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    by Emily M | Oct 04, 2017
    Looking for a book recommendation?  Look no further!  Here are a few good books I've enjoyed recently.

    apieceoftheworldBook Review:
    A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

    Andrew Wyeth, a realist painter, was one of the most famous American artists of the mid-twentieth century.  Christina Olson was a woman of limited education and means, with a debilitating disability, who lived her entire life in the same remote farmhouse in Maine.  Christina also served as muse for many of Wyeth’s paintings, including his most famous, Christina’s World.  This is her story.

    Christina Olson was born into a farming and fishing family in Maine.  From a young age, she began to suffer from a loss of muscle control in her limbs.  By the time she was in her thirties, she had lost the ability to walk.  Forsaking the use of a wheelchair, she instead used her arms to drag herself around the farm where she lived with her brother Al, who dedicated himself to the farm and her care, while she attended to as many household tasks as she could.  Though her image has been made famous through Wyeth’s works, little is known about her thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. 

    In A Piece of the World Kline uses a first-person point of view to explore a fictional account of who Christina was and the events that shaped her life.  Kline imagines the elusive Christina as someone with great dignity and perseverance, but who could also be quite stubborn and selfish.  A somber, melancholy mood permeates the book, and, appropriately, seems to embody the same mood and feel as Wyeth’s works. 

    strangersBook Review: Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home by Amy Dickinson

    Amy Dickinson is more commonly known as “Dear Amy,” the author of the nationally syndicated advice column read by millions of Americans in their daily newspapers.  Strangers Tend to Tell Me things is her second memoir, and picks up where the first left off.  (Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first one; it’s not necessary to understand the second.)  After living in London, D.C., and Chicago, with her daughter headed off the college, Amy returns to her hometown in upstate New York, a tiny village of 500, where she embarks on courting an old childhood acquaintance, blending two families when their courtship ends in marriage, and caring for her aging parents.  With incredible heart and humor, Amy takes her readers along with her on a journey through the challenges and triumphs of an ordinary life.

    thewomeninthecastleBook Review: The Women in the Castle: A Novel by Jessica Shattuck

    In Germany in 1938, Marianne von Lingenfels is an educated, no-nonsense woman, wife to her idealistic husband, and mother of three small children.  While hosting the annual harvest festival at the medieval castle owned by her husband’s family, she enters her husband’s study where she finds her husband and several other men discussing a plot to assassinate Hitler.  When Marianne voices her support, one of the men appoints her “commander of women and children,” tasked with the job of protecting them from the consequences of their husbands’ and fathers’ actions.

    Fast forward to 1945 – the plot to assassinate Hitler has failed, the men involved have all been executed, and the war is finally over.  Taking her responsibility seriously, Marianne sets out in search of the wives and children of the executed men.  She manages to find two of the wives, and brings them and their children back to the castle, where she does her best to care and provide for the women and children.  Over the next several years, and for decades to come, the lives of these families will be continually intertwined, their actions affecting not only themselves, but each other in ways they never could have dreamt.  

    The Women in the Castle is immediately engrossing, and an excellent exploration of the effects of Hitler’s regime on ordinary Germans.


    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 Craig B | Oct 02, 2017

    cover of Norman MacLean's book, A River Runs Through It and Other StoriesBook Review: Norman MacLean's near-winner of the 1977 Pulitzer Prize, A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories

    This novella and the two shorter stories that go with it confused me a little.  "A River Runs Through It" is arguably much better by itself; the other two stories read more like genre fiction, even though they are elegantly told, and a certain poker game scene made me chuckle several times (I finished it on the ride home from church and I think my wife was concerned for my sanity).  I’m just not sure this all hangs together as a book.  With the shift in tone from the tragic, deeply personal nature of "A River Runs Through It", to the shenanigans of the U.S. Forest Service, not to mention the fact that the last two stories predate the first one resulting in some anticlimacticism, I can perhaps see why MacLean’s book is only a near-Pulitzer.

    Then again, perhaps my interpretation of MacLean’s novel as a clumsy assortment of narratives is missing the point.  MacLean does seem to have had a strong streak of the historian in him, and as a poet influenced by a poet/historian (he taught Shakespeare at the University of Chicago and every year told himself, “You better teach this (guy) so you don't forget what great writing is like”), it seems reasonable for MacLean to be interested in elevating his couple of informational narrative romps that verge on poetic to something more than just genre fiction, while also understanding that their force as historical documents cannot be compromised.  That combination of poetry and pragmatism could actually be read as gutsy, even “cutting-edge,” and so any dismissiveness you hear in my intonation of the phrase “genre fiction” may be a mistake on my part. Either way, I don’t really care, because the novella that is "A River Runs Through It" is so beautiful it outshines any real failing the overall book has. 

    Look, I hate to fish, at least that’s my memory of it as a kid, I don’t really swim, and the beach can make me crazy, but this story’s engagement with fly-fishing, this thing I don’t really like and don’t understand, is so powerful and its embodiment of the story’s central theme about how someone can love something they don’t understand is so apt, I now feel emboldened to declare, “I love fly fishing.”  See, my life has been changed! Not just because I enjoy pseudo-pretentious, semi-facetious, self-referential (and often self-effacing) communications, but also because I have learned yet another application of the oft-used phrase, “I love …!”  However, if I choose to employ this phrase about fly-fishing, enabling me to launch into a detailed explanation of what I mean and the literary merit of MacLean’s novella, I should probably not open a conversation with this.  I mean, first impressions can be dire, and if my audience has not yet learned to “love” me the misunderstanding a conversation like this could engender could end any real hope for a friendship … kind of like MacLean’s book.  He didn’t win a Pulitzer but would he have if he had re-ordered his stories and made a different first impression, if he had led with the jokiness of "USFS 1919" and built up to the doomed athleticism and artistry of a brother’s fly fishing?  Again, not a good conversation opener for most interactions, but perhaps something still worth batting around among very good friends.

    by Kay S | Sep 29, 2017
    Sometimes when you go digging through the dust and cobwebs of the past, all that happens is a sneeze. But other times you find a forgotten treasure and you say to yourself -- now I know why this author is still around.

