Sue’s May Recommendation

The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl
the last dickensSue says:
“Loved this historical mystery. Lots of period details and it had all of the exciting twists and turns of a great Dickens serial novel. I will be reading Pearl’s other bestsellers The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow next.”
Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dickens‘s untimely death reaches the office of his struggling American publisher, Fields & Osgood, partner James Osgood sends Daniel Sand to take possession of the unfinished novel. When Sand is killed, Osgood and Rebecca Sand journey to England determined to recover the manuscript and stop a murderous mastermind. – from publisher
 3 Similar Reads
The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons
While in America to solve the mystery of the 1885 death of Clover Adams, wife of the esteemed historian Henry Adams, Sherlock Holmes and Henry James find themselves involved in matters of national importance possibly orchestrated by Moriarty
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
In this unflaggingly suspenseful story of aspirations and moral redemption, humble, orphaned Pip, a ward of his short-tempered older sister and her husband, Joe, is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman.
For anyone who has ever wondered whether a duke outranked an earl, when to yell “Tally Ho!” at a fox hunt, or how one landed in “debtor’s prison,” this book serves as an indispensable historical and literary resource.

Richard’s March Recommendation

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

live and let dieRichard says:  “Live and Let Die is the second novel in Ian Fleming’s iconic James Bond series.  At the risk of spoiling Casino Royale‘s ending, the most I’ll say is that it follows directly from the events in the preceding booka marked difference from the movies, which tend toward self-contained narratives.  Agent 007, MI5’s most dependable operative, is sent to New York City to unravel the mystery of ‘Mr. Big’ (AKA, ‘Buonaparte Ignace Gallia’), a shadowy criminal mastermind with connections to the Soviet Union.  In the process, Bond uncovers a disturbing connection between gold smugglersapparently a favorite theme of Fleming’sa voodoo cult, and the USSR’s sinister SMERSH operations.  Naturally, Bond is the only man for the job.

This probably sounds familiar, and rightly so.  James Bond has been fully absorbed into the collective pop culture consciousness; he has changed with the times to suit each generation’s expectations.  As a result, readers who have seen the motion pictures will recognize many of the series’ well-worn tropes, albeit filtered through the lens of the 1950s:  globetrotting adventures, a mysterious and beautiful woman whose primary role is to be Bond’s love interest, a ruthless megalomaniac bent on world domination, and enough racy double entendres to make even Geoffrey Chaucer blush.  In other words, Bond fans will find a lot to enjoy in this book.  It’s worth pointing out, though, that the novelswhile subtly humorousare nowhere near as outrageous as many of the movies.

Live and Let Die was later adapted into a notoriously campy film, notable mostly for featuring Roger Moore’s first turn as James Bond.  One of the series’ more lightweight entries, Live and Let Die lacks the cool sophistication of From Russia with Love or the grandiosity of The Spy Who Loved Me.  Still, the movie has a lot to recommend:  Jane Seymour’s radiant Solitaire (still one the most popular and recognizable ‘Bond girls’), Moore’s wry take on 007, a killer theme song by Paul McCartney and Wings, and a suitably tongue-in-cheek tone.  These items keep the film afloat, even if it lacks many elements of the best Bond flicks.  While it borders on the absurd, Live and Let Die never quite falls victim to the cringeworthy cheese that bogs down Moore’s later performances in a quagmire of ludicrous plots and gadgets.  The book is great and comes highly recommended; however, the film is probably a ‘fans only’ proposition.”

3 Similar Reads

Solo:  A James Bond Novel by William Boyd “James BondBritish special agent 007is summoned to headquarters to receive an unusual assignment.  Zanzarim, a troubled West African nation, is being ravaged by a bitter civil war, and M directs Bond to quash the rebels threatening the established regime.” – Summary from catalog

Rain on the Dead by Jack Higgins “In the past few years, the killing and capture of many Al-Qaeda leaders has left the terrorist organization woundedbut by no means dead.  And they intend to prove it.  On a dark summer night, two Chechen mercenaries emerge from the waters off Nantucket to kill a high-value target, the former president of the United States, Jake Cazalet.  Unfortunately for them, Cazalet has guests with him, including black ops specialist Sean Dillon and his colleague, Afghan war hero Captain Sara Gideon” Summary from publisher

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen “Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is drawn into the mystery of a child that had been abducted eight years earlier, and must use her skills with age progression as a way to reunite mother and son.  But Eve must face looming demons of her own.”   Summary from catalog

Weekly Spotlight On: London

This week Clarence House (the royal residence of Prince Charles) announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child. Follow Twitter hashtag #RoyalBaby to read more about what the world is saying about the news.

There will be plenty of news stories circulating again about the Royal family. RFPL has a good number of books about the British Monarchy and the history of London, so we are profiling some for you here!

