Here we will post our musings on a wide variety of titles. You can comment on our posts and find the titles in our catalog.

The Animals by Christian Kiefer

animalsI usually can’t handle reading any books in which animals die but I was able to get through Christian Kiefer’s The Animals without bawling my eyes out.  I actually hated taking breaks from it even as it was breaking my heart.  I found a kindred soul in the main character, Bill Reed, who owns and runs a wild animal sanctuary in Idaho.  All of the animals have disabilities and could not survive for long in the wild.  Bill does not have very many worldly goods and the sanctuary limps along barely making ends meet with great volunteers and Bill, who will go without if a bill pertaining to the animals needs to be paid.  He is fortunate in that his county sheriff believes in him and his girlfriend is a veterinarian.  The bad news is that there is a new game warden in his region who follows federal law to the letter and starts hassling Bill about permits that were never sought, etc. by Bill’s dead uncle who started the sanctuary.  He even says Bill will never be able to retroactively get a permit for Majer, his beloved blind bear who is over 30 and has never known anything but captivity or for Zeke, his wolf who was found so injured that one of his legs had to be amputated but is living very happily in the sanctuary with three legs.  The new warden says those animals will most likely have to be euthanized since they can’t be set free and the government won’t let Bill just take care of them until their natural death.  While Bill and Grace are gearing up to fight for the animals, an old friend shows up from Bill’s wild criminal past determined to make sure Bill doesn’t get to live a happy, good life.  Highly recommended.

Stacy W

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The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson

girl ghost eyesSet in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1880s, Li-Lin sees ghosts with her yin eyes. This supernatural gift is considered to be a curse by her father, a powerful Daoshi exorcist.  Li-Lin honors her father, but embraces her gift in spite of his disapproval. Now widowed, Li-Lin must make her own way in the world, without the full support of her father. When a family friend tricks her into taking a trip into the spirit world and tries to trap her there, Li-Lin is forced to take action to protect her life. The friend seems to be working with a powerful sorcerer, and soon, her father and the entire town are threatened by an ancient evil. With the help of a spirit in the shape of an eyeball, Li-Lin must embrace her own strengths to save those she loves. The Girl with Ghost Eyes is Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Kung Fu in this brilliant, vibrant debut.

Annette G.


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Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

cold-hearted-rakeDevon Ravenel had no plans to become an earl, but unfortunately for him, the title falls to him upon the death of his cousin. Arrogant, charming, and more than a little wicked, Devon is a scoundrel who thinks only of himself. His new title brings with it a dilapidated country estate, disgruntled tenants, and the guardianship of his cousin’s three sisters. Devon is all for evicting the sisters, selling the estate, and moving on with his life. The only thing that stands in his way? The stubborn disapproval of his late cousin’s widow, Kathleen. And Kathleen seems to have the ability to worm her way into the new earl’s thoughts, and sway his decisions. To his great dismay, the title of “earl” seems to force a personality change. Devon Revenel begins to *care.* Not only that, but he begins to care a great deal for Kathleen.

Devon has a long list of challenges to overcome: can he save the estate, help the beleaguered tenants, provide care for the late earl’s three sisters, and find a way to Kathleen his own? Sparks will fly and tempers will flare, but perhaps, in the end, true love will prevail.

Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite Regency romance authors. Cold-Hearted Rake is the first of a new series, and I am already eagerly awaiting the next one.

Annette G.

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Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

bull mountainIn Brian Panowich’s Bull Mountain, Sheriff Clayton Burroughs is trying his best to be a better man than everyone else in his extended family of criminals.  He is not corrupt, he is married to a good woman, and he tries to be a good boss.  Burroughs has messed up occasionally because he loves to drink but he has not touched alcohol for a while now.  FBI agent Simon Holly comes to Sheriff Burroughs wanting his help in convincing the Burroughs family to give up their criminal enterprise in the Georgian mountains and help him make a case against a bigger set of criminals in Florida that they have dealings with.  If the sheriff can convince his family, Agent Holly says they can retire from a life of crime with no jail time and keep all their earnings.  The sheriff’s wife wants him to have no part of getting back in contact with his family but the sheriff dreams of helping them go straight.  It is almost too late when he starts to wonder If Agent Holly is being on the level with him or if he has in own motivations in this grand scheme.  Awesome debut novel.

Stacy W.

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Choose Your Retirement: Find the Right Path to Your New Adventure by Emily Guy Birken

choose retirementI am 53 years old, and while I’m not all that close to retirement, I can see the prospect hoovering on the horizon. I’ve started to pay attention to what other people say about retirement in the news and on financial websites and blogs. And what other people say about retirement is often terribly confusing. Enter Emily Guy Birken and her book Choose Your Own Retirement: Find the Right Path to Your New Adventure, Ms. Birken deftly cuts through all the confusion, and finally, some of the process starts to make sense.

The first part of this book asks you to take a hard look at how you think about money, and this is valuable, because how you think about money plays a role in how you invest and how you spend when you retire. Ms. Birken also helps debunk all the popular retirement myths that seem to be the staple advice offered by other experts. And then she gives you tools to analyze your own finances to see what works best for you.

However, my favorite section of the book is the one that asks you to really think about what you want to do in retirement. Do you want to travel? Then you may have to put away more funds in order to retire, travel, and be happy. I love the fact that the author suggests you think about your typical retirement day, for both you and your spouse. I think, too often, people just assume they’ll enjoy living in Florida, but the reality of it, of having no close family, no close friends, no community ties–is much different than what they expect.

