The Genius of Dogs: how dogs are smarter than you think, by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods

geniusofdogsDo you have the smartest dog around? Or are you often reminded that, while you love your pet, your Fido is perhaps not the brightest bulb in the box? Readers on either side of this question will find this book a revelation. The Genius of Dogs is a fascinating account of the canine species, those amazingly adaptable creatures who are so integral to the lives of their human companions.

How well do you think you know your dog? In recent years, studies at the Duke Canine Cognition Lab and other research facilities around the world have tackled questions that we humans have only pondered and probably disagreed about until now. Consider this– do dogs feel guilt? Do they pretend they can’t hear us? How powerful is their need for reward of some kind from humans? Pioneered by Brian Hare, the research shows how all dogs are capable of a kind of “genius” for getting along with people that is indisputably unique in the animal kingdom, with all due respect to you cat lovers out there.

Aside from being a fact-filled, fun-to-read foray into animal research, the book reveals how the notion of dog genius can meaningfully impact how we live with, work with, and train our dogs. So, get ready to take another look at the dogs in your life.  I even found myself talking to my own dog about this book. While he declined to discuss, his seemingly impassive gaze has now taken on new meaning for me.


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Mystery Monday: Hercule Poirot is Back!

Mystery MondayWith the blessing of the Christie estate, Sophie Hannah has written a new Hercule Poirot mystery, The Monogram Murders, and the reviews are impressive.

mongramAs Hercule is dining alone in a London coffee shop in 1929, a terrified young woman arrives and asks Poirot NOT to investigate her death when she is murdered.  She insists that no one can help her and no one should search for her killer.  Soon Hercule and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard are dealing with 3 bodies–2 women and 1 man who are found poisoned in a hotel near Piccadilly Circus and each victim has a monogrammed gold cuff link in their mouth.  With such an amazing beginning, one might wonder if Hannah can keep the pace going (which she does brilliantly).  She inserts dazzling deductions from Poirot, subtle clues and “Christie-style” red herrings with expertise.

When it was announced last year that Hannah would be writing a new Poirot novel there was a lot of speculation thrown around that she would be resurrecting Poirot (no, he really was killed in Curtain by Agatha Christie) or that she would update him.  Hannah’s response to these concerns was “So, am I, perhaps going to update him?  Heavens, no.  Poirot is a classic character from fiction, not a MacBook Air; he would not benefit from updates.  What about ‘recreate’, then? No again.  His inventor created him so well that there is nothing to add.  We all love (and are intermittently infuriated by) Poirot just the way he is.”

So enjoy a wonderful new mystery with Hercule Poirot brilliantly solving every last puzzle and making perfect sense of all of the clues.  You won’t be disappointed!  Also, if you can’t get your hands on this book immediately, take a look at Sophie Hannah’s Zailer and Waterhouse Mystery Series: Little Face (#1)The Truth Tellers Lie (#2),The Wrong Mother (#3), The Dead Lie Down(#4),  Cradle in the Grave (#5), The Other Woman’s House (#6) and Kind of Cruel (#7).

– Carol W.

P.S.  One fun fact that I discovered about several of the character names in this mystery (including Catchpool), is that the author got her inspiration from names in a cemetery near her house (Mill Road Cemetery in Cambridge, England)!  Hannah doesn’t use exact Christian & surnames from the gravestones (she felt that would have been too much of a boundary violation) but used the headstones as her inspiration for names.

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Fall Buzz Books from Harper Collins


Recently we hosted publisher’s representatives Virginia Stanley and Annie Mazes from Harper Collins as they presented DCL staff with a webinar preview of some hot upcoming titles for fall, and into the next year. Some of these titles are available to request now–Click here to see.

Here is a sampling of what’s in store from Harper Collins!

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah


Accomplished mystery author Sophie Hannah has successfully channeled Agatha Christie, and with the blessings of the late author’s estate, has launched what has been called “the literary event of the year.” Starred reviews from both Publisher’s weekly and Library Journal lend credence to the predictions that fans will delight in this all new mystery, featuring Christie’s legendary Hercule Poirot.




Us by David Nicholls

UsFrom the publisher: “Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?”


Yes Please by Amy Pohler

untitledAmy Pohler has hit it big, starring in an award winning and hilariously irreverent television comedy series, Parks and Recreation, and finding success as a comedian, director and producer. With this memoir, she can add author to her list of accomplishments. Yes Please is full of thoughts, stories and advice from one of the top performers in the entertainment business today.

As an aside, I’ll never forget Parks and Recreation’s seriously funny take on the local library, which is the nemesis of Pohler’s character in the show. She loathes those librarians, who manage to garner the lion’s share of the funding from the small community where the series is set. Perhaps that plot was hatched before Pohler’s desire to author books, but let’s agree not to hold it against her!