    Book Review: 
    The Spinster and the Rake by Anne Stuart.

    The Spinster and the Rake
    by Anne Stuart, 1982.  Written in 1982 by then fledgling author Anne Stuart, The Spinster and the Rake is considered a traditional Regency 1531931romance, but this is much more than just traditional. This book has the beginning of Anne Stuart’s powerful voice and one of her manly-men-dark-heroes which she is known for, (though not as dark as her later ones). While nothing can compare to my favorite Anne Stuart book, The House Party, this one comes pretty close. This is a relatively short book, clocking in at 194 pages. But when the writer is Anne Stuart, you don’t notice the length of the story. You just sit back and enjoy it. Both The House Party and The Spinster and the Rake have recently been reissued electronically.

    Plot, plot, plot. What’s the plot? We can make this really short. Gillian Redford is a thirty-year old spinster who is happy to spend her life going from one of her siblings’ houses to another. While her family takes advantage of her, she is also a favorite of her nieces and nephews. She is not a martyr; she is in control of her life and she doesn’t take too much guff from her siblings. Then we have Ronan Blakley, Marquis of Herrington, and he is one of Anne Stuart’s typical rakes. And, when I say he’s an Anne Stuart rake, I mean he is a real rake, not a pretend rake who is really a good guy in disguise. Well, one rainy evening Ronan and his drunk friend Vivien Peacock rescue Gillian from a carriage wreck. From that moment on, this book is filled with delightful banter, great farce, and occasional deep thoughts.

    9781611947090_p0_v1_s192x300There is also a cute secondary romance thrown in and numerous other little plots -- revenge, wagers, seduction.

    This was a delightful little package which had a mature couple in the center of all the shenanigans which went on around them. If I had any quibble, it was there wasn’t enough of Ronan’s brain-think. Even with that I highly recommend this story -- it has aged well.






    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 Megan B | Sep 28, 2017

    Philip GulleyOn October 12, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. popular Indiana author, Philip Gulley, will be visiting the Main Library. Mr. Gulley is the author of several humorous, lighthearted and relatable books in the Harmony series that chronicle life in the eccentric Quaker community of Harmony, Indiana.

    His new series entitled Hope includes popular titles A Place Called Hope, A Lesson in Hope, and A Gathering in Hope. He has also written a memoir, based upon his small town upbringing, entitled I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood. It was recognized as an Indiana Book of the Year, and was a semi-finalist for the James Thurber Prize for American Humor.

    Mr. Gulley has also written several books of theology, has served as a Quaker minister for thirty years, hosted the television program Porch Talk with Phil Gulley, writes the popular monthly Home Again column for Indianapolis Monthly and is a regular contributor to The Saturday Evening Post.

    Please mark your calendars and join us for a fun, relaxing afternoon with Mr. Gulley.

    by Megan B | Sep 28, 2017

    Jamie Ford and book cover

    Join us at the Main Library on Friday, October 13, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. to hear New York Times best-selling author Jamie Ford discuss his newest novel, Love and Other Consolation Prizes.  For anyone who enjoyed Mr. Ford’s best-selling novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, this is an invaluable opportunity to hear him discuss his powerful new novel set against the backdrop of the 1909 Seattle World’s Fair.  The novel sheds light on a lesser known moment in history when a young boy, who is half-Chinese, is raffled off as a prize.  The story follows his life, love, and ultimate return to the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962.  

    The novel has been described as “beautifully crafted,” “big-hearted,” and “irresistibly magnificent.”  Please mark your calendars and join us for a lovely “after hours” evening that includes a meet and greet as well as a book signing with the author.

    by Audio Reading Service | Sep 27, 2017
    volunteer at ars

    Enjoy reading aloud and empowering others? Volunteer Micki Cooney does!

    "I like volunteering at the Audio Reading Service because not only am I helping people connect to their world, but I'm also making lasting and meaningful connections with other readers from my community for myself. And, the staff there are a wonderful group of funny, talented, kind, and generous people whom I find great pleasure being around!"  

    Micki Cooney

    The Audio Reading Service broadcasts the live reading of both Fort Wayne daily newspapers and the recorded reading of over 40 other publications such as Prevention, The New Yorker and Consumer Reports. Micki reads People magazine.

    This service is provided by the Allen County Public Library at no cost for people who have visual, physical, learning or language challenges to reading traditional print. It provides a means for listeners to stay connected to and included in the community, and improves their quality of life.

    If your skills and passions match our needs, we’d love to have you join our team of volunteers! An interview and audition is required.

    Click here to begin the process of becoming an Audio Reading Service volunteer.

    by Becky C | Sep 27, 2017
    Banned Books warning label courtesy of quirkbooks

    Banned Books Week 2017


    What are banned books?  In short, a banned book is something that someone, at some time, for some reason, decided you shouldn't read . . . ever. 

    Why do librarians love banned books so much?  We cherish everyone's right to read whatever they want to read. 

    Those are the short and simple answers.  Life is rarely simple, however.  Here's a look at some of the best posts As You Like It writers have published over the years, addressing the touchy issue of censorship.

    Reading is your choice. 
    Originally posted September 22, 2014.  Evan explores the reasons why libraries celebrate Banned Books Week.

    Celebrate your freedom to read freely
    Originally posted October 7, 2012.  Becky C shares a video from Bookman's which features individuals reading inspiring lines from frequently challenged books.

