Thursday, July 20, 2017

A few more selections...

...from among the reviews of the Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups!

What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty

Reviewed by Margaret B.     

I will preface that I am a fan of Liane Moriarty's style. I like that her characters are moms--usually living in Australia. There is always a mystery or questionable event that is uncovered in layers as you learn more about the characters. In What Alice Forgot, our main character Alice hits her head and forgets the last 10 years of her life. Her last memories are of being happily married and pregnant with her first child. Now, 10 years later, she has three kids and a pending divorce, and doesn't remember any of it! I did really love the fact that she wakes up to a skinny body (that's my fantasy). We follow with Alice as she searches for who she has become and what happened to make her so. Well done, engaging. Made me reflect on how my own life has changed in 10 years. If you have enjoyed Big Little Lies, The Husband's Secret, or any other L. Moriarty books, I highly recommend What Alice Forgot.


I'll Be There, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Reviewed by Kelly R.     

This wasn't a book that I finished in one sitting. The subject matter was difficult for me to take all at once. My father was a social worker with Children's Services, and I heard more stories of child cruelty than I ever wanted to hear. In fact, there were times In this book that I thought I wouldn't be able to pick it up again because I just couldn't stand the thought of something terrible happening to the two brothers at the hands of their father or the system. However I'd find myself picking it up, skimming ahead a few pages to make sure that nothing outrageously terrible had happened, and then continuing to read. I'm glad I did. The author writes an inside perspective from every character in the book. She even gives us the perspective of a black bear. That method is probably what kept pulling me back in. I was interested in all of the characters, even if I didn't particularly like all of them. I wanted to know what would happen to everyone, not just Sam and Riddle, who had my heart from the beginning. I loved the way everyone's story evolved. Contrary to my fears, the ending was extremely satisfying. It's the happy ending that I wanted, with all of the loose ends wrapped up without it seeming too contrived or saccharin sweet. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA books, compelling characters, romance, difficult life situations, survival, IHOP, golden retrievers, words typed on pages...It's a great book.

Editor's note: I love this book. There is also a sequel, Just Call My Name. I didn't love it quite as much, but if you want to know what happened to everyone...    


Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri

Reviewed by Joanne L.    

It is no wonder this book is a national bestseller. Author and Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri has the ability to truly capture the delicate thoughts and feelings of the vulnerabilities in human experiences and cultural dynamics. Unaccustomed Earth is a book of eight different stories. The stories are centered on different lives of people from the Benghali culture who are living in America, and the various family secrets and struggles they experience. Part one contains five separate stories, told from a woman's perspective as a child reminiscing about a boy she had a crush on. The second section is from the boy's perspective. The third section is the girl, now grown up, bumping into the boy become a man, later in life.

What originally interested me about this book was that the author is female and she writes about cultural barriers and transitioning in America. I liked the use of different perspectives, from someone observing and talking about another character. She eloquently takes the reader into the depths of her characters' struggles. I appreciated her ability to capture human struggles, culture, and relationships. I felt touched by her language and also by the beauty of the internal battles the characters face.


by David Grann

Reviewed by Denise D.     

This account of the "Reign of Terror" on the Osage Reservation after oil was discovered in the 1920s reads like the murder mystery it is. David Grann (The Lost City of Z) has done a meticulous research job and presents the narrative in a skilled and compelling way. Because our government deemed these Native Americans not competent enough to handle their own affairs, they were assigned white "guardians," many of whom systematically stole thousands of dollars from the Osage and murdered them. When the local authorities did nothing to solve these murders, the newly formed FBI became involved. This book should be required reading for all Americans.


Thunderbird, by Chuck Wendig

Reviewed by Darrin B.    

[sequel] Thunderbird continues the story of Miriam Black, a feisty mid-20s girl with a curse: She is able to see the moment of someone’s death. This book and series is not for everyone. Wendig mixes humor with a crudeness one might expect from a character who is witness to the death of every person with whom she comes in physical contact. While this may seem too dark for some readers, the bright spot comes from the fact that Miriam has discovered how to intervene and change those circumstances. In book four of this series, Wendig has taken Miriam on a quest to find the one person she thinks can help her be rid of the curse. Fair warning: This book (and the series in general) contains adult themes, language, and a storyteller who likes to describe death in vivid detail. But I found the book enjoyable, with plenty of humor and twists that kept the pages turning. I would also recommend reading this series in order. Several characters and plot lines may be hard to follow without knowing what occurs in the first three books. If you like tough, smart-alecky heroines who survive against all odds, consider giving this series a try.

