Tag Archives: reviews

We’re Still Reading Holiday Books

Murder for Christmas

by Francis Duncan

“When Mordecai Tremaine arrives at the country retreat of one Benedict Grame on Christmas Eve, he discovers that the revelries are in full swing in the sleepy village of Sherbroome—but so too are tensions amongst the assortment of guests.

When midnight strikes, the party-goers discover that presents aren’t the only things nestled under the tree…there’s a dead body too. A dead body that bears a striking resemblance to Father Christmas. With the snow falling and suspicions flying, it’s up to Mordecai to sniff out the culprit—and prevent anyone else from getting murder for Christmas.” -from the publisher

Sonia, Reference Librarian says, “This was an old fashioned Agatha Christie type mystery featuring a charming amateur sleuth, Mordecai Tremaine, written in the 1940’s and a first in series.  A little too much time was spent describing the oppressive cloud of suspicion hovering over the household but I basically liked it and will probably read the second installment.”

A Christmas Journey

by Anne Perry

“Readers of Anne Perry’s bestselling suspense novels revel in a world that is all their own, sharing the privileged existence of Britain’s wealthy and powerful elite in West End mansions and great country houses. It is also a world in which danger bides in unsuspected places and the line between good and evil can be razor thin. This new novel features Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould – one of the most memorable characters from the Thomas Pitt series – who appears here as a lively young woman, the ultimate aristocrat who can trace her blood to half the royal houses of Europe.” -from the publisher

Brenda, Reference Librarian says, “Normally, I really enjoy Anne Perry’s mysteries especially those featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt. So choosing this novella as a Christmas read seemed a good choice. As always, the author crafts a story enriched by detailed descriptions of Victorian life. At a country house during the Christmas season one guest, Isobel Alvie, made a comment that led to the suicide of another guest, the recently widowed Gwendolen Kilmuir. Isobel was tasked with making the trip to explain the circumstances of the death to the dead woman’s mother. The message was clear and poignant: seemingly simple remarks can have a profound effect. But the journey of Isobel Alvie accompanied by Lady Vespasia seemed to drag. And I was disappointed since it wasn’t really a mystery. I think I will try another in the series. I am loyal to the authors I like!”

Have you read any books set around the winter holidays? Tell us about them in the comments.

-posted by Sonia, Reference Services

 

Advertisements

New Music at the Library Part III

I usually like to go to the new section of the music CDs in the library to see what new bands and singers are trending and what’s popular these days. On my last venture into the 2 drawers of the new music I found 3 CDS that intrigued me and I though they deserved some spotlight on them. I decided to take them out and review them for this blog. I chose 2 or 3 top tracks from each CD.  I reviewed the first and second in blog posts last week, his is my review for the third CD:

tributeThe last CD I chose to listen to and review is Tribute by John Newman. It’s a one disc CD with twelve songs, a genre blend of soul and pop. My top two tracks on this album are Love Me Again, track 2, and Gold Dust, track 9. I chose Love Me Again as my first top track because I simply love this song. I heard it on YouTube as it was a related music video from one of the music companies I follow. After hearing it I wanted to hear more. The lyrics are like usual songs about love and heartbreak, a man lamenting on the pain he caused his girl. Listening to it I can’t help but think he is the male version of Adele since he has an old school quality to his voice that made Adele so popular. The second top track I chose was Gold Dust. To me it sounds different from most the popular music playing, which I appreciate. The lyrics aren’t the most happy or uplifting but his voice in the song makes them hauntingly beautiful. I was unable to choose what I would choose for a third top track. I’m torn between Out of My Head (track 6) and Tribute (track 1) since both of them have great lyrics and the instrument accompaniments in both are lovely.