    Don't take the freedom to read for granted. 
    Originally posted October 1, 2012.  Evan shares his perspective of our freedom to read in the context of current events.



    All generalism aside, here's a look at specific banned books that we've read -- and why we love them.


    Challenged Books that have stayed with me. 
    Originally posted September 23, 2014.  Carol C gives us mini-reviews of A Wrinkle in Time, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Slaughterhouse Five, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, The Lord of the Rings, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Catch 22, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games trilogy.

    Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt VonnegutOriginally posted October 2, 2012.  Cheryl M considers how Vonnegut's real-life experience as a POW during WWII led to writing this frequently challenged novel.

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    .  Originally posted October 4, 2012.  Becky C declares her love for Atticus Finch in this review.  Beyond that, she considers the various objections to this title -- and why the offending details are necessary to the story.

    Ulysses by James Joyce.
      Originally posted September 26, 2014.  David W considers this frequently challenged book one of the most "well crafted, beautiful, and important texts in western literature." That said, he focuses on the legal challenges this novel faced and why censorship is a slippery slope.



    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Evan | Sep 26, 2017
    In days of yore, board games about history or geography existed mainly to a) teach children the prevailing facts and fallacies, b) entertain those children and c) be pretty. What kaiser kinder could resist a game that looked like Deutschland's Kolonien-spiel did?

    Kaiser's colonies game

    That's from 1890, but as late as 1960 I was reveling in a childish American game called Pirate and Traveler that inspired wonder about geography, even if the art was no longer so elegant. A generation later, however, British game designers started reaching out to adults with such grand -- and very long -- games as Civilization (about the ancient Mediterranean world) and History of the World. 

    The Germans -- longtime lovers of family board games -- quickly outflanked the Anglophones with a tsunami of excellent shorter geography/history games for adults and older children. Tigris and Euphrates looks back 5,000 years and entraps you in its religious and political subtleties. El Grande employs a map of late-medieval Spain to stage a dance of competing courtiers. Amun-Re divides the ancient Nile Valley into 15 regions of shifting value for pyramid builders. 

    An Anglo-American designer, Alan Moon, upped the stakes further with Ticket to Ride, which appeals to adults and pre-teen children -- probably in the millions by now. The original game is set in North America, but I suspect you can place your colored trains on maps of 20 different parts of the world today.   

    My family's current favorite game is Terraforming Mars, which came out last year. The original game is played on a map of part of the Red Planet. We bought an expansion that adds two game boards with different areas of the Martian terrain. Geek glee ensued. 

    Can you actually learn real history or geography from such games? Yes, if the game is well done. Not long ago I was so inspired by playing Brass, a superb game about 18th century western England, that I used Google Maps to see whether any of the canals on the game board still exist. The plain Brass game map can't compete with the colorful one from Deutschland's Kolonon-spiel, but Britain's Industrial Revolution lasted far longer than did the German Empire. And the canals are still there.


    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Becky C | Sep 25, 2017

    Frequently Challenged Books

    Banned Books Week 2017


    Another Banned Books Week is upon us. While it sounds like we're celebrating something illegal, we're not. Banned Books Week was created to celebrate our freedom to read what we want to read.  Every year, the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books -- books that people have attempted to have removed from a bookstore or library.  Many books are challenged in the interests of protecting children.

    Anyone who works in a library has had a conversation about why it's important to maintain a well-rounded selection of books in the collection, even if some of those titles are controversial (for whatever reasons).  We're all in agreement that we want what's best for kids -- but what's best for my kids may not be best for your kids, and vice versa.  And that is why most libraries prefer to leave the book on the shelf and the parenting to the parent. 

    As a parent of three young children myself, I appreciate the variety of books available in the children's and teen departments. It is possible that my kids will encounter something that exposes them to a different set of beliefs/values than we have at home.  I'm okay with that.  Every day, my kids remind me that they are full of questions about the world around them.  It can be exhausting at times, sure, but I am thankful for their curiosity.  When they read something that differs from their background, they ask questions, and this opens the door to some amazing conversations.  (The same thing happens when they overhear something on the playground or on the school bus.)   

    That said, there are times that I have told my children that they need to wait a bit for a certain title.  While I want them to explore their curiosity, I am also aware of their individual comprehension/readiness levels.  Each kid is different -- at least in our house, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the age when someone is ready for the same book.

    Among my deepest hopes for my children are that they are open to self-examination, that they feel and demonstrate compassion for others, and that they grow into adults who are able to consider a variety of perspectives and determine for themselves what feels right.  And finally, I hope that having determined what feels right for them, when their children ask "why", I want them to feel comfortable having that conversation.



    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Kay S | Sep 22, 2017
    Sometimes when you go digging through the dust and cobwebs of the past, all that happens is a sneeze. But other times you find a forgotten treasure and you say to yourself -- now I know why this author is still around.

    Book Review:  The Famous Heroine by Mary Balogh.

    Another lighthearted story by Mary Balogh -- that's two now.

    I have to say that I didn't find The Famous Heroine as funny as The Black Umbrella -- it has one of my pet peeves in it. The hero just cannot forget that other woman he loved, even when the one in his arms is his perfect match. So, it took me a while to like Francis because he was still mooning over Samantha. By the way, Samantha was the heroine from Lord Carew's Bride. Both books are connected to the Stapleton-Downs stories. Just so you know, Mary Balogh's website has a break-down of all her connected books so you don't get lost. This book was released in 1996 and has been re-released as part of a 2-in-1 book with The Plumed Bonnet.

    Cora Downes is a heroine -- and I mean that in every sense of the way. She saved the young son of a duke from drowning. Now the grandmother of said child is so grateful that she has brought Cora to London as a reward. She thinks that being part of society is a great honor. Here's the thing: Cora is sort of accident prone and the saving of the young boy didn't really happen quite the way everyone thinks. In fact, he didn't really need to be saved, but oh well -- now society has a heroine.

