Skip to main content

As You Like It

Literary news, book reviews
and more…   rss-icon 

    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.
    by Cathy B | Feb 29, 2016
    EK image from WikipediaEllsworth Kelly, a giant of 20th century art, died December 27, 2015.  According to the New York Times, “Mr. Kelly was a true original, forging his art equally from the observational exactitude he gained as a youthful bird-watching enthusiast; from skills he developed as a designer of camouflage patterns while in the Army; and from exercises in automatic drawing he picked up from European surrealism.”

    Kelly lived in Europe during the time of Abstract Expressionism’s heyday in America and his painting, although abstract, was very different from the Expressionists.  He rejected the personal for the structured painting with hard edges and fields of color.  He found his compositions in the world around him, seeing forms he liked and abstracting the composition into minimal line and form. 

    “My work is about structure.  It has never been a reaction to Abstract Expressionism.”

    Quote taken from Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art:  A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings by Kristine Stiles.

    Here's a glimpse at some of the "treasures in our stacks", a selection of titles focused on the work of Ellsworth Kelly.  Click on a book cover to check availability — it’s as easy as that!

     

    EK Retrospective
    EK San Francisco
     
     EK Catalogue Raisonne
     EK Goossen
     EK Sculpture
     EK Works on Paper
     EK John Coplans
     EK Drawings
     EK Recent
       EK Drawn from Nature
     

     

     

    by Kay S | Feb 26, 2016
    Yes, fellow travelers it is time for upcoming releases! And as always, the dates reflected are when the books will be released not when they will be on a library shelf near you.

    HISTORICAL ROMANCE 
     Jo Beverley Jo Beverley
    The Viscount Needs a Wife
    Company of Rogues, series
    April 5 
     
    Kasey Michaels
    Kasey Michaels
    A Scandalous Proposal
    The Little Season series
    March 29
     
    Amanda Quick
    Amanda Quick
    Til Death Do Us Part
    April 19
     
    Patricia Rice
    Patricia Rice
    Magic in the Stars
    Unexpected Magic series (Malcolm/Ives), ebook
    March 29

    HISTORICAL FICTION
    Melissa Lenhardt  Melissa Lenhardt 
    Sawbones
    March 29

    CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE/MAINSTREAM

     

    Annabeth Albert  Annabeth Albert
    Knit Tight
    Portland Heat series
    ebook, Contemporary Romance
    April 12 
     
    Marie Bostwick
    Marie Bostwick
    From Here to Home
    Too Much, Texas series
    Mainstream
    March 29
     
    Robyn Carr
    Robyn Carr
    What We Find
    Sullivan’s Crossing series
    Mainstream
    April 5
     
    Melissa Cutler
    Melissa Cutler
    One Hot Summer
    One and Only Texas series
    Contemporary Romance
    April 5
     
    Lauren Layne
    Lauren Layne
    Cuff Me
    New York’s Finest, series
    Contemporary Romance
    March 29
     
    Emily Liebert
    Emily Liebert
    Some Women
    Mainstream
    April 5
     
    Jill Shalvis
    Jill Shalvis
    Nobody But You
    Cedar Ridge series
    Contemporary
    March 29

    MYSTERY/THRILLER/ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
    Ann Myers  Ann Myers
    Cinco de Mayhem
    Santa Fe Café Mystery series
    Mystery
    March 29
     
    Karen Robards
    Karen Robards
    Darkness
    Romantic Suspense
    March 29
     
    Nora Roberts
    Nora Roberts
    The Obsession
    Romantic Suspense
    April 12
     
    Sharon Sala
    Sharon Sala
    Dark Hearts, Secrets and Lies series
    Romantic Suspense
    March 29
     
    Lisa Scottoline
    Lisa Scottoline
    Most Wanted
    Thriller
    April 12
     
    Ovidia Yu
    Ovidia Yu
    Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge
    Singaporean Mystery series
    Mainstream
    April 5

