Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Series Recommendation: Sarah MacLean's Love by Numbers

A reading confession: I am not a fan of series. Yes, there are series that I love: Harry Potter and The Dark Tower spring to mind. But when every new book that comes out seems to be part of a series... It can all seem too much.

All of this to say: It is impressive, indeed, when an author entices me to read a series.

And the author I'm recommending to you today has convinced me to read two series of books, and I'm all geared up to dive into a third.

Who is this amazing author? Sarah MacLean.

Sarah MacLean writes historical romances that sizzle with wit and passion. Her heroines are sassy. Her heroes are conflicted. Drama ensues from the ballroom to the bedroom and everywhere in between. Every one of her books that I've read has been delightful.

Where to start? My suggestion is her first series, Love by Numbers. There are only three books, and they have all been published, so it's an easy series to dive into and polish off. And believe me, you will want to binge-read these.

The series kicks off with Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. Calpurnia "Callie" Hartwell calls to mind perhaps the best romantic heroine of all time, Elizabeth Bennett, with her indomitable spirit, embarrassing mother, and fiery intelligence. Callie has spent her entire life following society's rules, and all she has to show for it is impending spinsterhood. So she makes a list of the things she would do if not for the consequences, things that men get to do with impunity: Gambling, smoking cheroot... and kissing someone. Passionately. 

 Her list lands her in the path of Gabriel St. John, Marquess of Ralston, on whom Callie has had a crush since her first season, and who trades Callie a kiss in exchange for help acclimating his Italian half-sister Juliana into English society. Many comedic run-ins ensue, perhaps the best of which involves Callie dressing in drag to go fencing at a men's sporting club.

The second book in the series, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord, follows Ralston's twin brother Nicholas St. John on a quest to find a fellow aristocrat's missing sister. His search takes him to Yorkshire, where he encounters Lady Isobel Townsend. She employs St. John's help in appraising some marble statues she owns, but she's concealing multiple scandalous secrets... Including the little sister St. John seeks!

There is plenty of fun to be had in watching St. John's scandalized reactions to Isobel's at times very period-inappropriate behavior--Regency women definitely do no climb onto roofs to do their own repairs!--and in watching Isobel try to conceal various truths from St. John. But it's not all laughs, as MacLean confronts real issues of London society and the way it treats women who violate its strictures.

The series comes full circle, returning to London and to the twins' half sister Juliana Fiori, in Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart. The Duke of Leighton--nicknamed the Duke of Disdain for his arrogance--is scheming to make a good match and distract the ton from the scandal his little sister is poised to bring upon his family. Juliana complicates his efforts considerably. Even as he looks down upon her for being "common," he can't resist her wager that in two weeks' time she will teach his cold English heart the value of passion.

Juliana is a stunning heroine, always at odds with the snobby aristocrats of London, struggling with the pain of her past, and burdened with the knowledge that she will never be accepted. Her spirit is unflappable, even as she withstands shocking reunions, the snobbery of society, and a broken heart.

In romance, we are guaranteed a happily ever after, but even at 85% through Eleven Scandals, I had no idea how the couple was going to get there. I was an emotional wreck throughout this one, laughing and crying by turns. Yes, crying. And I loved every minute of it.

So, if you're looking for a great series to sweep you away this holiday season, Love by Numbers is a great choice. Check them out at your local LPLS branch today! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Return of the Scary Book Lady: More Books for Halloween

Halloween decorations have been in stores since late July. We imagine, for fleeting moments early in the morning and late at night, that the temperatures have gotten cooler. Pumpkin spice everything adorns menus and store shelves. Yes, Fall is upon Middle Tennessee once again, and as dark shadows stretch across land parched by heat--seriously, why is it still so hot??--we crave, once more, tales of the unknown, the eerie, and (dare we say it?) of the spoopy.

Last year I shared some of my favorite horror novels to help you get into the spirit of All Hallow's Eve. It was a really fun post to write, so I decided to resurrect the concept. Shambling onward, arms reaching out, yearning for your braaaiiiinnnsssss, here are my suggestions for your October 2016 reading:

Harrow County Volume 1: Countless Haints by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook
The residents of Harrow County brutally executed Hester Beck, the witch terrorizing their bucolic home. Eighteen years later, as Emmy comes of age in the shadow of the tree where Hester died, horror again creeps into Harrow County. Can Emmy survive being the heir of the witch? This graphic novel collects the first arc of Harrow County and is filled with down-home creepiness, from graveyard ghosts engulfed in flames to a flayed boy and his whispering skin, with plenty of all-too-human horrors in between. The Southern girl in me smiled from the minute I saw "haint" in the title, and the story delivered much of what I expected: eerie characters, folksy atmosphere, and truly beautiful, macabre art. (If you read this and want more, you're in luck: LPLS also owns volumes two and three.)

