Thursday, January 24, 2013


I recently started reading J.K. Rowling's newest book, The Casual Vacancy, and I thought it would be fun to recap her previous works since this new one is a departure from Harry Potter.

Joanne Kathleen Rowling is the author of the Harry Potter series and has won numerous awards and honorary degrees for her work in children's literature such as the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, France’s L├ęgion d’Honneur, and the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.  Rowling supports a large number of causes through her trust, and she is the founder of Lumos, a charity that works to improve the lives of disadvantaged children.  J.K. Rowling wrote two books that appear as titles in the Harry Potter novels (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them & Quidditch Through the Ages) in aid of Comic Relief; she also wrote The Tales of Beedle the Bard to aid the Children's High Level Group which is now Lumos.

For more information check out her webpage at

Interested in following Harry Potter from the beginning?  Here is the list of books in order:

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The success of the Harry Potter series has lead to film adaptations, a theme park (, and a Harry Potter website (

All seven books were made into films with the seventh book becoming two movies.  Click on the titles below to see if they are available at the library:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Part 1
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Part 2

The Casual Vacancy was released in 2012.  It is Rowling's first novel written for adults.  It is a novel set in the small town of Pagford.  When Barry Fairweather unexpectedly dies, the town is left in shock.  The town is at war with itself, and the empty seat left by Barry on the town council is up for grabs.  Who will win in an election that is full of passion, duplicity, and unexpected discoveries?

Read it for yourself and find out. 

Monday, January 21, 2013


The next book we will be reading for our book club is Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese.  We will meet to discuss the book on February 19th at 10:30am.

If you've already finished reading the book, or if you've read it before and want more, take a look at some of these similar books:

My Own Country by Abraham Verghese is a work of nonfiction in which a doctor describes a town's introduction to the AIDS virus.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: A tale of fathers and sons, friendship and betrayal.  It is a story of the price of betrayal and the possibility of redemption.  It is also about the power of fathers over their sons.

Chang & Eng by Darin Strauss is a story that combines fictions with fact to tell the story of history's most famous twins.

Long For This World by Michael Byers follows Dr. Henry Moss as he seeks a cure for a children's disease called Hickman which causes children to age rapidly and die before their teens.  Along the way, he is consulted by a family whose son has Hickman.  The boy's older brother alos tests positive for the disease but does not show any symptoms.  The discovery is a potential goldmine in which Dr. Moss must face personal and medical ethics.

The Cider House Rules by John Irving: The story of Dr. Wilbur Larch and his favorite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult tells the story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a love that overcomes human weakness.

Monday, January 14, 2013


What better way to enjoy the warmth of the indoors than to read a gothic novel?

Gothic novels combine elements of horror and romance and often contain melodramatic plotlines. The birth of gothic novels is often attributed to The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, written in 1764. The era of gothic novels only lasted until about 1820; however, you can still find great gothic novels written today.

The main attributes that make up gothic novels consist of a castle setting, a mysterious and suspenseful atmosphere, a prophecy, omens and visions, supernatural or inexplicable events, high emotions, a woman in distress, a powerful and tyrannical man, and/or the prevalence of gloom and horror. While not all of these elements must be present for a book to be considered a gothic novel, more than one must be prevalent throughout the story.

There is a lot of fear, terror, surprise, and darkness in these books which makes for fun reads on gloomy winter days: perfect for sitting next to a warm fire or curling up in your favorite chair to get lost in the sensationalism of the story.

Looking for some suggestions?  Check out the books below.

Newer Titles:

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Ghost Writer by John Harwood
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin
Gad's Hall by Norah Lofts

Classic Gothic Tales:

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories of the Supernatural by Robert Louis Stevenson
Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

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Monday, January 7, 2013


I recently finished reading the third book in the Heroes of Olympus series: The Mark of Athena.  And, all I can really say is that I love Rick Riordan's stories!  I love all of the action, adventure, and humor that he uses as well as the mythology.

Before becoming a full time writer, Rick Riordan was a teacher in Texas and California.  While teaching, Riordan often taught mythology to his classes.  He has written three different series involving mythology: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus.  Percy Jackson and the Olympians uses Greek mythology, the Kane Chronicles utilizes Egyptian mythology, and the Heroes of Olympus combines both Greek and Roman mythology.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
1. The Lightning Thief
2. The Sea of Monsters
3. The Titan's Curse
4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
5. The Last Olympian

Kane Chronicles:
1. The Red Pyramid
2. The Throne of Fire
3. The Serpent's Shadow

Heroes of Olympus:
1. The Lost Hero
2. The Son of Neptune
3. The Mark of Athena

Want more?  Check out these other titles:

The Nixie's Song by Tony DiTerlizzi: Nicholas Vargas thinks his life has greatly changed after his father remarries and moves his new wife and daughter into the Mangrove Hollow.  However, a trip to the lake turns up a nixie with a big problem, the fire-breathing type of problem.  It is up to Nick, his stepsister, and his older brother to find a way to stop a group of giants before all of Florida is burnt down.

The Flame of Olympus by Kate O'Hearn follows thirteen-year-old Emily.  After saving Olympus from destruction, she is reborn as the Flame, and when the Nirads begin a new invasion, Emily and her friends become involved in the conflict.

Iris, Messenger by Sarah Deming: After discovering that the immortals of Greek mythology reside in her hometown, Iris learns their stories and gains wisdom, beauty, and new knowledge regarding her past.

In The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer, Jack becomes apprenticed to a Bruid bard.  After gaining his apprenticeship, Jack and his sister Lucy are captured by Viking Berserkers.  Jack must undertake a quest to the home of the trolls in order to survive.

Theodosia and the Serpents by R.L. La Fevers: Theodosia uses her knowledge and talent when she discoveres two secret societies: one sworn to protect the world from ancient Egyptian magic and one planning to bring the world to chaos through the use of the magic.  Both societies need an artifact from the London museum in which her parents work.

Picture from