    Cora is not comfortable hanging with the elite people. She doesn't fit in. When she meets our hero, Lord Francis Kneller, she is wearing shoes which are too small because 9349851everyone knows men like women with small feet. But now her feet hurt and she's tripping over everything. Francis saves her from embarrassment and she's ever so grateful. She feels perfectly safe with Francis and she jumps to the conclusion that Francis prefers men. You see Francis wears brightly colored clothes, is sarcastic, and has lots of female friends. She becomes very protective of him, especially when she thinks someone is slighting his character.

    Francis, on the other hand, thinks Cora is amusing. She is just the distraction he needs to get over his boo-hoo heart. He is drawn to her, but that leads to two compromising scenes -- the first one they survive, the second one forces them into wedlock. I liked Cora a lot. She's accident prone and has a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. She is also similar to the heroine from Black Umbrella because she is constantly saving things, or maybe I should say she gets credit for saving things -- poodles, horses, the Prince.

    There is a pretty funny scene when Cora is surprised when Francis actually wants her in bed. They talk circles around each other for a while until it dawns on Francis just what Cora thinks -- pretty amusing. By the way, he doesn't change how he dresses. This is pretty close to being a screw-ball comedy, and I would have liked it so much better if Francis would have stopped the Samantha/Cora comparisons sooner.

    And, once again we have another recommendation for an old Mary Balogh's book.


    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 Kay S | Sep 15, 2017
    Sometimes when you go digging through the dust and cobwebs of the past, all that happens is a sneeze. But other times you find a forgotten treasure and you say to yourself -- now I know why this author is still around.

    Book Review:  The Plumed Bonnet by Mary Balogh

    The Plumed Bonnet is another 2-in-1 re-releases of Mary. Balogh's traditional regency. 690059First published in 1996, it is connected to the Stapleton-Downs series. This is a story of misconception and misunderstanding. While the story has a strong beginning, it is a tad bit slow in the middle, but comes to a satisfying ending. The hero of the books is Alistair, Duke of Bridgewater, and he has had a strong presence in some of the previous books. He's the guy in the background handing out wise advice, which he does not follow in his own book. As the story begins he is ruminating about the fate of his friends who were all trapped into marriage. He observes that even though they all appear to be perfectly happy, he isn't about to let anything like that happen to him. No sir, he's going to be on his toes and not fall into any kind of trap. Famous last words.

    As his coach travels along, his eyes are drawn to woman standing along the side of the 9349851road. She is dressed in a fuchsia colored cloak and on her head is a plumed pink bonnet. He instantly jumps to the conclusion that she is a "bird of paradise". For all of you who have never read a Regency novel and are not familiar with that particular cant, a "bird of paradise" is a woman of easy virtue. Now, whether that term is real slang from Regency times, or a term invented by the great Georgette Heyer, is something which can be debated at a later date. But for now, Alistair thinks she's a bird of paradise and he's eager to enjoy her "favors." Well, the supposed bird is our heroine Stephanie Gray and she has run into a bit of trouble.

    Stephanie has inherited a fortune -- sort of. She needs to claim that fortune and in order to do that, she quit her governess job (which she hated), packed her valise of all her worldly goods, put most of her money in that valise, climbed on board a public coach, and headed toward her fortune. Well, on the way she ran into some less than honest folk and everything in her valise was stolen. So, she decided to walk -- what else could she do? Along the way, she ran into some "show-folk" who lent her some stage clothes -- hence the outlandish ensemble. She is ever so grateful for the ride from the nice gentleman. Really grateful, for he saved her life. She proceeds to tell him her story.

    I found the carriage ride scene quite fascinating. Stephanie is perfectly honest with Alistair, she tells him almost her entire story, all about her inheritance and how she was robbed, etc. But here's what Alistair hears: blah, blah, blah. All the time she is telling him the truth, he is thinking she's making the entire story up. He is bound and determined to not believe her and that is because he wants her to be something other than what she is. They travel together a couple of nights; he even shows up in the bedroom thinking to have his way with her. She, on the other hand, thinks he just lost his way; for a kind, fine, gentleman like him would never think of seducing her.

    When they arrive at her soon-to-be inherited estate, she warns him that his presence may be taken the wrong way. She suggests to him that he should just drop her off and she will walk the rest of the way. But Alistair is still stubborn and he wants to see her squirm out of the lies he thinks she's still creating. He wants to see just how far she'll go. He pooh poohs her and walks right into the marriage trap he was trying to avoid. Unlike a lot of Romanceland books, Alistair does not hold Stephanie responsible for the mistake. He knows it's his own stubbornness that has landed him at the altar and he takes it very calmly. It is also at this point that Stephanie finds out that he isn't a Mr. but a duke. Appearances can be deceiving; Stephanie isn't a strumpet and Alistair isn't a Mr. That particular misunderstanding is cleared up. Then the story journeys down another path and here is where some heavy-duty angst takes over.

    The next portion revolves around Stephanie being sooooo grateful to Alistair that she does everything she can to change. She attempts to change into the perfect duchess thanks to some heavy-handed lessons from Alistair's mother. Alistair spends a great deal of time saying the wrong thing to Stephanie which only makes her even more determined to be perfect. When she is eventually the perfect duchess, Alistair realizes that maybe that isn't what he really wants.  But how can he change her back to the woman he realizes he fell in love with?  This is a story filled with some pretty complex people and it takes Alistair and Stephanie a while to realize that neither one of them has to change to be perfect for each other.

    I recommend this story.


    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 | Sep 14, 2017
    FPT Baskerville actors

    Have you been to see Baskerville yet?  If you love a good mystery -- and you love shenanigans -- buy your ticket now. 

