As You Like It

Literary news, book reviews
and more…   rss-icon 

    by Emily M | Apr 18, 2016
    Looking for a book recommendation? Look no further!  Here’s a few good books I’ve enjoyed recently:

    Last Child in the WoodsLast Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

    The reasons behind why we choose to read the books we do are manifold: to be entertained, to escape reality, to challenge ourselves, to learn something new.  Sometimes, we choose a book not to be challenged or learn something new, but to validate what we already believe.  “I’m not the only one who thinks such-and-such!” we say.  “It’s right here in black and white, so it must be true!”  Now, obviously not everything in every book is true.  Walk into any public library and you’ll find books with opposing claims on any given topic, both claiming to be correct.  The wise reader uses careful discernment and, as a librarian, I know how important this is.  Nevertheless, sometimes I choose a book simply because I want validation for what I already believe, and I admit that was the case with Last Child in the Woods.

    In Last Child in the Woods, Louv makes the claim that today’s American children do not spend enough time playing outside in nature.  Louv explores why playing in nature is important (for physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual reasons), why children today no longer play outside as much as previous generations, and what we can do within our own families, in our communities, and as a society to increase the amount of time children spend in nature.  Although Louv relies heavily on anecdotal evidence, he also includes a significant amount of scientific research to back his claims.  As the parent of two young children, making sure my children spend an adequate amount of time playing in nature is one of my goals, and Last Child in the Woods encouraged me in something that often feels counter-cultural. 

    I do have two criticisms about Last Child in the Woods that I feel the need to share.  First, I dislike the author’s use of the term “nature-deficit disorder.”  Obviously, he is playing off of attention-deficit disorder, but attention-deficit disorder is a recognized medical condition, while nature-deficit disorder is definitely not.  In the text, Louv acknowledges that nature-deficit disorder is not a medical condition, but the use of the term in the title seems like an unnecessary scare tactic to me, that could reflect on his integrity.  Second, at some points I felt Louv told too many stories and went into too much detail.  I feel this book could have been more tightly edited and a 25% reduction in word count would have created a book with more bang for its buck, and would have been less likely to turn off readers who approached the book with only a lukewarm interest.  Despite these concerns, I would highly recommend this book for parents and anyone who works with children (teachers, scout leaders, coaches, babysitters, etc.).

    SymphonyfortheCityoftheDeadSymphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson

    The Siege of Leningrad was an 872 day siege of the city of Leningrad in the Soviet Union (now St. Petersburg, Russia) by German forces during World War II.  It was one of the longest and deadliest sieges in history, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1.5 million people.  At the time of the siege, Dmitri Shostakovich was one of Russia’s most famous composers, and he and his family were residing in Leningrad.  Although Shostakovich and his family were safely evacuated from the city soon after the siege began, Symphony for the City of the Dead explores the ways in which the siege and Shostakovich impacted each other. 

    Shostakovich wrote his seventh symphony while his country was being invaded, then while his hometown was under siege, and finally as a hastily evacuated refugee.  (Shostakovich actually lost his partially completed score during the chaos of the evacuation.  It was found four days later in a puddle on the bathroom floor of the train on which Shostakovich was evacuating.)  Once completed, Shostakovich’s seventh symphony, dedicated to the city of Leningrad, was performed in Leningrad, across the Soviet Union, and around the world.  Although it’s impossible to know with certainty what Shostakovich really meant for the music to “say” or represent, many claimed that it was about the German invasion of Russia and the symphony quickly became an anthem of sorts amongst the allied nations against Nazi totalitarianism.  Claims have been made that Shostakovich’s seventh symphony played a major role in the war effort, from lifting the morale of soldiers to convincing allied nations to send aid to the Soviet Union.  In Symphony for the City of the Dead, Anderson presents the facts, while also exploring the likelihood of the myths surrounding Shostakovich’s seventh symphony.  This is a great book for music lovers and history buffs alike.  


    BeatrixPottersGardeningLifeBeatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places that Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales by Marta McDowell

    Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was an English author and illustrator of children’s books, including her classic The Tale of Peter Rabbit.  McDowell’s biography of Potter is unique; it focuses most closely not on her writing career, but on her greatest love – gardening.  At age 40, Potter used the profits from her books to purchase a cottage on 34 acres.  This was the beginning of her life as a gentlewoman farmer, and for the rest of her life, her writing would provide the financial means to continually expand her acres of gardens, pastures, and orchards. 

    Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life is divided into three sections.  The first section is a traditional biography, chronicling her life from birth to death, while paying close attention to the influences of gardens and gardening on her life, including her career.  The second section explores a year in Potter’s gardens, describing the plants she chose for her gardens, and the seasonal rhythms of work they required.  The final section describes a visit to Potter’s gardens today (She left most of her property to the National Trust and much of it can be viewed by tourists.) and gives tips on how to make the most of one’s trip there.  All of this is interesting in its own right, but what makes this book shine are the photographs and illustrations.  Nearly every page features photographs of Potter’s gardens (past and present) and watercolors done by Potter herself, with all of the charm and whimsy one would expect of her work, making this book a visual treat.       


