyone thought they were home free. Before the getaway vehicle cooled off, though, things started to go downhill. A lot of time went into planning the heist, but far less consideration had been made regarding how to lay low afterward. While Ruban thought he had the perfect plan, getting his accomplices to comply was another story altogether.

 

Between Ruban's string of lies, Pinky's compulsion for sex and Jeffery's coke addiction, these three are the world’s worst team. Each turn of the page sees a new disaster, and the real question is who will end up on top.


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The Lost Track of Time

posted by: June 12, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for "The Lost Track of Time"

Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, The Lost Track of Time by Paige Britt is a delightful, charming fantasy perfect for the middle grader.

 

Penelope is an overscheduled young writer who has run out of ideas as well as time to write. One day, Penelope's calendar is completely clear and she is elated! Her mother, however, quickly tries to rectify the mistake. Penelope runs away and falls into "the Lost Track of Time" and discovers the Realm of Possibility where she begins her quest to find the Great Moodler. Being careful to avoid the Clockwatchers, the Naughty Woulds and Wild Bores, she relies on getting Inklings and following Hunches to find her way to Chronos City. Meeting interesting and imaginative creatures along the way, Penelope must use all of her cunning and wits to defeat the evil Chronos, free the Great Moodler and get her writing ideas back.

 

Filled with wonder as well as fabulous illustrations, The Lost Track of Time will touch a nerve with today’s overscheduled world. It is beautifully written with wonderful wordplay, adventure and excitement. Beautiful drawings by illustrator Lee White enhance the already delightful story. Grownups and children alike will adore this novel. Fans of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis will also enjoy this book.


 
 

I Take You

posted by: June 11, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for "I Take You"

Lily Wilder, a contemporary Bridget Jones, has everything going for her in Eliza Kennedy’s debut I Take You. Lily is a dedicated attorney who loves her job. She has great friends, a loving, if non-traditional family, and a flawless fiancé who proposed just several months after they met. Their Key West wedding is now a week away and Lily is finally confronting the reality that marriage may not be right for her. Because monogamy is a bit of a problem for Lily, as she has an insatiable appetite for sex, she has been incapable of fidelity in any relationship.

 

Will is brilliant, sexy and stable, while Lily is a charismatic, impulsive fun seeker. While she works hard, she plays harder and her good times involve copious amounts of booze, drugs and sex – recent hookups include  her boss and one of Will’s groomsmen. She thinks she loves Will, but is not sure she wants to transform herself so dramatically, because she actually likes who she is. In Key West, her family, including her mother and two ex-stepmothers, are all convinced this marriage would be a colossal mistake. As Lily struggles with the decision and her lack of remorse about her lifestyle choices, things come to a head when her future mother-in-law uncovers the truth about Lily’s affairs and her youthful indiscretions. Threatening to ruin both Lily’s relationship with Will and her career, Lily is backed up against a wall.

 

Kennedy’s debut is being hailed as the first big beach book of the summer. It is hugely entertaining, funny and engaging, but it is also an honest exploration of traditional stereotypes and the modern meaning of marriage. Kennedy’s ribald tale introduces a poised and memorable young woman struggling with society’s predetermined roles and rules for men and women with regard to sex, commitment and marriage.


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Recipes for Outdoor Entertaining

posted by: June 10, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for "Endless Summer Cookbook"Cover art for "Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My!"Cover art for "The Norske Nook Book of Pies and Other Recipes"Katie Lee’s Endless Summer Cookbook embodies all the smells and tastes of a warm July day. A West Virginia native, Lee has relocated to the Hamptons, and now co-hosts "The Kitchen" on Food Network. Her enthusiasm for using farmers’ market ingredients in her largely simple recipes shines through. Burger variations, beverages (honeydew margaritas!), and seasonal sides — everything that you can imagine for a summer party is included in this beautifully photographed paean to summer entertaining.

 

Cassie Johnston’s Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My!: Recipes for 40+ Delicious, Super-Nutritious Superfoods combines nutritional research with healthy recipes featuring over 40 superfoods. While the title ingredients have been some of the darlings of the clean-eating food world for the past few years, Johnston, author of the popular Back to Her Roots blog, introduces the reader to many other common superfoods, such as barley, grapes and sweet potatoes. She explains the reasons why a food is considered super, and stresses the importance of looking beyond calories to determine the real value of the plate of food before you. Keep your partygoers nibbling on these delicious and sensible snacks and entrées.

