Fiction

Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
John Feinstein

We listened to this on a looong drive across Utah.  My husband, who generally doesn’t care for audiobooks actually told our 4-year-old daughter, (normally Daddy’s darling), to be quiet because he was listening to the story!  And now she knows who Coach K, while our son says “ABD – anybody BUT Duke.”



Grade 6-10 - This action-packed mystery is set at the NCAA Final Four men's basketball tournament. Eighth-graders Steven Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are aspiring journalists and winners of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association 14-and-under writing contest. Their prize is a trip, with press credentials and reporting responsibilities, to the Final Four in New Orleans. While exploring the Superdome, they overhear a blackmail threat leveled at Minnesota State University's star player. Threatened with a falsified transcript that would disqualify him and his team, Chip Graber is pressured to deliberately lose the final game against Duke. Stevie and Susan Carol become resourceful sleuths determined to save Chip and to expose the scandal. Throughout the story, famous basketball personalities make memorable guest appearances, including spirited sports analyst Tony Kornheiser and irrepressible commentator Dick Vitale. References to real players and coaches mingle, almost eerily, with the fictitious characters. Feinstein shares his extensive sports expertise, smoothly weaving into the tale a wealth of background information about NCAA regulations, tournament traditions, recruitment and eligibility issues, and gambling. Although the action on the court is vividly described, this story also breaks new ground for teens, focusing primarily on the influential role of media in promoting college basketball. Readers will enjoy the rivalry and chemistry between outspoken but insecure Stevie and savvy-beyond-her-years Susan Carol, and their spunky determination to get the scoop. Mystery fans will find enough suspense in this fast-paced narrative to keep them hooked.



Diane M., Administration

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Sam's Letters to Jennifer

Monday, July 5, 2010
James Patterson
Sam's Letters to Jennifer

Usually, I love everything James Patterson writes. This novel was the exception. His thrillers are exciting and suspenseful, but this unusual love story didn’t possess these traits or any others that made it worth reading.

Sam is dying, but she leaves her granddaughter Jennifer about 75 letters that reveal her true past. Sam had many secrets, and her letters are the only way to unearth her true life to her granddaughter while she deteriorated in a coma. While Jennifer reads the letters, she meets her childhood friend at her grandmother’s lake and begins an exciting summer romance.

 

This novel was very cliché, and I didn’t take very much away from it.

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Gabrielle M., Circulation

A Dog's Life

Monday, July 5, 2010
Peter Mayle
A Dog's Life

This book takes place in France, and tells the story of a dog that escapes a cruel farm life. He lives off his wits in a village until a kind couple finds him and takes him home. The story is told by "him, the dog," and it is hilarious! A lovely book.

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Marilyn S., Circulation

The Map of True Places

Monday, July 5, 2010
Brunonia Barry

Zee Finch has come a long way from her troubled youth to become a psychotherapist in a well-respected Boston practice. Things start to unravel for her when one of her patients, a bipolar mother of two young children commits suicide by jumping off a bridge. For Zee, the similarities between Lilie Braedon and her own bipolar mother's suicide when Zee was young is almost too much to bear. After the funeral, a quick visit to her father makes it obvious that his Parkinson's disease has progressed more rapidly than she had been aware of. Since he has suddenly kicked his long-time partner and care-giver out of the house Zee decides that she must take a leave from her job and stay in Salem not only to care for her father, but to sort through the emotional turmoil of both Lilie's death and the turbulent past of her own mysterious mother. Another emotionally compelling novel by the author of The Lace Reader.



Sue A., Reference

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Girls in Trouble

Monday, July 5, 2010
Caroline Leavitt
Teenage pregnancy is often stereotyped and overused by the media.  It seems like there is a pregnant sixteen year old cast in every hit television series. This book, Girls in Trouble, is about a teenage pregnancy too, but unlike those shows it emphasizes an entirely different message.
Sara is the most academically gifted student in her grade and is being considered by many Ivy League colleges. Her life chances drastically when she falls in love with Danny, who shows her how to truly enjoy life. Sara ignores the fact that she may be pregnant until it’s too late, and must find adoptive parents to take her child. The open adoption with Sara’s perfect adoptive parents seems ideal, but when Sara has to give up her baby and infringes on the new parents’ personal life, it becomes a huge problem. This book covers a large period of time and redefines the possibilities of a strong family.
This novel is an excellent, fast paced summer read, and it defies every stereotype of teenage pregnancy.



Gabrielle M., Circulation

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The Red Thread

Monday, July 5, 2010
Ann Hood

Maya Lange works with 6 couples who wish to adopt from China.  Having lost a baby of her own in a freak accident, her agency work brings her some comfort.  The book shows the emotions of the families as well as the complications of foreign adoption.



Sue N., Youth Services

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Trailback

Monday, July 5, 2010
Robert Vaughan

Todd Williams returns to Texas to take over the family ranch "Trailback" after his father's death.  He does so under an anonymous name because he plans on changing the longhorns out for herford cows.  However, he doesn't realize that the other ranchers won't " take to kindly" to the idea. This is a true western with action, a gunfighter and of course a pretty woman.  George Guidall does a great job narrating this story.  You'll laugh at some of the expressions and feel like you are watching an old John Wayne movie!  Check it out for yourself and enjoy.



Jan H., Technical Services

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State Fair

Monday, July 5, 2010
Earlene Fowler

The setting of the latest Benni Harper mystery is the Mid-State Fair in San Celina County, California. Benni's Grandma Dove and visiting Great Aunt Garnet are bickering as only sisters can do, so Benni is elected to entertain her aunt at the fair and keep her out of Dove's hair. When Benni and Garnet discover a body placed in one of the fair exhibits, they are drawn into the investigation since it appears that the crime may have been racially motivated to disgrace their friend and first African-American fair director, Levi. Amazingly, elderly Aunt Garnet is only too ready to solve the crime, inadvertently endangering herself and others. Earlene Fowler's depiction of the state fair atmosphere and California ranch life are vivid and her characters are real and heartwarming. Those who have been waiting (and it's been awhile) for another Benni Harper book will not be disappointed.



Sue A., Reference

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Water for Elephants

Monday, July 5, 2010
Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants is not a happy book, but it is filled with irony and packed with action.  It takes place in the 1930's and depicts a young Polish man, Jacob, and his life traveling with the circus.  Although his intention is to practice veterinary medicine, Jacob finds himself caught up with The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth and his life will never be the same.

This novel is written as a flashback, so some chapters reveal what is happening to Jacob decades later.  He cannot remember his age, the year, or which of his children will come visit him at the nursing home, but his memories of the circus are still crystal clear.  I loved the fact that toward the end of the novel, Jacob's present life is explained by his past.

The cruelty of the circus is exemplified poetically in this book.  Jacob has to fight the ring master's brutality and still manage to protect the people he loves.  He is forced to watch as circus freaks endure poverty, hunger, and the chance they may be thrown off the moving train in the dead of night.  He knows the circus is controlled by fear, and he alone is willing to sacrifice everything to protect his friends.

I absolutely loved Water for Elephants.  It is rare to read a book both incredibly brutal and positively inspiring, but Sara Gruen's novel is both.

Gabrielle M., Circulation

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Secret Daughter

Monday, July 5, 2010
Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Two women, a poor Indian woman forced to give up her baby girl in order to save her life, and an American woman, who adopts the baby, tell this story from two very different viewpoints.  The book takes place in San Francisco and the slums of India.  The reader sees the wonderful family life of the wealthy when the now 20 year old student visits her Indian father's family for a year.  And she also experiences the extreme poverty of Bombay.  Such an eye opening book for Westerners.

Sue N., Youth Services

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