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We invite the public to post reviews to our catalog by logging into our online catalog. Reviews will then be posted to this blog. Comments can be added to existing posts or may be added as separate reviews on our catalog
NOVEMBER 29, 2010
Who will be the Winner?
From time to time I mention literary awards on this blog. Here's one that any self-respecting author may not want to lay claim to winning.

It's the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, and is given by Literary Review each year.

The 2010 nominees:

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (4th Estate)
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Atlantic Books)
The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon (Atlantic Books)
Maya by Alastair Campbell (Hutchinson)
A Life Apart by Neel Mukherjee (Constable & Robinson)
Heartbreak by Craig Raine (Atlantic Books)
The Shape of Her by Rowan Somerville (W&N)
Mr Peanut by Adam Ross (Jonathan Cape).

The award will be presented to the winner on the 29th November at a ceremony at the In & Out Club in St James's Square.

Recently on LitLovers Blog,  Molly Lindquist tossed a book due to a bad, though funny sex scene. You can read her comments in this post
Toss It! — that g#*&~! book.

I haven't read any of these but know I must have come across one that me cringe sometime in my reading life.

If you've read any cast your vote or feel free to nominate your own title.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


NOVEMBER 27, 2010
This is Dedicated...

Library Mouse
Daniel Kirk
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., c.2007

For my friends at the Glen Ridge Library, the kids at Glen Acres School,
and all the librarians and teachers whose joy it is to help us discover
a world of imagination through reading and writing.

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NOVEMBER 24, 2010
BookBrowse, ~ A Great Place to find a Good Book

If you’ve been using BookBrowse from our website, I wonder if you have read or signed up for the newsletters. There are several and I love them all. This week I got email notification that the latest copy of BookBrowse Recommends was available and was just blown away by the content. What I love is that in addition to some great book suggestions, there are these incredibly detailed sidebars with truly interesting information. 

Take Snakewoman of Little Egypt: A Novel by Robert Hellenga. The sidebar is all about religious snake handling and it is a fascinating history. Need more? There’s also an embedded video featuring snake handlers at Jolo, West Virginia. Snakewoman has earned two thumbs up from the critics and two thumbs up from the folks at BookBrowse. I personally don’t take their good words lightly. Snakewoman’s on my list of TBR’s and can be found at our library.

You’ve got to take a gander at Heliopolis by James Scudamore. The side bar here describes the favelas of Brazil as this is part Scudamore’s novel. Also included are some eye-opening pictures of what some real favelas look like.

Dark Water, a young adult novel by Laura McNeal is about Fifteen-year-old Pearl DeWitt and her mother live in California, where her uncle owns a grove of 900 avocado trees. Migrant workers are hired regularly and Pearl pays little attention to them until Amiel comes along. The two begin a forbidden romance. The, a searing wildfire strikes and a mandatory evacuation is executed. BookBrowse points out that this story is based on two true events. Laura McNeal has experienced her own wildfire and not been able to reenter her home for several days. “The plot of the book, she said, came from an actual rumor that spread through the migrant workers in her community. Many of them wouldn't evacuate during the fire because they were afraid that the border patrol would apprehend them.”

The sidebar provides some fascinating information about a condition called Heterochromia as Pearl has one brown eye and one blue eye.

Read the newsletter at You can find current editions of BookBrowse Recommends under the heading Online Magazines. While on the site take a look around. There is so much more than I mentioned in this short bit of praise.

BookBrowse is not your grandfather’s plain ol’ vanilla book site. So if you need a good book to read give BookBrowse a try. BookBrowse is available to all residents of Columbia, free of charge, 24/7.