    While staying true to the basic storyline of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, Baskerville offers comic relief to offset the otherwise ominous and spooky tale.  For the most part, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, played by Michael Coale and Jim Matusik, remain the serious fellows Doyle's fans are acquainted with.  The remaining cast of 40+ characters are played with fast-paced dexterity by 3 actors:  Todd Frymier, Jim Nelson, and Morgan Spencer.  Liberties are taken.  Farce is afoot. 

    Nearly every scene is played for laughs.  Frymier, Nelson, and Spencer make the most of silly accents and mannerisms to differentiate among the various characters each plays.  Quick costume changes are sometimes deliberately incomplete and props occasionally malfunction -- you may even find yourself handing a prop back to one of the actors -- it's all part of the fun. 

    I saw this last weekend and loved it.  No need to take my word for it though -- you still have two weekends left! 
     
    "Ken Ludwig's Baskerville:  A Sherlock Holmes Mystery" continues at First Presbyterian Theater through September 23, 2017 (260-426-7421 ext 121). 

    Looking for more reinterpretations of this sharp-minded consulting detective?  Look for a booklist next week!

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Evan | Sep 13, 2017
    Book Review:  Life on the Edge by Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili

    Life on the EdgeCertain core mysteries of life -- such as how it first started, how enzymes work, or how a bunch of molecules can be conscious -- have been very hard for scientists to understand. Classical physics, thermodynamics, and organic chemistry have so far come up short.  Starting in the late  20th century, however, a new approach has begun to show promise: quantum biology.

    The idea is that life is different from non-life because it is tied to the weirdness of the sub-atomic world in ways that rocks and water and other inanimate things are not. Life goes beyond the rules of Newtonian physics deep into quantum realities most of us can barely comprehend. 

    For instance, the earth's magnetic fields may trigger minute quantum effects in the brains of European robins that guide them on migrations across thousands of miles. The magnetic fields are too weak to trigger the kinds of chemical changes that normally affect living things, but quantum effects are much more sensitive. 

    Don't take my unsophisticated word for it; read Life on the Edge by biologist Johnjoe McFadden and physicist Jim Al-Khalili.  It is one of the first books on the subject but is only three years old. The authors will hold your hand quite firmly as they guide you through both evidence and speculation about the strange abilities of protons and electrons. They provide new clues to questions that have confounded lifetimes of  biological study. 

    Life on the Edge is, of course, only one of thousands of science books we own. They exist to help you understand what scientists are constantly discovering about how the universe works. One reason your library exists is to make that knowledge available to you. Let us know what we can help you understand. 


    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Emily M | Sep 11, 2017

    Looking for a book recommendation?  Look no further!  Here are a few good books I've enjoyed recently.

    Book Review:  In the Land of Armadillos: Stories by Helen Maryles Shankmaninthelandofarmadillos

    With careful attention to detail and a touch of magical realism, Shankman presents a collection of fascinating and heartbreaking interrelated short stories set in a Nazi-occupied town in Poland during World War II. In her stories, we meet Max Haas, the ruthless Nazi personally responsible for the murders of countless Jews.  Haas wants to keep his “pet Jew”, the illustrator of his son's favorite picture book, alive.  We also meet Pavel Walczak, a Polish Jew-hater who risks his life to save a little Jewish girl.  And Zosha Luft, a young Jewish girl trying to keep her head down long enough to survive.  We meet William Reinhart as well, the Reich Regional Commissioner of Agricultural Products and Services, an Oskar Schindler-like figure, who believes he can keep hundreds of Jews alive by employing them on the massive estate he has commandeered.  And many others.

    Shankman creates complex, realistic characters who don’t fall into simple categories of “good” or “bad” but, like all of us, are made of shades of gray.  Though each of these stories can stand on their own, together they create a narrative in which the whole is even greater than the sum of its parts.    

    Note: This book has also been published under the title They Were Like Family to Me: Stories. 

    Book Review:   thepatriotsThe Patriots: A Novel by Sana Krasikov

    Florence Fein is a twenty-something Jew of Russian descent who emigrates to the Soviet Union from the U.S. during the 1930s.  She's searching for a summer love who has returned to his country -- and a chance at the freedom she believes she will find as she helps build the Soviet “worker’s paradise.”  However, Florence is unprepared for the realities of life there, and with the American government turning its back on American citizens stuck in the Soviet Union, she soon finds herself entangled in a web from which she cannot escape.

    Meanwhile, the nonlinear timeline of The Patriots introduces us to the stories of Florence’s son Leon, who, after being denied his PhD due to Jewish quotas set by the Soviet government, decides to immigrate to the U.S. with his wife and two young children during the 1970s, and Florence’s grandson, Lenny, who, like his grandmother before him, moves to Russia in search of a better life.

    The Patriots is many things: a sweeping family epic, a well-researched history of nineteenth century Russia, and an exploration of political ideas. Coming in at over 500 pages, it is not a quick and easy read; nonetheless, The Patriots is worth your time.

    Book Review:  longbournLongbourn by Jo Baker

    Longbourn is one of many spin-offs of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice published in recent years.  While Austen’s classic was concerned with the loves and trials of the Bennett family, Baker’s Longbourn reveals to readers the loves and trials of their servants: Mrs. Hill, the housekeeper/cook; Mr. Hill, the butler; Sarah and Polly, the housemaids; and James, the newly acquired footman. 

    While Sarah’s love story moves the plot along, what I most appreciated was how Baker shined a new light on the events of the original novel.  Elizabeth’s delightful and invigorating walks through the countryside in Pride and Prejudice meant hours of scrubbing mud-encrusted petticoats with painful, chilblained hands for Sarah in Longbourn.  In Pride and Prejudice Mr. Bingley is charming, handsome, and, most importantly, wealthy; in Longbourn Mr. Bingley’s wealth is revealed to have been obtained through slave labor.  Mary Bennet and Mr. Collins are portrayed as ridiculous and somewhat obnoxious in Pride and Prejudice, but Baker reveals both to be surprisingly sympathetic characters in Longbourn.

