Staff Picks

The Story of Romeo and Juliet as told by Juliet’s nurse

Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen is historical fiction set in Verona, Italy that provides a backstory to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It made me re-read Romeo and Juliet after finishing this book. Half of the book covers the years 1360-1363 from Juliet’s birth until she is three years old. The second half covers the five fateful days as depicted in Shakespeare’s play when Juliet is fourteen years old and meets and falls in love with Romeo.

Four Friends by Robyn Carr

Family and friends are such an important part of the holiday season and Four Friends by Robyn Carr is a perfect example of appreciating both. Carr has a way of writing about real people with real lives, and the four women in this book deal with very hard and very real issues. The constant throughout the book is friendship, and the strong bond between the four women sees them through. They may not always agree with each other's decisions, but their support for one another is unwavering and makes them stronger in the end.

'Tis the Season!

Are you in need of a little Christmas inspiration or looking for a last minute Christmas gift for the reader on your list? I have been reading a few of the 2014 Christmas books over the past few weeks and want to share my favorites with you. There is a little bit of everything on the list, from mystery to romance, with both historical and contemporary settings.


For readers who like family sagas

Pulitzer-prizewinning novelist Jane Smiley’s latest book, Some Luck, is the first in her “Last Hundred Years” trilogy which chronicles the hopes and sorrows of the Langdon family of rural Iowa from 1920 to the present. If you enjoy family sagas such as Ken Follett’s “Century” trilogy, then you should read Some Luck. Each chapter of Some Luck covers a year from1920 to 1953 as Walter returns from WWI to the land that he just purchased and to start a family with his wife Rosanna.

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

In my last blog post I said I would share my thoughts on this year's Christmas books and I have to tell you there are some good ones out this year. I just read The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson and I think it would make the perfect gift for the animal lover on your list. It is a humorous and heartwarming tale filled with colorful characters, cats, wit and humor, a little light romance, and... cats.

It is official - I have been bitten by the Christmas bug!

I know it is early.... but I have officially been bitten by the Christmas bug. There is a fresh dusting of snow on the ground and the library is already partially decorated for the holidays. This is the time of year when many authors offer up their yearly Christmas book and I hope to read new titles as I catch them and share my thoughts with you. Luckily, most of the books are short and sweet and very easy reads. My first selection is An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer.

Sometimes authors surprise us...

I have long been a fan of author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Her romance stories are written with style and grace, and most times love conquers all when the story comes to a happy ever after ending. She certainly surprised me with her latest book, Heroes are My Weakness. Even though the title hints at a romantic setting, this one has a much darker and serious feel to it. In some ways, the beginning had elements of classic gothic romances like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

Returning to Gilead: Lila by Marilynne Robinson

This is the story of Lila, the much younger wife of Reverend John Ames, first introduced in the Pulitzer prize-winning novel Gilead. Marilynne Robinson’s books, Gilead, Home, and Lila are set in the small Iowa town of Gilead and are about things of the heart and spirit.

The Glass Kitchen: a novel of sisters by Linda Francis Lee

It might be the chill in the air, or the fact that winter is right around the corner, but lately I seem to be drawn to books about food. The storyline in The Glass Kitchen: a novel of sisters by Linda Francis Lee revolves around food, but is also the story of a young woman plucked from her childhood home in Texas and dropped into the bustling world of Manhattan. Struggling to make a new life for herself, with the help of her sisters, Portia Cuthcart uses her kitchen as a refuge which allows her to forgive, forget, and open herself up to her unique gift of magical food.

Chick-Lit novels with recipes

International bestselling author Jenny Colgan writes delicious little books that I consider total chick-lit. Similar to author Sophie Kinsella, most of Colgan's novels are set in England or France, and are fun reads filled with terms like "bugger" and "sod" that make the stories that much more engaging to me. The books I have read so far are Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, and Sweetshop of Dreams. Each story is unique, and all contain recipes guaranteed to make your sweet tooth tingle.

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