The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

storiedLifeAJFikryTo many book lovers, owning a cozy bookstore on a small island off the northeast coast sounds a like a dream come true. But A.J. Fikry’s heart is in pieces that he can’t seem to glue back together, and even his idyllic life on an island surrounded by books seems empty. A.J. has lost his wife,  and she was not only A.J.‘s soul mate, but his business partner, and truly the heart and soul of Island Books.   A.J. was never exactly the “life of the party” and now, along with his wife, he has lost any desire he ever had to play nicely with others. Fortunately life is not done with A.J. just yet, and in many ways his story is just about to get really good.
Filled with wonderful characters and a humorous peek inside the world of the bookseller, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is all about love, really– love of books and people and life. It’s about forgiveness and taking chances, listening to your heart and seeing what’s right in front of you. It’s a lot of book in a small package, and is a delightful read throughout.
Author Gabrielle Zevin has written several books, for both adults and young adults.

Check out more of her titles here .


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Mystery Monday: When You Need a Little Humor in Your Life

Mystery MondayAnyone can have a bad day.  Reading a good book can definitely improve one’s outlook.  Adding a dose of humor can help you get a better handle on life and see things in perspective.

When you have one of those terrible, horrible, no good very bad days that Judith Viorst referred to in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, what mystery series or novels lighten your load?  (If you’re not familiar with this wonderful picture book, check it out — it’s not just for kids!)

Mysteries that I have personally enjoyed that can make me smile on a bad day are:

Last Word Lisa LutzThe Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich.  The latest in this series is Top Secret Twenty-One.  (All of the books in this series are numbered.)  The first book in the series is One for the Money.  If you’re not familiar with Stephanie who somehow is able to survive as an inept bounty hunter/bondswoman, check her out.  She’s always broke, her car is usually destroyed at some point in the book but the incredible situations she ends up in always seem to make me laugh.  There are many additional humorous moments with other characters such as her Grandma Mazur, who loves to attend viewings (even of people she doesn’t know) and her co-worker, Lula, an ex-prostitute who wears lots of spandex and loves to eat.  Because this series is popular, check out this Read-a-like list to take a look at authors who are similar in style.

I would also recommend The Spellman File novels by Lisa Lutz.  Once again the characters are quirky but they’re family!  Izzy Spellman, the main protagonist in these novels, has been compared to be a combination of Sam Spade and Bridget Jones.  There are currently six books in this series: The Spellman Files, Curse of the Spellmans, Revenge of the Spellmans, The Spellmans Strike Again, Trail of the Spellmans and The Last Word.

Looking for humorous mysteries with a male protagonist?  Check out Basket Case or Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen!!!  Hopefully your bad days will be few but there will always be a great mystery to read!

– Carol W.

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A Man and His Dog – A Special Evening

Join Douglas County Libraries at the James H LaRue branch on Saturday, August 23 at 6:30pm, for an evening with NYT Bestselling, award-winning author and U.S. Army Veteran, Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván and his service dog, Tuesday. Montalván will talk about his inspirational memoir – Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him. This is a heartwarming dog story like no other: Tuesday, a lovable golden retriever, changes a former soldier’s life forever.

UntilTuesdayCaptain Montalván served in the army for 17 years, and he is the recipient of two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and an Army Commendation Medal for Valor. The highly decorated captain never backed down from a challenge during his two tours of duty in Iraq. After returning home from combat, however, his physical wounds and crippling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder began to take their toll. He wondered if he would ever recover.

Then Luis met Tuesday, a sensitive golden retriever trained to assist the disabled. Tuesday had lived among prisoners and at a home for troubled boys, and he found it difficult to trust in or connect with a human being–until Luis.

Until Tuesday is the story of how these two wounded warriors, who had given so much and suffered the consequences, found salvation in each other. It is a story about war and peace, injury and recovery, psychological wounds and spiritual restoration. But more than that, it is a story about the love between a man and a dog, and how, together, they healed each other’s souls.

