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"Love is the only gold." (Tennyson)

It's almost Valentine's Day!
 doubleheartsGet your heart racing with a love story.


Love in lowercase by Francesc Miralles
When Samuel, a lonely linguistics lecturer, wakes up on New loveinlowercaseYear's Day, he is convinced that the year ahead will bring nothing new, until an unexpected visitor slips into his Barcelona apartment and refuses to leave. The appearance of Mishima, a stray, brindle-furred cat, becomes the catalyst that leads Samuel from the comforts of his favorite books, foreign films, and classical music to places he's never been (next door) and to people he might never have met (a neighbor with whom he's never exchanged a word). Even better, the Catalan cat leads him back to the mysterious Gabriela, whom he thought he'd lost long before, and shows him that sometimes love is hiding in the smallest of characters.


onlyloveOnly Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington
Yes, that Neil Young song. In Spencerville, Virginia, 1977, eight-year-old Rocky worships his older brother, Paul. Sixteen and full of rebel cool, Paul spends his days cruising in his Chevy Nova, cigarette dangling from his lips, arm slung around his beautiful, troubled girlfriend. Paul is happy to have his younger brother as his sidekick. Then one day, in an act of vengeance against their father, Paul picks up Rocky from school and nearly abandons him in the woods. Afterward, Paul disappears. Seven years later, Rocky is a teenager himself. He hasn't forgotten being abandoned by his boyhood hero, but he's getting over it, with the help of the wealthy neighbors' daughter, ten years his senior, who has taken him as her lover. Unbeknownst to both of them, their affair will set in motion a course of events that rains catastrophe on both their families.


Love Love by Sung J. Woo
Judy Lee's life has not turned out the way she'd imagined. She's divorced, she's broke,lovelove and her dreams of being a painter have fallen by the wayside. Meanwhile, her bother Kevin, an former professional tennis player, has decided to donate a kidney to their ailing father -- until it turns out that he's not a genetic match. His father reluctantly tells him he was adopted, but the only information Kevin is given about his birth parents is a nude picture of his birth mother. Kevin's quest to learn the truth about his biological parents takes him from tony Princeton to San Francisco's seedy Tenderloin district, from the squeaky clean tennis court to the gritty adult film industry.Told in alternating chapters from the points of view of Judy and Kevin, the novel is a story about two people figuring out how to live, how to love, and how to be their best selves amidst the chaos of their lives.


improbabilityofloveThe Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild
Annie McDee, thirty-one, is working as a chef for two rather sinister art dealers and recovering from the end of a long-term relationship. When she is searching in a neglected secondhand shop for a birthday present for her unsuitable new lover, a grimy painting catches her eye. The painting becomes hers, and as it turns out, Annie has stumbled across a lost masterpiece by one of the most important French painters of the eighteenth century. And it has its own point of view - narrating its history in its own chapters. Soon Annie finds herself pursued by interested parties who would do anything to possess her picture. In her search for the painting's identity, Annie will unwittingly uncover some of the darkest secrets of European history--as well as the possibility of falling in love again.



Mardi Gras Mysteries

mardigrasbeadsLaissez les bons temps rouler!

February 9 is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French, the traditional time for music, masks, feasting, and revelry in the streets of New Orleans prior to the beginning of the Lenten season.

But it's not all parades and colored beads in these mysteries... 


fattuesdayFat Tuesday by Sandra Brown
Burke Basile is a cop with nothing left to lose. Haunted by his partner's death, his marriage and his career over, he focuses on his nemesis, Pinkie Duvall, a flamboyant attorney who helps killers evade justice. Burke's shocking revenge centers around kidnapping Remy, the lawyer's trophy wife. But Burke hasn't planned on the electric attraction he'll feel for this desperate woman, who rose from the slums of New Orleans to marry a man she can never love. Nor can he predict the fierce duel that will explode as the clock ticks toward midnight on Fat Tuesday, when all masks will be stripped away. "...Brown expertly pushes her story toward an explosive Mardi Gras conclusion." (Publishers Weekly)


deathswatchDeath Swatch by Laura Childs
Jekyl Hardy is hosting a Mardi Gras party in his French Quarter apartment, amid Zydeco rhythms and popping champagne corks. On a wild night like this, anything can happen. The guests--including scrapbook-store owner Carmela Bertrand--never imagine it will be murder. But as the evening progresses, Jekyl's neighbor, float designer Archie Baudier, is found on the balcony choked to death with a barbed wire garrote. Buried up to her neck in strange clues, Carmela is sure of only one thing: whoever killed Archie is now following her--straight into the madness of Mardi Gras. "...Childs paints a picture of New Orleans sure to appeal..." (Publishers Weekly)


