Monday, March 28, 2016

Some old books, some new books...

Sometimes you’re in the mood to pull an old book off the library shelf as well as a new book. Here are a few “oldies but goodies” along with a new book to see you through until spring brings all things new.
History of the Finns in Michigan by Armas K. E. Holmio, 2001
After living with Finns and joking about them since I was a kid, I thought it was time to learn about their history. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was a major destination for Finns during the peak years of immigration in the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century. Originally published in Finnish in 1967, translator Ellen M. Ryynanen brings the story of the contribution of Finnish immigrants into the mainstream of Michigan history. Holmio (1897-1977), a Finnish immigrant, was pastor of the Lutheran Church of America and a professor of history at Suomi College and Theological Seminary. He introduces the people of Finland and traces Finnish immigration. Holmio then covers particular communities within each major region where Finns lived and worked. He has separate chapters on churches, temperance societies, labor, cooperatives, and the Kaleva lodge. He goes on to describe cultural activities, parishes, and provides biographical sketches. Holmio relates the history of Finns in Michigan to the larger picture of the Finnish experience in America.

River God: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Wilbur Smith, 1994
Two thousand years B.C., the ancient heartland of the Nile kings stood torn and bleeding from constant civil war. Drained of gold and of the blood of its young men, the legacy of eleven sovereign Pharaohs is thrown to the winds of the desert as weak men inherit the crown. On the eve of the feast of Osiris, the loyal subjects of the Pharaoh of Upper Egypt gather in Thebes to pay homage to their leader. Among them is Taita, a eunuch slave to the Lord Intef and someone blessed with extraordinary gifts.

While others salute the triumphal passage of the royal barge, Taita, clever and scheming, can see only the icon of a kingdom’s fading glory. Beside him stand his protégés: Lady Lostris, the Lord Intef’s daughter, beautiful beyond her fourteen years; and Tanus, proud young army officer, who has vowed to avenge his father’s death and seize Lostris as his prize.

From Thebes to the mountains of Abyssinia, from the legend of the Blue Sword to the epic battle against the mighty Hyksos army, comes the magnificent, richly detailed saga of their triumphs and destinies. Exploding with all the passion and rage of a long ago time, “River God” is a fine example of historical writing, a story that won’t let you go. If you like this book, check out some of the many other books Smith has written.

Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi, 1985 
Wiseguy aims a penetrating spotlight upon the inner workings of organized crime in America. “Wiseguy” takes readers behind the headlines, from the seductive glitter of casinos where everything is for sale, to the sleazy bars and after hour clubs where the cheapest thing on display is human life. “Wiseguy” tells the life story of Henry Hill, a career criminal who literally grew up in the mob. Often in Hill’s own words, readers are swept into the day-to-day workings of a life of crime. The truth about the Lofthansa heist--and the ten murders which followed-- to the inside story of the Sindona case—which nearly caused the collapse of the Vatican Bank—as well as the Boston College point-shaving scandal and countless other infamous crimes, is brought to life by a major player in the deadly high-stakes game some people call the Mafia. Readers are taken inside the inner workings of organized crime, a trip made possible through the investigative skills of the author and the cooperation of one of the criminals. “Wiseguy” is a firsthand account of a secret world, more brutal and more fascinating than many novels that glamorize the Mafia. “Wiseguy” is based on the testimony of a man who has seen and done it all.

Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist
by Stephen A. Kurkjian, 2015
In a secret meeting in 1981, a low level Boston thief gave career gangster Ralph Rossetti the tip of a lifetime: the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was a big score waiting to happen. Though its collections included priceless artworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and others, its security was cheap, mismanaged, and out-of-date. And now it seemed the whole Boston criminal underworld knew it. Nearly a decade passed before the museum was finally hit. But when it finally happened, the theft quickly became one of the most infamous art heists in history. Thirteen works of art valued up to five hundred million dollars, by some of the most famous artists in the world, were taken. The Boston FBI took control of the investigation, but twenty-five years later the case is still unsolved and the artwork is still missing.

