Not a Creature Was Stirring (Gregor Demarkian #1), by Jane Haddam

Recently added to your library’s ebook collection, this is the first title in Haddam’s long-running police procedural series featuring Gregor Demarkian, “the Armenian-American Hercule Poirot.” Demarkian, creator of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Department, is just coming out of mourning after the death of his wife. It’s the Christmas season, his first back in his old neighborhood of Cavanaugh Street, Armenian enclave in Philadelphia where he grew up. Although Cavanaugh Street has changed, many of his childhood friends and neighbors remain, with all their quirks.

As a favor to Father Tibor, priest at the local Armenian church, Demarkian accepts an invitation to Engine House, the Main Line mansion of Robert Hannaford, wealthy heir to a Philadelphia railroad fortune. When he arrives, he meets the Hannaford children and Robert Hannaford’s dying wife, but not Robert Hannaford himself, who has been bludgeoned to death in his library. More deaths follow between Christmas and New Year’s, before Demarkian and local police chief John Henry Newman Jackman find the solution and the killer. Motives abound among the Hannaford children, largely having to do with money, with the notable exception of Bennis Hannaford, who has made her own fortune as an author of a very popular fantasy series.

With the 29th book in the series just out, this has been Haddam’s most popular, and most durable, work. The main characters, Demarkian and Bennis Hannaford, are well drawn and likable, even though they can be irritating at times. Cavanaugh Street is an unusual but fascinating setting, with lots of recurring characters bringing in subplots that mesh well with the main story line. If you enjoy police procedurals, or books with ethnic characters, you’re sure to enjoy Not a Creature Was Stirring and the entire Gregor Demarkian series.

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Mrs. Queen Takes the Train – William Kuhn

Book cover - Mrs. Queen takes the train - William KuhnThis was a thoroughly enjoyable book.

The Queen, now in her mid-80’s, is feeling a little down in the years since 1995. Feeling the need for a little cheering up, she slips out of Buckingham Palace and goes on an incognito trip to Scotland. Her happiest moments that she recalls were on the royal yacht Britannia, which is now a tourist attraction. Once she’s discovered missing, various people start looking for her, palace staff, a young Englishman of Indian descent. Overall, an excellent book, and one I will enjoy reading again. If you have any interest in the House of Windsor, or even how people who have spent their entire lives in the public eye cope with the attention and stress, you’ll love this book.

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Announcing a New Book Group – Beyond Imagination!

Here at the library, we’re happy to announce the start of a new book discussion group. Beyond Imagination is dedicated to the enjoyment and discussion of science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. The group will meet the second Thursday of every month at 7PM in the library’s Small Meeting Room. We’ve got a great selection of books for January through May of 2013, and will be adding more shortly.

Our first meeting, on January 10, will be about Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. If you’ve read the book, we hope you’ll join us. If you haven’t but want to, we have copies available here at the library. Even if you don’t read Stardust, but are interested in speculative fiction, come by and find out what we’re about!

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The Mischief of the Mistletoe (Lauren Willig)

CoverAll right, I have a new favorite Regency author. Lauren Willig may not be Jane Austen (who is?), but she’s an excellent writer in her own right. The Mischief of the Mistletoe comes in the middle of her Pink Carnation series. Even so, it works very well on its own. I haven’t read any more of the series (it’s on my list now!), but I didn’t feel in the least bit lost or confused. If you like your Regency titles a little on the comical side, you’ll love The Mischief of the Mistletoe. Chapter 11 alone is worth the price of the book.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe is set in the early 1800’s, during the Napoleonic wars. Our heroine, Arabella Dempsey, is a poor relation who is more or less on her own now, thanks to her aunt’s marriage. In spite of the cautions of her childhood friend, Jane Austen, she takes a position as an instructress at a girls’ school in Bath. There she (literally) bumps into Reggie Fitzhugh, also known as Turnip. As you might guess, he’s an easygoing, friendly sort, if a little brainless. He’s also quite wealthy. The attraction between the two is obvious to all except them. After a Christmas season dealing with snippy Society ladies and their cruel husbands and male friends, cold castles, missing manuscripts, French spies, and Christmas puddings, we finally reach the expected end. That was when I knew I had to read more about these wonderful, engaging characters. I think you’ll want to, also.

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Audiobooks for Job Seekers

We’ve got some new downloadable audiobooks specifically aimed at people looking for work. Take a look and see if any of them are helpful!

The 250 Job Interview Questions You'll Most LIkely Be AskedThe 250 Job Interview Questions You’ll Most Likely be Asked…and the Answers That Will Get You Hired, by Peter Veruki.

“Why do you want this job?” “Why should I hire you?” “Why do you want to leave your current job?” Do you have convincing answers ready for these important questions? Landing a good job is a competitive process and often the final decision is based on your performance at the interview. By following the advice of prominent career and human resources expert Peter Veruki, you’ll know you have the right answers at your job interview.

48 Days to the Work You Love48 Days to the Work You Love, by Dan Miller.

This book is not so much about finding a new job as it is learning about who we are really called to be in relation to our vocation – whatever shape that career may take in these changing times. According to the author, failing to make that fundamental discovery of calling is why so many people find themselves in jobs they hate. But now, thousands upon thousands are finding the work they love, thanks to practical advice from this leading career counselor.

