Ages 18+.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (7/2/06)

About fifteen years ago I stopped reading Robert B. Parker. After a terrific start with compelling stories and characters, his Spenser series became stale and dull. Several years later, there was a positive review in the New York Times Book Review and I gave him another look. Now a Parker mystery is a treat, pleasing in its predictability and effortless style. Perfect for a summer day.

At #6 is Blue Screen by Robert B. Parker: in this mystery Sunny Randall arrives in Paradise to investigate a mystery and hooks up with the Chief of Police, Jesse Stone; sparks fly, relationships change and a mystery is solved. The only unresolved question is whether we will meet Sunny and Jesse together again.

At #11 is The Wrong Hostage by Elizabeth Lowell: when her teenage son is held hostage by a Mexican drug kingpin, a divorced judge turns to a former lover for help.

At #12 is Baby Proof by Emily Giffin: after leaving her husband because he wants a child, a New York book editor begins to feel she may have made a mistake.

Beach Reads 2006 (#3)

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His Majesty's Dragon* by Naomi Novik. Alternate history set in the Napoleonic Wars, flying dragons and sea battles make for a fantastic read.

The Last Spymaster by Gayle Lynds. Young maverick CIA agent matches wit with a legendary spymaster. Complex and engrossing.

Looking for Mr. Goodfrog by Laurie Graff Searching for one's prince in the rather muddled urban dating pond. Deadly hilarious.

Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde. An engaging encore from the author of Pay it Forward, on the many incarnation of love and the nature of family.

Make Him Look Good* by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. Six women and their relationships with one Latin heartthrob. Sexy fun.

The Penultimate Chance Saloon* by Simon Brett. Comedy of sexual manners for a mature single guy, with wit and compassion. For fans of Julie and Romeo and Philosophy Made Simple.

The Virgin of Small Plains* by Nancy Pickard. Love and deceit behind a 17-year-old unsolved murder in a small town. A stand-along from the award-winning author of the Jenny Cain and Marie Lightfoot series. A must for Cold Case fans.

The World to Come* by Dara Horn. Two siblings are tangled up with a stolen Chagall of suspect provenance, Jewish folklore and family history. Intelligent and imaginative.

* = Starred reviews

Meet the Notebook Girls

Meet Sophie, Courtney, Lindsey, and Julia, four teens that began a shared notebook that served as a joint diary during their freshman year at Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School. Reproduced from the girls’ notebook with handwritten entries as well as photocopied snapshots, sketches, etc., The Notebook Girls reveals with raw honesty what it’s like to grow up female in today’s world. A fascinating nonfiction read.

Catch an interview with three of the notebook girls (now college freshmen) as they talk about how their diary became a book.

Worldly Bits - Romani People

A History Of The Romani People is a NEW book on how Romani people live in Europe. You learn about these interesting people through photos, maps, and clear description. Wouldn't you wish to live in one of the painted wagon houses? Add music to the experience with the compact disc Latcho Drom. The documentary VHS Latcho Drom: Safe Journey is a memorable music and dance journey that follows Romani people from their origins in Rajasthan, as they blend cultures through Europe and North Africa.

Charles de Lint's latest tales from Newford

Charles de Lint's latest novel, Widdershins, was released last month and has received many positive reviews, including a starred review from Booklist. This novel continues the story of Jilly Coppercorn from de Lint's 2002 novel, The Onion Girl. In Widdershins, Jilly continues to recover from the car crash that left her crippled. She also struggles to come to terms with the inside of her own mind which still has not healed from deep childhood traumas. The story takes place as conflicts between the fairies and the native spirits threaten to a bring a war upon the world. De Lint encourages the reader to consider the environmental impact of humans and to analyze the relationships between both men and nations.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (6/25/06)

John Updike found a new subject for his latest novel in a New Jersey neighborhood, a world away from Rabbit. In a recent BookExpo interview Updike said, "I was excited by having an 18-year-old hero and by trying to present, through him, the terrorist point of view...The fact that it is about terrorism, among other things, and that you do have sinister, thriller-like elements gave me some energy, too. I used to read a lot of mystery novels and some thrillers; it's a genre that I'm not unhappy with when I find myself in it."

At #4 is The Rapture by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins: this third prequel is another back to the beginning in the Left Behind Series.

