Snowy Mysteries

Snowy Mysteries

The snow has finally arrived in Pittsburgh, and there is no better time to cozy up with a winter mystery. If you are looking for something suitably cold, check out one of these winter thrillers. Sure to give you chills!


The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands–the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

The trip begins innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps, just as a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world. Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead. . . and another of them did it.


The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself. 


In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Clare Fergusson, St. Alban’s new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Miller’s Kill, New York. She is not just a “lady,” she’s a tough ex Army chopper pilot, and nobody’s fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town’s police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who’s also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby’s mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Miller’s Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other-and murder…


The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg

Returning to her hometown of Fjallbacka after the funeral of her parents, writer Erica Falck finds a community on the brink of tragedy. The death of her childhood friend, Alex, is just the beginning. Her wrists slashed, her body frozen in an ice-cold bath, it seems that she has taken her own life. Erica conceives a book about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will answer questions about their own shared past. While her interest grows into an obsession, local detective Patrik Hedstrom is following his own suspicions about the case. But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about a small town with a deeply disturbing past.


Hunting Game by Helene Tursten

Embla Nystrom, Detective Inspector in the mobile unit in Gothenburg, Sweden and talented hunter and prize-winning Nordic welterweight, is glad to be taking a vacation from her high-stress job to attend the annual moose hunt with her family and friends. But when Embla arrives in rural Dalsland, she sees an unfamiliar face has joined the group: Peter, enigmatic, attractive, and making their group an unlucky 13. Sure enough, a string of unsettling incidents follow, culminating in the disappearance of two hunters. Embla delves into the dark pasts of her fellow hunters in search of a killer.

 

Book Therapy

Book Therapy

The arrival of a new year can be a time to turn inward and reflect, and the right book can help!  Go on a voyage of self discovery and improvement with the following titles.

10% Happier

Nightline anchor Dan Harris embarks on an unexpected, hilarious, and deeply skeptical odyssey through the strange worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovers a way to get happier that is truly achievable.

We all have a voice in our head. It’s what has us losing our temper unnecessarily, checking our email compulsively, eating when we’re not hungry, and fixating on the past and the future at the expense of the present. Most of us would assume we’re stuck with this voice – that there’s nothing we can do to rein it in – but Harris stumbled upon an effective way to do just that. It’s a far cry from the miracle cures peddled by the self-help swamis he met; instead, it’s something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness.


Atomic Habits

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.


The Body Keeps the Score

Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score , he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring–specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to drugs and talk therapy–and a way to reclaim lives.


Daring Greatly

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable or to dare greatly. Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Brené Brown PhD, MSW, dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage. Brown explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She writes: “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

With startling wisdom and humor, Lori Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is rev­olutionary in its candor, offering a deeply per­sonal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly reveal­ing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.


Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World

Humans are social creatures: In this simple and obvious fact lies both the problem and the solution to the current crisis of loneliness. In his groundbreaking book, the 19th surgeon general of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy makes a case for loneliness as a public health concern: a root cause and contributor to many of the epidemics sweeping the world today from alcohol and drug addiction to violence to depression and anxiety. Loneliness, he argues, is affecting not only our health, but also how our children experience school, how we perform in the workplace, and the sense of division and polarization in our society.

But, at the center of our loneliness is our innate desire to connect. We have evolved to participate in community, to forge lasting bonds with others, to help one another, and to share life experiences. We are, simply, better together.


The Sacred Enneagram 

The Sacred Enneagram is a trustworthy, richly insightful guide to finding yourself in the enneagram’s 9-type profiles, and applying this practical wisdom to transform your life. Far more than a personality test, author Chris Heuertz writes, the enneagram is a sacred map to the soul. The enneagram offers a bright path to cutting through the internal clutter and finding our way back to God and to our true identity as God created us.


Thinking Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation–each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts–from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, impeccably researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

Best of 2021 on DVD at SPL

Best of 2021 on DVD at SPL

It may be a bit early for a “Best of 2021” list since it’s not quite the end of the year, but these movies are getting buzz on “best of” lists popping up on the web. So consider this a “Best Movies of 2021 So Far Available on DVD at SPL in No Particular Order” list. Not quite as catchy, but far more accurate!