    PARANORMAL/FANTASY/SCIENCE FICTION/URBAN FANTASY
    M.R. Carey  M.R. Carey
    Fellside
    Science Fiction
    April 5
     
    Caitlin Kittredge
    Caitlin Kittredge
    Grim Tidings
    Hellhound Chronicles series
    Fantasy
    April 19
     
    Shelly Laurenston
    Shelly Laurenston
    The Undoing
    Call of the Crows seires
    Paranormal
    March 29
     
    Thomas E. Sniegoski
    Thomas E. Sniegoski
    The Demonists
    Demonist series
    Urban Fantasy
    April 5

    TEENS
    Destefano  Lauren DeStefano 
    Broken Crowns
    The Internment Chronicles series
    Parnormal
    March 22

    Holly Jennings
    Holly Jennings
    Arena
    April 5
     
    Marie Rutkoski
    Marie Rutkoski
    The Winner’s Kiss
    Fantasy
    March 29

    EROTICA
    Jeanette Grey  Jeanette Grey
    Eight Ways to Ecstasy
    Art of Passion series
    April 5

    INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE/FICTION
    Sandra Byrd Sandra Byrd
    Bridge of a Distant Isle
    Byrd’s Daughters of Hampshire series
    March 22 

    Olivia Newport
    Olivia Newport
    Hope in the Land
    Historical
    April 1

    Cynthia Ruchti
    Cynthia Ruchti
    Song of Silence
    April 5




    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 | Feb 25, 2016
    Editor's Note:  Originally posted June 26, 2015.  If you like stories about self-discovery, Ada's Rules won't disappoint. 


    Book Review:  Ada’s Rules by Alice Randall

    When she receives an invitation to her 25 year college reunion, signed with a wink by her adas-rulesfirst love, Ada starts comparing her life then and now.  For years she’s been taking care of everyone but herself: her husband, his congregation, her daycare, her parents, her daughters.  She’s gained 100 pounds or so since her college days and she’s lost 3 sisters to diabetes; she also suspects her husband is cheating on her.  Ada decides it’s time for a health and beauty revival and starts listing some rules, the first being Don’t Keep Doing What You’ve Always Been Doing.

    The grammar drove me nuts at times but I adore Ada.  It was all too easy for me to identify with her sense of having somehow lost herself over the years.  It was also all too easy for me to identify with her body image/health concerns.  I loved witnessing her journey as she sets goals for herself, makes progress, stumbles, and gets right back on track.  I loved that her transformation wasn’t simply about weight; it was really more about learning to make herself a priority and learning to assert herself.  Part Fiction, part Self Help, Ada’s Rules is an inspirational look at one woman’s year of self-discovery.


    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 | Feb 24, 2016
    February may be Black History Month, but this year it is also Black Now Month. The Black Lives Matter movement erupted after a series of notorious deaths of young black men at the hands of non-black men. The National Book Award went to Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is the most celebrated new voice telling what it is like to be a young black man in America -- now or through history..

    Between the World and Me book coverCoates's memoir Between the World and Me is small in size but large in story. It elegantly links his life growing up in and away from a dangerous Baltimore neighborhood to the hard experiences of black men -- and women -- in America since long before the United States even existed. The book connects brief lessons about abuse of black people's bodies across the centuries to his fears as a child and his grief for a dear friend gunned down by a police officer in dubious circumstances.  The book is addressed to his own son, for whom he is unabashedly afraid.

    I believe a lot of whites think racism is behind us because people who assert white racial superiority today are ridiculed by other white people. And that is a big improvement over the not-so-distant past. But black people still must cope with discrimination, notably in law enforcement and housing -- regardless of whether such discrimination is done consciously.

    In recent years I've paid more attention to how much my material comfort and personal security rests on white privilege that goes back in my family for generations. Scholars such as Edward E. Baptist are demonstrating that black slavery was fundamental in birthing the "free enterprise" economy we enjoy today. Even after emancipation, forced black labor fueled important elements of American industrialization. Both slavery and Jim Crow peonage were enforced by bigotry and brutality that were embedded in the broad national culture. This history still makes it harder to flourish as a black person than as a white one.