This resource has some of expected “Let’s crunch the numbers” chapters, but they are written it readable text that was not intimidating. Ms. Birken also offers insightful chapters on retiring early and on working part-time during retirement. She truly covers all the bases here. If you are looking for a good retirement planning resource to start the process, then this is the book for you.

Annette G.

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Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow

typhoid maryI really enjoy reading about different diseases, but I like to get the books from the Youth Department. They have just enough information with out being too technical for my interest. Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow was a very interesting read. I’m sure most people know that Typhoid Mary was exiled to live on an island, but did you know she NEVER believed that she was a typhoid carrier. And even though the book list many other carriers who caused death, she was the only one exiled. Interestingly, the man who tracked down Typhoid Mary had a Ph.D. in engineering and advertised himself as a “Sanitary Engineer and Chemist,” I always thought a medical doctor figured out who she was. Typhoid outbreaks still occasionally happen in the United States and is spread through feces, so the books ends with instructions on hand washing (which is still the best defense again typhoid) from the website for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (

Polly R.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six-of-CrowsI love heist movies and adore clever criminals. I suspect many others like them too, or “Robin Hood” would not continue to be such a beloved tale. So when I read the blurb for Six of Crows and understood that it was a novel about a dangerous heist undertaken by six young, clever people, I knew I had to read it. The story is set in Ketterdam, a Scandinavian-flavor fantasy city complete with an active criminal element. Kaz Brekker is a criminal prodigy, and he has been asked to free a man from an impregnable prison. If he succeeds, he will be rich beyond his wildest dreams. And if he fails, he will likely be dead. Thankfully, Kaz is smart enough not to go it alone. Enter Nina, a girl with the magical power to stop someone’s heart; Inej, a gifted acrobat who goes by the name of the Wraith; Jesper, a skilled sharp-shooter with a gambling debt; Wylan, a demolitions expert with a highborn past; and Matthias, a convict in search of revenge. Together, they are the Six of Crows, and together, they are heading into trouble.

This is the first book of a new series, set in the same fantasy universe as Bardugo’s Grisha series. The magical elements of her other books are present here, but you do not have to read her other works before diving into this one. This book is darker in tone than her other titles, and the story focuses on action, not romance. The characters are all flawed, but in a way that makes them more likeable, more human. The pacing is fast, and the dialogue snappy. The story is told in the shifting points of view of the Crows themselves, in a style you more often see in epic fantasy. Yet, epic fantasy may have more than one story unfolding in the different points of view, and with Six of Crows, you have one continuous story told from many angles.  I found the storytelling style to be original, but a little off-putting, at least to start. Once I knew enough about the characters, the fast flow of the story started me flipping the pages like mad. This is an excellent start to a new young adult series, one that can be enjoyed by adults as well.

Annette G.

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Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

wake of vulturesImagine Louie L’Amour meets the paranormal. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen has components of Native American myths, legends, and western history, as well as elements of the paranormal: werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, and many others. Nettie Lonesome is an orphaned and abandoned half Native American, half African-American young woman. The family that “raised” her treated her like a slave. These actions in some ways helped her throughout the challenges she faces in the paranormal world. From the very beginnings of her violent introductions into the this world, horses are her love. Her understanding of horses and her stubbornness help her learn about not just herself but the world itself. When she faces these paranormal creatures you see her grow as an individual, how she makes her own destiny. If you are looking for a Twilight type book this one is not for you. If you would love a paranormal story with a unique writing setting, and a writing style that keeps you interested, this is for you. Please know that there is a cliff hanger.

Sarah B.


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Haunted Plantations of the South by Richard Southall

haunted plantationsThe mansion that may have inspired Tara in Gone With The Wind, children poisoned by a slave with a grudge, haunted slave graveyards, a phantom party at the ruins of a mansion destroyed by fire—these are only a few of the hauntings and location places described in this tour of antebellum Southern plantations with tales and legends of ghosts and spirits attached.  Haunted Plantations of the South is a compact volume that  covers a selection (necessarily limited) of such estates throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, the Carolinas, and Virginia.

The genuine strength of this book is the way the author weaves the history of each plantation, along with the general history of the times, with the story of the hauntings reported to take place in and around each.   The author’s easygoing prose is detailed and informative.   The biggest disappointment is the lack of photographs, of which there are only two, and those in the introduction.  The book would’ve gained immensely in interest had each segment been preceded by a photograph of the plantation.   I recommend sitting with Google Image Search close at hand as you read!

Alison M.

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The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

Nature of the BeastI discovered Louise Penny about five years ago, and she has quickly become one of my favorite mystery authors. The Nature of the Beast is Ms. Penny’s eleventh title in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and this is the best book yet. In The Nature of the Beast, we find Armand Gamache living in the tiny town of Three Pines. He has retired from the his position as Chief Inspector of the Sûreté de Québec, but soon, he finds himself using his old detective skills. A young boy named Laurent has been found dead. An accident, the police say, but Armand is not so sure. Soon, his suspicions lead to a bigger, more ominous investigation as a terrible monster is found in the woods near the town. Ruth Zardo, the resident poet, seems to know more about this darkness that haunts the town than anyone else, yet she does not give Armand more than odd quotes and strange hints. Soon, another murder occurs, and it is clear that Armand and the rest of the Sûreté de Québec have their work cut out for them to find the killer.

I loved this book, and very much enjoyed visiting with the residents of Three Pines. Louise Penny writes novels unlike any other mystery series available today. Not only do you have a true-hearted, intelligent detective, but you have a marvelous cast of characters. Penny mixes her mystery with culture, art, music, and deep thoughts. Excellent, and not to be missed. The Nature of the Beast is a good starting point for this series.

Annette G.

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