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NOVEMBER 22, 2010
Foyle's War ~ Murder Mysteries at their Best!
   Foyle's War   reviewed by Freddy

Looking for a mystery/detective series that features the English countryside, the entire series of Foyle's War is for you! Based on true historical events leading up to WW 11, the series focuses on murderous events in the British town of Hastings. Wonderful characterizations throughout each of the"programs". Enjoy

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NOVEMBER 21, 2010
This is Dedicated...
Spiegal & Grau, c2010

To Gloria Carter and Adnis Reeves
Without your love and love for music none of this would be possible

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NOVEMBER 19, 2010
National Book Award Winners ~ 2010
In case you haven't heard, The National Books Award Winners for 2010 were announced this past week. Like any good race horse, Jaimy Gordon's Lord of Misrule, just released this week, came out of nowhere to win the top prize in fiction. Beating all odds, McPherson, an independent publisher, picked a true winner.

The novel features, Lord of Misrule, a rundown black racehorse, who doesn't realize he's a long shot and gives his all.

We were caught by surprise like many others and just ordered our copy yesterday.

Be the first to reserve Lord of Misrule here.

Other 2010 winners:

Nonfiction:  Just Kids/Patti Smith
Poetry:  Lighthearted/Terrance Hayes
Young Adult Literature: Mockingbird/Kathryn Erskine

Listen to the acceptance speeches and author interviews on The National Book Award website.

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Category: Awards


NOVEMBER 18, 2010
Waiting for Columbus ~ Thomas Trofimuk


Here's another book that defies the star system for me. It's somewhere between a 4 "I really liked this and a 5, “it was awesome”. Early on, I wasn’t quite certain how I felt about this book.  I found myself confused initially, perhaps because I was reading a few pages at a time. Over the weekend I was finally able to get down dirty and read!

I had first heard about Waiting for Columbus on a Booksonthenightstand  podcast.. Ann Kingman raved about it not only once but at least two other times that I recall. I respect Ann’s opinion so knew this would be on my list. But what really sealed the deal was reading a listener’s comments posted by Ann.  Tanya talks about this book in a post titled A Story Too Good to Stay Buried in the Comments.

Though I’ve linked to the post I’m also gong to copy it in its entirety here at the end of my comments.  I really don’t want you to miss this one.

Simply put it is a novel about a psychiatric patient in a hospital in contemporary Spain who claims to be Christopher Columbus, and the nurse who listens to his stories in an attempt to understand him. But don't let the simplicity fool you. The tale winds back and forth in time and over continents and oceans like a cresting wave. This Columbus is not the Columbus of my school books. Here, he is a man with many desires, not only the quest for adventure and finding the new world but also a voracious lover of women. I feel like a voyeur listening in as he relates his story to Consulea, his nurse.

Be certain to set aside some time to get into it. It merits a few more pages than usual to get hooked. It is one beautiful story.  

Borrow Waiting for Columbus, the book or the audiobook at our library.

Story Too Good to Stay Buried in the Comments
By Ann Kingman

If you’ve ever blogged, you know that it can sometimes feel like a lot of work. I confess that there are many times when I’d rather be reading a book then blogging about reading a book. But then, every so often, I am reminded of the incredible community that has sprung up here, and I realize that I get so much from your participation that it could never really be just “work”.

I had an experience like that just recently. It happened in the comments of Josh Christie’s post Bring on the Tears. Tanya’s comments, and subsequent expansion on those comments, were so powerful that I had to pull them out and give them their own space.

In his post, Josh asked, “What book made you cry?”. Tanya, who works for an audiobook publisher, answered:

This year I read WAITING FOR COLUMBUS (by Thomas Trofimuk) which had such a powerful denouement that I broke down, as did my husband who narrated it (in fact, you can hear him break down on the recording. He wanted to go back and “fix” it, but it was such an honest reading that when he tried to “pull back” it ended up sounded fake! So, the original reading stands…)

I feel like I’ve known Tanya for a long time, thanks to her interaction with us here at Books on the Nightstand, but I had no idea that her husband was an audiobook narrator, and had no inkling that he narrated this book that I loved so much. Of course, I needed to know more, so I asked Tanya to tell us the whole story.