    It's that unceasing unfairness that shadows Coates's ambivalent efforts to project a hopeful future for black people in American society. My own take as an old white guy is a little more optimistic, thinking that progress begun 60 years ago can continue. Will there be an end to racial bias in Coates's lifetime, much less my own? No. Probably not in the life of his son either, or of my bi-racial granddaughter. But we can all keep history in mind as we strive to make the future better.


    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Cheryl M | Feb 22, 2016
    Wandering Home book coverTornadoes and flooding at Christmas time in the South and Midwest, temperatures at the North Pole above average by 40 degrees, and climate talks among world leaders in Paris...these stories were making headlines in December, 2015.

    If you don't trust what the scientists are saying about the changing climate, trust the insurance companies.  They are having to make adjustments to cover more frequent extreme weather conditions.  This was the main message of Bill McKibben, author, scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, and environmental activist, who spoke at IPFW, November 5, 2015, as part of the Omnibus Lecture series. McKibben's talk was enhanced by a slide-show of activists, around the world, demonstrating to raise awareness of extreme weather, rising sea levels, and stressed animal habitats.

    McKibben's best selling book, The End of Nature, published in 1989, is considered a groundbreaking work in environmental studies, calling for a shift in the way we relate to nature. I would like to delve into that book someday, but, having been to Vermont several times, I chose his 2005 title, Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks. The long subtitle tells you where McKibben hiked, and he owns homes at his starting and ending points. Interestingly, McKibben had a very urban job in his mid-twenties writing for the New Yorker magazine and living in Manhattan. He became aware of the big-picture environmental world when he was researching an article about where every pipe and wire in his apartment came from and went.  He followed the water pipes to the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, and spent days among the garbage barges in New York Harbor.  Eureka, an environmental activist was born! What had seemed like scenery and props became real and worthy of attention.

    If you would like an enjoyable, educational, vicarious hike among mountains, lakes, and small farms with a learned companion, read Wandering Home.

    cheryl-mCheryl likes reading, bicycling, scrapbooking, travel, history, and cats. Because every life tells a story, her favorite books to read are biographies.
    by Becky C | Feb 19, 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!

    The Guest Room book cover
    The Lightkeepers book cover
     
    When Breath Becomes Air book cover
     
     Life Changing Magic book cover
     Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up book cover
     Planetfall book cover
     Challenger Deep book cover
     Elon Musk book cover
     Excellent Daughters book cover
         
         

    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 Emily M | Feb 17, 2016

    Looking for a good book recommendation? Look no further!  Here’s a few good books I’ve enjoyed recently:

    Negroland: A MemoirNegroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson

    Negroland is the story of Margo Jefferson, born in Chicago in 1947, to a doctor father and socialite mother.  As an African-American born to upper-middle class, educated parents, she refers to the phenomenon of her upbringing as “Negroland,” which she defines as “a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty.”  Jefferson recounts her childhood, attending one of the few elite, private schools in Chicago that would accept African-Americans, but was still mostly white, and socializing with other educated, upper-middle class, African-American children who were the children of her parents’ friends and colleagues.  Deftly describing the constant pressure she was under to always present herself a certain way, to always be dignified and respectable in front of white people, how, despite doing everything “right” she still faced discrimination and oppression, she states:

        "We were the third race.  We cared for our people – we loved our people – but we refused to be held back by the lower element.  We did not love white people, we did not care for most of them, but we envied them and sometimes we feared and hated them.  Our daily practice was suspicion, caution at the very least.  Preemptive disdain."

    As Jefferson comes of age during the civil rights movement and the rise of the black power movement, she finds her upbringing is now, in some ways, a detriment.  The way she speaks, her tastes, her economic means make her, to some, not black enough.  In her twenties, as she grapples with the construct of her identity, she sinks into depression and contemplates suicide.  Even as the book draws to a close, it becomes clear that while Jefferson is approaching age 70 and has reached great personal success and accomplishment (in 1995 she won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism), she still has not come to terms with her racial and socioeconomic identity; at times throughout the book, she refers to herself in the third person, separating herself from her experiences. 

