Friday, December 21, 2012

Favorite Reads 2012: Loves Carolyn Haines

A native of Mississippi, Carolyn Haines is the author of over fifty books in multiple genres. She was named the 2010 recipient of the Harper Lee Award and is the recipient of the 2009 Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.

Bonefire of the Vanities is my 12th book in the Carolyn Haines Bones series. Why do I continue reading every one of these books? Well...when they are so well written and more than could I not continue reading them. This latest in the Sarah Booth Delaney Mysteries was no exception.

Sarah Booth Delaney and her BFF Tinkey (and partner PI) have been requested by Madam Tomeeka aka Tammy to guard Marjorie Littlefield from harm. It appears Marjorie is staying with the Westins, Brandy & Sherry, at an estate, Heart's Desire. Heart's Desire has a long history and most of it is quite dark and only getting darker. Sarah Booth and Tinkin set out under the guise of being maids for Marjorie.  How long being a maid will last with Tinkie...your guess is as good as mine!

Despite the wishes of her overprotective fiance, Sarah Booth Delaney can't give up her detective work, no matter how dangerous it becomes. It's too much a part of her. On this case, avoiding danger might be impossible--she's on the trail of a porn-star-turned-psychic operating from a haunted estate on the edge on town. Medium Sherry Cameron promises to reunite grieving family members with their dearly departed, but it seems vaguely suspicious that Sherry will only accept emotionally vulnerable and tremendously wealthy clients.  Aging billionaire Marjorie Littlefield fits the profile perfectly--her daughter died in a tragic accident as a young girl, she's been estranged from her son for decades, and she's planning to leave her considerable inheritance to her cat.

Convinced she's uncovered a scheme to separate a lonely woman from her fortune, Sarah Booth talks her way onto the estate as a maid, where she finds Marjorie and several other wealthy eccentrics ready to commune with the dead. Between chores, Sarah Booth explores the estate, mingles with the other staff...and finds a few dead bodies. But which guest or staff member might be the killer? Even Jitty, Sarah Booth's personal haunt, won't tell until Sarah Booth has uncovered all of Sherry's well-kept secrets.

With spooks and charlatans around every corner, Sarah Booth is the only PI in the southlands who can put an end to this elaborate scam in Bonefire of the Vanities, the charming twelfth entry in Carolyn Haines's sparkling series.

I love going back to Dahlia House and going on another journey with Sarah Booth and Tinkie.  Love this series and appreciate the author taking the time to write such an interesting story with substance rather than churning out one shallow book after another in short order.  Well worth the wait.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Favorite Reads 2012: A Fascinating Historical "What If"

One of my favorite reads of 2012 was a novel based on a fictionalized John F Kennedy being sent on a secret spy mission by FDR, just as Hitler's forces were spreading over the map of Europe like a dark, spilled potion.

Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews hooked me right from the beginning. I was immediately intrigued by the notion of Harvard senior JFK setting off on a "research" trip around Europe. That alone would have been fascinating; and, indeed, he did actually travel to all the places described in the novel at those times. But even more fascinating was the idea of FDR summoning the young, sickly student to his private train coach deep beneath the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and confiding to him that he could not trust anyone around him, particularly FBI Director J Edgar Hoover. Now, the United States had no real secret service in 1939. "Spies" were often diplomats and trusted citizens living abroad. It's hard to imagine such a situation living in today's high tech surveillance world.

FDR had decided to use JFK's tour of Europe, gathering historical information for his senior thesis, as a convenient cover to gather intelligence on Hitler's plan to buy off American presidential candidates in order to unseat FDR, insuring America's neutrality. He mentions suitcases full of cash coming into the country. The fact that young Jack was considered a wild, undisciplined, and completely inexperienced "weak link" in the Kennedy clan does not seem to concern FDR at all. His confidence convinces Jack to give it a try. There is no way for him to anticipate the perilous situations in which he will find himself traveling through European countries in the throes of being marched upon by the Nazis. He encounters helpers along the way and even has to learn to send and receive messages in code.

I got a whole new perspective on JFK from this book. Even though it is fiction, it is clear that the author did quite a bit of research on him and his family. I knew that he had been ill much of his life, but had no idea how baffled doctors were as to what repeatedly nearly killed him. He was eventually diagnosed with a hormonal deficiency, but the treatment in 1939 was almost as horrific as the attacks he suffered. I knew that he had lived in the shadow of his brother Joe, who was the heir apparent to the Kennedy fortune and who carried the hopes of patriarch Joseph P Kennedy for ultimate political power, but did not fully realize that Jack was considered almost a throwaway by his father. But in the world of fiction, what Jack uncovers during his harrowing trip will change that dynamic forever.

Of course, there are vivid descriptions of other members of the Kennedy clan. The relationships among the older siblings, and the very young Teddy, belonging to another generation, almost. There is romance, of course: the mysterious Diana whose allegiances are never quite certain. And murder: many of them! Carried out by a Nazi assassin whose mark is a spider carved into the victim.

Hooked yet? This genre is not one I usually am drawn to; the subject of JFK is what attracted me. It sparks a lot of speculation about what historical secrets may still be out there, and how some things in the power struggle of politics never change.

Jack 1939 may be found in the "new" section at the library.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our wonderful patrons!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Library Has a Baby!

Right after he was born

The Library has a baby! I know, you didn't even know we were expecting. That's because we didn't actually deliver it ourselves. That honor belongs to our children's librarian, Eboni Perryman.

Karion Jermaine Watson was born on Tuesday, December 4 at 3:52 pm. He weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces and was 21" long. The mother and the baby are doing fine and hope to be home today.

When he woke up
As you can see from the pictures, he's adorable. Eboni says he is a really good baby and rarely cries. The nurses say he likes everybody and loves to cuddle. The only trouble was he didn't seem to know how to nurse, although he liked his bottle. Eboni was wondering if something was wrong with her or her milk. Fortunately, one of the mothers in our Tuesday morning story time came to the rescue. She has lots of experience nursing babies and was able to show Eboni how to do it. Now the baby seems to be nursing just fine, and the amount in the supplemental bottle is decreasing.

Now he's socializing
We tried to get a picture of the mommie with her baby, but she was being camera shy. She promises one soon.

Eboni will be on Family Medical Leave for six weeks, but in the meantime, we'll keep you updated on the Library Baby on facebook.

PS: Don't tell Eboni this is the Library Baby - she thinks he's hers!