Editor's note: The previous books, in order, are Blackbirds, Mockingbird, and The Cormorant.


Our Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups runs through July 27th. It's not too late to sign up, log some book reviews of your own, and become eligible for one more weekly drawing, plus our three grand prizes: a $100 gift card for The Castaway restaurant; two tickets to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour; or a $100 gift card for The Smoke House restaurant!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Author Event With Ben Mezrich: Woolly



Ben Mezrich is a New York Times bestselling author who has a knack for finding an interesting story and telling it awfully well. Among the many books he has written on a variety of subjects—whatever catches his fancy, it seems—he was the author of The Accidental Billionaires, which was the basis of the award-winning movie The Social Network. He’s going to be at our Buena Vista Branch at 7:00 p.m., this Wednesday July 19th, to talk about his new book, Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures.

The woolly mammoth is an extinct creature that, like dinosaurs, has migrated into the mythical and imaginary world of childhood, the star of animated films such as Ice Age. Adults might dismiss Mezrich’s subject as beneath their notice, but that would be a mistake. For what is perhaps the most curious thing about Woolly is that it is a story about how a creature we assumed would remain imaginary is now on the threshold of becoming a part of our world. That’s a rather startling and mind-boggling thing, one that will cause you to wonder just how impermeable are the walls between science fiction and reality. What we imagine about the future we think might come true, but the past coming back? That's a different kind of story.


Our display about the event at the Buena Vista Library includes
some early artist's conceptions of the woolly mammoth,
drawings that also speculate about its fate.
Mezrich's narrative shows how various cultural and technological streams have converged at this point in time to make this intriguing reversal possible. It isn’t easy to explain the charismatic appeal the woolly mammoth has for our culture. Perhaps it has something to do with the creature being improbable looking, a reflection of an awkwardness we all sometimes feel; maybe it is because we think of large lumbering herbivores as gentle and companionable creatures, and wooliness as comforting or endearing; maybe there is, too, some sense of guilt generated by our environmental awareness of the role humans have played in the extinction of so inoffensive a creature. Whatever the reason, the iconic image we carry of the woolly mammoth makes the idea of bringing it back both more appealing and less dangerous than, say, a T-Rex!

Unlike the science fiction of dinosaur resurrection in Jurassic Park, reviving the woolly mammoth is—or will soon be—a biological possibility. Dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago, and never a trace of their DNA has been found or is likely ever to be found. The last woolly, however, lived about 3,000 years ago, and the remains of many have been found frozen in the cold northern wastes. It is unlikely that woolly DNA will be found intact, even given that relatively shorter period of time, but some fragments have been found of the woolly’s genome, and scientists have a partial sequence of it. Without complete DNA the cloning of a mammoth is not possible, although Mezrich hints at the intriguing possibility that a South Korean lab may have recovered from the ice a specimen that had frozen blood and DNA. We don’t know for sure. The major focus of Woolly, however, is on newly developed technologies for genetic engineering that may allow scientists to construct a genome that will produce a facsimile of a woolly mammoth, for all practical purposes a mammoth (if it walks like a duck, etc.).  This is being worked on by geneticist George Church’s lab at Harvard, and Church and his team are the major characters of Woolly.

Librarian on an event-related field trip to the La Brea Tarpits.
Revival of the woolly mammoth seems to need some rationale other than simple curiosity; it must be more than just a project that showcases genetic engineering technology. In fact, Mezrich chronicles the heady notion that the woolly mammoth is the potential savior of our planet. Experiments of scientists living in Siberia have shown that the reintroduction of mega fauna (such as the mammoth) into the landscape can significantly reduce the temperature of the region's permafrost. The mammoth was a keystone species of the physical environment and ecosystem created by Pleistocene mega fauna. Why is this important?  Because of global warming, the permafrost is in danger of melting.  If it melts, it will release into the atmosphere more carbon dioxide than humans have been responsible for in all of their reckless history.

