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Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Heist - Laugh, Smile and Be Entertained!

Janet Evanovich has released an exciting new novel written with Author/Screenwriter/Producer Lee Goldberg (who is best-known for the Monk series of novels.)

The Heist introduces a new female lead character who shoots like a sniper, eats like a starving man, and amazingly (to her) can con the pants off nearly anyone! Kate O'Hare is an ex-Navy Seal turned FBI agent who has spent five years chasing down elusive con-man and thief Nick Fox...only to have her world turned upside down when her bosses decide she and Nick should team up to bring down a man who has embezzled five hundred million dollars and disappeared. With Nick planning the elaborate con, a buxom woman named Willie as their wheel-woman, and two others working to set the scene; Kate must put aside her moral and legal objections and learn to play well with others...and resist her new-found desire to play a game for two with the sexy and charismatic Nick.

If you enjoy Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels (or any of her other series for that matter) I would recommend this title for you. You will laugh, smile, and be greatly entertained. This book is available for purchase in bookstores, or through the public library in book, Ebook, or audiobook formats.

Review by Diana McCarthy, Community Librarian in Falkland


Monday, January 27, 2014

Alone in the Classroom: Intriguing and Multi-layered

Over the holidays I read Alone in theClassroom by Elizabeth Hay (2011). Once I started reading, I could not stop until I had finished it.
Reading tastes, of course, are very personal, often depending upon your state of mind at the time. I had enjoyed her Giller Prize-winning Late Nights on Air (2007) & A Student of Weather (2000), so I looked forward to reading her latest novel. Set in small town Saskatchewan & the Ottawa Valley, the plot revolves around the experiences & memories of Connie Flood, who starts out as a young teacher in small town Saskatchewan in 1929. Other memorable characters include Principal Parley Burns, menacing & creepy (who moves through the school "like mustard gas in subtle form") & Michael, a dyslexic student who is tutored by Connie. The love & hate triangle between these three allows Hay to explore how our past resides in our present. The story spans several generations, from 1929 to 2008, narrated by Connie's niece, Anne. While doing research into her mother's childhood, Anne becomes fascinated by the life of her adventurous aunt.
Hay's novels are always strongly character-driven & include landscape & small town life as significant characters in themselves. The tale is not without drama, with one murder & other mysterious events. Although Alone in the Classroom starts a bit slowly & it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the characters, it is an intriguing, many-layered tale written in Hay's always richly poetic language. Aritha Van Herk, in her Globe and Mail review, says, “Alone in the Classroom is meant to be read slowly, or even better, read twice. The story that unfolds, replete with poetry and even richer and more rewarding the second time around.”

Diana Inselberg is a retired librarian and resident of Enderby.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review: The First Phone Call from Heaven

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

“What if the end is not the end?”
An allegory about the power of human connection and the power of belief is the basis for Mitch Albom’s latest book. Mitchell Albom is an author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His previous books, such as “Tuesdays with Morrie”, “For One More Day”, “The Five People You Meet In Heaven”,  have collectively sold over 35 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages around the world; and have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies.

“The First Phone Call from Heaven” is spiritual without being preachy, is sentimental without being sickly-sweet, and while not necessarily a tear-jerker it will tug at your heart, so have the Kleenex handy for the end of the book. Publishers Weekly describes Albom as having a nose for ‘thin places’: places where the boundary between secular and sacred is porous, and ultimate meaning is easier to encounter. A story of loss, grief, hope, forgiveness, miracle and faith, this book climaxes around Christmas, which is kind of fitting. As the year comes to a close the novel can be a catalyst for reflection of all that has been in 2013 and the endless potential that is before us in 2014. There are many quotes within the book that provided me with a fresh prospective about the grandness that is life and all things in it.

There are two stories for every life; the one you live and the one others tell.”

“Bad news has no limits. We often feel it should, like a rainstorm that can’t possibly get any heavier. But a storm can always worsen, and the burdens of life can too.”

‘Miracles happen quietly every day – in an operating room, on a stormy sea, in the sudden appearance of a road side stranger. They are rarely tallied. No one keeps score.”