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
You have to hand it to Quirk Books and Grady Hendrix (Horrorstör): together, they produce some of the most stylish and fun horror on the market today. My Best Friend's Exorcism is like Heathers meets The Exorcist, set in an affluent Charleston high school in the '80s and examining what happens when it-girl Gretchen becomes possessed by a demon who sets out to ruin the lives of everyone around its host. It falls to Abby, Gretchen's best friend since elementary school, to save her despite the scrutiny and disbelief of their classmates and parents. My Best Friend's Exorcism transcends mere scares, becoming, by the end, a surprisingly affecting portrait of female friendship.

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman
I make no secret that Neil Gaiman is indisputably my favorite author ever, and pretty much all of his work contains chilling elements that recommend him for your Halloween reading. (I mean, we're talking about the man who came up with All Hallow's Read, for goodness's sake.) Fragile Things is an especially apt choice for the season, though, containing seasonably-appropriate notables such as "October in the Chair," "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire," and my favorite of all of his poems, "The Hidden Chamber." You're welcome to pick and choose, but I suspect that once you read a few of these stories, you'll want to read the rest. To really capture the tell-me-a-story feeling of his work, check out the audio version of Fragile Things, narrated by Neil himself. His voice makes perfect listening for dark autumn evenings.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Camille Preaker, a newspaper journalist and recovering cutter, returns to her hometown to investigate the murder of one young girl and subsequent disappearance of another. A child victim, strangled, teeth removed... It's grisly stuff, scary enough on its own. But Flynn takes material that could have made a lurid, dime-a-dozen thriller and spins it into a deeply chilling family saga full of her trademark, fascinatingly unsympathetic characters. I tore through this novel, dreading each revelation but powerless to stop turning the pages.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
This is one of those spectacular books that are remarkably tricky to recommend. You want to give the would-be reader enough of a hook to convince them to actually read the book, but if you delve beyond even a shallow synopsis, you risk spoiling the whole thing. So here's all you need to know: Stanislas Cordova is an eccentric cult horror director who has not appeared in public for years. His daughter, former piano prodigy Ashley, is found dead in a Chinatown warehouse, apparently by her own hand. Disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath decides to look into her death, bringing along a whole lot of baggage. Major suspense and creeping dread ensue. You won't be able to stop reading. Check it out now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Recently Added Fiction

Check out these titles that we have recently added to our collection!

Against the Rules by Linda Howard
At seventeen Cathryn Ashe had fought Rule Jackson and lost her innocence, then fled to the anonymity of the city. At twenty-five she was back, sure of herself and her newfound independence and ready to challenge him again.

Boomerang by Noelle August
Welcome to Boomerang.com, the dating site for the millennial gen with its no-fuss, no-commitments matchups, and where work is steamier than any random hook-up.

Chance Developments by Alexander McCall Smith
It is said that a picture may be worth a thousand words but an old photograph can inspire many more. In this beguiling book, Alexander McCall Smith casts his eye over five chanced-upon photographs from the era of black-and-white photography and imagines the stories behind them.

Death of an Outsider by M. C. Beaton
Dreary Cnothan's most hated man is dumped into a tank filled with lobsters then eaten in Britain's best restaurants. Exiled there with his dog Towser, Hamish Macbeth misses his beloved Highland village Lochdubh, Priscilla, and easy lazy days. His superiors want the business hushed up, a dark-haired lass wants his body, and a killer is out for more blood. On TV show.

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh
A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.

Kilt at the Highland Games by Kaitlyn Dunnett
It's July in Moosetookalook, Maine, and Scottish Emporium proprietress Liss MacCrimmon Ruskin is prepping her wares for the annual Celtic heritage festival. But as a sinister crime wave washes over the quiet town, this year's celebration might prove a wee bit more eventful--and deadly--than tartan and bagpipes . . .

The Last Time I Saw Paris by Elizabeth Adler
May 1940. Fleeing a glamorous Manhattan life built on lies, Claire Harris arrives in Paris with a romantic vision of starting anew. But she didn't anticipate the sight of Nazi soldiers marching under the Arc de Triomphe. Her plans smashed by the German occupation, the once- privileged socialite's only option is to take a job in a flower shop under the tutelage of a sophisticated Parisian florist.

Naughtier Than Nice by Eric Jerome Dickey
Readers first met the McBroom sisters in Eric Jerome Dickey’s New York Times bestseller Naughty or Nice. In the highly anticipated sequel, Naughtier than Nice, we find out what happens on the other side of the fairy tale.

Other People We Married by Emma Straub
In this vibrant debut collection, Emma Straub creates characters as recognizable as a best friend, and follows them through moments of triumph and transformation with hilarity, vulnerability, and quietly dazzling insight.

