Friday, February 28, 2014

FROM BIG STONE GAP, VIRGINIA, TO NEW YORK CITY: AUTHOR ADRIANA TRIGIANI



It seems like only in America that a woman from Big Stone Gap, Virginia could grow up, move to New York City, get a job writing for popular television shows (including The Bill Cosby Show) and then take inspiration from her childhood to write bestselling and beloved books.

Adriana Trigiani is that author and her books can be found on the shelves of Monrovia Library. Her first novel is Big Stone Gap, originally written as a screenplay, the story of the unusually-named Ave Maria, a spinster pharmacist (do you qualify for spinsterhood at 35?) whose life is upended by the unexpected arrival of a suitor. This sweet story of small town life and people with big dreams is both gentle and witty.  Three sequels follow: Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon and Home to Big Stone Gap and all of them focus on Ave Maria and the local residents.

Author Trigiani based her next book Lucia, Lucia on her grandmother.  It is the story of the daughter of an Italian grocer in Greenwich Village, New York in the 1950s who aspires to being a career woman in the fashion industry rather than a traditional stay-at-home helper. When she rejects her longtime sweetheart to pursue a flashy man that readers know will only spell trouble, Lucia’s life takes a different track. The poignant story is both heartwarming and sentimental.

Trigiani’s newest novel is The Shoemaker’s Wife, an epic story about two star-crossed lovers who come from Italy, but meet as immigrants in America. This multi-generational novel will appeal to love story and historical fiction readers. Like other Trigiani books, it has just the right mix of romance and humor. 



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ON THE CRIME BEAT: MICHAEL CONNELLY



For Michael Connelly fans the coming of a new book is always reason to celebrate. When this former Los Angeles Times crime reporter had his first novel published in 1992, did he realize that he was going to become one of most popular contemporary authors? Mainly writing about two flawed characters, Los Angeles Police Detective Harry (Hieronymus) Bosch and his half-brother Mickey Haller, a defense attorney who works out of the back seat of his car, Connelly captures the dedication of two professionals who always seek justice, but don’t always follow the rules. The Monrovia Library has all the Michael Connelly titles, including some on CD and some in Spanish.

Michael Connelly books always have a good mystery that unravels in a suspenseful way and always have main characters which readers care about. And, because almost every Connelly book is set in Los Angeles, readers can identify with the settings where Harry and Mickey operate.
 
Connelly’s new novel is The Gods of Guilt, a sequel to the bestselling The Lincoln Lawyer. Mickey Haller is caught up in a messy murder case that involves former clients. The twisting and turning plot and the courtroom dramatics are outstanding. There are 5 titles in the Mickey Haller series.



The Harry Bosch series now has 18 titles, through which readers have followed the character’s checkered career as a homicide detective and his tumultuous personal life. The latest in this series is The Black Box.

Monday, February 24, 2014

WATER WISE GARDENING



It’s in the news: California officially has a drought and it’s time to use less water. One great way to save water is to landscape your garden with native plants which are best suited to our environment. Monrovia Library has a selection of books on this topic that will get you thinking and planning.

The Sunset Magazine book series is a terrific source of do-it-yourself information. Sunset’s Desert Gardening shows you how to use local plants, particularly cacti and succulents, and how to get started with container gardening—an alternative to big landscape projects. Its when-to-plant calendar is really useful.

Color photos and descriptions of individual plants make Low Water Use Plants for California and the Southwest by Carol Shuler a very practical book. The lists of drought-tolerant trees, ground covers and flowering plants will be helpful when you visit nurseries to see what's available.

Native Gardens for Dry Climates by Sally Wasowski is an introduction to native alternative plants, including trees. The book explains how our local climate and soil allows you to have a green, colorful and lush garden without growing water guzzling plants.

Reimagining the California Lawn by Carol Bornstein answers the question of how to replace that traditional front lawn. The book’s native plant list is thorough and the suggestions to also use hardscape (rocks) will get you thinking about what the front of the house would look like without grass. The color photos of examples of re-imagined lawns will inspire you.
 
Monrovia’s librarians can help you find many other water wise resources. The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants is located in nearby Sun Valley. Its mission is to promote and propagate California drought-tolerant plants and it offers programs and workshops. The Foundation’s website is: http://www.theodorepayne.org/       

These books make great reading in advance of the the Water Conservation and Food Gardens program on March 20, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m., in the Library Community Room. 



                                                                      

Friday, February 21, 2014

INSIDE THE BELTWAY: AN INSIDE LOOK AT WASHINGTON, D.C.



When people talk about what goes on in Washington, D.C. they frequently wring their hands and wonder why opposing parties cannot get along and why the business of government cannot always get done. Three recent books on the shelves at the Monrovia Library go behind the scenes to explain why. Each is a page-turner. 

The relationship between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil is explored in Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked by television commentator Chris Matthews. It's an engaging history of these two powerful men and how their personal friendship allowed them to forge compromises. The President was a conservative Republican and an outsider in Washington and the Speaker of the House was a liberal Democrat and longtime insider, but both were able to work together to pass legislation. A balanced and fun read.

The Town: Two Parties and a Funeral by Mark Leibovich is a frothy and entertaining book that doesn't take political sides, but instead takes a look at what happens in our nation’s capital…after the curtain is pulled back. It is the story of who makes money, who goes to parties and how people get ahead.  News makers, journalists and behind-the-scenes power brokers are probed in often humorous and unflattering ways.  For readers who like to know the news behind the news.



The inside scoop of what really happened during the last presidential election is chronicled in Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Capturing the inside story, in all its blemished glory, it shares anecdotes not found on the evening news. Great stories from two longtime reporters.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Share Your Love of Books with the Novel T’s Book Club



The Novel T’s Book Club meets at the Monrovia Public Library every 4th Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. to discuss literary works selected by the members, with a representation of both fiction and non-fiction. The Novel T’s shared an evening of Indian food in conjunction with a book discussion of The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri this past month. This book touched upon the Naxalite movement, family ties, and the consequences of life decisions made by the book’s characters. “The Lowland” is based on a short story called Brotherly Love. This story was published in the New Yorker magazine summer fiction issue in 2013.
 
Our February 25 discussion will feature What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity. What if you couldn't remember the last 10 years of your life? Pregnancies and births, marriages and deaths, friends and enemies? This is what happens to Alice, who after a fall, wakes up believing  she is 29 years old, happily married, and due to have her first baby soon. The reality is that she is closer to 40, with 3 children and a failing marriage. So begins the story of Alice as she has finds out what has happened in the past 10 years of her life from those around her, and discovers that the Alice of 29 years had morphed into a very strong, capable mother, with opinions and actions that don't always endear her to loved ones. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

In March, we will turn to a classic work of suspense—Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Our April selection is Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. The monthly discussion is held in the Library Storytime Room at 6:45, and refreshments will be served based on the theme of the book. All are welcome to join the Novel T’s!