Thursday, April 23, 2015


One of the more fascinating books on the bestseller lists is about the relationship between an animal and a human. H is for Hawk mixes what seems like two totally different subjects—bereavement and falconry. This is the true story by Helen MacDonald who found solace when her father died by trying to train a goshawk, a fierce variety of hawk. Although Ms. MacDonald had learned the ancient art of falconry from her dad, she had never contemplated working with such a wild predator. Vividly written with depth and humor, this is an exceptional example of nature writing. Mabel the goshawk is an unforgettable character and Ms. MacDonald makes this memoir both inspirational and exciting.

There are other bird books on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library and they will appeal to both avian fans and readers who just enjoy good books.

In Condor, author John Nielsen tells the story of how the California bird was brought back from near extinction. An admittedly ugly bird that resembles a big vulture, this ancient member of the hawk family with a 10 foot wing span has roots in the Pleistocene era. Nielsen’s book examines the history of the condor and the sometimes controversial efforts to protect it and expand its numbers in California.

Another threatened bird species is the songbird. The Silence of the Songbird is about those magical and musical birds who are disappearing from American skies. Written by biologist Brigid Stutchbury in an easy-to-understand way, this is a compelling look at how pesticides, development, and loss of habitat are killing singing birds. The book has been named a wake-up call to all those who worry that birds are becoming extinct.

YBirds of the Pacific States by Ralph Hoffman and Familiar Birds of the Pacific Southwest by Florence Dickey will get you started in identifying the birds in your neighborhood.
ou don’t to be an experienced bird watcher to enjoy the birds in your backyard.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Large Print books are a life saver to those readers who need and enjoy them, either because of vision issues or because they simply enjoy reading bigger and darker word fonts. The first large print books appeared in England in 1964 and were created by a book distributor named Frederick Thorp who wanted to help his elderly clients who had low vision. Soon after public libraries began to collect Large Print books, which were an immediate hit with patrons. The Monrovia Public Library has a substantial collection of these easier-on-the-eyes books. Fiction, non-fiction, classics and new bestsellers are available for check out. 

One popular author, Carla Neggers, can only be found on Monrovia’s Large Print shelves. Ms. Neggers, a Massachusetts native who began writing as a small child, is known for her romantic suspense novels whose characters are engaging.  She is a bestselling author whose books have been translated into 24 languages. Why can her books only be found on the Large Print shelves?  It's because her books are paperback originals and are not printed in hardback, so  one publisher specifically generates Large Print versions of Ms. Naggers’ titles.

Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are two FBI agents who investigate crimes in the Sharp and Donovan series by Ms. Neggers. This granddaughter of a detective and her fiancĂ©, an undercover officer, provide the romantic sparks as a background to suspenseful storylines in such books as Harbor Island and Declan’s Cove

Ms. Neggers says that she gets her ideas from everywhere and most of her books, including the series, do not need to be read in any order. Setting is very important. Her Swift River Valley series, including That Night on Thistle Cove and Cider Brook, take place in rural New England and highlight its magnificent scenery.
If you want to get started on reading Negger novels, but don’t want to invest your time in a series right away, try some of the stand-alone novels. The Cabin and The Mist are just two titles from which to choose.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.

Poet Joyce Kilmer is best remembered for his poem Trees whose first two lines are frequently quoted. Trees are on our minds not only because we are experiencing all the lovely spring blossoms, but also because it is almost Arbor Day, which falls on April 24. Arbor is the Latin word for tree, and the holiday celebrates caring for and planting trees, revered as the lungs of the planet. To get you in the holiday mood, there are some wonderful books on trees in the Monrovia Public Library collection.

Sunset, the magazine of the west and publisher of many books about home and garden, has the favorite standby The New Sunset Western Garden Book. This excellent illustrated guide is easy-to-use, discusses the pluses and minuses of the many trees that you might consider for your yard, and very importantly talks about water needs. Use this book for all your garden needs and take it to the nursery when selecting new trees.

Flowering Shrubs and Small Trees by Isabel Zucker and Trees and Shrubs of Southern California by John Stuart will both help you identify local trees and select appropriate trees for your garden. The Stuart book has line drawings and a geographical map that shows where the trees grow best.

In addition, trees need to be trimmed. The American Horticultural Society Pruning and Training Handbook is a terrific go-to book that gives step-by-step advice and illustrations on how to prune trees. The before and after pictures are particularly helpful.  Maybe just pruning is not on your mind, but topiary—the art of sculpting plants into shapes. Both The Art of Shaping Shrubs, Trees and Other Plants by Tatsuo Isimoto and Topiary and Ornamental Hedges by Miles Hadfield will get you started towards turning your garden into a work of art.

For those curious enough to read the entire text of Trees by Joyce Kilmer, go to the Poetry Foundation website: enjoy the full poem.

Monday, April 13, 2015


World War II continues to fascinate readers, and books on every topic related to the War continue to be written. Here are some very diverse titles from the new book shelves at the Monrovia Public Library.  
When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Manning is the true story how the United States reacted to the vile burning of books by the Nazis.  Librarians, publishers and the government celebrated books by sending them to the service men and women fighting the war. At first collecting donated books, the effort was shifted to creating books that were light weight, could fit into pockets and go where the vets went. 120 million paperback copies of 1,200 titles were published. The titles included many classics and the readers responded by writing fan letters to such authors as Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby).

Just as fierce as book lovers are pet lovers, but everyone should enjoy The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible Story of a World War II Airman and the Four-Legged Hero who Flew at his Side by Damian Lewis. A Czech flyer on his way to England to join the Royal Air Force found a German shepherd puppy abandoned in a farm house, hides him in his jacket and eventually takes the dog on his flying runs to bomb the enemy. Both received medals and were proclaimed heroes. The dog named Ant and the flyer Robert Bozdech shared bonds of loyalty and adventure in this three hanky book.

Beyond the Call: The True Story of One World War II Pilot’s Covert Mission to Rescue POWs on the Eastern Front takes place toward the end of the war when the Nazis had abandoned allied prisoner of war camps in the Ukraine. Because the Russians were not willing to allow the U.S. to rescue these men, a secret plan was formed to have Air Force flyers save them. The head of the mission was Robert Trimble and the author of this seat-of-your-pants exciting book is his son Lee Trimble.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Whether you are a get-in-the car-and-go traveler or an arm chair traveler who likes to read about excursions, California is full of great places to visit, especially in spring when flowers are in bloom and the weather seems near perfect. One great destination is Palm Springs, with its idiosyncratic history, striking vegetation and geography and fabulous architecture. The Monrovia Public Library has some terrific books about this favorite town.

Published by the Palm Springs Historical Society and written by Frank Bogert, the first is Palm Springs the First 100 Years.  The author, who arrived in Palm Springs in 1927 and later served as its mayor, has written a marvelous history of how the town was part of the Agua Caliente Native American reservation and went from being a winter resort to a year round tourist sanctuary.

Yes, but what about the movie stars who visited? Palm Springs Babylon: Sizzling Stories from the Desert Playground of the Stars is a gossipy look at the well-behaved and misbehaving celebrities who visited. The golden age of Hollywood is covered with stories of Cary Grant, Greta Garbo and Errol Flynn, while television stars are highlighted by stories about Lucy and Desi, Liberace and Dinah Shore. The book has fun pictures that add to the sizzle.
On every visitor’s list is the town’s glorious mid-20th century architecture, the low slung houses with glass walls, sleekly modern furniture and blue swimming pools. Palm Springs Modern: Houses in the California Desert by Adele Cygelman and Palm Springs Weekend:  The Architecture and Design of a Mid-Century Oasis by Alan Hess are stunning picture books, with accompanying text, of the get-away homes that were designed by brilliant architects like Albert Frey, John Lautner and William Cody. These books are great introductions to just one of the reasons that Palm Springs is such a hot spot.