Regardless of whether your belief is placed in a higher power or just in yourself, I guarantee you will find this an affecting novel about coping, reminiscing, and living—because all of these things can happen, even if you lose someone you love. Albom's message is about the importance of healing and keeping faith in our lives.

Review by Naomi Vancaillie, Community Librarian at the Peachland Branch 



Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Review: The Crown Tower

Meet Hadrian and Royce. 
They are complete opposites who are thrown together by happenstance (and a wizard) and form a unique bond.  This bond reveals itself during their many adventures as thieves (but it is okay as they put the stolen book back).  Hadrian is a blacksmith’s son who turned mercenary who turned thief who turned into a do-gooder.  Royce is an orphan who turned into a murderer and thief and then a do-gooder. Each has secrets that aren’t even known to them and through this book and the rest of the series the reader keeps learning a bit more about this unlikely pairing until finally the secrets are revealed.  Hadrian and Royce’s adventures span years and include meeting a prince, a princess, an empress, goblins, elves and wizards. 
The Crown Tower is the prequel to a trilogy that was written earlier called the Riyria Revelations.  The second book of the prequel is also available and is called The Rose and the Thorn.  You can read either of the prequels or the trilogy first. 
This is a series that you don’t want to put down and you don’t want to end.  The author writes in his postscript that if the fans want him to continue writing the adventures of Hadrian and Royce then he will so here is hoping that fan outcry continues these exciting, funny, fabulous stories.
Review by Annette from Mission Branch

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Wintery Books for Inside and Out!

Winter is a wonderful time to share books with your family. Below are some great book suggestions for the wintery months ahead. Snuggle up with a mug of cocoa and stay warm inside reading or put your mittens on and get outside for some wintery fun!

Heartwarming winter picture books:
Get outside! Winter activity books:


Suggestions by Ashley Machum,Youth Services Librarian
Kelowna Branch, Okanagan Regional Library

Friday, January 10, 2014

You Have An eReader or Tablet …Now What?

Were you lucky enough to get an eReader or tablet for Christmas?  That's awesome! Now you can’t wait to download free library digital books from the library’s ORL eBooks collection to your device.  But before you get too far ahead, here are a few words of advice to make the process easier for you. 

You need a library card to borrow library eBooks.  Click here for information on getting a library card, or phone or visit your closest branch to make sure your card has not expired.   Also, you will not be able to borrow eBooks if you have fines over $20, so you might want to take care of that :)
Get to know your device as much as possible before getting library staff to assist you.  Library staff may not be familiar with all of the devices out there, so we’ll be relying on you to know your device!  Some things you should know before bringing your device to the library:
  • How to access and change the Settings on your device
  • How to download apps to your device
  • How to close apps on your device
Check with your local branch to see if staff can provide assistance with your device.  You can make appointments in some branches such as Kelowna, Vernon, and Salmon Arm, and staff will sit down with you and show the basics of downloading library eBooks.  Some branches, however, may not always have the staff time to provide in-depth assistance. 
If library staff are able to help with your device, please ensure the device is set up before bringing it to the library.  Staff may not be able to assist if the device has not been set up or is ‘fresh out of the box’.  Consult any documentation that came with the device (‘Quick Start Guide’, etc).   You may have to search for the device User Guide on the Internet.
Again, please take time to learn how your device works first before asking library staff for assistance downloading library eBooks.  This will make the process much faster so that you will be downloading free eBooks that much quicker!

There’s also help online to help you get started.  Click here for our Help page, where you’ll find basic instructions on getting started with using eReaders and tablets with the ORL eBooks collection. You’ll find video clips for most devices, and additional instruction here (provided by OverDrive, the company that distributes digital books to this and other libraries).

If you have any questions, you can email us at or call us toll-free at 1-855-85EBOOK. And have fun!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Okanagan Reads for Kids

Read … right out of the gate! Join the Okanagan Regional Library as we kick-off our annual Okanagan Reads Book Club.