Overall I loved the album. Upon listening to his first single I immediately wanted to hear more. His voice is like something out of the past, full of soul and emotion. His songs are personal and hit the listener on a new level. Newman has stated that this album is a tribute to all that have inspired him from fellow celebrity singers, his family, and the events in his life that have taken an emotional toll on him. The power of his voice is great and all the accompanying background music and beats are fun to move along to. On iTunes his album is rated 4 ½ stars out of 5 and on Amazon his average review is 4.9 out of 5 stars. Similar artists to John Newman according to Last.fm are Aloe Blacc, we have his album Lift Your Spirit, and fellow British artist Naughty Boy who is featured on the latest “Now That’s What You Call Music” collection #50 with the song La La La featuring Sam Smith. For more similar artists you can look at John Newman’s page on Last.fm.

– posted by Stacey, Readers’ Services

New Music at the Library Part II

I usually like to go to the new section of the music CDs in the library to see what new bands and singers are trending and what’s popular these days. On my last venture into the 2 drawers of the new music I found 3 CDS that intrigued me and I though they deserved some spotlight on them. I decided to take them out and review them for this blog. I chose 2 or 3 top tracks from each CD and I’ll tell you why and what I thought of the albums. Here are some thoughts about the second CD I listened to:

Days-of-GoldThe second CD I chose to review was Days of Gold by Jake Owens. It’s a one disc CD with twelve tracks and is his fourth studio album. He fits just perfectly with others artists in his genre of country pop/ rock. Listening to his music reminds me of summer barbeques and parties. His songs are a blend between upbeat dance songs revolving around drinking and slow ballads about love or breaking up. As I’ve stated before, I’m not a big country fan but his album blends enough of pop and rock music that I find it enjoyable. It doesn’t hurt that he does have a talented voice. One of my top three tracks on this album is the title track Days of Gold which is also the first track. It is a good song, with an upbeat tempo, to drive around to on a nice day, windows down. It’s a mix of country and rock, with a somewhat heavy emphasis on guitars. It’s a toe tapping sing-along song that makes you want to get up and dance. Listeners will find the lyrics entertaining and reminiscent of all the good times of summer. Another top track is Life of the Party which is track 5 on the CD. It’s about a love lost and how the guy handles it. It’s a break from Owen’s party anthems and songs about love. The accompanying music is soft and simple in contrast with the lyrics. The lyrics are a bit heart breaking since you do become sympathetic towards the singer. Everyone, at least once in their life, has had to face the questions and looks of “where’s your significant other?” after a break up, when you feel alone despite having people around you, and just grin and bear it because you don’t want to face the music. My last recommended track is (We All Want) What We Ain’t Got, track 9. It’s a stunning emotional power ballad that really does showcase Jake Owen’s vocal capabilities. I would give this album 3 out of 5 stars, as country is not my preferred taste but it’s a fun album to give a listen to, particularly with summer right around the corner. According to iTunes his top two singles are “Days of Gold” and “Beachin” and his CD is rated 4 ½ stars out of 5. If you’ve listened to Dierks Bentley and Jason Aldean (we have CDs of both artists at the library) you will like Jake Owen as they are similar. To find more similar artists you can visit Jake Owen’s page on last.fm.

Watch for my third and last review of a CD from our new music collection.

– posted by Stacey, Readers’ Services

New Music at the Library

I usually like to go to the new section of the music CDs in the library to see what new bands and singers are trending and what’s popular these days. On my last venture into the 2 drawers of the new music I found 3 CDS that intrigued me and I though they deserved some spotlight on them. I decided to take them out and review them for this blog. I chose 2 or 3 top tracks from each CD and I’ll tell you why and what I thought of the albums.

one republicThe first album I chose to listen to and review was Native by OneRepublic. It’s considered an alternative rock album. This was an obvious choice for me since I am a fan of theirs since their first album, Dream Out Loud. This is their third studio album, its one disc with a total of twelve songs. My top tracks are Counting Stars , I Lived and If I Lose Myself . It was hard for me to choose only three tracks since I think the group is amazing and Ryan Tedder’s voice is so talented and a pleasure to listen to. The reason I chose Counting Stars, the first track, is because of the upbeat and catchy tempo of the song. I also enjoy the lyrics and the messages within them. Enjoying life isn’t about becoming the wealthiest person, and money doesn’t always solve life’s problems are just two of the messages I took away from the song. I chose I Lived as my second top track. It’s the fifth song on the album and like Counting Stars, it’s an uplifting song. It’s a song about living life to the fullest and enjoying everything. It’s a great song to listen to when feeling a little blue and the harmonizing during the song is nice to listen to. My third top track is If I Lose Myself, which is the second track on the album. Unlike my other top tracks, this one is a bit slower but still has notes of being an uplifting song. Particularly with the lyrics at the end “Take us down and we keep trying, forty thousand feet, keep flying.” In an interview lead singer Tedder mentioned the song is about his fear of flying and going down in an airplane, and the comfort of how you aren’t alone and someone else is experiencing everything you are.

