Monday, October 31, 2011

Beth recommends: "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman"

Have you ever pondered the answer to this question:  If you were stranded on a desert island for – well, a long time – which five books would you most want with you?  One of mine definitely would be An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, the 1972 detective novel by P.D. James, featuring  Cordelia Gray in a mystery set in and around Oxford, England.  James is best-known for her Adam Dalgliesh series, and those are wonderful books as well, but I draw your attention to this particular title today because I don’t want anyone who loves exceptional British murder mysteries (exceptional because the characters, plotting and writing are all equally superb) to miss this one—39 years old, but still one of the best in the genre, in my opinion.

Cordelia has just inherited a detective agency, and its continued existence may very well depend on this first case that she tackles alone.  Cordelia is highly intelligent, resourceful, wise beyond her years—and she will need all of that to uncover the truth surrounding a mysterious death, and to survive.

I re-read  An Unsuitable Job for a Woman  recently for probably the fifth or sixth  time.  I know the ending perfectly, but I still periodically enjoy the comfort and pleasure of spending a few hours with an old friend.   And I just learned that its 91-year-old creator is giving us a new book next month:  Death Comes to Pemberley.  It does not feature Cordelia Gray, but any new book by P.D. James goes to the top of my holiday wish-list.  My suggestion, however, is that if you have never read a P.D. James novel – start with either  An Unsuitable Job for a Woman  or the first in the Adam Dalgliesh series, Cover Her Face.

Recommended for adults and young adults

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jamie recommends "The Night Circus"

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is good supernatural fiction that doesn’t require a love of vampires.  This story takes place over a long period of time and revolves mainly around illusionist Celia Bowen.  Celia was raised by her father, Prospero the Enchanter, and taught to be a disciplined illusionist.  From an early age she was bound by an enchanted ring to a competition of which she knows very little.  Meanwhile an orphan by the name of Marco is plucked from obscurity by Prospero’s rival, Alexander, to be Celia’s competitor.  The competition takes place within the confines of an enchanted circus that travels the world.  Each illusion Celia and Marco add to the circus only compel more fans to follow and fall in love with the fanciful world of The Night Circus.  This novel starts out a little slow, but about halfway through it really pulls you into its enchanted fantasy world.  And although the construct of the novel is supernatural, the characters are written well as humans who are just a part of an unbelievable world.

Recommended for teens and adults.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lisa recommends "Jim Gill Presents Music Play for Folks of All Stripes"

Let me preface this by saying that I love Jim Gill.  We use a lot of his music in our story times because it is really good active music for 2-5 year olds.  Music Play for Folks of All Stripes is for a little different audience.  While preschoolers will enjoy it, kids in early elementary grades will LOVE it.  Some of the songs have actions and some are just plain silly.  It is one of those good cds to pop in the car (that won’t make parents cringe) while driving the family around.  Also included with this cd is Jim Gill’s first dvd-check out Foot Notes.

Recommended for ages 4-8 or family listening.