Thursday, September 18, 2014

Power Play

Power Play
by Catherine Coulter



"Elite Washingtonians are bedeviled by scandals and murder attempts. 
Natalie Black’s fiance, George McCallum, Viscount Lockenby, was killed in a car accident that the British tabloids are intimating was suicide after Natalie supposedly threw him over. Because her reputation as U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s must be sterling, her longtime friend Secretary of State Arliss Abbott wants her to resign. But President Thornton Gilbert, also a college friend, continues to back her. When a drug addict tries to steal her car, Natalie fights back with the help of FBI Special Agent Davis Sullivan, who's one of the few people who believe her accounts of attempts to kill her in both England and Washington. Meanwhile, Sullivan’s boss, Dillon Savich, and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have major problems of their own when Blessed Backman, a killer they apprehended, escapes from a mental hospital vowing vengeance. Given Backman’s ability to hypnotize most people instantly, his chances seem disconcertingly good. Sullivan finds himself guarding Natalie’s daughter, Perry, a sportswriter who’s getting threatening messages, perhaps because of her mother’s problems. Sullivan certainly enjoys guarding Perry’s body, but her longtime friend Day Abbott, who wants to marry her, is much less happy, especially when he’s questioned after an attack on them. The special agents must race the clock to halt the murderous attacks before Natalie loses her job or her life.

Coulter (The Final Cut, 2013, etc.) introduces new characters to her FBI series, reinforces old ones and provides plenty for them all to do. But the result, however action-packed, is less thrilling than her best."

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Counterfeit Agent

by Alex Berenson

“In this newest John Wells novel from Berenson (The Night Ranger, 2013, etc.), the superagent tries to foil a plot to force the U.S. into a war with Iran.
John Wells’ girlfriend responded to his marriage proposal with a counteroffer: Stop doing work for the CIA, or it’s over. Unfortunately for Wells’ love life, Vinny Duto—who recently traded his post as CIA director for a seat in the Senate—chooses that moment to call and ask for a meeting. He’s gotten a tip from a former associate that someone—allegedly a CIA case officer—is out to assassinate a station chief. Meanwhile, the agency station in Istanbul has been talking to an anonymous source who claims to be a Revolutionary Guard colonel. The source mentions an attack on a CIA station chief and insists his fellow Iranians are behind the plot. When the attack happens, the agency takes the source’s next claim—that the Iranians are planning to smuggle enriched nuclear material into the U.S.—very seriously. But Wells, Duto and Wells’ former boss, Ellis Shafer, aren’t sure. Unfortunately, Ellis is on the outs at the agency, and as a freshman senator, Duto doesn’t have any sway at Langley anymore. If the three of them are going to figure this out, they’re going to have to do it without the agency's help. Fans of Berenson's John Wells series will happily find more of the same here. Wells gets himself out of scrape after scrape using his considerable brains and brawn, while Ellis Shafer lets loose his usual array of dry zingers. But as always, Berenson sets this series apart by doing his homework. The locations are meticulously researched and exceptionally well-realized. Berenson also clearly knows his spycraft, and his knowledge of the inner workings at Langley adds an additional layer of detail. The dialogue is occasionally wooden but less so than most novels in the genre. And in a series first, the novel's end leaves plenty of loose threads dangling, allowing copious room for a sequel.
Another well-crafted entry in Berenson's excellent John Wells series.”

Friday, July 11, 2014

John Quincy Adams

BookPage® Review by Roger Bishop

John Quincy Adams was devoted to literature, and had he been able to pursue his ideal career, he wrote in 1817, “I should have made myself a great poet.” He did write poetry throughout his extraordinary life, but, from a very young age, his parents strongly encouraged him toward life as a leader in the new republic. His literary skills, however, were not wasted. There were his letters, essays on public policy and speeches, all of which he wrote himself. The best expression of these skills often came in his diary, begun in 1779 and continuing until his death in 1848. It would become the most valuable firsthand account of an American life and events during that period.
Award-winning biographer Fred Kaplan, whose subjects have included Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Thomas Carlyle, draws heavily on Adams’ diary and other writings to bring our sixth president vividly to life in John Quincy Adams: American Visionary. Because his presidency is usually regarded as unsuccessful, Adams’ place as a visionary and prophet is often overlooked. Kaplan’s book emphasizes how Adams’ vision and values have stood the test of time.
Adams was an outstanding diplomat in Europe, as well as president, senator, secretary of state, Harvard professor and, for the last 16 years of his life, a member of the House of Representatives, the only former president to serve in Congress. He spent his years there eloquently proposing and defending his reform agenda, which included, most prominently, opposition to slavery.
A dominant theme of Adams’ life, following the lead of his Founding Father father, John Adams, was the importance of a “social compact” that united the country’s inhabitants. In a speech in Boston in 1802, he emphasized the centrality of a union based on values expressed in the Declaration of Independence, and to “perpetuate this union is the first political duty . . . of every American.” It was this pledge to union, despite the controversial compromises needed to create the Constitution, that guided his life.    
Although Adams’ presidency is often considered a failure, it is hard to place all of the blame on him. The supporters of Andrew Jackson, who won the popular vote but lost to Adams when the election was decided in the House, vehemently opposed his legislative proposals. Even some of his political friends felt that Adams’ vision— which included a federally supported national infrastructure, a regulated banking system, an important role for the federal government in scientific and cultural initiatives—went too far.

