OK — I LOVE this series but some of the more recent ones of the series have been just so-so. As with all of them in the Lady Julia Grey series, Raybourn pairs Grey with her now-husband, private investigator Nicholas Brisbane, who is trying his best to control Julia’s wild and un-ladylike impulses. In this book, Brisbane and Julia find themselves embroiled in a murder inquiry where psychics and séances are par for the course. Naturally, their lives are in perpetual danger as they do their investigating, but that never slows them down much. Since they are now married, the sexual tension has been replaced by a type of fun, bickering tension…Brisbane is always worried about Julia…Julia is always upset he does not include her in his investigating. Yes, it sounds a little tedious, but somehow Raybourn makes it work. The first one in this series, Silent in the Grave, is still the best, but this one is a close second! I’m glad Raybourn is back in top form!

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This is my first novel from Chicago-area novelist Laura Caldwell and I loved it.  It’s fun and light, but it has enough oomph to surpass romances and other lighter chick lit fair.  Caldwell’s writing style is easy going and breezy, just like the story here, which revolves around three friends who have been pals for years but are going through a “seven-year itch” in their friendship. The storyteller of the book, Casey, has been in a relationship for a while and that has changed the friendships she has. So, all three friends decide to take a trip to Italy and Greece to have fun and re-bond, but things begin to go awry quite quickly.  So, basically, you have the best of both worlds here…travel and light romance.  It’s fun and entertaining, while never being too fluffy.  Another author for me to savor! 

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A new London crime detective takes to the big city streets with a vengeance.  There is a little political intrigue mixed up with the murders John Carlyle is investigating…the case involves a former Cambridge University club filled with future politicos who are being killed off one by one years later. Carlyle is a believable London inspector who fights crime with a passion, though the writing could be a little better and the book does have its fair share of cliches.  Not the best British mystery (by a long shot) but far from the worst.  Definitely something for British mystery lovers to try. 

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Set in 1920 London, this mystery intertwines the horrors of World War I in a web of war survivors, murders, romance, social customs and history. Recovering from the trauma of both serving in the war and losing a wife and child, Laurence Bartram receives news of the suicide death of a classmate, Captain John Emmett. Feeling compassion for the family, Laurence comes to the aid of his sister to discover the why of the suicide and bequests to unknown individuals in his will. Laurence falls hopelessly in love with the sister, Mary. The investigation becomes one of can’t stop reading intrigue when it is discovered that Captain Emmett was a member of a firing squad for the execution of a British sergeant for desertion during the war.
Aiding Laurence in this investigation is good friend Charles. Charles knows everything and everyone and he steals every scene where he is placed and provides many light moments amid the darkness. The author does not spare the reader from the sad awfulness of World War I. This war destroyed a generation with over 1.6 million British men wounded, 662,000 men killed and 140,000 men reported missing in action. The novel’s core focuses on the psychological trauma of the survivors, shell shock, and vividly awakens the reader to current copings with the post traumatic stress disorder of contemporary military veterans.
This mystery has a lot to offer. While discovering the history of post World War I Britain, the reader can savor the puzzle of who, what and why.

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Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is a fantastic book about love, friendship and prejudice at any time in life, within any social status, anywhere in the world.  The character of Major Ernest Pettigrew is pretty much the stereotypical older English gentleman.  He’s classy, he’s respectful, he’s neat and tidy, he’s quiet and he’s not one to ever make a scene.  Enter Mrs. Jasmina Ali and her Pakistani background and ways and the Major finds his proper, sedate life turned upside down.  Right from the start, there is some chemistry between Mrs. Ali and the Major but because of both cultural and class prejudices (from the townspeople, from the Major’s son Roger and even from the Major himself), Mrs. Ali leaves the town, and the Major, behind.  What the Major does next leads to one of the best “adult” endings in fiction ever.  Very little in this book is trite or clichéd.  An excellent, mature read for all…not only for those in the twilight of their lives. 
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Join our winter reading club now through January 31, 2012!

Earn a prize after reading 4 books and qualify to enter the grand prize drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire!

There are two ways to sign up and log your books:

1) Log your books online here.  Then, review and rate the books you’ve read.

2) Pick up a book log at the Fiction or Reference service desks. Once completed, return your log and pick up a prize at the Fiction or Reference desks.

Going on vacation?
Record your books wherever you go with online access.

Call 847-663-6613 or email books@nileslibrary.org with any questions.

* The Grand prize winner must be 12-18 years old and have a Niles Library card in good standing.

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Once again, Isabel Wolff and her chick lit do not disappoint.  Yes, it’s light.  Yes, it’s predictable.  But, it’s fun.  And Wolff is a strong author who can create strong characters and semi-believable tales.  This one finds the main character Ella Graham as a popular portrait painter in London’s inner circles.  Her newly-engaged sister commissions a portrait of her fiancé and Ella encounters problems when she finds herself attractive to the fiancé.  Other fascinating storylines stem from the different clients Ella is assigned to paint, but the main focus is Ella’s woes with her sister’s fiancé.  Wolff combines just the right combination of wispy prose with heartfelt stories and quality writing for this to be a perfect weekend read! 
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Featuring three Brown University seniors in 1982, The Marriage Plot captures the coming of age, apprehension and indecisiveness of timeless college graduates.  Eugenides, a Princeton professor and Brown graduate, writes with knowledgeable authority about the college setting.  Mitchell Grammaticus loves Madeleine Hanna and Madeleine Hanna loves Leonard Bankhead, rather unique names in an all too familiar college love triangle.  Madeleine is writing her senior thesis on Victorian novels and has been rejected by Yale graduate school, Mitchell is a religious studies major who plans a graduation trip to India, and Leonard has accepted a biology research fellowship on Cape Cod. As these three seniors make decisions concerning their future it seems that all three are struggling in their own way to find goodness and do the right thing. Madeleine falls in the female trap of confusing love with a need to save and mother a man. Mitchell confuses love with destiny,  and Leonard rejects love under the paralysis of manic depression.  Quite realistic in the characterization of the three students, their parents, and friends, the novel changes between the voices of the three students as the novel progresses. There is an art to capturing the right texture and rhythm of dialogue and Eugenides excels.  His affection for the characters is evident and he interjects humor throughout the novel to lighten the serious moments.
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Written in lush and lyrical language complimenting the North Carolina forest setting, the novel is a thriller, romance, and character study. Luce is a spunky loner who has abandoned social interactions and lives as a caretaker for an abandoned summer lodge miles from town. Her solitary existence is drastically interrupted as a social worker delivers the children of her murdered sister. The children are mute and unresponsive. Without any experience in the care of children, she must be their protector and savior. Meanwhile the father is lurking in the background freed from the murder of his wife and trying to find hidden sums of money. If Luce is the heroine, Bud the father, is the villain of the narrative. In capturing the mind, motivations and self-pitying justifications of this psychopath, Frazier’s words glow.  Luce cares for the children, a stranger visits and a romance begins. As the action advances, Bud, the children, and Luce become entwined in fearful suspense. Providing the welcome escape that readers crave, Frazier journeys to another time and place. Lovers of Cold Mountain will not be disappointed with Nightwoods.

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