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Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks


Occasionally a new novelist garners high praise with a debut, as is the case with Malcolm Brooks and his vivid and poignant, Painted Horses.

Catherine Lemay is setting out for a summer in Montana to prove herself. It’s the 1950’s paintedhorsesand as a newly minted archaeologist and a woman, she has a lot to prove. She soon suspects that her inexperience and sex are the very reasons she was the person sent to explore a doomed canyon for artifacts, right before it is to be submerged by a huge dam project. The people she meets are interested in Catherine and her work, but for different reasons. She is drawn into this western setting, which proves to be both untouched and untamed and is at odds with a country hell bent on post war progress. The locals are an enigma, particularly John H., a horseman who holds his secrets as deeply as the landscape itself.

By blending astutely drawn characters, a wonderfully compelling plot and a singularly memorable setting, Brooks creates a story that offers both a literary tone and wide reader appeal. This is no small feat for any writer, and Painted Horses has drawn comparisons to the works of Wallace Stegner and Cormac McCarthy. This is one for the keeper shelf.


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Mystery Monday: Labor Day!

Mystery MondayIn honor of Labor Day, I thought it fitting to showcase a mystery series by a Colorado author who gave us some great tales that were truly “labored” over so that we could enjoy the end results.

Booked to DieIn Booked to Die, The Bookman’s Wake, The Bookman’s Promise, Sign of the Book and The Bookwoman’s Last Fling, John Dunning has created a mystery series that examines the used and rare book industry and the places it can take you– from the troubled South in 1860 to the modern day racetrack circuit.

Similar to Spanish police detective Hector Selgado mentioned last week (The Summer of Dead Toys), Cliff Janeway is a homicide detective who goes after a suspect with both fists.  Unlike Hector, Det. Janeway loses his job.  To make ends meet, Janeway turns to his long-time passion–rare books and opens a small bookshop on seedy East Colfax in Denver that specializes in rare and 1st edition books.  Rare volumes begin to turn up but so do dead bodies.

If you haven’t read this series, check it out.  In John Dunning’s biography posted on the Old Algonquin Books website, it’s noted that John always wanted to write and overcame ADD to make it happen.  As his bio states, “Often the inability to concentrate demanded eight or ten hours of effort for two good hours of work”.  We are fortunate to reap the rewards of his efforts.  We wish him the best as he deals with the challenges in his life!

– Carol W.

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The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

BigBuzzBannerAs any history buff understands all too well, “time is of the essence”. For people who feel assassinationofMTtoo busy to read novels, short stories could be the answer. Those featured in Hilary Mantel’s upcoming collection, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, are contemporary, not historical, but the themes of “marriage, class, family and sex” are timeless. Save yourself time by clicking on the title to request your copy.

Mantel has been awarded the Man Booker Prize not just once—but twice– for the first two novels in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The books paint a fascinating picture of England in the 1520’s, and chronicle the machinations of an ambitious Cromwell at the behest of Henry VIII. Besides winning great critical acclaim they have been a treat for Anglophiles and history buffs alike.

wolfhall         bringupbodies

Oh, and here’s another tip for the hurried and harried reader. BBC/Masterpiece will air a 6-part adaptation of the novels in Spring of 2015, starring Damien Lewis as Henry VIII and Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell. Read—watch—it will be worth your time!


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Mystery Monday: The Summer of Dead Toys

DCL_MysteryWe read books for a variety of reasons.  While I enjoy reading a cozy mystery for the lightness of the mystery, I also love to read a book with layers that grabs you and really pulls you into the story.  One book that I recently finished that fits the latter category is The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill. (Check out his books in our catalog under Toni Hill.)

The Summer of Dead ToysSet in Barcelona, Spain, this story seems simplistic at first glance but develops into a surprising multi-layered tale that keeps you guessing to the last page.  Even when things seem resolved, there’s another surprise waiting around the corner.

Hector Salgado is a great and experienced detective for the Barcelona police department.  Unfortunately, while working on his last case that involved human trafficking, he lost his cool and assaulted one of the suspect’s.  This is never good for a police officer no matter how brilliant your career has been.  To save his career, Hector is told to take a vacation.  When he returns, he is fortunate to still have a job but he has been assigned to look into an accidental death–a case that could have been assigned to someone with less experience.  As Hector pieces together the details of that fateful night, he begins to realize that there are pieces that don’t fit and secrets that indicate the death was more than an accident.  Hector seems to have his own secrets as well though and the suspect that he assaulted has disappeared. (This is where in a film, dark music would begin…)

I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading Hill’s next mystery, The Good Suicides.  My only complaint is that the dust jacket for The Summer of Dead Toys is not very exciting, so especially in this case, don’t judge the book by its cover!  For more information about Antonio Hill, check out this link.

Please note: I received a copy of this book to read courtesy of Blogging for Books.  However, my favorable review reflects the quality of the book not the paperback edition that I received to review it.

– Carol W.


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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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