    EmilyLong before becoming a librarian, Emily was an avid library patron. She enjoys reading fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, and classic children’s literature. Her favorite book is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.


    by Sara P | Apr 14, 2016

    Editor's Note:  Originally published on September 12, 2014.  Look for Sara's 2016 update at the bottom of the post!

    As a little girl, going to the library was always one of the highlights of my week. We lived just a block or so away from the Georgetown Branch, so my sister and I often walked to the library with my dad. We worked our way through the Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka books and the Serendipity series and my dad would read to us each night before bed. As I began to read on my own, I got all of the Beverly Cleary titles. My best friend and I visited the library throughout our grade school years and recommended books to each other. Young adolescence brought me Judy Blume and Sweet Valley High novels.

    me and my sister in the Georgetown Library’s storytime room

    The library was always a refuge to me. It was a place I could go to read about whatever topic I wanted. It was a place where the librarians knew my name, because they had watched me grow up. I was always a voracious reader, and the library evoked such fond emotion for me; I knew that I wanted to be a librarian when I grew up. When I realized the true scope of a librarian’s job (not sitting checking books out all day), I was undeterred. I was also interested in all of the other aspects of the job — organization, education, and technology!

    I worked part-time at the downtown library through college. I met so many people and loved the hustle and bustle of working downtown (especially with free parking!). Once I received my degree and became a Librarian with a capital L, I worked in the IT department, assisting with technical projects and digitizing historic photographs. When the new downtown library opened after renovation, I worked for five years in the main hall, helping people find what they needed in that giant building. What neat experiences. I was so lucky to enjoy my jobs so much.

    But three years ago, I was given the opportunity to return to the Georgetown Branch. Though the space was not the same as when I was a child, it was like returning home. This is still my familiar old haunt, though there is much more light in this beautiful new building. Many of my former neighbors and classmates are patrons who visit, often bringing their own children — the next generation of Georgetown library patrons (and, who knows, maybe the next generation of Georgetown librarians!). I hope to welcome and inspire them and instill the love of reading and knowledge that was planted in me here.

    Sara at the Georgetown Library July 2014

    2016 update:

    I have now been working at the library for over 17 years, and am coming up on my fifth anniversary at Georgetown. I still love it here as much as ever! I am grateful to have a job that I love so very much, helping people every day.

    Sara P
    Sara is a librarian, technology lover, and parent who loves to read fiction. Her favorite book is Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.

    by Cathy B | Apr 13, 2016


    Charles Shepard

    A Talk with Charles Shepard
    , Director of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, in the Stacks of Art, Music & Media.

    “Libraries to me are as much an experiential place as going to a gallery or museum.  I don’t think many people understand how fortunate we are to have public libraries.  Truly, you can educate yourself on any topic in the world, free.”

    Charles Shepard has been the Director of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art since 2003. 

    Growing up in the small town of Bath, Maine he was introduced early to libraries, to a very old library, the Patten Free Library.  This library was founded in 1847. Construction began on the new library in 1889 and was finished in 1890.

    Patten Free Library

    Charles discovered the library when he was a young teen.  There was a beautiful park, rarely used, that was a great place to sit and read.  He was amazed at the bounties of the library and asked the librarian if he could come in and sit there in the library and look at things.  He was amazed that they let him stay there all day. Most of his weekends were spent in the library, it was like a club house for him and it gave him an excuse to stay out of trouble.

    He continues to be a frequent library patron.  He loves to go camp out at one of the tables with a whole stack of books and play with them for hours.  He says, “So often you come for things that you need but more often than not I come here on a Saturday or Sunday and start by looking at the new book covers but then I wander the stacks and see what looks interesting.  To leave without 8 or 10 books for me, I haven’t been successful. People don’t know what they can find in the library – it’s not like shopping, you can’t just go in and buy a quart of milk and leave, you have to poke around.”

    His advice for browsing the collection:  “A good way to choose a book is to look at the title on the spine rather than the cover because if the title interests you, you may like the book more than if you succumb to the attraction of the cover.”

    He also uses ACPL for reference.  We found a book on Myanmar artMyanmar Style: Art, Architecture and Design of Burma by John Falconer, that Charles was able to check out to help him answer questions on the Myanmar collection currently on exhibit at the museum.

