Thursday, November 27, 2014


Named after Edgar Allen Poe, the Edgar is the top mystery writing prize. American author Tana French won the Edgar for Best First Novel with her 2007 book In the Woods. Now a bestselling and critically admired author, she led an interesting path to becoming a mystery writer. As a child Ms. French traveled throughout the world with her economist father and she later studied acting in Ireland, eventually settling in Dublin. Her books are especially known for their rich explorations of characters. The following French titles are on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library.

In the Woods is the story of a child murdered in the woods near Dublin. The investigating officer from the police the Murder Squad has kept secret an event that happened when he was a child and is similar to the current murder. Years earlier he was found fearfully clinging to a tree, his shoes filled with blood and his friends missing. The current crime is similar and the officer is trying to solve both murders. This police procedural is full of atmosphere.

French’s most recent novel is the 2014 The Secret Place, named after a bulletin board in a girls’ boarding school where gossipy notes are placed. An anonymous message says that the note writer knows who killed a teenage boy who was found on the grounds of the school a year ago. The mystery progresses as each character is assessed as a potential witness or criminal. The details of the case are page-turning.

The Faithful Place and The Broken Harbor are both available only in CD and MP3 format. They continue the work of the Dublin Murder Squad as it pursues criminals, following leads that twist and turn. The psychology of both the detectives and those investigated are examined in these acclaimed mysteries.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Novel T's, the book club which meets in the Library once a month, just held its end-of-year potluck. From the looks of the feast, we should all be so lucky. Just a reminder that anyone is welcome to join the Novel T's. Just show up at a meeting, introduce yourself, and check it out. There is no meeting in December (holidays and all that), but things start up again in January with a discussion of Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. February's selection is Smokescreen by Dick Francis.

Meetings are held the 4th Tuesday
of the month from 
6:30 - 7:45 p.m. in the Library Community Room.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Have you noticed all the new travel books on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library? Despite the usefulness of Travel Advisor, Expedia and even Wikipedia on the Internet, nothing replaces the variety of travel books that can inspire and guide our trips. So let’s jump in and take a look at some of the recent travel books on Italy, a country whose culture, history and beauty always calls to us. Tried-and-true travel books include the Fodor’s and Eyewitness series. 

Fodor’s Italy is a succinct and easy-to -use overview of the country and keys in on individual regions and cities. The accompanying map is always a plus. Eyewitness Italy is jam-packed with travel advice and has terrific color photographs, but truly excels at highlighting and recommending sightseeing and cultural experiences.
101 Places in Italy: A Private Grand Tour by Francis Russell takes travelers off the beaten path. Oh, the great cities are here, but it is the smaller villages and lesser-known spots that make this travel book special. One virtue of this book is that it is one to just sit and read. 

And, speaking of just sitting and reading, sometimes it is a fiction book that leads us to travel. The Italian Wife by Ann Hood is a multi-generational family saga that begins in Italy as the story of an Italian teenager whose arranged marriage leads her to America. Soak up the Italian ambiance that begins the story.

Ever think of not just being a traveler, but relocating to a new country? Living and Working in Italy: A Survival Handbook by Robbi Forrester-Atligan is truly a how-to book that delves into the essentials: visa paperwork, finding a job and a place to live, transportation and shopping.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


There is an old cliché that says that people are more afraid of public speaking than of death. Well, this may be an overstatement, but giving a speech, making a sales pitch or answering questions at a job interview can cause anxiety. Let’s go to the experts on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library for some new books on oral presentation skills.
TED, which stands for technology, education and design, is a non-profit organization that promotes “ideas worth spreading.” Its TED talks by authorities on many topics are famous for their informative content and great presentation. Author Carmine Gallo has written Talk Like TED: The Nine Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, which is meant to teach those skills to anybody who needs to deliver a speech.

Ditch the Pitch by Steve Yastro is all about improvisation. Teaching people not to be nervous, the book shares the idea that speakers should enter a situation and have a conversation, rather than recite a script.  The author’s method is described in step-by-step habits that he encourages speakers to develop.

Challenging people to discard everything they thought was right about communicating, The Presentation Lab by Simon Morton takes a look at what truly makes a presentation effective.
Veteran business reporter Bill McGowan wrote Pitch Perfect to help speakers concentrate on the art of persuasion and how to make sure a spoken message is not only to-the-point, but that it gets made at the right time to right people.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


One part of history that continues to draw us into its web is the story of Russia’s last royal family. There are several books on this topic at the Monrovia Public Library and they will fascinate readers.

Almost 50 years ago Robert Massie wrote Nicholas and Alexandra, a bestselling epic chronicling how Russia’s last emperor and empress naively encouraged their own demise at the same time the 1917 Revolution was seeking to overthrow the monarchy. This magnificent work, which reads like a novel, brings to life both historical events and the personalities involved. Inspired by his own son’s hemophilia, Massie highlights how the illness of the royal family’s youngest child Alexei affected history. A few years later Massie employed new archival and scientific research to write The Romanovs: The Final Chapter.

The Last Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky describes the life and death of Nicholas II, who was executed along with his wife, daughters and son. This book is jam-packed with vintage photographs that tell the story of how the Tsar, Tsarina and their children lived. Their sumptuous life, where even the horse blankets were woven with jewels, is brought to life through pictures. Another book that describes and illustrates the extreme opulence of the times is The Court of the Last Tsar by Greg King.

Proving that interest in the last royal family has not flagged is a new bestselling book called The Romanov Sisters. Author Helen Rappaport treats Tatiana, Maria, Olga and Anastasia not just a group of daughters, but as individuals. Well-reviewed, the book is noted for its gossipy and absorbing text.

And, what is a story without a villain? The monk Rasputin, who transfixed the Tsarina Alexandra with his false claims that he could cure her son, is detailed in Rasputin by Brian Moynahan.