    Overall, I found Longbourn to be an enjoyable read that I would recommend for fans of Downton Abbey, Upstairs, Downstairs, and of course, Pride and Prejudice. 


    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 Kay S | Sep 09, 2017
    Sometimes when you go digging through the dust and cobwebs of the past, all that happens is a sneeze. But other times you find a forgotten treasure and you say to yourself -- now I know why this author is still around.

    Book Review:  Lady with a Black Umbrella by Mary Balogh

    Lady with a Black Umbrella by Mary Balogh is one of my all-time favorite Balogh mary baloghbooks. Why? It's funny. Yes, Mary Balogh did write a fun, light-hearted book. This book proves that she can write more than just angst; I just wish she'd do it more often. This is another Signet book, written in 1989 and just recently re-released. It is not connected to any of her other novels.

    Our hero, Giles, Viscount Kincade, is having a bad day. Not only did he lose some money in a card game, but sometime during the night he was robbed. Now, he doesn't have the blunt to pay his gambling debt, the bill from the innkeeper, or the oh-so-charming barmaid he spent the night with. He has promised to pay everything he owes on his return to London and they all have begrudgingly accepted his word. However, he is totally embarrassed. You see, dignity is very important to this man and that is too bad because he is about to meet someone who will make him lose his dignity over and over again -- Daisy Morrison.

    Daisy Morrison is staying at the inn with her younger sister and she is watching the view of the inn's yard from her window. She notices something which the oblivious Giles fails to. There are three men approaching him from different sides and they appear to be up to no good. This thinking proves to be true when the three men start beating Giles up. Well, what’s a girl to do? She rushes to the rescue, along with her curlers, disappearing freckle cream, nightgown, and trusty umbrella. She is incensed and proceeds to whack the crap out of the three attackers. Giles is not necessarily grateful to his savior. In fact, he is just a tad bit afraid of the wild eyed woman -- but he thanks her. He and his black eye get in his carriage and head back to London, hoping to leave all the embarrassing moments behind him. God forbid that any of his London friends should find out.

    umbrellaOne of Giles’ problems is that he left Daisy behind to her own devices. You see, Daisy likes to help others. She must! She must! She must right wrongs! She doesn't care who she must help, she is oblivious to the niceties of society. She is also oblivious to the havoc she creates. Daisy is a delightful heroine. I found her humorous. She is not a TSTL heroine, and just because she is innocent to the things going on around her, doesn't mean she’s written as a farce. Some people may find her irritating, but I believe Ms. Balogh did a wonderful job of writing a refreshing heroine. When Giles, left he didn't know that Daisy was still going to help him. She pays his gambling debt, the innkeeper, and even the lady of the evening for him. Then Daisy and her sister leave the inn and journey on their way to London unaware of how angry Giles will be when he finds out what she's done.

    Indeed, it doesn't take long for stuff to hit any nearby fan. Giles has sent his man to pay his debt, but the man returns and hesitantly tells Giles that everything has been paid -- even the barmaid's inflated fees. In the meantime, Daisy, who is 25, has brought her 19 year-old sister to London. Daisy believes she will make a wonderful chaperon for her beautiful sister. This is another example of Daisy's manner of thinking. She wants only the best for her sister, so she wants to introduce her to society in London. Even though they are wealthy, they really don't know anyone -- so when Giles shows up to confront her, Daisy sees this as a perfect opportunity to introduce her sister. Before Giles knows what is happening, he has promised that his aunt will introduce both Daisy and her sister to society. Of course, Daisy doesn't see the need for herself but she's willing to go through with it -- and, besides that wouldn't Giles make a perfect husband for her sister? Giles never has a chance; Daisy is a whirl-wind. It's a lot of fun watching Daisy right wrongs, save dogs, save prostitutes, and thwart kidnappers.

    All of it was great fun, but along with the fun is Ms. Balogh's trademark slow-building of a love story between our two protagonists. This is a rare light-hearted Mary Balogh book and I highly recommend it.


    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 | Sep 07, 2017
    With the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey, wildfires raging across the Pacific Northwest, and Hurricane Irma pummeling the Caribbean and heading towards Florida, many of us want to help. 

    The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) offers a checklist of things to keep in mind before giving to a charity.  Scammers are out there, ready to prey upon our good will -- and many of them are good at what they do.  Please take some time to review the FTC's checklist.  At the very least, research any charity far enough to make sure it's legitimate.  Scam charities often go by names so similar to actual charities that they manage to snag money intended for a genuine cause.

    A more specific source worth reading is an article recently published by Forbes "Help Houston: 4 Ways to Avoid Fake Harvey Charities."  Among other things, this article highlights some of the highest-rated local non-profits currently working in the Houston area.  It also includes a cautionary note about crowdfunding.

    That said, my Facebook newsfeed has been full of questions about the percentage of donations that go to relief, rather than administrative costs.  If that's on your mind as well, two online resources immediately come to mind:  Charity Navigator and CharityWatch.  Both are reputable sources which provide information on the percentage of donations spent on charitable programs versus administrative expenses.

     

    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
    by Evan | Sep 06, 2017

    John BeattyJohn Beatty is the author of several books and articles about local history. He grew up in Michigan but has ancestral roots in Fort Wayne. He began working on genealogy at age 10 and has been a member of the Allen County Public Library's distinguished Genealogy Center staff since 1984.  

    Q. A person might assume a genealogist reads a lot of history and biography and maybe historical fiction in his spare time. Is that true for you?