    Charles says that he mostly reads history.  He recently read The Big Short  and just ordered a new book about the role of the U boat in WW2.

    by Craig B | Apr 11, 2016

    cover of Harper Lee's To Kill a MockingbirdBook Review:  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    It is now probably impossible (for at least a few more years, anyway) to talk about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (which did win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961, by the way) without also talking about Go Set a Watchman, Lee’s 2015 sequel (and original idea) to the masterwork.  Controversy aside (if you’re like, ‘what controversy?’ just google 'Go Set a Watchman' and you’ll see), I found Go Set a Watchman interesting, timely, and a successful proof that Harper Lee really could write, proof that To Kill a Mockingbird wasn’t just some sort of weird one-off.  That said, I think that To Kill a Mockingbird is probably my preferred work.  I’m not sure Go Set a Watchman, if it had been released in 1960 instead of Mockingbird, would have brought readers in in quite the same way. 
    Watchman is more nuanced, more cerebral, and less able to get readers talking about the issues at the heart of it.  Mockingbird, on the other hand, runs deep yet is relatable to readers of all ages and tastes.  Scout and Jem and Dill and even Mrs. Morphine (Mrs. Dubose) engage us emotionally and intellectually as we witness the wide spectrum of their experiences.  The book implies many things and answers few, relying on the power of its central metaphor to indicate any direction our conclusions should maybe, perhaps take.  And yet there’s a directness to the main character’s, Scout’s, experiences and her perception of them that tells us explicitly that something is wrong in the world and that that wrong needs to be made right. 

    Sound a little dreary?  Am I killing the vibe with all this verbiage? Well, here’s the thing, Lee’s story, To Kill a Mockingbird, is better than all of that, goes beyond all that I’ve described and, very simply, manages to leave us with hope.  No small feat for any story, let alone a story of such dark proportions.  In contrast, Go Set a Watchman’s accomplishment is to leave us with a very grown-up impression (and exhaustion) that there are no heroes in the world, there are only humans.  Disappointing as that may be, it is actually a disappointment in ourselves, our humanity.  Dreary again, huh? 

    Well, seize hope.  Read To Kill a Mockingbird again and again and again.  It’s good enough to get better each time.  And when you’re up to it, every once in a while, set down the book you love that lives close to your heart and pick up Go Set a Watchman, the now semi-inseparable companion piece, the book you hope to be able to love but is kind of like an unpredictable new neighbor.  Like the gain of a new neighbor (and the implied loss of an old one) Watchman offers a more difficult and dreary experience, albeit one that is important and not altogether without hope.  Which is key.  Because Hope, despite the glorious reputation that Love enjoys, has much to do with making the world go ‘round.  It is often solely responsible for getting us out of bed in the morning, and, thankfully, more than we may realize, gives us the energy to try again to understand the point that our neighbor is so diligently trying to make.  Because neighbors, you can’t choose ‘em.  But you can continue to hope that you will eventually find them to be people you are able to love.

    craig Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Craig B | Apr 08, 2016

    cover of Okkervil River's The Stage NamesI don’t know how to say this succinctly.  I recently came across the band Okkervil River and they’ve been around for such a long time without me being aware of them that I decided to listen to their back catalog (via Hoopla!) and, you know, it felt for a long time like maybe they weren’t sure who they wanted to be or maybe who fans wanted them to be or maybe they were just trying too hard but then The Stage Names happened.  The Stage Names, the album where the band seems to discover the flimsiness of fame, the insubstantiality of spectacle, the fickleness of fans, and makes an album anyway.  But this time more out of love than desire.  With The Stage Names, Okkervil River really comes into focus, and it has really shown me, the listener, just who Okkervil River is and can be in the future … which is, funnily enough, now … I mean it’s an old album.  What, 2007?

    Suggested Use: Need a soundtrack for going back to somewhere in your not-so-near-past?  Need some spectacle to add to the wry-smiling shadowland of yesteryear? A timid yet fond memory of things-once-thought and a life-once-lived.  Put away the Dave Matthews.  Here’s Okkervil River!

    craig Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Becky C | Apr 07, 2016

    Editor's Note:  Originally published April 25, 2013April is National Poetry Month -- here's a look back at one of our more popular posts celebrating this literary event.

    What I like best about poetry is that it invites us to look at everyday life in a different way.  Each poet accomplishes this in his/her own fashion but, generally speaking, poetry calls attention to itself immediately because it looks different — in the midst of a day filled with various news articles, emails, and maybe a few chapters of a really good book, the physical arrangement of a poem stands out.   Because it doesn’t follow the norm, it encourages us to take our time, savor the words, and appreciate its unique pace and rhythm.

    I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud is one of my favorite poems about spring but I’m also quite fond of Langston Hughes‘ April Rain Song.  If you’d like to hear Liev Schreiber recite it and you’d love to see some lovely rainy Disney images, click here.

    tulips in the rain
    by Kay S | Apr 06, 2016
    Yes, my little Petunias, it's once again time for a few upcoming releases. These releases will be coming out between April 15 and May 14, 2016. And, as always this does not apply to when they might appear on your local libraries shelf.

