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 Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

woman-in-cabin-10Lo Blacklock is looking forward to her next writing assignment as a travel journalist. She is to be a guest aboard the Aurora, a luxury ship with only room for a few select passengers. But before she can leave on her trip, her life is threatened by a home invasion and she has a huge fight with her boyfriend. By the time she boards the ship, she’s off-kilter and trying to make the best of the situation. The guests all seem to have secret agendas or secrets of their own. Lo tries to get serious about her assignment, but one evening, she hears a splash and sees someone or something fall into the ocean from the cabin next door. Yet, no one seems to know anything about a woman in that cabin when Lo raises the alarm. Lo’s tension turns to fear as she tries to investigate the event on her own.

I enjoyed Ruth Ware’s previous title, In a Dark, Dark Wood. The Woman in Cabin 10 has a similar feel to it, trapping the reader in a closed door, character driven mystery. Fans of Agatha Christie will particularly enjoy this book as while the mystery is twisty, it is not graphic nor gory. The setting–the cruise ship–was fresh and fun, though I do admit I liked the creepy forest setting from the first book just a wee bit better.

Annette G.

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Meathead: the Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling by Meathead Goldwyn

meatheadJust in time for the grilling season Meathead Goldwyn ( has come out with Meathead: the Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling.  I always like science mixed in with my cookbooks (which is why I love America’s Test Kitchen books and magazines) because there are a lot of beliefs out there related to baking and cooking that turn out to be false when experiments are done.  It’s fun to see someone make recipes in several different ways over and over to prove or disprove something.  I would actually do this in my own kitchen but would go broke –I don’t want to buy 6 different expensive prime rib roasts to experiment on, I need to get it right the first time!  For example, one of the experiments was about whether or not steaks and roasts need to “rest” after cooking (it is supposed to help them retain their juices).  So they cooked rib eyes and cut into one immediately and one got to rest.  They repeated the experiment many times and the difference ended up being only one teaspoon more of juices lost from the one cut right away!  I’m going to eat my steak fresh and hot from the grill now like I’ve always preferred to. With roasts the difference was one ounce more of juice lost if it was cut into immediately-again not as big a deal as we have been led to believe.  Another myth dispelled is that the pink juice from your rare steak is blood.  I love my steak rare and always get to hear how gross that is and some people can’t stand to see blood on plates.  Well, guess what?  It’s not blood, it’s called myowater – in other words, juice.  If it was blood it would be darker and coagulate on the plate!  And here I’ve thought that I just loved the taste of blood when I really just love the taste of meat juice!  Lots of great recipes inside.

Stacy W.

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Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman

bronte“There’s a fire and a fury raging in that little woman and scorching her heart,” author William Makepeace Thackeray observed of Charlotte Brontë. “She has a story and a great grief that has gone badly with her.”

Bronte did have a sad life, albeit one of magnificent creativity. Losing her mother in childhood and all of her five siblings before her own early death at age 38, the author most famous for Jane Eyre suffered for years from an unrequited love for her Brussels instructor Constantin Heger and could not help resenting the conventions of the day that necessitated both her and her sisters Emily and Anne adopting male pseudonyms in order to publish their first novels.

The author of this new biography (published just in time for the bicentennial of Charlotte Bronte’s birth) manages to bring a fresh view and on occasion a mildly wry sense of humor to the story of Charlotte Bronte and her famously gifted and socially awkward family. The focus is on Bronte’s relationships with her family, friends and publishers, and the author doesn’t shy away from illustrating her subject’s social and occupational idiosyncrasies and repressed anger and grief at her professional and personal situation The high quality of the author’s research allows her to illustrate effectively relations of themes in Bronte’s work to events occurring in her life at the time of their composition.

Readers familiar with Bronte’s life and work will particularly enjoy revisiting both in this engaging book, Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman.

Alison M.

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How to Eat in the Woods by Bradford Angier

eat in woodsHow to eat in the woods : a complete guide to foraging, trapping, fishing, and finding sustenance in the wild by Bradford Angier is one of the best survival guides I’ve ever read.  This is not a book about what is edible to add to your salad from the forest or how to live in an isolated area where you can only get to the store every month or so.  This is “I’m in the middle of nowhere with no food or water for days what do I do?”  If you are starving and dehydrated, don’t eat!  You will only dehydrate yourself further.  If the only item available is lean meat, don’t eat!  You can die from eating only lean meat after a few days (Who knew?  Apparently outdoorsy people up north know this).  Unless you know what you’re doing, avoid mushrooms altogether – don’t even bother trying to identify them with a guidebook.  The book also covers various ways to make a fire, make traps and snares, skinning and butchering, making weapons and stealing fresh kills from wolves, coyotes, or bears (!). Very interesting.