    A. I enjoy American and Irish history, as well as biography. I finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Benjamin Franklin late this spring. I don’t read very much historical fiction, but I am interested in reading classic works of fiction that I had missed in my literature classes. My son is a sophomore at Canterbury High School, and he finished Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities.” After he was done, I read it and loved it, so more Dickens will be on my reading list. I also read some theology and poetry.

    Q. Do you have favorite authors, or do you perhaps lean toward favorite subjects?

    A. I’m a big fan of John Meacham and David McCullough. Although they are popular, rather than academic, historians, I consider them muses of mine. They write so extremely well that I wish I could “channel” them in my own writing. In terms of history, I am most interested in the late 18th century, and I tend to be drawn to books about that time period.

    Q. What books have you most enjoyed or have most strongly influenced you?

    A. I’m an Episcopalian and a Christian liberal, and I often find myself drawn to tough theological issues in my reading, including works by the Jesus Seminar. I suppose the “Book of Common Prayer” is my favorite, most influential book (especially the service of Compline). I connect to God through the mysticism of that service. I’ve been greatly influenced by the work of Bishop John Shelby Spong after meeting him in Maine a few years ago. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions or viewpoints, but I appreciate his efforts to bring together science, rationality, history and theology. His latest book on the Gospel of Matthew has literally changed how I read the Bible.

    Q. Were you an early, avid reader as a child? Have there been trends in your reading across your life?

    A. I was not an avid reader as a child. While I read children’s books, I started reading more consistently during and after college. I spent a lot of time reading biographies in my early middle life (everything from presidents to musicians and cultural figures). I have a big personal collection of presidential biographies. Lately, as I said, I’ve been drawn to reading the classic works of fiction that I’ve missed, because I believe they are culturally important, just like seeing a painting or hearing a symphony. I’ve enjoyed Dickens so much that I will probably read a lot more.

    Q. ​What roles have libraries played in your reading outside your professional life?

    A. I have always had a library card from childhood, and I do check out some books that I don’t want to purchase. That is especially true of some biographies and theologies. However, I’m much more likely to purchase an inexpensive paperback of a classic fiction book, rather than check it out, just so I can read it at my own pace and put it down for a week if my schedule gets too busy.

    Q. Do you listen to audio books or stick to the printed word?

    A. Definitely the printed word. I’m a traditionalist in that respect.

    Q. What are some of your favorites among the books and articles you have written? Were your decisions to write them triggered by any particular things you had read?

    A. After the 2-volume Beatty family history that I wrote in 2010 (which I consider my magnum opus), I suppose the Fort Wayne histories are my favorite. My writing interests are often triggered by local history writing that I see being done for other parts of the country. When I see a topic well treated in an article in some journal, it leads me to apply those topics locally. For example, I remember reading an article about prostitution in the West, and it lead me to ask, what happened in Fort Wayne in the 19thcentury? When I viewed pioneer-era portrait paintings in the History Center and read Wilbur Peat’s book about Indiana portrait painters, it lead me to want to find out more about local artists and photographers in the 19th century. There is so much in Fort Wayne that hasn’t been fully explored, especially with regard to social history.

    Q. Please comment on how being an author has affected your reading choices and your reactions to what you read.  

    A. I always want to be a better writer, and the only way to do that is to be an observant reader, looking carefully at the writing techniques of others. Writing history is an art, not a science, and the masters of the craft have beautiful, descriptive ways of telling stories that draw readers into their narratives. Remember, the Greeks had a history muse called Clio. When I read David McCullough, for example, I can hear his distinctive speaking voice telling the story. I try to aim for writing in a way that captures my own voice. With respect to local history, I am always looking for books that treat local history in new, innovative ways. The Genealogy Center has a history of Madison, Wisconsin, by David Mollenhoff titled Madison: A History of the Formative Years. He takes a social-geographical view of his city that should be a model for all local history writing. I draw inspiration from new approaches like this.




    EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
    by Craig B | Sep 04, 2017

    cover for Vic Mensa's album, The AutobiographyI may have found my gateway album to Rap.  I thought maybe it was going to be Deltron 3030 a few years ago, but that didn’t really take.  With Vic Mensa’s The Autobiography, though, I feel like maybe I’ve got an in.  Maybe it’s the confessional nature of many of the tracks -- or maybe I’m just finally ready.  All I know is I had no trouble getting through this album and even started it over soon after I first finished it.

    Suggested Use: Got something to confess?  Let this album get you primed.  Sure, sometimes Mensa postures pretty hard, but he’s kind of earned it and is more than equally vulnerable and transparent throughout the other parts of the album.  Let Vic show you the way.  And to get the confessing started, I have to say in response to that lyric from “Memories on 47th St.”

    “fell over 30 feet / The doctor said I should be dead, still alive and still ain't scared,”

    I’m still alive but I sure am scared.  Maybe Vic can help show me the way.

    by Kay S | Sep 01, 2017
    Sometimes when you go digging through the dust and cobwebs of the past, all that happens is a sneeze. But other times you find a forgotten treasure and you say to yourself -- now I know why this author is still around.

    Book Review:  A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh.

    Now on to A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh. Originally written in 1990, A Promise of Spring is connected to her Web trilogy. It has also been re-released with The Temporary Wife as part of a package.mary balogh

    Have I mentioned before that Mary Balogh is the queen of angst? Now when I say that, I don't mean the kind of angst where the hero has a scar on his face and he can never luv another. No, Ms. Balogh's angst is based on her characters’ insecurities. So, in a lot of her stories there is a plethora of internal thoughts buzzing through our characters’ heads. The Promise of Spring is filled with these thoughts, so be prepared to be bombarded with some heavy-duty contemplation.

