Thursday, June 26, 2014


Sometimes bestselling authors don’t seem to try as hard once they feel sure their fans will always read their books. We can look to our favorite writers and acknowledge that once in a while they write a dud or a book that is formulaic.
One author who has been our radar since his first book was published (Carrie in 1973), but still seems to write really original works and try new genres, is Stephen King. Readers who have not dipped into King lately might say…oh, he is the author who writes supernatural books or… I have not read him for years. King’s books can be found on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library and now might be a great time to check out his latest novels, which are mysteries.

His newest is Mr. Mercedes, which has received great reviews and is being celebrated as one of the books to read this summer. The perpetrator in this story is not some otherworldly being, but a psycho who plows his car into a line of people, killing several of them before he escapes. A retired cop, depressed that he had never been able to arrest the killer, becomes involved again and finds an unusual place to track this criminal. A page-turning thriller, this book is for mystery lovers who like quick-paced stories. 

Joyland is another edge of your seat mystery, but one that begins as a coming of age story and a romance. A man nostalgically recalls the summer he worked at an amusement park and learned that a woman had been murdered on one of the rides. With its unpredictable and satisfying ending, Joyland is a unique thriller.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Reading about celebrities is frequently a guilty pleasure, but when celebrities are from the Golden Age of Hollywood and are the authors themselves, the reading takes on a special glow. Look on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library for two terrific bestselling titles by Robert Wagner. It is hard to believe that this natural storyteller is now 84 years old.
Pieces of My Heart: A Life is a warm look back by the popular actor. A young handsome fellow who fell into acting, Wagner’s first screen test was a dud, but he went on to learn from some of the biggest names in Hollywood, like Cary Grant, Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck. Wagner talks about the movies he made, the stars he knew, his marriages, the tragic death of his wife Natalie Wood, his happy marriage to Jill St.John and the surprise hit of his television show Hart to Hart. 

You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age is brand new and a quick and enjoyable read.  Rather than being another straightforward autobiography, this is more of a love letter to a time and place that has disappeared. Wagner arrived in Los Angeles as the movie studio system was winding down, but he seemed to know every star, visit every nightclub and attend every Hollywood A-list party. Wagner doesn't dish the dirt in this charming book.                           
What makes it special is that he also talks about the traditions, the buildings, the restaurants and the department stores that symbolized the Golden Age, but no longer exist. Hollywood fans will love this.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Local food lovers wept when witty Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl left to take the top job at the New York Times. Never uppity, she wrote for everybody—people who loved a good burger or a bowl of noodles and people who followed the latest trend. From newspaper writing she went on to be editor of Gourmet magazine and then turned to writing books. Those engaging titles can be found on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library.
Ms. Riechl’s three memoirs are coming of age stories that are honest, funny and share her passion for food. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table explores her childhood with an eccentric mother whose inability to prepare an edible meal set the young Ruth in search of flavorful food and then to an early career as a cook. Going in another direction, she becomes a food critic in Comfort Me with Apples. Finally in Garlic and Sapphires she takes the job in New York, where she wears disguises, wigs and thrift store dresses, so she will not be recognized as she dines in and writes about restaurants. 

Now turning to fiction, Ms. Reichl’s new book is called Delicious. Inspired by her time at Gourmet, this is the story of Billie, a new employee at Delicious magazine who retains her job after the publication folds. She stays on to answer letters from past readers who respond to the magazine’s entreaty: “Your money back if the recipe does not work.” Mystery, romance, food and memorable characters are the essential ingredients in this light read.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


There are 33 different works in the Monrovia Public Library by the very original and prolific author Elmore Leonard. You can find him on the Fiction, Large Print, Mystery, Short Stories and Western shelves and in the CD and DVD sections.   
Born in New Orleans, Leonard started writing stories for pulp Western magazines in college. The Tonto Woman and Other Western Stories is a collection of his magazine writing. He then served in the Navy, where he was given the nickname Dutch. Leonard went on to write screenplays, cowboy and Native American stories, crime capers and suspense novels and was awarded the Grand Master Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. He once said that one of his writing rules was to “leave out the parts readers tend to skip.”
One of his best known Western screenplays was 3:10 to Yuma, which was made twice into a movie. Monrovia owns the 2007 version with Russell Crowe.  

His crime capers are engaging and humorous. Get Shorty, Freaky Deaky and Rum Punch just pop with colorful characters (cops and bad guys), complex plots that are easy to follow and language that makes readers smile. The main character in Get Shorty is Chili Palmer, a Florida loan shark who follows a deadbeat to Hollywood. The twists and turns simply light up the pages. Riding the Rap, which inspired the television program Justified, is about a modern day marshal and a kidnapping caper gone wrong. One reviewer called Glitz a cat and mouse tale with claws.

 Once you read an Elmore Leonard book, you will inevitably return to the library for another. 

Monday, June 16, 2014


One of contemporary fiction’s rising stars is Liane Moriarty. An Australian who has always loved to read and remembers her father commissioning her to write a novel when she was young, Ms. Moriarty worked in advertising until she could do what she loved best—writing books. Her popularity spread from Down Under to the U.S. and she continually shows up on bestseller lists.  She's a writer who has benefited from recommendations between friends and book groups members who continually sing her praises.  Her titles can be found on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library.
Moriarty’s newest is The Husband’s Secret, an absolutely captivating, cannot put down even though it is 2 AM, book  It's the story of 3 women, their relationships and  secrets. Celia opens a letter from her husband in an envelope stating that it should be opened only in the event of his death. The letter’s bombshell sets off a series of twists and turns. Tess discovers that her adored husband is having an affair with her best friend and picks up and moves, only to meet an old boyfriend. Another friend, Rachel, believes that the old boyfriend is the person who murdered her daughter and was never caught. 

Moriarty came to our attention with her first book Three Wishes. Immediately labeled chick lit, it is the story of triplet sisters, each with different personalities and issues. This title, along with The Hypnotist’s Love Story about a hypnotherapist who is looking for romance, are definite beach books. Her newer novels show how her writing skills have grown.

What if you lost 10 years of your life? That is what happens in What Alice Forgot. Thinking she is 29-years-old and about to give birth to her first child, Alice is shocked to discover that she is 10 years older, has 3 children and is about to be divorced.  Rediscovering those lost years and finding she is not the person she wants to be gives Alice the chance to reclaim and maybe change her life.