Monday, October 25, 2010

Collaborations

There is one name on the cover, but two people write the books! Why is it that some writing teams use both names (Barry and Pearson, Preston and Child, LaHaye and Jenkins, etc.) but others prefer to use a pseudonym which makes the author appear to be another person? To create an air of mystery, perhaps? Whatever the reasons, here are some worthwhile mysteries in the “one name on the cover” category.
Wife/Husband collaborations:
Robin Paige (Susan and Bill Albert) For this series set in Victorian England the authors conducted painstaking research to bring historical accuracy to their novels. Susan Albert, who writes three other mystery series, explained that she and Bill decided to end this series in 2006 because the research just took too much time. The first title is Death at Bishop’s Keep (1994) followed by eleven others through 2006.

Barbara Allan (Barbara and Max Allan Collins): humorous Trash ‘n’ Treasures series, starting with Antiques Roadkill (2006)

Parent/Son or Daughter collaborations:
Charles Todd (Carolyn and David Todd Watjen): two series set in post WWI Britain (Ian Rutledge, A Test of Wills; Bess Crawford, A Duty to the Dead)

P J Tracy (Patricia and Traci Lambrecht): a series about a game software company owner starting with Monkeewrench (2003)

And, of course, cousins:
Ellery Queen (Manford Lepofsky and Daniel Nathan aka Manfred B Lee and Frederic Dannay)
Ellery Queen (both the pseudonym of the authors and the name of the character created by them) was patterned after S S Van Dine’s character Philo Vance. Over the next 41 years the character evolved and the writing went through stylistic changes. The name of Ellery Queen is still synonymous with the mystery genre but is, according to Max Allan Collins, the least read of the major names in the field today.

Maryellen @ Warrenton

Monday, October 18, 2010

'Tis a Gift to be Simple

"Tis a Gift to be Simple" -- As the lyrics of this old Shaker hymn tell us, simplicity is a good thing. While the economic downturn has forced many of us to downsize in various ways, it has also given emphasis to the movement that promotes voluntary simplicity.

A collection of essays explaining the whys and hows of this movement can be found in a book appropriately titled Less Is More by Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska. Many of the contributors to Less Is More have written extensively about the need to live simpler lives and how this can be accomplished by individuals, communities and nations.

Juliet Schor explains “why we want what we don’t need” in The Overspent American. In Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic John DeGraaf and David Wann explain all the problems brought about by modern society’s quest for material gain. They discuss strategies and movements, including "voluntary simplicity," that can help us realize that “the best things in life aren’t things.”
Theodore Roszak tells us that teaching the world to live simply is the task of the aging boomer generation in America the Wise. Suggestions for downsizing one’s living space are offered by Sarah Susanka in The Not So Big House. Robyn Griggs Lawrence explains the need to re-use, recycle and appreciate the beauty in items that are not new in The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty.

For many years, Bill McKibben has been an advocate of scaling back and learning to live more simply. In The End of Nature he points out the damage being done to the planet by our too-complex way of life. He offers specific examples of changes that lead to recovery and renewal in Hope, Human and Wild. His latest book, Eaarth, describes the damage to our climate and environment that will have lasting effects. He offers not only a new name for this changed planet, “Eaarth”, but also thoughts about the lifestyle changes necessary to survive well on it.
Enjoy one or all of these thought-provoking books. Here’s to the simple life!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall is Planting Time

Fall planting time is here and maybe you’re looking forward to sprucing things up a bit around your house. For the really hard stuff you may need to find professional help, but there are many landscaping decisions and tasks you can undertake and enjoy doing yourself.

The Homeowner’s Complete Tree And Shrub Handbook by Penelope O’Sullivan is a good first resource to help you figure out what is already growing in your yard. If you need help coming up with designs and deciding what to plant you can build your confidence and draw inspiration from Joel Lerner’s Anyone Can Landscape!

Fall is a good time to do something about those bare patches that started showing up in the lawn during the dry spell we had in August. If you need help figuring out what kind of grass seed is best and don’t want to use a lot of pesticides and fertilizers check out Paul Tukey’s The Organic Lawn Care Manual. Or maybe you’ve decided grass just isn’t the right thing for those persistent bare spots and you want to try something else. If that’s the case then take a look through Barbara W. Ellis’ Covering Ground for a glimpse of the many different kinds of plants that might fit the bill.

Why did the flowering cherry you planted last spring near the old walnut tree fail to thrive even though you watered it every day? Can it be saved? Should you feed it or move it? A look through The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations might reveal the problem and help you decide what to do next. If you want to use hardy native plants in your landscape you should read Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens by A. M. Armitage or The American Meadow Garden by John Greenlee.

If flowering plants are your passion and you want something blooming in your landscape all year round you should consult Trees and Shrubs for Fragrance by Glyn Church and look through P. Allen Smith’s Colors for the Garden. Don’t forget that pine trees and fir trees also make appealing and fragrant additions to the home landscape. Richard L. Bitner’s Conifers for Gardens describes many varieties that will thrive in our climate.

Come by any Fauquier County Public Library and let us help you create a home landscape you’ll enjoy for many years to come.

Happy fall planting!

Jeanne @ Warreton

Monday, October 4, 2010

Warm up to a Hippo

Not to play up the librarian stereotype, but I never read or was interested in mysteries until I returned to librarianship and started working for Fauquier County Public Library.

Well, stereotype or not, I'm hooked. With mysteries, what I usually do is find an author I like (and prefer foreign vs. domestic settings) and then read everything they've put out -- Donna Leon (especially appreciate the descriptions of Venice and food), Elizabeth George (gotta love Sargeant Havers' spunk) and Deborah Crombie (the English settings and personable characters go well with a cup of tea) are a few of my favorites.

For the past year or so, I've been exploring chilly Scandinavian crime novels, specifically Henning Mankell (I seem to gravitate to crabby protagonists), Karin Fosum (the best -- can't put them down!) and the like.

But what about Stieg Larrson's Millennium Trilogy? Can I admit that I just don't get what all the fuss is about? While I read books 1 and 2, I couldn't bother to finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. While I normally will finish a book, even if I don't like it much, I knew I better get the latest Larrson back into circulation (will this book ever drop off the holds list?) and get out of the cold, try something new.

Which brings me to Michael Stanley and his (or should I say "their," as it's actually two South African authors) Detective Kubu Mystery Series. Enough of the unforgiving cold and bleakness of Sweden, take me to the warm climes of Botswana and the amiable Assistant Superintendent David ('Kubu,' a nickname that means "hippopotamus") Bengu.

So far there are two books in the series, A Carrion Death and The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu. Like my favorite Nordic reads, these are procedural in nature. While both titles provide the classic elements of mystery and intrigue, what really sets them apart are the engaging characters, particularly meal-obsessed Kubu and his beloved wife Joy, and the post-colonial African setting. I always enjoy reading about the culture and politics (the good and the bad) of distant lands, and after reading these two titles, I'm left wanting to read/learn more about/visit contemporary southern Africa.

If you're tired of hearing about Stieg Larrson and have had your fill of the usual mystery procedurals, I encourage you to give detective Kubu a try.

Alison @ Warrenton