    Negroland is a difficult book to read, but also an important and powerful one, exploring the intersection of class and race. 

     

    PeaceLikeARiverPeace Like a River by Leif Enger

    Told from the perspective of an adult looking back on events of his childhood, Peace Like a River is the story of 12-year-old Rueben Land growing up in Minnesota in the early 1960s.  Rueben’s father, a deeply religious man, is raising Rueben, his older brother, Davy, and his younger sister, Swede, alone after their mother abandoned them.  Rueben’s father is able to follow Christ’s teachings to turn the other cheek, Rueben’s brother is not, and when their family is threatened, Davy takes justice into his own hands.  Davy’s actions send the entire family on an unexpected journey that will end in tragedy.  With writing that is lovely and sparse, Enger blends religious mysticism with all the grit and glory of an old western.

    GardenSpellsGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

    The Waverleys are a peculiar family, blessed (or cursed, depending on your perspective) with curious gifts.  These gifts are likely rooted in the magic of an enchanted apple tree that grows in the garden of the Waverley’s family home.  Claire utilizes her gift to run a successful small business, content to keep to herself, only socializing with her elderly cousin, the only other Waverly remaining in her hometown, while tending to her family home.  Her life is upended when her older sister Sydney, who high-tailed it out of town and as far away from the Waverley legacy as possible upon graduating high school, shows up on Claire’s doorstep after ten years without communication, small daughter in tow.  Forced together again as Sydney flees her abusive boyfriend, Claire and Sydney must grapple with their broken relationship and wounds of the past.

    An easy, endearing read, Garden Spells effectively mixes small-town charm with magical realism for enchanting results.

    What good books have you read lately?


    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 Evan D | Feb 15, 2016
    Ever sit around feeling foolish and hypocritical? It's one of my favorite pastimes, and I got to do it while listening to Ted Koppel's new book Lights Out: A Cyber Attack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath. As the title indicates, the book deals with how unready most of us are for a hacker attack that knocks out the power grid in a big part of the country for months. The upshot is clear: millions of us would die.
     
    It's not so much my own unpreparedness that nipped at me. I know that if society falls,lights out my family and I fall with it. As Koppel describes, a few Americans -- notably the Mormons -- devote great amounts of time and money preparing for big disasters, but we haven't. And I'm sure Koppel is right that not even the Mormons are truly ready for tens of millions of Americans going without power for a whole winter. Even a summer attack would be catastrophic if water couldn't be pumped or food delivered. 
     
    Unpreparedness is a gamble most of us are taking because the power always comes back on eventually after every natural disaster. Very few people die for lack of it. Koppel argues that for technical, financial and political reasons, it would be much harder to come back from a well-planned hacker attack on an electric power grid that he believes is more vulnerable than most of us imagine. 
     
    It was that political part that made me feel stupid. Even after 9/11, I've been wary  of government collecting individuals' communication data, and that feeling is enhanced by being a librarian. Personal privacy is an important value in our profession.
     
    But I have to admit I've been thinking mostly about government data being used to prevent limited terror strikes. Up the ante to a terror strike that cuts off electricity for months, leaving millions dead and our economy shattered, and I get the picture. Koppel asserts that proprietary privacy concerns of power companies prevent security cooperation among them and make it easier for an attacker to get into the grid some day. He also says citizens' fears of big-government data collection make it harder for government to detect when someone is trying to plan an attack on the grid. 
     
    I think I have more thinking to do. Maybe you do, too. 



    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Becky C | Feb 12, 2016

    book club 1

    The best books not only keep us turning the pages, but also inspire us to talk about them.  ACPL offers a number of book groups to help you connect with fellow readers in our community and experience literature on a whole new level. Whatever your reading preference, our groups are sure to foster great discussions and new friendships.