    The main contemplation in this story revolves around age difference -- 10 years in fact. What's the big deal, you may ask. Well, it's the heroine Grace Howard who is older than the hero Peregrine Lampman. That means that there are alllll kinds of insecurities to think about. By the way Peregrine is one of the nicest beta guys ever -- almost toooo nice, but more on that later.

    mary BaloghGrace Howard is the sister of Abbotsford village pastor Paul. She's a quiet woman, does her duty, cleans his house, and keeps to herself. She sits in the corner sewing when Paul's best friend Peregrine comes to visit. Peregrine is Mr. Sunshine; everyone loves him. He's charming, charming, charming -- there just isn't anyone who can find a bad thing to say about Peregrine. Then one day Paul is killed while saving a child, and Grace is left all alone and lost. Everyone in the village is trying to figure out what to do about Grace -- and I do mean everyone. But, before any of their plans can be put into action, Peregrine asks her to marry him. You see he's a nice guy and Paul was his best friend, so it's the least he can do. He proposes.  At first Grace turns him down, then thinks better of it. But, before she accepts, she tells him her secret. She is living in Abbotsford because earlier in her life she gave birth to a child out of wedlock. Her child died and she and Paul broke with their family; they left to live out their lives in the small village. She also tells Peregrine that the father of the child died. Here's comes Mr. Nice Guy again -- he indicates that this won't be a problem.

    They marry and begin a quiet life, in the quiet little village -- she tends the garden and sews, and he reads in his little corner. The only fly in the ointment is Grace occasionally wonders if Peregrine will continue to want her after a while. They grow together, they become friends, and they have a great sex life. Well, we all know that this bucolic life cannot continue. Grace has finally worked up enough nerve to write her family that Paul has died. She doesn't expect any kind of reply, so imagine her surprise and concern when she receives an invitation for her and Peregrine to visit. Well, the little gray cells just start chattering away -- not only hers, but Peregrine’s as well. She worries how long Peregrine will be interested in her and he worries how long he can keep her interested in him. She's sooooo old she can't compete with the younger women and he's sooooo much younger he can't compete with the more sophisticated men. After some thinking, they decide to make the step into Grace's past and try to mend some fences. So, more thinking and angst.

     Are you keeping angst count? We have the age difference angst, Grace and Perry's, so that's two angstssss', now we have the family angst which would be the father, another brother and the sister-in-law (allll of them guilt-ridden). But the best angst is about to happen -- guess who isn't dead? Oops, did Grace tell a little white lie? Gareth, the guy who impregnated Grace alllll those years ago, is still alive and now he's the Viscount Sandersford. Guess what else, he still wants Grace. Hey that's not all, Grace doesn't tell Perry that Gareth is the guy, but he finds out anyway. So we have alllll kinds of angst -- the “age thing”, the “family thing”, the “old lover”, the “why didn't she say anything”, the “why isn't Perry saying anything”, the “should I leave Perry”, “should I go with Gareth”. There was so much angst going on my ears started to ring. Even with Ms. Balogh’s gentle cohesive writing all of that stuff was a little tooooo much.

    I mentioned before that Perry was one of the nicest guys ever and I like nice guys in romance books. But Perry needed to be just a little bit more aggressive. Ms. Balogh wrote him as a pretty passive guy; so passive he doesn't do anything when he figures out who Gareth is. Even when Gareth becomes this extra pushy, obsessive guy, Perry remains passive. He lets Grace make up her own mind, afraid all the time that she will choose overbearing Gareth over him. As always with Ms. Balogh, her words are clear and Perry's actions are clear, it's just that I wished that Ms. Balogh had written him saying something -- anything to Grace. Perry does eventually confront Gareth, but Gareth doesn't really care. This was just such a small part in the book, but it weakened the story for me.

     You may think I didn't like this book, but you’d be wrong. I did like it. It wasn't the most comfortable book to read and there are some things I would have changed if I'd written it -- but I didn't. There was a lot of quiet angst that this couple went through to find their HEA. When I finished reading this book I felt drained. I do give it a recommendation, but just remember it may not be your cup of tea and you might need a gallon of wine to help you get through it. This is a great example of Mary Balogh's strong writing.




    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 | Aug 30, 2017
    Image from Dennis Skley flickr page

    How do librarians know what titles are coming out when?  How do we decide which of those titles we'll purchase for the collection?  We have several sources, but Publishers Weekly (PW) is one of my personal favorites.  PW reviews around 9,000 books a year. 

    For this month's post, I've taken the liberty of going through the July issues of Publishers Weekly (PW) and sharing the upcoming releases their reviewers are most excited about.  Each of these titles received a starred review.  We don't have all of these titles in the collection yet -- most are due to hit the shelves in bookstores and libraries next month -- but you can place a hold on your copy now.  Or, if you're like me, and you're typically at the 5 holds per person max, you can keep tabs on your picks a couple of ways.

    My favorite way to keep track of books I want to read is through ACPL's catalog.  Heather wrote an excellent post on how to do this -- click here for the details.  Goodreads and LibraryThing are also options.

    Which of these catches your eye? 


    Fiction coming to the collection September 2017

    Sing Unburied Sing
     The Devouring
     Stone Sky
     The Bedlam Stacks
     Solar Bones
     Fever
     The Hangmans Sonnet
     Faithless
     Autonomous
     Little Fires Everywhere
     The Ninth Hour
     Katalin Street
     Dont Call Us Dead
     Good Me Bad Me
     Lie to Me
     The Downside
     The Man in the Tree
     The Last Outlaw
     Five Carat Soul
     Lightning Men
     White Bodies
     The Quality of Mercy
     An Inconvenient Beauty
     

    Nonfiction coming to the collection September 2017

    The Perfect Cookie
     This Blessed Earth

    Blood and Faith
     
     The Great Shift
     Holy Rover
     The Last Arrow
     The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve
     The Origin of Others
     Ignore It
     After the Eclipse
     Crash Override
     The Riveria Set


    Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..