Friday, December 15, 2017

Alice and the Assassin by R. J. Koreto

The year 1902 is a significant year for Alice. She is now the daughter of the President of the United States.  Her father, Theodore Roosevelt, has been sworn in as President due to President McKinley's assassination. Fearing for her father’s safety, she begins a follow-up investigation into the murder of the former President.

Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair has been reassigned by the President to protect his spirited and unconventional daughter. Realizing that she will now be under the watchful eyes of a bodyguard, Alice solicits his help with her unofficial investigation.

Alice and the Assassin is R.J. Koreto's first novel in the Alice Roosevelt series.  It is a light and fun read. The back and forth banter between Alice and Mr. St, Clair is amusing. Alice is young and headstrong while Mr. St. Clair has a calm demeanor with a dry sense of humor. This contrast brought a comedic tone to their adventure. 

It was fascinating reliving a part of history as I read this story. There were characters and facts that correlated with the timeline of that period, though most was fictious. After reading biographical information about Alice Roosevelt, I find out that she was indeed a spirited and unconventional socialite.

If you enjoyed this mystery, these books you may interest you: This side of murder by Anna Lee HuberDeath on the Sapphire : a Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery by R.J. Koreto, and A purely private matter by Darcie Wilde.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

If you enjoyed reading the Alaskan Courage series, Dani Pettrey is back with the Chesapeake Valor series.  Still Life is book two and sure to take you on another thrilling chase to solve the crime.

Avery Tate is back in town and back into the world that shunned her over a year ago.  Her best friend is being featured at a local commerical art gallery, and she came to support her; however, her best friend never appears for the viewing. Uable to locate her, Avery seeks the help of her former partner.  

Still Life is able to be read as a stand-a-lone, but I would recommend reading the first book.  The story is a little dark because of the characters traumatic pasts, and distrubing activities. Dani Pettrey, however, lightens the mood with wit, romance and comraderie.  She weaves in subplots that tie in well with the storyline, and widened the scope of the investigation.  I'm looking forward to reading more in the series.

If you enjoyed reading this book, VBPL have other titles you may like: Cold shot by Dani Pettrey book 1 and Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey book 3, Shattered by Dani Pettrey (Alaskan Courage series), and Thin ice : a novel by Irene Hannon.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans

Cover image for
The Mistletoe Promise is a Christmas love story set in the author's home state of Utah. It is a quick read filled with heartwarming moment.  

Elise is recently divorced and weary of spending another holiday season alone.  One day she is approached by a handsome stranger with a proposition. 
He proposes that they pretend to be a couple and make it convincing to others until Christmas Eve.  After that time, the false affair will end. She agrees to the charade and they sign a contract.

This story is rich with festivities that are celebrated during the Christmas season. You will laugh with the couple; however, there will be parts that will be difficult to read because of the subject matter discussed. 

The Mistletoe Promise doesn't have a typical Christmas story ending but as usual Richard Paul Evans doesn't disappoint. A movie has been produced by Hallmark based on this book but with a different plot.   

If you like this book you may enjoy the other books in his Mistletoe collection, The Mistletoe Inn and The Mistletoe Secret along with The Christmas wedding and The Christmas list

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sleep Like A Tiger by Mary Logue

I’m not sleepy! What parent has not heard these words from their child when bedtime arrives?  Sleep like a Tiger is a fanciful story that takes you through the bedtime process of a little girl not ready for bed.

It opens with a fairytale-like beginning then becomes a question and answer dialogue between the little girl and her parents. 

It is time for the little girl to get ready for bed but she’s not sleepy.  She protest but her parents encourage her to follow her night-time routine. She puts on her pajamas and climb into bed along with her bedtime friends. Her parents tuck them inside the blanket and turn to leave her room. She calls her parents back and ask them if everything in the world goes to sleep. They lovingly and patiently answer all her question. 

Pamela Zargarenski, a caldecott award winning illustrator, and the author Mary Logue collaborated well with this book. The words and the illustrations tell the same story.  The illustrator creates a dreamy world through her use of muted colors and shapes.  She also includes a surprise inside her illustrations.  