 

And what is a summer party without a table full of desserts beckoning? The Norske Nook Book of Pies and Other Recipes by Jerry Bechard and Cindee Borton-Parker uncovers the recipes of the famous northern Wisconsin restaurants’ pies and treats. Starting with the basics of crusts and puddings, each of the many desserts featured is simply laid out so that the home cook can have as much success as the Nook’s pastry chefs. Rounding out the cookbook are a few “Scandinavian specialities” that harken back to the old country. Sky-high lemon meringues, lingonberry-apple cream cheese and sour cream peach pies will have you throwing caution to the wind and putting your beach body diet off…for one more day.


 
 

Cat Out of Hell

posted by: June 9, 2015 - 7:00am

Cat Out of Hell By Lynne TrussFor pet owners, there are two camps on cats: that they’re either wonderful or they’re evil. Lynne Truss’ new mystery Cat Out of Hell, may very well prove both and in turn, flipping the cat-centered cozy mystery genre on its head. In this reality-bending romp, cats indeed have nine lives, but what they do with their nine lives isn’t what we love to see in cute viral videos online. They’re capable of doing The New York Times crossword, staging elaborate hoaxes and committing murder.

 

When librarian Alec, a recent widower who is missing his wife, decides to open a bizarre email, he is thrown into an unbelievable story about murder, mayhem and possessed cats as agents of Satan. At the center of the story is Roger, a seemingly standard tabby who one day starts to speak. Roger describes in-depth the unbelievable story of his relationship with The Captain, an immortal cat looking for a friend. As The Captain’s obsession with proving Roger is worthy of his friendship grows, he will steamroll any humans out of his way. Victims of The Captain’s grand schemes include Dr. Winterton, the man who sends Alec the email; Wiggy, whose sister (and Roger’s “owner”) goes missing under mysterious circumstances; and even Alec’s own wife Mary. As the story unfolds, property is destroyed and deaths are inexplicably tied to Roger and The Captain — putting Alec’s quiet and comfortable world through the wringer.

 

Told through interviews with Roger, email correspondence and even telepathy, Cat Out of Hell is a bold romp for cat lovers who are looking for something different, cat haters who want evidence that cats are not of this world and readers who love a quirky mystery in a style they have never seen before.


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We All Looked Up

posted by: June 8, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover of "We All Looked Up" by Tommy WallachTommy Wallach’s pre-apocalyptic debut novel We All Looked Up follows four initially loosely connected fellow Seattle-area high school seniors. Peter is a type-A, handsome jock in a bad relationship. While they were juniors, he kissed avant-garde photographer Eliza in the school’s darkroom. Anita, a well-to-do, prim and proper African American serves on the Student Council with Peter, and was recently observed breaking down in the guidance counselor’s office by slacker/skater Andy, whose best friend is also dating Peter’s freshman sister. All of this connected drama is nothing compared to what comes next – the approach of asteroid Ardor to the Earth’s orbit.

 

At first, NASA doesn’t expect Ardor to cause much of a problem to Earth, but when they revise the likelihood of a major catastrophe to two in three odds, each of the teens react in their own way to the impending doom. None of the adults in the teens’ lives are much help, as they too have no idea how to handle the end of the world. Forging their own paths in the final weeks of their lives, each teen decides what is most important and chooses unexpected but interconnected paths.

 

A foreboding darkness imbues much of the contemporary novel, but it is not without humor and bright dialogue. Wallach writes thoughtful and realistic scenes that are relatable to the second decade of our century. Teen readers will consider what their choices might be if a similar catastrophic event befell their own community, and the conclusion will resonate long after the last page is read. 


 
 

Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

posted by: June 5, 2015 - 2:17pm

Cover of "How to be Both" by Ali Smith Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction 2015 BannerFor nearly 20 years, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has been honoring the contributions of women writers around the world for their extraordinary contributions to contemporary fiction. This year’s winner, announced on Wednesday, June 3, is How to be Both by Ali Smith.

 

Prize judges describe the winning book as a story of “grief, love, sexuality and shape-shifting identity.” Two separate narratives, entitled Camera and Eye, take place 500 years apart with a glorious painted fresco as the link to both. Camera is the story of George(ia), a contemporary English teen who is thinking over exchanges with her mother who has since died. Eye tells of Francescho, an Italian girl, also motherless, masquerading as a boy in order to gain entrance as a painter in the 15 century art world. Smith says her inspiration to write How to be Both came from viewing Renaissance artist Francesco del Cossa’s beautiful works.

