Good luck finding a copy of the sudden phenomenon known as Fifty Shades of Grey, a scintillating romance novel – the first in a trilogy – that’s stirred up a whirlwind of conversation lately. The novel started its life as an online-only Twilight fan fiction story; once it picked up some enthusiastic readers and momentum, Ms. James modified her main characters’ names, professions, and paranormal status and Fifty Shades was born. Since then, it’s found a major publisher and a movie deal in addition to a spot on the national scene. Find your reason for not reading this sexy novel below and read on for your next great read!


  • I like ‘romantica’ (romance novels with very erotic scenes), and I’ve already read (or I’m impatiently waiting for) this trilogy. What should I read next? If you’re a fan of the genre, try books by any of these authors, who mix plenty of sensual action into their happily-ever-afters: Shayla Black, Colette Gale, Kresley Cole, Zane, Janice Maynard, J.R. Ward, and Lora Leigh.
  • This book was too racy for me! For a gentler read with contemporary setting and a happily ever after, try any of these writers who focus on lighter romance: Lisa Kleypas, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, and Rachel Gibson.
  • I’m so sick of Twilight and all its spin offs – whatever is the opposite of that is what I want to read. Try out these realistic, literary, thought-provoking novels for a reading experience just as compelling as the-vampire-book-that-must-not-be-named but minus all the bloodsucking, romantic quivering, and hype: Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell; The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; Arcadia by Lauren Groff; The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt; Swamplandia! by Karen Russell; Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore. Nary a vampire in sight!
  • I want to read romance or erotica, but I’m embarrassed to let people see me with them. Don’t sweat it, a lot of us are in the same boat, and DPL has some awesome solutions! For the ultimate in anonymity, check out our WILBOR database of ebooks you can check out for free. You don’t have to own a smartphone, Nook, Kindle, or iPad – WILBOR offers tons of audiobooks that can be played from an mp3 player, and ebooks can frequently be read on your computer without transferring to an e-reader. Explore WILBOR’s help page or call the Reference desk if you need assistance. Also, don’t forget that all three branches have self-checkout counters, so you can pick out your favorites and none of the staff need to be any the wiser! Or take matters into your own hands with a Do-It-Yourself or inexpensive book cover. If anyone asks, just shrug and say, “oh, I’m finally trying to finish Middlemarch – the darn thing is just so long!” No one wants to talk about Middlemarch, so you’re free to read your salacious paperbacks in peace.


Haywire – Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender

After freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, Mallory is double-crossed and left for dead by someone in her own agency. Suddenly the target of assassins who know her every move, Mallory unleashes the fury of her fighting skills to uncover the truth and turn the tables on her ruthless adversary. R
Underworld – Awakening – Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy
Vampire warrioress Selene escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both vampire and lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species. R
The Vow –  Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum
A young couple has a car accident that puts the wife in a coma. After she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband sets his sights on winning her heart again.PG-13
MAY 15
Albert Nobbs – Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska
A woman passes as a man in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland. Some thirty years after donning men’s clothing, she finds herself trapped in a prison of her own making.R
Grey – Lian Neeson, Dermot Mulroney
After their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness, a roughneck group of oil drillers is forced to find a way back to civilization. As Ottway leads the injured survivors through the brutal snow and ice, they are relentlessly tracked by a vicious pack of rogue wolves that will do anything to defend their territory. Adrenaline-fueled, action-packed and loaded with some of the most intense and brutally realistic attack scenes ever filmed. R
Chronicle – Dane Dehaan, Alex Russell
Seen through the lens of a troubled teen’s video camera, yet filled with eye-popping action and jaw-dropping special effects, Chronicle is as real as it gets. When three ordinary high school friends make an extraordinary discovery, they acquire amazing abilities beyond their understanding. But as their powers develop, so do their darker sides. Fun, harmless pranks soon lead to much riskier activities as the boys’ ‘gifts,’ and their lives, spin dangerously out of control! PG-13
MAY 22
Woman in Black – Daniel Ratcliffe, Janet McTeer
A young lawyer is ordered to travel to a remote village and sort out a recently deceased client’s papers. While he works alone in the client’s isolated house, he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman who is terrorizing the locals. This leads him on a desperate race against time when he discovers her true intent. PG-13
Red Tails – Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard.
Italy, 1944. As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky, even as they battle discrimination on the ground. Featuring jaw-dropping aerial action and thrilling special effects, Red Tails is a breathtaking tribute to the unsung heroes who rose above extraordinary challenges and ultimately soared into history. PG-13
MAY 29
New Year’s Eve –  Halle Berry, Robert DeNiro
A stellar ensemble cast celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances, and fresh starts in intertwining stories told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.PG-13
We Need to Talk About Kevin – Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly
Kevin’s mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.