Presumed Puzzled by Parnell Hall
The Puzzle Lady gets more than she bargained for when she’s hired to track down Paula Martindale’s straying husband. She finds him, all right—hacked to pieces on his living room rug, while his blood-drenched wife haunts the crime scene clutching a butcher knife.

Red-Hot Texas Nights by Kimberly Raye
Bestselling author Kimberly Raye's rousing new series continues. Get ready for squabbling kin, steamy nights, and mouth-watering romance...

Sun Kissed by JoAnn Ross
Lani Breslin has had it with the mainland rat race. A free spirit in an eccentric family, she’s returned to her Orchid Island home to live an idyllic life. And if her brother happens to send along a yummy hunk to seduce her? That’s just fine with Lani. 

Time of the Twins (Dragonlance series) by Margaret Weis
The War of the Lance has ended. The darkness has passed. Or has it? One man, the powerful archmage Raistlin, intends that the darkness return.

Vendetta by Lisa Harris
No one needs to push Nikki Boyd to excel on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force. The case of her own missing sister, still unsolved after ten years, is the driving force in her work. When a Polaroid photo of a missing girl shows up at a crime scene, Nikki quickly recognizes similarities to the past. The closer she gets to the abductor, the more she feels this case has become personal, and she is not the hunter . . . but the hunted.

Web of Deceit by Susan Sleeman 
When FBI Agent Kaitlyn Knight discovers her brother-in-law is Vyper—the notorious cyber-criminal and murderer wanted by the FBI—Kait doesn’t question her duty to arrest him. But when he murders her sister in front of her, leaving her infant niece motherless, Kait vows to hunt him down and bring him to justice while raising the baby.

(All descriptions are from Goodreads.)  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

New Memoirs

Sometimes, the best escapism isn't reading happy-go-lucky romances or fantastic adventures. Rather, it's taking a peek into someone else's real life and the challenges they've faced.

If you're looking for a great memoir, try one of these that we've recently added to our collection. They reflect a variety of experiences and points of view, and they are guaranteed to broaden your horizons.

 All synopses used are from Goodreads.

 Boy Erased by Garrard Conley
The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.

When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. 

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just fourteen years old on the day her parents and brother were arrested and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family.

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West
Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible--like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you--writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

Sex Object by Jessica Valenti
Author and Guardian US columnist Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a darkly funny and bracing memoir, Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes from the every day to the existential.

Sex Object explores the painful, funny, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Recently-Added Fiction

Feel like you've read everything in the library? Looking for a new book to get yourself out of a reading slump? Try one of these recently-added books!

Backlands: A Novel of the American West by Michael McGarrity

The second installment of the Kerney Family Trilogy tells a story of strife and survival during the Great Depression.

The Beginning by Catherine Coulter
Two fast-paced FBI thrillers in one! Special Agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock solve high-pressure cases as their relationship heats up.

Behind His Blue Eyes by Kaki Warner
 The first in a brand-new Western romance trilogy from the author of Pieces of Sky!

Brides of Alaska: Three Romances Set in America's Last Frontier by Tracie Peterson
Three inspirational romances set in America's 49th state.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
A young woman leaves her native Ireland for a new life in New York in this historical novel, set in the 1950s.

A Cold Treachery by Charles Todd
Seventh in Todd's ongoing mystery series about a Scotland Yard inspector.

Dang Near Dead by Nancy G. West
A sleuth goes on vacation to a dude ranch, but foul play follows. The second in Aggie Mundeen Mystery series.

Deception by Amanda Quick
Lost pirate gold and legendary love bring excitement to Olympia Wingfield's life in this novel from a beloved author of historical romance.

Escape by Linda Howard
Two novels of romantic suspense in one!

A False Mirror by Charles Todd
Rutledge must prove the innocence of a man he neither likes nor trusts.

The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
This prequel to the Elementary Masters series takes place in 1905. Magic, betrayal, and an earthquake!
Hell or High Water: A Deep Six Novel by Julie Ann Walker
Former Navy SEALs, a CIA agent, and sunken treasure add up to an electrifying novel of romantic suspense.

Hide Yourself Away by Mary Jane Clark
A high-profile murder case provides a career opportunity for a single mom and KEY News intern. The seventh in the KEY News series.

The Kill Switch by James Rollins
A former Army Ranger and his service dog team up to prevent the outbreak of a new and terrifying biological weapon. The first in a series.

Last Diner Standing: A Rose Strickland Mystery by Terri L. Austin
A blue Christmas turns into a tangled investigation in Austin's second Rose Strickland mystery. 

Last Man Standing by David Baldacci
The only survivor of an ambushed FBI Hostage Negotiation Team finds himself under suspicion.