Here it is:

“Last April you mentioned WAITING FOR COLUMBUSin a blog/podcast. That’s all you did, mention it, but for some reason I became obsessed with it. I literally couldn’t wait until August to read the book, but I had no way to legitimately, personally, request an Advance ReadingCopy from the publisher, so… I asked my boss to look into getting a galley. I was shocked when he came back and told me that our company had acquired the audiobook rights for the book!

The manuscript came to Blackstone and I was so excited, but I was soon thwarted in my attempts to pre-read it! My husband, Grover Gardner, who is the studio director for the company, always vets the galleys in order to make casting choices. He got the first crack at Waiting For Columbusand after reading the first chapter, insisted that he himself was going to narrate! He pre-read the whole of the book and finished right before dinner one night. Fork midway between plate and mouth, he stopped, started crying and left the table. He walked the dog for an hour and a half. All because of Waiting For Columbus. Of all the books he has narrated, this had never happened before. When he came back from his “time-out” I suspiciously queried him as to whether the book was that maudlin. He shook his head and only said “You’ll see.”

I insisted on being the recording engineer for the book. We were in the booth. The first “land mine” hit and I was affected, but okay. The second land mine hit and I could barely hold it together. Grover, even though he had already read the book, fell apart again. It is not maudlin, but beautifully and powerfully written. The book has become a very personal experience for each of us and both of us.

Even now, months after we cut the master, I can quote certain passages and there is one passage in particular which still sends me into a paroxysm of emotion. The book had another impact on me in a much more general way: I now search out books written by poet-novelists. I’ve come to appreciate Ondaatje’s and Margaret Atwater’s word crafting in particular, but it was Thomas Trofimuk’s words that found their way to my heart first.

Anyway, that’s probably way more than you wanted to know, but there it is.
For those who may be interested in the audiobook, you can listen to a sample at the Blackstone Audiobooks page for the title.

Tanya, thank you so very much for sharing your story. It’s amazing, and moving, and I can’t wait to listen to the audio with your and Grover’s experience in mind.

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NOVEMBER 15, 2010
Ann Littlewood ~ In the Author's Own Words

Please welcome guest blogger, Ann Littlewood, author of two Zoo Mysteries, featuring zookeeper, Iris Oakley. Littlewood, herself a zookeeper for twelve years at the Oregon Zoo is able to recapture her love of animals and zoos through her writing. We're looking forward to more adventures from this author.

Night kill & Did not survive


How I Came to Write Zoo Mysteries

Ann Littlewood

I’m an example of the power of the right book. While I was in college, a fellow student raised some cash by selling me his copy of Management of Wild Animals in Captivity by Lee S. Crandall. Copyrighted 1964, it was the first effort to pull together all the information available about keeping exotic animals alive and well in zoos. I was a psychology major mostly because I got to do behavioral research with pigeons and monkeys, and this book fascinated me. I still remember odd bits, such as how to lay the cement for a giraffe yard to avoid slipping—"swept when freshly laid with a coarse broom." Yes, I still have the book. It planted a seed that affected my life.

A few years after college, the seed germinated, and the lure of beautiful and strange species at Oregon Zoo inspired me to wrangle a job there as a zoo keeper. For twelve years, I worked in the nursery and raised baby cats such as servals, sand cats, and cougars, plus a lioness and a tiger. We taught orphaned deer to nurse from a pop bottle, pushed smelt down the throats of abandoned baby harbor seals, and nursed little bears back to health. One of our biggest stars was a baby hippo that became injured in his exhibit and had to be hand-raised.

After many years and many critters, it became necessary for me to move on. Next came a rewarding career in corporate America working as a technical writer and then as a publications manager. But I missed the zoo world and always wanted to return, if only by visiting zoos and in my imagination.

Somewhere along the line, the seed from Lee Crandall’s book hybridized with my life-long love of mysteries. My early reading memories include Erle Stanley Gardner, Nero Wolfe, and Ellery Queen. Josephine Tey and Ngaio Marsh and Agatha Cristie soon followed. I loved how mysteries could lead me into worlds I knew nothing about.