Don’t judge this wonderful book by its covers, which are egregious. Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm is, by a wide margin, the most intelligent and engaging romance I’ve ever read. It proves what romance readers have known for generations: a love story with a happy ending can be just as powerful and thoughtful as any other literary novel. The heroine, Maddy Timms, is a devout Quaker: she speaks in a thee-thou manner that other characters remark upon as often you inevitably will. It’s infuriating, it’s different, it’s overly pious and hard to understand. It marks Maddy as a person who lives apart, in a smaller and humbler world than her Anglican peers. Her religion is restrictive and judgmental, but it’s also warm and forgiving and kind – just like Maddy herself. Christian Langland is a standard romantic hero (a strapping, handsome, fabulously wealthy Duke who happens to be a well-known rake), until a neurological illness strikes out of nowhere, shattering his ability to communicate. Only Maddy recognizes that he is not incompetent, an idiot, a savage struck down by God for his immoral ways: he is a sick man. And she is led by God to restore him to health.

There are layers upon layers in this book. Christian is mad; Maddy is a Christian. Flowers and storms pop up in significant junctures throughout the story, bolstering the plot as well as reminding you of the central theme: there is always a way to find something beautiful, something wonderful, even in the darkest and most harrowing times. The point of view alternates between Christian and Maddy, and Ms. Kinsale does an absolutely phenomenal job of illustrating Christian’s rapid mental decline and slow recovery both from inside and outside his fuddled mind. She very rarely writes the same moment from both characters’ perspectives, so you only know what Christian can piece together or what Maddy has been present to see. The scenes inside the lunatic asylum in the immediate aftermath of Christian’s illness are heartwrenching, as we watch him struggle to make even the simplest thought understood by his doctors. Maddy is the first and only person to truly understand him, to know that his intelligence is as fierce as ever but his ability to speak and to understand has been compromised. As their love blossoms, Maddy struggles with her religious convictions and Christian struggles with his illness, his family, and his legal obligations. I’ve never been moved to root for a romance novel couple as I was for these two.

If you’re a romance reader and you’ve never read Flowers from the Storm, do so right away! You won’t regret it. Then, pass it on to a skeptical friend who thinks romances are cheap, tawdry, worthless, or sub-literary: I’ve never read a book more likely to change their mind.

First of all, don’t attempt to read the last third of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green in public. Find somewhere quiet and private so that you can read uninterrupted (because you won’t be able to stop) and where you can sob without alarming others (because unless you have a heart of stone, you’re going to cry) On the other hand, don’t let that warning scare you off – this book is also laugh-out-loud funny. It’s raw and honest and sweet and poignant and you’ll come out the other side a little different for it.

16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster has never been anything other than terminal since her diagnosis; treatments have extended her life, but there is no cure. She no longer attends school, her best friends are her parents and she has to carry an oxygen tank with her at all times. Her path is set. Then Augustus Waters – hot boy she meets at Cancer Kids Support Group – bursts into her life, and that path takes on new and completely unexpected turns both heartbreaking and hilarious. A life well lived isn’t defined by quantity; it’s defined by quality.

Hazel and Augustus find common ground beyond their illness; they laugh and bicker and watch movies together and share adventures. They fall in love. They grapple with big questions and support their friends and each other. They live the days they’re given. “It is a good life, Hazel Grace” says Augustus. And it is.

The plot here is not particularly groundbreaking or unusual – the probable outcome is fairly predictable – but the characters and their stories will keep you riveted and will stay with you long after you put the book down. Hazel and Augustus are amazing of course, but the supporting characters are also wonderful, especially their friend Issac and Hazel’s parents. There is no romanticized stereotype of the “brave cancer patient.” The people here are real – funny and sad and inquisitive and so angry, struggling with the Big Questions but also not waiting around for death. I don’t know anyone that hasn’t been touched by cancer or other serious illness in their life – either yourself, a family member or a close friend or maybe all three – and you’ll recognize these emotions as real and honest. This book takes on the fear and the unknown, acknowledges them and then does battle with them. It’s a battle well worth joining.