The Green Knight

Based on the Arthurian legend, King Arthur’s nephew, Gawain, embarks on a quest to prove his worth to his family and kingdom–by confronting the Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men.

Starring Dev Patel and Alicia Vikander; directed by David Lowery.


In the Heights

In this musical, bodega owner Usnavi saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines, and sings about a better life; meanwhile, his tight-knit community faces the challenge of gentrification, losing their homes while trying to better themselves and hold on to their cultures.

Starring Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, and Leslie Grace; Lin-Manuel Miranda, producer and composer.  Also in Blu-Ray.


Land

A bereaved woman finds herself unable to stay connected to the world she once knew, and retreats to the magnificent, but unforgiving, wilds of the Rockies. After a local hunter brings her back from the brink of death, she must find a way to live again.

Starring Robin Wright (in her directorial debut) and Demián Bichir.


Nobody

An underestimated father and husband–a nobody–becomes a lethal vigilante in the aftermath of a home invasion in order to save his family from a vengeful drug lord.

Starring Bob Odenkirk and Connie Nielsen; directed by David Leitch. 


Pig

A truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregon wilderness must return to his past in Portland in order to search for his beloved, kidnapped foraging pig. Interestingly, a documentary film about truffle hunting, The Truffle Hunters, is also getting buzz as a “Best of 2021.” Who knew it was the year of the truffles?

Starring Nicholas Cage, Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin; directed by Michael Sarnoski.


Riders of Justice

Recently deployed soldier Markus is forced to return home to care for his his teenage daughter following the death of his wife in a tragic railroad accident. But when a survivor of the acident turns up claiming foul play, Markus begins to suspect that his wife was murdered and embarks on a mission of revenge to find those responsible.

Starring Mads Mikkelsen; directed by Anders Thomas Jensen.


Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

In this entry to the Marvel Universe, Shang-Chi must face the past he thought he left behind and confront his father, leader of the dangerous Ten Rings organization. Think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets, well, pretty much any Marvel movie.

Starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina, and Michelle Yeoh. Also in Blu-Ray.


The World to Come

Somewhere along the mid-nineteenth century American East Coast frontier, two neighboring couples battle hardship and isolation, witnessed by a splendid yet testing landscape, challenging them both physically and psychologically.

Starring Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Christopher Abbott, and Casey Affleck.


Coming soon…

Keep your eyes open for The Last Duel, The Card Counter, and Saint Maud.

New Christmas Titles

New Christmas Titles

FICTION

Christmas by the Book / Anne Marie Ryan

Nora and her husband, Simon, have run the beautiful oak-beamed book shop in their small British village for thirty years. But times are tough and the shop is under threat of closure–this Christmas season will really decide their fate. When an elderly man visits the store and buys the one book they’ve never been able to sell, saying it’s the perfect gift for his sick grandson, it gives Nora an idea. She and Simon will send out books to those feeling down this Christmas. Maybe they can’t save their bookstore, but at least they’ll have one final chance to lift people’s spirits through the power of reading.


The Christmas Promise / Richard Paul Evans

On the night of her high school graduation, Richelle Bach’s father gives her and her identical twin sister, Michelle, matching opal necklaces. “These opals look identical,” he tells them, “but the fire inside each is completely unique–just like the two of you.”

Indeed, the two sisters couldn’t be more different, and their paths diverge as they embark on adulthood. Years pass, until–at their father’s behest–they both come home for Christmas. What happens then forever damages their relationship, and Richelle vows never to see or speak to her sister again. In their father’s last days, he asks Richelle to forgive Michelle, a deathbed promise she never fulfills as her twin is killed in an accident. Now, painfully alone and broken, caring for the sickest of children in a hospital PICU, Richelle has one last dream: to be an author.


The Santa Suit / Mary Kay Andrews

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love–but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit–beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?


