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Veronica, Columbine Library

It’s 1905 in a small village in the Lake District of England, and author and illustrator Beatrix Potter has just purchased Hill Top Farm. But when she visits and begins making the farm her home, there is a mysterious death in the village. Can sensible Beatrix unravel the clues and get to the bottom of the matter? Albert has fictionalized the life of the famous author and given us a delightful series of cozy mysteries for adults. Animals talk (of course!) although not to humans, just to each other, and village mysteries are solved with everyone’s help. Jump in and enjoy yourself with The Tale of Hill Top Farm!

Ros, Evergreen Library

George Glenn, a shepherd in rural Ireland, has been murdered. His flock is determined to find out who did this evil deed, and bring the person to Justice. The sheep are hampered in this task by a limited knowledge of human behavior but have listened to George read romance novels to them over the years. This makes Othello, Melmoth, Miss Maple, Mopple the Whale and their flock-mates worldlier than the average sheep, but still quite puzzled by human ways. The spirited discussion on whether or not people have souls is by itself worth the read. One part mystery, one part philosophy, and certainly threaded with humor, this quirky first novel by German author Leonie Swann follows the clues to a satisfying end.

Ros, Evergreen Library

In this latest novel by Michael Chabon we meet Archy and Nat. They are co-owners of a vinyl record store along Telegraph Avenue, a commercial strip in a run-down part of Oakland, California. The two face bankruptcy with the impending arrival of a music megastore. Wives Gwen and Aviva have their own set of problems as practicing midwives dealing with snooty doctors and a lawsuit. Other characters barrel in and out of the novel. There’s Archy’s father, a former drug addict and 70’s kung fu movie star, and Titus, Archy’s illegitimate teenage son who shows up unexpectedly. Nat’s son Julie, a budding artist and gentle soul, loves Titus. Archy considers Cochise Jones, a minor musician, to be the real father in his life. Gwen is eight months pregnant with Archy’s child. A theme emerges of fathers and sons, intertwined with descriptions of food and jazz music and a vibrant neighborhood that moves to its own beat. Telegraph Avenue is an exuberant, character-driven story filled with colorful descriptions of culture and family, sure to keep you thinking long after you have turned the last page.

Judy, Belmar Library

God's Hotel: a Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine by Victoria Sweet

Wrap up in this engaging memoir about a doctor whose passion to learn the best way to practice medicine has taken her on some interesting journeys.  When Dr. Sweet takes a position with the last almshouse hospital, Laguna Honda, in San Francisco, it is just temporary and part-time so that she can pursue her dream of studying medieval medicine.  However, she ends up staying for 20 years at this old hospital that was initially for very sick people that had nowhere else to go.  She finds the “slow medicine” practice at the hospital intriguing. Her compassionate tales about patients and the staff that work at the hospital and what she learns from them are fascinating.
Along the way, she achieves her dream of studying the famous nun, Hildegard of Bingen, a healer and mystic of 12th century Germany. Hildegard practiced a “garden model” of medicine which looked upon the body as a garden to be tended as opposed to the modern medicine model which views the body as a machine to be fixed.  This study and her experience at Laguna Honda would transform the way Dr. Sweet practices medicine.

Those interested in health care and practice of medicine or anyone just looking for a unique memoir will find this an enjoyable read.

Katie, Arvada Library

From time to time, I’m sure all of us have wished for our own far away island where we could escape.  If you’re looking for a virtual escape to some really, really remote places, Judith Schlansky’s book the Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty islands I have never set foot on and never will is just the answer.  Schlansky profiles fifty of the most isolated pieces of land on Earth, discussing their historical, geographical and maritime significance (or lack thereof).   Hand-drawn maps accompany each island’s entry adding to the mystique of the remote and uninhabited.  A must-read for armchair travelers, map nerds or those planning a VERY adventurous vacation!

Sunshine, Columbine Library

Tim Hetherington was a photojournalist who died in 2011 while covering an uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.  His book Infidel is a poignant photographic look at a small battalion of US soldiers stationed in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan.  Tim Hetherington was a well-respected photographer because he used his lens to reveal the humanity of his subjects as well as the historical significance of the moment.  The pictures are allowed to speak for themselves since they are the only thing you see until the back of the book, where there is commentary describing each picture.   In addition, some of the soldiers write about their experiences themselves.  The introduction is written by Sebastian Junger, the author of The Perfect Storm and War, among other books.  Junger worked with Tim Hetherington on the documentary Restrepo, which looks at the same outpost in the Korengal Valley.  Restrepo was the winner of the 2010 Sundance Best Documentary. 