February 29th will be here before we know it! Yay, we need more February, right?

The Proposal  doesn’t actually take place in a leap year as far as I know, but Sandra Bullock’s character, Maggie, does follow that holiday’s tradition of a woman proposing to a man.

The ruthless Maggie, in order to avoid deportation, forces her subordinate, (Ryan Reynolds), to marry her. Hilarity ensues when they visit the groom’s  family in Alaska. As is mandatory, Betty White plays a grandmother prone to mildly offensive insults and truth telling.

Alaska, Bullock and Reynolds are enjoyable to behold. You could do worse than pop this into the dvd player on your extra day of 2012.

Anna is happy in Atlanta where she lives with her mother and little brother – looking forward to her senior year of high school,  hanging out with her best friend and working at the local movie theater with her could-be boyfriend. All that changes when her father decides that she should spend her senior year at a boarding school in Paris and no amount of pleading will change his mind.

Paris, of course, turns out to be not such a bad idea – she soon makes friends, starts exploring the city and works on her dream of becoming a film critic. And she meets Etienne St Clair, he of the beautiful hair and charming personality. But wait – he has a girlfriend and what about her crush back home in Atlanta? Will they just be friends, or something more?

Anna and the French Kiss follows Anna through the year, from her first nervous days to her blossoming confidence and growing circle of friends. At first, it’s a little hard to sympathize with Anna – forced to live in Paris! I should have such problems! But her initial loneliness and homesickness are universal emotions and her courage to overcome them soon have you rooting for her. She’s smart and funny and determined – exactly the kind of person you’d like to have as a friend.

While Anna and the French Kiss is light and funny, it’s also well-written and sharp, with a diverse cast of characters and realistic emotions. The opening chapters, when Anna is still learning about her new city, are actually a good introduction to Paris and Parisian culture; the visit to Pere Lachaise Cemetery is especially funny and educational. It’s the perfect combination – great city, great characters, great fun.


With the winter 2011 release of the penultimate fourth film, this franchise is enjoying yet another surge in popularity. Whatever your reason for bypassing this phenomenally popular quartet of books, these suggestions will point you in the right direction!

If you loved Meyer’s style (quick-reading prose for young adults with paranormal elements and pervasive-yet-tame romance) and want to read something similar, you should try

  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. In this tale, Sam is a werewolf who must return to his lupine life when the temperature drops (rather than when the moon waxes). Grace, his human lover and best friend, must find a way to deal with this intrusion of the supernatural on her typical teen life. Like Twilight, this is the first in a series.
  • Josephine Angelini’s debut novel Starcrossed spins a similarly romantic, exciting tale full of unusual and fantastic elements; in this novel, shy Helen Hamilton discovers that she has an extraordinary part to play in the modern continuation of the Greek myth of Helen of Troy. (first in a planned trilogy)
  • Marked by P.C. Cast, the first entry of a vampire series for teens that takes place in a world where vampires have always existed and train together at an elite school known as the House of Night. Zoey Redbird, a 16 year old fledgeling vampire, negotiates her new life at the school in this multi-volume series.

If you adore vampires, shapeshifters, and paranormal oddities but were left cold by Meyer’s teen-focused love story, try these titles for a steamier scare:

If your interest in vampires and supernatural forces hasn’t abated but you crave a more challenging text with a literary feel, try…

If you ever need a DVD for all generations – say, around the holidays…,  Miss Potter is perfect for this situation – it is whimsical without being overly saccharine.

This is a peek into Victorian society – in which Beatrix is encouraged from childhood on to exploit her talent as an artist, yet her parents are bound by rigid class lines when it comes to marriage.

The cast is filled with great British character actors, including  Barbara Flynn and Bill Paterson as Beatrix’ parents. And the wonderfully weird chaperone, Miss Wiggin, is played by Matyelok Gibbs. Emily Watson plays the sister of Beatrix’ fiance, who immediately adopts Beatrix as a soulmate and friend.

As a bonus, it is  beautifully produced with a wonderful soundtrack by Katie Melua.  Even though this isn’t technically a holiday movie, it will add a bit of magic to this festive season.