At #6 is The Saboteurs by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV: the Men at War series also continues; this adventure involves the derring-do of O.S.S. agents during World War II.

At #8 is Terrorist by John Updike: Updike writes for the first time about the post-9/11 world; he explores the life of a discontented high school boy attracted to the teachings of a radical iman.

At#15 is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: an old man looks back on his rollicking good times with a traveling circus during the Depression.

Just in time for summer

It was 31 years ago on June 20, 1975, that the movie Jaws was released. With its tagline, "Don't go into the water," Steven Spielberg's thrilling and terrifying movie put fear into the hearts of swimmers for years to come. The movie, based on the book by Peter Benchley, used great special effects to show attacks by a great white shark on beach goers in New England. It won three Oscars and was a huge success at the box office.

To allay (or increase) your fears about these beasts, learn more about sharks in the recently published Sharks of the World by Leonard Compagno, which one reviewer on Amazon excitedly describes as "...the DEFINITIVE and COMPLETELY...EXHAUSTIVE shark guide."

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (6/18/06)

You're in for thrills and chills and things that go bump in the night this week. Check out these 8 new titles on the List. And if you loved Casablanca and have not yet discovered Alan Furst, don't wait for his latest, rush to the shelves for any of his novels. They are wonderful!

At #1 is The Husband by Dean Koontz: a man races against the clock to save his kidnapped wife.

At #4 is The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: in the last volume in the Pendergast trilogy (Brimstone and Dance of Death), two brothers face off against each other in a battle of good and evil.

At #5 is The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver: a forensic detective hunts for a serial killer, the self-styled Watchmaker.

At #7 is Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon: along with the rain, there are vampires on the loose in Seattle; the latest in the Dark-Hunter series.

At #8 is Killer Dreams by Iris Johansen: a research scientist suspects a drug company is using her discovery to create zombies.

At #10 is Betrayal by Aaron Allston: in the latest Star Wars novel, the Skywalker and Solo clans find themselves on opposite sides in a galactic war.

At #14 is Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry: a lighthearted romp in the Old West, featuring a strong-willed heroine.

At #15 is The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst: Italian refugees plot against Mussolini in wartime Paris.

Beach Reads 2006 (#2)

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School’s out. Grab these and head out for some fun and a little sun. Remember to sign up for the Summer Reading program.

The Attack by Yasmina Khadra. A Tel Aviv surgeon’s life is turned upside down by his link to a suicide bomber. Intense and timely.

Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern. Autistic Adam is the only witness and the prime suspect in another child’s murder. A gripping literary thriller.

The Mangler of Malibu Canyon by Jennifer Colt. Second crime-solving romp by the sleuthing McAfee twins on their pink Harley – this time involving a headless corpse in Aunt Reba’s Malibu digs. Wildly entertaining.

The Piano Man by Marcia Preston. A grieving mother tries to save the talented musician who received her son's transplanted heart. Compelling and graceful.

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher. Modern crime fantasy series set in Chicago where wizards battle black magic to protect the mortal population. A TV pilot is expected to air this summer.

Restoring Grace by Katie Fforde. A sparkling, breezy read about an old crumbling mansion, three women in need of a home, and finding much more in the end. (Her previous titles are just as delightful).

Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes by Cathy Holton. Three Georgian beauties exact revenge from straying spouses with aplomb and style. The Ya Ya Sisterhood meets the First Wives Club!

Slipstream by Leslie Larson, Drama, romance, and misfortune entangle the desperate souls working at LAX. Rich and seriously frightening.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts # 26

As a rule I don’t get particularly excited over debut novels by Hollywood insiders. However, the cover blurb intrigued me. Literacy and Longing in L.A. is about a book junkie.

When other thirty-something L.A. socialites with failed marriages and time on their hands shop, yoga and lunch, (Eu)Dora book binges, albeit in style - with $50 bubble baths, Coltrane, a steady supply of red wine and a doorman who shops and delivers.

Despite being a bit of a literary snob, Dora is sexy, smart, and likable, with a healthy dose of insecurity and a strong sense of family. She is open (to historical romance and the hunky clerk in a bookstore) and generous (I will let you find out).

The Chick Lit. ending won’t surprise you. Not brain surgery for sure, but what a fun read! And keep your eyes out for the very funny book quotes.

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