This important book combines solid research and wisely selected excerpts from Adams’ writings with an engaging narrative about a man who made significant contributions to our national life.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An Uncommon History of 1776

An Uncommon History of 1776

West of the Revolution
Reviewed by Eric Herschthal

For most of us, the year 1776 brings to mind the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States. When pressed to fill in more details, perhaps we remember it was also the year Thomas Paine published Common Sense and George Washington crossed the Delaware. But few of us would think to mention the Russian fur trade with China in the Siberian town of Kyakhta; the founding of San Francisco; or the birth of the Lakota Nation in the Great Plains. Yet these moments and more are what Claudio Saunt, in his provocative new history, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, argues are just as significant to our grasp of that watershed year. 

What the Russians were doing in Kyakhta, the center of a vibrant trade with China in North American furs, for instance, bears as much weight on the United States of today as what the Founders were doing in Philadelphia. Saunt contends that if it were not for Russia's lucrative fur trade, the Spanish would have had little reason to colonize much of the West Coast and the Southwest. In the late eighteenth century, the Spanish became alarmed at the increasing Russian demand for sea otter and fox furs bought from natives on the Aleutian Islands, just off the coast of Alaska. To prevent their further expansion into North America, the Spanish pushed north from Mexico into California, establishing San Francisco in 1776.

Saunt's retelling of the founding era reflects the changes in America he sees today.  We are increasingly aware of climate change, infectious diseases, and globalization, which makes us "perhaps better than ever prepared to understand and relate to the experiences of eighteenth century North America." Disease is everywhere in Saunt's account, and so are the nefarious effects of global trade on the environment and local populations. Skeptics might think that West of the Revolution, then, is mere politics masquerading as history. But all history writing is informed by the present, regardless of whether the historian is aware of it, admits it or not. Saunt is simply stating what most historians know implicitly. 

The Spanish came to California bearing many diseases. In San Francisco, sailors arrived with purple lesions, bleeding gums, and "grotesquely swollen limbs," the likely effects of scurvy. While scurvy isn't transmissible, Spaniards also brought with them pathogen-carrying livestock and, after centuries of exposure, their own immunity to the microbes. But foreign diseases would decimate natives, repeating a process that had been occurring since the earliest days of Spanish settlement. In 1774, one Spanish mission near San Francisco reported an extraordinary native death rate of 85 per 1,000, more than enough to prevent the indigenous population from increasing. In San Diego, the unintended spread of disease contributed to the intentional spread of violence. On November 5, 1775, a local group, the Kumeyaays, led an uprising against the Spanish -- all this, Saunt reminds us, at the same the American colonists stepped up their revolt against the British.

Environmental transformation is equally central to Saunt's story. The Canadian boreal forest was devastated in the aftermath of the French and Indian War (1754–63), the conflict that would directly lead to the American Revolution. British fur traders in Canada refused to observe the strict trade laws imposed by the peace treaty. Competition with these independent traders led the British-chartered Hudson's Bay Company to ratchet up its business in beaver furs, leading to the beaver's near extinction. More was at stake than the loss of the beaver: large parts of Canada's natural environment depended on the animal. Beaver dams created the ponds for fish, frogs, and algae; a multitude of birds made habitats within the felled trees, which also attracted deer, elk, and moose. Yet after the French and Indian War, the beaver population -- and the vast ecosystems it supported -- all but collapsed. Between 1765 and 1800, about 6 million beaver pelts were exported from North America; by 1900, Canada's beaver population was nearly extinct. 

Saunt is surely right that we need newer stories like these to incorporate into our history of the nation's founding, ones that bear more readily on the present. But his approach raises questions that are not easily resolved. Most important, by centering his account of what was happening outside of the British colonies at the time of the American Revolution, he may be giving the American Revolution more significance than it deserves, at least to regions so far outside the British colonies. For instance, San Francisco may have been established the same year as the United States. But the most important causes for the city's founding have little to do with the Declaration of Independence; they reach much further back and are far more complex. Saunt attempts to bridge San Francisco's founding to the British colonies through Spain's competition with Russia, stemming from the fur trade. But if we are telling a story about imperial contest rooted in the fur trade, perhaps a better place to start is with the French settlement of present-day Canada, in the seventeenth century, where the trade first took off.