Don’t forget to check out the actual books (The Tailor of Gloucester was Beatrix’ favorite and perfect for the Christmas season).

November 1

Water for Elephants – Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson

Against all odds, a veterinary student and a beautiful circus performer from a bygone era meet and fall in love through their shared compassion for a special elephant. But their secret romance incurs the wrath of her dangerously volatile husband. Rated PG – 13


Cars 2

Star racecar Lightning McQueen and the incomparable tow truck Mater take their friendship on the road from Radiator Springs to exciting new places when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours, and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage! Rated G


November 8

Change – up – Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds

Growing up together, Mitch and Dave were inseparable best friends, but slowly drifted apart. While Dave is an overworked lawyer, husband, and father of three, Mitch has remained a single, quasi-employed man-child. Both guys seem to think the other has it made. Following a drunken night out together, Mitch and Dave’s worlds are turned upside down when they wake up in each other’s bodies. The guys soon discover that each other’s lives are nowhere near as rosy as they once seemed. Rated R

November 15

Larry Crowne – Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts

When he suddenly finds himself without his long-standing blue-collar job, Larry Crowne enrolls at his local college to start over. There he becomes part of an eclectic community of students and develops a crush on his teacher. Now this simple guy will discover that when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might find your reason to live. Rated PG 13

Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides – Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush

A tale of truth, betrayal, youth, demise, and mermaids! When Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past, he’s not sure if it’s love, or if she’s a ruthless con artist using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Forced aboard the ship of the most feared pirate ever, Jack doesn’t know who to fear more, Blackbeard or the woman from his past. Rated PG 13. (WILL NOT BE RELEASED TO LIBRARY UNTIL DECEMBER 9)

November 22

Sarah’s Key – Kristin Scott Thomas

In modern-day Paris, a journalist finds her life becoming entwined with a young girl whose family was torn apart during the notorious Vel d’Hiv roundup, which took place in Paris, in 1942. She stumbles upon a family secret which will link her forever to the destiny of a young Jewish girl, Sarah. Rated PG 13


Super 8 – Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning

In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witnesses a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon they suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local deputy tries to uncover the truth, something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined. Rated PG 13






The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has become one of the most buzzed-about books of the year, and with good reason.  Set in the late 1800s, it is the story of a boy named Marco and a girl named Celia who are bound in a competition that they don’t truly understand, but they know that it will involve using the magical abilities that both show at a young age.  They spend their young lives being trained by instructors whose methods differ greatly until the time comes for the challenge to begin.  For this purpose, a venue is created:  a stunning, mysterious black-and-white circus that travels constantly and only operates at night, called Les Cirque des Reves.  It is like no other circus you have ever seen, complete with a fortune teller, an illusionist, acrobats, the most delicious food you can imagine, and tents filled with landscapes that will take your breath away.  The two spend years using their abilities to make alterations to the circus, constantly one-upping each other as they grow more and more aware that the consequences could be dire.  Especially once they realize their true feelings for one another.

The story is told through multiple points of view all while bouncing around in time to different points in the lifespan of the circus.  Initially this can make it a little hard to follow exactly when and where everything is happening, but once you catch onto the flow of it, this makes the story more complete and layered.  The focus of the story isn’t just on Celia and Marco, but on all the supporting circus folk as well.  In fact, the part of the story I found most compelling was the story of Bailey, a boy who becomes enthralled with the circus at a young age and waits for years for it to come back.  Eventually he befriends two of the circus performers and find his fate intertwined with that of the circus in a way he never expected.  But my absolute favorite thing about the book is how beautifully it is written.  The language is absolutely lovely and creates the most vivid and uniquely beautiful pictures in the reader’s head.  I don’t even want to describe any of it to you because part of the fun of the book is discovering new parts of the circus as Celia and Marco make their alterations!  Morgenstern creates a very sensory experience; you can see, hear, smell, and taste the circus as though it is going on all around you. 

Making my expereince with The Night Circus even better, I listened to the audio version read by the amazing Jim Dale (narrator of the Harry Potter audio books).  He really brings the characters to life, and his narration makes this already beautifully-written book even more magical.  If you like magic, romance, and very vivid reading experiences, I highly recommend picking up this incredibly enchanting novel.