 

The shortlist of nominees included beloved local author Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, which follows a Baltimore family as its younger generations cope with their aging parents. A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie combines Ottoman Empire history, archaeology, a treasure hunt and romance against the backdrop of World War I. Rachel Cusk was nominated for Outline, a book of revelatory conversations between a woman and an assortment of people who cross her path while she is teaching a writing class in Greece. Rounding out the shortlist are two titles which appeared earlier on Between the Covers: The Bees by Laline Paull, which immerses the reader in an imaginative, totalitarian honeybee hive society; and Sarah Water’s The Paying Guest, which explores the effects of societal constraints on women, resulting in a crime of forbidden passion in post-World War II England.


 
 

Poolside Page-Turners for Nonfiction Readers

posted by: June 5, 2015 - 12:00pm

The MonopolistsThe Great Beanie Baby BubbleAlphabeticalSummer months are the perfect binge-reading time. While many people gravitate to their favorite author’s latest novel, it’s a great time to pick up high-interest nonfiction too. Consider the topics of Monopoly, Beanie Babies and the alphabet as great poolside reading. In The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury and the Scandal behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, New York Times sports reporter Mary Pilon uncovers the true story behind one of the country’s favorite long-lived pastimes. Popular belief says that Monopoly was invented during the Great Depression by an unemployed man from Pennsylvania who made a fortune by selling it to Parker Brothers. In fact, the game’s roots go back to the early 1900s and an unmarried, independent feminist named Lizzie Magie. Politically active and strong in opinion, Magie sought to spread the doctrine of Henry George, a proponent of “land value tax” or “single tax” — the belief that land should be the sole thing taxed, if it had to be owned at all. Magie created The Landlord’s Game in 1904 as a tool to demonstrate the consequences of land grabbing. Pilon follows the evolution of a game that began as “a darling among left-wingers” as it became a fraternity house sensation and then a fascination of wealthy Atlantic City Quakers before being marketed by a Philadelphia businessman and rejected by both Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. Modifications happened all along the way. But that’s far from the end of this story of greed and intellectual property. Reading Pilon’s fascinating history of an equally fascinating game is as entertaining as playing the game itself.

 

Zac Bissonnette follows the rise and fall of an unusual line of collectibles in The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute. If you lived through the '90s, you likely owned at least one of the floppy PVC bead-filled animals with the heart-shaped TY name tags. Beanie Babies were the brainchild of plush toy salesman turned entrepreneur Ty Warner. Originally retailing for $5, they were designed to be an inexpensive impulse buy that children could amass. A creative perfectionist, Warner obsessed over his line, which he saw as “more than a business.” Despite unorthodox practices like demanding payment in full up front from retailers, the company took off. A manufacturing issue with a popular Beanie lamb named Lovie led to its “retirement,” and the beginning of a strategy that propelled the plush toys as in-demand collectibles worthy of investment. Bissonnette captures the excitement of the launch and rise of the Beanies as they became an unlikely American obsession. Bissonnette tells not only the story of the media-shy Warner, but those of employees, retailers and legions of “investors,” making The Great Beanie Baby Bubble a compulsively interesting read.

 

Think of Michael Rosen’s Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story as an ABC book for literary-minded grownups who love language. Make no mistake, this is no “A is for apple” primer. Rosen, a poet, children’s book author and host of BBC Radio’s Word of Mouth, presents 26 chapters of anecdotes, history, personal observations and insights into what he refers to as “a stunningly brilliant invention.” In “C is for Ciphers,” he begins a discussion with crossword puzzles before looking at the roots of modern day codes and encryption. “M is for Music and Memory” notes that the ABC song was copyrighted by a Boston music publisher in 1830, and that mnemonics are another musical or chanted way to use letters. “X Marks the Spot” begins with the bold assertion that the letter X isn’t really necessary at all. A three-page preface to each chapter covers the history of the letter and its lowercase, as well as the pronunciation of its name and the letter in context. Rosen’s interest and enthusiasm in his subject matter is infectious; readers can’t help but be moved to share “did-you-know” bits with those around them. Alphabetical is a book to borrow from the library — until you buy your own copy.


 
 

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