Stephen Kurkjian, one of the top investigative reporters in the country, has been working this case for nearly twenty-five years. In “Master Thieves”, he sheds new light on some of the Gardner’s most curious mysteries. Why would someone steal these paintings only to leave them hidden for twenty-five years? And why, if one of the top crime bosses in the city knew about the score in 1981, did the theft happen in 1990? What happened in the intervening years? And what might all this have to do with Boston’s notorious gang wars of the 1980s?

Visit your local library for books that satisfy your curiosity. The reference staff is very happy to help you find what you want.

 --by Stan Peterson, Maintenance Service Coordinator

Monday, March 21, 2016

New mysteries

            Even though we’ve seen signs of spring, there are still plenty of indoor evenings for reading the new mysteries you can find on the shelves at the Peter White Public Library. 
            For those of you who can’t get enough of “Downton Abbey”, Scandalous Behavior by Stuart Woods takes Stone Barrington, New York City cop-turned-Manhattan law firm millionaire, to England. Dame Felicity Devonshire, the director of MI6, gives him a tour of Windward Hall, the Hampshire estate Felicity tells Stone he should buy from its terminally ill owner, Sir Charles Bourne. The same day that Stone pays £10 million for Windward Hall, he purchases a new wardrobe, a Bentley, and a Porsche in London. The murder of a Hampshire neighbor, Sir Richard Curtis, provides a minor distraction. All goes smoothly for Stone, until his son, Paul, becomes a target of a religious cult, the Chosen Few.  Stone learns that not everything is as it seems and sometimes the people closest to you are the ones who hold the darkest of secrets.

            One of my favorite detective series features Bess Crawford, English battlefield nurse, who serves in France during the 1st World War.  In A Pattern of Lies, written by Charles Todd, an American mother/son partnership, Bess meets Major Mark Ashton, a former patient.  When she's stranded in Canterbury waiting for a train to her home, he invites her for a visit. Her pleasure at the unexpected meeting is soon marred by his revelation that his family has been the subject of a sustained whispering campaign. Two years earlier, the family business, a gunpowder factory, exploded, causing more than 100 deaths. Though the official investigation ruled out sabotage, rumor has it that Mark's father, Philip, was responsible. Even Philip's arrest doesn't end their persecution. Bess is determined to find the one surviving witness who can clear her friend's name. But there's a problem: the witness is currently in combat, fighting at the front. Can Bess find him before someone else does and perhaps silences him and her forever?

            Mystery writers often cloak their stories with historical happenings.  Spies and code breakers not only appear in recent movies and PBS specials but also in Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Ella MacNeal. Maggie Hope, the American-born British spy, travels to Washington, D.C., in the company of Winston Churchill, posing as his typist, for a meeting with F.D.R. just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When Eleanor Roosevelt's temporary secretary, Blanche Balfour, fails to show up for work, Maggie winds up accompanying the First Lady to Blanche's apartment, where they discover her body and a note implicating Eleanor Roosevelt herself as the reason for her (apparent) suicide. Not only does Maggie try to prevent a scandal that has implications for the presidency and the war, she also assists in the First Lady's efforts to help Wendell Cotton, a poor African-American sentenced to die by an all-white Virginia jury. While Maggie is the star, MacNeal gives ample space to the political maneuverings of Roosevelt and Churchill.