    Historical Romance
     celeste bradley Celeste Bradley 
    I Thee Wed

    Wicked Worthingtons series
    May 3  
     Lorraine Heath Lorraine Heath
    The Earl Takes All

    The Hellions of Havisham series 
    April 26
     Eva Leigh Eva Leigh
    Temptations of a Wallflower

    The Wicked Quills of London series 
    April 26
     shupe Joanna Shupe

    The Knickerbocker Club series 
    April 26
    Historical Fiction
     Belfer Lauren Belfer
    And After the Fire
    May 3 
    Contemporary Romance/Mainstream Fiction
     Backan Fredrik Backan
    Britt-Marie Was Here

    May 3
     murphy Monica Murphy
    Never Let You Go

    Never Tear Us Apart series
    May 3
      Susan Mallery Susan Mallery
    Best of My Love

    Fool’s Gold series
    April 26
    Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense/Romantic Suspense
    Allan  Barbara Allan
    Antiques Fate

    A Trash ‘n’ Treasures Mystery series
    April 26 
     Ayres D.D. Ayres
    Rival Forces

    K-9 Rescue series
    Romantic Suspense
    May 3
     Heather Blake Heather Blake
    Gone With the Witch

    A Wishcraft Mystery series
    May 3
     Linda Howard Linda Howard
    Romantic Suspense
    May 10
     johansen Iris Johansen
    Hide Away
    Eve Duncan series
    April 26
     Sanford John Sandford
    Extreme Prey
    Lucas Davenport series
    April 26
    Paranormal Romance/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
    Feehan  Christine Feehan 
    Fire Bound
    Sea Haven series
    April 26
     James Elliott James
    In Shining Armor

    Pax Arcana series
    Urban Fantasy
    April 26
     Kay Guy Gavriel Kay
    Children of Earth and Sky
    May 10
     palmer Ada Palmer 
    Too Like the Lightning
    Terra Ignota series
    Science Fiction
    May 10
     Lake Nick Lake
    Whisper to Me
    May 3
     Stiefvater Maggie Stiefvater
    The Raven King
    Raven Cycle series
    April 26
    Inspiration Romance/Mainstream Fiction
     Afshar Tessa Afshar 
    Land of Silence
    May 1
    historical fiction
     Sorrells Amy K. Sorrells
    Lead Me Home

    May 3

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Becky C | Mar 30, 2016
    Did you know that the Main Library has an Art Gallery?  We do!!!  Check out this video for a peek at the current exhibit.

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Cathy B | Mar 28, 2016
    The whole idea of writing this post came from walking back and forth through Art, Music & Media's stacks -- from the circulation desk to the workroom and back.  On the oversize shelf that I see every time I leave the workroom is a book that is very familiar to me:  American Art Nouveau by Diane Chalmers Johnson.  I have a copy on my shelves at home.  I know Dr. Johnson:  she was chair of the art department at the College of Charleston, SC (where I received my BFA) and my art history professor and advisor.  I babysat for her son. 

    Dr. Johnson is a tiny person and very neat and prim.  She was a really good teacher; her ideas were larger than teaching about the various art forms.  She wanted us to expand our concept of art and its place in the world.  I can still hear the swish and slap of the pointer on the screen as we viewed slide after slide in the dark.  She actually believed that college should offer an education --  not train one for a job.  The essay question on the final for Art Appreciation was:  the chair in front of the classroom – is it art?  Why or why not?  (I argued that it was.)

    Well, after seeing that book for the nth time I decided to look her up.  She still lives in Charleston and her son is now over 40!  She remembered me and we had a nice time catching up.

    American Art NouveauAmerican Art Nouveau offers for the first time a broad view of American art from about 1880 to 1910.  Unlike most books on Art Nouveau, it stresses the wealth of American art during this period, and also gives us a fascinating analysis of its background in American life.” (From the jacket)

    Art Nouveau was predominantly a style of decorative art which, very generally, included design that was inspired by vegetation and flowers with long sinewy lines and undulating form.  Louis C. Tiffany, Louis Sullivan (architect) and Will Bradley (graphic designer) were the major contributors to the art form in this country. 

    American Art Nouveau is an extensive history of the movement, its influences and the art itself.  There are lovely mounted color plates showing all forms of the art in America.  It is a beautiful book and contains a wealth of historical information on the art form.

    Check it out!

    by Becky C | Mar 25, 2016
    Ever wonder what library staff like to read?  Wonder no more!  Here's a quick look at some books we've enjoyed this month.  Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!