So Mezrich gives us a narrative that presents the rationale and explores the science. It all adds up to good odds that we will see the woolly mammoth again. The case of the woolly mammoth highlights the thorny ethical issues posed by the entire subject of our newfound ability to genetically engineer our environment to improve human health, longevity and the survival of our species. Mezrich’s neatly constructed scenario leaves us with many questions. Do you have one? Join us on Wednesday night. Things could get interesting.

Everyone is welcome to this event, but it would not be appropriate for young children; even though they may find woolly mammoths endearing, they will not understand the issues or the science that will be discussed. It would, however, be a great event for older children, teens, and adults!


Sunday, July 16, 2017

This week at the library...

MONDAY
Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

ROBOT CAMP BEGINS!
Students will build and program a robot for the library using LEGO MINDSTORMS at a week-long mini STEM camp. This workshop is FULL.





TUESDAY

The SCENE OF THE CRIME book club is cancelled for July. Meetings will resume in August, on Tuesday the 15th. Call Naomi at 818 238-5620 with questions.



WEDNESDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

AUTHOR VISIT with BEN MEZRICH
Ben Mezrich has published 18, including the New York Times bestseller The Accidental Billionaires, which was adapted into the Academy Award–winning film The Social Network, and Bringing Down the House, which was the basis for the hit movie 21.

Mr. Mezrich will be discussing his newest book, Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive one of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatureswhich has already been optioned for a film.

This program is part of our Summer Reading Club for Grown-Ups, but EVERYONE is welcome to attend.

THURSDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 5:00 p.m.

LITTLE FREE LIBRARY: Encore Décor!
Since we haven’t yet finished with the intricate, highly detailed decoration of the three Little Free Libraries (our summer teen project), we have scheduled additional sessions to complete the work:

THURSDAY, JULY 20th, from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
FRIDAY, JULY 21st, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Team LFL, please come and finish up these wonderful additions to our community’s life with books!


Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

GENRE-X BOOK CLUB
(not your mother's book club)
Genre-X is a book club for Millennials and Gen-Xers to hang out, drink coffee, and read short, interesting books. We meet the 3rd Thursday of each month upstairs at the Central Library. (Look for the signs!) The club has read and will discuss Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli.









FRIDAY
Central Library, 2:00 p.m.

Foreign Films presents...
WILD TALES
Made up of six stories, Wild Tales is an entertaining and jaw-dropping film about people crossing the line into madness when faced with perceived injustice. A lover's betrayal, a return to the repressed past, and the violence woven into everyday encounters drive the characters to lose control and cross the line that divides civilization and barbarism.
122 minutes / Rated R
This film is in Spanish with English subtitles.


Buena Vista Branch, 2:30 p.m.

See notation above re: Little Free Libraries: Encore Décor!


SATURDAY
Central Library, 10:15 a.m.

MUSIC & MOVEMENT
A program for preschoolers and their families: Join us for a fun introduction to movement, coordination, rhythm, and dance! We'll be dancing using shaker eggs & scarves, and listening to music.






Buena Vista Branch, 5:00 p.m.

Teen Summer Reading Finale:
BODY IN THE BOOK SHOP!
You’re at a celebrity book signing at the Scene of the Crime bookstore. Suddenly, a voice cries “MURDER!” It’s…BODY IN THE BOOK SHOP!

WHO DUNNIT? with WHAT? and WHY? YOU question suspects, search for clues, and SOLVE THE MYSTERY!


An after-hours, lock-in program for TEENS IN GRADES 7-12 ONLY.
Dinner and dessert will be included.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Aunty Andie recommends...

Andrea B-K from the Buena Vista Children's Room brings some children's picture books to your attention...

A Whale in the Bathtub, by Kylie Westaway;
Illustrated by Tom Jellett
Really, what more need one say than that there is a whale in the bathtub? No one will be surprised that it is silly. Unexpected, however, are the conversations that attempt to be logical within the illogical. This will appeal to the older spectrum of picture book fans (especially those trying to avoid a bath!).