Yet the closer Saunt moves toward the east, the more illuminating the connections become. In the immediate aftermath of the French and Indian War, native groups throughout the Ohio Valley united against the British in Pontiac's War. The war dispersed native groups across the western side of the Mississippi, and south, even as far as Havana. Many of the dispersed groups formed new tribal identities in the process. The Lakota Nation, for instance, traces its founding to 1776 -- a date that, unlike the case of San Francisco, bears a close relation to the founding of the United States. Saunt argues, quite reasonably, that naming 1776 as its date of birth "was not a coincidence, but a clever ploy" on the part of the  Lakota Nation to put them on "equal footing" with the United States. 

Many readers will walk away from West of the Revolution with a new and entirely necessary set of characters to fold into their narratives of 1776. Yet they may be surprised at how familiar this story still feels. The devastating effects the establishment of the United States had on Native American communities and the natural environment is well known. What Saunt ultimately reminds us is that this was a process that involved far more people, and stretched far beyond the Eastern Seaboard. In a global age, this kind of history could not be more welcome. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Across the Cheyenne River

Find this book in our catalog


A ranch hand looking for work in Wyoming finds employment, true love and murder.
Russell Archer and Boot Beckett both arrive at the Bar M Ranch on the same day, and they’re both decent guys, but it doesn’t take long for Archer to distinguish himself. He’s a hard worker and a quick study; apart from a dalliance with a good-time girl, he doesn’t fritter away his leisure hours; he’s a good man in a fight, as a bully who threatens the ranch finds to his sorrow; and he’s devoted to the Bar M and its owner, Lidge Mercer. Even so, Archer is surprised when he’s about to leave at the end of the season and Mercer asks him to stay over the winter and offers him a junior partnership and a 30 percent financial stake in the growing enterprise. By this time, Archer has started keeping company with Kate Blackwell, who helps out at the local store, so he has good reason to stay. But the best-laid plans go awry. Soon after Mercer tells Archer that Phillip Peavey, the ratlike fellow who’s been hanging around the place dropping hints of trouble, is actually a cousin who’s entangled them both in murder for money, Mercer himself is shot dead. Even worse, Archer learns that Mercer never signed or filed the partnership papers for the Bar M or the will that promised to make Archer his heir. With no legal stake in the ranch, he determines to stay on anyway—putting himself right in the cross hairs of whoever killed his boss.
Despite the rising body count, Nesbitt (Dark Prairie, 2013, etc.) keeps it all slow and easy as a gentled horse, making this tale the perfect escape even from other mystery fiction.

Pub Date: May 21st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4328-2810-3
Publisher: Five Star
Review Posted Online: April 15th, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Any Other Name by Craig Johnson

Have you read Craig Johnson's latest Longmire Mystery?  You should.  Read this from the Library Journal website to get you started:


OrangeReviewStar Salvalaggio’s Debut of the Month, Johnson’s Next Longmire Mystery, & the Series Lineup | Mystery ReviewsJohnson, Craig. Any Other Name: A Longmire Mystery. Viking. May 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780670026463. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698163539. M
anyothername040914 Salvalaggio’s Debut of the Month, Johnson’s Next Longmire Mystery, & the Series Lineup | Mystery ReviewsWyoming sheriff Walt Longmire and ­Lucian Connally, his former boss, travel to a neighboring county to look into the suicide of Det. Gerald Holman. The detective was a longtime friend of Connally, and his death raised many questions; Walt is the best person to find the solutions. Time becomes an issue for Walt, not only in tracing the clues of Holman’s last case involving missing women, but also in trying to get to Philadelphia in time for the birth of his first grandchild. In this 11th series installment (after Spirit of Steamboat), Longmire displays his usual down-to-earth charm and dogged determination asking questions of the local sheriff, his sister who owns the local strip club, a lonely clerk whose post office is facing eminent closure, and Holman’s wife and daughter, who seem to know more than they are telling. Walt grasps the connection between the vanished women and Holman’s death, and not even a herd of bison in Custer State Park can stop him.VERDICT Another well-crafted story from Johnson, filled with endearing characters and nonstop action that will appeal to series fans and readers of other Western mystery authors such as C.J. Box. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14; 15-city author tour.]—Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community Colls., Mt. Carmel