    Our newest offering is our Online Book Club. If you've wanted to join a book club that discusses both quality fiction and nonfiction, but haven't found one that meets at a convenient time, this could be a perfect fit!    

    To join, you'll first want to establish an account on Goodreads.  (Goodreads is also an excellent way to keep track of the books that you've read -- and those you want to read.  Discover a variety of things to love about this free resource by clicking here.) 

    To find our group, look for the Groups option at the top of the page and click it.  Type ACPL in the search box, choose ACPL Online Book Club, and click Join Group.  It's as easy as that!

    And, of course, you're still welcome to check out our in-person book clubs as well!  Here's a quick look with links to the February selections for each.

    • Monday Morning Book Club, Little Turtle branch library.  Read what you like, share what you read!  Join us on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month to meet book lovers like you.
    • Monday Night Book Club, Grabill branch library.  Grabill's book selection for this month will be O Pioneers! by Willa Cather.  This 1913 novel focuses on a family of Swedish immigrants and their struggle to make a go of farming upon the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States.  Tragedy, love, and moral strictures all play a part in the story of the Bergsons and their determination to hold onto the land that in many ways defines their family.
    • Novel Ideas Book Club, Hessen Cassel branch library.  NEW TIME for 2016! First TUESDAY of the month!  Ask at the front desk for a copy of the book to read ahead of time, then join the fun as we discuss the book and have tea and cookies.
    • Brunch & Lit Book Club, We meet the second Wednesday of every month at 10:00 a.m. at the Cedars Retirement Community, 14409 Sunrise Court, Leo, Indiana.  Our book for February will be Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke.  The first in her series chronicling life in the American Pioneer West, the novel has been adapted as a feature film along with its several sequels.  Join us as we begin the initial episode in a story of difficult choices and ultimate hope.
    • Cookbook Book Club, Aboite branch library.  Read the club's selection beforehand, cook a food item from it if you like, then bring it in to share! Selections to be determined, contact the Aboite Branch for more info.
    • Stephen King Book Club, Georgetown branch library.  Do you love Stephen King? Come join other Constant Readers to discuss his work. In February we will be reading his first published book, Carrie.
    • Chapter Two Book Club, Main library.  This month we have chosen two books related to the Titanic.  You may read either one, or any other book about the Titanic.  The fiction book is The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott. Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World by Hugh Brewster is the non-fiction book. Call Readers' Services at (260) 421-1235 if you would like any help finding a book.
    • Talk It Up Book Club, Pontiac branch library.  Can't wait to tell someone about the book you've just finished?  The Talk it Up Book Club at the Pontiac Branch is a great place to do it.  You can 'talk it up' so that everyone will want to read it.
    • Dupont Classics Book Club, Dupont branch library.  Discuss those classics you always wanted to read or would enjoy reading again.   In February we will be reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

    Have kiddos?  We have book clubs for them as well!  

    The Beginning Reader Book Group invites students, ages five to seven, to meet in Children's Services for six forty-five minute sessions. The sessions will be every two weeks, beginning January 19 through March 29. At each session, we will enjoy early reader books and related activities. Participants are asked to bring a favorite book to each session.

    Pages, Pixels, and Pizza is a bring your own book (or movie/video game) discussion group for young adults held at the Aboite branch library where they can talk about their favorite books, movies, and video games while enjoying a slice of pizza plus refreshments. 

    There's no reading ahead for the Books & Bites teen book club! Enjoy snacks and beverages while we discuss teen reading selections @ Shawnee Branch Library.

    SciFi Club meets in the Teen Living Room at the Main Library. We talk movies, games, books, graphic novels, and any other science fiction topic. Dr. Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Ender's Game, etc. Occasional movies/TV episodes/special events.

    The First Friday Book Group meets in the Teen Living Room at the Main Library.  Read books and discuss them with other homeschoolers age 11-14. First time attendees, please call 421-1255 to sign up.

    The Books-n-Bagels (and a few donuts) meets in the Teen Living Room at the Main Library.  Homeschool high school students discuss books while enjoying tasty bagels (or donuts).