If you are looking for other children books to read about sleep, here are some suggestions: No go sleep!It is not time for sleeping, and Peekaboo bedtime

Monday, December 11, 2017

Baahubali: The Beginning

A while back I was looking for an action movie to watch.  Baahubali: The Beginning stood out to me so I checked it out.  I'm glad I did! I was engrossed from beginning to end.  I later learned that it is one of the highest earning film in Indian cinema. 

In ancient India, an infant boy is miraculously rescued by Sanga and her husband on the way to their village. Not knowing his identity, they named him Shiva.  He grows to become a strong and free spirited young man. 

Throughout his childhood, Shiva is drawn to a magnificent waterfall outside his village. He climbs it and enter into the kingdom of Mahismati where he finds himself in the middle of a civil war. Shiva soon unites with the rebel warriors in their efforts to save their queen who has been imprisioned.  In his fight against the King, Shiva finds that he has a legacy in that land.

The plot to Baahubali: The Beginning is a classic one but the storytelling is well developed, creative, and entertaining. You get to enjoy Indian songs and ceremonial dancing which is usually featured in Indian film. Lead Actor Prabhas has presence in his dural role as Baahubali and Shiva.  Actress Ramya Krishnan is wonderful as Sivagami, the fierce ruler and loving mother.

S.S. Rajamouli directed this movie using visual effects on a colossal scale. This heightened the excitement of Shivu's challenge of climbing the waterfall and the epic battle scenes   

When viewing this movie, subtitles are available.

Look for the sequel Baahubali: The Conclusion in VBPL Catalog. If you enjoy action and adventure, you many like Lord of the Rings series (Fellowship of the RingTwo Towers and The return of the king), 300: Rise of an empire, and Troy.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming

In 2010, Alan Cumming was invited to appear on the popular BBC genealogy series, "Who Do You Think You Are?" His goal was to find out about the mysterious disappearance of his maternal grandfather.

His memoir, Not My Father's Son, begins with a heartbreaking scene from his childhood where he recounts one of many instances of abuse by his father. As part of the preparation for the BBC series, he works up the confidence to contact his father, who unfortunately takes the opportunity to inflict pain and confusion on his son and cause him to question much more than his grandfather's disappearance.

While Cumming's memoir explores some dark times in his life, it is refreshing and rewarding to learn about the success and happiness he has found in his adult life. Anyone who enjoys genealogy research will also find the process of learning about his family history fascinating. Don't worry, the memoir is gripping even if genealogy research sounds like your idea of a snoozefest. I listened to the audiobook read by Cumming and his storytelling performance was compelling.

If you enjoy this memoir, you might also appreciate Drama by John Lithgow or Then Again by Diane Keaton. Interested in climbing your own family tree? Check out the VBPL Local History and Genealogy page to find programs and resources for conducting genealogy research.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard

Book Cover of Believe Me by Eddie Izzard
When I discovered that one of my favorite comedians, Eddie Izzard, had written Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens, I immediately put a hold on the audiobook. It was as enjoyable as I expected it to be. Just as his stand-up routines are full of stream of conscious diversions, so is his memoir. As an added bonus, the audiobook listener is treated to random additions to the text when Izzard thinks of something else to mention while performing the book. I note this partially because, if you are not a fan of his stand-up style, you may find the book and audiobook maddening.

While there are certainly humorous sections of the book, Izzard's account of his life and career is surprisingly poignant. From the devastation of losing his mother as a child to the reactions he garnered when he came out as transgender (he refers to himself as an action transvestite), his innermost thoughts and feelings are fully on display.

I recommend this memoir primarily to fans of Izzard's stand-up routines, but it would also appeal to aspiring performers as he details his rise to success in comedy and acting. If you are not familiar with his comedy, start with Dress to Kill. If you enjoy comedic memoirs, check out Yes Please by Amy Poehler or American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson.