Sunday, November 24, 2013


Some popular writers write one or two books a year.  Some, like suspense author Scott Turow, set a more leisurely pace.  Since 1987 he has written ten.  He studied creative writing, but it was really his law degree and his work as a prosecutor that gave direction to his literary career.

Identical is Turow’s recently published and tenth novel.  With many plot twists and turns, this is the story of a thirty-year-old murder that comes back to life.  When Dita Kronon was murdered, her boyfriend Cass Gianis confessed and was sentenced to prison.  Twenty-five years later, Cass is being paroled, but the Kronon family is filled with revenge and accuses Cass’s twin brother of assisting in the crime.  As the old murder investigation is re-examined, readers will zip through this thriller trying to figure out the ending.

 Turow’s first book, Presumed Innocent, was an immediate bestseller and attracted an audience that continues to keep his work on bestseller lists.   Presumed Innocent is about a prosecutor who is accused of killing his beautiful colleague, whom he once dated.  Multiple surprises will delight suspense readers.  Although Innocent, written many years after his first book, is the sequel to Presumed Innocent, Turow’s books are all set in the fictional location of Kindle County and many have the same characters.

Ordinary Heroes is unique in that it is not like Turow’s typical thrillers.  After his father’s funeral, Stewart Dubinsky is surprised to discover that his father had been a military lawyer during World War II and was court martialed while pursuing the case of a mysterious officer.  The book centers on Dubinsky’s efforts to untangle the story of what happened to his father and bring justice to his memory.

The Monrovia Public Library owns all of the thrillers by Scott Turow. Take a look at our online catalog or come in person to see which ones you’ll like.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Elizabeth Gilbert is best known for her memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, which entails her experiences in three different countries pursuing three different sensory and spiritual ways of life.  The book was a huge bestseller, a popular book club title and a movie starring Julia Roberts.  Gilbert’s next book, called Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage is a bit of a follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love and offers various views on marriage. If you missed the books or the DVD, you can find all three at the Monrovia Public Library.  And you can also find Gilbert’s newest book.

What is quite surprising to readers is Elizabeth Gilbert’s recently published book The Signature of All Things, her first work of fiction in thirteen years.  It is an involved family tale set in the 18th and 19th centuries, worthy of Austen or Dickens, and is about the Whittaker family, whose patriarch rose from being the son of a gardener to a wealthy import/export tycoon.  It is his daughter Alma who is the main character.  She is educated, a botanist and a spinster whose world is her home in Philadelphia.  However, she finds an intellectual kinship with an artist whom she marries, but never really achieves the kind of relationship she desires.  That artist is the spark that sets Alma on a world journey where her new experiences bring changes in her life. 

If you have shied away from Elizabeth Gilbert because you thought her books were a wee bit touchy feely, now is the time to look for her.  The Signature of All Things is a terrifically engaging book that will keep you reading long beyond your bedtime.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


For those of us of a certain age, the time and place we were when we heard that President John Kennedy was assassinated is forever present in our minds.  It’s difficult to believe that 50 years have passed since November 22, 1963. With this anniversary there are many current television programs and newspaper articles about the late president and how our lives as Americans would be different had he lived to complete his time in office. 

The Monrovia Public Library has many books on John Kennedy.  This anniversary is a good time to visit them, either to read for the first time or to read again.  

One of John Kennedy’s best friends was Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post, to whom Kennedy gave permission to take notes during their get-togethers. Bradlee’s Conversations with Kennedy captures the man, not the myth.  Page-turning and informal, the conversations in the book reveal Kennedy’s mighty intellect and his sense of humor.

Two of the best known biographers of presidents are William Manchester and Robert Dallek.  Manchester’s One Brief Shining Moment: Remembering Kennedy is not a deep profile of the President, but is more like an appreciation and a snapshot of the Camelot myth.  It includes many pictures.  Dallek was given access to all the Kennedy papers for An Unfinished Life:  1917-1963. Although the author refers to Kennedy’s personal issues, the book is primarily a biography of Kennedy’s political skills and history.

A recent biography, Jack Kennedy:  Elusive Hero is by cable commentator Chris Matthews.  Matthews uses his insider knowledge of government and storytelling skills to write a biography that is both an overview of Kennedy’s life and a look at his personal story.  It is a quick read.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Two Brave Young Women

How could two young women from entirely different backgrounds have so much in common?  How could two young women whose lives seemed almost over rise up and not just recover, but flourish?
Brave, wise beyond their years and inspirations to all are Elizabeth Smart and Malala.  Elizabeth Smart’s new memoir is My Story, an autobiography by the young Mormon woman who was kidnapped when she was fourteen, abused by her captor and forced to live on the streets until she was rescued.  Never letting the shame of her situation overwhelm her, Ms. Smart came home and spoke up and spoke out about abuse. Now a victim’s advocate, Ms. Smart has written a book that is not a tell all, but rather a book about her own faith and resilience.

The name Malala Yousafzais may not immediately ring a bell, but her picture will remind you that she is the Pakistani girl who stood up in support of women’s education and was shot by the Taliban for her efforts. Seriously wounded, she was taken to England for hospital care and recovered. Her book, I am Malala:  The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, was co-authored by journalist Christina Lamb. Brought up

by parents who valued school, Malala’s determination before and after being attacked for simply wanting an education has made her an international symbol for the rights of women. The book is both thought provoking and touching. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Discuss the Latest and Greatest Books with the Novel T’s Book Club

The Novel T’s Book Club meets at the Monrovia Public Library every fourth Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. to discuss literary works selected by the members, with a representation of both fiction and non-fiction. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver provoked lively discussion in October.  Barbara Kingsolver has earned many accolades for her writing and Flight Behavior didn't disappoint. The group touched upon the topics of climate change, poverty and its effects on families, how the media alters our perception of major events, and the concept of community that is so important to Ms. Kingsolver in her writings. This is one of the must read novels of the year, and received a resounding thumbs up among Novel T’s members.

On November 26 we'll turn our attention to a work of non-fiction - a book that has climbed to the top of the bestseller charts: Zealot: the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan. Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, the author sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters. Jesus lived in an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. Jesus was a charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy. Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against historical sources, Aslan describes a man of contradictions and mystery.
In December, Novel T's takes a holiday break and resumes January 28, 2014. Our first selection of the new year is The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, followed by What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty on February 25, 2014. All are welcome to join the Novel T’s in the Library Community Room.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Author Eric Schlosser first came to our attention when his book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal was published in 2001.  This important and much quoted book helped Americans think more about what they were eating and where the food came from.  Fast Food Nation tells the story of how, after World War II, the modern diet changed from home-cooked meals with fresh foods to fast foods and packaged meals. Emphasizing how this type of new food both contained too many chemicals and how it came from huge factories that looked nothing like the farms of the past, this is a book that reads quickly and is chock full of enlightening information. It's also a great choice for a book group as there is so much to talk about and readers will have different opinions.

The Monrovia Public Library also owns the DVD of Fast Food Nation. Rather than a documentary, this film is a fictionalized comedy version starring actor Greg Kinnear. For the true experience, read the book. 
Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food by Eric Schlosser and Charlie Wilson is for a younger audience. Written in a bright and accessible manner, this book helps kids and parents understand exactly what is in that burger or fries and how that fast food meal was produced. This is a great book for family discussions.

 There are so many books, newspaper articles and television programs about food and nutrition. Fast Food Nation and                Chew on This still remain very relevant.