Gong Xi Fa Cai

Happy Chinese New Year!

yearofthemonkeyThe Chinese year 4714, the Year of the Monkey, begins on February 8, 2016. New Year's festivities traditionally start on the first day of  the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, where the New Year's observance is the most important of the holidays, people may take weeks from work to prepare for it and celebrate. There are fireworks, parties and family visits, dragon dances, and red decorations everywhere. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. It's said that people born in monkey years are witty, intelligent, and have magnetic personalities. Other personality traits, like mischievousness, curiosity, and cleverness, make them masters of practical jokes.

Celebrate by reading about China, past and present.

frenchconcessionFrench Concession by Xiao Bai
An atmospheric, noir tale of espionage and international intrigue set in 1931 Shanghai,  home to spies, criminals, and revolutionaries. After an important official in the Nationalist Party, newly arrived from Hong Kong along with Leng, his unhappy wife, is assassinated and his gunman kills himself, Leng goes missing. Franco-Chinese photographer Hsueh, coerced to work with the police, agrees to find her while also protecting his lover, Therese, who is secretly selling guns to the Shanghai gangs. As his investigations lead him deeper into the underworld of Shanghai, he is torn between the two women while trying his best to stay alive. “[An] absorbing novel of character and mood…" (Library Journal)


China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
This funny novel of modern China tells the story of Rachel Chu, engaged to the most chinarichgirlfriendeligible bachelor in Asia, but still unhappy because her birthfather, a man she never knew, cannot walk her down the aisle. Guess who turns up at her wedding? Upon meeting her father and a half-brother too, Rachel is swept up into their luxurious, fabulously rich lifestyle with their eccentric, pampered friends. They frolic through Asia's most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and the estates of the mainland China elite, experiencing what it means to be China-rich. "Lovers of clothes, cuisine, and cars will find themselves at home in Kwan's second smart and snarky send-up of the Chinese jet set." (Booklist)


fourbooksThe Four Books by Yan Lianke
During the years of Mao's Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) at rural re-education centers for intellectuals, artists and academics were detained to strengthen their loyalty to Communist ideologies. Here, the Musician and her lover, the Scholar--along with the Author and the Theologian--are forced to carry out grueling physical work and are encouraged to inform on each other for dissident behavior. The prize: winning the chance at freedom. They're overseen by a young supervisor, the Child, who delights in reward systems and excessive punishments. When agricultural and industrial production quotas are raised to an unattainable level, the compund dissolves into lawlessness. And then, as inclement weather and famine set in, they are abandoned by the regime and left alone to survive. "The novel is a stinging indictment of the illogic of bureaucracy and tyranny, but the literary structure is tight and the prose incredibly accessible. Readers will have difficulty putting this down." (Publishers Weekly)


Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart
A mystery set along the mountainous border of China and Tibet in 1708, where Li Du , once jademountainan imperial librarian, now a disgraced exile, arrives in Dayan, the last Chinese town before Tibet, to find it teeming with travelers, soldiers, and merchants. All have come for a spectacle unprecedented in this remote province: an eclipse of the sun commanded by the Emperor himself. When a Jesuit astronomer is found murdered in the home of the local magistrate, blame is hastily placed on Tibetan bandits. But Li Du suspects this was no random killing. "Decorated with a careful attention to detail, this old-fashioned mystery suits its setting in atmosphere and pacing, drawing the reader into an exotic territory." (Booklist)



And the nominees are...

2016 PEN Literary Awards Shortlists

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction

Each year  PEN America, the literary and human rights organization founded in 1922 to advance literature and defend free expression, honors outstanding writing in many categories including fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry and translation. One of its most prestigious (and lucrative) prizes is the one for a work of first fiction, worth $25,000, given for a book that "represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise." Five titles have made the shortlist and the winner will be announced on April 11 at the 2016 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony in New York.


