Many of you know Steve Martin as a comedian and as an actor, but he is also a best-selling author of both children’s books and adult fiction.  His newest offering is a fictionalized glimpse into the New York art world, An Object of Beauty.

An avid art collector himself, Martin traces the rise and eventual fall of a young woman, Lacey Yeager, whose ambition and drive to be at the pinnicle of the art world knows no boundaries.  Her tale begins when, right out of college, she accepts a position with Sotheby’s auction house.  Her position is at the bottom of art world ladder (her office is literally in the basement) but she quickly learns what, and more importantly, who you need to know – but it comes at a high price.

Lacey’s eventual fall from grace is explained in full detail at the end of the book (after the author only gives the reader bits and pieces throughout) and her final eviction from the art world is swift and severe – which make for a compelling and fascinating look into the world of million dollar artwork.

The author includes color photographs of many of the works of art mentioned in the book – it is a nice touch!

With the popularity of eBook readers this season (just judging from the influx of commercials alone), I imagine many of our library patrons have received them as holiday gifts!  Davenport Public Library has two different resources that provide free eBooks and eAudiobooks for our patrons, NetLibrary and Wilbor. To get started, visit our homepage. On the left hand margin, click on “Download eAudiobooks, eBooks and Music,” which will link you to our resources.

To access Wilbor, you will need to have your library card number handy. After you install their software you can download your favorite books by your favorite authors and transfer your selection to your mobile device.

NetLibrary requires a visit to your nearest Davenport Public Library location to sign up for a free account. After you sign up, you are able to log on from home to download and transfer eBooks.

Each website lists compatible devices in an easy to read list.

Contact the Reference Department with any questions!

So much has been written about Anne Frank and her two years hidden in the Secret Annex during World War II, but little has been written about the woman who hid the family, Miep Gies.  Anne Frank Remembered, by Miep Gies and Alison Leslie Gold, tells the story of the woman who not only helped the family to survive in hiding, but was also the person who discovered Anne’s diary after the family was arrested.

The book begins with Miep’s own desperate childhood in Vienna during World War I and how she was sent to the Netherlands with many other Viennesse children in order to live with families who could temporarily take care of them.  Years later, Miep decides to stay in Amsterdam after accepting a secretarial job with a company who produced kits so women could make jellies and jams from the comfort of their home – her new boss was a man named Otto Frank.  Her recollections of meeting his family, especially Anne, are charming and the long friendship she shared with the Frank family is vividly recalled.

The book follows the progression of World War II and the eventual occupation of the Netherlands.  Even though this story is one that has been written about frequently, Miep’s first hand account of the lives of the Frank’s and their friends is an invaluable historical story.  The co-author, Alison Leslie Gold, wanted to capture Ms. Gies and her husband’s own thoughts and remembrances – the first edition of the book was published when Ms. Gies was nearly 80 years old.  She died this past January at the age of 100.

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, begins a new series, The Cousin’s War, in which each book focuses on an important woman who had a pivital role in England’s War of the Roses.

The White Queen tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, a recent widow with young children, who catches the eye of the young Kind Edward IV.  Elizabeth then marries him in a secret ceremony and becomes queen.  Soon thereafter, the King leaves to fight a battle against his brother, in which the winner will be declared the rightful King of England.

Years later, Elizabeth is caught in the middle of the long standing war and makes drastic decisions as a mother and as a queen.  Her most difficult decision concerned her two sons whose fate as the “princes in the tower,” has baffled historians for centuries.  Philippa Gregory’s book seamlessly weaves historical fact with a fictional but personable account of medieval life in the first person. This fascinating book portrays the epic battles for power, treason, humanity and the dynamics of a royal family.

The Davenport Public Library has a great resource available for the do it yourself weekend project – and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home!  The Home Improvement Reference Center database is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.  A few of the options that are available:

*The ability to search by home improvement topic is simple (decorating, electrical, outdoor projects, plumbing, and woodworking, as a few examples) and also allows you read the full magazine articles, allowing you complete a project from start to finish.

*For inspirational ideas click on the “Project Spotlight.”

*Tips are included for working with contractors successfully.

*The Home Improvement Reference Center offers a full video library with helpful explanations.

To access this database and a number of others go to www.davenportlibrary.com and follow the links on the left hand side of the page to “Do Research Online!”

Meet the Walker family – a large California family whose trials and tribulates make for a superb television drama on Brothers and Sisters. The award winning cast includes Sally Field, Calista Flockhart and Rob Lowe as well as a handful of other well known actors. The series is funny, serious and heartbreaking all at the same time and is combined with smart and sophisticated writing. The fifth season of series will begin on television at the end of September and if you haven’t caught the series yet, it is a great time to check out Seasons One, Two, Three and Four, which are available on DVD and get to know the Walker family.

