Sheila U's Picks


The Christmas Day Kitten

James Herriot

Recommended by: Sheila U

I love James Herriot's writing - the stories are funny, heartwarming, and endearing.  I was thinking of some of my favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas stories, and this one is one of the best.  


The Fifth Witness

Michael Connelly

Recommended by: Sheila U

I'm a big fan of thrillers, and really enjoy when an author takes a great character and writes a series of books with that character.  "The Fifth Witness" is the fourth book in the Mickey Haller series by Michael Connelly, and it is great!  If you haven't read any of the Mickey Haller series, the 1st book (and best place to start) is "The Lincoln Lawyer" - which last year was made into a fantastic movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei.  Mickey Haller is a middle-age defense lawyer who operates from the back seat of his Lincoln Towncar; and with this novel, has expanded into foreclosure defense.  His client Lisa Trammel is implicated in the murder of the banker who is foreclosing on her house.  Fast-paced, and full of interesting information on the recent mortgage crisis, "The Fifth Witness" has a great ending (the twist ending is not a huge surprise, but how it plays out is very satisfying).


This Time Together

Carol Burnett

Recommended by: Sheila U

I grew up watching the Carol Burnett Show, and always loved her sense of humor.  "This Time Together" is a great look at her life, before and after the show; the people she knew and some bits of her personal life.  I would especially recommend the audiobook - Ms. Burnett is a wonderful reader - and it's great to hear her do the "Tarzan" yell again - and tell the story of how she came up with that.   


Getting Started Knitting Socks

Ann Budd

Recommended by: Sheila U

A few weeks ago, the Library started offering a weekly Knitting Circle, led by Svenja Chesna on Wednesday afternoons from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.  The first time I went, I took a project I had already started; but while we were talking, Svenja said she would be happy to help people with new techniques or with problems they had been having with their knitting.  She's also helping those of us who are new to knitting.  

I've always wanted to learn how to knit socks, so I asked Svenja if she would show me and she said she would be happy to.  So the next day, I spent time in our Knitting area (Non-Fiction call number 746), looking for a book of patterns for socks.  I found this book, which shows step by step how to knit socks, using almost any kind of yarn.  The next week, I brought my book, my needles and my yarn - and Svenja got me started.  I'm almost done with the first sock!  This book has great illustrations, easy-to-follow instructions, and lots of simple patterns to choose from.  My only criticism is that the patterns call for using double-pointed needles, which are really difficult for me (probably need to practice more).  Svenja showed me a different technique, using two circular needles and that is working much better for me.  If you want to learn how to make socks, this book is the perfect start; and join us Wednesday nights for extra help.


Why Not Me?: The inside story of the making and unmaking of the Franken presidency

Al Franken

Recommended by: Sheila U

Presidential politics getting you down?  Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at a fake presidential run, by politician and comedian Al Franken.


Sacre Bleu

Christopher Moore

Recommended by: Sheila U

Like all Christopher Moore's works, Sacre Bleu is absurd, witty, raunchy, weird, and fun.  It's difficult to summarize the plotline; but it basically follows young painter Lucien Lessard through 1890's Paris, as he falls in love with a mysterious Muse and tries to thwart the evil Colorman.  If you've never read a Christopher Moore novel, this might not be the best one to start with. But if you have ventured into one of his strange worlds, and enjoyed the ride, you will probably enjoy this one as well.


Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics

Ross Douthat

Recommended by: Sheila U

If you are interested in church history and theology, this is a thought-provoking read. While the author, a columnist for the New York Times, writes from a Catholic perspective, he has a good understanding of the changes in American Protestantism. The first part is a history of theology and religious practice in America, mainly through the 20th century; the 2nd part covers more recent events and talks alot about the mixture of politics and religion we are currently experiencing. Mr. Douthat makes a convincing argument for a return to orthodox Christianity. I'm not sure I agree with everything he says, but he makes several good points and the book will make you consider your beliefs and the way you practice your faith.


The Memory of Running

Ron McLarty

Recommended by: Sheila U

Smithy Ide is an overweight, friendless, chain-smoking, forty-three-year-old drunk, and when his parents die in a tragic accident, Smithy’s life becomes completely unhinged. He decides to escape his grief on his bicycle and embarks on a ride across America, from Rhode Island to California. 


The Next Always

Nora Roberts

Recommended by: Sheila U

The Next Always begins a new trilogy, and will feel very familiar to Roberts' fans.  All the usual elements are there:  three close female friends; three brothers; the couples pair off, one per book; an absorbing story and good characters; add a supernatural element; and you have her recipe for success.  In this one, the supernatural is more in the background than some of her trilogies (for example her "Sign of Seven" or "Circle" trilogies), but it does play a key role in the climactic ending. 


Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins

Recommended by: Sheila U

In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into a Capitol and 12 districts. A 13th District once existed; but was obliterated by the Capitol in order to subdue the citizens of the other Districts.  Each year, two children from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to fight to the death, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for the Games their whole lives. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like 'Survivor' and 'American Gladiator.'  The first in a trilogy; a movie adaptation is scheduled for release March 23, 2012.  Read the book before you see the movie!

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