    Piece of Mind
     Life After Life
    A God in Ruins
     My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
     America The Last Best Hope
     Baking From My Home to Yours
     The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
     Sisters in Law
     A Mother's Reckoning
     Life Changing Magic
     Spark Joy
     H is for Hawk
     Midnight in Broad Daylight
     The Other Paris
     Quantum Night
     A Darker Shade of Magic
     Black Man in a White Coat
       Everything and More

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Evan | Mar 24, 2016
    Just MercyI appreciated Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption as much as any book I've read. It tells terrible stories about injustice in our country with such gentle compassion. Not just compassion for the victims, but, ultimately, for the many Americans who live in fear and pain and then hurt other people because of it. Some of them are criminals, some of them are law enforcement officers, some of them are voters. All of them -- all of us, Stevenson says -- are broken.

    Stevenson has devoted his long legal career to resisting unjust justice -- wrongful convictions, putting children in adult prisons, executing the mentally ill. He's won some big cases, but the book is ultimately less about courts than about spending your life trying to understand why we broken people do the things we do, and how we can at least try to help each other.

    Stevenson tells several stories skillfully, especially the one about the racist prison guard who was himself a badly broken human being. But the central case winding its way through the book is that of Walter McMillian. He was a black businessman who was having an adulterous affair with a white woman when he was framed and railroaded onto death row for a murder he had nothing to do with. Stevenson touches on the irony that the crime occurred in Monroeville, Alabama -- the same town that boasts about being the home of Harper Lee and even holds annual performances of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Stevenson eventually got McMillian freed, but six years in prison facing execution left McMillian so haunted that his attempt to make a new life for himself became a heart-breaking failure.

    Just Mercy is a book of advocacy, and I know there are other important takes on the crime stories Stevenson​ tells. The thing is, those approaches already dominate our news coverage and our pop culture and our politics. Our country needs more people like Bryan Stevenson. He's compassionate, courageous and effective. And, like E. B. White's Charlotte, he's a good writer.

    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Kay S | Mar 21, 2016
    Road Trip Timemaclean

    To be or not to be, that is the question. Or is the question, do I write a review right away or wait awhile and let it simmer. I have to say, if I had written my review as soon as I closed my book I would have gone down the road of glowing sunshine, butterflies and roses. But, I allowed myself to think about The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean for a while and recalled some things about the story I didn't particularly care for.

    My initial thoughts were that if you liked the movie, Romancing the Stone, you would like this book. Because that's what we sort of have here - a hero who is obnoxious and a heroine who is on a journey, but out of place. Really out of place. However, there are some things the book misses which the movie doesn't. For all of his obnoxious-I'm-right-alpha moments Jack Colton is never deliberately cruel to Joan Wilder. That is the biggest difference between Jack Colton and Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley. That is also the main problem I had with this book. If events or big reveals had been placed differently, I think this book would have worked better for me.

    Oh, woe is me. This was a hard book to review and I am torn, tortured, and tickled all at the same time. First we have our heroine, Sophie. She belongs to a family with four other sisters, the Talbot family. The sisters have been crowned with the nickname of the Dangerous Daughters by society. Their father has been raised up from laborer to being granted a title. Of course titles don't really mean anything unless one is born into them, right? All those titled ladies and gents seem to have forgotten that at one time most all of them were granted a title, unless of course they were born on the wrong side of royal blanket. Even on the wrong side, they received titles - can anyone say Monmouth/Cleveland/Richmond/Berwick and on and on. The English aristocracy is peppered with illegitimate ancestors.

    Anyway, nobility seems to have a pretty short memory and the Talbots have an awfully hard time being accepted into the high-falutin-hoity-toity society. Of course, even if they were accepted, they would still have all the scandals that the daughters, Serephina, Sesily, Seline, Seleste and Sophie court. Except Sophie doesn't actually court scandals. In fact she doesn't want to have anything to do with the hubbub which her sisters create. She hates the city and dreams of the simple life she used to have. She remembers living a pretty bucolic life and dreams of opening a book shop, marrying the baker, and raising children. She hasn't learned that you can never go back.

    So, one evening Sophie is wondering through a garden and stumbles across her oldest sister’s husband attending to another woman. Something inside of Sophie boils over and she ends up shoving the guy in a pond. He doesn't take kindly to her or her sisters or her family. All her sisters are looking at her askance. She decides to get out of town - vamoose. How does she do that? She disguises herself as a young footman - that would be as in "a boy." Oh no, not the old girl-with-giant-bazoogas-dressing-up-like-a-boy-and-no-one-will-recognize-me routine. Yes, that is exactly what happens. All the men in London fail to see this woman dressed up like a boy except for Mr. Potato head himself, our hero, Kingscote. (They call him King for short.) Anyway, she eventually ends up with King and the two embark on a pretty crazy road trip. He tosses her out, she sells his carriage wheels, she drinks with his drunken friends, he gets mad, she gets shot by a highwayman and saves a woman and two children, he saves her life. While all of this is going on they bicker, fight, insult their way across the country, getting on every inch of each other’s nerves.

