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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Summer Top Ten for Reading Groups

Twice a year the American Booksellers Association produces the Indie Next List for Reading Groups. The list is the most requested of any printed list that the ABA produces. Here’s a sampling:

2bookcover.phpOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

A brilliant coming of age story and New York Times Bestseller, Ordinary Grace received the 2014 Edgar Award for Best Novel, and topped School Library Journal’s list as best book of 2013.





bookcover.phpThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

A true story of American courage and determination, Brown’s book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their journey to an Olympic gold medal. These young sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers defeated elite European rivals, and Hitler, in their rousing quest to win the gold.


3bookcover.phpThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

So tickled to see this book on the list! The Rosie Project is the book I have been telling everybody to read. Simsion’s debut novel concerns a 39-year-old genetics professor with Asperger’s, who doesn’t know he has it. Don is trying to solve his “Wife Problem.”


To see all the booksellers’ top 10 favorites, click here.








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Mystery Monday: More Than a Mystery

Mystery MondayLooking for a fun read and more?  Check out local author, Diane Mott Davidson’s cozy mysteries series set in Aspen Meadows, Colorado.  (If you think this fictional town resembles Evergreen, CO, you’re spot on.  The author has a home there.)

Catering to NobodyIn these tales, local caterer, Goldy Schulz, is required again and again to figure out “who did it” when a variety of characters meet their demise.   Each book is based on a “food” theme.  What’s even better is that with these tales you’ll also have the opportunity to try your own hand with the delicious recipes that are included in the books.  I personally recommend that you read the series in order.

Here’s a list of the 17 books in this series:

Catering to Nobody (1990)

Dying for Chocolate (1993)

Cereal MurdersThe Cereal Murders (1994)

The Last Suppers (1995)

Killer Pancake (1996)

The Main Corpse (1997)

The Grilling Season (1998)

Prime Cut (2000)

Tough Cookie (2001)

Fatally FlakySticks and Scones (2002)

Chopping Spree (2003)

Double Shot (2005)

Dark Tort (2007)

Sweet Revenge (2008)

Fatally Flaky (2009)

Crunch Time (2011)

                                                         The Whole Enchilada (2013)

You can even access these books for your eReader.   One way or another, these books will leave you “hungry” for more!

– Carol W.

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Book vs. Movie










When our favorite books take to the big screen, we MUST decide whether the movie does the book justice. Or maybe you are someone who decides to read the book after you see the film version? (See Game of Thrones).

Today we are wondering about The Fault in Our Stars, since the movie has been out for a month now. What did you think? Was the book better, the movie spot on, or the actors  too different from how you pictured the characters?

We would love to get your comments below! Meanwhile, keep reading and then watching—or, uhhh, watching then reading. Oh, and if you want the music, too, click here.


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Mystery Monday: Favorite Literary Mysteries from a Mystery Writer

Mystery MondayThomas H. Cook, who has written over 20 mysteries and received an Edgar Award for his book, The Chatham School Affair, shared a list of the mystery books that are his personal favorites with Publishers Weekly.  His picks tend to be a bit literary but it’s always fun to see what books authors recommend.  Here’s a peak at some of his favorite mysteries that you can find at Douglas County Libraries:

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne

A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler

The Quiet American by Graham Greene

Sandrines CaseYou might also want to check out Mr. Cook’s latest mystery, Sandrine’s Case.   Sam Madison, a college professor at Georgia’s Coburn College, is on trial for killing his wife, Sandrine.  Sam is not necessarily a likeable character so it’s easy to imagine that he killed his wife and tried to make it look like suicide.  This looks like a pretty simple plot on the surface but this is a psychological courtroom thriller at its best that exams human nature and marriage.    There is a fabulous quote in the book stated by Sam’s daughter Alexandria: “Maybe that’s why married people try so hard to make things work.  It’s not that they love each other every day, right? It’s that they love each other enough to stay through the days they don’t.”

– Carol W.

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Mystery Monday: Don’t Do the Crime if You Can’t Do the Time

Mystery MondayWriter’s often write about what they know.  Did you know that several mystery writers have actually spent time behind bars?  Two of the most successful mystery writers who have been convicted of crimes are Jeffrey Archer and Anne Perry.  Anne has had over 25 million books published worldwide and her novels have been translated into 15 different languages.

Death on BlackheathIn March of this year, Anne Perry published her latest Thomas Pitt novel, Death on Blackheath.  Born Juliet Marion Hulme in Blackheath, London, the author had tuberculosis as a child and was sent to warmer climates to aid in her recovery.  Then when she was 13, her father was given a position as Rector of Canterbury University College in New Zealand and at that time, she rejoined her family.   Two years later, she helped her best friend, Pauline Parker, kill Pauline’s mother.  She served five years in a harsh New Zealand prison before eventually settling in rural Scotland and changing her name to Anne Perry.   There she lived a life of seclusion and began to write murder mysteries.  In 1994 her true identity came out when Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame) directed a film about the murder entitled Heavenly Creatures.

Several biographies about Anne, her background and her writing have been written.  A new biography just published is The Search for Anne Perry: The Hidden Life of a Bestselling Crime Writer by Joanne Drayton.  This biography draws parallels between Perry’s personal life experiences and those of her fictional characters and storylines.  It’s not often you get this kind of insight into a popular author–check it out!

–Carol W.

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Mystery Monday: Mystery Thrillers

Mystery MondayKnown for lots of action, plenty of close calls and narrow misses, Mystery Thrillers strive to keep you tense and on the edge of your seat.  Sometimes with these books, the villain is known from the beginning and the challenge is to stop him/her before another murder happens.

Fear NothingCop TownTwo benchmark authors for this style of mystery are Lisa Gardner and Karin Slaughter.    Lisa’s main mystery series involves Boston police detective D. D. Warren.   The latest in this series, Fear Nothing was published in January of this year where detective Warren is seriously injured and targeted by a serial killer who is terrorizing Boston.

Karin Slaughter has two mystery series: the Will Trent Mysteries set in Atlanta and the Grant County Mysteries (Georgia) whose main characters are Sara Linton, the town pediatrician and coroner, her ex-husband that she remarried, Jeffrey Tolliver (who is also the police chief) and detective Lena Adams who works under Tolliver.   Note that both of these authors have strong female protagonists.

Both authors have also written stand-alone novels.  A new stand alone thriller by Karin Slaughter hitting the stands tomorrow is Cop Town where a female rookie cop is trying to survive the “boy’s club” that is the Atlanta Police Department in the 1970s.  A small word of caution: these books are not cozies but meaty stories with gritty realism and may contain graphic violence.  Did your heart rate just go up?

–Carol W.

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