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blue Heaven by C.J. Box

Wyoming author CJ Box has a new stand alone novel, a departure from his best selling series about Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett. In another departure from his earlier works this book is not set in Wyoming but in North Idaho, specifically in a part of that state that draws retired law enforcement officers from Southern California, a peaceful area of natural beauty far removed from the crime ridden urban sprawl, a place known by them as Blue Heaven.
The action starts with 12 year old Annie and her 10 year old brother William witnessing a murder as they search for a place to go fishing. On the run from the killers, the children are picked up by a family friend, a retired police officer from California, only to discover that he is part of the plot. As the search for the “missing” children intensifies, the retired police officers offer their services to the local sheriff and effectively take over the search.
Annie and William take refuge in a barn on one of the last two remaining working ranches in the county. They are discovered by ranch owner Jess Rawlins who has problems of his own, namely an ex-wife who cleaned out the bank accounts before leaving, a ranch that can’t generate enough income and real estate developers determined to turn his property into ranchettes. Jess believes enough of the kids’ story to check a few things himself before turning them over to the authorities.
Box again interweaves current western issues such as property development and the infusion of outsiders into small communities with larger themes like good versus evil to craft an enthralling, suspenseful adventure. His characters show that the bad guys weren’t always evil and the good guys aren’t always perfect and in a book that can seem like a modern day western, the good guy doesn’t always get to ride off into the sunset with the girl.
Blue Heaven and CJ Box’s other works are available at the Uinta County Library, 701 Main Street.

Review by Dale Collum

Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz

Are you looking for a good adventure or perhaps a great Christmas present for a nephew or grandson? Read on. I guarantee no one looking for an exciting adventure escape during a long winter’s evening will be able to set this book aside.
Anthony Horowitz is a writer from England who has become quite popular with young readers, particularly boys. Horowitz has been writing since age eight; his books have been published in more than twenty countries and have sold millions of copies. Although his childhood was neither happy nor adventurous, Horowitz certainly developed an imagination that produces stories with wondrous appeal. Young readers quickly discover that Horowitz thinks that 14-year-olds are extremely cool. Alex Rider, his protagonist in this series, is approximately that age.
After his uncle’s untimely death, Alex Rider is recruited by the British secret service, MI6. Using fantastic gadgets provided for him by “the Firm,” a lot of creativity and his own intelligence, Alex manages to complete the missions he is assigned. Although he always manages to escape, it often seems that he is thought of as expendable by those sending him out.
In Snakehead, the newest addition to the series, Alex travels from the slums of Bangkok, through the Australian outback to the Timor Sea. We catch up with Alex Rider as he crash lands off the coast of Australia after a trip into space. (For more about how Alex ended up traveling in space, check out Ark Angel.) He is then recruited by the Australian Secret Service to infiltrate one of the most ruthless gangs operating throughout South East Asia. The gang, known as the snakeheads (hence the book title) smuggle anything: drugs, weapons, even people. Alex agrees to work the mission for the chance to work with the man he knew to be his Godfather. The nearly constant action and clever gadgets will definitely hold the attention of young readers; the convoluted plot will satisfy even die-hard fans of the series.
The action packed Alex Rider novels begin with Stormbreaker, which is followed by Point Blank, Skeleton Key, Eagle Strike, Scorpia, Ark Angel and now the newest addition Snakehead. Anthony Horowitz has written two other series: The Gatekeepers and The Diamond Brothers Mysteries. Alex Rider’s first adventure Stormbreaker has been adapted for a movie.
Check out Alex Rider in the Young Adult area at the Uinta County Library, 701 Main Street, 789-2770.

Reviewed by Claire Francis

Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Tony DiTerlizzi, is a fast paced series with enough “ooooooooh” to keep most children reading--without giving them nightmares. The story begins with the children of the Grace family and their mother moving into Aunt Lucinda’s Victorian home. Mallory, Simon, and Jared see The Spiderwick Estate as old, run down, spider-filled, dusty, with strange noises come from the walls. While checking out the noises, Jared finds a secret room filled with knick-knacks. The room belongs to Thimbletack, a grumpy household brownie that doesn’t like his things disturbed. Jared upsets Thimbletack by searching for and finding a book titled Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. Despite the warnings of the brownie and his brother and sister, Jared keeps the book, setting the stage for the rest of the series.

The Field Guide has a “grossness factor” that many young readers will enjoy. Once you start reading this short diary-like book, you cannot put it down. Now would be a wonderful time to read this fascinating adventure before seeing the movie put out by Nickelodeon and Paramount pictures. The books and movie will entertain as well as teach valuable real life lessons. The Spiderwick series contains 5 volumes, The Field Guide (#1); The Seeing Stone (#2); Lucinda’s Secret (#3); The Ironwood Tree (#4); The Wrath of Mulgarath (#5). Also by this author are supplemental Spiderwick books: Care and Feeding of Sprites, The Nixie’s Song, and Authur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. This series will be loved by both children and adults and can be found at the Uinta County Library.

