My Lucky Life

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, by Dick Van Dyke, is entertaining reading. Dick Van Dyke made a decision to act mainly in family friendly productions, and his memoir follows that pattern. A funny, talented man with a very eventful life, Dick doesn’t dish the dirt, but the star of Mary Poppins, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Diagnosis: Murder, and Bye Bye Birdie shares enough to please his many fans. His long career included his first radio broadcast as a teenager, an early novelty act, television broadcasting, and success on screen, stage, and television. His family life, including his funny brother Jerry, his ex-wife Margie, their four children, and his longtime companion, Michelle Triola, are lovingly described. His spectacularly bad luck with cars is humorously told, while struggles with alcoholism and smoking are also shared. At 85, Dick Van Dyke is still going strong.                                 


Anne McCaffrey, 1926-2011

Science fiction author Anne McCaffrey died in Ireland on November 21, 2011. She was an award-winning writer for teens and adults, best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series. More information can be found here. I first read her books in college, discovering them at my college bookstore. The first book in the Pern series is Dragonflight.

Everything Sherlock Holmes

The original Sherlock Holmes stories and novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first appeared in 1887, 124 years ago. Ever since, readers have been fascinated by the brilliant, eccentric detective and his friend, Dr. Watson. Many other mystery writers have continued to write about Sherlock Holmes. These are some of the most recent books:

The House of Silk, by Anthony Horowitz, 2011.
This mystery was commissioned by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Magic Bullet: a Locked Room Mystery featuring Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock Holmes, by Larry Millett, 2011. Set in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1917. Sherlock Holmes makes only a brief appearance.

The Mary Russell mysteries by Laurie King feature a semi-retired Sherlock Holmes and his young neighbor Mary. They work together in eleven mysteries; beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and appearing most recently in The Pirate King, 2011.

A Study in Sherlock, 2011.
A collection of short stories by notable mystery writers.

The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes and the Shakespeare Letter, by Barry Grant, 2010. Sherlock Holmes was frozen in a Swiss glacier and revived 80 years later.

Sherlock Holmes: The American Years, 2010.
Ten original stories by various writers set in the American West when Sherlock was young.

The Baker Street Letters, by Michael Robertson, 2009.
Two lawyers, Reggie and Nigel Heath, rent Sherlock’s old apartment and sign a lease agreeing to receive all letters sent to Sherlock Holmes, and end answering them. Followed by The Brothers of Baker Street, 2011.

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper killings by Dr. John H. Watson, by Lyndsay Faye, 2009.

The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 2009.

The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures, 2009.

Sherlock Holmes in America, 2009.

The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls, by J. Robert King, 2008.

Sherlock Holmes: the Unauthorized Biography, by Nick Rennison, 2005.

The Italian Secretary: a Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes, by Caleb Carr, 2005. Sherlock Holmes tries to save the life of Queen Victoria.

A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullin, 2005. Here Sherlock Holmes is 93.

The Irene Adler mysteries by Carole Nelson Douglas, beginning with Good Night, Mr. Holmes and finishing eight books later with Spider Dance, 2004.

Sherlock Holmes and the Hapsburg Tiara, by Alan Vanneman, 2004.

Shadows over Baker Street, 2003.
Stories about Sherlock Holmes set in the world of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.

My Sherlock Holmes: Untold Stories of the Great Detective, 2003.

And last, but certainly not least: The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle, edited by Leslie S. Klinger, 2005.


Ship Breaker

 Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi

This is the unlikely book I recently selected for the library’s evening book discussion group.  An award-winning dystopian novel written for teens was not an obvious choice, but the group found it interesting and discussible. Dystopian fiction has become popular for teens and adults, but what is it? Dystopia fiction is often set on Earth in a possible future where something has drastically changed, and not for the better. In 1984, it’s government and civil rights that have changed. In Life as We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, an asteroid hits the Moon, sending it closer to Earth, and causing climate upheaval and power outages. In Ship Breaker, climate change has led to higher sea levels and destructive hurricanes. Petroleum powered vehicles are gone, and corporations seem to have taken over from government. New Orleans has been submerged, rebuilt, and destroyed again. Nailer, a young teen boy, lives in a shack on Bright Sands Beach and works as light crew stripping copper wire from inside tankers abandoned on the Gulf coast. His father Richard is an abusive addict, and only his crewmate Pima’s mother Sadna is a trustworthy and caring adult. After a storm, Pima and Nailer are looking for shell fish when they find a wrecked high-tech clipper ship, with one young survivor. Their choices and adventures could end Nailer’s life or bring some luck into it. Luck and fate, loyalty and hard work are the main principles of Nailer and Pima’s world. Ship Breaker is a fascinating look at a world we hope won’t happen, and the memorable characters who inhabit it. Read more about the book and the author here .