Month: June 2012

Check It Out Blog

Wizards, Pirates, and Louis Armstrong

Royal Street book coverYou don’t have to be a fan of urban fantasy to appreciate the richly detailed setting of Orleans, both Old and New, in Suzanne Johnson’s debut Royal Street.  After the barriers between New Orleans and the Great Beyond are compromised by Hurricane Katrina, the Guardians of the city must work overtime to protect what’s left.  Someone is murdering the soldiers assisting with the recovery, and Drusilla Jaco’s wizard mentor is missing.  To complicate matters, DJ has to put up with a new special-forces-type partner and the return of legendary pirate Jean Lafitte.  Action, humor, magic, and a love for New Orleans are all on display, and Louis Armstrong himself enters the picture in an inspired plot twist.

An Almost-Widow Finds Hope

“I have been waiting for my husband to die for six years,” says Jarvis Miller in The Kept Man. Her husband, Martin, is in a coma. Jarvis barely goes out of the house except for her weekly visit to Martin, but then her washing machine breaks and Jarvis is forced to meet the outside world again…and possibly make friends while doing it.

LISTS: Disco

Bad Girls album cover“Disco will never be over…Something like this, that was this big and this important and this great, will never die. Oh, for a few years – maybe many years – it’ll be considered passé and ridiculous. It will be misrepresented and caricatured and sneered at, or – worse – completely ignored. People will laugh about John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, white polyester suits and platform shoes and people going like this [strikes disco pose], but we had nothing to do with those things and still loved disco. Those who didn’t understand will never understand:  disco was much more, and much better, than all that. Disco was too great and too much fun to be gone forever!”

– Jeff Nash from The Last Days of Disco

Click here to get back into disco.

Historical Fiction Goes Die Hard

Spartacus the Gladiator book coverSpartacus the Gladiator is a gritty retelling of the ancient legend, and the first in a new series by Ben Kane. Spartacus is a tactical genius and a leader of men, yet he is captured and sold to a gladiator school in Capua. While there, he befriends Crixus the Gaul – and together they plan on overthrowing their Roman masters. This is not your noble, family-friendly, Kirk Douglas version of Spartacus. It is closer to Starz’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Battle scenes, treachery, strong language, and violence abound. If this book were a movie, there would be blood splattered on the camera constantly…which means that it is a mega page-turner.

Joyce’s Pick: White Collar

Joyce staff picks photoWhich would you chose: work for the Feds who incarcerated you or stay in prison for two more years? Con man Neal Caffrey chooses freedom, but on a short leash held by Agent Peter Burke. This unconventional partnership provides wonderful entertainment in the series White Collar. Check it out!

Celebrate June is Audiobook Month

Bossypants audiobook cover

Just in time to highlight great listens for summer reading, the winners of the 2012 Audie Awards have been announced! Honoring the year’s best recordings in a rich mix of categories, these awards are a perfect source of listening suggestions while traveling on vacation, basking in the sun, or making everyday routines more exciting. Try one of the most recent winners below or sample past Audiobooks of the Year. Need more incentive? Don’t forget that listening to an audiobook counts as reading in our Summer Reading Program!

Audiobook of the Year: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Solo Narration (Male): Simon Vance, narrator of The King’s Speech

Biography/Memoir: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Fantasy: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Humor: Shatner Rules by William Shatner with Chris Regan

Literary Fiction: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Multi-Voiced Performance: A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Mystery: Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke

Narration by the Author: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Personal Development: Prime Time by Jane Fonda

Romance: New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb

Thriller/Suspense: The Nightmare Thief by Meg Gardiner

Oprah’s Book Club 2.0

Cheryl Strayed was a wreck. In her mid-twenties she was dealing with a divorce, the loss of her mother to cancer, and drugs – hard times, to say the least. One hundred days before her 27th birthday, Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Cost Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon, all the way to Washington. Wild is Strayed’s memoir of personal confrontation and rebirth during her journey.

Wild is also Oprah Winfrey’s first choice in her new book club, Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

LISTS: British Crime Series

Blue Murder Set 1 DVD coverNo one solves mysteries like the British! Classic or contemporary, gritty or cozy, the popular procedural format is best mastered by our friends in the UK. If you prefer to have your cases cracked by Detective Chief Inspectors, Superintendents, and Constables, check out this list of English whodunits on DVD.

Click here to see which British crime series and miniseries you may have missed.

Rethinking How Much is Enough

Tiny Homes Simple Shelter book coverIn Tiny Homes Simple Shelter, Lloyd Kahn examines micro-homes – none of the 150 builders he profiles have homes over 500 square feet. There are 1,300 photos of adobe dwellings, wood cabins, surfer shacks, hobbit houses, treehouses, pre-fabs, caravans, campers, floating homes, and more. Don’t let the 1970s-style simple cover deceive you; with each turned page there are new houses that make you think, “It’s little…but I could totally live there!” Architectural styles run from the elegant to the eclectic. Tiny Homes is not a how-to or a blueprint book. It is an inspiration kit for fabulous design fanatics and rugged individualists alike.