The family, which is made up of five vastly different siblings, own a fruit and vegetable company that was started by their father.  The series opening scene starts out with a large birthday celebration that ends tragically with the death of William Walker, the patriarch of the family.  This event sets forth a chain of events that serves as the setting for the entire series, including: their father’s secret life, a new sibling and the threat of losing the family business.  Many twists and turns throughout the series will make you believe you are part of the family!

If you have already read Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) and want to try a different type of Swedish crime fiction, I would highly recommend Camilla Läckberg’s first novel, The Ice Princess, set in the picturesque town of Fjällbacka, Sweden.

The Ice Princess centers around writer Erica Falck who returns to her hometown after the death of her parents in a car accident.  Shortly after she arrives from Stockholm she happens to discover her childhood friend, Alexandra, who has died of an apparent suicide.  Grieving for their daughter, Alexandra’s parents ask Erica to write an article about Alexandra for the local paper.  While researching Alexandra’s death Erica runs into an old friend, Patrick, who is a police officer in town.  The two discover many secrets about Fjällbacka’s most prominent family whose past is intertwined with the death of Alexandra and eventually learn that her death may not have been at her own hand.

I’ve also included a beautiful photo of Fjällbacka, Sweden which happens to be the hometown of a friend.  She snapped this photograph over the summer (which was taken late in the evening).  Since Läckberg is also a native of this fishing village, she uses authentic street names, landmarks, and other notable and unique features of the village, including Ingrid Bergman Square, named for the Swedish actress who spent a good amount of time in Fjällbacka.

The latest book by Emily Giffin, Heart of the Matter, delves into the dynamics of what can happen with a chance encounter and how seemingly small things can completely change lives.

Stay at home mom Tessa Russo’s days are spent with her two young children while her husband, Nick, a world renowned pediatric plastic surgeon, works long hours which keeps him away from his family much of the time.  While celebrating their anniversary at a five-star restaurant, Nick receives a call that will completely alter their future as a couple.  A five year old boy, Charlie Anderson, has been burned on his hands and face at a birthday party and Nick has been called to the hospital to treat him.

In the days and weeks to follow, Nick develops a strong bond with Charlie’s single mother, Valerie, and with the boy.  With the days, nights and weekends in which they spend together watching over him through surgeries and rehabilitation, their relationship slowly turns romantic.  Nick’s wife Tessa eventually learns of the affair after his admission that he has just ended his relationship with Valerie.  Tessa’s decision about her future is not easy or simple, and Giffin’s characters have true depth and thoughfulness in the decisions which they make.

Each chapter of Heart of the Matter alternates between Tessa’s and Valerie’s voices and this technique makes each of the two women multi-layered, complex and real. Giffin has a talent for creating empathetic female characters which the reader truly cares about.  Heart of the Matter is Giffin’s fifth book and each of her previous novels conquer similar themes – women at a juxtaposition in their lives as well as the complex choices which go with them.

The final installment of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, was released at the beginning of the summer to rave reviews along with a bit of sadness that this is the final book in the series due to Larsson’s death in 2004, shortly before this book was published.

The book begins immediately after the epic battle from the last pages of the previous book, The Girl Who Played with Fire, which leaves Lisbeth Salander recovering from her injuries hospitalized in critical condition.  Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has been teaming up with Salander throughout the series, is working tirelessly on her behalf and is determined to get to the bottom of the intricate web of corruption within the Swedish government which runs deep and rampant.  

Blomkvist’s detective work  – exposing those who are trying to send Salander to prison for life by framing her for a variety of crimes – is fascinating and intricately detailed.  The book ends in a thrilling wrap-up of all the carefully interlaced story lines throughout the books. The Milenium Trilogy books are some of the best I have read in quite awhile – I am tempted to go on at length about the book but don’t want to reveal too much to anyone who may pick up the trilogy in the future.  In addition to complex and interesting characters, Larsson gives a vivid account of modern day Sweden.

In addition to listening to an audiobook while on a long car ride, books on CD are a great way to pass the time while gardening or listening to while cleaning the house, or just about anything else!  One of my most recent discoveries is a great mystery with a hint of “chick lit,” Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.

Young, London-based businesswoman Lara Lington has just learned that her 105-year old great-aunt has just passed away – an aunt that she did not even know.  While attending Sadie’s funeral, Lara hears voices and catches an occasional glimpse of a young woman dressed in 1920s attire.  She then realizes that the young woman is not an illusion but is actually the ghost of Sadie at age 23!  Sadie has decided to relentlessly haunt her grand-niece in order to nearly force Lara to help her find her most prized possession, a dazzling, diamond, dragonfly necklace that was stolen before she died.   The pair form an unlikely duo that argue, confide in each other and share a friendship in the most unlikely of ways – all while solving the mystery of the missing necklace.

Twenties Girl has a little bit for everyone -mystery, romance, intrigue and comedy.  A definite recommended read – you may find yourself  circling your block a few dozen times to find out how the book ends!