In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar                                mrandmrsdoctor

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor by Julie Iromuanya

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness by Jennifer Tseng



Books to Film/TV - February

 Now (or soon) playing:

choiceThe Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Travis Parker has everything a man could want: a good job, loyal friends, even a waterfront home in small-town North Carolina. In full pursuit of the good life - boating, swimming , and regular barbecues with his good-natured buddies -- he holds the vague conviction that a serious relationship with a woman would only cramp his style. That is, until Gabby Holland moves in next door. Despite her misgivings, they fall in love. Years later Travis must face a life and death decision following a serious car accident. "Sparks is a master at creating beautiful, old-fashioned courtships coupled with bittersweet dilemmas, and this is no exception, as it pulls the reader into the story just as The Notebook (1996) did."(Booklist) The film, starring Benjamin Walker and  Teresa Palmer, opens February 5.


prideprejzombiesPride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." This wacky literary mash-up starts with a mysterious plague that has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton--and then the  dead start returning to life. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers--and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. "It is silly, of course,... but it's also a great deal of fun-particularly when Elizabeth dreams about beheading her wayward sister Lydia." (Library Journal) Actress Lily James of Downton Abbey and Cinderella fame stars as Elizabeth in this adaptation that also opens on February 5.


king11/22/63 by Stephen King
King imagines an alternative history for the assassination of President Kennedy in this time travel novel about a present-day high school teacher who enters a portal to the past intent on preventing the tragedy. So begins Jake's new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. "...King remains an excellent storyteller, and his evocation of mid-20th-century America is deft. Alternate-history buffs will especially enjoy the twist ending." (Library Journal) The eight-part miniseries is produced by J.J. Abrams and will stream on Hulu on February 15 with James Franco as Jake.


howtobesingleHow to Be Single by Liz Tuccillo
Julie Jenson is a single thirty-seven-year-old book publicist. When her friend Georgia’s husband leaves her for a samba teacher, she forces Julie to organize a single girls’ night out to remind her why it’s so much fun not to be tied down. But the night ends up having the opposite effect on Julie. Fed up with the dysfunction and disappointments of singledom, Julie quits her job and sets off to find out how women around the world are dealing with this dreaded phenomenon. During her travels, Julie falls in love, gets her heart broken, and learns more than she ever dreamed possible. All the while her friends at home are grappling with their own issues - seeking love and being single in New York. The upcoming film stars Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson and Alison Brie with a February 12 release. (Just in time for Valentine's Day!)



"We are not makers of history. We are made by history." *

February is African American History Month

Initially started in 1926 as Negro History Week, the commemoration of the struggles and achievements of African Americans in America was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1976. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Every president since has proclaimed February as African American History Month in order to honor the importance of contributions made by African American citizens to our society.

The examination of the African American experience in literature, both fiction and non-fiction, is a major contribution to our collective culture and national discourse. Taryn Finley, a columnist for the Huffington Post, introduced his list of "25 Books by Black Authors From 2015 You Need to Read," with the comment, "These books are so necessary," and described them as "thought-provoking, page-turning, nail-biting, and "aha" inducing."

Fiction on the list:

boysnowbirdBoy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty. She marries Arturo, a local widower, and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. Like the fairy tale on which it is based, aesthetic obsessions begin to play out when Arturo and Boy's daughter Bird is born noticably dark-skinned. Boy, who is white, thus discovers that her husband's family are African-Americans passing as white. Boy sends Snow to be raised by an aunt while Bird grows up curious about the step-sister she is not allowed to know. "Oyeyemi delves deeply into the nature of identity and the cost of denying it in this contemplative, layered novel." (Booklist)

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Recently chosen as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Beatty's novel is a selloutbiting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and racial equality in  the so-called "post-racial" America. The disaffected protagonist proposes to save his neglected town, which has been literally wiped from the map of California, by reinstating racial segregation and slavery. "Beatty gleefully catalogues offensive racial stereotypes but also reaches further, questioning what exactly constitutes black identity in America. "Wildly funny but deadly serious, Beatty's caper is populated by outrageous caricatures, and its damning social critique carries the day." (Publishers Weekly)


jam on the vineJam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett
Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook from central-east Texas, first ignites her lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother's white employer. She earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson College, only to return over-qualified to the menial labor offered by her hometown's racially-biased employers. Fleeing the Jim Crow South with her family, she settles in Kansas City, where she and her former teacher and lover, Ona, found the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam! On the Vine. In the throes of the Red Summer--the 1919 outbreak of lynchings and race riots across the Midwest--Ivoe risks her freedom, and her life, to call attention to the atrocities of segregation in the American prison system. "In her first novel, Barnett skillfully plumbs historical accounts of black American life in the Jim Crow era and weaves them into an engaging and enlightening family saga." (Booklist)