After a long germination, my first zoo mystery, Night Kill, grew from blending these two passions. Now it has a sequel, Did Not Survive, with others planned. It’s great fun to invent Finley Memorial Zoo and to stock it with any animal I want. It’s challenging to invent a story that will interest and puzzle mystery fans, a wily and sophisticated audience! In Did Not Survive, I was able to explore the issues around keeping elephants in captivity, with a denouement that highlights a surprising threat to many wild animals. The protagonist, zoo keeper Iris Oakley, is pregnant in this one, so I got to re-live my own two pregnancies as a zoo keeper—the worries about diseases from animals and the problems of finding a uniform big enough. As for the mystery, Iris must redefine everything she thought she knew about her boss.

Night Kill focused on big cats and the end of Iris’s marriage, Did Not Survive on elephants and her pregnancy, and now I’m thinking about parrots, especially macaws, and romance. Iris is a single mother with a demanding job. If she ever gets a decent night’s sleep, she’s likely to realize that she’s lonely and misses having a man in her life. Her romantic choices have been a little erratic, so there’s likely trouble ahead.

Lee Crandall might be surprised to know where his magnum opus led, but I think he would be pleased that, while my means is an engaging puzzle, my goal is to encourage others to appreciate animals and to participate in protecting them and their habitats. That would be no mystery to him.

Add a comment  (4 comments) posted by CarolK

Category: Meet the Author


NOVEMBER 14, 2010
This is Dedicated

Change of Heart

Jodi Picoult
Atria Books, C.2008

With love, and too much admiration to fit on these pages

To my grandfather, Hal Friend, who has
always been brave enough to question what we believe...

And to my grandmother, Bess Friend,
who has never stopped believing in me.

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NOVEMBER 12, 2010
Mountain Between Us ~ Charles Martin

Mountain Between Us ~ Charles Martin

Darn the stars...Yes, I really liked this book but the stars always give me problems. I just want to tell you why I liked the book and not have to rate it. One day I feel one way and the next, perhaps, differently.

I have been racking my brain this week, trying to remember how Charles Martin first showed up on my radar. I know that I purchased a few of his books for our library based on reviews. They sounded like pleasant reads that might appeal to our members who like inspirational or gentle reads, feel good novels, heart-warming stories or something without violence. You know the kind of book I mean. They seemed to be sitting on our shelves but were getting interlibrary loaned all the time. This made me more curious about their content but I still hadn't picked up one myself or noted who was reading them and I hadn't heard anyone's feedback. One day a woman asked for a nice story. She was tired of books filled with blood and guts and needed a change. I suggested Charles Martin and asked that she let me know what she thought. She read one and was hooked. Now, I felt obligated to read one too.

I chose The Mountain Between Us as the premise sounded interesting. Ashley Knox and Dr. Ben Payne are stranded at the Salt Lake City Airport one stormy night. Each has their reasons for wanting to get home. Ashley is getting married and Ben has lots of surgeries awaiting him. Ben charters a plane and invites Ashley to accompany him. Mid-flight the pilot has a heart attack, the plane crashes, leaving only Ben, Ashley and the pilot's dog, Tank, surviving, but with serious injuries. What appealed to me immediately was the description of the book. In a nutshell the word adventure jumped out at me. I love a book with adventure.

Here's what I really liked about Mountain Between Us. I loved the authors descriptions, his beautiful passages and his obvious respect for women and marriage. I liked the dialog between the characters and their strength in what seemed liked unsurmountable odds. I enjoyed a story well told. Was it perhaps a bit predictable or a schmaltzy love story as one critic thought? Take a leap of faith and just enjoy the story.

I think you would classify this book as Christian but I saw it more as faith based and would not want to pigeon-hole the author in any one genre.