These days Montalván and Tuesday are vocal advocates for Americans with disabilities. This memoir won an APA Audie Award, and USA Best Book Award. It was on the NYT bestseller list three times. Currently, the documentary film, “Buried above the Ground,” is in post-production and due to be released later in 2014. The film interweaves three unforgettable stories, including Montalván’s struggle, and also features a Hurricane Katrina evacuee, and a woman who survived child abuse and domestic violence, as they all fight for their recovery from PTSD.

TuesdaytucksmeinIn May, Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and His Service Dog was released. It is a picture book for children about the everyday life of a service dog as told by Tuesday.

Register here or this free event or by calling Douglas County Libraries at 303-791-7323. The Tattered Cover Book Store will have books available for sale at the event.

~Lisa C.                                                                     Programming Liaison @JHL

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Mystery Monday: Bite Size Mysteries

Mystery MondayLove is MurderWhen life gets crazy but you’re still craving a good mystery, consider checking out some mystery anthologies.  Not only do you get a complete mystery on just a few pages but you also get the opportunity to explore a variety of different authors.  You may just discover an author that you’ll want to explore more of their writing.  Here are some great mystery anthologies that you can find at Douglas County Libraries:

Love is Murder: This fun anthology blends romance, suspense and mystery with short tales from Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Heather Graham and more.  There are 30 tales in this collection.

The Interrogator & Other Criminally Good Fiction, edited by Martin H. Greenberg.  Featuring nail-biting suspense and even heart wrenching drama from Laura Lippman, David Morrell, Joyce Carol Oates, Mickey Spillane, Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly and more.

Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance, edited by Lee Child.   These stories take a look at what happens when people take the law into their own hands: a woman pushed too far, a cop who has seen too much or an ordinary person doing what the law will not.   Dennis LeHane, Alafair Burke and Karin Slaughter are among the authors who share their tales in this collection.

At the Scene of the Crime: Forensic Mysteries from Today’s Best Writers, edited by Dana Stabenow.  Features stories from Jeremiah Healy, Loren D. Estleman, John Lutz, Dana Stabenow and other mystery authors.

– Carol W.



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More YA Books to Movies

The “YA-book-to-movie” trend just keeps going. August 15 brings Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Giverto the big screen, followed by Gayle Forman’s If I Stay on August 22. Looking at September, there’s The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, and in November, part one of Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay will be in theaters. The media attention will help you steer teens to the books, and from there you can gently direct them to read-alikes. Below is a starter list of The Giver read-alikes, taken from School Library Journal. For more read-alikes, click here.

Hungry by H.A. Swain

Nil by Lynne Matson Holt

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Reckoning by Kerry Wilkinson

Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith (November 13, 2014)

~Dodie O.                           Librarian at JHL

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Mystery Monday: Location, Location, Location!

Mystery MondaySaving ParadiseAre you an armchair traveler?  The best part about reading is that you are able to explore different worlds, different settings and different cultures without having to physically be there.  The setting of a good mystery can be an added bonus if the author captures it well in his/her writing.

Since many of my friends have had the joy of going to Hawaii, I thought it would be fun as the summer winds down to look at a couple of mysteries set among the pristine beaches and tourist traps.

Douglas Corleone is a former NYC defense attorney who lives in Kapolei.  He writes mysteries whose main protagonist is Kevin Corvelli, a hard drinking criminal defense attorney based in Honolulu.  One Man’s Paradise, Night on Fire and Last Lawyer Standing are the three mysteries in this series.  One Man’s Paradise received the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award in 2009.

Saving Paradise by Mike Bond centers around political and corporate greed and corruption.  A beautiful young journalist is found floating off Waikiki but there’s more to this death than a simple drowning.  Pono Hawkins, an ex special forces vet and well-known surfer, gets involved in the drowning that everyone is overeager to call an accident.  As a result, he finds himself determined to protect the Hawaii he loves from dirty politics as well as discover who killed Sylvia Gordon.

As one author stated, “Nasty predators dwell in paradise”.  Sounds perfect for a hot summer day!  Other authors you may enjoy on your eReader are Jeanne Matthews, Charles Memminger and Deborah Turrell Atkinson.  Their Hawaiian mysteries are available online.

– Carol W.

