Did Poirot Get it Horribly Wrong?

Agatha Christie’s mystery, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a beloved classic; however, critics have said that Christie broke a fundamental rule of mystery writing when she revealed her murderer. How could this author, so renowned for her puzzle-making ability, have have made such a mistake? And, of course, no one thought to question detective Hercule Poirot’s conclusions. Until now.

Pierre Bayard has written a delightfully enjoyable mystery about Christie’s book. (Spoiler alert: if you intend to read Christie’s book first, then don’t click on the Bayard link because the murderer [as revealed by Christie] is revealed in the book’s description.) In his book, Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? Bayard questions Poirot’s conclusions and makes a very strong case for his argument that the famed detective is wrong!

If it’s been a while since you’ve read the original, you might want to read that first and then pick up Bayard’s book (although Bayard’s book stands up perfectly well on its own). If you’re a fan of mysteries (and even if you don’t particularly like Agatha Christie) you won’t be disappointed.

The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara

64 years ago today, the Allies successfully launched the largest single-day military invasion ever and turned the tide of World War II. Known as Operation Overlord, it involved more than 130,000 troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and marked the beginning of the end of the war.

Joining the long list of books and movies that have covered this event, The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara brings this day vividly to life. Many different viewpoints are shown, from historical figures (Eisenhower, Churchill, Rommel) to the foot soldiers on the beach. They are shown as real people, with doubts, fears, faults and great courage. The horrors of war are not sugar-coated – blood is shed, mistakes are made, people die. Both an overview of the event and it’s long-term impact and an intimate portrait of the cost of this day, this is an epic page-turner that is impossible to put down.

This is the second volume in a planned trilogy; The Rising Tide covers the German invasion of Europe and the Allied invasion of North Africa.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

One of the fun things about being a librarian is that sometimes publishers will send us “advance reader’s editions.” These are books that have not yet been published and often times they have not even been reviewed. Usually when we read a book, we’ve already read upteen reviews for it or at least heard about it from Oprah. So it’s very refreshing to pick up a book without having any preconceived ideas about it. Well, okay, in this case Stephen King had written a blurb recommending it, so I did have some idea. And no, it’s not a horror book. It’s called The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski.

Edgar, born mute and communicating through sign, is a boy growing up on a farm in Wisconsin, a farm on which they raise and train the special (and fictional) Sawtelle breed of dogs. Life is pretty peaceful for the family until his uncle Claude returns and decides to stay. Later, when Edgar’s father dies unexpectedly, Edgar tries to prove that Claude had something to do with it. Unfortunately, his plan backfires, and Edgar is forced to flee into the nearby Chequamegon wilderness. Struggling to survive and provide for the three yearling dogs that accompany him, Edgar grows up quickly.

The ending may not be what you hope for or expect, but it is precisely because of it that I predict this book will become excellent fodder for future book discussion groups. Look for it when it comes out!

Photographing Your Family by Joel Sartore

Summer means lots of opportunities for getting together with family – reunions, barbeques, vacations. Today’s small, simple-to-use cameras make it easy to capture the moments, big and small. Joel Sartore’s Photographing Your Family is a great place to find information not just on how to use your camera, but how to take great pictures.

One of the terrific things about this book is that Sartore has wonderful ideas for getting photos of the everyday events – a sleeping child, cookies being baked, time spent at the park or museum. Get in close, try different angles and work at capturing the personality of the person. Great photos are not stiff, formally posed portraits but the spontaneous snapshots of life in action.

Also included are tips that won’t overwhelm you on editing your images, pointers on composition, and ideas for storing and displaying your masterpieces. Because every day should be a day worth remembering.

The Savage Garden by Mark Mills

The Savage GardenLinked murders 400 years apart create the suspense and intrigue in this literate novel of family secrets, loyalty, and betrayal. Adam Strickland goes to Tuscany to write about a famous memorial garden, but the garden hides secrets – was Flora Docci actually murdered and why? As Adam delves into the mysteries of the garden he is also drawn into a more recent wartime murder involving the son of the matriarch of the villa, putting his own life in danger.