It was just what I needed at the time. I'll definitely try another of Mr. Martin's books. If you've read any I'd like to know your thoughts.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


NOVEMBER 10, 2010
Simply the Best

We haven’t even gotten the turkey on the table…I bet you thought I was going to say and stores are putting out their Christmas decorations. Well, that may be true but what I’d like to talk about here is a different kind of wrap up. Drum roll please, It’s the Annual Best Book Lists marathon. Now don’t get me wrong. I love these lists even though I realize I don’t have a prayer to read even a tenth of what will make the lists (even considering duplicates). I look forward to the one compiled by my fiction_l (a list for library staff worldwide) colleagues though we will wait until the year end before casting our votes for best. After all there’s still two months to find a gem to recommend. I definitely will scan the myriad of others that will pop up seeing what I might have missed for purchase or to add to my own TBR pile.

Here’s a few of the published lists trying to get a head-start before the storm soon to come. 

Amazon's Best Books far

Publisher's Weekly Best Books 2010
Publisher's Weekly must have done tons of reading this year as they picked a whopping 100. You'll also find a more doable list of 10 and a link to the tops in children's literature too.

Library Journal's first venture into the foray including a mix of both fiction and no-fiction.

Early Word
This site does a nice job of summing up what's on all the lists and what's not. 

Have you read any of these that made all three lists? Comments? I'd love to hear what you think.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Crown)
#1 on Amazon, also on LJ, PW

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (Random)
#5 on Amazon, also on LJ, PW

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
6 on Amazon, also on LJ, PW — FREEDOM IS #1


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NOVEMBER 8, 2010
Faithful Place ~ Tana French

I’m becoming a big fan of Tana French. This is her third winner for me. Even though it took me quite awhile to finish Faithful Place, I really liked this story. So why not a 4 or 5 star. I think I'm also becoming a bit more fussy about doling those stars out. I liked it but can't say it was incredible.

I have fallen for French’s style, slow and developing, lots of detail, characters you can relate too, and good dialogue. There’s a mystery, you know, someone dies, who did it, but that’s not what’s important here. You want to learn more about the characters, what motivated them, how they got from one place to the other. Don’t get me wrong. I did want to know who killed Rosie Daly. Two young lovers, Frank Mackey and Rosie Daly make a lover’s pack to secretly flee their dysfunctional families and distressed neighborhood in Dublin to go to England. Frank waits for Rosie throughout one long night for Rosie to appear. When she doesn’t show, he thinks she’s dumped him. Eventually he seemingly goes on with his life, moves away, marries, has a child, and becomes a cop. But he continues to carry the torch for his one great love which causes him problems in his present relationships. Twenty-two years later he gets a call from his sister that a body has been found in his old neighborhood. He’s once again drawn back to the home he thought he left behind, to have all the wounds reopened and stirred up once again.

Faithful Place is definitely a story about family relationships, lost love, promises, trust, and the hurt one can do to another. It begs the question can you ever really go home again. French is at the top of my favorites list. I can’t wait for her next book. I hope her publishers give her the time to write another book with the depth of the first three.

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NOVEMBER 7, 2010
This is Dedicated...

Whatever you do, don't run :true tales of a Botswana safari guide
by Peter Allison

This book is dedicated to anyone who works to protect wild
places and the animals within them, but  in particular to the safari
guides who taught me so much.

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NOVEMBER 3, 2010
Cold Case ~ Linda Barnes

Sometimes books get on my  TBR piles in the strangest ways. A few years ago I did a library display on Cold Cases. If you’ve read anything I’ve reviewed you’d probably know I love to read about these unsolved missing person cases. Anyway, I bought the book Cold Case by Linda Barnes for that display. It was not the greatest copy so I circulated it and then threw it on my book shelves meaning to read it in the near future. . A few weeks ago I decided my book shelves could use some weeding and I came across the book. I couldn’t bear to part with it so back it went only now to stare me in the face as there was room for it to be seen. I vowed to read it soon. I’ll bet that promise would have gone unheeded if not for Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers by Nancy Pearl. In this collection with selections for us traveling dreamers, Nancy recommends Cold Case for books taking place in Boston. To quote she gives this teaser "For personal reasons (which you'll totally understand when you read the novel), my favorite Linda Barnes's Carlotta Carlyle series remains Cold Case".