Jill, Arvada Library

Book of Killowen is the newest installment in Erin Hart’s Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire series of archaeological crime novels set in modern Ireland.  She is a pathologist, he is an archaeologist and together they find themselves investigating cases built around bodies found in bogs of Ireland.  Book of Killowen came out in March and offers up more than a few surprises, chiefly, the discovery of not one but two bodies in a bog, one ancient and one modern!  If you like a good blend of history, archaeology and forensics, check out this series.

Haunted Ground (2003)

Lake of Sorrows (2004)

False Mermaid (2010)

Book of Killowen (2013)

Erin Hart has a wonderful, informative, official website, and writes a fun blog, which includes a lot of background on the research she does for her novels.

Another great resource is the glossary she created to help readers learn how to pronounce things properly.

Happy reading!

Christina, Lakewood Library

When I was young, our family lived near my grandmother.  On some evenings I spent the night with her at her very splendid apartment in a beautiful building on Connecticut Ave. in Washington, DC.  My earliest memories of that apartment were the elevator operator, Calvin, taking my parents and me and up in the creaky elevator with the accordion door he would carefully open and close and the flowery, dusty and a bit dank smell of the apartment.  My grandmother and I would have Ritz Crackers, “rat” cheese and apple slices for dinner.  She would enjoy hers with a glass of sherry and I would have a small green glass bottle of Coca Cola.  After dinner, I would watch her put her hair up in pin curls using bendy fabric covered strips.  She was a force in my young life and I loved her.  My mother never lived close to my family and still my children had a rich relationship with her.  I am entering that wonderful world of grandmothers and am thinking of my mother and her mother.  I will be far away from my first grandchild.  I will visit often and finally learn about Skype and FaceTime.

Wondrous child: the joys and challenges of grandparenting edited by Lindy Hough; foreword by Jane Isay

Some assembly required: a journal of my son's first son by Anne Lamott; with Sam Lamott

Making toast: a family story by Roger Rosenblatt

Veronica, Columbine Library

The Blue Zones:  9 lessons for living longer from the people who've lived the longest by Dan Buettner

Buettner is a longevity expert who has traveled around the world and talked with folks who have lived extraordinarily long lives – many over 100 years!  He worked with both local and international experts to do a more formal study of the habits and traits that these long-lived folks exhibit.  The results are useful for anyone who wishes to live a healthier, longer life. Social contact is vital, along with certain diets and exercise that have proved helpful time and again.  Personal stories from all over the world make this lively and interesting reading. 


Ros, Evergreen Library

Ever heard of Minority Report, Blade Runner, or Total Recall? These are movies based on novels by Science Fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Writing mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, this prolific author has had ten novels and short stories (so far) turned into movies. He’s received a number of Science Fiction writing awards as well. PKD’s works often deal with the idea of reality. Protagonists are faced with determining the true nature of the world in which they exist. Memory is suspect; assumptions turn out to be wrong. The author’s common man hero must work his way through a morass of obstacles to arrive at the truth.  Here are three good introductions to his work:

Selected Stories of Philip K Dick 
This book is a good introduction to the author and his works and the stories are arranged in order of when they were first written. In the third story, “Paycheck,” PKD hits his stride and keeps on going. Read “Autofac,” “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” and “Imposter” to get a sense of the author at his best.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The question here involves what it means to be human.  If androids can pass as humans - and not just in the way they look - does that make them the same as flesh and blood people? PKD paints a world destroyed by war, where live animals are rare and precious, and most people have left Earth to colonize other planets. This is the novel on which the movie Blade Runner is based.

The Man in the High Castle
A Hugo award winner, this novel postulates an alternative world, circa 1962, in which Germany and Japan won World War II. America has been split between those two countries. Slavery is legal, the few remaining Jews are hiding, and the two former Axis allies are not too happy with each other. A complex and thought-provoking book in which the I Ching figures prominently, PKD creates a vision of America as a third world country struggling to find its way.




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