Stacy W.

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Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

raymie-nightingale-by-kate-dicamilloIt is 1975 and Raymie Clarke is determined to learn to twirl a baton so she can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. If she does, she is sure she will get her picture in the newspaper, where her father will see it. And if he sees it, he will surely come back home to live with Raymie and her mom. Raymie meets Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski, both of whom have reasons to want to be Little Miss Central Florida Tire. The three girls could have been rivals, but instead, they become friends. Together they find a lost library book, look for a missing cat, and mourn for a elderly friend who has died. While each girl clearly has problems in their personal lives, they do not let those problems define them. Instead, they love, laugh, and enjoy life, and you see the strength of their characters shine though.

This book does not offer easy answers to any of the problems the girls must face. Instead, Raymie Nighingale celebrates the power of friendship and the joy of every day things. I very much enjoyed this one, though I do wish that Ms. DiCamillo had given the relationship between Raymie and her father a little more depth. That way, the loss of that relationship would have had more meaning to me.

Annette G.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

red queenAnother classic tale of poor peasant vs royalty or is that the case at all?

Recently I finished reading Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. A fellow circulation co-worker highly recommended this book since we had both liked the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.

Living in a world where your blood color dictates your social and economic status is rough for our heroine Mare Barrow as she is of the “red” blood lower class society. After meeting the prince she is suddenly a servant for the royal “silver” blood family. However a discovery occurs that throws Mare into the “silver” status that she must learn to live like the royalty and have an arrange courtship.

In the classic case of “silver” vs “red” will the Scarlet Rebellion led by some of the reds be able to staunch the “Silver” war and oppression and what will happen when Mare’s true status is revealed?

Be sure to pick up this great read from TCPL.

Jolene L.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

mist furyIf I start a new series and I love book 1, I am often wary of book 2. So often, authors really didn’t plan out their characters or their world well enough to make the second book as good or better than the first. Oftentimes, the second book feels like filler as we wait for the ‘rest of the story’ told in book three. I read and deeply adored Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first book in a series of the same name. I hoped for the best with book two, and I can honestly say that the second book of this series is better than the first. Much, much better.

A Court of Mist and Fury takes up the story almost immediately after the events in the first book. In that first book, Feyre faced and defeated Amarantha, a cruel power-hungry fae woman who had brought the rest of the land of the fae to its knees. Her victory deeply changed Feyre. Now, back in the Spring Court with Tamlin, she should be happily readying herself for her wedding. Instead her spirit is broken, and she has trouble caring about anyone or anything. Just as she’s ready to walk down the aisle to wed Tamlin, Rhysand, Lord of the Night Court, arrives and takes her away. The event may be the start of a war between the Spring Court and the Night Court, but it also may mean salvation for Feyre.

This book deepened the mythology of the series, and more clearly defined the characters. Feyre is not the same person she was in the first book, and I enjoyed that the author allowed her to change and grow. Tamlin and Rhysand’s true characters are revealed, and we are introduced to a number of delightful new characters. By the end of the book, we are given an event that will change the story yet again, one that will again allow, I think, Feyre and the others to grow and adapt. The story felt fresh, with just the right mix of action and character development. This book will appeal to fans of Maas’ previous books, but also should appeal to fans of Kresley Cole, Nalini Singh, and Gena Showalter. This series is an adult series, as some of the relationships are graphic in nature.
Annette G.

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While the City Slept by Eli Sanders