Overall I would give this album 10 out of 5 because it is just that good. With each new studio album their talent rises and evolves into something amazing.  Native is filled with beautiful and moving music, with powerful lyrics. I would list the entire album as top tracks of mine, as each song is catchy, beautiful, and over all great to listen to. The musical accompaniment is really on point and the vocals are strong, Ryan Tedder hits higher notes and seems to have more range than past albums. iTunes and Amazon both give Native 4 ½ out of 5 stars. From reading other reviews a few people were a little disappointed they are moving away from their traditional piano alternative rock genre and are branching out and playing with new sounds and sounding more vibrant and electropop. Other artists similar to OneRepublic according to last.fm are Imagine Dragons, The Script, Maroon 5, and Coldplay. You can find more similar listens on the last.fm website. The library does have CDs of the bands listed above, as well as plenty of CDs that they are featured on, like the “Now That’s What I Call Music” collections or movie soundtracks.

Watch for my reviews of two more CDs from our new music collection next week.

– posted by Stacey, Readers’ Services

A Little Christmas in my Mystery, Please! #4

christmas mystery giftEvery year I promise myself to read some books that have a Christmas theme well before the holiday season so I can write about them in this blog.  And every year I manage to read one …maybe two.  This year I actually remembered to start reading early enough to write this series of  blog posts.  I chose to stick to my favorite genre which is mystery and read books by authors I had always wanted to try but never did. I’ve read four books so far, so there will be at least four posts, maybe more if there’s time.

The nice thing about holiday books is that they are usually short and always have happy, feel good endings. Some bad/sad things might happen along the way to the characters we grow to care about while reading (especially in the case of mysteries), but there are plenty of “warm fuzzies” to go around at the end.

Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson

First lines: It was Tuesday, the day before Christmas, and I wasn’t expecting visitors. I stared at my archnemesis, the little red light on my phone that connected my via the intercom to my dispatcher Ruby, in the other room.

spirit of steamboatSummary: “Sheriff Walt Longmire is reading A Christmas Carol in his office on December 24th when he’s interrupted by the ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar across her forehead and more than a few questions about Walt’s predecessor, Lucian Connally. Walt doesn’t recognize the mystery woman, but she seems to know him and claims to have something she must return to Connally. With his daughter, Cady, and his undersheriff Vic Moretti in Philadelphia for the holidays, Walt is at loose ends, and despite the woman’s reticence to reveal her identity, he agrees to help her. At the Durant Home for Assisted Living Lucian Connally is several tumblers into his Pappy Van Winkle’s and swears he’s never clapped eyes on the woman before. Disappointed, she whispers “Steamboat” and begins a story that takes them all back to Christmas Eve 1988, when three people died in a terrible crash and a young girl had the slimmest chance of survival . . .” (from the publisher)

My take: I’d been hearing a lot about Johnson lately on the book blogs I read and because of the TV show Longmire that is based on the his series’ main character, so I was pleased when I found Spirit of Steamboat on the new mystery shelf.  I liked this book.  Some of the situations that Longmire confronts are a little far fetched and the reader will have to suspend belief at times. Yet the characters drew me in and the book tugged at my heartstrings just as a Christmas novel should do. I will definitely be going back to the first in the series mainly because I want to meet the Lucian Connally character again, as well as Longmire and the others.  Readers of J. A. Jance and C. J. Box might enjoy Craig Johnson’s Longmire series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

-posted by Sonia, Readers’ Services

A Little Christmas in my Mystery, Please! #3

christmas mystery giftEvery year I promise myself to read some books that have a Christmas theme well before the holiday season so I can write about them in this blog.  And every year I manage to read one …maybe two.  This year I actually remembered to start reading early enough to write this series of  blog posts.  I chose to stick to my favorite genre which is mystery and read books by authors I had always wanted to try but never did. I’ve read four books so far, so there will be at least four posts, maybe more if there’s time.