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Volunteer Views

Volunteer Views



Here are some more four and five-star book reviews by Douglas County Libraries’ volunteer reviewers. To learn more about participating as a volunteer eBook reviewer, sign up for the Douglas County Libraries’ Virtual Volunteer opportunity here.

Fate of the Stallion! by Ron Hevener

Fate of a Stallion!Encouraged by a hunch and sense of fate, Dan Marshall discovers a stolen Arabian racehorse that is scheduled to be euthanized. Together with a band of friends and secret identities, Dan and the horse of his dreams patch up their lives and make their way to the winner’s circle…of love! Though somewhat predictable, Fate of the Stallion! is also a wonderful, heartwarming story that is well written, with likable characters. I would read more of Hevener’s books.

 eBook: Rated 5 stars    ~CAP volunteer, Bev



Rust by Julie Mars

rustTo a more casual observer the vast, rusty red landscape of Albuquerque, NM might look boring and tedious. To our protagonist Margaret however, it is a feast for the soul which provides much needed nourishment to fuel her creative mind. We are made privy to Margaret’s deepest emotions; her fears, insecurities and longings which lead her to her present state of mind, and which help readers understand her often erratic and unpredictable behavior. The author possesses a remarkable ability to capture the essence that is Margaret; an artistic mind at once cluttered, irreverent, and confused, yet showing glimmers of a vision as to what must be accomplished to fulfill her destiny. Rust offers a unique journey, written in simple yet rich prose that satisfies from beginning to end. A must read!

Book: Rated 5 stars     ~PA Volunteer, Linda


Gossip from Thrush Green by Miss Read

gossip from Thrush GreenHow wonderful it is to escape for a few hours to the world of Thrush Green, a village community set in post-war England. This is my third review of books by Miss Read, whose real name was Mrs. Dora Saint. In Gossip from Thrush Green, sixth in the Thrush Green series, Saint skillfully uses teatime as a thread that runs through the events that unfold over the course of the volume. Each story is related with her deft, delicate touch, and her characters continue to develop. I am glad to have stumbled upon this lovely series of books.

 eBook: Rated 5 stars      ~JHL Volunteer, Chris


The Murder Prospect by Lee Mossel

murderprospectCortlandt Scott, a retired geologist, takes on his first case in his new occupation as a Private Investigator. As a geologist, he had found oil on the Linfield ranch near Byers, Colorado. Now, young Evan Linfield wants to hire Scott to investigate a potential investment. It’s not long before the case takes a turn for the worst and becomes a murder investigation involving Scott’s long-time girlfriend, Gerri German, who is also a geologist. Scott follows leads to Los Angeles and New Orleans. I would recommend this book if you enjoy murder mysteries, would like to learn a bit about the oil business or like reading literature that takes place in a local setting.

eBook: Rated 4 stars      ~JHL Volunteer, Sheryl

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Mystery Monday: Understanding Mystery Awards

Mystery MondayAs you’re reading book reviews, publishers are always quick to mention any awards given to their titles.  What awards are given to mystery books?  Here’s a quick look at the “Oscars” for mysteries.

ExPatsThe Anthony Awards — An annual award named for Anthony Boucher, who was one of the founders of Mystery Authors of America.  This award is one of the most prestigious awards for mystery authors to receive.  There are five categories of nominees: Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best Paperback Original, Best Short Story and Best Non-Fiction.  At times members may also honor individuals with a special service award and ”wild card” awards such as Best Graphic Novel, Best Website/Blog, Lifetime Achievement.  Chris Pavone won the Best First Novel award in 2013 for his book The ExPats. The winners for 2014 will be announced at Bouchercon, November 13th -16th.

The Macavity Awards — Given annually by Mystery Readers International, the Macavity Awards are named after the “Mystery Cat” in T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.  The award is given in four categories: Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best Short Story and Best Non-Fiction.  In 2013, Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery won the Macavity Award and the Anthony Award for best novel.