Saturday, January 11th from 11 am to 1 pm
K & S Elite Equestrian Centre, 3830 Casorso Rd, Kelowna

Meet this year’s author, Julie White. See some young riders in action and enjoy a free hotdog and hot chocolate as well as a pony ride. Fun for all ages!

Okanagan Reads for Kids is focused on kids aged 8 to 15. One Okanagan – one author: enjoy any one of Julie White’s four books about horses, friendship and adventure. Take part in some of the great activities in your local library branches, and win some great prizes, including iPad Minis as well as family packs for Caravan Farm Theatre and the Armstrong IPE, when you enter our bookmark, story-telling and book trailer contests! All details are available at

Julie White, a Canadian Children’s author from Armstrong, has written 4 books in a series.  Her first book, The Secret Pony, has won the “Our Choice Award” and was nominated for the “Chocolate Lily Award”!  In addition to writing, Julie is also a Pony Club Examiner, riding instructor and course designer. She lives on a horse farm in Armstrong with her husband, Robert, a former jockey, where they raise thoroughbreds for racing and jumping.

“The Secret Pony”:  When Kristy finds out that her neighbor’s pony, Lancelot, whom she has been taking care of and riding, is going to be sold, she secretly buys him. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get the chance to tell her busy mother and has to hide him at a friend’s stable. After the secret is discovered, and Lancelot shows an act of bravery, Kristy finds the support she needs coming from a most unexpected source.

“High Fences”:  In order to stop their farm from going into foreclosure, Faye allows her grandmother to sell her fantastic pony, Robin.  The new owner, Nicole, a spoiled rich girl, learns the “secret” of how to handle him from Faye. In the end, Faye helps Nicole and Robin in a very important competition and all three share a secret together!

“Riding Through Fire”:  Twelve-year-old Kristy and her pony, Lancelot, are asked to help in their first cattle round-up, but she ends up being partnered with a 14 year-old boy, Jesse, who treats her badly.  When Jesse and his horse get lost in a raging fire nearby, the amazing Lancelot saves all of their lives.

“Under The Wire”: Reid, a 16 year-old boy, holds down the fort when his jockey mother ends up in the hospital after a serious fall during a race.  However, when she recovers she announces that she is getting out of the jockey business and wants Reid out, too!  But Reid wants a future as a jockey and will try to prove to everyone that he’s got what it takes to get in first under the wire.

As librarians, we know the difference that reading makes in children’s lives – helping improve their school marks, teaching them empathy, preparing them for a successful future - all while having fun! We hope you will encourage your children to participate in Okanagan Reads for Kids!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Host - Skip the Movie, Go Straight to the Library for the Book!

            I recently watched The Host (directed by Andrew Niccol) which is a film adaptation of the book The Host written by Stephanie Meyer (of the Twilight Saga fame.) Once again I was reminded why I prefer to stick to either just reading the book (forget the movie), or forgoing reading the book and just watching the movie. When you do both - you are bound to be somewhat (or sometimes greatly) disappointed in the movie adaptation...

           The Host (book) by Stephanie Meyer was first published in 2008 and received some acclaim at that time though it was overshadowed by the “Vampire-Fever” her Twilight Saga was starting! The book’s basic plot involves an alien species that requires human bodies to inhabit. Generally during the process the human psyche/soul/? is displaced or lost; though some humans have a strength of will that cannot be squashed by the Alien life. A young woman (Melanie) who has been captured and made into a host fights strongly against the alien invader and manages to evoke the sympathy of the alien. Together they travel to find other humans who have been evading capture. The book is considered a Young Adult novel but is an enjoyable read for both the young and young at heart. 

            The movie greatly reduces the storyline to its bare-bones and simplifies a number of scenes and situations, but it is still fairly enjoyable (though probably more for those who enjoy a bit of romance.) I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something easy and enjoyable to read, and/or wanting to try something a little bit different. The movie I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t read the book (they will be less disappointed!) The library has several copies of the book and I suspect they will be purchasing the movie in the near future.

Review by Diana McCarthy, Falkland Community Librarian