Santa Cruise / Fern Michaels

At Ridgewood High, Amy, Frankie, Rachael, and Nina formed a deep bond. Now, fifteen years after leaving school behind, they’re back for a reunion, laughing, reminiscing, and chatting how much has changed-and how much hasn’t. Nina, once the star of every school play, moved to Hollywood and landed a recurring role on a sitcom. Amy, fondly known as “the brains of the operation,” is now a Silicon Valley bioengineer. Outgoing and compassionate, Frankie works for a New York publishing house. Rachael, always the most boy-crazy of the crew, married-mostly to please her parents-but is now divorced. All four are strong, successful, and somehow, still looking for the right partner. But Frankie has an idea to help solve that- a singles cruise for the holidays.


Christmas in Peachtree Bluff  / Kristy Woodson Harvey

In the newest installment of New York Times bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey’​s Peachtree Bluff series, three generations of the Murphy women must come together when a hurricane threatens to destroy their hometown–and the holiday season in the process.

 

 

MYSTERY

An Eggnog to Die For / Amy Pershing

Professional foodie Samantha Barnes has a simple Christmas list: a quiet holiday at home with her dog and a handsome harbour master; no embarrassing viral videos; and no finding dead bodies. Unfortunately she’s just stumbled over the lifeless body of the town’s Santa Claus Sam finds herself once again in the role of sleuth. She needs to find out who slayed this Santa – but can she pull off a perfect Christmas feast and nab a killer?

 


Best in Snow / David Rosenfelt

Christmas has come early to the town of Paterson, New Jersey, in the form of a snowstorm that dumps two feet of snow on the ground. Lawyer Andy Carpenter likes snow – white Christmas and all that – but it can cause problems for the walks he takes his dogs on every day. When Andy’s golden retriever, Tara, goes to play in the snow and instead discovers a body, Andy ends up on the phone with the local newspaper editor. The murder victim is Mayor Alex Oliva, who had an infamous relationship with the newspaper. Last year a young reporter published an expose, and Oliva had him fired for libel. Now, the young reporter – and prime suspect – is in need of a lawyer. Andy agrees to take the case, though it’s not looking good this holiday season.


The Twelve Jays of Christmas / Donna Andrews

The cast of Donna Andrews’ New York Times bestselling Meg Langslow mystery series is back for an unforgettable holiday story in The Twelve Jays of Christmas.  This intrigue-filled Christmas mystery takes readers home to Caerphilly to join in Meg’s family’s holiday celebration–including, of course, another baffling mystery.

 

 

ROMANCE

Dear Santa / Debbie Macomber

Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful when she returns home to Wenatchee, Washington, for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” has cheated on her with her best friend, and she feels completely devoid of creativity in her graphic-design job. Not even carolers or Christmas cookies can cheer her up–but Lindy’s mother, Ellen, remembers an old tradition that might lift her daughter’s spirits.


No Ordinary Christmas / Belle Calhoune

Mistletoe, Maine, is buzzing and not just because Christmas is around the corner! Dante West, local cutie-turned-Hollywood hunk, is returning home to make his next movie. Everyone in town is excited . . . except librarian Lucy Marshall. When Dante took off for LA without warning–or even a goodbye–he broke Lucy’s heart. She swore not to spend one more minute thinking about her ex, but Dante makes an offer Lucy’s struggling library can’t refuse: a major donation to film on-site.


Home for a Cowboy Christmas / Donna Grant

Tis the season–for everyone except Emmy Garrett. She’s on the run after witnessing a crime. But when it becomes clear that trouble will continue following her, the US Marshal in charge takes her somewhere no one will think to look-Montana. Not only is Emmy in a new place for her protection, but now, she’s stuck with a handsome cowboy as her bodyguard…and she wants to do more than kiss him under the mistletoe.


Mistletoe Christmas : An Anthology / Eloisa James, Christi Caldwell, Janna MacGregor, Erica Ridley

From four beloved writers–Eloisa James, Christi Caldwell, Janna MacGregor, and Erica Ridley–come four original stories that tell a hilarious tale of a Christmas house party that serves up love and scandal in equal measure!

 

 

Clean Movies for Grown Ups

Looking for a movie with little to no sex or violence? Check out these first-rate PG/PG-13 DVDs from the Sewickley Public Library collection.