    I liked parts of this book a lot. I thought it was fun. There were also some poignant moments, especially when Sophie is talking about her dreams of being married to the local baker. But, I had two problems: her family and ta ta ta dah King. I thought her family was rather selfish in the manner which they took advantage of Sophie. And, an event toward the end of the book when she does a pretty sneaky thing just to help them did not sit well with me. But, then that was a minor hiccup compared to our Bonehead hero. Here's the deal, because I have read a gazillion romances I know that even when a Bonehead hero is being a piece of guano, I know he's really down deep a knight in shining armor. How do I know that? Because I'm programmed to know that. I know that because that's what I've read in a gazillion romance novels, but sometimes those magical words of redemption are not in the book. Or, the words are in the book toooo late or they are not there long enough or the reason why our hero smells is just plain silly. Well, all of those reason were in this book.

    While I enjoyed some of the banter between Sophie and King, there was a point when King was just downright hurtful. There was a time in this story when Sophie told King her dreams and hopes. Their relationship should have gone beyond saying mean hateful words just because one can. But instead of stepping forward, they stepped backward.  King was out for revenge. He wanted his father to know that he was the last of the Eversley family. There would not be anyone to pass anything on to. King would be the last! No spewing seed out for him, by golly. That would show the old man. Yes, the old man wronged him when he was just a wee pup. His father is responsible for killing the only woman King could ever luv. Or at least that’s what he thinks. Guess what we have in this book? We have a giant wrong conclusion. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! He has avoided his father for years. All he had to do was talk to his father and he would have discovered he was wrong. In his need to hurt his father, he ends up including Sophie in that pain. He is needlessly cruel to her. So, it was a step back in the relationship and a little bit of old bodice ripper books with Steve Morgan, Brandon Birmingham, Clayton Westmoreland, etc. in it.

    The scenes with the father and her family were toward the end of the book. Everything up to that point was fun and I had been enjoying the story immensity. I think these scenes should have been sooner in the story and maybe King would have had more time to restore himself in my eyes - but there just wasn't enough time. Anyway, bottom line - I don't know. I liked the silliness of the road trip, the fun, the over the top running all over and getting into trouble, but I didn't care for her family showing up at the end and King was never given a chance to repair the insensitive damage he inflicted.

    kayKay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.
    by Becky C | Mar 17, 2016
    Editor's Note: Originally posted on March 17, 2015.  Be sure to click the links within the post if you're curious to know your Leprechaun Name or a wee bit o' trivia about this popular holiday.

    This clip has been around for a couple of years but I just discovered it — and I’m glad I did! Today, because it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, many of us will don the green, toast our friends, and be on the lookout for leprechauns.  As the world pretends to be Irish for the day, I thought I’d share one of my favorite things Irish — Irish Dance.  Warning:  if you’ve never done this type of dancing before, you might not want to attempt it for the first time at your local pub on St. Patty’s Day.  Just sayin’.

    Old Irish Blessing

    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Craig B | Mar 16, 2016
    kilowatt hours meterThe weekends are getting warmer, the snow visits us less frequently,  and some very brave green shoots have already started breaking through the ground.  Spring!  It’s coming.  I’m sure there’s still lots of rain and mud to come and school’s not out for a while, but there will be days when you can open your windows and go without a hoodie as you walk your dog or cat or chinchilla.  And then … Summer!  And heat.  And window air conditioners.  And rising electric bills.  The balmy days of Spring, when you needed only minimal help from your central air system to stay comfy will be gone.  Yes, you will be able to recapture those days in limited bursts, but it will cost you.  Electricity!  Now if you’re like my brother, you don’t get too shook up about it.  You just crank the dial to where you need it to go.  But sometimes our willingness to “crank” that dial would be compromised if we really knew, had a concrete number for, what it’s really costing us.  If we could measure the cost better, in the long run we might actually become ecstatic, to have saved some money.  But to really know what we are spending and what we saved would require at the very least, some complicated math.  Math! No thank you.

    But what if there was an easier way?  What if there was a tool available for free at your public library that would provide you with an easy-to-read number about what a specific window air conditioner (or fan or freezer or television set) was costing you?  A tool that could provide specifics instead of just a vague sense of your bank account being drained.  Specifics!  They can be so stimulating.  They can provide concrete goals, identify targets, eliminate soul-draining uncertainty.  This is where the Allen County Public Library’s Kill-A-Watt EZ Power Meters come in.  Available at most branch libraries in Allen County, these devices simply plug into your wall and any electric device then plugs into them.  The energy usage of the device is measured (and your device is still usable), helping you identify problem appliances, etc.  Armed with the numbers one can then make better-informed choices and also hold manufacturers accountable to their vaunted high-efficiency labels.  Knowledge!  Power! (pun intended) 

    For more information, contact your branch library and speak with a librarian to arrange the checkout of one of our cost-saving, information-propagating, kilowatt-killing machines that certainly herald a new age in the management of one’s electric bill.