Reviewed by Michelle Kallas

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Twilight is defined as the period of the day diffused with light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, from sunset to nightfall. It is also a state of uncertainty. This is undoubtedly the state faced by Bella Swan in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.
Bella, a clumsy 17-year-old girl from Phoenix, Arizona is exiling herself to sunless Washington to live with her father after her mother has recently remarried. She expects nothing except unhappiness in her dreary new home, but what she discovers is much more -- what she discovers is Edward Cullen. Bella embarks on an adventure full of danger, secrecy and romance that begins with a glance at a table of teenagers that are too beautiful to be human. There is something not quite right about the Cullen family, but what is it? No one has ever gotten close enough to find out… until Bella. Everyone seems to have a natural aversion to the Cullens that Bella just can’t understand. What she does understand is that something about them is just wrong.
Edward will have nothing to do with Bella until the day she is almost killed in a car accident. Edward, who is in one instant standing across the parking lot and in another pushing Bella out of the way of certain death, can no longer hide his strange abilities from Bella. Edward warns her that a relationship between them will only put her in danger. Bella tells him that it is already too late. The more she knows about Edward the closer she is drawn to him, but how close is too close?
This Young Adult novel is for readers of every age. Suspenseful and thrilling, you’ll find yourself unable to put it down. Stephanie Meyer puts a new spin on a classic narrative by mixing danger, love, and humor in a perfect combination. Bella and Edward are characters that are easy to relate to and hard to forget. Bella’s adventure will have you biting your nails from start to finish. Simply put, Twilight will leave you thirsty for more. This book is available at the Uinta County Library, 701 Main St.

Reviewed by Michelle Kallas

Friday, August 10, 2007

Harry Potter and and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

The wait is over. The speculation has ceased. The final chapter of the seventh book of the Harry Potter series has been read and relished. Rowling did not disappoint. If you’re one among the jovial crowd that waited in line at midnight last Friday and eagerly started reading while you stood in the check out line, you already know this. If on the other hand, you are one of those who scratch their heads and wonder why Harry Potter costumes come in adult sizes, perhaps this review can create enough interest that you see beyond the frenzy to the classic elements that make Harry’s saga a true hero’s journey. There are no spoilers here, so if you haven’t finished the book read on without fear.
From the first book, Rowling established Harry as an unassuming hero raised in neglect and contempt that belie future greatness. There’s also no doubt from the start that Harry has a destiny linked inexorably to the powerful dark wizard from whom he bears his famous lightening bolt scar. Honing magical skills and facing interim challenges from He Who Must Not Be Named over the past six years, Harry is coming of age. Along with his best mates Hermione and Ron, Harry is on a search for horcruxes, those significant, but unknown items where the Dark Lord has hidden pieces of his soul that assures he can always rise from the dead. If war is days of boredom broken up by spaces of sheer terror, the companions are indeed at war. As in previous volumes, things are rarely as they appear. Help comes from unlikely sources, former enemies provide surprising assistance, minor characters play pivotal roles, and loyal friends return kindness shown in the past. In the larger scheme, Rowling underlies the action with a message of the power of love. Not the sappy, shot through the heart kind, although we see a sprinkling of that, but the larger brotherhood of mankind love, the kind of love that allows you to give your life for another. War is not without losses. Strength comes after hardship and pain. It’s after you’re willing to give all that the true magic happens.
Rowling’s success doesn’t lie in showing us a magic world different from our own, but one so similar that we can see ourselves being tested to the very limit as Harry is tested and hoping that we, too, are up to the challenge. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is available at the Uinta County Library, 701 Main Street.

Reviewed by Suzi Worthen 8/3/2007

FreeFire by C. J. Box

Readers of C.J. Box’s novels all hoped that Joe Pickett wouldn’t be out of the action for long and our hopes have been fulfilled in Box’s new book “FreeFire”.
Joe Pickett, the game-warden protagonist of six previous C.J. Box novels, was fired from his post at the end of the last book in the series and many readers wondered what could happen in the future. Joe is back, albeit as a “special projects” warden working “without portfolio” for the walk –on-the-wild –side Governor of Wyoming. He is sent to investigate murders in the so-called “Free Fire Zone” or “Yellowstone Zone of Death”. The premise behind this aspect of the book is that there is a zone in Yellowstone National Park where a crime can be committed and there are no people to form a local jury for the criminal’s trial due to a loophole in Federal, District and State jurisdictions.
This is a very thought provoking subject and is handled well by Box in the development of the story.
Given the diversity of the park that the author has chosen as backdrop for his book, there are several ideas with which he works. Corrupt government officials, unscrupulous bio-engineering companies out to exploit the park’s unusual resources and the vast wonderland that is Yellowstone are the main themes.
The book has all the action that readers have come to expect of Joe Pickett, but one wonders if Joe is losing his moral compass as he is exposed to ever-increasing violence and murder. Joe Pickett’s conflicting emotions when faced with a moral dilemma in the fulfillment of his duties is one aspect of the character that readers enjoy most, but he seems to have lost that in this book.
There is, however, no conflict in knowing who the bad guys are in the story. Mr. Box seems to have fallen prey to the popular idea that readers won’t be able to differentiate between good guys and bad guys without the foul language spewed by the latter. The author should give the readers credit to be able to recognize the black hats by their deeds and actions without the overuse of foul language.
That said, C.J. Box has crafted a familiar and complex character in Joe Pickett and the new book “FreeFire” provides as much enjoyment as the previous books in the series. This book is recommended for anyone who enjoys action, thought-provoking plot elements and the Western landscape.
C.J. Box lives outside of Cheyenne and is a native Wyomingite. All of his Joe Pickett novels are available at the Uinta County Library.