            Marquette is not the only area where the recent development of a mine has been controversial.  A Midsummer’s Equation: a Detective Galileo novel, the latest in a Japanese mystery series by Keigo Higashino featuring brilliant physicist Manabu Yukawa, takes the physicist to the dying Japanese resort town of Hari Cove, where Yukawa (aka Detective Galileo) offers his expertise at hearings on an offshore drilling proposal that promises to boost the nation's economy by providing access to rare metals. Locals who fear the effects of the resulting environmental damage, which also threatens the area's fishing industry, are against the plan. As the corporation behind the mining operation holds meetings to win over opponents, Masatsugu Tsukahara, a fellow guest at the hotel where Yukawa is lodging, is found at the base of a seaside cliff, apparently dead from an accidental fall. An autopsy reveals that Tsukahara actually died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and the mystery deepens when Yukawa learns that the dead man was a former homicide detective and “Detective Galileo” must uncover the hidden relationship behind the tragic events that led to this murder.
            While we’re reading reports on the 2015’s deer hunting season, Joseph Heywood has written Buckular Dystrophy, the 10th installment of the beloved Woods Cop mystery series featuring Grady Service. The traditional firearm deer season in Michigan lasts two weeks, a time in which the most hunters are afield during the year and the time when most things happen. Game wardens cannot count on having any life but work during this period, and in this case Grady Service, who takes longtime violator and archrival Limpy Allerdyce on as his partner for deer season, runs into the most bizarre string of big cases involving deer that he has ever encountered. “Buckular Dystrophy” is the term coined by Conservation Officers to describe the condition whereby people cannot help killing deer, not for sport or food, but for other reasons - an addiction of sorts, and unlike other addictions, one not medically organized, but just as real.
            The Steel Kiss: a Lincoln Rhyme novel by Jeffrey Deaver would have been a great selection for this season’s “Murder is where you find it—Mysteries with murders in unusual places, times and ways” theme for the Once Upon a Crime Book Group. NYPD Major Cases detective Amelia Sachs is hot on the trail of a killer. She's chasing him through a department store in Brooklyn when an escalator malfunctions. The stairs give way, with one man horribly mangled by the gears. Sachs is forced to let her quarry escape as she jumps in to try to help save the victim. She and famed forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme soon learn, however, that the incident may not have been an accident at all, but the first in a series of intentional attacks. They find themselves up against one of their most formidable opponents ever: a brilliant killer who turns common products into murder weapons. As the body count threatens to grow, Sachs and Rhyme must race against the clock to unmask his identity--and discover his mission--before more people die.
--Caroline Jordan, retired librarian

Monday, March 14, 2016

New adult fiction

Here’s a few new adult fiction books to consume, including several by NY Times bestselling authors, two of which are large print editions; if I were you, I’d keep a light on.

Well known author, J.D. Robb, Brotherhood in Death (Large Print), is a NY Times bestselling author. Another great “who dun it” novel. Two cousins, once as close as brothers, find themselves at odds over their late grandfather’s brownstone home. When Dennis finds out his cousin was meeting with a real estate agent, without consulting him, he decides to confront him and the agent. When he gets there he hears voices and goes in that direction. He sees his cousin bleeding and tied up and then… You will have to read it to find out. This book is also available in regular print.

Blue, by Danielle Steel, another NY Times bestselling author (Large Print), has produced a very emotionally gripping story of dark secrets, second chances and the power of love and courage to overcome life’s greatest challenges. On the anniversary of that fateful accident, she meets Blue, a 13 year old boy, abandoned by his family. Will he trust her? What was it that she learns that he’s been hiding for so long?

Orphan X, by NY Times bestselling author, Gregg Hurwitz, is a thriller beyond thrillers. A young boy, pulled from a foster home by the U.S. government, was raised and trained to be a part of a covert operation designed to create the perfect assassins. Evan broke with the program, leaving his past behind, or did he? Someone is on his tail, getting closer and closer. Get your pot of hot coffee brewing, a box of cookies, and find a comfy spot on the couch. This is going to be a long night since there is no way you would be able to drift off to sleep before finishing it.

Ariel Lawhon, author of Flight of Dreams, take readers on the doomed last flight of the Hindenburg. It is loaded with mystery, romance, big dreams, murder and betrayal. All the things that make a good story, a great historical fiction that will leave you wondering what really happened to the Hindenburg?

For a bit of romance and mystery all in one book, come on over and grab the novel by Karen Robards, The Last Time I saw Her. She is also the NY Times bestselling author of Her Last Whisper. As would be expected she merges the two worlds of mystery and romance like no one else. It will have you on the edge of your set, for sure. Charlie Stone’s ghostly lover is facing death yet again. A mysterious stranger turned up and Charlie finds out that he could easily pass for Michael’s twin. In order to free Michael, she must risk her life, and contend with a  swarm of psychopaths at the state prison.