    craig Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Craig B | Mar 14, 2016

    Interior of U.S. Senate ChamberBook Review:  Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

    And enter the riotous 60’s.  If you’re reading through the Pulitzers, the 60’s actually begin with a book written in 1959, Allen Drury’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize winner, Advise and Consent, a novel that was, to be honest, at 616 pages, a bit of a slog.  The extensive character list (tabulated for the reader by Drury before the commencement of the first chapter) and its subject (the ultimate “establishment” topic of the Cold War era United States Senate) was intimidating, but once I got started and settled in, it was actually all quite marvelous.  Here’s what I mean.  The depiction of the inner workings of the Senate, the subtle characterization of the commerce of politics, of human relationships, of internal states, even, is masterful.  Much of this ability comes from Drury’s commitment to journalism and its careful attention to human motivations.  It also comes from his commitment to writing in plain English (a commitment Drury was forced to express in a novel, it is said, because of the hostility at the time of his employer, the New York Times, to “plain English”) which manages to put the vast political world of Drury’s novel within readers’ reach.

    Nowhere in Drury’s book is the colorful counter-culture the 60’s are so famous for.  But then this is a novel conceived and written in the 50’s about the challenges of American ascendancy.  The popular American reaction to its own abilities and power was yet to come.  In this way and several others, not least through the tragedy driving its core, Drury’s book sets the stage for the reactionary tumult that was the 60’s.  As a record of the failed best attempts of mankind, Drury’s book demands to be read by any civic-minded citizen.  For most of us out here in 21st-century-land, far from the pseudo-historical-fiction events depicted in the novel, our best expression of solidarity might be for us to equip the book as a doorstop.

    craig Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.
    by Becky C | Mar 11, 2016
    It's quickly approaching March 17th, a day we're certain to see a fair number of "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" buttons and tee-shirts.  Mango's St. Patrick's Irish will help you stand out from the crowd and Hoopla can treat you to a variety of stories set in Ireland.  Why stop there though?  Let our collection take you on a tour of Ireland's rich folklore, literature, art, and music.  

    Do you have a favorite Irish author, poet or musician?  Please share!

    Princeton History of Modern Ireland book cover
     A Slanting of the Sun
     A Treasury of Irish Myth Legend and Folklore
     Only the Stones Survive book cover
     Celtic Art book cover
     Crow of Connemara
     Rachels Irish Family Food book cover
     Lost in Ireland
     Irish People Irish Linen book cover
     The Wily O Reilly
     Traditional Boats of Ireland book cover
     A Rumor of Soul
     Essentially Irish
     Patrick Son of Ireland
     Irish Traditional Music

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Miss Heather | Mar 10, 2016

    Reading Challenge Logo

     Although we began with snow, we hope that as the month continues we find ourselves seeking a warm, dry spot on which to perch and finish our March Reading Challenge book. This month we ask that you seek out a book by an Irish author or set on the Emerald Isle.

    If You Could See Me Now

    Death of the Heart Cover Green Road Cover
    Are You Somebody? Cover Brooklyn Cover
    Other Irish authors you may want to seek out: Sebastian Barry, Maeve Binchy, Emma Donoghue, Roddy Doyle, Tana French, Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, Molly Keane, Marian Keyes, Edna O'Brien, Maggie O'Farrell, Oscar Wilde, and WB Yeats.
    May you live all the days of your life." – Jonathan Swift

    by Becky C | Mar 09, 2016

    I first read The Elfstones of Shannara when I was in high school.  When I heard that MTV was adapting it for television, I was hopeful and skeptical at the same time.  I had long hoped that someone would adapt the story to film but I was doubtful that MTV would do it justice.  So, now that The Shannara Chronicles has wrapped up its first season, what do I think? 

    I quickly became annoyed with the show when the first episode changed what I felt was a major detail -- how The Chosen were selected.  I'm not a complete purist -- I love Tolkien's books as well as the film adaptations created by Peter Jackson, and if you've given them a try yourself, you know there are differences.  But The Chosen???  This wasn't just a lovely tradition that might benefit from some revision -- there was a reason why The Ellcrys chose her caretakers and didn't simply accept those who beat out the rest of the pack.  I was annoyed but I was willing to see how things played out.

    I liked the creation of a romantic backstory for Allanon.  Other characters often view him as too detached to understand the losses they experience; this revision to the original storyline calls attention to the fact that he has suffered loss as well.  It highlights the loneliness of the role he has undertaken.

    I liked the refinement of the storyline in which each leaf of the Ellcrys represents a demon from the Forbidding -- each falling leaf now carries a new weight, a more immediate sense of foreboding.    And I have to admit, I loved the Ellcrys herself.  Imagery like this is why I've longed to see the world of Shannara brought to the screen.

    After watching episodes 1 through 6, those are the details I feel MTV handled well.  Short list, isn't it?