Reviewed by Carol Archer 6/22/2007

Ireland: A Novel by Frank Delaney

Three winter days in 1951 change the course of Ronan O’Mara’s life forever. A lone traveler seeks shelter at the O’Mara home. He is a Seanchai, a teller of tales and stories of Ireland’s rich past. This brief connection with the Storyteller sets Ronan on a path that inevitably redefines his entire reality. Thus starts Frank Delaney’s Ireland: A Novel.

With carefully arranged chapters that mix historical tales with the plot, Delaney crafts a novel of a people irrevocably linked to their land, their culture, and their Technicolor history. What seems at first to be merely a pleasant entertaining read quickly becomes much more as the Storyteller begins the story that is Ireland. Even readers reluctant to pick up a history text will find themselves transported by stories of Newgrange, Saint Patrick, Brendan, Finn MacCool, the Book of Kells, Brian Boru, and the Battle of the Boyne. Historical facts are accurate and well-researched. Characters are thoughtfully developed and believable; there is a realistic mix of angst and joy, sorrow and happiness, urban degeneration and bucolic rural flavor. Ronan O’Mara and his family prove to have lives full of secrets. Just when you think you’ve figured out why the plot has turned a certain direction, the author reveals a crucial detail that suspends all conjecture. Why is Ronan's mother so cold toward him? What is the truth withheld from Ronan which threatens to shatter his reality? What unspoken secret lingers as Uncle Toby leaves a gold ring in John O'Mara's casket? Will Ronan succeed at finding the Storyteller again after so many years of searching for his would-be mentor? These questions and others keep the pages turning.

Frank Delaney, born in Tipperary, Ireland, has enjoyed a career spanning more than 30 years' work as a broadcaster for RTE Radio and Television, the Irish State Network. Contributions include work on documentaries, music programs, and time spent as a newsreader. Five years of work as current events reporter with the BBC in Ireland led to a move to London where Delaney took up arts broadcasting. Other credits include film writing, hosting his own talk show, and creation or writing of hundreds of other broadcast programs. Since writing his first work in 1979 (James Joyce's Odyssey), Delaney has penned five additional non-fiction titles, nine novels, one novella, and numerous short stories. He currently lives in New York and Connecticut.

Ireland: A Novel is available at the Uinta County Library. Call 789-2770 for more information. You can find us online at

Reviewed by Leslie Carlson, Uinta County Library 6/8/2007

Graphic Novel Nancy Drew Series by Stefan Petrucha

Remember reading the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene? Wish you could get your kids interested in such fun, clean books? Try the new Graphic Novel Nancy Drew Series by Stefan Petrucha, based on the books of Carolyn Keene. They are great books for teens and pre-teens, and you might even like them just as much as the original series. This new series gets better with each new release. If you’re still not so sure about them, keep reading. By the time you finish this article, you may want to read the whole series!
Parents may not find the idea of graphic novels appealing for your teens. The name itself can strike fear into the hearts of parents. They are called graphic novels because they are one part graphic, or drawn, and one part novel, or story. Think along the lines of a book length comic, but don’t call them that! A lot of people think that graphic novels are all picture with little story, but this is not true. The images are just as important to the story as the text. Graphic novels are also a faster read, and for those teenagers who don’t like to read a lot the graphic novel may be the perfect book.
Some of you might remember reading Nancy Drew as a teen or a pre-teen. Carolyn Keene’s Nancy was a teen girl, always willing to help those in need, especially if it involved a mystery. Stefan Petrucha’s Nancy Drew is pretty much the same, except that she’s been modernized for the teens of today. The mysteries themselves are still creative and enjoyable, and there’s usually a good laugh tucked into the story too.
In The Charmed Bracelet, the latest in the Graphic Novel Nancy Drew series, Nancy becomes involved in the mysterious disappearance of an important computer chip. Nancy receives a charm bracelet with clues to the whereabouts of the chip, hence the name. With the help of her friends, Bess and George, Nancy takes the case and sets out to find the missing computer chip. On top of that, Ned Nickerson, Nancy’s boyfriend, is thought to be a thief! It’s a great story and has an interesting ending.
All the novels in this graphic series are pleasant, exciting, and highly recommended, and all are available at Uinta County Library at 701 Main St. Check out the new Nancy Drew in Graphic Novel form today!
Review by Kim Walter 4/2007