The Sound of Silence, by Katrina Goldsaito;
Illustrated by Julia Kuo
This beautiful book comes with a Multicultural sticker on it. The library uses that sticker to call attention to books that portray other than the dominant culture or which encourage empathy with a different point of view. This one takes place in Japan, and explores the Japanese concept of Ma – the silence that separates sounds. In it, a small child goes in search of the sound of silence. It is easy to love how the story respects a child’s quest to understand a concept, explains a complex idea in a way all can access and, in the process, also offers a glimpse of a child’s life in Japan. I would also recommend this book for "word artists" of all ages. (A Charlotte Zolotow Award nominee)

The Moon’s Almost Here,
by Patricia MacLachlan;
Illustrated by Tomie de Paola
If you are a fan of Tomie dePaola’s art, you will be pleased to see this collaboration with Ms. MacLachlan, and, if you have not seen one of dePaola’s books before, this is a great introduction. A minimalist goodnight story that has one a child and a Pierrot figure watching the world shut down for the day and following the moon’s rise in the sky. This is the perfect story to wind things down without your child realizing that’s what you are doing.

Busy Builders, Busy Week! by Jean Reidy;
Illustrated by Leo Timmers
Great trucks and great silliness colorfully build a project that’s not revealed until the end of the book. Days of the week are taught as the book progresses, but it doesn’t feel like a lesson.

The Lion Inside, by Rachel Bright;
Illustrated by Jim Field
Children often feel small inside because they are small on the outside, so they will identify with the mouse in this story. Mouse believes that his lack of friends and seeming invisibility to other animals is based on his size. His solution is to try to learn to roar like a lion--and to learn it from the best! What Lion and Mouse both learn, however, is “we all have a mouse AND a lion inside.”

Mighty Truck, by Chris Barton;
Illustrated by Troy Cummings
This book is a Venn diagram of where trucks, superheroes, and dirt overlap. Troy Cummings’s images are tailored to a slightly older crowd than Barton usually aims at, and are fun and dynamic.


The Blobfish Book,
written and illustrated by Jessica Olien
Yes, picture books are fun and visually interesting but there's nothing that says they have to be "just" stories. Facts and images about the lowest level of the sea are interspersed with the other thrust of the book, in which the blobfish has a running patter about looking for himself and then talking about his feelings after the narrator states that the blobfish was voted "most ugly." Teaching facts, empathy, and friendship all in one book is pretty amazing.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What you're reading: Good books for summer

The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George

Reviewed by Ellen M.

A splendid, delicious story! A book apothecary, who gives you the books you need, goes on an adventure to find the countryside of his lost love. He meets with others along the way, who are also searching for something lost, and they travel the waterways of France in a book barge. Life and death, love and hatred, food, healing, finding what's lost or missing, friendship...a beautiful story that filled my senses with delight.

Editor's note: If you prefer to listen, we also have this as an audio book.


Little Beach Street Bakery, by Jenny Colgan

Reviewed by Laura B.

Polly Waterford has just lost everything: her business, her home and her boyfriend. Wanting to make it on her own, she moves to the only place she can afford, a run-down, filthy flat on an island far from the yuppie lifestyle to which she is accustomed. There she throws herself into her hobby of baking bread, which is about the only thing that brings her any comfort these days. Little Beach Street Bakery is a cozy read about starting over and finding yourself along the way.

(Editor's note: I really enjoyed this book as well. The scene is set on an island similar to St. Michael's Mount, near Cornwall in England, which has a causeway that is sometimes open to the mainland and sometimes covered by water. This creates some interesting situations for all the characters, from the local fishermen to the crotchety landlady to an unexpected love interest. The sequel, Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery, is likewise delightful.)

Reviewed by Melissa E.

This is a book for book lovers, for people who like to read about books, readers, and reading. It started a little slowly, and while I expected the protagonist, Sara, to feel awkward when she arrives from Sweden to stay with her friend Amy in Iowa only to find that Amy has just died, the awkwardness lingered a really long time--in the story, not just with the protagonist. Eventually, however, things begin to happen, and I started enjoying the quirkiness of this virtual ghost town and its offbeat inhabitants who are finding revitalization through the presence of this strange and unassuming book-loving young woman from Sweden. There are events and relationships that are highly unlikely and stretch the boundaries of belief, but that's the kind of book it is--fanciful, idealistic, sweet. I enjoyed it. A good, light summer read.


Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes,
by Elizabeth Bard

Reviewed by Fay P.

This nonfiction book is a combination of cookbook and love story intertwined. It takes you on an adventure, revealing the differences between Paris and the United States in so many ways you probably never thought about or noticed. Elizabeth, an American journalist based in Paris, falls in love with a Frenchman, Gwendal, as they eat delicious foods at cafes and in their apartments. The recipes are at the end of each chapter, and have significance in their love story and marriage. She also writes of the challenges: a different language and culture for both of them; adjusting to a different style of living life; finding new friends. This was not a semester abroad, a holiday, a tryout. This was Elizabeth’s life. As she says, “When you decide what you want to keep, you also decide what you are willing to forget.” After much soul-searching and angst, she decides that, for all of us, we need to do what makes us happy and it is not always driven by money and status symbols. Life is a rendezvous with the unexpected!

Elizabeth Bard also released a second book, Picnic in Provence, which details their decision to move to Provence and start a family. See also her blog at www.elizabethbard.com for more recipes, photos, and commentary.




All of these books have been read and reviewed by members of the Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups! You can join too...go here to sign up! Win prizes, attend programs...it's all fun at BPL this summer!





Sunday, July 09, 2017

This week at the library...

MONDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

Family Show (Kindergarten and younger)
presents...
FINAL PARTY WITH RANGER JACK
(stories & songs)
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and share the joy of reading.







TUESDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Summer Storytime is for children entering Kindergarten and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.



Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

Family Show (Kindergarten and younger)
presents...
FINAL PARTY WITH RANGER JACK
(stories & songs)
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and share the joy of reading.








Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.



Teen Summer Reading presents...
BOOK CAFÉ
Book Café is where teens share what they're reading, trade books, and hang out for coffee house style refreshments. They can also meet authors: Tonight, meet Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother!

This is the last Book Café of the summer, so if you have attended three of the four sessions, tonight you get to pick your FREE BOOK! Prize drawings for Cory's books tonight, too, and a special gift for all attendees (while supplies last). This program is for teens in grades 7-12 only!

(Grown-ups who want to see Cory—he's doing another author event for ADULTS at BPL on August 10, so come see him then!)

WEDNESDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

Family Show (Kindergarten and younger)
presents...
FINAL PARTY WITH RANGER JACK (stories & songs)
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and share the joy of reading.


Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

SUMMER READING CLUB (Grades 1-6)
Final party with ONE WORLD RHYTHM

Open to kids in grades 1-6 only. Due to limited to space, parents and caregivers must wait outside the meeting room.







THURSDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

COMPUTER 101: NAVIGATING ONLINE
Discover new searching techniques and tips and tricks for navigating online. Learn how to determine if a website is reputable and how to protect your privacy.

This class is offered today, July 13 OR Saturday, July 15. Space is limited. Call 818-238-5580 to reserve a spot.







Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER READING CLUB (Grades 1-6)
Final party with ONE WORLD RHYTHM


Central Library, 3:00 p.m.

SUMMER READING CLUB (Grades 1-6)
FINAL PARTY
Open to kids in grades 1-6 only. Due to limited to space, parents and caregivers must wait outside the meeting room.




Buena Vista Branch, 10:15 OR 11:15 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Summer Storytime is for children entering Kindergarten and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.

A ticket is required to attend either session (10:15 or 11:15). A limited number of tickets will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis the morning of the program at the Children’s Reference Desk.



Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

Outdoor Concert, with...
MARIACHI DIVAS!
Bring your blanket or a lawn chair and join us for a FREE outdoor concert! The Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Divas are a multicultural, all female ensemble imbued with the unique musical flavor of Los Angeles. This program is part of our Summer Reading Club for Grown-Ups, which runs through July 27. EVERYONE is welcome to attend this program. You can sign up at burbanklibrary.com. Read books. Write reviews. Attend programs. Win prizes! And enjoy the summer. (Our final concert is on July 27: Innisfree Irish Band at Northwest Branch Library.)



FRIDAY
Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Summer Storytime is for children entering Kindergarten and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.





