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December 12, 2004 Edition

The Perfect Mile, by Neal Bascomb

Back in 1952, there were only three people who believed it was humanly possible to run a mile in under 4 minutes: Briton Roger Bannister, Australian John Landy, and American Wes Santee. The three runners, defeated at the Helsinki Olympics, each returned home with a new goal in mind – to break the 4-minute mile barrier. Follow along as the three approach their goal and finally break the barrier, one at a time.

Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack, by Charles Osgood

Osgood, a CBS newscaster, writes about being nine years old during the first stage of American involvement in World War II in this humorous and poignant memoir. Whether he’s calling his favorite baseball players to tell them their latest game stunk or wondering how the pumpkins and daisies in the victory garden would help win the war, Charlie moves through life with curiosity and exuberance, accompanying himself with a continually changing soundtrack of favorite folk and show tunes.

Grant Comes East, by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen

Continuing their alternate Civil War history series, Gingrich and Forstchen follow Lee, who has won the battle of Gettysburg and is now marching on Washington DC with a plot to capture Lincoln and bring the Union to its knees. General Grant is on his way to save the capital, but hampered by bickering among politicians and generals, may not make it in time. Then, Grant makes a surprise move that sends Lee running in this dramatic and realistic rewriting of history.

Secret Smile, by Nicci French

Miranda is young, single, and wondering if she’s going crazy. She dumped Brendan after she caught him reading her diary, but now her charming and handsome ex has started dating her big sister and has her family wrapped around his little finger. Is Miranda just jealous of her sister’s happiness, or right to be uneasy? In this creepy, well-written psychological thriller, even you won’t know till you’ve reached the end!

Late Bloomer, by Melissa Pritchard

Prudence is a broke single mother teaching “Advanced Personal Journeys” at the local community college when she meets transvestite romance writer Mildred Crawley. Mildred, who is dying, is looking for a successor to finish writing her immensely popular white-woman-meets-Native-American romance series, and decides Prudence is it. Soon, Prudence is learning to write torrid romances, even as she has begun one of her own. Part romance, part parody – all fun read!

A Christmas Journey, by Anne Perry

Fans of Perry will welcome this Christmas novel, which features Aunt Vespasia of the Thomas Pitt novels as a young woman. Perry’s ability to uncover the meaning behind events saves this holiday novel from being simply the tragic story of a young woman’s suicide and makes it instead into a story of friendship and loyalty. At the beginning of the holiday season, friends gather together on a Berkshire estate, but the joy of the season is marred by the death of Gwendolyn at her own hand. Vespasia accompanies her friend Isobel to find Gwendolyn’s mother in the north of Scotland and tell her of her daughter’s death, and in the process, learn the truth about her life.

Little Scarlet, by Walter Mosley

Mosley It is 1965, and rioting has devastated Easy Rawlings’ part of Los Angeles. Now, a white man who escaped a beating at the hands of a black mob has disappeared, after killing the black woman who sheltered him, and the police are afraid of triggering more riots by conducting an investigation in the neighborhood. When they knock at his door, Easy expects the worst, but in fact, they want him to help uncover the identity and whereabouts of the killer. And Easy complies, all the while helping translate the significance of the riots to the whites he encounters. As much a window into history as a murder mystery, this is a great read.

Dumping Billy, by Olivia Goldsmith

Goldsmith has gained a wide following for her wacky premises that turn into fun and witty novels, and this one is no exception. Bar owner Billy Nolan has a reputation unique from all the other cads of Brooklyn: every woman he dates and dumps finds her true love in the next man she meets. So, when Kate Jameson’s best friend’s fiancé breaks off the engagement, Kate has just the answer. If she can interest Billy in Bina, then get him to dump her, and if Kate can have Jack-the-ex waiting at the right moment, then everything will work out. Won’t it?

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