Late for the Wedding by Amanda Quick
A would-be romantic getaway is foiled when a stunning woman from the past resurfaces. The third in the Lake & March trilogy.

Legacy of the Dead: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd
A murder case leads Ian Rutledge to Scotland, where his suspect is a woman to whom he owes a debt. He must tread carefully in this, the fourth in Todd's series.

The Lost Wagon Train: A Western Story by Zane Grey
A shamed and broken Civil War veteran attempts to uphold the values of the Confederacy in the West with the help of a cutthroat band of thieving misfits.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A solitary man finds his reclusive peace disturbed when a young family moves in next door.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Wait! What!? WHAT!? Harry Potter is coming back? 
If you are like me, this is big news. BIG NEWS. It's true, though! Harry is back! We are getting another book to read and obsess over!! 

Here is a little bit of background on how this book has come into existence. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was, first, written as a play by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. Rowling has been actively helping with the play/casting, as well as the book. Now some clarification is needed...The book is, actually, the official script of the play and not an adaptation or rework into a story form. Regardless, we are all awaiting this book's arrival with anticipation!!

But, what is it about? Here is an excerpt from Pottermore:
"It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and a father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places."

I am excited about the book, but I do hope a play is in America's future. Until then I will enjoy spending time with my favorite triplet of friends via the book! If you want to see the play in London or have questions about the play, here is a link to help. Ticket and play info

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

9 Books to Read if You're Obsessed with Hamilton

It happened so quickly: One day, I decided to listen to Hamilton, a musical that I had heard a lot
about, because a friend of mine recommended it. By the next, I had already started memorizing verses from the songs and was officially obsessed. I listened non-stop as though I could never be satisfied. Now I've downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes, and I'm helpless not to queue it up on my phone every time I get in my car.

My experience is not unique. Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical about the life and times of founding father Alexander Hamilton has taken Broadway, the Internet, our hearts, and the Tony Awards like a hurricane and has blown away star-studded audiences. If you're one of the scores of people who have tried with varying levels of success to rap "Guns and Ships," you might be asking yourself "What comes next?" as you burn with curiosity about the real people and events that inspired the show.
(And if you haven't listened to the original cast recording of Hamilton: An American Musical, do yourself a favor and check it out right now. It will change the way you look at the American Revolution and the $10 bill forever. You don't want to say no to this.)

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Of course this will be your first stop. The Hamiltome is a gorgeous book full of pictures, essays, and footnotes on every song. It has been very popular and even sold out on Amazon! (Who even knew that was possible?) If it's checked out, don't throw away your shot; put it on hold and wait for it!

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow 
This is the 800-page biography of Hamilton that Lin-Manuel picked up as a "beach read" (for real) and started the whole thing. The length might seem daunting, but Chernow's vivid and engaging writing helps intimidated readers stay alive through the whole thing.

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
Hamilton was his right-hand man, and he set the precedent for Presidential term limits when he said his second would be one last time. Learn more about the General in this Pulitzer Prize-winning biography.

The Heartbreak of Aaron Burr by H. W. Brands
Intrigued by Aaron Burr, sir? Lin-Manuel has cited this slender historical narrative of Burr's life post-duel as the deciding factor that helped him "unlock" Burr as a character. Brands relies heavily on Burr's personal correspondence, so if you want more "Dear Theodosia" moments, this is the book to read.

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
This is yet another book that Lin-Manuel drew from when composing Hamilton. Ellis examines six crucial events that took place during the early days of the United States, including important instances that made it into Hamilton. Wondering what went on in the room where it happened? Ellis discusses the secretive dinner party that decided the location of the nation's capital.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
Everyone give it up for America's favorite fighting Frenchman! In addition to examining Lafayette's impact on the revolutionary effort in America, Vowell tells the story of his return to the United States in 1824. Vowell is known for her ability to bring out the humor in historiography, so this is a good pick if you want a read that feels lighter without skimping on substance.

The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. EllisFocusing on both big names (such as, oh I don't know, Alexander Hamilton) and lesser-known ones, Ellis examines the struggle to get the fledgling United States on its feet and establish it as a nation after winning independence. Because as we all know: Winning is easy, young man. Governing's harder.

Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry that Forged a Nation by John E. Ferling
Because let's be honest, the cabinet battles are some of the most satisfying moments in the whole play, largely because they pit two brilliant minds against each other. Ferling examines Jefferson and Hamilton's real-life clashes over policy and politics and the lasting effects that their work continues to have on our country.

American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People by T. H. BreenFor me, listening to Hamilton raised a lot of questions not just about the Founding Fathers whose names made it into history books, but about the people whose names we have forgotten but without whom the Revolution wouldn't have happened. Breen looks at what the "middling sorts" were doing during the fight for independence, and in some cases it's pretty eye-opening.