    I hated the changes made to Eretria.  Oh, she's still smart and capable, with a touch of a temper, but that's where the similarities end.  Brooks' Eretria wasn't a victim and she didn't victimize others.  She wasn't trying to sex everyone up.  Brooks handled the love triangle between Wil, Amberle, and Eretria much more skillfully in the book -- it was believable and it was heartbreaking.  MTV turned a touching storyline into something superficial and gratuitous.

    I also hated the changes made to Cephelo.  The Rovers operate under their own rules, and stealing from anyone not in their Family is acceptable to them, true, but Brooks' Rovers are opportunists rather than attackers.  And while he means to marry/sell her off, there's nothing in Brooks' Cephelo that leads us to think that he would tolerate anyone doing anything to harm Eretria while she's part of his group.  And what was MTV thinking by portraying Cephelo as a serial rapist who doesn't care if Eretria is murdered --  and then presenting him as an ally to the group???  Really, MTV? 

    The Pykon episode did not work for me at all -- and that's the last episode I watched.  On his website, Brooks offers some fair responses to criticism from fans, particularly regarding the gauntlet and characters/scenes left out of the television series. Four episodes remain to the season but it's just not my thing.  I love the original world Brooks created too much -- I just re-read The Elfstones of Shannara this weekend and it's a much more satisfying story for me, so that's the Shannara I'm sticking with.

    Are you a Shannara fan?  Have you tuned in to the television series?  If so, what did you like best about it -- or hate most about it?

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks.
    by Evan | Mar 07, 2016
    Superman Action Comic book cover-min

    I took my pre-teen grandkids on their first tentative exploration of the library's Teens Department this winter and used the time to look through comic books.  I brought home a few, including one that claimed to be Superman Action Comics Volume 1 (which was kind of crazy given that Superman and Action Comics started before World War II). Apparently this glossy volume (copyright 2012) is another attempt to create a new audience for the original comic super hero. I guess it can work if today's teens are as different from me as "Volume 1" is from the the old Action Comics.

    For two early teen years, I read every comic book I could find about Superman and his pals -- Batman, Green Lantern, et al. Happily, they were easy to get, because I had a new friend who owned a library of them and would rent them to me for two cents each, or one-sixth the 12 cents retail price. (My mother thought that was outrageous, but she wasn't increasing my allowance, and I thought it was a fair deal.)

    I could rip through one of those old comics in 15 minutes, understand the stories completely and hunger for the next one. But this new Superman Action Comics Volume 1? No way. It took me weeks to finish it.

    OK, I could have read the whole thing in a sitting, but it would have required a lot more effort than I was prepared to make. First, there are a lot more pages than in the old comics, and there is no advertising filler. (Add in better paper and the aforesaid glossy sheen and maybe it justifies the 21st century price: $16.99.) But the main difference is a serious shortage of words. I guess you're supposed to have grown up in the video generation, but page after confusing page of Action action left me wondering what was going on. The art is glorious, but overdone. Terse text bubbles barely assisted.

    I realize the graphic novels genre has arisen in recent decades, and evidently the volume I borrowed is part of that popular tradition. Clearly, the writers and illustrators are aiming for something intellectually and emotionally stronger than the comics I snacked on. Something to savor.

    Still, the whole thing felt like I was wading through a visual James Joyce. It didn't work for me, but it probably will for my grandson in a couple of years, and I suppose that's the point. That, or comics readers today understand art a lot better than I ever did.

    Do you like modern comics?  Why or why not?  Let me know if I'm missing something.

    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Craig B | Mar 04, 2016
    cover of Rihanna album, Anti

    The question I have for this album, if albums could answer questions, is, “How do you make track ten, ‘Never Ending’, work, as a rather disparate entity, with the other tracks of your lineup?”  I suppose the best answer, partly because it is the answer that seems like the most fun, is “magic”.  If the seamless incorporation of an acoustic driven ballad into an album otherwise held together by a tightly-reined but completely electronic drum machine does not inspire deep superstition within you ... well I would like you to explain yourself.  Until such time as you explain yourself, this rustic will be sticking with his first explanation.  Musical Magic.  Right up there with the Christmas Miracle.

    Suggested Use: I think this album could work well for a dinner party.  As long as only adults are in attendance (due to some content issues).  With its lower-fi musical approach and lack of bombasticism at the beginning it would allow for conversation while also supplying some more danceable tunes near the end (ok, basically just track 11, 'Love on the Brain', but still!) for just after dessert and leading further into the evening.

    craig Craig B is a thirty-something lover of books, movies, and rock and roll whose grandmother still worries that he might not be eating enough. (Love you, Grandma!) He lives with his charming wife in the small town of Berne, IN (in sight of the clock tower) where he busies himself keeping the Roses of Sharon in check and training his chinchilla in the ancient arts of the Ninja. Craig’s current favorite book is Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.