No more excuses. I read the book. First, let me say I’m not much of a series fan and this one falls number 7 of the 14 in the series. Well, at least I wouldn’t be starting at the end. Cold Case stands alone well enough. It might have been better to have a bit more background about the main PI, Carlotta Carlyle, but I managed . Carlotta's a former cop, red haired and tough, but not as wise-cracking as some female PI’s in other series. I appreciated this as sometimes those too smart, kick a__ women don't ring true to me. The streets of Boston are well represented in the tale. Some of the fun of Cold Case was that it was published just long enough ago not to be filled with Internet searching and cell phones and the big dig. The story kept my interest and the cold case had some twists I didn’t see coming so all in all, a solid 3 out of 5 from me. Will I read another? Possibly.

And as to Nancy Linn Pearl’s involvement with the story, this mystery was not revealed until the very end. If I was one of those people who read an ending first, it would have saved me shaking my head throughout trying to figure the role Pearl would play.

Sorry, I’m not going to tell. You’ll have to read it like I did and no peeking!

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NOVEMBER 1, 2010
Michael C. Dooling ~ In the Authors Own Words

Please welcome guest blogger, Michael C. Dooling, author of

Clueless in New England

Workin’ on Mysteries without Many Clues
By Michael C. Dooling
My work on Clueless in New England started about 20 years ago when I read an anniversary article relating to the disappearance of Connie Smith.  Connie, a camper at Camp Sloane in Lakeville, Connecticut, left the camp and was apparently heading to use a telephone in the village center.  She was seen hitchhiking by a number of people along busy Route 44, and then she was gone, never to be seen again.  It bothered me that someone could disappear so completely; and I clipped the article and filed it.

A few years later, I found an article about Paula Welden of Stamford who was a sophomore at Bennington College in Vermont.  She hitchhiked her way to the Long Trail a few miles from the college and she too disappeared.  I started wondering if there were others who had similarly vanished.   More than four years ago I started researching the cases in earnest and soon found another young woman, Katherine Hull, who disappeared near the New York border with New England.  Her case was different; seven years after she disappeared, a group of hunters discovered her skull perched in the crotch of a tree on a mountainside outside Pittsfield, Massachusetts – five miles from where she was last seen hitchhiking!

I was hooked and started to search for every bit of information about the three cases.  The police files for the Smith – Welden cases still exist and information was abundant, but the Katherine Hull case was considerably more difficult.  Police investigation files were disposed of over the years since the case wasn’t considered a capital crime.  Visits to libraries in Albany, Syracuse, Pittsfield, Springfield and Bennington netted me microfilm editions of most of the newspapers that covered Katherine’s story.  Slowly, I was able to piece together the details surrounding her disappearance and the discovery of her skeleton.  The similarities to the other cases seemed too great to be coincidental.
Once I understood the sequence of events, I managed to obtain a missing person poster from an old newspaper file in Pittsfield, located a photo of investigators in Syracuse, and learned the names of the Pittsfield hunters on a visit to Springfield.  I managed to track down one member of the hunting party, now living in the state of Washington.  He was 15 at the time of the discovery and still remembers that day very well.  He provided a firsthand account of the events of that December day when they found Katherine’s skull staring them in the face.

Persistence and a bit of obsessive-compulsiveness are what it takes to ferret out information about very cold cases.  If it were easy, someone else would already have done it.  I think personal satisfaction is greater the harder one has to work for something and I am quite satisfied with the results of my research on these three cases, though there are just a couple of more things I’m still looking for…

Obsessively yours,

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Category: Meet the Author


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