The nice thing about holiday books is that they are usually short and always have happy, feel good endings. Some bad/sad things might happen along the way to the characters we grow to care about while reading (especially in the case of mysteries), but there are plenty of “warm fuzzies” to go around at the end.

Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson

First Lines: The rear door to St. Anthony’s Church had been left open. Exactly as I had been promised.

merry christmas alex crossSummary:  “It’s Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who’s robbing his church’s poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again–a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family. Alex risks everything–and he may not make it back alive on this most sacred of family days.” (from the publisher)

My take: I have read three of Patterson’s books before. One in print and the others in audio form and enjoyed audiobooks much better, so I listened to Merry Christmas, Alex Cross and liked it. The story in this book involves Cross in two separate cases over Christmas Eve and Day which might have been overkill but overall the book was good.  I liked the characters, especially Cross’ grandmother, NanaMama. There were three different readers used which was also a plus and I will probably listen to more of Patterson’s books. Readers of James Patterson might not need any readalike recommendations because he’ s publishes enough books to keep them busy but they might try the books of Jeffery Deaver or Jonathan Kellerman.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

– posted by Sonia, Readers’ Services

A Little Christmas in my Mystery, Please! #2

christmas mystery giftEvery year I promise myself to read some books that have a Christmas theme well before the holiday season so I can write about them in this blog.  And every year I manage to read one …maybe two.  This year I actually remembered to start reading early enough to write this series of  blog posts.  I chose to stick to my favorite genre which is mystery and read books by authors I had always wanted to try but never did. I’ve read four books so far, so there will be at least four posts, maybe more if there’s time.

The nice thing about holiday books is that they are usually short and always have happy, feel good endings. Some bad/sad things might happen along the way to the characters we grow to care about while reading (especially in the case of mysteries), but there are plenty of “warm fuzzies” to go around at the end.

Silent Night by Robert B. Parker with Nancy Brann

First lines: Susan and I walked from my place up to Newbury Street on a sunny Saturday morning.  The snow from the night before had stopped falling.

silent nightSummary: “It’s December in Boston, and Spenser is busy planning the menu for Christmas dinner when he’s confronted in his office by a young boy named Slide. Homeless and alone, Slide has found refuge with an organization named Street Business, which gives shelter and seeks job opportunities for the homeless and lost. Slide’s mentor, Jackie Alvarez, is being threatened, and Street Business is in danger of losing its tenuous foothold in the community, turning Slide and many others like him back on the street. But it’s not a simple case of intimidation – Spenser, aided by Hawk, finds a trail that leads to a dangerous drug kingpin, whose hold on the at-risk community Street Business serves threatens not just the boys’ safety and security, but their lives as well.” (from the publisher)

My take:  It’s not a good idea to choose as your first read of a series one of the last books the author wrote, but I snagged a copy on the first day that it came out and picked it for my second holiday book.  Silent Night was an unfinished manuscript left behind by the late Robert B. Parker and completed by his longtime agent Nancy Brann.  I had put off reading any of the Spenser novels for fear that they would not live up to their reputation and my fear was realized in this case.  The book was just OK.  The plot made sense and it was interesting and entertaining enough to finish but I was left wondering, “What’s the big deal?” I’ve since gone back to the first Spenser novel, The Godwulf Manuscript and now understand a bit better and will be reading more in the series eventually.  Silent Night will surely satisfy Spenser fans eager for more.  Those readers looking for more books like Parker’s would do well to seek out Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series or the books of Elmore Leonard.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars.

– posted by Sonia, Readers’ Services