Arrival

When mysterious spacecraft touch down around the world, a team–including linguist Louise Banks–is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers. To find them she will take a chance that could threaten her life–and quite possibly humanity.

Starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. 2016. Also in Blu-Ray.


The Art of Racing in the Rain

This heartfelt tale is narrated by a witty and philosophical dog named Enzo. Through his bond with his owner Denny, an aspiring Formula One racecar driver, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition and understands that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life.

Starring Milo Ventimiglia and Amanda Seyfried. 2019.


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

After a jaded magazine writer is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love, and forgiveness. Based on a true story.

Starring Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys. 2019. Also in Blu-Ray.


Becoming Jane

Events from the life of the author Jane Austen inspired this romantic historical drama, which speculates of a romance that may have had a significant impact on her life and work.

Starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy. 2007.


Gifted

Frank Adler is a single man raising a child prodigy, his spirited young niece Mary, in a coastal town in Florida. Frank’s plans for a normal school life for Mary are foiled when the seven-year-old’s mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank’s formidable mother Evelyn, whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary.

Starring Chris Evans and McKenna Grace. 2017.


The Greatest Showman

Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, the musical tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Michelle Williams. 2017. Also in Blu-Ray.


Hidden Figures

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind the launch into orbit of astronaut John Glenn. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe. 2016. Also in Blu-Ray


Knives Out

When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death. A tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie and a fun, modern-day murder mystery where everyone is a suspect.

Starring Daniel Craig and Chris Evans. 2019. Also in Blu-Ray.


Lion

Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of kilometers across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family.

Starring Dev Patel and Rooney Mara. 2016.


Little Women

Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the story of the March sisters–four young women determined to live life on their own terms. Based on the classic novel by Louisa Alcott.

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen. 2019. Also in Blu-Ray.


Mr Holmes

In 1947, an aging Sherlock Holmes returns from a journey to Japan, where, in search of a rare plant with powerful restorative qualities, he has witnessed the devastation of nuclear warfare. Now, in his remote seaside farmhouse, Holmes faces the end of his days, with only the company of his housekeeper and her young son, Roger. Grappling with the diminishing powers of his mind, Holmes comes to rely upon the boy as he revisits the circumstances of the unsolved case that forced him into retirement.

Starring Ian McKellen and Laura Linney. 2015.


The Queen of Katwe

Based on the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.

Starring Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, and Lupita Nyong’o. 2016.


The Second Best Marigold Hotel

As the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has only a single remaining vacancy–posing a rooming predicament for two fresh arrivals–Sonny pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel.

Starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, and Richard Gere. 2015.


 

Fall Cookbooks

Fall Cookbooks

Looking for inspiration? Look no further than these brand new cookbooks.


Once Upon a Chef : Weeknight/Weekend / Jennifer Segal

Jennifer Segal, author of the blog and bestselling cookbook Once Upon a Chef, is known for her foolproof, updated spins on everyday classics. Meticulously tested and crafted with an eye toward both flavor and practicality, Jenn’s recipes hone in on exactly what you feel like making.

Here she devotes whole chapters to fan favorites, from Marvelous Meatballs to Chicken Winners, and Breakfast for Dinner to Family Feasts. Whether you decide on sticky-sweet Barbecued Soy and Ginger Chicken Thighs; an enlightened and healthy-ish take on Turkey, Spinach & Cheese Meatballs; Chorizo-Style Burgers; or Brownie Pudding that comes together in under thirty minutes, Jenn has you covered.


Dinner Then Dessert : Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5, or 7 Ingredients / Sabrina Snyder

“How do you make interesting and tasty meals for every member of the family?”

That question inspired former private chef and mom Sabrina Snyder to post practical, reliable, and taste-tested recipes to the website she created, Dinner Then Dessert. Five years later, her website is one of the biggest food sites in America with millions of monthly views and more than 900,000 followers on social media. Incredibly, Sabrina’s famous Philly Cheese Steak recipe, which she posted the day before the Super Bowl, racked up 45,000 hits within the first five minutes!