NY Times Best selling author, Vince Flynn, writes a truly awesome thriller, The Survivor. There is lots of intrigue, CIA, stolen classified documents, all in an elaborately masterminded betrayal of his country. There’s a deadly race to the finish as both the Pakistanis and the Americans search desperately for accomplices and for those confidential documents that are slowly being leaked to the world. So, hold on to your seat as you  venture through this outstanding thriller.

If you’ve been keeping track, Devil’s Bridge is Linda Fairstein’s 17th novel about Alexandra Cooper. In this novel, detective Mike Chapman, has to find out why or how Cooper disappeared. She’s made many enemies during more than a decade of putting criminals behind bars. Will Mike’s and Coop’s new intimacy cause problems for Mike as he tries to solve this mystery? The Manhattan waterfront is the back drop for this exciting novel.

--Nicki Malave, Network Coordinator

Monday, March 7, 2016

Middle grade page-turning fiction

Are your kids having trouble getting interested in their required reading?  Good news!  We’ve got some brand-new middle grade fiction books on the shelves at Peter White Public Library.  You’ll be catching them with a flashlight after lights out with these page-turners.  Stop by the youth services department on the library’s lower level and check one out today!
Soar, by Joan Bauer:  Jeremiah is a baseball super fan.  When he’s told he can’t play baseball, he decides to do the next best thing and become a coach.  Jeremiah moves to a new town and finds everyone about ready to give up on baseball. It’s up to him and his winning spirit to everyone back in the game.
Pax by Sara Pennypacker:  Pax was only a kit when recued by “his boy” Peter.  Now there’s another threat to them all, and Peter has to live with his grandpa—without Pax.  Before Peter makes it through one night without him, he sets off to get reunite with his friend.
Sweet Home Alaska, by Carole Estby Dagg:  This exciting story, based on actual events, introduces us to an interesting chapter in history, when FDR set up a New Deal colony in Alaska during the Great Depression.  It’s 1934, and times are tough for their family. To make a fresh start, Terpsichore’s father signs up for President Roosevelt’s Palmer Colony project.  Their new home is not what they expect—it’s a town under construction in the wilderness, where everyone lives in tents and shares an outhouse.  Terpsichore is not going to let first impressions stop this grand adventure and hatches a grand plan to make the rest of the family fall in love with their new life. 
The Honest Truth, by Dan Gemeinhart:  In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He's got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.  But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all.  Mark is sick--the kind of sick that means hospitals and treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.  So Mark runs away with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier--even if it's the last thing he ever does.
The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh:  Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can't stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape doesn't go well, Mary fears she'll be stuck there forever.   The next day, a mysterious woman appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary, and the matron's all too happy see Mary go. Soon, she’s living a dream – hearty meals and a warm, soft bed!  But when Mary begins to explore the nearby town, she learns a terrifying secret about her adopter’s true identity. If Mary's not careful, her dream life might just turn into a nightmare.
Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City, by Will Mabbitt:  When Mabel's baby sister is plucked from her crib by an evil witch, Mabel has no choice but to follow both to the jungles of the Forbidden City.   Joining a brand-new cast of characters—and a few familiar faces from The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones—Mabel races an arrogant fox, slays a ferocious millipede, and battles the diabolical witch. Is she prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister?
To Catch a Cheat, by Varian Johnson:  When a video frames Jackson Greene and his friends for a crime they didn't commit, Gang Greene battles the blackmailers in this sequel to The Great Greene Heist.   Jackson is retired from conning, so Principal Kelsey is off his back and his friends have new projects of their own. Then Jackson receives a link to a faked security video implicates Jackson and his friends with a threat to pass it to the principal--unless Jackson submits to their demand. Jackson devises a plan and along the way they learn sometimes it takes a thief to catch a cheat.
Story Thieves: The Stolen Chapters, by James Riley:  Owen Conners would never jump into a mystery. There are too many clues and twists.  So how did he end up in one?  How did Kiel Gnomenfoot, boy magician, lose all of his magic? Where’s Bethany, their half-fictional friend? And who’s the annoying guy wearing the question mark mask and Sherlock Holmes hat, taunting Owen and Kiel that Bethany is in grave danger? 
-- Heather Steltenpohl, Development Director