Beka Cooper: Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Winter doldrums got you feeling a bit stale? For a breath of fresh air, try picking up one of the new books from the Young Adult (YA) section on your next trip to the library. Although the target audiences for these books are teens, adult readers will also enjoy many of them, Terrier, the newest offering from Tamora Pierce, is a good one to choose.
The main character is Beka Cooper, and her life’s ambition is to be a good “Dog,” as the city’s law enforcement officers are called, in the underbelly of the city Corus. This area is known as the Cesspool for good reason, and it is where Beka was born and spent most of her childhood. Fortunately for Beka, the Provost, who runs the city’s law enforcement, pulled her from a life of poverty and its traps. Young Beka reveres him as a father figure and eagerly embraces his sense of duty towards their city.
As she is just a novice, still being trained in the skills she will need, Beka is known as a “Puppy” and sent out to learn the ways of the streets with a pair of experienced “Dogs.” Her eagerness for the work and her uncanny abilities to communicate with ghosts combine to set her squarely in the dangerous tangle of kidnapping and murder that is plaguing the Cesspool.
One of the most enjoyable things about this book is the author’s clever use of language. An example of this is the metaphor of “Dogs” for the forces of law, and “Rats” for the criminal element. Pierce stays consistent in the details, too. For instance, a “Puppy” is a youth in training to be a Dog, the home station is called a “Kennel,” and Rats” are “fetched” to the “cages.” By the book’s end, Beka herself has earned the nickname of Terrier, a type of dog originally bred to catch rats.
Not all of the magical details flow smoothly, but the use of pigeons as temporary carriers for the souls of the dead is fascinating and well crafted. The action clips right along, and although some readers may figure out who the guilty parties are before the final reckoning, the story of Beka’s growing comprehension and competence makes the trip worthwhile. The questions left by the bare-bones explanation of Beka’s childhood, and the nature of the character herself, leave the reader hoping for more to be written about Beka and her career as a Dog.
Those who like “Terrier” and can’t wait for a sequel may wish to read the many other books by Tamora Pierce. She has written more than a dozen books, and they can be found in the Young Adult (YA) section of the Uinta County Library.

Review by Nonie Proffit 3/2/2007

The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman

After a wait of over two years, Tony Hillerman is back. In The Shape Shifter, Joe Leaphorn is again at center stage. Shape shifters are a part of Native American transformation myths. There is a name in Navajo mythology for their worst kind of witch. In one translation it comes out “skinwalker,” in another “shape shifter.”
Joe Leaphorn, recently retired from the Navajo Tribal Police, is drawn into this latest case when he receives a note with an interesting enclosure from an old acquaintance. Melvin Bork and Leaphorn were fellow westerners who became friends in the east at the FBI academy many years earlier. Their paths had not crossed often over the years. With the note was a picture of a Navajo rug that had appeared in a recent copy of a magazine called Luxury Living. In the magazine picture, the rug was hanging on the wall of an upscale home in Flagstaff. Hillerman’s description of the rug and the story behind its weaving are an added plus. This particular rug, known as “Woven Sorrow,” was priceless, one-of-a-kind and supposedly destroyed in a fire at a trading post many years earlier. The investigation of this fire and the death it caused was one of the first cases Leaphorn worked on as a rookie. He still has unanswered questions about it.
If the rug was authentic and had not been destroyed, perhaps some of those questions demanded answers. As Leaphorn recalled the case, there were other unsolved cases in the area at the time. One particular case, involving grouchy old Grandma Peshlakai and the theft of two buckets of pinyon sap, came to mind. After paying her a visit, he had more questions rather than answers.
Leaphorn finds himself quite alone in this investigation. His colleagues, Jim Chee and Bernie Manuelito have recently married and, though back from their honeymoon, are still on leave. Being retired, Leaphorn no longer has access to the resources of the Navajo Tribal Police. As he traces the threads of the investigation, the passage of time has obscured many details but it has also given a few clues. The conclusion may surprise longtime readers of this mystery series.
Because this book does not keep the standard of writing and editing Tony Hillerman set for himself, longtime fans of may not find this their favorite, but they will not want to miss it. Readers new to Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee mystery series may want to read titles as they appear in the series beginning with The Blessing Way, then Dance Hall of the Dead, Listening Woman, and People of Darkness. The Shape Shifter is the eleventh in this series.
Hillerman was brought up among Native Americans and has spent most of his life among them. He expresses in his writing an extensive knowledge of and respect for their customs, religions and folklore.
Tony Hillerman is a former president of the Mystery Writers of America and has received their Edgar Award in 1974 for Dance Hall of the Dead and Grand Master Award in 1991. He has also received the Silver Spur Award for the best novel set in the West.
The Shape Shifter and earlier Hillerman novels are available at the Uinta County Library.