    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 Edith H | Feb 10, 2016

    We're in the middle of Black History Month and the 2016 theme is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.” Here are some extraordinary stories of real Black Americans with strong senses of place, to help you celebrate.



     bhm1

    Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. In a deeply personal work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals, to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder.  

     bhm2

      DeVore, Donald E. Defying Jim Crow: African American Community Development and the Struggle for Racial Equality in New Orleans: 1900-1960From the earliest days of Jim Crow African Americans in New Orleans rallied around the belief that the new system of racially biased laws, designed to relegate them to second-class citizenship, was neither legitimate nor permanent. Drawing on shared memories of fluid race relations and post-Civil War political participation, they remained committed to a disciplined and sustained pursuit of equality. Defying Jim Crow tells the story of this community's decades-long struggle against segregation, disenfranchisement, and racial violence. 

     bhm3
     

    Howard, Ravi. Driving the King: A Novel. The war is over, the soldiers are returning, and Nat King Cole is back in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, for a rare performance. When a white man attacks Cole with a pipe, his childhood friend Nat Weary leaps from the audience to defend him—an act that will lead to a ten-year prison sentence. But the singer remembers his friend and the sacrifice he made, and six months before Weary is released, he receives a remarkable offer: will he be Nat King Cole’s driver and bodyguard in L.A.? An indelible portrait of prejudice and promise, friendship and loyalty, this is a daring look at race and class in pre-Civil Rights America, played out in the lives of two remarkable men.

     bhm4
      Ivy, Jay. Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain. J. Ivy has bridged the worlds of hip-hop and poetry through his appearances on HBO’s Def Poetry and his collaborations with Kanye West and Jay-Z. But throughout his success, he carried with him the pain of being abandoned by his father and growing up in the tough neighborhoods of Chicago’s South Side. So he sat down with pen and paper and processed his pain the only way he knew how—through poetry. The resulting poem, Dear Father, became his vehicle of forgiveness and healing.
     bhm5
      Jackson, Tricia Williams. Women in Black History: Stories of Courage, Faith, and Resilience. From well-known figures like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks, to women rarely found in any history book, Women in Black History explores the lives of writers, athletes, singers, activists, and educators who have made an indelible mark on our country and our culture. Perfect for kids, but also for adults who like to read about important figures and unsung heroes, this collection will delight, surprise, and challenge readers.
     bhm6
      Little, Benilde. Welcome to My Breakdown: A Memoir. A major bestselling novelist and former magazine editor, long married to a handsome and successful stockbroker with whom she has a beautiful daughter and son, Benilde Little once had every reason to feel on top of the world. But as illness, the aging of her parents, and other hurdles interrupted her seemingly perfect life, she took a tailspin into a pit of clinical depression. In her own fearless and wise voice, the memoir chronicles a cavern of depression so dark that Benilde didn’t know if she’d ever recover, shares insights, inspiration, and intimate details of her life, and relates the ways that she ultimately treated her depression and found a way out.
     bhm7
      Morris, James McGrath. Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press. A new biography brings into focus the riveting life of one of the most significant yet least known figures of the civil rights era. A self-proclaimed “instrument of change” for her people, Payne broke new ground as the Washington correspondent for the Chicago Defender, covering such events as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Little Rock school desegregation crisis, the service of black troops in Vietnam, and Henry Kissinger’s 26,000-mile tour of Africa.
     bhm8
     Paul, Richard and Steven Moss. We Could Not Fail: African-Americans in the Space Program. Richard Paul and Steven Moss profile ten pioneer African American space workers whose stories illustrate the role NASA and the space program played in promoting civil rights. They recount how these technicians, mathematicians, engineers, and an astronaut candidate surmounted barriers to move, in some cases literally, from the cotton fields to the launching pad. The authors vividly describe what it was like to be the sole African American in a NASA work group and how these brave and determined men also helped to transform Southern society by integrating colleges, patenting new inventions, holding elective office, and reviving and governing defunct towns
     bhm9
      Rae, Issa. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. A collection of humorous essays on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits, and black as cool. In this debut collection of essays written in her witty and self-deprecating voice, Rae covers everything from cybersexing in the early days of the Internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain, from navigating the perils of eating out alone and public displays of affection to learning to accept yourself—natural hair and all.  A reflection on her own unique experiences as a cyber pioneer yet universally appealing, this is a book no one—awkward or cool, black, white, or other—will want to miss.  
    bhm10
     