The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteenturnerhouse children grown and gone--and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit's East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts--and shapes--their family's future. "The conversations between them are honest and sometimes humorous (comparing Detroit's dilapidation to the zombie-apocalypse is classic), while details regarding the degeneration of Detroit's once-thriving African American communities are heartrending." (Library Journal)


balmBalm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life. Free-born Madge has the power to discern others' suffering and ease it, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child. Widowed Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift. Searching for his missing family, Hemp, a former slave, arrives in this northern city and hopes for redemption. In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a  battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest. "In gorgeous, compassionate prose, Perkins-Valdez continues our national conversation about people working together to heal our communities." (Washington Post)


Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile
Why exactly Charley Bordelon's late father left her eight hundred sprawling acres of queensugarsugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her eleven-year-old daughter, Micah, say good-bye to Los Angeles. They arrive just in time for growing season but no amount of planning can prepare Charley for a Louisiana that's mired in the past: as her judgmental but big-hearted grandmother tells her, cane farming is always going to be a white man's business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley must balance the overwhelming challenges of her dilapidated farm with the demands of a homesick daughter, a bitter and troubled brother, and the startling desires of her own heart. "Reading this book is inhabiting, briefly, the backbreaking and brutal yet rewarding life that is sugarcane farming. Baszile has also created a cast of vibrant characters, and her strong African-American women in particular carry the novel." "...a fascinating look into the world of the contemporary South." (Washington Independent Review of Books)


* Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


The Reading List 2016

Outstanding Genre Fiction

rusareadinglistSince 2007, the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA, a division of the American Library Association) has assembled The Reading List in order to highlight outstanding genre fiction. The list was announced during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting, held January 8-12. A committee of twelve librarians selects one book to represent the best in each of 8 different categories. They also include read-alike suggestions and display the short lists of titles considered for each category. The categories include adrenaline (including suspense, thriller and adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction.

The 2016 Selections:

rejaneAdrenaline - Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Fantasy - Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Historical Fiction - Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Horror - The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp

Mystery -The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney

Romance - Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl

Science Fiction - Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Women’s Fiction - Re Jane by Patricia Park



More Literary Award Nominees

natlbookcriticscircleNational Book Critics Circle Awards

On January 18, the committee of judges for the National Book Critics Circle Awards announced the finalists for the best books of 2015 in several categories: fiction, non-fiction, biography, autobiography, criticism and poetry. The prizes are among the most prestigious American literary awards for books published in English in the U.S., and are judged by a panel of book critics and book review editors. The awards will be presented on March 17, 2016 in New York.


Finalists for Fiction:

tsaroflovePaul Beatty, The Sellout

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies

Valeria Luiselli,  The Story of My Teeth,

Anthony Marra,  The Tsar of Love and Techno

Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen



2016 Mystery Awards Shortlist

The 2016 Edgar Nominees


On January 19, 2016, the Mystery Writers of America announced the finalists for the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, the premier award for the mystery/crime genre. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony in New York on April 28.


Best Novel Nominees:







The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter
The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr
Life or Death by Michael Robotham
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Canary by Duane Swierczynski
Night Life by David C. Taylor


Best First Novel Nominees:







 Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm



New Reads for February 2016

February 2016 LibraryReads List

The top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love

library reads logo websiteThis monthly list is created by librarians and library staff to help connect readers to new books and authors. An online community of librarians vote each month on their favorite new books and the results are tallied. "The list is a straightforward calculation: whichever ten books get the most nominations go onto the monthly list. The book with the most nominations becomes the #1 Pick. It’s as simple as that." The list is not meant to be a "best" list - just a list of collective favorites - books librarians loved and want to share.



#1 for February 2016:

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

saltottheseaA World War II novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating, yet unknown, tragedies: the maritime disaster of the  Wilhelm Gustloff. In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival. "At once beautiful and heart-wrenching, this title will remind readers that there are far more casualties of war than are recorded in history books." (Library Journal)


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