Central Library, 2:30 p.m.

Teen Summer Reading presents...
LEGOTOPIA! BUILD A BETTER WORLD
Join PETER ABRAHAMSON and BRANDON GRIFFITHS, LEGO experts and enthusiasts, to design and build LEGOTOPIA! No experience is necessary, and all materials are provided—just bring your enthusiasm and creative ideas! Building a better world is challenging, so let’s start with a LEGO City and work our way up from there. After building the city, we will display it inside the glass case in the Central Library lobby. This program is for TEENS in grades 7-12 only! 


SATURDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

COMPUTER 101: NAVIGATING ONLINE
Discover new searching techniques and tips and tricks for navigating online. Learn how to determine if a website is reputable and how to protect your privacy.

Space is limited. Call 818-238-5580 to reserve a spot.







Friday, July 07, 2017

What we're reading: Perfect escapist fare

The Misses Winwood have a problem: Their brother Pelham has inherited the family's Fatal Tendency. Their father gambled away much of the family fortune before he died, and now their feckless brother is wagering and gaming away the rest. The family has no other recourse but for Elizabeth, the eldest (and most beautiful) of the three Winwood sisters, to make an advantageous marriage; fortunately, the extremely wealthy Earl of Rule has decided it's time for him to marry, and is set to propose to her. There's just one problem: Elizabeth is in love with Edward Heron, a poor but worthy army officer. She's willing to sacrifice her happiness for the sake of her family, but the youngest sister, Horatia, is determined not to let that happen. So Horatia makes a daring move by going to the Earl and offering herself in Elizabeth's stead. The Earl is amused and intrigued by young Horry's determination, and agrees to accept her as his bride. But what has Horatia gotten herself into?

Kitty Charing was adopted and raised by Matthew Penicuik. Now Uncle Matthew's gout is acting up and he has decided it's time to settle his estate--but he picks a controversial way to go about it. His ward, Kitty, gets it all--but only if she marries one of his four single great-nephews: Hugh, a straight-laced parson; Dolph, an Earl with less sense than a goose and an overbearing Mama who keeps him in line by threatening the insane asylum; Freddy, a fashionable man about town; and Jack, a devilish rakehell and the stuff of romantic girls' dreams. Kitty has had a tendre for Jack since childhood, and when he doesn't respond to Uncle Matthew's summons, she is quite put out. So she devises a way to accomplish two goals: make Jack jealous enough to "come up to the mark" (i.e., propose), and get herself out of her uncle's pinchpenny household and up to London for the Season; she persuades Freddy to ask for her hand! She promises him it's only a betrothal, nothing more, and that at the psychological moment she will "cry off." Freddy isn't entirely entranced with this solution, but wants to help Kit, and so the plan is put in motion. Obviously, complications ensue.
     
These are the set-ups for The Convenient Marriage and Cotillion, two of the many delightful historical romances by Georgette Heyer that have been re-released in the past few years in trade paperback by Sourcebooks Casablanca. I discovered Heyer's books on the library shelves in musty old hardbound cloth covers when I was 13 years old, and was immediately entranced. Unlike more conventional romances, in which the girl often sits around waiting for her hero to sweep her off her feet and save the day, Heyer's heroines are plucky and ingenious, and manage both their fates and their men with panache. It is considered that Heyer essentially invented the historical romance genre, and created the subgenre of the Regency romance. The historical details are integral to the stories, and, while being precise and meticulously researched, are so seamlessly woven into the larger narrative that you never feel imposed upon by "information." Heyer said she was inspired by the writing of Jane Austen, and indeed, you can hear echoes of Austen's characters in the conversational gambits of Heyer's, but the books are lighter and less literary, and combine the best of British writing with a wonderful humorous element of French farce.

Heyer was born August 16, 1902, and wrote her first book in 1921 at the age of 19, as an entertainment for her ailing younger brother. She published up until shortly before her death in 1974, writing more than 30 Georgian and Regency romance novels, as well as half a dozen historical novels, and a dozen thrillers. Try a few--they're perfect escapist reading, and isn't that what you want during a long, hot summer?

Other favorite titles of mine:
These Old Shades (actually not a Regency novel, this one is set in France during the reign of Louis XV)