Trisha’s Kitchen : Easy Comfort Food for Friends & Family / Trisha Yearwood

Trisha Yearwood’s fans know that she can cook up a comforting, delicious meal that will feed a family! Like her earlier bestsellers, Trisha’s Kitchen will include new family favorites and easy-to-make comfort foods, with stories about her family and what’s really important in life.

The 125 recipes include dishes her beloved mother used to make, plus new recipes like Pasta Pizza Snack Mix and Garth’s Teriyaki Bowl. Every recipe tells a story, whether it’s her grandma’s Million Dollar Cupcakes, or her Camo Cake that she made for her nephew’s birthday.


Maman : The Cookbook : All-day Recipes to Warm Your Heart / Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte

Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte opened Maman to fill a void in their hearts. They wanted to create a warm, cozy place for people to come together and savor a freshly baked madeleine or slice of savory quiche with the comfort and familiarity of being in their own living room. This collection of 100 recipes spans bestselling dishes from their locations in New York City, Montreal, and Toronto–like Banana-Lavender Cornmeal Waffles with Vanilla Mascarpone, Cumin Chickpea Salad, and the Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookies made famous by none other than Oprah.


Life is What You Bake It : Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top / Vallery Lomas

Popular baking personality and lawyer turned baker Vallery Lomas was ecstatic when she learned she won the third season of The Great American Baking Show . However, her win was never seen by the world–Vallery’s season was pulled after just a few episodes when one of the judges became a focal point in a Me Too accusation. Rather than throwing in her whisk and lamenting all of the missed opportunities she hoped to receive (Book deal! Product endorsements! TV show!), she held her head high and hustled–which resulted in her getting press coverage everywhere from CNN to People magazine. Now, Vallery debuts her first baking book. With 100 recipes for everything from Apple Cider Fritters to Lemon-Honey Madeleines and Crawfish Hand Pies to her Grandma’s Million Dollar Cake.

Books on Books

Books on Books

Books about Books!  What could be more fun!  Here’s a sampling of titles — mysteries, fiction, and memoirs — that highlight the all-encompassing world of books.

Lynne @ SPL


Cover ImageThe Last Chance Library – Freya Sampson

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

…”a sweet testament to the power of reading, community, and the library.” — Booklist


Cover ImageThe Reading List – Sara Nisha Adams  

Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.

“Readers will be charmed and touched.” – Publishers Weekly   


Cover ImageMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour BookstoreRobin Sloan

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything–instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store.


Cover ImageBy Its Cover – Donna Leon

One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem–the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn’t exist.


Cover ImageThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michele Richardson

This gem of a historical from Richardson features an indomitable heroine navigating a community steeped in racial intolerance. In 1936, 19-year-old Cussy Mary Carter works for the New Deal–funded Pack Horse Library Project, delivering reading material to the rural people of Kentucky. It’s a way of honoring her dead mother, who loved books, and it almost makes her forget the fact that her skin is blue, a family trait that sets her apart from the white community.


Cover ImageBooked to DieJohn Dunning

Denver cop Cliff Janeway probably knows as much about books as he does about homicide.  His living room resembles an adjunct to the public library.  But when local book scout Bobby Westfall is murdered, Janeway is sure he knows who did it.  His detective talents are as important as his knowledge of books as he follows the twists and turns of this great mystery.  There are only four books in the Cliff Janeway series, but you’re sure to want to read them all.  Great stuff.


Cover ImageTolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical ReadingNina Sankovitch

Grief-stricken by the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a great book every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. In the tradition of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking, the author’s literary-minded memoir is a chronicle of loss, hope, and redemption. Nina turns to reading as therapy and through her journey illuminates the power of books to help us reclaim our lives.  Fascinating.


Cover ImageOne for the Books – Joe Queenan

If you love books and reading, this is the book to check out.  At times, laugh out-loud funny as well as mordantly insightful, Queenan takes on all comers in his defense of reading and books.   He’s never one to shy away from expressing his opinions – whether it’s about libraries, bookstores, authors or that goliath, Middlemarch.  Along the way we learn about his life in books and where those books have led him in life.  I enjoyed it!

New DVD Arrivals

Looking for something fresh to watch? Find new motion picture DVD releases below, paired with “watch-alikes” (similar, older titles from the SPL collection), just in case the new movie is out or you want more like it!