Reviewed by Claire Francis 1/4/2007

The Gift of Valor by Michael M. Philips

On November 10, 2006 President Bush announced that Marine Corporal Jason Dunham would be the second American serviceman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq. Michael M. Philips’ book The Gift of Valor tells the story of this Marine, his comrades and family. It tells the story of Cpl. Dunham’s heroic actions, but it also tells the story of the heroic actions of medics, nurses and doctors, of social workers, friends, families and communities. The book ties together the effects of war on not only the combatant, but also those that support him. It does not stop with the action on the field but also shows the stress of the families who have loved ones serving during a time of war.
Phillips, a Wall Street Journal reporter, is embedded with the 3rd Battalion, Seventh Marines. He strives to tell their story as a reporter and without bias. He does not attempt to glorify men or war, nor does he vilify politicians or strategy. He simply reports. This leads to a book that shows Americans in extreme situations who are determined to do the job they have been assigned, and in many cases their actions can seem heroic to the reader. But the book does not just glorify people, it also shows some who make poor decisions and even others being forced by the situation to make the agonizing decision to allow one Marine to die, so that others may receive medical aid and live.
Not only does Phillips tell the story of Marines in the field, but he also tells what happens when they become wounded and enter the medical evacuation system, from rudimentary aid stations, to field hospitals, to military hospitals in Europe, and finally the US. This journey shows other Americans who fight a war of their own, not with guns and bullets, but with needle and sutures. This trip through the medical chain is often eye opening and heart wrenching.
Finally the book tells of the anguish that the families live through, knowing their loved ones are in a combat zone. It shows the fears that become realities when Marines become casualties. And it tells the frustrations that families feel, trying to get information, the worst situation being not knowing. Conversely, it shows friends, families and communities pulling together to offer support to the affected.
These multiple facets originate with a small group of Marines, but then spread, like ripples on a pond, encompassing others, from medical personnel to friends and family. The book shows Marines in battle, doctors and nurses striving to keep the wounded alive and families waiting by the phone. It stretches from dusty streets in Iraq, through Germany, to a small town in upstate New York. In many ways the book shows the horrors of war, the agony of the survivors and the tragedy of death. But it also shows goodness in people, faith and sacrifice, unity and strength. It is a story that needs to be told, and has been, well.
The Gift of Valor is available at the Uinta County Library in both book and book on CD formats.

Dale Collum, Uinta County Library 2/2007

Under Orders by Dick Francis

Dick Francis is back! After a six-year hiatus in his writing career he rides again. Sid Halley, the star of three former novels, is an ex-champion jockey. A crippling injury forced him into retirement in Whiphand. Sid hasn’t appeared since 1995 in Come to Grief.
Dick Francis has written more than 40 books in his career, and most are involved with the English horseracing scene. Although the racetrack is central to each story, the books also involve such diverse topics as meteorology, banking, painting, and kidnapping. There is always something interesting to be learned from a Francis novel. In Under Orders, DNA mapping is introduced. In Proof, it’s the wine business, and in Smokescreen, film production is paired with racing.
The action starts at Cheltenham, a very popular racecourse, with three deaths on Gold Cup Day. The Gold Cup is a famous race offering a substantial purse. Thus begins a rather unusual for a day at the races, even for Sid Halley. He discovers the body of jockey Huw Walker, with three bullets in him, shortly after being asked to investigate a possible race-fixing scheme. Race-fixing is a chronic problem in high-stakes racing, and is coupled with the newer concern of internet gambling in another on-going investigation of this remarkable story.
This is Francis at his classic best, with excellent characterizations, fast pace and full of suspense. The ending has a nice twist and even a nice bit of romance involving Halley’s new significant other person. This book is highly recommended—as are all forty others of his as well.
Under Orders is available at the Uinta County Library. Call 789-2770 for more information. You can find us online at, or just type WYLD on your search bar and check out Wyoming’s information portal! From the WYLD site you can access your account, renew your books, put books on hold, and look at all the new databases.

Reviewed by Mary Hipol, Uinta County Library 11/17/2006