      Robinson, Gabrielle. Better Homes of South Bend. In 1950, a group of African American workers at the Studebaker factory in South Bend met in secret. Their mission was to build homes away from the factories and slums where they were forced to live. They came from the South to make a better life for themselves and their children, but they found Jim Crow in the North as well. The meeting gave birth to Better Homes of South Bend, and a triumph against the entrenched racism of the times took all their courage, intelligence and perseverance. 
     bhm11
      Wilson, Adam P. African American Army Officers of World War I: a Vanguard of Equality in War and Beyond. In April 1917, Congress approved President Woodrow Wilson's request to declare war on the Central Powers, thrusting the United States into World War I. Two months later 1,250 African American men – college graduates, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, reverends and non-commissioned officers – volunteered to become the first blacks to receive officer training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. This book tells the stories of these black American soldiers' lives during training, in combat and after their return home.
    by Miss Heather | Feb 08, 2016

    Reading Challenge
    What kind of goals do you set each year? We know many of you have reading lists or a number of books you'd like to reach. We are borrowing from Davenport (IA) Public Library's
    new Online Reading Challenge and issuing you a challenge! 


    Each month we will post here, and on Facebook, a theme for the month. A few suggested titles will be provided in case you are stumped by the category but these are not "required" reading. Read what you like and then share the title (and a review if you are so inclined) in the comments of the month's post. We'll post the theme at the beginning of the month as well as a reminder and check-in post at the end. We hope you'll stumble upon a genre or title you might not have selected on your own.

    Since it is February, we are beginning with LOVE. You may interpret that any way you like--a traditional boy-meets-girl story, the sway of a place, the sweet romance of getting a pup (or other furry friend), or however you'd like to imagine it. Here are a few ideas.

    Nothing can come between...
    truckA man and his truck?
    Truck: A Love Story
    by Michael Perry

    The author chronicles a year during which he struggled to grow his own food, live peaceably with volatile neighbors, and fix his pickup truck, at a time when he also fell in love and befriended a paraplegic and quadriplegic biker team.



    eplOr a woman and her pasta?
    Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia
    by Elizabeth Gilbert
    To regroup after her divorce Elizabeth Gilbert eats her way across Italy, Indonesia, and India in the process discovering a new way of being. (This is one of my favorite memoirs and got me hooked on travel books.)


    oogyOr a family and its pup?
    Oogy: the dog only a family could love
    by Larry Levin

    When the family's terminally ill cat had to be put down, Larry Levin and his twin sons Dan and Noah were devastated. But what was a sad day turned out to be one of the Levin family's most rewarding experience as it was the same day the family fell in love with Oogy, and ugly, one-eared dog. Over the next several years, Oogy proved to be the quintessential family companion.

    And not even time can separate true love...
    ttwWhat if two people who loved each other deeply, married, and faced a life in which one person remained constant while the other slipped fluidly in and out of time?This is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because a genetic anomaly thrusts Henry thru time.  His disappearances are spontaneous and his experiences are unpredictable. Will true love prevail?

    After you read your LOVE themed pick add it (and a review if you like) in the comments area below. We'll post a reminder here (and on Facebook) as well. Perhaps you find your text title there! Watch for March's theme at the beginning of the month. Happy Reading!

    hg
    Heather is the Children's Librarian at Shawnee Branch. She likes to bead while listening to audiobooks. She also watches a bit too many tv shows when she should be reading. Her dog, Pookah, is her only "son" and is her shadow wherever she goes.