Ordinary GraceThe Agatha Awards — Obviously named for Agatha Christie, this award is given to mystery and crime writers who write cozy mysteries (amateur detective, little or no sex, little or no violence) at an annual convention in Washington, D.C.  There are six categories of nominees: Best Novel, Best First Mystery, Best Historical Novel, Best Short Story, Best Non-Fiction and Best Children’s/Young Adult Mystery.  In addition, they periodically award a Poirot Award to honor individuals (not authors) who have made an outstanding contribution to the mystery genre.  For example, in 2005, Angela Lansbury received the Poirot Award for the impact that she made because of the popularity of her Murder She Wrote television series.

The Edgars — The most recognized awards for mystery writers are the Edgar Awards. Named after Edgar Allen Poe and awarded by the Mystery Writers of America annually in May, these awards honor not only books but television, film and theater as well.   There are 22 categories that honor the best in mystery writing and presentation including the Ellery Queen Award (honoring writing teams & publishers), the Mary Higgins Clark Award (for the best women’s suspense novel) and the Grand Master Award (the highest honor for lifetime achievement and consistent quality).   Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger won the Edgar for best novel this year and has been nominated for an Anthony in the same category.

Next week we’ll take a look at some of the top 100 mysteries selected by the Mystery Writers of America.  In the meantime, check out some of these award winners.

– Carol W.

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The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

thingswekissgoodbyeYou know those books that make you stay up too late reading them? For me, The Things You Kiss Goodbye was one of those books. Award winning author Leslie Connor tells a story of a young girl who is navigating through some tough issues. Bettina strives to meet the high expectations of her traditional Greek parents, who are strict– certainly by today’s standards. She is a good, smart, mature girl who still gets caught up in a painfully flawed relationship with her high school boyfriend. She recognizes the dysfunction even as she plays along. Then, by chance, Bettina meets a 20-something guy who is as nice and handsome as he is mysterious to her. Bettina and the guy she calls Cowboy strike up a cautious friendship that ultimately grows into something more.

One of the reasons teens love YA books is for the cache of coming of age issues that teens can identify with. But sometimes a YA book comes along that is extraordinary enough to offer great appeal for adults. This poignant story is one that might appeal more to adults than it does to teens, in fact. Connor does a wonderful job of conveying the depth of all of these characters, from parents to awkward friends to the smallest brother.  I loved Bettina and her family, her friends, and her Cowboy.

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Megan McCafferty will find The Things You Kiss Goodbye a good bet.


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Mystery Monday: More “Tasty” Mysteries to Chew On

Last week we showcased local mystery author Diane Mott Davidson. Her series is a great example of mysteries surrounding food that also include actual recipes.  If you love cozy mysteries and are looking for additional fun ways to get new recipes, check out these other authors who love to “dish out” a mystery with tasty options as well.

Final SentenceSusan Wittig Albert: Darling Dahlias & China Bayles Mysteries                                                                                 Jessica Beck: Donut Shop Mystery Series                          Bailey Cates: Magical Bakery Mystery Series                      Chris Cavender: Pizza Lovers Mystery Series                       Laura Childs: Tea Shop Mysteries                                       Sheila Connolly: Orchard Mystery Series                               Isis Crawford: A Catered Murder Series                             Krista Davis: Domestic Diva Series                                   Joanne Fluke: Hannah Swensen Mysteries                             Daryl Wood Gerber: Cookbook Nook Mystery Series ( A New Mystery Series)                                                                               Victoria Hamilton: Vintage Kitchen Mystery Series            Julie Hyzy: White House Chef Mysteries                               Josi S. Kilpack: Culinary Mystery Series                                                                                        Liz Lipperman: Clueless Cook Mystery Series                                                                           Jenn McKinlay: Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series                                                                    Nancy J. Parra: Baker’s Treat Mystery Series

One of the really fun things about these mystery series are the creative book titles that their authors come up with.  Can you tell which of the following titles is NOT an actual title of a book?

Liver Let Die                                                                                                                                           Murder for the Halibut                                                                                                           Eggsecutive Orders                                                                                                                           Rest in Pizza                                                                                                                                        The Missing Dough                                                                                                                               Going, Going, Ganache                                                                                                                           Gluten for Punishment

(All of the above are actual book titles)


–Carol W.




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