Black Widow

Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Starring Scarlett Johanson. Also available in Blu-ray.

Watch-alikes: Other than pretty much any Marvel movie? Atomic Blonde (2017), Red Sparrow (2018), Kill Bill (2004)


Blithe Spirit

A writer who is struggling to finish his first screenplay inadvertently summons the spirit of his first wife, and finds himself stuck between his two wives and their increasingly over-the-top attempts to outdo one another. Starring Dan Stephens.

Watch-alikes: Beetlejuice (1988), Extra Ordinary (2020), Ghostbusters (1984)


The Boss Baby Family Business

Now adults, Theodore Templeton and his estranged brother take a magical formula that transforms them into babies for 48 hours. Together, they must now go under cover to prevent an evil genius from turning fellow toddlers intro monstrous brats. Starring Alec Baldwin (voice).

Watch-alikes: Besides Boss Baby (2017), try Storks (2016), Onward (2020), The Secret Life of Pets (2016)


Censor

After viewing a strangely disturbing film, a film censor sets out to solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance. Starring Niamh Algar.

Watch-alikes: Relic (2020), Midsommar (2020), Get Out (2017)


Cruella

The story of Estella Miller, an aspiring fashion designer in 1970s London who explores the path that will lead her to become the notorious Cruella de Vil. Starring Emma Stone.

Watch-alikes: Maleficent (2014), Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), 102 Dalmations (2000)


Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

In this sequel, six people unwittingly find themselves locked in another series of escape rooms, slowly uncovering what they have in common to survive, and discovering they’ve all played the game before. Starring Taylor Russell.

Watch-alikes: Besides the original Escape Room (2017), try Ready or Not (2019), Truth or Dare (2018), The Hunt (2020)


F9: The Fast Saga

In the latest installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, Dom and the crew take on an international terrorist who happens to be his estranged brother. Starring Vin Diesel.

Watch-alikes: Besides other movies in the series, try spin-off Hobbs & Shaw (2019), Baby Driver (2017), Faster (2011), Overdrive (2017)


Free Guy

A bank teller, who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, decides to become the hero of his own story, one he rewrites himself. Starring Ryan Reynolds. Also available in Blu-ray.

Watch-alikes: The Lego Movie (2014), Ready Player One (2018), Gamer (2010)


Green Knight

Based on the Arthurian legend, King Arthur’s nephew, Gawain, embarks on a quest to prove his worth to his family and kingdom–by confronting the Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Starring Dev Patel.

Watch-alikes: Dragonslayer (1981), Labyrinth (1986),  Last Knights (2015), A Knight’s Tale (2001)


Space Jam: A New Legacy

An algorithm named Al G Rhythm captures famed basketball player LeBron James and his son Dom. Al G challenges LeBron to a basketball game against Al’s digitized champions. LeBron gets the help of Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes to win the basketball game and get his son back.

Watch-alikes: Besides the original Space Jam (1996), try Detective Pikachu (2019), Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Mary Poppins (1964)


The Vigil

A young man agrees to fulfill the duties of a shomer, the practice of looking after a dead body over the course of one night. However, he soon finds himself opposite a malevolent entity. Starring Dave Davis.

Watch-alikes: The Possession (2012), The Nun (2018), The Lodge (2019)

Cozy Fall Mysteries

Cozy Fall Mysteries

The leaves are turning, and thoughts are on Halloween and Thanksgiving. Settle into this cozy season with one of these delightful mysteries.


Haunted Hibiscus by Laura Childs

It is the week before Halloween and Theodosia Browning, proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop, and her tea sommelier, Drayton, are attending the grand opening of their literary and historical themed haunted house. But during the opening, amid a parade of characters dressed as Edgar Allan Poe, Lady Macbeth, and the Headless Horseman, the Heritage Society patriarch’s grandniece is suddenly tossed from the third-floor window and left to dangle at the end of a rope. Now Theodosia must find a killer on the eve before Halloween.


Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier

As the air turns crisp and the trees blaze red and gold in the tiny town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, a newcomer arrives who seems to suit the Halloween season. Diana Ravenscroft has just opened Solstice, a charming little shop featuring candles, crystals, jewelry, and psychic readings. But after an unnervingly accurate reading by Diana, Lucy starts to get more than a little spooked. . Then there’s the dead body Lucy finds, way up on one of the old logging roads behind her house. The deceased is identified as Malcolm Malebranche, a seemingly harmless magician who worked at children’s birthday parties. When it turns out that Diana knew the murder victim, Ike Stoughton, a prominent local businessman, starts a campaign against Diana, blaming “the witch” for everything from the unseasonal dry spell to his wife’s illness and his pumpkins’ lack of plumpness.


Antiques Ravin’ by Barbara Allan

Small-town Antiqua, known for its quaint Main Street lined with antique shops, had set out to celebrate the gothic poet with food, fun, and rare memorabilia. Instead, the Master of the Macabre’s twisted tales come to life-with deadly results. With a bone-rattling mystery sending an entire community into panic mode, the bodacious Borne gals are determined to decipher the telltale signs of cold-blooded murder, and make sure a stark-ravin’-mad killer strikes “nevermore!” Don’t miss Brandy Borne’s tips on hunting for valuable antiques!


Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke

Hannah has felt as bitter as November in Minnesota since Ross vanished without a trace and left their marriage in limbo. Still, she throws herself into a baking frenzy for the sake of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving-themed treats while endless holiday orders pour into The Cookie Jar. Hannah even introduces a raspberry Danish pastry to the menu, and P.K., her husband’s assistant at KCOW-TV, will be one of the first to sample it. But instead of taking a bite, P.K., who is driving Ross’s car and using his desk at work, is murdered. Was someone plotting against P.K. all along or did Ross dodge a deadly dose of sweet revenge? Hannah will have to quickly sift through a cornucopia of clues and suspects to stop a killer from bringing another murder to the table . . .


Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams

When the going gets tough, Ella Mae LaFaye bakes pies. So when she catches her husband cheating in New York, she heads back home to Havenwood, Georgia, where she can drown her sorrows in fresh fruit filling and flakey crust. But her pies aren’t just delicious. They’re having magical effects on the people who eat them–and the public is hungry for more.

Discovering her hidden talent for enchantment, Ella Mae makes her own wish come true by opening the Charmed Pie Shoppe. But with her old nemesis Loralyn Gaynor making trouble, and her old crush Hugh Dylan making nice, she has more than pie on her plate. and when Loralyn’s fiancé is found dead–killed with Ella Mae’s rolling pin–it’ll take all her sweet magic to clear her name.


A Catered Thanksgiving by Isis Crawford

In this seventh installment of Crawford’s delicious cozy series featuring catering sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons, a Thanksgiving dinner goes awry thanks to a killer who’s hiding a cornucopia of secrets.

September’s New Audiobooks

September’s New Audiobooks

Apples Never Fall / Liane Moriarty
Read by Caroline Lee

From Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers , comes Apples Never Fall , an audiobook that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.

The Delaney family love one another dearly — it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . .


The Turnout / Megan Abbott
Read by Cassandra Campbell

With their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, Dara and Marie Durant have been dancers since they can remember. Growing up, they were homeschooled and trained by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents’ death in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters began running the school together, along with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prized student.


We are the Brennans / Tracey Lange
Read by Barrie Kreinik

When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all–and her high school sweetheart–five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.


Complications / by Danielle Steel
Narrated by Alexander Cendese

Known for its luxurious accommodations and bespoke service, the Hotel Louis XVI has been the most lauded boutique hotel in all of Paris for decades, attracting an international clientele of the rich and famous. Now, after four years of renovations and the death of its legendary and beloved manager, it is set to reopen its doors at last. An esteemed group of loyal returning guests is set to descend upon the hotel, joined by a number of new faces who have managed to secure coveted bookings in the wake of last-minute cancellations.


Harlem Shuffle / Colson Whitehead
Read by Dion Graham

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.


Not a Happy Family / Shari Lapena
Read by Ellen Archer

Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there, and Fred and Sheila Merton certainly are rich. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered after a fraught Easter dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated. Or are they?