If you liked The DaVinci Code with it’s mysteries wrapped in ancient texts, or are intrigued by twists and turns of wartime loyalties, you’ll love The Savage Garden.

The Armchair Traveler – A Day at the Beach

Day at the Beach

Beaches by Iris Rainer Dart

Heartwrenching and funny, this is a story of a friendship between two very different women. One is a loud, outgoing, aspiring actress and the other is shy, meditative homebody. They meet in the 50’s, then reunite periodically throughout their lives – at beaches in Florida, California and Hawaii.

Summer Reading by Hilma Wolitzer

Centered around a summer book discussion group in the Hamptons. Young socialites struggle to impress each other and, in the end, are influenced by books such as Madame Bovary and Jane Eyre that are assigned in their book club.

Killer Summer by Lynda Curnyn

Set on New York’s Fire Island, three 30-something friends share a house for the summer. Each character is given a chance to narrate and give their own point-of-view, as their plans for a fun escape are derailed when a dead body is found on the beach.

Mary Emmerling’s Beach Cottages

What is more relaxing than flipping the pages of one of our many decorating books and remodeling the house in your head? Cheaper and easier than actually going to Home Depot.

Beach Boys Classics CD

Need some music to get in the mood to get to West Lake beach or at least the back yard? How about “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Busy Doin’ Nothin’ and “The Warmth of the Sun?”

Grace from the Garden: Changing the World One Garden at a Time by Debra Engle

Grace from the GardenGrace from the Garden by Debra Engle talks about gardening of course, but really it’s about how people pulling together can make a difference. These graceful essays show how gardening and gardeners, in all their wide diversity, affect lives and make the world a little friendlier. Some of the projects described include:

-An inner city community garden run by an former professional basketball player

-“Garden Angels”, a group of volunteers who install and maintain small gardens for elderly who are no longer physically able to

-Juvenile offenders who work off community service hours in a local vegetable garden where they learn to give back

-A doctor in the United States who has built greenhouses for hospitals in famine-threatened North Korea

-The story of the Portland Memory Garden, built for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and their caregivers

Gardens, whether big or small change, heal, and draw people together making the world better for all of us.

Friday Night Lights on DVD

Friday Night Lights season twoGreat acting, brilliant writing, innovative cinematography and multiple compelling story lines combine to create one of the best – maybe the best – show on television. And let me be very clear about this – it’s not about football. Yes, yes, I know, the show revolves around the ups and downs of the football team from Dillion, Texas and high school football reigns supreme in this small town. But in reality it’s about people, the choices they make and the consequences these choices have on them and the people around them.

Now is your chance to get caught up – the Davenport Library has both season one and season two available for checkout. Don’t miss out!

Omaha Steaks The Great American Grilling Book

The Great American Grilling BookFinally! Warmer weather! Time to fire up the grill and cook some meat! Omaha Steaks The Great American Grilling Book is just the book to get you started (and salivating!) The emphasis here is on – duh – beef, but there are also loads of recipes for pork, chicken, lamb, fish and seafood. A whole chapter is devoted to gourmet burgers and kabobs. Vegies also get their share of attention as well as starters, rubs, sauces and marinades; there’s even a section on desserts.

No more excuses for the same old burgers and chicken – try something new!

A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander

A Poisoned SeasonYoung and wealthy, a secure position in society and recently widowed, Lady Emily Ashton enjoys a degree of independence that many Victorian women do not. She spends her time studying Greek literature, avoiding marriage proposals and traveling. Set in the late-Victorian era, this deft historical mystery is peopled with interesting, complex characters, witty conversations and an engaging mystery involving the theft of items once owned by Marie Antoinette. Fun and clever with just a touch of romance, this book will keep you turning the pages a fast as you can read.

A Poisoned Season is the second in the series, following And Only to Deceive. The third title, A Fatal Waltz arrives later this month.

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