25 Things to Say to the Interviewer, to Get the Job You Want25 Things to Say to the Interviewer, to Get the Job You Want, by Dexter Hawk.

“If you’re looking for a job that lets you do what you’re good at, pays you what you’re worth, read this book.  And if you want to make your dreams come true, read it over and over again. It takes a lifetime to learn these life lessons. But you don’t have that kind of time. And no one is going to teach them to you. There just aren’t that many good bosses around. Here’s a one-of-a-kind book that’ll teach you how to get past the interviewers.”

Positive LeadershipPositive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance, by Kim Cameron.

Positive Leadership shows how to reach beyond ordinary success to achieve extraordinary effectiveness, spectacular results, and what Kim Cameron calls “positively deviant performance” – performance far above the norm. Citing a wide range of research in organizational development and psychology as well as real-world examples, Cameron shows that to go from successful to exceptional, leaders must learn how to create a profoundly positive environment in the workplace.

We’ll be adding more downloadable audiobooks, including ones on career and work-life, in the future. Don’t forget to check our Digital Library often!

 

 

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My Ten Favorite Novels

Here’s a ist of my ten favorite novels, and why. It’s a pretty eclectic list, and I won’t pretend that they’re in any kind of order other than as they come to mind.

  1. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) – OK, this one is in order. Pride and Prejudice is without question my all-time favorite book. I read it every time I’m tired of reading anything else. I read it at least 2-3 times a year. Austen’s writing is clear, witty, and simply sparkles. Her characterizations are some of the best in the English language, and her plot, while a simple boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-in-the-end, is the standard by which all others are judged. No doubt the nearly perfect English novel.
  2. The Number of the Beast (Robert Heinlein) – Sometimes I just want to read an old-fashioned space opera with mad scientists, evil aliens, beautiful assistants, brave heroes, and lots of alternate realities. Heinlein takes that space opera, makes sure all the parts are there, and then turns it on its head. Stranger in a Strange Land might be his best novel, but this one is the most fun.
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien – I’m cheating here. It’s not possible to pick a favorite from Tolkien’s work, and I honestly enjoy reading any of it. From The Hobbit, to Smith of Wootton Major, to Roverandom. From prose to poetry to song. Tolkien’s work is vast, complex, and scholarly. You can find just about anything in it to suit any mood. It’s more than the movies could ever be.
  4. War in Heaven (Charles Williams) – Williams, a lesser-known contemporary of Tolkien (and and a member of the Inklings) is an excellent writer in his own right. War in Heaven is not considered to be his best novel, but it’s the one I like most. I’ts the story of a simple parish priest who gets caught up in a battle between good and evil over the fate of the Holy Grail.
  5. The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) – Definitely my favorite Gaiman book. It’s associated in my mind with his book Coraline, possibly because they’re both written for younger readers. This is the story of a child who’s parents are killed, and is raised by ghosts in the graveyard. A well-written and enjoyable, if slightly odd, coming-of-age story.
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) – The classic story of love, betrayal, revenge and redemption. A bit slow in parts, but well worth the time and effort to read.
  7. The Fancy Dancer (Patricia Nell Warren) – Not as well known as her book The Front Runner, I like this one much better. Here, Warren examines the intersections of religion, culture and sexuality while telling the story of a young Roman Catholic priest and a Native American in contemporary Montana.
  8. The Father Brown mysteries (G.K. Chesterton) – Some of my favorite classic mysteries. There’s little if any violence, and Father Brown solves the mysteries using only his understanding of the human condition gained by years of work as a parish priest. It’s a whole other world from today.
  9. The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown) – The third in the author’s Robert Langdon series, this book relies much less on religious symbology than the earlier works (Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code). Using symbols visible in D.C. public spaces and monuments, Brown weaves a fascinating (and believable) story related to the founding or the American republic.
  10. Six of One (Rita Mae Brown) – If you ever need a laugh-out-loud read, this is the book. Set in the fictional town of Runnymede on the Maryland-Virginia state line, Six of One tells the story of the rivalries, lives and loves of the Hunsenmeir sisters and their friends. By far one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

So what are your favorite books? Let us know in the comments. No need to come up with a long list, just what you like.

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Mystery Book Group Coming Up

Don’t forget that our mystery group, Murder by the Book, will meet on Wednesday, August 8, at 7PM in the Small Meeting Room of the New Albany-Floyd County Public LIbrary. We’ll be discussing Margaret Coel’s book Eagle Catcher. For more information, call Reference Services at 949-3523.

The Eagle Catcher, by Margaret CoelWhen the Arapahoe tribal chairman is found murdered in his tepee at the Ethete powwow, the evidence points to the chairman’s nephew, Anthony Castle. But Father John O’Malley, pastor of St. Francis Mission, and Vicky Holden, Arapaho lawyer, don’t believe the young man capable of murder. Together they set out to find the real murder and clear Anthony’s name. The train that Father John and Vicky follow winds across the High Plains of the Wind River Reservation into Arapaho homes and community centers and into the fraud-infested world of Indian oil and land deals.

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