city sleptEli Sanders’ While the City Slept is a riveting account of rape and murder committed by a mentally ill man in Seattle,WA.  Sanders won the Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper reporting of the crime and he does an excellent job with his descriptions and histories of the victims, the criminal, and most of all the state of mental health assistance today.  A lot of people think of big corporations, money, technology, rain, certain rock bands, etc. when they think of Washington state but just like most states (in fact it is one of the worst), Washington chooses to spend its tax money on almost everything but mental health.  Huge tax breaks are given out to corporations while fewer and fewer spaces are available in mental health institutions because of lack of funding.  The mentally ill are usually poor and are just not going to be as attractive to politicians as corporations like Boeing and Microsoft.   Until 2014, whenever families could not take anymore and brought their mentally ill family member to an emergency room, hospitals just strapped them to a gurney and put them in hallways for indefinite amounts of time because the state’s mental institutions had no room for more (actually they did have a lot of room they just couldn’t fill it because of the lack of funding).  Thankfully, this was recently made illegal but that just means the ill person is put back out on the street.  Sanders says that in 1955 when we still had many mental institutions there were 500,000 people in them.  By 1980, after we had closed a lot of them and went with a “community treatment” model (which doesn’t seem to be working) that number had dropped to 155,000!  The criminal in this case, Isaiah Kalebu, should have been in treatment (involuntarily) long before he committed these horrible acts but between the lack of funding, different courts/schools lack of communication with each other and his resistance to any help, other people were going to be victimized, it was just a matter of time.  How many times do we have to hear this kind of thing?  Why does a place like Seattle have such outdated software in its court system that it can’t communicate with other courts in the same area? Great book.

Stacy W

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Little Robot & Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

I have discovered a treasure, and this type of treasure only gets more valuable with the sharing. What treasure, you ask? Clearly, it is not a winning lottery ticket, because would already be living in Hawaii and I certainly would not share. This treasure is an author and illustrator. His name? Ben Hatke, and he writes the most wonderful  graphic novels for young children.

zitaHe has written a series of three graphic novels about the adventures of an intelligent girl, lost, through no fault of her own, in space. The first book, Zita the Spacegirl: Far From Home tells the tale of Zita, who pushes a red button she shouldn’t have pushed and gets pulled into a strange area of space along with her best friend Joseph. Now, far from home, Zita must try to deal with aliens, a broken red button, a suspicious pied piper, and a missing best friend. Can Zita face her fears, find her friend, fix the red button, and finally get home? The titles in this series are Zita the Spacegirl: Far From Home, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, and The Return of Zita the Spacegirl. These books would appeal to readers from third grade and up.


little robotBen’s newest book, titled Little Robot, also features a plucky girl character as she finds adventure. In Little Robot, we meet a young girl who just happens across a little robot, one lost from his shipment of other robots headed for a factory. The girl overcomes her wariness, and she and Little Robot are soon fast friends. As Little Robot learns about the world, he longs for friends like himself, but the girl does not want to let him go. When danger from Little Robot’s past threatens them both, can their friendship survive? This graphic novel is aimed at a younger audience than Zita the Spacegirl, with a good portion of the story being told without words. When words are used, they are simple enough that I would happily put this into the hands of a six year old. Ben’s illustrations are superb, and actions and emotions are clearly conveyed through the artwork.

As a woman with a science and engineering background, I applaud that all the books mentioned here feature girls that are bold, smart, and able to fix their own problems and technology. Boys should still enjoy the titles, as they feature wit, charm, and a goodly dash of sly humor. Well done, Ben Hatke. Well done!

Annette G.

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Stillwater by Melissa Lenhardt

stillwaterJack McBride, formerly an FBI agent, has taken the Chief of Police job in Stillwater, Texas. He arrives in town with his teenaged son, Ethan, buys the house of a local woman named Ellie Martin, and wonders about how his predecessor, Buck Pollard, left office in such a hurried fashion. Buck Pollard, he is told, ran a tight ship and crime was at an all time low in town while he was on the job. Jack is left little time to wonder about this curious matter, as his first day on the job he is called to investigate the violent death of a local couple. What looks to be a murder-suicide soon becomes a straight up murder, and Jack has few clues to follow to find the killer. Buck Pollard’s presence becomes a factor in the investigation, as Buck seems to have the continued loyalty of Jack’s officers. The plot thickens as Buck’s machinations start to affect Ethan at school. Jack begins to wonder if he made the right decision in coming to Stillwater after all.

Stillwater is an excellent mystery, full of small town gossip and small town situations. The crimes are serious ones, and it is clear that Jack will handle them as the professional he is, in spite of how things were handed by Buck Pollard before him. I loved the people living in the town of Stillwater, I loved the fact that Jack McBride’s family plays a role in the story, and I loved Ellie Martin, a love interest for Jack. This is not a romance book, and not a cozy mystery involving knitting, recipes, or tea drinking sleuths. This is a well-crafted mystery, full of vibrant characters, interesting storylines, and subtle subplots that will certainly play a part of future Jack McBride mysteries.

Stillwater is the first book in the Jack McBride series. Book 2, The Fisher King, comes out in November of 2016.

Annette G.

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