Try some of our biographies on Kate. In print we have Kate Middleton: From Commoner to Ducchess of Cambridge by Kate Shoup. In ebook format we have Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nichol and Kate: the Making of Princess by Claudia Joseph. Or try some of our books about the marriage of William and Kate. (Click on the image of the book to be redirected to the catalog.)

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Looking for some books about London? Try some of these. Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth is a very popular memoir that was also adapted into a PBS TV show, about the author’s experience as a midwife in London’s East End in the 1950’s. Looking for a book about the pop culture of London in the 1960’s? Check out Ready, Steady, Go! by Shawn Levy. For a book of unique historical occurrences, try Bizarre London by David Long or London: The Secrets and the Splendour by Nicholas Yapp. (Click on the image of the book to be redirected to the catalog.)

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What is your favorite book about London or set in London?

Katie’s April Recommendation

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

a corner of whiteKatie says: I just finished this book and loved it. There are two worlds. One is ours, and the other is the Kingdom of Cello.  In ours there’s a fifteen year old girl named Madeline.  She is from a very affluent background, chose to runaway from home, and her mother decided to go with her.  Now, they’re living in Cambridge England and on pennies.  Madeline is missing her dad and her old life style, her mother is sick but won’t go to the doctor.  In Cello there is a fifteen year old boy named Elliot.  His father and the high school physics teacher disappeared on the same night that his uncle was killed by a Third Level Purple.  Yes, purple.  In Cello colors can be deadly and random predators.  Elliot spends the next year looking for his dad in a Purple cavern before coming home to his mom and the Farms (an area in Cello).  The kingdoms cross over through a crack in both worlds where Elliot and Madeline can leave notes for each other.  Silly princesses and teachers, funny sports, and magic abound.  However, the most interesting aspect of this book is how the knowledge from one world can help in the other.

3 Similar Titles

Summerland by Michael Chabon

Abarat by Clive Barker

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Mary Ann’s November Recommendation

The Red House by Mark Haddon
the red houseThe set-up of Mark Haddon’s brilliant new novel is simple: Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister Angela and her family to join his for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside. Richard has just re-married and inherited a willful stepdaughter in the process; Angela has a feckless husband and three children who sometimes seem alien to her. The stage is set for seven days of resentment and guilt, a staple of family gatherings the world over.But because of Haddon’s extraordinary narrative technique, the stories of these eight people are anything but simple. Told through the alternating viewpoints of each character, The Red House becomes a symphony of long-held grudges, fading dreams and rising hopes, tightly-guarded secrets and illicit desires, all adding up to a portrait of contemporary family life that is bittersweet, comic, and deeply felt. As we come to know each character they become profoundly real to us. We understand them, even as we come to realize they will never fully understand each other, which is the tragicomedy of every family.

The Red House is a literary tour-de-force that illuminates the puzzle of family in a profoundly empathetic manner — a novel sure to entrance the millions of readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. – Publisher Summary

3 Similar Reads
Ask Again Later by Jill Davis
True to Form by Elizabeth Berg
The Position by Meg Wolitzer

Mary Ann’s September Recommendation

The Red House by Mark Haddon

“Have you ever vacationed with your adult siblings and their families?  If so, you’ll recognize the events in this book.  Backgrounds are revealed, resentments aired, and new understandings ensue.  All characters are developed; the teens in the novel get as much attention as the parents.  The Washington Post review has a fine description of the novel: ‘Haddon wends a careful path…between the effervescent comedy of quirky families and the bitter tragedy of dysfunctional ones.’ Haddon also wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a fascinating look at the world seen from the point-of-view of an autistic teen.

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander (Access to library catalog here!)

2) The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (Access to library catalog here!)

3) The Tax Inspector by Peter Carey (Access to llibrary catalog here!)

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson (Access to library catalog here!)

2) I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed by Kyria Abrahams (Access to library catalog here!)

3) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (Access to library catalog here!)

Rebecca’s August Recommendation

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

“I requested this book on a whim when I read about it on an NPR Critics List titled “Laughing Matters: Five Funny Books With Substance“, and I was certainly glad that I did! First of all, you should click on the link to this list to see the rest of the books, because if they are all as awesome as this book was, then you’ll have something to read for the next two months.  I loved The Uninvited Guests. Part English comedy of manners, part supernatural ghost story, the author draws you in with her lyrical and engaging writing and refuses to let you go.  Some of my favorite elements of this book: A horse trapped in a little girl’s bedroom; disgruntled train wreck ‘survivors’ eating a birthday dinner; a charismatic stranger with a penchant for chaos.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan C. Bradley (Access to library catalog here!)

2) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (Access to library catalog here!)

3) I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (Access to library catalog here!)

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (Access to library catalog here!)

2) Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Dearst (Access to library catalog here!)

3) Twenty Chickens For a Saddle by Robyn Scott (Access to library catalog here!)